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Arts and Culture

Zachary Karabell on Mark Lilla’s ‘The Stillborn God’

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Posted on Dec 20, 2007
book cover

By Zachary Karabell

One of the bedrock assumptions of our society is that we have, after centuries of struggle, finally achieved an enviable balance that allows individuals to have their own religious beliefs but does not permit religion to dictate public life and thereby enflame passions and generate deadly conflict. That balance was hardly easy to create, and only after many years of two steps forward and one step back did we in the West finally—supposedly—arrive at the right formula. But arrive we did, says Mark Lilla in “The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics and the Modern West,” his provocative, passionate essay on what he calls “the Great Separation.”

With the rise of a virulent strain of radical fundamentalism in the Muslim world, that separation is being assailed, and we seem bewildered that anyone could argue against it. Lilla, however, contends that it is not the fundamentalists—Muslim, Christian and Jewish —who are seeing the world askew; it is Western culture and its defenders. “We must remind ourselves,” he writes, “that we are living in an experiment, that we are the exceptions. We have little reason to expect other civilizations to follow our unusual path, which was opened up by a unique theological-political crisis within Christendom.” In short, Lilla believes that we> have gotten one thing utterly wrong: We are not us. We are them. We are not the rule; we are the exception.

 

book cover

 

The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West

 

By Mark Lilla

 

Knopf, 352 pages

 

Buy the book

 


The rule for Lilla is a blurring of the political and theological that has defined most societies from time immemorial and Western society for most of recorded history until only recently. Since the dawn of Christianity, there has been a deep confusion in Western society about what constitutes a good society, and Lilla astutely highlights what he sees as the limitations of the New Testament in not “articulating a clear, coherent picture of the good Christian political order.” Although full of moral guidance, the New Testament is indeed vague about how society should be structured, perhaps because most of those who penned its text believed that the end of days was near and hence that it would be a waste of time thinking too much about how to construct an ideal political society in this world. The result, however, was endless war and tension between different groups in what became Europe.

Lilla is a historian of ideas, and his book is primarily an intellectual history of the thinkers who confronted the problem of never-ending wars of theology and who sought a solution and an escape. Lilla’s hero in this endeavor is Thomas Hobbes, the 17th-century English philosopher who looked at the wreckage caused by theological conflict and offered a radical solution: structure society around man’s nature, not on God’s. And that nature isn’t pretty. For Hobbes, “the reason human beings in war commit acts no animal would commit is, paradoxically, because they believe in God. Animals fight only to eat or reproduce; men fight to get into heaven.” Because humans need someone to follow absolutely, Hobbes suggested that they follow not God, whose will is mysterious when applied to politics, but rather an absolute ruler, “an earthly God.”

From Hobbes, Lilla then charts the intellectual peregrinations of thinkers as varied as Rousseau, Kant, Hegel and Karl Barth. Some are more familiar than others, but the book as a whole is a sophisticated series of essays on the way these thinkers slowly erected a wall between theology and politics and inexorably built the foundations for a society predicated not on God’s will but on human action and human thought.

As with any endeavor of this kind, it is easy to quibble with Lilla’s interpretations and his selective readings. But that is less an issue with what Lilla has done and how he has done it than with intellectual history itself. By nature, it imposes a coherence and sense of orderly progression on intellectual thought— even when acknowledging just how messy the evolution of ideas can be. Because Lilla is looking for the roots of the Great Separation, he naturally finds them, at the expense of clearing away not just weeds but roots of other ideas that are not the subject of his inquiry. Still, that comes with the territory, and while it would have strengthened his case to have acknowledged that his question—and not some bright, shining self-evident historical progression of ideas—determined what he does and does not pay attention to, he succeeds in excavating the path that led to what we now blithely call the separation of church and state.

Lilla is by no means a romantic about that separation. He understands how hard it was to achieve, and how unsatisfying it can be and continues to be even to this day. Like democracy, it was never a great solution, only better than the alternatives.

Where Lilla does fall short, however, is in the very presumption that there was a Great Separation, or that it is alien to all but the modern West. It is without a doubt true that Western Europe today is a series of societies defined less and less by Christianity. However, the same cannot be said of the United States. While Americans don’t fight wars of religion with one other, it is a stretch to say that there has been a Great Separation in the United States or that God is stillborn in contemporary American life. Fighting to be heard, perhaps, but stillborn? It is also wrong to generalize these issues to humanity. Chinese culture has a powerful stream of Confucian thought which is in essence God-less. China hasn’t had a Great Separation because it never had to grapple with an immanent God, a transcendent God, or any God. And India?  Let’s not get started on India, with its one God, its one Gods, its many Gods, no Gods, pantheon of Gods, and castes, and Vedas and Upanishads and just about anything and everything that has been anywhere and everywhere.

Lilla concludes by saying that “ours is a difficult heritage ...because it demands self-awareness” rather than revelation, because in recognizing the perils of messianic religion, we are left to our devices and those are rarely satisfying. There is something troubling about that sentiment, and self-satisfied. Lilla is saying that our path—or rather the path he says we took—is hard, but it is a good hard and a better hard, and, it is strongly implied, a more evolved hard. That would be news to the Chinese, to the Indians, and to billions outside the West who have engaged in equally human struggles in vastly different ways, who don’t know from Hobbes and couldn’t spell Kant. It would also be news to preachers all across America who everyday lament the separation of church and state and are looking for ways to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

And as for those whom Lilla does not name but whom he nonetheless points a j’accuse-like finger at—the children of Osama bin Laden—they do challenge many of our notions as well as those of a billion Muslims who live the great separation more than most in the West recognize. To imply that those children of Bin Laden define the universe of billions of them and that Hobbes and his thought define us is to force far too many square pegs into one very small round hole. Lilla has done a fine job of highlighting and explicating some of the great thinkers of Western civ and exploring how they grappled with some vexing problems. But his reading of who we are is strangely simplistic, and his view of them, of those who have supposedly not made the journey to the other shore, is ultimately confined to a very small them in a wide world that is far more sophisticated and wonderfully more complicated than these essays suggest.

Zachary Karabell is the author of several books, including, most recently, “Peace Be Upon You: Fourteen Centuries of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence in the Middle East,” published by Alfred A. Knopf.


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By John Hanks, January 28, 2008 at 9:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I accept religions as a sort of historic rap sheet and a contemporary literary heritage.  There are some wise things in all the traditions, but fundamentalists miss them entirely.  Jesus hated phonies and blockheads, but is there a single fundamentalist preacher who says that?  Abraham Lincoln was informed and he relished the rich texture of the Bible.  He was all the better for that, while the heathens in the South missed the point.
I guess what I’m saying is that it is pointless to throw the good out with the bad.  However, contemporary religion is so stupid and miserable that sometimes I think we should just chuck all of it.

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By tigger, January 28, 2008 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment

Sorry but the 2 just don’t fit together at all.  Everyones interpretation of the bible is different. So someone is always persecuted whether it be by race, or gender.  So be a politician if you want but leave the relegion at home!

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By hetzer, January 8, 2008 at 9:26 pm Link to this comment

Every three months, we went on cooperative jobs, many in New York (not me).  One student was really wacked on the head in a New York demonstration and he advised me not to go to Chicago in 68.

The seance comment was really just a metaphor.  Sitting around and smoking dope and listening to Dylan and the Beetles as if they were Gurus never made any sense.

The first day I arrive in Antioch, I went to a TV room and heard students cheering the fact that an American destroyer had been cut in half by a carrier in the Pacific.  I knew how they felt, but I also knew that I could have easily been one of those drowned sailors.  When I spoke up, they were surprised to learn that there was a veteran in their midst.  I wasn’t angry so much as disappointed.

Part of the problem was that I was there because of a desperate desire to enjoy intellectual life.  Most of them were there for more artistic or draft evading reasons.  I scored the highest on an intellectual aptitude test, which shows that I was more bookish and three years older.

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By Maani, January 8, 2008 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

Hetzer:

“The vast majority of college students at that time were politically aware (sort of), but much more interested in comsumerism, including drugs.  Basically I looked at most of them as spoiled ignorant people attending endless seances.”

LOL.  By the way, seances are “new age,” not drug-related.  LOL.

Still, I hear you.  From your perspective at that time, and particularly where you were at the time, I suppose it must have looked quite different.  I was in NYC, and mostly saw what was happening in urban areas.

Just goes to show you how little changes,even over decades: rural America and urban America were not really on the same page then, and they still aren’t 35-40 years later.

Peace.

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By hetzer, January 8, 2008 at 7:20 pm Link to this comment

After I left the Navy and stopped wasting the taxpayers money I went to Antioch College to avoid the regimentation of a state institution.  The vast majority of college students at that time were politically aware (sort of), but much more interested in comsumerism, including drugs.  Basically I looked at most of them as spoiled ignorant people attending endless seances.

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By jbello, January 8, 2008 at 8:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have recently read “Hizbollah: The Story From Within” by Naim Qassem and Fred Halliday.  Their discussion of why a religious government is an acceptable solution, and why they think it is the right way to go is very interesting.  They reflect in some depth on a subject we could all afford to ponder for a bit, which is the difference between basing one’s social structure on sectarianism and basing it on a set of values that implies integrity and respect for all members of the society.  They talk about having a kind of faith that allows one to accept others’ opinions with respect, and to understand that others may have strongly felt values based on their faith, which may be different than your own, but which must be honored all the same. 

Their basic point is that integrity and security in one’s own viewpoint create an environment where open mindedness is possible.  On the other hand, the creation of a new category, ‘secular’, which enforces a sectarian mindset rather than honoring an open exchange of ideas is counterproductive and merely transforms the problem rather than alleviating it.

I am not advocating for their ideas one way or the other, but I think they are creative and interesting.

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By Maani, January 7, 2008 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

Hetzer:

“I think this is true, since it came from a book.”  How old are you?  And what kind of statement is that?

“A” book?  So how many books on the subject have you actually read?  And are you old enough to have been there?  My guess is, no.

I was.  I was part of that culture.  And I can tell you with absolute certainty that the OPPOSITE is true: i.e., if anything, those of us in the “drug culture” were MORE political than many who were not.

Indeed, even setting aside the ENTIRE youth culture’s disdain for the country’s politics at the time - Vietnam, Johnson, Nixon, etc. - we had an additional reason to be political: to work toward the decriminalization (if not legalization) of marijuana (if not other drugs).

To suggest that drugs somehow made us soporific or apathetic is COMPLETELY backward.  We were probably the most political youth culture in the history of the nation: we fought - actively, vocally and visibly - for civil rights, for the end of the Vietnam war, for an end to the arms race, for the environment (sprurred on by liberal Democrat Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who created “Earth Day” in 1970), and for peace and justice, among other general issues.  We were the first youth culture weaned on King’s non-violent civil disobedience approach, and many of us were arrested numerous times in this regard.

You REALLY need to read more.

Peace.

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By optipessi mist, January 7, 2008 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

Zachary uses several great - first impression - but well worn metaphors to point out that Mr. Mark Lilla’s essays argue for or against the separation of church and state from a limited perspective. He could have written succinctly by quoting Shakespeare,

Hamlet:
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in and Heaven and Earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet Act I, scene 5, 159-167

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By hetzer, January 7, 2008 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

The CIA and Timothy Leary created the drug culture knowing that the average American was a sucker for any quick fix consumer item.  Why did they do it?  Because American youth seemed to be getting political.  (I think this is true, since it came from a book, and it makes sense given the crooked nature of the bums who think they run this country.)

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By Maani, January 6, 2008 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment

Blackolive:

I am guessing that some (maybe many) here will wonder what you are rambling on about.  However, even while I may not agree with ALL of what you said, I TOTALLY hear you, brother, and definitely understand the feelings and thoughts behind it.

First, while, sadly, there is no more honest-to-Owlsley 25-d-lysergic acid diethylamide around (anyone claiming so is lying; most of what is out there is horrible, even dangerous), I completely agree re the “interconnectedness” it provides - a critical element in understanding and FEELING the entire “psycho-spiritual” and physical world.

