Thursday, January 31, 2013

We call it "going bad" in Narnia

Papalinton: However, the arguments providing epistemic support for atheism is growing as we speak. What remains in the wash, following the exponentially burgeoning level and array of research and investigative discoveries into the nature of reality through the sciences, history, archeology, the humanities etc that demonstrate the god-concept superfluous to explanation, is an attitude; an attitude of denial of evidence, an attitude of disbelief despite the mounting proofs, and the verification and corroboration of those proofs. It is an attitude that defies logic, reason and rational thought. The god-concept is an illusion. Belief in a god is delusion.


Victor, you chose the Confederacy. The Confederacy lost. The Confederacy today is an illusion, despite the flags, meets, celebrations and swapping badges.

VR: Is that your argument, Papalinton? We are winning?

That is not an argument. If the Nazis had won WWII, would the Holocaust have been morally justified?

"But that would be putting the clock back," gasped the governor. "Have you no idea of progress, of development?"

"I have seen them both in an egg," said Caspian. "We call it 'Going Bad' in Narnia...."

C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Interestingly enough, Lydia McGrew makes use of the same Narnia passage in the discussion of a different topic.

Whether the intellectual trends of a culture consistitue real intellectual progress, or not, is precisely what is at issue.





61 comments:

B. Prokop said...

"We're Winning" is a most dangerous argument to make, for so many reasons.

1. One's perception of winning may be based on skewed, cherry-picked, or missing data. Linton says atheists are winning. But reputable, non-partisan surveys have shown that raw numbers of atheists have been dropping worldwide in the past few decades. (We've discussed these surveys on this very website, as I recall.) Remember how not so long ago, Mitt Romney and associates were so convinced they were winning, that Romney didn't even prepare a concession speech until the last moment (and it showed).

2. Even if one's "side" is truly winning at the moment, how long term is that trend? The Axis Powers certainly appeared to be winning from 1939 to 1942. Not so much after that. Putting one's money on Orthodox Christianity winning out over Arianism would have seemed a losing bet in the year AD 500. Where is Arianism today? (I know, I know, it's called "Mormonism".)

3. Even the brute fact of winning does not make one side the right side to be on. Stalin won out over Trotsky in the 1920s. Did that make Stalin right? European settlers slaughtered Native Americans in the 18th and 19th Centuries and stole their lands. Did that make them right to do so?

B. Prokop said...

Besides, if you really think about it... in the atheist viewpoint, what wins in the end is entropy and the heat death of the universe. So who cares?

Zach said...

It is uncharitable to interpret Papa this way. The Confederacy is an analogy, the war is one of reason and evidence, this much is obvious from everything in his first paragraph you quoted.

Now he may be wrong, but there is nothing wrong with a battle metaphor. Don't take it so literally. Sheesh people. It looks bad for us when we take people literally when it is the wrong thing to do--makes us look like we are not good at interpreting texts in a nuanced intelligent way. Grist for their mill.

That said, Papa is exactly wrong. The more we know about the world, the more it becomes clear that morality, mind, and mathematics has not comfortable fit within the natural sciences. There are termites in your foundation, Papa.

Zoë said...

We can see from our tiny little point in infinite space out about 12 billion light years (the distance is actually greater because of expansion); and I as I recall the scientists "THINK" (they don't "KNOW") our universe is actually two to three times the size of the area we can see. They certainly don't, and likely never will, know what lies beyond that distance (let alone what lies beyond 12 billion light years). Every time we turn around we find that scientists are surprised by the unexpected that they find. And remember, they really can't see CLEARLY and in great detail at those unfathomable distances.

...and yet; yet you can say arrogantly, and with absolute confidence, that there is no God or god; and that belief in one is a delusion! HA! You would appear REALLY intelligent if you said something like "Gee! I don't THINK so; but I really don't know! That's beyond my ability. For now I'll settle with simple shock, awe, and wonder".

Then maybe, just maybe, I can consider you to be truly intelligent and learned!

B. Prokop said...

Zoe,

Can't recall seeing you on this site before. Welcome aboard! You'll find most of the posters here are fairly civil - only a few (and very identifiable) trolls. From your first contribution, looks like your voice will be a welcome addition to the discussion.

Papalinton said...

Victor
I really do appreciate your putting my comment up for discussion although I do not agree with your contention, "We call it 'Going Bad' in Narnia...."

No, it is not a case of my winning or loosing. The Confederacy ended almost two centuries ago. It is not the war that I talk of; rather it is about the principals, ideas, ideals and social perspectives bound in the Confederate mindframe. All that remains is the flags, meets, barbecues, sausage sizzles and the celebration of the annual re-enactment.

Like the Confederacy, I say Christianity largely lost its pre-eminence as an all-encompassing worldview some centuries ago, at the time of the 'enlightenment' period of human history. To be sure, Christian belief, practices and ideas do continue today. However, while one can properly say that the Confederate ideal nowadays is little more than swap meets and barbecues, it seems a reasonable proposition, given the evidence over the past decades of religions in Western society clearly trending downward, that religious belief will also be subsumed into a broader social context as was the Confederacy idea. It is not that science, or secularism or naturalism won, it is that Christianity was unable or incapable of preventing or stemming the leakage of good honest christian folk [people not unlike you, Victor, or Bob P] from thinking that there are different means of explanation about the world worthy of investigating, and trying to reconcile the reality of the many scientific discoveries, which led subsequently to a personal review of their own worldview. Skepticism, secularism and naturalism happened not because they won. Rather they happened because religion, Christianity in this case, was unable to fully meet and assuage good people that dogma and long held doctrines was all that was required to meet the new challenges.

The Enlightenment period has long been misconstrued as the period when society apparently lost its basis for morality, its ethics and was the doing of the devil. Christians poo-pooh the Enlightenment as an aberration. Such a view is mistaken. One forgets that Christianity was indeed front and centre of Enlightenment society. It was not a case of untold numbers of atheists, agnostics and secularists popping up out of the woodwork and countering the Christian worldview. The period witnessed a society of good, law-abiding, church-going Christians begin questioning their own worldview. Some examples of the Enlightenment period:

"While it is common to conceive of the Enlightenment as supplanting the authority of tradition and religious dogma with the authority of reason, in fact the Enlightenment is characterized by a crisis of authority regarding any belief. This is perhaps best illustrated with reference to David Hume's skepticism, as developed in Book One of A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–40) and in his later Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding (1748). While one might take Hume's skepticism to imply that he is an outlier with respect to the Enlightenment, it is more convincing to see Hume's skepticism as a flowering of a crisis regarding authority in belief that is internal to the Enlightenment."


Papalinton said...

CONT.

It ushered in a shift in attitude [that which I talk about], rather than a shift in religious belief as the following notes:

: "However, Kant means his system to make room for humanity's practical and religious aspirations toward the transcendent as well. According to Kant's idealism, the realm of nature is limited to a realm of appearances, and we can intelligibly think supersensible objects such as God, freedom and the soul, though we cannot have knowledge of them."

