Individualism vs. Collectivism

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can »

Skepdick wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:19 pm You aren't interested in arbitration though?
We're on a new topic, S.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to let my existing arguments stand, in the hope that one day you'll pay closer attention to them, and realize there's something you did not understand. But if not, that's on you. Let's leave it there.
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Skepdick »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:27 pm We're on a new topic, S.
That may well be, but is there any topic on which you would accept empirical evidence as valid arbitration of your wrongness?

You only seem to be interested in proselytising, not in being proselytised.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:27 pm Meanwhile, I'm happy to let my existing arguments stand, in the hope that one day you'll pay closer attention to them, and realize there's something you did not understand. But if not, that's on you. Let's leave it there.
I understood your argument perfectly well. That is why I was able to point out your mistake, and even point you to the relevant Statistical reading, so that you could self-correct.

But we might just have to wait until infinity and beyond until you recognise that.
Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:01 pm
Nick_A wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:20 pm I see you are not familiar with the laws of vibration and as material vibrations increase matter becomes less dense and people begin to call it energy.
I'm not sure of the relevance, Nick.

But I am curious about something I asked before, and already answered for you: what's your personal "referee," or "judge," or "arbitrator," or "authority" when you run into a conflict between what you believe and what someone else does? How do you personally decide in such cases?

I ask because in order to come to a common understanding, I think we have to be agreeing on the basis of arbitration, don't we?

I begin with something that cannot be proven – the reality of the ONE. If it is true, deductive logic will affirm it. If I do exist in a mental universe, it must be structured on universal laws making logical sense and revealing universal meaning and purpose.. I begin with this premise and everything just follows suit.

Someone may believe in a personal God. I don’t see the logic of it. People can debate it but if it doesn’t explain universal purpose and the purpose of Man within the universe. I don’t see how it can be arbitrated when we disagree on essential premises.

There are those asserting Christian beliefs who deny the Trinity. It is considered obsolete and I’ve witnessed the concept endlessly ridiculed by secularism. How can God be simultaneously one and three? Reidiculous! Too much scotch. Rather than fighting on that basis I try to learn from those who have gone beyond condemnation. I can read read how Dr. Nicolescu explaines the Law of the INCLUDED middle and when the Law of the EXCLUDED middle is insufficient to reveal universal meaning and purpose. Once it is understood a person can appreciate how God is simultaneously both one nd three

So rather than arguing over what is believed I try to learn from those with the attitude that indicates understanding. A lot of experts have an attitude which I reject simply because it is based on obvious blind denial. There is no sense in expecting the depth I m attracted to from those with attitudes.

So in short, I judge by that which can answer my questions in a way that I don’t just intellectually understand but also feel the quality of the answer. I’ve experienced that the Christianity I’ve come to know is far more profound than I ever believed possible and reminds me of what has been forgotten. That is why I know Pure Christianity doesn’t originate with Man on earth but rather from above and over time must become corrupted to serve the world. It is nature’s way. The seeker of truth must follow the path back to its source much like a salmon follows the path back to its origin. It is hard swimming upstream but only dead fish swim downstream.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

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Nick_A wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:27 am I begin with something that cannot be proven – the reality of the ONE.
Okay, but this is a gratuitous assumption, no more. We have no way of knowing beforehand that this is true, as you say.

If I understand, then you're saying here that it "cannot be proven," but you're still hoping for some kind of "proof" to emerge deductively after-the-fact? Is that right?
If it is true, deductive logic will affirm it. If I do exist in a mental universe, it must be structured on universal laws making logical sense and revealing universal meaning and purpose.. I begin with this premise and everything just follows suit.
There's zero reason to believe this, though. Why should a "mental universe" be more than an irrational delusion? From where comes our guarantee...or even the likelihood...that such a "universe" would be coherent at all?

Dreams are often irrational. Last night I was on the ground, then suddenly, for no reason I could guess, I was dangling over a cliff. Then I was flying. And in my dream, I never stopped to ask, "Why?" In dreams, one just accepts irrationality and rolls with it. What, then, guarantees us that what we call "reality" cannot possibly behave in irrational ways? Nothing.
Someone may believe in a personal God.

Well, I would.
I don’t see the logic of it. People can debate it but if it doesn’t explain universal purpose and the purpose of Man within the universe.
I think it very clearly does. One may like or dislike what it says, but the Bible isn't sketchy on that question at all.
I don’t see how it can be arbitrated when we disagree on essential premises.
That's the problem. I neither take monism for granted, nor jump to the assumption that the reason deduction works is somehow that we are in a monistic universe. I see no reason to believe either, actually. I would instead argue that the power of rationality argues for a rational structure in our universe, one that speaks of a rational Creator.
I can read read how Dr. Nicolescu explaines the Law of the INCLUDED middle and when the Law of the EXCLUDED middle is insufficient to reveal universal meaning and purpose. Once it is understood a person can appreciate how God is simultaneously both one nd three
So is your authority "Dr. Nicolescu"? Or is it your own feelings? Or is it some concept of Trinitarianism you picked up from somebody else?

You haven't at all told me what your arbitrator of controversies, the "referee" or "judge" you accept in such matters is. I really would like to know. Why dodge that question? I don't understand... :?
So rather than arguing over what is believed I try to learn from those with the attitude that indicates understanding. A lot of experts have an attitude which I reject simply because it is based on obvious blind denial. There is no sense in expecting the depth I m attracted to from those with attitudes.
Eh?

How do you know when somebody has "the attitude that indicates understanding"? Do you consult your feelings about that? If you reject "a lot of experts," on what basis do you do so? What makes "obvious" to you that they are in "blind denial"? I'm not seeing your grounds at all there, Nick. You've got to help me out: what are you using as your litmus test of truth?
So in short, I judge by that which can answer my questions in a way that I don’t just intellectually understand but also feel the quality of the answer.
So the answer is "feelings"? :shock:

But you aren't concerned that "feelings" are often dead wrong? What makes this particular "feeling" more reliable than, say, the "feeling" you had with your first love crush which, if you are like most people, is no doubt now not felt anymore?
f12hte
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by f12hte »

Nick_A wrote: Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:38 am One of the most important basic and avoided questions is if a person considers themselves essentially an Individualist or a collectivist. It seems more enjoyable to argue over techniques or good and bad. But the question of Individualism vs. Collectivism as desired method to improve human nature puts us on the spot.

There are many ways to discuss it after we agree as to their basic difference so I'd like to ask you if you agree with the following distinction:

https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/is ... lectivism/
The fundamental political conflict in America today is, as it has been for a century, individualism vs. collectivism. Does the individual’s life belong to him—or does it belong to the group, the community, society, or the state? With government expanding ever more rapidly—seizing and spending more and more of our money on “entitlement” programs and corporate bailouts, and intruding on our businesses and lives in increasingly onerous ways—the need for clarity on this issue has never been greater. Let us begin by defining the terms at hand.

Individualism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and that he has an inalienable right to live it as he sees fit, to act on his own judgment, to keep and use the product of his effort, and to pursue the values of his choosing. It’s the idea that the individual is sovereign, an end in himself, and the fundamental unit of moral concern. This is the ideal that the American Founders set forth and sought to establish when they drafted the Declaration and the Constitution and created a country in which the individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness were to be recognized and protected.

