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Uriah



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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:10 am

Aaron wrote:
Uriah wrote:
Queen Qaab? - haven't thought of that old curmudgeonly-poetess in a few years. Glad she's doing well.

Does Ranger Dave hang out there? I might have to go troll him for old times sake. lol

Actually Queen Qaab passed away about a year ago. The question about Deism was one of her last posts.

Ranger Dave is still kicking around but not on the forum Gnomon is referring to.

May she rest in Peace. Kind of makes me sad, I was quite fond of that grumpy woman. Crying or Very sad
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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:24 pm

I think that some of the discussion on FFF about the advantages of Deism is still pertinent to this thread about the point of Deism. Some posters wanted to focus on the lack of evidence for G*d, concluding that belief in a non-intervening deity is un-justified. But that was not the question. QQ wanted to know if---for those who already (for whatever reasons) believed in an invisible, hands-off, observer---that belief gave them any practical advantages over a non-theist belief system. I still don't have a good all-purpose answer for that question. But here are some of the shoulder-shrugging responses that I threw-out for consideration.


Queen Qaab
I wanted to find out what good it does an individual person to BELIEVE there IS a non-interactive god.

If the only answer is, "I infer god from (fill in the blank)," my curiosity remains unameliorated.




Quote Queen Qaab
I don't know where ALL came from. But it doesn't appear to matter. There was no reward for "believing" and there has been no punishment (or cost) to "not believing."


Understanding where it all came from does not matter---it minds. Deism is not about believing certain things in order to receive certain rewards. Understanding is its own reward.



For me, Deism is just a personal hobby. I don't expect to make money, or attract chicks, or reserve a mansion in heaven. The only real advantage is the smug certainty that I'm right, and you're not. . . . You do know I'm kidding don't you?



QQ---I'm sorry your very pertinent question got side-tracked into a shoving match. All I can say at this point is that I am still too close to my "conversion experience" to give a particular answer to your sincere inquiry. I will, however, venture a holistic answer: Since I began to see both sides of reality, I now feel that I have a more complete understanding of what's going on in this confusing world. The puzzle of absurd existence is not so pointless anymore. It's actually beginning to make sense now. A holistic picture of reality is beginning to emerge. And for me, that is a distinct advantage of Deism over the fragmented worldview of Agnosticism.

An analogous question might be : what advantage would a two-eyed man have over a one-eyed man? From the perspective of two eyes you can see the depth of an otherwise flat reality. Unfortunately, any religion that claims to know The Truth can make that same claim.




Quote :
From the Panendeism Forum:
<< I agree that Atheism offers the same benefits as Deism but that is only because they are practicing Deism. What I mean is they live like their lives have purpose even though they believe they are an accident. They study science because they want to think god's thoughts after him even though they don't believe he exists. They use their reason to figure out right from wrong even though they don't believe in good and evil. They hold people responsible for their actions even though they believe freewill is an illusion. I don't really know how to explain my point. It just seems to me that they behave as if the universe is a logical rational ordered machine that has a purpose and life should be valued even though the foundation of their believes is that the universe is a chaotic purposeless accidental random explosion. >>

In the Freethinkers Fellowship Forum thread I mentioned earlier, QQ asked "what is the advantage of Deism" over Atheism? After a long, rancorous discussion with the resident anti-theists, wherein we strayed from the basic question, I came across the quote above somewhere on the PanenDeism forum. I don't remember who originally posted it (if you recognize your words, you may take credit for them here and now).

The quote gives an indirect answer to the original question : apparently Atheists see some advantage to acting as-if there is a universal Reason (G*d) to make sense of their meaningless lives. But due to their reductionist worldview, they can't see the forest for the trees. So even as they "practice" Deism, they deny the Deity. Deism is simply Existentialism, but with an overall Reason for existence. It's individualism, but with a Whole to contain the parts.

Perhaps the slight advantage to Deism is that it lends some authenticity and integrity to our fragmented lives. It reconciles our axiomatic, unproven beliefs with our otherwise inexplicable, systematic, goal-oriented behavior. Does anybody have any better ideas?



Before we ask the public to join a Deist church, I think we need a cogent answer to the obvious question : "what's in it for me?"
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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Thu Jan 15, 2009 3:11 pm

The thing that Deism does for me is to give me a vernacular and a spiritual language to help wrap my puny little mind around the seemingly infinite and incomprehensible nature of reality.

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Uriah

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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:43 pm

To be concise: As a Deist my personal spirituality, and my exploration of such, has immense meaning and is a necessary part of my life and growth.

As an Atheist personal spirituality has no meaning, and time spent harboring such immaterial concepts is regarded as wasteful and fanciful.
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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:32 pm

Uriah wrote:
As an Atheist personal spirituality has no meaning, and time spent harboring such immaterial concepts is regarded as wasteful and fanciful.
Ironically, QQ claimed to be a "spiritual atheist", but she agreed with the second part of the sentence above.

