Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Subjective Faith

Recently on a Message board I defended Keirkegaard's idea of fiath as subjective. A fellow Christian said to me:

I think you have fallen into the trap of letting the
>atheists set the agenda fort the meaning of the word
>I answered:
That's so very irnonic. Becasue by embracing the subject Object dichotomy you are doing nothing more than affirming the atheist world view. There is no way to be a Christian and affirm the subject/object dichotomy in the strict "good/bad" framework, with subject = bad, object = good that atheists impose.

That is empirically and Biblically the case. When God speaks thorugh Jerimaiah and describe the new covenant (ch 31) he says "the new covmenat will not be like the old one, for the broke the old one. NO longer will a man say to his neighbor "know the lord" for they will alll know me from the least to the greatest."

Now laws are objective. Rules are objective. He's saying they broke the objective covenant the one based upon rule keeping. They new one will be subjective (they will all know me--knowing is a jubjective matter because it depends upon the indivuaul's percetions).

so he's saying the objective coveneant will be overturned in favor of the subjective covmenat, the one based upon personal experince.

You have fallen into the trap of not being up to date on Heidegger and not being well versed int he thierkers of the tradition, such as Kierkegaard.

Ethical Paraidigms

Many atheists support the notion of morality based upon what is teleological ethics. The end or outcome or the goal is the point. It is the achieved goal tha makes an action moral. The prime exmaple of this form of ethics is Utilitarianism; life is a trade off of pursuit of pleaure and avoidence of pain. the highest goal to which one can aspire morally is to aid othes avoidence of pain.

Of course who could forget that gem of the Utilitarian hit parade, "the grestest good for the geraest number."My view is represented by the deontological school of ethics. to be more prescise, rule deontology is my bag.

The basic concept here is that morality is grounded in duty and obligation. Rule deonology says that all rules must be observed from a standard of following duty and promoting obligation, and keeping these rules determines the morality of a given standard.

Deontology is unfairly criticized as blind rule keeping is often confussed with empty legalism. Quite the conrrary, I think I'm very unlegalistic type of person. Rather than insiting up rule keeping at, my level of ethical standard is one in wich the attempt to fulfill duty or keep an obligation is enough to make an action ethical, so that the agent need not even succeed at keeping the rule.

If I said that actions must confrom of rule keeping I would be a "act deontologist."

On the other hand the notion that actions are judged by their outcomes is "act utilitarianism." Whereas the idea that general percipoles shoudl foster outcomes such that pleasure over pain is promoted is called "rule utilitiarianism." Act utilitairainism is often noted for producing extremes.

Teleological or consquential ethics (HRG's bag) is well know among liberals. It's the brand of ethics most often embraced by liberals and humanitsts (which doesn't mean that I'mn not a liberal and humanist--although Christian humanist).

Even though most liberals tend to embrace teleological ethics, most ethecists do not. Teleological ethics fell into disvaor in the 30s, and has been on the decline every since. IN the 1960s it was considered that John Rawls of Oxford drove the final nail in the coffin when he proved that teleological ethics reduces the indivudal to a faceless aggregat at the bottom of a business ledger.

That would be the key to my attack upon consquentialist ethics, it does not take account of the fine feeling of the indiviual to keep his/her sense of duty of obligation, but urges the indiviudal to do immoral acts and to betreay his or her own personal sense of the moral in order to fulfill some aggreagate sum such as "greatest good for the greatest number."

this can be demonstrated in most life theory games, where one is led to believe that the old lady and the presit must be chucked over the side they can't row as fast.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Rise of Right Wing "Fundism"

On my board someone echoed Sam Harris's (End of Faith) sentiment that liberal theology didn't do enough to stem the tide of the "fundies." The liberal theologians didn't criticize them enough. While that may be true to a certain extent, it's understandable why they didn't. But we can't find much decent analysis about the reasons for the right-wingization of American religion. I think I can shed some light on that isn't often shed. But one must realize that fundamentalism goes way back in American clutter. There are many good books written on the phenomenon of American conservative mentality and American religion. Martin Marty was one the beast Historians of American Civil religion. Another excellent source is a book by McLaughlin on American Revivals. I think if I recall its called Awakenings in America or something like that. There's also a guy named Smith with a revival book. I read all of this back at Perkins, under the tutelage of Billy Abraham.

