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God (Part 2): God Epistemology

 
 
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 08:31 pm
@Resha Caner,
[quote=Resha Caner]This is not evidence, because it is not true. Maybe the majority of scholars that you read have this opinion, but not the majority of scholars in general. [/quote]

The majority of objective scholars concur with the information I gave you. The only way you'll get a "majority" to support your opinion is to rig a gathering of purely Christian apologists who focus on anything that supports religious dogma, and ignore or treat superficially anything that challenges it.

You said . . .

[quote=Resha Caner]I was honestly interested in your ideas on epistemology[/quote]

. . . but then you "dismissed" the very basis of the epistemology I proposed: union experience. You "dismissed" any other interpretation of facts but traditionalist fare. You "dismissed" every important thing I had to use to make my case. So I don't know how you can now act like you were "honestly interested" in an objective exchange of ideas when your behavior was that of someone only prepared to allow what didn't threaten his religious beliefs.
Resha Caner
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 07:58 am
@LWSleeth,
LWSleeth wrote:
The vast majority of all objective scholars concur with the information I gave you. The only way you'll get some "majority" to support your opinion is to rig a gathering of purely Christian apologists who focus on anything that supports religious dogma, and ignore anything that challenges it.


Ah, I see. Those who agree with you are "objective", and those who disagree are either "ignoring" or "dismissing" you, and apologetics is completely baseless. Well, I'm glad we now have your definition of objective. Your petition for union experience is obviously disconnected from apologetics in every way.

LWSleeth wrote:
you "dismissed" the very basis of the epistemology I proposed: union experience. You "dismissed" any other interpretation of facts but traditionalist fare.


No, I did not. You simply have not addressed my reasons for disagreeing with you. I made my reason quite clear.

I agree with you that experience is important to knowing. Inasmuch as we agree on that, words become ineffective. The best one can do is encourage others to gather experience. No more. As you said, it would be like explaining taste to someone who had never tasted.

But, as soon as you add an adjective to "experience", you add ontology. So, to propose union experience is to beg the question. I can follow you step by step, making exactly the same types of proposals for Christianity. My proposal is Christian experience.
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 12:29 pm
@Resha Caner,
[SIZE="3"]
Resha Caner;51584 wrote:
You simply have not addressed my reasons for disagreeing with you. I made my reason quite clear.


Ha! I didn't imagine that you said (and have been arguing from this standpoint), "I liked the first few paragraphs, but then it began to suffer from the typical problems of those who interpret things mystically. I am well aware of the "Jesus prayer" of Orthodox Christians and the "silent prayer" of Catholic monastics. But don't make more of it than it is."

Suffer from what? Typical of what? That's no critique, that's mere dismissal. And you "don't make more of it than it is"? That is no studied analysis, that too is mere dismissal (like you really understand it . . . your subsequent remarks show how little you know about union).

And now, you act like I have provided no support for my assertions, and therefore your arbitrary dismissals are warranted, and equal to my proposals. Yet if we compare my three part essay packed with reports, evidence, and careful reasoning paths to your few dismissing sentences, your rebuff essentially boils down to characterizing the core material of my essay as nothing worth taking seriously.

Union experience is the whole epistemology I put forth for examination. There is nothing else I have to offer in the way of "God epistemology." So if you dismiss it right out of the starting gate, what exactly are we going to discuss?


Resha Caner;51584 wrote:
Well, I'm glad we now have your definition of objective. Your petition for union experience is obviously disconnected from apologetics in every way.


It is a wholly accepted scholarly practice to assume a position in a debate and see how what's assumed or asserted holds up. But both the defense and the challenges must be fair, objective, and fact based. If either side is clinging to reality looking some way, an open, explorative exchange is impossible.

When I said I was a "hard debater" I meant I jump on biased arguments hard and fast, because I know if it continues, the debate goes absolutely nowhere. I learn nothing, my opponent learns nothing. I personally debate primarily to test my own understanding, and (as a writer) to find where I can improve how to communicate difficult subjects. I've been doing it for years, and have seen just about every imaginable distortion put on the truth people use to maintain their beliefs. So I usually see bias and spin coming pretty fast.


Resha Caner;51584 wrote:
Ah, I see. Those who agree with you are "objective", and those who disagree are either "ignoring" or "dismissing" you, and apologetics is completely baseless.


Being pre-committed to reality working some way skews objectivity, especially when one believes truth, God, heaven or hell, etc. is at stake. The standard of scholarship is to ignore all personal implications, to take into account all the facts, and to give the most honest and unbiased assessment possible.

