The one theology book all atheists really should read

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

  1. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Libraries, caves, colleges, administrative offices, temples, private collections, municipal archives. So?
    No there isn't. The most ancient texts also include bylaws, personal correspondence and poetry. Culture just keeps on truckin'.
     
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  3. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Some of its first commissions were commercial flyers, broadsheets [fake news] and indulgences.
    τόσο περισσότερα πράγματα αλλάζουν όσο περισσότερο μένουν τα ίδια
     
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  5. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    I think the impact of theology to the present argument is overstated. Theology isn't knowledge. The whole field is the study of nonsense and fiction. Theologians might as well have attended clown college. It doesn't matter if religious tradition was where philosophy was founded, or if attempts at philosophical justification are ripe within churches, when it comes to theism, they all failed.
     
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  7. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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  8. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Gargantuan sentences!
    Plus hyperbole, profligate use of emotionally manipulative adjectives, personification of abstract concepts, facile pop psychology based firmly on air and absolute rejection of the passage of time. Other than that, it sounds like a philosophical work or no merit whatsoever.
    Forgive me if I don't come back for more.
     
  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    In an earlier post I wrote (more or less, I've adjusted it slightly to read better):

    But it is typically an existence claim. That puts it in the metaphysical arena. It's also typically a knowledge claim. People claim 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, a stance ignorant of philosophy, then you probably need to propose a specifically philosophical form of extra-evidential justification that you think is more appropriate to theistic propositions. That's your task, not the atheist's.


    Actually, the theological literature pays surprisingly little attention to trying to justify its own revealed doctrines. The Bible has almost nothing to say about it, hence scriptural commentary doesn't either. The mere claim that they are 'revealed' seems to be enough. That's the point of the natural theology/revealed theology distinction (Aquinas refers to these as 'general revelation' and 'special revelation'). 'Natural theology' refers to what supposedly can be known by everyone about God from examination of this world we live in. While 'revealed theology' consists of what can only be known by recipients of the revelation.

    In the high medieval period there were some interesting attempts at providing justifications, which contradicts Jan's idea that only atheists would be concerned with them. There was Anselm's 'ontological argument' and Aquinas' attempt to use various arguments taken from Aristotle to create natural theology. My (repeatedly stated) point is that natural theology reduces God to a set of metaphysical issues like unmoved mover, first cause, or the necessary/contingent distinction. (The Big Bang might serve as unmoved mover and first cause, but we don't typically worship the Big Bang. The Laws of Physics supply reality with its order, but physicists don't kneel before their blackboards full of equations.)

    Natural theology makes use of precisely the kind of concepts you and your journalist seem to be insisting that atheists not use (and ridiculing them for using): concepts based on our human observations of this supposedly 'created' realm that we inhabit. Natural theology is empirical by its nature.

    But apart from natural theology, what do we have?

    I agree. Natural theology raises several metaphysical questions that remain unanswered in my estimation. The proper response to that is probably agnosticism (with regards to those particular questions). The proper response is not to equate the unknown answers to the questions with the 'God' of scripture, as Aquinas tries to do (that would require a lot more argument) Nor is the answer to follow some of the 'new atheists' by shrieking that it's all 'philosophers and theologians' so bullshit by definition. It's error either way in my opinion. The only thing that we are truly justified in saying is that we don't know what the answers to the metaphysical questions are at the moment (and that their relevance to religion remains unclear).

    Apparently an assertion of divine immanence.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanence

    What kind of something? Is 'God' synonymous with 'reality'? If so, what's up with worship, religious ethics, God's will and commands, with God's supposed love? In other words, if God is made synonymous with reality, where does that leave the average religious believer and the content of the religious traditions?

    Or should God be distinguished from reality somehow? If so, how?

    (The pantheism/panentheism distinction arises there.)

    That sounds like traditional theism's personal creator is being replaced by a metaphysical concept. Wouldn't most of religiosity be cast adrift by making that move?

    Doesn't the theological tradition oftentimes make a big deal about the distinction between creator and creation? (That's the whole point with divine transcendence.) In some Christian theologies that's supposedly a tremendous chasm, bridgeable only by Christ.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendence_(religion)

    And don't the theistic theologies of creation generally want to imagine creation as intentional, purposive, willful, rational and so on? That kind of language sneaks what you dismiss as a "demiurge" back in without acknowledging him.