As to the charge that liberal leaders didn't do enough to discourage it:

That is absolutely ignorant. The guy (Sam Harris) has no understanding of history. I get the idea he doesn't even bother to do historical research about any of the statements he makes. He probably thinks his understanding of history is so good he doesn't need to research it.

Fundamentalism goes way back in American culture, back to the founding of the original 13 colonies, but it was really structured the way we know it today by the civil war. Calvinist mentality created a degree of guilt over the failure to obtain wealth. That set the conservative mind set in American culture, as each new shifting in American landscape, Wallace's "chaining of the Maze ways" brought new and deeper retest into the mythical "golden age of the past" when people were truly virtuous and faith was truly faithful; the great "golden age" the Reagan era kept evoking.

W.W.I played a major role too, and most of what we know as the fundi movement came about as a result of the shift from post millennialism to pre mil. But of course that was connoted by WW1 and the civil war. But I would be totally remiss if I didn't include the two great awakenings, especially the second one, as the real seed bed of fundamentalism.

Essentially, Post millennialism was liberal, although believing liberals not the 19th century European kind; but socially liberal, abolitionist, progressive era crusaders, social Gospels and the like; in fact there was a major feminist egalitarian movement among Evangelicals in the mid 19th century, that would also figure into the post mil mix. Post millers said we will make the world a better place through our Christian social reforms and Christ will return to find a Christian world. that's where the phrase "Christian century comes from."

So they had all these well meaning liberal crusading types who had very strong Christian triumphalism but only in a purely liberal social sense. That's how they thought of Christian victory. Some of the early influences coming out 2nd great awakening were in the Charles Finney camp.

But after the civil war all that began to change. Post mil began to waver, the war turned everyone cynical and convinced them that post minims wasn't going to work. It also brought in right wing groups, anti-foreigners, anti immigration, anti-reform, or conservative reform such as prohibition of liquor.

If you saw Gangs of New York, the Cutter chatter (the Butcher played by Daniel Day Lewis) represented that kind of thinking. The beginnings of the Jung ho American New York hard hat type.

at this point the mid to late 19th century, liberals in America were growing strong. They didn't have televangelists but they had guys like them, and the most famous ones, such as Horace Bushnelll, were liberal. They did criticize fundies, except there weren't many fundies in the contemporary sense. But that didn't matter because the incoming right winners who themselves as preaching the social Gospel and carrying on the torch of Finney and holiness movement, but the center was slipping over to the right.

After W.W.I post minims was totally dead. Everyone figured cyclically that the world get worse and worse, the war made them see it this way. so the new right wing fundie pessimism was born; the word will get more and more evil until Christ comes back and saves a tiny little remnant from a vastly evil black antichrist world.

Then they started with pre-mil thinking; we can avoid all that because the rapture will come first. Meanwhile the real liberals had no more post millennialism, they had enough of that and began embedding the 19th century Germanium liberalism and questioning the whole faith and rewriting the faith to exclude any super naturalism and taking out all aspect of what fundies consider true faith.

But the funds were largely confide to camp meetings and tent revivals, the rural areas. They were thought of as uneducated hicks, or deep inner city dwellers in Greta poverty. But it was after WW 2 brought them to California and other places, to the city to work in defense that they became part of main stream America and their views began to take over the air waves as they became prosperous enough to buy air time and respectable enough to avoid ridicule.

Reinhold Neibhur tried to instigate a show down with Billy Graham in the 50s over anti-communism. But he couldn't go very far because he would have been seen as a communist. He had an uphill battle because his position was complex and people preferred Graham's simplistic optimism of "get saved and beat communism."

