• Agustino
    11.3k
    those folk are big on transubstantiation, unlike, say, the Jews and the Muslims.jorndoe
    Merry Christmas!

    Sure the Jews and the Moslems don't have the doctrine in the same manner, but they sure do have equivalent doctrines. The point of transubstantiation is that man can come to share, by grace, in the Divinity of the Trinity - ie, God became man so that men may become gods. Doesn't the same doctrine exist in Kaballah or Sufi mysticism? Of course - the essential point that man can share in a divine essence (though not in the sense of his essence becoming one with the divine essence) is there.

    None of the differences you've mentioned are profound differences. A profound difference is a difference in content, not merely in language. For example, such a difference is on reincarnation between the Christians and the Buddhists - though even there things are debatable (ie, what reincarnates - cause Christians would agree that atoms and matter, and maybe even desires and tendencies reincarnate).

    That's why I said your post is a joke. It's not even worth the effort for me of addressing each of those petty little points. Nobody - no academic - stoops so low as to discuss at the level you want to carry the discussion at. That level displays a profound misunderstanding of religion. For example, you don't even understand what transubstantiation means - you literarily have no understanding about the content of it, you just repeat a string of words. You find a different string of words in Islam, or in Judaism, etc. and then you go like "Oh see, irreconcilable differences, they can't all be right!". You don't understand what those words mean, so you have no clue at all if you find a similar doctrine expressed through different words in another religion.

    If your post was submitted to any academic who deals with comparative religion, you'd easily get an F.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    As for differences between Christians... take the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. You count them as two separate groups, but in essence they are the same. The only difference is one of emphasis - the Catholic Church puts greater emphasis on reason, while the Orthodox Church puts greater emphasis on mystical experience. And apart from that, the significant difference is a political one - the Orthodox Church does not accept the authority of the pope. That's all. In most other regards, believers will find deep agreement between themselves. So you're one of those people who cannot distinguish doctrine from politics.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    So, when do you suppose this very long discussion which I have only noticed getting longer but haven't followed, will move on to the Immaculate Conception and the virgin birth (not the same thing), the proper method of baptism, the closure of divine testimony, and other matters?
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    So, when do you suppose this very long discussion which I have only noticed getting longer but haven't followed, will move on to the Immaculate Conception and the virgin birth (not the same thing), the proper method of baptism, the closure of divine testimony, and other matters?Bitter Crank
    Merry Christmas!

    In due time of course. Why, were you thinking to contribute when these matters came about?

    I think people, especially those who identify with New Atheism, generally fail to distinguish between the religious, social and political aspects of organized religion. Ignorance of anthropology and forgetfulness of the point that all organised religion has its origins in mystical hierophanies contribute to this "low-quality" debate.

    That is why all discourse remains at the level of conflicting organized religions and fails to grasp the process through which these organized religions came to be in the first place. As such, it is very likely that where there was initially unity, through the process of solidification and ossification of dogmatic structures meant to preserve the teachings (a process that translates an experience into language), there arose irreconcileable differences.

    Once we are at the level of organized religions, it is absolutely essential to disentangle religious, social, and political aspects from each other. You mention the proper method of baptism. That isn't a religious aspect, so much as it is a socio-political one for each church. The religious teachings of Christianity establish Baptism to be a matter of the heart - it has nothing to do with any ritual hosted by any church.

    For example, one version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

    29 Q: But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved?

    A: If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best he can, such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation...

    Baptism of desire can be explicit…The doctrine of the Church also recognizes implicit baptism of desire. This consists in doing the will of God. God knows all men and He knows that amongst Muslims, Buddhists and in the whole of humanity there are men of good will. They receive the grace of baptism without knowing it, but in an effective way. In this way they become part of the Church…"
    Last one is from here.

    And this is acknowledged by the Orthodox Church equally. So at this religious level - or even mystical level if you will - there are virtually no disagreements. However, when it comes to "the proper method of baptism" - that is no longer a religious issue at all. It is a socio-political one. Different cultures, different churches, etc. have their own ways, and they each think their way is the most appropriate way to illustrate & convey physically the mystical change of baptism. To support their independence, they must stand by their own ways. Furthermore, there is a political element, in that every church wants its own variant of the proper method of baptism to be followed, since it can grow its power and number of adherents that way.

