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Everything posted by Mike

  1. Ritch, I believe my point had everything to do with this. You're looking for bare foundations. I'm saying we needn't start there. It is simply a matter of etiquette not to define another person's position for them. I don't rely on myth; myth relies on me. Peace, Mike
  2. We don't have any means of verifying the authorship of many ancient and pre-modern texts, I'm not sure why that means we cannot derive insights from them or follow their teachings. Obviously there are two sides to the issue of the veracity of the texts, but I'm not very interested in apologetics, as to me its beside the point. I don't see any need to attempt to strip "Christ" down to bare historical foundations. Christ to me does not pre-exist faith and practice, there is no separate 'foundation' from which we could derive the reality of Christ. Peace, Mike
  3. I think there is a sense in which we have to look at Christianity as a whole if we are to answer 'Does Christianity have meaning?' The Judeo-Christian tradition emphasises a strong sense of history, linear time, and teleology, as well as an interplay of divine and human meaning, where neither are wholly separate from nor wholly identified with one another. These aspects I think have a lot of meaning and influence regardless of who Jesus really was or wasn't.
  4. I think religion arises out of a need to reach an understanding of life that justifies our existence to ourselves.
  5. Given how voluminous the Buddhist writings are, and given that any two religious philosophies will have some things in common, I think it would be more surprising if parallels did not exist, especially with regards to religious practice. What would suggest more than coincidence would be shared parables or narratives, or specialized doctrinal statements. If we found some form of the 4 noble truths in the gospels, for instance, we'd be hard pressed to explain that in any other way.
  6. Bill, Does this not evade the question? I agree that there is a recurring pattern of contention here -- which, more often than not, ends with an accusation that the forum is being overrun with "Buddhism" however arbitrarily defined. The reason why I put the question as I did to you was because, though this issue is raised again and again, there never seems to be any resolution. If one reaches an impasse with another member on a particular issue, what is constructive about perpetually focusing on it? I don't feel that Christianity is foreign to this forum. Yet whatever the views ex
  7. Bill, I guess I'm not sure where your objections are supposed to take us. Since you insist, against their own words, that 'the leadership' and/or 'the admin' are official spokespersons and since you object to their purported views, what should be done? It seems that Joseph (and others?) must either recant their religious philosophies or resign. Assuming this is unlikely to occur, what do you suppose should be done? Peace, Mike
  8. Hi Norm, I'm not sure where I did this. I think what counts as 'natural' or 'supernatural' depends entirely on one's presuppositions. They are empty categories to be filled by one's expectations. Thus, reality is neither natural nor supernatural. But you did write, "The anti-theist does not accept supernatural explanations for every day phenomenon, and trusts that things not known or understood now will eventually yield a naturalistic reasoning." "There was a time when I would allow for supernatural explanations for things I don't currently understand, but I no longer do. I as
  9. Hi Norm, The dichotomy is presupposed. The predicate ‘natural’ is utterly superfluous without ‘supernatural.’ Set against ‘supernatural,’ the meaning of natural is determined, and vice-versa. Without ‘supernatural,’ there would be no ‘natural world,’ there would only be a ‘world,’ neither natural nor supernatural. Furthermore, what is termed ‘natural’ or ‘supernatural’ is contextually loaded, dependent upon one’s expectations of the way things are. In other words, it is biased. What might be 'natural' according to one person may strike another as 'supernatural'. For those cosmolog
  10. I think the natural/supernatural dichotomy is artificial. Neither concept adds anything to empirical reality; and through neither concept can we deduce the existence of anything at all. More often than not I think what people mean by 'natural' is that which we have come to generalize about through induction (repeated observation). This however has obvious limitations and does not furnish us with an ontology. Peace, Mike
  11. It is difficult to say just how much communication ancient cultures had with each other (around 500 B.C., often called the Axial Age). From Europe to India that is a common language root as I understand it. Do I think Jesus personally was influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism? I would highly doubt it.
  12. In my experience, the greatest obstacle is not merely in that someone doesn't believe there's enough evidence for the existence of God. 'New atheism' tends to be anchored in something much deeper: a consensus view of reality that pervades our entire culture, both among the religious and the non-religious. This consensus view is very hard to break, and without that breakthrough, making any honest and critical spiritual affirmation about the nature of our existence is exceedingly difficult. The consensus view is that which has implicitly and explicitly coloured our perception to the extent that
  13. This may be right, I don't know much about tax codes. I guess I have a narrower sense of what "constitutional" means though. There are plenty of laws and codes in the US that may or may not be constitutional.
