Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Discussions pertaining to scripture and theology from a philosophical approach.

Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Mon Apr 04, 2016 5:41 pm

Hello everyone.

I haven't posted here for some time.

2015 wasn't a good year for me or dad.

I spent June and July on my back in the hospital, with double pnuemonia and a perforated bowel.

I spent August and September in rehab getting off a trach collar and learning how to walk again.

I went back to the hospital to get a colostemy reversed and have a feeding tube removed on November 17, was there for a few days, and spent the rest of November in rehab again.

Though a respite worker stayed with dad for four days, and I'm sure she was telling him I was alive, he couldn't talk to me, and started spitting out his pills and refusing to eat.

She and a visiting nurse tried to get dad in the VA (where a social worker had once told me he'd have a bed within 24 hours if anything happened to me), but had to send him to Hartford Memorial Hospital for 72 hour observation first.

After that they found him a bed at the VA.

They thought he was dying, and he probably spent most of June and July thinking I was dead, but as soon as I was able to speak and started making phone calls he rallied back to health.

Not having a service related condition, and not being career military, he couldn't stay at the VA, but they extended his respite hours until I could have my colostemy reversed, and he was discharged back into my care on December 15--but now he's in the hospital fighting for his life.

Prayers would be appreciated.

His name is Edmund Burke.

I'm his only child, and aside from a half brother I've never been really close to (because his grandmother insisted on raising him when mom and dad were starting out together), he's the only family I have left here on earth.

Now I'd like to ask a philosophical question to theists and non-theists alike.

And I'm not trying to argue with anyone, I'm just trying to think this through, and I would appreciate some help thinking it through logically.

I believe it's really one question, but would take different forms for a theist and a non-theist--and I never really thought about it until someone here suggested that it was a catagory error to say that any state of existence was any better or worse than non-existence.

Since that was first said to me I've thought about it a lot, and I find it very troubling.

If that's true, and if there's no afterlife, it means I made a catagory error when my mother was dying, and I let the ICU doctors talk me into signing a DNR.

They told me that CPR would break her ribs, and she'd dye suffering, and the implication was that she'd be better off out of pain--but if death equals non-existence (and I got the distinct feeling that's what these doctors believed), and no state of existence is any better or worse than non-existence, living in pain is no worse than non-existence.

That just doesn't seem right somehow, does it?

And what about having to take pills to go on living?

I had to see a cardiologist before I could have that colostomey reversed back in November, and ever since he sent me for the nuclear stress test and the echocardiogram I had to take before he could clear me for surgery, I've been taking pills to keep my heart beating normally, and to keep my blood pressure down.

It requires the daily, positive action of taking those pills for me to go on living.

It would take no effort at all for me to stop taking them.

So the question for non-theists (who don't believe in any kind of conscious existence after death) is whether there's any logic in choosing to go on living when it requires more effort "to be," than it would "not to be"?

If it's really a catagory error to say that any state of existence is better than non-existence, the answer would seem to be "no," but is that true?

Is it a catagory error to say that a life of pleasure is better than no life at all?

And what about a life of pain?

Is it a catagory error to say that conscious suffering is worse than non-existence?

And the question to Theists is similar.

Is it a catagory error to say that a life of bliss in heaven is better than non-existence, or that conscious torment in hell (unless it were remedial, and led to a better existence in heaven) would be worse than non-existence?

Does God, in His Omnescience, know that some states of existence are better than non-existence, and others are worse than non-existence (or is this some kind of fallacy)?

Is His creation truly an act of love?

Does He know that by bringing us into existence, He gave us something of potential value, or is thinking that way an error in logic?

Is it foolish to be thankful to your Creator for creating you?

God forgive me for asking such questions, but ever since someone here made some comments I still think of in my darker moments, I ask them of myself, and it sometimes makes it difficult for me to pray when I really need to pray.

Please help me think this through logically.

Thank you.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:06 am

"There are things that happen in life that we can't control. But we can control the way we respond to them."- Mark Ford


Actually, I had to make a similar decision with my mom, a lifelong Protestant Christian.. She had acute stomach bleeding and cardiac arrest - at 92.5 years old. She was taken to a hospital and was in a coma, for a week. Afterwards, the doctors were pressing me to take her off life support. I took the following steps.

    I consulted with Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant clergy - for theological recommendations. The consensus was it was OK - if medicine could no longer help and the person wasn't getting better.
    I sought a vision regarding her wishes, in a Native American sweat lodge. She communicated she wished to make her transition.
    I had a meeting with the hospital chief doctor, nurse, Chaplin, and a couple family members. We briefly discussed the medical tests done, the physician recommendation, along with bio-ethical considerations.

Based upon all input, I made the decision to take her off life support. The key is to get the right advice - from the right people - then make a decision. I'll leave you and others to ponder, theological and philosophical answers - to your various questions. Except to say (like I have), see what the various Christian theologians, philosophers and different religions - have to say on your questions. Then make up your own mind.

Sometimes I'm pragmatic. I would look theologically at what Christian theologians say, both contemporary and historical. But I would practice detachment - via Buddhist Zen and Mindfulness traditions. Take medicine, for example. I might buy the western herbs Hawthorne extract and Eye Bright - to strengthen the heart and eyes, respectively. I believe in using what works - holistically - regardless of origin. So I might use homeopathic medicines, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Ayurveda, western herbs, over the counter or prescription medicines. I'm not bias to the source. Or I might incorporate what spiritual healing traditions - like what the Native Healing or Bruno Groening Circle of Friends, have to offer.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Tue Apr 05, 2016 12:41 pm

Thank you.

I've had dad anointed and prayed for by an Anglican Priest (Anglican Province of America), a Roman Catholic Priest, and a Protestant minister who believes in UR (an Elder of the Global Missions Church a poster here belongs to), and the critical care team says he's getting better.

His sodium level is right where they want it now (they're lowering it slowly), his kidney function is up, and they seem to have him on the right antibiotics for the pnuemonia.

I would still ask those of you who believe in prayer to pray for him, and I'd like to share something that happened to me this morning.

I've asked God to somehow let me know that He knows there are states of existence that are better than non-existence, that the effort life requires really is worth it, and that His creation really is a gift.

I've asked Him to give me some kind of a sign, and this morning my eyes fell on a few words of a very long poem hanging in a sign on the wall here in the hospital--so long I still haven't read the whole thing--and the words were "life is a gift."

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Pax Et Bonum.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby JasonPratt » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:38 am

Thanks for the update, Michael. I'm sorry to hear that things are still going badly, but I'm glad to hear of some improvements.


What I actually said, although you continued (and still continue) to shift it to something else, is that it's a category error to consider non-existence to be an improvement of condition for someone who exists: someone cannot be better off, or worse off either, if they cease to exist, because if they cease to exist they would have no continuation of existence to compare with any condition of existence before they ceased existing. They aren't better off, they aren't worse off, they aren't the same off, they don't exist at all. Nor, by the same principle, can someone's existence be improved, or degraded, by coming into existence from non-existence: they didn't exist previously to have a condition of existence that can be improved or degraded by coming into existence.

I actually affirmed on a regular basis that existence is principally better than non-existence. I only denied that the condition of someone in existence can be better or worse off compared to the condition of someone who doesn't exist, because someone who doesn't exist doesn't even have the condition of being "someone" or any other condition of existence, much less consciousness of a comparative improvement or degradation of (the non-existent person's) existence.

I also affirmed that existent Person A's condition of existence might be improved or degraded by Person B coming into existence or ceasing to exist. But that still isn't an improvement or degradation of Person B's condition of existence by coming or ceasing to exist.

That is why arguments for annihilation which involve annihilation being a mercy for the annihilated, are fallacious: annihilation of Person A might be a mercy for Person B, but it cannot be a mercy for Person A because Person A's condition of existence cannot be improved by ceasing to exist. By the same principle, nor should someone seek suicide hoping to cease to exist as a way of improving the condition of their existence.


Consequently, if your Mom ceased to exist, then her condition of existence did not improve upon ceasing to exist. Nor does she now exist in a worse condition. Or in the same condition. Or in any condition at all that can be compared to her condition before ceasing to exist. You didn't do her any favor, because you didn't improve her condition of existence if she ceased to exist. But neither did you do her a disfavor if she ceased to exist afterward.

If she continues to exist, you might have improved her condition and done her a favor. Or perhaps you made her condition actually worse. But mercy killing is predicated on either the idea that the killing improves the condition of still-existent people (being a mercy on them), and/or that the killed person continues to exist (or perhaps starts to exist again) after death in an improved condition compared to the condition before death.


Is it a catagory error to say that a life of bliss in heaven is better than non-existence, or that conscious torment in hell (unless it were remedial, and led to a better existence in heaven) would be worse than non-existence?


It is a category error to say that Person X's condition of existence is better in heaven than the condition of X's non-existent existence. It is a category error to say that X's condition of existence in eternal conscious torment is worse than the condition of X's non-existent existence. Person X does not improve their condition of existence by ceasing to exist. They improve their condition of existence by going to heaven, and degrade their condition of existence by going to hell. It is not a mercy to someone in hell to annihilate them. Improving their condition of existence (by saving them from hell into heaven for example) is a mercy, not eliminating all conditions of their existence.

It is not (necessarily) a category error to say that X's existence is better than X's non-existence for various other reasons. But it is, for comparing the existential experience of X between any conditions of a state of existence and the non-experience of non-conditions of non-existence of X.

Does God, in His Omnescience, know that some states of existence are better than non-existence, and others are worse than non-existence (or is this some kind of fallacy)?


It's a fallacy, in the very limited but important sense so noted. God knows perfectly well that Person X's condition of existence does not improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist from existence. You do, too, occasionally, when I spell it out once again! -- but you have always gone back quickly afterward to trying to insist that if someone cannot improve their existence by ceasing to exist (and related positions) then that must mean existence is worthless or at best worth no more than non-existence. I doubt this time will be any different, although I wish for your sake it would be.

Is His creation truly an act of love?


Yes, but not by being an act of improving the non-existent condition of existence of something that doesn't yet exist. Because that's nonsense and impossible. God creates not-God reality as a loving gift of God by God to God; and creates not-God reality in order to actively love that not-God reality, which He then does in various modes, even when the condition of that creature's existence degrades temporarily as a result of various factors.

Does He know that by bringing us into existence, He gave us something of potential value, or is thinking that way an error in logic?


By bringing anything into existence, God gives that creation actual (not merely potential) value. (And also potential value, at least from the perspective of the history of the creature. I'm not sure potential value has any meaning from God's omnipresently real perspective, except perhaps as an ultimately unrealized option for the creature's existence actualized in another way of value instead.)

What He gives us creatures in actual value, is not however an improvement of our condition of existence compared to our prior non-condition of non-existence. Existence itself is the first actual value for us. Once we exist, then our conditions of existence can improve or degrade in various ways. If we ever cease to exist, our condition of existence cannot improve, or degrade, or even stay the same -- because we wouldn't exist anymore at all. Ceasing to exist would be a reduction of value, but not for us personally after we cease to exist. It would be a reduction of value for those who remain in existence (i.e. God and still-existent creatures).

Is it foolish to be thankful to your Creator for creating you?


Only if you're thanking God for improving your previously non-existent non-condition-of-existence by bringing you into existence. I don't doubt God accepts the intention of the gratitude anyway, despite the confusion of thought involved. It is otherwise right and morally proper to be thankful to your Creator for creating you.

Whether you should be thankful to God for any and all particular conditions of existence you might be in, is another question. Generally Christians (and many other theists) have understood that ideally we should be thankful to God for any condition we find ourselves in (some things from Paul's epistles come to mind), but that doesn't mean it's at all easy to do so, and it can be functionally impossible for someone in particular conditions. (To give simple and non-contentious example, someone unconscious cannot while unconscious be thankful to God for any conditions of that person, including being thankful for that person's unconsciousness.)


Now, the other ad/mods have asked me to stop trying to help you, even though we all want you to be helped. And I think they're right to do so, under the circumstances. So I'm not going to continue with this, here or elsewhere. If you and other people want to talk about it, fine. If you want to complain that non-existent people don't have conditions of existence that can be improved or degraded or qualitatively judged to be better or worse than other conditions of actual existence, that's your choice. If you want to keep pretending I'm saying something else because that somehow makes you feel better to blame me for something I have never once claimed or argued, I can't stop you. (Or I suppose I could, technically, but I won't.)

But I do want new members who aren't familiar with the situation, or old members who have forgotten, to be reassured that "someone here" has not in fact argued that existence is no better and no worse than non-existence, and certainly didn't try to convince you of that -- much the contrary. (Or maybe someone else did, but I didn't, and I've never seen you trying to blame anyone else for your existential angst.) Existence has value, and life has value, even in the worst conditions. Ceasing to exist doesn't improve any condition of one's own existence. One's life conditions ought to be improved, but not by suicide: we're expected to help each other, and to fight for improving ourselves and each other, in this life, as a cooperation of fair-togetherness (righteousness, justice) between people. For the same reason, people shouldn't try to punish themselves by suiciding. The people who have been helping you and your family (including you in helping your family) are doing the right thing, because you and your family have value, because existence has value and life has value and personal reality has value -- thanks to God. Non-existence has no value, so it is better for you and your family to exist than to not exist; consequently, it is also better (generally speaking) for your conditions of existence to improve. It is not always ethically better for your conditions of existence to improve by any or all means, which is one reason why there can be ethical quandries about how best to proceed, and people can make mistaken or even ethically unjust choices about how to improve their or other people's conditions.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Thu Apr 07, 2016 7:45 am

Thanks for the update, Michael. I'm sorry to hear that things are still going badly, but I'm glad to hear of some improvements.

Thank you Jason.
What I actually said, although you continued (and still continue) to shift it to something else

I don't see how I ever shifted to anything else.
...but you have always gone back quickly afterward to trying to insist that if someone cannot improve their existence by ceasing to exist (and related positions) then that must mean existence is worthless or at best worth no more than non-existence.

And you have always gone back quickly afterward to defend something you wrote in a book you recommended to me (an argument you used against annihilationists, in that book you wrote before we ever discussed this issue.)

I believe it's a flawed argument, and actually undercuts one of the main arguments against eternal conscious torment.

And when I brought the subject up, I wasn't speaking or thinking of someone attempting to improve their existence by ceasing to exist.

