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View Full Version : The trouble with having a separate 'religion/philosophy' sub-forum



rusmeister
14-09-2009, 06:17
Is that it treats religion (and philosophy) as if it were some extra, some little detail, something else, that did not apply to all the activities of man. Put another way, we treat philosophy, whether it springs from religion or not, as one of many subjects, rather than as the thing that defines all of the other subjects.

Since one's philosophy, in its most correct sense of 'world-view', IS the thing that determines how everybody talks about everything else, it is absurd to attempt to limit the discussions about it to one little sub-forum.

If you wish to discuss education, the very first questions that need to be answered even for two people to be 'on the same page' is 'What is the nature of man?' and 'What is his purpose in life?' and those answers are relevant and on-topic to any discussion of education.
If you wish to discuss life and death, the comedy and tragedy thereof, etc, again, you must answer those highly philosophical questions - precisely the questions that religions and philosophies claim to answer.
If you are discussing women in Afghanistan, for example, how you view women in general (world-view) is relevant and on-topic to how you think we should react to treatment of women in Afghanistan.


It is foolish, generally speaking, for a philosopher to set fire to another philosopher in Smithfield Market because they do not agree in their theory of the universe. That was done very frequently in the last decadence of the Middle Ages, and it failed altogether in its object. But there is one thing that is infinitely more absurd and unpractical than burning a man for his philosophy. This is the habit of saying that his philosophy does not matter, and this is done universally in the twentieth century, in the decadence of the great revolutionary period. General theories are everywhere contemned; the doctrine of the Rights of Man is dismissed with the doctrine of the Fall of Man. Atheism itself is too theological for us to-day. Revolution itself is too much of a system; liberty itself is too much of a restraint. We will have no generalizations. Mr. Bernard Shaw has put the view in a perfect epigram: "The golden rule is that there is no golden rule." We are more and more to discuss details in art, politics, literature. A man's opinion on tramcars matters; his opinion on Botticelli matters; his opinion on all things does not matter. He may turn over and explore a million objects, but he must not find that strange object, the universe; for if he does he will have a religion, and be lost. Everything matters--except everything.
Heretics -- Introductory Remarks on the Importance of Orthodoxy (http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/heretics/ch1.html)

Qdos
14-09-2009, 10:27
You're asking for a bigger pulpit Rusmeister? :9456:

Let's get things segregated a little. Religion and philosophy are not the same things. One can be philosophical as an atheist, and religious as a numbskull who hasn't got enough working grey matter to enter into any great degree of philosophy.

Everyone ponders life issues sometimes, but it doesn't make them religious, even if they are (to some degree) philosophising.

Thing is, with religion, you can't push it into peoples faces. That's why it has its own forum I guess.

Philosophy is a thought process used in a variety of manners, it's not just used to ponder the imporbabilities of an afterlife - it has many far more practical applications in a number of fashions and is something which is indiginous to the conscious mind we possess.

OlgaT
14-09-2009, 10:40
Rusmeister, by other words, if I understood you correctly, you'd like to remove all sub-forums and create the only one philosophy/religion?
You are right that all our thoughts are influenced by our world-view, or by our "religion". And thats true that in order to avoid misunderstandings we should start all our discussions from determining the meaning of the terms we use in a sense of how we see them, what they are for us. This is the main rule of the Art of argumentation and debate by the way.

But anoter question is whether we want to turn out innocent chatter into the serious scholastic reasoning?


This is the habit of saying that his philosophy does not matter, and this is done universally in the twentieth century.
Why do you think its become a phenomenon of the 20th century? Because this is the age of information. Everybody can get any information and have his own opinion regarding everything. But the problem is that such knowledge is limited. We do not know the essence, and we do not care about it. Because what is important nowadays is not the truth, but the possibility to declare Yourself, to say to the world Im a person as far as I have my own opinion. And nothing else matters...

rusmeister
14-09-2009, 20:15
You're asking for a bigger pulpit Rusmeister? :9456:


Rusmeister, by other words, if I understood you correctly, you'd like to remove all sub-forums and create the only one – philosophy/religion?

No and no. A pulpit is a specific object - an elevated platform or high reading desk used in preaching or conducting a worship service. I am doing neither, because I am not asking people to believe - I am challenging modern fallacies of thought, which is a quite different thing. Things like "people in the Middle Ages were much more ignorant than they are today" or "women have always been oppressed and subjugated by men" are actually amazingly easy to prove false and that can force the person to rethink their taken-for-granted assumptions. That isn't preaching, so "podium" would be more appropriate than "pulpit".




Let's get things segregated a little. Religion and philosophy are not the same things. One can be philosophical as an atheist, and religious as a numbskull who hasn't got enough working grey matter to enter into any great degree of philosophy.

Everyone ponders life issues sometimes, but it doesn't make them religious, even if they are (to some degree) philosophising.

Thing is, with religion, you can't push it into peoples faces. That's why it has its own forum I guess.

Philosophy is a thought process used in a variety of manners, it's not just used to ponder the imporbabilities of an afterlife - it has many far more practical applications in a number of fashions and is something which is indiginous to the conscious mind we possess.


I make a distinction between thinking about one's views - philosophizing - and having a philosophy that one is not aware of and/or is little/poorly thought-out. A great many people do not philosophize. But they make statements and perform actions BASED on the philosophy or fragments thereof that they have.

On religion, point taken. I think what I'm really speaking to is being told that comments on a subject are "off-topic"; when we are allowed to conduct light chit-chat on various topics, but are not allowed to question or challenge the ideas of others. If people state something as true, they ought to be willing to back it up (as non-believers always expect of believers, btw).

The Afghan thread is a perfect example. If the unquestioned assumptions about the historical treatment of women are wrong or doubtful, then that casts the entire topic in a different light, and comments which reveal that to be the case are 'on-topic', even though they may not be 'light chit chat'. They directly impact the discussion, and they are more complex because they are more thoroughly thought out. People can choose to not respond. No one is forced to respond AFAIK.

My own comments should not be taken as enforcing or preaching my faith, although the conclusions drawn from them might tend to point in that direction... I assume people don't believe, and so am not preaching. It's much more fun showing how certain forms of thought may (and in fact must) be wrong.




You are right that all our thoughts are influenced by our world-view, or by our "religion". And that’s true that in order to avoid misunderstandings we should start all our discussions from determining the meaning of the terms we use in a sense of how we see them, what they are for us. This is the main rule of the Art of argumentation and debate by the way.

But anoter question is whether we want to turn out innocent chatter into the serious scholastic reasoning?
Agreed on the first point. The following question, however, comes across as 'Do we want to really talk about things we think we know something about, or are we just blowing hot air?' Some may prefer the latter, and again, they are free to do so. i don't see why more serious discussion should be denied on a given topic merely because a person holds a dogmatic stand (that may be unreasonable, or the final product of thorough reasoning and experience).



Why do you think it’s become a phenomenon of the 20th century? Because this is the age of information. Everybody can get any information and have his own opinion regarding everything. But the problem is that such knowledge is limited. We do not know the essence, and we do not care about it. Because what is important nowadays is not the truth, but the possibility to declare Yourself, to say to the world – I’m a person as far as I have my own opinion. And nothing else matters...

Agreed, agreed, agreed. (where's the 'thumbs up' emoticon?)

Anything by Chesterton is worth reading more than 50 of my posts. The guy was much more charitable, humorous, and admired by his foes than I ever will be.

OlgaT
14-09-2009, 22:05
i don't see why more serious discussion should be denied on a given topic merely because a person holds a dogmatic stand (that may be unreasonable, or the final product of thorough reasoning and experience).
I wonder why you think that serious discussions are denied here - as I have seen there are some serious discussions on this sub-forum. But you are referring to the Afgan thread often - I haven't read it and maybe that's why do not understand clearly why you think that dogmatic mind can prevent us from debates.


Anything by Chesterton is worth reading more than 50 of my posts. The guy was much more charitable, humorous, and admired by his foes than I ever will be.
Haven't read anything except some of his detective stories. I think it's time to fill the knowledge gap. :)

rusmeister
17-09-2009, 06:32
I wonder why you think that serious discussions are denied here - as I have seen there are some serious discussions on this sub-forum. But you are referring to the Afgan thread often - I haven't read it and maybe that's why do not understand clearly why you think that dogmatic mind can prevent us from debates.

Haven't read anything except some of his detective stories. I think it's time to fill the knowledge gap. :)

Hi Olga,
It has been my experience that a great many people object to the idea of having their basic assumptions challenged. The practical result of this is that it seems that it's OK to engage in light chit-chat and post your opinions, but not to challenge the ideas of others on a serious intellectual level - at least, if you happen to think that Christianity is actually true, and not merely an interesting idea. It seems that the reverse is not true - it's OK to attack Christianity and laugh at it or talk about fundamentalist whackos, but not OK to show people who do how some of their thoughts about that may actually be wrong. There is a definite bias against any reasoned defense of Christian thought in the public mind (I hold that public education and the media (which is run mostly by graduates of public ed) are major factors in cultivating this - and those that escape public ed usually don't escape the media as well.

What people do is they either don't respond - they refuse to defend their ideas (often because they can't) or they complain to mods that such turns of discussion are 'boring' or 'off-topic'. Since it requires effort and time to read and think about heavy-duty stuff, I can understand why mods, as 3rd-parties who are supposed to peruse hundreds of posts and threads, are unwilling to take that time to examine the arguments (in the sense of reasoned thought, rather than squabbles), so they respond to 'the squeaky wheel, which gets the grease'.

The word 'dogma' is deeply misunderstood today. Most people automatically interpret it as 'unreasoned thinking'. The idea that dogmas are also arrived at through reason rarely crosses people's minds, to judge by how they use the word.
Here is a wonderful excerpt on the subject (http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/heretics/ch20.html) (As Christ said, "those with ears to hear, let them hear):


Whether the human mind can advance or not, is a question too little discussed, for nothing can be more dangerous than to found our social philosophy on any theory which is debatable but has not been debated. But if we assume, for the sake of argument, that there has been in the past, or will be in the future, such a thing as a growth or improvement of the human mind itself, there still remains a very sharp objection to be raised against the modern version of that improvement. The vice of the modern notion of mental progress is that it is always something concerned with the breaking of bonds, the effacing of boundaries, the casting away of dogmas. But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty. When we hear of a man too clever to believe, we are hearing of something having almost the character of a contradiction in terms. It is like hearing of a nail that was too good to hold down a carpet; or a bolt that was too strong to keep a door shut. Man can hardly be defined, after the fashion of Carlyle, as an animal who makes tools; ants and beavers and many other animals make tools, in the sense that they make an apparatus. Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined scepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.

The best sites for Chesterton (also commonly referred to as 'GKC') are:

G. K. Chesterton's Works on the Web (http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/index.html) (the best collection of his works online that I know of)

The American Chesterton Society (http://chesterton.org/) (A great introductory page for people who want to learn about him. Ironic that the American Chesterton Society site is much better than the British one.)

G.K. Chesterton: The "Colossal Genius" (Links Page) (http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/04/gk-chesterton-colossal-genius-links.html) (This is a mega-links page, with lots and lots of access to other general info and writings about Chesterton. It's a Catholic site, but you can ignore the Catholic ads and just focus on the links if you like.

I recommend at some point reading the biography by Masie Ward (http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/18707-8.txt) - the most authoritative, and a friend of the Chestertons who both knew them personally and with the most access to archives and everything else, rather than the more 'scholarly' biographies, and most especially, his own autobiography (http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/GKC-Autobiography.txt), which is quite atypical for an autobiography - he sometimes seems to forget to think about himself in thinking about his life.

The nice thing is that most of his stuff is out of copyright, and thus is free online.

OlgaT
17-09-2009, 11:04
Hi rusmeister,

It has been my experience too. And I was talking about it when I said that people don't care about the truth but only about engaging in "light chit-chats". Why they don’t care? Because 1) they don’t care at all – looking for the truth can be very boring, 2) they believe in their dogmas. What is dogma for me, in which sense I use the word: it's a belief in one theory, postulate etc. which does not accept any criticism because it is supposed to be the only true.

Serious intellectual level – what are you talking about? Most people ignore seriousness in general because it doesn't entertain them. But nobody forces you to debate with such people. And regarding mods – I believe it could not be easy to distinguish whether it's off-topic or not. Also, it's a usual thing when, while discussing, we jump from one topic to another and can't keep the same subject for a long time. That's why, on my opinion, the thread with discussions shouldn't be moderated unless there is something offensive in it (but of course not because it's boring or off-topic). And I also talked about it in the Editing posts thread.

And regarding Chrisitian thoughts and bias against its defense. I'm not religious and consider myself open-minded. But in my life I've had a lot of discussins with religious people. They had the same answer to all my arguments – but you can find in the Bible it is written so and so. To all my objections that I prefer to think myself and am ready to doubt its divine origin, they called me a blasphemer and refused to continue debates. So, I can understand where that bias comes from. But, frankly speaking, I don't think we have this issue in Russia – both public education and media mostly stand for religious views here, which even makes me concern that it goes too far.

PS. Thanks for the links - I will surely read some books of Chesterton, maybe later. Now I read only in French since I have to improve it asap.

rusmeister
17-09-2009, 13:06
Hi rusmeister,

It has been my experience too. And I was talking about it when I said that people don't care about the truth but only about engaging in "light chit-chats". Why they dont care? Because 1) they dont care at all looking for the truth can be very boring, 2) they believe in their dogmas. What is dogma for me, in which sense I use the word: it's a belief in one theory, postulate etc. which does not accept any criticism because it is supposed to be the only true.

Serious intellectual level what are you talking about? Most people ignore seriousness in general because it doesn't entertain them. But nobody forces you to debate with such people. And regarding mods I believe it could not be easy to distinguish whether it's off-topic or not. Also, it's a usual thing when, while discussing, we jump from one topic to another and can't keep the same subject for a long time. That's why, on my opinion, the thread with discussions shouldn't be moderated unless there is something offensive in it (but of course not because it's boring or off-topic). And I also talked about it in the Editing posts thread.