: "The methodology of epistemology in the period reflects a similar tension. Given the epistemological role of Descartes' famous “cogito, ergo sum” in his system of knowledge, one might see Descartes' epistemology as already marking the transition from an epistemology privileging knowledge of God to one that privileges self-knowledge instead. However, in Descartes' epistemology, it remains true that knowledge of God serves as the necessary foundation for all human knowledge.

: " Alongside the rise of the new science, the rise of Protestantism in western Christianity also plays an important role in generating the Enlightenment. The original Protestants assert a sort of individual liberty with respect to questions of faith against the paternalistic authority of the Church. The “liberty of conscience”, so important to Enlightenment thinkers in general, and asserted against all manner of paternalistic authorities (including Protestant), descends from this Protestant assertion."

An overview of the enlightenment period can be found HERE. The quotes above are from the Stanford entry. In general it reflects the basis of my argument although I do rather think that even this entry is somewhat accommodationist in sentiment toward religion.

Victor, in relation to, "If the Nazis had won WWII, would the Holocaust have been morally justified? ", my response is, even as an atheist, an unequivocal absolutely not. But your question illustrates much of what I contend. By your statement, are you claiming that German Christians would have had deep and worrying second thoughts about the holocaust had they won? For the German Christians the holocaust would have been justified. I contend that German Christians would have rationalized and justified the necessity of the holocaust in churches across the country each Sunday, thanking God for their great victory, not only for the righteousness of their cause but of ridding the world of the Juden. History tells Christian winners always thanked God for their victories, even with the massive fire bombing of Dresden and other German cities, and the massive destruction of civilians in Japan.

CONT.

Papalinton said...

CONT.

When one digs deeper than apologetics allows, and understands that Germany with its population overwhelmingly Christian [over 95% as at 1933], equally with Italy [the home of Catholicism] overwhelmingly Christian, as indeed Great Britain and the US [also over 95%], how is it that Christianity, as a worldview, was so abjectly unable to prevent the war? Remember, almost every participant in WW2 were christian, all ostensibly praying to the exact same God. It wasn't as if half were praying to a different god; although Japan certainly worshipped a different god. No amount of pious defaulting to the 'fallenness' of man can ever be an answer or an explanation of Christianity's greatest failing. Such a response is tantamount to cowardice. Reason? German christianity could not be reconciled with British christianity. Italian Catholicism was not the same as American catholicism. WW2 is a period of tragic human history that clearly dispels any truth to the claim that Christianity comes from a higher order cosmological level of intellect. But what It did confirm is that religion is a fully and unconditionally socially-bound phenomenon and cultural artifact, just as Anthropology and Sociology etc. have been informing us. When it really came to the crunch, when it really mattered, when it really counted, the experience of the war starkly highlighted that Christianity could never prevail as a tool for reason, could never be counted upon as an instrument of interdiction. What it showed is the fact that the claims of universal power of Christian thought, the cosmological grandness and the deep abiding truths of living by the christian tenets of morality and ethics, the ideals of Jesus, together with God, were abysmally incapable of preventing conflict. What is showed was Christianity's impotence at a time when great moral courage was called for. [Some showed it, Oscar Schindler is an example] I am not aware of any war or altercation in history ever being prevented by religious or supernatural intervention.

One can equally obfuscate with talk of economics, political differences, regional sovereignty, nationalism, whatever, as the principal drivers of war, but that is simply deflection.

In the matter of Lydia McGrew's article on Welsh society seeking to adopt an 'opt-out' system of organ donation, again the Narnia analogy of 'going bad' is an utterly mistaken perspective. The philosophical underpinning of the 'opt-out' frame of reference is indeed a celebration of life, of living. It strongly emphasizes the positive elements of the Christian notion of living the good life, of a live well lived, helping the needy and the anguished [all of which I subscribe to as an atheist], and quite properly de-emphasizes the more ghoulish and dark death-cultic aspects of Christian mortuary practice. According to Christians the soul is independent of the body at death so there is no requirement for a full body burial. Pity those devout christians during war and terrible accidents that were simply blown apart and only bits of body parts buried, if it were the case that a whole body was necessary for resurrection to heaven at some later stage. A dead person no longer needs organs; indeed perfectly good functioning organs are pretty much useless to a dead person. No greater gift can a person make than to donate an organ to someone in the community in critical need. Why any would imagine an opt-out system be unethical or immoral is beyond any logical or rational reason. And if one is a god-fearing selfish Christian, then they can rightfully opt-out with a stroke of a pen.

And in holding her asinine POV [with the utterly disrespectful use of Narnia] that she does McGrew wants to know why British society is heading down the secular path at an even faster pace?

Papalinton said...

Hi Zoë
"and yet; yet you can say arrogantly, and with absolute confidence, that there is no God or god; and that belief in one is a delusion! "

By your reckoning I'm not allowed to say it. And yet, from our same tiny little point in infinite space, you can - with equal arrogance and confidence?

What gives?

Papalinton said...

I have since re-read Lydia McGrew's piece and I don't think she has a made any substantive case for not proceeding with the 'opt-out' option of organ donation in Wales.

Clearly, speed is of the essence in the usual circumstances surrounding organ transplants. And clearly the opt-out social policy would facilitate that need.

The only opposing argument she makes seems one of allowing other parties, be it family of friends to say no, a circumstance which seems largely predicated on personal or selfish reasons. Perhaps christian family and friends want the right of veto ensuring that loved ones' organs do not end up in an atheist's body or some other libertine member of the community?

As I said earlier, no greater gift can a person make than to donate an organ to someone in the community in critical need. Why anyone would imagine an opt-out system being unethical or immoral is beyond any logical or rational reason. And if one is a god-fearing self-absorbed Christian, then one can rightfully and actively opt-out with a stroke of a pen.

And what is morally or ethically wrong with the Welsh community codifying this great gift, freely given? If a christian does not want to be part of the community, they are welcome to record so. But equally, would it then be morally and ethically right for that opt-out christian to accept an organ should the situation ever arise?

Papalinton said...

A corrigendum

Where it is read: "When it really came to the crunch, when it really mattered, when it really counted, the experience of the war starkly highlighted that Christianity could never prevail as a tool for reason, could never be counted upon as an instrument of interdiction."

it should read: "When it really came to the crunch, when it really mattered, when it really counted, the experience of the war starkly highlighted that Christianity could never prevail as a tool for reason, could never be counted upon as an instrument of interdiction, it could not overcome or curb the existentially deeply-embedded imperatives of cultural difference, cuktural exclusivity and the divergent and contrastive social needs and demands between Christians."

B. Prokop said...

"The cure for skepticism is always deeper knowledge."
(Rufus Jones, Quaker philosopher, 1863-1948)

ingx24 said...

Even if everything Papalinton is saying is true, why does the abandonment of Christianity automatically entail a worldview of scientific materialism?

So much for atheists being "freethinkers". All caught up in the false dilemma of Christianity vs. materialism.

Walter said...

Even if everything Papalinton is saying is true, why does the abandonment of Christianity automatically entail a worldview of scientific materialism?

It doesn't. I think many atheists believe that just because methodological naturalism has been so successful in the field of science that this in turn means that metaphysical naturalism must be true. Naturalism is not the default option after every revealed religion has been discredited.

