Debate and Discussion

Religion versus atheism
Tantz Aerine at 6:18AM, Nov. 19, 2010
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I think I see what you're saying, but I'm not sure why you're asking me which I want to know.

Actually, purely practical reasons to see how to weigh the detail of my answer.

I wanted to know which was the case – it was to point out that it can't be both, and that either case presents major problems that (in my opinion) have no satisfactory answer.

To state the dilemma again: “Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?”

Actually, it CAN be both. Just like a dot can be a line, if you take it from the two-dimensional plane to the three-dimensional one. It can even prove to be more shapes, if you keep adding dimensions.

What I mean to say is, that in order to really answer this, you'd have to zoom out, so to speak, and ask another question: “Assuming that God created the world- whatever that means- and everything in it, do we accept that morality, thus morally good values, are also a construct or not?”

Because that will definitely lead you to get your answer in the conundrum you pose.

You will of course tell me that this is something you can't scientifically ascertain (whether God created the world) but actually its answer goes hand in hand with what you define God as. I won't go into belief, because then we'll move on to other planes in the discussion.

For example, is it wrong to kill others because killing is wrong? Or is it wrong because God condemns it?

Are you sure God condemns it in all cases? There's the rub! :D

Each case has different implications, which I'll briefly describe:


… Worship of God is, then, merely worship of a very powerful being who will eternally punish those who do not please him.

These thought processes strikes me as more of a justification as to why not believe in God rather than an issue on good vs evil and its objective or subjective existence.

I guess the point of me bringing this up was to get your response to the implications of either case. To me, God's supposed omnibenevolence illustrates the self-contradictory nature of God, in a similar way to his supposed omnipotence, omniscience, and omni-presence.

Well for one thing, allow me a theological statement in saying that God has allowed us free to experiment and see whether we need Him or not. You can go either way and won't be stopped.

Now, theology and beliefs aside, I could tell you that the good vs evil compass is within you anyway for as long as you live (and have a personality) and it's your choice to listen to it- and it would be anyone's claim or debate that this compass still is God telling you what is and isn't right to do, depending on how much you are willing/practiced to listen.

There is no implication as to the existence of God and whether you should worship him, based at least on these premises, because I think they are irrelevant to the general way things are. If God created the cosmos and everything in it, He also created morality, and thus one could argue nature more or less conforms to that morality (this said invery broad strokes) and hence your reality, including what you believe/think/ decide is good is so because He said so whether you recognise it or not, whether there exists one book or many on it or not, since He created this whole anyway.

I am not sure whether I am making good syntax here but I hope the message still gets through.

For example, if God is omnipotent, could he create a rock that was so heavy, even he could not lift it?

Ha ha ha! I like this! The wisest answer to that would be ‘only God can answer you that’ but it can be considered a cop-out so I'd say Yes and No. Because weight is a relative measure, and it's just a matter of gravitational pull. So in one dimension/setting in the cosmos you'd have a rock so heavy even He couldn't lift it without at least breaking His own natural rules, but in the sum of things he'd be able to lift it simply because in the sum of all of the dimensions, it's still a weightless rock.

Also, if God knows everything that ever was and ever will be, he knows exactly what it would take to convince me of his existence, and it's in his power to do so.

Yup. That's entirely correct. But I'd say that is not the point. It's to have you do it on your own. Which I think is directly linked to what I said to Abt-Nihil about power vs education.

Conundrums like these seem a little silly to me now, but when all these “omni” attributes are applied to a God figure, they do require some kind of response.

Of course. They are often very tough, but excellent avenues to getting to more answers.

There was a time, before I was an atheist, when I found the Euthyphro Dilemma to be actually quite troubling – I thought the universe, literally, did not make any sense. Eventually, I came to realize that the mere existence of God, the things that he does, and his policies about how things work in the universe and in the afterlife, were illogical and impossible to reconcile without bending over backwards with a thousand and one excuses and concessions that I wouldn't have afforded any other claims of non-religious bearing. It's not the only reason I became an atheist, but it certainly helped.

Sounds to me like you are taking the path of many mathematicians: when in trouble, insert or detract a constant ;P

Was it ever considered that you may just not have the proper key to understanding all of it? After all, the relativity theory wasn't always known, nor quantum physics, but their existence is primordial. Should we have given up trying to understand them and pretend they didn't exist?

We'd still believe the earth is flat.

I find that denying without proof is just as much of a give-up as accepting something blind.

I didn't say that morality was something that existed without any frame of reference whatsoever. I just believe morality can exist – and probably functions preferably – outside of a religion.

I think, on the other hand, that whether morality functions or not is IRRELEVANT to religion.

Someone who wants to be moral will be whether within or outside a religion. Someone who doesn't want to be so, won't be, whether within or outside a religion. Morality doesn't function better or worse as a reference to that. It functions in the very same bell shaped curve because it still pertains to human behavior.

I don't doubt that religion has helped people adhere to certain moral standards throughout history. It's when I hear that a particular religion claims to have a copyright on morality, and that I cannot possibly be a good person without believing in that religion's god, and that regardless of my actions I deserve to be in hell for eternity if I don't believe in that god, then I have a problem.

And very well you should! Whoever says that is a bigot at least, who doesn't know the first thing about being a good person in the first place- and that is my professional opinion as a social scientist.

For sure, no religion has a copyright on morality in the way you say it. If you strip most religions down to the essential values, you'll see they all converge towards more or less the same ideals. It would be at least inane to claim otherwise, or underhanded and sly.

Also, I will never tire of saying this- whoever tells you that you'll burn in hell or whatever similar thing for not ascribing to any one foral religion, are at best fanatic ignorants or at worst the type I abhor, sacerdocical scoundrels.

Nobody can tell who will ‘burn’ or not. Nobody has the right to blackmail people with this over their head as a source of coercion. Nobody has the right to force-feed you dogma. You must find your own way and settle on your own conclusions as a free-thinking, fearless individual or it actually won't even matter if you are coerced into ascribing even in say, the ‘real’ religion. I speak earnestly and as a Christian. I'd fight for your right not to ascribe to Christianity by coercion, just as I'd fight for your right to declare being Christian if you really felt that was what you were.

And that, I have found to be the proper position based on the very scriptures others claim to go out there and wreak havoc on the lives of people.

I am not sure I got everything across, but I'll clarify anything necessary.



1) I don't believe that a person should be punished eternally for finite deeds, especially when those deeds could potentially be mostly good, with the only exception being the failure to believe in a fictional deity. Any god who would command such a thing isn't an authority on morality in any meaningful sense.

True.

2) The supposed moral authority repeatedly behaves in atrocious, immoral, selfish ways, while claiming to be the ultimate source of good in the universe. For example, God kills everyone on Earth in a horrible flood. God kills a lot of people, supposedly, as listed in this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTKWIMYK_x0
And when I object to the morality of such actions, I'm told that this is all part of some mysterious plan that I'm just too dense to understand.

That's because they don't know what to answer you, and like the self conscious but mean worthless teacher they tell you ‘stop asking stupid questions’.

You should object, and then look to see what on earth this whole issue is/was about.

Provided of course, that you're interested in resolving this.

3) I have no good reason to believe that such a god exists at all.

Well said. That had been my own starting point.


… A book which, ultimately, was written by humans, so it doesn't even become a question of “Do you have faith in God?” but a question of “Do you think maybe it's possible that some people in the middle east thousands of years ago could have been lying, or got it wrong?”
Oh yeah, and several other religions also claiming to be the one path to morality also have books which are just as dubious.

All very sound thoughts. I don't have anything to tell you here, because I literally thought all those things myself quite a few years back. They are excellent questions for a start.


Right, but what I don't get is how you could possibly view a logical or practical justification for morality as necessary, or even remotely important if all morality stems from God. The only thing necessary would be to be a Christian and to follow God's commandments, and not fall into the trap of other religions.

haha! And what is to be a Christian? What does it mean to follow God's commands?

God wouldn't care if you found a logical justification for it.

how do you know?

