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Old 04-17-2008, 06:07 AM   #53
Achilles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I agree that people doing that isn't intellectually honest.
But you yourself have drawn conclusions regarding his nature, have you not? If you are making the argument that his nature is knowable, then I don't think it unfair for us to expect for you to be able to produce definitive answers to the questions raised in the original post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I think it's entirely possible for a person's faith to either be a crutch or something that holds you back from being all you can, just as I also think it can be a life jacket to keep a person from drowning. Faith that has as it's root living in denial that bad things happen to good people and vice versa, falls more into the area that definitely keeps people from their best, because they don't deal with the world the way events really happen.
Okay, however what you've shared here indicates that you don't really know why events really happen either. We've already established that you're conclusions regarding god are your "best guess" have we not? "Guessing" and "knowing" are not the same thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
As to the second part of that...<snip>
A lot of good information here, but nothing that addresses the point. I am well aware of the expansive menu of mental gymnastics variations that are available to anyone looking to select which variation of "absolute truth" is right for them. What I'm still left to reconcile after reading this part of your post is how god is perfect but not perfectly good. Maybe your underlying point was that god isn't perfect, but that would bring me back to my question of "why worship him then?". You offer a personal appeal below, but I was hoping for something with less subjective underpinnings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
God is worthy of my worship for saving my life and soul, pulling me through my health problems, and sending the people into my life whom I know and love. I really can't speak for anyone else other than to say that God has been benevolent to me, all in all.
What evidence to you have that supports any of these claims? I understand that you have opted to believe that god is responsible for these things, but I think you'd be hard pressed to provide evidence for the "hand of god".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
There is evidence against the hyper literalism that fundamentalist groups practice. There really isn't for points of view that see the purpose of the bible as something other than a natural history book or cook book on how to create a world.
Let's broaden our scope a little while addressing the entirety of the point that I raised:

What do we gain for accepting things without evidence?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Really, so there's a religion that claims that?
That god enriches lives? Yes, sir there are several (all of them?), but you yourself said it which prompted my comment.

Or were you hoping to bat away my point regarding invisible pink unicorns? I certainly hope this second scenario isn't the case, because then I might be inclined to believe that you intend to argue that beliefs are only legitimate if signed off on by a "bona fide" religion. In which case, I would ask which "bona fide" religion signed off on your personal belief system?

In the mean time, I think my point still stands: "God enriches my life" and "invisble pink unicorns enrich my life" really are equivocal statements. You probably wouldn't feel comfortable making one, yet you seem to have no problem making the other. Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Well you ask what standard I use...

The books of the bible arent one source, but many sources that span over millenia, really touching on multiple cultures as well. In spite of the diversity of the authors, there is a remarkable cohesiveness. I know. Not flawless, but you do have to look at the contradictions and go with the preponderance.
Really? Why? Again, you've already acknowledged that edits have been made. What if "the preponderance" is what was added and not what was intended. So once more, why bother? If we can use our own moral judgment to select "the good stuff", then what do we gain by using this source at all?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Generally I don't believe things unless I see them in multiple sources, and unless I know that it was a priority to Jesus to put them into practice. Leviticus and Deuteronomy both talk about not believing things from just one source, sort of a lesser scientific method applied to religion, if you will.
And your evidence for knowing what Jesus wanted put into practice? The bible. The same bible that you've acknowledged is not extant. Circular reasoning, my friend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Example:
So you see Paul condemning women preachers and says "he wants" them to be silent in 1 of the Epistles attributed to him. In all of this, there's no mention of what God wants, but Paul specifically saying that he wants women to be quiet. On the other hand, you see him greeting women in prominent positions within the church in his letters as though they were equals. Greeting women as equals was not the practice of either the hebrew or greek culture he came from. Both viewed women as property. Nor was it the practice of the Romans, which he was a Roman citizen. Again, they legally saw women as property.

