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Source: (consider it) Thread: jlg's despair and death
Laura
General nuisance
# 10

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I'll be honest, RooK. I'm an agnostic cradle Episcopalian. I seem to be wired to believe, however, so I kept going back and forth over the years, stretches of fervor on both atheist and believing sides and stretches of indifference alternating with a sort of tortured ambivalence. So I just decided I had to go one way or the other. So I chose the church for its music, spirit, and community. Is there a God? Beats the hell out of me.

I agree that the whole explanation for God's alleged omnipotence and also lots of misery and death is in the end not particularly satisfying. I especially hate how pat it can sound. Like when someone says, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" (bullshit - plenty of people get way more suffering than they can handle). I think the church of old used to be more frank about not expecting to be relieved of suffering -- the old Catholic marriage service had something about wishing the bride and groom "as much happiness as can be expected in the Vale of Tears".

Because I chose the church, and I concede that God might or might not exist, the only reasonable conclusion is that if this good maybe-God I worship every Sunday in song exists, and is truly good and omnipotent, human well-being in this life cannot be that God's primary concern.

This probably all sounds mad, but it's a crazy world!

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Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. - Erich Fromm

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rolyn
Shipmate
# 16840

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:

It's times like these that genuinely make me wonder if all this shit is really worth it. If God's big plan is worth the trouble. If the final destination is actually good enough to justify making the journey.

Been sat for half an hour reading this quote. It's a fair call.

Cleave to the Cross [Help]

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Change is the only certainty of existence

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Chorister

Completely Frocked
# 473

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God's big plan? Is there one? Or was he just a curious boy playing with his chemistry set. All of a sudden there was a BIG BANG!!! Now the rest is up to us.

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

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Raptor Eye
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# 16649

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quote:
Originally posted by Pre-cambrian:
quote:
Originally posted by Raptor Eye:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I never said it did. I did say it disproves the existence of a God who wants to spare us the pain and suffering..

The fact that we live in the world as it is and not in Paradise now doesn't disprove the existence of a God who wants to spare us pain and suffering. It leaves open the question as to why God doesn't end this world now and replace it with Heaven.
So will you be prepared to challenge that God about why he chose not to spare us pain and suffering when he could? And how easily will you accept his answers (assuming he deigns to give any)? Or do you think that God is not open to such challenges? And if he isn't, why do you think him worthy of worship?
It's not that God isn't up to challenges, we challenge God all of the time. It's not that God isn't answerable to us, although he isn't.

It's that when we see God face to face we'll know the answer without having to ask.

In the meantime, we live with what we've got, and we see a hair's width view of God knowing that if that much is breathtaking, the remainder is way beyond our feeble imaginations.

Relationship with God's in the here and now, it's not about pie in the sky when we die. The glimmer of light is there in the darkness and it's worth continuing to look for it in the hope that we'll see it, and then more of it.

Worship is the natural expression of our love of God.

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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Raptor Eye
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# 16649

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Raptor Eye:
God helps us as we strive for a better world by giving us motivation, attributes such as patience and love, and the encouragement to persevere, often against the odds. God brings us together, giving us different gifts so that we co-operate with each other as well as with God.

Except when He doesn't. Which is most of the time.
My personal experience is clearly different from yours, but I'll concede that most of the time we don't co-operate.

quote:
quote:
Why? ISTM that God gains as much pleasure as we do from our achievement, and building on, of all that's good and beneficial for everyone.
Is our pain a fair price for God's pleasure?
Achievement of what's good gives us pleasure too. Perhaps there's no gain without pain spiritually, as with physically and mentally.

quote:
quote:
The fact that we live in the world as it is and not in Paradise now doesn't disprove the existence of a God who wants to spare us pain and suffering. It leaves open the question as to why God doesn't end this world now and replace it with Heaven.
Which comes to the same thing, when you think about it.
I disagree with this and your next two comments, which I haven't copied.

quote:
quote:
I think the delay is due to God's patience with us, so that we'll all have the opportunity to take up God's invitation to live God's way by following Jesus, to our benefit.
The opportunity? God is the only one witholding that opportunity from us, by not simply giving us the ability to live that way from the start.
We have had the opportunity to live like that from the start, but it wasn't imposed upon us. God doesn't insist, God invites.

quote:
Your post is like saying someone needs to be imprisoned for years so that they can have the opportunity to be free. Well, no - you could just free them right now and they'd be free. You could just not imprison them in the first place and they'd have always been free. Adding in the imprisonment bit just adds unnecessary suffering to the mix.

That's not what my post says. I think that the opposite is the truth. We need to be free to understand how good boundaries are. Boundaries are only prison if they're involuntary.

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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RooK

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# 1852

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quote:
Originally posted by Laura:
This probably all sounds mad, but it's a crazy world!

Makes perfect sense to me. If I didn't fundamentally hate people, I might have made similar life decisions as you with respect to church.
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Jamat
Shipmate
# 11621

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quote:
Marvin:
this is all God's fault. Ultimately the creator is responsible for the actions of his creation

Have been away hence late comment.

Your issue from what you posted is a problem with the concept of free will. Logically, the creator's ability to predict human choice is interpreted by you as his responsibility for it.

ISTM that though you could see it that way, it would preclude man being a moral being who has decided his own destiny. Ro 8;29 states that "those he foreknew, he also predestined".Foreknowledge precedes predestination. You are asking God to take that free choice away and criticising him for making us moral beings if you insist on his omnipotent intervention in human affairs.

