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Alpinism and Religion


Chris Wright · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 25 days ago · Points: 0
s.price wrote:

I'm with Ted. 

I too am with Ted.

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 7,604

Sorry Matt N, your last paragraph is perplexing to me.  IF you are IN one of those religions who believe the other religions got it all wrong, are not you in a minority , and, therefore, not conservative?

Zack Robinson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 0

This really isn't that hard, but the problem is that words like "agnostic" are used in various ways.

Atheist: You do not have a belief in god. Some atheists have the stronger position of believing there is no god, but this isn't necessary to be an atheist.

Agnostic: Sometimes used to mean one who doesn't know whether god exists or not. Sometimes used to mean one who doesn't believe we can know whether god exists. Sometimes used to mean we cannot make any progress on the question of god's existence.

As you can see, most atheists are also agnostic. People who reject the label atheist because they don't know whether god exists are fooling themselves. It us quite possible to be both an agnostic and an atheist.

Religion: The belief in or worship of a god or gods.

God: Traditionally, an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent being who played some role in creation.

"Spiritualism" is not religion unless your spiritualism deals with a god. Atheists are not religious in any sense of the word because they reject god, making it impossible for them to be religious.

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0
whatever whatever wrote: Ah agnosticism.

What if I told you magical unicorns that live in the center of the earth send mind rays out, and it's those mind rays that turn people gay? Would you say 'That is totally possible, who knows man, I'm agnostic' ? Or would you say I am full of it?

If you are agnostic, can you even believe that any facts exist at all? What if a magical fairy went up there and took the bolts out after you last looked - anything is possible, right? So you better tell the next person who asks how many bolts are up there - "impossible to know, man".

If you are legitimately thinking 'man, this Bible book is pretty convincing but I'm not sure...' then okay. You are agnostic and there is no problem with that.

But I think that is not the case for most 'agnostics'. I think most 'agnostics' are atheists. But they are part of one of the following groups:

  • Don't want to be grouped with asshole and / or dumb atheists who get posted on reddit.com/r/iamverysmart. As with any group of people, some atheists are the worst.
  • Think that atheism means a value judgement of all religious people being bad or dumb (it does not).
  • Are afraid of being persecuted by or offending religious folks and 'agnosticism' gives them an out.
  • Are unable to critically think but not convinced of any particular religion, or are unconvinced by religion but afraid to anger the team that tells them they will burn in hell
  • They believe, as it was actually put to me by someone I know, "in the universe and stuff" and how "things like, come together, you know?" And to this I just put a lack of critical thinking. A banana fits in the human hand so perfectly - clearly the universe / hippy-god came together for us! Or... we evolved to eat bananas. Or... statistically some things will 'come together' and other things won't based on chance.
And maybe the biggest misconception:

  • They think that atheism means "I AM TOTALLY SURE WITHOUT ANY DOUBT THAT NOTHING EXISTS BESIDES WHAT WE NOW KNOW AND EVERYTHING I KNOW IS RIGHT!" Which is obviously arrogant and dumb.
For any reasonable person, the very small chance that one is wrong about what is thought to be a 'fact' is just baked into the conversation. It is not productive to say 'i don't know and can't know' in response to anything.  "2 + 2 = 4.... but maybe we are in a simulation and math isn't real, man, so who knows." "I agree dude, but then again what if I don't and I just think I do? Who knows man." Or maybe we can agree that 2 + 2 equals 4 and we are made of molecules as we know it, disregarding the very small chance that we exist in a simulation or are in a dream or something.

There is certainly a lot of stuff that science has not answered. We have no idea why we experience things and it is super weird. I subscribe to humans being a very complicated bag of chemicals. It makes sense why we walk and talk and stuff. It does not make sense that I, as the observer, observe and feel everything my body does. That 'I' feel what my body feels. That consciousness even exists is strange, completely unexplained, and shows that we certainly have a lot more to learn about the universe than we know now.

Heck, let me throw this one out there: it makes no sense that 'I' came into existence after not being in existence before. How does that work!? If it works like that, could I come into existence again after I die? What does "I" even mean?

