Do you talk to GOD?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by sculptor, Oct 6, 2021.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    There is a certain degree to which, sure, that range of Christian iteration is not unfamiliar, but is so generalized in your expression as to be nearly featureless. That's why it's easily described as your idol; it's your iteration of God, intended to serve your purposes.

    One of the things you passed over↑ is that certain behavior can be tied to brain function that is not necessarily unhealthy, and yes it is true, compared to the God you pursue this can easily seem utterly irrelevant. But that's also an example of why I say one trick; it's not just that you keep trying to lead back toward your inquisition, but that anything else apparently has nothing to do with anything. And maybe in your experience you just don't know that many non-Christian people who keep their religious identification.

    Anecdote: Once upon a time, an author I know, either Catholic or post-Catholic, shared with her co-author, whose religious outlook I don't actually know because it never came up, a joke about drumming. Some time after, in part because the historical and philosophical significance of the Sufi part of Sufi drumming kept coming up, I actually decided to look up the drumming, and came across a song that, these years later, kind of makes its own story for me. While it is true, I was quoting Diderot over twenty years ago, Sufism, as I mentioned to you a few years back↗, is not unimportant to being Apathetic toward the question of God's existence. And if I didn't stop to harangue Sufism about whether or not God exists, there never really was any possibility that I might become a Sufi, anyway. But the actual when and how I finally came to recognize the potential for polishing the mirror until there is nothing left is kind of mysterious, emerging as an idea that felt familiar, something known for a while. Which is what is, and don't get me started on techno music, but that cutesy bit in the author bios that might otherwise seem trivial is a recognizable early marker, perhaps even an origin point, on what has so far turned out to be a fascinating and fruitful path.​

    There isn't really any moral to the story, but if you need one, it's not exactly subtle that no, I would not have found certain treasures in studying history if I wasted that time pissing and moaning at the butt-gutter stupidest of Christians about whether or not God exists. Of everything I might have wasted my time on along the way, at least it wasn't that. And it's not really a question of bricking your reginald, but neither am I particularly uncertain about why I can hand out certain answers over and over again and the proverbial nobody cares. It is because they're not answers that work for other people.⁵

    For instance, this—

    —is as bizarre as it is suggestive: You tried a version of this a few years ago, and if it was weak then it is even more so, now. Additionally, it's worth revisiting something I mentioned not so long ago:

    • One thing that occurs to mind is an old line you once dropped about theists, and how some people you criticize don't warrant greater effort. So, extrapolating that to a broader frame than just theists: When Darwin considered the prospect of marriage, he made lists, as Darwin would; one of them included a point in favor of bachelorhood that involved the pleasure of quarrelsome nights at the pub. And if I wonder how precisely we wish to define a scholar, it is simply to wonder what sort of reasonable scholar, looking in the door to our pub they have never heard of before, would actually find our quarrelsome nights a pleasant prospect.​

    Consider the requisite naïveté, James:

    "It is strange that us atheists get all the attention around here because of what we aren't doing" — Really? Given the atheistic purview of site administration and moderation, the atheistic outlook underpins community pretenses. Moreover, compared to atheistic fretting about the behavior of religious people, or your own pretense of leading religious folk to a better place, then perhaps the failure to do anything useful—i.e., what you aren't doing—stands out, especially in an environment that ostensibly favors those atheistic perspectives, considerations, and arguments.

    "On the contrary, we hear very little from all the devout people who are convinced that they do talk to God regularly, and he regularly 'answers' them" — Just how many of those people are here, James? And how many more do you think are coming? As I said recently, if the Holy Spirit isn't moving some evangelist to properly minister to this community, we can go with the obvious point, or observe that there are, actually, many reasons. And while it's not just theists, sure, I can think of a post I wrote, once, largely about the Gospel of Luke, and if any passing scholar or evangelist ever thought maybe they wanted to dance, we can understand why they would not want to do it in a room like ours, which prefers cacophony over communication. Indeed, we need not wonder what historian would, compared to easy cynicism disdaining scholarship. Neither is there any mystery why it's not these "devout people" you refer to who are complaining about discussion of how we discuss religion, nor stumbling over their own articles of faith in the face of neuroscientific possibility. First, for the most part, they're not here, James. File under, Duh. Also, their pitch is not effective within those ranges of discourse.

    • And if we really, really need a ski-boxer's third, sure, we can consider the question of what "atheists … around here" actually do, because if the point is to seek psychomoral satisfaction in showing religious folk such judgment as one thinks those have shown others, then no, neither is that atheistic pitch effective within the ranges of discourse I refer to. And this point, about ranges of discourse, ought also be filed under, Duh. And shall we try for another, Duh: I can tell people all I might about the purpose and means of disarming God⁶, but that is not an address or idea of God that works for some of the atheists around here; quite clearly, it does not suit their needs.​

    Consider the point about polishing the mirror, James, and just imagine⁷: Buddha apparently knows something; it's also possible Jesus figured it out. And what I mean is that a certain thread of an idea can be glimpsed in the weave. The Sufi record, for its part, seems very much aware. Inasmuch as self-aggrandizement is a test woven into Sufi training and learning, I made the same mistake you just did, and maybe it took a while before the moment of, "Oh, well, fuck", finally hit, but the good news is it can evolve into the proverbial, "Oh, well, that's alright, then." Think about what you already know.⁸ The monotheistic godhead cannot be countenanced; you cannot see God in the reflection.

