Theism and its strong points

Should I change my mind about theism?

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Re: Theism and its strong points

#41  Postby Teuton » Mar 07, 2012 1:51 am

DefineGod wrote:However, I can see that you have a very rational, logical point of view, as demonstrated by your deconstruction of "God above God."


Indeed. I really don't want to have my precious little mind fogged by mystical stuff or spiritual woo-woo.

DefineGod wrote:
Without accepting the Tillich's "ultimate concern" definition, (which you rather strongly denied) How does one describe or characterize the behavior of "Teuton the atheist." using the dead man's test. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applied_behavior_analysis#Behavior What governs your self determined patterns of choice?


:scratch:
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#42  Postby Teuton » Mar 07, 2012 2:07 am

DefineGod wrote:
No trouble at all, I agree that it is very important to understand definitions before discussion. I think some of the earlier posts may make it a bit clearer what I mean.


"God is a symbol. When referring to God I am referring to an abstraction.
God is a symbol for all that exists."


In other words, you're using the name "God" to refer to Being/Existence: God = Being/Existence.
Given this definition of yours, I am not an atheist because I do believe in the being of Being/the existence of Existence—conceived of either as the beings/existents, i.e. as the sum/totality of all beings/existents, with Being/Existence being many things, or as "the One", "the Substance" Spinoza's, with all other beings/existents being ontologically reducible to attributes, modes, or "partial aspects" of that One/Substance.
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#43  Postby Beatrice » Mar 07, 2012 2:15 am

:coffee: bookmarked
Phew... for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself.....
"GOD" is an acronym which stands for "GOD Over Djinn".
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#44  Postby DefineGod » Mar 07, 2012 3:08 am

I do believe these are excellent pieces of evidence.

Teuton wrote:"If someone seemingly tells us that God exists, and then goes on to tell us that 'God' denotes the evolutionary-historical process that has brought us into being, and if we ourselves think that this evolutionary-historical process is far from deserving the name he gives it, then we should count him as an atheist. We may report that he says the words 'God exists', but we would be wrong to say that he says that God exists. (Or at least we would be wrong to say it without immediate qualification.) He believes in something that he thinks deserves the name 'God'. But if we are right and he is wrong about what it takes to deserve the name, then he does not believe in anything that would in fact deserve that name, and we would be wrong to say otherwise."

(Lewis, David. "Noneism or Allism." In: David Lewis, Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology, 152-163. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. p. 153)

In response to Mr. Lewis, I have been called worse things. :dance: Calling me an atheist does not make it so although it does seem to point to evidence that theists and atheists can be quite similar ontologically yet very different in other areas. (Other areas being, behavior and faith.)

"Compare the foolish suggestion that all of us at least agree that God exists, although we disagree about His nature: some say He's a supernatural person, some say He's the cosmos in all its glory, some say He's the triumphal march of history, ... . Given that much disagreement about 'His' nature, there's nothing we all believe in."

(Lewis, David. On the Plurality of Worlds. Oxford: Blackwell, 1986. p. 140)

In a second more comical response to Mr. Lewis, I would say compare the foolish suggestion that all us of least agree that George Bush exists, although we disagree about his nature: some would say hes a stupid-natural person, some says hes loves his cosmos in all their glory, some say hes the triumphal march of history. Just a little humor there.

"In a western context we speak of God. And it is possible to use this familiar term with the stipulation that it points to the ultimate reality without however defining it, and so without prejudging whether that reality is personal or non-personal or even such that this duality does not apply. But in practice the long-established associations of the word as referring to an infinite divine person are generally too strong for this stipulation to be effective. And so we resort to such terms as 'the Ultimate', 'Ultimate Reality', 'Absolute Reality', 'the Real', 'the Transcendent', 'the Divine', 'the Holy', 'the Eternal', 'the Infinite' — with or without capitals."

(Hick, John. The Fifth Dimension: An Exploration of the Spiritual Realm. Oxford: Oneworld, 2004. p. 9)

I fully agree with Hick that, in order to avoid confusion and misunderstanding, the name "God" should only be used in the traditional context of theism qua personalistic psychotheism, i.e. the belief in the existence of at least one deity that is a personal soul or spirit, or a spiritual person, or a spiritual substance, as the philosophers say. (A spiritual substance is a totally immaterial entity with mental attributes, mainly (self-)consciousness, but without any physical attributes.)

Alas, using one of the alternative expressions as suggested by Hick above isn't helpful, because phrases such as "Ultimate Reality" and "the Divine" can be arbitrarily used to refer to anything. Should materialists who believe that "Ultimate Reality"/"the Eternal"/"the Infinite" is an eternal and infinite physical quantum field start calling themselves theists? I really don't think so. (Well, they could call themselves "hylotheists", but that would be very silly.)


