Atheists in Assisi?

The President of the Pontifical Council for Culture takes stock of the “court of the gentiles,” and explains the presence of non-religious at the interreligious meeting of October 27

Andrea Tornielli
Rome

“The Pope wanted the Atheists in Assisi.” Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, returning from Bucharest, where he received an honorary degree and has chaired a meeting of the “court of the gentiles”, explains to reporters the programs and projects of his department. He also explains how the idea to invite some non-believers to Assisi for the interreligious prayer meeting for peace on the twenty-fifth anniversary of that led by John Paul II in 1986.

“It was an idea of ​​Benedict XVI’s”, says the Cardinal of Milan, “and he himself presented it during a meeting with some cardinals in sight of the preparations for Assisi. ” In doing so, explains Ravasi, “Ratzinger shows that he holds in great esteem an ancient teaching of Christian theology: man is made of natural and supernatural. The supernatural does not remove or destroy nature, but perfects it. It sets itself, that is, an additional element, but does not eliminate human nature. So the invitation of the Pope’s attempt to reassert the importance of the relationship between faith and reason.”

The four atheists who participate in Assisi are the French philosopher and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva (who will speak before Benedict XVI), the Italian thinker philosophy professor at UCLA in Los Angeles Bodei Remo, the British philosopher Anthony Grayling, which established the New College of Letters and Philosophy, London, and Mexico’s Guillermo Hurtado, founder of the second period of the history and philosophy magazine Dianoia. The day before the meeting in Assisi, October 26, the four will participate in a panel discussion in the main hall of the Rectorate of Roma 3 University.

Mapping out an initial – positive – assessment of the “court of the gentiles,” the initiative of dialogue with non-believers wanted by the Pontiff, Ravasi did not hide a limit and a problem to the encounter: “I realized – he says – that the problem is not atheistic world, that engages in high-level dialogue, and certainly does not consider religion as an element of underdevelopment, but rather indifference, dullness, lack of questioning, banality and sometimes vulgarity … In short, we have to face a somewhat more difficult horizon, a sort of slime.”

In addition to presenting the upcoming events, such as the one scheduled in November in Florence (a dialogue between Moni Ovadia and Sergio Givone, and between Erri de Luca and Antonio Paolucci), Ravasi also responded to questions about possible future horizons of the “courtyard”, speaking specifically about the Middle East. “It’s a dream of mine”, he explained, “to open a dialogue in the territory of the world which is by far the most difficult but also more creative, because there are religions that live their very nature of identity, but they are also growing secular forces in society. It would be nice to bring such a dialogue between believers and non believers to Israel, where the original court of the Gentiles existed.

Finally Ravasi and colleagues presented the new website of the court of the gentiles (www.cortiledeigentili.com) and even his landing on twitter, where the Cardinal (whose profile is @CardRavasi) sends out one biblical thought a day, as well as messages related to his presence at meetings and dialogues.

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37 Responses to Atheists in Assisi?

  1. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    “The Pope wanted the atheists in Assisi”.

    Isn’t this a fearless action from the Pontiff? To offer a platform for opponents and no doubt take them on in debate – some of whom, if not all, are heavy hitters.

    It’s a sign of health and confidence that dissidents, hesitants, believers, faithful and atheists are welcomed onto the same forum in such an open way.

    I think it’s terrific.

    Roll away the stone.

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  2. teresa says:

    I agree Mr. Whippy! And a great intellectual like Pope Benedict doesn’t fear any confrontations, rather he would enjoy discussion with these people on serious topics. I remember reading a book written by a very good personal friend of Pope Benedict, a very prominent philosopher in Germany, and he writes there that he has respects for these atheists who are in search of truth.

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  3. JabbaPapa says:

    I have a lot of respect for Grayling, though I’m unfamiliar with the others.

