Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Form and Substance of God

I was contemplating something by James that might be relevant to our quest for the Divine Beauty. He observes that "None of the great theistic arguments start with an unknown premise freely created by the mind, but with truths given in sense experience analyzed by principles that are taken to be true. There is simply no hypothesis to dispute; no burden of proof to be assigned; ... no series of various gods that needs to be decided between from the start; no appeal to Ockham’s razor to decide between competing hypotheses even before the argument begins."

Obviously, sense experience is a necessary but insufficient condition for the apprehension of God. The principles are far more important, specifically, those principles that cannot not be true, such as "being is," "we can know that being is," "therefore truth is," etc. After all, even dogs and atheists have senses. What they lack is the ability to perceive the whole and to know the principles.

There is form and substance. For God, I suppose that being is the first form, since he is "beyond being." But for us, being is substance, and thought is form: word + spirit, or infinite and absolute, container and contained, ♀ and ♂.

Beauty is always a form; therefore, in the final analysis -- or synthesis -- we could say that beauty is the form of God (bearing in mind that virtue, i.e., loving what is worthy of love, is beauty of soul).

Here again, in the perception of beauty, the senses are obviously necessary but insufficient. Two people can look at, or listen to, the identical form, and one will apprehend the beauty while the other won't. This hardly means that beauty is subjective, much less that "perception is reality." Rather, we must make ourselves adequate to the demands of the form. But how many atheists make themselves adequate to the forms of religion? That's a silly question. By definition, none, any more than Cousin Dupree is adequate to the beauty of having a job.

How can you "prove" to someone that the form exists? You can't. Either they can see it, or they can't. And if they can't, then they have to first want to learn how. And in order to do that, they must become deeply humble, admit their deficiency, and deliver themselves into the hands of a master -- of someone who does see the form. Furthermore, just as when one begins a real fitness regimen, the atheist will have to learn to tolerate pain in places he didn't know he had places.

In the end, since the form is a self-revelation of God, or God's witness to himself, one must "participate in God." You know the old story: "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me" (Eckhart). So, "how you see yourself" makes a big difference with regard to how you hear God (and voice vista).

Now, if you can actually see the form, then you don't trouble yourself with "proving" that it exists. Let's take the example of a beautiful melody. The melody is made up of individual notes. If I hear the beauty in the melody, I am hardly going to waste my time trying to prove that the notes exist, much less that the beauty of the form can be located in them. No, it is the totality of the form that must first be apprehended; this form confers the beauty upon the notes, like a gift from above.

It is just so with religion, which begins -- not ends -- with the form. The form is "given" to us in revelation; or, to turn it around, revelation is any instance of God revealing his form. Form is what is revealed in revelation (although by definition, there is always more or less of the substance in the form; one could say that God is the form, but the form is not God, the latter being the definition of idolatry. There are also spiritual practices that focus on the "substance," e.g., tantric yoga, aimed at raising the shakti, but that's another story).

Consider the first words of Genesis, which tell us that God's initial -- and perpetual -- act is to bring form to the formless. In so doing, the form is "good," which of course it must be. Or, consider the first words of John, which parallel Genesis, and in-form us that in the beginning -- or at the Origin -- is the Word, or form, which is with God, the substance of all. For When He prepared the heavens, I was there. When He drew a circle on the face of the deep and assigned to the sea its limit, I was there. When He marked out the foundations of the earth, I was there (adapted from Proverbs 8:27-29).

Oh yes, I was -- I AM -- there, before the beginning. For where else could I be and still be? And those who hate me love death.

Who loves death? Oh, you know, those theillogical academonic knuckleheads whose "first move in [their] search for an 'understanding' of [religious] texts is to dissect their form into sources, psychological motivations, and the sociological effects of milieu, even before the form has been really contemplated and read for its meaning as form" (Balthasar).

Because buddy, there's one thing even a doctrinairehead atheist can know about revelation: and that is that one "can never again recapture the living totality of form once it has been dissected and sawed into pieces, no matter how informative the conclusions which this anatomy may bring to light." For "anatomy can only be practiced on a dead body, since it is opposed to the movements of life and seeks to pass from the whole to its parts and elements" (Balthasar).

You could say that atheism is form without substance or substance without form, which is why it is so ugly and therefore beneath the dignity of the human station. But if you can't even see the human station.... well, let's just say you'll never arrive there.

