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Emmisal

A Theology book for Atheists

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Emmisal

I've not read the book myself, but as the article points out, this is a very important question for atheists: "What if most modern arguments against religious belief have been attacking the wrong concept of God all along?".

https://www.theguardian.com/news/oliver-burkeman-s-blog/2014/jan/14/the-theology-book-atheists-should-read?_e_pi_=7%2CPAGE_ID10%2C7702400430

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Rlyeh

The article is recycling garbage;

"...according to the classical metaphysical traditions of both the East and West, God is the unconditioned cause of reality – of absolutely everything that is – from the beginning to the end of time. Understood in this way, one can’t even say that God "exists" in the sense that my car or Mount Everest or electrons exist. God is what grounds the existence of every contingent thing, making it possible, sustaining it through time, unifying it, giving it actuality. God is the condition of the possibility of anything existing at all."

This is a god of gaps.

The also article states the monotheist God is completely different to the Greek gods. I disagree, Yahweh is definitely like a Greek god; petty, insecure, even ignorant.

Edited by Rlyeh
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Podo
On 2017-07-13 at 2:38 PM, eight bits said:

That's a three-and-half year-old book review. What do you intend your reader to do about this?

Assuming the review reflects the argument that needs attention (even though the following example it gives isn't from the book), the claim is:

Ok, then we can all agree that God doesn't exist as the verb to exist is used in the English language? So we're done, right?

It's great when something comes together so nicely like that.

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Grandpa Greenman

Done, I guess so...  :whistle:

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Emmisal
On 07/13/2017 at 9:54 PM, Rlyeh said:

This is a god of gaps.

How?

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Emmisal
On 07/13/2017 at 9:54 PM, Rlyeh said:

The also article states the monotheist God is completely different to the Greek gods. I disagree, Yahweh is definitely like a Greek god; petty, insecure, even ignorant.

That's just your opinion, it doesn't change anything.

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Tatetopa
2 hours ago, Emmisal said:
On 7/13/2017 at 1:54 PM, Rlyeh said:

The also article states the monotheist God is completely different to the Greek gods. I disagree, Yahweh is definitely like a Greek god; petty, insecure, even ignorant.

That's just your opinion, it doesn't change anything.

That is not a rejoinder for proving your point or winning friends.  We seem to know a lot about Yahweh from his own testimony.  He is exactly the sort of superhero God that atheists  have rejected as implausible.  He is not the god of gaps mentioned in the book review.  Thanks for offering this up.

 

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ShadowSot

I follow a couple of shows where the hosts respond to theists who either call or write in. The book doesn't address the god those people believe in. 

 Which is certainly one of the problems isn't it? There isn't one single definitive concept of a god. 

 The problem is then that theists by and large believe in the wrong sort of god and defend that god. Since Atheist arguments are a reaction to theist claims and arguments, it would seem the book should be aimed at theists for presenting the wrong sort of God. 

 Good luck bringing them to your side. 

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Rlyeh
4 hours ago, Emmisal said:

How?

The part I quoted is describing a first cause. Things exist because God did it. How could anyone think this is a new idea? The article makes it sound like atheists have never encountered this argument before.

Edited by Rlyeh

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Rlyeh
4 hours ago, Emmisal said:

That's just your opinion, it doesn't change anything.

We've got the Bible to show us just how insecure Yahweh is. He demands worship and has people killed for as little as collecting sticks on the wrong day.

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Only_
59 minutes ago, Rlyeh said:

We've got the Bible to show us just how insecure Yahweh is. He demands worship and has people killed for as little as collecting sticks on the wrong day.

Gnosticism:

(1) A distinction is made between the highest, unknown God and the imperfect or plainly evil creator-god, who is often identified with the God of the Bible.

Edited by Be.cause

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Podo

To OP, I don't think that the book's premise is super relevant to the ongoing conversation, considering that since faith is inherently based on nothing factual or concrete, everyone's belief is different. The god of Abraham is a superhero god, and any reading of the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran will show it as such. Most Abrahamic theists follow what they see as a superhero god. Do some follow the weakly-defined god of the gaps that the book speaks of? Undoubtedly. Not only is that argument extremely weak, but it doesn't encompass religious belief any more than a universal superhero god does.

