The concept of God was the answer to every question that man could formulate and not answer. If man is created in God’s image, then God must be thought and reasoning, since that is the one thing more highly developed in man than in others.
God is an idea that serves a multitude of uses to the believer. It can represent whatever you want it to, but it usually reflects one’s own existing opinions. Beyond this, it cannot be defined without reference to the specifics held by particular believers.
I can’t say what God is, because I think it’s a confusingly defined word. In order to understand what other people mean when they say, “God,” I listen to others and interpret what they are saying into a definition of God that helps me communicate with them. Based on this, I think that what most people mean when they say “God” is: the universe.
That is, God is all there is. God is responsible for all there is. The universe is all there is. The universe is itself and there is nothing more than the universe. To me, that sounds a lot like the way others think of God.
If the universe were a conscious entity, it would probably know itself to some degree. If man were made in the universe’s image, then we can reverse engineer and make some guesses about how the universe works. In the area of knowing everything, I do not think we could say that a human knows everything about itself—not in a conscious way, anyway.
However, taken as a system, the human body knows itself completely—just not consciously. Functionally, the universe “knows” everything, because it contains everything.
Of course, the above is an attempt to understand the Judeo-Christian traditional understanding of God. Part of the problem is that there are as many definitions of God as there are people, I think. We can group these definitions into various religions, but even within religions, there are many different understandings of the term.
Outside the Judeo-Christian tradition, it gets more complex. In Buddhism there seems to be a God or not be a God depending on your understanding. In a funny way, Buddhism seems to be agnostic about God. You can believe in one or not, Buddhism still can be practiced.
Hinduism seems to have any number of Gods, and most of them, based on my very limited knowledge, seem to represent various attributes of humanity—writ mythic. Personally, I like this kind of God because it is easier to deal with one kind of thing at a time.
Other native spiritualities, such as those of native people in Australia, or the US, and probably other places, seem to have a different kind of way of relating to a God. I don’t know if they’d even describe it as a God. It might be more like the planet or their interaction with their environment. Their focus, perhaps, in a very vague and general sense, is more on their immediate lives and what they need to survive in a daily way. To some degree it is about respect for the world they live in, but I think they get more credit for that than they deserve, since clearly they have a violent and selfish side as well.
Anyway, for me, all this suggests that God is a simple term that represents just about everything. It is a metaphor for the universe, which includes that which individuals interact with most—sometimes the land; sometimes people; sometimes whatever. God is a sense of perfectness of creation or everything as the individual understands it. But an individual’s understanding of creation is limited, so God is that which the individual doesn’t understand about creation.
I think people use “God” as a kind of mental placeholder for knowledge. Or really, lack of knowledge. There is much an individual doesn’t know, but God knows all of it. I think that this idea gives people a kind of security.
Not knowing things is very dangerous. When you don’t know things, you don’t know what might hurt you. People can get very anxious about what they don’t know. Sometimes debilitatingly anxious. We need to get anxious about not knowing because that motivates us to find out—and that enables us to be (arguably) the most competitive creature on the planet.
However, I think our need to learn, while a great asset, can also be a great problem. That is because when we really need to know something and we can’t know it, we get thrown into this horrible anxiety.
Enter the concept of “God.” God is the explanation for all that we don’t know. In believing in God (or Gods), we can quiet our fear of the unknown. We can make ourselves believe that the unknown is not so threatening. We can cope with the unknown while still working to figure it out.
I was just thinking about the idea that “God is unknowable.” I guess we can’t quite say that the unknown is unknowable, because we are figuring out the unknown all the time. On the other hand, there will always be that we don’t know—that which we have not yet figured out. In a way, that is unknowable—because there will always be some unknown.
In the totality of the universe, there is what we know and what we don’t know. For most people, I believe, God resides in what we don’t know.
God is a term used to mean anything from specific deities like Zeus and Yahweh to vague notions that even atheists believe in, like the Force from Star Wars. The word has become so broad so as to be almost meaningless.
I prefer to define God as “a powerful being with a personality and an active role and interest in human history and morality.” Such deities are, of course, all fictional.
…different to everyone.
To me He is the creator of the universe and all good things. He is real to me and I experience him in a very tangible sense. Am I right? I dunno. But I am going to live for what I believe in and when I die, I guess I’ll find out.
Now I’m interested as to what God is to you @zen_.
Non-existent. There is no invisible man in the sky waiting to punish you if you don’t follow selected rules from an ancient storybook.. if “Gawd” is omnipotent, why do so many INNOCENT children die from hunger and disease? If Gawd can’t help the INNOCENT children, then he’s not a Gawd. The story Gawd is more far fetched than Santa Claus….
I cannot for the life of me understand why my belief in my God is so offensive to some of you. I have not harmed you in any way. I debate in the most logical, straightforward manner I know how. Yet some of you seem to consider me a lower form of life because of my beliefs. I have no problem allowing you your own beliefs, why do you have a problem with mine?
Awesome. I feel (and I don’t want to assume, but again it’s just a feeling) that the people who get most offended conflate religion with belief or faith, or are so used to people being offended by their disbelief that they automatically take a defensive stance on the subject. Disbelief can be expressed in a more rational manner I think.
And I think your question is apropos of how I just realized I might formulate my opinion of “god”:
God is…dangerous when demanding obedience, and wonderful when asking for acceptance.
I have no problem with anyone doing anything their lil hearts desire as long as they don’t harm others in the process. Your behavior and your emotions and thoughts are between you and whatever power you recognize. I am still called to love you and to be always ready to answer any questions you might have of me. Other than that, I generally try to be the best example I can be, but I will never press my beliefs on others.
So if Jesus was a Jew – because Mary was a Jew – but someone above ^ said God was “not Jewish” (presumably because He came before Judaism), and since man was made in the image of God, and the earliest known men were closer to Africans: doesn’t that mean Jesus was a mulatto?
And God was not married to Mary before he knocked her up, and didn’t stick around after day-today, so: God.. was the father of a beautiful bastard latchkey mulatto stepchild baby.
@iamthemob Lets see…Where does it say god created man…Hmmm…Could it be a religious book called the christian bible? What did the persons comment say that I responded to? It said, “Always interesting to see how many don’t believe in the person who created them.” Except for the omission of god for person, it is straight from the bible which is a religious book. see where the reference to religion came from now?
@Ben_Dover Been through every theological discussion you could think of. You can believe what you like where your god is concerned. I hope it gives you some sort of comfort or whatever it is you need to get from it. I feel however, it will be you that is surprised when you realize you have been told a fairytale.
I was particularly moved by what @CaptainHarley wrote. I do hope you feel differently now, and should you ever need a friend – we, your jellymates, are here. I personally read everything you write, am proud and humbled by your service to your country and freedom in general, and wish you health and happiness always, but a special wish for the New Year which falls this evening.
May you all, whether you believe in Him or not, be blessed with health and happiness, always.
God…. might be my thing if it weren’t for religion. There. I said it. I find power, beauty, infinity in everything around me; the things I see and the power of nature. Therefore, science has become my god and learning everything I can about the order and disorder of things I can see and the parts of the Universe I can’t. @CaptainHarley – I don’t disrespect people who have other beliefs. Studying science has taught me that a person who thinks is prepared to revise their ideas when shown a new set of information. Everyone has sources of information they rely on and we don’t all agree on those sources sometimes. I do, however, dislike being disrespected when I talk about my own beliefs, so I seldom do.
In my school-girl fantasies, I like to think that upon death, a new door opens just for a moment where our mortal being is given just a glimpse, for a second, of what everything is all about… and we can finally say to ourselves..‘Ah… so THAT’S it… ’ like being given the answer to puzzle that we’ve worked on for years and years. And then we die.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
@FireMadeFlesh Point being? I think that just points to one or a few similar stories. The story of Jesus wasn’t only a christian tale. It was from way before Jesus’s time. Virgin birth, son of a “God”, etc. etc. Not a Christian original. They even celebrate Jesus’s b-day on a pagan holiday. The date Dec. 25 was a pagan ritual. Feast of the son of Isis. http://www.essortment.com/all/christmaspagan_rece.htm
@Russell_D_SpacePoet the Papal Romans co-opted a lot of the pagan holidays and made them their own. It was a way to make the peace and ‘Universal-ify’ (read Catholicism) the new religion. That’s not news. They did what Romans were always good at: Bread and Circus.
@Russell_D_SpacePoet I agree with you wholeheartedly that the story of Jesus is not an original Christian legend. We could both cite many examples to support that claim. But that is the dogmatic perception of J foisted upon us by religion. Christianity suggests we believe that eternal salvation (Heaven) is earned by simply acknowledging that J was A.-The Son of God, B.-Was virgin birthed, C.-Died for our sins, and D.-Rose from the dead…
That’s the religious J. But J never wanted religion and never claimed any of those things that religion claims about him.
