Is there any room for a God?

Bootie
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Is there any room for a God?

I'm new here - I do believe in some sort of God and I'm fascinated by other perspectives.  Although I was raised in a baptist church (and I am still very active in that church), my image of God is no longer defined by those biblical or traditional christian beliefs.  My image of God might be closer to something like Pantheism or Panentheism, although I admit I know very little about these.  They are simply the closest perspectives I have been able to find which line up closest to my ideas.

Most of the posts and arguments I see here seem to be debating those biblical and christian perspectives.  So my question for the atheists is, is there room for other perspectives of God for atheists?  Can there be a "rational" perspective of God, or is any belief in a higher power contradictory to atheism?


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Bootie wrote:I'm new here -

Bootie wrote:

I'm new here - I do believe in some sort of God and I'm fascinated by other perspectives.  Although I was raised in a baptist church (and I am still very active in that church), my image of God is no longer defined by those biblical or traditional christian beliefs.  My image of God might be closer to something like Pantheism or Panentheism, although I admit I know very little about these.  They are simply the closest perspectives I have been able to find which line up closest to my ideas.

Most of the posts and arguments I see here seem to be debating those biblical and christian perspectives.  So my question for the atheists is, is there room for other perspectives of God for atheists?  Can there be a "rational" perspective of God, or is any belief in a higher power contradictory to atheism?

Room for god where? If you mean in the minds of theist, then you tell me. If you mean anywhere other than individual minds then NO NO and NO! The second anything is taken without concrete evidence for the purposes of doing pretty well anything both science and logic break down. The world no longer makes a lick of sense because a god could, by definition, do whatever it wants contary to nature and the physical laws of the universe. If your god is one of the many major world religions then you have a whole can of political bullshit that is too much for sane people to weed out.

 

In short the only place for god is to be kept to yourself, never spoken of and never ever should affect your daily actions.


pauljohntheskeptic
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Bootie wrote:I'm new here -

Bootie wrote:

I'm new here - I do believe in some sort of God and I'm fascinated by other perspectives.

 

Welcome to the forums in any event.

Bootie wrote:

Although I was raised in a baptist church (and I am still very active in that church), my image of God is no longer defined by those biblical or traditional christian beliefs.  My image of God might be closer to something like Pantheism or Panentheism, although I admit I know very little about these.  They are simply the closest perspectives I have been able to find which line up closest to my ideas.

This seems to suggest that you have problems letting go of structure or you are afraid to express your beliefs to those around you. Christian belief as in Baptist expression would seem to be quite different then what you claim to accept and most Christians would consider you to be a heretic, a hypocrite or simply a non-believer at least as far as the Christian god is concerned.

Bootie wrote:

Most of the posts and arguments I see here seem to be debating those biblical and christian perspectives.  So my question for the atheists is, is there room for other perspectives of God for atheists?  Can there be a "rational" perspective of God, or is any belief in a higher power contradictory to atheism?

 

In my case, I am an equal opportunity non-believer. I see no reason to believe in any god at all as no evidence exists. The addition of a god to the equation needlessly adds complications and in fact contradicts observation we have made of our Universe. As an ex-Christian that has studied religion and theology extensively admittedly I have a special disdain for all the god of Abe religions but I also consider all other god beliefs to be rooted in fantasy and delusion. Pantheism and panentheism are just as unfounded in observed reality today as they were in ancient times. Any belief in a god whether it be all is god or we are all gods is unfounded in observed reality and hence is not rational.

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"I guess it's time to ask if you live under high voltage power transmission lines which have been shown to cause stimulation of the fantasy centers of the brain due to electromagnetic waves?" - Me

"God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, - it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks please. Cash and in small bills." - Robert A Heinlein.


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Bootie wrote:Can there be a

Bootie wrote:
Can there be a "rational" perspective of God, or is any belief in a higher power contradictory to atheism?
Atheism is the lack of belief in god(s).  So, yes, any belief in a 'higher power' is exactly contradictory to atheism.  I have yet to see a rational perspective of god (not sure exactly what you mean there), which is to say that I have never been presented with a coherent god-concept.  There is simply no reason to believe that any being exists and ample reasons to outright reject even the possibility that any such beings exist.

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Welcome to the forum!Bootie

Welcome to the forum!

Bootie wrote:
So my question for the atheists is, is there room for other perspectives of God for atheists?  Can there be a "rational" perspective of God, or is any belief in a higher power contradictory to atheism?

You might need to explain what you mean by higher power. In any case, to be an atheist is to not believe in any god or gods, so clearly, if one believes in a God, then one is, by definition, not an atheist. I'm also curious concerning what you mean by, "is there room for other perspectives of God for atheists." I would say that I'm quite agnostic about there being a "beginning," or perhaps, there being a "creator" of the universe, but everything beyond that claim, including the assertion that the cause must be intelligent, becomes progressively more incoherent and fallacious.

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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There could indeed be beings

There could indeed be beings of vastly more power than us in the Universe, but there is no logical way a 'higher' being could be the ultimate origin or 'creator' of everything, since that would not explain their origin. There is no technical or logical reason that requires the 'first cause' to be conscious or greater in any way than the Universe. The Universe we know today is greater in size and complexity than the original 'singularity' it is currently believed to have grown from.

So there is technically 'room' for a non-infinite 'higher power', but not for a sentient creator, let alone an infinite one.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Lots of replies - I'll

Lots of replies - I'll respond to this one and try to include responses to other replies. 

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:

Bootie wrote:

Although I was raised in a baptist church (and I am still very active in that church), my image of God is no longer defined by those biblical or traditional christian beliefs.  My image of God might be closer to something like Pantheism or Panentheism, although I admit I know very little about these.  They are simply the closest perspectives I have been able to find which line up closest to my ideas.

This seems to suggest that you have problems letting go of structure or you are afraid to express your beliefs to those around you. Christian belief as in Baptist expression would seem to be quite different then what you claim to accept and most Christians would consider you to be a heretic, a hypocrite or simply a non-believer at least as far as the Christian god is concerned.


Yes, MOST Christians would.  I feel fortunate that I am a part of a church with a very progressive theology - one which is accepting and open to other perspectives of God.  There is no fear of "letting go" or expressing my beliefs there - I talk frequently with others there about my beliefs and perspectives.  Admittedly, churches and organized religion in general have their problems, but there is also a lot of good which comes from them.  The acceptance of different ideas and the good which can come from a "healthy" church are the reasons I stay involved there.

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:

Bootie wrote:

Most of the posts and arguments I see here seem to be debating those biblical and christian perspectives.  So my question for the atheists is, is there room for other perspectives of God for atheists?  Can there be a "rational" perspective of God, or is any belief in a higher power contradictory to atheism?

In my case, I am an equal opportunity non-believer. I see no reason to believe in any god at all as no evidence exists. The addition of a god to the equation needlessly adds complications and in fact contradicts observation we have made of our Universe. As an ex-Christian that has studied religion and theology extensively admittedly I have a special disdain for all the god of Abe religions but I also consider all other god beliefs to be rooted in fantasy and delusion. Pantheism and panentheism are just as unfounded in observed reality today as they were in ancient times. Any belief in a god whether it be all is god or we are all gods is unfounded in observed reality and hence is not rational.


"Lack of evidence" doesn't seem like a valid reason to excuse any theory, idea or belief in anything.  Did the planets not exist until someone actually discovered them?  Does the next new, yet undiscovered species of life not exist until is is discovered?  That seems quite irrational in itself, and I would need some help understanding that kind of reasoning. 

You mention "observed reality".  What about outside this observed reality?  I believe there is something more beyond this reality we are a part of and I would certainly not limit any concept of God to reside strictly within this one, of which we have limited understanding and comprehension. 

As for evidence, is "Life" not enough?  Is the fact that this reality exists at all not evidence enough?  It is for me.  That is where I find God.  I mean, what is Life??  Where did that come from?  Is it simply a chemical reaction?  Even if you believe that's all it is, take some carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc... and mix it all together - even if we can replicate Life in a lab, that still makes it no less magical.  What makes an acorn grow into an Oak tree?  (I'm certainly not suggesting there's some deity with a singular-conscience pointing a finger at the acorn and directing it, or anything else).  Nature, or Life, at it's most fundamental level - that single property which defines something as being alive rather than not - is miraculous.  Life lives and breathes, grows and reproduces, it evolves and learns and makes itself better.  There is something mysterious and magical about Life and the very fact that we exist at all. 

Regardless of whether there is a deity that is aware of my worship or not, that is not important to me.  The worship of God, to me, is simply the appreciation of Life and the recognition of the crazy miracle it is, and the gratitude that I exist at all.  It is finding appreciation that I live and breathe and have consciousness and that this reality - even though it cannot be understood - exists.  When I sit in church and watch/listen to a string quartet playing, I see God in the wood of the instruments which came from a living tree which came from a seed which evolved over millions of years from something before it.  I see God in the bow strings which came from horse hair which evolved from something before it.  I see God in the very fact that Life has evolved from a wad of goo on the ocean floor to a form that is capable to make such beautiful music, and that I exist to hear and enjoy it.


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Problem with saying  'is

Problem with saying  'is there room for god' is what you define as god

If you define god as 'the wonders both known and unknown in the universe' yeah than sure you can call that god if you want. If that definition of god becomes common English usage then I say cease to be an atheist. This was basically Einstein's god

But if you want to define god as 'basically a perfect aware entity with all power, who loves you , listens to you and changes the universe when he thinks its a good idea' then science has pretty much shown thats totally absurd and there is no room for that view in any rational person. This is generally the defintion then I take most theists to have

 


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Hi Bootie. Welcome to the

Hi Bootie. Welcome to the forums.

I won't adress the questions you posed directly the Paul John's quotes, but just let him speak for himself, but there are some things I feel like commenting on in your post.

Bootie wrote:
As for evidence, is "Life" not enough?  Is the fact that this reality exists at all not evidence enough?

I think I know what you mean by this, but even so, examine what you said: "Is it not evidence enough?".

One has to ask to that: "evidence of what?"

Evidence of wonder? Evidence of awe? Gratitude?

From our perspective (that is, yours and mine) sure. But that is a fundamentaly subjective perspective. A rock is as much a part of this reality as us, and all other life, but I doubt it feels wonder or gratitude of it's own existence.

What I'm saying is, how could we not, as sentient contemplative beings, feel wonder and awe about our own existence. It is really no wonder that we do... You see?

So it isn't so much evidence that life is wonderful as it is evidence that we are sentient, contemplative, and subjective beings. If life wasn't around to apreciate itself life wouldn't be wonderful.

 

Bootie wrote:
even if we can replicate Life in a lab, that still makes it no less magical.

I know what you mean here. I think you and I are very likeminded people. I too am of a poetic sort of disposition, and I too think life is magical. Or rather, I think it is wonderful. Those two words, magical, and wonderful are interchangeble, when I say them and you say them, but I don't believe that there is such a thing as magic.

I believe, indeed I know there is a word: "magical", and I don't mind using it from time to time, but that is just poetic expression. Not a matter-of-fact statement about the state of the universe.

When you use the word "magical", are you saying life is magically created by a great wizard (God), or are you merely expressing your gratitude and wonder for being alive?

I get the impression that you are really saying the latter, and yet you are somehow trying to make that an argument for the former. You see? I don't think you are disagreeing with people like me nearly as much as you think. We are just talking across purposes.

Bootie wrote:
Nature, or Life, at it's most fundamental level - that single property which defines something as being alive rather than not - is miraculous.  Life lives and breathes, grows and reproduces, it evolves and learns and makes itself better.  There is something mysterious and magical about Life and the very fact that we exist at all.

Miraculous. Mysterious. Yet more words that you use to descripe something that I too find fantastic and wonderful (miraculous) and impossible to truly comprehend (mysterious), and yet you are talking as though I, the atheist, and you, the theist, don't agree on this. We do. We just use different words.

Mind you, we don't even necessarily use different words. I don't mind calling life, the Universe and everything miraculous and mysterious. It just depends on who I'm talking to. Here in Denmark nobody I know are religious, so words like that are taken for what they are when I say them: poetic expression. When talking to people from different religious backgrounds I try to word my own sense of wonder differently, so as not to give the impression that I believe in actual magic, but the point remains the same.



Bootie wrote:
Regardless of whether there is a deity that is aware of my worship or not, that is not important to me.  The worship of God, to me, is simply the appreciation of Life and the recognition of the crazy miracle it is, and the gratitude that I exist at all.

I do this all the time. I feel gratitude and happiness for being here. And I too, don't much care wether there is a deity that is aware of my "worship" at all.

How is it that we are different again?

I celebrate Christmas every year. I highly doubt that there was ever an actual person that was Jesus Christ of the Bible. More likely the character is a mixture of myth, and various "urban legends" of ancient Palestine.

But Christmas is part of my family tradition and I thouroughly enjoy being together with all of them and enjoying all our special family traditions, like decorating the tree with the things we made when we were kids, and having the special family dinner that has to include all the trappings that are always there and are unique to my family because they've been passed down for generations, to making new decorations with my nieces and nephews that will be on their trees until they are in their twenties like I am now.

You see, it's all part of a perfectly natural, and wonderful need for me to strenghen the bonds with my kin, just like any social animal would do. It is no less magical to me, just because it has a perfectly natural explanation. Indeed. Natural is a word that to me, doesn't mean much. After all, if we are all God, or if God is an old Jewish guy on a cloud, isn't that natural too?

