Jewish Currents Review of Letter to a Christian Nation and other atheist books

 
Ecurb Noselrub
 
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Ecurb Noselrub
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04 April 2008 13:06
 
[quote author=“Carstonio”]I don’t want an exclusively Western version of anything - bad enough that we gave the world monotheism.

Uh, methinks you have been hanging around the “blame America first” crowd just a wee bit too long. Monotheism was around a long time before anyone ever conceived of something called “the West.” It existed in ancient Egypt (reign of Akhenaten (died circa 1336 BCE), and was practiced in Mesopotamia and Canaan around that time or even before, whether you believe the OT or not. (Unless, of course, Al Gore invented it around the time he invented the Internet.)

 
 
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waltercat
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04 April 2008 13:15
 
Bruce Burleson - 04 April 2008 05:06 PM

Monotheism was around a long time before anyone ever conceived of something called “the West.” It existed in ancient Egypt (reign of Akhenaten (died circa 1336 BCE), and was practiced in Mesopotamia and Canaan around that time or even before, whether you believe the OT or not. (Unless, of course, Al Gore invented it around the time he invented the Internet.)

I am fairly certain that you are wrong about this (and absolutely certain that you are wrong about what Al Gore said vis a vis the internet).

What was practiced in some parts of Mesopotamia and the Arabian Peninsula was most probably henotheism, not monotheism.

Maybe this is splitting hairs, but there is a clear difference between believing that there is only one God and believing that there are many gods while being devoted to only one of them.

 
 
Ecurb Noselrub
 
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Ecurb Noselrub
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04 April 2008 13:46
 
Bruce Burleson - 04 April 2008 05:06 PM

Monotheism was around a long time before anyone ever conceived of something called “the West.” It existed in ancient Egypt (reign of Akhenaten (died circa 1336 BCE), and was practiced in Mesopotamia and Canaan around that time or even before, whether you believe the OT or not. (Unless, of course, Al Gore invented it around the time he invented the Internet.)

I am fairly certain that you are wrong about this (and absolutely certain that you are wrong about what Al Gore said vis a vis the internet).

What was practiced in some parts of Mesopotamia and the Arabian Peninsula was most probably henotheism, not monotheism.

Maybe this is splitting hairs, but there is a clear difference between believing that there is only one God and believing that there are many gods while being devoted to only one of them.

Carstonio claimed that monotheism is a western concept. Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema, clearly proclaims that Israel’s faith was monotheistic. This passage predates Christ, obviously, even if you don’t think that Moses wrote it. It’s not western. Go tell the Muslims that their concept of one God is Western.

 
 
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Carstonio
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04 April 2008 13:58
 
Bruce Burleson - 04 April 2008 05:06 PM

Uh, methinks you have been hanging around the “blame America first” crowd just a wee bit too long. Monotheism was around a long time before anyone ever conceived of something called “the West.”

My definition of “the West” was meant to include Europe, Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. This would include the Western Hemisphere, Australia, and New Zealand by derivation.  My definition of “the East” was meant to include India, Indochina, China, and Japan.

 
 
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waltercat
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04 April 2008 14:04
 
Bruce Burleson - 04 April 2008 05:46 PM
Bruce Burleson - 04 April 2008 05:06 PM

Monotheism was around a long time before anyone ever conceived of something called “the West.” It existed in ancient Egypt (reign of Akhenaten (died circa 1336 BCE), and was practiced in Mesopotamia and Canaan around that time or even before, whether you believe the OT or not. (Unless, of course, Al Gore invented it around the time he invented the Internet.)

I am fairly certain that you are wrong about this (and absolutely certain that you are wrong about what Al Gore said vis a vis the internet).

What was practiced in some parts of Mesopotamia and the Arabian Peninsula was most probably henotheism, not monotheism.

Maybe this is splitting hairs, but there is a clear difference between believing that there is only one God and believing that there are many gods while being devoted to only one of them.

Carstonio claimed that monotheism is a western concept. Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema, clearly proclaims that Israel’s faith was monotheistic. This passage predates Christ, obviously, even if you don’t think that Moses wrote it. It’s not western. Go tell the Muslims that their concept of one God is Western.

Now this is splitting hairs.  Jadaism is certainly Western (If Judaism is Eastern, then Christianity must be considered Eastern as well).  And Islam should also be considered Western. It certainly bears much more similarity and cultural heritage with Western religions than with any Eastern religion.

