Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Moving from Negative to Positive


By its very definition, atheism is a negative force.  It is about rebuttal of an idea, not an idea in itself.  The very word even has its sworn enemy, godliness, taking up most the letters.  The prefix “a” in atheism is derived from the Ancient Greek prefix meaning without – atheos – without gods.
For much of its early life, atheism had a big enough agenda poking out the eyes of theistic belief.  Faith was, and still is, so ingrained in humanity that we have been busy enough.  But in the end, it is all very well being correct in our criticisms.  Eventually we have to face the big dilemma.  Faiths arose for a reason.  We poor, vulnerable humans crave them to help with our need for solace for suffering, consolation in the face of death, moral guidance, powerful ritual and a sense of community.  This is the challenge.  We have won the intellectual war on God/s.  We have diminished the power of the sacred, particularly in the West.  What can we throw up as alternatives?
The Melbourne Sunday Assembly - a godless congregation in full flight
Sometimes alternatives are not needed.  The moral guidance from the bible is both uncertain and archaic and has easily been replaced by secular state based laws.  There are some uncertainties about these secular answers which are thrashed out not in church but on talk back radio and QandA.  We have Utilitarian alternatives but they are not needed for most people.  The secular state now is the cauldron in which moral issues such as gay and lesbian marriage are cooked and discussed. 
But there is a need for secular and civil ceremony.  We have replaced the religions in the rites of passage industry by mimicking the religious versions.  Civil weddings are chosen by the overwhelming majority of Aussies.  And secular funerals are common. There is a discussion to be had one day about whether these secular ceremonies are as successful as the sacred.  One could debate that the absence of community singing and the sense that an awe inspiring God is involved diminishes their power.  Maybe that is the case but I will leave that debate for another time. 
My point is that what I wrote at the start about atheism being only about negative repudiation is not an entirely correct picture.  The civil ceremonies show that we atheists sometimes fail to recognise that we have already dramatically changed the moral, ceremonial and cognitive world in the West.  So it is just not true to say that atheists are only negative even though our name implies otherwise. 
What about community ceremonies other than rites of passage?  A rite of passage is a ceremony of change.  Birth, adulthood, graduation, marriage, school reunions, retirement and death are the rites of change.  But what of the weekly communal gathering that, although losing steam in the West, still offers a basis for a community to gather and re emphasise common bonds and perform non verbal rituals together?  This we have lost with the loss of faith. 
But no longer.  A movement has arisen in Britain that is creeping around the globe.  The Sunday Assembly, a group for unbelievers to connect with like-minded individuals, is expanding from the UK to the USA and Oz.  The Sunday Assembly is a godless congregation that celebrates life. Their motto has three pillars live better, help often, wonder more. They are a place where unbelievers can gather, sing and commune with like or indeed, different minds.
The Sunday Assembly started when two comedians, Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, realised that they wanted to do something that had all the best bits of church, but without the religion, and with awesome pop songs added.
The first version of this was in January 6th 2013, and though they weren’t expecting many people, the entire place was full. At the next Assembly there were 300. Then they had to go to two services a day.  And now it is going global.  Now there are 28 Assemblies across the world. http://sundayassembly.com/
It is almost every Australian capital city and is growing.  Sydney is really humming (see http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/12/my-local-atheist-church-is-part-of-the-long-inglorious-march-of-gentrification) and like Melbourne has its assembly on the last Sunday of the month. 
This isn’t the first attempt at such a project.  Humanism is a movement which embraces human logic and consciously rejects god and faith.  The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world union of 117 Humanist, rationalist, organisations in 38 countries.  Humanism has foundations in Ancient Greek philosophy and the Enlightenment.  As a movement, it has not really grabbed humans by the ontological short and curlies but is battling on.
In the USA, Unitarianism started in the liberal protestant churches in the 19th century and now has godless and creedless aspects to its faith.  It might have a few hundred thousand adherents worldwide.   
Apart from that, we godless write boring books and tedious blogs.  Our community is virtual and celebrated in the comments that follow blogs like this one.  We need something more human.
The Sunday Assemblies are new but cool.  Community singing is encouraged.  This interests me as singing is a polarizing issue.  Some love it and others wince.  The British are much better at it than Aussies, probably from the football culture that bought us “Ooh ah, Cantona” and hooliganism.  I saw a final of the women’s hockey when the British girls sang God Save our Gracious Queen beautifully whereas our girls sang an inhibited, tuneless version of AAF.  The two cultures, though similar are starkly different on this issue.  I sing in gospel choir in a Baptist Church with a bunch of secular people so this issue of song and faith entrances me.  
Kate Murray - the current Grand Poo Bah of the Melbourne Sunday Assembly
 Kate Murray the current Organiser of Sunday Assembly Melbourne has a very sophisticated vision of the issues of ritual.  “The singing is the best part of our Assemblies.  We have a rock back and sing the best songs that everyone knows.”  They use the best of the rock genre.  Kate is pregnant and her child will be welcomed with a naming ceremony at the Assembly.  There is clear evidence of the rise of godless community where ages and stages are lived out and celebrated.
What is your view?
Do we need communities for the godless?
Will the competition from the net, the media and sport crowd out these new Sunday Assemblies?
Can we survive and thrive without direct human contact and ritual?

Over to you….

100 comments:

  1. Very thoughtful. The gist of many religious rituals is indeed about community. Being an agnostic doesn't mean I don't like singing, learning, and being part of a community with some distinctive rituals.I think it's more about personality than belief or lack thereof. I say go for it SA.

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  2. MalcolmS8:05 PM

    Yet atheism was not really about "community." Initially it was more about individuality, Enlightenment thought and the position that reason was superior to faith, revelation, dogma and "official" religion. First there was Protestantism in its many forms and the belief that the individual could relate to God unaided by church. Then came the position that perhaps all theistic belief was arbitrary and could not be substantiated.

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    Replies
    1. RalphH 05/042:54 PM

      “A movement has arisen in Britain that is creeping around the globe. The Sunday Assembly, a group for unbelievers to connect with like-minded individuals, is expanding from the UK to the USA and Oz. The Sunday Assembly is a godless congregation that celebrates life. Their motto has three pillars live better, help often, wonder more. They are a place where unbelievers can gather, sing and commune with like or indeed, different minds.” (WEDNESDAY, APRIL 02, 2014 - Moving from Negative to Positive)

      Interesting topic Dick. The following quote is a comment on your linked Guardian article:-

      “My problem with atheism (no, I'm not an Abrahamist) is that the sort of people it acquiesces into it's "fold" (for lack of a better word), are usually the type of people who seem to just really badly want to believe in something, even if that belief is non-belief.
      Otherwise, why would they be so keen on telling me about their atheism? I could care less, just like I could care less about someone knocking on my door to share the good word. It's all cussing to me.” (The_Wangchuck - 12 March 2014 4:59am)

      As a theist, I do (of course) believe in ‘sharing the good word’/ the Gospel. I find it hard to believe that anyone could not ‘believe in something’ as this writer claims. The real question is ,”What do we believe in, and what is the quality/value of our belief on the scale of reality.”

      The writer of the Guardian article was very sceptical of the Sunday Assembly idea. Here’s a quote:-

      “This is what struck me about the Sunday Assembly, and why I can’t see it as any more than a new trendy outpost: it can’t perform any of the functions of religion – including the maintenance of an organic community – but will end up displacing those groups that do.”

      The problem is that one can’t replace God with anything other than an idol. It doesn’t have to be a big stone one. It can be something like an idea e.g. humanism. Without an objective yardstick (i.e. God), how does one define the “better” of “living better” or how does one know who and how to help; and who gets the credit for the wonder, the desire for self-improvement and the sense of community that inspires us to help others. Where do those desires and inspiration come from?

      If credit (worship) is not given to the true source of these things it can only be given to oneself (for discovering and using this knowledge), the human race as a whole (for collectively doing so) or some animate or inanimate thing (i.e. an idol of some sort).

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    2. RalphH 06/043:53 PM

      “Yet atheism was not really about "community." Initially it was more about individuality,” (MalcolmS8:05 PM)

      I suggest Malcolm, that theism is just as much about “individuality” - an individual choice to act in community in response to religious teaching.

      “Enlightenment thought and the position that reason was superior to faith, revelation, dogma and "official" religion.”

      You already know my position about the chimera of a contest between reason and faith. Individual beliefs/statements based on ‘faith, revelation and religious dogma’ need to be evaluated rationally. The prejudice/prejudgement that they have no real value has no basis. Individual reason is also subject to evaluation as is evident from some of the foolish ‘reasoning’ that goes on.

      “First there was Protestantism in its many forms and the belief that the individual could relate to God unaided by church. Then came the position that perhaps all theistic belief was arbitrary and could not be substantiated.”

      I would also like to suggest that although specific details with regard to God (i.e. ideas about the nature of God) may be said to be arbitrary, the generalised belief (or non-belief) in God, is not. It’s an either/or situation.

      Either we believe that the existence we are conscious of comes from and is sustained by something or it comes from nothing. (Note that ‘coming from nothing’ is such an illogical concept that “nothing" needs to be redefined in terms of something a la Lawrence Krauss.)

      That ‘something’ could be/needs to be of an entirely different nature from that which we are conscious of. The general belief in God is that (He/It) is eternal. Eternal, does not apply to anything we can be immediately conscious of but we can form a rational concept of it. Belief in eternity (as being something distinct from space and time) is not an arbitrary belief.

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    3. (Note that ‘coming from nothing’ is such an illogical concept that “nothing" needs to be redefined in terms of something ...

      Correct

      Boinggggg! --- God!

      Glad you finally noticed ol' chap.

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    4. MalcolmS5:43 PM

      "I suggest Malcolm, that theism is just as much about “individuality” - an individual choice to act in community in response to religious teaching"

      We both know that you wouldn't stop praying to your spook, Ralph, even if you were marooned alone on a desert island! So "community" has nothing to do with it! As I have been telling you for years!

      In fact the main purpose of your life appears to be to obtain "eternal life" and to finally return "home" to be with your spook. Clearly, according to the myth, this purpose can only be enacted by yourself. I can't save your soul and you can't save mine. The only soul you can save is your own individual soul.

