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Author Topic: Persecution of Atheists
Pete at Home
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"It seems that perhaps you're missing this because you don't realize that you're positing an absolute point from which all values are determined."

I am unaware of any point from which all values are determined, and to my knowledge, you're the only one on this thread to posit such a point.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"That's even goofier, sp, since polytheist by definition refers to multiple Gods, and I only believe in one God. "

One demigod, per the omnipotence/absolutism test. The concept of a demigod implies one of four things: either there are other gods to which the demigod is inferior (polytheism); there are no other gods ('monodemitheism'); there are other demigods and they are none of them greater than your demigod; or there is only the one demigod, who is neither omnipotent nor omniscient, but mighty dang smart and powerful.

One of these may well be Mormon doctrine (I believe it would be the first choice but I don't know if the matter is doctrinally settled or not), but that is not the common Xtian belief.

However, I note that the prevailing convention that God is omni this-or-that is rife with paradoxes that the common Xtian senses without necessarily articulating. Indeed, many or perhaps most of them don't *really* believe in an omnipotent god.

But most of them aren't particularly interested in pondering the paradoxes of omnipotence and omniscience. They are most of them quite copmfortable with a God who is all-powerful and all-knowing, who believes God made everything.

These are the common Xtians to which, I believe, Dawkins refers, not the theological hair splitters who counting dancing angels on the head of a pin (that you can hear drop in the middle of a hushed Mormon Tabernacle, one of the coolest buildings ever).

The common Xtians who say 'thy will be done o Lord' and, however sincere they are or aren't at the moment of utterance, or however much they may recant or refute or obstruct the divine will that may be done, do believe that the lord can pretty much do whatever He wants.

"Funny, I don't recall saying that God is inaccessible to me."

The subjective reality of God: can you read His mind too?

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Please quote where I claimed that "all value must determined by the relation of the subject/event to that absolute point
This is what positing God amounts to--at least the traditional western God.

This is not necessarily the case for any version of God, but it is the case for any postulation which defines morality (or physical creation in a more abstract sense) in terms of "what is right in the eyes of God" i.e. the position of traditional western theism.

Now you may not hold to traditional western theism, but your insistence that I quote you to substantiate these comments seems to be a product of conflation of the issues you and I personally disagree upon and the larger issue at which my comments are aimed, which is the conflict between theism and atheism.

For the next issue, let me isolate the context:

Me: My personal view is that anything that ain't omnipotent just ain't God.

Pete: ...so if I say I know God exists but that I doubt that he's omnipotent, would that make me an atheist by your account?

Me: I've said before that that the being you claim to know exists seems to quite clearly be a demigod. If asked what kind of "ist" you would be by my account, I'd say a polytheist.

Pete: That's even goofier, sp, since polytheist by definition refers to multiple Gods, and I only believe in one God.

Me: I'm reminded of all the times you've suggested that if we plied believers in omnipotence with a little cross-examination, we'd find that they didn't *really* believe in an omnipotent God.

Pete: Your point being?

My answer: My point being that if we examine your beliefs, I think that we'll find that it is quite accurate to state that you believe in multiple gods (I could be wrong--since I don't know what you believe in, but I assume that you believe in mormon theology, and I do know mormon theology--and mormon theology is clearly polytheistic).

Not only does mormon theology posit three distinct deities as completely separate intelligences/spirits/entities (two of whom are physical in nature) but all three are subject to a higher authority (clearly demigods), which is vaguely defined as eternal laws. This alone is sufficient warrant for the claim that such a theology is polytheistic, but it doesn't end there. The mormon theology also claims that God the father historically went through a trial period of mortality himself--which implies that he was once subject to a separate and distinct god himself. The further claim exists that there are "worlds without end" with the definite implication that there are deities without end.

Polytheism.

Perhaps I'm mistaken and you don't believe in mormon theology, in which case perhaps you aren't a polytheist, but you did ask for my "account," and by my accounting you're a polytheist. [Smile]

quote:
Funny, I don't recall saying that God is inaccessible to me.
Kenmeer already pointed out your fallacy here, but in case you missed it, the point is that you don't have access to the subjective reality of God. You may have access to God as an object, but not the subjective reality of God--unless of course, you're claiming to actually be God.
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Adam Lassek
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quote:
Pete said:
How about calling religious people irrational and child abusers?

I see you're backpedaling from the "locked up" statement. Okay, let's talk child abuse.

quote:
...I received a letter from an American woman in her forties who had been brought up Roman Catholic. At the age of seven, she told me, two unpleasant things had happened to her. She was sexually abused by her parish priest in his car. And, around the same time, a little schoolfriend of hers, who tragically died, went to hell because she was a Protestant. Or so my correspondent had been lead to believe by the official doctrine of her parents' church. Her view as a mature adult was that, of these two examples of Roman Catholic child abuse, the one physical and the other mental, the second was by far the worst. She wrote:
quote:
Being fondled by the priest simply left the impression (from the mind of a 7 year old) as 'yucky' while the memory of my friend going to hell was one of cold, immeasurable fear. I never lost sleep because of the priest -- but I spent many a night being terrified that the people I loved would go to Hell. It gave me nightmares.
Admittedly, the sexual fondling she suffered in the priest's car was relatively mild compared with, say, the pain and disgust of a sodomized alter boy. And nowadays the Catholic Church is said not to make so much of hell as it once did. But the example shows that it is at least possible for psychological abuse of children to outclass physical.
(pages 317-318)
quote:
Another of my television interviewees was Pastor Keenan Roberts, from the same state of Colorado as Pastor Ted. Pastor Robert's particular brand of nuttiness takes the form of what he calls Hell Houses. A Hell House is a place where children are brought, by their parents or their Christian schools, to be scared witless over what might happen to them after they die. Actors play out fearsome tableaux of particular 'sins' like abortion and homosexuality, with a scarlet-clad devil in gloating attendance. These are a prelude to the piece de resistance, Hell Itself, complete with realistic sulphurous smell of burning brimstone and the agonized screams of the forever damned.