Ah the meat portion!
I would first ask if you could post a source for personalistic psychotheism. I could only find http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psychotheism Where God is spirit or personal "spirit" translated from Latin "spiritus" from Greek "πνεῦμα" meaning breath among other things http://studybible.info/strongs/G4151 Ah, Mr. Hick it seems has similar problems with defining terms! I agree that there exist historical problems with using the word God in this particular way. Centuries of church corruption did exist and color the way people view the word and what the word represents.
http://www.hermes-press.com/DAtruth.htm and another quick and more balanced read http://the-orb.net/non_spec/missteps/ch11.html Hylotheism eh? I like it, seems like a good word and can't be much worse than theophobia.
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/theophobia


Here is a link to a Zen Christian source.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/55058908/handokai
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#45  Postby DefineGod » Mar 07, 2012 3:16 am

Teuton wrote:
DefineGod wrote:
No trouble at all, I agree that it is very important to understand definitions before discussion. I think some of the earlier posts may make it a bit clearer what I mean.


"God is a symbol. When referring to God I am referring to an abstraction.
God is a symbol for all that exists."


In other words, you're using the name "God" to refer to Being/Existence: God = Being/Existence.
Given this definition of yours, I am not an atheist because I do believe in the being of Being/the existence of Existence—conceived of either as the beings/existents, i.e. as the sum/totality of all beings/existents, with Being/Existence being many things, or as "the One", "the Substance" Spinoza's, with all other beings/existents being ontologically reducible to attributes, modes, or "partial aspects" of that One/Substance.


That seems like a fair and accurate description of what we have been talking about. I think that in this particular case, one can be an atheist or a theist and have quite similar metaphysics/ontogeny. Using Tillich's definition of faith, the subject/choice of what to put faith into will be where atheists and theists will differ. Choosing the type of religious practice or non-practice, is up to the individual. What do you think?
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#46  Postby amkerman » Mar 07, 2012 3:45 am

I ask you who, WHO, can successfully cite more sources of authority as to definitions of certain concepts? The more authority you cite, the more likely I am to be swayed (I just adore arguing from falacies, don't you)... You cite a Tillich? I raise you a Neistche and a Hegel. You come at me with Berkeley? Well, I am ready with Plato in my back pocket. Heidegger? I respond quick with Kant and, dare I say, some Hobbes?

:popcorn:

But me, in honesty, I'll take Socrates and just ask questions. Or, even better, just tell me what you personally believe, no need to cite authority for your beliefs. I'll tell you mine too, and we can just hash it out, all the while thinking for ourselves :yuk:.

I agree with defining the terms of our arguments, but not with arguing that each other's definitions of words aren't correct. That's a sure-fire way to make sure we get nowhere fast, and are left there... talking about nothing, and talking about nothing as if it exists. Or, we are left arguing about the definitions, and never even get off the ground (which it appears has happened here).

As a behavioral scientist, which is what I think what you said you were by trade @DefineGod, do you ever deal with belief formation or belief destruction? If so, do you have any good books that you could recommend on the subject in particular.

It seems to be a theme on this forum. Some theist offers their personal definition of God, and some atheist, who doesn't believe that God exists, responds in turn by saying that definition of God is wrong, God IS something else... :nono: as if being non-dogmatic was a sin (I can hear it now, "what does he mean by sin?! :shock: ?!")

I can't help but get involved in the levity.

Great stuff all around.

Carry on... (slinks away to the background from whence he came, waiting in the wings to chime in again at a later point in time)

:cheers:
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#47  Postby Teuton » Mar 07, 2012 3:58 am

DefineGod wrote:
I would first ask if you could post a source for personalistic psychotheism.


"How is the claim that there is a God to be understood? I suggest—provisionally—in this way: there exists necessarily and eternally a person essentially bodiless, omnipresent, creator and sustainer of any universe there may be, perfectly free, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and a source of moral obligation.

(Swinburne, Richard. The Christian God. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. p. 125)

"By a theist I understand a man who believes that there is a God. By a 'God' he understands something like a 'person without a body (i.e. a spirit) who is eternal, free, able to do anything, knows everything, is perfectly good, is the proper object of human worship and obedience, the creator and sustainer of the universe'. Christians, Jews, and Muslims are all in the above sense theists."

(Swinburne, Richard. The Coherence of Theism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977. p. 1)

"That God is a person, yet one without a body, seems the most elementary claim of theism."

(Swinburne, Richard. The Coherence of Theism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977. p. 101)

"[T]heism is the belief that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing perfectly good immaterial person who has created the world, has created human beings ‘in his own image,’ and to whom we owe worship, obedience and allegiance. …God, according to theistic belief, is a person: a being who has knowledge, affection (likes and dislikes), and executive will, and who can act on his beliefs in order to achieve his ends."

(Plantinga, Alvin. "Religion and Science." In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2010: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/religion-science)

DefineGod wrote:
Here is a link to a Zen Christian source.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/55058908/handokai


I glanced through the first pages and came upon this (p. 6):

"When we speak of three constituents, where is God in all this? Let’s take the matter of the third constituent first. Actually, it is indicated in the English word be-ing. This “ing” expresses action or movement. Be-ing is dynamic. It is moving. There is only being when the formless Source moves into form, into act. With-out this movement, there is no being. Thus movement is the third constituent or component of being."

