Friday, January 20, 2012

The Importance of Humans and the Importance of Self Acceptence

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Quote Originally Posted by Dr Pepper View Post
Some theists will say that Atheism is a self-centered ego-centric belief since does not acknowledges a superior being. I maintain that it is exactly the opposite case.

Theists maintain that they are so important that they had to be created special in the image of a God. Not only that, but said God is concerned about them personally to the point that it cares about their behavior, even about who they sleep with. In addition, they are so loved that all they have to do is believe in a specific dogma and they will be resurrected from death to spend eternity in a special place specifically designed for them.

This has got to be one of the most bizarre ideas a mind can conceive. And they have the audacity to call atheists self-centered and egotistical.
It has always been very curious to me how atheists can so thoroughly warp the meanings of the gospel and then when one straightens them out it doesn't even phase them that they got it wrong. This mess really muddles the Gospel and totally distorts Christian belief. We find out latter in the thread that he knows he's doing that.

Theists maintain that they are so important that they had to be created special in the image of a God.
This makes it sound like theists (Of cousre by that he means Christians) thnk they personally were created special but other humans were not. In fact of course Christians believe that human are created in the image of God.


Not only that, but said God is concerned about them personally to the point that it cares about their behavior, even about who they sleep with.
That creates the impression that God is just concerned with a given Christian sleeping with the wrong person. Can you imagine God telling a Christian woman "that guy isn't rich enough, you need to be sleeping with this other guy." That's how he makes it sound. Not only is it all people that God is concerned with but not because of some petty sense or micro-managing of sleeping arrangements. It's about emotional behavior and what we do to hurt others.
In addition, they are so loved that all they have to do is believe in a specific dogma and they will be resurrected from death to spend eternity in a special place specifically designed for them.
Of course it's not about getting off easy with some specialty dogma. It's not the act of accepting dogma that saves its the act of trusting Jesus' atonement on the cross that saves. Jesus death on the cross is God's statement of solidarity with humanity. When we accept and trust that statement we are in effect returning the agreement of solidarity with God. If we re in solidarity God has forgiven us a prori. That means the act of trusting trusting God's solidarity (his desire to identify with and be related to us) creates the ground of forgiveness. That's an act of love basically. It's not meeting a requirement for special belief system that saves us but God's love and your acceptance of God's forgiveness.

This has got to be one of the most bizarre ideas a mind can conceive. And they have the audacity to call atheists self-centered and egotistical.
Actually I think self centered is really a compensation for lack of self acceptance.I've shown that there are studies* that show atheists have low self esteem.

People with low self esteem often seem to think that those who have self confidence or a positive self image are arrogant and egotistical. Those who are truly egocentric are trying to compensate for real feelings of inferiority or fears about their ability. One thing that atheists can't accept is the fact that knowing God will fix your self image if you allow it to. I used to have a total inferiority complex and feelings of self loathing. Atheists always accuse me of being egotistical becuase I know I'm loved and I'm confident in who I am in the Lord. To them that's unforgivable pride. I also don't see any reason to persuade the otherwise. The prospect of making posts that say "I am humble, I really am" is absurd.

DP makes it sound like he thinks Christians believe God creates only Christians in the image of God. Yet latter he admits he knows better, he just thinks Christians make it sound that way. Well maybe some do. I can see making that criticism of the fundie Calvinist types. Yet HRG (the Austrian Mathematician and atheist guru of the CARM atheist board) answers a question in saying that "man is the only known measure of all things." So how does that make atheism sound?




*part 2

14 comments:

MrMinder said...

I think it's easy to understand why the realization that God shows us solidarity (as you put it) and that we can show him solidarity, might just raise our self-image :)

Metacrock said...

good point

MrMinder said...

Yeah, I mean if there is nothing beyond or more fundamental than a careless universe, how is that supposed to make you feel special as a human and as a person? If I might make an example, in one of his Discworld novels, Terry Pratchett has one of the main protagonists say that humans have to believe in certain big lies (like fairness and compassion) in order to be able to live in a universe ultimately devoid of justice and mercy.
Now of course people have different opinions on these sorts of issues, but I still wonder how people can bear the burden of having to create love, honour and optimism by themselves. If God is a lie, then what measure is a man truly?

Metacrock said...

"Yeah, I mean if there is nothing beyond or more fundamental than a careless universe, how is that supposed to make you feel special as a human and as a person? If I might make an example, in one of his Discworld novels, Terry Pratchett has one of the main protagonists say that humans have to believe in certain big lies (like fairness and compassion) in order to be able to live in a universe ultimately devoid of justice and mercy."

