1. Illinois
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    15 Aug '08 11:31
    *READ THIS FIRST: The purpose of the RHP Faith Clinic is to address any objections to Christian doctrine by using reason alone. I don't claim to be a master logician, but I am seeking the challenge of using reason by itself to prove at least the portion of Christian doctrine which is amenable to reason. Some of you may take this as a challenge to disprove the possibility of anyone giving a reasonable foundation for Christian faith, and you are more than welcome to try. I ask only that you be hyper-aware of ambiguous, false or fallacious argumentation as much a possible, as I will be attempting to be so myself. If your argument is invalid, please recognize it as such and concede or try a different approach as quickly as possible. If you recognize the validity of another person's argument, try not to stubbornly resist it for too long. The goal in the RHP Faith Clinic is not one-upmanship, but truth. What Christian doctrine cannot be proved by reason alone I will defend by refuting whatever arguments there are against, and what I can prove I will seek to present positive arguments for. I invite other Christians to join me in this enterprise, but I would ask that you refrain from any appeals to the authority of scripture or any attempt to condemn. If you do not have an argument or you aren't willing that your arguments be communally tested for validity, then please refrain from posting. Thanks.
    __________

    The RHP Faith Clinic is now open for business. If no one has anything to start us off with, I'll introduce a beginning topic later on. Otherwise, here are a few questions. What intellectual hurdles in particular stand between you and a belief in God? What about Christian doctrine do you disagree with and why?
  2. Standard memberRajk999
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    15 Aug '08 12:262 edits
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    *READ THIS FIRST: The purpose of the RHP Faith Clinic is to address any objections to Christian doctrine by using reason alone. I don't claim to be a master logician, but I am seeking the challenge of using reason by itself to prove at least the portion of Christian doctrine which is amenable to reason. Some of you may take this as a challenge to dispr etween you and a belief in God? What about Christian doctrine do you disagree with and why?
    Here is one.

    The essence of the teachings of both Christ and Paul can be put in 2 phrases -
    1. Love of God
    2. Love for your fellow man.

    Recently on the thread 'Deep answers' by PB, JW said "love is what we do'. Everybody knows (by using our sense of reason) that love is not about words and talk. And yet many Christians claim thats exactly what God does. He rewards those people who profess to love Him with their mouth.

    So proof of Love cannot be demonstrated by words and talk. You prove your love by doing, by showing, by actions. Without quoting from the bible, using reason alone, show me how that makes any sense. How can God reward someone with eternal life, who has not proved their love by doing, working, showing ?

    The most logical conclusion is that Christ upon His return, will reward everyone who has demonstrated 'love of mankind' by their deeds regardless of their religious beliefs. If you have shown love for your neighbour to the satisfaction of Christ, then it means you have followed the commandments of Chrsit. If you have followed the commandments of Christ it must mean that you love Christ/God.

    Edit : .... therefore to 'love thy neighbour' is in effect 'loving Christ'. Which Christ said very clearly. So even an atheist can love Christ.
  3. Illinois
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    15 Aug '08 19:56
    Originally posted by Rajk999
    Here is one.

    The essence of the teachings of both Christ and Paul can be put in 2 phrases -
    1. Love of God
    2. Love for your fellow man.

    Recently on the thread 'Deep answers' by PB, JW said "love is what we do'. Everybody knows (by using our sense of reason) that love is not about words and talk. And yet many Christians claim thats exactly what God ...[text shortened]... t 'loving Christ'. Which Christ said very clearly. So even an atheist can love Christ.
    If words aren't sufficient for salvation, then neither are deeds. Words may or may not be indicative of the presence of a saving faith. Likewise, deeds may or may not be indicative of the presence of a saving faith. Therefore, we cannot define 'savedness' accordingly. That is, it would be false to say that all who perform good deeds are going to be saved, just as it would be false to say that all who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are going to be saved.

    It would be true to say that all those who have a saving faith (i.e. a 'heart' faith) perform good deeds, but it would not be true to say that all those who have a saving faith profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As you know, scripture clearly indicates that Christ lights the conscience of all men, and some who have never heard of Christ may yet possess a saving faith. Christians can only claim to know that if and when and however anyone is saved, it must be by Jesus, the one and only Savior.

