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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:26 am 
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Well I've seen the Flying Spaghetti Monster and you can't prove I haven't so there. The burden of proof is on you! :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:47 am 
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tim851 wrote:
I was paraphrasing heavily to make a point.

You can make whatever point you wish, but please don't attribute that to Kant, becasue he didn't say or mean that.

tim851 wrote:
I won't waste time playing pseudo-philosophic children's games. You are deliberately misusing the term "belief system". You are argumenting like the Bomb in the movie "Dark Star".

I've been forced to play these stupid things in philosophy class too. It's pointless. Because you've reached the end of argument if you postulate everything is just subjective belief. All discussion becomes self-entertainment at this stage, because nothing matters anymore.

The conclusion that nothing matters is yours, not mine. Just because you can't prove the things you claim to be true doesn't make everything meaningless.

tim851 wrote:
Science doesn't provide knowledge. It is the only way to test knowledge.

Science is the only way to test scientific knowledge or knowledge of empirical world. But science is not the only way to test knowledge which is outside the scope and ability of science to perceive it.

tim851 wrote:
1. I don't have to [prove God exists]. It's the great thing about science.

2. Or course it is. If you see God with your own eyes, the only way to make sure you ain't just hallucinating is to have other people see him too. And for other people to be sure, they have to do what you did to see him. That's not a belief system.

If you claim that God does not exist, then you do have to prove it. If you claim that the only way that one can have knowledge of God is through science, you have to prove that also.

When you say you don't have to prove these things (and that is the great thing about science that you don't have to prove them) that sounds suspiciously like a religion to me.

I certainly have not seen God with my eyes, nor do I believe that is possible. If you are relying on other people to verify that one's knowledge is real and that one is not hallucinating, there certainly are a very large number of people who think that God definitely does exist, but personally (and apparently unlike you) I don't think proves anything.


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:00 am 
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edh wrote:
Well I've seen the Flying Spaghetti Monster and you can't prove I haven't so there. The burden of proof is on you! :roll:

I am very happy for you that you have seen the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Please don't send me you cleaning bill.

With regard to God, we are not talking about whether anyone has seen God (since God is not visible to our sense perceptions), we are talking about whether God exists. I can understand the idea of a perfect circle in geometry and believe that a perfect circle exists, but in the physical world there is no such thing as a perfect circle, since if you look closely enough the jagged edges of the atoms and molecules make any physical circle less than perfect. Only a naive would claim that there is no such thing as a perfect circle.


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:54 am 
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Here is a rather potent example of how religion "causes" harm.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20054867

"I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of Rape, that it is something that God intended to happen".

This vile man wishes to impose his vile "religious" views on an enormous number of people, and also describes God as a "rapist" which is the only part of his statement that fills me with joy... if only because it shows this man and his church's disgusting views on freedom, Woman's rights and just how evil his church is.

Quote:
I would completely disagree with the statement that your beliefs about science are not like a religion. You may change your mind about certain things, but not likely to change your mind in the supremacy of science and reason as the sole method for understanding the world, especially on the question of whether God exists. You have provided no proof that reason can know these questions (and Kant has explicitly said that reason cannot know them), so your sole reliance on reason and science in these matters is a "belief" just like any other religion.


You are arguing a point that everyone knows is insoluble, so I will not bother to waste my time arguing against you.

Quote:
Yes, religion is man made. But why do persist with equating religion with the question of whether God exists? Religion has little to do with the subject, just as there are many non-scientists (and often unreasonable people) who believe in the supremacy of science and reason.


I am very glad that you recognise religion as man made, as such I would suggest that you create a totally new name for what you currently refer to as "God" because that name (in its hundreds of forms) has already been created by man in the form of religion, so to continue to use the word "God" for something that you suggest is "not" man-made is silly.

Quote:
You claimed above that "trying to get a large amount of Atheists together in one place and at one time is like herding cats." However, as you also pointed out, a lot wars and other conflicts have taken place simply because people practice different religions, so I would doubt your conclusions on that matter. There is lots of unanimity among atheists, at least when it comes to matters of religion and what tools should be used to obtain knowledge about whether God exists.


You seem to have half made a few separate points and rolled them into one, I wont try to untangle them or read into them as I could easily misinterpret your real meaning.

Quote:
In general, you seem to be trying to prove that God does not exist by attacking religion, without really addressing the serious philosophical questions raised by those who belief God exists apart from any religious affiliation or religious worship. This is a logical fallacy, since not all people who believe that God exists even belong to a religion, and if God exists, that existence precedes man and any of his religions.


I think that we mis-understand each other - I dont care in any way at all whether or not god exists or not. If someone wants to believe in the supernatural but "not" a religion then that's up to them, so long as they dont expect me to believe it as well and they dont try to infect the minds of vulnerable people (children, those with low IQ's and the mentally ill) with their nonsense.

Quote:
With regard to God, we are not talking about whether anyone has seen God (since God is not visible to our sense perceptions), we are talking about whether God exists


Just out of interest, what "powers" do you believe that God has.? Does God have morality.? Do you believe than anyone has ever "sensed" God in any way.? And do you believe that God interacts with Humans at all.?


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:18 am 
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m0002a wrote:
Just because you can't prove the things you claim to be true doesn't make everything meaningless.

