Saturday, December 08, 2007

"Compass" Quote for the Day

In the end, if a fairy tale doesn’t bring joy and hope, it isn’t much of a fantasy. With no God, no good, no eternal life, there is no living happily ever after in the world of “The Golden Compass.”

Pullman only seeks to give us hell, and seems pleased to bring it, making concrete the old cliche that misery truly loves company.
--from The Golden Compass: How can it look so good and be so wrong? by Msgr. Eric Barr

~

14 comments:

David B. Ellis said...


Pullman only seeks to give us hell, and seems pleased to bring it, making concrete the old cliche that misery truly loves company.


It is christians, not atheists, which posit an eternal hell where the vast majority of humanity will be tortured for eternity.

Hardly a happy ending....nor much cause for joy.

Mirtika said...

Ah, but Christians post a Heaven open to anyone who desires and seeks it. :) And the hope of it makes for great hope in the finite days and weeks and years of life, adding beauty and meaning to the harsher moments.

Atheists can't offer any similar such thing.

David B. Ellis said...

Do you really think offering eternal life to any who convert to your faith makes it any less monstrous that you are willing to torture for eternity anyone who doesn't?

I am reminded of the story arc in Stargate SG1 where the Ori made a similar offer....and see little reason to see your own religion as any less villianous in this respect.

Convert or Burn?

Hope and joy indeed.

And then, there is also the fact that there is no evidence the heaven your religion offers is any less a falsehood than the one the Ori offered turned out to be.

Anyone can make a grandiose claim of enormous rewards....but what good is that if not backed up with hard evidence that the claim is true?

It is true that a naturalistic worldview doesn't offer the, probably false, hope of a heaven.

But when did any ideas being unpleasant make it any less likely to be true? And when did it become a virtue to be unable to face hard truths and thrive despite them?

Mirtika said...

Except that if as you believe there is no hell, there is nothing to fear. So, it's a non-issue.

Hell is only fearsome if it is 1. believed and 2. a reality. But if it is believed, then there is motivation to seek out the way to avoid it. So, for anyone who fears it, there is no need to fear. And for anyone who doesn't believe in it, there is no reason to fear.

But if all there is is THIS, then I think, there is much to regret, given the state of teh world.

If hell is true, I do not fear it personally, and I have hope that lifts every day to a higher plane. Win/win.

I believe hell is a truth, so I face it. If all there is is the material, then one takes what sweetness one may, but it's a very short and rather useless span.

Mir

Mirtika said...

BTW, there is proof enough for some in testimony and for others (myself included) in experience. That's not something that can be studied in a lab, I suppose, but for those who had immediate and stunning answers to prayer, or who have had visitations, you might call it madness or blips in the brain, for for me, and for them, it is validation.

And so, we choose what it is that we believe according to what has been sufficiently proven to ourselves, and then we take the consequences. And that's fine. But as much as you think belief is silly, I think unbelief is deathly and dreary. So we each follow our path. We won't know what is beyond death until we get there, not with 100% certainty. If I meet you on the other side, we'll chat. :D If not, this is all moot, and I am grateful for the great moments of joy that belief and the ethics taht follow it have given me.

Mir

David B. Ellis said...


Except that if as you believe there is no hell, there is nothing to fear. So, it's a non-issue.


I don't fear hell and more than I fear being attacked by werewolves.

I simply find the views of people like yourself, who are willing to assent to the torture of another living being for eternity for the "sin" of not sharing your religious beliefs, monstrous.


BTW, there is proof enough for some in testimony and for others (myself included) in experience.


Then I would suggest that your standard of evidence is a bit low.

Moreover, if you actually applied such a standard of evidence consistently you would have to say EVERY religion is true since any of them can and do pass it. People have religious experiences in every faith. Since all cannot be true some must be delusional.

What criteria do you propose, other than simply rejecting those which are different from yours, to distinguish a veritical religious experience from a delusional one?

And if you can propose none, then what reasonable basis do you have for believing on the basis of religious experience?


But as much as you think belief is silly, I think unbelief is deathly and dreary.


I, however, who have experienced both religious belief and nonbelief, know my life experience as an nonbeliever in the supernatural to be anything but dreary. My sense of wonder and joy in life is not diminished one iota by its brevity.


If I meet you on the other side, we'll chat. :D If not, this is all moot, and I am grateful for the great moments of joy that belief and the ethics taht follow it have given me.


When the ethics that follow from your beliefs include the idea that anyone who doesn't share those those beliefs ought to be tortured for eternity then those values don't amount to much.

Mirtika said...

The arguments and evidences are out there for any who want them. Read the Christian apologists, scholars, and philosophers. They are a set of books away.

The combination of historical, archeological, witness and personal experience are a force that work for me. I converted because it seemed reasonable, not because I felt, oh, let me do this today, I have nothing better to do.

I am not here in a comments section or blog purposing to offer the various apologetical strands for the Christian faith. It's out there for seekers. If you are not seeking, then its of no use to you. If you are, track it down. Many blogs have that as their core driving purpose, this one does not. There are plenty of intellectuals and philosophers on the Christian side of things happy to debate the matter.