      Nothing could be more individualistic or *selfish* than that.

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    5. MalcolmS6:12 PM

      RalphH: "Either we believe that the existence we are conscious of comes from and is sustained by something or it comes from nothing"

      Fallacy of false alternative.

      Existence is eternal.

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    6. MalcolmS6:31 PM

      RalphH: "(Note that ‘coming from nothing’ is such an illogical concept that “nothing" needs to be redefined in terms of something a la Lawrence Krauss.)"

      Something ‘coming from nothing’ is certainly illogical.

      However there is nothing illogical about the concept nothing.

      Nothing does not require redefinition in terms of something.

      Nothing is the *absence* of something.

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    7. "Either we believe that the existence we are conscious of comes from and is sustained by something or it comes from nothing."

      Another of Ralph's "only two options" to choose from bullshit. Evidence that religion dulls the mind to see anything other than black and white? Perhaps not scientific evidence, but certainly an Atlantic Ocean sized body of anecdotal evidence.

      Ralph, give up on the "nothing" nonsense. No one believes something came from nothing - nothing can't even be proved to exist. Only religious fools use that moronic argument.

      "The problem is that one can’t replace God with anything other than an idol." Utter crap. What you repeatedly fail to comprehend is that god. like the tooth-fairy, doesn't need "replacing".

      "Without an objective yardstick (i.e. God), how does one define the “better” of “living better” or how does one know who and how to help..." If you can't work that out without god then you really are moral-free moron.

      "...who gets the credit for the wonder..." It's totally unnecessary to credit anyone or anything. Religious folk who credit their god, have achieved absolutely nothing in return for completing such a pointless exercise. Such "credit" is without foundation and is meaningless.

      "...the desire for self-improvement and the sense of community that inspires us to help others..." Your god is hardly inspiration for any of these ideals. Your god was once a mass-murdering egotist and is now an uninvolved, impassive egotist. Nothing to worship or be inspired by there.

      "If credit (worship) is not given to the true source of these things it can only be given to oneself (for discovering and using this knowledge), the human race as a whole (for collectively doing so) or some animate or inanimate thing (i.e. an idol of some sort)." More B&W unimaginative bullshit; just parroting the ill-logical, worship the all-controlling, all-conforming party line.

      Conformity isn't the wonderment to humankind that you think it is Ralph.

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    8. MalcolmS7:37 PM

      RalphH: "The general belief in God is that (He/It) is eternal. Eternal, does not apply to anything we can be immediately conscious of but we can form a rational concept of it. Belief in eternity (as being something distinct from space and time) is not an arbitrary belief"

      All "belief" held in the absence of evidence, or inference from evidence, is arbitrary. Period! Positing a god adds nothing to human knowledge and explains nothing. You cannot form a "rational concept" of the nonexistent except as fantasy.

      Eternal applies to one thing only: existence as such. Existence is not in "space and time" - it's *out* of space and time: aspatial and eternal. Space and time applies to the relationship between existents *within* the totality of existents/existence.

      That existence exists is self evident. It is an axiomatic requirement of consciousness and all knowledge [and all belief for that matter]. Existence is prior to consciousness [and God if He EXISTS].

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    9. RalphH 06/0412:59 AM

      “Boinggggg! --- God!

      Glad you finally noticed ol' chap.” (The Disembodied Soul of Billy the Magic Cat4:11 PM)

      Glad YOU finally noticed ex-Billy. God is that self-existent something (that may appear to be nothing unless one uses their grey matter) from which everything (else) comes.

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    10. RalphH 07/043:24 PM

      “RalphH: *”The general belief in God is that (He/It) is eternal. Eternal, does not apply to anything we can be immediately conscious of but we can form a rational concept of it. Belief in eternity (as being something distinct from space and time) is not an arbitrary belief”*

      All "belief" held in the absence of evidence, or inference from evidence, is arbitrary. Period!” (MalcolmS7:37 PM)

      I think I’d call that an a ‘arbitrary’ statement Malcolm (depending on your definition of “evidence”). We can hold valid beliefs based on personal feelings/intuitions that cannot be reproduced externally for others to experience in the same way. We can also glean valid inferences from such personal experience.

      “Positing a god adds nothing to human knowledge and explains nothing.”

      Depending on the nature of God that is posited, much can be explained particularly the big questions such as, “What is the meaning and purpose of life/of existence.”

      “You cannot form a "rational concept" of the nonexistent except as fantasy.”

      You cannot assume that an entity is “nonexistent” just because you can’t form a rational concept of it (especially when many others can).

      “Eternal applies to one thing only: existence as such. Existence is not in "space and time" - it's *out* of space and time: aspatial and eternal.”

      I agree with that sentiment and suggest the “eternal” spoken of is God from which all other (lesser - for want of a better word) existence comes forth and is sustained.

      “Space and time applies to the relationship between existents *within* the totality of existents/existence.”

      Space and time applies to those things that do not exist “as such”/of themselves but have a dependant existence. The fact that existence “within” is temporal and existence ‘without’ is eternal demonstrates that there is more than one level of existence.

      “That existence exists is self evident. It is an axiomatic requirement of consciousness and all knowledge [and all belief for that matter]. Existence is prior to consciousness [and God if He EXISTS].”

      While our bodies (sensing organs) existing within time and space we are conscious only of those existents of time and space. Albeit our rational capabilities and powers of abstraction can make us aware of (in the sense of forming a mental picture) of those things which are ‘outside’ that realm. If our bodies (for example) exist “prior to consciousness” there must be a ‘higher’ consciousness that enables/supports that existence.

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    11. RalphH 08/048:21 AM

      “Something ‘coming from nothing’ is certainly illogical.

      However there is nothing illogical about the concept nothing.

      Nothing does not require redefinition in terms of something.

      Nothing is the *absence* of something.” (MalcolmS6:31 PM)

      I would say the absence of anything and everything Malcolm. Here’s an excerpt from a critique of Krauss’ book demonstrating his convoluted thinking. It even contains a mention of your old intellectual mentor Aristotle.

      "Hence page 149 of A Universe From Nothing contains the candid admission that the kind of ‘nothing’ Krauss has been discussing thus far is:

      the simplest version of nothing, namely empty space. For the moment, I will assume space exists, with nothing at all in it, and that the laws of physics also exist. Once again, I realise that in the revised versions of nothingness that those who wish to continually redefine the word so that no scientific definition is practical, this version of nothing doesn’t cut the mustard. However, I suspect that, at the times of Plato and Aquinas, when they pondered why there was something rather than nothing, empty space with nothing in it was probably a good approximation of what they were thinking about. ………..

      Every discipline (including science) has its own technical terminology with its own history of usage that needs to be understood by anyone who wishes to be part of the ongoing conversation within that discipline. Krauss’ antipathy towards philosophy means that he blunders into the metaphysical debate about origins as an ill-prepared layperson. Krauss may "suspect that, at the times of Plato and Aquinas, when they pondered why there was something rather than nothing, empty space with nothing in it was probably a good approximation of what they were thinking about,"[38] but these suspicions are informed by his own anti-philosophical prejudice rather than by the historical facts. Aristotle wittily defined nothing as "what rocks think about."[39] The point being, of course, that rocks don’t think about anything at all."

      http://www.bethinking.org/is-there-a-creator/a-universe-from-someone-against-lawrence-krauss

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    12. RalphH 08/042:13 PM

      “*"Either we believe that the existence we are conscious of comes from and is sustained by something or it comes from nothing.”* (RH)

      Another of Ralph's "only two options" to choose from bullshit. Evidence that religion dulls the mind to see anything other than black and white? Perhaps not scientific evidence, but certainly an Atlantic Ocean sized body of anecdotal evidence.” (Kate7:22 PM)

      Can you suggest a third option Kate? Just because there are only two options does not make it a “black and white issue”. It makes it (as I said) an either/or issue.

      “Ralph, give up on the "nothing" nonsense. No one believes something came from nothing - nothing can't even be proved to exist. Only religious fools use that moronic argument.”

      “Nothing” can’t be “prove(n) to exist” because (by definition) it doesn’t exist. Both religious (extreme literalist fundamentalists) and non-religious fools (secular evolutionists) have assumed that it does. The illogical/irrational idea that something could arise from nothing can be immediately and definitely discarded.

      “Utter crap. What you repeatedly fail to comprehend is that god. like the tooth-fairy, doesn't need “replacing”."

      Don’t forget Kate that when I speak of God, I’m using my rational concept of God, not the funny straw-man idea that you have unfortunately come up with.

      “*”...who gets the credit for the wonder…”* (RH)

      “It's totally unnecessary to credit anyone or anything.”

      On the contrary, how could one not do so. To credit is to recognise the truth of the matter.

      “Religious folk who credit their god, have achieved absolutely nothing in return for completing such a pointless exercise. Such "credit" is without foundation and is meaningless.”

      IF (an entirely valid assumption) God exists, the point is that “religious folk” who do so attribute credit to God, believe in the truth/the reality and those who don’t believe a fantasy.

      “Your god is hardly inspiration for any of these ideals. Your god was once a mass-murdering egotist and is now an uninvolved, impassive egotist. Nothing to worship or be inspired by there.”

      That’s not ‘my’ God, that’s your God - the straw-man concept of God (formed from an inappropriate, literalistic interpretation of Scripture) - that you reject - and no wonder - so do I.

      “More B&W unimaginative bullshit; just parroting the ill-logical, worship the all-controlling, all-conforming party line.

      Conformity isn't the wonderment to humankind that you think it is Ralph.”

      There are no shades of grey between God and not-God or between right and wrong (in an objective sense). There is no continuum between love and hate, belief and non-belief. Some things are just plumb opposites - it’s about choice, not control or conformity.

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    13. Ralph

      "Don’t forget Kate that when I speak of God, I’m using my rational concept of God, not the funny straw-man idea that you have unfortunately come up with."

      I haven't invented god - other folks did that. The bible tells us that god, on several occassions, either committed mass murder by his own "hand" or had others do it for him. I did not invent that - it's in the bible. That you choose to ignore those claims is just another example of Christians picking and choosing which bits of the bible they like and ignoring those bits that conflict with their invented notion that "god is love".

