Thursday, January 14, 2010

An intellectual conversation with a Christian...OMFG really!?

The title is just the preface of a negative stereotype against Christians. A stereotype that is usually not too hard to prove somewhat correct, true, but a stereotype nonetheless. However, there are exceptions, and when these exceptions come out in the public eye, it is even more exceptional.

I had a somewhat long Facebook status conversation with an old high school friend and fellow Chess Team member Casey over many things. Nothing too specific and it didn't even start with any religious pretext or context. Though after I commented a few times, I knew it would eventually lead to such a place, given the subject matter and how we seemed to be arguing against the existence of absolutes, something Christianity argues strongly for (the absolute existence of a god, of a absolute beginning and end, an absolute savior, and an absolute human behavior) and which myself argues against as I live by the phrase "change over time and through space."

Anyway, here's the discussion in it's almost full context, I did very little editing, mostly to take out last names to provide a little privacy. Please note that this was a facebook conversation, so neither of our grammar was spot on since we really had no reason to make it so. So please excuse any mistakes on either part. A fair warning, it's a pretty long conversation.

Casey: "Nothing in the world can prompt me to tell you what I really want to say."

Casey: "Does that make me a coward, or a degenerate? Either one is to be frowned

Alec (me): "It makes you human...?"

Casey: "Well of course, but who said that was such a noble effort? Or why must I settle for that, other people make it look so simple lol"

Alec: "Other people make murder look simple too. However, if being human is not what you wish to settle for, then go above and beyond. Don't dwell on your place in society, but instead, analyze society's place on you, then you'll be able to understand what a real coward or degenerate is; not what society says one is."

Casey: "What has society made of us."

Alec: "You can't say us, society has a different effect on each of us, because of how our specific culture has brought us up to see and understand things. You have to decide for yourself what society has made of you. Then, naturally, if you like what it has made you, it's definitions on you, then you can continue to live as a whole part of it, contributing popular ideas that helps to further shape it, help the strong ideas survive. Or, if you don't like what it has made you into, you recreate yourself, in the moral images you see as right. This is, in reality, the only way to be reborn. You certainly don't become a new person, to do that is assuredly impossible, yet you recreate what the effect society has on you to better it in your image. To spread a new type of enculturation, or a new "mutation in a gene" so to speak biologically. If such "mutation" is strong, it will, without a doubt, survive. If not, then it will perish, but will certainly have an effect in the building of a better culture and society. Understand?"

Casey: "I understand the life-form 'society' the living accumulation of every single endeavor is sprung forth by the interaction of each of us and our unique attributes that separate us. But don't misjudge when I group 'us' because it shapes us all. I am a romantic, and perhaps you find it to your distaste, or are even offended by this as a mere imitation of what I've learned, but there is no doubt in my mind that society is a curse to humanity as well as a way of life; there is strength in numbers but there is corruption in numbers; results from individuals grows exponentially with the results from a populous, and my only concern is the truths of this world, the wrongs of this world, and the calculable differences of this world will, in time, give way to precedents in history and follow suit to introduce new customs and ways of life, new ways of thinking that will undermine the everlasting means of our cognition, our perception, our altruism's, our sense of right and wrong, our sense of free will, and even humanity. I can't just be an individual when my contract with society is still existing, because no matter how I change I will not really change to my pleasure, but rather my discourse, because what really does change me? Myself, or the influences of my society? I will always subconsciously be at limbo by the unsatisfied opinion of a free society that is all but free for its people."

Alec: "I certainly don't find distaste, while I personally disagree with you on some points, there is no right or wrong to be stated. That is a universal in and of it self anyhow. The wrongs of this world are rights of another world. There is no universal right or wrong currently existing. Culture defines right and wrong, as well as everything else. Culture can be remade as well to reshape many cultural elements. You say society shapes us all, that is true, but, and as an equal and opposite reaction, we shape society an equal amount. Society is only a curse if you fail to see what it really is. We look at supermodels we can never be like and curse at these images that "society" puts out. However, the only reason these images exist in society is because just like we can never match these images, these images is what people strive to obtain. For society to be a curse on humankind, is for humankind to be a curse of itself. And society becomes a curse when we feel like we have no part in it, but that is a lie. One of the defining elements of being human, is being social, or having a society. Without society, we are not human, just homo-sapians, just another woodland animal to graze and be hunted. The way things change, as you stated above as results of individuals grow on the populous, is, in itself, a type of evolution. However, without knowing where such a evolving body is headed, you preset it's course with one you do not like. In such an evolution, the strongest ideas prosper while the weakest ideas die out. To have culture is to conform to one idea or the other, and to conform is to base your decision on the culture you possess. Culture changes, so the ideas you conform to change as well. And to conform to an idea, is to make it stronger and another like-idea weaker. Each individual has a say in what becomes of society. Yes, sometimes people conform to a "weaker" idea, and that idea eventually dies out with the people whom conform to it. That is the way evolution works. However, to condemn the future of society is to have no faith in the human race. Whatever comes out, will be the strongest idea, thus ushering in a new age, for the betterment of humanity. If it was not for the betterment, then the idea would not be strong."

