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ficino

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About ficino

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  • Birthday February 26

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    literature, philosophy
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    ancient texts

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
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  1. Hello gents, no physicist am I, nor philosopher of science. But I thought a scientific theory is not, strictly speaking, proved. I thought it 'shows its mettle,' as Karl Popper put it, the more times it successfully predicts outcomes that are then verified. I.e. it's predicted outcomes of experiments that are verified, but it's not the theory that is verified. ???
  2. Hello Disgruntled, I think "sin" is a theological construct best left at the door. It is Christianity's tool to create a false need, i.e. "I am damned and need to be saved" so that Christianity can then offer [ETA: or "sell you"] the solution to the false need it created. We all do wrong things and we lead better lives as we grow in moral character. To do that does not call for the theological construct, "sin," and in fact I think one's moral character is much firmer when one acts because the thing is good rather than out of fear that God will get you.
  3. Hyam Maccoby theorized that Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem was in fall, i.e. at Succoth, not in spring, because Succoth is festival for palm branches (only last year’s dried fronds are available in spring), and Succoth looks forward to messianic king. But the gospel writers' moving the events to Passover allowed the equation, Jesus as Passover Lamb.
  4. Hello Bhim, one thing to note is that in your earlier post, you say that you openly hate "Muslim people." That's different from saying that you openly hate "Islam".
  5. People did not suggest false hypotheticals to you. Nevertheless, here is a real situation. Our brother in the Lord, Rod (28), was found to have cancer. EVERYONE prayed. Little children prayed. Everyone laid hold of NT promises. Rod died anyway. Conclusion: the NT promises about answered prayer are bogus. You will want to say, "But that doesn't mean... you all must have just not ... " ETC. Rod died anyway. NT promises about answered prayer are bogus. When we get failure on the verifiable level, the unverifiable level is left with no credibility. That event started my journey out of the cult.
  6. Hello, Canada27, a shout out from another ex-Catholic!
  7. Lost, your reply to me was incoherent. Don't try to discuss philosophical topics about which you lack training. Tell us your experiences, if you think that worthwhile, but don't be surprised if we don't conclude general truths from your experiences as you interpret those.
  8. When you label an experience as a "religious" experience, you are slipping in a God claim by the way you are using the descriptor, "religious." The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that the cause of the experience was God and not something else. Same thing here. None of us can prove that some experience of yours WASN'T caused by God, but we have no reason to think that it was caused by God. It's on you to demonstrate that it was. Since as you acknowledge, we can't have your exact experience, then we are left with no way of evaluating your claim. But since we are aware of similar experiences in others and ourselves, which seem to have natural explanations, a natural explanation is our default assumption about your experiences. It's an assumption - yes, but one we've found in general works in life. If you have evidence for God that is amenable to the same method of testing by any observer, let's hear it.
  9. Hi BarnOwl, about scripture: have you looked into the question, what does Paul denounce as the sexual partnerings of "their females" in Romans 1:26? There is good reason to think that he is denouncing, not female-female sex but female-male anal or oral sex. A lot has been written on this problem and on how it's not legitimate to infer from "and likewise the males" that the sin of the females in the preceding verse is that they pick same-sex partners. This is the only Bible verse that can be claimed to denounce whom we today call lesbians, and if in fact it's denouncing women for having non-procreative sex with men, then there is no anti-lesbian verse in the Bible. From THAT, if true, it follows that Paul has no conception of homosexuality as such, diversified into male-male and female-female expressions. And I think that conclusion is quite sound. The notion of homosexual orientation is hardly visible in antiquity. It makes much more sense to suppose that Paul is working from prohibitions in the Torah, where it's forbidden for a male to have anal intercourse with a male but nothing is said about female-female. If you haven't looked at it, it's instructive to read the Responsum of the Conservative Jewish Movement on the question, should they allow same-sex marriage. After years of debate, the Conservative Jewish movement decided to allow it with the proviso that two men who marry shouldn't have anal sex. That's because the Conservative movement views rabbinic tradition as historically conditioned, and therefore changeable, but they view biblical prohibitions as binding. Reformed and Reconstructionist Jews of course view biblical passages also as historically conditioned, so they allow same sex marriage without the awkward qualification that the Conservatives put on it. Still, I think the Conservative Responsum is good. http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/sites/default/files/public/halakhah/teshuvot/20052010/dorff_nevins_reisner_dignity.pdf https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/sites/default/files/public/halakhah/teshuvot/2011-2020/same-sex-marriage-and-divorce-appendix.pdf
  10. Well, heh heh, I never BECAME Eastern Orthodox. And with those βρωμικοί και κλέπτονες παπάδες (dirty, thieving priests), I'm lucky I steered clear.
