Atheism and the Abrahamic Religions

Nick_A

Interfaith Forums
Messages
2,264
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Hi All

Will asks Resigned on the Face of god thread:

Namaste Resigned,

Both you and enlightenment baffle me.

Why do you participate in an interfaith site? This is the Abrahamic section, "Neutral discussion area for topics that cross-over between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam." So are you Christian or Jewish or Muslim? What is your interest in discussing these traditions?

To which Resigned responds:

I can only speak for me. I participate on this site, as I quite enjoy it. It is almost secondary to me if I beleive in god or not. Or whether I am of one of the Abrahamic faiths.

Fact is, I happen to be interested in the psychology of those that do believe. I often speak about these faiths, to friends and others.

When I do, I believe it is MY duty to be as informed as possible.

I find that many here provide me with that information.

That's about it, really.

Is there a way the true believer can profit from this attitude? I believe there is.
These people question the basis of a belief in God. If it is done without the typical Richard Dawkins attitudes, hostility, and shouting down techniques, I don't have a problem with it. What is wrong with asking a believer why they believe and questioning the nature of belief itself? I can see why some wouldn't like it but whether it should be encouraged is an open question depending upon subjective attitudes.

As usual Simone is annoyingly right in this matter since she will piss off the atheist as well as the fundamentalist. She observed:

Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith; and in this sense atheism is a purification. I have to be an atheist with that part of myself which is not made for God. Among those in whom the supernatural part of themselves has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong.
- Simone Weil, Faiths of Meditation; Contemplation of the divine
the Simone Weil Reader, edited by George A. Panichas (David McKay Co. NY 1977) p 417
That is why St. John of the Cross calls faith a night. With those who have received a Christian education, the lower parts of the soul become attached to these mysteries when they have no right at all to do so. That is why such people need a purification of which St. John of the Cross describes the stages. Atheism and incredulity constitute an equivalent of such a purification.
- Simone Weil, Faiths of Meditation; Contemplation of the divine
the Simone Weil Reader, edited by George A. Panichas (David McKay Co. NY 1977) p 418

The atheist helps us to see how we've lost the essence of the teaching and how it has been adopted by the "world" and its essence destroyed through the believer's misunderstandings, pride, and vanity.

Resigned denies and it helps me to experience the nature of denial from the the worldly perspective. The better my experience with denial the more it serves as a "purification" for me and helps me to recognize both the domain of God and Caesar within me.

Granted I only speak for myself here but it is why IMO respectful expressions of denial from a need to understand are actually beneficial if they help the believer to see more clearly where they may have gone wrong.

 
Wrong! Please re-read the thread.

My mistake. I should have written Enlightenment rather than Resigned. I was referring to how Will mentioned both of you so quoted enlightenments words as yours. But regardless, I do believe that atheism can serve as a purification for the human potential for a conscious, spiritual, perspective by asking the natural questions.
 
I agree it can help in many ways, it makes my faith stronger when challenged, it makes me study my faith rather than just float along with the scant knowledge I have and it challenges me to question, in a positive way, my personal beliefs, my faith as a religion and the way I communicate with others.

That said I would be much happier responding to questions rather than incorrect statements about my faith. If people have a genuine desire to understand Muslim life then I am happy to spend all night answering their questions but insults and constant negative bombardment simply make me want to say "why bother" and hang up my keyboard. My faith would not be lessened by not participating and I would feel less disparaged on a regular basis .. does anyone need to be constantly critisiced and insulted?!
 
I agree it can help in many ways, it makes my faith stronger when challenged, it makes me study my faith rather than just float along with the scant knowledge I have and it challenges me to question, in a positive way, my personal beliefs, my faith as a religion and the way I communicate with others.

That said I would be much happier responding to questions rather than incorrect statements about my faith. If people have a genuine desire to understand Muslim life then I am happy to spend all night answering their questions but insults and constant negative bombardment simply make me want to say "why bother" and hang up my keyboard. My faith would not be lessened by not participating and I would feel less disparaged on a regular basis .. does anyone need to be constantly critisiced and insulted?!

Hi Muslimwoman

But consider what Simone Weil is saying here. It is far more than just intellectually defending a faith. she wrote:

Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith; and in this sense atheism is a purification. I have to be an atheist with that part of myself which is not made for God. Among those in whom the supernatural part of themselves has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong.

Do you consider your supernatural part awakened? if not, how are we to know the atheist isn't closer to the truth then an intellectual defense of what we want to believe?

As one with a great deal of respect for Christianity, I know how many defend it from what I believe to be a misguided appreciation of faith which only creates inner slavery.

The atheist calls us to admit our hypocrisy. That in itself is purifying. We speak of religion but have we experienced its basics? In the words of the most highly esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin:

"Show me the elephant the blind man has seen, and only then will I believe that you have really seen a fly."

That is the trouble with defense. Often we defend our self justification at the expense of depth of our teachings with such fervor, we never see the fly.
 
Perhaps without realising it I understand what Simone is saying ... about 4 days I said to my husband "I know without doubt that Allah exists .. I just don't know if I believe in him"

I thought perhaps I was losing my mind or worse still my faith but maybe it is the natural athiest within speaking?
 
