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  #51  
Old 05-13-2019, 08:00 AM
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I believe in God and I pray. ... I understand God as love. ...
As a child, I hated getting dressed and going to church every Sunday. By high school, I was tired of the same thing every week: Stand up, kneel, sing hymns. I found the Bible difficult to comprehend. When my parents stopped forcing me to go to church, I stopped. Then, a few years ago, I stumbled across the Skeptics Annotated Bible. That was the cinder block that broke the camel's back. To summarize, let me quote Richard Dawkins:
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The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
  #52  
Old 05-13-2019, 09:03 AM
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If you can engage with or refute the arguments of David Bentley Hart - or if you can even reason at that level of intellect, learning, and clarity of logic - then your views as an atheist will mean something.
This David Bentley Hart?

The same David Bentley Hart that openly admits to avoiding dealing with the core atheist argument that he claims no theist can answer -- that there is evidence of a just or benevolent god. The same David Bentley Hart that claims that he has no tolerance for fundamentalist religious claims while offering up the same tired old excuse for the lack of human understanding of god because, you see, 'god works in mysterious ways'.

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If you want serious answers, they are there. But - as in any field of knowledge - you have to put in the effort to understand them.
David Bentley Hart is trying to pull the same parlor trick that every reasonably intelligent (I'll give him that) theologian does anymore. He tries to distance himself from the common religious texts (because they are obviously flawed) and moves the goal posts in a way that makes god an indescribably vague and impossible target. He has reduced god to pseudo-scientific sophistry and dares atheists to prove him wrong.

Believe whatever you want. But, if you want a serious discussion, put forward a compelling theistic argument. I will understand it if you present it in a manner that does not insult my intelligence or require me to first suspend my critical functions.
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  #53  
Old 05-13-2019, 09:28 AM
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It's similar in religion. It's easy enough to laugh at televangelist snake-oil salesmen, or feel superior to an ordinary guy who goes to church on Sunday and doesn't think intellectually about it, who can't give good answers to your questions.

But if you sincerely want the best answers, you have to go to the greatest thinkers on religion, not to the lowest-level people. You have to go to Augustine, or Thomas Aquinas, or the Talmud, or the commentaries of Adi Shankara, or the great Buddhist philosophers. The answers won't be glib or easy to understand, but they are the real answers.
You can spend years contemplating the blind guess you make, but in the end it is still that-a blind guess. When it comes to the making of the universe, the hereafter or the entity that might be behind it all your "greatest thinkers" have no more an inside track than Pat Roberson or Creflo Dollar. Puffery and and a well-used thesaurus does not a "real answer" make.
  #54  
Old 05-13-2019, 09:51 AM
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A straw man can be a very convenient property, after all. I can see why a plenteously contented, drowsily complacent, temperamentally incurious atheist might find it comforting—even a little luxurious—to imagine that belief in God is no more than belief in some magical invisible friend who lives beyond the clouds, or in some ghostly cosmic mechanic invoked to explain gaps in current scientific knowledge

But I also like to think that the truly reflective atheist would prefer not to win all his or her rhetorical victories against childish caricatures.
It's not a strawman if it's in response to people who actually think that and have clout.

Perhaps, when atheists make reference to dumb shit like Creationism, they're more concerned with actual Creationists who want to actually change school curricula than they are with an academic who writes about "art, literature, religion, philosophy, film, baseball, and politics" (wiki).

If you want atheists to stop talking about the supernatural as "some ghostly cosmic mechanic invoked to explain gaps in current scientific knowledge", you should convince more religious people to stop using that way of debating and thinking. As long as they exist and have clout, it will be worth responding to.

Maybe you'll say: "That's not my problem." Ok, but then don't expect atheists to stop addressing that because it doesn't apply to you. Because this kind of debate isn't about you or your personal existential and metaphysical questionings, as important as they may be to you.

If religious political and social clout mainly took the form of Mr. Rodgers, John Shelby Spong or Rob Bell, there would be as much opposition to religion as there is to horoscopes.

tl;dr: You want atheists to stop addressing moronic arguments? Get more (co)religionists to stop using moronic ways of thinking and trying to influence government policy. That's what it's about even if that's not what you wish it were about.

Now, if you'd like to start a thread where you expound upon what you found interesting in Hart's book, I personally would find that interesting.

If it matters, I'm not sure if I'd call myself agnostic or atheist, these often come down to definitions which are ill-disguised attempts to frame the issue favorably to one's side.