    That's all I have for now; I must get ready to go to work.
  4. Standard memberRajk999
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    15 Aug '08 23:581 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    If words aren't sufficient for salvation, then neither are deeds. ....
    Your argument does not seem convincing.

    All the teachings of the Bible are centered around one word - Love. Using our human reasoning, love only exists when it can be shown and demonstrated through DEEDS. No human will believe that love exist if all they had were WORDS.

    If Christ said that he loved us and came to die for us , those are WORDS. Nobody believed Him until He actually died for us ... thats the DEEDS. Would Christ have any credibility if he was all talk? Would God say that he was 'well pleased' if he was all talk? NO !

    Your reasoning that Christians can be saved by their WORDS appears faulty to me.
  5. Donationbbarr
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    16 Aug '08 05:161 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    *READ THIS FIRST: The purpose of the RHP Faith Clinic is to address any objections to Christian doctrine by using reason alone. I don't claim to be a master logician, but I am seeking the challenge of using reason by itself to prove at least the portion of Christian doctrine which is amenable to reason. Some of you may take this as a challenge to dispr etween you and a belief in God? What about Christian doctrine do you disagree with and why?
    This is an interesting idea, but I am confused as to what it means to conduct a debate using reason alone. Specifically, I am confused as to how you are here construing 'reason'. If you mean by 'reason' just formal deductive inference, then you will at best only be able to show that certain sets of propositions are inconsistent. Perhaps you mean something more broad. Perhaps you mean 'reason' to include strong inductive and abductive inference. If so, good. But be warned that articulating standards for strong inductive and abductive inference is very difficult. What counts as a strong inductive or abductive inference will depend on the prior probabilities of the inductive or abductive base; the premise sets that putatively make probable the conclusions in question. Further, there are some irreducibly normative standards for abductive inference (e.g., elegance, explanatory depth, explanatory power, general coherence with other propositions taken to be antecedently established, etc. ) that are exceptionally difficult, if not impossible, to codify exactly. Do you think there are any nontrivial propositions that can be justifiably believed a priori (one strand of the rationalism/empiricism debate in epistemology)? Do you think there are any propositions that can be justifiably believed in virtue of being believed on the basis of the operation of a generally reliable cognitive process like sensory perception (a question at the heart of the internalism/externalism debate in epistemology post-Gettier)? Do you think that only something with propositional or conceptual content can stand in a justificatory relation to a belief (one strand of Sellars' famous "Empiricism and Philosophy of Mind" )? Or, rather, do you think that conscious experiences without conceptual content can be directly grasped by the mind and used to justify basic beliefs about the empirical world (the hope of internalist foundationalists since Descartes)? Of course, I do not expect you to answer all of these questions, but I do think you should spend some time thinking about what the constraints on this experiment are, and that you should try your best to articulate them before this very good idea gets bogged down by unarticulated and incommensurable conceptions of 'reason'.
  6. England
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    16 Aug '08 09:21
    was christ married to mary? did judas die? did he make any wood carvings at his earth dads house? was he left handed? is this the sort of queries you want
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    18 Aug '08 03:401 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    What Christian doctrine cannot be proved by reason alone I will defend by refuting whatever arguments there are against, and what I can prove I will seek to present positive arguments for.
    I suppose one of the hardest doctrines to explain is the doctrine of an all knowing, and all powerful God who is also a God of love. If God is all these things, then how can this God allow evil into the world? In fact, where did evil come from if God is not the source of it and if he created everything?