Collectivism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs not to him but to the group or society of which he is merely a part, that he has no rights, and that he must sacrifice his values and goals for the group’s “greater good.” According to collectivism, the group or society is the basic unit of moral concern, and the individual is of value only insofar as he serves the group. As one advocate of this idea puts it: “Man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy. From the day of his birth until the day of his death society allows him to enjoy certain so-called rights and deprives him of others; not . . . because society desires especially to favor or oppress the individual, but because its own preservation, welfare, and happiness are the prime considerations.”1

Individualism or collectivism—which of these ideas is correct? Which has the facts on its side?
As is obvious, America is moving more and more toward collectivism. All we read of are collectives. Is this desirable? Perhaps we can discuss the essential differences and potentials for both individualism and collectivism when life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness become our desired goal..
I think that we are headed in the right direction, towards collectivism. I think that it is necessary for the survival of humanity. Collectivism yields better use of scarce natural resources, and it will not take long for 7 billion of us to become 14 billion or 28 billion. Most utilities, police and fire departments are collectives, established for the maintenance of societies. Each person cannot build an interstate highway system , or a rocket to go to the moon. Each person can not take his own appendix out. Life is better when we work together; each person dedicating his life to the well being of others. And this is the way to find happiness too i.e. selfless service to our fellow man. Much has been written about the psychological benefits of selfless acts performed for the benefit of others.

And as communication increases due to the new communications media, we will see more and more collectivist ideas taking root. Now they are talking about human machine interface. Would 7 billion people wired up to each other be convincing evidence for collectivism? What would such an all encompassing human being be like with the combined mental potential of billions of people? Would it become the God that we have always talked about?
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RCSaunders
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

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Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:07 am Well, if human beings aren't born with the capacity to sin, from where does it come?
For now I'll only say a capacity to do something is not a propensity or inclination to do it. No such inclination is necessary, unless you believe Adam was created with an inclination to sin.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:07 am Watch a child who has lost his/her favourite toy: watch her explode in rage, ball up her little fists and scream in frustration. Or watch the little tyke bash his sister over the head with his toy car. Watch the little prom queen spread poisonous rumours among her friends, or the mean kid on the sports field step on his rival...who teaches this stuff? Where does it originate? How is it that we are able to do it so easily, so naturally, and right from birth?
Children certainly do things we adults don't like, and some things seem genuinely evil. In fact most of the things children do, even the worst, are out of ignorance and because they have no yet learned the consequences of their actions and how to make choices not determined by feelings (something, unfortunately, many adults never learn). I think the Bible makes it clear that both ability and knowledge are required for moral responsibility. It is not a sin to not do what one is unable to do, or to do what it is impossible not to do, or to do what one really does not know it is wrong to do. (II Cor. 8:12, Prov. 3:27, Lev. 27:8, Luke 12:47&48, John 15:22-25, John 9:40&41, James 4:17, Rom. 4:15)
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:07 am Of course it's in us. We are drawn to it. And it's best we know we are.
I mentioned a misinterpretation of James in my previous post. This seems to be an appropriate place to mention it. James 1:14&15 seems to say what you are saying, "But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." While this verse seems to imply some kind of evil desire, the word translated, "lust," does not imply an inclination to do wrong, it only means a desire which, on its own, is not the least bit nefarious. It is the same word ἐπιθυμία (epithymía), used to describe Jesus desire in Luke22:15, "... with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you." It is used by Paul in Phil, 1:23, "... having a desire to depart."

Sin is not yielding to desire, sin is doing what one knows is wrong. Of course one does not do what one has no desire to do, and a desire is only a "temptation" if the thing desired is itself wrong to indulge. Consider the most common sins, like adultery. Certainly sexual desire is not evil, it is fulfilling that desire in a way one knows is wrong that is sin. The desire for food is not evil, it is allowing the good desire to be overindulged that is sin.

(I'll return to the Romans part of this in another post.)

I really have no quibble with your views of Christ's temptation. I was really interested in the fact that most Christians attribute temptation to some corrupt human nature which obviously is not true of Christ or Adam.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:07 am And no, I'm not a Calvinist, I assure you. But it is interesting that you know what they do, in fact, believe. What's your background in that, RC?
I'm sure you do not think you are a Calvinist, most likely because you reject the ideas of supralapsarianism and predestination, but you are probably more Calvinistic than you think.

I've been interested in religion and philosophy my entire life and have read or studied all of major theologians from the early Church Fathers to Francis Schaffer. Of them all I regard Calvin the most significant, because the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) is founded almost exclusively on Calvin's Institutes, much of it word-for-word. Though modified, the Westminster Confession is the basis of similar confessions of Congregationalists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and even influenced Methodist doctrine.

Doctrinally all conservative Christian denominations are essentially Calvinistic, in spite of the influence of Jacobus Arminius and Wesley. The primary difference between Calvinism and Arminianism (or Arianism), concerns predestination (eternal salvation), which is only avaiable to the elect (Calvinism) or anyone (Arminianism). Calvinists deny that human agency (choice) has anything to do with salvation. Arminians believe salvation is impossible without Gods grace, but that humans must choose or accept that salvation. Both Calvinism and Arminianism assert that human beings are depraved (born with a sinful nature) and that regenerated (born again) Christians have two natures, a sinful "carnal" nature they are born with, and a righteous "spiritual" nature they are reborn with. It is a kind of dual nature (dualism).

Having studied Calvin's institutes, since he so frequently quotes Augustine, I had to study Augustine, and since Augustine relies so much on the Church Fathers, I had to study them. One of Augustine's contemporaries, Pelagius, is the father of Pelagianism, which is frequently confused with Arminianism. But Pelagius denied the sinful nature (original sin) altogether and insisted human beings were capable of choosing good or evil without special divine intervention. According to Pelagianism, if sin is universal, it is universally chosen, not imposed on human beings.

With the exception of a handful of Christians whose beliefs follow the teachings of
Charles Finney, Pelagianism is considered heretical by all conservative Christian denominations. Here is where it becomes interesting. Human depravity and the dual nature of Christians does not appear in the writings of most early Church Fathers. It did not really show up until it was fully explicated by Augustine.

The dualistic view of good and evil is found originally in Zoroastrianism (the primary religion of Persia (Iran) before the Muslim invasion. It was out of Zoroastrianism that the formal dualistic religion of Manichaeism, which equated evil with matter (flesh) and good with spirit, originated. What is interesting about that is, before his conversion, Augustine was a Manichaeist, where he no doubt got his ideas of a corrupt and dual nature, and Calvin got his ideas of the same from Augustine.

I hope this is at least interesting.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

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f12hte wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 3:32 pm I think that we are headed in the right direction, towards collectivism. I think that it is necessary for the survival of humanity. Collectivism yields better use of scarce natural resources, and it will not take long for 7 billion of us to become 14 billion or 28 billion. Most utilities, police and fire departments are collectives, established for the maintenance of societies. Each person cannot build an interstate highway system , or a rocket to go to the moon. Each person can not take his own appendix out. Life is better when we work together; each person dedicating his life to the well being of others....
I don't know... :?

This is surely the "sunny side" of Collectivism. And when practiced in a limited way, collectives have done some good. Local voluntary societies, for example, have been hugely helpful in improving social conditions. And of course you're right: nobody builds roads and airports alone.

But when Collectivism is practiced on a broader scale it seems the results are never good, and they get worse the more Collectivism is practiced. Take the Soviet Union -- very "collectivist," to be sure; but look what happened to the rights of minorities and dissenters there. Heck, look at what happened to whole nations that were submerged in that Collectivist project.