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Jamat ..in utmost longditude, where Heaven
with Earth and ocean meets, the setting sun slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise. (Milton Paradise Lost Bk iv)

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
The parallel only exists if you hold God personally responsible for perpetrating the evils, and that of his own free will.

I hold Him personally responsible for not preventing the evil, even though it is in His power to do so. His crime is one of negligence.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Laura:
the only reasonable conclusion is that if this good maybe-God I worship every Sunday in song exists, and is truly good and omnipotent, human well-being in this life cannot be that God's primary concern.

Yes. And that's why He's a useless God.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
You are asking God to take that free choice away and criticising him for making us moral beings if you insist on his omnipotent intervention in human affairs.

Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing. I thought I'd made that pretty clear.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by RooK:
How do you go about extrapolating an excuse for an all-powerful, all-knowing creator who is the source of everything?

I'm not saying that I can't imagine the possibility of a higher purpose, or that I wouldn't even agree with it ultimately if I could understand it. It's just that the "it's all OK as long as you know he loves you" rationale is really fucking sickening.

I don't. Extrapolate any excuses, I mean. Theodicy is a waste of time when you're in the middle of suffering--heck, it's a waste of time all the time. There's no answer this side of eternity.

And "It's all okay as long as you know he loves you" is totally not what I was saying. IT'S NOT OKAY. I meant the question precisely as it was phrased--neither more nor less. Not as a rhetorical move, not as a way of levering things--just because I genuinely wanted to know.

The question represents more or less where I stand on the continuum--living with two facts that as far as I can see are incompatible--horrendous evil vs. God's attitude toward me (and others). All I can do is carry on with the two things in tension, because I can't (and won't) deny either, and I can't reconcile them. Certainly not now. I suspect that quite a few Christians are in that position, maybe most.

Which is why theodicy is a waste of time. Except emotionally we're driven to it every time shit like this happens.

[ 08. January 2012, 13:43: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
You are asking God to take that free choice away and criticising him for making us moral beings if you insist on his omnipotent intervention in human affairs.

Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing. I thought I'd made that pretty clear.
Well, it's a consistent position, at least. God made the world one way and carries out one policy and you consider he should have done otherwise. All right.

Though I can't help a sneaking gladness that in this very post you demonstrate something I'm personally happy about--that by giving you free will (even to criticize him), God produced the very Marvin the Martian we know and love. [Big Grin]

Sorry, but you wouldn't be the same without free will. and I like you this way.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Daron
Shipmate
# 16507

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Laura:
the only reasonable conclusion is that if this good maybe-God I worship every Sunday in song exists, and is truly good and omnipotent, human well-being in this life cannot be that God's primary concern.

Yes. And that's why He's a useless God.
God is useless because you aren't the centre of his universe. Can you not see how terribly self-centred you're being?

[ 08. January 2012, 15:01: Message edited by: Daron ]

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Each strand of sorrow has a place, within this tapestry of grace
So through the trials I choose to say, Your perfect will in your perfect way

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
You are asking God to take that free choice away and criticising him for making us moral beings if you insist on his omnipotent intervention in human affairs.

Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing. I thought I'd made that pretty clear.
I've been following this thread since it started, and this is the first time I've felt able to contribute something constructive.

Marvin: two questions.

Have you read Brave New World?

If you have, would you want to live in it?

Because, as far as I can tell, that's pretty much what you're suggesting. And I, for one, prefer this world with all its messiness and ambiguity, and yes, agency.

--------------------
Forward the New Republic

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Jamat
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# 11621

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quote:
Apocalypso: Who created Satan? Is Satan part of this God-created universe? Where did the evil originate that you seem to think define's Satan's nature, especially since God must have been Satan's creator too?

Are God and Satan equals, that God couldn't forestall or prevent Satan from despoiling humanity?

Briefly, I believe that the Bible states:

Evil originated when an angel named Lucifer rebelled and incited a rebellion amongst angelic beings in heaven.God removed him from his place and function.

He was a created moral being and became Satan.

Man was a subsequent creation and God tasked them with authority to manage physical creation.

Satan corrupted man by inciting their rebellion.

Satan's motive is from jealousy of man's destiny and calling and his purpose is to delay God's final judgement of himself and his system of influence which the Bible metaphorically terms 'The World'.

God's programme is one of redemption,(in Christ,) but few will accept it because it involves the radical confrontation of our self centredness.

In such a circumstance, it is hardly surprising that evil happens in creation. God is however, not inactive. In Christ's baptism the heavens were opened to him. There is a verse that states that "God, in christ, reconciled the world to himself."

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
# 8700

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I find it regrettable and predictable that the thread has taken a "theodicy" turn. The aggressive coarseness of the atheist "challenge" has largely deadened the subtle and poetic notes of grief and shock that faith was striking. Pity. Well, back to prosaic concerns then...

quote:
Originally posted by Scot:
Despite all of the claims about miracles and the power of prayer, I have not seen any credible evidence that such claims are true. Positive thinking has a verifiable effect, but prayer does not. As GK noted, miracles don't occur in even the most extreme cases. In the absence of any evidence for divine intervention, I think I can safely assume that there is none.

I feel relatively safe in asserting that you have not been pouring over the records of the medical commission of Lourdes, made a historical study of the documents relating to Fatima or for that matter actually researched other prominent claims for miraculous occurrences. Let us assume for the sake of argument though that you did and found all these wanting based on more than mere bias and hearsay.

