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#19417 - 03/23/07 07:23 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: quantum]
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Originally Posted By: quantum
(not sure if i used the right words but you know what i mean - please feel free to correct my grammar anytime!)


Quantum,

I wouldn't be so presumtious as to correct your grammar. If English is not your first language then I am very impressed with your use of it.

Blacknad.

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#19426 - 03/23/07 08:38 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: DA Morgan]
Wayne Zeller Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: DA Morgan


Did you read the whole article, or just the beginning? The article says:
Quote:
"But contrary to the Hadith interpretation of the Qur?anic verse, and contrary to the translation mentioned above, and to the erroneous interpretation rendered by Abdullah Yussuf Ali, the Qur?an does not deny the death and Crucifixion of Jesus, the Messiah. In fact the Aramaic language of the Qur?an is identical to the story of Crucifixion mentioned in the New Testament."


So, yes: Confirmed in the Qur'an.

Quote:
Butt you still seem to be artfully dodging the intent of my questions which is HOW do YOU distinguish? And thus is it possible that those things you think "real" today you might think "allegorical" tomorrow?


I've tried to explain that you distinguish by erring on the side of learning. If the writings of the Bible guide you to leading a better life, more loving of your community, more supporting of your peers, more compassionate for those less fortunate, and more in tune with the world around you - then why does it matter which parts are allegorical and which parts are factual? Written by men who were subject to political forces of their time and subject to their own lack of knowledge of some things, it will contain factual errors. Inspired by divinity, it will not contain spiritual errors. It is a manual for life, not a history book.

Quote:
God is reduced from being the actor, as portrayed in the book to serving in a capacity floating somewhere between irrelevant and vaguely influential.


No. God is portrayed as having created the whole thing from scratch, and embedding in it the narratives of our lives. Embedding within it all that happens. Allowing logical progressions throughout, and including his own acts within. When an author writes a book, most of it flows logically from one page to the next. That's what allows us to read the book and comprehend its contents. However, he is free (if he wants) to have a chapter where a character inexplicably can turn water to wine. By exerting this ability in only one chapter, is the author reduced to irrelevance or vague influence? No. He is the one without whom the whole story would not exist.

And, I might add, the characters who aren't in the book at the very beginning might ask, in character, "Why did it take so long for me to be added to the story?" The answer would be, "Because other parts of the story came first."

Quote:
I find this:
"13:15. For when Pharao was hardened, and would not let us go, the Lord slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of man to the firstborn of beasts:"

It seems you are unequivocally saying that this is not true. And yet, it would seem, it is the basis for your belief. Thus, you can understand, my puzzlement.


Your puzzlement stems from putting words in my mouth. I never said the passage was unequivocally untrue. I offered an alternative explanation to show that there are different ways to interpret the passage. Did God slay each of the slain himself? Perhaps. To return to my previous analogy, if the author writes a chapter where every firstborn dies, did the author do the killing? Yes. Even if the story shows it being done by other characters? Yes.

Quote:
I'll grant everything you wrote true or probable ... but if that is what happened then it was nothing but a deception. Hardly the basis for the worship of the Virgin Mary or for the tremendous amount of attention given to her in the Q'ran.


I think you may have missed my meaning. I didn't say that Mary and Joseph committed this act of deception. I don't believe they did. I believe in the virginal birth. However, I can acknowledge the possibility of a deception there. And that is a source of great consternation for me. That is the one pillar of my religion that must not fall. If it was somehow proven that Mary deceived the people around her and that the identity of Christ was a hoax, then it all comes crumbling down. Whether it is fortunate or unfortunate, that can never be proven either way. It is truly a matter of faith. And, like any Christian, I occasionally experience crises of faith. When I do, more often than not it is centered around that very question. It is a very frightening "What if" that I obsess on from time to time.

