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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fear of God

In a speech in Germany, Pope Benedict attacked both Islam and secularism. During the course of that speech, he said that atheists are "afraid of God." This sticks in my mind because, ironically, an acquaintance of mine had asked me if I was an unbeliever because I fear God! (And she's not even Catholic!)

I simply answered, "How can I fear or be afraid of anything that doesn't even exist?"

I went on to say, "Frankly, in certain situations, I'm actually much more afraid of militant religionists. I wouldn't want to meet one in a dark alley somewhere."

(Of course, I can't even remember a time when I was ever in a dark alley.)

Many followers of religion malign and kill each other in great numbers over insignificant issues. Austin Cline, in an article about fear of God and atheism, stated: "Beliefs [of religious adherents] can cause them to develop inflated egos all out of proportion to anything that is really deserved. This does not mean, however, that any of their beliefs have any basis in reality or that their gods, spirits, fairies, and whatnot are anything to be afraid of."

Fear based on religious faith that cannot be proven true often leaves emotional scars. Many of those who were in the Worldwide Church of God and other legalistic belief systems can attest to that fact.

Of course, I know that atheists are in the minority, but our numbers are growing. Fear would most probably greatly diminish if we understood what Clarence Darrow articulated in a most astute article. This agnostic (primarily famous because of the Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee way back in 1925) said:

"When we fully understand the brevity of life, its fleeting joys and unavoidable pains; when we accept the facts that all men and women are approaching an inevitable doom: the consciousness of it should make us more kindly and considerate of each other. This feeling should make men and women use their best efforts to help their fellow travelers on the road, to make the path brighter and easier as we journey on. It should bring a closer kinship, a better understanding, and a deeper sympathy for the wayfarers who must live a common life and die a common death."

I admire that man. We need more like him.

To me, the fear of God is not the beginning of wisdom, but the end.

61 comments:

Ralph said...

Fear of God based on religious faith must be properly defined in terms of truth.

If I have faith in a dogma or doctrine or set of rules established by any human that says "this will earn you salvation", I'm screwed. I'm not living in fear of God, but of men.

So, the fear of God in truth is actually the beginning of wisdom, since the truth is, we don;t have to fear powers of men, or as Peter said in Acts, we ought to follow God rather than men.

Does an atheist follow God? An atheist follows truth as based on physical evidence that demonstrates there is no human religion that can represent God.

But that follows from Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22m whether you wish to read it, believe it, or accept it. It must be true even within your own universe, simply because it corresponds weith what you believe as true.

To "fear God" and to pursue God in any intellectual manner, therefore, will ultimately lead you to freedom from all religious concepts of men, but in doing so, you merely arrive at what Jesus already told us in Matthew 24:23.

Even in Paul's writings, when he entered a city dedicated to all the Gods, he chose the "unknown God" as the one of truth, because the very idea that we cannot know God by any humnan method of reason corresponds with his statement in Romans 8:7.

The instant you seek God with any intellectually consistent effort, even as a believer, you find yourself confronted with the increasing contradictions inherent by your own pursuit of something to believe.

You then end up "apologizing for Christ" or you simply realize there is no point in following any human religion, because they are equally full of bullshit.

In short, even if you choose to believe, you are forced to confront the freedom created by your own uncertainty, and you fulfill exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-38. If you pursue truth, it will, of sheer necessity, make you free, like it or not. First, of course, it will make you miserable.

So the fear of God actually is the beginning of wisdom, first because it makes you look for an authority higher than the mind of men, which you will end up realizing doesn't exist, and second, you will realize trhat if no suich authority exists, why should any collective authority, church or state, be superior to your own freedom to live by your conscience?

Whether God exists or not, you end up inevitably, if you are honest with yourself, ending up with exactly the same reality of uncertainty and freedom.

You shall know the truth, and the truith will make you free.

Kinda like predestination.

Purple Hymnal said...

"To me, the fear of God is not the beginning of wisdom, but the end."

"(18)
(1) The disciples said to Jesus: "Tell us how our end will be."
(2) Jesus said: "Have you already discovered the beginning that you are now asking about the end?
For where the beginning is, there the end will be too.
(3) Blessed is he who will stand at the beginning.
And he will know the end, and he will not taste death."


- The Gospel of Thomas

In Gnostic myth, the angry, jealous, wrathful, spiteful, hate-filled, fear-mongering, Yahweh God is described as an "abortion" -- a deformed, malign figure, that emanated from Sophia (Wisdom) as a result of her separation from the Pleroma (the Gnostic term for the panentheism).

The Apocryphon of John even riffs on the "I AM" verse from the OT by having the blind god, Samael ("blind" in Aramaic) say "I am God alone and there is no other beside me", prompting Sophia (Wisdom) to touch her finger to the waters of the world, and give the blind god and his archons (archangels) a glimpse of the Pleroma.

There are clear parallels to the inner workings of the human mind in this allegory. It is quite clearly a parable to guard against being "wrapped in a cloud" as the blind god Samael was/is, being centred entirely upon one's self and one's own delusions, to the exclusion of seeing the vast richness of the universe around you, just as it is. Taking the red pill, in a manner of speaking. Listening to that still, small voice inside, that tells us the right thing to do and the right way to go, when we are paying attention. (Do I assign deific or anthropomorphic elements to this still, small, voice? Of course not. That still, small voice, is my own. When I pay attention. When I remember.)

To tie it back to that verse from Thomas that I quoted at the top of the article, "fear of God" is the end of wisdom; but freeing yourself from that fear is the beginning.

That's my take on it, anyway.

Ralph said...

Samael, from the Dr Seuss poem "Sam I am". I do not like green eggs and ham...

