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What Does It Mean To Be Carnally Minded?


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#1 Antlerman

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 11:07 AM

What does it mean to be carnally minded? Does rejecting God mean we embrace a carnal life?

Kratos in another thread brought up passage of the Apostle Paul about being carnally minded, then offered his thoughts on them. I’d like to discuss thoughts on this in topic devoted solely to this as I feel it can be a real watershed topic for many in talking about life as a believer and a non-believer. I hope to see many good things come from this discussion.

I’m putting it in the Coliseum for discussion for it to follow that forum’s rules of discussion.

Paul said that to be carnally minded is death and that the carnal mind is at enmity with God and always will be. Now, what is the carnal mind and what does it mean to be carnally minded? It means to see things only in terms of the flesh or the natural world. For example, if a person proclaims that they will not believe it unless they can see it or unless there is physical evidence of it, they are carnally minded. You can see why God (or those evil men who fabricated the Bible) would say that this kind of thinking will drive you away from and make you an enemy of God. Many of you are living examples of this. You once believed in the non-corporal world of the spirit, but when you started to focus on scientific proof, you walked away from God (or you would say came to your sanity). Christians are encouraged by the Bible not to focus on this part of our existence. This does not mean that the natural life does not matter, it just means that it is the shortest part of our existence in terms of time. So, here is another part of my dimentia:

2Co 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
2Co 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
2Co 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

This teaches that the unseen world of the spirit is really the eternal one that we should focus on while the seen world of the natural is the temporary one that must be taken lightly. I appreciate the fact that such thinking is scary to the carnally minded. It makes you think of suicide bombers and the like. But, unlike Islam extremists, we value all life while looking ahead to the spiritual world of immortality and eternity. This is especially true of those who believe in the salvation of all. We will see all again and for eternity so better be kind. We don't get to put most of humanity away in a ficticious holding cell for eternity so it is just natural to treat all as brothers and sisters of the One Father of All.

Kratos

There is so much here to talk about. I think maybe the simplest way would be to break it apart and address each area with my thoughts.


Paul said that to be carnally minded is death and that the carnal mind is at enmity with God and always will be. Now, what is the carnal mind and what does it mean to be carnally minded? It means to see things only in terms of the flesh or the natural world.

In a sense I agree with this, understanding the use of the language to express this principle. This principle is well known the world over in many religious disciplines, and nearly everyone alive can understand this on one level or another.

In the most simplistic example, when someone takes a vacation to get away from the daily grind, they find a new perspective on life by stepping away from those daily cares and concerns that wear against their spirit. At the other extreme of the scale, you have the austere monk who will spend his life sequestered away from society in order to devote his life to mediation and focus on the more transcendent qualities of life. And then there are those who live somewhere in between having to live in the real world and find the balance between the mundane and the divine.

Where I agree in principle is when Paul says to be carnally minded is death. Indeed. To have no vision of any higher principles to live by other than what satisfies the now only, is death. Let’s look at our abuse of the planet for immediate gain as one such example of how not seeing beyond ourselves can lead to a shortsighted existence that does not ever become more than themselves.

A quote from the minister Elton Trueblood seems to fit well,


“A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life, when he plants a shade tree under which he knows full well he will never sit.”



For example, if a person proclaims that they will not believe it unless they can see it or unless there is physical evidence of it, they are carnally minded.

I completely disagree with this. Are you carnally minded because you say you will not believe in Leprechauns without some tangible evidence? The two do not go hand in hand. The quote about by Elton Trueblood is one that has nothing to do with belief in any one particular religious symbol, yet does embody the essence of a spiritually minded life.

Think of the golden rule as expressed by Jesus, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Wouldn’t you consider that a spiritual principle to live up to? Are those who do try to live this way being carnally minded if they find that having to accept mythology as fact to be something that stands in the way of living that in their hearts?

It says spiritually minded, not religiously minded.


You can see why God (or those evil men who fabricated the Bible) would say that this kind of thinking will drive you away from and make you an enemy of God.

