Formal debate on pantheism

Propose a formal or informal debate or discussion in this forum. Declare a challenge/invitation or respond to one.
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BWE
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Post by BWE » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:29 am

[quote=""Jobar""]OK, nudged. :)

So are we going to be able to do this as a 3-way discussion, with an atheist who doesn't think that pantheism is atheistic, a theist who thinks pantheism and panentheism are basically the same, and me defending the view that pantheism is essentially atheistic?

I would say that we might start with a fairly short statement from each of us, delineating our individual positions and definitions; from there, we can see if we have enough actual disagreement to justify a debate.

I want to do this fairly slowly, giving us all lots of time for consideration and careful explanation. So, I will try to put together a concise declaration of my own philosophy/belief within the next ten days; from that we can decide our next steps. Satisfactory?[/quote]
I c&ped this from a post I made at TR. It has some wird reference issues because I took it out of context, but it is pretty close to how I;'d approach this:
My point is that religious claims are wrong because they are demonstrably wrong. If I need to defend that statement or expand on it, I will but I assume that in this case, I don't.

Theism is a religious claim which is demonstrably wrong*,and it is demonstrably wrong precisely because it attempts to shrink what's 'out there' into a manageable ball with manageable rules and the rules are simply wishful thinking and wrong.

Any argument so far?

A-theism is a word which is not simply 'without' god. It suggests an approach also to managing the scope of what's out there by positively claiming that the universe works a certain way and that that way does not need the demonstrably wrong ideas of theism.

The reason I say it is not simply 'without' god is that it is not particularly meaningful to say 'without' a specific bit of wrong information. I am not a-phlogiston, or a-aether.

An atheist makes a counter claim and that counter claim too is an attempt to make it manageable sized.

We can certainly learn things about 'out there' but we do not and cannot say we know the nature of the source of sense data.

Atheism, if it makes no counter claim is a word which means something closer to, 'without the retarded idea of theism and quite happy not to replace that idea with anything whatsoever.'

Which is why using the word atheist to replace the word theist when someone realizes that the idea of theism is provincial, petty and ignorant makes no sense. It's like replacing the word 'left' after going round the block with 'right' to reflect better information. It doesn't make a person an a-leftist.

*(except pantheism which actually is not a religious claim at all because it's just a name for the whole system that we can observe.)
I wasn't talking about pantheist in that thread so I gave it short treatment but I'll work up something a little more for that one. Otherwise this is pretty close to what I'd argue.

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Jobar
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Post by Jobar » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:24 pm

Another profitable way to approach this is to look at the differing meanings of 'theos' in pantheism and in monotheism.

In monotheism, particularly in Western/Abrahamic versions, theos- God- is normally considered a being apart from creation (the observed universe), while in pantheism God and universe are one, unitary- like head and tails on a coin, different aspects of an identical reality.

Pantheism is unitary or monistic; monotheism is dualistic. (Which may not make things less confusing...)

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Politesse
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Post by Politesse » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:12 pm

Oh, hello, I'd forgotten about this. I'm still on, though. When do we start?
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Post by Redshirt » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:34 pm

Hi Politesse,

The start date is yet to be determined. Again, here are the formal debate parameters to hammer out:
(1) Topic
(2) Participants, positions and sequence
(3) Scope
(4) Length in rounds
(5) Maximum statement length
(6) Maximum duration between statements
(7) Start date
(8) Additional criteria (optional)

BWE and Jobar are clarifying their positions so that they can flesh out the scope of the debate. Can you clarify your position? Do you agree with how I characterized your stance? --
Jobar: an atheist who claims that atheism and pantheism are compatible.
BWE: a pantheist who claims that atheism and pantheism are not compatible.
Politesse: a panentheistic Christian who claims that atheism and pantheism are not compatible.

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Post by Politesse » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:09 pm

Hmm, perhaps not that atheism and pantheism are incompatible as that pantheism naturally implies a theistic viewpoint, more so than atheistic- theist is the most reasonable label for the pantheist to wear.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Post by BWE » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:51 pm

[quote=""Jobar""]Another profitable way to approach this is to look at the differing meanings of 'theos' in pantheism and in monotheism.

In monotheism, particularly in Western/Abrahamic versions, theos- God- is normally considered a being apart from creation (the observed universe), while in pantheism God and universe are one, unitary- like head and tails on a coin, different aspects of an identical reality.

Pantheism is unitary or monistic; monotheism is dualistic. (Which may not make things less confusing...)[/quote]
That is a good point. This will basically come down to a semantic issue (one which I see as important), but I'd say atheism and theism are both dualistic. That's why I can't call myself an atheist. It is an attempt, the same as theism, to try to lay claim to a definition of reality.

