Reasons for Joy; In Gentleness, and Respect.

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Apologetics and Theology / A Song that Goes on Singing
« on: May 22, 2015, 06:46:06 pm »
Just a little while ago I ordered a book to replace the one I had because it was falling apart from overuse. The book's title is The Psychic Grid: How We Create the World We Know, by Beatrice Bruteau. A practicing Catholic, the late Bruteau gives us a unique combination of science, the mystical East and the mystical West that I find appealing and, I am sure, many theists and non-theists will find appalling.

Here is an interview with Dr. Bruteau originally published in What is Enlightenment magazine: A Song that Goes on Singing

How many here are interested in this kind of stuff and if not, why not?

Apologetics and Theology / About Faith
« on: May 11, 2015, 11:19:52 pm »
I am bothered by the numbers of people, both theists and atheists, who think of faith as belief in a body of unsubstantiated ideas. The whole premise of the thread What if God commanded otherwise? is based on that assumption. But nothing is further from the truth. Faith is the activation of our highest ideals and precedes our beliefs. When we act from faith, we act from our fondest hopes and heartfelt values for which there is no evidence or logical certainty. Religious beliefs are merely the conceptual fallout as the result of trying to reconcile the inside with the outside. We formulate understanding concepts in the process. It is much easier for men to agree on religious values — goals — than on beliefs — interpretations. Religions can agree on values and goals while maintaining hundreds of conflicting beliefs — creeds — because we are indwelt by the same spirit.

Religion without faith is a contradiction; without God, a philosophic inconsistency and an intellectual absurdity. But when theology masters faith, faith dies; it becomes a doctrine instead of a life. The mission of theology is merely to facilitate the self-consciousness of personal spiritual experience. Theology constitutes the religious effort to define, clarify, expound, and justify the experiential claims of religion, which, in the last analysis, can be validated only by living faith.

Apologetics and Theology / The Other Krishnamurti
« on: May 08, 2015, 02:34:26 pm »
When people hear the name “Krishnamurti,” it is usually Jiddu that comes to mind. But there is another Krishnamurti, Uppaluri Gopala Krishnamurti (commonly known simply as UG).

UG was something of a ”anti-guru.” He dismisses all religious teachers and practices as so much nonsense, to put it mildly. His non-rational and non-philosophical non-teachings are at once repellent and fascinating.

It is a truly radically different way of seeing things, but there is a disturbing coherence about it nevertheless. I think I find his words disturbing because they contain an element of truth I do want to confront. I absolutely do NOT recommend Mind is a Myth to anyone, atheist or theist, who does not want their worldview turned on their head or disturbed in any way.

If anyone should read the pdf book in the above link, I would like to know your feelings about it even if you just managed a few pages.

Apologetics and Theology / The Reason Behind My Avatar
« on: May 05, 2015, 11:25:08 am »
Everything we think, say and do seems to involve dualism of some kind: self and other, this and not that, past and future. Even the pure experience here and now involves a subject-object dichotomy. This dualism is underwritten by a third, a principle of unity without which nothing could be conceived or experienced. Invisible and transcendent though it might be, without this Principle dominating the pairs of opposites, the universe would cease to exist to the conscious mind. On the other hand, without the unified pairs of opposites, the unifying principle would be utterly meaningless. In theistic terms, this is like saying God and man are interdependent: without God, we do not exist; without us, God's being would be meaningless. This is expressed an apocryphal story of a dialogue between God and Abraham. God begins by chiding Abraham, “If it wasn't for Me, you wouldn't exist.” After a moment of thoughtful reflection, Abraham respectfully replies, “Yes, Lord, and for that I am very appreciative and grateful. However, if it wasn't for me, You wouldn't be known.”

Apologetics and Theology / Christians only: What is a human being?
« on: April 05, 2015, 12:35:20 am »
What is a human being? What does it mean to be human?

My answer is sure to be rambling and incoherent to many, most notably non-theists should  they bother to read this, but I don't particularly care. I would, however, like to see you answer.