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If you can engage with or refute the arguments of David Bentley Hart - or if you can even reason at that level of intellect, learning, and clarity of logic - then your views as an atheist will mean something.
I don't care about getting a gold star for my views as an atheist meaning something, I care about homosexuals not being beaten, planes not flying into towers and dim & scared people not having a banner to rally behind to fuck up the world for the rest of us.

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  #55  
Old 05-13-2019, 10:05 AM
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Mysterious unseen forces conspired to prevent me from posting within the 5 minutes timeframe: I spoke in the first person, not because it's about me, but because I think it's reflective the main thrust of atheist arguments. I may be wrong about that but, like I suggested above, it's not just conceptual disagreement, it's conceptual disagreement to the extent that it can enable a very messed up undercurrent of obscurantism and oppression. Take that last part out and far fewer people would give a fuck, theology would just be people geeking out on an especially foofy... I'm sorry, lofty, topic.
  #56  
Old 05-13-2019, 02:20 PM
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Indeed, a case could be made that there is an element of disrespect involved in organised religion - if you choose one form of worship you are denigrating the others. I'd go as far as to say that there are an infinite number of ways that humanity could interact with God, or with the gods, or with the non-personal concept of non-god that is at the heart of Buddhism, and they are all wrong. So long as we realise that the act of worship is entirely divorced from the divine, we can do whatever we like to entertain ourselves in this respect.
Why do think the act of worship is divorced from the divine? That doesn't even make sense.

Why do you think worship in one religion is disrespectful to the others?

It must be comforting for you to know that everybody is wrong, except for you and the people who agree with you. Arrogant much?
  #57  
Old 05-13-2019, 02:51 PM
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Of course, he actually does address that point in great detail in his books. Don't mistake honesty and humility for lack of insight.

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Believe whatever you want. But, if you want a serious discussion, put forward a compelling theistic argument. I will understand it if you present it in a manner that does not insult my intelligence or require me to first suspend my critical functions.
I have indicated a compelling theistic argument for you to read. But you obviously prefer not to read it.
  #58  
Old 05-13-2019, 02:55 PM
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You can spend years contemplating the blind guess you make, but in the end it is still that-a blind guess. When it comes to the making of the universe, the hereafter or the entity that might be behind it all your "greatest thinkers" have no more an inside track than Pat Roberson or Creflo Dollar. Puffery and and a well-used thesaurus does not a "real answer" make.
How is logic and experience a 'blind guess'?

You are also refusing to engage with the actual arguments. You are not even aware of what they are.

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  #59  
Old 05-13-2019, 03:26 PM
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Of course, he actually does address that point in great detail in his books. Don't mistake honesty and humility for lack of insight.
Insight into what?


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I have indicated a compelling theistic argument for you to read. But you obviously prefer not to read it.
What am I expected to read? His books? Can you summarize his argument for us? What's the most compelling part of it, in your opinion?
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  #60  
Old 05-13-2019, 03:34 PM
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Insight into what?




What am I expected to read? His books? Can you summarize his argument for us? What's the most compelling part of it, in your opinion?
No QuickSilver, you're supposed to read and meditate on hundreds of pages of text because someone on Internet said that if you don't do that, you're being unfair.

Now go read 500 pages of the latest Marxist academic analysis before saying anything bad about the USSR.
  #61  
Old 05-13-2019, 03:37 PM
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I think the main issues I have with the concept of God is why create anything at all? Consider that most people are familiar with the idea that when one comes to God, they are made whole. They no longer have any wants and are like God in that regard. But if God is already perfect, then the shear act of creation of lesser beings is a move away from perfection. As a perfect being, God wouldn't have "wants", such as desire. Forget the question of why he would want worship. Why would God "want" at all?
  #62  
Old 05-13-2019, 03:42 PM
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It must be comforting for you to know that everybody is wrong, except for you and the people who agree with you. Arrogant much?
Oh, no, I'm just as wrong as you are, and everybody else.
  #63  
Old 05-13-2019, 03:46 PM
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Why do you think the act of worship is divorced from the divine? That doesn't even make sense.
I was basing this on your own admission;
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Worship does nothing to God, and he doesn't need it. It's purely for the sake of the worshipper himself.
Have you changed your mind now?
  #64  
Old 05-13-2019, 03:48 PM
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GreenWyvern, I think I get it (although I could be wrong): People on Internet said something unfair about a group you're a member of. It does suck. It's also kinda gonna happen on Internet. If you're a straight white male, you're getting one of the mildest versions of that.