Note:  The Aryan religion that developed into the various forms of Hinduism in India and Zoroastrianism in Iran has influenced (via Zoroastrianism) all three major monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).  There is no reason to suggest that Islam is fundamentally Eastern in approach while the other two are Western.  Islam has much more in common with Judaism and Christianity than with any version of Hindusim, Taoism, or Buddhism.

[ Edited: 04 April 2008 14:06 by waltercat]
 
 
 
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Carstonio
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04 April 2008 14:16
 
waltercat - 04 April 2008 06:04 PM

Now this is splitting hairs.  Jadaism is certainly Western (If Judaism is Eastern, then Christianity must be considered Eastern as well).  And Islam should also be considered Western. It certainly bears much more similarity and cultural heritage with Western religions than with any Eastern religion.

Note:  The Aryan religion that developed into the various forms of Hinduism in India and Zoroastrianism in Iran has influenced (via Zoroastrianism) all three major monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).  There is no reason to suggest that Islam is fundamentally Eastern in approach while the other two are Western.  Islam has much more in common with Judaism and Christianity than with any version of Hindusim, Taoism, or Buddhism.

Your last sentence was part of my point. Thanks for the information about the Aryan religion.

 
Ecurb Noselrub
 
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Ecurb Noselrub
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04 April 2008 14:40
 

To split an even finer hair, Palestine/Arabia are the “Middle East” and China/Japan the “Far East.”  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all Middle Eastern, not Western, in origin. The “West”, geographically, socially, and religiously, is essentially European.  Greco-Roman philosophy = Western. Abrahamic Monotheism - Eastern. There’s not much left of this dead horse, so I’ll give you the last swat.

 
 
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waltercat
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04 April 2008 14:47
 
Bruce Burleson - 04 April 2008 06:40 PM

To split an even finer hair, Palestine/Arabia are the “Middle East” and China/Japan the “Far East.”  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all Middle Eastern, not Western, in origin. The “West”, geographically, socially, and religiously, is essentially European.  Greco-Roman philosophy = Western. Abrahamic Monotheism - Eastern. There’s not much left of this dead horse, so I’ll give you the last swat.

I’ll only point out that the Bible and the Koran are regularly taught in Western Civilization courses at many universities.

Nobody considers Christianity to be an Eastern religion, regardless of where it originated.

 
 
Jewish Currents
 
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Jewish Currents
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07 April 2008 22:15
 

There have a been a lot of posts here. That last one I read relating to review of the Atheist books concerned the reviewer Mitchell Silver described as religious,he is not religious at all. More of a philosopher. Bear that in mind when you criticize his review of the books.

 
 
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J.C.
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08 April 2008 21:04
 

-deleted-

[ Edited: 07 March 2011 17:19 by J.C.]
 
 
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Carstonio
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09 April 2008 07:59
 
Joel Armstrong - 09 April 2008 01:04 AM

What Atheism needs, as a label, is a permanent grave.  Is there any other word describing one’s belief system, or lack thereof, that carries as much negative baggage as the word ‘atheist’ does in this country?

No argument there. Would “naturalism” be a better word? How about “anti-beliefism”? My point is that any knowledge about the physical universe is gleaned through the scientific method. Science has a role in concepts such as love and happiness, but that would almost certainly be limited to exploring their biological origins. I do not see a role for science in discussing the nature of love or happiness because those involve highly subjective experiences.

Joel Armstrong - 09 April 2008 01:04 AM
Carstonio - 30 March 2008 11:16 PM

...if the God is not a personal one then why use the word God at all?

How about for philosophical, strategic, and spiritual reasons?  I’ll explain a little later in another thread I’m working on…

I’m looking forward to reading it. My point was that for the vast majority of Americans, “God” means a personal god.

 
 
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eucaryote
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09 April 2008 10:26
 
Carstonio - 09 April 2008 11:59 AM
Joel Armstrong - 09 April 2008 01:04 AM

What Atheism needs, as a label, is a permanent grave.

No argument there. Would “naturalism” be a better word? How about “anti-beliefism”? My point is that any knowledge about the physical universe is gleaned through the scientific method. Science has a role in concepts such as love and happiness, but that would almost certainly be limited to exploring their biological origins. I do not see a role for science in discussing the nature of love or happiness because those involve highly subjective experiences.

