The Relevance of the Concept of God

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Syne, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. Robittybob1 Banned Banned

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  3. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    So, you admit to sexual harassment?

    I can't tell. Or, maybe you don't know your answer yet.
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    We don't exactly have examples of such people, though, given that Western culture as such, even secular culture, has developed on the basis of Christianity and in relation to it.
    A particular person might not believe in God themselves, but if they are accultured in a culture that has or does, they still take on moral convictions that might have developed only in a theistic culture.

    For comparison, we'd need a completely atheistic culture.
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  7. Robittybob1 Banned Banned

    No I did not harass you, but I allowed you to feel harassed (maybe that was foolish of me) for there were double meanings in everything I wrote. But it was the innocent version you should have read, for I am a Christian, but you think of me as evil, so you only read the wicked version. So I believe you harassed yourself, and hence felt as you have explained in the Physforum thread.
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    "Charity" may be a teaching of religion; Caring for the member's of one's society is found throughout the animal kingdom, and would undoubtedly have existed in humanity long before religion.
    The more rational conclusion is that humans, as societal animals, inherently look out for other members of their society as this improves their survival chances, and that religion merely adopted this within their book of supposed "best practice" - which they then try to peddle as being exclusive to their religion.

    As soon as someone claims demonstrably non-religious animalistic behaviour (just do research on altruism within the animal kingdom, or even just research how some animals care for one another) as the exclusive remit of their religion, they lose all credence they had, in my view, as they chose to openly display their blinkered view.
    You make me depressed, arauca, that people still hold such miserable views, that they are indoctrinated to such an extent, and have failed to garner an education, that they think religion gives rise to such things rather than religion adopting those things, given the history of religion - especially Christianity in the West - adopting the pre-existing aspects of the culture that they invade so as to better accommodate them within the Christian faith.

    You also make claims you can not possibly support - you have no sample / evidence from non-Christian/religious societies and the level of Charity / altruism / benevolence (call it what you will) within that society. Or perhaps you do but I have missed it (in which case apologies)?

    I find it is something that religion tends to do, to claim all the positives of societal behaviour as their own, irrespective of whether they actually introduced it or merely adopted a pre-existing behaviour.
    But if you care to look for evidence of charity/benevolence/altruism in other animals, you'll find plenty of research on the matter.
    But heck, that may just ruin your blinkered view.
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    And we do, to an extent... non-humans. Any behvaiour found in the non-human animal kingdom that is remotely comparable to human behaviour (altruism, caring for others within the community, etc) is thus rather compelling evidence that such behaviour (that one could attribute to a "well formed conscience") would have existed in humans prior to the development of religion within human culture, and thus within a purely atheistic culture (unless we want to consider animals as believing in a deity?).

    And I was raised as a practising Catholic, and I have never heard of the "proper formation of conscience".
    It may be part of the Catechism, but as a practicing Catholic in the general population one never had to learn them and one was never tested on them.
    Maybe that made me, and makes the vast majority of current practicisg Catholics, not proper Catholics. :shrug:
  10. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    This POV has merit, wynn. Plus, many atheists were at one time in their history, ''religious'' (or perhaps raised around a particular religion, etc), and so it just makes one wonder if there could be a loose connection there. Everyone's mileage varies, but I think what you say here deserves some exploration. It's a viewpoint that hasn't been brought up in these threads, and it's dare I say a little more refreshing than the norm. (I'm rather weary of the circular arguments that tend to take shape in these threads. lol)

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    I'm curious as to what some others (atheists) might think. I see Sarkus' view.
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    No, but unless we want to consider animals as beeing created by a deity, just like humans are proposed to be.

    Here's a story from the East:

