1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Ask a Theologian II

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, May 9, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Messages:
    16,256
    Location:
    Tir ná Lia
    It would be good, actually. Just one good post would be enough, and there's no need to argue with anyone; I won't argue. And I'd appreciate it since I'd like to see what a scholarly view of it is.
     
  2. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,790
    Location:
    Somerset
    Well, to be honest I don't understand what the OP is even asking. Is he asking if a "self" could exist in a different context? Obviously it could - I could have become a road sweeper, in which case my self would exist in a context other than the one it actually does exist in. Is he asking if a "self" could exist in no context at all? That doesn't sound to me like a meaningful question. And the actual discussion in the thread just seems to meander vaguely between arguments about souls and bickering about Nietzsche. My comment about the formal/objective distinction was in reference to the post that JEELEN linked to, and the argument about whether ideas can exist outside space and time. That desperately needs a definition of "idea" since it's obvious that everyone is talking at immense cross-purposes. (Hint: someone look up the type/token distinction.) It reminds me of late seventeenth-century philosophy, which also consisted mainly of people arguing vehemently about "ideas" without ever agreeing on what they were talking about (look up the debates between Malebranche and Arnauld, and Desgabets and Foucher, for example). So in short I don't think there's much value in commenting on a thread where nothing has been defined and no-one seems to agree on what they're talking about. Sorting that out is the OP's job.
     
  3. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Messages:
    16,256
    Location:
    Tir ná Lia
    That's actually what I'm interested in. Oh, well.
     
  4. dwaxe

    dwaxe is not a fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Messages:
    1,506
    Location:
    The Internet
    I totally forgot about this thread when I made this topic:
    http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=327087

     
  5. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    24,093
    Location:
    High above the ice
    Thanks for the reply Plotinus. For as far as it can be cleared up, it did the trick very well.
     
  6. Moss

    Moss CFC Scribe Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    May 1, 2002
    Messages:
    6,584
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Plotinus will have a better response but here are my two cents. First, I wouldn't confuse a youth leader with a theologian, but in any case in regards to your first question, many Christians use the following verse (Romans 1:18-20) to explain their "everyone has the opportunity to know God" stance:

    More moderate Christians; however, have more relaxed views with some not even believing in a Hell at all. The answers you get really just depend on the Christian you ask.
     
  7. dwaxe

    dwaxe is not a fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Messages:
    1,506
    Location:
    The Internet
    Well, this youth leader is getting a degree in theology. :p
     
  8. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,790
    Location:
    Somerset
    I have never heard of such a thing. It certainly sounds wildly unlikely.

    No-one can answer that. Some people would say it is and some not. It really depends on what you mean by "free will". There are some definitions of "free will" according to which it is possible for God to predict (or even to determine) what people do freely. These are called "compatibilist" definitions. There are others, though, according to which it is not possible for God to do that. These are called "incompatibilist" definitions. It sounds like your friend is assuming an incompatibilist definition, according to which, if someone chooses to reject God, that is something over which God has no control. Personally I think that incompatibilism is incoherent. We've discussed this a fair few times on this thread and its predecessor, I'm sure. At the very least, your friend has a lot of work to do to support his claim.

    That sounds an interesting book. I can't imagine what sort of evidence would make that claim probable.
     
  9. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2006
    Messages:
    16,052
    Location:
    In orbit
    I've taken the liberty of quoting you on named strange thread. (Just thought I'd let you know, as a courtesy.)
     
  10. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,790
    Location:
    Somerset
    That's fine - the more people quote me the better!
     
  11. Danielos

    Danielos Chieftain

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Messages:
    1,034
    Has archeological and historical research ever found any evidence that the stories from the Genesis has any truth in them? What do you think about the many similiarities with Genesis and creation myths from Babylonian and Sumerian culture, for example the flood myth of Utnapishtim?
     
  12. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2004
    Messages:
    23,090
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    The Sunshine and Lettuce Capital of the World
    Well, I am pretty sure that evidence has proven that the earth didn't use to exist and now exists, so that's one thing at least . . .
     
  13. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,790
    Location:
    Somerset
    I don't think there's much evidence either way for the stories in Genesis. Obviously there's nothing that can be identified as (for example) the Tower of Babel or any of that sort of thing. Abraham and his family seem rather more plausible figures from a historical point of view, but it's hard to see what kind of archaeological evidence there could be for him or indeed any of the patriarchs. There's certainly doubt over whether Abraham existed, for example.

    You might be on firmer ground with the later history of the Hebrews as described in the Old Testament, such as the time of David and the other early kings. I believe there is a bit of archaeological evidence supporting the claim that David existed (not much, but then he wouldn't exactly have been a major international figure), and there isn't particular reason to doubt the general course of history as described in the books of Kings and the major prophets. The problem is that there isn't really much other evidence either way.

    I suppose it just indicates that these myths were pretty widespread in that region at that time. I'm not sure what else it might mean. Of course these similarities were very big news when they were discovered in the nineteenth century, especially the account of the flood in Gilgamesh, because it showed that the biblical stories were of the same kind as non-biblical myths. Of course this seems obvious to us now, but then people still assumed that they were different genres, that the Bible just somehow couldn't be analysed in the same way as pagan myths. Biblical scholars had already worked this out in the late eighteenth century but the idea took a long time to percolate through - as these things always do. The realisation that exactly the same myths appear in the Bible and in other sources helped people to realise that perhaps the Bible and other sources were the same genre of writing and might be analysed in the same sort of way.
     
