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Monday, March 1, 2010

It's OK To Be An Agnostic

Just so everyone reading my blogs will know the mindset from which I write, I've composed this article:



IT'S OK TO BE AN AGNOSTIC

by Allen C. Dexter

I get all kinds of reactions when I reveal the fact that I am an agnostic. A lot of horrified people think I'm headed straight to that divine Dachau and theological Treblinka they call Hell. They express sorrow and say they'll “pray” for poor me.

Interesting concept of “god.” He's supposedly so thin skinned that if I don't believe in him, he'll get even by making me burn for all eternity. At least, Herbert Armstrong's teaching had him only burning me to ashes, like in the Nazi crematoriums.

If Eichmann was a war criminal, what is their Jehovah?

Often, they will ask me, “What if you're wrong?”

My answer: “What if you're wrong?”

A lot of people have an attitude that reminds me of General Patton. Hedge your bets and take advantage of the possible benefits of any faith, such as when he was in the hospital, in traction and staring death in the face. Any minister or priest who offered last rights or any kind of intercession was welcomed.

Patton didn't get deeply into theology. He just read “the book,” took it somewhat seriously, went on cussing up a blue streak when the occasion called for it with an absolute conviction he'd been here in several other lives (all military, apparently) and would probably be here again. Right or wrong, it gave him a purpose and goal in life. I like him. Whatever might be said about him, he was always genuine.

Some atheists seem to have the attitude that being an agnostic is tantamount to being weak kneed and wishy-washy. They are so convinced of their atheistic approach that it becomes a non-believer's dogma.

I've flirted with outright atheism, largely because I know the Bible and the Christian God is a totally concocted farce. All the myths surrounding the biblical Jesus didn't come into anything close to their present form until the fourth century after the composite Jesus the Western world was tricked into believing in supposedly walked the earth.

That's a period longer than our nation has existed!

Who would want to write a history of the Revolutionary War with no authoritative written records penned by those who were there to use as sources? How accurate and authoritative do you think it could be after three hundred years? All this is made plain in The Forged Origins of the New Testament which is available via the link on this site.

After my experiences with dogmatism under Armstrongism, I resist flopping to the exact opposite side of dogmatism by being dogmatic that there can't possibly be any force or entity that could be called “god.” I frankly doubt that there is, but I'd rather take the approach of science and leave the subject open to inquiry. If such a “god” wants to condemn me for that approach, while he steadfastly refuses to reveal himself in an open and tangible way so there can be no question of authenticity, then I'll just have to accept condemnation.

I'm not at all worried.

Concocted scripture tells me I have no excuse for not believing. I reject that haughty pronouncement out of hand. I will not be talked down to in such a manner. Nobody, past or present, gets to judge me in such an attitude of superiority.

Not any more.

I'm not a deist, but I do respect their thinking a whole lot more than the thinking of religionists.

Deism is a close cousin to agnosticism. I'm just not prepared to state that there really was a god who started it all and then took a hands off policy. It does make a whole lot more sense than belief in an interventionist god who never seems to intervene when he is needed most, such as during the holocaust. Most of the “miracles” I've heard people prate about are several steps down the line hearsay and misinterpretations of totally plausible natural happenstances.

The word “miracle” has really been cheapened, especially by people with a religious bent. My wife chided me once for washing a pattern of dark dirt off our cement block wall because it was in the shape of a cross. She opined we might have been able to make some serious money by drawing the gullible public's attention to it and then charging admission to see it.

She was also chagrined once when she was sure she saw the figure of the Virgin Mary on a tortilla. Before she could make a fortune on E bay, her son came home, loaded it with re-fried beans and ate it.

What really happened at the “big bang?” Was there any kind of intelligence behind it? Some scientists have concluded that the universe arose from thought. Are they right? Or, are they succumbing to the same kind of delusions that drive religions?

I don't know and scientists have only theories and speculation at this point – nothing that can be nailed down to absolute specifics. Quantum Physics presents us with some interesting and puzzling facts and theories. Some of them border on the religious.

Religions insist on having a set god, a set revelation and set dogmas. These all originated in human minds, and some of those minds were definitely deranged. The present world is filled with the same kind of people who are absolutely certain that they are one of the “two witnesses,” a reincarnation of Jesus, a prophet or apostle, etc.

As in the past, all such deluded, unbalanced or power mad individuals hark back to the use of fear to keep any adherents they might garner in line. Their first goal is to stop the poor sucker from thinking anything contrary to what they set forth as “the truth.” If it is said to come from whatever “revelation” they champion, it is absolute truth and to reject that “truth” is the same as rejecting god because it came, they staunchly maintain, from that god.

That god, being very sensitive, can't brook any such rejection and reacts by condemning the offending ingrate to either total destruction or an eternity of unimaginable suffering. In the meantime, the hapless individual is assured he will be cursed in all daily affairs and relationships. If he or she is really convinced, they become paralyzed mentally, maybe even physically.

Sound familiar? If you were caught up in Armstrongism, it should.

So, after long and careful analysis, I've concluded that I can't be absolutely sure about a great many things because there are a lot of things I don't and cannot know. That makes me an agnostic, which simply means “don't know for sure.”

I suspect the atheists are right. I have no empirical evidence that they are not. Nor have they been able to present totally irrefutable proof that they are. It's a big can't know for absolutely sure situation right now.

What I do know for sure is that none of the religions, their revelations and their gods currently extant on this earth make sense when examined critically and logically. Therefore, I now believe and follow none of them.