And regarding Chrisitian thoughts and bias against its defense. I'm not religious and consider myself open-minded. But in my life I've had a lot of discussins with religious people. They had the same answer to all my arguments but you can find in the Bible it is written so and so. To all my objections that I prefer to think myself and am ready to doubt its divine origin, they called me a blasphemer and refused to continue debates. So, I can understand where that bias comes from. But, frankly speaking, I don't think we have this issue in Russia both public education and media mostly stand for religious views here, which even makes me concern that it goes too far.

PS. Thanks for the links - I will surely read some books of Chesterton, maybe later. Now I read only in French since I have to improve it asap.

Largely agree and understand.
I'd try to point out a deeper lever, though, on discussions with religious people (presumably Christians). If you identify the source of their authority, what it is that determines the nature of their faith, you can deal with that. It sounds like you've dealt primarily with protestant Christians. certainly, if they are saying "you can find in the Bible it is written so and so" then they hold that their authority is the Bible, but in fact are themselves interpreting what the Bible says on their own (aka "Sola Scriptura"). Orthodox and Catholic Christians will not take that approach. They refer to the Church as the thing that explains the Bible (rather than the individual doing so), and while we don't cease using our reason, in general there is too little that we know to be able to form theology on our own.

Bonne chance avec le francais! :)

OlgaT
17-09-2009, 13:22
No, I talked to Orthodox mostly. What is their problem (people I talked to), as I think, is that they believe without thinking, without reasoning. They were brought up in that belief and they can't think in other ways. Maybe because they are afraid of losing the ground if their main beliefs will be shaken. Yes, sometimes they apply to the Church, to the Fathers of the Church writings, and they like to finish conversations by telling me: "You are sinful, you should go to the church and you will feel how wrong you are".
I've been to the churches - nothing changed. Have started thinking I'm really very sinful...

Merci! Je fais de mon mieux. :)

rusmeister
17-09-2009, 21:34
No, I talked to Orthodox mostly. What is their problem (people I talked to), as I think, is that they believe without thinking, without reasoning. They were brought up in that belief and they can't think in other ways. Maybe because they are afraid of losing the ground if their main beliefs will be shaken. Yes, sometimes they apply to the Church, to the Fathers of the Church writings, and they like to finish conversations by telling me: "You are sinful, you should go to the church and you will feel how wrong you are".
I've been to the churches - nothing changed. Have started thinking I'm really very sinful...

Merci! Je fais de mon mieux. :)
You have to admit that if the religion was really true, that it really was a Church for everybody, it would have to be for people who don't reason as well as those that do. The solution is simple - rather than extrapolate from your experience that all Orthodox are unreasonable (not that you are), the obvious thing is to find reasonable Orthodoxy. Certainly, my experience is vastly different from yours...

OlgaT
18-09-2009, 10:21
Yes, I admit that it's for everybody but I admit as well that people shouldn't be afraid of criticizing it. Why not? I like when people argue my visions of doesn't-matter-what, because I have to defend it and, while disputing, I can find some aspects, some ideas I've never noticed before. Or, on the contrary, sometimes when I argue I stand for the opposite view, so that the opponent is to defend my true points of view and I would see if he can do it better than me and which arguments he would use... Argumentation is an art and it can be not only useful but interesting. And you may know people better while arguing with them. But I have digressed.

Again to Orthodoxy - sometimes I think that it's not like I have talked to the wrong people. Maybe the problem is in me: I myself do not want to understand them because of my own dogmas - it's me who is afraid of losing the ground. Since I believe if I become a true orthodox believer I will go to the nunnery. And since I'm not yet a true orthodox believer I don't want to do that.

rusmeister
18-09-2009, 12:36
Yes, I admit that it's for everybody but I admit as well that people shouldn't be afraid of criticizing it. Why not? I like when people argue my visions of doesn't-matter-what, because I have to defend it and, while disputing, I can find some aspects, some ideas I've never noticed before. Or, on the contrary, sometimes when I argue I stand for the opposite view, so that the opponent is to defend my true points of view and I would see if he can do it better than me and which arguments he would use... Argumentation is an art and it can be not only useful but interesting. And you may know people better while arguing with them. But I have digressed.

Again to Orthodoxy - sometimes I think that it's not like I have talked to the wrong people. Maybe the problem is in me: I myself do not want to understand them because of my own dogmas - it's me who is afraid of losing the ground. Since I believe if I become a true orthodox believer I will go to the nunnery. And since I'm not yet a true orthodox believer I don't want to do that.

At least you're honest to yourself. I personally am aware of a lot of criticism from inside, and clearer thinkers realize that the Church can be both a divine institution and full of totally non-divine members.

I think any sensible priest would steer you away from intensively radical changes like trying to become a nun right off the bat. It's a common syndrome of 'convertitis' - I understand Fr Joseph Honeycutt of Houston, Texas, has written a book on the subject called "Amazon.com: One Flew Over the Onion Dome: American Orthodox Converts, Retreads & Reverts (9781928653271): Joseph Huneycutt: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51QUZ-sW6fL.@@AMEPARAM@@51QUZ-sW6fL" that I wish I could get my hands on. Anyway, people who go overboard quickly also sometimes burn out quickly, because they set unattainable goals before themselves, don't attain them, and then despair, and sometimes drop out.

If you can access internet radio, I highly recommend "Ancient Faith Radio (http://ancientfaith.com/)" out of Chicago. It's nice, when far away from home, to hear radio in English, especially when it talks about stuff like this. They have two streams - music and talk, and plenty of podcasts on different topics.

OlgaT
18-09-2009, 13:47
Right off the bat? No, I can't agree. I am surrounded by Orthodoxy, orthodox believers. My mother is religious, she is an Old Believier, I guess you know what it is. And it can be only one step, maybe an event to trigger me into religion. I don't know.

About a year ago I already thought about nunnery, when I wanted to get some time just to stop and to think what to do in the mundane world. (Yes, I thougt about coming back, but who knows...). I refused that idea of course because I can't just go there without religious faith.

I only want to say that I don't understand how it is possible to be a Christian and continue working in business, think about money, career and so on... "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." (Eccl. 1:2)

Bogatyr
18-09-2009, 23:08
Right off the bat? No, I can't agree. I am surrounded by Orthodoxy, orthodox believers. My mother is religious, she is an Old Believier, I guess you know what it is. And it can be only one step, maybe an event to trigger me into religion. I don't know.

About a year ago I already thought about nunnery, when I wanted to get some time just to stop and to think what to do in the mundane world. (Yes, I thougt about coming back, but who knows...). I refused that idea of course because I can't just go there without religious faith.

I only want to say that I don't understand how it is possible to be a Christian and continue working in business, think about money, career and so on... "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." (Eccl. 1:2)

Those wishing to become monks/nuns, once granted initial blessing by a bishop, usually go through a "preparation/evaluation" period, at least one year and perhaps more, before they're accepted into a monastery as a monk. There are usually no "instant" changes like that granted.

Re: business: it is not easy. I was baptized into Russian Orthodoxy 3 years ago Pascha, and I have come to see my work and the work of those around me in my company as empty and pointless and absolutely lacking of any Grace. I continue on because I have a family to provide for.

I don't think employment (and certainly not *work*) in the world is considered in and of itself as negative in Orthodoxy -- it's clearly a necessity. Orthodoxy is very practical in that regard. But as Orthodox Christians we are called to be "little Christs" -- our "missionary" work is to give a living example to others of what life in Christ is like, so that others will look at us, the way we live and behave and interact with others, and say "I want what he has." So we're definitely not all called to live in caves or the desert, but to live in the world (which for Orthodox is harder and harder every year) and remain in Christ.

None of it is "easy," it's not meant to be. In fact, the Orthodox are expected to live a life of constant spiritual struggle. In my pre-Orthodox days I never really knew what "repent" meant. Most seem to think it means to say "oops, sorry!" and be done with it. It's not that at all -- it literally means "turning towards God," so that it is a *process*, not and *act*. A lifelong process...

And this is one of the reasons why Orthodoxy felt like "the right/true way". Salvation is not a one time thing, you can't say "I accept Jesus as my personal saviour" (such a statement is absolutely anti-Orthodox, by the way) and be done with it. The Orthodox teach that one can easily *lose* Grace and salvation granted at Baptism and Chrismation by the way one live's one's life.

Sorry for the random ramblings, but I hope that helps those who wanted to know a little more about Orthodoxy.

rusmeister
19-09-2009, 06:40
I only want to say that I don't understand how it is possible to be a Christian and continue working in business, think about money, career and so on... "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." (Eccl. 1:2)

What it says in Ecclesiastes is true. But if all is vanity, then so is monasticism - which was a thing gradually developing in the Church, rather than being the practice from the beginning. It's important to remember that the Church blesses marriage and having children, and it is impossible to take on those responsibilities and not attempt to provide for them. In the family, a 'cross' to bear no less than monasticism, someone must physically care for the children, and someone must 'bring home the bacon'. This devolved in essentially all societies throughout history, for obvious reasons, on the mother and father, respectively. Now business and career may not be necessary - you may be able to provide for yourself agriculturally (ie, by farming). But if you cannot, then, with a priest's blessing we can confidently go forth in the world and do what we must in the most Christ-like manner that we can.

PS, yes, I know about the Old Believers. I would say two things: One, that the most important thing is to strive to get as close to God, and the truth about God and the Church, as possible. In this sense, while it is best to be Orthodox, I would say it is still better to be an Old Believer than to be Catholic, better to be Catholic or old Anglican than to be a modern Protestant, better to be a Protestant than a Mormon, and so on (I think of this as 'the dartboard of truth'; ie, 'where is the bullseye?', and the worst thing is to miss the dartboard altogether). So in that sense, I believe that God's mercy is even greater than the Church, but we still want to be a part of THE actual Church. It's like wanting to be on a reliable ocean liner versus on a leaky old tub, small boat, or piece of driftwood to cross the ocean.

The other thing is that it all comes back to what we accept as genuine Authority - either that Authority is external (the Church) or it is internal (ourselves). When someone says 'the Bible', for example, you immediately have the problem of arbitrating disputes about what such-and-such a passage means. Who decides who is right, so believers can get on with the correct understandings? If one decides for oneself, then the authority is internal(based on MY OWN knowledge and understanding, and lack thereof). If one accepts external authority (as we do of parents and teachers) then we don't attempt to invent our own explanations. We ask that authority what the explanations are. The truest explanations will generally make sense, or be admittedly mystical, even if we don't like them. In fact, a true faith MUST include elements that we don't like. The only faith that could please even most people would be one that said...'Oh yeah, do whatever you want'... And so people do what they want, and that's why we don't have heaven on earth. What is good is generally thanks to those that do NOT do what they want, but rather what they OUGHT to do.

Side note - as a grammar teacher, I find the modal verbs 'should' and 'ought to' inexplicable in an atheist context. :)

OlgaT
19-09-2009, 12:52
Those wishing to become monks/nuns, once granted initial blessing by a bishop, usually go through a "preparation/evaluation" period, at least one year and perhaps more, before they're accepted into a monastery as a monk. There are usually no "instant" changes like that granted.
Agree, but I didn't say I would become a nun - as I understand it is possible to live in the nunnery and work there without taking the vail.


Agree with you both as regards to living in family and working. I know it's even harder to live in the secular world than in monastery because you have too many temptations and you have to keep your faith in spite of everything.

Maybe my too severe attitude to the christian life based on my personal disappointment - I don't like my work, don't like business in general because I believe it's useless - to produce things that will be thrown away in half a year and forgotten (especially when I worked in tire business). Instead I would better go to school since I'm a teacher. I will have less money but I will not die. Of course, it's another question, I only want to explain what I meant talking about business and Christianity.

Vanity is vanity, but sometimes (almost always) there is a way out. And the only thing that does not allow us to take a step forward is fear.


PS, yes, I know about the Old Believers. I would say two things: One, that the most important thing is to strive to get as close to God, and the truth about God and the Church, as possible. In this sense, while it is best to be Orthodox, I would say it is still better to be an Old Believer than to be Catholic, better to be Catholic or old Anglican than to be a modern Protestant, better to be a Protestant than a Mormon, and so on (I think of this as 'the dartboard of truth'; ie, 'where is the bullseye?', and the worst thing is to miss the dartboard altogether). So in that sense, I believe that God's mercy is even greater than the Church, but we still want to be a part of THE actual Church. It's like wanting to be on a reliable ocean liner versus on a leaky old tub, small boat, or piece of driftwood to cross the ocean.
I never understood that, rusmeister. Ortodoxy is better than Old Belief, the latter is better than Catholicism, which in its turn better than Protestantism and so on. What is the measure? How you can say what is better? "To be on a reliable ocean liner". But what if the liner will sink? Majority has never been a criterion of the truth. Exactly these differentiations and assessments of which religion is better make me stand apart.

rusmeister
19-09-2009, 14:32
I never understood that, rusmeister. Ortodoxy is better than Old Belief, the latter is better than Catholicism, which in its turn better than Protestantism and so on. What is the measure? How you can say what is better? "To be on a reliable ocean liner". But what if the liner will sink? Majority has never been a criterion of the truth. Exactly these differentiations and assessments of which religion is better make me stand apart.

I probably should have clarified that I am describing the dartboard as I see it and believe it to be the most accurate description of the dartboard. Others see things differently. I can say which is better based on the conclusions I have come to on which is the most authentic expression and continuation of the original Church established by Christ and spread by the Apostles.

It is ultimately not a question of 'better' or 'worse'. It is a question of 'true' or 'not true'. I only use the concept of 'better' here to express my belief - entirely compatible with Orthodoxy - that the mercy of God is greater than the divisions of Christendom - but that still doesn't let us completely off the hook from our responsibility to seek out the truest expression of faith.

On the ocean liner, analogies only go so far - any human analogy here will be to something that can fail somehow, so the analogy breaks down at that point. I only meant it as a comparison of which means you would prefer to attempt to sail across the ocean on.

