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 PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:52 am Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Life Is The Path wrote:
That is interesting. But before I respond, if I do, I'd like to read the whole thing, if possible. There were one or two lines which seemed odd, and I wondered if that wasn't because it's part of a larger argument.

It is. I started quoting at the second paragraph of Chapter 2 of The Problem of Pain.
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 PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:21 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Okay, so PoP is 90 pages long, and I don't have that sort of time at the moment. For now I'll just post my thoughts on the provided quote and go on from there.

Quote:
In ordinary usage the word imossible generally implies a suppressed clause beginning with the word unless. Thus it is impossible for me to see the street from where I sit writing at this moment; that is, it is impossible to see the street unless I go up to the top floor where I shall be high enough to overlook the intervening building. If I had broken my leg I should say 'But it is impossible to go to the top floor' - meaning, however, that it is impossible unless some friends turn up who will carry me. Now let us advance to a different plane of impossibility, by saying 'It is, at any rate, impossible to see the street so long as I remain where I am and the intervening building remains where it is.' Someone might add 'unless the nature of space, or of vision, were different from what it is'. I do not know what the best philosophers and scientists would say to this, but I should reply 'I don't know whether space and vision could possibly have been of such a nature as you suggest.' Now it is clear that the words could possibly here refer to some absolute kind of possibility or impossibility which is different from the relative possibilities and impossibilities we have been considering.


This part seems to be simply a mini rant. I can sort of understand it, for people often use the word impossible incorrectly. Blame whatever you will, but it should be said that the clunkiness of the English language is partly to blame. Also bad English teachers. For example, I think it was in the Pirates movies that someone said 'that's impossible!' to which Sparrow replies 'no, that's not probable', or improbable. I forget which, but that hardly matters. The examples above are examples of things that are difficult, in the present state. Add something or alter something, and the difficulty ceases. However, this is not the definition of impossible (although, to split hairs, it is, but there is a difference from metaphorical uses of words - read: misuse that has become part of common vernacular - and literal uses of words). Lewis seems to want to use the literal meaning, and from Merriam Webster, that is 'incapable of being or occurring'. That is, there is no unless, no qualifiers like in the above. It is, simply, not possible, end of. For example, a dog giving birth to a cat: impossible. White parents giving birth to a black baby: highly improbable. It's very very rare, but it does happen. However this would be labelled, in the vernacular, impossible. Now, please forgive me for, in essence, restating what Lewis has already said, but I feel that he's missed some key points. I do agree on there being absolute impossibles, which is called literal impossibilities in my speech. However, Lewis seems to miss another key point, which I'll now address.

Quote:
'All agents' here includes God Himself. His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to His power. If you choose to say 'God can give a creature free will and at the same time withold free will from it', you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words 'God can'. It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.


... Yeah, I'm not happy with this at all. Again, it's a vernacular vs. literal thing. A miracle is taken to be something that is very, very unlikely to happen, but happens anyway. To take a line from Men In Black 3, a miracle is something which seems impossible, but happens anyway. Well, things happen. Sorry if it sounds like I'm being dismissive, but I'm just exasperated by this line of thought. That's simply the nature of the statistical principles of randomness and chance: a small percentage of cases, of whatever, such as spontaneous remission, occur. So, this is really a case of exactly what Lewis was railing against. 'This person had her cataracts spontaneously healed. It's a miracle! Unless you take into account the principle of statistics, and see that there are many cases of spontaneous remission.'

Now let's look at the literal interpretation of impossibility, and miracles, with this other take on the MiB thing. A miracle is something which is impossible according to the laws of physics and of nature, yet still happen. I think that's fair, because we have a number of miracles in the bible in which they are absolutely and, for some cases, intrinsically impossible. For example, making a woman out of a rib; parting the red sea; causing enough rain to cover the entirety of the earth (not to mention make it all disappear again); and keeping a boat afloat for 40 days at sea. These are all physical impossibilities - true impossibilities - yet are called miracles. Thus, these miracles are nonsensical. They are as impossible as making 2+2=5, as impossible as making a rock so heavy that God can't move it.