You read that into the question, assumed I was suicidal, and attempted to dissuade me from suicide by convincing me that no state of existence is any better than non-existence--and that still seems to be what you're saying.
Consequently, if your Mom ceased to exist, then her condition of existence did not improve upon ceasing to exist. Nor does she now exist in a worse condition. Or in the same condition. Or in any condition at all that can be compared to her condition before ceasing to exist. You didn't do her any favor, because you didn't improve her condition of existence if she ceased to exist.

So you're saying that all health care providers who don't believe in some kind of afterlife are giving family members a load of BS when they say their loved one's "quality of life" should be factored into their decisions?

By your reasoning, wouldn't "quality of life" be meaningless in deciding whether to prolong a suffering patient's existence, as it would be a fallacy to consider their continued existence (in a state of suffering) any worse than non-existence?

And when the owners of a thorough bred filly named Ruffian had her put down because she broke her leg in a race against Secretariat (and was in constant pain) they really did the animal no kindness?

I remember that race because dad bet on Secretariat, and even though he won a lot of money as a result of the accident, he cried for that horse

Even so, I think he would have done the same thing the owners did--but you're saying that's just because he shared their foolish fallacy, right?

The idea that there's some cruelty in letting an animal go on existing in pain is just a human fallacy, because ceasing to exist would be no better for the animal than existing in pain, right?

Isn't that the position you're defending here?
God knows perfectly well that Person X's condition of existence does not improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist from existence.

Then God knows I'm a fool when I say my daily prayers, because the office for morning and evening prayer has a prayer of general thanksgiving, where we thank God for our existence, and all the blessings of creation.

But according to you the only beings that could be blessed by creation were those who already existed, so God could only blessed Himself by bringing us into existence--that is what you're saying, isn't it?

You do, too, occasionally, when I spell it out once again!

I deny "knowing" any such thing.

The only time I ever come close to agreeing with what you say here is when I'm in a very dark, nihilistic mood, and could easily stop taking the pills that keep my heart beating normally (or caring about anything.)
It is a category error to say that Person X's condition of existence is better in heaven than the condition of X's non-existent existence.

Why?
Aren't you actually playing semantics here?
I only denied that the condition of someone in existence can be better or worse off compared to the condition of someone who doesn't exist, because someone who doesn't exist doesn't even have the condition of being "someone"

"...doesn't even have the condition of being someone"?

Not even in the mind of God, where all possible worlds, and all the beings who could inhabit them exist as possibilities?
or any other condition of existence

Not even in the mind of such an omnisient Being?

If person X exists, wasn't it always possible for him to exist?

And don't all possibilities exist in the mind of God?


Your argument seems purely semantic to me, if you'd agree that anyone who does exist can exist?
I actually affirmed on a regular basis that existence is principally better than non-existence. I only denied that the condition of someone in existence can be better or worse off compared to the condition of someone who doesn't exist

When you say (as I think you occasionally did, before repeating the kind of thing you again repeat here) that "existence is principally better than non-existence," what do you mean?

And why do you always go on to deny that "the condition of someone in existence can be better or worse off compared to the condition of someone who doesn't exist"?

Are you just trying to make a semantic point?

Are you trying to say it would be better English to say "existence is better than non-existence," than it is to say "Jason is better off now that he exists than 'he' was before 'he' existed"?

If that's all you were ever saying, why did you always find it necessary to repeat such a minor point to someone who was greiving and confussed?

And isn't even your semantic argument questionable if we consider possibilities?

Can't we say that a sensless Jason Pratt (who exists merely as a potential in the mind of God) is any better or worse off than an actualized Jason Pratt (existing in a sensible state, in the world God created)?

Your answer seems to be "no," but I don't see why?

Are you really saying that if you (the real Jason Pratt, who actually exists in a real world created by God) could have the love of your life, and you both could live happily ever after (and enjoy all the bliss of heaven hereafter), you'd be no better off than one of the lifeless characters in one of your books?

Is that really what you believe?

Is that the position you're defending here (and the position you were defending in the pm's we exchanged when I had only recently lost my mother)?

If an actualized Jason Pratt is no better off existing in a world created by God (even enjoying the bliss of the highest heaven) than a Jason Pratt who never lived, I fail to see how God creating Jason Pratt could be viewed as an act of love.

And if an actualized Jason Pratt could suffer conscious eternal torment in hell without really being any worse off than one who never lived, what's wrong with the idea of double predestination?

By your logic, isn't any moral repulsion anyone here might feel at the thought of double predestination based on a category error?

Because wouldn't the damned be no worse off suffering eternal conscious torment then they would be if they were never created?

In fact (given your logic) God couldn't really be accused of hate if He created all of us knowing we'd suffer eternal conscious torment, because, in the final analysis, none of us would really be any the worse of than we would be if He never created us at all.

Isn't that right?

And (conversely) if the saints are no better off in heaven than they would be if they had never lived, God couldn't really be credited with acting out of love when He created them, could He?

These seem to me to be the inescapable corollaries of your logic.
God creates not-God reality as a loving gift of God by God to God

Given your logic, that's the only thing you've said that might make sense--but only if you assume God was stuck with His own existence, and needed creatures to improve His condition.

Is that what you believe?
and creates not-God reality in order to actively love that not-God reality, which He then does in various modes, even when the condition of that creature's existence degrades temporarily as a result of various factors.

I don't see how this makes any sense, from your stated point of view.

How can God actively love someone He's brougt into conscious existence if nothing He does will ever improve their original condition of being lifeless, senseless, possibilities.

And why not let their conditions permanently degrade if they'd really be no worse off in any condition.

It seems to me that the only point creation could have, given your logic, would be to make God's necessary existence more bearable, and then creation becomes a selfish act, not an act of love.

That's a thought I find very depressing, and I believe the enemy of my soul has used it (and words you've repeated here) when I've been tempted to give up on everything.

I don't think you'll ever talk anyone out of suicide (much less just letting themselves die, if their in need of daily medication to go on living) by trying to convince them that no state of conscious existence is any better or worse than non-existence.
Ceasing to exist doesn't improve any condition of one's own existence.

But whether a created being could improve his condition by choosing to cease his own existence was never my question.

Even though you repeatedly chose to clumsily try to answer that question while ignoring the one I was actually asking.
But I do want new members who aren't familiar with the situation, or old members who have forgotten, to be reassured that "someone here" has not in fact argued that existence is no better and no worse than non-existence, and certainly didn't try to convince you of that -- much the contrary.

Actually, you have Jason.

And that is what you've been arguing here.

And you again tried to convince me that you're right when you said

God knows perfectly well that Person X's condition of existence does not improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist from existence. You do, too, occasionally, when I spell it out once again!

I again deny knowing any such thing, and all you've done in your conclusion here is to contradict yourself.

Example:

Existence has value, and life has value

Even though a living, feeling Jason, enjoying all the blessings of heaven, is no better off than a Jason who never lived?

Which is what you clearly implied here.
God knows perfectly well that Person X's condition of existence does not improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist from existence.

How is possible for you not to see the contradiction?
even in the worst conditions.

Really?

Even for an animal who has nothing to learn from this life, no life beyond this, and is suffering in constant pain?

(Assuming for the moment, just for the sake of argument, that there's no afterlife for animals.)

Putting Ruffian out of her misery was no act of mercy?

And letting her go on in pain wouldn't be an act of cruelty?

And creating immortal souls destined for conscious eternal torment wouldn't be an act of cruelty either?


Existing in constant pain, without any hope of improvement, would be existing in the worse possible condition, would it not?

And you're saying here that existence, even in such a condition, would be better than not existing.

Aren't you?

And you don't see how that totally contradicts everything else you've said?

Non-existence has no value

But you just said it has a negative value when compared to existence.
You said
Existence has value, and life has value, even in the worst conditions.

That would mean non-existence has negative value when compared to existence (and you yourself make the comparison here.)
so it is better for you and your family to exist than to not exist

I thank you for that Jason.

Now can see see the many ways you've contradicted yourself?

By bringing anything into existence, God gives that creation actual (not merely potential) value. (And also potential value, at least from the perspective of the history of the creature. I'm not sure potential value has any meaning from God's omnipresently real perspective, except perhaps as an ultimately unrealized option for the creature's existence actualized in another way of value instead.)

Forgive me Jason, but that sounds like total double talk to me.
What He gives us creatures in actual value, is not however an improvement of our condition of existence compared to our prior non-condition of non-existence. Existence itself is the first actual value for us.

And how is it existence itself has value if not compared to non-existence?
Once we exist, then our conditions of existence can improve or degrade in various ways. If we ever cease to exist, our condition of existence cannot improve, or degrade, or even stay the same -- because we wouldn't exist anymore at all. Ceasing to exist would be a reduction of value, but not for us personally after we cease to exist. It would be a reduction of value for those who remain in existence (i.e. God and still-existent creatures).

I think what you're saying is that different states of existence can have positive or negative value when compared to each other, but have no value at all when compared to non-existence.

So, in your opinion, does this include the existence of God Himself?

Does His existence have no real value when compared to non-existence?

Does His existence have value to Him only because He already exists (and really has no choice in the matter)?

And did He need us to give His existence value?

Given your logic, who is the giver, and who is the receiver?

I believe you're totally wrong, and contradicting yourself right and left here.

And are you sure you're telling us what you really believe?

Once again, are you really saying that if you (the real Jason Pratt, who actually exists in a real world created by God) could have the love of your life, and you both could live happily ever after (and enjoy all the bliss of heaven hereafter), you'd be no better off than one of the lifeless characters in one of your books?

Is that really what you believe?

And can you show me where I've committed category errors here?

Or where my logical fallacy lies?

P.S. I apparently read over the last part of your post here the first time I read it, and neglected to reply to some of your comments.
For this I apologize.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby JasonPratt » Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:52 am

Fictional characters, as such, have a pretend existence, and so have pretended conditions of existence. At best they're like memories of persons that once existed, being remembered by persons with actual existence -- although they aren't even that, because fictional persons never existed at all to begin with.

So there is no comparison possible except by category error, or by hypothetically comparing conditions of existence if the characters actually existed -- which still wouldn't be comparing conditions of existence with non-existent conditions of a non-existent existence to see which existent persons (the existent persons or the non-existent existent persons) would be "better off" compared to each other.

"I" can be better off or worse off compared to past or future conditions of my existence, so long as "I" still exist to have comparative conditions of existence. If I ever cease to exist, so does the only method of comparison except by the psychological confusion of other people who are imagining I still exist because they can't conceive that non-existent persons do not really exist anymore to compare states of existence between.

"I" can be better or worse off in my conditions of existence compared to the conditions of the existence of other persons. My existence has value, and so in that sense has 'more' value (by having value at all) compared to the non-value of non-existence, but even then I'm having to cheat a bit for the comparison by imagining a zero level of value when non-existence is not even zero numerically compared to positive or negative real numbers. Non-existence is not a neutrally zero state of existence which can be considered better off comparatively than negative states of existence. (This is the error of people who regard annihilation as mercy, or suicide as still being an improvement of their condition if they ceased to exist afterward. They're thinking of non-existence as though it's a neutral state of existence and so relatively better than existing in negative inconvenience.)

"I" can be better or worse off in my conditions of existence compared to hypothetical conditions of myself or other persons, and so compared to proposed fictional characters whose pretended existence has pretended characteristics. But existent persons have value, regardless of their conditions of existence, that non-existent persons don't have; which is why there is an ethical duty to improve the conditions of existent persons and not the pretended conditions of pretended existence of pretended persons. And even that comparison only works by positing pretended characteristics of fictional persons for sake of hypothetical comparison.


Are you really saying that if you (the real Jason Pratt, who actually exists in a real world created by God) could have the love of your life, and you both could live happily ever after (and enjoy all the bliss of heaven hereafter), you'd be no better off than one of the lifeless characters in one of your books?


Our existence would have value even if we were in eternal conscious torment and the pretended characters were living happily ever after in a pretended heaven. Which is why our conditions, of the really existent persons, ought to be improved, as an ethical duty, whereas at best improving the conditions of fictional characters only counts as practice or perhaps as an illustration of principles. And that comparison is only possible by the non-existent fictional characters borrowing a sort of secondary existence from the existence of real persons. To ask if we're better or worse off than something that doesn't even have enough secondary existence to talk about, and so to ask a comparative question about, is a category error. It would be like snipping off the end of the sentence before getting to the It wouldn't even be like asking whether we'd be better or worse off than Thursday or the hypotenuse of a triangle, because those at least conceptually exist whereas the totally non-existent does not even conceptually exist anymore (if it ever once did).

And our existence would have value, by the way, and more value as real persons, compared to the mere conceptual existence of Thursday or a hypotenuse (either of which borrow whatever secondary value they have from the value of existent persons), even if we were living in eternal conscious torment, which is why there would be an ethical duty to improve our conditions but no ethical duty to improve the condition of the hypotenuse of a triangle -- if that was even possible, but I don't think the conditional existence of a hypotenuse can be improved or degraded. So is the value of our existence somehow threatened because a hypotenuse only has value thanks to the existence of real persons? Or would our existence in perfectly convenience conditions be comparatively unimportant somehow because a hypotenuse cannot have its conditions of existence (so far as it exists) improved or degraded? Of course not either way!

I can go even farther than that, and argue that a real person annihilated out of existence ought to be brought back into existence, because the real person has real value. But it would be nonsense for me to try to argue that an annihilated persons ought to be brought back into existence because their condition of existence currently as non-existent ought to be improved; although I could coherently argue that they ought to be brought back because their condition of existence before they ceased to exist ought to be improved.


If an actualized Jason Pratt is no better off existing in a world created by God (even enjoying the bliss of the highest heaven) than a Jason Pratt who never lived, I fail to see how God creating Jason Pratt could be viewed as an act of love.


Because you're still imagining that the non-existent Jason had conditions of existence that could be improved by loving Jason. God acted to give me existence at all, thanks to which reality I now can have conditions of existence to be improved or degraded. When I didn't exist, I didn't have conditions of existence to be improved or degraded; consequently my condition of existence didn't improve by my starting to exist and so to have conditions of existence.

And if an actualized Jason Pratt could suffer conscious eternal torment in hell without really being any worse off than one who never lived, what's wrong with the idea of double predestination?