I disagree. The verb "to be" is not a dynamic verb but a stative one, being (as such) is not an activity or process but a state, and being is not the same as becoming or doing. For if there is nothing, nothing can become or do anything. Where there is no being, there isn't any becoming or doing either.
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#48  Postby DefineGod » Mar 07, 2012 4:11 am

amkerman wrote:I ask you who, WHO, can successfully cite more sources of authority as to definitions of certain concepts? The more authority you cite, the more likely I am to be swayed (I just adore arguing from falacies, don't you)... You cite a Tillich? I raise you a Neistche and a Hegel. You come at me with Berkeley? Well, I am ready with Plato in my back pocket. Heidegger? I respond quick with Kant and, dare I say, some Hobbes?

:popcorn:

But me, in honesty, I'll take Socrates and just ask questions. Or, even better, just tell me what you personally believe, no need to cite authority for your beliefs. I'll tell you mine too, and we can just hash it out, all the while thinking for ourselves :yuk:.

I agree with defining the terms of our arguments, but not with arguing that each other's definitions of words aren't correct. That's a sure-fire way to make sure we get nowhere fast, and are left there... talking about nothing, and talking about nothing as if it exists. Or, we are left arguing about the definitions, and never even get off the ground (which it appears has happened here).

As a behavioral scientist, which is what I think what you said you were by trade @[color=#CC0000][b]DefineGod,[/b][/color] do you ever deal with belief formation or belief destruction? If so, do you have any good books that you could recommend on the subject in particular.

It seems to be a theme on this forum. Some theist offers their personal definition of God, and some atheist, who doesn't believe that God exists, responds in turn by saying that definition of God is wrong, God IS something else... :nono: as if being non-dogmatic was a sin (I can hear it now, "what does he mean by sin?! :shock: ?!")

I can't help but get involved in the levity.

Great stuff all around.

Carry on... (slinks away to the background from whence he came, waiting in the wings to chime in again at a later point in time)

:cheers:


@amkerman
HAHA, that is pretty funny. :lol: I'm all in! Good to hear from you!

Thanks for the interlude, it does seem as though we have hit a some sort of plateau doesn't it? I try and cite so that others can see where I am coming, (I hope it doesn't seem I am doing it simply as an authority argument) yikes! :doh: I want to share what I have encountered. I want to get others involved in their own critical thought, whichever way it currently leans.

Here are links for two good general introduction non-text books concerning behavior science and its manifestations.
http://www.amazon.com/Coercion-Fallout-Revised-Murray-Sidman/dp/1888830018/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1
http://www.amazon.com/About-Behaviorism-B-F-Skinner/dp/0394716183

As for the particular subject of belief formation and destruction, I am unfamiliar with those terms. What do you mean exactly? Do you mean in terms of applied psychological in therapeutic conditions or do you want something more technical? Maybe I really could be helpful? (for a change? :crazy: )

Be sure to pass the popcorn; the picture just started. (Bring me some chocolate wafers when you slink back again!) :lol:
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#49  Postby Teuton » Mar 07, 2012 4:15 am

DefineGod wrote:I think that in this particular case, one can be an atheist or a theist and have quite similar metaphysics/ontogeny. Using Tillich's definition of faith, the subject/choice of what to put faith into will be where atheists and theists will differ. Choosing the type of religious practice or non-practice, is up to the individual. What do you think?


I think that, first and foremost, theists and antitheists (positive atheists) differ with regard to what kinds of beings there are: divine beings, divine spiritual beings, nondivine spiritual beings (angels, demons, human souls).
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#50  Postby DefineGod » Mar 07, 2012 4:52 am

Teuton wrote:
DefineGod wrote:
I would first ask if you could post a source for personalistic psychotheism.


"How is the claim that there is a God to be understood? I suggest—provisionally—in this way: there exists necessarily and eternally a person essentially bodiless, omnipresent, creator and sustainer of any universe there may be, perfectly free, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and a source of moral obligation.

(Swinburne, Richard. The Christian God. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. p. 125)

"By a theist I understand a man who believes that there is a God. By a 'God' he understands something like a 'person without a body (i.e. a spirit) who is eternal, free, able to do anything, knows everything, is perfectly good, is the proper object of human worship and obedience, the creator and sustainer of the universe'. Christians, Jews, and Muslims are all in the above sense theists."

(Swinburne, Richard. The Coherence of Theism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977. p. 1)

"That God is a person, yet one without a body, seems the most elementary claim of theism."

(Swinburne, Richard. The Coherence of Theism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977. p. 101)

"[T]heism is the belief that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing perfectly good immaterial person who has created the world, has created human beings ‘in his own image,’ and to whom we owe worship, obedience and allegiance. …God, according to theistic belief, is a person: a being who has knowledge, affection (likes and dislikes), and executive will, and who can act on his beliefs in order to achieve his ends."

(Plantinga, Alvin. "Religion and Science." In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2010: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/religion-science)

Thanks for the sources!

This then remains: Remember to retire into this little territory of thy own, and above all do not distract or strain thyself, but be free, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a mortal. But among the things readiest to thy hand to which thou shalt turn, let there be these, which are two. One is that things do not touch the soul, for they are external and remain immovable; but our perturbations come only from the opinion which is within. The other is that all these things, which thou seest, change immediately and will no longer be; and constantly bear in mind how many of these changes thou hast already witnessed. The universe is transformation: life is opinion. http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.4.four.html Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. (Its all good!)