Not sure where you get the idea of 'a majority' from; I haven't offered it as a criterion of truth, so I think there is a misunderstanding there.

Sasha girl
19-09-2009, 15:16
[QUOTE=rusmeister;576596] if you happen to think that Christianity is actually true, and not merely an interesting idea.

Hello everyone, I didn't finish the whole thead yet.

The quated makes a border between subjects of phylosophy and religion.

From my Russian School, Phylosopy is the math of mind where the reasons and purposes are questioned. Religion as a subject has got the main purpose to establish a beilive in internaty.

Religion can be of any origin, but serves the same purpose of establishing eternaty for people.

Physophy is a subject of checking the world's realities and questiong the existing subjects and topicts.

They are sometimes confused as discussion on Religion or eternaty is the main ? of both subjects.

Don't have my books on me to provide the original names for these ideas, sorry.

Bogatyr
19-09-2009, 20:54
Agree, but I didn't say I would become a nun - as I understand it is possible to live in the nunnery and work there without taking the vail.


Yes, there are "rabotniks" (at least that's the term I believe in the male monasteries).

OlgaT
19-09-2009, 21:48
I probably should have clarified that I am describing the dartboard as I see it and believe it to be the most accurate description of the dartboard. Others see things differently. I can say which is better based on the conclusions I have come to on which is the most authentic expression and continuation of the original Church established by Christ and spread by the Apostles.
Ok, now I see. But I have been wondering whether it's not possible to have the truest expression of faith without religion. Nietzsche said that there was the only Christian in the history - Jesus Christ. And maybe I am too strict, but I agree with him.

Religion was invented by people - the governors wanted to restrain people from threatening their power and frightened them by God and its punishment. The Church as it exists nowadays was founded by the state authorities. And I think that they have misrepresented the faith, including Jesus's teaching.

Not sure where you get the idea of 'a majority' from; I haven't offered it as a criterion of truth, so I think there is a misunderstanding there.
I got that idea from your ocean liner - you said it's better to cross the ocean in a big liner than in a small boat. And I decided you meant that it's always better to take the position of majority since if most people believe one thing is true, most likely it it really true. But I see now, it was a misunderstanding. My English is not that good yet to understand correctly some thoughtful and thus sometimes complicated phrases. So, thank you for clarifying your position.

Bogatyr
20-09-2009, 00:18
Ok, now I see. But I have been wondering whether it's not possible to have the truest expression of faith without religion. Nietzsche said that there was the only Christian in the history - Jesus Christ. And maybe I am too strict, but I agree with him.

This starts to get into semantics and "thin slices" of meaning, but I disagree with this. It is true that Jesus Christ who came to earth is both fully God (one of the three persons in the Holy Trinity) and fully human, but without sin. He was the first true human being as we were meant to be. If Nietzsche meant that only Christ was without sin, then I agree with him. But you must realize that "Christian" does not mean "human without sin," very very far from that. It just means a follower of Christ and member of His Church which is His Body. So in that sense, all the Apostles, Priests, lay people in the Orthodox Church are all "Christians" even though they are all sinful humans.

And that answers your first point -- no, there is no true faith without the Orthodox Church. It is not a "religion," the Orthodox Church is the Body of Christ. It's like saying "you can have faith without having faith" to say you can believe in and follow Christ but not be in His Church.



Religion was invented by people - the governors wanted to restrain people from threatening their power and frightened them by God and its punishment. The Church as it exists nowadays was founded by the state authorities. And I think that they have misrepresented the faith, including Jesus's teaching.



The Orthodox Church, the Body of Christ, was not "invented" by people. Christ taught the Apostles, and the Apostles passed that teaching on to the rest of the world. Every part of the Liturgy, the sacraments of the Church, all have a reason and a meaning, they are not arbitrary, invented, made up procedures at the whim of the priests.

In fact to be an early Christian was a very dangerous thing. Very many of the early members of the church ended up violently martyred (killed for their beliefs). The original Church was underground. Christians were very heavily persecuted by the governments because they were considered a great threat to the status quo.

If you mean the present Orthodox Church in Russia is a tool of the state then I also disagree with this. The Patriarchs, priests, and monks who remained in Russia and kept the Churches operating during Soviet times kept the Church alive for the world IMO. They suffered horrible persecution and limitations on their freedoms. I believe that they took the hardest path, and that the criticism from those who fled Russia after the revolution is ill-founded. I thank God for the priests, patriarchs, monks, nuns, etc. who remained in Russia and kept the Church alive for the time now where it can flower and grow again.

rusmeister
20-09-2009, 07:22
I'd like to once again offer G. K. Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man (http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/everlasting_man.html)". It was written for people who think that man invented religion. It challenges all of that modern thought, which is actually based on thin air, a number of fallacies, and the ignorance of some rather basic and obvious facts. The introduction alone is worth 100 good posts, but you can read it online for free!

Also, Chesterton frequently and successfully shows Nietzsche's fundamental wrongness in philosophy. He didn't write a book specifically about him, but touches on his ideas via those he influenced in his excellent book "Heretics (http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/heretics/)". But otherwise, what Bogatyr said.

I would soften what he said only a little. There is plenty of faith among believers, both Orthodox and heterodox worldwide. I personally think God will have mercy on lots of people outside the Church, as well as that being a member of the Church is no guarantee of salvation. However, if you are looking for the most authentic expression of the faith, you want to find the Church, as Bogatyr says, the Institution which must exist if Christianity is true at all.

By the way, Olga, your English is outstanding for a non-native speaker! You could join my advanced class in Moscow if you worked for the right company... (we've finished the advanced regular ESL courses and are doing an overview of English lit) :) You have few enough mistakes that I was wondering whether they were merely typos.

Bogatyr
20-09-2009, 09:07
... But otherwise, what Bogatyr said. ... I would soften what he said only a little....



I didn't intend to write anything "hard," but I suppose it can come across that way. I'm in no position to judge other people and didn't mean to at all. Of course there are many good people not in the Orthodox Church, and many people ostensibly "in" the Orthodox Church who aren't so good. What I meant to really warn / protect against is the notion of individual interpretation of scripture and individual faith, the "I'll pick and choose what I like and ignore the rest," the "I'm my own pope" sort of thing.

The Orthodox have such a treasure of tradition and the writings of the Saints and the Elders going all the way back to the beginning. I have learned so much from reading their writings, and I can't even say that I've scratched the surface of it all, not by a long shot. I'm now beginning to understand the great enormity of what I have yet to learn, and how far I have to go on my own spiritual journey. With the Orthodox there is so much help available. Knowing what I know now, I'd be terrified of trying to "go it alone," indeed "going it alone" is the antithesis of Orthodoxy.

So please continue to look in to Orthodoxy. There is so much material it is hard to know where to begin some times. But a great deal of the good stuff is written in Russian so if you're a native you've got a great head start.

One particularly good book to begin with is Metripolitan Anthony (Khrapovistky)'s "Confession."

Saint John of Kronstadt wrote "Maya Zhizn Vo Christie" (My Life In Christ), a wonderful collection of thoughts, prayers, and instruction from an incredibly Holy man:

. (http://www.magister.msk.ru/library/bible/comment/ioannkr/iokron1.htm)

I'll try to come up with some other approachable (not too heavy on Theology, which can get pretty complex at times with some authors) reading recommendations.

Also just reading the life stories of the Saints is very inspirational and instructive. St Innocent of Moscow (Alaska), St. John of San Francisco, St. John of Kronstadt, St. Ksenia of St. Petersburg are good ones. There's much more available in Russian than in English.

Ioann Snychyov wrote a great wealth of books.

Here's a Russian Language encyclopedia of Orthodox material:

Православная Энциклопедия

Православная *нциклопедия под редакцией Патриарха Московского и всея *уси Кирилла (электронная версия) (http://www.pravenc.ru/)

Some other good Russian language materials:

СЛОВО ПАСТЫРЯ: Православный видеопортал

http://media.tv-soyuz.ru/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=22&Itemid=54

OlgaT
20-09-2009, 12:30
Well, I see I have not enough material on hand to continue this discussion. I might really have to read Chesterton to know your position better. However I understand it. All you, Bogatyr said is well-known to me - I have heard about Christian conception and the Church. But still think it was invented by people - at least by one of his apostles, - all including Church, rituals, traditions, liturgies.

No, I didn't mean Christ was the only one without sin and that's why he was the only Chrisitian. He showed the way of life. He could be sinful, it doesn't matter in this context. The matter is that he acted as a Christian. For the rest Christians rituals were on the first place, not the actions. They invented those rituals since they couldn't completely tear from paganism (or Judaism in Judea). We couldn't see any rituals made by Jesus during his life. As well he never said how liturgy should be chanted. As opposed to the Old Testament, were every detail was described particularly. Thus I make a conclusion it's a heritage of the past religions.

You build your religion based on the fact the Jesus Christ was God. If not to accept that assumption, all conception fails. So, for religion it's very important - who he was. I don't care - he could be either God or a human being or could not exist at all. What is important for me is not external attributes of him (sorry for the blasphemy, but I really think it's not important whether he was God or not), but how he behaved, what he did, how he treated other people - or, by other words, the way he lived. Because I believe he showed the way we all should follow in order to be human beings, and doesn't matter even whether he really existed or not.

PS. Thanks rusmeister, don't know where I should work to go to your cl**** but as I already said, my priority now is another language.
I will try to read Chesterton as soon as possible, at least "The Everlasting Man".

Bogatyr
21-09-2009, 02:40
Well, I see I have not enough material on hand to continue this discussion. I might really have to read Chesterton to know your position better. However I understand it. All you, Bogatyr said is well-known to me - I have heard about Christian conception and the Church. But still think it was invented by people - at least by one of his apostles, - all including Church, rituals, traditions, liturgies. ... We couldn't see any rituals made by Jesus during his life...

All that Jesus did while with the Apostles is not documented in the New Testament. In fact it does say explicitly that He did much more that is not written there. And it is documented how He did explicitly give the Apostles the most important of the sacraments -- Communion, the Eucharist. The New Testament also includes the instruction to keep the teachings as taught to them by letter and by oral instruction. The New Testament is not an "instruction manual," or a "complete and total statement of all that is the Church of Christ." Just because the New Testament does not contain the instructions for how to run the Church does not mean that Jesus did not give these instructions.

Man also receives instruction / inspiration via the Holy Spirit (as witnessed at Pentacost).


... hat is important for me is not external attributes of him (sorry for the blasphemy, but I really think it's not important whether he was God or not), but how he behaved, what he did, how he treated other people - or, by other words, the way he lived. Because I believe he showed the way we all should follow in order to be human beings, and doesn't matter even whether he really existed or not.

Rusmeister posted a little while ago in another thread the excerpt from C.S. Lewis that addresses the opinion that "Jesus was a great moral teacher but not God." Even if you think it's all a fairy tale, unless you're going to cherry-pick passages from the New Testament and ignore the rest, that's not a viable conclusion of what to think from reading the New Testament. The only really viable choices are that he was a demon, was a con-man/lunatic, or is in fact God incarnate.

OlgaT
21-09-2009, 10:54
Yes, you are right, Bogatyr. Nothing was documented, nothing has been proved, that's why it's a matter of belief, that's why there are so many religions and opinions. By other words, you didn't convince me.

"He did much more that is not written there" - so how we are to know what he did? And why preachers, churches pretend that they know? Why his life was described so thorough but the main thing - his instructions he gave to the apostles were omitted? A bit stange, isn't it?

I believe there were no instructions - God doesn't need any instructions, only people do, because we are too sinful and too human - weak and imperfect, we need rules, directions and instructions. And therefore we invent them.

And that's why I agree with Nietzsche, and dare say that Jesus (if he existed) didn't want all these ceremonies and canons we have now. Because they are not necessary to believe and follow the Christ teaching, but they are only human, all too human.

Bogatyr
21-09-2009, 11:46
Yes, you are right, Bogatyr. Nothing was documented

I did not say that at all, it's what you're saying.




, nothing has been proved, that's why it's a matter of belief, that's why there are so many religions and opinions. By other words, you didn't convince me.

I am not (yet) the scholar of the Church history and apologetics that others are. But I do know that the Bible (New Testament) is true -- because the Church wrote it. The Bible does not create the Church, it is the other way around. The Church existed and was practicing long before the gospels were officially gathered together into the New Testament (by the Church). That's what the "denominations" have gotten wrong from the original Church, they have taken the Bible out of the Church and placed it in authority over it. They have lost the reference frame of interpretation that all the traditions and teachings of the Church are for.



"He did much more that is not written there" - so how we are to know what he did?

Specifically that "much more" were miracles, healing, etc.



I believe there were no instructions - God doesn't need any instructions, only people do, because we are too sinful and too human - weak and imperfect, we need rules, directions and instructions. And therefore we invent them.


There are two thousand years of history with the original Church of Christ that began with His teachings to the Apostles. There are two thousand years of direct continuity in the Orhodox Church, from todays priests all the way back to the Apostles and to Christ.



And that's why I agree with Nietzsche, and dare say that Jesus (if he existed) didn't want all these ceremonies and canons we have now. Because they are not necessary to believe and follow the Christ teaching, but they are only human, all too human.

There are two thousand years of wisdom and instruction inspired by the Holy Spirit, not to mention the New Testament itself. If you choose Nietzsche over all this, because his writings resonate with you, or you with him, then I guess there's not much more I can say. I'm so sorry that I'm not more persuasive. I do pray that you will meet someone more persuasive to you in regards to the Church. You're in Russia so there are a multitude at your disposal, all you have to do is "seek and ye shall find."