I'm an agnostic. That's an OK position to be in.

57 comments:

Ralph said...

Hey Allen. We pretty much agree in our viewpoints, with the exception, of course, that I believe both Paul and Jesus taught there is really no need to follow any human leader.

My 8th grade teacher fancied himself a philosopher, and asked us one day, "Doe your conscience tell you right from wrong?"

I always assumed it di, so I quickly said yes, and he responded with a story about an ancient tribe who believed it was absolutely necessary to sacrifice your firstborn to the crocodile god, or you would be cursed in everything you did. He then asked me, would their conscience bother them if they did make the sacrifice, or if they didn't?

Now that messed with my head at a young age. Later, I would read Erich Fromm's statement that conscience is the internalization of external social conditions.

My 8th grade teacher, however, was very liberal, and often praised the wisdom of Robert McNamara in Vietnam. His main thrust is that government is the default power since we don't actually know right from wrong.

But if no one really knows right from wrong, can ten million people, by majority rule, come any closer to truth, or is that simply the multiplication of ignorance subject to manipulation by power hungry elites?

Put that way, you see little difference between governments and the good ol' WCG. It's fifty cents of one and a half dollar of the other.

I tned to agree with Ayn Rand that I am certain of the existence of one thing, and that's me. "I am", "I exist". I can say that of myself, but no church, government, or corporation can do so. That means I can question my own actions and my own beliefs, and I don't need any help doing it.

Anyone who tells me the same thing, therefore, must be telling me the truth.

Ex-Android said...

Welcome, Allen. I'm Glad to get a break from all the sermons we had through February.

I have one suggestion, if I may.

Please do some reading in atheism from an informed atheist. It is not an "approach" or a "dogma."

Simply an agnostic is an atheist. The word agnostic was originally coined as a bad joke.

Ralph said...

Ex-Android, you still want to take me on?

Allen C. Dexter said...

Hi, Ralph. I totally agree conscience is dependent on the mental concepts each person has. That will be treated in more detail when I post my next article. In this society, we are certainly being manipulated by a host of elites in economics, politics and religion. Both religion and politics are simply ideologies that sway the masses. Our founding fathers saw the dangers in both being united and gave us our fredom from religion rights in the hope that the evil could be contained. They have only been partially successful and the battle continues.

Corky said...

Well, gnostic means "one with knowledge" and "a" means "not". a-gnostic means "not one with knowledge" (of whatever), in other words, a sceptic.

Theist means "a god believer" and "a" means "not". Therefore, literally, a-theist means "not a god believer".

So, a person who does not believe there is a god or gods, is an atheist.

A person who flatly denies the existence of any gods is called a "hard atheist"

A person who doesn't believe in the existence of any gods but yet reserves the possibility is called a "soft atheist".

There is really no middle ground that can be called agnostic. You either believe in the existence of gods or you don't believe - just that simple.

Ralph said...

I'm certain that contents of the New Testament are forged. I read about Constantine's mixing and matching, I've read Bart Ehrman's book "Misquoting Jesus", which I also bought.

All excellent and worthwhile points, except for one thing. If they forged certain quotes from Jesus and Paul, they really blew it out the wazoo.

The reason being, as I explained earlier, and from the viewpoint of developing ideas in Artifical Intelligence and Information Theory, that there simply exists no algorithm by which we can ever arrive at anything higher than ourselves.

That is yet another aspect of Godel's theorem. No system can ever reach up and create a system more powerful than itself. It is not possible within mathematics, and it's not possible with humans and God.

Whatever authority the churches under Constantine hoped to achieve, their own translation pointed to the doom and the splintering that would be achieved simply by rwsdin Romans 8:7.

Had Thomas Aquinas, in his efforts to reconcile logic and reason with the authority of the church, simply read Romans 8:7, he would have realized he was wasting his time.

It stands to reason that if the natural mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God, then no method of reason used by the natural mind could demonstrate either the existence or authority of God by man.

Aquinas's success would have proven Paul to be wrong.

If you are prone to believe as the Averroists, that "I believe it because it is absurd", then you have established nothing whatever except absurdity as the basis for your faith.

The argument then followede that if your natural mind could not be subject to God, and if logic and reason could demonstrate no such link, then perhaps the "Holy Spirit" could grant you that which was not avilable to the natural mind, which creates an important question: how do you know you have the Holy Spirit, and how would you prove it to someone else?

Any proof, at any point along the chain of reasoning, and you could eliminate confusion, splintering, division, and establish a government of God without doubt.

And in doing so, you would have proven both Paul and Jesus liars.

If the bible was forged, it was forged by idiots. The only choice they could have by following the logic of Paul's teachings was to declare themselves the default representatives of God, as government would declare itself the default ruler once there was shown to be no evidence of God.

No, I think you got your work cut out for you.

Ralph said...

Corky, an interesting point. However, with the development of Godel's theorem regarding truth, you would have one who simply cannot known. A theist, therefore would believe, while an atheist would not believe or deny, yet neither one could state from any true perspective of knowledge what is actually the truth, since truth in any absolute sense transcends our most formal attempts to know.

Of course our informal attempts would prove nothing, since you can "prove" most anything by informal methods, which also means that you have proven nothing at all.

In light of Godel's theorem, you might conclude that both are agnistics since they can't know, but choose either atheism or theism in regard to reality.

From that perspective, whichever one is right is anybody's guess. And that leaves us with no real choice to take us truthfully in either direction. Therefore, we arrive at Romans 8:7 or at Romans 9:16-22, which simply points out that no such decisioin procedure can be known by human intelligence or will.