Second, I agree re 9/11: the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people - perhaps even the world.  And everything that has occurred since - in the so-called “post 9/11 world” - is based on a lie, a false flag operation in which Bush & Co. were almost certainly complicit in the murder of 3,000 of our own citizens.

Although some of this is off-topic, I wanted to make sure that someone here acknowledged your presence, and provided some support.

Peace.

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By hetzer, January 6, 2008 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

I have had near death experiences and they were basically a form of psychosis.  It is just impossible for people to accept the existence of death as silence.  Why do people always invent some nonsense?  If you do invent some nonsense, be sure to sell it and get some money out of it.

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By Bill Blackolive, January 6, 2008 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ah, tis interesting all this talk and that a decade or less ago if one believed in Adam and Eve one could also believe evolution. Hundreds of thousands of years humans outside the city state recognized the interconnectedness of all there be in eternity.  Inside the city state, nature got forgot enough, thanks to priests/military/rulers, something had to be done to keep the little fuckers working, building walls to seperate the city from the savages.
Later, we had the psychedelic revolution, which effects are officially ignored, but which set hippies and ilk to recalling the interconnectedness.  Aboriginies on Earth all know this called “time” is but that diagrammed by humans from physical matter jumping about.  We can wreck the atmosphere of Earth, we would have no arguments then.  But maybe we have some cause to be here.  If we are going to be on Earth, we best jump onto this 9/ll coverup.  I think the ambitious literates above ought to get back to dropping a bunch of acid, I mean mucho acid, forget where they were yesterday, forget their names, just see what we have.  Do this away from other people - take a good dog along maybe - but get a sense of how important for our physical survival - if physical survival/schooling-of-emotion is what one thinks one needs.  If we keep pretending the official physics in say 9/l1 is real, if we keep pretending the official excuses for these constipated and twisted old farts running things has importance, we will physically die and many of us, many of our children, will not die quickly but will die badly, physically, which influences personality of course, not to influence soul but to torment a physical existance gives soul this baggage, need to resolve pain. Well, if this builds character, if this is which the babblers desire, but I fail to see why anynone ought to experience schizoprenis, this Naked King Shit.

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By Maani, January 3, 2008 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

Ted:

Sorry to see you go.  Just want to say that I agree with you re the attributes of God.  In this case, even human logic suffices.  If God exists, and created humankind (whether through the process of evolution or through “special creation”), then He would have to have EVERY attribute that a human being has (and perhaps others).  That is, God could not create a being that feels pain if God does not know what it is like to feel pain.  God could not create a being with a sense of humor if God did not have a sense of humor.  (And, as the adage goes, He would HAVE to have a sense of humor to have created humankind…)

So it does not strike me (personally) as odd that God could “suffer” (in the personhood of Jesus) or that He could laugh (and cry).

Best of luck on your research.

Doug:

Boy, are you speaking my language now!  LOL.  Your last two posts were exceptional; i.e., the one on religion/science, and the response to Hetzer on death.  Indeed, I was going to respond to Hetzer in much the same way.  Instead, I will simply say - ditto.

Peace.

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 3, 2008 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

so we leave a little wiggle room.

By hetzer, January 3: ”...with death the instrument comes to an end.  It is not absolute in any honorific sense…. Still we can’t be absolutely sure of anything for which there is no reliable evidence…..

It is conceivable that evidence might emerge to call genetics and evolution into question ....a bronze age text edited by priests is extremely unlikely to be able to add anything to the discussion…”

You really don’t know enough about death to be able to reasonably believe that (there) is no reincarnation or life after death,  hetzer. Try some near-death experience yourself and find out - it is guaranteed to change your life.

Try looking even at the faces of people in the street and ask whether genetics alone can account for the differences in spiritual and emotional advancement and so much more. The fact is that science has never bothered to find out, uhh.

But your pathetic triviality regarding science becomes obvious when even Robert “I have no regrets” Oppenheimer, the so-called father of the A-bomb quoted from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita - in full knowledge of its ramifications http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8w3Y-dskeg&feature=related

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By hetzer, January 3, 2008 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Death is absolute because with death the instrument comes to an end.  It is not absolute in any honorific sense.  We know enough about death to be able to reasonably believe that this is no reincarnation or life after death.  Still we can’t be absolutely sure of anything for which there is no reliable evidence.

Science believed in absolute laws because it was fashionable to hold beliefs as if they were absolute.  We now know that surprises are always possible so we leave a little wiggle room.  It is conceivable that evidence might emerge to call genetics and evolution into question.  Science is supposed to refine itself.  We can be almost absolutely certain that a bronze age text edited by priests is extremely unlikely to be able to add anything to the discussion.  Science is capable of correction.  Old time religion just keeps piling more and more stuff on.

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By Ted Swart, January 3, 2008 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

Maani, Shenonymous et al
I am afraid I must now bail out since I have some important research to present—at the end of January—and I just don’t have the spare time. 
Let me just say that I feel uncomfortable when Maani and She…. cast aspersions on each other.
I have read many of the current Edge discussion contributions and I think one of the best is the one by Sam Harris. As for Davis I think he has overstated his case. All this talk about science and religion both involving faith is a bit of a stretch. Scott Atran has a very interesting piece on the significance of friendship.
Maani, She—I am not sure which (maybe both)—have spoken about he importance/value of humour. And I must say that most days my wife and I have a throughly good laugh together about something or other.
Years ago I spent a lively an interesting evening at Selly Oak college with an ardent young Muslim talking about the attributes of God and he trotted out the usual list of omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence and magnificence etc. A very transcendent concept of a largely unreachable God.  The notion of God being able to suffer simply appalled him.  And I suspect—though we did not discuss it—that the notion of God having a sense of humour would have been equally ridiculous to him.  But, to an agnostic like myself, when I idly think about the attributes God would need to have (if he/she/it does exist) a sense of humour comes out right on top.  There is no way God could possibly survive without a wry sense of humour.
With that closing remark I wish you all a rewarding and meaningful New Year

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By Shenonymous, January 3, 2008 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

You males in the TD audience ought to not only look at Paul Davies, but Richard Dawkins change of mind about Zahavi’s theory of the Handicap Principle, which is quite compelling in what amounts to, “Natural selection favours conspicuous and costly generosity,” but Dawkins ends with a wise caution.

Davies comment about used to being a committed Platonist has to do with Plato’s theory of ideal forms, not any ethical or aesthetic arguments, and one should make that distinction when prostituting other’s comments.  I completely agree with Davies and glad that a physicist of such renown has made such a comment which seems to support my thesis of the contingency of facts.

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 3, 2008 at 6:45 am Link to this comment

There are always arguments over the most commonly held facts…..

By Shenonymous, January 2: ”...facts, even the most soundly based are humorously, in fact, not in the final analysis ascertainable….. and particularly as .... my “knowledge” isn’t worth very much because nothing is for certain…..

...even the bearing on a compass, or a ship assumes everything else is as it should be all other things being equal.  When assumptions are relied upon, there is the danger of error, no matter how slight…”

Edge, a web forum that puts an annual question to a broad cross-section of scientists and thinkers must be the most pretentious blog on the planet - or is it? This year Edge.org asked: What have you changed your mind about? Why?.

Paul Davies, Arizona State University, says he gave up his Platonism once he realised that his long-revered laws of physics were “an extraordinary and unjustified idealisation”.

So lets consider a physicist’s contemporary view of the +/-10% certainty of so-called science -  http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/davies.html ....:-


How can we be sure that the laws are infinitely precise? How do we know they are immutable, and apply without the slightest change from the beginning to the end of time? Furthermore, the laws themselves remain unexplained. Where do they come from? Why do they have the form that they do? Indeed, why do they exist at all? And if there are many possible such laws, then, as Stephen Hawking has expressed it, what is it that “breathes fire” into a particular set of laws and makes a universe for them to govern?

So I did a U turn and embraced the notion of laws as emergent with the universe rather than stamped on it from without like a maker’s mark…..

The orthodox view of perfect physical laws is a thinly-veiled vestige of monothesim, the reigning world view that prevailed at the birth of modern science. If we want to explain the laws, however, we have to abandon the theological legacy that the laws are fixed and absolute, and replace them with the notion that the states of the world and the laws that link them form a dynamic interdependent unity.

.....simply saying that the laws “just are” seems no better than declaring “God made them that way.” http://www.edge.org/q2008/q08_8.html#davies

In science, a healthy skepticism is a professional necessity, whereas in religion, having belief without evidence is regarded as a virtue.

The problem with this neat separation into “non-overlapping magisteria,” as Stephen Jay Gould described science and religion, is that science has its own faith-based belief system…..

A God’s-eye view might reveal a vast patchwork quilt of universes, each with its own distinctive set of bylaws. In this “multiverse,” life will arise only in those patches with bio-friendly bylaws, so it is no surprise that we find ourselves in a Goldilocks universe — one that is just right for life. We have selected it by our very existence.

The multiverse theory is increasingly popular, but it doesn’t so much explain the laws of physics as dodge the whole issue…..

Clearly, then, both religion and science are founded on faith — namely, on belief in the existence of something outside the universe, like an unexplained God or an unexplained set of physical laws, maybe even a huge ensemble of unseen universes, too. For that reason, both monotheistic religion and orthodox science fail to provide a complete account of physical existence….. http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/davies07/davies07_index.html

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By Shenonymous, January 2, 2008 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment

Except hetzer, even the bearing on a compass, or a ship assumes everything else is as it should be all other things being equal.  When assumptions are relied upon, there is the danger of error, no matter how slight.  For instance, an error of a tten-housandth or even smaller degree on a trajectory to say, Mars, would have the vessel miss the target by forever.  A correction must be monitored constantly and space scanned for any unexpected phenomenon.  And when you say, “almost” you hedge your bet and the notion of absolute is completely nullified.  So, you then think that facts are in flux, and utilitarian for whatever “time” it is needed?  Then what becomes of the fact, would you please inform Ted who wants to know?  And what do we do with the term ‘dying?’

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By Ted Swart, January 2, 2008 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment

Glad that you have enjoyed our interaction.  When you say:

< I do claim, not merely seem to claim, that facts, even the most soundly based are humorously, in fact, not in the final analysis ascertainable.>

I am tempted to respond:  Is that a fact or a supposition?

Jokes aside, yoru sentence reminds me of a sentence I read in Stven Pinker’s latest book called “The Stuff of Thought”. It contains this magnificent sentence—from a sign of some kind:
“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant”. 

Have read Hofstader’s books and found them intriguing.

Have a good day.

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By Ted Swart, January 2, 2008 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment

<  Part 3
Ted:  Sure.  Reality is ultimately inscrutable (that word again) but “poeticizing”—as you call it—does nothing for me to make it less inscrutable. What are we supposed to do.  Revel in the inscrutability or try or damnedest to make sense of things?  She’s reply:  It is obvious I am not asking you or anyone to ‘revel’ in anything, it is a silly comment.  And yes, you and all others should do their damndest to make sense of the world in which they find themselves.  That is the whole point of questioning.  If I may, remind you of the virtue of the Socratic imperative to Know Thyself.  That is the first thing one must do.>

Hoorah!  It seems we do agree on some things.

< You may not have the skill to ‘see’ into the emblematic or symbolic quality of poetizing ideas.  But it is not something that cannot be learned.  It requires enhancing the imagination.>

My wife outdistances me by a million miles when it comes to understanding and appreciating poetry. But I am not convinced that I have an imagination deficit.
When I do have poems explained to me they often seem pretentious or simply a round about way of saying something rather simple. You imply that Pirandello has real talent in presenting profound truths but, despite your attempts to help, I remain mostly in the dark. So, I imagine I should follow your suggestion and “not even try”.
You suggest that Pirandello’s art “is lost” on me which leaves me vaguely uneasy and wondering if I have missed something important. Sorry if I am a poor pupil.

. . Ted . .

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By Shenonymous, January 2, 2008 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

Hiya Mike, nope, I’m in the mindless state of north Texass.  And any friend of yours is friend of mine.  Do check your TD emails, I’ll be there one of these ‘unbusy’ days.  I’m working on making a fantastic painting/drawing studio upstairs but it’s bitch for a smallish medium sized non-vampiric lady.  Talk to you soon. Be well.

