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About Kingfisher

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    Cherished Friend
  • Birthday 10/15/1970

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    Blue Ridge Mountains

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  1. Aren't all theistic religions nationalistic? They all draw a line between their tribe and others. Atheists and universalists even do this. They don't have mundane borders, but they erect walls between them nonetheless. Thanks for your feedback. I wanted to consider your words carefully before I replied directly. Much of human communication is non-verbal, for which the internet (and text in general) is poorly suited to transmit, yet it also offers us the advantage of conversations which may take place in a more timeless fashion. Whether the gain of this benefit is sufficient to overcome what we have lost in the other remains to be seen. In its early days we thought cyberspace would bring about a wonderful transformation of society, but then so did Gutenburg before the printing press facilitated a great many wars. It seems that ignorance propagates much faster than the speed of light. More to the point, I know from experience in this forum that your personal philosophy is more complicated than a simple "I don't know". I think that's a fair enough attempt to offer an apologia for that which cannot be explained, simple and forthright, although I do not agree that this is a tenable position. Your defense of atheism would be more puzzling if I have not myself been, at times, both certain there are gods and certain there are not. I am only agnostic if I view my life as the sum of many moments about which I can certainly declare to have no preference for one or the other, and that would be repeating my own mistake. We often discuss society as if it were a person, that it should behave (or not behave) thus or so as if it were a living being. Whether believers or non-believers, there are many who would mold it according to their own vision of perfection. In truth, there is no such thing as society. There is no theistic realism or dialectical materialism. These concepts don't possess a reality independent of our minds. They aren't things of matter, or conscious, living wills guiding the whole in the way our brains control the function of our bodies, they're merely words we have assigned to arbitrary boundaries... yet they have had a profound observable impact upon the world. Ideas are ghosts, but in some sense they are as real as we. Some may know this metaphysical reality as God, or Buddha, or many other names, and some may know it not at all, but it remains, in form and formlessness, both dependent and independent of the world. Individual minds may die, yet the emergent spirit which influences them does not die. Entire collectives may die, yet in time myriad new ones may arise from the same substance, and within each is revealed the same wild, uncreated spirit, a potentiality which inhabits the void as a seed in the mud awaits the rain. Can this spirit even be tamed? Why is it considered practical, or ethical, or desirable, to manipulate that spirit - to confine and direct its course as if we were gods ourselves? If this is hubris, why then is it proper to ever to argue at all? Of what use is apologetics for any philosophy, or lack thereof? God is not the author of confusion, it is created by the restless monkey mind which insists upon distinctions it has conjured out of thin air. If, indeed, there is any difference between Frankenstein and his monster. I wholeheartedly agree with your comment, but given the online format I'm afraid it would have been quite impossible to get to the point without first leaving it. I am aware that this was a controversial approach to take, and in defense of my own faith I apologize only for lacking the eloquence of the prophets. Being a son of thunder is a mixed blessing, so to speak. "Then he put away his sanghati robe and his bowl, washed his feet, arranged his cushion, and sat down." - Diamond Sutra
  2. Thanks for not taking offense where none was intended. It's very strange being told that my interpretation of my own words is incorrect. I don't think it's unreasonable to state that this particular conflict has dominated the global stage for the last century (and perhaps a great deal longer than that). It's quite obvious that there are many shades of gray, however from where I stand the core of that struggle seems to revolve around faith/faithlessness, and the whole world is fractured as folks lean to varying degrees in one direction or the other, with increasing polarization toward the extremes outlined in those two schools of thought. It's the non-compromising/non-negotiable aspect of the dichotomy which intrigues me. I've been looking into Islamic socialism (as a study rather than an embrace of ideology), which would seem to be an impossible synthesis of the two perspectives I've been describing, yet there are those who believe there can be a reconciliation. I'm not so sure about that, but if there is I figured it's worth exploring the nature of these antagonistic world views. If we strip all the other philosophy and unnecessary baggage away, what we're left with is simple belief and non-belief. Logic would seem to dictate that one cannot exist in both states simultaneously, and the numerous conflicts I've observed over many years tend to validate that conclusion, but on the other hand, subatomic particles do that sort of thing all the time. In a traditional mainframe data is stored in bits that can be either on or off, whereas in quantum computing a qbit can be in a coherent superposition. That state is all I was hoping to achieve, or at least understand. I know I "came out of nowhere" (as kingfishers tend to do) but I didn't think I needed a personal invitation to a forum I've been participating in for the last decade, or that I'd be treated as if I were a malicious interloper. Can we resolve this dispute among ourselves, and more importantly, among all the people of the world? Should we even try? If so, how do we get from here to there? I know it's a monumental problem to tackle, but I don't need help with the simple questions. "Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it's been." - Grateful Dead
