The General Tolkien News Thread

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by halfwise on Mon Apr 21, 2014 3:24 am

I'd hardly call 15 years 'at one point'. And he didn't say simply he was angry with God, but angry with God for not existing. I'd say he most definitely was an atheist, but didn't want to be one any more than he wanted to be a christian during this period, during which he dabbled in pre-christian spiritualism. And though he returned to the familiar Anglican church, his writings are rather ecumenical. I'd say his distancing himself from Christianity was a very sincere journey that strongly affected his latter relationship with it.

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by Eldorion on Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:51 am

halfwise wrote:And he didn't say simply he was angry with God, but angry with God for not existing.

If he sincerely believed that God didn't exist, he wouldn't have been angry at him (or he would have been crazy).  Lewis himself never claimed that this made a whole lot of sense.  Here's the full quote:

C. S. Lewis wrote:I was at that time living like many atheists; in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with him for creating a world. Why should creatures have the burden of existence forced on them without their consent?

There's a difference between atheists and rebellious Christians, even though it's a very common practice in apologetics to pretend that all atheists are just rebelling against what they know deep down to be true.
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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by halfwise on Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:59 am

that's a good point that true atheists don't find the existential reasons behind their atheism something to be angry about. They also don't consider atheism to be a whirl of contradictions: just the opposite.

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by David H on Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:17 pm

I find it endlessly entertaining how many people seem to feel there are logical proofs of who is or is not a Christian, an Atheist, a Muslim etc.  Shouldn't the individual have some say in the matter?  Isn't that sort of fundamental to the concept of freedom of religion?

You see this in all social groups really I guess. Who is or isn't White. Who is or isn't Black. Who is or isn't Hispanic. Who is or isn't Gay.  As I said, endlessly entertaining! Laughing

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:37 pm

I believe I dont know, but I hope for the best and, as I'm crabbit, except to be hugely disappointed by whatever it all turns out to be about. Its probably just mice.  Mad 

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by Mrs Figg on Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:00 pm

if you remember the Beatles and countless other artists like Madonna and some people in society have gone in search of meaning, whether its an Indian guru, crystals, kabbalah or some other such new age stuff the point is once the certainty of Christianity lost its hold many people felt cast adrift and went on a quest for something to replace belief. If atheists dont need any spiritual bolstering what do they replace religion with? or dont they have anything to replace it with? A lot of casual atheists just replace spirituality with comsumerism they fill the void, if there is a void, with 'stuff'. Or maybe atheists just believe this is the only life we have and therefore its best to try to help Others in this life rather than the next, if the next doesnt exist. A lot of stories say theres a White light and next minute you find yourself in heaven or somewhere else and its hot. Some scientists say the White light is just your brain chemistry firing off the last electric neurons and its all physiological. who knows.

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by Eldorion on Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:24 pm

David H wrote:I find it endlessly entertaining how many people seem to feel there are logical proofs of who is or is not a Christian, an Atheist, a Muslim etc.  Shouldn't the individual have some say in the matter?  Isn't that sort of fundamental to the concept of freedom of religion?

I could claim to be a Christian, but if I reject the concept of the Trinity, of the divinity of Christ, of the concept of salvation, or the existence of a personal God, then people would be fully justified in questioning by what standard I thought myself to be a Christian. (This isn't a hypothetical, by the way, but a fairly common issue in the Quaker circles I was raised in. Wink) The analogy is imperfect since there is no atheist dogma, but it's the same general point. This is not a case of people saying "well you don't agree with my interpretation of scripture, so I don't think you're a real ____", which is just an example of the No True Scotsman fallacy. It's a case of people describing themselves as something while not fitting the most basic definition of the term.
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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by halfwise on Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:33 pm

If you can't define it Dave, how do you expect to properly fill out a form? Bureaucracy depends on check boxes, and your mamsy-pamsy "oh I can be whatever religion I feel like today, or maybe I won't be anything" will bring the whole edifice crashing down. I hope you're proud.  Evil or Very Mad 

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by David H on Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:16 pm

halfwise wrote:If you can't define it Dave, how do you expect to properly fill out a form?  Bureaucracy depends on check boxes, and your mamsy-pamsy "oh I can be whatever religion I feel like today, or maybe I won't be anything" will bring the whole edifice crashing down.  I hope you're proud.  Evil or Very Mad 


Oh if only it were so easy, I'd be prouder than you can know! cheers 

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by David H on Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:32 pm

Eldorion wrote:

I could claim to be a Christian, but if I reject the concept of the Trinity, of the divinity of Christ, of the concept of salvation, or the existence of a personal God, then people would be fully justified in questioning by what standard I thought myself to be a Christian.  (This isn't a hypothetical, by the way, but a fairly common issue in the Quaker circles I was raised in. Wink)  
Ah, those old debates among the Quakers.  Rolling Eyes  If only they could agree to just be Friends....   Razz 

Eldorion wrote:The analogy is imperfect since there is no atheist dogma, but it's the same general point.  This is not a case of people saying "well you don't agree with my interpretation of scripture, so I don't think you're a real ____", which is just an example of the No True Scotsman fallacy.  It's a case of people describing themselves as something while not fitting the most basic definition of the term.