      Your repeated claim that you don't have a literalistic interpretation of the bible is again false - or are you saying that Jesus was not the son of god? Are you saying that the new testament is full of more stories that are as open to interpretation as Aesop's fables? If nothing in the bible is litterally true, then you have no evidence to support a single one of your beliefs.

      "There is no continuum between love and hate..." You cannot be serious. How about like? Indifference?

      That you can't see your religion is about control and conformity is your own blind spot.

      Re the credit issue, I credit time and geological forces for the existence of mountains, for example, but there is no point in worshipping time or geology, that's the truth.

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    14. RalphH 09/047:20 AM

      “I haven't invented god - other folks did that. The bible tells us that god, on several occassions, either committed mass murder by his own "hand" or had others do it for him. I did not invent that - it's in the bible. That you choose to ignore those claims is just another example of Christians picking and choosing which bits of the bible they like and ignoring those bits that conflict with their invented notion that "god is love”.” (Kate5:29 PM)

      I disagree Kate. You have ‘invented your own concept of God by what you have chosen to accept as literally true i.e. that God is a mass murderer. Yet it says and demonstrates over and over again in the Bible that ‘God is Love’ and the 6th Commandment is “You shall not commit murder.” Since these two concepts (Love or Murderer) are diametric opposites, only one description can be literally correct) and the other needs a symbolic interpretation to make any sense of it. Why do you choose to accept the ‘murderer’ idea as the one that is literally true?

      “Your repeated claim that you don't have a literalistic interpretation of the bible is again false - or are you saying that Jesus was not the son of god?”

      There is much in the bible that is literally true even though it also has a deeper meaning (often many deeper levels of meaning) but some is literally untrue but true in it’s inner or symbolic/parabolic meaning. Jesus (for example) was/is not the son of God in the sense of being a separate being (as you and I are separate beings from our parents) but he is the son of God in the sense that he is the Truth which presents/reveals/comes forth from/is born of Good (which pertains to Love which is the Father). Quite simple really from a philosophical viewpoint.

      “Are you saying that the new testament is full of more stories that are as open to interpretation as Aesop's fables? If nothing in the bible is litterally true, then you have no evidence to support a single one of your beliefs.”

      The whole Bible is stories/parables demonstrating spiritual and moral principles. Many of the stories/dialogues have a basis in Jewish history. They are not designed to be historically or scientifically correct (much however is) because the stories merely form the matrix from which spiritual principles are demonstrated.

      “*”There is no continuum between love and hate…”*(RH) You cannot be serious. How about like? Indifference?”

      Like is a milder/less passionate form of love but it’s still a love/a positive. Indifference involves a lack of love but it is not an opposition to love (as hate is).

      “That you can't see your religion is about control and conformity is your own blind spot.”

      I’ve had a rethink on this. It’s definitely not about control - it’s about choice and the freedom to choose is opposite to control. What is chosen is to conform with revealed spiritual principle/laws that prevent us from harming or destroying our spirit/inner minds E.g. ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ i.e have good-will and be kind to all people.

      In a similar way we conform to the ‘laws of Nature’ if we don’t want to harm or destroy our bodies.

      “Re the credit issue, I credit time and geological forces for the existence of mountains, for example, but there is no point in worshipping time or geology, that's the truth.”

      OK, but then “time’” and “geological forces” (of themselves) are not capable of creating anything, they are merely the means/the intermediary causes. When one attributes credit one needs to go right to the ‘top’ of the chain of causation i.e. to the first cause.

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    15. Ralph, can you please provide a copy of the list, preferably as cited by the bible's authors, that shows which bits of the bible are "stories/parables demonstrating spiritual and moral principles" and which bits are the literal truth?

      If you can't do that then the bible is nothing but a book that is open to the interpretation of the reader - meaning no interpretation is right and none is wrong. If you can't provide a definitive list then you are still picking and choosing the bits in the bible that you like and the bits you don't, the bits you decide are the literal truth and the bits that are stories.

      "You have ‘invented your own concept of God by what you have chosen to accept as literally true" Totally false. I have repeatedly stated over the many years that the bible is a load of bollocks - I don't believe any of it is "literally true". Yet again you leap to unsupported assumptions about me.

      "When one attributes credit one needs to go right to the ‘top’ of the chain of causation i.e. to the first cause." When there is evidence that there is anything "right at the top" then I will give credit where it's due - but there is no evidence to support your claims. If some ever turns up, I will happily change my mind, but I won't guarantee any worshipping - still a pointless exercise.

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    16. MalcolmS2:53 AM

      "... you[Ralph] are still picking and choosing the bits in the bible that you like and the bits you don't, the bits you decide are the literal truth and the bits that are stories"

      Spot on Kate.

      Notice that Ralph decides which is which arbitrarily without any evidence whatsoever.

      Ralph's literal truth is another man's metaphor and vica versa.

      With the arbiter being that little voice in Ralph's confused head which the rest of us must accept on faith.

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    17. You have ‘invented your own concept of God by what you have chosen to accept as literally true i.e. that God is a mass murderer. Yet it says and demonstrates over and over again in the Bible that ‘God is Love’ and the 6th Commandment is “You shall not commit murder.” Since these two concepts (Love or Murderer) are diametric opposites, only one description can be literally correct) and the other needs a symbolic interpretation to make any sense of it.

      I'm pretty sure the big fellers commandments don't apply to himself ralfie.

      They're just meant to be for the apple munchin' crew to follow.

      Normally I cant be bothered unpicking either your or twiddleheads convoluted nonsense, but honestly.. that hole was so big, trucks were coming through ... sideways.

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    18. RalphH 10/045:33 AM

      “Ralph, can you please provide a copy of the list, preferably as cited by the bible's authors, that shows which bits of the bible are "stories/parables demonstrating spiritual and moral principles" and which bits are the literal truth?” (Kate2:05 AM)

      No I can’t Kate. There is no such list that I’m aware of. There is no such division between literal and symbolic/parabolic. The whole of the ‘Word of God’ is parable. (Matthew 13:34, Mark 4:34 demonstrate this for the NT and Psalm 78 does so for the OT). Matthew 13:35 quotes Psalm 78:2 linking the two testaments together on this issue but on top of that much is also literally true. There is no conflict because literal truths have to do with the physical world of the body and spiritual truths have to do with the world of the spirit/the inner mind/the essential person.

      E.g. it is literally true/a historical event that Jesus was born and walked the earth teaching and healing and that subsequently the gospel writers recorded these events and teachings. If that were all, it would make an interesting story but would have no lasting effect. The real story (that has universal and eternal consequences) is that God can be born into individual human hearts in terms of the principles that Jesus taught being accepted, imbibed and used in the formation of character laying the groundwork for usefulness, harmony, peace and, where all do so (as in heaven), universal happiness.

      “If you can't do that then the bible is nothing but a book that is open to the interpretation of the reader - meaning no interpretation is right and none is wrong. If you can't provide a definitive list then you are still picking and choosing the bits in the bible that you like and the bits you don't, the bits you decide are the literal truth and the bits that are stories.”

      Not so at all. when the bible is properly interpreted there are no contradictions or conflicts. As Jesus demonstrated when expounding his ‘Parable of the Sower’ to his close disciples there is a parallel between the things of the outer world/body and the inner world/spirit e.g. natural seed is planted in the soil and spiritual seed/ideas/truths are implanted in the mind.

      “Totally false. I have repeatedly stated over the many years that the bible is a load of bollocks - I don't believe any of it is "literally true". Yet again you leap to unsupported assumptions about me.”

      To come to a conclusion that “the bible is a load of bollocks” you would have needed to have formed some understanding of it to reject. Possibly that understanding was incorrect.

      “When there is evidence that there is anything "right at the top" then I will give credit where it's due - but there is no evidence to support your claims. If some ever turns up, I will happily change my mind, but I won't guarantee any worshipping - still a pointless exercise.”

      If you don’t want to accept a starting point/first cause as a logical necessity then we’re back to something coming from nothing again (which I believe is illogical and irrational).

      Delete
    19. If you don’t want to accept a starting point/first cause as a logical necessity then we’re back to something coming from nothing again (which I believe is illogical and irrational).

      And if you do want to accept a starting point/first cause as a logical necessity then boinnng!

      Something came from nothing!
      boing boing boing

      Delete
    20. MalcolmS6:09 AM

      RalphH: "If you don’t want to accept a starting point/first cause as a logical necessity then we’re back to something coming from nothing again"

      No, we are back to existence being eternal!

      You are not being logical at all.

      Delete
    21. MalcolmS6:24 AM

      Ralph

      You keep banging on as if *something coming from nothing* is the devil incarnate!

      Yet none of your adversaries hold that view!

      Get a grip man :)

      Delete
    22. It's ok Ralph, I knew that no such list existed. Your comment "when the bible is properly interpreted..." is just plain funny and smacks of the type of egotism of which your god, if he exists, would be proud to see that you really have been made in his image.

      There is no evidence to suggest that the bible should not be taken literally.

      There is no evidence to suggest that the bible needs to be interpretated.

      If the bible is supposed to be interpreted there is no evidence to show how the bible should be interpreted.

      There is no evidence to support that any interpretation is the "proper interpretation".

      You repeatedly use the term "properly interpreted" when referring to the bible, but all you really mean is "interpretations that agree with my interpretation".

      You can no more prove that your interpretation of the bible is the "proper interpretation" than you can prove that your god, or any other god, exists.

      Delete
    23. "If you don’t want to accept a starting point/first cause as a logical necessity then we’re back to something coming from nothing again (which I believe is illogical and irrational). "

      Ralph I also believe that "something coming from nothing" is bollocks. That's why I have never claimed that I support that idiotic view - in fact, if you scroll up a bit you will see where I have previously denounced this bullshit as something only moronic theists trot out in what is possibly the most pointless defense of their beliefs. No one has ever said "something came from nothing" except imbeciles who deliberately distort the science behind the Big Bang.

      Delete
    24. RalphH 11/045:09 PM

      “And if you do want to accept a starting point/first cause as a logical necessity then boinnng!

      Something came from nothing!
      boing boing boing” (The Disembodied Soul of Billy the Magic Cat5:50 AM)

      Enjoying yourself on the trampoline Billy?

