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God as Hypothetical
Posted: 05 October 2006 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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Thomas said:

I got it! Just as I signed off a while ago it occured to me what I had experienced here as objections to logical proofs of God’s existence.

The problem goes deeper than logic—it’s that you cannot bear the thought of God ... even as a hypothetical.

It may be that you are referring to my refusal to accept your challenge, the one in which you wanted me to repeat a theist mantra. If you had asked me to consider the words without reciting them, if you had asked me to evaluate the words without the lie of pretending to believe them true, I would not have objected. You twist the words in suggesting that I cannot bear the thought of God even as a hypothetical. There was nothing hypothetical about that mantra or about reciting it. Perhaps you could see that if someone had asked you recite the same mantra, replacing God with Jupiter or Shiva. That’s a mere hypothetical. I would not ask you to mouth words that you do not believe. You also seem to think that I believe your mantra to be false. I do not believe your mantra to be true, which is not the same thing as believing it to be false.

I have given a lot of thought to God traditions, especially to what the various sects of Christianity teach. I grew up with a fair number of Jews and Buddhists, but the majority of people I knew were Christian. Here are some of the results I have achieved in assuming that your God exists. I find Christians describing

a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones;

who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one;

who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short;

who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it;

who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body;

who mouths justice and invented hell—mouths mercy and invented hell—mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell;

who mouths morals to other people and has none himself;

who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all;

who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself;

and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!...

http://reader.homestead.com/mysterious.html

Now I know that you think sects of Christianity other than your own are corrupt, teaching error. They think the same of you. You think they have misled me. They think that you would mislead me if you could. Having escaped or recovered, I stand outside Christianity. From here, I look at its multiplicity of contradictory creeds. Logic forces me to the conclusion that, in theory one of the creeds might be true, but it cannot be that two of them are true are since they contradict each other. Then I look at what leads people to accept one or another of the creeds. It is wishful thinking, mere sentimentality, mental inertial, and over-wrought respect for ecclesiastic authority and scripture pertaining to alleged divine revelation. Members of the various sects all use these same methods but reach contradictory and irreconcilable beliefs. That tells me that the methods themselves are unreliable. There is no adequate reason to think even one of the sects is correct in its creed.

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Posted: 06 October 2006 03:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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[quote author=“Ted Shepherd”]Thomas said:

I got it! Just as I signed off a while ago it occurred to me what I had experienced here as objections to logical proofs of God’s existence.

The problem goes deeper than logic—it’s that you cannot bear the thought of God ... even as a hypothetical.

It may be that you are referring to my refusal to accept your challenge, the one in which you wanted me to repeat a theist mantra. If you had asked me to consider the words without reciting them, if you had asked me to evaluate the words without the lie of pretending to believe them true, I would not have objected.

Ted, I’m a moralist.  Trying a thought is not a lie.

My theory at this point is to avoid the intricacies of various arguments, all of which I’m familiar with but have seen they have no appeal here for various reasons.  They ARE logical but I understand that is not enough.  I understand that, I do.  So how does one come to believe God is true in a personal sense, as does the bulk of humanity?

It has an experiential base that is not a “feeling” though it may be an impression or intuition.  There is a KIND of reason that people use to apprehend deity.

“Mantra” may not have been the proper way to present my experiment but I’d hate to suggest you drop acid!!!!

I just have a very strong “feeling” that something has got to give in this almost stubborn insistence that there is no God.  It’s a mere naturalist supposition that for most people melts in the face of logical proofs but for some reason doesn’t with the formal atheism found here.

I’ve tried personal appeal, testimony, the evidence of universal consent to religion ...

I’m not asking you to pretend or lie, Ted.  I’m asking you to give God another chance within your own consciousness.  He would be quite comfortable there for he is not ashamed of us, his creatures.

We may be uncomfortable with him ... but hat’s not the point.  I suppose if we are going to accept the idea of God we also have to accept the reality of him.  I can bear witness that it has not been a bed of roses.

You twist the words in suggesting that I cannot bear the thought of God even as a hypothetical. There was nothing hypothetical about that mantra or about reciting it. Perhaps you could see that if someone had asked you recite the same mantra, replacing God with Jupiter or Shiva. That’s a mere hypothetical. I would not ask you to mouth words that you do not believe. You also seem to think that I believe your mantra to be false. I do not believe your mantra to be true, which is not the same thing as believing it to be false.

I agree.  I don’t mean to twist anything.  I’m trying to understand things just like you.

