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Old 10th December 2018, 05:00 AM   #201
GDon
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
If you want you can call him a "historian". He defines himself as an amateur historian.
You are correct; my mistake.
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Old 10th December 2018, 05:18 AM   #202
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
And 77% of Americans believe that Jesus rose from the dead: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/publ..._from_the_dead
I wonder what caused the discrepancy between the two numbers. Did the respondents think of the question as Biblical in one case? 'According to the Bible, did Jesus Christ rise from the dead?' but more 'real-world-like' in the other? 'Considering what I know about what happens when people die, is it very likely that there is life after death?'

Americans appear to be as divided about the question of religion as they are about Trump's presidency. Still, there must be whole communities where almost 100% are believers, and (a few) others where a majority aren't.
Since I'm aware that a large majority of Americans are religious, I'm sometimes surprised by the response of audiences to stand-up comedians' jokes about religion, but I guess that these comedians may cater to the 23% minority.
It is amazing what people will believe. Part of it is familiarity I think. If you are told your whole life that some guy rose from the dead (and not in a zombie movie) you're just so used to it that your sense of incredulity has been drained.


On the question of life after death, there is some crossover. There are religious people who don't believe all the dogma, and people who describe themselves as spiritual but not religious who, for example, don't believe in Jesus's superpowers but do believe in life after death.
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Old 10th December 2018, 05:46 AM   #203
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
A lot of Christians can laugh at the absurdity of their belief, and many feel very negatively towards "organized" religion.

Carlin's "religion is BS" skit was kind of instrumental in my own leaving Christianity, tho. I remember thinking after watching it, that it was only the tip of the iceburg he touched upon, because I actually believed there's was an invisible man who lived in the sky who had to become his own child, and killed himself as a sacrifice to himself to appease his own bloodlust, AND after death he came back as a sort of functional zombie before floating away into the sky, AND now all of us followers regularly ate his symbolic flesh and drank his symbolic blood as part of a weird "symbolic cannibalism" ritual.
Sometimes comedy is the best way to point out absurdity, to snap people out of their unthinking acceptance. I'm sure TBD sees Carlin as a "sneering bigot" but I think that as well as entertaining us he is doing a service to humanity.
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Old 10th December 2018, 09:00 AM   #204
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Originally Posted by GDon View Post
It's not a question of what I believe, but of what some claim: that increasing science conflicts increasingly with belief, therefore people stop believing. But there is simply no evidence for that particular claim. Religious dogma says nothing about cloning, nuclear physics, etc, so scientific discoveries in the last 100 years have no direct impact on religion.

Instead, I think it is along the lines you propose: there is no need to attend church and no need to adopt religious dogma, so people drift away; but I'd put that down to social conventions -- e.g. less pressure to be seen as religious due to declining social power by religions. Part of that may indeed be the idea that we have science, so we don't need religion. But that is due more to fashion rather than any particular scientific discovery.

Improved living conditions are very different from "fashion". And increasing science does conflict with religion. There is evidence that people who learn science, the sciences of nature in particular, tend to become irreligious, first and foremost the biologists. People who don't benefit from science at all are more likely to remain religious. The science that you don't know doesn't conflict with your religion ... much ... However, the generations that witnessed the difference that vaccines made didn't need any scientific insight to find out that modern medicine actually delivers when prayers don't. Things like that change the world view even of people who are more or less excluded from real learning by a stupid educational system based on competition rather than on the intention to educate everybody properly.
So the trend is that poor people remain uneducated and religious, and the well-to-do lose the need for the opium of the people as well as the ignorance that also helped make people religious in the past.
It's no wonder that the Jehovah's Witnesses are suspicious of education beyond high school ...
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Old 10th December 2018, 09:18 AM   #205
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Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
It is amazing what people will believe. Part of it is familiarity I think. If you are told your whole life that some guy rose from the dead (and not in a zombie movie) you're just so used to it that your sense of incredulity has been drained.

People discard old exploded knowledge and beliefs all the time. It doesn't have much to do with familiarity if it doesn't serve any purpose. In church people seem to fulfill a need to belong - in particular in a competitive society like the USA. In Denmark, people tend to join secularized voluntary associations instead.
(Danish atheists have come up with "godless Thursdays," but I don't really see the point: I'm godless all week and don't feel the need to confirm it.)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

Last edited by dann; 10th December 2018 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 10th December 2018, 09:46 AM   #206
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
It's over half of Americans.

Weird stuff. LOL

I may have told this anecdote before, but in case I haven't:
In the mid-1990s I was in Louisiana with a group English teachers from Denmark. We spent the first week in Shreveport at the Centenary College, which was associated with Aarhus Universitet, and for this reason, some of their teachers had spent several months in Aarhus, so they knew all about the relaxed Danish attitude to religion. One of them, a Southern Baptist, told us that we might think that we understood the U.S. American attitude to religion, but warned us that we probably didn't. She was in the process of selling her house and told us that one prospective buyer, an elderly man, had said that he was interested in buying it, but he would go home and discuss it with God. Then she said, "You think that it's just a saying. What you don't understand is that this is actually what he does."
And she was right, of course: The idea was totally alien to us!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 10th December 2018, 10:46 AM   #207
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Never got the virgin thing. For a heavenly experience, wouldn't one want someone who knew what they were doing?
I don't think you are supposed to be promoting your business on the forum.
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Old 10th December 2018, 10:47 AM   #208
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Improved living conditions are very different from "fashion". And increasing science does conflict with religion. There is evidence that people who learn science, the sciences of nature in particular, tend to become irreligious, first and foremost the biologists.
I don't necessarily disagree, but let me note that what you are describing is not what I meant by "increasing science leads to increasing conflict with religion", the meaning of which I described elsewhere: specific scientific advancements resulting in disproving specific dogma. That a secular education and a general mood that science advances generally 'disprove' religion generally is a separate and worthy question. Anyway, good discussion!