Then it still remains fact that you ignore the fundamental disparity between what you are trying to find evidence for (or against) and what sort of evidence empirical methods can deliver. Empirical evidence requires regularity and repeatability, at least in the observational sense (though experiments are better). It can deal with unique events only if at least their consequences can be accessed multiply (think cosmic microwave background radiation). It can deal with agents, in particular intelligent agents, only by "hiding" from them or at least "outwitting" them (otherwise a "meta-game" with the agent ensues, e.g., the test subjects give the researchers the results they think are wanted). Miracles are by definition non-regular and (fairly) rare, with most not uniquely determinable from their consequences. Furthermore, there absolutely is no hiding from or outwitting of God. Hence if God does not want to be caught in statistics, He will not be caught.

I think we can all agree that God remains hidden to a considerable degree in this world. This includes the realm of prayer, which is clearly not answered in a manner that would allow a believer to demonstrate God to a non-believer instantly and unequivocally. More however cannot be said. Lack of empirical evidence for Divine interventions does not show that they do not exist. Evidence for God and His actions in the world of other kind (metaphysical, experiential, historical,...) is available. That you do not appreciate that does not invalidate it.

quote:
Originally posted by RooK:
If there is a god, either this is exactly what it wants or it doesn't care. Every other attempted explanation is willful flouting of logic for the sake of prettily-formed expositing hopes.

True as such, but false in the way you mean it. For you attach to this a "materialist" conception of the universe. Thus the universe remains a machine in your imagination, it's just that it now works according to the buttons God is punching instead of autonomously.

However, if I say to my son "Do your homework now, or you will have to do it later and miss Ben 10," then on one hand I'm wanting something absolutely, namely that the homework will be done. And so it will be (at least as far as my fatherly might extends). On the other hand, I also want something relative to the will of my son. Namely that he realizes by himself (admittedly with some prodding) the value of doing his duties now so as to receive what he wants later. I cannot achieve this if I force him to do his homework now. Assume that my son then refuses to do homework now, and later suffers grievously from not watching Ben 10. Did I want this to happen? Yes and no. I certainly wanted to set up the choice, and I still want to keep its consequences in effect. But I did not want my son to actually make this choice, I would have preferred the other one.

My point is that God is not merely designing and directing a machine. God is populating the universe with intelligent, moral agents, and He is respecting and working with their instrumental agency. This complicates considerably the relation between what happens and "what God wants", even though indeed His will necessarily is done in an absolute sense.

quote:
Originally posted by RooK:
It seems to me that the real hurdle with faith in the christian definition of god is the fortitude to accept that it doesn't need to make sense according to our myopic understandings, and that there is ultimately value and purpose to everything - even suffering. Even jlg's end. All of it.

You are right on the money there. Indeed, this is the lesson of Job. However, Christians are not simply facing a Divine chaos. There are two key elements here. On one hand hope and trust in God, on the other hand that we are made in his image and likeness. The former means that even if we do not understand the means, we are confident about the end. The latter means that we are not completely at a loss even now, while looking through a glass darkly, and are confident to obtain full(er) understanding later.

So this hurdle is to be jumped from the other side. It is not that we look at this mess and somehow conclude from it that the Christian faith is reasonable. Rather, having concluded that the Christian faith is reasonable, we can look at this mess and live with it remaining largely unresolved till Christ comes again.

quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
But if there is a God who wants to help, then why the fuck doesn't He? This world could be a paradise tomorrow, if God wanted it to be - if He actually wanted us to be spared the pain and suffering. But clearly, He doesn't. So fuck Him.

Paradise was never intended to be the goal of human life. The goal of human life is life with God Himself, not a supreme version of earthly pleasures. For example, we know explicitly from Jesus Himself that there will be no sex in heaven. (That of course makes perfect sense: sex is ordered to procreation as end, and by then we will have multiplied sufficiently.)

Humans must accept this goal - life with God - truly, freely, but also worthily. This world always has been a proving ground, where God is sufficiently hidden and evil sufficiently present to provide real choice. It was so in paradise. It is so now, after Adam and Eve fouled that up. You still have a race to run and God to win, or lose. And you still have to consider carefully when and where to run.

You may think that you would much prefer the paradise of Adam and Eve as setting for your own race. Are you so sure? There is good reason to assume that the serpent stands for Satan, and tradition tells us that he was the highest of angels, the creature closest to God in all "specs". People often talk of Genesis being a metaphor, but how do you know that it is not a metaphor for a challenge of close-to-Divine difficulty delivered to the preternaturally perfect human Adam? Who says that kicking us out of paradise was not a mercy, reducing that challenge largely to our own and nature's imperfections. That would be a proper starting point to the endless number of second chances then given to Israel, culminating in God doing Himself as man what man so utterly fails to do.

Riffing on Groucho Marx, it seems to me God is saying: "Those are my standards, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
No, this is all God's fault. Ultimately the creator is responsible for the actions of his creation.

If you are asserting that a certain treatment is due to you, then you are implicitly claiming sufficient independence from God to make such demands. You are hence a proper agent, not just a tool. In which case you incur independent responsibility for your actions to similar degree.

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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Soror Magna
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# 9881

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
... However, if I say to my son "Do your homework now, or you will have to do it later and miss Ben 10," then on one hand I'm wanting something absolutely, namely that the homework will be done. And so it will be (at least as far as my fatherly might extends). On the other hand, I also want something relative to the will of my son. Namely that he realizes by himself (admittedly with some prodding) the value of doing his duties now so as to receive what he wants later. I cannot achieve this if I force him to do his homework now. Assume that my son then refuses to do homework now, and later suffers grievously from not watching Ben 10. Did I want this to happen? Yes and no. I certainly wanted to set up the choice, and I still want to keep its consequences in effect. But I did not want my son to actually make this choice, I would have preferred the other one....