    Like

  4. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    On a purely subjective note and without evidence, I guess that the Pope, an academic, is possibly bored (w)itless by many of the tasks and functions he must carry out. An event like this will sharpen up the mind, which is the life he lived before taking on this Papal position, and which few would welcome. I for one would feel inadequate for such a role.

    It’s a cliché now, but I do feel that on the right of your screen he beams agreement with me – even if others may not. Even Pius V below reluctantly assents – but he is not a modernist of course. Couldn’t be, really. Or perhaps he is offering a gesture with two fingers – we can’t tell.

    I’ve said before that for my sins that when I cant sleep I listen to shortwave radio EWTN where sometimes, among the interesting slots they have for ‘standard’ Catholics, they have a space for those who dont agree with Catholicism in various ways. It’s a dynamic programme, and clearly enjoyed by the very well informed priests who host it.

    Perhaps everyone will enjoy this interreligious event in the same manner. I think that when this calibre of persons debates, then the zealots and inflexible people will be “sent to the refreshments tent” and a fruitful dialogue will then ensue.

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  5. The Raven says:

    You surprise me, Jabba, Grayling has always struck me as a lightweight with a gift for making the trite sound complicated.

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  6. JabbaPapa says:

    I didn’t say that I agreed with him, and indeed I think that there are flaws in his thinking — but he does have the virtue of striving to remain coherently rational, and the flaws in his thinking seem to me as being derived from organised comparisons rather than from a priori conclusions masquerading as questions for “debate” (which one sees far too often).

    Grayling does appear to be more of a lightweight on specifically religious questions, that much I would grant ; and if that’s what you meant, then I would agree with you.

    Otherwise I wouldn’t confuse simplicity with triteness 🙂

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  7. toadspittle says:

    .

    …a great intellectual like Pope Benedict doesn’t fear any confrontations,
    Thinks Teresa. She has little to fear as it’s unlikely the conference will descend into a vulgar brawl. Bit of a shame, really. Perhaps Dawkins might have helped.

    Seems like an optimistic idea at least, but one has to wonder what may be achieved?
    The Pope being converted to Atheism? Doubtful.
    The Atheists seeing the light? Doubtful.
    Most likely they will all agree to disagree; the discussion, as always, will be, “full and frank,” and the participants will come away, “…with increased respect for one another’s points of view.”
    Maybe Saint Francis was right and all this chatter is simply for the birds.

    “In short, we have to face a somewhat more difficult horizon, a sort of slime.”
    Interesting analogy. Much to Toad’s taste, of course.
    Pity Sartre’s gone to his reward – he could have attended – and enjoyed the reference to viscosity.

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  8. JabbaPapa says:

    Sartre was, to give him his due, an admirable playwright.

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  9. teresa says:

    Toad, your is a good description, it will be a civilized dialogue between educated and intelligent men from very different backgrounds, and no I don’t think this dialogue will achieve instantly any conversion from either side, but then Toad, isn’t it wonderful that people with so different opinions can talk with each other and enjoy each other’s company, in my interpretation it is a sign that we are all made in God’s image and thus we can understand each other, however different we might be.

    Mr. Whippy, I heard that Pope Benedict, when he was a Cardinal, planned to retire to the house owned both by him and his brother, and then write books on theology, now he will have seldom time enough to make so much research as he would like to!
    He is definitively a great intellectual and will enjoy the dialogue. I can still remember his dialogue with Jürgen Habermas, one from the Frankfurter Schule, and both thinkers did agree upon several points.

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  10. toadspittle says:

    .
    “..in my interpretation it is a sign that we are all made in God’s image and thus we can understand each other,” Thinks Teresa. It is undoubtedly true that we are all human.
    But how much any of us actually understand one another is, Toad suspects, debatable.

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  11. toadspittle says:

    .

    (But, he must add the that thought is kindly.)

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  12. Frere Rabit says:

    I challenge any atheist spending time in Assisi to go and sit in San Damiano for an hour in silence in the place where St Clare died. If you come away an atheist, you have not listened. If you come away with a new question, you have heard one of the greatest women in history, and you have been touched by God.

