A theist and a non-theist being friends - Is it possible, and how?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by wynn, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. domesticated om Stickler for details Valued Senior Member

    I wonder if some of these threads are written by people that live in a bubble or Amish or something.
    I don't think I've met anyone that gives a shit enough to not be friends based on something that trivial....... except rattlesnake handling David Koresh weirdos and elitist snobs.
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  3. Balerion Banned Banned

    It would be fascinating to know how Wynn came to this conclusion, but, predictably, she has bailed.
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Bad faith makes you see bad things, and even things that aren't there.

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  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    From what I understood, the ideal of a theist is to devote their every breath to God.

    I am well aware that there are self-declared theists who do not devote their every breath to God.

    However, I question the integrity of these people then - why consider oneself a theist and make a point of doing so, if one doesn't have the intention and doesn't make every effort to be a theist?

    I also question God then - why does God allow for people to make a point of calling themselves "theists" if they are less than perfect in their theism?

    Moreover, I question what sense it makes that the Universe is organized so that we ordinary people have to rely on other people for all input on the topic of "God" - when those same people are less than perfect in their devotion, but we have to give them full credence anyway? I find that extremely grievous.

    I've already admitted that I have some unresolved theodicy problems. And not having resolved them does affect how I relate (or non-relate) to (self-declared) theists.

    Because that is the only way theism makes sense to me.

    I can't imagine some half-assed effort and calling it "theism."
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Your own sleepless nights.
    Your own troubled, doubled mind.
    Your own struggles to keep yourself believing that God is good, even if you don't have a straightforward argument leading to that conclusion, and all you've got left is to grit your teeth and think long and hard that "God is good."
    And it certainly must be straining to consider the Bible your authoritative reference text, and yet set yourself above it and pick and choose from the Bible - as if you knew better than it.

    No. I want to see how self-declared theists reject the more fundamentalist variations of their religion.
    Political correctness, humanism, introductory logic is what they use.
    I can use those too, but they are not strong enough.

    But unlike some people, I am not willing to grit my teeth and just believe that God is good, nor am I willing to fearfully rest in the hope that my liberal version of religion will be sufficient.

    Perhaps I just expect too much from people who claim to be theists.

    I haven't decided yet that I can't trust a theist. Don't put words in my mouth.
    I am just very skeptical.
  9. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    For example, Matt. 25

    The Sheep and the Goats

    31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    2 Thess. 1:

    5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
  10. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    There you go: you're speaking from the position of strong atheism.
    That way, it is easy enough to dismiss theism.

    Epistemology deals with how we know that we know something.
    Surely there is a world of epistemological difference between someone who has first-hand revelation from God, and someone who just goes by what other people have said about God.

    The fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

    Yes. Primarily, the intention is different.

    You apparently have a very limited, very narrow, very atheistic (!!) idea of theism.

    You seem to think that demonstrating one's theism is about wearing a crucifix around one's neck, or wearing a particular type of outfit etc.
    While these things are certainly part of the manifestation of one's theism, the actual manifestation of theism is, arguably, in the intentions one has for doing this or that.