Zoë said...

Hi Papalinton,

I have no desire to engage in a rhetorical exchange based on a lure that doesn't seem to be a tasty morsel. Said differently, I would not make a good fish.

I have become tired and annoyed by people (both religious and athiest—which is really a religion by the way, merely at the other end of the 'number line') deriding another point of view as being ridiculous or delusional. My attitude and view on the matter is fairly clear in what I stated, and might be expanded upon only by saying that one of the greatest problems our world faces is that far right (religious) and far left (atheist) views seem to prevail or seem, at least, to be the most vocal. We don't make a virtue of looking for answers somewhere in the middle. Perhaps my weakness in life is Goldilocks thinking (some people might call that being a centrist); but I personally think it represents the best approach that accounts for the HUGE uncertainties of the most unfathomable issues we deal with in life, cosmology, religion, love, and politics being among them.

Papalinton said...

Zoë

Beautifully written, Zoë. But before I respond, are you a Christian?

Papalinton said...

Walter
Yes. The abandonment of Christianity does not automatically entail a worldview of scientific materialism.

However, it must be acknowledged, even by theists, methodological naturalism has indeed been extraordinarily successful and is unlikely to be found wanting any time soon. [I would be hard-pressed to expect any believer would be wanting by choice to replace a heart valve by the laying on of hands method of medical intervention, which was pretty much the conventional wisdom at the time of writing of the bible] But if MN was found to be less than successful in explanation, I would abandon it for a better method or form should one come along. That is the reason I moved on from the theological to methodological forms of explanation. The explanatory power of methodological naturalism provided me an avenue into a knowledge base that simply exceeded the capacity of religious exegesis in allowing me a deep insight into humankind, about our environment and our relationship within it, about the world, about the universe and, dare I say it, even about gods [and their extricable and entirely resonant relationship in the cultural milieu in which they were conceived and operate].

However Walter, your deism stance is a little harder to crack, simply for the fact that a belief in Deism is a belief in a benign form of god, one that has already completed its mission and moved on. And deism fits relatively comfortably within a 'methodological naturalism' framework.

Zoë said...

Papalinton,

Well, I'm a Catholic by early training (12 years of Catholic school) Today, I consider myself a Christian by cultural training—that makes me a Cultural Christian I guess. I no more want to give up that affiliation than I want to give up my connection to July 4 and Christmas. However, I've had to come to terms with my faith and with my brain (as well as a few other things).

I have a blog that I don't actively post to. It's just there as a place to park a few 'significant' (LOL) ideas. There are two postings that will give you some 'deeper' idea of where I am. You're welcome to read them.

http://zoespbf.blogspot.com/2011/04/some-thoughts-about-god-universe-man.html

and

http://zoespbf.blogspot.com/2011/09/i-commented-on-facebook-post-today.html

Mr Veale said...

[I would be hard-pressed to expect any believer would be wanting by choice to replace a heart valve by the laying on of hands method of medical intervention, which was pretty much the conventional wisdom at the time of writing of the bible]

That's your definition of Methodological Naturalism???

A method is an explanation??

And we have to choose between every event having a miraculous explanation or a scientific explanation?

And they did heart valve replacements in the Ancient Near East?
By the laying on of hands????

Walter said...

However Walter, your deism stance is a little harder to crack, simply for the fact that a belief in Deism is a belief in a benign form of god, one that has already completed its mission and moved on.

Allow me to make one minor correction to what you said here. While some deists do believe that the Creator wound up the universe like a clock and let it go off on its own accord, that is not quite what I believe. I am broadly Aristotelian in my metaphysics, which is to say that I do not believe that the Deus abandoned the world to go on an extended smoke break. The central defining characteristic of deism is a rejection of revealed scriptures.

Zoë said...

Papalinton,

I just read your post to Walter. It seems that you propose, at least tacitly, that there's a view of faith / religion we should adopt that sort of like the flavor of the month. Deism is passe' and out; and we should move=on to MN which is where it's at—today anyway.

What I'm saying amounts to not trashing other peoples beliefs as delusional, outdated, or passe. Merely state clearly and succinctly, without fancy words, how you believe and why. If it makes sense to someone they'll investigate it and perhaps adopt it. I don't feel we have any right to proselytize, cajole, convince, pressure, or attempt to force another to accept a belief that is both personal and not truly amenable to any REAL proof whatsoever.

Mr Veale said...

"For the German Christians the holocaust would have been justified. I contend that German Christians would have rationalized and justified the necessity of the holocaust in churches across the country each Sunday, thanking God for their great victory, not only for the righteousness of their cause but of ridding the world of the Juden."

Er, the evidence tells a very, very different story. It's a tad more complex.
"Disapproving but passive" explains the stance, and the phenomenon, of the bystander. Towards the end of the war ordinary Germans tended to believe they "had it coming" - deserved terror bombing, etc. - "because of what we did to the Jews"

Plus, the Holocaust did not get underway until the war turned against Germany (the failure to take Moscow by December 1941, and the inevitable entry of the USA into the war, created a sense of crisis in the Reich.)

Plus the Christians who won the war in the West have agonised over the terror bombing of Tokyo and Hamburg and the use of the atomic bomb!

Go to amazon, search "Ian Kershaw","Michael Burleigh", "Timothy Snyder", "Richard Overy", read and learn.

You'd be surprised at the information that people conceal in books. Wayyy better than guessing or googling.

(-:

Papalinton said...

"Allow me to make one minor correction to what you said here. While some deists do believe that the Creator wound up the universe like a clock and let it go off on its own accord, that is not quite what I believe. I am broadly Aristotelian in my metaphysics, which is to say that I do not believe that the Deus abandoned the world to go on an extended smoke break. The central defining characteristic of deism is a rejection of revealed scriptures."

Thanks Walter. As I cast my eye down the various definitions I guess the philosophical stance that speaks closest of my position would be Metaphysical Naturalism.

Papalinton said...

Zoë

Your two blogspots are very nicely articulated. There is little that causes any adverse perspective on my part.

Your POV is that pretty much of a deist. But I guess Walter would be better qualified than I to comment. Nonetheless, all that you raise, about the grandness of the universe, the wonderment of it all, and the good things apparently attributed to Jesus, are all things I too share with you. But for me they are the universals of humanity. They are the what I characterize as the transcendent qualities of humanism shining through, emotionally and psychologically experienced by all people regardless of their culture, society, faith, religion, rising above the internecine squabbles of the limits of these impediments. You seem to be describing universal humanism at its pristine.

I like it.

