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Author Topic: A social question to the other Hatrack atheists
El JT de Spang
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Tom, you miss my question?

-----------

Armoth: there are pretty cut and dried standards of proof in both science and law.

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Armoth
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Tom: Yes. It has been very compelling to many Christians.

El JT: I'm a law student. Trust me. There are not. And any philosopher will tell you that even in Science, the standards are all based on a ton of assumptions.

I think that's what's really interesting about discussions about God. You can imagine a whole list of untrue assumptions and develop math and science that works according to those hard and fast rules - but the assumptions are a prerequisite.

People are so comfortable with the black and white rules of science that they presume that the black and white must extend to the origins of those systems - but they never do.

And law is almost never black and white.

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El JT de Spang
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The last person in the world I'd trust is a religious law student trying to convince me the notions of proof we use to send people to prison is NOT sufficient to prove the existence of god. If such proof could be produced, which of course it couldn't.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
The last person in the world I'd trust is a religious law student trying to convince me the notions of proof we use to send people to prison is NOT sufficient to prove the existence of god. If such proof could be produced, which of course it couldn't.

[Roll Eyes] Really? Less than the crazed lunatic? Also, the proofs we use to send people to jail would never be sufficient for proving God's existence/none existence unless we assume God either is unable to stop us from finding him that way, or allows it.

A God who either does not wish to found that way and is capable of maintaining that state of affairs, or by nature does not leave evidence that can be identified in that way won't be found. We are still basing it on assumptions, just as I assume the God I speak to and who speaks back is not actually a trickster God who is misusing me.

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El JT de Spang
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A god who carefully structures his existence in such a way as to leave no discernible impact on the world is functionally identical to a hallucination that compels a person to be nice to others, or whatever other religious beliefs you choose.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
A god who carefully structures his existence in such a way as to leave no discernible impact on the world is functionally identical to a hallucination that compels a person to be nice to others, or whatever other religious beliefs you choose.

No discernible impact that can be logically traced back to him even by unbelievers. There is a discernible impact of his existence those who are diligently seeking him can identify.
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GinetteB
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quote:
You can, but it wouldn't be particularly useful. Those categories aren't going to get at the actual differences within families of religions and you've left out non-monotheistic options altogether.

If you want to discuss it, feel free to make a new thread, since it really is outside even a loose interpretation of this one.

Urhm....to start with the last: Are you sure you know what the discussion in this thread is about?

Of course I am not interested in differences in families of religion, just don't get this 'exists/does not exist' thing here in this discussion, because it's completely irrelevant without a proper definition of 'existence'.

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Strider
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How do you define "existence" Ginette?
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TomDavidson
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JT: Yes to both. [Smile]

Armoth: I submit that if they found it compelling, they would not be Christians. Clearly they do NOT believe that the event as described happened exactly as described.

BB: I don't think Armoth would be able to identify the same discernable impacts you do. Does that mean he's not diligently seeking God?

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
No discernible impact that can be logically traced back to him even by unbelievers. There is a discernible impact of his existence those who are diligently seeking him can identify.

I can see how you can massage the definition of 'discernable'. Perhaps a more accurate word would be 'tangible'. As 'believers' aren't in possession of any extra senses that 'unbelievers' don't also have, there is no evidence of god available to them outside the confines of their own mind. By your own admission, this could easily be the intention of god. But it doesn't change my point: that such a god is indistinguishable from a hallucination, to those outside the hallucination.

This doesn't make the presence of that god any less 'real' to those who experience it, of course. But it also does not, will not, cannot, meet any reasonable standard for proof. Which was my original point. The flip side to that, again, is that it is equally impossible to DISprove such a god. Which seems to me to be perfectly fair.

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MattP
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A hallucination isn't necessary. A biased interpretative framework suffices for many.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:


BB: I don't think Armoth would be able to identify the same discernable impacts you do. Does that mean he's not diligently seeking God?

Are you so sure they'd be so different for the two of us? In any case even if they were not, I do not limit God to what I have personally experienced. God is quite capable of communicating through myriad devices and means.
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GinetteB
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I don't think it's relevant how I define existence Strider. If you take the definition 'all that is' then you mean everything that at some point 'is' in this world. Which means it has to have a place in this world. So this definition implies that God does not exist. If you take the definition 'all we are aware of through our senses and that persists indepently without them' it also implies that God does not exist. So where can you find a definition of 'existence' that makes a discussion whether God exists or not meaningful? The point is, you have to make up a definition of 'existence' with room for things that 'are not' and that 'we cannot be aware of with our senses' and in doing so you make Gods 'existence' a possibility.
So my question is: give me a definition of 'existence' that makes God possible. And if you want my personal definition then I can only come up with this one:

God is existence.

