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Can Atheism be seen as an intellectual luxury for the wealthy?
Posted: 31 December 2013 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Soon I saw my atheism for what it is: an intellectual belief most accessible to those who have done well.

Okay, but why is that bad? Why is it bad that we have managed crawl our way out of the swamps and find a little time to educate ourselves? I realize that not everyone has benefited yet from this enlightened age, but I’m not going to look around at those less advantaged people and say they are simply “different”. I can admire their ability to survive, I can see the skills they have that I don’t, I can see them as my brothers and sisters and know that I am no better than them and could have ended up eating garbage if just a few circumstances were different.

I think this Internet age has brought us a lot of things that pass for journalism or for intelligent reflection when really what we are seeing is someone realizing they have spent most of their lives blind to the vast majority of the world that is still living like it is 1277. They are surrounded by the modern world, but they don’t really access it or benefit from it. He feels bad about missing that and hasn’t worked out what to do about it yet. He’s figured he was an arrogant bastard, but all he’s done is change who it is he is claiming to be superior to.

Dawkins speaks mostly to people who do fly in airplanes, wear nice clothes and have gone to college. He understands that people on the street are being manipulated by these elite. If someone comes to one of his lectures or writes an email and asks a 13th century question, he’ll tell that person to stop listening to the people in funny hats, but he does not seek these people out and lord over them with his degrees and nice suits.

[ Edited: 31 December 2013 01:48 PM by Lausten ]
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Posted: 31 December 2013 02:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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jomper - 31 December 2013 01:36 AM
Lois - 30 December 2013 11:02 PM
Occam. - 30 December 2013 06:14 PM

Damn, my memory is going.  There’s a very clear psychological term for this phenomenon, of having two separate idea groups that are quite thoroughly at odds with each other, but the reasoning of neither is accessible to the other.  Newton was a brilliant scientist, but his very early training inculcated the ideas of theism in areas of his thinking that were not accessible to his reason and critical thinking. 

Occam

Newton was certainly a product of his time, his society and his upbringing.  If he lived today where atheism is accepted, I have no doubt that he would be an avowed atheist. He would realize that he doesn’t have to fake it. He would be free to be honest with himself.

Lois

I think it’s very misguided of you to attempt to project your views into the mind of Newton and speak for him and what he would have thought if he had lived today. I also think it is arrogant to suggest he was in some way faking it and being dishonest with himself in terms of his beliefs when he was alive.

I wasn’t speaking for him. I was expressing an opinion about him—just as you have done with your post. Opinions are neither right nor wrong. wink

Lois

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Posted: 04 January 2014 07:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Occam. - 31 December 2013 11:35 AM
jomper - 31 December 2013 01:37 AM
Occam. - 30 December 2013 06:14 PM

Damn, my memory is going.  There’s a very clear psychological term for this phenomenon, of having two separate idea groups that are quite thoroughly at odds with each other, but the reasoning of neither is accessible to the other.  Occam

Cognitive dissonance?

YES!!!  Thanks jomper.

Occam

Not quite.  Cog. Dis is what occurs in someone who holds severely opposing beliefs. I think it’s thought of as almost a mental condition that can cause a person to suffer.  I think the term you were looking for is Compartmentalization. It’s very similar but it’s when a person can function successfully WITHOUT experiencing cog dis.  I always think of Clinton. He could carry on like a sex starved schoolboy, and yet be a rational intelligent world statesmen. He was able to compartmentalize.

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Posted: 05 January 2014 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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No, I’m pretty sure I was looking for cognitive dissonance.  LOL

And sexual behavior and political skill really aren’t particulaly related so they wouldn’t seem to fit either of those categories. 

Occam

[ Edited: 05 January 2014 12:09 PM by Occam. ]
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Posted: 06 January 2014 04:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Occam. - 30 December 2013 11:04 AM

I think it’s a silly statement, but we can see some correlations.  First, atheism requires reasoning to eliminate the concept of a god.  Second, reasoning requires intelligence, and I would guess that it could be shown that there’s a correlation between superiority of reasoning ability and intelligence.  Third, there is a definite, but certainly not complete, correlation between intelligence and financial level.  I do not see it as a luxury, but rather, in the long term, a necessity.