Hi All

Will asks Resigned on the Face of god thread:



To which Resigned responds:



Is there a way the true believer can profit from this attitude? I believe there is.
These people question the basis of a belief in God. If it is done without the typical Richard Dawkins attitudes, hostility, and shouting down techniques, I don't have a problem with it. What is wrong with asking a believer why they believe and questioning the nature of belief itself? I can see why some wouldn't like it but whether it should be encouraged is an open question depending upon subjective attitudes.

As usual Simone is annoyingly right in this matter since she will piss off the atheist as well as the fundamentalist. She observed:



The atheist helps us to see how we've lost the essence of the teaching and how it has been adopted by the "world" and its essence destroyed through the believer's misunderstandings, pride, and vanity.

Resigned denies and it helps me to experience the nature of denial from the the worldly perspective. The better my experience with denial the more it serves as a "purification" for me and helps me to recognize both the domain of God and Caesar within me.

Granted I only speak for myself here but it is why IMO respectful expressions of denial from a need to understand are actually beneficial if they help the believer to see more clearly where they may have gone wrong.

Honestly, Nick, do you really need the views of an Atheist to validate your religious faith?

All of your testimony presupposes that your god is the true god. All religions make this claim. I see nothing that advances your claim above the others.

Big bang, evolution, science ... these are all things I can source with reasoned, written arguments from well-considered, peer reviewed scholars. Faith on the other hand ... well, I think I'll let the more courageous souls here trailblaze that watery path across the sea. When it comes to "evidence of things unseen" ... the examples devolve quickly into personal experience, which, by the way forms the basis of my comments ... but that'll wait.

Let the new revelation illuminate the old, cast aside prejudices, the truth can stand the closest scrutiny.

We both have our a priori assumptions (everyone does), and though some may accuse me of it, I am not dogmatic in the least! I recognize and in fact trumpet the fluid nature of science, that knowledge grows and changes and tomorrow facts we think we know may get re-written. I find that exhilarating, not oppressive. But theists are the ones who believe in a less or not-at-all fluidity of their worldviews. And if anything aggravates me, it's theists who do not realize their "immutable word" -- in reality -- is just as likely to be changed as any tenet of science.


You find cohesion into assigning to the ultimate level a personable, intelligent being who authored things to be as they are. The flaw I have with that faith is that it turns around on itself:

You are arguing that intelligence and order cannot come out of chaos, and so it needs to have come from an ordered/intelligent metaphysical being. But you premise collapses from its assertion because you are left with having to account for the intelligence that seems to have sprung up out of nowhere in any event. You are saying your problem is solved by your problem.

Now in fact that is totally fine with me-- I'm not here to tell you, you are wrong about embracing that belief, anymore than I am wrong embracing the belief that it's not needed that there be a "designer".

The second problem with the assertion is that even if intelligence is at the core, that doesn't support a contention of a god or any sort of eternal being. It still doesn't account for an approachable, loving, involved god, nor does it account for the Judeo-Christian god-- it could be any number of gods, or ones that haven't been con-or-perceived yet, or it could have been a "god" with a limited lifespan (and is now dead). So still the atheist has cause (good cause in fact) to not embrace the theistic paradigm.


 
All of your testimony presupposes that your god is the true god.


What is a "true god" anyway? Isn't the word "god" or "God" just a term, name, label or title for a being worshipped as powerful, as a provider of something people value?

All religions make this claim. I see nothing that advances your claim above the others.


Religions don't necessarily claim anything. A religion can merely be just a matter of individual and communal identity. Take, for example, Judaism and Wicca. You could, perhaps say the same for Christianity, but it depends on who you ask.

If it is not religion that makes claims, it is people claiming that their religion makes claims.

Faith on the other hand ... well, I think I'll let the more courageous souls here trailblaze that watery path across the sea. When it comes to "evidence of things unseen" ... the examples devolve quickly into personal experience, which, by the way forms the basis of my comments ... but that'll wait.


Again, "faith" doesn't claim any evidence. People just have a habit of using the word "evidence" to justify their faith over the opposing view of some atheist/areligious concept like science.

But theists are the ones who believe in a less or not-at-all fluidity of their worldviews. And if anything aggravates me, it's theists who do not realize their "immutable word" -- in reality -- is just as likely to be changed as any tenet of science.

What makes you think adherents of Abrahamic faiths do not see their respective religions as fluid? Have you asked each and every one of us how we approach our peer-reviewed traditions? Have you asked the Rabbis of Judaism? What about Catholic spiritual leaders?

What you say about theists is most true of fundamentalist Christians, and I've got the impression that you are basing your views about theism on this one group of people who aren't representative of all of us!

You are arguing that intelligence and order cannot come out of chaos, and so it needs to have come from an ordered/intelligent metaphysical being. But you premise collapses from its assertion because you are left with having to account for the intelligence that seems to have sprung up out of nowhere in any event. You are saying your problem is solved by your problem.


Fair enough, but that doesn't mean there is no God.:) Even if God was a self-emerging entity, that wouldn't make him less of a God, would it?

It still doesn't account for an approachable, loving, involved god, nor does it account for the Judeo-Christian god-- it could be any number of gods, or ones that haven't been con-or-perceived yet, or it could have been a "god" with a limited lifespan (and is now dead). So still the atheist has cause (good cause in fact) to not embrace the theistic paradigm.

People have a preconceived notion of the Abrahamic God depicted in literature, particularly the fundamentalist Christians, who believe that this God was a believer in moral absolutes.

