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Dan_TheLordofKobol
November 1st, 2007, 06:48 PM
What are your thoughts and beliefs regarding God, Religion, the Afterlife, et cetera?

Please keep it civil and tolerant.

jjbauer5618
November 1st, 2007, 07:27 PM
I'm not an athiest but I dont hold any strong religious convictions. I say people can think and believe whatever they want, just dont try to push it on me.

DocP
November 1st, 2007, 07:46 PM
I'm a strong atheist, I'll leave people to their own views but the second anyone starts preaching to me I'll tear into them so much they'll almost certainly regret it.

Armando
November 1st, 2007, 08:54 PM
I consider myself a "classical" agnostic. I tend to lean towards theism, but I do not ultimately believe that God is knowable, at least fully. (Full disclosure: I was raised Catholic and was very devout in my childhood, only to renounce it in college in favor of...wait for it...Evangelical Christianity. Just so you know.) Also, I find agnosticism to be the only logical position when it comes to the question of religion. As a bumper sticker I once saw rather glibly put it: I don't know and, face it, neither do you. :-)

Miguel
November 1st, 2007, 09:02 PM
That is an excellent bumper sticker.

I was raised Catholic but I fall on the side that is truly unsure of the existence of god. You can't prove it either way. So I guess I'm agnostic. Besides, dogma makes you crazy.

Regardless, I am still very Catholic (if that makes any sense).
Madonna once commented (when she was still cool in the early 90's) in an MTV interview with Kurt Loder (when MTV was still relevant): "Once a Catholic, always a Catholic."
I guess what I mean to say is that in terms of prudishness, being very private and stoic in their beliefs, etc. The whole Catholic upbringing.

Damnit I'm not making sense. I need Dr. Pepper.

Armando - how did you go from Evangelical (which seems like the most fundamentalist form of christianity) to Agnosticism? Just curious... :)

Glimfeather
November 1st, 2007, 10:12 PM
I'm a Christian despite my good Christian upbringing. My dad was raised Serbian Orthodox, my mom was raised Catholic, and after a Billy Graham Crusade, they became (can I borrow your drum roll, Armando?) Evangelical Christians. We went to a small church that had roots way back to the Mennonites, so it was pretty strict. Nowadays my parents go to a church with similar doctrine but less strict rules, and I go to a church called The Journey that's part of the emerging church movement.

I think belief for some people comes more naturally than for others, which is kind of unfair. I was always a thinker and have worked through lots of doubt and questions over the years (not that it's all past tense, it's always going on), but I never did completely walk away from church, probably because I was just used to it. That said, I don't regret where I am. It would take just as much mental effort for me to settle on agnosticism or atheism or another religion as it would to defend what I already believe in. And lately my faith has become less and less about if or when or how God created the universe, or what exactly the map of the afterlife looks like (or what is the precise moment that life begins), and more about just following this Jesus fellow who made such a big impression on everybody a couple thousand years ago.

Dan, oh Thread Starter, what are your thoughts? I think someone started a similar thread a while back, but it pertained more to how religion was portrayed in BSG. I lost track of it, but there was a lot of discussion about the Mormon influences in the BSG mythology.

Nickname Boomer
November 1st, 2007, 11:12 PM
Okay well its not simple question

I was raised Catholic and I mean nuns and priests, and corporal punishment Catholic. I’m not saying it was all negative it wasn’t, in fact it was a village; as some say that it takes to raise a person and they were mine. But I fought against Dogma still do to this day some say that every word in the bible is true, indeed many of my teachers and friends. But I believe every story in the bible has lesson to teach, which is vastly more important than every word. As well as many other stories and books

So that’s a snapshot of my beliefs, now to the afterlife. Well as odd as it sounds, as positive as I am that there is a god; all be it incomprehensible to me to understand. I’m not sure what happens afterwards matters at least to me. Either there is or isn’t, if there is something, I will live my life the best I know as just, and kind (not that I don’t sin cause well I do, and will for as long as I have breath) So I will deal with the consequences, good or bad. And if there isn’t. Well that’s fine to cause we could all use some more sleep right, just kidding, but if they’re nothing more for me, well let it be the end of it peacefully.


The idea of god, well it strays far from how I was raised, as I’ve grown up. I know that she exists and can feel his presence, but I don’t see her as a protecting force that protects and listens to our prayers, maybe once or twice in lifetime we get a glimpse of his will, and I wouldn’t ask for more.