Byker Bob said...

Back when I was going through my agnostic stage, I always resented atheists trying to swell their ranks by including me under their umbrella.

But, then again, I was the type of agnostic commonly known as a seeker. My state of not knowing was always being tested, and was therefore tentative, and subject to additional input (spell that
g-r-o-w-t-h).

These terms are defined, of course, by Webster, Funk and Wagnall and others, but are also subject to personalization by those who feel that such labels apply to themselves.

WCG was an incredible modifier, and its sheer ability to spoil seems to be very pernicious in all of our lives. It has left us all with so many time bombs! It is hardly surprising that some who were warped by legalism would attempt to define them to the nth degree and to utilize them as a label or a box!

BB

Byker Bob said...

I was just reminiscing about some of the attitudes that were prevalent in WCG back when I was attending.

I can't help but empathize with some of the people who are in the ACOGS, some realizing that there is something fundamentally wrong with HWA's theology and its application, yet are scared to leave because they've been warned that if they do, they might become demon possessed, homosexual, or become swallowed up by addictions which plagued them prior to their entry into an ACOG. This, in addition to the Lake of Fire.

To those people, I'd like to point out that it is also OK to pursue an independent adventure or relationship with Father God, and Jesus Christ. In other words, leaving the cult does not automatically necessitate living in separation from one's Creator, or the repudiation of good values. (Let me also hasten to add that I know some agnostics and atheists who hold and practice well defined ethics).

Acknowledging God's authority in our lives does not mean that we must allow a corporate church entity to usurp or co-opt that relationship.

One of the things which I'd encourage anyone contemplating leaving an ACOG splinter to do is to switch your mind into "neutral" as to the outcome, and then pray about your dilemma. I now believe that God never left me during my agnostic years, in spite of my often dangerous lifestyle. Last time I counted it all up, I should have been dead over twenty times!

BB

Ralph said...

There's lots of such modifiers out there, which is basically evolution at work.

Animals speciate, and religions speciate. The attemtp to define every jot and tittle merely results in just more speciation.

What's the purpose? Adaptability and intelligence.

Philip Slater brought out an interesting point on this in "EarthWalk" back in 1974:

"The division of labor is useful not because it leads to integration but precisely because it does not. The communicational difficulties it creates provide opportunity for change and movement...The value of the division of labor is that it introduces a bit of chaos into the system. If an organism composed of idnetical parts is broken up, the parts can survive because they are self sufficient--each contains something that was present in the whole, if, however the organism is composed of differentiated parts, they will perish apart from the whole--this is what is meant by interdependence".

Erich Hoffer pointed out that when a member of a cult or mass movement left the movement, he didn't so much leave it as "swallow" it. Instead of a cog in the machine, he is now the full value of the machine, all its parts within his power of life.

So, what did the WCG do, other than traumatize a bunch of us? It forced us into a position of doing that which we had hoped to avoid--learning to think, argue, and decide for ourselves.

This is an evolutionary process described by Howard Bloom in "Global Brain" and it applies to all species as they develop adaptive levels of intelligence. "Creative Bickering".

It is worthwhile now and then to step outside your safety zone, because that's what life is about.

The use of the brain in the pursuit of truth forces you into positions of antagonism with those around you, as Matthew 10:34-38 says.

After all, what can you really become, if not yourself?

Anon said...

For BB:

Personal spiritual experiences, no matter how intense or real they seem, are a terrible argument for religion. The human brain can produce vivid experiences that aren't real, and our minds are fallible, subject to many cognitive errors -- including the strong tendency to believe what we already believe or what we dearly want to believe.

anonSeven21

Ex-Android said...

Ralph asked:

"Ex-Android, you still want to take me on?"

Let's see now. You are self-described as "insane", "arrogant"
and an "asshole". Why would I care to waste anymore time with you?

Why not allow the new guest editor have his time? You've hogged enough with your boring sermons. To exchange with you is relive the life I had in the WCG cult under the thumbs of men exactly as you have described yourself.

Ex-Android said...

Corky, old buddy,

I hate to say this, but you need to read up on atheism a bit more.

I would suggest George H. Smith's "Atheism: the case against God".

purplehymnal said...

"Well, gnostic means "one with knowledge" and "a" means "not". a-gnostic means "not one with knowledge" (of whatever), in other words, a sceptic."

Exactly right, and gnosis, at least in the earliest Christian sense, means "know thyself". NOT, "know 'god'", but because they had no knowledge of neuroscience, or even the brain three thousand years ago, that was the closest the early contemplatives could come, to neurotheology.

That said, welcome aboard Allen, and I've been where you're sitting. Two years after my family fell away, I spent the better part of a couple of days reading the old Internet Infidels site (it has changed greatly since then, and I fear not for the better), and the closest description of my current thinking at that time, slotted neatly into "agnostic" which was defined then as "I don't know".

I do know that there has never been a god in my life, or rather I have not created a god for myself, since I left the church. For my particular circumstances, that is exactly right, and perfectly OK.

So, in that sense, I am a "hard atheist", but I tend to waver on the fundamentalist portion of it; fundamentalist believers tend to bring out the fundamentalist atheist in me.

As I'm sure everyone is getting sick of hearing me repeat ad nauseam, I do tend to favour the (small-g) gnostic worldview, that treats all religious stories as just that, mythology and allegory, that we use to divine our own souls (gnosis). I favour that perspective, but I tend to shy away from the rituals, and the religious (big-G) Gnostics, for obvious reasons!

