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Mislooking for God

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Essorant
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0 posted 06-02-2011 12:37 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

(A saying that came into my mind)

The man that looks for God outside the imagination is like a man looking into the heavens but hoping to find the core of the Earth.
Stephanos
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1 posted 06-03-2011 12:38 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

The imagination is important as it relates to spiritual things.  C.S. Lewis was one of the biggest proponents of "godly" imagination, especially since the atheism of his early adulthood led him to a sterile rationalism that left no room for imagination that meant anything beyond itself.  Being a lover of mythology, he was eventually convinced of the truth of Christianity by a friend (J.R.R. Tolkien) who explained that the story of Christ affected us like any other myth would, except that it happened to be true.  It was the one grand story, which all other stories reflect in some way.  This convinced Lewis that the historicity of the Christian faith, freed it from the chains of complete subjectivism, and yet allowed it all the elegance of mythology, all the beauty of a story that compels.  Therefore he was able to believe that God is found in the human imagination, yes, but certainly not limited to that.

Why should God have no part in the objective reality of his own creation (in History, science, natural laws, in practical living) as well as our imaginations?    

There's really no grounds to say that God can't be seen in any particular direction.  We are told that the "pure in heart shall see God", in whatever direction they are inclined to seek.  The qualification is one's heart, not one's art.  I do see why imagination might be the road of choice for an artist like yourself.  But there are many prosaic types in this world, who have sensed God along other roads entirely.

I would say that the man who thinks God can only be found in the imagination, is like a man who thinks that water can only come through faucets.


Stephen  
Stephanos
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2 posted 06-03-2011 01:16 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Here is a quote from "God in the Dock" by Lewis, that you might find interesting, it is certainly relevant to this thread.  It is written to the rationalist, but it's final sentence "The one is hardly more necessary than the other" answers the romantic as well.  


" ... by becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle. I suspect that men have sometimes derived more spiritual sustenance from myths they did not believe than from the religion they professed. To be truly Christian we must both assent to the historical fact and also receive the myth (fact though it has become) with the same imaginative embrace which we accord to all myths. The one is hardly more necessary than the other."  
Brad
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3 posted 06-03-2011 06:48 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ha!

I see what you are doing, Stephen, and I think it's great!

One quick question: I've read Surprised by Joy(and memorized the poem by the way) and can't remember that Tolkien converted Lewis.  Maybe it's just a faulty memory but where did you get that story?
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quote:
Acts6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost . . . .


Sorry, had to do it.

Stephanos
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5 posted 06-04-2011 11:23 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

The role that Tolkien played in the conversion of Lewis to Christianity is taken from letters that Lewis wrote to his lifelong friend Arthur Greeves.  Here are a couple of excerpts where Lewis refers to a "walk" (a very English passion of Lewis and company) that took place on September 19 1931.  Lewis had invited Tolkien and Hugo Dyson, with whom he conversed, far into the night and early morning.  He relates to Arthur the impact of those moments:


"It was really a memorable talk ... We began (in Addison's Walk just after dinner) on metaphor and myth- interrupted by a rush of wind which came so suddenly on the still warm evening and sent so many leaves puttering down that we thought it was raining.  We all held our breath, the other two appreciating the ecstasy of such a thing almost as you would.  We continued (in my room) on Christianity, a good long satisfying talk in which I learned a lot ..."


Nearly a month later, Lewis wrote Arthur again about the incident in further detail:

"Now what Dyson and Tolkien showed me was this: that If I met the idea of sacrifice in a pagan story I didn't mind it at all: and again, that if I met the idea of god sacrificing himself to himself ... I liked it very much and was mysteriously moved by it: again, that the idea of the dying and reviving God (Balder, Adonis, Bacchus) similarly moved me provided I met it anywhere except the Gospels.  The reason was that in Pagan stories I was prepared to feel the myth as profound and suggestive of meanings beyond my grasp even tho' I could not say in cold prose 'what it meant.'  

Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with tremendous difference that it really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God's myth where the others are men's myths: ie, the Pagan stories are God expressing himself through the minds of poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing himself through 'real things'... Does this amount to a belief in Christianity? At any rate I am now certain (a) that this Christian story is to be approached, in a sense, as I approach the other myths; (b) that it is the most important and full of meaning. I am also nearly sure that it happened...
"



There is also this segment from 'The Inklings' by biographer Humphrey Carpenter:

"Lewis had a particular reason for holding back from Christianity. He did not think it was necessarily untrue: indeed he had examined the historicity of the Gospels, and had come to the conclusion that he was 'nearly certain that it really happened'. What was still preventing him from becoming a Christian was the fact that he found it irrelevant.
    
As he himself put it, he could not see 'how the life and death of Someone Else (whoever he was) two thousand years ago could help us here and now--except in so far as his example could help us'. And he knew that Christ's example as a man and a teacher was not the centre of the Christian story. 'Right in the centre,' he said, 'in the Gospels and in St Paul, you keep on getting something quite different and very mysterious, expressed in those phrases I have so often ridiculed- "propitiation"- "sacrifice"- "the blood of the Lamb".' He had ridiculed them because they seemed not only silly and shocking but meaningless. What was the point of it all? How could the death and resurrection of Christ have 'saved the world'?

Tolkien answered him immediately. Indeed, he said the solution was actually a development of what he had been saying earlier. Had he not shown how pagan myths were, in fact, God expressing himself through the minds of poets, and using the images of their mythopoeia' to express fragments of his eternal truth? Well then, Christianity (he said) is exactly the same thing- with the enormous difference that the poet who invented it was God Himself, and the images He used were real men and actual history.  

Do you mean, asked Lewis, that the death and resurrection of Christ is the old 'dying god' story all over again?

Yes, Tolkien answered, except that here is a real Dying God, with a precise location in history and definite historical consequences. The old myth has become a fact. But it still retains the character of a myth. So that in asking what it 'meant', Lewis was really being rather absurd. Did he ask what the story of Balder or Adonis or any of the other dying gods in pagan myth 'meant'? No, of course not. He enjoyed these stories, 'tasted' them, and got something from them that he could not get from abstract argument. Could he not transfer that attitude, that appreciation of story, to the life and death of Christ? Could he not treat it as a story, be fully aware that he could draw nourishment from it which he could never find in a list of abstract truths? Could he not realise that it is a myth, and make himself receptive to it? For, Tolkien said, if God is mythopoeic, man must become mythopathic.

