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Comments by Marcus Small

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 55 by Marcus Small

It does feel a little bit like the Iraq war protests, 'Not in my name' was the slogan. So what are we doing Giles Fraser and Merlinaeus? Giles is doing something, I suppose, he does have a nationally heard voice, you and I don't have. But is it all hot air? Yes of course there the petitions, I have signed them all.

But here is the thing, the conservative evangelical tail is wagging the church of England dog. Why? because it has money, that money gives it power, power out all proportion to its numbers.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”"

And there is the rub, when you need their money, they have the power.

Brother Francis was right, and we have much to let go of.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 17:32:21 UTC | #947226

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Comment 239 by Alan4discussion :

Comment 202 by Marcus Small

But here something that might offer you peace of mind. If one can say nothing about God, if God is beyond all predicates, then we are left to make our own minds up about is right and wrong. If we can know nothing of God’s will, then it follows that we cannot use God to justify our actions, be they good or bad.

True! But no-one has ever shown how they would achieve an understanding of "God's will" even assuming a god existed. Thousands have CLAIMED that numerous contradictory and destructive actions (such as wars with god(s) on both sides) were known to them, as "god's will". - (Referred to by RD as "The God Delusion"!)

They rest on our own authority upon our individual autonomy and we have to take responsibility for them.

I have no problem with being expected to be responsible for my own decisions. The problem is with those who wish to avoid responsibility, by claiming they are being directed by god(s)!

It seems that we are in agreement.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 17:05:57 UTC | #947224

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 240 by Marcus Small

Comment 237 by irate_atheist

@Marcus - Why do you, an intelligent decent caring thoughtful individual, have anything whatsoever to do with this utter tosh?

First I take it that you are not taking issue with my analysis which the best of my knowledge is not tosh. It’s a very good question, to answer, I will begin with a story, not mine Thomas Merton’s. In the months before his untimely, accidental death, Merton, a Trappist monk, paid a visit to the Buddhist shrine at Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka. Here, huge figures of the Buddha have been carved out of the rock-face. Merton later wrote in his diary:

Looking at these figures I was suddenly, almost forcibly, jerked clean out of the habitual, half-tied vision of things, and an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious. The thing about all this is that there is no puzzle, no problem, and really no ‘mystery.’ All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya (the essence of all beings). . . everything is emptiness and everything is compassion. I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination. I know and have seen what I was obscurely looking for. I don’t know what else remains but I have now seen and have pierced through the surface and have got beyond the shadow and the disguise.

I recognise the experience, not so profound, and his subjective experience is something I can only glimpse through his writing, but similar things have happened to me. It is enough to convince me, for the time being at least, that this circle I inhabit is not entirely vicious.

I think that we are in a very non dogmatic religious era, religious institutions don't like that, but they powerless, thank goodness, to do anything about it.

This of course may well be tosh.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 17:03:24 UTC | #947222

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 236 by Marcus Small

No one sees the same rainbow as another and there are many gods as there are believers.

Should be,

No one sees the same rainbow as another and there are as many gods as there are believers.

Comment 235 by Alan4discussion

True, but it does not stop with Xtian versions! - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deities This brings us back to the internal personal god-images, within the individual spirituality of the human brain, which most atheists recognise in terms of neurology.

as with the sun being the single source of light for all our rainbows, so then perhaps there is a single source of divinity for all our gods, either our neurology, or something else.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 12:37:27 UTC | #947191

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 234 by Marcus Small

Comment 233 by susanlatimer Comment 232 by Questioning Kat

On god or gods, I been saying something similar for almost all the time I have been here (since 2007). It is not really possible to speak of the God of the bible. The god of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, mostly referred by the name El (although not exclusively, but then one must not forget the work of redactors), is not the same as as the YHWH of Moses. Neither is the religion the same, the practices are very different. Compare the 'rather do it yourself' family religion of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with that of the tribal and far more priestly religion of Moses. Both however worship local gods, particular to their situation. One would be hard pushed to call the religion of Moses monotheistic, henotheistic yes, but not monotheistic. One has to wait until the exile in Babylon before monotheism as we might understand it developed.

Before anyone says but hold on a moment what about 'chapter x of the book of X, verse x' doesn't it say......

It may well do, but don't forget the final redactions of most of these texts did not take place until after the exile, who were trying to harmonise the early henotheistic texts with the now developed monotheism.

Again the god of the NT is different and similar, as are the gods of the Church fathers, and beyond. I would say along with Ronald Hutton that one should not speak about Christianity, rather speak about many christianities, across, time, geography, social economic class and so on.