That’s the best I can describe it right now

Locke
November 2nd, 2007, 12:49 AM
raised loosely Catholic(very loosely)

currently fall into agnostic, leaning far towards atheistic, every year i seem to lean a little bit further in that direction too

as jjbauer said before, i have no problem with peoples philosophical or religious beliefs at all, just don't try and push 'em on me :)

Number 13
November 2nd, 2007, 01:29 AM
Well, I'm a (mostly) evil (libertarian) republican Baptist. lol Seriously though, my faith is very important to me and it's a very personal thing for most people. I stay out of other people's business just like I want them to stay out of mine. I just find it funny that many people think the likes of Falwell and Robertson speak for us when they are a very tiny percent. Of course, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter don't speak for most Baptists either lol. I guess a lot of people get us mixed up with some of the other demonitations or of what they've seen on TV. We're pretty straightforward. No driving out demons or doing the wave during a song or anything like that.

I've also been to a mosque and a Jewish temple. Pretty cool experiences and the people couldn't have been nicer and more welcoming.

Armando
November 2nd, 2007, 07:59 AM
That is an excellent bumper sticker.

I was raised Catholic but I fall on the side that is truly unsure of the existence of god. You can't prove it either way. So I guess I'm agnostic. Besides, dogma makes you crazy.

Regardless, I am still very Catholic (if that makes any sense).
Madonna once commented (when she was still cool in the early 90's) in an MTV interview with Kurt Loder (when MTV was still relevant): "Once a Catholic, always a Catholic."
I guess what I mean to say is that in terms of prudishness, being very private and stoic in their beliefs, etc. The whole Catholic upbringing.

Damnit I'm not making sense. I need Dr. Pepper.

Armando - how did you go from Evangelical (which seems like the most fundamentalist form of christianity) to Agnosticism? Just curious... :)


Miguel-

I understand the "once a Catholic" thing. I don't go to church anymore, but I find that many of the things I don't like about myself (prudishness about my own body, a sense of guilt about, well, just about anything, etc.) can be related to a Catholic upbringing. Interestingly, though, I think becoming a hard core Evangelical kind of helped me get over those things. Sure, I traded one set of psychoses for another, but who cares? :D

As to how I went from that to Agnosticism? Well, when I finished my doctorate in 2001 I decided that after reading so much scholarship about people that mattered to me in music and the arts, I should read some on Jesus since I'd never done that. I'd only ever read about Jesus from a theological perspective and wanted to read what the unbiased (one would hope), historiographical perspective on him was. Well, I found that that perspective essentially boils down to, "we know next to nothing about this guy. He may not even have existed, although we're pretty sure that he did and that he was crucified, although that certainty is based primarily on the fact that all four gospels (which are religious documents and therefore slightly suspect anyway) agree on these points, at least."

Well, let me tell you, to someone who was already questioning certain things he believed anyway this was quite a shocker. It's been a hell of a roller coaster ride ever since!

Armando
November 2nd, 2007, 08:00 AM
Glimfeather: "My dad was raised Serbian Orthodox"

No offense, but that just makes me think of Seinfeld. Kevorka! ;-)

Of course, on Seinfeld it was Latvian Orthodox, but I have a very strange mental process.

Armando
November 2nd, 2007, 09:10 AM
Well, I'm a (mostly) evil (libertarian) republican Baptist. lol Seriously though, my faith is very important to me and it's a very personal thing for most people. I stay out of other people's business just like I want them to stay out of mine. I just find it funny that many people think the likes of Falwell and Robertson speak for us when they are a very tiny percent. Of course, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter don't speak for most Baptists either lol. I guess a lot of people get us mixed up with some of the other demonitations or of what they've seen on TV. We're pretty straightforward. No driving out demons or doing the wave during a song or anything like that.

I've also been to a mosque and a Jewish temple. Pretty cool experiences and the people couldn't have been nicer and more welcoming.