So "we can 'go behind' [the] form only at risk of losing both image and Spirit conjointly" (Balthasar). We end up with bits and scraps that are taken as more real than the reality they are designed to serve. This demystification of the Essence always comes at the expense of a remystification of Existence, and a kind of mystagogic earth-religion: attack God, and you wound -- and eventually murder -- man. Thus, a sacrificial cult is born, the very inverse of the cult that puts an end once and for all to such sacrifices.

For if man is the Image and Likeness, then he too is a beautiful whole -- at least in potential. But not according to the metaphysical Darwinists, who break apart our wholeness and insist that man is subordinate to his "selfish genes," or to the archaic environment, or to various selective pressures.

Just the other day, I read a leading evolutionary psychologist who assures us that goodness and virtue do not exist, and that wherever they appear to exist, one can be sure that they reveal some underlying genetic advantage, no matter how "selfless" the act. This made me wonder: what's he getting out of saying that? What genetic advantage does it confer? For one thing, it confers tenure, along with the esteem of his equally benighted peers. It's like asking what Al Gore gets out of perpetuating the global warming hoax, aside from 100 million dollars and counting.

63 Comments:

Blogger River Cocytus said...

Eternal Life, maybe? Wouldn't that be the ultimate 'Genetic' advantage?

Unwitting prophets, AMIRITE?

(excuse the 'netspeek)

1/29/2009 07:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Good point. God is the ultimate Darwinist. Fail to adapt, and you're existential toast.

1/29/2009 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

We just want to be re-membered eternally, that's all. Is that so much to ask, wackademics?

That's the problem with their committees - its always about dat member or dis member...

1/29/2009 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Okay, this is just getting eerie.
Yesterday, I put up this post, which I updated this morning with a bit of context (that leapt out at me last night) from MoTT. For clarity's sake, I very nearly put in a passage from the page (633, for those playing along at home) preceding the bit that I did use, a quote from Proverbs, which went like this:

Before his works of old I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limits, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked the foundations of the earth, then I was at work beside him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the sons of men.(Proverbs viii, 25-31)

And it's been like this for days in other ways. This syncoonicity thing, it gets a little unnerving sometimes.

1/29/2009 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Such is life in the body of Toots.

1/29/2009 08:17:00 AM  
OpenID thomism said...

Just checking in.

I have no talent for writing comments, and I'm not very good at linking, but I'm a daily careful reader here who learns a great deal.

And "dopplewanker" almost made coffee shoot out my nose.

James Chastek

1/29/2009 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger jwm said...

Bob said:
"You could say that atheism is form without substance or substance without form, which is why it is so ugly and therefore beneath the dignity of the human station."

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

T.S. Eliot

Don't mean to inject a note of pessimism so early in the morning, but it sure seems like all the would-be "lost violent souls" are driving the bus right now. Our physical forms are stuck in our seats. Luckily, the Real ones got off in upper Tonga.
Bob, you've been on fire these last few days, and somehow all my receptors are tuning in with amazing clarity. I have energies moving in me that have been dormant for years now. I'm liking this.

JWM

1/29/2009 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Just remember to steer clear of the strange water, J ;)

1/29/2009 09:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Algore said...

Yep, if you're going to lie, lie BIG. And, if you're getting paid to lie, well, GO FOR IT!

(Just some advice I received from my pal Blago.)

1/29/2009 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Speaking of divine beauty - the reaction of most Christians I've been corresponding with lately to Icons is revulsion. Especially among the clerical caste - i.e. pastors, ministers, worship leaders, etc.

I understand now why there are so many problems. It is as the prophet said, "My people perish for lack of Knowledge."

Even an icon of Jesus - whom they claim to have as Lord - is ugly or useless and at worst evil and idolatrous to them. There are no special places, I've heard. They mean they don't HAVE to go here or there to worship, but what they really mean is that their world is empty of symbols and meaning.

So much can be understood by the reaction - the first reaction - of someone to an icon.

wv: paternab (you figure that one out!)

1/29/2009 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob wrote of the plight of unbelievers:

"How can you "prove" to someone that the form exists? You can't. Either they can see it, or they can't."

Yes, but perhaps they don't see it one day, and the next day they do. Atheism is a curable blindness.
The question the Raccoon must ask is "what is the best use of my time, right now?"

Sometimes the answer will be to try to "work with" other people to provide a small crack for the light to begin to seep through.

Each Raccoon can have some kind of "evangelical" program as long as it is not contaminated by ego.

Railing at the atheists ala Bob is not the Christian way, but I would guess its Bob's way of doing his part.

