• What is religion?
    "What is religion?" said jesting Ciceronianus; and would not stay for an answer.
  • Your Absolute Truths
    Do you really think that if we're not absolutely certain about something we're uncertain about it, i.e. that we can't rely on it, that we're doubtful about it, that it's unknown?
    — Ciceronianus

    That is the case indeed, either you like it or not.

    So you doubted you were posting your response to my post when you responded? You were unsure you were doing so--perhaps because you were uncertain you were typing on or using whatever device you used? Or is the fact you responded, and used whatever you used to do so, examples of absolute truths?

    Do you doubt you're reading this, or that there is something to be read?
  • Your Absolute Truths
    So you think that we are condemned to uncertainty about the general picture? I don't want to admit it but it might probably be the case.dimosthenis9

    Do you really think that if we're not absolutely certain about something we're uncertain about it, i.e. that we can't rely on it, that we're doubtful about it, that it's unknown? I wonder how you live if that's the case. Are you God, or perhaps a good friend of His, to invoke absolutes?
  • Your Absolute Truths
    Well no, we can't really know exactly how the external world is.Only what senses tell us. And neither what is really true about the universe and what its actual form is.dimosthenis9

    If we're part of the universe, there is no "external world." There's just the world, and we're part of the world. If you seek absolute truths which aren't "human-ish" then you will have to find another world. We interact with the rest of the world as we must given our capacities and our place in it, and if that means there is no "absolute truth" so be it (so IS it, in fact). You put "absolute truth" beyond our reach in that case, making it insignificant. We cannot know it and have no reason to know it.
  • Your Absolute Truths

    I just object to the notion that humans aren't part of the universe, i.e. that we're apart from it in some sense. It's a view which I think fosters, among other things, the belief that we can't really know the universe (sometimes referred to as "the external world"), and so can't really know what's really true about the universe.
  • Your Absolute Truths
    The absolute truths that if you remove everything "human-ish" from them, everything phenomenalogical etc they still apply also in universe .dimosthenis9

    Humans are as much a part of the universe as everything else. How's that for an "absolute truth"? Try to remove the "human-ish" from that.
  • Is there an external material world ?

    Threads like these make me wish there was no "external world."
  • The unexplainable
    Neat. Not true, I would say. But sometimes I prefer neatness to truth. (That's a confession, not a boast.)Cuthbert

    Chesterton was a very glib, amusing fellow, and that sometimes makes his relentless special pleading nearly tolerable.
  • Same-Sex Marriage

    The law shouldn't and for the most part doesn't treat marriage as anything more than a partnership. Partnerships have property, income, debts; so do marriages. Divorce therefore deals with marriage as a partnership being dissolved. Legal rights and obligations of parents and children aren't dependent on the marital status of parents. A parent has certain rights and obligations whether or not they're married. Children have certain rights regardless of the marital status of their parents.

    From the legal standpoint, then, it should make no difference if a marriage is same sex or opposite sex based. Personally, I think what is called marriage should be considered a civil union regardless of the sex of those entering into the union. "Marriage" carries too much baggage, moral and religious. Religions may impose what requirements, rituals and ceremonies needed for the existence of a marriage they may please, but that shouldn't be any concern of the law.

    Marriages resulting from incest and marriage to children won't be an issue until incest and sex with minors is legalized.
  • Forrester's Paradox / The Paradox of Gentle Murder

    If you murder, you ought to murder gently.
    You cannot murder gently
    Therefore, you ought not murder
  • The Ultimate Question of Metaphysics
    Because maths tells us that chaos must have structure as free possibility becomes its own system of constraints.apokrisis

    I don't know if this is an assertion based on Peirce's views or on something else. If I recall correctly, though, he thought that chaos would result in structure through the development of what he called "habits" which it seems consist of actions or patterns which have already taken place. But I've always found his thoughts on this issue difficult to comprehend, though very interesting.
  • If you were the only person left ....
    I'd keep living until living became intolerable, for one reason or another. Lot's of things to do and see, assuming there's food and drink and shelter. A Ferrari would be nice as well, assuming there's gas available.
  • The Ultimate Question of Metaphysics
    Oh, it always comes down to math, doesn't it? A real show-stopper. Who can dispute math? Not me, God (or is it math?) knows.
  • The Ultimate Question of Metaphysics
    Why do you keep framing this as a problem of "something rather than nothing" when that has already been agreed as a self-contradicting metaphysics?apokrisis

    So drop the "something rather than nothing". It's the first thing to get chucked out here.apokrisis

    I was under the impression from one or two posts in this thread it was a subject of discussion.