I also like the concept of panentheism, but I confess to never having had that "connected" feeling to anything, since leaving the church. Pale shadows of the false shadow I laboured under before, but I have never really felt a part of this world, even though I have been living in it for going on two decades now.

Purely as a result of being born and raised in the church, but I hardly wallow in self-pity over it; that's just the way my life is. Objectively, I can see why, subjectively, panentheism is such a draw; to imagine that you are connected with everything in the universe, and everything is connected with you, can be a powerful narcotic, I would imagine. But I always did eschew chemicals, even the ones my own brain manufactures LOL.

Anyway, that's my long, rambling hello, and it looks like the "Ides of March" will be pleasant after all!

purplehymnal said...

"Let's see now. You are self-described as "insane", "arrogant" and an "asshole". Why would I care to waste anymore time with you?"

EA, I highly recommend clicking on the "Collapse Comments" link at the top of the comments page, before you commence reading. Then, click the black "said" beside the name of the commenter, on any comment you want to read.

Does wonders for the blood pressure.

Corky said...

Ex-Android said...
Corky, old buddy,

I hate to say this, but you need to read up on atheism a bit more.

I would suggest George H. Smith's "Atheism: the case against God"
.

Thanks Ex, but I have read it and still have a copy on my bookshelf. Perhaps I should read it again? I don't know, things change with time and so do definitions. I never was a fan of "American Atheists" - even though the current ruler is better looking than the first one.

I would be defined as an atheist, a hard atheist at that. I do deny the existence of a god or gods of any kind. To me, it's just stupid and like believing in the tooth fairy.

Though I can't prove it, I know the tooth fairy does not exist. How do I know? Because if the tooth fairy and other imaginary creatures exist, then reality as we know it doesn't exist. Then where are we?

purplehymnal said...

"Because if the tooth fairy and other imaginary creatures exist, then reality as we know it doesn't exist. Then where are we?"

Meh, reality is subjective. Men create gods.

Ralph said...

Yes, Ex-Andropid, I've described myself in such a way that you could easily tear apart my arguments, yet you can't seem to do so, other than to resort to the usual ad hominem approach, which I am perfectrly willing to allow.

So, I'm "crazy" "arrogant", "asshole", I'll even accept "s.o.b."

Now, you should have no problem proving the flaw in my arguments. I wonder why you can't?

Your response amounts to nothing more than attempted censoprship for that of which you disapprove.

Are you implying that if atheists ever gain majority, they will censor believers?

C'mon, Ex-Android, anybody can talk. Let's see some intellectual ability.

PT Reader said...

What's happened to our guest editor? The one last month had given five or six sermons by this time.

Ralph said...

PT Reader, did I not tell you it was now my time to shoot and snipe? You like censorship of those you disagree with, do you?

You have yet to respond to the first argument I have presented, you haven't shown any capacity whatever to even begin to refute me, like your cohorts. The best way to silence anyone is to simply prove them wrong.

What's your problem?

PT Reader said...

Ralphie asked me:

"What's your problem?"

I simply cannot bring myself to kick a man when he's down. I think you've been shamed enough. Of course, you being you will not think so. So sad.

Ralph said...

Like I've said from the start PT. Prove it.

You equate truth with the number of people who believe a thing? Let's examine it. I'll accept all epithets, all slander, all insults, and even including your statement that I've been shamed.

You don't seem to quite grasp the mechanics of ad hominem argument, do you?

For your enkightenment, ad hominem, by attacking the "messenger" says nothing at all about the messatge itself. YTou know the old nursery rhyme, "Sticks and stones may break my bones"?

You vcan insult, assalt, even kill the messenger, but that has done nothing whatever to disprove the truth of his/her message.

Even to assume shame, to shun, any attack whatever on the messenger, has no effect on the truth or falsehood of the message itself.

What I'm seeing from your cohorts and yourself, is a highle developed skill in an area of argument that has nothing whatever to do with truth or falsehood.

Basically it's a form of bullying. I told you my background in the marines because I want you to know I truly love it when people try to bully me.

I'm right here, PT. You know my name, you know my face, you know my thoughts, and you have not yet shown the first possible argument to challenge the truth of my statements.

What's you prroblem, PT?

Anon said...

PT Reader said: "What's happened to our guest editor? The one last month had given five or six sermons by this time."

It sure is a relief to be able to read this blog again without feeling like you are hearing yet another WCG sermon.

For someone who kept saying you can't prove god's existence, he certainly quoted a lot of scriptures that just made my eyes roll.

anonSeven21

Ralph said...

Yes, and Anon seven 21, what does quoting scripture have to do with proof of God's existence one way or another? The real issue would be in what context I used the scripture, wouldn;t it?

IOW, for your obviously dull witted mind, what actually was the point of the essay? Ad hominem, of which you folks seem quiote capable. The same type of system used by the WCG to intimidate, shame, bully, censor, eliminate all who weren't of the "official" creed or doctrine.

You learned well from those you claim to hate.

Purple Hymnal said...

"What's happened to our guest editor?"

Quality over quantity? Methinks this month won't be nearly so repetitive and trance-inducing as February's were.....

Ralph said...

Purple, I'm sure you're in a deep trqance, like your cohorts, trying to figure out how to prove me wrong. That's why your comebacks are the weakest of all arguments in the arsenal: ad hominem.

