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Let’s Have a Dialog—ie., a Conversation, not a debate—About the god-hypothesis
Posted: 04 July 2012 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 271 ]
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DarronS - 03 July 2012 06:08 PM

Which is precisely the reason I refuse to step in that pile of steaming manure. I do not allow theists to get to that point. They believe in a supernatural deity, and I place the burden of proof squarely on their shoulders. Not one has given a cogent answer. Indeed, their answers invariably involve a lot of arm waving and an admission that they cannot understand how the universe came into existence unless a supernatural being created it. That and the admission they cannot face the trials and tribulations of life without the belief in a comforting deity (hat tip to Bertrand Russell).

Unfortunately they try to get to that point straight away—invariably the first words out of their mouth will be “How do you KNOW there is no god?”  tongue rolleye It takes a bit of footwork to get out of it simply most people’s understanding of atheism comes from theists.

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Posted: 04 July 2012 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 272 ]
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DarronS - 04 July 2012 05:40 AM

... Perhaps I used the wrong term (fear) when I said theists fear the unknown.

It is good to see that you noticed that what you said in an unfair generalization.

Thinking back on my conversations (some of them recent), I have heard many Christians tell me they believe in god because the universe had to have a creator; therefore their god. This is to me a profoundly appalling stance.

I agree.

Believing something because no one can prove it false, especially when there are more elegant and plausible explanations. At this point most Christians stop thinking and declare they believe in god and nothing will change their minds.

Again, I agree.

Maybe I’m projecting, because when I went to seminary at the age of 20 I was seeking answers. My life seemed empty, and I wanted to find out where and why things started, and what purpose our lives held.

I guess I was fortunate. At 17 (1947) I entered http://www.mta.ca —a small university, in New Brunswick, Canada, closely connected with the United Church of Canada. I was one of about 60 theological students—one of which was a female. Early on, the faculty leader of the 60 of us announced at a general meeting: “Lady and gentlemen, please do not hang up your brains with your hats when you come to any of the classes during you four undergraduate years here at Mount Allison. I know that the same will be true when, most of you, will go on to your deeper theological studies at Pine Hill Divinity Hall, In Halifax, Nova Scotia.” It is now called THE ATLANTIC SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY http://astheology.ns.ca/  I was ordained in 1953.

BTW, MY WIFE (A TEACHER) AND I, THEN BOTH 23, HELPED A SQUATTERS’ TOWN BECOME A TOWN (1973)
One day, my wife and I may write a book about this interesting—and at times dramatically dangerous, adventure. To check out Happy Valley then and now, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Valley-Goose_Bay


It all began when my wife and I were assigned to be the first minister-teacher team at what was then, ironically nick-named, Happy Valley—neither a real valley, nor really happy. It was then a squatters’ town of 115 families. On happy thing: There was lots of regular employment at the international (American-Canadian) military air base at Goose Bay, not far from H.V. However, though there was lots of land, because the area was crown-owned land, finding the right place to live—one with property rights—was problematic.

When Jean and I found them they had already been uprooted once and, yet, still lived on crown-owned (British) land and still had no property rights. Crown authorities—no doubt thoughtless ones—in St. John’s, NL, tried to give area the official name of Hamilton River Settlement. Happy Valley—too flat to be much of a valley—was on the wide part of the Hamilton River, flowing into the massive Lake Melville and about six miles from the Goose Bay air base, central Labrador. The based was built by American and Canadian authorities during WW 2. It was built to prepare for an expected attack from Nazi-occupied Greenland (Denmark owned).

After this—my first stint as the first minister at Happy Valley—we had another dramatic change: I got a scholarship for a two-year program (1954-1955) at a School of Theology in Boston—connected with Boston University and Harvard Divinity School. Interestingly, later I found out that Martin Luther King, Jr., had finished his basic studies at B.U. in 1954—our paths almost crossed. Darron, you say

The more I studied the Bible the more troubled I became regarding my beliefs, and I did sincerely believe in Jesus, Yahweh and the Holy Spirit. Instead of answers I found contradictions and all manner of atrocities. What kind of demented barbarian would find happiness in smashing his enemies’ babies against rocks? Psalm 137:9

We were encouraged to study examples like you describe as BAD EXAMPLES—of a pagan-like god—not even close to what I now have in mind when I speak of G~O~D~~the Good, Opportune and Desirable. We were encouraged to embrace thinking, not to avoid it. Sorry to read of your experience, Darron.

