The one theology book all atheists really should read

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Musika, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    I think he was speaking to the keffir among the would-be/should-be Christians he was writing for.

    If you don't subscribe to Abrahamic (in root) religions, what do you prefer? I practice a form of Buddhism that suggests I will be saved if I chant daily, but there are no imperatives to kill or subjugate the keffir and either kill him or extract a tax, Why the fuck would God want you coerce a tax from people who don't believe as you do?

    There's something really wrong there.

    If I offered you a blessing in Latin, would you accept it?

    I've been granted access to Mass in the Episcopal church, and have been given the privilege of taking Catholic communion. It means not one damned thing.

    I don't go to Lutheran services because they offer grape juice, not wine... That whole transubstantiation thing always bothered me through Catechism classes, but for long afterward.
    I think if I believe in a god at all, that I'm deist: He laid the egg and left to build another universe.

    I had way too much LSD one night, and I went out and met him, or something that looked like him. It looked at me. Scared the living shit out of me and helped me not freeze in the winter night, but yeah, I've had a religious experience. Only thing is, I know mine was drug induced

    Maybe... Maybe I reached a little too far. Maybe I'm insane, or maybe I'm the sanest person you know.

    Trust me...
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Compared to the rest of your post ... okay, I got nothin' on that. Whatever.

    Still, this is an interesting question because it deals with a matter of presuppositions. Neither theists nor atheists, in that superficial dispute, address the psychological and anthropological implications. "Redefining God to mean reality" is the process, philosophically and academically speaking, of removing theology from religionists in order to examine questions of God and religion in the context of a psychoanalytic meaning of history.

    • • •​

    In truth, "hysterical" probably isn't the word I would use, but I'm not actually picking nits on this occasion. It's just weird, or something.

    Difficult. Huge. But that's the thing; it's anthropology and social psychology between LeBon and Brown. It is very nearly a unique field unto itself because its historical window was so narrow.

    It's important to me from two vectors: In my days of witchcraft and occultism, Frazer was required reading, which, I'm sure, is supposed to mean something; in the time since, there is Stetkevych, Muhammad and the Golden Bough, which is its own complicated question, but also a fascinating scrap of the literary record insofar as there is a Golden Bough in Islam and in the pre-Islamic record. Stetkevych's comparatively extraordinarily thin tome is also outstandingly difficult reading, but also, in its way, a striking example of scholarship exploring the meaning of partiuclar religious symbols.° There are seven pages, for instance, dealing with particular aspects of throwing stones, best reproduced instead of described, which is problematic in its own right, but as the psychoanalytic meaning of history goes, this particular psychoanalysis is demonstrative of at least something about not only the difficulty of the subject matter but also the straightforward implications of stepping out of caricature frameworks in order to deal with the history in its living implications.


    The thing is, we're not making religion go away; it's virtually impossible. Destroying theism eventually becomes a matter of semantics, and thus is similarly impossible. The better way to deal with the living implications of religion would seem to have something to do with challenging narratives°° and altering the discourse. This isn't a strictly competitive endeavor; in many cases, what people need is a way to tell the story within their framework, and while "God" is a complicating factor, the underlying behavior is perfectly human.

    Karen Armstrong's A History of God is much more accessible than Stetkevych, and also much more general; there are also Jeffrey Burton Russell's books on the Devil; reading even these surveys of records historical and literary changes the way one argues about and even against the proposition of God. Elaine Pagels, too, with her work on the Gnostic Gospels, as well as her exploration of the historical politics of Satan.

    And it is easy enough to understand, to the one, that nobody really wants to study what they so loathe, but, to the other, the critique of atheistic discourse in the topic article would be considerably defanged if particular experience wasn't so easily accessible. Rational argument is harder, and there is a loud faction creating a powerful behavior pattern reiterating boundaries of acceptable knowledge and ignorance by trying to keep it stupidly simplistic.