No wonder you're in a trance. I've so dazzled you with brilliance that you simply sit and stare in dazed wonderment.

Even with all the quanitity of my posts, you'd think there'd be just one little thing you could find a flaw.

Yep, trance, indeed!

The Painful Truth said...

Al,
One thing that atheism does not cover is the outright possibility that a higher power may exists.

This power may be the unknown god that Paul could have refereed to in his writings, assuming his work was altered.

As I see it, the idea of a creator has no mathematical probability as to the creation/creator link, nor do I care. What I would denote to others is the mathematical possibility of such a higher power without the additional baggage of servitude or homage accompanied with a holy writ that declare the world as a god made creation.

A higher power that may steer events for humanity as for some unknown purpose may be a possibility. As a good agnostic I can say with confidence that I do not know, nor do I care.

If I was to start down that road at this point, I would eventually convince myself as to my suspicions. I care not to walk that path ever again. Thank you Tkach.

Retired Prof said...

I like this statement by James: "As a good agnostic I can say with confidence that I do not know, nor do I care."

I believe it was blogger Amy Alkon who expressed this attitude and called herself an "apatheist."

Anon said...

Ralph said: "Yes, and Anon seven 21, what does quoting scripture have to do with proof of God's existence one way or another? The real issue would be in what context I used the scripture, wouldn;t it?"

My issue is that you quoted a huge volume of scripture in your arguments for the belief of god. You don't seem to have any other points of reference. I've heard so many similar arguments in my years in WCG. Same old sh*t.

anonSeven21

Ralph said...

AnonSeven21, you provide a reasonable complaint that can be responded to in a reasonable way. Since we are all of a background that once accepted the bible as "the word of God", it is impossible to use any other scripture as a process of examination between actual perceived reality and the teachings of Jesus and his disciples and Paul.

For example, Look around you at any physical evidence you choose to consider, and tell me this: is there any possible decision procedure whatever that you can see which verifies the existence of God?

No? Then obviously, given no proof in any absolute sense as to whether there is a God, you would have to conclude that Paul's statement in Romans 8:7 is consistent with reality as far as it can be proven, the reason being that whether there actually is a God, or whether our minds are actually enmity against an existent God, the results will be EXACTLY THE SAME.

Second point: Is there a decision procedure to prove that, if there is such a God, can we prove any type of special relationship with God?

Well, Romans 8:7 would cancel that possibility right off, for starters. If the natural mind is enmity against God, OR if there is no God, whichever one you choose to believe, there simply can exist no decision procedure to prove that we are moving toward or away from that God, and that is precisely what Paul says in Romans 9:16-22, which, again, is fully consistent with what we see by actual observation.

Does it prove God exists? No, nor does it try to. It merely makes a statement which is consistent with the reality we see around us.

Simple logic. Now, suppose I use the Tibetan Book of The Dead, or the Koran, or MAD Magazine. If it makes a statement that is consistent with what we can show, as far as we can prove, it must be true, at least as far as our ability to prove it so.

However, we can take the logic a step further and say that, since there is no proof in any case, even assuming that the statement is true, there STILL can exist no possible decision procedure by which any person can provably alter his/her destiny.

From all logical perspectives, therefore, Romans 8:7 is true and Romans 9:16-22 is true.

If that is true, then so is John 6:44 as far as we can prove, since if there is a God, then there exists no decision procedure on my or your part to get from "here" to "there".

If that is true, then so is Matthew 24:23.

Here is the point: I'm not using the bible to prove the bible. I'm merely quoting what is obvious from simple observation, and pointing out that the bible states the same thing, which is a scientifically acceptable process.

What you have called the same old sh*t, is actually an attempt by numerous religions to prove that THEIR particular religion is somehow connected to God, as HWA did, but in fact, Jesus himself cancelled this possibility with Matthew 24:23 as did Paul in Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22.

In fact, it is not "the same old sh*t" precisely because it points out the simple and logical fact frm the bible, and agreeing with observation, that we CANNOT make such a choice, nor do we need to follow anyone.

The only way you can prove it IS the "same old sh*t" is to demonstrate that Paul and Jesus actually DID show us a particular religion to join.

I hope that clarifies it.

Ralph said...

Retired Prof, see my response to Anon. From all I can see, you have merely agreed with the points I have made. As James says from your statement, and a statement with which you agree, youj really don't care, which is a perfectly valid and reasonable conclusion.

If you did care, would it matter? Would you provably change anything at all? Possibly, but you wouldn't be able to prove that "God" had directed your actions. All you would prove is that you BELIEVE that God did or did not direct your actions, according to your beliefs.

Whatever actions you DO perform will simply be your actions, and that's as far as any proof can go.

But that is what Paul said. You can't prove any special relation between yourself and God.

Actually, the "apatheism" that resulted from HWA's influence is a natural result, and from what I've seen, a necessary evolutionary result.

One cannot think logically or in any truly free sense unless one is free from the "crowd impulse" of either religion or government.

It seems the same rapid turnover rate is occurring among JWs now, and it will continue to acclerate in time as we move away from the old mechanical paradigms to the world of electronic communications.

Ralph said...

I just wanted to add that Retired Prof's statement of "apatheist" belief is the natural result of Romans 8:7.

If there is no way of making the correctr decision regardeing God or Jesus, and if all such attempts result in the more than 38,000 versions of christianity we see around us, then Retired Prof's statement of apatheism would correspond precisely to what jesus said in Matthew 24:23. No point in following anybody.

It's merely logic at work.

PT Reader. said...