Excellent insight I agree. Makes me think of several things:

(1) I think athesim is born of cynicism primarily. That puts me in mind of my favorite quote form Joseph Campbell, "cynicism appears as insight to the cowardly mind."

(2) If things like justice and comparison are big lies and if we are just organisms in a cold universe with no creator why do we need big lies? why don't we just respond to life naturally like animals?

MrMinder said...

(1) I think athesim is born of cynicism primarily. That puts me in mind of my favorite quote form Joseph Campbell, "cynicism appears as insight to the cowardly mind."

I think in some cases that cynic attitude is born out of ignorance and bigotry, while in other cases it comes from a world-weary mind. Would I be incorrect in assigning Prof Dawkins to the former group?

I agree with your second point. Evolution seems to prefer primitive, ruthless and amoral sexual predators (like insects) - but then again, in a exclusively naturalistic universe, it would be incorrect to say that evolution "prefers" anything. I guess Terry Pratchett at heart realizes that humans are special in some way. After all, his stories are all about the importance of myths and imagination, two of the things that make humanity truly unique.

Dave said...

I posted a reply here 10+ days ago. I am not sure if comment moderation is still necessary, but in any case the comment vanished into the ether. I cannot replicate it, but I can make another. In fact, I noticed something I missed before so I will make two. Now that I look again, make it three.

This first one has to do with Metacrock's ongoing attitude problem toward atheism and atheists in general. He is well aware of it, so naming it isn't a surprise. Yet I state that it is no better to try to dress up studies to make atheists seem as if they are lacking self-esteem than it is for atheists to do the same with other studies to show that theists aren't as bright as non-believers.

This same issue extends to claiming that atheism is primarily rooted in cynicism, which is then linked to cowardice. That is no better than atheists saying that theism is rooted in gullibility, and then linking gullibility to ignorance. Many atheists are truly open-minded and curious and have very good reasons for their disbelief.

Metacrock will say, "Oh yes, there are such and such exceptions, I am talking about this particular type or only of atheists from this site", but when someone tries to make a similar arguments against theists he is quick to take them to task either for A) lumping all theists together with a smaller group of theists or B) insisting that a privileged smaller group of theists speaks for theism not the larger majority.

To follow up on this pattern, I recently visited Metacrock's discussion board out of curiosity, and at the top was a post in which he told an atheist that maybe God was giving him clues to God's existence but that the atheist really didn't want to notice or accept them.

It follows the pattern established already in this thread, in some posts at this blog, and at this site's sister blog Atheist Watch. It is no more fair to tell an atheist that she really knows God is real deep down but refuses to explore or accept that intuition than it is for atheists to claim that God is just a delusion and that theists don't want to explore or accept that kind of thinking.

None of this speaks to a sense of mature self-esteem on either side. The constant need to prove oneself and defend ones views by attacking others through uncharitable generalizations and self-serving denigrations of other views, whether theist or atheist or some other label, suggests very deep-seated insecurities.

Whether this is the impression intended or whether it reflects the reality outside of the arguments, that's the impression that comes through with that kind of bickering. After all, isn't it the kid with low self-esteem who goes around picking fights and carrying a chip on his shoulder?

There are ways to debate and discuss that don't blatantly display an axe one boils to grind. Engaging with others who argue in that fashion and mirroring their approach may not be the best strategy for rising above the fray of bitter and fruitless discourse.

I don't say this to suggest Metacrock is in fact insecure or lacking in self-esteem. I mention it as a word of caution about appearances and getting caught up in the drama of those who need to vindicate themselves by debasing others.

Debate opponents should be treated with charity and respect and given the benefit of the doubt, and if that is not possible, it is probably best to not engage with them. My own failures in this regard attest to this axiom.

Dave said...

Or to summarize my previous comment, never get into a pissing contest with skunks.

Dave said...

Second posting, still not on point from my original lost comment. I give the caveat that I am only working with the quoted excerpt and the text of the original blog post above.

1. I don't see the quote as saying only Christians are made in God's image, but rather that Christian's feel the need to believe that they (as humans) are made in God's image, and only humans are so made. Yes, that does sound arrogant, recalling the Great Chain of Being in which humans were the most perfect form to be found below the angels.

This kind of thinking also led theologians to literally place humans as the most important thing on Earth and the Earth at the center of the universe. However, for those who champion contemplative mysticism and non-duality, the cockroach and the dark oily sludge at the bottom of an old dumpster are also made in God's image. The insult some people feel at reading that illustrates said human vanity at work.

