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William G
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BuckBeaver wrote:
William G wrote:
Religion is like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus... something good for teaching kids how to behave that you should then stop believing in once you get old enough to think for yourself.

I don't personally subscribe to the simplistic "fairy tale" approach to religion that many religious folk do, but still I think that casually lumping Judism, Islam, Christianity, etc. in with Santa Claus in the Easter Bunny is awfully insulting to a lot of people William.

Well, I was going to call it a form of mental disease...

Quote:

William G wrote:
One could just as easily say that they came to the conclusion that there is no god due to strenuous scientific method.

But then what is "god" supposed to be anyway? An old, omnipotent man in the sky with a white beard? Somehow I doubt it. But what about the possibility of God as a metaphor for the universe as a whole? That's the idea that intrigues me.

One of the main definitions of God is that God possess intelligence, that's why he, she, or it creates things. This metaphor implies that the universe itself is intelligent... and since we're part of the universe, we share that divinity.

Is that your idea?

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Frankly, I'm impressed that no real name-calling has begun yet and I hope it remains this way.

Neener neener.
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BuckBeaver
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, that's sort of it.

I've always viewed religion from a metaphorical standpoint. I don't know that the specific details of any one belief system are as important as the underlying themes and issues that system is trying to address. And the closer you look at most belief systems the more you realize that everyone is essentially trying to solve the same basic problems; trying to understand the nature of the universe.

What is really fascinating to me is the similarities (not the differences) that exist between different belief systems. For example, look at the Judeo-Christian creation myth and the big bang. Now it's fairly obvious that the world was not created in six days (with apologies to Creationists who, let's face it, have got a lot of dinosaur bones to explain away), but there are still some striking similarities between the "genesis" story and the "big bang" theory. Both tackle the same question - how did the universe get here - and in both accounts the basic "story" is remarkably similar. The same goes for many other culture's creation myths. The details differ but the underlying ideas and themes are very much the same.

One would hope that someday we (meaning the world at large) will finally learn to use the similarities between opposing belief systems as the basis for building better understanding of one and other.
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BuckBeaver wrote:
(with apologies to Creationists who, let's face it, have got a lot of dinosaur bones to explain away)

They have a good go at it, though:
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By the way, the Flood of Noah's day probably occurred just over 4,500 years ago. Creationists believe that this event formed many of the fossil layers around the Earth. (Additional fossil layers were formed by other floods as the Earth settled down after the great Flood.) Thus, the dinosaur fossils which were formed as a result of this Flood were probably formed about 4,500 years ago, not millions of years ago.

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Connor Moran
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

William G wrote:
One could just as easily say that they came to the conclusion that there is no god due to strenuous scientific method.


Respectfully, no. One could not say so. The scientific method is an emprical system, reliant on a methodology that requires repeatable experimentation to support or not support a given claim. The active belief or non-belief in a god (or gods, or souls, or any similar supernatural phenomenon) lies in the relm of metaphysical truth. One either belives in god (or gods, et cetera) or one does not. Since there is no demonstrable, repeatable way of proving or disproving the existence of any of these things, the only "scientific" answer to the question "Is there a God?" is "I don't know."

This is one of the fundamental limitations of science. When faced with questions about the non-physical, non-observable, non-repeatable elements of the world, it cannot come up with an answer. This is why we need all modes of truth, metaphysical as well as empirical.
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zerofoks
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

William G wrote:
One could just as easily say that they came to the conclusion that there is no god due to strenuous scientific method.


I thought we got over this issue since Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason"?!
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zerofoks
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greg Stephens wrote:
That is a system. Atheism has no such thing.


Sure it has. There is materialistic atheism (prevalent in Marxism/Leninism), existentialistic atheism, methodological atheism, etc. You may not subscribe to any such a system but neither does the Christian who does not count himself to any major organized denomination.
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zerofoks
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greg Stephens wrote:
So long as we're still on shaky ground so far as terminology is concerned, it's worth mentioning that many people don't "believe" there is a God, but rather they "know" there is a God. Likewise, many people "know" there isn't a god.


