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Old 02-17-2006, 10:47 AM   #31
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Just rememebr the existentialist statement from TV's 'Angel', "if nothing that we do matters, then all that matters is what we do", now sure it is the logical equivalent of chasing it's tail around in circles but the ability to order or experiences as important be it through faith or organised religion or in deed. So in a very real sense word and action will trump faith in the justifying existence stakes.

Then theres the whole absence of existence thing, but again thats nothing (literally), I (the individual collection of neurons that make up my personality and conciousness) didn't exist until I was born - and even then not until I was two or three if memory becomes a defining part of who you are. I will not exist after I die, even if somehow my brain was imprinted onto some other format that would be a copy. You could be replicated every time that you blink your eye and would never realize it - of course that is merely an extreme illustration and one that is a logical non sequiter.

If we had a room from which no matter or energy could be added or lost (after we press a button), and we put a dying man in there and press the button the ammount of energy and matter would remain constant after death, decomposition and whatever iterations of atoms and energy occur - the idea of concious life after death is conditional upon the metaphysical, but again if we understand from first principles how conciousness works and can explain it without the supernatural then what sense it there to be both a metaphysical soul made up of an impossible to detect form and a functional mind made of energy and energy condensate.
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Old 02-17-2006, 10:54 AM   #32
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it does strike me that all religion -- ALL religion -- exists as little more than than to placate this fear of blankness and nothingness and non-consciousness once one dies.

like, it can all be boiled down to that.
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Old 02-17-2006, 11:03 AM   #33
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I suppose that becomes mutually exclusive, proclaiming a message of one life, nothing exceptional about you, nothing much you can do just doesn't require any leap of faith - in the absence of faith how can you create a religion?

Put another way, if you can't get people to suspend logic - how can you direct them?
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Old 02-17-2006, 11:05 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer

if we understand from first principles how conciousness works and can explain it without the supernatural then what sense it there to be both a metaphysical soul made up of an impossible to detect form and a functional mind made of energy and energy condensate.
It's one thing to explain the principles of consciousness, that will never prove death as the absolute end unless and until you can revive someone from brain death using those principles.
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Old 02-17-2006, 11:23 AM   #35
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There is absolutely no reason to think that there is conciousness beyond death: the activity that goes on in our minds is conditional upon the physical brain. No activity, no conciousness.
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Old 02-17-2006, 11:33 AM   #36
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A couple billion people (a conservative estimate) think differently.
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Old 02-17-2006, 11:35 AM   #37
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Oh I don't think that thought factors into it very much, the most intelligent person can rationalise the absurd if they believe in it.

The old light at the end of the tunnel NDE correlates very well with those of pilots undergoing a G-LOC.
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Old 02-17-2006, 11:46 AM   #38
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
A couple billion people (a conservative estimate) think differently.


and i'm fully sympathetic. nothingness after physical death is the most terrifying thing i can think of.

it goes so against how we are hardwired, it's no surprise to me that most people believe in the continuation of life after death. i certainly want to, but i'm also trying to be as intellectually honest as well.

also, i don't know that it matters. if you're dying, and your brain is shutting down, and your a person of great faith, it seems to make sense that you'd feel peace and love and that tunnel of light and see your relatives and God and Jesus and Mohammad and whoever ... and, really, even if this is just your brain dying, does it really matter? for once you are dead, that's it, and even if religion only makes the physical process of dying that much easier to bear, so what? perhaps you are reunited with God (albeit completely on fabricated human terms) and then once you're dead, that's it, but who cares? you're dead.
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Old 02-17-2006, 05:33 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
nothingness after physical death is the most terrifying thing i can think of.
Why? I have never felt this way. Fear is all about contingency and embodiment and being bound up in the particularities of time and space. And not to sound like a broken record (though I probably do), but Christianity and Islam are more the exception than the rule in the nature and extent of the emphasis they place on the afterlife. Yes, most Jews do have vague ideas that *perhaps* there might be some "new covenant" after death, most Hindus have vague thoughts now and then about how they might be reincarnated, and both Hindus and Buddhists aspire to moksa/nirvana, freedom (perhaps even while still embodied) from attachment to urges and fears and neediness and misgivings. Taoism and Shintoism (I would hesitate to call Confucianism a religion)--like the former three really--are above all about how to live and what to strive for in the here and now (even while including traditions of ancestor worship, placating of evils, etc.). Many animist religions are similarly world-focused. You don't have to be focused on the possibility of an afterlife to seek to find what is holy (wholly?) and precious beyond all contingencies right here. I loved studying Hindu metaphysics and epistemology in particular because it reminded me so much of Kabbalah and the idea of "God in search of man", the conviction that a guiding intelligence nonetheless depends on creation and manifestation to fully realize itself, to break apart and then recover the fragments.

