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Religious Exclusivism & Omnism

Yonko
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10/10/2015 9:26:37 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I was reading some old debates, when I found an interesting case written by Raisor on an issue which has always confounded me -- the existence of all these seemingly mutually-exclusive religions. I did eventually find a solution to this dilemma, but Raisor articulates it far better than I possibly can:

Omnism -- "the hypothesis that he great world religions constitute different ways of experiencing, conceiving and living in relation to an ultimate divine Reality (the Real) which transcends all our varied visions of it... [Omnism] maintains that a divine reality exists, that human individuals are able to come in contact with that divine reality, and that the great world religions are human responses to that divine reality.

This hypothesis draws on Kantian epistemology, which claims that the natural world is represented to the human mind as mental categories determined by the structure of the mind. Our understanding of the natural world is then not a perfect reflection of how reality actually exists, but is instead a mental construction of reality that is fundamentally distinct but still representative of the way the world is.

Divine reality is similarly incapable of being understood within the realm of human understanding. Human language and categories are incapable of expressing the true nature of the Real. Religious experience is a function not only of informational input from contact with the divine but also of socio-cultural circumstances and the inherent cognitive structure of the human mind. Humanity is incapable of experiencing the Real in a manner that would convey information about true divine nature. Accordingly, the religions of the world are peculiarly human reactions to contact with the Real.

An analogy to be used might be the idea of color. 'Blue' as experienced does not exist in the real world- 'blue' light is described by wavelength and location on the visible spectrum but this is not the same as the color I experience. 'Blue' is simply created by the interaction of my mind with reality, yet is still a real interaction with reality. In the same way, the religions of the world represent humanity's attempt to understand and explain encounters with the divine"
[http://www.debate.org...]

==

I think if we assume that a personal God of some sort exists, Omnism would seem to be the most rational position to take. Several reasons for this (only the third point was directly borrowed from Raisor's debate):

1. there is no definitive & exclusive empirical confirmation of any single religion

2. spiritual experiences (i.e. instances of direct contact with the divine) have been reported across all religions and cultures throughout history

3. all religions have produced examples of people with highly spiritual orientations (i.e. "saints")

4. given the lack of exclusive empirical confirmation, and the fact that people's religions are generally determined by arbitrary factors like birthplace, it would be unjust for only the followers of a single religion to have salvation be accessible to them.

5. almost all major religions share some fundamental similarities (e.g. certain characteristics of God, moral standards, role of human beings, accessibility of spiritual knowledge, etc)

==

My aim in creating this thread is to ask people (religious exclusivists, in particular) what they think of Omnism and the arguments for it. Atheists' opinions are welcome as well, although I feel they may be biased against it since it would make theism a substantially more reasonable position ;P
Geogeer
Posts: 4,274
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10/10/2015 12:05:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/10/2015 9:26:37 AM, Yonko wrote:
I was reading some old debates, when I found an interesting case written by Raisor on an issue which has always confounded me -- the existence of all these seemingly mutually-exclusive religions. I did eventually find a solution to this dilemma, but Raisor articulates it far better than I possibly can:

Omnism -- "the hypothesis that he great world religions constitute different ways of experiencing, conceiving and living in relation to an ultimate divine Reality (the Real) which transcends all our varied visions of it... [Omnism] maintains that a divine reality exists, that human individuals are able to come in contact with that divine reality, and that the great world religions are human responses to that divine reality.

This hypothesis draws on Kantian epistemology, which claims that the natural world is represented to the human mind as mental categories determined by the structure of the mind. Our understanding of the natural world is then not a perfect reflection of how reality actually exists, but is instead a mental construction of reality that is fundamentally distinct but still representative of the way the world is.

Divine reality is similarly incapable of being understood within the realm of human understanding. Human language and categories are incapable of expressing the true nature of the Real. Religious experience is a function not only of informational input from contact with the divine but also of socio-cultural circumstances and the inherent cognitive structure of the human mind. Humanity is incapable of experiencing the Real in a manner that would convey information about true divine nature. Accordingly, the religions of the world are peculiarly human reactions to contact with the Real.

An analogy to be used might be the idea of color. 'Blue' as experienced does not exist in the real world- 'blue' light is described by wavelength and location on the visible spectrum but this is not the same as the color I experience. 'Blue' is simply created by the interaction of my mind with reality, yet is still a real interaction with reality. In the same way, the religions of the world represent humanity's attempt to understand and explain encounters with the divine"
[http://www.debate.org...]