You won't solve that problem by trying to get people to dive deep on the topic. You'll solve it by having more equanimity for the fact that people on Internet saying something unfair about a group you're a member of.

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  #65  
Old 05-13-2019, 05:56 PM
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“Worship is for the worshipper, not God” actually jibes with what I believe. But I’m a non-Believer. I don’t think theists who put stock in this realize the implications of this view.

There’s something in the human psyche that makes us crave the arousal and euphoria that comes with fanaticism. Go to a concert attended by devoted fans and the experience is much like what you see in church. The ferver is easily perceived as a mystical experience, but really, when you see teenagers losing their wits at the sight of their favorite boy band the same way someone catches the holy sprit on Sunday, you realize what looks mystical is actually just psychological.

Celebrity worship and religious worship are manifestation of the same primal need. Hierarchical social animals that we are, there must be something about giving an entity superior status and then throwing emotional energy at it, that soothes our pain and makes us feel okay with existence. Or something.

So why do we need God to reap the benefits of worship? If a charismatic leader or musician or anime ccharacter can get us in the same frame of mind, then religion is not essential.

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  #66  
Old 05-13-2019, 10:13 PM
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Indeed, a case could be made that there is an element of disrespect involved in organised religion - if you choose one form of worship you are denigrating the others.
I respectfully disagree. I choose to express my belief in God in a way that I feel most comfortable doing. I don't disrespect any other form of worship (assuming I agree with its theology) any more than I disrespect someone who doesn't have the same taste in food as I. I'm very uncomfortable with charismatic worship services, and I know people who attend them who left a traditional church because they were hopelessly bored.

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There’s something in the human psyche that makes us crave the arousal and euphoria that comes with fanaticism. Go to a concert attended by devoted fans and the experience is much like what you see in church.
Clearly, you've never been to a mainline Christian suburban church.

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If a charismatic leader or musician or anime character can get us in the same frame of mind, then religion is not essential.
I assure you, I doubt I've ever had an experience in any church that compares with the sheer adrenaline rush I felt at pretty much any rock concert I've ever attended. For me, church and rock concerts aren't interchangeable, and when my wife and I attended a very traditional worship service that had grafted a "praise band" on it, it was all we could do to stifle our laughter.

Granted, there are some people who are exactly what eburacum45 and you with the face describe. I know people who go from church to church because they get bored with the presentation and can't even tell you what the ministers actually preach about, and people who never go to church at all, but click from televangelist to televangelist (and send all of the money) for the same reason. I even know a woman who was raised in a traditional Roman Catholic home and ended up as a Scientologist. Just not all of us, that's all.
  #67  
Old 05-14-2019, 12:47 AM
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Basically, if you want to call yourself intellectually honest, you have to read and understand the arguments of the other side. I've tried to do this all my life. I've certainly read Dawkins and Hitchens and other atheists.

Bluster, jeers, and insults are not acceptable arguments.

The book I recommended can't easily be summarized. It's not a glib, superficial, populist screed, but a serious intellectual work.

My question is, why are you afraid of reading this book?
Are you afraid of being convinced?
Are you afraid you won't be able to refute his arguments?
Are you afraid that it's too heavy and intellectually difficult for you to follow? Are you simply afraid of reading books that are harder to understand than a powerpoint presentation?

If you can come back and say, for example, 'I think his argument from contingency (expanded from the argument of Thomas Aquinas and others) is mistaken in this and that way, for this and that reason. This is what I think is the correct way of thinking about contingency.' Then you will be worth listening to.

Otherwise you're like a 6-year-old thumbing his nose at Einstein's Relativity. You can jeer and insult, but you can't counter the reasoning. You are no better than a Trump or Farage supporter who can't be reasoned with. (If you are actually a Trump or Farage supporter, my condolences.) You're not arguing and reasoning at a serious level, with a serious level of knowledge about the subject.