  11. Welcome, BarnOwl! I too like your screen name, especially since I used to be an avid birder. Like you, I struggled to reconcile being Christian with being gay. Eventually the injustice of God as depicted by Christianity, and the failure of NT promises to come true as the NT indicates they should, drove me out of the religion. Later on I came to see how flawed is the evidential basis it rests on. I don't know whether the old archives are still accessible here on Ex-Chr. Below is my anti-testimony, which I posted back in 2004. Egad! 16 more years have gone by! Sorry for the length. I hope there is something you can identify with. I agree with you that we're not all that unique. Time to say yes to life It’s been over twenty years since my fervent faith collapsed, and almost fifteen since I stopped going to church altogether. I used to think I could never go on without believing in Christ as my savior. Rarely, I miss it, but I realize it’s the social or emotional trappings-- Christmas carols on an icy night, incense breathed at mass, or tradition and the pull of ideals. I know from reading posts on this website that many people who drop Christianity feel adrift and anxious. From my middle-aged perspective, I haven’t looked back or regretted leaving. I’d make the same decision again and know it was the right one. Christianity was costing me my chance for a human life. The god it represented was unjust. It didn’t live up to what it promised. As a system, it couldn’t be true. As a young child I was sent to Presbyterian Sunday School by parents who were also into Westernized, Hinduistic practices and ideas like vedantic yoga and reincarnation. I was attracted to God and spiritual things. The summer after ninth grade I had been reading Autobiography of a Yogi and was struck by the meaninglessness of earthly life compared to the aspiration of becoming one with God. All the same I wanted to fit in with other kids, plus I was attracted to other boys, but I didn’t confront that as a “problem” within myself until I was well into high school. I wound up in college lonely and confused, resigned that I was gay but unable to decide what to do about that, wishing for a sense of direction and purpose. I wanted to understand truth that would set me free (I used to say this biblical verse to myself). I had fallen in love with philosophy and wanted to study more, even perhaps someday to be a philosopher. At the start of sophomore year I met some students who had been “saved” over the summer. They seemed full of life and purpose. I marveled at how they seemed transformed. They and other Christian students all seemed to display instant love for each other, and they tried to show it to non-Christians like me, too. It didn’t take long before I agreed to go with one of my new friends to an emotional revival at an Assemblies of God church. I thought the emphasis on sin, repentance and belief was ridiculous, even too easy. I had come to believe that, if knowledge of God is real at all, it can be obtained only through arduous searching and self-development. I thought sin was more lack of awareness. Still, at the end of the night I asked the pastor to pray that I would understand I was a sinner. My friend told me to read the epistle to the Romans. Within two weeks I sat in the university chapel, prayed the sinner’s prayer, and gave my heart to Christ. All my new friends rejoiced that another sinner was born again. I became immersed in the Assemblies church and in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on campus. I had a multitude of instant friends. People wanted to hear my testimony. At first I still had doubts. My upbringing and education had left me assuming that fundamentalist Protestantism was just for the ignorant and emotional. I dove into the Bible and devoured books explaining prophecy, creationism, and so on. It was not long before the Assemblies of God led me to seek the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” and to speak in tongues. It seems another person's life now, but I remember kneeling with two other people from the congregation in a darkened living room one autumn night on a shag carpet waiting, and then receiving, the "baptism." My tongue took off and formed what seemed like complete utterances all by itself in an unknown language. I now am convinced I psyched myself into an extreme emotional state with my own prayers plus increased rate of breathing. While my voice was doing the tongues thing, my rational faculties were all intact and I was with another part of my mind sort of standing back and thinking, wow, I've gotten the baptism, hasn't God blessed me! plus also wondering how much my consciousness was controlling what my tongue was doing. My influence was a role in my sister’s becoming a Christian. She and her husband now are still deeply into the charismatic movement. On campus I became aware that there were many versions of Christianity and much doctrinal dispute. When I wrote a paper the next year on St. Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of predestination (he held that God foreordains all events, including who shall be saved), I came to believe that the Arminian (God foreknows but doesn’t cause) approach of the Assemblies was not scriptural. My adherence to Christianity was stronger than my natural resistance to Calvinistic doctrines like God predestines those whom He will punish forever in hell (the saints rejoice at their torments), and I drifted into Calvinism under the influence of some other Christian students who were also studying philosophy. I was elected president of the campus InterVarsity chapter, and I had a lot to do as leader of an organization of 160 or so members. I was “discipling” younger students and all sorts of stuff that amazes me - how did I think I knew anything? I visited elderly shut-ins. I was always in love secretly with some male friend and no prayer or religious exercise ever changed that. I believed God would change me eventually. I did seek counseling from adult Inter Varsity leaders. Like everyone else, I jerked off every so often and repented. At one college retreat, about a hundred guys went to a session on masturbation, while I and one girl and one other guy went to a session on homosexuality! Every so often my friends would confess their lusts or that they’d looked at porn or whatever. I dated girls here and there but didn’t feel any physical desire - which scared me, but I still believed God would change me. Like many who are really into Christianity, I wanted to go into some ministry. In graduate school I met Eastern Orthodox and Catholic students. For the first time, I was confronted with serious Christians who were not Protestants. My Assemblies and then Calvinist associates had all just assumed that those traditions were unscriptural and works-centered rather than salvation by faith alone. One Sunday I went with other students to English services in a side chapel at a Russian Orthodox cathedral on New York’s Lower East Side. It seemed very foreign, but people were clearly into it as much as in the Assemblies. I met seminarians from St. Vladimir’s. Protestants tend to talk as though the Holy Spirit skipped over about twelve or more centuries. I started to wonder, were the Reformers justified in breaking away totally? My question changed from “how can these priest-ridden groups think they understand the Gospel?” to “how can the Reformers justify their radical break?” One of the most striking things to hit me as a Calvinist was in a footnote in Tradition and Traditions by Yves Congar, quoting another theologian who observed that the principle of "sola scriptura" does not satisfy its own requirements in the case; it's not taught anywhere in the NT, which on the other hand talks about traditions of the apostles as normative. I was shaken by Congar’s remark that the formation of the canon of scripture had long been one of the trump cards of the Catholic controversialist. Protestants claim to limit themselves to a Bible alone, when that Bible doesn’t itself state the list of books that go into making it up - the Church came up with that. John Henry Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua also shook my Protestant assumptions. I went on to a year at a Calvinist seminary to give the Reformation a chance. Someone mentioned Cornelius Van Til a while back on this website; he taught at a nearby seminary, and I heard him lecture on his presuppositionalist apologetics and went to his house for tea. John Henry Newman’s Lectures on Justification and his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine provided arguments that none of my Calvinist teachers could answer. I had been taught by Calvinists that “a dogmatic Christ founded a dogmatic church.” They wanted the Westminster Confession and other Protestant documents to hold authority about doctrine over the individual. They got impatient when I kept asking why that principle doesn’t amount to tradition and teaching magisterium, i.e. it leads to Rome. By the end of that year I was sitting in on mass at a local parish, and the other students and the professors abandoned me as an apostate. I had pledged to judge all questions by scripture when I entered that seminary. I believed I was still doing this. “This is my body.” etc. etc. By this time I had a girlfriend, but I wasn’t taking things anywhere. I had sought pastoral counseling about what I called homosexual desires. Nothing was changing. I thought maybe if I just get married in faith I’ll learn to love her physically. As I decided to become Catholic, though, my idealistic side turned toward the priesthood. Plus that gave the obvious advantage of promising ways of not dealing with my sexuality. It turned out that I was groped at one point later by a religious brother in the provincial house of his order, and other priests made passes at me. I told my priest about it as well as the brother’s superior, but I figured to let charity be charity and forgive someone’s weakness. In a meeting with a monk-therapist I was told I wasn’t a real homosexual but a case of arrested development. I didn’t know what to make of that, but since I was more seriously planning to enter religious life, I figured God would enable me to transcend the flesh by his grace. It was very painful to my girlfriend when I told her I planned to become a priest. I am ashamed even now of how long I let her hang on, though I know a marriage would have been total disaster. Among educated Catholics I met many who developed their minds and did not get hung up on fundamentalistic prejudices. All the talk of “the Lord gave me a burden for this” or “the Lord led me to say/do this” etc. ad nauseam is much rarer in Catholic circles. Catholic friends also tended to remain friends with me after I left, when all but one of my former Protestant friends shunned me as an apostate. As years passed, eventually the problems with the God of the desert as depicted in biblical texts, and with the mentality that the religions of those texts create, became too much. I remember one summer visiting the monastery of Mt. Savior near Elmira, and another visitor, a Catholic seminarian, said, in answer to my questions about what he was looking for, replied, "I'm trying to learn how to be a human being." At that time I was in love with my roommate who then became engaged to marry. Again I’d seen my emotions run into directions my religion fenced off. I'd been praying, and people prayed for me, that God would free me, but nothing was changing. My priest said, enduring homosexuality and remaining faithful to church