It was now 3 a.m., and Tolkien had to go home. Lewis and Dyson came downstairs with him. They crossed the quadrangle and let him out by the little postern gate on Magdalen Bridge. Then, Lewis recorded, 'Dyson and I found more to say to one another, strolling up and down the cloister of new Building, so that we did not get to bed till 4.'

Twelve days later Lewis wrote to Arthur Greeves: 'I have just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ--in Christianity. I will try to explain this another time. My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal to do with it.'
"


There may be some other things written in 'Surprised By Joy', but like you, I cannot remember anything so specific as what I've quoted above.  Also, Tolkien seems to only have provided a perspective that helped Lewis along a direction he was already moving in.  For this reason, I don't like to say that "Tolkien converted Lewis", or even to give that impression.    


Stephen

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-05-2011 12:09 AM).]

Essorant
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6 posted 06-05-2011 04:13 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 you take things for what they literally are, Nature as Nature, a man as a man, a tree as a tree, etc, what thing is God as God? What objective thing can you point at and say is "God as God" instead of something else but imagined as God?  I don't believe you have anything, because there is no known "objective" body of God.  Whatever you point at is objective evidence of what you point at.  It is only the imagination where we find a God that we then think the "objective" thing outside our imagination is somehow being reflective of.  We directly refer to objective things but use them as an indirect reference to a subjective God we hold in our imagination.  Without that God in the imagination, how could anything else be interpreted as being or having anything to do with God?


[This message has been edited by Essorant (06-05-2011 05:32 PM).]

Stephanos
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7 posted 06-05-2011 07:17 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ess:
quote:
If you take things for what they literally are, Nature as Nature, a man as a man, a tree as a tree ...


I see what you're saying, but perhaps I don't take these things for granted quite as easily as you do (though I do accept them as realities).  For a start, you cannot confirm that you've ever really encountered a physical object as it is, but only your perceptions of it.  It takes something like faith to even believe that you have a proper conception of what you are experiencing through your senses.


But as to belief in God requiring a physical object to point to ... I would remind you that there is a host of things you believe in, of which you can point to no conclusive physical object.  Things like mathematical realities, emotions, love, and truth.  Yes, there are corresponding things that confirm these realities, but never could you simply point to any object or series of objects and say "this equals that".  


So you are offering a simplistic criteria for certainty, which already doesn't apply to many of your own certainties.  Therefore, such a criteria cannot be used to dismiss God.  I'm not saying that God is identical with any of the non-material things I've mentioned.  But I am pointing out that your criteria (a physical object to point to) only applies to physical objects that you can point to.  Can you prove to me that imagination exists, for example?  Anything you point to, I can invariably remind you, could only be called a result of imagination, not imagination itself.


On the other hand, if you would go on to say that objective realities are always perceived through the mind (ie imagination), then I would agree with you.  That however, is no reason to doubt that there is a corresponding reality that would go on existing without the mind.  Belief in God, would not any different, in this regard.


I am merely answering your philosophical argument.  If you wanted to ask what is the objective evidence for belief in God, you would get a different argument entirely.  But evidence does not always involve immediate physical demonstration.  But as long as you think it does, there is hardly any reason for us discussing things evidential.      


Stephen  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-05-2011 07:51 PM).]

Stephanos
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Essorant:
quote:
We directly refer to objective things but use them as an indirect reference to a subjective God we hold in our imagination.  Without that God in the imagination, how could anything else be interpreted as being or having anything to do with God?


We directly refer to objective things but use them as in indirect reference to subjective objects we hold in our imagination.  Without those objects in the imagination, how could anything else be interpreted as being or having anything to do with reality?


I just wanted to show you that your line of argumentation certainly affects more than belief in God, if it's going to be your plumb line for ontology.


Can't we go back the other way the thread was going?  It was much more interesting.  


Stephen    
Essorant
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quote:
I see what you're saying, but perhaps I don't take these things for granted quite as easily as you do (though I do accept them as realities).  For a start, you cannot confirm that you've ever really encountered a physical object as it is, but only your perceptions of it.  It takes something like faith to even believe that you have a proper conception of what you are experiencing through your senses.



Very true, but we still need an original or natural "reality" there to judge our perception of it by.  What is the original/ natural "reality" that we go by for judging a perception of God?   I don't think we have one.  We are left to judge God by our imagination of him, because we don't have any scientifically measurable objective reality of him to go by instead.   I don't find anything wrong with this aspect.  Why should people continue to look for a God that is "objective" when when there is no objective evidence?  

Everything makes sense if you say "God exists in the imagination".   Even atheists can't reasonably argue with that.  
    

quote:
But as to belief in God requiring a physical object to point to ... I would remind you that there is a host of things you believe in, of which you can point to no conclusive physical object.  Things like mathematical realities, emotions, love, and truth.  Yes, there are corresponding things that confirm these realities, but never could you simply point to any object or series of objects and say "this equals that".


Indeed, I am not saying that there needs to be an objective duplicate for a subjective reality though.   My point actually is that there is no objective duplicate for the subjective reality of God that we can find.   Or to put it another way the subjective reality is the objective reality of God - it is the only "object" we have to go by.   When we look for physical objects to be the evidence of God, they fail to live up to any distinguishable "God", but when when we look in our imagination, the imagination can achieve a "God" quite easily.  


quote:
I just wanted to show you that your line of argumentation certainly affects more than belief in God, if it's going to be your plumb line for ontology.


Not sure about that.  I just meant we reverse the "representation" aspect and think of Nature as representing something in our imagination/art (God in this case) instead of imagination/art representing things we find in nature.   This is a problem in my opinion, because when you expect a subjective thing to be duplicated by an objective thing, it often will not be, but that doesn't mean the subjective thing doesn't exist as a subjective thing.  That is the whole point I am trying to make about God.  God exists in the imagination and we all find him there in one way or another.  But if we look for God in the form of objective evidence, we will be disapointed over and over again.
Stephanos
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10 posted 06-07-2011 09:32 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ess:
quote:
Very true, but we still need an original or natural "reality" there to judge our perception of it by.


Actually Essorant We don't, we only have perceptions to judge by.  If you point to anything as nature or reality, I will remind you (for the sake of this discussion) that your references are 100% perception, and this percentage never flags.


quote:
What is the original/ natural "reality" that we go by for judging a perception of God?


His Creation, the one you exist in right now.  As it takes something like faith to trust your perceptions of it (belief in an objective reality that we subjectively encounter), it takes faith to believe that God is the Author of Creation.

