Prayer Partner
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Everything posted by mererdog

  1. From the article- "Whatever form it takes, the Torah regards preserving the dignity and self-respect of the receiver as a cornerstone of tzedakah." From the story- "In doing so the Rabbi had released the man from the guilt of his actions." In the context of story, the guilt of his actions reduces the thief's self-respect. As such, the rabbi "gifted" not only his belongings, but also the thief's self-worth. According to the ideals presented in the article, this is a higher form of charity.
  2. Well, no. If belief is not a choice, I will either believe or disbelieve based on factors other than me making a choice. Your experiment does not isolate the variable (choice), therefore its results say nothing about the variable (choice). If I believe, it may be because I chose, or it may be because I was preconditioned to do so, and your experiment gives no clues as to which is true. It also does nothing to rule out the possibility that God hardened my heart amd forced me to believe a certain way. Did you try the experiment that I suggested?
  4. There is a simple experiment you can do. Pick something that you have a belief about, but that is unimportant to your life. Something like "George Washington was the first president of the US" or "There are windmills in the Netherlands" or "My great-grandfather was born in a schoolhouse." Now try to not believe it. Try to believe it isn't true. If belief is a choice, there is no risk, because you can simply wait a week and then choose to believe it again. If belief is not a choice, there is also no risk, because you will fail to change the belief. An underlying truth about assumptions about faith being a choice is that they are the moral justification for punishing and rewarding people based on their faith- they are what make people feel good about engaging in religious discrimination. Which is not to say that everyone who believes faith is a choice will engage in religious discrimination. Necessary but not sufficient, dig?
  5. I didn't call you callous. I was talking about what you said, not who you are. You told us that eternity is a big deal. You told us that the choices we make today effect how we spend eternity. This comminicates the message "I care about what happens to you." You then told us it was "just a message" and that we could take it or leave it. This communicates the message "I don't care about you." It is my belief that you did not intentionally imply that you don't care about us. So I was trying to warn you about how the unintentional message was tainting your intentional message. I did that because I care about you, and I want you to be able to effectively do the things you want to do. Ironically enough, I was clearly not very effective in delivering my intended message. So I'm sorry if I upset you with my clumsy attempt.
  6. I know it probably isnt how you mean it, but that seems kind of callous. I mean, if a message is a warning and/or a promise, and important, doesn't it kind of matter how it is received? For God so loved the world that he didn't really care what happened to anybody?
  7. The problem I run into is that your prescription for a good eternity is not the only one I have been offered. No matter which path I take, there will be people telling me I am headed for Hell. If there are a million ways to be wrong and only one way to be right, how can I ever be totally sure? My impression is that I can't, so I've had to get comfortable with the idea that life is a gamble. Well... mostly comfortable... If I believed in God, I could pray for guidance as you suggested. But I don't believe, so I can't pray. Not really. I could go through the motions, but it would be a lie, you know?
  8. That is one interpretation. It is not the only interpretation. This reminds me of a lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric. I am told by a Muslim-hater that the Qur'an says atheists must be killed. He references many Muslims who agree with him. My Muslim friends tell me that is a misinterpretation- that the truth of the words is more complex than a simple literal reading can produce. One side sees hate in the words and one side sees love in the words. The same words. An outsider hears only one side, and judges the words based on that. When he hears the other side, he dismisses it, not realizing that he is now siding with his enemy against his ally- using the orthodox interpretation of the terrorist Muslim to brand the liberal Muslim a heretic. I get that Hassidic Tradition has its understanding of the words. But traditional understandings are often inaccurate. People grow and their opinions change. Words heard are only half-remembered. Books are burned. The myth of the dead hero is tailored to suit the desires of the living who claim his legacy. The truth becomes lost in interpretation of bullet points.with buried context. It doesnt stop us from being certain in our beliefs about history, though. We are, after all, complicated and weird.
  9. The part that Pastor Dave said. His words actually stand as a direct refutation of the simple, literal interpretation of the Bible verse you quoted. That interpretation says that we do no good, but his words say that we do. If you look at Psalm 53, you get a greater context for 52:1*. In that context, the words seem less like a general statement of fact, and more like a hyperbolic lamentation of a specific situation. No one is good and everyone is vile. If only God would fix it. According to what I've read, Psalm 53 was originally Psalm 52:2+, and still is in the Jewish texts. My conclusion is that the renumbering was done to intentionally change the apparent meaning of 52:1 by pulling it out of its explanatory context. And it didn't work on everyone. The obvious analogy here is that you are looking at debate between an Orthodox Jew and a Reform Jew, and judging the Reform Jew by the words of the Orthodox Jew. *Also, it is a song. Songwrites are known to put emotional impact ahead of accuracy. Its kind of their thing.