    Somebody (your author, your journalist or you) is trying to promote a particular kind of theology. Atheists are under attack because atheists supposedly are unaware or unresponsive to it. Perhaps the critics of atheism need to better explain what their preferred theology is and explain why it's superior to the supposedly crude concepts that the atheists are said to be using. Admittedly I haven't read the author's book and perhaps that's the task that he's set himself. From looking at the table of contents, it looks like he's getting his inspiration from theistic Hindu theology. (Which is ok with me.) That's seemingly where Jan Ardena is coming from too, or was a few years ago when he/she was a very outspoken proponent of Krishna bhakti.

    How does the problem of justifying one's beliefs in the reality of God go away or become misguided when one makes these moves?
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  10. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    What a clear, succinct analysis! What a woeful waste of effort!
     
  11. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    You could say the same about theists - One type of variety begets another. The journalist even went as far to determine the atheist MO for discussions that don't enter the philosophical realm (beyond science). He also went on talk about the futility of bringing the said MO to such a "game". It was less an attempt to narrow it down to a specific or singular philosophical approach, but rather a pointing out of an entire philosophical field which is untouched by such atheistic critiques.


    I'm ot sure what you are identifying as the rhetorical points here .... namely whether atheists have been known to bring an inappropriate MO to critique a metaphysical argument, or that theists have been known to have recourse to a type of argument that is beyond such an MO?
    IMHO both these points appear to be clearly illustrated and not rhetorical.

    You can argue about the demographics of a/theism in order to determine the prevalence of ideas as they appear on a spectrum, but that does not diminish the spectrum. Inasmuch as atheism has a reactive (as opposed to proactive) element at its core, it doesn't have the capacity to determine the "playing field" of theism. IOW theistic arguments that occupy a metaphysical space in philosophy have to be met on their own ground.


    If one determines that such a Colosseum has the monopoly on such "justification", then that is exactly what it means.

    Its more to the point thst justification (or critique) takes a form in accordance to the claim at hand.... or at least it takes such a form if it wants to be relevant. Of course one can argue to suggest a lack of diversity within epistemology, but that appears to be part of the "philosophical shortcomings of atheists" the journalist is alluding to.


    Sure.
    But they were focusing on the philosohical (as opposed to cultural, political, etc) ramifications of it, as it pertains to atheistic critique (atheists also have plenty to say about culture and politics stemming from religion). Hence, philosphy.


    Regardless of your views that such a dichotomy being present (trying to engineer the existence of God in the framework of material science seems to also have quite a strong historical academic presence), you are still left with the issue of a theistic category of argument that doesn't come down to the MO of science. Categories, by their very nature, contain variety.

    I'm not talking of dismissing science. Round pegs in square holes make just as much racket as square pegs in round holes.

    Advocating that square holes have the monopoly on all issues of justification is the precise sort of "collapsing of epistemologies" that the journalist and the author are agreeing on.
    You may not agree to it, but it just leaves you outside the scope of critiquing certain religious ideas on their own philosophical grounds.

    Its a philosophical issue. If it had no application beyond religion, it would be an identity trope of its culture, politics, etc .... which of course is one manner to try and cut a philosophical claim off at the pass.

    Needless to say, that is a topic unto itself. In short, the five senses are subject to mistakes on account of their limited nature. So to whatever means they are utilized as a "gateway to the objective world", they bring a substantial par to the course. That doesn't mean they don't find use as a square peg in a square hole, but they certainly don't have the capacity to engineer all problems to the proportions of squares either.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pramana

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology

    That is a question that requires getting down to specific approaches. I mentioned at the onset that there is no one singular apparent answer (and you agreed as much in your reference to islam, hinduism, christianity, buddhism , etc being fields).

    If would probably be easier to talk about how empiricism doesn't work in particular scenarios rather than talk the immense subject of what works outside of it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Unfamiliar crowd.
    They are "shrieking" (something theists never seem to do in these debates, for whatever reason), and they reject philosophy - the category, all of it - as bullshit. Both. That excludes everyone I'm familiar with.
    I haven't been keeping up, apparently.
     
