juantoo3's comments in 'Proofs for God's Non-Existence' thread

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Jaiket, Jul 28, 2005.

  1. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Jaiket!

    Thank you for your thoughtful response!
    OK. I think I find agreement with my statement of latent religious morality in society and culture, but I can see where you might disagree.

    For the discussion, it probably would be valuable if you did expand on this. If not for me, than for the sake of others reading. That is, if you have the time and inclination.

    Is it still an ethical action, if by alleviating suffering for one creature you create suffering for another creature? I guess one example might be, if you save a rabbit from a coyote (you did say alleviating suffering of animals), your action may seem ethical to the rabbit, but not by the coyote.

    This is the crux of situational ethics.

    In another thread I pointed to how Utilitarian ethics, "the end justifies the means," "for the greater good," was used to justify the dropping of the atom bomb on Japan in WWII. In that instance, there was a standard outcome among the allies to end the war. I guess if I stay with the atom bomb dilemma to demonstrate this, competing outcomes would be Russia (and from there, others) gaining the atom bomb in defense and retaliation. Which lead to the Cold War and Mutually Assured Destruction. This illustrates the madness of Utilitarianism on a governmental level. Imagine applying these same principles at an individual level. With everyone competing for their own selfish outcomes, the justification of moral action falls apart. It is only when a unified outcome is desired by all parties involved that such a moral construct can work. I agree in general terms that logic can direct morality, but logic alone cannot account for the pervasiveness of the "God concept" as far back as pre-history. I will have to wait to see your input about evolution, but at this point I fail to see how evolution can account for the pervasiveness of the "God concept" as far back as pre-history. The "God concept" not only can provide a unifying justification and desired outcome for all, I think history shows that it has done that very thing.

    Not quite. In the absence of social pressure to be moral.

    Think of it this way. If there is no compelling reason to be moral, why are we moral? Because it is the right thing to do? Nah, I don't think so. With no compelling reason, there is no "right or wrong," no "good or bad." In the absence of a compelling reason to be moral, we will live down to what is expected of us. Society performs the function of compelling us to be moral, especially if we have no other compelling reason ("God concept"). And since society bases its morality, way back when, on religious teachings leading into codified law, it stands that latent religious morality resides in society, in the form of law, and also as institutional religion.

    I don't know that I can fully express "entirely" without writing a book. Codified law, in the artifactual evidence of the Code of Hammurabi, is one of the earliest known writings of religious "morality" into a set of principles to guide a society. By King's decree, all people in that society were subject to the same set unified standard. Law and punishment were no longer arbitrary. This became a formalized set standard by which all were compelled by rule to obey. Breaking the law, also interpreted in this instance to acting unethically or immorally, was subject to penalty. Ideally, standard and consequences were uniform regardless of position in society. I think we both know where things went from there...

    Likewise, I have not found a valid solution either, and I have looked for a long time.

    I will try. Begin with the two definitions of religion I have previously laid out: religion in the private, personal sense; and religion in the institutional sense. Sometimes I neglect to point out which I mean. Apologies. In this quote, I mean religion in the private sense, our internal realization of the "God concept."

    Now, as to the "a priori" reason, I first have to ask what it is you mean by "a priori?" I have heard the term, but I am unfamiliar with what it means. I am glad you brought this up though, because it opens the door to animal understanding of the "God concept," which is not lost on me. Personally, I do think animals have an awareness of God. But in much the same way as the Jewish tradition holds that non-Jews are subject only to the Noahide Laws, I feel that the animals are as well held to a lesser demand concerning morality. Natural morality, in the sense of as applied to animals, is so different from what civil humans hold as morality as to be almost exclusive of one another. I am not fully sure this is what I mean to say here, but it is the best I can do for now.

    Now, even though I believe animals have an elemental understanding of the "God concept," I cannot demonstrate, and so have left this out of the conversation for now.

    This also raises the quandary, addressed at length in the thread "Morality in Evolution," of whether the morality of animals is suitable for civil humanity. So I must ask if that is where you intend to go from here? It should make for an interesting discussion.