But this sort of thinking, requiring extraordinary proofs for extraordinary claims, has not led me to become an enemy of God at all, that is in the sense that God is the symbol of those human values such as respecting yourself, others, and the environment, and that there is more to life than my next meal, and those things which are about elevating positive ideals. If it means being an enemy a God who seeks to imprison people’s spirits with the rules of priests, then I would say that my critical thought has actually helped me to be more spiritual by becoming an enemy of that.

Critical thought does not lead to carnality; selfish thought does.


Many of you are living examples of this. You once believed in the non-corporal world of the spirit, but when you started to focus on scientific proof, you walked away from God (or you would say came to your sanity).

I believe in the non-corporal world of ideas. That to me is exactly what God is. You equate God with some independently existing Being. I see God as an extension of humanity, both the individual and collectively. God is a word, a symbol of this semi-independent Ideal, but as I said before many times, “When we stare deeply into realm of God, the face we will see staring back at us in our own.”

Dumping a broken language symbol because it stands in the way, is not the same thing as abandoning everything that God stands for.


Christians are encouraged by the Bible not to focus on this part of our existence. This does not mean that the natural life does not matter, it just means that it is the shortest part of our existence in terms of time. So, here is another part of my dimentia:

This is the one good thing that I can see in Christianity, is that it is a place where people can congregate and be encourage to move beyond focus on the mundane. It has the benefit of ritual and socialization. This is something that society needs to find a stronger replacement for.

Again, I feel that the system as a whole has been broken and something better needs come along that accomplishes this, except more effectively. We have not abandoned ourselves to carnality in our rejection of the language system. You see?


This does not mean that the natural life does not matter, it just means that it is the shortest part of our existence in terms of time. So, here is another part of my dimentia:

I disagree. I believe humans are both rational and spiritual. I believe to nurture both makes a whole living person. It’s like the saying that the best poem is one where your head is in the clouds, while your feet are planted firmly on the ground. This is one reason why Christianity failed for me.

Edited by Antlerman, 07 November 2007 - 11:24 AM.

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#2 Legion

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 12:43 PM

I think the problem here is the assumption that the “natural world” consists of only material. To me relationships are just as much a part of the natural world as material. Yet relationships are not material. Indeed it seems to me that much of science is about teasing forth the relationships that exist in nature.

In some sense I agree with Kratos that there is too much focus these days on the material. One of my favorite biologists often contrasted a reductionistic approach to biology with a relational approach. The essence of life is not to be found in some specific material. Rather it is found in some specific relationship. Yet I believe we must not forget that life cannot be divorced from organism, just as mind cannot be divorced from brain.
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#3 Antlerman

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 02:11 PM

I think the problem here is the assumption that the “natural world” consists of only material. To me relationships are just as much a part of the natural world as material. Yet relationships are not material. Indeed it seems to me that much of science is about teasing forth the relationships that exist in nature.

In some sense I agree with Kratos that there is too much focus these days on the material. One of my favorite biologists often contrasted a reductionistic approach to biology with a relational approach. The essence of life is not to be found in some specific material. Rather it is found in some specific relationship. Yet I believe we must not forget that life cannot be divorced from organism, just as mind cannot be divorced from brain.

I very much agree with this. I think what is mostly difficult will be the uses of words and what they mean. I was saying in the back of my mind the whole time as I wrote my response what you're touching on here, but I went with his conventional understanding of natural to communicate something beyond just the mechanical aspects of it. It's very difficult in an informal discussion to lay out a long list of definitions of words, but it may ultimately become unavoidable. We'll see what happens first, as I don't want to have to burden the discussion more than necessary.

I agree that atheism is often equated with philosophical materialism. This is one of the problems also encountered, because there is a whole raft of assumptions made about someone's philosophy as an atheist. I find that philosophy materialism is somewhat uninspiring. I don't care for strict reductionism and determinism, though I do see that see that parameters are to some degree limited by this, but not entirely. In particular in the human experience I believe in the freedom and power of choice within them. It's these that help define these relationships and in essence creates the natural world, if you will.