Now, it could still be said that God is omnipotent, excluding the above, by saying that these weren't miracles, that they either didn't happen or are natural phenomena and were misreported, or whatever. It could still be held that God is omnipotent, because he can do all things that are possible. Yet by that exact definition, so are we.
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 PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:41 am Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Life Is The Path wrote:
Now let's look at the literal interpretation of impossibility, and miracles, with this other take on the MiB thing. A miracle is something which is impossible according to the laws of physics and of nature, yet still happen. I think that's fair, because we have a number of miracles in the bible in which they are absolutely and, for some cases, intrinsically impossible. For example, making a woman out of a rib; parting the red sea; causing enough rain to cover the entirety of the earth (not to mention make it all disappear again); and keeping a boat afloat for 40 days at sea. These are all physical impossibilities - true impossibilities - yet are called miracles. Thus, these miracles are nonsensical. They are as impossible as making 2+2=5, as impossible as making a rock so heavy that God can't move it.

You know, I was thinking this while I was typing. Off the top of my head, I don't really have an answer, but I'm vaguely remembering parts of an other Lewis book titled - imaginatively - Miracles. I'm forgetting the specifics, but I consider it to be the best of his nonfiction. I've been meaning to re-read this book ever since I finished the first two chapters of On the Nature of Things by Lucretius. Maybe now would be a good time. Depending on when I get around to it, I might post a response in the future.

In the meantime that reminds me of something that On the Nature of Things made me think about. I'm not entirely sure I believe in immortal souls anymore. Lucretius brought up some excellent evidence for a mortal soul esp. the fact that the mind can be impaired, injured. Also, reading a couple of N. T. Wright's books esp. Surprised by Hope have made me see that the idea of "dying and going to heaven" isn't an orthodox Christian idea so much as a Gnostic one. Early Christianity seemed to go with the idea of bodily resurrection in this world, albeit a redeemed, perfected world. If that's the case, why shouldn't we die, body and soul, before the resurrection? Later Christianity incorporated elements from Greek philosophy, and while much of this I consider beneficial, I'm not sure the idea of an immortal soul which I think is inherited from Platonism and the like, was a step in the right direction. This also raises some interesting questions about the nature of Hell. I'm not 100% sure that I'm ready to dismiss immortal souls, but right now I believe more in mortal than immortal souls.
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 PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:21 pm Reply with quote  
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  Taral-DLOS
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I usually avoid posting in this thread, because my opinions and beliefs sometimes fall a bit far from consensus here, but since everyone's being constructive and great, I wanted to chime in on something I read.

I'd like to submit that I have issues with a reality that includes both Hell as a place one's soul can go upon death if they've been bad AND the concept of the immortal soul.

I've been listening to some interesting science podcasts that posited that if humans ever became immortal, then putting someone in prison for "life without the possibility of parole" becomes "cruel and unusual punishment."

I like the idea of one's soul being eternal. And it jives with the scientific truth that the matter and energy that makes us up is eternal. I die, and the energy that made me me goes on, either in nature or in contribution to the entropy of the universe.

But I feel that a fair and just god/God would not be particularly fair or just if he sent the souls of sinners to Hell for all eternity.

Of course, the basis of Christianity is that Jesus died to save us from such a fate, so regardless of how questionably-just God might have once been, eternal damnation is no longer something that Believers need to fear (and I posit that the term "Believer" can be taken vaguely, as the Book of Mark and Book of Matthew both contain stories that, in my view, justifies belief in any religion, so long as it is believed with all one's heart, and presumably doesn't preach evil). But then what of the distinct Non-Believer, who despite best efforts does not fall into any category that can be subject to Salvation? Does that mean that his Eternal Soul is cast into Hell for all eternity, without hope of ever coming out? Is that fair or just? It seems excessive and even cruel.

So I'm thinking that either the soul isn't eternal, or eternal Hell is something we don't need to worry about. I prefer to think of the soul as being eternal, and that a just and constructive God would prefer to build bridges and consensus among the masses then to unjustly condemn those he disagrees with to eternal damnation, so that's what I'm going with.
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-Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear


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 PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:14 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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@Taral: have you heard of Sheol? In the Old Testament Sheol was the Jewish land of the dead. Sheol is very similar to Hades in that it isn't a land of eternal punishment, so much as a place of fading away or nonexistence for good and bad people alike. I suspect the ancient idea of Sheol is closer to reality than the medieval Hell. My theory is a result of my questioning of the immortal soul.

Taral-DLOS wrote:
(and I posit that the term "Believer" can be taken vaguely, as the Book of Mark and Book of Matthew both contain stories that, in my view, justifies belief in any religion, so long as it is believed with all one's heart, and presumably doesn't preach evil).

I could see God "winking at" (Acts 17:20) people's ignorance, but I don't buy into the idea that each religion is as valid as the next one.
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 PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:51 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Quote:
I've been meaning to re-read this book ever since I finished the first two chapters of On the Nature of Things by Lucretius. Maybe now would be a good time. Depending on when I get around to it, I might post a response in the future.