    The question becomes why something and not everything? Why a state of structured order and not some wild material chaos?apokrisis

    In what sense is the question "Why is there a state of structured order instead of some wild material chaos?" significantly less problematic than the question "Why is there something instead of nothing?"

    Instead the universe emerged as a persisting stable structure because it discovered reason. It was organised by the inevitability of a rational or logical structure. The cosmos is itself the expression of evolutionary reasonableness.apokrisis

    I don't know why the universe emerged. I suspect that's not something we'll come to know through philosophy. Through physics or cosmology, perhaps. It makes sense to me that once it emerged, constituents of the universe interacted and certain things took place as a result of that interaction and continue to take place, and that we're able at least to some extent to determine why and how they took or take place. There is, then, a structure. We can make certain inferences from that, some philosophical. Keeping with the Stoic theme, for example, we may infer that wisdom is that we live "according to nature" (what we perceive to be the reason or intelligence suggested by the structure of the universe).

    I don't think we can say that the universe came into being in order for the structure to be realized, though. You may have no issue with that; I'm not sure.
  • The Ultimate Question of Metaphysics

    We may be able to theorize that "existence is evolutionary"; we may be able to ascertain a tendency toward organization. I have problems thinking of that as explaining why there is something rather than nothing, however. Does the universe exist in order to evolve, or does the evolution take place because it exists? The super-explanation I was thinking of, which I think is the goal of the question necessitated by the form of the question (why something instead of nothing) would be an explanation along the lines of "there's something because the universe was created for a reason." In other words, the question presumes a transcendent cause with an end in view--not a something which always is instead of nothing.

    I personally sypmpathize with the view that any deity or divinity is immanent rather than transcendent, along the lines of what the ancient Stoics thought. They thought the universe organized and guided by a Divine Reason represented by fire, itself a part of the universe. I don't know if we can determine a purpose or reason, because of which there must be something, but we may be able to determine a tendency or process, and speculate from there.
  • The Ultimate Question of Metaphysics
    Reality seems more a process - a developing structure - than just some eternal set of material objects.

    So existence might seem a brute fact, but persistence requires it contextual explanation.

    Accepting this, I still don't understand what assuming "nothing", whatever that is meant to mean, as--seemingly--an alternative to existence or persistence, does beyond supporting a belief that something in the nature of a super-explanation, which doesn't merely explain why a phenomenon or event exists or take place, which may be resolved by scientific inquiry or even common sense, is required to account for the universe and every part of it. There must be a super-explanation, or reason or purpose, for everything, because otherwise (instead) there would be nothing.
  • The Ultimate Question of Metaphysics

    It strikes me that the question, as stated, should never arise. Why assume that "something" requires an explanation because it exists rather than or instead of nothing?

    One might reasonably inquire why X exists, i.e. seek an explanation of its existence. This is something we do all the time. We arrive at an answer, or we don't. But it seems that this question, with its assumption of an alternative to something called "nothing", doesn't really seek an explanation, but instead searches for a purpose.
  • The Ultimate Question of Metaphysics
    Why is there something rather than nothing ?Deus

    "Rather than"? Do you think there's something called "nothing" which would exist if there wasn't something?

    Do you mean to ask "Why is there something?"
  • Why does religion condemn suicide?
    It's quite simple. No persons, no religions.
  • Bannings
    I can confirm that this member asked to be banned.Jamal

    Yes? Diogenes the Dog, when reminded that the people of Sinope had sentenced him to exile, responded that he had sentenced them to remain in Sinope.
  • Religious speech and free speech

    Well, the opinion is available for anyone to read.