One can do the pasychotherapy thing in all kinds of ancient writings. Erich Fromm used the Garden of Eden with great success, and in fact I can show emerging parallels between language, programming, and the resulting confusion from the use of languages as indirect representations of reality.

However one defines God, by whatever language, it will be wrong. The use of language is an indirect representation of reality, and therefore can only produce a "babel" of conflicting interpretations.

Any choice of any religion, therefore, will only produce increasing diversity. That is fully consistent with Romans 8:7 and Matthew 24:23 as well as Matt 10:34-38. These serve as excellent proof texts, since they state resultant facts that correspond to the reality we see around us. They provide referrents to reality itself. If they do not correspond to reality, then it would fall on any person top prove that the natural mind is not enmity against God, and there actually is a religion of truth which we should obey.

This sort of slaps gnosticism right in the face, that is, if gnosticism is to know, since we cannot know.

In fact, from what I could make of your references to gnosticism, it pretty much confirmed that we cannot know.

As for a still, small voice telling us what is right, it can only do so in a very limited sense, and generally according to what we have been taught culturally is true.

That still, small voice is responsible for 38,000 versions of christianity and who knows how many other religions.

Byker Bob said...

In my thirty years of agnosticism, I did not have any fear, whatsoever, of God. I don't now, as a Christian, because I've learned His true character and have overwritten all of the WCG's horrid, self-serving distortions.

I've also become aware of a bit deeper understanding of the word or words which were translated as "fear" by the council which King James assembled. A better representation would involve the word "awe". That is more in keeping with God's holy character, and His incredible abilities. It's why we read in the Book of Revelation about beings continuously praising Him. He is a loving parent, and we are His children.

I have to say that I'm in a really good space right now. I've received more healing over the past three years than I had experienced in three decades as a non-believer. I've also reached incredible new understanding of some philosophical and spiritual isses that had plagued me most of my adult life. But, this is like any other personal experience in that it has meaning chiefly to me.
Sharing often inspires other Christians, but another person would need to have experienced similar things as a result of his or her personal relationship with God in order to be able to relate or comprehend.

Having a wonderful time! Wish you were all here!

BB

Ralph said...

BB, how do you know we're not all there?

The Painful Truth said...

Is anyone having a problem with their comments not showing up after pushing the publish button?
If so, Email me at painfultruth@hushmail.com

The Painful Truth said...

Test on pop-up window.

Corky said...

Nope. I don't like the pop-up window.

But then, I don't like all the bells and whistles on the PT website either. Plain and simple is always better - especially simple.

Retired Prof said...

Pop-up window makes it easier to flip back and forth between the original post and the comments. It was disconcerting at first, but as I get used to it, I can see advantages.

Tony said...

"Beliefs [of religious adherents] can cause them to develop inflated egos all out of proportion to anything that is really deserved. This does not mean, however, that any of their beliefs have any basis in reality or that their gods, spirits, fairies, and whatnot are anything to be afraid of."

I've certainly seen those egos exhibited here by the postings of a number of believers.

To me there is a serene humility in saying I was born a few years ago and in a few more years I will die. And that was me.

Quite the opposite of claiming eternal life because the god you believe in is the one true god over all other gods that mankind has invented and you have followed this one true gods formula for salvation.

Ralph said...

Purple writes of "Victorian math" and then uses, of all things, the Gnostic gospels! Amazing.

Byker Bob said...

"How do you know we're not all there?"

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, know the difference and ain't never goin' back.

Actually, it did take me about thirty years to burn out on non-belief, and to realize that non-belief is a complete dead-end detour. If it were marijuana, we'd have to call it "creeper" weed.

BB

Ralph said...

You believe, but you're just one in 38,000 versions, none of which can prove any foundation for what they believe.

I believe exactly what Paul points out in Romans 8 and 9 as a foundational process from which to proceed, and can show that that very foundational system explains why there are so many different versions of christianity, as Jesus predicted.

You take basic ideas based on logic and argue for subjectivity, which in itself shows you have no proof, nor can you show why anyone would need to believe as you.

The problem is, truth is consistent with all truth. You haven't proven anything, and you decide for yourself even what your own book is supposed to mean.

If that makes you happy, fine, but trying to pretend youre somewhere that other people should be is ridiculous. I suppose you'd call me a non-believer.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Purple writes of "Victorian math" and then uses, of all things, the Gnostic gospels!"

Well, to be fair, I can make the same point using dialogue from Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. At least I'm not insisting the Gnostic gospels are literally "true", nor do I insist that they must be "believed in" by the other commenters here; I just personally find the allegories contained therein to be instructive for me.

Nothing wrong with that, is there?

Ralph said...

The difference being Purple, that your "Victorian math" is actually true. It is a proven theorem. It is pretty much fondational in the study of both minds and machines.

What is absurd is the fact that you use ad hominem attacks on a proven mathematical theorem while you point out that the Gnostic Gospels are true for you.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but to attack a proven theorem and then use writings from the same general period as the ones you condemn is a bit ridiculous.

The Painful Truth said...

Corkey said...

"But then, I don't like all the bells and whistles on the PT website either. Plain and simple is always better - especially simple."

What is so complex about the website?
I found the old version of the PT rather boring. Graphics and color are the key to attracting people and get them to start exploring. This is what I have done.

Corky said...

"Exploring" is the right word, James. I had to explore for two hours one day to find an article I read 5 years ago.

...and that little spin thingy on the left side of the homepage, what's that for anyway? And, where is the link to the Kscribe forum called "the caustic truth" but used to be called "The Painful Truth"?

The site looks pretty though, on the homepage. Except for the pictures of HWA, GTA and Loma.

Anyway, this pop-up box is not so bad since I've gotten used to it.

Corky said...