==

I think if we assume that a personal God of some sort exists, Omnism would seem to be the most rational position to take. Several reasons for this (only the third point was directly borrowed from Raisor's debate):

1. there is no definitive & exclusive empirical confirmation of any single religion

2. spiritual experiences (i.e. instances of direct contact with the divine) have been reported across all religions and cultures throughout history

3. all religions have produced examples of people with highly spiritual orientations (i.e. "saints")

4. given the lack of exclusive empirical confirmation, and the fact that people's religions are generally determined by arbitrary factors like birthplace, it would be unjust for only the followers of a single religion to have salvation be accessible to them.

5. almost all major religions share some fundamental similarities (e.g. certain characteristics of God, moral standards, role of human beings, accessibility of spiritual knowledge, etc)

==

My aim in creating this thread is to ask people (religious exclusivists, in particular) what they think of Omnism and the arguments for it. Atheists' opinions are welcome as well, although I feel they may be biased against it since it would make theism a substantially more reasonable position ;P

It is a ridiculous idea. Why? Because fundamentally it is a denial of truth.

Jesus is God incarnate or he is not.
Mohammed is the great prophet or he is not.
Shiva is a great god in the pantheon of gods, or he is not.
etc...

Omnism is an attempt to not offend through denial of the truth.
bsh1
Posts: 27,504
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10/10/2015 1:02:39 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/10/2015 12:05:48 PM, Geogeer wrote:
At 10/10/2015 9:26:37 AM, Yonko wrote:
My aim in creating this thread is to ask people (religious exclusivists, in particular) what they think of Omnism and the arguments for it. Atheists' opinions are welcome as well, although I feel they may be biased against it since it would make theism a substantially more reasonable position ;P

It is a ridiculous idea. Why? Because fundamentally it is a denial of truth.

Jesus is God incarnate or he is not.
Mohammed is the great prophet or he is not.
Shiva is a great god in the pantheon of gods, or he is not.
etc...

Omnism is an attempt to not offend through denial of the truth.

I disagree that this is necessarily the case. Omnism is not the belief that all religions are literally true, but that they all gesture at the truth.

The way the OP describes it gives me the following impression. Man is imperfect and thus, through our encounters with the divine, we get can each only get imperfect understandings of the divine. We then, as humans, struggle to express our impressions. Differences in our impressions, arising from their imperfect nature, as well as differences arising from our different attempts at describing and explaining these impressions, form the seedbeds of different religions, which grow out of them.

In a sense, it is like a giant game of telephone. Suppose we have 30 people in a line. I tell the first person: "Jesus died on the cross to save humanity." Then this person repeats the message to the next in line. By the time the last person receives the message, they think the message read: "Jesus died on the cross to spite humanity." The messages have similarities, but VERY different meanings.

Omnism thus suggests that the similarities in religion speak to a common divinity, and that the differences are attributable merely to human error in understanding and describing that divinity. Perhaps we can also say that differences in religion also arise out of the exploitation of faith for political or social purposes, as well.

So, while you may attempt to argue against Omnism by citing various claims specific religions make, and which appear to be exclusive to the religion, you don't actually refute Omnism, because those difference can be explained away without contradicting Omnism itself.
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Yonko
Posts: 227
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10/10/2015 6:40:20 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/10/2015 12:05:48 PM, Geogeer wrote:

It is a ridiculous idea. Why? Because fundamentally it is a denial of truth.

Jesus is God incarnate or he is not.
Mohammed is the great prophet or he is not.
Shiva is a great god in the pantheon of gods, or he is not.
etc...

Omnism is an attempt to not offend through denial of the truth.

Bsh1 covered most of what I would have said in response to this. Your refutation isn't much of a refutation because it just ignores everything which was said in the OP. All you did is point out that many mutually-exclusive religions exist, but the entire point of Omnism is to explain *why* that is the case. Omnism doesn't claim that various religions and their contradictory dogmas are simultaneously true -- it claims that they're all different interpretations of the same divine reality, each containing elements of truth as well as elements of falsehood (due to human imperfection; bsh1 did a good job of describing this in a less abstract manner). I personally tend to believe that the divine reality is much simpler than most religions make it out to be.