Oh I can prove the things I claim to be true. It's just you wanna label everything a belief-system. And if everything is just a belief-system, nothing matters anymore.

m0002a wrote:
Science is the only way to test scientific knowledge or knowledge of empirical world. But science is not the only way to test knowledge which is outside the scope and ability of science to perceive it.

There's nothing but the empirical world. If you haven't seen, heard, felt or smelled something and you can't prove it's existence by way of calculation or deduction, it doesn't exist. What would we be talking about? "There is this thing that doesn't exist in our realm and hence I have no idea what it is - let's discuss it!"

m0002a wrote:
If you claim that God does not exist, then you do have to prove it.

If you claim you never murdered somebody in your life, then you have to prove it. Go ahead murderer, make my day.

m0002a wrote:
If you claim that the only way that one can have knowledge of God is through science, you have to prove that also.

The only way one can knowledge of ANYTHING is through science. I chose to believe my gf when she just told me it's raining outside. I can only know if I look myself. That's science.

Quote:
When you say you don't have to prove these things (and that is the great thing about science that you don't have to prove them) that sounds suspiciously like a religion to me.

You prove your innocence, murderer. Then we talk.

Quote:
If you are relying on other people to verify that one's knowledge is real and that one is not hallucinating

Of course you have to rely on others. For a few days some guys at CERN thought neutrinos were moving faster than light. To be sure, they had others check up on that. Turned out to not be the case.

Quote:
there certainly are a very large number of people who think that God definitely does exist, but personally (and apparently unlike you) I don't think proves anything.

You will not find a large number of people who will make any substantial claims as to what that God creature is like, where he's at or what he's up to. They aren't really claiming much. They're hoping and believing a lot. That's why it's called a ... uh, belief-system.


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:07 am 
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This is an interesting thread, and I agree with much of what has been said here, either for or against religion, though I find myself mostly of one mind with 0002a and Irrelevant, and I would like to weigh in, I hope without getting sucker punched.

Disclosure of abuse and ensuing covering up in the Catholic Church, sanctimonious hypocrisy of politicians claiming to be Christians, Islamic fundamentalist terror and intimidation, among others, have all given religion a bad name and been wind in the sails of atheists like Dawkins who claim that not religion badly practiced but religion itself is an evil.

My view is that it's not religion per se but the misuse of religion for human motives like personal enrichment, acquiring political and sexual power over human beings, expressing hatred, and so on that is the issue; Irrelevant is right, to think otherwise is "mistaking correlation for causation." Atheists, too, have done their share in making the human world less livable. And I think a love-based morality as exemplified by Christ, and which should be (but unfortunately often is not) the essence of Christianity, has prevented much murder and mayhem.

As for arguments for or against the existence of God, I support 0002a in criticizing a narrow-minded scientism. The very appeal to "facts" shows a belief in an intelligible structure of reality, and that in turn strongly suggests the presence of a higher order. Analytical, positivist understanding does have limits as even scientists like Newton and Einstein have acknowledged.

Kant, in the "The Ideal of Pure Reason," outlined the speculative arguments for God and dismissed them, yet he believed in God. Like Kant, I would begin not from "facts" alone but from experiential situations, such as in making moral judgments, in which appeal is made to a higher instance. Of course, personal conviction has to be scrutinized by reasoning to prevent the heinous acts we have seen in recent years that have been done in God's name by "true believers."


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 1:31 pm 
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Quote:
My view is that it's not religion per se but the misuse of religion for human motives like personal enrichment, acquiring political and sexual power over human beings, expressing hatred


"personal enrichment"

Qur’an 9:29-Fight against Christians and Jews ”until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.”

"acquiring political and sexual power over human beings"

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

"expressing hatred"

"Go up, my warriors, against the land of Merathaim and against the people of Pekod. Yes, march against Babylon, the land of rebels, a land that I will judge! Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them, as I have commanded you," says the LORD. "Let the battle cry be heard in the land, a shout of great destruction". (Jeremiah 50:21-22 NLT)

As you can see, theft and violence are not just things that bad people do but are actually mandated by religion along with rape, genocide, torture, slavery, child rape, and treating women like animals.


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 3:55 pm 
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andyb wrote:
"acquiring political and sexual power over human beings"

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you ... (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)
You have made a very common mistake: you assumed Hebraic slavery was like colonialist slavery. It wasn't. Hebrew slaves were more like contracted employees: they could own property, had significant legal protections, and had the right to purchase their freedom at any time. A few even rose to wealth and prominence while they were enslaved.

Now, I'm sure the system was abused (systems always are) but the Hebraic version of slavery functioned as a social safety net, providing employment for the impoverished without overburdening an economy that lacked the vast surpluses necessary to operate a modern welfare system. It was not about obtaining power.
andyb wrote:
"expressing hatred"

"Go up, my warriors, against the land of Merathaim and against the people of Pekod ... (Jeremiah 50:21-22 NLT)
And these verses are simply taken out of context. This passage is from a prophecy. The language is figurative and the original target audience was the Jews taken captive by the Babylonians. Even if you interpret it literally and ignore the differences in cultural perspectives (both exceedingly dubious choices), the hatred is focused exclusively on Babylon and the intended recipients of the call to arms are Gentiles one would expect to neither know nor care about God's commands.