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By Shenonymous, January 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

Ted, you are correct as far as I know, but my “knowledge” isn’t worth very much because nothing is for certain.*  I can’t say I really “know” anything, but somehow when I put my feet down off the bed in the morning, I have a funny hunch the floor is there.  I secretly take a wager based on previous experience.  But if it isn’t, boy am I in trouble.  Now epistemologically, I can’t say for sure it will be there tomorrow, or even worse, it will be there the very next moment I check.  That is a kind of faith, but not the kind for which the FC’s or the radical Islamists would most likely hang me, or cut off my head, since I can’t bring myself to believe their dogma, and particularly as female wouldn’t be caught dead talking or sitting in their places of solicitation of a mythical being.  And what a hunch is I cannot say either, as I have little or no knowledge.  And when someone asks me whaddo I know?  I have to always answer, hmmm, that’s a good question.  But I think I know this Ted, you are one smart hombre and I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate your questions.  And you seem to answer them as you ask them.  Funny how that works.  It works for me. 
*This is Pirandello’s point.

To backtrack a bit.  And maybe offering to you my perspective of the existentialistic absurdity of finding myself and all others, including you, here, in this life and it can be thought of as a kind of despair, except I do not despair, I accept it as the Ho Tai of Buddhism does and laugh at it.  Which is why I so appreciate the playwrights Pirandello and Beckett.  And I make light of many grave matters.  I always feel I walk with Ho Tai.  It is not so bad a walk.  I do claim, not merely seem to claim, that facts, even the most soundly based are humorously, in fact, not in the final analysis ascertainable.  There are always arguments over the most commonly held facts.  Even that it is always true that having the main meal of the day in the evening is prone to cause [and will cause] disturbed sleep,  Carl Sagan knew this, Richard Feynman knew this, Albert knew this, all most venerable scientists.  There is a wonderful book by Douglas Hofstadter, The Mind’s Eye, that offers a plethora of essays by many many scientists that offer similar views.  Also, one I find most insightful, Jorge Borges, outstanding Argentinean writer writes about these notions as well. 

I can only say I have had marvelous dialogue here with you and hope to some maybe strange degree you have too.  As a friend of mine would say, we are probably closer together in our thought than on first glance it might look.  And I am not really a vampire…or, maybe I am.  Only MM-C would know for sure.

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By hetzer, January 2, 2008 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment

There is nothing except our deaths that are not a matter of wonder and degree.  A fact is what settles the argument (for a time).  Something is true in so far as it is like a true bearing on a compass or a ship.  Nothing is absolute - almost nothing.

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By Ted Swart, January 2, 2008 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

There doen’t seem to be much new in this Part 2.
You say:
< Social, economic, and political circumstance often offset scientific facts, regardless of how strongly they are defended, so ordinary people who must conduct their lives don’t really know what might be “close” to the truth, which is all the distance they will ever get anyway. >

The obvious response is:  More’s the pity! It is an absolute tragedy that science education in America is so badly handled that huge numbers of citizens don’t even know the bare rudiments of the scientific method.
Huge numbers of fundamentalist Christians (ditto for most Muslims) don’t know the difference between the factual occurrence of evolution and theories about evolution.
Copernicus and Galileo knew that the earth rotates (for night and day) and revolves around the sun (for the four seasons).
But this was before Newton’s and Einstein’s theories of gravity. So, the evolution rejectors talk blandly about THE theory of evolution as if there is such a thing. Darwin uncovered a mountain of evidence establishing the occurrence of evolution and made tentative an incomplete attempts to explain it. And we still don’t have a fully rounded out theory of evolution but the absence of such a theory in no way casts doubt on its occurrence.

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By Shenonymous, January 2, 2008 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

Hey Mike, whaddaya know? And if you know it, how do you know it?

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By Ted Swart, January 2, 2008 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

Yes.  I am still here. And below is an extract from your Part! followed by a further comments.

< A dialogue in three parts – Part 1
She:  First nail:  Do you think there are irrefutable key elements or objective facts that can be correlated with judgment and behavior?  Ted:  Yes indeed I do.  I base my behaviour and judgments time and time again on indisputable facts.  I do this over an over again in my daily life in precisely this manner. (and I am not a robot!)

She’s reply:  What exact indubitable (indisputable) scientific fact have you recently based your behavior and judgment on?  No, I do not think of you as a robot, jus as a disembodied Internet TD poster.  Actually, a robot might be a bit more real!  One can find different kinds of facts and the level of their veracity.  Scientific facts, claimed “religious” facts, experiential facts (I took a walk to the store today)… Please provide one. For me to say there are none, would mean that it is not possible for someone to judge any irrefutable (certain) element or objective (not subjective obviously) fact.  She: this is self-explanatory.>

I am still at a loss to understand what all the fuss is about.  Are you really trying to tell me that there is no correlation between facts we accept as true and out resultant judgments and behaviour?  You further seem to claim that it is not possible to ascertain whether the facts we happen to accept are soundly based? And further than this you refer to Kantriwitz and go on to say; “Where value resides no fact does”,
This strikes me as some kind of council of despair and it verges on the contention that there are no such things as facts. Yet you speak of “scientific facts”, claimed “religious facts” and “empirical facts”.
I know as an empirical fact that—when negotiating the streets of the city where I live—- certain routes involve less hassle and use up less time so I follow them.
It is a fairly well established fact that having the main meal of the day in the evening is prone to cause disturbed sleep,  So—being retired and free agents in this regard—my wife and I have our main meal in the middle of the day.
And those with a religious persuasion—who accept as religious facts the myths of their religion—behave accordingly —church on Sunday, bible study during the week, daily prayer etc,
So, it is not just me but everyone that governs their actions—in varying degree—by the “facts” which they accept.
How can you possibly deny this?

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By Ted Swart, January 2, 2008 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

What can I say Maani.  You are full of surprises. I simply tagged along with others who spoke of you as being female. Knowing that you are male doesn’t alter my feelings towards you one whit. And, when it comes to avoiding proselytizing we are on the same wave length since my days as a Quaker inoculated me against any tendencies in this direction.

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By Shenonymous, January 2, 2008 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Part 3
Ted:  Sure.  Reality is ultimately inscrutable (that word again) but “poeticizing”—as you call it—does nothing for me to make it less inscrutable. What are we supposed to do.  Revel in the inscrutability or try or damnedest to make sense of things?  She’s reply:  It is obvious I am not asking you or anyone to ‘revel’ in anything, it is a silly comment.  And yes, you and all others should do their damndest to make sense of the world in which they find themselves.  That is the whole point of questioning.  If I may, remind you of the virtue of the Socratic imperative to Know Thyself.  That is the first thing one must do.  You may not have the skill to ‘see’ into the emblematic or symbolic quality of poetizing ideas.  But it is not something that cannot be learned.  It requires enhancing the imagination.

She:  Those who are lost and think they hear clap trap may never be able to capture enigmatic thought and writing.  For you to be able to understand the power of Pirandello, you might have to do more research into his art.

Ted:  Maybe so. But your sample of the convoluted way in which he writes does not encourage me to make the effort.  She’s reply:  You may be of the class of minds that can only walk a straight path. Ted:  What would the benefit be?  She’s reply:  Perhaps none.  I suggest you don’t even try at this unsophisticated point.  I am afraid Pirandello’s art is lost on you.

I do apologize for the length of this response but it seemed necessary.  I will attempt to be more brief in the future.

No apology needed. Brevity is not always a virtue and I appreciate your going to the trouble to try and explain the P passsage to me.  She’s reply:  Unfortunately this was not as virtuous as I would have hoped.

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By Shenonymous, January 2, 2008 at 9:24 am Link to this comment

Part 2
Second nail:  …the claim of “sheer nonsense.” To say that facts are empty casings and so forth (please read the quote) means that facts are manipulated by the speakers who use them.  For instance, your use of the term “sheer nonsense,: is certainly not a viable fact and it itself is a nonsensical criticism.  Facts or what are called facts are used in the moment for the express reason to support an argument.  A small matter (uh, like a speck of dust), can be made to seem like a war in Iraq is justified.  We heard a lot of “facts” over that one.

Ted:  What can I say. Facts and what people regard as facts are two different things. And to obscure the distinction is to talk nonsense.  She’s reply:  Social, economic, and political circumstance often offset scientific facts, regardless of how strongly they are defended, so ordinary people who must conduct their lives don’t really know what might be “close” to the truth, which is all the distance they will ever get anyway.  For instance, on the question of the relative benefits of a new diabetes drug, Vioxx, the diabetic public is now at risk of more heart attack because the scientific community said one thing first, then another and it maybe too late for some individuals who are now at jeopardy.

Third nail:  Inscrutable had to do with his fascism, which is an ideology unfathomable to me, and has nothing to do with his art being incomprehensible.  It’s all in the interpretation of the sentence. (Permissum is sto ut est)

Ted:  Okay. I’ll buy that. I didn’t realize that, in your mind, inscrutable was tied to the word fascism.

Fourth nail:  now really you can’t honestly say you don’t understand when he says reality is at the profoundest level, unknowable.  Perhaps you do perfectly understand reality.  Would you please share your insights?  Metaphor is often used to make larger a large issue.  Poeticizing is a way of creating metaphor.  This entire paragraph you “dismiss” is quite profound and I am quite sorry you miss it.

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By Shenonymous, January 2, 2008 at 9:23 am Link to this comment

A dialogue in three parts – Part 1
She:  First nail:  Do you think there are irrefutable key elements or objective facts that can be correlated with judgment and behavior?  Ted:  Yes indeed I do.  I base my behaviour and judgments time and time again on indisputable facts.  I do this over an over again in my daily life in precisely this manner. (and I am not a robot!)

She’s reply:  What exact indubitable (indisputable) scientific fact have you recently based your behavior and judgment on?  No, I do not think of you as a robot, jus as a disembodied Internet TD poster.  Actually, a robot might be a bit more real!  One can find different kinds of facts and the level of their veracity.  Scientific facts, claimed “religious” facts, experiential facts (I took a walk to the store today)…  Please provide one. For me to say there are none, would mean that it is not possible for someone to judge any irrefutable (certain) element or objective (not subjective obviously) fact.  She: this is self-explanatory.

Ted:  I am not sure what you mean by “judge” a fact and I am also unclear as to what you mean by irrefutable elements—what is this word “elements” standing for?  She’s reply:  As a scientist, you feign ignorance here and shape shift a little bit but you might want to check out Arthur Kantrowitz and his effort at establishing a science court to try to establish verifiable scientific “facts,” and whether facts can, in fact, be separated from values.  She says:  Where value resides, no fact does. I also direct you to the books:  Scientific Method: A Historical and philosophical Introduction, Gower; and/or Science Rules….Achinstein, and then especially Scientific Method in Practice, Gauch, Jr. who encourages scientists to examine basic beliefs.  To the degree that behavior is involved, the way anyone would act with respect to any “irrefutable….fact” does not provide any certitude for that “fact”.  Of course our behavior, with reference to an indisputable fact, does nothing—in and of itself—to corroborate the fact. But so what? It remains both sensible and perfectly possible to behave in that manner.

If it seems like gobbledygook to you, then it does.  Ted:  I don’t know about gobbledygook but I am sure finding it difficult to follow what you are driving at.  She’s reply:  You may need anti-gobbledygood glasses.  The only place I know of where to get them is at the Metaphorical Philosophy Store at your local University.

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By Maani, January 2, 2008 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

Ted:

Thank you for your kindness.  And you are quite welcome for my frankness; I am one of those rare people (LOL) who actually believe the old saw that “honesty is the best policy” - 101% of the time.

In that regard, I want to “come clean” about something.  Take a deep breath…:

I am not female.

I hope that does not change how you feel about me (platonically, of course…LOL). I only refrained from saying something earlier because I was quite intrigued that everyone assumed I was female, and decided to hold off a little bit from correcting everyone.  I do wonder about this: it cannot simply be that my name ends in “i,” since there are plenty of men’s names (particularly foreign-sounding ones) that do.  So what was it that led people to make an assumption about my gender?