This comes back to my discussion about how we create God, and how then God in turn creates us in his image. This is not only a relationship between thought and the material that defines its essence, but I believe it actually shapes the material outcome itself. In the traditional relationship between man and God, reality and thought are fused, and become interdependent. So to many people, to hear someone say they reject God strikes them emotionally and sounds almost equivalent to saying you reject your own nature, so to speak. But what I see is not the rejection of God, but changing of symbols for the next stage in evolution. Materialism, is only a sharp stone to scrape off the dead skin of an outdated language with. It isn't the next language itself.

Cool stuff huh? Thanks for bringing this up. :grin:

Edited by Antlerman, 07 November 2007 - 02:20 PM.

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Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain,
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~Ikkyu - Zen-monk poet, 1394-1481

 

 

 

If a plant cannot live according to its nature it dies; and so a man.

 

~Thoureau


#4 sojourner

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 03:47 PM

Well this will throw a monkey wrench into most of christianity

(and forgive me some of you that really dont like being called spiritual as that equates you to having God thoughts if you will)

But to me when I read many of the posts I hear 'spiritually minded' words and ideas flowing

therefore, what is a person to do? Do we then just do what most of christendom does and say, no thats just another spirit, but not of God! Therefore it is somehow carnal because it cant be spiritual. I cant do that.

And I will try to not disrespect those that do not want to be thought of as spiritual by trying to use terms they are more comfortable with

but to me from my frame of reference many are spiritual

I like where it says
to be spiritually minded is life and peace

Either God is present in folks that dont claim Him

or we have to find new ways to understand what is going on

for me I tend to see God present in all men in differing degrees

but I understand where others see this awareness in all men that has nothing to do with God perse and anyone can tap in if you will



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#5 Antlerman

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 05:52 PM

But to me when I read many of the posts I hear 'spiritually minded' words and ideas flowing

therefore, what is a person to do? Do we then just do what most of christendom does and say, no thats just another spirit, but not of God! Therefore it is somehow carnal because it cant be spiritual. I cant do that.

And I will try to not disrespect those that do not want to be thought of as spiritual by trying to use terms they are more comfortable with

but to me from my frame of reference many are spiritual

I personally have no problem using the term spiritual. I've told this story before but will again for the benefit of this discussion.

An atheist friend of mine, who is into the French philosophers and art, was with me out for some drinks one evening along the St. Croix river sitting outside at a restaurant. We were talking about the pursuit of human spiritualilty through the arts, poetry, and philosophy; speaking Albert Camus and the Myth of Sisyphus, Jean Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness, the art of Degas, Gaughan, and others. When suddenly the woman at the next table got up and came and sat down at our table remarking,

"I couldn't help but overhear you talking about spirituality. It's so rare to hear two men talking about things like spirituality. I'm really into spirituality too".


She then proceeded to tell us all about her crystals, her trip to Egypt to the Pyramids, and various and sundry other stories of her astral-projecting exploits. Needless to say, that's not what we meant, but it illustrates the wide diversity of understanding that word can have. :HaHa:

Spirituality to me is about experiencing the ineffable qualities of life through a mindset of seeing outside the box, with a more aesthetic set of eyes that sees beyond just the surface features. It opens the mind and the heart up to something greater than the mundane. It’s the realm of hopes and dreams. There’s much, much more but I’ll leave it there.

Edited by Antlerman, 07 November 2007 - 05:59 PM.

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Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain,
but at the peak we all gaze at the single bright moon.

~Ikkyu - Zen-monk poet, 1394-1481

 

 

 

If a plant cannot live according to its nature it dies; and so a man.

 

~Thoureau


#6 dr_funkenstein

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 06:59 PM

The terms 'carnally minded' and 'spiritually minded' comes from gnosticism and the 1st century AD mystery religions. It is one of the memes contained within the Christianity memeplex that has proven successful at subverting critical free thinking.

The strategy works because it hijacks a basic human social imperative: to compete with our peers for social status. When a new believer is told that he or she now possesses a special form of insight that is unavailable to non-believers, this immediately bestows upon them a sense of superiority, and this is the initial emotional payoff for the believer.