We don't know everything and we probably never will. You don't need to know all the answers to know that there are no unicorns in the center of the earth making people gay. And you don't need to know all the answers to know that every single organized religion, every man-made theory of there being a big dude in the sky judging what you do, is almost certainly wrong. And if you know that, you are an atheist.

So why am I being an asshole and offending so many folks by saying all religions are certainly wrong? Because religion poisons the base understanding people have of the world and disallows them from thinking critically. Certainly a lot of good has come from the community aspects of religion. In my opinion that is far outweighed by the bad. When we abandon superstition we can keep the good while throwing out the bad. We can still have communities without church. We can still have morals without thinking gay folks go to hell, or that it is righteous to murder those who believe in other religions.

TL;DR.   First off I only read your first paragraph. There are agnostic atheists and agnostics theists.....one claims to not know and not believe in God and one claims to not know but believe in something more while also not be sure......


Let me say, whether you believe in God or not you are agnostic cause "believe" claims you do not know. However, if you do "know" something through experience then you can claim to be Gnostic atheist or gnostic theist depending on what u experienced.


Plus as soon as you bring up unicorns you lost me. No one on earth has legitimately thought they experienced seeing a unicorn unless on drugs...however many sober people are sure they've had a profound experience...there are 4 sides of this coin. 2 claim to be right and 2 admit they don't know. Its clear what side people are falling on.

Edit: does it matter though? What am I even trying to argue? God damnit MP
Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 7,604

Thanks BL^^^, NO, it does not matter!  We all are just animals on a planet and with any luck, and thought, we can all get along as well as solve problems.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,631
Briggs Lazalde wrote:

Let me say, whether you believe in God or not you are agnostic cause "believe" claims you do not know. 


Ok - “we” let you say it. But you are in a world apart from the common definition of agnostic. 

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

the only truly Gnostic theists in my belief are people with OBE NDEs and maybe Edgar cayce. There's even science to bridge the gap and prove it. Many people have accounts of dying in the operating room. These people have OBEs and when returned to reality they can tell the doctors exactly what was discussed in the room, movements, arguments, everything.......the part that loses people who have not had these experiences is they have to believe and create a picture of this happening....  A body floating above a body and observing....however this isn't how it happens....the best analogy for what is experienced is that as an individual we are like water drops. When we die it is like an individual water drop having an individual experience returning to the ocean..it still exists however it is no longer an individual but part of a much larger picture. Still able to observe. Maybe 10 fold? Makes you wonder.... But either way in the rare instance that the water drop returns to its exact form(IOW dying and coming back to life)  people can account for things they shouldn't be able to and even say the experience was more vivid than real life.....science can't explain it but it acknowledges it. Which is important. There's a rather large collection of NDE literature and much of it is researched by intelligent individuals using strict methods.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,631
Briggs Lazalde wrote:  the only truly Gnostic theists in my belief are people with OBE NDEs and maybe Edgar cayce. There's even science to bridge the gap and prove it. 

Can you link to the paper doscussing that science?

whatever whatever · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 0

Contrary to Briggs' statements science is making headway on explaining OBEs. They can be repeatedly triggered by using electrical stimulation on the brain. In fact we've known this since 2002 and earlier.

https://www.nature.com/articles/419269a

More recent summary and study linking OBEs to the phenomenon you can experience yourself, the "rubber hand illusion":

https://www.neuroelectrics.com/blog/out-of-body-experiences-neural-engineering-informs-brain-sciences/

There is no reason to think that OBEs are because of the supernatural, rather than your brain getting confused in certain conditions. Accounting for things they shouldn't be able to? Citation needed. I'd say those stories are probably fake, due to intentional lies or unintentionally being led to certain answers, due to chance, or due to embellishments in storytelling. If it is regarding observing things in the same room, I'd say the patient was simply able to observe like they usually would for things happening in the same room... (but in a weird "OBE" state).

There is certainly a lot of weird stuff going on with consciousness! But don't attribute it to superstition...

Briggs is probably referring to the book 'Proof of Heaven', in which a Dr who goes into a 7 day coma decides he believes in god based on the dreams he had... if he didn't make it all up to rake in the money from folks desperate to believe that science is aligned with superstition.