      It may appear as if it came from nothing but an alternative is that it came from something that is of an entirely different nature/makeup than the objects of Nature/time and space that impinge on our conscious awareness - something eternal - a higher state of being that exists in and of itself and as such is the source of all else that from a lower/created perspective (e.g. a human that identifies as a dead cat) appears to have come from nothing.

      Delete
    25. RalphH 11/046:50 PM

      “It's ok Ralph, I knew that no such list existed. Your comment "when the bible is properly interpreted..." is just plain funny and smacks of the type of egotism of which your god, if he exists, would be proud to see that you really have been made in his image.” (Kate5:02 PM)

      Kate, there is no implication whatsoever that any egotism is involved only that there is ‘a proper interpretation/explanation’. If I have (even to some extent) discovered aspects of that true interpretation it has not been from my own efforts but from the efforts of others far more learned than I am.

      “There is no evidence to suggest that the bible should not be taken literally.

      There is no evidence to suggest that the bible needs to be interpretated.”

      As I’ve already said there is a lot that can - all direct commandments (apart from the old dietary and sacrificial laws to the Hebrews in the OT) such as ‘The Ten Commandments’ (Exodus 20:1-17), the Two Great Commandments (Matthew 22:37-40), the “New Commandment’ (to “love one another” - John 13:34). But then there are all those statements about parable, figurative language, and symbolism which obviously need interpretation.

      “If the bible is supposed to be interpreted there is no evidence to show how the bible should be interpreted.”

      As I have already pointed out, there is the evidence/example of how Jesus himself explained some of his parables.

      “There is no evidence to support that any interpretation is the "proper interpretation".


      There is the evidence that it makes sense with all the contradiction and seemingly illogical statements ironed out.

      “You repeatedly use the term "properly interpreted" when referring to the bible, but all you really mean is "interpretations that agree with my interpretation”.”

      My only criterion is that it makes sense logically. By nature I’m a sceptic so I tend to reject irrational nonsense.

      “You can no more prove that your interpretation of the bible is the "proper interpretation" than you can prove that your god, or any other god, exists.”

      I guess I can’t, certainly not to anyone who is determined not consider other possibilities.

      Delete
    26. MalcolmS3:47 AM

      RalphH: "“You can no more prove that your interpretation of the bible is the "proper interpretation" than you can prove that your god, or any other god, exists[Kate]”

      I guess I can’t..."

      About bloody time!

      How come it took so long?

      Delete
    27. Ralph there are countless interpretations of bible - all of them claiming to be the "proper interpretation"; a claim you repeatedly make for yourself. So amongst all those interpretations, which you freely admit that you can't prove is accurate, you still claim yours is the "proper interpretation" and you can't see how collosal your ego has to be to make that statement? Everyone who makes any such claim about their interpretation of the bible has studied it extensively and usually for many years, yet so many interpretations continue to exist, contradict each other and also contradict what's in the bible itself. There is not a single person on this planet who can rightly claim to be the holder of the "proper interpretation" of the bible - not one. Not until god pops down to Earth, doffs you on the head and says "Ralph is da man!"

      By the way, whether you constructed or adopted the interpretation of the bible to which you cling is irrelevant - it is still "your" interpretation.

      Your claim that you can't prove anything to someone "who is determined not consider other possibilities" must be directed at yourself. I examine all possibilities and as I've repeatedly said, once shred of evidence that god exists and I'll change my mind. You on the other hand refuse to examine any other possibilities even when presented with a mountain of evidence - your views are fixed and your mind closed.

      "My only criterion is that it makes sense logically. By nature I’m a sceptic so I tend to reject irrational nonsense." Yet you apply different standards of evidence depending on your beliefs - not much logic there. You make irrational claims about me and others that are nonsense and often fly in the face of the facts that you actually know about me/us - not much rational thinking there.

      Delete
    28. Dear Kate,

      Thanks for all of this. You should have your own blog. In my view, you are on to the big issue about biblical interpretation. There are the fundos who believe every syllable. There are the atheists who think it is tosh. And in between there are those believers who make the decision to selectively believe. Is this last option intellectually sustainable? That is the question. Dick

      Delete
  3. By its very definition, atheism is a negative force. It is about rebuttal of an idea, not an idea in itself.

    That's because the term was invented by wackydo religulous types like ralf and mal-adjusted to earbash anyone not sharing their "values". The idea that atheism "exists" and is in opposition to "theism" is simply religulous dogma in action

    I would propose we adopt a new term "indifferentheism" to more accurately describe the attitude of most people currently being described as "atheist"

    That is to say, I would propose that if I could be bothered - which I can't ... so yawwwwn

    carry on...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Do we need communities for the godless?
    Short answer - I don't know. I'm curious as to why the godless bit is relevant. Doesn't making a event specifically godless ensure the event is as exclusive as religious events? Again, I don't know.

    What I would like to see across the wider community is greater acceptance and inclusiveness, rather than the current "you can't be part of our group until you conform to our thinking" nonsense. Human beings are so diverse that the notion we should all be more alike is unfathomable to me, but, sadly, seems to give others a sense of purpose and sense of superiority.


    Will the competition from the net, the media and sport crowd out these new Sunday Assemblies?
    Again, I don't know. Sunday Assemblies don't interest me, but each to their own. As for the net, the following might be of interest...
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2597891/Losing-religion-New-research-shows-religion-declined-Internet-use-increased.html

    Can we survive and thrive without direct human contact and ritual?
    Oh Dick, such a loaded question! Of course we can't; but it is also true that that contact and ritual can be free of religion and still have great meaning and value to those who participate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Kate, re your last point - it is a question as loaded as gambler's dice. If we were in a court the opposing barrister would lean back on his/her haunches and bellow, "Leading Question Your Honour!!!"

      Delete
    2. What I would like to see across the wider community is greater acceptance and inclusiveness...

      Cracking idea!!
      You could start the ball rolling by accepting and including Ralfie!
      I'm sure he cant wait!!

      Delete
    3. Billy, I was including myself in my statement, though I wasn't aware I didn't accept or include Ralph.

      Delete
    4. I always say thank God for Ralph. We need debate. Dick

      Delete
    5. MalcolmS9:59 PM

      "thank God for Ralph"

      Or, is that thank Ralph for God?

      On this blog God is Ralph's creation.

      Delete
    6. RalphH 14/045:59 PM

      “On this blog God is Ralph's creation.” (MalcolmS9:59 PM)

      I obviously have my own concept of God Malcolm but then, so do you. You, for example, often refer to God as a ‘spook’ under the unfounded presumption that there is no God. This is merely a straw-man idea that is easy for any sensible person (including me) to discount.

      I, on the other hand refer to God as Love - the active, creative force that can only exist in and emanate from a being having reason and free-will. Your problem is that you sell God short and over idolise the capabilities of humankind.

      You don’t get that there is a quantum difference between God and His creation. God is the absolute, self-existent source of everything of Nature/the world that we can sensate and know about, and being love and wisdom in absolute, perfect form is incapable of any mistakes or evil of any sort.

      We (humans) are a part of that creation - mere recipients of life/love/existence - gifted with reason (albeit extremely limited by the small creatures we are) and free-will so that we may emulate God and become an image and likeness of Him. This is achieved by living a life of love and kindness to our fellow creatures as per the instructions of revelation (from God).

      Free-will however can become an Achilles heel if it is abused, allowing and encouraging the reason to be lured by the pleasures of the senses into the self-destructive fantasy that nothing higher than the world of Nature exists and the puny self (the created, dependent thing) is the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong/good and evil.

      Delete
    7. This is merely a straw-man ...

      Dont you mean straw - "spook"?

      Question:
      How is that any better or worse than your straw - "active, creative force that can only exist in and emanate from a being having reason and free-will"

      Riddle me that riddley-diddley

      Delete
    8. MalcolmS8:56 AM

      RalphH

      "I obviously have my own concept of God Malcolm but then, so do you"

      Yes, I do. I have the concept God filed under *fantasy* along with Elmer Fudd, Donald Duck and centaurs.

      "You, for example, often refer to God as a ‘spook’ under the unfounded presumption that there is no God"

      It's well founded but, apparently, you have not been paying attention.

      "I, on the other hand refer to God as Love - the active, creative force that can only exist in and emanate from a being having reason and free-will"

      My goodness, that's an interesting statement!! "Reason and free-will" are the attributes of a fallible, errant, finite being! I would have thought that, if such a spook existed, it would be conscious by Divine means which we could not comprehend. Wouldn't you? Furthermore, such a perfect being would be immutable since change of any kind would render a perfect being *less than perfect.* Which means that a perfect being could not "create" or "emanate" in any manner whatsoever because either involves a change[mutability]! Thinking according to reason certainly involves mental change! You are getting a little sloppy with your made up bullshit formulations Ralph.

      "Your problem is that you sell God short and over idolise the capabilities of humankind"

      I don't "sell" God Ralph. He is worthless, without any redeeming virtue and is redundant in a rational worldview. I certainly admire high achieving human beings but, fear not Ralph, I don't include you amongst such esteemed entities!

      "God is the absolute, self-existent source of everything of Nature/the world that we can sensate and know about, and being love and wisdom in absolute, perfect form is incapable of any mistakes or evil of any sort"

      That is precisely what you have recently confessed that you can't prove. You're becoming rather forgetful!

      "We (humans) are a part of that creation - mere recipients of life/love/existence - gifted with reason (albeit extremely limited by the small creatures we are) and free-will so that we may emulate God and become an image and likeness of Him. This is achieved by living a life of love and kindness to our fellow creatures as per the instructions of revelation (from God)"

      Aah, still smiting homosexuals and refraining from eating shellfish I see.

      "Free-will however can become an Achilles heel if it is abused, allowing and encouraging the reason to be lured by the pleasures of the senses into the self-destructive fantasy that nothing higher than the world of Nature exists and the puny self (the created, dependent thing) is the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong/good and evil"

      The ramblings of a mystic! Except the bit about *your* puny self with which I wholeheartedly agree.

      Delete
    9. RalphH 19/045:42 PM

      “I have the concept God filed under *fantasy* along with Elmer Fudd, Donald Duck and centaurs.”