I mean, to me, nature is just another word for reality. That which exists in reality is natural. It is part of our universe. If it is not part of our universe, then it is not part of reality, and therefore, it is not real. Supernatural is, to me, a selfcontradiction: something which exists outside of reality is, by definition, not real.

If there is anything that could be called God, then it must be part of reality, and if it is, then it must be subject to the same need for explanation as anything else in reality. We don't explain the unexplainable. We wait until we can explain it, through better scientific observation, or we say that which needs to be said about the unknown: "I don't know".

Why not do the same with God?

 

I wrote some replies to some other people that struck a similar chord with me as you have done. I'll try and find the links, and post them here. Maybe you'd like to read them.

Well I was born an original sinner
I was spawned from original sin
And if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin


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Hello again. I could only

Hello again.

 

I could only find this for now: http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/15475

My reply to this guy expands on the points I've made here.

Well I was born an original sinner
I was spawned from original sin
And if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin


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Uh. You're asking the wrong

Uh. You're asking the wrong question.

Is there 'room' for any concept, magical deities included, within the purview of science? Absolutely.

Now, the important question: Is there testable evidence of magical deities, in order to bring them into the purview of science? No. Absolutely not.

 

This issue is confused by proponents of the supernatural time after time after time. Science isn't some grandiose bureaucracy that says, "Okay; ghosts. witches, deities, goblins, etc are all outside the realm of scientific study," it's an epistemology that a person may choose to be steered by that takes any claim at all and says, "Okay; that's very interesting. Let's see the evidence and start testing it."

 

 

 

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"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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Bootie wrote: "Lack of

Bootie wrote:

"Lack of evidence" doesn't seem like a valid reason to excuse any theory, idea or belief in anything.

That depends on what you mean by "excuse."

Quote:
Did the planets not exist until someone actually discovered them?  Does the next new, yet undiscovered species of life not exist until is is discovered?  That seems quite irrational in itself, and I would need some help understanding that kind of reasoning.

True, evidence allows us to decide whether something exists; it did not determine its existence. Reality is independent of our claims on it. So, what do you feel is the correct position to take on claims for which there is no evidence?

Quote:
You mention "observed reality".  What about outside this observed reality?

I don't possess knowledge for anything outside of this observed reality, and neither do you.

Quote:
I believe there is something more beyond this reality...

Why do you believe that? Also, how would you know anything about it?

Quote:
As for evidence, is "Life" not enough?  Is the fact that this reality exists at all not evidence enough?  It is for me. That is where I find God.

How?

Quote:
I mean, what is Life??

http://www.rationalresponders.com/third_revolution

Quote:
Where did that come from?

I don't understand your question. Please expand.

Quote:
Is it simply a chemical reaction?

What do you think a chemical reaction is?

Quote:
Even if you believe that's all it is, take some carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc... and mix it all together - even if we can replicate Life in a lab, that still makes it no less magical.

Why is it magical? Because you don't understand it?

Quote:
What makes an acorn grow into an Oak tree?  (I'm certainly not suggesting there's some deity with a singular-conscience pointing a finger at the acorn and directing it, or anything else).

That's not a question that can be answered with a few sentences in an online forum.

Quote:
Nature, or Life, at it's most fundamental level - that single property which defines something as being alive rather than not - is miraculous.

What do you mean by miraculous?

Quote:
Life lives and breathes, grows and reproduces, it evolves and learns and makes itself better.  There is something mysterious and magical about Life and the very fact that we exist at all.

Mysterious? Yes. Magical? What is magical? 

Quote:
Regardless of whether there is a deity that is aware of my worship or not, that is not important to me.  The worship of God, to me, is simply the appreciation of Life and the recognition of the crazy miracle it is, and the gratitude that I exist at all.  It is finding appreciation that I live and breathe and have consciousness and that this reality - even though it cannot be understood - exists.  When I sit in church and watch/listen to a string quartet playing, I see God in the wood of the instruments which came from a living tree which came from a seed which evolved over millions of years from something before it.  I see God in the bow strings which came from horse hair which evolved from something before it.  I see God in the very fact that Life has evolved from a wad of goo on the ocean floor to a form that is capable to make such beautiful music, and that I exist to hear and enjoy it.

"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" Douglas Adams

 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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booyle wrote:"Lack of

booyle wrote:
"Lack of evidence" doesn't seem like a valid reason to excuse any theory, idea or belief in anything.  Did the planets not exist until someone actually discovered them?  Does the next new, yet undiscovered species of life not exist until is is discovered?  That seems quite irrational in itself, and I would need some help understanding that kind of reasoning.

Not sure what you mean by 'excuse', but lack of evidence means there is no reason to accept a theory. Until there is some actual evidence to support it, no idea about reality deserves to be taken as true. There are an infinite number of ideas one could dream up which felt like they would be, or might be true, but they certainly can't all be true, so it would be literally insane to assume they are all true until disproved.

Lack of evidence is a perfecctly valid reason for not taking any theory seriously.

It certainly does not mean things imagined in the theory do not exist, just that until we have at least some evidence for them it would be foolish to base any other therories or actions on the assumption that they did. This is not that same as saying they don't exist. What we say when we have no evidence for something that is at least theoretically possible, such as undiscovered planets or life-forms, is ' We don't know'.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Bootie

Bootie wrote:
pauljohntheskeptic wrote:
Bootie wrote:

Most of the posts and arguments I see here seem to be debating those biblical and christian perspectives.  So my question for the atheists is, is there room for other perspectives of God for atheists?  Can there be a "rational" perspective of God, or is any belief in a higher power contradictory to atheism?

In my case, I am an equal opportunity non-believer. I see no reason to believe in any god at all as no evidence exists. The addition of a god to the equation needlessly adds complications and in fact contradicts observation we have made of our Universe. As an ex-Christian that has studied religion and theology extensively admittedly I have a special disdain for all the god of Abe religions but I also consider all other god beliefs to be rooted in fantasy and delusion. Pantheism and panentheism are just as unfounded in observed reality today as they were in ancient times. Any belief in a god whether it be all is god or we are all gods is unfounded in observed reality and hence is not rational.

"Lack of evidence" doesn't seem like a valid reason to excuse any theory, idea or belief in anything.

This attitude would leave you believing in all sorts of random things which lack evidence. Do you believe in the teapot currently in orbit around the Sun, somewhere between Jupiter and Mars? No? Why not?

I presume you don't believe in unicorns, Santa, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc. Why not?

Quote:
Did the planets not exist until someone actually discovered them?  Does the next new, yet undiscovered species of life not exist until is is discovered?  That seems quite irrational in itself, and I would need some help understanding that kind of reasoning.

That is not the 'kind of reasoning' we are proposing. We are not saying X doesn't exist until I see evidence for it. We are saying, there's no good reason to believe X does exist before I see evidence for it, and so your claim that X *does* exist, without any evidence, is entirely unconvincing.

Therefore, there is no good reason to believe god exists until someone can present evidence it does.

What you are talking about is the Unknown. Sure, the Unknown exists. But it is the Unknown, so how can you say you know anything about it? It is unknown, after all. To say you know something about the unknown is irrational. And that includes any kind of specific details about it.

For example, before the planets were discovered, imagine someone saying, "Hey, I believe that some of those lights up in the sky are giant spheres of matter, orbiting the Sun." Without the *evidence* that someone like Copernicus collected and analyzed, there would be no reason to agree with this idea. It took *evidence* to convince people it was true. There was no good reason to believe before the evidence was collected.

Now, perhaps there is life out there in the stars. I happen to think there is. But I base my belief on what meager evidence we have about how life started down here on Earth, plus the large amounts of evidence we have about the composition and structure of the universe, plus the ever-increasing amounts of evidence we have about extra-solar planets being discovered in recent months/years.

And even then, I don't positively believe there is life with a high degree of certainty. I certainly don't make strong claims about how much there is, whether it is intelligent or not, etc. We simply don't have the evidence yet to support that kind of certainty.

But when someone says, "I believe there is life out there, and not only that, I also believe that it has visited Earth, crashed at Roswell, and takes the form of little grey people with large black eyes," that's a claim that I will demand evidence for. There is no good evidence to support that claim.

It all comes down to your attitude towards the Unknown. If you respect the Unknown, and appreciate that it truly is unknown, and therefore you cannot make claims about it, then you are being rational about it. But if you don't respect the limits of your knowledge, and you start making claims about the Unknown that you do not have evidence to support, then you are being irrational. Evidence is the key.

So, if you are a pantheist, or a panentheist, then you must realize that all you are doing is slapping on the label of G-o-d onto the Unknown. The pantheist, such as Einstein, can acknowledge that, call it a metaphor, and a poetic way of speaking, and be at peace. But I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that the panentheist makes an additional claim that the Unknown has a mind, or is a mind. That's taking a step too far. That's making a claim to know something about the Unknown.

The Universe has a mind, actually, it has many billions of minds that we know of. They are called human brains. If you want to expand your concept of mind a bit, you might include the minds of other animals, and you might say, "Maybe there are other minds out there, alien intelligences." That's fine, maybe there are. But we don't *know* that yet, and we won't know until we gather enough evidence to support that claim.

We are the only mind of the universe that we know of. Any claims beyond that demand evidence, and it is irrational to believe them without that evidence. Speculation is fine, it is positive belief claims that are the problem.

Maybe Yoda did exist a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, but to believe that without evidence would be silly.

If you want to call the Universe, or the Unkown, 'god', then I ask you, why don't you just call it the Universe, or the Unknown? Why slap on that 'god' label? What value does it have? It only adds confusion. That's why Einstein is constantly misquoted by theists, as if he believed in the same god they do.

And if you realize that 'god' is a useless label, then you don't have to be a pantheist anymore. You can instead just look at the universe around you and say, "Wow! That's an amazing universe, and it's all natural. Simply amazing." There is no need for the 'god' label at all. In fact, the 'god' label cheapens the experience, it cheapens the wonder. It tries to deify the Unknown, to protect it from scrutiny.

But the real path to appreciation of the universe and the unknown is not to hide it under a cloak of mystery, but to bring it out into the open, to explore and discover it, to continually ask questions and seek real answers. The universe, as it is, is more wonderous than any 'god' I have ever heard of.

So, for me, no, there is no room for 'god'. The Universe, and the Unknown (which together I call the Cosmos), are enough for me. There is nothing to gain from slapping on a label in an attempt to foolishly cloak it all in unchallengeable mystery. Mystery is something to uncover and explore. For every mystery you solve, a dozen more mysteries are discovered. The true path to wonder is to reject the 'god' label and realize that it's just obscuring the Unknown, and to seek to know the Unknown as much as possible (for example by studying it with science, and gathering evidence to support ideas).

Quote:
You mention "observed reality".  What about outside this observed reality?  I believe there is something more beyond this reality we are a part of and I would certainly not limit any concept of God to reside strictly within this one, of which we have limited understanding and comprehension.

This is an example of what I'm talking about. You are overstepping the limits of what you know. If there is a reality outside this one, then it is an aspect of the Unknown, and so it makes no sense to say you *believe* it is there. You have no evidence of it. You cannot claim to know the Unknown, that's just silly.

There may be a reality outside this one. There may not be. We don't know, and neither do you. Stop pretending that you do.

The truth is that observable reality is the only reality we will ever know, for to know something requires observing evidence of it. 'Unobservable' reality can never be known, by definition.

Imagine this for a moment. Let's just say that this happens to be the only reality there is. Maybe that's true, right? So, if this reality is the only one that exists, and you go about pretending you know about some *other* reality, then you certainly are *not* respecting 'god' (i.e. the universe, what exists). By believing in a non-existent reality, you are devaluing *actual* existence. You are essentially worshipping your own imagination, which is the most egotistical thing I can imagine.

Now, again, there's nothing wrong with *speculation*. Maybe there is actually another reality outside this. Nothing wrong with pondering that possibility. It is pretending that you *know* anything about it that is the problem. The only way to learn about this other reality is to gather evidence of it. And all the proposed evidence that I've ever seen has always turned out to be people making stuff up out of their imaginations and worshipping it. The Bible, the Quran, ghost-hunters, UFOlogists, 'psychics', new agers, etc. None of their 'evidence' stands up to the mildest scientific scrutiny. And yet they believe... It's really sad.

Quote:
As for evidence, is "Life" not enough?

Life is a natural phenomenon. We understand it with science. There is no evidence that it is supernatural in any way. So, 'life' is wonderous and amazing, but it is evidence that *the universe* is wonderous and amazing. There is no need for any 'god' to enter the picture.

Quote:
Is the fact that this reality exists at all not evidence enough?

Existence exists. Why does that surprise you? How could existence *not* exist? It's a self-defeating idea.

Existence existing is evidence that it exists. It is not evidence for anything else, especially not a 'god'.

Quote:
It is for me.  That is where I find God.

You found God?!?! Amazing! Where is he/it? Let me see your evidence! This is amazing, I would love to see your evidence of God.

(Oh, wait. You don't have any, right?)

Quote:
  I mean, what is Life??

Self-replicating chemisty.

Quote:
  Where did that come from?

As far as we know, it originated here on Earth. We don't know exactly how yet, but we have some ideas and we are busily searching for evidence. Until we have sufficient evidence, all we can say is, "We don't know all the details yet."

Quote:
  Is it simply a chemical reaction?

I wouldn't call it simple! It is very complex! But yes, it is a chemical reaction. Just a very complex and sophisticated one, that self-replicates, evolves, and so has developed over billions of years into what we see today. Quite amazing, actually, that the natural universe can give rise to such complexity through the simple process of evolution. But our evidence shows that it indeed does so. And there's no evidence to show that it doesn't.