By the 60 the liberals were so far out they weren't even in the ball park of faith anymore, or those that were so shell shocked by the seeming secularization that when the Jesus movement came along they eagerly embraced it because it seemed great; be a Christian hippie meant for them being open and caring about others and living up the social gospel at last. but people like Graham just used it to try and drain off young people protesting the war. So by the late 80's the church was ready for taking over by the Regents and the extreme right wing. The overall center of the country moved right and the funds didn't seem so far out anymore

Descartes,Epistemology, and Phenomenology

We tend to think of epistemology as fashioned by Descartes. the rationalist constucts a neat little system for obtaining certain knlwedge. At the time that Descartres came up with the cogito Europe was emboiled in a crisis of skepticsm. The Skeptics weren't just anti-religious, though, they were Calivnists! The Calvinists challenged chruch authority, and the chruch was the gate keeper of knowledge. So Descartes' system was aimed at wrecking the arguments of the Calvinists, who despized reason and militated for faith as the ulimate route to knoweldge.

Descartes failed in that he didn't bring everyone back to the RCC, but he succeeded beyond his wildest in that he established the method of empirical scientific proof thorugh statistical verifcation, or helped to do so. Since that time we have tenede to think of epistemology as a need little disciplien that sets out a systemstic system and 1,2,3 we have the truth because we know how we know.

But it doesn't work that way in moderity. Things are too complex. One thing that happened since WWII was a current in German thought that goes back to Brintano and the 19th century came to fruition in the guise of a Nazi, even one accepted in the land of the Nazi deafters.

I speak of course of Heigeggerian epistemology. That is a very appropriate juncture for a Christian to move into thinking about epistemolgy, since Heidegger was influenced by two major christian thinkers, in the liberal tradition; the 'father' of modern liberal theology, Schleiermacher, and the "father" of modern existentialism, Keirkegaard. Both were devout christians.

This phenomenological persective runs parell to the persective of mystical religoius experince, which is the most sure fire safe guard on faith of which I know.

Heideggerian phenomenology proceeds from a point of allowing the phenomena to suggest their own categories. Rather than "gathering" all data into a heap and forcing it into pre conceieved categoreis, the phenomenologist begins with the root of the experince in sense data and phenomena, and rather than insisting upon filing it where he thinks it goes, he mentally allows the phenomena to suggest its own category.

That means in practicle terms expeiencing the presence of God rather than insisting thorugh rationalistic means that God exists and God is thus and so. One experinces God and then comes to an understanding of the nature of God.

Now I'm not saying that this can be a total empistemology in and of itself. We also have emprical knowledge and revelation. But you know my view on revelation of the Bible, that is a recored f peopel's experinces of god; that is very phenomenological. rather than be dictated their theological tennets, they recorede their expeinces and that becomes the tennet as the community comopares it to its own experinces; the dialetical presence model of inspiration that Barth and others spoke of.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

God imged as big Sky Dadday or great adminstrarotr in sky?

I have traffic hit counters that trace where visitors are coming from. We have quite a collection of international reders:

45 United States
23 United Kingdom
8 Thailand
5 Ireland
3 Canada
2 Australia
2 Singapore
2 - -
1 Korea, Republic Of
1 Indonesia

I do notice that I've lost ground among UK readers. I guess I'm just not as interesting to UK people as I used to be.

The reason I mention it is because I can follow the links and see where they came from, that is what sight brought to me. One such site was a post on some message board in which the poster made the remarkable observation that the God of the Bible is not a very good administator. The poster seemed to be quite serious about it. Of curse one might think having a whole universe to run is a big deal, but this guy seemed rather emphatic that God has really screwed it all up. For example, all those wars in the Bible. He made such an incredibly frail creation in man, we just canm't keep oursevles out of trouble; all God's fault of course. Atheism forbid that we should ever take responsiblity for our own actions. Its' all because God is such an inept creator that he just couldn't make a perfect speicies.