2. I don't see the quote about God micro-managing sleeping arrangements, but rather about God caring about who we choose to have sex with. Metacrock appears to acknowledge this when he slips in the bit about emotional behavior and the consequences of our choices, but this also misses the point as I would take it, which is again why God would want to be involved with humans to such a detailed degree. It also raised the specter of God's personification and anthropomorphism and God made in the image of a community's social landscape, with issues such as why God would "want" things that sound suspiciously like culturally specific norms.

3. While Metacrock parses the term dogma on a technicality, he then turns around and states that "its the act of trusting Jesus' atonement on the cross that saves" and one's "acceptance of God's forgiveness" that saves people.

Now technically, these beliefs are dogmas, even if the acts they suggest are not dogmas. But after splitting those hairs, the basic thrust of the objection from the quote remains: that people have to perform those acts in order to benefit from a plan that God laid out especially for humans. Not for other species, not for life on other worlds, but for a single species on Earth.

This is indeed how Christianity states the case, whatever some theologians may or may not write. And it isn't about whose fault that is, it is still how it is. Stated in that way the Christian proposition is indeed absurd. Some force that created everything wants members of single species to believe a particular story to go to heaven and avoid hell. To call it a superstitious fairy-tale would be generous.

If, instead, the story was a culturally-framed and metaphysically encoded catalyst for rewiring one's ontological perspectives and shifting one's orientation to existence, then the value of the narrative goes beyond a misguided quest for historical accuracy to a form of historical validity, that whether or not the stories happened in just this or that way they absorb and resort cultural memory into a form necessary to overcome the blinders and limitations of common errors in perception and even it's own biases.

This creative reconstruction of oral tradition, poetry, etc moves the participants beyond where the limitations of their own history by appropriating it in new ways. It is a continuity by revision, as old paths become too well worn and its travelers complacent. Such revitalization is disruptive as the narrative reorganizes itself, which can lead to schisms and branching of narratives.

The thing is, to accept such a view would mean that the re-imagined cultural memory/narrative as catalyst is not going to be valid for everyone at all times. Societies may swap elements from these narratives and some individuals may find as much enlightenment from being liberated from one story as others are in embracing it. The cultural construction itself is only as true as one's own experience can allow, and no amount of philosophy or science or debate can change that.

Dave said...

The third full comment, on the issue raised in the original lost comment, will have to wait a bit for more free time.

Dave said...

OK, third reply and related to my original intended comment.

Two points need to be made about the comments: 1. An objective analysis of ideas about God is not based on what people want or prefer; and 2. evolution itself does not prefer any particular form.

The first is simple enough. If our thoughts about the place of humans in the universe is based simply on our vanity or wishful thinking, it will be highly arbitrary and subjective. Nor is the case that a human longing to belong or sense of self-importance can only be explained as evidence of that for which we long.

The second ties in with the first after a little setup. Evolution is the outcome of creative tension between natural forces which tend towards order and stability and those which introduce regularity and ambiguity.

In biological evolution, these are often referred to as mutation and selection. In its original meaning, mutation was any heritable change, but many now use it exclusively for changes to base codes in DNA (or RNA). I use it here in the broader sense.

Selection is generally thought of as either affecting survival until reproduction (natural selection) or enhancing one's chance of access to mates (sexual selection). Other similar processes include sorting, but for our purposes here they fall into the same category.

There are debates as to whether most of the creative aspect lies with the hierarchical genetic/epigenetic regulatory pathways that guide development, with selection eliminating the highly unfit errors or piddling around with the simpler lower level pathways, or whether development is highly plastic and variable, in which case selection can essentially mold the organism over time in adaptive ways to meet challenges in the environment.

Honestly, both scenarios occur, yet people want to know which is typical. Yet both work in the same basic context--if a new pattern of development does not hinder inclusive fitness, that is the capacity to reproduce viable offspring, then that new form will not be weeded out. If another variant in that population out-competes it, it will become less common and in some cases disappear. If a chance occurrence in a small population accidentally kills or sterilizes those with a particular variant, obviously it will also disappear.

Please note that nothing in any of that talks about ruthless or amoral or vicious or aggressive traits as being inherently favorable. Inclusive fitness is ALWAYS a relative term that depends upon the context of a trait within the organism, its population, and the ecological reality in which that population lives.

