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The super-rational Absolute (renamed)

by Lily Sat Oct 30th, 2010 at 08:15:58 PM EST

"Why do you experience this [my faith] as "Truth"? If it's true or false, there must be some level of explainable logic behind the structure of these thoughts, which one would assume would be explainable." (ceebs/27.10.-6:35:01pmEST)

"It feels right" doesn't feel right for an answer. Neither, "this is simply so because this is what it's always been like."

The following is an attempt to continue what was begun in the debate following Sven Triloqvist's latest diary.


Views were expressed that ranged from not believing in a God and a spiritual world to faith in a spiritual realm presided by God and manifesting itself as a religion. And then, there were many in-betweeners, -

1)    There is no God, and spirituality is nothing but a delusion. Big Bang and evolution explain everything well enough.

2)    There is a spiritual realm but it's mostly irrational and inconsistent pre-industrial hogwash. Why pay attention to it?

3a) There is a spiritual sphere that belongs to the individual. Every person can          experience it but it's everyone's private business.

3b) In today's world, we each individually need to make transcendental experiences.

3c) We live in an emerging world that doesn't need a god.

4)    There is one specific Creator-God who is universal and absolute and can be personally experienced.

5)    = 4), practiced as a Religion.

I assume that everyone will find himself somewhere in this list.

All participants in the debate, believers or non-believers appeared to have a Judeo-Christian cultural background. From there, the discussion revolved mostly around the question whether there would be any good reason at all to believe in the spiritual, to have faith in a god, why would he exist, and is religion any good at all?

Faith can be discussed but religion is off. The big churches are corrupt, power-hungry, hierarchical, promote a theology that is shaped by the need of rulers etc. There are deep-sitting negative experiences in many.

Religion - what is it? Religion, it was said, tells us how things are/it explains the world, and it tells as how to act/it organizes the society and the individual.
I add that religion is based on Holy Scripture which is an account of God's walk with man. The laws found in Scripture are the basis of church dogma (with amendments..). Scripture, though, is more than a set of rules and a history book. There's an inner wisdom to it, and it's a door through which we can experience God.

The God. If there is a god, are we dealing with a personal or a universal god? Is he outside and above us or within our selves or both?

A Swedish kind of death said, "C S Lewis warned about arguing that we cannot explain X, thus god caused X. He called it the god-in-the-holes argument."

JakeS added, " even if the space were not shrinking, it would still be demeaning to God to be placed within the confines of what we do not have a good scientific model for."

IF there is a God, we don't want to be able to keep him in a shoebox and belittle him. He should leave us in awe...

Someone had the idea that "any reasonably competent God should anyway have the power to make itself known to all beings, if that is what it wishes..." - an expectation that contains an image of God, how he is supposed to be. It doesn't work that way.

Spiritually speaking and from my own subjective point of view, God has his reasons why he doesn't show up like this...

----------

As to faith in general, it occurred to me that it is very much like love.

We don't need a theory of love. We know that it is there because we experience it, and it is an absolutely vital experience for everyone. Babies don't thrive without love and adults get depressed. We need it like the air we breathe, like the water we drink...

We feel love within ourselves, no matter what the object of love may be. But in the case of love for a partner, flowery, romantic feelings may not be enough. We will also want to know who the person is that causes us to feel the way we do. We want a rational assessment. In societies where weddings are arranged, these rational aspects take precedence over everything else.

Romantic love alone without taking into account material details may lead to deception - or not, as much as arranged marriages may remain emotionally empty - or not.

Therefore love and marriage are very similar to faith and religion. Faith is love of God, a longing for God, it means to trust God. We can follow a feeling and drop into the "right" religion or fall prey to the Scientology movement. We can be born into a Catholic family and will follow the religious tradition of our ancestors and find faith and spirituality under this roof - or feel misunderstood and don't find faith in this structure.

In both cases, it is clear, that we want to feel that everything's alright but whether it is or not also depends on some hard facts.

The personal faith experience is an intimate thing between God and the person.

The story of God itself is of general, universal interest, subject to debate, doubt and scrutiny. What is the story that we wish to believe? Why? What church, religion or religious sub-group is the one closest to the Truth, to Reality, as we perceive it?

We are entitled to ask all our questions, to doubt and protest. This is how we grow towards the Truth and closer to God. As we seek, the Truth will reveal itself to us and we will experience God. This journey is irrational - as irrational as love. If we want to find, we will find because it's already there. Love is there, and a God who's longing for us is there as well.

IF there is a god, as I claim, we want him to be there for us individually. We want the intimate experience, and we want him to make sense globally and be there for everyone, as it was, as it is and as it will be forever and ever.

-------

Now, I haven't replied to the question why I experience my faith as Truth. The cool thing really is that I sense that I don't have to. It's my own intimate experience, and I have looked and found truth, reality in Christianity. Look at history, study timelines, try to understand biblical prophecy and how it was fulfilled. Pray and long for God, and you'll find what's true. Seek and you shall find. If you long for God and the Truth, not just for a personal spiritual experience (there are many ways to have this), you will find The Right One.

There was the question of whether knowledge of this reality would be useful in any way. We can e.g. ask for full employment and new resources but awareness of true reality may teach us that our world isn't made to last. Life as we know it is just a transitional stage, real, yet passing, and it is part of a larger plan, and we may find consolation therein. (No, I'm not promoting environmental rough-housing.)

The theory of an "emerging" world is soothing - but is it real?

Display:
What if human psychology is geared to believe something, and rarely functions successfully if those belief brain areas are not "satisfied"? Logic and adequacy to reality is then not the main point. We just have figure out this world to living satisfactoriness with all limitations (and "false" devices) we have.
by das monde on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 04:08:40 AM EST
I think we are not meant to find truth only within ourselves, to satisfy "belief brain areas" :). There must be something outside of ourselves; it was called an absolute reference point, god. If 'it' exists, it can be found with the tools at our disposal.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 05:42:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
There must be something outside of ourselves

I disagree. If there is a God it is not something 'other': He/She is in us and everything there is, and in fact indistinguishable from us.

God IMHO is non-dual: there is only One. A single Reality, and God is an aspect of it.

I'm not sure about absolutes either: I suspect everything is relative, and that

Reality is defined by the questions you put to it.

....as J A Wheeler put it.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 06:46:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand God as outside/inside - everywhere. If we want him to explain the world to us, we must experience him as 'outside', eg through what other people experience with God, and what we (believe to)'know' other people have experienced with him throughout history.

If reality is only defined by the questions we put into it, life is just an accident; there's no plan, no project; it seems quite sense-less to me. Through our questions, we participate actively in our 'destiny' that unfolds beneath our feet, I agree, but I don't think reality is limited to this. As humanity we're all heading somewhere. I don't think that the where will emerge by random choices, or else, it is both - a mysterious connection between the questions we're asking and the plan we fulfill as mankind.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 07:29:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"If we want him to explain the world to us"

somewhere was said that the world is an illusion...

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 01:23:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
somewhere was said that the world is an illusion...