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  13. toadspittle says:

    .
    “If you come away an atheist, you have not listened.” says Rabit.

    Toad assumes that only applies if one goes in as an atheist?

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  14. teresa says:

    Toad, you brought up again a very interesting question: How much can we and do we understand each other?

    And how is the word “understand” to be defined, if we believe in the solipsism of Descartes, we would say that every one is closed within himself and what he has is only subjective, so there will be no exchange and no understanding! Or like the monads of Leibniz: “The Monads have no windows, through which anything could come in or go out”.

    But then, it is one way to see the things. As an alternative, we can consider what the more modern philosophers say: Wittgenstein says the language game is constructed by a rules making and sharing community, and meanings of word consist in the shared usage the word has in the language community. A more communicative model to see our way of understanding. Or like Jürgen Habermas says, there is a kind of Intersubjectivity, within this boundary, we can communicate with each other, and we shall cultivate the ethos to promote intersubjectivity.

    Or like Donald Davidson, the Principle of Charity: which requires “interpreting a speaker’s statements to be rational and, in the case of any argument, considering its best, strongest possible interpretation”. So a communication is possible if you don’t dismiss your dialogue partner as irrational or uninteresting. I do believe strongly that we shall treat each other in this way and encounter other people, who and whoever they are, with this principle of Charity. Though some people are hopeless as they don’t like to communicate but only want to rant the same slogans like “Capitalism is evil”, or “all non-believers go to hell” etc. again and again. With this kind of people, there will be no meaningful exchange.

    But you are again right, I was talking about communication, but how much the dialogue partners do understand each other, is not measurable, but I will say, with the Principle of Charity, we can get along with other people and learn from them, and perhaps, who knows, there will come something quite positive out of this kind of exchange?

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  15. toadspittle says:

    .
    :
    I challenge any atheist spending time in Assisi to go and sit in San Damiano for an hour in silence in the place where St Clare died.
    Said Rabit, and Toad’s comment above misses the mark, he sees on reflection.
    What he should have said is, “Does the atheist need to know in advance that this was the place Saint Clair died?”

    Teresa, what Toad finds extraordinary is, despite the torrent of words, pro and con, the existence of God, (or possibly because of them!) the variety of world opinion is still limitless.
    Must prove something. But God knows what.
    (Toad has said before that he isn’t clear if he has insufficent imagination to believe in a deity, or too much.)

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  16. teresa says:

    Toad, the opinion is just yes or no. Two alternatives: either “There is a God” (Theism), or “there is no God” (Atheism).

    But as it is no mathematical proof, even Anselm of Canterbury said that his ontological proof of God presupposes Faith, so his “proof” is only a rational explanation to those who already believe.

    I hold it to be an illusion of today’s theist philosophers (among them Plantinga, a Calvinist professor for philosophy, great scholar, sharp witted man, admired greatly by me, or Gödel, a great logician, who provided an extremely complicated modal logical proof of God’s existence), that they think they could convince Atheists through rational proof. But they forget that their proof is evident for believers, but not evident for non-believers because it is not an empirical evident. For example, doubting Thomas demanded to see the resurrected Lord, and only under this condition he would believe, thus the Lord says: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” You see, Toad, if God’s existence can be proved like any mathematical thesis, there will be no merit if one believes. But theologically seen, to believe is an act through the grace given by God, without the Grace, people don’t believe in Jesus Christ. If a compelling proof is provided, any rational being is compelled by his natural reason to believe in the existence of God, but then there is no sense of talking about salvation any more.

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  17. toadspittle says:

    .
    It hasn’t struck Teresa that there is a third alternative – that there may – or may not – be a God – we just don’t know.
    It’s a possibility, she should admit. She doesn’t have to believe it herself, but, there we are.

    “You see, Toad, if God’s existence can be proved like any mathematical thesis, there will be no merit if one believes.” says Teresa.