Great analogy. My problem is that when we fail to do our homework in the real world, the bad consequences often fall on others and not just ourselves. It's more like the deal is something like, "If you don't do your homework now, neither you nor your sister can watch Doctor Who tonight." (Since you only have one TV and one room and can't afford another TV.) Your daughter would have a right to be pissed with both you and her brother if he didn't do his homework and she missed her show through no fault of her own. And it doesn't really help sister feel much better if you remind her of all the times when was her fault that her brother couldn't watch TV. OliviaG
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RooK

1 of 6
# 1852

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
True as such, but false in the way you mean it.

Yeah, no. I meant exactly "as such". All that other materialistic garbage is pure projection on your part. Especially the mincing anthropomorphizing.
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Martin60
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# 368

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There is NO creation without suffering. For ALL concerned. Suffering suffered and redeemed. ALL will be well. Suffering is REAL. He joins us in it, with it, helplessly. There is NOTHING else He can do about it. And THAT is a comfort to me. He is crucified with us again in our crucifixions. I couldn't care less about all the healings I've never seen and never will. I feel mine every day. jlg is in paradise. Jesus SAVES. Beyond madness and hopeless loss and raging helpless grief and suffering which He partook of FULLY. He WILL fix it. All WILL be well. It HAS to be this obscenely, endlessly real. It's WORTH it. WE'RE worth it. jlg was and is FINE. We'll see her soon. Whole and radiant.

[ 08. January 2012, 22:35: Message edited by: Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard ]

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Love wins

Posts: 17008 | From: Never Dobunni after all. Corieltauvi after all. Just moved to the capital. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
# 8700

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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaG:
My problem is that when we fail to do our homework in the real world, the bad consequences often fall on others and not just ourselves.

In a way yes, in a way no. To modify the analogy slightly, it's more like a father commanding his son to wash the dishes well ahead of dinner time. True, if he doesn't then the whole family suffers. His sister for example then does not have clean dishes to eat from, through no fault of her own. However, the father is primarily going to blame the son for this mess (though the sister is her brother's keeper...). We suffer and thrive through, with and in community, but are judged individually.

quote:
Originally posted by RooK:
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
True as such, but false in the way you mean it.

Yeah, no. I meant exactly "as such". All that other materialistic garbage is pure projection on your part. Especially the mincing anthropomorphizing.
Sorry if I made incorrect assumptions about your opinions. However, your answer here leaves me none the wiser.

The "anthropomorphizing" (the father-son analogy in the 2nd paragraph) was an illustrative example for my own point of view (in the 3rd paragraph) - which is certainly not materialistic, whether it is garbage or not.

Are you saying here that you are some kind of atheistic non-materialist? A Buddhist perhaps? And since you seem to dislike the analogy (2nd paragraph), do you also disagree with what it was supposed to illustrate (3rd paragraph)? Or what?

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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Johnny S
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# 12581

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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaG:
Great analogy. My problem is that when we fail to do our homework in the real world, the bad consequences often fall on others and not just ourselves.

According to the Christian tradition that cuts both ways - it also explains how one good act (by Jesus) can have positive effects on others.

If we lived in a world where we only suffered the negative consequences of our own actions then we could only benefit from our own actions too. Mercy and grace are thus ruled out.

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Golden Key
Shipmate
# 1468

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quote:
Originally posted by RooK:
quote:
Originally posted by Laura:
This probably all sounds mad, but it's a crazy world!

Makes perfect sense to me. If I didn't fundamentally hate people, I might have made similar life decisions as you with respect to church.
Out of curiosity: hating people in the sense of not wanting to hang around with a group of them? (E.g., church.) Or would happily send them all on a space cruise into a black hole? Or...?

(Not poking at you; just trying to understand.)

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

Posts: 18177 | From: Chilling out in an undisclosed, sincere pumpkin patch. | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
RooK

1 of 6
# 1852

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Sorry if I made incorrect assumptions about your opinions.

Quite all right; it happens frequently enough that I'm accustomed to it, and I doubt you meant anything more disparaging than I deserve.

quote:
However, your answer here leaves me none the wiser.
Fair comment. Allow me to answer more fully momentarily.

quote:
The "anthropomorphizing" (the father-son analogy in the 2nd paragraph) was an illustrative example for my own point of view (in the 3rd paragraph) - which is certainly not materialistic, whether it is garbage or not.
No, certainly not materialistic, nor garbage as an analogy for the point you made. But the scope is wrong. If there is a god, creator of existence itself, a better analogy is you building something with Legos and then claiming no agency over its behaviour. Causality and quantum mechanics and every nuance that free will is woven from are all completely understood and forged entirely by the supposed god of which we debate.

quote:
Are you saying here that you are some kind of atheistic non-materialist? A Buddhist perhaps? And since you seem to dislike the analogy (2nd paragraph), do you also disagree with what it was supposed to illustrate (3rd paragraph)? Or what?
I'm agnostic. I have a pretty good idea about what I don't know. To deny the existence of god would require knowing something that I don't. Likewise to affirm. Can't say I would be surprised if there is a god, and would be pretty pleased at what it might mean. Sadly, I can't say that I would be surprised if there isn't a god, either.
Posts: 15171 | From: Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
RooK

1 of 6
# 1852

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quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:
Out of curiosity: hating people in the sense of not wanting to hang around with a group of them? (E.g., church.) Or would happily send them all on a space cruise into a black hole? Or...?

Oh, I have ticks and fleas.