      Where you file it, Malcolm, is a further step from forming a concept. If you form a foolish one, of course you’ll have to file it under fantasy.

      "You, for example, often refer to God as a ‘spook’ under the unfounded presumption that there is no God"

      “It's well founded but, apparently, you have not been paying attention.”

      How is it “well founded”. We’re looking for something with the capability of creating and sustaining the universe as a cohesive whole with all it’s beauty, wonder and order. What can a “spook” do? It’s a fantasy thing that says ‘boo’ and rattles it’s chains. When forming an hypothesis one needs to use one’s imagination but also one’s intelligence.

      “I would have thought that, if such a spook existed, it would be conscious by Divine means which we could not comprehend. Wouldn't you?”

      Why would we not be able to comprehend the Divine and the divine operation as something of total power and perfection. We don’t need to be able to fill in all the details, only to form a general concept that would work according to a train of logical thought.

      “Furthermore, such a perfect being would be immutable since change of any kind would render a perfect being *less than perfect.* Which means that a perfect being could not "create" or "emanate" in any manner whatsoever because either involves a change[mutability]! Thinking according to reason certainly involves mental change! You are getting a little sloppy .…”

      I think you’re the one ‘getting sloppy’ Malcolm. Inability to “create” or “emanate” would be a lack of perfection. If you lacked the ability to create or communicate and help others we’d say you had a disability wouldn’t we? i.e you’d be less perfect. Creating and interacting with others does not change your essential nature, it manifests and establishes it.

      “I don't "sell" God Ralph. He is worthless, without any redeeming virtue and is redundant in a rational worldview.”

      You don’t prove ‘worthlessness’ by postulating a mediocre concept that doesn’t fit the bill and then knocking it down.

      So what is this “rational world-view” that you claim? What provides the fore-sight, vision and power to create created things?

      “That is precisely what you have recently confessed that you can't prove. You're becoming rather forgetful!”

      I certainly haven’t forgotten Malcolm but you seem to have forgotten (on not gotten the message) that that type of ‘proof’ is not possible and would be counterproductive. What is important is proving it to oneself which can only be done by accepting it and testing it for oneself in one’s own life.

      “Aah, still smiting homosexuals and refraining from eating shellfish I see.”

      The Hebrew word that has been translated ‘abomination’ is different when the topic is non-finned, non-scaled water dwelling creatures and men who treat other men sexually as they would a woman. The two topics are in different places and contained within different lists - one dealing with dietary laws, the other dealing with sexual impropriety/immorality.

      The Levitical dietary laws were abrogated by Christ during his ministry as was the death sentence for sexual immorality. (see John 8 - the woman taken in adultery). Christ reaffirmed and reasserted the purpose and criteria for sexuality (Matthew 19:4-6). The ‘punishment’ for ignoring or rejecting this is actually contained within the abusive activity itself because it cannot lead to fulfilment and lasting happiness. Nowadays, as ever, people indulging in sexual immorality do so at their own risk.

      “The ramblings of a mystic! Except the bit about *your* puny self with which I wholeheartedly agree.”

      Puny was obviously used to demonstrate the massive difference between the finite and the infinite, i.e. limited, imperfect man (mankind in general) and unlimited, perfect God.

      Delete
    10. MalcolmS9:04 AM

      RalphH: "We’re looking for something with the capability of creating and sustaining the universe as a cohesive whole with all it’s beauty, wonder and order"

      The universe does not require sustenance. It is self-sustaining. It behaves in accordance with its nature and can do nothing else.

      "What can a “spook” do?"

      Nothing. Spooks don't exist. A spook can't create existence but it doesn't need to. Existence has always existed. Existence is eternal.

      "It’s a fantasy thing that says ‘boo’ and rattles it’s chains"

      Oh, the J/C spook myth is much more vicious and malevolent than that.

      "When forming an hypothesis one needs to use one’s imagination but also one’s intelligence"

      You haven't used yours! A hypothesis without evidence is arbitrary and can be dismissed out of hand.

      "“I would have thought that, if such a spook existed, it would be conscious by Divine means which we could not comprehend. Wouldn't you?[MS]” Why would we not be able to comprehend the Divine and the divine operation as something of total power and perfection[RH]"

      Because you have just asserted that God goes by reason and logic!! How could that apply to the J/C God myth when He is allegedly omniscient and infallible? Reason and logic gives neither omniscience nor infallibility. It can err and your spook allegedly cannot. Also, reason operates as a process across time and your spook is allegedly eternal[out of time].

      "We don’t need to be able to fill in all the details, only to form a general concept that would work according to a train of logical thought"

      You haven't a clue about concept formation. Concepts are formed from observed particulars/evidence - what you are calling "details." Go and learn some epistemology and stop making stuff up.

      “Inability to “create” or “emanate” would be a lack of perfection"

      Not when applied to an allegedly perfect being. A perfect being cannot become more perfect!! It's as perfect as it can get. Any *change* would necessarily result in imperfection [for a full explanation read about Aristotle's prime mover]. A perfect being is necessarily immutable or it becomes imperfect.

      “"I don't "sell" God Ralph. He is worthless, without any redeeming virtue and is redundant in a rational worldview[MS]” You don’t prove ‘worthlessness’ by postulating a mediocre concept that doesn’t fit the bill and then knocking it down[RH]"

      You don't have to "knock down" the nonexistent. It's already worthless.

      "So what is this “rational world-view” that you claim? What provides the fore-sight, vision and power to create created things?"

      That's easy. A man creates a wheel because he is a man. A bird creates a nest because it's a bird. A rabbit creates a burrow because it's a rabbit. The principle is that an entity acts in accordance with its nature. What it *is* determines what it *creates.* However that does not apply to the *totality.* There is nothing else to create totality. Existence[the totality] is eternal.

      Delete
    11. A man creates a wheel because he is a man. A bird creates a nest because it's a bird. A rabbit creates a burrow because it's a rabbit.

      Just add "a nobjectivist has a magicsausagefetish because its a nobjectivist and you've got the set

      Yaay foolosophy!!

      Delete
    12. MalcolmS1:53 AM

      And disembodiedidiotcats have metaphorical knackers because they are magicsausagetossingspooks :)

      There's a universal law in there somewhere.

      Delete
    13. RalphH 23/046:03 AM

      “The universe does not require sustenance. It is self-sustaining. It behaves in accordance with its nature and can do nothing else.” (MalcolmS9:04 AM)

      What proof is there that it is “self-sustaining”? If it were self-sustaining, how could any part of it cease to exist?

      “A spook can't create existence but it doesn't need to. Existence has always existed. Existence is eternal.”

      Existence Itself (in and of itself) is eternal but existence that is dependent on something else/something prior/something that creates and sustains it, is not

      “Oh, the J/C spook myth is much more vicious and malevolent than that.”

      Where in the Christ story is Jesus ever “vicious and malevolent”?

      “You haven't used yours! A hypothesis without evidence is arbitrary and can be dismissed out of hand.”

      No hypothesis has “evidence”. Evidence (for or against it) is built up as a hypothesis is tested.

      “….. you have just asserted that God goes by reason and logic!! How could that apply to the J/C God myth when He is allegedly omniscient and infallible? Reason and logic gives neither omniscience nor infallibility. It can err and your spook allegedly cannot. Also, reason operates as a process across time and your spook is allegedly eternal[out of time].”

      Human reason and logic can err because they exist in a finite, fallible being. But Divine Reason and Logic (purpose allied to love) cannot err because they are part and parcel of a perfect, infinite, infallible being.

      “You haven't a clue about concept formation. Concepts are formed from observed particulars/evidence - what you are calling “details.” "

      Concepts can also be formed from abstracted ideas. The things of the world/body are grounded in physical “particulars/evidence”, the things of the mind/spirit are grounded in spiritual “particulars/evidence”.

      “*“Inability to “create” or “emanate” would be a lack of perfection”* (RH)

      Not when applied to an allegedly perfect being.”

      Absolutely when applied to a perfect being - those abilities are part of the ‘perfection’.

      “A perfect being cannot become more perfect!! …… A perfect being is necessarily immutable or it becomes imperfect.”

      Creating and emanating/sustaining are not changes to the creator and sustainer. The are the fulfilment of of it’s nature.

      “You don't have to "knock down" the nonexistent. It's already worthless.”

      How can one attribute “worthlessness”/any value to something they have already decided is “non-existent”?

      “…. A man creates a wheel because he is a man. A bird creates a nest because it's a bird. A rabbit creates a burrow because it's a rabbit. The principle is that an entity acts in accordance with its nature.”

      I suggest Malcolm, that things ‘created’ of a bird or animal are vastly different from things created by a human being in that the animal can only act according to it’s nature/an inbuilt instinct but humans, because of their capacity for rational understanding, can learn/be educated to exceed their natural instincts.

      “What it *is* determines what it *creates.*”

      So what is it that determines what it *is*?

      “However that does not apply to the *totality.* There is nothing else to create totality. Existence[the totality] is eternal.”

      To say something is “eternal ‘ is the same thing as saying it is God because God (by definition) is eternal - the eternal being/the eternal existence. To assume that the totality of everything existing is eternal is to assume that every individual thing making up that totality is also eternal, yet common-sense, observation and intellect inform us that all things are not eternal. The things that are not eternal are created (also by definition) - dependant on the eternal for their existence but not a ‘part’ of it.

      Delete
    14. MalcolmS9:39 AM

      RalphH: "What proof is there that [existence] is “self-sustaining”?"

      If you have evidence that existence is "sustained" then give it! If any X *does* sustain it, then, X would exist, i.e., be a part of the existence being sustained and *that* is a contradiction!

      "If it were self-sustaining, how could any part of it cease to exist?"

      By the part becoming another part which does exist.

      “Existence Itself (in and of itself) is eternal but existence that is dependent on something else/something prior/something that creates and sustains it, is not"

      That's true. The former is the totality and the latter are the entities/parts which sum to the totality. Thanks for your enthusiastic agreement :)

      "No hypothesis has “evidence”"

      An hypothesis without evidence is an arbitrary hypothesis and can be properly dismissed without further discussion. An hypothesis with a small amount of evidence and nothing to contradict it is what we call *possible.*

      “Human reason and logic can err because they exist in a finite, fallible being"

      No, reason is fallible by its very nature. A rational process is never *automatically* correct. That's why human beings need to discover, and practise, a proper *method,* i.e., logic. Furthermore, I am aware of no other rational being and nor are you. It's just another of your arbitrary assertions. Certainly, if your spook existed and was "rational," it would be fallible.

