Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Friday, January 18, 2008

once more around the mulberry bush...

To allow the discussion about atheism, theism, fundamentalism and scepticism, which hijacked the previous post completely, to continue unabated without me resorting to editorial control, I've created this post.

If you want me to engage further, please do me the courtesy of reading this and this first. Thank you. It would save us both a lot of trouble...

Now, let the good times roll...

32 Comments:

Blogger Unsane said...

Hey, hey, too tired to read anything. I've been practicing sparring drills. Footwork, precisely.

January 18, 2008 4:09 PM  
Blogger hip said...

"Logical fellatio, old boy. e.g. Many people who consider themselves to be good Christians are ambiguous or agnostic when it comes to the topic of God." -- Gerry. 18-1-08.

Nora, by "compromised intellectually" I don't mean retarded or unintelligent, it's more to do with perceptions of an afterlife. Knowing that a last-minute recant will bring absolution and a comfy eternity is likely to impair critical thought in some important decisions you'll make when you get wrinkly enough to start feeling your mortality.

I don't spend any time worrying about people's beliefs, there's as many out there as there are people, and I have no interest in converting folks into hippies. So long as you're intelligent and educated, 'tis enough for me.

Peace, love. freedom.

January 18, 2008 7:42 PM  
Blogger phil said...

If you think that recanting when you're about to cark it will do the trick, then why not do it when you think of it first? Seems like such people are having the proverbial two bob each way.

Faith must be very comforting and I envy - sort of - such comfort, but I can only understand it in an intellectual sense.

Unadorned faith, in a being or whatever that will take care of you, is probably the ideal. But as soon as people - blokes mainly, usually in frocks and ermine, why is that? - get into the act with their RULES and/or their MONEY, it's no longer faith, it's a business and it's politics. That's what I find most offensive.

The strange coincidence that the majority of organised religions differ vehemently about their god and the rules, but all agree about the subordination of women, is just a little coincidental, I would posit.

January 18, 2008 11:12 PM  
Blogger hip said...

Har. Phil, reading too much Milligan has made the madness plain. Bless 'im.

January 18, 2008 11:53 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

So, let's see if I can keep up with the moving goal posts... We're now not debating whether or not there is/are a god/gods, but whether or not there is an afterlife and the merits or otherwise of organised religions?

Nice one...

Do I take that to mean that we agree that atheists are believers in "no god"?

January 19, 2008 2:57 AM  
Blogger Nora said...

yeh it's: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/14/facebook

loved the rants on Atheism. hear here!! hehe.

There's this guy called Humphrys who has a really interesting stance on it all.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/03/nrgod03.xml

i think he's agnostic, but he does it with style, and grace. (unlike a lotta ppl) respect to the guy, eventhough deep down I still believe he'll not exactly be going to heaven ;P

yes it's the weekend. mail u soon. God bless ur blog ; ) haha

January 19, 2008 12:45 PM  
Blogger Nora said...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/
03/03/nrgod03.xml

January 19, 2008 12:47 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Nora, thanks for those links. Both articles very interesting.

I have this to say about Craig's arguments:

#God created the universe. The proof lies in the premise that whatever begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist; therefore it has a cause. It was brought into existence by something which is greater than (and beyond) it. And that something was a "personal being".

Bzzzzt. Until we know how/when the universe was formed, we cannot say that it was caused by a "personal being". His "argument" fails logically.

# God "fine tunes" the universe for ever. There is no other logical explanation for the way things operate.

Bzzzzt. Exactly. There is no logical explanation, therefore it would be illogical to claim that a "personal being" is fine tuning it.

# Without God there can be no set of moral values.

Bzzzzt. All groups/tribes/cultures naturally invent/manufacture moral values. It is the nature of groups of humans to invent the rules by which their group operates. It is part of being human. No god is required for this process to occur.

# The "historical facts" of the life of Jesus prove the basis for Christianity.

Bzzzt. Yes, but only if the basis of Christianity is solely based on the historical facts. It's like saying "the length of a piece of string is determined by how long it is." It's just crap.

