Re: virus: Faith (consolidation)

John \ (
Thu, 29 May 1997 08:52:42 -0400

At 09:07 PM 5/28/97 -0600, David McF wrote:

>OK. If your definition of God is Trent Reznor then I believe God exists,
>and am therefore not an atheist. See how my belief in any X you care
>to talk about depends entirely on the definition of X?

Alright! I'm a little slow, but I got it now. I've discovered the beam in
my own eye. Thanks.

It'll take some more work, but I think a common definition of "God" that
can hit the definitions of practically all major religions and older
mythologies is:

1) A being with greater power than humans.
2) A being with non-trivial influence over nature.
3) A being that influences human activity through his/her actions.
4) A being who has either personally, or through his or her lineage,
created the universe or imposed order upon it.

Some religions and formulations of God will value some of these elements
more than others, but I think I've managed to hit the major points.

The Iranaean (traditional Christian) God hits both 1), 2), 3), and 4). You
know why, I'll not detail it here.

The Whitehead Christian God fits all four: although that formulation of God
did not create the universe, he was the primary creative influence behind
the *ordering* of the universe, and as such has non-trivial influence over
nature, and has imposed order on the universe.

Polythesistic religions (the Greek pantheon, the Roman pantheon, the Norse
pantheon, etc) also include creation stories, etc.

This *does* not include pure animistic definitions of God, but there are
examples of mixes between Animisim and Polythesism, such as the mythology
of the Aztecs. Anthough the Aztec pantheon included many gods, chief among
these was Ometeotl, who was the "supreme being." It was out of his body
that everything was created, and to which everything returned, including
the other Aztec gods. In a sense, animistic (everything-is-god), but with
emphasis on the polythesism.

This also encompasses Von Danikanism (IE, Chariots of the Gods, etc), whith
some qualifiers on 4) -- aliens may not have created the universe, but they
created/ordered us.

Hey! Anyone else! Additions, changes? :-)

>That is not what I am saying. Let me try again. If your definition of
>God includes the fact that he is undetectable, then there is no way to prove
>(or disprove) his existence.

People have made this claim about God -- that his existence *cannot* be
proved. Perhaps they think this makes him more ineffable. I think it makes
him ineffective. I sense we agree here.

>I am agnostic with respect to that definition.
>But you have to realize that puts your God in the same category as
>invisible pink unicorns (the famous IPU) which is probably not what
>you want.

No, it's not what I want. :-)

>> So you are not an Athiest. You are mainly an Agnostic, you just fail to
>> believe in the traditional Judeo-Christian diety. Alright, I can dig that.
>> I mean, I *did* say that Agnosticism is the only logical position.
>Someone who does not believe in the traditional Judeo-Christian deity
>is usually called an atheist. I am not making this up. You can call them
>whatever you like of course.

So, is this a "real" athiest, then?

>> Ah! I get it. "Real" athiests don't believe this, "real" christians don't
>> believe that, "real" men don't eat quiche. Sorry I wasted your time. I
>> didn't realize we were talking about anything real...
>Give me some credit or find someone else to talk to.

I'm just a little impatient with the apparent mutability of the definition
of "athiest" when you use it and the addition of the phrase "real" when I
can demonstrate evidence that there are people who lay claim to the same
name who believe differently than you. I think you got a point off of me
already on this one, when I suggested that people who already held my
position would agree with me? Aren't you begging, just a little bit?

>When I said "real" atheist, I mean people who call themselves atheists
>as opposed to atheists that fit your definition.

Okay: It's not just my definition, pup. It's (as I said) based in reading
and experience with other Athiests.

I *do* find your position to be more mature and thoughtful than most people
who call themselves "Athiest."

>> of nonexistence," and an argument over the nature of this term comes as a
>> complete and total surprise to me. Eh?
>Perhaps you haven't met many atheists.

And perhaps your office has a bloody great aqarium in it. Point about
reasonable assumptions made, +1. (With a bonus of +1 for turning it back on

>> Tell you what: you don't tell me I'm not a real Christian, and I won't tell
>> you you're not a real Athiest. Deal?

I'll take that as "no, but shut up anyway."

John Williams ICQ Address: 1213689
Various Artists: Raising the Tide of Mediocrity for Two Years