Sure, and I'd like to hear your thoughts, though no pressure Smile .

With regards to the soul, I simply don't believe there's such a thing. On The Nature Of Things rings a bell, but I can't be sure if I've read it long ago, or simply got the gist somewhere along the line. My point being that I don't recall how the soul is spoken of, in it. Wasn't it called the psyche? What does it mean by 'soul'? How does it explain the soul's existence? Is it said to be something that is of the brain, meaning that it's a catch-all phrase for the 'humanness'* of the person? Meaning their memories, experiences, qualia etc.? Or is it a separate entity which interacts with, and is adapted by, the brain?

For my part, as I've said, I think there's no soul. I think that whatever you define as us, is born of the chemical reactions in the brain. Damage to the brain, as I'll highlight in a case in a minute, or imbalance of chemicals, such as depression, changes the person, sometimes irrevocably (like dementia). Though in the metaphorical sense, I would believe in a mortal soul. Whatever constitutes 'us' dies when our body dies. If our brain is damaged, as in the case of Phineas Gage, who, by all accounts, was a good, decent man, a hard worker, a shrewd business man - until his brain was pierced by a tamping iron, then we change as a person. From then on he was 'fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity which was not previously his custom, manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future operation, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned… A child in his intellectual capacity and manifestations, he has the animal passions of a strong man.'

In that case, it could be said that the soul of the old Gage died, and the soul of the new Gage was born.

With regards to the evolution in Christian thought on the concept of the soul, here's an interesting quote: For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. - Ecclesiastes 9:5-6.

*I use the word humanness liberally, and simply for lack of a better word, as the things that we think of as solely human traits often aren't. 'Beingness', sapience, perhaps, is not limited to humans, but dolphins, and others of the cephalapod family can be classed, and are classed, scientifically, as persons. And indeed, morality is not a solely human concept, but there's instances of animals making moral decisions. It's really quite fascinating.
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 PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:22 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Taral-DLOS wrote:
I usually avoid posting in this thread, because my opinions and beliefs sometimes fall a bit far from consensus here, but since everyone's being constructive and great, I wanted to chime in on something I read.


I like hearing opinions, both of the consensus, and not Smile .

Quote:
I'd like to submit that I have issues with a reality that includes both Hell as a place one's soul can go upon death if they've been bad AND the concept of the immortal soul.


Indeed. I, too, have problems with such a thing, and view it as quite an unjust punishment: infinite pain for finite sins.

Quote:
I've been listening to some interesting science podcasts that posited that if humans ever became immortal, then putting someone in prison for "life without the possibility of parole" becomes "cruel and unusual punishment."
It's funny you should say that, because there was a report, coming from where, I forget - the EU board on human rights, I think - that stated that holding people in prison for the rest of their lives constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. I don't, for the record, and by extension think if we could iron out the societal and judicial problems inherent in capital punishment, then such a thing would be tacitly accepted (and I suppose accepted by me). The reasoning is much the same. That being, if you commit enough crimes, you lose certain rights, certain liberties. But to bring it back to your point, yes, I think if we could become immortal, life without parole would be cruel and unusual.

Quote:
I like the idea of one's soul being eternal. And it jives with the scientific truth that the matter and energy that makes us up is eternal. I die, and the energy that made me me goes on, either in nature or in contribution to the entropy of the universe.


On this, I have to disagree. As stated in my previous post, I think the soul is metaphorical catchall phrase for the workings of the brain, and not a) an immeasurable thing that inhabits our body for a time and then goes off to wherever, us posited in the belief of substance dualism; or b) the energy, of which you speak, which gives our bodies a jolt.

Quote:
But I feel that a fair and just god/God would not be particularly fair or just if he sent the souls of sinners to Hell for all eternity.


Agreed. Oh! Do you remember the youtube brothers that I linked you, a while back? One of them, I think it's QualiaSoup (aptly named for this conversation) who did a video on Hell being an unjust punishment. It also talks a little on the origins of the concept of Hell, including Sheol, as Reep mentioned in his responding post.

Quote:
Of course, the basis of Christianity is that Jesus died to save us from such a fate, so regardless of how questionably-just God might have once been, eternal damnation is no longer something that Believers need to fear (and I posit that the term "Believer" can be taken vaguely, as the Book of Mark and Book of Matthew both contain stories that, in my view, justifies belief in any religion, so long as it is believed with all one's heart, and presumably doesn't preach evil). But then what of the distinct Non-Believer, who despite best efforts does not fall into any category that can be subject to Salvation? Does that mean that his Eternal Soul is cast into Hell for all eternity, without hope of ever coming out? Is that fair or just? It seems excessive and even cruel.