      “Concepts can also be formed from abstracted ideas. The things of the world/body are grounded in physical “particulars/evidence”, the things of the mind/spirit are grounded in spiritual “particulars/evidence”"

      The things of the mind/spirit *are* things of the world/body. Mind/spirit is not disembodied.

      “Inability to “create” or “emanate” would be a lack of perfection”[RH] "Not when applied to an allegedly perfect being.”[MS] "Absolutely when applied to a perfect being - those abilities are part of the ‘perfection’"[RH]

      There is no such thing as a perfect being. *If* such an entity existed it would have to be immutable since any *change* would render it imperfect.

      “Creating and emanating/sustaining are not changes to the creator and sustainer. The[sic] are the fulfilment of of[sic] it’s nature"

      You are not referring to a perfect being. A perfect being requires no "fulfilment."

      “How can one attribute “worthlessness”/any value to something they have already decided is “non-existent”?"

      The non-existent has no value and, therefore, is worthless.

      “I suggest Malcolm, that things ‘created’ of a bird or animal are vastly different from things created by a human being in that the animal can only act according to it’s nature/an inbuilt instinct but humans, because of their capacity for rational understanding, can learn/be educated to exceed their natural instincts"

      Human beings have no instincts. Human beings cannot act contrary to their nature [nothing can - including the inanimate] although they can act contrary to their good.

      "“What it *is* determines what it *creates.*[MS]” So what is it that determines what it *is*?[RH]"

      What it is *is* its nature/identity.

      “To say something is “eternal ‘ is the same thing as saying it is God because God (by definition) is eternal"

      It has nothing to do with God. I can define *centaur* but that won't make it exist. Eternal means *out of time.*

      Delete
    15. Yes Ralph, Free will can be abused and that is the intent of the grantor of that will. D

      Delete
  5. Anonymous6:25 PM

    Good blog. I'm a Billy the Magic Cat fanboy. I love the way he and mal-adjusted go back and forth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MalcolmS7:14 PM

      magicsausagetosser would love a fanboy.

      Perhaps we could arrange a meetup :)

      Delete
    2. I'm witty and popular
      You aren't

      Soak it up now tossrag

      Delete
    3. I some times get a bit stressed if the back and forth is too vigorous. It may deter some contributors.

      Dick

      Delete
    4. MalcolmS9:07 AM

      I have been warning that idiotcat about his "vigorous back and forth[ing]" for ages!

      He should stop it before he goes blind! :)

      Delete
    5. Quit lying Ragboy

      Everyone knows how much you love a good soaking

      Delete
    6. MalcolmS12:13 AM

      Oops... he's blind already!

      Such "vigor"! Such "forth[ing]"! :)

      Delete
    7. [sic]

      Yet more pitiful attempts at spreading misinformation by the cheese frottering nobjectivist.
      Disembodied souls cant go blind ragboy. We don't have any eyes.

      Be honest now. You really just wanted another soaking from me didn't you?

      Well, you'll have to do a lot better than that. Nothing comes for free son. Get a proper job

      Delete
    8. MalcolmS10:18 PM

      magicsausagetosser: "We don't have any eyes"

      Or knackers :)

      Delete
    9. knackers

      FYI magicsausageabsorbanttossrag.
      Amongst adults these are known as testicles.

      Why not ask your mum to proofread your posts before wasting anyone else's time?

      Soaky soak it up now.
      Thats it ragboy

      Delete
    10. MalcolmS11:32 PM

      LOL temper.. temper.. sausagetosser..

      Shall we settle for spiritual testicles?

      ROFLMAO

      Delete
    11. spiritual testicles

      Thats ralfies specialty. I guess you want a good drenching from him now.
      Just pull out your twiddle about perfect beings that can't move and I'm sure he'll be happy to oblige you.

      Remember to have a snorkel handy lol

      Adieu soakie ;)

      Delete
    12. MalcolmS12:22 AM

      "Perfect beings" don't exist dopey.

      The point is that *if* they existed they would have to be immutable.

      But that's a little deep for you.. and Ralph.

      Er.. shall we just go with metaphorical knackers :)

      Delete
    13. "Perfect beings" don't exist dopey.

      lol. What kind of "perfect" is a being that doesn't exist? I'll tell you what kind of perfect

      Im-perfect!

      That's why you're goofy little attempt at a "perfect being" cant move.
      You're simply too stupid to notice its glaring imperfections.

      Wow maaaan ... deeeep!! lol

      But that's enough of a drenching from me now. You soak that all up.
      Ralfie will be along soon to give you another dose.

      lol ;)

      Delete
    14. MalcolmS3:15 AM

      magicsausagetosser: "What kind of "perfect" is a being that doesn't exist? I'll tell you what kind of perfect. Im-perfect!"

      Exactly my point! I rest my case!

      So glad you're in such enthusiastic agreement :)

      "Ralfie will be along soon to give you another dose"

      I doubt it. God is dead! This is Easter Sunday, dopey, and Ralph is busy groveling to the dead God! Apparently he is wracked with guilt that he was unable to stop the Romans from killing his favourite spook! Yet nature has not fallen apart and nature's inhabitants are furiously munching chocolate eggs and watching footy. Tomorrow God leaps back into existence from nothingness! The dead God must work in mysterious ways! Mysterious ways which only Ralph understands :)

      Delete
    15. Exactly my point! I rest my case!

      So glad you're in such enthusiastic agreement

      Pfft. Attention monkey brainfarts up yet more obvious falsehoods.

      Poor monkey. You must be really desperate for my attention to pull those two idiot fantasies out of your arse.
      Lonely in your little basement is it? Not sticky enough yet?

      Dont worry baby, ralfie will be along to babysit soon. I know how much you love ralfie. You two are happy little goofpeas in the same loonypod.

      Then you naughty boys can fiddle-diddle with each others mystical foolishness to your hearts content

      yawwwnypoos!
      Nighty night little stickytossrag

      Delete
    16. MalcolmS9:11 AM

      magicsausagetosser: "You must be really desperate for my attention"

      ROFLMTO

      Goo, goo. Sleep tight metaphorical knackers LOL

      Delete
  6. "We have won the intellectual war on God/s. We have diminished the power of the sacred, particularly in the West. What can we throw up as alternatives?"

    It is somewhat contradictory to claim humanity have "won the intellectual war on God/s" yet at the same time demonstrate by a forlorn call for an "alternative" it simply has not occurred. The whole point of winning a war is vanquishing the enemy in this case the 'sacred' as the authorisation for any number of sins, to replace it with the 'secular' as the authorisation for any number of sins.

    I am somewhat reminded of the Iranian Left wingers swinging in Iranian theocratic cells after running in the streets shouting 'Freedom'. Did they win anything, was the Western philosophical tradition so obvious in its superiority as to win the war?

    Also it reminds me of those professed atheists who turn to the 'sacred' adherents and say 'I envy you your faith.' as if the absence of the notion of the 'sacred' somehow creates a ethical void not understanding the 'sacred' is a simple authorisation tool as are the human rights notions of the twenty-first century.

    Having reflected on your views on the Q Society it is not meant as an insult but you have clearly spent your life enabling terror and major schism, you are not alone, which may be some comfort.

    "The only way the secular perspective will triumph is if we exhibit tolerance and love."

    The Iranian Left exhibited "tolerance and love." what happened? Was it that as with the 'sacred' they simply should have "tolerance and loved" harder?

    This is Alberts best work:

    "Communities (cultures) tend to be guided less than individuals by conscience and a sense of responsibility. How much misery does this fact cause mankind! It is the source of wars and every kind of oppression, which fill the earth with pain, sighs and bitterness." (Albert Einstein, 1934)

    Is Albert unjustified in inferring in time and space any number of so called moderate adherents professing "tolerance and love" will not overwrite cultural foundation codex (textual and exemplar templates) constructs of Other?

    I think your real problem is you operate in a two week time frame, cultural wars occur over centuries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "...those professed atheists who turn to the 'sacred' adherents and say 'I envy you your faith.'" Which atheist said that?

      "...you have clearly spent your life enabling terror and major schism..." Hmmm, not clear to me. Care to elaborate with actual evidence?

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS10:05 PM

      "it reminds me of those professed atheists who turn to the 'sacred' adherents and say 'I envy you your faith.' as if the absence of the notion of the 'sacred' somehow creates a ethical void"

      Not all "professed atheists" would agree. I certainly don't. I do not "envy you your faith." Nor do I operate in an "ethical void."

      The sacred *is* secular. No other "sacred" exists. The sacred is the highest of your values.

      Whether it's the marriage to your beloved, the birth and achievements of your children, a successful career, admiration of a hero or a happy fruitful life.

      Any ineffable, otherworldly "sacred" is nonsense - only the secular sacred is real.

      Delete
    3. Malcolm, I've never heard any atheist utter any such nonsense about being envious of someone else's faith - such a statement flies in the face of the atheist position. I suspect Mark Julian Smith can't prove that a single atheist has ever said any such thing.

      I think it's religion, all of them, that are an ethical and moral void - not atheism. Religion just takes its cue from what they believe their god has said. Secularists come up with the ethical and moral standards using debate, knowledge and setting standards driven by rational thought, not from folk in superstitious fear-mongering from ancient, ignorant cultures pretending to be writing on behalf of a god.

      Delete
    4. RalphH 25/046:24 AM

      “The sacred *is* secular. No other "sacred" exists.” (MalcolmS10:05 PM)

      You have a habit Malcolm of making pronouncements from on high as if they were fact and indisputable.This is another such instance.

      Who says? Malcolm? Your statement is merely a subjective belief - based on what?

      “The sacred is the highest of your values.”

      The question is, “Is there an objective value to ‘sacred’”. What one may hold to be sacred or believe to be sacred may be purely subjective. Subjective ‘highest values’ may be extremely mediocre or even profane when viewed from a higher perspective.