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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by GinetteB:
quote:
You can, but it wouldn't be particularly useful. Those categories aren't going to get at the actual differences within families of religions and you've left out non-monotheistic options altogether.

If you want to discuss it, feel free to make a new thread, since it really is outside even a loose interpretation of this one.

Urhm....to start with the last: Are you sure you know what the discussion in this thread is about?

Of course I am not interested in differences in families of religion, just don't get this 'exists/does not exist' thing here in this discussion, because it's completely irrelevant without a proper definition of 'existence'.

The reason I brought it up is because it's a part of the proposition which creates the distinction between atheism and theism.

Take the proposition: "God exists." It can be either true or false. The definitions of both "God" and "exist" are important for determining whether you believe the proposition is true. But regardless of how you define the terms, the proposition is either true or false.

A theist is a person who believes the proposition is true. An atheist is a person who lacks the belief that the proposition is true. It doesn't matter whether the proposition is true as a point of fact. A person is defined as a theist or an atheist based upon if the person believes the proposition is true.

When it is claimed that it is impossible to know whether the proposition is true or false, that claim refers to whether it is possible to prove our beliefs. It is not, in itself, a belief in the proposition being true. It is a description of what is necessary for our beliefs to be true. I agree with Tom that it's silly to claim it is impossible to prove the proposition, and this is the topic the debate has shifted to.

But to rehash my point (which we can now all ignore as most have moved on), agnosticism is the claim that is impossible to prove either way the truth of the proposition. When people ask the question, "Do you believe in God?" They are asking whether you believe the proposition "God exists" is true. To say that you're an agnostic does not actually answer the question. Being an agnostic doesn't mean that you are undecided on what you believe, it's a claim that it's impossible to prove the proposition. The proposition being true and your belief in the truth of the proposition are two separate issues. It is entirely possible to believe in a proposition without believing it's possible to prove it true. You might even believe it's impossible to prove it true. In the case of the proposition "God exists," this person would be an agnostic theist. Likewise one can be an agnostic atheist.

The question was raised whether it is possible to simply be undecided in whether you believe the proposition is true. In other words, is "I don't know" a legitimate answer? There are people who go through life as believers, but come to have a "crisis in faith" where they are suddenly unsure whether they believe anymore. Likewise, there are nonbelievers who go through life and have an experience that makes them wonder whether there is a higher power. If you asked these people if they believe in God, it seems likely they would answer that they don't know. The objection contends that there should be a third category between atheist and theist that allows for these people--in other words, the binary division of atheist and theist is a false dichotomy on the spectrum of belief. I would answer that it is not a false dichotomy. It's entirely possible for people to "waffle" on their beliefs day-to-day, or even minute-by-minute. To say that a person is an atheist or a theist is descriptive of their current state. To say that someone is an atheist does not imply that he or she was always an atheist, nor does it entail that this person will always be an atheist. It is simply a description of whether, at the moment considered, they believe in the proposition.

But why not have a category for the undecided? Because to believe in the proposition requires a positive acceptance that the proposition is true. If you do not provide that acceptance of the proposition, you don't believe in it. This is why I say that if a person says "I don't know," ask them which God they believe in. If they say I don't know to any particular God, they don't believe in that God. To be a theist is to have a belief in the proposition being true. To be an atheist is to lack the belief that it is true. If you don't know if that God exists, then you lack the belief in the proposition that "God exists" is true.

Edit for clarity and to add: In short, to be a theist means you believe god exists. To be an atheist means you don't have that belief--a nonbeliever. It does NOT mean as a necessary condition that you believe that God doesn't exist. (Though there are certainly plenty of atheists who do.)

[ March 22, 2012, 09:07 PM: Message edited by: Vadon ]

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CT
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quote:
Originally posted by GinetteB:
Can you map groups/religions to the following beliefs?:

1) God does not exist
2) God does exist, but God is not the creator of the universe, it's the other way around: Human beings created God.
3) There must be some God who created the universe, but God's existence is completely irrelevant to us, because we cannot know God and we cannot have any relationship with God
4) God exists and has made himself known via his prophets and his word.
5) God exists and we can have a personal relationship with him.