Regarding the Bible, in contrast to Church traditionalists unsupported claim that the books of Matthew and John were written by disciples, is the substantial and actual evidence to the contrary. Nobody can read the evidence and maintain any other objective opinion. That doesn't mean those books are proven written by non-disciples, it just means that the evidence supports it.

Having been raised in a very religious family, I repeatedly ran into the fear of devoted Christians of questioning one, tiny, itty bitty morsel of dogma because it either meant (to them) they were being unfaithful, or it challenged their cherished feeling they were "right" and had the "truth," but particularly it undermined their belief that the Bible was the "perfect" word of God and should be followed to the letter, literally, in all matters. So debates were never objective or fair, and when they did rely on "scholars," it was apologists who studied and developed interpretations meant to maintain dogma.

I have indicated I think Jesus was "one with the Father," as he himself said. But then what it means to be "one" with God becomes crucially important to understand doesn't it? Have others expressed any sort of "oneness"? Yes, lots have in fact.

I think the Buddha was one with _____ (he refused to name it), it is just that the Buddha had a different way of teaching. His realization came about within a yogic community, and his way of communicating about his experience reflects that. Jesus' approach was devotion, and his communications reflects that. That is why I've studied the experience first, because that is where the similarity lies, not in the different communications the realized use, and especially not in the religions that develop over the centuries.

Religion is what really complicates things because it completely distracts from examining the nature of the realized conscious experience. All discussion of God becomes what the religion teaches, and that ends up being moralistic behaviorism and cosmological belief systems . . . not what sort of conscious experience can be realized that might be similar to what Jesus or the Buddha realized.


Resha Caner;51584 wrote:
I agree with you that experience is important to knowing. Inasmuch as we agree on that, words become ineffective. The best one can do is encourage others to gather experience. No more. As you said, it would be like explaining taste to someone who had never tasted.


Yes, but the experience of what? Some think the experience of a trance state is God because it is out of the ordinary. I have specifically taken aim at an experience that has been devotedly practiced by people considered some of the most enlightened and saintly people who've ever lived. I don't claim what I say is the truth, I say union experience has enough powerful and consistent reports associated with it that it deserves a serious, unbiased, careful look to see what was going on.


Resha Caner;51584 wrote:
So, to propose union experience is to beg the question. I can follow you step by step, making exactly the same types of proposals for Christianity. My proposal is Christian experience.


Yes you can, but "Christian" experience is the experience of religion. It's the conscious experience of Jesus (and others) that I am trying to interest people in taking a look at.[/SIZE]
0 Replies
 
Axis Austin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 01:32 pm
@LWSleeth,
I intentionally didn't follow the argument between you and Resha, but your tone towards me is becoming a bit abrasive. Not so bad yet, but just thought I'd let you know.

You say I am entitled to my opinion of what knowledge is but in this forum we should adhere to the "highest standard of our culture". By that do you mean your opinion of what knowledge is? I can just as easily say that you're entitled to your opinion, though we should adhere to the highest standard.

Finally, I think that my notion of knowledge is actually more in line with science than yours. After numerous experiments around gravity, scientists say they "know" that two objects will be attracted to each other. Yet, according to you it seems, they can't actually know that gravity exists. All they can know is that, for every time in the past, two objects placed in close proximity to one another have exhibited gravity. But they can't "know" that if they try this test another time that the results will be the same, just like I can't "know" that if I throw a rock at a window it will break.

Thus, it seems, even science can't meet your standards of knowledge. All that could, I think, would be tautologies and mathematical truths.
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 03:28 pm
@Axis Austin,
0 Replies
 
Resha Caner
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 03:58 pm
@Axis Austin,
LW,

You have been banging on "scholarship", so in that regard I will say that holding a degree is certainly necessary in the sense that it demonstrates one is familiar with topics important to the discipline (though there may be other less formalized paths for demonstrating that same familiarity). But, holding a degree is not sufficient.

As such, you have every right to question whatever "expert" opinion I may reference. But I can assure you they hold degrees equal in prestige to any "expert" you might reference. Therefore, in that regard, we are on an equal footing (unless you intend to somehow deny me the right to question the opinions and conclusions of your "experts").

Certainly we should both give reasons for the challenges we raise. But I have not yet given a supporting list of references. Before I even could, you made sweeping conclusions that all my references are Christian apologists, and that since all Christian apologists are hopelessly biased, you can dismiss them out of hand. You are doing what you accuse me of doing. Again, you don't follow your own rules. The proper approach would be to ask for my references. If you are not familiar with them, study them. Then, and only then, can you explain why you disagree.

I did not give any references because I thought of my comments as summary. I did not realize you would take them as a grand refutation of your ideology. I expected (at least in Part II) a discussion of epistemology separate from ontology. Why? Because in Part I you seemed to challenge those who link physicalism with their scientific investigations. If I had known that all you were doing was replacing physicalism with mysticism, I would not have been interested (take that however you please). But here we are.