I'm only just barely able to avoid being a forest-dwelling hermit due to my social introversion. Trapped in a room with 7 people I love and adore for more than an hour, I will have carefully devised how to kill each of them. (Though, oddly, will be perfectly happy in a group of 6.)

Meanwhile, my initial appraisal of everybody is that of considerable dislike. I really am a misanthrope. Though, it turns out not to be terribly difficult to win my esteem: just don't be stupid or annoying. Statistically, it appears to be about 17% of people I meet I end up not necessarily willing to eat should the zombie apocalypse arrive.

Posts: 15171 | From: Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Scot
Deck hand
# 2095

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Then it still remains fact that you ignore the fundamental disparity between what you are trying to find evidence for (or against) and what sort of evidence empirical methods can deliver. Empirical evidence requires regularity and repeatability, at least in the observational sense (though experiments are better). It can deal with unique events only if at least their consequences can be accessed multiply (think cosmic microwave background radiation). It can deal with agents, in particular intelligent agents, only by "hiding" from them or at least "outwitting" them (otherwise a "meta-game" with the agent ensues, e.g., the test subjects give the researchers the results they think are wanted). Miracles are by definition non-regular and (fairly) rare, with most not uniquely determinable from their consequences. Furthermore, there absolutely is no hiding from or outwitting of God. Hence if God does not want to be caught in statistics, He will not be caught.

My earlier comments were made in the context of others claiming that miracles occurred in response to the volume of prayer requesting them. If that were the case, one could expect some statistical signal. I agree with you that any deity worth his flowing white beard would be able to outwit human analysis and remain hidden. Such a god probably wouldn't play popularity games with petitioners.

I'm struck, not for the first time, by the contradictions between different believer's concepts of god. Religion would have a good deal more credibility if its adherents could agree amongst themselves on at least the fundamentals.

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“Here, we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” - Thomas Jefferson

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QLib

Bad Example
# 43

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We agree S/He's ineffable, as in you can't get any kind of an effin' handle on Him/Her.

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Tradition is the handing down of the flame, not the worship of the ashes Gustav Mahler.

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
# 8700

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quote:
Originally posted by RooK:
No, certainly not materialistic, nor garbage as an analogy for the point you made. But the scope is wrong. If there is a god, creator of existence itself, a better analogy is you building something with Legos and then claiming no agency over its behaviour. Causality and quantum mechanics and every nuance that free will is woven from are all completely understood and forged entirely by the supposed god of which we debate.

Well, there is at least one "magic" type of lego block in this game, the one that has "really free" written on it. If there is is another "magic" type of lego block called "really random" in this game, as people claim for "quantum mechanics", then these two are related but I believe not identical (freedom is not a Markov chain). Does God know what these kind of blocks are going to do? Yes. But importantly not because He can look at some sort of mechanics within these blocks. Simply because He is outside of time and in some sense sees what they will be doing from an eternal vantage point. If there was a demi-urge, God-like but time-bound, he would not be able to (completely) predict the actions of those constructions that have "really free" blocks in them.

It is really hard to imagine this, because we cannot move our mind out of a time-bound causality mode. But I think of creation more like Pollock painting space-time, with free agents being a flick of the brush with paint held above the canvas. In some sense Pollock is in total control. In some sense he isn't. The paint can fall in a good or bad shape. Now imagine that this is due to some intrinsic property of the paint, not just lack of perfect control over the brush motion. Clearly, Pollock (God...) is then responsible for most of the painting, nearly for all of it. But not quite for all of it. If you like, the point is that Pollock (God...) can look at what He has made and say "wow" or for that matter "damn". And if He says the latter, He can grab the brush again in order to correct it. Or in the worst case, start painting directly with his own hand in order to correct things. An event we call Incarnation...

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Daron:
God is useless because you aren't the centre of his universe. Can you not see how terribly self-centred you're being?

Because humanity isn't the centre of His universe. Subtle difference.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Yorick

Infinite Jester
# 12169

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quote:
Originally posted by Scot:
Religion would have a good deal more credibility if its adherents could agree amongst themselves on at least the fundamentals.

One of my biggest problems with religion is that it lends itself so badly to pluralism. In and of itself, I see no harm in people believing in whatever god they happen to have been indoctrinated into, poor things, or in whichever deity they most want to be real, but when people insist that their god is the Only True God, it inevitably causes trouble for human beings. Disagreement on the fundamentals is the cause, and yet why should they agree? The demographics of religious belief are determined by such arbitrary things as regional culture and sociology, rather than some sort of Universal Absolute Truth. That’s why people may disagree so resolutely (and occasionally murderously) with each other on which of their delusions of god is the right one.

A science-informed non-supernatural worldview at least has the advantage of being much more highly agreeable in its broad stroke. It's so much more elegant.

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این نیز بگذرد

Posts: 7552 | From: Natural Sources | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
Marvin: two questions.

Have you read Brave New World?

If you have, would you want to live in it?

Pass the soma.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
But if there is a God who wants to help, then why the fuck doesn't He? This world could be a paradise tomorrow, if God wanted it to be - if He actually wanted us to be spared the pain and suffering. But clearly, He doesn't. So fuck Him.

Paradise was never intended to be the goal of human life. The goal of human life is life with God Himself, not a supreme version of earthly pleasures.
Eternal life with a God who doesn't care about us?

quote:
Humans must accept this goal
Why? Why couldn't God just create us in a life with Him Himself? Why put us through all this shit first?

quote:
This world always has been a proving ground, where God is sufficiently hidden and evil sufficiently present to provide real choice.
What's so great about real choice, exactly?

quote:
You still have a race to run and God to win, or lose.
That's the problem. If we all have a race to run, and God knows all about the eternal penalties we face for losing, then why does He allow some of us to have our legs broken on the starting blocks?