Somewhere it was said that religions explain the world to us (what is) and how to act.

The world as being an illusion or a passing reality is one possible explanation for what it is.

"The world" could be a planet with living and forever dying things on it like weather that is unless it isn't.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 05:53:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By now I find the question "Is there God?" profoundly uninteresting. Much more important are probably psychological side effects of faith. Firstly, believers get a fertile perspective for their behaviour, either every day or in live skope. They know what to do right, and that gives them confidence, certain optimism, and many other positive feelings. Rituals and prayer or meditation gives them frequent time for focusing on their own needs, wishes, and goals, in a real sense. That is all what modern motivationists recommend.
by das monde on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:39:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would just add that faith has nothing to do with god (or the gods, if you don't mind). Life requires faith.

Faith in something is what makes people get out of bed in the morning. You have faith that standing up is, in some way, better than continuing lying down. But you are not totally certain...

Everybody has bazillions of faiths. If it is tied to the existence of a dog is just a minor question (though it is a fast way to transmit "moral values", no doubt).

I personally have a keen dislike for monotheistic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Marxism, Scientism, most Atheisms, ...) as they are mostly unnatural. In my view nature is highly plural and diverse where everything is pursuing different objectives (not necessarily antagonistic). The idea of a single truth, a single path, a single dog is a natural aberration.

It is not by chance that democracy was invented by polytheists: it is just a good way to deal with natural plurality. Monotheisms (e.g. communism) are only democratic if religious values (e.g. proselytising militants) are cuffed and watched.

by t-------------- on Tue Nov 2nd, 2010 at 09:43:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're addressing two 'sensitive' issues, the long-standing one inhowfar ideology can be described as a religion vice versa and the other one, whether faith, in principle, depends on a god, or else, what does it depend upon, what is its very nature?
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 2nd, 2010 at 10:18:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Haym Maccoby had given me a clue when we sat together, six years earlier, eating egg-and-tomato sandwiches in the little cafe near Finchley Central tube station.  He had told me that in most traditions, faith was not about belief but about practice.  Religion is not about accepting twenty impossible propositions before breakfast, but about doing things that change you.  It is a moral aesthetic, an ethical alchemy.  If you behave in a certain way, you will be transformed.  The myths and laws of religion are not true because they conform to some metaphysical, scientific, or historical reality but because they are life enhancing.  They tell you how human nature functions, but you will not discover their truth unless you apply these myths and doctrines to your onw life and put them into practice.  The myths of the hero, for example, are not meant to give us historical information about Prometheus or Achilles -- or for that matter, about Jesus or the Buddha.  Their purpose is to compel us to act in such a way that we bring out our own heroic potential.

In the course of my studies, I have discovered that the religious quest is not about discovering"the truth" or "the meaning of life" but about living as intensely as possible here and now.  The idea is not to latch on to some superhuman personality or to "get to heaven" but to discover how to be fully human -- hence the images of the perfect or enlightened man, or deified human being.  Archetypal figures such as Muhammed, the Buddha, and Jesus become icons of fulfilled humanity.  God or Nirvana is not an optional extra, tacked on to our human nature.  Men and women have a potential for the divine, and are not complete unless they realize it within themselves.  A passing Brahman priest once asked the Buddha whether he was a god, a spirit, or an angel.  None of these, the Buddha replied; "I am awake!"  By activating a capacity that lay dormant in undeveloped men and women, he seemed to belong to a new species.  In the past, my own practice of religion had diminished me, whereas true faith, I now believe, should make you more human than before."

The citation (from Karen Armstrong's book The Spiral Staircase:  My Climb Out of Darkness) is ripped from this Daily Kos diary.
by das monde on Wed Nov 3rd, 2010 at 09:12:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What if human psychology is geared to believe something, and rarely functions successfully if those belief brain areas are not "satisfied"?

That has been the essence of my explanation for the popularity of supernatural thriller movies, such as Rosemary's Baby, The Omen, The Excorcist, etc. ad nauseum. People went to church and religious school and had the bejebeers scared out of them over and over with stories of The Devil and the Fires of Hell, reinforced by Fire and Brimstone sermons. This created brain hardware that they retained after leaving school. Those types of movies are software that can run on that hardware later in their lives, when the manipulations mostly involve purchasing movie tickets and consumer goods vs. abstaining from sex.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:46:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I assume that everyone will find himself somewhere in this list.

I don't see a bin for polytheists and pantheists without a personal God, the first two categories are at least mis-stated; and you never define "spirituality", so those not subscribing to the concept a priori have no subject offered to debate.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 05:31:04 AM EST
Thank you, DoDo. The polytheists and pantheists escaped my attention. I only cited views expressed in the previous debate.

Spirituality = The quality or state of being spiritual; incorporeality; heavenly-mindedness.

Do you complain that not subscribing to a concept of 'spiritual' excludes you from the debate about 'spirituality'? Well --

You can still outline why you don't subscribe to this concept. It has been my intention to explain my understanding of it, presuming its existence.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 05:56:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that if you don't already subscribe to the concept then words like heavenly-mindedness and spiritual don't really mean anything.
by generic on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 08:37:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I cannot think of a rational solution to this problem.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 08:41:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By definition, you've excluded the simplest and most satisfying mode of thought, by insisting there's something that can be proven (with all that using the term "proof" implies).

Suppose we've just evolved such that our successful social cooperation included blind belief. No amount of wishful thinking can make gods exist, and no amount of rationalizing by others will make us stop if we're inclined to blind faith.

So the human genome develops, and we sometimes come out believers, and sometimes not, sometimes early and sometimes later for belief or reason.

But no individual's opinion, or institution's pressure ever proves anything about it, and it's conceit for believers AND agnostics to tout their opinions as superior, because rationality has its uses, and belief has its uses, but they're USES, not truths.

Annoying to both faithists and evidentists. Sorry.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:04:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no individual's opinion, or institution's pressure ever proves anything about it, and it's conceit for believers AND agnostics to tout their opinions as superior, because rationality has its uses, and belief has its uses, but they're USES, not truths.

"Proof" is a Big Word, I agree.

You think of scientific proof, though, and I think of spiritual proof, though proof might by definition be scientific, and scientific only.

Say, someone heals from a deadly disease against all scientific expectations. Some will speak of a miracle and others who have no explanation will call it "spontaneous remission". Some will understand it as a phenomenon that at this point hasn't been studied well enough, and others will see in it proof of a spiritual dimension that impacts our lives in significant ways.

Further, you may tell me that claiming there is a god, the burden of proof is on me, and I fight hard to deliver it. But no. This case is different.

I am presenting to you my invisible client, telling you that he exists. As his defence lawyer, I'm in charge of providing evidence that will prove his existence.

Of course, my client could be a guy who has convinced me of his innocence. Then, the prosecutor puts the murder weapon with the fingerprints of the accused on the table. - In that case, I am The Fool.

