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Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:06 pm
by Superstitious Fool
FXR is right. You undoubtedly know more about Catholic teaching than most Catholics of your age.

Evidently you lost the Faith (my apologies; I am consciously using a Catholic term that no doubt most members here find exasperating). So if one may ask a personal question, why atheist activism and not comfortable agnosticism?

Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:43 pm
by Superstitious Fool
inedifix wrote:
Superstitious Fool wrote:If you do want an honest answer (I promise) to questions about us and our beliefs, I'll do my best to answer.
Hi SF, I've a couple of questions:
Answers below.
inedifix wrote:1. You say you have "a violent loathing of liberalism both in religion and in social matters", just for starters, could you perhaps let me know your feelings on homelessness. Does the state have a responsibility to help the homeless and work to end homelessness, or does the responsibility rest with the homeless themselves.
Yes it does. Or rather we all do. I'm not comfortable with the idea of the state as an autonomous entity. It is just a collection of structures and systems that we all own in common. But as such, on our behalf (and not relieving us of our personal obligation to make our own efforts), most certainly the state has that responsibility.
inedifix wrote:2. Likewise, on the subject of homosexuality, do you believe that homosexuals "choose" to pervert their sexual nature (risking family strife, public ridicule, humiliation and physical attack) on purpose, or do you believe that they are responding to innate tendencies/inclinations?
I am not a scientist but from what I am told, it is clear that they do not choose it. Whether it is intrinsic to each individual or the result of some combination of circumstances I do not know — everyone is different. What the Catholic Church says is that people are responsible for what they do, not what they want to do. So according to Catholic teaching, homosexuals have the problem of trying not to act on their sexual feelings. Not being married, I have the same problem; but the obvious answer to that is that I can choose to get married whereas homosexuals cannot choose to be heterosexuals. I realise this is an extremely difficult subject to discuss in terms that both sides accept.
inedifix wrote:3. Is it possible for a person such as yourself to understand God's motivation and morals?
No. Not for anyone. At any moment I can have just one thought. In the background I have attitudes and opinions which derive from an accumulation of my experiences, my reasoning, my emotions and my religious beliefs but my mind is not capable of bringing all those contributing thoughts together at once. God on the other hand is infinite and timeless and contains every reality and event at once. (This is with the usual apologies to people here for talking nonsense in your forum. It would be nice if we had a little typographichal character for that, like Muslims put after Mohammed's name instead of spelling out "Peace be upon him".) The reference to "morals" is a problem. Morals relate to distinguishing between right and wrong. By definition, no such distinction could arise in what God does.
inedifix wrote:4. Is it better for Mass to be said in Latin than English, and why?
Neither is inherently better. What matters is that it is done reverently. When it is done badly, its meaning is obscured from those present. But at a metaphysical level every Mass is the same because it is a re-enactment of the Passion.
inedifix wrote:5. Do you believe all things are created by God?
Yes. To create is to make something out of nothing. What people make out of created things, or do with them, is another matter.

Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:54 pm
by IrishKnight
Well you have to remember that atheism and agnosticism are two very different things.

You can be an atheist agnostic or a theist agnostic. Agnosticism is simply means that one can not prove or disprove that there is a god.

So maybe your question should be "why atheist activism and not armchair atheist?

Personally, why atheist activism? I'm a student...I have nothing better to do :P

But really, coming from a science view of life, I can't really understand why someone would simply accept something based on no evidence at all. I am pretty sure if you showed an atheist true evidence that there is a god, there will be no more atheists.

Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:08 pm
by Superstitious Fool
IrishKnight wrote:Coming from a science view of life, I can't really understand why someone would simply accept something based on no evidence at all.
I know. See my previous post answering the questions another member put to me. It has to do with believing (as I do) that there is an infinite intelligence which my finite mind cannot analyse.

Are we approaching the brick wall here?

I wish I was a student again, but only if I never had to move on.

Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:59 pm
by inedifix
Hi Superstitious,

Nice replies there. You seem like a very intelligent and thoughtful believer. Nice to meet one.