One of the editorial reviews on the Amazon page says,
"Hart marshals powerful historical evidence and philosophical argument to suggest that atheists—if they want to attack the opposition's strongest case—badly need to up their game."—Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian
That's a good point.
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Old 05-14-2019, 02:56 AM
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Hart's book is not relevant to this thread, which is about whether the loosely defined and apparently interchangeable entities which are worshipped by humans actually desire or need to be worshipped. Your post #35 seems to indicate that they do not. I am in agreement with that. With luck, the rest of the world will come to the same realisation and stop bothering the divine.
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:57 AM
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Basically, if you want to call yourself intellectually honest, you have to read and understand the arguments of the other side. I've tried to do this all my life. I've certainly read Dawkins and Hitchens and other atheists.

Bluster, jeers, and insults are not acceptable arguments.

The book I recommended can't easily be summarized. It's not a glib, superficial, populist screed, but a serious intellectual work.

My question is, why are you afraid of reading this book?
Are you afraid of being convinced?
Are you afraid you won't be able to refute his arguments?
Are you afraid that it's too heavy and intellectually difficult for you to follow? Are you simply afraid of reading books that are harder to understand than a powerpoint presentation?

If you can come back and say, for example, 'I think his argument from contingency (expanded from the argument of Thomas Aquinas and others) is mistaken in this and that way, for this and that reason. This is what I think is the correct way of thinking about contingency.' Then you will be worth listening to.

Otherwise you're like a 6-year-old thumbing his nose at Einstein's Relativity. You can jeer and insult, but you can't counter the reasoning. You are no better than a Trump or Farage supporter who can't be reasoned with. (If you are actually a Trump or Farage supporter, my condolences.) You're not arguing and reasoning at a serious level, with a serious level of knowledge about the subject.

One of the editorial reviews on the Amazon page says,
"Hart marshals powerful historical evidence and philosophical argument to suggest that atheists—if they want to attack the opposition's strongest case—badly need to up their game."—Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian
That's a good point.
1. I don't scoff at D.B. Hart out of ignorance of his ponderings, but I'm not surprised at your blind assumption.
2. I am not afraid of what he says...which is another blind assumption made on behalf of atheists and agnostics when they don't buy into the baseless musings of the religious intellectual.
3. I see you've managed to name-drop the two atheists that are in the news the most, but what of Dan Barker, Greta Christina, Michael Shermer, Susan Blackmore, Sumitra Padmanabhan, Peter Singer and so many others?
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:01 AM
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Hart's book is not relevant to this thread, which is about whether the loosely defined and apparently interchangeable entities which are worshipped by humans actually desire or need to be worshipped. Your post #35 seems to indicate that they do not. I am in agreement with that. With luck, the rest of the world will come to the same realisation and stop bothering the divine.
You are correct, so getting back on track-Despite uncountable descriptions of Heaven being a place where angels and others spend their time singing about the greatness of God, is it commonly believed that God has no desire or need for such activity?
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:02 AM
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As a child, I hated getting dressed and going to church every Sunday. By high school, I was tired of the same thing every week: Stand up, kneel, sing hymns. I found the Bible difficult to comprehend. When my parents stopped forcing me to go to church, I stopped. Then, a few years ago, I stumbled across the Skeptics Annotated Bible. That was the cinder block that broke the camel's back. To summarize, let me quote Richard Dawkins:
oh, well tell us how you really feel, then.

I didn't go to church until I was in my thirties, maybe that's the difference.
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:04 AM
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I think the believers' explanation would be that they worship God because he told them to and because he deserves it.
That isn't what I would say, at all. Neither one.
  #73  
Old 05-14-2019, 10:24 AM
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I think the believers' explanation would be that they worship God because he told them to and because he deserves it.
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That isn't what I would say, at all. Neither one.
I think the second ("he deserves it") has to be part of it. The word "worship" is related to "worth" or "worthy."

It seems to me that some of the people in this thread (and elsewhere) who have an issue with worship object to it because they don't think that the G(g)od(s) they see people worshiping is worthy of worship—and to whatever extent they're right about the god(s) not being worthy, they're right to be bothered by the worship.

As for the first, I may be wrong, but I get the impression from the Bible that God spends more time telling people not to worship other gods, idols, "graven images," etc. than he does telling them to worship Him.
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:29 AM
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I think the second ("he deserves it") has to be part of it. The word "worship" is related to "worth" or "worthy."

It seems to me that some of the people in this thread (and elsewhere) who have an issue with worship object to it because they don't think that the G(g)od(s) they see people worshiping is worthy of worship—and to whatever extent they're right about the god(s) not being worthy, they're right to be bothered by the worship.