Last edited by GDon; 10th December 2018 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 10th December 2018, 10:56 AM   #209
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
A lot of Christians can laugh at the absurdity of their belief, and many feel very negatively towards "organized" religion.

Carlin's "religion is BS" skit was kind of instrumental in my own leaving Christianity, tho. I remember thinking after watching it, that it was only the tip of the iceburg he touched upon, because I actually believed there's was an invisible man who lived in the sky who had to become his own child, and killed himself as a sacrifice to himself to appease his own bloodlust, AND after death he came back as a sort of functional zombie before floating away into the sky, AND now all of us followers regularly ate his symbolic flesh and drank his symbolic blood as part of a weird "symbolic cannibalism" ritual.
You can't paint all Christians with such a broad brush. For the Catholics it is not symbolic, but actual body and blood. Transubstantiation has got to be one of the weirdest concepts in religion and I find that most Catholics have very little grasp on it.
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Old 10th December 2018, 11:09 AM   #210
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
You can't paint all Christians with such a broad brush. For the Catholics it is not symbolic, but actual body and blood. Transubstantiation has got to be one of the weirdest concepts in religion and I find that most Catholics have very little grasp on it.
And baby, don't ever call the Host 'that box of crackers'. Brothers get all Inquisition on your ass
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Old 10th December 2018, 11:15 AM   #211
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
And baby, don't ever call the Host 'that box of crackers'.
"Okay so I did the math. A communion wafer is about 10 grams. An average adult is about 150 lbs. So that's about 6,800 wafers to make up one Jesus. You get one wafer every Sunday so it would take you 6,800 weeks, so playing by the rules it would take about 520 years of Communion to get one full Jesus..."

*Priest from behind the curtain interrupts me* "Like I told you last week... kinda weird, not really a sin."
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Old 10th December 2018, 11:23 AM   #212
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I was goping to watch this thread from the sidelines, but then we got this:

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
I don't think Tim O'Neill's blog is excellent.

I see.

Quote:
He says he's an atheist, although I don't think so.
I am an atheist. I have no belief in any God or gods. I'm a paid up member of the Atheist Foundation of Australia and have been for many years. And I have a posting history online as an atheist that goes back to 1992. So, if you don't "think" I'm an atheist, we will need to examine the false basis for that irrational belief.

Quote:
What he's trying to do is a work of historical revisionism denying what he calls "myths" of atheism.
I'm afraid that when I have the overwhelming mainstream consensus of historians on my side, what I am presenting is not "revisionism". If you hold to some of the pseudo historical myths I tackle then it's you who is out of step with historical consensus.

Quote:
The ones I've read are a ceremony of confusion.
Gosh.

Quote:
To demystify the persecutions against Copernicus is fine, but it cannot be ignored that Copernicus was not persecuted because he published his masterpiece in the same year of his death ....
This can be ignored, because it is demonstrable garbage. You clearly have no idea what you're talking about and you definitely didn't even read my article on the subject or you wouldn't have said something I show to be patently wrong.

Quote:
... and because he did everything possible to link it to the Scholastic Authority.
Also wrong. He was firmly in the Humanist, anti-Scholastic tradition. Again, you need to educate yourself. And these two errors of fact are from the guy who thinks he can dismiss my stuff as "a ceremony of confusion". Hilarious.

Quote:
And whatever happened to Copernicus, it would be foolish to deny the fierce persecution of heliocentrism by the church.
Luckily for me, I don't. I just put it in its proper context and show how many of the things said about it are wrong.

Quote:
Without these important facts, O'Neill's demystification is the creation of a new myth.
Both your supposed "important facts" are dead wrong. But thanks for demonstrating why my site is necessary - you are a picture perfect case of the kind of blundering ignorance dressed as competence it is there to address.

Quote:
Something similar happens with his "demystification" of Hypatia.
Yawn. Oh, please tell me how I and the leading historians on the subject have got that wrong as well and how old Gibbon, Carl Sagan and that silly movie with Rachel Weisz are actually the go-to sources on the subject. This should be fun ...

Quote:
If you want you can call him a "historian". He defines himself as an amateur historian.
At least you finally managed to get something right. But the fact remains that I always ensure I am presenting mainstream historical consensus views. So my status is actually irrelevant here. Keep playing and we'll soon see who knows what they are talking about and who ... doesn't.
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Old 10th December 2018, 11:36 AM   #213
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
You can't paint all Christians with such a broad brush. For the Catholics it is not symbolic, but actual body and blood. Transubstantiation has got to be one of the weirdest concepts in religion and I find that most Catholics have very little grasp on it.
Transubstantiation sounds so much nicer than cannibalism but if it walks like a duck...
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Old 10th December 2018, 11:38 AM   #214
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No it's magic cannibalism which is totally different.
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Old 10th December 2018, 12:47 PM   #215
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Perhaps you don't know what finite means or is it you have not been following the conversation?

I was replying to a post by GDon where he was suggesting that scientific refutations of things religious was pretty much confined to the evolution and heliocentric topics. My post was suggesting the number of religious utterances were finite, (talking about the past here ...... get it?), and many so ridiculous nobody would feel compelled to refute them.
Originally Posted by dann View Post
Yes, I get it, but you don't, apparently. You are talking about religion as if it was all over! It isn't. New religious utterances are added every day, and so are new interpretations of the old ones, get it?