What is original, is the teachings of Jesus. It was very original for his time and geographical region. It was so original that it got him killed. The story of J and the teachings of J are two different things. Jesus promoted The Way, and that’s what the movement was called before religion got a hold of it and turned it into Christianity.
Every person has to make their own decision about God and regardless of belief or non-belief, we should respect each other. It’s not a fairy tale to me. I’ve been a Christian since the age 12. When I was in college, my faith was tested many times, and I’m still a believer and will be one until my last breathe. If I’m wrong, my Faith has helped me through out my whole life. But, down deep in my heart, I don’t think I’m wrong. In my quiet moments with my Bible in hand, crying on my knees, and looking to Him for strength and support, He has always been there for me. This I know with all my heart and soul.
Many don’t believe because of the horrors of this world. Children dying of starvation, earthquakes killing thousands, etc., but God provides a way to go to a better World. God sent his Son to this World to die for our sins, and by believing in Him, we can spent eternity in Heaven with Him. That is His promise.
I certainly don’t have all the answers. There are many things that I don’t understand. I just have to believe with the Faith of a “little child!” I’ve never tried to intellectualize my Faith. It’s impossible. Again, if I’m wrong, I’ve lived a good life because of Him. Loving your neighbor, visiting the sick, a giving spirit to others, living life under man’s laws, being good to my family, etc., those are all wonderful by products of being a Christian.
Been through every theological discussion you could think of. You can believe what you like where your god is concerned. I hope it gives you some sort of comfort or whatever it is you need to get from it. I feel however, it will be you that is surprised when you realize you have been told a fairytale.
Please prove, with a list, the fact that theological discussions are finite and that you’ve had each and every one of them and proven factually you have the better position. If you can do that, I will be astounded and forced to agree with you.
You know… it has occurred to me, and not for the first time, that life itself is a gift. Just to have been alive… how marvelous! To sit on your porch of an evening with your favorite drink, savoring the evening breezes. To have an old dog love you and wait patiently at your feet for another petting. To stand on a hilltop and survey the surrounding natural wonders. To see the trust of you in the eyes of a small child, and to make him or her giggle with delight at something you said or did. To hold the hand of one who loves you, and whom you love in return, and contemplate the years you have had together. To see love in the eyes of another and realize that is a wonder beyond understanding. To stand under a star-flooded sky and know that despite how small and seemingly insignificant you are, you are loved.
What a marvelous gift! To whom or what should I be thankful? To me it makes more sense to imbue the universe with meaning and personality, than to think that all the love I feel and the chance to experience life is nothing more than the chance outcome of impersonal processes.
I believe that you and I, as conscious beings, are helping in the process of the entire universe becoming self-aware, and that our purpose is the preservation and nuturance of all that lives.
@iamthemob I guess I should have used the words almost every. I’m sure there some things I haven’t heard in the religious arguments I have been involved in. Sorry, I don’t keep transcripts of all my theological discussions. I doubt anyone does.
@Russell_D_SpacePoet Oh! And all this time I thought it was because he challenged the authority of the Pharisee’s and Sadjucee’s, by calling them liars and thieves whilst giving the population a new law that fulfilled all the others thereby turning people away from the temple and causing them to find the Kingdom of Heaven within you rather than at the doorstep of the temple prostitutes… and also because his followers referred to him as the Messiah and the Son of God, which was blasphemous to the corrupt Jewish religi.
@CaptainHarleyI have no problem with anyone doing anything their lil hearts desire as long as they don’t harm others in the process.
That’s great. Now if only all the other Christians in this country felt the same, maybe I could marry my boyfriend.
I know the pain that some people who are currently forbidden to marry endure. Perhaps someday we will all understand that each and every one of us is simply trying to make the best of what we were given; that none of us asked to be here, or for the circumstances in which we find ourselves. When compassion overcomes prejudice, the entire world will rejoice!
In the meantime, do not allow bitterness to get a foothold in your life. Live the life God gave you, and forgive those who cannot see.
@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Did you not read the part, (in the bible), where Jesus over turned the money changers tables and they in turn went to Pontius Pilate demanding something be done about Jesus? Yes he was challenging their authority. Never said he didn’t. It was the incident at the temple that sealed his fate. IMO.
Yes I’ve read it, and written many a detailed dissertation on the subject. It’s rare to even find a sermon on the specific incident, and I have never once found any satisfactory explanation from any pastor which accounts for the anger Jesus exhibited during that episode. But though I have found my own understandings for those passages, I can at best, only call them an excuse, and not the actual reason why Jesus was killed.
13And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;
16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
@RealEyesRealizeRealLies most pastors, according to my experience, have taken the position he used a “cat of nine tails” in the temple. Like so much of the Bible it’s left to the interpertation of men.
@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I can certainly see where you are coming from reading the scripture several times. It’s vague. It’s amazing what I’ve taken for granted most of my life, and to find out I could be wrong. ...but, my pastor said it and they are always right..loll Well, either way, He cleaned them out. Just thinking, i would bet that there are a lot of churches today, He would like to clean out! loll
Either way, the point is that Jesus showed anger and actually fashioned a tool to serve a purpose. He didn’t pick one up, he actually made it. And it was intended to strike fear and possibly even cause pain. I have no idea if he actually hit anyone with it.
You’re lucky to have even found a pastor that will attempt to teach on the subject. I find that sermons on this topic are quite rare, and they always miss the points that I have discovered for myself. Very often, they are used to support @Russell_D_SpacePoet‘s position that the temple incident was the reason Jesus was put to death. I don’t think that’s the reason at all. I think it may have been one of the excuses, but not the real reason.
Point being, that although I’ve heard the story told a handful of times, I’ve never once heard a lesson taught about the incident. And simply telling the story and claiming it as a reason causes us to actually miss the lesson that is available. Every act of Jesus was a lesson to be learned. And I would suggest that the one time in which he actually demonstrates anger to the point of fashioning a tool to execute his intentions is an extremely important lesson that should be acknowledged.
What I’ve gleaned from the story of Jesus in the Temple, is a lesson that no pastor has ever taught, as far as I’m aware of. We should note that Jesus was very peaceful and forgiving in all areas of his life. There was definitely commerce being conducted outside of the temple, so his issue isn’t with commerce. I think there’s a bigger lesson here.
Jesus consistently stated that the Kingdom of Heaven is in You. He also referred to himself as The Temple. I think what he was demonstrating, is that although we can be kind and understanding to others and the perceived evil we see in them, we should not be kind and understanding to the evil that is within ourselves. When it’s in Our House, we should root it out by any means possible, even at the expense of using a tool or looking angry and foolish. We don’t negotiate with evil in our hearts. We don’t justify it, we don’t cover it up, and we don’t attempt to brush it aside as a little thing. We destroy it immediate no matter what the cost. That’s what I get out of it anyway.
Now I wish there was a good pastor out there who actually understood the lessons to be found in the story of Jesus and the Fig Tree…;)
Oh, beautiful said, and totally correct my friend @RealEyesRealizeRealLies ! In my own life, when I lose my Irish temper…I know it was wrong. Today, rarely ever lose it with His help. Jesus expects me to be consistent with my actions. i try my best to be the same person anywhere. That would be me trying to always representing what He would want. Well, that is my goal as a follower, but like everyone, i goof occasionally. loll There is no halo over my head, but i do the best i can.
Really enjoyed reading your comments. So well written and thought out.
Where am I wrong concerning the Biblical God? Set me straight.
1. God creates mankind.
2. Mankind screws up.
3. God knew mankind would screw up before it happened.
4. For punishments, God makes mankind mortal, increases woman’s pain, etc.
5. For a mortal human being, it is impossible to be sin free.
6. For humans, salvation is impossible on their own. (This is part of God’s plan)
7. God (who is also Jesus) sends himself as a blood sacrifice to himself to “save” humanity from the sins that mortal human beings cannot help but commit.
8. If someone does not “accept” this “free gift” of salvation, then they will suffer/die/implode/whatever for eternity.
How, exactly, is this different from being born with a deformed/diseased leg and then needing to ask your father for forgiveness for not being able to walk perfectly? Or needing to “believe” in your father before your father gives you the cure for your deformity/disease?
As a father of three, if one or more of my children were suffering from a disease or deformity, and I had the cure… how long do you think it would take me to administer the cure? (if you guessed immediately, you’d be right) Would a loving father require “love” or “belief” from his children before the cure was administered? Would a loving father not unconditionally administer an antidote for a disease that causes eternal torment, destruction, misery or whatever? And I mean unconditionally. No repentance, no reciprocation at all. For my part, it doesn’t matter to me if my kids denied my existence or even hated me, as regards providing automatic and unconditional protection from eternal torment, destruction, torture, darkness, or however a Christian might like to describe not being saved. The notion that one of my kids would even need to ask me for the cure – in order to actually get it – would be criminal – and I’d rightly be put in jail. And don’t try the “well if you don’t want the cure, then you don’t deserve the cure” routine. My kids don’t want to take antibiotics or get stitches either. Please craft thoughtful responses without appealing to emotion or non-Biblical sources. Set me straight!