Number 13: I've been reading a blog for about six months now that you might find interesting. The guy who writes it (Fred something or other. He's a journalist in PA) is also an Evangelical who finds it unnerving that Falwell and Robertson et al have taken it upon themselves to speak for a vast number of people whose beliefs they do not represent. He also does a wickedly funny and pointed deconstruction of the "Left Behind" novels (which he calls the "worst books in the world"), which is how I found the blog in the first place. Anyway, check it out, if you're interested: http://slacktivist.typepad.com/

Glimfeather
November 2nd, 2007, 12:28 PM
Armando, thanks for the link. I'd stumbled across this guy's critique of Left Behind (critique being a kind, neutral word for it) some time ago, but then couldn't remember where I'd found it. Slacktivist is like the Maddox of Christianity. Good stuff.
P.S. I've never seen that episode of Seinfield, or else I'd have a witty remark in return. I'll have to look for it.

Pike
November 2nd, 2007, 12:48 PM
That is a fascinating blog, Armando.

Glimfeather
November 2nd, 2007, 01:38 PM
Well, I'm a (mostly) evil (libertarian) republican Baptist. lol Seriously though, my faith is very important to me and it's a very personal thing for most people. I stay out of other people's business just like I want them to stay out of mine. I just find it funny that many people think the likes of Falwell and Robertson speak for us when they are a very tiny percent. Of course, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter don't speak for most Baptists either lol. I guess a lot of people get us mixed up with some of the other demonitations or of what they've seen on TV. We're pretty straightforward. No driving out demons or doing the wave during a song or anything like that.

I've also been to a mosque and a Jewish temple. Pretty cool experiences and the people couldn't have been nicer and more welcoming.

My church got on the front page of the local paper for hosting an event at a bar. Some folks from the Southern Baptist Convention, which we'd borrowed money from to buy our building, got all bent out of shape and said they'd never have made the loan if they'd known we were promoting alcohol and such. It wasn't a huge deal--it was only a couple of guys making the trouble, and the SBC itself didn't have a problem with us, but the media got excited by the dramatic possibilities, and it made news everywhere for a while. Very exciting, but definitely fueled by misconceptions on all sides.

Number 13
November 2nd, 2007, 02:20 PM
lol Armando, I find the Left Behind thing to be absolutely silly. So many people I know are fixated on the end times and such. They were thinking it was about to be over shortly after Jesus was around and it looks like they were wrong. Because I'm a Christian, I trust that it'll work out okay. No need in fretting over cataclysmic events that might not even happen during my lifetime. And I'm glad I wasn't the only the bit about what Huck Huckabee (as Dennis Miller calls him, and you all know I love me some DM) said about the founding fathers as clergymen. Most were deists, of course.

EnoNomi
November 2nd, 2007, 02:21 PM
I "de-converted" from Catholic to atheist a little over a year ago. I'm attempting to develop my writing skills by starting an atheist blog (http://enonomi.blogspot.com/), but there are much better ones out there like No More Hornets (http://nomorehornets.blogspot.com/) and Pharyngula (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/).

Armando
November 2nd, 2007, 11:06 PM
Armando, thanks for the link. I'd stumbled across this guy's critique of Left Behind (critique being a kind, neutral word for it) some time ago, but then couldn't remember where I'd found it. Slacktivist is like the Maddox of Christianity. Good stuff.
P.S. I've never seen that episode of Seinfield, or else I'd have a witty remark in return. I'll have to look for it.

You're kidding? Oh man! That's such a great episode! It's called "The Conversion" (at least, I think it is), I think it's on season 4 or 5 (or 6). In it, George decides he likes the girl he's dating enough to convert to her religion, which happens to be Latvian Orthodox. Meanwhile, Kramer manages to attract a Latvian novice nun through his irresistible animal magnetism, what the Latvians call, "kevorka."

Seinfeld's kind of an obsession between a friend of mine who plays percussion in a group I direct and me. Last year we were doing "Tehillim" by Steve Reich, which sets a number of psalms (see, not entirely off topic) in the original Hebrew. Every now and then some word would remind us of this word, and we would blurt out, in the middle of rehearsal, "kevorka!" Good times. :o

Yeah, Fred over at Slacktivist is not exactly kind to the Left Behind books, but, frankly, I agree with his assesment. It's not just the theology I disagree with, they're just poorly written and hardly planned out (heck, I can't get over how made up the names sound. Always a bad sign). His posts on religion in general and on politics, etc. tend to be quite insightful too. (Though I've not found the regular commenters as inviting as GWC's, for example, so I'm not one of them, alas.)

