I can't really stand it when Tom discusses atheism/agnosticism

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Quote Antifascist:

I think any valid counter-argument would apply universally to the same, or variations of the same, position whoever held to them.

And there is another more complex reason.

The great logician and teacher of Wittgenstein, Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege (b. 1848, d. 1925), said that it is “necessary to distinguish a proposition from its sense, thus opening up the possibility that two propositions could have the same sense and yet differ in the ideas associated with them.” Wittgenstein wrote that "The actual sense of a proposition is the same for everybody; but the ideas which a person associates with the proposition belong to him alone...No one can have another’s ideas.” I think propositions using the term “atheism” are a good case of this distinction. It is clear that “atheism” has ideas associated to it that are different than mine, yours, Zenzoe, and CeciAtea.

Interesting point from the Frege link:

"To ground his views about the relationship of logic and mathematics, Frege conceived a comprehensive philosophy of language that many philosophers still find insightful. However, his lifelong project, of showing that mathematics was reducible to logic, was not successful."

Reminds me of Einstein's quest for the Unified Field Theory. If someone devotes the better part of their life pursuing something that they never quite achieve, are they a failure? The only failure is not trying at all, right?

This proposition related to atheism is drastically altered by our various individual ideas we bring to the table.

Laborisgood's picture
Laborisgood
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Quote D_NATURED:
Quote rigel1:
Quote Zenzoe:

My sentiments, exactly.

But Thom doesn't get it, so we'll just have to accept this as his atheist delusion.

As a conservative, I like Thom. I would rather watch five hours of Thom than five minutes of Hannity. The problem I see with athiests is they are so damned sensitive. They get their feelings hurt and become defensive at the slightest hint of religion. A little tolerance might be in order.

It's deeper than that. I belong to a group called DAFT (Denver Atheists and Free Thinkers). We meet at a Chinese restaurant once a month to hang out with people like ourselves. There have been places that have rejected our business because of why we meet... because of our "religious" beliefs. How should that upset me less than it would a Christian, rejected for the same reason?

You should be upset and that is unacceptable in a civilized society like ours. I would like to add that earlier in this thread, I agreed with the over-sensitivity comment by Rigel as related to tolerance. I still agree with Rigel, but only to the extent of over-sensitivity and not so far as to be accepting of blatant bigotry against any group. I would hope that Rigel would agree that the blatant bigotry you experienced is not acceptable. But, then again, he's likely to claim that the private property rights of the Chinese restaurant trumps your 1st Amendment rights.

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Laborisgood
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The paradox of free-will as I understand it is fundametally a logical dilemma, and thus independant of the question of the materialist (natural)/theist (supernatural) debate. If my nature is "x" (good, bad, greedy, stupid, etc.) such that I will always make decision "y" in situation "z", then is the outcome of "z" not determined in some way that contradicts the premise of free-will inherent in the notion of choice? Whether my constitution is physically or metaphysically based, my nature is "x" which leads to "z" in situation "y".

I think the notion of materialism prevelent in common debate is derived from Marxism and 19th century scientific paradigms less that Newton, Kant, etc. Even to suppose that Newton ushered in an age of dualism by creating a scientific paradigm which legitimized the Cartesian philosophy of subject and object is probably a fallacious oversimplification. The real crux of the debate has revolved around the importance and nature of the vital principle in life. In the time of Newton, physics and calculus did not challenge the notion of the soul. Thus is was possible to conceive of a materialist paradigm without it challenging certain traditional metaphysical notions (and their applicability, eg to speak of the "spirit of the age" as opposed to the "zeitgeist"- the latter etymologically related to metaphysical notions but used in a way which reflects the subjective psychological basis of mass-psychology). By the nineteenth century, investigations into natural phenomenon had rendered the distinction between matter and energy such that energy became the focus of the search for the "vital principle." The idea that the principles or laws of nature applicable to large scale events, the movement of planets, the trajectory of a missile, etc., could be related to fundamentally similar types of laws which govern the processes of life and also of thinking and perceiving indicated that the behavior of energy would eventually be comprehended in a scientific paradigm wherein the behavior of is conceptualized in a manner consistent with the behavior of matter. Of course, the discoveries of Einstein led to this type of materialist paradigm being rendered obsolete, as matter and energy have come to be seen as different forms of the same phenomenon. This should have been, or perhaps was, predictable to those who saw the pursuit of atomism as the route to reveal the fundamental basis of nature. The prejudices of religios metaphysics probably led many to view energy as being a fundamentally different type of phenomenon precisely because the natural sciences had identified its importance to life processes. See: Franz Mesmer

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Quote Laborisgood:

D-Natured:

Do you say that religion, as a whole, is absolutely incapable of achieving spirituality? I don't disagree that organized religion often misses the boat or has salesman selling something other than spirituality, but would you go so far as to say that religion and spirituality are 100% mutually exclusive? Do you believe there has never been one person in the history of civilization who has successfully achieved spirituality through religion. Seems like a tall order, wouldn't you say.

Of course religion (and the grand scope of ideas encompassed within) can inspire humans to recognize their own spiritual identity. Anything that makes you get over yourself can do that. Could and has religion done that? I don't know. Like I said, spirituality is the ingredient they advertise on the front of the box but the product "religion" contains a lot of shit you wouldn't normally want to consume. No man really knows anothers spiritual perspective, though, outside that person's ability to articulate their feelings, which at the end of the day are just feelings...even if we feel they are something more than that.

Humans seem to need an answer for every fucking thing. That is, perhaps, our curse...the tree of knowledge perhaps. I think it was our need to at least have an explanation for the inexplicable that has driven our species' religious history. The devices of the greedy and power hungry could not, alone, explain how so many could be so robbed by so few for so long. For all of their gold and blood and children they got a pay back. Namely, an answer they could live with.

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Quote Laborisgood:
Quote D_NATURED:
Quote rigel1:
Quote Zenzoe:

My sentiments, exactly.

But Thom doesn't get it, so we'll just have to accept this as his atheist delusion.

As a conservative, I like Thom. I would rather watch five hours of Thom than five minutes of Hannity. The problem I see with athiests is they are so damned sensitive. They get their feelings hurt and become defensive at the slightest hint of religion. A little tolerance might be in order.

It's deeper than that. I belong to a group called DAFT (Denver Atheists and Free Thinkers). We meet at a Chinese restaurant once a month to hang out with people like ourselves. There have been places that have rejected our business because of why we meet... because of our "religious" beliefs. How should that upset me less than it would a Christian, rejected for the same reason?

You should be upset and that is unacceptable in a civilized society like ours. I would like to add that earlier in this thread, I agreed with the over-sensitivity comment by Rigel as related to tolerance. I still agree with Rigel, but only to the extent of over-sensitivity and not so far as to be accepting of blatant bigotry against any group. I would hope that Rigel would agree that the blatant bigotry you experienced is not acceptable. But, then again, he's likely to claim that the private property rights of the Chinese restaurant trumps your 1st Amendment rights.

There's the contradiction between capitalism and liberty. Capitalism also conflicts with Christianity in many ways, but that's another story. The restaurant has a right to deny us their service based upon our words but our words are just a natural extension of our individual spirits. As Americans-Chinese decended or not- free expression should be an important principle to defend.

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Nimblecivet-I cannot explore everything you explore. I do diagree with your position that the free-will relates directly to either the materialist/immaterialist or mecnanist/anthropormorhic debates. Yes you can draw the free-will notion into a question for propositional logic but for me at least that is not saying anything definitive about the scope of the free-will question.

To me it seems clear that if we accept something approximating a Newton/LaPlacian solid state metaphysics then free-will in its common sense construction is impossible.

Do you find the last sentence to be incorrect or missing the point in some manner?

Semi permeable memebrain's picture
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Quote D_NATURED:
Quote Laborisgood:
Quote D_NATURED:
Quote rigel1:
Quote Zenzoe:

My sentiments, exactly.

But Thom doesn't get it, so we'll just have to accept this as his atheist delusion.

As a conservative, I like Thom. I would rather watch five hours of Thom than five minutes of Hannity. The problem I see with athiests is they are so damned sensitive. They get their feelings hurt and become defensive at the slightest hint of religion. A little tolerance might be in order.

It's deeper than that. I belong to a group called DAFT (Denver Atheists and Free Thinkers). We meet at a Chinese restaurant once a month to hang out with people like ourselves. There have been places that have rejected our business because of why we meet... because of our "religious" beliefs. How should that upset me less than it would a Christian, rejected for the same reason?

You should be upset and that is unacceptable in a civilized society like ours. I would like to add that earlier in this thread, I agreed with the over-sensitivity comment by Rigel as related to tolerance. I still agree with Rigel, but only to the extent of over-sensitivity and not so far as to be accepting of blatant bigotry against any group. I would hope that Rigel would agree that the blatant bigotry you experienced is not acceptable. But, then again, he's likely to claim that the private property rights of the Chinese restaurant trumps your 1st Amendment rights.

There's the contradiction between capitalism and liberty. Capitalism also conflicts with Christianity in many ways, but that's another story. The restaurant has a right to deny us their service based upon our words but our words are just a natural extension of our individual spirits. As Americans-Chinese decended or not- free expression should be an important principle to defend.

Agreed. Liberty (and justice) for all. Neither our economic system nor our religion should unduly infringe upon another American's life, liberty or pursuit of happiness.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

This has reminded me (post #257) of something that happened many years ago. A professor offered a class on Wittgenstein’s later work, Philosophical Investigations. At the beginning of the first class on the first day, he announced that the syllabus would be primarily concerned with Wittgenstein’s analysis of logical positivism’s verification theory and not “metaphysical issues like theology.” About one third of the class walked out. I should of walked out with them. One third less meat to teach. The class was cancelled. I would of remembered if I took a course from the ***hole[sic].