I'm in a bit of a rush so I can't reply just yet, but I will as soon as I can. Just have a couple more questions in the mean time.

1. Do you pray?

2. If so, why?

I

Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:23 pm
by Superstitious Fool
inedifix wrote:Hi Superstitious,

Nice replies there. You seem like a very intelligent and thoughtful believer. Nice to meet one.
Thanks but actually there are quite a lot of us.
infix wrote:1. Do you pray?
Yes.
inedifix wrote:2. If so, why?
If you mean, do I ask God for things — yes. Why? Because I believe (see previous post) that God knows everything that has happened or will happen and that my petition, which I have yet to make, is part of what he knows already and may affect something that he already knows but which is still in the future for me.

There are other kinds of prayer which I do (and most other hard-core believers do also). They are called meditative or contemplative prayer (they are similar but not the same). They are well-tried methods of clearing the mind of actual reality so that it can focus on what is beyond that. I do apologise because I can picture other members here howling in protest at such an irrational notion, but I will go on about this again if you like.

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 5:54 am
by inedifix
Hi Superstitious,

On homosexuality, human nature and God's Will.

You say that “it is clear that they [homosexuals] do not choose it…” and “homosexuals cannot choose to be heterosexuals”. If so, then homosexuality is either wholly natural or a consequence of experience. You believe that God makes/made all things and has authorship of all events - this means that (by your estimation) homosexuality is both natural and God-given (either through personal nature, or the experiences dealt a person by God).

You have also said that it is not possible for a human being to understand God’s motives, that God is above the human moral concept of right and wrong, and that “God… is infinite and timeless and contains every reality and event at once.” So… if God made Person X homosexual, if God knows the entire course of Person X’s life, and if God’s actions and knowledge are beyond the understanding or moral judgement of human beings, then isn’t the Catholic Church making gross assumptions in condemning homosexuality? By doing so, the Church is second-guessing God and assuming God’s role by passing judgement before He does.

On Prayer and God’s plan.

You admit that you do not and cannot know God’s mind. Is it not therefore absurd to presume to change it?

You say: “I believe that God knows everything that has and will happen." Is it not therefore illogical and insulting to ask him to change his eternal plans on your behalf?

How can your petition "affect something that God already knows but which is still in the future for you”? If God "knows everything that will happen” your petition has already been made, without your consent, by God, through you, to himself, in advance of your personal experience. As such, the act of praying, and the content of your prayers, is predetermined, utterly beyond your control, and not your choice, but his.

Perhaps then, as a true believer, a more sincere answer to the question: “Why do you pray?” would be, “because it is part of the narrative God has written for me”. At least there would be no paradox within that answer for an atheist like me to pick apart.

I

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 8:58 am
by nozzferrahhtoo
Superstitious Fool wrote:So if one may ask a personal question, why atheist activism and not comfortable agnosticism?
I can only answer for myself but the answer would come in this form. There is no subject that I am interested in politically or socially or morally where faith isn’t a conversation stopper on the topic. I am militant against religion because religion doesn’t give me a choice.

I would gladly leave people of faith alone and be a comfortable "armchair atheist" as termed above but I am not _let_. Every subject I display an interest in debating or discussing the conversation invariably ends up with "But its gods will and if you disagree with me you will be burning in the fires of hell when you are dead" or some other such reply.

Stem Cell research, war, Homosexuality, Abortion, social morality, law, education curriculum’s, the use of condoms in HIV ravaged Africa.... you name it.... people do not have opinions or evidence or citations to back up their opinions so they just spout out some standpoint and claim god endorses it. The conversation ends there. How can it not?

It is for that reason I would be a militant secularist. As you will have seen from all my posts on your own site I am perfectly ok with people of faith, I just do not accept the use of god in debate. For ANY fact or reason you put forward in debate you are ALWAYS expected to prove that fact or reason. With statistics you show the study and the results. With quotes you cite the person who said them. With studies you cite the paper. With history you cite the history books and newspapers and proofs.