It's a nonsense question confabulated out of English grammar and confusion of thought. There is no answer except to correct the confusion of thought. The value of a person's real existence does not depend on an impossible improvement in the conditions of existence of something that doesn't exist yet to have conditions of existence (and so which isn't even "something that doesn't exist yet"). The value of an existent person comes into existence with that person, and is why that person's conditions ought to be improved -- and not falsely improved by annihilating the person out of existence either. Which is one (although not the only) answer to why double predestination would be ethically wrong. Its wrongness isn't due to God taking a person with completely neutral conditions of existence (which is what is being imagined for comparison as non-existence) and then hopelessly degrading that person's conditions of existence -- although that would be wrong, too, if a non-existent person actually existed to have conditions of existence to be degraded. But that's a nonsense proposition, perhaps confused with a sequence of events describing a person actually coming to have existence.

By your logic, isn't any moral repulsion anyone here might feel at the thought of double predestination based on a category error?


Only if they're only basing it on a category error. The moral repulsion doesn't need to depend on the non-existent non-characteristics of non-existent persons being somehow degraded.

Because wouldn't the damned be no worse off suffering eternal conscious torment then they would be if they were never created?


An uncreated person doesn't exist to have conditions of existence to degrade or improve. The perma-damned would be worse off than if they were not perma-damned, and they would be worse off than existent persons who are not perma-damned, and if hypothetical non-permadamned persons existed instead of non-existed the perma-damned would be worse off than them, too.

The perma-damned would not be worse off than Thursday, or better off either, although they would have positive value which Thursday does not have (from which value Thursday derives whatever secondary value it does have); nor would they be worse off than fictional persons who only have a non-personal secondary existence; nor would they be worse off than utterly non-existent persons who do not even have fictional existence to even make a hypothetical comparison with if they existed, any more than the perma-damned would be worse off than the non-existent end of a It's a category error to draw any of those comparisons.


In fact (given your logic) God couldn't really be accused of hate if He created all of us knowing we'd suffer eternal conscious torment, because, in the final analysis, none of us would really be any the worse of than we would be if He never created us at all.


No, He would be accused of hate for creating people He intended to suffer hopelessly. Their moral value does not depend on the nonsense of them having previously existed in non-existence to have existent conditions to degrade or improve, instead of non-existent non-conditions which cannot be improved or degraded because they don't exist. Non-existent persons do not improve or degrade their conditions of existence by coming into existence: non-existent persons do not have conditions of existence at all. Existent persons are not better off or worse off than their previous existence as non-existent persons, and their value (including their moral value) does not depend on that nonsense being true.

But as long as you just feel in your heart that non-existent persons still somehow exist for their condition to improve or degrade by coming into existence, and that that nonsensical impossibility is the only way existence can have any value (so that if the nonsense is denied and rejected as nonsense then the value of a person's existence must also be being denied), then you're going to keep panicking about this non-problem. (And blaming me for your panic about it.)


Given your logic, that's the only thing you've said that might make sense [i.e. that creation is the gift of God by God to God] -- but only if you assume God was stuck with His own existence, and needed creatures to improve His condition.

Is that what you believe?


No, I'm inferring (not merely assuming) that God actively self-exists as the ground of all existence, and so generating existence is what God fundamentally does. God doesn't need creatures to improve His condition, in that case; but God is going to create not-God existences because generating existence is what God fundamentally does. The self-generating existence generator isn't "stuck" with His own existence; the self-generating existence generator generates existence: His own self-existence, and the existence of that which is not Himself.

The value of God's creation does not depend on God's creation already existing before He creates it so that God is, by creating it, only improving its conditions of pre-existence. Nor, by the way, does the value of God's existence depend on God's non-existent existence improving by improving the non-existent conditions of that non-existence.


I don't see how this makes any sense, from your stated point of view. How can God actively love someone He's brougt into conscious existence if nothing He does will ever improve their original condition of being lifeless, senseless, possibilities.


Because you keep ignoring or misunderstanding my stated point of view. You keep thinking my stated point of view involves non-existence having an "original condition of being lifeless, senseless, possibilities" but that's your belief, not mine. My stated point of view is that non-existence has no conditions at all. Not even the condition of being lifeless, not even the condition of being senseless. Even the possibility of existence is not an existent condition of something that is non-existent. Once God creates them, then they exist to have conditions which can be improved or degraded. Their conditions can then be judged for comparison as to whether this condition is better or worse off than that condition; so that a degradation is actually being worse off than before. THERE WAS NO BEFORE FOR THE CREATURE BEFORE THE CREATURE EXISTS!

There can be a before for God before Creature X exists (although that would be an ontological priority not a temporal one, except insofar as God has His own internal relations to which our created temporality is a derivative and substantially different variation). There can be a before for other creatures before Creature X exists. There can be no before for Creature X before Creature X exists.


That's a thought I find very depressing, and I believe the enemy of my soul has used it (and words you've repeated here) when I've been tempted to give up on everything.


The enemy of your soul is trying to drive you to suicide by various means, one of which is to keep trying to make you feel that non-existence has existent conditions (or states of existence), which is a contradiction I have never once told you or anyone else, ever. The enemy of your soul keeps blanking out various things I'm saying, so that it looks like I'm saying something else instead.

Whereas I have repeatedly said that existence has value, and non-existence has no value, not even zero value. Don't commit suicide, BECAUSE you aren't going to improve your existence by going out of existence (if death is annihilation). Don't commit suicide, even if you continue to exist afterward, and even if that might help improve your condition of existence, BECAUSE your existence here already has value and deserves to be improved HERE, and even more importantly because you have a duty to help improve the conditions of other people's existences HERE. You don't have a duty to improve the non-existent conditions of non-existent persons: they don't exist, they don't have conditions to improve. But the value of your existence does not depend on you always having existed to have conditions to be improved. Nor does the value of your existence depend on the nonsense of non-existence nevertheless existing to have conditions to be improved.

I'm not saying that's simple to understand; but that has been what I've constantly and consistently been saying. Which is against suicide from all directions. That you once didn't exist (compared to the existence of other existences), is not a reason for suicide. That existence does not coherently compare to non-existence in a sense of improvement of conditions of existence between non-existence and existence, is not a reason for suicide. That you will still exist after death is not a good enough reason for suicide, even if you somehow improve your own condition of existence thereby; and if you cease to exist after death, you will not be improving your condition of existence, so cessation of existence is not a reason for suicide either.

But whether a created being could improve his condition by choosing to cease his own existence was never my question.


Your whole existential panic is based on non-existent conditions not being better or worse off comparatively than existent conditions, as though the non-existent conditions were existent conditions anyway and therefore (by virtue of nonsense) conditions of existence must be no better or worse off than existent conditions of non-existence.

But non-existent conditions do not exist. There is no improvement or degradation of existent conditions when going between non-existence (which has no existent conditions) and existence (which has existent conditions).

Thus your previous complaint: "How can God actively love someone He's brougt into conscious existence if nothing He does will ever improve their original condition of being lifeless, senseless, possibilities." But nothing God ever does will ever improve the originally existent conditions of originally non-existent non-existences. Not because existence therefore has no value more than non-existence, but because it's nonsense for non-existence to have originally existent conditions to improve or degrade.

Non-existence has no existent conditions to improve or degrade or even stay the same; it also has no value to even compare with the value of existence. Non-existence does not have a value to compare with the value of existence.

Existence has value; and also conditions to improve or degrade or stay the same. Existence has comparative value with existence. Not with non-existence.

Michael wrote:
Jason wrote:God knows perfectly well that Person X's condition of existence does not improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist from existence. You do, too, occasionally, when I spell it out once again!


I again deny knowing any such thing


Yep, you've gone back once again to denying that you know that Person X's condition of existence does not improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist from existence.

You've gone back once again to insisting that Person X's condition of existence my improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist from existence.

And that's your problem.

Even though a living, feeling Jason, enjoying all the blessings of heaven, is no better off than a Jason who never lived?


Yep, a living, feeling Jason, enjoying all the blessings of heaven, has not improved my condition of existence from back when non-existent Jason did not have conditions of existence to improve or degrade or stay the same. BECAUSE IMPROVING SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT EXIST TO IMPROVE IS NONSENSE. And the value of my existence does NOT depend on my non-existence having had existent conditions to improve or degrade or stay the same. So the fact that that's impossible has no bearing at all on whether existence has value or not.

So I have not contradicted myself to say that existence has value, and life has value, and also that non-existence does not have existent conditions to improve or degrade or stay the same. They aren't even the same topic! I wouldn't be contradicting myself either to say that existence has value, and life has value, and also that Thursday is not colored blue. Nor would I be contradicting myself to say that existence has existent conditions that can be improved or degraded or stay the same, but non-existence does not have conditions that can be improved or degraded or stay the same -- which actually is two statements on the same topic.

Existence has value. Non-existence does not have value, not even a non-value to compare with the value of existence (except by linguistic convention since we have to talk about non-existence by analogy with comparative existence.) Existence has existent conditions that can be improved, degraded, or stay the same, compared to other states of existence. Non-existence does not have existent conditions or states of existence that can be improved, degraded, or stay the same, compared with conditions or states of existence which can be improved etc.

How is possible for you not to see the contradiction?


The contradiction between (as you quoted me) "God knowing perfectly well that Person X's condition of existence does not improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist", and (as you quoted me) "Existence has value, and life has value"?

Because the value of existence doesn't depend on a non-existent condition of existence existing.

The reason you see a contradiction between those two propositions, is because you're mentally ill with a disease that's pressing you into suicide. Anything anyone says against suicide will be ignored or quickly forgotten or twisted around into being a reason for suicide anyway -- especially the latter if blame for the suicide can be fixed on someone else.

Michael wrote:
Jason wrote:Existence has value, and life has value, even in the worst conditions. Ceasing to exist doesn't improve any condition of one's own existence.


Really?

Even for an animal who has nothing to learn from this life, no life beyond this, and is suffering in constant pain?

(Assuming for the moment, just for the sake of argument, that there's no afterlife for animals.)

Putting Ruffian out of her misery was no act of mercy? [etc.]


The intention was no doubt merciful, but you didn't achieve mercy if Ruffian ceased to exist (assuming for the moment that there's no afterlife for animals). Because ceasing to exist doesn't improve any condition of existence. You didn't improve her condition by killing her if she ceased to exist, so you didn't help her after all, even though you meant to help her.

And letting her go on in pain wouldn't be an act of cruelty?


Compared to letting her go on in not-pain, if you could accomplish that? Sure.

But killing her doesn't let her go on in not-pain if she ceases to exist.

And creating immortal souls destined for conscious eternal torment wouldn't be an act of cruelty either?


Yep, it's an act of cruelty (if the destiny is intended by the creator), but annihilating them out of existence wouldn't be an act of mercy for them (or not an achieved act of mercy despite the intention): because that isn't helping them. It doesn't improve the conditions of their existence. It might improve the conditions of the existence of people who actually still exist, and so be an act of mercy for them, but the object of mercy is different there.

Creating such persons intended for eternal conscious torment would also be cruelty, but NOT because God is thereby degrading their "original conditions" of anything -- because they didn't have original conditions before they were created.

And you're saying here that existence, even in such a condition, would be better than not existing.


I'm saying even such an existence has value. Non-existence would have no value, and would not be improving their conditions of existence either. Nor would their non-existent conditions of existence be degraded by creating them for this purpose.

But I can say that consistently, because I don't regard value of existence as depending on comparison with non-existent conditions of non-existence. Consequently the cruelty of such a creation would not depend on the creatures having actually existed before creation in a state of existence that was thereby degraded by coming into existence for that purpose. The cruelty is completely independent of such impossible non-problems.

But you just said [non-existence] has a negative value when compared to existence.


Whereupon, being unable to find where I said that, you quoted me saying that existence has value instead. Obviously my saying that non-existence has no value meant something different than what you wanted it to mean, or you wouldn't have been casting around to make my subsequent comparison, "Non-existence has no value, so it is better for you and your family to exist than to not exist" mean that I'm contradicting myself somehow. Nope, I meant "better" in the sense that existence has value and non-existence doesn't. I didn't mean it in the sense that you are better off existing, which I didn't say: I wasn't comparing your conditions of existence to your "original condition" (your phrase, not mine) of non-existence.


And how is it existence itself has value if not compared to non-existence?


Note that you're asking this in challenge (again) to my statement that "What He gives us creatures in actual value, is not however an improvement of our condition of existence compared to our prior non-condition of non-existence." You keep functionally insisting not only that non-existent persons must have existent conditions, but that the value of existence depends on comparing existent conditions of existence to existent non-existent conditions of existence in non-existence.

That's where the "many contradictions" are coming from that you keep complaining about. But they aren't coming from my position, they're coming from you trying to hold to (what amounts to) that position.

Value is always a personal judgment, and requires a person to be doing the valuation. Existence has value only if eternal self-existence itself, the ground of all existence, personally values existence. And that isn't selfishness only if eternal personal self-existence itself is multiple persons valuing each other in interpersonal communion. There can only be ultimately objective valuation if that's true, too; otherwise there can only be subjective valuation (although objective valuation necessarily involves subjective valuation, too, since the subject is valuing the object.)

That's why God doesn't need a non-existent void to exist to have value by comparison to non-existence. God, and so all existence, has value because the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit personally value each other in love. And not-God existence has value, not because some kind of non-existence nevertheless exists to compare value to non-value (although the concept can be considered, although the valuation of existence doesn't depend on considering the concept either); but first and foremost because God loves not-God reality into existence. Not-God existence (and God for that matter) also has value so far as rational creatures value both God and creation, but the value of God and creation doesn't depend on us creatures valuing them: even if we didn't value them, God would.

(A non-trinitarian or non-binitarian theist could go pretty far with that, too.)


So I can make a conceptual comparison if pressed on it, which I did: non-existence has no value, but existence does have value, so (in that sense) it is better for you and your family to exist than to not exist. That doesn't mean you were improving your conditions of existence by coming into existence, much less that your value depends on you having done that impossible nonsense. Your value doesn't depend on non-existence having no value, either, although I can make the conceptual comparison.


I think what you're saying is that different states of existence can have positive or negative value when compared to each other, but have no value at all when compared to non-existence.


That's your depression twisting around what I said. I say "Once we exist, then our conditions of existence can improve or degrade in various ways. If we ever cease to exist, our condition of existence cannot improve, or degrade, or even stay the same -- because we wouldn't exist anymore at all." But your depression swamps that around so that what you hear, is me saying that existence and states of existence have no value at all compared to non-existence. Which isn't at all what I said, and cannot be logically derived from it. But which IS directly a reply challenging that non-existent conditions do not exist to be improved, and do not exist to be a degradation of prior existent conditions, which you claim not to be interested in and not asking about.