Religion is irrational, and any blanket statement on how one "should" or "should not" talk about it is inevitably going to fall short, since there are no shortage of different ways to believe in an invisible sky-fairy.

Edited by Podo

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Mr Walker
On 14/07/2017 at 7:08 AM, eight bits said:

That's a three-and-half year-old book review. What do you intend your reader to do about this?

Assuming the review reflects the argument that needs attention (even though the following example it gives isn't from the book), the claim is:

Ok, then we can all agree that God doesn't exist as the verb to exist is used in the English language? So we're done, right?

Not really. Love doesnt exist in the same way my car exists yet both are real powerful and important things in my life.

Belief drives people much more powerfully than reality and thus,in its effects, is just as real as any physical entity.

having said that, i will now have a look at the article. :) 

 

MMn not sure i really get his point but i agree that atheists  (apart from a very few)  have no real comprehension of the nature of god either a s a belief construct or a reality  Otherwise of course, they wouldn't be atheists.  (one cannot know or believe in a god so powerfully that the belief protects empowers and transforms you, if you are an atheist.)

 They dont understand how  the faith (or practical experience) - based effects of a link with god can have the power, the healing, the energy, the optimism, the joy,  which it does.

 They can't even get in the mind of a person who has a true belief or knowledge about a god.  They deny the benefits of such a belief or link, despite them being scientifically established, precisely because they encounter none of those benefits  in themselves and thus also disbelieve in their existence. It is a bit like a placebo where, if you believe, the results are incredibly powerful, but if you don't believe, the same pill has no effects.

Thus, those who dont believe can't understand how it can heal or transform those who take the same pill, but believe  in it.   They sometimes even think the believers are deluded fools, despite the advantages that taking the pill and believing in it has for the believers.   

All an atheist reader could do would be to read the whole book and see if it helps them better understand the incredible transforming power and healing properties of belief ( No, real, proven physical  god necessary, only belief)  We accept this as reality when we believe in the power of love, so why not, when we believe in  the power of a god or indeed believe in the power of a belief in a god  ?  

You never know, the y might continue to disbelieve existence of gods but come to acknowledge the power of belief in the existence of gods on human minds and bodies.    Of course this would also create a logical dichotomy, where the y knew their own (dis) belief was limiting them,  and so it  would be a difficult mental adjustment to make.

You could split your mind.

One half saying, " I don't believe in gods"

The other half saying, " but i do accept the transforming power of belief in gods, so that, while i dont believe in gods i believe in the power of belief, and thus will use THAT belief to help me" :)  

 

Edited by Mr Walker

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eight bits

Mr W

Quote

having said that, i will now have a look at the article.

Too bad you didn't also read what I wrote before commenting on it.

Quote

It is a bit like a placebo where, if you believe, the results are incredibly powerful, but if you don't believe, the same pill has no effects.

Belief can be a factor in placebo effectiveness, but a placebo works fine even when the person is told outright that it's a placebo. Withholding information from patients, or even lying to them, was a general feature of American medicine until a few generations ago; deceptive placebo dispensing fit right in. That isn't legally possible any longer, but placebo still works. You might want to check out the work of Harvard's Ted Kaptchuk to get up to speed on this.

Sure, BS stories and cargo-cult-style rituals may very well energize people's capacity for self-healing. So too do non-BS stories assuring people that they do, in fact, have some such capacity.

We are drifting away from the OP's review, however. I don't know any atheists who dispute the power of placebo, and that isn't the kind of "existence" the review referred to.

Quote

You could split your mind.

No, thanks.

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ShadowSot
22 minutes ago, eight bits said:

Mr W

Too bad you didn't also read what I wrote before commenting on it.

Belief can be a factor in placebo effectiveness, but a placebo works fine even when the person is told outright that it's a placebo. Withholding information from patients, or even lying to them, was a general feature of American medicine until a few generations ago; deceptive placebo dispensing fit right in. That isn't legally possible any longer, but placebo still works. You might want to check out the work of Harvard's Ted Kaptchuk to get up to speed on this.

Sure, BS stories and cargo-cult-style rituals may very well energize people's capacity for self-healing. So too do non-BS stories assuring people that they do, in fact, have some such capacity.