Redyns · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 80

both are a waste of time.

Zack Robinson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 0
Briggs Lazalde wrote:  the only truly Gnostic theists in my belief are people with OBE NDEs and maybe Edgar cayce. There's even science to bridge the gap and prove it. Many people have accounts of dying in the operating room. These people have OBEs and when returned to reality they can tell the doctors exactly what was discussed in the room, movements, arguments, everything.......the part that loses people who have not had these experiences is they have to believe and create a picture of this happening....  A body floating above a body and observing....however this isn't how it happens....the best analogy for what is experienced is that as an individual we are like water drops. When we die it is like an individual water drop having an individual experience returning to the ocean..it still exists however it is no longer an individual but part of a much larger picture. Still able to observe. Maybe 10 fold? Makes you wonder.... But either way in the rare instance that the water drop returns to its exact form(IOW dying and coming back to life)  people cam account for things they shouldn't be able to and even say the exoerience was more vivid than real life.....science can't explain it but it acknowledges it. Which is important. There's a rather large collection of NDE literature and much of it is researched but intelligent individuals using strict methods.

Why would people with OBEs be the only gnostics?  There are two possibilities for what is meant by the word "gnostic":


1. A person who claims to have knowledge that god exists.

2. A person who has knowledge that god exists.  

In the first case, all sorts of people claim to have this knowledge, so I don't see why OBEs qualify someone in a special way to make this claim.  In the second case, knowledge requires ones belief to be true.  I cannot know a false thing.  Thus, if there is in fact no god, there are no gnostic theists.  One cannot know god exists if god does in fact not exist.  An OBE wouldn't change that.
Zack Robinson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 0
Briggs Lazalde wrote:

TL;DR.   First off I only read your first paragraph. There are agnostic atheists and agnostics theists.....one claims to not know and not believe in God and one claims to not know but believe in something more while also not be sure......


Let me say, whether you believe in God or not you are agnostic cause "believe" claims you do not know. However, if you do "know" something through experience then you can claim to be Gnostic atheist or gnostic theist depending on what u experienced.


Plus as soon as you bring up unicorns you lost me. No one on earth has legitimately thought they experienced seeing a unicorn unless on drugs...however many sober people are sure they've had a profound experience...there are 4 sides of this coin. 2 claim to be right and 2 admit they don't know. Its clear what side people are falling on.

Edit: does it matter though? What am I even trying to argue? God damnit MP

Your definition of "believe" is wrong.  Beliefs are simply propositions we hold to be true.  In fact, belief is a requirement for knowledge.  Since the days of Plato, knowledge has been understood by philosophers to mean belief + truth + justification, and in the last fifty years, some type of anti-luck element has been thrown in as well.  So all examples of knowledge are also examples of belief.  I believe I am typing on the Mountain Project forum right now.  I also know I am typing on the Mountain Project forum right now.  I believe it is snowing outside right now, but I probably don't know that it is because I haven't looked outside in a while, and I haven't seen a weather report.


There are all sorts of ways of coming to knowledge.  Experience isn't the only one.  I know there are no four-sided triangles in the universe.  It isn't because I have searched the universe high and low.  It is because of the definition of what a triangle is.  So I don't see how knowledge requires a specific experience.  This is also my response when people say that in order for me to claim there is no god that I need to "know everything about everything."  Imagine someone claimed that an all-powerful being existed whose only goal was to make sure that Briggs Lazalde would never come into existence.  Does that being exist?  No, because clearly Briggs Lazalde exists.  I don't need to know anything else about the world in order to know that being does not exist.  I think the best arguments against god's existence fall into the same bucket.
bttrrtRock Charles · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 5

A religion based on climbing and the lessons learned therein would be far more beneficial and believable that those requiring blind faith.  

I do not discount the possibility of a deity or deities. I would suggest however that a religion representing the true words of god would likely offer more positive mental habits and skill sets in minds of its followers.

Is it just coincidence that blind faith is so prominent in Christianity and also  so easily used to manipulate people into doing things they wouldn't other wise do. Like, ehem, funding the church? Why would god create a religion that was set up for failure by its main premise (faith)?

