Vince (Login MoxiFox) Von Klumpen Posted Aug 13, 2010 10:33 PM
I think the Deist position offers the best compromise between these two extremes. Here's a quote from Thomas Paine -admittedly a fellow who heavily influenced the American Declaration of Independence...
Any person who has made observations on the state and progress of the human mind by observing his own cannot but have observed that there are two distinct classes of what are called thoughts those that we produce in ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking, and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord. I have always made it a rule to treat these voluntary visitors with civility, taking care to examine, as well as I was able, if they were worth entertaining, and it is from them I have acquired almost all the knowledge that I have. As to the learning that any person gains from school education, it serves only, like a small capital, to put him in a way of beginning learning for himself afterward.
Every person of learning is finally his own teacher, the reason of which is that principles, being a distinct quality to circumstances, cannot be impressed upon the memory; their place of mental residence is the understanding and they are never so lasting as when they begin by conception.
Isn't that beautiful? I think atheists would readily agree that MUCH of their own inspiration didn't come from mulling things over and systematically writing down their thoughts on paper, organizing them and then coming out with a "consensus" of logic to create the framework for their philosophy. No ... great ideas usually FLASH into one's head ... seemingly from the outside!
So, Deists attribute that to an outside unknown force. They don't claim to know WHAT it is but they recognize that the thoughts were not deliberately planned by their own brains.
There are those who cherish such spontaneous illumination and then there are those who simply MEMORIZE what they're told and practice it until they become proficient at practice. These people operate by "rote" and seemingly ... can NOT entertain any thoughts that haven't already been pre-digested for them by someone(s) else. That would be fundamentalist religionists and ... perhaps fundamentalist atheists too!~