Occam

Hi!  New person here…

I hold a fair amount of confidence in the idea that the drive to connect with some sort of divine presence is a natural inclination, and it’s something that’s been around in the vast majority of societies, if not all of them.  It’s kind of stunning how prevalent it is, when you think about it. 

People who have fallen on hard times are more likely to get into a lot of things which can provide them with some kind of comfort.  Relationships—ANY relationships—drugs, alcohol, and the like.  And then there’s the pursuit of the divine, typically only considered to be a part of religion in places like the US.  People might get into it for the promise of heaven, sure, but there’s also the palpable aspect of feeling connected to a presence far greater than oneself.  Feeling that kind of connection can provide relief, and can give a sense of purpose.  And, people want that—not just people who have fallen on hard times either.  Like I said, I’m pretty sure it’s an innate trait.

It’s unfortunate that the major sources of that connection, for most people in the US, happen to be religious institutions which put their perceived monopoly on the divine before the needs of their followers, and before the wellbeing of society at large.  But that’s the only way people think that they can achieve that connection, because that’s what they see all around them, and they get swallowed up.  It takes intelligence, and luck, to be able to see beyond that.  And if you’re predisposed to want the connection, due to hard times or your genetic makeup, it takes a LOT of luck.

Because not many people will tell a person that they don’t have to subscribe to a religion to find their gods, and even fewer will tell people that they don’t have to believe in anyone else’s gods—that they’re free to choose their own gods.

It takes a lot of intelligence to discover the nature of one’s personal divinities, through personal experience and research, in a way which holds fast to science.  But that’s the real thing: adherence to science is what is more important.  People do not have to give up the concept of gods, and for people like me such a choice, to relinquish my divinities, would actually be the opposite of intelligent.

In circles where atheism is seen as intellectually superior to theism—any kind of theism, even that which holds fast to science—natural atheists do kind of hold a luxury.  Rational circles are by and large this way.

Anyway, I’m trying to figure out a way for this to not have to be the case, because I’ve struggled with this all my life.  So I’m working on something to help people like me to be understood:  http://polygnostic.info

Sorry for not posting in the intro threads first, but when I saw this thread I knew where I wanted to jump in.  I can post an intro if that’d be preferable.

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Posted: 06 January 2014 08:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Simple questions to Theists..

a) Why MUST there be a God (a supernatural entity)?

b) Why SHOULD life be the creation of such a supernatural entity?

c) Why should man have a SPECIAL STATUS in the eyes of such an entity?

d) Why should such an entity REQUIRE worship?

I have heard all the speculative arguments theists use to “justify” the existence of a MOTIVATED supernatural being. It always comes down to the concept of “irreducible complexity” which would “require” an INTELLIGENT DESIGNER.
Then the argument that the odds are against the precise cnfiguration that would allow for the evolution of the universe as we experience it.
I have heard them all, yet no one has made a persuasive case that a God (as defined in scripture) is a REQUIRED CREATOR, without which the Universe, in all its complexity could not exist.

Using Ockhams razor, of all the possible answers, the argument for a SENTIENT, INTELLIGENT, MOTIVATED, EMOTIONAL CREATOR would be at the very bottom of my list. I guess, I lack the hubris for such self esteem.

But let no theist accuse me of an inability to appreciate the SPLENDOR and MAJESTY of the Universe.

splendor

1.magnificence: the condition of being magnificent, impressive, or brilliant
2.something splendid: something that is magnificent, impressive, or brilliant

Synonyms: magnificence · glory · grandeur · brilliance · finery · impressiveness · majesty

and

majesty

1.splendor: awesomely large size or great splendor
2.dignity: a deeply impressive dignified quality
3.power: supreme authority and power

Synonyms: magnificence · splendor · dignity · grandeur · illustriousness · stateliness

There is nothing special about believing in a God. It’s the interpretation of God that I object to, because it takes a lot of hubris to claim special status of knowledge of such a system.

In the scheme of thing, man is no more special than an ant, but I object to the comparison that the earth and the life thereon is no more than an ant-farm for the pleasure of a supernatural being. That is pure science fiction, IMO.

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Posted: 07 January 2014 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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There is nothing special about believing in a God. It’s the interpretation of God that I object to, because it takes a lot of hubris to claim special status of knowledge of such a system.