  10. I told you they were complicated and weird. For future reference, the correct response in that situation is "Clearly our understanding of the subject differs. Perhaps this is because I am not a teacher and you are not a good teacher. Should I look into that?" You did say you don't need the grade?
  11. Me neither. I just find headlines stupid sometimes.
  12. My wife went to boot camp with a girl who talked in her sleep. Actual words, in full sentences. The only reason I know about this is that the girl was turned down for a job in signals intelligence over it, and my wife likes telling the "What did she expect?" story...
  13. So... I like that. Probably mostly because it is personally flattering. I would caution, however, that lack of belief in God does not prevent people from having purely selfish reasons for helping. Atheists often help out of a belief that by helping you they help themself, by bettering their community and generally making the world a nicer place for them to live in. Atheists also sometimes help you to hurt their enemy, due to a belief you are participating in a zero-sum game. Atheists will also sometimes help you to set you up for a con. I have found that these things also apply to believers, of course. People are complicated and weird.
  14. I like that the headline says the technique was "independantly verified." An alternative headline with an equal amount of veracity would read "Study Shows More Than Half Of Participants Lie About Lucid Dreaming."
  15. I am rarely actively motivated in my dreams. Just reactive. And there is rarely an awareness of anything beyond the immediate. It isn't until I am awake and remembering that I realize the strangeness of the dream. I suspect the difference is more a matter of consciousness than suspiciousness. It sounds like your conscious mind is more active while asleep than mine is. I had lucid dreams on a regular basis when I was younger. I was also an insomniac who would go days without sleep and then sleep a day away. Living the meth addict lifestyle without the meth, you know? I have more regular sleep patterns now, and losing the lucid dreams seems to be a side-effect of that. I am a lot healthier, so I figure its worth it and don't want to rock the boat.
  16. And no one notices the transition when flying to Europe? And wouldn't the geometry you suggest mean the entire US would have to be on the same day/night cycle, as the sun could only be on one side of the plate or the other, with an abrupt transition as it passes beyond the rim?
  17. Yep. When you think the pill gets you out of the matrix, that is just the matrix tricking you.
  18. I used to believe this. I occasionally read in my dreams, though. Never anything as complex as a book. Just signs and labels. And not on a regular basis.
  19. Why'd you have to drag poor Jonathan into it?
  20. Which means that the belief is not justified. Even if the belief is true, it does not meet the definition of knowledge you have been given. So the answer must be "False."
  21. My wife was caught doing 77 in a 55. The judge reduced it to 65 in a 55 to get her to plead guilty. It saved the court the expense of holding a trial to prove the reckless driving charge for going 20 over the limit. My wife was represented by a lawyer. The lawyer was prepared to show that the laser used to clock her speed could not be trusted, because the police were bad about doing required maintenance and keeping required maintenance logs. He was also prepared to show that she had not passed a speed limit sign since entering the highway, and was simply moving with the flow of traffic. He assured her that he would win the case if it went to trial. He also assured her it would cost more than paying the reduced fine, so she accepted the plea deal. Parts of the law are very black and white. Those parts don't exist in a vacuum. They are tempered by other laws and precedents dictating how they can be interpreted and applied. The law gives police, judges, and prosecutors a surprising amount of discretionary power. Evidence is often faulty and witnesses often disagree. Legal systems are often underfunded and under pressure to push cases through quickly. It makes negotiated justice the norm rather than the exception.
  22. You can't live on the matrix. It has no physical structure to support weight, no monetary value to pay your bills with, and no nutritional value to keep you fed with. The concept of the matrix is intentionally designed to preclude knowledge that you are not in it- it is nonfalsifiable by design. It does the job very well, so I say "False." All evidence you are not in the matrix is just the matrix tricking you.
  23. The majority of photos of Earth from the moon aren't disc shaped. They are truncated by shadow. And the curvature of the shadow is exactly what you would expect if you were looking at a ball that was only partially lit. Still, it isn't just about perceived shape. It isn't about one piece of evidence, or one type of evidence. It is when looking at all the evidence as a whole that find the truth. In the picture highlighted in this article, you can clearly make out the northern edge of Africa. If the Earth is flat, where is the US?
  24. I have more to go on than how it looks to me. I have the words of those who have circumnavigated the globe. I have the work of scientists and cartographers who have measured the circumference of the globe. I have photos taken from the moon.