Mr. Plantinga uses "owe worship, obedience and allegiance." I believe atheists share this pattern, yet put their faith in science, a less encompassing term IMO. Whereas "affection," "executive will," and "personality" sound like conceptions of consciousness. What do you think?

DefineGod wrote:
Here is a link to a Zen Christian source.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/55058908/handokai


I glanced through the first pages and came upon this (p. 6):

"When we speak of three constituents, where is God in all this? Let’s take the matter of the third constituent first. Actually, it is indicated in the English word be-ing. This “ing” expresses action or movement. Be-ing is dynamic. It is moving. There is only being when the formless Source moves into form, into act. With-out this movement, there is no being. Thus movement is the third constituent or component of being."

I disagree. The verb "to be" is not a dynamic verb but a stative one, being (as such) is not an activity or process but a state, and being is not the same as becoming or doing. For if there is nothing, nothing can become or do anything. Where there is no being, there isn't any becoming or doing either.


I think its a pretty darn interesting book.I like to go back and re-read sections from time to time. Another good one is "Living Buddha,Living Christ" by Thich Nhat Hanh. http://www.amazon.com/Living-Buddha-Christ-Thich-Nhat/dp/1573220183
Little bit of an easier read than "the Handokai."

If I understand, you disagree with Fr. Hand on his view of the verb "to be." "Being" is a state one must be in (statically) to "be" I am not sure how else to respond. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_quoting_out_of_context
Perhaps reading his more in depth explanation on "the trinity" on page 13 would be helpful? I know it was for me! (This stuff is heavy)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPkBG-mymAE[/youtube]

Thanks again for the post! Giving me some reading to do! :whistle:
Last edited by DefineGod on Mar 08, 2012 2:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#51  Postby John P. M. » Mar 07, 2012 5:11 am

DefineGod wrote:
John P. M. wrote:The Christian God, divorced from the Bible? Or would you use some excerpts from there to describe this God?

You define God as "a symbol for all that exists.". I assume even so, that this God actually is intelligent on some level, or something that somehow has some directed and purposeful influence on humans, and maybe even a plan, and maybe even for our afterlife?

I'll have to admit right off the bat that I won't be too involved in this thread; I just don't have the stamina anymore. But I'll try.


Hello Mr. John post meridiem,

I'm sorry you are feeling unwell. Perhaps this will help. http://www.askmen.com/dating/love_tip/sextip17.html


Well, since you felt it necessary for no good reason to start off by resorting to this kind of 'humorous' baiting and personalization, I see that I once again have had the right hunch and can safely leave you alone.
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#52  Postby DefineGod » Mar 07, 2012 5:14 am

Teuton wrote:
DefineGod wrote:I think that in this particular case, one can be an atheist or a theist and have quite similar metaphysics/ontogeny. Using Tillich's definition of faith, the subject/choice of what to put faith into will be where atheists and theists will differ. Choosing the type of religious practice or non-practice, is up to the individual. What do you think?


I think that, first and foremost, theists and antitheists (positive atheists) differ with regard to what kinds of beings there are: divine beings, divine spiritual beings, nondivine spiritual beings (angels, demons, human souls).



Hmm, I don't know about other theists. I think of angels, demigods, nymphs, greek gods or what have you as manifestations of God using specific anthropomorphic attributes. For instance an angel of destruction like Abaddon would be a metaphoric representation of its ascribed charicteristics.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abaddon Similar to how Apollo, "God of music, poetry, plague, oracles, sun, medicine, light and knowledge" would be portrayed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo
Is there disagreement here. yes. I would have to agree that there is disagreement. I can't imagine one claiming that all theists believe that their are/have been supernatural physical persons who embodied superhuman characteristics without evidence, like muscles or very very pretty hair. lol 8-) What do you think?
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#53  Postby epepke » Mar 07, 2012 5:35 am

DefineGod wrote:I consider myself a theist. Can you convince or otherwise talk me out of it? :-D ...


God is a symbol for all that exists. (Pantheism, Panentheism)


I can't talk you out of saying you are whatever you want to, but we can work on some words. Theism is usually used to mean belief in a personal god. Pantheists, panentheists, and even deists don't qualify. Whether they qualify as atheists is another story. I know one atheist who calls himself a pantheist/atheist, and I have no problem with that classification. I also knew someone else who said he was a pantheist, but he behaved and spoke just like an atheist, and he did it quite well.

Theism and deism have traditionally been defined as different from each other. Deism is, to me, a stronger claim than pantheism or panentheism, so I really see no way to claim that they are theism without a contradiction, word salad, or Humpty Dumptyism.
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#54  Postby amkerman » Mar 07, 2012 5:44 am

I'm a panentheist. And catholic... well just as to my belief in God, not with regards to the church, though I respect it. So, it seems, you may be mistaken. What does it mean to be panentheistic to you epeke? How does "non-personal" fit into your definition of panentheism?
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#55  Postby DefineGod » Mar 07, 2012 5:47 am

@John P. M.


