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Old 12-26-2010, 08:39 PM   #16
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It's an interesting article, and he has some interesting points to make. I thought this response to his points was as good as any I've read. (Full disclosure: it was written by a friend.) The whole article is worth the read, but some of Gary's particularly cogent points are excerpted below:

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...a worldview is a description of the stories that shape the principles that support the conventions that an individual uses to make their daily decisions. The problem is, nobody’s worldview is actually “personal.” While we each have unique experiences that form the backbone of the “story of our life,” we interpret these experiences through the stories transmitted to us by our larger cultures. Our personal worldview rests within concentric circles of larger and larger worldviews. In other words, (1) my (micro) worldview rests mostly within, (2) my family’s (slightly less micro) worldview, which rests mostly within (3) my sub-culture’s (even less micro) worldview, and (4) my current society’s (more macro) worldview, and (5) my historic civilization’s (macro) worldview.

While it is a gross oversimplification, you could say that the history of Western civilization has been comprised of the interplay of two key macro worldviews: what I will call physicalism and idealism.

Physicalism is a macro worldview that roots our understanding of reality in the physical world. Physicalism starts with what you can see, feel, touch, and taste as the only “really real” things in the world. If you can measure something’s length, weigh its mass, or quantify it in some way, then it is a reliable source of knowledge.

[...]Ricky Gervais’ Wall Street Journal essay is a beautiful example of using physicalism to defend atheism. Ricky explained the rationale for his lack of faith by asserting, “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe… (Science) bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence…” By “hard” evidence, Ricky means things you can touch, taste, see, and measure. If there is no “hard” physicalist evidence for God, then he won’t believe it. It is a common position for modern physicalists.

Idealism is a worldview that roots our understanding of reality in the world of ideas, values, spirits, and/or gods. Idealism starts with what you cannot see, touch, taste, see or feel as the only “really real” things in the world. You can’t weigh a pound of love, or measure a mile of justice, or put a soul in a beaker, yet idealists view these intuited unseen ideals as what really matters. As Immanuel Kant asserted, “All human knowledge begins with intuitions, proceeds from thence to concepts, and ends with ideas.”

Idealists look beyond the hard realities of the physical world and point to something they view as much more “real.” When the Beatles sing, “All you need is love,” or Jean Valjean declares in Les Miserables, “To love another person is to see the face of God,” they are giving voice to an idealist worldview. They are not appealing to hard physical evidence, but to an ideal so intuitively true they need no “proof.” When Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” or MLK declared, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” they were appealing to something beyond the physical world and calling others toward it.


The struggle between these two worldviews is at least as old as the study of philosophy. Plato (and later Augustine and Kant) advocated for idealism, while Aristotle (and later Aquinas and Hume) sided with physicalism. Neither side has ever scored a decisive victory, yet the philosophical underpinnings of each era of Western history can often be described by the relationship between the two at a given cultural moment.
It's worth reading, for those who are interested...

Ricky Gervais and Sentimental Hogwash: It’s a Wonderful Life, Part 1 |Two Handed Warriors
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:49 PM   #17
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Who are the people who want to ban or illegalise religion?
Seemingly, the next step in the evil atheist plan is to ban Santa and the tooth fairy.
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:56 PM   #18
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It's an interesting article, and he has some interesting points to make. I thought this response to his points was as good as any I've read. (Full disclosure: it was written by a friend.)
I guess what I'm wondering is, why does Gervais' essay need a response? He says he's an atheist, he sets out why and how he came to be that way. What exactly is there to respond TO? I find this to be a typically Christian response. And it isn't that your friend wrote something that is poorly thought out or constructed, it's just that, to me, it's typical of a certain Christian worldview to even think that a personally held view somehow must be rebutted.
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:57 PM   #19
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Gotta love that rebel from Narareth.
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:59 PM   #20
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I'm guessing that the writer's point is that the theology has not caught up with the technology. I'm not precisely sure why he needs to go on so long to demonstrate his point.

With all due respect to your friend, my response to these and similar essays is basically two words, to whit:

'So what?'
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Old 12-26-2010, 10:34 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by nathan1977 View Post
It's an interesting article, and he has some interesting points to make. I thought this response to his points was as good as any I've read. (Full disclosure: it was written by a friend.) The whole article is worth the read, but some of Gary's particularly cogent points are excerpted below:



It's worth reading, for those who are interested...

Ricky Gervais and Sentimental Hogwash: It’s a Wonderful Life, Part 1 �|�Two Handed Warriors
Interesting response. Well thought out, for sure.

But I don't like the implication that because Gervais is an atheist he doesn't understand or appreciate "the world of ideas and values."
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Old 12-27-2010, 02:40 AM   #22
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to me, it's typical of a certain Christian worldview to even think that a personally held view somehow must be rebutted.
A personally held view published to the world.
A comedian's "holiday message" of atheism on/near a religious holiday.
I don't think Gervais would've been surprised to know that someone wanted to respond to his view. After all, he felt it needed to be shared. I notice you weren't as curious about that. Why is that? Because that's what people do on blogs? Right. That's what people do on most of the internet, even in discussion forums like this one or twitter. Everything posted is an invitation for "rebuttal".
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Old 12-27-2010, 12:03 PM   #23
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After all, he felt it needed to be shared. I notice you weren't as curious about that. Why is that? Because that's what people do on blogs? Right. That's what people do on most of the internet, even in discussion forums like this one or twitter. Everything posted is an invitation for "rebuttal".
I wasn't curious about why he needed to share it precisely for the reason you stated.

Just like when a Jewish poster here posts about Jewish holidays or customs that they practice with their family, I wouldn't feel the need to rebut them. And just like when people post Christmas wishes and so on, I don't feel the need to step in and comment.