As I see it, a human being is the relating of a relation — a synthesis of the Infinite and the finite, Eternal and temporal, and Freedom and necessity — relating to itself. To be human is to relate, everything else is relatively unimportant. “It matters little what idea of the Father you may entertain,” one book quotes Jesus as saying, “so long as you are you are spiritually acquainted with the ideal of his infinite and eternal nature.”

Given the parameters of what it is to be human, some humans are more human than others. That is, some are more cognizant of the synthesis than others. Some human beings are content with relating to only the finite-temporal-necessary aspect of their being; others will settle for nothing less than consciously relating to the Infinite-Eternal-Free as a living presence, a person. In my mind, when Pontius Pilate presented Jesus to the crowds saying “Behold the man!” little did he realize how truly he spoke of the ideal human being.

Apologetics and Theology / The Mission of Theology
« on: February 24, 2015, 01:44:17 am »
Both theists and atheists treat the God-concept as a proposition to either believe or disbelieve. This, to me, is blasphemy. The mission of theology is merely to describe and facilitate the awareness of personal spiritual experience, not to convince unbelievers or debate over. Theology does not produce religion; it is religion that produces theologic philosophy. For those who who have had similar experience, argument about the personality or reality of God is not necessary, while to all others who are not thus sure of God no possible argument could ever be truly convincing. Religion, then, is based on experience, while theology is an honest attempt to interpret that experience. The God-knowing man describes his spiritual experiences, not to convince unbelievers, but for the edification and mutual satisfaction of fellow believers. And only theology, the province of faith and the technique of revelation, can afford any sort of intelligent account of the nature and content of personal religious experience. Psychology, reason and science can never hope to penetrate to the real and inner motives of its workings. And for this reason, religion must ever be its own critic and judge.

Apologetics and Theology / Alan Watts
« on: February 08, 2015, 06:09:25 pm »
There was a time when I was an atheist asking myself, "What must be in order for what is to be as it is?" I was on the fence regards to God's existence when I came across this in Behold the Spirit by Alan Watts. That's when I realized theism was vastly superior to naturalism/atheism. I thought I'd share it.

To say that Reality is quite beyond thought, and therefore cannot be designated by such small, human terms as “conscious” and “intelligent” is only to say God is immeasurably greater than man. And the theist will agree that he is infinitely greater. To argue that Reality is not a blind energy but a “living principle,” an impersonal super-consciousness,” or an impersonal mind” is to indulge in terminological contradictions. A “living principle” means about as much as black whiteness and to speak of “impersonal mind” is like talking about a circular square. It is the result, of course, of misunderstanding the word “personal,” as used of God ― as if it meant God is an organism form or composite structure, something resembling Haekel's “gaseous vertebrate.” But he word is not at all used in that sense. From many points of view the term “personal” is badly chosen, but it means simply that God is alive in the fullest possible way.

If the ultimate Reality is indeed a blind energy or process devoid of inherent meaning, if it is merely an unconscious permutation and osculation of waves, particles or what not, certain consequences follow. Human consciousness is obviously a part or an effect of this Reality. We are bound, then, to come to one of two conclusions. On the one hand, we shall have to say that the effect, consciousness, is a property lacking in its entire cause ― in short, that something has come out of nothing. Or, on the other hand, we shall have to say that consciousness is a special form of unconsciousness ― in short, that it is really not conscious. For the first of these two conclusions there neither is nor can be any serious argument; not even a rationalist would maintain the possibility of an effect without sufficient cause. The main arguments against theism follow, in principle, from the second conclusion ― that the properties and qualities of human nature, consciousness, reason, meaning and the like do not constitute any new element or property over and above the natural and mechanical processes which cause them. Because Reality is a blind mechanism, so is man. Meaning, consciousness, and intelligence are purely arbitrary and relative terms given to certain highly complex mechanical structures.

But the argument dissolves itself. If consciousness and intelligence are forms of mechanism, the opinions and judgments of intelligence are forms of mechanical (or statistical) necessity. They must apply to all opinions and judgments, for all are equally mere phenomena of mechanical world-processes. There can be no question of one judgment being more true than another, any more than there can be a question of the phenomenon fish being more true than the phenomenon bird. But among these phenomena are the judgments of the rationalist, and to them he must apply the logic of his own reasoning. He must admit that they have no more claim to truth than the judgments of a theist, and that if rationalism is true it is very probably not true. This is intellectual suicide ― the total destruction of thought ― to such a degree that even the rationalist's own concepts of mechanism, unconscious process, statistical necessity, and the like, also become purely arbitrary and meaningless terms. To hold such a view consistently, one must separate oneself, the observer, from it. But this cannot be done, for which reason a contemporary has complained that man's subjective presence constitutes the greatest obstacle to philosophical knowledge!