Ralphie asked:

"What's your problem, PT?"

Well, please take this in the spirit it is offered. This isn't a hint.

I have absolutely no interest at all in any of your boring and borrowed sermons. And considering how many have ignored your challenges, I guess I'm not alone.

Now take a hike.

Ralph said...

Well of course you have no interest, PT reader, for the very simple reason that apprently you or your cohorts can find no flaw in my logic. You have no answers, so you exercise the only logical choice.

You've learned from your WCG fathers quite well.

Obviously you take the coward's route when you can't answer a challenge. And that's how you closeminded people work. If you can't insult, belittle, intimidate, or if you can;t find suitable argument, you then attempt to shun or drive out those of a different view.

I remember ministers telling me that they came to work one day, with no hint of any prolems, and they were told to take a hike, kicked out because they happened to be associated with someone the church didn't like.

You have shown no capacity whatever even to begin to challenge my thinking, so now you go the collectivist route. Gather the people around you and proclaim a religion of no religion, a religion that controls and intimidates anyone who dares to question or challenge your thinking.

You didn't leave the WCG, PT reader, you swallowed all its worst parts.

Retired Prof said...

Ralph said, "From all I can see, you have merely agreed with the points I have made."

Well, yes. It's just that the horse was dead before you started beating it. I mean, you used a different stick and all, but still . . . .

Ralph said...

Thanks for responding, Retired Prof, and you're correct. The horse is dead, no sense in beating it, etc, all true. You know that, I know that, eveyrone here knows that there' is no religion you can join that is of God.

My main contention, however, is that there exists millions who do not and cannot see these logical connections. What if, years and years ago, before HWA, someone had come and said, "You can;t join a true church of God. Here are plain statements that tell you it is simply impossible to do so".

No one was saying that. If you were like me, yopu were looking for just anybody that could get you on the right track. It wasn;t taught in schools, in religions, anywhere.

But just imagine if we were told that truth begins in individual freedom, that you need not follow any man, that even jesus himself pointed out these things?

There would be no HWAs, no JWs, none of these things that caused such pain for so many.

But if you agree, even in princile that I'm beating a dead horse, wouldn;t it be of advantage to people who are out there and want to knw the truth, to be able to explore every possible avenue of truth, and not try in any way to eliminate open dialogue?

If you read anything I've written, you can see that I'm not advocating that anyone should join any religion. Quite the opposite. Should someone stumble across this discussion group, looking for all possible truths, shouldn;t they be allowed to explore every possibility of which all of us may be aware?

Can there be any healing at all if every unpopular statement is subjected to attempted bullying and shunning?

Have we grown? CAN we grow? Or have we merely absorbed all the nastiest parts of that which we learned to hate? My dad always used to tell me that you can learn from anybody if you try, even if you learn they're not to be trusted.

I don't think anybody can say s/he knows all the answers, but I do think we can go a lot further than we are.

The Painful Truth said...

Ralph commenting to overbearing and pompous PT Reader said...

"Gather the people around you and proclaim a religion of no religion, a religion that controls and intimidates anyone who dares to question or challenge your thinking.
You didn't leave the WCG, PT reader, you swallowed all its worst parts."

And that Ralph is the perfect description of an combative, militant atheist. Always a war to fight against those who are different. Maybe we need a new civil rights movement here in the land of xhwa.

X-HWA Civil Rights: A class of rights and freedoms that protects individuals from unwarranted action by an individual(s) and ensures their ability to participate in a civil discourse without discrimination or repression from others for being of different race or opinion.

I believe that Felix Taylor should second that.

purplehymnal said...

"If I was to start down that road at this point, I would eventually convince myself as to my suspicions. I care not to walk that path ever again. Thank you Tkach."

Yes, a thousand times agreed James, YES.

purplehymnal said...

"I totally agree conscience is dependent on the mental concepts each person has. That will be treated in more detail when I post my next article."

Looking forward to this, Al!

purplehymnal said...

"Ralph commenting to overbearing and pompous PT Reader said"

You've got the object and subject in that sentence reversed, James.

Retired Prof said...

Allen, I am intrigued by your statement, "The word 'miracle' has really been cheapened, especially by people with a religious bent."

I hope you take this subject up in some detail in one of your later posts.

Meanwhile, thanks for the perspective on your outlook.

The Painful Truth said...

Purple,

quid pro quo :-)

Ralph said...

Allen says its okay to be agnostic. I agree. In fact, with the discovery of Godel's theorem, it's not only okay to be agnostic, but it's the only truthful position one can take.

The reason is simple enough: there exists no single mind, brain, or system of thought that will ever capture all truth in one package. That means no religion can represent all truth, and no government, or collective power can do so.

In order to state there is no God, one would have to prove one's knowledge sufficiently complete to demonstrate that there is no room for anyting to exist outside that knowledge. Since that would violate Godel's theorem, atheism cannot be the "default" position of authority.

But neither can theism. There is no such position of authority to which any human mind is compelled to bow, and the acceptance of such an auythroity would amount to idolatry.

I disagree with Allen only on one point: it's not just "okay" to be agtnostic. It's the only truthful position any human can take.

Mel said...

Hi, Allen.
Thanks for the content of your blog post.
I agree that "it's OK to be an agnostic"
I pretty much grew up in the WCG(never baptized, I split that scene), and I've been through various phases since- including Buddhist, Christian, and New-Agey stuff.
In retrospect, I realize that in each of those phases, I thought I had solid answers and knowledge.
I think it tends to be a hubris-thing to say to one's self that one has discovered the answers to ultimate mysteries of the universe.

