Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

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uwot
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by uwot » Sun May 12, 2019 12:41 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 12:16 pm
Uwot, obviously you have outgrown these children's stories. I think there is still a lot of good in Christianity if it's reinterpreted for modern adults.
The good is in the modern adults. They simply have to forget this bollocks about being born wicked and in need of salvation.

Belinda
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Belinda » Sun May 12, 2019 1:01 pm

I had not understood the supposed need of salvation was connected to the belief that one is born wicked. Thanks!

uwot
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by uwot » Sun May 12, 2019 4:43 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 1:01 pm
I had not understood the supposed need of salvation was connected to the belief that one is born wicked. Thanks!
Well, it's the thing that those of us who have never been blighted by religion despair of. Ya don't need some fucking 'perfection' to love, just do it and if there is an afterlife, take that along with you, not the anxiety about whether you are doing it right.

Belinda
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Belinda » Sun May 12, 2019 6:15 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 1:01 pm
I had not understood the supposed need of salvation was connected to the belief that one is born wicked. Thanks!
This must be what they are referring to when they talk about "Adam's sin"; that people are all born evil or with evil 'in them'.

Alizia
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Alizia » Tue May 14, 2019 2:31 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 1:01 pm
I had not understood the supposed need of salvation was connected to the belief that one is born wicked. Thanks!
It is somewhat interesting to understand uwot's total opposition to all of the essential concerns of Christian worldview, and his aggressive posture in regard to this sort of thinking & seeing (if you will), as arising from a rejection of the essential tenets of Christian belief. I think that to understand uwot's position one does have to understand it in that light: absolute rejection. At the point where the rejection becomes complete and absolute there is no conversation possible, and therefor no sense in the discussion. And what happens when such *conversations* are polarized is that they seem to break down into animosity and contempt.

But it is not that 'one is born wicked' -- that is an interpretive statement or a restatement which leads to misunderstanding -- but more I think that one is born 'tainted'. One can be very good and yet be tainted, which is to say to have inclinations. The entire notion of 'temptation' is as complex as that of 'salvation'. These are key-concepts in Christian belief and to understand them does not mean that one cannot continue to dis-believe them!

The creation story, and the element of the Fall, is a way of describing, and also of interpreting, the world that we find ourselves in. These are cosmological visions. I say 'we' and exclude you and uwot since both of you do not accept the basic premise. But these ideas have certain functioned, and for a long while, in Occidental traditions and ideation. It is a mistake to assert that they are diminishing, too. The essential tenets of Christian belief are not diminishing but interpenetrating among different sectors of a world population. This can be viewed 'sociologically' simply as an on-going phenomenon, though I gather that you would see this as something regressive, not progressive.

Personally, I do accept the basic premise, and at the same time I can examine The Story and understand allegorical content and also *meaning*. I agree that my position is rather weird though. I see through the Story (some elements of it), but I hold to the meaning, and indeed seek to increase the meaning of the meaning, to augment my grasp of it: to make it more real rather than unreal.

If you (by that I mean you as anyone) were to ask me what 'salvation' means to me I would certainly have something to say about it. But I only want to point out, and I think fairly, that I do not see uwot as interested in any sense in such conversation. (And please excuse me for speaking about you in the third-person uwot. I took Belinda's comment as a point of departure).

It is not hard to see that once the metaphysical essence of the Story (that is, of a fall from Grace) is undermined, and once one gets to a point where one has no respect at all for the essential belief underlying the story, that all that one has available to do, is condemn and ridicule. This does not in itself bother me, not personally, but it is not an area where productive conversation, and thus of understanding, is possible.
This must be what they are referring to when they talk about "Adam's sin"; that people are all born evil or with evil 'in them'.
Well, if the Story is adhered to, it is dealing in a perhaps crude way with 'causation' and with 'effect'. But I fully admit that if one can see no value and perceive no meaning in the notion of a causal event that brings man into a 'mired' world, one is duty-bound to reject the Story and then the meaning connected to it. I guess you might say that I support atheists and non-Christians in their choices! I see the logic in those choices. But I believe that the 'absolute rejection' I notice is a mistake. For one reason that it excludes comprehension of what others understand, and what our culture has understood, and then also because I believe it is a 'metaphysical mistake' that can have consequences for the one who rejects the essence of the meaning.

Myself, I am interested in all the upsurging 'traditionalist' views, and my interest extends beyond the Christian structure of belief and for this reason I like to think that I can examine those 'structures' and understand the degree to which they underpin the Weltanschauungen of all of the Earth's people, throughout its history. I admit to being also interested in what happens when any such metaphysical view is rejected absolutely, and I note this rejection in uwot. I think it is fair to say that his position is 'informed', insofar as he seems to study the former Medieval cosmology. Your poisition is less informed because, as it turns out, you did not until now grasp how the idea of a fall, in Christian thought, presupposes the notion of 'savior' and 'salvific processes'.
Uwot, obviously you have outgrown these children's stories. I think there is still a lot of good in Christianity if it's reinterpreted for modern adults.
To see them, and to describe them, as 'children's stories' is part of an interpretive project, part of modernity, and a significant aspect of the formation of 'modern view'. But it is also part-and-parcel of a 'project of contempt' and this is only fair to point out. Because (obviously!) if you see the people around you as children, this means that you do not and cannot have respect for what they perceive and what they understand.