That said, I completely understand and respect that you “moved in the opposite direction” - from faith to non-faith.  As a minister whose secondary ministry is counseling (both “in faith” and general), I speak with many people who have “fallen away” or are having “crises in faith.”  However, the primary “job” of in-faith counseling is NOT trying to “persuade” someone back to faith, but rather to understand the person’s circumstances and help them to find personal peace with WHATEVER decision they make - whether or not that leads them back to faith (though, obviously, we hope it does).

In this regard, I want to express my appreciation for YOUR forthrightness.  I can tell that your frankness is also genuine, and that I would enjoy having a discussion with you.  (You’d be surprised how many atheist friends a minister can have…LOL.)

Again, I sincerely appreciate your kindness, and hope that the…revelation of my gender will not affect our otherwise cordial and interesting discussions.

Peace.

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By hetzer, January 2, 2008 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

The gods and and the rich first make blind (or mad), those they wish to destroy.

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By Leefeller, January 2, 2008 at 12:41 am Link to this comment

Using blindness as an analogy, is useful for many sides of an argument just as in Plato’s Cave.

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By Ted Swart, January 1, 2008 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment

Let me reply very quickly.  You have answered my query totally and, dare I say it, you stand out from the crowd in this regard and probably in many other ways as well.  People do move in both directions when it comes to faith and it is clearly more important to live a worthy life than to be agreed on matters of faith.
I had no way of guessing your background and appreciate the way in which you have been so frank. I suspect I would enjoy having a discussion with you.  Since I moved in the opposite direction to what you have done it may not surprise you that I also have the feeling that I was blind and now I see. Some would say that I could never have had faith if I turned my back on it but that is probably far too glib.
At least if I do now drop out of this discussion I will be able to recall the fact that at least one of the participants was and is indeed a worthy person.

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By Maani, January 1, 2008 at 10:26 pm Link to this comment

Ted:

You said, “Perhaps if you could give me a really interesting and persuasive answer as to why I should accept your particular faith it might make sense for me to continue our discussion.”

I am not here to convince you to accept my particular faith.  I am not here to convince ANYONE to accept my particular faith.  I am here to engage in stimulating conversation and debate with stimulating and conversational people (including even Shenonymous, on occasion…LOL).  In this regard, I am hoping that you will remain to engage in stimulating conversation and debate whether or not I provide an “interesting and persuasive answer as to why” you should accept my particular faith.

You also said, “You know, as well as I do, that the vast majority of those who do have religious attachments adhere to the religion they happen to have been brought up in. That alone should give you pause for thought.”

That is true - though not true of me.  Would it surprise you to know that I was raised in an atheist Jewish family?  My father was a political animal for whom religion was “the opium of the masses,” and my mother is a scientist for whom religion is “just so much hooey.”  (My two brothers also remained atheists.)  Thus, I am not simply the only Christian in my family, I am the only believer.

And no, my faith was not a “response” or “rebellion” against that.  I was raised in an atmopshere of empiricism and the scientific method, and I have never rejected that.  I believe that the universe is ~13 billion years old, that the earth is ~5 billion years old, and that human beings evolved via random mutation and natural selection (though, like Darwin, I believe in “first cause”).  I also believe in the sanctity of the separation of church and state; that abortion is wrong, but that morality must not be legislated (i.e., it must be a woman’s choice); and that stem cell research may be an important tool for finding cures for a variety of diseases.

Those are some of my “bona fides” as a rational, reasoned person.  LOL.  There are others.

Though I fully expect you to find the following absurd (and for Shenonymous to dismiss it out of hand…LOL), my faith was actually a logical outgrowth of my empirical, scientific, rational upbringing.  Yet with all the years of study of comparative religion, and the years of discussion and debate with rabbis, priests, ministers, imams, swamis and other clerics, I would never have “found” my faith if “faith” had not found me.  But it is impossible for someone of faith to explain the nature of faith to someone who does not have it.

Consider a thought experiment.  A person is blind from birth.  How would you describe “color” to them?  What words could you possibly use that would make them understand - truly understand - what you are talking about?

So it is with explaining faith to those who do not have it.  It does not make me “better” than other people, and I hope that is not how I come across. But it is like having an extra “sense” that non-believers do not have.

That’s the best I can do on short notice.  I am sorry if it does not answer your query well enough.

Peace.

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By Shenonymous, January 1, 2008 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Ted, I am going to table this until tomorrow because I had a physically taxing day painting, sawing wood, etc., and I am beat.  Can’t think very much right now, but I am thinking about your response.  I’m glad you are back, or haven’t really left.  A voice of reason is always refreshing.  Tamarra is another day.

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By Ted Swart, January 1, 2008 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment

Part 2

<First nail:  Do you think there are irrefutable key elements or objective facts that can be correlated with judgment and behavior?>

Yes indeed I do.  I base my behaviour and judgments time and time again on indisputable facts.  I do this over an over again in my daily life in precisely this manner. (and I am not a robot!)

< Please provide one. For me to say there are none, would mean that it is not possible for someone to judge any irrefutable (certain) element or objective (not subjective obviously) fact.> 

I am not sure what you mean by “judge” a fact and I am also unclear as to what you mean by irrefutable elements—what is this word “elements” standing for?

< To the degree that behavior is involved, the way anyone would act with respect to any “irrefutable….fact” does not provide any certitude for that “fact”.>
 
Of course our behaviour, with reference to an indisputable fact, does nothing—in and of itself—to corroborate the fact. But so what? It remains both sensible and perfectly possible to behave in that manner. 

< If it seems like gobbledygook to you, then it does.>

I don’t know about gobbledygook but I am sure finding it difficult to follow what you are driving at. 

< Second nail:  gawd, this is getting long and I do apologize.  But I shall carry on, sigh, with the claim of “sheer nonsense.” To say that facts are empty casings and so forth (please read the quote) means that facts are manipulated by the speakers who use them.  For instance, your use of the term “sheer nonsense,: is certainly not a viable fact and it itself is a nonsensical criticism.  Facts or what are called facts are used in the moment for the express reason to support an argument.  A small matter (uh, like a speck of dust), can be made to seem like a war in Iraq is justified.  We heard a lot of “facts” over that one.>

What can I say. Facts and what people regard as facts are two different things. And to obscure the distinction is to talk nonsense.

< Third nail:  Inscrutable had to do with his fascism, which is an ideology unfathomable to me, and has nothing to do with his art being incomprehensible.  It’s all in the interpretation of the sentence.>

Okay. I’ll buy that. I didn’t realize that, in your mind, inscrutable was tied to the word fascism.

<Fourth nail:  now really you can’t honestly say you don’t understand when he says reality is at the profoundest level, unknowable.  Perhaps you do perfectly understand reality.  Would you please share your insights?  Metaphor is often used to make larger a large issue.  Poeticizing is a way of creating metaphor.  This entire paragraph you “dismiss” is quite profound and I am quite sorry you miss it.>

Sure.  Reality is ultimately inscrutable (that word again) but “poeticizing”—as you call it—does nothing for me to make it less inscrutable. What are we supposed to do.  Revel in the inscrutability or try or damnedest to make sense of things? 

< Those who are lost and think they hear clap trap may never be able to capture enigmatic thought and writing.  For you to be able to understand the power of Pirandello, you might have to do more research into his art.>
<

Maybe so. But your sample of the convoluted way in which he writes does not encourage me to make the effort. What would the benefit be? 

<I do apologize for the length of this response but it seemed necessary.  I will attempt to be more brief in the future.>

No apology needed. Brevity is not always a virtue and I appreciate your going to the trouble to try and explain the P passsge to me.

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By Leefeller, January 1, 2008 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

You are not alone Ted, glad to see your return.

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By Leefeller, January 1, 2008 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment

My opinion on economics.

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By hetzer, January 1, 2008 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

The social sciences are misnamed.  They are actually social studies, because they are not as predictable as gravity, etc.  Judgement can be studied and described statistically, but it is really descriptive and not experimental.

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By Ted Swart, January 1, 2008 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for filling in on the background surrounding P.  I have to confess my knowledge of him was, until now, rudimentary. Having been immersed for muc of my life in engineering, science and mathematics my coverage of literature is not as extensive as it might otherwise have been.
I will now move to your Part 2 and try and digest it.

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By Shenonymous, January 1, 2008 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment

First nail:  Do you think there are irrefutable key elements or objective facts that can be correlated with judgment and behavior?  Please provide one. For me to say there are none, would mean that it is not possible for someone to judge any irrefutable (certain) element or objective (not subjective obviously) fact.  To the degree that behavior is involved, the way anyone would act with respect to any “irrefutable….fact” does not provide any certitude for that “fact.”  If it seems like gobbledygook to you, then it does. 

Second nail:  gawd, this is getting long and I do apologize.  But I shall carry on, sigh, with the claim of “sheer nonsense.”  To say that facts are empty casings and so forth (please read the quote) means that facts are manipulated by the speakers who use them.  For instance, your use of the term “sheer nonsense,: is certainly not a viable fact and it itself is a nonsensical criticism.  Facts or what are called facts are used in the moment for the express reason to support an argument.  A small matter (uh, like a speck of dust), can be made to seem like a war in Iraq is justified.  We heard a lot of “facts” over that one.

Third nail:  Inscrutable had to do with his fascism, which is an ideology unfathomable to me, and has nothing to do with his art being incomprehensible.  It’s all in the interpretation of the sentence. 

Fourth nail:  now really you can’t honestly say you don’t understand when he says reality is at the profoundest level, unknowable.  Perhaps you do perfectly understand reality.  Would you please share your insights?  Metaphor is often used to make larger a large issue.  Poeticizing is a way of creating metaphor.  This entire paragraph you “dismiss” is quite profound and I am quite sorry you miss it.

Those who are lost and think they hear clap trap may never be able to capture enigmatic thought and writing.  For you to be able to understand the power of Pirandello, you might have to do more research into his art.

I do apologize for the length of this response but it seemed necessary.  I will attempt to be more brief in the future.

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By Shenonymous, January 1, 2008 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

Part 1
But I would know the truth if it bit me on the ass!  The real person is back from painting, whoever She is.  Anyway, Ted, I see you had me mixed up with some of Maani’s words.  But I can see that you are giving an honest attempt at sorting out what I said.  Yes, I can dismiss much of what Maani says who is wasting her pity on someone who is perfectly happy in her life and since I don’t believe in souls I just won’t worry about that part.  People that know me, do know I am a happy, self-satisfied atheist.  You could confer with MM-C about that.  I admit to almost all she says so it is redundant ranting about this e-person Shenonymous.  I don’t read everyone’s posts so sorry I didn’t catch your earlier remarks.  I will go back and take a look and promise I won’t dismiss them unless they are empty and without merit.

Let me do try to respond to what I think am responsible for.  There is no easy way to condense a point of view that is broad and profound.  But I will do my best.  First of all theater of the absurd is not easily understood.  So with that in mind, yeah, he did win the Nobel Prize and I’m sorry you don’t have much respect for that.  I suppose if someone in your family won that Prize, it might be different.  At any rate:  Pirandello’s work: Brief as I can make it, some background sets the stage for his “strange” writings, that have latent meaning.  Perhaps I overestimated the acumen of some of those who post here??  Luigi was probably one of the most brilliant autodidacts of the 19th century.  How he became involved in fascism is probably how many young lawyers of Italy at that time did and might be worth a read to someone but not worth going into here.  He is said to have been an “extremely sensible moralist,” for whatever that might mean, I think it has something to do with morals.  His involvement might be akin to those who became involved in communism in this country who were persecuted by Joe McCarthy.  To try to truncate a really long story, his wife suffered a debilitating emotional trauma and became physically violent and he loved and remained responsible for her throughout her life in an asylum.  This experience as well as the insanity of politics that was going on in Italy led to his intuition of the absurdities of life plus he realized that the fascist were “hostile to culture.”  His art, novels and plays emerged from profound disappointment in his country as well as his personal life.  His works were a cauldron of desperation to get rid of false beliefs, certainties, false convictions.  Whereas Descartes tried to work out similar problems of uncertainty in his meditations, Pirandello did so in his theatrical writings.  For him, reality is seen as devoid of order and as being inherently contradictory.  Perhaps no one in this discussion has ever felt that way.  Their worlds are perfectly ordered and peaceful, never having had a feeling of suffocation from the vicissitudes of life.  I don’t know about them, but I have to admit witnessing craziness among those in my experience.  How about this country at the present time?  Sorry, I digress.  So let’s take a closer look at what I said and the P (P shall be short for Pirandello) quote I offered, for which you took me to task and tickled the hell out of Maani: Oh, and yes, I do know exactly the distinction between facts and factoids.  BTW thank you for nailing me, I really do love it.  Someone is awake!

