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Author Topic: 10 Myths about atheism  (Read 12437 times)

Koltar

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« Reply #585 on: February 23, 2007, 04:51:00 pm »
Quote from: Mr. Analytical
That's not a priest though is it?  Aren't the lay readers the religion geeks who always get up to read the quotes out of the bible? (which by the by is something I've never understood... are people supposed to go "Oh yeah... I remember that one... that's great... PURE Jesus that one.  Almost as good as the bit with the car chase"?)


Mr. A,
 Normally the Bible Quote is supposed to have some connection to the sermon that follows. There is usually a theme to the morning if that morning's sevice isn't taking place during one of the Holiday weeks. Then the overall "thewm" is obvious.

 Lets just say ...I've been to a LOT of different church services of various  denominations over the years - even when I was an atheist.

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« Reply #586 on: February 23, 2007, 07:09:28 pm »
Quote from: Koltar

 Lets just say ...I've been to a LOT of different church services of various  denominations over the years - even when I was an atheist.


  I've only ever been to one service and it was entirely puzzling.  I went because my GF was performing as part of the choir and she didn't know it was a proper service.  It was rather surreal, people getting up and sitting down for no apparent reason, people bursting into song (no dance though) and some astonishingly weird readings from the bible.

  So are the readings supposed to be like footnotes then, suggesting that what the priest says isn't just off the top of his head but based on some particular passages?

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« Reply #587 on: February 23, 2007, 07:37:20 pm »
Southern Baptist?

The readings are generally just that: footnotes to give a little biblical credence to the sermon's topic.

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« Reply #588 on: February 24, 2007, 05:50:44 am »
Quote from: James McMurray
Southern Baptist?

The readings are generally just that: footnotes to give a little biblical credence to the sermon's topic.


  No, it was plain Church of England but it was an incredibly strange as I've never experienced it before.  I mean... people don't start singing in normal life.

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« Reply #589 on: February 24, 2007, 06:01:56 am »
The readings in an Anglican service are cyclical.  The book of Common Prayer details essentially an order of what scriptures are read on which days and such.  It's sort of like those "read the bible one section at a time for a year" calender thingies.

The sermon itself varies wildly.  There are technically set sermons, or at least guidelines for sermon topics set down, but there tends to be much leeway taken.  So the sermon might actually be on the recommended topic, it might just get mentioned (if it's a feast day for a Saint, for instance), it might tie in to one of the day's readings, or it might jsut be something largely unrelated that the pastor wanted to talk about.

Practice varies a lot, from church to church, pastor to pastor, or even day to day.

The stuff you mentioned, like the sitting up or sitting down, or the responsive reading, is mainly part of the ritual of the Mass really.  Symbolically, a lot of it has to do with what gesture is most reverent to the subject matter at that point in the mass.  I think also a part of it also just has to do with keeping the audience paying attention.

Like any ritual though, I'd imagine it did, indeed seem a wee bit odd to someone unfamiliar with it.  I had a bit of a time getting used to some of it myself.  Following along in the BCP helps a bit in terms of knowing what's going on.

I rather prefer the more formalized services though, over the usual American Protestant services.  quite frankly, they tend to be either a chaotic form of performance art, or even more utterly dull than the Anglican Mass, and even more formulaic.  First there's X time alloted to the singing, then a greeting portion, then the pastor rambles on for hours.  Some of them only even do communion on special  holidays.
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Malleus Arianorum

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« Reply #590 on: February 24, 2007, 06:03:56 am »
Quote from: Akrasia
Well, you’ll have to excuse me if I take Aquinas’s and other leading Christian philosophers’ accounts of God somewhat more seriously than yours, especially since it remains unclear what exactly your conception consists in (all you’ve done throughout this thread is whine about people’s proposed definitions of ‘omnipotence’, etc.).
Well then, without whining, let me try to briefly touch on some of the differences between triple-o and God. :)

Quote
In other words, if the conception of God presupposed by most versions of the POE argument is not the same one as the Christian God, then what is the ‘Christian God’?  If the Christian God just ends up being a really powerful (not all-power)...

Per Aquinas, God can not sin, a quality that makes God is BETTER than an 'all-powerful' (sinning) god. Additionaly one of the relevant qualities of God's omnipotence is the ability to bring good out of evil (i.e. something the triple-O can not do sufficiently.)

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morally decent (not all-good)...

God prepared hell. Not because God is 'decent' or 'nice' but because he hates evil (as a result of his goodness). God is more MERCIFUL than a 'moraly decent' god to the repentant and more JUST to the damned.  Anyway whoever Jesus is, he's not the triple-o who 'refuses to let deer burn in a forest fire.' Jesus preaches hell.