For a real surprize, at least it was for me, go to dennisdiehl.com

Corky said...

Darn, I misspelled surprise.

Allen C. Dexter said...

As far as I'm cponcerned, the site looks good and is about as well organized as it can be. It's a challenge to try to explore everything, but it's far more interesting than anything else I know of. You're doing an overall excellent job, James.

Ralph said...

I took Corky's advice and flipped over to Dennisdiehl.com, and then I flipped to David C. Pack and the RCG. I haven't been keeping up with much of this, since it's warmed over HWA.

The PT site is different because James has worked to bring tolerance of various opinions and the right to explore fully all opinions without censorship.

The PT site will, in the internet age, prove far more successful because of that, I believe.

The discussion about "God", whether for or against, is a subject that requires the full exploration and input of everyone, and a willingness to hear and place ourselves in the other person's shoes.

James has done an admirable job in this regard.

Ralph said...

In looking at the opening statements of the RCG video, it became quickly evident to me that most religious concwepts are trapped in the "mechanical" paradigm of whistles, lever, gears, and pulleys of hierarchical systems.

This was the accepted format from Constantine's time, built from code laws of the Romans empire, through the popes and finally th HWA.

But in fact, Jesus himself described a far more advanced system when he said "consider the lilies of the field" and to "take no thought for tomorrow". This same thought is included in Luke 12, where Jesus was asked to sepak to a follower's brother in order to divide the inheritance.

Jesus quickly responded that he was not a divider or judge over such things, but that we are to live this life to the full.

In short, Jesus seemed to be condemning all corpiorate systems in which power was to be perpetuated beyond death through inheritance of wealth.

That would explain why rich men weren't to be allowed in the "kingdom of God" meaning the judgement of men over other men in a court of law(Matt 23:13, Luke 11:52).

Epigenetics is now one of the most amazing parallels to Jesus' statement to "consider the lilies of the field", an unconscious process of information transfer in which all system cooperate and coordinate to perpetuate life, not an isolated system that seeks to name itself as the one and only true representative of God or truth.

This is the essence of my discussion with Barry Kumnick, a talented software engineer who is developing computere systems that seek to by-pass the limitations of language and interact according to feedback systwems that allows all living systems a process of direct representation.

I remember Ernest Martin touching on this back in 1974 with his concept of "grapevine government" in which "I am the vine and you are the branches", meaning that each person is DIRECTLY connected to the system of governance, having no need of hierarchy to decide what is truth. Today, that "grapevine government" may be realized by the internet.

The Painful Truth said...

Corky said...

"Exploring is the right word, James. I had to explore for two hours one day to find an article I read 5 years ago."

That is why I have this page:
http://www.hwarmstrong.com/1-article-index.htm

It is the site-map. The link on the front page says "Complete Articles Index" and has everything on the site. Nothing is missed as I use a generator to map the site. Something past editors had to do manually.

None of the other pages that link to various articles has changed. Everything is as before I took the helm of the Painful Truth.

The Painful Truth said...

Corkey, I forgot to mention what those spin thingy on the left side of the homepage are. The denote an update or new material. Mike or John started this to denote the new or modified material.

Corky said...

The Painful Truth said...
Corkey,

Where in Corky do you see an "e"?

As many times as you see my name on here . . . what's the problem?

The PT site is your site, don't pay any attention to me, okay? I don't even know who you are. You seemed to have just "appeared" this year - where have you been all this time before?

The Painful Truth Forum had to change it's name because of you. I don't like you - whoever you are.

The Painful Truth said...

Ok Corky you said...

"The Painful Truth Forum had to change it's name because of you"

Untrue. The forum has always served at the pleasure of the Painful Truth editor. The elimination of the link from the main page was simply a divorce.

At one time the PT forum was for assisting others in withdrawing from Armstrong-ism. Something changed.The forum had/has two members that bash others for having any religious beliefs. The moderator never intervened.

I find that unacceptable behavior and because of this I have eliminated any relationship between the forum and the Painful Truth.

"You seemed to have just "appeared" this year - where have you been all this time before?"

I "appeared" last year at the request of John who was the fourth editor of the Painful Truth after his first pick for new editor did not pan out. So if you have a bone to pick talk to John.

"The Painful Truth Forum had to change it's name because of you. I don't like you - whoever you are."

Blame the bashers on the forum for the demise, not me. Nothing can justify the name-calling, rudeness, and simple ugliness that those few on the forum invariably find so necessary. And really now, do you think for a fleeting moment if I really care if you don't like me? Your inclinations to blame others is a public admission of your immaturity and insensitivity.

Byker Bob said...

How could you have a site, as wealthy as the PT is with resources and archives, and not have it be a challenge to navigate? That is part of the pleasure or mystique of it all. Big city vs small country town.

I've been kicking around here for the past ten years, and it appears to me that we're seeing a resurgence in terms of the interest the editor puts into the site, the fairness to all who wish to visit and post, and the attraction of new people, and new ideas.

I had left the forum for various reasons several years ago. At one time, and with my past biker background, I had enjoyed all of the flaming. In the old days, it made me laugh when things would happen like liberals being accused of having tertiary syphilis. But, there was a fundamental problem with this. The site exists to assist people who are leaving a very dangerous and toxic cult. To do that, one must remain somewhat neutral, and appropriate with one's objectivity. One editor even tried to declare it as an atheist site, thus invalidating the real purpose, and running off some troubled people who didn't want to believe that their only avenue of escape from Armstrongism was to totally suspend belief.

John Trechak, in my opinion, set the best possible example for assisting Armstrongites. I don't know his spiritual status at the time of his untimely death, but he was a good personal friend of mine, and during the time I knew him, he identified himself as Christian. James seems to be what we call a deist. He also seems to be the first person who has come along in quite a long time who shares the high standards which John set for us all.

