Moonwood the Hare wrote:I am not really persuaded by analogies between the cultural history of mankind and theories about child development. It seems to me the two are different enough for the one not to throw much light on the other. A theory of cultural development or progress is a very tricky thing to construct and I don't think it is helped by vague analogies with individual development.
Well, they are different so it's not about the cultural developments but about our understanding of the environment we inhabit. As you go back in time our understanding of existence becomes more simplistic, and simplistic stories suffice to explain things to us. You really can't judge an analogy you misunderstand.
I would agree that anything a human being experiences is experienced psychologically. I don't have a problem with that at all. However if to experience something psychologically means that all experience must be explained as being a product of mechanistic causes and reducible to to the interplay of physical forces then unless one treads very carefully one ends up upholding a view where there can be no valid basis for any belief since the propositional content of a belief is not physical and a purely physicalist view of psychology will have to hold that no belief is ever held in virtue of its propositional content so that one can never reach the truth by reasoning.
Well you're going a bit wobbly on your facts again. Terms like fundamentalist and evangelical are a bit slippery.
I disagree. I think they are quite specific. One can evangelize one's religion even if they aren't fundamentalist about that religion.
Anyway the great medieval thinkers used the best science available to them and very few believed in a literal six day creation (have you read say Augustine or Gregory or Aquinas on this kind of thing?) And I don't believe in a first cause argument (one of the problems here is that in modern science and philosophy and in medieval science and philosophy cause has a different meaning - Kuhn points this out as being a key point that lead him to his idea of changing paradigms
The "best science" available to them at the time was mere superstition. I don't fault then for their blindness, but I do fault modern people for self-blinding themselves so they are still like those medieval thinkers. That doesn't mean you, personally, but it does mean the greater percentage of all believers. On the same "evidence" (read: none), people today believe these same beliefs even though there is massive evidence that none of it is needed.
I need to develop this. In the last few centuries we have developed a lot of theories, or competing models about how human minds operate. Many of these theories try to explain how what is going on in the part of our minds which is not accessible can influence us. However these insights were developed for use in the context of therapeutic psychology where in a safe environment and over a prolonged period of time people can tease out their underlying motives. Trying to use these techniques in a forum where there is no real interpersonal context and in an accusatory way is unwise and is likely to prove highly infective. It is true that Freud did try to produce theories to account for all religious belief and his theories were rather more subtle than those of most 21st Century atheists. Nevertheless those theories have not generally been held to hold up as valid. Generally, and you can ask the atheistic therapists on this site to confirm this for you, therapists will not use the tools of their trade, the theories and models, as a means of trying to undermine a client's belief system. That does not mean than people's beliefs do not change as a result of their experience in therapy but the traffic is not one way. Scott Peck gives some very interesting accounts of his own experience as a therapist and how many clients who came as believers emerged from therapy as atheists and vice versa and it puzzled him how these opposite effects could arise from the same therapist using the same method with different clients.
Well, we're back to the same problem most theists here don't seem to understand about me. I consider theists to be effectively hopeless in terms of someone like me "changing their belief systems". I neither have a hope to accomplish that, but it's also not what I even care to do. My goal is to expose theistic arguments for others who come along here-- and really, only for the thinnest of groups-- those who are already on the fence. If they are theists like yourself, I will not persuade them, and if they are non-theists like myself, there is no need to sway them. I seek merely only to show that theists have no new arguments, they cannot address the long-held arguments against them, and that they are left with a litany of "special dispensation" arguments (we have to grant the theistic world view an endless litany of exceptions ion order for it to be "valid"). That's really all I am interested in doing here, and it's all I do.
So I think yes, you have a basis for asking but that stems from your own worldview; I think to you belief in God is pathological and so needs this kind of explanation. To me neither belief nor unbelief is in itself pathological, at least not psychologically. It is not clear to me whether you think religious beliefs always stem from these kind of pathological causes or whether you think they only sometimes do. For myself I would say that religious beliefs do sometimes have pathological causes and in such cases they are better abandoned.
What if they are always stemming from pathologically causes? Would your recommendation then hold true in all cases?
I think we have agreed that whatever we experience must in some sense be psychological but my question was is it pathological. And if people differ in their needs does that imply that one set of needs must be pathological and the other not. We know exactly where this kind of view of religion can lead; Stalin's psyche wards show us that so do the torture chambers of the inquisition.
But the adoption of reason would allow for neither. And one cannot adopt reason when one predicates ones' entire belief system upon faith-- be it faith in a god, or faith in a state, or faith in an ideology. You would place Stalin in the category of atheist because communism is not theistic; I would say Stalism is every bit a religion as is that of fundamentalist Christianity, it's merely the object of worship which has changed. And adherents to both are pathologically driven to follow it.
Well I usually aim at a particular consequence but this is where my Popperianism comes to the fore because he points out that actions can have unintended consequences so we should always have strong mechanisms for change. But let me explain a little more of what I mean. I believe that the cosmos has a law structure that was created by God, by moving in line with that structure we act in accord with what is. That is how I think science works - that was Bacon's point - we discover laws and submit to them and by submitting we can control. It gets more subtle as me move to higher aspects of the cosmos, to control in the psychological is more complex and the laws are more subtle and we cannot and should not control people in the way we aspire to control things, none the less there are laws we can discover and use. But this is a terribly poor account of the law structure (try googling Herman Dooyeweerd). Now I find the idea that there is a way to follow which fits the way things are is a very old idea. The Greeks call it natural law, the Chinese call it the Tao which heaven and earth follows, Christians call it the way and it has other names. So I see the power behind the cosmos expressed in the law structure of the cosmos which can be discovered in a number of ways and it is this law structure which an expression on earth of the will of God to which I aspire to submit.
I reject the idea there is a "WAY" and rather supplant it with the idea that there are ways, plural.
Yes, I think this is an interesting point. Yes our understand of fear could be very different from the understanding in say humanist psychology. I would say wisdom begins in fear because before we began to know we did not see the dangers, then we saw the dangers and did not act because we were afraid, then we learned to act but we no longer acted in ignorance. I think I can see that process in my work with clients. Of course I would not want to inculcate the fear but reality itself will do that for me. Thank you; that is a new insight I must dwell on.
Here is where we get into deep water as I said right at the beginning. I think the simplest answer I can give without developing this in too much detail is to say that the distinction you are making between necessity and contingency is one which we find in creation but not in God, at least not in God as he is in himself. If we regards necessity as a type of possibility and we regard all possibilities as possibilities of a particular kind such as say logical possibility and physical possibility then God would be the creator off all these kinds of possibilities hence he would be the creator of all kinds of necessities and all kinds of contingencies. It would follow that in himself he transcends both necessity and contingency. Hence I personally do not regard any of his attributes as being either necessary or contingent but as having a unique status and a unique relation to his being which is not found in any created object. But I would stress that is just a personal view and other answers have been given to this admittedly highly speculative question.
"Unique status" = "Special Dispensation".
I have no qualms with that providing you account for it. But, it is not demonstrable, hence you cannot account for it. And this has been true all along, which brings us full circle back to the theists adopting explanations of the environment in which we inhabit that is no different from that which the younger "versions" of us in our evolution have adopted in our past. And we need to grow beyond that methodology. To maintain it means we are pathologically insisting on our childhood understanding, and not confronting the reality that a matured understanding brings. And make no mistake-- our understanding today as post-toddlers and pre-adolescence is going to suffer greatly when we reach our pubescent and eventual adult stage. We may even discover God.
If we survive that long.