J-
I'll have to admit right off the bat that I won't be too involved in this thread; I just don't have the stamina anymore. But I'll try.


DG-
I'm sorry you are feeling unwell. Perhaps this will help. http://www.askmen.com/dating/love_tip/sextip17.html


J- Well, since you felt it necessary for no good reason to start off by resorting to this kind of 'humorous' baiting and personalization, I see that I once again have had the right hunch and can safely leave you alone.


I am sorry my attempt to be humorous failed so ruinously and was taken so personally. :sorry: I sincerely apologize to you. I have no ill will nor did I have any intention to bait you outside of the topic. However, I would encourage you to be careful when you quote. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_quoting_out_of_context I see no reason to be rude. The choice to walk away from the conversation belongs to you. (Although I do appreciate you taking the time to post.)

Here is the rest of my response so that other readers can have proper context. I continue to await your response.

You sound as if you are tired of the argument. To be clear right away, I don't believe the Bible to be magical. I would say it best for myself to repudiate the view that the Bible is all inclusive of everything God is. I find it very unlikely seeing that there are many topics which are better understood since the writing of the Word. So rather than divorce, I would be more inclined to use "trial separation" for the time being. (Divorce can be such a terrible ordeal!) I find many aspects of the Bible to be accurate to my faith including many of those that describe God. I would be happy to discuss. Many examples include vengeful, wrathful, angry, loving etc. I am aware of quite a few antediluvian arguments about contradictions in the Bible. (How can God be all Good and kill people?)
I'm sorry John, I feel a bit lost on this next part. Are you asking a metaphysical question? Do you mean divine intelligence? Intelligence can be used to mean so many things. Can you operationalize it for me? I think this goes back to an earlier post that asks if God has a consciousnesses. What do you think? I don't see a conflict and so am inclined to say no, but I've been wrong before. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyB5oR2xBhg
Do you believe in destiny? Hope to hear from you!

Thanks for your input regarding my behavior. I hope we can do better this time 'round as you surely must be less offended now. Take Care.
Last edited by DefineGod on Mar 08, 2012 3:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#56  Postby Agrippina » Mar 07, 2012 6:00 am

DefineGod wrote:Hi Aggie! Thank you for responding to my post.
I guess the proper thing to do would be to reply to your replies.

My dictionary defines "faith" as"
strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.


What is the difference between strong belief and average belief? The "dubious" psychological definition of apprehension is included here, meaning a "mode of consciousness that is simply aware" So are we saying, in essence, spiritual awareness?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apprehension_%28understanding%29
Using this definition, can we agree that faith will be the belief in God based on spiritual awareness, rather than proof or evidence?

The words "mental abstraction" mean a "conception" which my dictionary defines as:

the way in which something is perceived or regarded


So from your explanation you see your "strong belief in God" as a "strong belief in something that is perceived or regarded as "God" which most people define as the God of the Old Testament. Am I correct in assuming that you believe in this concept of God?


I do agree with this first statement. However, I am not most people. I cannot let you assume that I believe in a concept of the God of the Old Testament without first letting you describe what that generally entails. I can say that through my first post I was previously attempting to avoid, at least initially the "behavior" of God without first coming to an agreement (or at least an understanding) on characteristics of the "being" who's behavior we are discussing.

Well seeing that I don't believe he exists or ever did exist, I'll leave the describing to you. :grin:


Now to the meat portion! As I understand it Atheism is the the lack of belief, or in my argument, the rejection of faith in God, or gods whereas Theism is the belief in God or faith in God. Having attempted to read through some of the posts and garner interpretations of atheism/theism argument, I have concluded that much of the argument is a lack of mutually defined terms.


Because there is no definite set of rules for atheism, and note, it is spelt with a lower case "a" there is also no clear definition of what atheism is. Each person who discards the existence of gods, and who does not accept the Bible as anything other than an anthology of old writings, has their own personal definition of what their atheism means. As I've described it, that is my worldview. As far as I am concerned, there is no evidence for the existence of any supernatural being of any sort, and that includes the God of the Old Testament, Allah, Jehovah, El, Zoroaster, Zeus, Mithras, Thor, Odin, or any other incarnation of an unseen deity. And because I reject the existence of these beings, I therefore also reject the idea that the person on who the new Testament may be based was anything other than an itinerant teacher during the early part of the first century CE. As for other gods, the people who worshipped them, made effigies of them, these have existed and do exist today, I have a collection of Egyptian ones in my study. They have no magical powers, they are merely little dolls on stands.

You are correct that there is a "lack of mutually defined terms." Trying to get atheists to agree to a set system would be the same as trying to standardize the behavior of cats.

I appoligize regarding my specific ignorance on atheism, (with a lower case "a" :dopey:) I am happy to debate your personal view on atheism. Since I cannot claim to speak with authority on other people's beliefs, I assume you are making the same point here. I do not disagree with you that the Bible is in fact an anthology. (Is that really disputed here?)
I do see you use the words "deity" and "worshiped."
So I will ask do you use deity as synonymous with godhead? http://www.thefreedictionary.com/godhead
I use worship as the act of showing reverence http://www.thefreedictionary.com/worship
Cats have a special place in all our hearts.
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120302105741AASehwx

I use "deity" as shorthand for the things people worship, whether that be mythological "old men in the sky" or even cats. :)

Theism is faith in God or ultimate concern in the the symbol for all that exists.
Atheism then becomes, lack of being ultimately concerned about the symbol for all that exists.