So when I say yet again that the value of existence doesn't depend on improving non-existent non-conditions as though they are existent conditions, your depression treats me like I'm saying that non-existence has its own value compared to existence, and/or that both existence and non-existence have no value at all (and equally no value at all). ("Does [God's] existence have no real value when compared to non-existence?" as you go on immediately to ask if I believe.)

But that's your mental illness talking, not me. And your mental illness is where the "contradicting left and right" is coming from, not from me. When you read one thing and flip it over so completely to force it to come out so differently, there can be no possibility of even rational discussion, much less of your depression being solaced by reason: because your depression is undermining the discussion fatally. Very literally fatally, because it's taking anti-suicide positions and forcing them around into seeming like suicide positions instead -- for which you're blaming me, which is again common for suicidal behavior.

Which is why the other admins and mods agreed that I shouldn't be trying to help you by doing metaphysics with you. Your condition doesn't just make that impossible, it's going to end up with you using me as either a justification or a blame for some kind of murder / suicide spree. That there is no sane justification or blame involved, is beside the point.

If anyone else wants to chime in, thinking you can help Michael, be aware: this is how the conversation has gone in the past, and how it's still going to go. I don't doubt that part of him wants to avoid suicide, but an insane part of him very much wants it, and is pushing him to do so: blaming other people, punishing himself, existential angst of life being meaningless so he might as well, etc.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Fri Apr 08, 2016 9:06 am

JasonPratt wrote:
If anyone else wants to chime in, thinking you can help Michael, be aware: this is how the conversation has gone in the past, and how it's still going to go. I don't doubt that part of him wants to avoid suicide, but an insane part of him very much wants it, and is pushing him to do so: blaming other people, punishing himself, existential angst of life being meaningless so he might as well, etc.


As someone who has a masters in psychology and a lifelong friend of a brilliant, Greek Orthodox woman (M.S. counseling - University of Chicago, PhD in biblical Archaeology - Oxford), with here own counseling practice - I have this to add. Michael - talk to the right people. They could be:

    Crisis lines - you can get numbers from your local public library, adult reference
    Family physician
    Counselors/therapists
    Protestant, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox clergy
    Etc.

I know there are good medicines and therapies (i.e cognitive behavioral) around, to address such issues.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby JasonPratt » Fri Apr 08, 2016 9:23 am

I completely agree, and have tried to get Michael to get professional medical help before. I was hoping he was doing so (and my previous condition for talking to him again is that he have gotten medical help to cure his suicidal depression.)

Metaphysics, even perfectly valid, is not going to help for certain kinds of depression. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: it's like trying to freestyle climb the Empire State Building while bungie cords anchored to the ground are sunk into your flesh. It doesn't matter how much you want to climb the building, it doesn't matter how good you'd be at it under normal and healthy conditions -- the conditions are fatally weighed against even trying to climb it, and the moreso the more you try. First the bungie hooks have to be removed, and then some time (maybe extended time) spent successfully healing (not time spent unsuccessfully healing). Climbing the building is not the solution to the problem.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Sat Apr 09, 2016 3:01 am

Hi Jason.

Let me start with where I disagree with you (and it's not because I'm mentally ill.)

You say
Value is always a personal judgment, and requires a person to be doing the valuation.

If something has real value, it would have that value even if no one could recognize it.

A Monet is still beautiful in a room full of blind men, and a Beethoven piano sonata is still beautiful in a room full of deaf men.
Existence has value only if eternal self-existence itself, the ground of all existence, personally values existence.

I believe God values things like love, loyalty, and courage because they have intrinsic value.

I don't believe He could create a hell where all His creatures suffered endless, needless, and purposeless pain, and somehow give it value, because He valued it "in His personal judgment."

That sounds like pure relativism to me.
"I" can be better off or worse off compared to past or future conditions of my existence, so long as "I" still exist to have comparative conditions of existence. If I ever cease to exist, so does the only method of comparison except by the psychological confusion of other people who are imagining I still exist because they can't conceive that non-existent persons do not really exist anymore to compare states of existence between.

That's what Hilary Greaves (Associate Proffessor of Philosophy at Somervile College in Oxford University) calls "the incoherence argument" against existence comparativism, and there are those who disagree with it.
Fleurbaey and Voorhoeve (as cited by Hilary Greaves): “The literature seems to have failed to see the difference between persons as concreteobjects and persons as they figure in ordinary discourse. A concrete object has properties only in the states in which itexists… But when we discuss possible people, the topic of our debate is not only concrete persons… it is persons as they are considered by evaluators of possible worlds…”

Is it your personal judgment that Fleurbaey and Voorhoeve are too psychologically confussed to get your point?

I understand what you're saying Jason, and I disagree with you.

Prof. Greaves herself says that your argument is
an artefact of naivete about the extent to which semantics must mirror surface grammar.

Is she psychologically confussed, or mentally ill?

It's true that since I first pointed out the problems with what you said in some book you wrote (that you recommended to me when I was grieving), you have occasionally said that existence has some value--but you always immediately contradict yourself in some way, deny the contradiction, and then complain about being misunderstood.

Here's an example:
My existence has value, and so in that sense has 'more' value (by having value at all) compared to the non-value of non-existence, but even then I'm having to cheat a bit for the comparison by imagining a zero level of value when non-existence is not even zero numerically compared to positive or negative real numbers. Non-existence is not a neutrally zero state of existence which can be considered better off comparatively than negative states of existence. (This is the error of people who regard annihilation as mercy, or suicide as still being an improvement of their condition if they ceased to exist afterward. They're thinking of non-existence as though it's a neutral state of existence and so relatively better than existing in negative inconvenience.)

This is the closest you've come to actually saying something meaningful, and I do thank you for that.

But it would be much easier (and clearer) to say your existence has value compared to non-existence, then to throw in extra words like "the non-value of non-existence," and then to try to argue that the "non-value" isn't equivalent to the numerical concept of zero.

Why isn't "non-value" zero value?

You contradict yourself Jason, and I don't misunderstand you.

I know what you're saying, and I disagree with you.

And so do others.
Roberts, Holtug: A is better than B for s if A’s well-being level is higher in A than it is in B. And if s does not exist in A, then s’s well-being level in A is zero.

I agree with Holtug.
It's a nonsense question confabulated out of English grammar and confusion of thought.

The questions I asked you were not nonsense, and you're the only one confused here (unless you're confusing others, as you did me once, and I hope to prevent that.)

The things we're discussing would be meaningless if there were no God, no possible worlds for God to evaluate, and no possible people He could bring into existence--but than we wouldn't be here having this discussion.

But the fact that we are here having this discussion is sufficient proof that there are possible worlds for God to evaluate, possible people He can create, and meaningful comparisons that can be made.

It is either better or worse for you to exist than not to exist, and God knows whether it's better or worse for you.

As long as there's some quality to your life--or the possibility of some quality of life here or hereafter--it's better for you to exist than it is for you not to exist.

And if God is good, He must know it's better for you to exist than it is for you not to exist--even if you're suffeing now.

That's the reason to go on when you're suffering.

That's the reason not to take the easy way out by committing suicide
.

If anyone else wants to chime in, thinking you can help Michael, be aware: this is how the conversation has gone in the past, and how it's still going to go. I don't doubt that part of him wants to avoid suicide, but an insane part of him very much wants it, and is pushing him to do so: blaming other people, punishing himself, existential angst of life being meaningless so he might as well, etc.

I'm overwelmed by your charity here Jason.

But suicide is not what I want,

Do I sound suicidal?
The reason you see a contradiction between those two propositions, is because you're mentally ill with a disease that's pressing you into suicide. Anything anyone says against suicide will be ignored or quickly forgotten or twisted around into being a reason for suicide anyway -- especially the latter if blame for the suicide can be fixed on someone else.

No, that's not the reason I disagree with you Jason (and never was, even when I was at my lowest, and struggling, and you were of no help.)

It may suite your pride to think that's the only reason someone could disagree with your position here, or see any flaws in your logic, but do Fleurbaey, Voorhoeve, Holtug, and Greaves disagree with you because they're suicidal?

Are they mentally ill?

Here's what I find interesting.
Yep, it's an act of cruelty (if the destiny is intended by the creator), but annihilating them out of existence wouldn't be an act of mercy for them (or not an achieved act of mercy despite the intention): because that isn't helping them. It doesn't improve the conditions of their existence. It might improve the conditions of the existence of people who actually still exist, and so be an act of mercy for them, but the object of mercy is different there.

After arguing that "A" would be no worse off in Dante's Inferno than he would be if he were never created, you seemingly contradict yourself by saying that creating him would be an act of cruelty if that destiny were intended by his creator--but instead of explaining why you see no contradiction (as you might be expected to do here), you go on to make some comments about annihilationism.

This whole discussion between us started because you used an argument like that against annihilationism in a book you recommended to me
(Sword to the Heart, I think) at a time when I was greiving--and when I disagreed with the way you worded your argument all you seemed concerned about was defending yourself.

I felt betrayed then, and I do now.

I was vulnerable at the time, and if not for the Grace of God, some of the things you said could have been extremely harmful.

It had to be by the Grace of God because I don't think my Bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science, the Psychology and Sociology courses I took in college, or the schools of therapy I studied (Freud, Jung Adler, Erickson, Frome, Rogers, etc.) really helped at all.

But as someone who has a Bachelor's in Behavioral Science, and who was working on a Master's when my world fell apart, I can tell you again (as I've told you before):

For someone grieving, and facing the ultimate questions in life, it's actually very important to believe there are states of existence that can be better or worse than non-existence.

Without that belief, hell (whether regarded as eternal or temporary, punitive or remedial) offers no deterent to suicide, and heaven offers no incentive to carry on here.

Nothing could be more dangerous than to convince yourself, or someone else, that existence has no real value when compared to non-existence.

If someone is considering euthanasia, convince him that there are reasons not to put people out of their misery in the same way we shoot horses--but don't try to convince him that there's no cruelty in allowing an animal to go on existing in needless pain.

If he's grieving the loss of a loved one, and considering suicide himself, convince him that the hope of being reunited with his loved one in heaven is worth hanging in here for--but don't try to tell him that he and his loved one will be no better off in heaven than they would be if God had never created them.

I write this mainly for the benefit of those who may be reading along, and may be struggling with grief themselves.

Hang on through the pain, and trust that God brought you into existence as an act of love--and that He knows you're better off existing than not existing.


And I again thank Geoffrey, for writting
Geoffrey wrote:If I understand you correctly, I agree with you, and so does all mankind.

Suppose people were given a stark choice, and they knew that one of the following two things would happen without any possibility of doubt:

1. You can immediately drop dead and simply cease to exist.

or

2. You can immediately drop dead and find yourself in Dante's Inferno and never get out.

Virtually every single person on earth would choose option #1. Everybody knows it's better to not be than to be in Dante's Inferno. Only someone not faced with the reality of this choice could possibly argue otherwise.

viewtopic.php?f=15&t=6837&p=97298#p97298

Thank you Geoffrey.

I think even Jason would agree with that.

I even think he'd agree that if people could have some conception of the joys of heaven, and if they knew that any suffering they experience here (or in some temporary hell hereafter) would lead to heaven, they'd all choose existence over non-existence.

But I'm afraid that to defend a specious argument he used in "Sword of Justice," he would find it necessary to add something totally irrelevant about people not being able to make that choice if they didn't already exist.

That's true of course, but what difference does it make?

Particularly to someone who's suffering, and in grief?

It only means that if they didn't exist, they wouldn't be able to recognize the value of what God's made possible for them by bringing them into existence--not that existence doesn't have such things to offer.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:06 am

Michael: let me briefly respond to some of your statements:

Michael wrote:Hi Jason.

Let me start with where I disagree with you (and it's not because I'm mentally ill.)



Mental illness is based upon statistical models, from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , used by mental health professionals. It takes a qualified professional (someone with the right degree, training and passing the approximate board licensing exams) to evaluate a person and match a diagnosis, to a corresponding category. Neither Michael nor Jason are qualified to do that.

Michael wrote:
I write this mainly for the benefit of those who may be reading along, and may be struggling with grief themselves.



Are you familiar with Grief Share, which is facilitated at various churches, in the US and around the world?

Michael wrote:You say
Value is always a personal judgment, and requires a person to be doing the valuation.
If something has real value, it would have that value even if no one could recognize it.

A Monet is still beautiful in a room full of blind men, and a Beethoven piano sonata is still beautiful in a room full of deaf men.


I remember a Star Trek, Next Generation episode. Wolf had somebody in a bar, play a Klington opera piece. To a Klingon, it was beautiful. I thought it was horrible. But Spock or Mr. Data could probably correctly argue, it had intrinsic value - in and of itself.

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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Sat Apr 09, 2016 8:42 am

randylkemp wrote:Mental illness is based upon statistical models, from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , used by mental health professionals. It takes a qualified professional (someone with the right degree, training and passing the approximate board licensing exams) to evaluate a person and match a diagnosis, to a corresponding category. Neither Michael nor Jason are qualified to do that.

Perhaps not, but I have used the DSM IV to do bio/social/ psych intake intervies at Bowling Green Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center in Pennsylvania (when I was doing my internship there--sorry I can't remember the name of the town right now), and I doubt Jason has.

So of the two of us, I'm probably the more qualified.

I know you said you have a Master's, but do you feel qualified to make such diagnosis over the internet?

I remember a Star Trek, Next Generation episode. Wolf had somebody in a bar, play a Klington opera piece. To a Klingon, it was beautiful. I thought it was horrible. But Spock or Mr. Data could probably correctly argue, it had intrinsic value - in and of itself.

I believe it's "Worf," not "Wolf," and Spock and Data were fictional characters who saw little intrinsic value in anything.

Do you deny the existence of anything with intrinsic value?

Are you a licensed counsellor, with actual clients?

And do you recommend "Zen" Buddhist medition, and perscribe "homeopathic medicines" for those clients?
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby DaveB » Sat Apr 09, 2016 8:57 am

"While the DSM has been praised for standardizing psychiatric diagnostic categories and criteria, it has also generated controversy and criticism. Critics, including the National Institute of Mental Health, argue that the DSM represents an unscientific and subjective system.[1] There are ongoing issues concerning the validity and reliability of the diagnostic categories; the reliance on superficial symptoms; the use of artificial dividing lines between categories and from "normality"; possible cultural bias; and medicalization of human distress.[2][3][4][5][6] The publication of the DSM, with tightly guarded copyrights, now makes APA over $5 million a year, historically totaling over $100 million.[7]" - from a Wiki I happened across.