In some contexts, such traits may be beneficial, neutral, or harmful to the fitness of their bearers. On the other hand traits like being social and empathetic, being predisposed towards cooperation, etc, also have contexts in which they are beneficial, neutral, or harmful to their bearers.

There is a lot of literature about which contexts and which lineages of animals correlate with traits like empathy and cooperation, so one can study it in terms of why they would be advantageous, what biological mechanisms in the nervous and endocrine systems facilitate them, or both. There is especially a lot of writing on why a sense of fairness and a desire for justice would be very useful for highly social animals.

(continued below)

Dave said...

As for imagination, it also has many practical uses and may have arisen as so many wonderful traits do as a consequence of other patterns of development and reorganization in expanding mammalian and particularly primate/anthropoid brains. Our own species particular development of this trait as it is broadly understood has been linked to our hunting and gathering past, but whatever the popular theory for why imagination was retained once it began to emerge one doesn't need a lot of convincing of its utility.

One outcome of our imagination and and its attendant capacity for enhancing self-reflection and displacement (seeing ourselves as agents occupying a past and present) is an awareness of our own mortality. Also, humans think in narratives, and so place their experiences in the context of a meta-narrative which may be religious, philosophical, or scientific in nature*.

We may label our evolved capacities and drives for empathy as compassion, for reciprocity as fairness, for cheater-detection and punishment as justice, and then incorporate them into larger culture-specific stories, but that doesn't make those impulses and feelings true or false.

We may impute such judgements on the associated stories of their origin or purpose, whether they are evolutionary, religious or something else, but they exist in spite of whatever value we attribute to them.

In the end, though, none of this makes humans particularly special, only unique in some ways. Only our stories about ourselves generate the basis for being special or important or plain and unimportant.

Thus, evolution can give compelling evidence and logic explaining both our perception and intuition regarding the issues raised in the comments. That doesn't make these explanations correct, but it does point out that it is unwise to impose or import God as an explanation.

Whenever God is reduced to an idea, whether as a form, movement, proposition, etc, the reduction produces redundancy or contradiction and God becomes superfluous or unintelligible. This either requires segregating areas of experience as "God's turf" (which leads to God-of-the-gaps as knowledge expands) or pitting the concept of God against other ideas and their associated evidence and arguments.

This in turn requires God evidence and God arguments, which must always be as relative and open to criticism and dispute as the alternatives. God becomes a mere idea to accept or reject. When God is not represented either as explanation or justification, these dilemmas are avoided.

-------------
*The evidence suggests that our evolution and development has moved from stimulus detection, pattern-recognition, and cognitive mapping to an unconscious desire to incorporate ourselves into larger created/perceived patterns of meaning, hence our definition and labeling of taxonomies of experience, placing the objects of these groupings into a socially constructed landscape, and then explaining their relationships as a meta-narrative that assigns purpose.

Dave said...

Briefer version: The notion of the "measure of man" (other than being outdated sexist language) is rooted in the part of our thinking/analyzing consciousness that compares and contrasts, that tries to define and label and organize our experiences into smooth and coherent streams.

In that mindset God just becomes a blank slate onto which we project our personal and societal aspirations and values. The part of our consciousness referred to by mystics and contemplatives from around the world which engenders or reveals a unitive perspective has no need for such measures or the grasping of ego/the lesser self.

Ironic, isn't it? Theism and atheism fighting for the same cognitive turf, the same need to control and measure and explain, which still leaves our own egos as the center of reality and the ultimate measure of all things.

As one of my old Buddhist teachers might have said--"Stop measuring!'

Whatever you can measure and comprehend and put in words or feelings is only a self-serving thimble of knowledge in an infinite ocean of wisdom.

Or to paraphrase a quote from a book by Catholic priest, the reality of God is neither limited by or confined to the imagination of our hearts and minds.

Good grief, people. I don't even have any affirmative belief in or any intuitive sense of God (that is, for me God is still just an idea, however fascinating or compelling). Why am I the one pointing this out??? :p

Metacrock said...

Good grief, people. I don't even have any affirmative belief in or any intuitive sense of God (that is, for me God is still just an idea, however fascinating or compelling). Why am I the one pointing this out??? :p

cause you are a freaking Genius! I am seroius.

excellent post man. I think Christian mystics are hip to that nonconstrastive thing too.

Metacrock said...

Dave, there's so much here, when you conduct the seminar course let me know I'll fly up there for the semester.

seriously, as usual you have a lot of good stuff to say I'm happy to have it here. I am going to consider it and make a main blog piece in response. That might take into next week.