No, not true, atheism is merely a blanket term used by theists to describe people who don't believe in the supernatural.
A person who "practices" atheism must have, by definition, faith in something else besides God. In my experience, it has most often been the case that faith is put into good government, "humanity," or some form of enlightened Marxism. (Do Atheist become theists temporarily to pontificate upon what the term God includes?) I sure don't know!

Again, not true.
Personally, I only have faith in things I can interact with using my five senses. When I see storm clouds, I have reasonable faith that it will rain. When someone tells me a house is haunted, I will sleep in it at midnight, without any fear that ghosts will attack me. When someone tells me that a few drops of arnica in a bottle of water, or lanolin, will heal some or other disease, I don't accept it, simply because there is no evidence that arnica has any magical healing powers. It is derived from the daisy flower and supposedly heals bruises. I know that bruises are healed by the action of the workings of the liver, and that they are healed by the actions of my blood functions, I prefer to accept what I've learnt from science.


I have read some older posts, Can I accurately state that you believe that atheism cannot exist without theism? (Because you need theists to define what you are/are not.) I will apply that when you say five senses, you include all sensory organs/abilities that are currently possessed by humans. I will also assume that you include measurement systems used in science which are imperceptible otherwise. I am a behavioral scientist by trade. My definition of God includes science. We are created in HIS image (through the process of evolution.) :dance:
I see no real conflict within this paragraph.

Except that as has been already pointed out, evolution is a natural process, whereas creation is magic. The two don't equal each other. I don't believe in magic. I also don't "believe" in evolution, I accept it as the most logical and reasonable explanation for the existence of life on this planet. Who know, life on another planet may have happened in a completely different way. I don't know that life exists elsewhere, I would imagine it should but I don't work on suppositions, imaginations, and thumb-sucking. When someone shows evidence of life elsewhere, that would be great. Otherwise, as far as I've been told, this one is where life evolved.

Arguments that atheism is not a system of beliefs and merely the rejection of God, gods. etc is, of course, valid. However, I will assume that many people will choose not use the above definition of God when describing themselves as atheists as it implies that they reject existence. Please if you reject the above definition give a new one before arguing against it. :-)


How can I reject existence, when I can feel the computer on my lap, see the TV in front of me and feel the cool air from the air conditioner on my skin, I exist, this time and day exists and I can take a photograph as evidence of my existence. There is no such evidence for God, therefore I do not accept his existence.

I also urge that if you are merely rejecting the old man/intelligent designer/benevolent actor/supernatural anthropomorphism or judgment giver designations of god, that you give other reasons for rejecting this definition other than "GOD IS DEAD" or "Man made God" or "religion poisons those who believe, man!" I am aware that this definition of God as a symbol of "that which exists" precludes many atheistic visions of what "God" is.


Unfortunately man did make all gods. As a long-time student of history and having qualifications in the discipline of Ancient History, I can show you some evidence for this creation of God if you want it. However, I can start by referring you to the Old Testament. That tome contains a plethora of evidence for the creation of gods by men, if you would only read it critically from cover to cover.


I agree, It would be silly to reject existence. (although I believe there have been some interesting ideas regarding this) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platonism#Philosophy
As for evidence of God- DefineGod. That is what its about eh?!
I see nothing particularly unfortunate about man made gods.
Man has been able to produce quite a few mahrvelous things. https://slapchop.com/
I don't claim to have read the bible from cover to cover, I think there is some rather droll historical "begetations" in some sections. I prefer to be more flexible. :drunk:

I suggest that you make the effort. I accepted the challenge in 2010 and I've read parts of it more that twice since then, I'm working on analyzing it, just taking a break from that at the moment. But if you want to argue from authority, take the trouble to read it.

I do not wish to debate specific behavior of either side, merely the abstraction of the arguments. I see the same behavioral arguments everywhere I go. I am excited to see some intelligence that, for at least the time being, avoid behavioral mini treatises.

Unfortunately you will find a lot of very intelligent arguments against God here. I suggest you cover yourself in a thick skin and learn from the big brains on this forum. If after a few weeks of vigorous debate you are at least convinced that we don't agree on even what the word "atheism" means, you will have learned something.

I again don't see anything unfortunate about intelligence especially when it will help us to formulate a greater understanding of truth. I sincerely thank you for you post and look forward to continued open discussion.


I don't think there are any ultimate "truths" I do think it's all relative. And I'll explain my reasoning so you can see what I'm saying. If I stand in my garden facing someone else, and we both look behind each other, one of us will see the Indian Ocean, the other will see green sugar cane fields. We are both telling the truth when we say "I can see the Indian Ocean/green cane fields" because we are looking from our own perspective. Hence, relative truth.