    An ordinary person does things with the intention to primarily please themselves; a theist acts with the intention to please God.
    Outwardly, the two may be doing the same things, say, going to work or cooking or cleaning up, but their intentions for doing it are categorically different.
  11. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    i've met some awesome people, and they all had problems. None of them was perfect. Maybe it would be something you had in common with that theist you are talking about if you both put a lot of importance in having a reasoned ideology, and wouldn't just say, "it doesn't matter, as long as you both like eggs". Actually, it sounds like you are basically saying, if this person is not some perfect person, not that they are saying you are going to hell but that you are saying they are going to hell too, if there is a hell, because their theism is not perfectly executed. If i wasn't friends with anyone who is wrong about anything, or they expexcted me to always be right if they are going to be friends with me, i doubt i would have any friends. What i am saying is that all these people here seem to think you are obsessing way too hard, making such a problem out of this, and if you knew someone who understood where you were coming from, and just looked at it as an interesting quirk in your personality instead of something negative, i would think that would mean something to you.
  12. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    No, those are the same sleepless nights anybody who cares about these things will have, even a saint is going to stay up trying to understand more, they aren't just going to ooze around in a state of bliss all day long. I am quite comfortable with my ideas at this point, although i do feel i have millions of things to learn.
    No,it is only you who believes that a theist could never get depressed, feel bad, or question anything. Any double-mindedness that occurs is because normal human function is to have some amount of monkey-mind, is not a problem with religion, it is a problem with being human.
    you clearly don't understand anything i am saying about that concept. nothing. God is either good or worthless or the devil himself. It isn't up to me. My belief is in something worth the name, if i am wrong i guess that is unfortunate - i have zero struggle gritting my teeth and forcing anything. I certainly have much less of a problem trying to call God good than a fundie who is basically saying God is good for him and bad for most everyone else.
    first of all i would like for you to try an experiment where you open the bible and ask it to explain itself to you. It is a book and no matter how much truth it contains it isn't going to choose anything for you. it isn't a magic book that gets you out of bed to jog 10 miles every morning. Also, i think it quite ridiculous to assume the kind of literalism the fundies teach, which is that the bible somehow communicates itself with no mistakes to humans. Clearly that is wrong if even two people disagree on what it means. And the pope is obviously not inerrant since there have been some screwed up popes, so if not him who should i believe has the answer when so many disagree? You can't just say you believe all these different authorities when they disagree or you are setting yourself up for schizoid interpreting. You, wynn, just can't get over the idea that the only religion you find meaningful is fundamentalism taken to a logically insupportable level.

    So, no, you need to do much much better than saying, "your religious ideas don't turn you into a magical superman who can jump buildings in a single bound." I am still waiting for you to present a problem.
    so basically what you are saying is fundamentalist variations make MORE sense than the other ones? So it is more sensible to think the earth is 10,000 years old and know the scientists are wrong, than to think that God can call a thousand years a day, or a million or a billion? Maybe people are just taking the best thing they can find, because they realize they see things with eyes and minds and not perfect, higher than science, metaphysical master machinery.

    neither am i, so that's cool. Please refer to the above where i point out you don't have a clue as to what I am talking about when i say "god is good", if you think i am gritting my teeth or fearful. I am certainly less fearful than when i was a fundie, because i am not trying to grit my teeth and ignore logic or science. If you are talking about natural human fears and issues then guess what, theists get to STAY human. They don't magically transform into angels or superheroes. You really need to listen to ken wilbur talk about the superhero god that little kids believe in that makes all the broccoli in the world go away and replaces it with hamburgers. It is a psychological stage that adults get past.

    So it looks like my dog is going to do die soon, I am sure if i was a real theist I wouldn't feel bad, or care at all, i would just get onto my next breath and do something "for God". That is just inhuman to expect from anyone on earth, it is wrong, and i don't care if that is an argument from emotion and not logic, it is true and you know it.
    I am not sure why you would use the word "people" in the same sentence as the word "theist".
  13. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I don't think there is any necessity to demonstrate one's theism at all. Walking down the street I would not be able to recognise a theist from an atheist, except in those who want to give an outward show of their position.
    Only if the theist's every waking moment is spent thinking about their theism, and how they should be doing things.
    Do theists have an interest in football? Is their interest with a different intent than an atheist? Should they not discuss their interest, and possibly even their thought processes behind their interest?
    I disagree - a theist is merely someone who believes in the existence of God. Period. There is no necessity for any practical consideration. Religions may teach differently, but theism is not religion.
    Perhaps you confuse theism with being devoutly religious?
  14. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    A belief that doesn't somehow translate into actions isn't a belief at all.

    Sure, I noted this before.


    Some seem to.

    On principle, it should be.

    Why shouldn't they??
    How come you ask this?

    And that is an atheistic definition.

    Of course there is.
    For example, try showing up at a job interview claiming to have such and such degrees and expertise, and then expect the potential employer to just believe you.
    There is always necessity for practical consideration.