Now, I've seen a lot of lame excuses, but never an argument that comes even close to refuting this.

Apologetics and Theology / Cancer
« on: December 20, 2014, 12:44:02 pm »
Who here is a cancer survivor and how has it affected you relationship with God?

For the record, I had prostate cancer and, just recently, a kidney removed that turned out to be cancerous (I'm still in the process of getting back on my feet). If anything, my experience has made me more aware of my connection with God.

Apologetics and Theology / A Laugh Out Loud Criticism of Anti-theism
« on: September 16, 2014, 03:21:14 pm »
When I read this, I laughed out loud because it is so true! I've seen it here, in other forums and in books written by anti-theists. I thought I should share it.

Anti-theistic schemes are generally in the instinctive stage of thoughts, where knowledge constitutes no problem and is taken for granted. In this stage any theory whatever may be held, however self-destructive; and when its suicidal implications are pointed out, the theorist falls back on unreasoned common sense, and repudiates, not his own theory, which is the real offender, but the critic. He sets up principles of natural selection as the determining principles of belief, and then repudiates the great catholic convictions of the race. He shows how the survival of the fittest must bring thought and thing in accord, and then rejects the beliefs that survive. He defines mind as an adjustment of inner relations to outer relations, and forthwith drifts off into nescience. He presents the Unknown Cause as the source of all beliefs, and then rules out most of them as invalid, and, at times, declares them all worthless. — Borden P. Browne, Philosophy of Theism

Any comments?

Apologetics and Theology / From the Pulpit
« on: September 08, 2014, 03:07:44 am »
Few things seem as self-evident as the notion that knowledge is the end result of the pursuit of three ideals: the real, the true and the effective. So, if we would know what our knowledge is worth, we must know how we come by our ideas about the real. Here's the catch: once a space-time model is accepted as primal, concepts such as “infinity” and “universal” prove to be impenetrable to inquiry.  Even the basic nature of Inquiry becomes impenetrable. When their observation is confined to the observable realm, individuals tend to become cynical and lose sight of ways of being that can be healing and nourishing. As a result, the New Atheists take the rather shallow view of religion as simply a set of propositions about the world. They have the sense that all knowledge is by way of analytic modes of thought and the notion of God is just another object of thought to be categorized and analyzed, that if He cannot be grasped by the intellect or perceived by the senses, He does not exist. The mind is so practiced at being 'objective' in its procedure that nothing but the most pronounced mental discord serves to awaken even the suspicion that things are not what the seem and that their most fundamental notions need closer scrutiny. Little do they realize that in the silence between thoughts there is a more subtle intelligence that goes beyond concepts, judgments and distinctions.

No skeptic is entitled to consideration by the doubts he expresses, but only by those which he rationally justifies. “I don't know but not that” is not a rational justification.

Jesus wisely said, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Every judgment carries us beyond itself. It's not just a movement in consciousness, but claims to be a revelation of fact or truth that exists independently of us and establishes the relation between ourselves and the 'other'. Any sense of separation between that what evaluates and that what is evaluated, however, is illusory. This doesn't mean the moon disappears when I'm not looking at it, as some idealists would have us believe, but it is to deny that the system has any brute existence outside intelligence. There is an objective system independent of our localized minds and consciousnesses because consciousness, intelligence and informational relationships are fundamental features of the of reality, whereas unconscious matter-energy is mere shadow. So, when spatial meanings are dropped, the relation between 'self', 'other' and the Whole becomes one of unutterable interdependence. And this is antithetical to what materialists affirm.

