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Author Topic: Ghost stories and Spiritual resolve
King of Men
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quote:
Honestly, I think of them as both natural phenomena that we simply have not managed to explain but that, in the meantime, make a great many people feel at peace.
Wait, what about prayer and/or spells do you think is unexplained?
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
Scifi, I explained the gap in the two sentence below the quote.

No, I mean the other huge glaring difference. The one that fugu13 asked you about. The one that is inseparable from any common definition of "soul". Where it is something separable and distinct from your corpus.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
I'm not sure why you would presume that.
Because the majority of those sort of witches are deluded teens that eventually grow out of it. Presumably it's OK to suffer them to live. Or should I not presume that either?

EDIT: Also because BlackBlade said it was hard to define. "Wiccan" isn't a difficult definition, so I assumed he meant something else.

You're pretty close to my predicament Matt. Wiccan's call themselves witches, and there may be elements to their belief that skirt forbidden territory but I couldn't say right now.

Also interestingly enough the scripture about not suffering witches to live was rendered "murderer" when Joseph Smith took a look at it.

I'll try and do some deep thinking and put out how I feel about super natural elements, but again I stress it's one of those things that I have not gone very much out of my way to form opinions on.

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
The big huge glaring theological difference is that a spell is an attempt to wield power directly, while a prayer is a request made of someone else.
This just describes a difference between Magical spells and Clerical spells. It's just a matter of how you use the word.

Perhaps a better example is that of curses. A pagan curse and a christian curse are both curses, but one relies on magic, and one relies on God to comply with your request. It may be made in the form of prayer, but it's still a curse.

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TomDavidson
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And, of course, prior to a couple years ago, you needed to spend a couple hours every morning re-reading all the spells you expected to cast that day, whereas the religious could spend a roughly equivalent amount of time praying in advance for fairly minor and often oddly specific acts of divine intervention.
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aeolusdallas
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
)

This does not make one more "vulnerable" to believing nonsense. Informed human judgment can generally tell that things like gravity, souls, World War II, and duckbilled platypi seem to fit with what we know about the world in a way that werewolves and vampires do not.

One of these things is not like the other.....


quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
[QUOTE]You have a funny way of quantifying evidence.

How should I quantify it differently? Do you agree that observations I can make directly on my own (repeatedly if necessary) should be counted as "more evidence" than things I've simply heard or been told by others?
You would need verification from impartial third parties. Otherwise we would have to accept the ravings of every schizophrenic as true.

quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Christine:
The "spells" are basically prayers, dressed up in ritual.

The big huge glaring theological difference is that a spell is an attempt to wield power directly, while a prayer is a request made of someone else.
Aren't most spells more a request from spirits of place or ancestors for assistance? Than a direct attempt at wielding power?

[ October 24, 2009, 01:41 AM: Message edited by: aeolusdallas ]

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aeolusdallas
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
And, of course, prior to a couple years ago, you needed to spend a couple hours every morning re-reading all the spells you expected to cast that day, whereas the religious could spend a roughly equivalent amount of time praying in advance for fairly minor and often oddly specific acts of divine intervention.

You've gotta love progress
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Christine
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quote:
Aren't most spells more a request from spirits of place or ancestors for assistance? Than a direct attempt at wielding power?
I don't think anyone knows what "most spells" are like.
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aeolusdallas
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I meant as practiced by actual believers.
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Christine
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quote:
Originally posted by aeolusdallas:
I meant as practiced by actual believers.

So did I. [Smile]
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aeolusdallas
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You said I don't think anyone knows what "most spells" are like." I was asking what actual believers think spells are. Considering how metaphorical magic is in folklore and myth I think we can ask the question with some confidence as to what most spells are or are not.

I don't believe in magic, spirits , gods etc... but that doesn't mean I am not interested in the ideas behind them. I am pretty sure that as a general rule casting magic spells was an attempt at invoking aide from spirits of place or asking ones ancestors or the spirits of specific individuals for assistance. It was not usually an attempt to directly wield power as is done in fantasy books or games.

