Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Ring Cycle and Its Mythical Foundations



The Ring Cycle written and composed by the nasty anti-Semite Richard Wagner is famous for many things.  One thing it is not famous for is that yours truly is part of a presentation of the Ring as part of the Opera Australia (OA) Ring Cycle Festival in Melbourne.
The version of the Ring I am in.  Cher (Miss Sharry), Madonna (Justine Anderson) The King (Richard Wood) Kiss (Peter Hanway). I am Garry Glitter (at the right - not the best the character to play) who is playing Hunding (a thug - also not the best character to play).  If you want to see The Ring in a Ring Spectacular, Saturday and Sunday at 5 pm this weekend and next (the whole thing for an hour and a bit) email: julie@emotionworks.com
In celebration of Wagner’s 200th birthday, OA is mounting the whole 17 hour ordeal.  The Ring Cycle is a 4 opera extravaganza of helmeted women warriors (the Valkyries), adulterous gods, incestuous siblings, incestuous nephew and aunt and heaps of gratuitous killings.  It is a cult classic and the whole season was booked out a year ago at over a thousand bucks for the tetra-logy. 
But it is a funny thing to be so popular.  The story and music are inaccessible.  The story is remote from the modern world and complex.  The operas are mainly unmelodious recitative without any really catchy tunes.  The most hummable is the Ride of the Valkyries but that is the exception rather than the tuneful rule. 
The rest can be a turn off.  Indeed the phrase, “it ain't over till the fat lady sings” derives from the pain endured waiting for the Valkyrie Brünnhilde to finish off the last 5 hour song fest with a twenty minute aria.  But the piece has survived and thrived.  The dramatic music apart, the power comes from the stories that make up this narrative.
Stories often have a mythic power that overcomes objections about lack of plausibility or evidence.  The truth though fascinating, is never a big thing if a legend is either loved, consoling or addresses troubling issues.  The founding fathers of sociology such as Weber and Durkheim documented the power of the story to the troubled human.  Durkheim in particular documented stories that are almost identical in variety of different cultures because of their power to console.
We see this universality of popular tales in the Ugly Duckling.  The narrative where the downtrodden conquers pain and oppression is found everywhere.  Cinderella, Forrest Gump, most romantic comedies, Oliver Twist (and lots of Dickens) are just some of the countless stories that speak to us all of a mythic justice in a cruel world.  In Christian liturgy, the equivalent of the Ugly Duckling is the Magnificat where Mary’s prayer assures us that those in suffering are raised high by God and bastards get it in the neck.  This is Cinderalla and the notion of Karma, writ large.
"My soul doth magnify the Lord: and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

…And his mercy is on them that fear him: throughout all generations.

…he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek.

He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away."

 So the strength of the narrative of the Ring is buttressed by the potent story lines that appeal to those humans in search of consolation in a harsh and unjust world.
The Ring story is based on Nordic myths just like the Lord of the Rings.  Here is a Durkheim/Campbell type comparison of stories in the opera that are found in other fantasies in European culture.
RING STORY
SIMILAR STORIES
SOCIAL PURPOSE
A magical ring that both empowers and corrupts those who wear it.
Nordic and Tolkien ring stories
A narrative about the corruption of absolute power and the inability of power to make the powerful happy.  It is both consoling to the powerless and a warning to would be dictators
Brünnhilde is asleep until kissed
Sleeping Beauty
Don’t worry if you wait years for a bloke, someone will come along.
A magical sword only a son of Wotan the King of the Gods can extract
Excalibur
Somehow, a man born to lead will find the means to get there.
The hero Siegfried slays a dragon
St George and the dragon
There is always a hero out there to save us from shit.
The Rhinemaidens are beauteous women who live in the river Rhine and have no sense of the cold
Mermaids
There are always inaccessible hot magical women who blokes can only dream of. Get over it.
Pay your debts.  The whole saga is essentially a building dispute because the Gods wanted to avoid paying the builder of their wonder home, Valhalla
Many tales of Aesop were about work and the need to do it such as the Hare and the Tortoise. Many bible stories are about fairness and payment.
No free lunches in Wagner’s world.



Brünnhilde sacrifices her life to save the world
Jesus
Sacrifice and martyrdom are good to do. (Problematic for the godless).
Sigmund and Sieglinda are twins who have an incestuous relationship.They die and their heroic but dumb son is murdered.
Zeus and Hera Greek Gods who are husband and wife and brother and sister – not to mention Oedipus. Lots (a pun) of biblical stories.
Incest is problematic.

The great commentators on the function of myth such Joseph Campbell (with his 4 reasons for myths) and Claude Levi Strauss all stress the role of myths to support the social order.  Myths hold out the hope of magic, stress moral lessons and convey the sense that we are cared for. 
For the godless like me who specialize in challenging the stories that underpin our culture, we need to know what we have gained and lost by challenging the veracity of our myths and legends.  Our cause will be served by making those myths that are still perceived more like Aesop tales.  These fables are seen as beguiling fantasies with a messages because they are acknowledged as fictional.  Let us save the stories but not be seduced into either accepting that they are true or that we need to endure 17 hours of difficult music to get them.
What is your view?
What is the enduring power of myth?
Will we ever live in a world without a need for myth?
Does the bible fit well into this analysis of myth?
Over to you….

Next time - what does one do if a great artist like Wagner is a racist, sexist swine whose music was appropriated by the Nazis??? 

154 comments:

  1. "What is the enduring power of myth?"

    Its in our DNA, something to do with the ancestors.

    "Will we ever live in a world without a need for myth?"

    Education is our only hope.

    "Does the bible fit well into this analysis of myth?"

    Absolutely.
    Determining exactly what is fact, and what is fiction, is the problem.
    Apparently, it is impossible to create the appropriate psychology devices, required for successful social engineering, without resorting to superstitious myths.

    "Next time - what does one do if a great artist like Wagner is a racist, sexist swine whose music was appropriated by the Nazis???"

    Try to get a part in Carmen.
    Easily the best opera music for my money.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Dick,

    Good to read your blog. You touched on it, but the interest for me is Wagner in the context of Hitler's rise during the Wiemar years, and the subsequent use of mythology, then ideology to underpin the holocaust.

    To answer your questions:
    What is your view? If only I knew.
    What is the enduring power of myth? In a socio-political context, on one level mythology can contextualise a profligate sense of god given destiny - as the Americans say "annuit coeptis." Perhaps, it is useful to look at a society largely bereft of a pervading, established philosophy - namely ours. Sure, you could tame a few narrative threads and say that we, as Australians, have our bushrangers and our convict past etc, but there's nothing absolute and totally morphed (i.e., totally mythologised). Where does this absence of myth leave us? That has always been an interesting thought for me. On a slightly unrelated note, I have heard it said that Tolkien's Lord of The Rings is a kind of surrogate British myth in view of the fact that they have no classical mythology like the Greeks and Romans. I dunno what I think about that. Just a thought.

    Will we ever live in a world without a need for myth? I doubt it. In some sense, myths are Platonic, aspiration. As you have pointed out, they typically espouse some archetype that we, perhaps subconsciously, aspire to. Perhaps it is wired into our evolution, and that these threads are an evolutionary advantage whether they have any basis in a physical world.

    Does the bible fit well into this analysis of myth? If we take the line "Myths hold out the hope of magic, stress moral lessons and convey the sense that we are cared for" then absolutely - yes it does. Taking a step back, there are many, many examples where the bible has legitimsed the social order, usually from a racially loaded setting (slavery, subjugation etc). So stemming from the notion that myths reinforce (my words perhaps not yours) the social order, the bible has historically performed this function with aplomb, I am less sure that the contemporary bible still underpins social order, and functions as a myth (or more importantly - to mythologise), I tend to think that nowadays the bible is so socially moderated, that it's more of a self help book. Look at how it's read. People will happily quote Jeremiah 29.11 till the cows come home, but you never hear about the more extreme rulings in the OT, because as I said, the whole thing is heavily socially moderated.

    Thanks for the read. Looking forward to the weekend!
    Ed

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. " I have heard it said that Tolkien's Lord of The Rings is a kind of surrogate British myth in view of the fact that they have no classical mythology like the Greeks and Romans."

      When someone suggests that I feel like belting them upside the head with a collection of Celtic stories.

      Delete
    2. What about your collection of biblical myths. They may not be indigenous to Britain but the origin of the myths are irrelevant given the huge sign up to those myths.

      Delete
    3. Wow Ed, thanks for the contribution. Just heading now to you know where, to kill you, and will answer later in more depth. Thanks.
      Dick

      Delete
    4. Hey Ed,

      I don't think the Bible legitimised the social order of first century Greco-Roman culture at all. It was very revolutionary in a number of ways, but it isn't a manifesto for social revolution, but for religious revolution.

      Socially, it was fairly forward-thinking in advocating for things like 'social security' - looking after widows and those who can't look after themselves.

      But religiously speaking, it was so revolutionary it led to mass persecutions in the Roman empire, because Christians refused to toe the party line and worship the Emperor. It was very counter-cultural in the Roman Empire!

      Delete
  3. (Sorry to come a bit late to the party that is your previous post, Dick, but I just had a note to make relevant to that discussion that I thought might not be seen there!)

    MalcomS

    "I have ALREADY said that my definition of belief is ".. the acceptance of a point of view without evidence or in contradiction to the evidence." I have also said: "I don't equate evidence with proof. Evidence is prior to and necessary for proof." Please pay attention."

    Yes. You also said you agreed with the definition stating belief did not lack evidence, only proof. You can't agree with competing definitions.

    You do realise that you believe 'belief' has a certain definition, when in fact the simplest Google search contradicts how you believe 'belief is defined?

    You have ".. acceptance(d)... a point of view without evidence or in contradiction to the evidence."

    -Mark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wait. 'Acceptanced' isn't a word...

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS11:29 PM

      Mark, nee Anonymous: "You also said you agreed with the definition stating belief did not lack evidence, only proof"

      Of course. I also said that evidence is prior to proof.

      Furthermore, you require *sufficient* evidence for proof - *some* evidence may not be sufficient.

      None of this contradicts my definition which I repeat for the last time: "Belief" is the acceptance of a point of view without evidence or in contradiction to the evidence."

      Hope that helps. The matter is closed.

      Delete
    3. "Furthermore, you require *sufficient* evidence for proof - *some* evidence may not be sufficient. "

      Yeah, which is why the two different definitions are so different.

      There is plenty of evidence that Jesus was actually who he said he was. There is no proof in a scientific sense (though, historiographically speaking, the evidence is virtually overwhelming).

      I'm sure you can see why this point is so important. You are trying to dismiss Jesus by redefining a modern English word.

      "Belief" cannot be dismissed as the acceptance of a point of view without evidence or in contradiction to the evidence. You don't need to repeat your definition. Your definition is wrong.

      Here it is from Merriam-Webster "3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence" (this being the only definition from this dictionary that even mentions the word 'evidence').

      Delete
    4. MalcolmS8:58 AM

      Mark: "You are trying to dismiss Jesus by redefining a modern English word"

      You can't "dismiss" Jesus by redefining words! *You* "believe" in Jesus [as distinct from know that he existed]. I don't know whether the historical Jesus existed or not. In fact I don't give a stuff about Jesus. It is "possible" the historical Jesus existed. So what? What I "know" is that, *if* historical Jesus existed, he was not the product of virgin birth, was not the "Son of God," did not perform miracles and was not resurrected from death since all those are violations of the laws of nature and the law of identity.

      "Believe" what you like but believe any of those and such belief does not constitute *knowledge.*

      Delete
    5. Malcolm

      "You can't "dismiss" Jesus by redefining words!"

      Yes, that's what I said.

      I'm not arguing about the difference between belief and knowledge - that was Ralph!

      All I'm saying is that your definition of 'belief' is wrong. I have more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus than you do for your definition of 'belief'.

      Delete
    6. MalcolmS4:38 PM

      Mark: "I have more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus than you do for your definition of 'belief'"

      You have no evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Although I'm sure you "believe" it. In fact there is no evidence for *miracles* in the history of existence - not one. We live in a causal universe - not a miraculous one!

      Delete
    7. MalcolmS

      "You have no evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Although I'm sure you "believe" it. In fact there is no evidence for *miracles* in the history of existence - not one. We live in a causal universe - not a miraculous one!"

      Well actually there are multiple independent eyewitness accounts, and reports of hundreds more contemporaneous eyewitnesses.

      You, however, are sustaining a belief that 'belief' is defined differently to all the evidence.

      Delete
    8. "Well actually there are multiple independent eyewitness accounts, and reports of hundreds more contemporaneous eyewitnesses."

      No, you have claims of eye witness accounts.

      Delete
    9. MalcolmS6:08 AM

      Mark: "... there are multiple independent eyewitness accounts, and reports of hundreds more contemporaneous eyewitnesses"

      Don't kid yourself. Even claims of a historical Jesus are only hearsay accounts. Not a single historian, philosopher, scribe or follower who lived before or during the alleged time of Jesus ever mentions him.

