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46 Responses

  1. Adam Julians says:

    I love the friendliness in the cartoon.

    Yes, our theology is organic. Is hell ( or heaven) something for the future or are both ever present. Does scripture not talk of heaven being in your midst?

    Perhaps it is or can be there already and the thing is to make the most of it while battling against violent attacks and temptations.

  2. Sabio Lantz says:

    With human dichotomous thinking habits (black-and-white), maybe to eradicate Hell, we need to also extirpate Heaven — but then there would be no place for that threesom to convort together, yet alone a place for all our deceased loved ones to wait for us.

    Didn’t some forms of early (and even present-day) Judaism do just fine without a real Heaven-or-Hell story? Abrahamic religion folks can’t imagine religion without the Heaven-Hell option, but lots of other faiths had no trouble with that.

  3. Well… the implicit point of this cartoon is that we create the theologies that create the realities, not the other way around. So eventually God there is going to have to admit that even his existence is in jeopardy.

  4. Sabio Lantz says:

    Well said.
    We create theologies that are populated by our fantasies, it is not reality that feeds theologies.
    God, Heaven, and Hell are in jeopardy — well, only for those who see this.

  5. Yes, by “realities” I mean the imagined worlds we live within. I don’t mean “Reality” with a capital “R”.

  6. Sabio Lantz says:

    Huh, David?

    So you wrote:
    (a) “we create theologies that creates the realities” [our imagined worlds]
    (b) “no the other way around” ??? [which would be “Our imagined worlds create our theologies” <– which I say is true]

    Could you try to clarify? or not

  7. In other words, our world is a projection of our thoughts.

  8. Sabio Lantz says:

    The shorter the aphorism, the greater the vacuity, but better marketability.

    My point, simply put:
    There is not all-powerful deity who treats favorably those who believe in him/her.
    So any theology about such an imagined critter is obviously also pure fiction.
    Great liberal theologians just create lots and lots of words to hide that simplicity and then sneak in their own favorite morality.

  9. You make it sound like these liberal theologians do this intentionally. You’re not a conspiracy theorist too, are you Sabio?

  10. Sabio Lantz says:

    Every theologian, liberal or otherwise, is different, of course.

    As you well know, and there are groups to support these sort of folks, professional god salesmen have a hard time making a living outside of selling religion — especially after huge investments of seminaries, greek , hebrew and all that sort of thing. So they are often scared about what to do when they start seeing through the smoke of the theologies of others.

    These folks, to keep hidden, often do intentionally hide their raw beliefs and try to make themselves palpable as long as they can to their customers.

    Theologians, when they wake up to the game at hand, still are probably nice people who want to improve the world, so they try to do it through the stories they know their readers buy into. Now, how much is intentional and how much unconscious, that depends on the individual, of course.

    Why, you are a conspiritist about your comments who uses “conspiracy theorist” as an argument tool, are you?

    Tell me, have you seen any the above happen to you over the years — I have. More conscious, more risk taking, more authentic. Or is it just my conspiracy mind who sees this?

  11. Adam Julians says:

    “our world is a projection of our thoughts…God there is going to have to admit that even his existence is in jeopardy.” Yes, if the assumption that our world is a projection of our thoughts. But what if it isn’t, what if our thoughts are imagery illusion? What then?

    “There is not all-powerful deity.” So is God dead then?

  12. Ah I see where you’re coming from. Yes, I agree. I thought you meant hiding as in ulterior motives. But yes, I do agree many theologians and pastors hide their true thoughts for fear of the ramifications.

  13. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ David: ah, thanx.

    @ Adam: are you addressing two different people in your comment?

  14. Adam Julians says:

    Not particularly addressing any particular person or people but engaging with the ideas.

    Happy to read any responses 🙂

  15. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ Adam: it is much easier if you direct questions – so I will let David answer if he wishes.

  16. Adam Julians says:

    Easier for you if I ask direct questions.

    Ok in that case, Sabio, is God dead?

  17. Sabio Lantz says:

    Really, Adam?

    Are you after understanding me, arguing, preaching, or what?

    Have you read my blog at all?

    Here’s an idea, do your very best to anticipate what my response to that would be.

    Hint to help you play my part well: When I talk to someone in person (or someone I know well) I try to understand the reason for questions and what would be useful in light of that person’s background, intents and openness. Real useful dialogue is complicated — scripts, however, are a dime a dozen.

    So help me out. What are you after?

  18. Adam Julians says:

    It really is quite simple Sabio – it was a question. You said you would find it easier for you if I directed questions, and so I directed a question for your ease.

    But if you don’t want to answer, that’s OK.