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Teshi
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quote:
Now that's a verse I'd never heard on Sunday morning! Is the translation funky or is that what it's supposed to say?
Read the Bible (whichever translation you wish) from cover to cover some day. You will be surprised what doesn't come up on Sunday morning.
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Christine
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quote:
Originally posted by aeolusdallas:
You said I don't think anyone knows what "most spells" are like." I was asking what actual believers think spells are. Considering how metaphorical magic is in folklore and myth I think we can ask the question with some confidence as to what most spells are or are not.

I don't believe in magic, spirits , gods etc... but that doesn't mean I am not interested in the ideas behind them. I am pretty sure that as a general rule casting magic spells was an attempt at invoking aide from spirits of place or asking ones ancestors or the spirits of specific individuals for assistance. It was not usually an attempt to directly wield power as is done in fantasy books or games.

No, it's not like it is in fantasy books or games. That much I can agree with. [Smile]

But as to the rest, I know what I said and I still stand by it. Even in real world magic, whether you believe in it or not, I do not believe that anyone can say with confidence what most people are attempting to do, whether they are attempting to invoke aid or wield power.

The reason I say this is because despite the recent popularity of "New Age" religions, most spells and magic use is something that is secret or at least private. It is this way because at best, people ridicule it and at worse, they consider it wrong or evil.

I also say this because there are a great many magical traditions around the world, no two of which are exactly alike, and there has been very little actual study of these in any kind of impartial or academic way. Actually, if anyone has done this, I'd love to know because I've been trying to make a study of world religions and practices over the past few months and I am very interested in this.

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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by aeolusdallas:
I am pretty sure that as a general rule casting magic spells was an attempt at invoking aide from spirits of place or asking ones ancestors or the spirits of specific individuals for assistance. It was not usually an attempt to directly wield power as is done in fantasy books or games.

From a Google search "Wicca" "what is magic":
First result (skipping a spam ad page): "As Witches we cast spells and use magic to our advantage or for the advantage of those around us. This is done by manipulating the forces of the universe to gain what we seek."

Next result (skipping selling-things pages): "Magick is another word for transformation, creation, and manifestation. Wicca magick is a tool we use to act on the subtle - or energy, or quantum - level of reality. "

The Wiki articles on Wicca and Magic also disagree with you.

Plus the good old Aleister Crowley definition of "magick" - "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will."

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FriendlyNeighborhoodWitch
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I am so glad that I read through to the second page. For awhile there, it sounded as though you folks had decided that I didn't exist!

Really, this is poor form for me to be tardy to a conversation about Wicca or witchcraft when it's so close to Samhain. I apologize.

quote:
Originally posted by dkw:

From a Google search "Wicca" "what is magic":
First result (skipping a spam ad page): "As Witches we cast spells and use magic to our advantage or for the advantage of those around us. This is done by manipulating the forces of the universe to gain what we seek."

Next result (skipping selling-things pages): "Magick is another word for transformation, creation, and manifestation. Wicca magick is a tool we use to act on the subtle - or energy, or quantum - level of reality. "

The problem with running a Google search on what Wiccans see as magic is that there are multiple traditions of Wicca (much to Gardenarian Wiccan's chagrin) much as there are different sects of Christianity. What one believes is magic or what they do or call upon to help them in spell-craft is not necessarily what another person who is also Wiccan might believe. I can tell you what it is or means to me, but not even all spells are performed the same, call upon the same sources depending on what the intended goal is, the time of year, or heck, the time of month!

It sounds like a lot of you are on the right track for identifying how some (but not all-a lot of Wiccans are very quick to deny that our religion is anything like mainstream religions) Wiccans view their own religion. I can tell you that from my point of view, spells are very often (but not always) no different than prayers in purpose, although I have prayed as well and feel it's an undervalued act in Wicca. Rituals are usually more akin to say Christmas Mass or church on Easter Sunday.

An example: When I pray I am talking directly to the God and Goddess-it's a direct open line from me to them. When I am performing a ritual with my coven it is often in celebration of a hand-fasting (marriage), saining (much like a christening or baptism), or a holiday, like Samhain or Beltaine. When I am performing a spell, I am either asking the God and Goddess (or other acting power, which is where it gets more complicated) to act on my behalf or to grant me the power to do something. The 'something' may be as simple as to have strength to do well in an interview or as complicated as asking for protection from someone else.

quote:
Originally posted by MattP:

Because the majority of those sort of witches are deluded teens that eventually grow out of it.