    Examples of this delimma can be seen everywhere on RHP. The most recent that comes to mind is the thread about why God allows Christians to die of cancer.
  8. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    18 Aug '08 05:02
    Originally posted by bbarr
    This is an interesting idea, but I am confused as to what it means to conduct a debate using reason alone. Specifically, I am confused as to how you are here construing 'reason'. If you mean by 'reason' just formal deductive inference, then you will at best only be able to show that certain sets of propositions are inconsistent. Perhaps you mean something m ...[text shortened]... d idea gets bogged down by unarticulated and incommensurable conceptions of 'reason'.
    DON'T LISSEN TO DIS VOODOO! HE A WITCH wit' dem fancy languages.
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    18 Aug '08 06:30
    What the hell is going on? Any instigaters here I wonder?
  10. Illinois
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    18 Aug '08 10:53
    Originally posted by bbarr
    This is an interesting idea, but I am confused as to what it means to conduct a debate using reason alone. Specifically, I am confused as to how you are here construing 'reason'. If you mean by 'reason' just formal deductive inference, then you will at best only be able to show that certain sets of propositions are inconsistent. Perhaps you mean something m ...[text shortened]... d idea gets bogged down by unarticulated and incommensurable conceptions of 'reason'.
    I'll get back to you on this, bbarr. Thanks. I'm currently doing a little study to familiarize myself with universal skepticism. My gut tells me that I'll have to reject it outright and settle with the old fashioned way to reason, when terms stood for real essences, first principles, etc. When I'm flying moderately straight, I'll lay out my thinking as best as I can.

    Peace.
  11. Hmmm . . .
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    18 Aug '08 16:07
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    *READ THIS FIRST: The purpose of the RHP Faith Clinic is to address any objections to Christian doctrine by using reason alone. I don't claim to be a master logician, but I am seeking the challenge of using reason by itself to prove at least the portion of Christian doctrine which is amenable to reason. Some of you may take this as a challenge to dispr ...[text shortened]... etween you and a belief in God? What about Christian doctrine do you disagree with and why?
    Although this is getting ahead of bbarr’s prefatory concerns:

    (1) Is the point to argue that Theism/Christianity are more reasonable than any of the alternatives, or as reasonable, or as the only reasonable positions? [For the purpose of these notes, I assume more reasonable.]

    (2) Since one of the great divides in religious philosophy is nondualism versus (supernaturalistic-theistic-) dualism, the theist needs to show that non-dualism is the more reasonable position.

    —I am not excluding straightforward atheism from the discussion. Some nondualists consider themselves also to be atheists, since they treat theism strictly in a dualist sense; on the other hand, some strictly nondualist systems also use the “g-word” (or the “t-word”, theos) just in reference to the one Whole that is ground-of-being. Either way, the question here is to what extent it makes sense to speak of “the Whole”—i.e., ultimately one (cosmos, god-as-cosmos, cosmos-as-manifestations-of-“god” , as opposed to minimally, two (God + cosmos).

    —This debate, from the theist’s point of view, generally centers on one of the so-called “proofs of god”: ontological, cosmological, teleological.

    —I present at least a summary argument for nondualism below.

    (3) Then, the theist needs to show that her/his particular understanding of the claimed god(s) is more reasonable than any of the others.

    —One needs to be careful here of treating the other religions more superficially than one’s own, thereby setting up strawmen (e.g., treating Judaism as the “religion of the ‘old testament’”, or Trinitarian Christianity as “polytheistic”, etc.).

    (4) ”...but I would ask that you refrain from any appeals to the authority of scripture...” In any religion that rests on so-called written revelation, it is the reasonableness of treating that “revelation” as authoritative (and in what manner) that needs to be argued. This is really just a subset of (3), with regard to such religions.

    __________________________________________

    Is it your intention that all religious language be taken as propositional for purposes of this discussion? Since I take almost all religious language to be metaphorical (or as story-myth, or symbolic, or as parable, or as apophatic-paradoxical, etc.), even if there may be some historical background content, I have less and less trouble all the time in using the language from any of the formal religions within the context of nondualism. Like others, I find that “the perennial philosophy” has streams in nearly all of the formal religious expressions (each itself a branching river on the one spiritual ocean).

    “The Holy One manifests
    in a myriad forms;
    I sing the radiance of the forms.”

    —Kabir

    Now, just as “no one has ever seen God” (John 1:18; also 1st John 4:12 and 1st Timothy 6:16), no one has ever seen the Whole—the totality that has no edge, the all-in-all-without-another, etc. From where could one circumscribe the Whole with one’s own perception? How can one perceive the whole Gestalt?—or the ground without figure, or the figure without ground?

