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Ask a Theologian

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Feb 13, 2007.

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  1. DNK

    DNK Member

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    As was defined in the link, which is to say subjective experience/sensation, that which cannot be defined.

    I'm not convinced that contemplating "consciousness" does require this aspect of consciousness. This is because I draw a large question mark across anything relating to consciousness. I have yet to hear any sound explanation as to how physical brain states translate into subjective experience, explanations of said experiences, and cannot think of any myself. I reach a perpetual headache point when I get into it, a logical line that can't seem to ever be crossed. The best I can do is throw my hands up, say, "maybe it's all just an act of faith", and think the entire world is a logical paradox within a paradox, one which human reason is unable to explain. Maybe science will prove me wrong, but I don't even see it in the potential category yet.



    On topic: why is God "He" and not "It"? Just men being men?
     
  2. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    I prefer something along the lines of: the "awareness" of change. Where "awareness" is defined quite broadly and independent of the senses. The cpapability of responding to those changes would be a part of it too.
     
  3. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    I like Chalmers' definition: "The subjective quality of experience"

    The International Dictionary of Psychology has a humorously cynical one:

    "The having of perceptions, thoughts, and feelings; awareness. The term is impossible to define without a grasp of what consciousness means. Many fall into the trap of confusing consciousness with self-consciousness--to be conscious it is only necessary to be aware of the external world. Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomenon: it is impossible to specify what it is, what it does, or why it evolved. Nothing worth reading has ever been written about it."
     
  4. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Yes the second one is quite good.

    Under Chalmer's definition does all life experience consciousness?
     
  5. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    It's difficult to say, though I'd say probably not. Of course, we can never "know" in any sciencey sort of way whether all life experiences consciousness. However, We can (through neuroscience) look at the apparent causal relationship between certain brain structures and the existence of self-reported consciousness. From there, we can make a pretty darn good guess.
     
  6. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    No, that's not entailed by the definition I gave. A living thing is something which (among other things) responds to its environment; but a thermostat does that. It doesn't entail having a centre of subjectivity, being a subject.

    In fact, many people would say that even being an apparently normal human being wouldn't entail having subjectivity and consciousness. One nice idea in contemporary philosophy is the "zombie", which (in a philosophical sense) is defined as a creature which behaves exactly like a normal human being, and has perfectly normal brain activities, but has no awareness, no consciousness, no "self". If you injure a zombie it will cry out, try to escape, look angry, and so on, but it will not actually experience pain. Some philosophers argue that although zombies are presumably impossible as a matter of fact they are possible in principle; we can imagine such a being. And if that's so, then consciousness, qualia, and all those other "mysterious" things are not determined by physical qualities such as brain activites (since, by hypothesis, a zombie has the latter but not the former). Other philosophers accept that zombies are logically possible but deny that such a conclusion follows. Other philosophers deny that zombies are logically possible at all. On that view, if a creature acts like it's conscious, then it is conscious.

    Historically, no doubt, although the male pronoun is used today more as a matter of convention than out of some belief that God is literally male. No doubt there are some utter nutcases who think he is, but I should like to think they're in a significant minority. Of course some feminist theologians try to avoid the male pronoun; the case has even been made for replacing the male "Father", "Son", and "Holy Spirit" with "Mother", "Lover", and "Friend". Other feminist theologians don't go that far but suggest that the Christian notion of God actually redefines masculinity. For example, one can't escape the fact that Jesus was male; but by being humble, self-sacrificing, and loving, he redefined masculinity in those terms.
     
  7. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Getting back to Theology: Have you read or do you otherwise have an opinion on William Alston's Perceiving God? I ask becoucause there's an upper division course on phil. of religion I could take that's centered on it (and various articles about it and/or the stuff it talks about) so if you like it I just might take the class!
     
  8. CCA

    CCA Chieftain

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    Is Communism incompatible with religion?

    Specifically Western Christianity
     
  9. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I haven't read Alston, I'm afraid, although that book looks pretty interesting to me.