      Read:

      http://nobeliefs.com/exist.htm

      Delete
    10. "Even claims of a historical Jesus are only hearsay accounts. Not a single historian, philosopher, scribe or follower who lived before or during the alleged time of Jesus ever mentions him."

      Well, John does. As does Peter. And Paul. And Luke. And Mark. Is it any shock that they, who lived in an oral society and barely wrote anything down, waited so long to write things down?

      I'm pretty surprised you believe that webpage without doing any of the research yourself, as you claim you have no 'belief', only reason.

      What the page is doing is presenting one side of an argument (which is obvious from the sources listed at the bottom). It doesn't present fact (and sometimes is totally misleading - apparently what Tacitus says about Jesus is only hearsay, so we can't trust it. First of all - no. Second of all, if that were true, you'd have to apply those standards of skepticism to his entire account of the Roman Empire).

      A brief Analysis of Mark and John show they're independent accounts based on eyewitness testimony (Mark doesn't claim to be an eyewitness, but John does, and there seems little reason to doubt that - unless we doubt Tacitus was the one who wrote Annals, in which case we probably know nothing reliable about the Roman empire).

      If you believe everything in that page (which you appear to do by linking to it, but don't state, so I'll reserve full judgement on that one for now), your own descriptions of how you come to know things are way off.

      You can believe that page, that's ok. That's your evaluation of the evidence. But don't pretend you're above Christians because you don't stoop so low as to 'believe' things.

      Delete
    11. MalcolmS7:47 PM

      Mark: "I'm pretty surprised you believe that webpage without doing any of the research yourself, as you claim you have no 'belief', only reason. What the page is doing is presenting one side of an argument (which is obvious from the sources listed at the bottom)"

      So, you are NOT presenting one side of an argument??!! Don't make me laugh. I have already said that I don't know whether historical Jesus existed/did not exist. Nor is it even important.

      At the time of Jesus, if there was such a person, the Jesus sect existed, according to the myth, as radicals within Judaism and were regarded, properly, as cranks by most Jews. By the time Christianity was being systematised into a religion there were *numerous* Jesus cults with a huge disparity of views. The Church founders simply accepted those views it wanted, eliminated the rest and treated those adherents as heretics. How much of the Christian myth existing today corresponds with actual history is unknown.

      However, what we can say with absolute clarity, is that nobody was ever the product of virgin birth, was not the "Son of God," did not perform miracles and was not resurrected from death since all those are violations of the laws of nature and the law of identity. All of this is obvious to anyone who knows that reason is man's only means of knowledge and that "belief" is only a throwback to the epistemology of barbarians and savages.

      Delete
    12. "Nor is it even important."

      That's a belief! Even according to your own personal definition, that's a belief.

      "All of this is obvious to anyone who knows that reason is man's only means of knowledge and that "belief" is only a throwback to the epistemology of barbarians and savages."

      Reason tells me to evaluate the argument properly, rather than just link to a webpage presenting one biased view.

      Reason tells me to accept the history as presented by historians, rather than you. There were 3 main movements that opposed Biblical Christianity - Gnosticism (which was Greek, and didn't arise from the Bible), Marcionism (a variation of Gnosticism), and Montanism (kind of an extreme version of modern Pentecostalism).

      "The Church founders simply accepted those views it wanted, eliminated the rest and treated those adherents as heretics."

      I'm not sure who you mean by the church founders (the church founders were, well, Jesus, and those people who wrote the New Testament). The leaders of the early church didn't pick and choose beliefs they wanted and found Apostolic letters to fit. They had the New Testament, and based their church on that.

      Delete
    13. MalcolmS11:30 PM

      Mark: ""Nor is it even important." That's a belief!"

      No, it's a fact! For the reasons already given Christianity can be relegated to the dustbin of history.

      "I'm not sure who you mean by the church founders (the church founders were, well, Jesus, and those people who wrote the New Testament)"

      I did not mention the "church founders." I referred to the "Church founders" which clearly means the Catholic Church. Prior to the Council of Nicaea, Christianity consisted of a disunified rabble of Jesus cults. Why was it disunified? Because of the lack of recorded history of the alleged Jesus years! Of all the various "beliefs" the Council simply arbitrarily decided which of the various positions would in future be the Orthodoxy! In other words they just made stuff up and declared that henceforth it would be what constituted Catholic Church "belief."

      Get over it.

      Delete
    14. "No, it's a fact! For the reasons already given Christianity can be relegated to the dustbin of history."

      It's most certainly not a fact. It is vitally important to me. If Jesus never existed, then I'm wasting my life. You're telling me it is a fact that it doesn't matter one way or the other if Jesus even existed? You're telling me it is a fact that MY life doesn't matter.

      "In other words they just made stuff up and declared that henceforth it would be what constituted Catholic Church "belief.""

      I have no idea where you're getting this view of history. It is totally divorced from the facts.

      The Coucil of Nicaea was convened because of the Trinitarian controversy (and in particular, the Arian answer to this problem). Constantine called the council because he saw a united empire, but a theological divide. There were 3 groups - a small Arian group, another Alexandrian group, and a significantly larger group in between. Arians thought there was a time when Jesus was not. the Alexandrians thought that was wrong, and wanted to use strong language (i.e. limited/no language of Jesus being the 'Son of God'). The large group sat between, denying the Arian view, but not seeing a need for the strong language of the Alexandrians - they stuck to the Biblical language. The biggest divide was over semantics.

      "Arius and 5 other delegates refused to sign the creed of Nicaea" (Boer, A Short History of the Early Church) (even though Wikipedia says there were only 2). Doesn't sound like a 'disunified rabble of Jesus cults' to me. Sounds like a few guys from one city misinterpreting a metaphor.

      To return to the point - belief is not accepting a point of view without or against the evidence. Belief can be in light of the evidence. This is certainly not what you seem to be doing here in regards to the history of Christianity.

      Delete
    15. RalphH 29/114:59 PM

      “However, what we can say with absolute clarity, is that nobody was ever the product of virgin birth, was not the "Son of God," did not perform miracles and was not resurrected from death since all those are violations of the laws of nature and the law of identity.” (MalcolmS7:47 PM)

      What do you mean by “absolute clarity” Malcolm? Are you suggesting these things are unquestionable? Or are you simply telling us what you believe? If Jesus really is the ‘Son of God’/God incarnate then the other claims become quite credible. There is no evidence that Jesus is not who he claims to be. Your denial is not therefore based on any evidence.

      “All of this is obvious to anyone who knows that reason is man's only means of knowledge and that "belief" is only a throwback to the epistemology of barbarians and savages.”

      I think you confuse ‘basic’ knowledge and believable or apparently true knowledge. Reason is applied to knowledge to analyse and ascertain these things.

      The source of knowledges are the physical senses and the mind itself. Reason alone however is not sufficient. If the underlying assumptions formed from one’s existing beliefs are faulty, even though the reasoning process itself is impeccable, a faulty conclusion will be reached.

      Your assumption that God does not exist - that there is nothing substantial other than the substance of Nature, ‘colours’ your whole reasoning process and you end up proving to yourself what you already had decided upon i.e. that God, the soul, eternal life etc. does not exist outside Nature.

      If, on the other hand, one assumes that God does exist, reason can be applied to the evidence (sacred scriptures and spiritual experiences) to assertion the how, why and wherefore. Any faulty claims (where there is an apparent contradiction) can be weeded out with reason as the guide remembering always that ‘reason’ can easily become the tool of the subjective (emotions).

      Delete
    16. RalphH

      I think it's very dangerous to reason from an assumption. To assume that God exists, then 'prove' it through reason is the same as assuming God doesn't exist, then 'proving' it with reason.

      What we CAN reason from is evidence. There is evidence that Jesus came back from the dead like he said he would. We can reason from this that he probably was who he said he was.

      (I think ALL reasoning will fall back on assumptions at some point in time, though. We can assume the validity of historiographical method, we can assume our ability to perceive truth, we can assume that Jesus was or was not real, etc.)

      Delete
    17. MalcolmS6:04 PM

      Mark: "It's most certainly not a fact. It is vitally important to me. If Jesus never existed, then I'm wasting my life"

      Yes, you are wasting your life. We are in agreement.

      Delete
    18. MalcolmS6:07 PM

      RalphH: "What do you mean by “absolute clarity” Malcolm? Are you suggesting these things are unquestionable? Or are you simply telling us what you believe? If Jesus really is the ‘Son of God’/God incarnate then the other claims become quite credible. There is no evidence that Jesus is not who he claims to be. Your denial is not therefore based on any evidence"

      How many times do I have to repeat myself Ralph? I have no evidence for the nonexistence of God!

      I am not required to prove the "nonexistence" of anything. The nonexistent leaves no evidence! I already *know* it is not possible to prove the nonexistence of a nonentity. I have no evidence for the nonexistence of centaurs either! You should study some logic sometime Ralph!

      The *onus of proof* of God rests with only one person - he who asserts the positive - the person who asserts God's existence [or virgin birth, or "incarnation," or miracles or resurrection from death]. That's you Ralph! Can't do it can you? The *onus of proof* principle is a venerable law of logic which predates Christianity and which you can read all about in the writings of Aristotle.

      Your "beliefs" are outside the laws of nature and of man. They are outside all "evidence," do not constitute knowledge and are rejected by the rational.

      My position that God does not exist is as valid as my position that centaurs don't exist! Please stop boring me Ralph.

      Delete
    19. "You're telling me it is a fact that MY life doesn't matter."

      It doesn't matter, you just want it to.

      Delete
    20. " There is no evidence that Jesus is not who he claims to be. "

      Yes there is, physics and biology for a start. There's no evidence (claims are not evidence) that he is who the Bible claims he is.

      "I think you confuse ‘basic’ knowledge and believable or apparently true knowledge. Reason is applied to knowledge to analyse and ascertain these things."

      No, reason is applied to things we think we know in order to see if they make sense or not to us.

      "The source of knowledges are the physical senses and the mind itself."

      The senses do not supply knowlegde, they just supply information about what we are able to sense. Mirages are not real and therefore are not knowledge.

      "Your assumption that God does not exist - that there is nothing substantial other than the substance of Nature, ‘colours’ your whole reasoning process and you end up proving to yourself what you already had decided upon i.e. that God, the soul, eternal life etc. does not exist outside Nature."

      You do the same thing with your assumption that God does exist. And you fail to apply reason.

      Delete
    21. MalcolmS7:28 PM

      Mark: "RalphH I think it's very dangerous to reason from an assumption"

      Especially Ralph's assumptions!

      The only valid starting point of a rational process is the perception which comes from our senses. Our senses are the only contact with reality that human beings have.

      That's not where Ralph starts :)

      Delete
    22. MalcolmS7:46 PM

      Stranger: "Mirages are not real and therefore are not knowledge"

      Mirages are real and constitute knowledge.

      A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky.

      Delete
    23. Mark: If Jesus never existed, then I'm wasting my life.

      It’s sad that you think this way. But that’s what religion does to people. You get a one in a gazillion chance at life. And all you can do with it is obsess about a man who no one really knows the truth about

      Delete
    24. RalphH 30/115:11 AM

      “How many times do I have to repeat myself Ralph? I have no evidence for the nonexistence of God!” (MalcolmS6:07 PM)

      Malcolm, I’m not suggesting such an impossibility. The object of this exercise is not to ‘prove’ or disprove the existence of God, it’s to demonstrate the nature of belief. You do have evidence of the claim and no way to discredit it. The reports of Jesus’ life and teaching don’t discredit it.

      Absence of the awareness of evidence is not evidence of absence of evidence. So one either believes the claim to be true or believes it to be false. Either way it’s a belief, not a reasoned conclusion.

      “The *onus of proof* of God rests with only one person - he who asserts the positive - the person who asserts God's existence [or virgin birth, or "incarnation," or miracles or resurrection from death]. That's you Ralph! Can't do it can you? The *onus of proof* principle is a venerable law of logic which predates Christianity and which you can read all about in the writings of Aristotle.

      There is no “onus of proof’ of God. The only person one can ‘prove’ God to is oneself by experiencing how belief/faith (and it has to be a heart-felt belief not merely a rationalised one) in God changes one’s life. It has to be a self-realisation because God operates into and through people by means of principles of truth and goodness.

      “Your "beliefs" are outside the laws of nature and of man. They are outside all "evidence," do not constitute knowledge and are rejected by the rational.”

      Beliefs can extend beyond the ‘evidence' of the physical senses. They can be about knowledges of goodness and truth and they can be confirmed by the rational provided the rational is not shackled to sensual evidence.

      “My position that God does not exist is as valid as my position that centaurs don't exist! Please stop boring me Ralph.”

      Sorry about boring you Malcolm. Maybe this will wake you up. Your “position that God does not exist” is a belief (not a reasoned conclusion as you like to think), just as my position that God does exist is a belief. If you’re happy with your belief, that’s fine - it’s your life - it’s your choice - but it does not degrade or negate my belief in anyway.

