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31
I haven't forgotten about your responses.  I am, however, taking the weekend to mull your positions/statements over. :)

32
General / Re: Christian Anarchy is the only sensible answer...
« on: January 24, 2010, 03:02:43 PM »
I don't disagree with most of what you said.  I take all "history" as suspect, even the collection of writings we call "The Bible".

A fair position.

I do, however believe that it is quite accurate (maybe 95%). 

Again, I think this a dangerous position to take when discussing/debating/peruading the benefits of Christian Anarchy as the only sensible answer, because it's again premised on an arbitrary declaration, and because of that it opens the argument up to being called out as fallacious.

So I have to determine for myself what writings I believe to be true.  Many will call this "cherry picking" but I call it reality. 

...but then you say this and I'm almost inclined to "forgive" the potential pitfall of your previous statement for a simple reason:  At least you're being honest about it .  You acknowledge that some fundamental underpinnings of your argument rely on acceptance of arbitrary and unprovable statements.

Fair enough - at that point Individuals will either accept, reject or question the positions further.


Anything written in a different language and time and then translated to current language will have inaccuracies.

Absolutely.

This is where I use my own life experiences and understanding of the creation come to play.  Ultimately we all interpret the creation from our own perspective. 

Also fair, but I would encourage you to be ever wary of the Fallacy of Personal Experience.

For this reason, I tolerate all belief systems even those I find abhorrent to me since their perspective has led them to where they are.  I can try to change their perspective by sharing my own, but that has only a minor affect on their lives...

You know what, Gene?  This is by far the smartest and most insightful thing I've ever seen you write.



edit: removed a redundant word, "be" because it repeated itself - thus being redundant.

33
General / Re: Questions for the believers
« on: January 24, 2010, 02:40:33 PM »
I don't base my belief of G-d on gaps of science.

String theory is unproven.

String Theory is nutty cult crap for physicists.  I don't buy it.

Wow, gentlemen - that's some pretty harsh (and slightly ironic) statements.  Would this mean then I could then be justified to summarily attack/dismiss your viewpoints as completely and utterly invalid with the same tone of righteous indignation as I seem to be reading by simply:

I don't base my belief of G-d on gaps of science unsubstantiated declarative statements.

String theory G-d is unproven.

String Theory G-d is nutty cult crap for physicists believers.  I don't buy it.


I have to be frank in that I'm a little disappointed that these statements don't seem to indicate an approach of giving differing viewpoints that have about as much "proven" as yours or any religion/faith with the same level of (at least) respect that I would assume you would at least like others to give you when talking about Judaism. :|

34
General / Re: Pictures of Your Pets!
« on: January 22, 2010, 08:53:02 PM »
KITTAY!!




                                                                    Runs>>>>




 :(




35
General / Re: Questions for the believers
« on: January 22, 2010, 04:35:52 PM »
I'm gonna play "Devil's advocate" for the sake of exploration

I would say that Mormonism is far closer to being a cult than Judaism for several reasons.  It was based on following the words of a specific individual.  

Would not "following the word of God" also satisfy this criteria as God is a single entity?

It has an organized religious hierarchy.  Judaism has neither of these.

What is the role of the Rabbi's in religious landscape in contrast the "average" practitioner of Judaism? (Honestly curious)

36
If God is above human understanding, thus preventing him man from ascribing attributes to his creator, then how does this individual even recognize God's presence in their life?

God is everything in the Universe, so while we can understand parts of the Universe we cannot understand the whole.  We can recognize God's presence in our lives by simply looking around and seeing stuff that exists in the Universe. 

Hmmm.... let me see if I can distill to explore why this doesn't quite sit right with me:

1. God is everything in the Universe,
2. God understands the "whole",
3. Humans are in the Universe,

therefore:

A. Humans must be God. (#1 and #3 -> A)
B. Humans must understand the "whole" (#2 and A -> B)

If human beings are God, then how is it that all humans don't claim to "feel God's presence?"  Moreover, why would supposed aspects/parts of God constantly use Okham's Razor when addressing this - claiming that it's a far simpler explanation that the Universe is a collection of discrete mechanical processes that are independent of "God's hand/maintenance?"  (Again, not a knock - just honestly seeking clarity and answers)

It seems to me that you're also Affirming the Consequent with the fundamental implication/premise that, "God exists because the Universe is God therefore God exists," in order for this viewpoint to function.  It is a potential that I am misreading this, and if so I apologize.  However, how can we refine what you said in order to avoid this potentially negative reading from a logical standpoint?