There’s nothing special about belief in a god or religion for that matter as both are human constructs designed to explain our environment or to create a hierarchical form of governance. It’s origins are now traceable from Cro-Magnon (and possibly Neanderthal)  down to the Pope. We made the gods in our own image; they look like us, act as we do, e.g. Jealous, spiteful, capricious, and vengeful, also kind and loving to grant an individual a special place in life plus a reward of some kind afterwards. We believe in gods because there’s a payoff for our fealty, via protection, intercession in times of need, and love. The gods fill in the blanks in our lives which is why they won’t be leaving us anytime soon. It takes study, and a great deal of courage to send them packing from one’s life because you have to step out of that comfort zone of belief and comradeship with those who still believe but the real payoff is far more satisfying than self delusion.


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 07 January 2014 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Arda_asura said:

It takes a lot of intelligence to discover the nature of one’s personal divinities, through personal experience and research, in a way which holds fast to science.  But that’s the real thing: adherence to science is what is more important.  People do not have to give up the concept of gods, and for people like me such a choice, to relinquish my divinities, would actually be the opposite of intelligent.

Personal experiences are real, but that’s about the only thing you and I agree on. What else could they be? If you honestly describe an experience, how can I say it’s wrong? It’s the interpretations that don’t align with the rest of reality that are the problem. When I feel connected to the universe, that’s a feeling, when I call it God, that’s an interpretation. When someone else calls it Allah, that’s a problem. It may not be a problem for you, but it’s a problem for a lot of people, and they make it a problem for the rest of us.

To put it bluntly, you’re doing science wrong. Susan Blackmore has been through this. You might want to look into her work.

http://winter60.blogspot.com/2010/03/paranormal-normalness.html

From your website

In the context of polygnosticism, “the divine” refers to all that is thought or perceived to be divine, including deities and other divinities, personal or material qualities, and any other physical or nonphysical elements of existence.

Basically you’re saying go ahead and makeup whatever definitions you want. The trouble starts when people start thinking that they can skip being vaccinated or not give their children medicine when they are dying or that the end is coming so nothing matters. We’ve isolated most of these people, but they used to be in charge of entire countries.

I know you’re reasonable and you think these things don’t need to be addressed, but where do you draw the line? How detached from reality do you allow someone to be before you call them crazy and keep them away from the children? You need to decide where that line is before your polygnostic thing will work.

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Posted: 07 January 2014 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Write4U - 06 January 2014 08:23 PM

Simple questions to Theists..

Hey!  That’s me!

a) Why MUST there be a God (a supernatural entity)?

There shouldn’t be any scientific hypothesis physical supernatural entity, including one who moves the physical world, because we have no reason to test that.  Nonetheless, people can experience divinities who move the physical world in mysterious ways, and theists often do experience these kinds of things.  That’s not supernaturalism, that’s just anthropology—talking about people’s experiences.  The thing that people have to realize is, such experiences and the recognition that those experiences are objective truth—scientifically valid and universal to everyone—can be two separate things.

As to the must-ness of it, that’s something only individuals can answer.  Any speculation on an objective divinity who needs to exist in order for the physical universe to make sense isn’t going to be fruitful, and more than that it’ll just be a road to further empty speculation, to an intellectual no-person’s-land.  But an individual who needs a God, or gods, or some other kind of divinity to make sense of their own experiences, and to find better direction and purpose in their life—and such people do exist—has good reason to say that a god, or other divinity, must exist in their experience. 

b) Why SHOULD life be the creation of such a supernatural entity?

It shouldn’t.

c) Why should man have a SPECIAL STATUS in the eyes of such an entity?

Well, a lot of people with divinities have reason to understand that they, themselves, matter to their divinities.  Again, that’s just going off of people’s perceptions.

d) Why should such an entity REQUIRE worship?

They shouldn’t, not by everyone.  If an individual benefits from worship then it’s up to them to decide to worship, but it’s not something that should be pushed on everyone…

Hah, not sure if those questions were actually directed at me, but you did specify “theists”!

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Posted: 07 January 2014 11:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 07 January 2014 06:38 AM

There is nothing special about believing in a God. It’s the interpretation of God that I object to, because it takes a lot of hubris to claim special status of knowledge of such a system.