Now, the case at hand is entirely different. I know where you can get the evidence but I cannot bring it to you. You have to go out and get it and accept my client's terms and conditions. Kind of bold of him, right. If you don't go, there will be no proof and we can hang out in the court room forever.
Since my "client" isn't any ordinary mortal but the living holy God himself, I don't feel in charge of delivering the proof since I cannot get it to you.

The evidence involves your own wanting and a rationally and spiritually open mind.

I'm presenting my case but eventually, we'll walk out of this 'court room' and the case remains unsolved.

As to why I'm confronting you with a case with no solution in sight to begin with, I would like to answer with a beautiful text by A. de Saint-Exupéry that I only have in German and cannot find an English translation anywhere. So, I limit the quote to these last lines,

"And if you're asking me, 'Shall I wake that one there or let him sleep happily', I would reply that I know nothing about happiness. But would you let your friend sleep if there were beautiful Northern lights on the night sky? Nobody may sleep when he can see them for the first time. And, sure enough, the other one loves to sleep and ~wallows languorously(?) in it; you, however, snatch him away from his slumber so that he may Become."
 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 05:47:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If this "Truth" that you keep talking about is universal, and thus independent of culture, then one would expect - as proof - that a belief in your "Truth" could arise spontaneously in any culture. It doesn't.

By and large 'christian believers' arise in christian cultures, 'shinto believers' in shinto cultures and so on. The "Truth" you talk about is culturally imposed, not revealed. Belief is behavioural.

I do not deny that an individual desire to find some kind of 'explanation' for personal existence might be universal, like the need for food or the need to sleep. But looking for "Truth" as an explanation is not the same as finding it.

The elephant in the temple is anthropocentrism.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 06:26:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
belief in your "Truth" could arise spontaneously in any culture. It doesn't.
By and large 'christian believers' arise in christian cultures, 'shinto believers' in shinto cultures and so on.

Two things, you are right, "my" "Truth" doesn't arise spontaneously in any culture.  My diary lacks precision with regards to that point. `Factual' knowledge of God (holy books...) And the spiritual experience go together.  Second, there exists wide-spread Christian missionary work that I know hardly anything about because I'm not so much interested in numbers and statistics. I know e.g. that there's a huge demand for Bibles in China... Someone else may be better able to say more about it.

The "Truth" you talk about is culturally imposed, not revealed. Belief is behavioural.

Religion is mostly culturally imposed. Religion presents the truth from the outside, e.g. through Scripture that is manifested in dogma; it also explains religion as a historical process but the Truth experience is rather transcendental, personal, from the inside out.

Or, as sacraments are often described as an outward sign of an inner truth.

Or, to pick up the water analogy I've used in `part 2' of my diary to explain spirituality, religion concerns itself with water safety and swimming classes, but your swimming doesn't depend on the religion. - You can experience water anywhere, anyhow. If you get eaten up by a shark, you'll have experienced truth that's not from God (or those watching...); if someone pushes you into deep waters and you cannot swim, same thing.

People who swim comfortably in safe waters, are `in truth'. This means that I believe that the Buddhist also bathes in Truth - though it's incomplete and dangerous in certain ways. I don't say that Christian knowledge would be complete. You'll find a very deep spirituality in e.g. Buddhism or Hinduism that is mostly recognised in medicine and that every Christian can learn from.

The crux is that from what I have seen, learnt and come across, Christianity alone explains our whole ordeal from A to Z in a coherent way that makes sense, even if it's deficient in some, eventually non-essential areas.

looking for "Truth" as an explanation is not the same as finding it.

Looking for Truth describes an attitude of sincerity and honesty. There's a correlation between finding truth and being honest. In that sense, as we seek, we find.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 09:47:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure of how other religions look at the three big  monotheistic ones (probably with indifference), but things are quite clear the other way around: there is one genuine god (en l'occurence the same for the three), all the others are worshipping false gods (or spiritual beings pretending to be a god).
Aspiration to universality, is this called, in any case there is no misunderstanding, Truth-wise. And no contradiction either - call it epistemological compatibility if you will.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 09:47:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there is one genuine god (en l'occurence the same for the three), all the others are worshipping false gods

<ouch>

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 10:24:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a bit like, an adult tells a child, you'll understand this when you'll grow up.

some things can only be known upon changing yourself... words alone don't suffice to express them

sometimes science, and sheer cold rationality become a pretext for refusing to grow up

but apply this to human relationships, all the analogy is in there

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 10:04:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meanwhile, I have given two replies (more less, one more to the point in my view), further down the thread.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 05:06:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Spirituality' is only a word. It would be useful for participants here to explain in detail what they mean by that word.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 08:42:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spirituality means

-    what you feel although you cannot see it
-    what impacts reality although you cannot see it
-    to speak to God and experience his presence
-    to pray to God and understand the answer
-    the feeling of being guided by an invisible hand and to trust this guidance
-    to intuitively know what you have to do
-    to intuitively know what's right, what's wrong
-    to feel courage despite of being afraid
-    to feel a love bond with other people
-    to understand the deep meaning of insignificant details
-    to believe in the presence of invisible beings (good and bad)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 09:04:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like spirituality means the act of believing that something is right even if there is no objective reason to do so (or not to do so).

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:44:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In this context spirituality means 'My morals are divinely gifted and beyond the reach of mere reason.'

Unfortunately these divinely gifted morals seem to vary quite a bit from person to person.

Sometimes they vary from moment to moment in the same person.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 12:31:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for your criticism.

I have been thinking about this a bit more, and you are right. My explanation is flawed.

There's 'good' and 'bad' spiritual, spiritual from God and evil spiritual.

The spiritual that comes from God is inspired by the Holy Spirit. If/since this is so, it doesn't go against the Ten Commandments since 'a law is written on our hearts' through the Holy Spirit which is in line with the Ten Commandments and reaches beyond the letter word. Sometimes it also against the Ten Commandments, eg when stealing a loaf of bread means saving a life.

What struck me when I was thinking about this, has been that everyone here I believe will agree that we don't necessarily need to have faith in order to do good deeds and be good humanitarians. We do not kill other people, try not to steal etc. To not lie can be difficult sometimes but everyone will try. The key difference sticks out: It's the first, the 'One-God-Only-commandment'.

It's this difference that brings 'fire' into every debate about Church or religion...
 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 03:11:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What brings "fire into the debate" (and airliners into skyscrapers) is an incomplete understanding of people, which CAN be done, by people who instead spend their time building fairy castles of "pretty lies" about spirituality.

Lily, give it up. Please yourself, but don't think you're sophisticated in any way at expressing some universal truths about faith, god, religion or belief.

Spend some time in evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, and governance theory.

Belief seems accidentally evolved, institutional religion is power.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:16:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The key difference sticks out: It's the first, the 'One-God-Only-commandment'.