  3. I wasn't attempting to conflate them. I was attempting to distill the two philosophies down to their essence in order to compare and contrast the essential aspects, and applying that to a similar (not identical) relationship I've been observing among the participants in this forum in order to draw focus away from personal attacks and illuminate a much wider conflict which exists in global society. (Secondarily, to gently steer the discussion back toward the topic at hand, that being apologetics.) You can call my input BS if you disagree, however the "dirty and shameful" accusation was a biased assumption and completely unwarranted, although I can understand the defensiveness if you felt my commentary was an intentional mis-characterization of all atheists. It's interesting that you found no such animosity in the parallel between theistic realism and the fundamentalist Christian point of view espoused by other members, for there is certainly an analogous persecution among the faithful who do not adhere to the more rigid schools of thought. It seems that differences of opinion are being taken a little too personally, here to a lesser degree and in the wider world to a much greater degree, which is precisely the problem I thought needed to be addressed. I chose those particular terms because I believe this duality strikes to the heart of the matter, and we are, after all, in a philosophy and theory forum, not a kindergarten or political brouhaha. I wouldn't care if you are a communist. I don't care if folks are papists or pagans or polytheistic pluralists. I'm not here to beat anyone up for what they believe, I'm only exploring ideas and searching for ways to heal rifts that don't need to exist. When I see irreconcilable differences I try find a new perspective which will bring accord among them. I'm a minister, that's what I do. That's who I am. I had hoped we could all strive together for a harmonious dialogue more befitting this hallowed conclave. The bare-knuckle brawling I've witnessed does not create the sort of atmosphere which is welcoming to others who may wish to participate and educate themselves. If y'all would rather continue raining fire and brimstone down on each other then I'll apologize for intruding upon your enthusiastic discord and humbly leave you to it.
  4. I'm afraid you've misunderstood both my argument and intent. I've never been hostile towards atheists, in this forum or elsewhere, and I've never presumed to assign particular beliefs to an individual based on how they choose to identify themselves. If you wish to confront my logic or condemn my motives, I'd appreciate it if you didn't talk about me as if I'm not here.
  5. I think Republicans are dumbing it down because most voters aren't philosophers, but they sense their entire understanding of reality coming under attack and the message resonates with them. A similar campaign can be seen coming from Democrats, who have taken a sharp left turn in recent years. No war is waged by only one participant. I'm still painting the conflict with a pretty wide brush myself. There are, of course, many variations across society, but I think it strikes to the heart of the matter when we examine the big picture. There is a particularly militant strain of atheism, born of socialist ideology, which cannot tolerate other world views, an almost religious devotion to a scientific methodology that refuses to entertain anything it can't explain. This is in direct competition with the spiritual mind which forms the foundation of every theistic belief system and interacts with the universe in a more abstract way, many of whose disciples are equally intolerant of ideas that challenge their dogma. Pure secularism can be as harmful to society as pure faith. There are many people who can't see the miracle in the maths, and the subsequent irreverence of creation, both above and below, is the source of a great deal of strife. Some reject the gods and some reject reason, and in the extremes find they cannot co-exist. In a polarized political climate this becomes more prominent. I don't mean to accuse anyone here of subscribing to a particular narrow-minded outlook, but I do see the greater global struggle reflected here. The fundamental schism sparking the local feud seems to be rooted in this same conflict, and in a fractal way appears on many levels of modern culture. I don't sense any deep hostility here. I know folks like a good intellectual ruckus now and then, but this forum generally has a more mature attitude towards opposition than your average internet kerfuffle. Since the discussion touched on worldly affairs (and I figured it best to nip the politics in the bud before it gets out of hand) I thought it might be useful to draw some parallels. I've found that a little more contemplation and a little less passion helps to smooth over tense situations and keeps things from devolving into the bellum omnium contra omnes. I'm more of a transcendental idealist. Mine is the way of balance and unity. (I tried to take sides, but I just Kant 😜) That brings it's own problems, since I'm as likely to draw ire from both wings as I am to resolve the dispute, but I am what I am. If nothing else is to be accomplished I'd hoped this meditation might teach me something about how to approach the issue in broader scope without adding more fuel to an already raging fire. It's all well and good to sit back and ponder the great mysteries of life from afar, but if we want to make a difference in the world we have to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.
  6. Are you suggesting that there isn't an ideological war between theistic realism and dialectical materialism? It seems to me that this philosophical divide is the primary engine of discontent in contemporary society in general, and this thread in particular. I'm not saying that the intellectual conflict is a bad thing, if y'all want to keep metaphysically punching each other in the face that's your own business, I'm just making an observation. I've known most of you for a long time and I hate to see my friends tearing this sanctuary apart like wild beasts, but if nothing else this conversation has illustrated both the necessity and infecundity of apologetics. Perhaps there's some wisdom to be gleaned from that. 🕊️
  7. Kingfisher