There’s nothing special about belief in a god or religion for that matter as both are human constructs designed to explain our environment or to create a hierarchical form of governance. It’s origins are now traceable from Cro-Magnon (and possibly Neanderthal)  down to the Pope. We made the gods in our own image; they look like us, act as we do, e.g. Jealous, spiteful, capricious, and vengeful, also kind and loving to grant an individual a special place in life plus a reward of some kind afterwards. We believe in gods because there’s a payoff for our fealty, via protection, intercession in times of need, and love. The gods fill in the blanks in our lives which is why they won’t be leaving us anytime soon. It takes study, and a great deal of courage to send them packing from one’s life because you have to step out of that comfort zone of belief and comradeship with those who still believe but the real payoff is far more satisfying than self delusion.


Cap’t Jack

So why should someone who understands that their divinities are personal to them send their gods packing if their gods also happen to be very helpful to them?  Because, well, that’s real payoff, right? just getting extra help from such experiences?

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Posted: 07 January 2014 12:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Lausten - 07 January 2014 09:00 AM

Arda_asura said:

It takes a lot of intelligence to discover the nature of one’s personal divinities, through personal experience and research, in a way which holds fast to science.  But that’s the real thing: adherence to science is what is more important.  People do not have to give up the concept of gods, and for people like me such a choice, to relinquish my divinities, would actually be the opposite of intelligent.

Personal experiences are real, but that’s about the only thing you and I agree on. What else could they be? If you honestly describe an experience, how can I say it’s wrong? It’s the interpretations that don’t align with the rest of reality that are the problem. When I feel connected to the universe, that’s a feeling, when I call it God, that’s an interpretation. When someone else calls it Allah, that’s a problem. It may not be a problem for you, but it’s a problem for a lot of people, and they make it a problem for the rest of us.

Because they postulate divinity to be something far beyond anything it’s ever shown itself to be.  There’s a vast history of experiences with the divine, but whether these are anything apart from experiences—whether there are objective gods—isn’t something that can be scientifically proven.  The people who cause the problems attach the idea of gods to absolutes, and to empirically measurable forces.  Why is an interpretation wrong simply if it uses the word “god”?  I get that western monotheism has some really fishy ideas about this whole god thing, so there’s a lot of baggage associated with the word “god” now, and just using the word brings up all of that; but divinity has a much larger history than western monotheism. 

To put it bluntly, you’re doing science wrong. Susan Blackmore has been through this. You might want to look into her work.

http://winter60.blogspot.com/2010/03/paranormal-normalness.html

Ouch.  I think I’m pretty versed in science, and my angle on this whole divinity thing draws a lot on history and anthropology, and I do point out that there’s nothing scientifically testable about a divine experience.  It’s a personal determination, whether or not to call something divinity.

From your website

In the context of polygnosticism, “the divine” refers to all that is thought or perceived to be divine, including deities and other divinities, personal or material qualities, and any other physical or nonphysical elements of existence.

Basically you’re saying go ahead and makeup whatever definitions you want. The trouble starts when people start thinking that they can skip being vaccinated or not give their children medicine when they are dying or that the end is coming so nothing matters. We’ve isolated most of these people, but they used to be in charge of entire countries.

I know you’re reasonable and you think these things don’t need to be addressed, but where do you draw the line? How detached from reality do you allow someone to be before you call them crazy and keep them away from the children? You need to decide where that line is before your polygnostic thing will work.

Well, the website also states, upfront:

Polygnosticism is:
Maintaining an agnostic stance regarding the existence and nature of physical divinity, God, or gods — such as the natural sciences may someday be able to discover — while accepting perceptions and personal knowledge of the divine as substantial, and perhaps even possessing such perceptions and knowledge oneself.

I guess I also need to state that personal divinity isn’t an excuse to not respect the advances of science, or to educate oneself about reason and the scientific method…

As for how detached from reality people can get, what I’m trying to do isn’t to allow that.  I’m trying to allow people to have experiences which are illuminating and fulfilling while remaining thoroughly attached to reality, and that includes healthy skepticism about objective claims.  When people start making objective, absolute claims about the divine, we have a problem.  When people start making absolute claims about vaccinations without scientific backing, we have a problem.  When a person senses a divine presence and the divine presence tells them something helpful, we don’t have a problem. 

