Author Topic: Atheology  (Read 2766 times)

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Offline Christo

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #80 on: January 10, 2019, 07:36:24 AM »
I am not amused. You are merely projecting your own beliefs onto others. That is not the same thing as them actually believing it. I am happy for you to believe anything you want to believe. I find it unfortunate that you appear to be unable to return the respect.

8)
I agreed with what you wrote, except for this small error. And no: I'm not projecting beliefs on others, but accepting our fundamental equality - reciprocity if you want - in this respect.

Why I'm not a believer:

I was born into a Roman Catholic family. I believed in God from a young age (3 and 1/2) because I saw him, on my first visit to Sacred Heart Church of Pittsburgh. Being confused by the unprecedented grooming I was subjected to — fancy shoes, slicked back hair, a little bow tie — I asked my mother "Why?" She said: "We have to dress up because we're going to God's house." About half way through my first Mass, a beefy old Irish guy, Monsignor Hayes, ascended to the pulpit and began angrily railing at the congregation. It was perfectly obvious by analogy to my own family that, since he was doing the yelling, this must be his house and that, therefore, the man in the pulpit had to be the Almighty Himself. A couple of years later I experienced a version of the department-store-Santa-Claus-epiphany: One Sunday another man, a mild and soft spoken one, ascended to the lectern for the week's sermon. Afterward I turned to my mother and said: "Hey, that's a different guy up there; They can't both be God!" That's when I learned about priests. Shortly thereafter I was sent to a Catholic elementary school for intensive indoctrination. Six months after graduating — I had refused to attend a Catholic High School — I had rejected all of my religious training. The reason I ceased to believe in a supreme being was a simple point of logic. Catholics believe in and omniscient and omnipotent god. I figured out that if humans were created by such a god, then free will is a ludicrous fiction. Faced with this fact there were several options: Manichean dualism, a belief in predestination, or ceasing to believe in the kind of god accepted by mainstream Christian denominations. I chose the latter. Since I was not invested in supernatural beliefs other than the ones I had tentatively accepted under threat of eternal damnation in a lake of fire, rejecting my religious training effectively made me an atheist. Had no one browbeat me from a young age, the idea of a supreme being would never have entered my head, so becoming an unbeliever was for me a return to a natural state.

Many thanks for illustrating - proving - once again that confessing is something different from reasoning. #whichisverymuchOK

… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline JBS

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #81 on: January 10, 2019, 07:45:02 AM »
Why I'm not a believer:

I was born into a Roman Catholic family. I believed in God from a young age (3 and 1/2) because I saw him, on my first visit to Sacred Heart Church of Pittsburgh. Being confused by the unprecedented grooming I was subjected to — fancy shoes, slicked back hair, a little bow tie — I asked my mother "Why?" She said: "We have to dress up because we're going to God's house." About half way through my first Mass, a beefy old Irish guy, Monsignor Hayes, ascended to the pulpit and began angrily railing at the congregation. It was perfectly obvious by analogy to my own family that, since he was doing the yelling, this must be his house and that, therefore, the man in the pulpit had to be the Almighty Himself. A couple of years later I experienced a version of the department-store-Santa-Claus-epiphany: One Sunday another man, a mild and soft spoken one, ascended to the lectern for the week's sermon. Afterward I turned to my mother and said: "Hey, that's a different guy up there; They can't both be God!" That's when I learned about priests. Shortly thereafter I was sent to a Catholic elementary school for intensive indoctrination. Six months after graduating — I had refused to attend a Catholic High School — I had rejected all of my religious training. The reason I ceased to believe in a supreme being was a simple point of logic. Catholics believe in and omniscient and omnipotent god. I figured out that if humans were created by such a god, then free will is a ludicrous fiction. Faced with this fact there were several options: Manichean dualism, a belief in predestination, or ceasing to believe in the kind of god accepted by mainstream Christian denominations. I chose the latter. Since I was not invested in supernatural beliefs other than the ones I had tentatively accepted under threat of eternal damnation in a lake of fire, rejecting my religious training effectively made me an atheist. Had no one browbeat me from a young age, the idea of a supreme being would never have entered my head, so becoming an unbeliever was for me a return to a natural state.   

Interesting that in listing the options to solve that paradox, you leave out the one that resolves it: the Omnipotence restrains Itself and allows human beings to choose without coercion, rather like a parent allowing their children to run around and play despite the inevitable skinned knees, scrapes, and bumps.

