Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lennox replies to Hawking

82 comments:

David B Marshall said...

John is speaking at U Press tomorrow; I'm taking my family. I don't know if we'll have a chance to talk or not; I'm guessing it'll be a big crowd. Am looking forward to what he has to say, presumably on this subject.

I once spoke at his church, a tiny little congregation of maybe 20 or 30 people in Oxford. He got up afterwards and gave an extemporanous sermon that was probably better than my prepared message! He's a delightful speaker, though I don't know whether he can talk down to us non-mathematicians enough so that we can understand his argument on this subject.

David B Marshall said...

I should say, University Presbyterian Church in Seattle -- one of the largest UPC churches in the country, lots of room if they do it in the main auditoreum. But I think you do need to reserve.

BenYachov said...

I misplaced my copy somewhere.

Blast it!

Papalinton said...

Lennox and Hawking are about the same age. They will both eventually succumb to a natural world end and both will lie side by side in the ground. The only difference is that Lennox will have 'thought' he is in another place. Hawking will 'know' he is returning to the earth.
I guess we are all entitled to make up a little story to mitigate the anxiety of realizing our own mortality. It is just that some need to have their hand held a little more than others, that's all.

Mr Veale said...

Here's an interesting concept which I discovered in an article by Edward B. Davis about fundamentalist "urban legends" of whalers who survived for days inside whale's stomachs.

Davis refers to these as "folk science." Read the whole quote

Rimmer and others stand revealed as practitioners of what social philosopher Jerome R. Ravetz has called "folk science": the use of science to promote one's personal belief system. Professional scientists are no less prone than anyone else to the practice of folk science; Carl Sagan immediately comes to mind.

'Nuff said

Mr Veale said...

Oh, and keep writing 'em speeches Paw! Tell you what, you may even come to believe it some yourself!

B. Prokop said...

Actually, whenever I hear (or read) someone like Papalinton say that believers are motivated by the "Fear of Death", my first thought is "Now there's a classic case of Projection" (look it up).

I don't know of a single Christian who worries about his or her mortality - not one. But again and again I see atheists bringing the subject up. I know I myself am not troubled by my own eventual demise. So, methinks the atheist doth protest too much.

It seems the only people concerned about their fate at/after death are the non-believers!

Papalinton said...

Bob
"I don't know of a single Christian who worries about his or her mortality - not one. But again and again I see atheists bringing the subject up. I know I myself am not troubled by my own eventual demise. "

You read me far too shallowly and you miss the nuancing. I know that christians don't fear death per se, they know just from sheer physical and natural world experiences and demonstration they are going to die. It is inevitable, it is natural, it is beautiful.

It is not the process of death that theists are existentially concerned about. What they simply cannot put their head around is the fact that when they do that is the end. They simply refuse to accept that there is nothing particularly special about humans that suggests living on after death. This is superstition writ large. It is wishful thinking driven by existential fear that there are absolutely no reasons why we should be different to every other animal species on the planet, apart from some old stories written by bronze-age communities to account for the enormous hole in their understanding of the natural world at the time of writing.

This is the intent of my statement; Lennox 'imagines' he's in a different place. Whereas just as will be Hawking, in stark obvious reality, he will be in a box in the ground, body, brain, mind, ideas, thoughts etc, the job lot, being reduced to the constituent parts of the stuff made in stars.

Theology [theism] is not an explanation. It is a tale, a story from long ago, imaginatively recounted around the campfire at night, replete with an indistinguishable mix of ghosts, humans, spirits, gods, seraphim, angels, all socializing across the supernatural divide.

And this tale continues to be recounted, each Sunday, just as it was in olden times. Interestingly, this tale has not changed one bit over time, only the interpretation of it, to fit the existing cultural milieu. And just like any universal tale, Hansel and Gretel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Bambi, the story remains unchanged because there is nothing more to add, there is nothing else to tell. That is the nature of tales. They are locked and bound in time, in perpetuity

That's not a bad thing. That is just the reality of it. But it is only a tale, a tale that emerges solely out from the pages of theology.

Pappy Sunday said...

Lennox and Hawking are about the same age. They will both eventually succumb to a natural world end and both will lie side by side in the ground. The only difference is that Lennox will be with Christ forever and Hawking will face judgment.

I guess we are all entitled to make up a little story to mitigate the anxiety of realizing our own mortality. It is just that some need to not come to grips with their sins and others will have been terrified of them.

Pappy Sunday said...

You read me far too shallowly and you miss the nuance. I know that atheists don't fear death per se, they know just from sheer physical and natural world experiences and demonstration they are going to die. It is inevitable, it is natural, it is abhorrent, we know something is deeply wrong about death.

Papalinton said...

Pappy Sunday says:
"Lennox and Hawking are about the same age. They will both eventually succumb to a natural world end and both will lie side by side in the ground. The only difference is that Lennox will be with Christ forever and Hawking will face judgment."

And just as Pappy Sunday has confirmed, my position remains unchallenged, that is, it is imagined Lennox will be with christ forever and that Hawking will face imagined judgement.

I guess we are indeed all entitled to make up a little story.

Anonymous said...

Papalinton is at least as old as Hawking and Lennox.

Papa will eventually be in the ground also.