Actually, that would be the first five or so commandments. From memory:

  1. Thou shall not subscribe to competing religions.

  2. Thou shall not make graven images.

  3. Thou shall not use the name of thine deity in vain.

  4. Thou shall obey thine elders.

  5. Thou shall observe the holy days.

  6. Thou shall not murder.

  7. Thou shall not steal.

  8. Thou shall not fuck around behind thy spouse's back.

  9. Thou shall not bear false witness.

  10. Thou shall not covet thine neighbour's stuff.

Of the ten, #1, 2, 3 and 5 are irrelevant to those who do not subscribe to your religion, #6, 7, 8 and 9 are pretty good, #4 is only really valid with the conditional "but only if they aren't a total waste of space." And #10 is only really valid with the conditional "unless he's a profiteering fatcat."

So call it four and two halves. Or five out of ten if we're being generous.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:19:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From memory:

Chapeau!!!

# 1: "Thou shall not subscribe to competing religions" - rather, 'I AM the Lord your God.'

# 1, 2, 3 and 5 those relevant who subscribe to "my" "relgion", right.

# 4 is taken Very seriously by the French youth these days (just as an aside...)

# 10 - lol.

So call it four and two halves. Or five out of ten if we're being generous."

Right.

Meaning? - God claims space for himself in our lives. Or, that Moses made it all up.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 05:03:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meaning that when you say that the key point of difference between the Ten Commandments and progressive ethics is the first one... well, you're understating the case somewhat.

This is a pet peeve of mine. A lot of people will remember the half of the text that are more or less universally applicable to any sedentary society, and forget the other half. Which opens them to a bait-and-switch, in which the Ten Commandments are posited as a moral authority and accepted based on the half that is applicable to any moral authority worth its name, and the other half is just brought along for the ride.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:23:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Don't do to someone else what you wouldn't want them to do to you'

...as the rabbi said, 'Everything else is commentary'.

Personally I'd add another, and that is a positive, rather than a negative commandment

'Strive for Excellence'.

I try and live my life by these, but it's nothing to do with religion - I see these as bases of my personal values.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 06:54:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well some of these rules come from apparent mistranslations of  the original texts as theyve translated between languages. It is thought that the original of  the 7th rule you have there would be better translated as thou shalt not Kidnap. Then because that one had been mistranslated, the  final one looked like a repetition, so was translated as a thought crime rather than a more direct prohibition of theft. (And the number of commandments is variously described as between ten and 14)

Oh and number one has to be a misunderstanding, it dosn't say there are no other gods, it dosn't say you won't worship other gods, it just says you will worship  that god first.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:20:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, "Put no Gods before Him". Any number can go after, presumably, and did, according to scriptural references and archeology. After all, at the time of Moses, Yahweh was the Hebrew War God. People needed more than just a War God. But A Golden Calf was much too concrete. "Make no graven images."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:03:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After all, at the time of Moses, Yahweh was the Hebrew War God.

A reference or citation would be most useful on this one...

by Lynch on Wed Nov 3rd, 2010 at 04:50:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a link to a very good (IMO) lecture series about (Orthodox) Christian basics. Some clips are about Orthodox specifics (eg the one about 'closed communion'); otherwise the explanations are very clear about essentials that all Christians will subscribe to (in some form) -

http://www.youtube.com/user/PresbyterGeorge#p/u/1/P6UO0W00_A4

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 03:33:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's so special about Christians? Who cares? There are just as many other religious (nuts) out there.

I'm kinda losing my patience...

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:19:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's so special about Christians?

Nothing.

The understanding of what reality is, is different for them.

Otherwise - nothing. :)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:48:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm kinda losing my patience...

As in... you are patiently waiting for? Godo?

by Lynch on Wed Nov 3rd, 2010 at 04:52:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All participants in the debate, believers or non-believers appeared to have a Judeo-Christian cultural background.

We've been over this point before. There's no such thing as a "Judeo-Christian background," any more than there is a "Christian-Islamic backgroun." The word you're looking for is either "Christian," if you wish to exclude Judaism and Islam, or "monotheist," if you wish to include them. "Judeo-Christian" is a piece of newspeak that really has no theological, cultural or historical justification.

As to faith in general, it occurred to me that it is very much like love.

Having previously made that analogy myself, I'll re-iterate the salient points of my comparison:

Love is a state of mind, not a statement about the external physical reality. It only has to be true for one person to be said to exist. Deities, on the other hand, are typically statements about physical reality. Which means that they have to be true for everyone.

It is similar to faith: If you have faith, then faith must exist as a state of mind. This does not imply that the object of your faith actually exists. Similarly, one could imagine, for instance, that a person frequenting an internet site could fall in love with a wholly fictional persona created by another user of the site. The love, being a state of mind, would be no less real for the fact that the object of the love did not, in fact, exist.

Now, if you are fine with reducing your deity of choice to a purely personal and subjective experience that does not necessarily have any more applicability to my life than my love has to your life, then I have no particular quarrel with your god. But if you make arguments that rely on your god as their premise, then I will feel free to point out that those arguments are inapplicable to anybody who happens to not agree with your personal, subjective faith.

There was the question of whether knowledge of this reality would be useful in any way. We can e.g. ask for full employment and new resources but awareness of true reality may teach us that our world isn't made to last. Life as we know it is just a transitional stage, real, yet passing, and it is part of a larger plan, and we may find consolation therein.

This is a cop-out. That attitude will not give food to those who are hungry and unfed, or warmth to those who are cold and unclothed.

If this narrative is offered as a point of consolation for those who are unfed and unclothed, then its value is at least debatable - it may provide some intangible comfort, but it may also provide a narrative that promotes inaction where action is possible. For the affluent, well-fed, well-clothed, well-housed people who have access to the full productive power of the modern industrial state, however, a narrative of inaction is an inexcusable abrogation of our duty to use our privileged position to improve the human condition.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 07:38:04 AM EST
There's no such thing as a "Judeo-Christian background,"

I followed that debate but didn't think of it when I was writing the above. I don't think "monotheistic" would do as an alternative. I could have said, we've been mostly exposed to Western (North-American and European) culture.

Judeo-Christian gives credit to Christianity's roots in Judaism which was mentioned before, as well.

I have replied to the middle part of your comment in Part 2 of this diary (which was inspired by your above comment).

This is a cop-out. That attitude will not give food to those who are hungry and unfed, or warmth to those who are cold and unclothed.

No, no. This 'attitude' frees you from feeling responsible for all the ills in this world. It is only one aspect of a Christian outlook.
I haven't elaborated on the Christian way of life, on laws and ethics etc. I have so far only described what is, not how we should act (could be Part 3...).

a narrative of inaction is an inexcusable abrogation of our duty to use our privileged position to improve the human condition.

There's no narrative of inaction.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 08:10:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no. This 'attitude' frees you from feeling responsible for all the ills in this world. It is only one aspect of a Christian outlook.

But to a certain extent you are responsible. You are a citizen of a powerful state, a state that has it well within its means to either support or obstruct the improvement of the human condition. At the moment, most if not all Western states are, on balance, obstructing improvement of the human condition. Being a citizen of a reasonably democratic state means being, on some level and to some extent, responsible for its actions and its inaction.