    Perhaps some staunch atheists do.
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I think it is a problem with some ideas that are sometimes promoted as "religious." I do believe that there are ideas out there promoted in the name of God that can make people crazy.

    Elsewhere, you said that you have to keep believing that God is good, and not just because He is "the biggest gorilla."
    That lead me to what I said about you believing that God is good.

    No, the only way I find religion meaningful is when it is pure devotion. All the great devotees and mystics would probably agree with me on this.

    For some people, I suppose it's just strange that such an idea would come from the mouth of someone like me - someone who is not religious, not a theist.

    I suppose if your aim is to be an ordinary human who happens to be religious, then no matter what I or anyone else would say about the problems with that is not going to sound plausible to you.

    That will depend on what you mean by "fundamentalist."

    You know, I've never had much appreciation for my exposure to some Hindu forms of theism, but I am really starting to develop some of that appreciation.

    Do you believe that the dog is a living entity just as yourself, except that he is currently embodied as a dog, while you are in a human body?

    Read the sentence.

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  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Sometimes I wonder if you've had very many Christian friends who let their hair down in friendly chats. There is a wide spectrum of Christendom. Many people who identify themselves as Christians and are also accepted as Christians by other Christians are more into the sense of community than the dogma. From this perspective it's probably not quite correct to contrast atheism with Christianity. Atheists are defined by our stand on one issue. Christians are defined by their aggregate rating on a dozen or more traits, which include behavior as well as belief. If you press them they'll say, "Sure, I believe in God and Jesus," but when you leave they may never think about God or Jesus until the next time some uppity stranger causes them to. See below for my comment on the Jews, for whom this point goes even further.

    Religion does not necessarily = theism. Your OP asked specifically about theists and we all went along with it, but it's time to recognize the fact that very few people identify themselves as theists, the way we all identify ourselves as atheists. When we encounter someone who says he is a Christian (the religion we're most likely to encounter in the USA), we have not plumbed his depths to find out what he thinks about theism, or even if he thinks about it.

    Sorry, I didn't understand that at all. What exactly is "strong atheism?" Semantically it seems like it would be the most aggressive kind. So why then would a "strong atheist" find it easier to socialize with a Christian than a weak one???

    Pardon me for pointing out the obvious fact that I know my friends much better than you do. We're all entitled to use our own criteria in deciding whether to trust people, based on how well we know them. I know religious people whose loyalty I trust as much as I trust my dogs, and dogs are the most loyal creatures most of us will ever meet.

    You're making a cartoon out of them. As I said, you don't seem to have gotten to know very many Christians very well. By now millions of Christians have been exposed to Maslow's Hierarchy and many of them have no problem admitting that the reason they breathe is that it's programmed into their CNS--just as many of them have no problem admitting that the world is more than 6,000 years old.

    All of his DNA, his instincts, his national culture, his educational background, probably a good portion of his hobbies and entertainment... do I need to keep going?

    Judaism is a religion of laws, not doctrine. Particularly in the Reform congregations which probably dominate American Jewry, they want their members to be good spouses, parents, friends and citizens, and they don't even care about keeping kosher and observing the Sabbath. If you live a good life, then your views on the supernatural aspects of the faith are ancillary, so long as you're not a putz who argues them in the synagogue on Friday night. Judaism does not have priests; every man (and today in the more progressive communities every woman too) is urged to read the Torah for himself and argue over what it says with the other Jews. This requires learning Hebrew, and being able to recite it and talk about it is the central thesis of a bar mitzvah ceremony (and now the bat mitzvah for girls). Yet they are also required to have done charitable work to prove that they're good citizens.

    So yes, there are atheists in Jewish congregations.

    But the route from belief to action is a long and circuitous one. Most people are not as articulate as our little community here who spend half of our lives arguing with each other. I don't think the average person--theist or not--could tell you how some, many or all of his beliefs have manifested themselves in actions. I suspect that many people couldn't even state many of their beliefs articulately.