What I also don't understand is, once one achieves that logical understanding of how and why to behave morally, what is the purpose of still adhering to Christianity? Does no one who belongs to another religion ever achieve a logical or practical understanding of morality?

Do you think that there's a finite amount of things within Christianity?

If it were clear, there would not be the multitude of denominations of Christianity we see today, let alone different religions. If it were clear, I wouldn't be able to point out instances where God lashes out in violent or immoral ways, and have those justified to me as God's “mysterious plan,” or be told that I haven't “studied” the Bible enough to understand its depth.

No; if people were interested in it rather than using it to their own purpose, than all those things wouldn't take place. Plus you may have gotten an answer about the occasions where God lashes out.

You place far too much faith in those who present themselves as savants on religion, whoever they may be.




My only qualifications are that I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic elementary and secondary schools, and attended most Sunday church services (but gradually phased out of church towards the end).

Sunday services? Maybe sunday school too?? That sounds traumatic :/

Do I need to eat a whole barrel of rotten apples in order to realize how good they secretly are?

No; but how much scotch do you need to drink to appreciate it? How much must you cry out of pain in training before you can dance the perfect pas de deux or attain a great martial arts capacity?

Are any of these things easy? I don't think so. Rewarding? I believe so, if you see them through. (I have yet to appreciate scotch though, except with coke. ;P )

I think you see my point here.

Do I need to have a university degree in theology in order to criticize a collection of books that make incredible metaphysical and supernatural claims that don't hold water, and moral commandments that sometimes don't seem very moral?
I haven't studied the WHOLE of several religious texts, yet I still reject those, and I'm pretty sure you do as well.

Of course you don't. And… what I accept or reject is a whole different discussion. I definitely don't accept everything the way formal religion worship protocol does.

This kind of argument would have weight in, say, quantum mechanics, or some field of science that I really need to have in-depth knowledge and expertise in. To some degree, I can see your point, but there comes a time when I have to weigh my priorities: Sure, I should do a little research into what it is I'm talking about, but if I'm an atheist who generally sees the Bible as nothing more than a collection of fairy tales that aren't particularly good, there's only so much time I'm willing to spend on it, and I'm not going to accept that if I read more of it I'll eventually start believing it. Every religion in the world will make the same challenge, I'm sure.

Ah. This is entirely a matter of choice, my friend. Whether you want to INVEST in getting to know these answers or not, is entirely up to you, your personal opinion and not up for any objective discussion :)

But not every religion in the world offers the same challenges, from what I have studied anyway.

I guess my stance is that the Bible has not convinced me that it is so deep and full of secret meanings and contexts, that I can't understand a given passage without having read every page of the Bible. God has not demonstrated that his thinking is above and beyond that of a human being's, and I don't just grant that idea as a given when I have no reason to believe any of the Bible is accurate in the first place.

I disagree- there's plenty of evidence that God's thinking far exceeds human limitations.

You really should ask yourself one questions though: do you stand to be convinced, or do you expect someone to come and get you, meaning, yank you from your collar and drag you to all this?

Plus, the Bible's meanings and contexts aren't secret. All you need to do is to study the damn thing from a sociological point of view, and the rest comes very easy.

I am typing this really fast and haven't had time to read over it, so if anything needs clarification just ask :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:07PM
Abt_Nihil at 4:48PM, Nov. 19, 2010
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It's amazing how you can still keep track of all of those loose threads (especially with two nitpickers to respond to! :D) So, I'll try to knit some things together and not give in to the desire to over-analyze everything (but probably still far too much ^^; )… The core topic still being religious belief and justification.

Tantz Aerine
Abt_Nihil
(…)When I distinguish the justification of religious beliefs from that of others, I mean something like: idealized, proper, valid justification. It's a normative term, not a descriptive one.(…)

Ah, yes. But then that's a cop-out. There isn't anything that CAN'T be justified, just like in that sense there is no magic- if we define magic as something beyond natural law and unexplainable. EVERYTHING can be explained, justified, clarified. That we may be unable to do so just yet doesn't invalidate that fact. In fact history has proven this to be right over and over again.

So in my experience and opinion, the same holds for religious beliefs: to say ‘because’ as an answer is a cop-out. God has logic, as far as I have found, so everything is logical if you have the patience and determination to find out in what way. It's just like those patterns in nature that appear random, but are actually intricate mathematical designs.(…)
Yes and no. First off, the “cop-out” justifications referred to your examples of people who would justify beliefs by pointing toward what others have said. So, I believe my distinction still holds: If you look at proper justification, instead of a cop-out, justification between physicists, sociologists, politicians, doctors, theologists (etc.) will differ. And it is this difference which I'm speaking of. The fact that everyone has the possibility to cheat in the exact same way (that is, justifying their beliefs by referring to some more or less reliable source) does not change that. The point is: If they were to give proper justifications, they would differ substantially.
Also, this may not be too important for our discussion here, but I'd like to point out that I'll strictly limit terms like “justification” and “logic” to linguistic phenomena. To claim logic in nature (or the religious analogy, in creation), one would probably use the term more akin to a sort of practical rationality (nature is organized so-and-so because this-and-this practical mechanism obtains, or, in religious speak, God willed a certain mechanism to exist for a certain purpose, etc.). Since there is no intention (and thus, no rationality or logic) in nature, this “practical rationality” will have to be a metaphor, lest it be understood like a creationist claim.

How is the Normative justification different than the Religious one in this example? Sorry, I need to be sure I have understood everything :)
First off, normative justification can (trivially) only justify normative claims. Religious justification goes beyond that. It also justifies all sorts of ontological and epistemic claims. Secondly, “the good” is different from God (even though religion will most likely claim for God to be its source, for God's acts to coextend with “the good”, etc.).

If someone has the brazen gall to claim he/she has been ORDAINED by God, then he/she must be able to prove it by showing tangible proof of God's demand that we all listen to this other HUMAN rather than try to establish communication with Him directly, so to speak.

Yeah, I'm talking about performing miracles. I don't care if it's tough nobody has been able to do it for 2000 years. If someone wants to claim that sort of superiority to the rest of the human race, then that someone better be able to do at least what God Himself has been known to have people he ordained to do.
We may not be able to argue about this fruitfully, since I'd suppose that no one has ever performed a miracle; rather, miracles originate from the stories/folklore/legends/myths that's been told about them. So there is no proper proof that someone's been ordained by God at all; rather, some people simply take a leap of faith and believe in them, and history (sort of) proves them right (or wrong - but since history hasn't come to an end yet, there is no proper proof :D ).

Out of curiosity, just what were you thinking of as ‘any action’?
I firmly believe that the few clear examples of Christian morality we have - for examples, the decalogue - are norms which are supposed to guide actions. That is, in a situation in which you find yourself tempted to do what any of the Ten Commandments forbids, the Commandment in question should motivate you to act against your initital temptation. (I'm treating negative - DON'T DO X! - and positive - DO Y! - norms equally here.)
So, the only thing I'm saying is: there has been at least one action in history which was motivated by Christianity, and which was also rightfully justified by invoking Christian morals.