The reason I came to this forum was, in part, for feedback like this.  I’ll try to be more clear on respecting science on the website, because I realize now that simply saying “objective agnosticism”, or something like it, isn’t enough to make that point…

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Posted: 07 January 2014 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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arda_asura - 07 January 2014 12:19 PM

When a person senses a divine presence and the divine presence tells them something helpful, we don’t have a problem. 

Lots that could be addressed, and I’ll respond if you think something else is more important, but this one is key.

There’s a name for this phenomenon in philosophy of accidentally being right. The name doesn’t matter, just that it has been discussed. It is sort of a philosophical problem because it leads to the thinking you are presenting. If we are talking about a serial killer who found God and quit killing people, I’d back off, what would be the point in pushing the guy? But we’re talking about average people.

Individually, someone is led to something good by their “divine” experience. Great. But now they have been rewarded, so they seek the divine again. This time it gives them bad advice, but they have suspended their critical faculties, so they take it.

In a group, leaders take advantage of this, consciously or not. They have outreach programs that clean up parks and feed starving children. Great. People join thinking this is an awesome service organization. They drop money in the basket and don’t look at the books. They send their kids to Sunday School and don’t check the curriculum. Before you know it their bank accounts are empty and their children are turning them in as sinners. If you think I’m exaggerating then you don’t know history.

I know you’re thinking that this is all easily handled by a little oversight, some checks and balances, but you are proposing a system that is based on not doing that very checking in the first place. You’re proposing that if someone says they touched the divine, we don’t question them. Once you say that is possible, you set up a situation where some can claim it and others are left wondering if it is true. On the chance it might be true, they follow those who claim it is. I’m sure you would be smart enough to figure out who the hucksters are, but there are too many people out there who are easily taken advantage of.

Teaching people how to live in the real world is much better.

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Posted: 07 January 2014 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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So why should someone who understands that their divinities are personal to them send their gods packing if their gods also happen to be very helpful to them?  Because, well, that’s real payoff, right? just getting extra help from such experiences?

Hey, I enjoy an inspirational fairytale as much as the next guy and that’s ok as long as you are fully aware of the fact that it’s fiction and not fact. I think that the fox and the grapes was a terrific morality tale, but I know that there aren’t any talking foxes or rabbits who race tortoises. I also know that my favorite goddess Athena didn’t actually exist either so I don’t head to Nashville to throw drahmas at the feet of her immense statue or slaughter a bull in her honor. Albeit she makes one hellova gigantic goddess, very impressive.


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 07 January 2014 04:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Lausten - 07 January 2014 12:50 PM

Teaching people how to live in the real world is much better.

I’m going to respond to everything you wrote, but I’m going to start with this.

Let’s talk about the real world.

The real world, for beings who deal with a combination of purely subjective and sensory—more objective—experiences, is complicated.  People can talk about their personal worlds with credence, because we all have a personal world of sorts.  That’s pretty widely acceptable.  Within our personal world are the networks of thoughts, emotions, and other nonsensory percepotions, rife with meaning, explored and expressed since the beginning of artistic expression and creation.

There are signals in the noise in expressions of people’s personal worlds, things which tell us common threads in people’s experiences.  These are things like people’s perceived self-images, people’s great loves, people’s passions, and so on.  I mean, there are a lot of these common threads.

Some of the oldest surviving works of art, and some of the most widely produced works of art, are of divinities.  Gods, typically, but other forces too with perceived wills—aspects of life which, early on, played upon our capacity to construct theories of mind.

That’s interesting.

There are a lot of works of art surrounding the subjective experience of love as well, so we could say that’s also very interesting, and it is.  It definitely tells us something about people, and about what is important to them.  And, there’s no objective love—no physical love outside of chemicals and neurons—yet people say that love is real.  That’s something that people just don’t question.  Would you assert that someone who is in love should just drop that experience and live in the “real world”? even if that’s what gives their personal world meaning?

Assuming you wouldn’t, why would you do the same with people who experience divinities?  I mean, really, don’t seek to understand the nature of your experiences? don’t look to history or other cultures to correlate them? nevermind the fact that people all over the world and throughout history have had similar experiences?  Just drop them because they’re not in the “real world”?