Chris Wright · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 25 days ago · Points: 0
Zack Robinson wrote:

Your definition of "believe" is wrong.  Beliefs are simply propositions we hold to be true.  In fact, belief is a requirement for knowledge.  Since the days of Plato, knowledge has been understood by philosophers to mean belief + truth + justification, and in the last fifty years, some type of anti-luck element has been thrown in as well.  So all examples of knowledge are also examples of belief.  I believe I am typing on the Mountain Project forum right now.  I also know I am typing on the Mountain Project forum right now.  I believe it is snowing outside right now, but I probably don't know that it is because I haven't looked outside in a while, and I haven't seen a weather report.


There are all sorts of ways of coming to knowledge.  Experience isn't the only one.  I know there are no four-sided triangles in the universe.  It isn't because I have searched the universe high and low.  It is because of the definition of what a triangle is.  So I don't see how knowledge requires a specific experience.  This is also my response when people say that in order for me to claim there is no god that I need to "know everything about everything."  Imagine someone claimed that an all-powerful being existed whose only goal was to make sure that Briggs Lazalde would never come into existence.  Does that being exist?  No, because clearly Briggs Lazalde exists.  I don't need to know anything else about the world in order to know that being does not exist.  I think the best arguments against god's existence fall into the same bucket.

Zack I followed what you were saying until the very end.  I understand the thought process behind no 4 sided triangles in the universe but I dont see how that could tell you that no such being exists.  We discover things in life and in nature that were unbeknown to us before all the time.  It's not a matter of disqualification by definition as stated by the 4 sided triangle reference.  I haven't seen enough evidence one way or the other on whether there is or isnt God(s) and I dont think anyone else has either.  No matter how strongly they BELIEVE they know.

Zack Robinson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 0
Chris Wright wrote:

Zack I followed what you were saying until the very end.  I understand the thought process behind no 4 sided triangles in the universe but I dont see how that could tell you that no such being exists.  We discover things in life and in nature that were unbeknown to us before all the time.  It's not a matter of disqualification by definition as stated by the 4 sided triangle reference.  I haven't seen enough evidence one way or the other on whether there is or isnt God(s) and I dont think anyone else has either.  No matter how strongly they BELIEVE they know.

Imagine someone asked if an all-powerful being existed whose only goal was to make sure Chris Wright never existed.  This being supposedly knows everything, can do anything and his only goal is to make sure Chris Wright never gets to be born.  Does that being exist?  Of course not.  I'm talking to Chris Wright right now.  If that being existed, there would no Chris Wright.  There is a Chris Wright, so that being doesn't exist.

Arguments like the problem of evil do this same thing with god.  God is supposedly all-powerful, all-knowing and completely good.  Because he is all-good and has the power to fulfill his desires, this should be the best possible world.  There can be no extra instance of evil.  That doesn't mean there can be no evil, but there can be no extra evil.  For example, it might be the case that free will for humans implies evil, but the good accomplished by free will might outweigh the evil done by those humans.  So god *might* be off the hook for that evil.  But we live in a world with all sorts of terrible things that aren't the product of otherwise virtuous things (like free will).  For instance, mother nature really is a bitch, and all sorts of animals die painful deaths all the time.  There's certainly no obvious way in which these instances of suffering produce a greater good, either.  If god does exist, he is the greatest torturer of animals that has ever existed.  He could have created a world in which the vast majority of animals did not die painful deaths from predation, starvation, cold etc.  But he didn't.  That, at least to me, is an obvious example of gratuitous evil.  

