Organ matters - Organs matter!

Organs can modify the way we perceive => Agnostics' line => Topic started by: MusingMuso on March 11, 2012, 10:19:33 PM

Title: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 11, 2012, 10:19:33 PM
As this is a new category, I thought it best to quote the words of a very remarkable writer, poet and politician. Although actually talking about the business of politics in a fair, open and free democracy, the late President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Harvel, seems to have used words which could so equally apply to agnosticism. Below are a few comments lifted from a speech he gave in Budapest, on June 24th, 1999.



-------------------------------------------------------------------


....how can we recognize the moment when a set of living ideas degenerates into an ideology?


How can we recognize when principles, opinions and hopes begin to petrify into a rigid mass of dogma, precepts and conceptual stereotypes?
Where should we look for guidance? How can we discern the dividing lines?

There are no exact directions. There are probably no directions at all. The only things that I am able to recommend at this moment are: a sense of humour; an ability to see the ridiculous and the absurd dimensions of things; an ability to laugh about others as well as about ourselves; a sense of irony; and, of everything that invites parody in this world. In other words: rising above things, or looking at them from a distance; sensibility to the hidden presence of all the more dangerous types of conceit in others, as well as in ourselves; good cheer; an unostentatious certainty of the meaning of things; gratitude for the gift of life and courage to assume responsibility for it; and, a vigilant mind.

Those who have not lost the ability to recognize that which is laughable in themselves, or their own nothingness, are not arrogant, nor are they enemies of an Open Society.

Its enemy is a person with a fiercely serious countenance and burning eyes.


Vaclav Havel

======================


What marvellous and acute perception the late president posessed.

I wonder if agnosticism, rather than being neither one thing nor the other, isn't a creative process, which embraces belief, faith, science and progressive thinking?

It is a way of thinking which enables the Christian ethic to be inclusive rather than exclusive, but at the same time, very aware of the things the late President of the Czech Republic warned us of.

I think I like the idea of a thinking man's Jesus.
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 13, 2012, 02:48:17 PM
I wonder if agnosticism, rather than being neither one thing nor the other, isn't a creative process, which embraces belief, faith, science and progressive thinking?

It is a way of thinking which enables the Christian ethic to be inclusive rather than exclusive, . . .

Upon only a quick perusal of your post one realises great depth to that to which you are drawing our attention . . . and perhaps rather deeper than be absorbed on a quick read.

However, although one might view agnosticism as a way of thinking and one which is beneficial in being inclusively Christian, perhaps it might be wide of the mark in missing the beauty of Christianity not merely as a way of thinking but as a way of life. If Christ's two commandments to love thy "all that is" and to "love thy neighbour as thyself" are taken as Christianity with nothing more and nothing less, then such a way of life is so much more than merely a way of thinking.

A way of thinking can lead perhaps merely to passivism whilst a way of life requires one to go out of one's way, and to cross that road to the aid of the ailing traveller, there being a beauty in being in the active rather than merely the passive as the bystander, the spectator, merely watching as real life passes you by.

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 13, 2012, 07:46:53 PM
I wonder if agnosticism, rather than being neither one thing nor the other, isn't a creative process, which embraces belief, faith, science and progressive thinking?

It is a way of thinking which enables the Christian ethic to be inclusive rather than exclusive, . . .

Upon only a quick perusal of your post one realises great depth to that to which you are drawing our attention . . . and perhaps rather deeper than be absorbed on a quick read.

However, although one might view agnosticism as a way of thinking and one which is beneficial in being inclusively Christian, perhaps it might be wide of the mark in missing the beauty of Christianity not merely as a way of thinking but as a way of life. If Christ's two commandments to love thy "all that is" and to "love thy neighbour as thyself" are taken as Christianity with nothing more and nothing less, then such a way of life is so much more than merely a way of thinking.  
A way of thinking can lead perhaps merely to passivism whilst a way of life requires one to go out of one's way, and to cross that road to the aid of the ailing traveller, there being a beauty in being in the active rather than merely the passive as the bystander, the spectator, merely watching as real life passes you by.
Best wishes

David P


============================


What a refreshing answer David!

You are absolutely right, and if you and I were to meet, you would soon realise that one of my great heroes is Dietrich Beonhoffer.  He didn't write his theological work, "The cost of discpleship" for nothing, and his faith  ultimately led to his execution by the Nazis.

I think I used the words of Vaclac Havel to describe the difference between that which is sterile and dogmatic, and that which is vibrant and inspirational; at the same time accepting scientific progress as part of the wider kingdom, the growth of understanding and, most importantly, the faith to recognise  the perpetual ascendency of God from one generation to another.....truly a living, loving and dynamic church rather than merely a dogmatic, traditional, historic or ritualistic one.


MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 15, 2012, 02:45:28 AM
Dear MM

Elsewhere you commented that a secret of christianity was also humility. This too is such an important factor in being the person encharged by Christ's laws to cross that road to help the ailing traveller and in following those laws as an active decision and motivation rather than mere passive observation in the nature of a Levite (from recollection), such humility is a hard emotion to grasp in that determination to the laws.

Elsewhere on many threads in the Atheists' and Believers' Corners I have hinted at Christ's laws being a consequence of, indeed as transfusion into the animate or human realm, the natural laws of nature.

One of my sons is currently going through a painful process of pre-U(niversity) physics revision. I have been trying to explain to him the importance of fault-tolerant or indeed fail-safe thinking processes so on a car journey recently started to explore ways of understanding the left hand and right hand rules in electromagnetism and their relationship, one expressing movement of charge and the other movement resulting from moving charge. It's a long time since having grappled with the details of all this area so I asked him which hand rule applied to gyroscopic behaviour . . .  and suggested that as we don't really know what magnetism is, the two were likely to be linked by some fundamental aspect of process.

Investigating this this evening, obviously I was not the first to think of it and stumbled upon http://www.spacetimehelix.com/ which I recommend people to copy and save on their computer. From first sight and analysis it makes a lot of sense. It appeals to me on account of a simplicity and a process of logic as insightful as Plato's table of opposites, fundamental to thought as the difference between left and right. It is the stuff of this simplicity that insights into how our universe happens/is made provide revelation.

It means also that some of the devices hinted at in http://free-energy-info.co.uk/PJKBook.html should very well work.

Elsewhere I think you have commented upon the line of starting with belief and ending up with wonder in the construction of nature, and the reverse process are both equivalent.

The National Ignition Facility referred to by Clopton has been completed late and the experiments leading to the final energy they hope to reach are scheduled for October 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Ignition_Facility

It appears that we may only have seven months to stop being agnostics in our physics and understand Christianity, let alone the second law, but most importantly in the first, loving the "all that is" and stop trying to rip it apart in our thirst for greed of energy by force.

Why put a bomb next to the wall of the bank to raid the money when all you have to do is to walk in and ask the kindly bank manager for a loan?

Best wishes,

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: AnOrganCornucopia on March 15, 2012, 11:36:51 AM
Why put a bomb next to the wall of the bank to raid the money when all you have to do is to walk in and ask the kindly bank manager for a loan?

Because (a) you're highly unlikely to get one and (b) if you do you'll be charged a colossal amount in interest...
Title: Apologies
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 17, 2012, 07:14:35 PM
Hi!

Since writing above, there have been very few posts. I apologise if the above offends sensibilities and therefore, if that be the reason, will not post on such matters again.

However, whether I express it openly or not, in a world where education is increasingly subjectised, compartmentalised and reduced to tick-box processes, I hold a fundamental conviction that joined up thinking is necessary, should be encouraged, and can lead to greater happiness now and in the future.

Our view of subatomic particles and their energy is little more shifted beyond that of the Rutherford model of the atom and our approach to the world's energy needs has not advanced accordingly. It is a very strange reason why matter is energy but is prevented by its own forces from escaping as energy at the speed of light. This is unexplained in conventional physics.

As we stand on the sidelines, observing merely as the agnostic, chaos reigns, with infinite demand and greed for oil fuelling wars and technology that poisons the atmosphere.

In contrast, Christ's two laws, that we love one another and that we love the "all that is" which is responsible for that matter not flying off into uncontrolled chaotic energy, demand that we seek a better world, in our relationships with each other and with the technology that we inflict upon ourselves and everything else.

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 17, 2012, 07:41:05 PM
Dear David,


Please don't think that I, or for that matter anyone else, has been offended by your earlier post.

I've been in Croydon for a few days, which explains my lack of rapid response. Actually, I was quite interested by your post, and when your subsequent post appeared, I had just sat down to consider my reply.

Theology and philosophy are always interesting; especially when they refer to scientific matters.

I shall respond a.s.a.p.

Best,

MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: KB7DQH on March 18, 2012, 01:04:41 PM
Quote
Please don't think that I, or for that matter anyone else, has been offended by your earlier post.

Ditto...  But what has occurred is somewhat of a "thought chain reaction" and thus has taken time to sort what has shaken out and, perhaps, organize what has left into something resembling "intelligence" ???    It has taken me years, decades perhaps... to fully understand the wisdom in
"being silent and thought a fool than opening one's mouth and removing all doubt" :o

Quote
I hold a fundamental conviction that joined up thinking is necessary, should be encouraged, and can lead to greater happiness now and in the future.

Again, no argument from me here ;)   This does relate directly to some earlier private correspondence with David regarding this forum, certain parts of which have been found by some to "distract" :o ::)   however a key issue missed by every other forum similar is in the "joining up"
of what is discussed "here" with "everything else"...  An examination, if you will, of how the "micro" unites with the "macro" ;D   bringing us... to...

Quote
Theology and philosophy are always interesting; especially when they refer to scientific matters.

 Science cannot exist without "creative minds" nor can it advance.  Therefore theology and philosophy are extremely important to the advancement of science...

With that added to the previous thoughts, one could make the argument that Economics should be considered as part of this "mix" as with our physical world, the "micro" and "macro" economic worlds do not in practice behave similarly, no matter how much our "statesmen" (and some economists)  would like to think otherwise :o 

Eric
KB7DQH
Title: Re: Apologies
Post by: MusingMuso on March 18, 2012, 03:51:39 PM
Hi!

Since writing above, there have been very few posts. I apologise if the above offends sensibilities and therefore, if that be the reason, will not post on such matters again.

However, whether I express it openly or not, in a world where education is increasingly subjectised, compartmentalised and reduced to tick-box processes, I hold a fundamental conviction that joined up thinking is necessary, should be encouraged, and can lead to greater happiness now and in the future.

Our view of subatomic particles and their energy is little more shifted beyond that of the Rutherford model of the atom and our approach to the world's energy needs has not advanced accordingly. It is a very strange reason why matter is energy but is prevented by its own forces from escaping as energy at the speed of light. This is unexplained in conventional physics.

As we stand on the sidelines, observing merely as the agnostic, chaos reigns, with infinite demand and greed for oil fuelling wars and technology that poisons the atmosphere.

In contrast, Christ's two laws, that we love one another and that we love the "all that is" which is responsible for that matter not flying off into uncontrolled chaotic energy, demand that we seek a better world, in our relationships with each other and with the technology that we inflict upon ourselves and everything else.

Best wishes

David P

=======================

I’m not sure how I can begin to respond to this post, and I’ll tell you why.

If someone presents me with most things electrical or magnetic, my eyes glaze over. I have absolutely no idea what magnetism is, but I’ve used it often enough. Whilst I have every faith in revolving magnets and wound coils as a means of either producing electricity or using it to vacuum the carpet, I do not need to believe in magnetism: even less understand it.

As for mention of the right and left handedness of things, it reminded me of the struggle I had trying to understand epicyclic  gearboxes. 
( Remember the song: “Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel; never ending nor beginning; like an ever spinning wheel.....the circles of the mind).

When it comes to nuclear physics, I know absolutely nothing beyond the fact that nuclear fusion is the holy grail of energy production, and one which remains highly experimental. Therefore, your response was a non-starter for me, for it seems to have implied that there must be a path to knowledge which could possibly lead us to an understanding of all things as they relate to some common “natural law.”
 
There is an old saying that belief divides and doubt unites, and I think this, for me, is the appeal of agnosticism.

The agnostic stance is no different to the believer who hints at “greater things,” or “the mysteries of God’s creation,” except that an awful lot of time is saved by not being obliged to contemplate them in the first instance. From my point of view, I can marvel at the vastness of the universe for evermore, and find absolutely no answers to almost anything. I could invert the process and look at ever smaller things in a microscope, and be every bit as stunned by what I discover, but again, to what end?

This is no excuse for laziness or ignorance of course, but it does help to understand the fact that no matter how long we live, we will never really know very much at all individually. The most important fact of agnosticism is the realisation of this, which is really nothing more than intellectual humility, coupled to a certain understanding that there will always be others who know more about almost anything. Hence the importance of passing on all that we know to the next generation, or to quote the words of the playwright Alan Bennett, “Pass it on boys! Pass it on!  That’s what I want you to learn: not for me, not for you, but for someone.” (“The history boys”).

Now compare this to the “certainties” of believers, many of whom may not even be Christian, and we find a bewildering array of claims and counter-claims; some of which are contained in “holy books” (whatever a holy book might be), and others which have merely evolved as part of religious process, pseudo-science and the vanity of human imaginings. Even the activist atheist ferverently believes that God doesn’t exist, which is a very odd way of believing. Is it possible to believe in nothing at all and then preach about it?
 
At this point, permit me to indulge myself, because I was once browsing through a curious book of spells written by a Jamaican follower of witchcraft. My eyes lit up when I read the spell concerned with, “How to cast a spell on difficult adolescents.”

I found myself laughing, because the spell was really a bit of reverse psychology, where the believer in the occult was required to be understanding and tolerant; safe in the knowledge that even the most difficult adolescents eventually grow up. It was one of the most brilliant pieces of social psychology I’ve ever read, and as a spell, absolutely infallible; the wit and good humour almost a benevolent and long-suffering sigh from the heart.

My problem with most religions and belief systems is the way in which belief is often an obstacle to faith. I can’t ever recall actually reciting any of the Christian creeds; simply because I regard them as faintly ridiculous and have done since the age of eleven. On the other hand, I have always had considerable faith in almost everything which Jesus of Nazareth said and did. My now deceased aunt, who suffered terribly in many ways, was a widow at 30, struggled to bring up a child as a single mother, re-married and lost a lovely man to cancer, then re-married a second-time only to have to look after someone left physically and mentally handicapped in a serious motor accident a year after the wedding. In spite of that, she could still smile, giggle and love everyone around her, simply because, (to quote her words), “Jesus is my hero.”