After watching a rehearsal, in which the devil was suitably diabolical in the hammed-up style of a villian of Victorian melodrama, I interviewed Pastor Roberts in the presence of his cast. He told me that the optimum age for a child to visit a Hell House is twelve. This shocked me somewhat, and I asked him whether it would worry him if a twelve-year-old child had nightmares after one of his performances. He replied, presumably honestly:
quote:
I would rather for them to understand that Hell is a place that they absolutely do not want to go. I would rather reach them with that message at twelve than to not reach them with that message and have them live a life of sin and never find the Lord Jesus Christ. And if they end up having nightmares, as a result of experiencing this, I think there's a higher good that would ultimately be achieved and accomplished in their life than simply having nightmares.
I suppose that, if you really and truly believed what Pastor Roberts says he believes, you would feel it right to intimidate children too.
...
Whatever they believe hell is actually like, all these hell-fire enthusiasts seem to share the gloating Schaudenfreude and complacency of these who know they are among the saved, well conveyed by that foremost among theologians, St Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica: 'That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell.' Nice man.

(pages 319-321)
quote:
After my television documentary on religion, among the many letters I received was this, from an obviously bright and honest woman:
quote:
I went to Catholic school from the age of five, and was indoctrinated by nuns who wielded straps, sticks and canes. During my teens I read Darwin, and what he said about evolution made such a lot of sense to the logical part of my mind. However, I've gone through life suffering much conflict and a deep down fear of hell fire which gets triggered quite frequently. I've had some psychotherapy which has enabled me to work through some of my earlier problems but can't seem to overcome this deep fear.


(page 321)

What Dawkins is describing goes far beyond merely teaching your children what you believe to be true. This is coercion and mental abuse.

As for calling religious people irrational? I didn't realize that was even controversial. Belief without evidence is fundamentally irrational. People base their opinions, politics, publicly deny scientific evidence and structure their entire lives upon a book which is littered with demonstrable falsehoods. This is not rational. It doesn't mean they're incapable of reason, but their core beliefs are frequently made for bad reasons: emotion, tradition, indoctrination, fear, coercion. I can't pretend to know the reasons why all people believe, but I do know that the empirical evidence for their belief is insufficient.

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seekingprometheus
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Me: "It seems that perhaps you're missing this because you don't realize that you're positing an absolute point from which all values are determined."

Pete: "I am unaware of any point from which all values are determined, and to my knowledge, you're the only one on this thread to posit such a point."

Traditional western theism determines the value of all events in terms of "God's" values. Good and Evil. By this logic something good for God is Good regardless of whether or not it's good for me. (In fact, I don't doubt that many if not most theists might contend that nothing that is good for God can be defined as bad for me).

This really isn't a difficult point to understand, and I don't believe that such an assertion is really that controversial. In my opinion, the quibbling which has gone on around such an assertion is simply chaff tossed up to obfuscate the issue.

If you really want to disagree with this position Pete, you're going to have to argue that what is good for God is not necessarily good. (And I'll happily agree).

[ March 06, 2007, 12:45 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
There's nothing inherently rational or irrational about religious beliefs. Some religious beliefs are rational, some are not, depending on the belief and on the facts available to the believer.
Irrational is a negative term which encompasses everything and anything that is not contained by the term rational.

If it's not rational, it's irrational.

Let's get to a specific belief--is it rational to believe that "God" will protect you from harm?

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kenmeer livermaile
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Don't know why I listed 4 kinds of demigods when 2 of the 4 are identical. Tired brain.
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seekingprometheus
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Hmmm.

I just noticed...

At least part of the rationalism/irrationalism theme seems to have been transplanted from the "In God We Trust" thread. I don't know how much of that was my conflation of the threads and how much of that was natural and relevant to our discussion here.

Sorry if I've created confusion--but I do think that this theme is relevant to this discussion--if we can get back from the tangents to the original issue.

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DaveS
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If you'll let me use a little more rope to conflate even more, we have a daisy chain tying various themes/memes together.

1. God exists
..1a. People believe that God exists
2. God's reveals himself in the bible
..2a. People believe that the bible is God's word
3. The bible doesn't provide empirical evidence for God's existence
..3a. People believe in the authority and authenticity of the bible
4. Belief in God is therefore subjective
..4a. People who believe in God are going beyond reason (applying a "leap of faith")
5. People are biologically predisposed to believe in God
..5a. People believe that God exists.

The circularity is the connection between God exists and our genetic makeup that makes us biologically predisposed to believe that God exists. It's not that we are irrational if we believe that God exists, but that belief in God is the ultimate expression of predeterminism. It's not insulting to suggest that people who believe that God exists can't help themselves. It's those of us who don't believe that are, if you will, lacking something, and that something is a biological OEM component. I.e., perhaps we're not more reasonable for not believing, and they're not less reasonable for believing. Further, God is truly in believers, just as they claim.

The conflation here (on Ornery) is that all threads about the existence of God are about the nature of belief, not actually about the fact of God's existence. Thus, questions from one thread naturally bleed over into others, because there is only One True Thread [Smile] .

[Edited to add: All of this is conjecture and just my opinion. Not meaning to offend.]

[ March 06, 2007, 11:10 AM: Message edited by: DaveS ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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There is no thread but thread and Dave S is its messenger.

Imagine the sound of an old dial-up modem as a muzzein's prayer.

[ March 06, 2007, 07:22 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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