It would help me a lot if I knew which religion believes what.

Edit: making new thread titled "Addressing Ginette's Answers." Hope we can solicit some direct input once you get the ball rolling! [Smile]

[ March 22, 2012, 09:16 PM: Message edited by: CT ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:


BB: I don't think Armoth would be able to identify the same discernable impacts you do. Does that mean he's not diligently seeking God?

Are you so sure they'd be so different for the two of us? In any case even if they were not, I do not limit God to what I have personally experienced. God is quite capable of communicating through myriad devices and means.
What happens when two alleged communications through these myriad devices to two different people result in exclusive and incompatible interpretations of a higher power between the two of them? Why do these 'discernable impacts,' no matter how genuinely sought, seem to correspond mostly only to what religion you were raised to believe in?
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:


BB: I don't think Armoth would be able to identify the same discernable impacts you do. Does that mean he's not diligently seeking God?

Are you so sure they'd be so different for the two of us? In any case even if they were not, I do not limit God to what I have personally experienced. God is quite capable of communicating through myriad devices and means.
What happens when two alleged communications through these myriad devices to two different people result in exclusive and incompatible interpretations of a higher power between the two of them? Why do these 'discernable impacts,' no matter how genuinely sought, seem to correspond mostly only to what religion you were raised to believe in?
They don't. Anybody who converts to a different religion can tell you that. Anybody who truly worships truth, can tell you that. As to God's will for the individual, ultimately it is to give unto them according to their desires. We are all at different levels of preparedness for truth. All I need concern myself with is am I living according to the truth as I understand it, and am I ready for more. That answer sadly is no at times. But fortunately it is also yes at others.

Armoth and I absolutely have different conceptions of what God's will is concerning us. I cannot judge what God has and has not said to him, nor can he do so for me. What we can do is interact, exchange ideas and experiences, and serve each other. In those efforts some of the truth I have found will be communicated to him, and vice versa. I can't very well say "refraining from bacon is not God's will" since I genuinely believe at one time, that was God's instruction to those who believed in him. And God apparently hasn't given Armoth the memo to chow down, or me to forbear. Getting hung up on those particulars is silly though. Ultimately if understanding God is a mountain, and we all start at the base of it, we are going to be miles apart when we commence climbing, but ultimately as we draw near to the top, the space between us also decreases.

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dkw
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Vadim and Ginnette, are you the same person? Or perhaps using the same computer and forgetting who's logged in?

If your only concern is to define God and existence why ask about prophets and Word and personal relationship? And if you're not concerned about differences between religions why try to map which ones believe what?

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MattP
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quote:
They don't. Anybody who converts to a different religion can tell you that.
He did say "mostly."

So it's only coincidental that Utah is full of Mormons, Mexico of Catholics, and Norway of Lutherans?

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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Vadim and Ginnette, are you the same person? Or perhaps using the same computer and forgetting who's logged in?

If your only concern is to define God and existence why ask about prophets and Word and personal relationship? And if you're not concerned about differences between religions why try to map which ones believe what?

I'm different from Ginette. The only reason I stepped back in was because I saw Ginette was wondering what the point of "Exist/Not Exist" in the discussion. I tried to clear it up since I think I was the one who brought it up. It's entirely possible I did more harm than good for the discussion.

And for (hopefully) clarity, the question I was trying to answer is whether being "agnostic" makes sense as a logical alternative to theist/atheist. I wasn't even trying to come close to asking about prophets, mapping religions, the word of God, or any particular faith. [Smile]

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Foust
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quote:
To be an atheist means you don't have that belief--a nonbeliever. It does NOT mean as a necessary condition that you believe that God doesn't exist.
I really do find this annoying. I consider my positive belief in the non-existence of God to be different in kind to someone's mere absence of belief. Why is it necessary to use the same word to describe both of us?

