Author Topic: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?  (Read 972 times)

Offline SGOS

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2018, 07:42:55 AM »
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So they don't believe in Eris, the one true god?   Weird. 
Maybe a god that goes around affecting human lives that was invented and worshiped by the ancients taxes the limits of modern educated Christian reality.  They need something that isn't so obviously absurd.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2018, 08:12:32 AM by SGOS »

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2018, 11:08:35 AM »
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Maybe a god that goes around affecting human lives that was invented and worshiped by the ancients taxes the limits of modern educated Christian reality.  They need something that isn't so obviously absurd.
Then explain Joel Osteen.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2018, 11:40:19 AM »
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The "everything happens for a reason" crowd.

"My son died in a car crash."

"Don't worry. Everything happens for a reason."

"Yeah. The reason is the other driver was a drunk motherfucker."
"Oh, wearisome condition of humanity,
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity,
Created sick, commanded to be sound."
--Fulke Greville

Offline Baruch

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2018, 11:44:59 AM »
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"My son died in a car crash."

"Don't worry. Everything happens for a reason."

"Yeah. The reason is the other driver was a drunk motherfucker."

Yes, the demigods are motherfuckers, just like G-d is ... that is what "image of motherfucker" means.

Most people reject the god of Job or Ecclesiastes ... because they prefer Santa Claus.  Life sucks.  Get in your college furnished safe space, you big babies.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2018, 11:49:19 AM by Baruch »
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Offline Baruch

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2018, 11:48:36 AM »
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Maybe a god that goes around affecting human lives that was invented and worshiped by the ancients taxes the limits of modern educated Christian reality.  They need something that isn't so obviously absurd.

That is why we watch passion plays of sentient English speaking felonious raccoons ... that Jesus guy is so implausible ;-))

The original purpose of theater (in Athens) was as group political therapy.  Guardians of the Galaxy is the same deal.  The "Last Jedi" for toddlers.

The public religious festivals in Thebes and Babylon did the same even earlier.  Except in Babylon you got ritual prostitution ... in our movie theaters you don't get that (unless you count "friends" feeling each other up in the dark ;-))
« Last Edit: April 28, 2018, 11:50:36 AM by Baruch »
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Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2018, 04:09:56 AM »
"Believe in God as described in the Bible" is still pretty vague.  I would venture to say that many of those who express belief have, in one way or another, an anthropomorphic conception of God.  That likely applies to all the believer categories.  I'm guessing the more simple the view, the more anthropomorphic.  Those who think a bit more abstractly might go with the God is "being itself" or "goodness itself", and not as a being.


Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2018, 01:38:13 PM »
Well, the characteristics of the Bible's God are pretty apparent, if one actually reads the thing. But few Christians actually do read it, because they know just how boring much of it is. Most Christians only get their Bible from their priest/preacher in a cherry-picked fashion that only gives them the huggy-fuzzy stuff and so gives them a false or incomplete view of what the Bible's God is really like.

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“There are priests who carry out exorcisms on their mobile phones. That’s possible thanks to Jesus”
Cardinal Ernest Simoni
“Life swings like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom”
Arthur Schopenhauer

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2018, 05:55:33 PM »
I don't think the Biblical God is that apparent, and necessarily so since by both Jewish and Christian theology he's not really describable.  He just is.  I think the different conceptions of God are tolerated by the different Abrahamic religions because people need something to relate with, even if they are a little far from the mark. 

I'm currently on day 272 of a 365 day reading plan of both the Bible (NAB) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).  I learned the popular stories as a kid, but as you say, never gave the Bible a good reading.  So far I'm seeing a collection of books of varying genres.  Not all the books describe God in the same manner, when they try to describe him at all.  The CCC leaves wiggle room on the subject, and for good reason.  I particularly like CCC #460 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."  That's not your typical sky-daddy reference.

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2018, 07:06:57 PM »
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I don't think the Biblical God is that apparent, and necessarily so since by both Jewish and Christian theology he's not really describable.  He just is.  I think the different conceptions of God are tolerated by the different Abrahamic religions because people need something to relate with, even if they are a little far from the mark. 