Offline Christo

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #82 on: January 10, 2019, 07:52:49 AM »
Interesting that in listing the options to solve that paradox, you leave out the one that resolves it: the Omnipotence restrains Itself and allows human beings to choose without coercion, rather like a parent allowing their children to run around and play despite the inevitable skinned knees, scrapes, and bumps.
Which happens to be the Christian one.
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline JBS

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #83 on: January 10, 2019, 08:08:18 AM »
Which happens to be the Christian one.

Also the Jewish one. It happens to be the one outlined in the Bible.

The Bible says God strengthened* Pharoah's heart. That does not mean God made Pharoah more obstinate, but that God removed the shock, fear, awe, and pain that would normally ensue from the Plagues from Pharoah so he could choose what he (Pharoah) actually wanted without any taint of co-ercion.   There is another school of thought that says Pharoah was representative of a special class...people who are so obstinate in their sin that it would be unjust to allow them to repent. IOW, taking away the ability to repent is itself a punishment.

*Many translations say "hardened" but the Hebrew word is a derivative of the word for strength.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #84 on: January 10, 2019, 08:10:01 AM »
Also the Jewish one. It happens to be the one outlined in the Bible.

The Bible says God strengthened* Pharoah's heart. That does not mean God made Pharoah more obstinate, but that God removed the shock, fear, awe, and pain that would normally ensue from the Plagues from Pharoah so he could choose what he (Pharoah) actually wanted without any taint of co-ercion.   There is another school of thought that says Pharoah was representative of a special class...people who are so obstinate in their sin that it would be unjust to allow them to repent. IOW, taking away the ability to repent is itself a punishment.

*Many translations say "hardened" but the Hebrew word is a derivative of the word for strength.

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Offline Jo498

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #85 on: January 10, 2019, 08:12:48 AM »
But the paradox exists in a very similar fashion in a naturalist/mechanist world without God. Or maybe it is then not a strict paradox because there simply is only quasi-mechanical predestination and the "illusion" of free will.

I think this still is a paradox in a godless world because one needs some kind of free will for rationality. I might suffer from illusions when I kid myself that I "freely chose" whether to have toast or cornflakes for breakfast. No big deal. But when I think through an argument or try to solve a math problem I have to be able to follow reasons to the correct conclusions and be sure that I am usually not determined by non-rational causes to come a particular conclusion. If my "reasoning mode" is illusory, I cannot think in the usual sense at all. (I am worse off than the one living in a matrix-style illusion of the sense impressions because in such a case I would be wrong about all my sense experiences but could come to true statements of logics, geometry etc.)
(I must also have the freedom to err in my reasoning, but to be a rational being at all I have to be distinguishable from a pre-programmed robot or a madman.)

So either I am not rational (but follow simply physical laws and processes) or there is some prestabilized harmony between my rational behaviour and physical processes (which could still leave me predetermined) or by deliberating reasons and coming to conclusions I "freely" follow logic and rationality which are general and abstract, not determined by physical processes.  I think the first option is self-defeating because if I am never really thinking rationally at all why should I believe any statement to be true and justified and this applies also to the statements of some sciences that led me to the "belief" that I am but a determined machine.

The second and third grant to the space of reasons an independence and universality that cannot be captured by materialism. (This does not yet lead to theism, of course.)
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
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Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #86 on: January 10, 2019, 08:20:21 AM »
Interesting that in listing the options to solve that paradox, you leave out the one that resolves it: the Omnipotence restrains Itself and allows human beings to choose without coercion, rather like a parent allowing their children to run around and play despite the inevitable skinned knees, scrapes, and bumps.
Everyone who has been around young children knows how determined they are to do things on their own. One of the first words of my nephew when he was barely two years old was "alleine" (literally alone, meaning he wanted to do something himself without the help of an adult). I remember also that when my brother at about 8 or 9 had to crochet something for school (this was the 1980s and they made boys do needlework as well in primary school...) and when something went amiss my mom helped him a little too much, he threw a tantrum and the whole had to be re-started from before the help because otherwise it would not have been his own handiwork.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline BasilValentine

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #87 on: January 10, 2019, 10:54:41 AM »
Interesting that in listing the options to solve that paradox, you leave out the one that resolves it: the Omnipotence restrains Itself and allows human beings to choose without coercion, rather like a parent allowing their children to run around and play despite the inevitable skinned knees, scrapes, and bumps.