This was a really disappointing thing to hear you say. That's very much like if I said that most 'Born Again' Christian teens would eventually grow out of their love for their God. Although I acknowledge that a large number of verbose Wiccans are teenagers, perhaps the 'growing out of it' that you are seeing is simply them 'growing up' and realizing that they are perhaps not being the best spokespeople for a religion they want other people to respect.

Just sayin'.

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Christine
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quote:
Originally posted by FriendlyNeighborhoodWitch:

quote:
Originally posted by dkw:

From a Google search "Wicca" "what is magic":
First result (skipping a spam ad page): "As Witches we cast spells and use magic to our advantage or for the advantage of those around us. This is done by manipulating the forces of the universe to gain what we seek."

Next result (skipping selling-things pages): "Magick is another word for transformation, creation, and manifestation. Wicca magick is a tool we use to act on the subtle - or energy, or quantum - level of reality. "

The problem with running a Google search on what Wiccans see as magic is that there are multiple traditions of Wicca (much to Gardenarian Wiccan's chagrin) much as there are different sects of Christianity. What one believes is magic or what they do or call upon to help them in spell-craft is not necessarily what another person who is also Wiccan might believe. I can tell you what it is or means to me, but not even all spells are performed the same, call upon the same sources depending on what the intended goal is, the time of year, or heck, the time of month!

This was the point I was trying to make when I saw that I doubted anyone knew what "most spells" were like. Aside from the different traditions of Wicca, there are also other traditions around the world that incorporate spells in their religion. But even if we just look at Wicca, one of the numerous traditions is that of the solitary practitioner, in which case each individual may have a slightly different take on things.

quote:
quote:Originally posted by MattP:

Because the majority of those sort of witches are deluded teens that eventually grow out of it.

This was a really disappointing thing to hear you say. That's very much like if I said that most 'Born Again' Christian teens would eventually grow out of their love for their God. Although I acknowledge that a large number of verbose Wiccans are teenagers, perhaps the 'growing out of it' that you are seeing is simply them 'growing up' and realizing that they are perhaps not being the best spokespeople for a religion they want other people to respect.

I'm not sure how many people see Wicca as a religion. [Frown]

[ October 25, 2009, 10:30 AM: Message edited by: Christine ]

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TomDavidson
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I think Wicca, as an intentional religion, is roughly on par with Kwanzaa as an intentional holiday; because it didn't grow organically out of the culture, it'll take a couple more generations before the majority will take it seriously.
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scholarette
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My sister in law is not a teenager. She is a married adult with a master's degree and a house, currently working on her phd (history, specifically looking at scientific advances and how they affect things).
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BelladonnaOrchid
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I think Wicca, as an intentional religion, is roughly on par with Kwanzaa as an intentional holiday; because it didn't grow organically out of the culture, it'll take a couple more generations before the majority will take it seriously.

In how other people view Wicca, I think that this is dead on. I find it extremely unfortunate, but can only do my part to help other people understand my religion and correct misunderstandings when I see them.

quote:
Originally posted by scholarette:
My sister in law is not a teenager. She is a married adult with a master's degree and a house, currently working on her phd (history, specifically looking at scientific advances and how they affect things).

It's good to hear that. [Smile] People are often surprised to find out that my husband and I are Wiccan. We are, after all, seemingly well-adjusted adults. It has to do with that mis-conception that was discussed above.

[ October 25, 2009, 06:22 PM: Message edited by: BelladonnaOrchid ]

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MattP
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quote:
My sister in law is not a teenager.
Then she's clearly not a member of group that I identified. Most of the Wiccans I've met were teens that were more role-playing than practicing a religion. I don't mean to demean Wicca itself. I think it's as real as any religion and does have committed adherents.

My real point was that I could hardly see these faux-pagan teens being the sort of witch who's deeds would be worthy of death per the admonition in the Bible.