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Old 12-27-2010, 01:17 PM   #24
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To be fair, I haven't read either Gervais article or the "rebuttal."

Nevertheless, is it really a stretch to suggest that had a Christian written an article about why they are believers, that an atheist might not have felt a desire to provide a "rebuttal"?

What I find annoying is the sanctimony with which both sides rebuke each other for essentially doing the same thing i.e. critiquing one anothers world views and somehow suggesting that the other worldview is somehow "less."

Let's be honest, neither the atheist nor the Christian feels that both viewpoints are "equally valid" so lets not get all mortified when either side fails to express that.
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Old 12-27-2010, 07:24 PM   #25
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Nicely said, Sean. You are right, it's to be expected that people will respond to others' arguments about issues, especially those concerning a topic as controversial as this one. And I have no problem with a religious response to Gervais' essay, which was very well laid out, I might add. No disrespect, just simple honesty, this being my favorite part:

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It’s strange that anyone who believes that an all-powerful all-knowing, omniscient power responsible for everything that happens, would also want to judge and punish people for what they are.
(And they feel the need to do that despite the fact that God kind of already told them he (she/it?) would take care of that task for them, which I also find odd)

But I think the one shared wasn't a very strong rebuttal. Reviewing a movie (which I've only seen once, but from my recollection, I didn't exactly get an overly strong anti-atheist vibe from it. I got a message about faith and love and hope, sure, but those concepts aren't relegated solely to Christianity, or religion in general) and other various ideals and beliefs and the history behind them are fascinating reading, but it didn't exactly address Ricky's essay itself. It kind of went off in tangents. Much like some of this post has .

I think we can boil everything down to this simple statement:

Quote:
You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.
Is it really that hard to follow that instruction, no matter who you are, no matter what religious beliefs you do or don't have? It shouldn't be. It's about as simple as it can get.

Also, thanks, Pearl .

Angela
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Old 12-27-2010, 07:35 PM   #26
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I have nothing else to say..but he's the cutest pastor I've ever seen

I'd go to church every day
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Old 12-28-2010, 05:05 AM   #27
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It's interesting that this is the defining attribute of God:

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an all-powerful all-knowing, omniscient power responsible for everything that happens
I see this over and over again as the defining element of God, when what's strange is that the Bible never describes God as being responsible for everything that happens. Humans have agency in the Scriptures; the devil has agency in the Scriptures; God has agency in the Scriptures. When it comes to the question of responsibility, it's pretty clear that God is by no means responsible for everything that happens. Quite the opposite, in fact. If the myth of Creation is to be believed at any level, God in fact turned over authority for running the world to us...authority that we abdicated, and have been ever since. (The commands to love our neighbor, care for the earth and its inhabitants, etc.)

I'm someone who believes that God knows everything -- the same way that, as a parent, I can see what my little girls are going to be like someday. But because God gives us agency in the world, He lets us figure things out, make mistakes, etc.

So I always find it strange that God gets blamed for all manner of things...when the reality may well be that we are far more culpable than we think. Our faults lie, not in our stars, but in our selves, is how the poet put it, and I don't think that's so wrong.
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:51 AM   #28
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i think it's a good story, he definitely touches on what's kind of made me stray from attending church: these huge mega-churches, spending millions on continuous expansion of their property, making it all nice and air conditioned, then having the gall to ask me to donate as if it'll go towards something other than buying the pastor another suv. i'm a bigger fan of churches that have a congregation of a couple hundred, meeting in some rented place. any bigger and you're just a face in a crowd anyway, might as well stay home and watch it on tv.

anyway, back on topic, it's always refreshing to see people not be so materialistic and really striving to help out those in need, no matter what their beliefs are.
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Old 12-28-2010, 06:42 PM   #29
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Who are the people who want to ban or illegalise religion? By definition a secularist opposes government interference in peoples personal beliefs.
I do believe North Korea has a ban on all religion, and religous activities.
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:15 PM   #30
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It's interesting that this is the defining attribute of God:



I see this over and over again as the defining element of God, when what's strange is that the Bible never describes God as being responsible for everything that happens. Humans have agency in the Scriptures; the devil has agency in the Scriptures; God has agency in the Scriptures. When it comes to the question of responsibility, it's pretty clear that God is by no means responsible for everything that happens. Quite the opposite, in fact. If the myth of Creation is to be believed at any level, God in fact turned over authority for running the world to us...authority that we abdicated, and have been ever since. (The commands to love our neighbor, care for the earth and its inhabitants, etc.)

I'm someone who believes that God knows everything -- the same way that, as a parent, I can see what my little girls are going to be like someday. But because God gives us agency in the world, He lets us figure things out, make mistakes, etc.

So I always find it strange that God gets blamed for all manner of things...when the reality may well be that we are far more culpable than we think. Our faults lie, not in our stars, but in our selves, is how the poet put it, and I don't think that's so wrong.
I actually fully agree with you on this. I think Gervais was just alluding to what he keeps hearing many religious people state on a regular basis. They may not blame God for everything that happens, but they sure love to give him credit for all the good stuff ("We survived ______ disaster because God was looking out for us." Never mind the people who died, though, I guess. "We won this game/award thanks to God". Etc., etc.). It's the contradiction in statements like that-if he can get the credit, is responsible for the good, why can't he get the blame and responsibility for the bad as well?-that I think he was calling out. And if a religious person truly does believe that God is responsible for all things, then why do they feel the need to cast judgment on and attack things/people that are supposedly the result of God's designs? Stuff like that.

But me, personally, I agree a lot more with your post. That tends to be how I feel as well.

Angela
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