Where did this behavior come from? It had to be a newly accepted practice in some christian circles for it to be done at all. To that you add Paul's saying that in Christ's fellowship "there is neither Jew, nor greek, male nor female, slave nor free..." Also that most of Jesus' followers were women. What do you really think was the message to take from a prohibition that's made in 1 book, but said is irrelevant another, and shown to be irrelevant in a third as well as the gospels? I'd go with the greater number of sources as well as Jesus' actions in what he supported in trying to derive a moral principle.
This is a case study in mental gymnastics. On one hand you have what Paul *said* (which is rather clear) and on the other you have what Paul did (I'd love to see your sources on this, btw) and then you're left to reconcile them. And why are you left to reconcile them? Because you feel it important to do so. One that did not feel so inclined might simply recognize that people are sometimes inconsistent, either because they lack self-awareness or because they playing politics, and then conclude that time trying to reconcile what Paul *really* thought is time wasted. Paul has as much or as little significance you choose to assign to him.

PS: you also forgot to consider that Paul was attempting to establish his new church in many different areas with many different cultures. So while your "nose-count" method of determining reality, a more critical approach might conclude that he was telling one group one thing and another group something else, knowing that the likelihood of the two groups coming together to compare notes is small. Yes, you might conclude that only makes sense if Paul had an agenda, but then you might also be able to determine what it is I think of Paul (hint: snake oil salesman).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I do, and I don't necessarily see that as the horrible thing you seem to.
Truthfully sir, your response implies that you don't (not sure how "horrible" has any context in the point I was making).

The point is it is impossible to use a holy text as the criteria for determining which parts of the holy text are "correct" and which are not. Similarly, a police officer would not use a suspect's response to the question "are you lying to me?" as the sole criteria by which to determine if the suspect is lying. So if the holy text itself cannot be used because it is inconsistent and therefore unreliable, then clearly you have to be using some other criteria to determine which parts you're going to accept and which you're going to reject.

Somehow "good" christians figure out that they want to follow the love your neighbor part. Somehow "good" muslims figure out how to follow the "islams means 'peace'" part. Arguably they are coming to these conclusion by cherry-picking from their texts, but my point is to emphasize that the *real* moral judgment comes from the cherry-picking, not from the texts. Once you acknowledge that (*REALLY* acknowledge that), the texts have no more significance (any more so than 2000 year old dating guide for singles would).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Informed judgements after being aware of all your options are better than ones made in ignorance, so knowing something of context of other decisions made in other cultures isn't wasted time or effort, whether you believe the same or not. Additionally, learning some of the context and reasons under which others acted can broaden your options instead of narrowing them as you seem to think can only come from religion.
Again, I think you miss the point of the argument. Yes, informed decisions are better than uninformed ones, but by limiting oneself to sources that are known to be inconsistent and unreliable, how "informed" are you really? You're going to have to convince me that the moral guidance offered in the bible is somehow superior to the moral guidance offered by the 2000 years of advancement in moral philosophy that has taken place since it was drafted. And you're going to have to show me how you are not using those advances yourself while cherry-picking which parts of the bible we're supposed to ignore if you want me to believe that you really think that the bible is the important moral resource you seem to be arguing for here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Independently implemented, but that doesn't mean that I don't owe a bit of debt to thinkers and theologians who came before. I do borrow extensively from the thoughts of others to make more informed choices, I'm just not bound by their conclusions. I weigh the evidence myself after looking at the issues involved, and why they say what they think, and if the reasons behind the reasons they give are compelling sometimes I discard old conclusions in light of new evidence. Why's that so hard to understand happening in matters of faith?
Of course you do and I don't think I implied otherwise (in fact you appear to be repeating what I said using different words ).

What is hard to understand is apparent boundary that you set up for the outcome. You've repeatedly stress that the outcome of a crisis of faith *has to be* (or *should be*) a strengthened resolve. Why? Because that's the boundary you've placed there.

I have no doubt that you do examine certain aspects of your belief and replace parts as needed, etc. But let's be honest and acknowledge that you're doing so with the understanding that the result still has to meet certain criteria (i.e. being a christian, etc).

So please do not confuse my critique of your conclusion as a lack of understanding in your process. I hope that helps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
As to the part about the values I select and not God bringing meaning to my life, I'd disagree with. God brings meaning to my life.
How? You've already acknowledge that *you* select which characteristics god has, etc. *You* do that, sir. The result is not "god", it is your take on "god". And I'm not saying that you aren't allowed to do that. What I am saying is that I don't think you're being very honest if you turn around and ignore that fact so that you can say "god brings meaning to my life".