No one sees the same rainbow as another and there are many gods as there are believers.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 09:41:10 UTC | #947169

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 231 by Marcus Small

Comment 212 by Mr DArcy :

but I prefer hard facts to idle speculation.

Thing is I agree, hence the hole in the doughnut (sorry about that), You can fill that hole with idle speculation, or you can leave it empty, a blank space, filled neither with God's existence nor God's non existence, (it has been said that God can no more exist than the ground can stand out from itself, but my Latin is not up to pursuing that). So we are left with an agnostic space, somewhere between and including Richard's 6.9 and 1.1, about which all talk is meaningless, it is unresolved.

We can only meaningfully speak about the 'dough', that is religious people, their practice and experience.

In other words, we must leave theology behind and venture back, for me at least into the humanities. The humanities whose job it is to explore and inquire into, to reflect upon the human condition.

The last thing the powerful want is people doing that, that is exploring and inquiring into, reflecting upon the human condition. We might discover we have nothing to lose but the our chains, and that would never do.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 13:35:55 UTC | #947046

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 214 by Marcus Small

Comment 212 by Mr DArcy :

I suppose I'm unromantic, but I prefer hard facts to idle speculation. Facts take work, speculation is the philosophy of guesswork, and costs little effort.

I am reminded of 1066 and All That, in which the Cavaliers were characterised as "Wrong but Wromantic". Please note though that I am not comparing atheists to the Roundheads who were characterised as being "Right but Repulsive".

So as you push off from the shore,
won't you turn your head once more
and make your peace with everyone?
For those who choose to stay,
will live just one more day
to do the things they should have done.
And as you cross the wilderness,
spinning in your emptiness:
you feel you have to pray.
Looking for a sign that the Universal Mind has written you into the Passion Play.
Skating away, skating away,
skating away on the thin ice of the New Day.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 18:59:44 UTC | #946915

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 211 by Marcus Small

Comment 209 by QuestioningKat :

Yes, Catholics who do not believe in transubstantiation should fess up. Catholics who use birth control should leave the church. Also Catholic who doesn't agree with the renewal of baptismal promise should also leave. I recall skipping several "I do" responses nearly thirty years ago. It clued me into realizing I was inauthentic and helped motivate me to leave the church.

I am all for people honest about what they believe. But if they are not thrown out by their church, and they are happy to stay. Why should they leave? I still don't have a convincing answer to the question. Perhaps I have not asked it properly.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 17:47:48 UTC | #946906

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 207 by Marcus Small

Strangebrew

Well not so much peace of mind , more an affirmation in that is precisely how I live my life...and many here do likewise.

Seems like there is cigarette paper between us.

I wrote this in response to some Amos wrote above about rules.

Amos what you say about rules is interesting. I have always regarded rules as being about how one lives, but you are applying it to belief. Maybe many believers do too. That I think it is a mistake. My own rule is about how I live. My personal rule comes in three sections; How I should live, simply, with relational integrity, mindful of the needs of others. What I should do, meditate, study, serve as best I can. Finally that I should aspire to be humble, joyful, compassionate and loving. Belief is implicit in this, but it is secondary not primary. This is an experiment in living, who knows what beliefs will arise as result of it. Perhaps none, so long as it helps me to live decently, that’s all that matters to me.

The point is that I personally got there via religion.

Bonhoeffer asks an interesting question in his letters from prison.

Are we to fall upon a few unfortunate people in their hour of need and exercise a sort of religious compulsion on them? If we don’t want to do all that, if our final judgment must be that the western form of Christianity, too, was only a preliminary stage to a complete absence of religion, what kind of situation emerges for us, for the church? How can Christ become the Lord of the religionless as well? Are there religionless Christians? If religion is only a garment of Christianity—and even this garment has looked very different at different times—then what is religionless Christianity?

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 16:11:32 UTC | #946887

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 205 by Marcus Small

how come you gyrate for a competitor in matters 'spiritual'?

Why not? But lets be clear, I am speaking for myself, not for any one else, although there are many like me. Thomas Merton, Bede Griffiths, Henri le Saux, Cyprian Consiglio, just to name a few, all of them Catholic monks BTW, most of them now dead. A different age the 1960s, in some ways we've gone backwards.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 15:43:38 UTC | #946882

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Comment 200 by God fearing Atheist

If the Catholic church stuck to "doughnut dancing", then even RD would probably leave them along. But they don't. They spread disinformation and AIDS across Africa, etc, etc.

Its not my remit to defend the RCC, far from it.

As I said above.

