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Everything posted by PaulS

  1. Shades of Grey

    Burl, Australian Churches of Christ are part of the International Churches of Christ with an excess of 2 million members (>1.3m in the US) and which was formed out of the Restoration Movement in the 1700s, but not recognized until 1906 (how many generations that is, I’m not sure). I also mentioned the Baptists - they formed in 1609 (obviously not their Australian branches) and have about 100 million members. Last (but not least) the Salvation Army - established in 1865 and membership over 1.5m. They are all Churches that sit in the Protestant camp. I think they pretty much qualify as traditional Christian Churches irrespective of your wishes. But that is Christianity for you - everyone else thinks everyone else has got the Bible wrong! I might just add to that by your criteria for 'traditional Christianity' , the leader of the pack would have to be the Roman Catholic Church. All those points I outlined are very much supported by that church. You might find some more progressive Catholics, but I know you will find many more who haven't moved to that end of the scale. I know several people who would say their Catholic upbringing was similar too, if not worse than my 'pathological' one, as you say (which at first you said was a good thing, so go figure).
  2. Shades of Grey

    No, I am not talking about the variety of shades made famous by author EL James, but rather how I see life as countless shades of grey when it comes to virtues, values, knowledge, integrity, principles, ethics, morals, etc. Mostly these shades appear in the most basic activities in the ebb and flow of my life (work, parenting, friendships, etc) and sometimes they cross over into less serious territory such as politics, law and order, religion, atheism, and sport. Grey makes the matter sound drab, depressing, ‘bad’ - but I see it as simply being what it is – decisions and viewpoints made on specific circumstances based on my perceptions of the matter. And these positions move and change regularly as new data comes to me (or how I perceive that data). Often only by minute degrees (a tweak here or a twerk there) but sometimes it may be a major shift in my position - but still there is wriggle room and acknowledgement that nothing is ever a one-size-fits-all. Nothing. I see this in a positive light from the point of view that it is encouraging that we as humans continue to evolve into our capability to acknowledge our own shortcomings/misunderstandings/lack of knowledge (even when we think we know) , empathy (increasing on a world-wide scale with technology advances making us so more intimately aware of others), sympathy, compassion and better understandings of how people and things work. For most things in life I would have to say that I don’t have a rock-solid, unchangeable position. What I may think is an unchangeable value applied in one circumstance often requires amending when faced with a similar yet slightly different circumstance. For my first 18-19 years of my life this was not the idea sold to me by my family and Church community (for the record, the first 17 years of my life were strictly Churches of Christ - Australia, followed by a dabble with the Baptists and the Salvation Army, before abandoning the lot in my 19th year). In these environments, doubts about Christianity were discouraged and the answers were all there within the Church doctrines and of course the ‘correct’ interpretation/understanding of scripture. I have discussed before how as a young police officer my worldview was severely challenged, both religiously and non-religiously (e.g. how laws are made out to be immutable but really they apply to all sorts of situations where ‘wriggle room’ is appropriate IMO), so I won’t go into depth again, but suffice to say it’s about then I started to see the world as shades of grey. No doubt many people see the world like this and I see many like minds here. So I don’t know why I am writing this, but just thought I would.
  3. Shades of Grey

    As for pathological, whilst I’m not convinced yet that Burl isn’t being somewhat sarcastic, I don’t see my upbringing as pathological because it was facilitated by genuine, mentally-well people. Your mother included too probably for that matter. They just ascribed to a doctrine and set of beliefs passionately and couldn’t see an issue indoctrinating their children with the same. That doesn’t make it right and I believe such an approach to life creates much damage, but I’m not sure it fits the definition of pathological (hence why I think Burl is actually having a dig). Now pathological does certainly seem to apply to your President! It appears from the outside that ‘The Donald’ isn’t plagued with ‘grey’. His messages, even when perplexing or contradictory, usually have a tone of certainty which to many seem so pathetic. Yet others are encouraged and embrace him. I do see the US suffering strong division due to his presidency though. I hope for the U.S.’s sake (and others) some grey creeps into his thought processes and approaches to matters.
  4. Shades of Grey