Bottom line, help works best when it is not partisan, whether that term refers to liberal or conservative, believer or non-believer. That's the only way in which freedom of choice can be maintained. I include myself and my views in this. I believe that we would totally destroy the value of this site if it became exclusively a "Christian" site, although I do hope that many people exiting the ACOG splinters will pursue a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and Father God.

BB

Corky said...

Thanks for clearing that up, James.

Personally, I think it was the evolution and global warming deniers - who also happen to be ID advocates and extreme right wingers.

In reality, it was everyone's fault for being Armstrongite minded. You know, "I'm right and you're wrong". You can see it here on this blog too.

On the anti-theist side of the argument I'm probably the worst of the lot. On the theist side, I can't really tell who is the worst of the lot, they all sound silly to me.

I think I'll do like Dennis and abandon theological discussions, because no one can see the other's side and nothing is gained.

Allen C. Dexter said...

BB said:

"Bottom line, help works best when it is not partisan, whether that term refers to liberal or conservative, believer or non-believer. That's the only way in which freedom of choice can be maintained."

Very true.

We all have our own strong opinions and they can be very polarizing if we let emotion run away with us. The purpose of this site is to help people who are disillusioned and confused think as clearly as they possibly can.

We must be content to let them find their own way and arrive at their own conclusions. That is diametrically opposed to the mindset they are trying to escape from. We do no real good if we only substitute another set of dogmatic dogma for the old one and then belittle and condemn others for having honest questions or differing points of view.

Ralph said...

Corky, since the natural mind is enmity against God, nothing can be gained. I'm a winner any way I go. :)

Allen C. Dexter said...

Corky said:

"On the anti-theist side of the argument I'm probably the worst of the lot. On the theist side, I can't really tell who is the worst of the lot, they all sound silly to me."

Like you, I comment infrequently as I see no real purpose in arguing on and on about the same old points I've made before. Nevertheless, openminded discussion has a valid place. It can sometimes help an enquiring mind in finding a little principle that helps settle a vexing question.

You and I are pretty well satisfied with the conclusions we have settled on but I, for one, occasionally find a new point that helps clarify something in the comments others make. So, even though I withdraw a bit, I still keep up and occasionally put a couple of cents in the "pot."

Ralph said...

But any biblical argument about God will yield nothig in terms of human decision-making. People believe what they believe, and that's the end of it.

If there is a God, based on every scrap of physical evidence we can objectively assemble, we're not going to find him/here/it/them.

You are left with only tqwo logical conclusions:
1.There is no God
2.If there is a God it shoudl be quite obvious that "his" purposes are not dependent on what we can discover by our efforts.

This would imply that whatever we believe or don't believe, it really isn't going to change things in any absolute sense.

BB says you must believe in Christ, but if Christ says you must be free of all human concepts of God and follow no man, does it really matter whether you believe it as an aspect of christianity or as an atheist?

BB absolutely refuses to accept that when you die, either that's the end of things, or death is thre payment in full of anyting and everything you did here on earth.

What I've been pointing out ad nauseum is that there is simply nothing you can do one way or the other to change things in any measurable way by believing or not believing.

If not believing makes you happy, then don't believe. Nothing is really harmed by it.
If yopu must believe, then believe, because nothing is really going to be helped by it.

The existence of God can't be proven, and it can't be disproven. It's simply beyond human concepts, and if it wasn't, we'd have figured it out by now.

Therefore, if you believe thre bible, Paul's statements in Romans 8 and 9 must be true, and Jesus' statements in Matthew 24 must also be true, because that's the only logical conclusion that makes sense of 38,000 versions of christianity and growing.

Truth is truth, and truth is consistent with all truth. Contradictions are not truth. You may choose to worship God according to your taste, and the freedom of taste is preferred. But in truth, such freedom will demonstrate nothing.

Purple Hymnal said...

"For a real surprise, at least it was for me, go to dennisdiehl.com"

This is the second time in as many weeks, that I've seen this sentiment expressed on an ex-CoG blog. Thing is, when I go to that address, I get a domain-placeholder page; can anyone provide a real link? Or is it just more Eckhart Tolle newagey stuff?

Purple Hymnal said...

Ah, crap, never mind. I found it. Den, Den, what are you doing in the midst of those vipers?!?!

Byker Bob said...

Ralph,

You often quote the Bible, but your conclusions are not what the Bible supports. I've come to a realization that you are in your own little world, a world in which you worship a theorem.

I don't say this as an enemy. I wish you no harm. But, you are one of a kind, my friend.

BB

Purple Hymnal said...

"But, you are one of a kind, my friend."

Technically, so are we all, Bob. Of the Armstrongite kind, no matter how much we try to refute it, repress it, or pass it off as another religion.

We always have been, and always will be, children of the church.

Ralph said...

BB, prove me wrong. You can't do it. I've demonstrated the logic of the statements, shown why it is true, and what both jesus and Paul said directly. You have shown absolutely nothing to refute it except your statement about it, and unfortunately saying something isn't so doesn't make it that way.

Based on that evidence, I can only conclude that you are wrong until you prove otherwise.

Ralph said...

BB, one doesn't need to worship a theorem. A theorem is simply true.

If the bible contradictede Godel's theorem in regard to truth, the bible would be provably wrong, and that would be the end of it.

However, the main saving grace of the bible is that it actually agrees with Godel's theorem, and Romnans 8:7 in regard to the worship of God will produce the same result as Godel's theorem.

It doesn't require any form of worhip or faith or belief to see that certain things are proven to be consistent and build on that.