This is probably the most pathetic responding post you have made thus far, and the bar has been set very low. You will gain more respect if you just admit your mistake and move on, rather than go on in this manner. Making up stuff about what I am implying, without anything to back it up, just to round the post off. Yes good one.
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Old 10th December 2018, 12:48 PM   #216
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
You can't paint all Christians with such a broad brush. For the Catholics it is not symbolic, but actual body and blood. Transubstantiation has got to be one of the weirdest concepts in religion and I find that most Catholics have very little grasp on it.
I was just talking about transubstantiation in another thread a few days ago. I was just relaying my own memory of watching Carlin over 15 years ago, back when I was very much a Christian, bordering on a "fanatical" one. (I was a protestant.)
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Old 10th December 2018, 01:01 PM   #217
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
I was just talking about transubstantiation in another thread a few days ago. I was just relaying my own memory of watching Carlin over 15 years ago, back when I was very much a Christian, bordering on a "fanatical" one. (I was a protestant.)

So as a "fanatical" Christian you went to see Carlin?

Did you go to scoff and stay to pr..... No hang on, that doesn't work does it?
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Old 10th December 2018, 01:02 PM   #218
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
There are certain...neural networks leftover from my former Christian mind which are permanent fixtures in my psychology, though, and I'm ok with that. When I look at someone needing my help, my mind goes right to seeing them as "sacred", a la "I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me...".
I don't think I ever really believed Christianity, but I never completely lost the concept of God, either. The above statement can still give me goosebumps, and I don't try to reason my way out of that reaction. Sure, it's probably readily explained by human beings developing some kind of adaptive sense of reciprocity. There's still something "sacred" about it. But then some guys think they're doing sacred acts when they live-stream snuff films of someone's head being chopped off. It's so subjective. I think, surely these people aren't getting it right?

Skepticism seemed like my default, but it didn't leads me to atheism. It led to being irreligious, because all these god beliefs could not possibly be true. The above example is extreme, but even just different strains of Christianity had such divergent claims. I couldn't envision how resurrection, for example, was supposed to work.

I dated a guy on match.com who said he knew he'd see his late wife in heaven, which I felt was going to be pretty awkward for him if he'd hooked up with someone else on the Internet. He seemed like a normal guy, nice guy, rational etc. and it took me aback to realize he literally believed it. My own nebulous beliefs probably require their own cognitive dissonance, but not as much as an actual religion would.
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Old 10th December 2018, 01:08 PM   #219
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Science is only a method. It's the method of science and the method of religion that are in conflict and are mutually exclusive.

To use your own words . . .

Science method - "Science is not a religion, or even an opinion. Science is a method for discovering facts."

Religion method - "Religion is faith. It can make any claim, and it does not need evidence, only faith."

Diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive methods.

Applying the scientific method and the religious method to the same thing at the same time results in cognitive dissonance.
For specific items, yes, of course. You can't both think thunder is Thor's chariot AND that it is a meteorological phenomenon. But that is not the point. The point in the OP, which was what I responded to, was whether you can both maintain a religious stance and work with science. And of course you can. Just don't apply religion to falsifiable phenomenon, and vice versa.

So, the two may be counterpoints, but they are not mutually exclusive. Most human's lives are full of counterpoints.

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Old 10th December 2018, 01:09 PM   #220
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
I was just talking about transubstantiation in another thread a few days ago. I was just relaying my own memory of watching Carlin over 15 years ago, back when I was very much a Christian, bordering on a "fanatical" one. (I was a protestant.)
Sorry, tongue in cheek emoji was not easily accessible.
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Old 10th December 2018, 01:09 PM   #221
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Originally Posted by GDon View Post
Attempt5001, if you have time, I'd love to understand what are the more major tensions/conflicts between your faith and skepticism. Also, is there anything in particular that you have learned recently that is contributing to that conflict?
Hi GDon. Thanks for the kind reply and question. (Hard to keep up with the thread here). Some of the major tension has arisen from recognizing how skeptical I am of other religions (or even other Christian groups who profess and express their faith very differently than I do). I've realized that I was not applying similar critical thinking about my own faith and community. For example I've long been skeptical of TV faith healers, but enthusiastically and expectantly prayed for members of my own community. For me, those are still different on many levels, but when someone from my community started acting a speaking a lot like someone on TV, it triggered some tension. Similarly, I've appreciated hearing leaders speak/preach about passages from the bible they find particularly uplifting or challenging in a positive way, but when a recent young leader got up to preach and mimicked the tone, intonation, and content of the more experienced leaders, it struck me as very ingenuous. But it also made me aware of times I had done the same sort of thing, parroting someone else's "lessons" or "insights" without much critical thought, and that created some tension for me as well. I feel tension now when people start sentences with "God says ..." or "I believe the word of God for you is ...", whereas I welcomed that sort of talk (from certain people) in the past. I feel tension regarding the exclusivity of certain claims and language too. For example, "salvation is through Christ". If by that someone means "if you repeat this prayer after me you will go to heaven when you die" (as per my upbringing), I can't accept that. However, if someone means, "Jesus' example was one of compassion and selflessness that was ahead of its time, and through which we have a chance to perceive and pursue something divine", I still have faith for that.
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Old 10th December 2018, 01:28 PM   #222
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@ attempt5001 - Would you still believe in your particular god if there was no New Testament with it’s stories of Jesus? In other words, is your Jesus belief necessary for your God belief?

ETA - If you believe Jesus is God materially revealed, would you still believe in your God if you didn't believe it had revealed itself materially as Jesus? (hope that's not too convoluted to follow )
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Old 10th December 2018, 01:29 PM   #223
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Originally Posted by Egg View Post
Hi attempt5001, welcome to the forum.

On the issue of miracles, I don't share the position that they are incompatible with scientific understanding (although perhaps incompatible with the assumptions required for science). I have more of a problem with their compatibility with a just and loving god.

I'd be interested in what denomination and beliefs you have been associated with. Christianity is pretty broad and there are definitely some approaches that conflict with sceptical thinking more than others.