That may not be true of the Abrahamic God. I'm starting to think that no, he could well be a nihilist, and all he wants is to reclaim what belongs to him. If he did indeed make the planet on which we live, he's entitled to claim ownership of it.

The Abrahamic God isn't set in stone as some would believe. Because he has been depicted in literature, and all literature is open to interpretation, that means that this Abrahamic God can have any number of definitions.

It could all be part of a peer-reviewed tradition.
 
Perhaps without realising it I understand what Simone is saying ... about 4 days I said to my husband "I know without doubt that Allah exists .. I just don't know if I believe in him"

I thought perhaps I was losing my mind or worse still my faith but maybe it is the natural athiest within speaking?

A very honest observation. I've had the same experiences. We are dual natured beings that have a spiritual part and as worldly part. Our heart that should reflect our spiritual part is suppressed by all the acquired negative emotions of our worldly selves creating this disconnect between the sacred and the secular. It is perfectly natural to be conflicted in our beliefs. It is the same in the Bible.

Mark 9:

23" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
24Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Real belief is at a very deep level of our being, a kind of direct inner seeing. We live normally at shallow levels of our being so it is easy to experience a loss of this inner seeing.

Simone is suggesting what Rumi expresses.
[SIZE=-1]Fool’s gold exists because there is real gold. –Rumi.[/SIZE]

The atheist, if their concerns are genuine, helps us to awaken to the fools gold within our traditions. Genuine impartial contemplation can awaken our spiritual part which is the domain of real gold that touches what we "are" behind our normal mask.

Our trouble I've experienced is often that we seek to defend the expressions of fools gold in our traditions denying us the opportunity for our spiritual part to awaken.
 
Honestly, Nick, do you really need the views of an Atheist to validate your religious faith?

All of your testimony presupposes that your god is the true god. All religions make this claim. I see nothing that advances your claim above the others.

Big bang, evolution, science ... these are all things I can source with reasoned, written arguments from well-considered, peer reviewed scholars. Faith on the other hand ... well, I think I'll let the more courageous souls here trailblaze that watery path across the sea. When it comes to "evidence of things unseen" ... the examples devolve quickly into personal experience, which, by the way forms the basis of my comments ... but that'll wait.

Let the new revelation illuminate the old, cast aside prejudices, the truth can stand the closest scrutiny.

We both have our a priori assumptions (everyone does), and though some may accuse me of it, I am not dogmatic in the least! I recognize and in fact trumpet the fluid nature of science, that knowledge grows and changes and tomorrow facts we think we know may get re-written. I find that exhilarating, not oppressive. But theists are the ones who believe in a less or not-at-all fluidity of their worldviews. And if anything aggravates me, it's theists who do not realize their "immutable word" -- in reality -- is just as likely to be changed as any tenet of science.

You find cohesion into assigning to the ultimate level a personable, intelligent being who authored things to be as they are. The flaw I have with that faith is that it turns around on itself:

You are arguing that intelligence and order cannot come out of chaos, and so it needs to have come from an ordered/intelligent metaphysical being. But you premise collapses from its assertion because you are left with having to account for the intelligence that seems to have sprung up out of nowhere in any event. You are saying your problem is solved by your problem.

Now in fact that is totally fine with me-- I'm not here to tell you, you are wrong about embracing that belief, anymore than I am wrong embracing the belief that it's not needed that there be a "designer".

The second problem with the assertion is that even if intelligence is at the core, that doesn't support a contention of a god or any sort of eternal being. It still doesn't account for an approachable, loving, involved god, nor does it account for the Judeo-Christian god-- it could be any number of gods, or ones that haven't been con-or-perceived yet, or it could have been a "god" with a limited lifespan (and is now dead). So still the atheist has cause (good cause in fact) to not embrace the theistic paradigm.

Resigned

Honestly, Nick, do you really need the views of an Atheist to validate your religious faith?

It helps. To quote Rumi again:

[SIZE=-1]Fool’s gold exists because there is real gold. –Rumi.[/SIZE]

The atheist helps to point out the fools gold.

All of your testimony presupposes that your god is the true god. All religions make this claim. I see nothing that advances your claim above the others.

But what God is that? The Christian God is ineffable outside of time and space. Meister Eckhart provides a profound description

"The mind never rests but must go on expecting and preparing for what is yet known and what is still concealed. Meanwhile, man cannot know what God is, even though he be ever so well of what God is not; and an intelligent person will reject that. As long as it has no reference point, the mind can only wait as matter waits for him. And matter can never find rest except in form; so, too, the mind can never find rest except in the essential truth which is locked up in it--the truth about everything. Essence alone satisfied and God keeps on withdrawing, farther and farther away, to arouse the mind's zeal and lure it to follow and finally grasp the true good that has no cause. Thus, contented with nothing, the mind clamors for the highest good of all."
What does whose god have to do with it. The Absolute is either within time and space or outside. Simone Weil describes the same.
"It is only the impossible that is possible for God. He has given over the possible to the mechanics of matter and the autonomy of his creatures."


There can be only one objective God of the impossible. The rest is fantasy. The combination of Consciousness and mechanical laws are within Creation or time and space and create the possible. The only possible debate for me concerns the relationship between the godhead outside of time and space and the gods within it.

You are arguing that intelligence and order cannot come out of chaos, and so it needs to have come from an ordered/intelligent metaphysical being. But you premise collapses from its assertion because you are left with having to account for the intelligence that seems to have sprung up out of nowhere in any event. You are saying your problem is solved by your problem.