I have no doubt that "the idea of god" brings meaning to your life, but that isn't the same thing and that was my point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
depends in what sense you mean that.
Only that if you are going to accept religion as part of your life, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me to do it less than fully. This is my continued point about fundamentalists. At least their actions make sense within the context of what they claim to believe. I can't say the same is true for moderate and liberal theists.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I can say that they aren't literal in adopting the priorities that Jesus said were important to adopt, because most people that describe themselves as literalists that I've seen have focused on things that he actually said should not be priorities.
Except that you yourself are cherry-picking jesus, just as they are. You are judging their actions through the lens you've selected. Again, not wrong or bad, but let's be honest about it and try really hard not to be hypocritical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
You're certainly welcome to your opinion, but you don't know me nearly as well as you think if that's your opinion.
I would suppose that it would foolish for me to claim that I know you at all. However I think I know faith very well. It's like saying that I don't know ice cream because I've never seen *you* eat it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I still say that a different covenant for a different people.
And you're entitled to that opinion sir. I would ask you to consider this though:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew 5:17-19
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
By the time of the New Testament, God was done with blessing only one nation, and used the nation he'd created to bless the rest of the world.<snip>
Please see the first part of this post where we discuss knowing god's nature.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
A lot of people who claim to follow him don't adopt the priorities he said were important, instead focusing on making sure all the minutae throughout all the Bible are observed, deemphasizing Jesus's words, mission, and example to go with points of view he specifically dispelled.
Except when he was also advocating them (compliments of a different gospel author or Paul)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
The matthew quote. I guess you could argue that Christians being belligerant towards non-Christians is a good thing based on this, and I'm sure that you can dig up some people that do. It could also be a reference to other's reactions to not hearing something they don't want to, which is my personal belief.
Again, the author's point

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Context for understanding how the original hearers would take things in large part. Additionally examples of how God fights for those whom he's covenanted to love, and does play favorites.
Okay. And this is fact, or your opinion?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I don't know what to say to that other than I don't see how.
Because you are still trying to begrudge others for cherry-picking while you are cherry-picking as well. Your contention would seem stem from them not cherry-picking the same parts that you have. I say, "Tough. That's life. How about *everybody* stop cherry-picking and let's have a serious dialog instead?".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I'm sure that altruism is the predominant reason of those who vote the power hungry fundamentalist rhetoric speaking politicians into office. I'm equally as sure that those running aren't motivated by the same thing at all in most cases.
I am still undecided. One one hand I want to believe that people that are capable of obtaining those positions are smarter than that (meaning that they are holding false views to gain power for power's sake), but then I see one of them do something really stupid and I have to go back to considering that they really do buy into it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I guess I can see this in the stem cell debate at least.
"At least", yes. As well as every other social issue I can think to discuss...besides maybe gun rights.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
And I think you paint with too broad a brush as far as seeing theism as the source of all the world's ills...
Maybe not "theism" per se, but definitely dogmatism.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
...and blind yourself to attrocities perpetrated by athiests as well.
Oh lordy, here we go...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I mean yeah theists bring things like the spanish inquisition or the crusades, but Josef Stalin and Mao Tse tsung were hardly saints for their atheism either.
Except that atheism had nothing to do with their actions. The flavor of authoritarianism that these men adopted just happened to also be atheistic, but as atheism has no central tenets to be interpreted dogmatically, their atheism is completely unrelated. Please see numerous examples of theistic authoritarian regimes and their atrocities if you don't believe me. And if you're feeling especially froggy, feel free to explain why largely non-theistic *and* non-authoritarian countries, such as Norway, have somehow managed to consistently top the human development index rather than mirror Russia or China.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
And while many of Hitler's followers and suporters considered themselves Christians, he didn't believe in a God. So I'd say that there's a matter of level of dogmatism and obsession to be considered.
Right. Except there are no "central atheist tenents" which one could interpret dogmatically. Heck, most times you can't even get atheists to agree on what it is to be an atheist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
the questions are written for shock value, and given in a context of catching complacent satisfied people off guard then quickly capitalizing on their moment of doubt by presenting the author's own point of view as solution to their dilema. At least that's what I gather is supposed to happen.
Looking at the questions, I can only see a few that *might* possibly be taken this way (and conceding those is a stretch). Again, it seems that you're seeing this how you *want* to see it, but you appear at least partially willing to acknowledge this, so...