I have given a lot of thought to God traditions, especially to what the various sects of Christianity teach. I grew up with a fair number of Jews and Buddhists, but the majority of people I knew were Christian. Here are some of the results I have achieved in assuming that your God exists. I find Christians describing

a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones;

who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one;

who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short;

who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it;

who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body;

who mouths justice and invented hell—mouths mercy and invented hell—mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell;

who mouths morals to other people and has none himself;

who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all;

who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself;

and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!...

http://reader.homestead.com/mysterious.html

For those things above that are true assertions there are answers.  For those that are false and prejudicial I suggest that you do more investigation.  I agree with Micah Newman that there is a considerable Straw Man built up by Harris and other atheists.  Newman is right that there is considerable ignorance about history and theology in Harris’ works.  He does come across as an opportunist in the wake of 9-11, saying all religionists are the same.  It’s just cheap, intellectually shallow and, in many ways, dumb.

Now I know that you think sects of Christianity other than your own are corrupt, teaching error. They think the same of you. You think they have misled me. They think that you would mislead me if you could. Having escaped or recovered, I stand outside Christianity. From here, I look at its multiplicity of contradictory creeds. Logic forces me to the conclusion that, in theory one of the creeds might be true, but it cannot be that two of them are true are since they contradict each other. Then I look at what leads people to accept one or another of the creeds. It is wishful thinking, mere sentimentality, mental inertial, and over-wrought respect for ecclesiastic authority and scripture pertaining to alleged divine revelation. Members of the various sects all use these same methods but reach contradictory and irreconcilable beliefs. That tells me that the methods themselves are unreliable. There is no adequate reason to think even one of the sects is correct in its creed.

Ted, may I use this quote in my work?  I promise to correct the typos and give you the chance to amend and expand if you want.

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Posted: 06 October 2006 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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Quote:
Now I know that you think sects of Christianity other than your own are corrupt, teaching error. They think the same of you. You think they have misled me. They think that you would mislead me if you could. Having escaped or recovered, I stand outside Christianity. From here, I look at its multiplicity of contradictory creeds. Logic forces me to the conclusion that, in theory one of the creeds might be true, but it cannot be that two of them are true are since they contradict each other. Then I look at what leads people to accept one or another of the creeds. It is wishful thinking, mere sentimentality, mental inertial, and over-wrought respect for ecclesiastic authority and scripture pertaining to alleged divine revelation. Members of the various sects all use these same methods but reach contradictory and irreconcilable beliefs. That tells me that the methods themselves are unreliable. There is no adequate reason to think even one of the sects is correct in its creed.

Ted, may I use this quote in my work? I promise to correct the typos and give you the chance to amend and expand if you want.

By all means, Reverend, and with my best wishes. Quote me on that if you like. It might lead to somewhat better understanding between believers and nonbelievers. Even if your purpose is only to pillory my thought, I still support you quoting me.  I ran that passage through Word’s spell checker and grammar checker. I found one misspelled word—inertial where I intended inertia, a stray hypen in overwrought and a stray are. I broke one long sentence into three. I added the word unintentionally to make clear that I am not accusing you of insincerity. Fixing those produces this version:

Now I know that you think sects of Christianity other than your own are corrupt, teaching error. They think the same of you. You think they have misled me. They think that you would (unintentionally) mislead me if you could. Having escaped or recovered, I stand outside Christianity. From here, I look at its multiplicity of contradictory creeds. Logic forces me to two conclusions: In theory, one of the creeds might be true. It cannot be that two of them are true since they contradict each other. Then I look at what leads people to accept one or another of the creeds. It is wishful thinking, mere sentimentality, mental inertia, and overwrought respect for ecclesiastic authority and scripture pertaining to alleged divine revelation. Members of the various sects all use these same methods but reach contradictory and irreconcilable beliefs. That tells me that the methods themselves are unreliable. There is no adequate reason to think even one of the sects is correct in its creed.

I wasn’t happy with my style in writing so many long sentences. The style checker Word said that this passage is understandable at the eighth or ninth grade level, so I’ll let it stand. I would be happy to answer questions about what I wrote and clarify or extend on request. Its brevity—165 words—suits my purposes. I intend a conversational rather than academic tone.

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Posted: 06 October 2006 08:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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Thanks, Ted.

I’m not out to pillory you.  You’ll probably see the result at some point.

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Posted: 06 October 2006 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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[quote author=“Thomas”]Thanks, Ted.

I’m not out to pillory you.  You’ll probably see the result at some point.

In the fullness of time.

Oops. Too much teleology. Thomas means in prints of peace. In print.

And thanks, Ted. It was an eloquent set of words.

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