Indeed, within a community of believers who have all subscribed to this meme there can be competition to see who has the deeper 'spiritual insight', and who has detached themselves from their 'carnal mind' more than others. This finds its expression in many ways, but perhaps the most obvious is the competition among believers of the Pentecostal persuasion, who feel social pressure to receive 'baptism in the spirit' (thus receiving special knowledge and inclusion in the peer group) so intensely that they hallucinate a spiritual experience and begin babbling nonsense talk which they term 'speaking in tongues' (which is a supposed marker of having received this 'spiritual baptism'). There are of course other, more subtle expressions of this competition.

The real beauty of this strategy however is the effect it has on a believer who interacts with a critically-thinking non-believer. The the more non-believers argue with the believer, the more embedded becomes the belief that they "just don't get it" and so over time it becomes self-reinforcing. Additionally, if the believer has any internal doubts that emerge, this meme acts as a defensive mechanism for the entire memeplex, deflecting away any critical thoughts with the notion that "such thoughts are carnally minded" and the believer should be more "spiritually minded".

The "carnal vs spiritual mind" meme is one that is superbly adapted, having been arrived at by a process of natural selection over many centuries. It gives the believer an initial emotional payoff and reinforces itself over time. It also acts as a defense mechanism for the Christianity memeplex as a whole and is undoubtedly one of the most powerful memes within its arsenal.
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#7 sojourner

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 07:36 PM

Dr Funkenstein

You absolutely make perfect sense to me in that your observations are right on in many ways

I do see such a worship if you will of spiritual insights , the bible, the gifts of the spirit, goosebumps in services and the list could go on and on and a oneupmanship thing especially in churches.

Honestly intellectually I could easily agree with what you bring to the table but there is this reality of a good God to me
If I did not have the relationship I have, for instance if I were into fundamentalism and still living with a fearful view of a vengeful God your words would
have a greater impact on me but they still do have impact because they cause me to look at my own life and see 'is this true about me?'

anyways, thanks for what you bring because it makes me take a look in the mirror and check my own heart

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#8 Grandpa Harley

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 07:53 PM

Back to the oddity of personal reality. Arguing an objective existence of something from a personal, subjective stance means that David Berkowitz's talking dog has as much 'objective' reality as a god... the American New Thought Stance of 'we create our own reality' is both true and false at the same time...

Spirituality appears to be something that varies widely from person to person. My experience of it is almost certainly not identical to anyone else's and it's not necessarily a reflection of an underlying, cthonic, underpinning that is somehow benign and intelligent... simply the conscious mind making sense of it's own signals... more like the Jungian view than it being a concrete, but badly perceived, daimonic reality.

Same with 'Carnality' which covers humanist materialism though to the sort of things Ted Haggard got up... In my use of the word, it's not a pejorative, but something I regard as being overly attached to concensus reality...

TBH, the middle of the road between the sub-Lovecraftian hardcore materialsm, and crystal waving, corpse fiddling, angel bothering, my imaginary friend is better than your imaginary friend mental Rorschachery is probably the healthiest mind set... it certainly seems to be a lot 'jollier' which, for me, is as good as it gets...
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#9 dr_funkenstein

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 08:37 PM

Dr Funkenstein

You absolutely make perfect sense to me in that your observations are right on in many ways

I do see such a worship if you will of spiritual insights , the bible, the gifts of the spirit, goosebumps in services and the list could go on and on and a oneupmanship thing especially in churches.


That was only a part of what I was talking about, however the main point I was making about what the "carnal vs spiritual mind" meme does is something that you've done an excellent job of illustrating. Let's take a look at what you went on to say.

Honestly intellectually I could easily agree with what you bring to the table but there is this reality of a good God to me
If I did not have the relationship I have, for instance if I were into fundamentalism and still living with a fearful view of a vengeful God your words would
have a greater impact on me but they still do have impact because they cause me to look at my own life and see 'is this true about me?'


Your case is intriguing, because you demonstrate a relatively new adaptation of the memeplex. Memeplexes most often develop new memes that reinforce the entire memeplex, but in your case it appears that it has done away what has historically been one of the most important memes: the fear of damnation. Of course, a hole that big must be filled with other memes that allow you to reinterpret the bible to somehow reconcile the fact that the god of the bible is without doubt a vengeful god.

