The one theology book all atheists really should read

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

  1. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    All such things were superceded by other developments . Philosophy, by its nature is not a linear affair so establishing superiority or redundancy is not such a straight forward endeavour. For instance I, and many others, have witnessed you get hamstrung in discussion by what was going on philosophically in Greece or India maybe 2500 years ago. To be fair, it can happen to the best of us. There are many essential aspects of philosophy that relate to "the human condition", so vast improvements in data, observation, technology, etc are not contenders for ushering in a new age or opening new territory.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    "Iceaura" is not capitalized. "Abrahamic" is. "Burgled" means one did not see the perp, and "Abrahamic" does not describe an person's appearance.
    That kind of fogword semi-literate "imagining" for personal insult has dominated your posting here for some time now.

    And that focus, agenda, posting pattern, or whatever is going on with those guys, is what overt Abrahamic theists post on science forums. Pretty much all they post - the clear bulk of their bandwidth here is devoted to it.
    No, you weren't. No system or its integrity was involved, and the word carries no such implication.

    Which is to say: that would have been a misuse of the word as clearly as your actual use, which raises the possibility that you actually don't know what these words mean. You certainly don't care what they mean, which has been my take, but that doesn't mean you don't know. There's evidence both ways.
    The bullshit "if", followed by wordfog, the lot suggesting personal disparagement or insult without the accountability of clear assertion. An overt Abrahamic theist posts on a science forum.
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  5. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    .... precisely.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    No. Because they are not legitimate fields of study. They were largely abandoned by scientific researchers - not superseded.
    The thread topic is theology, and the book being recommended apparently emphasizes - unless the article has very basic mistakes and is useless - the clear superiority of some branches of theology over others.
    Nope - it also applies to houses or the like, not people. There's no precision there. You can't make the clever insult - though you try, as always, that being your only visible agenda - because you misuse words so consistently, including this one at least partly, that no one paying attention can assume you intended any of the actual meaning.

    As with the famous penalty for lying - loss of belief: you can't believe anyone, no one can believe you - there is a penalty for bullshitting and fogwording: no one can read you carefully for nuance or precise shades of meaning.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  8. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    What makes one definition of God more relevant than the next? Given that any definition of God discussed in the article cannot be humanly assessed for its conformity to actual reality, they are all essentially of equal value. Philosophical arguments may require philosophical critiques, but they also require logical relatable substance to merit any value.

    From the Orthodox theologian's mouth.

  9. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    I agree, the whole "light of being for reality" is probably a bit too poetic for its own good. There is language one can use but it tends to be too technical and offputing for general audiences. They did however offer .....

    God is the unconditioned cause of reality – of absolutely everything that is – from the beginning to the end of time.

    .... which gives more milage imho (although the you could argue that technically even the phenomena of time would be caused by such a personality).
    That definition poses a more interesting series of q, since one can question what would be the nature of absolute unconditional existence, what would be the relationship between such a nature and conditioned things, and even the relationship between different conditioned things ... like say us and the planet, or us and animals, or even just between you and me)

    Then you must really have issues with questions of existence being answered by "matter.", which is answer that seems to offer even less vibrancy.
    I mean, what else could one possibly say about that?

    If your answer is "quite a lot" then you are talking less about the philosophical viability of a categorical answer (ie, "God". ... or alternatively, "Matter") and more about your personal philosophical preferences (or more realistically, your philosophical aversions)

    Discussing how culture reflects and interprets things is a subject unto itself. We already have a thread about wearing pants without a belt. If getting angry about people who don't dress like you gets you going, you have lot to get going on, aside from religion.

    You are just cherry picking things to avoid discussing philosophy.
    Kind of like saying "baah philosophy, schmilosophy!" as if your personal bias and distate establishes anything other than your personal bias and distaste.
  10. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    What points did you think were excellent?
  11. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    The one about what is meant by God in various religions being far more subtle than a cosmic superhero, and more generally the complaint that evangelical atheists like Dawkins - and his American TV disciples - far too often waste time attacking a cartoon depiction of religion that no thoughtful believer really subscribes to.
  12. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    This caught my eye ...namely the notion of an anthropological void opening up as a consequence of advocating a ?pantheistic? notion of God.

    ?? are there since a "God as reality" definition does not necessarly equate a "God sans personality" definition ... which would turn whatever is spun in the name of "anthropology" on its head.

    Before I jump in too deep, can you explain what you mean by "psychoanalytic meaning of history"? I am not sure what that means .... a (re)drawing or some sort of retrospective analysis to (re)define ourselves according to the way we (re)define history? .... all those annoying (re) bits are thrown in there to suggest that we can present "new" pictures of ourself according to how we contextualize past events.