There were many things she didn’t understand, had difficulty contemplating or even believing, but I have never known a woman of greater faith or one who gave such unconditional love to everyone, while suffering great hardship personally.

I would suggest that the biggest obstacle to faith are those of a religious disposition, who expect that truth can never be re-written or re-interpreted, when in fact, theology constantly changes in step with evolving human perceptions and understanding. The moment it didn’t would probably mark the death of that which we perceive as God; at least as something worthy of investigation.

MM


PS: I’ve never known a kindly bank-manager, and borrowing money is not the same as raising money. The bomb approach has its advocates, needless to say.

PPS: If you were in danger of being attacked by a shark, would your first choice of good Samaritan be someone offering a hand or a school of dolphin?

Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 19, 2012, 01:10:26 AM
Dear MM

Thanks once again for plenty to contemplate.

There are many who say that ritual is an obstacle to true belief in that it can substitute for it, in the same way as merely a book of rules, merely blindly followed. I'm sure that many interested enough to be following discussion in an Agnostic thread will be very sympathetic to that path: we've seen the hazards that those rules and rituals put in the path of using intelligence (a process of thought upon the idea, the spirit) to achieve something more that can be achieved than merely the following of rules and rituals. . . . "By their actions shall ye know them" - and it is by the beauty and worth of such actions that I encourage all to seek more than is available through merely saying "I don't know".

However, one of the tragedies of modern education through tick-box exam papers, and flowing over into our philosphy of science (which is really the study of where we come from, even at a sub-atomic level) is that we don't have the humility to know when to say "I don't know".

Considering asymmetry rules of nature, and magnetics and gyroscopes might be mind-bending and whilst you might comment that you're not familiar with what magnetism is, although you use it every day, in fact no-one really knows what magnetism really is. Whilst its interaction with electric fields is described by Maxwell's equations, really no-one can say what magnetism is, nor really what electric charge is.

It's for that reason that on a philosophical level I like the approach taken by the Clopton model referred to above and why time and attention should be given to it. If it is right, then the physicists at the heart of putting a bomb at the wall of energy might just halt to ask themselves if they really know what they are doing, as if they don't the wrong result could be terminal, and consider whether the Clopton model provides the means by which low energy experiments are better with which to test the theory. My reference to the bank-keeper, of course, was a reference to the equivalent of saying to God (the all that is, the strange force that brings Order out of increasing Disorder) the magic word _please_ in asking for a loan of energy from the system rather than putting a nuclear bomb outside the wall and saying "Give it to us or else".

Phycists are currently playing God, seeking the All Powerful, and are like the Sorceror's Apprentice in potentially being unable to stop the multiplication of the brooms sweeping the floor. Our modern arrogant society that thinks it knows it all, and those who refuse to stop them by mistakenly saying "We're Agnostic, we don't know, we know nothing", will find that the Forces of All Power come around and slaps it in the face. Indeed we might so anger the All Powerful, that it decides to have its own back and destroy us all. The National Ignition Facility is trying to discover the ultimate power in the whole universe. The point is that when they discover, they and we might not be here to have regretted doing so. It's for this reason that Cloptons observations on Helical Space-Time deserve further attention and deeper investigation.

Time, perhaps, not to be agnostic.

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 19, 2012, 12:34:41 PM
Dear David,

I couldn't possibly take on board your scientific approach, which means that in this particular area, I am nothing if not stupid.

What I do know is that there are equally enormous threats posed by excessive procreation and consumption, as well as the destruction of the natural environment.

As a teenager back in the 1960's, I recall a conversation with Prof.Sir Fred Hoyle, when a few of us gathered at his feet (metophirically), to listen to his words of wisdom.

In many ways, Fred was the imaginative cosmologist, who constantly sought new ways of joined-up thinking; becoming something of a Maverik in his own lifetime and rather despised by those at Cambridge University. (They nevertheless erected a statue after his death).

Fred said something rather interesting at the time, which had never occured to any of us, or to anyone we had ever heard of. I'll try and recall his words:-

"Our planet is self-regulating, and if there are growing imbalances in nature, it (presumably meaning the eco-system) will respond accordingly, because it is only the correct balance of things which can sustain life."

This may seem like a simple statement, but it is actually a terrifying propsect, because if it is true, then life could be wiped out by the very planet which gave birth to it. Thus far, the evidence suggest that the statement is true.

So in a way, I can go along with the concept of upsetting natural balances and natural laws, but I hesitate to use the all embracing terminology of God or Creator, as a supra-being responsible for it all. Indeed, so remote, cold and empty is the universe, it is difficult to imagine why anyone should want to create it in the first place. I mean, it's not the sort of place where you would want to take an extended touring hoiliday is it?

The City of York is far more interesting!

If scientists in their arrogance, think that they can discover the ultimate power of the universe, let them get on with it. However, if they don't understand magnetism and electrical fields, I am not optimistic. Even if it all goes well, and we survive, it is really only a matter of time before the sun exapnds to become a red giant, by which time life on earth will have long vanished. That's the sheer indifference and brutality of the universe. It's just the way it is; perhaps devoid of design and devoid of conscience.

Fred Hoyle didn't believe in God, but he wasn't an aggressive atheist or anything, and when I asked him God existed when I was all of five or six  years of age, he merely said that he couldn't believe in God because he couldn't observe him through a telescope.

Clearly sensing my profound disappointment, he then added, "There is something I believe in. I believe in Dan Dare and the Mekon."

What a meeting of minds THAT was.

MM











Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 20, 2012, 12:39:10 AM
Dear MM

Quote
embracing terminology of God or Creator, as a supra-being responsible for it all

Perhaps that's the point I'm getting around and behind: the problem with much theology that we are fed in churches is this concept of a "supra-being". There may be much more common ground between people if that idea can be recognised as the metaphor that it is, being an illusion resulting from the very construction of the universe.

The universe appears to be intelligent, so giving the illusion of a being - and the illusion is why we can't see the being through the telescope. But it's somewhat deeper than that as that is not reason to deny the very peculiar and perverse laws that entrap energy within its own field to make matter, and to bring that matter together in ways of structure from which everything we read in Genesis 1 results, that strange force that brings Order into existence out of the natural circumstances of increasing disorder, entropy.

Not even an Agnostic can deny that ( :-) I'm expecting you to . . . ) and as a result there being a more fundamental God in those phenonomae of the universe than the personified God that people like to worship, or reject, possibly agnostics and atheists might have to attach a proviso to the extent of their disbelief and with which I totally agree . .

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 20, 2012, 09:23:46 AM
Dear David,

I think we have actually reached a point of concorde. It is the "supra-being" which is my problem, rather than the omnipotent power of creation which brings, however briefly in the life of a universe, order out of chaos. I just prefer not to call that God, because that would be a pretention too far. I do not know the answer, and I do not expect to ever know the answer, but whatever the creative process, it is mighty impressive.

This demonstrates that even those of a doubting, agnostic disposition are quite capable of dropping to their knees in awe.

Like you, I have a problem with churches presenting this as the work of a kindly, bearded gentleman sitting on a throne, hovering somewhere above America's 'Bible belt.' I have an even bigger problem with those who cannot live without the comfortable certainties of self-deception.

Best,

MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 21, 2012, 12:09:11 PM
than the omnipotent power of creation which brings, however briefly in the life of a universe, order out of chaos. I just prefer not to call that God,

Dear MM

Perhaps I might suggest to you that you might . . . for the reason that that is what is described in Genesis 1 and perhaps that is the fundamental to which christianity and other religions might re-perspectivise. The problem is that the "father analogy" is taken literally* rather than the good metaphor or analogy that it can be, provided it is remembered as being merely that.

It's really akin to whether one has a seize pieds or a huit pieds organ and the ability to pick out registration in the harmonics of the fundamental pitch. Much of the argument between religions is caused akin to pulling out the grand tierce without having the fundamentals lower than the Principal 8. People who argue about the alleged superiority of any brand of religion have probably forgotten where their fundamental is and have probably misunderstood the stop name of the 8ft they have chosen, forgetting the existence of the more profound pitches and the stops to the harmonic series to which they belong.

It is perhaps also for reasons such as this that personally I find the organ an important enough analogy to many things for it to be worthy of being championed more than it has been in recent decades.

Best wishes

David P


* Probably searching the forum for McDonalds might pull up a post of mine discussing the undue focus of literal interpretation in the modern age.
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: revtonynewnham on March 21, 2012, 06:58:56 PM
Hi

The concept of "the Fatherhood of God" is fine as far as it goes, but it's not the complete story.  After all, both male & female were, according to Genesis, created in God's image, and elsewhere in the Bible there are references to what has been called "the mother love of God".

The real problem is trying to understand God in human terms - we just can't do it!  However we approach the issue, we can only come up with an incomplete picture (perhaps to stretch a quote out of context, we "see through a glass darkly").

Also, too many churches and Christians (and no doubt adherants to other faiths) fail to take on board what the whole of the scripture says about the Deity.

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 22, 2012, 07:55:12 AM
Hi Tony,

I think that I now come up against and even greater problem than that concerned with the nature of God, which is belief in the Bible and a Bible-bound church which appears frozen in time and incapable of moving on.

There are so many holes in the Bible, it is now looking more like a sponge than a Swiss cheese, and as time goes on, more and more of it will be revealed as bad science, poor sociology, dubious history and vain-glorious supposition.

Now please don't misunderstand me, because there is so much to love and cherish in the Bible, but are we not expecting too much of this increasingly discredited "holy" book?  After all, none of the disciples ever read it, and neither did the early church. In reality, it was cobbled together and  derives from many disparate sources.

 MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: revtonynewnham on March 22, 2012, 10:26:33 AM
Hi

I really disagree with your rather cynical assessment of the Bible!  It contains far more than you seem to think - and, like it or not, it's regarded by the church as "The Word of God" (at least in its original forms and language).

The real problem with the church is the traditions that have been added to the Bible over the centuries - and all too often, an unwillingness to see what the Bible really says about a subject, rather than the church's interpretation from past centuries.

The church cannot afford to stand still in an ever-changing society - which doesn't mean always throwing out the old (as some seem to think).

No time to write more at present - Holy Week and Easter are loooming - and I need to get two service orders finalised before I go out at 12:00!

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 22, 2012, 04:12:23 PM
Oh dear, I detect a flame rather than a smouldering of disagreement here and am guilty of having a hand in causing it. The organ is so much more than merely an instrument of noise, so much an instrument of concorde and harmonic understanding that it is right to explore ways in a forum where such principles can extend quite properly to more than music.

Sorry for having been the cause of disharmony, as that is not the intention nor purpose. Perhaps we can find harmonics to our meanings which might show how they can coexist.

In principle its nice to try to find understanding for another's point of view even if it's only to understand why they differ even if they cannot agree. The world would be a very boring and dangerously stulsifying place were everyone always to agree.

I suspect that many people are atheist, agnostic, doubting believers or otherwise on the fringes of belief for the reason that it might be a common perception that the Good Book, which is after all a collection of texts approved by the pagan King Constantine in the 4th century AD for the vision that it could keep the vestiges of the Roman Empire flourishing contains both a lot that Christ said as well as a lot about what other people said about what Christ said.

The differences may be capable of explanation. Perhaps they may be capable of review in terms of looking at what is fundamentally the All That Is, and the way in which personification of that in some circumstances can lead to metaphors, descriptions, allegories that help us to understand the All That Is and understand it better. Where the differences occur one has to look at them through the lens of both the First Commandment as well as "Does this help me to love my neighbour as myself" . . . and if the answer is "no" then one has to find another way in order for the answer to be "yes".

It appears to me that the biggest source of disagreements are the personification and anthropomorphisation of the word God. The problem is that "God" is to us a name, not merely as it should be a concept or a descriptor: the ancient taboos against giving the All That Is a name are entirely justified and are certainly not limited to the Judaistic tradition. This is one of the reasons why in the above and elsewhere, I try to use the description The All That Is rather than the Name which is God.

It is the focus on any sort of icon which, for the reason for the prohibition upon the worship of statues, can be mistaken for The Thing rather than merely being a representation of the thing it is intended to represent.

Perhaps many feel that the focus of some quarters of Christianity and even other religions upon the person, the person that represents god, actually can be to the extent to which god being represented is forgotton and the person being mistaken for the god. This is of course a very old argument in Christian history.

In a church of St Benoit in France on the wall . . .

Il est deja venu en prenant la
condition des hommes pour
accomplir l'eternal dessein
de ton amour et nous ouvrir
le chemin du salut: il viendra
de nouveau revetu de gloire
afin  que nous possedions
dans la pleine lumiere
les biens que tu nous a promis
et que nous attendons en
veillant dans la foi.
Saint Saint Saint le Seigneur
Dieu de l'universe le ciel et la
terre son remplis de ta gloire
Hosanna au plus haut de cieux
beni soit celui qui vient au nom
de Seigneur Hosanna au plus
haut des cieux!

This is, of course, a prayer which we all recognise but translated from this language with the simplicity of translation, perhaps of ciel into sky rather than that familiar word of which the meaning is unclear, certain beauties and nuances appear which tell us that language is an incomplete medium through which to convey, let alone understand, the spirit of God. What do we mean by spirit? Is it not simply the conveyance of The Idea of god? What do we mean by god? That which brings order out of chaos?

My wife often tells me that most arguments lie upon merely a miscommunication or misunderstanding of definition. When people start talking about things without defining what they are in the first place, differences of understanding will lead to lines of discussion going haywire. That is why I like Genesis 1 because it defines god, not particularly as a person but as that invisible strange means by which order appear(s)/ed out of chaos.

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: revtonynewnham on March 22, 2012, 05:59:26 PM
Hi

I doubt that MM & I will come to blows over this - we just see things differently - and polite discussion never did anyone any harm!  (Except those who aren't prepared to listen). 

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 23, 2012, 10:29:00 AM
Dear Tony

Even if only as Devil's Advocate, I believe that MM's view, especially that Christ's disciples did not read the books with which we are presented, nor wrote them either, is an expression of popular and widespread view of Christianity as it is presentedly seen, especially to the point of anthropomorphisation of Christ as God expressed in Graham Kendrickism and with which many people take issue and turn their backs on the Church. . . and in my view, without the deeper thought that may lead to the understanding of any benefits, quite rationally.

One of the purposes of exploring issues of faith on this, an organ forum, is that as noted at the Zurich Resolution conference last year, organs and churches are symbiotically linked.

