Oh my God!

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Gary Wassner, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. Bengoshi-San

    Bengoshi-San Celestial Dragon

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    I think some clarification is in order.

    When I said "I wonder how many of these people blame god", what I meant was that most of the 57% would probably NOT think it an act of god if the family member/hospitalized person/sick person in question were to die.

    From my personal experiences with religion in so far as it deals with miracles and healing, seems to me a subject filled mainly with irony. Among many religious individuals, god is credited when an individual is healed or saved, yet he is not held accountable in any terms if that individual were to die.

    The default is this (in my eyes)... if god is responsible for the overall health and well-being of humankind, then he is to deserve:
    credit for keeping individuals alive
    responsibility for allowing someone to die.

    However, what I am saying is that in some religious circles, there are many individuals who would even go as far as to say that: "Maybe this was gods way of punishing him for such-and-such a sin." or "He should have taken better care of his health." or I've even heard.. "The world is a cold place and god probably wanted to take her to a better place."

    What I am saying in essence is that the argument of god being responsible in any way for the savior/health or failure/death of a human being is filled, in my humble opinion with irony.

    Even if you assume some of the values that many religious individuals hold in terms of divine intervention as it relates to life/death.. there are loop-holes that "they" (mentioned religious individuals), are never able to defend.

    If a child dies of cancer but an alcoholic child-abuser lives, why is god never mentioned? I'm not concerned with the ethics of it.. but very rarely do the above mentioned 57% decide to bring god into these debates. What I here am saying is that there is a reason why... and the reason in my eyes is because there isn't a logical explanation.

    Faith is faith for one reason, it lives within us with or without reason or evidence.
     
  2. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    God's will, eh? Since the survey addressed the time when the doctors had ceased activity, your assertion sounds like a circumstance where the act of dying has an agent permitted or not permitted to act. God wills the act. That avoids any necessity for saying god killed the patient. She didn't kill him; she just willed it so. There is a neat distinction in there somewhere but it is an elusive bugger.

    Say that a toddler has escaped supervision and is about to cross a high traffic street. You, my friend, are watching this tragedy play itself out. You can opt to take action or to not take action, merely observe. If you take no action, that toddler is about to buy the farm and you will it to be so. If you take action, then you will the child to live. Either way, are you not the agent of death/life? Are you not responsible for what happens? Are you not to blame for what happens?
     
  3. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    Responsibility and blame! Hmmmm. We can't know all the contingencies so we can't ever be totally responsible for unforseen results. Some choices come from the right place and have disasterous affects. But God? He can't make those mistakes, so everything that happens is God's will. Or worse even, he's aware of it all but doesn't act to prevent the horrible things that occur. Then he's truly repsonsible. Awareness coupled with failure to act!

    Leaving things to God's will is a difficult path to take. It's nothing more than a rationalization in the face of circumstances we can't control. It's a way of reconciling our mortality I suppose. But to truly believe it? I'm not sure that many TRULY believe. It's the easy way out of despair sometimes, but it's such a false way out.
     
  4. BrianC

    BrianC bmalone.blogspot.com

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    Hereford Eye, Gadfly Extraordinaire. Everybody dies, and for a believer in the judeo-christian-islamic tradition, everybody dies according to god's plan laid out in advance. For such a believer, all life and all death is god's will. To try to affix blame or responsibility on such a scale is impossible. Within such a theology death is but a transition to a higher (or lower) plane of existence according to god's plan. To say that god is responsible for a death is a nullity. Theologically, god is responsible for everything, nothing is omitted, including the very fact of life and death. (Yet there is the question of human free will and a very long struggle to reconcile those two aspects, but that doesn't seem to be what we're talking about here). Comparing one human's responsibility to his or her fellow humans to the unfolding of god's plan is, to a believer, absurd.