Also, I need to make one tiny little comment on your ‘Christian without faith’ words: We are all searching through a chaos of conflicting and contradicting stimuli to find our way through to what will offer us peace and balance- what that translates to as a state of being is another discussion. I think (and this is entirely personal an opinion) that none of us can really see whether we have faith until that is put to test by life itself. Right now all we can say (or anyway I think should say) is that ‘I am out there, and I am searching’. :)
Right. For now, I am simply talking about refuting many ontological and normative claims put forth by Christianity. It's easier in the case of norms: I'll probably conform with many Christian norms (at least the more rational ones ;-) ), even if I'm not motivated by them, but by my own practical rationality, which may coincide. Ontological claims like “God exists”, “there is an after-life”, “Jesus was God's son”, “miracles exist”, etc., are obviously far more difficult, since they don't coincide with anything I could believe rationally.
Also, your speaking of a “chaos of conflicting and contradicting stimuli” sounds rather ominous… not that I can't relate to what you're saying on an intuitive level, but more “rationally” speaking, I believe most sources of this “chaos of conflicting and contradicting stimuli” to be other people! :D

I make this distinction because you CAN'T make the world a better place via use of power. You could maybe put some better foundation to that general direction, but through power you would never get to make the world better simply because you'd be forcing people to obey you, and that means that whatever change they make would be ephemeral since they would neither understand why they need to do this nor feel any particular commitment to it.(…)
I feel that this is murky territory. First off, I'm not convinced at all that (a) power can only be used negatively and that (b) education (in the sense you meant) is a viable way to make the world a better place. Of course, this is speculation on my part, since it involves quite a few hypothetical considerations. And speaking of speculation: I'd speculate that your considerations are hypothetical too. :D For now, we'd be arguing about good reasons to assume that things were better “if A” rather than “if B”. That's tough.
And it's murky because to some degree, this is an empirical question. We'd have to actually see what would happen if either of our hypothetical considerations were actual. But to some degree, it's also NOT just an empirical question: Because the standard by which we measure the inherent “goodness” of the world is a big part of our evaluation whether or not the world has actually been made a better place!
I am particularly wary of claiming that there's been a 2000-5000 years of stagnation. There have been substantial changes concerning heteronomy, poverty and quality of life (hygiene, mortality etc.). And while it is true that an overwhelming percentage of people is still living in conditions comparable to the dark ages (or worse), the fact is that the percentage of people enjoying the advantages was much smaller back in the day than it is today.
And lastly, power and education are not entirely separable, not even conceptually. Education has often been part of strategies which were, in some way or other, about the pursuit of power. And even if we were to idealize education - wouldn't we have to posit some ideology simply in order to idealize it? And how can we know this isn't actually a harmful ideology? Who can take this “view from nowhere” which we'd need to figure this out? I don't mean to demonize education though, it's just not that clear to me that it's a “purer” concept than power - a concept that is substantially more immune to subversion.
Again, this probably isn't an integral part of our discussion, but I wanted to give some reasons why I can't simply agree here.

…especially in the case of the Church, considering Jesus' teachings and demands, that goes 1000 times more for THEM.
Nietzsche isn't known for his subtlety, but I've always found the picture he painted of Christian morals to be particularly striking. Christianity developed its morals as those of a suppressed minority. So, a few hundred years later, the tables turn and they find themselves in a position of power – as the state religion of the Roman Empire, preaching morals of a bygone oppressed minority to an entirely un-oppressed majority. Not only do they seem entirely out of place, but they also function as a means to keep the “little people” down. The Nietzschean suggestion obviously being: Take power and use it yourself, or someone else will, and chances are, this someone has interests which aren't your own.
(I realize there's a divide between Christ's morals and Christian morals, but with Jesus being an idealized, historical figure, this is an internal divide of Christianity. Some Christian are closet to official Church norms, some are criticizing these by referrring to an idealized “founder” myth, much like the prevalent tension in US politics (as if referring to mythical founders and forefathers would somehow lend your justifications some sort of authenticity). So, when I speak of “Christian morals”, I mean a sort of idealized moderate mainstream.)
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
Tantz Aerine at 5:21AM, Nov. 20, 2010
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Abt_Nihil
It's amazing how you can still keep track of all of those loose threads (especially with two nitpickers to respond to! :D) So, I'll try to knit some things together and not give in to the desire to over-analyze everything (but probably still far too much ^^; )… The core topic still being religious belief and justification.

Thanks! I appreciate it how you always begin your post with something nice to say. Not many take the time to do it, and I really appreciate it.

But honestly I can keep track because it's what I was trained for. ;) And I think based on this post of yours, my studies and general field of science will really come handy!

Yes and no. First off, the “cop-out” justifications referred to your examples of people who would justify beliefs by pointing toward what others have said. So, I believe my distinction still holds: If you look at proper justification, instead of a cop-out, justification between physicists, sociologists, politicians, doctors, theologists (etc.) will differ. And it is this difference which I'm speaking of.

Well, generally the content of a justification differs along with the subject matter, BUT- and this demands some abtraction on an analyst's part- the whole point of the issue is that a proper justification (as opposed to a cop-out or a cheating one) will still retain some basic elements that render it ‘proper’ so to speak.

For example, a proper justification needs to have these elements:
1. proof of superior functionality to another option being discussed theoretically.
2. proof of factual/historical impact of (1) in practical circumstances
3. proof that the claims in (1) and (2) can be replicated in the same or similar conditions (with the warning that ‘similar’ must mean without any other confounding variable that will interact differently with the suggested option, even though conditions appear similar)

I may have omitted one or two elements but I think these are the most important ones.

Now, how these translate into examples WILL differ from subject to subject, but their NATURE as such elements will remain constant. If these don't exist then you don't have proper justifications.

But if they do exist, though the answers may at first glance vary, they are not DIFFERENT. They are the same type of answer, and as such, their difference isn't substantial, it is circumstantial.

See what I mean?

Also, this may not be too important for our discussion here, but I'd like to point out that I'll strictly limit terms like “justification” and “logic” to linguistic phenomena.

Argh! Linguistics may not be the best way to limit the terminology. Logic is a basic rule of thumb for all science, why limit it to linguistics?

Or perhaps I didn't understand what you meant?

To claim logic in nature (or the religious analogy, in creation), one would probably use the term more akin to a sort of practical rationality (nature is organized so-and-so because this-and-this practical mechanism obtains, or, in religious speak, God willed a certain mechanism to exist for a certain purpose, etc.). Since there is no intention (and thus, no rationality or logic) in nature, this “practical rationality” will have to be a metaphor, lest it be understood like a creationist claim.

Here you are making an assumption that is actually an axiom for the purposes of our discussion. If I claimed the opposite I would also be stating an axiom for the purposes of this discussion, and we wouldn't be able to find the common ground necessary to continue before resolving this- and it's not that easy to be resolved XD

I think we should leave such things out of it lest we get tangled up in another discussion along with this one!

I would suggest we both accept that there is a specific logical Status Quo in nature (how it came to be is not under discussion) by which empirically and later scientifically we have also based our rationality and way of scientific analyses. Even social sciences began by fashioning social models and theories after natural ones (e.g. constructivists).

Would you agree on this?

How is the Normative justification different than the Religious one in this example? Sorry, I need to be sure I have understood everything :)
First off, normative justification can (trivially) only justify normative claims. Religious justification goes beyond that. It also justifies all sorts of ontological and epistemic claims. Secondly, “the good” is different from God (even though religion will most likely claim for God to be its source, for God's acts to coextend with “the good”, etc.).

But the way you have phrased it, we come down to the same thing. Unless you want to delineate as different the fact that the one who ‘said so’ is ultimately reported to be God.

Is that what you are aiming for?

We may not be able to argue about this fruitfully, since I'd suppose that no one has ever performed a miracle; rather, miracles originate from the stories/folklore/legends/myths that's been told about them. So there is no proper proof that someone's been ordained by God at all; rather, some people simply take a leap of faith and believe in them, and history (sort of) proves them right (or wrong - but since history hasn't come to an end yet, there is no proper proof :D ).

No no; it would be very fruitful. I actually do believe miracles can occur but this is beyond the point actually for this discussion.

Because it's not what I think or what you think. It's the whole religious premise on which someone making a bid for power steps on.

Let me tell you what I mean.

In Greece there was this shepherd, he lived I think around 1950s and he claimed that he could mend any broken bone on the spot by setting it in his ‘special way’ so that the afflicted person would be able to instantly use the limb. This of course appeared (and was) miraculous. So people flocked to his pen, where he mended broken bones (and broken bones ONLY) for nothing until the Hellenic Medical Association prosecuted him for practicing medicine unlicensed and for scamming people.