    Yes, Toad does see – but rather wonders if belief in God should be a question of ‘merit?

    As far as he can see, about only one person in every four on this planet believes in Christ.
    Where is all the grace going? Why aren’t more of us getting it?

    Then you go on to say:
    “If a compelling proof is provided, any rational being is compelled by his natural reason to believe in the existence of God…”

    Well, as Humpty Dumpty, (or an ancient Laconion,) would say, …the key word here is ‘if.’
    And for bonus points, Toad would very much like to know of Godel’s ‘proof’ of God’s existence, which has so far escaped him (Toad, that is, not God, or Godel.)

    He would also like to know how to put the two little dots on Godel’s “o” but let’s not get carried away!

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  18. Gertrude says:

    I can’t remember the origin of the quote Toad, but: “the fool says in his heart – there is no God’..

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  19. teresa says:

    Indeed Toad I forgot the option of Agnosticism, for agnostics, they just say that as they don’t know which statement is true, they prefer not to believe either.
    The question you asked is a good one. I don’t know the theological position and only remember vaguely that it has been discussed whether the ability to believe in God is a given faculty in every man, but I don’t have this too exactly in mind, shall look up later. But if I try to think over about it myself, I think the position of the agnostics is putting knowledge above belief. As they don’t know which statement is true, they reject to believe either of them. But one might ask, if one already knows something, it is no real necessity to believe any more. Though in the analytical philosophy knowledge is often defined as a “justified true belief”. But I do think knowing and believing are two quite different mental acts. Believing is not a part of knowing, though this definition just mentioned includes belief in knowledge. But in my opinion, believing is always an act of trusting, either you trust your own judgement or you trust someone else who tells you about something. Only being left in a kind of uncertainty, one can believe. If the certainty is given, we have knowledge and don’t have to just believe something to be true. It is simply true. And I think we will be in this situation of knowing directly, when we are in heaven and see God “from face to face”. Until that time, we must rely on belief, and that is why we must always struggle with our belief. Even Augustine and the Saints have to search and struggle with themselves. As Augustine says, his heart is restless until he finds rest in God.

    So I think, to believe is really a merit, as you have to struggle with yourself to believe, to cope with the uncertainty and to have full trust in God, in the Church, in all the Saints, Apostles, Evangelists who transferred the Faith to us. We must choose either to have trust or not to have trust in them, and insofar, I think, it is a merit: to decide to trust someone and love him, it is, as the scholastics might say, an act of will.

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  20. teresa says:

    P.S. Toad, an example occurred to me which can be a good explanation for what I tried to say:
    Mother Teresa wrote in her letter that she felt often not the presence of Christ and this was taken up by Calvinists (actually I heard first about this case from them) to show that she failed to believe. But it is just not true, she didn’t have the certainty as the presence of Christ is a kind of reassurance which makes our believing easier. But without this but still believe? A greater soul will do it, like that of Mother Teresa, it was heroism of her to decide to believe despite the aridity, to be obedient despite any gratification.

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  21. toadspittle says:

    .
    I can’t remember the origin of the quote Toad, but: “the fool says in his heart – there is no God’. says Gertrude.

    Well, it apparently come from the Bible, Gertrude. Unsurprisingly.
    Toad found this on the web:

    “Answer: Both Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 read, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Some take these verses to indicate that atheists are stupid, i.e., lacking intelligence. However, that is not the meaning of the Hebrew word translated “fool.” In this text, the Hebrew word is nabal which refers more to a “moral fool,” e.g., someone without morals. ”

    He doesn’t know the truth of the above, but Toad is happy to be called a fool.
    Although he doesn’t say in his herat there is no God. Nor does he say there is.