As a second comment on scholarship, you claim to be a scholar, but you do not behave like one. I doubt many professional journals would allow your comments about the anatomy and hygene habits of those with whom you disagree. I do not recall you mentioning your credentials, but I'd like to know them. As for me, I hold no degree in philosophy or theology. What I know comes only from my own personal study. My degree is a master's in engineering (with 20 years practice), and I am working on a degree in history.

I think this forum is a great place to vet ideas, and I agree with what you said:

LWSleeth wrote:
I personally debate primarily to test my own understanding, and (as a writer) to find where I can improve how to communicate difficult subjects. I've been doing it for years, and have seen just about every imaginable distortion put on the truth people use to maintain their beliefs. So I usually see bias and spin coming pretty fast.


But this is not a scholarly journal. Anyone can post anything. Your three part series has not been peer reviewed. If you have published peer-reviewed work, I'd be willing to take a look at it. Anything posted here is nothing more than a conversation. Even so, I try to be fair, and I resent you accussing me of being otherwise. It sometimes seems you are debating the religious family you mentioned rather than me. I take your comment as an assumption that I am like them. But I'm not. I am not mindlessly bound to mumbling Latin in repetition of a dictatorial priest (a typical straw man thrown against me). I'm not even Catholic. You act as if Christians never try to experience God, but they do - all the time. Just one example is "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby, a book I've read. Have you? And the prior book I mentioned "The Holy Longing" is by a Catholic priest who argues against mindless religious ritual. Have you read that book?

So, when you say:

LWSleeth wrote:
"Christian" experience is the experience of religion.


I would say, "only in part, and you create a straw man by short changing the remainder."

Again, my comments were only summary as a way to convey that Part II was not what I had expected. I have not tried to disprove your ideology in the sweeping way that you claim. In fact, I said in a prior post that none of my comments so far disproved anything (and you can quote that as much as you like). So, it will do you no good to reach way back to some of my first posts such as when you quoted, "I liked the first few paragraphs, but ..."

I have only made two challenges to you so far. The first has been that you mix epistemology and ontology. Had you replied, "Yes, but so do you," I would have been forced to concede that you are right. But then that leaves us with little basis for a discussion, as I said in the beginning. I don't claim I can win an argument with you on that point. In fact, it seemed like you might have conceded that to me, but it's hard to tell because of all the rhetoric surrounding what you say.

My second challenge was against your claim that Jesus and Moses shared your "union" experience. Neither of us has expanded on that challenge because we've spent all our time wrestling silly accusations. I am willing to expand on that, but I will honor your preferences since you made the OP. If you don't want to do that here, I will leave it alone.

But, if you do want to continue, we have two starting points. The first is your statement:

LWSleeth wrote:
Regarding the Bible, in contrast to Church traditionalists unsupported claim that the books of Matthew and John were written by disciples, is the substantial and actual evidence to the contrary. Nobody can read the evidence and maintain any other objective opinion. That doesn't mean those books are proven written by non-disciples, it just means that the evidence supports it.


The second is your statement (which I assume you base on John 10:30):

LWSleeth wrote:
I have indicated I think Jesus was "one with the Father," as he himself said. But then what it means to be "one" with God becomes crucially important to understand doesn't it? Have others expressed any sort of "oneness"? Yes, lots have in fact.


Since you seem to prefer making your discussions "scientific", I would suggest that the first statement would require reviewing the history of the gospels. The second would require reviewing the context of John 10:30.
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 06:21 pm
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner;51643 wrote:
But, if you do want to continue . . . Since you seem to prefer making your discussions "scientific", I would suggest that the first statement would require reviewing the history of the gospels. The second would require reviewing the context of John 10:30.


No, I don't think we should. We are hopelessly off course, tied up in minutia to the point of missing the overall question of (basically) IF people were experiencing something through a method called "union" is it possible that epistemology has produced evidence of God. Since so few people are familiar with, and apparently unwilling to study, the history of union practitioners, it was probably a bad idea to even post the idea. My frustration with you has mostly been the inability to keep the discussion on track.

One last comment. I assume you were trying to show a contradiction between me quoting the Gospel John (I and my Father are One), and me claiming it wasn't written by the disciple. But I have not said that whoever wrote Matthew and John didn't nonetheless manage to convey some of what Jesus was about, or that Jesus quotes hadn't been preserved by communities which show up in the Gospels.