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somewhat knowledgeable (not all-knowing)...

This is a minor issue with respect to predestination. God has perfect foreknowledge and we have free will. The conceptions of god you've discussed have either one or the other but not both.

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then how exactly does he differ from someone like Zeus (aside from being lonely)?  How would such an imperfect God cohere with the claims made about God in the Bible (and especially the New Testament)?


With respect to Zeus and the PoE: Unlike Zeus, God is the Creator so you can blame 'the plan' on him.
With respect to inperfection: God is more perfect than triple-o which is why the equilvalency fails. God is more powerful (sining is weakness, bringing good out of evil is power). God is more good (he is Just and Merciful). God is more knowledgeable (he has perfect forknowledge of beings with free will.) Certainly the PoE shows that a different God does not exist, but that's a moot point for a Catholic like me or Aquinas.

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In any case, the POE argument is only one of the many reasons that I have...
Agreed.

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I have no idea what you’re trying to say here (well, aside from the fact that you’re trying to insult me somehow).
I didn't mean to offer insult.
By 'blind spot' I meant that you seem oblivious. You believe that my viewpoint is unique in both senses: that it is unique in the context of Catholic Faith and that it is unique within this thread. I.e. You are 'oblivious' to Catholic Faith and to objections raised up thread by me and others.  

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How can something be an ‘intrinsic part of my personhood’ if I cannot detect it?   This is like saying ‘psionic powers’ are an intrinsic part of my personhood.  Please show me where I can find this ‘intrinsic part’ of myself.  I’d like to see it.
From what I've gathered of your personal story, you were at one time devout, later you rejected your religious upbringing  experienced genuine 'grief' even though you 'knew' your decision was more rational. Whatever you call it (delusion, revelation) that mechanism is what I'm refering to and it seems to me that you have experienced it first hand. It's not that you can't detect it, it's that you've decided to ignore it.

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If you have some objective way to distinguish between ‘revelation’ and ‘wishful thinking’ I’d love to see it.
Revelation is true and good things come from it. Wishful thinking is only right by accident so it craps out after a while. In practice, we wait and see how revelations hold up over time.

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Your feelings of ‘love’ obviously exist.  In the case of your ‘love’ for God, though, it’s something you feel towards a fictional entity.  But carry on, if you like.  I’m not trying to take away your right to feel such things for fictional entities.
I know you have other examples besides the PoE. Even though you've given up on debating PoE with me, it's just a battle, not the war. :)

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No, I don’t understand where you’re getting this at all.  Where did I say that ‘rational justification’ is based on ‘supernatural experiences’?  Please.
You said you hadn't had any, which why I said 'emotional and supernatural experiences or lack thereof.'

   Akrasia flashback:
It has an 'emotional' component, of course. But if by 'spiritual' you mean something supernatural in nature, well then I know that I've never experienced that.

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Moreover, while I concede that -- when engaging in deliberation about ‘what to do’ in particular circumstances -- one’s emotions can play an important role (given the kind of biological creatures that we are), I most definitely do not think that when forming beliefs about the nature of the universe we should rely on anything other than evidence and rational justification.
(I don't understand the distinction: isn't deciding what shall we believe an example of deciding what shall we do?) Anyway it seems that you're excluding evidence against your case while including handy emotions like "suffering" and supernatural experiences like "haven't had any so far."
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Akrasia

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« Reply #591 on: February 24, 2007, 08:23:35 am »
Quote from: malleus arianorum
Well then, without whining, let me try to briefly touch on some of the differences between triple-o and God. :)


Thanks for the clarifications.  Ultimately, though, I still fail to see how some (suitably modified) version of the POE does not still apply to the Christian God (so understood) – certainly Aquinas, et al., thought it did.  

Quote from: malleus arianorum

 God prepared hell. Not because God is 'decent' or 'nice' but because he hates evil (as a result of his goodness). God is more MERCIFUL than a 'moraly decent' god to the repentant and more JUST to the damned.  Anyway whoever Jesus is, he's not the triple-o who 'refuses to let deer burn in a forest fire.' Jesus preaches hell.


If the suffering in hell is justified (i.e. punishment for 'moral evil'), then the POE argument is just fine.