1/29/2009 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Bob said:"By definition, none, any more than Cousin Dupree is adequate to the beauty of having a job."

Hey, even sloth though one of the deadly sins can also, if done right, have a certain beauty.

1/29/2009 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Van: Like watching two trains collide?

1/29/2009 10:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Algore said...

And if I can just continue this gravy train charade for a few years longer, I'll compound those hundred millions into billions and move on to my next campaign of destruction.
That'll teach you, you, you,...... America, to reject my genius,.....you'll get yours!
Of course those sub-zero temperatures at most of my conferences aren't helping the cause.

wv, mastr Yeah, that's the ticket! Bwaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!

1/29/2009 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Christian way said...

Anon,
Who died and left you boss?

1/29/2009 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Anon wouldn't know a Raccoon if it bit him in the nuts.

1/29/2009 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Hah - the problem is, anon really wishes he could know a raccoon, but just like that Russian guy, a severe nut-biting is sure to follow. Which is why he keeps advocating collecting disciples.

1/29/2009 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

So Bob, what exactly does an "evolutionary psychologist" do? He's already ruled out goodness and virtue, and I'll bet if he really tries he can explain away virtually all pathology as some form of "adaptation" (and presumably explain virtually all virtue as a form of pathology). It sounds like he's more of a mental vivisectionist than a healer of any kind.

1/29/2009 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Furthermore, just as when one begins a real fitness regimen, the atheist will have to learn to tolerate pain in places he didn't know he had places.

Gaining depth can be painful. I had no idea my mind parasites were that big. It is a struggle. Part of me wants to put the lid back on this box.

1/29/2009 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Pandora said...

Sorry James. Too late. But it's better this way, trust me.

1/29/2009 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

jwm,

On a brighter note I'm glad to see you are doing and feeling so well. I'm at 30 days tomorrow!

1/29/2009 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

I know. I'm almost finished with The Shadow of the Object. Reading it has been helpful. I am learning a vocabulary for my inner life. I have some big old mind parasites making me feel awful and afraid, but I'm on to them now. With some help from above I hope to contain them.

1/29/2009 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Algore said...

Hey, trust me. If you lie to yourself long enough, sooner or later you'll believe it!

1/29/2009 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

For When He prepared the heavens, I was there. When He drew a circle on the face of the deep and assigned to the sea its limit, I was there.

Fortunately, God brought along a good photographer.

1/29/2009 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Oooooo...
I like the diagonal one :)

1/29/2009 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

wv:staxe & taxes
Staxe are high when evolveing
`aye! Coontinuum! Ever revolving!

Light shines forth before a fire
a black-hole is graced
Filling desire


Axsum SAY!
from Saxum`aye

1/29/2009 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

James said "And "dopplewanker" almost made coffee shoot out my nose."

See! It's not just me!

1/29/2009 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"If I hear the beauty in the melody, I am hardly going to waste my time trying to prove that the notes exist, much less that the beauty of the form can be located in them."

Well...Yeh'd think, right? But not always the case.

As I noted in a post I just put up this morning (how's that for a shameless promo), there's a couple interesting things to think about when considering some of our wackedemic eyeCons, such as Rousseau and Hobbes.

Rousseau created a new system of musical notation and presented it "not doubting that on presenting my project to the Academy, it would be adopted with rapture" but instead it remained orphaned, having been found to have some difficulties with complex harmonies. Rousseau philosophically opposed complex harmonies, because he felt they were too reliant upon Reason, and so he sought to exalt melody (because he felt it better expressed emotion) at the expense of harmonies... this in the same age that was to experience the genius of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven creating the most complex harmonies and beautiful music ever conceived of in history.

Go figure.

Hobbes, similarly, after getting turned on to geometry at age 40, presented the world with a new and improved form of geometry - his. One of the things he didn't like about Euclid's geometry (which he thought was full of collosal mistakes) was that it conceived of a 'breadthless length' as a line... but ol' materialist Hobbes knew that it should instead be only thought of as a progression of a quantity of points (though he didn't care for the definition of points either). And he figured that since he'd demonstrated how to square the circle and a few other goodies (which were all easily, and loudly, proved wrong), everyone should have just abandoned Euclid and followed him! Never admitted he was wrong either.

Both loomingaeries were rather incensed when their fellows laughed them off the stage. Course, they got their revenge on us, who've taken in their political ideas... still though... never underestimate the blinds belief that they can not only see, but see better than those who actually use their eyes.

