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comment by madmatt112
madmatt112  ·  208 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Why Evangelicals—Still!—Support Trump

It's great that you have this image of me as a stereotypical Church-Warrior who's going to report back to my herd about my battles with the heathens, but it's inaccurate. Let's try and give other people some credit that they're deeper than what we can see. Religion as I've experienced it is people challenging each other on what they believe so that we can all discover what the truth is, rather than the herd-mentality echo-chamber that you seem to envision.

"You're not engaging us. You're not...you're playing "debate a heathen MadLibs" and we all know it. We can all smell it." This isn't an argument, it's a mixture of an ad hominem and strawman attacks. The strength of any of my claims has nothing to do with why I would be driven to make them, if we're having a rational discussion.

I also don't think of you as a heathen, I barely know anything about you and your experiences in life - I'm not out here trying to win Jehovah's Witness Points To Avoid The Rapture And Make It To Heaven. I'm trying to discover the truth.

"If you don't think you're better than anyone, why wrap yourself in concepts such as "moral supremacy?"" Because I think that the objective morals I live by are better than any other - that is significantly different than saying I am better than other people. You aren't able to see a difference between the two because your arguments rest on the presupposition that subjective interpretation is the firmament of reality for any person.

You've betrayed your worldview with the words "There are no truths. There are no maxims". If you do actually believe that about existence, then we can go no further in this discussion. You are now trying to pull me into your framework of subjective relativism, when a basic education/reading in logic and philosophical reasoning would show you the internal incoherence of the claim "there are no truths", and all the rationales that follow it. Your paragraph stating that the individual's interpretation is the ultimate definition of a text also reinforces your buy-in to this philosophy.

I lay claim to an objective reality and objective truths that exist outside a person's subjective experience of them. If we are unable to reconcile these two viewpoints, then we won't find common ground about this topic.




Devac  ·  208 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    You've betrayed your worldview with the words "There are no truths. There are no maxims". If you do actually believe that about existence, then we can go no further in this discussion. You are now trying to pull me into your framework of subjective relativism, when a basic education/reading in logic and philosophical reasoning would show you the internal incoherence of the claim "there are no truths", and all the rationales that follow it. Your paragraph stating that the individual's interpretation is the ultimate definition of a text also reinforces your buy-in to this philosophy.

You left the "Fundamentally: for purposes of debate, there are no truths" from kleinbl00's post. What it means is that when you want to have a discussion/debate in a classical sense, you can't have assumed truths. You have to argue them. Present facts and reasoning without silent assumptions. Why? Because opinions have no place in a debate. It's weird, bordering on being counter-intuitive, but here's the thing: I (mostly) disagree with you, but if I were to argue in your place I could feasibly hold my ground without quote-mining, (implied?) Camus' statement on truths or invoking Russel's dichotomy in all but name.

And boy, most people around here will tell you that I'm really, really bad at debating.

kleinbl00  ·  208 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Sometimes I like to poke at an opponent a little bit. See where he squeals. See where he gets offended. Gives you a sense of what drives him. Sorry 'bout that. It was useful, though - you've made it pretty clear that you do not consider yourself to be like every other happy believer sharing his love of God with strangers on the Internet.

You have to understand, however, that for purposes of discussion you're using arguments most of us have seen a thousand times. Rehashing statements that many of us have been parrying for decades. And you're at a disadvantage: Christianity isn't monolithic but it's a lot more consistent than agnosticism, atheism or, hell, literally any non-Christian tradition whether Abrahamic or otherwise. We have a much better idea where you're coming from simply because you're flying a banner. When poked, you fly it higher.

FUNDAMENTALLY: faith cannot be reasoned and reason cannot be taken on faith. The argument stops there. I have no interest in dissuading you of your faith and know (have known for thirty years) that even if I did, reason wouldn't be a useful tool. Your faith is an internal construct reinforced by external social frameworks.

JUST AS FUNDAMENTALLY: those frameworks have less than zero power to influence the opinions or thoughts of those outside that framework. If we were hangin' out, if you talked me into coming to the YoungLife dance, if I showed up some Sunday I would be within that framework and the inherited knowledge of that group would then be available to me. I would regard it as a participant in your tribe, or at least as a visitor. But we have none of that between us - we are words with attitude separated by screens.