He comforts himself with the thought that he will never be held responsible to God.

But he is secretly afraid he will, thats why he rails against it continually, having nothing productive to do in retirement and beset by fear.

Papalinton said...

"He comforts himself with the thought that he will never be held responsible to God.'

How can one be held responsible to a nothing? And yes, I feel comfortable that there is no need to conclude there is some element of responsibility for something that is not there.

Yesterday upon the stair
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away
[William Hughes Mearn]

B. Prokop said...

The fact remains that it seems the only "side" in this debate that ever brings up the "fear of death" or concerns about the next life is always the atheist camp. Now to me this screams the implication that all of this so-called motivation on the part of believers from concerns about mortality is nothing more than a projection of the atheists' own anxieties on this subject.

But more importantly, to those well-meaning posters who are trying to frighten atheists with the impending Judgement, I only have this to say: If God can welcome a sinner like myself to His home, I'm sure he'll have plenty of room for fools as well.

Walter said...

Bob,

The reason that most theists have less fear of death is because they are convinced that they will never truly cease to exist. Although some believers might have a greater degree of anxiety about death because they are not sure whether they will truly be counted among the elect on judgment day. Fear of not making the "cut" and facing eternal damnation can produce some serious anxiety! I have met a number of Christians who torture themselves with doubt.

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

Fear of Judgement (misguided or not) is a completely different ball of wax than Fear of Nonexistence. And it is this second fear that so many atheists project onto believers. Yet I have NEVER heard anyone ever say, "I believe in God because I don't want to cease to exist upon my death". This appears to be entirely a concern for atheists, since they are the ones bringing it up so often (as Papalinton did on this thread some postings back). Thus my conclusion that it is actually the non-believer who harbors an unacknowledged fear of personal annihilation.

Walter said...

Yet I have NEVER heard anyone ever say, "I believe in God because I don't want to cease to exist upon my death".

Of course you wont hear a theist come right out and say that is why they believe in God, but I guarantee that it is part of the psychological attraction to theism. You see Bob, I actually believe in deism, which affords me no guarantee of an afterlife. I have had Christians tell me that they could never accept a minimalistic deism, and one of the main reasons cited was no promise of a future life beyond this one. So my experience does not quite match up with yours.

Anonymous said...

Of course you wont hear a theist come right out and say that is why they believe in God, but I guarantee that it is part of the psychological attraction to theism. You see Bob, I actually believe in deism, which affords me no guarantee of an afterlife.

Deism... is a form of theism, Walter. Mere theism comes with no explicit guarantee of an afterlife, much less a pleasant afterlife. And belief in an afterlife does not itself require theism, even in its deistic form.

Walter said...

Deism... is a form of theism, Walter.

I am aware of that. Theism posits an interventionist God, deism does not. Point being that Christian theists have told me on numerous occasions that they would never be attracted to deism because the deistic god promises them nothing. This is evidence to me that a glorious afterlife is part of the lure of the Abrahamic faiths. Further, I used to be a fundamentalist, and during my own process of deconversion one of the things that I lamented the most was the loss of "immortality" that I always took for granted. I am not saying that this is the only reason believers believe what they do. I know that many intelligent believers have a host of reasons why they believe.

Papalinton said...

Any christian that believes he/she is not going to live eternally after death speak with forked-tongue. Fear of of existential death at the time of physical death, and the lure of eternal life, Pascal's Wager, etc are all inextricably linked to the fundamental spin of christianity's most basic claim, a place in heaven, to sit at the right hand of god or under his feet, or, as another famous christian spinword suggests, indwelled.

This is the stuff of soothsayers, of prophets, sages, prognosticators, diviners, fortune tellers, crystal-gazers, clairvoyants, psychics and of priests; take your pick. What the pope tells you is indistinguishable to what Deepack Chopra tells you. It is only a matter of degree and imagination.

Yes yes yes, I know Christians will say, 'I don't do what the pope says, I only do what jesus says'. And i say, where you get your information [hearsay at that] from and the pope is from the exact same source, a collection of short stories bound into an anthology of judeo-christian tales. Even Uncle Karl [Giberson] has redefined the bible to explain how it is that some parts should be read as metaphor and what should be regarded as real. He says it is a 'library', not a 'book':

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/uncle-karl-tells-us-how-to-read-the-bible/

What he doesn't elucidate is which is to be read as metaphor and which is to be read as real [?]?

Bit of a tizz. And Lennox cannot contribute much to the discussion that he isn't straight parroting from that which is already known through Apologetics.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I must run into different Christians than those posting here, because they are constantly bringing up hell and other points about the afterlife, and saying that if they didn't think there was an afterlife, their life would have no meaning.

Ever been to a funeral at a Christian church? YOu guys must be at some really interesting ones where they don't mention constantly that the person is in a better place now, where children devastated by the loss of loved ones aren't placated by being told that they are in heaven watching them.

Good to see people here are so sophisticated, that the afterlife figures so little in their psychological economy. Maybe the Christians I have met in the half-dozen or so churches, funerals, weddings, etc I have attended are an anomaly.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Indeed, one of the toughest things to deal with, at a personally level, when I became a nonChristian, was the death of loved ones. The main coping mechanisms I had in place that helped dull the pain, in effect denying that they were really gone, was taken out from under me. This introduced a whole new level of grieving at the total loss of their personality.


