Comparative Religion: A Discussion via Apologetics

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by RonPrice, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. RonPrice Mr RonPrice Registered Senior Member

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    APOLOGETICS: AN OVERVIEW

    Part 1:

    Since there are so many questions raised and issues discussed concerning people’s basic assumptions about life, about their philosophy, about their religious beliefs, indeed, about their very approach to reality and the way their society goes about organizing things, it seemed like a useful exercise, useful at least to me and hopefully to some others at this site, to say a few things about: My Position and Beliefs: My Religion. I do this at this site and dozens of other sites on the internet and I use this post as an opening note. I hope to solicit responses from others and engage in a useful dialogue about the field of comparative religion, among other subjects. Some readers will find this post too long. For such readers I advise they simply not bother reading this post. The following paragraphs set some of the context for that dialogue which I hope follows from this opening post.

    Religion, in the sense that I am using it here, is the set of values, beliefs and attitudes each of us has as we go about our daily life at a particular moment in time, in this case, at the time of my writing of this post on the internet and in the case of the person reading this post, at the time of the response of that reader to what he has just read in my writing. Religion is also the set of assumptions one brings to their life. One of the essential features of assumptions is that they cannot be proved. They are just givens at the centre of one’s meaning system. My apologetics, then, is strengthened by the common witness and testimony of my fellow human beings about the role of values, beliefs and attitudes in our lives and in relation to the world in which we live.

    Part 2:

    The religion I belong to---the set of values, beliefs and attitudes that represent my life as a member of the Bahá'í Faith---is an outgoing and dynamic organization. It is not distracted by internal controversy as many if not most other religions are in their spiritual life.[1] It is a Faith highly focussed on the new Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, the Bahá'í Faith’s Prophet-Founder and this Faith is responsive to the world’s need for united action. I hope this opening note of over 2500 words provides a general, a useful, a helpful context for any continuing discussion you and I may have. If the note I strike is too long, as I say, I advise readers to just click me off or stop reading when you feel your mind is glazing over. This is a simple enough exercise of the hand and the mind. I do this all the time in our print-glut world. Readers do not know much about the Baha'i Faith can google the official international Baha'i site at: bahai.org. -Ron Price in Tasmania, Australia, last updated on 31 January 2014.


    Part 3:


    Apologetics is a branch of systematic theology, although some experience its thrust in religious studies or philosophy of religion courses. Some encounter it on the internet for the first time in a more populist and usually much less academic form. As I see it, apologetics is primarily concerned with the protection of a position, the refutation of the issues raised by that position's assailants and, in the larger sense, the exploration of that position in the context of prevailing philosophies and standards in a secular society, a religious society, indeed, any society past or present. All of us defend our positions whatever these positions are: atheistic, theistic, agnostic, humanistic, sceptic, cynic, realist, pragmatist and any one of a multitude of religions, denominations, sects, cults, isms and wasms.

    Apologetics, to put it slightly differently, is concerned with answering both general and critical inquiries from others. In the main, though, apologetics deals with criticism of a position and dealing with that criticism in as rational a manner as possible. Apologetics can help explore the teachings of a religion or of a philosophy in the context of the prevailing religions and philosophies of the day as well as in the context of the common laws and standards of a secular society. Although the capacity to engage in critical self-reflection on the fundamentals of some position is a prerequisite of the task of engaging in apologetics, apologetics derives much of its impetus from a commitment to a position.

    Part 4:


    Given the role of apologetics in religious and philosophical history and in the development of the texts and ideas that are part and parcel of that history, it is surprising that contemporary communities generally undervalue its importance and often are not even aware of the existence of this sub-discipline of philosophy. Authors, writers, editors of journals and leaders known for defending points in arguments, for engaging in conflicts or for taking up certain positions that receive great popular scrutiny and/or are minority views engage in what today are essentially forms of secular apologetics.


    Anyone concerned with the history of apologetics is also involved with the history of hermeneutics and they all confront the question of interpretation. Questions of interpretation concern biblical interpreters. They concern lawyers who debate the meaning of the Constitution. They concern psychiatrists as they reflect upon their interpretation of case histories, and anthropologists and historians who ponder the data of their disciplines.