(How often do you hear a theist reveal to you his weakest point? When I signed up for a membership on this board, it was for the express purpose of discussing science. I didn't intend to being up religion at all. In one thread, I felt I should do so purely in the name of full disclosure when I was explaining one of my thoughts about QM, and somehow that exploded into me explaining a lot of things in great detail that I didn't think anybody here would be interested in. But, when the conversation began to focus on my peculiar brand of theism I promised myself to be completely honest about it. And so I have been. More honest, I think, than most people would have been. That said, I really would be more comfortable if this line of conversation ended soon. I'm here for the science. All the scientists seem to want me here for the theism. And before somebody cleverly points out that I wouldn't be uncomfortable if I "really" believed, let me just invite whoever would say that to first tell us all about their innermost feelings and beliefs and to reveal to us the things that make them most doubt themselves.)

w



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#19429 - 03/23/07 08:48 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Wayne Zeller]
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Wayne asks:
"Did you read the whole article, or just the beginning? The article says:"

Of course I did. Thus my comment that the author's attempt to claim it as Aramaic, rather than Arabic, is a POV (Point Of View) not held by many scholars. The vast majority of Islamic scholars hold that there was no crucifixion. I'd have found you one of their writings were it in English and as I don't ONLY post things I agree with I posted the link with what I thought the appropriate caveat.

Using the more obscure "Aramaic" rewrite may be comforting but it should not be. There are hardly any scholars that buy the argument.
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#19436 - 03/23/07 10:40 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: DA Morgan]
Revlgking Offline
Megastar

Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
BTW, my wife and I just got back from Treasure Island, near St. Petersburgh, Florida. It was a wonderful winter break of two weeks and more.

Checking in at SAGG I was pleased to read the following:
Quote:
This thread has morphed from a troll post with zero intellectual content into one of the most mentally stimulating we have had here at SAGG in a very long time. Congratulations all.... Well done.
Good point, DA.

It is always pleasing to see how well people with differing points of view can communictate with one another when we are spiritually mature enough to respond to others, with whom we may differ, with respect.

A wise person--I think it was Winston Churchill-- once said in a debate: "I disagree, strongly, with what my worthy opponent just said. However, I am prepared to fight and to die for his right to say it." smile
_________________________
G~O~D--Now & ForeverIS:Nature, Nurture & PNEUMA-ture, Thanks to Warren Farr&ME AT www.unitheist.org

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#19469 - 03/24/07 11:46 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Revlgking]
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
I think it should be made clear that Dan made the comment about the thread when we had moved away from discussing the baseless notions about G?D.

Blacknad.

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#19476 - 03/24/07 04:47 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Blacknad]
Revlgking Offline
Megastar

Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
Quote:
"I think it should be made clear that Dan made the comment about the thread when we had moved away from discussing the baseless notions about G?D." Blacknad.


I assume the above is said with respect, right?
While you are are at it, what do you mean by "baseless notions", Blacknad?
_________________________
G~O~D--Now & ForeverIS:Nature, Nurture & PNEUMA-ture, Thanks to Warren Farr&ME AT www.unitheist.org

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#19505 - 03/24/07 11:06 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: quantum]
Revlgking Offline
Megastar

Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
Wayne Zeller writes:
Quote:
"There are lots and lots of ways in which to worship him/her/it/whatever, and to pay homage. Catholicism is the way I have chosen....
Very Catholic, Wayne...Very Catholic, indeed. You go on to write:
Quote:
Christianity is in crisis, not because of rational atheists like Dan, et. al., but because of unthinking, non-discerning, led-by-the-nose, idiotic fundamentalists. Like George W. Bush, for instance....
May I add that there is such a thing as, Catholic, Protestant, and Humanist fundamentalists?
You go on to say:
Quote:

Obviously, the Great Flood is a parable and/or a legend....Only the hardcore fundamentalists believe that Moses [you mean Noah., right?] saved all the animals by loading them two by two onto a boat. To dismiss Christianity because it has a few fanciful stories that you think all Christians believe literally is to misjudge the intelligence of a lot of Christians." Wayne Zeller.
Wayne, I hope that I quoted you in context. Did I? If so, I very much approve of your very rational approach to undestanding Christianity.

With the above in mind, and with respect, I ask the following questions: On matters of faith and morals does the present pope, Pope Benedict, have the ear of God?

If so, can you tell us: To what definitive questions does he have the definitive answers?
_________________________
G~O~D--Now & ForeverIS:Nature, Nurture & PNEUMA-ture, Thanks to Warren Farr&ME AT www.unitheist.org

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#19509 - 03/25/07 01:40 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Revlgking]
Wayne Zeller Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Southern California
Quote:
May I add that there is such a thing as, Catholic, Protestant, and Humanist fundamentalists?


Indeed. And that is why I usually use a lowercase F in the word "fundamentalist" (though I sometimes get lazy with the grammatical distinction).