      Delete
    25. MalcolmS8:25 AM

      Oops, my reply went below. Zeus works in mysterious ways :)

      Delete
    26. "There is no “onus of proof’ of God."

      Yes there is, you claim he exists, therefore it is up to you to prove it.

      "The only person one can ‘prove’ God to is oneself by experiencing how belief/faith (and it has to be a heart-felt belief not merely a rationalised one) in God changes one’s life. "

      So if someone believes in another deity and their life is change by that belief then does that mean that deity exists?

      " It has to be a self-realisation because God operates into and through people by means of principles of truth and goodness."

      Many people who say they believe in God don't show much goodness or truthfulness.

      "Beliefs can extend beyond the ‘evidence' of the physical senses."

      Doesn't mean they are about things that are real though.

      Delete
    27. Malcolm

      "Yes, you are wasting your life. We are in agreement."

      So you agree that saying "the existence of Jesus doesn't matter" is not a fact, but a belief?

      "Stranger" believes my life DOESN'T matter, I ".. just want it to." For me to be wasting it, as you say, it MUST have some meaning. Which one of you holds a belief, and which of you holds to reason?

      "The only valid starting point of a rational process is the perception which comes from our senses. Our senses are the only contact with reality that human beings have."

      That's a well-documented assumption, too. Do you think reason is weakened because it's starting point is always an assumption?

      Delete
    28. MalcolmS5:12 PM

      Mark: "So you agree that saying "the existence of Jesus doesn't matter" is not a fact, but a belief?"

      No, I agree that you are wasting your life on the unproven, the undemonstrated and the unexplained.

      "For me to be wasting it[life], as you say, it MUST have some meaning"

      Yes, that's true. However, life qua life has no intrinsic "meaning." ['What is the meaning of life?' is an invalid question.] Meaning is an epistemological term and your/my life has meaning only if you/I give it meaning. That meaning can be rational OR irrational depending on the choices you make and the values you hold.

      "That's a well-documented assumption, too. Do you think reason is weakened because it's starting point is always an assumption?"

      Sense perception is a natural process, infallible and not assumption. Perception *results* from a physical process between reality and sense organ and brain and cannot be otherwise. Perception is axiomatic and the anteroom of cognition. It's man's only contact with reality. A valid process of reasoning *starts* with the empirical data of sense perception - not dogma or revelation. To start with dogma and revelation is "faith"[feelings] which is not a process of reasoning but the path to ignorance. Why do you see this with Zeus, Durga and Kali yet not with the Christian God?

      Delete
    29. MalcolmS

      "No, I agree that you are wasting your life on the unproven, the undemonstrated and the unexplained."

      So you still think that it's a fact that the existence of Jesus doesn't matter, despite the enormous impact he has had on the subsequent 2000 or so years? What's your reason and logic behind this?

      "Yes, that's true."

      So which one of you believes, and which one of you knows?

      "Sense perception is a natural process, infallible and not assumption."

      I'm not sure how you'd apply that to an amputee retaining some kind of perception of their lost limb. How do you apply that to someone who says "far out, I just saw that guy who was executed 4 days ago"?

      Delete
    30. MalcolmS11:49 PM

      Mark: "So you still think that it's a fact that the existence of Jesus doesn't matter, despite the enormous impact he has had on the subsequent 2000 or so years? What's your reason and logic behind this?"

      The existence/nonexistence of Jesus does not matter. The disaster of what followed is a fact of history whether Jesus existed or not! "Belief" in Jesus had the "impact" - and most of it to the detriment of Western culture.

      "So which one of you believes, and which one of you knows?"

      I haven't the foggiest notion what you are talking about!

      ""Sense perception is a natural process, infallible and not assumption." I'm not sure how you'd apply that to an amputee retaining some kind of perception of their lost limb. How do you apply that to someone who says "far out, I just saw that guy who was executed 4 days ago"?"

      I would not apply either example to "sense perception." The first is an example of *memory* and not sense perception.

      To the second guy I would reply: "Cool, did you get that job at the morgue?" OR "Don't be ridiculous! Go and seek further evidence to resolve the contradiction." What would you say to the second guy? "Oh Great Chosen One, you have witnessed a miracle"?? If so, you are a kook!

      Delete
    31. " For me to be wasting it, as you say, it MUST have some meaning."

      No, it it just means you could be doing better things.

      Delete
    32. "Sense perception is a natural process, infallible and not assumption."

      Try asking someone who is partially deaf, blind, insensitive to touch, has no sense of smell if their senses are infallible. Then we have hallucinations, optical illusions, stage magic and inebriation.

      "Perception *results* from a physical process between reality and sense organ and brain and cannot be otherwise"

      Actually it results from signal processing in the brain, which first needs a working sense organ and then a properly functioning brain. Even then our brains can process the signals in such a way that what we think we are seeing is not the reality.

      Delete
  4. " There is evidence that Jesus came back from the dead like he said he would."

    Claims are not evidence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MalcolmS8:22 AM

      RalphH: "Malcolm... The object of this exercise is not to ‘prove’ or disprove the existence of God, it’s to demonstrate the nature of belief"

      Cool... then when are you going to do it? You claim to "believe" there was an historical Jesus born of a virgin, who was the "Son of God," who performed miracles and was "resurrected" from death! Others claim to "believe" there is a tooth fairy! Big deal!

      You claim that your "position that God does exist is a belief" and "not a reasoned conclusion." OK. Go sit next to the tooth fairyist and chat with him and stop wasting the time of adults! However be quick as the tooth fairyist, unlike yourself, is about to grow up!

      Since by your own admission "belief" has nothing to do with knowledge who cares about the "nature of belief"! The tooth fairyist won't for long!

      Delete
    2. Eyewitness reports are evidence. Researched reports are evidence. Multiple written reports produced by an oral society are evidence. Invitations for contemporaneous people to question 500 people about the veracity of a claim is evidence. The history of crucifixion is evidence. The absence of human remains is evidence. Multiple radically changed lives by followers of Jesus is evidence. Multiple deaths for the name of Jesus is evidence. Lack of material gain by these followers is evidence. A complete lack of any other alternative explanation for these events is evidence.

      But you're right, isolated claims aren't necessarily evidence.

      Delete
    3. MalcolmS5:21 PM

      Mark: "Eyewitness reports are evidence"

      So, you believe in the *Rainbow Serpent* I presume!

      Delete
    4. MalcolmS5:30 PM

      Mark: "Eyewitness reports are evidence"

      Who provided the eyewitness report of the Holy Ghost raping the Virgin Mary?

      Delete
    5. RalphH 30/116:47 PM

      “Cool... then when are you going to do it? You claim to "believe" there was an historical Jesus born of a virgin, who was the "Son of God," who performed miracles and was "resurrected" from death! Others claim to "believe" there is a tooth fairy! Big deal!” (MalcolmS8:22 AM)

      I already have Malcolm. Belief is an integral part of fully understanding anything. The more one understands the more one can believe it, if that understanding shows it to be true. Knowledge does not necessarily involve understanding. Knowledges can be/are infilled with meaning and purpose as one reasons about them and lives them over time.

      “You claim that your "position that God does exist is a belief" and "not a reasoned conclusion.” "

      One can believe some knowledge (e.g. the existence of God) blindly with little or no reason behind it but when I say my “position …. is a belief”, I do not exclude reason. You on the other hand exclude belief and impose the idea that it’s all a matter of reason when it’s really about the direction belief takes. If reason favours a proposition belief in it as true is encouraged/enhanced. If it does not, belief in it’s being false is enhanced.

      When God is defined sensibly (as an entity/a being capable of creating and sustaining the cosmos) one can reason sensibly about that concept. If God is arbitrarily equated with imaginary creatures of fiction or natural objects/entities, reason has already flown out the window.

      Footnote:- I did explain the virgin birth in the last (changing-church) discussion (RalphH 12/114:06 AM) but you dismissed it as “a complete waste of time” because it didn’t agree with your beliefs.

      Delete
    6. MalcolmS9:02 PM

      RalphH: "Belief is an integral part of fully understanding anything.... Knowledge does not necessarily involve understanding"

      Really? Would you care to name one thing which you "fully understand"? Wouldn't you have to be omniscient to make such a claim? You clearly haven't a clue what it means to "know" something since you haven't a clue about how human consciousness functions. FYI knowledge is a mental grasp of a fact(s) of reality reached either by perceptual observation or by a process of reason based on perceptual observation. "Belief" does not even come up!

      “One can believe some knowledge (e.g. the existence of God) blindly with little or no reason behind it but when I say my “position …. is a belief”, I do not exclude reason"

      Yes, you exclude reason. That's why, whenever you are asked to "prove" the existence of God, you scurry like the coward you are behind the illusion of "belief" and renege on the promise of reason. "Belief" is irrelevant to reason and the antithesis of knowledge and truth. "Belief" is the traveling companion of shysters and bigots.

      "When God is defined sensibly (as an entity/a being capable of creating and sustaining the cosmos) one can reason sensibly about that concept"

      "Definition" is not possible prior to knowledge of the entity being defined. Your definition of God does not come from something you observe in reality but from the fantasy of mythical "belief." You cannot define a triangle as a *two dimensional figure bounded by three straight lines* until you observe a number of actual triangles in reality. In the same way you cannot define God until you actually observe him/her/it in reality. Definition by "belief" is entirely arbitrary, outside human cognition and does not lie in the domain of reason. It commits the logical fallacy of begging the question.

      "God.... (as an entity/a being capable of creating and sustaining the cosmos)...."

      That's a case in point! The cosmos/universe cannot leap into/out of existence. Which means the cosmos/universe is eternal and uncreated. Nor does it require "sustaining" - it is self-sustaining in accordance with the 'law of identity.' You may well "believe" that God created the cosmos 6000 years ago! You have not a shred of evidence for that position and I have heaps of geographical evidence that it's a lie!

      "Footnote:- I did explain the virgin birth..."

      You did not *explain*! You provided arbitrary, ineffable, nonevidential "belief" based on.... diddly squat.

      Delete
    7. Malcolm

      "So, you believe in the *Rainbow Serpent* I presume!"

      Er, I haven't seen any convincing eyewitness testimony of that. My point was that all the pieces of evidence add up to a convincing whole.

      "Who provided the eyewitness report of the Holy Ghost raping the Virgin Mary?"

      I won't bother answering because you have clearly not read the Biblical account, or are confused as to what 'rape' actually is.

      Delete
    8. MalcolmS11:10 PM

      Mark: ""So, you believe in the *Rainbow Serpent* I presume!" Er, I haven't seen any convincing eyewitness testimony of that"

      Really? You should read the dreamtime stories sometime. They are the oral accounts stretching back through the generations to the *creation* where the first "ancestors" witnessed the Rainbow Serpent. The Rainbow Serpent, which is often portrayed as a creator god, is named for the obvious similarity between the shape of a rainbow and the shape of a snake. Some claim that the similarity between snake and rainbow suggests the cycle of the seasons and the importance of water in human life. When the rainbow is seen in the sky, it is said to be the Rainbow Serpent moving from one waterhole to another, and the divine concept explained why some waterholes never dried up when drought struck. Sounds as good as any of your "beliefs."

      ""Who provided the eyewitness report of the Holy Ghost raping the Virgin Mary?" I won't bother answering because you have clearly not read the Biblical account, or are confused as to what 'rape' actually is"

      I know what rape is and there was no *consent* in the account I read so long ago. Slam, bam, thank you ma'am! Compulsory motherhood! So, who was the "eyewitness" to that divine obscenity?

      And, whilst you're at it, who was the eyewitness to the alleged "fact" that the wife of Joseph was a virgin and that the marriage had not been consummated?

      Delete
    9. RalphH 1/121:15 PM

      “Really? Would you care to name one thing which you "fully understand"? Wouldn't you have to be omniscient to make such a claim?” (MalcolmS9:02 PM)

      Obviously I meant as fully as we are capable of understanding.

      “FYI knowledge is a mental grasp of a fact(s) of reality reached either by perceptual observation or by a process of reason based on perceptual observation. "Belief" does not even come up!”

      I’ll settle for your first suggestion (perceptual observation). That would I take it involve mental perceptions - dreams, visions, introspection). Your second (a process of reason) would be more involved in understanding rather than simply knowing.

      “Yes, you exclude reason. That's why, whenever you are asked to "prove" the existence of God, you scurry like the coward you are behind the illusion of "belief" and renege on the promise of reason.”

      Just because I don’t reason as you do or come to the same conclusions, does not mean that I do not reason. I hide behind nothing. I’ve already said (many times) and explained that one cannot “prove” the existence of God using reason and the scientific method. It’s actually important that this be so. But one can prove God to oneself, using reason to confirm their belief.

      If God were provable in a concrete, scientific sense we would no longer be in freedom to believe in (Him) or not. We would no longer believe in (Him) from love but from necessity. We would lose our free-will in spiritual matters and along with it, our humanity.