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Christine
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I think Wicca, as an intentional religion, is roughly on par with Kwanzaa as an intentional holiday; because it didn't grow organically out of the culture, it'll take a couple more generations before the majority will take it seriously.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say "grow organically out of the culture." I've tried to draft a couple of responses to this but in each one I realize I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at, so I'll just see if I can get a clarification before adding more thoughts.

quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
My sister in law is not a teenager.
Then she's clearly not a member of group that I identified. Most of the Wiccans I've met were teens that were more role-playing than practicing a religion. I don't mean to demean Wicca itself. I think it's as real as any religion and does have committed adherents.

My real point was that I could hardly see these faux-pagan teens being the sort of witch who's deeds would be worthy of death per the admonition in the Bible.

I've run into two distinct subgroups in this case. The first is the teens you've mentioned and I don't think they understand what they're doing. I doubt very much that they're even looking for a religion so much as real-life magic.

The other subgroup are actually adults -- typically thirties and forties -- who are looking for an alternative spiritual path.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'm not sure what you mean when you say "grow organically out of the culture." I've tried to draft a couple of responses to this but in each one I realize I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at, so I'll just see if I can get a clarification before adding more thoughts.
I mean, speaking bluntly, Wicca in its current form was pretty much invented out of whole cloth within our lifetimes to achieve a certain purpose and somewhat awkwardly grafted onto slightly Bowdlerized older traditions to give it a sense of weight and historic legitimacy. The same thing happened with Kwanzaa.

That's not to say that the practice of Wicca has no value, or that the observation of Kwanzaa lacks value, either. It's just that both those things are recent enough that their intentionality is obvious to the casual observer, which prevents people from perceiving them as fully "traditional." Religions and holidays both benefit enormously from a glossy veneer of tradition. Generally it takes a generation or two from the death of the founder(s) for people to forget where they came from.

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Eaquae Legit
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quote:
Originally posted by aeolusdallas:
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Christine:
The "spells" are basically prayers, dressed up in ritual.

The big huge glaring theological difference is that a spell is an attempt to wield power directly, while a prayer is a request made of someone else.
Aren't most spells more a request from spirits of place or ancestors for assistance? Than a direct attempt at wielding power?
Pre-Englightenment, Christians cast "spells" with no apparent contradiction with their faith. They did not see themselves as consorting with demons, but rather teasing out the hidden structures and forces of the universe and manipulating them. It was heavily based on the first chapter of John's Gospel, where God is described as the Word. Words, used correctly, could tap into the divine echoes in the universe and effect results. It wasn't prayer, but it wasn't calling on demons either.

And until a bunch of English Restorationists got their knickers in a twist about it all, it was perfectly okay and Christian. We get our ideas about demon-magic and the separation of signifier from signified from them.

And having learned all this, I find myself with more sympathy for wiccans who can't understand why Christians keep telling them they worship demons.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Eaquae Legit:
quote:
Originally posted by aeolusdallas:
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Christine:
The "spells" are basically prayers, dressed up in ritual.

The big huge glaring theological difference is that a spell is an attempt to wield power directly, while a prayer is a request made of someone else.
Aren't most spells more a request from spirits of place or ancestors for assistance? Than a direct attempt at wielding power?
Pre-Englightenment, Christians cast "spells" with no apparent contradiction with their faith. They did not see themselves as consorting with demons, but rather teasing out the hidden structures and forces of the universe and manipulating them. It was heavily based on the first chapter of John's Gospel, where God is described as the Word. Words, used correctly, could tap into the divine echoes in the universe and effect results. It wasn't prayer, but it wasn't calling on demons either.

And until a bunch of English Restorationists got their knickers in a twist about it all, it was perfectly okay and Christian. We get our ideas about demon-magic and the separation of signifier from signified from them.

And having learned all this, I find myself with more sympathy for wiccans who can't understand why Christians keep telling them they worship demons.

Christianity both previous to Christ's advent and immediately afterward had nothing to do with "casting spells." The only significant with words has to do with invoking the name of Christ as mediator in addressing the Father of creation in prayer. Beyond that you could argue that sacraments and rituals attached an importance to certain words for their symbolic value. Certainly apostates incorporated superstition into Christianity thus bastardizing it but the text does not support those practices.

Again, Christianity does not attach importance to words in accomplishing difficult tasks, rather in having the faith and will to accomplish it.