If even Atheists can be spiritual, what more do Deists have to offer?
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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:53 pm

Aaron wrote:
The thing that Deism does for me is to give me a vernacular and a spiritual language to help wrap my puny little mind around the seemingly infinite and incomprehensible nature of reality.
My own probing into Deist territory has given me a scientific vocabulary for some ancient spiritual concepts. But New Agers have beat me to the punch on many of the vernacular updates.

Does Wibur's Integral Philosophy claim any practical dividends? Various proponents of meditation advertise long lists of physical and emotional improvements for those who devote themselves to specific rigorous practices. The Transcendental Meditation folks even claim to fly.

As far as I can tell, my physical and emotional well-being is no better (or worse) as a Deist, than as an Agnostic. I'm pretty laid-back and introspective by nature, so meditation didn't impress me much. I would imagine that the ability to fly would be impressive, but the best I've seen looks like ridiculous cross-legged hopping to me.

So, as I told QQ, I haven't received much in the way of practical benefits from Deism. The only theoretical advantage may be that my worldview is more detailed and comprehensive than that of non-deists, making my guessing, predictions, and opinions somewhat better. But that remains a matter of opinion. Cool
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Helium



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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:07 pm

Quote :
QQ wanted to know if---for those who already (for whatever reasons) believed in an invisible, hands-off, observer---that belief gave them any practical advantages over a non-theist belief system.

That's a good question.
With me it was a case that I developed my belief system and then someone on a chat line to be honest pointed out that it was deism. So that then, I suppose, helped refine my beliefs when I began reading about it and corresponsing with deists.
But essentially for me, then, the question is ... does my belief system (deism) give me any practical advantages over a non-theist belief system.

Again that's a good question.

And my answer, not to be smart, is maybe yes, maybe no.

I guess it has to do with the comfort level one feels with one's religion or world point of view.

If an atheist is comfortable with his beliefs, then no, I don't think my belief system would have any practical advantages whatsoever, because he's already comfortable.

And I guess this applies with any of the theistic religions.

For instance, take my ma and pa, god bless them. They seemed comfortable with their religion, especially my mom, and so I would have to say that my deism would not give me any practical advantage over them.

Perhaps a practical advantage of deism over some other religions, but typically not over atheists, is that we don't feel we are chosen or special and that all may choose to worship God however they may, the only proviso being the usual caveat that their usual worship does not deny others their freedome to worship in a way that they truly believe - at least within the bounds of reason.

I think deists would, by and large, be more peaceful just by the fact that we believe God is on everybody's side equally, so to speak.
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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:37 pm

Gnomon wrote:
Uriah wrote:
As an Atheist personal spirituality has no meaning, and time spent harboring such immaterial concepts is regarded as wasteful and fanciful.
Ironically, QQ claimed to be a "spiritual atheist", but she agreed with the second part of the sentence above.

If even Atheists can be spiritual, what more do Deists have to offer?

I would counter, I suppose, that "spiritual atheist" is just another term for "Deist".

If anything, they are close enough in basic philosophy to make the differences moot. There's no reason to split those hairs. A person believes whatever they find comfort in.


I liked that old bitty. I hope her last days were filled with happiness.
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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:29 pm

If Deists don't have any practical, worldly advantages over Atheists, maybe they have some theoretical aspirations beyond those of make-the-best-of-a-bad-situation Atheists.

I have been hearing radio ads touting the advantages of Christian Hope. The implication is that non-Christians have no hope for a better tomorrow. Presumably, for Atheists it's a brief life of tears, and then you die. But I suspect that Muslims are also living in hope that the afterlife will be better than this life of struggle (jihaad). Even some Buddhists seem to have doctrinal reasons for hope in an upwardly-mobile reincarnation. Atheists may counter with a gritty, self-sufficient, here & now, pragmatic attitude of "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade".

So what do Deists hope for? I don't mean "vainly wish for", but what improvements over the current situation do Deists have some realistic, confident expectation for? What rational grounds do you have for optimism?
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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:44 pm

Modern Atheism, insofar as it has a philosophical justification, seems to be based mostly on the philosophy of Existentialism. In that case, the implication is that life-in-general is meaningless, so the only meaning that counts is my personal evaluation of my life. Can Deists derive some cosmic meaning from their tenuous inference of an eternal Observer - Evaluator for whom this vale of tears has, presumably, some greater meaning?


Wiki :
Absurdism is a philosophy stating that the efforts of humanity to find meaning in the universe ultimately fail (and, hence, are absurd) because no such meaning exists, at least in relation to humanity. The word "absurd" in this context does not mean "logically impossible" but rather "humanly impossible".[1]

"...in spite of or in defiance of the whole of existence he wills to be himself with it, to take it along, almost defying his torment. For to hope in the possibility of help, not to speak of help by virtue of the absurd, that for God all things are possible -- no, that he will not do. And as for seeking help from any other—no, that he will not do for all the world; rather than seek help he would prefer to be himself—with all the tortures of hell, if so it must be.—Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death[2]



Atheist-Existentialist argument : It's absurd to butt your head against a brick wall. It only hurts your head, and what good will it do you? Just humbly accept that you can't break through the wall, and get on with your life. The cosmic meaning you seek is forever beyond your reach.