It's not all about fear of insignificance, that's for sure. I am both very significant and yet totally insignificant, and am comfortable with that contradiction--most of the time anyway. And the existentialist outlook which A_W touched on earlier is very much a spiritual statement, as far as I'm concerned--though having read Sartre and Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, all of whom I love, I don't find their solutions to the dilemma adequate, and in fact neither did they.

I still think you and others were indulging in some projection and contradiction of your own stated purposes in how you approached this thread from the outset. *Maybe* I'm just being defensive--I do get tired of being lumped by association into the brainwashed-moral-and-intellectual-invalid view of religion by folks who clearly aren't any more systematic or disciplined in their own thought than myself, and sometimes seem to be driven by an attack-the-looming-social-threat clarion call that has little or nothing to do with the actual individual(s) they're addressing. If the identity of the person posing the question was revealing, it was also revealing how the response immediately reduced that to the only significant thing about the question. That was a broadside, not a discussion--there are better ways to draw out tensions and explore contradictions than that.
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Old 02-17-2006, 05:40 PM   #40
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I've often put it this way. I don't trust science to explain the meaning of life anymore than I trust religion to do so. The fact that we exist at all makes it impossible for me to be an atheist. Granted, I will look to science to try and uncover and explain the process of the origin of life and the origin of the universe, but it will never be able to explain why that initial "spark" originated in the first place.

As for religion, I don't have a problem with theism, in general. I just don't find myself at home with ANY of the world's religions. All these traditions and rituals are just getting downright ridiculous after a while, and as time continues to move forward, religion will continue to look increasingly irrelevant.

I mainly blame this with Christianity and the canonization of scriptures about 1700 years ago. A similar event happened with "Humanist Latin" around the 15th century, and while scholars had the best of intentions to "purify" Latin, it only served to hasten its present-state as a dead language. Likewise, at a global-scale, Christianity is currently most alive in places like South America and Africa, where (not-so-coincidentally) Christianity is highly syncretized with ancient tribal religious customs and even deities. But in the Western world, where syncretization is highly frowned upon, Christianity has increasingly become irrelevant to anyone who doesn't fit a certain approved personality or lifestyle.

I've sometimes thought of "creating a religion" as an academic exercise. I've always wondered what we could come up with today if religion never existed prior to the present.

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Old 02-17-2006, 05:52 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

Why?



i'm simply not as peace with it as you are. i wish i were, but i'm not. i find the idea of nothingness, which i suppose we'd not be aware of, but then we can get all "awareness of non-awareness" and i suppose, because i can't not imagine genuine non-awareness, that i imagine death being like a dark sleep that you cannot wake up from and that seems prison-like to me.

i think i'd need to be stoned to take this much furhter, but both the physical process of dying and the state of death (a non-state?) are terrifying, probably because we can only attempt to understand them in human terms, when they do not fit into such categories, and thus non-consciousness seems like a trap, like being buried alive, i suppose. but only when thought of in those terms, so i suppose the lesson is, don't think?






Quote:
*Maybe* I'm just being defensive--I do get tired of being lumped by association into the brainwashed-moral-and-intellectual-invalid view of religion by folks who clearly aren't any more systematic or disciplined in their own thought than myself, and sometimes seem to be driven by an attack-the-looming-social-threat clarion call that has little or nothing to do with the actual individual(s) they're addressing. If the identity of the person posing the question was revealing, it was also revealing how the response immediately reduced that to the only significant thing about the question. That was a broadside, not a discussion--there are better ways to draw out tensions and explore contradictions than that.