P.S. Hinduism is monotheistic.
Yonko
Posts: 227
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10/11/2015 1:09:57 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
The lack of responses is disappointing. One would think more theists would be interested in this, considering the wide-ranging impacts Omnism would have on their worldviews if true. This topic is way better than all of the sh!tty threads above it -_-
UniversalTheologian
Posts: 1,078
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10/11/2015 2:51:41 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
If you actually understand theology, this is a pretty evident truth.
"There are trivial truths and the great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true." ~ Niels Bohr

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
Yonko
Posts: 227
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10/11/2015 4:12:34 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/11/2015 2:51:41 AM, UniversalTheologian wrote:
If you actually understand theology, this is a pretty evident truth.

Omnism is a pretty evident truth? I agree.
dhardage
Posts: 4,545
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10/13/2015 9:33:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

Your concept is flawed in that it demands an unprovable assertion be accepted in order to reconcile an immense number of other mutually exclusive unprovable assertions. It's conjecture, not fact.
Yonko
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10/13/2015 9:48:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 9:33:52 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

Your concept is flawed in that it demands an unprovable assertion be accepted in order to reconcile an immense number of other mutually exclusive unprovable assertions. It's conjecture, not fact.

Did you even read the OP ?
Geogeer
Posts: 4,274
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10/13/2015 9:54:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

I'll get you a reply tonight. I was busy with work all weekend...
Skepticalone
Posts: 6,126
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10/13/2015 9:56:12 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 9:48:58 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:33:52 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

Your concept is flawed in that it demands an unprovable assertion be accepted in order to reconcile an immense number of other mutually exclusive unprovable assertions. It's conjecture, not fact.

Did you even read the OP ?

It seems you are basically advocating theism with no specific claims of god interacting with humanity (other than revelation), yes?
This thread is like eavesdropping on a conversation in a mental asylum. - Bulproof

You can call your invisible friends whatever you like. - Desmac

What the hell kind of coked up sideshow has this thread turned into. - Casten
Yonko
Posts: 227
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10/13/2015 10:18:00 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 9:56:12 PM, Skepticalone wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:48:58 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:33:52 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

Your concept is flawed in that it demands an unprovable assertion be accepted in order to reconcile an immense number of other mutually exclusive unprovable assertions. It's conjecture, not fact.

Did you even read the OP ?

It seems you are basically advocating theism with no specific claims of god interacting with humanity (other than revelation), yes?

Well it doesn't necessarily *restrict* interaction, but yeah no specific positive claims about it are made.
Yonko
Posts: 227
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10/13/2015 10:19:15 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 9:56:12 PM, Skepticalone wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:48:58 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:33:52 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

Your concept is flawed in that it demands an unprovable assertion be accepted in order to reconcile an immense number of other mutually exclusive unprovable assertions. It's conjecture, not fact.

Did you even read the OP ?

It seems you are basically advocating theism with no specific claims of god interacting with humanity (other than revelation), yes?

Well, actually, there are a few... represented through the fundamental similarities between all major theistic religions.
Skepticalone
Posts: 6,126
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10/13/2015 11:17:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 10:19:15 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:56:12 PM, Skepticalone wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:48:58 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:33:52 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

Your concept is flawed in that it demands an unprovable assertion be accepted in order to reconcile an immense number of other mutually exclusive unprovable assertions. It's conjecture, not fact.

Did you even read the OP ?

It seems you are basically advocating theism with no specific claims of god interacting with humanity (other than revelation), yes?

Well, actually, there are a few... represented through the fundamental similarities between all major theistic religions.

Such as?
This thread is like eavesdropping on a conversation in a mental asylum. - Bulproof

You can call your invisible friends whatever you like. - Desmac

What the hell kind of coked up sideshow has this thread turned into. - Casten
Yonko
Posts: 227
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10/13/2015 11:33:37 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 11:17:48 PM, Skepticalone wrote:
At 10/13/2015 10:19:15 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:56:12 PM, Skepticalone wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:48:58 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:33:52 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

Your concept is flawed in that it demands an unprovable assertion be accepted in order to reconcile an immense number of other mutually exclusive unprovable assertions. It's conjecture, not fact.

Did you even read the OP ?

It seems you are basically advocating theism with no specific claims of god interacting with humanity (other than revelation), yes?

Well, actually, there are a few... represented through the fundamental similarities between all major theistic religions.

Such as?

