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Discussion in 'Quackenbush's' started by Gadfly, Jun 22, 2012.
As a historical figure, Socrates is not attributed with any supernatural capabilities which would call the truth of his existence into question. However, he is the credited author of a philosophical learning style which can be proven effective.
The majority of the historical evidence is presented by Plato (perhaps other sources which are unknown to me), but the question of Socrates existence does not discredit the value of his teachings. For example, if we were to learn Plato made up Socrates as a trick to promote his own ideas, I don’t think the Socratic or scientific method would be discredited. The respect for Socrates is based on the value of the ideas and not the source.
I have faith the earth is round although I’ve never proven it myself. I trust the evidence provided by multiple unconnected and dispassionate sources.
Do you have evidence which suggests Socrates was a fictional character? What is your dispute with the commonly accepted evidence presented? I understand your point was rhetorical.
I don't think one who believes a fictional character was real is "insane" – only mislead or misinformed. I was into my teens when I learned about King Arthur. I thought he was a historical figure. Parts of the story seemed obvious fiction, but I figured he was based on a real King Arthur with a real round table.
By the way Coel, I’d still like to know about those coherent alternatives you mentioned. I think we could do something there.
Apparently you didn't feel as though you could "do anything" with the alternatives I provided.
Nobody's promised you any proof. I certainly haven't. We were—and still are, unless I've missed something—discussing faith and the requirement for faith that life in an uncertain world places upon us. At least that is how I have framed the issue, and although Perham1 and Dionysus have disagreed with me on certain issues, no one up to this point has made any effort to deconstruct the way that I have framed it.
The question isn't about proof, or the standards for proof that you may or may not want to apply to any given set of claims. You are free to disbelieve in the gospels, and I offer you no system by which you can be any more certain than you already are of the events that they relate.
My only point is this: if we are to dismiss supernatural claims merely on the basis that they are supernatural—and if we can only accept them by a process of naturalization that renders them no longer supernatural—then it seems to me that we have begun with a conclusion that arranges the content of the claim in such a way that it can never be accepted. Our dismissal of the claim, in such a case, is not the product of logic or reason, but rather it was the point of origin from which we began our consideration of the claim.
The scenario that you offer pretty much parallels the scenario of the gospels, sans the video cameras. It seems to me that the historical timing of Jesus' life and his miracles—if the stories are true—were not arbitrarily selected, and it doesn't seem too unreasonable to suggest that your need for video evidence does not outweigh God's sense of timing and historical opportunity (again, if the stories are true). Nor would we expect people who knew Jesus and witnessed his miracles to be any more "dispassionate" than Plato or Xenephon were in their characterizations of Socrates' trial and death.
It seems to me that nature presents us with two coherent alternatives about the Truth of All Things. Either you believe in an infinite regress or you believe in a singularity. And if you believe in a singularity, and I think the majority of thinking people will, then you are ultimately compelled to accept the primordial non plus ultra, or to what we might refer to as Godel's Exception—a singularity that lays down the basic axioms of the Universe without being subject to those axioms, nor to any higher set of axioms except those that are manifest within the very being of the singularity.
Nothing I've said so far means that the singularity has to be the Christian God, or even a God. But I see nothing that prevents the Christian God from being compatible with the basic idea of the singularity, and I think a pretty good case could be made that the notion of singularity implies purpose. And from there, the road home seems pretty straight-forward.
To me, the infinite regress alternative seems far-fetched, even silly, by comparison.
Supernatural claims are not dismissed because they are supernatural. They are dismissed because they are all-too-human, conceived to mitigate humanity’s chief existential grievances: death and injustice. Another world had to be invented to offer solace to this one.
Sounds a lot like Plato's Republic. Do you suggest we dismiss its claims as well?
Thanks for your thoughts, my friend.
I think we would agree on many things and perhaps only disagree on some minor points.
I preferred to avoid talking about the Gospels because that tends to steer conversations into biased and emotional responses (from both sides – as you can see). I sincerely don’t believe using such examples works in the favor of reaching greater insight. However, talking about things that are not beloved gives us a more rational and detached view (King Arthur & Super Jumps).
Belief in the Gospels is a matter of faith. No proof will be offered (as I have defined it), and one must simply choose that they believe in the morality and salvation presented by the Gospels.