    Actually, this begins to illustrate what I just tried to say. Nature, in my studies, shows itself to be a rather cruel teacher of morality. Only in the most general sense, and then in terms humans are not now accustomed to hearing, does nature teach morality. I mean, suffering is natural. Murder is natural. Killing one's own offspring is natural. So do we take these as moral lessons to apply to society?

    Agreed, in the form of war, when the opponent is turned into an "other," meaning not one of us and therefore not suitable for moral treatment. I do not say this to justify it, it is how things have been done by humans for millenia.

    Ah, good turnabout! The definition I proposed had more to do with being inclusive. In the end, religion (in both senses as I described, private and institutional) goes back to some form of shamanism and/or animism, by what archeological evidences we have found. The shaman represents the beginning of institutional religion, people went to "him" for advice and direction. But all peoples, from the time of the opening of the door of awareness and conscious thought, have some realization of the "God concept." Perhaps, in some evolutionary way, this reaches back to before humans became human. In that I can agree. Nevertheless, the "God concept" exists. Like love, we do not understand why or how, but we know that it does.

    I do not expect agreement. I do expect logical dissent and correction. In that, you have been a great sport. Thank you!
     
  2. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Hi Starship,

    OK, sorry! I did not mean to offend! My thinking about morality is based on logic and reason, too.

    I'll say it clearly that I think you can be moral without having a theistic worldview. But, I'm less sure that morality is logical. Every logical analysis starts with a base assumption. My base assumption is that humans were created good by a loving God. I also accept the ToE and that evolution has shaped our behaviour. Guess that puts me in the camp of theistic evolutionists, although I don't like that label because it makes it sound like evolution is something you "believe," rather than being based upon observation and testable hypotheses. Anyways...

    I think that the quality of our morality reflects not our intellectual assent to God or Humanism, but reflects our level of trust in the world. Do we feel secure, loved and optimistic or insecure, fearful and pessimistic? In the second scenario I think it less likely that we will be able to share our food with our starving neighbor when we are concerned about feeding our own family. It creates a utlitarian worldview of holding onto whatever you have, and getting more at (any) expense. So, to me the question is not whether morality comes due to logic or faith, but the level of trust (or conversely, fear). But then, where does our feeling of trust come from?

    peace,
    lunamoth
     
  3. earl

    earl ?

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    Very true, lunamoth. It's about conscience in general and to some degree over-all mental health. When it's there we generally do the right thing. When it's not, externally-imposed morality in no matter who's name is tenuous at best. I must admit to ambivalence re the "secularization" of culture &, in fact, I think the burgeeoning multi-form interest in spirituality/religion in the secularized West is in counter-response to the secular trend. We do tend to feel a real lack of center and substance to a society that pushes matters of the Spirit too far from central stage. At the same time, the balancing point of a secularistic tendency is to ensure that no 1 form of it is universally imposed upon citizenry, including, of course, the right to not be spiritual at all. I have my own spiritual and non-spiritual phases, (the latter occurs when I get tired of trying to get my spiritual act together & just want to chill for awhile:p ). Take care, Earl
     
  4. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, earl!

    Thank you for your response.

    I like the way you tend to put things. I am in agreement that because morality exists does not mean we are always moral or ethical in our actions. I think sometimes that our religious moral constructs sometimes seem deliberately impossible to always live up to. Yet, society insists that we try. Christianity helps make up for the shortcomings with the attitude of forgiveness, but even then forgiveness in practice seems to be dealt out in arbitrary fashion. But I digress from the original discussion...

    Perhaps you are one to ask an important question regarding the parameters of the discussion. Since you are (at this point) a peripheral contributor with a unique and appropriate perspective, I would like to ask if you might have a better definition to offer for what I have been attempting to call a "God concept?" A definition that is inclusive of the major world faiths. One that might seem a bit more acceptable to our atheist friends here.

    Thanks.
     
  5. earl

    earl ?