Quote:
  Even if you believe that's all it is, take some carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc... and mix it all together - even if we can replicate Life in a lab, that still makes it no less magical.

Correction: No less *wondrous*. 'Magic' is like 'god'. It is merely a label that adds nothing and just creates confusion. There is no need for anything supernatural to explain life. And yes, I agree, explaining life in terms of chemistry does not make it any less wondrous. Just like explaining the recipe for a cake doesn't make it taste any less sweet.

Quote:
What makes an acorn grow into an Oak tree?

Matter, energy, phsycial forces, genetic code, proteins, carbohydrates, and millions of years of evolution. No 'god' necessary.

Quote:
  (I'm certainly not suggesting there's some deity with a singular-conscience pointing a finger at the acorn and directing it, or anything else).  Nature, or Life, at it's most fundamental level - that single property which defines something as being alive rather than not - is miraculous.  Life lives and breathes, grows and reproduces, it evolves and learns and makes itself better.  There is something mysterious and magical about Life and the very fact that we exist at all.

No, there is nothing mysterious or magical about it. There is plenty that's unknown and wondrous about it, though. Nature is natural (hence my username). You should not be surprised that life exists, because otherwise you wouldn't be around to ponder its existence (see my signature at the end of this post).

You seem to be looking at all the world around you and saying, "It's so amazing. I experience such a sense of wonder..." And with this I can wholeheartedly agree with you. But then you make the non sequitur, "Therefore it must all be mysterious magic!" No. It is only the Unknown. The Unknown can be investigated and discovered and we can learn from it. But when you wrap it in a sheild of 'mystery', you have failed. Instead of embracing that wonder, and using it to drive you toward greater understanding, you have locked it in a box. Your curiosity has been stifled, stymied, inhibited, neutered.

Instead, I would say to you, embrace your wonder. 'Wonder' also means to ask questions: To wonder. Any time you wall off a part of the Unkown to 'protect' it from questioning, you are betraying your wonder. You are failing to wonder, failing to ask questions.

Here's a couple questions for you: We know a lot about life, how it works, etc., and all we have ever found have been natural explanations for it. What additional power do we gain by wrapping it up in 'mystery'? We can admire it, and experience wonder, but what does the label 'mystery' add? Doesn't 'mystery' and 'magic' imply that we *cannot* know the answers to our questions? And if we *cannot* know, then why should we bother investigating? Why should we bother trying to unravel the mystery, if the mystery cannot be solved? And how do you *know* that the mystery cannot be solved?

If you ignore these questions, and just say, "I just *know* it's all a big mystery!" then you are failing to face these questions head-on. You are failing to wonder. You are inventing 'knowledge' that you do not actually possess. We don't know everything about life, but we also don't know that it's all a big mystery. In fact, the more we investigate, with science, the more we learn, so it is very clear that we *can* learn the answers to our questions. And the more we learn, the *more* questions and unknowns we discover, and the *more* wonder we experience.

Trying to protect the 'mysteries' of the world is actually counter productive. It squashes learning and stops us from uncovering even *deeper* unknowns.

True wonder involves relentlessly asking questions and seeking to learn the answers. And when we find some answers, we can appreciate what we've learned, and use this new nugget of knowledge to lead us to more questions, and more learning.

Mystery and magic add *nothing* to this endeavour. In fact they hinder it.

Quote:
Regardless of whether there is a deity that is aware of my worship or not, that is not important to me.  The worship of God, to me, is simply the appreciation of Life and the recognition of the crazy miracle it is, and the gratitude that I exist at all.

You do not need the word 'god' to have this appreciation. God is imaginary, wonder is real.

Quote:
  It is finding appreciation that I live and breathe and have consciousness and that this reality - even though it cannot be understood - exists.

See? This is what I mean. This reality *can* be understood. We are learning more and more about it everyday. Trying to lock up our understanding, to place a taboo on discovery, does nothing for us. Pretending that you know that reality cannot be understood is hypocritical and wrong.

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  When I sit in church and watch/listen to a string quartet playing, I see God in the wood of the instruments which came from a living tree which came from a seed which evolved over millions of years from something before it.  I see God in the bow strings which came from horse hair which evolved from something before it.  I see God in the very fact that Life has evolved from a wad of goo on the ocean floor to a form that is capable to make such beautiful music, and that I exist to hear and enjoy it.

I see all of these things and I see the wonder in them. But I don't slap on the word 'god'. God is imaginary, wonder is real. You seem to think that only this word 'god' can evoke these feelings. You are wrong. It is just a word. The feeling of wonder is itself a wonder of nature. It is a natural emotion that *all* humans can feel, including atheists. Theists, pantheists, and panentheists do not have some sort of monopoly on wonder. All they have are silly words that they cloak real wonder up in, and silly taboos against questions, paradoxically stunting their own senses of wonder, even as they try to 'protect' it.

Just drop the word 'god', and you can retain all that feeling and emotion and wonder without the baggage that comes along with that word. Trust me, you won't miss it one bit. I was a pantheist of sorts myself (actually a panpsychist) for several years before I realized that I was just inventing answers for questions which I did not actually have answers to. I was pretending to know the Unknown. I stopped. I lost nothing in the process.

I encourage you to try looking at the universe and all the wonders and unknowns in it without using the word 'god' for any of it. Any time you are tempted to use the word 'god', replace it with 'unknown'. Learn to embrace the uknown without fear. You already admitted we are limited creatures with limited knowledge, so of course there is going to be a lot of unknowns out there. There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing to fear. We don't know, and that's okay. Why is the universe here? I don't know. Why do I exist as I am, rather than as some other form? I don't know. I don't have to pretend that I know that some mysterious 'god' is responsible.

How did life begin? I don't know. Not scary at all. In fact, it is quite liberating.

One of the great things about admitting you don't know so many different things is that is sparks your natural urge to *learn*. This is the natural urge to wonder. The next step after admitting you don't know is to simply let yourself feel that wondering feeling.

How does this 'simple' chemistry form such amazing and complex life? I don't know. Hmm. I wonder how it does! Let me go and find out!

The more you learn about these various topics, the more wonder you will feel. As the old saying goes, the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know.

I hope you try this little exercise in earnest, maybe for like a week or two. It can't really hurt, can it? Good luck.

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Bootie wrote:Can there be a

Bootie wrote:

Can there be a "rational" perspective of God, or is any belief in a higher power contradictory to atheism?

Well...first off, atheism isn't a religion, it's just a lack of belief in any kind of god. Atheists are technically speaking individual thinkers, not part of any specific belief system.

That being said, the answer to your question is no. Try this on for size:

Can there be a "rational" perspective of The Invisible Pink Unicorn, or is any belief in a higher power contradictory to non-belivers in the Pink Unicorn?

That is how every argument for a god looks to us, simply because there is no evidence for a god and no good reason to think there is one.

*Our world is far more complex than the rigid structure we want to assign to it, and we will probably never fully understand it.*

"Those believers who are sophisticated enough to understand the paradox have found exciting ways to bend logic into pretzel shapes in order to defend the indefensible." - Hamby


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Bootie, check out the video

Bootie, check out the video in this post: http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/17361

That's how I see the label 'god'. It's a label that you slap onto things that you don't know, but pretend to know.

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Bootie wrote: I feel

Bootie wrote:

 I feel fortunate that I am a part of a church with a very progressive theology - one which is accepting and open to other perspectives of God.  There is no fear of "letting go" or expressing my beliefs there - I talk frequently with others there about my beliefs and perspectives.  

It's interesting that a Baptist Church would show acceptance to someone that might only consider god to be the all and possibly dismissive of the primary message which usually is Jesus died for you and me. Possibly I'm not exactly clear on what you actually believe or maybe you really didn't explain it to the members of your church. If you don't accept Jesus as your savior which you really wouldn't need as a panetheist than why would you be accepted?

Bootie wrote:


"Lack of evidence" doesn't seem like a valid reason to excuse any theory, idea or belief in anything.  Did the planets not exist until someone actually discovered them?  Does the next new, yet undiscovered species of life not exist until is is discovered?  That seems quite irrational in itself, and I would need some help understanding that kind of reasoning.  

I think several others have explained this so I won't beat you over the head. If you have no testable evidence then there is no reason to accept a claim. If I tell you that Earth was a colony planet from the star system Alpha Cen A because it was revealed to me, you should demand evidence. 

Bootie wrote:


You mention "observed reality".  What about outside this observed reality?  I believe there is something more beyond this reality we are a part of and I would certainly not limit any concept of God to reside strictly within this one, of which we have limited understanding and comprehension.  

Well, good luck in making a presentation of that which occurs outside reality as to most that is in the land of fantasy. One can consider possibilities but if one can't detect or produce testable evidence then it is irrational at best to hold such a belief especially if you use it for the basis of your life. Generally those with god beliefs need to have the god reside outside of reality as there is no evidence for one within. If it's outside of perception, the claim can be you just can't perceive him because he's not detectable. See the problem?

Bootie wrote:


As for evidence, is "Life" not enough?  Is the fact that this reality exists at all not evidence enough?  It is for me.  That is where I find God.  I mean, what is Life??  Where did that come from?  Is it simply a chemical reaction?  Even if you believe that's all it is, take some carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc... and mix it all together - even if we can replicate Life in a lab, that still makes it no less magical.  What makes an acorn grow into an Oak tree?  (I'm certainly not suggesting there's some deity with a singular-conscience pointing a finger at the acorn and directing it, or anything else).  Nature, or Life, at it's most fundamental level - that single property which defines something as being alive rather than not - is miraculous.  Life lives and breathes, grows and reproduces, it evolves and learns and makes itself better.  There is something mysterious and magical about Life and the very fact that we exist at all.  

Life is truly fantastic and marvelous, but it does not in any way require a god for it to exist. I love every minute and second of it that I have.

Bootie wrote:


Regardless of whether there is a deity that is aware of my worship or not, that is not important to me.  The worship of God, to me, is simply the appreciation of Life and the recognition of the crazy miracle it is, and the gratitude that I exist at all.  It is finding appreciation that I live and breathe and have consciousness and that this reality - even though it cannot be understood - exists.  

I'm totally fascinated with life and attempting to understand all that I can. Life is evidence of the fantastic Universe we live in which we can explore and attempt to understand. No god required.

____________________________________________________________
"I guess it's time to ask if you live under high voltage power transmission lines which have been shown to cause stimulation of the fantasy centers of the brain due to electromagnetic waves?" - Me

"God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, - it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks please. Cash and in small bills." - Robert A Heinlein.


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Bootie wrote:Can there be a

Bootie wrote:

Can there be a "rational" perspective of God, or is any belief in a higher power contradictory to atheism?

The only rational views of God in my opinion are atheism and deism. Theistic beliefs just don't hold water. Atheism and deism are largely the same thing apart from the presupposition of the existence of God.

After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him.

The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
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Quote:As for evidence, is

Quote:

As for evidence, is "Life" not enough?  Is the fact that this reality exists at all not evidence enough?  It is for me.  That is where I find God.  I mean, what is Life??  Where did that come from?  Is it simply a chemical reaction?  Even if you believe that's all it is, take some carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc... and mix it all together - even if we can replicate Life in a lab, that still makes it no less magical.  What makes an acorn grow into an Oak tree?  (I'm certainly not suggesting there's some deity with a singular-conscience pointing a finger at the acorn and directing it, or anything else).  Nature, or Life, at it's most fundamental level - that single property which defines something as being alive rather than not - is miraculous.  Life lives and breathes, grows and reproduces, it evolves and learns and makes itself better.  There is something mysterious and magical about Life and the very fact that we exist at all.

This is a perfect opportunity to introduce you to these two articles of mine answering these very questions:

The Third Revolution

Chemical Evolution

They are both, unfortunately, quite long. "What is biological life?" is not a philosophical question that can be answered by pondering alone. It's a very technical question that requires a large amount of expertise in molecular biology.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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Bootie wrote:I feel

Bootie wrote:
I feel fortunate that I am a part of a church with a very progressive theology - one which is accepting and open to other perspectives of God.

Perspectives like the (nearly) infinite probability that the God you're thinking of doesn't exist? Here's what I mean: when you think of God, and when someone else thinks of God, it's different. Not only that, but whenever anyone thinks of God, it's different from everyone else's. They may have things in common, but they're unique. Some people even believe in totally different deities, and others, more than one.

So which one is correct? None? If so, how do you talk about God? And is the God you imagine surely not the one that exists?

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HisWillness wrote:Bootie

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
I feel fortunate that I am a part of a church with a very progressive theology - one which is accepting and open to other perspectives of God.

Perspectives like the (nearly) infinite probability that the God you're thinking of doesn't exist? Here's what I mean: when you think of God, and when someone else thinks of God, it's different. Not only that, but whenever anyone thinks of God, it's different from everyone else's. They may have things in common, but they're unique. Some people even believe in totally different deities, and others, more than one.

So which one is correct? None? If so, how do you talk about God? And is the God you imagine surely not the one that exists?

 

Nobody knows the answers and no one can claim they are correct.  The purpose spirituality is in the journey.  It's the spiritual growth which is important and the seeking of answers/ideas which is important.  Being "right" is not required.  I know my image of God may be completely off-base, but I have grown spiritually because I have been active in the search.  Why do we know so much about our physical universe?  Because we SEEK answers.  You can't expect to gain any connection with your spiritual nature without seeking and investigating it for yourself.