Are you familiar with some of the progressive Christian writers and their approach to faith?
hi Egg (fun name). Thanks for the welcome. Thinking more about miracles is definitely on my "to do" list. Even a lot of the things we can now explore scientifically seem pretty miraculous to me to be honest, though ynot will correctly point out that this is a conflict of terms, and others will likely contend that depends on one's perspective (much to the former's frustration). When you mention the incompatibility of miracles and justice, do you mean "how could a just God perform a miracle to, for example, save one person's life, while remaining inactive while another dies"? If I understand you well, I can relate to that challenge. I think faith necessitates letting go of the demand to understand everything, but that's still a hard one.

As for my background, I grew up in a tired, but pleasant old Anglican church in a small town, but changed over to a more lively group in my late teens. Sort of a non-denominational group, quite adherent to the bible, but if you surveyed the members you'd get a broad spectrum of literal/methaphorical interpretations of scripture. Even the leadership was fairly adaptive (by religious standards), although they maintain a literal interpretation of things like miracles and Christian religion being the "one true faith". Speaking in tongues and prophecy are common occurrences in the Sunday meetings and the music is loud and upbeat if that's helpful for context.
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Old 10th December 2018, 01:40 PM   #224
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
What I kind of "came to" with that was beginning to see faith (in the strictly religious sense) as a vice and skepticism as a virtue. It was incredible painful and darkly surreal, but I'd been suffering from significant cognitive dissonance trying to hold the "truths" of Christianity in my head and chase objective reality at the same time.

I realized that I'd been indoctrinated into Christianity (to the point of brainwashing,) and I felt that if god was real, I'd need to figure that out on different terms other than the "faith" method of getting in touch with the truth. I knew from watching others that people can fully believe anything if they're determined to believe it. I couldn't shake the suspicion that I was doing that same thing myself with Christianity.

I still kind of hope to one day discover something like god. It seems less and less likely as the years pass, though. When I first said a sort of "goodbye prayer" to god and took the cognitive dive into agnostic-atheism, I really expected to be Christian again within a year. Or a deist, at least. Heh. But nope! While I have days where I feel like a deist, I'm always aware that it's likely just a strange mood, and it passes quickly. I am somewhat intrigued by some of the arguments about cosmological fine-tuning, though. That's as close as I get to theism.

There are certain...neural networks leftover from my former Christian mind which are permanent fixtures in my psychology, though, and I'm ok with that. When I look at someone needing my help, my mind goes right to seeing them as "sacred", a la "I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me...". And when I think about stuff like the altruistic instincts the various social species have, it strikes me as a sort of "divinity" (just sans any connection to deities or anything supernatural. )
Hi kellyb. Really appreciate your honest and open post and I can definitely identify with pretty much all of what you have experienced (and are still experiencing), right down to the quote from Matthew 25. It's helpful and encouraging to hear it. I feel like I've swung the faith pendulum pretty far away from faith over the last few years and I do find it settling somewhere more in-between for me than what you describe, but I am still evaluating "neural networks" (very apt) and the resulting psychology as I work things through.

If you don't mind me asking, did you have friends/family you could talk about this with? Was it difficult? Thanks again for your post.
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Old 10th December 2018, 02:05 PM   #225
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
It led to being irreligious, because all these god beliefs could not possibly be true.
Is "irreligious" different from "non-religious to you? Regardless, do you believe in a god or gods, yes or no? ("I'm not sure" = "no")
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Old 10th December 2018, 02:14 PM   #226
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
Thank you for taking the time to respond, you've had a lot of responses so it is appreciated. If you can settle on an example that you think has sufficient 'legs' to discuss specifically I for one would definitely be interested, although you might like to start a fresh thread for it, I think it could be a productive discussion. Either way, I look forward to hearing your perspective on some of our on going religious discussions.
Hi P.J.,

Okay, I'll give it a shot and will try to keep up with the discussion, though I'm struggling a bit already.

I believe that the biblical accounts of Jesus life are more than works of fiction (or deliberate attempts to deceive) and that they chronicled teachings and examples that the world would do well to emulate. I think they highlight a universal human tension between a desire to be selfless, and an inclination to be selfish. I also think the people who saw and lived with Jesus tried to chronicle those events and could honestly not explain how he did what he did, and so attributed miracles to him as a result. As such, I believe that Jesus was an indicator that humans are more than the sum of their biological parts, and that he allowed us to see our potential to realize that more.

Not sure if that's quite what you were looking for (fairly nebulous I know), but a starting point for more discussion maybe. Cheers!
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Old 10th December 2018, 02:25 PM   #227
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
@ attempt5001 - Would you still believe in your particular god if there was no New Testament with it’s stories of Jesus? In other words, is your Jesus belief necessary for your God belief?

ETA - If you believe Jesus is God materially revealed, would you still believe in your God if you didn't believe it had revealed itself materially as Jesus? (hope that's not too convoluted to follow )
Hi ynot. I definitely follow (and appreciate) the question. Am considering it as I type here. ... It's hard for me to "picture" God outside of the context of Jesus, so the thought exercise is a little disorienting. I'm trying to consider whether just seeing people being loving, compassionate, kind ... to each other would be enough to lead me to believe in God. I'll think about it further, but I think those things, coupled with the accounts of Jesus lead me to believe in God, whereas either one without the other might be insufficient.
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Old 10th December 2018, 03:24 PM   #228
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Hi ynot. I definitely follow (and appreciate) the question. Am considering it as I type here. ... It's hard for me to "picture" God outside of the context of Jesus, so the thought exercise is a little disorienting. I'm trying to consider whether just seeing people being loving, compassionate, kind ... to each other would be enough to lead me to believe in God. I'll think about it further, but I think those things, coupled with the accounts of Jesus lead me to believe in God, whereas either one without the other might be insufficient.
Thanks. I guess if you believe your Jesus is a material version of your immaterial God then I can see it kinda making some sense (at a very loooong stretch ). Not sure if it’s correct, but I’ve assumed you were born and indoctrinated into your religious beliefs, so I guess we’re talking about you being in a position of questioning and retaining those beliefs rather than how they were first formed. In the process I trust (have faith ) that you have the intellectual honesty do so without wearing rose-tinted glasses.