To be sure religions also express similarities [all the humanist bits] but they are pretty much constrained and always expressed within a particular framework, their framework, the one and only true religion, or some such. This has the limiting effect of exclusivity, of separateness, of difference. To Calvinists the Catholic Church is a whore of Babylon. A further social impediment of institutional religion is found in this statement:

"Christian heresy in the modern era
See also: Christian heresy in the modern era
Although less common than in the medieval period, formal charges of heresy within Christian churches still occur. Key issues in the Protestant churches have included modern biblical criticism, the nature of God, and the acceptability of gay clergy. The Catholic Church, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, appears to be particularly concerned with academic theology.
Perhaps due to the many modern negative connotations associated with the term heretic, such as the Spanish inquisition, the term is used less often today. There are however, some notable exceptions: see for example Rudolf Bultmann and the character of debates over ordination of women and gay priests. The subject of Christian heresy opens up broader questions as to who has a monopoly on spiritual truth, as explored by Jorge Luis Borges in the short story "The Theologians" within the compilation Labyrinths.[26]"
Can be found HERE.

Sometimes one thinks that ecumenism might obviate some of the differences between religions. And then you come across this bit of contemporary nonsense.

You may well think I am a vocal critic of institutional religion and I am. But I am not unduly angry although some bloggers here have raised my temperature at times.





Zoë said...

Papalinton,

The term Deist probably does most accurately describe me. However there are aspects of my belief system, that are very personal to me, that would perhaps make a Deist's skin crawl. No matter. Religion is very personal. My two favorite Deists were Ben Franklin and Tom Jefferson. There are three quotes by them that say something that's been said many times in many ways by many people, but they are still powerful:

"I believe in one God, Creator of the universe.... That the most acceptable
service we can render Him is doing good to His other children.... As to Je-
sus... I have... some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not
dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself
with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less
trouble." -- Benjamin Franklin

". . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they
wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the
arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me
much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."
--Benjamin Franklin

"To the corruptions of Christianity, I am indeed opposed; but not to the genu-
ine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he
wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all
others; ascribing to himself every human excellence, and believing he never
claimed any other." -- Thomas Jefferson

As a closing aside, you do know I'm sure, that pagan religions were far more accepting of diversity than any Christian religion ever thought of being.

Papalinton said...

Mr Veale
'And we have to choose between every event having a miraculous explanation or a scientific explanation?"

Yeah. Pretty much.
But I too use the word to describe situations or events that have happened in my life. For example, every week I buy a Lotto ticket. This week it is for $20 million. It truly will be a miracle if I win, not because god made it happen. Rather, it will be simply mindblowing if I did when one understands and appreciates that on the basis of probabilities my chance of winning is extraordinary low. But we know that it does happen. There is a direct and observable cause and effect. If you don't buy a ticket you will never win.

The kind of miracle you seem to subscribe to is where I win the Lotto without buying a ticket.
Belief in miracles in this sense is just capitulation to superstition.

Papalinton said...

Great quotes Zoë

You will recall that Franklin and Jefferson were a product of their time, the Enlightenment period of human history. Indeed Jefferson reproduced the New Testament, called the 'Jefferson Bible', [but really titled: "The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth"] by cutting out all the bad bits and pasting together all the good bits with plenty of annotations of his own as marginalia. I have a copy. Worth buying one for yourself HERE. The Kindle edition is only $1.86. For a hard cover version, the Smithsonian Edition is the best.

I think Jefferson did all those centuries ago what christians should have done to bring Jesus into the 21st C, as Dr John Shelby Spong, retired Anglican Bishop has also attempted [controversially] to do with his 12 these for bringing Christianity into contemporary society. See them HERE [half-way down the page] And he is still and remains a fervent follower of Jesus. And I'm not sure I could convince him otherwise. :o)

"[P]agan religions were far more accepting of diversity than any Christian religion ever thought of being."
They certainly were more ecumenical in their perspectives.
And as Christopher Hitchens [Yes. Yes. I know he is the loudest of the polemicists] pointed out, it is this exclusivity, isolationist insularity of the central tenets of the contemporary prozelytizing religions that consitute a danger to themselves and to other humans.

Papalinton said...

Rather more correctly, Shelby Spong =Episcopal Bishop

Zoë said...

Papalinton,

Already there; but thanks. I have the Beacon Press edition of the Jefferson Bible; and I read parts of it periodically. I also have Spong's book "A New Christianity for a New World". His positions, along with his not being 'drummed out of the corps', has made me more comfortable with my remaining loosely affiliated to the Episcopal Church, to which I drifted after recovering (sort of) from Roman Catholicism. Spong's attitude toward Jesus is interesting. It's along the lines of Franklin's and Jefferson's actually. He certainly doesn't view Jesus in a theistic way.

I do agree with Hitchen's point of view; though I'm hopeful that in the industrialized countries of the Western World at least, the insular attitudes have been or will increasingly be neutered. It's not even an issue in the Asian sphere. Religions, in a sense by definition, can't change. People can though; and except in specific geographic areas, you see that change in increasingly empty churches, as well as increasing numbers of churches converted to other purposes or demolished. That's gotta tell you something. In the loss of connection to organized religion I do think all the ideas are increasingly being held by people privately whether, like me, in an eclectic mix, or in a more traditional way.

Papalinton said...

Mr Veale
"Er, the evidence tells a very, very different story. It's a tad more complex.
"Disapproving but passive" explains the stance, and the phenomenon, of the bystander. Towards the end of the war ordinary Germans tended to believe they "had it coming" - deserved terror bombing, etc. - "because of what we did to the Jews"


Err No. This is not a tad more cpmplex. This quote is not a reason. It is an excuse. This quote exemplifies the weakness of Christianity at the very moment it is supposed to be at its greatest strength, just as all the apostles were apparently prepared to die for their beliefs.
The population of Germany is 1939 was 80,600,000 [See HERE] of which 95% were Christians. That rounds out to 76,570,000 Christian bystanders. Towards the end of the war German christians knew they were about to 'have it coming'; what else were they to think by that time in the conflict? Contrition and self-reflection are in many ways a cheap consolation for wrongs committed.

Doris L. Bergen in her book, “Nazism and Christianity: Partners and
 Rivals? A Response to Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich. Nazi 
Conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945″ (Journal of Contemporary History Copyright © 2007 SAGE Publications, London, Thousand Oaks, CA and
New Delhi, Vol 42(1), 25–33. ISSN 0022–0094.DOI: 10.1177/0022009407071629)
Richard Steigmann-Gall has vigorously argued (following here some other scholars) that ‘the insistence that Nazism was an anti-Christian movement has been one of the most enduring truisms of the past fifty years’.
Bergen agrees but identifies particular weaknesses both in the analytical framework and the empirical adequacy of Steigmann-Gall´ work. In effect, Bergen argues that Steigmann-Gall both overplays and underplays his case. One cannot make any justice to the insights of either Steigmann-Gall or Bergen, but the following crucial point stressed by Bergen should be widely known:
“The overwhelming majority of Germans remained baptized, tax-paying 
members of the official Christian Churches throughout the 12 years of nazi rule. In hindsight, it may seem impossible to reconcile the vicious hatreds of nazism with Christianity’s injunction to ‘turn the other cheek’ or to square the circle of nazi antisemitism with Christianity’s obvious origins in Judaism. But 
the vast majority of Germans — over 95 per cent by the last count in 1939 —
evidently had no problem doing so.”
Indeed. The Nazis could never have overrun Germany except by appealing to interests, beliefs, hopes and fears of Germans who viewed themselves as good Christians. The Nazis did not come to power thanks to some imagined ideological void following the acceptance of “God is dead”. They came to power on the shoulders of German Christianity.”