-------

As for my views on ghosts and witches. I personally feel spirits and those who seek to commune with them are abroad on the earth. Organized religion and science to a great extent have dwindled their numbers but I do not think they will ever be completely eradicated. I don't feel compelled in anyway to either seek out communion with spirits or to find those who whisper with them. Christians are supposed to avoid those things and stamp them out in their own households but they don't need to go idol smashing or witch hunting, those calls are simply not found in the New Testament or anything written since then. The Old Testament verse about "not suffering a witch to live" according to my beliefs is a mistranslation.

I believe I have seen people become possessed by spirits, I also feel I have felt the presence of spirits from the other side. I believe it's possible there may be natural laws outside science and what even organized religion have thus far described, but as far as God and I are concerned there are reasons I should not seek to learn them.

That's essentially the crux of my belief in the super natural.

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MattP
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quote:
Again, Christianity does not attach importance to words in accomplishing difficult tasks, rather in having the faith and will to accomplish it.
This seems at odds with the rigidity of certain LDS ordinances where a single mis-spoken word may render the ordinance invalid.
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Samprimary
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how did science significantly reduce the number of ghosts on the earth?
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Samprimary
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it wasn't these guys, was it?
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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Informed human judgment can generally tell that things like gravity, souls, World War II, and duckbilled platypi seem to fit with what we know about the world in a way that werewolves and vampires do not.
Heh. I see how you snuck "souls" in there.
Don't worry, the rest of us did as well. [Wink]
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Christine
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I'm not sure what you mean when you say "grow organically out of the culture." I've tried to draft a couple of responses to this but in each one I realize I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at, so I'll just see if I can get a clarification before adding more thoughts.
I mean, speaking bluntly, Wicca in its current form was pretty much invented out of whole cloth within our lifetimes to achieve a certain purpose and somewhat awkwardly grafted onto slightly Bowdlerized older traditions to give it a sense of weight and historic legitimacy. The same thing happened with Kwanzaa.

That's not to say that the practice of Wicca has no value, or that the observation of Kwanzaa lacks value, either. It's just that both those things are recent enough that their intentionality is obvious to the casual observer, which prevents people from perceiving them as fully "traditional." Religions and holidays both benefit enormously from a glossy veneer of tradition. Generally it takes a generation or two from the death of the founder(s) for people to forget where they came from.

I thought that's where you were going, but I wasn't entirely sure. It is true that Wicca is new (early 20th century, which is slightly longer than my lifetime but not much). From what I can tell it draws on a number of traditions, many of which are generously reinterpreted. I don't believe it was invented whole cloth because I don't think anything is invented out of nothing. Every religion I've ever heard of draws on what came before if for no other reason than because, in filling a need that does not already exist, it must at least separate itself in significant ways from current traditions.

The origin and spread of religion is something I find very interesting. I'm coming to the conclusion that a religion's specific origins are not as important as other factors in determining its spread and popularity. The origin of many religions come with a certain amount of, "Really?" Yet they spread...usually over centuries. It's the spread I find more interesting, and I admit that there's something intangible there that I'm not quite understanding. I remember reading a book on the history of the LDS church (yeah, I know I'm outnumber and I'm about to stick my foot in [Smile] ), just trying to figure out what the appeal was both historically and presently. And I'm picking on that one because as a religion it has come out of its infancy relatively recently and is rapidly gaining acceptance (although not by everyone I know).

Right now I'm seeing a trend of new religions trying to distance themselves from Christianity in certain significant ways. I think the most successful of these at the moment is atheism, though you'd be hard-pressed to get *them* to acknowledge it as a religion, let alone anyone else. [Smile]

But I've also been noticing a large number of people who, while unsatisfied with Christianity, still want to believe in something. I'm one of these people, as a matter of fact, but over the last year or so I've been more and more relieved to find out I am significantly not alone.