I look back and cringe a bit when I think of "how I was" at those different stages.

Due to watching my (and others') life experiences, psychological 'storms' have occurred, which have cleared my mind of various ideas that were not worth holding on to.

But I will also say that it's OK to be a Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu (and a host of other religious persuasions), as long as those beliefs don't end up making the particular believer hurt others.
Of course, sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't.

Miguel de la Rodente said...

A thought for the day: A deist is simply someone who does not realize that it is mankind's sin that has separated him from God.

Anon said...

Ralph said: "Well of course you have no interest, PT reader, for the very simple reason that apprently you or your cohorts can find no flaw in my logic."

No flaw in your logic? WHAT?

All you do is quote scriptures on and on and on to prove your "logic"? Therein lies the flaw.

anonSeven21

Corky said...

Miguel de la Rodente said...
A thought for the day: A deist is simply someone who does not realize that it is mankind's sin that has separated him from God.

"Mankind's sin"? I thought it was Adam's sin that supposedly did that.

It is said that this all took place in a magical garden where there were two magical trees and a magical talking snake - somewhere in Mesopotamia.

Mesopotamia is the only real part of the story.

"Mankind's sin"? The one and only sin of all mankind appears to be the sin of being born human - but whose fault is that? And, is that a sin? What about Jesus? Wasn't he born human? Was he God in disquise? Can God die?

Original sin is the invention of a disease of which we all need a cure. The only thing is, no disease, no need of a cure.

Since we are all born human, live human and die human - there evidently is no cure for this imagined disease.

No, I haven't forgotten about the resurrection. However, I haven't seen that any more than I have had a conversation with a magical talking snake that could converse in a human language.

One thing's for sure, no one is going to come back from the dead and call the teacher of the myth a liar, so the congame is still a safe way for the teacher to steal your money.

Ralph said...

Anon Seven 21, thank you again for your response. Can one quote scriptures to prove a logical point? Only if those scriptures are shown to be consistent with reality as best as we can prove it.

Let me once again respond with a statement which, for some reason, you choose to ignore.

Can you demonstrate a decision procedure by which we can provably get from "here" to God"?

Obviously the answer is no. If you agree, then you are forced logically to conclude that if the bible makes a statement consistent with this recognized fact, then the biblical statement must be true.

Therefore, if I quote a bible scripture and it is consistent with reality as far as we can prove it, then we have no logical conclusion but to accept it as true.

Let me quote from Douglas Hofstadter in "Godel, Escher, Bach", in case you don't trust my statement:

"...a system-plus-interpretation is consistent with the external world if every theorem comes out true when intetrpreted".

Therefore, if we examine the thousands upon thousands of various notions of God, and none of them show any possible provable decision procedure by which we may get from here to God, then we must conclude there are none.

For consistency with that, we can simply look at Romans 9:16-22, which tells us clearly that, in fact, there are NO decisions by which we can ever establish any provable, special relationship with God.

By Hofstadter's definition, we therefore have a true statement, and we have demonstrated, simply by quoting the bible, that it is true.

IF that is the case, are there any possible groups or people we can follow that will be proven to correctly represent "Christ"?

Following logically, the answer must again be NO, which is what Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:23. We have, therefore, proven the bible true at least from that point of view.

Corky points out that Jesus was advocating we follow no one but HIM when he made that statement. However, Allen has pointed out that Jesus is a composite, made up of perhaps many characters.

Since we have no proof of such a Jesus by Allen's admission, we must conclude that Matthew 24:23 is TRUE and stands alone as a true statement, regardless of who might have made it.

Anon, I enjoy these lectures on simple logic, and I hope that you have learned something from them. Have a nice day.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Hi back, Mel,

If you've read my book, also on this site, Believing the Unbelievable, you've found that the path you've trodden is very similar to the paths we all take on our awakening.

You're right. Everyone likes to think they have special knowledge and an "in" to ultimate truth. Wisdom comes with abandoning that vain search.


I'm going to pu publish another article this weekend that I think you will find interesting and helpful.

Like you, I don't care a fig what someone else wants to believe, as long as they leave me alone. Sadly, there is far too little of that live and let live attitude in this world.

Retired Prof said...

Corky asks: "The one and only sin of all mankind appears to be the sin of being born human - but whose fault is that? And, is that a sin?"

I'm not one to call attention to blame where blame is obvious, so I'll work on question two. Sin is the placing of one's own will in contravention to the will of god. And that principle, Corky, affirms your charge that it is a sin to be born human, but your answer is not broad enough. Any creature that can turn left when it should go right, or look down when it should look up, is capable of contravening the will of god.

More evidence: the wages of sin is death. If things die, they must have collected their wages. Just basic logic.

So it is also a sin to be born canine. I have owned dogs whose lives were destroyed by their devotion to one or more of the Seven Deadly Sins--Pride, Envy, Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Gluttony, and Lechery. Some of them committed idolatry, mistaking me for a deity. Two of them independently discovered the Eleventh Commandment: "Thou shalt not vandalize thy master's upholstery." Oh, friends and brethren, when I get going on the sins of dogs, I can preach on and on, though I mercifully cut my sermon way short of Gerald Waterhouse magnitude.

It is a sin to be born porcine. I heard of a razorback boar once that exploded as fitting punishment for breaking the commandment "Thou shalt not steal." He ate six sticks of dynamite that belonged to somebody else.