    Gary, for a believer faith provides all answers. The existence of god, and more importantly for the purposes of this discussion, the nature of god cannot be proved or disproved. It is a matter of faith. Faith needs no proof and no rationale so I would disagree that belief in an omnipotent god with an all-emncompassing 'plan' is a rationalization. What a lot of agnostics/atheists/non-theists don't want to admit is that disbelief in such a god is also a matter of faith. I fall into that latter category, and I don't think that my belief, my faith that there is no such god, is a rationalization in the sense of self-deception. (I am, however, sufficiently self-aware to recognize that my faith may be wrong). Faith is something that you either have or you don't, but perhaps you meant that one who professes faith but who does not truly possess it is rationalizing?
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  5. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    Not a whole lot different from accepting that's just the way things are. When you take god out of the equation, then isn't what you have left is a universe running minus anyone in charge? If that's the way it 'really' is, then that's the way we believe it really is. It's a belief system the same as putting god in the equation. Neither has more validity than the other. It winds up being what you can be more comfortable with.
    I don't have a problem with any belief system. My problems begin when the belief systems take on the trappings of a formal religion. Like today's religion of science: evolution is a fact, no ifs, ands, or buts allowed. So, if you ask questions like just what am I and how did I get to be this way: a thinking, questioning human being - that question is not allowed. You won't find a discussion of that topic in any textbook in our primary school systems. We are not comfortable diiscussing the topic without the necessary props and we can't all agree on what the necessary props look like so we decide it's too difficult for our children to attempt to grasp. Ergo, we don't allow the question. It's a basic issue in evolutionary studies but we don't talk about it until college when we can study philosophy.
    It seems to me that science-as-a-religion is what Kunz was writing about with paradigm shifts. Those happen in formal religions, too. See Martin Luther, Maimonides; Abd al-Wahhab, et al. They are just as unsettling when they happen no matter the frame of reference.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  6. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    So faith, Brian, is bullshit? In all other situations, when we can't explain ourselves or prove our arguments or even discuss the situation beyond, 'I believe it, so it's true for me' (and in most religions, if for me, for everyone), we don't take the claims very seriously. But when it comes to religious claims, our standards drop to the lowest common denominator. We revert to ignorance and to support structures for our beliefs that we wouldn't even allow our young children to propose if God weren't the issue.

    HE, I have hard time equating most things that science postulates with faith based claims. The religion of science has more to do with those who live by the beliefs than by the beliefs themselves.
     
  7. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    Is not the second statement exposition of the first statement? Again, using Thomas Kuhn's terminology, a paradigm shift is a major correction to an existing belief system. Kuhn adequately demonstrated the fact of a science paradigm shift in the 20th century. The previous paradigm had all the "proofs" required to allow it to stand but not all the proofs possible, only thoswe that made it work. All anomalies were ignored as unimportant or untestable or un-something-or-other. I submit the case pertains in this day and age.
     
  8. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    Yes, to a degree. But there's a fundamental difference between a particular scientific claim and a particular scientific proof. They are mutable. They adapt and change over time, and none of us feel a sense of loss or profound meaninglessness whenwe discard one scientific paradigm for another. But the concept of God, this one claim about one type of existence, is not open to amendments or changes, only vague variations on a theme.
     
  9. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    But...
    doesn't it bother you just a bit that the very science that supports your rationale against the existence of god and props your understanding of who you are and your place in this world stands on such a fallible, malleable, living, evolving kind of base?

    For example, I recently had a very fine doctor - based on my liking and trust for the man - perform a heart catheterization on myself. During the procedure, some anomalies rose. When I asked what caused them, he looked at me with obvious embarassment and replied that he did not know. Should I take that statement as evidence of his incompetency or evidence that he is a man doing the best he can with what he knows and what he knows is not everything there is to know? Should I relinquish my trust in the man or accept that there remains a hell of a lot we humans don't know? If I retain my trust in the man, is that obstinacy in the face of the facts? Belief without any basis? Faith?
    Sort of like driving through a green light, isn't it?
     
  10. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    NO, it's a calculated decision based upon prior experiences.

    It doesn't bother me at all that the base of my knowledge is evolving. I expect it to. In fact, if something seems reasonable to me, and i've exhausted the available means of making it seem reasonable, I'm comfortable supporting it. And if I subsequently come to a different or opposite belief based upon new evidence or new suppositions that seem reasonable, I'll support it. Nothing is so earth shattering for me that I can't change my opinion. Certainly we've seen such scenarios in a multitude of post-apocolyptic novels and fantasy novels. But if my sense of meaning depended upon a belief, it might be more difficult to see it wrecked upon the rocks of anyone's criticism.
     
  11. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    I doubt that quite heartily. New scientific ideas that are eventually proved to have some validity are still met with intense scepticism that is best understood as an unwillingness to change knowledge which is believed to be true. Entire generations of scientists who are unable or unwilling to adapt lose their identities, jobs, lives..
     