1/29/2009 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Beauty is always a form; therefore, in the final analysis -- or synthesis -- we could say that beauty is the form of God (bearing in mind that virtue, i.e., loving what is worthy of love, is beauty of soul)."

And could you say that the child of Beauty, is Truth... as of the Virgin Mary, the Christ Child?

1/29/2009 01:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Cassandra said...

Anonymous (10:15) -
"Railing at the atheists, ala Bob, is not the Christian way."
That's good, but this one is even funnier:
"Railing at the Pharisees, ala Jesus, is not the Christian way."

1/29/2009 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

Hmmm, I missed something.

I know you guys believe in God, and that it's a "self-evident" (i.e., non-arguable) proposition, so I'm not disputing that.

But, I didn't know you don't acknowledge religions that do not have a deity as religions. If that's the case, I imagine you justify it the same way you justify the existence of a deity in the first place.

"How can you "prove" to someone that the form exists? You can't. Either they can see it, or they can't. And if they can't, then they have to first want to learn how. And in order to do that, they must become deeply humble, admit their deficiency, and deliver themselves into the hands of a master -- of someone who does see the form. "

Yeah, that pretty much sums up why atheist conversion is relatively rare. You're not going to admit a deficiency in not believing in something you don't believe exists.

Belief is a lot more plastic than most atheists (and believers, for that matter) think. I know that if I wished I could persuade myself that a deity exists. There is simply no motivation to do so. Mock motivators such as Pascal's wager or impending death do nothing to increase this motivation.

1/29/2009 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Cryptlife said "Belief is a lot more plastic than most atheists (and believers, for that matter) think. I know that if I wished I could persuade myself that a deity exists. There is simply no motivation to do so. Mock motivators such as Pascal's wager or impending death do nothing to increase this motivation. "

I think you just pegged one of the problems, Crypt. And I completely agree on Pascal's wager, btw.

However, most people aren't motivated to believe... that would be saying that someone who told the truth to avoid being punished, was motivated by moral reasons. Most believers believe, because of what they see to be true. Arguments such as Pascal's, are just ineffective (and even desperate) tactics used to try to get people to behave as if they see, what the believer does see.

Even for those who are 'persuaded', until they do see, their vision will be empty.

1/29/2009 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Cryptic -

It has seemed to me that there is experience, and there is a "knowing" that there is experience, i.e. a part of the brain registers, and a part of the brain can stand apart from that registration. That seems to be a fact, and has intrigued me.

In my own case, there has seemed to be "something not quite right" in how it all works, which has motivated me to investigate. From the start, I knew I didn't know much, and I also noticed early-on that people a lot more informed than myself recognized a God -- and, of course, many others like yourself did not. So for me, it became "a question."

We can skip the details of the search -- let's just say "all the usual places, and some not-so-usual" and let it suffice.

My approach has been to pursue various questions about the nature of Reality, and then try to test them in very practical terms, using myself -- body, mind, and feelings -- as the laboratory.

Along and along, I "encountered" certain experiences and sources of input that seemed to me to be "more Real" than many others, and which gave "refreshing results." At some point, those results became like an "aesthetic sense" which seemed to act like a guidance system when I paid attention to it. I began to judge things by their results.

As this process developed, I came to notice that "attention" itself was a central ingredient, and especially the "quality" of attention."

Now, all of the foregoing went on over the years without even once the word "God" being uttered. I sensed that something was happening, but did not know what it was. One Cosmos has given me "words" to match my understanding of Reality. It took me awhile -- and some study -- to catch the outlines of the cosmology, but I found that it was not only coherent but also congruent on its own, and that it complemented other cosmologies that I was familiar with. In fact, I saw that it illumined them.

See the words I put in italics up there? Those are hard words for me to ignore, because of the experiences they contain.

My point to you is that I am here, and I've been around here for awhile, and I can work with this information without ever saying "I believe in God." And I never would have stuck around here in the first place had I had to invest "belief" in anything, or persuade myself of anything.

Maybe that's too small a point to worry about -- the use of certain words, I mean -- but to casually say, "I know you guys believe in God," doesn't fit everyone. Truth, it seems to me, is sufficient reason to be here, and trumps "belief", for me.

Now faith -- that is another matter altogether ....

1/29/2009 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What a fine explanation. I think the uninitiated can appreciate why we don't necessarily like to employ the G-word around here, because doing so will only confirm what the hearer already knows rather than what I want to provoke. As you can see, most of Walt's italicized words could be replaced with symbols, e.g., (?!), upward and downward arrows, (n), (¶), O, etc.

