Theists, motivation for aggression, non-theists and trust in matters of "God"

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by wynn, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    in buddhism The non-deluded perspective would generally be traced back to the buddha and knowledge transmitted teacher to student wouldn't it? Are mystical or experiential ideas from people not in line from the buddha valued in the east? i guess it is basically the priests putting it all together for everyone, and those who haven't received transmission from a teacher are not enlightened?
    sure, but then you have to include the secular perspective, which i feel is more amenable to me than to you. In other words, i am perfectly happy with contrasting religious ideas and secular ones, while you seem to insist on accepting one or the other, hence the problem with taking that step of faith - yours doesn't allow for questioning. I wouldn't take that step if i was told i couldn't question. I was, however, told that there was authority beyond my understanding, and THEN eventually one either has to trust the idea that they can see, or one has to say they are blind and forever will need a guide. Someone might call rebelling being "over-confident", but you are not looking at the long process from belief to doubt to belief-and-doubt. It takes time to realize your teacher is wrong, first you have to know enough to know what they are even saying, and that takes time - and that "rebellion" isn't always from confidence but sometimes comes from the necessity to drop things you believe are impossible. (What i am saying is no different from what i heard from a buddhist teacher recently who mentioned the conspiracies we have in our minds. He says people find out that the teachings make sense after following them.)
    you are denigrating other philosophical positions beyond it's position in people's lives, but i agree most people's respect for the sacred, mine too, is only part of their existence, although for me, for most of life, it is also the most meaningful "only part" of my existence.
    well if we have no trust in humanist knowledge then we are truly at the philosophical mercy of those who are religious enough to claim objective truth of God. Fortunately, enough people claim this and disagree with each other that I don't feel it is reasonable to expect all of them to be objectively correct, although it is possible they are all metaphorically correct, or correct in describing their experience. As far as humanism goes, i am not defining humanism as an all-compassionate "flowers for all humanity" philosophy, which is too far-reaching to describe humanism in general, as i understand it, as a historical development against the idea that humans have faulty perspectives by nature and everything they think is incorrect without correction by a religious leader or prophet.

    i would say that pre-destination is an unexplained idea, and a totally inaccurate image as explained. It proposes that God ordains everything that comes to pass in such a way that freewill is "established". (westminster confession of faith) That will make sense to me when someone explains it much better than anybody has so far that i have seen. Pre-destination is an idea that supposedly brings comfort to the flock, although when examined it can also bring incredible distress. Does God ordain that i drink some ice water right now, in order that i can choose to drink it? That is a difficult idea - definitely koan territory, not rational territory.
    The cornerstones of human rights are based on the idea that we are inherently, soul vs soul comparison, equal. I am not willing to give religion the ability to destroy basic human rights - that to me is an impossible place to stand, i.e. saying human ideas are wrong, not just my ideas at some point in my life. Of course, instead of requiring a paradox, this could easily just be seen as ,"you are wrong, the buddha is right because he wasn't like you." Apparently we still are not getting to the point here of how to trust yourself not to trust in yourself.
    if you want to talk about synthesis, then yes. It takes a creative mind, willing to move towards heresy, to do that. Most of what we think however is just a gallery of ideas we got from somewhere, not meshed together into something new, but rather coexisting with all the other ideas in our minds. Deciding between hinduism and something else for example, is clearly going to be done by assenting to external ideas (at least the ideas are external until they are your ideas).
    good luck with that idea. It doesn't explain everything, unless you are willing to suspend your perceptions and accept on faith, in whole not in part, everything a religion teaches. I wouldn't join one of those religions either (now). I wouldn't even go now to join the church i joined many years ago, but i am not upset i did it then.

    THE question is whether we should say, as Syne might suggest (i don't know), YOU will understand when YOU understand, along whatever path you follow, rather than saying, you will understand when you FOLLOW, nevermind needing to UNDERSTAND.
    EDIT - just to be clear i wasn't saying that syne might say, "i don't know", i doubt that would happen, i was saying he might ask for personal responsibility and a perspective of trust in oneself over being a follower.

    P.S. regarding the whip and horse idea, that assumes someone has the idea that they are the rider and you are the horse. Nobody contends that riders whipping each other makes a thoroughbred.
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    The Pali Canon has this to say on the matter:

    "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

    "Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them.