    One of the reasons these notions of talking to God seem so strange to you is that they seem irrelevant to the object and purpose of your focus; they are utterly different discussions, in different contexts, than your inquisition against a particular Christianist idol.

    I can keep handing you the tools to disarm the shoebox godling that is still the object of your focus, but those different ideas of and approaches to God don't suit your needs. And that's the thing, you might not have told us enough about the Christendom you experienced for anyone else to know which version you're describing and responding to, but those tools will still do their job. It's almost as if you would prefer to stay bound in some arcane but futile contest of psychomoral judgment, and burying the idol would end all that, or change too much. It's almost like Crowley's kiss in double death-pang, a tragedy of enraged futility.


    cf. Armstrong↗, "that it is far more important for a particular idea of God to work than for it to be logically or scientifically sound"; for many who purport to fret about the hazards of religious faith, certain pathways to resisting and guarding against danger require greater effort and offer less personal satisfaction than slothful antisocial satiation.

    ⁶ See, "What Do People Know About What They Pretend to Discuss" #162↗ (2019), suggesting I never have understood what so confuses ostensibly enlightened people about the idea that if you disarm the device then it cannot continue to do its damage; "Definition of God – one thread to rule them all" #132↗-133↗ (2020), reconsiders that suggestion, observes that disarming God is a simple idea but a fairly difficult process, and also tracks my discussion of the point back to 2003.

    ⁷ It is worth reiterating, ca. 2019↑: Nobody actually has to believe in any of Scripture or Apocrypha in order to grasp what I am saying.

    ⁸ And while you're at it, ask yourself why you would let some proverbial them take that away from you.

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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Let our love end as other loves begin,
    Or, slay me in a moment, unaware!
    Nay? Kiss in double death-pang, if you dare!
    Or one day I will strangle you within
    My heavy hair!

    (... tragic, enraged futility ....)


    Are you somehow unaware that part of the problem is expecting other people to deliver you some particular setup for your rejoinder? It's part of why the "one thread" needed a second thread, and also a significant motivator of your habit of rewriting what other people say, often fallaciously, in order to facilitate your intended response. Additionally, while it's true that our theistic crowd never really represented well, here, there also came a point at which they weren't representing very often, in part because so few remain. It's kind of intriguing, when you lament about theists here, how unaware you seem to be. Like stumbling over the dedicated troll because you somehow insisted on taking his insincerity sincerely, or the idea that you wouldn't recognize a pissy sock puppet whose bad attitude was a pretense of returning a favor or doing unto you as you have done unto others, or some such. The idea that you need them to fulfill some typal theistic role they don't reflect and have no intention of playing along with is what it is, James, but you can be so insistent that, sure, I can believe you really don't get it, though that would be its own strangeness.

    You've been reminded enough, though, James, that you should be able to recognize how strangely particular your demands can be compared to people's faith. Much like the Christendom you describe, the faith you inquire about is very generalized; the idea of the impossible average comes to mind, someone so average and statistically normal that they generally don't happen. Expecting the average believer of pretty much any faith to become a cosmologist, theologian, and prophet would be asking a bit much even if such gods did exist. Generally speaking, you're asking religious people to step out of their own context and into yours.

    It should be hilarious to suggest that you might have better success talking to theists if you were a little more realistic, but you're you, and here we are.

    Look, if what you want is simply to judge them according to an internalized standard you apparently can't explain, just don't expect religious folk to line up for the opportunity to suffer your abuse. Looking back at the old threads about what God does or wants, it's kind of hard to imagine what you expected.

    But it's the same setup, and for years: You ask, they answer, you judge. Also hard to imagine is what good you think that does. Maybe it brings you an ephemeral rush, or something, but that's not exactly leading them to any better place.


    There is a song, and never mind; there was also a book, when I was young. The song includes the underlying thinking, but it's the book that came to mind, years later, reading Goldman↱ spitting fire, "God is everything, man is nothing, says religion". That absurd children's book, with its distinctive color scheme, and the lumpy, ugly, little boy who feels worthless, and the magnanimous God who loves and can find everyone, even the lumpiest, ugliest, and least; I can't even remember the title, but of course that book is what came to mind.

    It's also true I don't remember praying until first grade, a sort of fear-driven thing when strike-down stories went around school. It didn't last long, and it's one thing to suggest I outgrew it, but if it eventually came down to choosing between God and masturbation, I'm pretty sure I didn't bother asking. A confirmed Lutheran who went to a Jesuit high school, prayer always seemed more a worldly formality, a performative gesture for our own living moment. It's why I was never much of a Satanist; and while witchcraft wasn't useless to me, no, I was never particularly good at being a witch. Strange irony, James: If we wish to be precise, it is because of Satanism, well after I was done with it, that I ever started studying theology. Damnedest thing.