    There is a certain irony about it. Hart is an American theologian whose specialty includes European continental philosophy; the "light of being" statement is, to the one, an encouraging sign, but, to the other, very much unlike the evangelical Christianist narrative denigrating American political discourse these last nigh on forty years, speak nothing of the nigh on sixty before that. Monotheism has certain logical results; Hart clearly isn't ready to decouple God from that specialness people feel within their religious contexts, but the viable tautalogy runs, "God is", and the most part of religion that gives societies trouble has to do with screwing that part up in order to feel special. Compared to the God of, say, Kim Davis' religion, Hart offers a somewhat evolved notion of godhead. His work has potential to do more to help Christians transform their faith and, thereby, religion, than anything modern atheistic discourse has yet provided. Christianity has very nearly caught up to Diderot. Let's hear it for the eighteenth century.


    ° If you happened to catch the spectacle with some extremists a few weeks back, the one ripping on Islam included in hs misrepresentations ahadith pertaining to an episode at the heart of Stetkevych's examination, the march and raid on Tabuk.

    °° See also, #3537126/186↗, or, rather, the brief summary: Why is certain behavior not illegal? Compared to history, when would it have become illegal? The latter is the counterpoint, and considers the way in which society's outlook on the behavior has changed: Why is it legal? Because the argument to make it illegal has not yet prevailed. And that really is a matter of history and how we read it; I just don't expect the institutions could pull off that kind of prohibition against church groups targeting children for brainwashing, such as the proposition went. Nonetheless, if a particular range of argument has not prevailed, it occurs with different context and empowerment than it did, say, thirty years ago. In this aspect, changing narratives create or allow potentials for further change.
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  5. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I don't understand the use of the word " keffir" in this context?
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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    You don't need the phrase "a psychoanalytic meaning of". "Vectors" isn't the best choice of word either. If you want to examine history by taking religion into account, great. That is generally done but it has nothing to do with the threads started by theists (in general) on sciforums.

    Shall we psychoanalyze witchcraft and occultism to better understand history as well?
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
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  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Internal security measure and regulation of subsequent protection racket.
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  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Try "reading comprehension problem". Or try rereading.

    Or at least quote whatever it is your befuddled brains have made hash out of, and I'll try to straighten you out - without much hope, but sincerely and honestly as befits my sense of duty here.

    I've come to regard the sudden inability to read simple sentences with comprehension as a symptom. It bodes ill.
    Modern atheistic discourse and analysis has been providing those same insights and perspectives, decades before Hart. The Eastern tradition provided it millenia before Hart - in works translated into Western languages and popularly available for over a century now.

    Wendell Berry's thoughtful essays have also had that potential. So have many others. They remain sources of potential.

    The obstacles have not been put up by atheists.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  10. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    Were you saying this was a refreshing change or did you miss the part about the article giving advice to atheists, as spoken by an atheist?
  11. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    I am not sure if that was an intentional attempt at humour (in which case it was really good ... you caught me) or a blithe foray into the sort of spiel retching that I was warning about.

    Anyway, I am going with the later (in which case if it was the former, your humour caught me out).

    I was only suggesting that reading the article was warranted to avoid falling back on tired cliches of tired atheistic arguments. It is not a sales pitch for the book or some "new evidence of God" claim or the like.

    It is about the phenomena of atheists calling upon scientific methodologies to deal with a problem that is philosophical. There was a suggestion (given by the theistic author of the book, but subsequently agreed with by the atheistic journalist) that this mismatching of means to ends arises from atheists not accepting (or even being aware) of the theistic definition of God - namely attributing God to something "within" or "part" of reality as opposed to being "behind" or "the cause" of it. The journalist makes the point, that if the goal of atheism is to engage in debate, it behooves such persons to accept the definition of whom they are arguing with. If they don't do that, their arguments will be irrelevant.
  12. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    "Being", "knowing being", etc all issues arising from philosophy.
    I don't think the point was to introduce some new philosophical position to the argument, but rather, to introduce the position that it is a problem confined to philosophy, lying beyond or outside of science.
  13. Truck Captain Stumpy The Right Honourable Reverend Truck Captain Valued Senior Member

    perhaps it's a spelling mistype?
    in context, it appears that Dr_Toad meant Kafir

    see also:


    just a few thoughts:
    did you mean "noumenon"?