So I'm curious what the next new thing will be and hoping very much it won't be Scientology. [Smile]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I've also been noticing a large number of people who, while unsatisfied with Christianity, still want to believe in something. I'm one of these people, as a matter of fact...
May I ask why you feel the desire to believe in something supernatural?
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Christine
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I've also been noticing a large number of people who, while unsatisfied with Christianity, still want to believe in something. I'm one of these people, as a matter of fact...
May I ask why you feel the desire to believe in something supernatural?
Belief is such a strong word. I prefer to have ideas because then I can change them when it feels right. As far as supernatural or godly things go, I don't know that I'm ready to embrace any specific ideas but I do know that I'm not at peace and that I feel there is something out there. So I've been reading. And I'm not close to done reading so I'm reluctant to commit to much of anything. The most I can say is that I started meditating, which is something I find very relaxing and I can't argue with results. [Smile]
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TomDavidson
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Oh, I'm all for meditating. I meditate, myself. [Smile]
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BlackBlade
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MattP: That isn't because the words themselves are imbued with power, but for the sake of maintaining order and consistency throughout the church, not because if they were said any other way they would then be invalid. Foreign translations of the ordinances would likely have some differences in grammar, and yet their effectiveness is not lost.

If you look at our ordinances as a whole, it is more often the case than not that an ordinance will be different every time. Blessing a baby, conferring the Holy Ghost, healing the sick, dedicating temples, marrying, etc. While all of those have similar beginnings, (invoking the name of Christ, performing the ordinance by the authority of the priesthood) they are still specific to the individual in that all of those have a sizable portion allotted to being guided by the Holy Ghost into exhorting, prophesying, promising, etc, all to the individual.

----

Samprimary: I said "Spirits and those who seek to commune with them." I placed them in a group together. Even if it's just the spirit talkers who decrease, that in of itself reduces how often spirits have occasion to manifest themselves. I don't think science actually reduces the number of spirits in the world, but it does reduce the number of people who might seek to explain the unexplained through spirituality, by providing an alternate often correct perspective.

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Tresopax
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quote:
Tres: tell me, in what way did you experience it not being part of your physical body?
Experience itself isn't physical by nature, in a way similar to how I know that the number seven is not made of clay. That's just not what it is.

However, it is possible that the seat of experience is inseparably linked to something physical. OSC's auia is a good example - its a physical particle that seems to possess the property of being a soul.

quote:
No, I mean the other huge glaring difference. The one that fugu13 asked you about. The one that is inseparable from any common definition of "soul". Where it is something separable and distinct from your corpus.
Being distinct from the body is part of my definition. Being separable from the body is not. See the above example of the auia, which is a physical thing. Or for instance, Aristotle did not believe the soul was separable from the body. ("The soul does not exist without a body and yet is not itself a kind of body. For it is not a body, but something which belongs to a body, and for this reason exists in a body, and in a body of such-and-such a kind" -Aristotle)

I do believe the soul is likely separable from the body, but I don't think it by definition must be.

[ October 26, 2009, 11:28 AM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Christine:
...
So I'm curious what the next new thing will be and hoping very much it won't be Scientology. [Smile]

I'm hoping that it won't be another Taiping (a Chinese adaptation of Christianity in the way that Mormonism is an American adaptation of Christianity).

I wonder if that kind of explosive growth in religion is even possible these days in China with increased access to education and communication, but it still is worrisome.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Samprimary: I said "Spirits and those who seek to commune with them." I placed them in a group together. Even if it's just the spirit talkers who decrease, that in of itself reduces how often spirits have occasion to manifest themselves. I don't think science actually reduces the number of spirits in the world, but it does reduce the number of people who might seek to explain the unexplained through spirituality, by providing an alternate often correct perspective.

By an 'alternate perspective,' since science is not going to make the claim "there are no spirits" that scientific research of paranormal claims has shown people who claim to have the ability to talk to or sense spirits are most likely either frauds or have susceptibility to fantastical interpretation of events and otherwise mundane sensory phenomena due to tendencies towards a fantasy-prone personality?
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Samprimary: I said "Spirits and those who seek to commune with them." I placed them in a group together. Even if it's just the spirit talkers who decrease, that in of itself reduces how often spirits have occasion to manifest themselves. I don't think science actually reduces the number of spirits in the world, but it does reduce the number of people who might seek to explain the unexplained through spirituality, by providing an alternate often correct perspective.