We are drifting away from the OP's review, however. I don't know any atheists who dispute the power of placebo, and that isn't the kind of "existence" the review referred to.

No, thanks.

Actually I want to toss in on the placebo thing that a lot of the research supporting the effect as understood by the general populace has been coming under question lately. There's been issues of blinding, small sample pools, data hacking, and other issues like claims made over negligible results and especially reproducibility.

  The only real definite demonstrable benefit of placebo is perception of symptoms. 

 Which isn't a bad thing in and of itself, and it's part of types of therapy. As someone who deals with pain pretty regularly perception has a big roll in dealing with it. 

 

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D.O'N
7 minutes ago, ShadowSot said:

Actually I want to toss in on the placebo thing that a lot of the research supporting the effect as understood by the general populace has been coming under question lately. There's been issues of blinding, small sample pools, data hacking, and other issues like claims made over negligible results and especially reproducibility.

  The only real definite demonstrable benefit of placebo is perception of symptoms. 

 Which isn't a bad thing in and of itself, and it's part of types of therapy. As someone who deals with pain pretty regularly perception has a big roll in dealing with it. 

 

Bit random, but when i quick glance your pic i keep thinking it is Freddy Krueger.

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GlitterRose

Most of the people who "argue God" are not proposing some ethereal and non-dogmatic approach. They're using the bible or some other religious text to argue God. 

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Mr Walker
On 18/07/2017 at 6:54 PM, eight bits said:

Mr W

Too bad you didn't also read what I wrote before commenting on it.

Belief can be a factor in placebo effectiveness, but a placebo works fine even when the person is told outright that it's a placebo. Withholding information from patients, or even lying to them, was a general feature of American medicine until a few generations ago; deceptive placebo dispensing fit right in. That isn't legally possible any longer, but placebo still works. You might want to check out the work of Harvard's Ted Kaptchuk to get up to speed on this.

Sure, BS stories and cargo-cult-style rituals may very well energize people's capacity for self-healing. So too do non-BS stories assuring people that they do, in fact, have some such capacity.

We are drifting away from the OP's review, however. I don't know any atheists who dispute the power of placebo, and that isn't the kind of "existence" the review referred to.

No, thanks.

You wrote this

 

That's a three-and-half year-old book review. What do you intend your reader to do about this?

Assuming the review reflects the argument that needs attention (even though the following example it gives isn't from the book), the claim is:

Ok, then we can all agree that God doesn't exist as the verb to exist is used in the English language? So we're done, right?

i certainly read that and responded initially to the last  line 

Gods actual physical existence is actually irrelevant to  how powerful belief in god is  and  how much it can affect people and the world  So even if we agree god does not exist we are left with the indisputable existence and power of human belief in gods  so the argument is not done, but continues

My understanding of the placebo effect is that belief is a part of it.  You can be told outright that something is not real but unless your mind completely accepts this to  be true it will construct an active placebo effect which also affects your biology and physiology.  And placebos are most powerful where belief is involved  

If no psychological response was involved, there would be no  measurable difference between giving nothing and giving something with no physical effect. but administered as part of a medical test or procedure The belief might be in the drug or in the doctor or in the system or in the intervention     

There are thousands of proven clinical examples of the power of belief /faith including on both skin and bone healing and recovery form many forms of illness disease and operations. It has been proven that along, with meditation. faith and belief,  are highly effective in reducing pain  These are now accepted as standard medical understanding, replicated in peer reviewed and repeated cases all around the world   There is a growing body of biochemical  evidences which demonstrate how and why these aid human health, well being and recovery .

In other words, regardless of the packaging you put around it,  there is such a strong connection between human psychology and physiology that what we believe affects our body as much as our mind.  

i read a couple of reviews and commentaries on the book but haven't read it. I disagree  From reading those reviews the god proposed is quite nebulous and certainly not the specific form perceived in christianity or many other religions. Itt is not a god which is connected to humans or responds to humans directly. Thus it can ONLY be belief and faith in this entity which  constitutes the god form and the power given by that god form to human beings who believe. Belief is the common factor  and exists separate from any actual physical existence in the lives of modern human beings.  

