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Thread: Philosophically Speaking, "Is Suffering a Challenge to God's Existence?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    We do? Haven't I just said that framing narratives to manipulate support is not inevitable and need not impede logic and morality? And that it is no basis for dismissing he problem of suffering in human experience? I think you are confusing narratives of special victimhood with suffering. Having a giant needle driven into your pelvis and them forcefully pulled out (because it has lodged there), twice on each side, while you screen in pain, is not the same experience as feeling joy in your heart at the site of your beloved's smile. I understand that you need them be be part of the same spectrum for your theological and scientific speculations, but they are categorically different experiences, and don't appear to want to cooperate with you.

    That is twice recently that you have taken something I wrote seriously out of context, YesNo. Are we playing chess here, or trying to learn from one another's differences? Hmmmmm?
    Perhaps we don't agree.

    When someone is upset with God because of some specific suffering they are experiencing, I don't expect their argument to be based on anything logical nor moralistic. They suffer. They are upset. They may well be looking for someone to blame. This would impede logic and morality at least until they calm down.

    However, other suffering arguments, the ones I am more interested in, are based on "narratives" to use your term. These narratives are designed to impede logic and morality and work up the emotions of the listeners. The purpose is to use the narrative to establish an evil group of people based on the suffering of their alleged victims and make a political call to justice to rectify that suffering. Self-righteousness impedes both logic and morality in its campaigns for justice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Really? I don't want to put words into your mouth, but are you sure you see the experience of life after the body as potentially different from the personality? Perhaps you do. It surprises me though.

    I read it when it came out: 30 or 40 years ago now. Even then I wondered how anyone knew those people were telling the truth. I am open to the possibility, of course, but I was hardly convinced by Moody.
    I don't follow your argument about personality.

    However, let me suggest a similarity between the publication of near and shared death experiences today and the publication of unauthorized translations of the Bible into English during Thomas More's time.

    Why was More so upset about Tyndale's translation? It undermined the monopoly that Catholicism had over Christianity with the help of the new printing technology. The Catholic Church wanted to make sure words like "ecclesia" and "presbyter" and "caritas" were defined to legitimate the Catholic Church, its ordained priests and the virtue of giving money to only that church. Tyndale opened Christianity up threatening the Catholic monopoly.

    Today, we have a new printing revolution. Now Christianity (and its long-despised Jewish minority) are not the only games in town. All of the religions of the world are available for individuals to examine. After all the in-fighting between the various Judeo-Christian and atheist sects civil liberties provide powerful obstacles to the modern equivalents of More from gaining power. What Christians have enjoyed was a monopoly not only on spirituality, but also on "resurrection". Only their Jesus could resurrect. Only their Jesus could provide resurrection to others. That is no longer the case.

    What Christians find objectionable about near death experiences today is that it threatens their religious monopoly in the same way that Catholics felt threatened by Protestantism undermining their monopoly in More's day.

    From my perspective, I don't see any difference between the shared-death experiences reported in the Christian New Testament and shared-death experiences reported by people of all faiths or even no faith. The only thing that Christians could argue for is the quantity of these experiences was more massive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Perhaps we don't agree. When someone is upset with God because of some specific suffering they are experiencing, I don't expect their argument to be based on anything logical nor moralistic.
    They suffer. They are upset. They may well be looking for someone to blame. This would impede logic and morality at least until they calm down.
    What about the many mature adults who are able to confront "specific suffering" without becoming "upset with God"; or even if they do, are still able to think in terms of logic and morality? Is it correct to tar them with the brush of the illogic of others who (at least as you claim) may be too upset to think clearly. Even if you were right about the others, it would not mean that those who assert the reality of suffering are incapable of logic or morality.

    Your argument at present amounts to this:

    1. Individuals suffer. You seem to finally concede this, but in fact, you want to have it both ways because their suffering is inconvenient to your often stated position that suffering does not really exist.

    2. You are therefore compelled to argue that individuals who are suffering are not capable of appreciating their true situation because they are suffering, which "impede[s] their logic and morality."

    The argument is circular. Those who suffer cannot be wrong about the fact that they are suffering because they are suffering.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    However, other suffering arguments, the ones I am more interested in, are based on "narratives" to use your term. These narratives are designed to impede logic and morality and work up the emotions of the listeners. The purpose is to use the narrative to establish an evil group of people based on the suffering of their alleged victims and make a political call to justice to rectify that suffering. Self-righteousness impedes both logic and morality in its campaigns for justice.
    Here we begin to agree. Fetch the long-suffering fatted calf!

    But we need to make an important distinction. As I said in my previous post:

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    I think you are confusing narratives of special victimhood with suffering.
    We will move toward greater common ground (and make the fatted calf nervous indeed) if we can acknowledge that suffering per se is not the same thing as attempting to use one's own suffering, the suffering of one's ancestors, or the suffering (contemporary or historical) of identified groups as a means to enhance one's personal or political status or power or to advance an argument through an appeal to emotion or special pleading.

    Can we agree on that at this point? I'm hungry (and the fatted calf's just sitting there).