However, since you completely ignore these logical foundations as a basis for truth, you worship a falsehood. There aren't even axiomatic foundations for your beliefs.

Purple Hymnal said...

"...one doesn't need to worship a theorem. A theorem is simply true."

It is my understanding that the word theorem come from the same root as theory, in which case, your statement is true, based on whether or not the evidence supports it, Ralph. For you, the evidence is clear. For others, and I would daresay most of us here, what you point to as evidence, is not credible, based on the evidence that we personally have, but that's OK!

I.e., the canonical Christian texts, and their problematic provenances, pseudepigraphics, and continual re-translations. That's my tipping point, for lack of credible evidence. You can't point to "the scriptures" (especially not a very small subset of them) and say they prove your theorem for me, Ralph, even though this evidence proves your theorem for you.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, is my point, which I have been trying to make all along....Whatever truth you have found, for yourself, if it makes you sleep easier at night, gravy. Just please don't lose any sleep, if no one else wants to believe it, or can "accept" it. That's the whole point of being human, that we are unique.

We are puzzle pieces, Ralph, psychologically; not many of us will "fit" together well, at any given time, but taken as a whole, the entire picture of human spirituality and the plethora of world religions, is a diverse, and colourful panorama. Regardless of the "absolute veracity", of its individual pieces...which, of necessity, cannot be applied to the whole puzzle.

That's my take on it, anyway.

Ralph said...

Precisely, BB. The statement is true based on whether or not he evidence supports it. A theorem demonstrates that the conclusions are a necessary consequence of the hypothesis.

I don't know if you noticed it or not, BB, but your argument is identical to the argument presented by Purple. "It is truth for you, but it is not truth for me".

Each of you pose a conclusion that is irreconcilable, as Puprple claims no existence of God according to "what works for me", while you imnsist that God does exist because that definition, as applied by you, works for you.

If we simply ignore the content of the argument, what we see are two different minds using the same argument to justify completely opposite conclusions!

Whatr is the definition of truth? Philosophically, it is the agreement of thought with reality, yet you and Purple, using the same form of argument, state clearly that reality is what is true for you. IOW, according to the statement, God exists and does not exist, and the fact is equally true for each of you, based on exactly the same form of argument.

By each argument, both of you demonstrate what I have been saying, that such proof is beyond human reason.

Let's look at both arguments in terms of logic and truth. Both you and Purple conclude with equal certainty that God both exists, and does not exist.

In the words of philosopher Mortimer Adler: "The judgement you make about it may be correct n your eyes, but as I view the matter, it is not correct, but that is not all there is to it, because the proposition we are judging differently is either true or false absolutely without any regard for our differences of opinion about it".

IOW. God exists or doesn't exist, but neither your opinion, nor Purple's opinion, nor my opinion, will demonstrate that existence.

This is precisely what Godel's theorem demonstrates. We have no way of ever knowing, by the most formal, axiomatic processes, a way to arrive at the knowledge of God's existence/non-existence.

Ralph said...

Precisely, BB. The statement is true based on whether or not he evidence supports it. A theorem demonstrates that the conclusions are a necessary consequence of the hypothesis.

I don't know if you noticed it or not, BB, but your argument is identical to the argument presented by Purple. "It is truth for you, but it is not truth for me".

Each of you pose a conclusion that is irreconcilable, as Puprple claims no existence of God according to "what works for me", while you imnsist that God does exist because that definition, as applied by you, works for you.

If we simply ignore the content of the argument, what we see are two different minds using the same argument to justify completely opposite conclusions!

Whatr is the definition of truth? Philosophically, it is the agreement of thought with reality, yet you and Purple, using the same form of argument, state clearly that reality is what is true for you. IOW, according to the statement, God exists and does not exist, and the fact is equally true for each of you, based on exactly the same form of argument.

By each argument, both of you demonstrate what I have been saying, that such proof is beyond human reason.

Let's look at both arguments in terms of logic and truth. Both you and Purple conclude with equal certainty that God both exists, and does not exist.

In the words of philosopher Mortimer Adler: "The judgement you make about it may be correct n your eyes, but as I view the matter, it is not correct, but that is not all there is to it, because the proposition we are judging differently is either true or false absolutely without any regard for our differences of opinion about it".

IOW. God exists or doesn't exist, but neither your opinion, nor Purple's opinion, nor my opinion, will demonstrate that existence.

This is precisely what Godel's theorem demonstrates. We have no way of ever knowing, by the most formal, axiomatic processes, a way to arrive at the knowledge of God's existence/non-existence.

Ralph said...

BB, in continuation of the point above, if you argue that your experience proves the existence of God, and Purple, Betty, Retired Prof, Allen, et al, all are equally convinced their experience demonstrates no God, whose experience would then be true?

Since your "proof" can only revolve around the bible, we wopuld have to see if the human is actually capable of p[roving such relationships.

You already know the answer: Romans 8:7. It provides us with a syllogism:

All natural minds are enmity against God
Ihave a natural mind
My mind is enmity against God

If you argue that not all natural minds are enmity against God, it falls on you to prove that there is something we actualy do possess that does not make our minds enmity against God.

What would you point to as proof that is consistent and complete?
Christianity? With over 38,000 versions?

Jesus told us plainly there was no use in believing any of them, and if we do try to follow them, it will produce exactly the division we see today.

Why? because the natural mind cannot be subject to God's laws.

The statement conforms to Godel's theotrem, and it explains exactly, logically, why there is such disagreement among christian religions today. It's a syllogism, it's called "if...then..." That is the nature of a theorem. provided the hypothesis properly described the conditions, then there is a result corresponding to the hypothesis. In mathematics, this is a theorem, and it is considered proven.

