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RonPrice

Apologetics Anyone?

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Since there are so many questions raised and issues discussed concerning people’s basic assumptions about life, about their philosophy, about their religious beliefs, indeed, about their very approach to reality and the way their society goes about organizing things, it seemed like a useful exercise, useful at least to me and hopefully to some others at this site, to say a few things about: My Position and Beliefs: My Religion. Religion, in the sense that I am using it here, is the set of values, beliefs and attitudes each of us has as we go about our daily life at a particular moment in time, in this case, at the time of my writing of this post on the internet and in the case of the person reading this post, at the time of the response of that reader. I hope this opening note of some 1700 words provides a general, a useful, a helpful context for any continuing discussion you and I may have. If the note I strike is too long, I advise readers to just click me off, a simple enough exercise of the hand and the mind.-Ron Price in Australia.

_______________________

Apologetics is a branch of systematic theology, although some experience its thrust in religious studies or philosophy of religion courses. Some encounter it on the internet for the first time in a more populist and usually much less academic form. As I see it, apologetics is primarily concerned with the protection of a position, the refutation of the issues raised by that position's assailants and, in the larger sense, the exploration of that position in the context of prevailing philosophies and standards in a secular society, a religious society, indeed, any society past or present. All of us defend our positions whatever these positions are: atheistic, theistic, agnostic, humanistic, skeptic, cynic, realist, pragmatist and any one of a multitude of religions, denominations, sects, cults, isms and wasms.

 

Apologetics, to put it slightly differently, is concerned with answering both general and critical inquiries from others. In the main, though, apologetics deals with criticism of a position and dealing with that criticism in as rational a manner as possible. Apologetics can help explore the teachings of a religion or of a philosophy in the context of the prevailing religions and philosophies of the day as well as in the context of the common laws and standards of a secular society. Although the capacity to engage in critical self-reflection on the fundamentals of some position is a prerequisite of the task of engaging in apologetics, apologetics derives much of its impetus from a commitment to a position.

 

Given the role of apologetics in religious and philosophical history and in the development of the texts and ideas that are part and parcel of that history, it is surprising that contemporary communities generally undervalue its importance and often are not even aware of the existence of this sub-discipline of philosophy. Authors, writers, editors of journals and leaders known for defending points in arguments, for engaging in conflicts or for taking up certain positions that receive great popular scrutiny and/or are minority views engage in what today are essentially forms of secular apologetics.

 

Naturally in life, we all take positions on all sorts of topics, subjects, religions and philosophies. Often that position is inarticulate and poorly thought out if given any thought at all. With that said, though, the apologetics I engage in here is a never-ending exercise with time out for the necessary and inevitable quotidian tasks of life: eating, sleeping, drinking and a wide range of leisure activities. The apologetics that concerns me is not so much Christian or Islamic apologetics or one of a variety of those secular apologetics I referred to above, but Baha'i apologetics.

 

There are many points of comparison and contrast between any form of apologetics which I won't go into here. Readers here might like to check out Wikipedia for a birds-eye-view of the subject. Christians and Muslims will have the opportunity to defend their respective religions by the use of apologetics; secular humanists can also argue their cases if they so desire here. I in turn will defend the Baha'i Faith by the use of apologetics. In the process each of us will, hopefully, learn something about our respective Faiths, our religions, our various and our multitudinous positions, some of which we hold to our hearts dearly and some of which are of little interest.

 

At the outset, then, in this my first posting, my intention is simply to make this start, to state what you might call "my apologetics position." This brief statement indicates, in broad outline, where I am coming from in the weeks and months ahead. -Ron Price with thanks to Udo Schaefer, "Baha'i Apologetics?" Baha'i Studies Review, Vol. 10, 2001/02.

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What's wrong with slave morality? Recent psychological evidence indicates that to some extent altruism is a natural human instinct and has the potential to make us authentically happy.

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What's wrong with slave morality? Recent psychological evidence indicates that to some extent altruism is a natural human instinct and has the potential to make us authentically happy.

I love your stories bro. They're cool.

religion is shit.

 

next

^

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Baha'ism is uniquely dumb because all religions maintain mutually exclusive claims. Jesus cannot be God's son at the same time that Jesus is only a prophet of God at the same time that Jesus never existed at the same time that Jesus was just a crackpot. Muslims and Christians and Jews cannot all be right at the same time.

 

Also:

This is the catch-all forum for real discussion. It has a high-brow name to discourage mindless posts, which should be taken to Misc.
Edited by Chaos
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I think atheists are simply misinformed. They don't mean any real harm.

 

See, I can be an apologist too.

 

Stop imposing your non-religion on me!

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need a tl;dr version bro.

The best part is that the post would be about 1/2 as long without the disclaimer about how long the post will be.