"Plus the Christians who won the war in the West have agonised over the terror bombing of Tokyo and Hamburg and the use of the atomic bomb!"
But it didn't stop other Christians from doing the bombing. Even in the most recent case [HERE] of military ordnance inscribed with bible verses, one really needs to question what is it about the christian mentality that would allow such verses to be inscribed on rifles [and bombs and missiles] in the first instance? While cool heads eventually prevailed in this case, it seems people of faith are simply incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, even intuitively, until someone complains or points it out. What value christianity as a moral guide? Christian morality seems always to be a retrospective activity.




Papalinton said...

Zoë

In the matter of atheism being a religion, I do think this perspective is a mischaracterization.
Atheism is not a belief system.
With atheism there is no doctrine, no 'good' book, no dogma, no catechism, no organised tradition, no institutional body or theological administrative organisation underpinning ritual and  ceremony; there is no  procedural observance; no service, no sacrament, no liturgy, no organised and regular worship; no custom or atheistic tradition, and there is no formalised convention, no procedures or established protocol. There are no 'church' officers, no hierarchy of promotion of clergy/ministers, no administrators or CEOs of centralized management arrangements, there is no career service in atheism as you find in theistic belief systems. 

All these are emblematic characteristics of a belief 'system', a religion.  Atheism is not, in and of itself, a systematized process through which direct support and the administration of such a belief system is appropriate or warranted.  There is no institutionalized infrastructure support to maintain, co-ordinate and administer the various elements of an atheistic belief system as is clearly evident in the Roman Catholic organisation, or the Southern Baptist Convention, or any of the myriad mega-church industries. 
 
Atheism per se is not an industry.  By contrast [and I say this with lots of persiflage] all religions are in the 'eternal life' insurance industry through which customers buy personal insurance to cover travel and entry visas into the next world [putatively heaven], following their demise in this one.  The clergy are ostensibly insurance salesman.  [Benny Hinn is a religious insurance hawker/insurance loan shark of a particular stripe.]

I am reminded of Joseph Lewis, American author, writer, who noted:  "Religion is all profit.  They have no merchandise to buy, no commissions to pay, and no refunds to make for unsatisfactory service or results  .... Their commodity is fear;  their inventories are lies ..... their deferred tax assets are guilt and self-abasement." :o)

Papalinton said...

Zoe
I must have missed this. I pick up on your:
"I just read your post to Walter. It seems that you propose, at least tacitly, that there's a view of faith / religion we should adopt that sort of like the flavor of the month. Deism is passe' and out; and we should move=on to MN which is where it's at—today anyway."

Good heaven's no. Whatever belief system you choose is strictly a private matter for you. What I do is critique, the best that I can, and try to elucidate what I contend are the nonsense elements of belief systems that are in the public domain. For example; I comment here at Dr Reppert's site on religion and philosophy. On other sites I make social commentary is the interests of being an active contributor to the debate on social issues going forward.

So whatever, Walter might believe is not a concern to me. However should he posit an angle which seems not substantive, I will make criticism. Equally, I expect whatever I offered will also stand or fall on its own evidential merits against those of an opposing mindframe. But at bottom, I will argue from a MN perspective, because it seems to be the approach that best accommodates most, if not all, information. knowledge and scholarship, even theology, but certainly not from a supernatural perspective, as you can appreciate.

Zoë said...

Papalinton,

First, let me say that while I don't 'frequent' blogs frequently, when I arrived here yesterday for a brief visit to look around at recent posts, my interest was piqued by this one. I do appreciate your comments and criticism because I can see it's clearly done from an intellectually honest and caring perspective.

I do agree generally with your assessment of Atheism as not being a religious system. However my view of it is that many use it as point of reference to criticize other people for their believing as they do. Their beliefs are so ardent and strident that it makes atheism appear like any other religion. So while it doesn't have all the trappings of a religion per se (it does have some loose affiliation organizations though like the Humanism and Naturalism societies that 'speak' for the ideas of Atheism), it is nonetheless a belief system not very unlike the underlying systems of religions. I say that because all the belief systems, despite claims otherwise, lack the absolute knowledge or some reasonable percentage thereof, to reach an absolute or reasonably definitive conclusion about the existence or non-existence of a (first-cause) diety. Atheism has no more claim to 'knowing for certain' that there is no God than Roman Catholicism has claim to 'knowing for certain' that there is.

So religion—no (perhaps); belief—yes; an underlying base for dislike and blind prejudicial criticism—yes. While it is perhaps not a religion in fact, people make it one in practice.

ingx24 said...

Holy shit, Papalinton actually being civil?

What transdimensional portal have i stumbled into D:

Mr Veale said...

Papa

Been googling again I see. Try reading the books, and not reviews and summaries. (FWIW You should have appealed to Goldhagen.)

You advanced a bizarre counterfactual - what Christians would have believed if Germany had won the war. Apparently Niemoller and Bonhoeffer would have rejoiced in the Shoah!
You have no evidence to support such a counterfactual, so you resort to crude and cruel secularist bigotry and mythology. I like you a lot - in fact I'm very fond of your shiny brass neck. And I know you don't mean any harm, but in this case you've said something absurd and sectarian.

Kershaw, Burleigh, Kitchen,and Overy do not describe Nazism as "anti-Christian" or "pagan" -although those terms do describe many Nazis. Hitler, however, was a pragmatist. If he could strike a deal with Stalinist Russia, he could strike a deal with anyone!

However, Nazism was a secular ideology (it did not appeal, and ruled out appeals, to divine revelation.) Hitler expected Christianity to die "of natural causes", despised Christian ethics, and expected a "showdown" with Roman Catholicism and Protestantism after the war.

You can't advance these counterfactuals until you ask questions like - "how much did bystanders know and what could they do?" ; which means asking "which bystanders, where and when?"
1938? 1939? In the "bloodlands"? In Munich? In Poland? On the Eastern Front?
It also means asking "what were they to do?" The Allied answer was "bring the war to a speedy end. The conservative opposition to Hitler came to a similar conclusion...

I would never advance the crude thesis that all secularists would have been happy if Nazism or Communism had eradicated Christianity. Please take similar care in your sermons to the converted.

Graham

B. Prokop said...

Graham,

Good post. There are some lines that should not be crossed, even in cyberspace. And playing games with the Holocaust is one of the brightest of those.

There's another problem with "pretend histories" - you can make them turn out any way you please, and don't have to prove anything. At the very simplest level, I could say "If only I had taken 10th Avenue instead of 8th, I'd have gotten here on time." Maybe. Or maybe if I had taken 10th Avenue, I would have been hit by a car running a red light on Jefferson Street. I'll never know, because it never happened. Playing alternate history is a Fool's Game.

As to German complicity in these crimes - yes, the tragic and undeniable fact is it happened, and there is ultimately no excuse for that fact. But have you ever lived under a Nazi regime? Have I? How would I have behaved in such a situation? Would I have kept as low a profile as possible, not wishing to bring horrible reprisals upon my family and friends? I hope not, but I sometimes wonder. We like to imagine ourselves playing a heroic role in our fantasy alternate lives, but until we're actually tested, who knows?