Taken a bit further, there is also in such an assertive statement the unstated view that your understanding is that of an adult (in comparison). So, it fits into the general pattern of 'applied contempt'. You are making a statement about your own view as being adult and therefore superior. The implication is that if those who see as children could abandon their childish views, and see as you do -- you, the adult -- that progress would be made. And here of course the cultural fight begins -- the culture wars in certain senses -- because if I challenge your view of yourself, and your epistemological platform as 'adult', it might happen that you would learn that I see your view as not sufficiently mature. Then, the conversation breaks down along those lines.

I do not know what the 'adult' view about this life, and about meaning and value, really is. It is an open question.

Also, if you think it through, the notion of 'reinterpretation' of the Christian children's stories is untenable. I would suggest that it cannot really be done. I mean, it can be attempted that I certainly believe. But in this sense I would *support* uwot's basic position over yours: if you cannot believe, and if you do not believe, in the basic premises that underpin the Christian view, then it, and potentially all 'religious' orientations, should be necessarily rejected in absolute terms. If I understand correctly this is what uwot seeks to do and is doing.

You are 'sitting on a fence' to some degree. And at the same time you do not actually understand the metaphysics of the Christian view. It would be hard to preserve the meaning brought out by a defective metaphysical understanding, while rejecting the metaphysical position and understanding that made the appreciation of the meaning possible!

Why not, rather, just go forward in the absolute rejection of it and everything connected with it? (I am not joking here though you might think that I am).

Belinda
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Belinda » Tue May 14, 2019 6:06 pm

Alizia wrote:
Because (obviously!) if you see the people around you as children, this means that you do not and cannot have respect for what they perceive and what they understand.
I respect everybody including children but I don't believe or trust some people's beliefs.

A modern faith is one where each adult is responsible for his own independent beliefs.


People who have accepted popular interpretations of The Bible without criticism or reasoned examination have not necessarily regressed, although regression is one way to be resilient following trauma. They might never have been exposed to the possibility of independent interpretation and perhaps also using the useful learning tool of scepticism.

I intend to sit on the fence, if fence-sitting is accepting uncertainty.

I actually did not quite understand the doctrine of salvation until uwot expressed it so simply and at the particular juncture that he did. After that quite a few religious phrases I've heard from various Xian sources fell into place. I wonder if all Xian sects subscribe to salvationism.

I am not a Christian because I think that Adam did well to obey Satan and disobey God. I cannot imagine a Paradise where obedience is all that is required for virtue.

Alizia
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Alizia » Wed May 15, 2019 1:50 pm

Belinda wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 6:06 pm
I respect everybody including children but I don't believe or trust some people's beliefs. A modern faith is one where each adult is responsible for his own independent beliefs.
Naturally, I understand what you are saying. I think I also understand why you say it and how your view -- an assertion in its own right -- fits into modernity. We are alike in this sense -- as we all are likely more similar than dissimilar -- and that is because we have been forged in the same cultural and intellectual furnace. Nevertheless, you did not deal with the essence of my critical comment. While I do understand that you view Christian belief and the tenets of those beliefs as being childish, the larger question I have is about what is really 'adult'.

If I were to make a comparison, for example, between, say, a family that lived in and through the childish Christian beliefs, and juxtapose that family with another in which the specific metaphysical foundations had been removed, I would be curious as to how I would decide who is 'more adult'. If I were to extend this example to a wider culture I am not sure if I would immediately decide that, say, the general atheistic culture in which these specific metaphysics had been abandoned had resulted in a better or more 'adult' culture and also person. My observations, so far, is that I would incline toward the family that held to the metaphysical traditions, but you might determine that my personal bias is at work.
People who have accepted popular interpretations of The Bible without criticism or reasoned examination have not necessarily regressed, although regression is one way to be resilient following trauma. They might never have been exposed to the possibility of independent interpretation and perhaps also using the useful learning tool of scepticism.
Well, I am interested in what you are saying taken on the face, but I am also interested in the implications of what you are saying when they are taken and looked at from a certain distance. The terms you employ -- these are outlooks and also methods -- are 'criticism' and 'reasoned examination' and 'independent interpretation'. I would agree that presented as such and outside of a context that these are 'quality traits'. Yet there is also a set of assumptions that underlie them. Those traits are allied with or bound up with a larger perspective and as such it tends to erode 'former certainties'. But isn't it possible to ask questions about these traits and these methods? I don't mean to be simply difficult, the question seems valid and interesting.

The criticism and reasoned examination and independent interpretation that you ask for is, I think it is fair to say, a bit like a chemical with caustic quality. Wherever it is applied it will eat away at the 'structure' of what it is applied to. As such, it is not really a 'method' but more a 'process'. When applied to to 'the metaphysics of Christianity' first one would have to have clearly understood and defined what those are. In fairness I would say that I do not think that you have any base in understanding that 'metaphysic'. I mention your recent revelation that the notion of salvation is tied to the Christian notion of a Fall (from Grace). Therefore, if you were to apply your 'corrosive chemical' you would be guided not by a genuinely critical methodology, but simply by the corroding action of the 'chemical'.

I would suggest that what I have described here is how a great many people approach their criticism of the tenets of Christianity, but more importantly to the essence of the 'metaphysical structure' that under-structures it. So, pushing forward a bit more: am I to regard what you do here as being particularly or especially 'adult'? Obviously, the answer is no. I would further suggest that what you do is opposite. But I would have to spend some time and try to define better what you do, and why you do it, and I would have to make an effort to be fair about it, and not merely 'reactionary'.