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I don't follow your argument about personality.
    As I said before, it's not an argument, just speculation. I don't know what happens after death, and I place my faith in the God of love and justice where such things are concerned. But I'm happy to explain/discuss some of my speculations

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Thanks. No, your question is not disrespectful. I don't know if this is what you meant by throwing it back at you, but as I've said, no one knows what happens after you die. Or maybe that doesn't answer your question, which was what do I think happens. Okay, I think one's body reverts to particles and one's life (zoe) goes its own way. My suspect that zoe takes something gleaned in its late physical experience (maybe wisdom?), but how would I know? And given the great influence of the late body on zoe's recent experience as human being, I am not at all convinced that one's personality (psyche) survives death. On the other hand, it may be that what does survive--freed from the limits and instincts of the body--is a truer self than the dice roll of one's personality. But I'm really just speculating.
    Okay, so maybe we are just electric meat. Maybe the bulb blows and the whole thing gets tossed out and that's just all she wrote. It's possible. But I don't believe it and neither do you, so let's move on. Another way to look at it is that once we die, our physical bodies are reduced to elemental particles that get recycled; but that we cannot directly observe what happens to the rest of us: the part of us capable of non-physical suffering, for example, which may nevertheless take years to heal, or may even leave us permanently impaired. And if we can't observe this "self" directly, what can we say about it (assuming it exists at all)? Must we accept what has been handed to us by folk traditions, religions, or modern "experts" who may not know more than anyone else about the subject? Or can we bring some logic of our own to our speculations?

    Okay, so many would call what I am talking about the soul. The New Testament uses the term pseuxn (psyche) and modern psychology adopts the term to mean the self. In both cases, it is understood to refer to the personality. So I start by asking: why do we assume what remains is the personality? It seems to me there are a lot problems with that idea. Is the personality really consistent between the ages of two and 17 and 48 and 88 (let alone in utero) or do the physical processes of the body change it? What about dementia? Or a massive brain injury resulting personality change (such as in the Phineas Gage or even Jim Brady cases)? Do those born disabled because of damaged or different brains remain "retarded" once the brain is gone? Is the Afterlife like Florida: full of senior citizens and reckless kids? It seems to me that the survival of the personality per se should not be taken for granted, even by those who believe that the light and the bulb are not the same thing.

    This is why I prefer to speak of zoe (life) rather than pseuxn (soul). And while it may be the death knell of the old canard that belief in an afterlife is wishful thinking based on a selfish desire to live forever (because who wants to keep living if it's not "you"), I can already see torches and pitchforks being raised by those whose faith has long been that if they go to church or say a special prayer, they will one day be reunited with their lost parents and grandparents and husbands and wives and and brothers and sisters and friends and children. And while I'm tempted to just shrug as compassionately as I can at those people and say: "Look, what makes you think that I know how it works?", I actually suspect that their situation may be better than it seems. It's what I meant when I said: "it may be that what does survive--freed from the limits and instincts of the body--is a truer self than the dice roll of one's personality." In other words, our true selves may not be done with the true selves of those we have loved. And so, to get a little sappy for a moment, we are left with Eric Clapton's question: "Would you know my name?" I say yes. But how would I know?

    And in case "freed from the limits and instincts of the body--is a truer self than the dice roll of one's personality" is not clear enough, I mean that the personality is limited by the brain, and manipulated by the biochemistry of a the body, which is itself the product of millions of years of natural selection. But free of body and brain and biochemistry and lethally grubbing for physical survival, there is (in my belief) zoe, the living self that God created for us. It seems to me that with the death of the material, life is liberated to its true form, though perhaps grown in some ways (in wisdom?) by its experience in matter; or perhaps changed for the worse?

    What comes next? How should I know? Perhaps zoe (with some dearly bought wisdom) sees what can be learned as a bird of prey or a pine tree or starving Ethiopian mother. Perhaps those who are ready move closer to God while those who are not fall farther still. Perhaps some are simply saved from suffering. Perhaps they go to God. Perhaps they go to another universe. Perhaps the question doesn't even apply. I mean, who died and left me in charge of all the answers? Trusting to a God of love and justice really does help.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    However, let me suggest a similarity between the publication of near and shared death experiences today and the publication of unauthorized translations of the Bible into English during Thomas More's time.

    Why was More so upset about Tyndale's translation? It undermined the monopoly that Catholicism had over Christianity with the help of the new printing technology. The Catholic Church wanted to make sure words like "ecclesia" and "presbyter" and "caritas" were defined to legitimate the Catholic Church, its ordained priests and the virtue of giving money to only that church. Tyndale opened Christianity up threatening the Catholic monopoly.

    Today, we have a new printing revolution. Now Christianity (and its long-despised Jewish minority) are not the only games in town. All of the religions of the world are available for individuals to examine. After all the in-fighting between the various Judeo-Christian and atheist sects civil liberties provide powerful obstacles to the modern equivalents of More from gaining power. What Christians have enjoyed was a monopoly not only on spirituality, but also on "resurrection". Only their Jesus could resurrect. Only their Jesus could provide resurrection to others. That is no longer the case.