I've been told that DSM has 'evolved' to the point of being almost useless, since, looked at a certain way, no human being is 'normal' :lol: - everything is a symptom of something - is that a valid criticism?
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All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:08 am

Michael - To a address your concern, I don't claim to be 'qualified" to diagnose anyone as mentally ill - as I am NOT licensed. Nor would anyone who is properly qualified and licensed, make ANY diagnosis - over the Internet. They must meet with them in person.

Now someone once attacked me and claimed to be a prophet. But I am correct in saying that organic disease and mental illness, should first be ruled out - as a factor (an historical case is Ellen White, a Seventh Day Adventist historical prophet). Then one needs to apply the proper spiritual tests, like - can then prophesied something and we can see, if it comes true.

I was:

    a volunteer at a crisis center
    Worked as a supervisor, at a mental health, housing facility
    Worked as a volunteer, at an adult social program, for mentally ill people

But I don't go around arguing, who's "closest" to being an "expert" on mental illness. Unless we are licensed to make that determination, we are NOT the "proper" experts. PERIOD :?:

Dave - the DSM might not be perfect, but it's the closest thing we have, to a working tool, for classifying mental illness. And the fact they are now on version 5, means it's a work in progress.

P.S. to everyone - since I look to historical figures from the Holy Fools tradition as "role models", I don't expect any of them, to be classified as sane. :lol:
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:42 am

randylkemp wrote:Now someone once attacked me and claimed to be a prophet.

For the sake of those reading along, I'd you to clarify the fact that you're not talking about me here, as I've never claimed to be a prophet, and I haven't attacked you.

Nor would anyone who is properly qualified and licensed, make ANY diagnosis - over the Internet. They must meet with them in person.

I agree, and I don't believe I attempted to make any such diagnosis here.

Someone who doesn't meet your qualification standard may have attempted to stigmatize me with such a diagnosis, but all I did was to make a general statement about the inadvisabilty of trying to convince someone you deem suicidal that he's making a category error if (even in his grief) he holds onto the belief that life is a gift, and that there are states of existence that are better than non-existence.

It's totally counter-productive to try to convince him there's no cruelty in allowing an animal to exist in needless pain, because the animal would be no better off if it didn't exist, and that even at his happiest moments here on earth (and in some future bliss in heaven) he himself is really no better off than he'd be if he never existed.

If you deem someone to be suicidal, and you have reason to think he believes in God, it's far better to try to convince him that God is good, and that in the end he and those he loves will be better off than they'd be if they were never created, and (even if he's seen loved ones suffer, and he himself is suffering now) they will have every reason to be truly grateful to their Creator for bringing them into existence when they're reunited in heaven.

That's Pastoral counselling 101.

And even if you're dealing with a client who doesn't believe in God, it would still make more sense to try to convince him that whatever good times his loved one had, and whatever good times they shared together, and whatever good times he may still be able to look forward to as long as he continues to exist, somehow make existence worthwhile.

Depending on the individual circumstances, that may be a much weaker argument, but it still makes more since than semanticly arguing to him that there'd be no "him" to be better or worse if he didn't exist.

It would be gross malpractice for any licensed therapist to subject a client to that kind of nihilistic (and in my opinion, poisenous) thinking.
DaveB wrote:"While the DSM has been praised for standardizing psychiatric diagnostic categories and criteria, it has also generated controversy and criticism. Critics, including the National Institute of Mental Health, argue that the DSM represents an unscientific and subjective system.[1] There are ongoing issues concerning the validity and reliability of the diagnostic categories; the reliance on superficial symptoms; the use of artificial dividing lines between categories and from "normality"; possible cultural bias; and medicalization of human distress.[2][3][4][5][6] The publication of the DSM, with tightly guarded copyrights, now makes APA over $5 million a year, historically totaling over $100 million.[7]" - from a Wiki I happened across.

I've been told that DSM has 'evolved' to the point of being almost useless, since, looked at a certain way, no human being is 'normal' :lol: - everything is a symptom of something - is that a valid criticism?

In the former Soviet Union, Psychological diagnosis were used to margenalize, stigmatize, and institutionalize political dissidents.

And here in the U.S. homosexuality has been classified as a disorder, and is now declassified.

And I'm pretty sure that when I was using the DSM IV, there was something in there called "gender identity disorder."

Does anybody know if that's still in there?

Does Caitlyn Jenner have a Psychological disorder by today's diagnostic standards?

I don't know, but that's really beside the point here.

The real question is whether anything has any real, objective value.

All I'm saying is that there are conceivible states of existence that are better than non-existence, and that there are things with intrinsic value (totally independent of whether we are consciously able to recognize their value, or of any personal judgment on our part.)

And in answer to that question, I submit these learned opinions.
The prevailing opinion that the Incoherence Argument is sound is an artefact of naivete about the extent to which semantics must mirror surface grammar."

Fleurbaey and Voorhoeve (as cited by Hilary Greaves): "The literature seems to have failed to see the difference between persons as concreteobjects and persons as they figure in ordinary discourse. A concrete object has properties only in the states in which it exists… But when we discuss possible people, the topic of our debate is not only concrete persons… it is persons as they are considered by evaluators of possible worlds"

Roberts, Holtug: A is better than B for s if A’s well-being level is higher in A than it is in B. And if s does not exist in A, then s’s well-being level in A is zero.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Sat Apr 09, 2016 11:49 am

No, Michael - I don't refer to you, as the prophet. That person no longer belongs to this group (or if they do, it is under another name and personally).

Our medical and psychological diagnostic systems are not perfect. And each person can be an expert or sounding board. For an approach to disease, I might consult a Native American medicine man or woman, conventional medical doctor and a homeopath. And it wouldn't be contradictory, to work with all these experts.

And if medical tests can't reveal a disease cause, i might consult an expert in Oriental Pulse Diagnosis or a medical intuitive.

And i would refer a person to talk to seminary trained and ordained clergy - on theological matters, academic professors with a PhD in philosophy - on philosophical matters, trained and licensed counselors, therapists and psychiatrists - on psychological matters and licensed medical doctors - on disease matters.

Now the experts and I, might see things differently. The theologians - for example - might say don't hang around the Native American, spiritual healing practices and ceremonies. Don't practice Zen and Mindfulness. And don't emulate historical figures, in the Holy Fools traditions. Even if these things bring fresh light and depth, to traditional Christian theology.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:08 pm

randylkemp wrote:No, Michael - I don't refer to you, as the prophet. That person no longer belongs to this group (or if they do, it is under another name and personally).

Thanks for clarifying that.

You could have been easily misunderstood (especially after some of the things said on this thread by another poster), and I wanted anyone reading along to clearly understand that you weren't refering to me.

I thank making that plain here.

randylkemp wrote:And I would refer a person to talk to seminary trained and ordained clergy - on theological matters

Would a Franciscan, seminary trained and ordained, Anglican Catholic Priest (who teaches Physics and Theology, and also happens to be a hopeful universalist) meet your criteria?

I've been in contact with such a man for five or six years now, and he's been very helpful.

And he's never found it necessary to qualify the statement that there are states of existence that are better than non-existence.


randylkemp wrote:academic professors with a PhD in philosophy - on philosophical matters.

Do you mean like Dr. Hilary Greaves, of Somerville College in Oxford, who wrote the paper I've been quoting here?

And the sources she cites in her paper (like Holtug, and Fleurbaey, and Voorhoeve)?
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:59 pm

Michael:

I always find a big difference between reading an expert, watching them on video, listening to them on audio - and talking to them in person.

For example:

    My friend Dora has a PhD from Oxford in biblical Archaeology from Oxford and a masters in counseling, from the University of Chicago. One of her sons is a leading pioneer in genetic modeling and a professor at Harvard. I had many conversations over the years wit them.
    I liked to talk with College of Dupage philosophy professors, who have PhD degrees in philosophy - when I took courses there. They have refreshing perspectives on philosophical matters
    My favorite professor was a psychiatrist, who used to teach courses in abnormal psychology. He was also an expert in existentialism, phenomenology, and Zen.
    Of course, hanging out with Indigenous medicine men and women, over the years - provided me with a wonderful learning experience.

Become friends with the experts and try to experience positive things - like a vision in the Lakota tradition, the satori experience of Zen, or a mystical experience of Christianity. Then come back down to earth and talk with the locals - like the folks on the forum here.

Probably I'll continue this dialogue tomorrow.

And if you can find them - like the TV and movie A-Team - hang out with folks from the Holy Fools tradition A-Team,.:D



Probably I'll continue this dialogue tomorrow.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Sat Apr 09, 2016 3:34 pm

randylkemp wrote:Michael:

I always find a big difference between reading an expert, watching them on video, listening to them on audio - and talking to them in person.

For face to face counselling I have my local parish priest, and for really deep Theological and Philosophical matters, I have my Franciscan friend in Sydney Australia.

Unfortunately, we have to communicate via email because I live on the other side of the world, but he's a truly outanding Theologian (and Scientist), and I'm fortunate to able to exchange emails with him.

And, of course, there's God (and the communion of saints.)

I think I asked for prayers for my dad in my opening post here.

Have you prayed for him?

Have you prayed for me?

Become friends with the experts and try to experience positive things - like a vision in the Lakota tradition, the satori experience of Zen, or a mystical experience of Christianity.

I have nothing against the prayer rope, the Jesus prayer, the rosary, or a mystical experience of Christianity--but I'm not into yoga, the satori experience of Zen, or sweat lodges.

Didn't some people out in California (or Arizona) die pursuing mystical experiences in sweat lodges not too long ago?

And don't such native American practices often involve using peyote (or other mind altering drugs) to induce mystical experiences?

Do you reccomend that?

If yoga, or zen, or these native American practices have any thraputic value, couldn't the same effects be acheived (much more scientifically, and safely) using biofeedback?

I will grant you one thing though.

I did know a medical doctor back in the eighties (in New Jersey) who's daughter was a chiropractor, and whenever I threw my back out he could adjust it by using a trick he said he learned from her.

It probably took less than a minute, and worked every time.

It was really amazing.

BTW: You never answered a question I asked you--do you deny the existence of anything that has intrinsic value?

Someone here said "Value is always a personal judgment"--do you share that opinion?

Do you consider all things relative?

Is there (in your opinion) no intrinsic, objective value to existence in a state of beatitude?

How do you feel about vivisection?

Maybe that's a bad example, because those in favor of it hope it will serve some higher purpose.

But is it true to say that it would be objectively wrong to do it for no purpose but to inflict pain on the animal?

Why?

And if you say it's wrong, is it wrong simply because that's your personal judgment, or mine, or God's--or is it wrong because some things have real, objective, intrinsic value?

Is causing another being to suffer for no purpose not wrong in itself, because existence in a state of suffering (for no purpose) is undesirable?

Or is comparing existence in pain to non-existence meaningless?

Would it be true to tell the owners of the famous race horse who was euthanized after that race with Secretariat
The intention was no doubt merciful, but you didn't achieve mercy if Ruffian ceased to exist (assuming for the moment that there's no afterlife for animals). Because ceasing to exist doesn't improve any condition of existence. You didn't improve her condition by killing her if she ceased to exist, so you didn't help her after all, even though you meant to help her.

Did these poor misguided humans do what they did only for themselves, when they thought they were doing it for the horse?

That's clearly what Jason is saying here, and I disagree with him.

Do you believe there would have been nothing wrong with the owners letting Ruffian go on suffering, as long as it didn't offend human sensibilities (or the angels, or God)?

Is it meaningless to say that a vivisection that served no higher purpose would still be wrong even if it didn't offend the sensibilities of anyone watching (human or divine)?

Would it be wrong to bring an animal into existence to perform such a vivisection, if you knew in advance that it would serve no higher purpose?

Would it be wrong to bring Ruffian into existence in a permanent state of suffering?

If you say "yes," and if you think the animal is in no meaningful sense any worse off existing in needless pain than it would be not existing, please explain why it would be wrong to bring it into that kind of existence.

These are philosophical questions, and this part of the forum is supposed to be a place where we can discuss philosophical questions.
Probably I'll continue this dialogue tomorrow.

Fine.

But it really shouldn't be about your education and job experience, my mental health (or the lack of it--or my education and job experience either for that matter), or Jason's mental health, qualification (or lack of qualification) to make psychological diagnosis, or personal failings.

It should be about the philosophical issues raised by the questions asked--and I'd like to know where you stand on some of them.

Do you agree with Richard Hooker, who said
Things are not good because God commands them; God commands certain things because he sees them to be good.


Or do you agree with the poster here, who said
Value is always a personal judgment

I agree with Hooker, and if we continue this dialogue tomorrow, maybe you can tell me which statement you agree with?

Till then (as my Franciscan friend and priest would say), Pax Et Bonum.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Sun Apr 10, 2016 3:54 am

"Each day you are on the concert stage of life so you better make it rock!"-- Frank McKinney


Michael wrote:Have you prayed for him?

Have you prayed for me?


To answer your questions, I always pray for people who request prayers. And I might direct folks to other sources for prayer:

    Catholic sources, like Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal or the Shine of Saint Jude
    To the new thought source Silent Unity
    Or the Protestant site Guideposts

Michael wrote:Didn't some people out in California (or Arizona) die pursuing mystical experiences in sweat lodges not too long ago?

And don't such native American practices often involve using peyote (or other mind altering drugs) to induce mystical experiences?

Do you recommend that?


Would you have a surgeon preform surgery on you, who took a correspondence course on surgery and got his approval from someone - like Donald Trump?

The person pouring the lodge you mentioned, was a new age person. They covered the lodge completely with a tarp. Anyone who knows anything about building lodges, knows you keep the bottom portion uncovered - so the lodge can get fresh oxygen and not have a
nitrogen buildup. Lodges should only be poured and supervised by either indigenous people, trained in how to do them. Or folks trained and approved, by the appropriate indigenous people.

As far as what people call peyote and "mind altering drugs", such things have been around for thousands of years. I neither endorse - nor condemn - such practices. Provided such ceremonies are done by an appropriate indigenous person, trained and approved to conduct such ceremonies. And such ceremonies are in accordance, with the federal laws, of the host country. But I am more familiar with such practices and ceremonies (I would never admit whether I ever participated), then probably anyone here is.