Well that’s kind of willfully ignorant, isn’t it?  Harsh I know, but I do mean it.  It’s willfully ignorant of the vast history and importance of divine communion to people, and of the possibility that such practices, as probable aspects of our biological natures, could lead to unique opportunities for fulfillment.  It’s ignorant of the fact that perhaps some people *need* such experiences to function properly, or to get through a rough patch.

I know there are concerns, so let’s address them:

There’s a name for this phenomenon in philosophy of accidentally being right. The name doesn’t matter, just that it has been discussed. It is sort of a philosophical problem because it leads to the thinking you are presenting. If we are talking about a serial killer who found God and quit killing people, I’d back off, what would be the point in pushing the guy? But we’re talking about average people.

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/26/149394987/when-god-talks-back-to-the-evangelical-community

When average people actually commune with the divine, the results typically aren’t anything to write home about.  There are bad experiences, yes, brought on by absolute assertions about the divine being universal or objective, rather than something everyone should seek to figure out for themselves, and maybe with the help of agnostic or anthorpologically oriented theists.

Individually, someone is led to something good by their “divine” experience. Great. But now they have been rewarded, so they seek the divine again. This time it gives them bad advice, but they have suspended their critical faculties, so they take it.

What you’re doing here is conflating seeking the divine with suspension of critical faculties.  You’re implying that one has to imply the other, again kind of willfully ignorantly—if not willfully than perhaps lividly.  And not without reason, as seen below:

In a group, leaders take advantage of this, consciously or not. They have outreach programs that clean up parks and feed starving children. Great. People join thinking this is an awesome service organization. They drop money in the basket and don’t look at the books. They send their kids to Sunday School and don’t check the curriculum. Before you know it their bank accounts are empty and their children are turning them in as sinners. If you think I’m exaggerating then you don’t know history.

This sucks, and believe it or not I’ve been there.  Not *there*—not having my bank account drained—but being moved to seek the divine from people who could have indoctrinated me in a bad way.  And they almost did, because I got more spiritual baggage from some of the groups I visited in earnest hopes of finding God.  When I realized who my gods were, I also realized that I didn’t have to do this anymore.  I had to find my divinities and understand them to, firstly, fill the yearning, and secondly to know that I didn’t need any of that crap anymore.  In other words I had to educate myself, the same way that people have to educate themselves about relationships to avoid abusive ones.

I’m trying to educate others that divine communion is legit, and that there are ways to fulfill the yearning for the divine without turning to awful institutions.  I’m trying to do that by appealing to anthropology, where there exists a metric frakton of data regarding experiences of divinities.

I know you’re thinking that this is all easily handled by a little oversight, some checks and balances, but you are proposing a system that is based on not doing that very checking in the first place. You’re proposing that if someone says they touched the divine, we don’t question them. Once you say that is possible, you set up a situation where some can claim it and others are left wondering if it is true. On the chance it might be true, they follow those who claim it is. I’m sure you would be smart enough to figure out who the hucksters are, but there are too many people out there who are easily taken advantage of.

People already wonder if it is true.  And people already follow those who claim it is.

Fact: It is true that people can touch the divine.  I’ve done it, I have divine experiences every day.  I’m not alone in that, and I’m not the only one who is vocal about it. 

Reality check:  A lot of people who have such experiences attach some kind of objective truth value to them, some kind of absoluteness to them, and that is wrong.  There’s never been anything in our history to suggest that divine experiences are indicative of objective divinities, because divine experiences have been so widely diverse everywhere.  The only objective thing that can be said about divine experiences is that people have them at all.

I’m not making promises to people to lure them into uncritical magical thinking land. I’m telling it like it is, or at least I’m trying to, but I realize now that I need to make a lot of changes to the website to make some things clearer.

First, I have to make it perfectly clear that following people who have found a divinity is a silly idea.  Because someone has a divinity in their life doesn’t make them worthy of being followed—it makes them normal, more or less.  It makes them like most people who have ever existed on Earth.

Second, I have to make it clear that people don’t have to follow leaders in order to find divinities.  They might have better luck finding them in their favorite childhood stories, but I don’t have data on that…

Anyway, what I’m proposing isn’t checks and balances, but rather an entirely different conceptualization of divinity, one which focuses on experiences—things we can get data on, and not hypothetical gods which are alien to most people.  Because given the extant anthropological data, this whole divinity thing seems rather important to people, and if we could just get past the ridiculous religious institutions that make a mockery of the idea then maybe we could figure out how to optimally approach the divine in the era of science…

Lausten - 07 January 2014 12:50 PM

Teaching people how to live in the real world is much better.