Hedges is right on in this critique of academia in “Illusion of Empire,” Chapter 3, Illusion of Wisdom, “The flight from the humanities has become a flight from conscience. (IE, pp. 111).” Wittgenstein left the University of Manchester, England, engineering department and traveled to Cambridge in 1912 to study with Bertrand Russell after reading “Principles of Mathematics.” It was in Cambridge that the Tractatus started to take form and he tried to workout thoughts about language and logic. And I often wondered how could it be possible today for a student to enter an University based on curiosity, religious conviction, or even a compulsion to research and study these issues. “The elite universities disdain honest intellectual inquiry, which is by its nature distrustful of authority, fiercely independent, and often subversive.”(IE, pp.89). Hedges quotes a Yale English professor, “Deresiewicz wrote ‘…Places like Yale, as one of them put it to me, are not conducive to searchers. Places like Yale are simply not set up to help students ask the big questions.’ “(EI, pp. 107). “They exist to make the system work, not to examine it. “(EI, pp. 98).

American and English speaking universities do the best job of squeezing out the mysticism from Wittgenstein's investigation of Language and Logic.

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“The elite universities disdain honest intellectual inquiry, which is by its nature distrustful of authority, fiercely independent, and often subversive.”(IE, pp.89)

Of course they do. They make their money selling themselves as knowers of stuff, not searchers for truth. The religous institutions have the same weakness. Namely, a huge insecurity about their percieved legitimacy. They both don't realize that saying "I don't know" lends more legitimacy than being wrong.

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Quote nimblecivet:

The paradox of free-will as I understand it is fundametally a logical dilemma, and thus independant of the question of the materialist (natural)/theist (supernatural) debate. If my nature is "x" (good, bad, greedy, stupid, etc.) such that I will always make decision "y" in situation "z", then is the outcome of "z" not determined in some way that contradicts the premise of free-will inherent in the notion of choice? Whether my constitution is physically or metaphysically based, my nature is "x" which leads to "z" in situation "y".

I think the notion of materialism prevelent in common debate is derived from Marxism and 19th century scientific paradigms less that Newton, Kant, etc. Even to suppose that Newton ushered in an age of dualism by creating a scientific paradigm which legitimized the Cartesian philosophy of subject and object is probably a fallacious oversimplification. The real crux of the debate has revolved around the importance and nature of the vital principle in life. In the time of Newton, physics and calculus did not challenge the notion of the soul. Thus is was possible to conceive of a materialist paradigm without it challenging certain traditional metaphysical notions (and their applicability, eg to speak of the "spirit of the age" as opposed to the "zeitgeist"- the latter etymologically related to metaphysical notions but used in a way which reflects the subjective psychological basis of mass-psychology). By the nineteenth century, investigations into natural phenomenon had rendered the distinction between matter and energy such that energy became the focus of the search for the "vital principle." The idea that the principles or laws of nature applicable to large scale events, the movement of planets, the trajectory of a missile, etc., could be related to fundamentally similar types of laws which govern the processes of life and also of thinking and perceiving indicated that the behavior of energy would eventually be comprehended in a scientific paradigm wherein the behavior of is conceptualized in a manner consistent with the behavior of matter. Of course, the discoveries of Einstein led to this type of materialist paradigm being rendered obsolete, as matter and energy have come to be seen as different forms of the same phenomenon. This should have been, or perhaps was, predictable to those who saw the pursuit of atomism as the route to reveal the fundamental basis of nature. The prejudices of religios metaphysics probably led many to view energy as being a fundamentally different type of phenomenon precisely because the natural sciences had identified its importance to life processes. See: Franz Mesmer

Wow, Mesmer is not only responsible for mesmerize, but animal magnetism too.

They say Newton viewed himself as more of a theologian than a scientist and the focus of most of his writings reflected that. I find it fascinating how science and theology were so tightly tangled up before many of the modern scientific advances. To this day, I still don't see them at odds nearly as much as some claim. Perhaps my preference of Newtonian over Quantum Physics says less about my view of science than it does about my view of theology. How else could I accept such a simplified version of free will which is based upon billiard ball collisions?

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Laborisgood wrote....

If my nature is "x" (good, bad, greedy, stupid, etc.) such that I will always make decision "y" in situation "z", then is the outcome of "z" not determined in some way that contradicts the premise of free-will inherent in the notion of choice?

[X> ( Z>Y )] > ~[(Z>Y) * ~( Z > Y)]

Well, it is a tautology, " then is the outcome of "z" not determined in some way that contradicts the premise of free-will inherent in the notion of choice?" The consequent is a tautology ~[(Z>Y) * ~( Z > Y)] , that is it cannot be falsified.

The antecedent's truth value is irrelevant for a conditional, if the conditional's consequent is always true. So let [X> ( Z>Y )] = P, and let ~[(Z>Y) * ~( Z > Y)] =Q

(P > Q)

1.T T = T

2.T F= F

3.F T = T

4. F F = T

A conditional is only false in truth table line 2 above.

[X> ( Z>Y )] > ~[(Z>Y) * ~( Z > Y)]

T T F T F T F

F F F

T

F

F > T

Regardless of the true value of X, true of false, the conditional is true. Proof by Reductio Ad Absurdum.

And here is the kicker, "nature" implies no free will. That is the way these determinism arguments always go. Also, tautologies are not bad if they are just a form of expression. However, often they are presented as arguments which is fine if they are clearly seen as tautologies. All logically valid arguments are themselves tautologies which merely means they are consistent. But arguments cannot merely be consistent; they must also be true and these are called "sound arguments."

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Yes, because again I think the point at hand is determining whether something we perceive- namely, free-will- exists as we perceive it/experience it/understand it. "Free-will" as a metaphysical concept means precisely that the the spiritual qualities of an intellegent being are such as to allow them a range of latitude in action. This range of latitude may be limited by physical reality, but I have range of choices within that framework. I can only jump so high. However, I can choose to jump when appropriate. For example, in a basketball game. When I choose to jump I am exerting my will to physically move my body in a way that is counter to the law of gravity. I am not thereby defying or negating the law of gravity, but I am exerting the physical capacity of my body as a member of a species which has evolved to have this ability.

One philosopher who attempts to broach this metaphysical question is Henri Bergson:

Quote Bergson:

If the unknowable reality projects into our perceptive faculty a "sensuous manifold" capable of fitting into it exactly, is it not, by that very fact, in part known? And when we examine this exact fitting, shall we not be led, in one point at least, to suppose a pre-established harmony between things and our mind—an idle hypothesis, which Kant was right in wishing to avoid? At bottom, it is for not having distinguished degrees in spatiality that he has had to take space ready-made as given—whence the question how the "sensuous manifold" is adapted to it. It is for the same reason that he has supposed matter wholly developed into parts absolutely external to one another;—whence antinomies, of which we may plainly see that the thesis and antithesis suppose the perfect coincidence of matter with geometrical space, but which vanish the moment we cease to extend to matter what is true only of pure space. Whence, finally, the conclusion that there are three alternatives, and three only, among which to choose a theory of knowledge: either the mind is determined by things, or things are determined by the mind, or between mind and things we must suppose a mysterious agreement.

But the truth is that there is a fourth, which does not[Pg 206] seem to have occurred to Kant—in the first place because he did not think that the mind overflowed the intellect, and in the second place (and this is at bottom the same thing) because he did not attribute to duration an absolute existence, having put time, a priori, on the same plane as space.
...pg 206 cont....
but that intellect and matter have progressively adapted themselves one to the other in order to attain at last a common form. This adaptation has, moreover, been brought about quite naturally, because it is the same inversion of the same movement which creates at once the intellectuality of mind and the materiality of things.

Unless one accepts this type of argument then the distinction between metaphysical and physical law is rendered moot insofar as there can be no metaphysical law. All ideas, concepts, etc. are aspects of a product, our subjective awareness. So convincing is our impression of exteriority that we cannot accept that our knowledge does not reveal the nature of things to us as objects of our awareness. So immediate appears the connection between the world at large, with us in it, to what we must assume to exist as a function of our logical deduction, that is the metaphysical as integrated with the physical, that we do not accept that true knowledge is not available to us. A more nuanced approach to the question may be possible in the form of assessing the "limits" of knowledge:

Quote Scientific American magazine:

Physicists seeking to understand the deepest levels of reality now work within a framework largely of Susskind’s making. But a funny thing has happened along the way. Susskind now wonders whether physicists can understand reality.

Which makes me wonder about the possibility of relating the following to the previous:

Quote a reviewer at archive.com:

The book Khandanakhandakhadya composed by Shri Harsha-who wrote probably before the eight century-is the most famous and important treatise of the Vedanta. As its name implies, destructive criticism, of the most thorough going kind. The thesis upon which the entire work is based is that nothing can be explained-neither any factor or worldly phenomena nor the ultra-phenomenal consciousness or Brahman. All is inexplicable anirvachniyam; no adequate explanation can be provided of anything. In fact so thorough going is the 'inexplicability' propounded that our author is denying the reality of Word also as a means of cognition; and yet, it is upon Vedic texts that he bases his notion of non-duality. The author has adopted, is to submit the definitions which the Logicians gives of the main categories and main cognitional activities, to a critical investigation, which leads to the results that all those definitions are found to suffer from inner contradictions and hence untenable.

There was a copy of this at the Seattle library in English. I seem to recall the conclusion being something more conventional as in the inability to resolve problems logically was a proof of "godhead" (Brahman), but whatever. It was great because its actually a debate between him, a couple of Buddhists, and a Jain. Wish I had a copy. I don't think Bing translator does Sanskrit. Maybe antifascist can help us out.

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nimblecivet
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Yes, that's really good. Love Bergson and first I read of his critique of Kant. And the best strategy in this debate of Free Will is to question the assumption that technical reason-- which is so good at manipulating objects-- can be validly applied to the self-reflective, self-transcending subject.

