jovialbard wrote:But then doesn't this collapse down to just semantics again? For someone to be an atheist they would have to not believe in any of the possible notions of God, but then that seems to be only bound by the fact that they don't call anything that they believe in 'god'. Is that incorrect?
Simply because you believe in something does not imply that it is a god. I believe in democracy as the best system of government. That doesn't mean that democracy is a god, because it doesn't have any of the properties of godliness.
Then there are properties of godliness? What are they? That's essentially what I'm asking.
jovialbard wrote:If one religion is right, then it isn't hubris that they think they're right, it's being correct, isn't it? Basically, all I'm trying to say is that in a religious discussion it is not safe to assume that all moralities are based on perceived moral standards.
Well, unless they can demonstrate that their God exists, that their God has a universal moral standard, and that they know what that standard is, there's no point in privileging their arguments with respect to morality in any way.
It's not a privilege, it's an acknowledgement of perspective and context.
...mathematics is a concept that helps us solve certain kinds of problems, and presumably God would know about how to use mathematics. Likewise, God isn't morality; morality is a concept that helps us solve certain kinds of problems, and presumably God would know about how to use morality.
This would suggest that the mathematics and morality you are talking about transcend God. I'm not sure, but some theologians may not view that notion positively
That aside: mathematics is, in foundation, just a logical rejection of paradox. It asks what is or cannot be true given a set of assumptions. Right? Mathematics is then just a space of non-paradoxical notions, right? So what is morality in the analogy?
jovialbard wrote:Ah, I think this is the crux of our disagreement. I'm arguing that's not the case. The subjective mortal goodness is not qualitatively the same as the absolute divine Good. If two humans disagree about what's moral, they can argue about it. You can't argue with God, at least not fruitfully. If there is a universal moral standard, there's no negotiating with it, there's no live and let live, there's no agree to disagree. You are wrong or you are right. In a sense this causes the goodness of something to become intrinsic as opposed to extrinsic.
This would only be the case if the universal moral standard were unbreakable...
Not sure I follow. Morality does not pertain to what can be, like the laws of physics do, it pertains to what should be. To break the laws of physics is to do what cannot be done. To break the laws of morality is to do what should not be done. What should not be done is not essentially equivalent to what can not be done. The notion that a universal moral standard should be unbreakable is conflating the laws of should with the laws of can.
To my mind though, this means that the universal moral standard, if it exists, is subservient to our own subjective moral standards. If we look at the universal standard and say "that doesn't make sense, we're going to do our own thing", that implies that our own moral standard is a higher authority than the universal standard. Even if a universal standard did exist, we would not be obliged to follow it--regardless of what it actually said--because it is superseded by the higher standard.
But aren't good fundamentalists told that if they look at a law of god and say "that doesn't make sense" then they should shut their yap and follow it anyway? For them the universal law is absolute. They hold their personal moral standards as subservient to God even if they do not understand or agree.
Nem wrote:There's certainly a level of it where it does pertain to arguments. For instance, when I'm describing my position to my boyfriend's parents I say I'm an atheist - despite the fact that strictly speaking I'm an agnostic they'll get more accurate beliefs that way.
There's another layer to it though where the term itself more or less successfully allows you to refer to the sort of groups that you want to talk about. That has more to do with whether the term you're using describes a group that can be distinguished by more than just the name. Like it would make sense to talk about the group of all Xs if X tended to have a weird socio-economic commonality.
Ah, then would a better question be: what separates the various atheistic perspectives from declaring a belief in God? Is the question 'What is God' clarified in that context?
I still have trouble with the difference between a mystical God-as-universe perspective and an atheistic perspective. What's the difference? Those guys are dirty hippies and we aren't
? Does it come down to the mystics believing in spirituality? The odd thing is that this would seem to suggest that the difference between God and not-God is whether I
have a soul. So a characteristic or non-characteristic of me defines the appropriate terminology of another entity? That seems peculiar at least.
...it seems to me that perfection may equally well exist in constantly changing yourself to best suit the situation... Water maintains the same underlying structure but the reason it can perfectly fit into almost any shape is because of how easily it changes.