I'm sure you are familiar with Q, as well as the amount of Mark found in the other two synoptics. A careful exegesis of the texts in light of anachronisms, language, other of the author's purported writings, the known education of the supposed writer, history of the time, etc. are important to consider; but also, as with the strong theory of OT redactors making changes to fit theology of the time, we must also keep in mind NT writers each had their own belief about who Jesus was, and what he was trying to teach (i.e., one should expect the writer's bias to show). And then there's the question of the Nag Hammadi documents, especially the Gospel of Thomas, which open the door to another whole set of distractions for this discussion.

All this applies to my interpretation of what conscious experience Jesus was having (and what quotes I use). The knowledge-producing potential of that experience was what I wanted to discuss, but I now I think I'll let it drop.
Resha Caner
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 08:19 pm
@LWSleeth,
LWSleeth wrote:
No, I don't think we should.


OK.

LWSleeth wrote:
We are hopelessly off course, tied up in minutia to the point of missing the overall question


My apologies in that regard. I never intended to take this off course, and maybe someone else will ask a question after I bow out.

LWSleeth wrote:
One last comment. I assume you were trying to show a contradiction ...


Not a contradiction, but a misunderstanding of context. However, I will add that the discussion did not proceed far enough that I could argue for or against anything you quoted from John.

LWSleeth wrote:
A careful exegesis of the texts in light of anachronisms, language, other of the author's purported writings, the known education of the supposed writer, history of the time, etc. are important to consider ...


Sure. They are tools that can both be used and abused.

I do hope we'll have a chance in the future for a discussion - maybe on another topic.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 04:27 pm
@LWSleeth,
Hi and thanks for this mighty post, I have just joined this forum and am late to this topic, but am very glad you said it, and said it so well. I am in complete agreement with your approach (and somewhat baffled that so many seem to find it problematic.)

I have had the idea, implicit to this discussion, that perhaps the experience of union is in fact ONLY possible to human beings. What if it implies there is a kind of knowledge that could only be understood by a live, present human mind, in this kind of communion? If it can't be translated into words (and it can't), if it can't really be conveyed from one to another (and it can't) then one of the unique characteristics of this knowledge is that it is a 'performance art'. Then I had the freaky thought, perhaps this is related to the anthropic principle, which states that the Universe is arrayed in just such a way that intelligent carbon-based life forms can emerge and come to this unique point of understanding. But then I realised that I was saying what mystics of centuries have always said. And amen to that. (And besides I am coming to realise that it is not fitting to try and persuade anyone of this viewpoint, it has to come to you.)
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 07:19 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;54586 wrote:
I have had the idea, implicit to this discussion, that perhaps the experience of union is in fact ONLY possible to human beings.


I have no doubt about this. It is difficult (even if simple) to master for humans, so forget about less conscious animals.



jeeprs;54586 wrote:
What if it implies there is a kind of knowledge that could only be understood by a live, present human mind, in this kind of communion?


Yes! The experience is alive, so only aliveness that is conscious enough to approach it correctly has any chance of joining it (i.e., living human beings).


jeeprs;54586 wrote:
If it can't be translated into words (and it can't), if it can't really be conveyed from one to another (and it can't) then one of the unique characteristics of this knowledge is that it is a 'performance art'.


I don't want to assume I understand what you mean by "performance art," but it resonates with one way I see it. As you say, it can't be conveyed in words (or concepts), but it can be manifested by a living human being (in line with your above idea). So Jesus, for example, was a living manifestation, or if you prefer, giving performance art of the experience. When people came into his presence, and were open, they could intuitively experience what is unavailable through words or concepts. So the dynamic doesn't just require a performance artist, it also requires people ready to feel intuitively.


jeeprs;54586 wrote:
Then I had the freaky thought, perhaps this is related to the anthropic principle, which states that the Universe is arrayed in just such a way that intelligent carbon-based life forms can emerge and come to this unique point of understanding. But then I realised that I was saying what mystics of centuries have always said. And amen to that.


Yes, it's just that the anthropic principle, like all conceptualizations, has a built-in contradiction which you've already stated: the experience can't be communicated in words (which really means concepts). Union can only be experienced, so no matter what concept someone comes up with, it can be undermined by some clever skeptical argument. That's why the only real proof is for one to experience for oneself.


jeeprs;54586 wrote:
(And besides I am coming to realise that it is not fitting to try and persuade anyone of this viewpoint, it has to come to you.)


Right again (IMHO). That's why Jesus (using him as an example once more) said "let those with ears hear." Either someone is sensitive enough to pick up on the feeling of what is behind the words, or they aren't. If they are determined to critically think about what a "performance artist" is doing/saying rather than feel him, their is no chance of grasping what is being offered.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 07:55 pm
@LWSleeth,
great to find a kindred spirit on this forum, I shall follow your conversations with interest.
0 Replies
 
 

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