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Nick the Nevermet

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Nick the Nevermet last won the day on November 23 2011

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About Nick the Nevermet

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  1. Indeed. Labels can be useful sometimes and problems others.
  2. Hello. I was around here years ago. I'm poking my nose back in now. Hope you're all well. As for a little about me, I think the labels of progressive and Presbyterian both apply to me. And yes, I believe that progressive Christianity is compatible with the tradition of the Reformed, Presbyterian, or "Calvinist". Which makes me fun at parties
  3. Two Friars and a Fool did thing a few years back, 95 theses against Hell. In short, they couldn't bring themselves, on Christian principles, to accept the idea of eternal conscious torment as a punishment a just god would inflict on anyone, let alone someone who is merely a nonbeliever. Here's a link There are lots of different ideas about the afterlife that have come from mainstream sources within Christianity. Universalism is one. Karl Barth, one of the greatest Reformed theologians of the 20th Century, promoted it, and the Orthodox had apocatastasis, which is effectively the same thing for most intents and purposes. There's also annihilationism, or the idea that there is no afterlife (possibly for anyone, or just for unsaved). My point in bringing all this up is that the tradition of Christianity is so much more than a single doctrine. Don't get fooled otherwise.
  4. hi. I just (yes, just) read George's PM to me. Sorry I dropped off the radar, as the story is neither short nor particularly interesting. Suffice to say there was some good, some bad, but mostly "interesting times". Regarding the NT Wright book, The New Testament and the People of God: I've given up on getting a straight answer from the publisher about a Kindle edition. If anything, things are going in the wrong direction: when I started the discussion about reading books from his Christian Origins and the Question of God Series, volume of it was available (it wasn't the first). Now, none are. So... yeah. Not quite sure what is going on there. I have been slowly reading Volume 1, and I can definitively say that this is an academic book with no interest in being anything else. The first 140 pages or so is a summary of a 'critical realistic' epistemology, and how it differs from positivism and postmodernism. In truth, I have no idea how others will read this section, as it was mostly me nodding and sighing as he went through a lit review of names I already knew from social theory (especially MacIntyre and Gremais). For me, this section was a bit ponderous, as this was stuff I had already read elsewhere. For others who aren't graduate students & faculty in the social sciences & humanities, I am unsure if this would be interesting, or information overload. I'm currently around page 210 out of the roughly 470 page body of the book. He's started setting the stage for things. He's making clear distinctions between how the Pharisees and other groups think about Rome, how Macabees is a central point for how 1st Century Jews think, and a few others points. I find this book interesting, but again, it is very academic. I don't mean that as a "bad" thing in the sense that it is incoherent, nor do I mean it in a "good" way, implying deep truths beyond what normal language can offer. Rather, it's part of an academic discussion: the content is organized around agreeing and disagreeing with other historians, rather than actively trying to paint a picture of 1st Century Judea for the average reader. All the content to do the latter is there, though it's up to the reader to build the picture a bit. Because of these points, I cannot in good conscience recommend it to the board as a whole. Beyond that, I'm extremely unsure how much I will be around here in the near future. The semester is about to start, and my wife and I find ourselves in the interesting position that May is a professional singularity: after May, neither of us know where we will be working. Additionally, as we must move out of our current apartment in May, we also do not know where we will be living. This means that we have under 4 months to figure out what comes next, and that may be a bit challenging, as well as time consuming. My apologies if anyone bought an NT Wright book and feels like they wasted the money. I will reply to this post if needed, but other than that, I will hope to be active here come the summer possibly. Nick
  5. I partly disagree with your assessment of that thread, Yvonne. The original post was an invitation to theologize. There's really no other way to describe a post where someone offers a list of statements in a logical sequence and asks for people to comment on them. The fact that the thread remained about analysis should, IMHO, neither be a problem, nor be seen as a mistake. Given the lack of information in the original post about either the conversation in question or the poster's opinions, it is pretty reasonable how people reacted. We'll see how he reacts. And as I can remember all of 3 posts by him, I'm not going to try and peg where he fits. So... that's where I disagree. However, your post does make me realize something I did not do, and perhaps should have done: offer a positive argument. Critique is necessary, and relativizing statements about how there is a multitude of opinions is necessary, but neither actually tells you anything, offers something to push back against. There is no statement of belief in "Well, it depends." I should have stated what I actually believed, as best as I could. And I didn't. In an analytical discussion as the OP started, we can't go very far without positive arguments. So, to answer your question, that's what was missing in that thread. And not just statements of faith, but actual argument, done as respectfully and as politely as possible. People need to engage. Now, the world is not just an analytical argument. A forum isn't even just a rational debate either. So, I don't think this is the entire answer, but it's the answer for that thread. EDIT: I made this comment from memory, and as such hadn't seen the last two or three posts.