Michael wrote:If yoga, or zen, or these native American practices have any therapeutic value, couldn't the same effects be achieved (much more scientifically, and safely) using biofeedback?


Yes and no.

    If scientific gadgets can replace these traditions, then why is there a whole school of psychological therapy, devoted to mindfulness?
    And why does the medicine man in the Native Healing video, report so many healings of things like cancer? And a 100% success rate, for those who follow his directions?

Michael wrote:How do you feel about vivisection?

Maybe that's a bad example, because those in favor of it hope it will serve some higher purpose.

But is it true to say that it would be objectively wrong to do it for no purpose but to inflict pain on the animal?

Why?

And if you say it's wrong, is it wrong simply because that's your personal judgment, or mine, or God's--or is it wrong because some things have real, objective, intrinsic value?

Is causing another being to suffer for no purpose not wrong in itself, because existence in a state of suffering (for no purpose) is undesirable?

Or is comparing existence in pain to non-existence meaningless?


For answers to questions like these, go talk to:

    Ordained seminary trained theologians, in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant traditions
    Academic professors of philosophy and theology, with PhD degrees.
    Folks of other religions, like Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Bahais, and Sikhs

In most cases, they will guide you to historical and contemporary philosophical and theological experts to read - if they are the academic type. Or to church teachings, if they are affiliated with a particular church.

In answer to questions like these, I shared this at the beginning:

The key is to get the right advice - from the right people - then make a decision. I'll leave you and others to ponder, theological and philosophical answers - to your various questions. Except to say (like I have), see what the various Christian theologians, philosophers and different religions - have to say on your questions. Then make up your own mind.


It reminds me of a famous Zen story at Zen Story: A Cup of Tea - the best answers come from the silence

A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”


The key is to find what Zen masters, Holy Fools, indigenous holy and medicine people, and other such folks - find in the silence - that would help sustain them under all circumstances. It's internal - not external. Then you can sing like Brian does (Note: Monty Python is expressing artistic and historical comedy. It's NOT necessarily making fun of Christianity and the Crucifixion).

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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Sun Apr 10, 2016 9:49 pm

randylkemp wrote:As far as what people call peyote and "mind altering drugs", such things have been around for thousands of years. I neither endorse - nor condemn - such practices. Provided such ceremonies are done by an appropriate indigenous person, trained and approved to conduct such ceremonies. And such ceremonies are in accordance, with the federal laws, of the host country. But I am more familiar with such practices and ceremonies (I would never admit whether I ever participated), then probably anyone here is.


Probably.

But if peyote is a purple powder, I have seen it used.

I remember pulling a shift once with a guy who was using something he said was peyote, and I don't think he was native american.

I probably should have reported him for using an illegal substance on the job, but I didn't.

And since you seem to only be interested in talking about native americans, and their practices, when you're not talking about Buddhists and alternative medicine, I'll tell you about the only time I was ever traveled outside the United States.

It was when some friends and I were invited to a wedding on a Mohawk reservation in Ontario.

I've never seen an American reservation, but I've heard a lot of negative things about them, and I was impressed by how well the Canadians seemed to be treating their indigenous population in comparison to the way I had heard we were treating ours.

The Island of Cornwall is a beautiful, green, wooded area dotted with cottages, where the Mohawk enjoy year round hunting and fishing rights (and where their actually is game to hunt, and fish to catch.)

We were staying with the brides brother, and after the wedding reception, where we all probably had a little too much to drink (but no peyote), he wanted to show us a pig he said he was fattening up for some kind of spring fair.

He took us out to the barn, and when he opened the door this huge thing tried to kill us.

As a city boy, I never knew pigs could get so big, or be so angry, and I figured he must have known what our friend was planing to do to him in the spring.

Anyway, I know something about the Mohawk, and the eastern tribes, and I think what Andrew Jackson did to the Cherokee was a national disgrace--especiall when you consider he did it in defiance of the supreme court, was never impeached, and the Cherokee were a peaceful tribe of people living on farms and growing corn.

Davy Crocket was the only one who stood up for them in congress, and he lost re-election and ended up at the Alamo.

But so it goes.

Would you have a surgeon preform surgery on you, who took a correspondence course on surgery and got his approval from someone - like Donald Trump?

I've been a registered Republican since Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the house (and travelled to Syria when the state department asked her not to), but I'm hoping for a brokered convention, because I wouldn't vote for Donald Trump if he were running for dog catcher.

Some say a brokered convention would be ignoring the voters, but I've never understood why Democrats and Independents are allowed to vote in so many of our primaries (and I believe in all the early states that gave Donald Trump his lead in the delegate count), and I see no reason not to ignore the votes of Democrats and Independents who probably wanted us to have a weak candidate in the general election.

But I'm derailing my own thread here, aren't I?

Or did you do that--I forget.

Anyway, I like the Mohawk and the Cherokee, and I believe "Nvwadohiyadv" is a Cherokee word meanng much the same thing as "Shalom," or "Pax Et Bonum."

So I'll say "Nvwadohiyadv" to you.

And if anyone reading along is actually interested in the correct answers to the questions raised on this thread, I'll again submit these learned opinions (from trained Philosophers, with PHD's in Philosophy):

The prevailing opinion that the Incoherence Argument is sound is an artefact of naivete about the extent to which semantics must mirror surface grammar."

Hilary Greaves.
"The literature seems to have failed to see the difference between persons as concreteobjects and persons as they figure in ordinary discourse. A concrete object has properties only in the states in which itexists… But when we discuss possible people, the topic of our debate is not only concrete persons… it is persons as they are considered by evaluators of possible worlds…"

Fleurbaey and Voorhoeve
A is better than B for s if A’s well-being level is higher in A than it is in B. And if s does not exist in A, then s’s well-being level in A is zero.

Roberts, Holtug
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:31 am

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.
-- Shakespeare from Macbeth

When someone wishes to discuss the above soliloquy, along with the ramifications and bearing it has on their own life - a forum is NOT the proper place. The proper place is to defer them to:

    Theologians in a Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant church setting
    Academic philosophers with PhD degrees
    Licensed mental health professionals, with advanced degrees in counseling, psychiatry or psychology
    Licensed medical doctors

And if they are "remotely curious" regarding that soliloquy, then they should be directed to read contemporary and historical figures on philosophy, psychology, religion and theology - to find the answers for themselves.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:13 pm

randylkemp wrote:
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.
-- Shakespeare from Macbeth

When someone wishes to discuss the above soliloquy, along with the ramifications and bearing it has on their own life - a forum is NOT the proper place. The proper place is to defer them to:

    Theologians in a Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant church setting
    Academic philosophers with PhD degrees
    Licensed mental health professionals, with advanced degrees in counseling, psychiatry or psychology
    Licensed medical doctors

And if they are "remotely curious" regarding that soliloquy, then they should be directed to read contemporary and historical figures on philosophy, psychology, religion and theology - to find the answers for themselves.

For your information, that soliloquy is from Hamlet--not Macbeth.

And Hilary Greaves et al are contemporary athorites on Philosophy.

I don't know if you have a Master's in psychology (as you say you do), but you certainly don't seem to know much about Shakespeare (or Philosophy), and dating someone who has a PHD in something doesn't make you an expert in anything.

I'm curious as to why you jumped into the discussion to begin with.

Did someone ask you to?

(If so I would suspect they're somewhat disapointed in your performance about now, and you probably should have asked them to fight their own battles.)
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:41 pm

Michael wrote:For your information, that soliloquy is from Hamlet--not Macbeth.

And Hilary Greaves et al are contemporary anchorites on Philosophy.

I don't know if you have a Master's in psychology (as you say you do), but you certainly don't seem to know much about Shakespeare (or Philosophy), and dating someone who has a PHD in something doesn't make you an expert in anything.

I'm curious as to why you jumped into the discussion to begin with.

Did someone ask you to?

(If so I would suspect they're somewhat disappointed in your performance about now, and you probably should have asked them to fight their own battles.)


My Masters in Psychology is from Norwich University. finished in August 1995.

And I had my share of philosophy courses, from Aurora University and the college of Dupage. Considering I usually got A's in the courses, must mean the professors thought I was learning something regarding philosophy,.

It's easy for me to make mistakes in things like Macbeth vs Hamlet, as I like to Multitask. And sometimes I multitask in different languages, like French, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.

And I don't date someone with a PhD. I hang around folks with PhD degrees, as well as uneducated, blue collar workers. I often find the blue collar workers, the wiser of the lot.

And I jumped in, because Jason asked if anyone else, had anything to say to you.

And it would appropriate, in accordance with the Holy Fools tradition. And I'm too weird and strange, for anyone to normally upset or rattle me. :!: :lol:
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:07 pm

randylkemp wrote:It's easy for me to make mistakes in things like Macbeth vs Hamlet, as I like to Multitask.

That speech is one of the most famous in western literature, and it wouldn't be easy for anyone who's actually read Shakespeare to somehow confuse Hamlet with Macbeth.

Hamlet strugles with avengering his father's murder, and MacBeth is himself a murderer.

The plays are entirely different, and in different settings.

One is set in Scotland, and one is set in Denmark.
randylkemp wrote:And sometimes I multitask in different languages, like French, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.

I'll have to take your word on that (and, as I believe you're anonymous here, on your academic and professional credentials too.)

But you should at least recognize an associate Prof. of Philosophy at Somerville College in Oxford University as a contemporary figure in Philosophy.

And recognize the sources she cites in a published paper as contemporary figures.
randylkemp wrote:And I don't date someone with a PhD.

Sorry.

I misunderstood you here.
randylkemp wrote:As someone who has a masters in psychology and a lifelong friend of a brilliant, Greek Orthodox woman (M.S. counseling - University of Chicago, PhD in biblical Archaeology - Oxford), with here own counseling practice - I have this to add. Michael - talk to the right people.

My bad.

But why aren't Greaves, Fleurbaey, Voorhoeve, and Roberts the right people?
randylkemp wrote:And I jumped in, because Jason asked

I thought so.

Thank you.
Last edited by Michael on Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:17 pm

hi Michael:

I do recognize the sources in philosophy you cite. Multitasking means you are working on several things - usually complex - at the same time. So simple mistakes can be made, as I don't have time to review and rectify them all.

Tonight I am watching Super girl, Scorpion and NCIS LA on TV. The only other pressing thing (that can take me away from this forum), is a new episode of the Walking Dead, the Flash or Fear the Walking Dead.

I think the keywords for these shows are Zombies, Superheroes and Geniuses.

So I might not be able to continue until tomorrow. Take care. :D
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:47 pm

randylkemp wrote:hi Michael:

I do recognize the sources in philosophy you cite.

Thank you for finally doing that--instead of just repeatedly saying "if you have questions about philosophy, you should look to philosophers" (or some other words to that effect.)

I did look to proffesional philosophers when I found my own vocabulary insuffeciant to address Jason's semantic arguments, and they were helpful.

I've cited those philosophers here, and this section of the forum is supposed to be a place where people can discuss philosophy.

So once again, these are the citations that address Jason's "incoherence argument":

Hilary Greaves.
The prevailing opinion that the Incoherence Argument is sound is an artefact of naivete about the extent to which semantics must mirror surface grammar."

Fleurbaey and Voorhoeve
The literature seems to have failed to see the difference between persons as concrete objects and persons as they figure in ordinary discourse. A concrete object has properties only in the states in which it exists… But when we discuss possible people, the topic of our debate is not only concrete persons… it is persons as they are considered by evaluators of possible worlds

Roberts, Holtug
A is better than B for s if A’s well-being level is higher in A than it is in B. And if s does not exist in A, then s’s well-being level in A is zero.


P.S. One reason I've cited Philosophers who I believe offer perfectly sound answers to the "incoherence argument against existence comparativism" is for the benefit of anyone reading along--who may be struggling to hang in here under difficult circumstances (as I have been.)

If you tell yourself (or let someone else tell you) something long enough, you may come to believe it.

And I believe thinking that no state of existence is any better or worse than non-existence is unhealthy (and can effect the way you feel about life.)

The idea that thoughts can cause unhealthy emotions is the very basis of cognitive behavioral therapy, and I suppose I do see some merit in that particular school of Psychotherapy.

I certainly believe that (unless there's some proven bio/chemical basis to an individual's depression) that approach is better than the pharmacological approach.

And I suspect that for most people, it would probably be more helpful than zen or sitting in a sweat lodge.

What do you think counselor?
Last edited by Michael on Thu Apr 14, 2016 6:57 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Tue Apr 12, 2016 4:02 am

Michael wrote:
P.S. One reason I've cited Philosophers who I believe offer perfectly sound answers to the "incoherence argument against existence comparativism" is for the benefit of anyone reading along--who may be struggling to hang in here under difficult circumstances (as I have been.)

If you tell yourself (or let someone else tell you) something long enough, you may come to believe it.

And I believe thinking that no state of existence is any better or worse than non-existence is unhealthy (and can effect the way you feel about life.)

The idea that thoughts can cause unhealthy emotions is the very basis of cognitive behavioral therapy, and I suppose I do see some merit in that particular school of Psychotherapy.

I certainly believe that (unless there's some proven bio/chemical basis to an individual's depression) that approach is better than the pharmacological approach.

And I suspect that for most people, it would probably be more helpful than zen or sitting in a sweat lodge.

What do you think counselor?


Image

Philosophy is fun to read and study. If you must take that direction, then figure out how folks like Aristotle, Socrates, Buddha, Nietzsche, Laozi, Confucius, Kant and Sartre...would respond to Shakespeare's "To be or not to be" soliloquy. Or to put it in musical terms. How would someone with a PhD in music, play a particular Beatles tune, in the style of Mozart, Bach or Beethoven?

But I'm a pragmatic person. In other words, I look for what works - regardless of source.

Image

If a person is suffering from depression, I strongly feel that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the best therapeutic approaches. It could be better than psycho-pharmacology. But again, that determination must be made by a licensed mental health professional and/or licensed medical doctor.

And regardless how folks might view it, homeopathy (under the guidance of a licensed medical doctor), has many remedies for treating depression.

Image

And if you find an indigenous person, trained and approved by the right Native people, to conduct a sweat lodge... And if they invite you to join them... it's one of the best healing moralities around. Considering they have four rounds and the third round is a healing round, what does that tell you? And if you ever did have a chance to experience an authentic Native American ayahuasca or peyote ceremony, you might find many healings take place there.