But I will say that you methodology is unfair. That is one way to put it. It is also 'inappropriate' because anyone can quickly see that a corrosive chemical will eat away at whatever it is applied to. Nothing is gained really from applying such a chemical and observing what it is applied to melt. It is an 'immature method' if I might push forward with your own critical stance. It is non-critical. It is merely destructive. Once it has eaten through one object, what is the next object it will successively eat?

And I suggest that this process, non-intellectual and is seems to be, is common. So, with that said, I would suggest putting 'the chemical' to better use. Or another use: let it be applied to itself! Or, let it be seen and understood for what it is: not a method, but a process.
I intend to sit on the fence, if fence-sitting is accepting uncertainty.
Again, I understand what you are saying because I have been raised in a similar intellectual culture. But what results from 'accepting uncertainty'? You have, unless I misunderstand, established 'uncertainty' as a worthy object. But why? What is to be gained? There are, don't you think, other possibilities, other lines of action? You are entirely free to establish your existentialism within uncertainty mind you. But I am equally free to ask -- I would hope poignant -- questions about this choice, and what has brought you (and of course the larger culture) to such a position. What is gained by it, as surely something must be gained? And what is lost by it, as something surely must be lost if 'metaphysical certainty' is recognized as 'healthy' and 'necessary'. Why must we live in 'metaphysical' and 'ontological uncertainty'? Who says?
I actually did not quite understand the doctrine of salvation until uwot expressed it so simply and at the particular juncture that he did. After that quite a few religious phrases I've heard from various Xian sources fell into place. I wonder if all Xian sects subscribe to salvationism.
Yes, I did understand that. And I would simply suggest to you that if you are participating in a discussion that involved understanding a topic, that you have evidently little understanding of the topic you are discussing! How could I take your critical comments seriously if you do not understand what it is that you are criticizing? How could you ask me to take you seriously?

But there is a much larger question and it involves seeing that a larger culture is 'critiquing' something that it does not have enough experience with to fairly critique! That will result -- wouldn't you agree? -- in simply 'seeing the object dissolve' as the caustic chemical is applied. What kind of 'method' is that? It is a thoughtless and, pushing forward on your term, a childish one.
I am not a Christian because I think that Adam did well to obey Satan and disobey God. I cannot imagine a Paradise where obedience is all that is required for virtue.
I suggest to you -- politely -- that you do not understand the implications of what you are saying here, because you do not understand the metaphysics of Christian view (and other metaphysics too, of other religious views and other cultures). You would need to have a definition, a description, of what Christians mean when they refer to perdition within the material processes of 'the world'. You would have to understand what pratitioners of this religious metaphysic were conceiving of when they understood themselves as 'lost' or 'drowning' within their own, say, material desires, and you would have to understand (better) what ascent to higher levels of spiritual being and awareness were for them. For them, not what this might mean to you, today, and the ways that you might ill-conceive what they understood and what they meant.

You see, that would be a 'fair' way to approach those people (and this does mean 1500 years of European Christian culture and many of its creations, its art and its values, its jurisprudence and its ethics, et cetera) and what they dedicated their lives to. I suggest -- trying to be fair -- that it seems to me that reading what you write you have a very superficial understanding of all that. And it is a big all that.

I would suggest -- and here I move more into a declarative phrasing -- that when people lose their link and their relationship to divine principles and also to 'transcendent being' as an object of consciousness, that giving them over to 'Satan' (as you have presented the name) and losing themselves in materialism and unconscious, material desire and processes, is in no sense a positive eventuality!

But you see I have (I think) a better sense of what is there at the essence of Christian understanding, and I am speaking in relation to that. You do not have this understanding and thus, to be honest and fair, you are hardly in the conversation!
I cannot imagine a Paradise where obedience is all that is required for virtue.
Yet perhaps you are misunderstanding? We certainly do live in a world where something is required of us. And that 'something' is undeniably bound up in the application of our intelligence. We gain nothing by acting non-intelligently. We lose ourselves. We also can squander gains. So, 'obedience' could mean something more relevant perhaps than what you are suggesting as 'meek uncritical docility' as 'virtue'.

But, I could only admit that when we refer to this Ancient Story of the Garden and of Paradise we are referring to allegory. I will suggest -- and I think fairly so -- that what thoughtful people have devoted themselves to (the Christian saints if you'll allow the term) is an understanding of the psychology of their motivation in this 'world' that is so overpowering as against our idealism.

The dream of a former paradise is a way of seeing the 'condition' we now find ourselves in. (I would agree that there is a childish element in this Story, but an adult could take it to a higher level). Idealism is related to transcendent conception. And therefore the allegorical value of this Story may mean that it has to be rejected as literal.

Belinda
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Belinda » Wed May 15, 2019 6:17 pm

Alizia wrote:
While I do understand that you view Christian belief and the tenets of those beliefs as being childish, the larger question I have is about what is really 'adult'.
An important myth such as the Christian story with its theme of Fall, Incarnation, and Salvation can be interpreted literally or metaphorically. One's attitude to Adam's rebellion may be that Adam did well to defy authority when he did. Individuals' childhoods undergo a stage when obedience to authority is the sum total of morality, and whole societies can also be attuned to the morality of obedience. We know about modern theocracies in the Middle East where independent thinkers are at risk of imprisonment or beheading.