    if it is a phenomenon then it is 'what is experienced is the basis of reality' according to philosophers here (link provided). and that makes it understandable under the investigations of the scientific methodologies, and thus it *is* a problem that can be dealt with using said science.

    also - something that is purely philosophical is also subjective
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
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  14. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    It makes almost no difference. You are still just calling a bunch of things you don't know "god".
  15. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Tolerant co-operation among rational people. ( I know, I know, another stupid idealist....)
    God wouldn't. Occupying foreign powers have to raise money for their armies.
    By penalizing the unconverted, they kill two birds and eat them, too.

    Lots of places. But "it's the best of all possible worlds" so that's OK.
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  16. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Neither. You read as well as you write.
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  17. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    I'm probably spelling it wrong since Arabic doesn't have vowels, but it's the word that translates to unbeliever or infidel.

    Edit: Stumpy got it. I responded to yours before I caught up...
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  18. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    You really think so? I had some struggles with reading it when I was 15, but I attributed that to my own ignorance of magic. Interesting.
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  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Oh, it's extraordinarily insightful, but we never stood a chance; like many religionists, approaching it because it was important to an unofficial canon had us similarly trying to understand The Golden Bough in the context of our own magick; these days I find it much more important for what it tells us about the evolution of religion.

    It's like how all these years later I still don't have a copy of Sefer Yetzirah; neither am I interested in trying to perform post-qabalistic ceremonial magick, these days, so the book's place in the historical record is something I'll get around to when I get around to it.
  20. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    I haven't seen this unusual standard for topic discussion you are proposing anywhere else here so it seems strange for you to insist on it as the means for making a topic "relevant". Usually people just discuss the topic.

    Just barging in, with a subtle demeaning nature with, "I live in the USA. Tell me about yourself. Don't worry, I will not deride your religion" is the online equivalent of ..

    If you are not looking to deride my religion, what are you looking to deride?

    No thanks, facebook is fine, even with data mining and fake accounts.

    The journalist in the article touches on the pointlessness of popping in with quips about "magic" Gods and such, namely questioning whether its merely a category error introduced by atheists.

    Well for a start, it brings the end of the so called scientific demand of "well, prove it." Philosophical arguments require philosohical critiques. The atheistic journalist points out such critiques are not beyond atheism, but they are beyond a type of atheism that refuses to budge from an irrelevant definition of God.

    Well, to run with your offering of a rudimentary definition of God and an equally rudimentary definition of "everythinb else", you can just as easily swap "no more" with "no less" for the same (useless) effect .... IOW its just hot air as the "moreness" or "lessness" are not qualified in any manner, and just paves the way for arbitrary blather.

    Many types of people, including atheists don't seem to be disturbed with their own repetitiveness so its not clear what the "science forum" (if that's what you want to call it) has to do with anything.

    From my observations, it appears that content free trollish behaviour belongs to specific people and intelligent thoughtfulness belongs to others.
    Sure, some people are here just to troll, but diverging real or imagined details about one's life just seems to provide such trolls with more material to work with.
    Hence mh previous comment about this place coming in on the top 5.

    Seems you are talking less about how this site is and more about how you imagine it is.
    Just recently I discovered that the religious forum is archived, probably on account of all the traffic it has received. I could be wrong, but it doesn't appear the other forums are (I haven't checked them all).

    It also tends to draw a lot of crank bashers, which is probably not favourable to this "Summer of 69" routine you are spinning

    Pinata festivals, all in the spirit of caring, eh?