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
No, this is all God's fault. Ultimately the creator is responsible for the actions of his creation.

If you are asserting that a certain treatment is due to you, then you are implicitly claiming sufficient independence from God to make such demands. You are hence a proper agent, not just a tool. In which case you incur independent responsibility for your actions to similar degree.
If someone built a robot that acted completely randomly, and it went out into the street and killed someone, the creator would be responsible for that death even though it was not due to any specific choice on his part. Simply creating a robot that could act in such a way constitutes criminal recklessness, and not following the robot to prevent anyone getting hurt by it is criminal negligence.

So it is with God. Criminal recklessness and negligence. He created a monster then left it completely unsupervised.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Yorick

Infinite Jester
# 12169

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
the logical problem with your argument is that happiness is actually a positive state on a scale that must have a negative

The scale on which it is measured may have a negative, but that doesn't mean anyone has to exist below any given mark.

If the hypothetical scale of happiness goes from -10 (really unhappy) to +10 (really happy), then why not just lock everybody in at +10? I mean, we incompetent, messed-up humans can develop drugs that will briefly do just that for anyone who takes them, so how much better and more permanent a job could God do?

I missed this, but it seems you haven’t progressed beyond it in any case.

Marvin, I really am struggling to understand your point about this. You seem to be saying that an all-loving, all-powerful God would certainly ensure that nobody suffers in this life. You seem to be suggesting that the Christian God is ‘criminally reckless and negligent’ because he doesn’t magic us into a state of constant happiness, when he could. Have I got that right?

Setting aside the theological arguments about your ideas of the nature of God, I would like to know more about how things would better for the human race in your non-suffering fairytale utopia. Absent all suffering and unhappiness, what would our existence really be like? Can you imagine? Have you thought it through? Because, in my mind, that would be a hideous and terrible existence, far worse than anything I could imagine in a reality in which suffering and unhappiness can and does exist. What, for example, would be the value of our constant happiness? How would we appreciate it?

Lets keep this simple and ignore psychological pain and suffering for a minute. You are right to suggest that modern medicine means nobody needs to suffer physical pain in this world. So why do you suppose we permit pain ever to happen? Is it negligence and cruelty? Do you understand the benefits of somatic pain? Do you realise why we need it for our good health?

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این نیز بگذرد

Posts: 7552 | From: Natural Sources | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged
Chorister

Completely Frocked
# 473

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If we neer felt pain, we would constantly injure ourselves. But I suppose Marvin would say that God would fix it (is his name Jim?) for us never to injure ourselves either. This world does sound rather impossible.

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

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lapsed heathen

Hurler on the ditch
# 4403

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quote:
If the hypothetical scale of happiness goes from -10 (really unhappy) to +10 (really happy), then why not just lock everybody in at +10?
Marvin, I have wondered the same thing and while I don't claim to have an answer that completely satisfies even me, heres where I am FWIW.
If I am locked in to a predefined state what can I become? I am a work in progress, never finished and only stopped at death. If God sets the object at 9 then I will long for 10, if 10, how will I know it's 10? everybody is the same as me and I've aways been like this.
I know it's not much of an answer, more of a question really.

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"We are the Easter people and our song is Alleluia"

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Yorick

Infinite Jester
# 12169

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[CP]

Exactly. Marvin is making a mistake that a great many people do: he supposes we feel pain and suffer for only bad reasons. This is patently not true. We feel pain for a very fucking good reason indeed! Namely, that we need to know something’s wrong.

In certain medical conditions, people unfortunately lose sensation in their extremities. It is most common in diabetes. Because people cannot feel pain when they injure their feet, the damage goes unnoticed and tissue infection can occur. This often progresses unnoticed until it becomes so advanced that the patient develops gangrene and their foot or leg must be amputated.

Pain is good. Pain is your friend. Your body is exquisitely beautifully evolved to suffer when you need it. The same is undoubtedly true for psychological pain, too. It is an absolute necessity that we should feel sadness and unhappiness and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, even though it makes some of us choose not to be.

[ 09. January 2012, 11:17: Message edited by: Yorick ]

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این نیز بگذرد

Posts: 7552 | From: Natural Sources | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
Marvin, I really am struggling to understand your point about this. You seem to be saying that an all-loving, all-powerful God would certainly ensure that nobody suffers in this life. You seem to be suggesting that the Christian God is ‘criminally reckless and negligent’ because he doesn’t magic us into a state of constant happiness, when he could. Have I got that right?

Pretty much. He could give us everything we've ever wanted with no negative side effects, and it wouldn't cost Him a thing or take Him any time. He could make us happy with but a thought. Yet He doesn't - the only conclusion it's possible to draw is that He doesn't actually care if we're happy or not.

quote:
Setting aside the theological arguments about your ideas of the nature of God, I would like to know more about how things would better for the human race in your non-suffering fairytale utopia. Absent all suffering and unhappiness, what would our existence really be like? Can you imagine? Have you thought it through?
We would be blissfully happy. Forever. Nothing could ever harm us, physically or mentally. Truly, it would be heaven.

quote:
Because, in my mind, that would be a hideous and terrible existence, far worse than anything I could imagine in a reality in which suffering and unhappiness can and does exist. What, for example, would be the value of our constant happiness? How would we appreciate it?
Who cares? We certainly wouldn't! We'd be blissfully happy all the time, so we wouldn't need concepts like "value" and "appreciation".

quote:
Lets keep this simple and ignore psychological pain and suffering for a minute. You are right to suggest that modern medicine means nobody needs to suffer physical pain in this world.
Not only have I not said that, it's a pile of crap anyway. Medicine cannot stop all pain without any side effects.