And that's far from a lone case. We could look at China -- again, very Collectivist. Or Cuba. Or Venezuela. Or North Korea. Or Cambodia. Nowhere in the world has advanced Collectivism ever produced anything but tyranny and death, it seems. So why would we think it was a good idea now?

One of the major problems is that the larger the collective gets, the less any individuals matter. They become dispensable. So too do minorities. And then Collectivism also allows powerful elites, ironically; because whoever mobilizes the largest portion of the masses has tremendous ability to exploit the situation -- and invariably they do. Large-scale Collectivist leaders are, in general, not compassionate, egalitarian, social benefactors; rather, they turn out to be untouchable despots, tyrants and exploiters.

Then there's the problem of economic collapse: because Collectivist tend to be ideologues, they tend to think they can "manage" the markets, and they tend to try. But nobody can really predict global markets, and nobody is competent to manage the future. Things happen, and the controllers are unable to predict them; then they're unable to respond, because they have too much confidence in their own abilities. And when economies collapse, masses starve. At least when markets are only minimally-regulated, as they are in much of the West today, the individual is free to respond to economic opportunities. Inequities happen, but so do opportunities. But once somebody thinks they can just go ahead and control that thing, the results are never pretty. The opportunities are gone, and the "equities" tend to be enforced, and then pushed down to the lowest common denominator. Everyone suffers but the elites at the top, who are insulated by their power from the effects of their bad decisions.

None of that is good.
And this is the way to find happiness too i.e. selfless service to our fellow man. Much has been written about the psychological benefits of selfless acts performed for the benefit of others.
Maybe. But you can only make that case to an individual. Collectives don't really listen -- they don't really have an ear. They can't be moved very easily by ethics, because nobody in the collective hears himself directly addressed by your appeal, so long as he is still thinking of himself only as part of a collective -- he thinks, "It's the collective's problem; let them handle it."

You see this with things like public education. You wouldn't believe how many parents simply think they can "download" parental responsibilities -- waking, feeding, disciplining, sexuality, morality, and so on -- to the public system. "What are we paying them for?" they ask, "Let them make our lives free of these burdens: and with it, let them both educate and career prepare our kids as well." But the system is just that; a system. It cannot pay attention to every need of every child in its mechanism. It can only work with the masses. So if something is needed by a child, and the system doesn't already have that thing in place, the kid doesn't get it. Period. Only individual parents have the awareness and ability to meet certain needs; but they don't feel any moral responsibility because the collective will do it for them, they think. So there again, Collectivism turns out to be quite problematic for the individual.

The masses don't move quite rationally. Rather, they tend to move by mass-impulse, like ducks taking off from a pond. Their movements are massive, hard to predict, wave-like, and impossible to turn once they've reached critical volume. It's very dangerous to play with forces that big, forces that are not attuned, like the individual is, to morality.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

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RCSaunders wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:08 pm For now I'll only say a capacity to do something is not a propensity or inclination to do it. No such inclination is necessary, unless you believe Adam was created with an inclination to sin.
Adam's a unique case, obviously. Nobody but he (and Eve) are described as having experienced a state of global innocence like that.

However, you're onto an important distinction, I would say. The great poet John Milton said that human beings were born, "sufficient to have stood, but free to fall." In other words, Adam had the option to sin, but not any real inclination to do so. That's why, in the Genesis narrative, as in Milton's Paradise Lost, the inclination is said to be supplied from outside; the serpent tempts mankind. Mankind does not tempt himself.

However, after the Fall, things are obviously quite different. After that, every person born is born into a fallen world, and with not just an option to sin but an inclination to do so as well.
I think the Bible makes it clear that both ability and knowledge are required for moral responsibility. It is not a sin to not do what one is unable to do, or to do what it is impossible not to do, or to do what one really does not know it is wrong to do. (II Cor. 8:12, Prov. 3:27, Lev. 27:8, Luke 12:47&48, John 15:22-25, John 9:40&41, James 4:17, Rom. 4:15)
There's a lot of truth to this. What you don't know you did cannot be your fault. But we know very early in life when we do wrong, don't we? Even a child will hide his "crimes." If he stole a cookie, he will lie, or he will put it under his pillow, or he will eat it quickly, hiding in the corner. He knows what he did is wrong; and his hiding is evidence he knows. It's what is called in court "a guilty mind."

We get one of those very early on.
I mentioned a misinterpretation of James in my previous post. This seems to be an appropriate place to mention it. James 1:14&15 seems to say what you are saying, "But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." While this verse seems to imply some kind of evil desire, the word translated, "lust," does not imply an inclination to do wrong, it only means a desire which, on its own, is not the least bit nefarious. It is the same word ἐπιθυμία (epithymía), used to describe Jesus desire in Luke22:15, "... with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you." It is used by Paul in Phil, 1:23, "... having a desire to depart."
Yes, quite. So far, so good.
Sin is not yielding to desire, sin is doing what one knows is wrong. Of course one does not do what one has no desire to do, and a desire is only a "temptation" if the thing desired is itself wrong to indulge.
Partly true. But sometimes, the "thing" itself is not in itself wrong; but the way one indulges it is wrong.

Sex is not wrong, for example. In fact, it's a positively great thing. But there are contexts in which it is wrong, such as pedophelia and rape. The desire for sex isn't bad; but the way that is gratified certainly is.
I really have no quibble with your views of Christ's temptation. I was really interested in the fact that most Christians attribute temptation to some corrupt human nature which obviously is not true of Christ or Adam.
If "temptation" requires an internal response from the "tempted," then yes, our view would have a problem. But I suggest that that stipulation is absent from Biblical thought: a temptation may or may not be accompanied by a response from the internals of the person -- in the case of the people to whom James spoke, it certainly was; but in the case of Christ, it certainly wasn't.

Adam is the interesting middle case. Or maybe we should say "Eve." For the Genesis description only gives us three reasons why she fell. She saw that the fruit (no "apple" is mentioned...that's a later imagining) was " good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it."

"Good for food"? Not evil. "Pleasing to the eye"? Not evil. "Desirable for gaining wisdom?" Also not evil. In other words, the problem for Eve was not internal, but contextual. What made this ordinarily permissible act impermissible was that it was the lone contradiction given by God: "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” You might say that her first sin was to doubt the word of God. And left to herself, she may not have had the inner longing to do so, but with the snake's words, she had the inducement to do it; and clearly, she also had the freedom to do so.

One prohibition. Only one. And one was necessary, because in a world with no prohibitions there is no such thing as voluntary obedience, either. One was the minimum that could exist, if human freedom was also to be possible.

But that's also a unique situation. We would have to explain how we can generalize that, since none of us has personally experienced living in a world of innocence, or being beneficiaries of an unfilled nature.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:07 am And no, I'm not a Calvinist, I assure you. But it is interesting that you know what they do, in fact, believe. What's your background in that, RC?
I'm sure you do not think you are a Calvinist, most likely because you reject the ideas of supralapsarianism and predestination, but you are probably more Calvinistic than you think. [/quote]
Naw. I'll bet I'm less.

I know the five points of Calvinism. I don't believe any of them.