I don't know enough to comment one way or the other on your view of the Koran, but I am deeply disappointed that you would judge the Bible when you've clearly read nothing but carefully selected snippets. The Bible and the Koran are very old texts translated from very different languages spoken by very different cultures. They're not short stories you can sum up with a soundbite, or a mass-market novel you can idly speed-read on an airplane. As with all ancient texts, they're easy to misunderstand if you don't know the historical, cultural, and linguistic context.

And that is just one of many reasons why your belief that religion causes violence is absurd. Most "believers" can't be bothered to study their own holy book or learn about the faith they claim to follow. How can you blame a religion for the actions of those ignorant of its tenets? How could those too disinterested to attend services once a week also be so devoted that they'd risk life and limb for their alleged faith?

I say again: religious violence is not about religion. For most badly behaving "believers," their alleged belief is a justification, not a motivation, and blaming that justification for their actions is like thinking your car broke down because of its paint job. Could you be right? Sure, but it's extremely unlikely.

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:30 pm 
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Quote:
You have made a very common mistake: you assumed Hebraic slavery was like colonialist slavery. It wasn't. Hebrew slaves were more like contracted employees: they could own property, had significant legal protections, and had the right to purchase their freedom at any time. A few even rose to wealth and prominence while they were enslaved.

Now, I'm sure the system was abused (systems always are) but the Hebraic version of slavery functioned as a social safety net, providing employment for the impoverished without overburdening an economy that lacked the vast surpluses necessary to operate a modern welfare system. It was not about obtaining power.


Please provide evidence, I may have missed it but I believe that you are wrong. I do know that there were two "types" of slavery, those where the slaves were Jewish and those who are not, and there are different "rules" that apply. Either way anyone who attempts to defend "the ownership of another human being" (slavery) is on a slippery slope.

Quote:
And these verses are simply taken out of context. This passage is from a prophecy. The language is figurative and the original target audience was the Jews taken captive by the Babylonians. Even if you interpret it literally and ignore the differences in cultural perspectives (both exceedingly dubious choices), the hatred is focused exclusively on Babylon and the intended recipients of the call to arms are Gentiles one would expect to neither know nor care about God's commands.


I dont really care whether it was a "prophesy", a command from "God" or whether you consider that I have misinterpreted it, the simple fact is that the God of the desert, the Abrahamic God and the 3 (primary) religions that have spawned are full of statement, quotes, and commands to do evil deeds, a great many being committed directly by God, very often for pathetic reasons. Anyone who defends these evil actions is "cherry-picking" the good bits and ignoring the bad, congratulations on you having morals that are clearly not defined by religious text and distancing yourself from the hatred and violence - sadly many people do not.

There are dozens more that cover all sorts of heinous crimes against humanity for those who wish to have a look at the link below.

http://www.evilbible.com/

Quote:
I don't know enough to comment one way or the other on your view of the Koran, but I am deeply disappointed that you would judge the Bible when you've clearly read nothing but carefully selected snippets. The Bible and the Koran are very old texts translated from very different languages spoken by very different cultures. They're not short stories you can sum up with a soundbite, or a mass-market novel you can idly speed-read on an airplane. As with all ancient texts, they're easy to misunderstand if you don't know the historical, cultural, and linguistic context.


I disagree, God directly killed 2.5 million people in the Bible, how many were killed by the Devil - 10 and they were allowed to be killed by God.

http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.co. ... bible.html

Quote:
And that is just one of many reasons why your belief that religion causes violence is absurd. Most "believers" can't be bothered to study their own holy book or learn about the faith they claim to follow. How can you blame a religion for the actions of those ignorant of its tenets? How could those too disinterested to attend services once a week also be so devoted that they'd risk life and limb for their alleged faith?


In exactly the same way that bombard-marketing works, if you keep on repeating the same thing over and over (some) people are blind-sighted to anything else, not to mention of course that the majority of violent religious nutters are not literate, and many are not even allowed to be taught to read, so they become a victim of evil Priests and Imams, you may not know that it was "illegal" for a very long time to even own a Bible in your own language (in the UK) and people were murdered by the clergy for daring to read their religious book.

Quote:
I say again: religious violence is not about religion. For most badly behaving "believers," their alleged belief is a justification, not a motivation, and blaming that justification for their actions is like thinking your car broke down because of its paint job. Could you be right? Sure, but it's extremely unlikely.


I suggest very strongly that all of the evidence is against you, you have all of the proof to provide. Saying this, please do note that I am not in any way suggesting that all people regardless of how well read in their holy book they are are going to do evil things, and likewise I would not dare to suggest that being Religious does not prompt people to do good things.


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:53 pm 
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Irrelevant wrote:
Hebrew slaves were more like contracted employees: they could own property, had significant legal protections, and had the right to purchase their freedom at any time. A few even rose to wealth and prominence while they were enslaved.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism_and_slavery

What you say only applies to Jewish slaves. Other slaves were just slaves. And the majority of slaves was not Jewish.

So much for that.

Cotton farm owners in Alabama probably treated white trash christian bondsmen differently than niggers too.