So look. I know that you think your "objective morals" are better than any other. But I also know that you don't even know what my morals are. Just like I know that your drive to adhere to your "objective morals" puts you in a position of righteousness compared to those who eschew them. The framework necessary to say "I gotz the truth, you don't, but that doesn't make me better than you" is that internal framework we've been talking about. It's that social construct that is wholly and completely absent when you debate the Heathens.

Here - let's try an exercise in faith. For the sake of argument, I would like you to pretend that having The Truth does make you a better person. It's not much of a step, but it's a step into an alien mental framework. How do you feel? How do you regard the rest of the world? What are your thoughts on, say, the Rohingya? And what would you say to those people who think you're wrong?

I'll bet you can't do it. When confronted with the (false) interpretation of my beliefs as relativism, you peaced the fuck out, G.

Like every.

other.

"stereotypical Church-Warrior" I've ever debated.

And you don't have to do that. Great friend of mine was a youth pastor for fifteen years. Debated original sin with no less than Tim LaHaye. So I've had these discussions. And they can be interesting. Both sides can learn something.

But you're right - if you're not willing to get out of your tent it isn't gonna do anybody any good.

user-inactivated  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Man, I don't know if I want to jump into this very active thread or not, but I don't feel like starting something else, so here I am. This isn't directed at you madmatt112 or anyone else in this thread, I'm just chewing the fat here.

    faith cannot be reasoned and reason cannot be taken on faith.

While not exactly focusing on the same thing you're talking about, I think one of the important things for people to remember (both religious and non-religious) is that we're often tempted to make conclusions that fit our world view and then seek ideas and evidence to confirm it after the fact. If we're all being honest with ourselves, we all do it to varying degrees and frequencies, for any number of reasons. It's easy, it's comforting, it feels good, just to name a few.

One of the things that can make religion particularly prickly, and I'm mostly talking with revealed religion in mind, is that the belief system often intertwines law, philosophy, spirituality, and metaphysics in such a way that whether or not certain concepts are believable are wholly contingent on whether or not you accept and believe other concepts in the same philosophy.

For a super stripped down example, if someone from an Abrahamic Religion was asked whether or not they believe animals have souls, they'd probably answer "no." The logic might flow something like this. Man was created in God's image, so only man has a soul. Evidence of a soul is the ability to know, recognize, and come to God, and therefore exhibit Godly attributes like wisdom and knowledge. Humans are the only animals on the planets to embrace science and the arts to such a massive degree and this is proof God has given us souls. Therefore only humans have souls.

What that logic relies on is A) souls exist, B) God exists, and C) metaphysically the two are aligned in that particular and specific way. Since we don’t know for certain any of those three points, all we can really know for certain is that only humans have significantly higher cognitive abilities. The spiritual hows and whys are then taken on faith. Where it gets interesting though, where it gets challenging, is that because our religious faith helps to form our morals, that world view affects how someone views animals and therefore how they treat them. Combined with other religious beliefs and cultural beliefs, that means that we can run the whole spectrum from “deforestation and factory farming is okay” to “I need to embrace veganism because as a child of God I’m a steward of the Earth.”

What I’m trying to get at, is that it’s important to examine our faiths and how it affects us and to notice and reduce the blind spots that our faiths create. The more we rely on faith alone to influence our behavior and the more gaps we allow it to have, the more we run the risk of having compromised morals.

As a somewhat related aside, one of the other challenges that we have to contend with is that religion often reinforces and rewards the behavior of finding proof in subtlety and nuances. As a result, a positive feedback cycle can often be created, in that we find nuances to reinforce our world view and we adjust our world view to look for more and more nuances to reinforce and justify our beliefs. We end up looking for that needle in the haystack, so focused on the needle that we forget about the haystack, the tree it’s sitting under, the forest the tree is in, and the fact that it’s the middle of a December night and we’re standing in a random forest in Washington trying to find a needle.