    What Christians find objectionable about near death experiences today is that it threatens their religious monopoly in the same way that Catholics felt threatened by Protestantism undermining their monopoly in More's day.
    Okay, I think I've followed your rather complicated analogy. I do see a some problems with it. But even if the analogy were much clearer, it would still do nothing to advance the veracity of near death experiences. Even if you could show that Christians find the idea objectionable (which I doubt you can), it would not follow that those who report such experiences are telling the truth; or if they are, that their perceptions were authentic experience. They may be, but it has nothing to do with whether Christians find them objectionable.

    Also, a statement predicated "What Christians find objectionable about near death experiences today is..." presumes a non-existent uniformity and unanimity of belief between Christian confessions, denominations, and individuals. The Catholic Church has no official position on "NDEs." Many Protestants are interested and even feel vindicated by some of the reports. (The reason the teenaged Pompey Bum plunked out his hard earned law mowing money for a copy of Ray Moody's slender book was that our dippy youth minister had been talking it up). No doubt you could find some Christians who object, but cherry-picking evidence doesn't fly in reasoned discourse. Objecting to the veracity of reports of near death experiences is in no way definitive of being a Christian. So your argument is still born.

    I might object to some details of your analogy, too (world religions were widely known before the Internet, Christianity hardly has a monopoly on belief in an afterlife or the transmigration of souls, etc.), but I feel your argument has already been sufficiently blown out of the water.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    From my perspective, I don't see any difference between the shared-death experiences reported in the Christian New Testament and shared-death experiences reported by people of all faiths or even no faith.
    Well I'm glad you've found something that seems so universally meaningful to you, YesNo. As I've said before, I am open to the idea; but I treat the subject with no less a critical approach than I bring to Biblical studies. Since we have spoken of such things for many weeks now, I'm sure you see that I am not being inconsistent.

    I have a suggestion, too, before I close. Rather than claim that the miracle stories of various religions constitute near death experiences, you would be on stronger ground to argue that medical technology in the 20th and 21st centuries led to a new kind of experience: one in which patients who had clinically died were resuscitated--and this has resulted in near or partial experiences of afterlife. If you are right about that, you won't need to negate somebody else's miracle story. That seems like a polite approach if nothing else. Poor old Lazarus has been through a lot.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    What about the many mature adults who are able to confront "specific suffering" without becoming "upset with God"; or even if they do, are still able to think in terms of logic and morality? Is it correct to tar them with the brush of the illogic of others who (at least as you claim) may be too upset to think clearly. Even if you were right about the others, it would not mean that those who assert the reality of suffering are incapable of logic or morality.
    Some people can still think logically and morally when they suffer. Some can't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Your argument at present amounts to this:

    1. Individuals suffer. You seem to finally concede this, but in fact, you want to have it both ways because their suffering is inconvenient to your often stated position that suffering does not really exist.

    2. You are therefore compelled to argue that individuals who are suffering are not capable of appreciating their true situation because they are suffering, which "impede[s] their logic and morality."

    The argument is circular. Those who suffer cannot be wrong about the fact that they are suffering because they are suffering.
    People suffer. My position is that I don't see the existence of suffering as evidence that the universe is evil.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    We will move toward greater common ground (and make the fatted calf nervous indeed) if we can acknowledge that suffering per se is not the same thing as attempting to use one's own suffering, the suffering of one's ancestors, or the suffering (contemporary or historical) of identified groups as a means to enhance one's personal or political status or power or to advance an argument through an appeal to emotion or special pleading.

    Can we agree on that at this point? I'm hungry (and the fatted calf's just sitting there).
    I am a vegetarian, but you are welcome to eat the calf.

    I think I have already made the distinction you have made.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    As I said before, it's not an argument, just speculation. I don't know what happens after death, and I place my faith in the God of love and justice where such things are concerned. But I'm happy to explain/discuss some of my speculations

    Okay, so maybe we are just electric meat. Maybe the bulb blows and the whole thing gets tossed out and that's just all she wrote. It's possible. But I don't believe it and neither do you, so let's move on. Another way to look at it is that once we die, our physical bodies are reduced to elemental particles that get recycled; but that we cannot directly observe what happens to the rest of us: the part of us capable of non-physical suffering, for example, which may nevertheless take years to heal, or may even leave us permanently impaired. And if we can't observe this "self" directly, what can we say about it (assuming it exists at all)? Must we accept what has been handed to us by folk traditions, religions, or modern "experts" who may not know more than anyone else about the subject? Or can we bring some logic of our own to our speculations?

    Okay, so many would call what I am talking about the soul. The New Testament uses the term pseuxn (psyche) and modern psychology adopts the term to mean the self. In both cases, it is understood to refer to the personality. So I start by asking: why do we assume what remains is the personality? It seems to me there are a lot problems with that idea. Is the personality really consistent between the ages of two and 17 and 48 and 88 (let alone in utero) or do the physical processes of the body change it? What about dementia? Or a massive brain injury resulting personality change (such as in the Phineas Gage or even Jim Brady cases)? Do those born disabled because of damaged or different brains remain "retarded" once the brain is gone? Is the Afterlife like Florida: full of senior citizens and reckless kids? It seems to me that the survival of the personality per se should not be taken for granted, even by those who believe that the light and the bulb are not the same thing.