Casey: "The future of society has always been a decision of each individual, and it needs credit for surpassing the bonds of all other sentient beings on the planet; yet society and the individuals are one in the same, and I cannot say we shape society and society shapes us, it is a redundancy to me. We change how society works, but to say society changes us, is that not a synonym? We all work for a goal in a society, and although it is secondary to my theory that all humans were born to be greedy, it is paramount that we work to sustain the society. To deem society it's own entity is fine, but to deem it promotes attributes in people in too similar to me as to just say 'we shape society'. Now as for the sentiment of conscious, right and wrong, and the idea that morals are relative, and to be individual means to think individual on your own accord, I have to disagree. When a spirituality plays a role in a debate, I have but one option and that is to say there is a stature, there is a right and wrong, whether you know it in your heart while reading Call of the Wild, or when someone decides to be self-concerned and content while the poor suffer a little more without their assistance. But now the disclaimer; I say these things but I do not practice them. My interpretation of the situation is that when something is the regular, you can blame 'the village' for how the child is raised, because it does take fellowship to develop and you are not the lone decider. Altruism exists, but it is as hopeless as eternal life, to be practiced widely, because as I mentioned, I think all humans are greedy by nature. Back to spirituality, I do believe it better to let a culture survive than let it die with the coming of a gospel, simply because I am sentimental like that, and if I am to go to hell for not spreading the doctrine as it is professed, then be it so. Also, I've always had an overwhelming sense of tolerance for the differences of the world, so don't think me a mindless limb of an organized religion, but more of a human who possesses an idea of my origins that may broadly debunk many others."

Alec: "To start, you must see how society changes people. You are arguing somewhat "against" society. That is because the way you view society is not one you like. However, the way you view society is also a element in society, yes, society in a way, calls itself wrong, because you have humans shaping society on the strongest ideas, and the conformers of the weaker ideas voice in society as wrong, which the idea that society is wrong, is strangely a popular, or strong idea, for whatever reason. However, in calling society wrong because there is a strong idea in society that calls itself wrong, is a straight example of how society changes people. And there are countless other examples. But yes, it is a type of synonym, or even a paradox if you will. Many paradox's exist in such discussions, however, paradox's do exist. it becomes impossible when you get to the origin of such a paradox, but it is clearly evident they exist anyway! For example to argue which came first, the chicken or the egg is to simply state the chicken or the egg do not exist, while it clearly does!
Now, greed is not human nature. As there is no evident gene for greed that makes me believe it is. Greed is simply a popular, or strong social aspect, which is then taught through enculturation, or the process of gaining culture by ones "parents" and thus re-manifests itself; Another paradox. Why greed is such a strong social aspect is because it is taught to every person through enculturation. Who started it is unknown, and unimportant because we know it exists.
Furthermore, society is not an entity, but a force, to think of it as an entity is to give it a mind of it's own, which it simply does not have. It is a force created, maintained, tweaked, re-tweaked, destroyed, and then re-created by humans. Which is simply how we shape society, and how society shapes us. I'll give you another example of this if you'd like. In retrospect though, it's simply easier to say that society shapes us, because society is somewhat simply an extension of human ideas, so, again in retrospect, it's a matter of humans shaping humans.
Religion, or spirituality, is a cultural aspect. Culture shapes morals, the conscious, what is seen as right and wrong (which is why we have a type of crude Islam faith that believes 9/11 was a right thing to do). Religion is, among many other things, culturally and socially speaking, is a grouping of like minded people with like ideas that are socially strong for themselves. You call something right or wrong based on your religion or spirituality because that is what your current culture suggests to you, and it is the strongest idea that makes the most since to you. And before you say what about people who do not have a religion in there culture and end up following a religion, well, like I said, culture makes and remakes itself in a process known as agency (where the individual steps in and decides what is the best or strongest ideas for their culture).
Of course, these are my beliefs, and my knowledge based on a very society and culture based first semester...and lifetime of ideologies. And please do not take offense to if something seems offensive. Some people do not see religion as a cultural and social element, yet a divine one. I, as you know, am not one of those people and again am stating from my ideology."

Casey: "You will have to give me some break time; I've read some of it, I'll continue this later lol"
Something tells me that I might have shaken him a bit with the last statement, since I threw out a definition of religion that plays against an absolute ideology. Though i can't say for sure. Hope you enjoyed it.

I am glad that I had this conversation, as it shows that there are intellectual people out their who are religious and may listen to reason, or at least whom we can share inspiring ideas that cause us all to think a little deeper and critically.

TLDR; You really have to read the conversation when you get the chance, It's impossible for me to sum up easily.


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