Image

And mindfulness is a school of therapy. If someone wants to find out about whether it's better to exist or not exist, then practicing Zen and mindfulness, is a great way to find the answers.

Image

And you know what? There's no better philosophical and theological construct then the Zombie, for talking about existence and non-existence. Considering that theological exile is a current alternative to ECT, annihilation and universalism. And philosophers like to talk about philosophical zombies or the P-zombie. Would a P-Zombie really be existing or non-existing, is a very deep, philosophical question.


Image

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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:33 pm

I'd like to take this oportunity here to thank the only two posters on this forum who've ever said anything on this subject that was it all helpful to me (or is at all likely to be helpful to anyone else.)

First, Pilgrim.
pilgrim wrote:Interesting discussion Michael and you raise some good points. I really would encourage others to reply to your questions as well as raise questions/criticisms of their own. When they do not, then IMO it only emphasises the weakness of their position.
I also do not believe that any person kills a horse in order to make himself/herself feel better.
Whether the mlogic is sound or not, lets be thoughtful and admit that the killing is done because the killer believes the animal is better off not existing any longer.
God bless you

Prof. Nils Holtug on the Positive Value of Existence

And now (more recently), Geoffrey.
Geoffrey wrote:If I understand you correctly, I agree with you, and so does all mankind.

Suppose people were given a stark choice, and they knew that one of the following two things would happen without any possibility of doubt:

1. You can immediately drop dead and simply cease to exist.

or

2. You can immediately drop dead and find yourself in Dante's Inferno and never get out.

Virtually every single person on earth would choose option #1. Everybody knows it's better to not be than to be in Dante's Inferno. Only someone not faced with the reality of this choice could possibly argue otherwise.

Comparing Existence & Non-Existence, by Dr Hilary Greaves

The above comments were constructive, on topic, and helpful.

The one below was not.
If a person is suffering from depression, I strongly feel that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the best therapeutic approaches. It could be better than psycho-pharmacology. But again, that determination must be made by a licensed mental health professional and/or licensed medical doctor.

If I had continued my studies, instead of caring for my parents, I could have been a licensed proffessional by now.

But I would have flunked out on life if I had put my education and career goals ahead of their needs.

And I doubt such a license can provide someone with the temperment, logic, or clearness of thought necessary to really help someone who's situationally induced depression has been worsened by swallowing the unhealthy thoughts suggested by a published author he's (wrongly) come to think of as his intellectual superior (as I once thought of Jason.)

It apparently takes something more (maybe common sense, maybe just empathy) to know that talk of zombies, and posting the kind of images you've posted here, is in poor tast on a thread started by someone with a loved one in ICU.
...Whether the mlogic is sound or not, lets be thoughtful and admit that the killing is done because the killer believes the animal is better off not existing any longer.

Thanks again pilgrim.

And it would seem the only argument against mlogic is a semantic agument that (at least some) "contemporary figures in philosophy" have recognized and exposed (for what it is):

Hilary Greaves
The prevailing opinion that the Incoherence Argument is sound is an artefact of naivete about the extent to which semantics must mirror surface grammar.

Fleurbaey and Voorhoeve
The literature seems to have failed to see the difference between persons as concrete objects and persons as they figure in ordinary discourse. A concrete object has properties only in the states in which it exists… But when we discuss possible people, the topic of our debate is not only concrete persons… it is persons as they are considered by evaluators of possible worlds

Roberts, Holtug
A is better than B for s if A’s well-being level is higher in A than it is in B. And if s does not exist in A, then s’s well-being level in A is zero.

Many thanks to Greaves, Fleurbaey, Voorhoeve, Roberts, and Holtug.

No thanks to real or pretended "licensed proffesionals" who use philosophical discussion forums to mock and ridicule those asking philosophical questions (and especially not of they really consider their targets to weak, vulnerable, or mentally ill.)
Last edited by Michael on Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:02 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:57 am

Let me ask you some questions, Michael:

    You cite your own knowledge of psychology and behavior. Tell me. Does a physician normally operate on themselves? Does a lawyer normally represent themselves in court? Does a psychologist try to resolve their own personal problems?
    Why do you look to philosophy to resolve the "to be or not to be" dilemma, when the field of psychology teaches us that feelings and emotions - much more so than thoughts, logic, reason and intellect - govern our reaction to Shakespeare's soliloquy?
    Once I talked to a Native American elder, regarding a sun dancer (the sun dance is a sacred Native American ceremony), who killed themselves. His response was they continue their problems in the afterlife. And this person just made their problems 10 times worse for themselves. Do you wish to wager - like the philosopher Pascal (with his wager) - that the Native American elder is wrong?
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:16 am

randylkemp wrote:Let me ask you some questions, Michael:...Does a psychologist try to resolve their own personal problems?

Freud did.
Freud revealed to Wilhelm Fliess, a close friend,
that “the most important patient for me was my own person.”

That actually answers two of your questions, because he was both a psychologist and a medical doctor (and he was treating himself.)
randylkemp wrote:Why do you look to philosophy to resolve the "to be or not to be" dilemma, when the field of psychology teaches us that feelings and emotions - much more so than thoughts, logic, reason and intellect - govern our reaction to Shakespeare's soliloquy?

Freudians, Jungians, Adlerians would probably say that feelings and emotions govern our reaction to such things as Shakespeare's soliloquy, but Aaron Beck would say that faulty thinking creates unhealthy emotions (and I suppose I subscribe more to the cognitive behavioral school of pscychology than the Freudian, or Jungian, or Adlerian.)
randylkemp wrote:Once I talked to a Native American elder, regarding a sun dancer, who killed themselves. His response was they continue their problems in the afterlife. And this person just made them 10 times worse for themselves. Do you wish to wager - like the philosopher Pascal (with his wager) - that the Native American elder is wrong?[/list]

I'm not suicidal.

Is it possible you're projecting here?

Neither Pascal's wager, or my point recarding meaningful ways of compare states of existence to non-existence, have anything to do with enchoraging anyone to commit suicide--quite the contrary.

Neither Pascal's wager is the argument that it is in one's own best interest to behave as if God exists, since the possibility of eternal punishment in hell outweighs any advantage of believing otherwise.

And my point is that there are conceivible states of existence that are better (heaven) and worse (hell) than non-existence.

Denying there are such states of existence robs hell (whether it's viewed as eternal and punative, or temporal and remedial) of it's deternt value , and robs heaven of it's incentive value.

It's an unhealthy line of thought offered to me when I was greiving, by a man who had complaints about the condition of his own existence I wont share here, to defend an argument in a book he wrote (and recommended to me at the time.)

When I pointed out what I believed was a fauty argument in a poorly wriiten passge, he chose to continuallly re-iterate and defend what Prof. Greaves calls "the incoherence argument" against existence comparativism.

He then chose to first attack, and then ignore me.

And when I brought the issue of existence comparativism up on the philosophy forum here, he chose in continue justifying himself, attacking me, ridiculling the issue, contradicting himself, and to publicly defend what I believe to be an unhealthy line of though likely to cause unhealthy feelings in any depressed persons reading along.

I've felt obliged to offer a more healthy line of thought here.

God is good, there are meaningful ways you can legitimately say certain sttes of existence are better of worse than non-existence, and life is a gift.

There is nothing unhealthy or suicidal in that, and all you've done is to jump in here (at someone else's request, I understand) and defend yourself (and your less than orthodox views on sweat lodges, shamanism, peyote, and other mood altering drugs.)

Why do you and Jason keep trying to construct a straw man?
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:29 am

Some more questions for you.

    "Orthodox" depends on what statistical group is doing the judging. And upon your "frame of reference". If you ask indigenous people, sweat lodges are orthodox. To Buddhists, meditation is Orthodox. Even to those in the scientific community, meditation is orthodox. The Eastern Orthodox has a form of meditation called Hesychasm. And Catholics and Anglicans use the Keating's centering prayer. What is your frame of reference, to determining something is "non-orthodox"?
    You cite one professional friends opinion. Does his opinion necessarily represent a majority viewpoint, as determined by statistical polling?
    Obviously, I know what Pascal's wager is. But I was referring to a bet - like Pascal made. Not necessarily the content.
    And what "exactly" did i say on "mind altering drugs"? I said I neither endorse - nor object to - authentic Native American peyote and Ayahuasca ceremonies, performed by the appropriate indigenous people. As long as such ceremonies are in accordance with the federal laws, of the host country. After all, these ceremonies have been going on for thousands of years - long before Columbus arrived on the scene. And many healings have been reported. The only other "mind altering drug" I would would feel comfortable with, is medical cannabis. Provided it's done by a licensed medical doctor, with the blessings of the American Medical Association and the federal government.
    You cited Freud and his group of disciples, along with their corresponding theories. But each theorist and follower of Freud - no matter how brilliant (I like Jung the best - by the way), had competing theories. And none were in agreement with each other. But have you done a comprehensive search, on what experimental psychology and statistical analysis, has to say on feelings and how they affect reality?

Image
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:41 am

randylkemp wrote:You sited Freud and his group of disciples, along with their corresponding theories. But have you done a comprehensive search, on what experimental psychology and statistical analysis, has to say on feelings on how they affect reality?[/list]

I've studied Freud, Adler, Jung, and Beck (who wasn't a disciple of Freud BTW), and I know Beck believed that the way we feel is created by the way we think--that thoughts give rise to feelings as often (if not more often) than feelings give rise to thoughts.

It's been a long time since I did academic classwork, but I also know there's empirical evidence to support that conclusion.

And I haven't been considering suicide, or enchoraging anyone else to consider suicide here.

Again, why do you keep trying to construct a straw man?
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:45 am

Michael wrote:
randylkemp wrote:You sited Freud and his group of disciples, along with their corresponding theories. But have you done a comprehensive search, on what experimental psychology and statistical analysis, has to say on feelings on how they affect reality?[/list]

I've studied Freud, Adler, Jung, and Beck (who wasn't a discipe of Freud BTW), and I know Beck believed that the way we feel is created by the way we think--that thoughts give rise to feelings as often (if not more often) than feelings give rise to thoughts.

It's been a long time since I did academic classwork, but I also know there's emptrical evidence to support that conclusion.

And I haven't been considering suicide, or enchoraging anyone else to consider suicide here.

Again, why are you trying to derail this thread by constructing a straw man?


I take you at your word, that you haven't contemplated suicide. So my major concern is addressed. However, when people make statements and take them as philosophical, psychological, scientific or theological statements of fact or truth, it is appropriate to ask questions - in order to understand things - like Socrates would in ancient Greece.

And here are my questions and commentary again:

    "Orthodox" depends on what statistical group is doing the judging. And upon your "frame of reference". If you ask indigenous people, sweat lodges are orthodox. To Buddhists, meditation is Orthodox. Even to those in the scientific community, meditation is orthodox. The Eastern Orthodox has a form of meditation called Hesychasm. And Catholics and Anglicans use the Keating's centering prayer. What is your frame of reference, to determining something is "non-orthodox"?
    You cite one professional friends opinion. Does his opinion necessarily represent a majority viewpoint, as determined by statistical polling?
    Obviously, I know what Pascal's wager is. But I was referring to a bet - like Pascal made. Not necessarily the content.
    And what "exactly" did i say on "mind altering drugs"? I said I neither endorse - nor object to - authentic Native American peyote and Ayahuasca ceremonies, performed by the appropriate indigenous people. As long as such ceremonies are in accordance with the federal laws, of the host country. After all, these ceremonies have been going on for thousands of years - long before Columbus arrived on the scene. And many healings have been reported. The only other "mind altering drug" I would feel comfortable with, is medical cannabis. Provided it's done by a licensed medical doctor, with the blessings of the American Medical Association and the federal government.
    You cited Freud and his group of disciples, along with their corresponding theories. But each theorist and follower of Freud - no matter how brilliant (I like Jung the best - by the way), had competing theories. And none were in agreement with each other. But have you done a comprehensive search, on what experimental psychology and statistical analysis, has to say on feelings and how they affect reality?


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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:25 pm

randylkemp wrote: I take you at your word, that you haven't contemplated suicide.

I said "I haven't been" contemplating suicide, and I thank you for taking me at my word.

And I thank you for any prayers you have actually offered for my dad.

He's pretty sick right now, but there's at least one doctor who thinks he could recover, and prayers are appreciated.

I just told dad today that I appreciate his hanging in here with me as long as he has, and that I hope he can hang in here with me a little longer.

But I told him that if he has to leave, that's o'kay too, because I know there's a better place, and I'll hang in here as long as I have to.

There being states of existence that are better than non-existence (and that are capable of outweighing the states of existence we may sometimes have to endure in this fallen world) is what this thread is all about, not suicide.

And there's really nothing funny about an ICU, so please stop trying to be funny by posting cartoons, and snippets from silly t.v. shows (like "the A team," where people were routinely shot with rapid fire automatic machine guns, but never died.)

I find these attempts at humor in the context of this thread offensive, and I haven't the time to do "statistical analysis," or to answer your questions right now.

And especially not when you haven't answered mine (and when I doubt you remember what those questions were, or even took any notice of them to begin with.)

I asked you if you believe that anything (such as life, or love) has intrinsic value, or whether you see everything as relevant (and dependant on personal judgment.)

You never answered that question, but here's a Psalm we read in Church today (at the 7:30 a.m. morning prayer service, at Saint Paul's Anglican Church, in Crownsville Md.)

"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you."

Psalm 63:3.

I take this to mean that life is good, and love is better.

Do you agree or disagree?

Pax Et Bonum.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Thu Apr 14, 2016 3:51 am

Michael wrote:
I find these attempts at humor in the context of this thread offensive, and I haven't the time to do "statistical analysis," or to answer your questions right now.

And especially not when you haven't answered mine (and when I doubt you remember what those questions were, or even took any notice of them to begin with.)

I asked you if you believe that anything (such as life, or love) has intrinsic value, or whether you see everything as relevant (and dependant on personal judgment.)

You never answered that question, but here's a Psalm we read in Church today (at the 7:30 a.m. morning prayer service, at Saint Paul's Anglican Church, in Crownsville Md.)

"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you."

Psalm 63:3.

I take this to mean that life is good, and love is better.

Do you agree or disagree?

Pax Et Bonum.