Having the perspective of a recent evangelical Christian I saw the fear in their eyes when I told them I was leaving, that I no longer believed. They feared I would burn in Hell, and they especially feared my arguments might cause cracks in their beliefs and allow Satan to enter their thoughts and poison their minds. They feared thinking.

Yes, sad to say: We also had a few—we called them funny-D-mentalists grin—who were so indoctrinated downer , like as you describe, that they were incapable of thinking. This very small group even tried—of course without any success—to get support for their idea: They wanted the head of our faculty fired. And, because the Theory of Evolution, not the doctrine of Creationism, was taught in the geology department, they also wanted it closed. Because of the two conflicting creation-stories in the book of Genesis, many curious theological students took geology.

[ Edited: 07 July 2012 02:30 PM by RevLGKing ]
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Posted: 05 July 2012 10:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 273 ]
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George - 02 July 2012 03:38 PM

It would be very hard to have a dialogue or a debate with the reverend since 99% of whay he writes has nothing to do with the post he is replying to. Not that this is that unusual behaviour for anyone who refers to himself as “reverend.” The clergy is here to enlighten the rest of us with their story telling and other such behaviour of a person who’s character borders on that of a schizophrenic.

If you really think I am schizophrenic, I need help, not judgement. Sounds mean-spirited to me, George. Was it meant to be such? If so, there is obviously nothing more I can say except: Now you might want to have a go at my other cheek. Other than that, what is there to discuss, or debate?

You say

It would be very hard to have a dialogue or a debate with the reverend since 99% of whay he writes has nothing to do with the post he is replying to.

May I suggest you try, then see what happens? If it goes nowhere, so be it. 

BTW, George, now that you are into diagnosing the mental states and characters of posters here, perhaps we should call you Dr. George, eh? If you plan to send “us” a bill, please send it to the other “me”—the one with all the money.  grin  LOL

BTW 2, in forums like this, I feel it is simply an act of courtesy not to hide in anonymity. I think it is only fair to tell people what my point of view happens to be, and that I am not ashamed to be known as a minister—but one with an open-minded point of view.

Without any intention of being mean-spirited, I add: I trust you have some pride in what did, or do, for a living.

[ Edited: 06 July 2012 08:16 PM by RevLGKing ]
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Posted: 06 July 2012 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 274 ]
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Atxpeo-

As for the Santa Claus example, it is like the Australia one.  The empirical claims being made are testable (I am not happy that I should have to point this out).  One can, for example, do so by waiting by the chimney on Xmas eve to see who brings the presents.  As long as the concept of Santa (like that of Australia) is strongly linked to testable empirical effects, then Santa is a testable hypothesis—you can say whether the concept is wrong or not, as long as it is tethered to the empirical claims.  But if “Santa” is just portrayed as “the feeling of goodwill that fills people’s hearts” or “the spirit of giving”, then yeah, what the f*ck, you roll your eyes and move on.  If you ever debate a theist, they will (whether you think they should or not) untether the notion of God from observable empirical effects or place those effects in domains where humans do not have any or sufficient knowledge—you have probably heard the phrase “God of the gaps”.  Once that untethering happens, God is, like fairies, Bigfoot, and Russell’s teapot, not a testable hypothesis.  You can’t disprove it, but, because there is no evidence, you can dismiss it.

Stop connecting Santa to Australia.  It’s Santa:god.
I said I don’t have to disprove it. It’s not a matter of can’t disprove it! You said you leave the possibilty open.
I think you read too much present day philosophy/quasi science.  You sure like to quote people alot.
The santa thing fits into your model too.  Quit being so obstinate. He could be a Santa of the gaps.  He could be a santa that is misunderstood by his recipients.(I assume this is your approach to the possibilty of god.)

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Posted: 07 July 2012 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 275 ]
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RevLGKing - 05 July 2012 10:09 PM
George - 02 July 2012 03:38 PM

It would be very hard to have a dialogue or a debate with the reverend since 99% of whay he writes has nothing to do with the post he is replying to. Not that this is that unusual behaviour for anyone who refers to himself as “reverend.” The clergy is here to enlighten the rest of us with their story telling and other such behaviour of a person who’s character borders on that of a schizophrenic.