I realise that your purpose is to evaluate and not necessarily to abandon, but I’ve been amazed how long it takes some to abandon their god belief (10 years plus in some cases). Another thing that has amazed me is that even when some stop believing in their god they’re still frighten as hell by the prospect of going to a hell. A form of reverse cognitive dissonance, the residual power of strong belief, or an irrational phobia?

ETA – I guess another question that follows from my previous is – If there was no bible at all, would you still believe? I guess this question is purely rhetorical as it’s impossible to say what might have happened in different circumstances. These are the types of questions I would ask myself if I was in your position however.
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Old 10th December 2018, 03:40 PM   #229
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post

If you don't mind me asking, did you have friends/family you could talk about this with?
No, I just posted a lot here. https://www.ex-christian.net/
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Old 10th December 2018, 04:27 PM   #230
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Is "irreligious" different from "non-religious to you?
It's a little broader than that. Not religious, but also, alienated from belief systems in general.

Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Regardless, do you believe in a god or gods, yes or no? ("I'm not sure" = "no")
I'm not sure. You've already decided that means "no," so whatever.
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Old 10th December 2018, 05:42 PM   #231
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Hi GDon. Thanks for the kind reply and question. (Hard to keep up with the thread here). Some of the major tension has arisen from recognizing how skeptical I am of other religions (or even other Christian groups who profess and express their faith very differently than I do). I've realized that I was not applying similar critical thinking about my own faith and community. For example I've long been skeptical of TV faith healers, but enthusiastically and expectantly prayed for members of my own community. For me, those are still different on many levels, but when someone from my community started acting a speaking a lot like someone on TV, it triggered some tension. Similarly, I've appreciated hearing leaders speak/preach about passages from the bible they find particularly uplifting or challenging in a positive way, but when a recent young leader got up to preach and mimicked the tone, intonation, and content of the more experienced leaders, it struck me as very ingenuous. But it also made me aware of times I had done the same sort of thing, parroting someone else's "lessons" or "insights" without much critical thought, and that created some tension for me as well. I feel tension now when people start sentences with "God says ..." or "I believe the word of God for you is ...", whereas I welcomed that sort of talk (from certain people) in the past. I feel tension regarding the exclusivity of certain claims and language too. For example, "salvation is through Christ". If by that someone means "if you repeat this prayer after me you will go to heaven when you die" (as per my upbringing), I can't accept that. However, if someone means, "Jesus' example was one of compassion and selflessness that was ahead of its time, and through which we have a chance to perceive and pursue something divine", I still have faith for that.
Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Hi P.J.,

Okay, I'll give it a shot and will try to keep up with the discussion, though I'm struggling a bit already.

I believe that the biblical accounts of Jesus life are more than works of fiction (or deliberate attempts to deceive) and that they chronicled teachings and examples that the world would do well to emulate. I think they highlight a universal human tension between a desire to be selfless, and an inclination to be selfish. I also think the people who saw and lived with Jesus tried to chronicle those events and could honestly not explain how he did what he did, and so attributed miracles to him as a result. As such, I believe that Jesus was an indicator that humans are more than the sum of their biological parts, and that he allowed us to see our potential to realize that more.

Not sure if that's quite what you were looking for (fairly nebulous I know), but a starting point for more discussion maybe. Cheers!
I've quoted two posts here because I found your other answer really interesting. While I appreciate keeping up must be getting difficult I hope you can take solace in the fact that so many people are finding your posts so interesting! Maybe you could roll up responses to several people into one to save time?

Reading what you've written what strikes me is you seem to be describing a society and a moral philosophy rather than anything unequivocally 'theistic', leaving aside that we're talking about religious figures and the Bible, the fact that you respond well to people who are sincere or to well chosen and appropriate passages, and badly to insincere people and "cookie cutter quotations" seems pretty reasonable to me! Similarly -:

Quote:
"if you repeat this prayer after me you will go to heaven when you die" (as per my upbringing), I can't accept that. However, if someone means, "Jesus' example was one of compassion and selflessness that was ahead of its time, and through which we have a chance to perceive and pursue something divine", I still have faith for that.
(Which ties in nicely with your full reply to me) Is something I can empathise with, we can all be inspired, be it by, a religious or historical figure, or even a work of fiction, but actions rather than words are the mark of that. As I mentioned, some of the nicest people I have known have been devoutly religious, but they didn't make a big thing about it, to give you an example one was a member of a British Branch of an American Evangelical Church, but I only knew about it because it would be mentioned in passing whenever he was involved in events to raise money for local charities (which was a lot) I attended a couple, they were fun and helped some good causes. Two people off the top of my head who I'd consider amoung the most dishonest I've known are regular church attendees and make sure everyone knows about it!

Quote:
[The NT account of Jesus' teachings] highlight a universal human tension between a desire to be selfless, and an inclination to be selfish
I rather like that. It gels very well with my religious upbringing, although there are aspects of the NT that don't fit so well, but it's certainly the aspect that has inspired the Christians that I've respected most.

As far as everything thus far goes everything seems sensible and basically part and parcel of being a well intentioned part of a well functioning social group. My follow on question (if I may) would really focus on a few words-:

When you prayed for sick members of your community did you/do you believe that the prayers could lead to a supernatural cure or did you see it as a way for the community to express their support for that person?

Do you believe in a literal Heaven?

