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    • CommentAuthorSteadyUP
    • CommentTimeMay 6th 2010
     (8121.261)
    Look, I'm interested in truth. I don't see how you can have a conversation about truth when you start playing these games with words. "'Truth' can mean anything, man."
    "Truth" has a definition, and is not currently in contention. "Devout" also has a definition, which hinges on the term "devoted", which is a relative concept. One person can be more devoted than another, but one fact cannot be more true than another, and to suggest I don't understand that it as much of an unfair position as the ones you've been accusing others of taking.

    Frankly, your bandying about of the word "truth" is a little worrying, because what I think you're really getting at is "God's truth". There are plenty of verifiably "true" things in this world, but very few of them have to do with God.
  1.  (8121.262)
    I talk to God, but not in a religious way.


    Excuse me? No.
  2.  (8121.263)
    @longtimelurker

    This thread has turned temporarily into a back-and-forth with you and I'm trying to get my head round the basis of the exchange without much luck. It all seemed to spark after your comment:

    Rejecting gospel as fairy tales is ignoring its influential power. There are REASONS this stuff has such sway over people, and it has nothing to do with their gullibility or mental weakness, which is the most common claim of atheists.

    It seems that you're essentially saying:
    1) The most common claim of atheists is that religious people are gullible and mentally weak.
    2) There are other reasons that religious literature has sway over people (i.e. it's not because they're gullible or weak minded).

    (that seems a fair summing up to me, I've just rearranged so your points stand out a little clearer).

    Addressing number one, I'm not so sure that's the case. Lets say for the sake of argument that neither you nor I can prove for sure if it's an accurate generalisation or not (ignoring the fact that an accurate generalisation is an oxymoron). Regardless, it's the context of the statement that matters, and intentionally or not, you're addressing the atheists on this thread here (you're talking about atheists, and you're doing it where there are a number of atheists), so the first thing to do is to consider if it's accurate of the majority of atheists here? I don't personally think it is (although they can confirm that themselves). I'm an agnostic leaning towards atheism, and I don't think that religious people are gullible or mentally weak. So, in conclusion, I'm not really sure who you're addressing with this statement, and if you're not addressing anyone on the thread, what the point of it is.

    In number two, it seems that (since you've made the point at all) you think that atheists (read: people who are atheists on this thread) need it pointed out to them. I've got to be honest, it seems to me a pretty obvious statement, perhaps too obvious to have been extensively talked about. You've already created a "straw man" - the atheist who thinks religious people are stupid - and now it seems to me that you criticise it on the grounds that it sums up all religious literature as the same as any old fantasy. But has anyone actually done that? I've certainly seen people categorise religious texts under fantasy on this thread, but I don't think anyone's claimed that means the Bible might as well be Freakangels: no right minded person would do, since one is a 3 year old webcomic with a modest online community, the other is a ~2000 year old religious text with millions of followers. There are obviously differences, and they obviously run deep. The question is on what categorical level the word "fantasy" (or any other descriptor) unifies fantastical fiction and religious text, and by what common features it does so? Despite vast differences, a shrew and a whale are still both mammals, and there's a logically categorical reason for that, if you see what I mean.

    Given all that, I'm not really sure what you're saying? Atheists can be arrogant? Religion is complex? Morally laden religious texts differ from morally neutral entertainment, even if they're both technically fantastical? All these statements are true, but (forgive me) a little self-evident, and as far as I can tell, pre-assumed by the majority of arguments that populate this thread. The straw atheists who need setting to rights don't seem to be here, if indeed they are anywhere.

    Please let me know if I'm being unfair, or have missed some deeper point that you're trying to make. Ideally I'd like to be able to recreate your point of view in my head as accurately as possible in order to consider it carefully and respond to it, otherwise there's no point in discussion.
    • CommentAuthorJiveKitty
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2010
     (8121.264)
    I talk to God, but not in a religious way.


