on discussing god and religion

For intuitive and critical discussions, from spirituality to theological doctrines. Fair warning: because the subject matter is personal, moderation is strict.

Moderator: Dan~

Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Sun Jun 06, 2021 6:36 pm

The Atheist & the Foxhole
Catriona Hanley asks: Is God still dead?

Bringing human being into the picture as the one who asks the question of the meaning of being turns Aristotle’s scientific project on its head. Heidegger does not ask about the way things ‘really’ are, for like Kant, he recognizes that the only way that we have access to what is, is through our human experience of what is. Furthermore, our human experience of what is, is not innocent, but is always affected by what we have been trained to ‘see’, or the way that we have grown up in a world of already interpreted signs.


Over and over and over again:

"Being for-itself (pour-soi) is the mode of existence of consciousness, consisting in its own activity and purposive nature; being in-itself (en-soi) is the self-sufficient, lumpy, contingent being of ordinary things."

Whatever "for all practical purposes" given the same sets of circumstances experienced differently by each of us that actually means.

Then the part where genes give way to memes, nature to nurture. The part where sense perception gives way to mental constructs about ourselves in the world around us. A world no others experience in precisely the same way. The part then where scientists pass the baton over to the philosophers.

And that's before we go out to the very end of the metaphysical limb and speculate about sim worlds, dream worlds and matrixes

Then the part where all of this is further recalculated given either a God or a No God world.

Here, however, construed by and large in intellectual contraptions that come down to earth only to focus in on the most banal examples of the behaviors we choose in the either/or world.

We demonstrate our understanding of what is by our behaviour in the world. For instance, we come into a room and sit down on a chair, thus demonstrating that we know the ‘meaning’ of ‘chair’. But in understanding this meaning, we demonstrate that we have an understanding of the whole network of meanings that make up the ‘world’. The world, always already understood, is exactly this network of meanings. Truth is not a direct correspondence between the way things ‘really’ are and our translation of this into a formal proposition, but rather ‘truth’ is the way that we interact with the world of things and people which we find already before us.


In other words, the part where common sense ends and philosophy begins. Not to mention the other way around.

But the bottom line still takes us back to God. An alleged omniscient and omnipotent God. Why? Because given His existence we have that transcending font able to establish the truth about everything and anything.

Sans God and what's left [on this planet] is...us?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 42161
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:14 pm

The Atheist & the Foxhole
Catriona Hanley asks: Is God still dead?

Clearly for Heidegger...there is no lonely subject set against an alien world of which she must make sense. The world already makes sense to humans, given that we go about our daily business and find ways of being and behaving that are deemed appropriate or inappropriate by our fellows. ‘Being’ is simply the network of interrelations that we have with what we find in the ‘world’. But the primary ‘thing’ that we find in the world ourselves: and, no less important, our own limitations.


In fact, millions upon millions of human beings have gone from the cradle to the grave interacting in precisely this manner. And have given but the occasional passing thoughts spaced days, weeks, months apart about the course of their lives "philosophically" in this way. Historically and culturally, for the overwhelming preponderance of us, that is the role of religion.

But then those who do set aside time spaced days, weeks, months apart to contemplate it all...intellectually. To concoct one or another TOE. From RM/OA to Value Ontology, we have ourselves been deluged with them. There have in fact easily been hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them down through the ages.

And the only limitations they all seem to recognize is that everyone must think as they do about the part that transcends the so much more complex, convoluted...even catastrophic...reality of our day to day lives. Heidegger himself seemed to settle on one of his own.

Though Heidegger does not ask why what is, is as it is, he does ask how it is that we understand being, and what it is about humans that makes such understanding possible.


So, he too just shrugs off the part where the dots are connected between how it is that he believed he understood being and all there is that he didn't have a clue about regarding all there is to be known about being going back to, well, you tell me. Thus his "understanding" here, not unlike yours and mine, is just a more sophisticated WAG. As opposed to those millions upon millions who do go to the grave entirely ensconced in the reality that they have been indoctrinated as children to believe is true about themselves in the world.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 42161
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Sat Jun 26, 2021 7:13 pm

The Atheist & the Foxhole
Catriona Hanley asks: Is God still dead?