If you really think I am schizophrenic, I need help, not judgement. Sounds mean-spirited to me, George. Was it meant to be such? If so, there is obviously nothing more I can say except: Now you might want to have a go at my other cheek. Other than that, what is there to discuss, or debate?

You say

It would be very hard to have a dialogue or a debate with the reverend since 99% of whay he writes has nothing to do with the post he is replying to.

May I suggest you try, then see what happens? If it goes nowhere, so be it. 

BTW, George, now that you are into diagnosing the mental states and characters of posters here, perhaps we should call you Dr. George, eh? If you plan to send “us” a bill, please send it to the other “me”—the one with all the money.  grin  LOL

BTW 2, in forums like this, I feel it is simply an act of courtesy not to hide in anonymity. I think it is only fair to tell people what my point of view happens to be, and that I am not ashamed to be known as a minister—but one with an open-minded point of view.

Without any intention of being mean-spirited, I add: I trust you have some pride in what did, or do, for a living.


Linds,

I have enjoyed reading your posts. And there are some areas of agreement. But, keeping in mind the thread title, you have presented a duality (George calls it schizo) of fundamental concepts. IMO, this is why you have had such diversity of interpretations and replies. It is difficult to pin down exactly how you see yourself.

You identified yourself as panentheist but do not believe in a biblical god per se. But you see a greater (divine) wholeness, which is identified from all perspectives by theists/deists by their relative viewpoints.

Then you invent a word G-0-D (good, zero state, opportune). but later changed it to G-O-D (good, opportune, desirable) which have nothing to do with theism of any kind. These three concepts can be scientifically identified as part of the evolutionary process in both sentient and non sentient forms.  A divine purpose is superfluous, IMO.

I have finally figured out that you are really not a theist in the usual sense, but a philosopher of ethics (with an attachment of divinity of these ethical tenets). IOW,  you are a Humanist….... cheese

[ Edited: 07 July 2012 03:35 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 07 July 2012 07:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 276 ]
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DarronS - 04 July 2012 05:40 AM

Having the perspective of a recent evangelical Christian I saw the fear in their eyes when I told them I was leaving, that I no longer believed. They feared I would burn in Hell, and they especially feared my arguments might cause cracks in their beliefs and allow Satan to enter their thoughts and poison their minds. They feared thinking.

For some reason I could not get caught up in religion at the Catholic grade school I was sent to but I had a real problem with Hell.

Let’s say I am a really bad dude, a serial killer.

Suppose I have murdered 10 people and never been caught.  So assume that each person I killed would have live 50 more years if I had not murdered them.  So I would have taken 500 years from those people because it is not like they would have lived forever without my assistance.

So I die and get sentenced to ETERNITY.

So I do 1,000 years in Hell and then what?  Another 10,000.  And after that another 50,000.  But I only took 500.

Now we are supposed to believe an all intelligent God who was smart enough to create the Entire Universe can’t come up with a better system than this?  Sorry, the Christian paradigm of God is really dumb.  It sounds more like some silly crap to terrorize children so they can be controlled all of their live.

But the curious thing about the Gospels is that it was not the Jews who killed Jesus but the Jewish Religious Leaders.  Even if you watch Jesus Christ Superstars it has Caiaphas conspiring with his buddies right at the beginning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_oT9J3Siiw

So what if the gospels are really about religious leaders?

psik

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Posted: 07 July 2012 08:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 277 ]
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Write4U - 07 July 2012 03:22 PM

Linds,

I have enjoyed reading your posts.

Thanks, 4U! Then you add

And there are some areas of agreement. But, keeping in mind the thread title, you have presented a duality (George calls it schizo) of fundamental concepts. IMO, this is why you have had such diversity of interpretations and replies. It is difficult to pin down exactly how you see yourself.

How I see myself? I always welcome appropriate questions by anyone interested in finding out who I am and what I have in mind . Go ahead and ask. You continue

You identified yourself as panentheist ...

How familiar are you with the concept?  To avoid confusion with pantheism, Warren Farr (an artist), and I—although we had not actually met, in person—concocted the word ‘unitheism’  at the same time (2004).  Check out the meaning of ‘panEntheism’ here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism As you say, “I

do not believe in a biblical god per se. But you see a greater (divine) wholeness, which is identified from all perspectives by theists/deists by their relative viewpoints.