It took a few years to develop new mechanisms to deal with such things without the Christian salve in place.

Blue Devil Knight said...

At any rate, the above was a side-show. I have read neither Lennox nor Hawking's recent book, and don't plan on it (part of that whole 'You have to choose what you will die ignorant of' thing that helps me prioritize my time...speaking of which wtf am I doing posting at a blog....)

Brenda said...

Papalinton said...

Any christian that believes he/she is not going to live eternally after death speak with forked-tongue.

Total nonsense. One need not believe in an immortal soul to be a Christian. Indeed the idea of a soul is not a Christian concept. It was imported into Christianity from Platonism. The early Christians did not believe in life after death. They believed that the soul dies with the body but that they would be resurrected when Christ returned. That's why the early Christian's were called atheists. Because they were. They didn't believe in the gods of the day, they didn't believe in a soul and they didn't believe in a spiritual heaven at all.

--

About the book. It was obvious to me from the beginning just how spectacularly bad and sophomoric Hawkin's argument was. Any undergraduate who handed in such a poorly thought out argument would have had to re-write it or fail the course.

Which of course doesn't mean that theism is true either. What it does point to I believe is just how pervasive scientism is among contemporary atheists.

Anonymous said...

Walter,

Point being that Christian theists have told me on numerous occasions that they would never be attracted to deism because the deistic god promises them nothing. This is evidence to me that a glorious afterlife is part of the lure of the Abrahamic faiths.

You're adding in qualifications you didn't have before. You said that you "guarantee that it is part of the psychological attraction to theism." Then you go on to admit that you're a deist, admit that deism is a type of theism, and you ignore it being pointed out that theism is not necessitated for, nor does it guarantee, life after death.

Maybe you weren't speaking properly. I could accept that. But your original statement, as you put it, falls. It's as simple as that.

Also, Abrahamic Faiths are not merely concerned with a "glorious afterlife" for believers. What's that one quote? "Even the devil believes"? There's also hell. There's even purgatory.

I suppose I can guarantee you that the rejection of an afterlife, particularly of a hell (and in some cases, even a heaven!), is part of the psychological attraction to popular atheism. A deist even bolsters my point here again, since Anthony Flew was on record as hoping there was no afterlife in spite of his deism.

Anonymous said...

"both will lie side by side in the ground"

I never knew they were related.

Anonymous said...

"Lennox 'imagines' he's in a different place."

Hawaii? St. Tropez?

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton, et. al.,

I never said that Christians did not believe in "life after death". Of course they do. I do.

What I DID say was that such a belief was not a motivating factor in their faith, and I stand by that statement.

Papalinton said...

Brenda says, "One need not believe in an immortal soul to be a Christian. "

I wonder what Victor thinks of this statement? I wonder David Marshall's take on the truth of this statement?

Taken from:
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Immortality
www.newadvent.org › Catholic Encyclopedia: "As we have already observed, the immortality of the human soul is one of the most fundamental tenets of the Christian Religion."

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07687a.htm

It goes on:
"With the birth of the Christian religion the doctrine of immortality took up quite a new position in the world. It formed the foundation of the whole scheme of the Christian Faith. No longer a dubious philosophical tenet, or a hazy popular opinion, it is now revealed in clear and distinct terms. The dogma of the Fall, the Christian conception of sin, the Incarnation of the Son of God, all the means of grace and redemption, and the priceless value of each human soul are connected in significance with this article of the Creed. "


Bob Prokop says , "What I DID say was that such a belief was not a motivating factor in their faith, and I stand by that statement."

I say, an incredulous statement, to say the least. It is tantamount to saying, ' life after death' is just so oh-so ordinary, it doesn't even figure in my christian beliefs. The casual nonchalance belies the very truth of Bob's statement, irrespective of what he personally wishes to convey to atheists like me to distance himself from the impact of the charge of having leanings towards superstitious nonsense that is inextricably linked to and an indivisible part of the christian mythos.

Papalinton said...

BDK
Hawking's book is a relatively short volume and is very easy to read.

I wasn't overly enthusiastic about it, but it nonetheless, provides a a cogent and reasonable argument for gravity being the glue that largely binds the universe and indeed it will be through fluctuations through gravitational that we might get a sense of the relationship of this universe with possible others. Some very interesting thoughts.

Hawking does a good job in making such complicated physics easily readable.

Morrison said...

What Hawking has done in his latest book is give up on that "Theory of Everything".

He sort of tries to claim that a variation of M Theory "must be it".

But what he has simply done is declare victory in a lost war and gone home.

B. Prokop said...

"an incredulous statement, to say the least"

Nope, not at all. In fact, I will double down on this point. I repeatedly hear from Papalinton and like-minded individuals that fear of death is a prime motivator for believing in God. Yet this absolutely flies in the face of experience. To repeat: I have never - not once, heard a Christian say to anyone, "Just believe in God, and you'll never be afraid of death again". Doesn't happen.