    Still, actually conversing with divinity is its own sort of uniqueness; even accounting for what those occasions actually are—e.g., two dreams, and this thing a brain does in order to accomplish something else like continue living⁹—it's a memorable experience.

    Looking back several years↗, maybe you were attempting some sort of rhetorical maneuver that you never completed, but when you undertook the proposition that "God is a human creation", you would appear to have missed the obvious. Think of it this way, James, one of the reasons it is so easy for people to get you running around in circles is because it is easy. It's one thing if you intended to miss the point entirely, but you never really finish that sort of maneuver, so the effect over time just looks like you're missing the point, and that a discussion exceeds you.

    Watching you labor once upon a time, as if trying to miss the point, over the question of God as a human creation, we come back to what the scholar said about a God that works—i.e., that suits a person's needs—compared to whether or not God makes sense. And compared to God as a human creation, it is almost as if you need God to be a real and substantial someone, that He might know the heat of your scorn and feel the sting of your slap. And over time, yes, it comes to look like you're after a particular, personal notion of God, and no other will suffice.

    Like your recent attempt to disrupt another thread, compared to your apparent failure↑ to comprehend it: Not everything is your inquisition against God, but it's also true that even if you have the tools and framework to make a certain manner of progress, that progress requires greater effort, and while there is gratification in advancing the discussion more usefully, it is considerably different and less frequent than what you seek. It's almost a job security joke about futility, James: For what you do, there will always be someone to argue with.

    It's also true the manner of your inquisition is such that I would have to presume your intentions antisocial in order to describe progress. Your attitude and approach are as much about leading religious folk toward anything better as any pretense↗ "about the harms these beliefs do to the believers themselves … because I care about people"; and don't get me wrong, James, the part about "the point where their unsupported beliefs start having detrimental impacts on other people" really is important, but, no, that's not how you behave. Where you, me, and the proverbial next guy can all agree there's a problem with religion, I really don't see the use in making things worse.

    Inasmuch as you suggest it "strange that us atheists get all the attention around here because of what we aren't doing", we mgiht consider the general and particular. One might note, particularly, the degree to which all that you, James, seem able to do is compare yourself against theists of some vaguely Christianist pretense; "tiny packages", indeed. Even the part about "the usual bullshit rejoinders from the Faithful" is so generic as to read like a fourth-wall pitch to first-timers. More generally, it's an atheistic room, and what an extraordinary result atheists around here have wrought; the idea of waiting for some religious person to come rescue the discourse, here, just doesn't work. Comparatively, outside this forum, there is no shortage of diversity about what passes for the usual bullshit, even within Christendom. It is not that I somehow don't recognize the range you describe, James, but that it's a gloss composite, so generalized that even a Methodist joke doesn't work. It's kind of like the question of why atheists around here, a fine question per other circumstances not necessarily in effect; so, also, in its way, is your pitch against religion.

    Remember how long we've been here, James. If you're waiting for "theists" to raise the discourse, it will eventually occur to wonder why.


    ⁹ More specifically, to stay awake, in order to not crash a car in a vicious, moonlit whiteline haze, mixing witchcraft and an Iowa Award-winning short story (Miles Wilson, "Wyoming", 1989) such that the Maiden rode shotgun and we chatted about whatever. Don't be surprised if people tend to remember those experiences; a brain puts a lot of effort into occasions like that. The flaming Volkswagen microbus, though, that was real.​

    Crowley, Aleister. "Aceldama: A Place to Bury Strangers In". 1898. 3 January 2022.

    Goldman, Emma. "Anarchism: What It Really Stands For". Anarchism and Other Essays. New York & London: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1911. 3 January 2022.

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  5. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Talking to nothing regardless of mirror polishing

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  7. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    i believe in aliens because my mind has obtained sufficiently science based facts to support its logical belief.
    however, do i talk to aliens ?
    not that i am aware of
    i am yet to see any thing that makes me scientifically believe in a god being
    not to say that discounts it
    because i am at heart a romantic scientist logician
    so god existing services some of my personal desires while servicing some of my personal self constructs

    i am however
    100% sure their exists aliens who have abilities that exceed human capabilities as we currently allow science to define.

    is as far as i could read.
    i always enjoy making the time to completely read your posts
    however these anti psyche meds im on wear me out very quickly

    so i stopped here to make my point & move on
    because i feel like collapsing in bed & ive only been up for 3 hours & had breakfast & coffee.
  8. foghorn Registered Senior Member

    I've heard someone's working on a Rosetta Stone Tiassa Stone.
    Michael 345 likes this.
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    polishing the mirror to keep it free of defiling dust?
  10. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    I took polishing the mirror to be a sort of code meaning need to see things clearly

    Miss Chrome Browser informed me

    It is a BOOK - Google books

    Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart
    Front Cover
    Ram Dass
    Sounds True, 1 Aug 2013 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 192 pages
    1 Review
    Sometimes illumination occurs spontaneously or, as Ram Dass experienced, in a heart-wrenching moment of opening. More commonly, it happens when we polish the mirror of the heart with daily practice—and see beyond the illusion of our transient thoughts and emotions to the vast and luminous landscape of our true nature.