    A spiritual way? A personal god of your own devising rather than the generic god with standard attributes from the religion of your choice? How do you "talk to God"? What is this "God" you are talking to? Does your "God" reply in a meaningful way? You have piqued my curiosity. I apologise if these questions do not beat around the bush enough.
  3.  (8121.265)
    I don't know how to explain it, and I don't expect anyone to believe me...

    I guess I am devout in my own way, and I thought I was experiencing a bit of intolerance in this thread, and I didn't know if I was the only one who felt that way.

    I guess I was trying to have it both ways... and I can't. I used to be an atheist. Rachael says I can't be. It's her thread and I'm not going to dispute it.

    I can't stay mad at anyone who loves FREAKANGELS, least of all one of the creators...

    I do think it's time for me to go.
    •  
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2010
     (8121.266)
    @ Rachael -
    Excuse me? No


    Beg pardon but why not?

    @Paul-
    The straw atheists who need setting to rights don't seem to be here, if indeed they are anywhere.



    I agree with the first part but the second part sounds incredibly something.
  4.  (8121.267)
    I've certainly seen people categorise religious texts under fantasy on this thread, but I don't think anyone's claimed that means the Bible might as well be Freakangels: no right minded person would do, since one is a 3 year old webcomic with a modest online community, the other is a ~2000 year old religious text with millions of followers.


    I don't think the length of time a fantasy has been a fantasy lessens the fantasy nature of something. Neither does the number of wishful thinkers wanting it to be true.

    The question is on what categorical level the word "fantasy" (or any other descriptor) unifies fantastical fiction and religious text, and by what common features it does so?


    Simple: A work of fiction involving the supernatural.

    And you're right, religious folk are not mentally weak. You need a very solid, focused mind to continue to believe in something being true despite the total lack of evidence for it.
    • CommentAuthorJiveKitty
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2010 edited
     (8121.268)
    I guess I am devout in my own way, and I thought I was experiencing a bit of intolerance in this thread, and I didn't know if I was the only one who felt that way.

    I guess I was trying to have it both ways... and I can't. I used to be an atheist. Rachael says I can't be. It's her thread and I'm not going to dispute it.


    A core component of what an atheist is is a lack of belief in a deity or deities. If you talk to God, you believe in a deity?

    I do think it's time for me to go.


    Meh, don't sweat it. I wasn't trying to get at you. My friends, they get extremely annoyed on occasion because of the questions I ask and the manner in which I do so.

    The difference between religious text and fantastical fiction is perception, I reckon. Hell, L. Ron Hubbard got a religion out of his fantastical fiction. Also, intent of the writer/s probably comes into it.
  5.  (8121.269)
    There are not many who accept that the account of genesis is literally true. Discounting those who do, simply because it is somewhat difficult to reasonably discuss much about religion with such folks, this still leads to a majority of religious folks who accept it as an allegory. It has great value to them even though they accept the account is fictional. So it seems that to disregard fiction in favour of catagorising it as "revealed truth" devalues fiction.

    To me the bible has many great stories which since they are public domain belong to all of us, not just those who claim it for themselves, we are free to interpret these stories in whatever way we wish rather than having them interpreted for us by narrow-minded bibliophiles who use it simply to keep their own bureaucracy alive. However this goes back to what I was saying earlier about the tree. One can read the bible and find profound truths to live by the other can find it a catalogue of genocide rape torture and political upheaval. The problem as I see it is that we have a book that people see as scary or beautiful but for some reason each make the mistake that their judgement upon it is objective due to as I also said earlier an argumentum ad populum. Hell even those who accept it as revealed truth interpret it differing ways causing schism after schism to the extent that it seems reasonable to accept that any truth in there is personal

    I could go on at large about the bible because I am fascinated that a single book that has such incredible historical importance and yet it's fundamental hypothesis is unprovable.

    To me atheism is a non acceptence of the basic hypothesis. Though it seems reasonable to accept that people may find great personal worth in it, I presume what annoys many atheists is that it is not enough that the faithful think this, but that they make claims that their own subjective values are in fact objective and that in doing so they are insulting to those who do not and in some cases restiricting them and even killing them.