No question about Joels comment. It doesn’t work though. I find I can’t escape the label. It’s a clue as to how clear or sophisticated one’s thinking. Believers can’t imagine not believing in something. Ergo, if you don’t believe in dog, you must believe in atheism, and as an atheist you likely sympathize with Stalin and Pol Pot.

I decided a long time ago that belief, like atheist, was a word that isn’t needed. I find that I can almost always substitute simpler words like think or consider for belief and have a truer statement. It’s a way of surrendering the need to profess to know and some acknowledgment of what I don’t know. Belief is a way of speculating a truism as to something unknown, instead of just speculating about something unknown.

I don’t understand why Carst doesn’t think that subjective experiences can’t be studied objectively though. The subjective component of a biological event has it’s roots in biochemistry and evolution.

 
 
 
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Carstonio
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09 April 2008 12:17
 
eucaryote - 09 April 2008 02:26 PM

Believers can’t imagine not believing in something. Ergo, if you don’t believe in dog, you must believe in atheism, and as an atheist you likely sympathize with Stalin and Pol Pot.

Excellent point. On other boards I encounter believers who insist that science is simply a matter of belief.

eucaryote - 09 April 2008 02:26 PM

I find that I can almost always substitute simpler words like think or consider for belief and have a truer statement. It’s a way of surrendering the need to profess to know and some acknowledgment of what I don’t know. Belief is a way of speculating a truism as to something unknown, instead of just speculating about something unknown.

Absolutely. I use a similar tactic of substituting the words “suspect” and “suggest” to achieve the same goal. We cannot overemphasize the importance of acknowledging what we don’t know.

eucaryote - 09 April 2008 02:26 PM

I don’t understand why Carst doesn’t think that subjective experiences can’t be studied objectively though. The subjective component of a biological event has it’s roots in biochemistry and evolution.

I agree. I’m suggesting that our individual experiences of things like love, beauty and happiness may be somewhat locked inside our heads. It’s unclear to me how anyone can truly understand on more than a surface level another person’s specific emotional reactions.

[ Edited: 09 April 2008 12:24 by Carstonio]
 
 
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eucaryote
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09 April 2008 13:21
 
Carstonio - 09 April 2008 04:17 PM

Excellent point. On other boards I encounter believers who insist that science is simply a matter of belief.

Absolutely. I use a similar tactic of substituting the words “suspect” and “suggest” to achieve the same goal. We cannot emphasize the importance of acknowledging what we don’t know.

Exactly. There’s a blind spot that’s impossible to shine any light into. We were all brought up to “believe” that we have to believe in .... something. I think that belief takes one away from being here now. The more we indulge in belief, the more we create a map in which we live, in lieu of the territory. We want to think that our map or our knowledge of the territory is complete or synonymous with reality. Our brains use our beliefs to paper over or fill in the gaps, between what we know and what we don’t without our awareness or acknowledgment.
I think that there is intellectual freedom in acknowledgment and evaluation of the gaps

[quote author=“Carstonio”]I agree. I’m suggesting that our individual experiences of things like love, beauty and happiness may be somewhat locked inside our heads. It’s unclear to me how anyone can truly understand on more than a surface level another person’s specific emotional reactions.

Well, hard to know what you mean by “truly understand”. We can’t experience each other’s individual experience, but the range of human experience is available to all individuals.

I understand that studies have been made of the neuro-chemistry of emotion in which the spinal fluid of skilled actors, who can generate emotions such as sadness manifested with the physical symptoms including crying on command, is sampled to determine the agents responsible for the psycho-physiological response. These agents, injected into the spinal fluid of control subjects….makes them sad. downer

 
 
Ecurb Noselrub
 
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Ecurb Noselrub
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09 April 2008 13:35
 

[quote author=“eucaryote”]Well, hard to know what you mean by “truly understand”. We can’t experience each other’s individual experience, but the range of human experience is available to all individuals.

I disagree with this. I will never know either the physical, mental or emotional experience of having a baby or of being black or of slam-dunking a basketball like LeBron James.  I will never know what it was like for Einstein to conceive of his theories. The subjective experience of these things is not available to me. So I believe that, while science can study the responses of neurons and brain chemicals, the actual subjective experience that any individual has is unique, and is based on so many factors (DNA, everything that has happened to the person from the beginning of his/her life) that it will probably remain outside of the realm of general scientific knowledge. You would have to be a particular person to actually experience something like that person experiences.