When you say "something divine" and "humans are more than the sum of their biological parts" do you mean something supernatural, or as I'd interpret it in most contexts, our ability to form social groups and societies based on mutual benefit rather than naked self interest?
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Old 10th December 2018, 06:03 PM   #232
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
I've quoted two posts here because I found your other answer really interesting. While I appreciate keeping up must be getting difficult I hope you can take solace in the fact that so many people are finding your posts so interesting!
An honest, articulate, polite and intelligent theist is a rare and valued member on this forum .

That applies to atheists as well of course (stole their thunder), but they aren't as rare (more thunder forecast) .
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Old 10th December 2018, 06:39 PM   #233
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I believe that the biblical accounts of Jesus life are more than works of fiction (or deliberate attempts to deceive) and that they chronicled teachings and examples that the world would do well to emulate. I think they highlight a universal human tension between a desire to be selfless, and an inclination to be selfish. I also think the people who saw and lived with Jesus tried to chronicle those events and could honestly not explain how he did what he did, and so attributed miracles to him as a result. As such, I believe that Jesus was an indicator that humans are more than the sum of their biological parts, and that he allowed us to see our potential to realize that more.
I've noticed (not from you, per se) that even a lot of non-believers really want Jesus to be the nice guy that we were all taught he was/is. For example, it is frequently mentioned that Jesus is not quoted as having said anything about homosexuality. And surely he would have, if it displeases him/God as much as we are told.

A closer reading of the new testament lead me to say "maybe not so perfectly nice as all that". For example, Jesus apparently had no problemo with the number of people who would be going to hell for their non-belief. There are other examples, if you read the gospels with a critical eye, rather than letting them just wash over you.
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Old 10th December 2018, 06:58 PM   #234
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
hi Egg (fun name). Thanks for the welcome. Thinking more about miracles is definitely on my "to do" list. Even a lot of the things we can now explore scientifically seem pretty miraculous to me to be honest, though ynot will correctly point out that this is a conflict of terms, and others will likely contend that depends on one's perspective (much to the former's frustration). When you mention the incompatibility of miracles and justice, do you mean "how could a just God perform a miracle to, for example, save one person's life, while remaining inactive while another dies"? If I understand you well, I can relate to that challenge. I think faith necessitates letting go of the demand to understand everything, but that's still a hard one.
Thinking in terms of miracles as defined as breaking the natural order in a physical way (as opposed to wonder). So, yep, the kind of thinking of the lone survivor of a plane crash or something preventing them getting on that plane. But I think that extends to the general idea of God blessing some people - the wealthy person saying "I'm so blessed" or the winner of a football match - it may sound like humility in that they're not ascribing it to their own work/ability, but actually they're suggesting they are favoured by a god who can and does act in the world, blessing some and not others. And doesn't it then follow that those who are disadvantaged in life somehow deserve their fate?

Similarly, the genie kind of god that grants prayers like wishes if only you just pray enough, believe the right things or repent in the right way.

In terms of what this actually looks like in the real world, it all really looks pretty arbitrary. And maybe the position of faith that God knows and sees a far bigger picture is as valid a response as rejecting such concepts of God as not reflecting love and justice.

Quote:
As for my background, I grew up in a tired, but pleasant old Anglican church in a small town, but changed over to a more lively group in my late teens. Sort of a non-denominational group, quite adherent to the bible, but if you surveyed the members you'd get a broad spectrum of literal/methaphorical interpretations of scripture. Even the leadership was fairly adaptive (by religious standards), although they maintain a literal interpretation of things like miracles and Christian religion being the "one true faith". Speaking in tongues and prophecy are common occurrences in the Sunday meetings and the music is loud and upbeat if that's helpful for context.
I'm actually pretty familiar with both kinds. Plenty in the latter for a sceptic to get stuck into
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Old 10th December 2018, 07:34 PM   #235
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Hi P.J. Thanks for the welcome and the response, including the synopsis of your own background.

I realize my OP came across like "my experience is good, so it must be true", as you and others have understandably interpreted. I meant it more as an explanation of why it's very hard for me to simply discount it all, and why the process of re-evaluating my faith and experiences more critically is something I am doing carefully and gradually.

You're spot-on on your assertion though that I have historically believed Christian accounts of miracles, while discounting those of other religions. And I've even been more readily skeptical of Christians from other denominations than of my immediate community. Some other recent events have helped me recognize, and begin to change this way of thinking and I'm making progress. As others have pointed out in this thread, it's not easy to recognize, let alone change, all of one's own prejudices, whether religious or other. (I could make a dig at the politics of my beloved neighbours to the south here, but I'll refrain).

Regarding dividing lines, those are in flux at present, and I wouldn't say there are things I believe that I don't think are true, so much as things things I recognize I cannot prove, or even test in a meaningful way, which I've tried to express as best I can throughout the thread. Sorry, that's not a thorough response to a very good question and I'll try to articulate more later if I can.
By far, the easiest person to fool is yourself and I think the best advice a critical thinker gave to me was always have the presents of mind to say "I don't know", rather than believe something on bad or no evidence.

So instead of trying to find good reasons for an existing belief you may hold but admit to not (currently) having enough evidence, try to drop the belief and say I Don't Know, then take the claim and investigate and see if the evidence warrants belief, and if it doesn't then you stick with I Don't Know.
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Old 10th December 2018, 09:06 PM   #236
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Originally Posted by Egg View Post
But I think that extends to the general idea of God blessing some people - the wealthy person saying "I'm so blessed" or the winner of a football match - it may sound like humility in that they're not ascribing it to their own work/ability, but actually they're suggesting they are favoured by a god who can and does act in the world, blessing some and not others.
"There but for the grace of God go I" is a particularly peculiar example of this. Like, too bad God's grace didn't apply to the poor schmuck you're comparing yourself to.