For that reason, if we are to demonstrate to the wider population the wonders of the organ and its music we have also to demonstrate the wonders of their context. For this reason the Church would do well to find focii in the common denominators of Christianity, and indeed other religions, perhaps starting from ideas akin to the text above which MM highlighted in red, and from there, differences can be celebrated and shared as providing mental tools to find other perspectives to hone understanding of God and the faith in life that all with faith understand.

Just as the Devil's Advocate hones our view of the truth and has function and purpose in debate, in the same way that priests were taught that the Devil entered the church down the bell ropes and up the organ pipes, the Devil has a purpose in upsetting established norms, entrenched views and people with philosophy that is often just all too self satisfied and comforted in their own righteousness. It is in this way that an Organ Forum has something to say to the Church and the priesthood who often sit back merely bemoaning and not even wondering why people are turning their backs on churches, let alone merely the organs within them.

This response is a generality and not at all in any way pointing at any one person or view.

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 23, 2012, 03:07:30 PM
I haven't time to respond immediately, but just a sub-note about the early church "not reading books."

I think it would be a mistake to think that people were not aware of religious tradition, even if the written word was much less important than the spoken word and the middle-eastern tradition of passing-on things verbally. (Why else would so many biblical stories be so imagninative and colourful?)

The disciples and early faithful would have been VERY well versed in all aspects of religion and tradition as a consequence.

So I cannot go along with the idea of an ignorant early church. I was merely drawing attention to the fact that the complete Bible was not at the heart of the early church, but much of the old testament would have been for those of Jewish origin.

More later,

Best,

MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: revtonynewnham on March 23, 2012, 07:02:51 PM
Hi

Where on earth does the idea that the early disciples didn't read books come from?  In the main, Hebrew boys were taught to read - Jesus certainly was, as He read the scripture in synagogue.  Paul was very highly educated - and a fair bit of the New Testament is his writings.  Luke's Greek is said to be first class (and again, he was educated as a doctor - and according to the opening verses of his 2-volume work, he researched the subject thoroughly). As to the 12, we don't know a great deal about their backgrounds, but obviously Matthew must have been literate - he was a tax collector!  I would maintain that Peter & James probably were as well - they were, in effect, businessmen, even if the business was fishing!

Obviously, the New Testament wasn't available to the very early church - even the most conservative dates don't have it completed before around 90AD - but writings of the early church fathers in the first century would seem to indicate that much of the canon of the New Testament was acknowledged by perhaps 150AD (I'd have to hunt through my books to find the exact date & citation - and I just don't have time at present).  Agreed, the NT was formalised by Constantine and his cronies, but like so many church decisions down the centuries, they were probably only formalising what was already widely accepted.

Enough for now - must get on.  It's been a tiring day!

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 23, 2012, 09:22:16 PM
Dear Tony

I was merely making observation upon MM's logical assertion that Jesus' disciples did not read the books about Jesus that we are given today . . .

Quote
After all, none of the disciples ever read it, and neither did the early church.

:-)

This is, after all, an exploration into how an agnostic thinks . . .

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: revtonynewnham on March 24, 2012, 09:47:30 AM
Sorry David - I must learn to read more carefully!

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 24, 2012, 12:01:45 PM
Oh dear! We're in danger of getting bogged down in detail here.

However, I don't think Tony and myself will get to blows or exchange letter bombs. We are perhaps approaching the same things from a different perspective As for being cynical in my view of the Bible, I hope not. I was trying to be realistic, because quite a lot of the bible is incomprehensible to all but biblical scholars to-day, (of which I am not), simply because western culture has shifted dramatically away from the middle-eastern culture which spawned the Jewish and Christian faiths. (Indeed, the Greeks were a special problem even to St Paul, so it is not a uniquely modern problem).

I'm not an expert, but my simple understanding is that knowledge was disseminated more by word of mouth than by written documents. It isn't a question of literacy so much as practicality, because books and scripts were hand-written, and the most important books and scriptures would have been both valuable and rare. Has anyone seen the size of hand-written Jewish scriptures in the synagogues or considered the sheer bulk of hand-written, illuminated Bibles?

It is possibly for this reason that dissent and regional variations started to occcur very quickly in the early days of the early church, because the process of "passing things on verbally" is fraught with difficulty. Ask the same question of a dozen eye-witnesses at a criminal trial, and you get twelve different versions of the truth. Hearsay, for good reason, is not allowed, unless you are conducting "witch trials" or work for Mr Murdoch.

As David points out, the bible was probably an attempt at religious/political unification; not unliike Charlamagne requiring people to be baptised or else!  (The catholics in Spain did something similar with the Moors, and the Islamic Turks did the same thing to Christianity in Hungary). It's what great institutions and movements do, and in political terms, called "marching in step."

As for scripture itself, there is no doubt but that Genesis is impressive; I quite agree with David on this. It is either stupendously lucky guesswork, or an inspired piece of writing. Quite how they got the order of things so right, when they knew nothing of the principal sciences associated with the formation of the planet and life on earth, I cannot even imagine.

One of the great turning points in human history, the rennaissance, was probably as much to do with the printing-press as it was to do with enlightenment.,,,,the accurate and relatively quick replication of perceived knowledge and wisdom.....the start of intellectual "schools of thought" and accesible libraries  The computer is, of course, the next great revolution.

(There is a wonderful bit of medieval satire in the carol "Adam lay y bounden," where reference is made to the rows and rows of monks hand-writing illuminated scripts, with the words, "As clerkes fynden, written in their books.")

However, an awful lot of the old testament is concerned with lineage, tribal history. morality tales, custom, law and things specifically Jewish. This was put in to establish the true Jewish lineage of Jesus as being of the house of David, and thus a direct descendent of the royal house of David. Part of that Jewish heritage would have to adhere to the old prophecies, if Jesus was to be considered a deity. Hence the virgin birth myth, (for which there is little evidence), which plays a prominent part in Luke's gospel; Luke being specifically and very respectably Jewish.

If I recall correctly, the first and most reliable gospel is that written by Mark, which says very little about an awful lot, and which is possibly the most reliable as a consequence.

But does any of this mean anything to-day?

Believe it or not, I do actually believe something. I believe that the truths rather than the colourful story-telling are important enough to be treasured, but what I cannot and do not necessarily believe are the allegorical, mythological and theological accounts, which by their very nature, are inseperable from a particular set of tribal cultures in a particular region of the world at a particular time.

Could it be that the bible actually clouds the issues and obscures the truth behind the myths,legends and prophecies?

I could ramble on forever, but rather than do that, perhaps I could break off at this point, and instead make what may appear to be an outrageous set of propositions.

Is it possible that the "Christian way" is relevant to all religions and none?

Is it possible to be a Christian humanist, a Christian agnostic and, dare I suggest, a Christian Atheist, Buddhist or Hindu?

Discuss!

MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 24, 2012, 02:00:19 PM
Genesis is impressive; . . .  Quite how they got the order of things so right, when they knew nothing of the principal sciences associated with
the formation of the planet and life on earth, I cannot even imagine.

. . . adhere to the old prophecies, if Jesus was to be considered a deity. Hence the virgin birth myth, (for which there is little evidence), which plays a prominent part in Luke's gospel; Luke being specifically and very respectably Jewish.

Is it possible that the "Christian way" is relevant to all religions and none?
Is it possible to be a Christian humanist, a Christian agnostic and, dare I suggest, a Christian Atheist, Buddhist or Hindu?

Dear MM

Thanks for such a considered perspective and I hope that others will pick up on your various aspects beyond merely what I quote above to which perhaps additional observations might assist:

Genesis: the order right . . . This implies a common perception that the Bible is intended as a materially accurate document, with the weight of concrete. It focusses on the matter and what happened to it. This is the perspective of the materialist world, but an alternate perspective is possible by looking instead, or as well as, the circumstances of the matter, at the action, the energy of the process described.  It's a picture that is painted rather than an object factually photographed in which the action is that of the creation of order out of disorder . . . and the force that makes the action, the energy, is described as God.

The Virgin birth: again we focus on the material virgin, the animal virgin about which we are awfully concerned. But in the nature of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, what is the Spirit? Is it some phantom that wanders around . . . as for all the lack of definition that people ascribe to it, perhaps people might be forgiven for believing such . . . When we talk about the spirit of the law in the context of the letter of the law, we're referring to "the idea" encapsulated at the source of the law. So rather than being stuck in the material world with the weight of concrete, the physical matter of which the woman is made and what happened to it being her, the manner of the matter interacting with her animal ability to reproduce and bring forth progeny, we might look at it in the spiritual world.

We can presume that she was a virgin to the spirit, to The Idea, to the idea God, the idea of bringing forth order out of disorder resulting in the Son of God, the son of the idea of creating order out of disorder. Jesus, "son of the idea of creating order out of disorder" hinted as such "For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother."

So in my view I believe that one can follow the teachings of Jesus about "the bringing of order out of disorder", so be Christian, and also at the same time in that spirit (communication of idea) to follow other teachings by whatever name they appear in relation to "the bringing of order out of disorder".

Apologies for the tedium of writing out such lines of thought expanding our usual contractions into longhand.

How many other areas of the bible can make more sense lifted into the spiritual world than merely left set in concrete of the material?

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 24, 2012, 05:11:19 PM

Dear MM


......How many other areas of the bible can make more sense lifted into the spiritual world than merely left set in concrete of the material?

Best wishes

David P
[/quote]

======================


I respond very quickly, because we finally come to the heart of the subject.

What if God is but a term for spiritual creation and re-creation?

What if the virgin birth is seen as a baby born into the perfect family; unsullied by sin and selfishness?

What if the crucifixion is repeated a thousand times; the slaughter of innocent children in Syria, for example?

What if the ressurection happens time and time again, whenever the spiritual overcomes death and there is the realisation that you can't destroy an idea, a spiritual and human truth or keep a good man down?

What if the ascension is both the constant re-affirmation of Christ's godly status, as well as the elevation of Christ's spiritual body, (his church), to the role of the ascended and divine authority?

What if the spiritual world is altogther more meaningful and infintely  less problematical; to the point that it is entirely compatible with science.

What if, indeed!


MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: revtonynewnham on March 24, 2012, 06:53:16 PM
Hi

Just a quick response to some of MM's comments earlier.  These days we are, rightly, suspicious of the verbal transmission of evidence (in the widest sense) - I suppose Wikipedia is a prime example in the computer world.  However, I'm pretty sure that in Old Testament times, and probably in the early New Testament times, the oral tradition was still the main way of passing things on, and was probably more accurate than our experience today would suggest - although still prone to variations - hence the invention of writing.  I've heard it said that the Early Church were prime movers in the transition from scrolls to "books" (sorry, forgotten the technical term for early groups of pages) - simply to provide a more compact and easy to transport medium - and also one that was faster if you needed to look something up!

The earliest chapters of Genesis were presumably passed on through oral traditions until writing was invented!
What does need to be borne in mind is that the creation accounts - and indeed the rest of Genesis - was never intended as a scientific text, but rather a spiritual explanation for why things are as they are - and if, as I believe, God inspire the original author(s) (I won't get into that issue now!), then it's not surprising that what is there is basically in line with science.

My Biblical scholarship in the main dates back to the mid 1970's - although I do try and read around the subject to the extent that I have time and money (theological books are pretty expensive).  Although I see and understand, and to some extent like the arguments about the Virgin Birth, etc, I would want to emphasise that the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus are hard facts - historical events.  Without them, the whole basis of the Christian faith disappears.  Paul talks about that in one of the epistles "if Christ has not been raised from the dead, we are of all men the most miserable ... our faith is in vain".

Yes, in one sense, every believer experiences a resurrection to new life when they come to faith (however that may be - and sometimes it happens over a long period of time).

All very interesting - but it comes at the wrong time - I must go and try and track down some music that I need for next Saturday - it's gone missing somewhere - I just hope I've not left it elsewhere when I've played the organ.

Very busy for the next fortnight, with 4 extra services/events to finalise/arrange/prepare sermons for - plus another 6 events that I need to be at - all early morning (which is not good).  Looking forward though to preaching at Cowling Hill Baptist Church on Palm Sunday - and playing their historic Laycock organ - still hand blown.

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 25, 2012, 08:23:38 AM
I respond very quickly, because we finally come to the heart of the subject.

What if God is but a term for spiritual creation and re-creation?

What if the virgin birth is seen as a baby born into the perfect family; unsullied by sin and selfishness?

What if the crucifixion is repeated a thousand times; the slaughter of innocent children in Syria, for example?

What if the ressurection happens time and time again, whenever the spiritual overcomes death and there is the realisation that you can't destroy an idea, a spiritual and human truth or keep a good man down?

What if the ascension is both the constant re-affirmation of Christ's godly status, as well as the elevation of Christ's spiritual body, (his church), to the role of the ascended and divine authority?

What if the spiritual world is altogther more meaningful and infintely  less problematical; to the point that it is entirely compatible with science.

What if, indeed!


MM

Dear MM

You've taken this well further. We are told that it is a spiritual book . . . and the spirit is a parallel universe to the material . . . in the same way as the meaning of a parable in parallel with the material story told . . .

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 25, 2012, 04:49:48 PM
I would want to emphasise that the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus are hard facts - historical events.

Dear Tony

Perhaps a spiritual reading of the texts is all the more interesting and relevant because the story told is not a fiction, that it is a hard reality of history. Perhaps that is also why the Old Testament is so important as part of the equation as clearly it is a book of history. It's a book with subplots about people behaving in very human ways and yet a parallel supertext in the realm of "The Idea" and "The Communication of the idea of The Idea" and the "Son of The Idea" of bringing forth order from out of the general chaos.

I met up with an old friend last night who has been working on the gematria of Hebrew names now for over two and a half decades.

Not only perhaps is there a spiritual supertext to the book, but certain names are important, he says, as words exist in Hebrew and Greek which have relationships and correspondences in their numbers. His findings are startling and too controversial even to mention here, but suffice to say he is of firm belief that he is finding interesting correspondences.

As a matter of interest, what is the conventionally held view of the reason for a book of the Old Testament by the name of "Numbers"?

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 25, 2012, 07:59:17 PM

Although I see and understand, and to some extent like the arguments about the Virgin Birth, etc, I would want to emphasise that the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus are hard facts - historical events.  Without them, the whole basis of the Christian faith disappears.  Paul talks about that in one of the epistles "if Christ has not been raised from the dead, we are of all men the most miserable ... our faith is in vain".




=====================

If someone dies, everything that they were still exists, and if someone is born, then everything that they are already existed prior to their birth. In a way, birth and death are mutually interchangable, but fo course, the deciding factor is the presence of the genetic code and the nature of life itself.

Therefore, it would be fair to say that even IF a deity decides to take on humnan form, then that human form must eventually die. The actual machanism is largely irrelevant.