# God can be known and experienced.

Bzzzt. Only if one's experience is deemed to be objective rather than subjective. But since it is clearly the other way around, God can only be a personal experience, and therefore all that can be known is that one is having a personal experience which one believes is God.

Ergo, Craig is a purveyor of flimflam - as is everyone who tries to either prove or disprove the existence of God.

Sorry Nora... :-(

January 19, 2008 6:38 PM  
Blogger phil said...

But Gerry, it's God who moved the goal posts. You just didn't see him.

Nora wins :-)

Milligan comes second.

January 19, 2008 7:39 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Phil, it's God who moved the goal posts? Is that supposition or do you have proof?

January 19, 2008 7:48 PM  
Blogger Nora said...

you're very welcome. my pleasure. but holy moley! i forgot what that article was about, i was merely pointing you toward a fellow agnostic.

thx phil, you're funny. And sweet.

hmm i strongly doubt one can argue a man into faith.

so... i was just wondering... where do you think everything came from? (does this matter to you?) and what's the purpose of it all / being here. what gets you out of bed every morning? does life contain value? do you believe there is any real significance in our intellect? (aside from pro-creation) is there any point in finding out whether or not there really is or isn't a God? and if there is...

are you truly open to the answer if it's available?

just asking out of genuine curiosity. (it's not everyday i get to meet an 'agnostic / agnostic theist.')

xxx

January 20, 2008 10:52 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Nora, "i strongly doubt one can argue a man into faith." I agree, and conversely, I would argue that the nature of "faith" (which I consider to be a mere euphamism for bigotry) is such that no contra-argument will be considered and accepted as valid by the faithful.

Hope you don't take this personally though...

Now to your very good questions:

Where did everything come from? I have no idea. That is the realm of physicists and cosmologists. Not my area of expertise.

Is it important for me to know where everything came from? No. If it was I would have to immerse myself in physics, particle physics, metaphysics, cosmology, religion, theology, voodoo, and magic. And each of these branches of "knowledge" would explel me if I dabbled in one of the others...

It's all to big and too hard, Nora, so I'll be happy to resign myself to the fact that I don't know. I just get the shits when others, whose arguments don't even stand up to any rigorous logical examination, claim to "know". They seem to have forgotten that believing is not the same as knowing and so they constantly assume that what they believe equates to knowing. Balderdash!!!

Remember, if the Bible is The Truth, then Adam and Eve were chucked out of Paradise for "eating from the tree of knowledge". If that ain't an ancient metaphor for warning people about the dangers of presuming to know stuff about stuff you can know nothing about, then I don't know what is...

Hence my agnositicsm, and therefore my riling against "believers", be they theists or atheists.

What's the purpose of it all / being here? I'm still trying to figue that one out. I've often said that life is a B.Y.O. Meaning party. i.e. It means whatever you're having it mean. The lazier among us find it more convenient to buy or subscribe to meanings neatly pre-packaged by others, be they ideologies or religions. It gets us off the hook. Also, that way, if it all goes pear-shaped, we can pretend that we are not responsible, but that we were merely sucked in by the ideology or the religion. Ideologies and religions are for the sheep among us. Ba-a-a ba-a-a ba-a-a...

What gets me out of bed every morning? Well, ususally these it's because I've slept enough; I'm hungry and I want breakfast; I have a head full of ideas which need to be blogged; My partner; in the past it used to be things like having to get up to go to work...

Does life contain value? See "Life is a BYO meaning party".

Do I believe there is any real significance in our intellect (aside from pro-creation)?

Rutting requires very little intellect. In fact, it's often more fun if the intellect is left outside the bedroom door.

Seriously though, I have no idea as to the "significance" of our intellect. I'll go for the Dai Ippo Zen answer here and say that our intellect doesn't mean anything, it just is (or isn't).

