Lessons In Apologetics, Part 1: Introduction & Agnosticism


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1 hour ago, Key said:

No, I don't find the word, itself, offensive. But the way in which you used it to single out a particular ideology, was.

As for providing examples? They've been given numerous times by various persons throughout this forum. Why should I ride that carousel when I know it won't go anywhere? Even if I manage to clutch the brass ring, you'll deny that I did.

 

If "liberal" is not applicable to you, then don't take it personally because it wasn't meant to characterize any specific person, but just a general observation of how liberals often retort with mindless accusations when they have no valid answers when debating any subject.

 

I believe my postings are pretty much direct and to the point, so your seeing them as nitpicking escapes me? But thanks for being civil about your objections. 

 

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Of course, genocide is bad.  A mind that has been corrupted by Scripture -- and faith --  might try to argue that genocide is permissible.  We know better.  

For anyone pursuing a degree in Apologetics that was given a dollar for every time they were asked "What is that, learning how to say you are sorry" upon answering the question of what it is that they

Still straining at gnats.... "there is no evidence, so we don't believe" verses "the absence of evidence causes them to reject"... No evidence is the same as absence of evidence, and not believing so

23 hours ago, Dan56 said:

 

If "liberal" is not applicable to you, then don't take it personally because it wasn't meant to characterize any specific person, but just a general observation of how liberals often retort with mindless accusations when they have no valid answers when debating any subject.

 

I believe my postings are pretty much direct and to the point, so your seeing them as nitpicking escapes me? But thanks for being civil about your objections. 

 

Dan, whether it is applicable or not, it is still a generalization that is both offensive and often untrue. Maybe that is your experience, and so becomes your opinion. I'm sure "liberals" deal with the same observation of conservatives.

 

Your observations often overlook any nitpicking, unless you feel it is done to you. (My observation here. Others may agree.) 

Others may also be direct and to the point, but your opinion may not allow you to see it that way, either.

 

I always try to remain civil, as it is pointless to fly off the handle with total strangers with every little misinterpretation that scrawls across the screen.

 

I don't fault you in your beliefs, for they are yours. Equally, I do not fault anyone else for theirs, or lack thereof, for they have their reasons, as well.

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1 hour ago, Key said:

I'm sure "liberals" deal with the same observation of conservatives.

 

I'm sure that's true.

 

1 hour ago, Key said:

Your observations often overlook any nitpicking, unless you feel it is done to you.

 

True, but I still don't know what I was nitpicking about?

 

1 hour ago, Key said:

I don't fault you in your beliefs

 

That's a quality that sets you apart from some others... Thanx

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On 2/4/2019 at 12:21 AM, Dan56 said:

 

Thanks for attempting to reason, but some folks just aren't open or receptive to ideologies besides their own, and that includes myself. But it stands to reason that since I believe in one God and one truth, I can't agree or compromise with those who believe in nothing spiritual. That fact seems to irritate them, they are easily insulted and get extremely defensive. Its almost a paranoia that puts them into immediate attack mode, as you have discovered. 

 

I do agree with your terminology and analysis comparing theistic realism and dialectical materialism. I'm obviously in the theistic realism camp and think dialectical materialism adequately defines the Atheistic/Agnostic group, not so much in the godless communistic sense as they've implied, but more from a humanism perspective.

 

The bottom line is that Atheist discard spirituality, their reality is limited to the natural world, so they only diagnose things from a physical existence, which is limited to what you can see, touch, hear, smell, and feel. Thus the consistent demand from cuchulain who's only acceptable evidentiary procedure is limited to his materialistic realm of existence.

 

That's essentially the non-negotiable duality, God is spirit and is experience spiritually, God is not revealed or perceived naturally, the spiritual and the physical are entirely separate. Anyway, thanks for trying to bring some clarity to what differentiates the 2 ideologies, which in my opinion boils down to those with spiritual faith and those who don't know or just can't conceive of anything beyond the here & now.   

 

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.