      “ "Belief" is irrelevant to reason and the antithesis of knowledge and truth. "Belief" is the traveling companion of shysters and bigots.”

      I’d say that belief and reason are partners in accruing knowledge and truth.

      “ "Definition" is not possible prior to knowledge of the entity being defined.”

      If this be so, it would be a waste of time proposing a hypothesis and testing it. One has to have a general idea of what one is looking for and it better be a sensible one rather than an arbitrary one.

      “Your definition of God does not come from something you observe in reality but from the fantasy of mythical “belief.” ”

      On the contrary it comes from the observation of order, causation and purpose.

      “Definition by "belief" is entirely arbitrary, outside human cognition and does not lie in the domain of reason. It commits the logical fallacy of begging the question.”

      I think you’ve got that tangled Malcolm. How many scientific discoveries have been made because someone believed there was something there, defined what they were looking for and went searching? One can make silly, arbitrary suggestions/definitions (like FSM or celestial teapot) or one can make sensible, logical and rational suggestions that fit well with what is already known, understood and believed.

      “The cosmos/universe cannot leap into/out of existence. Which means the cosmos/universe is eternal and uncreated.”

      So you’ve arbitrarily defined the cosmos as “eternal and uncreate” because you’ve observed a number of them (just like your triangles)?

      If the cosmos were eternal and uncreate how does one explain the fact that it is constantly changing and parts’/aspects of it are constantly being created and ceasing to exist? Why would the whole be different from the sum of it’s parts?

      “You may well "believe" that God created the cosmos 6000 years ago! You have not a shred of evidence for that position and I have heaps of geographical evidence that it's a lie!”

      How little you understand me Malcolm if you find it necessary to stereotype me as a fundamentalist creationist. When creation began is not important. I’m quite happy to accept the scientific evidence (I somehow doubt that it will support your “uncreated” theory).

      I don’t believe that creation was a one-off event. I believe it is an on-going process - that the entire universe is constantly being recreated like a computer screen refreshing as sustaining life from it’s Creator flows into it.

      Delete
    10. RalphH 1/122:24 PM

      “I know what rape is and there was no *consent* in the account I read so long ago. Slam, bam, thank you ma'am! Compulsory motherhood! So, who was the "eyewitness" to that divine obscenity?” (MalcolmS11:10 PM)

      The “obscenity” is all your Malcolm. You may have “read so long ago” (is it a major problem to re-read) but you obviously did not understand or even attempt to understand the story. Your misunderstanding is fuelled by your ignorance and arrogant denial of spiritual things.

      There is obviously no physical contact between the infinite and the finite. Interesting how you can accuse others of cowardice whilst supposedly championing a rational approach and then come up with this cheap sensationalism.


      As to consent, see Luke 1:38, 46-55. You also display no understanding of Jewish history, culture or spiritual beliefs.

      Delete
    11. "Eyewitness reports are evidence."

      No they are not, they are claims. Someone may accept them as evidence but they are only evidence of someone making that claim.

      "Researched reports are evidence"

      They are not evidence that the report is true.

      "Multiple written reports produced by an oral society are evidence."

      They are evidence that the people believed those things, not evidence the things were real. Unless you count written down oral history of Bushmen as evidence their beliefs are true. Do you?

      " Invitations for contemporaneous people to question 500 people about the veracity of a claim is evidence."

      That's just another claim, not evidence.

      "The history of crucifixion is evidence"

      It's not evidence Jesus was crucified, you'd need a body for that.

      "The absence of human remains is evidence. "

      It's a claim, no one knows where he was buried and if it was true we have no way of knowing how the body, alive or dead, was removed.

      "Multiple radically changed lives by followers of Jesus is evidence."

      It's evidence belief changes lives, not evidence the belief is real. Unless you accept that every time a believer of any other religion/spiritual path says their life has been changed it's evidence for their beliefs.

      "Multiple deaths for the name of Jesus is evidence."

      Yes it's evidence that delusions get people doing stupid things, not evidence their beliefs were true.

      " Lack of material gain by these followers is evidence."

      Which followers? Not most of the current Churches. Again claims but no evidence.

      "A complete lack of any other alternative explanation for these events is evidence."

      Why do Christians have to resort to lying to support their beliefs?

      Delete
    12. "When God is defined sensibly (as an entity/a being capable of creating and sustaining the cosmos)"

      That's not a sensible definition.

      Delete
    13. "one cannot “prove” the existence of God using reason and the scientific method. It’s actually important that this be so. But one can prove God to oneself, using reason to confirm their belief."

      You really are an idiot Ralph, one can't prove God to oneself using reason if one can't use reason to prove the existence of God.

      "If God were provable in a concrete, scientific sense we would no longer be in freedom to believe in (Him) or not"

      You really are an idiot Ralph, people manage to believe that the moon landings didn't take place.

      "I’d say that belief and reason are partners in accruing knowledge and truth."

      That's because you want your beliefs to be true, one doesn't have to believe something before knowing it as true.

      "On the contrary it comes from the observation of order, causation and purpose."

      No, it comes from your complete ignorance of how the universe works.

      "One can make silly, arbitrary suggestions/definitions (like FSM or celestial teapot) or one can make sensible, logical and rational suggestions that fit well with what is already known, understood and believed."

      When are you going to start?

      "If the cosmos were eternal and uncreate how does one explain the fact that it is constantly changing and parts’/aspects of it are constantly being created and ceasing to exist?"

      Such as?

      "I’m quite happy to accept the scientific evidence"

      Liar.

      "I don’t believe that creation was a one-off event. I believe it is an on-going process - that the entire universe is constantly being recreated like a computer screen refreshing as sustaining life from it’s Creator flows into it."

      That belief does not come from any scientific knowledge. So you lied when you said your belief comes from knowledge.

      Delete
    14. MalcolmS11:22 PM

      RalphH: "I don’t believe that creation was a one-off event. I believe it is an on-going process - that the entire universe is constantly being recreated like a computer screen refreshing as sustaining life from it’s Creator flows into it"

      LOL

      That analogy sounds remarkably similar to eternal existence Ralph!

      Jumping on the band-wagon are you??

      Except that you haven't advised as to how the Great Refresher "refreshes" Himself.

      Er... was that a "One-Off Event"? :)

      Delete
    15. RalphH 2/121:05 PM

      “RalphH: *”I don’t believe that creation was a one-off event. I believe it is an on-going process - that the entire universe is constantly being recreated like a computer screen refreshing as sustaining life from it’s Creator flows into it”*

      LOL

      That analogy sounds remarkably similar to eternal existence Ralph!

      Jumping on the band-wagon are you??” (MalcolmS11:22 PM)

      So, does your concept of “eternal existence” involve a self existent eternal being providing the existence and motion/motivation of the noumenal world. If not, I suggest it’s you “jumping on the bandwagon” by claiming eternal existence for something that of itself cannot be eternal.

      “Except that you haven't advised as to how the Great Refresher "refreshes" Himself.”

      The ‘Great Refresher’ doesn’t require refreshing. (He) is “existence itself”, the creator of all temporal existence (which requires sustaining).

      Delete
    16. "The ‘Great Refresher’ doesn’t require refreshing. (He) is “existence itself”, the creator of all temporal existence (which requires sustaining)."

      Prove it.

      Delete
    17. MalcolmS4:01 PM

      RalphH: "So, does your concept of “eternal existence” involve a self existent eternal being providing the existence and motion/motivation of the noumenal world"

      You know that it doesn't! Yet you equate my *existence is eternal* with your "(He) is “existence itself.”" Phony.

      BTW Ralph, the noumenal/phenomenal issue is a false distinction.

      "If not, I suggest it’s you “jumping on the bandwagon” by claiming eternal existence for something that of itself cannot be eternal""

      Existence is the only thing which can be and is eternal.

      Delete
    18. MalcolmS4:05 PM

      RalphH: "The ‘Great Refresher’ doesn’t require refreshing. (He) is “existence itself”"

      Wow!!

      Ralph finally comes out for pantheism!

      Even my nose boogies are divine! :)

      Delete
    19. Malcolm

      "Really? You should read the dreamtime stories sometime."

      I'm not sure why you're suddenly confusing written and verifiable historical accounts with myth, but OK.

      "I know what rape is and there was no *consent* in the account I read so long ago. Slam, bam, thank you ma'am! Compulsory motherhood! So, who was the "eyewitness" to that divine obscenity?"

      You believe this contrary to the evidence. Look at the evidence.

      "And, whilst you're at it, who was the eyewitness to the alleged "fact" that the wife of Joseph was a virgin and that the marriage had not been consummated?"

      It's quite likely Luke spoke to Mary herself. He was in the same region as her for some years while with Paul. A perfect opportunity for some research.

      Delete
    20. MalcolmS5:35 PM

      Mark: "I'm not sure why you're suddenly confusing written and verifiable historical accounts with myth, but OK"

      There is as much "evidence" for the Rainbow Serpent as there is for Mary's virginity. Diddly squat. There is considerable evidence that both are impossible. *Both* are hearsay.

      "You believe this contrary to the evidence. Look at the evidence"

      Impregnation by a Spook? An angel? Evidence? Loony!

      "It's quite likely Luke spoke to Mary herself. He was in the same region as her for some years while with Paul. A perfect opportunity for some research"

      Quite likely?? Research?? Research of what was not written down by eyewitnesses? Loony!

      At least with the Rainbow Serpent we can go out in a sunshower and watch Him beavering away. Last time I saw Him He was moving away at the same speed as the car! Boy, can He go! He was jumping mountain ranges with a single bound! There was a Small One with Him! The product of Virgin Birth? Must do some research!

      Hang on a minute - I better record that for history - at least the aborigines weren't making stuff up :}

      Delete
    21. Malcolm

      "There is as much "evidence" for the Rainbow Serpent as there is for Mary's virginity. Diddly squat."
      "Quite likely?? Research?? Research of what was not written down by eyewitnesses? Loony! "

      Well, I'd say Mary was an eyewitness to this event. You want an independent eyewitness to a private meeting? Do you apply these high standards to other biographies you read?

      ""You believe this contrary to the evidence. Look at the evidence""

      Still haven't looked at the evidence? From Oxforddictionaries.com, rape is "the crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will". First, there's no sexual activity in the account. That's kind of the point. Second, there's nothing against Mary's will - Luke 1:38: 'And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”"

      Still believe it despite the evidence?

      Delete
    22. "I'm not sure why you're suddenly confusing written and verifiable historical accounts with myth, but OK."

      None of the Bible accounts about Jesus are verifiable.

      "It's quite likely Luke spoke to Mary herself. He was in the same region as her for some years while with Paul. A perfect opportunity for some research."

      It's also quite likely it's al made up.

      Delete
    23. MalcolmS11:17 PM

      Mark: "Well, I'd say Mary was an eyewitness to this event"

      Really? Please advise where I can read her personal diaries[or the Gospel according to St Mary] from which your report emanates. My sightings of the Rainbow Serpent are far more convincing.

      "Still believe it despite the evidence?"

      You are the "believer." There is no such thing as "evidence" for miracles or the ineffable since such evidence contradicts the evidence of the real world.

      Delete
    24. Stranger (3:03 PM)

      Evidence - noun
      1. the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.
      "the study finds little evidence of overt discrimination"
      synonyms:proof, confirmation, verification, substantiation, corroboration, affirmation, authentication, attestation, documentation"

      Eyewitness evidence apparently doesn't fit this criteria? Have you ever seen any TV show or movie with a court scene?

      My point was that all these small evidences added together constitute a fairly significant body of evidence.

      Delete
    25. Malcolm

      "Really? Please advise where I can read her personal diaries[or the Gospel according to St Mary] from which your report emanates. My sightings of the Rainbow Serpent are far more convincing."

      Do you hold every historical account to this standard? Do you say "I won't believe Tacitus for a second until I see with my own eyes the supposed Imperial records he supposedly had access to. Until then, I think it's rubbish"? Do you honestly expect a woman who in all likelihood was illiterate to have a written diary (which I doubt you'd accept as evidence anyway)?

      "You are the "believer." There is no such thing as "evidence" for miracles or the ineffable since such evidence contradicts the evidence of the real world."

      I'm talking about your belief that Mary was 'raped' despite the accounts clearly not conforming to your belief.

      Delete
    26. MalcolmS4:36 PM

      "Malcolm... Do you honestly expect a woman who in all likelihood was illiterate to have a written diary"

      No, nor the Rainbow Servant.

      What I "honestly expect" is that she was not a virgin when she gave birth. If she gave birth. If she existed. She also did *not* hobnob it with spooks and angels! All of that one can *know* with certainty!

      We live in a *causal* world, Mark, not a world of miracles. No matter how hard you *believe* or *wish.*

      Delete
    27. MalcolmS5:04 PM

      BTW Mark

      The myth of the virgin Mary reflects more on the Christian pathological obsession with the *sex is evil* doctrine than anything else. Otherwise it would make no difference whether she was a virgin or not. The same obsession shines through in the garden of Eden myth.