@zen_ : Seeing your point to be sure, but “God” in Exodus and Leviticus have all of that beat by a long shot. The Biblical God butchered babies because Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by the Biblical God himself! I for one, am stunned when I hear Christians defend the butchering of babies. Usually these defenses revolve around the “mysterious ways” or “we can’t understand God” arguments. Funny how some Christians are so willing to admit they don’t understand the ways of God, but yet they’re sure that the “ways” of God simply must be good (of course). It doesn’t compute for me.
@soarwing11 I understand and see the same suffering that you do. Like i said, i don’t have some of these answers. I just do the best i can to honor Him by the way I live.
Wish could talk longer, but i’ve got to go see my 87 year old Mom. She has Alzheimer’s! Everyone suffers in this World, my hope is the next one will be better.
Just read your last comments. God allowed us to be free moral agents and live as we chose. Unfortunately, there are evil people in this crazy World. The Pharoah’s killed those babies, not God. Yes, He allowed it to happen as He still does today…I don’t understand either. Everyday, we see evil people that kill others. It’s a sad world we live in….for sure. But, again, my hope is the next World, Heaven, will be better.
My friend, hope you have a great day also, and really enjoyed our conversation. Take care.
@BoBo1946: So the Pharaoh sent the plagues? The Pharaoh killed the babies and the livestock too? When you have time, could you give me a Biblical reference for that claim? Looking forward to hearing from you.
@BoBo1946 it wasn’t a angel of the Pharaoh that killed the first born. Why should a person that doesn’t share the same faith as other citizens of a country have to suffer for his disbelief?
That is no different from some Christians or Muslims that we should all share their version of civil and religious law.
God seems to be totally against democracy, free will, human rights, and for mass punishment, genocide, and ritual slaughter. It that god really worth worshiping?
Exodus 11:4–6 (NIV) “So Moses said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again.”
But if your claim is correct, that the Pharaoh killed all of those people (presumably through his inaction), is it then true that the killing of the first-born in Egypt was not an act of God? Or was God butchering babies because the leader of Egypt wasn’t a good person? In what context, exactly, is it okay to target and kill children and babies for the transgressions of their “leader”? How do you defend – as a compassionate human being – what is clearly written in Exodus (That the Lord – Not Pharaoh – went into Egypt, targeted, and killed little babies and children)?
So if we warn someone about the baby-killing first, and they stubbornly ignore the warning… well then… kill the babies? But anyway, where am I wrong in my above post about the Biblical/Christian salvation system?
The God of the Bible speaks through the recorded words and actions, unless God was telling lies and was acting through some unknown motivation, but then God doesn’t lie, does he?
@soarwing11 , I like your thinking. Consider the story of Job. Throughout the book, Job asks God why he has allowed such awful things to happen to him. Could you imagine God answering? Well I made this wager with the devil that you would maintain your faith no matter how horribly I treated you. Thanks for saving my bragging rights. And while we are on the subject, who was it that witnessed the wager between God and Satan so as to be able to write about it?
@CaptainHarley: I don’t presume to know the mind of any god. Do do you presume to know the “mind” of God? And if you don’t, then what is it that you can actually tell me about “God”? If you can tell me anything about what God is up to, does that mean that you think you suffer from the same ailment that I do? Just wondering.
@LostInParadise: Good thing that the Bible is the “inspired” word of “God”. Otherwise, I would wonder who was taking notes concerning God’s wager with the devil. With people believing in inspired word, there’s no need to wonder about anything. God wrote it. Only unquestioning faith could account for good and intelligent people believing in the most ridiculous of things (Biblical or not). Like the talking serpent, talking donkey, unicorns, etc.
Is there a single Christian here that actually believes that the master of the universe cares about foreskins and menstruation? Does the master of the universe have a “chosen people” among all of his created souls? Is there a sane way to make these sorts of Biblical things actually make sense? Or do we have to rely on bronze-age superstitious folks for our guidance? Do we start believing in unicorns too? And if not.. why not? They’re mentioned in the Bible after all.
And again, I wish to know where I am wrong in my post above.. (The list of 8 things)
1. God creates mankind. Yes, but we do not know the mechanism for this. Genesis is an allegory, not literal truth.
2. Mankind screws up. Yes, but not necessarily in the way you might suppose.
3. God knew mankind would screw up before it happened. Yes, but we are not God and thus cannot reconcile the doctrines of “Predestination” and “Free Will.”
4. For punishments, God makes mankind mortal, increases woman’s pain, etc. Not necessarily. As I said above, the Book of Genesis is an allegory.
5. For a mortal human being, it is impossible to be sin free. I have never seen one who is, although I have seen those who thought they were.
6. For humans, salvation is impossible on their own. (This is part of God’s plan) Salvation is a mystery humans can only marvel at.
7. God (who is also Jesus) sends himself as a blood sacrifice to himself to “save” humanity from the sins that mortal human beings cannot help but commit. According to the Bible, yes.
8. If someone does not “accept” this “free gift” of salvation, then they will suffer/die/implode/whatever for eternity. There are going to be a lot of surprises for everyone. I strongly suspect that the entire human interpretation of God’s thoughts, actions and plans is far, far off the mark.
I’ve responded to your eight questions, now please respond to just two of mine:
1. Why have you not asked about the central role of love in the Bible, choosing instead to focus on what you consider “illogical” doctrine, primarily from the Old Testament?
2. Why are you seemingly so bitter and sarcastic about all this?
@CaptainHarley I admire you non-judgemental form of faith but have questions and will attempt to answer your two questions even though they are not addressed to me.
I cannot understand two things (at least in particular) about the bible. I understand that god is supposed to be infinite but how could he, she, or it condemn man, in perpetuity, for the very minor sins of our ancestors? In Christian theology, we are all born with the stain of the original sin. Second, why is god so obsessed with blood sacrifice. Humans were originally supposed to sacrifice animals to god who has no need of them, then he sent part of himself to be tortured and brutally murdered? This, to me is highly mythical and would only make sense to tribal animists.
As to your questions, there is a little love in the bible except for god’s favorites like Moses and David. There is also good deal of illicit sex (maybe in obsessive quantities) along with a tremendous amount of brutality. The New testament is a little milder but still starts out with the horrendous murder of “God’s Son”. Love your neighbor is place along side Jesus ill treatment and disrespect of his mother and temper tantrums cursing figs, and beating the money changers out of the temple.
I believe the general bitterness results (at least for me) by my religious training in grade school accompanied by the ill-treatment from the nuns. I am particularly appalled by the Pope’s self-proclaimed infallibility in religious matters.
I guess I could go on to the cruelties of the Protestant Reformation, even to the religious repression in colonial America, to say nothing of things like the Salem witch trials and Television Evangelists blaming all tragedy to our failure do follow their religious pronouncements. Additionally the claim by all three major religions that people that fail to follow their beliefs are condemned to an eternity of fire, shame, and pain. Accompany all of that with the Christians trying to make this a Christian country and the Muslims apparent desire to impose Sharia Law in all of the western countries.
In truth, I feel a part of an embattled minority with allegiance to no religious philosophy surrounded on all sides by people attempting to convert my by persuasion or by force, it seems that they don’t care which strategy works.
Most religious observers are not as kind hearted or liberal as you appear to be.
Would a loving father not unconditionally administer an antidote for a disease that causes eternal torment, destruction, misery or whatever? And I mean unconditionally. No repentance, no reciprocation at all….the notion that one of my kids would even need to ask me for the cure – in order to actually get it – would be criminal – and I’d rightly be put in jail. And don’t try the “well if you don’t want the cure, then you don’t deserve the cure” routine. My kids don’t want to take antibiotics or get stitches either.
I think @CaptainHarley has responded fairly well to the 8 points. I just want to address the above. Although we may be children in the eyes of the Christian god (I’ll assume that) we still are adults, and therefore are responsible for our own decisions. Free will is the exact reason why eternal torment becomes a possibility, if you consider the concept of the unrepentant as still having free will. Arguably, the unrepentant remains so by his or her own choice, and has refused god’s love – god has not turned away from them, they have from god. It is not logically inconsistent to claim that “damnation” is eternal only for the unrepentant, because even in the face of eternal pain they refuse to accept god’s love. Hell is often described as being separated from god in this way.
Further, as adults with free will, we can refuse medical treatments against the advice of our doctors, families, etc. God has not refused us any remedy – we have refused to take it. And we have to be left alone to make our own mistakes. Free will is both the cause of the disease, the disease itself, and the cure for it – how we use it is what causes the different results.