This is not to say that eternal life is a minor point of doctrine. Of course not. But neither is the Trinity (which is a far, far more important doctrine, by the way), yet you don't hear many atheists saying "You Christians just believe in God because of the doctrine of the Trinity".

My main point here is not who believes what, or how importantly they rank various doctrines, but rather to point out just who among us seems to be obsessed with death - and it ain't the believer!

Do I have to remind you who it was, after all, who originally brought this subject up?

Brenda said...

Papalinton said:
"I wonder what Victor thinks of this statement?"

It is interesting that you think there is one definition for who a Christian is and that anyone who fails to meet a particular dogmatic requirement must not be a Christian. You think like a good fundie.

It is simply a fact that the early church rejected the platonism of the larger culture of that day. That was introduced at a later point in history. They were branded as atheists because they did not believe in a spiritual world above our own. They believed in a physical soul that would be granted physical immortality in this world which would be ruled from a physical throne on Earth. They didn't just reject the Roman pantheon, they denied such a spiritual plane even existed. They were atheists who believed that a really existing god would return and grant them eternal life in this world, which would be made new, not in another world.

They were more like you than today's Christians.

Matteo said...

"You think like a good fundie."

I think what Brenda is trying to say is that she and not you has the correct way to think about the subject. But then, fundies are like that.

Victor Reppert said...

Christians do typically hold to some kind of future life, but the idea of an inherently immortal soul, which doesn't need for God to keep it in existence, is not a Christian idea.

However, the idea that you can decide whether Lennox's arguments are better than Hawking's based on the idea that Lennox hopes for a future life and Hawking does not is a classic example of the ad hominem circumstantial fallacy. You are basically saying "Don't look at the arguments, look at the motives."

unkleE said...

The afterlife or lack of it may be a good motive to consider christianity, but it would be ineffective as a motive to believe unless one believed it to be true! False promises gain nothing.

Re motives disqualifying a person's viewpoint, I suggest:

1. We are all human. Believers and unbelievers alike are motivated by both the evidence of what is true and what we'd like to be true. We should try to emphasise the logical and evidential, but we cannot always succeed in that.

2. I see no evidence that one 'side' is much different to the other on this, and the wish-fulfilment / fear-fulfilment arguments work both ways. Such arguments belong more to the illogic side of our natures.

3. Therefore, when someone, on either side, raises such silly arguments, they are almost certainly not going to respond to reason and evidence. Thus the best way to respond to them is to ignore them (unless they supply supporting evidence).

So Lennox and Hawking should be treated on their arguments, not our complete guesses as to their motivations.

Papalinton said...

Victor
"Christians do typically hold to some kind of future life, but the idea of an inherently immortal soul, which doesn't need for God to keep it in existence, is not a Christian idea."

Now who's obfuscating? I thought I made the point perfectly clear that an inherent immortal soul, with jesus/god to keep it in existence, are indivisible.

Victor, your suggestion is simply a concession to Brenda to mitigate the rubbish she is peddling, and you know she is wrong. Her statement is incorrect when color-matched against that which is outlined in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Equally, your attempt to construe my immortal soul without god, as the proposition I put forward, is mendacious and just plain wrong. No suggestion of a separate soul without god was mentioned. The two are inextricable; they are a package deal. Christians believe that with all their heart, but not, not with their brain.

And to propose, "Christians do typically hold to some kind of future life", is the classic understatement that signals the christian modus operandi of backsliding away from, keeping at arm's length, anything of a theological nature or belief, the wholehearted defense of which might result in ridicule and disdain. It seems you do not have the courage of your convictions and seek not to become too enmeshed with all those silly universal christian declarative statements of belief that fly in the face of reason and logic. And yet you seem compelled to propagate Brenda's untutored perspective as being a bona fide standpoint.

But I must say, to indicate my perspective as a, "classic example of the ad hominem circumstantial fallacy", without doubt affirms the comedian in you. And I like people who can laugh at the world. That is why I suspect you are quite ill-suited to a prescribed theology, and perhaps that which goes under the rubric of christian belief seems to fall very short and is mismatched with your talents and skill. As so many others have done, the time for reassessment of your coalition with Apologetics, and theism generally, merits reconsideration.

As I say, on this matter, christians speak with forked-tongue and I think your position necessitates uncomfortable personal bending of thoughts, judgements and considerations that grate somewhat against your intrinsic decency.

Anonymous said...

Its ironic that Loftus says Christians speak with "forked tongue" while he displays a picture of himslef with Dan Barker, a swine who admits lying to his congregations and preaching while he was an atheist.

Papalinton said...

Brenda
"It is interesting that you think there is one definition for who a Christian is and that anyone who fails to meet a particular dogmatic requirement must not be a Christian. You think like a good fundie."

So what you are saying Brenda, is that despite what christian sources such as the catholic Encyclopedia write, there is no principle, edict, doctrine, creed, tradition, anything for that matter, which is fundamental and sacrosanct. Non-trinitarian christians are just as legitimate as trinitarian worshippers, the adoptionist view is just as legitimate. The views of Jack Spong are as legitimate as any other christian. The Jehovah's Witnesses see jesus separate from god, and this view is legitimate. Christians who firmly hold homosex as OK are as legitimate as those who view it an abomination. Brenda if you can deviate from the protocols of this fundamental tenet, then why would some christians think Ken Ham's views be not those of a proper christian? Proper christians can think any thought as legitimate. Note the David Coresh's, and the Jim Jones' of the world, and the Secret Brethren, all doing as you do, selecting what they wish or not wish to believe. So many christians applaud the gunmen that shot Dr George Tiller right inside the church. He was driven by legitimate[?] christian rhetoric of the evangelical kind.

