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Passions in Poetry

Why God?

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Stephanos
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50 posted 12-22-2006 10:33 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

John:
quote:
Yet the Biblical God was the faith of a very small minority and didn’t until relatively recently spread out for the chance to be perverted by anyone.

The theory that monotheism is the end product of polytheism is not so certain as you make it out to be.


Yawehism dates as far back as many of the documented polytheistic expressions of worship.  While the documents of the Pentateuch themselves cannot be directly traced to the ancient times they describe (they are most likely compilations of earlier writings) their history has been shown to be harmonious with what is known of the Ancient Near East.  Of course, like any ancient history, much is in the dark and beyond confirmation or refutation.


Alongside the antiquity of Yawehism (which admittedly may have been henotheistic at times) we have the Genesis accounts where the first human parents and their direct descendents knew God and held a monotheistic recognition of him.  The idea is that through the fall, and a sordid history, this knowledge was forgotten at worst, perverted at best.  One Jewish Sage (Maimonides) in the "Mishneh Torah" explained it this way ...

"In the days of Enosh, mankind made a great mistake... seeing that God had created the stars and constellations... and set them in the sky and gave them a place of honor... they assumed that these were worthy of praise... They began to build monuments and offer sacrifices, to verbally extol them and bow down to them." In the course of time people made representational images, and the worship of idols became widespread."


Not only does this better fit what we know of social entropy, but there are strands of monotheistic tendencies within ancient paganisms, such as the Egyptian cult of Aten, early Zoroastrianism, and the early monotheistic tendencies of Hinduism.  I am certainly not saying that these are directly linked to the later Mosaic religion of the Jews (beyond the primal and prehistorical described in Genesis), but such similarities are striking to me, and make would-be-certain statements about the gradual evolution of monotheism out of polytheism more doubtful.


Stephen.
Essorant
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51 posted 12-24-2006 11:32 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

There are strong arguments though to suggest that portrayals of imperfect pagan gods were improvised in lore to make a portrayal of an all perfect God, that became the biblical God.  

Even in a link that I received a few days ago, it is referred to:
http://www.aninfidelmanifesto.com/home.htm

"Lenaire discusses the progression of multiple imperfect pagan deities that have been transformed over time into one perfect God."

Where do these arguments come from, truths, halftruths, or outright lies?

Stephanos
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52 posted 12-24-2006 01:38 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant,  what strong arguments?  We have polytheistic and monotheistic tendencies side by side in ancient history.  It's interesting that this "evolutionary" explanation of God came on the heels of biological evolutionism, a time in which the philosophical idea of gradual development was applied procrustean fashion to literally everything.  


It's an attempt to explain away, rather than explain.  But you're right about the half-truths part ... There's no doubt that mankind's fragmented conceptions of deity have contained isolated attributes of God.  More like a dropped mirror, than one constructed out of unrelated shards.


Stephen.  
Essorant
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53 posted 12-25-2006 12:28 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

http://personalpages.tds.net/~theseeker/Yahweh.htm

"The evolution of God, from a multitude of various earlier deities to the currently accepted and locally popular version of a single omnipotent deity, is well documented."


Huan Yi
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54 posted 12-25-2006 04:11 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi


Oh No
Lions and tigers and bears!

Stephanos
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55 posted 12-26-2006 11:58 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant,

it would be much more stimulating to hear arguments from the likes of us, than to keep posting someone else's web pages.  I don't mind quotes, as I quote quite a bit myself.  But any serious discussion requires that references be secondary and truly grasping conversation primary.  I could post web pages too, but I would rather explore our own grasp of the topic.  It's kind of like proposing to a woman ... even if someone else could do it better, you wouldn't want them to do it for you.  Of course it might be foolhardy to refuse a little help or advice.  


Stephen.
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56 posted 12-26-2006 01:19 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

What is the point of arguing? We never come to any kind of compromise or conclusion.  I think my arguing days in this forum shall be over for a long time.

Essorant
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57 posted 12-26-2006 03:20 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Sorry, I posted in the wrong thread   


Huan Yi
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58 posted 12-26-2006 03:25 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

Stephen,

I really have to disagree.  It’s if we’re not supposed to read
and think and merely go out into the woods and figure things out
for ourselves.  If that were the case we’d still be in caves worshipping
bears on a flat earth that rested on a turtle’s back in
the dead center of the universe.

John
Essorant
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59 posted 12-26-2006 04:28 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Good point.

My reference was also meant to be an example of fairly strong arguments, to back up my point that there are strong arguments to suggest the God in the bible and much monotheism, is derived from pagan deities of polytheism.

Brad
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60 posted 12-26-2006 04:56 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ah man, you guys have made this point interesting. Why God?

Here's my two cents: Before the scientific revolution, the main thinking about the world is often described as hylomorphism. Hylomorphism is juxtaposed to atomism.

What's the difference?

Hylomorphism: the form remains fixed, the matter changes.

Atomism: the matter remains fixed, the form changes.

Now both idea were, of course, around but the dominant form of thought, or so I am told, was hylomorphism. What follows from that is that the conscious mind (ourselves if you will), its form, is replicated in everything just in different substances. It follows from that that the universe is not possible without God.

Get it?

After the scientific revolution, atomism took over and all of a sudden the universe was different forms, same matter. What this leaves out is consciousness. How does the same matter, in any form, form consciousness?

And that's pretty much where we are today. Today, of course, we talk about materialism (atomism) and dualism (a compromised form of hylomorphism).

The interesting thing here is that even after atomism becomes dominant, belief in God wasn't suddenly thrown out the window. That is a slightly different story and I haven't finished the book yet.