    For five decades, Ram Dass has explored the depths of consciousness and love and brought them to life as service to others. With Polishing the Mirror, he gathers together his essential teachings for living in the eternal present, here and now.

    Readers will find within these pages a rich combination of perennial wisdom, humor, teaching stories, and detailed guidance on Ram Dass' own spiritual practices, including:

    Bhakti Yoga—opening our hearts to unconditional love
    Practices for living, aging, dying, and embracing the natural flow of life
    Karma Yoga—how selfless service can profoundly transform us
    Working with fear and suffering as a path to grace and freedom
    Step-by-step guidance in devotional chant, meditation and mantra practice, and much more
    For those new to Ram Dass' teachings, and for those to whom they are old friends, here is this vanguard spiritual explorer's complete guide to discovering who we are and why we are here, and how to become beacons of unconditional love

    Since no such animal as Your Spiritual Heart I would contend the text would be filled with phrases about relaxing, finding yourself etc etc

    Not sure about polishing until nothing left

    Will have to wait until the
    comes out

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  11. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Carlos Castañeda
    polishing the bubble of the tonal to glimpse the nagual without going insane

    Shenxiu's verse read:
    The body is the bodhi tree. The mind is like a bright mirror's stand. At all times we must strive to polish it and must not let dust collect.

    Huineng wrote this:
    ...since there has never been a single thing
    where then is dust to cling?

    While in the army, we were required to polish our shoes and boots and belt buckles and other brass
    (to make them better targets?)
  12. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    Looking back at my early experiences with education, I think I can safely say there was a religious streak although none of my teachers was overtly religious.

    It seems they viewed their role as being protective of children's sensibilities. A lot of history and things about human behaviour were not studied, instead we got a curriculum full of the airbrushed versions of things like World Wars, or what happened in our own country when it was a British colony.

    I recall my own efforts to delve into that latter subject were "prevented" by a teacher; I was instructed not to spend any more time on "my little project"--so I didn't. I was up against, it seemed, an almost religious organisation, called the staff.
  13. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    ..............Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me...........
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Thanks for your reply.

    Your complaint about my postings on religion here seems to be based on your assumption that I have a limited idea of the range of religious beliefs that different people have. You assume that I'm only aware of Christian belief, and perhaps of a limited type of Christian belief, because that was my own upbringing. You are wrong to assume that.

    While I do not in any way claim to be an expert in theologies or in religious studies, I have done some reading over the years on the range of religious experience and beliefs. I am, at the very least, aware of the core beliefs and some of the practices of all of the major religious traditions in the world. As it happens, I am also quite interested in religious cults - why people join, what makes them stay, why it is so difficult to untangle oneself from cult belief, etc., so I am also quite well informed about certain fringe belief systems.

    As a person who tries to act ethically and to hold ethical views, I am concerned about the harms that various religions do to their followers and to those whom they consider outsiders. Obviously, there is very wide variation in the degree to which different kinds of belief harm their adherents, and seek to harm outsiders. On the flip side, I also recognise that there is wisdom and elements of truth and insight to be found in certain parts of religious traditions, though far too often those insights and truths are mixed up with misguided or just plain false notions. I have no desire to throw the baby out with the bathwater, however. I am very happy for people who can take the good from religion and mostly avoid the bad. I am also quite happy for people to believe whatever they want to about the "divine" or the "theistic" or more generally the "numinous", as long as those beliefs don't require them to harm other people (and I'd prefer that they don't suffer harm themselves, either).

    As far as sciforums goes, I do not, for the most, seek to drive discussion on religion. I respond to what I am presented with, most of the time. Since most of the people here tend to be Americans, I find that most of the time we end up interacting with believers who happen to be Christians of one form or another, if for no other reason than that Christianity is the major religion in the United States. From time to time, discussion of other beliefs systems comes up. I have learned things about some less-familiar belief systems here.

    When I am here, I try to find out what people think by asking questions. When people respond to me, I will often engage with them in discussion. This is, after all, discussion forum. I do not always share the views of the people with whom I interact. Where my views differ from theirs, I might share my own views (especially if asked directly), or I might ask more questions to clarify points of difference or to better understand where and why we hold different views. I also quite enjoy asking provocative questions, aimed not at provoking anger or a heated argument in the first instance, but at provoking thought first and foremost, and perhaps further dialogue if the person is receptive to that.