    I can see why people would consider that pathological.
  6.  (8121.270)
    @longtimelurker
    I'm not trying to get you to go away or back down, just to expound a little. Your opinions about atheists seem to be a little conflicted and unclear, but I'd like to know if there's more behind what you've written. Your personal relationship with God is your own, I don't think anybody needs to justify personal beliefs (unless of course they force them on others, or try to convert others to the same)

    @Mister Hex
    I'm sure there are some straw atheists out there, but I've not seen any strong examples before. I'm sure we could quibble back and forth about specific people, but it'd probably be a line-in-the-sand style argument. It's enough that in this discussion there are none.

    @William George
    Don't forget that belief in God doesn't preclude belief in evidence, it's just aside and apart from it. I've heard scientists speak eloquently about being religious without internal contradiction. My favourite statement of all is from a religious skeptic who says he knows full-well that his belief is irrational, and won't argue with anyone about it, but it's one he chooses to have for the value of the comfort it brings him, which he recognises as valuable because he's a good skeptic who questions the reasons for things and asks for evidence.
    Believing in a creator isn't the same as believing in the truth of the Bible, or not believing in the efficacy of evidence. Hell, I could declare right now that being part of the universe, and being aware of my own existence, I am the universe personified (literally). I could further argue that being a part of the universe, and conscious, I represent it on some level. I could also argue that although best observational evidence suggests that the universe needed no external actor to be created (for if there was an external actor, it could be included), that doesn't rule out the universe as its own creator (on the level that its mechanics allow its existence). Hence, I talk to the creator all the time in my own head, or whenever I address another living being, or anything in the universe for that matter. I'm not ascribing consciousness or human form to the universe any more than it allowed by containing humans and consciousness. I'm not ascribing unobserved powers, forces, spirits or souls to myself or anybody else. I'm not even suggesting a collective consciousness, I'm just playing with semantics, and not even unreasonably so. I guess I trip up on Russell's set of all sets paradox, but fuck that, it's part of everything too.

    There are many ways to believe in the creator, and being religious (in that you ascribe to a particular religious institution or collective) is just one of them. In that sense, I agree that longtimelurker can talk to God in a non-religious way.
  7.  (8121.271)
    I don't agree that one can talk to god in a non-religious way.

    @ longtimelurker -

    I apologise if my curt manner is making you want to remove yourself. That's not my intention. I certainly don't own this thread.

    It simply seems that by saying "i talk to god, but not in a religious way" you ARE INDEED having it both ways in a manner that makes actual debate relatively impossible. Similar to saying "there is no truth", you bring the conversation to a place where there's nothing to be said.

    Not to mention, by speaking to god, you are implying a belief in personified deity who listens back, which is indeed a religious construct. Saying that you can do so in a non-religious way creates a kind of contradiction that just doesn't work - unless you are talking to god as an exercise in futility, like speaking to the imaginary friend you know does not exist, or talking to a stuffed animal.
    •  
      CommentAuthorstsparky
    • CommentTimeMay 8th 2010
     (8121.272)
    @Rae As I said earlier I believe in God being the entire Multiverse and aware. One everything. I don't pray to or beg favors from God. I'd argue that my desire to be as ethical as possible is cultural and not based on religious fear.
  8.  (8121.273)
    Well, it seems that Rachael just keeps her definition of God strictly contained, which is fair enough since discussing a concept so nebulous that everyone has a different idea about it is pretty damn hard. So I'd also agree that it's impossible to talk to God (as defined by a religion) in a non-religious way... but then, that's just a tautological statement.
    Yeah, this discussion has been totally side-tracked.
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2010
     (8121.274)
    > unless you are talking to god as an exercise in futility, like speaking to the imaginary friend you know does not exist, or talking to a stuffed animal

    A propos of nothing much, legend (hacker lore) has it that way back when, in the computers labs of (?Stanford University?), the teaching assistants kept a stuffed/plush toy/teddy bear outside their office. The rule was that if you had some computer problem and wanted their help, you have to stop and explain your trouble to the plush toy first before, going on and knocking and asking for the TA's help.