But it's the property of water that it "easily changes" that makes it perfect with regard to "fitting into almost any shape". If the property "easily changes" were to change, let's say to "changed poorly", e.g. by lowering the temperature, then the water is no longer perfect with that regard. The subject of perfection must be unchanging in order to continue to be perfect for the object of perfection. If you change the subject or object then you change what axis of perfection we are talking about. This is all just to explain why perfection means unchanging. I think you're right, God can't be perfect at everything. I think Christians would permit that God is not completely compassionate because he does not show compassion to the evil doers who renounce him. However, he is perfect in his compassion in that his compassion is exactly as it should be and is unchanging. Or something like that
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:But there's obviously no contradiction in saying that, even though some power doesn't exist, it would need to exist and a being would need to have it in order for that being to be omnipotent.
What you're saying is like saying that a collector who needs three stamps to complete his collection couldn't do it, since he needs three stamps that he doesn't have, but adding them to his collection would mean that he has them.
I don't understand what you're saying. The proper analogy would seem to be:
"A collector needs three stamps that do not exist in order to complete his collection."
That seems wrong to me. Why would a power that doesn't exist need to exist in order for a being to be called omnipotent? Why would a stamp that doesn't exist need to exist in order for a stamp collector to have a complete collection? I'm just not sure I'm following where the disconnect is between our arguments.
I certainly did, you're right, the number might be hyperbole though
However, setzer777 pointed out moral realism, or something like it, and I basically said "Oh, good point, hadn't thought of that, you're right." Since then I have not argued it. Basically, I'm sure i did not
know what moral realism means when I started this conversation, an oversight on my part. I now think
I know what it means, but could be mistaken.
Moral realism is
believing in right and wrong. How does learning the name for it make the view any more plausible? It's like saying "I don't see how you can believe in God and believe in evolution," and then changing your mind because someone came to you and said "Ah, but what if you believed in evolution and you were a theist
You asked the following question:
Are you sure you understand what "moral realism" means?
I was answering that question specifically. You might understand my quote above better with that in mind. My appologies for the confusion, but I wasn't presenting an argument, merely answering your question.
jovialbard wrote:Ah, but then if all knowledge that exists is part of existence then isn't existence able to act on all that knowledge? Surely existence has acted on the number of breaths Caligula exhaled in his life, right?
Uhh, no? Unless you think "X acted on Y" just means that X reacted to Y in some way or another. But that would mean I've acted on the basis of my genetic code, which is clearly not the case. Acting on the basis of a fact requires a certain state of mind toward that fact; it is far narrower than just the fact having some causal influence on your actions.
That depends on whether I'm positing that existence is a mind or whether I'm positing that existence has a mind. If it's the latter then you're right. If it's the former then everything existence is and does is part of that mind itself and contained within that mind. Every action in reality is a thought of that mind. Thus under that perspective existence would be omnipotent.
The Great Hippo wrote:The standard I'm holding you to is simple: Have the courage to stand behind your statements.
I will do so in so far as they appear to be worth standing behind. When I've made a mistake in a statement I will seek to correct it. To do otherwise would be foolishness. I hope you aren't, and don't believe that you are, asking me to be foolish. That's my standard, can we hold each other to it?
You still haven't supplied me with a quote from someone who stated that to be a theist, you must believe in an anthropomorphic God
that you were making that statement, but I may have misunderstood you. There's also this:
LaserGuy wrote:If you say someone is a theist, that word has a very specific meaning--not just that person believes in a god (or God), but that person believes in a personal, anthropomorphic god that interacts with human affairs.
Now I may have misunderstood that as well. It's possible I'm misunderstanding the relationship between theism and God. See below:
The Great Hippo wrote:
We weren't talking about the definition of theism; we were talking about the definition of God. The classically implied definition of theism does not
require an anthropomorphic God.
The Great Hippo wrote:it's a mistake to criticize atheists for rejecting the classical implied meaning of the word -- an anthropomorphic being with supernatural power.
Okay, so just to clarify. The classically implied theism does not define the classically implied God? If that's the case, then that's where my confusion was. I had assumed that when you were talking about the classically implied God that it would also apply to the classically implied theism. I had assumed that there was some correspondence between the meanings of those terms.
Here's what you said:
If I'm not mistaken many Christian Theologians would take great offense at the notion that God is "anthropomorphic", if you even remotely mean anthropomorphic in the sense of the polytheistic gods of antiquity
Exactly how many
different ways are there for me to parse that statement?
And you've criticized that statement on the grounds that the theologians I referenced were dead. Where in that sentence did I say they weren't? Then you came at me with this statement:
when you come into a religious thread and start making broad, sweeping, unbacked generalizations like 'Most Christian theologians reject an anthropomorphic God', you shouldn't be surprised when someone actually takes you at your word and responds to the thing you said
Does the quote in that statement equal the quote that you've provided above? No. Are you criticizing the quantity
of Christian theologians that would have held that position? Then respond to the word I used, which was "Many" instead of inserting your own defaming hyperbole "Most".
Again. Is it worse that I misunderstood you when I assumed that there was a connection between 'classically implied theism' and 'classically implied God'? Or is it worse that you've misquoted me in order to make me look dumber? Are they equal crimes? Honestly, I don't really care because I'd be happy to forgive, but it seems really important to you.
...now you're waffling on what you actually said regarding those Christian theologians who reject an anthropomorphic God.
If I appear to be waffling it's only because you've 'parsed' my statement many ways but have yet to parse it the way it was written. You can't treat my responses to your misquotes as me waffling with regard to what I said initially. That isn't waffling it's clarifying. You have yet to point out how my above quoted statement is a generalization, sweeping, or even wrong. Unless you think 'many' is a misrepresentation of the numbers. If you want to have a semantic conversation about what constitutes many, and if that's really important to you... well, I would take many to mean more than a few. That still calls to question what is 'a few', but honestly if you want me to change my statement to the more conservative 'some' then I have no problem with that.
jovialbard wrote:I've admitted many mistakes, allow me to enumerate some of them:
-I failed to recognize moral realism as a possible source of a universal moral standard that could therefore inform a universal notion of good
-I failed to understand the more technical definition of theism with regard to it's evolved usage in contrast to deism, and was using a more classical pre-deist and broader sense of the word.
-I presented a playful face initially, through my inexperience in this venue, which may have been perceived as sarcastic or trollish
I've admitted to all of these faults, but If you would care to add to the list, I'm happy to learn.
-You still haven't presented a single quote from anyone in this thread that states 'Theism requires belief in an anthropomorphic God' (and you've yet to tell us you were wrong to make this claim).
I've now presented two. If I misunderstood them, help me understand how and I will acknowledge that I misunderstood them.
-You change the claims you're making without acknowledging that you're changing the claims you're making.
When did I do this? If I did, then I'm sorry I didn't make it clear I was changing my claim. I change my claims easily and often as people poke holes in them. I do so because I don't hold any of them to be sacred. I'm sorry if that gave you the wrong impression. Please point out the claims that you are confused by or where you think I am waffling and I will try to make my thought processes more clear.
-You consistently use language in a vague and unclear way.
I'm afraid I can only offer a impotent apology on that front. Language seems to me to be by it's own nature vague and unclear. I admit that I'm sometimes lax in my treatment of it, and where that has caused issues, I'm happy to clarify if my mistake is pointed out.
What I'd like to see you do, and what would probably make me stop treating you harshly:
-Either quote me a person here saying theism requires an anthropomorphic God or acknowledge that no such quote exists, and it was therefore wrong for you to claim 'several posters' were saying it here.
-Say 'Yes, I did say many Christian theologists reject an anthropomorphic God, and in truth, that statement was based on little to no evidence'.
I cannot. There seems to be evidence that many Christian theologians would take issue with the notion that God is anthropomorphic. If I have misunderstood this evidence please help me correct my misunderstanding.