Metaphysics

  • Note: This is touchy shit. Feel free to participate in this discussion, but don't be reactionary. If you're angry while you're typing, or if you're thinking about how sick your burns are going to be, then you should probably take a break and come back. We're all friends here.


    Also Note: This is a conversation. If you post in this thread, you are inviting people to ask questions, and make counterarguments. They should do so while respecting your humanity, and hopefully you will be willing to give answer to their questions and arguments.


    I'm curious to know the metaphysical beliefs of the Zelda Cavern community. What do you believe, why do you believe it, how do you stand in relation to the community of those who believe similar things?


    I'm a hard atheist and skeptic. I assert that there is no entity which would meet any reasonable definition of divinity. I have also, on occasion, referred to myself as an anti-theist. I do believe that the concept of 'faith,' and the religions which are built on that concept, do more harm than they do good. However, I also believe that most of the time, asserting that belief similarly does more harm than good. I am perfectly happy to be friends with anyone who doesn't make their religion other people's problem. (My lifelong friendship with
    @kilovh, an ordained Rabbi, attests to that).


    I do believe that, on a whole, atheists are treated unjustly in America. Five years ago I was actively involved in atheist communities and slacktivisim. Unfortunately, while the "New Atheism" movement seemed to have a promising start, it began to attract the wrong sort of crowd. Sexists, libertarians, pedants. There are good people in there, but the movement as a whole is distasteful to me. I'd prefer to focus on more pressing issues (poverty, transphobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.), and let the prejudice that exists against atheists fade away naturally with time.


    I will elaborate on anything you're curious about, and I will answer any questions you have. Lets talk.

  • I'm an atheist, but not totally anti-theism. Religion can help people with life, and that's fine.


    What I don't like about how religion is handled mainly is when it's forced onto people at a very young age, children don't get the chance to question what they're being told is true or untrue.


    I don't believe in an afterlife, when we die, it'll be like before we were born, just nothing. That brings me peace.


    Whatever religion or belief someone follows, I don't think it's anybody's business to even know it, let alone criticise. Organisations and people who kill in the name of a deity, or any cause, are just murderers, plain and simple.

  • I'm an atheist, but not totally anti-theism. Religion can help people with life, and that's fine.


    Neato patito! Atheism bros. *fistbonk.*


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    What I don't like about how religion is handled mainly is when it's forced onto people at a very young age, children don't get the chance to question what they're being told is true or untrue.


    I agree that indoctrinating children into a belief system is bad, but really how do we oppose it? Obviously any sort of legal opposition would be insane. Except perhaps in the most extreme cases (parents should not be able to cite religious reasons as justification for keeping their children away from mandatory reporters*.) There is some social pressure never to be "too" religious, but for the hardcore, that social pressure just reaffirms their belief that they're on the right side.


    I actually think this is a lot less of a problem than I used to. It's bad, for sure. But indoctrination like that just doesn't stick. My parents were pretty crazy fundamentalist Christians who worked hard to make sure their children all loved the Jesus. But out of 6 of us, only 1 actually bought what they were selling. I know people from even more hardcore backgrounds (where they were literally kept away from anyone who believed differently than they did until they were an adult), and even those folks often escape from the ideals they were raised on.


    In the U.S., we absolutely need to start having a serious conversation about children's rights. But I'm much more concerned about the right to an education, the right to leave home, the right to work, etc.


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    Whatever religion or belief someone follows, I don't think it's anybody's business to even know it, let alone criticise.


    It's certainly not anybody's business to know another person's religion. If someone wants to keep that private, all they have to do is not talk about it. But if they do choose to talk about it, whether or not it's fair to criticize depends on what context they're talking about their religion in.


    For example, in this thread, I've asked people to share this private thing with me. I want to know your metaphysical beliefs because it interests me. If you choose to answer I will question, but I will not criticize. And I will stop if asked to stop.


    But if I'm told I should believe the same way another person believes? Then of course that should be criticized. The same way I'd criticize anything someone asked me to believe that I thought was untrue. Same if a religious belief is used to justify an action, or a claim. There are lots of legitimate reasons to criticize religion.


    Just don't be an asshole about it.