So we MUST accept that Jesus was born by whatever means, and we know how he died. That doesn't take much belief,and it can rightly be considered a statement of fact.

The burning question is the nature of ressurection, because even if it happened absolutely according to the Biblical accounts, it would have been a very brief phenomenon. (Obviously a rather unusual one, unless Jesus somehow survived the crucifixion and was merely unconcious).

Considering that Jesus didn't indulge much in magic tricks, even when people asked for a "sign," I have my doubts about the nature of the ressurection, for I have to ask myself what the purpose might have been. The far more significant truth is that a man was executed on the basis of his beliefs and perfect example, which sent all but his mum and Mary Magdalene running off like frightened chickens at a barbecue.

Surely, the REAL miracle of physical "resurrection" is the fact that the disciples and followers found a new confidence and direction, AS THE BODY OF CHRIST. ("On this rock I found my church"......"You will perform greater miracles than I") So my undertsanding of the ressurection is infinitely more powerful and meaningful than a man jumping up from the grave, which certain people apparently claim happens all the time in Jamacaian voodoo.

Of course, I'm just a fence-dwelling Christian agnostic, and until the church gets its act together and starts to believe in the very believable rather than a lot of slightly pointless miracles, I shall probably have to remain there.


MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: revtonynewnham on March 25, 2012, 08:26:57 PM
@David

I'd have to dig out my Old Testament books and look up the articles about Numbers - I can't remember - I've had no reason to visit Numbers, other than when it comes up in Lectionary readings, for many years.

Remind me after Easter and I'll see what I can find.

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: Decoding The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 25, 2012, 10:33:47 PM
Therefore, it would be fair to say that even IF a deity decides to take on humnan form, then that human form must eventually die. The actual mechanism is largely irrelevant.

:-) But one can argue that the Genesis 1 Deity is "The Force that creates order out of Disorder", and "The Idea" with it and cannot die and "The Son of The Idea", as an idea, cannot die and in the Garden of Gethsemane when the stone is rolled away, Jesus, "The Son of The Idea", asks us to arise with him, for the spirit (communication of The Idea) cannot die and for us to arise with him that cannot die.

If one sticks to the material, to the world of the concrete, one gets weighed down by the massiveness of the intractible problems. When one arises to the spiritual interpretation, all the problems evaporate away.

To do this, as the "idea" "spiritual" is encoded within the language, although tedious, perhaps one has to apply the logic of decoding and expand the words of the language just as one would substitute in an algebraic expression and expand an equation in full so as to eliminate the earthly-interpretation words with which we are familiar and misled until we are used to the words restored to their spiritual idea meanings.

I have half a feeling that the Book is for all to read, the followers of the material to argue about, and the spiritual to understand and with which to arise. The book sorts out the people who are spiritual from the people who are destined to be earthbound by reason of their attachment to earthly things.

The other day I witnessed a bankrupt man with such a material attachment to some photocopies of some worthless papers owned by his father in law in the thought that they might be worth a fortune and save him, and he was so obsessed by them, that sadly the man will always be earthbound.

Our attraction to the material world and the so-called reality of material objects and their stories blinds us from the spiritual, "the communication of The Idea", the idea behind all things eternal which protects us from and fights the decay of all things in the entropic state.

So, no, Jesus - The Son of The Idea - did not die, the devil (bodily decay, disorder, entropic decay of matter) could not retain The Son Of The Idea (him) in death in the disorder of hell, and The Idea arose again from the dead.
 
Sorry, this is a very apparently insane perspective. But as way to overcome all the difficulties we (all?) have, perhaps it's a fun exploration.

Best wishes

David P

Postscript
Because this the Genesis 1 Deity, "The Force that creates order out of Disorder", is unique, all pervasive, everywhere, invisible, all powerful responsible for all, there is only one such Deity. This is no imaginary person nor statue: this is the Fundamental Driving Force of All That Exists. It is unique, responsible for all, and cannot die.

Indeed, from the moment of birth of all matter it is the force that ordered the disordered energy arising from the Big Bang into the order of matter.
Title: Re: Decoding The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 26, 2012, 02:32:24 PM
:-) But one can argue that the Genesis 1 Deity is "The Force that creates order out of Disorder", and "The Idea" with it and cannot die and "The Son of The Idea", as an idea, cannot die and in the Garden of Gethsemane when the stone is rolled away, Jesus, "The Son of The Idea", asks us to arise with him, for the spirit (communication of The Idea) cannot die and for us to arise with him that cannot die.If one sticks to the material, to the world of the concrete, one gets weighed down by the massiveness of the intractible problems. When one arises to the spiritual interpretation, all the problems evaporate away.[/color

]I have half a feeling that the Book is for all to read, the followers of the material to argue about, and the spiritual to understand  

Postscript

Indeed, from the moment of birth of all matter it is the force that ordered the disordered energy arising from the Big Bang into the order of matter.

===================

This is theology at work, as it relates to the 21st century, and I think demonstrates that the spiritual is far more powerful than the material. Indeed, if we invert the perspective of the crucifixion and the ressurection, the fact that the spirit could not die, means that the spirit had no reason to return as a physical manifestation. That would be far too material and a bit too exhibitionist for my liking, and of course, slightly pointless.

The spirit lives materially in the body of the church, and is passed on.

I think we are as one in so many ways, but with one exception....

Just the one big bang?

Let's not go there!  :)

Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 26, 2012, 07:46:36 PM
Dear MM

I have been pondering the consequences of the line of logic as you, but concluded that because it did happen in the material it acts out the idea so that the narrative of the history can work at different levels for whomsoever comes to read it: the physical manifestation was thereby important.

Quote
The spirit lives materially in the body of the church, and is passed on.

Yes - and after this how can anyone be atheist . . . or merely agnostic? Does it not makes sense and capable of doing so to everybody?

If so, isn't that good for churches . . . and organs?

It would be nice to hear from others on this. I have been worried recently at the lack of organ related posts: are people frightened of opinions? Are people not enthusiastic about getting to the root of where the majority of organs keep their abode?

Best wishes

David P

Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 27, 2012, 02:32:13 PM


I have been pondering the consequences of the line of logic.......


Quote
The spirit lives materially in the body of the church, and is passed on.

Yes - and after this how can anyone be atheist . . . or merely agnostic? Does it not makes sense and capable of doing so to everybody?

=================



The fence on which I sit is sturdy enough, in spite of comprising no more than atomic particles and molecules.

I still cannot make a meaningful link between creation and the acceptance of Jesus as a holy entity. A creator God must be omnipotent, omniscient and omni-present: Jesus rather more approachable. Hence my preference for the Christological 'quest' for lack of a better word, which means that I don't have to get bogged down by soothsaying, pseudo-science and outrageous speculation.

The problem we all face is one of analogy and simile. As a musician, I would be searching for a God of harmony perhaps, or "the music of the spheres." Were I a farmer, I might be searching for the holy wheatgerm. As a driver, perhaps the holy sat-nav.

Let's not delude ourselves,because whatever the "creative force" of the universe is, it is utterly beyond our comprehension. Worse still, such is the vastness of the universe, it is not inconceivable that life on Earth is a question of mathemtaical probability and a game of chance; the order out of chaos merely the way things panned out, without need of past, present or future.

We can argue about it until we are blue in the face, or express faith in this or that, but no-one knows and possibly never will.

So it comes back to my original question.

Is it possible to be a Christian agnostic, Buddhist or Hindu?

If not, why not?

MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on March 28, 2012, 11:34:43 AM
So it comes back to my original question.

Is it possible to be a Christian agnostic, Buddhist or Hindu?
If not, why not?

MM

Dear MM

In all but the above you have stumped me utterly, driving me into total humility. I had had the arrogance to think that the interpretation of God as the Force that creates Order from the scale of the universe to the femtoverse and all the derivative ideas explored above was the final answer. And all, apparently, to naught. Oh dear.  :'(

On your original question, however, the writings of Alice Bailey, who was a descendant of Benjamin Henry Latrobe who went as a Christian missionary to India suggest that one can . . .

Perhaps one might look in terms of all religions having rules for those who can only understand rules and seek a good life by trying to obey them, modes of thought for people who can think, ideas for people who can process and act upon "the idea", the spirit, and universality for people who lean towards it.

Best wishes,

David P

Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on March 29, 2012, 02:02:28 PM

Dear MM

In all but the above you have stumped me utterly, driving me into total humility. I had had the arrogance to think that the interpretation of God as the Force that creates Order from the scale of the universe to the femtoverse and all the derivative ideas explored above was the final answer. And all, apparently, to naught. Oh dear.  :'(

On your original question, however, the writings of Alice Bailey, who was a descendant of Benjamin Henry Latrobe who went as a Christian missionary to India suggest that one can . . .

Perhaps one might look in terms of all religions having rules for those who can only understand rules and seek a good life by trying to obey them, modes of thought for people who can think, ideas for people who can process and act upon "the idea", the spirit, and universality for people who lean towards it.

Best wishes,

David P
[/quote]

====================

Dear David,

You've also stumped me. What on earth is a femtoverse?  (I shall google this).

Seriously, the quest for an understanding of the nature of God,creation and the universe, is as natural as turning over a stone to see what lies beneath. Even the absolute atheist must utlimately arrive at the same conclusion as the believer, that the creation of all things is beyond comprehension. The agnsotic arrives at the same conclusion, but admits early on that the question is possibly more significant than the answer. I wouldn't presume to believe or disbelieve that creation has an intelligent life-force behind it, and neither would I presume to believe or disbelieve in the chaos theory. The only thing I know, is that we simply do not have the capacity to even count the distances, the number of galaxies, stars and planets or comprehend the time scale involved. So vast is the universe, it is perhaps entirely possible that the numbers game created the support for life and life itself in a quite random way; everything that we are being constructed of the cosmic dust created at the moment of the big-bang, and situated at the corner of a tiny galaxy in a life supporting planetary-orbit around a tiny speck of a star.

It's funny, but when we look at creation, in all its vastness, one of our shortest words sums it all up.....wow!

So while the agnostic may suspend belief, they also suspend disbelief, and it is therefore an ongoing creative process rather than one which is neither one thing nor the other.

Alice Bailey sounds interesting. I deliberately asked the question about Christian agnostics, Hindus and the rest for a simple reason, because it is very easy to overlook the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was a practising Jew, as were many of his followers, and therefore the concept of a Christian Jew carries with it a certain authority.

You last point I entirely agree with, and for me personally, any act of worship is, (or should be), a celebration of "an idea," a spirit and a universal truth; supported by what we might agree as "good" and worthwhile things.

Faith, for me, is a very down to earth thing, and has the beauty of absolute simplicity. I am nothing if not a simple soul at heart.

MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus - on Genesis 2 beyond Genesis 1
Post by: David Pinnegar on April 21, 2012, 01:38:03 PM
Quote
Let's not delude ourselves,because whatever the "creative force" of the universe is, it is utterly beyond our comprehension.

Dear MM and friends,

Having in recent days had renewed contact with friends who run around in chaotic circles ignoring paths of order to the preference of the excitement of buzz of disorder and then running to the bottle of alcohol to paper over the cracks, it has struck me sharply that the fuzziness of the agnostic fence is the embodiment of that disorder; the weeds and thistles through which metaphorically one has to fight in order to grow one's mental crops.

With regard to the assertion above that Genesis 1 is about something fundamental to all matter and energy in the universe which gives rise to the creation of anything at all, the femtometre is the scale of the inner atom - 10-15 of a metre and the forces that create all the order of everything from this scale to the widest universe are common to all. All powerful, invisible, everywhere.

It's very easy to see two billiard balls or two people and think that God is at work between matter and matter, billiard ball and billiard ball. That is to what either atheism or the inadequate image of the Big Daddy vision of God leads, As atheists we believe that we are in control, having self determining motors within our billiard balls,  whilst Big Daddiists expect Him to take the cue and knock our billiard balls in the right direction.

But the reality is different. The universe works not on a matrix of interaction of matter with matter but of matter with circumstance. The matter-matter interaction is too two dimensional. As people we are not what we appear to be at face value: we are how we are animated, given motion, and this is powered circumstance. The circumstance is where we have come from, where we are at present, which way we are facing and in what direction our intention of future leads. This provides a hidden dimension of directions in which all are heading, circumstances, and we interact in the ways that we can see as matter, with the directions in which matter is heading, unseen, and unpredictable in any way beyond faith. Faith in God - faith in that force that creates order within chaos. By definition, that is the only force the direction of which can be predicted, and this means that people with faith link up in a common direction with common purpose whilst others in the same circumstances flounder without direction.

By observation of people who have got their lives in order, and observation of those who have not, and wallow in their chaoses, perhaps one can find value in the benefit of the God of Chapter 1 of Genesis in being that definition of God as the "creative force" of the universe - and within that context we are led to a better understanding of how it can be within our comprehension. Good / bad becomes the separation of creative force opposed to chaotic force.

Can one be a Christian and a Buddhist and a Hindu? Within the context of the above, all the religions are descriptions of these two opposing states. And creation, good, always triumphs over chaos, bad. Life, order, spirit, energy that creates always triumphs over death, decay, chaos of what was once ordered into life, bad. The force of order wins because the force of chaos being infinitely chaotic cannot make anything more chaotic than chaos.

The triumph of God becomes a mathematical certainty. The score in each interaction is always Order 1, Choas Nill. Added up 100 times, the score is always Order 100, Chaos Nil.

Earlier I referred to thorns and thistles through which we have to fight to grow our mental crops. Genesis 2 is as powerful as a description of the human condition as Genesis 1 is the context from which it arose. The analogy of the Garden of Eden can hold good in opposing but distinguishable ways.

The atheists set themselves the challenge of growing their crops without the instruction book, and finding for themselves the order with which they have to harmonise in order to grow their harvest.

Meanwhile the Big Daddyists are terribly frightened by the serpent who tempts them outside the garden on account of eating of the Tree of Knowledge, and this is a problem that causes all religions to be defensive, purge independant thought, exclude heretics and start wars.

But Genesis 2 is bigger than that. Whilst taken as telling us that it is good to find Paradise within the Garden and to avoid the temptations of the serpent, it's actually the opposite. Big Daddy in the Garden is keeping the occupants of his realm in ignorance and as pets, mere animals. But to be human, we are more than that. That is what makes us human, distinguished from and "above" the realm of animals. Intrinsically we do eat of the tree of knowledge, and thereby acquire life, our own lives and partake of the tree of life. In doing this we exclude ourselves incompatible with the closed ignorance of the Paradise of unknowing, and we discover the thorns and thistles that obstruct our way to growing our own crops with the heritage of the guidance of Big Daddy in the garden. Not Daddy in the human form, but in the form of the God of Genesis 1: the force that creates order out of disorder. This too is the result of Genesis 2: we have to find and encourage the order in the context of the disorder, to grow our crops in the context of the thistles and weeds which ever grow to choke them.