 

To respond to some of the other posts, Nikolaj, sounds like we are, indeed, thinking a lot alike.  Yes, you are correct that my use of the word "magical" is more of a descriptor for the wonder of life, rather than relating my image of God to a "great wizard".  I also appreciate the way you write your responses - very open, non-threatening, and welcoming, despite disagreement.

In a thread you referenced, you said: "my objection to Religion is not what it asks, but what it answers."  Very well said.  I agree 100%.  I believe the only suitable or acceptable religion is one which remains in the "wonder" stage and never seeks to move to the stage of assuming it has "figured out" God.  Once they reach that stage, it starts becoming destructive. 

The video natural posted was quite humorous. 



The irrationality of the traditional biblical image of God is apparent, obvious and irrefutable.  I certainly understand your rejection of such an image of God.  What I don't understand is the atheist's blanket rejection of the possibility of anything in a spiritual capacity.  

I think it is arrogant for anyone to assume that humanity now understands enough about our own reality and existence to be able to rule out the possibility of something in a more "spiritual realm", especially with such dogmatic certainty.  See the irony?  Is it so absolutely impossible that there might be an unseen spiritual nature coexisting right alongside this physical nature which we currently reside in?  Is it so wildly impossible that some people might be, in a small way, somehow in touch with this spirituality to a small degree?  Based on what I see and experience in the world around me, it isn't for me.  Maybe it's the "yin" to our "yang", or the other way around.  With all the stuff we DON'T know about life and the universe, I just don't think that's too big of a stretch.  I know that's a tough concept for the "hard-evidence-required" type of folks.  But the universe is not going to implode in a black hole of logic if you open up to a little irrationality.  You do it every day.  You ever talk to your pet?  How rational is that?

That's a trivial example, but you are exactly right: God is quite irrational.  So what? 

The grief we feel over the loss of a loved one is not rational.  There is no amount of crying or sadness or grief which will bring that person back, yet we still saddle ourselves with that grief.  Why don't we just tilt our head and say, "Well, we had a fun life together, I'll miss ya, buddy," shed a quick tear and cheerfully go on our way?  That would certainly be the more rational behavior since we know nothing we do or feel will change the situation.

Hope is irrational.  Why should a person, stranded in the desert, running out of options, and with no visible evidence of rescue, have any hope?  Wouldn't you continue to hope for rescue despite the lack of evidence?  Wouldn't you keep an eye on the horizon? 

And Love is certainly not rational.  It is completely irrational that we - as innately selfish life forms with the primal programming for self-preservation - should go out of our way to Love another person outside of ourselves.  It is irrational for a person to willingly fall onto a grenade to save the others in the room.  It is irrational for a mother to willingly sacrifice her own life to save that of her unborn child.  It is irrational for people to devote their lives to helping others, giving up their own comforts in the process, but people do it anyway.   The sacrifice of a person to give up an afternoon to work on a Habitat home for someone they'll never meet is irrational.  But it happens every day.   Love is as irrational as it is beautiful.  And what is a better example of Love but sacrifice?  The sacrifice of yourself so that another might benefit.  That is Love as a verb.  Can you give me the chemical formula for that?  Those are the kinds of things that Love does in places every day.  Love is irrational, God is Love, God is irrational, yes.

Call it Love, Life, "the Force", God, call it whatever you want - it is definitely irrational, but that's just fine.  I doubt you will ever find God as long as you try to rationalize God.  I'm also pretty sure you will never find God without becoming actively involved in the search.  Insight on spirituality isn't something you are likely to stumble upon without looking, and it's not something anyone else can "show" you.  I think we find exactly what we look for in life.  Optimists can always find the good in life because they are never stop looking for it.  The pessimist's perspective is the same - they find the bad in life because that is what they are looking for.  Those who look for the evidence that Oswald acted alone will find it.  And those who look for the evidence that it was a conspiracy will find it.   An atheist finds exactly what he/she is looking for: a world with no God at all.  To borrow a line, "Seek, and you will find". 

I've read a lot of the links some of you have posted on the Third Revolution and the chemical stuff about life.  It's all very nice, scientifically-measurable information, but I imagine God is quite beyond all of that - immeasurable and outside of our "known" reality.  If we break Life down to a chemical reaction, perhaps "God" is somewhere in that reaction.  Maybe God IS that reaction.  Who knows?  Nobody.  But I will keep searching to satisfy my own sense of wonder about it, regardless of its irrationality.  Because of my quest, I have grown, spiritually.  That is something I can feel and it gives my life more meaning and purpose.   What we FEEL does not need hard evidence.  When you Love someone, you don't need any other evidence beyond what you can feel.  You have been disappointed in your lack of evidence because you are trying to find the "evidence" of God by opening your eyes wide and studying all the rational, measurable things around you, when closing your eyes and focusing your study inward would yield better results.  I believe a person limits themselves by not exploring the spiritual possibilities. 

The best way we "show" God to others is to treat them with Love.  God is Love.  Imagine if the entire world practiced treating everyone else with Love.  Greed, jealousy, hate, anger, war, violence, etc..., all would cease to exist because Love/God has the power to push those out.  The evidence you seek would be in the resulting world filled with Love/God.   


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I've always taken issue with

I've always taken issue with the impossibly vague and astoundingly malleable phrases which theists come up without actually saying anything of importance. The problem, as far as I can tell, is that none of what you said is coherent. None of the terms you used were well-defined. Consider what you wrote:

Quote:

but I imagine God is quite beyond all of that - immeasurable and outside of our "known" reality.  If we break Life down to a chemical reaction, perhaps "God" is somewhere in that reaction.  Maybe God IS that reaction.  Who knows?  Nobody.

Just as a matter of scientific accuracy, I never claimed that life was a "chemical reaction" but rather a chemical system which had certain properties allowing us to pin down the notion of biological life. Now, the problem with what you've done above is that as far as I can tell, you haven't actually said anything of importance. The formal way to say this is that the quote above lacks propositional content. There are no meaningful statements which can be extracted from it. This occurs multiple times in your post above. The reason I take issue with this is (a) because no discussion can progress at all without the employment of rigorous terminology and both parties understanding that they are using the same words to refer to the same things otherwise fallacies of equivocation will invariably arise. What you have done in the course of your previous post is the theist trick known as "write as vaguely as possible". Actually, I devised a chart given in the link below to articulate the various forms of meaningless which pervade religious languague. You will find many things in there which are dissected which are very similar to what you have written above.

 I thought this diagram might amuse you...

The other reason I take issue at this is because at the end you state:

Quote:

You have been disappointed in your lack of evidence because you are trying to find the "evidence" of God by opening your eyes wide and studying all the rational, measurable things around you, when closing your eyes and focusing your study inward would yield better results.

But of course, the above is clearly absurd. So deftly have you avoided the use of coherent terms that no one knows what you're talking about, and so they certainly wouldn't be able to formulate a means by which these propositions are investigated.

Quote:

I think it is arrogant for anyone to assume that humanity now understands enough about our own reality and existence to be able to rule out the possibility of something in a more "spiritual realm", especially with such dogmatic certainty.  See the irony?  Is it so absolutely impossible that there might be an unseen spiritual nature coexisting right alongside this physical nature which we currently reside in?

Actually, I do reject (in blanket terms no less) the entire notion of "spiritual realm", but not for epistemological reasons (in other words, not due to lack of justification, or lack of the possibility for justification, although I suppose those would both be valid reasons for rejection) but for reasons of coherency. I have a problem with the statement "Well, we can't conclusively know whether or not God exists" (in this sentence "God" can be interchanged with a plethora of vague terms like "spiritual realm" ). I view it as one of uncountable theistic enroachments on epistemology, and part of their general tactic of trying to undermine the whole notion of "knowledge" in order to attempt to defend beliefs which would be indefensible on rational grounds. The problem is that this concession contains implicit assumptions which are absurd. In this "God exists" is treated like any other knowledge claim, such as "we can't know that orbiting teapots don't exist the Earth". The problem with this concession lies in the coherency of the claim. Theism is so confused as to what it even means to say "God exists" that unlike other claims about which we must technically remain agnostic (such as the matter of the teapot), the whole notion of "God existing" can be thrown out on definitional grounds. It's part of a general problem of the religious subversion of language. They use words that they think they can get away with using, that are too vague to really mean anything like "higher power" or "ultimate", or they use words which contain an incoherency in terms of lack of coherent predicates, such as "supernatural". We can throw the notion out on the criteria for a statement that was imposed by Russell in order to solve the problem of non-referring entities in quantifier logic. Namely, a statement in quantifier logic must make an existence claim, a uniqueness claim and a claim of predication. The claim of God has no coherent claim of predication, fails criterion three, and can be thrown out.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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deludedgod wrote:I've always

deludedgod wrote:

I've always taken issue with the impossibly vague and astoundingly malleable phrases which theists come up without actually saying anything of importance. The problem, as far as I can tell, is that none of what you said is coherent. None of the terms you used were well-defined. 

 

hahaha, same thing I thought from much of your writings - and I don't mean that in a derogatory way.  I respect your knowledge in those areas.

Think of it this way:  I'm not well-versed in the scientific kind of stuff you know.  You appear to be a very well-educated person in those areas of biology, chemistry, science, etc...  You understand that stuff on a level which I cannot comprehend and much of it is very incoherent to me despite however well-defined the terms are.  If I studied it more, I could probably understand it more. 

The same is true of spiritual matters.  If you explored it with an open mind and tried, you might understand it better. 

But even if I went back to school and earned a degree in science, I might obtain some additional knowledge about the subject but I doubt it would really "click" with me.  Similarly, if you tried finding spirituality, you might open up to some new ideas but I doubt it would ever really "click" with you.  I imagine our biggest difference is that we are simply wired differently.  We're two different types of people, and that goes back to the science.  Spiritual focus is not important to you, and the numbers and measurements and formulas and science is not important to me.  You trust what you can see and measure, I trust what I can feel.  It must drive you up the wall that someone would live their life based on "feeling" rather than more rational behavior, but it has just as much coherence and importance to a "feeling" person as the measurable numbers and formulas do to a "science" person.  You must accept this.


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Quote:hahaha, same thing I

Quote:

hahaha, same thing I thought from much of your writings - and I don't mean that in a derogatory way.  I respect your knowledge in those areas.

Think of it this way:  I'm not well-versed in the scientific kind of stuff you know.  You appear to be a very well-educated person in those areas of biology, chemistry, science, etc...  You understand that stuff on a level which I cannot comprehend and much of it is very incoherent to me despite however well-defined the terms are.  If I studied it more, I could probably understand it more.

Ah, but that's not a fair comparison. The reason that these terms are incomprehensible to you is because they are technical. That is, they can be grasped with sufficient study. The phrase "there is some entity which occupies a spiritual realm which is outside human understanding" means nothing to me. The phrase "the Pauli group of a quantum system is the n-rank exterior product of the individual spin matrices" makes perfect sense to me. The reason the first statement doesn't make any sense at all is not because there is some deep and technical meaning to it that it cannot be grasped without it, it is because my understanding of epistemology informs me that (a) the sentence contains a contradiction and (b) there are terms in there which lack predicates such as "spiritual". In other words, my failure to comprehend the first sentence is not due to missing a particular faculty or technical training, and it is not the result of not having "explored it". On the contrary, it is the result of having dissected it.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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Bootie wrote:The same is

Bootie wrote:
The same is true of spiritual matters.  If you explored it with an open mind and tried, you might understand it better.

I have to echo deludedgod's sentiment that this isn't a fair comparison. Just in case you thought it was just a matter of philosophical difference. It isn't. Like you said, if you went to school and received a technical education, you would understand what deludedgod was talking about, because the terms he's using refer to something specifically. They describe a process that can be observed and quantified.

Bootie wrote:
I imagine our biggest difference is that we are simply wired differently.  We're two different types of people, and that goes back to the science.

But you say that without any education in "wiring". So it's a wild guess on your part that you and deludedgod, in your preference for different activities, have different "wiring".

Equally wild are your guesses about the spiritual realm, which defies description.

Bootie wrote:
It must drive you up the wall that someone would live their life based on "feeling" rather than more rational behavior, but it has just as much coherence and importance to a "feeling" person as the measurable numbers and formulas do to a "science" person.  You must accept this.

We must accept it as irrational, yes. Statements that are incoherent are not invalid, they're just not rational. Most people make decisions based on feelings, but we wouldn't pretend that those decisions are rational.

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Bootie wrote:Nobody knows

Bootie wrote:
Nobody knows the answers and no one can claim they are correct.

This is my point. We're discussing something about which nothing can be determined.

Bootie wrote:
The purpose spirituality is in the journey.

Hold on. Back up. I was with you for the first statement, but now you're professing knowledge of something that cannot be known.

Bootie wrote:
It's the spiritual growth which is important and the seeking of answers/ideas which is important.  Being "right" is not required.  I know my image of God may be completely off-base, but I have grown spiritually because I have been active in the search.

Okay. Your "spirit" has a process wherein it "grows", is this the case? (To save you time, you learned this idea indirectly from Plotinus, a neoplatonic philosopher.) The idea that you have a spirit or soul is a cultural remnant of medieval philosophy. It's not fact. It's not even close to a fact.

Bootie wrote:
Why do we know so much about our physical universe?

The empirical method.

Bootie wrote:
Because we SEEK answers.

No. The method of seeking is much more important than simply seeking.