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:01 pm 
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andyb wrote:
Quote:
You have made a very common mistake: you assumed Hebraic slavery was like colonialist slavery. It wasn't ...
Please provide evidence, I may have missed it but I believe that you are wrong.
tim851 wrote:
What you say only applies to Jewish slaves. Other slaves were just slaves. And the majority of slaves was not Jewish.
The Wikipedia article is misleading, and the only concise summary I found that didn't come from openly biased sources (ie, Christian or anti-Christian). The neutral articles/books on Google Scholar avoid conflict by burying their conclusions in details. The best, relatively concise resource I could find was this article which, at least at first glance, appears to be well documented and attempting objectivity.

If you want to get really solid data, AFAIK you'll just have to wade through a dozen or so articles on Google Scholar. I did the equivalent when I read Deuteronomy a few years ago. I'm afraid I don't have time to do it again just to assemble you a bibliography, but if you're at all familiar with academic research methods, that wouldn't save you much time, anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:30 pm 
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Quote:
The best, relatively concise resource I could find was this article which, at least at first glance, appears to be well documented and attempting objectivity.


The man who wrote this is a self-confessed "Born Again Christian", would I believe anything that he preaches, I am a natural skeptic and I have seen/read/heard just about every argument there is that would be considered "pro-God" or "pro-religion", I will have a read, but I best point out that before reading a single word on the webpage I started to look for information about the Author, it doesn't look good for the "objectivity".

Quote:
http://christianthinktank.com/oxymore.html


I gave it a shot, it was soon apparent that it was a shocking case of TLDR, in response I give you this as a gift.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGwfHxLkYK4

Quote:
If you want to get really solid data, AFAIK you'll just have to wade through a dozen or so articles on Google Scholar. I did the equivalent when I read Deuteronomy a few years ago. I'm afraid I don't have time to do it again just to assemble you a bibliography, but if you're at all familiar with academic research methods, that wouldn't save you much time, anyway.


No thanks, I will politely decline, it is blatantly obvious that "the unholy Bible" condones slavery, also as mentioned before, if you continue to add ifs and buts to try to "defend" the text in the bible as "not being slavery" in some way, shape or form you are falling into the classic trap of ignoring the nasty bits and listening to the good bits.

exodus 21 - 20/21

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=KJV


If you want to cast the Christian Holy book in a good light then read the the "Jefferson Bible" where the great man removed anything that was either wrong or immoral, it stands at 20-pages of A4.

http://pattonhq.com/links/uccministry/jeffbible.pdf


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:56 am 
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andyb wrote:
The man who wrote this is a self-confessed "Born Again Christian", would I believe anything that he preaches
And what would you think if he decided he'd never believe anything from an atheist?

Science Fail 1: Not listening to someone because they disagree with you.
andyb wrote:
I am a natural skeptic and I have seen/read/heard just about every argument there is that would be considered "pro-God" or "pro-religion"
So any such argument can be automatically disregarded?

Science Fail 2: Believing you have nothing more to learn.
andyb wrote:
I gave it a shot, it was soon apparent that it was a shocking case of TLDR ...
I think, perhaps, I've spent too much time with scientific journals recently, because I thought it was a bit vague. I suppose after one spends enough time reading such gems as "The homotetrameric form of Cin8p, a Saccharomyces cerevisiae kinesin-5 motor, is essential for its in vivo function," one's perspective changes a bit.

Science Fail 3: Sacrificing rigor for convenience.
andyb wrote:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGwfHxLkYK4
I don't do unexplained video links. Reading's faster and I don't risk being the umpteen-millionth person to watch some stupid video that has inexplicably become a phenomenon. If you're not just being snarky, you'll have to tell me what the video's about before I'll watch it.
andyb wrote:
if you continue to add ifs and buts to try to "defend" the text in the bible as "not being slavery" in some way, shape or form you are falling into the classic trap of ignoring the nasty bits and listening to the good bits.
The only bits I've ignored are the Tabernacle-blueprinting chapters in Exodus. The rest, I've read, and contextualized using extra-biblical sources varied in both nature and bias. Evil Bible was one of them, though I found it essentially useless. It was difficult to find actual data in all that sneering.
andyb wrote:
If you want to cast the Christian Holy book in a good light then read the the "Jefferson Bible" where the great man removed anything that was either wrong or immoral
The Jefferson Bible only covers the Gospels, which overlap enough that Jefferson wouldn't have needed to remove much (if anything) to achieve that page length.

I don't know if you failed to read the ginormous subtitle in that PDF you linked, are so completely ignorant that you think the Gospels are the entirety of the New Testament, or are deliberately trying to mislead me, but I'm afraid your mislabeling it "the Christian Holy book" is the last straw. In addition to the issues I've mentioned above, in the course of this discussion you've waved away your errors, excluded data that disagreed with you, brusquely dismissed the foundations of scientific textual analysis, and demonstrated general disinterest in actually applying the scientific method yourself.

At this point, I can only conclude that you are interested only in passing judgment, not genuine debate, and that your mind is firmly welded shut. If I'm wrong, then we have experienced a major failure of communication. Either way, further discussion between us will accomplish nothing but increase our post count.