I put a lot of work to arrive at my answer; I consider the "absence of belief" people to be those who just stopped halfway. I'd rather not share a name with them.

quote:
Ultimately if understanding God is a mountain, and we all start at the base of it, we are going to be miles apart when we commence climbing, but ultimately as we draw near to the top, the space between us also decreases.
So what is the top, then? If someone says the top is X, and you say the top is Y, does that mean neither of you have reached the top?
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GinetteB
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Vadon: Mhy point is, that 'God exists' is not a valid proposition.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
They don't. Anybody who converts to a different religion can tell you that.
He did say "mostly."

So it's only coincidental that Utah is full of Mormons, Mexico of Catholics, and Norway of Lutherans?

I'm not sure what you are driving at. So many people won't go any further than to adhere to their culture's traditions regarding God, and not much further?

You've made what I'm sure you consider the important leap away from your society's mainstream belief in God. Your atheism may even be far more sophisticated and closer to the truth than some Utah Mormons, who are as I said above only going so far as to follow the traditions of their ancestors and society around them so as to fit in.

Do you think the majority of people attempt to live life completely outside the mold with which they were raised? Are self made millionaires very prominent as a total percentage of the population?

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Parkour
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If you are saying that a mormon and a jew are apart because they are on a path to a unifying peak, it implies that the peak is neither mormonism nor judaism. That is what is wrong with using the analogy to describe the situation. Either faith will disagree with where the peak is and who has to do the most walking, and both churches will be adamant about being the peak, essentially.
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El JT de Spang
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And it completely disregards all of the polytheistic religions, as well.

The fact of the matter is that the bulk of the world's believers believe their god is the 'true' one, and that god is also fundamentally incompatible with the god most other religions believe in. So, whether there is ONE true god, MANY true gods, or NO true gods, one thing we can be certain of is that most of the people (both theists and atheists) don't have great odds for their beliefs being the one true one.

Atheists aren't bothered by this because, even though they are one belief out of many, their belief is the ONLY one that is backed up by legitimate, tangible proof.

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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by Parkour:
If you are saying that a mormon and a jew are apart because they are on a path to a unifying peak, it implies that the peak is neither mormonism nor judaism. That is what is wrong with using the analogy to describe the situation. Either faith will disagree with where the peak is and who has to do the most walking, and both churches will be adamant about being the peak, essentially.

I disagree with this. As I've said many times before, I've met many people before who are not Jews and yet I believe they are members of my religion.

My understanding of what God demands of us is an honest pursuit of truth. For many, the truth is that the greatest meaning in life is a relationship with Him, and thus the expectation is that effort, to the extent of ability, should be poured into reaching that goal. But for those whose intellectually honest pursuits do not lead to my God or any God at all, I consider them members of my religion as well as the only real moral value I subscribe to is an honest pursuit of truth or truths and the effort one must invest to reach live up to those truths.

From what I know of Mormon belief - it seems that for those who do not believe during their lifetime, they are given the opportunity to believe again in a new world where things will have been made more clear to them. If this is true and it turns out that I spent my life incorrectly, then of course I'd be a fool not to change my beliefs in whatever new world comes into being. But at least I can say that I spent this life in the pursuit of truth and in living up to those truths.

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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
The last person in the world I'd trust is a religious law student trying to convince me the notions of proof we use to send people to prison is NOT sufficient to prove the existence of god. If such proof could be produced, which of course it couldn't.

El JT, I can't blame you for your rash judgments of me. I'd only urge you to see what you can learn from getting to know me better and see if your opinions change.

Wow. Never been characterized as a "religious law student" - weird images that conjures up.

Doesn't it seem interesting that we use different standards of proofs for different things? To send someone to prison or to make them liable to someone else? What that implies is that these systems are imperfect and that each system has a bit of risk of reaching the incorrect conclusion. And that our society is comfortable with different levels of risk considering what is at stake.

Also consider that we use a jury of our peers to convict. And it is known that the fate of a person will vary (possibly even greatly) depending on the composition of that jury. Which again should demonstrate that our legal system may try to find the truth, but that it would be ridiculous to say that we always reach the correct result.

To me, and to BB and to many other intelligent, rational theists, their faith has been proven to them beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
JT: Yes to both. [Smile]

Armoth: I submit that if they found it compelling, they would not be Christians. Clearly they do NOT believe that the event as described happened exactly as described.

BB: I don't think Armoth would be able to identify the same discernable impacts you do. Does that mean he's not diligently seeking God?

I disagree. Considering that Christians found their religion on Judaism, proving Judaism doesn't disprove Christianity.
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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:


BB: I don't think Armoth would be able to identify the same discernable impacts you do. Does that mean he's not diligently seeking God?