Bootie wrote:
I think it is arrogant for anyone to assume that humanity now understands enough about our own reality and existence to be able to rule out the possibility of something in a more "spiritual realm", especially with such dogmatic certainty.  See the irony?

No, because nobody said it's "impossible", just "so highly unlikely that it's up there with Santa and the Tooth Fairy".

Bootie wrote:
Is it so absolutely impossible that there might be an unseen spiritual nature coexisting right alongside this physical nature which we currently reside in?

Santa?

Bootie wrote:
Is it so wildly impossible that some people might be, in a small way, somehow in touch with this spirituality to a small degree?

Tooth Fairy?

Bootie wrote:
What we FEEL does not need hard evidence.

It does when you make positive claims about it.

Bootie wrote:
When you Love someone, you don't need any other evidence beyond what you can feel.

Yeah, but that's being in love with someone real, and not claiming that they are the creator of the universe. Completely different!

Bootie wrote:
You have been disappointed in your lack of evidence because you are trying to find the "evidence" of God by opening your eyes wide and studying all the rational, measurable things around you, when closing your eyes and focusing your study inward would yield better results.

Wow. Have you read Plotinus? You're reciting him quite well.

 

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peppermint

peppermint wrote:

Well...first off, atheism isn't a religion, it's just a lack of belief in any kind of god. Atheists are technically speaking individual thinkers, not part of any specific belief system.

Not when it comes to the RRS. I think that the RRS is a religion. I won't get into my whole proof for that because this is not the right thread.

Furthermore HisWillingness, although I'm skeptical of spirituality too, there is an Atheist tradition about utilizing spirituality. Sam Harris advocates it to a certain extent from his Buddhist background. Jacques Derrida used to pray for various reasons even though he wasn't a theist. Don't be to hard on Bootie.

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Christos wrote:Not when it

Christos wrote:
Not when it comes to the RRS. I think that the RRS is a religion. I won't get into my whole proof for that because this is not the right thread

Could you make a thread? Because I'm thinking you'd assert that any community is by necessity a religion if it had a hierarchy.

Christos wrote:
Furthermore HisWillingness, although I'm skeptical of spirituality too, there is an Atheist tradition about utilizing spirituality. Sam Harris advocates it to a certain extent from his Buddhist background. Jacques Derrida used to pray for various reasons even though he wasn't a theist. Don't be to hard on Bootie.

I'm not one for tradition.

(I'm sorry, I have to avoid all the possible jokes available to me in response to "hard on Bootie".)

*ahem*

My only difficulty is with descriptions of things that people cannot know in a strict sense. When Sam Harris talks about a "spiritual" aspect of meditation, he's talking about nothing actually non-physical. His "spiritual" goes by that name for expediency, and doesn't describe anything outside of the physical world (at least from what I've read--I could have missed something).

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Meh. It seems to be a

Meh. It seems to be a recurring theme. Whenever someone completely and totally fails against the RRS in whole or in part, or even just to an affiliate; they pull out the "you're a religion" card. It would be quite tiresome if it weren't so patently absurd. There isn't anything remotely cultlike or religious about the RRS that is not inherrant of human group politics in general. In other words, any grouping of more than 2 people share the same traits. That doesn't make or suggest the existence or use of cult mentality. But some people (and not just theists) have only emotion to fall back on when their arguments are exposed for the baseless crap that makes them up.

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Vastet wrote:Meh. It seems

Vastet wrote:

Meh. It seems to be a recurring theme. Whenever someone completely and totally fails against the RRS in whole or in part, or even just to an affiliate; they pull out the "you're a religion" card.

Although that might be true sometimes, I'm pulling out the religion card because I'm a religion major and I study religions. I think the RRS qualifies as a religion based on my definition.

HW, I agree with you about non=physical spirituality. I just think that prayer and mediatation can be extremely helpful when utilized properly. And you should really let up on that Bootie.

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

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Bootie, you really should

Bootie, you really should take the time to respond to people directly. For instance, I took the time to respond to your post in depth, and you responded with a single sentence: "The video natural posted was quite humorous. "

What kind of response is that? You completely ignored the main thrust of my response to you. I asked you specific questions which you completely ignored. You're not taking this discussion very seriously.

Please respond to this, which you ignored:

natural wrote:

You seem to be looking at all the world around you and saying, "It's so amazing. I experience such a sense of wonder..." And with this I can wholeheartedly agree with you. But then you make the non sequitur, "Therefore it must all be mysterious magic!" No. It is only the Unknown. The Unknown can be investigated and discovered and we can learn from it. But when you wrap it in a sheild of 'mystery', you have failed. Instead of embracing that wonder, and using it to drive you toward greater understanding, you have locked it in a box. Your curiosity has been stifled, stymied, inhibited, neutered.

Instead, I would say to you, embrace your wonder. 'Wonder' also means to ask questions: To wonder. Any time you wall off a part of the Unkown to 'protect' it from questioning, you are betraying your wonder. You are failing to wonder, failing to ask questions.

Here's a couple questions for you: We know a lot about life, how it works, etc., and all we have ever found have been natural explanations for it. What additional power do we gain by wrapping it up in 'mystery'? We can admire it, and experience wonder, but what does the label 'mystery' add? Doesn't 'mystery' and 'magic' imply that we *cannot* know the answers to our questions? And if we *cannot* know, then why should we bother investigating? Why should we bother trying to unravel the mystery, if the mystery cannot be solved? And how do you *know* that the mystery cannot be solved?

If you ignore these questions, and just say, "I just *know* it's all a big mystery!" then you are failing to face these questions head-on. You are failing to wonder. You are inventing 'knowledge' that you do not actually possess. We don't know everything about life, but we also don't know that it's all a big mystery. In fact, the more we investigate, with science, the more we learn, so it is very clear that we *can* learn the answers to our questions. And the more we learn, the *more* questions and unknowns we discover, and the *more* wonder we experience.

Trying to protect the 'mysteries' of the world is actually counter productive. It squashes learning and stops us from uncovering even *deeper* unknowns.

True wonder involves relentlessly asking questions and seeking to learn the answers. And when we find some answers, we can appreciate what we've learned, and use this new nugget of knowledge to lead us to more questions, and more learning.

Mystery and magic add *nothing* to this endeavour. In fact they hinder it.

Here is more evidence that you failed to comprehend what I was saying:

Quote:
The irrationality of the traditional biblical image of God is apparent, obvious and irrefutable.  I certainly understand your rejection of such an image of God.  What I don't understand is the atheist's blanket rejection of the possibility of anything in a spiritual capacity. 

The word 'spiritual' is like the word 'god', or 'magic'. It adds nothing to our understanding. In fact, it impedes understanding. It is an attempt to cloak things in mystery, and prevent them from being understood.

I do not reject the possibility of anything spiritual, I simply have no way of understanding what 'spiritual' means. It is an empty word. I will prove it by showing how you use it.

Quote:
I think it is arrogant for anyone to assume that humanity now understands enough about our own reality and existence to be able to rule out the possibility of something in a more "spiritual realm", especially with such dogmatic certainty.  See the irony?

The irony is that you are the one with the dogma. The dogma is that of 'spiritual' and 'god', which you expect people to believe in while rejecting our questions to you. These are unquestionable ideas to you. That is what dogma is, an unquestionable idea.

You call us dogmatic, but all we do is ask you questions. What does 'spiritual' mean? Do you have any evidence for it? You have avoided these questions by trying to place your ideas *beyond* question. In this, you are dogmatic.

Quote:
  Is it so absolutely impossible that there might be an unseen spiritual nature coexisting right alongside this physical nature which we currently reside in?

No. I just haven't seen any evidence of it. Where is the evidence? Until I see evidence, I have no reason to believe it is true. Especially since every time someone has attempted to show me evidence, the 'evidence' crumbles in the light of scrutiny.

I reject your dogma of a 'spiritual realm', because I have very good reasons to doubt it.

Quote:
The grief we feel over the loss of a loved one is not rational.

Grief is grief. It is not 'god' or 'spirit'. So, what does 'spiritual' mean again?

Quote:
Hope is irrational.

Hope is hope. It is not 'god' or 'spirit'. So, what does 'spiritual' mean again?

Quote:
And Love is certainly not rational.

Love is love. It is not 'god' or 'spirit'. So, what does 'spiritual' mean again?

Quote:
Love is irrational, God is Love, God is irrational, yes.

If God is Love, then why call it 'god'? Why not just call it love? What extra value does the label 'god' add to the idea of love?

You seem to think that by demanding rational justification for belief in the existence of god, that therefore we reject all that is 'irrational'. This is false.

I already explained at great length in my first response to you that we experience grief, hope, love, wonder, and all those other feelings.

We even have rational reasons to believe that these feelings exist! But what we don't have, and what you are failing to provide, is a rational reason to believe that the label 'god' adds anything of value.

If 'god' is just a label for things that exist, and that we already have words for, then 'god' is a useless label.

If 'god' means something *beyond* these natural feelings, then you have failed to explain what 'god' is.

Either way, 'god' remains an empty concept, a mere cloak of mystery that you use to try to shroud *real* things, to protect them from questioning.

To say that God is Love is to say that love cannot be understood. But it *can*! We learn more and more about it everyday. Stop trying to turn Love into a dogma.

God is imaginary, love is real. We do not reject love, we reject your attempt to mystify it with the useless label 'god'.

Quote:
Optimists can always find the good in life because they are never stop looking for it.  The pessimist's perspective is the same - they find the bad in life because that is what they are looking for.

Then call me a Realist. I look for what is Real. Both the optimist and the pessimist are wrong. The optimist sees the good in a situation that is *really* bad. The pessimist sees the bad in a situation that is *really* good. The realist looks for the *reality* of whether the situation is good or bad.

Similarly, I look for the *reality* of the existence of God. So far, I have seen nothing to convince me of the reality of god. I see the reality of love, wonder, hope, etc. But none of this indicates any 'god'. God is imaginary, love is real.

Show me the reality of 'god', or join the ranks of millions of deluded theists who believe in something they *do not know* to be real.

I am not missing anything in life that you have over me. Your 'spirituality' is just natural 'inspiration', and I have plenty of that. I just don't pretend that it's magical or mysterious. The words you are so desperately attached to, 'god', 'spirituality', etc., are just words. They do not actually give you anything.

I leave you with yet another piece of my first response, which you ignored. I hope you don't ignore it a second time:

natural wrote:

I see all of these things and I see the wonder in them. But I don't slap on the word 'god'. God is imaginary, wonder is real. You seem to think that only this word 'god' can evoke these feelings. You are wrong. It is just a word. The feeling of wonder is itself a wonder of nature. It is a natural emotion that *all* humans can feel, including atheists. Theists, pantheists, and panentheists do not have some sort of monopoly on wonder. All they have are silly words that they cloak real wonder up in, and silly taboos against questions, paradoxically stunting their own senses of wonder, even as they try to 'protect' it.

Just drop the word 'god', and you can retain all that feeling and emotion and wonder without the baggage that comes along with that word. Trust me, you won't miss it one bit. I was a pantheist of sorts myself (actually a panpsychist) for several years before I realized that I was just inventing answers for questions which I did not actually have answers to. I was pretending to know the Unknown. I stopped. I lost nothing in the process.

I encourage you to try looking at the universe and all the wonders and unknowns in it without using the word 'god' for any of it. Any time you are tempted to use the word 'god', replace it with 'unknown'. Learn to embrace the uknown without fear. You already admitted we are limited creatures with limited knowledge, so of course there is going to be a lot of unknowns out there. There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing to fear. We don't know, and that's okay. Why is the universe here? I don't know. Why do I exist as I am, rather than as some other form? I don't know. I don't have to pretend that I know that some mysterious 'god' is responsible.

How did life begin? I don't know. Not scary at all. In fact, it is quite liberating.

One of the great things about admitting you don't know so many different things is that is sparks your natural urge to *learn*. This is the natural urge to wonder. The next step after admitting you don't know is to simply let yourself feel that wondering feeling.

How does this 'simple' chemistry form such amazing and complex life? I don't know. Hmm. I wonder how it does! Let me go and find out!

The more you learn about these various topics, the more wonder you will feel. As the old saying goes, the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know.

I hope you try this little exercise in earnest, maybe for like a week or two. It can't really hurt, can it? Good luck.

 

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Christos wrote:Although that

Christos wrote:
Although that might be true sometimes, I'm pulling out the religion card because I'm a religion major and I study religions. I think the RRS qualifies as a religion based on my definition.

Make a thread! Did you make one already? I can't argue with you here.

Christos wrote:
HW, I agree with you about non=physical spirituality. I just think that prayer and mediatation can be extremely helpful when utilized properly.

Well sure. It allows people who are naturally anxious to slow their hearts rate down, and provides focus to people who don't know how to manage that otherwise. I have no problem with people's methods of calming themselves down. Just with mystical assertions.

Christos wrote:
And you should really let up on that Bootie.

Bah! Here, I was trying to be so good.

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sorry, natural

natural, sorry I didn't get to your post.  I do appreciate your input and I will respond.  It's tough to respond to every individual statement and question everyone posts and have enough time in the day to do anything else, and I don't want to just fire off a quick response to things without any thought.  So, hang tight and I'll work on your stuff.


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HisWillness wrote:Well sure.

HisWillness wrote:

Well sure. It allows people who are naturally anxious to slow their hearts rate down, and provides focus to people who don't know how to manage that otherwise. I have no problem with people's methods of calming themselves down. Just with mystical assertions.