If I were to make a comparison, for example, between, say, a family that lived in and through the childish Christian beliefs, and juxtapose that family with another in which the specific metaphysical foundations had been removed, I would be curious as to how I would decide who is 'more adult'. If I were to extend this example to a wider culture I am not sure if I would immediately decide that, say, the general atheistic culture in which these specific metaphysics had been abandoned had resulted in a better or more 'adult' culture and also person. My observations, so far, is that I would incline toward the family that held to the metaphysical traditions, but you might determine that my personal bias is at work.
I understand that most Christians believe in immortal souls and life after death. The ontology (metaphysics)that underlies this belief is substance dualism as described by Descartes. I'd say that the more 'adult' family in your scenario is the family that had lived through the literal interpretation as then they could orient themselves in history.


The terms you employ -- these are outlooks and also methods -- are 'criticism' and 'reasoned examination' and 'independent interpretation'. I would agree that presented as such and outside of a context that these are 'quality traits'. Yet there is also a set of assumptions that underlie them. Those traits are allied with or bound up with a larger perspective and as such it tends to erode 'former certainties'. But isn't it possible to ask questions about these traits and these methods? I don't mean to be simply difficult, the question seems valid and interesting.
I do agree that the frame within which reasoning takes place should also be examined. Uncertainty is a positive virtue and the only defence against idolatry.
'the metaphysics of Christianity' first one would have to have clearly understood and defined what those are.
Do you know of the several theories of existence ? I wrote the metaphysic of Christianity is substance dualism.
am I to regard what you do here as being particularly or especially 'adult'? Obviously, the answer is no. I would further suggest that what you do is opposite.
I do bring fairly adult learning and morality to these discussions. I backslide sometimes. Few people attain the most advanced stage. Apparently Jesus did so.
But I will say that you methodology is unfair. That is one way to put it. It is also 'inappropriate' because anyone can quickly see that a corrosive chemical will eat away at whatever it is applied to. Nothing is gained really from applying such a chemical and observing what it is applied to melt
.

It's your choice whether to feel corroded or challenged. This is a philosophy forum but not a devotional forum.

Belinda:
I intend to sit on the fence, if fence-sitting is accepting uncertainty.
But what results from 'accepting uncertainty'?
Protection against idolatry.


Yes, I did understand that. And I would simply suggest to you that if you are participating in a discussion that involved understanding a topic, that you have evidently little understanding of the topic you are discussing! How could I take your critical comments seriously if you do not understand what it is that you are criticizing? How could you ask me to take you seriously?
Because I admit to my ignorance . I cannot know everything.
But there is a much larger question and it involves seeing that a larger culture is 'critiquing' something that it does not have enough experience with to fairly critique!


I respect any insights from you which result from your religious devotions. Whether you express your insights poetically or explicitly I will respect them and hopefully learn from them.

Belinda:
I am not a Christian because I think that Adam did well to obey Satan and disobey God. I cannot imagine a Paradise where obedience is all that is required for virtue.
I would suggest -- and here I move more into a declarative phrasing -- that when people lose their link and their relationship to divine principles and also to 'transcendent being' as an object of consciousness, that giving them over to 'Satan' (as you have presented the name) and losing themselves in materialism and unconscious, material desire and processes, is in no sense a positive eventuality!
When you say materialism I think you mean devotion to material possessions and temporal power. You are mistaken .Atheists and other non-theists not self seeking and they do in fact appreciation the arts and other attainments of humanity. Many atheists and other non-theists look to the examples of prophets, seers, and other good men and try to make the world a better place. It is not beneficial to Christianity when a Christian accuses sincere and well meaning philosophers of superficiality and "materialism".
You are so vain about your special holiness! What happened to humility?



(Belinda):
I cannot imagine a Paradise where obedience is all that is required for virtue.
Yet perhaps you are misunderstanding? We certainly do live in a world where something is required of us. And that 'something' is undeniably bound up in the application of our intelligence. We gain nothing by acting non-intelligently. We lose ourselves. We also can squander gains. So, 'obedience' could mean something more relevant perhaps than what you are suggesting as 'meek uncritical docility' as 'virtue'.
What , explicitly , does obedience mean to you?


The dream of a former paradise is a way of seeing the 'condition' we now find ourselves in.


It's an excellent allegory and that some people believe it literally detracts nothing from its value.

Alizia
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Alizia » Thu May 16, 2019 12:00 am

Belinda wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 6:17 pm
When you say materialism I think you mean devotion to material possessions and temporal power. You are mistaken. Atheists and other non-theists not self seeking and they do in fact appreciation the arts and other attainments of humanity. Many atheists and other non-theists look to the examples of prophets, seers, and other good men and try to make the world a better place. It is not beneficial to Christianity when a Christian accuses sincere and well-meaning philosophers of superficiality and "materialism". You are so vain about your special holiness! What happened to humility?
You may have misunderstood. I cannot be vain about any 'special holiness' because I definitely have none! I sense from what you write that you don't understand one of the primary, if not the primary, Christian realizations. It is as I described it: the sense of having fallen from grace and into sin. And the internal Christian work, if you will, is to confront one's fault or one's contribution to the state in which one finds oneself. Within Christian belief, as far as I have been able to tell, one is in an essentially dependent relationship when it comes to the Christian attainment: restoration and thus salvation.

I think that if you look into Christian literature -- especially the writing of the saints -- you will quickly understand that this is what Fall refers to, and that salvation refers to a transcendent act of grace, which is understood to be a divine gift, unattainable by man alone.