If one can say nothing about God, if God is beyond all predicates, then we are left to make our own minds up about is right and wrong. If we can know nothing of God’s will, then it follows that we cannot use God to justify our actions, be they good or bad. They rest on our own authority upon our individual autonomy and we have to take responsibility for them.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 15:35:21 UTC | #946880

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Comment 198 by strangebrew

I still think Dennett does it better

But obviously not 'better enough' to convince you! It would appear that no one has the words

Not yet, but that does not mean never.

I have been here since 2007, first as Flying Goose, nearly 5 years, my word. Many here have become friends, albeit over on google+ and facebook,

But I have not been persuaded, not yet. The converse is also true, the true believers have not persuaded me either.

When it comes to the question of God I have never been certain, either way. Perhaps I am temperamentally ill suited to resolution on this.

But here something that might offer you peace of mind. If one can say nothing about God, if God is beyond all predicates, then we are left to make our own minds up about is right and wrong. If we can know nothing of God’s will, then it follows that we cannot use God to justify our actions, be they good or bad. They rest on our own authority upon our individual autonomy and we have to take responsibility for them.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 15:27:30 UTC | #946879

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Comment 192 by Ignorant Amos :

Comment 190 by Marcus Small Now you are suggesting, inadvertently of course, that religions are the stuff that surrounds nothing.

Indeed not, quite advertently actually. That space is what the buddhists call Śūnyatā, emptiness, which is not dissimilar to Kenosis, self emptying.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 14:20:59 UTC | #946867

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 194 by Marcus Small

I still think Dennett does it better, I did read TGD I felt it was polemical in a way his (Richard's) other books are not.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 13:50:51 UTC | #946863

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 190 by Marcus Small

I used the polo/doughnut because the substance of the doughnut/polo is a metaphor for that which is manifest in the religious life in terms of community and practice and the believer’s experience of them. No one can deny their reality. It is these which sustain a religious life, not the hole in the middle which stands for the unanswered (unanswered for me that is), question of God.

Which does bring us back to the thread’s topic, namely RCs and their not believing x, y or z. It seems to me that religion on the ground is becoming less dogmatic, (this you must believe), more pragmatic and more individualistic/ala carte, ‘it works for me’, type of approach. If this is the case than we should not be surprised that it finds its way into the main stream.

This is Richard’s problem, he sees religion as the enemy, I am not saying he should not, but it blurs his vision when looking at religion as a human phenomenon. I note that Dan Dennett does not do this, there is less polemic and more analysis in him IMO.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 13:04:38 UTC | #946856

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Comment 186 by Mr DArcy

I did think of doughnuts, but not all of then have holes in the middle, some have jam. On the other hand all Polo mints do.

This is getting very esoteric.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 12:27:19 UTC | #946853

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Comment 183 by Tyler Durden :

Comment 182 by Marcus Small :

The church and much of society is obsessed with sex.

Please don't smear us all with the same brush, Marcus; it's rude, patently false, and so very disingenuous.

An obsession with sex in order to pontificate, rule and control is so very different to a healthy, natural and curious interest, coupled with active participation, in such matters.

The church (and most organised religions) is clearly obsessed with sex; society merely enjoys it.

No you are right, I should have said 'The Church, the tabloid press, and those sections of society that enjoy it prurient delving into the private lives of others seems obsessed with sex. And that colours their reading, it creates a lens, through they read the text in question.

I might add that a rich and powerful church and a right wing tabloid might not want to see the social justice implications.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 11:43:16 UTC | #946848

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Comment 167 by susanlatimer :

32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Context is everything, what happened to divorced women in that society, they were often left destitute. This appears to be about sexual morality. The church and much of society is obsessed with sex. But this text is about social justice.

The antitheses, as they are called, 'you have heard it it said.... but I say....' should, not IMO be interpreted as an old law being replaced with a new law. It is questioning the whole notion of a rule based morality. He begins,, then, by repeating the commandment, but then goes on to tell us that it is not just simply a matter of not murdering. This is morality by numbers. Ethics by ticking boxes. Do not murder: Tick; Do not commit adultery: Tick; two out of two ticks equals a righteous person, I have behaved properly.

The Jesus of the sermon, fictional or otherwise, is not satisfied with this approach. It is a thoughtless amorality. He asks When does murder begin? Thus:” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement;” He asks his hearers to observe the human emotions, the patterns of thought from which violence emerges. This is not tick-box morality. This is thinking about how our thoughts and emotions influence our actions.

Mindfulness of our thoughts and emotions, and their possible consequences in action, are perhaps a better guide to morality than simply obeying a set of rules.

