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Ask a Theologian II

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

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  1. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    Who was the most evil theologian ever?
     
  2. cardgame

    cardgame Obsessively Opposed to the Typical

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    I think they should stop cherrypicking.


    Also, http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/interp/jesus_god.html

    So which is it :ack: and do they just ignore those other verses that don't fit in? :hammer2: :ack:
     
  3. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    Plotinus gave his opinion on this already: Reichsbishof Ludwig Müller., the head of the Nazi supported Reichskirche.
     
  4. elenar

    elenar Deadman

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    I find it interesting and sometimes fascinating too. Especially Buddhism (which appears more as science and philosophy than a religion actually, to me).

    Adults generally have fixed point of view that they adopted during life under specific conditions, that suits them most. They hold on it so much that they see it as 'reality' and see it as knowledge of the world. Thy feel so right about it that they can even argue and defend it (even cause wars). So, naturally, they feel in position to educate, and they pass what they know to children. If they were to aknowledge they actually 'know nothing' then they would lost 'control' of children the way they have now, and become open minded which would make them 'equal' to children and require different aproach of education. Adults generally do not let it go, because thought of losing familiar view of the world they constructed is terrifying, and would need re-evaluation of everything they've done during their lifes, which also requires to admit they were wrong in many things (and our ego doesnt like it).

    So, religion in many places takes form of laws, and laws work just like rules you act on, and that works like computer program/script, because it is the rules controling your actions. If scripted to educate children, it is what they do.
     
  5. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I wouldn't agree with this. I think Kant was right to draw the boundaries of human understanding within the realm of experience, on the grounds that the world as we experience it is partly our own creation. That means that the non-phenomenal world is intrinsically and necessarily incomprehensible. Really, when you think about it, it seems extraordinary to suppose that a lump of grey squidgy stuff in our heads, which evolved solely to keep us alive long enough to reproduce effectively, should have any ability to understand how the world really works at all. The amazing thing is that we understand as much as we do, not that there should be anything we don't understand. So while I don't believe in God particularly, I think it is foolish just to assume that there is no aspect to reality which we don't understand or which goes beyond the physical as we comprehend it.

    There is some truth to this but I think it's a big over-simplification. I don't recognise in this description the God of Pseudo-Dionysius or Aquinas or Leibniz. In fact plenty of theists have criticised precisely the conception of God you describe. I think it was Karl Barth who said that if you imagine a being with unlimited power, what you have is not the Christian God but the devil. There is a very important strain in Christian thinking which stresses not the power of God but the powerlessness of God; that is the whole point of faith in Christ crucified. "Cross theology", a trend in Protestant theology which goes back to Luther, takes Christ and his suffering to be the starting point of thinking about God. On this conception, it is not simply that case that, in Christ, God suffered and died - rather, God's primary characteristic is that he suffers and dies. The powerlessness of God is thus more important than his power. This is also why Catholic liberation theologians have argued that God is on the side of the oppressed and the suffering, never on the side of those in power. There has always been a politically subversive side to Christianity which comes from this basic idea.

    I don't think there is any general doctrine or policy of the kind you describe, although I wouldn't be surprised if some particular churches had one. I think that within Christianity at least the discussion of this sort of thing has tended to focus on the issue of infant baptism rather than just Christian education; and arguments about that have tended to be about the nature of baptism (i.e. whether it requires understanding on the part of the subject) rather than about the morality of doing things to children.

    Personally I don't really see much of a problem with it in principle; I don't see why parents shouldn't seek to teach their children the values or beliefs that they hold. On the contrary, it is hard to see how one could consistently hold such a value or belief and not seek to teach it to one's children. Of course it would be wrong to force such beliefs upon them, but then, I'm not sure that it's possible to force beliefs upon anyone anyway. I also think that this is far more defensible than other things that go on, such as the American system of making school children recite oaths to the state. If God exists, then he is a worthy object of oaths and prayers. A government is not.

    It is funny that you should ask about this though, given that just a few days ago I was stopped on the street by some Christians wanting to talk to me about Jesus. This happens quite often and I'm always happy to tell them what I think about Jesus until they get sick of it. The unusual thing this time was that the Christians in question were aged about 13 and 10 or thereabouts, and were entirely on their own. I was pretty shocked by this and am not entirely sure it's even legal. Whatever the morality of evangelising to children, it's hard to see how one can defend using children themselves as evangelists.
     
  6. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    Crap, I already did that one...

    Ummmmm

    Who was the ummm... fattest theologian ever?
     
  7. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    The History Questions Not Worth Their Own Thread thread might be the correct place for this question, but I think I'll get the type of answer I'm looking for in this one.

    Why did the Church allow Europeans to begin engaging in usury?
     
  8. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Probably Thomas Aquinas, who (according to his students) had to have a semi-circle cut out of his desk so that he could reach it.