Most of the time we go unreflectively about our affairs, standing about waiting for the bus, doing our work, chatting to those around us. At times, however, we do experience the urgency and immediacy of being. In ‘dark nights of the soul’ we lie awake and realize that “this is my life – my life is now – and I am going to die.” In such moments we realize the limitations of personal existence, and the reality of death.


Yes, and I challenge anyone here to argue that this is not profoundly rooted in the lives of individual human beings "thrown" adventitiously at birth into any number profoundly different historical, cultural and experiential contexts. In fact, one of the crucial components of religion is to make that part all go away. How? By subsuming everything that anyone chooses to do out in any one of these worlds in God Himself. In the end, it is always about Him and not whatever your "existential" circumstances might be. That's the whole point of making religion the crucial link that connects mere mortals to the transcending reality of God's Kingdom.

Or to whatever it is that the "reality is identical with divinity" pantheists connect to the universe itself.

What actually happens in such experiences of anxiety? For Heidegger, these are not prozac moments; it is not time to relax into life and cheer, though the slip back is inevitable. Rather, such moments are awakenings – they are insights into the real conditions of human existence. To be human is to begin to die from the moment that we are born. To be, is to ‘be unto death’, to be above all mortal.


Let me ask you: why do you suppose that very, very, very few of us are likely to subsume what in a No God world is an essentially meaningless and purposeless existence in that frame of mind? Why, instead, are they far more likely to deal with anxiety/angst through God and religion...or through drugs or booze...or through all of distractions available to us to take our minds elsewhere --- food, the arts, sports, politics, careers, love and sex.

The fundamental condition of human existence is mortality. In short, the meaning of being is time; and my time is limited. In moments in the metaphorical foxhole, it may be possible to comprehend the fact of personal mortality and then to throw oneself back again upon life, with a renewed vigour springing from the realization that there is limited time, and limited scope, for self-creation.


Yes, one way or another, to "throw" yourself back into the game. The only game there is. The world as each of us individuals know it...live it. For all practical purposes as it were.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 42161
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Tue Jul 06, 2021 2:13 pm

The Atheist & the Foxhole
Catriona Hanley asks: Is God still dead?

...Aristotle’s god dies in Heidegger’s analysis of being. Heidegger relegates the existence of a metaphysical entity, beyond human experience, to the realm of speculation – or of faith. The religious impulse, as well as scientific attempts at explanation of the origin of the cosmos, are secondary human activities that have their root in the primordial fact of human mortality. Since being is the meaning of being for humans, and since humans are finite, being itself is finite. From the point of view of Heidegger’s phenomenological description, god – an infinite being – is not a feature of human existence.


Okay, but it never seemed to dawn on him that Hitler, Himmler and all of the other Nazi fanatics treated fascism -- National Socialism -- as though it were for all practical purposes a religion itself. You committed your whole existence to it. And Judgment Day was everyday if you didn't toe the line. Or you were a Jew. Or you were black or brown or red or yellow. Or you were a homosexual or some other "deviant".

What of the Nazis' "phenomenal description" of, well, everything, right?

As for Aristotle's God, those like Ayn Rand, who revered Aristotle, simply excised Him from the metaphysical manuscripts.

In the view of Cummings, whose phrase begins my paper, it would seem that in moments of the realization of death, which Heidegger describes as angst, humans would be overcome by fear and in consequence believe in an infinite god who would give some meaning to their mortal existence, or at least provide some extension of life beyond the grave.


Okay, suppose you weren't able to believe in God? Isn't the next best thing to subsume that fear/angst in such ideological dogmas as fascism. Yes, you may die, but the cause that you dedicated your life to lives on. And thus so do you -- sort of -- as long as it is around.

Pascal’s famous wager was that it was better to hedge one’s bets and believe in god, since if he does not exist, one has nothing to lose, whereas if he does, one has everything to gain. But belief in a deity is not philosophically well-grounded if it is grounded in fear or superstition


Besides, how dumb would God have to be not to see though that scheme? Yeah, you believe...but not because you really do. You simply placed your bet on God being around to get you into Heaven.

From the perspective of an Aristotelian scientist, one needs a rational foundation for belief, that is, god as an explanatory mechanism. From the perspective of a phenomenological approach such as Heidegger’s, on the other hand, one would require some universal experiential evidence of an infinite. Fear of death is itself grounded in the recognition that this life, this realm of possibilities of self-formation, is limited. Recognition of this fact under duress may make us desire that things be otherwise, but “wishing don’t make it so”.