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Post by BWE » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:53 pm

[quote=""Politesse""]Hmm, perhaps not that atheism and pantheism are incompatible as that pantheism naturally implies a theistic viewpoint, more so than atheistic- theist is the most reasonable label for the pantheist to wear.[/quote]
And I'll argue that this is an error. Maybe an entire category error but at least an error of attribution.

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Post by Redshirt » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:37 pm

How about we frame it like this?

Jobar (atheist): Pantheism and atheism are compatible.
BWE (pantheist): Theism and atheism are not compatible with pantheism.
Politesse (panentheistic Christian): Pantheism implies more so a theistic viewpoint that an atheistic worldview.

Feel free to modify anything.

What about the rest of the parameters? Here's what we've got so far:

(1) Topic:

Three positions on pantheism will be discussed and how it relates to theism and atheism.

(2) Participants, positions and sequence:
Jobar (atheist): Pantheism and atheism are compatible.
BWE (pantheist): Theism and atheism are not compatible with pantheism.
Politesse (panentheistic Christian): Pantheism implies more so a theistic viewpoint that an atheistic worldview.

(in turns, or perhaps a concurrent set up?)

(3) Scope:
Largely a philosophical discussion on pantheism, atheism and theism.

(4) Length in rounds:
???

(5) Maximum statement length:
???

(6) Maximum duration between statements:
???

(7) Start date:
???

(8) Additional criteria (optional):
This is a multi-participant formal discussion involving three different perspectives.

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Post by BWE » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:46 pm

excellent redshirt. I think Jobar should offer the opening post outlining his point of view since that is the foundation of the discussion. Then politesse and I should offer our opening posts explaining the basic problems we have with Jobar's position and offering a summary of our own positions, explaining why they are alternatives to Jobar's rather than compatible.

2nd round is a rebuttal to the other two opinions and identification of the incompatible elements.

3rd round we each adress the incompatiblee issues raised by the other two.

4th round conclusions.

What do you think?

I like a word count of 3000 or less including quotes and time limits of 1 week between rounds.

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Post by Politesse » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:20 pm

Sounds good to me.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Post by Jobar » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:32 pm

I'm good with that. Although for years, at II and other boards, I specifically listed my philosophical stance as atheist/pantheist, so labeling me 'atheist' isn't quite accurate. But I'll be specifying that in my posts, so it'll be made clear.

One thing I want to add to the position I'm asserting: "Pantheism and atheism are compatible, and pantheism and Western/Abrahamic monotheism are *not* compatible." That will, I think, accentuate the difference between Politesse's stance and my own.

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Post by Jobar » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:41 pm

So, is everyone satisfied with that refinement?

I'll start gathering the material which will constitute my opening statement; I feel sure that I'll be able to produce that fairly quickly, perhaps even tonight, as I have written so much on the subject already.

In fact, for those who are interested, this 2005 post from the FR/II archives has links to more than a dozen threads where I've discussed my understanding of pantheism and atheism; I believe all the links are still good, and membership at FR is not required to access them. (Redshirt, I presume there will be a Peanut Gallery in Religion; kindly copy this link to that thread.)

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Post by Redshirt » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:42 pm

Any start date you all have in mind? Who would like to go second? (assuming the discussion is in turns)

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Post by Jobar » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:55 pm

No preference as far as posting order goes; for a start date, I promise to have my OP within the week, possibly even this evening if nothing interrupts me.

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Post by BWE » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:36 pm

[quote=""Redshirt""]Any start date you all have in mind? Who would like to go second? (assuming the discussion is in turns)[/quote]
I figured Jobar could go first mostly to give him a chance to frame the discussion the way he wants to since it was his idea that he wanted to discuss. Then it would be a week for politesse and myself to make our opening posts with all three due the following week and etc.

There might be some overlap in mine and Jobar's position but I will take the position that atheism as a worldview suffers from the same shortcomings that theism does. That should make the distinction a little bit clearer.

Any start date is good with me.

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Post by Redshirt » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:30 pm

Just to clarify, you'd prefer to work according to a set calendar? Usually time limits are set according to a duration (e.g. assuming a duration of 1 week, if XXX’s opening statement was posted on Mar. 1, then his/her opponent’s statement is due any time before Mar. 8. If XXX's opponent posts on Mar. 3, then XXX must post by Mar. 10). It's a little more flexible using durations, in my opinion. If someone is late, that could really mess up a calendar approach as well.

As for the sequence, are you saying that it doesn’t matter who goes second? Will that hold true for every round?

Since 3 people are involved, we should make this as clear as possible to avoid confusion.