    Thanks for clarifying (I think) Burl, but I wouldn’t credit anything of being relatively well-adjusted to traditional Christianity. By traditional Christianity I am referring to believing and indoctrinating or trying to convince others that: -people need to plead forgiveness to a God for basically, being born. If they don’t, their life will always be lacking. -the Bible is conveyed from God so God wants you to follow the Book. Varying degrees of calamity in ones life may result if not followed/interpreted usually in the way one’s Christianity community interprets it. -evil in the world is caused by a real-life, opposing power to God (Satan) -in short, your life cannot be good unless you are Christian -that doubt and investigation outside of what you’ve been taught is bad for you. These are pretty traditional teachings which do nothing to assist young adults when their eyes are opened to the world outside of that upbringing/community. My apparent well-adjusted state is more a result of the hard work put in to better understand just how wrong all those traditional teachings are and why. By the way, getting to that so called well-adjusted state meant years of agony, disconnect from family and friends, consideation of suicide to escape the pain of such, and generally plenty of time not being well-adjusted. Tradional Christianity - run far away from it!
  5. Shades of Grey

    Is that really what you took from what I was saying or are you being antagonistic? Maybe you are using sarcastic humor? I’m not sure. I couldn’t disagree more about such an upbringing and I think it’s a shame that adults can’t see the harm they cause when indoctrinating children with their own personal beliefs around God and their own personal ‘certainties’ concerning religion and biblical interpretation. If possibly by ‘traditional’ you mean some other sort of Christianity than what I was exposed to, I would disagree with your interpretation of traditional.
  6. Newly reborn unto Christ.

    Davy, I wish you well in your studies and hope you succeed in what you're working toward. There are many different views here about Christianity and lots of discussion around what it means for different people. We are all on our own journey and have all had our different experiences, which often makes for discussions that might not usually make it into many church prayer meetings. 🙂 I hope you enjoy participating here and perhaps even have a look at some of the previous discussions held. Cheers Paul
  7. Seeing in the dark

    The strength and resilience of children amazes me.
  8. Sounds like a pretty reasonable approach to me, Scott.
  9. Hello from Texas

    Welcome to the forum, Scott. Here there are lots of different views and takes on religion in general and Christianity in particular, and we love discussing them! I hope you enjoy it here. Cheers Paul
  10. I don't disagree that they're nice thoughts and that they work well for some, but I would suggest that they only work well for a minority, hence why Christianity (or this style of society) just hasn't caught on in the last 2000 years across the globe. There are elements of Christianity within most societies, but I don't think there is a single 'way' that works across the globe that would be very practical or easy to implement (and history would seem to support that). The communities you mention are by far a minority in the world - there is a reason for that - probably because it just doesn't work for the majority, for whatever reasons. That said, I do think capitalism has taken mankind down a path where not everything coming from it is beneficial to society's well being and communal growth. I just don't think 'Christianity' is the panacea, per se. But, there is much that society today can take from Christianity.
  11. Early Christianity's growth wasn't particularly outstanding prior to Constantine's conversion and making it the official religion of Rome. Perhaps it offered alternate structures but other reasons contributing to its development included being the only missionary religion in the area, it was an exclusivity religion (converting to Christianity meant abandoning your old religion which wasn't usually the case for pagans changing to other gods), equal status offered to women (in a hugely patriarchal society), and lack of competition (e.g. in Israel it was only up against Judaism). Constantine's conversion was THE game changer. There were also lots of different types of early Christianity, so it is hard to imagine them all lining up to provide a better society (i.e. they seemed to argue more on theological grounds) - Ebionite Christians, Gnostic Christians, Docetists, Arian Christians, Marcionites, Roman Christians, and the later Melitians, Donatists, and Monothelites, to name a few. I think there are commendable thoughts concerning Christianity proposing a way forward of fairness, but any detail of how to actually implement such seems to be fairly lacking for any real application which is where I see it falling down. That said, seeds being planted concerning better ways to do things are of benefit. The fact that 2000 years later we still lack an alternative social, economic and political order that all would call fair and just indicates to me the impractical application of Christianity as a 'system' of governance. But again, there are commendable aspirations in there that are of benefit I think.
  12. That damn mushroom!

    Welcome to the forum Timothy, Apologies, but I don't have much to offer in either area, but I hope you might find some assistance here. Cheers Paul
  13. Ignosticism

    Sorry, not my strong suite.
  14. Agnosticism

    I'm not trying to prove they exist, just saying that the thought is out there for some. Maybe given a few thousand years of alienology they'll have their own revelatory book from the King Alien which guides them in their thought processes. What I am saying here is that I'm sure monetheism sounded utterly ridiculous to many when they first heard of it, but look where we are thousands of years later.
  15. Agnosticism

    Indeed there are many Thormas and I know you are more aligned with this sort of Christianity. Agreed. Sorry, I wasn't trying to align you with Burl but rather explaining why I was arguing for what I was arguing for. Buddhism? Whilst they don't exactly spell out the afterlife, I think they allude to one that they acknowledge they cannot know anything about which follows a person's final rebirth and the attainment of Nirvana. Possibly also people who believe humans were created by aliens and maybe tribes who practised ancestor worship instead of theistic worship?. I'm yet to read his book, but I've recently learnt a little about Robert Lanza's Biocentrism which seems to explain death and continuation without God in a new way. Yes, or a new paradigm as Marcus Borg might say.
  16. Agnosticism