As for the first, I may be wrong, but I get the impression from the Bible that God spends more time telling people not to worship other gods, idols, "graven images," etc. than he does telling them to worship Him.
"Don't worship other gods" certainly implies "Just worship me".

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  #75  
Old 05-14-2019, 11:18 AM
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I think the second ("he deserves it") has to be part of it. The word "worship" is related to "worth" or "worthy."

It seems to me that some of the people in this thread (and elsewhere) who have an issue with worship object to it because they don't think that the G(g)od(s) they see people worshiping is worthy of worship—and to whatever extent they're right about the god(s) not being worthy, they're right to be bothered by the worship.
While I dispute that it's productive to worship anyone, it's certainly the case that being unworthy of praise should give pause to anyone praising them.

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As for the first, I may be wrong, but I get the impression from the Bible that God spends more time telling people not to worship other gods, idols, "graven images," etc. than he does telling them to worship Him.
Wasn't there something somewhere about not having other gods "before Me"? I don't recall where that was, perhaps somewhere obscure. In any case it establishes that it's definitely a contest that God wants to win, for one reason or another.
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:49 AM
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The book I recommended can't easily be summarized. It's not a glib, superficial, populist screed, but a serious intellectual work.

My question is, why are you afraid of reading this book?
Are you afraid of being convinced?
Are you afraid you won't be able to refute his arguments?
Are you afraid that it's too heavy and intellectually difficult for you to follow? Are you simply afraid of reading books that are harder to understand than a powerpoint presentation?
Who is exhibiting arrogance now? You think you're the only one who is capable of evaluating information and coming to their own conclusions honestly?

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If you can come back and say, for example, 'I think his argument from contingency (expanded from the argument of Thomas Aquinas and others) is mistaken in this and that way, for this and that reason. This is what I think is the correct way of thinking about contingency.' Then you will be worth listening to.
Let's cut to the chase; Argument from Contingency:

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1. A contingent being (a being such that if it exists, it could have not-existed or could cease to exist) exists.
2. This contingent being has a cause of or explanation[1] for its existence.
3. The cause of or explanation for its existence is something other than the contingent being itself.
4. What causes or explains the existence of this contingent being must either be solely other contingent beings or include a non-contingent (necessary) being.
5. Contingent beings alone cannot provide a completely adequate causal account or explanation for the existence of a contingent being.
6. Therefore, what causes or explains the existence of this contingent being must include a non-contingent (necessary) being.
7. Therefore, a necessary being (a being such that if it exists, it cannot not-exist) exists.
8. The universe is contingent.
9. Therefore, the necessary being is something other than the universe.
I have just a few questions:
1) Who/What created the "necessary being"? And who created the creator of the "necessary being"?
2) If the necessary being is eternal, why can't the universe be eternal as well?
3) What evidence is there in the known universe of a necessary being and what would the difference be if the known universe isn't a creation of a necessary being?

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One of the editorial reviews on the Amazon page says,
"Hart marshals powerful historical evidence and philosophical argument to suggest that atheists—if they want to attack the opposition's strongest case—badly need to up their game."—Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian
That's a good point.
Not it isn't. Hart's fans have not been paying attention.
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Last edited by QuickSilver; 05-14-2019 at 11:51 AM.
  #77  
Old 05-14-2019, 11:50 AM
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It seems to me that some of the people in this thread (and elsewhere) who have an issue with worship object to it because they don't think that the G(g)od(s) they see people worshiping is worthy of worship—and to whatever extent they're right about the god(s) not being worthy, they're right to be bothered by the worship.
I guess this is my view, at least somewhat. But mainly, it’s hard for me to conceive of a god that is concerned with whether people worship it or not. Just like I can get my mind around a god that cares whether I believe in it or not. These priorities seem exactly like the kind of things humans would project on to a deity.
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:59 AM
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I guess this is my view, at least somewhat. But mainly, it’s hard for me to conceive of a god that is concerned with whether people worship it or not. Just like I can get my mind around a god that cares whether I believe in it or not. These priorities seem exactly like the kind of things humans would project on to a deity.
I feel inspired to ponder different reasons a deity might want people to worship them.

1) They're a narcissist.

2) They derive power from adulation, and/or their very survival depends on it.

3) People who worship them become compliant and can then be more easily used for nefarious purposes. (Slaves, people batteries, lunch, whatever.)