[1] Is there any point in finding out whether or not there really is or isn't a God?

Academically, philosphically, yes. But you may be chasing after soemthing which, like The Great South Land, does not exist. So, if the idea appeals to you, go for it... I think we need explorers in all fields of knowledge. I'm just a bit worried about those who have embarked on such quests and returned with no real evidence that stand up outside of their own personal experience (which cannot effectively be shared or transmitted).

[2]...and if there is, am I truly open to the answer if it's available?

Yes, as long as the answer does not suggest that self-hypnosis or mass-hypnosis was at the root of the experience. (That is not to say that I think there are no valid uses for hypnosis.)

Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?

January 20, 2008 12:18 PM  
Blogger phil said...

Ja, alles klar. Another 80s fan, you get better by the nano-second. No, you can't argue a man into faith, suddenly they decide they need it. Cool. If they want to buy into a whole host of by-laws, not so cool, because those are bits that inevitably that man will want to impose on others.

Unlike Gerry (I think) I'm a bit more relaxed about people of faith - provided they keep it internal.

Unfortunately, a increasing number of them don't.

Nora, you have presented yourself as an authentic seeker after knowledge here, so good for you.

January 20, 2008 10:30 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Phil, my problem is not with faith per se, that is a person's personal choice. My problem is with the concept that faith (as in blind faith) is a good and wonderful thing.

But tell me Phil, why critique only the religions, why not also those who are so intellectually lazy that they unquestioningly gobble up the religious propaganda they are fed?

That's like blaming the politicians without blaming the voters who put them there.

Even dictatorships cannot function without the subservience of the people. If the people refuse to obey, the dictator is out of business. But we only blame the dictators, we don't blame the piss weak who would rather live on their knees than die on their feet.

And if you think this doesn't link back to what religions teach, then think again.

And yeah, I'm pretty intense. I hope Nora doesn't take my rants too personally. I think she knows better than that.

January 20, 2008 11:08 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

I woke up with _this_ rattling around inside my head: Beliefs. It's impossible not to have (or form) beliefs. At least I believe it's impossible. That's ok. It's when people relate to their their beliefs as if they amount to knowledge that I start spitting chips.

And _there's_ my hypocrisy. Right there.

99% of the shit I'm riling against in this blog is stuff based on what I believe, not what I know.

However, I have covered my arse. There is, after all, the famous disclaimer right at the top of this blog...

Whew, off the hook again... ;-)

January 21, 2008 7:36 AM  
Blogger Nora said...

ja ... Das ist toll. i'm cool btw ;-) just be yourself G - u have your charm ;) v.winsome kinda i must say. were you like pretty high ranking in the army at some point in ur life?

but i can't keep the gospel to myself!!! that's selfish... and i'd make a rubbishy rubbish 'wannabe Jesus'.

that dictator comment... well true...unless the 'leader' is God. then he could easily pull a Noah's ark out the bag again (altho that goes against his promises - which He has been 'faithful to keep' until today)

the piss weak? well yeah i guess - i'm a sheep (sorry to disappoint you lovely gentlemen!) but so was Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Abraham Linclon, Newton, St. Francis of Assisi, et cetera. (I won't bring them all in) but bein a sheep 's Ancient news too... i mean Jesus preaches about being a shepherd innit? and before him, David in the old test. (psm 23 ) u kno the one...

well - i'm not here to pick a fight, or pick apart arguments n phrases really. but i like to hear what you've got to say...

so what do you think of miracles? one of the reasons i believe is cus of a lot of answered prayers in my childhood.

laterz.

n.x

January 21, 2008 10:48 AM  
Blogger Nora said...

oh and... um... talking about being a sheep... i have a confession to make Father Milligan. i was having second thoughts about fb. JUST cus... i was thinking, well, if u can't beat 'em join them kinda thing. i mean isn't that essentially what God had to do with mankind? when He got born and grew up as one of 'us'... so as to 'bring humankind back'. since noone was listening to the prophets. (ultra crude simplification btw)

i mean if one joins facebk... they can essentially tap into influencing a massive percentage of the next generation: Obama-style... not that i'm really interested in that. i just miss bein in contact hahaha.

i'm sucha loser right? :P

luvya,

nora

January 21, 2008 11:07 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

No, Nora, I was only a Sergeant when I left the Army in 1976.