    So the schism in the Christian church were really socio-political matters, not religious ones. Even Martin Luther, he mostly disagreed with the way the Church was behaving as a socio-politicial organisation, not otherwise.

    Other matters such as burning witches, etc. (which jorndoe makes allusion to, thinking it's a knock-out blow or something) were again not religious matters, so much as they were socio-political ones. So it must be remembered that organized religions don't solely have a religious function, but also a socio-political one. The goal of the socio-political structure isn't just to sustain the religious function, but also power, influence, and survival - and to achieve this, any means can be used. In this regard, an organized religion is no different than a political party - the people in charge control the socio-political decisions taken.

    Even if you go back to the Bible, to people like Abraham, they were still sinners. Abraham gave his wife to other men because he was afraid he would be killed multiple times, and asked her to say she is his sister. Indeed, Abraham displayed a very developed talent for politics. So if even Abraham can do that, how much more can a pope commit atrocities when at the head of the Church?
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    Yes, Merry Christmas, Glad Yule, Joyeux Noël...

    So the schism in the Christian church were really socio-political matters, not religious ones. Even Martin Luther, he mostly disagreed with the way the Church was behaving as a socio-politicial organisation, not otherwise.Agustino

    The difference between Lutheran theology and liturgy isn't all that different from Roman Catholic. Some Lutherans take pride in their Catholicity, others not. It depends which social group in Europe their tradition originated in, and then what happened when it was transplanted to the United States. And those changes were often more clearly social or political, and only somewhat religious.

    It isn't just nouveau atheists that fail to understand the "religious, social and political aspects of organized religion." Both ardent and wishy-washy Christians get confused about this too (here speaking of the American religious experience). To compose a figure of speech, the church is located in an inter-tidal swamp between God on the one hand and society on the other. Twice a day the swamp is swept back and forth by tides and drainage off the land. God and society are thoroughly mixed up in the church.

    In his sermon this morning Pastor mentioned a Pew Research study that was in the news about the change in percentages of people who believed in several aspects of the Christmas story:
    A) angels appearing to the shepherds
    B) the virgin birth
    C) the star leading the 3 kings, or 3 wisemen
    D) the manger scene

    Belief was surprisingly high (in the 40-55% range), but falling slightly since the last survey. Pastor H. pointed out that these elements of the story were not central to the meaning of the Incarnation, which is what Jesus' birth is about. (The reading for today was from John, "In the beginning was the Word...) Christians have difficulty sorting out the significance of mangers, mysterious wisemen, angels & shepherds, frankincense, immaculate conceptions, and a woman who is still virginal after delivered a baby. The idea that the author of a gospel had good reasons to embroider the Incarnation story sounds like either an attack on the truth (for those who take it literally) or proof that the whole thing is a crock, for those looking for an exit.

    The change from the priest facing the cross and a wall during the eucharistic ritual to facing the congregation didn't go down well with some, and those people are still unhappy about it, decades later. Everything is supposed to stay the way it was 50 years ago, or the foundations begin to shake.

    Most Christians don't recognize that for their individual church operation, the tail of real estate (upkeep of the church building) is wagging the dog of their religious mission--especially when a congregation shrinks in size, and isn't using the building very much. Give up the holy white elephant building?

    N-O-T -A- C-H-A-N-C-E!

    The existence of a building with a congregation's name on it is proof that they are a real church.

