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Let’s talk about God
Posted: 12 April 2011 04:07 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Axegrrl argues on another topic (http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/10180/P45/#124482) that shunning words like “God” will eliminate or minimize confusion. I am opening this topic to argue that exactly the opposite is true: when we eliminate a word that is culturally powerful from our vocabulary, we increase confusion, especially negative confusion about our motives and character.

That the word “God” has many meanings, including non-theistic meanings, should be beyond cavil. For example, the book, “The God of Small Things,” is not about any theistic conception of God. (http://www.enotes.com/god-small-salem/god-small-things; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_of_Small_Things) Similarly, the bitch-goddess success (http://books.google.com/books?id=ACB81ZeNN5sC&pg=PA66&dq=Bitch-Goddess+success&hl=en&ei=cNOkTZWmELKF0QH9qtHkCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Bitch-Goddess success&f=false). “His God is money” (http://books.google.com/books?id=EswjAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA153&dq;=“his+god+is+money”&hl=en&ei=6NOkTcWpHuXo0gHS152HCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=“his god is money”&f=false) means that the person values money above all else, not that he thinks currency created the universe.

We scientific naturalists congratulate ourselves for our erudition but in many respects, we are woefully ignorant of the human condition. “God” refers to a supreme being in this culture but it also refers to whatever people value most, their highest ideal, the repository of all their longing, the source of life or values, etc. If we don’t get that, then we don’t get the driving forces behind people’s conceptions of God. And since we don’t buy the formal conception of God as the supreme, conscious creator of all things, we have no way to reach into these ideas except by getting at the other things that God is about. Denying ourselves that opportunity is jaw-droppingly, maddeningly foolish and self-defeating.

Look carefully at the debilitating contradiction. On the one hand, we decline to believe that a supreme being exists but the on other hand, we insist on conceptualizing God only as a supreme being. I can’t use language strong enough to express how patently ridiculous and self-defeating that is. “People think that ‘God’ means an imaginary creator of all things, therefore I refuse to use that word.” The very reason to use the word is to drive home the point that not everyone conceives of God in that way, and that other conceptions of the highest ideal or highest object of desire are possible.

Of course, the penultimate sentence in the preceding paragraph creates cognitive dissonance in its very uttering. Because so many of us can only conceptualize God as the theists do, the very utterance of the word immediately brings to mind the theistic conception of God. So we have the tail wagging the dog. No wonder we can’t think straight about this issue: we can’t see past our mental associations with the word.

Equally or more important, we seem inclined to ignore the many non-theistic mental associations that non-secularists have with the word and idea of God. When we ignore the very thing that makes it possible for us to communicate with them, then we cannot communicate with them.

And that’s not the worst of it. When we act like that – refusing to use the word “God” – we send not only the formal message of our words, literally interpreted; we also send the messages conveyed by the emotional tone of our communication. To many people, we seem like angry people who reject everything. Go ahead, tell me that’s not how we are seen. I am saying that the fault lies not entirely with the theists. To be sure, they don’t like our world view but with equal certainty, we are contributing to their mis-perception of us; when we do enough of that, it ceases to be a mis-perception.

So the next time someone tries to argue that using a word like “God” will create confusion and misunderstanding, consider how thoroughly we are being misunderstood by treating it as though it was an infectious disease. Better yet, let’s cut through the emotional overlay that drives our aversion and stop shunning words for reasons that don’t make any sense.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 13 April 2011 12:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I have no idea whether the above post shows up as being about a screen and a half wide for anyone else, but it
means I have to scroll back and forth to read each line.  On a short post, while it’s annoying, I can do it, but not
on as long a post as this one is.  Sorry, PlaClair, but I can’t respond, because I can’t make sense of just the left
two-thirds of each line.

Occam

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Posted: 13 April 2011 01:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It might help if you put the links in a url tag. I don’t know how it works on this forum.

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Posted: 13 April 2011 03:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Looks like we have two technical limitations. I just assumed the site was set up to be readable, and I did try to tag the citations but couldn’t find a way to do it.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 13 April 2011 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Unfortunately for some URL tags the system doesn’t work properly. I’ve had the problem, myself. You could try a URL shortener like bit.ly though. That should work.