Nevertheless, your words illustrate exactly the point I was trying to make. You say that on an intellectual level you understand what I'm talking about, and yet the meme deflects your attempts at seeing it at work in your own mind. You say that since you experience the reality of a good God this idea does not have an effect on you. Let's examine that.

Here you differentiate yourself from your peer group of believers by placing yourself in a more "enlightened" position. Those other Christians still believe in a vengeful god, but you - you possess a special "spiritual insight" that god actually isn't vengeful after all. Lo and behold, because of this "special knowledge" that you possess (that god is really real to you) my words have no effect whatsoever. And the meme has done its job once again.

anyways, thanks for what you bring because it makes me take a look in the mirror and check my own heart

Or at least, you have given yourself the illusion that you've examined yourself with real critical thinking. I find it fascinating to see how this memeplex continues to develop, even to the point of convincing its hosts that they are free of mind control by allowing critical analysis. It's like a Matrix within a Matrix.

Spectacular!
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#10 Antlerman

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 09:04 PM

Back to the oddity of personal reality. Arguing an objective existence of something from a personal, subjective stance means that David Berkowitz's talking dog has as much 'objective' reality as a god... the American New Thought Stance of 'we create our own reality' is both true and false at the same time...

Spirituality appears to be something that varies widely from person to person. My experience of it is almost certainly not identical to anyone else's and it's not necessarily a reflection of an underlying, cthonic, underpinning that is somehow benign and intelligent... simply the conscious mind making sense of it's own signals... more like the Jungian view than it being a concrete, but badly perceived, daimonic reality.

Same with 'Carnality' which covers humanist materialism though to the sort of things Ted Haggard got up... In my use of the word, it's not a pejorative, but something I regard as being overly attached to concensus reality...

TBH, the middle of the road between the sub-Lovecraftian hardcore materialsm, and crystal waving, corpse fiddling, angel bothering, my imaginary friend is better than your imaginary friend mental Rorschachery is probably the healthiest mind set... it certainly seems to be a lot 'jollier' which, for me, is as good as it gets...

Well then, I think we’re seeing things pretty closely the same then. It’s finding that magic balancing point somewhere in between a hardcore materialist like Richard Dawkins, and the astral-projecting New Age woman who thought Albert Camus was some sort of mystic guru from the Himalayas.

I think for me, what I’ve been gnawing on for some time is the consensus of language. As language provides a framework both the rational mind and the spiritual aspirations to be processed and communicated. Nothing can be called objective or absolute, but rather in terms of meaningful or profitable. Carnality, to me is a word that means more focused exclusively on the mundane affairs of life and overlooking or neglecting to appreciate the aesthetic qualities of life. “All work and no play makes Jack a Stonebreaker.” It’s a matter of coming to terms with a mythology that addresses these needs in a more universal way, if that is possible.

BTW, consider this painting of Corbert’s Stonebreakers, and see what you get out of it. It’s always stuck with me:

[attachment=4442:stonebreakers.jpg]
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Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain,
but at the peak we all gaze at the single bright moon.

~Ikkyu - Zen-monk poet, 1394-1481

 

 

 

If a plant cannot live according to its nature it dies; and so a man.

 

~Thoureau


#11 Grandpa Harley

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 09:15 PM

and yet one could say that the Decadents were Carnally Minded, yet Baudelaire can be pretty damned mystical at times... Crowley was certainly 'Carnally' minded, and he was a hardcore Mysitic, going to great lengths to not only stretch the boundaries of what I call 'Explorations of Jungspace' but to be a studied iconoclast...
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#12 sojourner

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 10:52 PM

You guys are way over my head, I have to get a dictionary to even understand some of the words you use haha

Well Dr at least I didnt dissappoint and even gave you a new meme to observe, by the way Im not sure what you do, but you are very good with making cases as in what a great lawyer you would be!

Grandpa I learn a new word every time I read your posts, your vocabulary must be huge. I know your heart is too.

Antlerman always a pleasure

I cant add a thing Im just as blank as can be and am taking some time off to finish some projects around here, painting and stuff like that.