    For some reason, you seem to have a problem not with my (atheistic) views themselves, but with how I choose to discuss things on this site. You complain that I "demand" a particular conception of God or religion that is too narrow for your liking. You complain that I am closed-minded and unreceptive to different religion opinions. I suppose that, in your ideal world, you would rather that I did not contribute to such discussions at all, because - for some reason - you imagine that they would be more fruitful if I was not participating. More generally, I think your complaint is that the majority of religious discussion here is not scholarly enough for your tastes. At the same time, though, you seldom take the initiative in trying to start or engage in the kinds of religious discussion you say you'd prefer to have.

    I suggest that, perhaps, instead of being the guy throwing peanuts from the gallery, focussed on keeping tabs on my supposedly sub-par performance in religious discussions, you might consider being the example you claim to be. Jump in and show us all how it ought to be done! Stop focussing on me. You do you, and stop worrying about how I keep getting it wrong.

    How does that sound?
    Michael 345 likes this.
  15. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Occasionally you get it wrong (honest mistake) who cares?

    Deliberate mistake? again who cares? and who keeps track?

    You do you

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  16. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Do do that voodoo that you do so well
  17. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Here are some responses to specifics in your posts, not covered in my response above.
    What were those experiences?
    I don't know what you're talking about. What does "balbutive" mean? And when did I try to tack anything of mine onto Wicca, or whatever?
    That's all useful information, as far as it goes. I don't think it really addresses my question of how you know that anything about this Goddess is independent of yourself, though, apart from the obvious that it is a belief that is somewhat codified in a particular system of thought, as in every religious tradition.
    Panentheism is the idea that God (or the Goddess, I assume) is immanent in certain (or perhaps all) aspects of the material world, but that it also transcends the material universe in some way. As far as I can tell, there's no way that such transcendence could ever be empirically verified, which leaves the question open as to whether any of it is real. This is quite separate from the question of whether or how such a belief might be useful to a particular individual, but that question comes up in a similar way in the consideration of every other religious belief.
    Perhaps you should state the "obvious implication", since what is obvious to you might not be so to me. Otherwise, we risk talking at cross purposes.
    It seems to me that your primary concern might be whether religious belief (or religious beliefs in general) is valuable to individuals, in the sense of making them happier or more comfortable. That's a separate question to whether a god (that is at least partly distinguishable from the individual themselves) is actually listening to them or interacting in other ways with them.
    I don't think you have established that men or women are "divine" in the required sense, yet. Maybe your standards for determining what counts as divinity are less strict than mine, however.
    I understand that the practice of religion has ends other than merely holding a core belief in the divine. Religion tends to be a social and cultural activity, for instance. Is that what you mean by "dynamic"?
    I'm afraid you may have lost me with your mirror-polishing analogy. I am aware that some religious practices emphasise a certain recognition that the "self" is illusory or misleading. It seems to be a common thread for many religions to try to take people out of themselves, so to speak, to consider their place in a wider context.
    I guess one of the main issues I take with all of this is: why does it require one to believe in some kind of supernatural agent or power external to oneself? And what is the evidence - if any - that any such agent or power is anything other than a construct of somebody's imagination?
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2022
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I understand the idea that, regardless of whether an external power or agent actually exists, belief in such a thing might have benefits for an individual. Personally, I don't see that any of those benefits is unavailable to somebody who does not buy into the mythology of the particular religion that is being advocated for. Also, I'm not convinced that any such benefit outweighs the detrimental effects in devoting a portion of one's time and energy (sometimes a very significant portion) to religious activities that cannot possibly produce any benefit (if the divinity is not actually real).
    You have definite opinions about how I should spend my "free" time, it seems. You also seem to assume that what you see here on sciforums is all there is to know about me and what I have studied, in terms of historical treasures and the like. That might be a mistake.
    sciforums has never been, and will never be, an academy. We are not in the business of conducting original research or "scholarship" here, even if some of us do that kind of thing outside of this forum. This place is good for connecting with the wider public, however - those not living in ivory towers. Sure, not all scholars are interested in having much of that sort of contact, but some certainly are. I think you might be making a basic mistake if you're trying to judge the worth of this place by examining its average level of "scholarship". Maybe you're setting your expectations too high - if you're for real.
    What would be useful for me (us) to do here, in your opinion? What changes would you like to see?

    You're a moderator, too, remember. A forum leader. Aren't you?

    On the matter of our "atheistic purview", I think that, perhaps, we provide a useful alternative voice, especially in the context of the ultra-religious United States. There is hardly a lack of Christian websites and forums out there, for those who want that. Sites with a skeptical, atheistic lean, on the other hand, are significantly less numerous. Also, generally speaking, I don't think we're in the business of ramming atheism down people's throats, here. Generally, they bring their crusades to us, not the other way around.
    We tend to get a regular trickle of religious visitors, albeit not always open-minded ones.
    Your should probably be specific, if you have something in mind for what important thing Jesus and the Buddha and the Sufi discovered. Then we could discuss it. Why allude vaguely to great insights, rather than just telling us exactly what you have in mind?