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By Ted Swart, January 1, 2008 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment

Maani:

Some further quotes:

<(a) (To Leefeller). If I read you correctly, you are right that, for science, science itself is “God.”>

NO,NO! As a scientist/mathematician who came to my agnosticism via Anglicanism/Quakerism I find this to be rubbish.  Science is in no way my “God”.  Science is simply an attitude to discovery.

< And if you look at polemicists like Harris, Dawkins, Dennett et al, they are no less fanatical fundamentalist zealots in the cause of “science is God” than those they accuse of being fanatical fundamentalist zealots in the cause of “God is God.” That is, they are so certain of the “rightness” of “scientific truth” that they allow their emotions and concerns about certain aspects of religion ... to supersede the vaunted reason and rationality of the “scientific method.” >

WOW!  That’s a sweeping indictment. Having corresponded with all three of them and read their books I can assure you that science is, in their minds, in no way, shape or form a stand in for God.  I don’t agree with all they say nor would they want me to and they don’t even agree with each other.  Harris is even averse to the use of the term “atheist”.

< (b) To Shenonymous.  You misunderstand. I am not suggesting that science will, or even can, “prove” the “existence” of God in any quantitative, empirical way. Science’s “realm” is the natural world, and it is important that believers understand this; that they accept the scientific method, empiricism, etc. in arriving at explanations of the natural world. In this regard, science cannot - and should not - attempt to ALSO provide “explanations” for the “non-natural” (or ... supernatural) world: i.e., faith.>

This reached the heart of why we part company.  There is no difference setween the “natural” and the “non-natural/supernatural” worlds.  There is just the world as it is.

< Yes, some postulate that a combination of psychology and evolution might explain where belief comes from. Yet this theory is still in its infancy and, personally, I believe it will be shown to be a dead end; i.e., they will NOT find . . supporting evidence for it, as is found for, say, evolution.>

Why do religious beliefs have to “come from” somewhere?  Pre-scientific religious beliefs were a not exactly successful attempt to explain the nature of the world and our place in it.  The tragedy is that mutually irreconcilable religious dogmas prevail to this day—in the absence of any real evidence that they provide testable information. Let me repeat.  The world outside of ourselves and the world inside ourselves are the same world.  And one of the blessings of breaking loose from doctrinal style religious beliefs is that it allows us to be at one with ourselves.  No longer do we have to wrestle with such nonsense as: “As in Adam all die and so in Christ shall all be made alive”.
The truth does indeed set us free but that does not mean that us agnostics become “know it alls”.  You are clearly a very well read intelligent person and it is passing strange that you do not see the illogicality of claiming that your particular brand of monotheism happens to be the one true brand. You know, as well as I do, that the vast majority of those who do have religious attachments adhere to the religion they happen to have been brought up in. That alone should give you pause for thought.  The famous physicist Abdus Salaam (who was an Ahmadi Muslim) used to refer to science as the universal language.  There is no such thing as Muslim science as opposed to Christian or Hindu science which is in striking contrast to the religious feuding that goes on all over the globe.
Of course science isn’t the only universal medium of communication.  I truly love the musician who brought Palestinian and Israeli youths together via music. 
Perhaps if you could give me a really interesting and persuasive answer as to why I should accept your particular faith it might make sense for me to continue our discussion.

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By Ted Swart, January 1, 2008 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

Maani,
You say:
< Ted:
Don’t go so soon! While there certainly is a lot of mental masturbation and cerebral diarrhea occurring, the conversation is still within meaningful bounds - shall we call them “path”-ways? LOL - of the original discussion. And although it does somewhat defeat the purpose of a topical thread for people to break off into essentially one-on-one or other “private” discussions, I would be happy to do so with you, as MMC (who I can tell I like) and Shenonymous (who I am still unsure of) seem to be doing.
Please reconsider leaving the thread. Thanks.>

Okay.  I am – for the moment—re-considering. 
In response to Doug C you said

< In response to John’s comment that “The main difference between astrophysics and theology is that astrophysics deals in hypotheses which lead to further investigation….,” you said, “And that IS how they discovered God! Will they ever realize it, though???”
Wow! And I was just about to give up on you! LOL. Seriously, I have been making that exact point for years, if not decades. And I thought I was a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Thank you for the unintended support.
Yes, with each step it takes, science comes closer and closer to “revealing” God - yet, as lifelong, career skeptics, they simply cannot see beyond the myopia of their discipline. Einstein knew this, though I am not suggesting, despite his many comments about God, that he himself was a believer in a “personal” God. But his “belief” is summed up in the following statement: “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
“Superior spirit.” A wonderful euphemism, even if Einstein did not intend it that way. >

Why do you call it a euphemism?  Being an agnostic pantheist myself I’d say it is very far from a euphemism.  There is much mystery associated with human life and the recognition of a divine facet to our existence – without swallowing formal dogmas – sounds just about right to me.

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By hetzer, January 1, 2008 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

Profane religion consists of Idolatry and Magic.  Sacred religion comes from oceanic feelings.  The seat of the oceanic feelings has been found in a location on the brain.

Idolatry and magic is used by predators to keep people in line and ready for the harvest.  Almost all formal “religions” are like this, except for Quakers, Unitarians, and so forth.  Quakers probably had a lot to do with the progressiveness of Iowa for instance.

The religious conflict is not a question between liberal and conservative, but rather a difference between classes.  Profane religion never stops accumulating more and more crap.  Sacred religions tries to throw most of the crap away.  Science is a little like sacred religion in that it likes to throw old ideas and facts out, though kit does not depend upon the same part of the brain.

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By Maani, January 1, 2008 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

Ted:

Welcome back.  And in fairness to Shenonymous, the two final comments you respond to - re “religion” and “faith,” and re “kind of hell” - were mine, the latter simply being tongue in cheek, as the “LOL” following it suggests.  (BTW, does everyone know that “LOL” stands for “laughing out loud,” and is not meant as laughing AT someone, but laughing at oneself, or noting irony or attempted humor?).

Also, bravo on your response to Shenonymous.  Having now seen her response to my most recent post, I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that she, in all her unapologetically self-centered eruditeness, simply likes to hear herself speak, and that she is, as you suggest, pretentious - to a degree that I have rarely encountered in another human being.

Shenonymous:

Now I know of a certainty that you would not know “truth” if it bit you on the ear.  The only “truths” you know are the preconceived notions and beliefs that you have inculcated and barricaded, and that now feed upon and engorge themselves in a vicious cycle, creating an ego-driven wall through which nothing can or will penetrate.  I would say that I pity you - since, among other things, your state of being does not suggest a happy soul - but I know that you would reject pity as “condescending” and tell me that you are actually quite happy.

As for my thoughts on Lille/Karabell, apparently your high IQ does not equate with paying attention: I addressed numerous aspects of this in detail in my initial posts to this thread.  Perhaps you simply dismissed them all as “empty and without merit.”  Or perhaps you just weren’t interested.

Peace.

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By Ted Swart, January 1, 2008 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

For Shenonymous (Part 2)

< Sorry Ted, since we are supposedly here talking about some “meaningful” reality, it seemed the Pirandello quote, who was one of the great playwrights about the absurdities of life, was appropriate, and I don’t see it at all as rambling. I agree that it does take some extra stretch of thought that is for sure, but several of the poster’s here want a stretch of the imagination to accept that a supernatural being did all kinds of really unimaginable things to “create” this world. It is more difficult to accept that kind of belief as one would an ice cream cone full of soft creamy sweet creature comforts so that one’s mind needn’t consider the actual realities of existence. When we have incredible death and destruction in the world that mankind inflicts upon himself, it takes more than a ticket to a movie or a youtube video to fix it.>

I have tried to put in an “extra stretch of thought” —as you put it – and have come up empty handed.  I know about the “incredible death an destruction” in the world but I don’t think it can be alleviated by tortuous attempts at word games.  In yet another post you say:

< It should also be kept in mind that “Religion is about laws, rules and behaviour; faith is about a relationship with God” (and, for Christians, with Christ). In this regard, there is far too much “religion” going on - and bad religion at that - and not enough quiet, peaceable, humble faith.>

Odd for an atheist like you to plug the notion of faith as opposed to religion.

< Ted:
You live in THIS world and “don’t feel as if I am in any kind of hell?” LOL.>

If you are implying that the current state of humans is somewhat like “hell on earth” then indeed I agree with you.  But I was merely interacting with Maani and her claim that hell is not a place but a lack of a proper relationship with God.  And since I have no relationship with Maani’s monotheistic God I am supposedly in a personal hell – which I don’t think is the case.

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By Ted Swart, January 1, 2008 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous (Part 1)

No sooner do I suggest that it is time for me to pull out of this discussion and both you and Maani attempt to persuade me to stay on AND the discussion suddenly becomes more lively.  It is really just a question of time management as far as I am concerned.  Too many interesting things to do and not enough time for all of them.  No point in staying on if I don’t feel able to contribute anything or learn anything.  Anyway, since you insist Pirandello is worth perusing I thought I had better have another look.  I know he got a Nobel prize way back in 1934 but Nobel prizes are not to be trusted since they have just given one to Al Gore for a book (and movie) full of half-truths and deliberate untruths.  Anyway, what you actually said is as follows (with my comments interspersed):
 
< If we may (we will
If we may (we will whether we have permission or not), let’s talk about facts, or really factoids…in the presence of happening shit.>

I am uncomfortable about brushing over the difference between facts and factoids. You know darn well that they are two completely different things.

< There are no irrefutable key elements or objective facts that can be correlated with judgement and behaviour.>

What kind of sentence is this.  It strikes me as plain gobbledygook.

< What is a fact? Facts are merely empty casings that can be dressed with arbitrary meaning according to the moment and prevailing sentiment, particularly the sentiment of the rhetorician of the ‘fact.’ A speck of dust can assume the pressing density of a barrage that crushes.>

This is just sheer nonsense.  Just words for the sake of words?  Or is there supposed to be some deep meaning which escapes me?

< As that inscrutable fascist, Pirandello, once said (and even fascists can come up with some profound words of wisdom since no one holds the mortgage on wisdom),>

If he is indeed inscrutable how are we to learn anything from his “profound words of wisdom”?

< “Reality is, at the profoundest level, unknowable: a secret law manages the great spectacle and often designs capricious circumlocutions of disconcerting coincidences which are certainly not explainable in the light of a deterministic vision of the universe. In this obscure labyrinth, man questions himself about himself >

“questions himself about himself”??  Seems like just words thrown together.

< but discovers, and the discovery is terrifying, the uncertainty of his identity. The obscurity of external reality finds in this way, in a sort of ironic and upside down mysticism,>

“upside down mysticism”?  Nice sounding phrase but what is it supposed to mean?