    Anyway I will stop there before I go deeper ... ATM I am just trying to understand if I am following your use of language correctly
  13. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    No, I think tbe antics of atheists attempting to bypass philosophy with science is very much a phenomena, even if you were to run with the precise philosophical implication of noumenon vs phenomena (which, for the record, I wasn't ... I was just using the word "phenomena" in a very general sense . .. like an observation that presents further q's to be asked ... and not that those q's be necessarily relegated to the "off the radar" realm of noumenon ).

    I'm not sure what you are discussing. I mentioned the phenomena of atheists attempting to bypass philosophy with science. In the context of this thread, that means any philosophical issues .... regardless whether they are philosophical truths, philosophical critiques, philosophical fallacies, philosophical hierarchies etc ... are simply not on the menu of science (or at least they are on the menu only to the degree that science is philosophical .... which as far as the menu of philosophy goes and science demands, probably only extends as far as the entrees). So there is a whole bunch of philosophical stuff that you cannot even approach, validate, evaluate or even reject with such science (you don't get a philosophical main course with science).

    "Noumenon" in a very basic sense, is just a name for all the stuff you don't get to eat as a scientist.

    If that's true, then that would include that statement you just made. If that statement is the exception, then you would have to bring in a bit more philosophy. And so on and so forth, and on it goes.
    Short answer : you're wrong
  14. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    And how do you know that?
  15. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    Musika, you do know that "phenomena" is the plural?
  16. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    The anti-atheist message, if that's what you want to call it, was delivered by the atheistic journalist* who was agreeing with the theistic author** of the book that the atheists need to lift their (philosophical) game. The reason I quoted the article was because I hoped to fast track the discussion to this point. I figured that since it was delivered by an atheist, the message would be sugar coated enough to slide through the quagmire of identity politics that seem to derail such discussions before they get started.

    *who, for the record, felt that atheists needed to lift their game to deliver stronger, relevant arguments.

    **who, for the record, (apparently, since I haven't read the book) felt the arguments offered by atheists were weak on account of being irrelevant

    I thought it was obvious : bring philosophical critiques to philosophical arguments .. .. as opposed to gathering semantics and paradigms of science in an attempt to frog-march all philosophical problems into the Colosseum of science.

    As it pertains to this thread, it is a philosophical issue. There is much about theology that can be cultural, political etc, which serves to divert the topic simply on account of its broadness. IOW I think its clear we are talking about the philosophical substance of this issue, and not the various means individuals and groups take to incorporate or interpret that philosophical element into their lives or societies at different times. I mean suppose you want to critique the catholic church, you've got about 1600 years of history to work with.

    Sure, you can launch a/theistic critiques of such things, but the culmination of all such critiques (especially from the POV of the atheist) lies in God sincd that is the point of illumination (or the bud you have to nip, according to intention).

    Or you could look at the trickle down effects of their disciples, which may not necessarily be thick in quality, but definitely fast. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but you are perhaps the only contributor here that doesn't overtly demand questions of God be framed and answered explicitly in a scientific manner (I was going to say "empirical", but actually not even you appear to go that far).
    IOW by any stretch of the issue, there appears to be dominant bias (by the "against" party) to relocate the problem to the football field of empiricism, and no questioning on whether that is the place the problem can actually be scrutinized.
    If it works out that it isn't the place, than all subsequent scrutinizing is irrelevant.

    And that, of course is a massive philosophical topic, which is the primary focus of scriptural commentary, practice, presentation etc. Its not even a topic that provides an immediate and obvious answer ... or rather, even if one is presented with an immediate and obvious answer, the thinking, justification and reasoning behind it are not easily apparent. Kind of like, for some people its easy to accept 1+1=2. For others, they have to read Principia Mathematica.

    For the purposes of brevity however, I would suggest that if God is defined as something unique to reality, not only in the special object sense (ie demiurge), but the ontological sense (unconditioned cause of all causes), then all conventional wisdoms, justifications and reasonings based on unpacking conditioned caused things are either moot or subject to a severe sort of scrutiny to determine their validity as epistemological tools. If one is not prepared to apply that scrutiny, they do not pass Go and collect $200.

    If atheists aren't convinced they need to make relevant arguments to challenge theists, theists do not own the problem.
    IOW atheists are not required to "convert" in order to provide legitimate critiques.

    Granted, Christianity has unique problems in deriving its philosophical traditions from southern europe (and then deriving something else again from a rejection of southern european culture by the northerners).

    But straight off the cuff, there are serious flaws in your deeming personalism as irreconciable with a cosmic God. I mean, you could talk about your personalism as being irreconciable with being unconditioned, independent, cause of all causes, etc. If you want to take that further, you would have to talk about how your experience of "selfhood" is sufficient to gauge what is the limit of God. IOW is it really a case of logically untenable propositions, like a round square, or is it a case of cutting the coat to the cloth?
    You could even take this query further, and determine whether it is a question even answerable according to whatever powers of inquiry we could muster from our (unenlightened) position.