"Knowledge" is based on the possibility of falsifying or verfiying your assumptions. In recent philosophical discourse, this has been extended to the demand to make the results of such processes to be exchangable between subjects. I.e. I can prove to you that the atomic weight of hydrogen is 1,008 amu (which of course goes back to the whole theory of the axiomatic of scientific "belief") but I cannot prove to you that God "exists".
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

zerofoks wrote:
Greg Stephens wrote:
That is a system. Atheism has no such thing.


Sure it has. There is materialistic atheism (prevalent in Marxism/Leninism), existentialistic atheism, methodological atheism, etc. You may not subscribe to any such a system but neither does the Christian who does not count himself to any major organized denomination.

Fair enough- There are systems that include atheism in their system. Atheism itself, however, is not a system. Neither, for that matter, is theism, which is what you get when one believes in God or a god or many gods, but doesn't practice any particular religion. Theism and atheism are non-systemic beliefs. Christianity and Marxism are systematic social organizations. Atheism has no system in the same way that atheism does not imply Marxism, even though Marxism does imply atheism.
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zerofoks
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greg Stephens wrote:
Theism and atheism are non-systemic beliefs.


If you require "systems" to be social constructs. But let's not get into that.
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Doc MacDougal
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wait, where else would systems of beliefs come from?
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 9:24 am    Post subject: Church for Atheists? Reply with quote

Doc MacDougal wrote:
Unless there's an institutional Church of Atheism that I haven't heard of, it seems silly to call atheism an organised religion.


This is about as close to a church for nonbelievers as you can get...

http://www.atheistsunited.org/
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Merlin
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

> But what about the possibility of God as a metaphor for the universe as
> a whole?

I don't think there's a need for a metaphor there. For me God is exactly that - the universe viewed as a whole. Infinitely complex, all powerfull and all knowing (containing as it does, all power and all knowledge).

This is kind of a recent realisation for me, so I'm still working on rebuilding my personal cosmology around it (and in fact there's a chunk of Externality that mirrors my developing thoughts around the idea).
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Amerigo
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 10:45 am    Post subject: Advil time... Reply with quote

Pass the Advil. I think it's safe to say that the adage that politics, religion, and polite conversation don't mix is a good starting point. It's refreshing that this thread is so civil...

I always liked George Carlin's theory about the "giant electron"....

Anyway - I think that a good point here is that pagans are a widely mis-undertood and incredibly diverse bunch - We are talking about hundreds and maybe thousands of different belief systems.

That's what religion is - a belief system or tradition. Believing or knowing are often the same thing unless you really do want to argue semantics all day(ex. I believe, for example, that the Earth is round. I might also say that I KNOW that the Earth is round but have never been into space to see for myself).
I think it's safe to say that most agnostic, atheistic, and 'pagan'(for lack of a better word - we are talking about many groups here, pagan simply meaning 'not judeo-christian' in this context) groups are not the 'antithesis' of organized judeo-christian religion, which is what I think the start of this discussion was about. Rather they are simply alternative belief/tradition systems.

"Well there ain't no time to wonder why... WHOOPPEEE!! We're all gonna' die..."
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Eric F Myers
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can know the Earth is round without leaving the ground. Stand on the beach and watch a ship sail off. See a car drive the opposite way while you're in your car. There is horizon. There are facts to support the claim of planets being round. Do you love your family? I do not beief that I love my wife and family, I know it. If you asked me to prove it I don't think that could. Gestures and words aren't enough to measure love. Nor can you measure someone's belief in God.
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At least not without a really big ruler.
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Connor Moran
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greg Stephens wrote:
At least not without a really big ruler.


Like Taft?

(badump bump)
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Doc MacDougal
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Connor Moran wrote:
Like Taft?