The Absolute IS. Existence in contrast is in time and space and the Absolute is outside of time and space or "Now" What seems to spring up out of nothing actually is an expression of no-thing or pure potential within which every-thing exists in potential or as lawful fractions of qualities of the Absolute.

How do you define "now?" What is it? How can science measure it? We know it exists yet it doesn't exist for us. So regardless of how frustrating it is to admit, science, as of now, has its limits.

Universal laws function within "Now." We can measure the results of these laws but how do we measure "Now?"

The point of all this isn't to get you to believe but to just consider that Real Gold may exist that science cannot measure. At the same time science can reveal the misconceptions of fools gold. This is why Simone respects the Atheist. It was from her atheism together with becoming more involved with Greek thought especially Plato that her atheism could contribute to developing her spiritual part to the degree that she became a Christian mystic.
.
No human being escapes the necessity of conceiving some good outside himself towards which his thought turns in a movement of desire, supplication, and hope. consequently, the only choice is between worshipping the true God or an idol. Every atheist is an idolater--unless he is worshipping the true God in his impersonal aspect. The majority of the pious are idolaters.
- Simone Weil, First and last notebooks (last notebook 1942)
(Oxford University Press 1970) p 308
 
There can be only one objective God of the impossible. The rest is fantasy. The combination of Consciousness and mechanical laws are within Creation or time and space and create the possible. The only possible debate for me concerns the relationship between the godhead outside of time and space and the gods within it.
I had put together a portion of a response and when I got to the part above, I realized I simply had no idea what it meant.
 
23" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
24Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Real belief is at a very deep level of our being, a kind of direct inner seeing. We live normally at shallow levels of our being so it is easy to experience a loss of this inner seeing.

Thank you so much for this Nick, big virtual hugs, you have no idea how it has eased my mind. The part in bold is exactly what I say in my prayers every day.

It is a very difficult thing to admit that you struggle with your spiritual and material self but I do on a daily basis and these words have shown me that clearly I am not alone.

My knowledge of G-d's existence is so deep in my core but my everyday mind struggles so with the belief system, questioning everything.

Our trouble I've experienced is often that we seek to defend the expressions of fools gold in our traditions denying us the opportunity for our spiritual part to awaken.

Exactly what I experience. I am so pleased I joined you on this thread, thank you.

As an aside, my husband took me to Cairo to buy some new books 2 days ago because my mind tends to flit from one subject to the next in my studies on the net, trying to take it all in at once. The plan is to work slowly through the Quran and Sunnah over the next year, simply ignoring anything that doesn't "speak" to that core spiritual being (when I say ignore, I mean write down in a list but do not look for meaning as yet) and make a spreadsheet of everything that does speak deep inside .. I can then review what I have at the end of each month and see whether I personally can identify what I personally feel is real gold or fools gold. Maybe I will post about it .. I know it isn't very scientific but we all have to start somewhere with our jihad.
 


What is a "true god" anyway? Isn't the word "god" or "God" just a term, name, label or title for a being worshipped as powerful, as a provider of something people value?

I can’t explain what a "true god" is or is not. There are so many definitions of god(s) that I certainly can’t catalog them all. Merely attempting to define a true god(s) would necessarily be dismissive of each and every one of the other assertions of god(s). Doing so could have some rather negative consequences to your health and wellbeing. Try this: stand on a street corner in the KSA and announce that allah is in fact NOT a provider of something people value. Post your results.

An irrational belief system is what has compelled you religious folks toward sliding swords into one another for over ten thousand years; burning at the stake those who don't agree with you, flying airplanes into buildings. All of this to prove that you, and only you, represent the true god(s). But you’re right, it’s just a label.



Religions don't necessarily claim anything. A religion can merely be just a matter of individual and communal identity. Take, for example, Judaism and Wicca. You could, perhaps say the same for Christianity, but it depends on who you ask.

If it is not religion that makes claims, it is people claiming that their religion makes claims.
So… you’re claiming that the belief system of Christianity doesn’t require belief in Jesus?

According to the very blueprint that introduces you to the very idea of the theism at all (let’s examine the bible) -- the only way to get to paradise according to the bible is you gotta accept Jesus. Everything else is revisionism and wishful thinking.

This doesn't mean I believe in any of this mythology as real (as an atheist I don't) it means it doesn't make sense to:

A. Use the bible as the source from where you heard about Jesus and God (or god(s) of your choosing) and salvation in the first place

only to

B. Dismiss what the bible says about Jesus and God in the first place in favor of something you'd like it to be instead of what it says it is.

So a coupla’ spins on it:

So let's say it's true, there are "many paths". Well, I'm an atheist. I don't believe in gods or saviors or demons. But I live a good life. I've even saved some people's lives. But I don't embrace Jesus at all. So I should go to hell because I don't believe? Okay, since I have lived a good life, then to heaven I go. Well, then what need is there for Jesus? None. So why should anyone bother being a Christian or in fact any religion at all? Why not all be well-behaved atheists?

Note this verse from the New Testament (KJV):

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

In other words, your acts don't matter. You're the greatest person in the world? Too bad -- you burn, heathen. Forever.