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  22. toadspittle says:

    .
    “…whether the ability to believe in God is a given faculty in every man, “

    Says Teresa. It would appear that ‘every man’ has the given faculty to believe in practically anything – from Astrology to Zoroastrianism, (whatever that is) taking in The Bogey Man on the way.
    The only proviso being that it is silly enough.
    As he is also fond (too fond, perhaps) of saying, “With practice, one can easily learn to believe six impossible things, every morning, before breakfast.”

    (P:S: Toad the fool has spelled ‘heart’ as ‘herat.’)

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  23. JabbaPapa says:

    erm, I’ll just start a response here by repeating my pet peeve with the word “theist” ; it’s a stupid word, as it tries to be a blanket term for every kind of religious and/or spiritual belief ; whereas not all of these even have a concept of God or gods, and whereas such extreme differences as exist between the various beliefs that any kind of blanket term for them is also going to be a woefully inadequate one. The word also conveys a form of philosophical bias derived from certain forms of Judaism and Christianity only.

    Second, Toad was quite right to point out that there are more than two answers to the question “Is there a God ?” — The four basic answers are yes/no/I don’t know/I don’t care (though people giving the fourth answer are most unlikely to be readers of this blog)

    Indeed Toad I forgot the option of Agnosticism, for agnostics, they just say that as they don’t know which statement is true, they prefer not to believe either.
    The question you asked is a good one. I don’t know the theological position and only remember vaguely that it has been discussed whether the ability to believe in God is a given faculty in every man, but I don’t have this too exactly in mind, shall look up later. But if I try to think over about it myself, I think the position of the agnostics is putting knowledge above belief. As they don’t know which statement is true, they reject to believe either of them.

    hmmmm, well as an ex-agnostic, I don’t personally agree with that view (though there are several different types of agnosticism, so it can sometimes be hard to generalise here).

    In my own view I was not putting knowledge above belief ; I had a certain amount of knowledge and a certain number of beliefs, but my position concerning God was an absence of both knowledge and belief.

    Many online atheists like to define atheism as a lack of belief in God, but I lacked belief and was an agnostic, and I was never an atheist. Atheism therefore must be something else, and I believe that it must almost necessarily include a positive belief in the non-existence of God, notwithstanding the wringing of fingers that suggesting this idea to online atheists can provoke.

    Those answering “I don’t care” to the question of God are not actually atheists IMO, but apatheists.

    Agnostics are the most unusual of the lot, really ; OK, there are forms of agnosticism that are fairly close to atheism (and there’s no firm dividing line there, between the two), as well as some forms of agnosticism that are fairly close to religiosity or deism (“I think there’s something out there, but I don’t know what”) — but IMO proper agnosticism doesn’t just posit lack of knowledge and belief in these matters, but it also positively accepts the possibility that either position yes or no might be the truthful one. Proper agnosticism, IMO, needs to be open to all of the various possible suggestions, including being open minded towards the teachings of the various religions.

    Implicit in this agnosticism is a true openness towards the possibility of a conversion, in other words ; which is completely absent in atheism as such (though not necessarily in each individual atheist.

    But one might ask, if one already knows something, it is no real necessity to believe any more.

    This is indeed one of the more fundamental questions.

    My personal experience, from having been converted after a personal Revelation, is that knowledge and belief and Faith are all of them necessary regardless of the source of one’s convictions.

    First, no fully absolute Revelation is possible, because our ability to understand is strictly limited by our human limitations. Any Revelation then can only be a partial one, and must necessarily be supplemented with our own beliefs and research and the teachings that others can provide us with.

    Second, Faith can actually become MORE difficult after a personal Revelation, rather than easier, because some of the most fertile questions that are asked from the normal position of doubt can have been definitively answered once and for all from one’s own point of view. This can make not only difficulties during dialogue with others, but even some aspects of Faith itself are similarly impoverished. Personal Revelation is yet another cross to bear, as attested most incisively by the writings of Mother Teresa and Bernadette of Lourdes, among others.