So, what do I mean when I say I am a “living soul”? A living soul is the relating of a relation – a synthesis of the Infinite and the finite, Eternal and the temporal, Freedom and necessity, Divinity and creatureliness – relating to itself. The soul is the act of relating, not an individual 'self'. That is why “By love He may be gotten and holden; but by thought, never.” God is realized by direct apprehension without the intervention of ideas, not abstraction. The mission of theology is merely to facilitate the self-consciousness of personal spiritual experience. While inquiry shaped by pre-established structures or concepts can expand the range of insight and understanding and restore balance in our lives, such understanding tends to become lifeless by accumulating outward forms that rob it of flexibility and receptiveness to higher realities. In the end, such understanding will fall short of true intimacy between the Creator and creature.

“[We] can argue over opinions about God, but experience with him and in him exists above and beyond all human controversy and mere intellectual logic. The God-knowing man describes his spiritual experiences, not to convince unbelievers, but for the edification and mutual satisfaction of believers.” (The Urantia Book) For those who are experientially acquainted with God, there is no debate regarding His existence. But since what one believes about God is a conceptual interpretation of an inherently private experience, the best we can do is share our experience/interpretation with others and be open to theirs.

Apologetics and Theology / Is This Blasphemy?
« on: July 25, 2014, 03:46:19 am »
The doctrine of divine simplicity (DDS), or at least a variation of it, is the basis of my theology. However, I didn't realize what the DDS entailed, or what it can entail, until I started listening the videos linked to below. The videos are based on the Conversations With God series by Neal Donald Walsh. There is no question in my mind that many in this forum will call it blasphemy and others will call it nonsense. But forget the vehicle. Listen to the words with an open mind. Pay attention to your reaction. Do the words resonate or do you find them repulsive? Are your reactions mixed? Mine are. But the videos are, to me, so fascinating that I downloaded them and converted them to MP3.

Book 1
Book 2
Book 3

Apologetics and Theology / The Negative Way
« on: July 12, 2014, 11:58:28 am »
Apophetic theology or the negative way is usually associated with Eastern religions and sometimes scorned by those accustomed to the Greek way of doing theology, called the cataphatic theology or the positive way. Some here in the RF forums show heavy reliance on the cataphatic (sometimes spelled with a “k”), completely or almost completely ignoring apophetic theology in Christian tradition. As a result, they come across (to me) like atheists who care more about beliefs than they care about God.

Perhaps the most famous phrase in Christian apophetic theology comes from The Cloud of Unknowing, written anonymously in the latter half of the 14th century: “[God] may well be loved, but not thought. By love He may be gotten and holden; by thought never.”

Apophetic and cataphatic theologies are opposite ends of the same stick. While I appreciate the positive, I realized long ago that, by itself, cataphatic theology leads us to chase after our own tails with no vertical ascent towards God. I felt compelled to emphasize the negative way of doing theology to counterbalance the linear analysis inherited from early Greece. To this end, I find The Book of Not Knowing by Peter Ralston to be quite helpful.

Below are links that may be helpful to those interested in the negative way.


Apophatic or Kataphatic Prayer?

Apologetics and Theology / About Faith
« on: June 28, 2014, 01:47:21 pm »
I'm not surprised, but I am disturbed that someone in a forum such as this would write, “faith is the substance of things not seen.” What's worse, to me, is that for many Christians the measure of faith is unwavering certainty in their beliefs. Every Christian should know that "The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen" is not the same as "the substance of things not seen." Real faith, genuine faith grounded in sensus divinitatis (“sense of divinity”), is concerned only with the grasp of ideal-values and acting from them, not beliefs. In other words, it matters little what idea of the Father we may entertain so long as we are spiritually acquainted with the ideal of his infinite and eternal nature. Much, very much, of religion's dark history would not have happened if people did not believe in their beliefs more than they believe in the universality of God.

This is not to say that our beliefs are unimportant. After all, it is what we believe rather than what we knows that determines conduct and dominates personal performance. Purely factual knowledge exerts very little influence upon the average person unless it becomes emotionally activated. But the activation of religion unifies the entire human experience: to isolate part of life and call it religion is to distort religion and disintegrate life.

So, maybe it can be understood why I am a bit disappointed in this forum. For most, it seems this forum is a place to titillate the mind rather than for edification and mutual satisfaction of believers.

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