Moonwood the Hare wrote:It seems to me you have been doing a lot of this recently. You suggest that people's beliefs have some kind of hidden cause or unconscious motive going back say to childhood insecurities.
I think theism itself
is a psychological symptom of a childhood need; the childhood of the human species. I've never been shy about that. I'm also not the first person to raise its specter. "Santa Claus for adults" "My Invisible Friend" "Sky Daddy", "Fairy Tales" -- none of these originate with me personally; this is the conclusion of the vast majority of non-believers out there.
The problem as I see it is that you theists claim
it's all about some deeper connection (that is somehow not
psychological, which I'd argue is impossible by definition), but you offer no support for that claim.
You folks like to blame us for your worldview not having any concrete substantiation, and when it comes to me, I will happily throw that right back into your laps to deal with. Until you do, I, as a materialist, Will have certain considerations to lead me to conclusions as to why you do behave and believe the way you do -- and when guys like mitchell and cleve start talking about their childhood's and their reactions to that childhood, I'm going to say "That's smoke."
Basically, your entire rebuttal to me is that -- once again -- the theist has some kind of special "contact" or "method" that those of us who don't believe are missing. Well, fine-- but then pony up and show us some evidence of what it is you have, that we don't.
Usually I go in for discussing the historical context of beliefs because someone has raised some issue where it just seemed to me the facts were wrong. So for example I did that when I thought you were reading modern evangelical ideas back into Martin Luther. But I'm not an expert (really, that would be become clear if I were grilled by a historian!) and as with so many things I don't know why people don't know stuff.
You're slippery when it comes to this stuff and it's really a completely different discussion. In short, you redefine "fundamentalist" into "Evangelical" when it suits you. Evangelicals of the 21st century are, indeed, a lot different from medieval believers, but in terms of them being fundamentalist they are not. Both would agree in a 6 day creation, a First Cause argument, and a completely ignorant view of the core planks of existence as we know them. But again-- this is so off topic that it can be dealt with elsewhere.
Well you can ask but you may not get a satisfactory answer.
Of course I won't get a satisfactory answer since all the theistic answers are how it is not
X, Y and Z but rather it's grounded in some magical connection the theist happily has and the materialist does not. What would be a satisfactory answer would involve some demonstrable keystone for any of this, and we all know-- you ain't got that.
I'm all in favour of people exploring their psychological motivations; I spend quite a bit of time these days helping people to do it or having people help me to do it but I don't think it is an easy thing to do.
Well, I'm glad you've granted yourself the freedom to do that for others while castigated others for doing it in the same breath. So what would you
make of Mitch's ""liberal upbringing" story or cleve's "overly critical thinking father devoid of love" model? These folks offered these comments without any prodding from me; so apparently they wanted us to know about them; now, in the venue of a forum, they are open for examination.
So If my desire to do that rises from some kind of personal flaw which in turn arises from say a dodgy relationship with my father then so be it, I may discover that one day and then on the basis of that discovery I might have to re-evaluate why and whether I want to do that. But if as I believe that desire is one which itself stems from the nature of the universe and God then it does not need further explanation.
And therein lies a totally different way to view the world, and therein lies our deepest conflict. To say, "Oh well, that's the way it is" on something like this is of huge import to one's well being, and to suggest it doesn't need further explanation (though you've provided no
concrete explanation), is a chasm we aren't going to be able to easily bridge. And in and of itself stands as the engine behind why people do some pretty heinous things in the name of their religious beliefs. How you don't know better than that is somewhat astonishing to me. But then-- you absurdly compare apples to meteors on this point which I'll respond to below when you offer it as way of explanation.
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.
It's psychological -- it's a need some people have and others don't.
I'd assume you meant roughly what Bacon meant when he said if we want to control nature we must first submit to her since the power behind technology is the power in nature itself.
No, I meant that someone who craves to line themselves up with power needs to account for what it is they mean. I long ago learned that all I can control, to some marginal degree, are the choices I make. I can't control anything else, not even the consequences of those choices-- but the craving for such control is delusional and damaging to us all.
Okay, fair enough. We say the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and perfect love casts out all fear. It's a journey.
Too thin a reply. There is some honor
in this fear; if I call you out on this fear claim, you'll tell me what? That it's a special kind of fear. Yes or no?
If yes, then we're back to the theist once more stating how they have something special and different; how even fear, in their case, is some noble and positive force. And when asked to show support for it, they won't be able to do so. If the answer is "no", then what kind of an ideology begins grounded in fear
? And if fear isn't a psychological and even pathological keystone upon which to found an ideology, I don't know what would possibly
suffice to define one as such.
By the way -- fear can
motivated positive consequences; hell, I'm afraid of flying and so do it often as I can to overcome it, but I'd much prefer not
having the fear at all in the first place and just doing it because it's fun and exciting and enjoyable to do. And I'm also aware of people courting fear because it turns them on; and that's fine if that's their choice. But to fear that which is supposed to love you and cherish you? That's... well, that's some weird psychology to say the least.
Well, I wasn't thinking about that. Some Christians have argued that we should want God for himself not for what he gives, others have said the opposite. I don't really dwell on that. For me it would be seeking a theoretical answer to an existential problem which I think is nearly always unwise. To keep analysing my motives at that level would be like digging up a plant every few days to check if it was growing.
You sound like you're evading the question. What's the difference between you and me then if the above is true? I at least examined the problem and came to a conclusion based on thinking it through. You don't even want to address it. What if your motive is "the wrong one"-- or what if "not dwelling on one's motive" is a wrong choice? Why doesn't Pascal's Wager suddenly apply to you and your choice? Are you supposed to look inward and consider your relationship to god and Jesus and so on? And why would the answer be "theoretical" if god exists and there's a concrete plan for salvation? If it's concrete, what's theoretical about that answer?
Well I agree that our issues have changed since the days when the Old Testament was written and so we have to re-imagine the underlying values in our context. But the other issue - Why does God want worship - well we can speculate about that but in the end there are things which are basic in any worldview. It's like if you go to a materialist and say, 'yes but why does a quark have the properties and liabilities it does, why is a quark a quark?' he won't be able to answer. If you go to a rationalist and say 'but why do objects have to be identical to themselves? well he won't be able to answer. If you ask a Marxist why history is controlled by economic relations he won't be able to answer and it is the same here.
Here's where you compare apples to meteors. Your materialists' questions are not a likewise comparison to that of an entity you
claim has an intellect. The quark, the identity of an object, these are not intellectual entities with sapience. They are things; and things are what they are neutrally. There is a pen sitting on my desk; it is not alive, nor aware, nor can it reason; it is a pen because that is what it is, without volition. I can say, "It is a pen because it was designed to be a pen" and the pen cannot argue or complain. If I were to say, "That is a pen and it is compelled to want to write something" I would expect to be held to account for such a claim. But I do not make that claim; the pen will write, but not because it desires to do so.
God, however, is not of the same category, according to the theist. God is an entity with a mind of some kind, and now apparently with needs and desires. You say god has wants and needs, and one of those wants or needs is worship. In demanding an account for this, you reply "Well, that is simply the way it is" as if god is a pen or an object; well that's fine if you want to go that way, but now you worship a god that is under the preeminence of something greater than he/she/ or it. If god is trapped being beholden to worship "because that is the nature of things" you have a god who is enthralled to the nature of things he himself has created!
Are you saying he cannot be otherwise? Can he choose not
to be so?