(But, wholly independent of the POE argument, the very concept of hell is morally repugnant.   It seems absurd that a ‘good’ God would condemn people to an eternity of torture for simply not believing in him (often for sincerely held reasons).  Such a God is a horrific, odious, and strangely vain tyrant [in comparison to hell, God’s commands to commit genocide against the Amalekites, etc., seem like rather small stuff].  But this is a whole separate debate …)

Quote from: malleus arianorum

This is a minor issue with respect to predestination. God has perfect foreknowledge and we have free will. The conceptions of god you've discussed have either one or the other but not both.


Not at all!  The question of ‘free will’ and God’s foreknowledge have nothing to do with the POE.  The POE argument (as I explained earlier a few times) can, and typically does, make a distinction between ‘moral evil’ (evil caused by free will) and ‘natural evil’ (suffering unrelated to free will).

Of course it is a separate philosophical question how God’s foreknowledge and (libertarian) free will are compatible – a question for which I have yet to encounter a satisfying theistic answer.   But that’s an entirely separate debate.

Quote from: malleus arianorum

 With respect to inperfection: God is more perfect than triple-o which is why the equilvalency fails. God is more powerful (sining is weakness, bringing good out of evil is power). God is more good (he is Just and Merciful). God is more knowledgeable (he has perfect forknowledge of beings with free will.)  


Again, everything you say here does not seem to be a problem for the POE argument (or at least a suitably modified version of the argument).
 
Quote from: malleus arianorum

By 'blind spot' I meant that you seem oblivious.  …. since you believe that you are 'oblivious' to Catholic Faith and to objections raised up thread.  


This still doesn’t make any sense to me.  I believe that I’m oblivious?

Quote from: malleus arianorum

 From what I've gathered of your personal story, you were at one time devout, later you rejected your religious upbringing  experienced genuine 'grief' even though you 'knew' your decision was more rational. Whatever you call it (delusion, revelation) that mechanism is what I'm refering to and it seems to me that you have experienced it first hand. It's not that you can't detect it, it's that you've decided to ignore it.


The ‘mechanism’ in question is rather straightforward: it’s a natural psychological reaction to abandoning a set of commitments that were once very important to me.  

Just as I was depressed when I was seven years old and found out that Santa Claus didn’t exist (and the Easter Bunny, etc.), so too I was depressed when I finally concluded that God (or at least the Christian God) did not exist.  Of course, since my Christian commitments were a lot more important to me when I was 18 than my ‘Santa Claus’ commitments were to me when I was 7, breaking from Christianity was a much greater psychological event.  But that is a difference in degree, not kind.

There’s nothing more to it!  To try to impose a sense of the ‘supernatural’ onto perfectly natural psychological processes is wholly unnecessary (and, in my opinion, foolish).

Moreover, since people who ‘break’ from other religions (e.g. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) also experience this kind of psychological reaction, but those religions are false (at least if one thinks Catholicism is true), then it can’t be the case that the phenomena in question reflects some uniform ‘supernatural’ experience.

Quote from: malleus arianorum

 Revelation is true and good things come from it. Wishful thinking is only right by accident so it craps out after a while. In practice, we wait and see how revelations hold up over time.


Well, given that people who belong to different religions seem to have radically different (indeed, incompatible) ‘revelations’ – indeed, people who belong to the same religion often have conflicting ‘revelations’ – you’ll forgive me if I’m sceptical about the ability of persons to objectively judge “how revelations hold up over time”.   I suspect that these ‘revelations’ are somehow insulated psychologically from possibly being falsified by actual experiences.

Quote from: malleus arianorum
 
(I don't understand the distinction: isn't deciding what shall we believe an example of deciding what shall we do?)


When we form beliefs about the nature of the universe (e.g. ‘does phlogiston exist?’, etc.) we should rely on evidence and rational arguments alone.  However, when in particular situations and trying to decide ‘what to do’, often we need to rely on our emotions, as they can convey information to us (e.g. that certain risks or dangers exist) that are not immediately  apparent to our deliberative faculties.

Quote from: malleus arianorum
 
Anyway it seems that you're excluding evidence against your case while including handy emotions like "suffering" and supernatural experiences like "haven't had any so far."


I’m not sure what you mean by this.  My position is that, with respect to any particular phenomena, if we have one explanation that relies only on naturalistic processes and entities, and another explanation that relies on both naturalistic and supernaturalistic processes and entities, then we should opt for the former.  This is especially correct given that there is no ‘evidence’ for the supernatural.
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John Morrow

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« Reply #592 on: February 24, 2007, 11:29:15 am »
Quote from: Mr. Analytical
I mean... people don't start singing in normal life.