      “Whether it's the marriage to your beloved, the birth and achievements of your children, a successful career, admiration of a hero or a happy fruitful life.”

      These may all be worthy objectives but why would they be “sacred” unless there is some higher value at stake then one’s personal enjoyment and fulfilment?

      “Any ineffable, otherworldly "sacred" is nonsense - only the secular sacred is real.”

      That depends on what your concept of “otherworldly” is. It could be that your concept of ‘otherworldly’ is nonsense. Your ideas are completely underpinned by your assumption/belief that there is nothing other than the world of Nature. There is no real basis for such a belief.

      Delete
    5. MalcolmS8:28 AM

      So, you think my concept of the sacred may well be entirely subjective Ralph. Who cares what you think?! I could say the same thing about your entire post! It is still an inexorable, objective fact that my view of the sacred is what I have stated and that I hold nothing higher. After all, no values are higher than one's highest values. The main difference between my sacred and yours is that mine actually exists! When it comes to your highest values I'm afraid you reduce to nihilism. That's a big difference Ralph :)

      Delete
    6. Who cares what you think?!

      Lol, You do Soaky.

      Soaky soaky soak.

      The main difference between my sacred and yours is that mine actually exists!

      If your sacred "exists", then so does relfies.

      Soaky soaky soaky soak.

      lol

      Delete
    7. MalcolmS10:20 PM

      disembodiedknackers still so "really desperate for my attention"

      LOL

      Delete
    8. RalphH 28/047:01 AM

      “So, you think my concept of the sacred may well be entirely subjective Ralph. Who cares what you think?! I could say the same thing about your entire post! It is still an inexorable, objective fact that my view of the sacred is what I have stated and that I hold nothing higher. After all, no values are higher than one's highest values. The main difference between my sacred and yours is that mine actually exists! When it comes to your highest values I'm afraid you reduce to nihilism. That's a big difference Ralph :)” MalcolmS8:28 AM

      “Nihilism”? Don’t think so Malcolm. I don’t deny reality, I just assert that it is ‘bigger’ than you give it credit for - i.e. that natural, physical reality is not totality or the basis of reality. The physical is merely the outer skin of reality - it’s reality that is dependant on/comes from the inner/higher reality called spirit and life. If I’m right then you are the one denying reality - you are the one “reduc(ing) to nihilism”.

      I didn’t mean to infer that your concept of sacred/values was “entirely subjective”. Light can sometimes squeeze and filter through the chinks around the edges even though the door to spiritual enlightenment is closed. But any concept that is entirely based on sensual experience (including the sensual experience of others) is subjective.

      This doesn’t apply so much to the ‘thingness’ of the physical (it is the role of the sensual or scientific to figure that out) but, IMO, the ultimate purpose and reason for existence is of a transcendent, not a physical, nature.

      Delete
    9. MalcolmS9:07 AM

      RalphH: "“Nihilism”? Don’t think so Malcolm. I don’t deny reality, I just assert that it is ‘bigger’ than you give it credit for - i.e. that natural, physical reality is not totality or the basis of reality. The physical is merely the outer skin of reality - it’s reality that is dependant on/comes from the inner/higher reality called spirit and life. If I’m right then you are the one denying reality - you are the one “reduc(ing) to nihilism”"

      I'm sure I have no idea what you are talking about! My reference to nihilism[@ 8:28 AM] was concerning the sacred - one's highest value/s. I simply pointed out that your highest value does not exist. Nothing more than that.

      "I didn’t mean to infer that your concept of sacred/values was “entirely subjective”"

      You didn't "infer" it. You asserted it!

      ".. any concept that is entirely based on sensual experience (including the sensual experience of others) is subjective"

      On the contrary, *only* a concept based on the senses can be objective. The senses are our only contact with reality. Concepts which are *not* based on the senses are not based on reality and are simply floating abstractions, *castles in the air* and can be summarily dismissed.

      ".. the ultimate purpose and reason for existence is of a transcendent, not a physical, nature"

      Existence as such has no purpose. It simple is, has always been and always will be. There is nowhere else to "transcend." There is only existence. Unless, of course, you mean nonexistence which is the only alternative to existence :)

      For a human being the principle of purpose means conscious goal-directedness in every aspect of one's existence where choice applies.

      Delete
    10. RalphH 30/048:52 AM

      “I'm sure I have no idea what you are talking about! My reference to nihilism[@ 8:28 AM] was concerning the sacred - one's highest value/s. I simply pointed out that your highest value does not exist. Nothing more than that.” (MalcolmS9:07 AM)

      Well Malcolm, it seems to me that you see existence as one big ball that is temporal on the inside and eternal on the outside. I, on the other side, see it more as a ladder (or house of different levels - from basement to attic) with eternal existence (that which exists in and of itself) at the top and physical existence (that created stuff of which we have sensual experience) at the bottom extremity.

      When one views existence exclusively at the bottom level - which is what one does when one denies that there is anything ‘higher’ than Nature, all one sees/is aware of/is conscious of is the physical (including the mental attributes that deal solely with the natural/the temporal, time and space world) and all that is above appears not to exist.

      The higher levels are the divine (eternal existence - which is the source of everything created) and the spiritual (which is created but does not ‘die’ - as everything of the natural world does).

      “On the contrary, *only* a concept based on the senses can be objective. The senses are our only contact with reality. Concepts which are *not* based on the senses are not based on reality and are simply floating abstractions, *castles in the air* and can be summarily dismissed.”

      The senses are our contact with physical reality. Our senses cannot distinguish good from evil or right from wrong. These and the mind/spirit that becomes conscious of these things are not based in physical reality but belong to a higher reality, revealing a purpose higher than any invented human purpose.

      “Existence as such has no purpose. It simple is, has always been and always will be. There is nowhere else to "transcend." There is only existence. Unless, of course, you mean nonexistence which is the only alternative to existence :)”

      Try as you might, you cannot conflate that which “simpl(y) is”/the self-existent eternal with what is created. The fact that you say “nowhere else” shows that you have placed a ‘time and space’ restriction on your thought.

      That which “transcends” the natural/created world is purpose. If there is no purpose/no use to be served, there would be no reason to exist and therefore no existence. The fact that we have existence inescapably demonstrates that we also have purpose. Just because you can’t (or don’t want to) fathom it does not mean that it isn’t so.

      Delete
    11. MalcolmS10:49 AM

      RalphH: "..it seems to me that you see existence as one big ball that is temporal on the inside and eternal on the outside"

      No, that's quite incorrect. When I talk of existence I am not talking of space or time. I am talking of *being* or *is-ness.* Existence is aspatial[nonspatial] and eternal[out of time]. Existence simply *is* - it has no "inside" or "outside." Space exists as a *relationship* between entities[existents], e.g., the cat is on the mat. Time exists as a *relationship* between entities[existents] in motion, e.g., the Earth circles the Sun every year.

      "I, on the other side, see it more as a ladder (or house of different levels - from basement to attic) with eternal existence (that which exists in and of itself) at the top and physical existence (that created stuff of which we have sensual experience) at the bottom extremity"

      You have an amazing capacity for fantasy! Shall we call it the stairway to paradise? :)

      "When one views existence exclusively at the bottom level.."

      There you go again with your "existence is spatial" rubbish.

      "..which is what one does when one denies that there is anything ‘higher’ than Nature"

      So, now you're claiming God is spatial?? Up a ladder??

      "The senses are our contact with physical reality. Our senses cannot distinguish good from evil or right from wrong"

      Ethics is a code of values required to guide us in life. Values are derived from our observations of the world and our actions in it the basis of which comes via the senses. You don't take tablets of stone up Mt Sinai - even if you do have a ladder :)

      "These and the mind/spirit that becomes conscious of these things are not based in physical reality but belong to a higher reality, revealing a purpose higher than any invented human purpose"

      Mind/spirit is of this world. Mind/spirit is not disembodied from the physical. This world is both physical and spiritual and it is the only world.

      “Existence as such has no purpose. It simple is, has always been and always will be. There is nowhere else to "transcend." There is only existence. Unless, of course, you mean nonexistence which is the only alternative to existence :)”

      "The fact that you say “nowhere else” shows that you have placed a ‘time and space’ restriction on your thought"

      All thought that I know of takes place here and now - in ‘time and space.’

      "That which “transcends” the natural/created world is purpose"

      Nothing "transcends" the natural world, There is nowhere else.

      "If there is no purpose/no use to be served, there would be no reason to exist and therefore no existence. The fact that we have existence inescapably demonstrates that we also have purpose"

      Existence does not imply purpose. The world is full of people without purpose.

      Furthermore, any purpose you do have was *chosen* - self chosen. You did not have it at birth!

      Delete
    12. I can certainly see why you boys have such difficulty finding paid employment.
      Long term unemployment can be debilitating to a persons career prospects.
      Perhaps you should consider taking on some volunteer work to build experience?

      Delete
    13. MalcolmS1:28 PM

      Volunteer work?
      What's wrong with mentoring the terminally bewildered on blog sites?
      The thing that amazes me about retirement is how I ever found time to work!
      You are correct that human beings should always have a purpose.
      And it's not otherworldly.
      That's what I've been trying to tell Ralph.

      Delete
    14. RalphH 1/57:27 PM

      “You are correct that human beings should always have a purpose.
      And it's not otherworldly.
      That's what I've been trying to tell Ralph.” (MalcolmS1:28 PM - to spooky Billy)

      Malcolm, I think you’re getting your purposes mixed up. Are human beings the only existent that have “a purpose”/a reason for existence? A chosen purpose is a subjective idea of how one can interact with or manipulate other existents.

      Every existent has an un-chosen (by itself) purpose intrinsic in it’s existence (what you call ‘it’s nature’). The purpose of electrons is to form part of atoms. The purpose of legs is to enable locomotion, the purpose of gravitational forces is to hold thing together in harmony. Human purposes recognise intrinsic purposes and utilise them in pursuing their chosen purposes (for good or ill).

      Nothing, absolutely nothing of creation, ‘just happens’. There is no such thing as mindless existence. Existence Itself/eternal existence (from which all non-eternal/finite existence is created) is not characterised by chaotic disorder, it is not mindless even though it is of a far higher order than the finite human mind that we experience directly.