Are you so sure they'd be so different for the two of us? In any case even if they were not, I do not limit God to what I have personally experienced. God is quite capable of communicating through myriad devices and means.
What happens when two alleged communications through these myriad devices to two different people result in exclusive and incompatible interpretations of a higher power between the two of them? Why do these 'discernable impacts,' no matter how genuinely sought, seem to correspond mostly only to what religion you were raised to believe in?
Making many assumptions but I'm sure BB and I overlap in many areas where we draw evidence for the existence of a higher power that creates and controls our lives. I'd assume that the evidence in which we overlap is also compelling to many other theists all over the world.

The evidence that God revealed Himself through a particular doctrine - that's probably where we disagree. Actually, BB probably agrees, to an extent with the evidence of revelation of Jewish doctrine, as will most Christians and Muslims - making around 2+ billion people believe that God, at least initially, revealed Himself to the world in through Jewish doctrine.

We just disagree about what happened next. Considering that I believe the evidence for "what happened next" is inferior to what happened first, I don't believe in Christianity and Islam. However, I'm open to being persuaded if someone wants to give me a reason to believe in the Koran, the NT or the Book of Mormon as an extension of the original evidence I have for the original revelation that we all believe in.

I'm also open to someone pointing out why the evidence I have for the original revelation is not compelling.

As for the point you raised about it being convenient that we believe in the religion we are born into - I can only say that I agree with you. Rocked my world when I realized that point in high school and I became severely uncomfortable with Judaism. And yet I also realized that the fact that the vast majority of ppl stay in the religion they were born into is just as much evidence that people are lazy truth-seekers as it is evidence that religion is silly.

So I resolved not to be a lazy-truth seeker. And I learned a lot about my religion. In the process, I realize that all the people I surrounded myself with and grew up with don't actually practice it - they practice ritual - and that was a terribly lonely discovery. But yea, that's where I'm at.

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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
They don't. Anybody who converts to a different religion can tell you that.
He did say "mostly."

So it's only coincidental that Utah is full of Mormons, Mexico of Catholics, and Norway of Lutherans?

As I said below this post, I believe that moral value can only be judged to the extent to which it is in a person's potential both to perceive and live up to truth.

So here are the possibilities:

1) Either 2 or all 3 of them are full of lazy truth-seekers and they are morally culpable.

or

2) It is not within their potential to reach the same truth that I have reached.

Personally, based on my understanding of my potential and my particular role in life - it doesn't matter to me whether it is 1 or 2. To the extent to which I get to know people well who are not in my religion, I meet people who I think fit into category 1, and people who I think fit into category 2. When I meet the latter, I love them and respect them and consider them as part of my religion even if they are not Jewish.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Parkour:
If you are saying that a mormon and a jew are apart because they are on a path to a unifying peak, it implies that the peak is neither mormonism nor judaism. That is what is wrong with using the analogy to describe the situation. Either faith will disagree with where the peak is and who has to do the most walking, and both churches will be adamant about being the peak, essentially.

In my experience, most religions (even the "infallible" Catholics") believe that they are paths to the peak. Believing any religion to be a peak itself is a nasty trap people fall into.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Parkour:
If you are saying that a mormon and a jew are apart because they are on a path to a unifying peak, it implies that the peak is neither mormonism nor judaism.

I'm comfortable not identifying the peak as Mormonism. I am also comfortable calling Mormonism a pathway up towards the peak. The religion instructs adherents to seek truth wherever they can find it, and so I look. The religion has also provided me with tools for discerning the truth, as well as a primer in some fundamental truths. The institution of Mormonism also provides opportunities for serving others. It's a fantastic package deal. So I adhere to it.
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MattP
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quote:
I'm comfortable not identifying the peak as Mormonism.
This may be quibbling a bit, but if the peak is not Mormonism, surely you believe that the Mormon Trail (the metaphorical one, not the real one) is the only one that gets you there and all of these other paths must at some point connect to it in order to reach the summit. Anything else would seem to go against all of that "one true church" stuff.
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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by Armoth:
quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
The last person in the world I'd trust is a religious law student trying to convince me the notions of proof we use to send people to prison is NOT sufficient to prove the existence of god. If such proof could be produced, which of course it couldn't.

