Is Christianity redeemable?

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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby mitchellmckain » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:00 am

sayak wrote:Southern Baptist Convention has been historically associated with regressive social politics (defense of slavery and opposing civil rights movements) and continue to vehemently oppose marriage equality, reproductive rights, do not believe that women have equality with man in marriage, do not allow women as church leaders and accept young earth creationism, thereby rejecting cosmology, geology and most of biological sciences and a lot of physics. Given these facts, it is my sincere opinion that the Southern Baptist convention is force of harm to the future of humanity on earth.


Indeed, if there is one thing that makes a group irredeemable it is the inability to learn. When they routinely seek to justify ignoring the objective evidence, then it difficult to see how they can ever learn anything. Add to this a refusal to employ any kind of rational morality for mature adults and I cannot see how such a religion do anything but harm to people and the world.
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby sayak » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:05 am

mitchellmckain wrote:
sayak wrote:I am interested in knowing why a personal (in some sense) creator than an impersonal structure need to be the ground of existence. Of course my own intuitions drive me to a "ground structure" than a "ground being" view of existence. I base it on my observations that a "person" seem to be a confluence of a lot of mental, psychological and causal structure overlaid over a basic biological framework of instincts and therefore does not appear a fundamental base for reality. I think we could have a thread on this later as that is the divergence point between me and you. My conversation with theistic friends and looking at some of more advanced debates seem to lead to me to believe that once all the absurdities of theistic literalism and atheistic jingoism is laid aside, that's where the fork really lies.

Need in what sense?

If in the sense of what can be objectively established, then I don't believe in any such need.

If in the sense of why a personal creator would be needed for the universe to exist, then I am not sure the question even make sense.

If in the pragmatic sense of what is best to believe for the good of mankind, then I would say that the need is for a diversity of thought on the matter. Certainly many like me find the non-theist view of origin to be too sterile for living our lives to the fullest. But we can acknowledge that this is not universal experience.

In general I would say that we can only look back and judge which agrees best with our experience of reality. I have explained the reasons for my conclusion.


I too have explained briefly the reasons I prefer a ground structure. Now, given that these are to some extent subjective preferences, one could still have discussion about why I prefer one and you another. It gives a window on how my thought process differs from yours. For example you said (roughly) that mathematical or physical models cannot fully explain a person. At the very core, quantum mechanics makes any phenomenon inherently probabilistic. Assuming that a basic structure is a sort of probabilistic potential surface on which different reality branches are weaved in, do you consider that a human person cannot be mapped on one such surface? There is an aspect of being a person that such a description will not be able to catch despite taking into account QM, Emergence, Information Theory etc. at each level of organization?
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby tirtlegrrl » Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:50 am

sayak wrote:I am interested in knowing why a personal (in some sense) creator than an impersonal structure need to be the ground of existence. Of course my own intuitions drive me to a "ground structure" than a "ground being" view of existence. I base it on my observations that a "person" seem to be a confluence of a lot of mental, psychological and causal structure overlaid over a basic biological framework of instincts and therefore does not appear a fundamental base for reality. I think we could have a thread on this later as that is the divergence point between me and you. My conversation with theistic friends and looking at some of more advanced debates seem to lead to me to believe that once all the absurdities of theistic literalism and atheistic jingoism is laid aside, that's where the fork really lies.


YES YES YES can you make that thread? Because this is exactly what I want to know. Is the ground of all being personal or not? In considering what I know of persons it seems to me that personhood is an emergent phenomenon and not an essential/non-contingent one. (I'm using words that are slightly too big for me, so I beg your indulgence and if I say something really dumb please correct me.) But I understand that individuals might choose to believe that it's personal or have what they consider a direct experience of a personal god.

But here's where it gets weird for me. If the impersonal gives rise to the personal--if you have the Big Bang and eventually you get human beings--if they're bound up together in the same existential fabric, then doesn't that suggest that personhood/non-personhood are not really separate things at all--same with life-nonlife? That the question of whether something is personal is something of a false question? If personhood isn't an essence, but rather a series of ripples in spacetime, then nothing is truly personal, including human beings. If your houseplant doesn't have personhood than neither do you. But at the same time human beings clearly behave in a way we call "personal" and in some fashion so do orangutans and kittens and houseplants. So you could say that nothing is personal--or that everything is personal but to varying degrees. Human beings are made of impersonal stuff and yet we experience ourselves and others as personal.

So if the person/non-person question breaks down when applied to our experience of beings in this universe, could a similar objection be raised to the question of whether the transcendent ground of all being is personal or impersonal?