    I find the idea of "offering" (as the majority opinion puts it) prayer to God about playing football well exceedingly silly, myself. As if the God of the universe would care about football games and their outcome, or be inclined to grant prayers that relate to the performance of football players and teams. But I know that people think God listens and responds to such prayers.

    But what concerns me about this decision and others is the tendency to ignore information readily available, and even mischaracterize circumstances relevant to a case, in pursuit of a particular outcome. Alas, we lawyers are known to do just that, as advocates. But judges shouldn't be advocates.

    I've been a lawyer a long time and I recognize the technique.

    The majority and the dissent appear to be considering very different cases. Submitted for your consideration--

    From the majority opinion:

    "Joseph Kennedy lost his job as a high school football
    coach because he knelt at midfield after games to offer a
    quiet prayer of thanks."

    "He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied."

    "Mr. Kennedy offered his prayers after the players and coaches had shaken hands, by taking
    a knee at the 50-yard line and praying “quiet[ly]” for “approximately 30 seconds.” I

    "Eventually, Mr. Kennedy began incorporating short motivational speeches with his
    prayer when others were present."

    "Naturally, Mr. Kennedy’s proposal to pray quietly by
    himself on the field would have meant some people would
    have seen his religious exercise."

    From the dissent:

    "Kennedy’s practice evolved into postgame talks in which Kennedy would hold aloft student
    helmets and deliver speeches with “overtly religious references,” which Kennedy described as prayers, while the players kneeled around him."

    "After the game, while the athletic director watched, Kennedy led a prayer out loud, holding up a
    player’s helmet as the players kneeled around him."

    Before the homecoming game, Kennedy made multiple media appearances to publicize his plans to pray at the 50-yard line, leading to an article in the Seattle News and a
    local television broadcast about the upcoming homecoming game. In the wake of this media coverage, the District began receiving a large number of emails, letters, and calls, many of them threatening."

    "On October 16, after playing of the game had concluded, Kennedy shook hands with the opposing team, and as advertised, knelt to pray while most BHS players were singing the school’s fight song. He quickly was joined by coaches and players from the opposing team. Television
    news cameras surrounded the group.2 Members of the public rushed the field to join Kennedy, jumping fences to access the field and knocking over student band members. After the game, the District received calls from Satanists who “‘intended to conduct ceremonies on the field after football games if others were allowed to.’”

    Mr. Kennedy is apparently something of a publicity hound. There are pictures of him kneeling and, presumably "offering" prayer in front of the Supreme Court building as well.

    I'm ashamed to admit I find the thought of Satan worshippers "offering" prayers to Lucifer on the field after a high school game is played a bit beguiling.

    Anyone who has seen the many pictures of these displays would, I think, hesitate to characterize them as "private prayers." I'm amazed that accomplished lawyers (and I'm willing to assume, arguendo as we like to say, that the Justices are just that, though it seems like Justice Barret never practiced law beyond a few years at a private firm) would be so clumsy in employing this kind of argument.
  • Religious speech and free speech
    Kennedy v. Bremerton School District is an embarrassing decision, in which the majority is reduced to asserting that a prayer by a coach surrounded by players at the 50 yard line is a "private expression" of religious belief that the coach engaged in "alone."
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?
    How could Jesus learn something from Marcus Aurelius?Tate

    Didn't say he did. I said the Stoics (and others), who were walking the Earth long before before the Holy Spirit or whoever it was magically impregnated Mary, taught values taught by Jesus centuries later.
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?
    He didn't talk much about virtue. His focus was on love and forgiveness.Tate

    That may be, but it strikes me a virtuous life would include loving and forgiving. I mentioned the Stoics refencing love. Both Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius thought highly of forgiveness, and recommended it as proper.
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?
    Largely laudable, yes, but also a definite element of insanity/radicalness that frequently flies below the radar with modern Christians who use selective reading.Moses

    Particularly that bit about the rich and the eye of a needle.