< a correlation in the dark interior which throws into crisis the very stability of the self. Turning one’s eye inward toward one’s own consciousness means seeing with horror the threat of disintegration, of dis-aggregation of the self.”>

Sorry I am still lost.  Seems to me like pretentious clap trap.  I know one should not speak ill of the dead but I don’t have the time to try and extract some useful meaning from such obscurantism.  This reminds me somewhat of Unamuno’s book called “The Tragic Sense of Life” —another tortuous attempt to say something meaningful. Maybe you can explicate Pirandello in a manner which makes it meaningful to me. In a separate message you say (see Part 2):

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By Shenonymous, January 1, 2008 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

We can only tell how long someone has been making comments by the number noted under the name. If you have been hanging about these e-halls for three years, I find it casually interesting you are just now getting into the fray.  No matter, it is a small matter.  No contest:  Piss on your IQ, as it isn’t higher than mine.  But that is a small matter as well.  I do see your comments as patronizing and it has all to do with me. It is only what I believe that is important to me.  I am self-centered.  And I am not nice.  The fruitful game is the one where you say something is fruitless then go ahead and play your “card” anyway.  It’s like the one Huckabee just played on Romney.  As per KIA’s definition of humility, I definitely do not have humility.  As I said, I have no flaws, I have already admitted to limited fallibility, faults are iffy as no one has ever pointed any out to me, but there could be room for one, or two.  But perhaps I misunderstood?  Would you please make the distinction among flaws, fallibilities, and faults?  Or are we being redundant?  I have a smart mouth that is true.  I am as immortal as subatomic particles.  My relative place in this gargantuan world is higher than most because that is how all Calabreses think, perhaps you have never seen how they walk with their heads held high, but there may be a few higher.  And you must have missed the thread that said Hyperbole is my middle name.  Perhaps we can call it missed-omniscience?  The truth is that what I believe about myself is in the existential sense as close as it can get.  All this being said about Shenonymous is true.  We just have to live with it.  Judging e-people is a useless practice and really a waste of time.

So tell us about yourself, Maani, in addition to your finding condescension obnoxious.  What about your religious beliefs with respect to this article?  How do you rate the insight in this article?  To what exact easy degree can Karabell “quibble” with Lilla’s interpretations. Hmmmm.  Do you read critically or do you believe everything you read?

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By hetzer, January 1, 2008 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

I don’t like to play games much anyway because they are closed systems.  It’s the rules that ruin everything.

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By Leefeller, January 1, 2008 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

Appreciate your quick response, as for the I.Q. contest I would refer to it as something else. Believe I stated before, some of my best friends are Christians on the other hand some of them are not.

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By Maani, January 1, 2008 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller:

“Do you belive the woman is supposed to throw the game and let the male win, as one form of humility?”

Absolutely not!  “Throwing the game” is not humility; it is appeasement.  And appeasement can (and often is) an obnoxious form of condescension - no matter which gender is doing the appeasing.

Shenonymous:

Hmmm…where to begin.

I have been on the TD boards for over three years; that we have not crossed paths on any threads may simply be a matter of coincidence…  In this regard, it is true that I am not familiar with your “style” or behavior on other threads.  I can only “judge” (and I use that term loosely) that style and behavior from this thread - no matter how few or how many comments anyone has made; I read the entire thread from the beginning before making any comment at all, so, from what I HAVE seen, my observation stands.

I was not being “patronizing”; I was making honest observations and comments.  If you read these as “patronizing,” then it has more to do with you than with me.

I would never want you to “feign ignorance”; as noted above to Leefeeller, that sort of appeasement is anathema to my beliefs and feelings as well.

As for our relative intellects, it would be fruitless to play the “my I.Q. is higher than yours” or other such game, since intellect is not the be-all and end-all of discussion or debate.  That said, my I.Q. is higher than yours…LOL.

Finally, re “humility,” I think KIA’s definition is a good starting point: “Humility is a human mindset in which one recognizes her/his flaws, fallibility, faults, her/his mortality and understands the limitations of her/his strengths, and her/his relative place in a gargantuan world.”

As an aside, your response to this was: “I have no flaws so I have no humility.  I not mortal hence I have no limitations.  I am strong and ride a high horse in the gargantuan world.”

Now, you may certainly have had your tongue firmly in your cheek in making this comment.  However, the sarcasm behind it is exactly what I am referring to in my observation about you: this was a good, solid definition by KIA - not a “hit and run” - yet you basically dismissed it with a sarcastic, faux humorous comment, and went on to address other comments s/he made.  This is why, despite your claims to the contrary, your comment that “I have no flaws so I have no humility” is closer to what you believe is the truth about yourself than you care to admit.

Peace.

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By Shenonymous, January 1, 2008 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment

hetzer, you seem to have a marvelous mind to join this lofty group.  Be careful though as I dismiss anything empty and without merit very quickly.  At least one other thinks too quickly. I’ll try to take longer to do it.  All kidding aside, I enjoy your allusion to Francis Bacon and I eat a lot of bacon as well.  I’m not a vegan.  Do put your seeds of wisdom here and like Socrates said we “will walk it around the hearth to see if it is just a wind egg or shows any real worth.”  Gawd only knows I only spout wind eggs.

And I promised a friend I would not mention peas for awhile.  If you have a tin cup, I will put a coin in it.  I bejeweled a toy half-track, or may it was a tank, once so maybe we have some aesthetic affinity?

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By Leefeller, January 1, 2008 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

Do you belive the woman is supposed to throw the game and let the male win, as one form of humility?

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By Shenonymous, January 1, 2008 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

It is not my intent to convince you Maani, and perhaps I wouldn’t know the truth if it hit me in the face, but I still seek it and maybe I’ll hit upon it before I die.  I really don’t ask for anything more.  And I’ve asked another what they mean by humility without any satisfactory answer, perhaps you can say what you mean so that we may understand one another?.  I am not here to be humble to anyone.  I am convinced of my intellect and whether it is a prowess is for others to judge. I wouldn’t feign ignorance just to placate someone else’s shortcomings.  I have stepped back plenty of times on these threads as others can testify, and apologized for any ill-conceived remark and since you have only been here for 8 comments perhaps you should sit back and become part of the TD world a bit longer before making patronizing comments.  Perhaps my intellect is too far ahead of yours to appreciate yet.  You comment about my dismissing anything as empty and without merit too quickly is most premature and also ignorant since you know exactly nothing about what I’ve dismissed as empty and without merit.  I have a completely open mind and judge not lest ye be judged.

Peas

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By Leefeller, January 1, 2008 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

You may have it partly correct, it may be safely stated that Harris, Dawkins, Dennett et al, have not killed anyone in their, as you place them in the fanatical fundamentalist zealots column, I would place them in the enlightened economic gains column.

To not believe in something, the fact some find it necessary to support their unbelief does bother me. It may also come from the misanthropic orthodox religious point of view so prevalent in the world today. My point of view, live and let live, is not to be from what is going on in the world today.

Have a feeling we may agree more, than disagree.

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By Leefeller, January 1, 2008 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

Hetzer,

Welcome both of you. As a farmer I applicate your analogy.

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By hetzer, January 1, 2008 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Francis Bacon said something like, “Discourse prepareth a ready mind, Reading a full mind, and Writing an exact mind.  Talking on this site plows the field and reading supplies things to put in the ground.  Writing on this site is an exercise in precision.

I agree that a lot of the writing on this site (including mine) is a bit confused.  But that is what it is all about.  Spontaneous discussion is the source of everything and there is very little of it available for me when my coffee shop is closed.  It is sure a lot better than grubbing after money or watching TV.

I’m working on a model of a German half-track.  I glue something in place and then I get on here while I’m waiting for a part to dry.

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By Maani, January 1, 2008 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller:

If I read you correctly, you are right that, for science, science itself is “God.”  And if you look at polemicists like Harris, Dawkins, Dennett et al, they are no less fanatical fundamentalist zealots in the cause of “science is God” than those they accuse of being fanatical fundamentalist zealots in the cause of “God is God.”  That is, they are so certain of the “rightness” of “scientific truth” that they allow their emotions and concerns about certain aspects of religion (some of which are well-founded) to supercede the vaunted reason and rationality of the “scientific method.”

Hetzer:

You misunderstand.  I am not suggesting that science will, or even can, “prove” the “existence” of God in any quantitative, empirical way.  Science’s “realm” is the natural world, and it is important that believers understand this; that they accept the scientific method, empiricism, etc. in arriving at explanations of the natural world.  In this regard, science cannot - and should not - attempt to ALSO provide “explanations” for the “non-natural” (or, if you must, supernatural) world: i.e., faith.  Yes, some postulate that a combination of psychology and evolution might explain where belief comes from. Yet this theory is still in its infancy and, personally, I believe it will be shown to be a dead end; i.e., they will NOT find increasing supporting evidence for it, as is found for, say, evolution.

Shenonymous:

I agree with your acceptance of the basic Aristotlean belief that “every man has a little bit of the truth.”

You then say, “I don’t mind being told I’m off base, but I do require…exact reasons why I am off base and discount any hit and run comments that always are empty and without merit.  For myself, finding truth means to challenge whatever I see as specious even if it sounds like the truth to many.”

From what I have seen thus far, I am not entirely convinced that you would KNOW the truth - i.e., have enough humility to accept that you are off-base in any particular regard - even if it DID come up here.

Skepticism is a good and important quality, and seeking “exact reasons” why one may be “off-base” is appropriate.  But you seem (at least to me) FAR too convinced of your own intellectual prowess to be able to step back enough to really LOOK at something that is said without automatically dismissing as “empty and without merit” comments that may NOT be “hit and run,” and not simply find some “erudite” defensive or cerebral response to them.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  Yet in order to see - or even have the possibility of seeing - those things, one must be open-minded enough to at very LEAST “entertain” them. Otherwise, “skepticism” becomes “cynicism,” even when we don’t realize it.

Peace.

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By Leefeller, January 1, 2008 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

Ted,

Take your ball and go home!  You forgot the ball Ted.

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By Leefeller, January 1, 2008 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

Yes, as they disagree from ignorance and will kill for it, it their god.

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By Shenonymous, January 1, 2008 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment

After Ted Swarts abrupt demise, I got to thinking about why I stick around these threads.  And I would like to offer my reason. 

I will use a small illustration as it is well-known that often an authority figure helps one’s argument. 

Aristotle, who is not one of my favorite philosophers mainly because he was a misogynist through and through and had very little place for women in his life (to wit most people hardly even know that he had two wives, or even less his two wives’ names) other than as those who bear children and clean houses, but even so, he had a great deal of insight into the human condition, all that being said, and I do apologize to the digression but some explanation was felt needed as everyone is not a student of philosophy.  At any rate, Aristotle said, “every man has a little bit of the truth.” 

Finding that a reasonable and intriguing thought, it has become my beacon, and I peruse the comments looking for that little bit of truth in them, even within my own words since self-delusion is the biggest problem I find in being human.  If I am full of crap, then I have found plenty of others who let me know, and without a spare second.  I don’t mind being told I’m off base, but I do require, absolutely require, exact reasons why I am off base and discount any hit and run comments that always are empty and without merit.  For myself, finding truth means to challenge whatever I see as specious even if it sounds like the truth to many.

Contrary to how it may seem at least for the last few days of fire and brimstone, I have much respect for Douglas Chalmers who has extraordinary strength of his convictions.  And nothing really phases him or deters him from continuing his search for truth as well.  We each have our own path and you cannot, I say again, you cannot, tread another’s, but someone else may provide that little bit of truth that helps you on your way. 

I too would hope Ted would reconsider continuing in this forum as I found his comments unambiguous and comprehendible.

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By hetzer, January 1, 2008 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

It is highly unlikely that science would discover any G-d except a false one, because the human race will become extinct long before the right questions could be answered.  However, it has discovered where oceanic religious feelings exist in the brain.

The real problem is that organized religion has attributed all kinds of qualities to a G-d like moral perfection, all powerfulness, etc.  Science could not possibly investigate such a contradiction, although it could describe the fact that many people seem to get along with it.

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By Maani, January 1, 2008 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Ted:

Don’t go so soon!  While there certainly is a lot of mental masturbation and cerebral diarrhea occurring, the conversation is still within meaningful bounds - shall we call them “path”-ways? LOL - of the original discussion.  And although it does somewhat defeat the purpose of a topical thread for people to break off into essentially one-on-one or other “private” discussions, I would be happy to do so with you, as MMC (who I can tell I like) and Shenonymous (who I am still unsure of) seem to be doing.

Please reconsider leaving the thread.  Thanks.

Doug:

In response to John’s comment that “The main difference between astrophysics and theology is that astrophysics deals in hypotheses which lead to further investigation….,” you said, “And that IS how they discovered God! Will they ever realize it, though???”