I also have to disagree on this. But first I want to ask you, why do you feel that the best efforts have been put forward to the non-believer (of which I count myself as one)? I would argue that, for the majority of non-believers and atheists, there has not been enough evidence to make them believe, and what evidence there is is of questionable quality. For example, in the OT, miracles were performed in abundance, even to non-believers. Yet now, there's none.

This subject makes me want to recommend another youtube atheist, one [LOOKAWAYIFYOUDISLIKESWEARING] TheoreticalBullshit [YOUCANLOOKAGAIN], who has spoken a little on this, though I can't recall just one video, specifically. Okay, maybe this one.

Anyway, back to my original point. I disagree that it's enough, for the Christian god, to simply have you believe. I can think of a few instances where God told several people not to, and actively punished, either directly or indirectly, non-believers. At the moment, I'm a little rushed, so named examples will have to come later. I'd also like to take the opportunity to mention a hypothesis of mine, with regards to reading the bible, and the Forer effect. I'd also like to mention my counter to Pascal's Wager, which I call Life's Wager (for two reasons, both obvious), but again it'll have to wait.

Quote:
So I'm thinking that either the soul isn't eternal, or eternal Hell is something we don't need to worry about. I prefer to think of the soul as being eternal, and that a just and constructive God would prefer to build bridges and consensus among the masses then to unjustly condemn those he disagrees with to eternal damnation, so that's what I'm going with.


Oh! I tweeted something the other day, which is a perfect answer to the second part of your first sentence:
1) God is omnipotent.
2) God has done everything in his power to stop us going to hell.
3) God has stopped us going to hell.
4) We're not going to hell.
5) Want a beer?
_________________
I am a Star Wars fan. That doesn't mean that I hate or love Jar Jar. That doesn't mean I hate or love Lucas, or agree or disagree 100% with him. That doesn't mean I prefer the PT over the OT, or vice versa. That doesn't mean I hate the EU, or even love all of it. These are not prerequisites. Being a man is not a prerequisite. Being a geek is not a prerequisite. The only prerequisite is that I love something about Star Wars. I am a Star Wars fan.


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 PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:41 am Reply with quote  
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  Taral-DLOS
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Life Is The Path wrote:
But first I want to ask you, why do you feel that the best efforts have been put forward to the non-believer (of which I count myself as one)? I would argue that, for the majority of non-believers and atheists, there has not been enough evidence to make them believe, and what evidence there is is of questionable quality. For example, in the OT, miracles were performed in abundance, even to non-believers. Yet now, there's none.


I don't have much time to go through the entire post just yet, but this one I feel I can tackle right away.

My "best efforts" reference isn't a matter of "God making every effort to convince people to be Christian". It's more of a "You don't need to be a Christian to fall into categories that would be subject to Salvation."

This also addresses Reep's point about religion catch-alls.

There's a story in both the Book of Matthew and Book of Mark, about the Cursing of the Fig Tree. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cursing_the_fig_tree

In this story, Jesus was disappointed because a fig tree didn't have any fruit on it (they were out of season, but apparently he really liked figs, I dunno). So he says with full conviction that the tree would never grow fruit again, and it withered and died. The disciples asked him about it, and he said (per Mark):

"(...)Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them (...)"

In my interpretation, this sentence admits the validity of all beliefs. It then goes on to talk about forgiveness, so I ultimately extend my interpretation to "regardless of what you actually believe in, as long as you a) believe in it with conviction, and b) live a good life where you are nice and forgive people, then you're good."

Pure atheism is a bit difficult to jive with this interpretation, but that's why conversations are important.

I think regardless though the biggest priority is living a good, positive life. Regardless of your actual beliefs, if a Creator God exists (in some form or another) and sees that you lived a good, moral life, then you'll be alright.

I'd like to take the opportunity to establish myself real quick: I was raised Christian, in the Anglican Church of Canada. I went to Catholic school (and was promptly put off by various exclusionary practices the clergy and school had; e.g. a priest once asked me to leave his chapel when I told him I wasn't catholic). My views changed and evolved, especially in late high school and university. I don't associate myself with any one view on Christianity, but agree with the most basic tenets (Creator, Jesus, etc.) I believe in open interpretations of the stories in the bible (I recall stories of Jesus taking demons out of people, which I believe more likely demonstrates him curing a disease, since a lot of diseases were thought to be demonic in nature back then), noting that some/many of the stories might be parables anyways (good to live by, but not factual). I believe mostly in science, and if science says something that directly contradicts religion, I side with science every time.