    Third, the contents of a Revelation, like any other knowledge, will inevitably transform into memory over time, rather than remaining as a more living perception of the Truth. That’s simply how the human mind works in terms of retaining knowledge, over which we have no conscious control whatsoever. This has several rather complex consequences, that I needn’t detail here — but as concerns this particular question, the relationship with a Revelation though it might be qualitatively different as a relationship to a knowledge rather than a belief, still requires a sliver of Faith to maintain it, because our conscious relationship with memory is not a completely direct one.

    So you see, Revelation does not negate the need for belief ; therefore I don’t think that knowledge in general negates the need for belief either.

    The true quality of knowledge, IMO, is that it negates the possibility of a belief in any opposite proposals, notwithstanding that doubts can persist even then.

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  24. toadspittle says:

    .

    Very nicely put, Jabba. Concise and to the point.

    Bertrand Russell, noted agnostic, said, “I’m not prepared to die for my beliefs.They might be wrong.” Wise words! Thinks Toad.

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  25. teresa says:

    Jabba, I was not saying that as an agnostic you has knowledge about God, I was only trying to say that agnostics feel unable to believe in the absence of certain knowledge. Agnostics say they are only ready to believe in God when it is evident and proven, that there is a God like the Christians believe him to be. And that is why I wrote that they put knowledge before belief as the certain knowledge about God which they ask for is for them the condition of their believing in God.

    What you wrote about knowledge and revelation is thought provoking and really very interesting. I agree mostly with it. On the other hand, I was talking about our situation after the Death, and if we are with God in heaven, with the beatific vision, belief is not needed any more, but on earth, even with revelation, you are uncertain, and need the assurance of God’s presence, that is not the full knowledge I was talking about. Revelations to human beings on earth are just signs, but you have to be in Presence of God to be totally in certainty.

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  26. toadspittle says:

    .

    “Agnostics say they are only ready to believe in God when it is evident and proven,”

    Not this one, Teresa – Toad does not expect proof – just rather more – and more convincing – evidence.
    There may be a God, but He may also be utterly unlike any of our conceptions of Him.
    He may also be ‘bad,’ or totally uninterested in us.
    We shall see.
    Maybe.

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  27. teresa says:

    Toad, philosophically seen, yes, the God of the Philosophers is totally uninterested in us, the God of Plato and the God of Aristotle doesn’t care about our feelings and pains, and is not at all interested in human history. The Deistic God is a God quite far away and abstract.
    But whether God is bad? That is not a traditional philosophical position, perhaps you are referring to Satre? I haven’t read his work so perhaps I missed this particular position.
    The traditional position (from Plato and over the Neoplatonists to the Christians) holds God to be the ultimate Good. But Descartes did think of the possibility about an omnipotent but malignant spirit though he rejected in his conclusion this possibility.

    That is why the Christians (but also the Jews) need Bible, the Revelation, prayers which establish a personal relationship with God. And they believe in a personal God, not a transcendent being which is abstract and indifferent.

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  28. Kerberos says:

    (P:S: Toad the fool has spelled ‘heart’ as ‘herat.’)

    Since Herat was sacked by Genghis Khan, the Toadly One’s typo may not be foolish at all 🙂

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  29. toadspittle says:

    .

    Toad didn’t say God was “bad” Teresa – just that it was a possibility. Among innumerable others.
    A friend of mine once remarked that, if he believed in God, he’d have to believe in The Bogey Man as well.
    Which raises the point that, if one does believe in an external, ‘spiritual’ world with power over us – how can we be confident that the Devil didn’t create this world? That he’s not behind it all?
    When we look around us, at the interminable strife and misery, it would seem objectively to be a reasonable assumption. To Toad, anyway. But only if we believe in a “spiritual” world.

    Toad has occasionally thought that the least unconvincing “proof ” of the existence of some exterior intelligence at work in our lives is that things can not be this bad by pure chance.

    But then, he cheers up a bit, and realises that they can.