Wow!  And I was just about to give up on you!  LOL. Seriously, I have been making that exact point for years, if not decades.  And I thought I was a lone voice crying in the wilderness.  Thank you for the unintended support.

Yes, with each step it takes, science comes closer and closer to “revealing” God - yet, as lifelong, career skeptics, they simply cannot see beyond the myopia of their discipline.  Einstein knew this, though I am not suggesting, despite his many comments about God, that he himself was a believer in a “personal” God.  But his “belief” is summed up in the following statement: “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”

“Superior spirit.”  A wonderful euphemism, even if Einstein did not intend it that way.

Peace.

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By John Hanks, January 1, 2008 at 11:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Most liberals leave the room when a discussion turns into an agument.

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By Shenonymous, January 1, 2008 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

Sorry Ted, since we are supposedly here talking about some “meaningful” reality, it seemed the Pirandello quote, who was one of the great playwrights about the absurdities of life, was appropriate, and I don’t see it at all as rambling.  I agree that it does take some extra stretch of thought that is for sure, but several of the poster’s here want a stretch of the imagination to accept that a supernatural being did all kinds of really unimaginable things to “create” this world.  It is more difficult to accept that kind of belief as one would an ice cream cone full of soft creamy sweet creature comforts so that one’s mind needn’t consider the actual realities of existence.  When we have incredible death and destruction in the world that mankind inflicts upon himself, it takes more than a ticket to a movie or a youtube video to fix it.  So bye.

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By Ted Swart, January 1, 2008 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

Sorry folks but I’m pulling out.  This discussion seems to have gone completely off the rails. Even shenonymous contributes mumbo jumbo in the shape of a rambling—largely content free—quote from Pirandello.

I would like to have got to know Maani better but, since she is not registered,  I cannot even send her an email.

Cheers and have a meaningful 2008

. . Ted . .

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By John Hanks, January 1, 2008 at 9:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

With apologies to Pirandello, anyone who has been tripped up on a fact knows how stubborn they can be.  It is also true that a fact is only as worthwhile as it s context.  As to “mystery”.  It’s there, but one of the mysteries is that it doesn’t ignore facts.

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By Shenonymous, January 1, 2008 at 8:11 am Link to this comment

If we may (we will whether we have permission or not), let’s talk about facts, or really factoids…in the presence of happening shit. There are no irrefutable key elements or objective facts that can be correlated with judgment and behavior.  What is a fact?  Facts are merely empty casings that can be dressed with arbitrary meaning according to the moment and prevailing sentiment, particularly the sentiment of the rhetorician of the ‘fact.’  A speck of dust can assume the pressing density of a barrage that crushes.

As that inscrutable fascist, Pirandello, once said (and even fascists can come up with some profound words of wisdom since no one holds the mortgage on wisdom), “Reality is, at the profoundest level, unknowable: a secret law manages the great spectacle and often designs capricious circumvolutions of disconcerting coincidences which are certainly not explainable in the light of a deterministic vision of the universe. In this obscure labyrinth, man questions himself about himself but discovers, and the discovery is terrifying, the uncertainty of his identity. The obscurity of external reality finds in this way, in a sort of ironic and upside down mysticism, a correlation in the dark interior which throws into crisis the very stability of the self. Turning one’s eye inward toward one’s own consciousness means seeing with horror the threat of disintegration, of dis-aggregation of the self.”    We do not need a youtube video for that!

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By John Hanks, January 1, 2008 at 7:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is more like G-d discovers them.  (It is really more like a chance encounter)  Every crook in history has had some sort of patent as if G-d can be summoned from a pop machine.  Martin Luther had an encounter while sitting on the pot in a castle tower.

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 1, 2008 at 2:55 am Link to this comment

Astrophysics and Theology; A Fact that is indisputable.

By Mike Mid-City, December 31: “You, me, and everything we see, is a creation….. What is created necessitates a creator by some definition…”

Understood! Shit happens, uhh…... Happy 2008*

So glad you don’t hold it against me. Men in black often wear black pants, proclaimed or not proclaimed…..

##By John Hanks, December 31: The main difference between astrophysics and theology is that astrophysics deals in hypotheses which lead to further investigation….”

And that IS how they discovered God! Will they ever realize it, though??? Creation AND then evolution…....

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By John Hanks, December 31, 2007 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment
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Happy New Year.  Happy Flag Day.  Happy Veterans Day.

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By Shenonymous, December 31, 2007 at 9:48 pm Link to this comment

I’ll be sending you a private email via TD most likely tomorrow, as I am a bit tired again tonight and I want to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  Don’t know if I can stay awake for that, need some eyelid toothpicks.  I’ll check out your charitability MM-C.  But we always knew you and your church was one of the special ones.  Wouldn’t it be great if they were all that way?  Can’t we get some carpet company to donate the carpeting?  Gad Mike you don’t want to mention my name with DC’s in the same breath!  He might skin you alive.

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By Leefeller, December 31, 2007 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment

Hey Mike,

Yep! Happy New Year, I feel good about it.

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By Leefeller, December 31, 2007 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment

Okay, so a self proclaimed Christian is not really a Christian?  So who gets to judge who is the the real Christian? Would you agree that self proclaimed Atheists are not really atheists?  Who does the proclaiming, the deciding on who is what.  The problem starts when the proclaimer has the power. 

All the fuzzy warm stuff that Christ was supposed to be supporting is nice, or is it selective.  You have a nice list when you say “In fact, if the main precepts of Jesus’ ministry were love, peace, forgiveness, compassion, humility, patience, charity, selflessness, service, justice and truth” Why does religion have the corner on these, in you case Christian religion? 

My appreciation of your feelings is just that, I may add some of my best friends are self proclaimed Christians.  For reference sake what other kind is their?

Of course peace, but we may never see it.

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By Shenonymous, December 31, 2007 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment

And I’ll be your favorite atheist anytime.  Just don’t tell your wife cause we know how jealous she is.  I have seceded from Texas and established my own principality.  Course I’ll still have to pay taxes, damn. Atheists pay their taxes.  But it is a seditious thought anyway.  So glad you don’t hold it against me. 

Let’s not quibble about a higher authority.  I thought that was you!  What can this atheist from the mindless state of Texass do to help your church?  She doesn’t have an awful lot of money.  But there might be something I can do.  You and your female-pastored church are the bestest.  We definitely have to be sure you always have fresh batteries.  And just between you and me, America is not going to slide into the dust bin.  Soon as that GD GWB is gone we will start recovery.  No shit!  Stay calm Mike, if your God wants you to know the mind of your God, you will.  But you must contemplate the stars. 

I often wear black pants.  Guess I’ll have to start being more careful.  Maybe we will get to San Diego someday?  Maybe you and the Mrs. will get to Texass someday?

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By Leefeller, December 31, 2007 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment

Christians, proclaimed not proclaimed, truncated, circumcised and Heretics, all religions, to all Happy New Year.

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By John Hanks, December 31, 2007 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment
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I have no doubt that Hitler would have eventually absorbed the churches into his Naziland.  I also think it would have been pretty easy because most of them backed his ambitions and they were anti semitic.  There were some courageous exceptions, of course; but they are over emphasised today.  I simply assume that all religions are inhabited by the same crooks, suckers, and lazy cowards you will find anywhere else.  Every religion gives permission to lie, cheat, steal, and murder when it gives them pleasure.  They fill up every human organization.  They just express their general contemptibleness in different ways.  Republicans get their kicks out of hearing the screaming of torture victims.  Democrats get their kicks by pretending that they are better because they pretend to care.

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By Maani, December 31, 2007 at 4:39 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller:

The fact that a self-proclaimed Christian president started the war in Iraq is certainly undeniable. Yet simply because one “self-proclaims” as something does not mean they are that thing.

Hitler claimed to be a Christian as well.  Yet he was nothing of the sort.  Not a single word he said or action he took showed the slightest inclination toward what Mike Mid-City properly calls “the loving gospel of Jesus.”  In fact, if the main precepts of Jesus’ ministry were love, peace, forgiveness, compassion, humility, patience, charity, selflessness, service, justice and truth, then Hitler was the polar opposite of ALL of these. Indeed, he was an equal opportunity murderer: in addition to the almost 6 million Jews, he murdered almost 2 million Christians, plus millions of others including communists, trade unionists, blacks, the elderly, and the physically and mentally handicapped.  He attempted to take over the Protestant churches NOT to control them, but to dismantle them.  Indeed, when Hitler was finished eliminating the Jews, he had the Christians in his sights: at a 1933 meeting of the party faithful, Hitler said, “It is through te peasantry that we will finally destroy Christianity.  One can be a German or a Christian, but not both.”  As well, Hitler did NOT have a “cushy” relationship with the pope.  Rather, Hitler knew that the pope was turning a blind eye to the “underground railroad” being used by the Jews to escape Europe; it is a virtual certainty that he would have gone after the Vatican as well.

Bush can claim to be anything he wants.  But his actions are what count: and like all the other “Old Testament Christian” fundamentalists of the so-called Christian Right (which, like the Moral Majority before it, is neither) - who take Scripture out of context to support narrow, unloving, unforgiving and ultimately un-Christian positions - it is clear that Bush would not know Jesus if He bit him on the ear.

It should also be kept in mind that “Religion is about laws, rules and behavior; faith is about a relationship with God” (and, for Christians, with Christ).  In this regard, there is far too much “religion” going on - and bad religion at that - and not enough quiet, peaceable, humble faith.

Ted:

You live in THIS world and “don’t feel as if I am in any kind of hell?”  LOL.

Peace to all.

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By Shenonymous, December 31, 2007 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

Just sing row, row, row, your boat(s), and whatever floats. Some pretty nasty stuff floats.  For reference:  Chamberpot
Happy New Year MM-C!

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By John Hanks, December 31, 2007 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The main difference between astrophysics and theology is that astrophysics deals in hypotheses which lead to further investigation.  Ultimately these learned guesses depend on facts.  Theology depends upon ignoring well established facts which have been deliberately ignored for centuries.  (Virgin birth, resurrection, etc.) It frequently relies upon one witness who has supplied “historical” self-serving facts years after the event.  I try not to blame anyone because everyone is contemptible, though there is a difference between crooks, suckers, and lazy cowards.

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By Leefeller, December 31, 2007 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment

Chompers, I apologize for calling you Chompers and will call you Douglas Chalmers from now on if you do not ask me to go to hell. My point being is you may be better received if you would just lighten up.

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By Douglas Chalmers, December 31, 2007 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jō, literally “Spider Web Castle”)

Note in the “trivia” that the US Marines built the castle http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050613/trivia

Originally, Kurosawa was planning on building merely a facade castle for the film, but this proved to be an impractical step, prompting the building of full-on castle sections to use in shooting. These were built with the help of United States Marines who were based in the area….

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By Douglas Chalmers, December 31, 2007 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment

“How to win friends and Influence people”

By Leefeller, December 31: “Charming Chompers….. hell in your case charm school would be helpful….”

Go to hell, Leefeller.

For everybody else (except the Shhh blood-sucker), Happy New Year 2008!


“Men should accept the blame for all the wars caused by men.  Now if they were determined to be half-wits, we can take it even further…”

Yes, women have it in their power to stop all wars. Why, then, haven’t they???

Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jō, literally “Spider Web Castle”) is a black and white 1957 film directed by Akira Kurosawa, which transposes the plot of William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth to medieval Japan….. A ruthlessly ambitious lord, egged on by his wife, works to fulfill a prophecy that he would become Emperor…” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050613/plotsummary
Trailer: Throne of Blood - with Toshiro Mifune http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSllRT8pVBA

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By Ted Swart, December 31, 2007 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

Well now Maani.  You sure are very good at digging out interesting and useful statistics. But, as I see it, it is not belief in or non belief in God which causes trouble it is any dogmatic system which claims to know all the answers.
YES.  You are correct in claiming that Christianity has—for the last few hundred years—outdistanced other monotheistic religions in the extent to which it avoids violence. So it is not unfair to grade religions and subsets of religions in this regard. But this does not make the core doctrines of Christianity true.
Since I don’t accept any of the monotheistic concepts of God I guess I am “out of the presence of God” and must be in hell.  But I don’t feel as if I am in any kind of hell.