    Naturally in life, we all take positions on all sorts of topics, subjects, religions and philosophies. Often that position is inarticulate and poorly thought out if given any thought at all. With that said, though, the apologetics I engage in here is a never-ending exercise with time out for the necessary and inevitable quotidian tasks of life: eating, sleeping, drinking and a wide range of leisure activities. The apologetics that concerns me is not so much Christian or Islamic apologetics or one of a variety of those secular apologetics I referred to above, but Baha'i apologetics. I look forward to hearing from anyone at any time in the weeks and months ahead.-Ron Price, Tasmania, Australia
     
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  3. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    There really isn't a defense of atheism since it holds no religious tenets to be true (makes no claims). Therefore it sounds weird to refer to atheist apologetics.

    Also I disagree that religion is merely a personal philosophy. The word implies a belief in a metaphysical reality, usu. centered around a deity.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Atheism is nothing more or less than a textbook-standard application of the scientific method to the hypothesis that an invisible, illogical supernatural universe exists, populated by fantastic creatures and other incredible forces, who at irregular intervals transport themselves into the natural universe for the express purpose of fucking it up and making it difficult for us to understand. (People turned into pillars of salt, sea level rising to cover the Himalayas, which would require about six times as much water as there is, etc.)

    One of the basic principles of science is: It is never required to provide evidence to support a negative statement. The responsibility for evidence always falls on the person making a positive statement. Otherwise the academies of science would dissipate their entire annual budgets in one day, being required to disprove every bit of bullshit brought to their doors.

    The responsibility for presenting supporting evidence falls on the theists. And the best "evidence" they have ever been able to present is a tortilla (out of millions fried every year) with a scorch mark that is breathlessly said to be the image of a character mentioned in the Bible--of whom no portraits exist against which to compare it!

    If the religionists insist on throwing their preposterous bullshit in our faces, they need to get used to our reaction: "Please present some evidence or get your ignorant ass out of here."
     
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  7. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member

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    Not at all. His Kingdom is not of this world, different rules altogether...but, He does condescend for your sake... He says by YOUR words
    (the essence of words [what it is versus what words are] is a clue to the different rules)
    you will be justified and by YOUR words you will be condemned...evidence for sure...so for all those who think when that inevitable moment of confrontation occurs they can justify themselves by saying I was a good atheist....I believed I was/could be good enough without You...God will demand of you according to HIS Word i.e. "with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" based on your standard [your 'words']:

    "Please present some evidence or get your ignorant ass out of here."
     
  8. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    1,869
    Apologetics is nothing more than an attempt to give those who already believe some lame arguments to feel good about their choice to believe.

    It does nothing to convince anyone else.
     
  9. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    I would add that the average atheist probably recognizes that the claims made in most religions are founded in superstition, myth, legend and fable -- that is, that the believer is falsely and incorrectly interpreting the source material (typically "scripture") as a credible source worthy of literal interpretation (to the extent they derive literal meaning supporting a particular doctrine and doxology), when it is easily established that the material is superstitious in origin. Thus, a person who just spent an afternoon reviewing the first unit in a world history textbook, or one in mythology, would reach the same end conclusion as you (religion is founded in ignorance) without necessarily having worked through the logic you explained, something that might not occur to them until they had exposure to geometry and basic science. But I think by about the 10th grade they should all have caught up with you.

    That being said, it is puzzling how a person with the minimum education needed for most jobs (a high school diploma) could possibly reconcile the religious claims against the subject matter from the core courses needed to graduate, and cling to their religion against overwhelming evidence that it is fallacious to do so.

    Also kind of ironic is that the idea of Christian apologetics came about when the Church patriarchs were busy putting down heresies. Therefore, the early apologetics had a winnowing effect, steering the definition of Christianity only gradually. In other words, Christian doctrine was unsettled enough that this discourse had to play out until, say, the Council of Nicea (establishing a formal declaration of the fundamental creed) and then of course the collation of certain texts which were floating around into a final Christian canon under Jerome, who created the Vulgate (first Bible). And both events were hundreds of years after the legend of Jesus began circulating via oral tradition.

    So one of the logical errors for modern apologists is that they are relying on texts and doctrine which were not selected in the first century, but much later. They only purport to date to the first century. And most illogical are the religious claims from anti-Catholic apologists, who seem to be unaware that it was the Catholics who decided what the central tenets of their own belief system would be.

    And then, adding to what you said, there are the modern apologetics such as Creation Science, which go as far as attacking science just to shore up their superstitious claims.

    Put it all together and it spells fallacy.
     