  19. Adam Julians says:

    I understand that you find “half-assed” Christians more “tolerable”, and that from previous conversations here you have determined David to be a “cultural Christian” as opposed to a “biblical Christian” and him being an “honourary Christian” and an “honourary atheist” which he he fine with, for now.

    I have an honours in theology and a masters in biblical interpretation. Prior to that, I had an epiphany once where the word “choice” came into my head. Looking back at that time I guess some would have labelled me “agnostic”. I was also frustrated, with whatever I had in life, always wanting more. Like Mick Jagger I could get no satisfaction. So I went to church and heard a sermon that was powerful for me. I could have ignored it and passed it off as a passing moment but I looked into it more. After a period of time of reflection I decided to make a commitment to follow Jesus. I have found peace where before there was frustration.

    Church experience has been mixed. I currently attend a presbyterian church and that peace is experienced whenever I go there. I also attend Christian meditation and enjoy the community there.

    So, my guess would be from our previous conversation, my having read your blog (which you know) and your comments here that you would place me in the category of being a “biblical Christian”. As you find the “half assed” Christian “more tolerable” my guess would be that you would find me “less tolerable”.

    However you have seen my comedy where I share a biblical narrative and have enjoyed it. So I wouldn’t necessarily classify you as an less tolerable fundamental atheist.

    However, you rhetoric about me not being “special” and use of words like “delusions” to describe those beliefs that are not one’s you hold could be outcomes of what you perceive to be less tolerable in others.

    Does that help you with playing your “part well”?

  20. Sabio Lantz says:

    Thanks for sharing, Adam.
    I really think you should put up a blog and include some of this.
    It would not need to be a daily or weekly blog, just a few pages as you are inspired.

    In light of your comment, and your question of “Is God dead?”:

    Well, your god certainly is not dead.

    I have friends and acquaintances equally moved by heavenly Bodhisattvas, Krishna and Allah — all with very different models of the spiritual realms, their deities powers, the obligation of their believers and such. Their god is not dead either – obviously.

    I have another friend whose was very religious, when her father died a miserable death — a father who she describes and perfect and wonderful and not “deserving” such suffering. She concluded that “God is horrible” and sometimes to “God does not exist”. For her heart’s sake, I wish she’d drop the “God is horrible” mantra and stick with “God does not exist” — for indeed, her god does not exist. He is not dead, he never existed.

    So obviously I am using “dead” and “exist” in different ways, depending on context. But that should answer your question.

    One can not answer the question of “Does X exist” or certainly “Is X dead” without clearly defining (operationally) “X”. But if we don’t define it, sure, we can do the old California (post-modernist) answer of “If it works for you, it exists”.

  21. Adam Julians says:

    Sabio,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and well articulated response.

    First a question – you described the trinity as a “holy threesome”. Did you get that term from my punchline about perichoisis?

    What I hear you articulate is “my” God (I use uppercase G for indication of personhood not an “it”) is certainly not dead that you wish your friend would from the “God is horrible” and go with “God does not exist” with the claim you wish to make that he/she/it doesn’t and never has concluding if it works for you “it” exists.

    So if it works for you God exists and if it doesn’t God doesn’t and never has would be your position with the question God is dead only relevant if transitioning from the former to the latter from an overview of differing contexts.

    Basically it being about you and what works for you.

    I would engage with that by saying either God exists or doesn’t. If he doesn’t exist then I am mistaken to have made the choice I have shared. If he does exist then God is central to the peace I experience that replaced the frustration with always wanting more and not getting satisfaction before.

    What I would also say about the “what works for you” approach you advocate is another way of putting that, I would suggest, would be us all being mini “gods” and/or forming allegiance to mini “gods” with no universal consensus of the existence or nonexistence of an all powerful benevolent God as in the God of the bible.

    The term “God is dead” is one that I understand fundamental atheists to use for the argument of the non-existence of God. I find it an interesting discovery to find the Neitzche did not use the term in that meaning. For example in The Gay Science (Section 125, The Madman) he writes “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?.. Must we ourselves not become gods?”

    Rather than being a declaration of the non-existence of God, it is his statement that rejection of God would lead to an era of nihilism and plunge the world into chaos without the higher moral authority of God to defer to, to provide order and meaning.

    Towards the end of his life he predicted something worse than what had gone before as a consequence of his conclusion about God. Shortly after his death there was WWI.

    War is hell. I speak from experience of being involved in a war. So the idea of there being an experiential hell (if not a literal hell) is one that is not foreign to me. And this is not “my” hell or someone else’s but hell for all humanity when it it a world at war.

    So all of this is real.