(But if it can, could I have a prescription for about thirty years' worth of whatever drug has that effect? Please?)

quote:
So why do you suppose we permit pain ever to happen? Is it negligence and cruelty? Do you understand the benefits of somatic pain? Do you realise why we need it for our good health?
Yes, it's because we live in a shitty world that's rammed full with things that want to destroy us, and without the agony of physical pain we'd be less able to fight back or run away.

In this world, everything you say is true. Which is why I've consistently said that my vision would require a completely new creation.

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Hail Gallaxhar

Posts: 29953 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Yorick

Infinite Jester
# 12169

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[CP, again]

... and on a slightly less mechanistic, more lyrical note...

Why should God stop with eliminating pain and suffering? Why not give us wings, whilst you’re at it, so we can fly? Surely, it’s cruel in the extreme to expect us to fucking walk everywhere, when flying would be soooo much more convenient, and, well, nicer. Or X-ray eyes? Or gills, so we could breathe underwater? Hell, He should have made us all gods ourselves- omniscient and omnipotent! Only then could we reasonably call him all-loving!

But wait a minute…

If we were like that, physically and psychologically perfect and unable to suffer pain or sadness, we would not be human at all, would we? We would be something very else. Indeed, we would be the most inhuman beings of all.

To suffer, to feel pain and sadness, to bleed and to disease and to die is to be human. Suck it up and stop whingeing about how ‘cruel’ it all is. Understand how unutterably, magnificently amazing it is that we are the wretched creatures we are.

[ 09. January 2012, 11:30: Message edited by: Yorick ]

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این نیز بگذرد

Posts: 7552 | From: Natural Sources | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged
Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
Setting aside the theological arguments about your ideas of the nature of God, I would like to know more about how things would better for the human race in your non-suffering fairytale utopia. Absent all suffering and unhappiness, what would our existence really be like? Can you imagine? Have you thought it through? Because, in my mind, that would be a hideous and terrible existence, far worse than anything I could imagine in a reality in which suffering and unhappiness can and does exist. What, for example, would be the value of our constant happiness? How would we appreciate it?

Hence my question regarding Brave New World. Marvin's response of "Pass the soma" may well indicate that he has thought it through.

Personally, I couldn't countenance living in such a world, or following such a god: to do so would be more intolerable than the situation we seem to find ourselves in now.

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Forward the New Republic

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by lapsed heathen:
If I am locked in to a predefined state what can I become? I am a work in progress, never finished and only stopped at death.

No, you would already be the completed product. No further progress or development would be required.

quote:
If God sets the object at 9 then I will long for 10, if 10, how will I know it's 10? everybody is the same as me and I've aways been like this.
As long as "this" is a good thing to be like, where's the problem?

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Hail Gallaxhar

Posts: 29953 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Yorick

Infinite Jester
# 12169

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Medicine cannot stop all pain without any side effects.

... and nor can the Christian God, it would seem, since to make our lives perfect would be to deprive us of our actual humanness. Do you see?

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این نیز بگذرد

Posts: 7552 | From: Natural Sources | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged
IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
# 8700

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quote:
Originally posted by Scot:
My earlier comments were made in the context of others claiming that miracles occurred in response to the volume of prayer requesting them. If that were the case, one could expect some statistical signal. I agree with you that any deity worth his flowing white beard would be able to outwit human analysis and remain hidden. Such a god probably wouldn't play popularity games with petitioners.

I'm not sure that the sheer volume is the main criterion, but I consider it entirely possible - even likely - that God on one hand is occasionally responding to petitionary prayer in the straightforward sense ("Please heal granny. Amen.", whereupon granny is healed) and on the other hand will thwart attempts to nail this down with medical statistics. And not so because God likes to play devious games with poor scientists. It probably would be too compelling to allow scientists to demonstrate the efficacy of prayer. It would make atheist or at least materialist points of view unmaintainable, and all but eliminate the importance of faith. Also God likely wants to discourage any mechanical use of prayer. If there was some simple causality between say the volume of prayer and its effect, then a rich person might pay plenty of people to pray for him in order to force God to miraculously heal him. That sure is not in God's interest.

All that said, frankly I would not trust any study on the efficacy of prayer further than I can spit, whether it delivers positive or negative results. The experimental confounds are basically not controllable except in some ridiculously contrived setting that bears little resemblance to the normal situation. I'm not even sure that the research question can be properly formulated, given the tremendous variety of what is called "prayer" or for that matter "belief".

quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
quote:
Originally posted by Scot:
Religion would have a good deal more credibility if its adherents could agree amongst themselves on at least the fundamentals.

One of my biggest problems with religion is that it lends itself so badly to pluralism. In and of itself, I see no harm in people believing in whatever god they happen to have been indoctrinated into, poor things, or in whichever deity they most want to be real, but when people insist that their god is the Only True God, it inevitably causes trouble for human beings. Disagreement on the fundamentals is the cause, and yet why should they agree? The demographics of religious belief are determined by such arbitrary things as regional culture and sociology, rather than some sort of Universal Absolute Truth. That’s why people may disagree so resolutely (and occasionally murderously) with each other on which of their delusions of god is the right one.
Basically, bollocks. Firstly, any sort of cultural system that strives to discern and disseminate truth is necessarily opposed to pluralism. That has nothing to do with any specific fault of religion as such, but with the simple fact that if there is any truth at all, then there ever is only one truth. There is no such thing as "my truth" and "your truth", that's confusing opinion with truth. For example, modern natural science is nothing but an elaborate social system aimed at eliminating as much pluralism concerning statements about nature as humanly possible. (If any postmodernist wants to argue this, they are kindly invited to step in front of a bus. One going a hundred miles per hour. While arguing the ambiguity of Newton's laws and material properties.)