  6. In that case, I think I misread your posts, or at least their subtext. As I read your posts, you seemed to have been making a moral (rather than empirical) argument that there really are some universal moral ideals, and this is good, and they are embedded in our biology.
  7. We have a few that could come close, depending on context. On another board I frequent, people have resorted to posting sarcasm in bright magenta, because so many people were getting banned for what they thought were obvious jokes.
  8. George, I've been trying to figure out a good way to ask something. This is the best I've got. How does your interest in neuroscience and the arguments based on it avoid the naturalistic fallacy? The naturalistic fallacy is when "a philosopher attempts to prove a claim about ethics by appealing to a definition of the term "good" in terms of one or more natural properties (such as "pleasant", "more evolved", "desired", etc.)" (quote from the wikipedia page). I'm not a philosopher, and I may be mixing up the naturalistic fallacy, appeal to nature, and the is-ought problem. However, the basic point remains: for some worldviews, it is problematic to claim, "If humanity is hardwired to accept X as moral, then X is moral." I'm pretty sure that I've just offered a caricature of your position, but I'm not 100% sure where I went wrong.
  9. There are other people who can talk better than I can about how to act if one has pre-existing ties or is in a community/church of conservative Christians. As someone who is not, the most I can usually do is point out the categories don't line up with as much certainty as some would like. History matters in ways that erode the unproblematic faith of traditionalist Christianity. One can in fact be moral without being Christian, or even a theist. Gay people can be good parents, and so on. All of those statements are things I can back up empirically with evidence and research. But the other thing isn't about rationality, but rather identity and community. If one cares about Christianity as an identity and as a community, and if one has been taught over and over that certain ideas are part of the package deal and must be accepted... well... nevermind reason, if its meaningful, he or she will buy in. It is important to show that one can be Christian in other ways, that Christian community can exist in other ways. This a strange sort of reverse-apologetics, but it's useful and important.
  10. I realize you want to talk about the bold red ones, but I think the first 4 are extremely important, and not givens. First, we have a lot of people here who are atheists and oriented around process theology. The omnipotence assumption is contestable in this forum. Second, we also have more than a few universalists here, so the issue of Hell isn't settled either. Also, while they don't post here, there are plenty of hardcore Calvinists who believe God chooses some to be Damned. Again, I realize you want to get to the tricky stuff, but those unproblematic assumptions are not necessarily unproblematic. In some ways, what you're describing is a slightly modified version of the problem of evil (how can there be suffering in a world with an all-powerful, all-good God?). [EDIT: there is also a "problem of Hell", but I don't know that one as well, and wikipedia isn't useful on that one ] The way you're wording things seems to set it up for the "best of all possible worlds defense," where God has decided that though there is suffering (and damnation) in this world, it is the best possible world. Think of God as an author and the universe as his novel: it's a crappy novel if everybody is happy and stays happy from day one. Whether or not such a claim allows for an omnibenevolent God is something that is debatable, however.
  11. Well, that was frustrating. Augsberg Fortress has now missed the date the Kindle edition would be released twice, and their support people "have no new information." Sorry all for the wild goose chase.
  12. If morality is a human thing (be it "constructed", something that exists within biological/environmental parameters, or something else), does that suggest God is beyond good and evil?
  13. taking time off from this forum for Thanksgiving and getting caught up on work and wow... this thread has grown substantially since then.
  14. Yeah, there is a whole mess of other factors at play in these situations, and I'd look sideways at anyone who claimed to have made an effective predictive model. Also, to be clear about something: I like tolerance. I support religious diversity in our society, multicultural concerns in the classroom, etc. I don't want anyone to take my empirical statement that diversity is challenging as a moral claim that diversity is somehow wrong.
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