It is a sin to be born equine. I knew a mule that got struck dead by lightning for the sin of bearing false witness. He would pretend to have a sore shoulder every time we tried to ride him.

It is a sin to be born bovine. That same lightning strike that felled the mule also killed four cows. At first we were mystified about why god had punished them. As far as we knew not a one of them had ever told a lie in her life. Knowing god is perfect and would never permit the slaughter of innocents, we finally decided they must have been guilty of some secret sin that can be committed deep in the inner recesses of the heart. That being the case, no one will ever know what that sin was, but I've got my suspicions. I think they had coveted their neighbor's ox.

Ralph said...

Retired Prof, let me add to your humorous statement. You mention that God was good and would not slaughter innocents, but I find some contradictory statements in Isaiah 45:7: "I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things".

It would seem that God does indeed slaughter innocents, so your beliefs must have been wrong 'way back then.

And of course there's Amos 3:6:"...shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?".

Ol' HWA used to say God never created Satan. Satan had to create himself by something called free will. Free will, now there's something to think about. God is supposed to be all knowing, but somehow, Satan managed to act in rebellion against God.

But if that was God speaking in Isaiah, apparently God did create Satan, which would make him responsible for every act of evil and all acts which you describe in your very humorous post.

As a consequence, whatever "sin" is, it would seem, in agreement with your post, that we're all subject to it. And if that is the case, by your conclusions, there would be no logical way to escape it, would there?

Death is the payoff. And even worse, as Paul points out, it is inescapable. Good points.

purplehymnal said...

"it is a sin to be born human"

That's it, I'm done, I need to get this post-WCG-Christian negativity out of my life, for once and for all.

Will keep reading the articles, and am looking forward to more, Allen, but I shall refrain from the comments section from this point.

DennisDiehl said...

Or perhaps we all really are hairless apes who were able to acquire speech which lead to speaking to ourselves without verbalizing which lead to consciousness, writing and making up stories to comfort and amaze each other. Soon some really smart apes became Priests, picked the best stories and figured out a way to control the other hairless conscious (sorta) apes with religion and the rest is history. :) Hey it could happen!

"Stay home from Church...Save Ten Percent."

Allen C. Dexter said...

Purplehymnal, that's a good resolve. I've been amazed at all the arguing back and forth and deliberately avoided getting involved. I don't claim to know everything and am only on here to help those who are still hurting and searching in whatever way I can. That's the real purpose of this site.

Retired Prof said...

I was just trying to lighten the mood with a little parody. Sorry the satire didn't work for everybody.

purplehymnal said...

Eeeep, now I'm embarrassed! Sorry Prof! :-)

The best way to troll like that is anonymously, didn't you figure that out? LOL. But I don't think the atmosphere here is quite the same as at AW....Most of the "true churcher" comments there were random regulars, exorcising former dogmatic beliefs.

(Damn. Now the cat's out.)

Although I do have say, I was really disappointed with the back-and-forth on "god's laws" that took place; I mean, I *know* it's false bibliomancy and religious superstition, but the atheists who got involved, just didn't bring anything compelling as a counterpoint.

I've got no compelling arguments, either, except that i don't think CoG reality works very well, here, in this world. ("The" world?)

Which I guess is the point the Christians like to make, about the church turning its ex-members away from all religions; the only difference is, I'm mostly happy with being unreligious. Even though it does mean I will always be looking at things from a slightly different perspective.

Ralph said...

I will defend anybody's right to express an opinion, but as I've repeated many times, there is a difference between disagreements as to the content of one's statement, and an ad hominem attack on the person him/her self.

My challenge remains. Prove me wrong. When I say "me", I'm not talking about the fact that I'm an arrogant, hateful, disgusting s.o.b.

I will accept all those along with "moron" "stupid" or whatever, and acknowledge them as true.

The truth of those accusations, however, are of no relation to the content of my statements on this blog.

Attacking the messenger instead of the message is an ad hominem fallacy. This type of argument simply has no place in civilized discourse. A true thinker should evaluate all comments, as James has stated, without regard to the opponent's race, sex, age, or personal nature of the opponent.

What counts is the statement itself. Is it true, and if so, what are the conclusions to be derived?

For example, the statements below say that the COGs tend to drive people out of religion altogether.

I believe that is a desirable condition, because it allows for the increase of individual thought processes, increases personal options along with personal freedoms. But it is NOT contradictory with the stated aims of one alleged to be Jesus in the bible. The logical results of the pursuit of truth will create a "sword" that makes a man enemies of his own household, to paraphrase Matthew 10:34-38.

This is also the logical result of Romans 8:7. Why do I emphasize that one scripture? because it gives us the possibility of a syllogism by which we may determine certain logical results.

Example: (If)All natural minds are enmity against God
(And)I have a natural mind
(Then)My mind is enmity against God.

If true, this tells me to be aware of my own thought processes when attempting to represent God. It forces me to "self reference" aall my thoughts, but it also tells me to question the thoughts of all others.

But if my own thoughts are questionable, what do I use as a determinant of truth? Obviously, that which is both internally consistent, as far as I can tell, and that which is consistent with the external world. I am forced, by the very necessity of existence, to stand "outside" any collective system and check its motivations and purposes in regard to my own personal freedom.

In that pursuit, no person can be a legitimate authority over me in any absolute sense, which agrees in principle with Matthew 24:23.

So, the determined pursuit of truth will drive people away from not only religion, but any human authority system that claims to represent truth in any absolute sense.