And am I making any sense at all, or am I spouting incoherent gobbledeegook?
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby sayak » Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:43 am

No tirtle, you are making sense...though houseplants are unlikely to be personal :). But my thinking of personhood is similar to yours. I too feel that a person is an emergent phenomenon rather than a basic feature of the fabric of existence. On the other hand "structures" -- like logical relationships, regularities and laws, mathematical structures appear to be far more basic to the reality that is observed. If ground structure is at the root of being, as I and maybe you, surmise then it is far more easier to understand why mathematics and logic are so effective at describing reality. These things, logic/math/causality, are the ways we humans perceive this structure. I need to careful here, as I do not think (like Tegmark) that the universe is mathematical; rather I feel there is a basic structure in reality which can often (but not necessarily always) be modeled using mathematics.

On the question on how consciousness can be related to more basic furniture of the universe,. here is an interesting proposal that has shown promise
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-theory-of-consciousness/?page=1
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby Moonwood the Hare » Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:31 am

sayak wrote:I am interested in knowing why a personal (in some sense) creator than an impersonal structure need to be the ground of existence. Of course my own intuitions drive me to a "ground structure" than a "ground being" view of existence. I base it on my observations that a "person" seem to be a confluence of a lot of mental, psychological and causal structure overlaid over a basic biological framework of instincts and therefore does not appear a fundamental base for reality. I think we could have a thread on this later as that is the divergence point between me and you. My conversation with theistic friends and looking at some of more advanced debates seem to lead to me to believe that once all the absurdities of theistic literalism and atheistic jingoism is laid aside, that's where the fork really lies.

A third option would be a trascendent ground of existence, that is to say something which is so utterly different from the existent that it cannot be perceived in categories derived from existence. This absolute other can be encountered as a person because it assumes that nature in relation to us; but a person is not what it literally is. This is closer to what I think the traditional Christian view was saying than the modern idea of a 'personal' God. It also means that Christianity can see as having more in common with Hindu or even Buddhist ideas about the absolute than some modern Christians think.
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby Chapabel » Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:35 am

sayak wrote:
Chapabel wrote:
sayak wrote:
I was asking for your church provenance. Good, Southern Baptist. Thought as much. You should clarify that your views are from a certain branch of Christianity and does not speak for other branches. And yes, the Southern Baptist Version of Christianity is not redeemable. Sorry.

Ok, please explain what you mean by stating "the Southern Baptist Version of Christianity is not redeemable" and give evidence to support your claim.


Southern Baptist Convention has been historically associated with regressive social politics (defense of slavery and opposing civil rights movements) and continue to vehemently oppose marriage equality, reproductive rights, do not believe that women have equality with man in marriage, do not allow women as church leaders and accept young earth creationism, thereby rejecting cosmology, geology and most of biological sciences and a lot of physics. Given these facts, it is my sincere opinion that the Southern Baptist convention is force of harm to the future of humanity on earth.

The SBC elected Fred Luter as the president of the convention in 2012. He was unanimously reelected the next year as he ran unopposed. Dr. Luter is black. How can you honestly say the SBC participates in "regressive social politics"?

The SBC stands by the Biblical definition of marriage. God's intention for marriage is one man with one woman. What the SBC opposes are unions contrary to the word of God.

The SBC recognizes Biblical doctrines related to order in the home and in the church. God placed man in the leadership role. Jesus demonstrated that while He is equal the the Father (as women are equal to men) He willingly submitted Himself to the Father's will. If Jesus set the example of submission why do you believe it is degrading for women to submit to their husbands?

As far as science goes, I have said, there is harmony between the Bible and science. There are numerous scientists who believe that science supports the Bible.

You are entitled to your opinion concerning the effects of the SBC, but it appears your fears are not founded on the facts.
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby sayak » Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:32 am

Chapabel
The SBC elected Fred Luter as the president of the convention in 2012. He was unanimously reelected the next year as he ran unopposed. Dr. Luter is black. How can you honestly say the SBC participates in "regressive social politics"?


That is why I said
Southern Baptist Convention has been historically associated with regressive social politics (defense of slavery and opposing civil rights movements)


But all that you said are also examples of continuing advocacy and defense of regressive social agendas. SBC's understanding of the Bible is such that it promotes regressive social agendas,
The SBC stands by the Biblical definition of marriage. God's intention for marriage is one man with one woman. What the SBC opposes are unions contrary to the word of God.

Regressive.

The SBC recognizes Biblical doctrines related to order in the home and in the church. God placed man in the leadership role. Jesus demonstrated that while He is equal the the Father (as women are equal to men) He willingly submitted Himself to the Father's will. If Jesus set the example of submission why do you believe it is degrading for women to submit to their husbands?

Regressive

As far as science goes, I have said, there is harmony between the Bible and science. There are numerous scientists who believe that science supports the Bible.
[/quote]
Young Earth Creationism is pseudoscientific at par with astrology, homeopathy and anti-vaxxers. Regressive.