These are the lessons I can see in what many consider Christian mythology, and can be reconciled with the allegorical stories as I am familiar with them. I would note that I am not a Christian, but see these lessons as logically consistent with real-world experiences.
I’ve heard that one too. ;-) Of course, it was a comparison based on the original, and not my own (I think it’s an imperfect comparison).
The thing is, if we are considering God as omniscient, the suffering of Christ is more of an analogy for God’s experience of our suffering. If omniscient, he experiences all things, including every moment of our pain.
So, after a thoughtful moment, I generally ask “Why would I treat myself like that?”
@CaptainHarley: Thank you for actually addressing my post. If Genesis is not literal truth, then how do you know that any of the supernatural claims in the Bible are the literal truth? Are you cherry-picking or do you have the inside scoop? And if you strongly suspect that human interpretations of God’s plans are “far off the mark”, then what is it that you, as a human, can actually say with any certainty about God’s plans?
And as for your questions:
1. The New Testament, in my estimation, is far worse than the OT. It was Jesus that droned on about eternal damnation… Not Yahweh. It is in the NT that we learn that women are forbidden to speak in church and Jesus teaches us how we should treat our slaves. There are many books in which love has a “central role”. Although, I would not say that “accept me or go to the lake of fire to suffer” would be considered love. Would you? I clearly addressed Jesus’ role as a blood sacrifice to himself, and the logic – if any – of that. Which is primarily from the NT.
2. Where have I been sarcastic and/or bitter? Please provide examples from my posts.
@iamthemob: Again, how can you rationalize eternal punishment for rejection of your father’s love? Eternal punishment. Could a loving father allow (or cause) eternal punishment for his children – adult or not – that simply don’t love him or “accept” his love? Would the creator of the universe have such insecure vanity? If my children “turned away” from me, does that then mean that they deserve eternal suffering because they refuse to acknowledge me? Regardless of what types of people they are and become?
And again, what do we have to be sorry for? Being born with the defect? Being unable to go against the will of the creator, in the sense that as humans, we cannot choose to live sin free on our own? How, exactly, is that “free will”?
Sigh. I have stated all I intend to state at this point. Faith is not an exercise in logic. It is a belief based on an inner certainty. Based on your intense, almost obesssive focus on logic and factuality, I seriously doubt that you will either accept this at face value, or understand it at this stage in your life even if you did accept it. I feel sorry for you, but I cannot open your eyes to the existence of more than mere facts or human logic.
I am just asking questions. If you would like to define that as “obsessive”, I would only say that I disagree. And why feel sorry for me? Seems a bit arrogant to pity me based on what we’ve talked about. And apparently my eyes are closed to added existence of things? That’s a bit ironic considering that 7 or your 8 answers to my questions were basically, “It’s a mystery” and “There will be surprises”. You yourself said that the “entire” human interpretation of “God” is very likely “far off the mark”. The one point that you did confirm is that according to the Bible, Jesus sent himself to sacrifice to himself to “save” us from the sins that we, as humans, have no choice but to commit.
Thank you for the discussion.
Again, how can you rationalize eternal punishment for rejection of your father’s love? Eternal punishment. Could a loving father allow (or cause) eternal punishment for his children – adult or not – that simply don’t love him or “accept” his love?
Perhaps I wasn’t clear, but this is the point I was making – punishment is eternal only for the unrepentant. For as long as one turns away from god, they are outside the light of god. If they are willing to accept his love, the punishment ends. Conceptually, taking an interpretive approach, there is only such a thing as eternal punishment for someone who is unrepentant…an unrepentant person being someone who is willing to eternally turn away from god because of their own free will. They are not being punished for rejecting the father’s love, the punishment is that they are outside the love for as long as they choose. For the mythical figure of the unrepentant, that is eternity.
But the point is that one can always turn to god, and they suffer for as long as they choose – it’s the person who hits rock bottom and stays there because they just keep making self-destructive choices.
Hell is not a place, therefore, so much as a decision…and those who are “eternally damned” are those who make the choice over and over again.
@soarwing11 , In all fairness to Christians, the explanation that I heard regarding damnation is this. Jesus provides a way of taking our sins upon himself. All we have to do is to turn to him and he will perform this service. My criticism of this belief is that it makes something abstract like sin seem like a sack of potatoes that can be transferred from one person to another.
@LostInParadise: I understand the concept of turning to God/Jesus for our sins to be “cleansed” or taken away. My point is that if it weren’t for God/Jesus, we would not be born into a situation where we needed to turn to him in the first place. According to the Bible, it is impossible for human to be good enough to earn salvation (Created guilty of sin.) So we automatically at birth, need salvation in order to avoid “damnation”. Then we need to turn to the one who created us guilty to perform the “service” of making us innocent?? It’s circular nonsense. And I agree, the notion that everything can be made better by blood-sacrifice-transfer is something worthy of a lot of criticism.
But one first must equate simply not believing in God as hitting rock bottom or making self destructive choices. People that don’t believe in God do not “turn away” from God. To them, there is nothing to turn away from. So must you first believe in God in order to be damned? And according to the Bible, Hell is most definitely a place – with flames, worms and gnashing of teeth.
But one first must equate simply not believing in God as hitting rock bottom or making self destructive choices. People that don’t believe in God do not “turn away” from God. To them, there is nothing to turn away from. So must you first believe in God in order to be damned? And according to the Bible, Hell is most definitely a place – with flames, worms and gnashing of teeth.
You have to agree what assumptions we’re working with here. We assume the Christian/Biblical god exists (if we don’t start there, we can’t have a conversation about what happens when you don’t believe in him). Therefore, if you don’t believe and die, and continue to refuse in the afterlife…you can’t be in the presence of something that you refuse to believe. I was using the turning away example as that’s one of the ways you were describing it. So no…you can’t really believe in god and be damned at the same time. They are mutually exclusive. There’s nothing to say that you can’t disagree with god – Abraham did, Christ did, but they had faith that extended beyond their reason (these are EXCEPTIONAL cases of course).
Therefore, not believing god exists and not believing IN god are functionally the same. They are choices where you remove yourself from the presence of god.
And Hell is a pretty rare focus in the bible. The Jewish tradition actually doesn’t believe that hell exists. The point, though, is that if you’re going to ask “how is this rational” you can’t cherry pick which parts of the bible you’re going to read literally any more than some crazy evangelical preacher screaming about Leviticus can. If you say that “Hell is a place” you have to say “So is Eden” and “We’re all biologically descended from Adam and Eve” and “The earth is a few thousand years old.” You laid out some basic outlines, however, so if you’re asking how we can rationally believe this, you have to accept that there isn’t a literal reading of the Bible.
Further, we can say hell is described as a place and in the way it is because most people can’t conceive of “absence” or that choice causes pain and would not be changed. It’s a metaphor to clarify the experience one may have.
Using metaphor or simile is not equating, it is showing how the two things are similar or one to describe the other.
@soarwing11 Your outlined 8 point question is but onesoteriological position. It has been a long while since I have looked at this stuff but, what you and @CaptainHarley are discussing sounds distinctly like Calvinism. Whereas an Armenian position would state:
1. God creates humankind.
2. Humankind chose to screw up.
3. God knew humankind would screw up before it happened, but certainly didn’t plan it or cause it.
4. Humankind is separated from God of their own choosing.
5. Just as humankind imputed sin upon themselves, Jesus imputes restoration of union with God for all humankind, humankind need only choose to accept salvation or not.
8. If someone does not “accept” this “free gift” of salvation, then they will be separated from the Divine for all eternity.
They would go on to quote verses like James 1:13, 1John 1:5 or Psalm 92:15 and tons more. I am sure I do them a disservice in my unwillingness to come up with a list of their pet verses. Then the Calvinists would come back with their own list of pet verses and around and around they would go in their classic determinism vs free-will debate. I also point out, again, that this is just two viewpoints within the christian tradition. I don’t bring this up as an affirmation to any particular view (I certainly do not put myself in either of the aforementioned camps) but to point out that there isn’t one universally held view of a ‘Biblical God’. Sadly, several schools of thought claim to own such orthodoxy leaving everybody else to be heretics.
To the question, God is simply a term coined by humans in an attempt to grasp (as has been said) ontological and epistemological meaning.
Your point #2: In the Bible prior to the fall of mankind, human beings had no knowledge of good and evil. They didn’t even know they were naked. How could they possibly understand what was wrong and right? And what kind of father would purposely put deadly poison (the tree of “knowledge”) in the living room? And then put a crafty stranger (the serpent) in the living room to tempt his ignorant children into eating the poison (Which is exactly what the father knew would happen ahead of time)? And if we discard Genesis as being a myth or symbolism, then why accept any of the Biblical magical events at all?
As to your #4 point above:
Why is (or does) being “separated from God” somehow equal a wrong? It amounts to: “Being separated from God is wrong, therefore it’s wrong. It’s question begging (or faith). But in any case, is it possible – from a Biblical perspective – for a human being to “choose” to be sin free and succeed in that choice?