Okay, well, what about this scenario:

I'm an aborigine in the deepest jungles of New Guinea and neither I nor my dad has ever heard of Hey-Zeus Christ. Dad died a few years back and was a really terrific loving guy. Well, let's assume he went to heaven even though he didn't embrace Jesus (not knowing of him). I'm a good guy too -- but hey, here come some missionaries to tell me about JC. Now suddenly I know about this savior guy and I am asked to accept him. I say, "Naw, this sounds fishy to me". Well, thanks for giving me that choice kids because until you came around, I was going to go to heaven. Now I'm going straight to hell because you put that choice before me and I "chose" wrong! Thanks. Thanks again.

Well, not to worry, -- it doesn't matter if you know about Jesus or not because it's pretty straightforward:

John 3:3 - Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:7 - Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

1 Peter 1:23 - Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

John 6:35 - And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

John 8:12 - Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 9:5 - As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

John 10:7 - Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

And finally:

Mark 16:16 - He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Finally, lest anyone think I am focusing on the Bible alone, the above also holds true for the koran, The Bhagavad-Gita, The Book of Mormon, and so on. A book is simply that, a book. Until there is a way to connect a supernatural being with the authorship of a book, it's safe to assume that the book is, in fact, merely written by men.

Although now, we may be edging into that really bizarre world of Theism where some things you believe as literal, others not, which is really your garden variety of pick-and-choose what you want to believe. If you can say, "Well, Genesis is true but Pauline rules on women is not" (or whatever), well, then I can -- with equal "authority" -- by your own standards, say "Well, the siege of Jericho is true, but the resurrection is not". Such game playing with one's beliefs is certainly your right to do, but it only strips your argument of credibility, it doesn't support your case at all.






Again, "faith" doesn't claim any evidence. People just have a habit of using the word "evidence" to justify their faith over the opposing view of some atheist/areligious concept like science.
I agree, faith doesn’t claim evidence and it can not claim evidence. That's because faith isn't a tool-- it is a conclusion. Faith by definition is not a path to knowledge -- else, if the item is known, it no longer needs faith. If one can be said to "know there is a god" -- then of what need is there for faith?
Since reason won't suffice to support an irrational claim (i.e., supernatural beings being real, not fictional), one is forced into creating a "new method" by which one supports one's claims. Enter faith, theistically defined as the substance of things "hoped for"; the evidence of things not seen. I "hope for" a number of things-- but "hoping" is not enough-- there has to be evidence, and not evidence that is "not seen".



What makes you think adherents of Abrahamic faiths do not see their respective religions as fluid? Have you asked each and every one of us how we approach our peer-reviewed traditions? Have you asked the Rabbis of Judaism? What about Catholic spiritual leaders?
What I see are adherents of various faiths who tend to peel back the veneer of the faith as they interpret and re-interpret. No, I certainly haven’t asked every adherent of the Abrahamic faiths of their personal views. That would be impossible.

What you say about theists is most true of fundamentalist Christians, and I've got the impression that you are basing your views about theism on this one group of people who aren't representative of all of us!
You’re probably right. Although, the moment you break from the literal descriptions within any of the various holy texts, you fall into the circular loop of interpretation and what, if any, is the real interpretation. Which means, we’ve looped back to the issue of interpretation and translation but then we’d get in the problems with shoddy translation and why god would allow that, etc. (and that is a different thread)?


Why not simply be clear and do not allow for such confusion? Why is it that the theistic perspective offers a god who confounds us, but the materialist perspective offers one that makes sense-- a star is a million light years away because it's taken light a million years to get here. Simple. Explainable. Understandable. No need to assert mysterious beings using mysterious ways we can never know, precluding us from ever finding out.

Let’s explore this a bit further – the tendency to interpret length of days in the Genesis tale because this puts believers firmly on a slippery slope. The story doesn't indicate anything is particularly metaphorical-- it seems to be in the context of "This happened, then this happened". Suddenly you can play fast and loose with the term "day" (and I know there are numerous translations of the word "day" from the Hebrew and Greek, but then we'd get (yet again), in the problems with shoddy translation (yet again), and why god(s) would allow that. Well, if you can play fast and loose with the term "day", then so can anyone with... oh, the parting of the Red Sea. The Flood. The resurrection.

And yes, as a materialist, I can dissect the stories because I believe them to be wholly fabricated. Believers have a lot less latitude if you wish to assert a perfect god is the author of all of this, directly or otherwise.





Fair enough, but that doesn't mean there is no God.:) Even if God was a self-emerging entity, that wouldn't make him less of a God, would it?
No. It doesn’t mean there is no god and it’s possible for god(s) to be a self-emerging entity. Which god(s)? Is it your god(s) and not some other god(s)? Why?
All of this is nothing but pure assertion by a theist. There is no requirement for the universe to have a "creator" -- that is something you assert with no evidence based upon your bias to believe in a peculiar, sectarian version of god(s). You're certainly entitled to do that, but it is not any kind of an argument. It is purely an assertion and there are equally-"authoritative" assertions by other religious entities that are just as "viable" as yours. The only standard by which we can discern the truth is evidence, so please produce evidence to support A) your assertion and B) your assertion is true but the Hindu one for instance is not.




People have a preconceived notion of the Abrahamic God depicted in literature, particularly the fundamentalist Christians, who believe that this God was a believer in moral absolutes.

That may not be true of the Abrahamic God. I'm starting to think that no, he could well be a nihilist, and all he wants is to reclaim what belongs to him. If he did indeed make the planet on which we live, he's entitled to claim ownership of it.