BB, you got nothing.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Each of you pose a conclusion that is irreconcilable, as Puprple claims no existence of God according to "what works for me", while you imnsist that God does exist because that definition, as applied by you, works for you."

This is absolutely correct, Ralph, but the larger point that you seem to be missing, or willfully do not want to understand, is that, while our conclusions are irreconcilable, we are not (I hope, at least, or nothing I've said over the past few months here, has come to any fruition).

The world has not stopped spinning, nor has it turned on its axis, nor has the universe as we know it, winked out of existence, simply because you and I and Bob have different interpretations of what we (through a haze dimly, as Allen said earlier) each comprehend, of our small parts of the puzzle.

You're fond of using the phrase "truth is consistent with all truth", Ralph, but that's just not the case, because there is nothing, not one thing, not even down to a single atomic particle (Ever read about the Observer Effect?) that is, ever has been, can be, or ever will be, "truth". Not consistent with truth, not all truth, not truth in any absolute, concrete sense at all. Definitely not an absolute, concrete "truth" that can be applied to every other human being!

Then we really would be forced to live out an existence similar to the one "God's True Church" promised us...all under the One World Government of God, cheerful little robots, living in lock-step with one another, saying all the same things, and following all the same laws.

I know you don't want that, Ralph, you've come further than that, in your journey out of the church. So have we all. I've just gone a little bit further beyond the "there is only one true truth" mindset that was inculcated into us, by the church.

We may give and take, and back and forth here, Ralph, you and I and Bob, but ultimately, we're all (mostly) the same inside our skins, with roughly the same physiological hard-wiring in our brains. The fact that we see different visions, in the universe that we see before us, may very well be the ONLY "ultimate truth" (that there is NO ultimate truth), or it could simply be the case that it's an evolutionary adaptation, that has allowed humanity to progress to the point that it has...away from the rest of the animal kingdom, that acts on instinct alone.

Regardless of whatever you think the reason for that is, the fact remains that it is the way humankind functions (and the reason so many religious wars have been, and continue to be, fought), and to deny that, or think there is something wrong with that, is to lose sight of a bigger picture, that is truly breath-taking in its scope.

In short, while your conclusions, my conclusions, and Bob's conclusions are irreconcilable, we, as individual human beings are, and can be, and I hope will be, reconcilable to each other, in spite of having different perspectives. That is what the spark of human consciousness, within each one of us, is for; regardless of what spectrum of colours we each see, individually reflected through the unique prisms, of our own individual grey matter.

That's my take on it, anyway.

Ralph said...

Purple, you merely prove my point, and Godel's.

Your statements about truth are self cancelling, since the very act of saying there is no truth must of itself be truth. This is precisely why Godel's theorem is a theorem, because it takes a system represented as truth and creates a self representing system.

Take, for example, your mention of the observer effect. If you measure electrons as waves, they act as waves, and if you measure them as particles, they act as particles. It is now stated that electrons behave as particles in large concentrations at the peak of a wave and are less concentrated at the trough.

But these are the results of measurements which are themselves limited. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle for example which allows measurement of an electron;s position, or its velocity, but not both.

What you and BB are both missing, Purple, is that your conclusions and his are fully explained within the context of Godel's theorem since, in any consistent axiomatic formulato of number theory, or any axiomatic formal system of sufficient complexity, there always exist undecieable propositions. This does not cancel truth, nor does it cancel the completeness and consistency of truth, or even mathematics for that matter. It merely says we cannot know truth in a complete and consistent sense from our present axiomatic paradigms.

The flaw in your statement comes from your own stated contradiction, that there exist no truth, since one must look dirctly at the sentence itself as a reference point and realize that the statement itself must be true in order for its reference to other truths NOT to be true.

So, at best, your statement can only disqualify statements that are not within the set of statements similar to itself, i.e. statements which do not permit self reference.

The reason why your own statement does not per mit self reference is because the only way it can be considere true is to state it as an axiomatic truth that is self evident. But if it is self evident, there is no way to check its truthfulness, since it disqualifies itself as an axiomatic beginning.

Your conclusion in that regard, therefore, is mistaken.

The development of science, of mathematics, of everything in technology, depends on the fact that there is truth, that can be demonstrated, and it can be repeated and copied indefinitely.

It is this abilit to copy indefinitely that is part of our linear concepts. If truth can be copied and recognized as truth, why then not copy and manufacture human minds in that same linear process? Essentially, this is what happened with publication of the Gutenberg bible. The intense stress on repeatability, standardization, exact copying of form, actually created blood in the streets as neighbors sought to reduce all behavior to the most basic concepts of goodness.

The "unique prisms of your own individual greay matter" is due to evolutionary forces that create diversity and allow Mother Nature to keep from putting all her eggs in one basket. There is no agreement in any absolute sense, because diversity ensures survival, and the combination of experiences produced by diversity ensures increasing intelligence for the general survival of the human species.

Both you and BB merely demonstrate wht I've been saying.

Purple Hymnal said...

"What you and BB are both missing, Purple, is that your conclusions and his are fully explained"

I don't miss that they are fully explained to you, Ralph; that does not mean that we can, or have to, agree with your explanations (which neither of us, apparently, does).

As Allen told you once before, our conversations with you are not about winning an argument, nor trying to prove you wrong, nor trying to prove ourselves right. (Why would I want to prove myself "right" when there's no such thing?) we are each all bringing our own understanding, life experiences, and studies, to the table here.

What we are all trying to impart to you, and have been trying to impart to you, is that we want YOU to recognize that your own thinking is comprised of circular reasoning, tinged with absolutism, and engaging with the logical fallacy of begging the question.

Which are all fancy-sounding words for, "We just don't think alike, that's all." Unfortunately, where you just don't think alike, Ralph, is the same way we didn't think alike to "the worldly" when we were in the church.