    It is not necessary that we have access to God's power of universal creation, maintenance and destruction in order to have access to God
    And there is nothing in God operating from such a position that prevents Him from having access to us.
    Or at least, so far you haven't offered anything. You have talked about it in a way to suggest its not possible to us to act like that.

    ... con't
  17. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    Yazata con't .....

    Somehow, by "bumping everything upstairs to metaphysics" you also bumped God's personality.
    But even if you want to run with that (as there are traditions that do bump everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, upstairs, eg Buddhism ... actually Buddhism is kind of weird because it has culturally morphed into something slightly different with culture it touches .... , Advaitavada). The price seems to be that all issues of selfhood (including our own) goes up there. Its kind of complicated and far too technical (and painful) to explain, but in brief such schools advocate a double tiered platform of reality, with the lower tier collapsing upon entering the upper one (although technically, there is no "you" to enter there). So until that happens, one is obliged to carry on in this world of brickwalls and coffee table corners, etc, with associated issues of ritual, worship etc.
    That is like the 2 second version, so obviously I took liberties in the presentation. I just threw it out there to illustrate how religion that does effectively end God's personality in the name of metaphysics, culminates in also ending one's own. Basically I am trying to show you that no matter which way you spin it, calling upon your own selfhood as some sort of yardstick to determine God's seems to be a unanimous fail, as far as theology is concerned.

    More correctly, if we do, it tends to say something about how we view ourselves in relation to the world. There is a famous story that does the rounds throughout South East Asia. It's the story of a frog who is telling his other inland froggy pal about how he visited the ocean and how huge it was. The other frog puffs himself up and says, "is it bigger than this?". Much bigger. So he puffs again "How about now?" Yes, bigger. More puffs, more bigger, more puffs, until finally - POP
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I laugh every time I see another of your screeds based on this work - which you say you haven't read and don't plan to.

    You are the perfect Internet Expert(tm.)
  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    In 1959, classicist Norman O. Brown released an important book applying Freudianism to historical study, called Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytic Meaning of History (Middletown: Wesleyan Univ. Press):

    It is a Freudian theorem that each individual neurosis is not static but dynamic. It is a historical process with its own internal logic. Because of the basically unsatisfactory nature of the neurotic compromise, tension between the repressed and repressing factors persists and produces a constant series of new symptom-formations. And the series of symptom-formations is not a shapeless series of mere changes; it exhibits a regressive pattern, which Freud calls the slow return of the repressed, "It is a law of neurotic diseases that these obsessive acts serve the impulse more and more and come nearer and nearer the original and forbidden act." The doctrine of the universal neurosis of mankind, if we take it seriously, therefore compels us to entertain the hypothesis that the pattern of history exhibits a dialectic not hitherto recognized by historians, the dialectic of neurosis.

    It is, admittedly, at least somewhat obscure; I've mentioned it before, but none of the forty-some posts over the last nine years demonstrated any significant impact. Nor is it especially popular in these disputes; if people paid closer attention, the main risk of introducing Brown to this sort of discussion would be offending religionists by mitigating God while simultaneously angering atheists for undermining their political indictments against any given religion.

    Obscure as it may seem, however, the psychoanalyic meaning of history is something people engage on a regular basis. If I recall religionists distrusting "psychology", is that another wasted historical reference? People don't know Vanila Ice, would they know Woody Woodpecker? Or Bugs Bunny? I'm pretty sure they both did the hollow-book, violence as child psychology joke. I actually know a Christian who, if the patchwork story is accurate, never finished is master's degree because he's short the psych credits, which is funny because he's a cruel gaslight. And he becomes a pretty straightforward example: He doesn't trust "psychology", but the cornerstone of his gaslighting really is "reverse psychology" as if he's talking to a child. So, yes, if I recall religionists distrusting psychology, yet practicing "reverse psychology" and other basic manipulation, does that mean anything other than a chuckle of superficial satisfaction because religious people are hypocrites?

    Anyone attempting interpretation of political history is engaging the psychoanalytic meaning of history.

    There is a saying about learning from history or else repeating it; the psychoanalytic meaning of history is part of how we learn from history.

    • • •​

    Box yourself in with the tautalogy, "God is". A seeming paraxox emerges at some point, as you can "free yourself" by doing so. As I suggested↗ in discussion with Toad, yesterday: 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.

    In this case, freeing oneself means simply slipping the surly bonds of discourse designed intending failure and futility.