    This is why I prefer to speak of zoe (life) rather than pseuxn (soul). And while it may be the death knell of the old canard that belief in an afterlife is wishful thinking based on a selfish desire to live forever (because who wants to keep living if it's not "you"), I can already see torches and pitchforks being raised by those whose faith has long been that if they go to church or say a special prayer, they will one day be reunited with their lost parents and grandparents and husbands and wives and and brothers and sisters and friends and children. And while I'm tempted to just shrug as compassionately as I can at those people and say: "Look, what makes you think that I know how it works?", I actually suspect that their situation may be better than it seems. It's what I meant when I said: "it may be that what does survive--freed from the limits and instincts of the body--is a truer self than the dice roll of one's personality." In other words, our true selves may not be done with the true selves of those we have loved. And so, to get a little sappy for a moment, we are left with Eric Clapton's question: "Would you know my name?" I say yes. But how would I know?
    This is where near and shared death experiences may offer something.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    And in case "freed from the limits and instincts of the body--is a truer self than the dice roll of one's personality" is not clear enough, I mean that the personality is limited by the brain, and manipulated by the biochemistry of a the body, which is itself the product of millions of years of natural selection. But free of body and brain and biochemistry and lethally grubbing for physical survival, there is (in my belief) zoe, the living self that God created for us. It seems to me that with the death of the material, life is liberated to its true form, though perhaps grown in some ways (in wisdom?) by its experience in matter; or perhaps changed for the worse?
    I think I agree with this, but not with the pessimistic portrayal of this "material" world.

    Natural selection is a bad metaphor. Supposedly this selection process occurs without consciousness because it is "natural" unlike artificial selection which is what we do when we breed plants and animals, but if it really were unconscious that would mean no "selection" occurred at all.

    What one has are organisms faced with the various climate changes over the billions of years. Those organisms made choices. Those choices materialized changes that ultimately led to us. As I see it, they were not just trying to survive, but they were looking for something better pretty much the way we do today except their range of possibilities were different.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    What comes next? How should I know? Perhaps zoe (with some dearly bought wisdom) sees what can be learned as a bird of prey or a pine tree or starving Ethiopian mother. Perhaps those who are ready move closer to God while those who are not fall farther still. Perhaps some are simply saved from suffering. Perhaps they go to God. Perhaps they go to another universe. Perhaps the question doesn't even apply. I mean, who died and left me in charge of all the answers? Trusting to a God of love and justice really does help.
    My assumptions are similar, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to find out more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Okay, I think I've followed your rather complicated analogy. I do see a some problems with it. But even if the analogy were much clearer, it would still do nothing to advance the veracity of near death experiences. Even if you could show that Christians find the idea objectionable (which I doubt you can), it would not follow that those who report such experiences are telling the truth; or if they are, that their perceptions were authentic experience. They may be, but it has nothing to do with whether Christians find them objectionable.
    What I am trying to do is understand why you find shared death experiences problematic, while at the same time you seem to accept the reports that Thomas put his hand in Jesus' wounds after the crucifixion when Jesus suddenly appeared in the room.

    My guess is that you believe two things: (1) the event actually happened, and (2) only Jesus could do something like that. I have no problem with (1) because I can think of an example of a shared death experience like it. That means I don't have to believe that the event occurred because the event is now no longer a miracle contradicting my general view of reality. Belief (2) is what I am trying to describe as a monopoly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Also, a statement predicated "What Christians find objectionable about near death experiences today is..." presumes a non-existent uniformity and unanimity of belief between Christian confessions, denominations, and individuals. The Catholic Church has no official position on "NDEs." Many Protestants are interested and even feel vindicated by some of the reports. (The reason the teenaged Pompey Bum plunked out his hard earned law mowing money for a copy of Ray Moody's slender book was that our dippy youth minister had been talking it up). No doubt you could find some Christians who object, but cherry-picking evidence doesn't fly in reasoned discourse. Objecting to the veracity of reports of near death experiences is in no way definitive of being a Christian. So your argument is still born.
    I am sure some Christians accept these things. Others don't. What I am trying to understand is why don't those Christians who doubt that shared death experiences are real nonetheless accept their New Testament that contains many such stories?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    I might object to some details of your analogy, too (world religions were widely known before the Internet, Christianity hardly has a monopoly on belief in an afterlife or the transmigration of souls, etc.), but I feel your argument has already been sufficiently blown out of the water.
    I think the technology today is critical. Not just publishing, but also transportation. When I was an undergraduate, there weren't any computers with chat and forum interfaces. Sure, I heard of Buddha or Krishna, but I could not discuss these issues with anyone and I would not have even thought of discussing them.

    You could look at the rise of new spiritual practices and ideas like species undergoing punctuated equilibrium. Catholicism could be seen as a "species". When its monopoly on spirituality broke down due to the environment having new printing technology various other Christian "species" could come into existence. Similarly today with the environment undergoing technological changes (a kind of cultural climate change), new religious species can emerge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Well I'm glad you've found something that seems so universally meaningful to you, YesNo. As I've said before, I am open to the idea; but I treat the subject with no less a critical approach than I bring to Biblical studies. Since we have spoken of such things for many weeks now, I'm sure you see that I am not being inconsistent.