If it is not possible for a human being to live a completely sin-free life, then how does sin become a matter of “free-will”. Again, it is like being born with a deformity or disease and then needing to “accept” the cure from the being that created us this way in the first place. God created us with full knowledge that we’d end up sick and then God tells us to be well.. even though God knew ahead of time that we can’t succeed on our own. And if we don’t “accept” the cure, we’ll go to a special place that God created where we will wallow in our sickness for eternity?
What am I missing, exactly, that could qualify this as “free-will”?
Well, I don’t debate God. Everyone can read the Bible and make up their own mind. I chose to believe AND nothing anyone can say will change that. On the other hand, probably nothing i can say to change the minds of non-believers. In the end, whatever that is, we will ALL have to live with our decision.
Maybe “in the end”, that is just the end. No hell, no heaven, no hoping that you believed in the right god, etc. Why is that such a bad thing? Is it better to believe something that may be comforting rather than accept that there’s no reason to believe it? Is life somehow less meaningful because it might be temporary? And as to your point about reading the Bible: I dare say that the vast majority of “believers” in the supernatural claims of the Bible haven’t read much of it. Otherwise, with a few moments of rational thought on the matter, they’d reject it (the Bible) as absurd. In any other context, the Christian rejects magical powers, unicorns, talking donkeys and dead bodies crawling out of their graves. In any other context, blood sacrifice of the innocent is ridiculous and solves precisely nothing – and, of course, would be a crime. This is where the theistic short-circuit kicks in. The theist simply makes an exception for his or her deity of choice and chooses to believe in a specific set of magic tricks rather than another… or none at all. You reject Zeus, Krishna, and Vishnu as gods. You reject Allah, leprechauns and fairies… and yet your deity enjoys no more evidence in its support. And as for evidence, story-books, personal anecdotes and popularity equals zero.
If it is not possible for a human being to live a completely sin-free life, then how does sin become a matter of “free-will”. Again, it is like being born with a deformity or disease and then needing to “accept” the cure from the being that created us this way in the first place. God created us with full knowledge that we’d end up sick and then God tells us to be well.. even though God knew ahead of time that we can’t succeed on our own. And if we don’t “accept” the cure, we’ll go to a special place that God created where we will wallow in our sickness for eternity? What am I missing, exactly, that could qualify this as “free-will”?
I think you’re missing the definition of free will. Free will almost inevitably means that we will do what we want regardless of what we’re told. However, unless you decide to take a literal reading of the Bible (which means that EVERYTHING has to be taken literally), there is nothing that can’t be forgiven. If you don’t want to be forgiven, then you can’t be forgiven. If God were to make you accept his forgiveness…that isn’t free will. THAT is subjugation of will.
The fact that we have free will means we will make mistakes. That’s the essence of growing up. Unless you accept that, then the argument is that we should have been born without free will. I prefer being able to find my own way, however.
It’s also a stubborn individual, in this scenario, that will wallow in disbelief for all eternity.
What, exactly am I missing?
If having “free-will” means that we will make mistakes – like you are claiming – then doesn’t it follow that “free-will” is the same as (or at least results in) being imperfect? And for what, exactly, does the unbeliever need forgiveness for? Simply not believing? Or do believers need less forgiveness for their transgressions? Does believing in God make it all better? And if it does, WHY? What’s so special about simply believing in God, in the sense that without doing so, someone will go to hell? Because the Bible says so? (Set me straight)
Of course a loving father would not “make” his children accept his forgiveness for something that is part and parcel to the “free-will” (mistakes) we were made by him to have! Or would the free-will of not accepting the forgiveness be punished? In any case, what are we being forgiven for? Having the free-will (ergo: imperfection) to reject the forgiveness?
If the essence of growing up means making mistakes, then we cannot help but make mistakes. It’s part of being a created human being… right?
Or (please answer this) is it possible to be good enough – as regards Christianity – that we don’t need forgiveness?
@soarwing11 , You are missing the logic behind Christianity. It says that because we are imperfect we will make mistakes. However, if we turn to Jesus, we will be able to transfer our sins to him. The transfer operation requires two, one to give and one to accept. Like I said before, my objection to this is that it makes sin seem like a commodity that can be transferred, which I am not willing to accept.
If having “free-will” means that we will make mistakes – like you are claiming – then doesn’t it follow that “free-will” is the same as (or at least results in) being imperfect?
Yes, in many ways it is exactly the same thing. I think that the one thing all religions claim, and that most people believe, is that there is no person who is perfect. In fact, I think we can all agree that we are far, far from perfect (and in Christian Biblical parlance (paraphrased perhaps) “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”.
Because not one of us is born with all the answers, and sometimes we don’t even know the right question, I am not claiming that free will means we will make mistakes – it’s a fact. I’d actually be frightened to meet the person who can make the claim that they’ve lived a life without fault.
And for what, exactly, does the unbeliever need forgiveness for? Simply not believing? Or do believers need less forgiveness for their transgressions? Does believing in God make it all better? And if it does, WHY?
Again, if we want to look at what is rational in the structure of morality, punishment, etc. in the Biblical sense, it is not about “forgiveness” so much as acceptance. You accept Jesus as your personal savior, and then determine what it is that you’ve done wrong and recognize that – a good moral lesson in any case (the self-analysis, that is).
What’s so special about simply believing in God, in the sense that without doing so, someone will go to hell? Because the Bible says so? (Set me straight)
Not believing is, in many ways, how the Bible can be seen to discuss the refusal of love. When love is given, it is either accepted or rejected. Those who do not accept God’s love (either because they don’t believe or because they believe in God and refuse his love regardless) live outside of love, and therefore are removed from God and in a state which is metaphorically related to Hell. IF we are to accept the existence of a Christian God in this conversation (as we HAVE to in order to talk about why the Bible says what it doesand how it can be interpreted), then refusing the love of God is a choice made by man that means he lives outside the love of God. It makes no difference if they believe or don’t believe – although it seems that someone shown the existence of God who still refused the love would be the least understandable type of person.
Of course a loving father would not “make” his children accept his forgiveness for something that is part and parcel to the “free-will” (mistakes) we were made by him to have! Or would the free-will of not accepting the forgiveness be punished? In any case, what are we being forgiven for? Having the free-will (ergo: imperfection) to reject the forgiveness?
Again, we’ve already been forgiven…we don’t have to accept that. What we do have to accept is the love that the forgiveness comes from. You can forgive someone and it doesn’t matter whether or not they accept that. Forgiveness can be given even without the knowledge of the person receiving it. However, if you offer love to someone and they don’t accept it, they will not know what it’s like to experience the joy of that love. This is where I think you’re butting your head – no one is punished for anything – by not accepting the love we punish ourselves. And again, there is nothing to say that we cannot accept the love after death.
Or (please answer this) is it possible to be good enough – as regards Christianity – that we don’t need forgiveness?
I’ll answer directly even though it should be clear from the above – whether we need forgiveness is not the issue – it is established that it is needed, and it has already been given. We only need to accept the love with which it was given. You can’t be good enough because the forgiveness is already part of the package – after you’ve accepted it, you can then determine how you can live your life, and what mistakes you need to recognize, in order to make yourself a good person. This doesn’t require any judgment from God – in the end, it’s up to us to figure it out for our own. In my mind, THAT’S the toil that has been set upon us – before free will and knowledge of good and evil, we knew because God knew. Now, we have to determine what it is on our own – and we make a bloody mess of it as we go along.
@LostInParadise: I agree. I do miss the “logic” behind Christianity. We are imperfect by our very nature and cannot help but to make mistakes. Then we need to be made better, in a sense, by the being that is responsible for the whole scenario. I think what you might be misunderstanding is that I do understand the concept of blood sacrifice, transferring sin, and salvation….just not why anyone would believe it after they thought about it for a while. Unless of course, there was something that I was missing as regards the “logic” of or concept of it. That’s why I was asking the questions.
Thanks to all for the discussion and answers. – Soar
Imagine that you’re a scientist or inventor. You create a living thing with full knowledge that it will become destructive or “bad” after it uses the “free-will” that you have designed it to have. You don’t want it to be bad, so you are saddened and sometimes very angry with your creation. You then take a few cells from your own body to create a living thing that is not bad. Further, you formulate a plan in which you will use a special chemical to transfer the bad “free-will stuff” to your good living thing. Which will result in the suffering and death of the good living thing… but the dead living thing – which is a part of you – will come back to life after a few days. To your delight, the bad living thing “accepts” the transfer of naughtiness and loves you for it! However, the bad living thing continues to be bad like before, but is now forgiven or cleansed (or whatever) of the bad things you knew it would do (and would continue doing) even before the initial creation of it… and even after the transfer of (conceptual?) naughtiness.