    All analogies for the Whole are limited to being drawn from figure-composites conceived against the background. To artificially separate the ground from the figures, and vice-versa—and then to apply names like “god” and “world” to that artificial separation—is, from a nondualist point of view, illusion. [Note that certain optical illusions, such as the Grecian-urn/two-faces example, are often used to illustrate the inseparability of the whole gestalt, except in our perception (and subsequent mental conceptions).]

    When one allows one’s thinking, concept-making mind to go quiet in the simple clarity of awareness of meditation, one simply realizes (perhaps “intuits’ is the proper word, pace bbarr’s post above) the artificiality of separating any figure—including the figure-complex represented by the thought/word “I”—the ground in which the figure appear, move, and pass away. One observes that one’s perceptions are figure-clusters grouped by the brain, distinguished and combined, against the more general ground—and that what now is seen as figure, recedes to the ground as one shifts one’s attention.

    One can also observe one’s thoughts as they arise—against what ground of the consciousness?—combine into flocks, and then pass away like a flock of geese across the sky...

    From observation (meditation is a form of observation), I notice how my perceptions work and how my thinking/concept-making mind works. I note that, in each case, there seems to be a figure-ground gestalt formed—such as “I” and “other”, and the background against which I relate them. I also notice that the “I-complex”—the developed “somebody-self construct” which includes both what is sometimes called the “social self” and how I think about “myself”—is just another figure-composite.

    NOTE: I know nothing really about “gestalt philosophy”; I know a little about gestalt therapy, and am re-reading some stuff in the attempt to apply that language here. Fritz Perls once said that he thought that gestalt therapy really did everything that Zen does, just from a more western, psychological perspective.

    Bbarr might help with the appropriate epistemic language here, but basically:

    (1) I conduct empirical observations in meditation.

    (2) In the course of spontaneous reflection,* I intuit the existential non-separability and “mutual arising” of all the figure/forms (including myself) and the ground from which and in which they arise.

    (3) In subsequently thinking about my observations, I use the descriptive language of figure-ground gestalt. (I might use other language as well, but right now I am using that.)

    (4) I induce from my observations, reflections and thoughts about it: (a) that the entire existential shebang can be reasonably described using the language of figure-ground-gestalt (and the Zen language of non-separability and mutuality); and (b) that it is reasonable to conclude that the figures/forms are manifestations from, in and of the dynamic whole gestalt.

    —In other words, it makes sense to speak of the Whole from which I am manifest, in which I exist, of which I am, and to which I return (i.e., into which the component “strings” of this composite manifestation I call “I” are dispersed). This Whole is the “All-in-all-without-another”, and to which nothing needs to be added.

    — Metaphorically, I am like a current that has arisen in the all-encompassing ocean; that current is inseparable from the ocean, but is transient in form as are all the forms that I observe. Whether or not the ocean (the Whole, the Gestalt) is itself transient, I have no idea.

    [NOTE that my approach here follows roughly the four-fold dynamic outlined by Austin as below.]

    —I am at this point agnostic about what the fact that this particular current is conscious (and self-reflectively conscious) might imply about the Whole. That appears to be a kind of side argument between the Advaita Vedantists and the Kashmiri Shaivites (both thoroughly nondualistic, though the latter uses theistic language metaphorically): The former stress the concept of sat-chit-ananda (privileging being, sat over consciousness, chit) while the latter stress chit-sat-ananda.

    ______________________________________

    * James Austin, in his book Zen and the Brain calls this reflexive interpretation. He identifies four different “categories of experience” in an unfolding sequence attending meditation (or, the so-called “mystical experience” ):

    “1. Raw experience. These first features are not thought about, they happen. They are theologically neutral, and lie far outside any of the person’s prior beliefs, expectations or intentions.”

    —I have described this as simply being aware prior to thinking or conceptualizing about it all all.

    “2. Reflexive interpretations. These are original interpretations which the person formulates spontaneously either during the experience itself or immediately after.

    “3. Incorporated interpretations. These contain references to features of the experience influenced by that particular person’s prior beliefs, expectations, and intentions.”