Chapabel, you and me differ in what we consider is progressive and regressive in terms of human society and well being. I will bet a dollar with you that in 40 years time, SBC, lead by a married gay pastor will have to issue another apology about their role in opposing marriage equality. Not worry, they will still be promoting some other regressive policy relevant to those decades.
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby Chapabel » Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:36 am

sayak wrote:
Chapabel, you and me differ in what we consider is progressive and regressive in terms of human society and well being. I will bet a dollar with you that in 40 years time, SBC, lead by a married gay pastor will have to issue another apology about their role in opposing marriage equality. Not worry, they will still be promoting some other regressive policy relevant to those decades.

This will not happen as long as they stand on Biblical principles. However, I will not say it can never happen.
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby sayak » Tue Feb 10, 2015 12:11 pm

Moonwood the Hare wrote:
sayak wrote:I am interested in knowing why a personal (in some sense) creator than an impersonal structure need to be the ground of existence. Of course my own intuitions drive me to a "ground structure" than a "ground being" view of existence. I base it on my observations that a "person" seem to be a confluence of a lot of mental, psychological and causal structure overlaid over a basic biological framework of instincts and therefore does not appear a fundamental base for reality. I think we could have a thread on this later as that is the divergence point between me and you. My conversation with theistic friends and looking at some of more advanced debates seem to lead to me to believe that once all the absurdities of theistic literalism and atheistic jingoism is laid aside, that's where the fork really lies.

A third option would be a trascendent ground of existence, that is to say something which is so utterly different from the existent that it cannot be perceived in categories derived from existence. This absolute other can be encountered as a person because it assumes that nature in relation to us; but a person is not what it literally is. This is closer to what I think the traditional Christian view was saying than the modern idea of a 'personal' God. It also means that Christianity can see as having more in common with Hindu or even Buddhist ideas about the absolute than some modern Christians think.


You are of course correct. However many of the fundamentalist Christians may reply that late Roman and medieval Christianity imported non-Biblical Platonism into theology and they would rather base their understanding based on the Bible alone. Leaving that aside, Madhyamika Buddhism and Indian monism used an eliminative argument to demonstrate that normal categories used to describe the world as we see it are logically incoherent and are therefore merely a set of nominal models that cannot be the "true" picture of the world. Persons were a part of that nominal worldview. Therefore, by inference, they believed that the "ultimate" reality is such that it is transcendent of all categories, personal and impersonal. However the success of the sciences and the uncovering of deep mathematical structures in reality makes me skeptical if the prognosis on our understanding on reality is really so grim. This is the reason why I have shifted from "transcendent" view of ground to an "immanent" view of the ground. My personal view was that its simpler for now to think of reality as one whole self-existant structure-phenomenon mesh whose various aspects we are grasping through senses, logic etc. rather than a two-level thing with the immanent level depending on a transcendent level which we cannot directly grasp.
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby mitchellmckain » Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:14 pm

sayak wrote:For example you said (roughly) that mathematical or physical models cannot fully explain a person.

No I did not say anything of the kind and I do not consider this equivalent to what I said.

sayak wrote: At the very core, quantum mechanics makes any phenomenon inherently probabilistic. Assuming that a basic structure is a sort of probabilistic potential surface on which different reality branches are weaved in, do you consider that a human person cannot be mapped on one such surface?

I don't think we have any objective basis for a mathematical model of such a thing. All any such talk would ever amount to is a pseudo-scientific attempt to make subjective opinions sound like science.

sayak wrote: There is an aspect of being a person that such a description will not be able to catch despite taking into account QM, Emergence, Information Theory etc. at each level of organization?

I wouldn't exclude the possibility that we may one day have a mathematical model of sapient life some day, but I don't think we have that yet. So even in that regard you are delving into pure imagination and speculation.
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby sayak » Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:43 am

Well, MM, your ideas on God and sin and death and what happens after death are speculative too. Are only theists allowed to be speculative? As long as a clear distinction between the speculative, the clearly evidenced, and tentative inferences are made, why is that an issue?
Isn't the question whether christianity reddemable or not also a speculative one?
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby mitchellmckain » Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:25 am

sayak wrote:Well, MM, your ideas on God and sin and death and what happens after death are speculative too. Are only theists allowed to be speculative?

No but just as I would not make my subjective beliefs and speculations a basis for understanding, investigating and judging what you believe then you shouldn't make your subjective beliefs and speculations a basis for understanding, investigating and judging what I believe.

I was treating your questions as addressed to me. If the questions are founded on premises that I do not see as valid then it is quite proper for me to point out that these premises are not founded on things you can reasonably expect me to accept.

I can see that you may have been shifting the discussion from questions for me to suggestions for further discussion. In that case, I ask you to understand that it may take people a little more to shift gears in the middle of a discussion.

sayak wrote: As long as a clear distinction between the speculative, the clearly evidenced, and tentative inferences are made, why is that an issue?