    Did Shakespeare work it out, too? What about Aristotle? Or Neitzsche? Or is this thing you're referring a peculiarly religious discovery?
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Why is what I expect relevant? People will deliver what they want to deliver, regardless of what I may or may not expect of them. No guns are being held to heads here.
    You're accusing me of being dishonest, or else stupid. That is a bad habit you have - making such accusations but failing to support them.
    I give people the benefit of the doubt, at least in the first instance. Better that than to take the cynical view that everybody has an agenda and will engage in any kind of dishonest or underhanded behaviour to implement it.

    It's a good thing I have you here as an experienced moderator, to counter my naivete, though. You spot all the dishonest interlocutors much quicker than I possibly could, and you remove them from our site before they become a problem. Right?
    I respond to the information I am given. I have already mentioned that some religious people who post here have been, and are, very cagey about saying exactly what it is that they believe and why they believe it. Lacking specifics, only a generalised conversation is possible. We all have to deal with what we are given to work with.
    Strange. A minute ago you were berating me for my lack of scholarship. Now, it seems you are criticising me for a surfeit of scholarship. Make up your mind!

    Again, though, I don't see why what I expect matters. I'm not holding a gun to anybody's head. They will bring what they choose to bring (and what they are capable of bringing) - no more and no less.
    On the one hand, any judgment I might express about somebody else here will only matter to the extent that they care about my opinion. That much ought to be obvious. It sounds like your opinion of me is that I consider myself some kind of moral arbiter who has decided that religion/belief is bad and that believers are bad human beings who need to be woken up, or something like that. That would be a very limited and mistaken view of why I choose to discuss religion with people here.

    On the other hand, of course I will make private judgments about people, based on what they write here. We all do that - you no less than anybody else. It also goes without saying that I will make such private judgments according to my "internalised standards" - just like you do. Who else's standards would I use to come to an opinion about anything at all, if not my own? (That's not to say that my standards cannot be or have not been influenced by countless other people and their opinions and standards.)

    Again, whether I expect religious people to line up to suffer my (alleged) abuse is largely irrelevant. I take them as they come, if they come. People are free to do as they please. There are no guns held to heads. Historically, some have lined up many times; others have done a drive-through post or two and disappeared, never to be seen here again. Either way, I don't make their decisions for them.
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I expected approximately what I saw in those threads. There was a lot of nonsense mixed in with some insightful observations. Pretty much par for the course, here. But, again, why does what I expect matter so much to you?
    Have you asked them? Taken a poll? Suppose that it leads 1 in 100 to a better place, and makes no difference to 99 in 100. Would you count that as a win? On the flip side, you don't seem to be alleging that I'm doing any harm. (So far.)
    Thanks for sharing. No, really. But understand that your personal experience doesn't do anything to convince me of the value of your belief system - as one I ought to adopt or as one that ought to be generally adopted, that is. I'm not saying it's not good for you; that might be a different matter.
    Maybe when I was young and naive, I might have attempted to argue that god is a human creation. These days, being older and wiser, I will happily settle for arguing that there is no good reason to believe the proposition that god is anything other than a human creation (albeit, at least in certain aspects, probably not a conscious one).

    Try running circles around that, if you like.
    As a fan of scholarship, you might like to consider that putting new or alternative ideas in front of people for their consideration is not often harmful or antisocial. Considering an idea does not require that one embraces it. It may be that you want to protect people from ideas you'd rather they weren't exposed to; maybe you have some skin in the game there. On the other hand, I mostly find that when people are presented with alternatives, they will often consider their options before making a choice one way or the other. When they are poorly informed or misinformed about certain choices that are available to them, they can make poor decisions as a result. I'm sure you can think of current non-religious contexts to which this sort of thing equally applies.

    We see entire states trying to impose particular religious beliefs on their people, with lesser or greater success. Those that do general persecute those who profess divergent beliefs, and they also tend to try to control the access to information about alternatives, often through censorship.

    I would like more people to have the knowledge to put their own religious beliefs into context, at the very least, so that they are able to make a meaningful choice among the available alternatives. Religions are mostly inherited traditions, and the religions themselves tend to actively discourage looking outside. I call that antisocial.
  21. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

  22. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    It's probably time to have a certain discussion, James, about the idea that there are two of you, or me, or any of us. That is, there is an actual person who reads discussions and types responses, and then there are the characters we play when doing so. The question of how any of us relate our person to the persona, ourselves to the characters we play, is perpetual and dynamic, each to their own. More directly: How we feel about how other people respond to our online personas varies from each to the next.

    Short form, maybe you, the person on the other end of our exchange, feel stung and treated poorly by other people's responses to the character you play online. For the most part, only you know how those to aspects of yourself are related.

    Sometimes someone might feel criticism of their online persona does not reflect the real person they are. And perhaps that mismatch is in its way true, but we can question if the criticism of their post really is a critique of the individual person, or perhaps of a persona, a role played.

    One of the results of this duality is pretty obvious, that people sometimes take criticism of the character they play online as criticism of the self behind the keyboard. And, sure, that part can get complicated, but this also feels like a discussion we shouldn't need to have. There is, after all, an old line about people here being reasonably educated and not needing to be shielded; toward that I would expect the basic notion of two selves, the real and the virtual, easily recognizable. And, sure, every once in a while, circumstance suggests maybe it's a discussion that needs to happen.