    Who else preaches what Jesus says in that time period? What's similar?Moses

    I don't know who preached similar ideas, as "preach" has religious connotations. But the pagan philosophers taught the desirability of virtue, and to the extent Jesus did so he had many predecessors. Plato touted the four great virtues, Wisdom, Temperance, Justice and Courage. Aristotle's virtue of "generosity" is similar to the Christian concept of charity. Roman great men were expected to give benefits to the poor through public works. The Stoics taught the brotherhood of man, the common good, and love. According to Seneca, "No school has more goodness and gentleness; none has more love for human beings, nor more attention to the common good. (Seneca, On Clemency, 3.3) Friendship was valued by the Pythagoreans and Epicureans; Cicero believed it essential to good life.
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?

    What Jesus is said to have said is largely laudable. I simply don't think it unique.
  • The Death of Roe v Wade? The birth of a new Liberalism?
    Are they antifascists or fucking collaborators?180 Proof

    They are politicians, and Disraeli was right when he said that in politics there is no honor, so I'm not certain what they'll do. They'll do what seems to benefit them politically. These suggestions might.
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?
    I could swear salvation through Jesus was mentioned in Matthew.Moses

    He's identified as the messiah, and called the Son of God, but the messiah wasn't necessarily God, and there were quite a few sons of gods in antiquity. I don't think he was ever claimed to call himself God except in John
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?
    But I think this is a very difficult claim to support-how can you establish whether Jesus, NT or OT writers directly engaged with pagan philosophy, other than similarities in content (especially since the writers of the synoptic gospels were anonymous)?Paulm12

    Well, we certainly know that Greek culture greatly influenced the Jews, and indeed that Judaism became less exclusively Jewish after the Babylonian Exile. The book of the OT which probably is most appropriately considered philosophical, Ecclesiastes, is thought to have been written after the exile, sometime during the period from the 5th to the 2nd centuries B.C.E., and have been influenced by Persian and Greek thought. Hellenism impacted Jewish culture from at the latest the time of Alexander. Philo, of course, was profoundly influenced by Greek philosophy.

    I think Paul was far more influential in the development of Christianity than Jesus, and Paul was quite aware of pagan philosophy. Whoever wrote the Gospel of John certainly was as well, borrowing the concept of the Logos.
  • The Death of Roe v Wade? The birth of a new Liberalism?
    A quick glance at the opinion indicates efforts were made to make Alito appear less obviously the angry, self-righteous crank he appeared to be based on the draft. But one wonders what lengths the Supremes will go to in applying right-wing notions to the three primary obsessions of our Great Quasi-Republic--sex, guns and religion.
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?
    Does this really matter though? There's dozens of miracles associated with Jesus. We can disregard the miracles.Moses

    We certainly can, but if we do we should ask ourselves whether we should disregard other claims made about what he did and said, or at least consider them questionable. That's not easy to do if you believe Jesus to be God and the authors of the Gospels, the Acts, etc. to be divinely inspired. How do we disregard the miracles and accept the Resurrection? If we disregard the Resurrection, why do we believe Jesus was God? Because he said wise things? Why did he say some of those living at the time he spoke would see the Kingdom of God on Earth? Are we to disregard that as well? Even that most sophistical of Christian apologists, C.S. Lewis, found those comments embarrassing.

    I'd maintain we shouldn't think he's God because, in the Gospel of John, the latest of the Gospels, he claimed that nobody comes to the Father except through him, that he was the way, the truth and the light. I'm struck by how odd it is that, as far as I'm aware, none of the other Gospels mention this remarkable statement. Did their authors forget he said this, or consider it too unimportant to mention?
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?
    Considering how most historians date Philostratus's writing of the Life of Apollonius to around 220-225 AD, and the synoptic gospels being dated from 60-110 (with Pauline writings probably even earlier), its more likely that the story of Jesus (and perhaps its circulation among pegan audiences) influenced Apollonius than the other way around.Paulm12

    That may be, though Philostratus claimed to base his work in part on the memoirs of Apollonius' disciple, Damis, called Scraps from the Manger. Damis supposedly knew and travelled with Apollonius. If that's true, he knew far more of Apollonius than Paul did of Jesus.