    *In the U.S., Mandatory reporters are any person who is obligated to contact child protective services if they suspect abuse. If your neighbor sees your kid with a black eye, they don't legally have to do anything. But if a teacher, doctor, or police officer sees your kid with a black eye, they're legally obligated to report it. Many parents will "homeschool" their children to prevent anyone from discovering their abuse. This sort of arrangement is often founded on whackjob religious nonsense, though not always.

  • What I don't like about how religion is handled mainly is when it's forced onto people at a very young age, children don't get the chance to question what they're being told is true or untrue.

    Like everything, it comes as part of the morale the parents teach the children, what's good what's bad and why. Eventually we all get our chance to develop our own morale and question what we think is right and why. I don't think it's a big deal.

    I'm not getting old, I'm killing myself before I hit my 30s

  • Like everything, it comes as part of the morale the parents teach the children, what's good what's bad and why. Eventually we all get our chance to develop our own morale and question what we think is right and why. I don't think it's a big deal.


    Yeah, in most cases the person grows up, thinks for themselves and let's say they don't believe in their parents' religion, and they're accepted. Which is good.


    But there are the cases when the child thinks for themselves, rejects their parents' religion and are shunned from the entire family and friends. They're the cases when religion needs to disappear.

  • That's just discrimination at it's finest. It happens in every topic, I mean it's nothing special it's the usual human stupidity on denial of different opinions. It will always happen.

    I'm not getting old, I'm killing myself before I hit my 30s

  • I guess I am a theist, if that is the term. I still believe in the Christian God but I can't see eye to eye with organized religion and of course with people just trying to get under your skin because you don't think like they do.




    All in all I am pretty chill when it comes to religion and jokes. People often assume I am atheist because I didn't bark at them for making fun of Jesus or God. I just think that it is all in the intention. If they are just trying to have a good time is fine to laugh, laughing doesn't mean you truly believe each thing. It is many times the absurd of it makes it funny. Anyway I just don't think we should feel guilty if we find an image funny or something a friend says. Guilting yourself over feeling something you think shouldn't just damage your self esteem, can't help a natural reaction. With things other people say if you agree great if you don't then don't sweat it. We all think differently.

  • Quote

    I guess I am a theist, if that is the term. I still believe in the Christian God but I can't see eye to eye with organized religion and of course with people just trying to get under your skin because you don't think like they do.


    Given your specification that you believe in the Christian god, I think you might be more appropriately termed a Christian who doesn't participate in organized religion. “Theist,” while technically referring to anyone who believes in a god, is typically used to refer to people who believe in a deity, but not in any specific conception of one.


    At least, I think that's true. I actually don't have internet as I type this, so I can't double check my work on that. Not that it matters anyway. The term you use to describe your beliefs is much less interesting than the content of the beliefs themselves. Reducing a subject like metaphysics to categories is boring.


    So, first off, thanks for really laying some stuff bare, Kaynil. I realize talking about this stuff on the Internet can feel vulnerable.


    What does your worship look like? The act of going to church and participating in a group is such a huge part of the Christian culture I'm familiar with. What does it mean to be a Christian who doesn't organize? Is there an active component to your faith? (A regular bible study, or regularly caring for the poor?)


    If you don't mind delving into your childhood a bit, what is it like growing up with influences from Jehova's Witnesses, Catholicism, and Pentacostal sources? Those are all very strong minded beliefs systems, none of which like each other much in my experience.


    If I may ask, what was the simple stuff you started to resist when the cracks first started forming?


    I confess, I often just assume people are atheists these days. The sort of folks I tend to deal with usually are in my experience.

  • Well, might as well go deeper. This is as you say a bit delicate for me, so I am not here to debate it just to explain where I am coming from.


    Given your specification that you believe in the Christian god, I think you might be more appropriately termed a Christian who doesn't participate in organized religion. “Theist,” while technically referring to anyone who believes in a god, is typically used to refer to people who believe in a deity, but not in any specific conception of one.

    Fair enough. I just assumed that since a-theist was not believing in any, theist encompassed all who believed in one or more deities. "Christian who doesn't participate in organized religion" sound more like a shot version than a term but I guess there is really not a one or two words way to put it.