1/29/2009 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Walt - beautifully put.

My approach has been to pursue various questions about the nature of Reality, and then try to test them in very practical terms, using myself -- body, mind, and feelings -- as the laboratory.

While my experience isn't the same as yours, this is a very similar approach to the one I was taking. And while I obviously haven't read and explored as much as you have, I did find, from the first time I stumbled across OC, that Bob has an amazing ability to put into words - to make intelligible to me - many things which I knew (or maybe saw), but had no words to grasp (or ability to even interpret what I was seeing - like being nearsighted without glasses). And of course, many other things have come up along the way which were entirely new to my experience, and I've since studied some small number of thinkers who I would otherwise never have encountered, and not only can I see the wisdom, I have found an intense hunger for it. To chalk this all up to merely belief doesn't do justice to the Truth and fullness of my experience. This isn't about being motivated for whatever reason, it is quite simply that I want to understand the why of the world. I've been seeking that understanding all my life, and now that I'm finding it (and in the strangest places) I cannot conceive of insisting that what I have found (and tested, and struggled against, and surrendered to) isn't Real.

1/29/2009 04:59:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

James 11:40
Are we talking 30 days into freedom from that pesky habit you were not sure you could do without?

Coongratulations!

wv says skiticat retreat never won fair maid

1/29/2009 05:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Lynn said...

Julie wrote: " I did find, from the first time I stumbled across OC, that Bob has an amazing ability to put into words - to make intelligible to me - many things which I knew (or maybe saw), but had no words to grasp (or ability to even interpret what I was seeing - like being nearsighted without glasses). And of course, many other things have come up along the way which were entirely new to my experience, and I've since studied some small number of thinkers who I would otherwise never have encountered, and not only can I see the wisdom, I have found an intense hunger for it."

And further up quotes Proverbs: "Before his works of old I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. ...."(Proverbs viii, 25-31)

Here is a very interesting study from the ANE literature, etc., regarding Wisdom

1/29/2009 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

...Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) begged the Goracle to look further into the future:
"What does your modeling tell you about how long we're going to be around as a species?"

Algore:
“What do you mean ‘we’, Kemo Sabe.”

1/29/2009 06:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How can you "prove" to someone that the form exists? You can't. Either they can see it, or they can't. And if they can't, then they have to first want to learn how. And in order to do that, they must become deeply humble, admit their deficiency, and deliver themselves into the hands of a master -- of someone who does see the form."

Ok, there are several subjective assumptions you take for fact, as if you make a solid example.

Firstly, why is not believing in God a deficiency? And why is it not humble? I don't care that you think being part of something greater makes you humble, I am bothered that you assume somebody who believes their time ends at death isn't.

Doesn't it seem rather backwards? One person believes they are no more than flesh, and another believes they are part of a grand scheme and that some day they will join their creator and relish in their own spiritual immortality. The claim of an atheist needing to learn humility when they've clearly accepted their own belief that they do not live eternally, well I personally believe thinking you have a finite existence is quite humble.

Also, when you "want" to learn something, does that not already assume you are biased favorably towards the idea? How hard it is to believe something you "want" to believe? It's harder yes to be knowledgable about those beliefs, but then again it's also hard to be knowledgable about Star Wars if you suddenly decided you want to be a fan. Let's turn the tables. When you "want" to learn about atheism, then you'll be ready to learn from a true non-believer. Now that's ridiculously condescending.

But I think I know what the problem is. I think you believe that atheist say they don't believe in God as an insult to God. Otherwise, why be so offended by them? I don't think you can understand or put yourself in the shoes of somebody who would not believe in God, which I think is a pretty good assumption considering you seem to think very basic concept of believing in God is extraordinarily obvious.

But lets move beyond that assumption and dig up something you once mentioned long ago,

Long quote(yours Godwin)from a post:
******************************
Anyway, the commenter wrote that he disagreed with paragraph four from yesterday, in which I said that "in reducing himself to matter, the secularist covertly elevates himself to God, since nothing is higher or lower than anything else -- thus, with a single metaphysical error, the humanist makes a God -- and an ass -- of himself." What I meant to say is that there is nothing lower -- or higher -- than an atheist. Not even -- or especially -- nothing, which is to say, everything.

In response, anonymous wrote that 'I just don't see how when somebody doesn't believe in God they 'covertly escalate' their status to God level. God is a not a rank, God is supernatural, and if you don't believe in God that doesn't make you supernatural.'