The book, for anyone interested is, "Without God, Without Creed: The Origins of Unbelief in America" by James Turner. It's not a page turner but it is interesting.
Huan Yi
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61 posted 12-26-2006 05:20 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

I don’t think we can deny fear accompliced by
the human trait to seek and find order, sense,
even in chaos as the motivator.  All through
time up to the present when God was not
found to be where he was supposed to be,
on a mountain or a cloud, or taking care of
those who believed, from the Black Plague
to the Holocaust,  man has come up with
a new twist to explain Him still being there.
Why, because without Him the end is more
likely the end and that’s terrifying.  

And I’m not saying a religion that has carrots
and sticks was all that bad.   Without it there might have
been such a sense of pointlessness and futility
that civilization might have never progressed
beyond grass huts.  But it also has and, in it’s
primitive forms still now, is the cause for a great deal
of horror and bloodshed.

Maybe we just can’t handle for the brief time we have
really being on our own.
Stephanos
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62 posted 12-27-2006 12:19 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

John:
quote:
I really have to disagree.  It’s if we’re not supposed to read and think and merely go out into the woods and figure things out for ourselves.


Do you really think I said to do that?  Not at all.  I merely made the point that a philosophy forum is for putting forth premises and their defenses as we understand them.  I myself try to be as well read as possible, and never have pretended that my ideas are original (only that they are correct     ).  

My only contention is that posting links alone, rather than letting others know you even grasp the arguments at hand, is like hiring someone else to do your own job interview.  I'm  certainly not saying that you need get no credentials, by way of prior training, for the job.  

And if it's being well read that you want, I have a reading list for you too, if that's all we're doing here.  But being the kind of forum where ideas in some sense become our own, discussion is paramount.



Kevin:
quote:
What is the point of arguing? We never come to any kind of compromise or conclusion.  I think my arguing days in this forum shall be over for a long time.

and . . .

my reference was also meant to be an example of fairly strong arguments, to back up my point that there are strong arguments to suggest the God in the bible and much monotheism, is derived from pagan deities of polytheism.



I don't see "argument" as necessarily a negative thing in a philosophy forum, as long as it can be done respectfully.  And evidently, neither do you see it as always negative, else you wouldn't be so anxious to show "strong arguments" for one particular way of thinking.  

I was only asking that you do the arguing rather than only posting links.  I'm not suggesting that you can't reference anyone, or even use someone elses ideas.  I would just prefer to hear it from you that's all.  It lets me know that you have some grasp of the issues at hand (which I do not really doubt- it's just that I can't get any response from an author who isn't present).  I certainly meant no offense.  

Brad is a good example for you I think.  He and I do not agree, and yet he has assimilated and expressed ideas as his own, and never merely drops a blog-link without commenting on its content.


I understand that critical thinking and polemics can become wearisome, and that taking breaks are needed (I disappear from the forum from time to time too).  But if you're going to take a break, Joe Blogger doens't begin to take your place.  I miss you too much to let him.  I'd rather save a place for you.     


Am I the only one that feels this way?


Stephen.
  
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63 posted 12-27-2006 03:12 PM       View Profile for Interloper   Email Interloper   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Interloper

God is, and we need not be afraid of death.
Huan Yi
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64 posted 12-27-2006 07:56 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


"God is, and we need not be afraid of death."


Or He isn't, which changes nothing . . .


.
Essorant
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65 posted 01-14-2007 01:30 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"Write me after the first of the year, JCP, and we can talk about what might or might not happen in 2007."

I hope you may come back soon, JCP.  
Stephanos
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66 posted 01-15-2007 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

Christopher:
quote:
I think of the old adage that effectively says that a person doesn’t sit on their death bed wishing they had spent less time with their family and more time at work. I think life as a whole is much the same – I don’t want to sit on my death bed thinking that I shouldn’t have wasted my life gambling on the unfounded promise of a divine hereafter, but instead should have enjoyed the life I had while I had it.


Christopher,

I apologize that I didn't address this sooner.  But I wanted to ask some questions about this, and make some observations.


An atheist sits on his death-bed.  And (given his world-view) his very existence is ephemeral as a bit of fog on a pane of glass.


Theists have typically put forth the idea that death-bed regrets are most often based upon perceived moral failures, and questions about whether or not enough love was shown to others.


I understand this mindset, in light of a belief in God who is both judge and redeemer of earthly actions.  But why would this question be so important for an atheist who is presumably facing personal extinguishment?  What significance does the word "wasted" have upon a situation that will utterly end, especially when spoken at or near that end?    


You might reply that it is out of a concern for others, which would be right whether or not God exists.  (however, I personally question this "big" kind of rightness if God doesn't exist)  But even given that, since the past cannot be changed, and there is no certainty that it will at all matter post-mortem, wouldn't anxiety be fruitless?  At least in the Christian scheme of things, regret of the past can be transformed into hopes of future redemption both personally and for those left behind.  For God can mitigate the effects of failure, and bring good out of bad.  


Therefore the atheist's dying ponderances seem to make less sense than the Christians, given the atheists assumptions about reality.  I guess what I'm getting at, is that pining for something of greater significance in one's last days is more confirming of theism than non-theism.  That's why it was surprising to me that you used this example.  


Where's Huan's grim realism when I need it to make my point?    


I guess what I'm saying is does such a teleology of "wasted versus invested" even make sense at the threshold of atheistic death?


Don't get me wrong, I don't accept Pascal's wager as a stand-alone reason to 'blindly' believe.  I think we have been given the means to a greater certainty than a game of poker. But though you chide the dying Christian for having "gambled", doesn't the truth of Pascal's wager bite at this point?  Given atheism, ten seconds prior to death, thoughts of whether or not life was squandered, seem about as significant as whether one is wearing black or white socks.
      


Stephen.
    
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