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Re: [XTalk] Anomalies vs. Miracles

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  • townsendgm
    ... difference ... theological ... atheist is thus ... miracles. ... in gods. Snip balance of post, with which I have no quarrel whatever. HOWEVER, I
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 2, 2003
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      --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "turton" <turton@e...> wrote:
      > [much of Eric Eve's thoughtful post snipped for brevity¬°|s sake]
      >
      > >Unlike everyone else round here I continue to insist on the
      difference
      > >between miracle and anomaly. Miracle is primarily a
      theological
      > >concept, since it presupposes the existence of God. An
      atheist is thus
      > >necessarily committed to belief in the impossibility of
      miracles.
      >
      > A quick correction. An "atheist" is committed to a lack of belief
      in gods.

      Snip balance of post, with which I have no quarrel whatever.

      HOWEVER, I vehemently quarrel with Michael's assertion that
      an atheist is COMMITTED TO A LACK OF BELIEF IN GODS.
      Atheists, in my experience, have simply come to the conclusion,
      after examining the available evidence, that gods do not exist.
      (As opposed to the spineless agnostic, who acknowledges the
      lack evidence of the existence of gods but lacks the courage to
      draw the obvious conclusion.) To say that atheists are
      "committed to a lack of belief" suggests that they are closed
      minded and not receptive to any valid new evidence which might
      suggest that gods DO exist, which simply is not the case.
      Michael is, perhaps inadvertantly, making the (invalid) theist
      assertion that atheism is just as much a matter of faith as is
      theism. But faith has nothing to do with it. It's all about
      evidence--or, in this case, the lack of evidence.

      Respectfully,

      Guy M. Townsend
    • David C. Hindley
      ... COMMITTED TO A LACK OF BELIEF IN GODS. Atheists, in my experience, have simply come to the conclusion, after examining the available evidence, that gods
      Message 2 of 6 , Aug 2, 2003
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        Guy M. Townsend says:

        >>HOWEVER, I vehemently quarrel with Michael's assertion that an atheist is
        COMMITTED TO A LACK OF BELIEF IN GODS. Atheists, in my experience, have
        simply come to the conclusion, after examining the available evidence, that
        gods do not exist. (As opposed to the spineless agnostic, who acknowledges
        the lack evidence of the existence of gods but lacks the courage to draw the
        obvious conclusion.) To say that atheists are "committed to a lack of
        belief" suggests that they are closed minded and not receptive to any valid
        new evidence which might suggest that gods DO exist, which simply is not the
        case. Michael is, perhaps inadvertantly, making the (invalid) theist
        assertion that atheism is just as much a matter of faith as is theism. But
        faith has nothing to do with it. It's all about
        evidence--or, in this case, the lack of evidence.<<

        Guy, no need to be so defensive! Atheists, like theists, come in all
        varieties. There *is* a quite vocal community of people who consider
        themselves atheists who bristle at any concept of "god," however benign.

        Personally, what I think most all atheists can agree on is that there are no
        "personal" god or gods. By "personal" I mean one that is described primarily
        in anthropomorphic terms, however abstract or metaphorical. If he/she cannot
        be described without terminology that requires him/her to have emotions or a
        personality, then they would object to it as representing a real entity.

        "Agnostic" also covers a lot of ground. It is possible to believe that there
        is "something" behind the order of the universe, and even imagine that there
        is some sort of purpose to it, but not be sure that a face can be assigned
        to it. They may see the various gods worshipped in the world as faces to
        this nameless "something." Hey, the Christian God has three faces! Allah has
        one. I would not say that it means they are spineless. Taoists did not even
        attempt to personify it, and simply call it "(the) Way (it is)." Even when
        they say that Tao treats things like straw dogs, it is not to imply intent,
        only effect.

        How this all might apply to the focus of XTalk is this. The modern world
        view is based upon an empirical understanding of things. By limiting our
        analysis to things we can observe and especially manipulate, we have
        substantially increased our understanding of the physical laws of our
        universe and of the matter it is composed of. I do not see any reason why
        this "naturalistic" method cannot also be productive when investigating
        historical events. All historical analysis starts with historical evidence.
        If ancient or modern historical narratives (which are essentially
        explanations for sequences of data) conform or do not conform to our present
        understanding of how the world works, then we feel safe to accept or reject
        them. This is the principal of analogy, and it is really the only
        interpretive principal we have to connect the modern to the ancient world.