I notice you make great leaps in arriving at faulty conclusions. Like - "I'm dating someone with a PhD degree". If I wish to date anyone at all, it will probably be a Femme fatale. As a literary type of character, the concept would be intriguing. So you are either working with faulty premises, don't read what is written or are trying to imitate the Jerry Seinfeld and DC Comics Bizarro world. :lol:

Humor is part of the Holy Fools tradition. Everyone here is supposed to be true to their Christian beliefs and practices. For me, I fully embrace the Holy Fools tradition in Christianity. And the Socratic method in philosophy.

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In fact, in Simeon the Holy Fool, we find this:

Simeon entered the gate of Emesa (after spending many years in desert) dragging a dead dog. Schoolchildren saw him and shouted (κράζειν) "Hey, a crazy abba...". The next day, a Sunday, he entered the church, extinguished the lights and threw nuts at women. On the way out of the church, Simeon overturned (έστρεψεν) the tables of the pastry chefs (πλακουντάριοι).[3] Such playing the fool was subject to insults, abuse and beatings, which Simeon endured with patience. In spite of his seemingly strange behaviour, Simeon the Holy Fool healed many possessed people by his prayer, fed the hungry, preached the Gospel, and helped needy citizens of the town. Many of Simeon’s saintly deeds were done secretly.[4]


If you wish to see how I view things, then look though the section marked theology, at the bottom (or any of the other links I provided). Since it is placed in an introduction section, one can only ask clarifying questions there. But it is about 46 pages long and will give you my world view on things. Your questions need complex theological and philosophical responses. I would prefer that you study contemporary and historical philosophers - both Eastern and Western (along with historical and contemporary theologians) - and arrive at these answers yourself. That's why I have avoided giving answers - like the Zen masters would. But judging how you responded to Jason, you appear to already have preconceived answers - to your questions at hand. So are you here to just "collect opinions"?

Image

If you take any position of Christian faith (Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, universalist, etc.), then you already have a positive spin on life - like I do. Christianity is the main course meal. Anything else (sweat lodges, Buddhist meditation, and philosophy), are there as side dishes. Or they help make the journey in this life smoother. Or they give additional perspective, on the Christian message. In fact, many people in the Native World, would be members of the Roman Catholic Church and also attend their Native American ceremonies. And they also use the white man's medicine and the spiritual and herbal medicine - of the medicine people. And there are Roman Catholic clergy that practice Zen and open up ashrams in India.

And not everything can be placed in the logical blocks of philosophy. God is a divine mystery, as the Eastern Orthodox correctly point out. And philosophy - a man made discipline - does have its limitations.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Thu Apr 14, 2016 6:43 am

randylkemp wrote:If you take any position of Christian faith (Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, universalist, etc.), then you already have a positive spin on life - like I do. Christianity is the main course meal. Anything else (sweat lodges, Buddhist meditation, and philosophy), are there as side dishes. Or they help make the journey in this life smoother. Or they give additional perspective, on the Christian message. In fact, many people in the Native World, would be members of the Roman Catholic Church and also attend their Native American ceremonies.

Good.

Then I can assum you agree with this?

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we, thine unworthy servants, do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and lovingkindness to us, and to all men; We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful; and that we show forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

(Morning office, book of common prayer, general thanksgiving.)

And can say "Amen" to this?
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise him, all creatures here below; Praise him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

If you can, there's nothing all that complicated here, and no need to complicat the issue with a semantic argument some "contemporary figures" in philosophy recognize as specious.
...judging how you responded to Jason, you appear to already have preconceived answers

My only "preconception," affirmed by the universal church of all ages, and supported by the contemporary figures in philosophy you asked for (and by human instinct, as testified by Geoffrey and pilgrim) is that there are possible states of existence that are better and worse than non-existence, life (with it's possibilities and potential for happiness, here and hereafter) is a blessing, and creation is an act of love--an unselfish gift from a good God, for which creatures can ultimately be truly grateful.

All I asked you was whether you could agree with this, and all I was ever really interested in from Jason was whether he could (or whether he really believes existence can't be any better or worse than non-existence, as he said in a book he recommended to me in a time of grief.)

I'll end by again quoting Hilary Greaves (a proffesor, and trained Philosopher with Oxford University.)
The prevailing opinion that the Incoherence Argument is sound is an artefact of naivete about the extent to which semantics must mirror surface grammar


And I'd be interested in anything anyone else has to say here.

Pax Et Bonum.

P.S. I've just corrected some punctuation errors and typos in my previous posts, but the substance remains the same.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:11 am

Michael wrote:All I asked you was whether you could agree with this, and all I was ever really interested in from Jason was whether he could (or whether he really believes existence can't be any better or worse than non-existence, as he said in a book he recommended to me in a time of grief.)


Now I'm off for a while. So I would have to respond later. But this question raises other questions: Why are you asking this question? What do you hope to learn? What is it you hope to achieve? And how will you know, when you find the "right" answer or a "satisfying" answer? And how many learned scholars, folks on this board, etc., need to agree with an answer, before you determine it's "right" or "satisfying"?
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:31 am

randylkemp wrote:Why are you asking this question?

For the benefit of those reading along, any of whom may be facing the same challenges I have, and may have been disturbed by the issues raised (and insufficiently addressed) here on the philosophy forum (when my discussion with Jason went public.)
randylkemp wrote:What do you hope to learn?

Nothing.

By the grace of God I've already worked these things out.
randylkemp wrote:What is it you hope to achieve?

To make sure that nothing I said, or that Jason has said (or that you or anyone else says, on a topic heading I'm responsible for) prevents any creature from being "heartily greatful" to his or her Creator.
randylkemp wrote:And how will you know, when you find the "right" answer or a "satisfying" answer? And how many learned scholars, folks on this board, etc., need to agree with an answer, before you determine it's "right" or "satisfying"?

I'm quite satisfied that Jason has been arguing pure semantics all along, and that striped of the semantics, he has no argument.

And it is (or should be) perfectly obvious to any rational human being that states of existence can be bettter or worse than none existence.

That's why it was obvious to pilgrim that no one euthanizes a horse
in order to make himself/herself feel better.

And it was obvious to Geoffrey that no rational being would knowingly choose Dante's inferno over non-existence.
I agree with you, and so does all mankind.

Suppose people were given a stark choice, and they knew that one of the following two things would happen without any possibility of doubt:

1. You can immediately drop dead and simply cease to exist.

or

2. You can immediately drop dead and find yourself in Dante's Inferno and never get out.

Virtually every single person on earth would choose option #1. Everybody knows it's better to not be than to be in Dante's Inferno. Only someone not faced with the reality of this choice could possibly argue otherwise.

I would hasten to add here that even if Jason tries to point out that you'd have to exist before you could make such a choice, that's really irrelevant.

All that observation proves is that a non-existent "possible person" is unable to recognize the intrinsic value in anything life has to offer.

It doesn't mean there aren't things that have real, objective, intrinsic value (totally apart from an actual, living creature's ability to recognize such value.)

It doesn't mean, in Jason's words, that "all value is a matter of personal judgment."

That the life, and love, and happiness, and joy that existence has to offer only have value because of some arbitrary personal judgment on our parts.

It doesn't mean that, or that a hellish existence in Dante's inferno would only be bad if that were our opinion (and would really be no worse than non-existence.)

That's nonsense based on double talk, and that's why Proff. Greaves (of Oxford) could say
The prevailing opinion that the Incoherence Argument is sound is an artefact of naivete about the extent to which semantics must mirror surface grammar

But whether published authors, licensed counsellors, proffesional philosophers, ordained clergy, or ordinary folk and family members--we all have resposibilities to one another.

And those responsibilities cannot be escaped.

I can't avoid my responsibilities to my father here in CCU, or to you and Jason, and Geoffrey, and pilgrim, and others on this forum (many of whom may have read these threads without ever commenting on them.)

And you can't avoid your responsibilities to me, and them.

That's why saint James said

"Be not many teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive greater judgment." (James 3:1.)

Jason became a teacher when his first fiction and non-fiction books were published, when he started posting here, and when he recommended one of his books to me in a time of grief.

You became a teacher when you jumped in this discussion.

And I became a teacher when I started posting here.

Whether you believe in UR or not, we're judged by the things we say and do, and we all have responsibilities that cannot be avoided.

I believe there are states of existence that are better and worse than non-existence, and I want to live up to my responsibilities here as well as humanely possible (to walk in all the good works that God has before ordained that I should walk in, and to join those who have loved me in a place of bliss when my life here on earth is over.)

Do I sound mentally ill to you counsellor?

Pax Et Bonum (Peace and Salvation) to all.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:28 am

Michael wrote:Do I sound mentally ill to you counselor?

Pax Et Bonum (Peace and Salvation) to all.


Nobody would make that determination, by what somebody says - or doesn't say - on a forum alone. Or in any other social media outlet, like Facebook, Twitter, etc. That has to be determined by the appropriate licensed professionals (i.e. counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists). And they would want to see a person in person. Let's just wait and see, if anyone else responds to your forum post here. I'll try to stay out of the way on this particular thread - going forward. Unless someone says somethings that's "off the wall." Or someone attacks something I've said. Sound OK to you :?: :D
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:18 am

randylkemp wrote:Nobody would make that determination, by what somebody says - or doesn't say - on a forum alone. Or in any other social media outlet, like Facebook, Twitter, etc...I'll try to stay out of the way on this particular thread - going forward. Unless someone says somethings that's "off the wall."

Of course counsellor.

I should have worded myself more carefully (as others should sometimes.)

What I wanted to ask you was if anything I said here sounded irrational, or "off the wall" to you?

Can you answer that?
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:29 pm

Michael wrote:Of course counsellor.

I should have worded myself more carefully (as others should sometimes.)

What I wanted to ask you was if anything I said here sounded irrational, or "off the wall" to you?

Can you answer that?


Sure. Nothing you said so far, sounded off the wall to me - based upon your answers to my questions. Let's see if anyone else has any input for you. :D
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:38 pm

Thank you.

And God bless (all of us.)
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby pilgrim » Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:38 pm

Hi Michael. May God bless you.
I'm sorry to learn of the severe trials you have been enduring particularly through 2015. I pray that better days will be yours in 2016.
I have been following this thread since its inception but have not contributed until this time because I have little to add to what I have previously stated.
My opinion is that there is universal practice which far outweighs the musings of philosophers (both academic and amateur). That universal practice is the following: should an animal be enduring a persistent and relentless existence of suffering, then euthanasia is the kindest action and is readily applied. The logic seems to be that for any non-human creature, when it is within our power to end this present miserable existence it is our duty to do so. I don't think any speculation about a post-mortem state of existence (or not) or about the quality of any post-mortem existence, is relevant to the decision. The decision is based on the fact that the continuation of the present existence is bad.This universal practice makes sense to me for non-theists and theists alike. The Judaeo-Christian theists believe that we humans have been charged with stewardship over the animal kingdom and it is our duty to do the kindest thing which is to end an existence of intolerable pain.

When it comes to the euthenasia of humans, I believe that for non-theists (materialists say), the logic outlined above carries through and we are seeing its practice increasing as atheistic influence in our western culture increases. This makes complete sense to me. However, for many people of faith, the situation may be very different. It is quite possible that the termination of this present existence may result in a new-birth into a further existence and it is also possible that the quality of that 'further existence' may be influenced by the action of terminating our (or another's) 'earthly' existence. To put it plainly, I am saying that it may or may not be a grievous sin to terminate the life of a human and there may or may not be severe consequences (in another life) for that sin.

It is true that ONE interpretation of the biblical statement re Judas "better for that man if he had not been born" is that Judas' non-existence would have been preferable to his existence. Food for thought even though I am fully aware of different interpretations of that scripture.
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Re: Open Question to Theists and non-Theists

Postby Michael » Thu Apr 14, 2016 3:25 pm

pilgrim wrote:Hi Michael. May God bless you.
I'm sorry to learn of the severe trials you have been enduring particularly through 2015. I pray that better days will be yours in 2016.
I have been following this thread since its inception but have not contributed until this time because I have little to add to what I have previously stated.
My opinion is that there is universal practice which far outweighs the musings of philosophers (both academic and amateur). That universal practice is the following: should an animal be enduring a persistent and relentless existence of suffering, then euthanasia is the kindest action and is readily applied. The logic seems to be that for any non-human creature, when it is within our power to end this present miserable existence it is our duty to do so. I don't think any speculation about a post-mortem state of existence (or not) or about the quality of any post-mortem existence, is relevant to the decision. The decision is based on the fact that the continuation of the present existence is bad.This universal practice makes sense to me for non-theists and theists alike. The Judaeo-Christian theists believe that we humans have been charged with stewardship over the animal kingdom and it is our duty to do the kindest thing which is to end an existence of intolerable pain.

When it comes to the euthenasia of humans, I believe that for non-theists (materialists say), the logic outlined above carries through and we are seeing its practice increasing as atheistic influence in our western culture increases. This makes complete sense to me. However, for many people of faith, the situation may be very different. It is quite possible that the termination of this present existence may result in a new-birth into a further existence and it is also possible that the quality of that 'further existence' may be influenced by the action of terminating our (or another's) 'earthly' existence. To put it plainly, I am saying that it may or may not be a grievous sin to terminate the life of a human and there may or may not be severe consequences (in another life) for that sin.

It is true that ONE interpretation of the biblical statement re Judas "better for that man if he had not been born" is that Judas' non-existence would have been preferable to his existence. Food for thought even though I am fully aware of different interpretations of that scripture.

Thank you pilgrim.

I very much appreciate your prayers, and your comments here are very welcome.

Your post is on topic, your thoughts are worded clearly, and I believe your logic is impeccable.

Thank you very much.

P.S. You said what I've been trying to say to Jason (in private and online, and later to him and those like you reading along online) since I first read that passage in Sword to the Heart, and you said it much better than I could when I was suffering from grief.

And the reason it needs to be said is that there's a flip side to what you say here (which I tried to get across even in my grief.)

If there are conceivible states of existence that are worse than no existence (such as an existence of persistent and relentless suffering, for an animal with no hope of an afterlife), there are also conceivible states of existence (such as the bliss of heaven--small glimpses of which can be enjoyed even in this fallen world) which are better than no existence.

...In thy presence is fulness of joy; In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:11.)

...Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Cor. 2:9.)


However hard the good times may be to remember when we're suffering loss, it's remembering that there are states of existence that are better than no existence that can help us endure when good times seem far away.

God bless, and thank you again for your prayers.
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