In the trial, he still claimed he could do it, and to prove it, he brought in a little healthy goat which the doctors checked to be sound in all its legs. He promptly broke all four legs of the goat, let the doctors check that they were indeed broken, and then in front of everyone, right on the floor of the court room, he mended all four legs and the goat got up and run around (I suppose thoroughly terrified :P) and which the doctors checked.

So he was acquitted and he continued doing this until he died, never taking a penny for it by the way. I think his name was Vlachos, but I don't vouch for that until I check with my mother :)

See- he made a fantastic claim, and PROVED he could do it. (by the way he never once claimed he was ordained by God to do anything else but mend bones. I am not even sure he claimed God at all in his defense, though he was a church goer like everyone else those times)

So if a fellow wants to claim he's ordained by God as described by his religion, then I want him to show the signs of this ordaining as they have been described to be given in this religion's scriptures.

Otherwise, nothin' doing. If one claims they believe/adhere to a set of scriptures, then they shouldn't be allowed to make concessions.

If we all commonly accept that ‘you can’t expect someone ordained to show extraordinary/miraculous signs even if they are in the Bible- the book we call sacred and true and so on' then we'd all be hypocrites participating in a charade.

And that would be despicable.

So, the only thing I'm saying is: there has been at least one action in history which was motivated by Christianity, and which was also rightfully justified by invoking Christian morals.

which one?

Right. For now, I am simply talking about refuting many ontological and normative claims put forth by Christianity. It's easier in the case of norms: I'll probably conform with many Christian norms (at least the more rational ones ;-) ), even if I'm not motivated by them, but by my own practical rationality, which may coincide. Ontological claims like “God exists”, “there is an after-life”, “Jesus was God's son”, “miracles exist”, etc., are obviously far more difficult, since they don't coincide with anything I could believe rationally.

Well I think that these things, of existential value, are not directly vital for the discussion anyway. Maybe if we discuss motivation, but even that psychologically has proof that is not a very great motivational factor as a stand alone.

Also, your speaking of a “chaos of conflicting and contradicting stimuli” sounds rather ominous… not that I can't relate to what you're saying on an intuitive level, but more “rationally” speaking, I believe most sources of this “chaos of conflicting and contradicting stimuli” to be other people! :D

Ha ha! It is rather ominous if you're afraid to stir through it. I see it as an adventure.

And yes, I was referring to other people, too. :) Not anything supernatural.




aaand I am out of time right now, and will have to address the rest of your points later in the day.

I'm sorry for that! But I'll be back to talk about education vs power in the context you set :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:07PM
Abt_Nihil at 5:19PM, Nov. 20, 2010
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I hope you don't mind my replying already. I just read your post and am just too tempted! :D

Tantz Aerine
I appreciate it how you always begin your post with something nice to say. Not many take the time to do it, and I really appreciate it.
There are people who believe that at the basis of all discussion, mechanisms of social bonding or dissociation are at work. While these may be a part of discussion, I think beliefs are actually beliefs, and not just social mechanisms; they are about facts, and many of them are either correct or incorrect, and that is why you can't really compromise. But when discussing more or less anonymously on the internet, it would be childish to act as if the most important thing in a discussion were to “win” it, and to lead it ruthlessly with only that goal in mind! I think there is much more to be won if we all enjoy it to some degree ^_^

But honestly I can keep track because it's what I was trained for. ;) And I think based on this post of yours, my studies and general field of science will really come handy!
It does show. Many “untrained” people can state their intuitions, but hardly defend them. So, it's very cool that we seem to be on a similar level of training here. :-)

(…)how these translate into examples WILL differ from subject to subject, but their NATURE as such elements will remain constant. If these don't exist then you don't have proper justifications.

But if they do exist, though the answers may at first glance vary, they are not DIFFERENT. They are the same type of answer, and as such, their difference isn't substantial, it is circumstantial.
Your point being, all justification are structurally the same, and differ only in content? Well, that's a pretty strong thesis, and given my examples, I don't yet see how you'd like to counter them.

EDIT: On a second reading, your “elements of proper justification” seem to actually be meant to constitute elements of valid/correct justification - is that right? I may have used the term “valid” myself at some point. What I really mean here is just the form of justification though. Whether a justification is correct or valid will have to be decided by content. But when it has the right “form”, I'd call it “proper”. All of my examples were examples of “form”, not of content. My argument is that religious justification differs in form.
A further example: Someone gives you a specific mathematical result to a complicated arithmetic problem and you'd like them to justify the result. You know that if they tell you an empirical fact in reply, the “form” would be improper, and thus it can't function as a justification - no matter the content of the empirical fact. The justification would have to be a mathematical proof. If they were to give you a mathematical proof, then you would know that the justification has the correct form, but the proof may still be wrong - that's decided by the proof's content.

I'd like to point out that I'll strictly limit terms like “justification” and “logic” to linguistic phenomena.
Argh! Linguistics may not be the best way to limit the terminology. Logic is a basic rule of thumb for all science, why limit it to linguistics?
There are two ways in which I can understand “logic” non-metaphorically: Ordinary language (logical relations are to be found in all sorts of natural languages, even if no natural language can ever hope to be formalized properly) and formal language (like Frege's propositional logic and its extensions, the basis for every formal logical system available today). Beyond these, I wouldn't even know what the term logic means.
Logic being something like “Given A->B, and given A, you can conclude B.” Substitute the variables, and you've got a principle that should obtain in any natural language or belief system. How are logical relations to be understood non-linguistically? (And of course I don't just mean the science of linguistics here, but everything which can be dealt with linguistically - that is, using some sort of language.)
We can describe nature in terms of causality, and in terms of mechanisms maybe, but certainly not in terms of logic, and maybe not even functionally. More on that below…

To claim logic in nature (or the religious analogy, in creation), one would probably use the term more akin to a sort of practical rationality (nature is organized so-and-so because this-and-this practical mechanism obtains, or, in religious speak, God willed a certain mechanism to exist for a certain purpose, etc.). Since there is no intention (and thus, no rationality or logic) in nature, this “practical rationality” will have to be a metaphor, lest it be understood like a creationist claim.

Here you are making an assumption that is actually an axiom for the purposes of our discussion. If I claimed the opposite I would also be stating an axiom for the purposes of this discussion, and we wouldn't be able to find the common ground necessary to continue before resolving this- and it's not that easy to be resolved XD
The axiom being? If I understand correctly, you think that assuming this axiom would mean begging the question? But how?

I would suggest we both accept that there is a specific logical Status Quo in nature (how it came to be is not under discussion) by which empirically and later scientifically we have also based our rationality and way of scientific analyses. Even social sciences began by fashioning social models and theories after natural ones (e.g. constructivists).

Would you agree on this?
Can't say I do :-) This is the part I meant when I said “more on that below”:
I don't understand what you mean by ascribing a “logical status” to nature. What does that mean? How can nature be logical?
Maybe you mean that there are mechanisms in nature, which look as if they're functional: For example, we've each got a heart that pumps blood through our veins; this pumping-of-the-blood-by-way-of-the-heart is a mechanism which we usually describe functionally (“the heart's function (or purpose) is to pump blood through our veins” ). And we can even apply our common-sense logic and all our intentional terms to these mechanisms and make it look as if the heart's intention is to pump blood, etc. But all that talk makes strong use of metaphors. Of course the heart doesn't intend anything, and it doesn't have a goal-oriented function. It's a mechanism which, under the right circumstances, does what it does. Period.
You also seem to imply that observing nature can prompt certain forms of rationality…? If by that you mean that different times favor different forms of explanation, and that these are often prompted by empirical breakthroughs (like the advent of computer sciences led to attempts of explaining the human brain by using the computer as an analogy), that is certainly true. However, I don't think that these explanatory models, as specific forms of rationality, are, in a substantial way, “empirical” or “natural”. Logic doesn't “flow” from nature to language. Logic is confined within the bounds of language.

First off, normative justification can (trivially) only justify normative claims. Religious justification goes beyond that. It also justifies all sorts of ontological and epistemic claims. Secondly, “the good” is different from God (even though religion will most likely claim for God to be its source, for God's acts to coextend with “the good”, etc.).
But the way you have phrased it, we come down to the same thing. Unless you want to delineate as different the fact that the one who ‘said so’ is ultimately reported to be God.