EDIT: It appears I forgot to apologize for forgetting to say that my source was Christian. I was aware of his potential bias and mistakenly thought I'd explicitly stated it. My bad. :oops:

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Last edited by Irrelevant on Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:32 am 
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TLDR.

You still can't prove that the flying spaghetti monster doesn't exist!

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:01 am 
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edh wrote:
TLDR.
Seriously? What do you guys want? Coloring books? :evil:

edh wrote:
You still can't prove that the flying spaghetti monster doesn't exist!
Nope. And you can't prove it does. Agnosticism wins.

And you can replace "flying spaghetti monster" with any noun of your choosing and arrive at the same result. It's why nihilism is both marvelously perfect and horribly uncomfortable.

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:40 am 
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Quote:
And what would you think if he decided he'd never believe anything from an atheist?


Of course not, False Idols come to mind.

http://www.openbible.info/topics/worship_of_false_gods

Quote:
I don't do unexplained video links. Reading's faster and I don't risk being the umpteen-millionth person to watch some stupid video that has inexplicably become a phenomenon. If you're not just being snarky, you'll have to tell me what the video's about before I'll watch it.


This is a sunday call-in show for the people of the world, but based in Austen Texas called the "Athiest Experience" where bible thumpers often phone in to "prove the existence of God, or that certain Bible statements state that murdering homosexuals is just fine because the Bible says it is, as well as some who share their experience with their faith.

In this example the first caller phones in stating that he re-read the Bible and found the quotation about Slavery that I have already mentioned in Exodus, for this gentleman this was the final straw as he could not reconcile his "Faith" with his belief that Slavery is an evil act.

Quote:
The only bits I've ignored are the Tabernacle-blueprinting chapters in Exodus. The rest, I've read, and contextualized using extra-biblical sources varied in both nature and bias.


Please explain why any "extra-biblical sources" are needed when the Bible is the "true word of God".

Quote:
At this point, I can only conclude that you are interested only in passing judgment, not genuine debate, and that your mind is firmly welded shut. If I'm wrong, then we have experienced a major failure of communication. Either way, further discussion between us will accomplish nothing but increase our post count.


Just like you wont watch any "unexplained videos", I wont read loads of text which is a horrible blend of "bible verses" and opinion, I am quite capable of reading Bible verses and making my own opinion, I dont need a load of explanations from a born again Christian, that's the reason why I concluded its a TLDR, what would potentially change my mind are quotations from the Bible that say that slavery is bad.

Quote:
The Jefferson Bible only covers the Gospels, which overlap enough that Jefferson wouldn't have needed to remove much (if anything) to achieve that page length.


I didn't read more than half a page of the Jefferson Bible either, my mind shut down with a bad case of boredom, although I did download it so that I can continue to read it at some point when I need to go to sleep fast. As I did not read it I would not know that it "only" included the Gospels - perhaps someone should finish what Jefferson started and go through the entire Bible, and then the Quran (and Hadiths) and the the Old Testament.

Quote:
Seriously? What do you guys want? Coloring books? :evil:


Nope, I just want some Bible verses that say that Slavery is wrong and evil. Seemingly they dont exist, unlike bits of the Bible that say that you should not do xyz bad things, and then gives you an example of someone (or God) doing exactly that in a manner that seems to be acceptable.


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:02 am 
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I've been following this thread with interest. Appreciate AndyB's forthrightness, would like to down a pint with him in Essex and discuss this perennial question.

I see several positions forwarded here:

1. Theism. There is a God.
2. Atheism. There is no God.
3. Positivism. Statements about God are meaningless, all we can talk about are the facts.
4. Agnosticism. There may or may not be a God.

As opposed to the positivists, who say the universe just is and any discussion about a higher being is wasted time, the theists and the atheists are certain that their positions are true and discussion is possible (even if it gets heated at times). That leaves the agnostics, whose certainty is their uncertainty, but they are willing at least to talk about the [i]possibility[i] of a God.

Of these positions, only the agnostic is safe. The theists and the atheists are claiming to be in possession of the truth; all the agnostic is laying claim to is not knowing. It's a humble and a rational position. The agnostic can say that he's neither believing too much nor believing too little, neither credulous nor skeptical.

Yet as much as I admire the agnostic position, because arguments for or against God seem like an endless intellectual game, points accumulating on both sides but without any certain outcome, and the historical evidence is unsure, still I am a theist. I freely admit that this belief is based on subjective experiences and is a leap of faith, but like very much else in this mysterious life sometimes you have to rely on intuition, especially if you are talking about something that exists but largely lies outside the limits of human knowledge.


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:11 am 
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Irrelevant wrote:
The Wikipedia article is misleading

Is it?

Well then, I quote you from the Old Testament passages footnoted therein:

Leviticus, 25:

Quote:
39 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.

44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

What a misleading Wikipedia article, quoting the bible and all. The bible is so vague, I can hardly make heads or tails of this. I should rely on a neutral website called christianthinktank.com, like you.

Because I did not and decided to read the bible myself, I was confused by this part, Exodus 21:
Quote:
2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. 3 If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.

5 “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master must take him before the judges.[a] He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

7 “If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. 8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself,[b] he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. 9 If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.