However, I'm taken with the level of your knowledge. Very impressive, RC.
Both Calvinism and Arminianism assert that human beings are depraved...
True. But that's why I'm also not an Arminian. I don't believe the Doctrine of Total Depravity. Arminius also did not believe what's called Eternal Security. I do. So I have Calvinist friends...close ones. And they think I'm an Arminian, because that's what they call anybody who's not Calvinist, but claims to be Christian. However, my case is "worse" than they suspect: I'm somewhat farther from Calvin than Arminius ever was. :wink:

Now, that would take a lot of subtle theological unpacking to explain: but I can see you're up to it, so I'll answer for that as far as you wish. But I'll leave it up to you whether or not I do.
Here is where it becomes interesting. Human depravity and the dual nature of Christians does not appear in the writings of most early Church Fathers. It did not really show up until it was fully explicated by Augustine.
That's the thing about human theology -- it's all an attempt to systematize and articulate what is said in the Bible, in a form in which the Bible did not compile it. At its best, it succeeds in clarifying an essential truth taught repeatedly in Scripture; but at its worst, it mangles that truth by forcing it into a pattern or mould that distorts it.

Which is it, in the case of the two doctrines you mention? Well, the only way to tell is to unpack the doctrine again, in light of what the Bible says, and see if the systematic arrangement holds up. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. In the case of the dual nature of Christ, my assessment is that it does; in regard to Total Depravity my assessment is that it decidedly does not.
The dualistic view of good and evil is found originally in Zoroastrianism (the primary religion of Persia (Iran) before the Muslim invasion. It was out of Zoroastrianism that the formal dualistic religion of Manichaeism, which equated evil with matter (flesh) and good with spirit, originated. What is interesting about that is, before his conversion, Augustine was a Manichaeist, where he no doubt got his ideas of a corrupt and dual nature, and Calvin got his ideas of the same from Augustine.
Quite possible: I'm not an Augustinian. I take him or leave him, just as often as I find he disagrees or agrees with what I read in the Bible itself.

But we must be careful, because there's a logical fallacy possible here: correlation is not causality. A resemblance between two things does not prove a cause -- that one is the origin of the other.

One could easily make a different argument, with the same data: let us suppose that Manicheism is a combination of truth and falsehood (as most errors and lies are, actually). Then it would be unsurprising if one of its tenets were true. Let us furthermore suppose that it's possible human beings have an inner awareness of God (as, say, Romans 1 says they do), and that partial truth is available to all men. Again, why would it surprise us if Manicheism came up with some right answers: because a third thing -- not the Early Fathers nor the Manichees, but the innate awareness we have of God -- was to account for both.

There are many ways to tell that story. It's too simple to jump to the conclusion, "If something looks like something else, the first thing caused the second." Maybe the second caused the first, and maybe a third thing caused both. That's what makes correlation not causality.

To illustrate:

I love the old joke about the woman who goes to her doctor and says, "Doctor, doctor...every time I drink tea my right eye hurts."

And the doctor says, "Well, take the spoon out of the cup." :D

The woman's got the correspondence right: 100%, in fact. But she's got the causality all wrong.
I hope this is at least interesting.
Oh yes, very. Please feel free to continue if you are inclined.
Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A »

I C
So is your authority "Dr. Nicolescu"? Or is it your own feelings? Or is it some concept of Trinitarianism you picked up from somebody else?

You haven't at all told me what your arbitrator of controversies, the "referee" or "judge" you accept in such matters is. I really would like to know. Why dodge that question? I don't understand...
So you want to open a can of worms. Many people have an interest in religion because they like to look down on people. Secular expressions of religion serve the ego’s need for superiority. Jesus always warned about this but not many listened but instead prefer moral hypocrisy: “do as I say, not as I do.”

The seeker of truth is not concerned with impressing others with BS but experiencing truth. How can a person do it? A person is said to understand when they think, feel and sense the same thing. Then we know what it is by experience.

I have been given a skeleton of what the universe is. It is up to me to fill in the how and why it works. The intellect can answer how it works by verifying universal laws. Our senses can experience the reality of universal laws. Our emotions allow us to experience both subjective and objective value. That is the problem. As you suggested we cannot trust our emotions
Matthew 15:18-19
"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
The seeker of truth must admit their vulnerability rather than ignore and justify it as is done in the world.

Negative emotions are learned reactions. We are not born with them. However we are born with the potential to experience objective feelings. They are the sacred impulses of love, faith, and hope. We are born with the potential for these impulses to develop in quality. They enable us to feel objective conscience which is normally prevented by the dominance of learned negative emotions. We can trust objective feelings but not our emotions.

The purpose of religion IMO is to feel objective value. The World seeks to substitute its values for the quality needed by the depths of the heart. The seeker of truth must be willing to free themselves from attachments to false gods to experience the pearl of great price. At the same time they must accept the limitatiosn of lower reason or the dialectic and strive open to noesis or direct apprehension
"To believe in God is not a decision we can make. All we can do is decide not to give our love to false gods. In the first place, we can decide not to believe that the future contains for us an all-sufficient good. The future is made of the same stuff as the present....

"...It is not for man to seek, or even to believe in God. He has only to refuse to believe in everything that is not God. This refusal does not presuppose belief. It is enough to recognize, what is obvious to any mind, that all the goods of this world, past, present, or future, real or imaginary, are finite and limited and radically incapable of satisfying the desire which burns perpetually with in us for an infinite and perfect good... It is not a matter of self-questioning or searching. A man has only to persist in his refusal, and one day or another God will come to him."
-- Weil, Simone, ON SCIENCE, NECESSITY, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, edited by Richard Rees, London, Oxford University Press, 1968.- ©
Matthew 13:

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]
16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
So the question for me isn’t how to arbitrate arguments but how to experience the quality of truth which reconciles them. How do we develop new eyes to see and ears to hear rather than argue arbitration with our usual eyes and ears?
Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A »

f12hte wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 3:32 pm
Nick_A wrote: Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:38 am One of the most important basic and avoided questions is if a person considers themselves essentially an Individualist or a collectivist. It seems more enjoyable to argue over techniques or good and bad. But the question of Individualism vs. Collectivism as desired method to improve human nature puts us on the spot.

There are many ways to discuss it after we agree as to their basic difference so I'd like to ask you if you agree with the following distinction:

https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/is ... lectivism/
The fundamental political conflict in America today is, as it has been for a century, individualism vs. collectivism. Does the individual’s life belong to him—or does it belong to the group, the community, society, or the state? With government expanding ever more rapidly—seizing and spending more and more of our money on “entitlement” programs and corporate bailouts, and intruding on our businesses and lives in increasingly onerous ways—the need for clarity on this issue has never been greater. Let us begin by defining the terms at hand.

Individualism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and that he has an inalienable right to live it as he sees fit, to act on his own judgment, to keep and use the product of his effort, and to pursue the values of his choosing. It’s the idea that the individual is sovereign, an end in himself, and the fundamental unit of moral concern. This is the ideal that the American Founders set forth and sought to establish when they drafted the Declaration and the Constitution and created a country in which the individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness were to be recognized and protected.