Is that what you are aiming for?
In most cases, secular normative questions can't be decided by simply appealing to someone who “said so” (or at least I wouldn't believe people just because they have said so!). There are secular forms of practical rationality, of morality and ethics, just like there secular forms of ontology and epistemology, of rationality in general. Religion can be the source of all sorts of beliefs, but that doesn't conflate normative justification and religious justification. If anything, it's yet another reason why they can't be conflated.
But there are two claims here which shouldn't be confused: first off, secular normative justification differs substantially from religious normative justification. Secondly, normative justification differs from religious justification. So far, I was talking about the latter.
But let's get the general line of argument clear: If your strategy here is to claim that (at least) two specific forms of justifications conflate (in this case, normative and religious justification), and given what you said above (justification differs only in content) doesn't that mean that you'll have to conflate all of them? Because what I gave here wasn't a differentiation along lines of content, but along lines of structure. If you acknowledge structural differentiation at all, your claim is (almost) negated. (“Almost” because if religious justification were to be conflated with another sort of justification, but not with all of them, it would show that religious justification isn't different per se. But that would be an odd result, wouldn't it?)


We may not be able to argue about this fruitfully, since I'd suppose that no one has ever performed a miracle(…)
No no; it would be very fruitful. I actually do believe miracles can occur but this is beyond the point actually for this discussion.
How can it be fruitful if we disagree on whether miracles can exist? Anything you'd try to prove by referring to miracles I'd answer with a “pssshhhh” :-)

There are two options for the story about the shepherd: Either he had some sort of intuitive medical knowledge, or you'd claim he actually performed miracles, in which case I'd have to refute its credibility.

If we all commonly accept that ‘you can’t expect someone ordained to show extraordinary/miraculous signs even if they are in the Bible- the book we call sacred and true and so on' then we'd all be hypocrites participating in a charade.

And that would be despicable.
I wouldn't be that harsh. I treat the bible as a collection of folklore, myths, and spiced-up tall tales. And it's perfectly fine for a Christian to not believe in miracles, but to take them as metaphors.
It's an educational problem too. You can't teach a kid about physics and the physical world being closed under natural laws, and then in the next class the same kid would be encouraged to believe that Jesus walked on water. Where I come from, these stories are openly treated as metaphors, even in religious education.
Also, calling the Bible “sacred and true” doesn't mean every word in it has to be understood literally. You could say it expresses a “higher truth” - and voila, you're free to use a non-standard definition of truth! Free interpretation for everyone! :-)

So, the only thing I'm saying is: there has been at least one action in history which was motivated by Christianity, and which was also rightfully justified by invoking Christian morals.

which one?
Any one!! You can't think of even a single one? :-) Well, it makes sense if you deny even the possibility.
Okay, picture a guy called Joe. He was suddenly tempted to commit adultery yesterday. But, as fate would have it, he then remembered the Ten Commandments (or at least the one applying here :D). Thus, he was moved to cancel his plans, which, if not for remembering that one Commandment, he wouldn't have.
Is that fiction? Yup. Impossible? Certainly not!
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itsjustaar at 5:09AM, Dec. 8, 2010
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I'm an atheist/agnostic as well, along those lines. I usually keep this fact mum, because I was raised with an uncle and aunt that found religion late into their lives, and they would often berate me for it. I guess it started when I got grounded for not really being ‘get-up and go’ to see the Passion of the Christ movie, lol. It goes without saying that sitting in a packed theater dedicated solely on that made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

More or less, just happy to know we exist as beings. We've got our moments, but que sara sara, amIrite? Otherwise, it'd be a pretty lonely space.
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KnaveMurdok at 5:51AM, Dec. 9, 2010
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It's my FIRM BELIEF that there's NOTHING in the world that's SO SACRED that we can't LAUGH AT IT. If we lose our sense of HUMOUR, there's no way we'll ever MOVE FORWARD as a culture and a society. It is our DUTY to PUSH THE ENVELOPE further and further with each passing generation. If we are not doing that, then there is really NO POINT at all to civilization.

Some might mistake that for the RHETORIC OF AN ANARCHIST, but nothing could be further from the truth. I am in fact a very DEVOUT BELIEVER IN GOD. I believe that we were given FREE WILL by this benevolent creator, and that it would be an INSULT to that gift to not utilize it to its fullest.

HOW VEXATIOUS MIGHT THIS TRULY BE?

I am dead… worship ME.
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Beelzy at 3:37AM, Dec. 21, 2010
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itsjustaar
I'm an atheist/agnostic as well, along those lines. I usually keep this fact mum, because I was raised with an uncle and aunt that found religion late into their lives, and they would often berate me for it. I guess it started when I got grounded for not really being ‘get-up and go’ to see the Passion of the Christ movie, lol. It goes without saying that sitting in a packed theater dedicated solely on that made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

More or less, just happy to know we exist as beings. We've got our moments, but que sara sara, amIrite? Otherwise, it'd be an otherwise pretty lonely space.

I saw that movie, and it was just nonsensical violence mixed in with a good chunk of Latin (who knows if they actually sounded like that in Ancient Rome). Nevertheless, enough people who watched it were somehow compelled to feel touched by it. The mere thought almost sickens me. Once you realize that that's just the depiction of a god sacrificing himself for himself (Ja, he's not really dead), it becomes pointless.

As for why religion has a problem with atheism, one reason may be because they don't like being told they're wrong. And when people are being told they're reinterpreting scripture to match science standards (Oh, as say, opposed to holy, dogmatic scripture itself?), they don't like to admit it publicly. There's this strange stigma associated with trying to deny that religion ever says anything wrong. And in so doing, they have made religion unfalsifiable, and it just loses any kind of credibility it ever had. Atheists are usually the people that end up pointing out the flaws in religion. I suspect they usually do it to explain why they're atheists though; not necessarily because they have a reason to attack religion in public.
Pauca sed matura.
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itsjustaar at 4:06AM, Dec. 21, 2010
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I wouldn't say nonsensical, in my opinion, but it was pretty graphic from what I remember. I've seen an extensive amount horror movies of the past and present which followed the same route, but this being a religious film, it was pretty off-putting. Being what I was then and still now, an optimist of an atheist of sorts, I would have digested the film easier without the blood, sweat, and tears the movie showed me. It was like being force-fed so much knowledge to a novice.

Up until now, I still don't think my uncle or aunt get along with me based on our religious differences though. Right off the bat when we discussed Heaven a long ways back, he told me that he'll get perks in Heaven while I get a very empty endless void of Limbo because of my stance on the matter. It was told in a pretty dark way that seemed kinda demented, but that's an entirely different discussion, lol.
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Genejoke at 7:23AM, Dec. 21, 2010
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I have to say I never say what all the fuss was about the blood and gore in passion of the christ, it wasn't that bad at all. I scarcely noticed it.
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Beelzy at 9:04AM, Dec. 21, 2010
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What I find disturbing about the blood and gore is not so much about how gory it was, but the fact that it even was there to begin with–the bible is pretty violent. I'm sure you can find worse stuff in the Old Testament though.
Pauca sed matura.
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itsjustaar at 2:46AM, Dec. 26, 2010
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Unless what I'm reading on wikipedia is wrong, I've read that the actual flogging of Jesus was only mentioned for like a sentence or two. If this is true, then the movie kinda expanded that to about… almost nearly the entire film. Then again, I haven't seen the movie in a pretty long while, so I can't remember.
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kyupol at 8:48PM, Dec. 26, 2010
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Religion is man-made.

Spirituality simply IS.
NOW UPDATING!!!
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bravo1102 at 2:25AM, Dec. 27, 2010
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kyupol
Religion is man-made.

Spirituality simply IS.

It is part of human nature to seek explanations. Humans have a tendency to over explain, over define and then over time to invent incredible complex belief systems when all that was ever required was to just be.