Yes, with other refinements possible, then I

invent a word G-0-D (good, zero state, opportune and delightful). but later changed it to G-O-D (good, opportune, desirable) which have nothing to do with theism of any kind. These three concepts can be scientifically identified as part of the evolutionary process in both sentient and non sentient forms.  A divine purpose is superfluous, IMO.

I am glad to note that you have finally figured out that I am not

really a monotheist, in the usual sense, but a philosopher of ethics (with an attachment of divinity of these ethical tenets). IOW,  you are a Humanist….... cheese

As are many liberal-thinking Christians. We also support truly democratic secularism. We certainly abhor any kind of theocracy and appreciate what CFI is doing as recorded in the intro to this forum. I certainly hope we can continue to have this kind of useful dialogue grin

=====================
About the Center For Inquiry
=====================
The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

To oppose and supplant the mythological narratives of the past, and the dogmas of the present, the world needs an institution devoted to promoting science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. The Center for Inquiry is that institution.

[ Edited: 07 July 2012 08:39 PM by RevLGKing ]
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Posted: 08 July 2012 03:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 278 ]
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psikeyhackr - 07 July 2012 07:59 PM
DarronS - 04 July 2012 05:40 AM

Having the perspective of a recent evangelical Christian I saw the fear in their eyes when I told them I was leaving, that I no longer believed. They feared I would burn in Hell, and they especially feared my arguments might cause cracks in their beliefs and allow Satan to enter their thoughts and poison their minds. They feared thinking.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_oT9J3Siiw

So what if the gospels are really about religious leaders?

psik

It is!

Witness the beginning of the Dark Ages
http://www.womanastronomer.com/hypatia.htm

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Posted: 08 July 2012 07:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 279 ]
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Write4U - 08 July 2012 03:25 AM

...

So what if the gospels are really about religious leaders?

psik

It is! (4U)

May I (LGK) ask: It is? And may I add, that is NOT the gospel—from the Old English expression “god’s spiel”, meaning agape-based “good news”—which I was taught, and still teach.The basic gospel is: WE ALL HAVE THE POWER OF CHOICE—to freely choose to be evil, or G~O~D~like.

Of course there have always been, and perhaps always be, religious hypocrites (frequent targets of Jesus’ teachings)  who pretend to be true spiritual leaders worthy of popular support—just as there have been, and are, crass secular hypocrites.

[ Edited: 08 July 2012 07:04 AM by RevLGKing ]
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Posted: 08 July 2012 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 280 ]
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RevLGKing - 08 July 2012 07:01 AM
Write4U - 08 July 2012 03:25 AM

...

So what if the gospels are really about religious leaders?

psik

It is! (4U)

May I (LGK) ask: It is? And may I add, that is NOT the gospel—from the Old English expression “god’s spiel”, meaning agape-based “good news”—which I was taught, and still teach.The basic gospel is: WE ALL HAVE THE POWER OF CHOICE—to freely choose to be evil, or G~O~D~like.

Of course there have always been, and perhaps always be, religious hypocrites (frequent targets of Jesus’ teachings)  who pretend to be true spiritual leaders worthy of popular support—just as there have been, and are, crass secular hypocrites.

Therein lies the rub, no?

The opposite of “evil” is “good”, not god (by any other name). If we assume good is a god, we must assume that evil is a devil, and we are back to the beginning of mythology.
All that is required is to define good and evil in terms of lifestyle. Man should be judged by his deeds, NOT by his beliefs.
The Golden Rule is a universal human concept. A very GOOD starting point!
OTOH, to eradicate those that do good from the heart, but do not believe in god, is the height of hypocrisy.
The story of Hypatia is a clear warning against “religious exclusivity”, not “philosophical secularity”.

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Posted: 08 July 2012 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 281 ]
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RevLGKing - 08 July 2012 07:01 AM

And may I add, that is NOT the gospel—from the Old English expression “god’s spiel”, meaning agape-based “good news”—which I was taught, and still teach.

What does that matter since the Gospels were written LONG before Olde English even existed?