When I use the word "unfortunately" I'm referring to the inevitable slanging matches that always result of this sort of discussion. Someone will come in with insults about atheists being dishonest or something, and someone else will come with theists being idiots for believing in whatever it is they happen to believe in. Which is why I said put on a thick skin and brace yourself, and you will learn. Don't be put off by the swearing, slanging, snideness. I like talking to intelligent people who take the trouble to do some research. :cheers:
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#57  Postby aban57 » Mar 07, 2012 9:10 am

DefineGod wrote:Define pray.


Like i said, I'm very pragmatic. So to me, praying is the action of speaking to an entity, asking him/her/it something. Food, love, money, anything. Or thanking him for what he/she/it supposedly provided you. Is that what you do in your "meditations" ?

DefineGod wrote:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza/#GodNat[/url] Under the section 2.1 God and Nature, there is a section on how belief in miracles is more likely ignorance of cause. A more consistent view of God would claim that "miracles" or exceptions to laws is less, rather than more, congruent to an omnipresent being.


I was more speaking about Christian miracles, like the virgin birth, Jesus' resurrection, the flood, etc.

DefineGod wrote:
What do you mean by believe in the Bible? Are you trying to ask me if I take literalistic interpretation? I have spend some time with Genesis. Its fun stuff when you look at it through my lens. :crazy:
{Hey self!, who you calling crazy! }


yes, it's what i meant :) All christians and catholics on this planet have different percentage of literalistic interpretation of the bible. What's your percentage ? From what i read from you so far I don't think you believe it's entirely true. So what do you think is true in the bible ?

DefineGod wrote:
I am wrong. I don't mean to imply atheism is set of of beliefs, practices or actions. What I should have said is: atheism is an abstract term used to describe what someone is not. I should have gone on to say, that everyone behaves. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applied_behavior_analysis#Behavior Using the dead man's test, atheism is not behavior. Since as you magnanimously granted my use of the word "faith" (without necessarily accepting its meaning of course) I can only hope you will extend this to my question. What do atheists have faith in?


Aggie already answered that question, so I'll just quote her :

Agrippina wrote:
Trying to get atheists to agree to a set system would be the same as trying to standardize the behavior of cats.



DefineGod wrote:
This is a very good point! Why is it important at all? I live my life, you live yours. You find comfort in religion, I find it the opium of the masses. There are so many sides to this question. I don't want to limit this as a "What's the meaning of life?" type question. As a pragmatic man, would you build your own car? of course not! Why build my own religion when there are so many good ones to choose from? (I drive a biodiesel Mercedes, because I like the smell of popcorn. :popcorn:) I see the importance of your question. I understand symbols to exist all around us. I simply choose God as the one I "worship" (read-respect)


Ok, fair enough, but that doesn't really answer my question. If god is just a symbol, why do you worship him ?
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#58  Postby DefineGod » Mar 07, 2012 10:00 am


I don't think there are any ultimate "truths" I do think it's all relative. And I'll explain my reasoning so you can see what I'm saying. If I stand in my garden facing someone else, and we both look behind each other, one of us will see the Indian Ocean, the other will see green sugar cane fields. We are both telling the truth when we say "I can see the Indian Ocean/green cane fields" because we are looking from our own perspective. Hence, relative truth.

When I use the word "unfortunately" I'm referring to the inevitable slanging matches that always result of this sort of discussion. Someone will come in with insults about atheists being dishonest or something, and someone else will come with theists being idiots for believing in whatever it is they happen to believe in. Which is why I said put on a thick skin and brace yourself, and you will learn. Don't be put off by the swearing, slanging, snideness. I like talking to intelligent people who take the trouble to do some research. :cheers:


I would agree with you on this point if we were to say that relative perception is based upon relative circumstances. I will say that metaphysically there is an objective reality. This point is central to my argument. So I must be saying that relative truth is to be founded on metaphysical "ultimate" truth. (This is what we will call it for now.) I like polite people, atheists included, I just want to understand them better.
It is nice to have a good conversation. Thanks Aggie
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#59  Postby DefineGod » Mar 07, 2012 11:16 am

aban57 wrote:
DefineGod wrote:Define pray.


Like i said, I'm very pragmatic. So to me, praying is the action of speaking to an entity, asking him/her/it something. Food, love, money, anything. Or thanking him for what he/she/it supposedly provided you. Is that what you do in your "meditations" ?

It is my understanding that some Christians are taught to pray this way, yes. As a child, I was taught to start with an opening, followed by asking, thanking, and closing. As I became older I excogitated what purpose could be behind this ritual as I learned more complex prayer structures. I surmise that begging, pleading, or groveling, thanking, isn't necessarily the best way for all, rather awareness of what might be of foremost importance or primacy in self, family, or community. This "meditation" is a process of "apprehension" as Aggie helped to define here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apprehension_%28understanding%29 So really, pragmatically, I would say prayer has a number of uses.