You aren't thinking. For a being knowing all things past present and future, the act of creation means creating the whole sequence from beginning to end. An omniscient god knows every choice every sentient being is going to make before it is made. For such a being, creating a person (or setting in motion the universe in which such person will come to be) means creating each and every one of those choices. The destination of every person bound for the lake of fire is known in advance and such a god is morally culpable for every word and action of his creations. No free will. Coercion has nothing to do with it.

Your only dodge in this case is to postulate that God suspended omniscience before and during creation, not omnipotence. All this dodge would accomplish, however, is to make God guilty of negligent genocide (among a list of every other crime ever perpetrated) rather than willful genocide. 
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 11:11:01 AM by BasilValentine »

Offline Zeus

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #88 on: January 10, 2019, 01:39:51 PM »
A partial defense of free-will and self-determination....

The portion of the universe which your body inhabits (let's call that space and its contents "you") is a non-trivial part of the overall universe (particularly from your perspective !!) and jointly creates future states of the universe through interactions with its environment.  In this sense, you are a co-creator of all future states of the universe, and even a rather important co-creator in your neck-of-the-woods.

Moreover, your future behavior is unpredictable to other inhabitants of the physical universe.  Stephen Wolfram notes that the physical universe is computationally irreducible – there is no prediction algorithm that can run faster than the universe itself.  The only way you can know what will happen in advance is if you are somehow able to step outside the normal flow of time.  The same is true for that portion of the physical universe which is you.  In other words, there is no way anyone or anything else in the universe can predict your behavior faster than you will actually exhibit that behavior.

We can even do a little bit better than that.  That portion of the physical universe which gives rise to the conscious "you" is also computationally irreducible.  Therefore the future behavior of you as a conscious entity is also fundamentally unknowable.

Put simply, for all practical purposes, your behavior influences the future in ways that are a surprise to everybody.  This is pretty close to the concepts of free will and self-determinism.

Only if we assume the existence of omniscient entities who exist outside of the flow of time can we say that your behavior (and indeed the behavior of the entire universe) is predestined – and only from the perspective of such entities. But in this case, the "pre-" in "predestined" is inappropriate since it implies the ordinary flow of time.  It would be more accurate to say that all states and events in the universe at all times are equally knowable to such entities.

We should keep in mind, however, that just because we can imagine something doesn't mean that it exists.  We have no reason to believe that there are entities which exist outside of or can step outside of the flow of time.  Such super-powers are probably best left to the realm of fairy tales and late-night musings.

Or, I suppose, some religions.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 08:09:57 PM by Zeus »
"There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it." – Emmanuel Radnitzky (Man Ray)

Offline JBS

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #89 on: January 10, 2019, 08:03:52 PM »
You aren't thinking. For a being knowing all things past present and future, the act of creation means creating the whole sequence from beginning to end. An omniscient god knows every choice every sentient being is going to make before it is made. For such a being, creating a person (or setting in motion the universe in which such person will come to be) means creating each and every one of those choices. The destination of every person bound for the lake of fire is known in advance and such a god is morally culpable for every word and action of his creations. No free will. Coercion has nothing to do with it.

Your only dodge in this case is to postulate that God suspended omniscience before and during creation, not omnipotence. All this dodge would accomplish, however, is to make God guilty of negligent genocide (among a list of every other crime ever perpetrated) rather than willful genocide.

You are confusing yourself regarding omniscience.  Your basic premise is wrong. To know a thing is not to will it. Also, God is outside time, so It knoes nothing in advance. The past present and future is all concurrent in Its knowing.

Be it noted that I am Jewish. We don't believe in eternal damnation. A person who sins badly enough will cease to exist  because they cut themselves off from God. Think of an oil lamp being constantly supplied with fuel. Cut off the fuel, and the light eventually flickers out. God is the fuel, sin is the cutting off of the fuel. But there is no Hell (more precisely,
 there is a state of being called Gehenna in the afterlife but it performs the role Purgatory has in Christianity.) So the other part of your comment may be relevant to Christians but not to me.