I must admit that if this thread has shown me anything, is that I did not realize just how pantheistic Judaism can be - and I (apparently incorrectly) considered this a hallmark of the Eastern philosophies

We can get a deeper understanding by studying science and learning more of the most concrete rules that we physically cannot break.

Does this give us deeper understanding of God and His true being, or clarity in the mechanical ruleset set forth by the constraints of this physicality/reality?

Quote
I don't see how giving us free will makes G-d less Omnipotent.


Alright, let me try to step you through this again:

* Omnipotence means God controls all - (#16) - a statement you agreed to.
* Fee-will and the ability to reject God's covenant - as well as other acts in the Old testament - show the capability for Humans to defy God's will
* ergo - God does not control all
* ergo - God is not Omnipotent, for God (willfully or not) does NOT control all.

Do you have a counter-supposition for this train of statements?  If so - then you need to provide for me a counter set that reconciles how God can control all but not the will of Man and still control All.

Like I said before, we are free to act however we wish so long as we do not break the basic laws of physics set by God at creation.  God controls the rules of the universe, but does not reach down and cause certain people to behave certain ways with some kind of controlling arm.  God "controls" us via science by setting physical restrictions, but that is the limit in my opinion.

Interesting.  I appreciate the fact that you're not being afraid to grip the questions and attempt to answer them head on, regardless of whether or not each of us agree with the viewpoints/premises of the other.  For that I give you credit.

I want to first however, call your attention to this:

God "controls" us via science by setting physical restrictions, but that is the limit in my opinion.

You used a very interesting word here:  limit - indicating that there is some "boundary" that God is either unwilling or unable to cross.  So my response to this, unfortunately, is another question:

Can a being that which is Omnipotent and Omniscient have limits?

37
General / Re: Pictures of Your Pets!
« on: January 22, 2010, 03:51:46 PM »
Here's mine.  Her name's Jelly, and she's very spoiled.



38
Alright, let me try to step you through this again:

* Omnipotence means God controls all - (#16) - a statement you agreed to.
* Fee-will and the ability to reject God's covenant - as well as other acts in the Old testament - show the capability for Humans to defy God's will
* ergo - God does not control all
* ergo - God is not Omnipotent, for God (willfully or not) does NOT control all.

What if you look at it from a pantheistic perspective?

I would posit that a pantheistic view of God and Universe is not a representative view of the Abrahamic faiths (as this is tends to much more of an Eastern philosophy/metaphysical viewpoint), but if you wish I'm sure we can discuss the possibilities and see where this leads us.

Your supposition implies that god and humans are separate.

It does - but the supposition, as is the point of the thread - is representative of the contemporary beliefs of the faithful.  A core metaphysical viewpoint of most Western religions and spiritual philosophies follows the model of God as Universal Architect, with the Universe and it's contents His resulting creation, often summarized as The World as Artifact.

A pantheistic perspective has a few other resulting questions regarding the perfection or ultimate goodness of God when attempting to fit this idea into a western dogma.

sample / example:

1. God is perfect
2. All things are a part of God
3. Human beings are a part of God
4. Human beings are imperfect

If God is all, wouldn't anything a human decides to do be "god's will"?

Then this would invalidate 17(a). Human beings possess free-will - as the Human will would in fact be God's will.  Again, this view is a more eastern kind of philosophy - and in fact is a core tenant of Hinduism, who believe that all things are merely aspects of Brahman, or the "eternal self," who is Universal, Eternal, boundless and indescribable.

It's an interesting notion, and it's also one that I've heard presented by a couple of Christian speakers.  In an attempt to reconcile free-will with God's Omni properties, they liken free-will to that of centrifugal force - a fictional observation as a result of the observer's frame of reference.  This position posits that like this force, free-will is "valid" from our frame of reference because our limited minds/souls are incapable of experience the Universe and it's properties in a comprehensive manner that God (apparently) is able to.

As such - from a "truth statement" perspective - both would hold true from our frame of reference:  Humans, as a result of their experiencing of space and time have this thing we refer to as "free-will" - the ability to make choices.  However, in the comprehensive context of God, where space and time are experienced in a fundamentally different and comprehensive manner, this "free-will" is in fact, and illusion.


39
General / Re: Questions for the believers
« on: January 22, 2010, 12:10:43 PM »
Yours is older so you win.  Judaism goes waaaay back.  You know back before god was cool. 