How is the above scenario unlike the basic concept of Christian salvation?
@LostInParadise: My problem with it is that it doesn’t make the least bit of sense. Plus, like you, I find the idea of transferring guilt to the innocent in order to make things better – so to speak – makes it as if God was planting our illicit narcotics on Jesus just before the cops showed up. The problem with this notion though, is that God planted the narcotics on us first.
@eden2eve: Was it love, patience and tolerance that motivated God/Jesus to slaughter the Egyptian children and babies? Was killing children the only recourse for an omnipotent being? Are Bible Beer Goggles so effective, that when looking through them, infanticide can be rationalized?
loll… He is my boss Mr. Ron! Was yesterday, is today, and will be tomorrow!
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions (and other belief systems) who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism.
God is most often conceived of as the supernatural creator and overseer of the universe. Theologians have ascribed a variety of attributes to the many different conceptions of God. The most common among these include omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), omnibenevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence.
God has also been conceived as being incorporeal (immaterial), a personal being, the source of all moral obligation, and the “greatest conceivable existent”. These attributes were all supported to varying degrees by the early Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologian philosophers, including Maimonides, Augustine of Hippo, and Al-Ghazali, respectively. Many notable medieval philosophers and modern philosophers developed arguments for the existence of God. Many notable philosophers and intellectuals have, in contrast, developed arguments against the existence of God.
I didn’t know that archaeologists had produced proof that the first born sons of Egypt had been slaughtered on a single evening as retribution for the enslavement of a race. I’m amazed at your ability to cherry-pick stories from the Bible and hold them out as facts as part of your argument….
IF YOU’RE POSITION IS that the bible, taken as a factual account of the creation of the universe and man, is completely irrational, then you are right.
IF YOU’RE POSITION IS you don’t see how there can be a rational way to understand the stories in the bible even when taken as metaphors meant to teach lessons, then please you MUST stop cherry picking “facts”.
You keep focusing on free will and sin in an odd way. Free will necessitates that we will sin, and God wants us to recognize that. We’re born with free will and learn that we will sin because of it…sure, that sucks. But we also learn that we’re going to die, that we’re mortal…that sucks even more. Why wouldn’t he just make us immortal? Why wouldn’t he keep us that way? Because suffering is learning, and you have to know there’s a limited time in which to learn. We have to learn what to do on our own. In essence, that’s how the best teachers approach any lesson.
@iamthemob you’re right….any question on the subject of God usually gets this kind of attention. It’s amazing to me, that the people who don’t believe, spend so much time trying to convince the ones who believe that it’s a “crock,” fairy tales, etc. I’ve never told an atheist, “that is a crook!” My philosophy is be nice to everyone regardless of their belief. Don’t really understand why this upsets people, other than, they are not secure with their beliefs.
@Ron_C most people would disagree with you. He has done a lot of good in his life. Regardless of one’s beliefs, loving you neighbor, not lying, etc. is a good thing. Just take God out of the equation and think about the good that comes from the ideology of religion.
@BoBo1946 is’t Graham the guy that said that the 9–11 victims are in heaven and wouldn’t come back if they could. Sounds both arrogant and inaccurate. I am sure that there were a good number of sinners in the twin towers plus a number of atheists.
Since he has no direct communications to god or heaven, my guess is that is a completely made up sentence. Just because he was a great speaker and could spin a yarn, it doesn’t follow that he was qualified as a spiritual guide. No disrespect meant but he was just another guy that made his money on donations. The donations were tax deductible, therefore I had to contribute involuntarily. To that I object.
@BoBo1946 that’s it in a nutshell “world wide ministry”. I am offended, in the same way by the Pope. The only way that I can understand that people claim appointment by god is that they have a tremendous arrogance. I know, for a fact, that they do not speak for me and don’t want them running around claiming that they speak to and for the world. I can speak for myself. Of course, I’ve never been much of a followers, or leader.
@iamthemob: You make my point for me. Thanks. Believing in the supernatural stories of the Bible is irrational. I don’t make the claim that “God” killed anyone. The Bible does. I’m not holding these stories out as “facts”. I’m just illustrating how Christians must rationalize absurdity, infanticide and blood sacrifice in an attempt to defend their “God”. And many, if not most, Christians/Jews believe that the stories are to be taken literally (Especially the touchy-feely ones). My position is this: How can anyone believe in – let alone worship – a “God” whose antics are beyond ridiculous, with a salvation scheme that make zero sense? You keep responding to me like I don’t get the idea of free-will, salvation, and that there are some good things written in the Bible. I get all of that. I just wanted to know if I had missed something that makes it make sense. Apparently not.
So you are of the mind that literal interpretation of the bible is irrational. Okay, fine.
But again, if you’re asking about how Christians can interpret the bible in a rational manner, and see God’s salvation scheme in a similar manner (which is what you seem to be asking with your stated position) then you’re waffling.
The bible makes complete sense if you approach it all as a metaphor, and none if you approach it literally. If that’s what you’re saying…why not just say it? Breaking down the eight points requires the opposite position from what you seem to be claiming.
Forget about what I think or what my current position is. I presented the 8 points and asked where they were wrong. It is true, however, that if there is a rational explanation for the Biblical salvation scheme, then I must be missing something. As it stands, I do think that the supernatural claims of the Bible are nonsense… along with the salvation scheme as I understand it, but the 8 points have nothing to do with my opinion. I was simply asking if I was wrong in my understanding (not opinion) of Biblical salvation, etc. So far, it seems that I am not.
If you want to be rational and use common sense, it’s just as irrational not to believe as to believe. What tangible proof does anyone have that God does not exist? I’m turning this around at you guys since @Ron_C called my religion a WHAT A CROCK OF….... and another one said, fairy tales etc. LOOK, i don’t attack atheist. So, either prove what you are saying or get off my ass.
Just consider the science folks. Perry also has a wonderful presentation called the 7 great lies of Organized Religion, so don’t think he’s all one sided. I’d hate to think that a Theist is actually capable of being more open minded than an Atheist. Heaven forbid!
Now I don’t necessarily agree with every little tit and tot of what these speakers say. But I’m very qualified to do so because I’ve researched their work for nearly a decade. If you want to sling mud at Theist, then hang out with the Infidels at http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?t=135497&page=1 and you’ll get your fill as to what a close minded person is really like. But if you’d like to talk real science, and debate it intelligently, then please consider another side of the story that you may not be aware of as much as you think you are.
@RealEyesRealizeRealLies oh, could not agree more…but, they are the ones doing the attacking…not me. I’m always the recipient. Hey, each his own. Just give me my space here also. That is all. I’ll certainly respect others….humbly asking the same of them. Don’t call my religion fairy tale, a crock of….., etc. I’ve never attacked anyone of a different religion or idea. Enough is enough., At some point, the line has to be drawn in the sand.
@BoBo1946: Why not call your religion a fairy-tale? The supernatural claims of your religion have exactly the same evidence in their support as do claims of elves, fairies, magic dragons, gnomes and werewolves. Theists simply don’t accept this fact and then say they’re being “attacked” or whatever when someone bluntly tells them the truth of the matter. Could “God” be real? Of course. But so could magic fairies and gnomes. You reject some magic fairies and gnomes, but accept others… and you have no rational reason for it. That’s cool and everything, but don’t presume that theists have any better grasp on what’s actually going on than the unbeliever. The line that should be drawn in the sand is this: Theists should be challenged more – not less; Theists shouldn’t be given any more respect than the individual who believes in magical tales of fantastical beings from other realms. People who believe in invisible, magical beings, with magical powers – in any other context – are rightly deemed delusional. What the theist needs to do, in order to have any rational conversation about his or her religion of choice, is demonstrate why his or her beliefs in the supernatural (magical) beings are true. Not arguments from emotion, scripture, or ignorance. Every religion – has those sorts of arguments. I think that what amazes the average atheist is that theists don’t seem to comprehend the fact that theirs is only one of many hundreds of mutually exclusive theistic religions. Most with magical powers, emotion, anecdotes, and faith. What, exactly, sets any one of these apart? Knowing “in your heart” that it’s true? It’s the atheists that should be saying enough is enough. Theists have been handled with kid-gloves for too long. I don’t have the least bit of respect for your belief in magic and phantasms. I respect your right to believe in whatever you want, but the notion that you believe it because of evidence, reason or moral necessity is absurd.
What is your definition of handling with kid gloves? Theists don’t need to prove their position any more than you need to prove yours. The problem with atheism as some people interpret it is exactly what you’re demonstrating right now: Atheism is right until proven otherwise.