OCCUPY CAIRO

Vassals fear new words,

When we tire of whispering

And say our own name.

by Jed brandt

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Zenzoe quote...

Shakespeare wrote:

This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time.
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,

What is't but to be nothing else but mad?

Antifascist's quote...

He who has no touch of the muses' madness in his soul comes to the door and thinks that he will get into the temple by the help of the art, he, I say, and his poetry are not admitted; the sane man is nowhere at all when he enters into rivalry with the madman. (Plato's Dialogue, Pheadres, 245.)
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Unless one accepts this type of argument then the distinction between metaphysical and physical law is rendered moot insofar as there can be no metaphysical law.

I am confused by your usage of metaphysics Physics is always at least a subset of any metaphysics, so I do not understand how there could be a distinction between the two

For those following this at home Bergson,s theory also rejects determinism Probably why you never here it used by the leading atheists such as Dennet or Dawkins

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You sent me running to Wikipedia to look up "metaphysics" with that question. A decent article there actually, so it was worth it. I'm using the definition that the author describes as having developed through an erroneous reading of Aristotle by "Latin scholiasts, who thought it meant 'the science of what is beyond the physical'." This "erroneous" definition is what confounds metaphysics with theology. So the advancement of science from natural philosophy which the author describes leaves us today attempting to disentangle philosophy from theology, in my opinion. Its the "erroneous" definition which is the correct one, and indicates that metaphysics becomes obsolete along with, or as, theology.

Quote Nietzsche, in The AntiChrist:

The theologist-instinct in German scholars made out what was now once more possible...a back-door path to the old ideal now stood open, the concept of a "true world," the concept of morality as essence of the world (these two most virulent errors that exist!) were again, thanks to a wily-shrewd scepticism, if not demonstrable, at least no longer refutable...Reason, the prerogative of reason does not reach so far...A "seemingness" had been made out of reality; a world, completely fabricated by a lie, the world of "what is," had been made reality..The success of Kant is merely a theologist success: Kant, like Luther and like Leibniz, was an additional drag on not-too-sound German uprightness:-"

But not to make too light of your question; I think to equate a recognition of the validity of "transcendentalism"- the notion of totality and its relevance- with the original definition of metaphysics as positied by the author of the Wikipedia article is a superficial equivocation and a fallacy.

Quote Wikipedia author:

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world,[1]...

Nevertheless, there is a sort of scientific metaphysics that seems to be necessary given the mutability of "natural law". According to the Discovery Channel (I'm rapidly becoming an expert on these subjects, so if you have any questions about "the world's most dangerous prison gangs" let me know; National Geographic has done a bang-up job of covering the topic), gravity came into being before matter as we know it. Each state of existence is said to have a set of characteristics which ralate to the succeeding state in a cause-and-effect manner. At no time, however, are we analyzing data which is not ultimately derived from empirical observation and analysis. Thus, while the original definition of "metaphysics" can still be used it really only points to a conceptual heirarchy in physics which describes the interrelation of different states of observed phenomenon on the cosmological scale (black holes, etc.). The philosophical question of "the Universe in itself" is still, as far as I know, one roughly delineated in my previous comment.

I've also been partial to Taoism, of the Tao Te Ching, although I'm not sure to what extent the notion of change there is limited by the cycles of nature. There is of course the Chinese zodiac, but I think that Taoism lacks the astrological character of other systems of anceint thought, including apparently, or at least according to some, that of Plato. According to this tv-media production I watched yesterday, Newton wrote about the relevance of astrological ages to human history. I just looked over a list of his works and I'm not sure exactly where he might have talked about that. From what I saw there, more of an interrelationship might be found between his "theological" works and the philosophy of Giambattista Vico. According to the narrator of the aforementioned production, the advent of the theory of evolution rendered this work of Newton's irrelevant. Exactly how that might be the case could be examined in light of the disentanglement of subjectivity from objective history, of the philosophical from the scientific. And of course, Hegel's treatment of Aristotle, etc. would be important to seeing how these ideas have been parsed out in relation to each other, vs. Schopenhaur's pessimism, etc.

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Quote Antifascist:

Well, it is a tautology, " then is the outcome of "z" not determined in some way that contradicts the premise of free-will inherent in the notion of choice?" The consequent is a tautology ~[(Z>Y) * ~( Z > Y)] , that is it cannot be falsified.

...

Regardless of the true value of X, true of false, the conditional is true. Proof by Reductio Ad Absurdum.

And here is the kicker, "nature" implies no free will. That is the way these determinism arguments always go. Also, tautologies are not bad if they are just a form of expression. However, often they are presented as arguments which is fine if they are clearly seen as tautologies. All logically valid arguments are themselves tautologies which merely means they are consistent. But arguments cannot merely be consistent; they must also be true and these are called "sound arguments."

The consequent can be falsified in specific cases. If I later attribute a different motive for a particular action. But the determinist paradigm still rests upon the belief that the individual forms a part of a whole and is only behaving according to over-arching laws which could be used to predict the future if all knowledge was available to and comprehendable by one making such a prediction. These laws are empirically based. Yes, epistemologies or paradigms can be modified, disproven, replaced, created, etc., but determinist argument always go that way because of the assumptions inherent in the science UberParadigm.

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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

A lot has been said since my last post. I would quickly remind rigel that "tolerance" is a liberal specialty, and what we need more is a way to hold religion to "intellectual and moral integrity" in ethics, and to keeping their metaphysics and myths heuristic rather than science or history. A story is always a story, and myths and metaphysics exist, but not ontologically. I think this is true of the theistic construct for the sacred as well.

It was not a serious problem until we could see deep into space and examine the interior of our bodies and brains because this knowledge made the imaginary construct of a Divine Being just beyond the firmament, that is, very close indeed--and of a Soul that is like our heart or kidneys. Now, we know too much to believe in these constructs. But, that does not mean that what these beliefs were about has gone away.

There is a greater need than before to call out bad religion, not "incorrect dogma" or "the wrong religion," but the stuff that corrupts every religious tradition and the behaviors that go against its civil tolerability. We have to stop the religious warriors from the politics of conscience. This is beyond toleration. This is about living together in peace.

Were atheism merely the rejection of theism, we could avoid a lot of confusion. The campaign against religion or to demonstrate its terrible history and reason not to be part of it is often "evangelical" in the sense that the apostles of atheism are out to discredit religion in general rather than joining in the distinction between the good and the bad forms of religion. What makes this issue discussion difficult is the fact that people who have these beliefs and express them are gong through their own spiritual journeys and should not be operating entirely as self-observant players. That is what the modern university teaches that keeps the observer from recognizing themselves in their subjects. It is a recipe for non-involvement.

As we get down into the depths of "free will," I think the point is that the "both/and" and the sense that the meaning is not going to be found in defined answers to questions, per se, makes this not "either/or" nor formulaic. We have responsibility for doing what we can and operating with as much awareness as we can muster. We are also lacking sufficient information to know enough to be responsible for our own salvation other than in working with the material we encounter. Grace does not turn us into pawns. As I have posted elsewhere, thinking we have saved ourselves or achieved success by our own effort squelches compassion for those who do not emulate us. It is often stated in the "If I can do it, so can you."

There is a lot to admire in those who strive and overcome. When it is combined with humility and a desire to make the path broader and easier for those coming behind, we honor "saints" and "heroes." When we ask why the uber rich are so unwilling to invest in the rest of us, particularly when very marginal investments from their wealth could do so much for so many, the answer is not that we just have the worst bunch of aholes in the history of the world. Or since the French Aristocracy before the Revolution. The problem is that we make them and reinforce this in them by our culture and by our own ideas of 'free will.'

I would be more than willing to give up religion if the "realists" would give up managing others from their Logical Positivist certainties. "Both/and" is what the Trinity is about. It is about more than one thing being true at the same time without being able to be conflated. What we are learning for sure is that the reality around us is not linear, literal or "definable." It always involves more than one truth at the same time, and the heruistic models of paradox and tautology help us see the zen of our epistemological challenge.

Being able to enjoy the incompleted and to embrace ambiguity without losing contact with meaning and purpose is part of being alive and in process. New Years Joy to all, and we are going there anyway so we might as well be "happy."

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I would be more than willing to give up religion if the "realists" would give up managing others from their Logical Positivist certainties. "Both/and" is what the Trinity is about. It is about more than one thing being true at the same time without being able to be conflated. What we are learning for sure is that the reality around us is not linear, literal or "definable." It always involves more than one truth at the same time, and the heruistic models of paradox and tautology help us see the zen of our epistemological challenge.

LOL! Thank you DRC. That was a very good commentary. I always look forward to your insights.

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I think there is some chicken and egg here. If many of the publicly visible atheists are those who pensive liberal describes as reacting to discrimination then it may be more undertstandable that there are persons who are reacting to the reactivity of the public atheists.

Also I am not sure politics is necessarily the proper testing grounds for general discrimination in America. Is it a problem, and does it mean something? Yes. But at the same time I am familiar with a lot of subculture where it is the religous person who suffers the ridicule of the ahteist majority

So yes tI would agree that christian fundamentalism has too large a hold on our political process and the media, and that this is the source of most of the discrimination against atheists., But at the same time I do not see that process as indicative of the day to day life at the local level

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I don't doubt that is Thom's position, but possibly if he thought about it he would also add that whatever ism you might believe in, it is simply wrong to discriminate against those who do not adhere to that favored ism.

I very much suspect it is the descrimination against atheists that makes some of them take the militant stands that they do. Any group that is discriminated against has some justification for standing up for themselves - even if those not in that group find it a bit annoying.

Do atheists suffer from discrimination? Well, can any politician admit to being an atheist?