    Though December 25 marks the beginning of Christmas in the church calendar, the secular calendar marks midnight 12/24 as its end. Christmas Day is just a rest up for the year end post-Christmas sales drive. And reports, of course. Lots of people have reports to turn in by 12/31--or worse in years like this, 12/29.
  • Hanover
    4.1k
    That is why all discourse remains at the level of conflicting organized religions and fails to grasp the process through which these organized religions came to be in the first place. As such, it is very likely that where there was initially unity, through the process of solidification and ossification of dogmatic structures meant to preserve the teachings (a process that translates an experience into language), there arose irreconcileable differences.Agustino

    Your thesis that all organized religions are essentially the same, whatever religious essence might be, is anything but obvious, and very doubtful. There are far too many religions to suggest it's possible to distill a few unifying truths and to also not require discarding critical distinguishing elements. That is, Judaism is not in essence Christianity.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Both ardent and wishy-washy Christians get confused about this too (here speaking of the American religious experience).Bitter Crank
    That is true, although there is a slight difference here. These ardent & wishy-washy Christians usually do have a degree of epistemic humility and openness to the mystical side of religion that atheists don't.

    To compose a figure of speech, the church is located in an inter-tidal swamp between God on the one hand and society on the other. Twice a day the swamp is swept back and forth by tides and drainage off the land. God and society are thoroughly mixed up in the church.Bitter Crank
    I agree.

    Belief was surprisingly high (in the 40-55% range), but falling slightly since the last survey.Bitter Crank
    The problem with these religious surveys is that when people answer them, most of them don't really understand what they're answering if they answer "yes", "no", "maybe", etc. To truly understand these matters does require a degree of theological education that most people don't have. So then it quite often ends up being one of those cases where the person thinks "I know I must answer this", but aren't quite sure why.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    There are far too many religions to suggest it's possible to distill a few unifying truths and to also not require discarding critical distinguishing elements.Hanover
    It is almost a given that when you're looking for the essence of something you will discard accidentals. The fact that such a universal unifying core exists is proof enough that religions have been grappling with what is essentially the same hierophanic phenomenon. So when atheists bring up the point that religions are all different and therefore they can't all be right, they fail to understand the significant portion in which religions are actually not different.

    For example, sure Judaism disagrees with the Trinity. So what? It doesn't disagree at all with the overarching narrative. The Trinity is indeed a religious doctrine (not a socio-political one), but that is almost at the very peak of possible mystical experiences and direct revelations, and it's not a truth that is available to all. So it's quite possible that Judaism either has not perceived that experience in which the truth of the Trinity is grounded, or they have, but they don't express it through the doctrine of the Trinity - instead, expressing its inner meaning through a different doctrine.

    That is, Judaism is not in essence Christianity.Hanover
    Sure, of course not. But they're both attempts at grappling with the relationship between man and his divine ground and do bear significant common ground with each other.
  • Hanover
    4.1k
    It is almost a given that when you're looking for the essence of something you will discard accidentals. The fact that such a universal unifying core exists is proof enough that religions have been grappling with what is essentially the same hierophanic phenomenon. So when atheists bring up the point that religions are all different and therefore they can't all be right, they fail to understand the significant portion in which religions are actually not different.Agustino

    I don't subscribe to the idea that essences exist. There are only particular traits that once fully subtracted leave the object at nothing. I understand the need to invoke accidental and essential properties when discussing the doctrine of transubstantiation because the Church relied upon those concepts when forming the doctrine, but I don't find it useful or persuasive as a metaphysical theory.

    It is not a fact that a unifying core exists. If Christianity is right, Judaism is wrong. The fact that missionaries knock on my door is evidence someone doubts the ultimate legitimacy of my beliefs.

    So it's quite possible that Judaism either has not perceived that experience in which the truth of the Trinity is grounded, or they have, but they don't express it through the doctrine of the Trinity - instead, expressing its inner meaning through a different doctrine.Agustino

    And it is not only possible, but probable, that they find the triunity an incoherent attempt to save Christianity from polytheism. And the Mormons accept the trinity as three different entities, rejecting the triunity and embracing a form of polytheism.

    And what is more essential to Judaism than the first commandment and monotheism, yet I am supposed to believe polytheistic religions that worship idols are essentially all the same?