The expressions of religion which do not lead to the growing of our own crops, requiring us to be kept in the ignorance of the knowledge of outside are merely oppressions of the human spirit, keeping those held by the walls around the rules as animals, contrary to the universal creative force that wants us to learn within the garden and then go out and create our own gardens, in which our Paradise is to be found for us and all who we can pass it on to there.

Of course, it is the religious expressions that keep their followers enclosed in their gardens as animals that cause followers of such to go out and behave as animals towards others both in the human world and in the jungle of nature.

Out of the bilblical realm, one sees many trapped within human organisations who will suppress the whistleblower of the serpent of their own conscienses with the consciousness of what is right in the outside world, who will comply with the god of their garden of their organisations, achieving a paradise of security knowing that within their organisations they will be looked after provided they obey the rules of the organisation. They achieve the paradise of that safety.

To be Christian, Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan, of the two - the priest and the levite - who pass by, happy within the paradise of the garden of their rules and the third who broke out of the garden eating of the tree of life and gave of the benefits of that tree. The Samaritan broke through the mental thorns and thistles of the fear of those who might criticise him, to grow his crops on the other side of the road.

There are many entrapped by unknowingness, animal-like within the garden, or atheist, who are jealous of the order that knowing people see and will do their best to put thorns and thistles in their paths, and sow seeds of weeds so that the crop does not grow on the other side of the road.

So, yes I believe one is only a Christian if one has escaped from the imprisonment of safety and crossed that road; impossible to be a Christian as a priest enclosed within the garden, as a Levite in the same paradise, and that it is possible to be both a Christian and a follower of another path. Indeed in terms of loving one's neighbour, perhaps one cannot be a Christian within the garden, as Christ expects his followers to cross the road, step over and evade the thorns and thistles to go their own crops of creation despite the weeds of chaos around them.

I hope that in vocalising this, the fog of the agnostic fence might disappear and perhaps some may have the courage to tread the path in the confidence of faith that reduces the thorns and thistles to naught.

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: KB7DQH on April 21, 2012, 02:55:53 PM
I read this earlier surfing around on the internet,  thought it profound enough to do a bit of cut and paste for future recollection:

Quote
The essential distinction of man from higher apes, is the ability to discover answerable questions bearing on the subject of the continuing search for fresh illustrations of
universal principles. For example: Fire! Ever higher forms of fire! The human willful
advantage of hotter expressions of fire!
;)
Eric
KB7DQH
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus - on Genesis 2 beyond Genesis 1
Post by: MusingMuso on April 21, 2012, 09:33:28 PM
Quote
Let's not delude ourselves,because whatever the "creative force" of the universe is, it is utterly beyond our comprehension.

Dear MM and friends,

Having in recent days had renewed contact with friends who run around in chaotic circles ignoring paths of order to the preference of the excitement of buzz of disorder and then running to the bottle of alcohol to paper over the cracks, it has struck me sharply that the fuzziness of the agnostic fence is the embodiment of that disorder; the weeds and thistles through which metaphorically one has to fight in order to grow one's mental crops.

With regard to the assertion above that Genesis 1 is about something fundamental to all matter and energy in the universe which gives rise to the creation of anything at all, the femtometre is the scale of the inner atom - 10-15 of a metre and the forces that create all the order of everything from this scale to the widest universe are common to all. All powerful, invisible, everywhere.

It's very easy to see two billiard balls or two people and think that God is at work between matter and matter, billiard ball and billiard ball. That is to what either atheism or the inadequate image of the Big Daddy vision of God leads, As atheists we believe that we are in control, having self determining motors within our billiard balls,  whilst Big Daddiists expect Him to take the cue and knock our billiard balls in the right direction.

But the reality is different. The universe works not on a matrix of interaction of matter with matter but of matter with circumstance. The matter-matter interaction is too two dimensional. As people we are not what we appear to be at face value: we are how we are animated, given motion, and this is powered circumstance. The circumstance is where we have come from, where we are at present, which way we are facing and in what direction our intention of future leads. This provides a hidden dimension of directions in which all are heading, circumstances, and we interact in the ways that we can see as matter, with the directions in which matter is heading, unseen, and unpredictable in any way beyond faith. Faith in God - faith in that force that creates order within chaos. By definition, that is the only force the direction of which can be predicted, and this means that people with faith link up in a common direction with common purpose whilst others in the same circumstances flounder without direction.

By observation of people who have got their lives in order, and observation of those who have not, and wallow in their chaoses, perhaps one can find value in the benefit of the God of Chapter 1 of Genesis in being that definition of God as the "creative force" of the universe - and within that context we are led to a better understanding of how it can be within our comprehension. Good / bad becomes the separation of creative force opposed to chaotic force.

Can one be a Christian and a Buddhist and a Hindu? Within the context of the above, all the religions are descriptions of these two opposing states. And creation, good, always triumphs over chaos, bad. Life, order, spirit, energy that creates always triumphs over death, decay, chaos of what was once ordered into life, bad. The force of order wins because the force of chaos being infinitely chaotic cannot make anything more chaotic than chaos.

The triumph of God becomes a mathematical certainty. The score in each interaction is always Order 1, Choas Nill. Added up 100 times, the score is always Order 100, Chaos Nil.

Earlier I referred to thorns and thistles through which we have to fight to grow our mental crops. Genesis 2 is as powerful as a description of the human condition as Genesis 1 is the context from which it arose. The analogy of the Garden of Eden can hold good in opposing but distinguishable ways.

The atheists set themselves the challenge of growing their crops without the instruction book, and finding for themselves the order with which they have to harmonise in order to grow their harvest.

Meanwhile the Big Daddyists are terribly frightened by the serpent who tempts them outside the garden on account of eating of the Tree of Knowledge, and this is a problem that causes all religions to be defensive, purge independant thought, exclude heretics and start wars.

But Genesis 2 is bigger than that. Whilst taken as telling us that it is good to find Paradise within the Garden and to avoid the temptations of the serpent, it's actually the opposite. Big Daddy in the Garden is keeping the occupants of his realm in ignorance and as pets, mere animals. But to be human, we are more than that. That is what makes us human, distinguished from and "above" the realm of animals. Intrinsically we do eat of the tree of knowledge, and thereby acquire life, our own lives and partake of the tree of life. In doing this we exclude ourselves incompatible with the closed ignorance of the Paradise of unknowing, and we discover the thorns and thistles that obstruct our way to growing our own crops with the heritage of the guidance of Big Daddy in the garden. Not Daddy in the human form, but in the form of the God of Genesis 1: the force that creates order out of disorder. This too is the result of Genesis 2: we have to find and encourage the order in the context of the disorder, to grow our crops in the context of the thistles and weeds which ever grow to choke them.

The expressions of religion which do not lead to the growing of our own crops, requiring us to be kept in the ignorance of the knowledge of outside are merely oppressions of the human spirit, keeping those held by the walls around the rules as animals, contrary to the universal creative force that wants us to learn within the garden and then go out and create our own gardens, in which our Paradise is to be found for us and all who we can pass it on to there.

Of course, it is the religious expressions that keep their followers enclosed in their gardens as animals that cause followers of such to go out and behave as animals towards others both in the human world and in the jungle of nature.

Out of the bilblical realm, one sees many trapped within human organisations who will suppress the whistleblower of the serpent of their own conscienses with the consciousness of what is right in the outside world, who will comply with the god of their garden of their organisations, achieving a paradise of security knowing that within their organisations they will be looked after provided they obey the rules of the organisation. They achieve the paradise of that safety.

To be Christian, Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan, of the two - the priest and the levite - who pass by, happy within the paradise of the garden of their rules and the third who broke out of the garden eating of the tree of life and gave of the benefits of that tree. The Samaritan broke through the mental thorns and thistles of the fear of those who might criticise him, to grow his crops on the other side of the road.

There are many entrapped by unknowingness, animal-like within the garden, or atheist, who are jealous of the order that knowing people see and will do their best to put thorns and thistles in their paths, and sow seeds of weeds so that the crop does not grow on the other side of the road.

So, yes I believe one is only a Christian if one has escaped from the imprisonment of safety and crossed that road; impossible to be a Christian as a priest enclosed within the garden, as a Levite in the same paradise, and that it is possible to be both a Christian and a follower of another path. Indeed in terms of loving one's neighbour, perhaps one cannot be a Christian within the garden, as Christ expects his followers to cross the road, step over and evade the thorns and thistles to go their own crops of creation despite the weeds of chaos around them.

I hope that in vocalising this, the fog of the agnostic fence might disappear and perhaps some may have the courage to tread the path in the confidence of faith that reduces the thorns and thistles to naught.

Best wishes

David P

MMmmmmm....

So you are suggesting that I am the embodiment of disorder, eh?

I may be a number of things, but disorder is not very high on the list. Complexity would, I suspect, be quite near the top of the list; not as a conscious act, but rather as someone who sees things from different perspectives grounded in some understanding of a multiplicity of disciplines.

You claim that human beings are higher life forms than animals, yet human beings have evolved from animals and REMAIN animals; albeit sophisticated animals with heightened faculties and enhanced cognitive abilities, a capacity for conceptual reasoning and a recognisably higher level of consciousness. Even the so-called human quality of empathy is shared to some extent with dolphins.

Within the human condition, I see all sorts of variety, aberrations, behavioural differences, degrees of empathy or selfishness, violent and non-violent tendencies etc etc. The belief that all human beings merely need to accept some form of religion to find wholeness is for me, a naivety too far. Indeed, at the very root of much human behaviour are the tiny differences in genetic make-up, and beneath the conscious mind; all manner of basic instincts shared in common with other mammals. I would even go so far as to state the case for the tendency towards “belief” or “non belief” as having a genetic component.

My problem with almost all religions, is the fact that so many seem to be “belief based” rather than “faith based,” as if “belief” were interchangeable with “faith.” To my mind, “faith” is best based on experience, observation and outcome, whereas religious people are all too ready to tell us what they “believe.” This actually implies that religious people are really only stating what they believe, rather than what can be shared with others.

Seen in this light, agnosticism can be seen to free the mind from the tyranny of belief, and may actually open the door to a well grounded faith.

Why should anyone think that atheists regard themselves as being “in control?”

My experience of atheists leads me to believe that they do not pretend to be in control of anything, and do not look for anything else which is. Rather, they accept what they see as the rather random nature of their own existence and that of the universe beyond, and do not seek answers to impossible questions or waste their time seeking new ones, unless their line of questioning is scientific, replicable, honest and theoretical.

Being agnostic, far from being chaotic, merely sees the value of differential thinking rather than straight-line conformity, and I am perfectly happy with it.

MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on April 22, 2012, 12:55:57 AM
Quote
My problem with almost all religions, is the fact that so many seem to be “belief based” rather than “faith based,” as if “belief” were interchangeable with “faith.”

:-)

I think we may be looking at the same thing merely from opposite ends of the telescope. The whole point about a revised perspective of Genesis 2 is that it can be viewed to say exactly this - belief is that which is only secure within the confines of the garden, being incomplete of the partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, whereas faith allows or leads you to step outside, overcome the thistles and the weeds and positively grow your own crops.

Quote
Seen in this light, agnosticism can be seen to free the mind from the tyranny of belief, and may actually open the door to a well grounded faith.

I would agree with you therefore that escaping from the garden in terms of my post above "can be seen to free the mind from the tyranny of belief, and may actually open the door to a well grounded faith" but, if God is _defined_ as the force that creates order out of disorder, then not agnosticism. There is no room for agnosticism there: the force that creates order out of disorder cannot be denied. The supremacy of the power of order over the processes of disorder cannot be denied either for the repeated addition of one unit of order adds up to something but the repeated addition of no units of order, none, is still nothing.

:-) - so there is the challenge for you . . . !

Furthermore, I don't think that it is easy to deny the concept that we are governed not by interactions between matter but by the interactions between matter and the circumstances that drives it. It is in those driving circumstances that is the energy of the universe, and of the energy between people and these energies provide forces of direction which are all powerful, invisible, everywhere and have existed for as long in the past as they will in the future - eternal. These two concepts therefore provide for an undeniable recognition of the mechanism that obeys the definition of what is called "god" and putting the concept of "god" within the realm of comprehension.

In our examination of the behaviour of people, the work of "god" being the result of the forces of order within the jungle of disorder, arises out of those who understand moving with the invisible undercurrents of momentum of intention.

We swim in rivers of circumstances. People appear merely as other people and they have energy, potential energy, but their kinetic energy, their momentum, their direction is governed by way of their reaction to the forces that move (or attempt to move) them. The understanding of "god" as universal "order" will guide them in the direction to grow their own crops of "order", "creation", outside the garden of Eden despite the weeds and thistles of the brownian motion, randomness, of the people around them who do not understand the direction of order, creation and the growth of "god"'s crops. With enough care of the farmer, the crops will overcome the weeds on the mathematical certainty above. For such logic of certainly, there is both reason to have faith as well as something more profound: it is easier to submit to "god"'s will, the will of the "creation order", being the direction of the undercurrent rather than obstinately to fight against the stream of order, eddying around in random directions of their own desire only to end up in as much disorder as before.

If God thought to be a Big Daddy in the sky, then I am not only an agnostic but an outright atheist. Instead it appears possible to perceive the concept of god as something so much bigger than that, and so much more fundamental. So much more helpful too.

Does this then
Quote
actually open the door to a well grounded faith.
??

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on April 22, 2012, 05:26:52 PM
Quote
My problem with almost all religions, is the fact that so many seem to be “belief based” rather than “faith based,” as if “belief” were interchangeable with “faith.”

:-)

I think we may be looking at the same thing merely from opposite ends of the telescope. The whole point about a revised perspective of Genesis 2 is that it can be viewed to say exactly this - belief is that which is only secure within the confines of the garden, being incomplete of the partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, whereas faith allows or leads you to step outside, overcome the thistles and the weeds and positively grow your own crops.

Quote
Seen in this light, agnosticism can be seen to free the mind from the tyranny of belief, and may actually open the door to a well grounded faith.

