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Old 07-26-2009, 05:28 PM   #68
Achilles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I'm not sure you've quite understood the point I was trying to get across. Those are religious concepts, but not necessarily superstitious ones.
And my argument is that there is no difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
As per my definition, they do not arise from fear, misunderstanding of biology, etc.
Per my earlier post the former is not a requirement. Regarding the latter, it might not "arise" from such a misunderstanding, but the misunderstanding is there, nonetheless. Your source mentions nothing about having to be derived from misunderstanding, only that erroneous belief is present.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
They are taught to a person and incorporated into their lives, like any other cultural phenomenon.
And that's fine, so long as you aren't positing that people cannot be taught to be superstitious. I suspect that our difference here is that you believe that someone has to be aware that what they believe is superstition in order for it to be so and I do not.

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
One can believe in the virgin birth without being superstitious because it is taught to one as something given. --Well, is it possible that you could have a virgin birth? But that was never in question; it happened, and that's that. Sort of like criticizing Zeus' ability to fire lightning bolts by saying, "No one can do that; it's ridiculous to even think about it." You'd have missed the point at any rate.
See above. Having been indoctrinated into a belief does not mean that the belief is not superstition. All it means is that people can be indoctrinated into superstitious belief.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I have absolutely no clue what "evidence for the omnipotence" of God in nature is supposed to mean.
Unless I misunderstood your point, the argument was that god's omnipotence is as natural as your being able to walk. My point is that if you look at the animal kingdom one would expect to find locomotion and would not be surprised to see bi-pedal locomotion because it's everywhere. There is nothing exceptional (in the literal usage) about it.

Omnipotence on the other hand is another matter entirely. Therefore I find the comparison erroneous and the argument fallacious.

Again, if I am missing something, please let me know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
There is a religious mythology which includes a God which can do anything it wants, i.e, omnipotence. The closest thing I can come to within that religion is the existence of the universe - often a favorite among theologians - but that is obviously not scientific evidence of any sort. But this sort of investigation is the wrong direction to look in.

God is often said, for example, in Psalms to be almighty. There's a tendency to take this at face value, though, which would be simply wrong. Reading the whole of Psalms, you discover it is a book of praise from ancient times, similar to how a supplicant might address their Emperor. "Oh almighty Caesar, with such purply robes and esteemed forehead...."

And we're to take such a thing as if it were to mean that Caesar is an omnipotent being? Not only that, but we want to find evidence for the hypothesis that Caesar is an omnipotent being? You see my point.

Incidentally, St. Anselm was guilty of this exact mistake when he formulated his ontological argument. The Psalms were written long enough before he came around that he was able to pass over (accidentally, I'm sure) what was actually being said in them and create metaphysics where there was none.
No doubt that you and I could go on all day about how christian doctrine came to be what it is today. My concern is not how we got here, but what we can determine about the claims (and doctrine) we see today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
You're treating Christianity as if it were something other than what it is: religious teaching. I'm sure you know how people come to believe in it as well as I do. Why equate that with information gleaned from more modern rationalistic methodologies?
With regards to your first point, you are absolutely correct. I am treating christianity as a series of claims about history and nature. Furthermore I am positing that those claims are superstitious in nature. I thought that's what we were discussing

With regards to your question: I pit these claims against modern rationalistic methodologies because adherents not only insist that these claims still have relevence, but that they are superior to all others. In other words, I do it because they ask me to

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
There are two ways to treat any subject of knowledge. Either you can look at it subjectively, i.e, in this case through the eyes of the believer, or objectively, i.e., study what causes people to say what they do in order to understand what it means for them to say it.

You ask what the rationale is for God's omnipotence. Here's the objective treatment: that's how it is in Christianity. You can poke around and find reasons why this is so from a nearly unlimited supply of theologians, the influence of Aristotle on Christian thought in the middle ages, interpretations of Biblical passages, from the history of the Jewish people and their religion, from how their culture was in antiquity and how it changed through time.

Now compare this with your "looking for evidence of omnipotence". You're interested in getting to the truth of the matter, undoubtedly. But if that's so, then your questions should not ignore your knowledge of modern-day religion as a long-running historical and sociological phenomenon. Doing so would be similar to making the mistake Anselm did: extracting a word from natural discourse and divorcing it completely from the original context, and then becoming confused at why it was so hard to justify.
The claims that we are dancing around are not historical claims, sir. They are made right here and now. Every day.

Beliefs have consequences and we either have good reasons for the things that we believe or we do not. We can talk all day about how people tricked, duped, or indoctrinated into believing things for bad reasons, but that won't magically make them good ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I agree with you completely that Christians believe in the supernatural. I just don't see that belief in the supernatural entails superstition.
And perhaps this puts us at an impasse.

Per your own source:

Quote:
an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition
Tell me what's rational about christian doctrine and I will (hopefully) be able to see your point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I'm sure it could persuade me. But it couldn't prove to me that it was God, in the sense that doubt would be logically excluded. Once you start proving/giving evidence for things, doubt always enters the equation as a matter of conceptual necessity in English.
Again, I'm pretty sure that a truly omnipotent being would be able to find a way. I may or may not lack the imagination to know what that would look like, but I'm pretty sure I'll never have to worry about it either, so...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
Okay, I'm just trying to make this clear again: I am not, and have not, attempted to argue that all of Christianity is unsuperstitious.
Okay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I merely disagreed with the label of superstition for Christianity because a social practice is not necessarily superstitious, even if it includes supernatural elements.
And I disagree. I think we both agree that social practices are not inherently superstitious. I also think we both agree that social practices can be superstitious.

I think that christianity definitely is a social practice that is superstitious. Your counter-argument (as I have understood it thus far) has been "well, many of them don't know that it's superstition, therefore it's not superstitious". My rebuttal is that it does not matter.

This is where I think we are right now. Please let me know if you see it differently.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
They do not have to be ignorant of science or logic, they do not have to be afraid of the unknown, they do not have to trust in magic or chance, they do not have to have a wrongheaded idea of causation--
But christian doctrine is all of these things.

Pick any claim put forth by christian doctrine and it will meet one (or more) of these criteria. That the person accepting the claim is aware of this or not is irrelevant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
Thanks to you, also.
My pleasure. I am looking forward to your response.

Last edited by Achilles; 07-26-2009 at 07:43 PM.
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