Collectivism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs not to him but to the group or society of which he is merely a part, that he has no rights, and that he must sacrifice his values and goals for the group’s “greater good.” According to collectivism, the group or society is the basic unit of moral concern, and the individual is of value only insofar as he serves the group. As one advocate of this idea puts it: “Man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy. From the day of his birth until the day of his death society allows him to enjoy certain so-called rights and deprives him of others; not . . . because society desires especially to favor or oppress the individual, but because its own preservation, welfare, and happiness are the prime considerations.”1

Individualism or collectivism—which of these ideas is correct? Which has the facts on its side?
As is obvious, America is moving more and more toward collectivism. All we read of are collectives. Is this desirable? Perhaps we can discuss the essential differences and potentials for both individualism and collectivism when life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness become our desired goal..
I think that we are headed in the right direction, towards collectivism. I think that it is necessary for the survival of humanity. Collectivism yields better use of scarce natural resources, and it will not take long for 7 billion of us to become 14 billion or 28 billion. Most utilities, police and fire departments are collectives, established for the maintenance of societies. Each person cannot build an interstate highway system , or a rocket to go to the moon. Each person can not take his own appendix out. Life is better when we work together; each person dedicating his life to the well being of others. And this is the way to find happiness too i.e. selfless service to our fellow man. Much has been written about the psychological benefits of selfless acts performed for the benefit of others.

And as communication increases due to the new communications media, we will see more and more collectivist ideas taking root. Now they are talking about human machine interface. Would 7 billion people wired up to each other be convincing evidence for collectivism? What would such an all encompassing human being be like with the combined mental potential of billions of people? Would it become the God that we have always talked about?
Hi f12hte

While I agree that society as a great collective is capable of many things. Unfortunately I've learned that society is capable of both the greatest compassion and abominations.

I've learned that it was through the development and influence of Philosopher Kings, true individuals, that society would not just devolve into its own destuction. But we have no Philosopher Kings. So what IYO will take their place and enable societies, the grand collectives. to avoid mutual self destruction natural for beings simultaneously capable of the both the greatest good and evil?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can »

Nick_A wrote: Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:11 am So you want to open a can of worms.
Well, no...but I do want to know what we could use as common ground, in order to advance our thinking about things.
Then we know what it is by experience.
Is "experience," then, your litmus test for truth? Or was it something else?
The seeker of truth must admit their vulnerability rather than ignore and justify it as is done in the world.
Yes, for sure.
We can trust objective feelings but not our emotions.
"Objective feelings?" I don't quite understand that expression. "Feelings" are surely subjective, aren't they? How do they become "objective"?

You quote Simone Weil a lot, but also quote Scripture. Which one "carries the heavy load" for you? Which of those two do you use to interpret the other? Does Simone Weil determine your reading of Scripture, or does Scripture determine what you accept from Simone Weil?

These are not "loaded" questions. I'm asking only so I can talk to you on a common basis. But I'm not yet sure what you see as your bedrock of truth.
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RCSaunders
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders »

Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:55 pm
RCSaunders wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:08 pm For now I'll only say a capacity to do something is not a propensity or inclination to do it. No such inclination is necessary, unless you believe Adam was created with an inclination to sin.
Adam's a unique case, obviously. Nobody but he (and Eve) are described as having experienced a state of global innocence like that.
Hi again IC. It is refreshing to discuss something with someone who actually reads what is written and understands it.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:55 pm However, after the Fall, things are obviously quite different. After that, every person born is born into a fallen world, and with not just an option to sin but an inclination to do so as well.
I would expect that to be your position, but I have found nothing in the Bible to persuade me it teaches men sin because of an inclination to sin or that they could not choose to live without sin. I agree with Pelagius, that everyone who sins does so in exactly the same way and for the same reason Adam and Eve did, because they chose to. I think it might be put down to a point you are going to make about cause and correlation. Just because sin is universal does not mean it is caused by a sinful nature. The ability to choose is enough to account for sin, and everyone makes that choice. The fact that the Bible states that everyone sins can easily be attributed to God's foreknowledge.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:55 pm
I think the Bible makes it clear that both ability and knowledge are required for moral responsibility. It is not a sin to not do what one is unable to do, or to do what it is impossible not to do, or to do what one really does not know it is wrong to do. (II Cor. 8:12, Prov. 3:27, Lev. 27:8, Luke 12:47&48, John 15:22-25, John 9:40&41, James 4:17, Rom. 4:15)
There's a lot of truth to this. What you don't know you did cannot be your fault. But we know very early in life when we do wrong, don't we? Even a child will hide his "crimes." If he stole a cookie, he will lie, or he will put it under his pillow, or he will eat it quickly, hiding in the corner. He knows what he did is wrong; and his hiding is evidence he knows. It's what is called in court "a guilty mind."
Ha Ha! Do you have children? Adults are often too quick to interpret chidren's behavior in terms of their own thoughts and feelings. I laughed because of an incident with my oldest son. Our family was visiting my parents when someone noticed my son was missing and very quiet. Everyone was in the downstairs living room. There was also an upstairs living room, and climbing the stairs we discovered our son standing with his back to us, with the candy dish cover in one hand, and a piece of candy in the other, shaking his head, "no!" He was not yet a year old. The moment he heard us, his decision was made, the candy popped into his mouth. Believe me he was not deliberated the rightness or wrongness of eating the candy, but whether or not he could get away with it. It was quite obvious there was no sense of guilt. He was quite proud of his accomplishment.

I think all those things you are attributing to a guilty conscience are actually attempts to evade painful consequences (often unreasonable ones dished out by over-zealous parents). I was enlightened about the nature of conscience many years ago by some missionaries to New Guinea. The tribe they were working with were cannibals, who believed it was wrong not partake in eating the remains of defeated enemies, and if they refused, suffered a guilty conscience. Conscience is not a guide to moral virtue, it is an emotional reaction to one's choice to do what one believes is wrong. It is the reason men can do very evil things without suffering from conscience, because they believe what they are doing is right, even, "God's will."
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:55 pm
I mentioned a misinterpretation of James ...
Yes, quite. So far, so good.
Sin is not yielding to desire, sin is doing what one knows is wrong. Of course one does not do what one has no desire to do, and a desire is only a "temptation" if the thing desired is itself wrong to indulge.
Partly true. But sometimes, the "thing" itself is not in itself wrong; but the way one indulges it is wrong.

Sex is not wrong, for example. In fact, it's a positively great thing. But there are contexts in which it is wrong, such as pedophelia and rape. The desire for sex isn't bad; but the way that is gratified certainly is.
I think we agree enough on this for me to make my only point, that for desire to lead to sin it does not have to be a special kind of "sinful" desire, but that plain old garden variety desire is sufficient to do it. Of course I'm pointing out a sinful nature is not required for temptation and sin. I do not expect you do agree with that. I intend to show that the Bible does not teach that man has a sinful nature. But later.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:55 pm ...

Adam is the interesting middle case. Or maybe we should say "Eve." For the Genesis description only gives us three reasons why she fell. She saw that the fruit (no "apple" is mentioned...that's a later imagining) was " good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it."

"Good for food"? Not evil. "Pleasing to the eye"? Not evil. "Desirable for gaining wisdom?" Also not evil. In other words, the problem for Eve was not internal, but contextual. What made this ordinarily permissible act impermissible was that it was the lone contradiction given by God: "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” You might say that her first sin was to doubt the word of God. And left to herself, she may not have had the inner longing to do so, but with the snake's words, she had the inducement to do it; and clearly, she also had the freedom to do so.

One prohibition. Only one. And one was necessary, because in a world with no prohibitions there is no such thing as voluntary obedience, either. One was the minimum that could exist, if human freedom was also to be possible.