Words and arguments won't always define meaning. In fact they have a tendency to obscure meaning.
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ozoneocean at 8:10AM, Dec. 27, 2010
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itsjustaar
Unless what I'm reading on wikipedia is wrong, I've read that the actual flogging of Jesus was only mentioned for like a sentence or two. If this is true, then the movie kinda expanded that to about… almost nearly the entire film. Then again, I haven't seen the movie in a pretty long while, so I can't remember.
And this is the problem with trying to understand religion in reductive way… You can not go back to one original document or instruction manual and ever hope to comprehend almost 2000 years of human culture, which is what Christianity actually is. -whether you believe in the mythology is irrelevant, the culture is real and has a rock solid historical footprint.

-That's meant generally, not just for itsjustaar.

As to the film under discussion and its focus on whipping or whatever- that is very much a part of the Catholic tradition and belief system. There's been hundreds of years of writing and papal decrees and such to get them where they are today. Religion, like all culture evolves over time and is a product of all its parts, not just one (the bible).
 
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Abt_Nihil at 5:45PM, Dec. 27, 2010
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bravo1102
It is part of human nature to seek explanations. Humans have a tendency to over explain, over define and then over time to invent incredible complex belief systems when all that was ever required was to just be.

Words and arguments won't always define meaning. In fact they have a tendency to obscure meaning.
I don't know any way to make sense of your claim here other than to conceive of meaning as linguistic meaning. That's why I'd claim just the opposite: words and arguments are the only way to illuminate meaning.

Obviously, this is distinct from talking about meaning in a broader sense (as in “purpose” ). If you're talking about meaning in a normative sense, then claiming that “all that was ever required was to just be” is a pretty bold claim - and creates more questions than it answers. How can being be all that is required? By laws of evolution? God? Society? The latter obviously require a lot more - the former don't require anything, since they are non-normative, natural laws.

kyupol
Religion is man-made.

Spirituality simply IS.
I agree, but going further, I'd say that religion is simply a possible expression of spirituality. Like a particular language is an expression of the general facility to communicate. Some people have idiosyncratic ways to use language which are hard to make sense of, just as many have incoherent or eclectic religious beliefs.
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Beelzy at 12:25AM, Dec. 28, 2010
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itsjustaar
As to the film under discussion and its focus on whipping or whatever- that is very much a part of the Catholic tradition and belief system. There's been hundreds of years of writing and papal decrees and such to get them where they are today. Religion, like all culture evolves over time and is a product of all its parts, not just one (the bible).

We don't have to honor the violence though. I don't have to honor the violence in the film, or the violence in the bible that's being portrayed on film just because it may belong to some tradition; there's a difference between saying flogging is a part of the Catholic tradition and admitting that it's violent, and possibly pointless.
Pauca sed matura.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:16AM
ozoneocean at 1:29AM, Dec. 28, 2010
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Beelzy
We don't have to honor the violence though. I don't have to honor the violence in the film, or the violence in the bible that's being portrayed on film just because it may belong to some tradition; there's a difference between saying flogging is a part of the Catholic tradition and admitting that it's violent, and possibly pointless.
You're not supposed to “honour” it, the idea is that the scenes are meant to illustrate “suffering”. One of the central themes of Catholic Christianity is that Christ “suffered” for humanity.
Hence the cross, the crown of thorns, the spear in the side and the nails through the feet and hands etc.

The focus is different, it's not the infliction of violence that matters, but the fact that it is endured.

I'm not religious, but I'm aware that there's a LOT to the traditions and symbolism that's not apparent at face value. I don't think it's right or wrong, it's just a really complicated belief system.
 
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Beelzy at 2:23AM, Dec. 28, 2010
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ozoneocean
Beelzy
We don't have to honor the violence though. I don't have to honor the violence in the film, or the violence in the bible that's being portrayed on film just because it may belong to some tradition; there's a difference between saying flogging is a part of the Catholic tradition and admitting that it's violent, and possibly pointless.
You're not supposed to “honour” it, the idea is that the scenes are meant to illustrate “suffering”. One of the central themes of Catholic Christianity is that Christ “suffered” for humanity.
Hence the cross, the crown of thorns, the spear in the side and the nails through the feet and hands etc.

The focus is different, it's not the infliction of violence that matters, but the fact that it is endured.

I'm not religious, but I'm aware that there's a LOT to the traditions and symbolism that's not apparent at face value. I don't think it's right or wrong, it's just a really complicated belief system.

Yes, I'm well aware that there are themes relating to suffering and the like, but I simply happen to have an opinion of it. Namely, that this kind of suffering is completely pointless and unnecessary; I don't think god ever really suffered to send Jesus to atone for people's sins because all its done is shift responsibility, and Jesus gets resurrected in the end anyways.
In a typical, humanist secularist society, NO ONE should ever have to suffer violence. It doesn't matter if they want to take responsibility for what someone else does, in fact, I'd be glad if no one did because that's one way in which people don't learn to take responsibility for their actions, and no one should have to suffer violence to prove a point anyways.

I'm of the opinion that religion is man made, so it can't be so complicated that it can't be explained. Otherwise, people are just deluding themselves, and they don't even know what they're talking about if that were the case.
Pauca sed matura.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:16AM
ozoneocean at 3:18AM, Dec. 28, 2010
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Beelzy
I'm of the opinion that religion is man made, so it can't be so complicated that it can't be explained. Otherwise, people are just deluding themselves, and they don't even know what they're talking about if that were the case.
Of course religions are just products of human culture, but you can't explain massive historical cultural traditions in simple terms.

The problem is that unlike the literal interpretations of a lot of the newer Christian sects, the older Christianity of Catholicism and the Orthodox church take a highly symbolic view of the bible and the Christ story.
-It's more the idea and the bigger concept of “self sacrifice” than the physical/social act. Then you have to take that into context with what the idea of sacrifice meant in the older cultures from which the religion has evolved; not just Judaism, but Roman, Byzantine and medieval European values.

The more you go into it you come across diverse concepts like the divine right of rule by kings and their compact with their people- during coronation the ruler becomes a proxy for the people, an embodiment of the state, not just the leader of a bunch of people. An outdated idea to us (mostly), but it had larger ramifications to societies set up that way- capture or kill a king: destroy or take over the country.
This is why Jesus Christ is seen as “king of Kings”; he has become the proxy for all of humanity. The earthly sufferings are illustrative of him taking on the pains of what it actually means to be human.

You'd really be better off talking to an actual religious scholar about that sort of thing. One user, Kingofsnake, was studying the subject pretty intensively at university I recall, he knew a lot about this stuff, whereas I clearly do not! :)
I can't honestly defend it any more than this, I'm not religious, I have the barest working knowledge of Christian mythology and symbolism. I'm out of my depth, all I know is that there IS more depth to be out of.
Those waters aren't as shallow as people like to think.
 
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Beelzy at 4:25AM, Dec. 28, 2010
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ozoneocean
Beelzy
I'm of the opinion that religion is man made, so it can't be so complicated that it can't be explained. Otherwise, people are just deluding themselves, and they don't even know what they're talking about if that were the case.
Of course religions are just products of human culture, but you can't explain massive historical cultural traditions in simple terms.

The problem is that unlike the literal interpretations of a lot of the newer Christian sects, the older Christianity of Catholicism and the Orthodox church take a highly symbolic view of the bible and the Christ story.
-It's more the idea and the bigger concept of “self sacrifice” than the physical/social act. Then you have to take that into context with what the idea of sacrifice meant in the older cultures from which the religion has evolved; not just Judaism, but Roman, Byzantine and medieval European values.

I have difficulty seeing this because historical evidence seems to point to the opposite–would a symbolic interpretation of the bible lead to things like the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the condemning of scientists like Galileo? What about the dark ages and the bubonic plague? If anything, it sounds like a literal reading of the bible might lead to these things.