In other words, extrapolating your brand of christian truth, christianity must be regarded as a smorgasbord, a supper table at which christian can pick and chose elements of christianity that best suit their needs and demands, even the last rites.

I say, cognitive dissonance writ large. This is the rationale at its most fundamental, at its most primal level, that drives christian diversity and irrationality. A religion that stands for everything is a religion that stands for nothing. But reasonable people have always known that. The charge of heresy, thought crimes, is simply a pious personal bluster, a cry of outrage of one christian against another because that christian has the temerity to think differently.

Boy, am I glad the hegemony of christian ideology is feeling the increasing societal pressure of rational and reasonable discourse, both within and outside its ranks.

Papalinton said...

Victor
This was recently added to your site:
"Its ironic that Loftus says Christians speak with "forked tongue" while he displays a picture of himslef with Dan Barker, a swine who admits lying to his congregations and preaching while he was an atheist."

You don't belong with the crowd that reflects this level of thought and comment, Victor. It is unedifying to be associated, however tangentially, with those that hold these thoughts as truth. They may give the impression of decent people but the form of commentary puts a lie to that prospect.

Victor, it is not befitting to defend the indefensible.

Victor Reppert said...

Okay, Papalinton. Get an textbook explanation of the ad hominem circumstantial fallacy and tell me exactly why you don't think you have committed it. The point is that you apparently think you can settle who has the better of the Hawking-Lennox controversy without examining the arguments since you know who has an ulterior motive.

Yes, people sometimes have what Lewis called the "horror of nonentity," the dread of nonexistence. Lewis reports that he had no such feelings whatsoever, when he converted to Christianity, and only experienced something like that when he came to have a real hope for heaven and realized what he would lose if there were no heaven. (He did say that Dr. Johnson did have those kinds of feelings). But, when he was an atheist, he thought the one really comforting thing about materialistic atheism is that there there is a door marked EXIT, and we will eventually cease to exist.

I don't see anything more reputable about this type of argument than I do with the argument that the reason Loftus is an atheist is because he committed adultery, deceived his congregation, and didn't want there to be a God to hold him accountable for it. According to this argument, we don't have to study Why I Became an Atheist or come to terms with the Outsider Test for Faith because we know John's REAL motive for rejecting Christianity. Now, that's a fallacy, called ad hominem circumstantial. Lewis called it Bulverism. But if you can argue the way you are arguing, then people who argue that way against Loftus (and they show up every time I mention his name), aren't committing a fallacy. I'd rather take both arguments off the table, thank you very much.

Brenda said...

Papalinton said...
"So what you are saying Brenda, is that despite what christian sources such as the catholic Encyclopedia write, there is no principle, edict, doctrine, creed, tradition, anything for that matter, which is fundamental and sacrosanct."

The world divides up the way we divide it up.

"The views of Jack Spong are as legitimate as any other christian."

If you call yourself a Christian you are a Christian. In the social realm things are what we say they are. If we call a piece of paper money then it is money.

"why would some christians think Ken Ham's views be not those of a proper christian?"

Because they choose to divide up the world differently than others. We are radically free. We have no predetermined nature or essence that determines what we are, what we do, or what is valuable for us. What is of value is what is of value to us.

If this is your first encounter with existentialism I warmly welcome you to Intro to Phil 101. Say hello to your fellow undergraduates.

B. Prokop said...

We're getting off the deep end into perceptions here. I consider myself to be a Liberal, but my brother regards me as center/right. I look at Huntsman as a right wing Republican, but the Tea Party sees him as a leftist Democrat in sheep's clothing. Who's correct? We all are!

Closer to home for this website, my own personal litmus test for who's a Christian is:

If you can recite the Nicene Creed and mean it, in my books you're a Christian.

Then:

If you acknowlege the True Presence in the Eucharist, then you're a Catholic. All else is window dressing.

Anonymous said...

BP:


Closer to home for this website, my own personal litmus test for who's a Christian is:

If you can recite the Nicene Creed and mean it, in my books you're a Christian.



This definition has interesting political ramifications, since it would mean that Milt Romney is not a Christian.

B. Prokop said...

He's not. He's a Mormon.

Anonymous said...

Mormons are Christians.

B. Prokop said...

Not according to my Litmus Test.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Not according to my Litmus Test."

Who's litmus test?
Oh! Yours.
Of course!
And silly me, here I was thinking there was a genuine evidentiary way of determining the difference.
But alas, it is just one exclusivist set of unsubstantiated ideological rules matched against a different set of unsubstantiated christian theistic rule-set.

You know the old maxim, 'them' and 'us'.
But of course religion has always been about them and us. Even at its most generous and magnanimous sentiment, according to christianity everyone can come to god, BUT, only though jesus, and/or through the tenets of catholicism, or Calvinist teachings, or lutheranism, or Mormonism; just take your pick which plastic lens you wish to see 'reality'.