    Hart is countenancing, however he arrived at the vista, something near to panentheistic immanence, but trying to present a more constricted pantheistic version. The problem with pantheistic immanence in Christianity is human frailty; if God simply is, then we simply are, thus much of immanence emerged as an effect of trying to justify religion.

    There is another aspect, too: Are you familiar with a math game played with a six-sided die and a triangle? The point of the game is to demonstrate that chaos constrained reflects its constraints. For our purposes, the resulting myriad triangles remind that humanity is, evolutionarily, what it is because it cannot be anything else. There is an old question about do-overs, and why did God make the Universe as He did; this becomes part of the answer. The math describing the physics of the Universe is what it is, whether we ever know it all or not, one metaphorical symptom is that it becomes possible to say we are, indeed, made in God's image. Why two eyes and ten fingers and toes? If the ultimate reality had gone differently, such that there was advantageous utility in having six fingers on a hand, we would.

    And there you see the double-edge of the psychoanalytic meaning of history in these religious discussions and disputes: Redemptive religionists don't want that emotional reward of feeling special to go away; atheists don't want to deal with literary and philosophical notions that are harder to denigrate religion.
  20. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    It's not actually based on his work.
    Frankly, I am surprised that people here would need Cliff Notes to understand the point the (atheistic) journalist is making. The identity politics runs so thick that people are afraid they might agree with the book the journalist is reviewing, and find themselves mortally contaminated by inadvertently agreeing with a theist on a general philosophical point (namely, that its in the interests of atheists to lift their philosophical game).

    I would be lying if I said that all this hasn't caused a chuckle or two ...
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  21. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    You can agree with that, but I didn't say it. What I asked was: What was the question of existence?
    which you failed to answer.

    What one could say about matter has filled quite a lot of textbooks. But, of course, you still haven't asked the the question you answered.
    Or, even more realistically, reality.
    Maybe so, but those interpretations do seem a bit redundant to "God is Existence".
    The distaste is accurate. The philosophy was absent from you opening post.
    You addressed atheists - all of us - with a book recommendation, and you rationale for recommending this book was questionable.
    So I questioned it.
    All pits; no cherries.
  22. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    If one interpretation of God is that "God is existence", then how is that qualitatively different from existence not having a name at all?

    From where I stand, it seems the critical component required for God to be God - no matter what flavour you want to pursue - is that God be a thing that acts with intent. (I'm falling just short of saying "sentient").

    If God were not an entity - acting with intent - then we're simply talking about the physical mechanics of the cosmos, are we not?
  23. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    This is getting way too long. It took Musika two posts to respond to my last post, so I'm in danger of going four pages. To prevent that, I'll break it up into bite-sized pieces.

    Atheists are a large and diverse group. They range from trained philosophers to laymen on the street. So right off, it's probably foolish to say that they all participate in a single philosophical 'game'.

    Wouldn't that mean accepting the journalist's assertions as already established? Which would seemingly pre-stack the deck in favor of your own rhetorical points. Why should any of us agree to that?

    The idea that knowledge claims require satisfactory justification (especially when the knowledge claim is disputed) isn't "frog-marching all philosophical problems into the colosseum of science". It's a perfectly philosophical epistemological position. If we reject the idea that knowledge claims need justification, then how should we adjudicate between contradictory knowledge claims?

    The journalist (and maybe the author of the book) was talking about how we should properly conceive of God. That's a theological issue.

    I'm certain that if we examine the Christian, Hindu and Islamic traditions throughout their histories, we will encounter a whole variety of ways of conceiving of their deities. Ranging from unknowability (negative theology or 'neti neti') to theological personalism. All of these can come in highly philosophical forms or in more popular versions.

    You seem to me to be trying to collapse concerns with epistemological issues together with what you call "science". So any talk about justification for one's knowledge-claims turns into an example of trying to cram a round philosophical peg into a square scientific hole. If that's what you are up to, then I think that you are mistaken. The need to justify one's claims, especially if they are contested, is just common sense. (I'm sure later stone age people reasoned like that.) Philosophy absorbed it in its earliest days. Aristotle formalized it in his Organon. Then science absorbed it. That latter adoption by science isn't any reason to dismiss it now.

    What other sources of justification of religious existence-claims do we have?

    If atheists emphasize empirical sources of information, that's because our senses seem to be our gateway to the objective world, to reality that doesn't just exist for you or me individually (I like the taste of chocolate, or I believe in the existence of invisible pink unicorns), but for everyone.

    I'm not convinced empiricism is all there is to be said about that subject, since mathematics presents us with a famous problem case. It's one of the famous open metaphysical questions.

    But I will say that if theists want to attack atheists for excessive empiricism, then the theists probably need to present a plausible case that an alternative path to knowledge of God actually exists. Witnessing to their own faith doesn't suffice.

    This seems to be a good stopping point for the moment.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018

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