Me personally? I've read up on a ton of religions over the course of my life. I love learning about them. They're absolutely fascinating and colorful and inspiring. For each one though, I've found stuff that I've found weird, uncomfortable, confusing, and sometimes silly. Yes, even my own. I'm not going to say anything particular about any religion, partly because my reactions are shaped by my experiences and world views, but more importantly I try to go out of my way to not disparage the beliefs of others unless there is an issue of deep and immediate concern. That said though, for every person out there (religious and secular), if we don't find things about our own beliefs that brings up hard questions, there's a pretty good chance that A) we're not as well versed in our beliefs as we think or B) we're not looking at our beliefs, our lives, and our selves objectively.

Understanding others and understanding ourselves fundamentally, both in a religious and in a secular sense, comes from asking questions, doubting our own preconceived notions, and challenging ourselves to dig further and learn more. Sitting idle isn't gonna take us anywhere. (Edit: That's one of the things that's wonderful about this website in particular. I have participated in and watched many challenging, insightful, and sometimes frustrating conversations.)

So to make a long story short, there can be reasoning found in faith, but we need to be really careful with that reasoning and how we wield it. This applies both to religious and secular beliefs.

kleinbl00  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    For a super stripped down example, if someone from an Abrahamic Religion was asked whether or not they believe animals have souls, they'd probably answer "no." The logic might flow something like this.

An axiom is "a statement or proposition that is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true." If we both accept the axiom, we can both debate and discuss that which flows from the axiom. Important to note: there are no axioms in science. Nothing is assumed. And when debating with someone who doesn't hold the same axioms you do, shit falls apart real quick. Watch:

    Man was created in God's image, so only man has a soul. Evidence of a soul is the ability to know, recognize, and come to God, and therefore exhibit Godly attributes like wisdom and knowledge. Humans are the only animals on the planets to embrace science and the arts to such a massive degree and this is proof God has given us souls. Therefore only humans have souls.

Axiom, so (false) axiom. Axiom, and therefore axiom. Biased observation therefore conclusion.

If you're buddhist, man isn't created in God's image. there's no reason to assume that image has anything to do with soul. Your definition of "soul" is proprietary therefore your definition of wisdom and knowledge are, too. "to such a massive degree" is a choice - if a chimp can get ants to climb on a stick we aren't the only tool makers and to wrap it all up in a "therefore only humans have souls" only serves to demonstrate how dependent on your framework your "reason" truly is.

extra_nos  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I have spent many years studying both Theology and Philosophy and am currently finishing my MA in Systematic and Philosophical theology from the University of Nottingham. Your observation about axioms is spot on. Wittgenstein described many religious arguments as playing word games. Two individuals can argue all day long, but if their definition of a term is not the same or at the very least agreeable, then there is no definite conclusion to be had.

American evangelicalism has one of the weakest systematic theologies and is built primarily upon fideism. One must give up outside thinking and enter the circle of cohesive thought to know anything at all. This goes against historical Christianity which in fact relies on eyewitness account and outside data for its conclusions. It is also common for evangelicals to assume things about Christian doctrine that Scripture does not necessarily reveal. Animals and souls for instance. The Imagio Dei does not inherently imply that animals are without souls. And in fact, if one believes in the fall, he believes that man has rejected the Imagio Dei.

The problem is not necessarily religion or Christianity but is the circular reasoning and fideism adopted by American Evangelicalism.

kleinbl00  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

(blushes)

user-inactivated  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

RECOMMEND ME BOOKS!

extra_nos  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

In addition to the books, I produce and co-host a podcast with Drs. of Theology, History, and Philosophy. We did a series on apologetics that touches on a lot of this.

https://www.thinkingfellows.com/blog/?category=Apologetics

extra_nos  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

During undergrad trained under Dr. Rod Rosenbladt and Dr. John Warwick Montgomery. They both apply analytic philosophy to Christian thought. Dr. Montgomery wrote a book called Tractatus Logico Theologicus Despite its name, it is straightforward to read and is an excellent place to start in regards to the philosophy of Christian thought. I work for 1517 one of his publishers, enter code "hubski" at checkout for 15% off.