Oh Lord, what does all that mean? Does it mean a slave who is given a wife by his master can either choose to go free and leave her behind or commit himself to lifelong slavery? And did women not have these go-free rights at all? That can't be!

Well at least I can rest assured that the Israelites treated their slaves well, as exemplified in Exodus 21:12

Quote:
20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:24 am 
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RHN wrote:
As opposed to the positivists, who say the universe just is and any discussion about a higher being is wasted time

That's not what Positivists or Scientists say. Scientists say: a higher being would be part of the Universe too. If it transcends our known laws of physics, they have to be adapted. If it turns out that this being lives forever outside of space and time, we will have to incorporate this into our model of reality as well. But we will only do that once we've found that being. So let's go and search for it, or at least evidence for it. Because if we cannot see it, hear it, smell it, feel it, calculate it or otherwise know it's there, what the hell are we talking about?

That is Scientism. Science never claims to know everything or anything with absolute certainty. And Scientists have always been thinking and talking about an infinite number of things they couldn't prove. It's ridiculous to pretend Scientists can't think of a world outside the here and now.

It's just when the Scientist is asked to go to church on Sunday morning, when he is asked to teach Creationism in school - he wants a reason why. And that reason can't just be "because". It can't be "because you can't disprove my God fiction" either.
He will, however, let other people go to church and even tell their kids the tale of Creationism.


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:28 am 
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That's not what Positivists or Scientists say.


By way of definition:

"The characteristic theses of positivism are that science is the only valid knowledge and facts the only possible objects of knowledge... Positivism denies the existence or intelligibility of forces or substances that go beyond the facts and the laws ascertained by science. It opposes any kind of metaphysics and, in general, any procedure of investigation that is not reducible to scientific method." [The Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

I see your point: a true scientist is open even to supernatural phenomena, but if such a phenomenon can't be verified by scientific method, it does not exist. The original positivists even claimed that politics, ethics, and, yes, religion could become scientific disciplines.

Here I am of a different opinion, the experience of God is not possible through scientific analysis alone. "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."

If God has a meaning, it is something which cannot be said but which shows itself.

As for your second point, the insistence of fundamentalist "true believers" that others must believe and act as they do, I'm in emphatic agreement. I suppose such people are fundamentally insecure and so feel that they have to persuade others of their belief in order to overcome that insecurity. Unfortunately for us, some will stop at nothing to accomplish this, including murder.


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:49 am 
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RHN wrote:
By way of definition:

"The characteristic theses of positivism are that science is the only valid knowledge and facts the only possible objects of knowledge... Positivism denies the existence or intelligibility of forces or substances that go beyond the facts and the laws ascertained by science. It opposes any kind of metaphysics and, in general, any procedure of investigation that is not reducible to scientific method." [The Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

This definition is pretty much what I said.

Quote:
Here I am of a different opinion, the experience of God is not possible through scientific analysis alone. "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."

Then tell me: if the experience of God is not possible through scientific analysis alone, what do I have to do, to get it? How did you come to "know" God? How does he/it manifest itself in your life?

And: is there anything else in life that you experience in such a way?


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:45 am 
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I've been lurking on this thread for some time, and I just wanted to add my two cents.

tim851 wrote:
Quote:
Here I am of a different opinion, the experience of God is not possible through scientific analysis alone. "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."

Then tell me: if the experience of God is not possible through scientific analysis alone, what do I have to do, to get it? How did you come to "know" God? How does he/it manifest itself in your life?

And: is there anything else in life that you experience in such a way?

I would add "Whatever evidence you site for these 'reasons of the heart' why do you think it is about the world around you and god, and not about yourself?"


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:27 pm 
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Quote:
Appreciate AndyB's forthrightness, would like to down a pint with him in Essex and discuss this perennial question.


I would be more than happy to meet anyone from SPCR in a pub, although language might be a problem as my spoken German is pathetic, and although I can get a rough idea of something from reading it would be a laborious conversation with pen and paper :)

Quote:
As opposed to the positivists, who say the universe just is and any discussion about a higher being is wasted time, the theists and the atheists are certain that their positions are true and discussion is possible (even if it gets heated at times).


Somewhere (at least once in this very long thread that stretches across years) I have stated that I cannot be 100% certain that there is no God, but I still consider myself an Athiest because its much easier to round up my belief that there is no God from 99.999%. In that way I do like to differentiate myself from the average religious person whose entire religion is based on the "fact" that there is a God, so to even admit that the possibility that God does not exist might be 0.001% would still be far to much to admit - please consider me an Agnostic that is 99.999% certain that there is no god and if you wish to call me an Athiest I wont complain too much :wink:

Quote:
Yet as much as I admire the agnostic position, because arguments for or against God seem like an endless intellectual game, points accumulating on both sides but without any certain outcome, and the historical evidence is unsure, still I am a theist. I freely admit that this belief is based on subjective experiences and is a leap of faith, but like very much else in this mysterious life sometimes you have to rely on intuition, especially if you are talking about something that exists but largely lies outside the limits of human knowledge.


I personally cannot abide anyone who considers themselves 50/50 as to the existence of God, they are the type of Agnostics that give Agnostics a bad name. I am Agnostic to the degree of 99.999% certainty that there is no Santa Claus, there are no Elves, there is no Loch Ness Monster, there is no Tooth Fairy.