Yes, it does, since belief and rank are both supernatural. The human ability to think is ontologically distinct from matter. To be specific, it is higher. I don't know how it is possible for someone to not know this unless they've received a pretty thorough secular brainwashing."
********************************
I found this(which is coincidentally how I found your Blog, hooray) and I always remembered this for a couple of reasons. The first being you admit that you don't understand where they're coming from, but continue to push you viewpoint. Why? How could you argue somebody when you don't know what their trying to get at?

Secondly, even though you argue that from an atheist's perspective nothing is below or above them, you could not separate your belief enough to make a sensible argument. The other person didn't get what you were saying, but you didn't get what they were saying either. And you came back and said that human thought is supernatural--which isn't true, I don't know if you were trying to be clever or if you were just being purposefully argumentative with the fellow. But at the same time it was irrelevant, if God is a rank, he/she as an atheist does not believe in a rank because they do not believe in God. Thus the only way they are on level with God is if you believe in God anyway, so no atheist could possibly ever put themselves on the level of God looking from outside in. It's one aspect of atheism vs theism where transposing those ideas makes thinks extremely complicated. You just can't do it. You can't blame them for putting themselves on a level of a higher being when they don't believe in the higher being and thus the hierarchy that exists because of that higher being. And obviously that reader didn't understand what you were saying at all, because he couldn't understand why you were mocking atheists for doing something they were in fact not doing at all, because they don't believe in it.

Hence we had two people who know nothing of and in no way relate to the opposite side, trying to tell each other how it really is. It sort'a reminds me of when a Christian tells an atheist they'll burn in hell. The Christian doesn't understand why it doesn't bother the atheist, and the atheist doesn't understand why it bothers the Christian. Except it was much more complicated, and it took me longer to digest this issue.

But, that's my two cents. Just pointing out I don't think you could relate to atheists enough to understand why they wouldn't take you seriously or understand why they get mad at you for saying things about them that couldn't be true from their perspective, only yours. And they do the same to you as well. It's just incompatible because of the polarity of beliefs. You'll never be able to relate to an atheist the way you could any theist, pagan, deists, pantheist, or whatever other eists are out there. There is just no relation of concepts.

1/29/2009 06:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Well, that was as clear as mud. Suffice it to say that the B'ob was once an omnipotent atheist with the same intelligence he now possess, so he obviously could make your puerile arguments much more effectively than you do (which would not be difficult). Perhaps I can convince him to do an atheist post on April Fools Day, just for a metaphysical hoot...

1/29/2009 07:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Yes, be Iowahawk for a day, and satirize Bob! I'm all for it!

1/29/2009 07:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Maynerd G Krebbs said...

Anonymous Nr.1/29/2009 06:53:00 PM...

"It don't mean a thing if it
ain't got that Swing!"

1/29/2009 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Oh, what Walt Said™!




HA! wv:flogr
It's getting got me pegged!

1/29/2009 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“…when a Christian tells an atheist they'll burn in hell.”

It sort’a reminds me of people who confuse movies (or the NYT) with actual experiential knowledge.

An example would be, unfortunately, where most people simple must “learn” about soldiers or know nothing about them at all, which quite frankly is worse than knowing nothing at all. I say ‘must’ because it is my guess that something like only 1 in 300 is a soldier of this country.

1/29/2009 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

anon @06:53:00 PM said "...I don't think you can understand or put yourself in the shoes of somebody who would not believe in God..."

95% (conservative estimate) of the people here, were non-believers, or even are non-believers, if your acid test is that they believe with fact-like conviction that they will experience a life after death - speaking for myself, I don't know, don't claim it, and consider it irrelevant to the matter (I may not be in the majority there).

Although if you have been reading this blog for any length of time you should know this, you are mixing the materialist, all truths are relative, life is machinery, thought is solely the result of genes, etc type of atheist who is fixated upon and even fanatical about denouncing all things religious or even merely poetic; with the Theodore Dalrymple type of atheist, those who believe in hierarchical truth, morality, the existence of a human, though mortal, soul, and yet decline to claim belief in something they cannot satisfactorily prove.

The first, the Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett's and Sam Harris' of the world, are the boneheads and will find no place here except as troll fodder and boring annoyances, the later fit right in here, as I did; also btw, the literalistic bible thumpers usually don't fit in here (though there have been exceptions) - those whose concept of Truth is fixed, flat and resistant to exploring vertical depths, tend to get their nous out of join and take their Vertical AcrOphobia elsewhere.