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    My heavens, (no pun intended;) ). what a challenging assignment. Hmmm? to attempt to conceptually word such a grand notion as "God" in a way that doesn't trigger conceptual revulsion. Tough task, but I guess I'd say that "God" is the personified impetus and matrix, (ground and goal) of the path that continually pushes, nudges, impells us to move beyond who we take ourselves to be just the previous moment. It impells us to be both more than and other than who we thought we were; asks us, challenges us, and yet somehow supports us. In our largeness we add more of the world into us and add more to the world in the process. Less us, more Other, 'til neither us nor Other, just all this, Is/ Am. Then what? Love. Take care, Earl
     
  6. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Thank you, earl!

    Now, let us see if your description is more suitable to our friends for the purposes of our discussion...
     
  7. Jaiket

    Jaiket Token Atheist

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    Earl, although I am absolutely fascinated by your definition (and your use of language), I have to ask; is this your description a god or your definition of the concept god.

    If the latter I presume that withot these attributes (or fails to produce these criteria in us) then a particular entity/being/force/personified impetus is not a god?

    Once again, great post!
     
  8. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Jaiket!

    Of course, it is not lost on me that someone who believes God does not exist will have objections to any description of God, conceptually or otherwise, offered...

    Earl popped into the discussion, and I asked him, because to that point he was a neutral party with a perspective that includes eastern non-theist (Buddhist) and western theist (Christian) perspectives. It was my hope that he could offer a more inclusive definition. Not necessarily one that atheists would agree with. Afterall, how does one define God in an agreeable way to someone who does not agree God exists...makes for a rather sticky conundrum, don't you think?

    However, I am only too willing to let earl speak for himself to your question.
     
  9. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards again, Jaiket!

    I hope you will not mind me returning to this part of a previous post:

    I had thought myself to be fairly succinct as to what I meant by “religion,” in that I have defined religion in two distinct ways. I think the common definition is what I call “institutional” religion, the megalithic political constructs of human history we call by names like Christianity, Buddhism, the various forms of pantheism, etc. Perhaps that is where I seem to lose you, because for the purpose of this discussion I have focused primarily on what I have called “private” or “personal” religion. Perhaps a good close analogue would be “meme,” not in the pejorative sense, but the functional sense. It is our internal appreciation / acceptance / understanding / intuition of how we relate to and with the Grand Design / Universe / IS / reality. I cannot say when this “meme” began, but by the Neolithic age it was pervasive and systemic by all accounts I have looked into. I do not think it is unreasonable to add here, that this time I am referring to well predates institutional religion and the megalithic social structures built around them. (Unless one counts the rudimentary beginnings of institutional religion in the form of the shaman.)

    I do not follow your logic or rationale. What negates the application of God as a concept towards the environment or the universe? Why would not the trees, rocks and stars know and appreciate the God concept, on some level? Sentience? Who are we to say what is sentient or not if we do not understand the language?

    (Society is a construct of humanity, although it could as well be said that those in political power are placed as leaders by the Divine, as many institutional religions teach, which would bring even society into the fold you are describing.)

    Perhaps. I suppose it depends on whether or not an atheist would equally agree that on such a level s/he is actually a theist.

    I do feel the need to point out, that my purpose in this exercise is to examine what we believe we know about our past history and how it applies into our modern social constructs. To "convert" anybody is not my purpose. My beliefs are my beliefs. Historical evidence is historical evidence. Applied anthropology is anthropology. Where they coincide is where I try to reside, particularly in this discussion.

    I did not advertantly raise the subject with any specific intent, other than chance comment. I did not begin this thread. But I have covered most of this, at length, with multiple contributors from many paths and outlooks, in the thread "Morality in Evolution." (There, Alexa, I couldn't resist blowing our horn! ;) ) This thread has merely allowed a greatly condensed version of our conclusions to be applied to anthropology.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2005
  10. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Here is a link to the thread I mentioned:

    http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1360&page=1&pp=15

    With a teaser:

    "Can morality be the result of natural evolution? Or, as Gould implies, is this a matter of human psycho-social development that cannot be adequately addressed by scientific scholarship? Can nature based religions rightfully claim scientific basis for their moralities? Or should the whole subject of moral development be held aside, restricted to the "magisteria" of religion?"

    I don't think we ever did solve the puzzle with complete satisfaction, so by all means, I would appreciate your input, Jaiket, regarding evolution towards moral development.
     