People probably mean well when they say these things though. It's just another way of saying, "I was lucky."
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Old 10th December 2018, 09:12 PM   #237
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attempt5001,

Here is a piece of plywood lying on the ground. The length represents theism/non-theism, the width is knowledge/non-knowledge, (gnosticism/agnosticism).

Let's make strong theism the far end of the plywood. Strong atheism is one at the near end. (A strong atheist says "I see evidence that god doesn't exist," and a non-strong one says "I don't see evidence that god does exist.")

Gnosticism is on the left edge of the plywood; agnosticism on the right edge. In between are degrees of knowledge. We can place people in varying locations on the surface of the plywood, depending on their belief/faith/certainty.


The two men I mentioned in a previous post are both gnostic theists, standing at the far left corner. They each have a strongly held belief in their (version of) Christianity and they each KNOW it is correct -- and that the other's version is wrong.

You have begun to move from that corner of the plywood; you need to measure the distance of that movement, and not be afraid of the journey. Honest doubt and honest questioning can't be wrong, no matter what a religion or its adherents say.



Incidentally, to answer a question that you asked about those incidents, I told each of them that I would not discuss religion and would not accept their proselytizing. I had to reiterate that multiple times. The one who is still my friend will forget now and again, and I'll say, "You're doing it again!" He laughs, and stops doing it.
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Old 10th December 2018, 09:22 PM   #238
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
"There but for the grace of God go I" is a particularly peculiar example of this. Like, too bad God's grace didn't apply to the poor schmuck you're comparing yourself to.

People probably mean well when they say these things though. It's just another way of saying, "I was lucky."
It's a nuance on a knife's edge, Minoosh.

Some people are inspired to help others because they recognise that it could just have easily been them in that position or even that some divine power has put you in such a position where it's your duty to help those less fortunate.

But also tempting to reason that if they're being punished then you're upsetting the balance of things or opposing divine will to lessen that punishment.
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Old 11th December 2018, 12:49 AM   #239
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
(...) am an atheist. I have no belief in any God or gods. I'm a paid up member of the Atheist Foundation of Australia and have been for many years. And I have a posting history online as an atheist that goes back to 1992. So, if you don't "think" I'm an atheist, we will need to examine the false basis for that irrational belief.

(...)
This can be ignored, because it is demonstrable garbage. You clearly have no idea what you're talking about and you definitely didn't even read my article on the subject or you wouldn't have said something I show to be patently wrong.

Also wrong. He was firmly in the Humanist, anti-Scholastic tradition. Again, you need to educate yourself. And these two errors of fact are from the guy who thinks he can dismiss my stuff as "a ceremony of confusion". Hilarious.
(...)
Both your supposed "important facts" are dead wrong. But thanks for demonstrating why my site is necessary - you are a picture perfect case of the kind of blundering ignorance dressed as competence it is there to address.
(...)
Yawn. Oh, please tell me how I and the leading historians on the subject have got that wrong as well and how old Gibbon, Carl Sagan and that silly movie with Rachel Weisz are actually the go-to sources on the subject. This should be fun ...
(...)
Thank you for your kind response. I don't know if I'm talking to O'Neill1 or an alias. I guess it's the real O'Neill because he gets really angry because I told him I don't like his blog. I don't like it. What can you do? You should endure the criticism with more stoicism.

I don't consider you an atheist. I use the traditional sense of the word: an atheist is one who claims that gods do not exist. I would call you an agnostic: neither affirm nor deny. From what I've seen, you prefer the Internet terminology, according to which an atheist is the one who does not believe in God; that is, he is not defined by what he affirms or denies, but by what he believes. Something more confusing. Okay, but then you would be an agnostic atheist, as you call them. It seems that what bothers you about atheists or Gnostic atheists, new atheists or whatever you want to call them, is that they are "aggressive" in matters of religion. They don't limit themselves to a passive-defensive attitude. So, if you attack atheists with arguments similar to theists, you run the risk of being confused with one of them. That's why, among other things, I don't like your blog.

Okay, maybe "link" wasn't the right word. I meant that Copernicus did not directly confront the Catholic hierarchy and the scholastic --he even use some Aristotelian concepts to calm the church-- because he took care not to disturb them too much by delaying the publication of his work on the solar system until he was about to die. Luther's attacks are not there to reassure. He benefited from a time when the attitude of the Catholic Church was a little more tolerant than it later was. It happened with Galileo as well. But already at the time of his death the harsh persecution that was to come later was expected, which caused Osiander --perhaps-- to publish a conciliatory prologue saying that heliocentrism was a mere speculative hypothesis. What it was not. I hope that in your demystifying eagerness you don't want to "demystify" also by denying that Copernicanism was persecuted from the 16th century onwards. Or that the church's attitude face to heliocentrism was criminal.

By the way, the position of second Humanism in front of the Church was more less disturbing that the Nuova Scienza, you know.

Gibbon and Sagan don't look very impressive to me as a bible on Hipatia. I haven't read much about this woman, but I would recommend Maria Dzielska: Hypatia of Alexandria, which you can find at Archive.org. It is not a very well known book -in Spain at least-, but it is seriously documented and relatively recent. You will find it "demystifying" for sure. However, even if you demystify the Volterian version of Hypatia, you cannot deny that she was an enlightened woman barbarously murdered by the most savage Christian fundamentalism.

Indeed, atheism has its myths, like any other way of thinking. The problem with obsessing over them, as seems to be your case, is that you leave intact the myths of the other side that are far worse. Amenábar’s film you quote -Agora- was historically unsustainable and ideologically weak on some points, but its defence of freedom of thought against intolerance seems to me rather more sympathetic than religious intransigence. Isn't it the same for you?

Last edited by David Mo; 11th December 2018 at 12:52 AM.
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Old 11th December 2018, 01:28 AM   #240
TimONeill2
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Thank you for your kind response. I don't know if I'm talking to O'Neill1 or an alias.
What? I've been posting here on and off under this profile for almost a decade. Why would this be an "alias"? You have some very strange and irrational ideas about many things.