Have a great weekend guys

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#13 Antlerman

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 10:56 PM

and yet one could say that the Decadents were Carnally Minded, yet Baudelaire can be pretty damned mystical at times... Crowley was certainly 'Carnally' minded, and he was a hardcore Mysitic, going to great lengths to not only stretch the boundaries of what I call 'Explorations of Jungspace' but to be a studied iconoclast...

Ok, I read your definition of carnality again, and I'll say I agree with this quite a lot. The exploration of the sensual, as with one of my favorite poets Baudelaire can in fact be an exploration of spirituality. The flesh is not contrary to the spirit, when it's approached spiritually, so to speak. Spirituality is very sensual (not sexual to those wincing in the wings). There's something about Baudelaire that always spoke to me.
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Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain,
but at the peak we all gaze at the single bright moon.

~Ikkyu - Zen-monk poet, 1394-1481

 

 

 

If a plant cannot live according to its nature it dies; and so a man.

 

~Thoureau


#14 Grandpa Harley

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 11:13 PM

Being proficient enough in French to neither starve, nor be at a loss to discuss the location of 'the monkey', I've always had a near DuBois reliance on translators... :D I'm trying to remember something that Eco said about this... toward the end of Foucault's Pendulum, and I'm buggered if I can! It's about spirituality relying on flesh and some musing about his unborn child... There again the mystery of mysteries is why there is no one behind the curtain in the OZ we find ourselves in... just a dust locked room where the Wizard was claimed to have appeared...

I'm going to bed before I invoke the Babylon 5 variant of Godwin's law...
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#15 Kratos

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 12:31 AM

Since all I can do is bring the Christian perspective, I will add another twist just to make it interesting. The Bible describes man as being triune similar to how many view God. Here are a few verses that mention this for those who don't mind Biblical references.

1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.


One way to explain this is in the description of the creation. First, God made plants which are singular in nature and body only. Second, He made the living creatures or living souls in the Hebrew. This is the animal kingdom and they are dual in nature and possess both a soul and a body. The soul is the mind and the will and the emotions. Anyone who has ever had a dog knows that they do have minds of their own, they can be very self-willed, and they have emotions and can get mad and get their feelings hurt. They even dream.

Finally, God made man in His image and likeness. The Bible says that God is a spirit. The spirit is the realm of God and is the eternal realm. Adam died in spirit at the fall and when our spirit is reborn, we can again hear God and know this unseen realm.

The reason that I bring these distinctions into this discussion is that even many Bible-believing Christians confuse the soul and the spirit and use the terms interchangably. The verse above from Hebrews shows that it takes a very sharp instrument indeed to make a distinction between our soul and our spirit in our understanding. I think that some here are making the same assumption that anything in man that is not tangible is necessarily spiritual. Things like art and relationships which have been mentioned are born and maintained in the soulical realm and are not spiritual.

The carnal mind and the mind of the spirit are not opposites to the extent that if it is not one then it is the other. According to Romans, to be carnally minded is to mind or focus on the things of the flesh or the physical world. To be spiritually minded is to mind or focus on the things of the spirit. To be soulically minded is to mind or focus on the things of the soul. Most artistic and free thinkers are very soulical though they may not be spiritual at all in the Christian sense.

According to the Christian concept of man, unless a man is born again, he cannot be spiritually minded or produce anything from his dead human spirit. He certainly has a non-corporal part of himself that does produce many things. Many accept that there is a difference between the brain (physical) and the mind (soulical). But, to be spiritually minded is to see the Kingdom of God.

I only add this for the sake of further understanding as to the Christian understanding of the carnal mind and the spiritual mind. Most of the greatest things that man has produced by himself have come from the realm of the soul. But, all that is of the spirit originates with God and not man.

Very interesting discussion.

Kratos
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#16 dr_funkenstein

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 01:35 AM

Kratos:

I used to believe that stuff too, about there being a body, soul and spirit. Then, after my mother had a stroke, I realised that what I thought was her "soul" was actually just her brain and there was really no soul at all. Then I realised that if the bible can be wrong about that, then maybe it's wrong about a few other things.