Neither example, of course, can abide by your previous litmus test of immediacy.  Yet both examples have good reason to back them.


quote:
We are left to judge God by our imagination of him, because we don't have any scientifically measurable objective reality of him to go by instead.


You present it as either/or, but it doesn't have to be.  Still, strict quantification leading to conclusivity, is only possible with some (if not very very few) of the things we truly know.  That doesn’t mean our knowledge is “imaginary”, in the sense of being only in our imagination.  Nor does it imply no objectivity exists.  The knowledge of God’s existence isn’t different than any other true knowledge in this regard.




quote:
I don't find anything wrong with this aspect.


I don’t find anything wrong with it either if you’re saying that imagination is important to the spiritual life, or that God is always apprehended through the mind.  But you seem to be saying that God only exists in the human imagination.  But that wouldn’t be God.  The God that Christian Theology describes is a God who would exist even if all people were destroyed, and all of this creation were destroyed.


quote:
Why should people continue to look for a God that is "objective" ...




If he’s not partly “objective” ... in other words, if he has no reality outside of your brainwaves, why would we call him God?  Or why should we?  




quote:
... when there is no objective evidence?




That's your statement.  I don’t concede for a moment that there is no objective evidence.  But evidence always involves inference and interpretation.  Remember that evidence is not the same thing as physical immediacy.



quote:
Everything makes sense if you say "God exists in the imagination".   Even atheists can't reasonably argue with that.


Everything would make sense except calling this figment of imagination “God”.  If he exists only in the mind, then he is not the God of Christian Theology (or God in any sense that I can see), and atheists would be right.  Why would atheists want to argue against the very thing they’ve been saying?




quote:
Indeed, I am not saying that there needs to be an objective duplicate for a subjective reality though.   My point actually is that there is no objective duplicate for the subjective reality of God that we can find.


But you said this in response to my statement that there are many things we are sure of, which have no immediate physical embodiment.  You seem to agree with that much.  Yet, I doubt that you think mathematical realities only exist within the mind.  We infer, from observations, that mathematical principles are woven throughout our universe.  This reality would exist with or without our comprehension ... indeed with or without us (objective reality).  But we cannot produce a physical embodiment for “math”.  Likewise the Creation of God contains a plethora of evidence for his intelligence and creativity.  But it isn’t reasonable to conclude that this evidence exists only in the mind.  It makes more sense to say that ALL evidence is mediated through the mind. 





quote:
When we look for physical objects to be the evidence of God, they fail to live up to any distinguishable "God"




But you speak as if evidential apologists are confusing “evidences” for God himself.  But they don’t.  The distinction is always assumed.  



Remember Essorant, I’m not arguing that God isn’t apprehended by “faith” (A central Tenet of Christianity).  But I am maintaining that there is a plethora of objective evidence for God, and that faith is invariably involved in the interpretation.  I’m also pointing out that “faith” is necessary to believe correctly about anything, since belief is invariably inferential.  



quote:
but when when we look in our imagination, the imagination can achieve a "God" quite easily.




But can you “easily” tell me why this imagination of yours is “God”, or why it should be called such, if there is no objective evidence outside of your mind?  




quote:
 I just meant we reverse the "representation" aspect and think of Nature as representing something in our imagination/art (God in this case) instead of imagination/art representing things we find in nature.




But this is only true, if God really is only in our imagination.  You have to assume this belief, in order to come to your conclusion, in order to see the difficulty you see.  As God does indeed exist apart from human minds, then seeing complexity and beauty in nature, or incidents in history, or remarkable experiences as “evidence”, does not involve reversing anything.  



My point to you, was that even your perceptions of “nature” are 100% perception.  You have to believe by faith that you are encountering (at least partially) a real objective natural world.  It would be absurd for me to insist that your experiences of nature are only imaginary, and that you are only conjuring objectivity out of your brain, out of something completely subjective.  But I could do that!  I could with simplistic reasonableness say this in way that you could never refute.  I am expressing this argument, not to make this argument per se, but only as a kind of reductio ad absurdum.   This, or something like it, is what you’re doing with the knowledge of God.  Your dogmatic mental reductionism (at least about God and how he relates to his creation), leads to no other conclusion.  G.K. Chesterton, in his book “orthodoxy” wrote about the kind of argument where the “ ... mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle.”  He goes on to say, “A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle; but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large ...  A bullet is quite as round as the world, but it is not the world. There is such a thing as a narrow universality; there is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity.”  



I consider any argument that limits (imprisons) God to the subjective, to be this kind of argument.  Similar in type, though not in scope, to the man who doesn’t believe in objective reality for whom (to quote Chesterton again) “the stars (are) only dots in the blackness of his own brain”.  My point is, that no argument for objective evidence will suffice, if the presupposition that God can only be subjective, is taken.  



Therefore I’m only asking you question your presupposition, and to ask what the question might look like if you didn’t assume that procrustean bed of complete subjectivity from the start.  Because for me and many others, something like DNA that holds vast amounts of assembly instructions and organized information, is good objective evidence for God.  And before you discount that too quickly, remember that even from an evolutionary perspective, DNA is the source of imagination, not the other way ‘round.


Stephen
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Stephanos,

quote:
Actually Essorant We don't, we only have perceptions to judge by.  If you point to anything as nature or reality, I will remind you (for the sake of this discussion) that your references are 100% perception, and this percentage never flags.


quote:
But I am maintaining that there is a plethora of objective evidence for God


When people climb a mountain, they all find the mountain, regardless of their perceptions of it.  That is because the mountain exists as an objective "object".    Even other animals will find the mountain, animals that aren't very imaginative or intelligent compared to humans.  What do we have in the form of objective evidence for "God" that we could all generally find if we encounter it and that is there regardless of our perceptions?   How do you decide if God is male or female?  How do you decide if he is omnipotent or not omnipotent?   You could take a dog to a mountain, how would you take a dog to God?  Surely the you would need to give him enough intelligence to be able to imagine a God, because there is no naturally occuring objective object or being that we can find through straight forward natural perception.  We need the artistic imagination.
 

quote:
I doubt that you think mathematical realities only exist within the mind.  We infer, from observations, that mathematical principles are woven throughout our universe.  This reality would exist with or without our comprehension ... indeed with or without us (objective reality).  But we cannot produce a physical embodiment for “math”.  Likewise the Creation of God contains a plethora of evidence for his intelligence and creativity.  But it isn’t reasonable to conclude that this evidence exists only in the mind.  It makes more sense to say that ALL evidence is mediated through the mind.