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Not the same. They have a specific feature in common, and it's significant - fundamental. They occupy a defined and delimited category, and those without that feature are everyone else.
    And they don't "beget" each other, in general. That's a specific relationship found in certain circumstances.
    Nobody has illustrated either of those points here,
    and what atheists have been known to do (some self-described atheist or two, somewhere) is hardly relevant.
    Any core of "atheism", to the extent that concept even makes sense, would be neither reactive or proactive.
    The playing field of theism is certainly not whatever some theist tries to hide in after bullshitting the universe.
    You appear to be demonstrating that there is not even one apparent answer.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  14. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    I was meaning philosophy. It was a response to MR s proposition that theology is an illegitimate field of study (with his emphasis that whatever theology brings forth in the name of philosophy, has no merit). Put quite simply, the only way to study philosophy in that manner is to dismantle culture and history (what to speak of philosophy)

    Fair enough if one's target is religion, but if you have to dismantle philosophy, history and culture to do it, I would offer that one is going about it all wrong. To be fair, MR is probably laboring under the idea that philosophy, like the sciences, is simply a linear process. IOW one simply studies the most up to date version of it, and dallying with historical elements is of no real consequence. The study of philosophy does not function like that.

    If one's goal is to launch an effective and relevant argument for atheism, it requires effective and relevent study of theism.
     
  15. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks for pointing that out
     
  16. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    ///
    No study of theism is required to not be a theist. No argument is needed to not be a theist.
    Tho sometimes, studying religion results in ceasing to be a theist.

    <>
     
  17. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    It seems you are taking the question to another level, namely drawing some conclusion on the precise pantheistic/personalistic nature of God. (So if that's where you're going .... well, brace yourself). You are right, that Hart doesn't deal with that q (at least from what I read from the article). And you are right, according to how God is defined (pantheistic, personal, or something in between) bears high significance on the nature of this world, our selves, and even what constitutes the best of all worlds.

    From a "simple maths" perspective, there appears to be an elegance in kicking God upstairs with Pantheism (the unknowable, the un-nameable., etc). This serves many purposes, namely relegating the "anthro" exclusively to the fallible (namely, "us") so we don't have to take desire, free will and individual expression outside the sand box ... the sandbox being the trappings of personhood within the profane, namely its predictability in jubilation (name, fame, adoration and distinction arising from money, fame/followers, strength, intelligence, renunciation, beauty, etc ) and despair (the absence or loss of the before mentioned things). So the simple maths dictates a simple dichotomy ... namely (so called ) material life arising from the acquisition of such things and (so called) spiritual life arising from the renunciation of such things (which gives the necessary trauma for psychoanalysis.... and if you do it long enough in a consistent manner, a history).

    But there is a bigger q of whether personhood has a necessary requirement for the profane. IOW even though we may be susceptible to crimes of passion regarding ownership in this world, we are also quite capable of a "life free of crime". Ok, someone owns that big bank downtown, yet it would appear (at least in my saner moments) that I can be quite satisfied without getting my grubby little hands all over it, and I can also be quite satisfied without coming before its marble columns and proclaiming I have nothing to do with it. So if I have recourse to a sense of self that isn't deeply dyed by material acquisition (I can't own anything material in any ultimate sense) or material renunciation (I can't renounce everything material in any ultimate sense), of what would God bestow if he wishes to reciprocate with the "specialness" of knowing Him? Is favours at the prison shop dispensary (aka, "the sandbox") the extent of His magnanimity? Is reciprocation only meaningful if given in the medium of mental distress (inasmuch as material acquisition/renunciation = psychoanysis narrative)?
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  18. Capracus Registered Senior Member

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    If done honestly it's almost guaranteed.
     
  19. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    I guess as long as one is satisfied with a few keywords and google search, you have a point.
     
  20. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    ///
    You have no point. As usual.
    Evidently, my points are beyond your understanding.

    <>
     
  21. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Why would anyone make that their goal?
    Why would anyone think that anyone else wants to launch (launch??) an argument for atheism?

    I certainly found comparative religion an interesting aspect of anthropology and history, and it does provide a framework for current cultural trends. But a single reading of the English Standard Bible was quite sufficient to cure me of religion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  22. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    At a guess, probably because one is under the impression there is some value in taking what it has to say (or what one has to say on its behalf) seriously.
     
  23. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    If one had a reference for the the word "it", this sentence might have a meaning.
    Even if so, this sentence would not answer the question "Why would anyone make [launching an argument for atheism] their goal?"
    If one removed the qualifiers, thus:
    the sentence might make more sense, but still wouldn't answer the question
    "Why would anyone think that [ anyone else wants an argument for atheism]?"
    You see, atheism is a state of mind. It has nothing to say.
    Theism is a belief-system; a psychological condition; it doesn't talk, either.
    People may have quite a lot to say about either of those mental conditions. A study of their opinions and observations may be of some value in constructing an argument for or against those conditions, but would not render such an argument effective and relevant, since effectiveness and relevance are determined by the reader. For example, Freud's brilliant monograph, The Future of an Illusion was not well received by critics of his time.
     

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