      Delete
    28. "Eyewitness evidence apparently doesn't fit this criteria?"

      No it doesn't, especially claims of eyewitness accounts.

      "My point was that all these small evidences added together constitute a fairly significant body of evidence"

      They are not evidence, they are claims.

      Delete
    29. MalcolmS1:01 AM

      Mark: "Malcolm... I'm talking about your belief that Mary was 'raped' despite the accounts clearly not conforming to your belief"

      You're way off the mark Mark. That's not my "belief." I don't "believe" she was a virgin - or even that she even existed. I don't "believe" such things took place and was pointing out the contradictions you get involved in when you start invoking miracles. I'm simply pointing out the implications of the myth. Here's someone else who agrees with me:

      http://godlesspaladin.com/2010/02/15/the-rape-of-the-virgin-mary/

      Hope that helps!

      Delete
    30. Malcolm

      Yes, you implied (if not stated) the story goes that Mary was raped by the Holy Spirit. I clearly showed that was a belief that contradicted the story.

      "The myth of the virgin Mary reflects more on the Christian pathological obsession with the *sex is evil* doctrine than anything else."

      The Bible starts with a married couple, ends with a marriage feast, and has a whole book about sex write in the middle of it all.

      Delete
    31. MalcolmS6:07 AM

      Actually, the Bible starts with a spook pulling the universe out of his hat.

      Delete
    32. Actually, the Bible starts with a spook pulling the universe out of his hat.

      !Boing!

      Existence exists and that's all you can say about it
      rofl

      Delete
    33. RalphH 6/128:05 PM

      “BTW Mark

      The myth of the virgin Mary reflects more on the Christian pathological obsession with the *sex is evil* doctrine than anything else. Otherwise it would make no difference whether she was a virgin or not. The same obsession shines through in the garden of Eden myth.” (MalcolmS5:04 PM)

      It does no such thing Malcolm. Try to use your reason rather than display your prejudice. The prophecy that God incarnate would be born of a virgin was given hundreds of years before the birth of Christ (Isaiah 7:14) so it has nothing to do with the *sex is evil* doctrine you have claimed. There may be some Christians who think that way but there is no such Christian doctrine.

      When you think about the incarnation rationally this is the only way an infinite and eternal being could enter the finite world without completely annihilating it by the absolute power of (His) presence (it would be like the sun dropping in on the earth for a visit).

      As to the incredibly silly claim that Mary was/would have been raped, such foolish thinking is a result of a failure to recognise the duality of finite and infinite/temporal and eternal. In a natural conception God uses an agent to implant the seed that contains the soul which owes it’s existence directly to God.

      In the case of the incarnation, instead of the soul being implanted in a male seed it was implanted directly into the female egg. No physical means is used in either case because it is a spiritual event. If Jesus had a human father he could not possibly have been God/the Son of God but then that’s the idea his detractors are trying to sell isn’t it (circular thinking!!).

      If one believes in God, Jesus’ virgin birth it’s quite rationally possible. If one doesn’t believe it’s not even worth considering but there is absolutely no evidence that it could not be so. IOW, it’s all a matter of belief (either way) - not evidence.

      Further the claim that there was 'no consent' by Mary is a complete furphy. Because of the prophecy it was the dream of every Israelitish maiden to become the mother of the Messiah as illustrated by Mary's response (Luke 1:38, 1:46-55)

      Delete
    34. MalcolmS8:07 AM

      RalphH: "When you think about the incarnation rationally..."

      That's a contradiction in terms if ever there was one!

      "... this is the only way an infinite and eternal being could enter the finite world without completely annihilating it..."

      You just don't get it do you Ralph? If a so-called "infinite" entity does not extend into the "finite world," then, it is *not* infinite. In fact, if God existed and was truly infinite, *everything* would be God and God would be everything! The correct worldview would be pantheism!

      "... it would be like the sun dropping in on the earth for a visit"

      And just as stupid!

      "In a natural conception God uses an agent to implant the seed that contains the soul which owes it’s existence directly to God"

      Loony!!

      Delete
    35. RalphH 7/121:51 PM

      RalphH: "When you think about the incarnation rationally..."

      “That's a contradiction in terms if ever there was one!” (MalcolmS8:07 AM)

      There is a contradiction if, and only if, one does not believe in God/is not considering a sensible, non-natural concept of God. Non-belief is not the same as non-existence.

      "... this is the only way an infinite and eternal being could enter the finite world without completely annihilating it..."

      You just don't get it do you Ralph? If a so-called "infinite" entity does not extend into the "finite world," then, it is *not* infinite. In fact, if God existed and was truly infinite, *everything* would be God and God would be everything! The correct worldview would be pantheism!

      On the contrary Malcolm,you fail to mark the distinction between a creator and the created. If pantheism were so, nothing would/could deteriorate/die, everything would be infinite and eternal like God. As things are, the only being/entity that can attain to eternal life (does not include the physical body) is one with the capacity to choose to recognise and align with God.

      “*”... it would be like the sun dropping in on the earth for a visit”* (RH)

      And just as stupid!”

      It’s called an analogy, designed merely to demonstrate the massive discrepancy and hence the need for accommodation.

      “*”In a natural conception God uses an agent to implant the seed that contains the soul which owes it’s existence directly to God”* (RH)

      “Loony!!”

      What I’ve described is a process that one can follow logically. IMO, without God everything just happens (i.e. no creation because nothing to create) - magic - illogic. Good luck with that!

      Delete
    36. "There is a contradiction if, and only if, one does not believe in God/is not considering a sensible, non-natural concept of God."

      No Ralph it's a contradiction because it involves God, which is not a rational concept.

      "What I’ve described is a process that one can follow logically."

      No one can't.

      " IMO, without God everything just happens "

      Your opinion is worthless as it is based on profound ignorance and what you want to be true, not what is true.

      Delete
    37. "In the case of the incarnation, instead of the soul being implanted in a male seed it was implanted directly into the female egg"

      That's supposed to be considering it rationally? Men don't have seeds.

      Delete
    38. RalphH 7/124:34 PM

      “That's supposed to be considering it rationally? Men don't have seeds.” (Stranger3:13 PM)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sperm You didn’t do your homework Stranger.

      Delete
    39. MalcolmS3:38 AM

      RalphH: "In the case of the incarnation, instead of the soul being implanted in a male seed it was implanted directly into the female egg"

      Aah, so are you claiming the ovum doesn't normally have a soul??

      Yet you have already claimed that even rocks have souls :)

      How come Ralph? Didn’t do your homework?

      Delete
    40. MalcolmS3:42 AM

      RalphH: "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sperm You didn’t do your homework Stranger"

      Interesting diagrams Ralph.

      Except they appear to have omitted the "soul."

      You didn't do your homework Ralph.

      Delete
    41. RalphH 8/127:07 AM

      “Aah, so are you claiming the ovum doesn't normally have a soul??

      Yet you have already claimed that even rocks have souls :)

      How come Ralph? Didn’t do your homework?” (MalcolmS3:38 AM)

      I was assuming Malcolm that the ovum is part of the mother. It doesn’t actually go walk-about alone does it. If it does have a soul it would only be a sufficient soul to make it what it is, not a new human soul in potential as is carried by the sperm.

      Delete
    42. RalphH 8/127:11 AM

      “Interesting diagrams Ralph.

      Except they appear to have omitted the "soul."

      You didn't do your homework Ralph.” (MalcolmS3:42 AM)

      Malcolm, the purpose of my link (in response to Stranger) was to show that the term male seed is used and valid. The soul is my idea and would not be shown anyway because a soul is not physical and does not have a physical location in space. It pervades the entire entity of which it is the soul.

      Delete
    43. "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sperm You didn’t do your homework Stranger."

      Sperm are not seeds

      Delete
    44. "I was assuming Malcolm that the ovum is part of the mother. It doesn’t actually go walk-about alone does it."

      Many animals lay eggs you know. Even human eggs can be fertilised outside of the human body, so they must have a soul of their own according to your single use definition of soul.

      " If it does have a soul it would only be a sufficient soul to make it what it is, not a new human soul in potential as is carried by the sperm."

      How is that only carried buy the sperm when the egg carries half the genetic information needed?

      "The soul is my idea"

      At least we know that you have no basis for your idea other than your own delusions.

      "because a soul is not physical and does not have a physical location in space. "

      So can't be carried by anything as that's a physical notion.

      "It pervades the entire entity of which it is the soul."

      How does one soul pervade the entity another soul is already pervading?

      Delete
    45. MalcolmS5:30 PM

      RalphH: "I was assuming Malcolm that the ovum is part of the mother. It doesn’t actually go walk-about alone does it. If it does have a soul it would only be a sufficient soul to make it what it is, not a new human soul in potential as is carried by the sperm"

      Then your "assumption" is rubbish.

      A sperm certainly doesn't "go walk-about alone" - it goes walk-about with over 15 million per milliliter ejaculated others! In other words your "assumption" is that God murders all those "human souls" with every ejaculation :)

      Strictly speaking the "ovum is part of the mother" assumption is also not correct - at the time of conception the ovum is on the move and just as detached from the woman as the sperm. Attachment is post-conception.

      Furthermore, consciousness[soul] is not possible in a sperm or ovum. "Life" is sufficient! The human body must develop to a certain stage before consciousness[soul] is possible. Human consciousness[soul] requires brain! Consciousness[soul] is thisworldly Ralph. Rocks and plants don't have, or require, consciousness[soul]. Stop making stuff up - in embryology and metaphysics. You simply ape the bog ignorant.

      Delete
    46. MalcolmS5:40 PM

      RalphH: "... a soul is not physical and does not have a physical location in space. It pervades the entire entity of which it is the soul"

      If it "pervades the entire entity of which it is the soul" it is most certainly spatial.

      See the sort of contradiction which results from making stuff up?

      Delete
    47. MalcolmS9:07 PM

      Stranger: "How does one soul pervade the entity another soul is already pervading?"

      LOL Good question!

      Ralph has discovered *polysoulism* :)

      I wonder if he has been reading up on the pagans and their polytheism?!

      Delete
    48. RalphH 9/125:41 AM

      “RalphH: *”I was assuming Malcolm that the ovum is part of the mother. It doesn’t actually go walk-about alone does it. If it does have a soul it would only be a sufficient soul to make it what it is, not a new human soul in potential as is carried by the sperm”*

      Then your "assumption" is rubbish.

      A sperm certainly doesn't "go walk-about alone" - it goes walk-about with over 15 million per milliliter ejaculated others! In other words your "assumption" is that God murders all those "human souls" with every ejaculation :)” (MalcolmS5:30 PM)

      I’m seeing a major inconsistency here Malcolm. In discussions on abortion you claim that the foetus is not yet human and therefore not subject to murder. And yet here we’re going a number of steps back from the foetus to a potential soul (with no physical body or spirit) and you accuse God (who provided that potential) of murdering these completely undeveloped entities.


      “Strictly speaking the "ovum is part of the mother" assumption is also not correct - at the time of conception the ovum is on the move and just as detached from the woman as the sperm. Attachment is post-conception.”

      I think it’s rather obvious that sperm and ovum have quite distinct functions, specifically designed for an inter-related purpose. I’ll concede that an ovum has a soul but it would be a soul that produces an ovum only. When ovum and sperm combine a new entity is formed under the auspices of the soul carried by the sperm

      “Furthermore, consciousness[soul] is not possible in a sperm or ovum. "Life" is sufficient. The human body must develop to a certain stage before consciousness[soul] is possible.”

      I disagree with your equating the soul with consciousness. There can be no life without a soul. If life could exist without a soul (which is the inmost core of being), what would be the point of adding one. Consciousness is solely the addition/development of awareness (of the external world and later of self).

      “Human consciousness[soul] requires brain!”

      The soul certainly does to operate in a physical environment. Consciousness does nothing other than be aware.

      “Consciousness[soul] is thisworldly Ralph.”

      Consciousness of this (physical) world is thisworldly but consciousness of the inner world of the inner mind is not. The soul being prior to and above consciousness is not thisworldly (as you like to call it).

      “Rocks and plants don't have, or require, consciousness[soul].”

      Everything requires a soul but it’s not a one size/type fits all. The soul is what determines that a thing is what it is. Only animal souls develop consciousness (of the natural world) and only human souls have the potential of further developing a consciousness of the inner spiritual world.

      “Stop making stuff up - in embryology and metaphysics. You simply ape the bog ignorant.”

      Although you don’t seem to be able to grasp it, the world (existence in it’s totality), is bigger than embryology (all the physical sciences) and metaphysics (which extends only to the lower, thisworldly centred mental planes.

      Delete
    49. RalphH 9/125:59 AM

      “RalphH: *”... a soul is not physical and does not have a physical location in space. It pervades the entire entity of which it is the soul”*

      “If it "pervades the entire entity of which it is the soul" it is most certainly spatial.