Yes, the concept of sheep/shepherd is there, nicely embedded in the Bible. And that should be a warning. It's not about freedom, it's about submission to a reification and thereby to its earthly "administrators", the clergy. What a neat scam that is.

But like you, I'm not here to fight. I just happen to see it differently to you.

Yes, I think "miracles" or "magic" happen/s. How or why, I have no idea. I find some of the explanations which don't require the existence a God to be just as plausible and a lot less suspect.

What if the "God" thing is put about so that we don't find out that it's actually us who's doing it all? Imagine if we found out that we were "God"... Imagine that...

Just a thought...

And you're not a loser. I'm the resident loser here, thank you very much! :-)

January 22, 2008 12:16 AM  
Blogger Ann O'Dyne said...

I'm staying out of this.

January 23, 2008 7:39 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Wise move O'Dyne... No good ever comes from this shit. As you can see I've given another good demonstration of "how to win friends and influence people". Or should that be "how to kill comments on your blog"?

Ah well... Next lifetime maybe...

January 24, 2008 10:48 AM  
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January 24, 2008 8:55 PM  
Blogger phil said...

I agree with youyou. All of you.

January 25, 2008 8:22 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Youyou, you can write that down, youyou. You mark my words youyou. My golly gosh yes, youyou.

He's b-a-a-a-a-c-k...

January 25, 2008 10:39 PM  
Blogger Nora said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 28, 2008 11:14 AM  
Blogger Nora said...

looks like youyou's advertising jobs.

forgive me for not getting back to you til now.

so yeah... shepherds and submission... hmm what you said contains elements of truth. but, well... have you ever heard about eastern shepherding techniques?

here's a quote from Paolo Coelho' The Alchemist - a day in the life of Santiago, the Spanish shepherd boy.

He saw to it that all the sheep entered through the ruined gate, and then laid some planks across it to prevent the flock from wandering away during the night...

It was as if some mysterious energy bound his life to that of the sheep, with whom he had spent the past two years, leading them through the countryside in search of food and water. "They are so used to me that they know my schedule," he muttered. Thinking about that for a moment, he realized that it could be the other way around: that it was he who had become accustomed to their schedule. But there were certain of them who took a bit longer to awaken. The boy prodded them, one by one, with his crook, calling each by name. He had always believed that the sheep were able to understand what he said. So there were times when he read them parts of his books that had made an impression on him, or when he would tell them of the loneliness or the happiness of a shepherd in the fields. Sometimes he would comment to them on the things he had seen in the villages they passed...

While standing at the ticket window, the boy had remembered his flock, and decided he should go back to being a shepherd. In two year he had learned everything about shepherding: he knew how to shear sheep, how to care from pregnant ewes, and how to protect the sheep from wolves. He knew all the fields and pastures of Andalusia.

...the old man began to inspect the sheep, and he saw that one was lame. The boy explained that it wasn't important, since that sheep was the most intelligent of the flock, and produced the most wool.


So yeah (trying to quote from elsewhere since you're not a big fan of the Book ;-P )

i mean just from those lil excerpts you can get a feeling of the relationship / the love between a shepherd and his flock. and how the shepherd spends his time and energy on them, caring for and loving his sheep.

that's how i read the words 'shepherd' and 'sheep'.

and it relates back to that whole who is God thing yeah? i mean what is Love without the existence of relationships? (hence the trinity)

anyway - something a lecturer said to me in passing this week:

"If you're not in the jungle, you're not going to know the tiger."

chew on it.xx

January 28, 2008 11:18 AM  
Blogger Nora said...