By an 'alternate perspective,' since science is not going to make the claim "there are no spirits" that scientific research of paranormal claims has shown people who claim to have the ability to talk to or sense spirits are most likely either frauds or have susceptibility to fantastical interpretation of events and otherwise mundane sensory phenomena due to tendencies towards a fantasy-prone personality?
OK, I guess I'm not following where we disagree.
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Raymond Arnold
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Your point seemed to be "science reduces people's propensity for looking to spiritual explanations, ergo reduces the effect spirits can have on the world."

Sam's point seems to be "science so far has merely shown that any spirit talker who has come under serious scrutiny has been proven to be a fraud, ergo the number of spirit talkers isn't decreasing, merely the number of fake spirit talkers."

If spirit talkers DID exist in any meaningful numbers, I'd think that debunking the large number of frauds would make us more able to honestly connect with the remaining "genuine" ones.

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BlackBlade
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Raymond: See I thought I was making Samprimary's point and in addition to that making the statement that science creates a critical mindset where people are less likely to look to spirits or those who claim to speak to them as much.
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King of Men
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quote:
Being distinct from the body is part of my definition.
But you must know, although probably not by personal experience, that consciousness can be damaged in very specific, repeatable ways by damaging parts of the brain. What sort of "distinct" entity is it that responds so exactly to damage to the entity it is supposed to be distinct from?
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Tresopax
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My light is distinct from my light switch on the wall, but if you smash the light switch, the light won't turn on. My computer is distinct from the software on it, but if you damage the computer, the software won't work either. The music emitted by my radio is distinct from the radio signal, but if you disrupt the signal it will correspondingly disrupt the music. Etc.
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TomDavidson
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So your argument is that the person whose personality is fundamentally changed by, say, a chemical imbalance has a secret, separate personality that remains unchanged somewhere?
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King of Men
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quote:
My computer is distinct from the software on it, but if you damage the computer, the software won't work either.
And if that were the only copy of the software, anywhere, then where is the distinct software after you've smashed the computer? Somewhere in idea-space? In fact the software isn't distinct at all: It exists as a magnetic pattern on the computer's hard drive, or as the case may be, in its memory. There is nothing separate from the plain movements of electrons.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Raymond: See I thought I was making Samprimary's point and in addition to that making the statement that science creates a critical mindset where people are less likely to look to spirits or those who claim to speak to them as much.

More important than the 'critical mindset' is the practical basis for that mindset. What science does is test testable claims. Whenever a person who claims to be able to talk to spirits either steps out into (or gets caught in) a situation where their claims can be tested, it pretty much always turns out that they are either a huckster, or they earnestly interpret mundane experiences as supernatural influence due to a propensity for fantastical interpretation of the world around them. Everyone who assumes they can see souls or spirits or ghosts or whatever and earnestly believes it should understand based on the human propensity for inventing certainty that the odds are they're just victims of the same process, but reliably trend towards assuming some special case on their own behalf.
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Tresopax
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quote:
In fact the software isn't distinct at all: It exists as a magnetic pattern on the computer's hard drive, or as the case may be, in its memory. There is nothing separate from the plain movements of electrons.
That's exactly my point: Software and hardware are distinct in spite of the fact that the software originates from the hardware. Therefore, two things can be distinct even if one originates entirely from the other.

I don't know if the soul originates entirely from the body in that way, but it is within the realm of possibilities.

quote:
So your argument is that the person whose personality is fundamentally changed by, say, a chemical imbalance has a secret, separate personality that remains unchanged somewhere?
No, I don't believe having a soul means one has a set personality. Clearly nobody has a set, unchanging personality.
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Raymond Arnold
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Tres, are you making any particular effort to separate the words "mind" and "soul?" If you're merely trying to prove the existence of the mind, we already believe you, and you shouldn't be using such loaded terminology.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Raymond: See I thought I was making Samprimary's point and in addition to that making the statement that science creates a critical mindset where people are less likely to look to spirits or those who claim to speak to them as much.