Why then do Deists insist that G*d is beyond that wall?
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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:10 pm

Gnomon wrote:
Modern Atheism, insofar as it has a philosophical justification, seems to be based mostly on the philosophy of Existentialism. In that case, the implication is that life-in-general is meaningless, so the only meaning that counts is my personal evaluation of my life. Can Deists derive some cosmic meaning from their tenuous inference of an eternal Observer - Evaluator for whom this vale of tears has, presumably, some greater meaning?

I'm in the existentialist camp regarding meaning. I think it's up to us as individuals and as members of society to arbitrate and create meaning. The process is essentially dualistic in nature.

IMO, the question of meaning doesn't even make sense at the "absolute" holistic transpersonal level.

I found this website on Existentialism and thought it was pretty interesting... and truthful...
Quote :
Meaning is the quintessential existential topic. All topics lead to and are connected with meaning. An essential assumption of the existential theorists is that people are meaning seeking creatures. It is meaning that can make existence bearable. Conversely, the lack of meaning is one of the greatest existential terrors. Becker (1973) said it well: "Man cannot endure his own littleness unless he can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level" (p. 196).
http://www.existential-therapy.com/Special_Topics/Meaning.htm

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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Tue Jan 20, 2009 1:31 pm

Quote :

I'm in the existentialist camp regarding meaning. I think it's up to us as individuals and as members of society to arbitrate and create meaning. The process is essentially dualistic in nature.

IMO, the question of meaning doesn't even make sense at the "absolute" holistic transpersonal level.

Meaning does not exist in isolation. Even my personal meaning emerges from my inter-relationships with the larger context. In that sense, the absolute, holistic, trans-personal level is the ultimate context.

For the most part we derive whatever personal meaning we are aware of from the context within arm's reach. But some of us are not content with proximate meaning, and are motivated to search for ultimate meaning. Such malcontents are usually, dismissively called dabblers, dilettantes, or philosophers---or worse. Some may even drive themselves insane with their vain quest for final answers. In order to preserve my sanity, I prefer to think of the quest as a game or hobby.

Existential meaning is inherently dualistic. That's the problem. For those impractical, idealistic thinkers, the ultimate goal is monistic, holistic, unitary Meaning, with a capital M. Lovers of Wisdom have been seeking that elusive butterfly of Why for eons. Yet the big M continues to frustrate earnest seekers by flitting away, tantalizingly, just beyond their finite grasp.

So it seems that, baring a direct revelation from the big WHY in the sky, the only way we can hope to answer those beguiling "why" questions is to get our hands dirty---to compile and analyze the database of little answers to "how" questions. That's why pragmatic Science functions as the hand of Philosophy, even as idealistic Philosophy is the heart of Science.

Is it unreasonable to hope that all of the little Hows will add-up to one big Why?
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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Tue Jan 20, 2009 3:34 pm

Gnomon wrote:
Quote :

I'm in the existentialist camp regarding meaning. I think it's up to us as individuals and as members of society to arbitrate and create meaning. The process is essentially dualistic in nature.

IMO, the question of meaning doesn't even make sense at the "absolute" holistic transpersonal level.

Meaning does not exist in isolation. Even my personal meaning emerges from my inter-relationships with the larger context.

Yes, that what I was getting at when I made reference to the fact that we are members of society. There is definitely an inter-subjective aspect to meaning making as well as objective materialistic correlates.

Gnomon wrote:
Is it unreasonable to hope that all of the little Hows will add-up to one big Why?
It can't hurt to try and find out I guess.

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PostSubject: Re: The Point of Deism   Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:28 pm

Quote :
I have heard Classical Deism described as the religion of elite English and American gentlemen. Fair enough. But transforming Deism by removing the religion part and turning it into the personal pursuit of enlightenment for modern amateur philosophers is not necessarily that much of an improvement.
My use of the term "personal philosophy" was intended to be construed as equivalent to the philosophical term "worldview". It was not intended to imply an impractical, Utopian dream with no real-world consequences.

My personal philosophy is my understanding of what the world is, how it works, and why it works as it does. On the practical side "it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world and interacts with it". In other words it governs everything I do---as an individual---in the context of Religion, Science, Politics, and so forth.

However, a collective worldview is more like a scientific paradigm or folk myth that members accept as the group's official version Truth. Which means that any non-conforming personal views must be shoe-horned into the authorized, common understanding. And that's where we must be careful not to lose our personal integrity in the pursuit of social unity---by submitting our personal beliefs to a dominant communal ideology.

Ultimately, Deism as both a personal and a communal worldview should cover all of the bases noted below. Would anyone like to propose PanenDeist answers to each element?

Wiki:
According to Apostel, a worldview should comprise seven elements:

1. An ontology, a descriptive model of the world
2. An explanation of the world
3. A futurology, answering the question "where are we heading?"
4. Values, answers to ethical questions: "What should we do?"
5. A praxeology, or methodology, or theory of action.: "How should we attain our goals?"
6. An epistemology, or theory of knowledge. "What is true and false?"
7. An etiology. A constructed world-view should contain an account of its own "building blocks," its origins and construction.

http://www.vub.ac.be/CLEA/pub/books/worldviews/
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