I would agree with you therefore that escaping from the garden in terms of my post above "can be seen to free the mind from the tyranny of belief, and may actually open the door to a well grounded faith" but, if God is _defined_ as the force that creates order out of disorder, then not agnosticism. There is no room for agnosticism there: the force that creates order out of disorder cannot be denied. The supremacy of the power of order over the processes of disorder cannot be denied either for the repeated addition of one unit of order adds up to something but the repeated addition of no units of order, none, is still nothing.

:-) - so there is the challenge for you . . . !

Furthermore, I don't think that it is easy to deny the concept that we are governed not by interactions between matter but by the interactions between matter and the circumstances that drives it. It is in those driving circumstances that is the energy of the universe, and of the energy between people and these energies provide forces of direction which are all powerful, invisible, everywhere and have existed for as long in the past as they will in the future - eternal. These two concepts therefore provide for an undeniable recognition of the mechanism that obeys the definition of what is called "god" and putting the concept of "god" within the realm of comprehension.

In our examination of the behaviour of people, the work of "god" being the result of the forces of order within the jungle of disorder, arises out of those who understand moving with the invisible undercurrents of momentum of intention.

We swim in rivers of circumstances. People appear merely as other people and they have energy, potential energy, but their kinetic energy, their momentum, their direction is governed by way of their reaction to the forces that move (or attempt to move) them. The understanding of "god" as universal "order" will guide them in the direction to grow their own crops of "order", "creation", outside the garden of Eden despite the weeds and thistles of the brownian motion, randomness, of the people around them who do not understand the direction of order, creation and the growth of "god"'s crops. With enough care of the farmer, the crops will overcome the weeds on the mathematical certainty above. For such logic of certainly, there is both reason to have faith as well as something more profound: it is easier to submit to "god"'s will, the will of the "creation order", being the direction of the undercurrent rather than obstinately to fight against the stream of order, eddying around in random directions of their own desire only to end up in as much disorder as before.

If God thought to be a Big Daddy in the sky, then I am not only an agnostic but an outright atheist. Instead it appears possible to perceive the concept of god as something so much bigger than that, and so much more fundamental. So much more helpful too.

Does this then
Quote
actually open the door to a well grounded faith.
??

Best wishes

David P


Dear David and friends,

Law is based on the precept of “the reasonable man,” and not on the concept of “the perfect man,” and the word reasonable is itself based on the idea that “reasonableness” is arrived at by a process of logical thought leading to some generally accepted consensus.  As such, the word consensus can be replaced by the word agreeable; being that which finds approval within a majority situation. The law, in itself, cannot prevent law-breaking, which is why law needs some degree of enforcement, which in certain circumstances, may be utterly disagreeable to the very people who formed the body of concensus on which laws were made and approved. Consquently, there is an immediate contradiction between that which would be ideal in a perfect world, and that which is less than ideal in an imperfect world. After all, the thief may be hungry or greedy, and without some degree of mitigation, law can become an oppressive, destructive, multi-headed monster; the first victim being justice.

In other words, without some acceptance of both the unpredictable and the chaotic, any attempt at understanding “law and order” is doomed to failure.

It could be argued that the process of evolution relies on the chaotic for both its successes and failures, but because we never see the failures, we never see the chaos by which they were created.

I think I would argue, rightly or wrongly, that the need for order is a human need; notwithstanding certain absolute principles of physics. I could further argue that what we perceive as order out of chaos, is as much the product of chaos itself, as is the process of evolution. Indeed, if we consider how life is created and evolves, the danger of using the term “God” as the driving-force behind it, is to use the word as if it were a substitute for exogenesis or what Sir Fred Hoyle termed “panspermia.”

In fact, if we accept that all life and all elements originated from the cosmic-dust left over from the big-bang, and that the cosmic dust was originally nothing more than hydrogen and helium, we are left to consider the processes involved in transformation: first into basic elements, then into molecules and then into the bacteria from which all life-forms evolved.

The question must be; how did it happen?

Is there evidence to support the ideas that apart from the basic physical principles of atomic attraction, and the subsequent bonds of chemistry, there was some “life force” which shaped the destiny of the cosmic dust?

Personally, I do not find evidence for that, but then, I admit that I am fairly stupid.  What I do see, are various attempts to explain it all in artistic, symbolic and creative language, but that is hardly evidence in the scientific sense, and could probably be more accurately described as speculative wishful-thinking on the part of those who wrote the Bible and other religious tracts.

It seems to me, that while we have to accept that the “forces of nature” (in the widest sense), shaped what we are, and continue to shape our destinies, this is every bit as remote as “the old man in the sky,” to whom the ancients ascribed a cult of personality, for lack of more compelling answers.

In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that belief in anything so esoteric as “order created out of chaos,” is to diminish to significance of chaos by a process of selective thinking.

Perhaps I just hate the implied duality of “good and evil”, “black and white,” “this or that,”  “either or”  and maybe even “order or chaos.”
As a mere human life-form, I am quite happy to take inspiration from Christology, in which I discover all the traits of humanity, as well as the love and spiritual beauty of one who didn’t try to answer questions, but who instead, demonstrated  a practical, down to earth way of life, which stands the test of time when we are faced with chaos, ugliness, tribal conflict and the deceit of false religions.

MM

PS: David will notice the absence of gardening similes, for the simple reason that my ideal garden would be ‘astro-turf’ and plastic flowers. My idea of hell would be the Garden of Eden and a trowel.
 
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on April 22, 2012, 06:36:29 PM
Dear MM

:-) I always enjoy your challenging thoughts. However, perhaps there is actually something more than you propose for the reason that as a matter of physics the sub-atomic particles and atoms and molecules at each level are arranged by way of forces that really do _conspire_ to bring things together into ordered forms, which can result in what you might be referring to as a life-force. One starts to see this in a very comprehensible way which is analogous to other processes in the theory of solar system formation and formation of planets out of swirling gases and resulting collections of particles.

The ideas formulated above have been put together very much neither to preach to the converted nor even to attempt to shift people who have thought long and hard, but to try to help those (and particularly young people with whom I have had to cope) who have not thought much at all nor seen a way in their lives, nor a purpose and who drift, aimlessly wasting their time and without achieving very much.

I believe that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 can have a particular meaning for such people, often people with whom such texts have had little contact before, demonstrating an analogue of human behaviour in the directions of fairly sound and comprehensible physics. From those analogues it looks as though perhaps matters of faith as a sound footing for directing one's lives can rightly achieve the status of a sound and rational basis rather than mere beliefs in hocus pocus and Father Christmas and whether or not you believe in ghosts.

In summary, finding that faith in God can result from a rational process comes from the following steps:
1. Recognition of what we call "God", the invisible, all powerful, everywhere and timeless, as the force that creates order in the context of generally increasing entropy, resulting in the creation and subsequent evolution of all matter into all forms of matter and life-matter
2. Appreciation of the dynamic relationships, not of matter and matter, but matter and circumstances (of course relationships between matter and matter relate from intersections of circumstances)
3. Appreciating that we ourselves have a part to play in both (1) and (2) by being living matter (analagous to the inanimate matter studied in Physics) and therefore subject to participation in the same processes.
4. That the study of "God" leads us to an understanding of the creative processes which overcome the randomness of ununderstanding, random, and selfish behaviours of those who have not come across the idea of "God" or actively rebel against what they perceive to be an outdated convention of which they assume they can safely dispense
5. That Jesus' teachings, being those of the "Son of God", "hearing [his] father's words and doing them", bring into the human realm the instructions for humans to work in harmony with (1) and (2) so that "God"'s  work flows as rivers of circumstances.
6. Finding as a result of the above that those who try to live swimming against the flow of "God"'s rivers of circumstances merely waste their time in eddying currents of dizziness, the processes of the rivers of "God" passing them by.

The result of such dizziness in young people, is a jungle in which it is increasingly frustrating to move, surrounded by the thorns and weeds of (unfunded other than by crime) tobacco and other drugs (even known as "weed") and a culture in which each has to protect his back.

The benefits to society of the organ and its usual place of context have much to bring to society.

The 20th century was founded on the "rationality" of processes that led to the supremacy of the profession of the psychoanalyst above that of the priest, and the psychoanalysts have been wrong. There was something wrong with Freud that they have been trying to patch up and cirumvent ever since, but in summarising Freud's analyse of the motivation of the human mind as the three Fs - Feeding, Fighting and Something Else, it is apparent in the light of the above that he was wrong in omitting the fourth F - Faith. The result has been a loss to a number of generations.

In contemplating the benefits of the usual context of organs, however, I tried above to demonstrate why "religion" permitted only within "the garden" in which the occupants are kept as animals results in bigotry and animal behaviour when such occupants escape the garden without having eaten of the tree of knowledge. It is such behaviour that has driven many from the place of abode of the organ . . . and therefore appropriate to exploration here . . .

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on April 23, 2012, 02:23:47 PM
Dear MM

:-) I always enjoy your challenging thoughts. However, perhaps there is actually something more than you propose for the reason that as a matter of physics the sub-atomic particles and atoms and molecules at each level are arranged by way of forces that really do _conspire_ to bring things together into ordered forms, which can result in what you might be referring to as a life-force. One starts to see this in a very comprehensible way which is analogous to other processes in the theory of solar system formation and formation of planets out of swirling gases and resulting collections of particles.

The ideas formulated above have been put together very much neither to preach to the converted nor even to attempt to shift people who have thought long and hard, but to try to help those (and particularly young people with whom I have had to cope) who have not thought much at all nor seen a way in their lives, nor a purpose and who drift, aimlessly wasting their time and without achieving very much.

I believe that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 can have a particular meaning for such people, often people with whom such texts have had little contact before, demonstrating an analogue of human behaviour in the directions of fairly sound and comprehensible physics. From those analogues it looks as though perhaps matters of faith as a sound footing for directing one's lives can rightly achieve the status of a sound and rational basis rather than mere beliefs in hocus pocus and Father Christmas and whether or not you believe in ghosts.

In summary, finding that faith in God can result from a rational process comes from the following steps:
1. Recognition of what we call "God", the invisible, all powerful, everywhere and timeless, as the force that creates order in the context of generally increasing entropy, resulting in the creation and subsequent evolution of all matter into all forms of matter and life-matter
2. Appreciation of the dynamic relationships, not of matter and matter, but matter and circumstances (of course relationships between matter and matter relate from intersections of circumstances)
3. Appreciating that we ourselves have a part to play in both (1) and (2) by being living matter (analagous to the inanimate matter studied in Physics) and therefore subject to participation in the same processes.
4. That the study of "God" leads us to an understanding of the creative processes which overcome the randomness of ununderstanding, random, and selfish behaviours of those who have not come across the idea of "God" or actively rebel against what they perceive to be an outdated convention of which they assume they can safely dispense
5. That Jesus' teachings, being those of the "Son of God", "hearing [his] father's words and doing them", bring into the human realm the instructions for humans to work in harmony with (1) and (2) so that "God"'s  work flows as rivers of circumstances.
6. Finding as a result of the above that those who try to live swimming against the flow of "God"'s rivers of circumstances merely waste their time in eddying currents of dizziness, the processes of the rivers of "God" passing them by.

The result of such dizziness in young people, is a jungle in which it is increasingly frustrating to move, surrounded by the thorns and weeds of (unfunded other than by crime) tobacco and other drugs (even known as "weed") and a culture in which each has to protect his back.

The benefits to society of the organ and its usual place of context have much to bring to society.

The 20th century was founded on the "rationality" of processes that led to the supremacy of the profession of the psychoanalyst above that of the priest, and the psychoanalysts have been wrong. There was something wrong with Freud that they have been trying to patch up and cirumvent ever since, but in summarising Freud's analyse of the motivation of the human mind as the three Fs - Feeding, Fighting and Something Else, it is apparent in the light of the above that he was wrong in omitting the fourth F - Faith. The result has been a loss to a number of generations.

In contemplating the benefits of the usual context of organs, however, I tried above to demonstrate why "religion" permitted only within "the garden" in which the occupants are kept as animals results in bigotry and animal behaviour when such occupants escape the garden without having eaten of the tree of knowledge. It is such behaviour that has driven many from the place of abode of the organ . . . and therefore appropriate to exploration here . . .

Best wishes

David P


Dear David and friends,

We are in danger of expressing two different and rather entrenched positions, yet in matters of practical detail, we would probably find much common ground.

I’m not so entrenched however, that I cannot recognise a basic truth. I have no doubt whatsoever, that science has not yet provided the answers I seek, and for that matter, neither has the process of logical thought. Conversely, I see traditional religion as belonging in the category of “pseudo-science” much of the time. That said, I very much doubt that a single scientist would write a paper which could successfully prove or disprove the existence of love, and even in the laboratory, a test tube full of the stuff would not amount  to very much. No wonder that we find ourselves in a spiritual vacuum, where “knowledge” (or lack of it) places us in an impossible position at this point in time.

The idea of “order out of chaos” is open to challenge of course, but with notable exceptions. I was always taught that energetic and unstable atomic structures and molecules always moved in the direction of greater stability and therefore less energetic states. The trouble is, I’m no scientist, but can recognise the need for a more relaxed existence when it comes to leisure-time. If we look at procreation and the double-helix, then “order out of chaos” makes some sense, but even then, things can go hideously wrong.

I also doubt that studying atomic structure and scientific phenomena takes us very far down the road to enlightenment, because it is not something which readily concentrates the mind half way through a bowl of Weetabix.

I find that the Christological approach is one in which human beings and the spirit of love can both co-exist and interact, and I have yet to find many young people who don’t want to be loved, needed or involved in life.
 
There was a very moving little story on Radio 4 this week, about a young drug addict who had hit rock bottom, lived on the streets and scraped a living by busking. Then one day, an injured cat came up to him, and the busker immediately took it to the RSPCA for treatment. Once the cat was well again, the young busker tried to give the cat its freedom once more, but the cat would have none of it; refusing to go and staying by his side. So the young busker knit the cat a scarf, placed it around the cat’s neck and they are now a regular feature on the streets of London. The busker had found a fellow creature which needed him; the cat likewise. Together, they share a meaningful life, yet previously, each was heading towards a lonely end. The busker got off drugs because he had a new"family member" to support.

Now if I were to try and explain this in terms of anthropomorphism, psychology, biology, sociology or any other ‘ology,’ I would not only bore the pants of everyone, I would probably be dead before I reached the punch line or any meaningful conclusion.

If I were to talk “Genesis” to almost anyone I know, they would tell me where to go, and it wouldn’t be the Garden of Eden. A couple of weeks back, a sixteen year old asked me why I went to church; claiming that he had no time for religion. On the other hand, he was quite happy to talk about “ghosts,” “ghouls,” “mysterious events,” “flying saucers,” “aliens,” and his favourite aunt. It wasn’t difficult to talk about caring, sharing, looking after people, protecting people and loving people....they’re always up for a bit of love-talk.
 