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see that's just rebellion for the sake of being rebellious. seriously, what's your story?

 

absolutely not. i dont think nontheist have any burden of proof of any kind. false belief bad, judge.

 

in the end, sects are political organizations, nothing more. To define them by their beliefs rather than their actions isn't helpful. Just as democrats can have a party platform of universal health care, we should judge them on their actions.

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absolutely not. i dont think nontheist have any burden of proof of any kind. false belief bad, judge.

 

in the end, sects are political organizations, nothing more. To define them by their beliefs rather than their actions isn't helpful. Just as democrats can have a party platform of universal health care, we should judge them on their actions.

 

You didn't say theism bad. You said religion bad. I'm not asking you to prove there isn't God. I am curious as to why you are emphatically anti-religion.

 

For example:

 

If you were a child whose family was aided by world vision & your parents had a favorable view of the Christians in it's local church regardless of whether or not you thought there was God you wouldn't necessarily think religion was bad.

 

On the other hand, if you were a dissident during the Spanish Inquisition, I can see where you would have your scruples.

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actually, i answered that. Religious groups are political organizations, and we should just them as such.

 

Religion can only do harm. To suggest that the compassion of human beings wouldn't be present without official doctrines of belief and commitments to organizations is ludicrous.

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Religion can only do harm. To suggest that the compassion of human beings wouldn't be present without official doctrines of belief and commitments to organizations is ludicrous.

And that's why the largest institutions in our world are derived around helping people, right?

 

:wavey:

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actually, i answered that. Religious groups are political organizations, and we should just them as such.

 

Religion can only do harm. To suggest that the compassion of human beings wouldn't be present without official doctrines of belief and commitments to organizations is ludicrous.

 

Yeah! We should be able to engage in incest!

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will you guys please shut the fuck up. adults are conversing here.

 

actually, i answered that. Religious groups are political organizations, and we should just them as such.

 

Religion can only do harm. To suggest that the compassion of human beings wouldn't be present without official doctrines of belief and commitments to organizations is ludicrous.

 

in a thread about a particular policy one expects you to uphold or critique it; you would discuss the dem's universal health policy in a thread about the dem's universal health policy. so if you really treated religious groups as political parties, in this particular thread you would have supported/critiqued certain doctrines & commitments of Baha'i [or christianity], which is in the realm of theology/apologetics. and it would have looked something like this: critique of 2 christian doctrines to justify 3rd

 

so even if one goes by your definition of religion as politics, what you posted is like... in the middle of the discussion of the democratic party's policy one saying: "political parties can only do harm. to suggest that political ideology is necessary for social order is ludicrous." it's like, awesome, i dig on discussions about anarchy -- so why are you an anarchist? to answer the question would be to lay out chronologically the development of such an opinion -- there are usually good personal stories, authors & philosophy behind deviance.

 

unless, of course, it is rebellion for the sake of being rebellious without a comprehensive understanding of what it is one is rejecting. and the reality behind that tends to be more asinine, image-conscious things like a want to conform to fashion cliques or other general peer acceptance related things. (in the case of anarchy)

 

it's becoming increasingly difficult for me to take people (not you necessarily) who hate on christianity [read: religion] seriously when -- especially in this country -- they haven't read through the New Testament [relevant texts.] it's like, come on didn't you take western civ? to hate something entails an understanding of what it is, no?

 

my opinion on ignorance is this: ignorance of someone/thng is acceptable if 1. one feels neutral about the particular subject or 2. it is irrelevant to the people/society one lives in. otherwise, it's a terrible, ugly thing.

 

i digress.

 

i like asking about people's opinions like yours, foremost, cause it's interesting. you obviously do not feel neutral about the issue of religion. i would like to know what it is you know about it that i may not. the reason i want to know is because it is relevant to the people/society i live in. cool?

 

tl;dr -- so, when did you come to the conclusion that religion is bunk?

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If you are asking when I became an atheist -- very young, probably second grade or whenever they start catechism in Catholicism (for public school kids). They told me about the trinity, heaven and hell and it sounded like scare tactics to get you to behave how they wanted you to. And, I wasn't much for holy ghosts. I asked my parents (father protestant, mother catholic) if I quit and they said no, it would kill your grandparents. So, even then, I could see it as a set of cultural traditions (no matter the content of belief) and less of the act of praising a creator.

 

Theism is about the content of belief. Religion is about organization, power, and control.

 

Theism is filled with false belief (im not going to get into justifiable belief, as thats one of the areas in my undergrad i did not perform well). There's no real impact to just having false belief, if everyone lived in a vacuum. But we live in the real world.

 

Let me give you a statistic: Fewer than 4 in 10 believe in evolution.