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Let's not pretend that the Christianityification of the privately-owned cultural commons comes without social implications.

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It would help a lot to separate the criticism atheists get for atheism from that they get from being outside the Cult. Believe me, those who embrace Liberation Theology as Christians are not on the Right's religious team either, and what they say about us is every bit as bad or worse than what they say about the merely 'godless.'

The political and cultural fact that a proclaimed 'atheist' would have a hard time running for President hardly addresses how 'lip service' works to defuse this problem. As long as one embraces the general beneficial "Christian values" frame, it hardly matters what the Rightwing President believes or whether he goes to church. Those indictments remain for the President who does not represtent the Godly Faction even or particularly if that President is a serious Christian who disagrees with the Cult.

I would suggest that his is less about being an atheist than the idea that 'secularism' threatens their American narrative of being God's Chosen and Destined. I go back to the language and the actual question involved for atheists being theism and not religion in general. When it becomes the latter, it has an antagonistic agenda that does provoke opposition. Avoid such things for good reason. Criticize bad religion, but not just "religion" or expect to have yourself trumped by the facts.

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My questions are, if the smartest person you know is an atheist, should you be atheist? And, if the smartest person you know is a theist, should you convert?

Certainly a theist genius and a theist moron are not acting on the same information, or are they? How can I trust that my doubt or my faith are well justified when people with powers of intellect greater than my own disagree with me? How can free will exist in an information vacuum?

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You should be what makes sense to you, and while the mentor/model of others can be deeply influential, your "faith journey" is your own. How you deal with religion is your choice, but what you deal with in the people around you and how you decide to use religion or not has your personal context and I cannot tell you what you ought to do. If you think I should or could, you need to move on.

I have rejected the current utility of theism because, like Newtonian Physics, even though it once worked well enough to be the accepted truth, what we now know (thanks to Newton) is that the model cannot explain the cosmos anymore. The concept of God, the Divine Being in a Heaven just above the earth, or any ontological entity "out there" now must "exist" beyond the range of our scientific vision. "God" becomes far too distant to matter or to be what God was in theology earlier.

The idea of the Sacred does not disappear, but it has to be reimagined and reconsidered as we deal with other dogma, such as secularism. Rather than propose that we get to "reality" by getting rid of the sacred myths and metaphysics, we need to see reality as more than the secular in which it has been packaged. Science is already there in its heuristic self-understanding; and as it goes beyond logical positivist secular fundamentalism, we find a common epistemological ground with theology. For theology, this is also a revolution as the agenda is focussed on being human rather than "experiencing God." The healing of the earth as sacred vocation is no airy fairy thing.

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DRC wrote, " ...logical positivist secular fundamentalism...." I like that phrase and will use it. Thanks!

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Quote D_NATURED:

... How can free will exist in an information vacuum?

I don't know about in a "vacuum", but it does seem that free-will must have been part of the evolutionary history of life on earth such that the human species had it before the human species developed language. Could one argue that the development of language could have only followed from the development of free-will? Organic matter somehow organizes in such a way as to produce the ability to 'willfully' (deliberately and/or reflexively, and part and parcel with sentience) act in situations where one was to comprehend the situation in a rational manner would be unable to render a logical decision to act in a certain way, at least quickly.

I heard that the way physiologists are approaching this problem is to equate the mind to a randomizer. I see two problems with this. First, it leads back to the determinist problem in that one could argue that even a seemingly random process is determined somehow. That assertion would have to backed up by a sound argument as to whether there is a method of explaining how this "determining" takes place, such as natural "laws". (Otherwise, tautology.) The second problem is that randomizers are machines that are programmed by humans. They operate how they are programmed; that is, to produce a sequence that qualifies as "random." If this randomness is truly random then I have to wonder if "artificial intellegence" has thus been acheived, or at least a crucial part of it.

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CeciAtea wrote regarding Dennett (Post #83)

I wanted to post a link that relates to what my original post was about. (If you go back and re-read it, you'll notice that it was not about "atheism is a religion/atheism is not a religion"). http://edge.org/conversation/the-bright-stuff

The link goes to an essay by Daniel Dennett that I want to respond to. I put Dennett and Richard Dawkins and the lesser satellites like Sam Harris in the same philosophical school historically referred as Naturalism.

As a school of thought Naturalism rejects any reference to the supernatural and believes the world can be adequately explained by scientifically verifiable concepts and principles exclusively. There are varying degrees of radicalism among the academic spokesmen for naturalism, but they all fundamentally view the world, as mechanistic matter understood best by empiricism, or the scientific method call logical positivism. So we can refer to this school as Materialistic Naturalism and is really a family of allied philosophical schools of thought that embraces logic, empiricism, behaviorism, materialism, atheism, secularism, humanism and even political conservatism. Each school reinforces the other and understands Humans as unique by virtue of being more complex than animal life.

Materialistic Naturalism--and I recognized that there are innumerable variations-- is not a new school of thought in spite of the modern emphasis on the complexity of human consciousness. We can go back to the ancient Greek atomist philosophers and find this philosophical school with the same basic principles and assumptions as materialistic naturalism.

Titus Lucretius Carus (died c. 50 BC), simply called, Lucretius, is known for his theories of Atomistic Physics and is the best example for my critique of materialistic naturalism. Lucretius’ original thought is the foundation of our modern version of naturalism and best reveals the flaws of this ontology.

Lucretian theory of Atomistic Physics has four principles. The first rule is “...that nothing is ever begotten of nothing by divine will...more rightly...shall discern that...all things come to be without the aid of gods.” Lucretius was not an atheist, but more like what we call a Deist because he denied that the gods operated, or interfered causally in the physical material of the world.

The second rule of Lucretian physics is “Nothing is created and nothing is destroyed...it must of already endured an infinite time....” Lucretius can be called one of the first empiricists because he tried to explain the world as it appeared without the aid of theological explanation.

The third Lucretian rule is “...there is empty space.” This is an important principle because motion is not possible without empty space.

And lastly, the fourth Lucretian rule states that space is infinite.

So for Lucretius the atom is uncreated, indestructible, indivisible, has infinite plurality, and is extremely small. All atomic particles are qualitatively identical and are different only in their shape and size; however, there is an infinite number of atoms.

The Lucretian motion of atoms:

This is where Lucretius’ theory of atoms gets interesting. Actually, Lucretius borrows heavily from Epicurus’ theory of the motion of atoms and there is academic debate about this philosophical relationship, but these details are not relevant to my arguments. What I want to focus on is the movement of atoms and how it explains the infinite plurality, or at least the variations, of materials in the physical world.

The picture that Lucretius draws is that of an infinite number of atoms eternally falling down in a straight line within infinite space. The great variety in existence results from a “jostling,” or “collisions” of atoms that form groups of new material attributes so that there is qualitative variation in the world of nature. The atoms “fall” but Lucretius is unable to explain what causes the falling or what is “up” or “down” because there is no up or down within infinite space. Once there is a collision of atoms they are deflected from their original straight path “downward” so there is a pile up effect causing more “complex” motions of atoms.

The question now is “How did the initial collision of atoms start?” There must be a cause of the collision of atoms because the first principle a Lucretian atomic physics is “nothing is ever begotten of nothing.” At this point Epicurus offers a way out of this difficulty with the doctrine of “The Swerve.”

The collisions of atoms start with the swerve of falling atoms and that swerve triggers the formation of the world. But the doctrine of the swerve only moves the question back one step to “What caused the swerve?” Unfortunately, the swerve has to be a spontaneous, or arbitrary event in a wholly materialistic mechanistic universe: in other words, created out of nothing.

The theoretical difficulties do not stop here. There are more serious problems with postulating a purely mechanistic universe. The atomists rely on the logical principle of non-contradiction in their arguments. The problem here is the laws of logic are not the laws of mechanical motion. When a valid logical argument is formulated by inferring from the premises to a conclusion, one cannot say that the premises “caused” the conclusion. This isn’t a mechanical cause and effect relationship of the motion of atoms. In other words, epistemology and knowledge is not possible is a purely materialistic and mechanistic universe. If materialistic naturalism is true, we could never know that it is true. This is a violation of the logical principle of non-contradiction. Furthermore, how could an atom choose or decide? What could be the source of abstract ideas such as a particular thing and the idea of a class of things? “The class of all teacups is not itself a teacup,” to borrow a sentence from Bertrand Russell’s theory of types. And what about ethical principles? The difficulties only become more serious for materialistic naturalism.

Now I want to turn to Daniel Dennett’s essay on “The Brights” and comment on some key points he makes about atheism. My main objection is his essay is based on a false dilemma: Dr. Dennett presents the Hobson Choice of either naturalism, or supernaturalism. This is a false dilemma. Christian Theology can go beyond naturalism and supernaturalism. (post # 78).

What is a bright? A bright is a person with a naturalist as opposed to a supernaturalist world view... "I'm a bright" is not a boast but a proud avowal of an inquisitive world view.

The problem with some types of modern Humanism is that it lacks symbolism and I view the use of the term “bright” as an effort to provide the historically mythic image of “light” as knowing to provide some meaningful symbol. I just thought it ironic that Dr. Dennett would use a religious symbol to setup his views on atheism.

We are, in fact, the moral backbone of the nation: brights take their civic duties seriously precisely because they don't trust God to save humanity from its follies.

Dr. Dennett just assumes that one has a civic duty and my question is in a purely materialistic mechanistic world where does one get such duties? Ethical duties are not material things in a naturalistic world view so he is bring into the back door a “trust” in moral duties without providing a foundation for them—not very inquisitive.

But now I'm beginning to feel some heat, and although it's not uncomfortable yet, I've come to realize it's time to sound the alarm.

Is this alarm about religious superstition and cultism, or philosophical nihilism? I believe the greater and more immediate danger is nihilism: nihilism, which is based on materialistic naturalism, which he is a proponent.