i take your point, but i also get driven insane by maxims and ultimatums derived from scripture that are presented as fact, when they are faith -- there seems to be a lack of self-awareness and humility on the part of *many* persons of faith both on this board as well as out in the world, and the saying that, "well i am humble because i am a sinner" is so laughable in it's attempt at humbleness because it is anything but humble, it is a statement made from a perceived standpoint of privilege -- that i know something that you don't, and lo and behold, this knowledge humbles me and who am i but nothing in the face of God, and it's like that's still a statement of such arrogance masqueraded around as if it's faith. it's like saying that you're humble means that you're not humble.

i agree that the issue presented wasn't explored, but often, and i think this applies to many active posters including myslef, the perception is that the poster isn't posting because of the issue itself, but because the issue itself is part of a piece of a larger, ongoing philosophy, and there's a tendency (which i do, and others do to me, and i'm find with that) to skip over the issue (which is not the "issue") and into the contested philosophy and worldview.

and my point about the Mormans still stands.
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Old 02-17-2006, 06:04 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
I've sometimes thought of "creating a religion" as an academic exercise.


i suppose this is what i'm really getting at.

religion is a thought system with it's own rules and it's own bottom line. no, that's not ALL it is, but to pretend that your particular religion is somehow exempt drives me crazy.
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Old 02-17-2006, 06:07 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
i take your point, but i also get driven insane by maxims and ultimatums derived from scripture that are presented as fact, when they are faith -- there seems to be a lack of self-awareness and humility on the part of *many* persons of faith both on this board as well as out in the world, and the saying that, "well i am humble because i am a sinner" is so laughable in it's attempt at humbleness because it is anything but humble, it is a statement made from a perceived standpoint of privilege -- that i know something that you don't, and lo and behold, this knowledge humbles me and who am i but nothing in the face of God, and it's like that's still a statement of such arrogance masqueraded around as if it's faith. it's like saying that you're humble means that you're not humble.
If you reject a person’s offer of humility, and paint them as having a “strong faith” (because you sense an attack on another (weaker? I’m not sure by your description of “strong”) religion, are you not just setting them up so you can shoot them down? I’m not sure what the long-term goal is here.

Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
i agree that the issue presented wasn't explored, but often, and i think this applies to many active posters including myslef, the perception is that the poster isn't posting because of the issue itself, but because the issue itself is part of a piece of a larger, ongoing philosophy, and there's a tendency (which i do, and others do to me, and i'm find with that) to skip over the issue (which is not the "issue") and into the contested philosophy and worldview.

and my point about the Mormans still stands.
As for this thread, would it be easier to question the subject instead of assuming an intent, and then attacking the assumption?

I’ve read your statement regarding Mormans and Scientologists. I’m not sure if one can convey empathy when the “defense” of one side is really just an attack on another.
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Old 02-17-2006, 06:09 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
I've sometimes thought of "creating a religion" as an academic exercise. I've always wondered what we could come up with today if religion never existed prior to the present.
I would be interested to see what you would create.
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Old 02-17-2006, 06:18 PM   #45
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Originally posted by nbcrusader


If you reject a person’s offer of humility, and paint them as having a “strong faith” (because you sense an attack on another (weaker? I’m not sure by your description of “strong”) religion, are you not just setting them up so you can shoot them down? I’m not sure what the long-term goal is here.



because the humility is couched in the terms of the religion itself ("i am but a child of God"), it is not about being humble about the religion ("i am a human who chooses to practice a certain religion"). is that a clear distinction?

please do know, however, that none of this is directed only at you, there are *many* people on here and in the world at large that i feel fall into this line of thinking. and, ultimately, i am hoping to provoke discussion with people who's thoughts and opinions i value.


Quote:
As for this thread, would it be easier to question the subject instead of assuming an intent, and then attacking the assumption?

I’ve read your statement regarding Mormans and Scientologists. I’m not sure if one can convey empathy when the “defense” of one side is really just an attack on another.

you've been pretty upfront with attacks on Scientology -- but, that aside, my defense of Mormonism isn't an attack on another "side" but trying to 1) acknowledge Mormons as people, and 2) acknowledge Mormonism as another religion and thus subject to the rules that govern all religions, and to present one religion as better and truer than another ignores what Melon pointed out -- that religions are systems and can be understood (and perhaps even feeling can be engineered) in an academic context.
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