I am absolutely sure that an atheist can appreciate beauty and appreciate art, so here we have no argument. I also believe that an atheist can be moral and ethical. And in no sense am I accusing you of anything. What I did do is point out your lack of understanding of basic Christian doctrine: a fair observation.

My larger area of concern is what happens to a culture -- a community -- when they abandon the practice of Christian relationship to the divine, to God. I mean in the long-run. I am not convinced that the result is good, but I do understand that the argument is made that such a culture should not be hindered in what I refer to as 'high achievement', though atheist.

I honestly do not see it though! But my area of concern does not have to be yours. And I believe that I clearly understand that your views -- your interpretation of reality -- does not include a transcendental aspect. I have no problem with that. And I believe that I understand on what view it is founded.
The ontology (metaphysics) that underlies this belief is substance dualism as described by Descartes.
I do understand the concept of Cartesian dualism, and certainly that Christianity defines God as absolutely immaterial (if I understand correctly), and that the soul is of that same 'stuff', and that the soul is what makes man different. You are right to point out that Christian ontology stands in contrariness to the ontology of modernity if I can employ such a glossary phrase.
I do bring fairly adult learning and morality to these discussions.
Again I think you misunderstand my point. You have said that Christian belief is childish. I merely reversed this and ask if, in fact, your methods are necessarily more 'adult', or result in more 'adult' outcomes. But keep in mind that if I say such a thing I do not have you as a focus. I am talking, or trying to talk, about the larger issues that surround us: what is going on in our culture. I do not think that atheism, as I understand it and see it operating, is a more 'adult' choice. I actually think it is a rather 'childish' conclusion. I would argue that it takes more of an adult to grasp the transcendent and to choose to 'ally' oneself with it. But I understand that you do not feel this way. And that you are not alone!
It's your choice whether to feel corroded or challenged. This is a philosophy forum but not a devotional forum.
You have also misunderstood what I tried to express here. It is not that I feel either corroded or challenged. It is that there is a strain of atheism or atheistic activism that, to my mind, seems uninformed. I could mention you as a rather good example of what I mean. You argue -- if you will permit me to put it like this -- against Christianity, yet you do not have a good grasp of what Christianity is. Why should I take your argument, and your critique, seriously if what I understand is true?

Actually, you could feel 'challenged', as you say, by my statements to you about this. That would be an unusual reversal, wouldn't it? Since I suppose that you assume, in a philosophical environment, that a Christian view cannot involve 'metaphysical truth'. Isn't that one of the basic assumptions that function in our modern era? I hope that you won't mind if I put it like this but don't you really feel that you, as a rationalistic atheist, are the 'adult' arguing with the Christian child? (If you don't actually think this way, just say so and I will accept it).

You are right of course: this is a philosophy forum. And I do not see the tenets of Christianity as being distinct or incommensurate with philosophy. There is of course a Christian philosophy. And Christian thinker have been, and still are, intimately involved with philosophy and reasoned thinking.

Belinda
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Belinda » Thu May 16, 2019 10:03 am

the sense of having fallen from grace and into sin. And the internal Christian work, if you will, is to confront one's fault or one's contribution to the state in which one finds oneself. Within Christian belief, as far as I have been able to tell, one is in an essentially dependent relationship when it comes to the Christian attainment: restoration and thus salvation.
I take this as an explanation and description of Christian doctrine and feeling from Alizia, as an experienced and knowledgeable Christian, and I appreciate it.
I think that if you look into Christian literature -- especially the writing of the saints -- you will quickly understand that this is what Fall refers to, and that salvation refers to a transcendent act of grace, which is understood to be a divine gift, unattainable by man alone.
And this too see my comment above.

I am absolutely sure that an atheist can appreciate beauty and appreciate art, so here we have no argument. I also believe that an atheist can be moral and ethical. And in no sense am I accusing you of anything. What I did do is point out your lack of understanding of basic Christian doctrine: a fair observation.
Fair enough

My larger area of concern is what happens to a culture -- a community -- when they abandon the practice of Christian relationship to the divine, to God. I mean in the long-run. I am not convinced that the result is good, but I do understand that the argument is made that such a culture should not be hindered in what I refer to as 'high achievement', though atheist.
I honestly do not see it though! But my area of concern does not have to be yours. And I believe that I clearly understand that your views -- your interpretation of reality -- does not include a transcendental aspect. I have no problem with that. And I believe that I understand on what view it is founded.
The "transcendental aspect " of my views is that absolute good/God cannot be attained although fleeting glimpses of it can be experienced alas soon to be drowned in the ambience of relativity.
Approaches to the absolute those which sometimes succeed in transcending time and degree vary . However that would-be approach to the absolute i.e. obedience to a temporal authority is a present danger; please refer to what I wrote earlier(may be in response to Immanuel Can not sure)about theocracy in the Middle East. Adam had to quit the safety of the Garden so that he could voluntarily find God . Does God not want intellectually free creatures? I mean of course as free as possible.

"Christian relationship to the divine" : Christianity evolves it always has and still can. A leading churchman once said to me that Christ is a "moving icon".


I do understand the concept of Cartesian dualism, and certainly that Christianity defines God as absolutely immaterial (if I understand correctly), and that the soul is of that same 'stuff', and that the soul is what makes man different. You are right to point out that Christian ontology stands in contrariness to the ontology of modernity if I can employ such a glossary phrase.
I'd not choose to say "the ontology of modernity". The age of faith has passed away because the persistence of human culture is such that you cannot put modernity back in the bottle. However modernity is not particularly concerned with ontology the main metaphysical concern being how men can know anything.