WHAT SUPREME condescension. Theists don’t need to prove why they’re “supernatural” beliefs are true because they are not supernatural by fact – our understanding of the natural world is based on descriptive logic – we agree on certain rules because through observation we can predict results based on certain occurrences. However, that understanding is small, and the tools we have that have allowed us a deeper understanding have only really allowed us to observe, at most, the last 400 years with any eye to the “truth.” That such a small window should allow people to say that the information gathered debunks thousands of years of human exploration of meaning is, to use the rhetoric adopted by what I’ll call “problem atheists” is “ridiculous” and “irrational.” If anyone needs to prove that their beliefs in how the universe formed are true, or why it was done so, or if there is a reason for it, no one will ever start talking about why they think their beliefs are reasonable or valid, and helpful.
You also reject some scientific interpretations rather than others based on who else believes them, without fully understanding them. If you have a detailed understanding of string theory, you are overwhelmingly likely to be a physicist. If, however, you have it through “a brief history of time” then you have your own bible, and your own prophets. You accept things without understanding them.
So if you start off with, “It’s like Santa Clause and Fairies” etc., and say “Prove to me that’s more likely” I can say the same thing back to you. And then it becomes an argument, where someone tries to win. Considering how deeply held some of the beliefs are, the most core ones at least, such comparisons are truly insulting. And you expect them not to feel attacked when someone tells them the “truth” of the matter? If you’re going to accept the right to believe in something, you’re not showing it.
@iamthemob: If there is anything untrue about my previous post, then please elaborate with evidence. Atheism is “right” until proven otherwise. Just like not believing in fairies is “right” until proven otherwise. In case you didn’t know, it’s up to the proponent of something to make their case – not the other way around. Like many theists, you are (or seem to be) confused about that. I don’t know there is no god or gods. I don’t claim that a “God” or gods don’t exist. It is you, presumably, that claims that one or more does. Therefore, it is up to you to support your beliefs and claims – otherwise there is nothing much for you to say about your “God” or god or gods or whatever supernatural, magic story- save for personal whim and opinion. Also, I notice that theists – like you – keep trying to cripple science and reason by claiming that this or that facet of it is flawed or limited and that real understanding is somehow beyond reason and science. Again, it is then up to you to demonstrate how this is true. I would be the first one to accept the existence of a supernatural being (or beings) or a supernatural explanations for things, if there were good reasons to do so. Whether or not there actually are supernatural beings or not, has nothing to do with whether or not there are good reasons to believe it. At least with science, (and sophisticated theology) people make – or try to make – reasoned arguments for their positions or theories. But with theism in general, it seems to be an anything goes sort of thing… with each seemingly expecting respect for their beliefs – not just their right to hold them. How is it, after all, that my mere words have the slightest effect on someone’s right to believe in something? And the truth of the matter is that theists have exactly zero evidence to back up their claims. Each bit of “evidence” always appeals to fallacious reasoning. Always. This is why theism is irrational… not because I say so, but because of the lack of evidence in its support. If someone believes something because of theistic faith, then fine, nothing I could say to change that, but don’t dangle that faith out on a string and call it rational… or beyond the abilities of science… or this or that. Enough is enough. It’s time for theists to rationally support their claims – period. If they can’t, then their claims and beliefs of supernatural powers or divine magic tricks should not be respected any more than claims of leprechauns and fire-breathing dragons.
@BoBo1946: You too. It’s a beautiful day here in West Michigan. I hope it is wherever you are too. The leaves are changing color and the Sun is shining… think I’ll rent a plane tomorrow and bask in it. It’s great to be alive… because there are far more ways to be dead.
@BoBo1946: It may not be “sinful” to have money, but you better read up on what Jesus has to say about the chances of a rich man entering the kingdom of God. Jesus says that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24). In other words… impossible, right?... or was Jesus just kidding? That Jesus! Such a kidder! Nowhere does Jesus mention “the love” of money.. or “wanting” to get rich.. like it mentions in 1 Timothy 6:9 and 1 Timothy 6:10.
@BoBo1946: Wish I could say it was cheap. It’s about $100 an hour. The nice thing is that if other people want to go, they can help with the rental. For people of very modest means like me, it’s a luxury to be able to fly. But I’ll never regret getting my license. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. Not to mention showing how the struggles, and conceits of humanity (including religions) are infinitely and ridiculously small compared to everything else.
@BoBo1946: My dearest friend growing up was our dog “Spunky”. She was a terrier mix (AKA – Mutt) with a heart of the purest gold. I’ll never forget her and how much she meant to me and my family. I used to thank God for her, but now God doesn’t respond or talk to me anymore. HIS loss! :-) Yes, I just have to get my jab in…
Best wishes. – Soar
Oh, okay. So you believe a god or gods exists, or maybe not. It just seems you are so concerned with debating with those who assert the existence of god rather than those who assert that there is no god? They are both factual assertions, after all…
@iamthemob: I don’t believe in a god or gods, but of course I have to say that I don’t know for sure one way or the other. I know quite a few atheists and not one of them asserts that “there is no god”. They just don’t believe in god(s). Not believing and asserting the non-existence of something are two different things. If I did know an atheist that assert the non-existence of god (or anything for that matter) I would challenge them to prove the negative – and of course they would fail to produce any evidence at all. One thing I’m pretty sure about is the non-existence of the God as described in the Bible. With the Biblical God, there are positive claims made about its nature, its behavior, its disposition, its cares, needs, wants, etc. They are all remarkably human, with all the human frailties/desires included too. Anger; love; jealousy; violence; punishments; rewards; demands; etc. Sure, I can’t prove that the Biblical God doesn’t exist, but it seems very, very unlikely.
There are two general understandings of belief. One is as an opinion, which implies that it is transitory and open to criticism. The other is the acceptance as fact something without requiring supporting evidence (the more religious meaning).
Question: In your opinion, does god exist?
If it is your opinion that God doesn’t exist, you answer no to the above, but you cannot say that it is better or worse than another without providing very specific reasons as to how.
If you do not hold the opinion that god exists, then the result is the same.
Question: Does god exist?
If you accept as fact that god exists, you answer yes. And you have to be able to back it up, or change your answer to the opinion-based belief one above. If you do not do either, then there’s no rational discussion (but there is the ability to respect the faith and talk about what to have for breakfast instead).
If you accept as fact that god does not exist, you answer no. And you have to be able to back it up, or change your answer to the opinion-based belief one above. If you do not do either, then there’s no rational discussion (but there is the ability to respect the faith and talk about what to have for breakfast instead).
Stating that you don’t believe in god(s), therefore, requires the same intellectual commitment as well as responsibility for supporting your argument as saying that you believe in god, and rational people asserting there is a god or there is no god will necessarily need to admit their assertions are opinions OR refrain from participating in the debate. If it’s opinion, having an opinion is always admitting “I don’t know,” and you cannot claim that one is better than another without having your own support for your reason that is separate and apart from a critique of the opposing idea (this means that you must have your own idea – otherwise, you have no idea…and should stay out and let the grown ups have the conversation ;-)). If it’s an acceptance as fact, if you can’t support it, adherence to the belief is faith regardless of what the belief is.
@iamthemob : That was the most well thought-out, intelligent, and painstaking bit of nonsense I’ve ever read. Impressive really. My “opinion” means nothing as regards my belief or beliefs. It is my opinion that good people should prosper and bad people should not. Hell, in my opinion the Lions should be able to put together a few wins this season. But I don’t believe that’s necessarily the case. Opinions are “beliefs” devoid of reason and evidence – otherwise they wouldn’t be opinions, they’d be facts. It is not my “opinion” that theism is factually incorrect. I don’t know one way or another… so I suppose you could say that my opinion is that I don’t know. Just like I’ve already said. However, I don’t know if there are fairies and/or leprechauns either. I’m not in the debate to talk about absolute knowledge… because that’s a Will-o’-the-Wisp. What I am in the debate for, is to talk about probabilities and reason… skepticism vs. paranormal… reason vs. faith, etc.
The atheist has no more “intellectual commitment” and responsibility for “supporting” his or her “argument” than the person who states that her or she doesn’t believe in Zeus or magical invisible gnomes. Someone who does not believe in something is not (necessarily) making an argument that something does not exist. (because this is futile anyway) I know that is tough for you to understand, but the light will go on eventually and it will make sense to you. I had trouble with that concept at first as well.
Therefore, I don’t need to back up anything. I’m not making a claim of existence vs. non-existence. Again, if I have an opinion, it’s that I don’t know. The theist however, is making absolute claims about the existence of a deity, supernatural being, or “God”.
For many decades (if not centuries), theists have tried in vain to pigeon-hole atheists as somehow needing “faith” (like a theistic faith of sorts) to NOT believe in something (their particular god of course). Well even if that were true – which of course it is not – then NOT believing in anything (including magical fairies with giant breasts, trust-funds and World Series Tickets…. just for you) would require faith and would thus render the word “faith” as a meaningless sound. We all know that’s not what we’re talking about here when it comes to faith, belief or the lack of it.