    Similarly, my parents used to help me with my maths homework. They'd say, "First you have to explain the problem to me": and apparently, they told me recently, by the time I'd finished doing that I'd see the answer.
  9.  (8121.275)
    Actually, this reminds me of a question I seldom have the opportunity to ask:
    I've heard people say "I talk to God" or "God talks to me", but I've never been able to get a description of what that's actually like. Everyone I've talked to either clams up, or describes something that sounds no different to what I do when I "think out loud" (either in speech, or internal monologue) - the same thing that Fan just illustrated with those anecdotes. Considering that I have never considered any of my experiences in life to be spiritual or supernatural or transcendent, it disturbs me that religiosity may just be a matter of to what you attribute mental processes that aren't directly under your conscious control. So for those who are religious, or at least believe in a God or Creator they can talk to, what exactly IS talking to God?

    Do you get an answer in the form of a linguistic reply, like an autonomous voice inside or outside your head? Is it just a "knowing" that washes over you? Is it an overwhelming emotion that accompanies certain thoughts and indicates truth? Is there no reply at all? How would you start to describe it in terms someone like me could understand? By what do you distinguish an answer from God, and some other external or internal source?

    I'm genuinely curious... it's my biggest fascination with religion and god, the idea that other people may be having a type of experience that I'm just not privy to.
    •  
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2010
     (8121.276)
    the idea that other people may be having a type of experience that I'm just not privy to.

    :)
    this makes me furious too
  10.  (8121.277)
    What's the crucial difference between talking to God and talking to a human being?

    I dislike the idea that there is some unseen being who demands more respect from us than we are due to each other. I care more about my fellow Human Beings than about god.

    If there's any meaning to the gospel, that is it: stop caring about god, start caring about god who walks among us: Humankind.
    •  
      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2010 edited
     (8121.278)
    > What's the crucial difference between talking to God and talking to a human being?

    Exegesis.

    A human talking to God isn't the problematic bit; when God answers back there tends to be issues.

    This was one of Kierkegaard's chief problems in his religious writings. Religious 'knowledge', the Word of God, is a *revealed* truth. And at least in the Christian tradition, it depends very much on the utterly subjective and individualistic nature of that communication. This is the existential 'Fear and Trembling' that he writes of - the notion that the perfect man of faith manages to walk around like any normal human and live his life, all the while knowing that the Finger of God could insert itself into his brain at any moment and go all Old Testament all over his life. It is the terror of Abraham not just to have to sacrifice his son, but to know that by any measure of objective ethics and social norms, he is utterly and justly condemned by society, should he follow what he believes God is telling him to do.

    This is possibly an unfathomable distance away from the notion that God is just this Super Best Friend that you can carry on an internal dialog with, like a regular person.
  11.  (8121.279)
    @Finagle
    I never considered it in that manner. Put like that it sounds almost like hovering on the brink of madness instead of the warm comforting feeling I'm used to hearing about. Thinking about it, religion has exactly the same type fascination to me as psychiatric or neurological disorders: a state of being alien to me, but obviously within the range of human experience.

    (In case anyone reads into my comment, I'm NOT implying that religion is akin to madness or abnormality... just that for me they're both altered states that I have only indirect, non-experiential access to)
  12.  (8121.280)
    I'm sure this question has been dealt with before...

    On exorcism, or the idea of demonic possession mainly being re-classified as mental disorder. So, (and I'm picking on Catholics basically here) you beleive in your God, the Father Almighty, and He can speak to you, but the devil's minions possessing someone, well, that's crazytalk?

    Mostly rhetorical, but I am curious how that line is drawn. I've found a lot of Christians that have an absolute belief in God, but don't really believe in the Devil, or Hell. How does that work?