February 21st, 2004


userinfo senji
2004/02/21 02:31:00 - Promise

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userinfo ex_lark_asc
2004/02/22 03:53:31 - Re:
the Spirit dwells within us, and as such is a tangible entity

I can't say that as a pagan I've ever noticed the spirit of the Christian god dwelling within me. In fact, my experience of a total absence of anything within myself that resonated with what I learnt about Christianity at school is a lot to do with why I became a pagan in the first place.

Love here does not mean the destructive passion for which men have killed and women suffered

Wait a minute.

So what you're saying here is that love between humans is in some way poorer than this idealised "life force" Christian love which you fail to describe in any way I can make sense of?

In that case I disagree with you on the most fundamental level possible. Human love and the life force you describe are one and the same thing and they are nothing to do with the Christian god. All humans are capable of positive, porofound and selfless love regardless of their faith; it is a universal human experience. Hence, with a detour via Occam's razor, I do not believe that love is in any way provided by, changed by or unique to a relationship with the Christian god. I do, however, believe that it is a terrible disservice to oneself to believe that a god is necessary in order to come closer to being a truly open and loving person. One can do that entirely without a religion to prop one's ideas up; it's the person who can't do it without an externally imposed moral structure to force them into kindness who is weak.

See, I don't believe that Christianity or the deity it claims for its own is in any way internal to the self; it's a meme, a viral idea that becomes internalised if the subject allows it to or is not aware enough of what it's doing to avoid that. It's also a religion with a history of demonising "human" love and exalting "spiritual" love; interestingly "spiritual" love stems just as much from human beings, but Christianity encourages the faithful to believe that that is the expression of the presence of a deity rather than something that truly comes from within the self. Personally I find that an unpleasantly subtle way to undermine the individual's self-belief and keep them dependent on the religion; memes are, after all, interested in their own survival.

No, what I believe is much simpler. Human love in all its forms is the greatest and indeed only true binding force between beings; it expresses itself in a thousand ways from grand passion to simple acts of kindness, and even acts that appear on the surface to be unkind. Frankly I find it ridiculous to surmise that something so universally human is explained only by an entity whose existence has never been proven, as opposed to being the result of many parts of human culture and evolution which I've learnt about and observed in action for myself.

Yes, I do believe that there is more than the seen and the immediate to life, and for the most part what that is for me is the unknowable nature of what results your own actions will have. Do something good and you never know exactly what you will achieve; there's easily enough wonder in the simple everyday world if you look for it. Why complicate the issue with a god whose nature must be endlessly debated? All that does is give you an excuse to feel worthy while overlooking the opportunities to do good that are right under your nose.
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(Anonymous)
2004/02/22 04:25:36
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userinfo ex_lark_asc
2004/02/22 08:02:44 - Re: I probably need to calm down.
If love is used for destruction, then it is not truly love. If love is destroying the individual feeling it, then it's not love

Nonsense. How you act on a feeling and what the consequences of your chosen course of action are do nothing to alter the nature of the emotion itself. Love doesn't always equal fluffy unselfish tree-hugging goodness; many people exist in the world who live and experience love as sonething inherently painful, but it is no less love because of that. All love does is create a bond between ourself and another, strong enough to have the potential to motivate us to selflessness; the decision about how we act on those strong feelings, whether we choose selflessness or jealousy or something else entirely, is as ever up to the individual.

My belief is that the Christian God is a God that can be known without attaching the label 'Christian' and can be experienced thus

You're agreeing with me there. But explain to me; if the Christian god can be 'known' without necessarily being the Christian god, why does the experience that connotes that deity to you need to be created by or representative of a god at all? Why stop questioning there? I think the potential for the experiences you ascribe to your god exist within us as simple biological beings; it's possible to give someone a religious experience by stimulating the right bit of their brain during surgery, for heavens' sake. You say that you are a part of your faith; is it not also possible that your faith is a part of you, and that you as a being are infinitely more surprising than you could have imagined?

I find myself wondering whether you have rejected the faith you were brought up in; whether the structures you grew used to, the existence of some thing which is not yourself and not of yourself and which represents what is good, have become things your mind needs to help it make sense of the world. What do you think?
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(Anonymous)
2004/02/22 15:25:09
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userinfo ex_lark_asc
2004/02/23 02:31:06 - Re: I probably need to calm down.
I still disagree; love is equally as capable of being ultimately destructive to the individual as any other strong emotion. I'd have said there's more of a range of human experience than you're allowing for..

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userinfo ptc24
2004/02/22 09:20:14 - Re: I probably need to calm down.
I never did philosophy - I only dabbled with dodgy second-hand (if that accounts) of the stuff. Oh, I tell a lie, I've read some Russell and a bit of Plato's Republic. But I was always struck by Hume's scepticism.

I found a good quote on the web:


I am confounded with all these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable, environed with the deepest darkness, and utterly deprived of the use of every member and faculty. Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, Nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterates all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when, after three or four hours' amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any further.


Well, exactly. At least from my point of view...
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