This is the problem though. There is not just one definition, ore even one most basic definition.  What does the free-love hippy-dippy flower-passing Christian share with the judgmental Deep South Moral Majority Christian, with the Anglican, Roman Catholic, the Orthodox, the Ethiopian Coptic (more Christian than most historically).   There's almost no common ground except for text and faith, but even those differ.

That's what the "Born Again" movement was trying to institute:
Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, and become born again in the Holy Spirit?
Please check Yes or No.


And the fundamental problem about a simple test for atheism is it defines itself as opposed to something, but to what? Until you define that, the definition of atheism is still a bit open. It can reasonably be understood to be not believing in the the True God as understood by any particular group at any time.

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by azriel on Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:09 pm

quite interesting reading on whether there's religion, ANY religion & what religion can define a person. Are we all, on this planet, to be put in boxes ? (not a grumble ! just an out loud thought ?) Groups set among us, to be designated one better than the other faith, maybe ??? I dont know !! I never try to think of Faith/religion about myself or anyone else really. A person is a person, good or not so good. We are all here a certain length of time, some may live longer than others. I dont curse a 'God' of any particular faith/religion because my life has hit a shitty spot, or bless a God because its gone fabulously well. I respect my friends beliefs in their own faith, (& ive had some cracking jokes from them about religion etc !) because I know how it helps & supports them. I do believe in a Guardian angel, & I guess that sounds daft after what I have just said but, I believe we all have one & its a member of our past family, so, that now obviously begs the question, Re-incarnation ! IF I believe in a past uncle or aunty then, there has to be a life after this one ? but, surely thats thanks to a God & a heaven ? Yet I dont believe in Seances & these so called 'get togethers' where some strange person swoons everywhere & says Mrs Jones cat, Timmy, has a message from beyond the grave ! Im confused by my own logic at times ! I trust to the natural world, & the actions of wildlife for my daily presence on Earth. Though the amount of fooking weird stuff thats happened in my life questions me about 'another life' ?? Oh fook ! who started this ?

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by Eldorion on Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:43 pm

David H wrote:Ah, those old debates among the Quakers.  Rolling Eyes  If only they could agree to just be Friends....   Razz 

Well played. Laughing

This is the problem though. There is not just one definition, ore even one most basic definition.  What does the free-love hippy-dippy flower-passing Christian share with the judgmental Deep South Moral Majority Christian, with the Anglican, Roman Catholic, the Orthodox, the Ethiopian Coptic (more Christian than most historically).   There's almost no common ground except for text and faith, but even those differ.

Cutting through all the politics, differences in interpretation, and degree of severity (which, to be sure, are all significant), I'm pretty sure all of those groups still believe in the basics as outlined in the Nicene and/or Apostles' creeds.  Sure, more progressive Christians might fudge the whole idea that Jesus is the only way to Salvation (who really wants to be the one to say Gandhi is burning in hell?), but for the most part they still teach the basics. But there are a lot of Quakers (and UUs) who dispute even that.

And the fundamental problem about a simple test for atheism is it defines itself as opposed to something, but to what? Until you define that, the definition of atheism is still a bit open. It can reasonably be understood to be not believing in the the True God as understood by any particular group at any time.

It can be complicated, but I don't think it's that difficult.  Atheism, on a linguistic level, simply means that you are not a theist.  Theism is the belief in a god or gods, most commonly a single God who is responsible for the creation of the world and the human race.  (Obviously there are disagreement over the details, including whether God created everything 6000 years ago, or billions.)  Of course, there are some religions that fit the literal definition, so atheism more commonly means someone who does not have any religious beliefs.  But to bring this back to the Lewis topic, I'd argue that being angry at God counts as a religious belief, no matter what label an individual adopts.
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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by David H on Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:18 pm

Eldorion wrote: I'm pretty sure all of those groups still believe in the basics as outlined in the Nicene and/or Apostles' creeds.  Sure, more progressive Christians might fudge the whole idea that Jesus is the only way to Salvation (who really wants to be the one to say Gandhi is burning in hell?), but for the most part they still teach the basics.  But there are a lot of Quakers (and UUs) who dispute even that.