      See the sort of contradiction which results from making stuff up?” (MalcolmS5:40 PM)

      What’s the contradiction? The soul determines that an entity is what it is down to it’s minutest part. If it extended beyond the physical boundaries it would be impinging on something else. It is the nature of the soul that determines those physical boundaries and the locale and development of all it’s individual parts by determining that it is what it is.

      The soul would only be “spatial’ if it was located in a particular part of the body i.e. the brain - which is what you do when you confuse the soul with consciousness.

      Delete
    50. MalcolmS7:53 AM

      RalphH: "I’m seeing a major inconsistency here Malcolm. In discussions on abortion you claim that the foetus is not yet human and therefore not subject to murder"

      I have not claimed that the foetus is not yet human. It is most certainly human. My claim is that it's not a *human being.* As in your nose is human but is not a human being. There is a big difference!

      "And yet here we’re going a number of steps back from the foetus to a potential soul (with no physical body or spirit) and you accuse God (who provided that potential) of murdering these completely undeveloped entities"

      That's not my position Ralph! That follows from your position!

      " I’ll concede that an ovum has a soul but it would be a soul that produces an ovum only"

      So, if an ovum has a soul[whatever that means], then, every cell in the body has a soul. The human body is swarming with millions of souls?! Is that what you are saying? Which ones go to Heaven?

      "When ovum and sperm combine a new entity is formed under the auspices of the soul carried by the sperm"

      How do you know that? You simply made that up!

      "I disagree with your equating the soul with consciousness"

      So, if soul is not some form of consciousness, what is it? Physical matter? No, according to the myth, it's the soul that goes to Heaven! The soul allegedly transcends the "other dimension"? Are you claiming you are not conscious in Heaven? You are all over the place Ralph!

      "“Human consciousness[soul] requires brain!” The soul certainly does to operate in a physical environment. Consciousness does nothing other than be aware"

      So, the soul of a sperm is conscious? And requires a brain? But consciousness does not!? You are a raving loony!

      "Consciousness of this (physical) world is thisworldly but consciousness of the inner world of the inner mind is not. The soul being prior to and above consciousness is not thisworldly (as you like to call it)"

      That statement is incoherent!

      "The soul is what determines that a thing is what it is"

      False! What a thing is is its *identity.* The action of all entities is determined by the identity of the entity! Whether they have souls or not. Otherworldly souls do not exist!

      ".. the world (existence in it’s totality), is bigger than embryology (all the physical sciences) and metaphysics (which extends only to the lower, thisworldly centred mental planes"

      Existence is all there is. There is nothing else. The only thing not subsumed by existence is nonexistence! [Including your God]

      Delete
    51. MalcolmS7:56 AM

      RalphH: "The soul would only be “spatial’ if it was located in a particular part of the body i.e. the brain - which is what you do when you confuse the soul with consciousness"

      You have already delimited it to the body, viz, "it pervades the entire entity of which it is the soul.” That's spatial!

      Delete
    52. ". I’ll concede that an ovum has a soul but it would be a soul that produces an ovum only"

      Why? The egg carries half the DNA.

      " There can be no life without a soul."

      Stop making things up and pretending they are facts.

      Pervade: to become spread throughout all parts of:

      So the soul is spatial and you don't have a clue what you are talking about even when you make it up.

      Delete
    53. " My claim is that it's not a *human being.*"

      If I showed you the bodies of two babies, one of which was born, the other died just prior to being born. What feature does each have to show it is a human being or not?

      Delete
    54. RalphH 9/125:02 PM

      “I have not claimed that the foetus is not yet human. It is most certainly human. My claim is that it's not a *human being.* As in your nose is human but is not a human being. There is a big difference!” (MalcolmS7:53 AM)

      I accept your “is not (yet) a *human being*” correction Malcolm but it doesn’t change my point. You still don’t consider abortion ‘murder’ do you?

      “(God murdering) is not my position Ralph! That follows from your position!”

      I don’t believe it does. If you want to create something and have a multiplicity of ideas (potentially creative ideas that could possibly lead to that end) and select one to go ahead with and develop, you haven’t ‘murdered’ all those other ideas. Many may even be presented again at a future time or in a different context.


      “So, if an ovum has a soul[whatever that means], then, every cell in the body has a soul. The human body is swarming with millions of souls?! Is that what you are saying? Which ones go to Heaven?”

      In it’s broadest sense yes. Soul is a relative term for the innermost core of being (of every existent thing) - it exists from/because of it’s soul. A simple object/entity has a simple soul - a more complex one has a more complex soul. Only the most complex/the human soul is capable of “go(ing) to Heaven”. “Going” does not mean going physically or spatially but becoming aware of i.e. conscious on an inner level of being/existence.

      “How do you know that? You simply made that up!”

      Not really, because the two combine and form a new entity it has to be one or the other that continues. Since it is the male that determines the sex/gender of the offspring, it makes sense that it is the sperm soul that continues.

      “So, if soul is not some form of consciousness, what is it? Physical matter? No, according to the myth, it's the soul that goes to Heaven! The soul allegedly transcends the "other dimension"? Are you claiming you are not conscious in Heaven? You are all over the place Ralph!”

      Not at all Malcolm, the souls of all sentient creatures enable consciousness but the human soul (being more complex) further enables consciousness of Heaven (the inner world/the inner life). There can’t be full consciousness of both at the same time.

      “So, the soul of a sperm is conscious? And requires a brain? But consciousness does not!? You are a raving loony!”

      The soul is not conscious - the soul enables consciousness - physical consciousness by means of the brain and inner consciousness by means of the spiritually rational level of the mind.

      “*”Consciousness of this (physical) world is thisworldly but consciousness of the inner world of the inner mind is not. The soul being prior to and above consciousness is not thisworldly (as you like to call it)”* (RH)

      That statement is incoherent!”

      It’s incoherent to you because you have a thisworldly perspective only. It’s not incoherent from a perspective that includes an inner/other world.

      “False! What a thing is is its *identity.* The action of all entities is determined by the identity of the entity!”

      OK, that’s what it “is” but what I said is that it is the soul that determines that identity.

      “Whether they have souls or not. Otherworldly souls do not exist!”

      IMO, all things have souls but only the human soul can become conscious of the “other”/inner world.


      “Existence is all there is. There is nothing else. The only thing not subsumed by existence is nonexistence! [Including your God]”

      The only existence we are conscious of from a worldly perspective is the physical world. But from a higher perspective (provided by revelation) we can become aware of the inner/higher world and eventually after the limited/limiting physical body no longer impedes become fully conscious on that inner level. Or we can deny any higher level of existence. It’s a personal choice which becomes a belief.

      Delete
    55. RalphH 9/126:27 PM

      “*”. I’ll concede that an ovum has a soul but it would be a soul that produces an ovum only”* (RH)

      Why? The egg carries half the DNA.” (Stranger1:24 PM)

      So what Stranger? What does your statement have to do with mine? Once the combination has been made, the ovum becomes superfluous.

      “*” There can be no life without a soul.”* (RH)

      Stop making things up and pretending they are facts.”

      Given the definition I have given (the core of being) how could there be any other conclusion. If you want to define ‘soul’ differently, you can’t apply it to my statement.

      “Pervade: to become spread throughout all parts of:

      So the soul is spatial and you don't have a clue what you are talking about even when you make it up.”

      Something does not have to be spatial to ‘pervade’. It can mean universally present throughout the sample, as for example - a pervading idea. I’m afraid “you don’t have a clue what you are talking about’ when you accuse me of “making things up” without really thinking about the subject first.

      Delete
    56. "In it’s broadest sense yes. Soul is a relative term for the innermost core of being (of every existent thing) - it exists from/because of it’s soul"

      It's a metaphorical term Ralph, not a literal.

      "Not really, because the two combine and form a new entity it has to be one or the other that continues."

      Actually according to your use a new would would be created when the sperm and egg merge.

      "Since it is the male that determines the sex/gender of the offspring,"

      Not always. Females can reproduce by themselves, males can't. You are as ignorant as ever.

      "Not at all Malcolm, the souls of all sentient creatures enable consciousness but the human soul (being more complex) further enables consciousness of Heaven (the inner world/the inner life). "

      Stop making things up and presenting them as facts.

      "The soul is not conscious"

      "Only the most complex/the human soul is capable of “go(ing) to Heaven”. “Going” does not mean going physically or spatially but becoming aware of i.e. conscious on an inner level of being/existence."

      Make up your mind. You can't even get the shit you make up straight.

      "So what Stranger? What does your statement have to do with mine?"

      It was a question, try answering it.

      "Once the combination has been made, the ovum becomes superfluous."

      Except it's the bit that keeps growing, not the sperm. Gods you are ignorant.

      "Given the definition I have given (the core of being) how could there be any other conclusion."

      Because it doesn't define life, just characteristics.

      A pervading idea exists spatially within different people's brains.

      Delete
    57. MalcolmS9:44 PM

      RalphH: "Only the most complex/the human soul is capable of “go(ing) to Heaven”. “Going” does not mean going physically or spatially but becoming aware of i.e. conscious on an inner level of being/existence"

      Now you have tripped yourself up again! Once again you have claimed that souls ARE conscious. Make up your mind! I have no intention of continuing with this nonsense. You really couldn't lie straight in bed Ralph. Either you are a chronic liar or a lunatic. Either way I won't be wasting my time as I no longer consider you a worthwhile adversary!

      Delete
    58. MalcolmS9:49 PM

      Stranger: "If I showed you the bodies of two babies, one of which was born, the other died just prior to being born. What feature does each have to show it is a human being or not?"

      Is the one which has been born alive or not? If not the only difference is a few seconds and has no relevance to the abortion issue. If it was conscious prior to death, then, it was [briefly] a human being - unlikely if it died at birth.

      If the one which is born is alive, then, it would be conscious, breathing, suckling, crying, goo-gooing and [eventually] crapping in its rompers - none of which was possible prior to birth. It is an entity in its own right and not a part of a woman's body. It is an *actual* human being - as distinct from a *potential* human being prior to birth. That's what "birth" means Andrew.

      The one which died in utero was not conscious, had never been conscious and never will be conscious. It is not, had never been and never will be a human being.

      Delete
    59. rofl

      I challenge anyone who's following this thread to find one comment that isnt the idiotic blatherings of an utter nutjob.

      This bit excepted of course
      http://bitly.com/1bqgljz
      rofl

      Delete
    60. "Is the one which has been born alive or not? "

      Alive at birth but both dead now. Which one was, just to make sure you don't go all pedant on me, a human being. You have to point it out, not just say it was the one born alive.

      If a baby is born in a coma, is it a human being?

      "If not the only difference is a few seconds and has no relevance to the abortion issue."

      I didn't imply it did.

      Delete
    61. MalcolmS6:45 AM

      Stranger: "Alive at birth but both dead now. Which one was, just to make sure you don't go all pedant on me, a human being. You have to point it out, not just say it was the one born alive"

      I did point it out! Now that I've told you what a human being is you should be able to answer that question. Treat it as homework but I'm going to mark you very hard! You haven't been paying attention and have been a very naughty boy! :)

      "If a baby is born in a coma, is it a human being?"

      Same again! Please pay attention and try to think in principles! Hint: it is not a human being. Can you pick the missing ingredient? Materialists always struggle with this one :)

      Delete
    62. "I did point it out!"

      No, you just said it was the one born alive. I want you to be able to pick one when you don't know which was born alive and which wasn't.

      " Can you pick the missing ingredient?"

      There is no missing ingredient.

      Delete
    63. RalphH 10/125:07 PM

      “If the one which is born is alive, then, it would be conscious, breathing, suckling, crying, goo-gooing and [eventually] crapping in its rompers - none of which was possible prior to birth. It is an entity in its own right and not a part of a woman's body. It is an *actual* human being - as distinct from a *potential* human being prior to birth. That's what "birth" means Andrew. (MalcolmS9:49 PM)

      “*”If a baby is born in a coma, is it a human being?”* (Andrew/Stranger)

      Same again! Please pay attention and try to think in principles! Hint: it is not a human being. Can you pick the missing ingredient? Materialists always struggle with this one :)” (MalcolmS6:45 AM)

      Malcolm, my understanding is that the only criterion for being alive (in this case as a human being) is breathing. As soon as a baby takes it first breath it becomes an entity in it’s own right/it’s own person. So a baby born in a coma (even if it subsequently died without ever attaining consciousness) would definitely be a human being.

      Delete
    64. RalphH 10/125:14 PM

      “I challenge anyone who's following this thread to find one comment that isnt the idiotic blatherings of an utter nutjob.” (The Disembodied Soul of Billy the Magic Cat11:27 PM)

      “Idiotic blatherings” heh DSoBtMC, now I wonder where the 'best' place to look for something like that might be!

      Delete
    65. MalcolmS10:30 PM

      Stranger: "I want you to be able to pick one when you don't know which was born alive and which wasn't"

      So, you want me to distinguish between two corpses!