    Definitions can change according to context, both literary and cultural. An interpreter who is "wrong" may simply be looking at things from a different point of view. For example, in a strict linear sense it would be wrong to associate the contemporary vulgar definition of "Sin" with the ancient Mesopotamian/Arabian lunar deity of the same appellation (represented by a bull, or an old man with a flowing beard - the father of the sun - He who presides over the court of death and provides abundance to mankind, whose name in Old Babylonian literally translates to "underworld of divine bitterness" but was sometimes known as "the fruit"), yet upon deeper reflection it seems that it would also not be precisely wrong. The etymological and semantic (and indeed, religious) histories of the word and precept are intertwined like a strand of DNA - separate, yet inseparable, and expressing themselves through the ages in myriad ways. That's the trouble with symbols, even (or especially) those as advanced and complex as the ones through which we (often clumsily) communicate today . . . we are all born into ignorance, and whether the signs be cast in gold or carved in stone or inked on papyrus or recorded in an electromagnetic field or woven into the very fabric of creation, when the fiery passions of man rule over the calm mind of reason and the peaceful spirit of loving-kindness, it's easy to miss the mark and mistake a child of god for a sacred offering. None of us are so wise as to grok the entire context of even the simplest motif, and in that light we should reject the mortal trap which ensnared Narcissus and grant each other, and ourselves, a degree of mercy when judging errors (or truths) of augury and exegesis. 🖖
  8. Kingfisher


    That's a good question. It depends on your definition of the term. I've never personally claimed to be persecuted as a Christian, but I've witnessed some who have died for their faith. I won't get into the gory details except to say that the world is a very troubled place. There are many people who will not tolerate the existence of any beliefs but their own. That has caused me a great deal of suffering. “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
  9. My name, roughly translated from the tongue of my ancestors, means "shepherd king". How does that old saw go... "God never gives you anything more than you can handle, I just wish He didn't trust me so much." Welcome home, Brother. I look forward to seeing things from your point of view. Every seat is a hot one around here, ain't it? ⚸ 𒀭 ☸
  10. Kingfisher

    Racing with a tiger

    "In any case, you can't have effective allegory in times when people are swept this way and that by momentary convictions, because everyone will read it differently. You can't indicate moral values when morality changes with what is being done, because there is no accepted basis of judgment. And you cannot show the operation of grace when grace is cut off from nature or when the very possibility of grace is denied, because no one will have the least idea of what you are about." - Flannery O'Connor
  11. Kingfisher

    Racing with a tiger

    Thinking Visually About Higher Dimensions
  12. Kingfisher

    Racing with a tiger

    Even if I presume the most common usage of language, I haven't done any of the measurements myself. I have faith that the Earth is "spherical" (although viewed in higher dimensions I'd call it something else, and agree that it was flat in two) because I have confidence in the methodology. Other minds with empirical evidence might know, but based on the subjective standard of consensus we've arbitrarily just agreed upon, I don't. My intuitive sense tells me that dogs know things, but I've yet to make any gnostic observations about the geometry of the Earth. It seems kinda silly to describe the world of form with the tools of the supernatural (or vice versa). If I had to assign language to it I might say that when you get down deep enough, everything looks rather wiggly. Spiritually it's ineffable, and materially it's subjective. Philosophically I don't know if there's any true knowledge in the chaos, or if we're just seeing horses in the clouds and sharing the delusion.
  13. Kingfisher

    Racing with a tiger

    Aye, I could say I know it's an oblate spheroid, it all depends on your point of view. That's the problem - it depends on the definition of knowledge. I assume epistemological reflection was the point of this exercise, but I didn't pose the question and I don't want to assume the definition, ergo I don't know if I know the answer (or even can, if we're talking about intellectual purity). Could be false, could be true. I don't know. I have no frame of reference. I could have just asked, or supplied my own, but I know this ain't the kiddie pool so I figure as long as I'm jumping in I might as well dive deep and cut right to the heart of the matter. I "know" the whole universe is flat, but that's just, like, my opinion, man. If I answered any other way it would have been a lie. Is that too much purity? I don't know. It depends on your point of view.
  14. Kingfisher

    Racing with a tiger

    I don't know if I know that.
  15. Are you calling my wife a whore? 🖖 "The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate." - Isaiah 34:14-15 [KJV]