    The words of the Burt Baccharach song “Alfie” come to my mind.

    Are we meant to take more than we give, or are we meant to be kind? And if only fools are kind, Alfie, then I guess it’s wise to be cruel. And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie, what will you lend on an old golden rule?
    As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie, I know there’s something much more something even non-believers can believe in. I believe in love, Alfie. Without true love we just exist, Alfie. Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie.

    Maybe we can imagine no hell below us, and above us only sky where the world will life as one in peace.

    I don’t mind calling that heaven with God being the moral authority.

  22. Sabio Lantz says:

    Right, so if you really want my opinion about if an all-powerful benevolent god exists, I think the evidence is clearly in — certainly not. An all-powerful evil god may exist — I can’t argue against that.

    I don’t care about Neitzche, sorry.

    But will all morality evaporate if people stop believing in some sort of god(s), we have clear evidence for that too — no.

    Simple stuff, really.
    Theology students love to make it all so complex — easier to hide the slight of hand tricks.

  23. purvez says:

    WOW!! I’m late to this discussion but I want to register my heart felt approval of it. I have today learnt a LOT about both the existence and NOT of god as understood by both sides of the coin.

    MANY MANY THANKS for that.

  24. Adam Julians says:

    I’ve enjoyed the discussion too purvez.

    I agree no evidence that we will “moral evaporate ” Without God. But then no evidence either that it wouldn’t be he’ll on earth if that were to happen.

    So God may exist and God may not.

    But without God, what are morals decided upon? Bertrand Russell is famously quoted as saying “Dacau is wrong is not a fact”.

    If is a matter of what seems right or wrong and differing views on that then what determines morals, common consensus? Or are there any such things as morals and is it a free for all as far as that is concerned?

  25. Adam Julians says:

    Sorry bit tired. Didn’t read your last comment fully Sabio.

    So you posit that an evil God that is all powerful may exist. You also think there is evidence that the all powerful benevolent God does not with evidence.

    Something I hear often from fundamental atheists is a request for evidence of the existence of God. I have never known that to be given to their satisfaction.

    I wonder if the “evidence ” you claim exists for the non-existance of God is objective an indefatigably true. The burden of proof of course is on the one making the claim.

  26. Adam Julians says:

    Sabio,

    I would be interested if you could explain why you have made two assertions in this thread that may seem to contradict each other to some.

    Namely :

    1. That “your god certainly does exist ” (Jesus and therefore God of the Bible) and

    2. “the evidence is clearly in” of the non-existance of an all powerful and benevolent “god “.

    Thanks.

  27. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ Adam
    Sorry, man, you are not understand what I am say, both on the moral issue and on what you see as an apparent contradiction.
    My web site has plenty of stuff for you to understand my positions on things if you wish.
    The issue of the need for god belief in morality is a topic well covered by many authors.
    The issue of the existence of many different sorts of gods are covered by many authors.
    I don’t care to replicate them all on this thread.
    You don’t read my comment carefully and are on an agenda to tell us about things, so I don’t think the dialogue is going to be productive. Well, that and time to type you everything that I (and others) have written elsewhere.

  28. Adam Julians says:

    Ah so you are going down the “you don’t understand ” path.

    Ok, well thanks for at least not playing the “deluded ” or “you’re not special” cards.

    Been all through the times when Bernardo has pointed elsewhere.

    No offence but I doubt I could read any argument on your site about “moral issue” or “apparent contradiction ” that I haven’t read elsewhere and I am done with silly conversations that are about point scoring between atheism and Christianity.

    The reality is without an authority to defer to, moral subjectivity exists. What works for me, what works for you etc. However when that comes to God of the Bible he either exists, or he doesn’t or you don’t know. It is a silly argument to say he/she/it exists for you if it works for you an not if it doesn’t.

    God either exists or doesn’t exist. I have misunderstood and got it wrong about what choice I have made about that. A symptom of a delusion or mental illness. Or I have alliigned myself with what is true and what is good news for everyone.

    When it comes to morals I am glad there is the possibility of hope for folks in the word who have endured unspeakable suffering at the hands of others immoral conduct in a choice to believe in justice either now or eternally in some form at the hands of an all powerful benevolent God.

    It would be cruel to take away that hope from anyone or make that out to be a symptom of a mental illness.

  29. Gary says:

    Moral subjectivity exists whether one believes in God or not.

  30. Adam Julians says:

    Agreed Gary, but when one follows Jesus there is a deference to the authority of God for the source of what is moral. When humans are understood as being created in the image of God it follows that treating others with dignity is not only the right thing to do but a responsibility to carry out.