You know, it may also just be that these are really important questions that need to be answered by people that claim to believe in a righteous and caring god. You've already indicated that you believe he is neither, so clearly you're not part of his audience. I'd like to think that I've raised equivalent questions that are specific for you, but you're not really answering those either
(In all fairness, you have been more than gracious in accepting several of my points, but I guess the question is what are you going to do with that?).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I take it you've never seen an altar call in some of the more country baptist or pentacostal churches? Some of them have the same people getting saved from their sins hundreds of times because they are brought to question whether any of the previous times were real and the hearers feel bad.
No, I have not see that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
And yes, the video does carefully choose its words for shock value. Yes rationality is a factor, and it attempts to present a logical chain, but it does state how the maker of the video sees things starkly, and paints things very much in black and white.
I submit that's because it's because it is black and white. Either god does care or he doesn't. He audience is those that say that he does. You feel that he doesn't, therefore you are not part of his intended audience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Both groups place faith that there is some merit to their traditions.
Apologies, but that did not help at all. I still maintain that whether you believe he should appear to you or not is completely irrelevant to the point that he hasn't. The traditions of each individual flavor of christianity seems to have little bearing on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
It happens, but I don't think it's anywhere near as common as you seem to.
It happens all the time. Some other guy's belief that it's okay to drive drunk might cause and accident or death. Some other guy's belief that "global warming" is a fad/hoax is directly impacting our environment. Some other guy's belief that it's acceptable to steal other people's lunches out of the office fridge is causing someone to break their diet. And according to Pat Robertson, some other guy's homosexuality is causing hurricanes and tsunamis. We do not live in a vacuum. The beliefs of "some other guy" can and do have consequences for others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Not into thinking critically. Into coming to the same conclusion as he already had. But I see your point that he probably saw his intentions as more benign as you described, than predatory to prove he was right and other people wrong and taking the opportunity to demonize his philosophical opposition while they weren't there to defend themselves.
And if he arrived at those conclusions via critical thinking? Right, hence why he posted it on youtube and invited responses

You're going to have to do better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Life without a relationship with God and in which there is no higher purpose in suffering, the relationships we form, what we learn, where we came from, or where we go when we die.
But you already said suffering was random. If it is random, then how can it serve a higher purpose? You're trying to have it both ways again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
True there would still be some meaning in the relationships we form and if we're lucky what we accomplish in life just as with my view of things. But if we come from nothing go back to nothing, how do you get something from nothing?
You ever just go for a drive? Or a walk? "Purpose" is an illusion just as the concept of "destination" is an illusion. Your life has as much or as little purpose as you decide it has. If you've convinced yourself that accepting an idea about god gives you purpose then that self-deception can be useful, just as Dumbo's belief in magic feathers "gave" him the ability to fly. But that doesn't change what it is.

The point I made earlier still stands: we've all created our "purpose", some just recognize that a little more clearly than others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I'm not convinced that Hell is a literal place. I think it's more likely a state of being in eternal separation from relationships to loved ones and God after death, with eternity to only look back in regret for opportunities missed.
That's great, but you're still completely screwed if you're wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
But even it when I believed it was literal in its description of sheol, hades, the lake of fire, and gehena as places (it never actually says hell anywhere) avoiding that wasn't my main motivation. If your actions of placing faith in God is not based on a sincere desire for a relationship with God rather than fear, then the bible itself says many times that you really haven't done anything for yourself or gotten delivered from sin.

So if you're sincere at all, and it's a real commitment at all, escaping punishment can't be your motivation.
Do I need to point out here that children are typically indoctrinated into their religion at a very young age when they still believe in things like "Santa" and "the boogeyman"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Sorry. I am trying to reconcile two things into my life that the bible tells me are true, and that I've seen some evidence for in both the sheer levels of organization and simultaneous chaotic nature of the nature of the particles in the string and quantum physics laws.<snip>
Glad to hear that you're still hashing things out and that you're more willing than most to keep an open mind. Keep plugging away at it and I'm sure you'll find resolution at some point...just try not to artificially limit your selection of outcomes

Take care.
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