That is because we use imaginative and indirect ways of referring to things.   Math is just a symbolic way of referring to things that don't naturally occur in the form of math itself.  Just as we don't find any naturally occuring things in the form of numerical equations and such,  we don't find things naturally occuring in the form of a "God".    Generally any animal can see an apple fall out of a tree and acknowledge that it is doing so, and remembering and experiencing something falling before be familiar with the general "principles" instinctively.   But it is only those animals that are intelligent enough to have a symbolic imagination (humans) to present it or think of it in the form of a numerical equation or a "God" somehow working behind the scene - without art and imagination we don't find math or God in an apple falling out of a tree.


quote:
But can you “easily” tell me why this imagination of yours is “God”, or why it should be called such, if there is no objective evidence outside of your mind?  




The same way a fairy in the mind or in art is still a fairy.  We don't base our experience of a fairy on being able to find one naturally in nature because we never find one that way.   We experience it as art/imagination without demanding or pretending that we find it "in the forest" so to speak.    


[This message has been edited by Essorant (06-07-2011 02:50 PM).]

Stephanos
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Ess:
quote:
When people climb a mountain, they all find the mountain, regardless of their perceptions of it.  That is because the mountain exists as an objective "object".



Right, and I've already conceded that there is such a thing as simple physical verification when speaking of physical objects.

You're repeating yourself, instead of answering my two questions.

1) What about non-physical realities, of which we can never produce an 'object' for, and yet have certainty of?  Your criteria does not apply to these (a non-sequitur), and if it doesn't apply to these, then it doesn't apply to God either.  For God is never said to be a physical object.  

2) What about the fact, that you never encounter "objects" directly, but only as perceptions?  Couldn't someone make the very same argument against your objective certainties, after all you never refer to anything that has been proven to be objective, but only to a series of perceptions.


quote:
What do we have in the form of objective evidence for "God" that we could all generally find if we encounter it and that is there regardless of our perceptions?


What do we have in the form of objective evidence for anything that we could all generally find if we encounter it and that is there regardless of our perceptions?  


quote:
How do you decide if God is male or female?


You don't need to.  Male and Female applies to biological creatures only.  We are told in Genesis that God made us, male and female, in his own image.  That tells us that he is the transcendent Creative intelligence behind sexuality and gender.  Sexuality and gender do reveal something of God's character to us (love and generativity), but it doesn't need to be thought of in terms of physicality, if God is a Spirit.  


Since most cultures have associated sexuality and reproduction with things like love and commitment, the better question would be whether this is best explained as a result of chance and impersonal nature, or as the design of a benevolent intelligence?  It is an "objective" evidence for Creation ... However, the interpretation depends upon presuppositions, and upon whether the heart is inclined or disinclined to believe.

I'll grant you this, though I won't say there's no objective evidence for God ... The whole situation differs from an innocuous question about physcial nature, in that God is a person, and there is much at stake for us either way we choose, a lot of existential pressure involved with "belief" or "unbelief".  It is a deeply personal question, as well as one that intersects more objective things like science and history.    


quote:
We need the artistic imagination.


I never said we didn't.  I just said that's not all.  We need the artistic imagination for mountains too.  


quote:
Math is just a symbolic way of referring to things that don't naturally occur in the form of math itself


Right.  My point was that nothing physical in nature is a conclusive example of the universality of mathematical principles, without referring to numbers.  


quote:
without art and imagination we don't find math or God in an apple falling out of a tree.


Right, but I suspect you have enough imagination to know that the mathematical complexities would exist even without us.  Imagination is simply our mode of perception, not a limiter of what we are perceiving.  I think that's the mistake you're making, because I've never suggested that imagination isn't a part of all human knowledge, including the knowledge of God.


quote:
The same way a fairy in the mind or in art is still a fairy.  We don't base our experience of a fairy on being able to find one naturally in nature because we never find one.   We experience it as art/imagination without demanding or pretending that we find it "in the forest" so to speak.


My point exactly.  I don't know anyone who believes in fairies.  

Why not just say you're an atheist?  If you don't believe in the objective evidence for God, it's not because there isn't any, it's because your interpretation of it, based upon certain presuppositions, insists that it's all fictive (and can be no other).

Christians who believe in God, believe that God made this world, and that there is not a better explanation for the complexity and creativity we have seen.  Christians who believe in God believe that our own rationality is a reflection of a higher personal mind, and that there is no better explanation for human rationality (The exact opposite of your argument, since God is the source, not the result of, human imagination).  Christians who believe in God believe that moral realities (that there are real right and wrongs) are best explained by a God whose character is described in the Bible as "righteous" and "holy".  Christians believe that God is the best explanation for certain phenomena that can only be described as miracles.  Christians believe that God has revealed himself in a historical way, through a relationship with humans and human communities, that has left historical sociological and textual "tracks".  I could go on and on.


The imaginary god you describe is not the God that Christian Theology describes.  So again, why should he be called God?  My point is, we are meaning, or referring to, different things entirely.  


But I'll finish by noting that all of these have "objective" points of reference.  It is your interpretation that differs from the Christian Theist, not your mode of knowledge.  The knowledge of God is different from other kinds of knowledge because it is superlative, but like other kinds of knowledge, it is neither wholly objective or subjective, but both.  


Stephen  
Stephanos
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Essorant,

The reason I suspect that this is a matter of presupposition for you, more like a dogma than anything, is that I can could bring up many historical questions about God acting within space-time ... questions of historical plausibility that would never come from a world of fairies.  You would doubtlessly brush them aside, and make these two worlds (the religious and the mythological) equal in every regard.  (it is interesting to note how Lewis made distinction, without ignoring commonality).  For example, Historian N.T. Wright has written a large volume entitled "The Resurrection of the Son of God", where competing theories about the history surrounding Christ, are contrasted and explored in great detail.  Could such a volume, with the same sort of weight, be written about fairies (unless of course, it were a volume conceding the fictive nature of fairies, and discussed it merely as a literary phenomenon)?


To be honest with you, I don't think your presupposition of God as imagination, would even permit you to have such a discussion.  Your circle is complete, as Chesterton noted, but not a large one.  It is for that reason that I said going on to discuss evidential things (the only way in which a claim that God has no objective evidence could be evaluated) would be pointless.  