    There is no such obligation within fundamental atheism. Therefore it is common mock with contempt anyone with a belief, say, in the doctrine of transubstantiation as deluded / having symptoms of a mental illness. With no God to be accountable of or to face judgement for one’s choice to be that way. Again, taking a superiour air to someone and mocking them as if having a mental illness for seeing things differently, even if someone is mentally ill is cruel.

    Anyone that does that is a bully, and since the only thing bullies understand is strength and behind every bully is a coward, it is appropriate to be strong and push back when that happens.

  31. Sabio Lantz says:

    Divine Command Theory and all its pitfalls:
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/voluntarism-theological/
    For those who are not familiar.

    I’m done on this thread. Adam needs too much attention for me.

  32. I completely disagree with you Adam. I agree with Gary that belief in the existence of God, either in reality or in the mind, makes no difference on individual morality.

  33. Adam Julians says:

    As mentioned David, I agree with Gary that moral subjectivity exists with a belief in God.

    What you are talking about in practice with belief making no difference to individual morality is your opinion and may or may not be true.

    However an authentic following of Jesus that is having an alive faith ( not one that is without putting faith into action and therefore dead) comes with the responsibility to treat all with dignity for reasons given.

    Now, Jesus doesn’t force that responsibility, so there is always free will but choosing not to live like that is believing yes but not authentic following. Is Jesus not recorded as saying to someone that mentioned that they believe in God ” good for you, so do demons “.

    So I concede belief in God won’t always follow with treating all with dignity, but authentic following of Jesus will.

    There is no responsibility within fundamental atheism for that or accountability to any “higher power” for not treating people with dignity.

  34. Adam Julians says:

    Sabio, you are setting up a straw man with personal comments about my “you don’t understand” “needs too much attention ” don’t read my comment carefully ” “are on an agenda to tell us things ” to knock down.

    This does not distract from issues of moral subjectivity or the (non)existence of God.

    I have shared of my spiritual journey with you at your request to make things easy for you for you to “play your part well”. This you have done, refraining on this occasion from saying I am not “special ” or that I am “deluded”.

    Things seemed to go well until I shared views consistent with my journey and quoted from Neitzch in a way that doesn’t resonate with the views you hold to.

    I find you “playing your part” on this occasion to be disrespectful to my spiritual journey and carrying an air of superiority. This surprises me having read your blog and discovering the effect on your child for disrespect shown to them in theirs and the effect it had on them.

    Nevertheless I respect and support your freedom of speech, even if that results in upset or offence for me at any time.

  35. But “authentic following of Jesus” is also very subjective.

  36. Adam Julians says:

    To a degree but always with the principal of God as benevolent all powerful perfectly loving and of justice who shows himself to be in service of humanity in Jesus and with a Spirit of strength, love and sound mind.

    So not mental illness lol.

    So of course there will be different “subjective” interpretations of what that specifically entails at any point in time to wrestle with. Disagreement isn’t always bad but never disagreeing is.

    I find it interesting that the atheist Neitzch should have concluded what he had. I think his point is worth considering and engaging with hence the question.

    If a theology or ideology gets defensive when challenged or ceases to challenge other ideologies or theologies, it ceases to be valid.

  37. Gary says:

    The statement ” but always with the principal of God as benevolent all powerful perfectly loving and of justice who shows himself to be in service of humanity in Jesus and with a Spirit of strength, love and sound mind” is an extremely subjective statement itself.

    I reject the notion that fear of punishment or the hope for reward are the only sources of moral behavior. The belief that the absence of God results in the lack of a moral foundation is not one I accept. Einstein elaborated on this;

    “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death.”

    — Albert Einstein, “Religion and Science,” New York Times Magazine, 1930

    It may be true that what a person’s ethical behavior “should” be based on (entirely subjective of course) and what they often times ARE based on can be two very different things. But that is true with people of ALL belief systems.

  38. Adam Julians says:

    Can you explain why you take what you quote as being subjective an give support for your conclusion Gary. It would give strength to what you posit.

    I can understand it being subjective if the notion of whether God exists or not is subjective. However as I understand you to be a believer, it surprises me to read you make that assertion.

    I find you conclusion of rejecting Neitzch and welcoming Einstein interesting with “sympathy, education, social ties and needs” being what he claims should determine a man’s ethical approach.

    Who then determines what these are? And with all having free will, what hope exists that needs for all we be equally considered and met an not that the rich and powerful get theirs met and the poor and vulnerable go without?

  39. Adam Julians says:

    From the comments, I would conclude that anyone in their spiritual journey that has chosen to believe in God as in God of the bible has not “misunderstood” or is suffering from a “delusion” or mental illness (at least not any more than anyone who has chosen to have the view on weighing up the “evidence” that such “god” does not exist).