4) People benefit from the mere act of worshiping anything, and the god is a nice guy who wants people to benefit. (Note that if this is the case the god won't care who or what you worship; they *definitely* won't tell you not to put other gods before them.)

5) They want to help humans in some way, but there's some sort of arcane and extremely specific universal law that prevents them from helping humans that don't worship them personally. This explanation only applies if the god didn't set up the system and doesn't have the power to change universal laws, of course.


Did I miss anything?
  #79  
Old 05-14-2019, 12:32 PM
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Basically, if you want to call yourself intellectually honest, you have to read and understand the arguments of the other side. I've tried to do this all my life. I've certainly read Dawkins and Hitchens and other atheists.

Bluster, jeers, and insults are not acceptable arguments.

The book I recommended can't easily be summarized. It's not a glib, superficial, populist screed, but a serious intellectual work.

My question is, why are you afraid of reading this book?
Are you afraid of being convinced?
Are you afraid you won't be able to refute his arguments?
Are you afraid that it's too heavy and intellectually difficult for you to follow? Are you simply afraid of reading books that are harder to understand than a powerpoint presentation?
You claim you're intellectually honest and read opposing viewpoints with an open mind. And yet you then dismiss those opposing viewpoints as nothing more than "bluster, jeers, and insults". And "glib, superficial, populist".

But the works which support your viewpoint; those are serious intellectual works. The only reason anyone wouldn't read those books is because they're afraid of their truth.
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:09 PM
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IMHO this has ceased to be a Great Debate and turned into another example of us talking past each other. I've said what I came here to say. Bye.
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:26 PM
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:32 PM
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IMHO this has ceased to be a Great Debate and turned into another example of us talking past each other. I've said what I came here to say. Bye.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but your statement about the subject of the thread was basically, "I dunno, I think maybe God doesn't want to be worshiped at all." Which is nice and all, but it's hard not to talk past a shrug.
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:54 PM
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I feel inspired to ponder different reasons a deity might want people to worship them.

1) They're a narcissist.

2) They derive power from adulation, and/or their very survival depends on it.

3) People who worship them become compliant and can then be more easily used for nefarious purposes. (Slaves, people batteries, lunch, whatever.)

4) People benefit from the mere act of worshiping anything, and the god is a nice guy who wants people to benefit. (Note that if this is the case the god won't care who or what you worship; they *definitely* won't tell you not to put other gods before them.)

5) They want to help humans in some way, but there's some sort of arcane and extremely specific universal law that prevents them from helping humans that don't worship them personally. This explanation only applies if the god didn't set up the system and doesn't have the power to change universal laws, of course.


Did I miss anything?
What if people benefit from the mere act of worshiping God, due to some arcane and extremely specific universal law that only works when worshiping God specifically? And that such a system is set up for the express purpose of letting humans keep their free will?

~Max
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:59 PM
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What if people benefit from the mere act of worshiping God, due to some arcane and extremely specific universal law that only works when worshiping God specifically? And that such a system is set up for the express purpose of letting humans keep their free will?

~Max
That is certainly...an idea, I guess.
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Old 05-14-2019, 02:08 PM
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What if people benefit from the mere act of worshiping God, due to some arcane and extremely specific universal law that only works when worshiping God specifically? And that such a system is set up for the express purpose of letting humans keep their free will?

~Max
How would such a system help people keep their free will? Does getting God's help rob people of their free will somehow? Note that if a person doesn't have the ability to stop god from helping them that doesn't reduce the person's free will any more than it reduces your free will if you can't stop me from slipping money into your pocket.
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:25 PM
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How would such a system help people keep their free will? Does getting God's help rob people of their free will somehow? Note that if a person doesn't have the ability to stop god from helping them that doesn't reduce the person's free will any more than it reduces your free will if you can't stop me from slipping money into your pocket.
The goal of worshiping God is not to retain free will per se but to better the human soul. Sure, God could swoop in and forcibly manipulate a human's soul - but to do so destroys the human's free will, and it must be asked if doing so in fact improves the soul at all. To use the father-son analogy, a father does not improve his son's character by knocking out the child and, by the force of his own hands, making the child perform moral acts.