    Sure, of course not. But they're both attempts at grappling with the relationship between man and his divine ground and do bear significant common ground with each other.Agustino

    Which is only to point out that the word "religion" means something and there must be something similar for us to catagorize them in the same bucket. Are all rocks the same because they're all rocks?
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    If Christianity is right, Judaism is wrong.Hanover
    That is much like saying "if Einstein is right, then Newton is wrong". It gives entirely the wrong impression since Newton is absolutely not wrong in-so-far as we're concerned with motion on Earth, or in any given portion of spacetime that can be treated as flat.

    The fact that missionaries knock on my door is evidence someone doubts the ultimate legitimacy of my beliefs.Hanover
    Well, you have to remember that missionaries don't have just a spiritual mission, but also a political and social one. So by converting you to their church they achieve political and social goals much more than spiritual ones in this case.

    I don't subscribe to the idea that essences exist. There are only particular traits that once fully subtracted leave the object at nothing.Hanover
    Well, I think that it's clear that some properties are essential to an object, while others are not. For example, a three-sided figure is still a triangle regardless of the proportions of the sides, or the color of the lines, etc. So three-sidedness is an essential property of a triangle - if an object lacks those, it cannot be called a triangle, unless of course you re-define what a triangle is.

    And it is not only possible, but probable, that they find the triunity an incoherent attempt to save Christianity from polytheism.Hanover
    And what is more essential to Judaism than the first commandment and monotheism, yet I am supposed to believe polytheistic religions that worship idols are essentially all the same?Hanover
    An idol is often taken to be a physical object that stands in for God, so I don't see how Christianity is worship of idols - unless you take it that, for example, icons are the same as idols. But the difference, as Jean-Luc Marion explicates it in God Without Being, is that the idol traps the gaze, not allowing it to move beyond the object. Whereas the icon moves the gaze beyond itself, unto the invisible God.

    With regards to Monotheism, there is still one God in Christianity, much like one triangle is one triangle even though it has three sides. So a further explication of the inner nature of God if you will isn't a denial of monotheism - it's merely an addition to it, a continuation, a further explication. Which is exactly why I've said that you can accept the monotheism, without also accepting the Trinity, without being wrong in an absolute sense.

    Which is only to point out that the word "religion" means something and there must be something similar for us to catagorize them in the same bucket. Are all rocks the same because they're all rocks?Hanover
    No, they're clearly not the same in their accidental features, of course not (and religions are also not all the same in the symbols they use, in their socio-cultural practices, and in their politics, etc.). But there must be something they have in common in virtue of which we see a resemblance amongst all rocks, and thus call them all rocks, thus grouping them together.
  • Hanover
    4.1k
    That is much like saying "if Einstein is right, then Newton is wrong". It gives entirely the wrong impression since Newton is absolutely not wrong in-so-far as we're concerned with motion on Earth, or in any given portion of spacetime that can be treated as flat.Agustino
    Jews do not believe Jesus was the son of God. I think most would agree that Jesus' position as the son of God is an essential element of Christianity. If one insists upon dividing the world into accidental and essential properties, I don't know many who would consider Jesus's role as savior and son of God as a non-essential part of Christianity. So, yes, if Judaism is right, Christianity is wrong in an essential, non-trivial ort of way. Do you not agree with this?
    Well, you have to remember that missionaries don't have just a spiritual mission, but also a political and social one. So by converting you to their church they achieve political and social goals much more than spiritual ones in this case.Agustino