"Fundamentalist" (capital F) usually refers to a particular sect of Christianity that teaches the absolute literal word of the Bible. These are the guys with the Young Earth theory, and the ones building a giant terrarium where they plan to raise lizards in a high-oxygen environment (like they say existed a few thousand years ago when the Earth was made) and expect the lizards to turn into dinosaurs thereby proving that dinosaurs are just what lizards were when there was more oxygen. Yeah. They really are building that.

The fundamentalists of other religions typically take the beliefs of their church to an extreme that was never intended. I should note that "Catholic Fundamentalist" is little but of a misnomer since once you become one you aren't Catholic anymore. If you put a Catholic Fundamentalist in a room with the Pope, they would grow very exasperated with one another since they would agree on very little.

Quote:
On matters of faith and morals does the present pope, Pope Benedict, have the ear of God?

The Pope, like every other member of clergy, is a man. He was appointed by mortals and is as human and mortal and normal as you and me. Does he have the ear of God? Sure. So do you and I, even if you don't believe it.

Usually, this question is related to a misunderstanding of Papal Infallibility. If that's not where you were going, I apologize for this tangent I'm about to hit. A lot of people think that Catholics believe the Pope is infallible. That's a misconception. He's human, he's mortal, and he sins. (He even has a confessor to whom he confesses every week.) Infallibility is not some divine power granted by God. It is an authority granted by mortals allowing the Pope (in the case of Papal Infallibility) or an Ecumenical Council like Vatican II (in the case of Ecumenical Infallibility) to define the teachings of the church.

It is rarely invoked. The last time was 57 years ago. In 1950 the Pope declared that the assumption of Mary into heaven is an article of faith. The result of that invocation of the authority of Papal Infallibility is that this is now an official teaching of the church, and anybody teaching anything else is not doing so as part of the church.

We grant the legislative branch of our government the right to make laws. Once they are made, everybody needs to follow them or be punished if caught. This is exactly the same kind of authority granted through Papal Infallibility.

Quote:
To what definitive questions does he have the definitive answers?


From the above, the answer should now be clear: He can definitively tell you what the church teaches. If you ask him questions on any other topic, related to God or not, his responses are as fallible as any other highly educated person.

w


Edited by Wayne Zeller (03/25/07 01:55 AM)

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#19546 - 03/25/07 11:03 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Wayne Zeller]
Revlgking Offline
Megastar

Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
Quote:
Wayne Zeller answers: "From the above, the answer should now be clear: He can definitively tell you what the church teaches.

If you ask him questions on any other topic, related to God or not, his responses are as fallible as any other highly educated person."
"What the church teaches?"

Now tell me: What then is "the church" and "what the church teaches"? And, what is it that "the church" does NOT teach about?

I have always assumed that the church's God-like teachings cover all the things of life--from the cradle to the grave...and beyond."

IS THE POPE INFALLIBLE, OR NOT?
If, as you indicate, the Pope is NOT infallible about most things, of what value is papal infallibility?

Believe me, I am not being cynical, here. I am just being truly curious.
_________________________
G~O~D--Now & ForeverIS:Nature, Nurture & PNEUMA-ture, Thanks to Warren Farr&ME AT www.unitheist.org

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#19547 - 03/26/07 12:13 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Revlgking]
Wayne Zeller Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Southern California
"The Church" is the Catholic Church and all it's various Rites. (Rites are mostly geographic divisions of the Church, each with it's own customs and practices. Some Catholic Rites even have married priests, and so forth. In today's globalized society it has less to do with geography - there are Scottish Rite Catholic Chruches and Greek Orthodox Catholic churches all over the place.)

The Pope determines what the Catholic Church does and does not consider official teachings.

Christ died and was buried, and three days later rose in fulfillment of the scripture, ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. That's a teaching of the church.

Mary, mother of God, also ascended into heaven. That's a teaching of the church too, but until 1950 it wasn't "official".

Noah took two of every animal on his ark. That's a story in the bible, and there are valuable lessons in the story about God and his relationship with people. But if a Catholic priest tells his congregation that this is allegory, he's not going to be excommunicated because the church has no official position on that.