Spain isn't quite east/middle-east, but hope you accept the example. ;oP

good week to yourself old friend!

January 28, 2008 11:30 AM  
Blogger Bwca said...

I'm staying out of this too.

peace and love

January 28, 2008 6:52 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Nora, nice try. :-)

Coelho, spins a good yarn. I've read a few of his books and have decided that he's a bit of a "shepherd" himself i.e. he's fishing for followers.

But... It is true that sheep can benefit from a shepherd. And I believe that many shepherds love their flock. And your point is?

I think that to try to convince human beings that they are like sheep is to disempower them. And that is what I accuse organised religions of. Disempowering human beings in order to empower the religion. It's nothing more than a subtle form of enslavement. Big bucks (and power) in that...

Please excuse my cynicsm...

O'Dyne, wise move... ;-)

January 28, 2008 11:03 PM  
Blogger Nora said...

hey gerry, pardoned.

on one hand, 'convinving' them they're sheep, on the other hand - that they're worth dying for and worth calling Sons of God. have to look at the whole picture. Jesus himself was 'led like a lamb' to be slaughtered...

anyway, don't wanna provoke u no more, and dunno how to verbalize anything relevent but read this:

http://kirstymac.wordpress.com/

n i'll be quiet from now on. ;P

luvya,

nora

January 29, 2008 10:53 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Ah Nora... I doubt we will ever "convert" the other. And I doubt that either of us wants to do that anyway.

I have a very different view of the life of Jesus. I believe that the myth which is currently doing the rounds, calling itself Christianity, i.e. the New Testament, is far removed from what actually happened.

I believe that Jesus was a left-wing(Shammai-ist)revolutionary within that collection of sects which was Judaism at that time, and that the dominant right-wing Hillelite sect, and the Romans, both had very good reasons for getting rid of this lefty pinko troublemaker. So they killed him.

The "son of god" thing? Easily explained. At that time, and in that part of the world, every male Jew (and let's remember that women didn't count), whether right or left, was referred to as "a son of God", as distinct form a gentile.

I know you'll never want to see it this way, but that's the way I see it.

I looked at kirstymac, but I'm not sure exactly what bits you were directimg me at.

luvya2

January 29, 2008 11:45 AM  
Blogger Nora said...

Hey Gerry,

Yeah you're right some of what Jesus taught had Shammaist connotations, but some of his sayings also had Hillelite implications. However, his teachings were very significantly distinct from the teachers of the law at that part of history. For example he used phrases such as, "Verily I tell you." / "I tell you the Truth" which was unheard of before. (He claimed to come in his own authority and the authority of God, as being the only way to God) I don't think everything can be categorized as left or rightwing. You seem to see life like that?

I don't think you've read the whole bible have you? (Honest question.)

Myth? Interesting term.

From the Greek Mythos:- cunningly devised stories. I believe strongly that yes Christianity is a myth and also no.

Taken from the essay "Myth Became Fact" (1944) Clive .S Lewis, who studied and taught at Oxford, fought in WW1 and lived through WWII. (I.e. He wasn't just a sheltered intellectual high-brow) An agnostic unwillingly converted to Christianity.

The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens--at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle. I suspect that men have sometimes derived more spiritual sustenance from myths they did not believe than from the religion they professed. To be truly Christian we must both assent to the historical fact and also receive the myth (fact though it has become) with the same imaginative embrace which we accord to all myth. The one is hardly more necessary than the other.

On the bible having been made up. That's something I need to be convinced of. And I'll be honest with you, PLEASE, if you have any reason to think it is, let me know. As lovely as it is, as a fellow human being do not let me keep on putting my whole faith around something that's a made up myth. Give me your evidence. Because as much as this is all very real and arguably beneficial to me, I need to KNOW if I'm putting my faith in a hoax, a complete lie.

Let me speed-write you a few reasons for my trusting the NT.

Can I first ask you have you read any of the introductions of the gospels? Or ever considered the style they're written in?