I was thinking that prayer better enables a person to be aware of problems outside of their own life. Like praying frequently for AIDS. Or praying for a friend who has lost a faimly member.

I'll start that thread, but I'm really busy with papers right now, so I can't promise that I'll keep up with it for a few days.

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Quote:Like praying

Quote:

Like praying frequently for AIDS.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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natural wrote: Bootie, you

natural wrote:

Bootie, you really should take the time to respond to people directly. For instance, I took the time to respond to your post in depth, and you responded with a single sentence: "The video natural posted was quite humorous. "

What kind of response is that? You completely ignored the main thrust of my response to you. I asked you specific questions which you completely ignored. You're not taking this discussion very seriously.


Please respond to this, which you ignored:

natural wrote:


You seem to be looking at all the world around you and saying, "It's so amazing. I experience such a sense of wonder..." And with this I can wholeheartedly agree with you. But then you make the non sequitur, "Therefore it must all be mysterious magic!" No. It is only the Unknown. The Unknown can be investigated and discovered and we can learn from it. But when you wrap it in a sheild of 'mystery', you have failed. Instead of embracing that wonder, and using it to drive you toward greater understanding, you have locked it in a box. Your curiosity has been stifled, stymied, inhibited, neutered.

Instead, I would say to you, embrace your wonder. 'Wonder' also means to ask questions: To wonder. Any time you wall off a part of the Unkown to 'protect' it from questioning, you are betraying your wonder. You are failing to wonder, failing to ask questions.




I think you're misunderstanding my perspective.  I am all about the wonder, absolutely!  But my wonder is focused on the spiritual, not the physical.  Breaking down my own walls and allowing myself to wonder is what got me to where I am.  I once had a "God-in-a-box" perspective - the traditional, biblical image of God - but my wonder opened it up and allowed me to imagine God as something far more than that.  I think wonder is essential in the spiritual journey.
 
natural wrote:

Here's a couple questions for you: We know a lot about life, how it works, etc., and all we have ever found have been natural explanations for it. What additional power do we gain by wrapping it up in 'mystery'? We can admire it, and experience wonder, but what does the label 'mystery' add?



I don't see it as a matter of gaining any "additional power".  There is no need to over-analyze the words.  I used the word "mystery" because life has a lot of unknowns, therefore, it qualifies as being mysterious.  God is also an unknown, therefore, matters pertaining to any possible God qualify as mysterious.  I used the word "magic" more as a poetic term.  Seems kinda cut and dry to me.

Damn, I've typed the word "mystery" so much now it's starting to look funny to me.

natural wrote:

Doesn't 'mystery' and 'magic' imply that we *cannot* know the answers to our questions? And if we *cannot* know, then why should we bother investigating? Why should we bother trying to unravel the mystery, if the mystery cannot be solved? And how do you *know* that the mystery cannot be solved?



You made a big assumption there with that first sentence and then just went running down some crazy path of logic with it.  Why does using terms like "mystery" and "magic" have to mean we absolutely "cannot" know the answers??  The existence of the planets of our solar system was a mystery to us at one point, but we have since found those answers.  I'd say "mystery" simply means we DO not know, not that we can't ever know.  Again, magic was used in a poetic sense.

natural wrote:

...In fact, the more we investigate, with science, the more we learn, so it is very clear that we *can* learn the answers to our questions. And the more we learn, the *more* questions and unknowns we discover, and the *more* wonder we experience.



All the more reason to wonder about the spiritual.

natural wrote:

Trying to protect the 'mysteries' of the world is actually counter productive. It squashes learning and stops us from uncovering even *deeper* unknowns.

True wonder involves relentlessly asking questions and seeking to learn the answers. And when we find some answers, we can appreciate what we've learned, and use this new nugget of knowledge to lead us to more questions, and more learning.


YES!  But I don't want to limit my quest for more knowledge to just the physical world.  I also get meaning and purpose from the investigation and wonder about my spiritual side. 
 
natural wrote:

Here is more evidence that you failed to comprehend what I was saying:

Quote:
The irrationality of the traditional biblical image of God is apparent, obvious and irrefutable.  I certainly understand your rejection of such an image of God.  What I don't understand is the atheist's blanket rejection of the possibility of anything in a spiritual capacity. 


The word 'spiritual' is like the word 'god', or 'magic'. It adds nothing to our understanding. In fact, it impedes understanding. It is an attempt to cloak things in mystery, and prevent them from being understood.


"an attempt to cloak things in mystery"??  I don't see it that way at all, and I'm not sure where you get that from.  When I use words like "spiritual" and "god" it is not "an attempt to cloak things in mystery".   God and spirituality ARE mysteries.  "Mystery" seems to me to be a perfectly appropriate word to describe that which is unknown, or "mysterious". 

I've covered the "magic" word so I won't beat that dead horse.

natural wrote:

I do not reject the possibility of anything spiritual, I simply have no way of understanding what 'spiritual' means. It is an empty word. I will prove it by showing how you use it.

Quote:
I think it is arrogant for anyone to assume that humanity now understands enough about our own reality and existence to be able to rule out the possibility of something in a more "spiritual realm", especially with such dogmatic certainty.  See the irony?


The irony is that you are the one with the dogma. The dogma is that of 'spiritual' and 'god', which you expect people to believe in while rejecting our questions to you. These are unquestionable ideas to you. That is what dogma is, an unquestionable idea.

You call us dogmatic, but all we do is ask you questions. What does 'spiritual' mean? Do you have any evidence for it? You have avoided these questions by trying to place your ideas *beyond* question. In this, you are dogmatic.


Each of our perspectives comes across as dogmatic to the other side.  Your certainty of no God carries just as much weight as my certainty of the spiritual. 

"Spiritual" refers to matters of the spirit.  Obviously, if you don't believe there is a spiritual side to this physical reality, then you will have major diff with that word.  Imagine if you had a soul and imagine what form it might take or where it might exist.  That's the best explanation of your spiritual side that I can offer.  Don't read too much into the word "spiritual".  It's just another human word to describe that which is a great mystery.  It doesn't mean it's some dogmatic "label" with a different meaning or an attempt to cloak anything in mystery. 

You say you do not reject the possibility of anything spiritual.  HisWillness gave a similar affirmation, so I'll ask you what I asked him:
If you're going to be scientific about it, it's either possible or it's not, there is no in between.  You've just affirmed that something spiritual is not entirely impossible.  So, if an unknown spiritual side is possible despite the lack of evidence, then isn't an unknown God also possible despite the lack of evidence?  Why not?

natural wrote:

Bootie wrote:

Is it so absolutely impossible that there might be an unseen spiritual nature coexisting right alongside this physical nature which we currently reside in?


No. I just haven't seen any evidence of it. Where is the evidence? Until I see evidence, I have no reason to believe it is true. Especially since every time someone has attempted to show me evidence, the 'evidence' crumbles in the light of scrutiny.


Again with the evidence.  You folks are never, ever, ever, ever going to get handed a tangible piece of "spiritual" evidence, so stop asking people for it.  It cannot be given.  I can no more give you evidence of a spiritual nature than you can provide me evidence that you love your spouse. 

natural wrote:
 
I reject your dogma of a 'spiritual realm', because I have very good reasons to doubt it.

That's okay.  I know you are open to the possibility.

natural wrote:
 
Quote:
The grief we feel over the loss of a loved one is not rational.


Grief is grief. It is not 'god' or 'spirit'. So, what does 'spiritual' mean again?

See my address of "spiritual" above.  The comparison of "grief" was to point out that grief, in itself seems irrational.  If you can bring yourself to experience the irrationality of grief without exploding in a puff of logic, the irrationality of seeking your spirituality will not hurt you either.

natural wrote:

Quote:
Hope is irrational.


Hope is hope. It is not 'god' or 'spirit'. So, what does 'spiritual' mean again?

See my address of "spiritual" above.  Substitute "hope" for "grief"

natural wrote:

Quote:
And Love is certainly not rational.


Love is love. It is not 'god' or 'spirit'. So, what does 'spiritual' mean again?

Oh, I disagree with this one.  I say God is Love.  See my address of spiritual above.

natural wrote:

Quote:
Love is irrational, God is Love, God is irrational, yes.


If God is Love, then why call it 'god'? Why not just call it love? What extra value does the label 'god' add to the idea of love?

Because 'God' is a perfectly good word for me.  Why NOT call it 'God'?  I often use the word "Love" in place of "God" because I feel they are synonymous.  It's not a matter of adding a "label" to anything.  Why are you so afraid of the word 'God'?  You've let all the crazy religious extremists folks hijack a perfectly good word for the ultimate unknown.  If you want to call it 'Love' instead of 'God' that's perfectly okay with me. Eye-wink  But seriously, why should I have to go find a new word just because some other folks have twisted it into their own meaning?  The word hold no negative connotations with me, so I'm okay with it. 

natural wrote:

You seem to think that by demanding rational justification for belief in the existence of god, that therefore we reject all that is 'irrational'. This is false.

Okay.

natural wrote:

I already explained at great length in my first response to you that we experience grief, hope, love, wonder, and all those other feelings.

We even have rational reasons to believe that these feelings exist! But what we don't have, and what you are failing to provide, is a rational reason to believe that the label 'god' adds anything of value.

If 'god' is just a label for things that exist, and that we already have words for, then 'god' is a useless label.

See above.  "God" is a perfectly fine word for me, not some "label" to hide anything.

natural wrote:

If 'god' means something *beyond* these natural feelings, then you have failed to explain what 'god' is.

I don't anticipate I can "explain what 'god' is" to anyone.  Again, one person's perspective of the mystery of God is not something they can explain to you in any meaningful terms.  Stop looking for that.  If you want to understand God, explore your spiritual side.  If you don't care to understand God or reject the concept, then don't.  That's the best I can do.   

natural wrote:

Either way, 'god' remains an empty concept, a mere cloak of mystery that you use to try to shroud *real* things, to protect them from questioning.

To say that God is Love is to say that love cannot be understood. But it *can*! We learn more and more about it everyday. Stop trying to turn Love into a dogma.

God is imaginary, love is real. We do not reject love, we reject your attempt to mystify it with the useless label 'god'.

I believe Love is real and I believe God is Love, therefore I believe God is real.  Sounds like you are still associating the word "God" with the same biblical-type image of God.  No wonder you don't like the word.  Don't let those radicals steal the word God from you.  Take it back by opening up to the idea of God in a broader sense.

I don't understand your fascination with the term "label" and your nit-picking over words.  Every English word we use to describe something is a "label" of sorts.  "Love" is a label to describe something amazingly indescribable.  Does that mean the word "Love" is bad?  No.  The word "God" is just a word.  You should be no more afraid of the word "God" than of the word "Love" or "unknown".

Tell me about these "real things" which are being shrouded by my image of God.  Where are you getting this?  I'm also curious to know more about your wisdom and understanding in the ways of Love.  What are some of the things you say we learn more about it everyday.  Can you give me a few of those examples?

natural wrote:

Quote:
Optimists can always find the good in life because they are never stop looking for it.  The pessimist's perspective is the same - they find the bad in life because that is what they are looking for.


Then call me a Realist. I look for what is Real. Both the optimist and the pessimist are wrong. The optimist sees the good in a situation that is *really* bad. The pessimist sees the bad in a situation that is *really* good. The realist looks for the *reality* of whether the situation is good or bad.

I think the optimist and the pessimist are both right.  It's not that one situation is *really* good or *really* bad.  Good or bad, their situation is what it is, they simply see it from different perspectives.  In an identical situation, the optimist finds the more positive side to it and the pessimist finds what's bad about it. 

natural wrote:

Similarly, I look for the *reality* of the existence of God. So far, I have seen nothing to convince me of the reality of god. I see the reality of love, wonder, hope, etc. But none of this indicates any 'god'. God is imaginary, love is real.

You use the words God and love as separate things.  In my perspective, they are synonymous and that statement "God is imaginary, love is real" is a contradiction.

natural wrote:

Show me the reality of 'god', or join the ranks of millions of deluded theists who believe in something they *do not know* to be real.

I am not missing anything in life that you have over me. Your 'spirituality' is just natural 'inspiration', and I have plenty of that. I just don't pretend that it's magical or mysterious. The words you are so desperately attached to, 'god', 'spirituality', etc., are just words. They do not actually give you anything.

Again, you want someone else to show you God.  Ain't gonna happen.  You gotta search for yourself if you want to have a chance to discover it.  I have never claimed the words "god" and "spirituality" give me anything.  I know they are just words.  Why are you so afraid of them?  I think they are perfectly acceptable words to describe the ultimate unknown.  They're just words and letters, but if we are going to speak about these types of subjects, we MUST have some type of word to use in the conversation.  How else can we have this discussion?  If those words aren't acceptable for you in this discussion, let me know which words you'd like me to use instead.

natural wrote:

I leave you with yet another piece of my first response, which you ignored. I hope you don't ignore it a second time:

I see all of these things and I see the wonder in them. But I don't slap on the word 'god'. God is imaginary, wonder is real. You seem to think that only this word 'god' can evoke these feelings. You are wrong. It is just a word. The feeling of wonder is itself a wonder of nature. It is a natural emotion that *all* humans can feel, including atheists. Theists, pantheists, and panentheists do not have some sort of monopoly on wonder. All they have are silly words that they cloak real wonder up in, and silly taboos against questions, paradoxically stunting their own senses of wonder, even as they try to 'protect' it.