    Now that I don't know, although I suspect that it was because it was just far too much effort not to. But I will look this up and get back to you (might take a little while as I'm in deepest rural Kent right now and not near a library).
     
  9. holy king

    holy king Chieftain

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    dont they say about thomas of aquin that he wasnt able to leave his tower chamber anymore due to being so fat at the end of his life?
     
  10. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    Yay I stumped Plotinus! I look forward to your answer, and by all means, take your time, I'm in no rush.
     
  11. burleyman

    burleyman Chieftain

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    Maybe this would be a good place to acknowledge the fair and thorough work done by the Inquisition against the Cathars, in Montaillou in particular. Without the pioneering investigations of Jacques Fournier (later Pope Benedict X11) we would know much less about medieval village life. If only later anthropologists had been as thorough, and had had the wit to threaten the peasants with burning and damnation, they might have learned so much more ...
     
  12. elenar

    elenar Deadman

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    What I ment by understanding or realization is rather awareness than logic or comprehension. I didn't say there is no aspect to reality which we don't understand. I said there is nothing we cannot realize (be aware of). Be aware of something we can't describe, as it seems we can't pass anything with words, we can only refer to something someone is already aware of.

    The thing is people tend to imagine god has powers humans desire. Thus, god can grant us what what we desire, so we pray. Otherwise powerless god is useless for human, and there is no difference if he is, or not.
    Powerless aspect of the god is that god has no power to grant us enlightement. That's why we keep suffering. God can only guide us to enlightment. Because of that, anything else god could do (and has power to) is no power at all (say, from god's point of view) because only thing considered 'power', in god's eyes, would be to enligthen us and free us (since it is what god guides us to). And since god has no need for things we desire, ability to grant them is irrevelent to him (it is power in our eyes), especially if we desire something that god sees would put us off the path.
     
  13. Atticus

    Atticus Chieftain Retired Moderator

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    Isn't that kind of trivial or truth by definition? What we call reality is the things we can be aware of.

    If you assume that there is reality that is independent of human existence, then I don't see how you could be sure that we are capable of being aware of ervey aspect of it.
     
  14. elenar

    elenar Deadman

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    That's because your view is from human perspective. You don't know what happeens to you when you die. And if you could somehow transcend what limits you as a human, then maybe you could gain more awareness.
    Personaly I don't believe I am human, which is only concept. I control human body, it's a fact. I get information from it's senses. However simple investigation can reveal it is just partial existence:
    for example, we see with our eyes. Do we really ? Light is movement of phototons. They bounce off the object and get into your eyes. Eyes translate that movement into elctrical impulse which is interpreted by your brain. Brain creates image of that object. What you really see is not that object, but image created by your brain, based on some conditions. Since we know photons bounce off something, then there must be something there. What it is, we really don't know. This itself suggests there is other kind of existence, and the question is how to perceive it.
    That true nature, or 'suchness', is mentioned in buddhism, as far as I know.
     
  15. Atticus

    Atticus Chieftain Retired Moderator

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    I don't quite follow, in previous post you said that we are capable of being aware of every aspect of reality, but this most recent one seems to say the opposite.

    Anyway, I'm not saying that we are capable or we aren't, and I'm not saying that there is different independent reality or that there isn't. I just believe that we can't have knowledge on these issues.

    I think however that it's reasonable to call the world as we perceive it "the reality", and that's how the word is used in everyday language anyway.

    I'm quite sure people thought there must be something there already before they knew about photons... ;)
     
  16. elenar

    elenar Deadman

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    Why is it opposite ?

    It would be more proper if you say you just don't know how to have knowledge on these issues.

    They rather thought there is nothing more than object they see (which is picture from the brain). They attached concept to that picture, thus creating 'reality' (that's what happens nowadays too). In both cases they couldn't perceive the object (except enlightened individuals). Knowledge of the photons gives more scientific approach that leads to conclussions. In the past you would have to take your teacher's word for that.

    Your senses give you knowledge that some object exists. However, with body senses you do not experience the object, instead you experience reaction of the body to the object (which is conditioned by many things). If you lost all your senses how would you know there is something there ? So, without senses you do not perceive object, and with body senses you still do not perceive object (only reaction of senses). So, if you find way to perceive the object, you will be able to 'see' it with, or without body senses. And that leads to different kind of existence, which seems not body dependent.
     
  17. Atticus

    Atticus Chieftain Retired Moderator

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    If I correctly understood you said before that we can be aware every aspect of reality. On another post you said:
    which seems to me support the opposite view.

    I'm not sure are we talking about the same thing here, and that's what I'm trying to find out.

    It isn't the same thing. I have no knowledge whether we can have knowledge, but I have an intuitive hunch that we can't.