I'd like just to point out that I was brought up in a secular household and was schooled as a scientist. I viewed religion as fairy tales and religious people in contempt as intellectual weaklings who needed comfort from their inability to deal with the universe and the world by themselves. It took someone (my wife) to push me in to Church and to visit Holy places in Russia for several years, and encountering an amazingly loving and intelligent Russian Orthodox priest who taught me before it finally started making sense to me. I do not believe you can intellectually explain belief into people, faith needs to be experienced in the Church. Hopefully Rusmeister's Chesterson links will convince you. I'm going to include them into my reading as well.

p.s. Metropolian Anthony (Khrapovitsky) wrote a book (in Russian) "The Moral Ideas behind the Dogmas of the Church [or "Trinity"] that explains the direct relationship between the sacaraments, Liturgies, etc., and the faith (I have not read it yet, it may not exist in English in fact). No actions are arbitrary, they are all there for a reason. Before dismissing them based on your personal point of view, you might try reading that. I'm not sure how approachable it is as a beginning lay reader and non-believer, but it does I believe address your complaint about "human invented" ceremonies.

OlgaT
21-09-2009, 13:09
I did not say that at all, it's what you're saying.
Yes, you didn't say "nothing". Only "all that Jesus did while with the Apostles is not documented in the New Testament". Sorry, I have exaggerated...

And as regards to belief and to the Church. I have heard many times different stories about different people who suddenly came to the Church. Doesn't matter of which confession. And I do not deny that one day I will also come to the church (or maybe will convert to Buddhism or whatever). But at the moment I am on the other side - maybe I'm only looking for religion or maybe I'm choosing whether to be relogious or not, or maybe I'm just investigating some religion questions by virtue of my curiosity.

I'm reading Chesterton now and maybe it will give me some additional clues... I don't know. I just see now that we have come to the wall I was talking about when I shared my experience of debating with religious people. This wall appears every time when people start talking that it is written in the Bible and the Bible is true because it is how the Church says... I know what the Church says and if you could assume my irreligious position (I didn't say unbelieving by the way) for at least a second you would see that such words as "the Church says" mean nothing. But you are seeing it by your eyes and thus can see only limited by your religious knowledge/belief spheres. And the same about me - I can't become religious for a moment to fully understand you and trust the Church as you do.

rusmeister
21-09-2009, 13:26
Hi Olga,
If there's anything you particularly agree or disagree with in TEM, it would be interesting to hear your take on it!
Rus

Warning - the first few books I read by Chesterton, including that one, I was forced to read slowly and think about nearly every sentence. Now it's easy to read him - I 'get his drift'.
If you find writers that are incredibly intelligent, funny and humble all rolled in one, you definitely want to read them! :)

OlgaT
21-09-2009, 14:46
Hi rusmeister,

Sure I will share my views on his writing when I finish reading it. It goes very slow indeed mostly because of his English... and I have not much time (especially after yesterday's book swap club - I have too much to read now).

I'm finishing the first chapter and I've found it very interesting, exactly like you said: incredibly intelligent, funny and humble. Some really fresh and even incredible ideas. So thank you for advice and it's a pity I discovered him only now...

Bogatyr
21-09-2009, 21:56
Yes, you didn't say "nothing". Only "all that Jesus did while with the Apostles is not documented in the New Testament". Sorry, I have exaggerated...

The language is unclear, it is a structure that means "not every single thing was documented," which does not mean "nothing was documented."


This wall appears every time when people start talking that it is written in the Bible and the Bible is true because it is how the Church says... I know what the Church says and if you could assume my irreligious position (I didn't say unbelieving by the way) for at least a second you would see that such words as "the Church says" mean nothing.


I was trying to make a historical / structural point, not a belief-based point: you seem to be saying you don't believe in the sacraments, Liturgies, etc. came from God because they weren't documented in the Bible. You place the Bible in a place of authority over the Church. I was saying this is backwards: rather, the Bible has authority as a True document (to those who believe) because it was written by the Church. Most people don't realize or recognize this. The Church existed and was active well before the New Testament was written and canonized.

(I do believe that there are documents that do show the Liturgy practiced at the earliest times. I do not have these references handy, I will try to find them at some point though at pass them on.)

MickeyTong
22-09-2009, 00:44
....the Bible has authority as a True document (to those who believe) because it was written by the Church. Most people don't realize or recognize this. The Church existed and was active well before the New Testament was written and canonized.

Well, yes: and this is what atheists say, too. That the church invented the New Testament to provide documentary "proof" of its authority.

OlgaT
22-09-2009, 07:56
Bogatyr, now I understand where our misunderstanding comes from. When I say about the Church I don't mean the first churches that were founded just after the crucifixion. I was sure there were just Christian communities, but not the Church as we have it know. I appealed to the Church that was organized after the First Ecoumenical council, i.e. about 4th century.

I don't know how the first Churches (before the Councils) were organized, but I believe they were not regulated by canons and were closer to the Christ teaching. But after the Councils Churches started to be organized and regulated as to our (people) needs. By that time Gospels had already existed, as well as other Apostles books. They were written by the first Church which, I believe, had more truth because was not regulated by the State yet.


Well, yes: and this is what atheists say, too. That the church invented the New Testament to provide documentary "proof" of its authority.
MickeyTong, you are right, that's what the atheists say, but I'm not an atheist and thus can assume that the Gospels included in the New Statement were not just invented, but could be based on the real events (it's one of my prerequisite in this discussion).

OlgaT
25-09-2009, 13:19
Hi rusmeister,

I have read The Everlasting Man and am ready to share my take on it.

As I already said, I found his pattern of thoughts quite interesting if not to say amusing. I was surprised by his view on history and scientists. His approach to the scientific issues seemed to me original and unusual. I dare call it tabula rasa he is ready to deny all the previous studies and start his own from the very beginning. Its a useful approach in terms of eliminating all dogmas and neutrilizing all influences. And it let him claim his original opinion, which actually turned out to be as stiff and dogmatic as any other religious views. And I will try to explain you in brief why I think so.

He attacks all non-religious and even non-christian conceptions, in fact by saying that they are wrong because they are wrong. But which criteria give him the right to rate Paganism, Islam, Buddhism and other beliefs as delusions, and what else except his personal conviction lets him say about Christianity as the only true confession its a question for me.

That is what he says about Paganism and Christianity, as if he has compared them thoroughly:

They are only different because one is real and the other is not. I do not mean merely that I myself believe that one is true and the other is not. I mean that one was never meant to be true in the same sense as the other. The sense in which it was meant to be true I have tried to suggest vaguely here, but it is undoubtedly very subtle and almost indescribable.(Part 1 Charter 5A, Man and Mythologies).
In other words, it is true because he believes it is to be true. And that is his proof. But this is the proof that does not prove anything but his belonging to the Christian confession.


The Church contains what the world does not contain. Life itself does not provide as she does for all sides of life. That every other single system is narrow and insufficient compared to this one; that is not a rhetorical boast; it is a real fact and a real dilemma. Where is the Holy Child amid the Stoics and the ancestor-worshippers? Where is Our Lady of the Moslems, a woman made for no man and set above all angels? Where is St. Michael of the monks of Buddha, rider and master of the trumpets, guarding for every soldier the honor of the sword? (Part 2 Chapter 1, The God in the Cave).
I wonder why he believes that the absence of the Holy Child of the ancestor-worshippers or St. Michael of the monks of Buddha testifies against those religious teachings. It is dilletantism or even nonsense.

But what was more unexpectedly is his assumption that the Church could be mistaken. At a moment I expected to learn some bright ideas concerning the point that if the Church is mistaken, it can be justified anyway. But in vain I saw only the same stubborn convictions based on the personal belief and nothing more:

Even if the Church had mistaken his meaning it would still be true that no other historical tradition except the Church had ever even made the same mistake. [] Even if Christianity was one vast universal blunder, it is still a blunder as solitary as the incarnation. (Part 2 Chapter 3, The Strangest Story in the World).
Again, how to argue with a person whose arguments are like: I know that Im right because the Church tells me that Im right and I do believe it. I have nothing to add after that

Rusmeister, maybe I read it in a wrong way and dont understand something? Or it's because I am not [-]intelligent[/-] religious enough?..

rusmeister
28-09-2009, 13:07
Hi rusmeister,

I have read The Everlasting Man and am ready to share my take on it.

As I already said, I found his pattern of thoughts quite interesting if not to say amusing. I was surprised by his view on history and scientists. His approach to the scientific issues seemed to me original and unusual. I dare call it tabula rasa – he is ready to deny all the previous studies and start his own from the very beginning. It’s a useful approach in terms of eliminating all dogmas and neutrilizing all influences. And it let him claim his original opinion, which actually turned out to be as stiff and dogmatic as any other religious views. And I will try to explain you in brief why I think so.

He attacks all non-religious and even non-christian conceptions, in fact by saying that they are wrong because they are wrong. But which criteria give him the right to rate Paganism, Islam, Buddhism and other beliefs as delusions, and what else except his personal conviction lets him say about Christianity as the only true confession – it’s a question for me.

That is what he says about Paganism and Christianity, as if he has compared them thoroughly:

In other words, it is true because he believes it is to be true. And that is his proof. But this is the proof that does not prove anything but his belonging to the Christian confession.


I wonder why he believes that the absence of the Holy Child of the ancestor-worshippers or St. Michael of the monks of Buddha testifies against those religious teachings. It is dilletantism or even nonsense.

But what was more unexpectedly is his assumption that the Church could be mistaken. At a moment I expected to learn some bright ideas concerning the point that if the Church is mistaken, it can be justified anyway. But in vain – I saw only the same stubborn convictions based on the personal belief and nothing more:

Again, how to argue with a person whose arguments are like: I know that I’m right because the Church tells me that I’m right and I do believe it. I have nothing to add after that…

Rusmeister, maybe I read it in a wrong way and don’t understand something? Or it's because I am not [-]intelligent[/-] religious enough?..

I'd say you read it in a wrong way. You say nothing about an awful lot of facts - like the Punic Wars, for example - and the only thing that makes sense of them - that they were ultimately religious. He basically points out objective facts about both human history and what is generally accepted about Christ to point out their uniqueness - for example, what makes humans completely different/separate from animals, and what makes Christ unique, and in a totally different class from the initiators of the other major world religions. None of that is expressed in anything like "the Church says so, and so I believe it", although he does, no doubt, communicate that from time to time.

GKC was not attempting to “prove” that the Christian faith is true – it is a given among believers that faith is a conscious choice; often in the absence of proof – otherwise, it is no virtue. There is no faith when a thing is proven.

In the book the Christian worldview is set out in a way that makes sense; the book is intended to explain why it can really make sense, even if you don’t agree. How you see only that and miss a colossal thesis that dominates the book – which is a true one – that no other representative of a major world religion (the kind of religion that lasts for a thousand years or more) made the claim to be God. The most that any of them said – Moses (also claimed as part of the Christian tradition), Mohammed, the Buddha, etc – was that they were spoken to by God; not that they WERE God, the Creator of all things Who existed before the beginning of time.
Yet you speak only of his speaking dogmatically and don’t refer to this, or the other major ideas at all – the uniqueness of man among animals as well as various aspects of Christ’s uniqueness among man.

I don’t understand your objections to dogma. The dogma, if arrived at via reason, is a conclusion firmly held. What’s wrong with that? You can disagree with the idea, you can complain that he does not address or defend it as an idea, but surely you can’t have objections to convictions firmly held? The alternative would be to require people to always doubt their own convictions. If I have determined through a thousand experiments that two plus two always equals four, and never anything else, why should I continue doubting it? You would have to show that my thousand experiments (or experiences) were all wrong in the first place before you could even begin to shake my mystical dogma that 2+2=4. That is the nature of reasonable dogma, as opposed to unreasonable dogma. (See quote below)


Again, how to argue with a person whose arguments are like: I know that I’m right because the Church tells me that I’m right and I do believe it. I have nothing to add after that…

I have no idea where you got this from, unless you interpret his conclusion that the Church is a valid authority for the basis for his beliefs – but he doesn’t assume that the reader already accepts that conclusion – but if you accept the reasoning in general, you are eventually going to conclude that the Church IS the valid authority for defining faith (although modern interpretations of what that means are likely to confuse the Orthodox understanding). If you don’t accept the reasoning, you ought to be able to say where you don’t – define the point where you see the argument breaking down.

It'd be a real shame if you completely missed his objective points due to his convictions - that you object to - that spring from those points. If there IS anything that describes ultimate Truth and the actual nature of the Universe, it is bound to contain things we do not like. That we do not like them does not negate their truth, and that's what I get from you - that you don't like some of the conclusions.

I do not believe Chesterton to be 100% correct on everything - he makes errors of fact (but not often), and believes, for example, that the Catholic Church is the most genuine expression of the Church established by Christ, whereas I believe that his description fully applies to the Orthodox Church. But he is right on his overarching points - where it really matters.

If you can be specific on things you honestly object to, I could offer reasonable response. If you can tackle main points in his thesis, I'd be interested in engaging on them.


Whether the human mind can advance or not, is a question too little discussed, for nothing can be more dangerous than to found our social philosophy on any theory which is debatable but has not been debated. But if we assume, for the sake of argument, that there has been in the past, or will be in the future, such a thing as a growth or improvement of the human mind itself, there still remains a very sharp objection to be raised against the modern version of that improvement. The vice of the modern notion of mental progress is that it is always something concerned with the breaking of bonds, the effacing of boundaries, the casting away of dogmas. But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty. When we hear of a man too clever to believe, we are hearing of something having almost the character of a contradiction in terms. It is like hearing of a nail that was too good to hold down a carpet; or a bolt that was too strong to keep a door shut. Man can hardly be defined, after the fashion of Carlyle, as an animal who makes tools; ants and beavers and many other animals make tools, in the sense that they make an apparatus. Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined scepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded. http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/heretics/ch20.html

OlgaT
28-09-2009, 17:19
I'd say you read it in a wrong way. You say nothing about an awful lot of facts - like the Punic Wars, for example - and the only thing that makes sense of them - that they were ultimately religious.
I didn't notice Punic Wars because
1. I can't agree they were religious. As far as I know they were territorial ones. Two strong states couldn’t coexist without trying to establish hegemony. Religoin was only an indirect cause. In general, religion always was an appropriate motive for wars (the reason for starting Crusade is beyond the relious prerequisites as well).
2. I didn't like the way he described Rome's enemies, I thought it doesn't become a Christian to say like:

But Carthage at any rate was dead, and the worst assault ever made by the demons on mortal society had been defeated. But how much would it matter that the worst was dead if the best was dying? (Part 1 Chapter VIII, The End of the World)

Compare:

And the LORD said: 'If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will forgive all the place for their sake.' (Gen 18:26)

He basically points out objective facts about both human history and what is generally accepted about Christ to point out their uniqueness...
I understood his points about Christ. But I decided there was no reason to write about anything I agree with. He was unique, I agree. In my way of thinking his uniqueness consisted in his way of living – a way that nobody among people could repeat (just because it’s impossible to be saint while we are human, or religious people appeal to the original sin in this case).