      You want me to distinguish between the corpse of a foetus which died 5 minutes before birth and a baby which died 5 minutes after birth?

      For a layman that would be impossible.

      I suggest you find yourself a forensic pathologist who does it as a matter of everyday routine.

      Are you sure you're not angling towards the abortion issue? :)

      Delete
    66. “Idiotic blatherings” heh DSoBtMC, now I wonder where the 'best' place to look for something like that might be!

      !!kazinga!!
      lol

      Delete
    67. MalcolmS11:12 PM

      RalphH: "Malcolm, my understanding is that the only criterion for being alive (in this case as a human being) is breathing. As soon as a baby takes it first breath it becomes an entity in it’s own right/it’s own person"

      Understanding? Or belief? :)

      Actually it becomes an "entity in it’s own right" when the umbilical cord is severed. Breathing is only one of many physical events which occur after birth and not before. Crying and arm waving are others which immediately come to mind.

      Consciousness[ensoulment] and individuation are far more *fundamental.*

      Delete
    68. MalcolmS11:25 PM

      magicsausagetosser: "I challenge anyone who's[g-o-o-o-d] following this thread to find one comment that isnt[sic] the idiotic blatherings of an utter nutjob"

      Including the one at 11:27 PM :}

      Delete
    69. "For a layman that would be impossible.'

      So you can't point to anything that shows one to be a human being and the other not to be. What can the pathologist point to?

      Delete
    70. MalcolmS11:41 PM

      magicsausagetosser: "!!kazinga!!"

      Er... and the one at 10:43 PM

      Delete
    71. MalcolmS11:49 PM

      Stranger: "What can the pathologist point to?"

      Ask the forensic pathologist! That's his specialty. He is called on to make precisely that distinction regularly.

      The philosophic difference between a human being and a foetus I have already given you.

      Delete
    72. "He is called on to make precisely that distinction regularly."

      Cite a pathologist who has the same idea as you do about what constitutes a human being.

      "The philosophic difference between a human being and a foetus I have already given you."

      I don't want bullshit philosophy, I want facts and proper theory.

      Delete
    73. MalcolmS1:55 AM

      Stranger: "Cite a pathologist who has the same idea as you do about what constitutes a human being"

      What's that to do with anything? Are you claiming that a forensic pathologist doesn't know the difference between a dead foetus and a dead baby? If so you are as stupid as you usually seem.

      "I don't want bullshit philosophy, I want facts and proper theory"

      Then go and get them like anyone else!

      The world doesn't owe you a living dopey.

      Delete
    74. "What's that to do with anything? "

      Everything. Pathologists are not called on to distinguish if one of the two is a human being or not, only to determine circumstances of death.

      "Then go and get them like anyone else!"

      So you don;t have facts to support you bullshit philosophy. Why am I not surprised?

      Delete
    75. MalcolmS5:43 AM

      Stranger: "Pathologists are not called on to distinguish if one of the two is a human being or not, only to determine circumstances of death"

      They are regularly required to determine whether a corpse is a human being or a foetus since in one case a murder may have been committed. Zeus you're a moron. No wonder your lover aborted your sprog.

      Delete
    76. RalphH 11/126:44 AM

      “Understanding? Or belief? :)” (MalcolmS11:12 PM)

      Why both of course Malcolm. Why would (or could) I believe anything unless I understood it to some degree? The more one understands, the more one is able to judge the rightness of a proposition and believe it to be true or false.

      “Actually it becomes an "entity in it’s own right" when the umbilical cord is severed. Breathing is only one of many physical events which occur after birth and not before. Crying and arm waving are others which immediately come to mind.”

      I think it’d be rather difficult to cry if one were not first breathing. As soon as a child breathes they receive something directly from the external world that does not come through the agency of the mother. Also it might be a bit premature to cut the umbilical cord before the baby breathes - ntil then, the mother's blood is the only source of oxygen for the child.

      If you go to the other end of the scale, I think you'll find that the test for ‘death’ is a cessation of breathing. Further, the Biblical account of the creation of mankind is when God breathes the breath of life into the nostrils. (see Genesis 2:7)

      “Consciousness[ensoulment] and individuation are far more *fundamental.*”

      What could be more “fundamental” than breathing? Without that there would be no consciousness just a blueness of the face. BTW, do you have any backing for your idea about consciousness being "the soul". It makes no sense to me and I haven't seen anyone else on the blog agree with you.

      Also what is your point about "individuation". The foetus is an individual in the womb. All birth/the switch to breathing does is change it from an individual foetus to an individual human being.

      Just to advance the question you have posed Stranger http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foramen_ovale_(heart)

      Delete
    77. MalcolmS1:06 PM

      RalphH: "I think it’d be rather difficult to cry if one were not first breathing"

      I agree. Crying and breathing is often synonymous.

      "..it might be a bit premature to cut the umbilical cord before the baby breathes"

      I agree. "Birth" is a *process* - sometimes a long one. It does not occur as an instant in time.

      "If you go to the other end of the scale, I think you'll find that the test for ‘death’ is a cessation of breathing"

      Medical test maybe. I prefer a permanent loss of consciousness as the *fundamental* but that doesn't work if you're religious. But, then, nor does death :)

      "Further, the Biblical account of the creation of mankind is when God breathes the breath of life into the nostrils"

      That's a good reason for ignoring it.

      “.. do you have any backing for your idea about consciousness being "the soul""

      Consciousness, soul and mind I use as synonyms and that's common in secular philosophy. Although all words can have multiple senses.

      "It makes no sense to me and I haven't seen anyone else on the blog agree with you"

      You should know by now that I don't crave agreement. Truth is far more important.

      ".. what is your point about "individuation" The foetus is an individual in the womb. All birth/the switch to breathing does is change it from an individual foetus to an individual human being"

      The foetus is not an individual in utero. The only *individual* at that stage is the pregnant woman - an important point in the abortion issue.

      "Just to advance the question you have posed Stranger http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foramen_ovale_(heart)"

      An example of what I had in mind. There are many.

      Delete
    78. "They are regularly required to determine whether a corpse is a human being or a foetus"

      No, they determine whether a body was born or not. Not whether it conforms to your bullshit philosophy of what constitutes a human being.

      "Zeus you're a moron."

      Why are you calling Zeus a moron?

      Delete
    79. " I think you'll find that the test for ‘death’ is a cessation of breathing. "

      Wrong as usual Ralph.

      "Further, the Biblical account of the creation of mankind is when God breathes the breath of life into the nostrils."

      "What could be more “fundamental” than breathing?"

      Blood circulation.

      "BTW, do you have any backing for your idea about consciousness being "the soul"."

      You can't ask that until you provide backing for your ideas.

      Delete
    80. " Truth is far more important."

      No Mal, it's truth as you see it, not actual truth that you think is important.

      Delete
    81. MalcolmS11:39 PM

      Stranger: "No, they[forensic pathologists] determine whether a body was born or not"

      A "body"?? A body of what?

      You are the idiot who called a foetus a "baby." Remember?

      When does the body of a foetus become the body of a baby?

      Delete
    82. MalcolmS11:46 PM

      BTW Ralph

      There is heaps of evidence for the use of consciousness/soul/etc as synonyms.

      If in doubt I suggest you read Aristotle's discussion of the "great souled man" which predates Christianity. There was also much reference to the "spirit of man" during the Enlightenment. It was a synonym for 'reason.' Also, in modern times, Rand used 'soul' as a synonym for a person's *values* in some of her writing[novels].

      In no case was consciousness/soul otherworldly in the West other than in Christianity. Nor was consciousness/soul ever "physical."

      Delete
    83. "A "body"?? A body of what?"

      A body of a human being, you imbecile.

      Delete
    84. MalcolmS12:18 AM

      Andrew, answer the question dopey! When does the body of a foetus become the body of a baby?

      Delete
  5. MalcolmS7:30 PM

    Stranger: ""Sense perception is a natural process, infallible and not assumption" Try asking someone who is partially deaf, blind, insensitive to touch, has no sense of smell if their senses are infallible"

    All of those examples have no choice in the nature of their respective 'sense perception.' Nor do those with healthy sense organs. What all sensate beings perceive, given the context, cannot be otherwise. All are a natural process, infallible and not assumption. Bats do not perceive insects in the same way that you do. However, their sense perception is a natural process, infallible and not assumption. When you perceive a train speed past, does what you 'see' contradict what you 'hear'? Of course not!

    Does a physicist with poor hearing come up with a different physics than a physicist with normal hearing? Or a physicist with tinnitus? No. They all ultimately come up with the same physics.

    "Then we have hallucinations, optical illusions, stage magic and inebriation"

    Hallucinations and inebriation are not examples of sense perception. They are examples of a brain in an altered, abnormal state. What you perceive with optical illusions and stage magic are not examples of errant perception which cannot be other than what it is. Your knowledge that they are 'illusions' and 'magic' follows from your *thinking* about the perceptions and not the perception per se which cannot be otherwise.

    ""Perception *results* from a physical process between reality and sense organ and brain and cannot be otherwise" Actually it results from signal processing in the brain, which first needs a working sense organ and then a properly functioning brain. Even then our brains can process the signals in such a way that what we **THINK** we are seeing is not the reality" [my emphasis]

    Thinking is not sense perception. Sense perception is inerrant[infallible]. Thinking can err.

    When you perceive that a straight pencil appears bent when half immersed in a beaker of water that is *not* an example of an error in sense perception. Sense perception cannot be otherwise. Any error arises in your *thinking* about the perception.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RalphH 1/128:31 PM

      “*”When God is defined sensibly (as an entity/a being capable of creating and sustaining the cosmos)”* (RalphH)

      That's not a sensible definition.” (Stranger3:07 PM)

      So Stranger, do you believe as Malcolm does that the cosmos is uncreate and self-sustaining? If not then my suggestion above is a very sensible definition. If you do agree with him maybe you could explain how something that itself needs sustaining can sustain itself.

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS10:59 PM

      RalphH: "So Stranger, do you believe as Malcolm does that the cosmos is uncreate and self-sustaining? If not then my suggestion above is a very sensible definition. If you do agree with him maybe you could explain how something that itself needs sustaining can sustain itself"

      What would be far more informative, Ralph, would be your explanation of why your God "sustained" entities such as Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot for as long as he did. Or why entities "sustained" by God pour molten lava on innocent Italian villagers with monotonous regularity. Or why his "sustenance" of faithful followers causes them to fly planes into buildings. Or place his "sustained" followers on the torture racks of the Inquisition.

      All events which any self-sustaining, omniscient, omnipotent, omniperfect Holy Great Sustainer would not tolerate.. er.. let alone "sustain."

      When you have accounted for the way all those "sustained" entities in the cosmos turned out you may even concede that Stranger's approach is far more "sensible" than those of yours and the "sustainer."

      But I'm not holding my breath.

      Delete
    3. "All of those examples have no choice in the nature of their respective 'sense perception.'"

      Senses do not have choice in anything. You just don't understand.

      "All are a natural process, infallible and not assumption."

      All are subject to failure, ie fallible, and we do make assumptions about what we perceive.

      " No. They all ultimately come up with the same physics."

      But they perceive the world differently, tinnitus is not the norm and the physicist with it would know that, they would not expect everyone to hear what they do.

      "Hallucinations and inebriation are not examples of sense perception."

      They are example of how our sense organs aren't the end of the story, our brains process the signal data and that processing can be faulty.

      " What you perceive with optical illusions and stage magic are not examples of errant perception which cannot be other than what it is."

      Yes they are, what they are and what they appear to be are different things.

      "Thinking is not sense perception."

      I didn't say it was, you knowledge of how the brain works is pathetic.

      "Sense perception is inerrant[infallible]."

      Blind people have a faulty[failed] sense of vision.

      Delete
    4. "So Stranger, do you believe as Malcolm does that the cosmos is uncreate and self-sustaining?"

      Define uncreated and self-sustaining in this context.

      " If not then my suggestion above is a very sensible definition. "

      Whether I agree with Malcolm or not it doesn't change the silliness of your definition of God.

      Delete
    5. RalphH 2/1212:45 PM

      “Define uncreated and self-sustaining in this context.” (Stranger2:07 AM)

      Both terms are self explanatory Stranger. If you want to avoid answering the question, just say so or don’t bother responding.


      “Whether I agree with Malcolm or not it doesn't change the silliness of your definition of God.”

      It’s an either/or situation so yes, it does make every difference. It’s still your choice, if you’re up to making one.

      Delete
    6. "Both terms are self explanatory Stranger."

      You use different definitions of words to the rest of us so we need to know what you mean. If you want to avoid answering the question, just say so or don’t bother responding.

      "It’s an either/or situation so yes, it does make every difference."

      No it doesn't make any difference, the silliness of your definition doesn't need any input from other people

      Delete
    7. Stranger & Malcolm

      It sounds to me like Malcolm is saying sense perception is infallible because what hits our eyes is always going to be the light that is reflected form that particular object.