    SB 11.7.53: There once was a pigeon who lived in the forest along with his wife. He had built a nest within a tree and lived there for several years in her company.
    SB 11.7.54: The two pigeons were very much devoted to their household duties. Their hearts being tied together by sentimental affection, they were each attracted by the other's glances, bodily features and states of mind. Thus, they completely bound each other in affection.
    SB 11.7.55: Naively trusting in the future, they carried out their acts of resting, sitting, walking, standing, conversing, playing, eating and so forth as a loving couple among the trees of the forest.
    SB 11.7.56: Whenever she desired anything, O King, the she-pigeon would flatteringly cajole her husband, and he in turn would gratify her by faithfully doing whatever she wanted, even with great personal difficulty. Thus, he could not control his senses in her association.
    SB 11.7.57: Then the female pigeon experienced her first pregnancy. When the time arrived, the chaste lady delivered a number of eggs within the nest in the presence of her husband.
    SB 11.7.58: When the time was ripe, baby pigeons, with tender limbs and feathers created by the inconceivable potencies of the Lord, were born from those eggs.
    SB 11.7.59: The two pigeons became most affectionate to their children and took great pleasure in listening to their awkward chirping, which sounded very sweet to the parents. Thus with love they began to raise the little birds who were born of them.
    SB 11.7.60: The parent birds became very joyful by observing the soft wings of their children, their chirping, their lovely innocent movements around the nest and their attempts to jump up and fly. Seeing their children happy, the parents were also happy.
    SB 11.7.61: Their hearts bound to each other by affection, the foolish birds, completely bewildered by the illusory energy of Lord Viṣṇu, continued to take care of the young offspring who had been born to them.

    They talk about pigeons - and other animals and plants - in the same way they talk about humans. They think animals basically have the same kind of inner and outer life as humans (except that in the human life form, some things are potentially possible that aren't in the life form of an animal or plant).

    From this Eastern perspective, the argument that "if it is found among animals, then it is natural and not limited to humans, and thus it is not due to religion" doesn't apply, as all beings, humans and animals, get their morality from God to begin with. The one thing that humans can, but animals and plants cannot, get only from organized religion is a particular kind of devotion to God, and that doesn't have anything directly to do with what is usually considered morality.

    Google the term then.
  12. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Very interesting points also, Sarkus.

    I swear, this (link below) isn't psycho-babble.

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    It's pretty interesting.
  13. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Irrelevant: you were after an atheistic society, not merely one that is viewed by a theistic society as getting their morals from God.
    They could (and undoubtedly do) say the same about all atheists - that they still get their morality from God.
    But the question was whether there were atheist cultures for comparison.

    Do you consider animals to be theistic?
    Yes. Thank you. Very helpful.
    My point was that one should not find it surprising (as you seemed to be) that people raised as practicing Catholics do not know their Catechism word for word.
  14. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    If I have to think about it, what I tend to think is along these lines:
    Do I have a relevant concept of God? Well, do I also have a relevant concept of "conscious awareness"? Do I need to seriously consider why I have experiences, why I can see and hear, or do I just accept that I can?

    I think most people probably don't spend much time investigating their concepts of seeing and hearing, if they can do both of these things without thinking about it.
    Then, if I think this experience is connected to my "concept" of God, why do I need to investigate this connection if it is in fact, a real connection? If my experience, all of it, is in fact indistinguishable from what God "is", why do I need to question it? If I do, am I also questioning whether I can actually see and hear?
    If there's an answer, what is it? Do I need to concern myself about it, or "just get on with my life"?

    Why is there a problem with this "philosophy"? What don't you like about it? Is it too basic, or too simple an "answer"? Is your reaction something like: "That can't be right, that doesn't correspond to any definition I've ever heard about, God is much more complicated than that", etc?
    Why do you think it isn't that simple? Why can't it be as straightforward as I "believe" it is? If it's wrong, why is it wrong, what's wrong with it?
  15. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    What "culture" is going to promote stealing, killing, etc? Morals come from Man making up the "rules" for a religion and without the mythical "God" Man still has relative rules (varies by society) to live by.

    It's no different with religions. Look at the "rules" in Muslim countries. Atheism couldn't do worse than that.

    Some people still seem to have a skewing vision of what atheism is. When you speak of "atheists" as a group that is missing the point. They aren't a cohesive group. They only (necessarily) have one thing in common.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  16. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    Should I tell my mom?
  17. Robittybob1 Banned Banned

    There are the occasional instances of altruism in animals but I would say it is not the general case.

    In animals the weaker ones are pushed to the outer edges of the group so they get preyed upon first. General human behaviour as exemplified by the atheists on this thread gives me little hope that they match the righteousness expected by a Jesus follower. I would also say most Christians don't come close either.

    Have you read the Sermon on the Mount and made those principles the principles you live by?
  18. Robittybob1 Banned Banned

    Yes you should. Confess your sins before it is too late.
  19. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Evolutionary value has absolutely no impact on the focal premise. The mechanism for developing conscience works no matter how or why the concept was born and persisted. The premise would be valid even if some guy invented the concept.