The theist believes in some sort of god. Some sort of being that is somehow beyond the realm of the natural world, or has special abilities to manipulate it.. or whatever. The atheist does not. It’s not hard to understand and it’s intellectually dishonest to place atheists in some “faithful” camp, because it’s simply not true. If it takes faith to NOT believe in something, again…. “faith” is meaningless.
In line with what @soarwing11 said, it is not a question of belief but of action. The question is, how does your belief affect what you do? In my opinion, someone who says, yeah there is a God and leaves it at that might as well be an atheist like me. Simply, put there is nothing that I do or do not do that is predicated on the possibility that there might be a god. So how does your faith affect what you do? Do you refrain from sin because you fear the wrath of God? Are there things that you do or do not do solely because of your belief? If not, then there is nothing to speak about.
@iamthemob: The problem with most theistic faith is that it’s not open to dialogue OR debate. It’s a settled issue.
The problem is faith. Not Islam, not Christianity, or any other specific religion. Faith makes it okay – virtuous even – to believe in things for which there is no evidence. Faith can be (and is) used to justify any sort of behavior at all. And someone who champions faith – as a cognitive process or way to gain truth – simply cannot condemn ANY act of faith. Including 9/11. With faith, there is no objective standard or set of rules to “dialogue” with. Faith is an anything goes sort of thing… it can’t be reasoned with.
@iamthemob and @soarwing11 I have to go with soaring wing on this one. I find a common thread between the believer and non-believer is that the believer often asks the non-believer or atheist to prove the non-existence of god(s). That, to me is the white flag of surrender, by the believer. An atheist has no reason, responsibility, or proof that god does not exist. It is solely up to the believers to prove their extraordinary claims.
Asking the non-believer to prove the non-existence of the believer’s object of veneration is just a cop-out because the believe has no proof and has run out of arguments.
There’s a difference between believing there’s no god and not believing what those you’ve heard from have said. If you believe there is no god, you are making an assertion of fact and have as much responsibility to prove it as someone stating they believe in god. If you aren’t sure and just don’t believe what people have told you so far, and have an interest in figuring out one way or the other what you believe, then stating to theists “prove it” is a weak start off. Especially if you don’t ask strong atheists the same question.
If you believe there is no god, and you state it as you don’t believe in god, and then claim that you have a better position, you are using syntax to reform your belief as a non-assertion and therefore allowing you to claim that it’s not appropriate to ask you to prove the negative.
The problem here is no one has “proof” either way. The fact that one can conceive of how the world works as not needing god to be necessary is not based on proof. It is based on facts that they have interpreted as proof of the legitimacy of the model. Same with the opposite.
@iamthemob I don’t believe that there is a god and science it the only way to understand how the universe works. I suspect that we only understand a very small portion of how the universe works and anything that is not explained by science, looks like magic or miracles to most people.
Religious people take the short cut and anything that is not explained is relegated to the realm of god. Other’s like me are willing to wait until science catches up to experience.
I do not “believe” that god exists. I just fail to comprehend other people’s need for one.
@iamthemob: But you continue to define atheists very narrowly, as people believing or asserting that: there is no god. I don’t believe that there is no god. “There is no god” is an assertion and I don’t make it and few atheists do.
And why in the world is “prove it” a weak start-off? I can think of better start-offs, but “prove it” isn’t bad at all. Much better for me is: “Define God. Not what he allegedly did or how you feel about God. Define what “God” is. In what way can it be said that God exists in reality?
@BoBo1946 : How can you possibly condemn acts of faith? What is wrong with acting on theistic faith? Christians killing abortion doctors are acting on faith. Parents trusting in “The Lord” to heal their child’s disease (only to watch the child suffer and die) are acting on their faith. Do you only condemn faith if the results are bad? Or if the faith doesn’t dovetail with yours?
@iamthemob: You wrote: “If you believe there is no god, and you state it as you don’t believe in god, and then claim that you have a better position, you are using syntax to reform your belief as a non-assertion and therefore allowing you to claim that it’s not appropriate to ask you to prove the negative.”
It’s not syntax. Not believing in something and believing that something doesn’t exist are two different things. You’re just trying to make them the same.
What I am saying, as regards “dialogue” between theists and non-theists, is that they will continue being a theist in the absence of evidence or even in spite of evidence that contradicts their particular variety of theism.
@iamthemob: I don’t believe in deities. Magical, superhuman beings that live in other realms (or ours), have magical, superhuman powers, and can suspend the laws of physics at their whim. Do you?
The word “God”, in general, refers to a supernatural being of sorts, does it not? A BEING that is above and beyond the natural. Something that may have… oh, I don’t know… CREATED the universe or something? Maybe not? I am not the proponent of a “God”. You (presumably) are. Why don’t you clarify WHAT God actually is? If you can’t then what is it that you actually believe in? :-)
I don’t discount that. I don’t know if there’s a force, or if we’re part of something larger that we’re returning to, mayber we’re on a weird massive time loop. When I think about it most, I think about it in a “deity” context, as that’s the easiest way to conceive it.
But stating that is “supernatural” is again trying to position the argument as rational v. irrational or something along those lines. Considering that humanity’s understanding of the natural world is so vastly limited (and really based on the past 100 years for most of it), and each individual’s understanding of the overall understanding is so limited, you can’t make an argument that a creative being is not completely explainable through natural laws.
Also, if we talk bout what we theorize about how we can try to explain a unified theory, we start talking about “Well, there are these magic strings” or “Well, there’s this “dark matter” which has to be what’s causing the acceleration of the galaxies – I mean, we can’t see it, but that’s the only thing that makes the math we just did work…” ...the natural world itself seems kind of ridiculous.
So you don’t believe in deities…how can you prove that the universe was created without them?
@iamthemob you asked: “I feel like this brings up another issue – why is your assumption that people believe in god because they need a god to exist?” Some people, especially the least educated, want answers for what they see around them. I have seen films about “Cargo Cults” waiting to see gifts drop from the sky because their fathers saw parachuted supplies during WW2, the Egyptians prayed and sacrificed to bring the yearly floods so that their crops could grow in the desert. I see Christians praying for the Second Coming even though their holy book predicted it would happen before the original church members died.
All of this is wishful, magical thinking. The belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing god is handed down through the generations. The belief that the unknown and unknowable power will somehow intervene in your life to bring prosperity and justice is a comfort to many but a burden on the rest of us. The “desert religion” system of belief and evangelism is like a virus handed down through the generations. Only a small minority of free thinkers can inoculate themselves against it. If somehow, children were spared indoctrination, those beliefs would die out within a generations.
The problem is that the those infected with the religious bug feel duty bound to infect others and indoctrinate their children. It really is a form of child abuse.
@iamthemob I thought that I gave a pretty wide range of examples, everything from ancient Egypt to today’s evangelicals. I didn’t assume anything, I just followed the facts to a logical conclusion.
That reminds me of the story about one of the first christian missionaries describing how his god is the one and only and the “good news” that will save the world. The Chinese noble to whom he was speaking had thousand of years of history and philosophical thought behind him asked the missionary “how is it that it took your god so long to inform the Chinese?” It just goes to show that there is no universal, “one true faith”.
(1) I have seen films about “Cargo Cults” waiting to see gifts drop from the sky because their fathers saw parachuted supplies during WW2,
(2) the Egyptians prayed and sacrificed to bring the yearly floods so that their crops could grow in the desert.
(3) I see Christians praying for the Second Coming even though their holy book predicted it would happen before the original church members died.
These are all facts, sure…but they’re really anecdotal and specific to the very instances described, which means that they don’t generalize to the population of “believers.” And they don’t lead to the conclusion that people believe in god because they need to.
But you do state that a lot of uneducated people turn to god in order to explain things. We all need something to help explain how the world works, and I do feel it is the uneducated who latch onto these religious beliefs to fill that need. And I agree that it’s these people who are often the problem the next generation on down. That seems like a very clear understanding of why these people seem to need god in their lives.
So are you more talking about not understanding how people who have an understanding of the realities of the universe still adhere or adhere generally to a belief in god?
@iamthemob “So are you more talking about not understanding how people who have an understanding of the realities of the universe still adhere or adhere generally to a belief in god?”
Now this is only my opinion but I think that if we were not taught religion in our early childhood, the vast population would be non-believers. They might not be atheist but they would not be much more than agnostics.
Religion is a great comfort for the oppressed and the poor because it offers hope for better circumstances after death. That is unfortunate, in a way. It allows people to accept their circumstances and not fight for a better life. It was the main reason that Christianity was so highly popular among the European aristocracy. Having a state religion punishes transgressors twice, first they lose their life as punishment then they go to hell for their sins. What a useful thing is religion.
@iamthemob let’s face it, you’re never going to agree with me and I know that you are just trying to bait me into saying something that you can jump on so we might as well end this discussion here. Good luck to you and good night. ——Ron