Miguel
November 3rd, 2007, 12:20 AM
As to how I went from that to Agnosticism? Well, when I finished my doctorate in 2001 I decided that after reading so much scholarship about people that mattered to me in music and the arts, I should read some on Jesus since I'd never done that. I'd only ever read about Jesus from a theological perspective and wanted to read what the unbiased (one would hope), historiographical perspective on him was. Well, I found that that perspective essentially boils down to, "we know next to nothing about this guy. He may not even have existed, although we're pretty sure that he did and that he was crucified, although that certainty is based primarily on the fact that all four gospels (which are religious documents and therefore slightly suspect anyway) agree on these points, at least."

Well, let me tell you, to someone who was already questioning certain things he believed anyway this was quite a shocker. It's been a hell of a roller coaster ride ever since!

Thanks for sharing your story. It just seemed like such a huge leap from Evangelicalism. I think I'm in the same boat though - the more I read on science and anthropology the more I questioned my beliefs. It also didn't help that what you wrote was precisely what my Roman history professor said.

About Seinfeld - I totally remember watching that episode. I think there is a similar episode where George is dating a Jewish girl and they hadn't had sex yet, but he told her that he was Jewish. The problem was that he totally forgot that he was uncircumsized. I might be remembering it wrong though.

Dan_TheLordofKobol
November 3rd, 2007, 12:36 AM
Dan, oh Thread Starter, what are your thoughts?


God's a funny thing...

I wasn't raised to belief in any particular belief system or religion. I, however, have always been interested in religious ideas and discussion. It's something of an amateur hobby of mine... but with a more personal interest.

Bluntly? I believe in god. Not any specific god, but just... god. A semi-impersonal, transcendental force or being that is almost completely beyond my understanding. I do not believe, however, that god has any real effect on this world or the people on it.

I guess I'm something of a deist, Glim. Whether I pray or worship is irrelevant to me. God, for the most part, leaves us to shape our own future and our own world.

Also, I kind of hold a more subjective view of religion. Everybody has a piece of the universal puzzle that is spirituality, and so in a way, everybody is right. Put it another way, I'm strongly for religious tolerance and ecumenism.


...The Left Behind Series...

Yeah, I remember reading the entire series from Left Behind, all the way to The Glorious Appearing.

I own the first novel, Left Behind, and I think it's a very entertaining, well-written fiction. But, as expected, the narrative in the later novels degrades into intolerant, bigoted, predictable drivel from a couple of right-wing fundamentalists. My favourite character throughout the first novel is Nicolae Carpathia - he's the embodiment of deceit and manipulation, while also being the essence of charisma and leadership - loved that character.

Kasey
November 9th, 2007, 03:47 AM
What are your thoughts and beliefs regarding God, Religion, the Afterlife, et cetera?

Please keep it civil and tolerant.

I'm a "positive" atheist, meaning that I don't just disbelieve in the existence of a god or gods but I go so far as to say that there is no god(s). I was raised by my methodist grandparents that never ever spoke to me on any level about religion. They never had me pray to any god or gods and never practiced any sort of judeo-christian "stuff" around me. I find it kind of funny actually because my Grandfather used to teach a class on religions in highschool (way before I was born) and once I popped out he never brought it up.

Then again before I was born he was a racist so maybe the ditching of any kind of religious teachings isn't all that spectacular. Kinda puts a light on how powerful it is to some people when they see their daughter give birth... He couldn't put me down :p. I will note however that I was absolutely adorable as a baby - it'd have been impossible to hate me :cool:.

I have no reason to think there's any kind of afterlife and I don't see the need to have a supreme diety of any kind in my life. That said, I don't slam my lack of belief in people's faces unless they come at me swinging the good ol' 1611.

Armando
November 9th, 2007, 01:41 PM
I'm a "positive" atheist, meaning that I don't just disbelieve in the existence of a god or gods but I go so far as to say that there is no god(s). I was raised by my methodist grandparents that never ever spoke to me on any level about religion. They never had me pray to any god or gods and never practiced any sort of judeo-christian "stuff" around me. I find it kind of funny actually because my Grandfather used to teach a class on religions in highschool (way before I was born) and once I popped out he never brought it up.

Then again before I was born he was a racist so maybe the ditching of any kind of religious teachings isn't all that spectacular. Kinda puts a light on how powerful it is to some people when they see their daughter give birth... He couldn't put me down :p. I will note however that I was absolutely adorable as a baby - it'd have been impossible to hate me :cool:.