Ron, for Essorant, can you help me out on this one?  You're usually very good at challenging simplistic epistemic demands.  I am honestly curious as to what you'd say.  You could tell me that I'm way off base.  That's fine.  (Stephen pulls up chair, with hopeful ears)  


Stephen        
Bob K
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quote:


My point exactly.  I don't know anyone who believes in fairies.  

Why not just say you're an atheist?  If you don't believe in the objective evidence for God, it's not because there isn't any, it's because your interpretation of it, based upon certain presuppositions, insists that it's all fictive (and can be no other).



      I can't speak for others.  For myself, however, I refuse to be muscled into an either/or position on this point.  There are more possibilities than fictive or not fictive, and you should know that.  One of the major pre-suppositions in your case is that the discussion is one that yields to logic and a yes or no outcome.  

     I say that the evidence is insufficient either way to make a logical decision.  If a decision can be made at this point, it needs to be made on the basis of faith.  That may be something you can pray for, if you are so inclined.

     If there is a God, that doesn't mean that God will follow the rules that you believe God is obligated to follow.  That also is a matter of faith, not logic, since God is by definition, something too large to be comprehended by man anyway, and any understanding a person has must, by its nature, be fragmentary and incomplete at best.
quote:

Christians who believe in God, believe that God made this world, and that there is not a better explanation for the complexity and creativity we have seen.  Christians who believe in God believe that our own rationality is a reflection of a higher personal mind, and that there is no better explanation for human rationality (The exact opposite of your argument, since God is the source, not the result of, human imagination).  Christians who believe in God believe that moral realities (that there are real right and wrongs) are best explained by a God whose character is described in the Bible as "righteous" and "holy".  Christians believe that God is the best explanation for certain phenomena that can only be described as miracles.  Christians believe that God has revealed himself in a historical way, through a relationship with humans and human communities, that has left historical sociological and textual "tracks".  I could go on and on.



     And, if all this is true, it would be be interesting to know how much of it reflects a fair picture.  The notion that there is a God and the notion that there is a true God are two very different notions, of course.  The one agreement that most surviving religions seem to have settled upon is that it's been worth killing believers who don't agree with them.

     In itself, this would suggest that members of these religions have a faulty understanding of the notion of God, or that the whole notion of God has something basically divisive and contentious about it, or that the notion of God is itself basically a very flawed reflection of whatever whatever actually exists, and that all our attempts to actualize it so far have been at best partial successes.

quote:

The imaginary god you describe is not the God that Christian Theology describes.  So again, why should he be called God?  My point is, we are meaning, or referring to, different things entirely.  



     This begs the question of the God that Christian Theology describes.  You fail to distinguish it as not being an "imaginary God" here and expect that your readers will simply agree with your pre-supposition.  Why should you expect that after disposing of somebody else's notion of God as "false?"

quote:

But I'll finish by noting that all of these have "objective" points of reference.  It is your interpretation that differs from the Christian Theist, not your mode of knowledge.  The knowledge of God is different from other kinds of knowledge because it is superlative, but like other kinds of knowledge, it is neither wholly objective or subjective, but both.  



     If by "superlative" you mean "rooted in faith" as well as supported by reason, I may agree with you.  Though I would have to say such knowledge of God is not limited to knowledge of the Christian God.

     Nice having a chance to chat.

Brad
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quote:
For myself, however, I refuse to be muscled into an either/or position on this point.


Why do you feel muscled into any position?

I don't feel trapped by my position, I doubt if Stephen feels trapped as well.  

I'm not maligning your position, I held it for many years, but I don't think it gives you any more elbow room than my or Stephen's or Ess's positions.

"I don't know" is legitimate but it's no more legitimate than other positions.  I guess the question is the same.  

What would change your mind?
Brad
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16 posted 06-09-2011 05:30 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I just found this, had to share:

after the rapture

In my more frustrated moments I share these thoughts.
Essorant
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17 posted 06-11-2011 02:52 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos,

quote:
1) What about non-physical realities, of which we can never produce an 'object' for, and yet have certainty of?  Your criteria does not apply to these (a non-sequitur), and if it doesn't apply to these, then it doesn't apply to God either.  For God is never said to be a physical object.  


Any non-physical reality that doesn't require being imagined I think is objective or natural.  You don't need to imagine instinct/emotions in order to experience them, for example.   But instinct/emotions can certainly stir up imaginative things and be delayed or distracted into more trained or artistic responses, giving artistic/imaginative adjustments to to instinct/emotion (which now become "thought" "morality" "philosophy" "politics", "religion" etc).  This is where God comes in.  When these artistic/imaginative adjustment are made, instead of going directly to the meat, the animal puts himself into mazes of math, letters and gods along the way.   It makes seeking the meat a lot more interesting!  And confusing!  And enlightening!


quote:
What about the fact, that you never encounter "objects" directly, but only as perceptions?  Couldn't someone make the very same argument against your objective certainties, after all you never refer to anything that has been proven to be objective, but only to a series of perceptions.


I referred to climbing a mountain to express that is not climbing a "perception" of the mountain.   The mountain is objective not just for humans, but for other animals that obviously have less intelligence or imagination.   We don't need to make it up in our imagination, even though we still use perception to acknowledge it.    We also don't try to say "DNA is evidence of the mountain" "the complexity of nature is evidence of the mountain" "Christ is evidence of the mountain" etc. because the mountain itself is evidence of the moutain and we can explain natural forces involved in the evolution of mountains such as seafloor spreading and continent-plates "colliding".  Can we do the same for God?    If there were a chapter in a science book about God, what objective evidences/explanations/experiments would we include?


quote:
We need the artistic imagination for mountains too.  


If you physically find a mountain, why would you need "artistic imagination" to determine the mountain is there?  
quote:
My point exactly.  I don't know anyone who believes in fairies.  


I do!  Why shouldn't I?  I don't even need to say "believe"  I know they exist in art and imagination. There is ample evidence of them of them being there!   Fairies existing as art is not just art but science because it has proof and you can experiment by simply drawing a fairy, proving on the spot that a fairy exists in art.  Therefore, it makes sense to believe in them as art.    
quote:
Why not just say you're an atheist?  If you don't believe in the objective evidence for God, it's not because there isn't any, it's because your interpretation of it, based upon certain presuppositions, insists that it's all fictive (and can be no other).