This is something that I've actually been thinking about for a while in regards to the "life cycles" of organized religions.  However, there is something to be said about the what seems to be the staying power of Abrahamic Religions.  Granted, I'll admit that this thread, and most of our discussions relating to these have a decidedly western bend to them; as Hinduism also has a significant number of followers and a lengthy history as well.

40
Quote
The Rambam writes in his Guide for the Perplexed that when the Torah uses figures of speech like "G-ds hand" it does so because there is no other way of relating to the concept of what just happened.

Nice dodge.

You completely side-stepped all of my quotations and replaced with "God's hand," thus not even attempting to answer the question posed to Admiral Naismith.  Nonetheless:

So you would say that were I to find a translation anywhere in the Old Testament where God related to either Moses or another prophet or individual that says, "Thou shalt have no other God before me, for I am a Jealous God," or any other portion where the terms wrath, vengence, or any adjective that could be described as emotive... those would be inaccurate, correct?

(Let's try to actually answer this with something resembling a yes or no if possible) 

Quote
2.Please reformat question.

1st part is not a question, it was a statement and observation.  However:


If God is above human understanding, thus preventing him man from ascribing attributes to his creator, then how does this individual even recognize God's presence in their life?


Quote
I don't see how giving us free will makes G-d less Omnipotent.

Alright, let me try to step you through this again:

* Omnipotence means God controls all - (#16) - a statement you agreed to.
* Fee-will and the ability to reject God's covenant - as well as other acts in the Old testament - show the capability for Humans to defy God's will
* ergo - God does not control all
* ergo - God is not Omnipotent, for God (willfully or not) does NOT control all.

Do you have a counter-supposition for this train of statements?  If so - then you need to provide for me a counter set that reconciles how God can control all but not the will of Man and still control All.


Quote
I don't know what you mean by "chosen".

Chosen: Those who benefit from God's covenant; or those whose souls wind up in [BETTER] in the afterlife; redeemed.

My counter-suggestion - anytime you see a term where you could potentially infer the meaning I'm driving at, and that meaning would be consistent with the rest of the points/questions I'm asking - if possible, try to give me the benefit of doubt.



Further note:  You are cherry-picking statements, assigning them numbers while leaving older numbers which are the same in post - causing potential confusion.  I suggest rather than continue with your number assignment after quoting the entire post, which I find adds to the tedium of checking-cross checking to ensure I'm referring to the "right number," that you break up the posts and respond accordingly.

. . .

I'll be frank - at the moment your posts read to me more as efforts of litigious obfuscation rather than moving forward and trying to finalize an agreeable "starting point" progress can be made, as even in your original post - you did not answer either question - but simply asnwered 'yes' or 'not really,' rather than answer questions #2  I have reposted it here to refresh your memory:


What's wrong with the following statements and how do they need to be clarified to accurately reflect the beliefs of the faithful?



Perhaps that's because you're used to the rabid atheists looking to assault your faith, or I could be completely off-base and reading into something that isn't there.  Perhaps you think I'm looking to invalidate your faith - which if the 15+ years of engaging in these types of conversations have taught me anything it is that this would be impossible - had I an actual opinion to try and convert you over to. :|

41
Quote
Heretical and fallacious to ascribe human emotions to God.  So neither yes nor no, bad question.

How does the Jewish Holy books get away with this when talking about God's wrath and Jealousy? Are those not human emotions too?

Quote
I have seen no evidence of an afterlife for anyone besides Elijah in the Torah, so this question is not directed at me.

Then we need to clear up what you refer to as "the World to Come," and how your soul plays into that.

Quote
Not sure what "Saved" is.

See above.

42
I'll answer your query from my opinion on 15,16,17.

God created the universe and set the laws of physics at that point and is in effect everything in the universe and more.  To that extent he is the universal architect and omnipresent and omnipotent.  But that doesn't mean that he is reaching in and controlling anything at all beyond the laws of physics as we know them.  So that means that there is no conflict between human beings having free will and God being an omnipotent Universal Architect beyond the fact that we literally cannot violate God's most concrete laws (the laws of physics).

This is an interesting answer.  It's also one I've heard of before, and while it's possible - it doesn't necessarily address the potential conflict, but also has another interesting resultant.