Offline Christo

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #90 on: January 11, 2019, 03:08:25 AM »
You are confusing yourself regarding omniscience.  Your basic premise is wrong. To know a thing is not to will it. Also, God is outside time, so It knoes nothing in advance. The past present and future is all concurrent in Its knowing.

Perfect summary of the Christian position as well. Including the 'cutting away from the source' part, which also perfectly summarizes the dominant Christian tradition, AFAIK.
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Zeus

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #91 on: January 11, 2019, 04:25:29 AM »
only dodge in this case is to postulate that God suspended omniscience before and during creation, not omnipotence. All this dodge would accomplish, however, is to make God guilty of negligent genocide (among a list of every other crime ever perpetrated) rather than willful genocide. 

This is a clever and witty attack against the Christian doctrine of an omniscient, omnipotent, and benign creator.  It suggests that a creator can have any two of these three attributes, but not all three.

Basil's claim is that if God knows a bunch of murders will occur in a particular universe, then goes ahead and creates that universe, then he is very much responsible for those murders.  Indirectly, he committed those murders.  This is sound reasoning, and justifies the claim of "willful genocide".  If, however, he somehow temporarily turns off that omniscience and creates the universe anyway without checking for future murders, then arguably it would be "negligible homicide".

Now maybe God has a very good legal team, but if you or I did something like that, and if anyone cared about the souls we created, we should expect to be found guilty of one or the other of those charges.

Someone call up the Society for Prevention of Cruelty To Mortals !!   :P

You are confusing yourself regarding omniscience.  Your basic premise is wrong. To know a thing is not to will it. Also, God is outside time, so It knoes nothing in advance. The past present and future is all concurrent in Its knowing.

I don't think JBS's counter-argument holds up.  "To know a thing is not to will it" is not a valid defense for an omniscient Creator about to create a particular universe.  By definition he is the willer-in-chief.  The bit about God being outside time just reinforces God's guilt.

This little discussion shows how quickly one can get tangled up in logical pretzels when trying to take these creation myths seriously.

Better to stick with the facts as we know them.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2019, 12:44:33 PM by Zeus »
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Offline BasilValentine

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #92 on: January 11, 2019, 05:47:15 AM »
You are confusing yourself regarding omniscience.  Your basic premise is wrong. To know a thing is not to will it. Also, God is outside time, so It knows nothing in advance. The past present and future is all concurrent in Its knowing.

The blatant contradiction is right there in your statement: To a being outside of time there is no "in advance." Everything is known forever. To hold concurrently the knowledge of every action ever to be performed by every entity one chooses to create is to will every one of those actions. To the omniscient and omnipotent god proposed by most Christian sects, there is no distinction between what is known and what is willed. Every human who ends up in the lake of fire of Christian theology was necessarily seen by such a being as a soul in eternal suffering in the act of creating it. The god of the Christians is about the most horrible and sadistic monster that can be imagined.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2019, 05:57:08 AM by BasilValentine »

Offline 2dogs

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #93 on: January 11, 2019, 08:27:40 AM »
I have no hope of successfully untangling the arguments build up by very clever philosophical and religious thinkers over the millennia so feel my only chance of understanding is to focus on what I can be convinced of is true i.e. the story of the evolution of the universe and life told by the physical sciences. The references to Buddhist Dependent Origination though are making me think again about those concepts in Buddhism that also appear to be scientifically true and useful in terms of seeing through deluded thought patterns that bring about unhappiness. I went to a Tibetan Buddhist group for several years and the scientific parts were most enlightening but the unverifiable religious concepts put me off in the end, especially as I found one had to accept a lot of that stuff before "progressing" in the group.

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #94 on: January 11, 2019, 10:48:37 AM »
Thank you.
 

(1) In other words, you won't dispute that the Christian religion is noble. Thanks again.

(2) You might be familiar enough with the (Roman) Catholic Church  --- but are you as familiar with the (Eastern) Orthodox Church(es)?

With all due respect, sir, your country's history, while certainly interesting and instructive (as is the history of any given country) is hardly a universal yardstick. Are you even remotely familiar with the School of Salamanca (yes, that's exactly what I mean, a city in that evil, dark, Inqusition-led country of Spain  ;D )?

It does matter a whole lot than you might think; no church authority is greater than Jesus Christ's, a thing that St. Paul taught in no uncertain terms:

Galatians 1:8  (New International Version)

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God's curse!