The opinions I've voiced in the past that were seen badly were about how I'm ardently Pro-Choice (to the point where I believe, as a man, I don't have the right to have any other position), and passionate about LGBT rights and freedoms. It's not so much that I've said things that have been offensive or taken badly, it's that these positions led to me getting offended by others here, so I felt it best to just step away.
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-Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear


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 PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:29 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Life Is The Path wrote:
With regards to the soul, I simply don't believe there's such a thing. On The Nature Of Things rings a bell, but I can't be sure if I've read it long ago, or simply got the gist somewhere along the line. My point being that I don't recall how the soul is spoken of, in it. Wasn't it called the psyche? What does it mean by 'soul'? How does it explain the soul's existence? Is it said to be something that is of the brain, meaning that it's a catch-all phrase for the 'humanness'* of the person? Meaning their memories, experiences, qualia etc.? Or is it a separate entity which interacts with, and is adapted by, the brain?

From what I could tell Lucretius did believe in the soul, he just thought it was mortal. Lucretius was an Epicurean, so he believed the universe was made up of minute particles that cannot be created or destroyed (basically atoms). When a person dies, the soul (according to Lucretius, also made of "atoms") disperse along with the rest of the body, and ceases to be. Lucretius also differentiated the soul and the mind. The soul, I guess, is you.

I'm not by any means an Epicurean, but at least for now, I think Lucretuius was right about the "soul" dispersing when a person dies. It defeats the concept of an immortal soul, but not resurrection. During the resurrection, atoms would reform into the person being resurrected. It needn't be the same atoms (I'm sure many of the atoms that currently make up me were part of an another person at some point) because I lose atoms all the time e.g. when I loose skin cells, but I still retain my shape, character etc. when other atoms take their place.

Life Is The Path wrote:
With regards to the evolution in Christian thought on the concept of the soul, here's an interesting quote: For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. - Ecclesiastes 9:5-6.

That's a good example of what I was saying earlier about Sheol. The more I think about, the more I think the ancient Jews had it right concerning the afterlife (including their later concept of resurrection).

Life Is The Path wrote:
Oh! I tweeted something the other day, which is a perfect answer to the second part of your first sentence:
1) God is omnipotent.
2) God has done everything in his power to stop us going to hell.
3) God has stopped us going to hell.
4) We're not going to hell.
5) Want a beer?

Laughing

I saw that on Twitter actually.

Ultimately, I've long since accepted that regardless of what philosophy/wordview I choose, I'm going to have doubts and questions that won't go away. For me Christianity is the least problematic. Atheism doesn't sit well with me and while agnosticism seems like a pragmatic road at first, in the end I've got to agree with Pi Patel: I'll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" then surely we are also permitted to doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation. (from Life of Pi).
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Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter east.


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 PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 4:23 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Taral-DLOS wrote:
My "best efforts" reference isn't a matter of "God making every effort to convince people to be Christian". It's more of a "You don't need to be a Christian to fall into categories that would be subject to Salvation."


Ah, gotcha.

Quote:
In my interpretation, this sentence admits the validity of all beliefs. It then goes on to talk about forgiveness, so I ultimately extend my interpretation to "regardless of what you actually believe in, as long as you a) believe in it with conviction, and b) live a good life where you are nice and forgive people, then you're good."

Pure atheism is a bit difficult to jive with this interpretation, but that's why conversations are important.


Could you explain that to me a bit more? I'm not quite getting it. From my reading, it does seem to say if you have faith, you can move mountains, as you say (and from 21:22 it states that fervent, sincere prayer shall be answered), but I'm not entirely sure it can be extended to validating all beliefs.

Quote:
I think regardless though the biggest priority is living a good, positive life. Regardless of your actual beliefs, if a Creator God exists (in some form or another) and sees that you lived a good, moral life, then you'll be alright.


This is essentially my Life's Wager: Lead your life as a good, kind person. Treat your friends and family, strangers and non-strangers, well. And when you die, you will have lived a life full of happiness, and would be secure in the knowledge that you've left a lasting legacy among your friends. Waste no time on trying to please a god that may or may not exist, but devote your time on making the world, even if it's just the world immediately around you, better. And if there is nothing afterwards, then you will still have that. If there is a god or gods as benevolent as they say, then it won't care that you didn't believe (and who knows, perhaps it prizes healthy scepticism), but care that you lived well, and would take you with open arms.