I have no reason to think there's any kind of afterlife and I don't see the need to have a supreme diety of any kind in my life. That said, I don't slam my lack of belief in people's faces unless they come at me swinging the good ol' 1611.



Your last thought triggered one that I've been pondering for months now: does belief in God/gods of any kind necessarily require belief in an afterlife?

Kasey
November 10th, 2007, 05:01 AM
Your last thought triggered one that I've been pondering for months now: does belief in God/gods of any kind necessarily require belief in an afterlife?

I wish I had a more profound and thought provoking answer but all I can think is no. :o

Armando
November 10th, 2007, 11:03 AM
I wish I had a more profound and thought provoking answer but all I can think is no. :o

I'm with you on that. It just seems that most people who believe in God seem to also believe in an afterlife. While that has historically been the case in most religions, it's interesting to note that the first monotheists (the ancient Hebrews...well, if you don't count the Pharaoh Akhnaten) did not necessarily believe in an afterlife, but believed in God (some of the Psalms seem to suggest this, as well as the general concept of "sheol" in the Old Testament, which is neither as specific as "hell," as translated in the King James version, or the pagan concept of the underworld or Elysium in Roman mythology).

By the same token, can there be an afterlife without God?

(Boy, we're REALLY getting off topic here!)

DocP
November 10th, 2007, 09:09 PM
The question I'd like to ask is how many people believe in chrisitanity and afterlife because they're scared of hell or not existing in just such a short mortal life. I know for a long time I convinced myself I believed in christianity because the thought of this being all there is or just an eternity of pain scared me.
________
Kid Nexium (http://www.classactionsettlements.org/lawsuit/nexium/)

Boxytheboxed
November 10th, 2007, 09:22 PM
i was raised Jewish, and decided upon it so far. {I chose it for a number of reasons one being the strong community attached to the religion. I believe in god, but a non-interfearing one. a god that gave us all free will, and wants to keep it that way.Im not too sure about the afterlife though.If any of you want to know why i didnt chose Christianity, Buddihism, or Hindui ask. im afraid it might offend. Or any questions on my 2 year religion journey just ask
i feal there is god in inanimate objects, the trees mountians, bed sheets :P
i also medita and try to get alone time as much as i cam, it truely is good for the soul

Glimfeather
November 11th, 2007, 12:45 AM
Wow, I skip out for a week and all the good conversations get going. I love this place!

You know, Armando, after you described it, that Seinfeld episode sounded familiar. But maybe that's my memory playing tricks on me.

DanLOK, Nicolae is very Baltaresque, isn't he (or maybe Baltar is Carpathia-esque?). Just goes to show you that villains are often more interesting than heroes, even in the hands of Christian fundamentalist writers trying to make them look bad. I agree that the books are mostly drivel. I choked my way through the first one just to see what all the fuss was about and then called it quits. I guess I'll have to wait until the real end of the world to see what happens. :rolleyes:

But seriously, the kind of people who write and read those books are, IMO, too obsessed with the future and the escape they hope God will provide, instead of being attentive to the present and what God would want them to do in the here and now.

And I do believe in a God of the here and now, who guides and directs my life every day, even if that's next to impossible to prove empirically. I don't even act like it's true every day, either, so I'm not saying I have any kind of perfect faith. But if I'm going to believe there's a spiritual force or component to the world, I figure go all the way and believe in the Person of God. And if there's a spiritual reality beyond the physical world, it'd follow then that my life would probably continue once my body dies.

But that's such another long topic, and it's quite late, and I have to be up early in the morning (for church, no less), and I fear sounding like I'm trying to be the Bible Answer Man. 'Cause I'm so not.

Thanks for sharing, everyone. I missed the workout these boards give my brain.

Armando
November 11th, 2007, 10:20 AM
The question I'd like to ask is how many people believe in chrisitanity and afterlife because they're scared of hell or not existing in just such a short mortal life. I know for a long time I convinced myself I believed in christianity because the thought of this being all there is or just an eternity of pain scared me.

Guilty as diddly-charged. Now I have a hard time with Christianity, even though I know full well that such belief was not what Jesus was about. Thanks, Evangelical fundamentalism!