The Abrahamic God isn't set in stone as some would believe. Because he has been depicted in literature, and all literature is open to interpretation, that means that this Abrahamic God can have any number of definitions.

It could all be part of a peer-reviewed tradition.
We’re in agreement in the sense that all is interpretation. For example, If Christians were willing to be objective; they would admit they have no corroboration that any of the gospels were authored by Luke, Matthew, Mark or John. They are simply accepting they were. So what happens if they were written by priests who were trying to codify messianic fervor of the time, and they did so writing a fictional account of a messiah? What if the real Jesus is an Essene priest who lived 100 years before? Suddenly that could explain a few things. I am suggesting that Jesus could be an amalgam of existing messiahs of the time, most notably a rabbi of the Essenes who lived about 100 years before what is commonly referred to as the years of Jesus Christ. If memory serves, there's biblical notation that the Jews did not initially reject the messiah, not until they discovered his way was not that of the sword.

 
Hi Muslimwoman

Thanks for a nice and sincere post. I'll give you a virtual hug in return if your husband doesn't get mad.

You've admitted something that is difficult for the secular mind to put into an inner vertical context which is what St. Paul said when he wrote of himself as the "wretched man" and as in conflict with himself in Romans 7:

14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
I know I am this way and if I read you right you've experienced this in yourself. Paul suggests that "I" refers to something deeply real in us where sin is just a reaction that "I" has no part of. This truly is profound psychology.

"I" then is something related to our soul but where is this "I" if we are always saying I am or do this and that. The "I" Paul refers to is not any of these psychological states that we define as "I"

For example is it better to say "I am angry," or that "Anger is within me?" Coming to experience that anger is within me rather then something I am, allows me to see how I lose this awareness of "I" that alone delights in the "good" from the unconditioned depth of my being.

The atheist doesn't experience the verticality of the struggle. They explain it logically but don't see that Paul is referring to the variable vertical states of being, what we "are," rather than choice of reactions on the same level.

When I was young I was turned off by the attitudes of the church. It didn't make sense to me that any sort of supreme being would give two hoots about my own pettiness and the pettiness of those around me. Naturally the church did not like such questions. Why is the third commandment of taking God's name in vain so important. Does God get insulted. It just didn't make any sense.

Finally in my explorations I learned the deeper esoteric meaning of this commandment. The word "God" has a connotation to us that can be felt at the depth of our being and serve as part of our awakening. Whenever we cheapen it as within swearing expressions or in ridicule, the energy of the word feeds our lower nature depriving us of our potential for awakening. The inner meaning or the depth of the commandment serves as a help for those that are involved with this inner jihad or the struggle between the higher and lower of our collective natures that we experience as the "middle" that connects them. This middle which as understand it is the beginning of "I" within our collective being can receive from the higher and give to the lower all within our collective being we call ourselves.

This seems like a conflict between esoteric Christianity and Islam. Where those like myself believe that it is only through becoming ourselves that man can serve his intended purpose of nourishing the earth by connecting heaven and earth. Islam seems to just want one to follow God's orders as is and what we ARE is not an issue.. Atheism cannot appreciate what Simone Weil says here and I don't know if Islam does either. Perhaps you can help me with this. Simone wrote when she knew she was dying in response to her friends questions:

Excerpts from a letter Simone Weil wrote on May 15, 1942 in Marseilles, France to her close friend Father Perrin:

[SIZE=+3]At fourteen I fell
into one of those fits of bottomless despair that come with adolescence, and I seriously thought of dying because of the mediocrity of my natural faculties. The exceptional gifts of my brother, who had a childhood and youth comparable to those of Pascal, brought my own inferiority home to me. I did not mind having no visible successes, but what did grieve me was the idea of being excluded from that transcendent kingdom to which only the truly great have access and wherein truth abides. I preferred to die rather than live without that truth.
[/SIZE]
Where Islam seems to say if we do the right thing we go to heaven, Simone needs the experience of higher truth when alive. The atheist cannot know this calling of her active spiritual part so just considers her an abnormality caught up in egoism and fantasy since there is no higher reality.

From my perspective, she is the "ugly duckling". Her beauty is something not a part of that pond.

I've been contemplating this article:

The System of Morality - by Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah

Consider the first category: "MEN may be divided into three principal categories"

Simone was and is part of the minority in category "one" The "Great Beast" of Plato is in category three and has to be governed since it is capable of both compassion and atrocities. But here is the problem. That which governs is as if not more corrupt then the people. We are willing to admit our hypocrisy but they don't so those in power commit the most vile offenses even as proclaiming the opposite.

This is not a knock on Islam but just recognition that we suffer the human condition. We are in opposition with ourselves and often do the opposite of what we say.

Consider this Muslim man who began a radio station to put Islam in a good light and look what he does.

Prominent Orchard Park man charged with beheading his wife : Don't Miss : The Buffalo News

Chopping your wife's head off is not exactly a peaceful expression. This guy probably gave wonderful speeches and look what happens. This is what our species does as politically incorrect as it is to admit.

Simone spoke in favor of societal obligations over rights just as a Muslim would. However she said that without consciously becoming open to receive grace to develop our higher nature, society will invariably become governed by power and force natural for our lower nature. Secularism will dispute this, regardless if we cut off our spouse's heads, claiming that intellectual ethics will suffice.