~Max
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:37 PM
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The goal of worshiping God is not to retain free will per se but to better the human soul. Sure, God could swoop in and forcibly manipulate a human's soul - but to do so destroys the human's free will, and it must be asked if doing so in fact improves the soul at all. To use the father-son analogy, a father does not improve his son's character by knocking out the child and, by the force of his own hands, making the child perform moral acts.
How does constant veneration/worship of the father improve the soul of the son?
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:54 PM
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How does constant veneration/worship of the father improve the soul of the son?
I can posit a mechanism. Maybe worshipping God on a regular basis keeps God (and his laws) in our consciousness so that our souls stay pure. Kind of like how regular exercise keeps our muscles toned and strong. Maybe without regular worship, it is easier to lose faith and succumb to temptations.
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:57 PM
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I can posit a mechanism. Maybe worshipping God on a regular basis keeps God (and his laws) in our consciousness so that our souls stay pure. Kind of like how regular exercise keeps our muscles toned and strong. Maybe without regular worship, it is easier to lose faith and succumb to temptations.
Isn't that akin to brainwashing?
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Old 05-14-2019, 04:25 PM
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Isn't that akin to brainwashing?
We have evidence for brains . . . souls, not so much.

CMC fnord!
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Old 05-14-2019, 04:33 PM
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Isn't that akin to brainwashing?
I always study when I have to take a test. I read over my lecture notes and work different problem sets until the material fully saturates my brain. I do this so that I'll master the test. Or, at the very least, I won't be intimidated by the test.

If you think that's brainwashing, OK.
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Old 05-14-2019, 04:36 PM
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Maybe without regular worship, it is easier to lose faith and succumb to temptations.
Should be easy to test; compare the crime rates in countries that do a lot of worshipping against those that don't. I wonder what the result might be.
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Old 05-14-2019, 04:36 PM
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I always study when I have to take a test. I read over my lecture notes and work different problem sets until the material fully saturates my brain. I do this so that I'll master the test. Or, at the very least, I won't be intimidated by the test.

If you think that's brainwashing, OK.
I don't think that is brainwashing. Are you saying that studying and worshiping are the same thing?
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Old 05-14-2019, 04:44 PM
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I don't think that is brainwashing. Are you saying that studying and worshiping are the same thing?
I don't think doing one thing (worship) to keep some other thing else (God and his laws) in ones consciousness is brainwashing. Just like I don't think studying for a test is brainwashing or chanting affirmations is brainwashing.

Are you honestly confused? Or are you just humoring yourself?
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:15 PM
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I can posit a mechanism. Maybe worshipping God on a regular basis keeps God (and his laws) in our consciousness so that our souls stay pure. Kind of like how regular exercise keeps our muscles toned and strong. Maybe without regular worship, it is easier to lose faith and succumb to temptations.
Just keeping things straight, which of these scenarios are you positing:

1) Worshiping god acts as a summoning spell which brings God into your soul and allows him to bust out the dustbuster and windex and clean your soul out.

2) Worshiping god doesn't mean worshiping him, but instead studying up on him, bringing thoughts about his existence and laws in your mind which then causes you to behave more nicely because you remember what the laws are and that he exists enough to disapprove of you breaking them.

Last edited by begbert2; 05-14-2019 at 05:16 PM. Reason: typos are cluttering up my posts
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:34 PM
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Just keeping things straight, which of these scenarios are you positing:

1) Worshiping god acts as a summoning spell which brings God into your soul and allows him to bust out the dustbuster and windex and clean your soul out.
I'm not saying this.

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2) Worshiping god doesn't mean worshiping him, but instead studying up on him, bringing thoughts about his existence and laws in your mind which then causes you to behave more nicely because you remember what the laws are and that he exists enough to disapprove of you breaking them.
I'm not saying this either, at least not exactly.

Worship is akin to studying in that both activities keep information (whether that be God, his promises, his instructions, his love, his wonderful afterlife) in a person's awareness. If you sing along to gospel music* right before you go to bed, let's say, then you will have God on your brain at a moment when your thoughts might otherwise turn dark ("There is no God") or salacious ("Ooh, sexy times with myself!") And thus you will be able to wake up the next day with a soul that's heavenbound. Just like if you work calculus problems right before you go to bed, you will have conic functions on your brain when you wake up rather than the usual stupid programming, such as the theme song to Scooby Doo. You will be able to wake up with a mind that's bound to master the big final exam.

I'm not sure what ya'll are specifically confused about, but I guess I'll keep playing along.




*I personally recommend Aretha Franklin's "Amazing Grace" album. It's almost good enough to make a heathen like me backslide right back into Christianity.
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:47 PM
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Transubstantiation


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How does constant veneration/worship of the father improve the soul of the son?
I'm not a theologian and I am not a Catholic, but I have had the pleasure of speaking to a Catholic minister about this and will do my best to represent that faith.