This is not diversity, this is disparateness. Diversity usually infers acknowledgement, understanding and acceptance of the differences, each usually equal in contribution to the whole.

When Calvinists diss Catholics, and Baptists diss Unitarianists and everyone disses Jehovah's Witnesses, one cannot really call it 'diversity'. Diversity is anathema to sectarian christian principles.

Jake Elwood XVI said...

As Bob said the Nicene Creed is pretty much the litmus test of orthodoxy, and covers Catholics, Orthodoxs (as long as we don't say proceeds from the son) and mainline Protestants.

I attend an Anglican Church, and having taught at a Roman Catholic school I have attended some masses. A common statement of belief in God as defined by the creed is what unites us.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

No apologies for this one! Read the whole posting. I started out by warning everyone that we were going off the deep end into perceptions here. So you have to expect MY litmus test to follow.

Anything else would be "lying for political correctness".

B. Prokop said...

Oh, and by the way, I have a Litmus Test for Atheists, too.

kbrowne said...

Here is my litmus test for Christians and Catholics. If X says s/he is a Christian and means it then s/he is a Christian. If X says s/he is a Catholic and means it then s/he is a Catholic.

After all,isn't this the test we all have to apply in conversation? When talking to someone you cannot tell them they are not a real Christian, Catholic, Jew, Muslim or atheist. You have to accept their own account of themselves.

If I were to apply B.Prokop's test then about half the Catholics I know are not even Christians. They certainly would not like my telling them that so I would have to keep it quiet.

The test also includes too many people. A lot of Anglicans would suddenly find that they were, in fact, Catholics. C.S.Lewis, for instance, would be a Catholic according to B.Prokop's test.

B. Prokop said...

He was. He just didn't know it.

B. Prokop said...

Last posting was rather flippant, but it had a serious point underneath the humour.

When my younger daughter told me she wanted to be confirmed into the Church of England instead of the Roman Catholic Church, I said I had no problem with that, because I mostly didn't see any meaningful difference between the two. As a matter of fact, when my family lived in England, we attended Anglican services about as often as Catholic ones, depending on which was either more convenient (as when we were traveling about the UK) or more appropriate (e.g., we were going together with British friends, such as on Christmas).

Brenda said...

Papalinton said...
"And silly me, here I was thinking there was a genuine evidentiary way of determining the difference."

I'm glad to see you coming around to my position. Human beliefs are not things, they are subjective opinions and so there is no objective way to order them. (That is also true in biology)

"Christianity" is a big tent under which people self-affiliate. If someone chooses to place themselves under the tent then they are under the tent.

Some of the people under the tent get together and form sub-groups and rules. They enforce those rules through political or even physical force but it's still just politics. There is no state of affairs represented by one's assertion of belief in Christianity other than one asserts one believes.

"You know the old maxim, 'them' and 'us'. But of course religion has always been about them and us."

So is atheism. It is also a big tent under which people self-affiliate. There is no state of affairs that 'atheism' refers to. It is not a fact that god does not exist, it is opinion and therefore just another political affiliation some people can choose to follow.

Atheism also engages in political "Us vs Them" propaganda and atheists are just as virulently hateful of those not in their tribe as any religious believe has been. Officially atheist nation states have in fact committed genocide and are collectively responsible for 100 million deaths in the 20th century.

"just take your pick which plastic lens you wish to see 'reality'."

You also have a plastic lens which colors your 'reality'. We do not gaze upon the world un-mediated or with un-filtered eyes and see it as it truly is. We impose a set of cognitive filters on our sense data. Everyone is in the same position.

"Diversity usually infers acknowledgement, understanding and acceptance of the differences"

Of which many in the Christian community are more than capable. It's called ecumenicism and has been going along just fine for a long time now.

When will atheists join the ecumenical movement? When will atheists acknowledge and even celebrate difference and admit that other beliefs also have their contribution to the whole?

That you, like the fundamentalists, refuse to and instead seek political hegemony over others is why you are dangerous.

You are the problem.

Anonymous said...

"Not according to my Litmus Test."

I can find no good reason for accepting that test.

However, it does illustrate an interesting aspect of Christian history: Christians claiming that other Christians are not true Christians.

B. Prokop said...

"can find no good reason for accepting that test."

Of course you can't! That's why it's MY litmus test, and not yours!

I normally am not in the habit of responding to "anonymous" (If you don't have the courage of your convictions to identify yourself, then please don't bother saying anything.), but you seem exceptionally dense. You have still completely missed the entire point of these postings. Go back and read the one from 11:39 AM, August 22nd, with its reference to the deep end of perceptions.

Anonymous said...

"Of course you can't! That's why it's MY litmus test, and not yours!"

Non-sequitor. Simply because it is your litmus test it does not follow that there can't be a good reason for using it.

And i see no good reason for using it.

Mike Darus said...

This is amazing. I John is not difficult to read. Do you really think someone is a Christian just because they say so?

Walter said...

So what is the sine qua non of true Christianity? Most here seem to think that it is affirming the Nicene creed. I would say anyone who believes in a supernatural resurrection of Jesus is a Christian, regardless of whether they believe in the full deity of Jesus or not.