    It was a time when religion was inclusive, and different cults influenced one another. That was to change of course due to the relentlessly intolerant and exclusive religion Christianity became, but for a time we know that some inhabitants of the Roman Empire kept little statuettes of Jesus, Asclepius and other pagan gods together, honoring or at least seeking to placate them all. Christianity famously borrowed the birthday of Sol Invictus and Mithras (now known as December 25) and proclaimed it to be the day Jesus was born. Several gods were said to be born of a virgin. If we're to trust the angry comments of some of the Church Fathers, the Mithraic holy meal (sometimes depicted as including loaves or pieces of bread marked with crosses) preceded the Christian communion. The Fathers were reduced to claiming that demons, knowing the future, inspired the Mithraic ceremony to mock the coming sacrament.

    But my little comment was intended to counter the claim that Secular Humanism is simply Christianity "rebranded." In fact, the ethical tenets of Humanism, and those of Christianity, were borrowed from ancient pagan philosophy. I've always been baffled by those who maintain, wrongly, that Judeo-Christian values are the product of those two Abrahamic religions.
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?
    Many scholars argue (secular) Humanism is simply a "rebranding" of Christian ethics/Christianity.Paulm12

    And then there are those who argue Christianity is simply a kind of stew of pagan philosophy (particularly Stoicism), the pagan mystery cults and Judaism, with bits and pieces of the story of Apollonius of Tyana thrown in as a kind of seasoning.
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?
    I don't feel addressed by it at all.baker

    Me as well. I never understood why a Jewish religion 2000 years ago is supposed to speak to me.Jackson

    Christianity has shown an extraordinary capacity to assimilate, defer to, and "work around" prevalent beliefs, customs, governments and cultures in those instances when it isn't possible to ignore them, or temporarily tolerate them or destroy them utterly. It will speak to you anyway it can, if it works. Ask and ye shall receive.

    In recent times, there's been a tendency to disregard the less credible aspects of or stories about Jesus, for example. I think most Christian apologists these days would rather not address the story of the loaves and the fishies, for example, or the water into wine business. There were a good number of miracle working religious folk wandering about the Roman Empire back then (and lepers and ex-lepers), doing similar things, and my guess would be these stories are more a source of embarrassment than anything else now, or are treated as mere allegories.

    Similarly, it's been useful for Jesus to be considered the Greek Logos, or Aristotle's First Mover, from time to time; useful for the Church to do deals with such as Mussolini or Napoleon; useful for them to don native garb in Japan--it's been a very pragmatic religion.
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?
    Father, I have sinned... — Lucifer

    Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis.
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?


    I'm picturing a cute, but very sad, Christian puppy or kitten with abnormally large eyes, too.
  • Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?

    Well, a religion which one can profess and yet disregard so blithely, as most Christians do, is bound to be popular.
  • Gateway-philosophies to Christianity
    It's as well for ↪Dermot Griffin that Islam preserved the classical texts Christianity destroyed so that they could become "gateway philosophies". Doubtless that was God's plan all along, to plunge us into the good, cleansing middle ages, and then bring us out of that darkness.Banno

    Yes, but perhaps the Eastern Church, like the Eastern Roman Empire, kept some of them too for a time. I'm not sure. But the Latin Church never like those guys anyhow, and probably was happier to deal with Islam than heretical Christians.
  • Gateway-philosophies to Christianity
    Christianity actively demolished the philosophical schools of Athens and Alexandria, destroyed philosophical texts and persecuted teachers of philosophy. The detrimental impact of the Christin hegemony on intellectual life was not reversed for a thousand years. The classical texts were so utterly destroyed in Europe that they had to be "rediscovered" in the east, mostly from Islamic sources.Banno

    Yes, though the schools weren't formally closed by edict until Justinian. But things became especially bad for pagans--and of course Christians deemed to be heretics--starting with the reign of the first Theodosius.

    I think that the Latin western part of the Empire and the Roman successor states there, and the medieval kingdoms of Western Europe, were especially "cleansed" of pagan knowledge and culture. I attribute that in large part to Augustine, who, after some waffling, condemned the pagan philosophers though they couldn't have known of Christ, and of course popularized the notion of original sin.
  • Gateway-philosophies to Christianity
    What’s interesting about Christianity is that it adopts whatever culture it mixes with, not destroying what is good.Dermot Griffin

    Just ask any of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. But perhaps there was nothing good there before the Christians arrived.