GKC was not attempting to "prove" that the Christian faith is true – it is a given among believers that faith is a conscious choice; often in the absence of proof – otherwise, it is no virtue. There is no faith when a thing is proven.
Yes, he didn't have to prove it, and he didn't have to prove that all other religions are not true. He couldn't do it since it’s a matter of faith. What I didn't like in his conclusions that he humiliated other religions only because of his belonging to another confession. If I was a Muslim, I wouldn’t like what he said. I think a person should be more accurate in choosing words when he writes about religion – it's a point of great nicety and a person that calls himself Christian should be more tolerant and kindly disposed to all people without reference to their belief.

The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! (Luk 7:34)

How you see only that and miss a colossal thesis that dominates the book – which is a true one – that no other representative of a major world religion (the kind of religion that lasts for a thousand years or more) made the claim to be God. The most that any of them said – Moses (also claimed as part of the Christian tradition), Mohammed, the Buddha, etc – was that they were spoken to by God; not that they WERE God, the Creator of all things Who existed before the beginning of time.
You want to say that no any other religion had their God on the Earth? If yes then why it should be a criterion of the true religion? This point of yours is not clear for me, I can assume I didn't get what you meant.

I don't understand your objections to dogma.
No objections to dogma. I distinguish dogma and dogmatic reasoning. We all have dogmas, we operate them in our life, we are nothing without dogmas in a sense of beliefs. But dogmatic view is inflexible, one-sided reasoning, characterized by unwillingness to listen to other reasoning and accept it as entitled to exist equally.

I have no idea where you got this from, unless you interpret his conclusion that the Church is a valid authority for the basis for his beliefs.
He says that he believes the Church and Christian belief is the only true belief because the Church says that. It’s a vicious cirle and I think any other argumentation is impossible in such circumstances.

It'd be a real shame if you completely missed his objective points due to his convictions...
The only thing I didn't like from his conclusions is that he thinks the Christianity is the only true religion and the Church is the only arbiter in this statement. And taking into account his religios persuasions, I can compromise with the rest conclusions he made.

I do not believe Chesterton to be 100% correct on everything - he makes errors of fact (but not often), and believes, for example, that the Catholic Church is the most genuine expression of the Church established by Christ, whereas I believe that his description fully applies to the Orthodox Church. But he is right on his overarching points - where it really matters.
Let me quote your words here:

If there IS anything that describes ultimate Truth and the actual nature of the Universe, it is bound to contain things we do not like. That we do not like them does not negate their truth, and that's what I get from you - that you don't like some of the conclusions.
I have done it to show how right you are and how right I am at the same time – we all have our own truth as regards to faith and religion. You cannot agree with him in those parts where his beliefs do not coincide with yours. As well I can’t agree with him and with you, and we will never come to the agreement until we are on the other sides. And that’s why Chesterton was right when he said that in order to see the truth about something it is necessary to be far enough from it. Otherwise it is too large and too close to be seen. But yet I believe it can't be applied in case of faith and religion...

rusmeister
28-09-2009, 20:41
I didn't notice Punic Wars because
1. I can't agree they were religious. As far as I know they were territorial ones. Two strong states couldnt coexist without trying to establish hegemony. Religoin was only an indirect cause. In general, religion always was an appropriate motive for wars (the reason for starting Crusade is beyond the relious prerequisites as well).
2. I didn't like the way he described Rome's enemies, I thought it doesn't become a Christian to say like:

But Carthage at any rate was dead, and the worst assault ever made by the demons on mortal society had been defeated. But how much would it matter that the worst was dead if the best was dying? (Part 1 Chapter VIII, The End of the World)

Compare:

And the LORD said: 'If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will forgive all the place for their sake.' (Gen 18:26)

I understood his points about Christ. But I decided there was no reason to write about anything I agree with. He was unique, I agree. In my way of thinking his uniqueness consisted in his way of living a way that nobody among people could repeat (just because its impossible to be saint while we are human, or religious people appeal to the original sin in this case).

Yes, he didn't have to prove it, and he didn't have to prove that all other religions are not true. He couldn't do it since its a matter of faith. What I didn't like in his conclusions that he humiliated other religions only because of his belonging to another confession. If I was a Muslim, I wouldnt like what he said. I think a person should be more accurate in choosing words when he writes about religion it's a point of great nicety and a person that calls himself Christian should be more tolerant and kindly disposed to all people without reference to their belief.

The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! (Luk 7:34)

You want to say that no any other religion had their God on the Earth? If yes then why it should be a criterion of the true religion? This point of yours is not clear for me, I can assume I didn't get what you meant.

No objections to dogma. I distinguish dogma and dogmatic reasoning. We all have dogmas, we operate them in our life, we are nothing without dogmas in a sense of beliefs. But dogmatic view is inflexible, one-sided reasoning, characterized by unwillingness to listen to other reasoning and accept it as entitled to exist equally.

He says that he believes the Church and Christian belief is the only true belief because the Church says that. Its a vicious cirle and I think any other argumentation is impossible in such circumstances.

The only thing I didn't like from his conclusions is that he thinks the Christianity is the only true religion and the Church is the only arbiter in this statement. And taking into account his religios persuasions, I can compromise with the rest conclusions he made.

Let me quote your words here:

I have done it to show how right you are and how right I am at the same time we all have our own truth as regards to faith and religion. You cannot agree with him in those parts where his beliefs do not coincide with yours. As well I cant agree with him and with you, and we will never come to the agreement until we are on the other sides. And thats why Chesterton was right when he said that in order to see the truth about something it is necessary to be far enough from it. Otherwise it is too large and too close to be seen. But yet I believe it can't be applied in case of faith and religion...
I'd like to preface my words by saying that the character of your last two posts are at complete variance with all of your other posts. I hope I will not seem to be insulting in responding accordingly! Please forgive me in advance - I intend no insult!

We may be reaching a point where we are unable to communicate at all. I could be mistaken, but I get a strong sense that you read with a strong prejudice that did not attempt to understand the point of view.

On the Punic Wars, you say, "...as far as I know..." How far DO you know? If what you know turns out to be untrue, then you must revise everything you ever thought about it. The religious war explanation explains everything. Why there were three weird wars, the second and third of which pass all manner of explanation of the type we get in school "economic dominance, etc". From Hannibal's crossing the Alps to the total razing of Carthage by a people who simply didn't DO that sort of thing - they absorbed the nations they conquered - that was the Roman Republic's modus operandi - they didn't commit bloody genocide! Except Carthage. When one grasps that, the explanations, or more precisely, lack thereof, in history books become nonsense - but a war of clashing philosophies fits perfectly.

Again, you respond with your POV without considering Chesterton's arguments regarding Christ. It may SEEM to you that Christ's uniqueness consisted in his way of living - but that is only to ignore Chesterton's - and consequently my - argument.

Where do you get that 'it doesn't become a Christian' to say that Rome was philosophically dying? That is exactly what Christianity said from the get-go! Christianity has always said that it is actually true, and not merely a 'point of view'. The question is whether it is true or not. If it is true, why should it please Muslims or atheists? If found to be true, they would HAVE to change their worldview. Your view that the prime virtue is tolerance of all views regardless of their truth necessarily conflicts with that, because it says that the truth is not important, and consequently, no religion can be important. If you START with that mindset, then you will be unable to understand the claims of religion no matter what they put in front of you.


But dogmatic view is inflexible, one-sided reasoning, characterized by unwillingness to listen to other reasoning and accept it as entitled to exist equally.
This is simply not true in regards to reasoned dogma. If one has carefully considered all sides, and come to a final conclusion, then it cannot be said to be 'unwilling to listen' because it HAS listened. If there are two mutually exclusive propositions (as opposed to mere paradox), then any logician will tell you that one of them can't be true, and that it by no means follows that none of them can be true. I have said repeatedly that all major faiths contain degrees of truth, acknowledging that they do say true things. But that does not, and cannot mean that they are all equally true. That is nonsense, logically speaking.

Again, claiming that his arguments are based specifically on the teachings of the Church is specious. he does not begin with that, and the basic theses of the book do not depend on that. That is simply ignoring his theses.

Christ's unique claim to BE God sets Him in a completely different class from all the other founders of the major world religions. he would have to be a) a lunatic, nutty as a fruitcake, b) a first-class swindler and deceiver, or c) Who He said He was. The 'wise teacher' idea doesn't square with the man who claimed to be able to forgive sins - any sins by anybody against anybody, and who claimed to exist before the creation of the world. It is a startling fact that makes dust and nonsense of comparative religion.

Finally, I deny that your quote of my words is of my words. I didn't say that. You may have gotten that from something that I quoted, but I do not remember those words at all. (Maybe Bogatyr or someone else said this?)

Again, it seems (I'll emphasize 'seems') like you went into the book with a solid prejudice against anything he had to say from the beginning. That is the same as not reading him.

OlgaT
28-09-2009, 22:39
I'd like to preface my words by saying that the character of your last two posts are at complete variance with all of your other posts. I hope I will not seem to be insulting in responding accordingly! Please forgive me in advance - I intend no insult!
Can you please tell me where exactly, in which phrases you have found variance in my last and other posts.

Regarding responding accordingly - you are welcome to say everything you think, I'm not going to complain to mods. If I see anything offensive I will just stop further discussions, but I believe it will not happen in our case.

We may be reaching a point where we are unable to communicate at all. I could be mistaken, but I get a strong sense that you read with a strong prejudice that did not attempt to understand the point of view.
I also come to the conclusion it's useless to try to find the truth here since, as I said in the previous post, we all have our own truth when the matter concerns our faith.

About my prejudice - I can tell you we can't perceive any information without drafting our meaning to it, interpreting it in a sense that suits our beliefs, dogmas. And in case we can't find that sense we've been looking for, we decide to disagree with that information. It's a nature of our mind and we can do nothing with it. So yes, I was biased in that sense, but before rejecting some of his points I tried to correlate them with my thoughts - in other words, I was ready not just to object his conclusions, but to consider them thoroughly, using my knowledge and beliefs.

On the Punic Wars, you say, "...as far as I know..." How far DO you know?
I said as far as I know because I try to avoid the statements as "It is true" or "People say". The first one because I think there are a lot of gaps in history, and our knowledge that we have nowadays can be mistaken, especially if it concerns such ancient periods. The second one - I do not like to apply to someone's authority. I say "as far as I know" or "as I know" (I do not feel much difference) when I want to say it was what I have studied and accepted and what, accordingly, has become a part of my beliefs (or world-view).


If what you know turns out to be untrue, then you must revise everything you ever thought about it. The religious war explanation explains everything.
Yes, you are right. When I find new arguments which will be able to doubt my present view, I will revise them for sure. Maybe it's time to do it now and read some books about those wars... But now it seems to me that filling gaps in history books by religious clashes is not competent from the history's point of view.

Again, you respond with your POV without considering Chesterton's arguments regarding Christ. It may SEEM to you that Christ's uniqueness consisted in his way of living - but that is only to ignore Chesterton's - and consequently my - argument.
I said I accepted his points that Christ was unique and I can't see a reason why we should sort out in which way exactly - anyway it will turn out to be the same, just described by different words.


Where do you get that 'it doesn't become a Christian' to say that Rome was philosophically dying? That is exactly what Christianity said from the get-go!
I meant Carthage of course when I said it was not Christian-like to call "demon" that poor destroyed city. He said "worst" - of course it was not about Rome.

Christianity has always said that it is actually true, and not merely a 'point of view'. The question is whether it is true or not. If it is true, why should it please Muslims or atheists? If found to be true, they would HAVE to change their worldview. Your view that the prime virtue is tolerance of all views regardless of their truth necessarily conflicts with that, because it says that the truth is not important, and consequently, no religion can be important. If you START with that mindset, then you will be unable to understand the claims of religion no matter what they put in front of you.
If the truth is more important than the tolerance, than I do not understand Christianity at all, since I was sure it's one of the fundamental principles in its teaching: Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (Matthew 7:1)

So, you are ready to stand up for your truth by any means? And what if we all have different truths? We have a good Russian proverb - "everybody has its own truth". And it has a very deep sense - there is the only truth, it can be God, can be matter, or mind or whatever, but nobody knows what it is, we can only believe and everybody decides what he will believe in. We decide it for ourselves. Everybody makes that choise. You have chosen Christianity, someone is atheist - it doesn't matter - everybody is right in his own truth because this is the pivot that presents, determines and directs our lifes. And to struggle for such truth which is not objective, but only our own - it's not wise at least.


This is simply not true in regards to reasoned dogma. If one has carefully considered all sides, and come to a final conclusion, then it cannot be said to be 'unwilling to listen' because it HAS listened. If there are two mutually exclusive propositions (as opposed to mere paradox), then any logician will tell you that one of them can't be true, and that it by no means follows that none of them can be true. I have said repeatedly that all major faiths contain degrees of truth, acknowledging that they do say true things. But that does not, and cannot mean that they are all equally true. That is nonsense, logically speaking.
It's good that you mentioned a logician. You think that you can find any logics in faith? Your statement about true things can be applied only in science, and at a stretch at that. Modern logic theory has a lot of logics including those that disprove the Law of the excluded third - like intuitionism, multi-valued logics etc... We should be careful with calling something nonsense. Classical logics/mathematics itself has a lot of nonsenses which we do accept.


