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Member since: Sat Nov 29, 2008, 02:55 PM
Number of posts: 17,671

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Find joy without the use of specialized equipment.
Appreciate beauty in things that weren't manufactured to be beautiful.
Seek out unusual or conflicting ideas and make them work.

Do - starve the beast that feeds you.

Oh, I think it would be easy to market.

In a culture that gave us the pet rock, marketing isn't the problem. The difficulty is in market domination. For most of human history religion was the only game in town, and a theocratic power structure was usually employed to make sure it stayed that way. Nowadays people can project their faith in any of a million different directions. There is really no difference between a revival meeting and the wave at a baseball game. Religion has, for all intents and purposes, become indistinguishable from any other brand loyalty. The most successful religions are little more than media empires for a reason.

Fiction isn't simple. Literature is one of the arts, and the arts are very complicated to produce and understand. Making art is like juggling spaghetti in a tornado. Everything you do retroactively affects everything else you have done and proactively everything you can do in the future. If science were like art-making the experiment would depend not only on the measurable qualities of the experiment itself but how the scientist feels about it, how anyone reviewing the results of the experiment feel and how all those feelings relate to the zeitgeist of feelings, expectations, fears, hopes and regrets of the culture at large over time and in relation to everything that has gone before. There has certainly been plenty of historical fiction since the bible was written and references to the world around the narrative are crucial to helping people understand what is going on and identify with the characters.

I doubt that reimagining Christianity again will prove helpful in the times ahead. Religion in general and Christianity in particular have hitched their cart to an expansionist mindset and here in the twenty first century with seven billion people on the planet and the specter of resource depletion, there is nowhere left to expand to. We may be on the cusp of another Axial Age, and any search for God shouldn't depend on the zeitgeist that got us into this mess.

As far as I'm concerned

the bible is fiction and theology is literary criticism. As literature, the bible is not really designed to empirically explain anything but rather to give form to our internal lives in the context of the world in which we live. Unfortunately, since it's The Bible revisions to accurately reflect cultural changes have been erratic, spotty and occasionally violent. Probably because a lot of money and power depend on keeping it the way it is.

I think Charles' interpretation of christian faith is an effort to place God in the center of our modern understanding of causality. That understanding today is concerned with things like quantum mechanics, microbiology and other aspects of the natural world that are too small or remote to be directly percieved but nevertheless have an impact on our culture. It's a sort of "new agey" Christianity and if that works for him it's fine with me.

I think problems arise when revisions to Christian doctrine have more to to with effective marketing than spiritual enlightenment. Given the importance of religion and an interpretation of the nature of God in the exercise of power throughout human history, we should exercise special care and a healthy dose of skepticism regarding a new understanding of the divine. I find Charles conception of God unsatisfying because it seems to depend more on cultural changes for popular appeal than give a deeper insight into our understanding of our place within them.

While an interesting read I find your description of God unsatisfying.

I think we can more or less all agree (at least here) that the concept of a "God in heaven" is no longer tenable in light of the scientific discoveries made in the last few hundred years. So while the idea of a God "up there somewhere" is no longer tenable, the idea of a God that is at the heart of existence in the form of the "driving force" of everything really doesn't move God to a more tenable position. Science is working diligently on a ToE and sooner or later we will have to move God to yet another amorphous location to keep the notion of a deity current with the latest scientific discoveries. That I think is hardly any way to treat a concept so important to so many people.

Your conception of God is not functionally different from any other conception of a deity as a creator or first mover of the physical world and everything in it. Whether we surround God with clouds and putti or abstract concepts related to energy, God is still over there somewhere. It seems that what you have done is move him from the attic to the first floor study.

If you find that conception of God satisfying, and many people do, I wouldn't argue that you change it at my behest. I can also see potential pitfalls in such a definition of God. If God can be interpreted as a destination that is apart from ourselves, there will always be someone willing to offer conveyance to enlightenment - for a price. And with that price come all the evils that have little to do with enlightenment and everything to do with control of resources and power.
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