I'm currently on day 272 of a 365 day reading plan of both the Bible (NAB) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).  I learned the popular stories as a kid, but as you say, never gave the Bible a good reading.  So far I'm seeing a collection of books of varying genres.  Not all the books describe God in the same manner, when they try to describe him at all.  The CCC leaves wiggle room on the subject, and for good reason.  I particularly like CCC #460 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."  That's not your typical sky-daddy reference.
Interesting.  I have read the bible but not starting from Genesis and going forward.  Probably won't at this point.  But I did read it all.  Why did you decide to take on this task and how did you set it up?
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Offline Cavebear

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2018, 04:53:05 AM »
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"My son died in a car crash."

"Don't worry. Everything happens for a reason."

"Yeah. The reason is the other driver was a drunk motherfucker."

The "Everything happens for a reason" argument is one of the worst ever.  There generally aren't "reasons".  That's why they are called "accidents".  Except when drunk or distracted driver's do it.  Then it is called "manslaughter".  Unless it is deliberate.  Then it is called either "murder" or "suicide"

Funny how a very similar event can be several different things.  That why there are forensic experts...
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Baruch

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #25 on: May 12, 2018, 07:10:27 AM »
Akira Kurosawa would disagree with you ...

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In most movies you get the POV of the "omnipotent witness" aka G-d.  This gives us a false sense of objectivity.

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Offline Baruch

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #26 on: May 12, 2018, 07:22:22 AM »
Jacques Derrida is the philosopher of "reading".  How we "read ourselves" into what we read.  So when Americans read the Bible, they are reading into it their culture, as well as their individuality.  Books can define whole civilizations.  The West is defined by the Bible, even if one has never read it ... the rest of society has, directly and indirectly thru the memes it has generated since Late Rome adopted Christianity.

By all means, read in English whatever you will.  But if the original language isn't English, or the culture isn't your culture, beware of how you read yourself into it.

I am reading "The Hebrew Bible" - A Critical Companion ... the latest secular analysis, edited by John Barton (of Oxford) and printed by Princeton.  That gives you one perspective.

I am teaching the Psalms in the original Hebrew, particularly Psalm 1 and Psalm 23.  That gives a different perspective.  One perspective is "outside" and the other is "inside".  Derrida didn't really speak to this, but it is important.

What is the point of reading something deeply, in the original language?  Fahrenheit 451.

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If you read deeply, you become what you read.  Incarnation of the word.  Logos ... which was verbal, not written, embodied, not disembodied.
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Offline SGOS

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #27 on: May 12, 2018, 07:54:58 AM »
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The "everything happens for a reason" crowd.
A friend believed there was no such thing as a coincidence.  He used to expand on the theme of missing a meeting, which leads to an alternate life branch where you meet a stranger, who points out something or other, and introduces you to a friend who does something or other, that changes your direction again, where you end up meeting your soul mate, find God, or accomplish something or other.  He would conclude by pointing out there were too many variables that ended up putting you right where you needed to be.  This could not be coincidence, but could only be by the hand of a higher power.

One day he was enthusiastically telling me about a new TV series that Michael Landon was going to make, where all the episodes centered around the randomness of life that leads us here and there until we end up where we are.  He found great validation in his philosophy because a fellow spiritual traveler, from Hollywood no less, also recognized that spiritually based intercessions in life at specific times were there to guide you on your life's journey.  The fact that some people accidently become bank robbers through the randomness of life... well I don't know.  He never addressed that.  As it turned out, Michael Landon's series never made it to the airwaves, possibly due to a higher power's intercession... for a good reason.

But many years later, Matt Damon starred in a delightful feature film, The Adjustment Bureau, which explained exactly how these more or less invisible men in black hats manipulate the "coincidences" that make the necessary adjustments to our lives and keep the course of human history as well as our own lives going where the men in black hats want it to go.  Everything happens for a reason, except for when it doesn't.

Offline Baruch

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #28 on: May 12, 2018, 08:08:11 AM »
Even in science and technology, so called progress is accidental connections ...

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Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #29 on: May 12, 2018, 10:12:19 AM »
I'm of the opinion that some ideas used by Christians, including "everything happens for a reason," are psychological defenses against despair. I don't think these ideas are strictly Christian but where I live Christian seem to be the ones who use them. The ideas that God is in control, that you are part of a plan bigger than yourself, that you will be forgiven for your mistakes, that you are loved when no one else seems to care, that the good guys will eventually win and the bad guys will lose, that you are more than just aging flesh, that you will see your deceased loved ones again... whether one believes these to be true or not, they are all coping strategies. As a secular person, I simply have different coping strategies. What works for one person may not work for another.
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

 

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