He agreed with almost everything I said, and so I popped the killer question, “So you believe in Jesus then?”

It had never occurred to him that this is what true Christianity is about, and although I wouldn’t claim an instant conversion, I think he found something within himself which was in accordance with “The spirit of love.”

It leads me to question the role of the church and the importance of the Bible. If the church, (in the wider sense), has the authority to be “the body” by decree, and was promised that it would perform greater miracles than Jesus himself, does it not also have the authority to ditch that which has little or no relevance in the 21st century?  After all, the business of theology is that of transcending the divide and reaching out to the hearts and minds of those prepared to hear it, which is not best served with references to harvests, sheep, tribal law, castes, lineage and the horrors and uncertainties of living in an occupied land. Bad scripture is that which needs to be explained before it can be understood, and even worse scripture is that which seeks to explain without proper understanding.

If we talk about “universal laws,” we are in danger of going off into a speculative orbit of ill-reasoning.

There is one very simple, popular ‘statistic’ which demonstrates this perfectly, and which is probably true.

“There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on every shore throughout the world.”

That, of course, is long before we start to count the planets and moons; for which we do not have sufficient numbers or computers powerful enough to store the results!

Why do we delude ourselves? Why do we even contemplate the incomprehensible?

The ‘truth’ of Christianity is the busker and his cat; the story of the good Samaritan, embracing the leper or the victim of AIDS, without asking what may happen next or to where things may lead.

It’s really very simple.

Best,

MM
PS: One of my closest friends is someone who first burgled my house as a teenager, and who now regards me as his only “family.”

 He found a stray cat too, in the form of an autistic young adult whom he takes shopping and who needs him.

Little miracles are just as important as blockbusters and the parting of the waves.
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on April 23, 2012, 06:50:21 PM
Dear MM

It appears that perhaps this thread is travelling through helpful territory and coming to similar views from both ends of the telescope.

Your examples of interaction with faithful animals are important: one problem that society has to overcome and in which Christianity has a particular role is that many young people the product of unions without love and associated divorce don't know how to love because they have never been loved. The instances you mention are stories of great hope.

However, for those for whom the attraction of 20th century rationality is a collection of thistles and thorns to the crop of finding of faith, attempts to finding every reason for faith to be a rational choice may be of value.

On a further level of analogies, Love can possibly be explained by reason of a confluence of the flow of circumstances just as some theorists explain gravitation via a flow of gravitons . . . or as an induced current in a nearby wire. The teachings of Christ provide a boat from which we can see the flow in the sea of circumstances, navigate our way without falling in, harvest shoals of fish and no doubt other imagery may come to mind.

Just as current flowing through a wire will induce a current to flow through another wire nearby, and one can buy ammeters which measure current which have a clamp to put around a current carrying wire, the flow of the river of circumstances is capable of influencing the open mind in prayer.

Love as a confluence of circumstances might have an analogue in the coupling of two oxygen atoms as O2 rather than single atoms.

Differences between people might have their analogue in electrons of both up and down spin and in the charm of quarks. There are common patterns of systems and behaviour at every level from the smallest to the largest. An interesting quirk of the concept of order vs disorder and of creation vs destruction is the existence of antimatter. Antimatter is fundamentally destructive as it annihilates matter on contact. Negative acting people can be rather the same but luckily there is an asymmetry which causes matter to be given priority over antimatter . . . and in our part of the universe antimatter is destroyed within microseconds. It is that property that enables medical imaging to make use of positrons, anti-electrons, in a useful way and perhaps one can perceive that the whole spectrum from negative to positive, chaos to order are the processes of "God". But as antimatter, although having uses, is fundamentally negative, luckily it destroys itself in early course as with people and negative behaviours. Collectively, even great powers of negativity in tyrannical regimes destroy themselves leaving behind more positive systems.

One serious problem which leads to agnosticism is the image of God as a being: when disaster happens, the Big Daddiists are caused to say "If there is a benificent God why did HE allow this to happen?". The problem is the worship of the image of god, which can (but does not exclusively) behave in the manner of a father, rather than the god described in the first chapter of Genesis which behaves in the manner of the creation process . . .

Best wishes

David P

Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on April 28, 2012, 03:43:11 PM
Hi!

In view of many people missing out on the understanding of the joys of organs because they turn their backs on going into a church, this thread is possibly worth further exploration and pursuit.

My youngest son does not wish to be confirmed for the reason that the confirmation course is reduced to the Alpha Course, which he does not like. It not having been invented when I was young, does anyone know why he would have reason for that? Does it lead to Graham Kendrickism? For my part, the "God loves YOU" version of Christianity and the worship of this figure called Christ verges on the worship of statues and prohibited among the ten . . .

In relation to the reduction of Christianity just to "love", I used to find this convenient in respect to Christ's Second commandment and wanting to reject his first - "Love thy God" . . .

What is "thy God"? The Big Daddy who lets bad things happen? The Big Daddy who's my/our Big Daddy and the Muslims or Hindus surely can't have Him too as their Big Daddy. The Big Daddy who misleads people into going out and fighting about whose Big Daddy He is?

It's for this reason that I believe people turn away from the Church, because Big Daddy doesn't exist and particularly not in the way in which personally I find Graham Kendrick's hymns suggest to me that I should be thinking.

It's for this reason that in the manner in which I have outlined above, finding God as the Creator of all things, not of Adam and Eve in a Daddy-Children relationship as the process that controls the formation of matter from energy and the ordering of that matter and that energy out of disorders of energy and matter, personally I have found a deeper foundation for the meaning of God and the subject of Jesus' teachings. In looking at people, and our relationships between people, as examples of matter and energy, all of us being matter and with energies, we can see contrasts between unfocussed disorder, confused futures and in contrast ordered, focussed, purposed lives. From this perspective it looks as though these living systems might be more what Christ was teaching about rather than the superficial relationship between us and any wooden, lifeless, statue of Big Daddy.

In looking at the story of the Garden of Eden above, I hope possibly to have demonstrated perhaps how Genesis 2 can be taken as a parable in so many different ways leading to understanding beyond the somewhat purile view of a guilty past. In my opinion, the Big Daddy view has misled many into the comfort of beliefs within the confines of the Garden Rules and which are worthy of challenge in order to help on the path to meaningful faith. In doing so we fight the thorns thistles and weeds to grow better crops in the service of "God". God - not Big Daddy - God as the purpose of the force of order within the disorder, the crops among the weeds.

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on April 29, 2012, 10:37:49 PM
Dear David and friends,

I recall being encouraged to attend an Anglican “Charismatic service” back in the early 1970’s, which I found utterly offensive. It bordered on mass hysteria, with people throwing themselves on the deck, “speaking in tongues,” dancing around like Joyce Grenfell after a glass of sherry, hugging each other, constantly testifying their faith in “the spirit” while endlessly repeating the words “Jesus” and “Love.”

Quite simply, it was brain-washing by another name, and completely divorced from life; even the first blade of grass outside the church door. More worryingly, it seemed to be centred around a lost hippie-generation, who having run out of money to buy drugs since the children arrived, were reduced to religious “love-ins” but without the intimacy of “free love.” They even dressed in a kind of uniform....informal, ill-fitting, natural materials and restricted to miserable earth colours. My further impression was the belief that half of them could probably have benefitted from psychiatric counselling, while the younger ones, instead of wasting their time at this sort of “worship experience,” might have benefitted more from something a bit riskier. My version of this was watching “Plague of the Zombies,” followed by a tentative, late night stroll through a graveyard with my friends and their friends; half of whom I didn’t know, but with whom I anxiously held hands irrespective of gender.

Still, if you want to be spooked, just go “Charismatic” for awhile; then seek help from marginally more grounded religious folk.

When I look at the natural world and the perils we face from pestilence, disease, drought, famine, bad tempered insects and my fellow human beings, I can’t help thinking that if “Big daddy” created this, I would prefer to be an orphan. It is also one of the reasons why I question Genesis, because I do not see evidence of “order out of chaos,” but a pecking order in the midst of the chaotically unpredictable: life forms competing for survival in a simultaneously supportive and destructive environment.

I don’t do a lot of pop music, but I have a few favourites, including these two:-

The first is the hip-hop track, “It’s like that; it’s just the way it is.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BW8EkUTml4&feature=related

Unemployment at a record high
People coming, people going, people born to die
Don't ask me, because I don't know why
But it's like that, and that's the way it is

People in the world tryin’ to make ends meet
You try to ride a car, train, bus, or feet
I said you got to work hard, you want to compete
It's like that, and that's the way it is etc.




Of course, the other side to competing and surviving is undoubtedly this:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7z_w83fSjM

What was Genesis but an attempt to create a monotheistic belief system and thus identify a people?

To-day, the pseudo-science of Genesis is probably more handicap than asset, but as with all scripture, it contains some truth; even if that truth is highly speculative, dangerously selective and, (with the benefit of hindsight), rather naive.

“Our washing powder cleans like no other,” is a statement which can flip in two directions, (one positive; the other negative), but as a statement it is unquestionably true.
 
What’s the old saying?

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

The manipulation of knowledge is dangerouser still!

Order out of chaos, you say?

Well, has it ever occurred to anyone, that order actually generates new types of chaos?

A farmer can make his fields more productive by cutting down the hedgerows, using artificial fertilisers, insecticides, cutting down trees and using genetically modified seed, but if you are a bird, a beetle or a rodent, your life has just been turned upside down.  Thus, there is chaos out of order; at least for certain species at that moment in time. As all life is inter-linked by the ecological system on which we all depend, that chaos can spread to disrupt or damage other life-forms, including our own species.

The question for me, is whether or not the “truth” of Genesis isn’t also the same truth which has the potential to destroy life by killing that which supports it; giving the human species a misplaced dominance over all other forms of life. The biological and ecological realities are rather different, and I cannot help thinking that a little bit of pantheism has a place in all our futures. After all, even the humblest of farmers has both fear and respect for the forces of nature, and we can learn from them.

So having dismissed what I would regard as egocentric religion and pseudo-science, and promoted the case for pantheism, you may be forgiven for thinking that I have no belief in anything, but this is not the case. It is simply that I share David’s deep suspicion of the “Jesus love ME” cult, and cannot subscribe to the all powerful “Big daddy” approach. In fact, if Christianity differs from other religions in one major respect, it is the belief that “God needs US” to do his work here on Earth, rather than agreeing with the decisions of a remote, omnipotent deity, as if we were children of God only when we obey all commandments without question. (For me personally, that is the least attractive feature of certain Islamic sects). That is the significance of “free will” and “acceptance,” which should be a part of all confirmation classes. (A conscripted army is never as efficient or as strong as one in which men and women choose to serve).

For reasons outlined above, I don’t think I can subscribe to David’s concept of “order out of disorder,” for I would regard disorder as part of life on Earth, and chaos an ever present feature of the universe. On the other hand, I know that there are forces which have somehow combined to create everything that we see, touch and are, which is a fairly daunting set of circumstances, even if they are a rare or even unique statistical phenomenon. This is the point at which I reach outwards and inwards towards the agnostic, for in one miserable lifetime, I know that I will never attain the slightest understanding of the mechanisms and circumstances of creation.

Rather than thinking of “order out of disorder,” I think I would prefer the concept of fulfilment; that of finding and releasing personal potential, in the spirit of love, diligent concern and practical good works. In some ways, this is not far removed from the spiritual balance of Buddhism, which is a very attractive religion in so many ways.

There only remains the ultimate mystery, of a Christ who transcends time and space, and who speaks as clearly to-day as he did 2,000 years ago. That, for me, is the real miracle of Christianity, and sets the example to which all should aspire in whatever ways they can; ever conscious of the fact that such perfection is unattainable.


MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: AnOrganCornucopia on April 30, 2012, 06:47:14 AM
I recall being encouraged to attend an Anglican “Charismatic service” back in the early 1970’s, which I found utterly offensive. It bordered on mass hysteria, with people throwing themselves on the deck, “speaking in tongues,” dancing around like Joyce Grenfell after a glass of sherry, hugging each other, constantly testifying their faith in “the spirit” while endlessly repeating the words “Jesus” and “Love.”

Quite simply, it was brain-washing by another name, and completely divorced from life; even the first blade of grass outside the church door. More worryingly, it seemed to be centred around a lost hippie-generation, who having run out of money to buy drugs since the children arrived, were reduced to religious “love-ins” but without the intimacy of “free love.” They even dressed in a kind of uniform....informal, ill-fitting, natural materials and restricted to miserable earth colours. My further impression was the belief that half of them could probably have benefitted from psychiatric counselling, while the younger ones, instead of wasting their time at this sort of “worship experience,” might have benefitted more from something a bit riskier. My version of this was watching “Plague of the Zombies,” followed by a tentative, late night stroll through a graveyard with my friends and their friends; half of whom I didn’t know, but with whom I anxiously held hands irrespective of gender.

Still, if you want to be spooked, just go “Charismatic” for awhile; then seek help from marginally more grounded religious folk.

The mere thought of this makes me shudder with abject but familiar horror.

The following three remarks from esteemed clerics are worth quoting. Be warned: they contain some strong language, which has in all but one instance been censored with asterisks. To go any further would be to bowdlerise their points. I apologise if any offence is caused but not for including these remarks. I request respectfully that the moderators leave them intact. The Roman Catholic chaplain at my father's university described this sort of thing as "psychological pseudo-release masquerading as religious and spiritual experience". His Episcopalian counterpart was rather more brutally concise, calling it "spiritual masturbation". A Catholic priest whom I met on a railway station had been raised in such an Anglican church: he told me he turned to Rome because his local parish was of a ritualistic inclination with a fine priest, while he was "so f***ing p***ed off at having so much bull**** rammed down my throat every week".