    That might explain someone in a leadership position who actually worries about overall numbers, but the kid in the tie on his bicycle is at my door because he thinks he has the key to truth and heaven that is lacking in whatever religion I subscribe to.
    Well, I think that it's clear that some properties are essential to an object, while others are not. For example, a three-sided figure is still a triangle regardless of the proportions of the sides, or the color of the lines, etc. So three-sidedness is an essential property of a triangle - if an object lacks those, it cannot be called a triangle, unless of course you re-define what a triangle is.Agustino
    The reason we can't decipher the accidental from essential property of a chair, for example, is because the distinction isn't real. A chair that cannot be sat on can still be a chair. A four legged chair with a missing leg is still a chair, even though it sits broken on the floor. A chair in a dollhouse is still a chair, even though it serves no function of being a chair. There are a set of properties that make something a chair and it's possible that two chairs be chairs yet not share a single property. In your case of transubstantiation, you even suggested that the essential property not even be empirically knowable, indicating that essence is a transcendent property, like the soul of something, imbuing it with chairness. Like I said, I reject essentialism, which might be why I consider your suggestion that all religions share an essence unsupportable.
    With regards to Monotheism, there is still one God in Christianity, much like one triangle is one triangle even though it has three sides.Agustino
    As I indicated, Mormonism is polytheistic. http://www.mormonhandbook.com/home/polytheism.html This is directly from a Mormon website. Are you now declaring Mormons non-Christian? There are plenty of other religions that are polytheistic. Are you still claiming that they are essentially the same as Christianity?

    If you want to really rest your argument on the accidental/essential distinction, then you are going to be required to itemize the properties you find essential to Christianity and then to the various competing religions. We will then need to see what the common essence is of all religions. That's your thesis, right? And then once we find that essence, you're going to have to be committed to the idea that any belief system with that very basic essence is just as valid as any other.
    No, they're clearly not the same in their accidental features, of course not (and religions are also not all the same in the symbols they use, in their socio-cultural practices, and in their politics, etc.). But there must be something they have in common in virtue of which we see a resemblance amongst all rocks, and thus call them all rocks, thus grouping them together.Agustino
    You're now rejecting essentialism and arguing Wittgensteinian family resemblance. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_resemblance . If that's where you're falling on this, we're in agreement, but I think what's really happened is that you're simply recognizing the unsupportability of essentialism and you're trying to adapt to the objections being raised.

    For what it's worth, I did learn that what we consider Aristotilian essentialism (i.e. "the doctrine that some of the attributes of a thing (quite independently of the language in which the thing is referred to, if at all) may be essential to the thing and others accidental. E.g. a man, or talking animal, or featherless biped (for they are all the same things), is essentially rational and accidentally two-legged and talkative not merely qua man, but qua itself.") is based upon a paper by Quine and he never confirms that view was actually attributable to Aristotle. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Essentialism

    I point this out because I never found the conversation about Aristotilian metaphysics philosophically significant. It's value is historical because apparently the Catholic Church adopted his views long ago when arriving at an explanation for transubstantiation. I suppose if some academic or theologian really wanted to figure out the underlying basis for the Church's position, they could go back and read the original texts. It's sort of like if I wanted to know why the American founding fathers referenced inalienable rights, I might want to go back and re-read Locke's view on natural rights since that's it's origin, but that hardly means I need to accept Locke's views. I'd just be trying to figure out where those views came from. And that is important too, if not just to point out the obvious fact that these views on transubstantiation are historically rooted as opposed to being rooted in the inerrant word of God.

    And, since I mentioned Locke, he did mention primary and secondary qualities of objects, which seems another futile attempt at distinguishing properties out of objects (in his case, subjective properties versus objective properties as opposed to Aristotle's essential versus accidental). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary/secondary_quality_distinction
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    So, yes, if Judaism is right, Christianity is wrong in an essential, non-trivial ort of way. Do you not agree with this?Hanover
    Of course, I agree with it, but that's besides the point. It's like telling me that if Newton's laws of motion cannot predict the movement of rays of light around the Earth, then they are wrong in an essential way compared to Einstein's theory of relativity. Sure! So what?! For all this time I was trying to point out that they have an essential core in common - on Earth, they both make the same predictions.

    Christianity and Judaism still have what is essentially the exact same worldview. There even are some Jews (called Messianic Jews) who have adopted the centrality of Jesus qua Messiah affirmed by Christianity.

    So my point is that you are not "wrong" in any absolute sense if you follow the tenets of Judaism or Christianity - you may simply not be completely right, in an explicit manner.