Again, claiming that his arguments are based specifically on the teachings of the Church is specious. he does not begin with that, and the basic theses of the book do not depend on that. That is simply ignoring his theses.
Which exactly theses that not followed from his trust to the Church have been ignored? I assume I could miss something important.


Christ's unique claim to BE God sets Him in a completely different class from all the other founders of the major world religions. he would have to be a) a lunatic, nutty as a fruitcake, b) a first-class swindler and deceiver, or c) Who He said He was. The 'wise teacher' idea doesn't square with the man who claimed to be able to forgive sins - any sins by anybody against anybody, and who claimed to exist before the creation of the world. It is a startling fact that makes dust and nonsense of comparative religion.
Christ was unique because he claims himself a God, Buddhism has no God at all - and why the latter should be worse or less true?

Finally, I deny that your quote of my words is of my words. I didn't say that. You may have gotten that from something that I quoted, but I do not remember those words at all. (Maybe Bogatyr or someone else said this?)
It was a quote from you post written today at 13:07, paragraph no.6, just before you started to write that you do not believe Chesterton is 100% correct (paragraph no.7).

rusmeister
01-10-2009, 23:40
C'mon Mickey, when are you going to thank MY posts? I thought we were friends! ;)

Hi Olga!
Sorry about the delay – these kinds of posts take thought and time.
First of all, what I meant by variance (in my perception) was between an openness to seriously considering what the Christian view has to say to a sudden closed-ness. I think the main problem is that you somehow, and mistakenly, perceive the dogmatic ideas as preceding the reason (if that were so, I would agree with you completely). However, the dogmatic conclusions, generally speaking , are at the other end of the thought process – they come after the reasoning. It seems that you have focused on the conclusions, and largely ignored the arguments.


So, you are ready to stand up for your truth by any means? And what if we all have different truths? We have a good Russian proverb - "everybody has its own truth". And it has a very deep sense - there is the only truth, it can be God, can be matter, or mind or whatever, but nobody knows what it is, we can only believe and everybody decides what he will believe in. We decide it for ourselves. Everybody makes that choise. You have chosen Christianity, someone is atheist - it doesn't matter - everybody is right in his own truth because this is the pivot that presents, determines and directs our lifes. And to struggle for such truth which is not objective, but only our own - it's not wise at least.

This, it appears, is your central dogma – unexamined and unchallenged.

When you say, “we all have our own truth”, I can agree that we all perceive what we believe to be the truth – however, when these beliefs are mutually exclusive, then some of them are obviously not true, however many elements of truth they may contain.


About my prejudice - I can tell you we can't perceive any information without drafting our meaning to it, interpreting it in a sense that suits our beliefs, dogmas. And in case we can't find that sense we've been looking for, we decide to disagree with that information. It's a nature of our mind and we can do nothing with it.

This is true, but nevertheless, there is an objective reality that is ‘outside’ of our perceptions of it, and it is the perception that can be wrong, not the reality. I.e., someone is actually wrong (something that modern education seems, ultimately, and frantically, to deny).

On ‘as far as I know’: I quite agree on gaps, and it is true that there is relatively very little that we actually know of history in a complete sense. However, the direction you’re going is in saying that we can’t really know anything (about history), which is untrue. If we know SOME things about history, we can be sure of THOSE things. The question is merely as to whether our knowledge is correct. This segues into the other one – ‘how far DO we know?’ We cannot know anything at all about ANYTHING unless we accept some kind of authority. When we are children, we generally accept that of our parents, to begin with, and later our teachers. Our own experience (based on perception, of course) confirms the truth or falsehood of what they teach us. A mother says, ‘soon snow will begin falling and the world will be covered with white’ – and Lo! It is so! Thus, we find that our authority tells the truth, at least on certain things. If one finds error in what one has been taught, then a need to reassess that teaching arises. What Chesterton offers is revelation in error in what you have been taught – before he begins speaking about any Christian dogma. There are a whole bunch of new arguments. Which of them have you refuted? (I’ll add that you can attempt to argue error of fact, but I think you might agree that if the overarching premise remains true, then the error of fact is irrelevant.)

On a personal note, I’ll say that reading Chesterton, far more than anyone I’ve ever read, has forced me to go back and study history – and to learn that history books themselves are far more fallacious than period literature, and that even legends, myth and folklore reveal things that bely history textbooks.


I said I accepted his points that Christ was unique and I can't see a reason why we should sort out in which way exactly - anyway it will turn out to be the same, just described by different words.

This I must deny with a blast of trumpets. It is simply not true. It turns out to be completely different. If Christ really said the things attributed to Him, then he must be denounced as a fool or a liar, rather than praised as ‘a great teacher’. A great teacher doesn’t consistently identify himself as the Creator of the universe who made everyone and everything and existed before all time. A great teacher doesn’t go around claiming to forgive sins – anyone’s sins, against anybody, as if he were the party chiefly injured by the sins. He’s either nuttier than a fruitcake, or a conman and master of manipulation, hypnosis, etc, or… he’s Who he claims to be.
It is essential to sort out how Christ was unique. On it the truth or falsehood of Christianity stands.


I meant Carthage of course when I said it was not Christian-like to call "demon" that poor destroyed city.

This is just a comment on a comment, but that is a very odd statement. I wonder what you imagine ‘Christian-like’ to mean? It is very Christian-like to call demonism demonic. It is very Christian-like to denounce satanic cults (by whatever name – Moloch, Tanit, Baal…) that ritually throw babies into sacrificial fires. Any reasonable people – and there is no doubt that the Romans were, by and large, reasonable, if not Christian at that time – should and would recoil in horror at such an abomination. And the Romans did. And so should we. When you say ‘poor destroyed city’, think about those poor, cruelly murdered infants. This is not to praise destruction – but to totally turn the tables and treat the Carthaginians as suffering victims with no basis whatsoever is strange.
The same thing goes for tolerance. It seems that you are taking certain peripheral teachings of Christianity and making them the central and absolute things without any consideration of their relative applicability in the absolute scheme of things. So I would say that you don’t really understand Christianity. It is essential to understand what is meant by ‘tolerance’, and the understanding diverges sharply from what the world teaches.


It's good that you mentioned a logician. You think that you can find any logics in faith? Your statement about true things can be applied only in science, and at a stretch at that. Modern logic theory has a lot of logics including those that disprove the Law of the excluded third - like intuitionism, multi-valued logics etc... We should be careful with calling something nonsense. Classical logics/mathematics itself has a lot of nonsense which we do accept.

It seems that what you are ultimately doing here is questioning reason itself. Logic CAN be applied to reason, and reason is NOT limited to the physical sciences. The logic in faith comes before and after the choice of faith – the choice itself is usually outside of logic – most people do not reason their way to faith, and other factors can play a role in the choice. But certainly before that choice we can employ logic in our thinking about truth, which may lead us to the choice of faith, and after the choice, we can continue to use logic within the framework of what we have accepted as true.
And yes, there is a lot of sophistry out there – as there was 2,000 years ago, and a lot of good academic bullsh*t which serves, if nothing else, to justify academic paychecks. What we should want is to learn to be able to identify truth from falsehood. If the initial thought is wrong, then all of the reasoning, no matter how beautifully put, is also wrong.
Finally, reason is not the ultimate tool. A choice may be made, out of whatever motivation, that is beyond or in spite of all logic. A favorite analogy of mine is from the third Indiana Jones movie (The Last Crusade) – a mostly silly movie, but I think this one part redeems it – where he (Indy) must make a choice in spite of all logic – to ‘leap from the lion’s mouth’. He’s standing in front of a chasm, all of his senses and logic tells him that a leap is a leap to his death. His father is dying – the only hope is to leap – and the leap is hopeless. Yet, out of driving need he makes the choice – and steps onto a bridge, invisible due to optical illusion. The faith turned out to be true.


Which exactly theses that not followed from his trust to the Church have been ignored? I assume I could miss something important.

Uh, all of them. Again, you have confused his final conclusion with the reasoning process. He takes general knowledge and thought that does NOT start from trust in the Church – it ENDS there. I’ll ask, which theses have you refuted? So far, none. I’m asking you to really think about the book. (I just haven't seen any evidence yet that you have done so.)


Christ was unique because he claims himself a God, Buddhism has no God at all - and why the latter should be worse or less true?

This is fairly easy. For the simple reason that the God Christ claimed to be within the Jewish context is 100% different from the essentially pantheism of Buddhism; the uniqueness and eternal meaning and status of each individual, vs an ever-changing and essentially non-existent self. They are mutually exclusive concepts, even though they share some values. And mutually exclusive means that, by definition, they cannot both be true.

Oh, and my apologies on the quote snafu. I only saw your words claiming my quote and your words following it. I conclude that I must have been reading from your quote when I wrote my answer. Yes, I did say what you attributed to me, and stand by it.


I have done it to show how right you are and how right I am at the same time – we all have our own truth as regards to faith and religion. You cannot agree with him in those parts where his beliefs do not coincide with yours. As well I can’t agree with him and with you, and we will never come to the agreement until we are on the other sides. And that’s why Chesterton was right when he said that in order to see the truth about something it is necessary to be far enough from it. Otherwise it is too large and too close to be seen. But yet I believe it can't be applied in case of faith and religion...

There is an enormous difference between thinking something true and liking it. I was speaking about things that we don’t like, and the temptation to reject them as truth just because we don’t like them.
Chesterton’s idea is absolutely applicable to philosophy, and speaking for Christianity, traditional Christianity in general, and Orthodoxy in particular, it offers a complete philosophy, to which that idea is eminently applicable.
I’ll say that you are mistaken when you say ‘We all have our own truths’. The fact is, we both see true things (so far I agree with you), but as to the actual nature of the universe – the ultimate Truth, you can say logically that both of us may be wrong, or that one of us may be right and the other wrong, but the one thing you cannot say is that we are both right. The only alternative is agnosticism, which is merely the Greek for the Latin ‘ignorance’ – to be convinced that it is not possible to know anything, and to be content to be ignorant.

Bogatyr
02-10-2009, 00:32
Ill say that you are mistaken when you say We all have our own truths. The fact is, we both see true things (so far I agree with you), but as to the actual nature of the universe the ultimate Truth, you can say logically that both of us may be wrong, or that one of us may be right and the other wrong, but the one thing you cannot say is that we are both right. The only alternative is agnosticism, which is merely the Greek for the Latin ignorance to be convinced that it is not possible to know anything, and to be content to be ignorant.

I'll thank your post, it is very informative! :)

One of my favorite snippets along this line is:

"Do you believe there is absolute truth?"
If the answer comes "no," then: "Do you believe that is absolutely true?"

OlgaT
02-10-2009, 12:50
First of all, what I meant by variance (in my perception) was between an openness to seriously considering what the Christian view has to say to a sudden closed-ness. I think the main problem is that you somehow, and mistakenly, perceive the dogmatic ideas as preceding the reason (if that were so, I would agree with you completely). However, the dogmatic conclusions, generally speaking , are at the other end of the thought process they come after the reasoning. It seems that you have focused on the conclusions, and largely ignored the arguments.
Rusmeister, I can assure you Im still as opened to the Christian view as in the beginning of this thread and I statred critisizing it more because we started to discuss it in detail - and that is when our disagreement revealed.

I do not think that dogmatic ideas are at the other end of the thought process. As I have already said, we perceive all information with prejudice. This prejudice comes from our world-view, or in other words, from our dogma. Our reasoning serves to confirm our dogma. If it doesnt happen, then we are open-minded enough to revise our grounds and to incline to another dogma. Thus, all our arguments are influenced by that dogma. For example, you are a Christain and you will never accept an argument that Christ was a human. But why not? Considering it as a true you could get more prerequisites which would lead you to other conclusions. But you cant tolerate that idea and thus your mind is closed to some conclusions and convictions. Its not only about your mind. I think the mankind would be more sociable and peaceful if we could overcome that shortcoming of our mind. However, the world would become more boring and we would not discuss Christianity and religion issues now.

This, it appears, is your central dogma unexamined and unchallenged.
No, why unchallenged? You do challenge it at the moment. ;)

When you say, we all have our own truth, I can agree that we all perceive what we believe to be the truth however, when these beliefs are mutually exclusive, then some of them are obviously not true, however many elements of truth they may contain.
You dare divide the Truth? :) If the ideas are not true they are not true and all their elements are not true either. Or we need to determine whether we accept that the whole is more than its parts and we can apply it to the Truth (but in that case we have to assume that the Truth is discrete).

This is true, but nevertheless, there is an objective reality that is outside of our perceptions of it, and it is the perception that can be wrong, not the reality. I.e., someone is actually wrong (something that modern education seems, ultimately, and frantically, to deny).
I remember once on this forum I tried to persuade a person that there is no objective reality according to the science. But it doesnt matter in our case and I agree to admit it as true. I assume as well that someone can be wrong, but as far as we dont know what the objective reality is, everybody can be wrong. And if the objective reality is outside of our perception of it, then we have to admit agnosticism if you dont want to go into mysticism.

However, the direction youre going is in saying that we cant really know anything (about history), which is untrue. [] What Chesterton offers is revelation in error in what you have been taught before he begins speaking about any Christian dogma.
Sometimes you make very strange conclusions from my words. I never said we cant really know anything. On the contrary, I said we need to revise our knowledge from time to time in order to achieve validity.

I liked the beginning of TEM, and I also told you that. I liked that he started from revelation in error in what have been thought, but when he jumped to the Christianity seemed like he forgot about that method and objected the arguments he cited (which went against his belief) without seriously considering them as true. (It is how I saw it when I read).

On a personal note, Ill say that reading Chesterton, far more than anyone Ive ever read, has forced me to go back and study history...
On a personal note, I can tell you that after I read Chesterton and discussed with you some historical issues about Rome and Carthage, I started looking for the History faculties at some universities with the purpose of studying it deeply and thoroughly. ;)

It is essential to sort out how Christ was unique. On it the truth or falsehood of Christianity stands.
Again, I didnt get what you mean. What is the difference between what you think the Christ was unique because he was a God, and I think he was unique because he behaved like nobody else among people? I can prove it is true with a simple syllogism if you dont mind.