One more example of "extra" evil: The free will solution to the problem of evil only works if libertarian free will is true.  Libertarian free will is the classic notion of free will -- man is completely free to do what he wants, whenever he wants to do it.  God can't be held accountable for man's actions in this view because man is acting of his own accord, and God could not have created man in such a way that he would reliably act better but still be free.  The bolded portion is crucial.  But the libertarian view isn't the most popular view among philosophers today, and for good reason.  The most popular view is compatibilism, which is the idea that man can do whatever he wants to do, but his desires and who he is are determined by the physical structures of his brain and body, thus his actions are ultimately determined.  You can do what you want, but your wants are determined by you brain, and your brain structures are not a product of your choice.  If this view is correct, there is no logical impossibility of god creating free beings who choose the good every single time, completely out of their own free will.  God could have created free beings that would have reliably acted better than humans act, and there would have both been free will and less evil.  God would then not be off the hook for evil done by free beings because he could have had his cake and eaten it, too.  He could have created free beings who acted perfectly.  It isn't hard to see how our brain structures can make us act better or worse.  Serial killers have much less grey matter in their prefrontal cortex, which means they do not have as many inhibitions as most people do.  Why would god create such people?  God can't be off the hook for the actions of free beings doing bad things if he could have created them in such a way where they were still free but acted better.  

tl;dr: If there is a single instance of "extra" evil in the world, an all-powerful, all-knowing, completely good god almost certainly doesn't exist.
whatever whatever · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 0

IMO arguments trying to disprove 'god' by talking about things like 'evil' and 'omnipotence' are silly because those terms can mean anything you want and it tries to argue from within the confines of religion, which created the terms and will change the definition on you as soon as you point out a contradiction. Like trying to argue against unicorns by referencing magical properties about their horns being contradictory. It also makes the arguments extremely unnecessarily complex and vulnerable to word games.

Stick to logical and scientific reasoning..... there is no evidence it exists, no reason to suggest it exists, and every reason to believe it is another made up thing by some humans (who have faulty logic at best and make things up all the time, often things that are dumb and make no sense).

Chet Butterworth · · Chattanooga · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 465

mmm, very interested in wilderness spaces and spiritual formation (particulary about mountains in the former and teenagers in the latter). did some work on this in graduate school -- I was in seminary and worked taking kids backpacking in Colorado in the summers -- and have some PDFs saved on my old computer I will try to find.

also, RLG Irving wrote quite beautifully about alpinism and the mountains and God permeated his work. "“When I die, it is to the mountains that I shall send one of my last goodbyes, and every day I thank God, not for having created them, but for having made me know them.”

Zack Robinson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 0
whatever whatever wrote: IMO arguments trying to disprove 'god' by talking about things like 'evil' and 'omnipotence' are silly because those terms can mean anything you want and it tries to argue from within the confines of religion, which created the terms and will change the definition on you as soon as you point out a contradiction. Like trying to argue against unicorns by referencing magical properties about their horns being contradictory. It also makes the arguments extremely unnecessarily complex and vulnerable to word games.

Stick to logical and scientific reasoning..... there is no evidence it exists, no reason to suggest it exists, and every reason to believe it is another made up thing by some humans (who have faulty logic at best and make things up all the time, often things that are dumb and make no sense).

The problem of evil is very much an argument from "logical reasoning."  "Omnipotence" is a pretty straightforward concept, and the various takes on it (does in include the power to do the logically impossible?) don't really affect the outcome of the argument much.  I agree that evil can be hard to define, but the objective is to say that we have to swallow the pills of "there is not a single instance of extra evil in the history of the world" and "a being that has created billions of sentient creatures and allowed them to die painful deaths (in the instance of animal suffering) is still the best being possible.  Neither of those are very compelling.  If a person tortured puppies for no good reason, we would never say that person was the best possible person.  No matter what other good things they did in life, or what debate we wanted to get in about the nature of evil, we would say they would be an even better person if they didn't torture puppies.  So it goes with god. 


Science is useless in the question of whether god exists.  It might disprove fundamentalist views about god like a six day creation, but no scientific fact can preclude the existence of god.
Matt N · · Santa Barbara, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 302
Zack Robinson wrote:

Science is useless in the question of whether god exists.  It might disprove fundamentalist views about god like a six day creation, but no scientific fact can preclude the existence of god.

Are you demanding that science prove a negative? It would be much easier for religions to simply prove that their god exists.

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 7,604
Matt N wrote:

Are you demanding that science prove a negative? It would be much easier for religions to simply prove that their god exists.

And yet another crux.  What if we all do not have to prove a damn anything?  Just speak our case, LISTEN to another point of view and then laugh and shake and climb?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
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