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1  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Help me teach my boss about Hinduism on: March 25, 2015, 07:13:12 am
In what specific ways does Hindu practice and belief differ from place to place?
2  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Cruz announces he's running for president on: March 23, 2015, 12:08:13 pm
While at a meet-and-greet in New Hampshire last week, Ted Cruz made a joke about Existentialism. Now I don't know how much the Senator has actually read of that philosophy, but he did know enough to associate it with "chain-smoking Frenchmen wearing black", so I have to give him credit for that.
3  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: When will the "New" in New York, New Jersey, New Mexico etc be removed? on: March 21, 2015, 10:43:05 am
re: New Mexico

When the Reconquista reaches its logical conclusion.
4  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Five favorite albums on: March 18, 2015, 05:57:30 pm
It's been too long since I've seriously listened to new music. With that said...

1. Blind Willie Johnson - The Complete Blind Willie Johnson
2. John Fahey - Requia
3. Sandy Bull - Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo
4. Faust - Faust
5. Twa Toots - Don't Send Me Flowers
5  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Opinion of Étienne-Louis Boullée on: March 18, 2015, 05:50:54 pm
6  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Lucifer vs. Social Revolutionary Jesus on: March 15, 2015, 03:51:43 pm
But the person who neglects the poor and the person who commits genocide are ultimately guilty of the same crime: living according to the flesh.

If you believe that they are in anyway comparable, then I question your ethical integrity.

You yourself must think that they're in some way comparable, assuming that you think that they're both bad.

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At least you are admitting that it 'sidesteps' the conundrum.

While you just ignore it, right? Tongue

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You are essentially allowing anything anyone can envision to be placed outside of any rules so that you can continue to place value on it. The imagination of an idea is an act grounded in the physical. God is nothing more than 'idea.' Metaphysics must be rooted in physics. Abstract philosophical comments don’t necessarily have an objective reality to them but the human minds that construct and de-constuct them do. Our perception of the world is rooted in the physical. Even abstract concepts like ‘love’ are rooted in objects; physical things to show love to. Concepts such as ‘justice’ are bound to physical concepts like action, punishment and so on. Inferring a ‘mind’ of god is rooted in our understanding of sentient thought which is bounded to the physical.

I don't deny that our thoughts have a physical origin (science, as well as common sense, seems to demonstrate that they do). I just think that the thoughts themselves don't have a physical dimension in any meaningful sense, which is why I use thought to help explain the nature of god, who doesn't have a material existence either. That's the way that it has to be if our current understanding of the universe is to be logically consistent.

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All metaphysical claims are ultimately physical and all physical things have an effect on reality. That which has an effect on reality can be investigated in reality. Things that do not have an effect on reality, or things for which no sufficient investigative evidence has been provided to support having any effect on reality, cannot be said to exist in a meaningful way. All philosophical and religious claims are claims not just about reality, but about the human perception of that reality. They are subject to the same scrutiny as physical claims.

Placing the concept 'in a different room' because it's inconvenient doesn't undo that.

Do you believe in grammar?

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To take this point a little further (and it's interesting that you link what we can do with what god can do; I happen think we make the inference, not god) If our understanding, our volition, is in part guided by our physical form through its experiences and perception, by removing what is physical through death but retaining the consciousness or the 'soul', could that perhaps not inhibit our ‘understanding’ of the values of what is good and what bad, what is just and what is unjust?

It's quite possible. 

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If understanding, through some post-physical death 'reckoning' is actually furthered by being removed from our physical form (Christian theology suggests we will face the 'truth' when we die) then why be born at all? Wouldn’t having physical life be a hindrance if not a punishment, especially if you were being judged under it's influence? Why place it in physical bondage?

I can only answer these questions by saying that that's just the way that our creation is. That might seem unfair, but my concept of the deity is a fundamentally creative one, not a fundamentally fair one - fairness, after all, is a human concept.

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Why indeed judge it on the basis of what it does when in physical bondage?