Because not finding any objective evidence is not the same as not believing God exists at all.  I find God in the imagination.  Why should I be considered atheist just because I admit that I don't find him "objectively"?    


quote:
Christians who believe in God, believe that God made this world, and that there is not a better explanation for the complexity and creativity we have seen.  Christians who believe in God believe that our own rationality is a reflection of a higher personal mind, and that there is no better explanation for human rationality (The exact opposite of your argument, since God is the source, not the result of, human imagination).  Christians who believe in God believe that moral realities (that there are real right and wrongs) are best explained by a God whose character is described in the Bible as "righteous" and "holy".  Christians believe that God is the best explanation for certain phenomena that can only be described as miracles.  Christians believe that God has revealed himself in a historical way, through a relationship with humans and human communities, that has left historical sociological and textual "tracks".  I could go on and on.



Why do you need to "believe" if there is objective evidence?  If there is objective evidence shouldn't you be able to find it, prove it and know it, rather than just "believe" or "imagine" it?  If I say "God is not good, but evil.  He causes earthquakes, destruction, death".  Though it is not a way either of us would wish to imagine God, how can either of us disprove it with objective evidence?

 

[This message has been edited by Essorant (06-11-2011 03:37 PM).]

Bob K
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     How bizarre!  Simply because Stephanos and Essorant have not agreed on a standard of evidence for what constitutes objective proof, then Essorant must be an Atheist!  This doesn't seem to follow.

     What seems clear is that no discussion has gone on that is enough to satisfy both of you as to what objective proof might be, and what would make it acceptable to both of you.

     I rather doubt that such an agreement is possible, personally.  Essorant has a position that states that he does believe in a deity, but that his deity is tied firmly to imagination.  This does not sound like an Atheist to me, but a believer, albeit an eccentric one.  I believe that Essorant's deity may be as resonant for him as Stephen's is for Stephen, though it is in many respects quite a different deity in many ways.  I think that it may be unacceptable to Stephen for any number of reasons, but one of them should not be that there is no belief in a God involved.

     Unless Stephen is suggesting that all men are Atheists who do not believe in Stephen's version of God.  And I don't think Stephen would do that intellectually, though he might have strong feelings about the matter.

     I may certainly be misreading the entire situation, of course.

     Brad, I believe, has asked the question, What would cause you to change your mind?  

     Since my mind is not made up, that would be a tough question to answer.  I would be nervous about direct revelation, having spent years working with mad folk, who are brimming over with direct revelation, though the sources can be varied and dubious, and the nature of the revelation can make you wonder why God would require extra pairs of dirty socks or the person's own physical parts.  I have no reason to believe my own revelation to be any more dependable than anybody else's.  Or, really, any less.

     The best I've been able to do is to dig down to whatever I have that seems common between myself and others.  That helps between myself and others, and it helps anchor me to something larger than myself.  How I would give that a name, or ascribe anything to it except as a matter of hope or faith, though, I haven't the least idea.  I still don't know.
Brad
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quote:
How bizarre!  Simply because Stephanos and Essorant have not agreed on a standard of evidence for what constitutes objective proof, then Essorant must be an Atheist!  This doesn't seem to follow.


Why not?  You make it sound as if "atheist" was somehow a pejorative term.  It's not.  Ess could just as easily argue that Stephen is an atheist for not accepting his description.

So what?

quote:
What seems clear is that no discussion has gone on that is enough to satisfy both of you as to what objective proof might be, and what would make it acceptable to both of you.


I don't see this at all.  I see an argument over definitions.

quote:
Unless Stephen is suggesting that all men are Atheists who do not believe in Stephen's version of God.  And I don't think Stephen would do that intellectually, though he might have strong feelings about the matter.


Again why not?  Why isn't he suggesting that?

quote:
Since my mind is not made up, that would be a tough question to answer.  I would be nervous about direct revelation, having spent years working with mad folk, who are brimming over with direct revelation, though the sources can be varied and dubious, and the nature of the revelation can make you wonder why God would require extra pairs of dirty socks or the person's own physical parts.  I have no reason to believe my own revelation to be any more dependable than anybody else's.  Or, really, any less.


Actually, I was thinking about the other direction.  In Falling Rain's Buddhist thread (in the Lounge) you say you follow Taoism.  Where are the gods in Taoism?  It is an atheistic "religion", is it not?  

Okay, that's a pregnant statement.  I'll probably live to regret saying that.  

quote:
The best I've been able to do is to dig down to whatever I have that seems common between myself and others.  That helps between myself and others, and it helps anchor me to something larger than myself.  How I would give that a name, or ascribe anything to it except as a matter of hope or faith, though, I haven't the least idea.  I still don't know.


Humanism?  Pantheism (the God of Spinoza and Einstein)?

My rule of thumb:

How do you live your life? If you live your life as if there were no god or gods then you are an atheist.  You can still doubt the assertion that there are no gods.  I think Stephen commented somewhere that on my view there can be agnostic theists.  I don't see why not.  

militant agnostics
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Taoist deities, quick and dirty.  I don't pay attention to them; my fascination is with the notion of Tao itself and the Tao te Ching and the I Ching and the water path rather than the fire path as well as some of the meditative practices, which serve me as spiritual practice in a concrete sense.
http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/religion/taoism/system.htm

     About actual Gods themselves, respectfully, I have no idea.

     What it mean to act as if there were one is something that seems unclear to me.  So many people make so many different claims about so many different kinds of Gods, exactly how would one have to act?  So many of the claims contradict.  

     How does one act in living one's life as if there were no God or Gods?  It seems there's no particular model for that either.

    
quote:
:
How bizarre!  Simply because Stephanos and Essorant have not agreed on a standard of evidence for what constitutes objective proof, then Essorant must be an Atheist!  This doesn't seem to follow.

Brad:
Why not?  You make it sound as if "atheist" was somehow a pejorative term.  It's not.  Ess could just as easily argue that Stephen is an atheist for not accepting his description.

So what?



     Sorry, but Stephen often makes it sound that way to me, and atheists often make it sound as though they feel that way in discussions with the religious.  It seems the reverse is true as well, in terms of how folks feel treated.

     "So what?"

     It seems like a difficult way to discuss a topic should some sort of understanding be desired, and should some sort of respect be felt to be the bedrock of basic discussion.  Nobody asked me what my preferences would be, certainly; but I will horn in and say that my preferences lie in that direction.  That's what.

quote:
:
What seems clear is that no discussion has gone on that is enough to satisfy both of you as to what objective proof might be, and what would make it acceptable to both of you.


I don't see this at all.  I see an argument over definitions.




     Then I stand corrected, and you can get right to answering the question I was suggesting.  What objective standards have the two of you agreed upon that would satisfy the both of you about the existence or non-existence of God?  