    But while we are on the subject, why is it almost every other persisting biological and social trait is attributed to evolution but not the concept of god? Seems like inconsistent reasoning or special pleading.

    You still do not get it. The concept of god provides the clearest template for objective conscience, and conscience is not synonymous with morality. The idea that conscience requires "the presence of a witness" is wholly your own.

    I do not treat them as interchangeable. I made a clear distinction, which seems to elude you. How does your trivial description of empathy challenge the fact that "empathy does require some social interaction to fully develop"?

    Where did I invoke "faith or religion"? I specifically assumed god does not actually exist. Neither did I say anything about needing to believe in god. I only spoke of the concept.

    This is the fundamentalism of atheists. If someone states any benefit of a religious concept, even devoid of any admission of actual existence, the atheist leaps to the conclusion that the concept must include all the baggage it is associated with. Cognitive bias at work. This is why many atheists are incapable of simply reading what is written.

    Atheists are just so stymied that they have to insist any such person is a believer, Christian, or something else they are accustom to attacking. That is defensive behavior, and should give any such person pause.

    Psychopaths live in society.
  20. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Syne, I see a lot of silliness has happened since I last looked in. Still, this
    is not an answer to my first post.

    None of those points have any bearing on the god concept. The behaviours were present and significant for all social animals, far back in time before humans could even be identified as such. The effect of the behaviours continues through human evolution, in exactly the same way in all societies, civilized and pre-civilized, regardless of the cosmology of a given society, regardless of whether its religion is organically grown or imposed by a conquering nation; whether its central concept is of human-like gods, nature spirits, devils and angels, karma, ancestors or a universal consciousness. The late introduction of an omniscient deity who writes up a detailed list of moral edicts changed exactly nothing.
  21. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Yes, I try to ignore the noise.

    Do you have any clear evidence of conscience in animals? You know, curtailing their own behavior when isolated from any source of social pressure/stimuli. I suspect you are using a very vague or general notion of "behaviors" when making this argument.

    Every "central concept" you list fits a description of a god concept, at least insofar as my premise about conscience is concerned. I never suggested that any sort of "omniscient deity" was necessary. Again, I specifically assumed a god did not actually exist.
  22. Balerion Banned Banned

    The ability to conceptualize a higher being obviously evolved, but your suggestion was that the concept of God was naturally selected for its survival value, which is incorrect.

    As as I said before, this is a flawed premise. You make this claim based on the fallacy that all other human institutions only work when someone is watching. As I said in my previous post, morality and ethics do not require a witness. And empathy is not "feeling bad for someone who knows you did them wrong" as you suggested in the OP.

    No, since I never said that. Here you go again arguing that these terms aren't interchangeable, then interchanging them when you're desperate to score a point.

    Empathy is innate. It doesn't require learning.

  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    The crux is that whatever question we ask about this, it is already going to imply that we have taken one side or the other, the theist or the atheist one, as otherwise, we couldn't ask that question.

    By asking "Is there a completely atheistic society?" and seek a Yes or No answer to this, already involves us deciding, definiteviely, whether we are going to take the atheist or the theist outlook, and if the theist one, which one in particular, as different theisms differ on this.

    So rather than asking "Do you consider animals to be theistic?" or "Is there a completely atheistic society?", we'd first need to clarify which side we're going to take.

    We don't have any true test culture; unless we posit that animals do not get their morality from God, aren't created by God, or aren't embodied souls. I don't see how we could possibly posit any of this. Animals would be such a test culture if we took the mainstream Christian stance or the mainstream TOE stance, but not if we took an Eastern one.

    Anyway, the whole issue of religion being the source of morality and that people without religion would be brutes seems like a typically mainstream Christian thing. I don't know about Islam and Judaism; I only have a limited knowledge of those, but from what I do know, I don't recall them proposing that argument.
    Then, going East, they make it more complex by introducing the gradation and variation of religion, and how the term has several layers of meaning.

    At least from my background, the notion of a "proper formation of conscience" always seemed a very pertinent one, one that one practising Catholicism would be as familiar with as with Jesus being the Son of God. It seems of such vital importance!

    It's also what I thought of reading the OP, given that Catholicism addresses this very explicitly.

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