You have said that Christian belief is childish. I merely reversed this and ask if, in fact, your methods are necessarily more 'adult', or result in more 'adult' outcomes. But keep in mind that if I say such a thing I do not have you as a focus. I am talking, or trying to talk, about the larger issues that surround us: what is going on in our culture. I do not think that atheism, as I understand it and see it operating, is a more 'adult' choice. I actually think it is a rather 'childish' conclusion. I would argue that it takes more of an adult to grasp the transcendent and to choose to 'ally' oneself with it. But I understand that you do not feel this way. And that you are not alone!
I am not at all sure about "your methods" . If by "your methods" you refer to grave distrust of authority masquerading as "the transcendent" or God or God's will then this is an advance on obedience to that authority. I am hoping that Christianity will become democratic.Pope Francis seems to be more democratic than his two predecessors.

You have also misunderstood what I tried to express here. It is not that I feel either corroded or challenged. It is that there is a strain of atheism or atheistic activism that, to my mind, seems uninformed. I could mention you as a rather good example of what I mean. You argue -- if you will permit me to put it like this -- against Christianity, yet you do not have a good grasp of what Christianity is. Why should I take your argument, and your critique, seriously if what I understand is true?
I hope it's clear by now I don't argue against Christianity. I fear that obedience to authority will not serve Christianity. How often would you have me repeating that admission of ignorance is not ignorant? I invited you to inform me. I respect your intellectual stance and your religious experiences.
Actually, you could feel 'challenged', as you say, by my statements to you about this. That would be an unusual reversal, wouldn't it? Since I suppose that you assume, in a philosophical environment, that a Christian view cannot involve 'metaphysical truth'. Isn't that one of the basic assumptions that function in our modern era? I hope that you won't mind if I put it like this but don't you really feel that you, as a rationalistic atheist, are the 'adult' arguing with the Christian child? (If you don't actually think this way, just say so and I will accept it).

It is a challenge to abstract the idea of God from Cartesian Dualism on the one hand and from simple atheism on the other. The existence of evil is a worse problem, a problem which only the psyche of faith can deal with. Faith should be aided and supported by the best of reason.

Alizia
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Alizia » Fri May 17, 2019 2:37 pm

Belinda wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 10:03 am
The "transcendental aspect" of my views is that absolute good/God cannot be attained although fleeting glimpses of it can be experienced alas soon to be drowned in the ambience of relativity.
I would comment that the most important issue and question here is if, and how, 'the transcendent' is defined. In my experience so far (as a reader) it seems to me that the religious viewpoint, if one could generalize about it, is based in the understanding that there exist 'constants' in this universe or cosmos. Yet, and as you notice, the world (the universe & cosmos) shows itself as highly mutable, and mutability is, in at least one sense, our opponent.

The view that you have expressed here, if I understand it correctly, is not dissimilar to that of Christian/Catholic theology generally. It is taken as a given that *here* we cannot attain perfection. I admit that this idea arises in one aspect through *frustration*: when one meditates on Life in its mutability one quickly notices that all attainments are temporary, and that there is constantly *opposition* to our idealistic plans. We are constantly *opposed*. As a result, and in one sense of course too, the mind and the spirit long for an immutable realm beyond and outside of chaos.
Approaches to the absolute those which sometimes succeed in transcending time and degree vary. However that would-be approach to the absolute i.e. obedience to a temporal authority is a present danger; please refer to what I wrote earlier(may be in response to Immanuel Can not sure) about theocracy in the Middle East. Adam had to quit the safety of the Garden so that he could voluntarily find God. Does God not want intellectually free creatures? I mean of course as free as possible.
Again, the question seems to be if such a thing as 'absolute value' actually 'exists'. Surely you know the Platonic argument, upon which a great deal hangs. It is true though that in the Occident (and certainly in other places, too) the idea of an Absolute and a Transcendent Reality have been primary concepts around which personal, social and political ideas were organized. 'Old School Catholicism' still holds to that belief and understanding. It asserts that, in regard to definitions of the absolute and the transcendent, that "if it were recognized as true at one point, that it is true now and will forever be true". What I am saying may seem abstract to you (because you are not very familiar with the core of Christian doctrines) but Christianity and Catholicism are grounded in, and can only be grounded in, non-mutable ideas or apperceptions about "reality and its nature".

You can, certainly, locate and shine a light on examples of temporal theocracies (you refer to theocracies of the Middle East) as a way of critiquing, as I assume you would, Occidental theocracy and the very notion of absolutes. There is a vast critical effort at doing just that in relation to 1000 years of Occidental culture. And it seems to me that the effort to dismantle and discredit 'religion' or a religious viewpoint (a specific metaphysics) is also an ongoing project.

But I suggest that what one wind up with, and where one winds up, is in a non-defined and relativistic 'world' that is anti-metaphysical certainly, because it has lost its bearings. If Adam's world, if Adam's existential reality is as you suggest: "[He] had to quit the safety of the Garden so that he could voluntarily find God", you are saying in some sense that he had to become lost in order to find himself all over again. But 'finding himself' will necessarily involve a redefinition of metaphysics, even if it is a rejection of the notion of a metaphysics.