People act like words and definitions control reality.  They may affect what people think about reality but reality does not give a damn.  The writers of the Gosples may have had completely different ideas.

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Posted: 08 July 2012 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 282 ]
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Write4U - 08 July 2012 12:58 PM

... Therein lies the rub, no?

The opposite of “evil” is “good”, not god (by any other name)... Man should be judged by his deeds, NOT by his beliefs.
The Golden Rule is a universal human concept. A very GOOD starting point!

4U, in complete agreement with your point, IMO, the gospel is all about deeds—the Golden Rule—not creeds. This is why, in a recent and very interesting thread about the about the recent news about the HIGGS BOSON, at scienceagogo.com
http://www.scienceagogo.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=44180#Post44180 In this thread,Mike Kremer, interested in science writing, wrote and quoted me:  Revlgking, you said : Without shooting the messenger, I feel it is safe to blame the media for creating the misnomer, “God particle”. I would never think of G~0~D as being a subject, an object, or a particle. I imagine that G~0~D is the infinite and eternal field—the creator of mass. Then Mike said:

Yes, correct…‘The God particle’ is a blatant misnomer. Especially because, if this elusive particle was ever really understood in its relation to the Universe….I am afraid the world would forget about G~O~D ...

and

As a matter of fact, I much prefer your brilliant statement that ‘G~O~D is the infinite and external field—the creator of mass’ ...

Mike, correcting you, I think I said: ...“eternal” field ... and here I will add: I have a strong feeling that we—individually, or as a community—have the power of choice to play a very important role in the creative, or destructive, processes going on. Which will it be? Destructive or creative?

Then another poster, Bill S asked me: Rev, I would be fascinated to know how you distinguish between infinity and eternity. Your personal distinction, that is; not how one might distinguish….
I like what Wiki tells us about infinity (of space): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinity & about eternity (of time):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternity
================
In the dialogue I made the point: If space allowed it, in my signature I would write the symbol, which I concocted for ‘god’, in two ways: When speaking of space—using a capital O—I would write it as G~O~D~~boundless space. When speaking of time—using a zero, 0—I would write it as G~0~D~~the eternal Now.

THE BOTTOM LINE IN ALL THIS? it seems to me is : What we believe does not matter, unless it inspires us to do what is good .It is in the reality of space and time that we have the opportunity to do good, or evil.

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Posted: 08 July 2012 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 283 ]
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RevLGKing
THE BOTTOM LINE IN ALL THIS? it seems to me is : What we believe does not matter, unless it inspires us to do what is good. It is in the reality of space and time that we have the opportunity to do good, or evil.

I am in wholehearted agreement with that. And I believe your summation is in agreement with the Humanist tenets of this forum.
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/about

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Posted: 09 July 2012 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 284 ]
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Write4U - 08 July 2012 03:37 PM

RevLGKing
THE BOTTOM LINE IN ALL THIS? it seems to me is : What we believe does not matter, unless it inspires us to do what is good. It is in the reality of space and time that we have the opportunity to do good, or evil.

I am in wholehearted agreement with that. And I believe your summation is in agreement with the Humanist tenets of this forum.
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/about

As a member of the CANADIAN CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY     http://progressivechristianity.ca/prc/  I feel that many of our members would support the CFI, especially after reading the following

...In aiming to foster a secular society, we do not seek to abridge the rights of believers. We vigorously object to government support of religion and the use of religious dogma to justify public policy; we do not oppose the free exercise of religion. The secular society we are building is a community of reason and compassion in which the dignity and fundamental rights of all individuals are respected.

Fostering a secular society requires attention to many specific goals, but three goals in particular represent the focus of our activities:
 
an end to the influence that religion and pseudoscience have on public policy
 
an end to the privileged position that religion and pseudoscience continue to enjoy in many societies
 
an end to the stigma attached to being a nonbeliever, whether the nonbeliever describes her/himself as an atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker or skeptic.

[ Edited: 09 July 2012 01:01 PM by RevLGKing ]
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Posted: 09 July 2012 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 285 ]
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RevLGKing,

Encouraging words indeed.

I perused the link and was pleasantly surprised by the liberal and progressive topics and responses. It gives me hope that eventual reconcilliation of science and religion is possible and the two can live peacefully side by side in pursuit of finding answers to the real problems that face the earth and mankind in the near future.

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