So Allen and Betty and Bob and Tony and Corky and Neo and I, we are just showing you a mirror, to get you to see that you may not have divested yourself of as much of the church's indoctrinations, as you may think you have; which would be OK, as long as your perspective does not get in the way of your connecting with others.

Unfortunately, whatever progress we may make (and we have made progress, I feel you and I have connected at several points, recently), you (Dare I say it?) backslide into your narrow little universe of you, alone, with your personal "all-truth" that you mistakenly believe extends outside of your own head.

I lived like that, for far too many years, Ralph. I have no desire to revisit it. And, maybe I'm wrong, in wanting to pull others out of what I see as a trap. Maybe you don't see it as a trap, maybe you truly are happier, where you are. If so, then so be it.

I thought we were making progress towards making a connection, Ralph, and that you had reached a hand out, as you were dangling over the precipice; unfortunately, you allowed yourself to just slip away, and slip back, into what is comfortable, and known, and unquestionable, in your mind.

I wish you the very best, Ralph, I really do. I hope that has been made clear, through every exchange we have had, in the past few months.

Ralph said...

Purple, yours and BB's arguments fall into the category of "Achilles and the Tortoise" I presented from Douglas Hofstadter's book "Godel, Escher, Bach", in my time as editor.

The whole story was based on Zeno's paradox, but applied to human logic. Hofstadter points out that it is impossible to trap the human mind within any framework of logic, no matter how conclusive.

For example, Achilles told the tortoise, "If A and B, then C. You must accept that"

The tortoise says, "Yes, but if A, and B, then C, is a logical premise, then the premise you just stated, which I'll call 'D' is also true. So, if A and B, and C, then D".

Achilles relents and says "Okay, but surely you must stop there!".

The tortoise says, "Yes, it is certainly true that I can stop there, but that would be yet another premise related which I'll call 'E'. If A and B and C and D, then E".

There is nothing within any argument about infinity or absolute truth that can force any human mind to stop and say "This is it", because one can always add the next premise, which will be logically accurate, and directly related to the earlier premises. It's similar to the question 'Is there an absolute largest number?"

No, because you can always add one.

But Godel's theorem is about mathematics referencing itself, and Godel based his conclusions logically on the liar's paradox: "This very statement is false".

But if its false, it must be true, and if true, then false. Godel realized that the only way to know if the statement was actually true or false was to take it and make it refer to something other than itself. Therefore, if "this very statement is false", the statement tiself had to refer to somethig which could be determined as true or false. Pigs fly, for example. But it could not say "the statement 'pigs fly' is false with out cancelling the truth content of the statement itself. In referring to itself, it had to be true in order to be false, but in referring to the idea that pigs fly, it ony had to refer to the facts that pigs flying is false. The statement was true as long as it did not depend on self reference to prove its truth.

Bertrand Russell, in developing "Principia Mathematica", developed statements that avoided self referencing. Each conclusion designed by Russell referred to the statement before, which led to the present conclusion, or it referred to the conclusion following, but never to itself.

As long as this was followed, said Russell, the contradictions arising in mathematics would nto occur. Godel, however, took the system itself and proved, due to the complexity and power of the system, that it was incomplete and inconsistent. he took the axioms stated the system, turned them into numerical equivalents that operated on the system as numbers, and proved there existed a statement which said "I exist, but I cannot be proven in this system".

With that, Godel destroyed any hope of ever developing an axiomatic system that could represent all truth consistently and completely, simply because it had no way of checking itself, which led to the second part of Godel's theorem: no such system can prove its own consistency from within itself.

Ralph said...

So, Purple, from the history of math provided above, it would be impossible for you state truthfully that there exists no absolute truth, since your statement itself would have to be powerful enough to represent absolute truth, and if it was powerful enough to represent absolute truth, it would have to be absolutely true in order to demonstrate that it could not exist, a paradox. Your statement regarding truth is, at best, incomplete, and at most inconsistent.

The Painful Truth said...

Ralph said...

"I don't know if you noticed it or not, BB, but your argument is identical to the argument presented by Purple. "It is truth for you, but it is not truth for me"

And to someone who says about the existence of God, "I don't know if God exists" would this be consistent with truth? Would this not be more of a truth than BB or Purples position?

Ralph said...

Since there exists no evidence either way, One could say "There is no God", but it would be a statement without factual basis.

OR, one could say "There is a God" but it would also be without factual basis.

If someone said "I don't know if God exists", that would be as near a truthful statement as we are capable of making.

However, if one said "There is no possibility of God existing within the concepts and limitations of human rules, dogma, or doctrine", that would be a truthful statement.

It would be a truthful statement because of Godel's theorem.

By arguing for "experience" as aguideline, Purple and BB are saying that their decisons are limited to this reality, survival here and now, and in this reality, there is no reason why they should disagree about anything that can be proven.

Ralph said...

BTW, the argument that "it works for me" is merely a realization of free enterprise as defined by Adam Smith in "Wealth of Nations".

Smith began as a moral philosopher, and began writing ideas on forms of society that best suited individual morality. What he arrived at was the "invisible hand" concept in which each person actually pursued "what works for me".

This was not proposed as a statement of absolute truth, but merely as a pragamtic functioning process by which individuals could best pursue their own interests.

Such an idea is based on exchange of differences, and the more freely we exchange difference, the better we are informed of our obligations and moral responsibilities with others.

Computers as developed under the concept of Babbage, were also recognized as "difference engines", with difference itself becoming the definition of information.

As Kenneth Boulding pointed out, information is the difference that makes a difference, the organizing principle that emerges from free exchange of ideas.