... Unless it's the God of the OT, in which case you're screwed Razz . Sorry, I couldn't resist Wink .

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I'd like to take the opportunity to establish myself real quick: I was raised Christian, in the Anglican Church of Canada. I went to Catholic school (and was promptly put off by various exclusionary practices the clergy and school had; e.g. a priest once asked me to leave his chapel when I told him I wasn't catholic). My views changed and evolved, especially in late high school and university. I don't associate myself with any one view on Christianity, but agree with the most basic tenets (Creator, Jesus, etc.) I believe in open interpretations of the stories in the bible (I recall stories of Jesus taking demons out of people, which I believe more likely demonstrates him curing a disease, since a lot of diseases were thought to be demonic in nature back then), noting that some/many of the stories might be parables anyways (good to live by, but not factual). I believe mostly in science, and if science says something that directly contradicts religion, I side with science every time.
This is always interesting to hear, and thank you. You know, I, too, went to a C of E junior school. At the same time, I was slightly involved with the Witnesses. Though our school was more inclusive. At religious assemblies, they gave Catholic students the opportunity to take their wine and wafers. Indeed, every so often they would have assemblies telling us of the old Greek religion (I think you can surmise what affect that had on me!). Indeed, though it was technically a faith school, it was very progressive, and think myself lucky to have gone to such an accepting school. Which makes me even more sad that you had to endure such a school.

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The opinions I've voiced in the past that were seen badly were about how I'm ardently Pro-Choice (to the point where I believe, as a man, I don't have the right to have any other position), and passionate about LGBT rights and freedoms. It's not so much that I've said things that have been offensive or taken badly, it's that these positions led to me getting offended by others here, so I felt it best to just step away.


I understand. As the old saying goes, you have to know when to hold them, know when to fold them - in this case, when to speak up, and when to walk away. Though I, too, am pro-choice (though I've never thought of it in the 'as a man, I don't have a right to any other position' sense. Which is rather interesting, and is worth thinking on.) and am passionate about LGBT rights and freedoms.
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I am a Star Wars fan. That doesn't mean that I hate or love Jar Jar. That doesn't mean I hate or love Lucas, or agree or disagree 100% with him. That doesn't mean I prefer the PT over the OT, or vice versa. That doesn't mean I hate the EU, or even love all of it. These are not prerequisites. Being a man is not a prerequisite. Being a geek is not a prerequisite. The only prerequisite is that I love something about Star Wars. I am a Star Wars fan.


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 PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 4:44 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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[quote="Reepicheep"]
From what I could tell Lucretius did believe in the soul, he just thought it was mortal. Lucretius was an Epicurean, so he believed the universe was made up of minute particles that cannot be created or destroyed (basically atoms). When a person dies, the soul (according to Lucretius, also made of "atoms") disperse along with the rest of the body, and ceases to be. Lucretius also differentiated the soul and the mind. The soul, I guess, is you.[quote]

Interesting, and I'll have to reread this for myself. Thanks, Reep.

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It needn't be the same atoms (I'm sure many of the atoms that currently make up me were part of an another person at some point) because I lose atoms all the time e.g. when I loose skin cells, but I still retain my shape, character etc. when other atoms take their place.


I wouldn't know, scientifically speaking, whether or not your atoms once belonged to another person*, but you're right as to the second point. Your body is, at best, about fifteen years old. This is because cells continually regenerate, and so the cells of every part of your body are not the same ones that you were born with. Unfortunately, when these cells regrow, they do so to the exact same configuration, with the same amount of wear and tear, as the ones they replace.

*However, as you take a drink of water, be aware that you're more than likely drinking something that was once dinosaur pee Wink .

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Ultimately, I've long since accepted that regardless of what philosophy/wordview I choose, I'm going to have doubts and questions that won't go away. For me Christianity is the least problematic. Atheism doesn't sit well with me and while agnosticism seems like a pragmatic road at first, in the end I've got to agree with Pi Patel: I'll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" then surely we are also permitted to doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation. (from Life of Pi).


I need you to clarify this - is that quote saying, essentially, agnosticism says 'I don't know'? It seems that way to me, which is odd, because I'd always thought agnosticism is the belief that 'it is unknowable', rather than 'I don't personally know'?