 

Its amazing that more than 28% of the population believes in real science because:

 

many teachers simply do not believe in evolution themselves. Another cited reason for lack of evolutionary education is that many teachers do not have the knowledge themselves to approach the touchy topic in their classrooms with enough confidence. How bad is the problem? The study found that only 28 percent of high-school biology teachers followed the National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences recommendations for teaching evolution in the classroom

 

http://www.examiner.com/astronomy-in-cleveland/new-study-science-teachers-favor-creationism

 

There is serious socio-economic harm in a fundamental scientific illiteracy, at a personal, communitarian and nation-state level.

 

Our governor may remove over $1billion from our states GDP by changing the rules for stem cell research in our state (handing the entire scientific economy to california, where their former republican governor encouraged the research). Whats the difference? Well, one was born in Austria, the other, Colorado Springs (home of focus on (your own damn) family).

 

To answer the charitable claim: thats YOUR tax dollars at work, in the name of religious organizations. The Catholic Church, for example, pays salaries 2x the donations they take in.

 

I've studied the bible, and less so the quoran. The new testament is interesting case -- christians should be called Paulists because it was written 200 years later and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles away, basing the claims on "100" eyewitnesses who were long dead and and had absolutely no connection to the author. If that's what you'd like to call a source document, I have serious concerns about your schools history department.

 

So forgive me if I look down with disdain at intellectually bankrupt people like Dinesh D'Souza (who's uppercast education and his parents interaction in colonial administration that made him a christian -- somehow different from President Obama's interaction with "colonialism") who still maintain, not the literal truth of the words of the bible, but its complete historical accuracy.

 

Are you ignorant of the history of nontheism? I recommend Jennifer Michael Hecht's Doubt. Ignorance is only justifiable if 1. one feels neutral about the particular subject or 2. it is irrelevant to the people/society one lives in. otherwise, it's a terrible, ugly thing.

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Its amazing that more than 28% of the population believes in real science because:

I stopped reading here. You have the cart before the horse. They come up with a theory and try and find facts to prove it. This is not the scientific process, it's backwards. You take facts and then come up with a conclusion, not the inverse. This perverse science is pervading actual intelligent discussion, and will continue to do so unless it's pointed out as a flawed process.

 

ps; you realize that it's a theory because it's incomplete, right? (AKA homo erectus erectus AKA Java man) - reviewed as parts of a man, monkey and pig, found over 50 yards from each other. But was this "link" even under criticism in the "scientific" community when these facts were provoked at the time of its discovery? Of course not. Because it did not follow their preconceived ideals. You can follow the entire fossil record and find there is GREAT discrepancy over every single link, but the dissenting voices are silenced because we all know those creationists don't know anything about science!

 

 

W. Howells, Harvard, "A great legend has grown up to plague both paleontologists and anthropologists. It is that one of these wondrous men can take a tooth or a small and broken piece of bone, gaze at it, and pass his hand over his forehead once or twice, and then take a sheet of paper and draw a picture of what the whole animal looked like as it tramped the Tertiary terrain. If this were quite true, the anthropologists would make the F.B.I. look like a troop of Boy Scouts.", Mankind So Far, p.138.

 

David Pilbeam, Yale, "I am also aware of the fact that, at least in my own subject of paleoanthropology, ‘theory’ - heavily influenced by implicit ideas - almost always dominates ‘data.’ ...Ideas that are totally unrelated to actual fossils have dominated theory building, which in turn strongly influences the way fossils are interpreted." Bones Of Contention, p.127.

 

 

Richard C. Lewontin, Harvard , "Look, I'm a person who says in this book [Human Diversity, 1982] that we don't know anything about the ancestors of the human species. All the fossils which have been dug up and are claimed to be ancestors - we haven't the faintest idea whether they are ancestors. ...All you've got is Homo sapiens there, you've got that fossil there, you've got another fossil there...and it's up to you to draw the lines. Because there are no lines.", Harper's, 2/84.

 

J. Lowenstein & Adriene Zihlman, "But anatomy and the fossil record cannot be relied on for defining evolutionary lineages. Yet, paleontologist persist in doing just this. ...the subjective element in this approach to building evolutionary trees, which many paleontologist advocate with almost religious fervor, is demonstrated by the outcome: there is no single family tree on which they agree." Nature, 1992, Vol.355, p.78.

 

ps; fuck your carbon dating if you don't understand how C14 forms in the atmosphere over given generations

Edited by The Incredible Hulk?

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I was raised Catholic, but my familiarity with 19th-century philosophy has really burned me out on this debate. People give way too many shits about religion relative to its actual importance in modern society. I don't want to participate in the debate as a whole. Just one point:

 

They come up with a theory and try and find facts to prove it. This is not the scientific process, it's backwards. You take facts and then come up with a conclusion, not the inverse. This perverse science is pervading actual intelligent discussion, and will continue to do so unless it's pointed out as a flawed process.