...because divinity has actually been a part of our reality for a long, long time.

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Posted: 07 January 2014 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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arda_asura - 07 January 2014 11:44 AM
Write4U - 06 January 2014 08:23 PM

Simple questions to Theists..

Hey!  That’s me!

a) Why MUST there be a God (a supernatural entity)?

There shouldn’t be any scientific hypothesis physical supernatural entity, including one who moves the physical world, because we have no reason to test that.

Thanks for your thoughtful answers.  I do, however, disagree with several points you made.
Inasmuch that religion (ritualized belief in a specific supernatural entity) has been the cause for endless wars, hardship and persecution, we have compelling social reasons to test the existence of such a being in reality. This problem is recognized in the “establishment clause”

  Nonetheless, people can experience divinities who move the physical world in mysterious ways, and theists often do experience these kinds of things.  That’s not supernaturalism, that’s just anthropology—talking about people’s experiences.  The thing that people have to realize is, such experiences and the recognition that those experiences are objective truth—scientifically valid and universal to everyone—can be two separate things.

Again, I have to disagree with several points here. Almost everyone I know (including many atheists) have had extraordinary experiences, but IMO that is not anthropology, its psychology, which makes them subjective internal experiences and not objective truth (testable). They are in fact two seperat things and one of them is factually incorrect.

As to the must-ness of it, that’s something only individuals can answer.  Any speculation on an objective divinity who needs to exist in order for the physical universe to make sense isn’t going to be fruitful, and more than that it’ll just be a road to further empty speculation, to an intellectual no-person’s-land.

Ah, but that is why we have science which does in fact investigates this intellectual no-man’s land and seeks to discover the true causality of the physical world and why (for some) it is necessary to believe in scientifically flawed scriptures.  In the physical sciences we are a few elementary particles away from having “some” answers (Higgs boson is one of them).  I admit, a TOE is still beyond our reach, but IMO, it almost certainly is not a supernatural deity. Personally I am a fan of David Bohm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bohm , and Garrett Lisi, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Exceptionally_Simple_Theory_of_Everything

  But an individual who needs a God, or gods, or some other kind of divinity to make sense of their own experiences, and to find better direction and purpose in their life—and such people do exist—has good reason to say that a god, or other divinity, must exist in their experience.

I agree, but that remains an individual subjective experience and cannot be used to objectively explain or insist on the existence of a Sentient Motivated Creator. 

b) Why SHOULD life be the creation of such a supernatural entity?

It shouldn’t

We are in agreement, but that simple answer has many implications; according to mythology the gods themselves have been at war forever, so it depends on which god one believes in how one sees their obligation to serve or find favor from that god.

c) Why should man have a SPECIAL STATUS in the eyes of such an entity?

Well, a lot of people with divinities have reason to understand that they, themselves, matter to their divinities.  Again, that’s just going off of people’s perceptions.

I agree, unfortunately a lot of theists are convinced that their divinity gives them the right to impose their beliefs on others. And that is where the problem starts.

d) Why should such an entity REQUIRE worship?

They shouldn’t, not by everyone.  If an individual benefits from worship then it’s up to them to decide to worship, but it’s not something that should be pushed on everyone…

We are in complete agreement here. Unfortunately, with todays technologies it takes but a few zealots who feel their divinity commands them to wreak havoc on “unbelievers” at unprecedented scale.
Therein lies the danger and these are historical facts. http://www.womanastronomer.com/hypatia.htm

...because divinity has actually been a part of our reality for a long, long time.


That is true, but until the concept of a single Supreme Deity, divinity was assigned to natural, but unexplainable events. Thus Thor, Zeus, and about 4000 more gods and demons, depending on the natural environmental geographical ecosystems and their hominid cultures.

Hah, not sure if those questions were actually directed at me, but you did specify “theists”!

Oh, I am very happy you responded. IMO, this is a meaningful discussion, it demonstrates that intellectual exchange on this subject is possible by people of good will even with opposing worldviews.

[ Edited: 07 January 2014 06:07 PM by Write4U ]
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