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Posted: 13 April 2011 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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This is my working definition of “god” – a projection of human personality by a society onto objects, animals, certain humans, or imaginary beings.  Its purpose is to explain whatever is unknown that comes into contact with a particular society and more importantly to set a group agreed upon of rules for the maintenance of the society involved.

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Gary the Human

All the Gods and all religions are created by humans, to meet human needs and accomplish human ends.

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Posted: 13 April 2011 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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PLaClair - 13 April 2011 03:22 AM

Looks like we have two technical limitations. I just assumed the site was set up to be readable, and I did try to tag the citations but couldn’t find a way to do it.

FYI, I am using Firefox 4 on a PC and a laptop (both Win 7). LaClaire’s post is perfectly fine for me (links work, all is in easy-to-read window).

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Posted: 13 April 2011 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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It looks fine for me as well, but I’m using the same setup as Traveler.

PLaClair, here is a link to an html tutorial site’s page on creating links and hyperlinks.  I would just post the html needed to make a hyperlink, but the board would just try to utilize it.

Or, if you prefer, this wiki has a bunch of the tags used in BBCode, including the ones to make hyperlinks.

Either one is good.  I use them both.

EDIT
Added further info.

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“In the end nature is horrific and teaches us nothing.” -Mutual of Omicron

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Posted: 13 April 2011 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Or you could just copy and paste the formatting that Dead Monkey used in the above post!

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Posted: 13 April 2011 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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That too. LOL

EDIT
Mystery stuff.  Ooooo.

[ Edited: 13 April 2011 02:46 PM by Dead Monky ]
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Posted: 14 April 2011 02:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I have the same problem running google chrome admittedly on a netbook, right now, which does not help!
I think someone suggested something similar but I use tinyrul.com for shortening links. 
Would love to be able to read it as I do wonder why so many who don’t beleive in God are concerned about.
Oh the the irony of my interest in this topic!

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Posted: 14 April 2011 02:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Question:
“Do you believe God exists?”

Answer:
“What are you asking?”

In this sense, PLaClair: Where do you believe in?

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“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

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Posted: 14 April 2011 02:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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traveler - 13 April 2011 01:43 PM

FYI, I am using Firefox 4 on a PC and a laptop (both Win 7). LaClaire’s post is perfectly fine for me (links work, all is in easy-to-read window).

Me big screen too. No problem wink

Another option is to make the font smaller, so more characters fit on the page.

PLaClair: can’t you just mention the book titles, or hyperlink them with <a> option above the “Message” field? Just try it out, should be easy.

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Posted: 14 April 2011 04:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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GdB - 14 April 2011 02:27 AM
traveler - 13 April 2011 01:43 PM

FYI, I am using Firefox 4 on a PC and a laptop (both Win 7). LaClaire’s post is perfectly fine for me (links work, all is in easy-to-read window).

Me big screen too. No problem wink

Another option is to make the font smaller, so more characters fit on the page.

PLaClair: can’t you just mention the book titles, or hyperlink them with <a> option above the “Message” field? Just try it out, should be easy.

I can read CFI posts fine on my HTC Desire HD, but not this post, the font gets too small. PlaClair I think we would all be grateful if you redid your post using either the <a> facility in the forum engine or use something like tinyrul (or both). Then we cold actually discuss the topic rather than have this meta-conversation. Surely you would prefer that?

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Posted: 11 May 2011 03:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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garythehuman - 13 April 2011 09:55 AM

This is my working definition of “god” – a projection of human personality by a society onto objects, animals, certain humans, or imaginary beings.  Its purpose is to explain whatever is unknown that comes into contact with a particular society and more importantly to set a group agreed upon of rules for the maintenance of the society involved.

Yep, no need to add anything here!

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“The present age ... prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence ... for in these days illusion only is sacred, truth profane.”

Feuerbach

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Posted: 11 May 2011 08:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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TeachScience - 11 May 2011 03:19 PM
garythehuman - 13 April 2011 09:55 AM

This is my working definition of “god” – a projection of human personality by a society onto objects, animals, certain humans, or imaginary beings.  Its purpose is to explain whatever is unknown that comes into contact with a particular society and more importantly to set a group agreed upon of rules for the maintenance of the society involved.

Yep, no need to add anything here!

Yes there is. It’s not that simple and that’s not the only thing people mean by it.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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