The accessibility of spiritual knowledge, and the role of human beings in relation to God.
I suppose that could all be grouped under "revelation", though.
Skepticalone
Posts: 6,126
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10/13/2015 11:40:41 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 11:33:37 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:17:48 PM, Skepticalone wrote:
At 10/13/2015 10:19:15 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:56:12 PM, Skepticalone wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:48:58 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:33:52 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

Your concept is flawed in that it demands an unprovable assertion be accepted in order to reconcile an immense number of other mutually exclusive unprovable assertions. It's conjecture, not fact.

Did you even read the OP ?

It seems you are basically advocating theism with no specific claims of god interacting with humanity (other than revelation), yes?

Well, actually, there are a few... represented through the fundamental similarities between all major theistic religions.

Such as?

The accessibility of spiritual knowledge, and the role of human beings in relation to God.
I suppose that could all be grouped under "revelation", though.

Okay, doesn't this actually diminish personal revelation? I mean, how is this different from claiming personal revelation is true and false?
This thread is like eavesdropping on a conversation in a mental asylum. - Bulproof

You can call your invisible friends whatever you like. - Desmac

What the hell kind of coked up sideshow has this thread turned into. - Casten
Skepticalone
Posts: 6,126
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10/14/2015 12:17:28 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/11/2015 1:09:57 AM, Yonko wrote:
The lack of responses is disappointing. One would think more theists would be interested in this, considering the wide-ranging impacts Omnism would have on their worldviews if true. This topic is way better than all of the sh!tty threads above it -_-

Btw, this is a nice change of pace. I am surprised it hasn't received more attention.
This thread is like eavesdropping on a conversation in a mental asylum. - Bulproof

You can call your invisible friends whatever you like. - Desmac

What the hell kind of coked up sideshow has this thread turned into. - Casten
Yonko
Posts: 227
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10/14/2015 1:39:00 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 11:40:41 PM, Skepticalone wrote:

Okay, doesn't this actually diminish personal revelation? I mean, how is this different from claiming personal revelation is true and false?

Not really. Omnism maintains that most instances of personal revelations are legitimate, and that people's differing interpretations of them are the result of imperfections involved in human perception & cognition. Not sure if that answered your question.
dhardage
Posts: 4,545
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10/14/2015 1:07:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 9:48:58 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:33:52 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

Your concept is flawed in that it demands an unprovable assertion be accepted in order to reconcile an immense number of other mutually exclusive unprovable assertions. It's conjecture, not fact.

Did you even read the OP ?

Yes, I did. It's still unprovable conjecture, not 'evident truth'. If you can somehow demonstrate ANYTHING that is beyond the universe we all inhabit together you might just have some kind of argument. I'm not asking for a clear explanation or definition, just a demonstration of something beyond our material universe and how it is you manage to know about it despite it being 'unknowable'.
Yonko
Posts: 227
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10/14/2015 2:16:33 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/14/2015 1:07:06 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:48:58 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:33:52 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

Your concept is flawed in that it demands an unprovable assertion be accepted in order to reconcile an immense number of other mutually exclusive unprovable assertions. It's conjecture, not fact.

Did you even read the OP ?

Yes, I did. It's still unprovable conjecture, not 'evident truth'. If you can somehow demonstrate ANYTHING that is beyond the universe we all inhabit together you might just have some kind of argument. I'm not asking for a clear explanation or definition, just a demonstration of something beyond our material universe and how it is you manage to know about it despite it being 'unknowable'.

Are you seriously trying to turn this into a "does God exist" thing? >.>
This is about what the best explanation for the existence of mutually exclusive religions is, *assuming* that God exists.
dhardage
Posts: 4,545
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10/14/2015 2:37:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/14/2015 2:16:33 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/14/2015 1:07:06 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:48:58 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 9:33:52 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/13/2015 8:24:32 PM, Yonko wrote:
The religion forums sucks.

Your concept is flawed in that it demands an unprovable assertion be accepted in order to reconcile an immense number of other mutually exclusive unprovable assertions. It's conjecture, not fact.

Did you even read the OP ?

Yes, I did. It's still unprovable conjecture, not 'evident truth'. If you can somehow demonstrate ANYTHING that is beyond the universe we all inhabit together you might just have some kind of argument. I'm not asking for a clear explanation or definition, just a demonstration of something beyond our material universe and how it is you manage to know about it despite it being 'unknowable'.