My concept of the afterlife is similar to that held by the Indian religions: The universe (or God, or Brahman) doesn't care if you attain enlightenment, but whether you do or not will nevertheless have an affect on your fate after death.
7  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Lucifer vs. Social Revolutionary Jesus on: March 15, 2015, 02:41:39 pm
The problem with separating good from bad, heaven and hell, is that you are making the assumption that any system of justice is based on a series of absolutes. Which is not a human/e method of justice. The absolutes of heaven and hell may place the righteous apart from the unrighteous, but it places the unrighteous with each other; it places the person who never spared a thought for the poor and the needy with the person who not only did the same but say, obliterated thousands of people through genocide. No human system of justice would ever do that. It would not be justice at all. This is why Christianity has had to mitigate these moral absolutes, as in the passage you initially quoted, since the beginning (placing the whole dichotomy of faith v deeds or both with regards to salvation aside) because it is uncomfortable and also unsellable.

But the person who neglects the poor and the person who commits genocide are ultimately guilty of the same crime: living according to the flesh. That's why it makes sense to exclude them from the presence of God, who is pure spirit. Where their consciousness should spend the afterlife instead is a matter of debate, as I indicated in my response to the yellow New York avatar above.

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I'm going to lift something I said in a post about this last year;

An 'afterlife', places an enormous degree of importance on your actions (or perhaps, irrespective of your actions) in one life, whether you die in an incubator a few days old or just after your 100th birthday. As I’ve outlined before, as a fraction of infinite time it is so miniscule as to be of both no value and of equal value to the largest expanse of time you can envision (which still falls short of infinity). The living have technically no time at all. And yet their destiny is judged on that.

Even if you embrace a universalist position, allowing the consciousness an infinity of time in which to reflect and make peace therefore ensuring no one is placed in ‘hell’, given that no one knows what the standards of the arbiter (or god) are, it could well be that not one person who has ever lived has actually met those aims. Therefore there is no heaven, nor a hell, nor any place of finite rest or if there is, not a single person is there. As eternity has no end, then it may well be the case that we are spiritually chasing a destination that can never be reached.

The afterlife is is not a balanced concept as it is preoccupied with the transition of the soul or consciousness from the living to the not living. It pays little attention to the consciousness prior to it being embodied into a living being. From the not living to the living if you will. Given that the circumstances of your birth are beyond your control, the conditions under which you are born have a very significant impact on your life and the choices you make and can make, it is disjointed to place weight on the decisions that you make in life informing the circumstances after your death, but not place weight on ‘decisions’ affecting the circumstances of your life coming into being.

If I had to subscribe to any form of metaphysics with respect to a persons 'essence', then it would be logical, when dealing with the concept of a soul and knowing of birth and death and projecting onto the life in between the concept of a 'soul' inhabiting the body in life, to deduce that souls inhabiting bodies is something that souls seem to do.Therefore it seems logical (not that metaphysics can ever be logical) that souls need bodies and perhaps by extension that bodies need souls. Therefore if I was spiritually inclined then reincarnation, or if I was a little more masochistic, metempsychosis would seem to be more plausible.

I'm not quite sure how to respond to all of this, so I'll just try to outline some of my metaphysical musings so that you'll at least know where I'm coming from:

Everything that currently exists in our universe is the product of cause and effect. Thus, when one thinks that one has found the "first cause" of the natural universe, one will immediately be prompted to answer the question, But what was the cause of this "first cause"? Such is the objection that must be answered when one claims that the universe as it currently is has a cause originating within that same universe. However, if one moves the originator of our universe outside of it, then one can sidestep that conundrum - the originator doesn't exist within our universe, and so is not bound by the chain of cause and effect that everything within our universe is. Of course, that gives us a picture of a god that seems distant and unknowable, but one thing at least must be true: that god must have the capacity to create (a capacity which I associate with the human capacity to think). Now the existence of the soul does not necessarily follow from all of this, but if one accepts that the human mind is a kind of reflection of God's mind, then it is not unreasonable to believe that the human mind (some kernel of it) will return into some eternal non-physical realm the moment that it's released from physical bondage.
8  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Lucifer vs. Social Revolutionary Jesus on: March 15, 2015, 12:53:39 pm
Here are some of my thoughts on the issue: Human existence is a dichotomy between flesh (material existence) and spirit (intellectual existence). Those who invest the entirety of their existence into the flesh will pass away when the flesh passes away, while those who transcend the flesh and live in the spirit will continue to live on in the spirit when the flesh dies, except that they will no longer by constrained by the limits of this universe. I don't think that that's irrational or unjust.
9  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Lucifer vs. Social Revolutionary Jesus on: March 15, 2015, 09:15:36 am
So you guys really believe that people who don't give food and clothes to homeless people should burn forever?