Because it is also the line between what is reasonable for you to believe yourself and what is reasonable to expect others to believe.

sayak wrote:Isn't the question whether christianity reddemable or not also a speculative one?

No it is not. Any judgement on that matter should be founded on standards that can be called objective to some degree. The deciding question as I see it, is whether Christianity can abide by the standards of logical coherence, consistency with the objective evidence, and the ideals of religious freedom and tolerance in a free society.
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby sayak » Wed Feb 11, 2015 10:34 am

Fair enough. I will stick to the topic then. I will bring the topic on metaphysical possibilities of theism and atheism separately in a thread.

On your question, the concern for me is not that its not possible for Christianity to be interpreted to have these values, but the fact that there may be interpretations that are regressive from that perspective. Since the text itself is not unambiguous, its often upto the culture or group to figure out which interpretation is appealing. This was true during the 1st century Judaism as well and has continued to be the problem in all religions.
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby Moonwood the Hare » Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:33 pm

sayak wrote:You are of course correct. However many of the fundamentalist Christians may reply that late Roman and medieval Christianity imported non-Biblical Platonism into theology and they would rather base their understanding based on the Bible alone.

The person who did most to introduce Plato into theology was most likely Augustine. The Greek fathers and sometimes PseudoDyonisius sometimes get blamed for this by evangelicals but I think that is a mistake. Evangelicals do draw on platonism quite a lot with their idea that there are communicable attributes of God that are also parts of the cosmos, essentially the forms but now located within God.
Leaving that aside, Madhyamika Buddhism and Indian monism used an eliminative argument to demonstrate that normal categories used to describe the world as we see it are logically incoherent and are therefore merely a set of nominal models that cannot be the "true" picture of the world. Persons were a part of that nominal worldview. Therefore, by inference, they believed that the "ultimate" reality is such that it is transcendent of all categories, personal and impersonal.

The Christian thinker who comes closest to this is I think Eckhart, and in these models persons cease to exist as Eckhart puts it 'when I was in God then I was not'. From my understanding God is a person for us and we are persons in relation to him but in himself asside from creation he is transcategorical.
However the success of the sciences and the uncovering of deep mathematical structures in reality makes me skeptical if the prognosis on our understanding on reality is really so grim. This is the reason why I have shifted from "transcendent" view of ground to an "immanent" view of the ground. My personal view was that its simpler for now to think of reality as one whole self-existant structure-phenomenon mesh whose various aspects we are grasping through senses, logic etc. rather than a two-level thing with the immanent level depending on a transcendent level which we cannot directly grasp.

What has tended to hapen with this kind of view is that one aspect of the immanent is seen as taking priority. So there are theories that everything reduces to logic, or that maths is the ultimate reality or matter. Sometimes there is a dualism with two of these aspects being given priority. So that whreas in some forms of Hinduism the cosmos is located within the divine in these views (sometimes called pancosmistic) the divine (ie the self-existent) is located within the cosmos. I don't know that it has to be that way but it often is. You may find this interesting http://www.members.shaw.ca/jgfriesen/index.html
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Re: Is Christianity redeemable?

Postby Rian » Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:08 pm

And I'm finally getting to the OP ...

Re the title - "Is Christianity redeemable?" - the first thought that popped into my head is that people are redeemable, although organizations might not be. However, I think the church (defined as a body of believers) is redeemable, because it's made up of people that are being redeemed. But specific churches might or might not be redeemable.

mitchellmckain wrote:Definitely a mixed history. It is has inspired a lot good. On the other hand, it has been an excuse for, or at the very least somewhat compatible with, a great deal of evil. I don't see any improvement in modern times either. My first impulse is to say what disgusting mess. And I am not talking about its diversity since I would consider that one of its better and most promising features. It is that diversity which motivated the ideals of religious freedom which it supported.
I also think that diversity in the church is good, because people are different and come to Christ from different paths.

My inclination is to say that it is always better to work for the improvement of what we have, because starting over will just be a repeat of all the same mistakes. It is not like atheists are the first to become totally disgusted with Christianity as it is. That has been happening constantly from its very beginning up until modern times where we see new religious movements and people both re-inventing Christianity and starting whole new religions all the time. So I cannot see how an elimination of Christianity can have any good result.
I don't see how Christianity can be eliminated; it's something that just is. However, one can eliminate churches in the larger sense (as in buildings and groups of people). But I think where two or three have gathered in Christ's name, as the verse goes, is a church, and that can't be stopped.

I think a lot of openness is important for the health of a church. All of the churches that I attended in my adult life had open books, for example, and you could see where the money went, including salaries of the staff.

Thus it seems far far more rational to me to find what is good and valuable in Christianity and fight against those things we can definitely do without.
I agree.
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