    What does your worship look like? The act of going to church and participating in a group is such a huge part of the Christian culture I'm familiar with.

    Finding people that share your beliefs is important for your self esteem. We all need to feel we belong, as you probably know christians are told through the Bible to find one another to keep strong in faith. Seeing other people of faith help reaffirm your own concepts when you feel "weak". Not going to any church is a double edged sword in the sense that the nurturing of my beliefs is not so much the external interactions but your own.


    I am not actively finding people who share my exact thoughts, but I always enjoy being able to discuss with someone things like how they interpret certain verses and stuff. In Juarez I had a few friends we could openly talk in depth our Christian beliefs without risking the other person thinking we were being blasphemous and actually paying attention to each other. For example talking how we reconcile Science with Genesis. In Australia I haven't really shared much of my belifs as almost every person I've met has openly declared to me to be atheists. Having at least one person you can open about it can do wonders for a person like me who is reluctant to become a regular at any church.


    What does it mean to be a Christian who doesn't organize?

    Christianity is founded in the belief of salvation through believing Jesus Christ died for our sins and he is a bridge between you and God. Some Christians think Jesus is God, some people see Jesus as a separated entity. Beyond this different braches put weights on certain beliefs, habits and tasks you must perform in order to be a "good Christian". I don't know for other people in my position but for me it means that I found a dissonance between what I've read in the Bible or simply what I believe in and what it is being taught in the congregations to a point where I can no longer reconcile them nor feel at ease at the place so I rather not to be involved and carry things the way I think it's better. You can say it is arrogant of me, but at the same time the same Bible urge you to leave what is not helping you. I can't recall the quote but it is a favourite verse for a sect to warn about any other "false" religion.


    Is there an active component to your faith? (A regular bible study, or regularly caring for the poor?)

    Probably reading the Bible. I am not in a I must read this much every day or pray at these specific times but I definitely consider important to keep what people call a relationship with God and the roots for your reason to believe. This include reading the Bible to grasp things better and try to keep communication through prayer. I definitely should be more active but I don't really go volunteering or trying to help other people. There have been times I feel an urge for someone and I have acted to give out my shoes or jacket but I never have been the proper Christian to check afterwards and actually tries to actively make a change at least in one person's life. I just try to be kind and care for people around me. If a stranger knocks and asks for something I can provide I will try to, so long I don't feel I can be endangering my life in the process. I am far from a proper ideal Christian and while I strive to be a better person I am not making my main goal to become the closest to what Jesus used to be. I don't know if that makes me an hypocrite or a false Jesus follower but I think part of the free will and different talents is so we can live a fulfilling life in many diverse ways more and still being able to keep the ideals you cherish close to you. It is a process after all.



    sorry about the edits. :XD:
    I will leave the post alone now... I think... maybe....

  • Belief... my life is full of it. I believe my future will be good, I believe I will survive until old age and that nobody will ever cut off my arms. I have no proof of this, it is simply my faith in the world.


    Ethically, I believe in virtues, and I am an idealist with many beliefs about humanity, society and the environment. I believe in love and wonder and in the good in human beings. That is, there is something in us that I believe is good, and that it has the power to make more things good. I believe dogma and judgement are vices that will not create good.


    Furthermore, I believe that being sentient is a fundamentally subjective experience, and that society and communication relies on vast compromise. Therefore I believe that the abilities and potential of the human mind far exceeds what we are able to express and even understand.


    Herein lies a nugget of my respect for religion, because I see it as a magnificent attempt to approach a sense in existence seen through a sentient mind. A religion is humanity trying to speak a great epic about itself, words and gods that then come to life through our adherence to them. And I believe religion is a symptom of our recent cultural evolution; as we slowly moved towards a more collective state, like cells in a greater body, what used to be stories of ancestors and nature took on new roles involving power and complicated societal structures. I believe religion legitimately provides a great deal of people with subjective experiences that we once needed and received in an ancient world that no longer exists for us. I believe the "ghost" of religion is a part of humanity, which has ever been with us as an ethereal canvas on which to write who and what we are. Thus I do not believe religion is the first or necessarily the best way to paint these stories, but it is the most comprehensively wrought, and I admire it like metaphysical architecture and art.