Of course, unique and original as this line of reasoning must be, it seems flawed somehow. I think the real flaw is in the incessent need that sketpics have to blame teh father. Its' truely freudian, they playout their battles with the superego by construing God as the Big Sky Daddy. Of course i must say, the Bible doesn't help matters that much by occaisoinally portraying God in ths manner. The Bible, chruches, religion in general all set up the image of the big man in the sky with a white beard on a big throne watching us all and decing who get's zapped. That kind of thinking hangs over religious thought like a stench, causing us to reflect upon God as though he were just another drunk in bar on saturday night. We all probably have a sneaking supscion that we could do better than the big white beard guy. We probably could, the thing is, that's not God. It's hard to think of it as not God, because incessently relate to God in such a way as to give that impression. It also could be the case that in those passages where God is portrayed this was a similar public image probelm from that time and perhaps the author's own Fruedian thing at work back then.

The truth of it is there are coutner images where God is imaged as female, or even non human, in the actual Bible. The number of passages in the OT where God is picutured sitting as a big man on a throne are not that many. I can think of Job, and couple in Isaiah, and a couple in Esserah. The word used for God and most often tralstaed "Lord," El Shaddi, means "brest."

"El Shaddai The God who is Sufficient

from the website Hebrew Letters by SARAHLEAH

EL SHADDAI is usually translated as GOD ALMIGHTY - EL, meaning GOD and SHADDAI being a combination word - SHE, meaning WHO and DAI meaning ENOUGH. EL SHADDAI GOD WHO IS ENOUGH, GOD WHO IS SELF-SUFFICIENT (Hagigah 12a). SHADDAI may also be from the Akkadian sadu, meaning MOUNTAIN, or the Hebrew sadeh, meaning BREAST. EL SHADDAI would then be translated respectively as GOD OF THE MOUNTAIN or GOD OF THE BREAST. Variant spelling - EL SHADAI “Adonai appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai” (Exodus 6:3).

(Zohar. 1984. Tr. Harry Sperling et al. New York: Soncino. 3:130).

Jacob giving last instructions to his sons said:

Gen 49:24-25.(24) "But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God (El) of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)25 Even by the God (El) of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty (Shaddai), who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb..."

(For other references to this same usage, see Isaiah 60:15-16 and Isaiah 66:10-13.)

For the full list of female imagery of God:

There are also many ensconces in scripture where God is imaged in female or motherly terms:

Deu 32:11 "As an eagle stirs up her nest, and hovers over her young, and spreads her wings, takes them up, and bears them on her wings.

Deu 32 :18 "Of the Rock that bore you, you were unmindful, and have forgotten God that formed you." (that one may be hard to get, baring children--female image).

Job 38:8 "Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb."

Job 38:29 "From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven."

Isa 45 9-10 Woe to you who strive with your Maker, earthen vessels with the potter. Does the clay say to the one who fashions it: What are you making, or Your work has no handles? Woe to anyone who says to a father: What are you begetting? or to a woman: With what are you in labour?

Isa 49:15 "Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. (comparing God's attitude toward Israel with a woman's attitude toward her children).

Isa 66:13 As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

Hosea 13:8 "I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs, and will tear open the covering of their heart";

Mat 23:37 and Luk 13:34 Jerusalem, "Jerusalem, the city that kills its prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing."

But my point is not just that God can be imaged as female. A female could possibly also be thought of as a bad administrtor. There are also images of God that compare the divine to non human: hens, bears, egals, chickens, whirl winds, consuming fires, sotrms, darkness, light. The point is really that God is not an adminstrator. There is no passage that implys that God set up the world to opporate as some form of public works project. Even though God is often compared to kings, taht is no reason to understand creation as a Kingdom in the sinese of a nation state.

The virulent atheist is fond of thinking of religious people as week and needing a crutch. We could just as eaisly think of the atheist (or at least that knee jerk type of atheist) as obressed with castrating the father, and needing an authority figure to best. The problem is in trying to think of God in a way that doesnt conjure up some athropomophic image projected into the heavens, while not losing the warm fuzzy of the parental images. I don't think this is possible. There is no such image that is both human and none human at the same time. Givent he track record of athropomorphizing, it might not be a bad idea to try to think of God in other ways; like the laws of physics for examle, or as some kind of strange attractor (even strage attractors are not real things).