teachings was God’s way for me of carrying the cross. That year I felt depressed at what looked like a life of loneliness. I might have handled my struggles if they’d been unique to me, but as a believer in God’s omnipotence and sovereignty, I couldn’t see how He could be a just god setting up a world with millions of people like me and letting us have human drives and desires, then barring us from experiencing their fulfillment the way He allows heterosexuals to do -- even those who can’t have children. All of us gays and lesbians were the pot saying to the potter, why hast thou made me thus? and the potter’s answer was, because it is my will, and it glorifies me. I would walk down my street wondering, is this the way Luther used to feel when he said he hated God? Some gay Christians claimed the Bible verses against gays and lesbians really have different interpretations, but my study of the Greek never convinced me they were right-- though I’m still open to that possibility. Any ex-fundy knows how useful hermeneutical dexterity can be. I went into therapy with a priest but nothing changed. Contradictions in the Bible that I used to shrug off started to disturb me. A graduate-school friend died of cancer despite the prayers of our whole campus group, including children from a nearby parish who didn’t even know the young man. My hope was that monastic life would give me structure, goals and direction. Then, a REAL miracle! I fell in love with my present lover-partner of 23 years. When we realized we loved each other, my religious scruples fell like a house of cards. The thought of hell waiting for gays melted under the warmth of hope. I realized I could choose life over fear and loneliness. The day we declared our feelings to each other, I wept that I could never pray the rosary again. Ken took me in his arms. “Of course you can, Kit. You can if you want to.” But I knew the man I loved was wrong on this. I could never pray again from inside an infallible faith. Whatever the gray areas, the Christianity to which I’d devoted myself - Protestant or Catholic - claimed to be inerrant in its essentials. I had never taken seriously anything less than that. Drop one essential and the edifice crumbles. I let it crumble and smiled through my tears. In the ensuing days, I walked on air and wanted to shout our love from the rooftops. Over time, the Christian residue faded away. The human part remained and grew into its proper spaces. Sadness and grief and obtuseness alternate day by day with gladness and wonder. They are just what they are; it’s a relief not to spiritualize mental states anymore. I chuckle that as years passed, I even became sexually attracted by females as well as males. It took getting out of Christianity to feel that. I’m loyal to my honey just the same; only monogamy works for me. Before that day, I would have propounded lots of arguments to convince myself that my doubts about Christianity's fundamental truths were smokescreens for my sins, lust, desire for guys, rebellion, pride in my education and intellect, blah blah. “You never really gave your heart to Christ because you were attached to your homosexual desires/scholarly pretensions.” Whatever. I did and believed ALL the stuff. I don’t know how I could have had stronger belief in the forgiveness of my sins. After becoming Catholic I had stopped masturbating for years. I felt and expressed in confession a strong sense of contrition for my mental slip-ups. Religious types always say that a person’s decision not to accept their doctrines comes out of the person’s moral fault, not the fault of the doctrines. When I looked away from myself and at the evidence of unanswered prayer, contradictions in the Bible (check this website!), the moral depravity of the deity depicted in that book, absurd combinations of mutually exclusive ideas, etc. etc., I realized my own "argumenta ad hominem" were my insecurities talking. Some genuine Catholic friends urged me to stay in the church, but picking and choosing what teachings to accept just seemed dishonest. Augustine read Plato and fell in love with the Form of the Beautiful. He wanted that abstraction to have a human face. He convinced himself that face was the face of Christ. How many of us do that? But I need a human face to look into mine. How much "grace" a selfish, flawed human being can reflect back when s/he just is open to acting in right sentiment? I think that's the most love we get and give in this world. Acting because God told me so doesn't bring more virtue and often weakens what virtue there otherwise would be. When I first got saved, Christianity met some of my psychological needs: direction, purpose outside myself, confidence with people, yearning to be loved. Nevertheless I believe Christianity blocked me from other developmental tasks that were important at that age, like integrating romantic and sexual issues, establishing my career, being at ease with the world outside Christian circles. I always secretly hated feeling that non-Christians were fundamentally separated from me and that I had to focus on converting them because they were headed for hell. As a Catholic I loved the sacraments, the slow rise of the Divine Office prayed six times a day, the best of the music (like Faure’s Requiem), the attempt to integrate reason into faith, the understanding of human nature of the more Italianate style of Catholicism. I was like other born again types - when pushed to the wall to give an explanation, I justified my conversion by my experience. So why not appeal to experience the other way round and leave a self-contradictory system when you realize it damages your experience? (Parts of this testimony are pieced together from earlier postings. Apologies to those who are reading them for the second time!)