The more you go into it you come across diverse concepts like the divine right of rule by kings and their compact with their people- during coronation the ruler becomes a proxy for the people, an embodiment of the state, not just the leader of a bunch of people. An outdated idea to us (mostly), but it had larger ramifications to societies set up that way- capture or kill a king: destroy or take over the country.
This is why Jesus Christ is seen as “king of Kings”; he has become the proxy for all of humanity. The earthly sufferings are illustrative of him taking on the pains of what it actually means to be human.

I guess I'm just not impressed by that. Anyways, if we admit that the ideas are outdated, is there any reason why we need to give it any sort of credit with regards to our morality? Perhaps in literature or even history, there may be some credit (we can say what certain ancient peoples believed, and what their traditions were), but with regards to how we conduct our moral standards and society, does this even matter?

You'd really be better off talking to an actual religious scholar about that sort of thing. One user, Kingofsnake, was studying the subject pretty intensively at university I recall, he knew a lot about this stuff, whereas I clearly do not! :)
I can't honestly defend it any more than this, I'm not religious, I have the barest working knowledge of Christian mythology and symbolism. I'm out of my depth, all I know is that there IS more depth to be out of.
Those waters aren't as shallow as people like to think.

You can't really defend an unfalsifiable text. None of its claims can be tested on an empirical level, and it's not any use for us morally because it's outdated. The only purpose I see the bible as having is as literature or mythology.
Pauca sed matura.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:16AM
ozoneocean at 5:34AM, Dec. 28, 2010
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Beelzy
I have difficulty seeing this because historical evidence seems to point to the opposite–would a symbolic interpretation of the bible lead to things like the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the condemning of scientists like Galileo? What about the dark ages and the bubonic plague? If anything, it sounds like a literal reading of the bible might lead to these things.
You're using a massively broad brush here, painting a dysphemistic view of European history, losing context and subtly through reductionism. Throughout all those events you have highly complex social, geographical, economic, and political factors at play (to name a few). This is self evident. I'm just going to leave it at that.

Beelzy
if we admit that the ideas are outdated, is there any reason why we need to give it any sort of credit with regards to our morality? Perhaps in literature or even history, there may be some credit (we can say what certain ancient peoples believed, and what their traditions were), but with regards to how we conduct our moral standards and society, does this even matter?
It's outdated for us to think of kings in this way, but the same principal is still in place with any symbol of national pride, from sporting teams, to flags, presidents etc. My point was to give you a real historical analogue for where that aspect of the idea came from and how it had a real application.
This hasn't anything to do with “moral standards”, I was just trying to explain how the idea of suffering and sacrifice humanises the Christian god, as well as legitimises him in Catholic belief. None of that is de-legitimised by time.
You can't conflate all Christian ideas like this, it's a nonsense.

Beelzy
You can't really defend an unfalsifiable text. None of its claims can be tested on an empirical level
This was never my intention.
You are ignoring all of a living culture and going back to a document, so there can't really be any argument on the subject of Christianity or the Catholic emphasis on sacrifice or anything else. All I can tell you is that no religion is or has ever been contained or wholly defined by any document. It is very important to realise that it is utterly impossible to understand something like religion by looking at it's elements in isolation.

Think of it this way- without the catholic church (the congregations, the clergy, the writings, the buildings, the art and so on), Catholicism ceases to exist. You cannot reconstruct it from a bible. Just like you cannot reconstruct the United States from the US constitution.

You do not need to justify to me why you hold the beliefs you do, or why you think Christianity is useless. I'm not a believer myself. All I was trying to do is explain what part sacrifice and the apparent “violence” has in Catholic belief. Generally I'll agree with any Atheist about belief, where I depart is the anarchistic, iconoclastic tendency to dispense entirely with certain aspects of human culture.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
Beelzy at 10:06AM, Dec. 28, 2010
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ozoneocean
Beelzy
I have difficulty seeing this because historical evidence seems to point to the opposite–would a symbolic interpretation of the bible lead to things like the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the condemning of scientists like Galileo? What about the dark ages and the bubonic plague? If anything, it sounds like a literal reading of the bible might lead to these things.
You're using a massively broad brush here, painting a dysphemistic view of European history, losing context and subtly through reductionism. Throughout all those events you have highly complex social, geographical, economic, and political factors at play (to name a few). This is self evident. I'm just going to leave it at that.

Well, I'm unconvinced because you haven't exactly explained how these complex social, geographical, economic and political factors should affect our view of a symbolic Christianity, when considering things like the Crusades.

Beelzy
if we admit that the ideas are outdated, is there any reason why we need to give it any sort of credit with regards to our morality? Perhaps in literature or even history, there may be some credit (we can say what certain ancient peoples believed, and what their traditions were), but with regards to how we conduct our moral standards and society, does this even matter?
It's outdated for us to think of kings in this way, but the same principal is still in place with any symbol of national pride, from sporting teams, to flags, presidents etc. My point was to give you a real historical analogue for where that aspect of the idea came from and how it had a real application.
This hasn't anything to do with “moral standards”, I was just trying to explain how the idea of suffering and sacrifice humanises the Christian god, as well as legitimises him in Catholic belief. None of that is de-legitimised by time.
You can't conflate all Christian ideas like this, it's a nonsense.

I'm not saying it's any less Christian or Catholic now; I'm just saying it doesn't exactly reflect modern society values and morality anymore, and it shouldn't.

Beelzy
You can't really defend an unfalsifiable text. None of its claims can be tested on an empirical level
This was never my intention.
You are ignoring all of a living culture and going back to a document, so there can't really be any argument on the subject of Christianity or the Catholic emphasis on sacrifice or anything else. All I can tell you is that no religion is or has ever been contained or wholly defined by any document. It is very important to realise that it is utterly impossible to understand something like religion by looking at it's elements in isolation.

Think of it this way- without the catholic church (the congregations, the clergy, the writings, the buildings, the art and so on), Catholicism ceases to exist. You cannot reconstruct it from a bible. Just like you cannot reconstruct the United States from the US constitution.

And any of those things probably wouldn't exist without the bible. A Christian congregation can't exist unless you're worshipping the god of the bible. The clergy has roots in the bible historically. The writings wouldn't exist unless they were based on something written in the bible. Churches are created for the specific purpose of holding services and worship for god, which undoubtedly have something to do with the bible. And I haven't seen a single work during the Medieval times that wasn't about Jesus and Mary or one or the other (or the three kings, or some other biblical subject). Is there anything in Christianity that can exist independently of the bible?

You do not need to justify to me why you hold the beliefs you do, or why you think Christianity is useless. I'm not a believer myself. All I was trying to do is explain what part sacrifice and the apparent “violence” has in Catholic belief. Generally I'll agree with any Atheist about belief, where I depart is the anarchistic, iconoclastic tendency to dispense entirely with certain aspects of human culture.

And why does that matter when a modern movie portrays this violence, and people are more reaffirmed about their outdated beliefs? Was this movie somehow supposed to be a historical window on what Christianity actually is? It's historically inaccurate anyways (Jesus was probably not white, and the actual depiction of the crucifixion is questionable.), so I thought it was a film meant just for entertainment–if the film gets anything right, I'd know, only because I researched it myself elsewhere.
Pauca sed matura.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:16AM
ozoneocean at 11:31AM, Dec. 28, 2010
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Beelzy
Well, I'm unconvinced because you haven't exactly explained how these complex social, geographical, economic and political factors should affect our view of a symbolic Christianity, when considering things like the Crusades.
Well you can stay unconvinced because you were the one that tried to connect a whole lot of massive events in European history to the Catholic church taking a completely literal view of all the writings in the bible.
If you're really interested about the crusades there are many great books on the subject. Ditto with the bubonic plague, Galileo, and the inquisitions.
You are perfectly within your rights to make any claim you like in relation in those events, but for me to fully address each one, talking about new trade routes being opened into the east and growing economic migration, increased demand for exotic goods …ending with disease carrying fleas moving into European ports, or the growing economic and martial power of the newer north western European states Vs the older Byzantine Empire and their expansionist, colonialist goals… etc crusades… Or the growing political changes in Europe leading up the the first millennium, continuing after, where the centralised traditional authority of Rome and the Vatican is gradually being eroded by various political/religious schisms leading to the reformation which eventually lead to the backlash of the counter-reformation and various inquisitions, especially in Spain… and on and on…………………………. it's big and complex. :(
(I haven't tried to convince you there, just tried to show a teeny example of the complex factors involved in those events)

Beelzy
I'm not saying it's any less Christian or Catholic now; I'm just saying it doesn't exactly reflect modern society values and morality anymore, and it shouldn't.
You're saying that Christ being seen as human as well as divine (which was my point) doesn't reflect modern moral values?
I don't get you.
Modern people still want to be part of the Catholic church (and the rest), they're still the same modern people and so are their morals and values.

