• Hanover
    2.5k
    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
    9.4k
    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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