This is Luke's introduction: Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Luke is merely an ordinary physician at the time, a logical thinker, writing a concise report with an investigative style based on what he claims as eye-witness accounts.

Now, were the gospels (the NT) written in a feasible time for there to have even been eye-witnesses around? Well, yes actually. They were all 27 books, written between 50 and 100 years after the life of Christ. And according to historians it takes at least 150 years for a generation to die out - and leave room for legend or myth-writing to take place... If all this political controversy surrounding Jesus was true, then there very well may have been a lot of eye-witnesses.

Also, the New Testament (unlike mythology and legends) are written with endless references to political leaders, people's names, places... It is CHOCK FULL of artifacts, buildings which opens it's historical competence up to scrutiny and investigation.

William. F Albright, the daddy of Palestinian archaeology (himself a non-Christian) has made discovery after discovery of such artifacts which make the New Testament more feasible.

And, from the 10 references of Jesus Outside of the New Testament books, they all match up to what is written in the N.T.

There are only 9 references in total to Tiberius Caesar. Why don't people scrutinize his existence?

You must remember, that the collection of 27 different documents, articles and letters, is written in a span of 50 years, in differing geographical positions, by different authors of different educational backgrounds. Adding to it's viability.

In terms of evidence and history, it has so far proven to be innocent. And Why not? Why could'nt it have happened? What amazing unbelievable fact motivates you to see Christianity as being based on a Myth? Is it the nature of Christians you have seen?

Christianity - a myth. Why not? :)

Myths gets under our skin, hits us at a level deeper than our thoughts or even our passions, troubles oldest certainties till all questions are reopened, and in
general shocks us more fully awake than we are for most of our lives.


Gerry... Before picking any holes tonight (or today) I wanna encourage you, as a friend, who thinks of you often, to read the bible, if not the whole book, at least the New Testament. Read it if you haven't already before just as a story book. Without bias, just as you would have read the Coelho's books, treating it as a Myth. And I would be very interested indeed to see where that would lead you.

Please pardon me for the time delays, I have 7 projects on at the moment, on top social and home life. This means I also type very fast, often compromising on my spelling and grammar.


This comes with much love,

n

I think you might have misread my implications behind the term "Son of God". I'm Christian, not Hebrew or Jewish ;)

And according to most Christian traditions, it refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, see God the Son, as well as a relationship achievable by believing Christians: "to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God". Ie. on equal terms as Christ. Equal with Jesus! On par with the guy we all Worship.

(Who incidentally was himself referred to as the Lamb of God)

February 02, 2008 1:34 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Nora, have I read the whole bible? No. I see no point in doing so. I cannot treat it as a serious document. I don't claim to be a serious scholar of the Bible or an authoritative source on it. I just have some opinions about who Jesus was.

My left/right thing to do with Judaism at the time of Jesus is eclected from some writings by Manfred Davidmann who suggests (to me) that Hillel made rulings which favoured the rich and Shammai taught strict adherence to the Pentateuch (which was very social welfare orientated) which was more compassionate towards the poor.

Is all of the bible made up? Of course not. It contains many facts. It also contains what I believe to be a lot of pure rot. Which bits are factual and which bits are rot? I think that's for the individual to determine. I have not audited the Bible cover to cover and made a summary of the factual and non-factual. Note I use the term "I believe"... I do not KNOW, I BELIEVE. This is why I tilt at the atheists, because they claim to be able to form opinions without resorting to any acts of belief. Pure bunkum, of course. They're full of shit, basically speaking.

I don't intend to read the whole NT, but here's what I'll do: I have a Bible which has all quotes attributed to Jesus printed in red ink. I have read these several times before. I will read them again in the very near future. I cannot say that I read anything in an unbiased way. I doubt that such a thing is possible. At least not for me. I am human after all, and not as highly evolved as atheists. My knuckles still drag on the ground whenever I try to walk upright...

Good night, Nora.

February 03, 2008 1:34 AM  

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