In previous eras, where most of the ills that befell humanity - drought, epidemics, accidents, etc. - were external to human society (and those ills that were rooted in society - war and other sorts of banditry, chiefly - were far beyond the influence of most people), it made sense to relieve humans of responsibility for them. Blaming yourself for ills that you are powerless to change is folly. However, in the current day and age, most of the ills that befall humanity - war, hunger, deprivation and so on - are caused by the action or neglect of human societies in whose governance you and I have a say.

So what is needed today is not an ideology that helps us to ignore what we cannot change, for very few things are truly beyond our ability to change. What is needed today is an ideology that spurs us to grasp the tools we have with both hands and make change happen for the better.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:02:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd agree with the goals, but we don't need no more steenking ideologies!

How about education, understanding, empathy, civic understanding?

No gods needed, especially when "god people" press for big families, riches, and conversions of all of us.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:31:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You say, "no gods needed" because you have identified the problems and know the solution. Good luck!
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:44:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We do know the solution, at least on a purely technical level. So inasmuch as we humans can get our political shit together, we don't need any god to radically improve the human condition. The problem is that too many people have a vested interest in the solution not happening. And just shooting them rarely leads to the sort of results we want.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 2nd, 2010 at 10:29:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which can be summed up as, "we know of a solution that doesn't work" which in turn translates as, "we don't have a solution".

C'est bien logique, non?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 2nd, 2010 at 10:36:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're wasting your effort. Even if we do get our political shit together, God will get the credit, not us. Or, as Mark Twain memorably put it:
The hookworm was discovered two or three years ago by a physician, who had been patiently studying its victims for a long time. The disease induced by the hookworm had been doing its evil work here and there in the earth ever since Shem landed on Ararat, but it was never suspected to be a disease at all. The people who had it were merely supposed to be lazy, and were therefore despised and made fun of, when they should have been pitied. The hookworm is a peculiarly sneaking and underhanded invention, and has done its surreptitious work unmolested for ages; but that physician and his helpers will exterminate it now.

God is back of this. He has been thinking about it for six thousand years, and making up his mind. The idea of exterminating the hookworm was his. He came very near doing it before Dr. Charles Wardell Stiles did. But he is in time to get the credit of it. He always is.

It is going to cost a million dollars. He was probably just in the act of contributing that sum when a man pushed in ahead of him -- as usual. Mr. Rockefeller. He furnishes the million, but the credit will go elsewhere -- as usual.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Nov 2nd, 2010 at 11:50:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You said (I'm paraphrasing you) that you were less interested in what is real than in the usefulness of the things you find.

If you find a narrative that will lead to inaction and not feed the hungry, you don't want it. Good.
If you want to be encouraged to do good deeds till the last day, then you'll find it in the Christian narrative.

What you won't find is a way out -. There is an end to it all. We will die and life on Earth as we know it will not remain forever, either.
If you want to feed the hungry, do so now, knowing that the hunger will end, not because there will be more food but because hunger will be no more.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 08:39:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why does one need to be 'encouraged' to do good deeds in the first place? If you want to do good deeds till the last day, just go do it. Being a Christian, or not being a Christian, has little or nothing to do with a person deciding to exhibit acts of kindness toward others.
by sgr2 on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 10:16:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was replying to JakeS' concern that reality would only matter if it was "useful".

I assume that "useful" means to be helped in doing good deeds that one can do with or without faith, in the sense of 'give me food to feed the hungry'. I don't criticize the good intention but tried to direct the attention to the fact that reality is not necessarily shaped according to his idea of it ('we need more raw materials, clothes and food to feed the hungry!' - 'Either God provides, or I don't care...').

Since JakeS pointed out that a bigger idea towards an end would lead to passivity, I emphasised that love of the next is at the heart of Christianity (I put it differently).

The question is, are we 'just' do-gooders because it feels right, and we're compassionate of those who live in misery, or do we also humble ourselves to a God whose project with us or the World may not match our own ideas of them?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:02:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
False dichotomy.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 12:25:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The alignment of culture (what is that? the self? society?) with nature is a good ambition, and it would be perfect with nature were so, or else, if you're at peace with being in harmony with human nature in yourself and with others and with nature, i.e. including depleting resources, natural catastrophes, hunger, wars, suffering and angry people that are also part of "nature".
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:42:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"perfect IF nature were so..."
(I should reread before sending myself. :))
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 05:55:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want to feed the hungry, do so now, knowing that the hunger will end, not because there will be more food but because hunger will be no more.

This is a silly supposition. It is clearly within the power of modern technology to feed every hungry human on the planet. The engineering has been solved. "More food" not only is not impossible, it is already available.

The rest is politics.

If you want to be encouraged to do good deeds till the last day, then you'll find it in the Christian narrative.

That's cute. But I don't do charity. I do politics. Give a man a bread, he's fed for a day. Give a man land reform, and he's fed for a lifetime.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 10:25:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want to feed the hungry, do so now, knowing that the hunger will end, not because there will be more food but because hunger will be no more.
This is a silly supposition. It is clearly within the power of modern technology to feed every hungry human on the planet. The engineering has been solved. "More food" not only is not impossible, it is already available.

The rest is politics.

So you're looking for a political advisor god - IF at all, hmm.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:05:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So are you. The difference is that Jake seems to have higher expectations of what a loving god should be capable of than you do.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 12:32:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Higher expectations" - by human standards, yes.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 03:13:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i'd say jake has more male expectations.

women look for different aspects?

OT, but orthogonal, hopefully...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 04:53:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What in blazes are you talking about?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 02:52:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He perceived, I think, that JakeS being a man might have different expectation of a god than I being a woman. He might expect of God that he wins (political) wars for/with him. And I would 'naturally' have more 'humble'(?) ambitions like peace for the family. This of course is a stereo-typed view but not entirely wrong.

I believe, though, that independent of gender differences, JakeS would wants god to do what he (JakeS) thinks is right and I (try to) trust that god will do what is right for us, by also making my wishes known. In Christian-spiritual-speak this translates as, 'JakeS is proud; Lily tries to be humble'.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:39:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry for the "s"s in the wrong places...
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:40:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He might expect of God that he wins (political) wars for/with him.

No. I just expect that if God has a problem with my political ambitions, she'll tell me to my face. That seems like the honourable and respectful thing to do. And if she doesn't have a problem with my political ambitions, then she should kindly start helping or step out of the way.

Since she appears to have decided to step out of the way, I have no particular quarrel with her. It's the fan club I occasionally butt heads with.

In Christian-spiritual-speak this translates as, 'JakeS is proud; Lily tries to be humble'.

I distinguish between the virtue and the vice of humility.

The first time I accelerated an electron beam to a perceptible fraction of the speed of light, I was humbled by the experience. When I look upon the night sky on a clear night away from the light of the city, I feel humility.

When I look upon the kings and priests that humans have raised up before us... not so much.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:50:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
Since she appears to have decided to step out of the way, I have no particular quarrel with her. It's the fan club I occasionally butt heads with.

amen, lol

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:18:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily interprets...