    That might explain someone in a leadership position who actually worries about overall numbers, but the kid in the tie on his bicycle is at my door because he thinks he has the key to truth and heaven that is lacking in whatever religion I subscribe to.Hanover
    Sure, but there are a lot of elements that go into building up that belief for him. Some of those reasons may have to do with insecurity, others may have to do with wanting to share his knowledge, others may have to do with peer pressure and social expectations, etc.

    As I indicated, Mormonism is polytheistic. http://www.mormonhandbook.com/home/polytheism.html This is directly from a Mormon website.Hanover
    Right, I do not doubt that they see themselves as polytheists.

    Are you now declaring Mormons non-Christian?Hanover
    If you're asking me what I personally think, then I don't think Christianity is Mormonism. I identify Christianity with the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, which were the very first organisations that arose out of the Movement created by Jesus and the Apostles. That's the original Christianity in my view.

    If you're asking me what Mormons think, I think they would see their religion as a continuation of true Christianity.

    There are plenty of other religions that are polytheistic. Are you still claiming that they are essentially the same as Christianity?Hanover
    With regards to their core, in many cases this is so. Organized religions arise out of man's encounter with the divine, ie hierophanic experiences OR out of internal disagreements within one religion. The latter explains the emergence of Protestant groups or the Orthodox-Catholic schism, etc. But it is the former that is of the essence, and that is universally found across different religions.

    The Jesus Movement formed because, first and foremost, the Apostles and the people who knew and met Jesus saw something worth dying for in Him - they were utterly impressed by the character and the person of Christ, and saw in Him the fulfillment of the Jewish Tradition. That was an experience of the divine, including the many mystical experiences that the Apostles had such as the one of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus.

    The Jewish religion arose out of the mystical experiences of the Jewish forefathers - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their encounter with the transcendent, which they termed and conceptualised as God, is what spawned the entire Jewish religion.

    The Buddhist religion arose out of Siddhartha Gautama's dissatisfaction with life - or rather observation that life is corrupted by suffering - and search for a meaning beyond this, and it finishes precisely with his encounter with the transcendent which provided for the cure he was searching for.

    You also seem to have a peculiarly legalistic understanding of belief. For example, someone says they believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and someone else says they disagree, they think, for whatever reason, that it's a false belief. You will conclude they have different beliefs. I disagree. That's not what belief is, especially not with regards to religious matters. I can tell you that I believe in pink flying elephants, it doesn't mean that I really believe it just because I want to assent to that proposition when it crosses my mind. To really believe it, I must believe it in my heart, which means that I must act according to that belief.

    So someone who says that Jesus is the Son of God and then proceeds to rape and murder an entire village doesn't believe it - even though he may assent to the words. And someone who says that Jesus isn't the Son of God, and he's absolutely sure of it, but behaves according to the Will of God, showing charity to his friends and enemies alike, following the moral law, etc. etc. that one does really believe in Christ, even though he does not explicitly know it or acknowledge it (hence the notion of Anonymous Christian or baptism of the heart, etc.).

    Do not forget that another universal feature of religions is that the consciousness of the believer must be changed by the religion. So that is what true belief is - when you become a new person as a result of the religion.

    So to believe isn't the same as verbally assenting to this or that. Without the underlying mystical experiences saying that God is One, or there are three gods, etc. are empty nonsense, words without any meaning whatsoever. It is only the underlying hierophanic experiences which give meaning unto those words. So it's entirely irrelevant if one says they're a polytheist, and the other says that they're a monotheist - that's not how we're going to see if they really disagree. Those meanings must be ultimately rooted in practice and experience and life.

    If you want to really rest your argument on the accidental/essential distinction, then you are going to be required to itemize the properties you find essential to Christianity and then to the various competing religions. We will then need to see what the common essence is of all religions.Hanover
    I already said what is common to all (or most) world religions. That is their foundation in hierophanic experiences, their overarching narrative (a fallen state, followed by something that allows for redemption and communion with the divine), etc. How these things are cashed out in particular symbols, according to particular cultures, languages, peoples, etc. is less relevant. Prayer, meditation, contemplation, devotion, etc. - in other words spiritual practice - are common to all religions.

