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If all theological writing were by anonymous authors, would any have value?

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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:42 PM
Original message
Poll question: If all theological writing were by anonymous authors, would any have value?
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 03:43 PM by Boojatta

Sorry, polls are turned off at Level 3.

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Lerkfish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:50 PM
Response to Original message
1. if something expresses a profound truth, its irrelevant who said it.
many theological writings are unattributed already, as it turns out.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:04 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. If it's anonymous, then doesn't that mean that we don't know whether or not
the author is a believer? It would be possible for a lot of theological writing to have been written by people who have or had a deep understanding of religion, but who never actually believed in any religion.

Then there could be a church that happens to use only theological writing by nonbelievers. In that case, would it matter whether or not the people who run the church are believers?

Consider Sunday school teachers. If the authors of all of the textbooks used by the teachers are nonbelievers, then does it matter whether or not the teachers are themselves nonbelievers?
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Lerkfish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:20 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. like I said, a profound truth stands on its own. Not really sure what you're
getting at, though, so I may be missing your point entirely.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:26 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. This is an alternative starting-point that is intended to lead to
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 04:26 PM by Boojatta
the conclusion of the following thread:
The essence of organized religion is lack of faith!
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Lerkfish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. oh, I guess I do better when people actually state what their intent is
when people try to set up threads in order to lead people into a predetermined conclusion, I don't fare as well.

I start responding to the maze intself and don't go down the directed path.

but hey, that's just me.

maybe you'll snare some others instead.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:55 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. You did fine.
When you commit yourself to some particular assumptions, you are committing yourself to some particular conclusions. You can choose to pay no attention to some conclusions that you are committing yourself to, but you are nevertheless committing yourself to them.

Of course, it's possible to debate whether or not some particular assumptions actually imply some particular conclusions. One person can look for defects in some particular reasoning and another person can try to revise an argument to eliminate defects.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 09:08 PM
Response to Reply #1
17. How do you know wether or not something expresses a profound truth?
Do you accept something is as truth because it "feels" like the truth? What if the anonymous writer was me? I bet you I could write a bunch of stuff about god, light, energy and love, and about 50 percent of the people in here would believe I had something important to say....even though I was intentionally lying and trying to con you.

Boojata..TO ME, theological writing has no value whatsoever. All theology is is people writing down non-sense that they feel, without basing it in the real world. I have never found profound truth in any theoligcal writing, and I doubt I ever will.
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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #1
18. Asserting that something is truth does not, in fact, make it true.
It might be true; it might not be true.

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SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. Aren't they already anonymous?
No one knows who wrote the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, and most of their complementary works (some of the Talmud, the Psalms, etc.). So ... I guess I don't get the question. :shrug:
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:09 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Celebrities of religion (such as the Pope) don't just read out loud
old texts written by people who are now dead. They say things and write things.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:14 PM
Response to Original message
5. Begging the question
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 04:15 PM by cosmik debris
Theological writings have only the value given to them by the reader. They have no intrinsic value without the subjective evaluation of the reader. If the reader makes the conscience choice to put value in the author's identity, then it is the reader's choice.

To me, theological writings have no value regardless of who the author might be.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:21 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Raising the question
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 04:28 PM by Boojatta
Theological writings have only the value given to them by the reader.

My intention was not to find out whether or not people know the one right answer, but to get information about what answer is right for each of a variety of DUers who have various subjective preferences.

To me, theological writings have no value regardless of who the author might be.

Good, you understood that I was talking about intrinsic value to you as an individual rather than, for example, resale value.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. For clarity, I guess there should have been two different "No" options.
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 04:36 PM by Boojatta
1. No. If it were all by anonymous authors, then it would all be of zero value. However, it would have zero value regardless of whether or not the authors were anonymous.

2. No. If it were all by anonymous authors, then it would all be of zero value. However, if we were not imagining that all the authors are anonymous, then we wouldn't be able to arrive at the conclusion that no theological writing would have value.

I take it that you would choose the first of these two.
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Lerkfish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 05:00 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. well, this overlooks that religious texts can have value other than
that accorded by the adherents of that religion. For example, there are historical contexts and sociological dynamics of texts.
And the aesthetic considerations. Psalms, for example, can be beautiful as lyrics whether you are judeochristian or not, for example.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 05:18 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. It is still the subjective value given by the reader
Even the social impact of theological writings depend on the individual members of that society agreeing on the value.
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 08:37 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. I second that.
The Hallelujah Chorus is a great piece. My favourite.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-25-06 01:32 PM
Response to Reply #5
26. You're right, but....
Theological writings have only the value given to them by the reader. They have no intrinsic value without the subjective evaluation of the reader. If the reader makes the conscience choice to put value in the author's identity, then it is the reader's choice.

To me, theological writings have no value regardless of who the author might be.


That's true of all writing, and of art in general, wouldn't you agree?

If not, then why not?
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-25-06 02:49 PM
Response to Reply #26
28. Judgment of value
1. "Theological writings have only the value given to them by the reader."

2. "That's true of all writing."

Consider a book about how to build bridges. Suppose some bridges are built by people who studied from the book and most of those bridges collapse. If people investigate and discover that the builders correctly followed the instructions in the book, then various people might conclude that the book has little value.



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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-25-06 03:04 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. Well, all *literary* writing
Since the bible is hardly a technical manual, I figured that it would be clear that I was discussing literary writings.
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:27 PM
Response to Original message
9. If reading something brings one closer to God
than it wouldn't matter who the author was. You can't counterfiet the spirit. If while reading something you feel a connection to something higher than yourself - well, than it's a good thing to read.