When I'm facing a really tricky ethical dilemma, I like to ask myself WWWHTD?
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zerofoks
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doc MacDougal wrote:
Wait, where else would systems of beliefs come from?


I'd recommend Niklas Luhmann's "Einf?hrung in die Systemtheorie" but I don't believe it's widely available in an english translation.

Explaining it would be a bit too off-topic. You can read up on it @ the Wikipedia article on him, though.
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zerofoks
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

efm wrote:
You can know the Earth is round without leaving the ground. Stand on the beach and watch a ship sail off. See a car drive the opposite way while you're in your car. There is horizon. There are facts to support the claim of planets being round. Do you love your family? I do not beief that I love my wife and family, I know it. If you asked me to prove it I don't think that could. Gestures and words aren't enough to measure love. Nor can you measure someone's belief in God.


That is somehow wrong. You infer that the earth is round based on your observations, but that inference is merely inductive, it has none of the certainty that knowledge should have. And even if you were to cross the whole planet, you would still not know it because if you go from A to B you do not know whether A has changed by the time you have reached B. There are facts that support the claim that the earth is round, true. But there are none that prove it.

And the assertion that you know your feelings is very dubious, too. To speak with Wittgenstein, what do you mean when you say "I know that I am in pain"? You mean that you are feeling pain and no more than that, there is absolutely no basis of knowledge that you are in fact in pain.
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BuckBeaver
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greg Stephens wrote:
They have a good go at it, though:


Thanks for posting that. My favourite part was where they wrote:

When reading evolutionist literature, you will be astonished at the range of ideas concerning their supposed extinction.

What - exactly - is "supposed" about the extinction of the dinosaurs?
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Amerigo
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe it is 'supposed' because they didn't become extinct - they 'evolved' instead, but that's just a guess... dunno

Anyway - you DID begin arguing the semantics of the word 'knowledge'!
(I KNEW you would - heh)
I had enough philosophy to know that if you seek to really 'know' anything after running it through every possible logical test you will find that, by the definition you arrive at, you 'know' nothing. This is not practical for conversation(or in my opinion much of anything) and the layman's use of knowledge is very similar to belief. A good Christian will tell you the King James Bible is chock FULL of knowledge whereas an atheist might consider it at best to be some well-written superstitious myths - heh
Schopenhauer, Hegel, and Descartes argued this stuff a lot and were the lot of them unhappy...
Have you all ever heard Monty Python's philosophers drinking song?(From "Hollywood bowl.." I think)
It about sums up what I think of the circular reasoning of abstract philosophy. Lets just call a spade a - well, you know...
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Doc MacDougal
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zerofoks wrote:
I'd recommend Niklas Luhmann's "Einf?hrung in die Systemtheorie" but I don't believe it's widely available in an english translation.

Explaining it would be a bit too off-topic. You can read up on it @ the Wikipedia article on him, though.


Thanks for the link. I didn't realise there were still people working in the Parsonian structural-functionalist tradition. I can't say I ever really found that paradigm particularly tenable, and reifying systems, in the way the Wikipedia article suggests that Luhmann does, doesn't help with that.

It was kind of funny to see the mention that Habermas takes him on, given that he's busy tangling with Foucault on the other side of things.

Of course, there's always language as the archetypal system. While it has a great deal of inertia and has a relatively autonomous existence apart from individual speaking subject, it strikes me as ludicrous to suggest that it is not a social construction. People make language. Organised systems of belief -- i.e., religions -- are similar, I think.

Or am I not getting the gist of the point that you and Luhmann are making?
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read both pages of this thread and came close to responding to some of the posts several times, only to have what I was going to say be said by someone else. Over and over. Then the subject of the discussion changed repeatedly and by the time I got to posting my own reply I couldn't remember what I was going to say.
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doc MacDougal wrote:
Or am I not getting the gist of the point that you and Luhmann are making?


Ever tried a cup of contemplative solipsism?


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