When Purple and BB write about "what works for me", or "truth for me", they are talking about those total processes that give meaning to their lives. As such,they function best by the recognition of those same differences in the lives of others, i.e., the Golden Rule.

Back when I was in the marines it occurred to me that if God is truth, then "he" can only rule a free person.

Purple Hymnal said...

'if God is truth, then "he" can only rule a free person."

And back we are again, to this ideology of "truth", with a paradox as the cherry on top.

If a person is "free", how can they be "ruled"?

That was my visceral reaction to that assumptive reasoning, at least.

Ralph said...

Obviously if a person is free, he can;t be ruled, so if there is a God, that God would have to be consistent freedom. Should I say "moron" at this point?

Purple Hymnal said...

"Should I say "moron" at this point?"

And yet, that's not an ad hominem attack, yet my questioning of your ideologies (not you, personally, but your ideologies) are? Can you explain this double standard to me, please, I do find it quite annoying, as it has been consistent throughout our dealings together on this blog, Ralph.

Or perhaps James can explain this double standard? He is the one who keeps rebuking people to get fed up with you, while letting you get away with making remarks like the one I've quoted above or "you only bitch and nag", without classifying THOSE as ad hominem attacks.

I really do want to know why there is such a double standard here. I am genuinely curious.

Ralph said...

Purple, you haven't questionede my ideologies. You've merely stated opinions which I demonstrated as consistent logically not only with mathematics, but with mathematical statements.

Let's see "Victorian math". I don't even see what the hell that means. Math is math, whether it;s Victorian or Neanderthal. Either it;s true or its false, and that should be your observation.

The statement that there is no absolute truth, repeatedly, in spite of the fact that I sow logically why the very attempt to deny truth makes the denial itself of necessity a true statement.

Over and over and over again, ridiculous garbage. You've offered absolutely noting of any intellectual content to challenge the statement. You only offer opinion and statements ABOUT what I write, but never offer the first possible stratement that even begins to challenge it.

That, Purple, is called the ad hominem falacy. It is useless, it prove nothng, it offers no logical foundation of anyting from which to progress.

Further Purple, by stating there is no truth,you negate your own arguments. You claim there is no foundation on which to build, and then insiste that people, for some reason youy fail to name, should accept YOUR ideas regarding truth.

Even worse, you try to get others to censor whtatever i write, and then you insist you never try to impose your worldview on people.

You contradict yourself in every thing you do, and when I refuse to compromise on something to which you offer no intellectual challenge at all, you return to the same ad hominem ridiculous arguments as before.

I'm "exiled" by what? You fail to define it. You can't define it because you've already stated there is no truth on which to build. The only possible reason you can offer for my 'exile" is because you say so.

I have gone to grweat detail to show the history and development of mathematical ideas leading top Godel's conclusios, and you offer nothing in refutation.

That, Purple, is ad hominem. Either you have an argument against my statements, or you don't. From all evidence I've seen thus far, you don't.

Purple Hymnal said...

You know, I still haven't gotten an answer for why there's a double standard on this blog, when it comes to ad hominem attacks. I have decided, as James suggested on another post, to just accept the unfairness of the situation, and continue on with the conversation as best I can. I feel Ralph and I have connected well in the latest post; hopefully that is a trend that will not be reversed.

As for Ralph's immunity on this blog, that's just something we're all going to have to live with, because clearly it's not going to change any time soon.

Ralph said...

I get the last word: LAST WORD. There!

Purple Hymnal said...

Can I get the last question?

Why do you want the last word, Ralph?

No, seriously, I'm not yanking your chain (nor am I trying to get in the last word); I am really curious as to why some people (not just you) on these blogs have that compulsion; I admit, I've been guilty of it more than a few times myself, but I don't know why I've done it, either....

Ralph said...

Why do I want the last word? Why not?

Back in the marines after Vietnam ended, I went into my new barracks and saw this picture of a marine kneeling over a dead comrade, and he asked "Why?"

There was this voice from heaven that said, "I don't know, why not?"

Did you ever see the movie "Full metal Jacket"? That part about boot camp, it was modeled around the Third Batallion barracks.

Great lines from the Drill Instructor:

"God has a hard on for the marines! Every day we send him fresh bodies!"

Funny stuff. I remember watching the previews for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" at Okinawa. There was a close up of Jack Nickelson as Rabdall patrick McMurphy, and the announcer said "If this man is crazy, what does that make you?"

And some marine shiouts from the audience "A fucking marine! Oorah!".

Bunch of insane murderers, Uncle Sam's misguided children.

What's so much fun with you guys is you really think you were fucked over. Join the marines.

Purple Hymnal said...

"What's so much fun with you guys is you really think you were fucked over."

Nah. I always did try and make an effort to avoid the I-wuz-so-so-victimized mentality. (That said, I don't hold with whitewashing, repressing, or denying, the things that did happen to us, individually and collectively, as a result, and at the behest of, the church.)

Ralph, I think you would find some sympathy with the former editor of the PT, who for years had this quote (as best I can remember it, I may have the wording off) on the front page:

"(With apologies to the fine servicemen in the US Marines):

When I die and reach the Pearly Gates, St. Peter I will tell: "Another Worldwider reporting, sir, I've done my time in Hell!"


It always struck a chord with me, even though I don't "believe" in the metaphorical afterlife presented in the parable in question.

Ralph said...

Church and state, they're both the same damn thing. You get fucked enough, you staryt learning how to avoid ending over.

When I left the WCG, I confused liberty with license. Just because you recognize freedom doesn;t mean you can do anythig you want without penalty.

Stay the hell away from church and state, and fight them both every chance you get.

The Painful Truth said...

Ralph,

You and Purple are sure hitting it off. When is the marriage?