  12. BrianC

    BrianC bmalone.blogspot.com

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    :) Actually I'm making the opposite assertion. On the big-ticket items, the origin of life, the universe and everything (including god), I'm saying that faith is all that we have precisely because nothing can be proved or disproved. The answer to the question: "does god exist?" is purely a matter of faith regardless of where you come down. If I cannot disprove the existence of god then I also cannot disprove the existence of any particular kind of god. Objectively, all religious beliefs are equally valid on their face.

    If religious knowledge were of the same quality as scientific knowledge, then I would agree with you. But the inescapable fact is that we are ignorant, profoundly ignorant, about the existence and nature of god. All we have is our beliefs, including the belief that there is no god. The rigors of scientific thought is of no use in the realm of religion. It is when some people try to mash religious belief into pseudo-scientific 'proofs', such as with creationism, that the supposedly religious belief becomes open to scrutiny by scientific means. I am not talking about that, however, as being a matter of faith. Creationism, for example, is not a matter of faith; it is a self-imposed blindness in an area where science actually does offer proof. Thus, while the agnostic in me cannot prove that a christian is wrong in believing that god exists, I can prove that a christian is wrong in in believing in creationism. (Whether or not they'd be willing to listen is a different matter. I usually don't bother to try). So, in a roundabout way, my answer to your concern about "religious claims [leading to] the lowest common denominator" is that it depends on whether the particular religious belief is a matter of faith (not subject to proof) or a matter of willful blindness.
     
  13. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    Why God, Brian? Why are we so hung up on the concept of God? We don't worship gravity or chance (though I guess gamblers do), but God?

    The element of willful blindness can't be discounted. We want to believe.

    I understand that we can't prove there is no God anymore than we can prove there is one. But the form in which we've conceived of this God is so outlandish and so anthropomorphic, it's just about absurd. I'd rather believe in elves and wizards.
     
  14. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    Gravity exists. But you can't show it to me; all you can show me are its effects. You don't know even know what it looks like except as a mathematical concept. So, when the safe falls on your toe, you can safely cry: Aha, gravity!
    You believe that the speed of light is a limit that cannot be exceeded yet one of a photon pair reacts instantaneously to the identification of the spin of its twin. Instantaneous trumps the speed of light. Yet, you are content to proceed with the certain knowledge that nothing can exceed the speed of light.
    Life begins, in situ or in vitro, but no one knows why. Life ends but no one knows why. So, we are once again staring at a phenomenon that all we can identify are its effects. Some folk decide to name the cause god and you identify their belief as absurd.
    This judgment business gets very tricky very fast.
     
  15. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    The word 'absurd' was not a judgmental one in this case. It was an evaluative one. We don't attribute human qualities or physical properties to concepts like gravity and time. But God we make in our own image. It's the socialization of God that is absurd strictly in the logical sense. Well, in the sociological sense too. Qualities that pertain to humans and humans alone, compassion, honesty, humility - how is it not absurd to bestow them upon God?
     
  16. BrianC

    BrianC bmalone.blogspot.com

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    Why god? I don't really know, but that never stopped me from speculating. Using a bit of amatuer psychology, I suppose it has something to do with the innate human need for some baseline of certainty in an uncertain, and very dangerous, world. Gravity and chance do not really provide the same psychological comfort as the judeo-christian-muslim concept of god. If you do believe in a god, then one that is anthropomorphic does have certain advantages over one that has the head of an elephant, or that is an impersonal force like gravity or a volcano or a whirlwind. An anthropomorphic god lends humanity the imprimature of divinity. If god looks like us and created us in his image, the it follows that we are special among animals: less than angels, more than beasts. God is perhaps a bit more amenable to a "personal" relationship when he is anthropomorphic.
     
  17. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    I agree, and that's the basis for one of my fundamental disputes with the concept of God in our time. Worse in the past I imagine! But wouldn't you label this concoction absurd? And arrogant! We've made God what WE need.
     
  18. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    From the outside looking in, are not all beliefs absurd? Or, re-phrase that to: the non-believer are not all beliefs absurd? And that is a judgment on the part of the non-believer, which is as chauvinistic as the believer looking at the non-believer.
     
  19. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    Well then HE, everything's absurd. But maybe some things more than others. Can there be degrees of absurdity?
     
  20. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    You got me thinking, HE. I'm starting a new thread and I really hope some of you take your time before you answer the question.