    Kalama Sutta

    Of course, the later Buddhist traditions have a different take on the matter.

    Perhaps I haven't been expressing myself clearly enough, or haven't extra-emphasized my points.

    My input is based on a rebellion against fideism, while at the same time acknowledging the possibility that fideism may be the only path for some people.

    I have found though that this point is extremely difficult to discuss with theists, as they tend to either avoid it, or resort to a mundane and trivial understanding of religion.

    The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help.

    I'd like to believe that, although I am sure that many will point out that I am not righteous, so why on earth should God listen to my cries.

    This question occured to me a while back: Does God want me to become a Hindu/Christian/whatever?
    Shouldn't God have a say in my religion? If I am supposed to build a relationship with God, then I think He definitely should have at least as much say in the matter as I do.
    Yet theistic religions typically present a unilateral approach to relationships, including to one's relationship with God. That strikes me as alienating. Now, if God is to be understood as "energy" or "force", while we are persons, allright, then it makes sense to think of one's relationship with God in terms of one's own choice in the matter being definitive. But between two persons, there needs to be direct communication for them to have a relationship.
    As I said in another thread - Having to trust self-declared representatives of God in all matters of "God" is much like being vicariously married, to a person one has never met, and interacting only with the spouse's lawyer (or at least a person who claims to be the spouse's lawyer), but never actually with the spouse.
    I can't be happy with such an arrangement, although there are theists who expect me to be.

    As we talked about earlier, there seems to be no entry point, no point of connection between myself and any of the main theisms.

    The thing is - it seems that one cannot understand unless one follows, and one cannot follow unless one understands.

    At least in previous discussions, Syne effectively took the stance of the hyperindividualist, placing all responsibility for one's life on the person themselves.
    I think that stance is extreme and unrealistic, although it seems to be characteristic for a phase after people have left a cult or after they have had a bad experience with organized religion - "The only way I am ever going to be safe is if I first figure out everything - everything - for myself, and only after that join a religious group. So I won't join any group until I first thoroughly figure out what they are."
    I myself had a phase like that, and I've known some other people who also had a phase like that.

    If you read the rest of the sutta, the analogy is used in a specific sense.
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  5. seagypsy Banned Banned

    I'm sorry for jumping in late and responding to a relatively old post. Especially if this has already been addressed.

    I am not a bible scholar but I think you may be mistaken. Have you read Proverbs 3:5 of the Christian Bible. My understanding of that verse indicates that trusting ones self is contradictory to having faith in "God".

    Proverbs 3:5
    New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.

    King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
    Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

    Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
    Hope in Lord Jehovah from your whole heart and do not trust upon the wisdom of your soul.

    King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding.

    Darby Bible Translation
    Confide in Jehovah with all thy heart, and lean not unto thine own intelligence;


    I don't have enough relevant experience with the eastern philosophies, but I found answers in the study of human psychology rather than faith. Though the science of the mind is still displaying a somewhat subjective appearance at this time, I believe there is plenty of room to consider all the intricate possibilities of human perception and our ability to create our own subjective realities. Making trust somewhat a moot point.

    Can't disagree with that. Especially since thinking at all is sometimes frowned upon in some faiths or spiritual interpretations of reality.

    I have to agree with Cole Grey. This is not a matter of science that can be "proven" true or false. This is a very subjective concept that wynn is questioning. One of psychology and the human ability to perceive something outside of self. As annoying as I usually find wynn, perhaps not always her fault, I sense sincerity on her part to try to understand something that so many of us, atheists and theists alike, take for granted without giving it more thought than is convenient to give. To mock the one who asks the questions or their less than instant grasp of the answers, shows a lack of maturity towards and lack respect for the process of learning.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2012
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  7. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    @seagypsy - i think your quote is entirely appropriate here, but in context of the chapter it is about holding off on believing in bad ideas you are having as a raw, inexperienced person, and needing to follow a path that will lead you to your eventual possession of the "gold" of wisdom, trusting in elders who say the ideas of God are going to be better for you than the ideas of your earthly desire. i don't think this passage needs to be extrapolated to include all thought as unreliable, an idea which at some point seems to require an arbitrary limit anyway for us to function. That is exactly the problem we are talking about here - figuring out when to say, "i should listen to someone else", and when to say, "i am right."