I think that the point is that withholding one's goods from the poor is indicative of a kind of self-centeredness that has no place in the kingdom of God. 
And does have a place in eternal fire. You can't just point out how Jesus wants to reward good people while ignoring his promise of unmerciful punishment towards those who have failed to live up to his commands.

In my ideal theology, the punishment for those who live in the flesh is to also perish with the flesh. However, if one accepts the indestructibility of the soul, then the abode of Satan and the other fallen angels is a more fitting eternal dwelling place for the unrighteous than Heaven is.
10  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Lucifer vs. Social Revolutionary Jesus on: March 14, 2015, 06:22:45 pm
So you guys really believe that people who don't give food and clothes to homeless people should burn forever?

I think that the point is that withholding one's goods from the poor is indicative of a kind of self-centeredness that has no place in the kingdom of God. 
11  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Opinion of Divinization on: March 13, 2015, 01:03:49 pm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divinization_(Christian)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exaltation_(Mormonism)

I must admit to being very attracted to the Mormon notion of deification of the righteous. If I ever found a cult, a modified version of that belief is definitely going to be offered.
12  General Politics / Individual Politics / Lucifer vs. Social Revolutionary Jesus on: March 13, 2015, 11:34:00 am
Spin-off of TNF's recent poll.

For those unfamiliar, Social Revolutionary Jesus is the one responsible for the following passage:

Quote from: Matthew 25
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
13  General Politics / Individual Politics / Opinion of Distributism on: March 07, 2015, 02:42:58 pm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributism
14  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: ISIS demolish ancient city of Nimrud on: March 06, 2015, 06:40:56 pm
Year Zeroes happen every now and again.

Year 1436, actually.
15  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: ISIS demolish ancient city of Nimrud on: March 06, 2015, 12:52:46 pm
Alas, it must not be very easy to sell a city on the black market.
16  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How strongly do you agree or disagree? on: February 28, 2015, 07:48:18 pm
Why should you expect that what a person imagines is by default, logical given that it is possible to conceive of illogical things? When asleep the mind mostly conceives of illogical things. Added to the illogical things that the mind infers while awake, you could argue that we spend more time engaging with illogical concepts that logical concepts given that most logical concepts, even if we do not fully understand the reasoning behind them are self evident (and often rooted in material experiences/sequelae/needs) and don't require much thought.

Thoughts can become illogical when they're transferred to the material realm. To claim that one could flap one's wings and fly (to use a trope commonly found in dreams) would indeed be an illogical statement, except that, in dreams, one really can. So to dream about flying is actually not illogical at all.

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Why should logic have anything to do with what a person imagines? 'Logic' may infer a god (or no god); deism is not entirely outside of the realms of logical inference, but one would expect that logic would also infer one outcome from that, as opposed to so many competing notions of god that not only does every person hold a different notion from the next person, but may hold different, overlapping or competing notions of god within themselves.

I think that a person ought to apply logic to his thoughts in order to distinguish between a mere phantasm, and something that he can build his philosophy on. When it comes to the nature of God, I would say that most religious people have allowed their thinking to become debased, which has resulted in widespread idolatry. If one were to apply logic critically and consistently, I'm sure that one could come up with a conception of the divine that is intellectually unassailable.
17  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How strongly do you agree or disagree? on: February 28, 2015, 06:51:57 pm
That's why I apply different standards of proof to claims made in the different realms: If you claim to have a personal relationship with Barack Obama, I'm going to ask for proof; If you claim to have a personal relationship with God, who am I to say that you don't?

So essentially, you don't apply standard of proof to anything a person can imagine?