Dude, it appears you've been lumping my image of God in with all the other dirty uses of that word in the past.  "cloak real wonder up in"?? "taboos"??  Where are you getting any of this from anything I have posted here?  Why are you assuming things about my image of God without even asking me about them first? 

natural wrote:

Just drop the word 'god', and you can retain all that feeling and emotion and wonder without the baggage that comes along with that word. Trust me, you won't miss it one bit. I was a pantheist of sorts myself (actually a panpsychist) for several years before I realized that I was just inventing answers for questions which I did not actually have answers to. I was pretending to know the Unknown. I stopped. I lost nothing in the process.

Again, the word "God" is just a word, and a perfectly acceptable one for me.  I actually tend to favor the word "Love".

natural wrote:

I encourage you to try looking at the universe and all the wonders and unknowns in it without using the word 'god' for any of it. Any time you are tempted to use the word 'god', replace it with 'unknown'.

That's fine, but the word "unknown" would simply take on the same meaning for me that the word "God" or "Love" has.  So why do I need to change the words I use?  They're just words and they have no negative or restrictive connotations to them for me.

natural wrote:

Learn to embrace the uknown without fear. You already admitted we are limited creatures with limited knowledge, so of course there is going to be a lot of unknowns out there. There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing to fear. We don't know, and that's okay. Why is the universe here? I don't know. Why do I exist as I am, rather than as some other form? I don't know. I don't have to pretend that I know that some mysterious 'god' is responsible.

How did life begin? I don't know. Not scary at all. In fact, it is quite liberating.

One of the great things about admitting you don't know so many different things is that is sparks your natural urge to *learn*. This is the natural urge to wonder. The next step after admitting you don't know is to simply let yourself feel that wondering feeling.

How does this 'simple' chemistry form such amazing and complex life? I don't know. Hmm. I wonder how it does! Let me go and find out!

The more you learn about these various topics, the more wonder you will feel. As the old saying goes, the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know.

I hope you try this little exercise in earnest, maybe for like a week or two. It can't really hurt, can it? Good luck.


For as long as I can recall, I have pretty much been reciting these same questions to myself every day.  I'm not afraid of these questions.  Not at all - these, I believe, are the questions every person seeking spiritual answers should be dwelling on, as well.  These questions aren't just limited to the physical, for me.  They are just as important to the spiritual journey.  Everything you said in that section are the things I dwell on, physically and spiritually.  While we're encouraging each other to branch out, I would encourage you to expand your wonder of existence beyond this physical boundary we are confined to and explore the possibility of the spiritual side.

 


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Bootie wrote:For as long as

Bootie wrote:
For as long as I can recall, I have pretty much been reciting these same questions to myself every day.  I'm not afraid of these questions.  Not at all - these, I believe, are the questions every person seeking spiritual answers should be dwelling on, as well.  These questions aren't just limited to the physical, for me.  They are just as important to the spiritual journey.  Everything you said in that section are the things I dwell on, physically and spiritually.  While we're encouraging each other to branch out, I would encourage you to expand your wonder of existence beyond this physical boundary we are confined to and explore the possibility of the spiritual side.

Right, but here's the problem: We need a definition of 'spiritual' that isn't negative. Meaning, that isn't 'it's above or beyond' whatever... 'our understanding,' 'we in the physical world' whatever else you've got.

And you didn't answer Natural's questions. Even though you said you would. *I'M* getting insulted, and I'm not even a part of that conversation.

When you say something 'isn't limited in the physical for me'- what does that MEAN?!? That you can IMAGINE a world beyond our own that isn't physical in some way? Because nobody's been able to find it- not by 'pure reason,' not by inductive logic, not by deductive logic, and all empirical tests for it have come up negative- out of body experiences, spiritualism, psychic powers, psychometry, souls... they've been tested and NOTHING has been found. So what's left? What is a 'spiritual realm?' Is it an ever-retreating realm of potential, just another word for the unknown? Because that's what it seems like you're doing here- just giving a fancy-ass name to the unknown.

Just call it the unknown; don't pretend like you know, or that it's REALLY cool that we don't know and that therefore that's proof of a supernatural realm, because really, it isn't. It's kind of scary. You're playing make-believe, but you're taking it very seriously. And you're telling us here to 'keep an open mind' about your play-pretend land. Sorry- it don't work that way. You must give us EVIDENCE. We have seen none so far, thus, we are atheists. Though some are agnostics of different stripes (myself, for instance.) That still doesn't mean we're going to take Platonic 'evidence' as honest-to-goodness proof of reality.

OrdinaryClay wrote:
If you don't believe your non-belief then you don't believe and you must not be an atheist.


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Crazymonkie is correct. What

Crazymonkie is correct. What you are doing is tremendously problematic. Let's go back to the beginnin and see if we can tighten up your definitions a bit. In making the assertion that "there exists a spiritual realm" no conversation can progress until you answer the following question: Are you attempting to introduce a seperate ontology? If you are then you will run into serious problems because "physical reality" is not a set of arbitrarily defined limits. It is defined by the limits of our ability to gain knowledge a posteriori. That is exactly the sentiment expressed in my signature. If you aren't attempting to introduce a separate ontology, then the word "spiritual" no longer refers to any facet of objective reality and so any sentence which makes claims about a "spiritual realm" lacks propositional content.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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The words god,

The words god, spiritual,magic in normal use refer to activities that are unknowable as opposed to unknown. That is why rational people tend to strongly dislike them.

They are words that mean surrender, give up, sink into ignorance. They are ugly words often with really ugly supporters (not all some are just misguided)

I cannot be certain that everything in the universe given enough time can be 'known' but I do know with total certainity that we can try , that we can make progress that we can fill at least some of the gaps and that process will aid humanity.


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Bootie wrote:That's fine,

Bootie wrote:
That's fine, but the word "unknown" would simply take on the same meaning for me that the word "God" or "Love" has.  So why do I need to change the words I use?  They're just words and they have no negative or restrictive connotations to them for me.

So.....for you, these words are just descriptions of the indescribable?

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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HisWillness wrote:Bootie

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
Nobody knows the answers and no one can claim they are correct.


This is my point. We're discussing something about which nothing can be determined.


You don't have to discuss it if you don't want to.
HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
The purpose spirituality is in the journey.


Hold on. Back up. I was with you for the first statement, but now you're professing knowledge of something that cannot be known.


No, I'm not "professing" anything.  I'm sharing my thoughts on spirituality, not some divine knowledge that I am correct.  If you're going to participate in the discussion about something which nothing can be determined, at least do me the favor of not twisting my words.  Thanks.

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
It's the spiritual growth which is important and the seeking of answers/ideas which is important.  Being "right" is not required.  I know my image of God may be completely off-base, but I have grown spiritually because I have been active in the search.


...The idea that you have a spirit or soul is a cultural remnant of medieval philosophy. It's not fact. It's not even close to a fact.


I had no idea you were the authority on the fact and fiction of souls and spirituality.  Shit dude, did you really just type that sentence claiming to know facts about something which you claim cannot be determined???   And you think MY claims are bold??

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
Why do we know so much about our physical universe?


The empirical method.

Bootie wrote:
Because we SEEK answers.


No. The method of seeking is much more important than simply seeking.

Perhaps true for things of science.  My point was THAT we seek (as opposed to not seeking answers at all) not necessarily what method we use to seek.  I think you knew that.

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
I think it is arrogant for anyone to assume that humanity now understands enough about our own reality and existence to be able to rule out the possibility of something in a more "spiritual realm", especially with such dogmatic certainty.  See the irony?


No, because nobody said it's "impossible", just "so highly unlikely that it's up there with Santa and the Tooth Fairy".


You've admitted a spiritual realm isn't impossible, just very unlikely.  That's a great first step.  I'm so proud of you.  Eye-wink

Look, people don't "feel" santa and the tooth fairy, nobody claims they are real and no one devotes their life to them.  You can't be serious when you compare those human inventions to the concept of spirituality.  That's such a worthless comparison.

If you're going to be scientific about it, it's either possible or it's not, there is no in between.  You've just affirmed that something spiritual is not entirely impossible.  So, if an unknown spiritual side is possible despite the lack of evidence, then isn't an unknown God also possible despite the lack of evidence?  Why not?

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
Is it so absolutely impossible that there might be an unseen spiritual nature coexisting right alongside this physical nature which we currently reside in?


Santa?

see above.

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
Is it so wildly impossible that some people might be, in a small way, somehow in touch with this spirituality to a small degree?


Tooth Fairy?

see above.

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
What we FEEL does not need hard evidence.


It does when you make positive claims about it.


I've made claims about MY personal experiences and beliefs.  They are claims which are certainly positive for ME.  Again, don't twist my words.  What I feel needs no hard evidence to me, and what you feel needs no hard evidence to you.  That was the point.  I think you knew that, too.

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
When you Love someone, you don't need any other evidence beyond what you can feel.


Yeah, but that's being in love with someone real, and not claiming that they are the creator of the universe. Completely different!


You are just dodging the point.  The point is that if you feel something which is spiritual in nature, you don't need any other evidence than what you feel.  The analogy was of the "proof of Love" to the "proof of spirituality" and that they are both based on feel rather than solid evidence.  

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
You have been disappointed in your lack of evidence because you are trying to find the "evidence" of God by opening your eyes wide and studying all the rational, measurable things around you, when closing your eyes and focusing your study inward would yield better results.


Wow. Have you read Plotinus? You're reciting him quite well.


Never heard of him.  Googled him tonight after your mention, though. 
 


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deludedgod

deludedgod wrote:

Quote:

hahaha, same thing I thought from much of your writings - and I don't mean that in a derogatory way.  I respect your knowledge in those areas.

Think of it this way:  I'm not well-versed in the scientific kind of stuff you know.  You appear to be a very well-educated person in those areas of biology, chemistry, science, etc...  You understand that stuff on a level which I cannot comprehend and much of it is very incoherent to me despite however well-defined the terms are.  If I studied it more, I could probably understand it more.

Ah, but that's not a fair comparison. The reason that these terms are incomprehensible to you is because they are technical. That is, they can be grasped with sufficient study. The phrase "there is some entity which occupies a spiritual realm which is outside human understanding" means nothing to me. The phrase "the Pauli group of a quantum system is the n-rank exterior product of the individual spin matrices" makes perfect sense to me. The reason the first statement doesn't make any sense at all is not because there is some deep and technical meaning to it that it cannot be grasped without it, it is because my understanding of epistemology informs me that (a) the sentence contains a contradiction and (b) there are terms in there which lack predicates such as "spiritual". In other words, my failure to comprehend the first sentence is not due to missing a particular faculty or technical training, and it is not the result of not having "explored it". On the contrary, it is the result of having dissected it.

 

One reason my statement makes no sense to you is because you are trying to understand MY image of God instead of your own.  Of course, I don't expect you to comprehend that statement, either.  Sorry.  It's hard enough to put my feelings into words in a fashion which paint a clear picture for myself, and even tougher to try and describe what I feel to someone else.  Particularly someone who doesn't want to accept them. 

As for this:

Quote:

In other words, my failure to comprehend the first sentence is not due to missing a particular faculty or technical training, and it is not the result of not having "explored it".

We're just gonna have to disagree on this one.  I think your failure to comprehend the first sentence is, likely, for those precise reasons you listed, aside from "technical training" (of course there is no technical training for spirituality).  I mean, how can you be certain that it's not some missing faculty on your part?  Perhaps you just don't have the "spiritual gene" haha.  I doubt that's the case.  I think it's more likely that your spiritual side is just out of practice.  You are either not in touch with, or  missing something entirely that a WHOLE lot of other people in the world have, and who feel strongly enough in to let it affect the way they live their lives. 

Who are you to tell someone else that what they FEEL is not valid just because you can't feel it, too?  That's pretty arrogant, don't you think?

ATTENTION EVERYONE:  may I have your attention, please.  From this point forth, all personal feelings must be approved by deludedgod.  Thank you for your cooperation.

But you're correct, the comparison with science is not the best example.  Let's do it with music.  I was fortunate enough to be born with some strong musical abilities.  I have a finely-tuned senses of things like rhythm, tuning, and the ability to hear a song for the first time and then be able to play it on the guitar without any formal training in music.  In my experience, there are vast differences in the way that people comprehend and "feel" music.  Rhythm is a perfect example.  Most non-musical folks simply do not feel rhythm like musical folks do.  I've taught a lot of folks guitar and one thing I see everyday is that some people have rhythm and others don't.  And there isn't a lot of in-between with rhythm - it's one of those things that you either have or you don't (personally, I think the rhythm is there somewhere and just needs to be uncovered). Teaching rhythm to someone who doesn't appear to have it is like you trying to explain the biology of life to a broom.  It's painful and impossible.  I feel rhythm so strongly yet there simply is no way to "teach" it to someone who isn't in touch with it.  There is no technical guide to rhythm, and it cannot be taught to someone who is out of touch with it by the most proficient musician or scholar.  You could learn all the music theory and technical music education in the world, but it's all lost if you aren't in touch with that sense of rhythm inside you.  If a person without it is to ever hone in on it, they will have to do it on their own terms.  There isn't much anyone else can do to "show" them.  Usually, when I try to help someone with their rhythm who doesn't have it, anything I say just gets lost because they are trying too hard.  I see the pain in their face as they force the strum on the beat and are trying to count at the same time - eyes wide open as they try to "make" the rhythm be there instead of just closing their eyes, feeling it and letting it flow out.

Very very similar to spirituality. 

Just because you can't "feel the rhythm" doesn't mean no one else can.