 

The book is called "the experience of god" and as i read it it means exactly that.  It is the experience, by an individual, of a god  

The whole point of a placebo  is that you experience the effects of something which does not, in reality, have any physical existence,  yet it physically transforms you.

The way i read the reviews, this is the sort of god spoken of ie that god IS the connective individual experience  of a human  being with a power they internally experience.  The healing, the empowerment, the joy and the wonder, IS the experienced connection of a human being with a god. Indeed, it IS the only  true  form of god known to human beings .

 Rather, God is "the light of being itself",

Constructing his argument around three principal metaphysical “moments”—being, consciousness, and bliss—the author demonstrates an essential continuity between our fundamental experience of reality and the ultimate reality to which that experience inevitably points.

Hart claims that such an essence can truly be found: It’s God as a transcendent and largely ineffable Ground of All Being, above all things yet immanent in them. Nor is this Tillich-ian deity in any way like a person, although Hart calls it a “he” and argues that it’s capable of anthropomorphic feelings like love.

Here, Hart fills a void that no other book I have yet discovered can. If it does not convince, it can at least better inform anyone, theist or atheist, of the true nature of God as philosophically defined.

 

I especially like this explanation by one reviewer.

Hart also, incidentally, points out that classical theists have virtually always asserted that the usual way to experience God directly is through contemplative prayer: through purgation of sin and other distractions, self-emptying, and patient waiting for illumination by the grace of God. Yet the last thing many atheists would do to investigate God’s existence would be to pray, let alone submit to a process reputed to produce “mystical experiences.” They might especially point to the obvious fact that such experiences are unverifiable; they are, inherently, meaningless to anyone who has not had them. Yet as Hart notes, subjective experience is prior to objective demonstration; no experience of reality is unmediated, and if we cannot trust our subjective experience (in whatever form), that calls into question all the rest of our experience. Moreover, if indeed God, as a higher type of reality, demanded by reason, is beyond the phenomenal universe and thus by definition beyond scientific tests or empirical knowledge, then he must logically be experienced differently if he is to be experienced at all. Though we are not asked to suspend our critical faculties, we should not be hasty to distrust mysterious experiences due to some preexisting dogma, unfounded in reason, that excludes them.2 It is irrational for some atheists to declare complete assurance that God does not exist, when they have not sought him in contemplative prayer and humility, where if he may be found if he is to be found at all.

https://pilgrimvisions.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/the-experience-of-god-a-review/

 

To me it is pretty clear that, whatever the argument for a real independent god, this book is an argument for the reality of how humans experience contact with god, which  experience,  in itself IS the only god  they are ever likely to encounter. 

 

Edited by Mr Walker

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Mr Walker
On 18/07/2017 at 7:22 PM, ShadowSot said:

Actually I want to toss in on the placebo thing that a lot of the research supporting the effect as understood by the general populace has been coming under question lately. There's been issues of blinding, small sample pools, data hacking, and other issues like claims made over negligible results and especially reproducibility.

  The only real definite demonstrable benefit of placebo is perception of symptoms. 

 Which isn't a bad thing in and of itself, and it's part of types of therapy. As someone who deals with pain pretty regularly perception has a big roll in dealing with it. 

 

Various scientists have now proven that pain is not a physical  product of trauma, but a mental construct of the brain/mind, in response to bodily trauma.  Pain originates in the mind at the base or stem of the brain, near the  top of the spine. SO learn how to train and manipulate your mind, and you can greatly reduce your perception or sense of pain  (actually reduce the mental production of pain )

. Conversely you can have phantom pain, learned pans which go on even after physical trauma has healed,  and increased pains, all as a result of the mind s attitude. Thus belief /faith ( or ANY form of mental manipulation such as meditation or relaxation)  can be incredibly powerful in reducing pain, in healing skin and bones, and faster more effective  recovering from many things, including cancer. .    

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Mr Walker
On 18/07/2017 at 6:54 PM, eight bits said:

Mr W

Too bad you didn't also read what I wrote before commenting on it.

Belief can be a factor in placebo effectiveness, but a placebo works fine even when the person is told outright that it's a placebo. Withholding information from patients, or even lying to them, was a general feature of American medicine until a few generations ago; deceptive placebo dispensing fit right in. That isn't legally possible any longer, but placebo still works. You might want to check out the work of Harvard's Ted Kaptchuk to get up to speed on this.