To say that The Tooth Fairy exists should not be given the same weight as the argument against the existence of Tooth Fairy - any sensible Agnostic would not say its 50/50, that would be moronic and a total waste of human intellect, I say the same thing about God - the fact that I cannot prove that either of them do not exist is to ignore the point that I simply cannot believe that either of them exist, if I were to believe that any one of them exists, I must then also believe in Dragons, Arboreal Carnivorous Haggis, Yeti and God.

I have nothing personally against any religious person so long as they abide by 3 simple rules, (1), they dont expect me to believe or respect their belief in any way, (2), they dont try and push their beliefs onto other people against those other peoples will (e.g. abortion, gay marriage, womens rights, teaching pseudo-science to children in schools), (3), they dont preach hatred in the name of religion (or any other way associated with religion).

I personally get on fine with the (admittedly few (just a single friend, the rest are relatives and all on one side of the family)) religious people I know and personally have nothing against religious people and do not try to "convert" people to be a non-religious person - however if religion crops up in conversation then I wont hold a lot back.

Quote:
I would add "Whatever evidence you site for these 'reasons of the heart' why do you think it is about the world around you and god, and not about yourself?"


This begs the question to all religious people.

Are you a "Theist" or a "Deist", the basic difference is "do you believe in a personal God", one who listens to your prayers, watches who you shag, doesn't like you eating certain things and cares about "you".


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:40 am 
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Quote:
...if the experience of God is not possible through scientific analysis alone, what do I have to do, to get it? How did you come to "know" God? How does he/it manifest itself in your life?


I wish I could give you a satisfactory answer, but I don't think I can.

I hesitate to even discuss what I called the experience of God (for lack of a better expression) as so many people have laid claim to it to aggrandize themselves or to replenish their bank accounts or worse. But more importantly, this takes us into an area where language itself meets its limit. As for telling you what you have to do to "get it," I'm at a total loss. I can't claim to "know" God. I don't. I can only say that I have experienced a sense of a higher reality when, for example, listening to Bach or walking in the woods. That makes me a Wordsworthian sort of romantic, I suppose, but that's about all I can offer you, sorry.

You might want to take a look at William James's Varieties of Religious Experience, which is widely available as a download, and which examines religious experience from a psychological point of view and would, I think, interest non-believers as well.

Quote:
Is there anything else in life that you experience in such a way?


I think I know what you're up to in asking this. No. The experiences--by the way, not full-blown mystical experiences, just a flash of something higher--have been unique and subjectively authoritative.

Quote:
Whatever evidence you site for these 'reasons of the heart' why do you think it is about the world around you and god, and not about yourself?


Researchers have discovered that electrically stimulating a brain area could cause what might be called mystical experiences, or rather not mystical experiences but experiences that have the characteristics of alleged mystical experiences. It's entirely possible that these flashes of transcendental insight I and others have had are nothing more than coincidental neuronal discharges. I doubt it, but here, too, uncertainty.

Quote:
Are you a "Theist" or a "Deist", the basic difference is "do you believe in a personal God", one who listens to your prayers, watches who you shag, doesn't like you eating certain things and cares about "you"?


If I had cancer, I doubt very much that my prayer, or other people's prayers, would cure me. That's magical thinking. The evidence is overwhelming that prayer, at least in this sense, is ineffective. Also, the idea that some being--the stereotypical white-bearded patriarch--is watching my every move strikes me as infantile. If I pray at all, it is not to fulfill my wishes but to live in accord with God's will, which I construe as an affirmation of life.

If God is personal, then only insofar as God expresses Himself through human beings. That's very much "through a glass darkly" and as murky and uncertain as is human nature. That's why I reject fundamentalist or literalist interpretations. The discussion above about slavery, for example, I find irrelevant as the Old Testament was written by human beings very much in a long-past social and cultural situation.

Quote:
...although language might be a problem as my spoken German is pathetic.


I think my posts strongly suggest that I have one of those Star Trek-type instant translation devices. When we down that pint, I will have it ready.

My apologies to the TLDR readers.


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:56 am 
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RHN wrote:
I hesitate to even discuss what I called the experience of God (...) language itself meets its limit. As for telling you what you have to do to "get it," I'm at a total loss. I can't claim to "know" God. I don't. I can only say that I have experienced a sense of a higher reality when, for example, listening to Bach or walking in the woods. (...) not full-blown mystical experiences, just a flash of something higher (...) If God is personal, then only insofar as God expresses Himself through human beings. That's very much "through a glass darkly" and as murky and uncertain as is human nature.

This is what baffles me. You seem to have no idea what your experience was. You even admit that it might be nothing at all. Yet you want to connect it to some sort of "personal God".

The Agnostic would try to ignore it, in fear he might have to find something out one way or the other. The Scientist would try to find an actual answer for what instilled the feeling in him. The Theist just assumes something.

How is your sensing a higher reality when listening to Bach different from fearing the wrath of Thor when thunder bolts?


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:46 am 
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Quote:
This is what baffles me. You seem to have no idea what your experience was.


I do, but that experience is not directly communicable. Freud, referring to Rolland, called it the "oceanic feeling": a sense of awe, a sense, as Einstein put it, of a "sublime and marvelous order" as revealed in nature as a "single significant whole." That's why I can't call myself an atheist or an agnostic despite my respect for both views.