People have made his words into a set of rules because that is easier. But its lazy too.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 11:15:03 UTC | #946846

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 181 by Marcus Small

Comment 174 by susanlatimer :

Comment 171 by Marcus Small

But it seems to me then that you have nothing to say to the Gay Christian, other than stop being Christian.

I really doubt that's true. Steve Zara was a gay christian once, himself. So, I'm sure he'd have a lot to say to the gay christian. He has a lot to say to christians in general, gay or not. And he's much more thoughtful and articulate than a stop sign. His point is valid and should stand.

I know that, and in fairness to Steve I should have said a bit more. (I was late for a hearing test, seems I need a hearing aid. Deaf and dyslexic, well at least it alliterates).

So I will correct or at least add. When Steve wrote.

I don't want bigotry fought against by people who are religious. That's like screwing in support of virginity. I don't want to hear that God thinks gays are good, because using what God thinks as an argument for anything is the problem.

I take him to mean, that he does not want religious people fighting bigotry on behalf of their religion, or their God. I agree, they should fight bigotry because bigotry is wrong. I don't Steve is saying that he would turn the support of religious people just because they happen to be religious.

I think I misinterpreted him, so I take back the comment.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 10:52:59 UTC | #946845

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Comment 166 by Steve Zara :

Comment 156 by Marcus Small

I don't see religion as the problem.

Of course religion is the problem. Religion is the megaphone that turns what would otherwise be furtive mumblings into the public pronouncements of priests and imams. Religion gives such people the stage, the theatre and the audience for their poisonous rants. Not only that but religion also posts bouncers outside the door of the theatre, guards who will turn away interfering critics with their scruffy atheistic clothes, and an insistence on bringing to their seats the fine ale of reason instead of drinking from the poisoned chalice of communion wine.

The problem is bigotry often fought against by people who are religious.

I don't want bigotry fought against by people who are religious. That's like screwing in support of virginity. I don't want to hear that God thinks gays are good, because using what God thinks as an argument for anything is the problem.

There are too many people drunk on religion. We need them to sober up, and then take only the occasional light tipple, at home, and away from the kids. We have seen the terrible things Cathoholics can do.

But it seems to me then that you have nothing to say to the Gay Christian, other than stop being Christian.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 07:03:53 UTC | #946826

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Comment 164 by All About Meme :

Comment 163 by Marcus Small

All About a Meme, 161, But try writing verse on this forum and it does not like it, it turns it into prose.

Ah, but that is because you don't know the immaterial, ineffable, omniscient Carriage Return code:

To start your text on a new line, simply type "Less Than key" "BR" "Greater Than key".

Or, simply consult this biblical tome. Science. What a concept.

Silence, save for flies,
that dance in the sunlit air,
while a mute rose shines.

It works! Thanks for that.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 06:20:29 UTC | #946821

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Comment 160 by Quine :

People can choose to live by some code of behavior because they think it "works" and there is nothing wrong with that. The trouble comes when they pretend to know truth that they don't, and from there take actions such as ones to make children learn from textbooks that present myth as truth.

As you know Quine, I agree with that, and strenuously avoid doing it.

All About a Meme, 161, But try writing verse on this forum and it does not like it, it turns it into prose.

162, I have just read the Sermon on the Mount, homosexuality is not mentioned. I did read this "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies." Of course the church could not really listen to that after Constantine,

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 05:54:06 UTC | #946816

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 159 by Marcus Small

Susan in a few moments, I will be switching off the PC and doing 30 mins of Zen, then I will say the early morning office. After getting family up I will get on with work, as I am on study leave that is writing a dissertation. If were not I might be preparing for a funeral, or a wedding. Maybe some one just needs to talk to someone who is paid to have the time to listen. The longer I stay in one place, the more need of me there seems to be for that.

I don't have positive theology to offer you, I don't want one either. When it comes to metaphysics I happy knowing nothing, wanting nothing, having nothing and willing nothing.

It does not matter, what matters is how I live, and how I treat others. These practices help me to sustain a positive relation with the world beyond me.

A fellow prisoner wrote of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that “Bonhoeffer was different; just quite calm and normal, seemingly perfect at his ease. His soul really shone in the dark desperation of our prison. He was, without exception, the finest and most lovable man I have ever met. He was one of the very few men to whom his God was real and ever close to him.” Yet was the man with a negative theology, a theology that dares to say that we should live as if there were no God What made might have made the difference in him was his positive set of practices. A daily reading and meditating upon Scripture, time set apart every day for prayer.