    I have a suggestion, too, before I close. Rather than claim that the miracle stories of various religions constitute near death experiences, you would be on stronger ground to argue that medical technology in the 20th and 21st centuries led to a new kind of experience: one in which patients who had clinically died were resuscitated--and this has resulted in near or partial experiences of afterlife. If you are right about that, you won't need to negate somebody else's miracle story. That seems like a polite approach if nothing else. Poor old Lazarus has been through a lot.
    I don't believe in "miracle stories". Either Jesus appeared to travelers on the road to Emmaus, later ate food with them and then disappeared, or he did not. If he did, then that has to be taken into account as part of the way the real world behaves.

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    Sounds like we agree on most of what I wrote yesterday. The Fatted Calf was made of ginger cheesecake, by the way. Mmmmm-boy! Gone now, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Natural selection is a bad metaphor. Supposedly this selection process occurs without consciousness because it is "natural" unlike artificial selection which is what we do when we breed plants and animals, but if it really were unconscious that would mean no "selection" occurred at all.
    This discussion belongs on the evolution thread, but while we are here, it seems to me that you are practicing a kind of equivocation with "natural selection." As I understand the term, nature is the one doing the selecting, through genetic recombination and mutation (against the backdrop of the environmental stress you mention). I agree that it is a misleading term, and that there is no discernible selection occurring in terms of choice or will. But that doesn't mean that organisms are choosing how their parents genetic material combines and mutates, or the likelihood of their survival in the changing environment (as you seem to imply below).

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    What one has are organisms faced with the various climate changes over the billions of years. Those organisms made choices. Those choices materialized changes that ultimately led to us.

    As I see it, they were not just trying to survive, but they were looking for something better pretty much the way we do today except their range of possibilities were different.
    Which choices exactly did the blue green algae make? When did Australopithecus africanus choose to have a gracile jaw and small teeth so that it could not chew through the increasingly tough vegetation of the drying African savanna? In what way way the bacillus that causes syphilis "looking for something better pretty much the way we do today"? Did it document I it's hopes in any form you are able to demonstrate? But again, let's take that discussion to the evolution thread. I think the biologists among us have long given up on this one.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    What I am trying to do is understand why you find shared death experiences problematic, while at the same time you seem to accept the reports that Thomas put his hand in Jesus' wounds after the crucifixion when Jesus suddenly appeared in the room.
    Ah, ad hominem tu quoque fallacy. I wondered if that's what you had in mind. Whether I believe that or not has no logical bearing on the validity or non validity of reports of near death experiences. You are also still employing the faulty premise that I "find shared death experiences problematic." I have said several times now that I am open to the idea; but I employ the same critical approach to them that I do, for example, to Biblical studies. If that's still confusing, or if my personal convictions about the Resurrection are not clear, please refer to my discussion about it a few pages back. Now, into the penalty box with you and no more fouling.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    My guess is that you believe two things: (1) the event actually happened, and (2) only Jesus could do something like that.
    How come you didn't just use what I had already told you I believed instead of guessing? What I said then was that my belief in the Resurrection was part of my faith in an omnipotent God who is stronger than death. It doesn't bother me that the Gospels are a bit confused about what actually happened It's what I'd expect. It doesn't interfere with my faith in God, nor my conviction that the Resurrection was a historical event. So yes, I believe it actually happened and that God did it.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I have no problem with (1) because I can think of an example of a shared death experience like it.
    Yes, we've talked about your experience before. But this is the first I have heard of your claim that it was like the Resurrection. And yes, you ARE going to have some hurdles to get over on that one.

    First of all: do you or do you not believe that the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was a historical event? Please answer yes or no (as I just did). If your answer is no, then how can you claim something that didn't happen in the first place was like something that (you say) did happen? But if you answer yes, you still have some hurdles to get over, too.

    Your claim that your experience was like the Resurrection is necessarily dependent on your knowing what the Resurrection was like. If you do not know what it was like, then you cannot make the case that the other event was like it. So what was it like and how do you know? Did Jesus rise in the flesh? If so, how did he walk through a door? Or was he a spiritual being at that point? If so, how did he eat food with his disciples? How did he digest the food and how did he excrete it? But if he was corporeal, how did he vanish on the road to Emmaus, and why didn't Cleopas and his companion see who he was until just before he vanished? How did he later ascend into Heaven? But if he was spiritual, how was Thomas able to touch put his hand in his wounds?

    And most importantly for the purposes of your claim, how do you know which it was for sure? What information do you have that the rest of us don't to establish what the Resurrection was really like? Or that it occurred at all? Before you answer, please note that "I know because I know what happened in the other experience" is circular thinking (and thus fallacious). You cannot claim that event 1 is like event 2 because event 2 was x way so event 1 must have been x way, too. Your notion that the event was like the Resurrection turns into what George W. Bush once described as a "three-spiral crash."