:hi:

"Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it's been." - Grateful Dead

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15 hours ago, Kingfisher said:

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,

 

Its hopeful thinking, but I don't think there will ever be any reconciling between the faithful and faithless. Its not an area where perspectives aren't altered, but as you say,  belief and non-belief is what we're left with. The only compromise would require a change of heart and mind from one of the 2 conflicting views, but we certainly can't be expected to abandon our faith or expect opposing views to accept what they don't believe.

 

15 hours ago, Kingfisher said:

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?

 

There's no resolution because its not so much a dispute as it is conflicting ideologies. Tolerating what we don't believe is the best that can be hoped for, but I've never seen that among all the people of the world.

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11 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

National Socialism is Nazi-ism.  Is that where you're going?

 

Well, didn't want to throw in the Godwin like that... but, basically: yes. Both from my personal experience in Yugoslavia as well as my research into a couple of job offers I had in the middle east. It looks social and all from the first (superficial) view. But if you "zoom in" a bit: local residents in the emirates don't have anything materialistic to complain about, but god forbid (again: pun intended) if they "think" a bit differently (Khashoggi! Not coughing, but recent example) and if you look how they treat expats (not even talking about women)... 

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3 hours ago, RevBogovac said:

 

Well, didn't want to throw in the Godwin like that... but, basically: yes. Both from my personal experience in Yugoslavia as well as my research into a couple of job offers I had in the middle east. It looks social and all from the first (superficial) view. But if you "zoom in" a bit: local residents in the emirates don't have anything materialistic to complain about, but god forbid (again: pun intended) if they "think" a bit differently (Khashoggi! Not coughing, but recent example) and if you look how they treat expats (not even talking about women)... 

 

 

Death for leaving the faith is extreme.  If being Muslim were that great, it would be hard to enter and easy to leave.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Seeker said:

All the reporting I saw gave the impression that he was killed for criticizing the Saudi government. Where is this "leaving the faith" motive coming from?

 

 

 

A few inches up on this thread --  " and if you look how they treat expats (not even talking about women)... "

 

The Saudi government kills apostates.  It is a strong motivator for apostates to become "expats".  When a Saudi Muslim becomes an Atheist, that is a double death penalty.  It's time to leave.  

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Seeker said:

All the reporting I saw gave the impression that he was killed for criticizing the Saudi government. Where is this "leaving the faith" motive coming from?

 

 

That example was referring more to the “social” part of Kingfisher’s remark...

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4 hours ago, RevBogovac said:

 

That example was referring more to the “social” part of Kingfisher’s remark...

 

 

Yes.  That is part of it.  Under Saudi Law, Atheism is regarded as a form of terrorism.  The issues have a way of merging.  Atheism, terrorism, social policy, issues with "ex pats" -- it all merges.  

 

Saudi Arabia blends Monarchy with Islamic (Sunni) Theocracy.  The various powers have a seamless world view and they do what they want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 2/7/2019 at 5:18 PM, RevBogovac said:

Isn't that more of an Islamic national-socialism in practice...? 

 

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.

 

On 2/3/2019 at 10:10 PM, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

Balance and unity?  Then stop trying to force everybody into one of two boxes.

 

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

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11 hours ago, Kingfisher said:

 

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

nationalistic:  having or expressing strong identification with ones own nation and vigorous support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.

Nation:  a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or region.

In answer to "aren't all theistic religions nationalistic?" I would say the term may be misused here, or perhaps you have broadened the scope of what is meant typically by nationalistic, or nation?  Some countries identify a religion as the national religion, but I don't believe there are religions that identify specific nations as theirs alone through doctrine, although I could be mistaken of course.  Perhaps Israel?  Not sure.  

I don't believe atheism promotes nationalism, even in the way you appear to mean it.  The single ideology shared by all atheists is that we don't believe in god.  That's the only single idea we share.  Atheist:  a person who does not believe in the existence of god(s).  It appears to me that you have erred in lumping all atheists under one category, and broadened that category beyond what defines an actual atheist.  It's a fairly common mistake.  