  11. earl

    earl ?

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    Does "God" not exist if we individually "fail to develop?" The Buddhists chase an Other called enlightenment/Buddha Mind; Christians an Other called God. If we find it, we see we and it never were apart. If we don't find it, has it never existed? Both traditions essentially speak of a doer making choices along the path to that Other- interesting paradox don't you think? Take care, Earl
     
  12. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, earl!

    "Chase an Other called '___'..." I like it, :)
     
  13. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    "Arguing with a truck driver is like mud wrestling a pig...

    You might win, but the pig has all the fun!"

    -sign in my former dispatcher's office
     
  14. alexa

    alexa somewhere in time

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    I'm here, Juan. Need some help ? ;)
     
  15. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Alexa!

    Thank you for the kind offer! Actually, I was thinking this morning of possibly beginning a new thread to pull our conclusions into an applied anthropology, to see how far our conclusions cover all of the bases. I can think of three major threads to pull from, (Morality in Evolution, Evolution Conflict, and the Languages threads). I suppose we could add other research as we find it or run into snags. And of course, invite any and all to participate. I am thinking with a lot less adversarial debate than we had here, more like collecting evidences and applying them to try to piece the puzzle together. This thread really got off to an adversarial start, I felt like I have been forced to explain myself continually. I think a thread like what I have in mind would do that explaining in a much less adversarial way.
     
  16. alexa

    alexa somewhere in time

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    You're welcome ! :)

    WHAT ? A lot of work in our hands again ? :D It won't be easy to go through all of them. *sigh*

    Sounds a good idea.

    I got that impression from the title. I sneaked in to see what was going on.
     
  17. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Juan,

    so, it would seem that your consideration in this regards needs to be reconsidered.

    if, as you assert, lack of a god concept prevents a being from cognizing the consequences of their actions, there is no possible method by which the Buddha Shakyamuni could have explained the nature of Karma. thus, your contention is not borne out by evidence, to wit, Buddhism. which most certainly posits a cause/effect relationship between dependent structures in the relative sense at any rate.

    moreover, one does not need to appeal to the invisible pink unicorn or any other sort of invisible being to understand these things. Karma is more than adequate to account for this.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  18. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    perhaps this is true of Europeans, Lunamoth, but please.... the rest of the world does exist and we do have a long history of both secular views and religious views.

    it simply isn't an accurate statement to proclaim that the secular paradigm arose during the European Enlightenment period.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  19. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    do you suppose that you can find any Sutta/Sutra foundation for this view which you have attributed to us Buddhist types?

    this is a fairly common misconception of the Buddha Dharma, however, the Buddha clearly teaches that there is nothing which can be rightly regarded as the root source of phenomena or noumena, not buddhanature, not Nirvana or any other concept.

    furthermore, it is not something that is outside of the individual sentient being, thus, even should your assertion be correct in its assumptions, it is incorrectly formulated in that attainment is not "here" whilst you are "there".

    metta,

    ~v
     
  20. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Vajradhara!
    How so?

    Quite the contrary. I am making a leap of speculation, but either you did not read the entire thread, or you misunderstood. I have tried as best I can to illustrate the "God concept" includes Buddhism. Earl said it well, I think, in that Buddhists chase an Other called "Buddha mind," whereas theists chase an Other called "God." Either way, we are all chasing something we cannot rationally prove, but intuitively know, at least on some level. Consequences have to do more with our understanding the "cause/effect" of our actions in a future sense, *not a God dealing punishment*, as I have explained previously.

    Yet too, Karma must be taken on faith. It is still the search beyond ourselves to what we know exists but cannot see. It is but another way to approach the "God concept," although I knew full well you would object to my choice of terms. I stated as much earlier.

    I have posed this to you before, I will ask again as I do not recall if you answered. As you have some familiarity with Christianity, more so than I with Buddhism, I would ask how you would term "God concept" in an inclusive manner for the major world faiths? How would you describe the inherent search by humanity as far back as pre-history for that "something out there" over which we have no control, and to which we are helpless and submissive?

    Namaste. And Peace.
     

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