I wonder why you let the older post stick in your craw so..? But that's a rhetorical question, I'll leave it up to you to classify yourself.

wv:arming
and dangerous

1/29/2009 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"out of join" --> "out of joint

1/29/2009 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“Suffice it to say that the B'ob was once an omnipotent atheist…”

Anon 6:53pm,

I never said out loud that I was an atheist, but many times sounded and certainly acted like one. Was a lib too (although only ever a ‘default’ one) of which I am not ashamed; because I can admit to having “knowledge” of both conditions now. Certainly well enough to consider that “lib period” of mine as a source of actual knowledge of that condition every bit as factual as my knowledge of my current condition. If my ladder is in fact broken, and I know it, but continue to use it, that’s knowledge. But what good is it. This was not something I chose. At least not any more than a person who decides to learn the language of mathematics decides “today I am going to speak 2+2=4 because it suits me”.

If a decision was made on my part it was to run everything through the BS detector. Which of course is another way of saying I should only have use for truth first-off, above all things, if I am going to have use for anything. To run everything through the BS detector was the decision made after I scrapped leftism 20 years ago. Having been a card-carrying lib then and a conservative now (but not only that) it has become second nature to run everything through the detector. I don’t see libs do this – only with bottles labeled “Republican” or “Conservative”. Also haven’t met any “born again” libs either; which I find interesting too, and what it may tell us about evolution, the direction it tends to travel, why it sometimes doesn’t happen or otherwise altogether stops…

1/29/2009 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

My point is :-) …and maybe you can honestly say you do this: remember to run all notions of atheism through the BS detector. At least once. I just can’t see how a person can be convinced one way or the other based on no empirical data (yet). A good scientist I would think might consider the tested may not want to participate in the test. I wouldn't blame Him.
I think I can safely say the “regulars” here have their detectors turned on – especially on those who show up here triggering significant blips in the “way about” their spirituality.

1/29/2009 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Hmmm. Regarding burning in hell, I think it simply depends on whether you're on the right...or the left.

Laterally speaking.

But seriously. The question isn't whether God exists. Reality dictates that there is a God. I think, therefore God is. Rather, the question is, what does God have to do with me or me with Him? It's aptly said, "Only a fool says there is no God." I say dispense with the fools. Give attention to those who are asking the right question, not those who have already determined there are no questions.

1/29/2009 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

By “born again libs”, I mean: people who have scrapped conservatism for liberalism. Haven't met any in person or in print. (Can't count politicians in our survey.)

1/29/2009 09:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who are gifted with raccoon vision, etc, the one question to ask is how best to apply it for the advancement of humanity.

Otherwise what the hell? You'll get your wings clipped if you fumble it down here. Remember that. You are management; there are standards of conduct.

Now maybe, as Cassandra suggests, I was wrong about railing at the atheists. Christ did rail at the moneychangers, after all.

Yes, I advocate Raccoon evangelism, tastefully done. This blog is nothing if not that.

The most important reader here is the nonbeliever on the fence. They wouldn't even be here if there wasn't some inkling of the truth starting to dawn in their heads.

The corollary is also true; B'ob wouldn't write the stuff he does if he was a 100% believer. Few of us are, as Van suggests. It is that final 5% that rankles, and that is where it stands.

The blog leader will not be at peace until the final 5 is eradicated.

Who will/can/should help with the project? I cannot as I have no cred. here.

1/29/2009 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Nomo,
I was just trying to help the guy…

So were you :-)

1/29/2009 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Hmmm. I don’t know about the not-100% thing or that being why Bob writes the blog. I really don’t think I need more “evidence” based on the treasures I have seen compared to when I didn’t know of them. I have little to show for my doubting days.

1/29/2009 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Anon 10:00
Dude, your Community-Organizer meme is showing again.

1/29/2009 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Anon said:
Firstly, why is not believing in God a deficiency? And why is it not humble? I don't care that you think being part of something greater makes you humble, I am bothered that you assume somebody who believes their time ends at death isn't.

First, I'll take you for a skeptic, and questioner, and not a troll. Here's my 1.5 cents worth. I don't have two whole ones left.