What evidence can you bring for the existence of a soul or a spirit? How can we know that the soul exists, let alone the spirit? I would have thought it pretty clear that everything you say about the soul - that it's the mind, will and emotions - all this has been demonstrated to take place within the brain, which is a part of the body is it not?
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#17 Kratos

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 03:59 AM

Dr. Funk,

I am sorry to hear about your Mom. I am not sure it proves the non-existence of the soul, but I am still sorry that you both went through that.

I was mainly posting based on what Antlerman wrote concerning that man is greatly diminished if all he sees is the physical man. It has been a long time since I have studied philosophy, but I remember a lot of philosophers who recognized this part of man that is beyond the physical realm.

Many have illustrated man's make-up as three concentric circles. The spirit is the smallest circle and is in the center. It is our innermost man. Around the spirit is the soul, the second circle which contains the spirit. The body is the largest circle around both of the other two. It is the outermost man.

Your spirit has no expression except through the soul and the soul has not expression except through the physical body. If a Christian is in a coma, they still have a soul and a spirit, but they are unable to be seen without the body.

So, God speaks to my spirit, I must receive and interprest this brief light into words in my soul, so I can speak it out into the world through my vocal chords in my body.

For a non-Christian, they reason or imagine or create in their soul and express those thoughts or that creativity using to tools of their physical body. Why do two men both have hands and eyes that are identical, yet, one can create breath-taking art or heavenly music and the other cannot? Is it only because their eyes and hands are not as sensitive? Or is there an intangible part within them that expresses itself through their body? Why do two men with identical size and weights of gray matter each have totally different minds in either strength of memory or ability to create or ability to imagine? It cannot just be physical differences in brain function.

Kratos

Edited by Kratos, 08 November 2007 - 04:09 AM.

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#18 mwc

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 04:42 AM


Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.


[snip]

Finally, God made man in His image and likeness. The Bible says that God is a spirit. The spirit is the realm of God and is the eternal realm. Adam died in spirit at the fall and when our spirit is reborn, we can again hear God and know this unseen realm.

The reason that I bring these distinctions into this discussion is that even many Bible-believing Christians confuse the soul and the spirit and use the terms interchangably. The verse above from Hebrews shows that it takes a very sharp instrument indeed to make a distinction between our soul and our spirit in our understanding.

Hopefully everyone will be able to follow what I'm going to say since like most everything else I'm just winging it (with the help of some Firefox tabs) here...

Let's take a closer look at what Hebrews actually is saying. Fortunately, I can do it rather quickly:

nuance: A subtle or slight degree of difference, as in meaning, feeling, or tone; a gradation.


What am I trying to say? It might be obvious but in case it's not let's quickly look at the words "spirit" and "soul." Spirit comes from "pneuma" and soul comes from "psuche." So far they're not really alike.

But a slightly closer look at "pneuma" reveals:

"to blow, breathe; to draw breath, breathe, and so to live); hence, breathing as the sign and condition of life, breath."

and "psuche" is:

"breath (not breath as mere air, but as the sign of life)."


As you can see there is a rather fine line between those two words. The whole verse of Hebrews is simply trying say just that. The author of Hebrews is splitting hairs for his own purposes. He appears to be trying to say that the word of god has the ability to tell the life force (the pneuma/spirit) from the "personality" or the "me" (the psuche/soul) and see "the thoughts and intents of the heart" (also associated with the psuche).

As I mentioned in another thread these two terms parallel the much earlier Egyptian "ka" (pneuma/spirit) and "ba" (psuche/soul) rather well but not absolutely (see "nuance" above).

So it appears that the "soul" may be a spirit but the "spirit" is not a soul. And it appears that this debate was happening long before I happened upon it. But at least it seems I'm not alone in my search for clarity of terms. I just don't think that the above verse has a helpful solution. I can only imagine what the person this letter was written to though about it.

The carnal mind and the mind of the spirit are not opposites to the extent that if it is not one then it is the other. According to Romans, to be carnally minded is to mind or focus on the things of the flesh or the physical world. To be spiritually minded is to mind or focus on the things of the spirit. To be soulically minded is to mind or focus on the things of the soul. Most artistic and free thinkers are very soulical though they may not be spiritual at all in the Christian sense.