    Purely metaphysically, I believe there is sensation beyond death, whether it be the immortality of the soul or a union with the cosmos. I believe, for some reason, that I have experienced something before this life, something very different, and that I haven't been human before. Actually, these beliefs are vastly more interesting to me as reflections on my psyche, which I believe is the true and only divinity in a conscious life, than they are claims of physical facts. Even so, I believe the psyche–or subconscious–is severely limited yet hinting to a higher evolutionary stage. I believe sentient life is capable of transcending to become, in some respect, immortal gods. And I believe we might do this one day if we merge with, or are succeeded by, artificial intelligence.


    Lastly, I believe that I don't get it.

  • Before studying what am I studying it was more or less religious, most of my family goes to church so always birth I had this education, they never asked me if I believed or not, simply is the teaching that they gave me and that my grandparents gave them. Today still believe in a God but not the way in as the Church says, many of the things in the Bible were taken from ancient beliefs, all combined gave shape to the God that the churches know. I'm not saying to not teach my son (when you have one) who is God, the free will of believe what the want to believe.

  • What do I believe?


    Well, I’m an ordained rabbi, so that should tell you something. By most outside evaluations, I am what would be called “orthodox jewish,” or even the semi-derogatory “ultra-orthodox.” But I believe these terms are shallow, and the question “what do I believe” remains an interesting one with no simple answer.


    It is both harder and easier for me to answer this question than it has been in the past. It’s harder, because distinctive beliefs that are easily delineated seem more beyond my grasp the more I learn about Judaism and particularly the mystical Chassidic teachings that are my passion. It’s easier because the answer, “I believe whatever I’m supposed to” seems more legitimate to me every day.


    I once would have said simply that I believe what Maimonides lays out in his thirteen principles of faith. Now I tell myself what I tell 90% of people who say things about Judaism. “It’s not so simple…”


    I believe there is a G-d. Who is G-d? By definition, impossible to answer. I once would have said He is the creator of the universe. But He is not just that; maybe not even primarily that. He is transcendent yet imminent, everything yet nothing, beyond yet within. He is at the vertex of every paradox and in both sides of every argument. He is the fulcrum; He is gravity; He is the weights.


    I believe in Torah, that G-d revealed and reveals His will and wisdom to mortal man. What does the Torah say? Everything, in some context or other. There are few statements that could authoritatively be said to be in contradiction to Torah, and the threads of its net seem to sweep up every corner, ever trailing edge of human existence. The Torah is like a wedge driven through history, a system of rules whose emergent properties are little-understood even after thousands of geniuses’ lifetime study, a mind virus whose propagation has altered the world in ways immeasurable and will continue to do so.


    I believe in Judaism. What is Judaism? Judaism is a way that is ultimately not rationally explainable. It is a religion, but it is also decidedly not a religion. At times it seems to be all about following rules and living a moral life. At other times it seems to run black like nihilism in dark veins, to embrace wild chaotic beauty. It is the custom of a small tribe that has survived against all odds, a family that has never sought out new members yet has utterly transformed the world just by existing, and being a family.


    These few ephemeral, ill-defined things are the only things I believe in without qualification. Everything else is a discussion, an exploration of shades. I believe in human evil and human good, in systematic imperatives and personal authenticity, in meaning and meaninglessness, in great sages in simple peasants, in heaven and in death, in happiness and in angst, in the soul and in the body…


    The one thing I can say is that I trust in my family, in our traditions, in the age-old story of my people and all we have learned in our travails. My ultimate faith is in the process, in the idea that our tribe is not here for nothing but for a purpose. But I am willing to follow this way and this system wherever it leads, and where it has led is to wild jungles of antinomianism, chaos, and other areas not considered to normal stomping grounds of religion.

  • I have a lot of questions for everyone, but right now I'm particularly interested in one thing you said, @kilovh.


    You say that G-d is on both sides of every argument. I assume that this is a legitimate, specific belief; not merely a metaphor for omnipresence. So, what role does god play on the 'nay' side of whether he exists or not? (Trying as hard as you can to avoid the argument that G-d is a paradox.)