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Post by BWE » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:48 pm

[quote=""Redshirt""]Just to clarify, you'd prefer to work according to a set calendar? Usually time limits are set according to a duration (e.g. assuming a duration of 1 week, if XXX’s opening statement was posted on Mar. 1, then his/her opponent’s statement is due any time before Mar. 8. If XXX's opponent posts on Mar. 3, then XXX must post by Mar. 10). It's a little more flexible using durations, in my opinion. If someone is late, that could really mess up a calendar approach as well.

As for the sequence, are you saying that it doesn’t matter who goes second? Will that hold true for every round?

Since 3 people are involved, we should make this as clear as possible to avoid confusion.[/quote]
Right. Ok, my idea for a timeline:

1, Jobar makes first post
2. Within 1 week politesse and I make our first posts. Since these will basically be outlining our position wrt jobars, it doesn't matter who posts first between us.
3. Within one week of the last post between politesse and me all 3 of us will offer our rebuttal to the other two opinions and identify of the incompatible elements.
4. Within one week of the rebuttal we each address the incompatiblee issues raised by the other two and defend our position.
5. Within one week of the last post of the previous round we offer our conclusions.

What do you all think?

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Post by Jobar » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:58 pm

Very cool. :)

Save for the fact I wanted an atheist who would argue that pantheism and atheism are incompatible, this sounds like exactly the sort of discussion I was seeking. Much thanks to both BWE and Politesse!

And I've already begun work on my OP; but I don't expect to have it ready tonight, as I've had to deal with a number of interruptions. Still, I should have it before the weekend, and certainly by the last of the month.

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Post by BWE » Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:10 am

[quote=""Jobar""]Very cool. :)

Save for the fact I wanted an atheist who would argue that pantheism and atheism are incompatible, this sounds like exactly the sort of discussion I was seeking. Much thanks to both BWE and Politesse!

And I've already begun work on my OP; but I don't expect to have it ready tonight, as I've had to deal with a number of interruptions. Still, I should have it before the weekend, and certainly by the last of the month.[/quote]
I think that my approach will still satisfy that requirement. :) It would be nice to have a full on material reductionist on board though. I have a good idea where our discussion will go and suspect that it will become a semantic issue. I think it's an important semantic issue though. I'm not sure at all where politesse's view will fit in.

Whenever you have you OP is fine with me. We can consider it the start date.

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Post by Politesse » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:00 am

[quote=""BWE""]I think it's an important semantic issue though. I'm not sure at all where politesse's view will fit in. [/quote]I'll try to be relevant. :p
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Post by Redshirt » Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:46 pm

Alright then, here are the formal debate parameters below (I think this is looking more like a debate than a discussion). We just need the three of you to confirm your agreement with everything below and then we'll be ready to go:

(1) Topic:
Three positions on pantheism will be debated with respect to how it relates to theism and atheism.

(2) Participants, positions and sequence:
Jobar (pantheist/atheist): Pantheism and atheism are compatible while pantheism and theism are not.
BWE (pantheist): Theism and atheism are not compatible with pantheism.
Politesse (panentheistic Christian): Pantheism implies more so a theistic viewpoint that an atheistic worldview.

Sequence is variable (see #8)

(3) Scope:
Largely a philosophical debate on pantheism, atheism and theism.

(4) Length in rounds:
Four rounds.

(5) Maximum statement length:
3000 words.

(6) Maximum duration between statements:
1 week (between rounds)

(7) Start date:
Opening statement is due within one week of the formal debate thread being launched.

(8) Additional criteria (optional):
Special format:
(a) This will be a multi-participant formal debate involving three different perspectives.
(b) Sequence is as follows:
Round 1:
- Jobar opens, outlining his point of view since it is the foundation of the discussion.
- BWE and Politesse reply within one week (the order does not matter), explaining the basic problems they have with Jobar's position and offering a summary of their positions.

Round 2:
- Within one week, all three participants offer their rebuttals to each other (the sequence does not matter)

Round 3:
- Within one week, all three participants offer their rebuttals to the each others' Round 2 statements (the sequence does not matter)

Round 4:
- Within one week, all three participants posts their concluding statements (the sequence does not matter)

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Post by Redshirt » Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:50 pm

One more thing. If you'd all prefer, I could make Rounds 2-4 (and part of Round 1, for Politesse's and BWE's posts) a concurrent sort of set up. Since the formal debate forum is fully moderated, your posts will be invisible until validated by the moderator. You won't see each other's posts until all three participants complete their posts for a round, where I will validate them.

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Post by BWE » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:22 pm

I'd prefer just posting them when they arrive after doing a word count. But either way is fine.

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Post by Jobar » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:33 pm

No real preference; either way is fine with me.

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Post by Redshirt » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:45 pm

Okay, we just need Politesse's agreement with the above parameters and then we'll be ready to go. We'll stick to validating statements as they come in instead of the concurrent manner.

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