With god..... nothing. People just declare there is a god and then use that to back up a premise. Not..... good..... enough. It is not one rule for theists and one rule for non theists. Non theists back up every claim they make, its not wrong of me to expect the same of theists. If you want to make a second level premise predicated on the first level premise that there is a god.... have the decency to prove your god exists or withdraw the point.

And constantly the damage is uncountable. Homosexuals are actively denied the same rights that we have. The only reasons to support this are arguments from the divine. No one ever gives any other reasons for there being anything wrong with homosexuality.

The HIV ravaged Africas have people preaching the evils of condom use. The ONLY reason given is arguments from the divine. There is NO real reasons for not using condoms and the damage caused by this preaching is all too clear.

Even on your own site you have reference to a family torn apart by grief because they have been told the IVF procedure they underwent was "evil" and now they blame themselves for the cancer their child has. Why is IVF evil? The only reason given is that from the divine. Nothing else.

I really can think of no other area of our discourse where people get away with making claims they cant back up in order to make "second level" claims as I term them.

This is the _only_ problem I have with faith really. For all I know there is a god. For all I know even if there isn’t a god maybe homosexuals ARE wrong and IVF IS immoral. However we can not, and should not, operate on what MIGHT be true, only what we KNOW is true and so far nothing has been shown to support these positions on gays, condoms, IVF etc.

It is possible to be a theist and secular and theistic secular behaviour is all I fight for. Your faith is your own and I have no problems with it. Never have, and I assume never will.

I hope this clarifies my own position at least, I do not know how many other people on this site I speak for. Have a good day, and may your god go with you.

Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 4:27 pm
by Ygern
@ SF:

Why activist atheism instead of armchair agnostic?
I’m not sure why I would want to be an armchair agnostic? I like to point out bad ideas that are doing people harm whenever I can. It’s the pedagogue in me.

Truth be told, I once was a quiet heretic; having worked my way through dogma and doctrine, texts and rituals; and having come to the conclusion that there was little of valuable truth in it. I bought into a lifetime of multicultural indoctrination that stated that people’s beliefs and traditions should be respected. But two problems began to present themselves with this approach. One, multiculturalism was beginning to creak under its own load of earnest, well-intentioned lack of forethought. Two, Believers (I mean people who take their faith seriously) would not give me the same ‘respect’ as I afforded them. They would not accept my unbelief in the way they expected me to accept their belief. Eventually it became clear that I was going to have to be assertive about why I thought that my position was the tenable one.

As you point out yourself, far too many people know nothing about ‘their’ faith. I’m willing to educate them if they want to find out. However, I do not base what I have to say on something I have been taught to accept as The Truth. I try to research what I hear or read. And I try to base my conclusions on evidence and logical progression; not on leaps of faith or assumptions based on apparent patterns.

In return, I have some questions for you.

Do you believe that the foundational text of the Catholic faith (the Bible) is truly the inerrant word of God?

Do you believe that you have the right to take issue with pronouncements made by Church Authorities (such as the Pope or Cardinals) if you find them immoral?

Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:56 pm
by Superstitious Fool
Ygern wrote:Do you believe that the foundational text of the Catholic faith (the Bible) is truly the inerrant word of God?
Yes, but not that every word is to be taken literally. I think I have said already (it might have been in my own forum) that Catholics have no difficulty with the notion that much of the Old Testament is poetic rather than literally true. Even parts of the New Testament need interpretation. This brings up another Catholic/Christian belief, which is that Christ's bodily presence on Earth was followed by the arrival of God's Holy Spirit which resides in the Church and guides its understanding.
Ygern wrote:Do you believe that you have the right to take issue with pronouncements made by Church Authorities (such as the Pope or Cardinals) if you find them immoral?
It depends on the context. As far as Church teachings on faith and morals are concerned (NB morals includes but is by no means limited to sex and the sanctity of life), it has never arisen. Expressions of opinion are a different matter and I frequently disagree with them.