Mike Darus said...

Walter,
The size of your tent is generously large. Again, I suggest a reading of I John. The writer lists several qualifiers and disqualifiers, not all about belief.

B. Prokop said...

Mike,

I agree with you that the true "disqualifiers" have nothing to do with belief. But I chose the creed, solely because we are discussing this on a website that is ostensibly about philosophy, so it seemed the more relevant criterion.

And yes, Brenda and "anonymous" are both wrong, wrong, wrong, when they say that the only test of being a Christian is whether you yourself consider yourself to be one. Were that true, then we would have to lump in the world's one billion plus Muslims into the fold. Consider this: not long ago, a major Islamic figure in Syria was asked by a western interviewer, "How many Christians live in Syria?", and the cleric answered, "We're all Christians in Syria". And he meant it! He genuinely felt that, since Muslims revered Jesus as a Holy Prophet (Born of a virgin, no less! Look it up - it's in the Koran.), that they all qualified as Christians. I watched this exchange on the BBC, and the Syrian cleric was clearly mystified and somewhat insulted that the interviewer wouldn't agree with him on this point.

So no, just because Mormons wish to be counted as Christians (for purely political reasons by the way), doesn't make it so.

And THAT is not just "my" litmus test - it's reality.

Walter said...

Mike, I'm simply giving my own litmus test for those whom I consider to be Christians. I don't care what your christological or soteriological views are, if you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead by Yahweh, then you are a Christian--at least in my book. And if you are an uber-liberal Christian who believes that the resurrection was just a spiritual event, then you need to man up and admit that you are really just an agnostic monotheist who likes Christian stories.

Christianity is all about the resurrection.

Papalinton said...

Walter
" I would say anyone who believes in a supernatural resurrection of Jesus is a Christian, regardless of whether they believe in the full deity of Jesus or not."

A point well made and a workable definition.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Bob
"And yes, Brenda and "anonymous" are both wrong, wrong, wrong, when they say that the only test of being a Christian is whether you yourself consider yourself to be one."

I'm with you on this point, otherwise:

"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. ...Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross. "

- Adolf Hitler, speech on April 12, 1922

It seems he self-identified as a christian and more particularly:

"I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so." [and he did. He was never excommunicated]

- Adolf Hitler, to General Gerhard Engel, 1941

And self-identification under Brenda's plan would pose problems.

However, on the matter of Mormons, there is no question Walter's definition has significantly more merit for defining 'christian'. Remember, the Nicene Creed is one that was formulated and established by a committee, a purely human artifice to try to quell the squabbles between rival christian groups, and its subsequent enforcement was predicated on 'might equals right'. And christians, by their very own admission say, if jesus was not resurrected what is the point of the christian message?

Indeed from their very own website:
http://ldspatriot.wordpress.com/mormonism/what-mormons-believe-about-jesus-christ/

"Mormons also believe in the literal resurrection of Christ. Mormon teachings follow what is recorded in the Bible that after being crucified Christ’s body lay in the tomb, and on the third day his body and spirit were reunited. Mormons believe that Christ still has a body of flesh and bones, just as he did after his resurrection. The resurrection is a free gift to everyone. All will all be resurrected and have their body reunited with their spirit."

If it looks like a duck ................


End of story.

Brenda said...

B. Prokop said:
"Were that true, then we would have to lump in the world's one billion plus Muslims into the fold."

Well yeah, they are. So are Jews. That's why the big three are called Abrahamic faiths. Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same god. Muslims also celebrate Christmas, didn't you know that? They all have pretty much the same beliefs. Christians have that extra bit about Christ and Islam has an extra bit about Muhammad but they're all more or less, give or take a bit, the same basic belief structure.

"And THAT is not just "my" litmus test - it's reality."

There is no reality behind politics or religion. They both reflect human needs, wants and desires. It's all just opinion, there is no fact of the matter on which they rest.

Some people think they should be able to keep all the money they earn, they are called conservatives. Some people think a Jew 2000 years ago was a pretty important guy. Others say "Well, he was important but this other guy, an Arab, he was more important."

It's all opinion, not fact, and since it is opinion there can be no objective means of categorizing who is of which opinion other than that they in fact have that opinion.

B. Prokop said...

No, Brenda. Christians and Muslims most definitely do not worship the same God.

Try this thought experiment out for size. Let's say that you and I both know a guy named George. Now the George I know is 45 years old, married with 2 children, works in a bakery, weighs 195 pounds, and has blond hair. But the George you know is 22 years old, single, no children, works as a fireman, weighs 160 pounds and has black hair. Would you still insist that "After all, we both know the same George"? Of course not!

Well, the same things applies to Christians and Muslims. We both worship "God", but when you get down to details, you quickly find that the God worshiped by Christians has about the same amount in common with the one worshiped by Muslims as do the two persons named George described above. They are not the same God!
(And the same thing applies to Mormons.)

Brenda said...

B Prokop said:
"Would you still insist that "After all, we both know the same George"?"

Obviously George got married, had kids, put on a little weight and got a new job. We can know that we both know the same person because both of our Georges had the same father, Abraham, and Abraham had only one son.

B. Prokop said...

Abraham had two sons: Isaac and Ishmael.