Next up: it all culminating in your own absolutely unique experience of waiting for godot.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 42161
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Fri Jul 16, 2021 6:33 pm

The Atheist & the Foxhole
Catriona Hanley asks: Is God still dead?

Does the world make sense without a god? The difficult answer is that, yes it does, and perhaps it makes more sense than with a god. Certainly the existence of an all-powerful and supremely good God, following the Christian notion, is troublesome, given that war, torture, murder of the innocent, genocide, starvation, and hopelessness characterize earthly existence.


Instead, I turn it around. It's not what makes sense to someone [about God or anything] but how what they believe makes sense to them allows them to feel more or less anchored to something -- anything -- in the way of a meaning of and a purpose to their existence. It all becomes entangled in the complex interactions of the conscious, the subconscious and the unconscious mind trying to make sense of the lives that are lived from day to day. But here such lives can become so vastly different there is simply no "one size fits all" narrative. You can only go from individual to individual and try to connect the dots between biological imperatives and the existential parameters of their own unique collection of experiences. Theodicy becomes just one more component of how enormously complex and convoluted all of these interacting variables become when "I" confronts meaning and purpose in my life.

God and religion is merely one possibility for connecting all these dots to a transcending font. But it's the psychological need itself to connect them that I focus in on. And the part that my own understanding of dasein plays in all of that.

The task of phenomenology, however, in Heidegger’s conception, is not to provide individuals with the meaning of life. The point is that the meaning of being is already given; the meaning is: you will die, and you have only limited years before you to make of life what you can.


On the contrary, human existence is such that there are any number of distractions -- wants and needs -- able to take our minds elsewhere. And isn't God and religion always an option for taking any thoughts you do have about oblivion to a comforting and consoling place "in your head"? Sure, some can talk about the need to be "authentic" in regard to facing up to death...but what is that but just another existential component of dasein.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 42161
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Mon Jul 26, 2021 4:19 pm

The Atheist & the Foxhole
Catriona Hanley asks: Is God still dead?

My contention is that there is such an experience which is universal to human beings, and this is the fundamental experience of existential gratitude. There are atheists in foxholes, because fear of death is not sufficient to exact substantial belief in an infinite. When Elie Wiesel writes that God died at Auschwitz, he means that as a simple matter of fact – however difficult to accept – fear, horror and despair can turn people away from belief in a supreme being who is supposed to give meaning to life.


Existential gratitude...and God? Of course speculation such as this is almost always going to be a profoundly problematic reflection of dasein. Some give in to it in the early rounds, others grapple with it for years, while still others will fight it all the way to the grave. The fact that there are all manner of foxholes built into all manner of battlefields in all manner of histroical and cultural contexts is reason enough to presume it is not likely to change anytime soon. And the bottom line that I come back to has now been sustained by me for decades: what else is there?

So, sure, if I could figure out a way to get back up into the spiritual path saddle again, I'd be there.

Instead, that saddle is as far removed from my current frame of mind as ever and I am left patching together intellectual contraptions like this:

In the face of suffering – and this includes existential suffering – life does sometimes appear meaningless to us. But it seems that those who survive the foxhole and who are grateful for surviving have had some experience of an Other beyond their own finite selves.


Just don't ask me to take that down out of the clouds and explain how I intertwine it into the life I now live from day to day. Now, ironically enough, it's mostly about the distractions that take me away from thinking about things like this.

Then it comes down for some of us to one or another rendition of this:

The fear experienced in the face of death is a fear in the face of personal extinction. Clutching at straws, one in fear for her life cries out for help to anyone, anything available, real or fictitious. The experience of fear does not necessitate the experience of a being beyond myself, but merely expresses the hope that there is some being beyond myself, exactly because I am so attached to this life, and now recognize its fragility. In this sense, fear is a return to the self, and is not an experience of the Other.


That's it right? Maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there that is beyond me. Someone able to point me in the general direction of immortality. With or without salvation.

Only in the almost certain likelihood that there is not, I have no self to return to. Only the bits and the pieces that are still around.

And noting it will only conjure up the usual reactions.

Like yours right?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 42161
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Previous

Return to Religion and Spirituality



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users