Beelzy
And any of those things probably wouldn't exist without the bible. A Christian congregation can't exist unless you're worshipping the god of the bible. The clergy has roots in the bible historically. The writings wouldn't exist unless they were based on something written in the bible. Churches are created for the specific purpose of holding services and worship for god, which undoubtedly have something to do with the bible. And I haven't seen a single work during the Medieval times that wasn't about Jesus and Mary or one or the other (or the three kings, or some other biblical subject). Is there anything in Christianity that can exist independently of the bible?
Yes: Everything.
If you suddenly wiped out the bible from the equation, all the rest is still there. You could easily reconstruct the bible from all the rest that's left over.
You can not reconstruct any Christian denomination from the bible.

If the United states was wiped out, could you reconstruct it from the US constitution? No, that would be impossible.
If you wiped out the US constitution, the USA would rally to the challenge of reconstructing it

Beelzy
And why does that matter when a modern movie portrays this violence, and people are more reaffirmed about their outdated beliefs? Was this movie somehow supposed to be a historical window on what Christianity actually is? It's historically inaccurate anyways (Jesus was probably not white, and the actual depiction of the crucifixion is questionable.), so I thought it was a film meant just for entertainment–if the film gets anything right, I'd know, only because I researched it myself elsewhere.
You're taking it literally again. It doesn't matter whether any depiction of Christ is historically accurate because the beliefs are based on tradition and ritual, not historical records. It doesn't even matter if there was actually a real Christ, let alone his ethnicity.
And as I've explained it's not “violence” they were trying to show, it was the suffering (the concept I've expanded upon previously).

Were people “reaffirmed” in their beliefs? I don't know. That's up to the individual. Most likely they didn't change one way or the other, and I'd contend your idea that they're “outdated” too. I'm sure aspects of their beliefs are, but then that's the same with us all, isn't it? :)
The world is changing all the time and it's hard for anyone to keep up!
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
Beelzy at 11:25PM, Dec. 29, 2010
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ozoneocean
You're saying that Christ being seen as human as well as divine (which was my point) doesn't reflect modern moral values?
I don't get you.
Modern people still want to be part of the Catholic church (and the rest), they're still the same modern people and so are their morals and values.

No, I'm saying the slavery advocated in the bible and several other strange things mentioned in the Old Testament shouldn't apply anymore–quite a few of these things were condoned historically by the church. If you want to believe in a god and celebrate some rituals, no one is objecting to it; I agree it's all part of culture and tradition, so long as burning witches, torturing heretics, slavery and condemning homosexuals isn't a part of them (not that people still burn witches, but I don't think Christianity itself tells us anything about condemning slavery or being okay with homosexuals; you need something else outside of Christianity to discern such things). However, there are parts of the bible that we consider to be outdated, and there's really no reason to keep following them.

Yes: Everything.
If you suddenly wiped out the bible from the equation, all the rest is still there. You could easily reconstruct the bible from all the rest that's left over.
You can not reconstruct any Christian denomination from the bible.

If that's true, then what is a congregation without the bible, and what is the clergy without the bible? Who or what are these people worshipping if it isn't the biblical god? Isn't it not any different from a pagan ritual?

You're taking it literally again. It doesn't matter whether any depiction of Christ is historically accurate because the beliefs are based on tradition and ritual, not historical records. It doesn't even matter if there was actually a real Christ, let alone his ethnicity.
And as I've explained it's not “violence” they were trying to show, it was the suffering (the concept I've expanded upon previously).

And of course, you know what I think about the Christian idea of suffering…

Were people “reaffirmed” in their beliefs? I don't know. That's up to the individual. Most likely they didn't change one way or the other, and I'd contend your idea that they're “outdated” too. I'm sure aspects of their beliefs are, but then that's the same with us all, isn't it? :)
The world is changing all the time and it's hard for anyone to keep up!

Ja, but not if it's been outdated for 2000 years. That's quite different from something being outdated for 10 years. I'll understand if you can't quite keep up with stuff that happened within the last few months, or even 10 years, but 2000 years? That's way more than a single lifetime.
Pauca sed matura.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:16AM
bravo1102 at 7:27AM, Jan. 3, 2011
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You know that throughout the 19th Century Christianity in the US was turning more and more to the Bible and by the turn of the 20th Century there was the Fundamentalist movement. Without the Bible they couldn't exist. They open the Bible and take everything out of it. Everything is defined through scripture. In many ways this movement has thrown away the traditions and gone wholly back to the Holy Book.

Catholicism can exist without the Bible and in fact the great majority didn't read it for first 1500 years or so. But it is different now because of Christian Fundamentalists. Their faith is blind faith in the Bible.

It's only a small but very vocal movement except that a third of Christians in the USA consider themselves “fundamentalist/evangelical” Christians. So in certain places it is becoming totally different.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:34AM
cortez at 6:20PM, Jan. 4, 2011
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I'm a Christian and after reading this thread apparently the only one :(

my problem with atheism is that they paint christianity as the bad guy religion
as if believing in god will make you homophobic and small minded
I don't like that bit of judgment
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:46AM
Beelzy at 12:01AM, Jan. 5, 2011
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That's because there are verses in the bible condemning homosexuality.

If you choose not to condemn homosexuals anyways because you don't think that's what the bible means, that's fine. I just find it hard to believe you arrived at your conclusion about homosexuality without being influenced by something else outside of the bible.
Pauca sed matura.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:16AM
El Cid at 6:28AM, Jan. 5, 2011
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cortez
my problem with atheism is that they paint christianity as the bad guy religion
That's not atheism; it's antitheism. A lot of atheists are also antitheists, but it's not always the case. Personally, though I am not a believer, I fully accept the possibility that religion does a lot of good for those who practice it and may serve a productive role within humanity which nothing else can. It could well be the case that, if all the world's religions were someday discredited entirely, we'd find it essential to create new ones.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:20PM
Genejoke at 6:45AM, Jan. 5, 2011
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El Cid
cortez
my problem with atheism is that they paint christianity as the bad guy religion
That's not atheism; it's antitheism. A lot of atheists are also antitheists, but it's not always the case. Personally, though I am not a believer, I fully accept the possibility that religion does a lot of good for those who practice it and may serve a productive role within humanity which nothing else can. It could well be the case that, if all the world's religions were someday discredited entirely, we'd find it essential to create new ones.

Like football teams
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:33PM
bravo1102 at 7:36AM, Jan. 5, 2011
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joined: 1-21-2008
El Cid
cortez
my problem with atheism is that they paint christianity as the bad guy religion
That's not atheism; it's antitheism. A lot of atheists are also antitheists, but it's not always the case. Personally, though I am not a believer, I fully accept the possibility that religion does a lot of good for those who practice it and may serve a productive role within humanity which nothing else can. It could well be the case that, if all the world's religions were someday discredited entirely, we'd find it essential to create new ones.

We might find ourselves in the chicken and egg conumdrum wondering which came first, the new religion coming along that discredits the old one or the old religion being discredited causing a new religion to develop.

After all there were plenty of heretics who said the same things as Martin Luther but it took a crisis to discredit the Church in enough eyes to enable Martin Luther to protest and not get squashed like his predecessors.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:34AM

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