Religion does not have a special pluralism problem. Religion has a morality problem. If your science is wrong, at worst people can conclude that you suck at science and in consequence may decide to fire you. If your religion is wrong, at worst people can conclude that you are evil and decide to burn you. Religion has direct moral significance, science does not. That's why the necessary non-pluralism of the former is so much harder to manage than the necessary non-pluralism of the latter.

Secondly, religions - at least theist ones - are sufficiently agreeing on the fundamentals for you as an atheist to reject them all. You do not study the intricate details of this or that religion before stating that you disbelief it. And of course this is mutual, all religions (at least theist ones) agree that as an atheist you are fundamentally wrong. It may in fact be difficult to state with precision what these fundamentals are on which religionists all agree according to you. Well, that would just go to show how weak your position actually is: in that case you can't even state clearly what you are rejecting. But you are rejecting, you are making a judgement on fundamentals (however ill-defined and badly informed) and therefore all this guff about how disagreements between religions reduce their credibility is just cheap rhetoric. Neither theists, nor atheists, are in practice hindered by some supposed disagreement about fundamentals between the religions. At least not concerning their choice to become theists or atheists, respectively. There may be some people who have a problem deciding what sort of theist to become, but that simply is a different issue.

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

Posts: 12010 | From: Gone fishing | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
If we were like that, physically and psychologically perfect and unable to suffer pain or sadness, we would not be human at all, would we? We would be something very else. Indeed, we would be the most inhuman beings of all.

Fine then. I don't want to be human.

quote:
To suffer, to feel pain and sadness, to bleed and to disease and to die is to be human.
Then being human fucking sucks.

quote:
Suck it up and stop whingeing about how ‘cruel’ it all is.
Never. As long as I still believe there is a God, I am going to be screaming my accusations at Him with all the power my voice can muster.

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Hail Gallaxhar

Posts: 29953 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
fletcher christian

Mutinous Seadog
# 13919

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posted by Ingo:

quote:

Basically, bollocks. Firstly, any sort of cultural system that strives to discern and disseminate truth is necessarily opposed to pluralism.

I suspect this is very much a western societal disease

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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Yorick

Infinite Jester
# 12169

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Fine then. I don't want to be human.

I hate to be the one to break this to you, but I’m afraid you have no choice. Any complaints are therefore futile whingeing.
quote:
Then being human fucking sucks.
Well sure, some of the time, but in my opinion it beats the (real, not fairytale) alternative. I suffer quite a lot, but some people suffer more than me, and others suffer more then they, and so on, and on. Most people would very much rather be alive than dead, despite all this, so I’m guessing life has something going for it for most of us. I’m sorry it doesn’t work like that for you, and others.
quote:
Never. As long as I still believe there is a God, I am going to be screaming my accusations at Him with all the power my voice can muster.
Okay. Good luck with that.

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این نیز بگذرد

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Yorick

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# 12169

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
...religions - at least theist ones - are sufficiently agreeing on the fundamentals for you as an atheist to reject them all.

Indeed.

You say my point is bollocks, but then you carefully agree with it. Yes, from an atheist perspective, the fact that all religions think they're right and (often) that all others are wrong reduces the credibility of all religions- to an atheist. The fact that all religions also have something else in common (they're all wrong) from an atheist perspective does not contradict this. That they are united in their wrongness in this way does not speak to their (lack of) credibility in the face of their ‘disagreement on the fundamentals’, I'm afraid. That just makes it look embarassing.

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این نیز بگذرد

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Evensong
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# 14696

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quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
Yes, from an atheist perspective, the fact that all religions think they're right and (often) that all others are wrong reduces the credibility of all religions- to an atheist.

And the fact that all atheists think they're right and (often) all others are wrong reduces the credibility of all atheists - to a religionist.

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a theological scrapbook

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Yorick

Infinite Jester
# 12169

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Yes. Let's all just have a great big hug (except Marvin. He just needs a lifetime supply of Flunitrazepam).

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این نیز بگذرد

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Evensong
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# 14696

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quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Then being human fucking sucks.

Well sure, some of the time, but in my opinion it beats the (real, not fairytale) alternative. I suffer quite a lot, but some people suffer more than me, and others suffer more then they, and so on, and on. Most people would very much rather be alive than dead, despite all this, so I’m guessing life has something going for it for most of us. I’m sorry it doesn’t work like that for you, and others.
Ditto that.

You would really choose non existence over existence Marvin?

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a theological scrapbook

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Laura
General nuisance
# 10

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I think Marvin may have painted himself into a rhetorical corner, because I can't believe the extremity of that position. But if that's the case, Marvin, then I do think you can at least be happy that modern science has got some pretty good soma to take off the rough edges.

As for me, I'm taking this whole "human" thing and running with it. And I actually like the "free will" thing, too -- it gives me a sense of having "skin in the game". And in the end, the fact that humans are mortal is what makes life so precious. As Wallace Stevens wrote, "Death is the mother of beauty."

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Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. - Erich Fromm

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fletcher christian

Mutinous Seadog
# 13919

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I tend to think of free will as dignity. A love that is big enough to bear rejection and to know the pain of that freedom is better than a love that is controlling, that is barely love at all.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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