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Gournd 0

Donald Trump doesn't like the proposals for re-making ground 0. The proposals call for modern archetecture to be applied to new desinged commemorting the tragedy and the subsequent spirit of triumph. Trump wants to build back twin towers that look almost like the orignals. That to me is very emblemeatic of his generation and the American unorigniality syndrome. Trump and his Ilk, the geniuses who destoryed America's landscape and covered the country in asphault, have no more originality than to just rebuild, which would be the greatest insult to the dead, as though the events of 9/11 had no meaning and never happened.

I think the problem goes deepr than that. I think it's really becasue most Americans have no appreication for the arts. Trump is kind of like the super average American. Not that the Average American can be rich, but the Average american worships wealth and aspires to be like Trump. This sort of anti-intellectual mentality places no value upon atheistics, so the concept of commeneration through astheitics is probably a part of a by-gone era. In the one-dimensional world of Donald Trump remaking the landscape in the shape of the preivous landscpae is just another way to commemorate the only value that can survive in a mercantile age; that of erecting monuments to wealth and power.

Monday, May 16, 2005

what a quick way to get a head ache?

On "Christian Froums" a set of boards that exist for the benifit of atheists so they can look more intelligent than Christians, I've bee having the kind of discussion I hate; all about the ontolgoical argument.

I woud noramlly love discussing that argument, but only if I had someone to discuss it with who know and cared about logic. Most atheists hate logic. They try to pretend that atheism is so much more loigcal than Christianity, but when confronted with real logial arguments (I mean s5modal) they just fold up and strat mocking and openly say logic is no good,it doens't tell us anything ect ect. Some have gone so far as to deny the validity of modus Ponines and some even deny the law of non contradiction! Anything to avoid the horrible conclusin that God can't not exist.

Here's what most people mean by "logic:" "I like X, whoray for X." If you disagree with X you are illogical. Most people do not know that logic has rules, they think that it's just a matter of having a "cool" opinion. So when they say "Christianity is not logical" they really mean "Christianity is not cool."

Here's another aspect of logic that these atheists couldn't handel:

X cannot be p

q = p

therefore, X cannot be q.

they deny the loigc of this. First they denied it in terms of God arugment when the symbolic value represented these concepts:

X = necessity

q = possiblity

p = contingency.

first they deneied the idea that:

if X cannot be contingent and it cannot be impossbile then it must be necessary. Therefore, if God cannot be contingent, and cannot be impossible, then God must be necessary.

Then they denied it in the form above when they didn't know the values.

In four threads of about 4 pages each not one single atheist made a single argument based upon loigc but they all said the OA was illogical.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I am in trouble i need help

I am as far down as I've ever been in life. PLease help.

read all about it.


Monday, May 09, 2005

Bad Moon on the Right

I can't find an article to Chris Hedges article in Hapers for this moth, but it's a very important article: "feeling the hate of the Religious Right." So here's a link to an article about the article.


I Just saw Hedged talking about this on "Democracy Now" On Free Speech TV. It's a terrible thing to wake up and released I've had my head in the sand. I've known for a long time what the religious right is about, but have paid less and less attention on the assumption that; (1) I can't do anything about it; (2) Americans love to sin and even if the RR establishes theocracy it wont last long.

That later point might have a point to it. But I think we should all be aware of the religious right's agenda. I also want my non Christian friends to be aware of the fact that a minority of hip Christians have always tumbled to the agenda of the Christian fascists, and we are not pleased or amassed. I now see that minority growing. That in itself gives me a bit of hope.

The alarming problem is that most Christians, most Evangelicals are just not willing to listen. 90% are good people who want to please God and have no political savvy so they have no idea what is being said by these people. But the religious right's agenda is to marginalize everyone not a member of their movement. Hedges traces the roots of that movent from the modern Falwell and so on to the segregation's of the 60s to the Ku Klux Klan.

It's in the latest issue of Harpers, we should all read it.