     I haven't been able to detect any in my scanning of the discussion so far.

quote:
:
Unless Stephen is suggesting that all men are Atheists who do not believe in Stephen's version of God.  And I don't think Stephen would do that intellectually, though he might have strong feelings about the matter.


Again why not?  Why isn't he suggesting that?



     You'd have to ask Stephen that, wouldn't you?  For my part, I think that he wouldn't do so out of  basic politeness, but that's simply a theory;  I haven't seen Stephen indulge in rage that way that I can remember, while I have been guilty of it from time to time.  I believe Stephen is a good man.

quote:
:
Since my mind is not made up, that would be a tough question to answer.  I would be nervous about direct revelation, having spent years working with mad folk, who are brimming over with direct revelation, though the sources can be varied and dubious, and the nature of the revelation can make you wonder why God would require extra pairs of dirty socks or the person's own physical parts.  I have no reason to believe my own revelation to be any more dependable than anybody else's.  Or, really, any less.


Actually, I was thinking about the other direction.  In Falling Rain's Buddhist thread (in the Lounge) you say you follow Taoism.  Where are the gods in Taoism?  It is an atheistic "religion", is it not?  

Okay, that's a pregnant statement.  I'll probably live to regret saying that.  



     I tackled that first, above.  No reason to regret saying  it.  You're a pal and I don't see you as acting badly.

quote:
:
The best I've been able to do is to dig down to whatever I have that seems common between myself and others.  That helps between myself and others, and it helps anchor me to something larger than myself.  How I would give that a name, or ascribe anything to it except as a matter of hope or faith, though, I haven't the least idea.  I still don't know.


Humanism?  Pantheism (the God of Spinoza and Einstein)?

My rule of thumb:

How do you live your life? If you live your life as if there were no god or gods then you are an atheist.  You can still doubt the assertion that there are no gods.  I think Stephen commented somewhere that on my view there can be agnostic theists.  I don't see why not.  

militant agnostics




     Suggestions are always welcome.  I don't see myself as a militant agnostics, though, simply because I don't want others to do my self-definition for me.  It tends to pique my interest in defining my self for myself.
Stephanos
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Bob
quote:
I can't speak for others.  For myself, however, I refuse to be muscled into an either/or position on this point.  There are more possibilities than fictive or not fictive, and you should know that.  One of the major pre-suppositions in your case is that the discussion is one that yields to logic and a yes or no outcome.


I'm not saying that "fictive/non-fictive" is the only possible category.  I am saying that given what Christian Theology says about God, there would be no meaningful distinction between atheism and a merely literary god.  Your categories don't feel that the objectivity of God is important, and I'm merely pointing out that both Christianity and Atheism (in their own ways, one affirming the other denying) disagree.


quote:
I say that the evidence is insufficient either way to make a logical decision.  If a decision can be made at this point, it needs to be made on the basis of faith.  That may be something you can pray for, if you are so inclined.


But faith is not merely a "gaps" phenomenon.  Since no knowledge is comprehensive, I daresay faith is simply the power to believe what is best and true in the absence of the most rigorous certainty.  That's why objectivity is never left out of the equation, though it's also never the whole picture.  

quote:
 That also is a matter of faith, not logic, since God is by definition, something too large to be comprehended by man anyway, and any understanding a person has must, by its nature, be fragmentary and incomplete at best.


By definition?  According to Christian Theology, God, though transcendent, is a God who has made himself known in History, for whom there is evidence, and who may be ascertained by the human reason.  So, while I certainly accept your appraisal of being “fragmentary and incomplete at best”, I can’t accept a philosophy which artificially divorces God from the objective world altogether.    

Romans 1:19,20a “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made ...

2 Peter 1:16 “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

quote:
The one agreement that most surviving religions seem to have settled upon is that it's been worth killing believers who don't agree with them.


The only problem with that statement Bob, is it doesn't account for the many "religions" who believe nothing of the kind, in particular those Christians who take Jesus' statements in the Gospels as historically accurate, all those statements about loving and praying for your enemies.

Vilification by Generalization has little weight, when we have the kinds of "tracks" that I'm talking about.  

quote:
In itself, this would suggest that members of these religions have a faulty understanding of the notion of God, or that the whole notion of God has something basically divisive and contentious about it, or that the notion of God is itself basically a very flawed reflection of whatever whatever actually exists, and that all our attempts to actualize it so far have been at best partial successes.


And I somewhat agree with all but the second statement, since human nature (religious or not) is what "has something basically divisive and contentious about it".  So I think you've left out the possibility of sin ... of "knowing the right, and not doing it", because violence in a Christian context is hardly defensible given the sayings of Jesus Christ.  And we've had many good examples of peacemakers in this regard (though not nearly enough).

quote:
This begs the question of the God that Christian Theology describes.  You fail to distinguish it as not being an "imaginary God" here and expect that your readers will simply agree with your pre-supposition.  Why should you expect that after disposing of somebody else's notion of God as "false?"


I only dispose of somebody else's notion of God as "false" in the same sense that fairies are "false" ... something which, in this conversation, was ceded from the start.  If you say that you believe in God in the same way you believe in fairies, then the rest is semantics.  We've clarified things somewhat.  

As far as "begging the question" is concerned, that's not quite true.  I have been reticent about an in depth discussion of evidential apologetics, when objective evidence has been philosophically neutered from the get-go.  

The kind of god Essorant describes in his intro, the kind who has no footing or claims in the objective world, akin to fairies, would rule-out a serious discussion of evidences.  Neither am I saying that he can't call it "god".  What I am saying, in a Chestertonian way, is that this god is a small god, since for most of us, the objective world means a great deal, as well as our subjectivity.  The Christian conception of God, who touches objectivity and subjectivity, is more in line with all that it means to be alive.  

quote:
How bizarre!  Simply because Stephanos and Essorant have not agreed on a standard of evidence for what constitutes objective proof, then Essorant must be an Atheist!  This doesn't seem to follow.


That’s a misrepresentation of Essorant’s argument.  It’s not that we’ve disagreed about what constitutes objective proof.  Essorant has made the objective world hermetically separate from God altogether.  There can be no agreement as long as Essorant says the whole subject matter doesn’t apply.  For him, speaking of objective evidence for God is like asking how the color red smells.  Do you disagree, that this is what Essorant is saying?  You’re saying my response to Ess is wrong, and yet I don’t think you’ve understood his argument.  
  

quote:
Unless Stephen is suggesting that all men are Atheists who do not believe in Stephen's version of God.  And I don't think Stephen would do that intellectually, though he might have strong feelings about the matter.