Yes, the Nicene Creed, despite all the tweaking, is in theory the point of union between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches, and yes the Coptics are nominally Orthodox, but  I think their traditions still carry the seeds of the heretical doctrine that gave rise to the creed in the first place.  

As for questioning even these basic principles, that's almost exactly what monastic orders exist for. They provide a safe place for intellectuals to question and explore, as long as they pay lip service to doctrine, without allowing the cancer  of heretical doctrine to metastasize into the Body of the Church.



  But to bring this back to the Lewis topic, I'd argue that being angry at God counts as a religious belief, no matter what label an individual adopts.
 
And I'd argue that Religious Belief is not to be equated with Belief in God, especially for the purpose of definition of Atheism. There can be no doubt that God exists linguistically and philosophically. Even the most hardcore atheist must admit that or he's got nothing to shout about. But the question of spiritual existence and tangible existence become quite a bit vaguer.  

I can absolutely imagine a questioning Lewis being angry at and feeling betrayed by a philosophical God whose tangible existence he no longer believes and whose spiritual existence he is divided by.  If such a man chooses to think of himself as atheist, and that helps him philosophically, who am I to argue?

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by halfwise on Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:27 pm

I'm pretty much with David in saying that Lewis would be classed as an atheist because he had logical problems believing god would exist. But the angry with god for not existing comment classes him as a particular type of atheist, one who would be happier if only he could believe god exists. The other type is delighted to believe that god does not exist. Both are technically still atheists, but I think they are miles apart.

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by Eldorion on Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:40 pm

I'll admit that I am unsympathetic to Lewis' claims because after his return to the church he became one of the most prominent advocates of the idea that atheists in general are just angry at God, which in addition to simply being bullshit has made plenty of people's lives more difficult (my own included) when it comes to dealing with religious friends and family members.

Halfwise wrote:I'm pretty much with David in saying that Lewis would be classed as an atheist because he had logical problems believing god would exist. But the angry with god for not existing comment classes him as a particular type of atheist, one who would be happier if only he could believe god exists. The other type is delighted to believe that god does not exist. Both are technically still atheists, but I think they are miles apart.

I more or less agree, though I'm still uncomfortable with using the same word to describe both groups (and I wouldn't say "delighted").  I think there are plenty of atheists who acknowledge the comfort that comes with the idea of a benevolent God and don't resent the concept, but who don't or can't believe in it.  But I think that is significantly different from the sort of person who remains emotionally invested in the idea of God and is unable to let go of it for years or decades after leaving the faith.


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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by David H on Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:49 pm

I would love to have had an opportunity to have met Lewis. Wouldn't be interesting to bring him into the conversation about now? Whatever you may think of his ideas, I think he comes across as a genuinely decent and thoughtful person.

I know exactly what you're referring to regarding his influence, but I think I can confidently say that plenty of people's lives were plenty difficult when dealing with religious friends and family long before CSL came along. He was simply an articulate man at a focal point in history.

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by Eldorion on Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:12 am

I can't say I know much about Lewis as a person, and much of what I do is filtered through the viewpoint of Tolkien and his biographers, and given the sometimes contentious nature of their relationship it is probably not 100% reliable.  But I have nothing against Lewis the individual nor any reason to think he was a bad person.  I have no doubt you're correct about difficulties before Lewis, too, but as a particularly influential and eloquent figure he's an easy poster boy for that sort of thing. Razz
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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by chris63 on Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:34 am


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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by azriel on Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:04 am

Im fond of those sketches, way out of proportion but, their cosy

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by Eldorion on Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:09 pm

I'm especially fond of the curved mirror on the left-hand side there. Razz
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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by azriel on Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:52 pm

I know ! That hobbit looks way to small for that place & the door is huge !  Laughing

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:09 pm

Little known hobbit fact- they are great hinge builders, huge doors that close with ease and a gentle hobbit sized thrust of the hand, perfect pivoting action  Nod 

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by azriel on Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:11 pm

And ear plugs for the Clang ! cos going by the size of that door against the size of that hobbit, its gonna make one heck of a ding !  Smile

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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by malickfan on Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:33 pm


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Re: The General Tolkien News Thread

Post by azriel on Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:44 pm

Nice for me, if I lived in the Netherlands but, what if you hated LOTRs ?? every road & street to come home to ?? ok, what road or street would you choose, if you could to live there ?  Smile

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