Glimfeather, this is the kind of attitude that I find is so easy to lose track of in (American) Christians thanks to the kind of people who are the most visible (and, in a way, seem to set the agenda) in Evangelical circles. This is why I like reading the "Slacktivist" blog so much. Its author is a Christian of somewhat Evangelical (or, at least, born again) proclivities but whose faith is not based on the kinds of trivialities and neo-facist politics that some more vocal Evangelicals profess. Also, his weekly deconstruction of Left Behind is quite insightful (he has some great ideas of how Nicolae Carpathia--and I'm sorry, but that name just sounds made up--could be a better character. Mostly it involves giving him some inner conflict, which would make him very Baltar-esque).

Boxy--in my journey I've found many of Judaism's philosophies quite compelling. I certainly admire and very much like that faith's view of the afterlife: we simply don't know, so we might as well not worry about it. Now let's try and make THIS life a better one for everyone. (At least that's how I understand it.)

Tesseract
November 11th, 2007, 11:24 AM
..Just jumping in on the conversation.. this is fascinating :)


Your last thought triggered one that I've been pondering for months now: does belief in God/gods of any kind necessarily require belief in an afterlife?

Not necessarily. It depends on what your deity/belief system is based on.

If the God/gods dictate reincarnation, then by necessity, one would believe that they're going to come back into something/one else after they die.
If the faith you subscribe to has an afterlife to follow human death, then there must be an afterlife for that person. I guess what I'm trying to say is, the belief in an afterlife (the possibility or absurdity of it) would only follow from the basic belief system you're in. (Kinda roundabout explanation - sorry!)

What I'd like to know though is - If a person does not believe in God, would it be possible to think that they have an afterlife?

Boxytheboxed
November 13th, 2007, 04:26 PM
Boxy--in my journey I've found many of Judaism's philosophies quite compelling. I certainly admire and very much like that faith's view of the afterlife: we simply don't know, so we might as well not worry about it. Now let's try and make THIS life a better one for everyone. (At least that's how I understand it.)
nailed it on the head to my knowledge thats what is so, and thats one of the main reasons why i chose it.
I thinks thats what all religions should strive for doing good now, so in case there is an afterlife your be good, bu in the case there isnt, you still made the world a better place

EnoNomi
November 13th, 2007, 05:01 PM
It appears to me that most people just make up their own religion, even when defining it as Christian or Muslim. Because when you point out the rotten contradictory things the "holy" books say they're supposed to believe, they quick to point out "Oh well, that's not what I believe." Which makes me wonder why people don't just take a sharpie to those "holy" books and get rid of the parts that obviously don't apply anymore (you know, like stoning victims of rape or killing disobediant children.)

Armando
November 13th, 2007, 05:40 PM
It appears to me that most people just make up their own religion, even when defining it as Christian or Muslim. Because when you point out the rotten contradictory things the "holy" books say they're supposed to believe, they quick to point out "Oh well, that's not what I believe." Which makes me wonder why people don't just take a sharpie to those "holy" books and get rid of the parts that obviously don't apply anymore (you know, like stoning victims of rape or killing disobediant children.)

Hey, it worked for Thomas Jefferson!

Armando
November 13th, 2007, 05:42 PM
nailed it on the head to my knowledge thats what is so, and thats one of the main reasons why i chose it.
I thinks thats what all religions should strive for doing good now, so in case there is an afterlife your be good, bu in the case there isnt, you still made the world a better place

I think being good should have nothing to do with the afterlife. Is moral behavior really moral if it is engaged in order to secure prizes and treats after a certain point. That kind of philosophy (and I know I'm preaching to the choir, Boxey) reduces God to Santa Claus.

Boxytheboxed
November 13th, 2007, 07:26 PM
^I never really liked santa anyways lol
Armando it also worked for River errr sorta

Armando
November 13th, 2007, 10:01 PM
^I never really liked santa anyways lol
Armando it also worked for River errr sorta

Phoenix? Or is that a Firefly reference? (I never saw the show, just the movie. I know, I know: sacrilege around here. I'll get around to it, don't worry.)

Boxytheboxed
November 14th, 2007, 03:26 PM
^HERITIC HERITIC yes firefly, what is this pheonix you speak of

Armando
November 14th, 2007, 05:04 PM
^HERITIC HERITIC yes firefly, what is this pheonix you speak of

River Phoenix. Deceased brother of the vastly less talented (but sublimely weirder) Joaquin.