The hole in the middle of a Polo mint is a hole in the middle of a polo mint. Is this what you mean by "God"?

Here is R S Thomas on the subject.

It is this great absence that is like a presence, that compels me to address it without hope of a reply. It is a room I enter from which someone has just gone, the vestibule for the arrival of one who has not yet come. I modernise the anachronism of my language, but he is no more here than before. Genes and molecules have no more power to call him up than the incense of the Hebrews at their altars. My equations fail as my words do. What resources have I other than the emptiness without him of my whole being, a vacuum he may not abhor?

Sorry about the prose, it should be verse, but this site does not seem to like poetry. See it here

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 05:04:43 UTC | #946812

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 156 by Marcus Small

Comment 150 by Steve Zara :

I see it differently, as do all those Catholics who use condoms or others mean of contraception, as do the LGCM and many other lesbian, gay, and trans-gender Christians. Christianity is part of wider battleground between progressives and those who are not. It could be said that those in LGCM are in the front line battle against bigotry.

I don't see religion as the problem. The problem is bigotry, often aided and abetted by religious people using the very few texts that deal with this issue.

The problem is bigotry often fought against by people who are religious.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 04:39:18 UTC | #946807

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 154 by Marcus Small

Comment 146 by Quine :

... How can the infinite be an object?

To the best of my knowledge, there is no way. Fortunately, "the infinite" need only be an abstract mathematical concept in our minds, not corresponding to any "thing." If anyone whats to make such attributions to some kind of mythical "person," then the burden of evidence rests there.

Got evidence?

But you do not need evidence to live in a particular way, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It seems to me that the religious must accept the poverty of their metaphysics. The substance of a Polo mint is on the outside but it would not be a Polo mint without the hole in the middle.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 04:22:02 UTC | #946803

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 142 by Marcus Small

Who cares whether the tea pot exists? My own teapot is an object. How can the infinite be an object?

Comment 138 by susanlatimer :

Comment 137 by Marcus Small

If God exists, and if God is a non object, how would we as subjects apprehend this non object? Let alone reduce such a being to a definition.

If we can neither apprehend nor define it, then what on earth are we talking about?

What indeed? seems to be a lot of God talk here.

Sun, 10 Jun 2012 20:41:45 UTC | #946771

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Comment 136 by All About Meme :

Furthermore, what would prevent a Christian fundamentalist from reading and heartily accepting your axioms 4 and 5, and then upon accepting axiom 10, stringing-up a godless atheist and “kicking away the ladder” underneath his feet, all in the name of “love” for “God”?

It is not my blog, what would stop them?

I suspect the the ladder in question is a reference to Wittgenstein,

My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (*He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)** He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.

What do I mean by God? Today I mean this,

The problem with God even if God exists is that we, self aware subjects that we are look around at everything else and perceive objects. Can we do anything else? If God exists, and if God is a non object, how would we as subjects apprehend this non object? Let alone reduce such a being to a definition.

Sun, 10 Jun 2012 19:20:44 UTC | #946759

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Marcus Small's Avatar Jump to comment 135 by Marcus Small

I think I need worry either about P Z views or my sanity, but thanks for your concern.

Perhaps it would be better put that I value being alive,

Sun, 10 Jun 2012 18:27:41 UTC | #946753

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Comment 122 by irate_atheist

Comment 30 by Marcus Small -

Human self identity like the words we use to describe it, is not as easy to pin down. Human beings like their words and ideas will not submit easily to identifiers of another's convenience.

Fine, in that case I'm a radical Islamist and nothing you can say, nor any definitions of 'radical' and 'Islamist' can sway me from self-identifying as such.

You are right, I would be interested to here how you came by your new identity. It strikes me as quite a departure. Irate atheist to a radical Islamist. There must be quite a story there. ;-)

Now I believe in life, I am agnostic about its boundaries at either end. That's my creed really. Its a long story, but it might have something to with being a German English British person, an Anglican Christian who practices Zen, and whose mind comes alive when reading Hesse, Harris and Howatch, Dawkins Cuppitt and Merton.

Does it work? For me, has done so for 45 orbits round the star.

Do I believe you when you say that you are a radical Islamist? No. Do I believe those RCs who still identify as RC even when they don't hold some core beliefs. They are square pegs in round holes, bit like me really. I understand how one can and sometimes have to hold different identities together in tension.

I actually find it quite creative, some people need boundaries, it makes them feel safe. I like boundaries too, it gives me something to push against.

Sun, 10 Jun 2012 13:05:10 UTC | #946727