    To wit:

    We should probably start with this: No, James, you are not immune from criticism unless you wish to be immune from consideration; if you wish to be exempted from consideration, then don't post, because if you think that your behavior is somehow beyond the range of appropriate consideration, you'll need to explain how that works.

    Here is an example:

    Well, think of it this way: in my post↑, I linked back over a decade↗ to discussion of those experiences; additionally, a subsequent paragraph makes the point, and a subsequent post in the series↑ explicitly enumerates, and with all that right there in front of you, your response is to ask for what is already right in front of you.

    Do I need to actually repost the text from fourteen years ago? Is there something about the two explicit addresses in the posts you responded to, placing the experiences squarely in the human mind, that is somehow confusing, or not specific enough, or ... or ... well, that's the thing, James: In trying to figure how to answer to your satisfaction, I actually need to assess your behavior. I mean, on this point, it is unclear what you are asking for.

    Those years ago, considering what those experiences were was a point to dispute evangelical Christian claims of "personal experiences with Him"; this time later, nothing about that has changed. Dreams, psychedelia, road fever: Really, it remains uncertain which part confuses you.


    The thing is, you, the person on the other end of this discussion, already know. What that means is easily illustrated by a simple joke: I know you can read, James. And, sure, you know how to read, but that also means you pretty much have to be aware, after all this time, how the character you play, the James R persona, behaves. As I said a couple months ago↑, your response in an earlier post did make the more specific discussion of your behavior seem useful, but figuring out what to do, how to respond in a way that reasonably accounts for what can be discerned about your reading comprehension, is its own sort of adventure.

    There is a version of this that wonders if I need to post a photograph of five paragraphs of text in order to compel you to read them contiguously, but that's the thing: I know you can read, James, and your laborious pretense of confusion is an interesting exhibit if we take any time to consider who you think it fools.

    An old line, that there are two possibilities, they are either unable or unwilling, comes to mind because you've been at this for a while. It's not some growth phase, or style you tried on to see how it looks. It really does seem, in its way, a genuine performance. Still, over time it really is an unbelievable character. And, sure, truth is stranger than fiction, but that point, in itself, helps us none in the moment.

    Only you know how you feel about the "you" that we see. Consider that you say, "As a person who tries to act ethically and to hold ethical views", and maybe you, the living person who writes the posts, believes that and tries to act that way in daily life, but no, that does not necessarily reflect the James R character you play here. And maybe you really do feel you are "concerned about the harms that various religions do to their followers and to those whom they consider outsiders", but that is not evident in your argument or address of religion and religious people. To skip forward for a moment, because you provide an example:

    This is such bullshit, James. I've been asking you for years how you think your behavior helps, even according to your own expressed concerns, and this appeal to a circumstance simply not observable in effect is your latest contortion in avoiding the question. You don't have an answer, and it's also true that I've told you before that your method makes things worse, so it remains unclear what you expect I will think when you suggest, "On the flip side, you don't seem to be alleging that I'm doing any harm." Is it that you weren't paying attention, or can't remember, or are somehow unable to grasp the implication?

    And remember, there is you, the person who writes the responses, and decides to present an oversensitive, forgetful, almost doddering façade of truculent disingenuousness veering into dysfunction. It's one thing to consider that, sure, you have your reasons, but the flip side is that you probably shouldn't complain if people observe the perpetual clodhopping confusion underpinning the indignance of the character you play.

    Still, looking at the implications of what goes into your question, "What were those experiences?" yes, it gets that complicated that quickly, because none of this is really new. So, to circle back 'round on just this little meta-whirl:

    I know on some level it feels good to have at someone like that, but it seems like it would probably be better to do so when the point actually applies. I mean, there is the thread on discussing religion↗, compiling resources and perspectives; or maybe that other thread about religion itself↗; I might even try to have some fun↗ with the study of history; or maybe contribute↗ usefully↗ to↗ other↗ people's↗ threads↗; even when I disagree with someone, it's easy enough to include relevant↗ historical↗ analysis↗.

    That's just a quick list. "Jump in and show us all how it ought to be done!" probably sounds better when there isn't an extant record to point to. Comparatively, it's not a matter of saying I think I already posted something↑; it is not at all uncommon that I can point↗ directly↗ to what I said, just like I was able to find what I said over a decade ago.

    So, yeah, I might have reason to wonder about the "you" that you present. Either don't take it personally, or do, as such; only you know the relationship between your living and virtual selves. But, yes, your behavior does make consideration of your behavior seem useful. And, yes, all that for just the one little distraction.

  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    I believe you.

    Baby talk. Funny bit of trivia: The word comes to us through Calvinism. See #135461 (2002)↗ for early use here at Sciforums; it occurs late in the first quote of Armstrong. It's not an unusual word in my posts; see #3593876 (2019)↗ for a more recent example.