In a conversation...

... in some parts of the country admitting you're a bright could lead to social calamity....Is it possible that there's a trace of power mongering when a scientists who studies nature promotes absolute naturalism? Do we deliberately annoy in order to get attention once in a while?

Totalitarianism is not monopolized only by religious cults, but by any ideological system that claims to know the truth. Absolute naturalism does not necessarily lead to the values of “wonder” and “awe” of Nature as Dr. Richard Dawkins often appeals to in his version of naturalism. What if human choose instead dogmatism, violence, and exploitation as society’s values? In fact, materialistic naturalism has no counter argument against such values and may explain in part the ecological disasters we face today. Another naturalistic philosopher, Rene Descartes often mentions the maltres et possesseurs de la nature , or the masters and owners of nature. This seems to me to be the alarm to sound and naturalism, or its more familiar face of logical positivist secular fundamentalism has no basis to respond.

The sciences can establish this knowledge of dependency but the transformation of our basic attitude, our liberation from the shopping mall, needs today a kind of mystagogical instruction. For we, caught in the web of the Cartesian era, need help in learning again that two-legged, four-legged, and winged creatures have much more in common than we have believed.

Water, air, and earth are common to all living earth dwellers. Experiencing relationship with all living things is a dimension of that relationship to nature found in the mysticism of a tat team asi (the other is like you). Simply stated, nature is no "it," no material to be utilized and slotted to be at the very bottom of a patriarchically conceived hierarchy. Nature is a living "thou."

In singing, "Every part of this earth is sacred to my people," the ecological movement borrows words from North America's First Nations and a nature religion that has become the model for many people. Cartesian philosophy and Newtonian physics have deprived nature of its sacredness, that is to say, its soul, by replacing the organic image of the creation as one great living whole with a mechanistic concept of nature. It is like a machine powered by mechanical forces. Within the contours of such thinking, creation is at best a big clock, initially wound up by God. In this system, the role of human beings or, to he more precise, of the white male human being, is to use and exploit the objects that were perceived as having no relation to him whatever. This male human being identified himself with the patriarchal God, situated outside the world and ordained to leadership.

At the final phase of this development, which is where we are now, two paradigms compete one against the other. First there is the Cartesian paradigm, which some ecologists simply identify with Christianity. The other paradigm, occasionally called "New Age," borrows from nature religions and often approximates Buddhist spirituality. I believe that mystical piety, taught, lived out, and experienced, will become a foundation for a changed time.

But the model of exploitation and its course toward catastrophe go on in their unbroken rule. Their hostility to creation becomes most apparent in our totally changed relation to time. In the Nations' creation myths, boundaries are depicted between day and night, summer and winter, seedtime and harvest, desert and fertile regions, youth and old age, living and dying: the patriarchy of industry has rendered all of them unimportant and has obscured or abolished them. What those myths dramatized as times of labor and of rest, seasons of fasting and of feasting, in Sabbath days and years, is being systematically demolished. Space and time are seen to be the last fetters that the autonomous individual is now finally breaking in order to find domicile on the other side of creation, in the shopping mall of the global market's total disposability. This globalization includes human organs, sex objects, and experimental research animals. It does even more than that. It redefines the relation between nature and humankind: from dependency to disposition, from attachment to the rhythms of life to springtime forever available for sale, from relationship with every creature to absolute rule over them, from the very ability itself to enter into relation to having virtual reality making that ability superfluous.

Dependency is not seen as a mutuality of nature and humankind; it is overcome. The mania for omnipotence, once projected onto God, has in techno-patriarchy attained most efficiently to world dominance. But omnipotence and mysticism are mutually exclusive. This applies not only in history of religion terms to the god who was called king, god of hosts, and ruler of the world, but very much also to the idols of today's world that listen to names like progress, growth, and abolition of space and time. (Dorothee Soelle. The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance, pp. 109-110).

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Quote DRC:

You should be what makes sense to you, and while the mentor/model of others can be deeply influential, your "faith journey" is your own. How you deal with religion is your choice, but what you deal with in the people around you and how you decide to use religion or not has your personal context and I cannot tell you what you ought to do. If you think I should or could, you need to move on.

My questions were rhetorical, intended to illustrate the insecurity of knowledge. My "faith journey" has been from faith to uncertainty. It seems that faith is an end, not a beginning, though, for many people.

I have rejected the current utility of theism because, like Newtonian Physics, even though it once worked well enough to be the accepted truth, what we now know (thanks to Newton) is that the model cannot explain the cosmos anymore. The concept of God, the Divine Being in a Heaven just above the earth, or any ontological entity "out there" now must "exist" beyond the range of our scientific vision. "God" becomes far too distant to matter or to be what God was in theology earlier.

I agree we are no longer served by fairey tales.

The idea of the Sacred does not disappear, but it has to be reimagined and reconsidered as we deal with other dogma, such as secularism. Rather than propose that we get to "reality" by getting rid of the sacred myths and metaphysics, we need to see reality as more than the secular in which it has been packaged.

Is that because there is a quantifiable gain to humanity to continue believing in talking snakes and burning bushes? If not, what's the point in continuing a tradition that has so much baggage? Who gets to decide which pieces of human myth or metaphysical history to preserve. A lot of it sounds dumb to me, as if humanity is clinging to ideas for the mere reason that there is no other that pleases them more.

Science is already there in its heuristic self-understanding; and as it goes beyond logical positivist secular fundamentalism, we find a common epistemological ground with theology. For theology, this is also a revolution as the agenda is focussed on being human rather than "experiencing God." The healing of the earth as sacred vocation is no airy fairy thing.

Now you're talking. This falls right in with my idea that love, as an act, is as good a god as any. There is no mumbo jumbo and no invisible entities, only the idea that what we do matters and that we have a responsibility to each other. That is what I take away from most religious traditions, anyway.

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Dependency is not seen as a mutuality of nature and humankind; it is overcome. The mania for omnipotence, once projected onto God, has in techno-patriarchy attained most efficiently to world dominance. But omnipotence and mysticism are mutually exclusive. This applies not only in history of religion terms to the god who was called king, god of hosts, and ruler of the world, but very much also to the idols of today's world that listen to names like progress, growth, and abolition of space and time.

If we successfully dominate the world, can we then say that god allowed it? Yes. If we fail can we say that god kept us from successfully dominating? Yes, that is, if our concept of god is not there to justify the materialistic naturalist behavior of conquer and consume.

I fear for humanity because we cannot figure out how to judge a spiritual/ethical ideal based upon results. We are happy to continue praying to a god that has led us toward a tenuous future. Maybe the native americans didn't do that, I don't know. What I do know is that the Abrahamic traditions are a bunch of Tebow-esque behaviors that fail to give god the full credit that He deserves for allowing us to poison our own environment and kill each other en mass. We dutifully accept our suffering without changing our behavior. I don't think that's what a god would want us to do.

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Religious people and atheists have tried to distract us from what is really going on in America. They say, "Oh, we have to stop those abortions and gay marriages or life will end!!!!" And they say, "Oh, we have to stop those people who want to stop those abortions and gay marriages or life will end!!!" When in reality, we need to stop the people and corporations that are stealing every last penny of our money, defrauding us out of our houses, tricking us into engaging in illegal, wasteful, horrible wars, down-grading our education systems, and promoting hatred between races and religions and non-religions.

If you ASK Thom (rather than making assumptions about him), he will tell you that he is not religious. Rather, he is spiritual. There is a difference. religious people tend to say, "I believe it and that settles it," while spiritual people have a practice that they do, and that practice directly results in them growing spiritually, overcoming their shortcomings, and becoming better, more balanced people. Religions tend to be faith-based. Spirituality is practice-based, experience-based. There is a difference.

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Religions tend to be faith-based. Spirituality is practice-based, experience-based. There is a difference.

I agree with that statement if you include the idea that the practice in question is intended to help humanity and not grovel to a diety. Religions practice rituals and rites but they are rarely beneficial to anyone. When all of the palms have been burned and the peoples' forehead smudged, the hungry are still hungry.

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Quote David Abbot:

If you ASK Thom (rather than making assumptions about him), he will tell you that he is not religious. Rather, he is spiritual. There is a difference.

Actually, Thom claims to be Christian. However, I don't believe he participates in organized religion. If he did, would that somehow discredit everything he stands for? The bigotry of those who would discredit him for that is more the point, is it not? Can you only accept Thom on your terms? Thom is a uniter and not a divider. So much for the "WE" society, I guess.

The ability for people to stand up to bigotry against blacks, Jews , homosexuals and the poor while simultaneously being bigoted against a broad-brush stereotype of religious people says much about why we are mired in this "ME" society. Finding good in others and fertilizing our common ground is really not so difficult, but yet it often seems damn near impossible.

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D Natured, the value of the stories is that they are stories and need to be appreciated as such. They have contexts, so you ought not go around applying them like they were magic lenses into this world or predictors of the future. I have an anthropology respect for people who lived on earh a long time ago and worked out their own being human. What has come down to us as "sacred texts" deserve a lot of respect, but not automatic devotion. Instead of passing back the contempt of those who came later and "know more," I would like to appreciate better what these stories meant to those who created them as well as how they have been treated in the tradition of commentary and preaching.

The great narratives like "the Exodus" are stories of generational change and how fear has to be transformed into the courage to be in order to get out of Egypt and to grow up into a people in the wilderness. Deuteronomy introduces 'reforms' that boil down to do good and get rewarded, do bad and get punished. While this is good advice in the general mode, it fails in the specifics of human life with grave disappointment to those who thought they were earning salvation. The Book of Job is for them, and also as a corrective to the literal, linear and dogmatic approach to texts.