Your question about the value of papal infallibility indicates a misunderstanding of the term. A Pope can exercise Papal Infallibility by declaring a writing of his to be infallible. If Pope Benedict wanted to, he could declare infallible a writing of his saying that birds can't fly. Anybody saying that they've seen birds fly would be excommunicated until they changed their mind. However, he wouldn't do that because it would tear the church apart.

The right of infallibility is rarely exercised because of the effect it has on the church when it is.

Infallibility's value is the same as the value of the ability of legislature to pass laws. The Pope (and various ecumenical councils) are the source of the church's laws.

w



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#19556 - 03/26/07 07:02 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Wayne Zeller]
Wayne Zeller Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Southern California
Here's a closer-to-home example: The Pope could write and declare infallible an opinion that evolution is a bunch of bunk and the world came into existence just a few thousand years ago.

The majority of Catholics wouldn't accept that, and would leave the church. Most would probably migrate to the Episcopal church since that's about as close to Catholic as you can get without being there. There would also be bishops and cardinals who resign in disgust and they would probably found a new church that is everything Catholicism is today, minus that new ruling. They would recruit priests from the Catholic church in order to maintain the lineage of the clergy. Once organized, they'd start trying to bring back all the parishioners that went to the Episcopalians and other churches. And the Roman Cathlic church would probably never recover.

Now, if you were the Pope, and you believed that evolution was a bunch of bunk and the world was created a few thousand years ago, what would you do?

You certainly wouldn't declare it as infallible and lose half you church, would you? Instead, you would simply state it as your opinion. Lots of people would agree with you and lots wouldn't. But the fact that they are allowed to disagree with you but remain in the church means that it won't tear the church apart.

As you can see, declaring a teaching as infallible runs a very big risk. If everything out of the Pope's mouth was to be considered infallible, he'd have to never appear in public for fear of accidentally saying something that destroys all the church stands for.

(Incidentally, neither Paul II nor Benedict believe that. They have both shown support for evolution, but not just blind random evolution. They support the view that evolution was guided by God. In my own explanations of how I think God made us, I've said that it was set up at the time of the Big Bang that we would evolve to our present state and to whatever state we continue into. As I see it, that's the same exact thing as guided evolution. They see it as an ongoing guiding, but I believe the universe is atemporal so an ongoing anything is the same as a time dimension set up when the whole system is built.)

As for a real example of fallibility in the past, you've got Pope Pius the XII, who sat quietly by and allowed the genocide of the Jews to proceed at the hands of Hitler. Pope John Paul II made a public apology for that, acknowledging that it was a terrible error by Pius, but also pointed out that it was the sin of a man and not a sin of the church. It was a mistake made by a man - not the church as a whole sitting idly by. In fact, many Catholics were actively involved in protecting Jews. But the church itself had no policy one way or the other because such a policy would have had to come from the Pope. Unfortunately, he screwed up. But he didn't pass an infallible decree saying that the church shall stand idly by. Had he done so, then the church would have splintered. It would have been good for him to pass an infallible decree that Catholics must help our Jewish brethren in that time of extreme need, but it is not the church's fault as a whole that he didn't.

If a Pope's every word and deed were infallible then John Paul II could not have apologized for Pius XII's actions (or lack thereof, actually).

w


Edited by Wayne Zeller (03/26/07 07:06 AM)

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#19558 - 03/26/07 03:19 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Wayne Zeller]
Revlgking Offline
Megastar

Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
In my humble opinion, your informative comments above, Wayne, raise numerous questions: For example, what is the Church doing about the enormous misunderstanding most people, including Catholics, have regarding what "papal infallibility" is all about?

What do you think of the writings of atheist writers like Richard Dawkins? http://richarddawkins.net/
http://richarddawkins.net/article,542,Atheist-Richard-Dawkins-on-The-God-Delusion,Terrence-McNally-AlterNet-Richard-Dawkins

Atheists writer's are making quite a splash currently. I wonder how they would respond to your frank comments above?

I can imagine RD asking: Does the Pope really have the ear of God? If so why does he not get, from God, the truth about the important issues and tell all of us what it is?

Or, is religion what I say it is, an illusion? Can we take any god seriously if he holds back on the truth?