More important than the 'critical mindset' is the practical basis for that mindset. What science does is test testable claims. Whenever a person who claims to be able to talk to spirits either steps out into (or gets caught in) a situation where their claims can be tested, it pretty much always turns out that they are either a huckster, or they earnestly interpret mundane experiences as supernatural influence due to a propensity for fantastical interpretation of the world around them. Everyone who assumes they can see souls or spirits or ghosts or whatever and earnestly believes it should understand based on the human propensity for inventing certainty that the odds are they're just victims of the same process, but reliably trend towards assuming some special case on their own behalf.
True much of the time, but I also think that people who dabble seriously into communication with spirits do not seek out publicity or skeptical scientists.
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Eaquae Legit
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by Eaquae Legit:
quote:
Originally posted by aeolusdallas:
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Christine:
The "spells" are basically prayers, dressed up in ritual.

The big huge glaring theological difference is that a spell is an attempt to wield power directly, while a prayer is a request made of someone else.
Aren't most spells more a request from spirits of place or ancestors for assistance? Than a direct attempt at wielding power?
Pre-Englightenment, Christians cast "spells" with no apparent contradiction with their faith. They did not see themselves as consorting with demons, but rather teasing out the hidden structures and forces of the universe and manipulating them. It was heavily based on the first chapter of John's Gospel, where God is described as the Word. Words, used correctly, could tap into the divine echoes in the universe and effect results. It wasn't prayer, but it wasn't calling on demons either.

And until a bunch of English Restorationists got their knickers in a twist about it all, it was perfectly okay and Christian. We get our ideas about demon-magic and the separation of signifier from signified from them.

And having learned all this, I find myself with more sympathy for wiccans who can't understand why Christians keep telling them they worship demons.

Christianity both previous to Christ's advent and immediately afterward had nothing to do with "casting spells." The only significant with words has to do with invoking the name of Christ as mediator in addressing the Father of creation in prayer. Beyond that you could argue that sacraments and rituals attached an importance to certain words for their symbolic value. Certainly apostates incorporated superstition into Christianity thus bastardizing it but the text does not support those practices.

Again, Christianity does not attach importance to words in accomplishing difficult tasks, rather in having the faith and will to accomplish it.

Some Christian denominations do not attach special importance to words, but some do. The Catholic and Orthodox traditions, for example, require very specific formulae (with some leeway for translation) for the sacraments. Alteration of the formulae beyond the accepted norm renders the sacrament invalid. These are NOT symbolic. The words and actions are entelechial. It's one of the few places where the pre-Enlightenment theories of language has been retained.

This theory of language is very, very old, and we can see its roots in ancient Greece, even. It was common and accepted in biblical times, and continued to be so until the 1660s (roughly). In that way, it wasn't a corruption. The modern theory of symbolic (non-entelechial) language can be very solidly pinpointed to a specific movement in England.

We have little evidence for early Jesus-followers developing and using magical language, but we have solid evidence for its presence at the time and no evidence against. Indeed, John's identification of God as the Word is suggestive that he was familiar with entelechial language theories, and depending on whose history/theology you trust, it was used during baptisms and the feast of the Lord's Supper. It wasn't an alternate theory, it was THE theory of language.

You can argue, with the Enlightenment Anglicans, that understanding and using language in such a way is non-Christian (or simply ineffective and silly), but for the first 1700 years or so, it was just the way things were. It was Christian, it was devout, and it was okay with nearly every faction of Christianity. When you say "Christianity does this" or "Christianity does not do that" you have to be careful, because some do or don't, and if you exclude them as Christian, you give them grounds to do the same to you, which I know is a common irritation for many LDS folks.

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MattP
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quote:
The Catholic and Orthodox traditions, for example, require very specific formulae (with some leeway for translation) for the sacraments. Alteration of the formulae beyond the accepted norm renders the sacrament invalid.
And this is also true, at least in the popular mindset, for Mormons. I've heard the following conversation more than once:

Mormon 1: Did you see <movie with Mormons in it>? I can't believe they did a real <certain Mormon ordinance>!

Mormon 2: It's OK, they didn't say <a few words of that ordinance> so it wasn't real.

Perhaps it's not a doctrinally valid concern. I don't really know.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
True much of the time, but I also think that people who dabble seriously into communication with spirits do not seek out publicity or skeptical scientists.

They don't need to to change the fundamental nature of why they think they can communicate with spirits.
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