Assumption. There are human and there is God. If you are not human, you are God.
Antecedent 1. Christ didnt behave like human.
Antecedent 2. If you do not behave like human then you are God.
Conclusion. Christ is God.

Well, its raw and can be easily disproved, but Im sure if we started seriously discussing it we would come to the same conlusion and I do not understand why you refuse to admit it. I can only guess. And my guess is that for you (Christians, or and religious person) details are very important. I do care only about the essence. And what is the essence for me? We all are human beings. We do not know what we are doing here, on a small planet alone in the galaxy. It is infinite and dangerous because we know nothing about it. We are not far from that caveman: he knew only about his cave, maybe his village, we know quite a lot (but not all) about our planet. But on a scale of the Universe it is nothing. We are afraid and thus we do order everything, invent gods, if we cant sort something out we believe in mystical things. And I agree it is necessary, otherwise we would go crazy. But the way how we order things is different for everybody the nature have its effect here, there is something on the earth that we cant order inspite of all our efforts we cant order our mind, which makes us individuals. Its nature we cant struggle against. Thats why it is not important how we think, what we believe in. The only important thing is that now we live, but any time it can stop. Death is something that puts an end to all our disagreements and beliefs. In other words, the objective reality is that nothing is important in the face of death: neither your religiousness nor your atheism. You will say that you are religious because you believe you will live after death. But even if we imagine it is true what the Church says, and Peter stays at the gates and checks your purity (what a bullsh!t by the way) do you think he will check how many times you prayed or how many times you went to the church, or what did you think Christ said about so and so?
Well, I digressed. I just wanted to say that the only important thing in this life for me is how to live it without regrets, so before I die I wouldnt say if I had an opportunity to live it again, I would do it in another way. All the rest religions, dogmas etc is only a cover that saves us from uncertainties and fears we are surrounded. Maybe thats why such questions as whether Christ was unique and in which way, look odd and even ridiculous for me.

This is just a comment on a comment, but that is a very odd statement. I wonder what you imagine Christian-like to mean? It is very Christian-like to call demonism demonic.
I always thought that "do not judge" is one of the main statements in Christianity. What is demonic? I say that the Crusades were demonic. So what? Lets exterminate all Christians? What a nonsense, isnt it? I do not mention the Inquisition, when scientists were burned because they dared say the Church was mistaken in several things (which later was admitted as true, by the way).

It seems that what you are ultimately doing here is questioning reason itself.
Yes, I question reason all my life, why not to do it here? The necessity of questionning reason is my dogma.

Finally, reason is not the ultimate tool.
I love you for that statement. It was a theme of my Diploma at university. I insisted that reason is not the ultimate tool. You know what the honoured professors of Moscow State University told me? That I was dispersing demons. I still wonder how they awarded me a Diploma.

Ill ask, which theses have you refuted? So far, none. Im asking you to really think about the book. (I just haven't seen any evidence yet that you have done so.)
Which theses I could refute? Which theses he made? That the Church is the only authority and the Christianity is the only true religion? How do you think I can refute it if nothing can be proved in case of faith? All the arguments I gave you faced the wall like: you didnt understand Chesterton, you didnt really think about the book. I give up.

This is fairly easy. For the simple reason that the God Christ claimed to be within the Jewish context is 100% different from the essentially pantheism of Buddhism; the uniqueness and eternal meaning and status of each individual, vs an ever-changing and essentially non-existent self. They are mutually exclusive concepts, even though they share some values. And mutually exclusive means that, by definition, they cannot both be true.
It is fairly easy for you, but try to convince a Buddhist that the uniqueness and eternal meaning and status of each individual is a true concept.

Ill say that you are mistaken when you say We all have our own truths. The fact is, we both see true things (so far I agree with you), but as to the actual nature of the universe the ultimate Truth, you can say logically that both of us may be wrong, or that one of us may be right and the other wrong, but the one thing you cannot say is that we are both right.
If you understand what I wanted to say in the paragraph 7 of this post I think you could admit that we both can be right. Classic logics does not work sometimes. And the reason is not the ultimate tool. We both are right because our truth gives us confidence and a sense of self-sufficiency, which are, by turn, makes up that ultimate Truth we are looking for. Will you feel better, happier if the objective Truth will be revealed and will turn out to be in conflict with your beliefs? Then do what you think is right and this is the only Truth at the moment. Enjoy that you possess it and tolerate others truth as you tolerate their individuality. And this is my dogma.

rusmeister
03-10-2009, 06:15
Hi Olga,

I think a short and simple response to a lot of your comments is that you have inferred the ultimate conclusion of the writer, and ignored his arguments. If you believe that it is impossible to consider any arguments because a person has come to a final conclusion regarding them, then the conversation is over. (I'm not sure you believe that, but some things you have said seem to tend in that direction.) I apologize for confusing the terms 'arguments' and 'theses'. I meant arguments. You are right on his thesis, of course, but seem to have totally disdained the arguments before considering them because you reject the thesis. This is the essence of prejudice.
All that you can be expected to do is to see how Christianity can be reasonable. I'm not expecting that you necessarily accept the truth of Christianity based on reading, but I do expect that you acknowledge it to be reasonable even though you disagree.

For instance, one of the things Chesterton begins with is the uniqueness of humanity as opposed to animals. He establishes objectively that animals really do not engage progressively in art, that no animal draws pictures and no bird engages in anything like human architechture. He does not believe these things 'because the Church tells him so'; they are rather unarguable facts. And that's just me going from memory. The entire book is full of consideration of such facts and thought about them. Again, they do not ultimately 'prove' Christianity. But they DO show how the Christian worldview can make sense in light of facts that we all actually agree on; that we all know the historical facts, but that one more thing learned can transform our view of those facts and our conclusions about them.

I think your idea that I reject ideas because I can't tolerate them needs some input from my side. I do reject ideas because I can't tolerate them, especially if they express an idea I know to be completely false (to be based on falsehood). Also, I could probably agree with you on the effects of abandoning dogma on man, except for the part about man becoming more sociable. I wonder if you paid attention to the quote above in post number 35 (http://www.expat.ru/forum/religion/169390-trouble-having-separate-religion-philosophy-sub-forum-3.html#post580488)?
As GKC says, trees have no dogma. Turnips are singularly broad-minded. So peaceful, yes. Boring, yes. Sociable, no.


You dare divide the Truth? :) If the ideas are not true they are not true and all their elements are not true either. Or we need to determine whether we accept that the whole is more than its parts and we can apply it to the Truth (but in that case we have to assume that the Truth is discrete).
The first is simply false. That is tantamount to saying that a maximum of one faith could have any truth at all, with all others containing no truth at all. On the second, there is another, and more likely alternative. That one of the many and varying worldviews actually describes the objective nature of the truth about the universe more completely/correctly than any other.


I remember once on this forum I tried to persuade a person that there is no objective reality according to the science. But it doesn’t matter in our case and I agree to admit it as true. I assume as well that someone can be wrong, but as far as we don’t know what the objective reality is, everybody can be wrong. And if the objective reality is outside of our perception of it, then we have to admit agnosticism if you don’t want to go into mysticism. This is key. If you don't 'want' something, then you are already departing from reason. And why would you not want to go into mysticism and prefer agnosticism? (Which is only the Greek for the Latin term "ignorance") It is wise to admit when we really don't know something. But it is foolish to embrace ignorance when we CAN know something, even if it is on the basis of something we can't know. All thinking is ultimately mystical, based on things unproven and unprovable. It would be a pity if you felt that you could not read Chesterton because you disagree with his final conclusions. I have found his writings to be an entire education in themselves.


Philosophy for the Schoolroom
by G.K. Chesterton

What modern people want to be made to understand is simply that all argument begins with an assumption; that is, with something that you do not doubt. You can, of course, if you like, doubt the assumption at the beginning of your argument, but in that case you are beginning a different argument with another assumption at the beginning of it. Every argument begins with an infallible dogma, and that infallible dogma can only be disputed by falling back on some other infallible dogma; you can never prove your first statement or it would not be your first. All this is the alphabet of thinking. And it has this special and positive point about it, that it can be taught in a school, like the other alphabet. Not to start an argument without stating your postulates could be taught in philosophy as it is taught in Euclid, in a common schoolroom with a blackboard. And I think it might be taught in some simple and rational degree even to the young, before they go out into the streets and are delivered over entirely to the logic and philosophy of the Daily Mail.

Much of our chaos about religion and doubt arises from this--that our modern sceptics always begin by telling us what they do not believe. But even in a sceptic we want to know first what he does believe. Before arguing, we want to know what we need not argue about. And this confusion is infinitely increased by the fact that all the sceptics of our time are sceptics at different degrees of the dissolution of scepticism.

Now you and I have, I hope, this advantage over all those clever new philosophers, that we happen not to be mad. All of us believe in St. Paul's Cathedral; most of us believe in St. Paul. But let us clearly realize this fact, that we do believe in a number of things which are part of our existence, but which cannot be demonstrated. Leave religion for the moment wholly out of the question. All sane men, I say, believe firmly and unalterably in a certain number of things which are unproved and unprovable. Let us state them roughly.

1. Every sane man believes that the world around him and the people in it are real, and not his own delusion or dream. No man starts burning London in the belief that his servant will soon wake him for breakfast. But that I, at any given moment, am not in a dream, is unproved and unprovable. That anything exists except myself is unproved and unprovable.
2. All sane men believe that this world not only exists, but matters. Every man believes there is a sort of obligation on us to interest ourselves in this vision or panorama of life. He would think a man wrong who said, "I did not ask for this farce and it bores me. I am aware that an old lady is being murdered down-stairs, but I am going to sleep." That there is any such duty to improve the things we did not make is a thing unproved and unprovable.
3. All sane men believe that there is such a thing as a self, or ego, which is continuous. There is no inch of my brain matter the same as it was ten years ago. But if I have saved a man in battle ten years ago, I am proud; if I have run away, I am ashamed. That there is such a paramount "I" is unproved and unprovable. But it is more than unproved and unprovable; it is definitely disputed by many metaphysicians.
4. Lastly, most sane men believe, and all sane men in practice assume, that they have a power of choice and responsibility for action.

Surely it might be possible to establish some plain, dull statement such as the above, to make people see where they stand. And if the youth of the future must not (at present) be taught any religion, it might at least be taught, clearly and firmly, the three or four sanities and certainties of human free thought.
Philosophy for the Schoolroom (http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/philosophy.html)


Sometimes you make very strange conclusions from my words. I never said we can’t really know anything. On the contrary, I said we need to revise our knowledge from time to time in order to achieve validity.
My apologies for lack of clarity. I didn't say that you actually said that. I said "the direction you are going in", which means a logical conclusion from what you said.


I liked the beginning of TEM, and I also told you that. I liked that he started from revelation in error in what have been thought, but when he jumped to the Christianity seemed like he forgot about that method and objected the arguments he cited (which went against his belief) without seriously considering them as true. (It is how I saw it when I read).
I wonder exactly what part you are referring to? By all means, share what you object to. Where did he "jump to Christianity"?


Again, I didn’t get what you mean. What is the difference between what you think the Christ was unique because he was a God, and I think he was unique because he behaved like nobody else among people?
This understanding of the stand I defend is incorrect. I also think he was unique because He was like no other man, and that is the point being defended. The fact that we believe Him to be Lord and God is not something that is being 'proved' here. If you admit the points on which Christ was unique that Chesterton points out, that is all that is being asked of you.

No, "Do not judge" is NOT one of the main statements of Christianity. It is peripheral. The main statement of Christianity is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and defeated death, making it possible for all of us to live forever. This indicates a necessity to learn what the faith actually teaches. OCA - The Orthodox Faith (http://www.oca.org/OCorthfaith.asp?SID=2)
(In Russian you can probably find stuff from Church websites fairly easily. If not, I'll dig them up.)

The one thing you may not question is reason itself (you may question an individual's use of reason, but not the validity of reason. This must be accepted dogmatically or else no one can talk to anyone about anything, as all talk is meaningless. (again, see the above 'philosophy for the schoolroom', even better, Orthodoxy (http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/orthodoxy/), chapters 2 and 3.


Christ was unique because he claims himself a God, Buddhism has no God at all - and why the latter should be worse or less true?

It is fairly easy for you, but try to convince a Buddhist that the uniqueness and eternal meaning and status of each individual is a true concept.
My statement is only meant to explain the Christian POV. From the Christian standpoint the latter must therefore necessarily be worse and less true.


If you understand what I wanted to say in the paragraph 7 of this post I think you could admit that we both can be right. Classic logics does not work sometimes. And the reason is not the ultimate tool. We both are right because our truth gives us confidence and a sense of self-sufficiency, which are, by turn, makes up that ultimate Truth we are looking for. Will you feel better, happier if the objective Truth will be revealed and will turn out to be in conflict with your beliefs? Then do what you think is right and this is the only Truth at the moment. Enjoy that you possess it and tolerate others’ truth as you tolerate their individuality. And this is my dogma.

And this is where the conversation ends. By saying that you think that I could admit that we could both be right, you have completely failed to understand the Christian position, based on your dogma. (I will say 'kudos' to you for admitting that it IS dogma.) If you DID understand the Christian position, you would not have said that.
In short, you are evidently not seeking to understand the Christian position. There's nothing I can say to that.

Bogatyr
03-10-2009, 08:02
No, "Do not judge" is NOT one of the main statements of Christianity. It is peripheral. The main statement of Christianity is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and defeated death, making it possible for all of us to live forever. This indicates a necessity to learn what the faith actually teaches.

Right. If you're looking for a more complete statement of Christian belief, what is really important, then read the Symbol of Faith: in just a few words it touches on all the most important statements.
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible: And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from the heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man; And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures; And ascended into the heavens, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; And shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets; In One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I Confess one Baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the Resurrection of the dead, And the life of the age to come, Amen.