    If somebody knows how we can have knowledge on these issues, I'm genuinely happy to listen.

    Well, that's what I belive is impossible. Note that I don't say it is impossible. But I just can't imagine any way to perceive an object without senses.
     
  18. elenar

    elenar Deadman

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    In first post said there is nothing we cannot realize, be aware of.
    In second speculated on way to do it.

    Just like you could not imagine how to see with your eyes if you never experienced it before. Fact that you don't have that ability yet, so unable to imagine, doesn't mean it can't happen (like a man born blind who can see later), and become aware of it.

    Lets say you look at object that looks like rock. You close your eyes. Then the object changes it's geometrical form and looks like tree. You open your eyes, and you see something different, which is tree.
    If you ask yourself what did you see, you will think first it was rock, then it was tree. So it cannot be the same object because rock is different from a tree.
    You think you see something different, but it is actually the same object, just in different geometrical form.
    That means you cannot recognize the object. What you recognize are concepts. What you see, is image in your brain. From different view, it is the object taking forms of concepts.

    So, what you believe that are real, are illusions created in your mind. If you could really perceive the object, then you would still recognize it when it changes geometrical form. However, you never seen it in the first place.

    Lighter example:
    A witch changes into beautiful princess, and tricks prince to marry her. What prince believes in is beautiful princess, which we know is not true. So prince falls in love with image he creates in his mind. If he really could see who that beautiful looking woman is, he would see the witch, and never marry her.
    How can you 'see' the witch if she looks like beautiful princess?
     
  19. nick0515

    nick0515 Fantasy World Builder

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    Trust me there is nothing remotely scientific about Buddhism. It is just as much a reflection of human desires and superstitions as any other religion. There is a strange perception amongst non-Buddhists, especially in the West, that it is not a religion like other religions, but rather a philosophical school of thought. I cannot understand this.

    Sure Buddhism as a philosophical side to it, but so does Christianity and probably many other religions. But the reality is that they also teach mostly irrational religious stuff and that this is what ordinary believers believe in. For example I've recently visited various Buddhist temples in Korea. They generally have various different shrines devoted to different Buddhas (or is Bodhisattva the right word? Or is there a difference? I'm not particularly knowledgeable about Buddhism). The different Buddhas are thought to have power over certain aspects of life such as healing. So if you’re sick you go to one particular Buddha shrine and pray and he will heal you. Not much philosophy or science in that. No different that a Christian praying to Jesus or the Virgin Mother to heal them of some illness.

    Buddhism is just as irrational/mythological as any other religion. They have extremely elaborate mythologies about different levels of heaven, where different incarnations of Buddha rule.

    Another example of how Buddhism is like other religions is that the Buddhist establishment in Imperial Japan totally endorsed Japan's bloody imperialism prior to WWII. They declared the Emperor to be a God (he may have already been considered this, not sure) and proclaimed him to be bringing true Buddhism and enlightenment to all those that Japan conquered. Trust me there was nothing enlightened about what Japan did to the people in conquered. Living in Korea at the moment I'm hearing more and more truly appalling things that the Japanese did to the Koreans. Including, trying to force them to become completely Japanese; they were taught in Japanese about Japanese history in schools. They were trying to eliminate Korean language and cultural identity. In some parts of Korea people were tattooed as a means of identification. I read about a documented case (there is photographs) of a group of Japanese soldiers rounding up pregnant Korean women so that they could stab them in the stomach with their bayonets, just for fun. The Japanese have never apologised for any of this. Ex Korean "Comfort Women" used by the Japanese have been holding a weekly protest outside the Japanese embassy in Korea for many years and the Japanese ignore it.

    Buddhism and its adherents are not scientists or philosophers, they are just like all religious people who use religion to promote and justify their own material desires and actions.

    Sorry that was a bit of a rant.
     
  20. Atticus

    Atticus Chieftain Retired Moderator

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    Ok, then it seems you think I'm saying something else that I am.

    I'm not saying that there can't be any other way to perceive objects than the ones we already have. And therefore I think it's unbased to say that we have the potential of being aware of every aspect of the reality. The blind man-example you give was pretty much what I was thinking to support this view.

    However, I don't think we can perceive objects straight without senses. I don't know that to be true, but it's very hard for me to imagine a way to do it. Here the blind man example isn't as valid anymore, since it's about senses. It only shows that it isn't contradiction to think we could perceive without senses, and that's why I only believe that it isn't possible.

    Now up to here I've been talking about physical world, but there are some things which we can be aware of without senses: numbers, functions, geometry and so on, objects of mathematics. However I'd hesitate to call them part of reality, since they are human creation. (Ok, the thing is more complex than this, but I would at least hesitate).

    To believe we have access to objects independent of our minds without senses, I must think that it's fantasy until given better reason to think otherwise.
     
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