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  1. 1 point
    Joseph, as previously mentioned this is not a burning issue for me and I place it along side of the belief that all (we included) is illusion. Further, I don't think either position or belief is in sync with the experience of most human beings.There is a common acknowledgement (conscious or unconscious because a great many human being simply go about there lives and don't bother with such discussion as many of us here) and agreement (affirmation) with Descartes: " I think therefore I am." For most, as it is for me, the experience is simply that, 'I' am: I am me and I am not illusion. And, the further common experience is, 'I am the captain of my ship.' Most of us recognize influences (see below) but also recognize, accept and defend the idea that I am the maker of decisions, I am the one who decides. I think there is a wisdom in the lived experience of men and women and I think some of us (myself included at times) are too much in our heads. So, as I said earlier in this thread: "I accept that I am not a absolute first cause but I also, acknowledging the paradox, accept that I have freedom." In this statement, I am not denying prior experience, genetics, physical limitations, strings, or the coffee that makes one jittery if they have too much or cranky if they don't have any - I am saying they do not so determine one to remove all true (free) choice. All behavior is not determined; there is personal agency (i.e.. free will). Free choice (and, with it, culpability, responsibility, accountability) is real and most of us accept and live this even while acknowledging that which influences us. I am neither reifying or deifying consciousness or experience: I just do not accept that environmental and behavioral determinism are absolute or that free choice is illusory. Determinists reduce all to a physicalism or a naturalism and reduce personal agency to nothingness. I disagree: "this is a position I find impossible to believe" and not worthy (for me) of serious consideration. I accept and respect it is for others but it is not my position or belief. Perhaps it might be helpful, if this is an established position you hold that is important to you, to present your case and let others react/comment. tom
  2. 1 point
    Tough one. I think our language is ill equipped to define what may exist in the universe that is independent of physics and chemistry. So I'm going to ramble for a bit, if you'll indulge me, because I can't deny that there is something... We often refer to it as 'something else', something undefined, unexplained, strange or surreal, a sensation, a gut feeling, a sense we can't put into words. We struggle to observe it, measure it or quantify it objectively, and often dismiss it because it exists only within the subjective experience itself, and is changed by the act of observation or measurement. Perhaps it is that 'wave of potentiality' inherent in each particle, oscillating continually in spaces between molecules, between elements of matter, between life forms and objects. Perhaps it is 'life' in action. We tend to think of the universe in terms of subjective experiences that we can share with others. If I experience something, I know it is real only if that experience is verified by others. The more people I can share it with, the more real it seems. If others can't relate to what I communicate then they doubt the experience, and I begin to wonder myself if I really experienced it at all. This is the basis of science. The key is communication. If I see a flash of light move briefly across the sky at night and disappear, then I turn to others around me and ask "Did you see that?" "See what?" "That bright flash moving across the sky." "Where?" "Over there, above that clump of trees." "When?" "Just a second ago." "Oh - no, I was looking at my phone." "Oh." Then someone else speaks up. "I thought I saw something, too." "You did?" "There was a flash out of the corner of my eye. In that direction." "Yes! It was moving down like this, and then it disappeared." "What was it?" "Maybe it was a meteor?" "Probably. It makes sense." The flash of light could very well have been a meteor, or it could have been something else. But it is an experience successfully shared through communication, and that makes it 'real'. But sometimes we respond to something in our subjective experience that we fail to share or verify convincingly with others. David Eggers' novel The Circle illustrates this purely subjective element of experience, and its rapidly decreasing importance in a world that relies more and more on sharable data. A crucial turning point in the novel comes when the main character must justify her decision to paddle on the river alone, without sharing the experience with others. She is unable to articulate the value of her unique experience, where she encountered a group of seals, and eventually accepts that her actions were dangerous, selfish and anti-social. For those of us who acknowledge the value of such an experience independent of any sharable data, her capitulation at this point is tragic. Society may be rapidly approaching that point where you can no longer trust your own experience - as if you didn't really go on that holiday or swim with dolphins unless you've posted a selfie on Instagram to prove it, and it's almost considered selfish or anti-social to not share everything. But the experience of paddling with seals or swimming with dolphins can't be fully expressed in a selfie, a tweet, or even a conversation. There is an element to the experience that can't be recorded or measured, satisfactorily explained with physics or chemistry, or proven to exist. Admittedly, you won't understand quite what I'm talking about unless you've perhaps swum with dolphins yourself, and even then you may not have been fully in the moment, or your own experience may have had a different focus. I'm think maybe what we insufficiently describe as the 'beauty' or the 'magic' of such an experience exists only in the space between molecules that are actively participating in that particular place and time. You're either conscious of it at the time, or you're not. And once the moment has passed, your memories (the retrievable data in your mind) can only point to the experience without recapturing it entirely. The subjective value of the experience leaves no trace in your physiology that can be reliably attributed to anything other than a 'feeling' or 'emotion', which we then reduce to chemistry and physics. But every possible method you have available to objectively share this subjective value with others feels incomplete, insufficient. Something isn't covered. And yet it is that 'something' more than anything measurable, that has changed you. Your view of the world is different, your decisions affected, even in some small way, by the experience. The closest you may get to sharing such an experience is through artistic expression: fine art, literature, dance, music, sculpture, theatre, film, etc. In this way you can attempt to fabricate a subjective experience for others that approximates your own. Looking at pictures of Michelangelo's David, for instance, or reading a book on the subject, is so far removed from the lived experience of standing at the statue's feet imagining a young man at the turning point of his career, embarking on a task that many 'greater men' had abandoned, using nothing but a questionable method of approach, his courage and his raw potential. The parallels are striking, and the result is nothing short of a masterpiece. The experience is as if thousands of years and thousands of miles were condensed into the truth of humanity carved into this block of stone, humanity in the process of conquering its sense of fragility and realising its own awesome potential. But many people don't share this experience at the feet of David. Does that make mine less credible? If I make decisions based on this experience, can it be reduced to chemistry or physics, or is there something else there? Is inspiration perhaps independent of physics or chemistry...?