Note that my default position is of extreme skepticism when someone reports that he's seen a visitation of the Virgin Mary, heard allegedly divine voices commanding him to sell all his possessions, been harassed by Satan, and so on. Likely causes are either mental illness or attempted fraud.

Quote:
You even admit that it might be nothing at all.


I try to keep an open mind. A Freudian would say that the so-called "oceanic feeling" might result from an unconscious memory of when I was beginning, as an infant, to differentiate myself from my mother. A biochemist might claim that a sudden alteration of brain chemistry triggered a synaptic event that I mistook for a transcendental experience. There's no end of reductionist explanations.

In the end, it comes down to an act of faith. I don't want to impose what I believe on other people. I'm just giving an honest account of my position. Let others make up their own minds.

Quote:
Yet you want to connect it to some sort of "personal God".


It's not my belief that God is a person or an anthropomorphic deity handing out rewards and punishments, conjuring up storms to punish the wicked, answering a prayer for a new car, and so on. If there is a personal God, then only insofar as a person makes God personal.

Quote:
The Agnostic would try to ignore it, in fear he might have to find something out one way or the other.


I don't think most agnostics would see it that way, but I understand what you mean by agnostic evasiveness. But then positivists, too, may be evading the emotional and intuitive side of human nature that makes up such a large part of our experience of the world.

Quote:
The Scientist would try to find an actual answer for what instilled the feeling in him. The Theist just assumes something.


Both the scientist and the theist are proceeding from assumptions. The history of science is one of assumptions being forwarded, then dismissed and yielding to new assumption. Even in mathematics, the truth of axioms was once seen as beyond question, but, according to Gödel's incompleteness theorem, mathematics will never have enough axioms to complete itself as a system and, what is more, can't even prove that a chosen set of axioms is consistent.

Here, I think the question really is one of different kinds of knowing and what kinds of knowing are suitable for different areas of human experience.

Quote:
How is your sensing a higher reality when listening to Bach different from fearing the wrath of Thor when thunder bolts?


I would call it an intuitive insight, not a belief in an easily disprovable cosmology or cultural drama of legendary gods.


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:35 am 
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Quote:
I try to keep an open mind. A Freudian would say that the so-called "oceanic feeling" might result from an unconscious memory of when I was beginning, as an infant, to differentiate myself from my mother. A biochemist might claim that a sudden alteration of brain chemistry triggered a synaptic event that I mistook for a transcendental experience. There's no end of reductionist explanations.

If I understood my psychology professor correctly, Freud has been "debunked", for the most part.

And a biochemist will tell you that there's a variety of psychodelic drugs that can instill transcendental experiences. Doesn't that unsettle you?

Quote:
It's not my belief that God is a person or an anthropomorphic deity handing out rewards and punishments, conjuring up storms to punish the wicked, answering a prayer for a new car, and so on.

Then you shouldn't call it God. The bible has a kind of specific view of God, as have Christians in general. If you believe in some loose definition of a higher power, you should give it a different term. It's also better for discussions like this one. Any atheist will tell you that there is no personal God, as any evidence for him has been disproven and ridiculed. If, however, you proclaim to believe in a higher order or something like it, even most atheists will tell you: sure, why not.

That's what I tried to tell somebody else earlier in this thread. As long as you're being unspecific enough, science can't and won't fight you.

Quote:
Both the scientist and the theist are proceeding from assumptions.

Both are starting from assumptions, only the scientists proceeds though.


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 Post subject: Re: If you could ask God one question ...
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:43 am 
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Quote:
Freud has been "debunked"


Freud, the great debunker, debunked? That's funny. But actually Freud has been attacked ever since he made his theories public, including by his followers, most famously by C. G. Jung. And while it's true that psychologists are not referring to Freud the way they used to just a few decades ago, concepts like "transference," "attachment," "defense mechanism" and others are still regularly used, at least in a clinical setting.

Quote:
Then you shouldn't call it God.


The usual lexical definition is of "God" (capitalized) as "ultimate reality" and that is the sense in which it has been used for centuries. "God" as personal usually is understood in a subsidiary sense.

Words like "God," "love," "freedom," and so on, are like worn coins that have been in circulation so long that their true value can't be determined. Moreover, the word "God" has been misappropriated for reasons that, in my view, have nothing to do with God.

I don't use the word "God" at all in normal conversation for fear of being branded an evangelist or worse. Ironically, I do use it in conversations with one of my best and oldest friends, who happens to be an atheist.

What to say instead of "God"? The "Absolute" (Hegel) or the "ultimate concern" (Tillich), for instance? That reduces God to a bloodless abstraction and, while I don't conceive of God as a person, the experience of God is personal.

As I wrote above, God is beyond the limits of language, which might be part of the reasoning behind the Jewish practice of never pronouncing out loud the ancient Hebrew name for God, YHWH.

Quote:
only the scientists


They work it through from guesses until they have empirical verification, but then the next set of data turns up and overturns their theories. And what they discover, valuable though it may be, is applicable only within a narrowly defined area of human knowledge.

No atheists in foxholes, as the man said.


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