Although, while I do think it is ultimately knowable, even if it is not yet knowable, I do think it's admirable to have the courage to say 'I don't know'. Personally, I'm not smart, but I do read a lot, and so my family and friends tend to ask me questions first. There's a small amount of pride involved, when I provide an answer, which is an undoing when I'm not sure of the answer, and feel the strong urge to give one, regardless of this. In fact, that's rather why I like science, because 'I don't know' is something that most often uttered. Quickly followed by 'let's find out!' But it does so in a way that's completely counter-intuitive. Usually, we make an observation and then go about finding evidence that proves this. The scientific method goes about it the complete opposite, finding ways to disprove it.

Hey, I have a slightly political-religious question that I'd like to put forward. I'm kind of involved in a movement to introduce philosophy classes into schools - but, it's done so by removing religious education. RE would still be taught, but it would be just one part of the philosophy class. Other things, like the Greek schools of thought, would be taught. On top of this, critical thinking skills would be taught, too (though there is some debate as to whether that should be included in philosophy or science classes).

What do you lot think?
_________________
I am a Star Wars fan. That doesn't mean that I hate or love Jar Jar. That doesn't mean I hate or love Lucas, or agree or disagree 100% with him. That doesn't mean I prefer the PT over the OT, or vice versa. That doesn't mean I hate the EU, or even love all of it. These are not prerequisites. Being a man is not a prerequisite. Being a geek is not a prerequisite. The only prerequisite is that I love something about Star Wars. I am a Star Wars fan.


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 PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:41 am Reply with quote  
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  Dog-Poop_Walker
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OOH, semantics.

"cruel and unusual punishment." Does it have to be both? Can it be unusual, but not cruel? Can it be cruel, but not unusual? That seems to be the basis for why the death penalty and life imprisonment are exempt from this clause. They are surely cruel, but they are not unusual.

I guess it has to be because if it couldn't be either one then it couldn't be cruel... but all punishment by definition is cruel, or it's not really punishment is it?

"Omnipotence". This is easily solved by God's Will. God CAN do anything, but only CHOOSES to do certain things.

Lewis's ideas about the relative state of empiricism is close but off the mark. It ultimately limits God's power to say that God cannot do the impossible, because it puts those same relative states onto God's power and thus limits it. Impossible simply means something that God does not do. If God does not do it then no one else can do it, but that does not mean that God CAN'T do it.

The difference is that human empiricism is contingent on present knowledge, but God stands outside of time. If God doesn't exist does that mean that God can NEVER exist? Surely not. God could have existed before and ceased to exist now. He could not yet exist but will exist sometime later.

I like that idea. God not existing is in no way a limit of His power because existence is not necessary to be powerful.

Voltaire disagrees with me, but I say that God does not exist and if He did exist it would be necessary that He cease existence.

If God did not exist emerging into existence would not limit his power, but if He did exist and ceased to exist that WOULD limit his power, so therefor He must not exist.
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They have taken the hearts and minds of our leaders. They have recruited the rich and the powerful, and they have blinded us to the truth! Our human spirit is corrupted. Why do we worship greed? Because, outside the limit of our sight, feeding off us, perched on top of us from birth to death are OUR OWNERS. They have us! They control us! They are our masters! Wake up! They’re all about you, all around you!


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 PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:09 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Life Is The Path wrote:
I need you to clarify this - is that quote saying, essentially, agnosticism says 'I don't know'? It seems that way to me, which is odd, because I'd always thought agnosticism is the belief that 'it is unknowable', rather than 'I don't personally know'?

I think it could be either. I suspect that even agnostics who think "it is unknowable", are, in a sense, throwing in the towel on trying to find what is true. At any rate, that is what Pi seemed to think.

I will agree that I don't think any philosophy/wordview can be 100% proven (and in this sense, I too am an "agnostic") and I also respect people who can say "I don't know". However, that doesn't mean that every philosophy holds as much water as the next one. Some are clearly less credible than others. My views change as I learn, read more, so my philosophy is always changing or growing. Hopefully it's growing in the right direction. The important thing for me is that I'm on a road and I'm open to new ideas (I'll just shoot them down if they're bad ideas Razz ). I can see agnosticism as a genuine philosophy, as long as the agnostic in question continues to search for truth; otherwise it just strikes me as laziness.

Life Is The Path wrote:
Hey, I have a slightly political-religious question that I'd like to put forward. I'm kind of involved in a movement to introduce philosophy classes into schools - but, it's done so by removing religious education. RE would still be taught, but it would be just one part of the philosophy class. Other things, like the Greek schools of thought, would be taught. On top of this, critical thinking skills would be taught, too (though there is some debate as to whether that should be included in philosophy or science classes).

What do you lot think?

I'd join that class. Wink
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Where sky and water meet,
Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter east.