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HisWillness wrote:Bootie

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
The same is true of spiritual matters.  If you explored it with an open mind and tried, you might understand it better.


I have to echo deludedgod's sentiment that this isn't a fair comparison. Just in case you thought it was just a matter of philosophical difference. It isn't. Like you said, if you went to school and received a technical education, you would understand what deludedgod was talking about, because the terms he's using refer to something specifically. They describe a process that can be observed and quantified.


See my post about rhythm, above.

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
I imagine our biggest difference is that we are simply wired differently.  We're two different types of people, and that goes back to the science.


But you say that without any education in "wiring". So it's a wild guess on your part that you and deludedgod, in your preference for different activities, have different "wiring".

Equally wild are your guesses about the spiritual realm, which defies description.


A difference in "wiring" is simply one possible (and very reasonable) explanation of why he (deludedgod) and I are unable to understand each other's perspectives.
 


deludedgod
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Quote:Sorry.  It's hard

Quote:

One reason my statement makes no sense to you is because you are trying to understand MY image of God instead of your own.

Well, you've already equivocated the term "God" to a known empirical phenomena (i.e "love" ). The clearest problem I can see is that the term is so devoid of meaning that people use it to mean whatever they wish. You may say there is no problem with that, but there obviously is (no one can have a private language, after all), because then the danger of equivocating becomes clear.

Quote:

Sorry.  It's hard enough to put my feelings into words in a fashion which paint a clear picture for myself, and even tougher to try and describe what I feel to someone else.  Particularly someone who doesn't want to accept them.

If the knowledge claim you are making about a "spiritual realm" is an objective claim that pertains to external reality, then your feelings do not matter in the slightest, nor do my own, or anyone else's. If you are not making a claim about objective reality, and you aren't introducing a separate ontology, then there is no basis for our disagreement since you aren't making any assertion about the external world.

Quote:

Who are you to tell someone else that what they FEEL is not valid just because you can't feel it, too?  That's pretty arrogant, don't you think?

Please consult the post I wrote below crazymonkie. If you are making a claim about objective reality, then I can certainly tell you that what you are claiming is invalid. That's the problem. You write so incoherently it is impossible for me to discern the nature of your claim. So I submit to you again: Are you introducing a separate ontology? Are you making a claim about external reality? If you are making a claim about external reality, and you are introducing a separate ontology, then what predicates can you introduce to make these claims meaningful?

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


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crazymonkie wrote:And you

crazymonkie wrote:
And you didn't answer Natural's questions. Even though you said you would. *I'M* getting insulted, and I'm not even a part of that conversation.

What question did I leave unanswered?  I went through his entire post and inserted responses.  What did I miss which is so concerning?  I'll be glad to respond to it.  Just let me know.

 


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That was actually an error

That was actually an error on my part. The quotes were messed up the first time I read it, so I thought you'd just quoted at length from previous posts and hadn't replied.

 

Regardless, you still haven't given a positive ontology for the supernatural. You've said a great deal about what the supernatural *isn't*, and your arguments, as Will pointed out, repeats the same old Neoplatonist claims- from Aquinas via Augustine, starting (roughly) with Plotinus, that the supernatural is unknowable and unavailable for empirical study.

Which makes this whole discussion moot anyway. Which was something that confused me about variants of the Platonic god (Christianity, certain Deists, the ancient Gnostic schools, Manichaeism, etc.): If god is so unknowable, WHY ARE THERE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO CLAIM THAT IT'S THERE AT ALL?!?

Something so inscrutable, powerful and distant, and which cannot be known well (except, perhaps after death), seems to have a lot of theorists and people who *know* what god wants and thinks and does.

All without evidence, too. No, personal experience does not count; no, intuition does not count. These things can, on occasion, point people in the right direction. But the idea of 'pure reason' being a valid epistemological system was debunked in the 18th century. It's why we only talk about David Hume in a historical context, not in a sense of his theories being correct.

OrdinaryClay wrote:
If you don't believe your non-belief then you don't believe and you must not be an atheist.


HisWillness
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Bootie wrote:HisWillness

Bootie wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
The purpose spirituality is in the journey.


Hold on. Back up. I was with you for the first statement, but now you're professing knowledge of something that cannot be known.


No, I'm not "professing" anything.  I'm sharing my thoughts on spirituality, not some divine knowledge that I am correct.  If you're going to participate in the discussion about something which nothing can be determined, at least do me the favor of not twisting my words.  Thanks.

You professed to know the purpose [of] spirituality. You said it is "in the journey". How am I twisting your words? How are you not professing to know something, there?

HisWillness wrote:
I had no idea you were the authority on the fact and fiction of souls and spirituality.  Shit dude, did you really just type that sentence claiming to know facts about something which you claim cannot be determined???   And you think MY claims are bold??

Actually, just on fact, not fiction. Facts are things that can be determined to be true or false. Can we determine that you have a spirit? No. So it's not a matter of fact. I'm sorry if you misunderstood what I was saying. Google "Karl Popper".

Bootie wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

Bootie wrote:
Why do we know so much about our physical universe?


The empirical method.

Bootie wrote:
Because we SEEK answers.


No. The method of seeking is much more important than simply seeking.

Perhaps true for things of science.  My point was THAT we seek (as opposed to not seeking answers at all) not necessarily what method we use to seek.  I think you knew that.

No, I answered your questions. I wasn't even being tricky, I just answered your questions with plain answers. Yes, we seek, but all methods of seeking do not produce equal results.

HisWillness wrote:
You've admitted a spiritual realm isn't impossible, just very unlikely.  That's a great first step.  I'm so proud of you.  Eye-wink

I've never felt otherwise.

Bootie wrote:
You can't be serious when you compare those human inventions to the concept of spirituality.

Well, I'm an atheist, so your gods are human inventions to me. As is your spirituality.

Bootie wrote:
If you're going to be scientific about it, it's either possible or it's not, there is no in between.

If I'm going to be scientific about it, I would describe it in terms of probability. Everything is possible in the realm of scientific inquiry. Things are just either probable or improbable. 

Bootie wrote:
You've just affirmed that something spiritual is not entirely impossible. So, if an unknown spiritual side is possible despite the lack of evidence, then isn't an unknown God also possible despite the lack of evidence?

Yes, of course. Just highly improbable. And also very difficult to deal with in terms of the "spiritual", considering the "spiritual" remains unavailable to us, in terms of understanding. We can guess about it, or make up things about it, but since we know nothing about it, we're left guessing and making stuff up about a place we're not sure exists.

Bootie wrote:
I've made claims about MY personal experiences and beliefs.  They are claims which are certainly positive for ME.  Again, don't twist my words.  What I feel needs no hard evidence to me, and what you feel needs no hard evidence to you.  That was the point.  I think you knew that, too.

Actually, I didn't. I thought you were making claims about the world. If you're just describing your feelings, then that's fine.

Bootie wrote:
You are just dodging the point.  The point is that if you feel something which is spiritual in nature, you don't need any other evidence than what you feel.

But you're assuming a lot when you have a feeling and blame it on a place that you're not sure exists. You're having a feeling, and interpreting it as "spiritual", when by everyone's admission, we know exactly nothing about the spiritual.

That's my problem with the spiritual.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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crazymonkie wrote:When you

crazymonkie wrote:


When you say something 'isn't limited in the physical for me'- what does that MEAN?!? That you can IMAGINE a world beyond our own that isn't physical in some way? Because nobody's been able to find it- not by 'pure reason,' not by inductive logic, not by deductive logic, and all empirical tests for it have come up negative- out of body experiences, spiritualism, psychic powers, psychometry, souls... they've been tested and NOTHING has been found. So what's left? What is a 'spiritual realm?' Is it an ever-retreating realm of potential, just another word for the unknown? Because that's what it seems like you're doing here- just giving a fancy-ass name to the unknown.

Just call it the unknown; don't pretend like you know, or that it's REALLY cool that we don't know and that therefore that's proof of a supernatural realm, because really, it isn't. It's kind of scary. You're playing make-believe, but you're taking it very seriously. And you're telling us here to 'keep an open mind' about your play-pretend land. Sorry- it don't work that way. You must give us EVIDENCE. We have seen none so far, thus, we are atheists. Though some are agnostics of different stripes (myself, for instance.) That still doesn't mean we're going to take Platonic 'evidence' as honest-to-goodness proof of reality.


To me, spirituality is more than just  a fancy label for "the unknown".  Maybe it could be called "a divine engergy" - and I don't think "it's REALLY cool" that you don't know - I hate that you cannot feel what I feel because I'd love for you to. 

It keeps coming back to needing evidence.  Tell me, if a "spiritual reality" does exist, what makes you think it could be measured or quantified using the tools of this physical reality?  You might as well take a bathroom scale to the space station to conduct experiments.  Think about the absurdity of what you're asking for.  You want:

1.  Hard evidence of something outside this physical reality.
2.  But you want it in terms OF this physical reality, and you want it to be measured and calculated using the tools and instruments and logic which apply to this physical reality.
3.  And if that's not silly enough, you want someone else to go collect this evidence and bring it to you without doing any of the study or investigation yourself.

Why don't you ask me to measure the inspiration and creativity which created a beautiful painting while you're at it?  You can't seriously expect to get any answers that way.  As smart and educated as most of you seem to be, I'm amazed you haven't considered that.  I don't think you want to see the evidence as much as you want to gloat that no one can provide it.

I'm curious to hear any thoughts about the analogy to "rhythm" I made in an earlier response to deludedgod.  There are a LOT of people in the world who - in one way or another - seem to have this "connection" - for lack of a better word - with the spiritual.  Are they all delusional?  Is it possible that, perhaps they are simply in tune with something that you cannot see because you're caught up in looking for the evidence in terms of the physical? 

deludedgod, I'm not ignoring your post, just wanted to get this one done and give yours some thought.


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Sorry for the delay.  I've

Sorry for the delay.  I've been pretty busy.  Plus I had to look up "ontology" and I'm still not 100% certain of its meaning.  Here's the deal with what I'm trying to say...

I'm not intentionally trying to introduce some separate "ontology", but perhaps I am doing so without knowing it.  What I AM doing is simply stating my own personal belief that I/we, and possibly all of life are more than this physical reality that our limited senses tell us about.  And it may well be beyond the reach of our physical understanding and comprehension.  How can I make such a claim with no physical evidence to present?

Not sure how to answer that.  Call it a hunch, perhaps.  Surely you've followed up on a hunch before, even without having hard evidence, right?

Here's what a friend of mine says about the physical/spiritual, and I really like this approach:

Quote:
So as I hear how a quark can be somehow measured and split - then separate the 2 parts by great distances - and scientists introduce a stimulus to the 1 half in one location, making that half react - and witnessing the second half in the other location react simultaneously to the stimulus that was introduced to its other half in the other distant location


THEN - possibly I need to wonder if there's more to the idea of a spiritual world - than what I had previously imagined. That maybe - just possibly - the spiritual world isn't seperate from our current physical world - but an extension. That there is a connection that we have yet to detect (or are just beginning to detect the thinnest layer of) that exist between what we percieve as a physical provable world reality - and - what we once thought of as seperate - "SPIRITUAL" world/reality.

I'd still love to hear some response to my comparison with rhythm.  So far none has responded.


crazymonkie
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Bootie wrote:What I AM doing

Bootie wrote:
What I AM doing is simply stating my own personal belief that I/we, and possibly all of life are more than this physical reality that our limited senses tell us about.  And it may well be beyond the reach of our physical understanding and comprehension.  How can I make such a claim with no physical evidence to present?

And that's the problem: If it's not in the physical universe, that is, if it can't be empirically uncovered, measured and so on, if it does exist, it is irrelevant. If it can be empirically uncovered, etc., it becomes part of the physical world, and thus, no longer part of the ontology of 'supernatural.' Either Hamby or todangst wrote about this in an article; it's somewhere in the archives here. Or they'll just post it again- it's a great read.

Quote:
Call it a hunch, perhaps.  Surely you've followed up on a hunch before, even without having hard evidence, right?

Yes, but to make the claims into facts, we need evidence. And so far, all evidence via empirical study- double-blind tests and so on- have not made the case for supernatural powers, beings or realms.

OrdinaryClay wrote:
If you don't believe your non-belief then you don't believe and you must not be an atheist.


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Bootie wrote:1.  Hard

Bootie wrote:

1.  Hard evidence of something outside this physical reality.
2.  But you want it in terms OF this physical reality, and you want it to be measured and calculated using the tools and instruments and logic which apply to this physical reality.

I think you would make much more progress in this discussion if you just skipped the impending semantic issues and divided everything into what we can understand/discover and what we can't. If it can be understood, great. Just present the evidence. If you define it as something that can't be understood or discovered, then it's rather pointless to talk about it, isn't it?

Quote:
3.  And if that's not silly enough, you want someone else to go collect this evidence and bring it to you without doing any of the study or investigation yourself.

Why is that silly? Does the defendant, in the courtroom, hold the obligation of prosecuting himself? No. It is one of the most basic principles in philosophy that the individual making the positive claim must present the arguments for their position. If a Christian wanted to convince me that the Christian God existed, he needs to present the evidence. Do I force him to do this because I am lazy or scared of God existing? No. It's because the Christian is making the positive claim, and I have never seen any credible evidence for his claim. If I told you that Santa Claus existed, are you going to go look for evidence supporting the existence of Santa Claus? No. You're going to ask me for evidence. Now, why would you do that?  

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare