The G-Word.

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aruna

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Excellent article by Philip Goldberg on Huff Post, reflecting my own opinion. This is why I don't answer the question Do You Believe in God. The word basically means nothing and everything.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phili...medium=email&utm_campaign=Email+Notifications

....The (NORC) study doesn't ask if people see God as a human-like personage with likes and dislikes, or as a transcendent, ineffable something (or non-thing). Or if God has a form, or many forms, or no form. Or if God is masculine, or feminine, or both, or neither. It doesn't ask if God has likes and dislikes, or doles out rewards and punishments like a parent, or is, instead, beyond such attributes altogether. It doesn't ask if God communicates with human beings or uses certain people as stenographers to create sacred texts, or if God is instead an indifferent abstraction, more like an energy system or a creative force. The possible questions are endless, but all that is typically asked is "Do you believe in God?" as if one person's "yes" is pretty much the same as everyone else's. This makes a mockery of the complexity and diversity of individual spiritual lives.

]
 
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Chrissy

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So true. Saying "yes" doesn't mean you have anything in common with other people who say "yes."

I'd say there's more commonality among people who say "no" ...but I could be wrong.

On a side note, when I was kid, it wasn't enough to believe in God. There's a verse in the Bible that says something like "even the demons believe, and tremble." That really sucked for me, just sayin. /rant
 

Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I have that problem with such studies also. And anything that equates what God is with what people are.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

RichardGarfinkle

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I have that problem with such studies also. And anything that equates what God is with what people are.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

I have the same concern about this study as everyone else has.

Side question: Could you clarify what you mean by equating God and people?
 

aruna

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Especially so, when atheists speak of God, because usually what is meant is that man-in-the-sky who has friends and enemies and is always on MY side, and who created the world in 6 days. I can easily say, no, friend, I don't believe in this God either. But that doesn't make me an atheist.
 

RichardGarfinkle

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Especially so, when atheists speak of God, because usually what is meant is that man-in-the-sky who has friends and enemies and is always on MY side, and who created the world in 6 days. I can easily say, no, friend, I don't believe in this God either. But that doesn't make me an atheist.

Aruna. Please don't stereotype atheists. We don't all have simplistic views of what we don't believe in. The One Rule applies to respect for atheists as well.
 

aruna

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Sorry - I should have said many atheists; my post did make it sound like I meant all. Take it as a result of being time and time again reduced to that choice, and finally taking the opportinity to speak up!
 

RichardGarfinkle

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Sorry - I should have said many atheists; my post did make it sound like I meant all. Take it as a result of being time and time again reduced to that choice, and finally taking the opportinity to speak up!


Lots of people, including almost all atheists, have their religious views caricatured in false forms and illusory choices. We could make an interesting thread about how people are faced with such one dimensional descriptions and false dichotomies. We just have to be careful and respectful in doing so.
 

aruna

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To be quite honest, I do regard atheists as all more or less rejecting any and every form of religion, without discernment. Perhaps it's a misconception.
For me it's the agnostics who come in different shapes and sizes. Enlighten me!
 

RichardGarfinkle

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To be quite honest, I do regard atheists as all more or less rejecting any and every form of religion, without discernment. Perhaps it's a misconception.
For me it's the agnostics who come in different shapes and sizes. Enlighten me!

I certainly can't speak for all atheists, obviously, and you might do well to look over some of the threads in the atheism board itself. Different atheists have different views on the matter.

I can say that I am pretty well read on a variety of religions and have learned a lot from many of them about human thought, understanding, and self discipline. I would not trade what I have gleaned for anything.

But, I haven't seen any reason to consider that any religion has an accurate description of the physical world. I see no evidence for an external divinity of any kind. For that reason I belong on the spectrum of atheists.

A number of atheists that I know regard religion as essentially irrelevant to their lives. They regard the matter of the variations and possibilities of religion as having nothing to do with them. They don't see why theists see it as important.

Does that help?
 

Chrissy

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....A number of atheists that I know regard religion as essentially irrelevant to their lives.....
That's cool.

......They regard the matter of the variations and possibilities of religion as having nothing to do with them....
Also cool.

....They don't see why theists see it as important.
This is where it can get ugly. :)
 

Ken

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... atheists do have a god. They just don't personify it, like religious folk. Not much of a difference really.
 
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RichardGarfinkle

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This is where it can get ugly. :)

The ugliness runs both ways, of course. One of the hardest things to explain to someone is why you think something is or is not important. Many people have an unsurprising difficulty believing that what matters to them does not matter to other people and that what does not matter to them is of vital importance to others.

If a theist made a list of the things that they feel they get from their religious views and offered that list to an atheist, the atheist would likely be able to divide the list into three parts.

I. A list of those things that are fulfilled by other things in their life.

II. A list of those things that do not seem important to the atheist.

III. A list of things that the atheist feels are important and not fulfilled but which they do not feel that religion would fulfill.

I'm deliberately not putting entries in these lists because different atheists would put different entries in each sublist.

But I submit that if you have two theists, each of whom made their own lists and swapped them, they might well discover that they also have surprising differences in their listings. What religion provides for one theist may well not be what it provides for another, even if they ostensibly belong to the same religion.
 

RichardGarfinkle

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... atheists do have a god. They just don't personify it, like religious folk. Not much of a difference really.

This claim can be considered offensive.

Look folks, I don't want to Mod out on this thread, but making sweeping claims about other people's religious views is a form of prejudice and is not acceptable here.
 

Chrissy

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The ugliness runs both ways, of course. One of the hardest things to explain to someone is why you think something is or is not important. Many people have an unsurprising difficulty believing that what matters to them does not matter to other people and that what does not matter to them is of vital importance to others.
I totally agree. It goes both ways. The only time any of it gets ugly, as far as I can see, is when (1) someone belittles the other's point of view, (2) someone feels it necessary to justify their own point of view, or, and this is the worst one, (3) someone feels it necessary to persuade another to agree with their point of view.

It's so silly to me. I wish we could all just appreciate others' points of view, or at the very least, leave them to it. When it comes to religion or lack thereof, that is. :)

ETA: Which is one reason I don't visit this forum very often. I'll go now. :D
 
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RichardGarfinkle

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I totally agree. It goes both ways. The only time any of it gets ugly, as far as I can see, is when (1) someone belittles the other's point of view, (2) someone feels it necessary to justify their own point of view, or, and this is the worst one, (3) someone feels it necessary to persuade another to agree with their point of view.

It's so silly to me. I wish we could all just appreciate others' points of view, or at the very least, leave them to it. When it comes to religion or lack thereof, that is. :)

ETA: Which is one reason I don't visit this forum very often. I'll go now. :D

You don't have to go. This forum exists in order to have a place for discussions of religion and philosophy wherein each view is taken seriously. One goal of this board is careful reflective discussions.

The important thing is to figure out how to ask questions and make statements in ways that stake out a position (or inquire about a position) without presuming a superiority of position.

Aruna's OP in this thread is a perfect example. She sighted a poll that had exactly the kind of mindless question that is unhelpful. She pointed out the problems with that question and so started what can be an interesting discussion.
 

Siri Kirpal

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I have the same concern about this study as everyone else has.

Side question: Could you clarify what you mean by equating God and people?

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I meant I have problems with an anthropomorphic view of God or using anthropomorphic reasons to deny God. Either way.

I do NOT have problems with people who hold these beliefs...as long as they don't try to foist theirs on me...or anyone else.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

RichardGarfinkle

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I meant I have problems with an anthropomorphic view of God or using anthropomorphic reasons to deny God. Either way.

I do NOT have problems with people who hold these beliefs...as long as they don't try to foist theirs on me...or anyone else.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

That makes sense. People can get overly literal both in accepting and rejecting things like this.

How do you feel about the utility of anthropomorphic images to make it easier for people to get a leg up on understanding.

In short, what do you think of the value of myth and story telling in giving people a way to get a sense of the otherwise incomprehensible?
 

Chrissy

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You don't have to go. This forum exists in order to have a place for discussions of religion and philosophy wherein each view is taken seriously. One goal of this board is careful reflective discussions.

The important thing is to figure out how to ask questions and make statements in ways that stake out a position (or inquire about a position) without presuming a superiority of position.
Yes, and thanks!

My (very non-superior ;)) position is... whatever floats your boat, man! :)

This comes, I think, from having had religion forced on me in the past in a right-or-wrong, life-or-death, heaven-or-hell kind of way. After all of that... I'm kinda jaded. I can say what I think, and hear what other people think, just for fun, but I don't ever want to debate religious beliefs from a right-or-wrong perspective again.***

Not that anyone here is doing that. I'm just overly-sensitive damaged goods. :D

I'll continue lurking.... because it's interesting!





***Though I do like to debate freedom of religion on P&CE.
 

RichardGarfinkle

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Yes, and thanks!

My (very non-superior ;)) position is... whatever floats your boat, man! :)

This comes, I think, from having had religion forced on me in the past in a right-or-wrong, life-or-death, heaven-or-hell kind of way. After all of that... I'm kinda jaded. I can say what I think, and hear what other people think, just for fun, but I don't ever want to debate religious beliefs from a right-or-wrong perspective again.***

Not that anyone here is doing that. I'm just overly-sensitive damaged goods. :D

I'll continue lurking.... because it's interesting!





***Though I do like to debate freedom of religion on P&CE.

Debating the right or wrong of religion is rarely useful. But there is a concept of mutual illumination. Different religions tend to focus on different aspects of things. Seeing each religion in the light of others can reveal things that are harder to see if you only look at something in its own light.

This is more easily seen in some non-Western religions. In China the three major religions were Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. There is a phrase about their relationship that I'm having trouble sourcing: Three Religions, One Way.

Each of these three illuminates aspects of the other two. However, if one looked at them with an overly dogmatic view they would not seem to fit together at all.
 

aruna

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RichardGarfinkle; said:
But, I haven't seen any reason to consider that any religion has an accurate description of the physical world. I see no evidence for an external divinity of any kind. For that reason I belong on the spectrum of atheists.



Does that help?
(My bold)

See, already in your wording we come to the crux of the matter! Because of the circles I move in, of the hundreds of "theists" I know, not one believes in an external God. For us, God is internal, the very seat of our being, our consciousness, our mind.

As for the description of the physical aspect of the world: what do you think of the Advaitic teaching of Hinduism, that the physical world is not really physical; that it is all a field of energy, without differentiation?

Having grown up with a very atheist father, and having been atheist myself in my young years, has certainly affected my view on atheists; there ae those like my father who are almost militant in their rejection of religion, all religion (and yet he was always studying the bible) and those who, like you say, don't think about religion much at all and who don't find it relevant to their lives.

If a theist made a list of the things that they feel they get from their religious views and offered that list to an atheist, the atheist would likely be able to divide the list into three...

But I submit that if you have two theists, each of whom made their own lists and swapped them, they might well discover that they also have surprising differences in their listings. What religion provides for one theist may well not be what it provides for another, even if they ostensibly belong to the same religion.

My list would be very short : love, joy, strength!
 

RichardGarfinkle

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(My bold)

See, already in your wording we come to the crux of the matter! Because of the circles I move in, of the hundreds of "theists" I know, not one believes in an external God. For us, God is internal, the very seat of our being, our consciousness, our mind.

As for the description of the physical aspect of the world: what do you think of the Advaitic teaching of Hinduism, that the physical world is not really physical; that it is all a field of energy, without differentiation?

Having grown up with a very atheist father, and having been atheist myself in my young years, has certainly affected my view on atheists; there ae those like my father who are almost militant in their rejection of religion, all religion (and yet he was always studying the bible) and those who, like you say, don't think about religion much at all and who don't find it relevant to their lives.



My list would be very short : love, joy, strength!

You present two interesting questions. Let me deal with the external / internal question in a slightly more complex manner first before diving into the physical world question.

One of the aspects of an external deity would be that it would be shared. If , in effect, the same deity affected multiple minds, it would be an external deity.

As far as I can tell there is a component of human thinking that is usually attributed to divine sources. That component provides a forethoughtful, broad, deep guidance for human actions. It has no ability to control only guide and suggest. I don't see any reason to think that that component is anything but an inherent part of the human mind. I can even make a case for it evolutionarily.

On the matter of what the physical world is. A field of energy is more or less accurate, depending on what one means by energy. That the physical world is not what it looks like isn't surprising given enough education in physics. The difference between the world as it is and the world we perceive is fascinating but does not require anything beyond the physical.
 

aruna

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With internal I meant not just a thought. I meant actually, literally, all that we really are; yes, an inherent part lf thenhuman mind, but actually as foundation, bot as thought.
That is all. That is how I and the people of my "religion" regard the G-word.
 

RichardGarfinkle

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With internal I meant not just a thought. I meant actually, literally, all that we really are; yes, an inherent part lf thenhuman mind, but actually as foundation, bot as thought.
That is all. That is how I and the people of my "religion" regard the G-word.

I tend to see it as one of three pillars of thought, the one that provides meaning and therefore understanding. It seems to me that form (that is perception) and decisions arise from different aspects of mind.
 

Maxx

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Sorry - I should have said many atheists; my post did make it sound like I meant all. Take it as a result of being time and time again reduced to that choice, and finally taking the opportinity to speak up!

Paradoxically, these days you can believe in everything except an infinitely wise all-loving al-powerful being that fills the whole universe and wants to beat me up after I'm dead for my own good -- and BOOM -- you're an atheist.

Even more paradoxically -- it's not the atheists that have defined God out of all possibility -- it's the theists who have worked out something totally implausible from every angle.
 
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