El JT, I can't blame you for your rash judgments of me. I'd only urge you to see what you can learn from getting to know me better and see if your opinions change.
That part was a joke. Of course, the part after it made it appear as though it was serious. So, that one's on me. [Smile]
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kmbboots
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Matt, again not even Catholic belief that Catholicism - or even Christianity - is the only way to get there though theologically why that is gets a tad complicated.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'm also open to someone pointing out why the evidence I have for the original revelation is not compelling.
Forgive me, but I don't believe this. I've had this conversation with you.
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Orincoro
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Open to you pointing it out. Not open *to* it.
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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I'm also open to someone pointing out why the evidence I have for the original revelation is not compelling.
Forgive me, but I don't believe this. I've had this conversation with you.
You're saying because I don't agree that I'm not open to it?

Possible.

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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
I'm comfortable not identifying the peak as Mormonism.
This may be quibbling a bit, but if the peak is not Mormonism, surely you believe that the Mormon Trail (the metaphorical one, not the real one) is the only one that gets you there and all of these other paths must at some point connect to it in order to reach the summit. Anything else would seem to go against all of that "one true church" stuff.
We do believe that we have all of the ordinances necessary to return to God again, as well as the proper authority to perform those ordinances. We believe we have been given the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In that way, yes, the way to the peak has to be through Mormonism (through what the church offers as far as ordinances, insofar as the authority to perform them only resides in this church). However, we don't believe that we are the only ones with the truth and the mechanisms to find it.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Armoth:
The evidence that God revealed Himself through a particular doctrine - that's probably where we disagree.

Assuming both of you understand your religions appropriately, that's definitely where you disagree. And it's not the only terminal disconnect that hammers the paths-up-the-mountain analogy to death. There are myriad points of mutually exclusive contradiction in your faiths where the other's faith must necessarily be wrong about what they consider to be absolute fact. In order for both of your paths to be aligned to the same peak, one or both of your religions has to be horribly, horribly wrong. Neither of your religions is going to think it is them.

While I'm sure one or both of you might try to creatively work around this fact, there's no getting around it. You are not looking at the same 'paths' or the same 'peak.' You are two religions that consider themselves the best mechanism and interpretation of a deity and their will.

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I Used to Be a Drummer
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I think we've all known a few people, religious or otherwise, who were just loving, good, virtuous, etc....basically, a "good person" by most generic definitions of the word. The kind of person who is open-hearted, and makes everyone around them feel loved and accepted. The kind of person people enjoy being around, because they don't make people feel judged or hated.

In my experience, you can find these people in every religion, from Buddhist to Hindu to Muslim, Christian, etc..

Funny how you don't see a lot of those people trying to bash other religions or belief systems.


Here's a good story, stolen from Tolstoy:

"An Orthodox bishop is on an inspection tour of his diocese. He hears of three pious monks living on an island in a lake and takes a boat to visit them. The monks turn out to have no knowledge at all of Scripture and doctrine. Patiently the bishop seeks to teach them, but finally he has to settle only for teaching them the Lord’s Prayer; they are too simple to learn anything more.

The bishop departs with some doubt over the genuineness of their faith. As his boat leaves the island for the mainland, in the distance he sees three figures moving towards him. As they come closer he sees that they are the three monks from the island, running across the water to catch him.

The monks climb into the boat and admit that they have already forgotten the Lord’s Prayer. The bishop falls on his face before them and says that they are holier men than he is, for they truly are in God. They need not concern themselves with such matters as creeds and doctrines, for they already know God directly.

The three monks return to their island, still running on the water, and the bishop goes his way, realizing that to be in God is more than any intellectual understanding of Him."


I like the fact that you could substitute almost any religion in the story, with few changes, and it would still work.

Here is a link to a more complete version

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Funny how you don't see a lot of those people trying to bash other religions or belief systems.
There may be a bit of selection bias in here, mind. For one thing, it's highly possible that you would exclude someone who bashes other belief systems from your mental category of "open-minded," even if in every other way he was a very open-minded person.

That said, it's certainly true that one can be a good person regardless of faith (if any), and moreover that it's more important to be a good person than to adhere to a specific faith. But, hey, the humanists aren't paying me to make the case for them, so I won't. [Smile]

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I Used to Be a Drummer
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Funny how you don't see a lot of those people trying to bash other religions or belief systems.
There may be a bit of selection bias in here, mind. For one thing, it's highly possible that you would exclude someone who bashes other belief systems from your mental category of "open-minded," even if in every other way he was a very open-minded person.