Once again, this is an argument against (fallen) human nature, not against Christianity. (I would argue that humankind not being able to live up to Christian moral and ethical standards is proof enough that they are not of human origin and making, but that's another discussion altogether).

And once again, once again: are you that familiar with the Eastern Orthodox Church(es)? (please, note the plural) as to being able to cite (1) one single case of a heretic having been burned at stake by all of them, or (2) one single bloody war started by all of them for religious reasons?

Once again, you cherrypick, and equate, some of the most controversial Roman Catholic Church's official policies with Christianity --- which is wrong.

I, for one (and I call to witness every other Orthodox Christians here on GMG, for that matter), do not acknowledge the Pope as having any special, particular and absolute authority over the Christendom (much less given to him by Jesus Christ himself) --- he's just the Bishop of Rome, and any decree of his which is not officially backed up by the Bishops of Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch all gathered in an ecumenical council is just a particular opinion with no more weight than mine or yours.

Once again: which "Christian churches" are you talking about? If I said "genocide and crimes against humanity might not be implied by atheism, but they are part of the history of atheist regimes", you'd rightly asked me "which ones?"

It would take more time than it is worth to list all of the ways you have misunderstood or misrepresented my views, perhaps I didn't express them very well.

My point, to the extent that I have one, is that the idea that religion provides an absolute moral law which is absent in secular morality is specious. My examples are mean't to show that despite the absolute morality of Christianity, the people who were appointed to interpret and implement the absolute Christian moral law found in it justification for the most horrible abuses of their time. The practical moral code that was produced by those appointed to interpret scripture was no less "relative" than any secular moral code, and had the added feature that it could be put forward as the will of god. The basis for secular morality is biology and pragmatism. Does it reinforce the best that our instincts contain, and does it lead to a prosperous society with widely distributed opportunity?

'Christianity' is a manifestation of the 5,000 year old tradition of Pagan Mysticism. When it became a "Church," at the hands of Constantine it was transformed into a system of government. I find the former beautiful and noble, not so much the latter. As far as your conclusion that the Orthodox Church shouldn't be painted with the same brush as the Catholic church, I would note that the U.S. owes its substantial Jewish population mainly to the pogroms that were perpetrated by adherents of the Orthodox church throughout Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century.

« Last Edit: January 11, 2019, 12:54:43 PM by Ghost of Baron Scarpia »

Offline Zeus

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #95 on: January 11, 2019, 12:49:27 PM »
^^ I think Florestan has retired from this thread, or at least is trying to retire from it.  Let sleeping dogs lie !!  Maybe someone else will respond on his behalf.   8)
 
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Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #96 on: January 11, 2019, 12:55:43 PM »
^^ I think Florestan has retired from this thread, or at least is trying to retire from it.  Let sleeping dogs lie !!  Maybe someone else will respond on his behalf.   8)

His reply deserved a response, whether or not he cares to participate further. My purpose was to clarify.

Offline Zeus

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #97 on: January 11, 2019, 01:09:47 PM »
Well I for one enjoyed reading it!
"There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it." – Emmanuel Radnitzky (Man Ray)

Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #98 on: January 11, 2019, 01:35:12 PM »
Well I for one enjoyed reading it!

Good to know. Most things I post here are met with stony silence, and it is nice to know that there is a possibility that someone is silently appreciating.  :)
« Last Edit: January 11, 2019, 01:39:02 PM by Ghost of Baron Scarpia »

Offline Christo

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Re: Atheology
« Reply #99 on: January 12, 2019, 12:43:42 AM »
The god of the Christians is about the most horrible and sadistic monster that can be imagined
   ...according to your blatant distortion of what JBS correctly presented as the idea of 'God' in Jewish - and also Christian - tradition. Willingly misrepresent, time and again in your case, what others politely bring in and argue in a debate is something, errr (bad).  :P

It's also problematic for two other reasons. By ascribing opposite qualities (sadism) to what Auden recognised as 'universal love', you seem to be merely illustrating the 'cutting yourself off from the source' option JBS describes. The question also remains, WHY one would call 'evil' what was presented as the ultimate love and goodness. Isn't it just like in social life - like people hating jews or muslims because of absurd accusations - almost always a matter of projection? About whom does your fantasy of a 'sadistic, monstrous God' tell us more?
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

 

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