    —Somewhere between 2. and 3. in Austin’s schema may be what I have previously called “immediate translation”. This is where the mind forms conceptual content from the raw experience: e.g., that one is experiencing an encounter with Krishna or the risen Christ. Austin comments: “Alan Watts noted that devout orthodox believers have so automatically associated the imagery of a lifetime of icons with their emotions that these symbols then seem to lie at the core of their mystical experiences.”** [Austin, p. 22.] However, I have known people whose “immediate translation” seems to have drawn upon other symbols embedded in their consciousness, that stemmed from a different religious paradigm than the one they were theretofore most familiar with.

    4. Retrospective interpretations. These contain references to religious or other doctrinal-type interpretations not formulated until much later, after the experience ends.”

    [Quotes from Austin, pp. 21-22; italics in the original.]

    ** It should be clear that by the term “mystical” I do not mean anything supernatural or occultic. I really simply mean that raw experience described by Austin.
  12. Hmmm . . .
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    18 Aug '08 16:48
    NOTE TO THE ABOVE:

    I have said before that what Austin calls the “raw experience” is ineffable. The effability problem arises because the whole experience is prior to any of the word-thought-name-concepts that we employ in an attempt to “eff” such things, even to ourselves. They are our attempts to map the territory.

    It reminds me of a story Alan Watts once told of flying in an airplane from the U.S. to Canada. At one point, the pilot came over the intercom and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are just now passing over the US-Canadian border.” Watts looked out the window to the ground below, and remarked: “That’s funny, you can’t see it.” There are no gridlines or names in the territory itself; they are all ours. However—

    The issue is compounded by the fact that the territory also includes us as mapmaking consciousnesses. The territory includes me making this map of the territory, which map includes me making a map of the territory . . .

    Non-separability and mutuality of the figure-ground seem to entail that kind of recursiveness. The syntax of the cosmos includes the grammar of our consciousness, but need not be exhausted by it (and I see no reason to assume that it is, while at the same time affirming our attempts to know what we can know by applying that grammar, which is all we have). The grammar of our consciousness is certainly coherent with the syntax of the cosmos, else we would likely not have survived as a species.

    It is further compounded, it seems to me, by the fact that the Whole has no analogy that can be drawn from elsewhere than from within itself and of itself, from among the shifting figure-ground composites that we can perceive from our limited vantage point. All views are perspectival. We have no view from elsewhere, let alone a view from nowhere.

    This is just to convey why I think the effability issue cannot be blithely disregarded, nor is it simply an excuse offered by those who do not wish to think more deeply about the matter.
  13. Hmmm . . .
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    18 Aug '08 17:073 edits
    FURTHER NOTE:

    All of my talk here rests on the empirical base of what Austin calls the “raw experience” (and what I have previously called “bedrock” ). From that experience I intuit certain things (“spontaneous reflection” or “reflexive interpretation” ), and from that employ inductive reasoning. To quote Dr. Scribbles on induction:

    “An inductive argument is an argument whose premises, when true, suggest that the conclusion is true. The degree of suggestion lies along a subjective spectrum of strength. While a deductive argument is objectively valid based on the existence of a proof (or invalid based on the impossibility of a proof), an inductive argument is subjectively strong or weak based on how compelling the beholder finds the evidentiary connection between the premises (facts) and the conclusion.

    "When assessing a deductive argument that you have been presented with, you ask for a proof. When assessing an inductive argument that you have been presented with, you ask for the evidentiary connection between the facts (premises) and the conclusion.”

    I have attempted to articulate what I see as such "evidentiary connections". Whether I have succeeded at all, or failed miserably, remains to be seen. But I cannot provide the empirical ground; that is work that one must do for oneself. And if they draw different conclusions than I have, they can offer their own evidentiary connections.

    The crux of the difference between those whose “raw experience” gives rise to a dualistic-theistic conceptualization, and those whose “raw experience” gives rise to a nondualistic conceptualization, would seem to rest on the nature of their subsequent interpretations (reflexive, incorporated and retrospective—to use Austin’s categories)—including how one views what I have called “immediate translation”; in fact, whether one views it as “translation/interpretation” at all, let alone why one might conclude that it is the correct “translation/interpretation”.
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