Al Moritz said...

Bob Prokop said:

No, Brenda. Christians and Muslims most definitely do not worship the same God.

Erm, ahem, here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."

B. Prokop said...

Al,

I will respectfully (and I do mean that) both agree and disagree. That's the problem with the slipperiness of words, and of the English language in particular (one of the reasons I'm currently taking evening classes in Latin!).

Yes,there is only one God. And the New Atheists who (with an infantile smirk on their faces) say that they are atheists when it comes to Zeus and Odin, and that they are only going "one god further" than the theist, don't know what they are talking about.

But at the same time (and we ignore this half of the equation at our peril), there is an unbridgable gulf between Yahweh and Baal. Might I recommend a really excellent book "God is not One" by Stephen Prothero? It is a truly wonderful examination of the bedrock fundamental differences between Mankind's principle religions. Well worth the read! It made me simultaneously treasure my own faith more, while appreciating the undeniable wisdom to be found in others.

Bottom Line: Their George is not the same as my George.

Walter said...

Bottom Line: Their George is not the same as my George.

There can be pretty big divergences between "Georges" even amongst orthodox believers. For instance, the God of Calvinism seems like a very different "George" than the God of Love believed in by Universalist Christians. Looks like every sect has its own "George."

B. Prokop said...

Maybe I should have picked a different name for my exemplar. I can already hear the atheists on this site humming the little ditty from "Seinfeld", "Believe it or not, George isn't at home".

Walter: Calvinism is not orthodoxy. It's a heresy.

Anonymous said...

some fiction by cs lewis:


Emeth the Calormene: "So I went over much grass and many flowers and among all kinds of wholesome and delectable trees till lo! in a narrow place between two rocks there came to meet me a great Lion. The speed of him was like the ostrich, and his size was an elephant's; his hair was like pure gold and the brightness of his eyes, like gold that is liquid in the furnace. He was more terrible than the Flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world, even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert. Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of Thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou has done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites. I take to me the services which thou hast done to him, for I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if a man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted."


C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle

(the Calormenes have an Turkish-like culture in the story)

Walter said...

Walter: Calvinism is not orthodoxy. It's a heresy.

What was I thinking?

B. Prokop said...

"What was I thinking?"

You weren't.

Papalinton said...

Religion: exclusivist, segregative, 'them and us', divergent, clubbish, disparate, contrasting, contrastive; conflicting, incompatible, contradictory.

Just some words that popped into my mind following reading the last number of comments. It is such an irony that theists speak of 'togetherness' by trumpeting their 'distinctiveness', their 'differences'.

So much for Brenda's ecumenism.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Sorry, but what hypocrisy! When I see you and your fellow thinkers embracing your one-ness with Catholics, Fundamentalist Protestants, Daoists, Mormons, and Islamists, then I'll take your criticism of Orthodox Christians being critical of heretics seriously. Until then, you're just embarassing yourself!

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Bob
"Sorry, but what hypocrisy! When I see you and your fellow thinkers embracing your one-ness with Catholics, Fundamentalist Protestants, Daoists, Mormons, and Islamists, then I'll take your criticism of Orthodox Christians being critical of heretics seriously. Until then, you're just embarassing yourself!"

How so? You as a Catholic make the distinction from other faiths and heretical variants of christian faith ever so clearly and forcefully. I see all these distinctions as curious and incredulous, and I certainly don't embrace the oneness on theistic grounds. That is far too shallow a determinant. And wide-ranging reading of Religion will illustrate it as on same plane with other mythologies and parallel to and synonymous with the New Age stuff of today. They do, because they come from the same well-spring of superstition. I target a much more fundamental stratum of reasoning, much deeper than the deepest deepities of religion. I am foremost a humanist. At this level of philosophical thought all the extraneous stuff is shed. We get down to basics. There are far more commonalities between us at this level of ideation than the contrived differences of religious imposition. And as a humanist, I am of the glass-half full kind, one that seeks to further the understanding and appreciation of secularism as the fundamental modus operandi that provides humans the best strategy for facing the challenges into the future.

Secularism is the primal state of relationship that transcends all cultural, social and theological baggage that define us as diverse and multicultural. But it is only at the secular level that all the destructive human impulses can be properly mitigated. We know it's there and we cannot sweep it under the carpet. We must deal with it. Religion has been shown to be a dismal failure in this respect because many of its defining elements are characteristically, destructive , lethal, negative, hostile, vicious, and downright unfriendly. [don't you just love words?] At the secular level, the determinants for increased well-being are well understood; freedom, safety of family, security, the rule of law, food, shelter, employment. At the secular level, reasoned and reasonable communities can review their particular faiths, root out and throw away those aspects that do not contribute to well-being, a cleaning out of the skeletons in the cupboard [pretty much as Jefferson did with the NT].

It would be wonderful knowing that a cultural catholic can embrace a cultural muslim and both shake hands with an atheist, and all shake hands with a Jehovah's Witness. I think John Spong has a tremendous insight into how religion can move forward to responding to increasing societal well-being. We are now at the crossroad, either we take the challenge of a paradigm shift, or we allow internecine and grubby theological squabbles continue to beset humanity.