Lewis has an interesting scene in That Hideous Strength where Mark Studdock first crosses over the line into criminality, and never even notices the fact. Lewis points out that we aren't always faced with three witches prophesying on a blasted heath before some fateful decision.

Papalinton said...

Mr Veale
I don't really mind whether you believe in a phantasm or not but please don't trot it out as the only model for moral and ethical life going forward. It simply isn't true. And please don't trot out that Hitler was not a christian. The words of the man himself [Mein Kampf] are peppered throughout his book. Whether you choose to believe them or not, is largely an apologetical resolution, post facto. To be sure, there have been many writers over the past sixty years that have been driven by a single desire, to attempt to put as much distance between Hitler and christianity as possible. But two simple facts are incontrovertible: Hitler was baptised and raised a Catholic. He states clearly he is a catholic and will always remain so. [You and I can disagree all we like, but the statement and the claim is his]. Hitler remains to this day a baptised Catholic and has never been excommunicated from the Catholic church. HE IS A CATHOLIC TODAY whether we agree with it or not.

The question most germane that any reasonable and ethical person should ask, Mr Veale, is, why has the Catholic Church failed or more pertinently, refused to excommunicate such an abominable person as this man obviously was? We know the church has no impediment, even under Canon Law, to do so:

"The act of communication against the dead is not allowed; however, this restriction can be avoided by a post-motem declaration that the individual is retroactively deemed to have been excommunicated while living." See HERE

One can only conclude that there was nothing done by Hitler that was so evil, so wrong as to warrant excommunication, by any measure under consideration. One can only conclude by its abject inaction the Catholic Church, despite its voluminous rhetoric to the contrary, do not see any reason to excommunicate Hitler even to this day. It must tell you something about Catholic morality and ethics in this instance alone.

So please don't act out the pretense of riding the high and mighty steed of christian morality. 76-plus million christians were not prepared to follow their Apostles and die for right and truth. I can understand the reasons of the 'bystander syndrome' because these are the findings of sociology, of psychology, you know, empirical stuff that I do accept. This is the precise argument that I am making. You appeal to scientific sociological and psychological findings to justify the inaction of christians, all 76-plus million of them in Germany, simply. puts. the. lie. that christianity is a worldview, a cosmological truth, so powerful, so right, so real, that believers [like all their Apostles] are prepared to die for it. What absolute crap. Open your freaking eyes, Mr Veale. Universal Christianity, International Catholicism are nothing more than social clubs, places where like minded people congregate. What the war showed, beyond a reasonable doubt, that christianity in and of itself is not a worldview that people are prepared to defend let alone die for. And what it further showed was that christianity could not even hold a candle of reason and intellect against let alone mitigate the competing cultural and social dictates, and the regionalism of other Christians. When it comes to the crunch, when push comes to shove, christianity is impotent. QED.

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

Bob
"Good post. There are some lines that should not be crossed, even in cyberspace. And playing games with the Holocaust is one of the brightest of those."

No. Not so good a post. I wonder who originally brought it up in this thread?

"How would I have behaved in such a situation? Would I have kept as low a profile as possible, not wishing to bring horrible reprisals upon my family and friends? I hope not, but I sometimes wonder. We like to imagine ourselves playing a heroic role in our fantasy alternate lives, but until we're actually tested, who knows?"

Like you Bob, I too simply don't know how I would respond if I were actually tested in such a real live situation. But unlike you and Mr Veale, I don't subscribe to the omni-max christian worldview which claims whatever the circumstances, christianity is worth dying for, as is countlessly adumbrated in the crucifixion of Jesus and the sacrifices of the Apostles. Clearly and evidentially such a view does not hold. Indeed Mr Veale seems very relieved to be able to rationalize away why christians won't die for the cause by appealing to the secular, scientific sociological and psychological reference frame for reasons why christians don't want to die. From a naturalist or physical [materialist] POV it is easy to explain why christians don't want to uphold christian values and beliefs under the threat of death because Christian metaphysical reasons are just a wank, a figment of the mind, and certainly not a sufficient cause, the defense for which they are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. For me? I would no more defend atheism with my life as I would defending the unequivocal truth of F=ma. But then I don't make any pretense of atheism being a religion.

Darrell Plank, American computer game developer, captures succinctly the essence of Mr Veale's rationalizing:

"Every Christian who tries to escape the path of a speeding bullet with fear in his eye is an example of a 'foxhole conversion' to atheism ... There are a hell of a lot more of those conversions than there are of atheists to Christians."

Naturalism supervenes supernaturalism. Clear and simple. Everything else is just icing of your choice, banana, vanilla, chocolate ......

Papalinton said...

Zoë
It is very much your prerogative to think atheism a religion. But I think I have offered a reasonable case why it should not be so categorized. But ultimately, you make your decision rightly or wrongly on the basis of what you think constitutes facts or proofs.

It is true there are a lot of atheist crazies out there, and vocal [ to quote you: "Their beliefs are so ardent and strident that it makes atheism appear like any other religion." No organisation has a monopoly on crazies. But if that is the basis on which you define atheism as a religion, I can but only disagree.

And yes, there are more places and organisations of the humanist, secular, atheist variety that are forming up. That in itself doesn't make it a religion. Humans are social animals. They are just clubs, pretty much as I have described universal christianity or international catholicism, where like minded people meet [if it is a secular social club] or congregate [if it is a religious social club]. :o)

Places where humanist, secular organizations meet don't make the pretense of being sanctified ground, or sacred places for the ineffable. And as a Deist I think you would agree with this observation. One must remember that 'sacred' is a fully-subscribed derivative of theology. That is why science [one of the principal bases on which MN is founded] " .. trespasses on the boundary of the scared not because it is opposed to the sacred but because it has no concept of sacred at all. 'Sacred' is a religious concept, not a scientific one and not a natural one. To science, nothing is sacred, because sacred is not part of its vocabulary. So when science ignores religious boundaries, it handles religion roughly - like any pithed frog or pinned butterfly. And when science finds facts that refute religious claims - about man, about society, about the universe, or about god[s] - it comes as a tear of the skin that no religion welcomes or can withstand." [Anthropologist Dr David Eller]

I can understand why you say this, "Atheism has no more claim to 'knowing for certain' that there is no God than Roman Catholicism has claim to 'knowing for certain' that there is." Deism lies at the mid-point. Belief in atheism means Deism is unsustainable. And a belief in Deism justifies for whatever reason that a god exists, and who is to then say that christians are wrong, or Muslims, or Hindus, or Rosicrucians, or Jehovah's Witnesses, or Mormonism, or Juju or Christadelphians, or Tribal religions, or Sikhism,; you get my drift. As Carl Sagan noted, Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The existence of a god is an extraordinary claim. In contrast non-belief is just so mundane and ordinary even Catholics and evangelical Christians have non belief in every other religion known to human kind, Islam, Hindu, Rosicrucianism, Jehovah's Witness, Mormonism, Juju, the Christadelphians, Tribal religions, Baha'i, and Sikhism, plus ....