I, however, merely offer that I do believe that having no purpose in a brief, often sorrowful and painful life--given the losses that come with being human, the illness, the agony of aging, the impoverishments taht some of us encounter, etc--it is a greater experience to believe in the transcendent, to experience the Voice of God, to tie one's soul to the eternal truth, than to merely be one animal amongst many in an uncaring cosmos of whom human are only a burp.

I believe Christ rose from the dead, and I shall, too. And whatever hell is (I believe the flames to be metaphoric), God knows, and being just, hell will be just. I leave that part to Him, since I am hardly wise enough to judge the fate of mankind.

I can only say, "Here is what I believe. Seek and maybe you will find this, too."

But whichever rough reality is true--hell created by a Holy God for his own just purposes or a Godless cosmos where life can be mighty brutish and short and devoid of vision--they cannot both be true. And time wil, indeed, tell.

Mir

David B. Ellis said...


The arguments and evidences are out there for any who want them. Read the Christian apologists, scholars, and philosophers. They are a set of books away.


I have.....and found them utterly unconvincing (even in the days when I was a believer in christianity and the Bible and had a strong bias in favor of them).

The flaws in reasoning were so obvious that, in the days when I first began critically examining my religious beliefs, they did more to push me toward skepticism than anything an atheist might have to say on the topic.


I, however, merely offer that I do believe that having no purpose in a brief, often sorrowful and painful life.....it is a greater experience to believe in the transcendent


Just because life is brief and often sorrowful doesn't make it purposeless. There are wonders and beauty and noble aspirations to be pursued whether there exists anything "beyond" the natural world.

So sad that you can't see that.


I am not here in a comments section or blog purposing to offer the various apologetical strands for the Christian faith.


Then I will trouble you no further on the topic if you are unwilling to engage in a discussion on the basis (or lack thereof) for belief in the claims of religion, christian or otherwise.

CaroleMcDonnell said...

I think the thing we must remember is often the thing that turns people against -- really, passionately against-- a religion is some personal experience with adherents of that faith.

A person who is scientific may become only a neutral atheist...someone who doesn't get too worked up about a "believer" next door. But when someone is as angry as Pullman, there's something else going on.

Pullman has repeatedly stated that he tried to give Christianity a chance but the people turned him off. Of course many people have had to deal with horrible Christians, but either they survived or they gave up their faith quietly. Pullman goes down swinging. But the problem is he is protesting the religion and not the people who turned him off the religion.

Think of the people who have hated their religions:

Karl Marx (gave up on God because his supposedly religious father did something irreligious)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali (gave up on God because the Muslim Men treated her shabbily.)
Madelyn Murray O'Hair, daughter of a Baptist minister (who gave up on religion because of what she saw in the Christian church).

The thing we Christians have to do is to learn how to deal with these lost hurt wounded sheep. And perhaps we have to stop thinking that the reason people dislike God (or a religion) has anything to do with God. Sometimes it has to do with people. And with very bad hypocritical judgmental rigid people. -C

CaroleMcDonnell said...

David:
As a methodist minister's grand-
daughter, I just want to make a clarification here:

Christianity doesn't condemn anyone to hell. It specifically says that we are all somewhat dead already, that the reason we cannot see God is because the part of us that connects to God is dead in its ability to perceive spiritual things or to do good things. Christ comes to make alive, to recreate the dead spirit in man.

There is much that ALL religions agree with.

Most religions agree that there is something seriously wrong with the
world. Most have some kind of theory of a "fall." And even those
that don't have a theory of a fall do agree that somehow -- FOR SOME
REASON-- there is something that separates universal perfect spirit
from the frail imperfect human spirit.

Christianity and atheism and most religions agree on one thing: that it is difficult to see God. But the divergence comes when we ponder the reason for this inability to see God. Christians say we can't see God because our sins and human way of seeing have made us unable to see him. Atheists contend that we don't see him because there is nothing to see.

Some religions believe that adhereing to a system of laws supposedly will help us to become perfect, to know wisdom, to attain godhood...to see God.

All Christianity says is that NO laws can make anyone perfect, no
learned wisdom can make anyone knowledgeable enough to know God, no spiritual practice can make any attain to godhood because God is so
holy and THE only way anyone can reach God is for God to simply
forgive the person and God himself to take on that person's sin
because in God's eyes even a person who is a combination of Mother
Theresa/Martin Luther King/Buddha is not even 0.0001% good or
spiritual aware because God is so far above.

I'm a fundamentalist and that's what I believe. I don't blame others for anything. Nor do I push people out of heaven. As a Christian I believe that the default is that we are all born dead.

As for doctrines, Christian doctrines are doctrines of power. That is to say: each doctrine tells of a way in which we humans can affect the spirit realm. The Eucharist/Communion is a doctrine that deals with the power of the bread and wine (and faith) to bring spiritual and physical and emotional healing. The doctrine of the gospel of the sacrificial blood Jesus is a doctrine that if believed in has the power to change my spirit, my immortal soul, and my body. And a couple of demons.