These texts are supposed to be read in faith so the Holy Spirit can illuminate "the Word of God" which will be opaque otherwise to the rational or dogmatic reader. Heart and mind have to come together for the Word to get off the page, and while that was often prescribed as dogma to the obedient, it is really about what happens in the mind and conscience of the faithful. I will make my case for separating "faith" from the myriad reductions and commonalities where it means something less than intellectual and moral integrity. The "faithful" I have in mind are those who meet reality with open minds, hearts and souls rather than with dogma and rejection.

Myths and metaphysics have an appropriate place, and it is not to be confused with science or history. I think that religion is in trouble because the churches have lost their mission and vocation. It will crash into them in massive human need, and the faithful among them will have to recover the living tradition and "new light." Occupy the Beatitudes, for example, would be a great banner for renewal. But that is part of the Bible, a story about Jesus speaking to a crowd, not a transcript or a CSpan hour. So is the Feeding of the 5,000. And so is the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

I responded to Anti and ren about Chris Hedges on the 3 hour CSpan show on authors. Among the things Chis mentioned was one I forgot to touch on over on Republican Neoliberalism... James Cone is a great black theologian, and I have to get this book "The Cross and the Lynching Tree" where Cone establishes that the failure of the American Mainline and Right to respond to lynching makes anything about Easter absent in them. It is all costume party and "charity" to make the doer feel good, but not to address the moral outrage or the rift in Creation.

Cone's point goes far beyond the churches as it indicts all of us for tolerating the intolerable and being impotent against the false powers and authorites of this world. The religious story tells us that we are not powerless and that moral authority and power is based in a reality other than the foundations of our empire or the epistemology of our culture. That is a better start that secularism can get me. Reality is both secular and sacred; but it is not defined by religious or secular labels or brands. It is about being real with others and the earth. No religion delivers reality by brand, and most can help some, at least, get there. The problem is what is not seen as religion but what does the same to divert and mislead without driving us beyond our comforts and truths.

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DRC wrote...

D Natured, the value of the stories is that they are stories and need to be appreciated as such. They have contexts, so you ought not go around applying them like they were magic lenses into this world or predictors of the future. I have an anthropology respect for people who lived on earh a long time ago and worked out their own being human. What has come down to us as "sacred texts" deserve a lot of respect, but not automatic devotion. Instead of passing back the contempt of those who came later and "know more," I would like to appreciate better what these stories meant to those who created them as well as how they have been treated in the tradition of commentary and preaching.

The understanding of myth is a good example of how the New Atheists, like Hitchens, and Christian Fundamentalists think on the same level. Christian Fundamentalists insist on the literal interpretation of myth to give it scientific prestige whereas the New Atheists insist on the literal interpretation of myth as a very, very easy target in their polemics. Another understanding of mythology is too much work for them. The Christian Fundamentalists buy into Biblical literalism so they have no other place to go and argue the absurdity of Creationism. The New Atheists stick to literalism and empiricism because it is the only epistemology they know to define truth.

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So much for Christian "existentialism."

***

As the self-appointed THC "Wikipedia scholar-in-training", I hereby refer ye to the following:

Quote Wikipedia:

Quine's holism

Instead of reductionism {traditional empirical epistemology}, Quine proposes that it is the whole field of science and not single statements that are verified. All scientific statements are interconnected. Logical laws give the relation between different statements, while they also are statements of the system. This makes talk about the empirical content of a single statement misleading. It also becomes impossible to draw a line between synthetic statements, which depend on experience, and analytic statements, that hold come what may. Any statement can be held as necessarily true according to Quine, if the right changes are made somewhere else in the system. In the same way, no statements are immune to revision.

Even logical laws can be revised according to Quine. Quantum logic, introduced by Garrett Birkhoff and John von Neumann, abandons the law of distributivity from classical logic in order to reconcile some of the apparent inconsistencies of classical Boolean logic with the facts related to measurement and observation in quantum mechanics. Quine makes the case that the empirical study of physics has furnished apparently credible grounds for replacing classical logic by quantum logic, rather as Newtonian physics gave way to Einsteinian physics. The idea that logical laws are not immune to revision in the light of empirical evidence has provoked an intense debate (see Is logic empirical?).

...As Quine states in Two Dogmas, "The myth of physical objects is epistemologically superior to most in that it has proved more efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience".

The second result is a move towards pragmatism. Since, Quine says, the function of science is to predict future experiences in the light of past ones, the only ground for choosing which explanations to believe is "the degree to which they expedite our dealings with sense experiences." While pragmatic concerns are important for Carnap and other logical positivists when choosing linguistic framework, their pragmatism "leaves off at the imagined boundary between the analytic and the synthetic". For Quine, every change in the system of science is, when rational, pragmatic.

To a certain extent, pragmatism has furthured the preservation of "nature." Far more care is taken towards ecological concerns as ecological awareness develops, and the result is a more broad and generally protective attitude towards "the environment." Nevertheless, one struggles under a pragmatic paradigm to justify the preservation of a particular species on the basis of that species' right to exist in and of itself. So certainly other types of considerations are in play; however, I don't see any reason to discount prejudices towards valuing the objects of profound appreciation solely because they lack any "mechanistic" importance.

I have to say that the whole anti-science vis-a-vis the evil Descartes argument on the part of eco-political activists and feminists etc. to be extremely tiresome especially in light of the obsolescence of the whole materialist/idealist debate which I've made perfectly apparent here and elsewhere. Since I don't feel like launching a diatribe on the subject, I'll settle for a cheap shot. If you don't like science, there are many people living without its benefit who might take you in. For example, in Madagascar you can help them hunt aye-aye and leaf tailed geckos- they are said to harbor evil spirits and are hunted ruthlessly. Blaming the scientific beliefs of the colonial period for the moral failings of that period is beyond idiocy.

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nimblecivet
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

In that same article, "According to Quine, there are two different results of his reasoning. The first is a blurring of the line between metaphysics and natural science. The common-sense theory about physical objects is epistemologically comparable to the gods of Homer....The second result is a move towards pragmatism."

Thank you for that reference. Actually, Quine's arguments support the later Wittgenstein's critique of logical positivism that we have been arguing all along. The early Wittgenstein found in the Tractatus was held up by the Vienna Circle as the father of logical positivism. The later Wittgenstein held in the Philosophical Investigations that meaning of language is use--a pragmatic position. You still don’t get it because you can’t comprehend the fact that a philosopher can change his outlook on anything. It is the authoritarianism in you that does that. Quine is deeply in debt to Wittgenstein. So Nimblevet, you need to understand what you present as a counter argument, or you may end up supporting your targeted opposition...like running in the wrong direction for a touchdown! LOL!

You comments about eco-political activists and feminists are just your own bias and misogyny so go try looking around and find fragments of other philosophical literature over your head, but try to find arguments that support your silly positions and not some other. And I don’t know what this has to do with existentialism other than it’s another word you don’t understand just like you don’t understand the critique of science...and take your lithium like a good boy...or robotic pigeon.

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Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote DRC:

D Natured, the value of the stories is that they are stories and need to be appreciated as such. They have contexts, so you ought not go around applying them like they were magic lenses into this world or predictors of the future. I have an anthropology respect for people who lived on earh a long time ago and worked out their own being human. What has come down to us as "sacred texts" deserve a lot of respect, but not automatic devotion. Instead of passing back the contempt of those who came later and "know more," I would like to appreciate better what these stories meant to those who created them as well as how they have been treated in the tradition of commentary and preaching.

The great narratives like "the Exodus" are stories of generational change and how fear has to be transformed into the courage to be in order to get out of Egypt and to grow up into a people in the wilderness. Deuteronomy introduces 'reforms' that boil down to do good and get rewarded, do bad and get punished. While this is good advice in the general mode, it fails in the specifics of human life with grave disappointment to those who thought they were earning salvation. The Book of Job is for them, and also as a corrective to the literal, linear and dogmatic approach to texts.

These texts are supposed to be read in faith so the Holy Spirit can illuminate "the Word of God" which will be opaque otherwise to the rational or dogmatic reader. Heart and mind have to come together for the Word to get off the page, and while that was often prescribed as dogma to the obedient, it is really about what happens in the mind and conscience of the faithful. I will make my case for separating "faith" from the myriad reductions and commonalities where it means something less than intellectual and moral integrity. The "faithful" I have in mind are those who meet reality with open minds, hearts and souls rather than with dogma and rejection.

Myths and metaphysics have an appropriate place, and it is not to be confused with science or history. I think that religion is in trouble because the churches have lost their mission and vocation. It will crash into them in massive human need, and the faithful among them will have to recover the living tradition and "new light." Occupy the Beatitudes, for example, would be a great banner for renewal. But that is part of the Bible, a story about Jesus speaking to a crowd, not a transcript or a CSpan hour. So is the Feeding of the 5,000. And so is the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

I responded to Anti and ren about Chris Hedges on the 3 hour CSpan show on authors. Among the things Chis mentioned was one I forgot to touch on over on Republican Neoliberalism... James Cone is a great black theologian, and I have to get this book "The Cross and the Lynching Tree" where Cone establishes that the failure of the American Mainline and Right to respond to lynching makes anything about Easter absent in them. It is all costume party and "charity" to make the doer feel good, but not to address the moral outrage or the rift in Creation.

Cone's point goes far beyond the churches as it indicts all of us for tolerating the intolerable and being impotent against the false powers and authorites of this world. The religious story tells us that we are not powerless and that moral authority and power is based in a reality other than the foundations of our empire or the epistemology of our culture. That is a better start that secularism can get me. Reality is both secular and sacred; but it is not defined by religious or secular labels or brands. It is about being real with others and the earth. No religion delivers reality by brand, and most can help some, at least, get there. The problem is what is not seen as religion but what does the same to divert and mislead without driving us beyond our comforts and truths.