Are you seriously trying to turn this into a "does God exist" thing? >.>
This is about what the best explanation for the existence of mutually exclusive religions is, *assuming* that God exists.

That's hardly a valid explanation, basing it on an unproven and unprovable assumption. The best explanation is that people have different ideas about how things work and about how things they could not explain happened. The created deities and spirits to explain the unexplainable according to their culture and their own particular concepts. These concepts and ideas become formalized and normalized by the prevailing culture and have adapted and changed as culture has changed. Judaism was not always monotheistic but the proponents of Yahweh gained the upper political hand and proclaimed him the one and only god. That is just one example. Assuming god exists is, in my opinion, just a lazy way to try and reconcile what is, by definition, irreconcilable.
Yonko
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10/14/2015 2:52:11 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/14/2015 2:37:44 PM, dhardage wrote:
Assuming god exists is, in my opinion, just a lazy way to try and reconcile what is, by definition, irreconcilable.

OR, it could be a way to avoid having every single thread in this cesspool of a forum devolve into a sh!tty "does god exist" debate. That's a completely separate issue, and it is not the focus of this thread.
dhardage
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10/14/2015 3:01:15 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/14/2015 2:52:11 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/14/2015 2:37:44 PM, dhardage wrote:
Assuming god exists is, in my opinion, just a lazy way to try and reconcile what is, by definition, irreconcilable.

OR, it could be a way to avoid having every single thread in this cesspool of a forum devolve into a sh!tty "does god exist" debate. That's a completely separate issue, and it is not the focus of this thread.

You should not ask for opinions of you do not want them. You have assumed the existence of something to explain something else. I've explained why I think your proposed explanation is faulty and that the assumption you have put into place is no more than a lazy way to explain away differences that are mutually exclusive and in absolute opposition to one another. I'm sorry you don't like my opinion but there it is.
Yonko
Posts: 227
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10/14/2015 3:07:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/14/2015 3:01:15 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/14/2015 2:52:11 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/14/2015 2:37:44 PM, dhardage wrote:
Assuming god exists is, in my opinion, just a lazy way to try and reconcile what is, by definition, irreconcilable.

OR, it could be a way to avoid having every single thread in this cesspool of a forum devolve into a sh!tty "does god exist" debate. That's a completely separate issue, and it is not the focus of this thread.

You should not ask for opinions of you do not want them. You have assumed the existence of something to explain something else. I've explained why I think your proposed explanation is faulty and that the assumption you have put into place is no more than a lazy way to explain away differences that are mutually exclusive and in absolute opposition to one another. I'm sorry you don't like my opinion but there it is.

It's not that I don't like your opinion.
It's that your opinion is worthless in this context because it dodges the actual issue at hand.
Skepticalone
Posts: 6,126
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10/14/2015 3:21:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/14/2015 1:39:00 AM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:40:41 PM, Skepticalone wrote:

Okay, doesn't this actually diminish personal revelation? I mean, how is this different from claiming personal revelation is true and false?

Not really. Omnism maintains that most instances of personal revelations are legitimate, and that people's differing interpretations of them are the result of imperfections involved in human perception & cognition. Not sure if that answered your question.

What if these revelations are from multiple gods and they are perfectly understood messages? You would be determining the common traits of many gods - not the god. All the while excluding unique traits of many gods.
This thread is like eavesdropping on a conversation in a mental asylum. - Bulproof

You can call your invisible friends whatever you like. - Desmac

What the hell kind of coked up sideshow has this thread turned into. - Casten
dhardage
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10/14/2015 3:23:21 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/14/2015 3:07:58 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/14/2015 3:01:15 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 10/14/2015 2:52:11 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/14/2015 2:37:44 PM, dhardage wrote:
Assuming god exists is, in my opinion, just a lazy way to try and reconcile what is, by definition, irreconcilable.

OR, it could be a way to avoid having every single thread in this cesspool of a forum devolve into a sh!tty "does god exist" debate. That's a completely separate issue, and it is not the focus of this thread.

You should not ask for opinions of you do not want them. You have assumed the existence of something to explain something else. I've explained why I think your proposed explanation is faulty and that the assumption you have put into place is no more than a lazy way to explain away differences that are mutually exclusive and in absolute opposition to one another. I'm sorry you don't like my opinion but there it is.

It's not that I don't like your opinion.
It's that your opinion is worthless in this context because it dodges the actual issue at hand.

Then please clarify the issue.