    I would also conclude that where there is what works for you there are not moral absolutes only moral subjectivity. Where there are no moral absolutes then Betrand Russell’s statement “Dacau is wrong is not a fact” has credibility and cannot be contested. Where there is moral absolute his statement can be deconstructed and reconstructed to Dacau being wrong is a fact and and assertion of such having credibility.

    I think abuse is wrong. I think attributing difficulties that Germans faced in the early 20th century being attributed to the “Jewish problem” was scapegoating and I think scapegoating is wrong. I think the concentration camps and holocaust was wrong and I think calling it “the final solution to the Jewish problem” was wrong.

    I think holding both statements “your god certainly exists” (when such is the God of the bible) and “there is clear evidence of the non-existence of an all powerful benevolent god” to be true is silly and cognitively dissonant.

    I think to build a straw man to knock down by making out “the other” is deluded when faced with cognitive dissonance is a weak way of dealing with such dissonance and makes for a weak argument. I think it is a trick of religious fundamentalists to do so, if the religion is atheism to use words like “deluded” and if the religion is Christianity to use the term “sinner”.

    Fundamentalists don’t seem to want to budge, but be entranced in their positions in a war of words and don’t care who gets wounded in the crossfire.

  40. Gary says:

    Adam I am confused by your comments. You seem to interpret all I say based upon your very “subjective” opinion of who I am and what I believe. If there is one thing you SHOULD (in my subjective opinion 🙂 ) have learned about me it is that my beliefs are NOT governed by any labels you or anyone else seek to place upon me.

    I have no idea what you mean about my ” rejecting Neitzch and welcoming Einstein”. I have made ZERO references to Neitzch whatsoever. Neither have I made any references to Friedrich Nietzsche who I assume you are referring to. And the fact that you conclude it is somehow odd for me to quote Einstein in a post reveals how unprepared you are to engage in a discussion about subjectivity.

  41. Adam Julians says:

    Wow, there was a lot in that Gary.

    I’ve made quite a lot of posts here and David has indulged me, so I guess I will focus on one or two things you mention and put the rest down to the “Gary way ” or what Sabio has called “indomitable vitriol “.

    I mentioned your welcoming of Einstein interesting. You have taken that to mean that I am communicating a view that it is “somehow odd” for you to quote Einstein.

    Why?

  42. Gary says:

    So completely ignore that your comments to me were inaccurate. Ignore the discussion of subjectivity. Make up some bullshit like “Gary way” and indomitable vitriol”. Way to avoid the point altogether. LOL Is this your means of avoiding actual discussion?

  43. Adam Julians says:

    Thank you Gary for at least not saying ” go fuck yourself ” on this occasion but rather being more polite about it whilst carrying the same sentiment.

    Just so you know when I wrote “interesting ” above I genuinely was interested in having a talk with you, there was no intention of malice or mischief or scoring points against you.

    However I guess this is where I shall leave things. At least I was able to give you a laugh with “Gary Way” on a previous occasion and I hope for similar in the future.

    Feeling a bit like Julie Andrews in “The Sound Of Music” at the moment in “not being an asset ” in the song ” How do you solve a problem like maria” with one nun saying on her behalf “she makes me laugh”

  44. Gary says:

    Would you prefer a go fuck yourself? Since you are deliberately dodging every statement and insisting on spilling your passive aggressive bullshit in order to try to be insulting…that may become the only option left.

    Or perhaps you might try engaging me…that same way I did with you in this thread. Own your mistakes, answer the comments, you know like real people do.

  45. Adam Julians says:

    Lol Gary now people can see, I suspect, why Sabio has talked of how you come across as being “indomitable vitriol “.

    Anyway, this is getting school playgroundish. So I will leave it there. If things go according to how they have before you will have the last word. So go ahead, fill your boots!

  46. Gary says:

    All this BS to avoid admitting you made a simple mistake about my comments? What a prideful man you must be indeed. I really don’t care about your “last word” bit either. You’re not taking some sort of high ground here Adam, in spite of the obvious attempt to spin it that way. You were called on your misquote of me and it was further pointed out that your declarations about the nature of God were of course very subjective. Either you pretended not to understand my comment or you truly were that simple minded…I’m not sure which at this point. Apparently being caught in a mistake and having your conclusions challenged brought any semblance of actual dialogue on your part to an abrupt end. I’m not kidding…go back and read the thread. That’s when you began to foam at the mouth and drool incessantly. LOL Apparently you are not good at engaging beyond a point of actual debate.

    Uhm…ok.

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