    If you mean "communism" in a broad sense then I don't see why it should be incompatible; on the contrary, arguably the most successful communist society was the Thirty Missions in Paraguay, run by the Jesuits. Keir Hardie even called Jesus the first communist. If you mean "communism" in a more narrow Marxist sense, then of course there are more difficulties. But there are materialist forms of western Christianity too, which might fit quite well with it.

    So the short answer is, it depends on what you mean by "communism" and what you mean by "western Christianity". Both are very broad churches, as it were.
     
  10. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    So in your opinion, to think that God is literally male is an incoherent theological view?
     
  11. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Not necessarily incoherent, but surely very odd. After all, what exactly does it mean to say that something is male? As far as I know, it basically means that it produces the mobile gamete, while the female produces the immobile one. In other words, maleness and femaleness are intrinsically linked to reproduction. So to say that God has any gender seems to imply that, at least in principle, he can reproduce, at least if a female God turns up. And that just seems to be getting too weird for words.

    Plus there's the point that if God has a gender then he must have a body, not to mention DNA and the other things you need to reproduce biologically. Now I know that the notion that God has a body was quite popular among some ancient Christians, at least up to the fourth century and perhaps even beyond it; it's been revived by the Mormons today. But personally this doesn't seem to me a very good view of God; at the very least, such a God is not transcendent in any meaningful sense.
     
  12. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Well, saying God has a body need not be the same thing as saying God is a body. And being male in the sense that some humans are isn't necessarily all that being male is.
     
  13. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    "Maleness" and "Femaleness" are only black & white to 'normal' society. Anybody who studies biology easily realises that they're conventions that aren't useful (at all) as absolutes.
     
  14. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Even as a social convention it isn't that useful. Certainly biologically speaking, it is a great deal more complex. But we don't hold God's maleness (such as it is) as His single defining characteristic, nor do we believe that traditionally "male" attributes are divine in a sense that traditional "female" attributes are.
     
  15. MayNilad Man

    MayNilad Man Chieftain

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    How much research has been devoted to the study of Gnostic theology?
    Can you enumerate some of the more internally consistent theologies in the world, if possible?
    What was the justification for the practice of indulgences?
     
  16. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Holy Smokes! Someone else has watched the Almaden series!

    This is what I love about the modern world. A bunch of really smart people put on a presentation for another bunch of smart people who are really interested ... and the rest of us get to watch at our leisure!

    I found the talk by Ramachandran to be awesome. In fact, I think it caused a fundamental shift in my thinking.

    In fact, Plontinus should consider watching it (iirc, it's lecture 6), especially in a discussion regarding Qualia. Ramachandran points out that colour-blind people can experience colours they physically cannot see. I think that's excellent evidence that we have a Fixed Action Pattern to know what colours are, even if we don't have proper eyes.
     
  17. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    With all respect, I don't think that this is the best you can do. There have been so many times that people have quit because something was (to them) unexplainable, and then later had someone else work out the problem.

    Newton did a bunch of physics and then blamed angels for the parts he couldn't figure out. Someone else came along and found the formulas that Newton gave up on.
     
  18. CartesianFart

    CartesianFart Chieftain

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    Just blame it on the biblical writers who pastorally taken other literary traditions of anthropomorphilizing God. :lol: :mischief:
     
  19. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Actually, the LDS doctrine of God as having a physical body is not based on "anthropomorphic" descriptions of Him in the Bible, but other sources.
     
  20. CartesianFart

    CartesianFart Chieftain

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    And what are these other sources since I forgotten that you are a Mormon?:rolleyes:

    Seriously, I thought you were referring to Christianity and not Mormonism which I find it still hard to believe it is in the sense Christian. Anyway, if they didn't take it from the biblical sources, it is still anthropomorphic when you attribute the personification of humanity into Him.


    BTWI find it laughable to see how other people in here failed to see the anthropomorphism picture in biblical narratives and vainly try to answer Eran question without regarding sense.:lol:
     
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