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Steve Caldwell
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Jacqueline - I don't know if you've seen this calendar template for a year-at-a-glance calendar: Take care, Steve Caldwell
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Jacqueline - if your local congregation doesn't suit you and there isn't another UU congregation close by, there is always the CLF option (Church of the Larger Fellowship -- UU church by mail and online for isolated UUs). That's one way to keep the "congregational membership" aspect (and your UU World subscription) without joining a local UU congregation that doesn't suit you.
Toggle Commented Mar 2, 2013 on Forcing a Shift in Thinking at Jacqueline Wolven
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Michael wrote: -snip- I am interested in your evidence that contradicts my theory that Earth is a very large life form (without supernatural abilities or a clearly identifiable unified mind)? Michael, I want to borrow a brief explanation from Wikipedia about "burden of proof" as it relates to epistemology (branch of philosophy as it relates to knowledge): This burden of proof is often asymmetrical and typically falls more heavily on the party that makes either an ontologically positive claim, or makes a claim more "extraordinary," that is farther removed from conventionally accepted facts. The person making the ontologically more positive and "extraordinary" claim here isn't Greta. All she has said here is that the evidence supporting a "unified life and conscience" claim is lacking at this time. In this case, the burden of proof here is asymmetric and it's really up to you to prove your "unified life" hypothesis. Even if Greta could not disprove your idea, that doesn't make it true in the empirical and methodological naturalism sense of the word. To suggest otherwise would be an example of the "argument from ignorance" logical fallacy [asserts that a proposition is necessarily true because it has not been proven false (or vice versa)]. Then Michael wrote -snip- Finally, as a Unitarian Universalist, I would most clearly not say that, "all those other religions are crap". Unitarian Universalists have collectively decided to hold a very different view, we believe that there is wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life. As a humanist and atheist Unitarian Universalist, I find that much of the "wisdom" in the world's religions is what they say about the humans who created them. A religion -- like any other collection of stories -- provides us insight to the humans who created the story and to humanity in general through the metaphors. An example of a useful metaphor can be found in the story of Abraham and Issac and how this story can be used to comment on the struggles of BGLT youth looking for parental support. Too many traditionally religious parents are more than willing to be Abraham and sacrifice their children because that's what they think God wants them to do. These parents overlook a central aspect of the story -- someone who is less powerful than God can tell you that you shouldn't sacrifice your child. In the Abraham-Issac story, it was an angel who stopped Abraham before he killed his child. For modern-day BGLT teens who are being offered by their parents as as a sacrifice to God, the metaphorical "angel" that tries to stop the parents from hurting their children just might be the local PFLAG group in the community. Unfortunately, this use of metaphor is necessary because we have a world with good and decent people often find themselves hurting others because they think this is what God or religion demands of them. The use of metaphor may help us reach those who are religious and turn them from more harmful types of religion to less harmful type of religion.
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Michael wrote: -snip- I have my own conception of god, as every Unitarian Universalist is encouraged to do. Michael, Thank you for taking the time to share your ideas with us. I am also a Unitarian Universalist but I will look at the subjects you've raised from a different point of view because I'm an atheist and humanist Unitarian Univeraslist who values human community and the comfort of singing and sharing in groups more than I do concepts like "god," "divine," etc. There are some problems if one decides to re-frame a word so that its definition is unique to just one person. Communication isn't a solitary pastime -- it is a social activity and it requires participation with others. In order for communication to happen, we need to ensure that we hold that some words we use hold a shared meaning with the group that is communicating. Finally, if you get to individually re-define what the word "god" means to you, isn't that freedom to re-define it available to the rest of us. In other words, there is no mandatory requirement that anyone else has to accept your definition of "god." Then Michael wrote: -snip- In my case, I have a belief or theory that god is the collective life on the planet Earth. As an analogy, the men and women and other organisms on the planet are like the bees in a hive. The hive has the capacity to take action. It is the god. It is also, "all-knowing" since god (my god) will know what we know, no more and no less. Our brains are the brain of god just as the trees are the lungs of my god. Although it is not as theoretically powerful as the christian god, it can be proven to exist through objective data. My god is an extreme form of "think globally and act locally". God is the global; we are the local. Now that's an interesting way to view god and