A while back I started a thread called "God the Pornographer" in reference to our inability to communicate anything meaningful to a fourteen year old girl that wants to take nude pictures of herself to give to a boy. It became so hostile it had to be closed. All that was resolved is that we don't know how to communicate what if anything is wrong with what she did other then that the cops will arrest her for child pornography.

America is now a crotch worshipping country. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate a well rounded female behind with the best of them, but what about the quality of the female heart and head? If you look at all the entertainment and media, it is all fixated on anything associated with the crotch or egoistic sexuality. So why would modesty be defended from anything but some sort of dogmatic legalistic expression or just seen as archaic? Yet both Christianity and Islam suggest a purpose for the body in relation to our higher nature that has devolved into external morality, legalism, and condemnation. The one thing missing is any understanding so we cannot relate to a fourteen year old girl. This site adds some info:

MSA - Understanding Islam

HIJAB IS AN ACT OF MODESTY

Modest clothing and hijab are precautions to avoid social violations. The following verses of the Qur’an highlight that this is not limited to women only.

"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands..." (Qur'an 24:30-31)

According to Jabir ibn Abdullah, when he asked the Prophet (pbuh), about a man’s gaze falling inadvertently on a strange woman, the Prophet replied, "Turn your eyes away" (Muslim). In another tradition, the Prophet (pbuh) chided for looking again at a woman – he said, the second glance is from Satan.

So, contrary to popular belief, Muslim and non-Muslim, hijab is not worn for men; to keep their illicit desires in check – that is their own responsibility, as the above verse and Prophetic sayings show. Rather, Muslim women wear it for God and their own selves. Islam is a religion of moderation and of balance between extremes. Therefore, it does not expect women alone to uphold society’s morality and uprightness. Rather, Islam asks men and women mutually to strive to create a healthy social environment where children may grow with positive, beautiful, constructive and practical values and concepts.

In fact, for many women hijab is a constant reminder that they should not have to design their lives and bodies for men. "Before I started covering, I thought of myself based on what others thought of me. I see that too often in girls, their happiness depends on how others view them, especially men. Ever since, my opinion of myself has changed so much; I have gained (a lot of) self-respect. I have realized whether others may think of me as beautiful is not what matters. How beautiful I think of myself and knowing that Allah finds me beautiful makes me feel beautiful," Baig recounts.

The concept of modesty and hijab in Islam is holistic, and encompasses both men and women. The ultimate goal is to maintain societal stability and to please God.
My belief would really only differ in that as we are. we don't please or displease God. Rather as we are, we are not noticed. We should be serving a conscious purpose that we've fallen asleep to. We should have an inner alignment between head heart and body with the head dominant. But the head lacking conscious awareness is restricted to literal associative thought and the heart is corrupt. Is it any wonder then that crotch worshipping is the dominant influence even though the body is the most transient part of our collective being?

But we don't understand it much less live it so what can be objectively communicated to a fourteen year old girl that takes nude pictures of herself to give to a boy

If you are open to it, I'd like to discuss it with you not just in theory but how it is felt in you and your female friends. I'd like to learn the regular Muslim woman's perspective. Do you regard modesty as something of psychologal importance rather then the archaic limitation on freedom asserted by feminists?

As I said, we could have a thread on it. Who knows, after sharing some ideas, we may be able to discover how to relate something sensible to a fourteen year old girl so she may be able to feel something real inside as to the reason for and value of modesty in relation to the struggle between our higher and lower natures rather than seek to call the cops and make her a victim of naive condemnation.
 
Resigned said:
An irrational belief system is what has compelled you religious folks toward sliding swords into one another for over ten thousand years; burning at the stake those who don't agree with you, flying airplanes into buildings. All of this to prove that you, and only you, represent the true god(s). But you’re right, it’s just a label.
that is a massive generalisation and just as true of those who believe that they and only they have the right ethnic, tribal or national affiliation, class background or ideology - even removing any religious aspect from consideration. all those are "only labels" too. this is a great old chestnut of anti-religious thought and fails on close examination. in any case, at no time since the late biblical period has judaism waged religious wars; such behaviour is severely limited, to the point of impossibility for the last 2,500 years, in fact. in short, i think we've learned that particular lesson.

According to the very blueprint that introduces you to the very idea of the theism at all (let’s examine the bible) -- the only way to get to paradise according to the bible is you gotta accept Jesus. Everything else is revisionism and wishful thinking.
no. that is what it says in the new testament, not the "bible". it doesn't say it in my bible, because i'm jewish.

Use the bible as the source from where you heard about Jesus and God (or god(s) of your choosing) and salvation in the first place
as i've said elsewhere, our concept of "salvation" is completely different and, in any case, doesn't depend on theological orthodoxy but on ethical behaviour.

Well, I'm an atheist. I don't believe in gods or saviors or demons. But I live a good life. I've even saved some people's lives. But I don't embrace Jesus at all. So I should go to hell because I don't believe? Okay, since I have lived a good life, then to heaven I go. Well, then what need is there for Jesus? None. So why should anyone bother being a Christian or in fact any religion at all? Why not all be well-behaved atheists?
judaism doesn't have a problem with well-behaved atheists. this is only a problem for fundamentalist universalist religious. south american rainforest indians who've never heard of the Torah are not going to "hell", they're probably very nice people indeed. that's why clarity about universalist claims is so important and why we don't have missionaries.