The first time I accelerated an electron beam to a perceptible fraction of the speed of light, I was humbled by the experience. When I look upon the night sky on a clear night away from the light of the city, I feel humility.

These are beautiful experiences of God.

When I look upon the kings and priests that humans have raised up before us... not so much.

You observe the first commandments.

if God has a problem with my political ambitions, she'll tell me to my face. That seems like the honourable and respectful thing to do. And if she doesn't have a problem with my political ambitions, then she should kindly start helping or step out of the way.

Maybe -- God is pleased with your political ambitions but doesn't "help out" because she (for you :)) has a different agenda that will lead elsewhere. Not helping out is her way of telling you to your face.

She might enlighten you more on where she's headed with you, with us, if you asked.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:30:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She might enlighten you more on where she's headed with you, with us, if you asked.

I just did, didn't I?

If God prefers to keep lurking, she is welcome to avail herself of the e-mail next to my alias, in the bottom of my posts, rather than responding in the thread.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:35:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So are you. The difference is that Jake seems to have higher expectations of what a loving god should be capable of than you do.

Actually, I don't have any expectations of a deity's abilities at all, loving or not, nor any threshold for trivial contributions below which it doesn't count. Any demonstrable action on her part would be something I would take into account.

A one per cent increase in grain harvests may be unimpressive compared to the feats of modern agriculture, but that doesn't mean I won't take it if it comes without fertiliser runoff or pesticides in the drinking water. Similarly, a one percent decline in agricultural output may be well within the ability of modern agriculture to handle, but if we had good evidence that we could make it go away by pledging half a percent of our output as a burnt offering to the offended deity... well, we'd be stupid not to do that.

The kicker is that we don't actually see such effects when we look for them. Ever.

Now, we aren't always looking, and maybe God intervenes in subtle and mysterious ways that elude the best statistical investigations of the brightest bureaucrats and scientists of our age. But that seems like kind of a dick thing to do.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:32:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
maybe God intervenes in subtle and mysterious ways that elude the best statistical investigations of the brightest bureaucrats and scientists of our age.

<sigh>

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:39:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually that's exactly what I meant.

It doesn't matter if god exists if god doesn't do anything useful. Even if you define the odd unexplainable event as a miracle, god doesn't improve the morals of his followers - even if you allow for the original skewed distribution, there are more Christians than atheists in US prisons - and god makes no other useful contribution to the human experience, beyond providing a catch-all dump for the weird fuzzies, vague feelings of moral entitlement, and rather of lot of high level politics we could all do without.

Dogma conveniently tries to pretend that none of this matters because there's an invisible deferred reward, and as mere humans who cannot eff the ineffable we should just believe.

That's an odd definition of 'loving.'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:44:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
even if you allow for the original skewed distribution, there are more Christians than atheists in US prisons

I would be very careful with that statistic. Many American prison wardens seem to be labouring under the impression that people who profess belief in their particular version of Christianity are more deserving of the sort of perks that prison wardens can bestow - including favourable mention in appeals, more leave time, and so on. And even if the vast majority are scrupulously fair, inmates may not want to find out the hard way where their particular warden(s) fall(s) on that spectrum.

Oh, and religious groups are notorious for claiming membership of people who have only the most marginal affiliation. If talking to the prison chaplain is sufficient for being claimed as a member of his flock, then anybody who wants to have a conversation that isn't about crime and punishment and appeals and lawyers will have to either wait for visitation hours or be counted as a Christian.

In fact, I would expect it to be a quite general feature of confined environments with authoritarian power relationships (prisons, military units, boarding schools, etc.) that "invisible" minorities (atheists, homosexuals, political deviants, etc.) would be grossly underreported. The incentives to go along to get along are very strong when you are forced to associate with the same colleagues/inmates for a long time with no appeal, or when the appeal is to authorities who may not view your minority favourably.

tl;dr: Just as there is no particular reason to expect there to be no atheists in the foxholes, there's no particular reason to expect there to be no atheists in prison cells.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:08:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The original stats are here.

I don't agree that you only need to include active - i.e. fervently church-going - Christians in the stats, because that assumes that you only need to include active Christians in comparative census data.

Affiliation is self-reported and I don't see why people in and out of prison would use different criteria.

However you dice it, the percentage of self-reported atheists in prison is at least an order of magnitude smaller than the percentage of self-reported atheists in the population as a whole.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 10:15:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't agree that you only need to include active - i.e. fervently church-going - Christians in the stats, because that assumes that you only need to include active Christians in comparative census data.

You're right. The ability to compare to census data is a strong point in favour of using the same standards as the census bureau.

Affiliation is self-reported and I don't see why people in and out of prison would use different criteria.

That rather depends on whether the inmates were convinced that their answer would remain anonymous.

However you dice it, the percentage of self-reported atheists in prison is at least an order of magnitude smaller than the percentage of self-reported atheists in the population as a whole.

I'd like to slice it by controlling for some of the obvious confounders, such as social class, parental education level, educational attainment, etc. It's known that these are anti-correlated to convictions and correlated to self-reporting as a member of an otherwise invisible minority. That could be because atheists (and homosexuals and syndicalists and so on) are more skilled, better educated and more morally upstanding... or it could be because upper-middle class educated people are less likely to be convicted for their crimes and more likely to be granted enough power over their own lives to make it safe to admit to being a member of a politically disfavoured minority.

Overcoming an order of magnitude is going to be non-trivial. But given how rigidly classist American society is... well, let's just say that it may not be impossible. Now, I would not be terribly surprised if there were an effect that persisted even after we stripped out the socio-economic confounders. But it would not be a full order of magnitude.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:01:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Faith in God/Christ is not equal to having faith in other Christians or in a religious institution.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:21:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except when it does.

Look - it's clear that like every other Christian on the planet, your faith means exactly what you want it to mean. No more, and no less.

This is not unusual. It's so not unusual it's absolutely standard practice.

Anecdote time - I once turned a Christian chat room into a nuclear war by asking everyone what they agreed on.

It turned out that they didn't agree on anything at all. There was no single piece of morality or dogma that all of these so-called monotheistic Christians held in common - not abortion, not the divinely inspired nature of the bible, not the meaning of the life of Jesus.

None of it was shared.

More than that, they disagreed so violently that the discussion turned very nasty very quickly. It was no-true-Scotsman with infinite degrees of freedom and a subtext of 'If you don't agree you're the one going to hell.'

So - that's Christianity for you. You all believe in different contradictory things, and you think that just because you use the same words to describe them, the rest of us aren't going to notice.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 10:27:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anecdote time - I once turned a Christian chat room into a nuclear war by asking everyone what they agreed on.

Isn't there a Geneva convention forbidding that?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 11:02:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Look - it's clear that like every other Christian on the planet, your faith means exactly what you want it to mean. No more, and no less.
This is not unusual. It's so not unusual it's absolutely standard practice.