it's been around for a while. What you're proposing is a very detailed description of pantheism ["the view that the Universe (Nature) and God are identical"] Most pantheistic religious views are "unfalsifiable" and that makes them useless from the standpoint of those who use philosophical and/or methodological naturalism to explore the world. However, your pantheistic hypothesis differs from the vague versions of pantheism by saying some very concrete things about the world we live in that are testable. If we lived in a world that had a pantheistic hive mind that you've suggested, how would that world look? Would it look like the fictional cinematic world of Pandora in the movie "Avatar"? So far, the most that the sciences and other naturalistic methods can say here is the evidence for some sort of pantheistic hive mind is lacking. We have no evidence that Eywa exists beyond a fictional concept in James Cameron's movie. Remember that Pandora was a counter-factual world where they had concrete empirical evidence of some sort of global intelligence existing (the scientists were able to measure data transmission in the biological network of plants and animals in the movie). In fact, the evidence we do have is consistent with a world of individuals and populations competing with each other for finite resources. In some cases, competition has produced viciousness. In other cases (especially with social animals like canines and primates), competition has produced compassion, cooperation, and altruism. Then Michael wrote: -snip- Now, I don't want to get into a fight with atheists, but my conception of god creates an interesting problem for a person who claims to be an atheist. In my religious views, an atheist would be a person who does not believe in the existence of the planet Earth or the life on it. This is only a problem if we all accept your personal definition of "god." The so-called logical paradox that you're describing isn't a universal paradox but rather one of your own making by proposing a pantheistic definition of god. It would be inconsistent for you to say we're all free to discover our own version of god but folks who are atheists are required to accept your version of god. Then Michael wrote: -snip- As a result of these beliefs, I think I have a religion that is based in religious thought and based in scientific thought. It is not based on supernatural beliefs. I don't want to be rude here but this question needs to be asked. How would you distinguish your pantheistic hive-mind hypothesis from the non-pantheistic naturalistic view that the world we live in with both competition and cooperation comes from a mindless Darwinian process? Then Michael wrote: -snip- I don't believe that religion and science need to be in opposition. In fact, both disciplines are enhanced by the other. My church and the religion associated with it have many atheists and scientists who attend. It is also fairly old, and several US Presidents have been Unitarians. Unitarian Universalism does have historic roots in the Protestant Reformation but it's changed theologically over the years. Originally, it was much more "Christian." In the 20th Century, Unitarian Universalism became more humanist -- all three Humanist Manifestos were endorsed by Unitarian Universalist ministers. All three manifestos promote a naturalistic worldview ("Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis" is the quote from the third manifesto). And today Unitarian Universalism is moving towards a more "spiritual" and away from humanist empiricism. This recent trend and what it means for the future survival and vitality of Unitarian Universalism is hotly contested topic within Unitarian Universalism.
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Demonhype wrote: "And I may be mistaken, but wasn't the Reformation kind of motivated by the Church losing members to the Protestant sects (which had at that point gained enough members/power/royal supporters that the Church could no longer just Smash with Hammer to stop it anymore?) No one has ever really reformed the CC from within--the only thing that has ever motivated any kind of reform attempt was the loss of membership!" That was certainly Martin Luther's experience - he tried reform from within (having been ordained as a Roman Catholic monk and also a university professor of theology). But Luther was forced to leave the church as a result of his views. What happened next was a confluence of religious trends, cultural trends, and technology trends. Religiously, there were concerns over Catholic doctrines and abuses of power like the selling of indulgences. Culturally, the rise of nationalism in Europe led to organizations that could be effective rivals to the Catholic Church. From a technology point of view, the invention of movable type in 15th century was analogous to the role that the Internet plays today. The printing press allowed everybody to read the Bible and develop their own opinions about religion. Prior to the printing press, books were both rare and expensive. Eventually, the Bible was translated into everyday languages like German and English which allowed even more opportunities for individuals to discern their own opinions about religion. And Martin Luther's 95 Theses were posted on a church door in a University town (their version of Facebook). Luther's hand-written version was taken down and reproduced by printing press which resulted in it "going viral." And that led to the previous unified Western European Christianity fracturing into hundreds of smaller groups that we call "Protestant" today.
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May 26, 2010