The last has particular resonance with me. In the vicinity of my hometown there are a number of Anglican joint benefices, almost all of only two churches. To one of them I now refer specifically. For reasons that will become apparent, I will not name it. Suffice to say only that one of the two churches (which I shall call Saint Martha's, though that dedication actually refers to another church in this area) is medieval and essentially modern liberal Anglo-Catholic, the other (which I shall call Saint Anselm's, though again that is not its dedication) is Edwardian and modern evangelical in style. My own experience of St Anselm's is principally of attending the funeral there of a very dear family friend, one of the clerics (dare I say it, the best) in that benefice whose ministry was mostly confined to "St Martha's". Very few of this church's regulars attended: the few that did were rather conspicuous. They sang the hymns confidently but extremely badly, their projection, tone, intonation and pitch all being absolutely hopeless. While doing so, they swayed on the spot, waving their right arms in the air, hands outstretched, thumbs held back against the palms. They all bore an amazingly glazed look, as though their bodies had bypassed their brain and was linking their eyes and facial muscles straight to the heart, which did not seem to be in good health, judging by the odd pallor which seemed to characterise many of them. Mr Mitchell is closer than he realises in using the terms "brainwashed" and "zombies". The sermon was execrable and did a great injustice to my esteemed friend. Thankfully, the eulogy, given by his stepson, was a masterpiece of concision, humanity and humility (and contained in a tribute to the deceased's spirituality and churchmanship a veiled but nevertheless direct attack on the production-line evangelicalism peddled by this church), so one did not feel angry that the whole service had gone badly. Perhaps more worrying is what I have to say next of the experiences of several of my friends with St Anselm's.

One of my friends, a highly intelligent 19-year-old girl, abandoned the more modern of these two churches a few years ago for similar reasons, though expressed in a more ladylike manner: any form of thinking was discouraged and questioning condemned outright.  This nearly destroyed her relationship with her sister, some three years younger: this sister is now finding herself in a very similar position, but thankfully the bond between the two is now recovering. More alarming are the experiences of two other teenage girls in the congregation, one of whom I know and like only a little but whose family I know well ("Emily", again false name), the other a close personal friend ("Katie", false name). Both experienced this same hammer-into-moulds attitude towards spirituality. Both also have been long-term depression sufferers. "Katie" has also self-harmed for several years: the same may also be true of "Emily", though I don't know. Poor old "Katie" has had a rotten run of luck with useless boyfriends and managed to convince herself that she is too ugly and stupid to attract a worthwhile boyfriend (when the reality is that she's a basically very nice-looking girl with real ability, though not academic). Both have attempted to talk to the church about their depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts but have faced a brick wall: they have simply been told that their thoughts are evil, Satan's work and that they must expunge them. "Katie's" boyfriend problems and her entirely natural emotions, appearance preoccupation and sexual instincts (though she is far from promiscuous) were likewise condemned as sinful. No attempt was made to help either of them, nor to direct them to those who could help. As their problems persisted, they were condemned as weak and sinful. Both have recently been released from lengthy hospital treatment having attempted (and nearly succeeded, in both cases) to commit suicide. Despite this, the brick wall remains in place: they have been informed that they are now damned to eternal hellfire, their suicide attempts simply denounced as evil, barbaric acts (rather than what they were, attempts to escape the evils pursuing them) and their depression and rock-bottom self-esteem condemned as unnatural. What's worse, their suffering (and attempts to end the same) were used as core material for several sermons on the subject of temptation, so EVERYONE in the church has been told ALL about it, the girls publicly names and shamed. The two girls can't go to church or even leave their homes without receiving loads of curious or downright nasty stares, having to endure direct or behind-their-back remarks, gossiping and sneering.

Forgive me, but...

*WHAT THE -OBSCENITY- HAPPENED TO CHRISTIAN CARE AND COMPASSION???!!!!*
(bellowed/screamed in frustrated rage)


Christ didn't minister to the Pharisees! He wasn't put on Earth for the salvation of the strong and the rich! Jesus of Nazareth was an ordinary man as much as he was God (and the Son thereof), a man with his own self-doubt, worries and, ultimately, on the cross, despair. His ministry was to the poor, the weak, the sick, the outcast! Look at the parable of the Good Samaritan! Remember what the Magnificat says! "He has shewed strength with his arm: he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts! He has put down the mighty from their seat and has exalted the humble and meek. He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent empty away!". This lot are the proud, mighty and as often as not rich of which the Magnificat speaks! They are twenty-first century Britain's Pharisees! Obnoxious, proud, arrogant, uppity, egotistical, bumptious, self-congratulatory, power-crazed, trouble-making, impertinent, meddlesome, gossiping, conceited, self-righteous and utterly insufferable Hellspawn! Where is their humility, their humanity, their spirituality, their compassion? It's not about God for them! It's all ME ME ME ME ME! Anyone who dares to upset their cosy little world and their self-built empires, or remind them that not everyone is so comfortable as they are, they either push out or sit back and watch as they destroy themselves!

As I think it was George Bernard Shaw observed, "The English consider themselves a race of self-made men, thereby relieving the Almighty of a dreadful responsibility"...


Mere words, no matter how heartfelt, angry and obscene, can scarcely do justice to the fury felt by many, myself included, close to either or both of these two unfortunate individuals. Some of us had seen this coming for a long time and had done our damnedest to stave it off, to prevent it happening, to love and support one or the other or both of the two girls through the depths of their despair and to help them out of it: all our work (and so nearly two lives) destroyed in the name of righteousness. How Godly is that?!?!

“Free will” and “acceptance” should be a part of all confirmation classes. (A conscripted army is never as efficient or as strong as one in which men and women choose to serve).

I am immensely grateful that this formed a central part of my catechism classes. I have long since discarded most of what I was taught for the zealous garbage that it was, but it was drummed into me that lashing out at God and losing one's faith over the times when God has apparently been absent, in one's own personal travails and in the darkest periods of the world's history, is not healthy; that these episodes are not God's work, but either that of the Devil or the consequences of the free will bestowed (in my view, a most grievous mistake) upon humanity, or often a combination of both. While, as I have made apparent, I am no fan of ecstatic evangelical churchmanship (of whatever denomination), I think that it is important to remember that God loves us all, for all our many and manifest failings. Few and far between are those who are irredeemably evil, even if I've thought how much I'd like to kill a few people I've encountered, who have made my life and that of my friend "Katie" needlessly difficult out of pure spite...

the spiritual balance of Buddhism, which is a very attractive religion in so many ways.

Is Buddhism a religion? Buddhism is, from my very limited understanding of it, atheist in nature, which surely makes it a philosophy rather than a religion. I find its pursuit of tranquility very attractive. I know that a Buddhist monastery called "Cittaviveka" was established in 1979 in West Sussex when a country estate (dominated by a forest, interestingly called "Hammer Wood", albeit a fairly common Sussex name but still an interesting coincidence!) in the very isolated and deeply rural landscape west of Midhurst was purchased for this purpose. It is centred on an 1860s mansion called Chithurst House (so named after the nearby village) which was, I believe, in a desperate condition before the Buddhists took it over. They have proved excellent stewards of the house, their other buildings and lands (and have recently had a new hall, in the form of a traditional Sussex-style oak-framed barn, erected). Many is the time that I have thought about joining them!

RANT OVER!!!

It may now be a quarter to seven in the morning but I'm now too fired up to sleep and I REALLY need that whisky now...
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: revtonynewnham on April 30, 2012, 11:19:02 AM
Hi

It's important to realise that there are good and bad in all varieties of the Christian church.  I've been to a number of "charismatic" gatherings over the years - some have been good & deeply spiritual & uplifting - others were poor, sometimes self-indulgent, and over-emphasise certain aspects of practice - often to the detriment of others (mainly speaking in tongues and "spectacular" healings, etc are over-emphasised). 

I've also been to a number of other church services - some have been good, others poor.

This is probably inevitable - the church is made of sinful human beings - no matter how much some would like to think otherwise!

Add to that the fact that certain styles of worship are more helpful to some people than others - we're all different!

It's easy to criticise - especially worship styles that we personally don't connect with.  Just remember that the only Biblical restriction on worship is that it should be "in spirit & in truth".

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on April 30, 2012, 01:10:45 PM
What a good reply Richard, because it isn’t detached from reality.

Arrogance and self-righteousness are the enemies of compassion and care, and although seldom arrogant or self-righteous, I have been insensitive on occasion; perhaps not fully appreciating a particular problem.

One such was a teenage girl who claimed that she was possessed, and being rather dismissive of this sort of thing, I asked her why she should think that. (The situation was that of a youth group, with quite a few young offenders in the room).

My choice of words was unfortunate, “Why do you think that? What could you possibly have done which was worse than what Andrew has just told us?  He doesn’t claim to be possessed.”

“I murdered my brother when I was 12,” she replied.

That brought me back down to earth with a bump, I can tell you. Fortunately, she opened up and retold the entire story, and it seems that she had been abused by her step-father for years, while her younger brother was treated like a prince by the same person. It’s a long story, but the short version is that she came to understand why she had done what she did; realising that she wasn’t possessed at all. The last time I heard of her, she had married successfully and had children of her own; the family thriving quite nicely.

All’s well that ends well, but what a terrible childhood she endured, and what a burden to carry around. Imagine what might have happened if I had agreed with her self-diagnosis, and put it all down to “sin.”

George Bernard-Shaw was hysterically funny when he wanted to be, and when it came to pricking bubbles, he was the absolute master. I love the story about the super-rich Duchess, when over the dinner table he entered into an exchange with her.

“For instance madam, would you sleep with me for £5?” Shaw asked.

“Certainly not Mr Shaw!” Came the indignant reply.

“Well then, let me make a further proposition. Would you sleep with me for £1,000,000?” Shaw’s eyes twinkled.

“Well Mr Shaw, when you put it that way, I would have to consider the proposition very carefully,” the Duchess replied.

“So madam, I think we’ve established what you are; it’s merely the price we’re haggling about!” Shaw answered wickedly.

Pure genius!

Buddhism is a deeply spiritual thing, but without instant deities. A philosophy certainly, but one with images, shrines and meditation; placing it very close to religion. It’s very interesting to see what is happening in Burma at the present time. How the mighty are subdued by peaceful opposition!

Best,

MM
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: AnOrganCornucopia on April 30, 2012, 03:07:07 PM
Another fascinating tale!

I find GB-S an interesting character, but he and I depart company rather violently over the matter of Brahms, whose music he detested and for which I have considerable fondness and admiration.
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on April 30, 2012, 10:28:54 PM
Hi!

It's great to see this thread spawning further thoughts . . . if only perhaps to draw attention to the organ from clerics who have neglected it . . . and to remind some of them in the course of presenting banalities that their organist sitting quietly on the bench might have something deep in the corner which might attract more into their churches than that which they propound.

Quote
For reasons outlined above, I don’t think I can subscribe to David’s concept of “order out of disorder,” for I would regard disorder as part of life on Earth, and chaos an ever present feature of the universe.

Perhaps actually we agree for the reason that by definition there has to be disorder from which order can arise. Disorder is the norm from which something special originates and shines through . . . If there were no disorder, order would neither be recognisable nor comprehensible.

"God" certainly has purposes for the forces of disorder, as demonstrated by poor Judas Iscariot, and the anti-matter electron, the proton which is allowed to live only for a microsecond and which we use in "Positron Emission Tomography". The point is that humans have free will and choice, to work for God and shine eternal, or to work for God as part of the forces against him and shine only for a microsecond merely for His purposes to overcome. People can contemplate "Which would you rather be? Temporary or eternal? Which would you rather do?" . . .

Similarly I have tried to express the dichotomy of Genesis 2 above in both its meanings, capable of a parable about safety within the garden protected by God and doing what appears to be His work by obeying Him, as well as the parable of the human growing up out of and beyond the garden to go and grow the crops of God, bringing order to come forth arising from the background of weeds. People can contemplate "Which would you rather be - a crop or a weed?" . . .

Part of the magic of the text is its duality and the resultant enigmas that sustain thought, further thought and interest.

Does God really want us to be kept as animals within His garden or were we expected as humans to grow up and go and do His work outside the garden? Is this not a story of finding faith beyond belief and carrying it forward?

Best wishes

David P

Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on May 01, 2012, 12:01:49 PM
Hi!

This morning The Times carries the news that there are more applicants wanting now to enter holy orders. As the organ which was bulldozed which appears photographed on the front page of the forum was at the convent demolished and turned into housing at Staplehurst in Kent, the issue of the Garden of Eden is directly relevant to the survival of organs.

The issue has gone to the root of monastic orders for centuries: is God's desire achieved more enclosed in the God's garden of a monastery or convent, or outside among the thistles, thorns and weeds growing crops and making God's garden wider?

Whether or not one accepts the Genesis 1 God as the process of creating order out of disorder, light in the darkness, live out of the void, the parable interpretations of Genesis 2 have much to offer in understanding the human condition. It even applies in a parliamentary situation where an MP has to consider whether he serves best within his party or crosses the floor to grow crops with the other side.

Perhaps such readings of the biblical texts have something to offer to beleivers, agnostics and atheists alike . . . ? For that reason they have a wider part to play in being brought into prominence in schools.

Best wishes

David P

Postscript: With respect to the last post and the necessity for there to be chaos for within which order to come forth, as light in the darkness, Orwell demonstrated the hell of constant light without darkness in Room 101. So darkness has to be part of the system: the devil, his temptations and his works, Judas Iscariot, darkness, chaos, are all made use of in God's universe - it is arranged for order always to triumph out of chaos, light out over dark - dark cannot put out the light but is itself put out by the light, good over evil. The bad, evil, dark, chaos is made use of in God's order out of which to create, but is extinguished as soon as it is used. The eternal triumphs over the temporary.

There is a duality implicit here but with the same asymmetry of the existence of matter in preference to antimatter and such dualities are expressed in other philosophies in common. Siva - the creator the destroyer - Apollo likewise but also the contrasts of Apollo with Dionysus, and the light/day - darkness/night contrasts of Apollo and his twin Artemis.
Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: MusingMuso on May 02, 2012, 12:56:55 PM
Quote from: David Pinnegar link=topic=1273.msg6362#msg6362 date=13358

People can contemplate "Which would you rather be - a crop or a weed?" . . .


[/quote


============


I think you are being very "weedist."

What's wrong with weeds? They have rights too!

For years, I carefully cultivated and cleared the ground around some pretty little purple flowers, with russet coloured leaves, which used to droop their heads at night and go to sleep. They would perk up in the morning, and I found them delightful.

My life was ruined by a neighbour who said, "You need to rip those weeds up."

"Weeds?" I enquired.

I ignored him and defended the right of those weeds to live on equal terms with the roses and hold their heads up high; even feeding them with baby-bio periodically.

I told you I wasn't a horticulturalist!  :)

MM



Title: Re: The thinking man's Jesus
Post by: David Pinnegar on May 04, 2012, 11:21:33 PM
:-)

Yes! I admit it! I'm a weedist! And my wife is a Rhododendronist.

Heaven help any rambling poisoning spreading rhododendron that spreads its limbs to choke all asunder in her path with intentions towards the rubbish heap and a bonfire, however alluring the flower!

Heaven help any untoward bracken stealing the light from all below and the ragwort spiking the hay . . .

Best wishes

David P