And don't forget what Jesus said (Matthew 22:34-40)

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, " You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

That's the big kahuna IMO.

OlgaT
03-10-2009, 11:28
Rusmeister, I do agree with some of Chestertons statements, including his explanation of difference between people and animals.

I would like just to make the things clear since looks like we are spreading our thoughts too far and have lost the original disagreement.

I do not agree with Chesterton in the part that the Chrisitianity is the only true religion and how he explains it is just childish on my opinion. I gave you his quotes in the post 34. You didn't comment them. With all the rest I can agree, taking into account his belonging to the Church, and I have already told you that.

Regarding dogma and his explanation of what it is - I have read it very carefully (I always read carefully all quotes you give), but he is not an authority for me as he is for you - I do not think he is a good philosopher and thus I do not see a reason why I should accept it and build my further reasoning based on that.

Rusmeister, I gave you some arguments (as do not judge etc) based on the knowledge I received from talking to other christians, who belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, and from what I studied. I do not know how you "feed" your faith, which books you read, with whom you talk, but I think it would be a good experience for you if you come to Russia (as I understood you are not here), for visiting some monasteries, churches, and talking to the monks and batiushkas, and maybe you will feel the difference I am talking about. Or at least if you read not Chesterton, but some hagiographies and homilies.


Don't judge a sinner and do not turn away from him, but commiserate with him, grieve for him, enlighten, console, and do everything to save him.
(http://www.oxelon.com/abba_dorotheus/index.html)

From all that has been said, we can conclude that each one of us must study not to judge, for this is the easiest path of salvation. The Holy Fathers have truly said, “Not judging is an effortless means to salvation.” This may be confirmed with an illustration from the Prologue, wherein is told the story of a monk who ate and drank as much as he pleased and was not particularly zealous in prayer. He had only one virtue - and that was unnoticeable: he never judged anyone but himself. Before his death he became unusually cheerful. The brothers who came to bid him farewell remarked: Don’t you fear death?” The monk replied, “Forgive me; I was negligent, but I judged no one; and an angel showed me the record of my sins and tore it up saying that I could go in peace to the Lord for this alone, that I refrained from judging.” And he died peacefully.
(http://www.roca.org/OA/40/40a.htm)

rusmeister
05-10-2009, 00:38
Rusmeister, I do agree with some of Chestertons statements, including his explanation of difference between people and animals.

I would like just to make the things clear since looks like we are spreading our thoughts too far and have lost the original disagreement.

I do not agree with Chesterton in the part that the Chrisitianity is the only true religion and how he explains it is just childish on my opinion. I gave you his quotes in the post 34. You didn't comment them. With all the rest I can agree, taking into account his belonging to the Church, and I have already told you that.

Regarding dogma and his explanation of what it is - I have read it very carefully (I always read carefully all quotes you give), but he is not an authority for me as he is for you - I do not think he is a good philosopher and thus I do not see a reason why I should accept it and build my further reasoning based on that.

Rusmeister, I gave you some arguments (as do not judge etc) based on the knowledge I received from talking to other christians, who belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, and from what I studied. I do not know how you "feed" your faith, which books you read, with whom you talk, but I think it would be a good experience for you if you come to Russia (as I understood you are not here), for visiting some monasteries, churches, and talking to the monks and batiushkas, and maybe you will feel the difference I am talking about. Or at least if you read not Chesterton, but some hagiographies and homilies.


Don't judge a sinner and do not turn away from him, but commiserate with him, grieve for him, enlighten, console, and do everything to save him.
(http://www.oxelon.com/abba_dorotheus/index.html)

From all that has been said, we can conclude that each one of us must study not to judge, for this is the easiest path of salvation. The Holy Fathers have truly said, Not judging is an effortless means to salvation. This may be confirmed with an illustration from the Prologue, wherein is told the story of a monk who ate and drank as much as he pleased and was not particularly zealous in prayer. He had only one virtue - and that was unnoticeable: he never judged anyone but himself. Before his death he became unusually cheerful. The brothers who came to bid him farewell remarked: Dont you fear death? The monk replied, Forgive me; I was negligent, but I judged no one; and an angel showed me the record of my sins and tore it up saying that I could go in peace to the Lord for this alone, that I refrained from judging. And he died peacefully.
(http://www.roca.org/OA/40/40a.htm)

I should probably start by saying that I live in Russia, Moscow region, regularly attend a great church here (and have learned the Slavonic liturgy), I read hagiographies and homilies (I get Metropolitan Anthony Bloom (Antonii Surozhsky)'s homilies in English by e-mail from a main site dedicated to him, for example), I'm totally plugged into the local Orthodox community, and am very clear on both the meaning and the relative importance of "do not judge" vs "Christ is risen from the dead". The former is one of many teachings. The latter is THE teaching. The former must be understood in the context of what is meant by the command to not judge. It does NOT mean "do not disapprove of evil or heresy (wrong teaching)". It DOES mean not thinking oneself better than others. So in the context of the examples you offer, 'do not judge' means what I said; don't place yourself as a person in a better position; it does not mean, and cannot mean 'let him go on thinking he is right'. It would be impossible to enlighten or save him.
Again, it is very easy to understand words from Scripture in a number of different ways; that is why you can't just read Scripture on your own and think you understand it. You have to ask what the Church teaches, the teachings of the Church fathers on such-and-so - their clarifications of Scripture. I can interpret "Do not judge" any way I want. I can even interpret it to mean that we ought to stand silently and do nothing while a rapist rapes and strangles a victim. You have to ask what the Church teaches, and your first step ought to be to approach a seminar-trained priest. You wouldn't give the same authority to Joe Schmoe (or Ivan Petrov) that you would to a trained doctor in the field of medicine (or whatever professional field) - why do we assume similar competence in theology in ourselves or the average person?

Regarding dogma - is what Chesterton said true or not? If not, why not? To say 'He is not an authority for me' demonstrates nothing. Neither is the Dalai Lama an authority for me. But that doesn't tell you why he is not. It says you disagree; it doesn't say why. Your reasoning should be based on reason, not on "I don't think he's a good philosopher". There is no way to build any structure of learning with working from dogma, and treating things dogmatically.

I wonder if you are familiar with Robert Browning? He is also someone that is very difficult to read, and one thing he does even more than Chesterton is to make a lot of obscure references. Much of his poetry even seems like sheer nonsense - unless you can access the enormous resources of knowledge that he takes for granted that we no longer know. Browning was not really understood for many years. Sometimes Chesterton is like that. He says many things that don't make sense - because we no longer know things that he took for granted. I find that, once I dig, they DO make sense. To say that you disagree with Chesterton's comments can be understood. But to say that they are childish makes no sense whatsoever.

On the passages you cited. You should include the larger context. Yes, I see how the limited text you provided could be understood simplisticly. But there was a context around what he said (which is why it is called "con-text").


Those who talk about Pagan Christs have less sympathy with Paganism than with Christianity. Those who call these cults 'religions,' and 'compare' them with the certitude and challenge of the Church have much less appreciation than we have of what made heathenism human, or of why classic literature is still something that hangs in the air like a song. It is no very human tenderness for the hungry to prove that hunger is the same as food. It is no very genial understanding of youth to argue that hope destroys the need for happiness. And
it is utterly unreal to argue that these images in the mind, admired entirely in the abstract, were even in the same world with a living man and a living polity that were worshipped because they were concrete. We might as well say that a boy playing at robbers is the same as a man in his first day in the trenches; or that boy's first fancies about 'the not impossible she' are the same as the sacrament of marriage. They are fundamentally different exactly where they are superficially similar; we might almost say they are not the same even when they are the same. They are only different because one is real and the other is not. I do not mean merely that I myself believe that one is true and the other is not. I mean that one was never meant to be true in the same sense as the other. The sense in which it was meant to be true I have tried to suggest vaguely here, but it is undoubtedly very subtle and almost indescribable. It is so subtle that the students who profess to put it up as a rival to our religion miss the whole meaning and purport of their own study. We know better than the scholars, even those of us who are no scholars, what was in that hollow cry that went forth over the dead Adonis and why the Great Mother had a daughter wedded to death. We have entered more deeply than they into the Eleusinian Mysteries and have passed a higher grade, where gate within gate guarded the wisdom of Orpheus. We know the meaning of all the myths. We know the last secret revealed to the perfect initiate. And it is not the voice of a priest or a prophet saying 'These things are.' It is the voice of a dreamer and an idealist crying, 'Why cannot these things be?'
Now this is the whole point about the ancient religions is that they WERE abstract, in the sense that their gods did NOT walk the earth in a definite historical context. The Christian claim is that Jesus was fully Man as well as fully God.. That he was a man with certain human limitations who lived in a specific time, spoke a specific language, etc, as well as being the incarnation of God Himself on earth. How totally different this is from any Zeus, Baal or Mithras! Thus, in a very real sense, Christianity, as a claim, is a fulfillment of the pagan shadows that preceded it. It is the true Myth - at least, you must concede that that is what it claims, and it is on the level of claims that they differ and this is what he is speaking about. You may disagree with the claim, but you can't really argue the fact of the historical placement of the Christian claim.



The Church contains what the world does not contain. Life itself does not provide as she does for all sides of life. That every other single system is narrow and insufficient compared to this one; that is not a rhetorical boast; it is a real fact and a real dilemma. Where is the Holy Child amid the Stoics and the ancestor-worshippers? Where is Our Lady of the Moslems, a woman made for no man and set above all angels? Where is St. Michael of the monks of Buddha, rider and master of the trumpets, guarding for every soldier the honor of the sword? (Part 2 Chapter 1, The God in the Cave).


I wonder why he believes that the absence of the Holy Child of the ancestor-worshippers or St. Michael of the monks of Buddha testifies against those religious teachings. It is dilletantism or even nonsense.

It is neither. It is an assertion that those other religions are ultimately too simplistic to contain that which is paradoxical (as opposed to self-contradictory) in their teachings. I grant that this can be argued, but it is, by and large, true. He deliberately offers ideas that would be paradoxes if they existed in those religions. But ancestor-worshipers do not worship children. Pacifist Buddhist monks do not have a militant St Michael. Christianity DOES have these very paradoxes: Honor thy father and mother while worshiping a Child. Pacifist and militant saints side by side.



Even if the Church had mistaken his meaning it would still be true that no other historical tradition except the Church had ever even made the same mistake. [] Even if Christianity was one vast universal blunder, it is still a blunder as solitary as the incarnation. (Part 2 Chapter 3, The Strangest Story in the World).


Again, how to argue with a person whose arguments are like: I know that Im right because the Church tells me that Im right and I do believe it. I have nothing to add after that

He is saying nothing of the sort here. He is saying only that if Christianity IS a mistake, it is unique as a mistake (based on his previous arguments). Again, you need to address the larger context.

Obviously, I can attempt to explain statements of his you disagree with; I can even disagree with some myself. But if you are set against understanding them (agree or not) then there's nothing I can do. I CAN demonstrate that they explain the Christian POV from a rational standpoint, whether you agree or not.

OlgaT
05-10-2009, 07:45
Wow, you live in Moscow! I didn't think so because you write so early in the mornings usually...

And I am not set against anything, maybe I really didn't get Chesterton's writing because I didn't want too. Well, I wanted of course, but somewhere deep in my soul... Who knows, we, human beings, are not perfect.

Have a nice day!

PS. I really think it's pointless to discuss the same again and again - I have another perception of Christianity and its place among other religions and as far as it's not a scientific argument, but a matter of belief, we will never reach agreement.

PPS. When I have more time I will re-read Chesterton. I promise.

rusmeister
05-10-2009, 12:39
Wow, you live in Moscow! I didn't think so because you write so early in the mornings usually...

And I am not set against anything, maybe I really didn't get Chesterton's writing because I didn't want too. Well, I wanted of course, but somewhere deep in my soul... Who knows, we, human beings, are not perfect.

Have a nice day!

PS. I really think it's pointless to discuss the same again and again - I have another perception of Christianity and its place among other religions and as far as it's not a scientific argument, but a matter of belief, we will never reach agreement.

PPS. When I have more time I will re-read Chesterton. I promise.

Thanks!
I would say that of course, it is a matter of belief - but the facts Chesterton brought up are not a matter of belief - only the final conclusion, and the POV does make sense.

I'm glad you won't dump Chesterton just because of the minor quibble of disagreeing with him. It really is hard to find that combination of intelligent, funny and humble. I generally get a couple of laughs in every chapter or so...

OlgaT
05-10-2009, 15:38
Thank you Rusmeister, for the interesting discussion. It's always hard to trade-off when the matter concerns religion and faith, and it's not important that we couldn't agree this time - anyway I had the pleasure of talking to you, and to learn Chesterton who is a very unusual and quite interesting writer and thinker.

But what is more important - I've learnt how little I know and how much yet I should read, study and think over. Knowledge is light and ignorance is darkness until I reach Ecclesiastes level of wisdom.

Will be looking forward to other debates with you, maybe not so religious. :)

rusmeister
06-10-2009, 09:30
Again, the stupid denial of edit function strikes - something imposed on the assumption that the average poster (the rule) is an unreasonable whacko, and the reasonable poster the exception.

I'd like to correct a statement - hopefully it was obvious from the context. I said
There is no way to build any structure of learning with working from dogma, and treating things dogmatically.
but I actually meant to say WITHOUT.

My thanks to the site for preventing me from correcting such errors.

OlgaT
06-10-2009, 12:18
Thanks for correcting it, now it makes sense.

I didn't answer your questions pushing on with closing the discussion, but it was not polite from my side. So:

1. I am not familiar with Robert Browning.

2. I can accept that what Chesterton said about dogma is true, but only within the contex of anthropology. But in terms of social science dogmas prevent people from proper communications due to its not absolute character. Thus, I think his definition of dogmas can't be applicable to my reflection on more sociable world. In other words, as far as we consider society as a multiple organism operating with different dogmas we can't say the latter is a crucial aspect that makes up the core essence of society; thereby it can be true only in terms of a single human being.