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    That means I don't have to believe that the event occurred because the event is now no longer a miracle contradicting my general view of reality.
    You are free to believe what you like about the event in question. I imagine one more rigorously trained in science would want you to repeat your experience under laboratory conditions before it would be considered quite as natural a phenomenon as you seem to think it is; but you will only get a fight from me to the extent that you try to use your beliefs to negate the faith of others. Why not live and let live? Hmmmm?

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Belief (2) is what I am trying to describe as a monopoly.
    You have confused belief and faith; of which Christians have no monopoly. For a faithful person (or for myself at least) there is no problem with contradictions between the the Road to Emmaus and Doubting Thomas. I don't know what the Resurrection was like anymore than you do. My faith is in God is sufficient for me to understand that it happened. Who needs the ghost stories?

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I am sure some Christians accept these things. Others don't. What I am trying to understand is why don't those Christians who doubt that shared death experiences are real nonetheless accept their New Testament that contains many such stories?
    Ah, bait and switch. We weren't talking about Christians "accept[ing]these things" before, but objecting to them. Being open to a possibility (that is, not objecting to it) is not the same as accepting it as necessarily authentic. How did that become a matter of "doubt[ing"?] Do you personally accept every claim to have had a near death experience uncritically? Personally, I don't know of any Christians who object to the idea of it per se. But that doesn't mean we were born yesterday. ;-)

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    You could look at the rise of new spiritual practices and ideas like species undergoing punctuated equilibrium. Catholicism could be seen as a "species". When its monopoly on spirituality broke down due to the environment having new printing technology various other Christian "species" could come into existence. Similarly today with the environment undergoing technological changes (a kind of cultural climate change), new religious species can emerge.
    Oh YesNo, you have some interesting concepts! :-D I'll try on the idea of the Catholic Church as a species unto itself, but I'm not promising anything. But I do like the idea that you and I may be the harbingers (via LitNet) of new approaches to God and meaning. (You, perhaps, as the Prophet of the coming bad marriage between science and religion, and me as the only one who seems to get the difference between sola fide and sola scriptura). Are we to become the Punch and Judy of theology? This thread has had more than 5182 views so far, and that can't all be Melanie. But maybe it's just us writing new posts? (So much for your brave new world!) If it isn't, though, we should definitely consider taking up a collection.

    EDIT: How 'bout the Stones? You like the Stones?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KW3ASB3SqRU
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-28-2015 at 07:49 PM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  5. #155
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    This discussion belongs on the evolution thread, but while we are here, it seems to me that you are practicing a kind of equivocation with "natural selection." As I understand the term, nature is the one doing the selecting, through genetic recombination and mutation (against the backdrop of the environmental stress you mention). I agree that it is a misleading term, and that there is no discernible selection occurring in terms of choice or will. But that doesn't mean that organisms are choosing how their parents genetic material combines and mutates, or the likelihood of their survival in the changing environment (as you seem to imply below).
    I think the discussion is relevant because we are talking about theodicy. Since atheists don't believe in God, one can switch that to "cosmodicy" or justifying the universe in the face of suffering: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodi...d_anthropodicy

    You seem to admit that "natural selection" is "misleading" because "there is no discernible selection occurring in terms of choice or will."

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Which choices exactly did the blue green algae make? When did Australopithecus africanus choose to have a gracile jaw and small teeth so that it could not chew through the increasingly tough vegetation of the drying African savanna? In what way way the bacillus that causes syphilis "looking for something better pretty much the way we do today"? Did it document I it's hopes in any form you are able to demonstrate? But again, let's take that discussion to the evolution thread. I think the biologists among us have long given up on this one.
    I don't know how they chose to do these things, but they are the only ones who could have made a choice in response to the climate changes at the time. The climate changes did not change the jaw shape.

    The documents that it left were fossils. The "when" based on punctuated equilibrium happened in a relatively rapid time frame, tens of thousands of years of "punctuation" compared to millions of years of "equilibrium". For more information on this, see Niles Eldredge, "Evolution and Extinction".

    Let me throw the question back at you. How did random mutations without the use of consciousness of any sort generate an evolutionary history, documented by fossils, involving increased complexity?

    I like to think of "natural selection" as a metaphor as bad as "Mr. Market". For those who don't know, Mr. Market is credited with a stock rising or falling. Now, we all know there is no Mr. Market making these choices. The people responsible are the individual investors who traded that day given the changing financial environment. We forget that about natural selection.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    What I said then was that my belief in the Resurrection was part of my faith in an omnipotent God who is stronger than death. It doesn't bother me that the Gospels are a bit confused about what actually happened It's what I'd expect. It doesn't interfere with my faith in God, nor my conviction that the Resurrection was a historical event. So yes, I believe it actually happened and that God did it.
    I have no problem with God doing it. I don't think we'd see anything at all without some transcendent Consciousness manifesting the world.