  14. How could it be unconstitutional for churches to endorse a politcal candidate?
  15. Thanks for all the thoughts so far. I agree that chapter 3 contains a message that is by now very familiar to us. In any case, I continue to enjoy Tillich's existential approach, never dividing the divine realm from the lived realm. "God's abiding in us, making us His dwelling place, is the same thing as our abiding in love, as our having love as the sphere of our habitation." One other thing of interest I found was at the end of the sermon where he writes: "It is more than justice and it is greater than faith and hope. It is the presence of God himself." This turns my mind to Job. The
  16. I don't read fiction really, so I'm probably not the best person to question. But one book I really enjoyed was 'The Gods of Pegana', a modern mythology authored by Lord Dunsany. Written early 20th century, quite brief, Dunsany's prose is superb.
  17. I think I was 11 when I was baptized. I think you're correct that around that age a person usually begins to open up to the larger meanings of life. However, it wasn't until I was around 14 or 15 that I really began to question things. I think 15 is more or less the typical age when a person starts to inquire critically about her or his worldview, beliefs, etc.
  18. I enjoyed this second chapter. It's been a while since I've read/heard any sermonizing on the Apostle Paul. I must admit that the rhetorical use of "circumcision" seems more and more strange to my sensibilities, but I understand well enough the signification. Karen, I'd be glad it indeed applied only to males. But in all seriousness I see your point. The idea "new creation" going beyond religion as such, I think, is a good paradigm. It is freeing and yet challenging; it finds unity among various religions but doesn't lessen the demands of realizing religious truth.
  19. I think this bifurcation is conceptual -- the result of incomplete philosophical visions of monisms and dualisms. I think evolution can be the whole story if we are approaching it with a sense of the metaphysical, with a respect for the ontological reality of subjectivity, where experience and meaning play a part, and not only gene and mechanism. But what most modern persons mean by evolution -- or even by "reality" -- is a state of affairs divested of subjectivity at base, which also divests reality of meaning and value. So I guess my comments on evolution depend on what evolution is taken to
  20. I personally believe that morality is derived from the intrinsic meaningfulness of our existence. On this understanding, it would be just as true to say that meaning originates in us as we originate in meaning. I think existence, subjectivity, and meaning are all connected, and are true to the very bottomless bottom, and that at no point does one make an ontological transition into meaningless, objective existence. I don't think morality is entirely reducible to physical evolution, because then we should never come to wonder about "the truth" of our intuitions and categories; we should ha
  21. I believe Dutch in that post, and as per his own explanation, was simply saying that he wishes the public sphere was home to all kinds of views and discourse on religion. But since the American people can't seem to deal with that, it seems there must be some necessary arbitration for "silence" on the whole matter. Dutch wrote, "In several instances all done according to code. But not all public leaders had the strength keep both up and ignore the yelling." He said nothing about atheists ruining the peace or whatever. Just that people couldn't handle that kind of openness. So it seems there is
  22. Hi George, This is no doubt true. But language (in the mindful, not computational sense of formal rules for symbol manipulation) requires the ability to find meaning and implication in things, which goes beyond syntax. I would agree, but this is nonetheless circular. Right and wrong, good and bad, are already moral categories, and cannot be used to explain what morality is, since they are part of what morality already means. Peace, Mike
  23. Neon, I recommend that you please read what is actually there said instead of reacting to what you perceive to be there. We can only communicate via text here, so it is of utmost importance that we make a genuine effort to understand each other by that means. Where in Dutch's post does he "demonize atheists" ect., etc., etc.? Peace, Mike
  24. I think this addresses the whys and hows I talked about, but it doesn't touch what, if anything, morality is. I think we're speaking, roughly, about the evolution of the psyche or soul. The metaphysical co-evolving with the biological, as you suggested. I find this appealing. As far as language goes, I think the ability to use language -- to experience meaning -- lies beyond the physical facts. The physics of who and what we are as human beings is not the whole story. Peace, Mike
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