This paragraph just shows you're inventing terms. Carnally minded. Ok. Spiritually minded. Ok. Soulically minded. Where'd that come from? It might actually be "better" in the sense it more accurately fits the definitions of the words (the "spirit" doesn't appear to "think" or have a "mind" whereas the "soul" does) but at this point you're just tossing it out there to have your "trinity" of items.

mwc
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#19 Antlerman

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 11:01 AM

Kratos,

I continue to get this thought that pops into the forefront of my mind every time I hear this type of response. I'm honestly not intending to be dismissive of your thoughts, but what I'm hearing is you dragging with you a lot of these typical types of unsupportable standard apologetic rhetoric from traditional evangelical responses. I'm saying that because as you becoming a Universalist Christian in thought, to me is a huge step forward, yet this sort of thing you speak of repeating this totally outdated, notion of an actual triune construction of humans of 'body, soul, and spirit', and in the ways you applied it above leave me with both intellectual dissatisfaction, and an emotional dissatisfaction.

It sounds exclusivist again, like saying someone is not capable of a spiritual life without becoming an actual Christian. You see how I mean, these seem like theologies of your past evangelical exclusivist mindset being drug in tow behind you into how you're now trying to think? Not only does it not ring true on any rational level, it sounds arrogant and exclusivist and leaves a bad taste in the mouth of people, which are hallmarks of the spirit of traditional Christian thinking.


As I said before in post #3 above,

“But what I see is not the rejection of God, but changing of symbols for the next stage in evolution. Materialism, is only a sharp stone to scrape off the dead skin of an outdated language with. It isn't the next language itself.”

I plan to take out that sharp stone and scrape off that outdated language which is putting itself between the way your thoughts are being influenced by it to see people as non-spiritual without conversion to Christianity, into something that better fits reality where human being experience nothing distinctly different from the Christian in living their lives.

Should you be trying to fit reality to your theology, or should you try to shape your theology to fit reality? I say the latter is the way to go. Quoting from Matthew Arnold again, “the whole of the Christian doctrine is religious and efficacious only when it becomes poetry.” Spirituality is simply a term to express certain emotional/cognitive perceptions that people have. It personifies them as a thing. It’s a feature of language. Now to the literalist, they take this feature of language and see it as indicating that this “spirit”, is an actual distinct essence in and of itself. And to the Biblical literalist, it not only takes this feature of language literally, but authoritatively as a scientific fact. That is what I see you having taking with you from traditional Christianity into your new Universalist perceptions.

I’m out of time right now, but I definitely plan to pick this up. This is what I was hoping would come out in this thread for discussion. Again, I’m hearing something that not only doesn’t fit reality, but offends. Those are hallmarks of historical Christian thought, and what Universalism has made some steps forward in overcoming. Until later…
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#20 Grandpa Harley

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 11:59 AM

Kratos:

I used to believe that stuff too, about there being a body, soul and spirit. Then, after my mother had a stroke, I realised that what I thought was her "soul" was actually just her brain and there was really no soul at all. Then I realised that if the bible can be wrong about that, then maybe it's wrong about a few other things.

What evidence can you bring for the existence of a soul or a spirit? How can we know that the soul exists, let alone the spirit? I would have thought it pretty clear that everything you say about the soul - that it's the mind, will and emotions - all this has been demonstrated to take place within the brain, which is a part of the body is it not?


I had the same thing with my Father's descent into madness with Lewy's Bodies dementian and Transient Ischatic Attacks. Effectively I saw his character change, becoming more and more violent among many other traits that he would have found horrific.

Kratos,

You can save any sympathy for me for someone who gives a good crap about your empathy. The idea of a soul is appealing to the need to think that somehow a loved one's identity goes on. If you've ever lived through the stripping of someone's identity by mental illness or brain injury, you'd know that the brain is wholly responsible for the identity and characteristics of the loved one in question. To try and sell your fairy story to people who have observed it up close and personal is not only talking without a fucking book, but coming decidedly close to being just plain offensive... and I find your presence here all of that, without adding to pouring your vileness on other's grief and pain...
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