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 PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:40 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Reepicheep wrote:


I will agree that I don't think any philosophy/wordview can be 100% proven (and in this sense, I too am an "agnostic") and I also respect people who can say "I don't know". However, that doesn't mean that every philosophy holds as much water as the next one. Some are clearly less credible than others. My views change as I learn, read more, so my philosophy is always changing or growing. Hopefully it's growing in the right direction. The important thing for me is that I'm on a road and I'm open to new ideas (I'll just shoot them down if they're bad ideas Razz ). I can see agnosticism as a genuine philosophy, as long as the agnostic in question continues to search for truth; otherwise it just strikes me as laziness.


Indeed. Not all philosophies hold as much water as each other - or to put it into another term, so that I don't torture a metaphor - aren't as valid, as good as each other. I think it stems from the belief that everyone's entitled to an opinion, therefore every opinion is valid. But anyway, that then raises the question of what is good, and what is bad, and what is, in essence, fat that can be discarded. A while ago, if you remember, I decided to write up my own philosophy. It was going well, until I read an essay by Adam Lee, in which his principal point was 'minimise real and potential harm, maximise real and potential happiness', and I was jolly ticked off, because he wrote in one line what I'd been trying to say (and took about 60k words to get about saying it), and that has been pretty much my entire philosophy since then on. But if we expand that and say what is good: prayer, for example, has been shown to have beneficial effects. Now, it doesn't actually matter who you pray to - this exact same effect has been recorded in Christians who prayed and Buddhists who prayed. So is prayer good? If you're an atheist, prayer is not so good, nor bad, but not, beyond that marginal good effect, useful. So should atheists pray, but to Morgan Freeman? It could be argued that this little goodness is offset by the mindset of calling to someone else, who cannot help you, for help. And again, sticking with the Buddhists, their supernatural beliefs (they don't have many, but they are there, so I think it's correct to call theirs a religion), such as reincarnation, don't really harm, although it can deviate from studied reality, so is it harmful, or not? If so, would that mean it's more or less valid than Christianity, or atheism? I'd say as they're not particularly useful, they can be dropped from practice and one's philosophy.

Quote:

I'd join that class. Wink


Yay!
_________________
I am a Star Wars fan. That doesn't mean that I hate or love Jar Jar. That doesn't mean I hate or love Lucas, or agree or disagree 100% with him. That doesn't mean I prefer the PT over the OT, or vice versa. That doesn't mean I hate the EU, or even love all of it. These are not prerequisites. Being a man is not a prerequisite. Being a geek is not a prerequisite. The only prerequisite is that I love something about Star Wars. I am a Star Wars fan.


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 PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 7:18 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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@Life: I'm about 2/3 through my re-read of Miracles, but since the chapter I just finished dealt directly with what we were discussing, I'll paraphrase some of Lewis's main points. I had said that since God is rational, He can't make nonsense such as making two and two equal five happen. He can do every thing, but 2 + 2 = 5 isn't a thing, it is nonsense - a non-entity. You pointed out that miracles are intrinsically impossible and presumably nonsense akin to 2 + 2 = 5. Here's how Lewis reconciles this apparent contradiction.

Thankfully, he begins by restating what he said in The Problem of Pain: that not even omnipotence can do what is self-contradictory. If the laws of nature are necessary truths, no miracle can break them, but Lewis suggests, no miracle needs to break them. He then uses this example: Suppose a physicist shoots a billiard ball with a cue during an experiment. The laws of nature state that the ball will move at a specific speed and angle depending on the force of the shot, angle etc. If, once the shot has taken place, I pick up another cue and hit the cue in another direction, the physicist's predictions have not come to pass, but I haven't broken any law of nature. Supernatural power is a "factor" not too dissimilar from me with the second cue.

Lewis then says that the laws of nature have never caused an event to happen; rather, they state the pattern to which every event must conform. In a miracle God is the cause of a miracle and the results follow according to the natural law (e.g. after miraculous conception follows normal pregnancy). In this way a miracle is interlocked in the forward direction with the rest of Nature, but not in the backwards direction (since it's source came from outside Nature).

NOTE: I typed a summary of Chapter 8 almost as soon as I finished it, but I lost everything I typed. I didn't feel like re-typing it for a while afterwards and, now that I've finally re-typed it, it's been a couple weeks since I read it and it isn't as fresh in my memory (and is much shorter than what I remember my first one being). Hope it makes sense. If you need anything clarified, let me know.
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Where sky and water meet,
Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter east.


Last edited by Reepicheep on Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:03 pm; edited 1 time in total


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