Our lives are a gracious gift, and if belief in the Gospels maximizes joy, then by gosh you should do that. Life is not about being right or wrong… That’s just ego talking. Life is about joy. Life is about love. If someone says Jesus=Love, and they really feel that joy - that precious feeling of happiness, man - I can only be happy for them. No way do I want to tell them they're wrong because that's not the point. I want to tell them they are right! They are right! So is the person who finds that joy in Islam. (ok - so that's some personal philosophy I wanted to add)
I do not think we should dismiss supernatural claims because they are supernatural. Heck – what about those stories of people lifting cars off of loved ones? That is supernatural, and we can surely try to come up with an explanation in science. That’s fun. Science is pushed forward by the supernatural. Understanding the cosmos is a supernatural feat if there ever was one! Shoot - we could even get into the supernatural aspect of the Greeks and discoveries in mathematics. They had to kill 100 goats when they found Pi!!! (ha - I don't know if that's true, but my calc professor Uri Treisman tells that story - perhaps the greatest professor I've ever encountered - if you know about the Greeks and the whole number theory - it adds some credibility to the story).
On a personal note, and I’m breaking my rule here (here comes my ego)…. I believe the Gospels are a mixture of history and myth. I would put the Iliad, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon in the same category. There is some critical and important truth – even supernatural truth in all these works. They all claim a divinely inspired truth derived from a supernatural source. Perhaps they’re all correct… Perhaps they’re all wrong… I believe a mixture of faith and analytical ability is needed to produce the correct conclusion. (I hope most will forgive the apparent disrespect of putting Homer's work in with those others. I've been reading about the Mycenaeans and the possible historical King Agamemnon, so it was a dispassionate way to make my point).
I appreciate your thoughts, Gadfly.
Today, the Catholic church has exhaustive requirements before substantiating miracles.
No they don't. If you think hearsay that Aunt Maude's fever broke when she fondled a picture of Mother Teresa, then yeah, it's "exhaustive".
This is from Christopher Hitchens regarding his Devil's Advocate role in the beatification of Mother Teresa.
One of the features of this cult is its belief in miracles, and one of the conditions that must be met by its candidates for sainthood is their supposed ability to intervene, from beyond the grave, to cure earthly diseases. Just as the Virgin Mary seems to appear only to believing Catholics, so miracles tend to occur only when a requirement for them is specified. In order for "Mother" Teresa to be "beatified"-the technical first stage of full canonization-a miracle attributable to her posthumous efforts had to be certified. And a Bengali girl was duly found to claim that her cancerous tumor had vanished after a ray of light emanated from a picture of the departed nun. (You will not fail to observe that the girl already had such a photograph in her home and was praying to it.)
But the beatification bureaucrats did not even trouble to meet these standards. The girl's physician stated plainly that she had not had a cancer. She had had a cyst. And the cyst had not responded to prayer. It had responded to a prescribed course of medicine. The patient's father concurred with this account. Had anyone interviewed the doctor, in order at least to test the claim that medical science was baffled by the recovery? No, they had not. In other words, and even by the unexacting methods employed by saint-hunters, the "miracle" was a palpable fraud, of the sort that might have embarrassed a medicine-man selling colored water from the back of a covered wagon before cantering away to the next credulous township.
But this was not at all the sense that one received from the mass media, which very often reported the "miracle" without even troubling to mention the contrary evidence. A miracle was required for the process, and it had been found. End of story. The best that even skeptical reports could do was to cite those "for" the miracle and those "against," as if by quoting both sides they had fulfilled the duty of objectivity. Some say wooden statues bleed and stone statues weep, and some say not. Who knows? We report . . . you decide.
I’m a little disappointed in the church, but I can’t say I’m entirely surprised.
I don't know if I have a sufficient reply or explanation for you, Coel. I don't mean the hedonic treadmill of seeking happiness which is never truly achieved by hedonism. I was trying to convey a deeper sense of joy that is only achieved through love - a total love that Christ alludes to - the death of self that Paul alludes to - the Nirvana that Buddha alludes to.
I enjoy these positive discussions – especially when they get down to something so important.
The deepness of love I suggest cannot be intellectualized. Indeed, I think the intellect is a feeble child mewing in an ocean of understanding. Science and the intellect only create an opaqueness which hides certain truth. Not to demean the intellect or science – they have tremendously practical applications. This, of course, is a very hard thing to understand because the understanding requires ego death.
Christ introduces a new type of social love which varies from the famous “eye for an eye” first proposed by Hammurabi, then expanded by Confucius to the “Golden Rule.” Christ says “turn the other cheek”. Christ posits a tremendous “love thy enemies” leap. The death of ego and the transformation of selflessness. However, no matter how fascinating this concept is, one wonders how practical the application of it could be. I feel Christ may be discussing a dyad or relational philosophy other than one which should be employed by society at large. In that philosophy is the love I wish to maintain. I do not seek salvation, heaven, immortality or other pagan ideals.
I like your clarification of joy being inward and love being outward – it is a critical clarification. I also liked how you put love looks backwards in the creation of justice. Never thought of it that way, but it is indeed true. That is perhaps the answer to the practical use of Christ’s philosophy at a state level.