Walter said...

Linton wrote: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The existence of a god is an extraordinary claim.

Many of the tenets of metaphysical naturalism comes across to me as extraordinary claims. All worldviews make claims that will seem extraordinary to those who don't share that worldview. Naturalism is no exception.

Morrison said...

Anyone else notice that Papalinton is spamming with cut and paste posts he has used before?

He tends to make longer and longer posts when he knows he has lost.

Papalinton said...

Wakter
'Many of the tenets of metaphysical naturalism comes across to me as extraordinary claims. All worldviews make claims that will seem extraordinary to those who don't share that worldview. Naturalism is no exception."

If I remember rightly, the Sagan quote was in relation to a believe in a god rather some system of belief. I could just as easily have been one of Deepak Chopra's nonsense spiritualists without a belief in god, particularly a Christian god. Walter, your conflation doesn't really address the claim I contend. My contention remains; what is extraordinary about non-belief?

Walter said...

My contention remains; what is extraordinary about non-belief?

Naturalism is not a non-belief, it is a metaphysical theory (which is a positive belief) that makes claims that can be considered as extraordinary.

B. Prokop said...

The undisputed fact is that the overwhelming majority (close to 100%) of human beings throughout history have believed in God (or Gods), whilst the percentage of those who have not essentially amounts to a rounding error. This makes the claim that there is no God the "extraordinary" claim, and not the other way around. Where is their extraordinary evidence for there being no God?

This is by no means an argument from popularity (I'm not even making an argument here), but simply setting straight the record as to which claim is extraordinary. The atheists using this misbegotten trope remind me of the Bolsheviks (which means "the majority party" in Russian). Do you know how they got that name? They simply started calling themselves that, despite being a distinct minority at the time! And no one called them on it.

Well, I'm calling out the atheists on this one. I'm not going to let them get away unanswered. They're the ones making the extraordinary claims. the burden of extraordinary evidence is on them.

Walter said...

Well, I'm calling out the atheists on this one. I'm not going to let them get away unanswered. They're the ones making the extraordinary claims. the burden of extraordinary evidence is on them

Whether a claim is considered extraordinary or not is a matter of subjective opinion that depends largely on what presuppositions you bring to the table. Belief that a deity exists is an extraordinary claim to a naturalist, just like belief in accidental abiogenesis sounds like an extraordinary claim to me as a deist. For myself, belief that God became a man and walked on liquid water in first century Palestine is an extraordinary claim. It all comes down to presuppositions.

What I am trying to dispel is this privileging of naturalism as the sole default option after religion is rejected.

Papalinton said...

You make some good points, Walter, particularly about some of the theistic beliefs which are indeed extraordinary and simply run counter all that we know about how nature works.

You make the statement, "What I am trying to dispel is this privileging of naturalism as the sole default option after religion is rejected."

No. The privileging of naturalism is not by default or the 'sole default option' route. It is privileged because it works. MN has been extraordinarily successful in allowing humanity to learn, know and understand nature as theology has never been able to do. Naturalism is not a default position. One reaches naturalism by hard work and study. MN is in many ways counter-intuitive to our default position. The default position of humans is religion, not because it is true but rather we now understand that religious belief is a by-product, a secondary co-opted function of our evolutionary genetic mechanisms for survival. Even I default to god for a win of the next $20 million Lotto. And it seems so natural. But we know, well some of us, that that is all just an apparent actuality.

Lawrence Lerner of Tufts U, pretty much encapsulates my thoughts on MN HERE It's a short and succinct statement.

On the matter of a belief in Deism, a robust case can be made demonstrating that it is a variant form of Intelligent Design, perhaps even of the Behe variety, although in the main Deism generally refers to a spectral intelligence having kick-started the universe and rarely if ever thereby tweaking it along. Apart from the god concept residing and solely contained and constrained within the dictates of philosophy, the god of deism/theism seems not to be an operant function in any science that we understand today. That is not to say there might not be a signature found further along our journey but all the indications to date informs us that a punt to an intelligent designer appears superfluous to requirement.

I'm rather enamoured of Dr David Eller's position:

"If there is an Intelligent Designer, scientists only have to revise their science books. If there is no Intelligent Designer, Christians have to throw out their Christian book. Science could live a designer; Christianity would die without one."

Science through applied MN is traveling pretty comfortably without the need to factor supernaturalism into their equations. And if and when science comes across that watch on the beach, MN seems to be the go.


William said...

Well, count me astonished. This thread has survived Godwin's Law.

ingx24 said...

Metaphysical naturalism only "wins" if you assume that science is the only way to gain knowledge. If you take introspection seriously (like 99% of people on the planet do, and rightly so), naturalism (at least of the materialist sort, which is what most people mean when they say "naturalism") is just plain implausible and pretty obviously false.

Papalinton said...

ingx24
"Metaphysical naturalism only "wins" if you assume that science is the only way to gain knowledge. If you take introspection seriously (like 99% of people on the planet do, and rightly so), naturalism (at least of the materialist sort, which is what most people mean when they say "naturalism") is just plain implausible and pretty obviously false."

I could read every book in the library, on mythology and gain a huge amount of knowledge about all things wonderful, but I'm pretty certain this kind of knowledge wouldn't contribute much to my understanding of the world, the universe and about nature, apart from the most indirect, albeit interesting and imaginative, way. This kind of knowledge, however, would tell me heaps about how people think and conceptualize, but little about the reality of nature.

ingx24 I wish I had your bravado in imagining naturalism as 'just plain implausible and pretty obviously false', given you live your life as a fully paid-up 100% naturalist [with the awesome capacity to 'think' of things supernatural], even down to not wanting to stand too close to the edge of a building 10 stories up, and brushing your teeth regularly to combat or kill off other real living entities from compromising your integrity as an organism.

ingx24 said...

The difference between me and a thoroughgoing naturalist is that I actually believe that I have a mind and that I literally think, feel, and am conscious, while the naturalist is occupied trying to explain these things away as nothing but brain chemistry.

I don't know if I believe in God or an afterlife but I sure as hell won't deny my own existence as a conscious mind. That is why I am not a naturalist, at least not in any interesting sense of the word.

Once someone starts saying that the first-person perspective should be ignored in favor of third-person science, it's just not possible to argue with them anymore. You can't argue with someone so obsessed with science that they've completely lost touch with their own existence.

Papalinton said...

ingx24
"
I don't know if I believe in God or an afterlife but I sure as hell won't deny my own existence as a conscious mind."


Funnily enough that is exactly what I think; except I own my own conscious brain, take responsibility for it, and all the thoughts contained therein as well as all the thinking I do. I don't attribute it anyone or elsewhere. I am all for the first-person experience, and my first person experience certainly guides me in my daily living. But what I do not do is take that first-person experience and conflate it as the reality of the world. Our first-person experience is broadly a rough and general guide only, an approximation at best. And it requires a lot of additional intake from other sources of experience, both second and third-person, to shape it into a good and reliable guide.