Of course I'm not saying that Bob.  I am saying that all men are essentially atheists who believe God is wholly imaginative.  And thus far, since Essorant has necrotized objectivity as it relates to God, I can't understand Essorant in any other way.  And all of this is coming from a poet, a C.S. Lewis Fan, and someone who places GREAT value in the subjective, even the mythological.


Brad:
quote:
Why do you feel muscled into any position?

I don't feel trapped by my position, I doubt if Stephen feels trapped as well. 




Thank you, Brad.  I think it’s important to recognize the lines drawn in all of our beliefs, there’s no escaping the fact that we think one way is “better” than another.  That doesn’t have to be bad if we treat each other well.



 
And Ess, I’ll try and respond to you soon.  Been quite busy.


Stephen
Stephanos
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Essorant
quote:
Any non-physical reality that doesn't require being imagined I think is objective or natural.


But my point was, there are things for which you could never simply point to a corresponding object.  I never said they didn't have an objective dimension.  God, likewise, has the same objective dimension inasmuch as he is involved with the universe, his creation ... and yet no one can simply point to an object and say "Here's God".  There are of course those alleged moments in history where the hand of God has been more demonstrable than at others, particularly those instances spoken of in the narrative of the Gospels.  We could ask whether mythologizing theories make more sense than the literal, in interpreting these narratives.  But I really don't know if that kind of discussion is warranted here, since I'm still trying to convince you that real objectivity, when it comes to God, is a live option.  Until that possibility is established, discussing particular instances of history or experience will be fruitless, since their validity seems to be ruled out by you a priori.


quote:
I referred to climbing a mountain to express that is not climbing a "perception" of the mountain.   The mountain is objective not just for humans, but for other animals that obviously have less intelligence or imagination.   We don't need to make it up in our imagination, even though we still use perception to acknowledge it.


Right, and you've dodged the question again.  You can never point to anything related to the mountain, that would not be known through perception.  This includes others who would seem to verify the mountain, such as hikers or animals.  These too, can only be known by sensory perception.  The "Thing in itself" is unavailable to you.  You have to go by faith.  

My argument here is not so much to induce the kind of skepticism that usually accompanies these observations (made by Kant and others), but rather as a reductio ad absurdum, to show that your insistence on simple directness, as an epistemological test, fails on the most basic level.


quote:
"DNA is evidence of the mountain" "the complexity of nature is evidence of the mountain" "Christ is evidence of the mountain" etc. because the mountain itself is evidence of the moutain and we can explain natural forces involved in the evolution of mountains such as seafloor spreading and continent-plates "colliding".  Can we do the same for God?


No of course not, for God is not a mere object.  Neither could you do the same thing for mathematics, logic, beauty or love.  On the other hand, the complexity and "information-richness" of DNA, does require an explanation, for which God is the best.  Information rich systems are best explained by a mind, or something like a mind.  Therefore, when we are told, biblically, that God created an intelligible universe, it fits the puzzle more than other explanations.

Check out "The Signature of The Cell" by Stephen Meyer, for a scientific take on Intelligent Design exhibited by the micro-machinery in the Cell.  Though these kind of books aren't popular in mainstream secular culture, there is much to be said about ways in which science confirms faith.


quote:
I do!  Why shouldn't I?  I don't even need to say "believe" (In fairies)  I know they exist in art and imagination.


But fairies don't exist otherwise.  They are projected and creative images of humanity and nature.  That was my point.  I'm just pointing out that you don't really believe in Fairies in the sense that a person of the old world did.  Literary and artistic fiction, is a different ontic level right?  When you say that God is like fairies, you are denying the Christian God, which says that the creativity and intelligence of human beings itself requires a source.  If you make man the source of god, then man is still unexplained.  If you say, man needs no explaining (beyond mechanism), then I simply disagree with you, as do most others.


quote:
Because not finding any objective evidence is not the same as not believing God exists at all.  I find God in the imagination.  Why should I be considered atheist just because I admit that I don't find him "objectively"?


Okay, whatever you want to call it.  In a Christian sense, this is indistinguishable from atheism (a description not applied to those monotheists who believe differently about the nature of God).  Perhaps you could answer this question:  

In what way, considering your view, is God distinquished, in essence, from say Mickey Mouse or Gumby?

quote:
Why do you need to "believe" if there is objective evidence?  If there is objective evidence shouldn't you be able to find it, prove it and know it, rather than just "believe" or "imagine" it?


Because I never said that there isn't a subjective element to faith.  Though we have objectivity, we are not presented with something altogether free of the possibility of misinterpretation.  For example, I think there's damn (I don't use that word frivolously here) good evidence that the Jewish Holocaust happened.  And yet, there are many historical revisionists who interpret it otherwise.  If it was as plain as you say 'objective' things should be, they wouldn't even try to make their shaky case.  The best and most upright of lovers may be, and have been, doubted.  

I think you might be confusing a degree (even a large degree) of objectivity, with absolute indubitable clarity and demonstrability.  This middle-ground makes sense if human love and will are called upon, in this whole question.  There's a lot of room in between a grid-locked demonstration, and having nothing objective whatsoever.

quote:
Though it is not a way either of us would wish to imagine God, how can either of us disprove it with objective evidence?


We can't, at least not wholly.  There is certainly a subjective aspect to these kinds of questions.  However, when I see the love of God displayed for us in the person of Christ upon Calvary's Cross, I am also taking something else "objective" into account.  I'm certainly not saying the question is an easy one.  I'm just saying that subjectivity and objectivity have their places in the discussion.

Stephen          
Stephanos
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23 posted 06-16-2011 05:59 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad:
quote:
I think Stephen commented somewhere that on my view there can be agnostic theists.  I don't see why not.

That's not exactly what I meant.  By your previous description of agnosticism (which seemed to me to be little more than the practice of thoughtfulness and critical thinking skills), I was only saying that you've described some Theists, even devoted Christians that I've known/observed.  I was not arguing for the possibility of an agnostic Theist (for there would be one definite article of faith about which he is not agnostic).  I was arguing that virtues of the "agnostic" method, by your definition, are simply the virtues of careful consideration and application of intellect.  We argue truly about conclusions only, I think.  But yes, terminal indecision, is still a decision.  

Stephen  
Brad
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since 08-20-99
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Jejudo, South Korea


24 posted 06-17-2011 11:54 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Pascal's wager?
 
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