      This is relying on various natural laws that I have little knowledge of that tells us light will always show us an object as it is (or something)?

      The problem THEN arises between our perception and out interpretation of that perception. Perception is infallible, but our interpretation of our perception isn't.

      Thus, while we may see what looks to us like an oasis in a desert, we are just seeing light reflected infallibly in a certain way. What we SEE is what is actually happening. What we THINK we see is something else entirely.

      Am I getting close?

      Delete
    8. MalcolmS7:25 PM

      Mark: "Perception is infallible, but our interpretation of our perception isn't"

      Spot on! That much is correct even though some of your other formulations are not exact.

      An important point is that all events *prior* to perception are *physical* and occur in accordance with the laws of physics/chemistry/mechanics. There is the light reflecting from the object, picked up by photosensive cells in the retina, relayed through electrical impulses in nerve cells and chemical reactions at neuronal synapses and on to the brain[also physical]. Those events are completely *determined,* nonvolitional, cannot be otherwise and, in that sense, infallible. *Then* perception results - the first stage of consciousness - the subject is conscious of the object.

      Perception is the *product* of an interaction between the object in reality and the subject's physical reaction to it. Perception is the primary stage, the *given,* of consciousness.

      Fallibility and error can only occur in later *volitional,* conceptual, abstract stages of consciousness.

      Re your 'oasis' example. The mirage of an oasis is as real as the reflected object. You cannot perceive otherwise. As is a rainbow [Er.. without the serpent :)] as real as the light and rain droplets that cause it. As is my "straight pencil appears bent when half immersed in a beaker of water" example which started this thread [MalcolmS 7:30 PM].

      Delete
    9. Malcolm

      Yeah, I'm slowly getting it - I've never given this particular topic much thought before.

      This seems to be relying on the fact that the laws of physics/chemistry/mechanic are in fact fixed and known, right? I'm not denying they are, I'm just clarifying.

      The pencil in your example appears bent because the light is bent, right? The pencil is obviously unbroken. We know it's not bent, because we've SEEN the unbroken pencil being submerged in water (or, perhaps, have seen the illusion before, etc.).

      I guess the problem arrises when we're unaware we're experiencing an illusion. Could you say, then, that sensory perception is a sound basis for reasoning only when we are aware we are not experiencing an illusion? Theoretically, it seems to me to remain a sound basis.

      Delete
    10. "The problem THEN arises between our perception and out interpretation of that perception. "

      No, our perception is based on the interpretation our brain makes of the signals our senses send it.

      Delete
    11. "Those events are completely *determined,* nonvolitional, cannot be otherwise and, in that sense, infallible. "

      Actually the light from the object can be blocked by something else and there can be failures in the retina, optic nerve and brain.

      "Yeah, I'm slowly getting it - I've never given this particular topic much thought before."

      Don't ask Malcolm for an explanation on how anything works.

      Delete
    12. MalcolmS10:49 PM

      Mark: "Malcolm... This seems to be relying on the fact that the laws of physics/chemistry/mechanic are in fact fixed and known, right?"

      No, the laws of science are a *discovery* of the intellect/reason. They are post-perception and depend upon perception being an inerrant grasp of reality[infallible]. Perception is our only direct contact with reality. Dogs and cats perceive but cannot do science.

      "The pencil in your example appears bent because the light is bent, right? The pencil is obviously unbroken. We know it's not bent, because we've SEEN the unbroken pencil being submerged in water"

      No, you are *interpreting* and that is post-perception and a product of intellect/reason. There is no *because* in perception - that's your intellect speaking! Perception simply *is* - the starting point of consciousness.

      "I guess the problem arrises when we're unaware we're experiencing an illusion"

      You will solve the "problem" when you grasp that there is no "illusion."

      "Could you say, then, that sensory perception is a sound basis for reasoning only when we are aware we are not experiencing an illusion?"

      That's better! Neither the stick in water appearing bent nor the stick out of water appearing straight are illusions. Both are as *real* as each other. They are as they must be[infallible].

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC0D0wHDwAc

      Delete
    13. MalcolmS11:00 PM

      Stranger: ".. our perception is based on the interpretation our brain makes of the signals our senses send it"

      "Brain" is a *physical* organ. Brain does not "interpret." Consciousness/mind/intellect interprets.

      Delete
    14. ""Brain" is a *physical* organ. Brain does not "interpret.""

      Process the signal then.

      Delete
    15. "There is no *because* in perception "

      Yes there is. We perceive things because we have senses; we perceive light because that's the part of the EM spectrum our eyes detect.

      "You will solve the "problem" when you grasp that there is no "illusion.""

      So a pencil in water really is bent?

      "Neither the stick in water appearing bent nor the stick out of water appearing straight are illusions."

      You don't know what illusion means.

      Delete
    16. MalcolmS12:34 AM

      Stranger: """Brain" is a *physical* organ. Brain does not "interpret."" Process the signal then"

      The brain processes the *physical* signal and this produces perception. The consciousness/mind/intellect interprets the perception/s.

      Delete
    17. "The brain processes the *physical* signal and this produces perception."

      That's what I said, but not what you said earlier; "Perception is the *product* of an interaction between the object in reality and the subject's physical reaction to it."

      Delete
    18. MalcolmS6:32 AM

      Stranger: ""There is no *because* in perception" Yes there is. We perceive things because we have senses; we perceive light because that's the part of the EM spectrum our eyes detect"

      No, there is not! You are *evaluating* again. That is not perception.

      "So a pencil in water really is bent?"

      You are very confused Andrew! "Bent" is how a straight pencil is *perceived* when half immersed in water. It cannot be perceived otherwise.

      "You don't know what illusion means"

      Illusion is what magicians do. Nature does no illusions. It is just an inexorable fact that a straight pencil, half immersed in water, appears bent. It would be an illusion [or a miracle :)] if it appeared straight.

      Delete
    19. MalcolmS6:35 AM

      MS: "The brain processes the *physical* signal and this produces perception."

      Stranger: "That's what I said, but not what you said earlier; "Perception is the *product* of an interaction between the object in reality and the subject's physical reaction to it."

      That's correct. What you have talked about is the physical stuff the brain does.

      That is *not* perception but only what *produces* perception.

      Perception is the first stage of consciousness, i.e., is *not* physical[unlike brain].

      You then go on to *evaluate* perception - that also is not perception but, rather, conception/abstraction/reasoning.

      Perception is determined, automatic and infallible.

      Evaluation/reasoning is volitional and fallible.

      Delete
    20. "No, there is not! You are *evaluating* again"

      No I'm not, I'm trying to educate you on the use of the word because but you seem to stupid to be able to understand.

      "You are very confused Andrew!"

      No you are, you said ".. there is no "illusion", so according to you the pencil bends when it enters the water.

      "Illusion is what magicians do."

      So you don't know what illusion means.

      Delete
    21. "That's correct. What you have talked about is the physical stuff the brain does."

      Processing is not a reaction between the object and the eyes.

      "Perception is the first stage of consciousness"

      Make up your mind: "The consciousness/mind/intellect interprets the perception/s. " Consciousness can't interpret the perceptions if perception is the first stage of consciousness.

      "Perception is determined, automatic and infallible."

      No, it is entirely fallible.

      Delete
    22. RalphH 3/113:03 PM

      “What would be far more informative, Ralph, would be your explanation of why your God "sustained" entities such as Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot for as long as he did. Or why entities "sustained" by God pour molten lava on innocent Italian villagers with monotonous regularity. Or why his "sustenance" of faithful followers causes them to fly planes into buildings. Or place his "sustained" followers on the torture racks of the Inquisition.” (MalcolmS10:59 PM)

      Malcolm, I have quite a different perspective. I’m glad you weren’t holding your breath because it’s taken me awhile to get back to you.

      Firstly, it’s not ‘my’ God, it’s quite simply God - the source of the existence we all experience. I just happen to know a bit more about God than you do. If I knew more about the sun - the source of all natural heat and light (for our immediate solar system), it wouldn’t be ‘my’ sun - I may just have been lucky enough to have had a better education.

      Secondly, if God revealed (Himself) in such an open way as to destroy evil as soon as it became evident (He) would also destroy the element of free-will which is absolutely essential to choosing good and making it the essential principle of one’s life i.e. essential to being human/having the capacity (rationality and free-will) of choosing God/ultimate goodness or eternal life. (Same goes for ‘natural disasters’ by the way.)

      God deals with the Stalins, Hitlers and Pol Pots of the world and the suicide bombers and inquisitors by inspiring people striving for goodness to act for (Him).

      For those who do not believe in eternal life (the choice of which is the whole purpose of this life) it becomes a major problem if they don’t get what they want when the want it (because heck! you only get one short life). They either moan or inwardly complain about God (even though they don’t believe in (Him)) or go the path of the Stalins/Hitlers etc, grasping (in lesser or greater ways) for whatever they can before it’s too late and destroying their soul in the process.

      “When you have accounted for the way all those "sustained" entities in the cosmos turned out you may even concede that Stranger's approach is far more "sensible" than those of yours and the “sustainer.” “

      Stranger sensible!!! Don’t make me laugh Malcolm. I have seen faint glimmerings at times but that’s not really going to happen until he at least starts thinking and formulating a response instead of robotically reacting.

      I'm not holding my breath.

      Delete
    23. "Firstly, it’s not ‘my’ God, it’s quite simply God - the source of the existence we all experience."

      Unless you can show that to be the case he is your god.

      " I just happen to know a bit more about God than you do"

      No you just happen to believe, knowledge requires facts.

      "Secondly, if God revealed (Himself) in such an open way as to destroy evil as soon as it became evident (He) would also destroy the element of free-will which is absolutely essential to choosing good and making it the essential principle of one’s life i.e. essential to being human/having the capacity (rationality and free-will) of choosing God/ultimate goodness or eternal life. (Same goes for ‘natural disasters’ by the way.)"

      Stop making shit up and pretending it's real. Free will is not dependent on evil existing. You can choose do all sorts of things if you can't do evil things.

      "God deals with the Stalins, Hitlers and Pol Pots of the world and the suicide bombers and inquisitors by inspiring people striving for goodness to act for (Him)."

      That is n not dealing with evil, it's letting it happen in the hope we do something about it.

      "For those who do not believe in eternal life (the choice of which is the whole purpose of this life) it becomes a major problem if they don’t get what they want when the want it (because heck! you only get one short life). "

      Stop lying.

      "Stranger sensible!!!"

      Yep, you aren't.

      Delete
    24. MalcolmS4:44 PM

      "Stranger sensible!!! Don’t make me laugh Malcolm. I have seen faint glimmerings at times but that’s not really going to happen until he at least starts thinking and formulating a response instead of robotically reacting"

      Ralph, I graciously accept that you are right and I was wrong!

      In fact I thing you and Mark should get together and riddle how many *Andrew brains* would fit on the head of a pin!

      I'm guessing it would be lots :)

      Delete
  6. Hi, just a note to say - nice article Dick. Although I would suggest that myths, like fairytales, have a deeper psychological import than you (or Campbell or Levi Strauss) give them credit for. Ursula K LeGuin has some great writing on this, for example "Why are Americans afraid of Dragons?".

    By the way, have you seen Fritz Lang's films on this myth? As I recall they are called "Seigfried" and "Krimhild's Revenge".

    To Lang's horror they were praised highly by HItler, which I guess shows that you get out of myth what want to get out of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good points Robin. I suppose you are sick of being reminded that you are indeed named after a real person whose story has grown to mythic proportions. D

      Delete
  7. Hi Mark.

    Just on the argument you are making that we should apply the same level of skepticism to Tacitus’ writings that we do to the gospels, you have to keep in mind that the main thrust of Tacitus’ writings are not that a person in his writings (contrary to all physics, chemistry and biology) came back to life after being dead for a few days to save the world from sin.

    For such an extraordinary claim we require quite a bit more evidence. Where Tacitus does claim supernatural events, we don’t tend to believe them.

    For more on why the gospels should not be treated as historical writings see here: http://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/ancient-historical-writing-compared-to-the-gospels-of-the-new-testament/

    And the level of evidence that should be required before you accept the miracle claims in the bible (specifically the resurrection) see here: http://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/griffin-beak-mermaid-fin-and-dragon-blood-soup/

    ReplyDelete
  8. “Next time - what does one do if a great artist like Wagner is a racist, sexist swine whose music was appropriated by the Nazis???”

    Hi Dick,

    Don’t know if you have seen it (and maybe that will be revealed next time) but Stephen Fry made a documentary covering similar ground. Namely, how should he (as a descendent of holocaust victims) feel, given that he is greatly moved by Wagner’s music?

    The documentary can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_idNBdrM9k

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Boof. I have seen it and I feel that SF comes across on the lame side. In essence he seems to be saying, "Look I will make a documentary about the issue and it will all go away". I am sort of doing the same. "Look, I will write a blog on the issue and is will all go away". We are both pretty lame.

      Delete

Followers