_________________________
G~O~D--Now & ForeverIS:Nature, Nurture & PNEUMA-ture, Thanks to Warren Farr&ME AT www.unitheist.org

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#19566 - 03/26/07 05:03 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Revlgking]
Wayne Zeller Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Southern California
Richard Dawkins and his ilk are having their day in the sun because our country was foolish enough to elect a fundamentalist as its leader and is now reaping the rewards for that. People look at our current theocracy and all the mistakes it is making and decide that these mistakes must be an indicator that religion isn't all it's cracked up to be. The real message should be: Non-thinking fundamentalism and hypocrisy isn't all they are cracked up to be.

Once the shrub is out of office and we get a real leader in their (oh, God, please) the current popularity of anti-Christian writers will fade. (One thing atheistic scientists can thank G.W.Bush for is making Christians look like idiots in the minds of the world. He's done more for the advancement of atheism than any other religious person in history, methinks.)

Nothing Dawkins says is any more or less valid than the points brought up by thousands of atheists before him. When he speaks about the ridiculous claims about Young Earth and things like that, I'm right there with him. When he says that there is no reason to suspect God exists at all, I'm flummoxed as to how somebody could think it. (Believe in God or not, as you choose, but to say that there is NO reason to even SUSPECT he exists is overstating the case and there are millions who agree.)

As for what the Church is doing to about all these misunderstandings (and there are A LOT of things popularly misconceived about Catholicism), it's doing what it can. But if people are already predisposed to not listening, what can you do? There are books like, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Catholicism". That book actually does a pretty good job of clearing up a lot of misconceptions. But who is going to read it? Probably almost exclusively two groups: Catholics who don't need it and people with anti-Catholic agendas who won't read it objectively but instead will just use it to try to find more leverage.

A television campaign might be an effective way to go. Seventh Day Adventists have sure done well with that. I can picture a series of spots, each explaining in lay terms the reasons behind a different aspect of the church that is commonly misunderstood. But, contrary to popular belief (and you'll probably lambaste me for this thinking it's got to be completely wrong, but I assure you it is not), the church doesn't have much money to spend on things like that. The Catholic church is admittedly VERY land-rich, but it is also very cash-poor. Selling land means closing churches, so liquidity is a major problem. The kind of campaign they would need to wage to make serious headway in clearing up many of the most common misunderstandings would be very expensive and they just don't have the resources.

I'm not sure I'm understanding your point about the Pope having the ear of God. When I picture a Pope having the ear of God I picture a guy with a pointy hat saying, "Hey, God! That Irwin Schlasterhack guy is a real jerk. Don't let him in when he comes knockin'!" and God's reply, "Yeah, okay Vinnie! I'll send him down the street to Satan's place."

God doesn't follow our orders. He might grant our requests (or might say no), but he's not at our beck and call. And the Pope is just one of us.

As for your other question, he DID give us the truth about all the important issues. First, he summed it all up on a pair of tablets and had Moses deliver it to the people. Later, people were still screwed up, so he came down in person to show us how to get straightened out. We nailed him to a tree for his efforts. Then he helped people write an amazing manual for life, teaching us how to live, and it's called the Bible. And still people say, "Well, if he exists, why doesn't he just tell us what he wants?"

This reminds me of a modern parable. You may have heard it:

There was a terrible storm, and flood waters were rising in a town near the sea. People did what they could to save their homes, but soon water was up to the roof lines. People who could get out did, but many were stuck. Boats were brought in and lots of people were rescued. One boat pulled up to t a house with a man sitting on his roof and the boat pilot invited him in. "No," the man responded, "God will save me."

The water continued to rise. About the time it got to the peak of the roof, another boat came by. The man, up to his ankles in rising flood water once again refused the help of the mere mortals insisting, "God will save me!"

Soon, the water was up to his chin and he was washed away from the roof. While he was treading water a helicopter came and tried to rescue him. "NO! God will save me!"

Needless to say, he drowned shortly thereafter. Upon meeting God he said, "Lord, why didn't you save me?"

"What are you talking about? I sent you two boats and a helicopter!"


w

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#19574 - 03/26/07 05:38 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Wayne Zeller]
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Wayne wrote:
"The real message should be: Non-thinking fundamentalism and hypocrisy isn't all they are cracked up to be."

Except that we are as likely to hear main-stream Christian churches denounce them as we are likely to hear main-stream Islam denounce their fundamentalism as we are to hear main-stream Judaism denounce their fanatical elements.

Yes there are in each group a few voices in the wilderness spitting into the wind. But the vast majority, the silent majority, acquiesces.