During a Catholic mass the worshiper ingests consecrated bread and wine, which has the effect of literally inviting Jesus into your soul. This is not based on scientific evidence, but on longstanding papal authority which in turn interprets the Eucharist as related by the Bible (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:17-20; I Corinthians 11:23-25; John 6:47-67).

Unfortunately for agnostics, the physical mechanism behind transubstantiation (if one exists) remains elusive.

~Max

Last edited by Max S.; 05-14-2019 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:20 PM
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I'm not saying this either, at least not exactly.

Worship is akin to studying in that both activities keep information (whether that be God, his promises, his instructions, his love, his wonderful afterlife) in a person's awareness. If you sing along to gospel music* right before you go to bed, let's say, then you will have God on your brain at a moment when your thoughts might otherwise turn dark ("There is no God") or salacious ("Ooh, sexy times with myself!") And thus you will be able to wake up the next day with a soul that's heavenbound. Just like if you work calculus problems right before you go to bed, you will have conic functions on your brain when you wake up rather than the usual stupid programming, such as the theme song to Scooby Doo. You will be able to wake up with a mind that's bound to master the big final exam.
So, if we're presuming that God is the one mandating the worship, it's actually more like "Hey all you guys, keep in mind that I'm going to mercilessly rip into you for all your unapproved actions and/or thoughts at some point, and if you keep the approved literature in your heads as much as possible it's less likely that the thought police will drag you to barbecue town when the Great Grilling commences. Consider this advice/order a warning/order."?
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:36 PM
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Worship in Judaism


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How does constant veneration/worship of the father improve the soul of the son?
The rabbis I have listened to taught that any righteous act (mitzvah) is an act of worship, or avodat hashem. Prayers (tefilah) are a special kind of mitzvah, and the purpose of prayer like any other act of worship is to transform one's self. Apparently there is some disagreement as to how this works. One conservative rabbi years ago explained prayers as a form of communication. Another rabbi explained that prayers literally shape the universe (this Jewish theology is known as Kabalah). What rabbis seem to agree on is that it is the intent of the prayer that counts, not the specific sounds or words or tone.

~Max
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:37 PM
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I feel inspired to ponder different reasons a deity might want people to worship them.

1) They're a narcissist.
I'm not sure what "narcissism" would mean when applied to a deity, at least a Supreme Being like the God of Jews, Christians, or Muslims.

That he "thinks he's God"? Well, duh: He is.

That he has an exaggerated sense of self-importance? But he is important. Narcissism is a disorder in human beings because, hey, you're not the only person in this world. Why should you think you're more special than anybody else? But God is more special than anybody else.

That he has an excessive need for admiration? Now we're sort of begging the question: Why does he want/need people to worship him?

Quote:
2) They derive power from adulation, and/or their very survival depends on it.

3) People who worship them become compliant and can then be more easily used for nefarious purposes. (Slaves, people batteries, lunch, whatever.)
This may work for gods in polytheistic or henotheistic settings, but it doesn't make sense for the Almighty as conceived of by most monotheists, who doesn't have such limitations.

Quote:
4) People benefit from the mere act of worshiping anything, and the god is a nice guy who wants people to benefit. (Note that if this is the case the god won't care who or what you worship; they *definitely* won't tell you not to put other gods before them.)
6) Sort of the opposite of this: God knows that people have a built-in tendency to worship something, and so he wants them to worship him rather than something more dangerous like a human being, an institution (like the State), or the Almighty Dollar.

Quote:
5) They want to help humans in some way, but there's some sort of arcane and extremely specific universal law that prevents them from helping humans that don't worship them personally. This explanation only applies if the god didn't set up the system and doesn't have the power to change universal laws, of course.


Did I miss anything?
Probably several other possibilities, such as my #6 above, or my suggestion earlier in the thread that maybe worship makes God "feel good" or get something analogous to emotional pleasure from it.


But maybe all of these suggested reasons are too transactional. They're all based on the supposition that God derives some benefit as a result of being worshiped, or that the worshipers do. But maybe that's the wrong way to look at it, or at least not the full picture. Maybe worship is an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. Maybe worship (whether by humans or by angels) happens because it's somehow right or fitting or aesthetically pleasing.
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