        For the historian committed to understanding the world in a naturalist
        manner, the metaphysical element can still come into play. However, I would
        recommend that it only weakens a historical explanation unless it only comes
        into play to communicate its relevance. That is, narratives that say Jesus
        walked on water or miraculously healed blind people or raised them from the
        dead flatly contradict our modern naturalistic understanding of the world,
        but if a historian acknowledges that s/he can also say that as a matter of
        faith s/he believes that it did happen, s/he is signifying that God has in
        some way transcended the norms of nature to achieve some aspect of His/Her
        plan. Something like this was actually the practice of the inventor of the
        modern historical method (now known as "historicism"), Leopold von Ranke
        (taught between 1825 & 1886).
        http://www.bartleby.com/65/ra/Ranke-Le.html

        Respectfully,

        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
      • sdavies0
        ... I have run into athiests who fit Michael s definition. One such comes to most or all Jesus Seminar meetings. He s a member of the American Athiests society
        Message 3 of 6 , Aug 2, 2003
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          --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "townsendgm" <townsendgm@c...>
          wrote:
          > I vehemently quarrel with Michael's assertion that
          > an atheist is COMMITTED TO A LACK OF BELIEF IN GODS.
          > Atheists, in my experience, have simply come to the conclusion,
          > after examining the available evidence, that gods do not exist.
          > (As opposed to the spineless agnostic, who acknowledges the
          > lack evidence of the existence of gods but lacks the courage to
          > draw the obvious conclusion.) To say that atheists are
          > "committed to a lack of belief" suggests that they are closed
          > minded and not receptive to any valid new evidence which might
          > suggest that gods DO exist, which simply is not the case.
          > Michael is, perhaps inadvertantly, making the (invalid) theist
          > assertion that atheism is just as much a matter of faith as is
          > theism. But faith has nothing to do with it. It's all about
          > evidence--or, in this case, the lack of evidence.

          I have run into athiests who fit Michael's definition. One such
          comes to most or all Jesus Seminar meetings. He's a member of the
          American Athiests society (I think that's the name) and he's a
          propagandist for their views. In fact, he's a proponent of the idea
          that not only is God a fiction, but also the HJ, which, when I knew
          him, I thought was nutty. Now, not. Indeed, I wonder if non-theist
          wouldn't be a better word for someone who has come simply to the
          conclusion you specify, reserving athiest for one who is committed
          to that view. Still, it's almost always a waste of time to try and
          revise the general language and we are presumably stuck with what we
          have. You are quite right, then, to point out that the term athiest
          does not necessarily have the connotation of commitment.

          Steve Davies
        • townsendgm
          ... ... conclusion, ... the ... to ... might ... member of the ... idea ... knew ... non-theist ... to the ... committed ... what we ... Guy
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 2, 2003
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            --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "sdavies0" <sdavies@m...>
            wrote:
            > --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "townsendgm"
            <townsendgm@c...>
            > wrote:
            > > I vehemently quarrel with Michael's assertion that
            > > an atheist is COMMITTED TO A LACK OF BELIEF IN GODS.
            > > Atheists, in my experience, have simply come to the
            conclusion,
            > > after examining the available evidence, that gods do not exist.
            > > (As opposed to the spineless agnostic, who acknowledges
            the
            > > lack evidence of the existence of gods but lacks the courage
            to
            > > draw the obvious conclusion.) To say that atheists are
            > > "committed to a lack of belief" suggests that they are closed
            > > minded and not receptive to any valid new evidence which
            might
            > > suggest that gods DO exist, which simply is not the case.
            > > Michael is, perhaps inadvertantly, making the (invalid) theist
            > > assertion that atheism is just as much a matter of faith as is
            > > theism. But faith has nothing to do with it. It's all about
            > > evidence--or, in this case, the lack of evidence.
            >
            > I have run into athiests who fit Michael's definition. One such
            > comes to most or all Jesus Seminar meetings. He's a
            member of the
            > American Athiests society (I think that's the name) and he's a
            > propagandist for their views. In fact, he's a proponent of the
            idea
            > that not only is God a fiction, but also the HJ, which, when I
            knew
            > him, I thought was nutty. Now, not. Indeed, I wonder if
            non-theist
            > wouldn't be a better word for someone who has come simply
            to the
            > conclusion you specify, reserving athiest for one who is
            committed
            > to that view. Still, it's almost always a waste of time to try and
            > revise the general language and we are presumably stuck with
            what we
            > have. You are quite right, then, to point out that the term athiest
            > does not necessarily have the connotation of commitment.
            >
            > Steve Davies

            Guy responds:

            Indeed. John Ruskin's observations about "masked words" (in
            Sesame and Lilies") comes to mind.

            Guy M. Townsend
          • Horace Jeffery Hodges
            Guy M. Townsend wrote:
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 2, 2003
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              Guy M. Townsend wrote:

              <Atheists, in my experience, have simply come to the
              conclusion, after examining the available evidence,
              that gods do not exist. (As opposed to the spineless
              agnostic, who acknowledges the lack evidence of the
              existence of gods but lacks the courage to draw the
              obvious conclusion.)>

              This would be a subset of atheists. Some folk are
              raised without religious views and are atheists by
              default rather than by reasoned, critical reflection.

              As for the "spineless agnostic," there are undoubtedly
              some (as there are 'spineless' of all sorts), but
              there are also principled agnostics.

              Jeffery Hodges

              =====
              Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges (Inv.) [Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley]
              Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
              447-791 Kyunggido, Osan-City
              Yangsandong 411
              South Korea

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