But that's also a unique situation. We would have to explain how we can generalize that, since none of us has personally experienced living in a world of innocence, or being beneficiaries of an unfilled nature.
I'd like to come back to this another time. I have very serious questions about the whole Genesis account.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:07 am Naw. I'll bet I'm less.

I know the five points of Calvinism. I don't believe any of them.

Well I didn't think you were a TULIP hyper-Calinist. Labels don't really matter or say much.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:07 am
Both Calvinism and Arminianism assert that human beings are depraved...
True. But that's why I'm also not an Arminian. I don't believe the Doctrine of Total Depravity. Arminius also did not believe what's called Eternal Security. I do.
I didn't mean "total depravity," I only meant depravity in the sense of an inherited, "corrupt," sinful nature. Most Methodists I have known believe in both a sinful nature and eternal security, but also believe in sanctification (as separate form salvation) and that one can, "fall away." I think there is a lot of Scripture evidence for both.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:07 am Now, that would take a lot of subtle theological unpacking to explain: but I can see you're up to it, so I'll answer for that as far as you wish. But I'll leave it up to you whether or not I do.
I'm sure we'll come to that, but can leave it for now.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:07 am But we must be careful, because there's a logical fallacy possible here: correlation is not causality. A resemblance between two things does not prove a cause -- that one is the origin of the other.
The reason I attribute Calvin's views on depravity and dualism to Augustine is not based on a presumed similarity (correlation) but on the fact the Calvin refers to Augustine in explicating his views. I do not have direct evidence that Augustine derived his dualistic views from Manichaeism, though he was one.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:07 am One could easily make a different argument, with the same data: let us suppose that Manicheism is a combination of truth and falsehood (as most errors and lies are, actually). Then it would be unsurprising if one of its tenets were true. Let us furthermore suppose that it's possible human beings have an inner awareness of God (as, say, Romans 1 says they do), and that partial truth is available to all men. Again, why would it surprise us if Manicheism came up with some right answers: because a third thing -- not the Early Fathers nor the Manichees, but the innate awareness we have of God -- was to account for both.
I'm not comfortable basing much on 'suppose,' except for hypothetical consideration. Verses 17-19 of Romans 2 make it clear this entire passage, from Romans 1 on, was being written to the Jews in Rome, who did have the law and revelation of God. I do not believe Romans 1 is a description of all mankind as individuals, and that such an interpretation is contradicted by other passages. Though the Bible certainly teaches that all human beings sin, I do not think that is the point of Romans 1. On a practical level, if one can know God without revelation, what was the point of New Testament evangelism? Romans 2:14&15 are interesting here.

I too have enjoyed our conversation. I will make a confession, in case it is not obvious. I am intentionally attempting to keep the discussion within the context of Biblical Christianity. I personally hold no views that could be called religious, and I do not believe in any form of the supernatural, but I'm not interested in changing anyone else's views. So, I'll continue to accept your view of the authority of the Bible, including it supernatural teachings and attempt to write from that position, though, honestly, I do not personally agree with those views. Are you comfortable with that?

If you wonder how I could possibly be interested in what I do not believe, here are a couple of reasons. I find most people who believe differently from me (which is almost everyone) both interesting and enjoyable as individuals, including their thinking, and I especially admire those who live their moral principles consistently and enjoy their lives. Something does not have to be "real" for me to enjoy it. From the time I discovered Kipling's "Just So," stories, Mark Twain, and the delightful fantasies of C.S. Lewis I have enjoyed those exercises of the mind that are far from reality. My wife and I are both voracious readers, (two to three books a week), so there is little of intellectual interest that I do not enjoy. And of course, the Bible is perhaps the single most interesting book ever written, though it's not really "a" book, is it? I have long been bewildered by the fact that so many people claim the Bible as their authority, but have never bothered to read, much less study it, even once, all the way through. Doesn't that amaze you?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can »

RCSaunders wrote: Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:44 am Hi again IC. It is refreshing to discuss something with someone who actually reads what is written and understands it.
I feel the same. I'm quite enjoying the conversation. Having someone with some background and some clear thinking really helps. One doesn't have to explain every detail, and can speak in "shorthand" a bit more, without fear of being misread.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:55 pm However, after the Fall, things are obviously quite different. After that, every person born is born into a fallen world, and with not just an option to sin but an inclination to do so as well.
I would expect that to be your position, but I have found nothing in the Bible to persuade me it teaches men sin because of an inclination to sin or that they could not choose to live without sin.
Interesting. I see an awful lot to support that case. I guess we could swop quotations, but is that what you'd like to do?

What I should say, though, is that we both seem to recognize as Biblical, and value choice, and human freedoms and responsibilities. That is a great deal different from Neo-Calvinism, of course, because Neo-Calvinists insist that choice is not possible: all is predetermined by divine fiat, they say. But the idea of a sin nature, and the ability to exercise choice are not mutually exclusive: one can have inclinations toward what one decides, for various reasons, not to do. There's nothing unusual about that, of course. So I don't think we have to sacrifice the concept of the sin nature in order to affirm the reality of human freedom and choice. In fact, without human freedom and choice, I would argue we could have no human responsibility either -- and unless I miss my guess, you're on that page too.
The fact that the Bible states that everyone sins can easily be attributed to God's foreknowledge.
Well, yes: but not exclusively. After all, when one has a free choice, why would one ever do what was sinful, if sin is just a bad idea? There must be some attractiveness to it, and that attractiveness cannot but be located in the one being tempted. Of course, we could refer again here to James 1:14-15 here. But Jesus also develops this doctrine in the famous Sermon on the Mount. There, he extends the understanding of the Law beyond mere action, and gets to intention and inclination, particular in things like hatred and lust. (Matthew 5:21-30) He further says that these things come from inside the man, not from outside (Matthew 15:18, for example).

I could go on, of course, but swapping references can quickly become tedious, unless we're both engaged in precise systematic theology at the moment...then, it's necessary, of course. It's only my point at the moment to say what I personally believe, and to give you some idea of why, so you know I'm not just making stuff up.
I think the Bible makes it clear that both ability and knowledge are required for moral responsibility. It is not a sin to not do what one is unable to do, or to do what it is impossible not to do, or to do what one really does not know it is wrong to do. (II Cor. 8:12, Prov. 3:27, Lev. 27:8, Luke 12:47&48, John 15:22-25, John 9:40&41, James 4:17, Rom. 4:15)
Yes, I think that too. But I don't think, as the Neo-Calvinists think, that the sin nature is deterministic of all our actions. It may adequately describe our primary motives without God, perhaps; but it does not mean that we lack ability to do any good. After all, we are "created in the image of God," and that "image" is not entirely erased by sin.
Adults are often too quick to interpret chidren's behavior in terms of their own thoughts and feelings.

True. In a child's world, things happen on a different scale, and with different motives. But I don't find that different things happen. I mean that I find human nature pretty predictable, from cradle to grave. And a sense of guilt and wrong-doing starts, in normal children, very early, in my experience.
I think all those things you are attributing to a guilty conscience are actually attempts to evade painful consequences (often unreasonable ones dished out by over-zealous parents).
That can be the case. But it is not always the case. However, whether or not the child has a sense of guilt is not really the issue. One doesn't have to have a sense of guilt in order to be genuinely guilty. True, one's guilt is greater if one DID have a proper sense of it, but that does not imply that if one had no sense of guilt one had no guilt.