    There may be parts of the Gospels that are confused. I don't think the stuff about the Jews was very nice for example. The Romans killed Jesus.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    First of all: do you or do you not believe that the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was a historical event? Please answer yes or no (as I just did). If your answer is no, then how can you claim something that didn't happen in the first place was like something that (you say) did happen? But if you answer yes, you still have some hurdles to get over, too.
    I'm not a Christian, so my views on the bodily resurrection of Jesus are irrelevant. However, from what I remember about reading parts of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles when I was thinking about near and shared death experiences, I don't think Jesus had a near death experience. The body he had may have de-materialized or it may have been taken away. It doesn't matter. What I think he did do was generate very powerful and materialized shared death experiences for his followers.

    So, did he resurrect with the same body that was crucified? No. He would have needed many months of recovery and Pilate would have crucified him a second time. Did he materialize and de-materialize later in a real body, as real as yours or mine? Yes. Or, at least, based on shared death experiences I have no reason to doubt that these events did not happen as reported.

    Those events are enough to justify the creation of a new, legitimate religion that reflects spiritual reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Your claim that your experience was like the Resurrection is necessarily dependent on your knowing what the Resurrection was like. If you do not know what it was like, then you cannot make the case that the other event was like it. So what was it like and how do you know? Did Jesus rise in the flesh? If so, how did he walk through a door? Or was he a spiritual being at that point? If so, how did he eat food with his disciples? How did he digest the food and how did he excrete it? But if he was corporeal, how did he vanish on the road to Emmaus, and why didn't Cleopas and his companion see who he was until just before he vanished? How did he later ascend into Heaven? But if he was spiritual, how was Thomas able to touch put his hand in his wounds?
    As you are aware, I am a panentheistic idealist. I am neither a materialist nor a dualist. There is no unconscious matter out there to stop him from doing whatever he wants. Luckily, our minds are not so free or who knows what damage we would do to others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    You have confused belief and faith; of which Christians have no monopoly. For a faithful person (or for myself at least) there is no problem with contradictions between the the Road to Emmaus and Doubting Thomas. I don't know what the Resurrection was like anymore than you do. My faith is in God is sufficient for me to understand that it happened. Who needs the ghost stories?
    I need them if I want to grant credibility to the New Testament stories.

    I am also looking for levitation events. For example, did Jesus actually walk on water, a form of levitation event? I've heard of other stories from the past that are similar, but I want something more contemporaneous.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Ah, bait and switch. We weren't talking about Christians "accept[ing]these things" before, but objecting to them. Being open to a possibility (that is, not objecting to it) is not the same as accepting it as necessarily authentic. How did that become a matter of "doubt[ing"?] Do you personally accept every claim to have had a near death experience uncritically? Personally, I don't know of any Christians who object to the idea of it per se. But that doesn't mean we were born yesterday. ;-)
    I let people like Raymond Moody verify these events. So, I trust what this authority has to say. I don't trust what so-called skeptics have to say, because I reject the metaphysics of these skeptics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Oh YesNo, you have some interesting concepts! :-D I'll try on the idea of the Catholic Church as a species unto itself, but I'm not promising anything. But I do like the idea that you and I may be the harbingers (via LitNet) of new approaches to God and meaning. (You, perhaps, as the Prophet of the coming bad marriage between science and religion, and me as the only one who seems to get the difference between sola fide and sola scriptura). Are we to become the Punch and Judy of theology? This thread has had more than 5182 views so far, and that can't all be Melanie. But maybe it's just us writing new posts? (So much for your brave new world!) If it isn't, though, we should definitely consider taking up a collection.
    I'm not a prophet, but someone discussing my own cultural assumptions with you and trying to weed out the ones that don't make sense. Part of my problem is that I don't know what I believe, but I have learned to realize that I believe a lot of junk that I should not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    EDIT: How 'bout the Stones? You like the Stones?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KW3ASB3SqRU
    How about Meghan Trainor? I do like that song about the bass.

  6. #156
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Look, despite your attempt to change the subject, you are going to have to have the complexity debate on the evolutionary thread. It is not relevant to our discussion of near death experiences and the Resurrection of Jesus. When you get to that thread, by the way, you might want to try again on some of the questions from my last post. Claiming that blue green algae or early hominids chose their own genetic make-up because "they are the only ones who could have made a choice in response to the climate changes at the time" is execrable logic. "The documents it left were fossils" is a nonsensical response to my questions: "In what way way the bacillus that causes syphilis 'looking for something better pretty much the way we do today'? Did it document it's hopes in any form you are able to demonstrate?" Even if the bacillus had left any fossils (and if it did, please show them to me), they could not be used to sustain a claim that the pathogen was "looking for something pretty much the way we do today'"

    But let's not get distracted. ;-)

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I'm not a Christian, so my views on the bodily resurrection of Jesus are irrelevant.
    It's not irrelevant if you claim:

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I can think of an example of a shared death experience like it.
    Once again, you cannot claim something you say did not happen is an example of something you say did happen. That logic does not go away just because you choose to ignore it. So did it happen and how do you know?