 

That's not really fair, or accurate. Go read a philosophy of science book. Very few people are still committed to this view of the model of science (basically naive Baconian) because "go crunch a bunch of numbers and do a bunch of experiments to generate a bunch of data without any presuppositions" is terribly unproductive. Maybe back in the 18th century, when we still had to figure out, like, how electricity worked by zapping a bunch of different substances, but today, you have to have a theoretical model to proceed from in order to constrain your avenues of inquiry in terms of which questions you decide to try and answer. Similarly, in paleoanthropology.

 

Without a theory model to attempt to incorporate new evidence in to, or to find ways to generate new evidence (for example, a theory about migration patterns and group behavior may lead you to assume that new fossils might turn up in X location) you're hopelessly lost. A pile of bones does not make an argument, and it never will. And if you don't have enough data, or your dating techniques are flawed, so be it. You still have to work with the resources available to you, and to try to give them some coherence. The theoretical structure is an essential element, I would argue the most essential element, to the work of science.

 

"I, for one, will freely admit that I have never heard paleoanthropological data speak. Data, in my view, cannot exist outside of a theoretical framework, and the relation of data to such a framework lies in their potential power of refutation. No data can really "prove" a theory correct."

 

Data and Theory in Paleoanthropological Controversies

M. H. Wolpoff

American Anthropologist

New Series, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Mar., 1976), pp. 94-96

 

EDIT: For philosophy of science books I continue to recommend Understanding Philosophy of Science by James Ladyman. It's clearly and interestingly written (for science rather than philosophy majors, which I actually prefer), and although Ladyman is from LSE and is a closet Popperian his treatment is very balanced.

Edited by Screech

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I stopped reading here. You have the cart before the horse. They come up with a theory and try and find facts to prove it. This is not the scientific process, it's backwards. You take facts and then come up with a conclusion, not the inverse. This perverse science is pervading actual intelligent discussion, and will continue to do so unless it's pointed out as a flawed process.

 

ps; you realize that it's a theory because it's incomplete, right? (AKA homo erectus erectus AKA Java man) - reviewed as parts of a man, monkey and pig, found over 50 yards from each other. But was this "link" even under criticism in the "scientific" community when these facts were provoked at the time of its discovery? Of course not. Because it did not follow their preconceived ideals. You can follow the entire fossil record and find there is GREAT discrepancy over every single link, but the dissenting voices are silenced because we all know those creationists don't know anything about science!

 

 

W. Howells, Harvard, "A great legend has grown up to plague both paleontologists and anthropologists. It is that one of these wondrous men can take a tooth or a small and broken piece of bone, gaze at it, and pass his hand over his forehead once or twice, and then take a sheet of paper and draw a picture of what the whole animal looked like as it tramped the Tertiary terrain. If this were quite true, the anthropologists would make the F.B.I. look like a troop of Boy Scouts.", Mankind So Far, p.138.

 

David Pilbeam, Yale, "I am also aware of the fact that, at least in my own subject of paleoanthropology, ‘theory’ - heavily influenced by implicit ideas - almost always dominates ‘data.’ ...Ideas that are totally unrelated to actual fossils have dominated theory building, which in turn strongly influences the way fossils are interpreted." Bones Of Contention, p.127.

 

 

Richard C. Lewontin, Harvard , "Look, I'm a person who says in this book [Human Diversity, 1982] that we don't know anything about the ancestors of the human species. All the fossils which have been dug up and are claimed to be ancestors - we haven't the faintest idea whether they are ancestors. ...All you've got is Homo sapiens there, you've got that fossil there, you've got another fossil there...and it's up to you to draw the lines. Because there are no lines.", Harper's, 2/84.

 

J. Lowenstein & Adriene Zihlman, "But anatomy and the fossil record cannot be relied on for defining evolutionary lineages. Yet, paleontologist persist in doing just this. ...the subjective element in this approach to building evolutionary trees, which many paleontologist advocate with almost religious fervor, is demonstrated by the outcome: there is no single family tree on which they agree." Nature, 1992, Vol.355, p.78.

 

ps; fuck your carbon dating if you don't understand how C14 forms in the atmosphere over given generations

 

oh, you are one of those. my deepest apologies to anybody near you.

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oh, you are one of those. my deepest apologies to anybody near you.

Faith is a two way road.

You can patronize me all you want, but the depths of your theory is of no significance when it presents itself as if it were from the mouth of a 3rd grader. (LOOK MOMMY! THE MONKEY LOOKS LIKE THE MAN! THEY MUST BE THE SAME!)

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I've never understood how evolution explains complex organs like the eye.

 

The rate of human mutation isn't high enough that it would have emerged all at once, and there's no evolutionary incentive for a half finished organ.

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