  12. I am sorry, I do not understand the point you are making. Do you mean, the agreement of large numbers of people in worship settings or the like does not count as mass delusion? If that's what you mean, it doesn't follow from the fact that many people describe the cause of their experience in the same way, that their experience is caused by that purported cause. You are aware, I presume, of the "Angels of Mons"? That was a mass delusion not even in the moment but after the fact. https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/2015/12/01/world-war-i-miracle-the-angels-of-mons/ The story of the miracle of Fatima is that the sun appeared to many to come very close to the earth. I'm guessing you are Protestant. If you would reject a claimed Catholic miracle like that of the Blessed Virgin Mary's appearance at Fatima - which, if true, entails the falsity of Protestantism - then you would in principle reject other cases when a group claims to have experienced the same occult or extra-sensory phenomenon.
  13. Good point. And "allegory" is already explicit in Paul. He says, "but the one born from the slave concubine has been born according to the flesh, but the one from the free woman [was born] as the result of the promise. And these things are said as allegory: for these women are two covenants, one from Mount Sinai, born into slavery, who is Hagar." etc., Galatians 4:23-24. When I was in college and on fire for the Lord, my medieval philosophy prof, who was also a rabbi, told some of us that Christianity is based on "an allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament." I thought, no way, it's just all clearly in the texts! But here Paul is explicitly proving what my rabbi professor said. The whole thing is allegorizing of the OT plus stories about a wandering messianic pretender, which may or may not be true. If true, Jesus himself can well have allegorized himself into many a scriptural passage.
  14. Hello LMTO (if I may), in your last two sentences, you talk about our senses and the evidence they provide. But there are many kinds of experiences, and within the experience there is what is in our head, so to speak, and there is the content of the experience, that we think maps or represents something outside of our head. It's not usually a problem when, say, you are on a hiking trail and standing in front of a tree stump looking at it. You have the mental image of the stump, your mind classifies it in a category it has constructed in the past from other mental images, etc. etc. But say you continue down the trail and suddenly, you freeze. It looks like a bear down there! OMG. Your heartbeat picks up, you wonder whether to run or stand still or back up slowly ... you make motions to people behind you to be careful, and you mouth to them, "There's a bear." However it happens, suppose you discover after having gained more data that what you saw and thought looked like a bear was in fact another tree stump, strangely shaped. Later experiences give more clarity, from which you're in a better position to evaluate the content of the earlier experience and separate the sensory data - a shape - from the conclusions you drew about the data. So what I'm saying is consistent with the latter part of your post. I am not jettisoning the evidence of the senses! Just the opposite. We often discover after later reflection and further inquiry that we were at first wrong about external causes of what had gone by on our mental screen. It should be obvious where I'm going with this. On later examination I found that things I had experienced, such as the Whoosh of the first time I spoke in tongues, were pretty clearly psychogenic. Other religions have these or similar phenomena, for example. My pastor used to point out that Paul indicates that the Corinthians had spoken in tongues and the like even before they were converted. And I found I could pretty much turn on and off the glossolalia. After a while even as a fervent Christian it sort of faded in importance. Ditto other phenomena. Answered prayer is VERY hard to establish as such - I won't even go there, it's a topic so often discussed. I think, for starters, the Bible itself provides so many defeaters that supposed evidence from what we interpret as encounters with the divine is poorly equipped to overthrow skeptical conclusions about the religion's claims.
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