This is your perception, apparently. And, of course, it's quite easy for me to hide my personal Christian bias because there aren't dozens of other Christians around to tell me why exactly I'm doomed.

We, everybody, Christians or not, need the honest friction and disagreement. I love to be criticized, and I know how very hard and liberating it can be to let go of a conviction that I considered essential.

You address a larger problem. Old Testament law was a Law that had to be observed by the letter, and every effort was made to either observe the law or find ways around it or to correct errors through offering sacrifices.

The New Law sets us free. It acknowledges that we are unable to be without sin. We know the Ten Commandments but with the Holy Spirit in our hearts and love for God, ourselves and our next, we should observe them without a problem.

Here's the new problem: We have a New Law and continue to apply the old rules. We are afraid of judgment, we are afraid of hell. We make mistakes, we lie but we're afraid to admit them.  So, we (Christians) entangle ourselves in a net of trying-to-be-holiness, making ourselves believe nobody would notice... ouch!

We need a pure heart, meaning we need to be honest in order for the Holy Spirit to be with us.

Christians are often raised with a load of behavioural and moral rules and the feeling that if they aren't observed, judgment (by other people), punishment (by parents, teachers..) and eventually hell will follow. You will find that mostly in Catholics and the American Religious Right.

Liberal Protestants have a different problem. They often lack guideposts and limits. Since everything's allowed, they cannot be wrong on anything. Everything is always relative and a matter of interpretation.

The former cannot be honest because they're too afraid; the latter aren't true because there really isn't any such thing as objective truth.

However, without truth - no Holy Spirit... and we cut ourselves off from God. And, sure enough, everyone around is going to notice.

Anecdote time - I once turned a Christian chat room into a nuclear war by asking everyone what they agreed on.
It turned out that they didn't agree on anything at all.

s.a. - and I may add, that the conscience of Christians is often `sharpened' in a way that certain moral questions are really matters of life and death. If you cut your opponent's opinion some slack, it will immediately endanger your own integrity, your life-saving convictions and values...

That's why such thing happens,

they disagreed so violently that the discussion turned very nasty very quickly. It was no-true-Scotsman with infinite degrees of freedom and a subtext of 'If you don't agree you're the one going to hell.'

---------

So - that's Christianity for you. You all believe in different contradictory things, and you think that just because you use the same words to describe them, the rest of us aren't going to notice.

That's not Christianity for me. ;-)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 12:11:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
god doesn't improve the morals of his followers

bad apples do their dirty work better in barrels of good fruit.

most religious people actually do reinforce their consciences with their beliefs, (without making a fuss about it), the problems occur when their religion is bad religion, and teaches them to think and act in stupid, retrogressive ways. that majority of people whose religion is innocent of such hateful balderdash, and whose prayers are more likely to be ones about fertility or rain than hating arabs or jews or xtians or anyone else just don't make it onto the tv and front pages...

god, even the idea of god is so powerful it can turbo anything. good religion should teach us to harness that power for the good of all. some of it used to, or pretends to, but precious little keeps it simple, because the more you can mystify something, the more bells and whistles you can dangle off it, the more chance to wield power of an unsalubrious variety.

this is a journey to the heart of darkness, and an abuse of energy.

it happens... a manifestation of wrong thinking. someone got their wires crossed.

your point about prisons, whooosh!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:43:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
If this narrative is offered as a point of consolation for those who are unfed and unclothed, then its value is at least debatable - it may provide some intangible comfort, but it may also provide a narrative that promotes inaction where action is possible.

As Joe Hill put it:

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 09:03:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Judeo-Christian - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The earliest uses cited by the Oxford English Dictionary of the terms "Judeo-Christian" and "Judeo-Christianity" date to 1899 and 1910 respectively. Both terms appeared in discussions of theories of the emergence of Christianity, and with a different sense than the one common today. "Judeo-Christianity" here referred to the early Christian church, whose members were Jewish converts and still considered themselves part of the Jewish community.[2]

However, earlier German use of the term "Judeo-Christian" - in a decidedly negative sense, contrasting with the one prevalent in the twentieth century - can be found in the late writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, who emphasized what he saw as neglected aspects of continuity between the Jewish world view and that of Christianity. The expression appears in The Antichrist, published in 1895 and written several years earlier; a fuller development of Nietzsche's argument can be found in a prior work, On the Genealogy of Morality.

The present meaning was for the first time used on 27 July 1939 with the phrase "The Judaeo-Christian scheme of morals" in the New English Weekly.[3] The term gained much greater currency particularly in the political sphere from the 1920s and 1930s, promoted by liberal groups which evolved into the National Conference of Christians and Jews, to fight antisemitism by expressing a more inclusive idea of the United States of America than the previously dominant rhetoric of the nation as a specifically Christian Protestant country.;[4][5] By 1952 President-Elect Dwight Eisenhower was speaking of the "Judeo-Christian concept" being the "deeply religious faith" on which "our sense of government... is founded".[6]



We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:09:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, I meant this to be a reply to JakeS's comment above.

JakeS:

We've been over this point before. There's no such thing as a "Judeo-Christian background," any more than there is a "Christian-Islamic backgroun." The word you're looking for is either "Christian," if you wish to exclude Judaism and Islam, or "monotheist," if you wish to include them. "Judeo-Christian" is a piece of newspeak that really has no theological, cultural or historical justification.

There is most definitely such a thing as a Judeo-Christian background, a common cultural and historic thread that links Judaism and Christianity.  There is also most definitely a very newspeakian redefinition that has emerged in the last decade or so.  Like so many other concepts related to our common cultural and moral values, the term has been co-opted by the Religious Right.

We all bleed the same color.

by budr on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:21:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a lot of newspeak going on among Atheists in general.

I am a rational Christian, and nobody can take that away from me. I come from a tradition of enlightened, rational followers of Christ.

My faith is rational, It is based on what I call experience and rational reflection on that. Of course there are assumptions, but Goedel teaches us, that there are always assumptions and agreement somewhere.

My assumptions and agreements, that I share in my practiced religion every hour of the day with some other people on this planet are not shared by everyone - fair enough. That however does not make it irrational.

Btw. it is Reformation Day today. Do you know, what started the reformation? The attempt of a rational discussion of thesis at a University.

by PeWi on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 12:41:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am a rational Christian, and nobody can take that away from me. I come from a tradition of enlightened, rational followers of Christ.

My faith is rational, It is based on what I call experience and rational reflection on that.

Our faith is as rational as God's habit to do miracles is natural.

The acknowledgement of a spiritual realm is not irrational. It's rather 'super-rational', as I've read somewhere. Hence, this diary's title should be 'The super-rational Absolute'.

Thank you for reminding me of that.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 03:45:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup, super-rational. Sounds great, therefore needs no definition.

This is just word games, to avoid recognition that there is no definition possible, thus no agreement.

We don't need to agree, because it's just personal taste, like chocolate or coffee or Limburger cheese.

Morality is built in, and we feed the dog we want to be stronger.