    I know many Christians who would argue with you that their faith is anything but uncertain! But as we can see from Burl's reaction, precise categorisation is required, less one wish to be called a coward. There are many Christians that would simply not care about a person's agnosticism - It's just a shame there aren't more. I'd say the point Huxley was making is that there could be an afterlife without there being a God, because we simply don't know what happens after we die. Afterlife and God might not necessarily be related should one or the other or both exist. I'd say rather than science demonstrating truth, it demonstrates how we currently understand something and rules out what cannot be (as is currently known). Plenty of scientific conclusions have changed throughout history (nutrition science, medical science etc). Gravity explains what we experience but if some day there was to be an alternate scientific explanation, then the truth might change.
  17. Agnosticism

    Yes, that is how I understand Huxley also. Indeed, uncertainty is a very powerful tool, even threatening to some.
  18. Agnosticism

    In isolation, that sentence is correct. It was mainly Burls other words that were wrong. If he cannot consider a theistic god to be a possibility he is an atheist. - Incorrect. He may indeed think it is a possibility, but he just doesn't believe in a theistic god. It can be confusing because it is very close to agnostic. That's why strict definition and criteria, like all words, are indicators but not always good at defining every single thought or variation to the theme. Sometimes an atheist will call himself an agnostic out of social cowardice. Darwin was a good example of that. - Incorrect, Darwin's views on God were changing throughout his life and he didn't know precisely where he landed on the matter but felt that as he didn't know, agnostic was a better label for him (Darwin understood the shortcoming of hard-line categories and definitions in this area). Atheists need a pride flag to wave like the gay rainbow flag. Maybe just waving a stick with nothing on it would be appropriate.- This comment overlooks everything else in an atheists life such as logic and reason and evidence. It's a juvenile put-down. There is nothing wrong with being a proud atheist, but if one feels the need to use sophistry and weasel-words to avoid the label they must be having some sort of inner conflict. - Apart from being another juvenile put down, it fails to recognise that we all don't fit neatly into little boxes and definitions. As Rom points out, the majority of atheists he has come across do not believe there is no god; they simply don't hold a belief in god. That meets Burl's definition of atheist, so why the insult? Back to your comments, Thormas - "Agnostic atheists are a bit confusing because if one does not believe in the existence of any deity then it does not matter if such non existence is knowable or unknowable: they do not believe! I would hope a true atheist would still not believe even if there were evidence - otherwise they were just an agnostic and not firm in their atheism". This is the problem with rigorously trying to exclude one from the other, as Burl tries. They may be separate words but they overlap also. One can have a foot in both camps and not be bound by a word that was coined to try and capture some thoughts. You're probably aware that the term Agnostic was only coined as recently as 1869 (13 years before Darwin died) by Thomas Huxley. "Being a scientist, above all else, Huxley presented agnosticism as a form of demarcation. A hypothesis with no supporting objective, testable evidence is not an objective, scientific claim. As such, there would be no way to test said hypotheses, leaving the results inconclusive. His agnosticism was not compatible with forming a belief as to the truth, or falsehood, of the claim at hand. Karl Popper would also describe himself as an agnostic. According to philosopher William L. Rowe, in this strict sense, agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist". But these people would have also fallen under the definition of Atheist as they didn't believe in a theistic God - so rather than being cowards we can see they are meeting both definitions. That is the problem with trying to narrow down these groups. There is overlap. True - atheists are non-theists, but so are agnostics. Agnostics can also be atheists. These definitions guide or indicate to us what a person thinks, but they are not perfect boundaries. Just like the term Christian also means a wide variety of different thoughts pertaining to the same definition (eternal damnation or universal reconciliation, progressive or fundamental Christianity, etc).
  19. Agnosticism