  3. 1 point
    Here's my take Paul. There is only one reality "out" there. It's like the metaphor of blindfolded monks feeling an elephant. But it is even more complex than that. The blindfolded monks and elephant are one. So it is a little bit like a mathematical set that contains itself. Could be problematic. It's not so much that reality has shades of grey, it is more that any model (religion, dogma, law whatever) we use to describe that reality does not quite fit; so we can end up taking a nuanced approach to the model we are imposing on the universe or we can say are model is carved in stone and take a black and white stance. And even this model I am proposing might have holes in it. Hence the debate and dialogue forum ... we can test our ideas models from different viewpoints etc.
  4. 1 point
    This unnuanced, procrustean thinking is 40 years out of date, Rom. It is an intellectual dead end proven useful in training animals and the mentally retarded but not much else. Mankind is not independent of chemistry and physics, but not completely dependent upon them either. Cognition is a major mediator of how people contextualize, interpret and react. This is the basis of psychotherapy, which is a rather huge body of evidence.
  5. 1 point
    One has free will in choosing attitudes, intentions and viewpoint/perspective. Frankl is the arguably the most well known philosopher on this. What one does may or may not be determined, but there is definitely free will in the cognitive processes surrounding the action.
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  8. 1 point
    Hello, everyone. I am joining this community in the hope of enjoying the virtual company of other people with whom I may share something in common even in the midst of our differences. A little about myself: I was not raised with religion, but was introduced to a branch of Oneness Pentecostalism through my grandparents at ten years old. There I had a transformative ecstatic experience as a boy, but by the time I was 14 I knew through the reading of the scriptures that they could not be the infallible Word of God in the sense in which I was taught. I moved on to other things. After transitioning to agnostic atheism I read Spong's Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible Through Jewish Eyes, and biblical imagery came alive for me. At the same time I had been introduced to the eucharist in the Methodist Church and one day integrated the experience in my own way. Later I received a trinitarian baptism in the Episcopal Church, was confirmed, and received Holy Communion. I have been there for about ten years or so. In practice I am an Anglo-Catholic. I am liturgically quite traditional. I am a non-realist in religious matters, using doctrines as a guide to how to live and as symbol sets to engage my imagination with rather than objective or supernatural truths -- I am still an agnostic. I have neo-pagan influences and work with saints and angels traditional and non-traditional in an Anglo-Catholic context as well as formats inspired by neo-pagan and folk practices. I create my own rituals and write my own prayers. I also keep the traditional Anglican discipline of the Daily Office. I have Buddhist influences as well. I guess I could say I am a religious non-realist, Anglo-Catholic, liturgically traditional, eclectic, and socially sensitive Christian. I hope this will be the place to share my ideas and path with others. I have had a hard time finding that place.
  9. 1 point
    Greetings! My name is Miriam, and I have only recently come to reclaim the Christian label in my spiritual life. Coming from a more fundamentalist background, I have had to take time to reflect on my experiences of Christianity from a safe distance before re-engaging with organized religion. The writings of such authors as Rob Bell and John Shelby Spong have been a valuable support in that process. I am grateful to have recently found a local church group that accepts and supports me as an eclectic, progressive Christian, and I now hope to build on that experience by connecting to wider discussions of faith online. I am also in the process of developing a blog that focuses on engaging with faith through questions, so I hope that learning from fellow members will help to better inform my writing in the future. I look forward to taking part!
  10. 1 point
    Good evening, I am a Borg- and Spong-inspired justice-focused Christian. I was raised as a United Methodist and felt my faith gain traction and teeth upon discovering Marcus Borg, and also my aunt who is a leftist-Christian clergy! My hope for joining this space is to connect with other like minded people- especially if they are young-ish professionals who are now at home raising kids in a small community which is quite moderate-to-right leaning (although not fundamentalist!) now that's a tall order!
  11. -1 points
    Thormas Well some of us had all sorts beliefs. Having a belief in free choice or free will is quite easy ... all it takes is a lack of awareness of the strings (causes) that underlie our choices or wills. When asked why did we did some unexplainable stupid thing and if we come up with the answer I don't know ... is this what we mean by free will? Sometimes we deliberate and think we can explain our choice or will. But here we are pointing to the strings that caused our choice. A belief in free will (for some of us) boils down to a considered ignorance of the underlying causes of our will.
  12. -1 points
    Well with respect to Paul ... some opinions are based on a fair amount of thought, evidence, research, logic. Others (in the cased of free will) are derived from a considered ignorance and just an appeal to our perceptions. Some opinions are just assertions.
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