The Christian doctrine is a doctrine of power. Islam, Karma, and Buddhism are doctrines that deal with spiritual submission or
surrender to evil because evil is supposedly God-willed, or part of a
past life sin or only affects us because we have desires. Christian
doctrine says evil in self, in the demonic world, and in nations cam
be destroyed.

As for the fundamentalists, they can be annoying true. And they might be annoying and rigid as heck but they don't go about beheading people who don't trust in their faith. Nor is it written in the New Testament --
as it is written in Islam-- that people should be killed for the
faith.

As for other religions, a certain person here -- who will not be
named but who knows who he is-- doesn't know enough about history to know that atheism, pantheism, pan-entheism, animism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism all have had their share of cruelty against people.
-C

David B. Ellis said...


I think the thing we must remember is often the thing that turns people against -- really, passionately against-- a religion is some personal experience with adherents of that faith.....But when someone is as angry as Pullman, there's something else going on.



One does not have to have bad personal experiences with a religion or ideology to be highly critical of it.

I, for example, have had no personal experiences with a scientologist. I am highly critical of that religion because I find its tenets absurd and think it created for the sole purpose of bilking fools of their money.


David:
As a methodist minister's grand-
daughter, I just want to make a clarification here:

Christianity doesn't condemn anyone to hell.


Do you, or do you not, believe in an afterlife of eternal pain for the unsaved?

If no, my criticisms on that topic do not apply to you (I'm aware not all variants of christianity include the cruel doctrine of hell and that not all who do believe in it have as harsh a version of it as most).



Most religions agree that there is something seriously wrong with the
world


Which is simply a commonplace of our experience of life.....that there's much pain and suffering.

Religions seem largely designed as efforts to cope with this fact.


I'm a fundamentalist and that's what I believe. I don't blame others for anything. Nor do I push people out of heaven. As a Christian I believe that the default is that we are all born dead.


You seem to make reference more than once to the unsaved as "dead".

Are you an annihilationist (the unsaved are annihilated at the Judgement rather than condemned to eternal pain)?

So, just what exactly is your view of the nature of Hell (if you believe in Hell at all)?



As for other religions, a certain person here -- who will not be
named but who knows who he is-- doesn't know enough about history to know that atheism, pantheism, pan-entheism, animism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism all have had their share of cruelty against people.


People of ALL belief systems have acted cruelly. That's pretty much inevitable since human beings are imperfect.

But its one thing for human beings to fail to live up to the standards of a compassionate set of values and another to have cruel doctrines established as part of the belief system or set of values itself (like that of Hell in most versions of christianity, or your own example of Islam condoning killing for the faith).

CaroleMcDonnell said...

David:

By "dead" I mean spiritually unable to see God. You can call it something else if you wish. But most religions posit that there is a separation from beauty, truth, perfect love, the otherworldly and that we humans lack "something" and are trying to attain to that "something." Some religions call the state unenlightened and the enlightened state nirvana or Brahman/Atman. It doesn't matter what they call those who are not connected to God or those who are connected to God. Some say unsaved, some say infidels. The thing is that all religions imply there is a kind of non-life, or non-perfect non-whole life that we all should aim for. Except for atheists, of course, who think that although humans are missing something, it has nothing to do with God.

As for universal religious cruelty, there is also universal atheistic cruelty. Human imperfection or uncloseness to God is very much part of our reality On a personal level, I've never been bullied by muslims but I once said something in a review on blogcritics and the Beltway Atheists in Washington created a major bullying campaign against me, sending mean letters to all my publishers and to anyone else they saw on my website. So it's not only religious people who can be cruel. Atheists can be very nasty and if a small posse can be so nasty to me because I said something Christian, one can imagine what religious people in China, Russia, and North Korea have gone through.

Do check out
www.persecution.org
--C

David B. Ellis said...


As for universal religious cruelty, there is also universal atheistic cruelty.....So it's not only religious people who can be cruel.


You comments are completely nonresponsive to the actual content of my post.

You speak as if I made claims that are nothing like anything I said.

Here is what I ACTUALLY said on this topic:


People of ALL belief systems have acted cruelly. That's pretty much inevitable since human beings are imperfect.

But its one thing for human beings to fail to live up to the standards of a compassionate set of values and another to have cruel doctrines established as part of the belief system or set of values itself....



And, again, I would ask that you answer my question concerning whether you believe in Hell. Do you or do you not believe in hell (and by hell I mean an afterlife of eternal conscious pain and suffering for those not of the "correct" faith)? If you don't, then my comments concerning the cruelty of that particular doctrine are not directed at you.

David B. Ellis said...


Atheists can be very nasty and if a small posse can be so nasty to me because I said something Christian, one can imagine what religious people in China, Russia, and North Korea have gone through.

Do check out
www.persecution.org


I'm well aware of communist persecution of the religious. I never claimed only religious people persecute those with different beliefs. For that matter, I didn't say anything about persecution one way or the other.

Again, do you believe in Hell and if so in what form?