https://shop.1517legacy.com/products/tractatus-logico-theologicus

Other Suggestions:

- C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity, and An Experiment in Criticism

- For Systematics the best reformation one is Philip Melanchthon's Loci Communes

- Modern lay level systematic Called to Believe by Dr. Steve Mueller (I studied systematics under Mueller, keep in mind this book is written for students who want to work in the church)

- Philosophy: Ayer Languge, Truth, and Logic Wittgenstein Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

This is only the tip of the iceberg haha. What I tried to come up with is the intersection of faith, reason, and a basic look at a historical/systematic approach to doctrine.

user-inactivated  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Bro, thank you both for the list and the podcast link. You've made my day.

extra_nos  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

No problem. I love making the podcast, and nearly every episode has a handful of book recommendations. We have covered the basics of Christian doctrine, Apologetics, and we have some great episodes on figures in church history. We are in our third year now, and this month I became the director of the 1517 podcasting network which I am launching in April.

Anytime you want more reading hit me up.

user-inactivated  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I pretty much agree with everything you just said here. I think one of the difficult things for us to do, is appreciate the perspectives from other people. I don't mean appreciate like we would a gift, but appreciate as in understanding the nature of something. It's very easy for us to have a kneejerk reaction where because we outright reject someone else's axiom, we are tempted to find their perspective completely without merit and unworthy of consideration.

In some instances, this is really true. If the axiom that someone holds is completely toxic that the logic that stems from it is additionally toxic, we should reject the logic. Sometimes though, it's not true. For example, even though I'm not a Buddhist and I don't believe in Karma, I am still capable of appreciating the concept of Karma, how it feeds into their notions of spiritual development and morality, and how it can and cannot inform my perspective of any statement they have to make where Karma might be a core concept in that argument.

If I metaphorically plug my ears and say "Lalala! Karma is dumb! Reincarnation is wrong! The progress of the human soul is linear and only goes in one direction! You're wrong!" I've put a severe hampering on the conversation and possibly the relationship of the person I'm conversing with. Where as, if I say, "I don't believe in Karma the way you do, but I see why you object to the idea of factory farming when you view the subject through the lens of your belief" all of the sudden the conversation goes better and I find myself looking at an old argument, through a new lens, potentially deepening my understanding of said argument and my personal position on it.

This applies in a lot of areas, not just religious, from personal relationships to public policies.

oyster  ·  208 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Question - If you already think your morals are superior to others ( even if you don’t think every bit of you is superior ) than how do you analyze your actions and change ? How do you grow ?

For understandings sake, let me lay out the religious people I know. I think the other religious ones pretend to like them (Is pretending to like somebody morally right ?) They’ll say that their religion has moral supremacy but they’re a flawed little human. ( I know you say you live by these morals so you’re not claiming the same thing ). They’ll preach to other people the morals of this religion and every time they realize they’ve been a shit person for the past few months conveniently have a revelation and decide that they’ll be different like yesterday. Except changing a behaviour doesn’t happen over night and then they just fail and the cycle repeats.

Thing is ? It’s not even that these people don’t want to admit to themselves or to us regular folks, they don’t want to admit that they aren’t perfect and God’s lights ain’t going to change that. Hard work and determination changes that. So they all just fake it until they die.

So, back to my point, they have an out when they realize they’ve been a shit person via the gods moral/I’m flawed approach. You say that the morals you live by are better than everybody else’s. So you can’t admit when you’ve been wrong. In my opinion that means you can’t grow in any meaningful way without admitting that maybe your morals aren’t perfect considering they drive most of or decisions.

It’s like when school children go to Africa and help build schools. My friend was there doing something else for a bit, you know what happened at night to the building ? The local men went and fixed everything the kids did wrong. Tell these school kids this and instead of going oh wow I didn’t realize I wasn’t helping at all I should shift my focus they get upset and defensive. You know why ? Because they only ever did it to feed a false sense of morality. Feeling like they’ve done the right thing is actually more important than doing the right thing.

So what sets you apart ? How do you take in new information and actually reanalyze your actions if you already think your morality compass is the best ? How do you grow in this regard ?