You are smart enough and studied enough for the religious stories to teach you that the human experience transcends time on some level. You can appreciate the metaphorical content of the stories and see the greater meaning. Fine.

Words like sacred can be used, too often, to justify sacrilege. What about the Catholic charities that will no longer provide their services if they have to serve gay couples? Are orphans less important than their religious devotion to homophobia? It seems so.

I suppose in the anthropological sense, I'm for preserving the religious stories, but not the traditions...not without a good reason. If we can't filter out which of these stories provide timeless lessons and which ones are ignorant, if we have to accept them all to tolerate religious belief, then I have a problem with that. If in the end it's all a matter of interpretation, then the texts are dangerously vague and we humans are too dangerously gullible for much of human religion's existence to be justified.

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 7:47 pm

D-Nature:

If massive numbers of Catholics rose up in protest of the Church's stance on the issues mentioned and others (i.e. Occupy the Vatican), and imparted substantial change in the more enlightened direction, would that really change your fundamental view of religion? What about the myriad of Protestant denominations and other faiths as well? Is it really the specific actions of the church(s) that you disagree with or is it the general premise of religion itself?

You seem all too willing to give DRC a pass on "properly" viewing religious stories, but does that mean that anyone not as wise and educated and as DRC should not be aloud to seek that same wisdom from the religious stories?

I am the last person you will find defending bad religion and I'm the first person to shine a light on hypocrisy and unfairness in religious or secular settings. Jefferson had it right when he defended the right to worship of all religious people whom he did not understand or agree with. He did so to not only allow freedom of religion for all, but to provude freedom from tyranny imposed by a specific religion as well. Jefferson was a wise and educated man.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Oh boy, here we go again. I'm afraid that we need a dodecahedron or something far greater than a trinity to untangle everything that is conflated into religion.

I tend to think that religious folk are intellectually lazy people...as if one specific cult-view is more correct than the others, come on. Religion can be viewed as analagous to the rule and role stage of cognitive development. Atheism is rejection thereof, but ya gotta learn the rule before ya can reject them. Spirituality is the transcedence of religion and atheism.

Part of religion is political. It's part of the doctrine for lots of them. If ya don't get that, you're somewhat uninformed = ignorant. The more one understands the politics of religion, the more enlightened one is about it.

Part of religion is all for getting the patriarchy's rocks off. Catholicism is cover for homosexual pedophilia. Mormanism is cover for heterosexual polygamous pedophiles. Should I go on...of course not, I've already crossed the line far enough, but I just cant help it.

Part of religion is history and how that history has been passed along. It's sad and exciting to speculate that thousands of years of early history hides beneath the waters. It's funny that we had lots of gods and polythiesm before we had monothiesm. Who can reconcile this? Who understands the gifts of the gods?

Is that too logical and positivist for you, Anti? Can we de-mystify this nonsense?

Was the zodiac and stories of gods created to pass important time keeping techniques and knowlede from one generation to the next. How many "gods" share the same story of a virgin birth, ressurection, walking on water and all that jazz?...the greatest story ever told?

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MEJ
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

MEJ, the attempt to "demythologize" proved to be a logical positivist dead end. Getting "the secular meaning of the Gospel" is no new thing, but reducing truth to the secular does not work very well. If you want to talk about "reality," use some other language other than secular and sacred unless you respect both halves of that linguistic formula. Reality remains a mystery beyond our full comprehension, and to confuse being a 'realist' with having truth by the balls is a traditional temptation.

I do not allow intellectual or moral dishonesty in my understanding of "faith." It is true that how myth, metaphysics and story are regarded does change in the course of "faith development." Children live in a productive fantasy that adults must parse from reality. We "grow up" in "faith and understanding," but we do not abandon our early stages of development and pass over to some foreign land, we accumulate and transcend as we grow. And, maturity is about being in a good relationship with one's inner child, adolescent and young adult so you can visit without getting lost in regression. The senior ghetto is not a mature community, it is just geezerville.

Rationalism is not good epistemology, but rationality is a part of coherence. We have looked at how technocratic abstraction can remove us from the existential reality we seek to analyze and control. Being in the game while learning and thinking changes how it works. This is where the logical positivism has to go. You are right about demystifying, but not about demythologizing or "solving the mystery." Going deeper into the mystery is "demystifing" in the sense that it removes old heuristic models and barriers that appeal to those who would restrict human moral activism.

This raises a crucial distinction for me. For those who love "free will," I would suggest not to worry about our ability to reject common sense, grace, reason or even good instinct to engage in self-destruction and other perversities. At the level of mind, we have lots of temptations to be other than we are and to wish for a world other than what is. The same is true emotionally, of course, but that gets us closer to the need for love even if we have the same marvelously perverse ways of acting out that need. Still, the basic idea that God loves us is a proclamation of personal worth and dignity against any attempt to make it otherwise. The idea that we are abandoned and one our own as aliens in a strange world also has consequences.

While we are 'free moral and intellectual actors and agents,' we are constrained by our reality and the reality of the world we encounter. "Constrained" only refers to the illusion of our abstract freedom. Our need for love, for meaning and for community works out in our "free will," but so does our legacy of experience and learning. We inherit more of our identity than we can "choose." We simply become what the forces that have shaped us 'determine' while we also become a unique person within that narrative frame. What part of being you did you "choose?"

The temptation to dismiss the importance of myths, metaphysics and stories because we have the science and the technology to know better about how Creation happened, etc., is part of our 'modernism.' The rejection of religion for science or rationalism or even for "getting rid of the nonsense" is of the recent past. It does not matter that the Virgin Birth and Messiah stories abounded at the time of Jesus. Well, it really does matter because that was the current language and image to make the points the authors of the New Testament and a lot of others made. It is not a unique thing other than in the branded version of dogma misused to keep the congregants docile.

The amount of logical positivism operating in the Religious Right is amazing when you stop looking at this stuff as just crazy. Try Oprah as magic v. reality. Try Wall St. Try the wars of empire and against terrorism. They all operate on a presumed 'realism' that is pure fantasy and narrative construct to justify power's lusts.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

You don't have to keep on with this vendetta against logical postivism. Logical positivism is DEAD - DEAD -DEAD. Quit propping up the corpse so you can play ventriloquist.

Quote Antifascist:

..Actually, Quine's arguments support the later Wittgenstein's critique of logical positivism that we have been arguing all along.

Quote antifascist:
...they all fundamentally view the world, as mechanistic matter understood best by empiricism, or the scientific method call logical positivism. So we can refer to this school as Materialistic Naturalism and is really a family of allied philosophical schools of thought that embraces logic, empiricism, behaviorism, materialism, atheism, secularism, humanism and even political conservatism.

Don't knock lithium until you've tried it; it was one of the first elements created during the Big Bang. Let's see if we can bring you into the 21st Century.

Since you admit that Quine's philosophy doesn't belong in your category of "Materialistic Naturalism" because it isn't a "materialist" paradigm, then what relevance does your approach have to it in that it is a naturalistic paradigm?

I used to be an existentialist, so I understand your attempt to find a "foundation" appropriate to your own philosophical commitments. But it becomes offensive and somewhat resembles the evil so many atheists ascribe to religion when you attempt to demonize other schools of philosophy as lacking such a foundation. Libertarians, like pigeons, have proven too easy a target for you, thus they are your preferred game. I am sorry to inform you that I will not indulge you in this preoccupation. While the talking heads on Fox news may well remind you of the evils of nihilism, to discount the necessity and objective truth which Dennet (according to you, I'll take that on good faith) and his "sattelites" see in their notions of worth and value of those things which inspire grandiose sentiments is merely to excercise your own prejudices.

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nimblecivet
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Now just wait a cotton pickin minute there DRC. I'm no logical positivist reducing the four faces of oneness into one or three, but I do love this map. I'm more of a panentheist, but that's another matter.

What I see isn't simple deconstructionism either. The greatest story ever told (the most important story/knowledge) and the chariots of the gods (what a kick, 1970) don't demythologize, at least I don't think so. They just add more layers into the great mystery. Where did they come from? Where did they go?

I don't see how logical positivism has anything to do with bullshit propaganda and magical thinking either, DRC.

Isn't the scourge of logical positivism the end result of modern religion? Look at it this way.....prior to the great traditions (modern religions), divinity was seen to lie within material creation. We had spirits of the forests and rivers and animals, etc. The great (new) traditions reversed our ancient traditions and poisted divinity as strictly beyond the material world. God or enlightenment could only be found in heaven or nirvana while the world belonged to the devil and was the ground of maya/illusion. It's the ultimate in abstracting divinity.

Free will is only possible to the extent that one is able to transcend one's conditioned nature, is it not?

Oh what fun it is to ride in post-post-modernity...(think jingle bells)....go nimbelcivet, go!

I sure love you people....

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MEJ
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Laborisgood:

D-Nature:

If massive numbers of Catholics rose up in protest of the Church's stance on the issues mentioned and others (i.e. Occupy the Vatican), and imparted substantial change in the more enlightened direction, would that really change your fundamental view of religion?

It wouldn't make me believe there was a god but it wouldn't hurt. It would at least let me know that the god they claim exists is really a good one and not only in name.

What about the myriad of Protestant denominations and other faiths as well? Is it really the specific actions of the church(s) that you disagree with or is it the general premise of religion itself?

I don't leave the protestants out of the equation either. The Catholics just have a better show. I believe in religion, as in groups of people sharing a spiritual time with each other. It can come in many forms, though, and needn't be declared to be in any god's name. I don't believe in the for-profit "charities" that churches have become. I also don't like the prayer before congress starts. Asking some invisible power to bring prosperity where their legislation deliberately fails, is a joke. Congress and religion both being theater, they go well together.