Consider sociopaths and psychopaths. They have no sense of guilt. But they ought to. They would be better people if they did. And their lack of a sense of the moral status of what they've done speaks to something wrongly developed in their brains and characters. But that does not mean they have not done evil. It just means they aren't recognizing what they've done. And we don't feel any guilt ourselves when we lock them up; in fact, we're even more relieved than in the cases of those who had a sense of guilt.

Children have underdeveloped mechanisms for detecting the moral status of their impulses. That's not news to anyone. However, that does not suggest they are devoid of guilt for what they do; they are only deficient in a sense of guilt. And I think it's really clear that, in normal humans, that sense of guilt comes on line pretty early; and good thing it does! If it did not, we might not just have the famed "terrible twos," but the "terrible tens and twenties" as well. :wink:
I was enlightened about the nature of conscience many years ago by some missionaries to New Guinea. The tribe they were working with were cannibals, who believed it was wrong not partake in eating the remains of defeated enemies, and if they refused, suffered a guilty conscience. Conscience is not a guide to moral virtue, it is an emotional reaction to one's choice to do what one believes is wrong. It is the reason men can do very evil things without suffering from conscience, because they believe what they are doing is right, even, "God's will."

I agree...they can. And conscience can be defective, as well. It's far from a reliable guide. It doesn't always tell you when what you are doing is wrong. I remember things I did at 19 or 20 about which I barely thought, but now realize were really petty or unkind. I should have realized: but I didn't. My conscience was, if active at all, very much on "mute" at the time.

But I have not found a case where my conscience DID alert me, where a little reflection did not reveal to me that I was indeed going wrong. It seems the thing is a bit like a smoke alarm -- those things don't always go off, especially if the batteries are dead; but if one goes off then you're best to check for fire anyway.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:55 pm Partly true. But sometimes, the "thing" itself is not in itself wrong; but the way one indulges it is wrong.

Sex is not wrong, for example. In fact, it's a positively great thing. But there are contexts in which it is wrong, such as pedophelia and rape. The desire for sex isn't bad; but the way that is gratified certainly is.
I think we agree enough on this for me to make my only point, that for desire to lead to sin it does not have to be a special kind of "sinful" desire, but that plain old garden variety desire is sufficient to do it.
No, it's true that even a good or natural desire can be twisted into evil. But sometimes the desire is, indeed, evil. Sin's a complex thing, to be sure. But here's the real question: from where does the "twist" come? It doesn't come from God, so where? If mankind's nature is just good, or even merely neutral, how is it that evil has any appeal at all? That "twist," to say nothing of something like burning hatred or delight in others' suffering, has to have a cause, a source, an origination point of some kind. Where's that bad energy coming from, if not from, as Christ said, "within the man"?
I'd like to come back to this [Adam and Eve] another time. I have very serious questions about the whole Genesis account.
Yes, sure. I'd be glad to.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:07 am
Both Calvinism and Arminianism assert that human beings are depraved...
True. But that's why I'm also not an Arminian. I don't believe the Doctrine of Total Depravity. Arminius also did not believe what's called Eternal Security. I do.
I didn't mean "total depravity," I only meant depravity in the sense of an inherited, "corrupt," sinful nature.
Interestingly, Calvin himself, it seems, did not believe in the same sort of Total Depravity Doctrine currently being pushed by the Neo-Calvinists. As you've read Calvin, you know that he thought that sin had "infected" all categories of human activity, but only in partial measure; he did not think it had rendered all those categories nothing but wicked -- which Neo-Calvinists would insist. For Calvin, sin tainted but did not destroy utterly the human potential for good; but Neo-Calvinists say it's a total ruin. Not only that, but Neo-Calvinists understand "depravity" to refer not just to bad actions, but to a dementia of mind that makes even a rudimentary awareness of God impossible to the unregenerate man. In other words, the world is filled, for the Calvinist, but nothing with immoral lunatics, who have to be rescued by arbitrary fiat of God, because they cannot even see the offer of salvation, let alone take it, without God first picking them out of the masses and forcing (they say "compelling") them to bow to it.

All this is not the correct doctrine of the sin nature. It's a peculiar Neo-Calvinist version of it, which I see as highly problematic, but Scripturally and logically. Personally, I'm not a fan of it. I say that so you'll know that maybe what you might be reacting against is not actually a package of ideas I would accept. So I really don't know if there's any sense in which I can be called a "Calvinist." It's certainly a badge I'd never take on.
Most Methodists I have known believe in both a sinful nature and eternal security, but also believe in sanctification (as separate form salvation) and that one can, "fall away." I think there is a lot of Scripture evidence for both.
Right. I think the Methodists have a deficient view of sanctification, too. They fail to see that Scripture uses the term three particular ways, and so they use it only one. And this causes them to make some serious errors, like "fall away" doctrine.

But that's a big topic too. I think I'll let you take the conversation in the direction you prefer, rather than fleshing that out at the moment.
I do not have direct evidence that Augustine derived his dualistic views from Manichaeism, though he was one.

Yeah, that's the correlation-causality thing I was pointing to. It would be very hard to say that the latter caused the former. But if it did, Augustine is not God. He's just another guy trying to systematize his ideas about God. If he failed in some way, it troubles me not at all; I would expect it. It would simply be on me to correct it, if I came across it.
I'm not comfortable basing much on 'suppose,' except for hypothetical consideration.

That's fine. But hypotheticals are very useful for showing us what is possibly different from what we may imagine to be the case. If they do that, they do enough.
Verses 17-19 of Romans 2 make it clear this entire passage, from Romans 1 on, was being written to the Jews in Rome,
Well, no. I see why you think that, but what about everything up to 2:17? All of that is earmarked to Gentile believers: see verses 4-7, 13-16, 18...repeatedly, the passage is explicitly directed to them. What he's doing in 2:17-19 is dealing with the objection that all the things he said earlier were ONLY true of Gentiles, and NOT of Jews. That's why he says, "But if you bear the name 'Jew,' and rely upon the Law..." and so on. Note the IF, the hypothetical there: Paul is saying, "If you say to me that you are different, you are sadly mistaken." He then goes on to show, for about a chapter, that Jews are not a special category of holier-than-thou folks, simply because they had the Law, the covenants and the promises. But he ends that section sharply in 3:9

"What then? Are we (the Jews) better than they (the Gentiles)? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written,“There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless, There is none who does good, There is not even one.”


Paul's going to return to the special problem of convincing Jewish believers that they aren't above Gentile believers. He'll come back to that in chapters 9-11, and really give it full treatment. But it will remain a theme softly playing in the background in all he says to the Gentiles as well. In chapter 12, he's speaking again to the entire group of Christians in Rome, without Jew-Gentile distinction. And that's how he finishes.

Anyway, that's how I see the breakdown. I refer to the markers Paul uses when referring to his audience(s), and to track his thought-flow. It's clear to me that the addresses to the Gentiles and the combined Jewish-Gentile believer group in Rome bracket the specific remarks he directs to "Israel," or "my brethren according to the flesh," (as distinct, obviously, from "my brethren according to the Spirit").