  • Assuming existence is proven, there's an objective answer to God's omnipotence:
    Either God in full control or he isn't - and again, choosing to forgo control and "allow for choice" means he willfully relinquishes his omnipotence.


but this then bring up:

  • 15.God is Omnipotent,
    14. Upon creation of the soul, God knows whether the individual will go to [BETTER] or [WORSE]
    17(a). Human beings possess free-will


    If 'laws of physics' - as you put it - cannot be broken - do we really have free will?
    ... or am I being forced to select from a multiple choice scan-tron of life options?  How can I be truly independent of will if I cannot choose to go oblivion rather than [BETTER] or [WORSE]?  How could I possibly make a decision to affect #14 is all of my "choices" have not already been accounted for upon the creation of my soul?

43
I don't agree with ascribing human attributes to God. 

Fair. However, the Bible, and more to the point - the vast majority of the faithful - uses these attributes all the time when describing God.  "Jealous" "loving" "vengeful" "wroth" . . . would you postulate then that holy books with these types of adjectives are thusly invalidated then, or that those claiming to be of the faithful are mistaken in their assertations?

God is above all of that and far too complicated for humans to be able to ascribe such traits.

...but apparently not so complicated that He/She/It speaks to various people and prophets.  In fact I have read on this very forum from the faithful that their relationship with God is personal and direct.  If God is above human understanding, thus preventing him from ascribing attributes to his creator, then how does this individual even recognize God's presence in their life?

Personally - I find your position much more compelling, but this is a very decidedly Daoist take on God/Divinity, to quote Lao Tsu from the Dao De Jing:


The Dao that can be named is not the true and eternal Dao.




Diogenes The Cynic:

  • 2. God wants the "best" for everyone,
    7. A Segregated afterlife exists,
    14. Upon creation of the soul, God knows whether the individual will go to [BETTER] or [WORSE]

    If these statements are true, all of which you agreed to - how is it possible that God wants the "best" for an individuals soul if upon creation, He knows that he is creating a soul due to be (for Christians) suffering eternally in Hell, or (for Jews) to not know God and be distant from him in the World to Come?  We can use "best" and "redeemed" interchangeably I think depending on which denomination we're talk to.


The obvious:
  • 15.God is Omnipotent
    16.God, as the Universal Architect, controls All.,
    17(a). Human beings possess free-will

    How can God control All, but not be in control of the will of humans?  The only way this logically makes sense if he chooses to relinquish that power and inso doing also relinquishes his omnipotence.  As a summation, I would posit that: "Omnipotence - free will != Omnipotence"


Prior to proceeding further - I think we need to reach a consensus on:

1. God loves everyone. - Is this an accurate reflection of the faithful?

4. God wants everyone to be "saved."

10. Either "eternal bliss in the Kingdom of Heaven" or "eternal suffering / longing in the lake of fire," gives a pretty good summation of this:  I notice you didn't enumerate the following clause - would you agree to this then:

10(alternate):  However, even a more moderated "distance from God," belief (commonly held by the Jewish) still implies a negative connotation, that for the rest of eternity, your afterlife is defined by "not knowing God," or being a part of his chosen.

If not, how can we square this to be an accurate reflection for the purposes of discussion?

44
1.  I don't know if that is true.
2.  Yes.
3.  No. A person can spend their merits now, and not have any principle for the world to come.
4.  I don't know what you mean by saved.
5.  See #4
6.  See #5
7.  Yes
8.  Yes
9.  It is not permanent, but it is profound.
10. Not really.
11. Yes
12. Yes
13. Yes, but you still have free will.
14. Yes
15. Yes
16. Yes
17. Right, but rejecting doesn't mean it no longer exists. Its akin to not following a law you don't like. You can still get busted for it, and with G-d, there is perfect recall of indiscretions.

  • Saved: The the soul in question in winds up in [BETTER] for the Afterlife, or as you put it "World to Come;" Winding up in position where the soul experiences that which is defined by the religion, "redeemed."


Excellent.

1. How can #2, #7, #8 and #12 - #17 all be true at the same time?

If you require the questions laid out explicitly, let me know and I will outline them.

45
General / Re: Questions for the believers
« on: January 21, 2010, 07:10:21 PM »
even though I'm agnostic
Isn't it possible to be an agnostic believer or an agnostic atheist?

There's a big spectrum, but yes.  I would be slightly closer to an "agnostic believer" as you put it, because the concept of God is not anathema to me, but think I still remain closer to the Strong Agnostic - which is summed as "Mankind will never be able to prove/disprove God's existence objectively ever..... until you're dead - and therefore I cannot draw a decisive conclusion on whether to believe either way."

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