You as a question about "God" which implies that you could conceive of God as 'real'. And if that is so, then yes, all manner of different questions about what God is and what God 'wants' could be asked. In one way or another, with perfect or imperfect mental tools, such questions indeed need to be answered.
"Christian relationship to the divine": Christianity evolves it always has and still can. A leading churchman once said to me that Christ is a "moving icon".
But here you have the Icon of mutability and relativism, it seems to me. If he has chosen, say, to make Christ a 'moving icon', it is possible that he has unmoored Jesus Christ from historical context. But the very idea of God and Logos, in Christian philosophy, is a reference to the immutable and the constant. You may or may not know that there are revolutionary movements within theology which posit this sort of 'Jesus'. In a sense Northern European Protestantism is such a movement.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri May 17, 2019 6:44 pm

Alizia wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:37 pm
But here you have the Icon of mutability and relativism, it seems to me. If he has chosen, say, to make Christ a 'moving icon', it is possible that he has unmoored Jesus Christ from historical context. But the very idea of God and Logos, in Christian philosophy, is a reference to the immutable and the constant. You may or may not know that there are revolutionary movements within theology which posit this sort of 'Jesus'. In a sense Northern European Protestantism is such a movement.
To be fair, not so.

"Northern European Protestantism" has traditionally been (until recently, with the compromises made with Western liberalism) quite clear on two things: firstly that Jesus Christ is immutable ("the same, yesterday, today and forever," to quote the Biblical text), and that human understanding is often quite mutable.

It's not the "Jesus" that's different there, it's the attitude to who gets to interpret. For the Catholic, the high clergy, and particularly the Pope, is "inerrant in doctrine" when he makes a statement "ex cathedra." This means that the Catholics are (ideally) supposed to have only one version of Christ (at a time), depending on what has been declared orthodox to believe by the clergy. This lends an appearance of stability to the RC view, though it has historically changed with the opinions of the various Popes and councils.

The Protestant way is to put the responsibility on every believer individually to read and discern. This means that some variance of reading occurs, and there is some debate about the real nature of Christ, as a result. But it's not Christ who has changed: the debate is rather over which reading reflects the actual, literal Christ, and which ones don't. It's the same Christ over which the debate is occurring.

It's a bit like if someone asked the question, "Who is the real Aliza?" There might be a variance of opinion, there. Your mother might not say what your siblings do, or your siblings say what your friends do, or your friends say what your co-workers do. But at least they'd all probably be telling us something about you. And, of course, there would be people like us, who have too little information to really know who you were, and who still might have strong opinions or guesses to assert: and we might be quite wrong.

In all cases, however, there is but one Aliza. The fact that some people know different facets of her does not mean she is not one. Only in matters in which they flatly contradict must we be certain somebody has to be wrong about who she is. And we may need to debate who is more wrong. Which pretty much sounds like how Christology has historically been done: one Christ, much discussion.

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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Belinda » Fri May 17, 2019 9:07 pm

Alizia wrote:
it seems to me that the religious viewpoint, if one could generalize about it, is based in the understanding that there exist 'constants' in this universe or cosmos. Yet, and as you notice, the world (the universe & cosmos) shows itself as highly mutable, and mutability is, in at least one sense, our opponent.
But the religious viewpoint has changed. Relativity has come out of the Western culture and globalisation has established relativity everywhere. After the advent of modernity the religious viewpoint is that good and justice relate to situations and not to any rock of ages. You oppose relativity because the alternatives are so scary. One alternative to revealed morality is utter lack of any morality ; that's not viable so let's not even discuss it. The other alternative, now an established religious fact, is the morality of consensus among the growing population of free thinking individuals. Everything including the ethics of various moral systems has to be considered by free thinking individuals .


the mind and the spirit long for an immutable realm beyond and outside of chaos.
I gather that during the age of faith there was certainty that God had ordered morality and the whole cosmos too. I long for an immutable realm 'beyond' chaos . I even wish there was a divine map.
Approaches to the absolute those which sometimes succeed in transcending time and degree vary. However that would-be approach to the absolute i.e. obedience to a temporal authority is a present danger; please refer to what I wrote earlier(may be in response to Immanuel Can not sure) about theocracy in the Middle East. Adam had to quit the safety of the Garden so that he could voluntarily find God. Does God not want intellectually free creatures? I mean of course as free as possible.
Christianity and Catholicism are grounded in, and can only be grounded in, non-mutable ideas or apperceptions about "reality and its nature".
"can only be grounded in" : you better not be so sure! Catholicism had to get used to Copernican theory , Catholicism is not quite immutable.
And it seems to me that the effort to dismantle and discredit 'religion' or a religious viewpoint (a specific metaphysics) is also an ongoing project.
It's not possible to discredit religion in the large sense of 'religion'. Religion in that sense is inseparable from human life.
But I suggest that what one wind up with, and where one winds up, is in a non-defined and relativistic 'world' that is anti-metaphysical certainly, because it has lost its bearings. If Adam's world, if Adam's existential reality is as you suggest: "[He] had to quit the safety of the Garden so that he could voluntarily find God", you are saying in some sense that he had to become lost in order to find himself all over again. But 'finding himself' will necessarily involve a redefinition of metaphysics, even if it is a rejection of the notion of a metaphysics.
I think Adam had to become lost but in the short time left for humanity this cannot happen.Maybe if there weer a God he would be pleased that humanity did try to discover him.
But here you have the Icon of mutability and relativism, it seems to me. If he has chosen, say, to make Christ a 'moving icon', it is possible that he has unmoored Jesus Christ from historical context. But the very idea of God and Logos, in Christian philosophy, is a reference to the immutable and the constant. You may or may not know that there are revolutionary movements within theology which posit this sort of 'Jesus'. In a sense Northern European Protestantism is such a movement.
I think this churchman differentiated between the Christ of faith and Jesus of history. What he said would make no sense unless he did so. I have read Immanuel Can's post, and albeit he is a Protestant I don't think ( I could be mistaken)he differentiates between Jesus and Christ. I understand about Logos, the Word, is a name for Christ in the Gospel of John "The Word was with God".