  • Believe it or not, that's actually a relatively easy thing to explain, compared to most of what I wrote >.> It can indeed be answered even according to the classical conception of G-d, without resorting to more mystical, paradoxical realities. Your question is answered quite thoroughly by the classical Jewish philosopher Maimonides over the course of many chapters of his "Guide for the Perplexed," which I will summarize (very) briefly here, probably causing more confusion than I'm helping, but whatever:


    The simple fact is that, given that there is a first or primary cause, that first cause need be simple (rather than comprised of parts), since if the first cause is comprised of parts there is clearly some sort of prior reality that unites those parts, and that would really be the first/prime cause. Once one fully thinks about what it means that the first cause is simple, one begins to realize that there is very little indeed that can be said about it. As famously explored by classical philosophers such as the Christian Thomas Aquinas and, from a different perspective, the Jewish Maimonides, it becomes problematic to say things such as "G-d knows" or "G-d loves" or "G-d hates," since all of these things are by definition actions or states that are extrinsic to being, and are thus dividing the creator into parts - there is Him and His Love, or Him and His knowledge. (parenthetically, it is fascinating the lengths to which Maimonides feels his must go to explain this regarding thought. His conception of knowledge was awfully similar to a being's complete unity with something else, which would mean it may be possible to say G-d knows. This had a profound effect on Jewish thought throughout the centuries, as our obsession with education and Torah study is founded on the idea that it is one of the only ways to truly unite with G-d.)


    Maimonides thus concludes that "positive" statements about G-d are impossible to make. One cannot say "G-d is omnipotent." Only negative knowledge ought to be allowed, i.e. G-d doesn't not know anything. What He is or does in the affirmative is impossible to define or put into words, and can only be assumed to be wrapped up in the mystery of His unity.


    Maimonides then goes on to point out that the first and most important thing that it is impossible to say about G-d is that He exists. This is under the usual definition of existence which applies to everything other than G-d - that to exist is to instantiate a universal (I can't get into the whole discussion about universals here; I hope your philosophical training will help.) That is, everything exists as something. This furry thing next to my foot exists as a dog, is an example of dogness, and has defining features as part of its form that tell me it's a dog and not something else. Maimonides points out that this means an existence in the classical sense cannot be simple, as the dog, for example, is a composite of it and its own instantiation. The recipe for this dog is (things that make a dog a dog) plus (a specific instantiation in space and time) = this dog. As previously mentioned, to say a similar thing about G-d would require that there is some higher reality that unites Him and His instantiation, Him and His existence.


    Therefore, says the philosopher, the most we can say about Him is that He doesn't not exist. But He certainly does not exist by any definition of "existence" available to us.


    There are other, deeper, more mystical ways of answering your question, but believe it or not, this is probably the most easily understandable and certainly the most easily acceptable to an atheist, I imagine.

  • Perhaps what you were asking was really a different question, from more of an emotional than an intellectual perspective, i.e. what does is mean for the human heart that G-d has an aspect or modality of expression in which he does not exist?


    To which I'd answer the obvious answer that many atheists would be glad to proffer - Atheism has its benefits. Religious people can get so wrapped up in what they think is their service of G-d that they forget to be human. They forget human needs, kindness, understanding, empathy. Thus the famous Chassidic master known as the Baal Shem Tov once said that a religious Jew has much to learn from the heretic; when another person is in need, a Jew must become an atheist, must forget his religious needs, standards, etc. and be given over entirely to helping another.


    Thus even to great rabbis there was what you might call an "atheistic imperative."


    Another aphorism that is a bit subtler that also shows the impact of G-d's non-existence on the Jewish heart is the words of the famous Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who once told the village atheist that "The G-d you don't believe in, I don't believe in either." In my personal journey, these words have always been an encouragement to me, spurring me to deeper understanding and a broader perspective...

  • I am really happy to read so many different answers in this thread and all so genuine and close. I definitely am enjoying this thread. :vio:


    HOLY SHIT! What happened to the 30 paragraph response I wrote to this?


    Geeze. I'mma have to rewrite that later.


    I shame they weren't posted. I really wish I had seen it.
    I know how desmotivating it can be. :c