I suppose that I do expect the things that a person imagines to make some degree of logical sense, considering that logic itself is a product of the human mind.
18  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How strongly do you agree or disagree? on: February 28, 2015, 06:11:16 pm
A relationship with a deity is noumenal

Only if you are a Kantian. An object is not an object in itself. An object is always an object for a subject. The subject is man and man is material. His senses and thoughts are material. His relationship with anything that he postulates (because the postulation is an object of the conscious mind which is bound to the material) is material. A relationship with god is material because it is processed (whether it is reciprocal at all) within the mind.

I agree that the thoughts of men are bound by the constraints of man's mind (as are all his perceptions), but I disagree that a thought exists in the same way that Jupiter or the chair that I'm currently sitting in does. That's why I apply different standards of proof to claims made in the different realms: If you claim to have a personal relationship with Barack Obama, I'm going to ask for proof; If you claim to have a personal relationship with God, who am I to say that you don't?

1. I guess human relationships are material, then?

Yes, they are.

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2. Religion is completely unnecessary.

It's necessary to some people's happiness.
19  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How strongly do you agree or disagree? on: February 28, 2015, 04:23:47 pm
A relationship with a deity is material

No, a relationship with a deity is noumenal.

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At worst it is a 'relationship' on egg shells, which psychologically may not be of any benefit to the believer at all.

Perhaps not. In that case, the believer should reevaluate the nature of his relationship.

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Whether such relationships benefit the deity is unknowable. Even the most transient and fleeting of human inter-personal relationships are more reciprocal.

Human relationships are more reciprocal, in that both parties get something out of them. But whether one's deity gets something out of one's relationship with him/her/it is irrelevant, IMO.

That doesn't disprove my point.  You are saying in your experience irreligious people, who you incorrectly identify as materialists,


I don't think that it's necessarily inaccurate to conflate irreligious people and materialists. Or are you saying that most irreligious people don't reject the existence of a realm outside of the material?

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I asked you to name a good deed that I as an atheist am incapable of.  I didn't ask you what materialists struggle with.

There are no good deeds that an atheist is incapable of. What's your point?
20  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How strongly do you agree or disagree? on: February 28, 2015, 03:47:06 pm
I'd say that the ultimate "goal" of human existence is to cultivate an inner peace that can't be disturbed by external events. That's a challenge that the materialist is particularly poorly equipped to deal with. 

Why do you distill people's systems of 'non-belief' into base materialism? If materialism is simply reliant on other people/selves, then why can a person not acquire an inner peace through being content with themselves and their friends?

They can (though I would say that if your happiness is reliant upon your social circle, you haven't achieved true, lasting happiness, as your social circle is liable to change). However, my experience has been that many non-religious people (and many religious people) derive their happiness from things - which is a much less stable source of happiness than a relationship with one's deity, or something similarly intransitory.
21  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How strongly do you agree or disagree? on: February 28, 2015, 10:56:13 am
People are incapable of altering whether or not they follow religious belief?

I've already conceded that people are allowed to shape their own identities. What people can't change is who their ancestors are.

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It is absolutely destructive to embrace religion, for many reasons, but mostly because it contradicts in almost all instances what we've come to understand about reality.
 

One of my strongest beliefs is that people should look at their faith with an eye that's informed by the modern scientific understanding of the world. I just think that the wholesale replacement of metaphysics with nihilism is a cure that isn't much better than the disease.

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But is that even the overall question?  I think people are trying to argue that religion doesn't poison everything because it doesn't necessarily have to.  But in reality it does, through the fundamental undermining of our critical faculties.  I mean come on.  Name one major breakthrough in human achievement that religious hordes didn't try to fight.
 

Even if the "religious hordes" resisted every "major breakthrough in human achievement", religion must not have had as strong a hold on society as you probably believe that it did; otherwise, the modern world wouldn't exist.

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As one of my idols said, and I'm paraphrasing, "even moderately religious people need to step back and look at the price of their comfort".  Which is completely valid, because there is literally not one virtuous act that necessitates religious instruction, but thousands of horrible acts that require it.