Sure, BS stories and cargo-cult-style rituals may very well energize people's capacity for self-healing. So too do non-BS stories assuring people that they do, in fact, have some such capacity.

We are drifting away from the OP's review, however. I don't know any atheists who dispute the power of placebo, and that isn't the kind of "existence" the review referred to.

No, thanks.

 I read this. Seems to confirm what i was arguing.

 http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/01/the-placebo-phenomenon

But researchers have found that placebo treatments—interventions with no active drug ingredients—can stimulate real physiological responses, from changes in heart rate and blood pressure to chemical activity in the brain, in cases involving pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and even some symptoms of Parkinson’s.

 His team again compared two groups of IBS sufferers. One group received no treatment. The other patients were told they’d be taking fake, inert drugs (delivered in bottles labeled “placebo pills”) and told also that placebos often have healing effects.

Thus, when patients enter a room containing medical equipment they associate with the possibility of feeling better, “the mind may automatically make associations that lead to actual positive health outcomes,” says psychiatry research fellow Karin Jensen, the study’s lead author.

Another example was how outcomes improved with the time and care taken by doctors who were ALL giving fake treatments 

 

The experiment split 262 adults with IBS into three groups: a no-treatment control group, told they were on a waiting list for treatment; a second group who received sham acupuncture without much interaction with the practitioner; and a third group who received sham acupuncture with great attention lavished upon them—at least 20 minutes of what Kaptchuk describes as “very schmaltzy” care (“I’m so glad to meet you”; “I know how difficult this is for you”; “This treatment has excellent results”). Practitioners were also required to touch the hands or shoulders of members of the third group and spend at least 20 seconds lost in thoughtful silence

The results were not surprising: the patients who experienced the greatest relief were those who received the most care. But in an age of rushed doctor’s visits and packed waiting rooms, it was the first study to show a “dose-dependent response” for a placebo: the more care people got—even if it was fake—the better they tended to fare.

In other words, even the nature of interaction had a psychological effect, which transferred into a physiological effect, on patients 

As to why placebos like faith or belief might reduce pain or have other clinical effects.

“What we ‘placebo neuroscientists’...have learned [is] that therapeutic rituals move a lot of molecules in the patients’ brain, and these molecules are the very same as those activated by the drugs we give in routine clinical practice,” Benedetti wrote in an e-mail. “In other words, rituals and drugs use the very same biochemical pathways to influence the patient’s brain.” It’s those advances in “hard science,” he added, that have given placebo research a legitimacy it never enjoyed before.

ps i might be wrong but reading between the lines it seems some forms of placebo testing are still legal where the peole don't know if they are taking a placebo or a real drug, or participating in a medical or psychological form of testing.   The examples given in this article seem to be quite recent. 

 

 

 

Edited by Mr Walker

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eight bits

Mr W

That's a nice article. The on-topic message is that Kaptchuk's work provides no basis for assigning the benefits of placebo exclusively to false beliefs. So far as has been measured, false beliefs, indeterminate beliefs and true beliefs are all conducive to elicitation of  placebo effects.

It follows that we needn't overrule our critical judgment or "divide our mind" in order to use our own bodies' resources against illness and discomfort, in concert with whatever else we might bring to bear. The finer points of Kaptchuk's research would quickly lead us far from the OP's review.

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Sherapy
11 hours ago, eight bits said:

Mr W

That's a nice article. The on-topic message is that Kaptchuk's work provides no basis for assigning the benefits of placebo exclusively to false beliefs. So far as has been measured, false beliefs, indeterminate beliefs and true beliefs are all conducive to elicitation of  placebo effects.

It follows that we needn't overrule our critical judgment or "divide our mind" in order to use our own bodies' resources against illness and discomfort, in concert with whatever else we might bring to bear. The finer points of Kaptchuk's research would quickly lead us far from the OP's review.

Amen Paul:D

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Hammerclaw

Yeah, belief  and a generous dose of holy dopamine can work wonders. "It is thy Faith(and the placebo effect) that has made thee whole."

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