  10. spidergoat Trump rejects intelligence Valued Senior Member

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    Mr. Ron Price managed to say nothing about his beliefs. I guess that's coming later.
    Are you sure about that? Science makes assumptions which are later shown to be correct to a high degree of certainty. Are you making a point about how most knowledge can't be proven with 100% certainty? I would say some assumptions can be proven wrong, but few can be proven right.
    Thank you for clarifying that. For a second there I didn't know who I was or what I was doing.
    Is that an assumption on your part?
    NOOOOOO!
     
  11. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Atoms don't exist.


    It seems to me that this rather provocative statement requires justification, despite the fact that a logical negation operator is involved.

    I agree in part. The so-called 'burden of proof' (in real life it's more of a burden of being convincing) is going to be on whoever is making an assertion, assuming that whoever the assertion is directed at doesn't already believe it. Having said that, it doesn't seem to matter a whole lot whether the assertion includes a negation operator.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
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  12. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    A hypothesis has to be falsifiable. Atoms don't exist is falsifiable.
     
  13. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, I'll agree with that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    No. The scientific method has no patience with grammatical sleight-of-hand. Every science course includes a class in logic--usually in the first year. Any competent scientist can sort through the cascade of negatives in a sentence and reduce it to either a positive or negative statement.
     
  15. RonPrice Mr RonPrice Registered Senior Member

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    It has been nearly 6 months since I posted the opening notes on this thread. Now in my 70s, I have given much thought over more than half a century to the questions and issues I raised in my initial post here. I thank all those who responded creating, in the process, an interesting concatenation of material. In order to respond to some of the many points raised in these last six months, and to save me reinventing the wheel so to speak, I encourage readers who want to know about what I think about religion, my own religion, as well as the major religions and philosophies to go to my website at: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/RELIGION.html
     
  16. Kristoffer Giant Hyrax Valued Senior Member

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    Isn't it against the rules to advertise your own site?
     
  17. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    It doesn't seem like a real issue since we can place a link to a personal site in our profile. The problem might be if large chunks of website text were posted.
     
  18. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    RonPrice,

    Interesting website. I scanned a lot of it and read some in detail to obtain a reasonable degree of perspective.

    I am afraid I am only 62, so you have a lead on me.

    Religions are much like car accidents where the driver dies. The details of any fatal car accident can take a vast multitude of forms, but the end result is a single simple detail - death. Religions likewise offer a vast set of differing details that all come down to a single common factor - how to escape death.

    At the essence of every religion are two common factors -

    1. Some form of duality. E.g. that a human has both a physical form and a "spiritual" form.
    2. That the non physical form can survive the death of the physical component. Or variations on that theme.

    The specifics of any given religion then simply define the set of rules one must follow to ensure the promised survival, or quality of survival, beyond physical death.

    The side effects of any given religion include a vast set of cultural and moral definitions, which are sometimes interesting, and often beneficial, and at other times quite barbaric and brutal. The study of these differences naturally consumes volumes of texts and lifetimes of effort and time. Details that often obscure the simple underlying claim.

    Every religion has at its core the speculative imaginary fantasy of duality.

    Religions over the time that humans have existed, have shaped our societies and cultures, some for good and many for bad. And all based on that primeval instinct for survival - this cannot be all there is to life, there must be something else beyond death - and hence the human imagination provides a satisfying belief that hides the ugly reality that death is final.

    If we were rational, religions should have died out the moment we discovered neural networks.

    I guess the interest I see in comparing religions is how they all end up at exactly the same place. In that case they are all the same and their details ultimately are irrelevant.
     
  19. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    And apologetics, from what I have observed, seems to be the intellectual tactic of making something essentially irrational appear rational. The usually immense distortions of logic are often extremely subtle and bewildering.
     
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  20. RonPrice Mr RonPrice Registered Senior Member

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    Thanks for your responses to my initial post on this thread, folks. Everyone is engaged in apologetics in one way or another.
    Apologetics is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of information. Early Christian writers (c. 120–220) who defended their faith against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called apologists. In political usage, apologetics is used in a negative fashion to describe the defence of controversial actions or policies, like terrorism or politically repressive governments. Many apologetic books have been written in response to attacks on the history and teachings of the Bahá'í Faith. The religion's founders themselves wrote several books in response to such questioning presenting proofs of their religion, among them are the Báb's Seven Proofs and Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Íqán. Later Bahá'í authors wrote prominent apologetic texts, such as Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl's The Brilliant Proof and Udo Schaefer et al.'s Making the Crooked Straight.-Ron Price, Tasmania
     
  21. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    The "systematic use of information" is also known as propaganda.
     
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