    I think this is really what needs to be explored by each of us. I personally feel that there would be non-rational parts and rational parts to a great religion, otherwise it is either a philosophy or a dogma. So we need to address the unknowable and/or unknown, while at the same time, not denying our human ability to see (it is not a delusion) that people should not be tortured for the "glory" of the church or God, and other humanist truths.
    i think if you do right God is already on your side, for whatever that is worth in this world, and questions of intellectual faith become less important. If someone were already sitting straight and breathing well, not wasting energy on over analysis of experience and thoughts of past and future, why would they need Zen? I think this is an important point, because it is always re-occurring to me that my "insight" and "extremely valuable" ideas are useless to those who don't need them. If a person isn't depressed or disturbed, how useful is sitting in therapy to them? A professional analysis of, "hello doctor, everything is going great, the kids are fine, had a nice dinner last night, see you next week," is a waste of time.
    that seems reasonable
    i think the analogy of an arranged marriage is entirely appropriate here. Like i mentioned before, the use of rationality along with religious ideas should be a kind of "pre-nuptial" agreement. Religions that don't allow for that are not trustworthy, in my opinion. I would say that "total commitment", should be allowed for in a religion at the point the phrase is deserved, not at the entry point. Christianity usually asks us to be totally committed after the first month or two of settling in. I disagree and think doubt should be called what it is, and only after God shows us that the path is good, should we say that the path IS good. Otherwise it is just bluster.

    This is where humanism steps in - you can ascertain which path disagrees with basic human rights, and also what seems to lead to "harm and suffering", and avoid it. Of course, you have to know something about the path to evaluate it, and some information about what is on the path is readily available for most religions.

    i was just pointing out that the thing people are in fact doing is assuming they are the rider and you the horse if they try to use the "whip", and expressing my distaste. I try to go by the statement that nobody learns anything they don't already know, or something to the effect that you can't teach people anything they don't want to learn, so there is no point trying to explain by force.
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    We were talking about trusting oneself specifically in relation to religious choice - ie. the choice of which religion to join to begin with.

    Christian proselytizers, too, tend to emphasize that it is our own responsibility to choose the right religion (or suffer eternal consequences for making the wrong choice). (But apparently after we have used our own faculties to determine the "right religion", we have to give up on those faculties, and "just trust God." - That doesn't make sense to me, but it doesn't stop some people from preaching it anyway ...)
  9. seagypsy Banned Banned

    I would be willing to share my interpretation of reality,and how I come to trust it, but only in private. And only if you don't scare easily.
  10. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Just like Christians tend to only think in terms of separation from god, their "trust in god" is an attempt to bridge that gap. If you can manage to compare the different senses of separation (from others in Eastern thought and from god in Western), both can be mistaken to include a self-denial, but both only do so to the extent of overcoming this separation.
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Not necessarily. Perhaps some religions are simply meant for one kind of people, but not for others. So those, for whom a particular religion is not meant, are bound to have problems with it, while, of course, those for whom it is meant, don't have problems with it.

    A humanist outlook would have us measure all religions by the same standards. It's not clear how this is a good idea.

    Not just an arranged marriage, but a vicarious marriage.

    (In Turkey, for example, it is possible to get married to a person who is not present there, but only whose legal representative is there.)

    Or perhaps they are just not trustworthy for some people, not trustworthy for you in particular, while for some others, they are.

    Some people do have a now-or-never, all-or-nothing mentality and they expect it also from a prospective religious organization, and they thrive in such organizations. Such people would be dismayed by a religious organization that would be more relativistic.

    Again, it's generally not pc to focus on elitism, exclusivism, hierarchy and such. But I think it is good to examine the uses of elitism, exclusivism, hierarchy and such.

    I think that understanding elitism and exclusivism can help one against wasting one's precious time on people and organizations that are a poor fit for oneself.

    When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you join a pack of hyenas, don't complain that they behave like hyenas and that they expect you to behave like one.