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By Leefeller, December 31, 2007 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

Well, for one the war in Iraq started by someone who calls himself a Methodist,  Open hearts, open minds and all that. 

Yes, all atheists should accept the blame for all the wars done by atheists, makes sense to me.  Men should accept the blame for all the wars caused by men.  Now if they were determined to be half-wits, we can take it even further for Bush.

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By Leefeller, December 31, 2007 at 10:19 am Link to this comment

Hey Chompers,

You need to read the book on “How to win friends and Influence people”, hell in your case charm school would be helpful.

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By John Hanks, December 30, 2007 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Religions that rests on things or mental images are basically false and anthropomorphic.  They always become cults with people who are in and people who are out.  There is also a hierarchy of crooks too.  Therefore they have no right to dictate anything to the rest of us.  They have no more moral authority than the Boy Scouts or Skull and Bones.

Real religion is transcendental and imminent in its nature, so it cannot become a cult.  I has no images, flags, symbols, or slogans to enforce obedience and conformity.  Some of the founding fatheads realized that Quakers and Unitarians would never pose a threat to democracy since they claimed to special relationship with G-d.

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By Maani, December 30, 2007 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hmmm….

Let this left-leaning evangelical minister address a couple of things here…

The original “definition” of “hell” was not a place of torture, but rather a place of being out of the presence of God.  “Hell” as we know it (LOL) is a later invention (if not mistranslation).  And while it is true that much of Christianity (especially the apostate, if not heretical, mainstream, “organized,” hierarchical Church-with-a-capital-C”) still teaches the “new, improved” hell (LOL), I (among others), as a “primitive” Christian, maintain belief in the original definition, which is “separation from God.”

Re the existence of heaven and hell, I like Ted’s…humble response (LOL).  Indeed, science offers an increasingly “weird” number of theories for which there is “no evidence,” such as multiple universes, reverse black holes, etc.  So if I am expected to entertain the idea that a particle can spin both directions simultaneously, or be in two places at once, then I fully expect all you scientist-atheist types to at least entertain the idea that heaven and hell exist.  Indeed, no less a skeptic than Carl Sagan said, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”  You atheist types might want to keep this in mind.

Finally, Shenonymous said, “My personal conflict is not only against Christianity that has proven to the world over and over again how vicious it can be with its death dealing policies, but both Islam and Judaism that both have murdered thousands if not millions of people, both guilty and the innocent under the guise of religion.”

Uh…excuse me…can you tell exactly what “death dealing policies” you refer to, particularly in the past few hundred years since the Crusades, Inquistion, etc.?  True, we had the witch hunts (and burnings) in the 18th and early 19th centuries.  But this did not lead to “thousands” of deaths.

For the most part, Christianity has been the most pacifistic of the Abrahamic faiths for a few hundred years at least.  After all, have you ever heard of a Christian suicide bomber?  LOL.

As the saying goes, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”  (We Christians like to say, “Take the log out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of another’s.”).  According to statistics, the total number of people who died in religious/holy wars, Crusades, etc. - in ALL OF RECORDED HISTORY - is ~75,000,000.  (And many historians believe that is WAY too liberal; they put the number at closer to 50 million.).

Yet the number of people murdered, directly or indirectly, by just four atheists - Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot - was over 120,000,000 IN JUST 60 YEARS!!  And that doesn’t include the many millions of others killed in NON-religious wars, etc.

So you might want to consider sweeping your own sidewalk before you accuse your neighbor’s of being dirty…

Peace.

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By Shenonymous, December 30, 2007 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment

MIKE MID-CITY Ah em soooo happy to see you!  You are my favorite Christian on the Internet!  I hope you are well.  I answered your TD email, but never heard if you received it.  Yeah, Chamberpot calls me sort of a she-werewolf.  And I used a bone splinter to clean that clot from my teeth.  Yeah, all silly stuff and a log of shit is still a log of shit.  How are you doing?  I have missed Your Sweetness.  How’s the family?  We have a wonderful small group over at CommonDreams.  Leefeller and Hemi are the best guys in the whole wide world.  We don’t talk much religion unless we want to rant against the poop with the pointy hat.  But we do have mahvalous talk about music, art, philosophy, and pppppoooollitics.  We’d love to have you join us with your usual barbed remarks.  Ain’t nobody better.  Yeah, Billy showed up.  He’s over at another place having a ball.  He’s a young thang you know.  And he is with his peers.  He’s happy as a clam and has been traveling the world.  He invited me over and I checked it out. A bit too rambunctious for me.  But they are a terrific youth group.  I prefer the more, shall we say, cultivated, over here.  Even if some of them are A-Aches.

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By Shenonymous, December 30, 2007 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

Dr. KIA (are you a car?)
I have no flaws so I have no humility .  I not mortal hence I have no limitations.  I am strong and ride a high horse in the gargantuan world.  Only those with a great sense of humor can understand the remark about the fallopian tubes.  But there’s meaning in the remark, anyway.  Can’t argue about whether heaven/hell exist but there is no evidence that they do.  Therefore I will go with the evidence. There is no evidence one way or another that pink striped black dancing jelly beans exist either but I hope some clever person can craft them.  What I believe does not negate nor support anything’s existence.  So what?  I do not claim ownership of the truth, I only seek it.  I have to go paint now. 
From the blood-sucking monster…with her siren-song playing sweetly

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By Ted Swart, December 30, 2007 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

Dr K.I.A you say:

” Humility is a human mindset

Humility is a human mindset in which one recognizes her/his flaws, fallibility, faults, her/his mortality and understands the limitations of her/his strengths, and her/his relative place in a gargantuan world.

I admit I don’t understand your remark about going down the fallopian tubes.

I don’t believe that heaven and hell exist, either, but that doesn’t mean they don’t.  If they do, it could well be in some form people can’t understand.  I think much about religion has intentionally been made vague and unfathomable in order to keep people in wonder and awe, if they’re so inclined.  I often think about how cleverly crafted it is.

You may not believe in heaven or hell but that alone doesn’t negate their existence.  You believe, or have faith, that you are right in your denial.  I think you are too.  But that doesn’t give either of us ownership of the truth.”

Your definition of humility sounds reasonable but I don’t understand why you feel it necessary to cling to the possibility of H&T;—even in some form people cannot understand. If the words heaven and hell are to retain any meaning at all then hell must continue to refer to an undesirable place or state of punishment/torture—for supposed sins of false belief and faulty actions. And heaven must be a place which rewards correct beliefs and appropriate behaviour.
I see no reason to entertain even the possibility of such places. It is all tied in with belief in a phony God.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, December 30, 2007 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

Humility is a human mindset in which one recognizes her/his flaws, fallibility, faults,  her/his mortality and understands the limitations of her/his strengths, and her/his relative place in a gargantuan world.

I admit I don’t understand your remark about going down the fallopian tubes.

I don’t believe that heaven and hell exist, either, but that doesn’t mean they don’t.  If they do, it could well be in some form people can’t understand.  I think much about religion has intentionally been made vague and unfathomable in order to keep people in wonder and awe, if they’re so inclined.  I often think about how cleverly crafted it is. 

You may not believe in heaven or hell but that alone doesn’t negate their existence.  You believe, or have faith, that you are right in your denial.  I think you are too.  But that doesn’t give either of us ownership of the truth.

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By Ted Swart, December 30, 2007 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

Yes. You did tell me and it turned out exactly as you said it would.  I think YouTube is a terrible time wasting menace and DC is incredibly superficial and very far form being lucid.  I suppose it is a case of venting without any real substance.

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By Shenonymous, December 30, 2007 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

See I told you Ted.  All Chamberpot can do is watch youtube videos and post unending pontificating comments, and nasty remarks about me on TD.  Dear me.  He’s just sorry he can’t come within spitting distance of my circle of friends.  Don’t mind him.  He is a zero and doesn’t count.

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By Douglas Chalmers, December 30, 2007 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

A lemming by any other name, uhh…...

By Ted Swart, December 30: “Thank you She… for referring to my comments as “lucid”. I try to make three so but am not sure I always succeed. As for DC (mistakenly referred to as DM by you) I think that any words of wisdom hidden in his writing is spoilt by his crude denigration of others…”

Ha ha, another mere male goes willingly crawling on his knees to his fate with the blood-sucking monster….... her siren-song playing sweetly in his ears… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrRha3s19MI&mode=related&search;= You must know that you’re an idiot, TS!

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By Ted Swart, December 30, 2007 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

Thank you She… for referring to my comments as “lucid”. I try to make three so but am not sure I always succeed. As for DC (mistakenly referred to as DM by you) I think that any words of wisdom hidden in his writing is spoilt by his crude denigration of others
As far as misogyny is concerned I do believe that some progress has been made—largely not because of religion but despite it.  My wife and I have four children—three girls and a boy. The youngest two—a boy and a girl—are twins.  And don’t let anybody try and persuade me that boys and girls are not—by and large—different in their outlook and interaction with the world.  The girl has ended up as a family physician and the boy is an electrical engineer. And I assure you we did not steer them in any direction.
The reason I say that there has been some progress is that there was a time in Canada—not all that long ago—when it was virtually impossible for a woman to become a doctor.
Now there are more females than males in med school.
There are actually some pockets of religion that have been even handed in their attitude towards men an woman. I can point to the Quakers who ever since their beginnings in the 1650s have given men and woman equal status. I speak from firs hand experience having been a Quaker for many years. They have no priests/ministers no creeds and no bible worship.
Have checked the article on misogyny in Wikipedia and it seems to be well written and even handed.

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By Shenonymous, December 30, 2007 at 9:08 am Link to this comment

Ted Swart.  Dec. 29 2:59pm
One of my self-imposed objectives in life is to point out absurdities and absurd thinking minds.  I often couch my comments in hyperbole and humor, but unfortunately the many do not comprehend the one.  Their loss not mine.  There frequently are seeds of truth in humor.  Try George Carlin for one.  I do appreciate your lucid comments and hope that you stick around for some fun.  But you’d better be careful, as DC will accuse you of consorting with the evil woman who sucks the blood out of minds.

Misogyny – now why would I want to discuss this to any length, being a woman and all, and only the object of a clear case of prejudice against women of late on these various TD forums?  I often speak out, as a freethinker, in antagonism against specious beliefs that have done the world great harm in the last 2000 or so years.  The hatred and fear of women is at least as old as recorded history.  If you are at all interested you might check out the Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misogyny
and the book: “Misogyny, Misandry, and Misanthropy” at
http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft809nb586/
and all the chapters listed.

My personal conflict is not only against Christianity that has proven to the world over and over again how vicious it can be with its death dealing policies, but both Islam and Judaism that both have murdered thousands if not millions of people, both guilty and the innocent under the guise of religion.  Judaism, contrary to the belief of the Jews, does not hold the only ticket to righteous paradise.  None of the religions of Abraham do.  All that notwithstanding, it has been absolute hell for women in the 30,000 years of mankind.  Now is the time for humankind and misogyny is going to stop.  It has to be rooted out as an infection would in an abscessed tooth.  For gynophobia is an abscess and pestilence originating in the hearts and minds of men.  The subordination of women to men is an abomination of the absolute highest order.  For instance just this morning on another religion forum, The Evangelical Rebellion, a sniveling commenter posted this comment:  “I do not hate women as you suppose, I love women and believe they should be treated with respect as the bible says,[sic] However, by the same token, women are suppose to be respectful of men…Women are to be submissive unto men as men are submissive unto Christ, as Christ is over the Church…” and “If a woman desires to act like a man, then they should be treated as such…” Please make note of the blatant contradiction and what is so astonishing is that the writer has no cognizance of his own philistine conclusions.  Women certainly do not need his kind of love; they would all have to be submissive.

Why he is so consumed with his own pathetic voice that he cannot even see his antipodean comments.  When the sound of one’s own voice becomes so loud that the rest of the world is inaudible then it is time to shove such beings over the precipice of the big picture, by whatever means necessary.

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