But now we're getting into specific exegesis. Are we too far into it?
I too have enjoyed our conversation. I will make a confession, in case it is not obvious. I am intentionally attempting to keep the discussion within the context of Biblical Christianity. I personally hold no views that could be called religious, and I do not believe in any form of the supernatural, but I'm not interested in changing anyone else's views. So, I'll continue to accept your view of the authority of the Bible, including it supernatural teachings and attempt to write from that position, though, honestly, I do not personally agree with those views. Are you comfortable with that?
Of course. That's eminently fair. And I, for my part, will make no assumption about you having to believe before you get a right to talk about it. Fair enough?
If you wonder how I could possibly be interested in what I do not believe, here are a couple of reasons. I find most people who believe differently from me (which is almost everyone) both interesting and enjoyable as individuals, including their thinking, and I especially admire those who live their moral principles consistently and enjoy their lives. Something does not have to be "real" for me to enjoy it.
I get it. I'm very interested in Atheists and agnostics in precisely the same way. I don't agree with them, but I get a kick out of figuring out how they're processing things. I'm reading Jung right now, as a matter of fact. And I've always enjoyed Hardy, and Beckett, and Camus, and Rand. I've read a fair bit of Nietzsche, and found that interesting as well. And Freud. And some of Marx. And so on. I've tried to do some diligence in that regard.
...the delightful fantasies of C.S. Lewis...
I was a big Narnia reader as a kid. I just read his space trilogy recently. It doesn't age well, but it was very inventive for his time. What I really enjoyed were his essays. He's got in common with people like Chesterton and Orwell a real ability to turn a phrase.
I have long been bewildered by the fact that so many people claim the Bible as their authority, but have never bothered to read, much less study it, even once, all the way through. Doesn't that amaze you?
No, it saddens me. The greatest work of Western literature, the key document of Western civilization, really, is not read well, even by many of the people who claim most affinity with it -- or so the surveys tell me. However, I attempt to do my best to not add my name to the list of those whose familiarity with it is cursory, shallow or zero. There are enough of those already.

Good talking to you.
Last edited by Immanuel Can on Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A »

I C
Is "experience," then, your litmus test for truth? Or was it something else?
Yes experience of a certain quality. At one time in college I thought I could always find the flaw in a professor’s logic. It was annoying I felt that I was caught up in a perpetual con job. Later in life I had my conscious/spiritual experience. It changed my life. I was amazed that I couldn’t find a flaw. At one time the world made no sense but now I saw it is making perfect sense and couldn’t be different
"Objective feelings?" I don't quite understand that expression. "Feelings" are surely subjective, aren't they? How do they become "objective"?
Metropolitan Anthony desccribes the difference between feelings and emotions to Jacob Needleman in his book Lost Christianity
Metropolitan Anthony," I began, "five years ago when I visited you I attended services which you yourself conducted and I remarked to you how struck I was by the absence of emotion in your voice. Today, in the same way where it was not you but the choir, I was struck by the same thing, the almost complete lack of emotion in the voices of the singers."

Yes he said, "this is quite true, it has taken years for that, but they are finally beginning to understand...."

"What do you mean?" I asked. I knew what he meant but I wanted to hear him speak about this - this most unexpected aspect of the Christianity I never knew, and perhaps very few modern people ever knew. I put the question further: "The average person hearing this service - and of course the average Westerner having to stand up for several hours it took - might not be able to distinguish it from the mechanical routine that has become so predominant in the performance of the Christian liturgy in the West. He might come wanting to be lifted, inspired,moved to joy or sadness - and this the churches in the West are trying to produce because many leaders of the Church are turning away from the mechanical, the routine.."

He gently waved aside what I was saying and I stopped in mid sentence. "There was a pause, then he said: "No. Emotion must be destroyed."

He stopped, reflected, and started again, speaking in his husky Russian accent: "We have to get rid of emotions....in order to reach.....feeling."

Again he paused, looking at me, weighing the effect his words were having. I said nothing. but inside I was alive with expectancy. I waited.

Very tentatively, I nodded my head.

He continued: "You ask about the liturgy in the West and in the East. it is precisely the same issue. the sermons, the Holy Days - you don't why one comes after the other. or why this one now and the other one later. Even if you read everything about it you still wouldn't know, believe me.

"And yet . . . there is a profound logic in them, in the sequence of the Holy Days. And this sequence leads people somewhere - without their knowing it intellectually. Actually, it is impossible for anyone to understand the sequence of rituals and Holy Days intellectually. it is not meant for that. It is meant for something else, something higher.

For this you have to be in a state of prayer, otherwise it passes you by-"

"What is prayer?" I asked.

He did not seem to mind my interrupting with this question. Quite the contrary. "In a state of prayer one is vulnerable." He emphasized the last word and then waited until he was sure I had not taken it in an ordinary way.

"In prayer one is vulnerable, not enthusiastic. and then these rituals have such force. they hit you like a locomotive. You must be not enthusiastic, nor rejecting - but only open. This is the whole idea of asceticism: to become open."
"We have to get rid of emotions....in order to reach.....feeling."

Feelings are soul knowledge while emotions are subjective expressions of our personality. Years ago I probably wouldn’t have understood how deep his observation is
You quote Simone Weil a lot, but also quote Scripture. Which one "carries the heavy load" for you? Which of those two do you use to interpret the other? Does Simone Weil determine your reading of Scripture, or does Scripture determine what you accept from Simone Weil?
I don’t see any way that Simone and scripture are opposed. Her value lies in her dedication to truth which reveals the contradictions normal for the human condition. Rather than resorting to lies and demanding condemnation she invites us through the power of conscious attention to see it as it is. This in no way contradicts Jesus’ mission
These are not "loaded" questions. I'm asking only so I can talk to you on a common basis. But I'm not yet sure what you see as your bedrock of truth.
My bottom line is that Man on earth including me is serving a mechanical necessity natural for animal life, This necessity is an aspect of universal purpose. However, human being is such that Man can evolve to serve a conscious purpose as well as a mechanical purpose. Christianity is a means for becoming able and to serve a conscious purpose beyond our comprehension and becoming the potential for human being
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can »

Nick_A wrote: Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:33 am
Is "experience," then, your litmus test for truth? Or was it something else?
Yes experience of a certain quality.
Okay, thank you.
"We have to get rid of emotions....in order to reach.....feeling." Feelings are soul knowledge while emotions are subjective expressions of our personality.
Hmmm. No, I don't think this is true.

In conventional usage, there's little distinction to be made between "emotions" and "feelings," so the distinction here is merely stipulated -- that is, artificially arranged by the speakers. As such, the listeners are not compelled to agree with it by any facts; they simply do or do not accept it as a convention for the moment, in order to understand the speaker's arguments.

But I don't think the distinction holds. "Feelings," (as stipulated) however powerful and deep they may be, are just as unreliable as "emotions;" except they perhaps mobilize more enthusiasm, and are for that reason, even more dangerous sometimes.
I don’t see any way that Simone and scripture are opposed.
Then the answer is probably "Simone Weil."
This in no way contradicts Jesus’ mission
I think it's a very different "mission," actually. Jesus does not advocate salvific self-realization through mystical experience. His focus was on the new birth. The self, rather than being the locus of enlightenment, is a dark place in need of reconstitution, according to Christ. Nor did he speak of this happening in a progressivist or evolutionary way; it was sudden, total, and "from above," in His teaching.

Honestly, I don't find Jesus Christ and Simone Weil "on the same page," so to speak.

Interesting. Well, we have a different way of locating spiritual truth. That will make it difficult for us to arbitrate a controversy. I will tend to refer to Biblical text, and use that to interpret any "mystical experience," and you will be inclined to refer to mystical experience in order to interpret the Bible instead. We may both refer to both, but we'll tend to do so in contradictory ways, perhaps.
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