      Delete
    15. MalcolmS8:36 PM

      RalphH: "Are human beings the only existent that have “a purpose”/a reason for existence?"

      Only some people have "purpose/a reason for existence?" and that is chosen. No other entity has such a purpose - only a nature.

      "Every existent has an un-chosen (by itself) purpose intrinsic in it’s existence (what you call ‘it’s nature’)... The purpose of legs is to enable locomotion..."

      Walking is an *action* made possible to people by the use of legs. Legs are not independent, purposive entities. People are purposive and, in this case, it's walking enabled by legs.

      "There is no such thing as mindless existence"

      The overwhelming majority of entities which make up the universe are mindless. Their actions are determined by their nature.

      Delete
    16. Mal: The thing that amazes me about retirement is how I ever found time to work!

      If you think that gormlessly repeating objectivist slogans to a brick wall equates to being busy then you can’t have had much of a job. What did you do? Roll a boulder up and down a hill every day?

      You might as well go back to the old job. What you’re doing here is no more futile and useless but at least you’d be getting some exercise. Nothing you and Ralph can say to each will ever move you. Neither of you is listening. And even if you were, the thick fog of ideology around both of you would stop anything getting through.

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Kate, I am now of course overcome with curiosity. Dick

      Delete
  8. MalcolmS9:21 PM

    Terry: "If you think that gormlessly repeating objectivist slogans to a brick wall equates to being busy then you can’t have had much of a job"

    If you think that's all I do all day it's you who is gormless. Which of my statements are objectivist? You wouldn't have a clue.

    "What did you do? Roll a boulder up and down a hill every day?"

    LOL Nice try but that's one question I won't answer as you'd have too much fun with it. I'll just say it was adequate for [very]early retirement. Something you'll never manage :)

    "Nothing you and Ralph can say to each[sic] will ever move you. Neither of you is listening"

    Really? Did you mean "neither of you is thinking?" Then why do you repeatedly address your posts to me and not to Ralph?

    Bit quiet at work today is it? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MalcolmS9:24 PM

      Oops, wrong place!

      Delete
    2. Mal: Then why do you repeatedly address your posts to me and not to Ralph?

      Because you write shorter replies, although now that Ralph is about the only one left who engages with you I notice you’re getting longer.

      Delete
    3. MalcolmS4:47 AM

      Terry: ".. you write shorter replies, although now that Ralph is about the only one left who engages with you I notice you’re getting longer"

      I see... my replies are shorter... er.. but longer! Well done Einstein! Would you care to name the one who engages with more posters than me on this site? Or more frequently? No wonder you'll have to work until the day you die :)

      BTW I have just looked up my first encounter with Ralph that I have saved. It was 2005 on the Canberra Times. The posts are no shorter than today and the thread lasted forever. His arguments were worse back then. Perhaps I have taught him something :)

      Delete
    4. Mal:

      You save your exchanges with Ralph? And you’ve been at it for 9 years? Move over Sisyphus. Make way for Malyphus.

      Delete
    5. MalcolmS1:40 AM

      Terry: "You save your exchanges with Ralph?"

      No. However I saved that particular thread because Ralph was the first who had been prepared to engage me online to that extent and in such depth. His emphasis was 'religion' whereas mine was 'philosophy' but a worldview approach was what we had in common. Believe it or not there is a long tradition of philosophy in religion which you just don't get in discussion with modern, secular, sceptics. I am an atheist but have just as many disagreements with modern atheists such as Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, etc as I have with Ralph. After all, when it comes to many fundamentals of philosophy, Ralph and the New Atheists are in agreement but I part company.

      The content which I saved formed the basis of stuff which I had been discussing with Objectivists of my acquaintance and it was most helpful in clarifying my thinking on philosophic questions as it still is. You don't think I do this for Ralph's benefit do you? :)

      Delete
    6. MalcolmS1:48 AM

      BTW Terry

      Sisyphus was your phantom rock roller who had an interesting view on Greek 'hubris.' Not something Aristotle or Malyphus had much time for.

      Delete
    7. RalphH 3/053:48 PM

      “His emphasis was 'religion' whereas mine was 'philosophy' but a worldview approach was what we had in common. Believe it or not there is a long tradition of philosophy in religion which you just don't get in discussion with modern, secular, sceptics.” (MalcolmS1:40 AM)

      My understanding, Malcolm, is that philosophy grew out of/originated as an adjunct to religion. For example, Francis Bacon said, “All good moral philosophy is but the handmaid to religion.” (The Advancement of Learning)

      “Believe it or not there is a long tradition of philosophy in religion which you just don't get in discussion with modern, secular, sceptics.”

      Now that I can readily agree with but aren’t you also a “modern, secular, sceptics” - of a slightly different ilk?

      “I am an atheist but have just as many disagreements with modern atheists such as Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, etc as I have with Ralph. After all, when it comes to many fundamentals of philosophy, Ralph and the New Atheists are in agreement but I part company.”

      I can’t think of any “agreements” I have with “the New Atheists” Malcolm. Would you care to give an example?

      Delete
    8. Malyphus:

      Your antennae don’t detect irony very well, do they? For one thing, you are a perfect example of what Aristotle meant by hubris. For another, telling us that Ralph helps you shape your thinking is not a compliment to yourself but an insult.

      Delete
    9. Ralph: My understanding, Malyphus, is that philosophy grew out of/originated as an adjunct to religion.

      That’s it. Religion is the mother of philosophy. Which explains why Malyphus turns to you for guidance. Although you can’t be doing a good job, mate. Nine years on and he’s still turning.

      Delete
    10. MalcolmS8:33 AM

      RalphH: "My understanding, Malcolm, is that philosophy grew out of/originated as an adjunct to religion"

      Then you misunderstood. The first philosophers in Western history were Greek and none were especially religious. In fact many laughed at their own culture's gods, at a time when it was very dangerous to do so, regarding them as necessary only for the ignorant masses. The truth is that what you call religion "grew out of/originated" from the witch doctors of primitive savages. Philosophy consisted of the first attempt by human beings to rationally systematise their knowledge in fundamental terms.

      "Francis Bacon said, “All good moral philosophy is but the handmaid to religion.”"

      Like most intellectuals of his day he was a catholic committed to the morality of the church whilst following the reason based philosphy of the pagans in science and philosophy in the tradition of Aquinas. Eschewing reason from ethics and metaphysics had the effect of ultimately destroying philosophy and the complete collapse into the scepticism of modernity.

      “.. aren’t you also a “modern, secular, sceptic[s]”"

      Certainly not. I am 'secular' but am not a sceptic. My position is that we are capable of certainty and knowledge based on sensory evidence and our unaided reason. We require no assistance from the 'beyond.'

      “I can’t think of any “agreements” I have with “the New Atheists” Malcolm. Would you care to give an example?"

      I can give many. Like you the NA accept their moral code on faith. Like you the NA regard self-sacrifice as a human virtue. Like you the NA advocate some form of political collectivism. That should suffice for now.

      Delete
    11. MalcolmS8:54 AM

      Terry: "you are a perfect example of what Aristotle meant by hubris"

      No, I'm not.

      "Ralph helps you shape your thinking"

      No, he doesn't.

      "Religion is the mother of philosophy"

      No, it's not.

      "Malyphus turns to you for guidance"

      No, he doesn't.

      You're not going too well dopey! Why don't you put your "antennae" back into your jocks and read what I actually say. You may even learn something... er... although perhaps that's a bit of a long bow for a sceptic.

      Delete
    12. RalphH 5/58:43 AM

      “Then you misunderstood. The first philosophers in Western history were Greek and none were especially religious. In fact many laughed at their own culture's gods, at a time when it was very dangerous to do so, regarding them as necessary only for the ignorant masses.” (MalcolmS8:33 AM)

      I think that is way too simplistic an interpretation of the place of religion in Greek philosophy Malcolm

      “The truth is that what you call religion "grew out of/originated" from the witch doctors of primitive savages.”

      How easy it is to say “the truth is” when what we really mean is, ‘my opinion is’. I suggest that there is no bias for such a belief. Where did you come up with such an idea?

      My belief is that early humans were far more spiritually oriented than we are today, openly perceiving life’s purpose and their own destiny as immortal beings. What is known as ‘the fall (of man)’ describes how this ability was lost by choosing and embracing evil, thus closing off the higher reaches of their minds to good (the objective good or goodness itself) and corrupting their will in the belief that they could work out for themselves, by means of sensual experience alone, what is good.

      This is a delusion because the will directs the understanding or reason. A new, uncorrupted will/conscience needs to be formed from the truths of revelation so that sensual experience can be interpreted in the light of truth rather than in the light of selfish sensual desires. We are on the way back to recovering that perceptive ability and genuine philosophy/the use of reason in the pursuit of true wisdom is part of that process.

      “I am 'secular' but am not a sceptic. My position is that we are capable of certainty and knowledge based on sensory evidence and our unaided reason. We require no assistance from the ‘beyond.’"

      Your “position” shows you to be an arch-sceptic where God and eternal life are concerned.

      “Like you the NA accept their moral code on faith. Like you the NA regard self-sacrifice as a human virtue. Like you the NA advocate some form of political collectivism.”

      I don’t accept a “moral code on faith”. My moral code is based on the rational, testable spiritual principles taught in the Bible which command people to (and how to) loving, kind and forgiving towards each other.

      I do not “regard self-sacrifice as a human virtue”. I believe people have two possible ‘selves’ - the self they were designed to be (i.e. that achieves it’s full potential and fulfilment by choosing goodness and usefulness to others) or the self that desires and strives for one’s own happiness at the expense of others. One of these potential does have to be “sacrificed” to attain the other but one either ends up with a true self or a deluded self.

      I do not “advocate some form of political collectivism”. I have faith in any political system that allows religious freedom and is underpinned by spiritual principles.

      Delete
    13. Malyphus:

      That must have clarified your thinking quite a bit, hey? Now it’s your turn to push the boulder up the hill.

      Delete
    14. MalcolmS10:04 PM

      Terry: "Malyphus: That must have clarified your thinking quite a bit, hey? Now it’s your turn to push the boulder up the hill"

      Yeah, maybe when I have more time. Hey, be careful dopey, you're starting to catch on!

      Delete

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