    While I tend to agree with your outlook, I am finding it a bit naive - and I'm learning that the hard way.
    I've read the phrase the other day "our inordinately complacent society." I think this is a very pertinent phrase. It's a dog-eat-dog world, and to expect that religious organizations should be fully exempt from it, it just plain naive, unrealistic. Sure, it would be nice if they would be exempt from it, but they are not. In fact, they may be the most dangerous places on earth.
    Spirituality is a gladiator sport.
  12. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    a humanist outlook would ask us to leave each other enough blood in our bodies instead of on the ground, along with food, air, and water, to figure it out for ourselves. The humanist ideal merely sets us onto a playing field where we can survive long enough to figure this out, it doesn't have to be the answer itself. Without it, we just have to see which religion buys enough land or kills enough infidels to be declared true. That is not truth.
    so the people never meet? sounds like a business deal, not a marriage, not that it is any of my business. I would say for many people, their experience of God can be called vicarious or not, based on their perception. That is just the way things are in this world, like water is wet. If anybody wants something beyond that, they have to become devout, which is not a path commonly used, certainly including people who say they are merely "tools of god's will". I used to try to get to that, but i realized that phrasing mostly comes from people who use it to describe cognitive agreement with a particular set of documents.
    sure. That is why i am not focused on world religions, or unitarianism, as a discipline, but rather as a source of information for my specific ideology. I am not going to pretend i am thinking about zen islam, or zen paganism.
    i would suggest that now-or-never is a pretty stupid way to come to terms with some things, the afterlife is one good example.
    Luckily, most people's greatness is balanced by their lack of greatness, so we don't have a society where a sense of fairness never developed.
    maybe the way you agree with my outlook is based on agreeing with an outlook that is naive. My outlook is quite wary, and unfortunately i probably give people less credit than i should. The mistake you have made is in thinking i see certain things as necessary and positive to do, and that they "naively" become part of my worldview, when i actually see them as unnecessary but pragmatic, or simply what i want to do. Most of these matters basically come down to making an active choice, because they are balanced or obscure enough that people who actually LOOK at these ideas don't come up with an empirical proof for a position, and must eventually just choose what to think. Some things you are forced to think, some things you choose to think, even if that means giving your choice over to the "experts" to make. The atheists and religious people who say, "this is the way to think" without understanding that they should be saying "choose this way", instead of "i prove this", are naive.
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Let's look into this, then:

    Which things, for example?

    Given the great promises that some religions make and the high expectations of trust that they have of prospective members, I think it would be reasonable to expect, in return, that these religions would take responsibility for delivering on those promises and to justify themselves as worthy of holding those expectations.
    Of course, in practice, they don't, but instead place the whole responsibility and blame on the prospective members.
    It's naive to even just hope for unconditional positive regard from religious organizations, even as they promise unconditional positive regard.

    Or they are simply better at playing the power game than you.

    For all practical intents and purposes, might makes right.
  14. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    the idea that people should be compassionate, the idea that belief in God is worthwhile even though confused, these things are not known realities, they are choices I make. I don't expect empirical proof that beating the dog is wrong, either. Just as an experiment, we could waste some time trying to empirically prove that beating a dog is a bad thing for us to do, but we will slide all over chasing the idea unless we just say, "i choose this, this is why, you should choose it as well." Making something against the law, or not making something against the law, doesn't make it right or wrong, so the appeal to a consensus is only pragmatic, not objective truth. What are the rights of each animal species? These ideas are arrived at by internal feelings that we don't need to do x and it benefits us not to, not by intellectual proof that x is wrong. The sooner we all come to terms with what is shown as opposed to what is felt, humans will have a less confusing dialogue about what is necessary and what is agreeable.

    It is funny that religion can't be a spectator sport, because it might be more appropriate to have professional religious teams full of the people who are most religious, while average people just wear the jersey with the team logo on it. Religion is like a professional ball game with no seats, only giant playing fields where everyone can join in. How organized can the game be? We are always stuck wondering whether religio-ball is a great game or not, because we play it like this. Martin Luther took down the seats for christians maybe. i am not saying it wasn't the right thing to do, but we probably can't just keep going like this, and we can't go back to giant churches whose members are treated as second class in God's eyes, dependent on a mediator to get to their mediator to get to God, but maybe that system had a more realistic idea of humanity. Maybe.
    if i say i am going to teach someone how to play guitar, i am certainly not responsible to get them to practice and actually learn to play, or maybe I am, otherwise i haven't done my job. This analogy makes me wonder if religion is not doomed to continued failure in its present form(s). The problem now is that we are still at the stage of just having figured out all the "no" we want to apply to previous era's concepts, and the philosophers and religious thinkers haven't given solutions, although it may only be that the last two hundred years of philosophers, religious and otherwise, haven't been accepted into religious ideologies yet.
    i don't believe religions promise this at all. Some promise unconditional regard from God, and then tell you what you must do to earn it, and never never would they promise unconditional regard from the members or leaders. The question is how important is a religion in the process of knowing God. The religious game is way too confusing at this point to offer more than an introduction, hence my distrust of systems.
    If they are just pretending to be naive to appear vulnerable. But they aren't. They believe they know. If i say, "i know what you are eating right now, it is a chinese moon-cake", and i happen to guess correctly, could we call that knowing? I won't. If you are saying truth is not important, only power, you are choosing one side of an unsolved argument that has been going on for a long time. People in the west are mainly on the other side of that argument, although the powerful people probably like that idea of necessity to relieve their responsibility.
    It doesn't really work that way in a society of free people, because they are always popping up, en masse, with those damn QUESTIONS, trying to get the mighty to explain WHY they are right.
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    There may have been a disconnect - we were talking about naivete, but it seems we were addressing different things by it.