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  30. JabbaPapa says:

    A friend of mine once remarked that, if he believed in God, he’d have to believe in The Bogey Man as well.

    I hope that your friend doesn’t make it a habit to introduce trite aheistic cliché like this into your conversations, I would imagine it could get quite tedious after a while.

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  31. toadspittle says:

    .
    Are you saying you don’t believe in The Bogey Man, then, Jabba?

    But I do wish I could put an accent on some letters, like you have.

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  32. JabbaPapa says:

    Well, if you haven’t a keyboard allowing easy use of such signs as é, è, à, ù, ç, ô, ä, and so on — you can always cut and paste whichever symbols not found on your keyboard by using the Character Map in the System Tools ? (If you’re using Windows that is)

    Sadly the quicker Ctrl+ methods for creating these signs do not appear to work properly in the “Leave a Reply” input area … 😦

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  33. teresa says:

    Toad, I know what you meant. The possibility of an evil spirit who creates illusions in our mind and makes us believe that they were reality, was once discussed by Descartes, though he rejected this thought later. I was not saying that you (i.e. Toad) say that God is bad, I only wanted to say that the philosophical tradition normally attributes the conception of God with “Goodness”.

    As for the evils in the world as argument against God, that is exactly opposite to what I myself experience: exactly because the world contains so much evil we are in need of salvation and thus a loving saviour.

    Indeed this experience must be universally human and inspires religious thinking: Siddhartha Gautama for example, founded Buddhists as a result of his reflection upon the sufferings existing in the world. The difference to Christians is, Buddhists believe to be freed from sufferings with their own power, whilst the Christians believe in the Saviour, who is in his Divinity identical with the Creator of the world, God Father.

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  34. JabbaPapa says:

    The parallel with Buddhism is an interesting one, because there is some fairly convincing evidence that philosophically at least, the Christian notion of the personal divinity of each individual soul was originally derived from the Buddhist conception of personal divinity.

    There are striking differences between the two religions in the conception of divinity itself, as well as the relationship between the divine and the mundane – but they do share the fundamental concept that our souls partake of a divine nature (which has btw been misunderstood several times in the history of Christianity, leading to several heretical sects as related to that question — usually by mistranslating teachings that we are destined by God to become “divine” as relative to this concept of the divinity of the soul, as purporting to mean that we are destined to become “gods” as such).

    This is fundamentally related in Christianity to the various doctrines concerning Incarnation, which are radically unlike anything to be found in Buddhism, notwithstanding the obvious but nevertheless superficial thematic similarities.

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  35. toadspittle says:

    .

    …the world contains so much evil we are in need of salvation and thus a loving saviour.

    Says Teresa.
    Toad agrees that we are certainly in need of something along those lines, whatever that may be.

    But just the fact of being in need of something, does not automatically guarantee that such a need is – or will ever be – met.

    Suspects Toad.

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  36. toadspittle says:

    .

    “The possibility of an evil spirit who creates illusions in our mind and makes us believe that they were reality, was once discussed by Descartes, though he rejected this thought later. “

    Yes, indeed, Teresa, Descartes did ‘reject’ this thought. But there are those who think (Toad included, here) that he did so because he was rightly frightened that “The Powers That Be,” (whoever they might have been!) would hang, draw and quarter him if he did not.
    And… as far as Toad knows, Descartes’ ” malicious demon” theory has never yet been disproved, and is highly unlikely ever to be.
    Which, of course, does not mean that is true, or even that Descartes himself believed it, even for a minute.
    Something to chew on, though..

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  37. teresa says:

    Toad, indeed, there is a desire there, and this desire is the source of all religions, a desire for salvation and the ultimate beatitude. But the fulfilling of this desire is not in this world, as as soon as it is fulfilled, there will be no desire any more. But how can anyone live without desire, without hope? Indeed I can’t imagine a world where I am in every aspect satisfied, it must be boring, or not? Well, that is my own personal experience. I am interested to know what the others are feeling or thinking.

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