    You totally overlook that most atheist don't say "we don't believe in a theistic God" but rather that most will say they don't believe in ANY Gods, theistic or not. Whilst the root of the word does indeed come from not believing in deities, it's most likely coined from the perspective of only a theistic God being considered, so to not believe in God at that time was a-theistic. If you check out a few atheist websites you will see that pretty much none of them adhere to atheism as only being non-belief in a theistic God. These are not weasel words or sophistry but rather how the label of atheist is actually used by most people today, irrespective of its technical latin root. As for agnostics, one does not need to call themselves an atheist if he cannot consider a theistic god to be a possibility. Rather, he is an agnostic because he says that we cannot know if a theistic God exists. He can consider it a possibility, but without knowledge (or gnosis) he cannot argue for or against such a God. And then there are degrees of agnosticism: Strong agnosticism (also called "hard", "closed", "strict", or "permanent agnosticism") The view that the question of the existence or nonexistence of a deity or deities, and the nature of ultimate reality is unknowable by reason of our natural inability to verify any experience with anything but another subjective experience. A strong agnostic would say, "I cannot know whether a deity exists or not, and neither can you. Weak agnosticism (also called "soft", "open", "empirical", or "temporal agnosticism") The view that the existence or nonexistence of any deities is currently unknown but is not necessarily unknowable; therefore, one will withhold judgment until evidence, if any, becomes available. A weak agnostic would say, "I don't know whether any deities exist or not, but maybe one day, if there is evidence, we can find something out. Apathetic agnosticism The view that no amount of debate can prove or disprove the existence of one or more deities, and if one or more deities exist, they do not appear to be concerned about the fate of humans. Therefore, their existence has little to no impact on personal human affairs and should be of little interest. And then just to make it even more inconvenient that people just won't fit neatly into all these little tiny boxes us humans like to create, there are also Agnostic Atheists. Theirs is a philosophical position that encompasses both atheism and agnosticism. Agnostic atheists are atheistic because they do not hold a belief in the existence of any deity and agnostic because they claim that the existence of a deity is either unknowable in principle or currently unknown in fact. It's just not cut and dried like you pretend it is.
  20. Free Will

    He was in favour of it Rom. Some of the 'logic' he drew on to support that position was 'God's sovereignty' and also his reasoning that there would otherwise be no need or existence of commands, prohibitions, or rewards and punishments if free will did not exist.
  21. Agnosticism

    Your comments totally ignore the many shades of grey between these points that you seem to think are set in concrete. Just like there are a zillion shades of Christianity between Progressive Christianity and Fundamental Christianity, so to are there varying degrees of agnosticism and atheism. It's not as black and white as you portray. Don't be fooled into labels being the definitive factor for classifying every single last philosophy or thought a person holds. Labels like agnostic and atheist (and christian) give us an indication of somebody's beliefs, but to pretend that one is either in or out of a certain label based on strict criteria, is an outdated concept. And then to insult such people when you don't even know all of their thoughts and beliefs, is just rude.
  22. Free Will

    It does seem to go on and on Thormas, hence my abandonment last post just because we keep saying the same things generally, yet disagreeing. It has been very interesting though to a point. But in response to your post: Aquinas (who lived in the 13th centruy hence why I called his cosmology a 13th century notion) basically proposed that creation needed a prime mover and that that prime mover was God. In one of his works, the Summa Theologiae, he laid out his 5 proofs for the existence of God and drew some conclusions that Burl has repeated here. I think this one-pager will better explain Aquinas' notions than I could - http://www.scandalon.co.uk/philosophy/cosmological_aquinas.htm For some, what Aquinas presumes may be 'common sense', whereas for me, I think Aquinas is just making things up to suit his view of God and none are supported by any actual evidence or supported theories. In relation to Christianity maybe being more comfortable with unknowns - I like your positivity but I think by far Christianity likes certainties and answers as opposed to just accepting a "we just don't know". There are certainly many churches and versions that do take a more progressive approach, but I am confident they are the minority. Hope you're having a very Merry Christmas. I have been and have enjoyed a quick swim and a break from the champagne, but our next guests are soon to arrive so gotta get back up on that horse! Cheers Paul
  23. May I wish all of my friends here (and everybody for that matter) a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year! I hope this time of year brings your family and friends together, creating closer bonds and happy memories. I hope 2018 holds happy surprises and wonder for you all. Cheers Paul
  24. Free Will

    I think this is going around in circles, so probably not much point repeating that I think all of the above you reference, is an illusion. You think it's choice/logic/rationality - I don't. But, you have your opinion, I have mine. It seems neither of us can make a convincing case that the other will accept. Not that we need to, but it does seem to just be a case of rinse and repeat which is a bit boring for me. Have a great Christmas, Burl. Ooroo.
  25. Free Will

    Mockery and insult may occur, but I still don't think it 'works' - unless we are measuring the degree to which the mocker feels satisfied. Indeed, they may feel well satisfied that their insult scores a point, but clearly it does nothing to convince the other of their reason and evidence (which up to this point seems to be severely lacking, no matter how much they say things are evident). I suppose it makes them feel superior though, so maybe it works in that sense for them too.