Concepts that don't exist independent of human thought...still exist.  That's because we are people, we exist, and we have ideas that exist.  I get that concept, and agree.  But I don't agree that they are ghosts.  Ghost:  an apparition of a dead person.  Spirit:  those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period.  I don't know if ideas qualify as spirits.  Maybe the spirit behind an idea, such as the spirit of the law?  The entire statement, "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."  I don't buy this.  If the idea of Buddha were independent of the world, then if there were no world the idea would remain.  But the idea is dependent upon people.  So take the people away, and the idea is gone as well.  I think what you are engaging in is something I speculated with Druidry, that is, when others insisted that I couldn't be a real druid, because they all died off.  The core principle of Druidry was still determinable, and so rebuildable, although in a unique form of it's own.  But basically based on the same premises.  So the idea isn't exactly the same, but can still be called Druidry because it filled the same essential void and had the same building blocks.  This in no way imparts any sort of sentience, which is kind of what I gather from your statement.  Perhaps I am misreading?  I certainly don't see the idea of the Christian god being real as having its own power.  It comes entirely from its followers, and if they did not exist the power inherent in the idea would not exist either.  Prime example?  Celtic mythology was once believed by myriad people in a particular region, and had influence as such.  People behaved in certain manners as a result of their beliefs, those beliefs held a certain amount of power over them.  NOW, a very miniscule portion of the population believes in such things and the power of those beliefs has diminished accordingly, it does NOT still remain despite the lack of adherents.  

These are, of course, my own thoughts on your statements.  I may be misinterpreting wildly but I certainly don't see any inherent power behind ideas, or any "spirit" in terms of "ghost".  No mind so to speak, no sentience.  It isn't the idea itself, but the people behind the idea.  

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13 hours ago, Kingfisher said:

 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

 

 

There is a deep tangle of thoughts here.  All non-linear.  I'm not sure I know what you're asking or asserting.  Still, I think you are being sincere.  I will nibble about the edges.  Maybe, I can work my way in.

 

First, I am not a materialist.  My background includes various types of meditation; qi gong; tai chi; reiki; therapeutic touch; etc.  In pursuit of my studies, I have taken initiations to Quan Yin, Medicine Buddha and Sekhmet.  I am persuaded that while there is only one reality, it gets thin about the edges.

 

It irritates me when Dan and other Fundamentalists, try to define everything, for everyone.  So, I resist.  It is amusing to be lectured to, about how non-spiritual I am.

 

It irritates me, when a Catholic mystic (name with held) on this board, prattles on about "orbs" being proof of Catholic doctrine.  I have forgotten more about the aura and chakra system than he ever knew.

 

Down to vocabulary.  I have tried various labels.  Each label gets different, standard responses.

 

Agnostic.  When I say Agnostic, I get two basic responses.

1.  What would it take for you to make up your mind?

2.  Various challenges about the nature and limits of knowledge.

 

Yes.  I am Agnostic.  There is no objective, verifiable information about God.  This does not mean giving equal weight to God's existence or non-existence.  In the absence of anything to go on -- faith is nothing but a strong opinion, held and maintained without facts -- I find God's existence to be unlikely.

 

Atheist.  I am an Atheist.  In the absence of objective, verifiable facts about God, I don't believe.  If others wish to believe without evidence, this is not my issue.  I need a reason to believe.  Something more than a popularity contest.  If I'm ready to believe without evidence; I will fall for any con.

 

Standard responses include the First Cause; God as watchmaker; various knocks against evolution and Cosmology, objective morality, etc.  All utterly irrelevant and meaningless.  Seriously.  It's always the SAME stupid arguments.  Again.  For the first time.  Oh!  Look!  Trees!  God did it!  -- Pascal's Wager.  "Suppose you're wrong."

 

Apatheism.  Not giving a crap whether or not God exists.  Because I'm so sick of the same stupid arguments, over and over again.  When I find a reason to believe; maybe I will find a reason to care.  Again -- no facts.  People can't even agree on a working definition of God.  "Spirit" is no help at all.   Getting all bent out of shape -- arguing about God?  Life is too short.

 

In any event, there is a historic process.  Religion becomes mythology.  The gods lose their majesty and their living reality -- and become quaint.  Even now, what do we call Bible stories for children?  Bible stories.

 

:mellow:

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jonathan H. B. Lobl
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