I am not keen on 'mutability'. Cultures and their religions have changed to be sure but the changes relate to former cultures which have histories. So I'd rather say relativity.

Alizia
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Alizia » Sun May 19, 2019 5:51 pm

Belinda wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:07 pm
But the religious viewpoint has changed. Relativity has come out of the Western culture and globalisation has established relativity everywhere. After the advent of modernity the religious viewpoint is that good and justice relate to situations and not to any rock of ages. You oppose relativity because the alternatives are so scary.
It seems that what you say is without doubt: "Relativity has come out of the Western culture and globalisation has established relativity everywhere".

But immediately after saying that, you then expound on a private definition! But I think that what you are saying is that this is what you think. Therefore, you have in this sense unmoored a religious viewpoint -- the possibility of a metaphysical understanding -- from the possibility of being defined.

Your statement: "You oppose relativity because the alternatives are so scary" is curious to me.

First, I am of the opinion that there are metaphysical constants and there are 'absolutes'. I think more similarly to Emmanuel Can: that it is man who is mutable and changing. But I assert that 1) it is possible to define the absolutes and the metaphysical certainties, and that 2) this is done by those who have the greatest intellectual skill. It is not done through 'democratic process' or by casting a vote. This is why, even if I have many issues and problems with Catholicism, its history, and the Church (especially today of course), I tend to have tremendous respect for Catholic theology. I do not separate Catholic theology from Christian theology, but it does seem to me that some Protestant theologians 'go off the rails' to one degree or other.

My view -- and I guess you might say what 'scares' me -- is what happens when people (the mass, the demos, use the term that you wish) decide that they can arbitrate the really important issues, when it seems to me that they cannot. Therefore, when the really important definitions are weakened, and this has certainly happened in our culture, we do not have *proper authorities* to make the proper definitions, and, to make matters worse, people believe that they can decide these things on their own. Or, simply not ever think about them nor be concerned about them. What scares me is therefore forms of rebellion against *proper authority*.

While I am not so rigid that I cannot appreciate that even *average people* might rebel against *improper authority* (the abuse of authority), my understanding that proper authority exists -- and is a metaphysical fact -- does not change.
One alternative to revealed morality is utter lack of any morality; that's not viable so let's not even discuss it. The other alternative, now an established religious fact, is the morality of consensus among the growing population of free thinking individuals. Everything including the ethics of various moral systems has to be considered by free thinking individuals.
Here, I think you approach the core of the problem. In fact we must discuss what happens to a people, or to a person, when they deviate from *proper morality* and the intellectual foundation, as well as the spiritual foundation and seriousness, required to hold to the morality that you mention. In fact, that is really what the conversation -- any conversation we might have -- is really about. I mean, defining proper action. So, what we in fact must do is to discuss the deviation and what happens to people when they dissolve themselves from inner and outer authority.

The second part of what you write just above is, I think, thoroughly false. I do not mean to say that some people do not think this way, they do, but rather that it will lead (my opinion of course) to endless problems. Obviously, you place everything with the "consensus among the growing population of free thinking individuals", and I do not have the faith that you do! In fact my own studies have shown me, time and again, that leading people in society often do not have a *proper base* for their 'free-thinking' and guide people into error. And this of course explains aspects of our present dangerous situation. You must understand that I am democracy-critical, and with good reasons. It is a Platonic maxim and a sound one.
I gather that during the age of faith there was certainty that God had ordered morality and the whole cosmos too. I long for an immutable realm 'beyond' chaos. I even wish there was a divine map.
Well, I sympathize with your *problem*. It is the problem of all of us in truth. But I have no doubt that such a 'map' exists. It has all been defined, and rather clearly. It is the implementation that is the hard part. Again, and only for the sake of productive exchange here, this is why I do define myself as Catholic and why I hold to the essence of Christian doctrine. I may not be so good at doing that, but *intellectually* I am not confused.

Alizia
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Re: Ronald Beiner and his book "Dangerous Minds"

Post by Alizia » Sun May 19, 2019 6:09 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 6:44 pm
"Northern European Protestantism" has traditionally been (until recently, with the compromises made with Western liberalism) quite clear on two things: firstly that Jesus Christ is immutable ("the same, yesterday, today and forever," to quote the Biblical text), and that human understanding is often quite mutable.
While I agree with this, there is too much that is 'revolutionary' in Protestantism, and I do not think this could be denied. The question is if one feels that such revolutionism was a) necessary and good, and b) 'in harmony with Logos'.

Like you, I would not wish to set up a Catholic-Protestant debate since, in truth, I admire a great deal about the Protestant practice of faith.

And it seems to me that the 'compromise' you refer to occurred earlier than with 'liberalism'. But really, this is not my domain and perhaps you know more. But, since you are a Protestant I must assume you are in error! :-)

(And 'error has no rights', as they say...)

Might you consider converting? Cardinal Newman did. What holds you back? The smell of incense?

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