That said, it's certainly true that one can be a good person regardless of faith (if any), and moreover that it's more important to be a good person than to adhere to a specific faith. But, hey, the humanists aren't paying me to make the case for them, so I won't. [Smile]

Actually, I'm not exactly saying that I think the essential quality I'm pointing at IS open-mindedness. Generally, making people NOT feel judged goes along with open-mindednes, but I'm really also pointing out simplicity and humility as parts of this unnamed virtue.

"The tao that can be named is not the tao..."

It's unnamed for a reason. Heh.

This reminds me of a passage from C.S. Lewis (heavily paraphrased) where he says that the most virtuous/Godly/etc. people, the ones that really get what spiritual lessons are about, usually don't talk about virtue/God/spirituality a lot. If pressed, they tend to put things very simply.

"It has no name. If forced to give it a name, I call it the Tao..."

Parts of the Bible are really quite Taoist, like Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

I submit that anyone who gets freaked out by me pointing out THAT similarity is not exactly displaying the virtue I'm indirectly pointing out.

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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Armoth:
The evidence that God revealed Himself through a particular doctrine - that's probably where we disagree. [/QUOTE/]

While I'm sure one or both of you might try to creatively work around this fact, there's no getting around it. You are not looking at the same 'paths' or the same 'peak.' You are two religions that consider themselves the best mechanism and interpretation of a deity and their will.

Seems like you just discounted everything I said. Okidoke.

Nope. Not being creative. Just saying it like it is. Not sure BB or Mormons see things the way I do AFR seems to be clear on that point, but definitely the Judaism I subscribe to sees it that way. And there is no denying that all Jews do not seek to convert and that many Jewish sources describe how people can fulfill their purpose through the following of the 7 Noahide commandments.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Armoth:
Seems like you just discounted everything I said. Okidoke.

No. You need to re-read my post. Your response isn't particularly relevant to it.
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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by Armoth:
Seems like you just discounted everything I said. Okidoke.

No. You need to re-read my post. Your response isn't particularly relevant to it.
I've reread. You are smarter than I am. Would you be so kind as to point out the part I am getting wrong?
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Samprimary
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"the Judaism [you] subscribe to" does not have a shared peak with mormonism. Nothing about conversion practices or the noahide laws is a relevant counterpoint to that, nor does it present a case that the analogy works.
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Foust
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I don't see how this peak metaphor is meant to cash out.

For example, what can you say to a Christian who says there is a cross, and only a cross, at the top of the peak?

I can only think of three responses.

1) You are mistaken. There is more than just a cross at the peak.
2) You are presumptuous. How could you know what is at the peak?
3) Your perspective is limited. You may only see a cross, but others see what their tradition teaches them to see.

However, all three responses fail. Our hypothetical Christian can respond as follows:

1) There is only-a-cross at the peak. The cross I believe in is only-a-cross; If you claim there is a-cross-plus-others, then we are not speaking about the same cross. In other words, the cross is exclusive by definition. One of us is wrong; there cannot both be only-a-cross and a-cross-plus-others.
2) Your skepticism leaves the door open for me to be correct; it is not actually a argument against a cross-only peak.
3) You are using irrational mystery to cover over a contradiction. My God is a rational mystery, free of true contradiction.

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Blayne Bradley
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In general I find it much easier to get along with people with similar political and religious (or lack thereof) belief as there seems to be a correlation in my social circles between being areligious/nonreligious and politically left leaning; people who are politically left leaning as such tend to be easier to get along with as there are many people who are politically right leaning that I've met on IRC and the like whose views are reprehensible.

A correlalery (sp?) to this being that left wing people can also have reprehensible views or otherwise be complete assholes but at least they aren't saying the only reason blacks vote democrat is because they are all on welfare or that white phosphorous should be used on OWS protesters. (This actually happened)

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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
"the Judaism [you] subscribe to" does not have a shared peak with mormonism. Nothing about conversion practices or the noahide laws is a relevant counterpoint to that, nor does it present a case that the analogy works.

That's BB's problem. The Mormonism that he subscribes to can share a peak with the Judaism that I subscribe to.
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