    Huh??? Are you suggesting that Dictionary.com is a subersive atheist organization?
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    But since when does a belief have to translate into all actions, that you seem to feel should be the case with theism?
    Why should one's interest in a sport, for example, be with a different intent just because one is a theist or an atheist?
    I'm asking because I see this as a driver behind friendship... and while you can't see how theists and atheists can possibly be friends, you do seem to agree that they can discuss their interests etc.
    So either there seems to be a contradiction between your positions, or we differ on what could possibly drive friendship.
    Care to cite any other definitions? Does the theistic community have its own dictionary?
    I disagree. Claim that you have six toes on one of your feet and see if the employer cares.
    I.e. not every claim or belief need be considered in every occasion.
    I see no difference with regard the belief that god exists... unless one is part of a religion, what need is there to consider it further? Sure, occasions will arise for practical consideration, but there is no need - and not in every situation, every occasion.
    Possibly. But the comment was with regard you, not them. So mentioning them is irrelevant.

    Perhaps you can clear things up by giving us your definition / understanding of theism, as it does appear we are arguing on different understandings of the term.
  18. Balerion Banned Banned

    It's just that I've been down this road with you before. I'm very happy to have been proven wrong in this case.

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    Whose ideal? I've never heard this before.

    But even if this were true (which I do not believe it is) what use is it to define the entire group by some perceived ideal? It would be like asking how bodybuilders can be friends with non-bodybuilders, what with all the demands Mr. Universe has to meet. Clearly, not all bodybuilders are Mr. Universe.

    One can be a theist without being pious. Again, we must remember that a theist is simply someone who believes in at least one god. It says nothing of their religion. Theism makes no demands except that one believes in a god or gods.

    This question means nothing to me, because it presumes a belief in god, but I will say that it is flawed even aside from that. Who are you to determine what makes "perfect" theism? Where do you get the idea that theism must be as you say it is?

    Again, who says we have to rely on others? Can you name for me a religion that does not provide a personal path to God? It seems to me that the hierarchy in religious organizations are inventions of power-hungry men.

    This is why people say you should read the source material. Instead of listening only to others, why not ground your understanding in the texts themselves, so you have a leg to stand on when you disagree? At the very least, you'll disabuse yourself of silly ideas like the one at the heart of this topic.

    Couple of things here. First, if this is true and you're aware of it, then how is it you've so comfortably taken the position that theists and non-theists should not be able to get along? Secondly, why would it affect you? How does a theodicy problem translate to personal relationships? Please explain.

    But the ideal you see these people falling short of is apparently one you've invented yourself. Why should anyone be beholden to your interpretation of theism?
  19. Balerion Banned Banned

    Says who? And besides, that's not where you're drawing the line. You've decided that theists who don't perform "enough" actions aren't really theists at all. So it isn't a matter of belief not translating into action, it's belief not translating into the amount of action you've arbitrarily decided is mandatory to meet the requirements for classification. But your personal definition--while valid to you--is clearly not shared by others.

    Which principle, exactly?

    No, it's the actual definition. You have a very ugly habit of dismissing definitions and actions as "atheistic" when they don't agree with you.

    No, it's what you're doing right now. You've invented a dogma and applied it to theism as if theism were itself a religion. This is incorrect. Theism in not religion, it is simply a belief in a god or gods.
  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    If this would be coming from an atheist, I would understand.

    I don't understand how a theist can make such a statement.

    Surely acting in such a way that is pleasing to God will be the optimal way to relate to all other living beings.
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

    So to be a theist is to be inhuman?

    I'm sorry, I just can't fathom where you came up with such an idea.
  22. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    How do you know what is pleasing to this "god"? What makes you think it desires anything from us at all?
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Read again the post you're replying to.

    I don't know the particulars. I was arguing from a truism.
    See below:

    God might not desire anything from us; but surely it is in our own best interest to act in such ways that lead to our true happiness. And if God is the Creator, Maintainer and Controller of the Universe and those who live in it, then acting in ways that are aligned with the notion that God is the Creator, Maintainer and Controller of the Universe and those who live in it, is our own best interest.
    Basically, it comes down to giving credit where credit is due: If God is the one who rules the Universe, then God is the one who should be given credit for that.

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