Quote:
I guess it's the real O'Neill because he gets really angry because I told him I don't like his blog. I don't like it. What can you do? You should endure the criticism with more stoicism.
You said "I don't think Tim O'Neill's blog is excellent" and my response was "I see". Wow - that's some white hot anger. "I see". That's almost making the screen melt it's so angry. More irrationality.

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I don't consider you an atheist. I use the traditional sense of the word: an atheist is one who claims that gods do not exist. I would call you an agnostic: neither affirm nor deny.
OH FFS ... Let us know you you emerge from down that "No True Scotsman" rabbit hole.

Quote:
It seems that what bothers you about atheists or Gnostic atheists, new atheists or whatever you want to call them, is that they are "aggressive" in matters of religion.
More garbage. They can be as "aggressive" as they want - I don't care. I only bat an eyelid when they mangle history.

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So, if you attack atheists with arguments similar to theists, you run the risk of being confused with one of them.
Yes, by stupid people. Everyone else can see I make no argument made only by theists. See if you can work out why that key element is significant.

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Okay, maybe "link" wasn't the right word. I meant that Copernicus did not directly confront the Catholic hierarchy and the scholastic
This is gibberish. He did "confront" the scholastic/peripatetic synthesis with Aristotelianism - that was the whole point of what he was doing. He didn't "confront the Catholic hierarchy" because prior to 1616 this issue had no dogmatic or doctrinal impediments to it. You just don't understand the historical context at all.

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--he even use some Aristotelian concepts to calm the church--
Utter crap. If there are any "Aristotelian concepts" in his stuff it was because he was a man of his time and they were part of the warp and weft of how cosmology was done in this period. But if you can back up this amazing mind-reading-of-a-historical-figure act you're trying to do, let's see your evidence. Please draw on your extensive knowledge of Copernicus' writings, his letters and those of his circle and show us him doing this to "calm the Church. This will be funny to watch.

Why do people like you think they can bluff and bluster their way through this stuff?

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because he took care not to disturb them too much by delaying the publication of his work on the solar system until he was about to die.
Absolute garbage. He'd be circulating his Commentariolus since 1512 - that's 31 years before his death. His student Widmanstadt presented his thesis in the Vatican gardens in front of two cardinals, a senior bishop, the Curia and the frigging Pope (!!) in 1533 - that's 10 years before his death. He corresponded with Cardinal Nikolaus von Schönberg about it in 1536 - that's 7 years before he died. And he was discussing all this with his friend and sponsor Bishop Tiedemann Giese for the whole of this 30+ years. For a guy who was taking care not to let the Church know what he was doing, he did a really bad job. Your claim is utterly absurd and irrational.


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Luther's attacks are not there to reassure. He benefited from a time when the attitude of the Catholic Church was a little more tolerant than it later was.
*Chuckle* Yes, he can have his ideas presented to the Pope in the Vatican Gardens and have the Pope shower them with praise and you somehow interpret this as the Catholic Church being "a little more tolerant than it later was". This stuff is so bizarre it would make a Christian apologist blush.

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It happened with Galileo as well. But already at the time of his death the harsh persecution that was to come later was expected, which caused Osiander --perhaps-- to publish a conciliatory prologue saying that heliocentrism was a mere speculative hypothesis.
Osiander was concerned at the reaction of "the Perpatetics". It was the reaction of fellow scholars that worried these guys, not Church persecution. And Osiander's letters show that he was not present it as "a mere speculative hypothesis". The tactic was to open the discussion that way and then make it clear that it was much more than that as the book went on. Again, you just don't know the source material. More importantly - you don't care. You have your fairy story version and mere facts and evidence are of no interest to you. Like all fundamentalists.

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What it was not. I hope that in your demystifying eagerness you don't want to "demystify" also by denying that Copernicanism was persecuted from the 16th century onwards. Or that the church's attitude face to heliocentrism was criminal.
*Yawn* Again, no. Your problem is that you don't understand (and don't want to understand) why an idea that had not been a problem to anyone suddenly became one in the first decades of the seventeenth cenury (I assume that's what you meant by "the 16th century onwards" - please try to get the basics right)


Quote:
Gibbon and Sagan don't look very impressive to me as a bible on Hipatia. I haven't read much about this woman, but I would recommend Maria Dzielska: Hypatia of Alexandria, which you can find at Archive.org. It is not a very well known book -in Spain at least-, but it is seriously documented and relatively recent. You will find it "demystifying" for sure.
This is hilarious. You think I don't know Dzielska's book? You seriously think I have not read one of the key monographs on Hypatia several times already? Even more funny - Dzielska debunks the myth that Hypatia was some kind of "martyr for science" or was killed because of her learning. Perhaps you should read her book.


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However, even if you demystify the Volterian version of Hypatia, you cannot deny that she was an enlightened woman barbarously murdered by the most savage Christian fundamentalism.
She was assassinated in a political struggle. Neither religion nor learning had anything to do with it. Read Dzielska.

Quote:
Indeed, atheism has its myths, like any other way of thinking. The problem with obsessing over them, as seems to be your case, is that you leave intact the myths of the other side that are far worse.
There are plenty of people debunking the myths of the other side. Show me any other atheist who is holding our side to account on this stuff.

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Amenábar’s film you quote -Agora- was historically unsustainable and ideologically weak on some points, but its defence of freedom of thought against intolerance seems to me rather more sympathetic than religious intransigence. Isn't it the same for you?
An admirable theme. It's just a pity they made up a pseudo historical fairy tale to pursue it. There are plenty of real stories they could have told instead, but now every time I come across anything online about Hypatia it's riddled with nonsense that can be traced back to that stupid movie. Idiots, you see, don't read books.
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