You mean your life isn't like a musical? :D
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« Reply #593 on: February 26, 2007, 05:22:34 am »
Quote from: Mr. Analytical
That's not a priest though is it?  Aren't the lay readers the religion geeks who always get up to read the quotes out of the bible? (which by the by is something I've never understood... are people supposed to go "Oh yeah... I remember that one... that's great... PURE Jesus that one.  Almost as good as the bit with the car chase"?)


It's not a priest, but it does seem something which he enjoys, given I don't attend that's the limit of my knowledge really.

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« Reply #594 on: February 26, 2007, 05:38:18 am »
Quote from: Balbinus
It's not a priest, but it does seem something which he enjoys, given I don't attend that's the limit of my knowledge really.


  Sounds like a plot hook to me.  Should he die in mysterious circumstances and leave you all of his papers I strongly suggest you burn the books.

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« Reply #595 on: February 26, 2007, 05:44:29 am »
Quote from: Balbinus
It's not a priest, but it does seem something which he enjoys, given I don't attend that's the limit of my knowledge really.
The lay readers read the day's scripture selections in front of the congregation.  Generally there is a segment from the Old Testament, a Psalm, and then one from the New Testament.

There is also a selection from one of the Gospels, but the lay readers don't read those, this duty is performed by the priest or one of the deacons.
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« Reply #596 on: February 26, 2007, 05:55:02 am »
Quote from: Mr. Analytical
Sounds like a plot hook to me.  Should he die in mysterious circumstances and leave you all of his papers I strongly suggest you burn the books.


An old landlord of mine had served on a CofE committee investigating claims of the paranormal for internal purposes (I think the review happened back in the 1980s IIRC), he let me read their case files which were extensive and rather interesting actually.  An awful lot on hauntings, exorcisms, black magic and stuff like that.

Come to think of it, given I hang out on rpg sites possibly I should have mentioned before that I've read internal CofE reports on the supernatural and the church's response to it.  Fascinating stuff.

IIRC, they thought most hauntings appeared to be place memories, only one showed any evidence of actual intelligence on the ghost's part and that was inconclusive.  Exorcisms were much more common than one would imagine, mostly of places but sometimes of people.  They didn't have a lot of time for magic IIRC, seemed to think it was morally dangerous but largely superstition, a view my landlord departed from them on (it was his particular area of interest).

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« Reply #597 on: February 26, 2007, 06:20:33 am »
Quote from: Balbinus

IIRC, they thought most hauntings appeared to be place memories, only one showed any evidence of actual intelligence on the ghost's part and that was inconclusive.  Exorcisms were much more common than one would imagine, mostly of places but sometimes of people.  They didn't have a lot of time for magic IIRC, seemed to think it was morally dangerous but largely superstition, a view my landlord departed from them on (it was his particular area of interest).


  That type of stuff is invariably fantastic.  It's like Mark Kermode's book about the exorcist when he talks about how obviously it's not demonic possession but that it could be mental illness combined with telekenesis.  Of course... because moving things with your mind is a much more grown up belief than demons.

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« Reply #598 on: February 26, 2007, 06:39:42 am »
Quote from: Mr. Analytical
That type of stuff is invariably fantastic.  It's like Mark Kermode's book about the exorcist when he talks about how obviously it's not demonic possession but that it could be mental illness combined with telekenesis.  Of course... because moving things with your mind is a much more grown up belief than demons.


Not as irrational as it sounds that actually, as it involves fewer hypotheses.

For the sake of argument, let's say you witness telekinetic activity next to someone and are personally convinced it is tk, and not fraud.  You now have one hypothesis, tk exists.

If you posit possession, you now need two hypotheses, one that tk exists and two that non-physical entities capable of controlling people exist.  Alternatively, you could just explain the inexplicable bit of objects flying around with your tk hypothesis but then explain the odd behaviour of the connected person within our current understanding.

Put another way, evidence of one impossible thing does not make it rational to start supposing other impossible things.

The point with the demon is that once you have witnessed the tk and are persuaded it is real then you have tk occurring whether you assume a demonic presence or not, the only question is whether the tk is being caused by the person in front of you or by some other entity you cannot directly perceive.  It's not really rational to then as a result multiply your hypotheses to assume the additional entity.

That said, Mark Kermode's a film critic, in the film she's possessed by the devil, deal with it Mark.  Inventing explanations beyond the text of the film is I think an exercise for internet geeks, not serious critics.

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« Reply #599 on: February 26, 2007, 10:55:15 am »
Quote from: Balbinus
Come to think of it, given I hang out on rpg sites possibly I should have mentioned before that I've read internal CofE reports on the supernatural and the church's response to it.  Fascinating stuff.


This will probably be a writeup of those reports.  It's a very interesting read