A modified version of Colossians 1:9-14 is my favorite prayer. I find much beauty in these words. Of course, you have to find a translation that fits you. The one I have tattooed on my forehead, I mean, the version I keep in my mobile/cell/handy is

"And we pray this, that you may live a life worthy of the Lord: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God and being strengthened with all power according to this glorious might so you may endure with patience and joy. We give thanks in knowing that it is through faith which we will inherit the kingdom of light.

good stuff I say. :clap:


DefineGod wrote:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza/#GodNat[/url] Under the section 2.1 God and Nature, there is a section on how belief in miracles is more likely ignorance of cause. A more consistent view of God would claim that "miracles" or exceptions to laws is less, rather than more, congruent to an omnipresent being.


I was more speaking about Christian miracles, like the virgin birth, Jesus' resurrection, the flood, etc.


Okey Dokey. Personally, I don't see a difference between Christian miracles, and any other miracles especially if you are using supernatural explanation rather than metaphor or allegory. I am not sure if Mr. Spinoza felt the same. Although I think we both agree that the representation of God is better when it is consistently following rules, rather than intervening "willy nilly," or was it "humpty dumpty." I forget. :sherlock:

DefineGod wrote:
What do you mean by believe in the Bible? Are you trying to ask me if I take literalistic interpretation? I have spend some time with Genesis. Its fun stuff when you look at it through my lens. :crazy:
{Hey self!, who you calling crazy! }


yes, it's what i meant :) All christians and catholics on this planet have different percentage of literalistic interpretation of the bible. What's your percentage ? From what i read from you so far I don't think you believe it's entirely true. So what do you think is true in the bible ?


Hehe, is that like asking me what my sign is? I'm an Aquaaaarius, and 23 and 1/2 percent creationist. Ah ha!, I think there are many truths in the Bible, but I consider them relative truth if behavioral, or absolute truth if metaphysical. Sometimes its hard to find the difference. Sometimes I have trouble with translation. Sometimes I find better sources. When doing Bible study or reading one must either assimilate or accommodate. I find constant assimilation necessary. Here is a source explaining the difference. http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/assimacc.htm

DefineGod wrote:
I am wrong. I don't mean to imply atheism is set of of beliefs, practices or actions. What I should have said is: atheism is an abstract term used to describe what someone is not. I should have gone on to say, that everyone behaves. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applied_behavior_analysis#Behavior Using the dead man's test, atheism is not behavior. Since as you magnanimously granted my use of the word "faith" (without necessarily accepting its meaning of course) I can only hope you will extend this to my question. What do atheists have faith in?


Aggie already answered that question, so I'll just quote her :

Agrippina wrote:
Trying to get atheists to agree to a set system would be the same as trying to standardize the behavior of cats.



DefineGod wrote:
This is a very good point! Why is it important at all? I live my life, you live yours. You find comfort in religion, I find it the opium of the masses. There are so many sides to this question. I don't want to limit this as a "What's the meaning of life?" type question. As a pragmatic man, would you build your own car? of course not! Why build my own religion when there are so many good ones to choose from? (I drive a biodiesel Mercedes, because I like the smell of popcorn. :popcorn:) I see the importance of your question. I understand symbols to exist all around us. I simply choose God as the one I "worship" (read-respect)


Ok, fair enough, but that doesn't really answer my question. If god is just a symbol, why do you worship him ?



Why not? you find something better? I can accommodate if I need to. Which part do you have a problem with? The word "worship?" Since I don't subscribe to a fear or guilt based doctrine, worship is an act of love. I feel that many people have experienced this word but would call it something like "the feeling of respect for the qualities of the everlasting" perhaps. That's not a very good definition is it? :think: Symbols are very powerful things. Here is a great source on Math and how it might apply to certain concepts of God. http://everythingforever.com/st_math.htm
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Re: Theism and its strong points

#60  Postby DefineGod » Mar 07, 2012 11:40 am

@epepke


epepke wrote:
DefineGod wrote:I consider myself a theist. Can you convince or otherwise talk me out of it? :-D ...


God is a symbol for all that exists. (Pantheism, Panentheism)


I can't talk you out of saying you are whatever you want to, but we can work on some words. Theism is usually used to mean belief in a personal god. Pantheists, panentheists, and even deists don't qualify. Whether they qualify as atheists is another story. I know one atheist who calls himself a pantheist/atheist, and I have no problem with that classification. I also knew someone else who said he was a pantheist, but he behaved and spoke just like an atheist, and he did it quite well.

Theism and deism have traditionally been defined as different from each other. Deism is, to me, a stronger claim than pantheism or panentheism, so I really see no way to claim that they are theism without a contradiction, word salad, or Humpty Dumptyism.


Tell me more about what you mean by a personal god. I would like to have a definition help me understand if that is something I can apply to my viewpoint. (or if I do already without having used that specific label.) I know a guy who some people call "maurice." :whistle: Remember, there is no definition as to what an atheist believes or how he behaves concerning his lack of belief. (Is that what I learned?) Although I don't know. Could you tell me what an atheist might have faith in? How does one behave like an atheist? I am still under the impression (as it has been posited to me here) that being an atheist is unrelated to what one (or any) atheist does do. I'm not looking for a tell all. Just a case study on one atheist. Not out to get anybody. I just am so darn curious. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_0ava_MSSw[/youtube]
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