    The reason we can't decipher the accidental from essential property of a chair, for example, is because the distinction isn't real. A chair that cannot be sat on can still be a chair. A four legged chair with a missing leg is still a chair, even though it sits broken on the floor. A chair in a dollhouse is still a chair, even though it serves no function of being a chair. There are a set of properties that make something a chair and it's possible that two chairs be chairs yet not share a single property. In your case of transubstantiation, you even suggested that the essential property not even be empirically knowable, indicating that essence is a transcendent property, like the soul of something, imbuing it with chairness. Like I said, I reject essentialism, which might be why I consider your suggestion that all religions share an essence unsupportable.Hanover
    Right, so then there are objects like chairs which we cannot define by a single list of necessary properties without a specific context. Then there are words like triangle in Euclidean geometry which we can define by a single list of necessary properties, which is the example I've given and you've ignored. Why is that? My sentiment was always that in the one case we really mean a multitude of things by "chair" in different contexts, and because in our language we tended to use the same word for all of them, the word chair is in effect impossible to define in a consistent way in order to cover all that we mean by chair at once, across all contexts. So something could be a chair because they have properties A and B, and something else could be a chair even though they have properties D and E (which are actually contradictory to A and B) and so on. So I think the above says more about our language, and how we chose to linguistically divide our concepts than it does about reality. It's important not to confuse language with reality.

    You're now rejecting essentialism and arguing Wittgensteinian family resemblance. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_resemblance . If that's where you're falling on this, we're in agreement, but I think what's really happened is that you're simply recognizing the unsupportability of essentialism and you're trying to adapt to the objections being raised.Hanover
    I do not see why accepting family-resemblances would mean a rejection of essentialism.

    SEP says:

    "Essentialism in general may be characterized as the doctrine that (at least some) objects have (at least some) essential properties"

    Wittgenstein's point with family resemblances is that what properties are seen to be essential to a concept depends on how that concept is used (ie, meaning is use). So that doesn't mean that the concept does not have essential properties, all that means is that those essential properties depend on what place it has in a language game.

    So, for example, in the context (or language game) of Euclidean geometry, being three-sided is the essential property of a triangle.

    Like I said, I reject essentialism, which might be why I consider your suggestion that all religions share an essence unsupportable.Hanover
    Religions have their origin in experiences of the divine. Are these experiences all different? Probably. But that doesn't make them "not experiences of the divine" because of differences they have with each other. And I don't think this requires your acceptance of essentialism to agree with. All that you need to see is that these mystical experiences are the root of religions, and it is going back to those lived experiences that is of importance and relevance. Because otherwise, there is one God, or there are three gods aren't in any way or sense different from each other - they'd be vacuous statements. So religious discourse only has meaning with reference to these foundational experiences. The defect with the atheist arguments here is that they remain at the level of discourse, thinking that that discourse has meaning, in the absence of referring to those foundational experiences.

    To look at it in a different way, religions all seek to put into words something that is fundamentally affective, a matter of the heart, and cannot be shared very well through words. What words are chosen, largely depends on the context in which the religions themselves arise. The underlying experiences are by all means not the same - but they do share commonalities and resemblances. That is why some religions may be more "right" than others, in a loose sense, in that they convey experiences more or less fully. But most religions do contain truth.

    I suppose if some academic or theologian really wanted to figure out the underlying basis for the Church's position, they could go back and read the original texts.Hanover
    Well if by "underlying basis" you mean how the Church came to have Transubstantiation in the first place, then it would be rooted in Apostolic Tradition and the practice(s) surrounding the initial hierophanic experiences of the earliest believers, clearly not in philosophy. There would really be no further reasons. So philosophy's job is merely the explication of those practices in a way that they can be understood as part of an overarching whole, which makes it easier to help others towards being open to and having the same experiences. When I want to share an experience with you, I tell you a story - about how it happened, what I did, how it felt, what I learned, etc. So philosophy, in this case, constructs a similar narrative that can explain the basis of the tradition. But this is not essential - the essential bit is the mystical experience and the change of heart that underlies whatever ritual is taking place.
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