  14. Loppan Torkel

    Loppan Torkel Chieftain

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2004
    Messages:
    4,756
    Is it possible for you as a theologian to separate your analysis of the religion from your beliefs?
     
  15. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,790
    Location:
    Somerset
    As a theologian, yes, because a theologian is just a sort of historian. All you do is study what people believed and why. That requires empathy but not commitment to anything.

    As a philosopher of religion, though, no, because there you're actually evaluating the beliefs rationally.
     
  16. Loppan Torkel

    Loppan Torkel Chieftain

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2004
    Messages:
    4,756
    A beliefs rationality.. Isn't Christianity at odds with rationality and science at its core in some sense, and require a level of absurdness to make it faith?

    About separating your theological/historical analysis from what you believe – You, more or less, wrote that it seemed unlikely that ”Christianity” would form spontaneously. Although, from a philosophical standpoint such occurrence wouldn't be unlikely, right?! Do you see past such historical or scientific ”likelyhoods”, or does your philosophical views adapt to fit your scientific knowledge when it comes to your personal beliefs?

    I'm not sure if that makes enough sense, but I'd be happy for any answer.
     
  17. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,790
    Location:
    Somerset
    No, I don't think so. I don't think that Christianity is true but that doesn't make it irrational or absurd. Of course there are plenty of people who believe it irrationally, but I think that's got more to do with their nature than with the nature of what it is they're believing. And of course there are forms of Christianity that are irrational or absurd, but not all of them. I don't think that a religion that has boasted some of the finest minds in history among its defenders can be intrinsically irrational or absurd.

    I didn't say that the task of philosophy of religion is to evaluate the belief's rationality though, I said that it is to evaluate the belief rationally, which is wider and doesn't presuppose that the belief itself is rational. Although your misreading is interesting since one of the tasks of philosophy of religion (especially in the last twenty years or so) has been to assess whether it is, or can be, rational to believe the claims of religion, and what it means for a belief (of any kind) to be rational in the first place.

    I'm not sure what you mean. I said that it seems unlikely that Christian beliefs could emerge independently of any influence from Christian tradition. For example, it seems unlikely that a society that had never had any contact with Christianity should believe that their sins are forgiven through the death on a cross of a man who was also God. The more specific a particular idea, the less likely it is to find it arising independently in different societies. That seems a reasonable view. So I don't know why you say it wouldn't be unlikely "from a philosophical standpoint". What do you mean by that?

    I'm not sure it makes sense either but I'm happy to try to give an answer if you say more about what you mean! Of course a person's philosophical views do (or should) adapt to fit scientific knowledge. Philosophy and science are really the same thing - science is just philosophy done using certain methods that work in certain spheres, while what we call "philosophy" today is philosophy done in other spheres where strictly scientific methods don't work for one reason or another. So it would surely be irrational to have philosophical views that clash with science (unless of course one had philosophical reasons for mistrusting the claims of science, but those would have to be pretty impressive reasons).
     
  18. Loppan Torkel

    Loppan Torkel Chieftain

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2004
    Messages:
    4,756
    I didn't mean to criticize Christianity or Christians, but I think this religion partly is built on faith, and what is faith with complete knowledge?
    I meant that from a scientific and historical viewpoint, it would be highly unlikely that an identical idea would arise in another place, as stated, but from a philosophical standpoint the idea could be revealed through a prophet or a dream, which wouldn't be strange by Biblical measurements. The chance for the latter to happen can't be estimated, and until eventual further facts are discovered, you either believe it or not.
    But when it comes to historical facts, there are no full proof answers. You interpret the facts and assume what seems reasonable from a scientific perspective. The religious scripts may say something different, something more unlikely or entirely, scientifically impossible.
    I guess what I wondered was whether you have some sort of overarching philosophical conviction that you still hold, despite any seemingly contradicting evidence that you've come across in your theological/historical studies. Something that could be taken for religious beliefs or faith.
     
  19. Moss

    Moss CFC Scribe Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    May 1, 2002
    Messages:
    6,584
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Something can be a rational thought without there being complete knowledge of it. The atom was long theorized (rationally) before we had complete knowledge of it. Also, something can be rational and wrong as well. You can rationally look at the evidence and make an assumption and be found to be wrong when more evidence comes to light.
     
  20. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2006
    Messages:
    16,052
    Location:
    In orbit
    A good question.

    Reminds me of the credo quia absurdum; it's "circumstantial evidence" at best. What makes the finest minds in history experts on religion? You think Christianity isn't true, but some of the finest minds in history do. So either some of the finest minds in history are right or you are right (or both). Paradoxical, isn't it? But how does it follow that because some of the finest minds in history believe Christianity is true, that it is not irrational or absurd - intrinsically or otherwise? (Some of the inanest minds in history believe Christianity is true as well, which then puts them in excellent company.)

    I think I might quote you here (or there) once again.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page