    You initiated this so called friendly inquiry in a clumsy manner with a subtle derrogatory suggestion. It wasnt like a major social gaffe, more like an awkwardness that prompts polite refusal.
    Then you proceeded to go from bad to worse with a lengthy sort of "you aint from around here, are you boy?" tirade, plying your provinciality as some sort of lay of the land standard for behaviour, upping the ante of the derogatory subtleties and the social gaffe.

    In the real world, people reciprocate according to how they are treated. In the online world, its not much different. I didn't really have high expectations when you staggered in, but please spare me this "You aint holding your half of the deal" bullshit.

    I'm pretty sure interest in religion is not fine in your books, so you can quit hiding that pinata stick behind your back, if you like.

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  21. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    So God is physics or nature. There is no being or consciousness that is God. Fine God is a set of rules with no intelligence.

    That is a weird definition of God but it is no worse than any other definition I guess.
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  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Your intention seemed to me to advocate for some anti-atheist conclusion that you take the author and/or reviewer to have advocated. If so, then I think that it's your job to explain it and to defend it.

    Assuming that characterization of atheists is even accurate, and assuming (for the sake of argument) that the implied criticism is correct, then what would you favor replacing these grievous atheist errors with? What's your alternative?

    Or more accurately a theological one. (I don't think that we should equate theology and philosophy.)

    Who insists that it is an "inherently scientific problem"? (Maybe Dawkins, Coyne or people like that. But even then, I don't want to put words in their mouths.)

    But it is typically an existence claim. That puts it in the metaphysical arena. It's also typically a knowledge claim. People claim to believe or even to know that God exists. And that puts it in the epistemological arena.

    If we (as I generally do) understand 'knowledge' to mean something like 'justified true belief', then most weight would seem to fall on the word 'justified'.

    How is purported 'knowledge' of God justified?

    We must not only have a proposition in mind that we believe is true. Nor is it sufficient that it in fact be true. (That correspondence might just be luck or happenstance.) We need some satisfactory reason to believe that it's true.

    That's what motivates all the incessant talk about 'evidence'. If the word 'evidence' suggests 'science' to you and yours, then you need to propose an alternative form of extra-evidential justification that you think is more appropriate to theistic propositions. That's your task, not theirs.

    They aren't 'barking up trees', let alone the wrong tree. They are just saying that if you ever hope to convince them of the truth of theism, you need to present them with something that convinces them. (Call it 'evidence' or whatever you like.) Otherwise they will say that they aren't aware of anything that justifies theistic belief. That's reasonable enough.

    And I quoted it and responded to it. It has a couple of serious defects in my opinion.

    First, this rather cosmic conception isn't entirely consistent with much of theistic religious tradition that does present God as a 'person', a person who is 'creator', 'designer', 'judge' and the Bible's memorable 'Lord' (a title given to an ancient king.) The reviewer's favored cosmic concept is taken from late-antique philosophical theology that tries to combine preexisting Christian (and later Muslim) tradition with Neoplatonism. In India, we see a rather different sequence of ideas, but again the interplay of personalized traditions with more abstract philosophy.

    Second, giving the concept of 'God' an exceedingly metaphysical spin seemingly reduces God to being whatever fulfills particular metaphysical functions. God is the source and origin of the universe (the big bang can assume that role), God is the source of the universe's order and whatever sustains it from moment to moment (the laws of physics can take over that). Sure, we can make these kind of moves, but something of vital importance to religion is being lost. God loses "his" emotional resonance, 'his" psychological relevance to human beings, "his" role in ethics, and "his" Holiness. The 'Laws of Physics' are very different sorts of things than 'God'.

    If we bump everything upstairs to the realm of metaphysics, the question then is what remains of God that justifies our worshipping him? We don't fall on our knees and worship theories of metaphysical modality, elementary particle physics or the foundations of mathematics.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  23. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    That sounds like a false dichotomy, since they both play in the same field.

    According to popular atheist thought, yes.

    I'm not sure why, as an atheist, you would expect one of your definitions of God to be better than any other.
    You did quote something from the article, but your response seems more like you collected your thoughts on atheism.

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