I think your problem here lies somewhere between semantics (as in fields of meaning) and diction (as in choice of words).
"believe in God" is a phrase so saturated with uncomfortable connotations, that it's nearly impossible for the non-believer to pry it away from that Sunday school, sanctimonious, cloying, condescending, and threatening kind of attitude that we call the Jesus Willies.
It is not the same as "believing" in the Great Pumpkin, or Santa Claus.
The closest I can come right now, is to say that the meaning is closer to "acknowledging gravity". No, you can't see it, hear it or taste it. You aren't even really aware of it as gravity, as such, when you are falling. What you are aware of when you fall is motion. When we hear you sat I don't believe in God, it's like hearing someone saying, "I don't believe in this gravity stuff. Things just fall, and that's that."

Humility is much the same. It has nothing to do with humiliation. It is not being 'put in your place' the way an authority figure forces you to act against your will. That is denigration, and mortification. Neither is a good, or desirable thing. It is most cretainly not grovelling before an angry Zeus, so he won't zap you with a thunderbolt. It's closer to having a true sense of who you are and what your capabilities consist of. You wouldn't dream of trying to swim to Hawaii, would you? Nor would you think it shameful that you can't do it.
One last thing, and forgive me for the crappy paraphrase here. It's late, and I'm beat. There is that Biblical passage that never fails to stick in the craw of the non- believer. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
Again, that doesn't mean that you better start grovelling, or else!
"Fear" in this sense has nothing whatsoever to do with courage, or a lack thereof. Do you fear the sea? I don't know where you come from. If you're an inlander that might seem like a dumb question. But ask a sailor. Ask a surfer. Ask Ben. It is not cowardly, but wise to fear the sea.
Same with God.

JWM

1/29/2009 11:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh- one final note.
It's very easy to say you are comfortable with the idea that there is no existence after death. That's because you do not really believe that you are going to die. None of us does. Not until you step off the curb and see the bus barreling down on you and no time to jump out of the way. Or have that conversation when the Doc tells you "I have bad news", or feel the elephant's foot on your chest. Then you believe it, but only for a flash until the gut stops falling, and adenaline rush fades.Then the knowledge charges out of your gut, and back into your brain where you can process it, rationalize it, and return to your default setting of disbelief. No one holds on to the immediacy for long. It is how we are made. When you feel the full, and true weight of that thought- nothing after this life- then you will be backed up against a horror that words just can't touch. You gotta feel it for yourself.
When you do, you'll thank God for the comforter.

JWM

1/30/2009 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Walt said-
"My approach has been to pursue various questions about the nature of Reality, and then try to test them in very practical terms, using myself -- body, mind, and feelings -- as the laboratory."

Sorta like a glad scientist, right? :^)

1/30/2009 02:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

That's what I'm doin'. Experimentin' on myself. I call it The Grog Diet. I lost 5 pounds yesterday. 'Course, I also hadta take a dump, so I dunno.

I do think better though. Usually.

1/30/2009 02:28:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Anon said-
"Also, when you "want" to learn something, does that not already assume you are biased favorably towards the idea?"

Actually, I wanna be biased favorably to learn the Truth. However, I can see why some don't.

But if you can't handle that how about investigation? When you wanna investigate, to learn the Truth, that ain't gonna taint your investigation.

But you gotta wanna investigate without closing your mind and believin' you know everything already. One symptom of a closed mind (I learned from investigatin') is rebellion.

Many of us were atheist or agnostic before investigating. Our investigations have led to the gnoledge of Absolute Truth. That in turn has led to more and so on.
If you get my drift.

So you see, there was no bias before we investigated and after ascertaining there is Absolute Truth, why wouldn't we be biased towards that? Just as we are biased toward Goodness and Beauty.

JWM-
Damn straight! I fear (respect) the sea. And I fear (respect) O. :^)

1/30/2009 03:39:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Now, if you can actually see the form, then you don't trouble yourself with "proving" that it exists. Let's take the example of a beautiful melody. The melody is made up of individual notes. If I hear the beauty in the melody, I am hardly going to waste my time trying to prove that the notes exist, much less that the beauty of the form can be located in them. No, it is the totality of the form that must first be apprehended; this form confers the beauty upon the notes, like a gift from above.

Excellent example, Bob!

1/30/2009 03:49:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

There are many who think they are believers but behave like atheists. Most of us do it at least some of the time.

1/30/2009 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Just want to share this very thoughtful, measured perspective on our new president’s probable misstaging of the US position in the Middle East. Can you say “critical mass”?

1/30/2009 07:21:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Thanks, NoMo. (I think) Terror trumps caffeine as a waker upper any day. And I'm afraid that was only a taste of what will follow.

wv: ohile
wv is psychic, I swear!

JWM

1/30/2009 08:10:00 AM  

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