Until there is a way to connect a supernatural being with the authorship of a book, it's safe to assume that the book is, in fact, merely written by men.
there cannot be such a thing without a control element that can identify to the satisfaction of the investigator what criteria the authorship of a Divine Text must actually fulfil. as you would a priori exclude the possibility of such a control, which means a satisfactory experiment cannot be conducted. you need to read dan dennett's "breaking the spell" which describes a way to conduct such experiments which i think as a religious person would be able to buy into.

Although now, we may be edging into that really bizarre world of Theism where some things you believe as literal, others not, which is really your garden variety of pick-and-choose what you want to believe.
says you - but you don't get to decide that for others, this is mere assertion. it is a fundamental tenet of jewish thought that human interpretation is inherent and inextricable element in any relationship with the Divine. you can, if you wish, interpret this as "pick and choose", but i could say the exact same thing of the interpretation of any *data set*, literary or even numerical. either the data support your hypothesis according to your criteria for interpretation, or they don't.

If you can say, "Well, Genesis is true but Pauline rules on women is not" (or whatever), well, then I can -- with equal "authority" -- by your own standards, say "Well, the siege of Jericho is true, but the resurrection is not". Such game playing with one's beliefs is certainly your right to do, but it only strips your argument of credibility, it doesn't support your case at all.
nonsense. authority is relative to the person doing the interpretation. you could say such things and believe that you have equal "authority", but i would not believe that you have such authority, because you do not meet my criteria for giving an authoritative opinion. in the same way my authority to say what a medical textbook (or poem in chinese, if you prefer) is less credible than that of a doctor or chinese literature expert.

That's because faith isn't a tool-- it is a conclusion.
that's an interesting and, i think, correct statement. i didn't just believe stuff because it suited me, i concluded that it was the most logical concomitant to my experiences. interestingly, though, the word for "belief" or "faith" in hebrew is "emunah", which actually means "trust" - i.e. confidence in a system or an outcome, which implies that the confidence should be based on something tangible, which mine is.

Faith by definition is not a path to knowledge -- else, if the item is known, it no longer needs faith.
exactly. i don't need to believe in the postman, but i can have faith (trust) that the post will be delivered.

Enter faith, theistically defined as the substance of things "hoped for"; the evidence of things not seen.
not by me - as i said, faith for me is defined as the trust in a predicted outcome, based on my empirical experience and the evidence of history. this is why the survival of judaism against all reason over the millennia is both unarguable evidence (of course, one can naturally appeal to false positives) and a reason to have faith.

What I see are adherents of various faiths who tend to peel back the veneer of the faith as they interpret and re-interpret.
er, i'm not sure i understand this statement. certainly judaism is peer-reviewed, that is what the entire process of the Oral Torah is about.

Which means, we’ve looped back to the issue of interpretation and translation but then we’d get in the problems with shoddy translation and why god would allow that, etc. (and that is a different thread)?
well, you could if you wish read in the original, as i do. however, that can be challenged because even language is an interpretation of thought and thus a restriction and filter between mind and message.

Why not simply be clear and do not allow for such confusion?
because we wouldn't learn anything. we're not robots, nor are we expected to be.

Why is it that the theistic perspective offers a god who confounds us, but the materialist perspective offers one that makes sense-- a star is a million light years away because it's taken light a million years to get here. Simple. Explainable. Understandable. No need to assert mysterious beings using mysterious ways we can never know, precluding us from ever finding out.
you're talking the language of occam's razor, but that is only applicable if all the entities in play can be accounted for.

Let’s explore this a bit further – the tendency to interpret length of days in the Genesis tale because this puts believers firmly on a slippery slope. The story doesn't indicate anything is particularly metaphorical-- it seems to be in the context of "This happened, then this happened".
of course it's indicated - a "day" is, as everyone knows, defined by the relationship between the sun and the earth and if the sun wasn't created until day 3, that should be a bit of a fecking giveaway that we're not talking about days in the normal way! light also comes from the sun - so what light is G!D Talking about Letting there be? it's obviously not sunlight, so we're obviously in metaphorical territory. there are two ways right there that don't rely on interpretation, only on the text as it is. the fact is you don't understand how the text actually works or the assumptions it's predicated on.

Well, if you can play fast and loose with the term "day", then so can anyone with... oh, the parting of the Red Sea. The Flood.
well, of course - and judaism is founded upon what interpretation of this Text can teach us as a result!

If memory serves, there's biblical notation that the Jews did not initially reject the messiah, not until they discovered his way was not that of the sword.
not in my bible there isn't. perhaps you'd like to show me what this is.

muslimwoman - welcome to the wonderful world of simone-weil-knows-everything-about-everything!

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
bb

muslimwoman - welcome to the wonderful world of simone-weil-knows-everything-about-everything!

It is the opposite. Simone realized what Socrates did which is that she knew nothing rather then everything regardless of her education and brilliance. It means her spiritual part had awakened. Atheists and secularists don't appreciate this. Yet Socrates was called wise for coming to experience it.

This is the essence of this thread. The atheist and secularist are often smarter and more ethical than the believer. However, the true value of the sacred traditions becomes evident only when ones spiritual part begins to awaken. Then one has the possibility of "understanding" as an expression of the connection between the vertical higher and lower, the sacred and secular within our collective presence. Undersanding in the more human sense is a quality of wisdom impossible for secularism and atheism that defines understanding as one aspect of the horizontal world relating to another.
 
Back
Top