You seem all too willing to give DRC a pass on "properly" viewing religious stories, but does that mean that anyone not as wise and educated and as DRC should not be aloud to seek that same wisdom from the religious stories?

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to give anyone a pass. That's sort of what I was getting at with my questions about if the smartest guy I know believes something, should I? The problem is that someone not as wise and educated as DRC may choose to believe something fantastical and another may choose to believe that reality is as it appears. How could they know they would both be wrong? We are not all educated enough to be able to ride the spiritual fense so well between religion and the true meaning of god. Some of the intellectual elite would accuse me of being as dogmatic in my doubt as others are in their faith. They imply, as humans always have, that not knowing things is the equivalent of proof of god. I say, what's it fuckin' matter? If any of them had the ability to convince me, I'd be convinced because I've listened to a lot of preaching. Furthermore, if DRC convinced me of the logical existence of god, I wouldn't change a thing about how I'm living anyway. Let it ride...

I am the last person you will find defending bad religion and I'm the first person to shine a light on hypocrisy and unfairness in religious or secular settings. Jefferson had it right when he defended the right to worship of all religious people whom he did not understand or agree with. He did so to not only allow freedom of religion for all, but to provude freedom from tyranny imposed by a specific religion as well. Jefferson was a wise and educated man.

I know you are an honest broker. I have read a lot of your stuff and even when I disagree, I feel you come from a real place. And, I know that my word and tone choices are sometimes deliberately painful to people. Perhaps it is my ignorance talking. If so, I'm just adding my ignorant droning to the sea of the same that pervades this subject on the theist and atheist sides. My anger, if that's what it realy is, derives from an utter disenfatuation with empty ceremonies run by greedy vultures and the existence of a spiritual class system of which I am on the bottom. I don't deserve to be here just because I don't have a rich tapestry of atheist culture to rub everyone's nose in. Let my rich tapestry be that I let everyone else be free to mind their own business and that I demand that people not envoke spirits in my name.

Good religion sells a load of crap to people who are afraid to die. Bad religion takes the money and uses it to party it up. Horrible, criminal religion uses their pipeline to god to control the masses, creating poverty and war in a thought free environment that exists as a contradiction to itself that noone is allowed to mention. Unfortunately, religion has already gone beyond bad.

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 7:47 pm

It depends on how you want to parse the word "religion".... Thom's definition of capitalism though it would probably be more useful is even more off base. Regardless atheism is religion-like and functionally identical. Everything we do is based upon faith in one ineffable concept or another. Some just seem more plausible than others. It can also depend on how you want to parse "atheism".

This is most likely a verbal disagreement if you like what Thom does.

Truth Glass
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Jun. 25, 2011 7:45 pm

religion is in part, a given set of beliefs. atheism is a rejection of predetermined beliefs or doctrine.

To say they are the same is ludicrous, absurd. Sure, both little Jimmy who completed the second grade and George who holds a PH D in physics are both educated, but they're hardly equivilent.Sure they both have sets of beliefs, but come on...

To be religious is to accept beliefs without subjecting those beliefs to rigourous intellectual scrutiny, it is acceptance with a lack of adequate information and critical thinking. Considering that religion is the domain that deals with matters of ultimate concerns, it should attract the greatest intellectual scrutiny available. Atheism requires critical thinking to build its position which is a general falisification or rejection of a theory or hypothesis.

Thus, the religious view is inherently intellectually lazy and exestentially cowardly. An atheistic view is the result of intellectual rigour and courage.

To assert an equivilancy between religion and atheism is stupid, lazy, cowardly, and absurd. It is a position that is offensive to those who have done the hard work. George has every right to be pissed.

The exclusivity doctrine is part of most religion. It's the doctrine that the specific faith is the one true way and that others are false and doomed. Like it or not, that's part of most religions unless you are a unitarian perhaps. The exclusivity principle combined with the possibility of eternal damnation or salvation sew the seeds of predjudice, racism, ideological fundementalism and close-mindedness.

Rejection of such a doctrine is not necessarily the promotion of another equally implausible position. To promote the principle that all peoples have inalienable rights is a higher moral stance than to promote that only those with stars on their bellies have inalienable rights. Don't give me that crap that they are the same because they're both moral positions. It's offensive to.....but so am I

If Thom can discern the difference between a natural person and an artificial person, then why can't he honor the distinctions between religious, atheist and spiritual?

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MEJ
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

MEJ, if you define religion at its best as a load of crap for people who are afraid to die, your ability to hear anything else evaporates. I was pointing out that much of the criticism of religion is about its fall into a logical positivism, a defense of theism and a definition of "faith" that does not pass intellectual or moral muster.

We meet at the mystery of being human, and that is what the conversation ought to be about. The idea that you have an intellectual superior position to any religious person is narcissism. I have never urged anyone who found religion problematic to do more than take it on their own terms or not. I constantly try to get people who believe in it to take a step back and see it in the light of the larger issue of being human. There is no branded path to being human. There are lots of sales outlets offering one thing or another; and the ultimate question is do they illuminate or obscure the path to authentic humanity.

Atheism can become stagnant instead of moving on to what I think become better questions. As the rejection of formula, I love atheism. They are the better theologians than the theists; but there are a lot of folks trying to get the sacred off the altar and the secular out of the gutter. I do not wish to provoke anyone about their honest perspective; but I think the amount of defensiveness this topic raises deserves some reflection. Apart from the fact that the religionists (theists) do not limit their insults to the atheists, there is a "price to pay" for going against any strong cultural attitude. Try being a person of faith on campus. I worked that turf for a long time, and I did it by demonstrating the intellectual strength and moral integrity of the academic ideal. The responded to competence where they would have found my ordination off-putting.

I gave up on the idea that religion could be avoided, much less abolished, long ago. If you trivialize it, you will not know how it is biting you because it will not announce itself as religion. It will just lead you to obey the wrong authorites and see the wrong reality as "the bottom line." If you think the principalities and powers of this world are the bearers of authentic power just because they have the guns and money, you will bow down before them and sacrifice your children and treasure to them because only they have the power to save.

So, where do you locate the source of authenitic power, reality, morality and so forth? We can dispense with theism, but that question remains. It is not intended as a way to get you back to God, for sure. But it does raise the basic question of how love has deep power and why justice is really necessary for all. If neither love nor justice lies at the heart of being human, what is the source and what does it "demand" of us?

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Are we talking past one another instead of talking to each other? I don't "define religion at its best as a load of crap for people who are afraid to die", but I do say that is a part of it. I argue that religion can point us to deeper and older truths and new fields of astroarcheology, evolutionary biology, etc.

My main argument is that there is a developmental progression: religion then atheism then spirituality. Just like grade school, high school and college. I'm not saying religion can be abolished or avoided any more than childhood can, but there comes a time to give up childish beliefs and attitudes.

Authentic power? what's that? power is power, is it not? The source of reality? Come on, ask a real question. Morality comes from the intersubjective domain. Justice isn't really necessary, but it's better than the lack thereof. Same with love. It may have "deep power", but so does hate. Selfishness lies at the heart of being human, too. I suppose cruelty does too. Being human doesn't have any path, other than evolutionary with maybe some tweeking from the gods, it's simply a genetic condition.These things don't demand anything from us, they're just part of us. They are jewels of creation.

and I'm not really narcissic, just arrogant...;)

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MEJ
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

OK, the problem with your spiritual journey recipe is that when you end in "spirituality" you have not done anything about getting from Me to We. You just grow up in a family with myths and stories and Santa, reject them as you demythologize and discover science and go on to choose to be You on the basis of pleasure and to a large degree, convenience. How does the "spiritual" move toward maturity, and how would that be lived out?

It does matter how we see "things working." Affirming love is more than choosing to be loved because it is nice. Recognizing it as a need raises all the moral issues of relationship, and what does your "spirituality" do to embrace the mutuality of need in deep intimacy? If you want to treat justice as the abstraction of love, how we are our 'brother's keeper' beyond the personal and familial, why it is necessary goes to the heart of your vision of self in community. I do not find anything that requires spirituality to include the reality of community and what it requires of the self in your formula. I do not think that you are oblivious to it, but it comes as an add on extra and not as a necessary part of the whole.

Again, my goal is not to resurrect theism or to suggest that we cannot work out a new understanding of the sacred/secular formula for reality. I will confront the 'modernism' that believes that the secular has it all and that we can catalog and order our world. But, I will also ask the "new age' sprituality to get some flesh, bone and blood into its ethereal forms.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote D_NATURED:

I believe in religion, as in groups of people sharing a spiritual time with each other. It can come in many forms, though, and needn't be declared to be in any god's name.

D-Natured:

We really are not so far apart on this issue. If you could see into the hearts and minds of any given group gathered at any given church for a service, I believe you would find anything but homogeneous uniformity of faith, doubt, belief, intellectual scrutiny, etc. Certainly, organized religion has a goal of creating uniformity, but it probably achieves it no better than any other group of humans in any organization. Good clergy can facilitate that spiritual time you mentioned, but clergy are human and often fall short.

I don't really ever intend to win people over to my point of view, I'm a horrible evangelist. I've never been too comfortable with the exclusionary nature of religion either. Self-proclaimed Christians who so easily play the exclusion card can truly lay no claim to being a follower of Jesus. Jesus, if nothing else, stands for inclusion. I see all the specific Christian denominations clamoring to lay claim as the one true path as missing the whole inclusion message as well and would just leave Jesus shaking his head.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

The Thom Hartmann Program - Aug 30th 2018

It seems it's all racism, all the time w/the GOP...Neo-Nazi robocall hits Iowa on Molly Tibbett’s murder: “KILL THEM ALL. ” Richard Wolff drops by about the National Debt. Is it a disaster or an OK thing? Also - Trump & The National Enquirer - Is the Economy Here To Serve Us Or Are We Here to Serve the economy?

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