It is what it is and happy thoughts and best wishes are not going to change the reality. The silent majority is the gutless majority and by their silence they sow the seeds later reaped.
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#19597 - 03/26/07 07:47 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: DA Morgan]
Wayne Zeller Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Southern California
At least I've gotten you to admit that the the vociferous minority doesn't represent the majority.

Here's the problem: When somebody like myself stands up and starts talking sense, they are shot down not only by the same people shooting down the fundies, but also by the fundies themselves.

The current climate is so incredibly hostile to anybody with a thinking religion that their voices are drowned out before they even leave their mouths. A person with a thinking religion is the only kind of person that a Fundamentalist and an Atheist will team up against. I find that sad.

w


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#19603 - 03/26/07 08:23 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Wayne Zeller]
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Getting me to acknowledge (not admit) objective truth is rarely difficult. <g>

I am sympathetic which is why I continue to offer an olive branch. I know how extremely difficult it must be. Been there before I moved here.

But those of us that have moved on have done so because we applied intense analytical skills to the study of history. We have agonized over the implications of what were considering. And we have decided that integrity, and a desire to avoid hypocrisy, require it.

It is very difficult at times to be out here. Reviled by the fundamentalists and yet not able to completely embrace those such as yourself. We each have our cross to bear.

It is not my intention to challenge your belief system. It is yours and you are entitled to it. But it is my intent to never let people forget that those promoting religion as a solution have been doing so for more than 10,000 years (since Ur) and that they have little, if anything, to show for it. The advances we see today are the result of science. Our electricity, our medicines, our food, our water, etc.

When religion recognized trichinosis it created the Kosher laws and claimed God forbid eating pork. When science recognized it the result was pork chops.

If people had tithed for science and put as much money into university research departments as churches we'd have beaten cancer into submission and have people colonizing Mars. That difference is not lost on me and shouldn't be on you.

Believe what you want ... but put your energy into what works.
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#19612 - 03/26/07 08:58 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: DA Morgan]
Wayne Zeller Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Southern California
Quote:
Believe what you want ... but put your energy into what works.


God works. And without him, there wouldn't be any science to begin with.

That's what works for me.

I think that will need to be my final word here on the matter of religion.

You're too angry with God at the moment to really absorb any truth about him. Your olive branch is nothing more than a willing extension of the microphone to people you can't hear anyway.

Let's get back to science. That's what we both came here for, right?

w

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#19619 - 03/26/07 09:45 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Wayne Zeller]
Revlgking Offline
Megastar

Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
Originally Posted By: Wayne Zeller
At least I've gotten you (DA Morgan) to admit that the the vociferous minority doesn't represent the majority.

...The current climate is so incredibly hostile to anybody with a thinking religion that their voices are drowned out before they even leave their mouths.

A person with a thinking religion is the only kind of person that a Fundamentalist and an Atheist will team up against. I find that sad.


Wayne, thank you for your advocacy of a RATIONAL AND THINKING APPROACH to religion, including Christianity--one in which we can agree to disagree agreeably, and not be judgemntal of one another. How divisive such an approach is, eh?

My wife and I belong to a new congregation called PATHWAYS--It is, BTW, part of the United Church of Canada. It is also made up of people who want to belong to a congreation of people dedicated to a kind of Christianity which encourages progressive and constructive thinking.

For your information, the following item is from the Pathways Forum:

http://www.pathwayschurch.ca/forum/showthread.php?tid=71


James Jensen from via the Internet writes to one of our mentors, The Episcopalian Bishop, John Selby Spong, who answers JJ:

"My name is James Jensen. I read of you through UU World and recently read Sins of Scripture (excellent book, by the way).

Today I ran across an article on Wired entitled "The Church of Non-Believers." The author talks about a so-called New Atheism pioneered by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennet that is quite militant about their non-belief. They accuse moderate and liberal believers of being essentially accessories in the harm done by the fundamentalists and radicals.

They make a few good arguments, essentially mentioning the fact that no politician in this country has declared himself or herself an atheist because it wouldn't be politically safe to do so.

I can also sympathize with the idea that moderate and liberal believers aren't doing enough to oppose the fundamentalists, who strike me as not unlike the Nation of Islam in their approach to freedom and justice. It seems likely to me that this means there is going to be a new consciousness (as you term it) breaking through soon enough, but I am left wondering whether this will be more of a breakthrough in Christian thinking or in atheist thinking. In other words, is this the end of religion, or of atheism? What's your opinion on the matter?