As far as the rest of your comment, I've done the god bit, done the spiritualism bit, and now I do the science bit. I understand the Adam and Eve version of humanity pretty well but now I understand it even better from an evolutionary, Darwinian perspective. And my first-person experience of the Adam and Eve story didn't quite gel with the second and third person experiences I was enveloping. The second and third person POV has vastly improved my knowledge and understanding of the nature of reality. Sociology and psychology has given me an even greater insight into how belief and theology works. The various disciplines of neurosciences has improved that knowledge and understanding even further.

What seems to have happened to you ingx24, is that you have drifted into the eye of the whirlpool of medieval thinking and have yet to find a way of swimming through the rip. The Aquinian labyrinth is indeed a daunting and formidable structure to find oneself in, so alarmingly brooding that it even has you conjuring up the imagery, "You can't argue with someone so obsessed with science that they've completely lost touch with their own existence."

You statement is surely the money quote of ignorance.

cl said...

"Whether the intellectual trends of a culture consistitue real intellectual progress, or not, is precisely what is at issue."

For us perhaps... but not folks like Paps, Loftus, Dawkins, et al. They're content to just thumb their noses and hide behind a pretense of intellectual fortitude shouting sneers to make their point.

In tech news, JQuery and other companies have begun dropping support for outdated, useless browsers like IE6. The analogy for blogging should be readily apparent: what reason do we have to engage those who contribute nothing substantial to this intellectual climate?

Sad but not surprised to see a certain proved perjurer STILL being paid the respect of conversation around here....

Over and out for another period of undisclosed length.

Zoë said...

Papalinton,

I think it's fair to say that we disagree; and I think it's also fair to say that it is unlikely the disagreement will go away. That said, and only for the purpose of sharing ideas, I have but one final thought as to why Atheism, despite it's efforts to stand above the fray, to set itself apart, is still, at its base, a religion.

Atheism can claim scientific knowledge (which we both know has huge limits) as its source of authoritative and definitive information to claim its solution to the ultimate equation as being god=0. Other religions (by whatever name) lay claim to their own body of knowledge as the source of definitive information to claim the solution to the equation as being god=1. Then there are other views that either lie somewhere in between (to the extent that's possible), or something greater than 1. I don't think I've ever heard of a solution to the equation having a minus sign preceding it.

You'll notice that despite the proposed solution to the equation god=x, and despite efforts to distinguish each other as unique in some way and in possession of the ultimate solution, Atheism and every other religion all share the same ultimate interest or focus—namely, god. That sameness of focus is precisely why I say Atheism is just one of the many religions in our world; and the lack of a definitive solution to the equation god=x is why Atheism's solution is merely a belief.

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

Thanks cl.

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

Zoë

God=zero [atheism]--------God=1 [theism]
Like you, I agree, anything that claims +1 or greater, or -1, aren't a part or element along this continuum.

You say, "Atheism can claim scientific knowledge (which we both know has huge limits) as its source of authoritative and definitive information ..."

Two things. It is absolutely correct to say scientific knowledge has huge limits; scientists admit that freely and objectively, but of the knowledge science has been able to substantiate, it stands pretty firm and robustly definitive. Having said that, science is always been ready to throw out a claim proven false and begin operating on the newly substantiated paradigm or knowledge base. And finally, to imagine scientific knowledge as authoritative and definitive, akin to that of the 'chiseled-in-stone' Christian paradigm, is both a misplaced charge and a mischaracterization.

Of interest Zoë, are you a science denier? You seem to view science as a deep and abiding threat to religious belief. Your rhetoric, invoking idioms, 'ultimate equation', 'ultimate solution' and 'ultimate interest and focus', bespeak of an approach or attitude of indignation, a resentment towards scientific evidence, proofs, and facts being used to rebut or refute the existence of [putatively live] supernatural entities. I don't think this is helpful.

"Atheism and every other religion all share the same ultimate interest or focus—namely, god."

Here I disagree, unless you wish to call science god.
I think there is a definitional problem here.
Atheism is not a religion. It is a conclusion: there is no god.
Naturalism would be the nearest system of belief sustaining atheism [but not necessarily so]- a worldview.
Theism is not a religion. It is a conclusion: there is a god.
Christianity is the system of belief - a religion and a worldview.
Deism is not a religion. It is a conclusion. [What its system of belief entails I don't know; I have not given much thought to it.]

Naturalism [the system of belief through which one could arrive at atheism] is certainly not about searching for god. Its prima facie interest and focus is searching for knowledge.

Zoë said...

Papalinton,

You mischaracterize and misconstrue a lot.

God=1 is not Theism alone; and God=+1 is paganism which is a valid alternative as is God=0. Both God<0 and God<1 but >0, while perhaps valid alternatives, are nonetheless not capable of being envisioned by me and, I dare say, most people in the world (but then again nor can dimensions 5 through 11 of String Theory).

As for imagining scientific knowledge as authoritative and definitive, akin to that of the 'chiseled-in-stone' Christian paradigm, is both a misplaced charge and a mischaracterization., well that's what Atheism claims constantly as its source, its muse. Like the many variations of 'good books' there is always room for change. And please don't forget, Judaism is far more open to new and different ideas within it's paradigm than the vast majority of 'Christian' denominations ever thought of being. Are you perhaps overreaching?!

With respect to are you a science denier?, quite the contrary. But until science can tell me with far more certainty than the partial theories it is currently offering,

• what the Quantum Foam is and whether or not it is definitively sentient
• explain what is happening at the singularity at the center of a black hole and determine if the singularity that gave rise to our 'universe' 13+ billion years ago was actually the singularity of a gargantuan black hole located in another universe or elswhere in what appears to be the infinite reaches of space.
• what dark matter and dark energy are
• are there other universes along with where are they and how many
• what purpose do dimensions 5 through 11 of String Theory serve, if they even exist

it (science) is and will remain merely ONE of many things I utilize to define my faith, which is expressed by the equation God=1 with a set limit of one that is non-theistic (sorta like Bishop Spong, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson—but then I already said that). Are you perhaps overreaching?!

With respect to an approach or attitude of indignation, a resentment towards scientific evidence, proofs, and facts being used to rebut or refute the existence of [putatively live] supernatural entities., again, quite the contrary. What I am indignant regarding is your attitude (which is quite commonplace in Atheist circles from what I have observed) toward people who include a faith in a 'supernatural' God in their explanation of life, the world, cosmology, and the universe. Many of your comments to this post (as well as the premise of your new post reflect your attitude. But again, I've already said this.

Finally, as for my contention that Atheism is a religion because it's focus is God, I knew you wouldn't agree with me because you can't—you'd be like the computer that repeats "Cannot Compute" when faced with a problem your programming isn't prepared to solve. To do so would cause your sense of world order to explode. When you say it's a conclusion all you're really saying is that it's the solution to the god equation. Oh, and BTW, Theism is not simply a conclusion that there is a God. Deism reaches that same conclusion. Theism is a conclusion (perhaps assumption) formulated after solving the god equation, that God is a special kind of God.

Papalinton said...

Zoë
We can but agree to disagree.