Culture determines morality constructs culture. No gods needed.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 12:35:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No gods needed

There's no need to fabricate gods that don't exist. I agree.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:29:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Further to that. This discussion detailed in the wikipedia article also enables the current Pope to say:  `To be anti-Semitic is to be anti-Christian'. Where would that come from, but not from the recognition of a shared past.

I first heard that quoted by Rabbi David Rosen. When he explained to me, why he still trusts the current Pope to still be moderate despite everything.

The problem is, that there is an Inner-Christian, Inner-Semitic, Inner-Religious Dialogue going on, where, if words are being taken out of that context are often being (deliberately?) misunderstood. The reality of reconciliation is a long hard slog. (Ongoing, but easily derailed, but those that gain more from dissent than peace)

by PeWi on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 12:53:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which means that, for most of its history, probably until Vatican II, the Church was anti-Christian. So that modern society should be described as a Judeo-anti-Christian civilization. You can't redefine what a term means now, and continue to use the old meaning for the past. At least one can be anti-Christian without being anti-Jewish, or the Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem would be anti-Jewish.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 01:03:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a realisation and a recognition of the history of the faith. Yes, to some extent you could read it as Christianity being Anti-Christian, but that is of course a negative reading of the statement. I prefer the positive (and how I think) intended reading of the statement. Which afteral, also needs to be seen in the context of the Holocaust and the Pope's attitude towards that.

All comparisons and metaphors hobble (as we say in German). and you pointed at the short leg. But they have to be seen in their sociological, historical, philosophical context, and not necessarily been seen literal!

Modern Christian Theologian now broadly agree that Jesus has to be seen foremost as a Jew. That recognition and agreement is indeed very recent (last 25 years maybe) This statement alone is very peculiar, but it does show that the justification and thought processes of what is seen as mainstream theological thinking is changing all the time as well.

Btw. It was also interesting and to hear Rabbi Rosen say, that the reflection on Christianity from the side's of the Jew only happened after the contact with Islam. Until then Christians were seen simply as a jewish sect. As indeed there are Jews alive today that have met the Messiah....

by PeWi on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 01:32:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's two parts which I would like to separate: the Pope's statement, and the person making it.  As for the first part if Christianity is really moving to this viewpoint, I can only welcome it, but I would resist the implied rewriting of history that seems to follow.

But as for the Pope who is making the statement, I tend to distrust his sincerity. If being ant-Jewish was really anti-Christian, where are all the excommunications of antisemites? Instead, they excommunicate the mother of a 9-year old rape victim for arranging an abortion for her daughter. I'm afraid the contrast makes all too clear where Ratzinger's priorities lie.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 02:06:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I cannot defend the pope. I am not catholic, so i don't have to either.

I met the Rabbi at a speech he gave jointly with and Professor John Pawlikowski. (this is not the talk I went to, but it was basically the same. (http://glasgowforumoffaiths.org.uk/2010/10/04/%e2%80%98recent-developments-and-new-challenges-in-the -christian-jewish-dialogue%e2%80%99/
I noted that in both their talks about interfaith dialogue, they had praised John Paul the II repeatedly, but neither had mentioned the current one.
It was in that context that Rabbi Rosen used that quote to describe his understanding of Pope Benedict's attitude towards Judaism. Neither defended the Pope in his decision, moreover, there was criticism of the Pope's behaviour with regards to any of the matters you touch on. They saw it as miscommunication and BAD advice. However on a personal level they did not belief, that Benedict was antisemitic.

They drew an interesting parallel / distinction between John Paul and Benedict. John Paul grew up among Jews. He had "practical, first hand involvement" from early on in his youth. Benedict never had - as we all know. Benedict attitude towards Jews and Judaism is purely driven by his ratio (and I am using this term very advisedly here).
And because it is a purely rational approach, that quote is so strong and unexpected. It is one thing for someone to say, Antisemitism is bad. But it is quite another to say: If you hit him, you are actually hitting me as well.'And this to be said by the pope.

The other thing I gained by listening to these men discuss inter faith dialogue, was: They still trusted the Pope despite everything. Not just because the other not so glamourous actions speak as well.
Now Rabbi Rosen is of course a politician as well who is careful with words, what he says, and what he does not say. After all he was (at that point) just about to address of Bishops in Rome.http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/senior-rabbi-pope-meet-in-vatican-3836122
So, for the bigger picture (but not on an individual level) those things are of more importance, than the sad consequences of listening to bad advice.
Did they think, it had harmed the Jewish Christian Relationship? Yes, but not so much, that they had to be dropped. More that this was a Inner-Christian problem. (And a big one at that.)

by PeWi on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 03:28:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is most definitely such a thing as a Judeo-Christian background, a common cultural and historic thread that links Judaism and Christianity.

On what basis does this exclude Islam from that tradition? It's not like there's no Islamic influence in our culture (it would be rather hard to create and sustain industrial civilisation without algebra, to take just one fairly obvious example).

If it is on the basis that there is little demographic overlap for most of our history (this is not strictly speaking true, of course, if you consider the various Orthodox churches part of Christianity - they quite frequently had major Islamic minorities within their turfs, and vice versa), then that would suggest the existence of a Judeo-Islamic civilisation as well, on the basis that most of the Middle East was actually markedly more hospitable less hostile to Jews and Judaism than Europe for most of the history of Islam. This obvious conclusion, curiously enough, is rarely stated in so many words.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:15:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On what basis does this exclude Islam from that tradition?

It does not and I do not.  As I have said before, at their root Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are essentially the same religion.

That said, the term Judeo-Christian refers specifically to the historic and cultural line of development that runs from the ancient faith of Abraham through Jesus of Nazareth to the boisterous family of modern religions that we refer to as Christianity.  There is a similar line of development that runs from Abraham through Mohammed to Islam.  And the two lines, not to mention the three (or more, depending on how you want to count them) modern day branches of that one ancient tree, have cross-fertilized and influenced each other all along the way.  To refer to one specific line of development in no way denies, excludes, or diminishes the other.

We all bleed the same color.

by budr on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:24:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And you are absolutely right about the many and profound contributions of Islam to our modern culture.  It was the Islamic world that kept the lamps of learning, of reason and of science, alight when all of Europe went dark.  It saddens me to see those elements of contemporary Islam who seem to want to turn their back on the modern world.  Almost as much as it saddens me to see those in my own country who seem to want to do the same.

We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:46:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On what basis does this exclude Islam from that tradition?

During and before the Eisenhower Presidency, there were sufficiently few Muslims in the USA that they could safely be ignored and prominent Arabs-Americans were likely to be Christians. Jews were another matter and could no longer be ignored.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:19:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know what's missing from this place? Diaries on the anatomy of the unicorn and its habits.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 02:55:07 AM EST
Every circus needs its clown. ;-)
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 05:54:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, we have plenty of those. The unicorn is usually gussied up in fancy language about "dependency ratios" and "tax burdens" and "Laffer curves."

But it's a unicorn alright. And we're doing the autopsy with dreary regularity.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:19:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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