If, on the other hand, it doesn't make you feel closer to God, than the religious credentials behind the author wouldn't save it.

Bryant
Check it out --> http://politicalcomment.blogspot.com
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 04:20 AM
Response to Reply #9
19. I asked this above....
What if the anonymous writer was me? What if I, to be evil, decided to write a bunch of stuff that I thought was absolute nonsense, but sounded good? What if I sounded "profound" and I "made you feel closer to god" but was snickering behind your back.

Would it still not matter who wrote it? Would it not matter that the anonymous writer wrote something just to snicker at your gullibility? Wouldn't it lose its value if you found out I wrote it?
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 07:42 AM
Response to Reply #19
20. Why would you want to do that?
What would be the benefit?

But at any rate, in theory at least, you should be able to tell, because the spirit of your hypocricy would shine through, if I were in tune with the spirit. In practice, though, humans are falliable, and, particularly if it was something I wanted to hear anyway, I might well accept it until I found out the truth.

Bryant
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 01:02 PM
Response to Reply #20
23. My point is simply that you SHOULD care who wrote something
and that you do. Anybody can pretend they know the truth...theologians, psychics, con artists. And the only real difference between the theologian and the con-artist is that the con-artist doesn't believe his own bullshit.
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 01:10 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Ah - that's the only difference you say?
Bryant
Check it out --> http://politicalcomment.blogspot.com
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-25-06 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #19
30. Without knowing who wrote it, how would one make the distinction?
If your anonymous writing expresses what is perceived, by some, as a profound truth, then how would that differ from identical writings attributed to some famously transcendent genius?

No difference at all. Judgments about the author of the work are separate from the work.
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damntexdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 05:07 PM
Response to Original message
14. The poll question and categories are meaningless.
It depends on the situation. Just because we have names attached to old copies of old alleged documents, does that give them greater value than were the names absent? But the lack of a name of an author of a recent document can prevent checking on the author's background and other writings.

True, the value of a document, and of an argument, can be vetted absent the author(s)'s name(s) -- in fact, that is preferred for peer review. However, following review, an author is expected to stand behind, and take responsibility for, what was said.
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 11:34 AM
Response to Original message
21. As I am reading the novel now
and it deals with religion to a great extent, I would like to ask the question: Would the Brother's Karamazov be less worth reading if written by anonymous? Would the work mean less if someone who didn't struggle with religion himself wrote it? Does Dostoyevsky's background enhance the reading experience? Or is it a great work of literature standing on it's own?

I personally think that a little of both is the answer. Works can stand on their own, definitely, but the author's experience is, undoubtably, where the work is born out of. Since nobody experiences the same life as anybody else, I don't think that anybody would be truly capable of writing a sincere work on the discussion of theological matters unless they were writing what through their own experiences. (Whether the work would uphold current theological beliefs, whether Christian, Judaic, Buddhist, or Pagan... or whether the work would disprove the ability to prove God's existance.)

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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 11:51 AM
Response to Original message
22. Hard to say.
If there were some kind of requirement about it, you'd certainly cut back on the charlatans and hucksters who publish books of "profound wisdom" and who manage to eke out quite the comfortable luxury life sharing supernatural nuggets with the unwashed masses.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-25-06 12:54 PM
Response to Original message
25. I found a good example
"Spirituality is all and it lives in immediacy."

Does this statement have any value? If you knew who said it would it be more or less valuable?
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-25-06 01:34 PM
Response to Reply #25
27. It sounds like a fortune cookie
But I may not be a good one to provide an answer, since "spirituality" doesn't have much meaning to me.

In any case, the value of this statement does not vary given the identity of the speaker.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-25-06 05:23 PM
Response to Reply #27
31. And yet it got 9 votes for the Greatest Page! n/t
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-27-06 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #31
32. But is that relevant?
Did it get those 9 votes because of who said it?

And, if so, does the identity of the speaker give it more value? How so?
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-27-06 11:17 AM
Response to Reply #32
33. I'm sorry
I can't answer most of those questions. I suppose that my point was that being on DU gives it more credibility to some than it would have if found in a fortune cookie. That is, you can say bogus mumbo jumbo in an intellectual form and it gets more respect that it would if you said it in a Chinese restaurant.

But that is a generalization that has all the flaws of generalization in general.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-27-06 12:40 PM
Response to Reply #33
34. Actually, I think that you've hit on an important point
Edited on Fri Oct-27-06 01:01 PM by Orrex
The fact that one forum's mumbo-jumbo is another forum's wisdom just shows that context is important in interpretation, but that the underlying work itself (and the value thereof) doesn't change. For example, to someone who doesn't believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the New Testament is of little value as a source of Messianic wisdom. The work is the same in both cases, but in diffent contexts the value varies greatly.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-27-06 12:46 PM
Response to Reply #34
35. You stated that point better than I did. Thank you n/t
Edited on Fri Oct-27-06 12:50 PM by cosmik debris
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-27-06 01:01 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. Thanks--I love this kind of discussion
I also made a small edit to that post to clarify something re: the New Testament, but the main point is unaltered.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-27-06 01:19 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. We have changed Boojatta's original point
from authorship to context. But I believe that they are related. The writings of the New Testament would be inconsequential without their context, but also inconsequential without attribution to a Deity and his entourage.

Remember Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land? It was a beautiful allegory of the Christ story, but it has no religious value because it was not written by an apostle.
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