But living virtuously is much easier when one rejects the narrow view of human existence that materialism so often demands. 

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I challenge you to name for this atheist ONE deed that I'm incapable of.

I'd say that the ultimate "goal" of human existence is to cultivate an inner peace that can't be disturbed by external events. That's a challenge that the materialist is particularly poorly equipped to deal with. 
22  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How strongly do you agree or disagree? on: February 26, 2015, 12:58:48 pm
I didn't choose to be here.

That's fine, but whether you like it or not, you are fundamentally connected to a particular cultural tradition. Of course you have the freedom to reject this tradition in favor of your own contrived identity, but that doesn't mean that it's destructive or ignorant to embrace those aspects of one's self that one is incapable of altering anyway.
23  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Beck vs. Beyonce vs. Kanye on: February 20, 2015, 04:18:52 pm
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one though. There just will never be an equivalency to me between someone who has the ability to craft their own music from scratch: that is write a melody, write the chords, write the lyrics, etc. and someone who has largely made a career out of rapping/talking over other people's music and modifying it in some way.

I'm unwilling to privilege any one form of pop-music creation over any other.  How is sampling any less "real" than going over the same three chords over and over?

What is more legitimately difficult and impressive, of course, is classical composition, where you're engaging in more complex forms with development and all that; where you're writing down each and every note for each and every instrument. There are a few people working in "pop" music with those sorts of chops – Sufjan Stevens is the obvious example here, he's a legitimately serious musician and artist.

This post is an excellent demonstration of why a composition's value isn't derived from its technical complexity, but from its inspiration.
24  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Atheist man opens fire on Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill on: February 17, 2015, 12:03:54 pm
Al, WHY in your view were Christians in the USSR persecuted?

Is this a serious question? The Bolsheviks were militantly anticlerical (far more so than Marx or (especially) Engels were, actually) and acted accordingly once in power. The various religious minorities didn't have a particularly fun time either.

And you think it's ridiculous to claim they were anticlerical due to the fact they were trying to establish a VERY centralized form of society and government that was dependent on everybody buying in (or forced, whatever) and being good little cogs in the machine?

By that same logic, you could argue that organized religion is an agent of social control, so no one has ever actually been persecuted for having the wrong faith, but for being a threat to the powers that be.

Religion is absolutely an agent of social control for those at the top.  Think Vatican City in the Dark Ages.  Doesn't mean individual radicals don't terrorize and kill in the name of their god or that Al Queda isn't largely faith-based martyrdom (who obviously use their methods to achieve a political agenda, as well... but still).

And do you deny that there were/are individual radicals, unaffiliated with any government, who lauded the suppression of religion in the Soviet Union, or would like to see the same thing happen today? 

No.  My entire point is that it's not nearly as common.

Perhaps not. Then again, who's to say that even those individual radicals commit violence for the reasons that they say that they do? If we're going to get into the business of judging people's motives, we can just as easily say that their hatred is inspired by good old-fashioned sectarianism, which can manifest itself around practically any distinction.
25  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Atheist man opens fire on Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill on: February 17, 2015, 10:18:07 am
Al, WHY in your view were Christians in the USSR persecuted?

Is this a serious question? The Bolsheviks were militantly anticlerical (far more so than Marx or (especially) Engels were, actually) and acted accordingly once in power. The various religious minorities didn't have a particularly fun time either.

And you think it's ridiculous to claim they were anticlerical due to the fact they were trying to establish a VERY centralized form of society and government that was dependent on everybody buying in (or forced, whatever) and being good little cogs in the machine?

By that same logic, you could argue that organized religion is an agent of social control, so no one has ever actually been persecuted for having the wrong faith, but for being a threat to the powers that be.

Religion is absolutely an agent of social control for those at the top.  Think Vatican City in the Dark Ages.  Doesn't mean individual radicals don't terrorize and kill in the name of their god or that Al Queda isn't largely faith-based martyrdom (who obviously use their methods to achieve a political agenda, as well... but still).

And do you deny that there were/are individual radicals, unaffiliated with any government, who lauded the suppression of religion in the Soviet Union, or would like to see the same thing happen today? 
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