    Sure, I find it distasteful as well to treat people as horses to be whipped. But the fact is that many people do that, many people in positions of power do it - and all too often, we have to accept that kind of treatment, or things get even worse for us.

    I don't think everyone can join in.
    People like me have been excluded literally from infancy on.

    Maybe humanism and notions of self-realization are too ambitious.

    But perhaps this is not the right analogy to begin with.

    Well, I've seen some quite, let's call them, ambitious programs. "To nurture and support in spiritual growth, to provide a safe environment" etc. etc.

    I still think that (organized) religion is alpha and omega in the process of knowing God, at least as far as ordinary people are concerned.

    Or they know they don't know, but present a strong front to the outside world.

    Ultimately, truth and power cannot be mutually exclusive.

    The problem is what do we do in the meantime, given that for all practical intents and purposes, truth seems to side with those not in position of power, and power seems to cling to those that are not particularly truthful.

    If the mighty really are mighty, then they don't have to care about answering questions.
    And if the mighty really are mighty, they can easily afford to lose a few thousand people here and there.
  16. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    of course as you like to say, ultimately God may be one of these other ways to be that i see as "crappy". If not, then the desire to know the truth, is in itself, something a decent God would honor, seeing as the reality that we exist in does not allow for proof. I don't see anything less holy bout a person honestly saying, "God, if you are there, i would like to know," than someone having been pulled by the hair through a belief they had been born into, and hold it because they don't know enough to have opposing input. Perhaps it is short-sighted to complain about how a lack of belief makes you uncomfortable - perhaps you are supposed to do something valuable with that, and you haven't finished doing it yet. I really don't know.

    Once we get past fighting about the "truths", it comes to this. Talking about your path or my path, and whether you are willing to do x or perhaps that will cause problems, etc etc. There is a reason why philosophy and religion and ethics are studied in the "humanities" in school. Once we get ideas of religion past, "don't kill me or control me", past those (hopefully) vestigial intellectual questions, things get much more fuzzy.
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Awww. This is so romantic!
  18. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    things don't get warm and fuzzy, just fuzzy. haha
  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Romance isn't necessarily warm. It can be ice-cold, like vampires.

    Besides, I meant "romantic" in the more historical sense, which has nothing to do with "romantic love."
  20. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    haha. Additionally, I think the problem we have isn't that people haven't figured things out, in the romantic era and otherwise, it is that other people are killing each other too quickly to spend enough time worrying about such insignificant things as the meaningfulness of life. The philosophy of the 20th century was pretty f*ing solid, but the killing in the 20th century eclipsed any sensibility with pragmatic fear, so the messages were mostly lost in the noise, and now here we are in the 21st century, thinking we have to figure it all out again, because our parents and grandparents were too busy trying not to be killed in wars (cold wars and otherwise) to pay enough attention to philosophers.
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

    Is the sum of your experience with romance from reading the Twilight books?
  22. seagypsy Banned Banned

    I always thought the word "romantic" was weird. We use it to describe feelings of love but I see the root word to be Roman and the suffix to tic... kinda like the word "pedantic" meaning to be like a pedant. Wouldn't romantic mean to be like a roman? our language is screwy as hell.

    Oh and then there is romance. also attributed to love but then we call languages of roman origin the romance languages .... go figure.
  23. Balerion Banned Banned

    It actually comes from romantique in French, which in turn comes from the French romant, meaning "a romance."

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