Personally, I am no longer sure what to believe and while I sympathize with atheism, it seems to me that without some basis in faith for proclaiming that life is not only good but right, crackpots are going to start thinking they can "fix"human nature, just like people have thought nature needs to be "fixed"and made more orderly ? resulting, of course, in environmental destruction.

After all, both the experience-affirming Carl Rogers and the utopian-behaviorist B.F. Skinner were chosen Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association"

Dear James,

Thank you for your letter. Religion is for many a vital and confusing subject and it justifies most of the criticism it receives. If religion were really about what the Religious Right proclaims, I would want no part of it. If my only choice was to be a Christian like the Falwells or the Robertsons, I would find atheism a compelling alternative. I believe that Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are expressing exactly that.

ABOUT DAWKINS
I met Richard Dawkins when I did some lectures at New College, Oxford University, several years ago. Just that day I had been reading Dawkins' book, "The Selfish Gene" at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. I found it fascinating. It was even more fascinating to discover that we were seated that night side by side at the High Table. I found the man personable and charming. Every theologian in England wants to debate him. Few come out unscathed.

There is much irrationality in our God thinking and Dawkins loves to point it out. Does that mean that there is no reality in the human search for God? I do not think so. Does it mean that human definitions of God are always doomed to die? Because they are human creation I am convinced that they will. The God Richard Dawkins rejects is the one I also reject. What is in doubt is whether the God to whom I am drawn is real, whether the human yeaning for the 'Transcendent,' the 'Other' is real and whether Richard Dawkins' search for truth and my search for God are in fact the same search, but by different names. That is not so easy to answer.

I have never met Sam Harris. I have read him, read reviews about him and watched him at great length talk about his book and answer questions on C-Span. I think his work has articulated what many people feel. It is difficult for religious people to admit they might be wrong so when Sam Harris points out the flaws he finds in religious understanding, he elicits great hostility. Religious threat always produces religious anger.

I found him to be dead set against the abuses he observes in Christianity. He sees no alternative to those abuses than to attack and rid the world of Christianity. I think a better alternative is to attack and to rid the world of that abusive Christianity, which suggests that ultimate truth has been captured in creedal forms, that God is an angry parent figure in the sky who wants to punish us but relents and punishes the Divine Son instead, and that followers of Jesus have the right to hate anyone who disagrees with them. I have no need or respect for such a religious system or for that abusive deity. That is also not the God that I believe I engage as a Christian when I worship.

So I welcome the Dawkins, the Harrises and the Dennets of the world and believe the Christian Church must be willing to listen to them, to hear their criticisms and to respond to them with the respect that their criticisms deserve. When we do that, I believe we will discover that Christianity can still be a vital and alive force in the 21st century.

My best,

-- John Shelby Spong



Edited by Revlgking (03/26/07 09:50 PM)
_________________________
G~O~D--Now & ForeverIS:Nature, Nurture & PNEUMA-ture, Thanks to Warren Farr&ME AT www.unitheist.org

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#19624 - 03/26/07 10:28 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Revlgking]
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Wayne wrote:
"You're too angry with God at the moment to really absorb any truth about him."

Angry with god? Hardly. I can't find any evidence of god having a hand in anything on this planet. I am angry at what humans have done under cover of citing his name and while claiming him as the authority for what they have done.

If you think otherwise you putting incredible energy into a belief system (not religious, but about those of us that are not) based on a very big misunderstanding.

Note to Tr?ll: Please go start your own thread or go away.
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#19630 - 03/26/07 10:40 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Revlgking]
terrytnewzealand Offline
Megastar

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Hey. It seems Dan Morgan and Revlgking agree on something. DA wrote:

"Except that we are as likely to hear main-stream Christian churches denounce them as we are likely to hear main-stream Islam denounce their fundamentalism as we are to hear main-stream Judaism denounce their fanatical elements."

The Rev's latest post seems to agree. OK guys, maybe we should stop arguing over whether some form of indeterminate god exists and get stuck into fundies of all religions, not just the three above I might add. Unfortunately, as people feel threatened they withdraw into their own circle, which on a wider view includes those fundies.

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