    It's true, not everyone knows the phrase, tacked to the shed, as it isn't precisely based on the song ("that's him, there, on the shed!"), but, still, the sentence—

    「You'll find postgarnderian Craft doesn't tend toward the balbutive, postchristianistic pseudoliteralism you're so anxious to tack to the shed.」

    —does not really warrant the question about tacking onto Wicca. A more simplistic rendering of the sentence is that 「you will find Witchcraft is not like the childish sort of Christianity you whine about」.

    And that's the thing, James, I know you can read. So, are you ready:

    James R: If it doesn't talk back, how do you know there's something in the idol that isn't you?

    Tiassa: Regardless of whether She talks back, how does one know there is something in the Goddess that is not oneself? It's postgardnerian witchcraft in the age of the Spiral Dance, so pretty much everything about it is self.

    James R: ... I don't think it really addresses my question of how you know that anything about this Goddess is independent of yourself ....

    So: You asked how we know there is something in the idol that isn't self; I answered that pretty much everything about it is self; you complained that it doesn't really answer your question about how we know there is something in the idol that isn't self.

    Do you get it, James? You asked, I answered, you complained I didn't answer. At this point, it's unclear what to tell you because I have no idea how you managed to get that as wrong as you did. I mean, really: "apart from the obvious that it is a belief that is somewhat codified in a particular system of thought, as in every religious tradition"? At that point you seem to be reciting some stock doctrine.

    Like reading paragraphs contiguously: You managed to blow right by the point that witchcraft doesn't quite work like your disdain expects. Not only was that sentence transitional from the one that preceded it, about postgarnderian Craft and postchristianistic pseudoliteralist balbutive, you manage to insist otherwise, declaring the Craft "somewhat codified in a particular system of thought, as in every religious tradition". Compared to the differences between modern witchcraft and, say, Chrisitanity, you managed to assert a similarity you probably cannot explain, and likely isn't there.

    So, sure, but on this occasion, empirical verification is a change of subject. Remember, the underlying question was other meanings of talking to God; I had mentioned↑ being able to offer at least three other versions just off the cuff, you challenged↑ me to do so, and I answered↑. Empirical verification is a separate question.

    As I said, this time the implication regarding the question of whether God is listening is to observe the answer is as inherently affirmative as it is irrelevant. The simplest way to put it is that the Christians you fret about so much are actually idolaters; what they worship is not actually God, but some false idol. You don't even have to believe in God in order to understand that part, James.

    And, honestly, after this many years that you need it spelled out like that is its own question.

    And this is you being unable to pry out of the box you've crammed yourself into. Consider your argument↑, "Talking to God tends to be a one-way conversation, unless one is hallucinating, schizophrenic or similar". As I said along the way, both these other versions of talking to God are sort of a one-way conversation, but if we consider how they are not, it's an obscure point having to do with laughter being social behavior; that is, the behavior can be tied to brain function that is not necessarily unhealthy. You, however, remain unable to consider the idea of talking to God in any other than your usual disputing context.

    Yeah, y'know, James, it's not necessary that I do. Remember, this has to do with what it means to talk to God, and it would be at least a little ironic if you are somehow the only one who gets to decide.


    Like I said in the note, the actual doctrine remains inchoate; little has settled in recent decades because there isn't really any pressure to do so. Meanwhile, no, this isn't the kind of religious practice that your puppet-theatre inquisition is honed for. It's an American splinter sect, so no, it isn't going to make sense to you. But inasmuch as this is about talking to God, the way it works is that there was a doctrinal dispute about Allah incarnate, and one of the answers was that He is incarnate in every man. And within that sect, by definition, yes, I can literally go have a drink with God. (What's that? It doesn't live up to your definition of God? Let's not go there.)

    And yet you're so close:

    The short form: To polish the mirror is to make what you see in the reflection better, i.e. better yourself. Even Christianity, for instance, has a version of making oneself like God (Mt. 5.48). But this is itself an illusion. One cannot countenance the fullness of God; thus one cannot truly see God in the reflection. As I said, if you scrub it all away, so that there is no reflection, I cannot promise that is the wrong answer, and in that way talking to God becomes talking to nothing at all. There is a weird futility about trying to live up to the strange expectations of an Abramic God. In its way, the seeming impossibility of it all is supposed to be humbling: Even the righteous can only rely on faith that they are right.

    The idea that it doesn't really matter, that there is nothing one can do, is inevitable. And the way that starts to make sense, the way the psyche retcons itself into wisdom, is to put a numerator over infinity, or, as such, recognize that truth transcends the boundaries of human comprehension. Like panentheism, we now countenance a proposition of God that is tautological at most, utterly inherent and therefore ineffective; or, as Diderot put it, something among the most sublime and useless of mysteries.

    It doesn't.

    (I mean, sure, there is a lot to suggest magickal or supernatural thinking is an inevitable waypoint in the evolution of the human mind, but, no, supernatural power is not absolutely required.)

    It's all in how you say it.


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