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    However, from what I remember about reading parts of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles when I was thinking about near and shared death experiences, I don't think Jesus had a near death experience. The body he had may have de-materialized or it may have been taken away. It doesn't matter. What I think he did do was generate very powerful and materialized shared death experiences for his followers.
    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    So, did he resurrect with the same body that was crucified? No. He would have needed many months of recovery and Pilate would have crucified him a second time. Did he materialize and de-materialize later in a real body, as real as yours or mine? Yes. Or, at least, based on shared death experiences I have no reason to doubt that these events did not happen as reported.
    What makes you think that "what [you] remember about reading parts of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles" is historically accurate? The answer you give above is: "based on shared death experiences I have no reason to doubt that these events did not happen as reported."

    So to examine your reasoning: you claim that the Resurrection of Jesus provides evidence for the validity of shared death experiences. But how could you possibly know what (if anything) actually happened during the Resurrection? Your answer: I know because it was a shared death experience; and I know what those are like. That is a circular argument--more crap logic. Again, you'd probably do better to just focus on modern reports (IMHO).

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I let people like Raymond Moody verify these events. So, I trust what this authority has to say. I don't trust what so-called skeptics have to say, because I reject the metaphysics of these skeptics.
    So despite your claims to be dealing with the world as it really is, you are relying just faith, too. The difference is that I have faith in God and you have faith in someone selling a book. Good luck with that, YesNo.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I am also looking for levitation events. For example, did Jesus actually walk on water, a form of levitation event? I've heard of other stories from the past that are similar, but I want something more contemporaneous.
    The Indian rope trick?
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-30-2015 at 05:58 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Once again, you cannot claim something you say did not happen is an example of something you say did happen. That logic does not go away just because you choose to ignore it. So did it happen and how do you know?
    I am not following this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    What makes you think that "what [you] remember about reading parts of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles" is historically accurate? The answer you give above is: "based on shared death experiences I have no reason to doubt that these events did not happen as reported."

    So to examine your reasoning: you claim that the Resurrection of Jesus provides evidence for the validity of shared death experiences. But how could you possibly know what (if anything) actually happened during the Resurrection? Your answer: I know because it was a shared death experience; and I know what those are like. That is a circular argument--more crap logic. Again, you'd probably do better to just focus on modern reports (IMHO).
    Just the opposite. The shared death experiences provide evidence that the events reported in the Christian New Testament could have happened.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    So despite your claims to be dealing with the world as it really is, you are relying just faith, too. The difference is that I have faith in God and you have faith in someone selling a book. Good luck with that, YesNo.
    It perhaps could all be generalized to faith or belief.

    There might be different levels of belief. Some things we take for granted like common sense. We don't call common sense a belief, but it is. We like to think of it as a bunch of obvious facts. Other things contradicting common sense we might explicitly believe in even though they contradict what we think are facts. These would be miracle stories. They are miracles because they contradict our common sense facts, but we still believe in them. I prefer avoiding miracle stories. If a miracle occurred it tells me to reset my common sense to allow for such things to occur.

    How does this relate the the OP?

    The question is whether a good God can exist with the existence of suffering. I view suffering as a way to learn. In trying to avoid it we make adjustments so the next time the suffering will be less.

    For those who don't believe in God, the question shifts to whether suffering implies that the universe is not good. I don't think that is true either. In other words I disagree with the message in the "Melancholia" movie: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/melancholia-2008 However, that puts me at odds with religious people who believe the universe is bad and something they must save themselves from or be saved from by someone else.

    That is where the arguments about evolution enter the discussion. Does the suffering to life through climate change resulting in evolution and extinction imply that the universe is not good? I don't think so. Suffering motivates species to change. What I think is the case is that what we mean by evolution is clouded by bad metaphors that emphasize suffering, survivalism and unconsciousness rather than the agency of the living organisms involved in the process.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I am not following this.
    Pigs can fly. You know that famous story of the pigs flying 2000 years ago? Well that never happened. See? Pigs can fly.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Just the opposite. The shared death experiences provide evidence that the events reported in the Christian New Testament could have happened.
    But how do I know whether those pigs 2000 years ago (the ones that didn't fly) were actually flying? Simple: because pigs can fly, it provides evidence that those pigs 2000 years ago were flying. And those pigs flying 2000 years ago in turn provide evidence that pigs can fly.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    It perhaps could all be generalized to faith or belief.
    Fine. Have faith in what you choose.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-30-2015 at 12:49 PM.
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    Free will and choice? The supernatural? I think I understand the very common human desire for some sort of "overseer" or god. Much has been said here about terrible things happening to good people and the desire to believe that there is a reason for it, either the individuals choices or some supernatural being putting these events in motion. I believe it is neither. I choose to live in California in an old non-earthquake strengthened house. It could fall down on me before I type the next word here or it could happen the hour after I move to some non seismic area. There could be a major quake and I could "luck out" and not be hurt. I could spend a small fortune on seismic retrofitting and the house could still fall apart depending on the type of quake, it's strength and direction. I could be taking out the garbage and the house falling wouldn't affect my physical health.
    It is an interesting subject to discuss and has been for ever but, in my humble opinion, there is no answer and certainly not a supernatural answer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Pigs can fly. You know that famous story of the pigs flying 2000 years ago? Well that never happened. See? Pigs can fly.
    I'm still not following this, but it probably doesn't matter.

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