Archtaku
November 20th, 2007, 01:43 PM
Also, I find agnosticism to be the only logical position when it comes to the question of religion. As a bumper sticker I once saw rather glibly put it: I don't know and, face it, neither do you. :-)

Just because neither viewpoint is proven, doesn't make the likelihood that either is true 50/50.

Atheism is the default position, IMO. I'm actually pretty fed up with people getting wide-eyed and asking me why I don't believe. "Why do YOU believe?" I say.

Bertrand Russell put it best:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

Richard Dawkins also added the following, which is an observation that anyone with a little common-sense should be able to make:

The reason organized religion merits outright hostility is that, unlike belief in Russell's teapot, religion is powerful, influential, tax-exempt and systematically passed on to children too young to defend themselves. Children are not compelled to spend their formative years memorizing loony books about teapots. Government-subsidized schools don't exclude children whose parents prefer the wrong shape of teapot. Teapot-believers don't stone teapot-unbelievers, teapot-apostates, teapot-heretics and teapot-blasphemers to death. Mothers don't warn their sons off marrying teapot-shiksas whose parents believe in three teapots rather than one. People who put the milk in first don't kneecap those who put the tea in first.

Armando
November 20th, 2007, 04:08 PM
Just because neither viewpoint is proven, doesn't make the likelihood that either is true 50/50.

Atheism is the default position, IMO. I'm actually pretty fed up with people getting wide-eyed and asking me why I don't believe. "Why do YOU believe?" I say.

Bertrand Russell put it best:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

Richard Dawkins also added the following, which is an observation that anyone with a little common-sense should be able to make:

The reason organized religion merits outright hostility is that, unlike belief in Russell's teapot, religion is powerful, influential, tax-exempt and systematically passed on to children too young to defend themselves. Children are not compelled to spend their formative years memorizing loony books about teapots. Government-subsidized schools don't exclude children whose parents prefer the wrong shape of teapot. Teapot-believers don't stone teapot-unbelievers, teapot-apostates, teapot-heretics and teapot-blasphemers to death. Mothers don't warn their sons off marrying teapot-shiksas whose parents believe in three teapots rather than one. People who put the milk in first don't kneecap those who put the tea in first.



All good points, Mercuryshadow, although I think that Dawkins has his own issues to deal with before he can really, honestly say what a proper religious position should be (same goes for Chris Hitchens, although I just adore his confrontational stance for some strange reason. It's oddly charming, even when he talks politics, which I completely disagree with him on).

Anyway, I wonder how much of a "default" position atheism really is, though. I would love to ask my newborn girl what her views of God are, but she cannot possibly respond. I know my five year old has some idea of God, though that comes primarily from her grandparents and our attending church with them when we lived with them for three years. My wife and I long ago decided that our children would be allowed to make up their own minds regarding religion.

Anyhow, that's besides the point. I tend to side more with Daniel D. Dennet (whose book, Breaking the Spell, I highly recommend) in the assertion that both theism and atheism involve too much belief (or too much certainty in belief) for comfort.

I will say this, though: Dawkins is right in asserting the need to rescind the tax exempt status of religious organizations, particularly those led by people who insist on endorsing political causes, positions and candidates from their pulpits.

Archtaku
November 20th, 2007, 09:53 PM
All good points, Mercuryshadow, although I think that Dawkins has his own issues to deal with before he can really, honestly say what a proper religious position should be (same goes for Chris Hitchens, although I just adore his confrontational stance for some strange reason.
Perhaps, perhaps not. Nonetheless, no one has yet been able to answer Hitchens' challenge to those who would claim that religion has a moral high ground-- "Can you name a moral action taken, or a moral statement made, by a believer that could not have been made by an atheist?"


Anyway, I wonder how much of a "default" position atheism really is, though. I would love to ask my newborn girl what her views of God are, but she cannot possibly respond. I know my five year old has some idea of God, though that comes primarily from her grandparents and our attending church with them when we lived with them for three years. My wife and I long ago decided that our children would be allowed to make up their own minds regarding religion.
It's absolutely the default position. There are no christian children, or muslim children, or Jewish (at least in the religious sense) children, just as there are no republican children, no democrat children, no marxist children, etc. Absent from indoctrination (not intended in an insulting way) by religious parents/relatives/other, a child will either retain the default position of nonbelief, or choose to believe. Sam Harris put forth another interesting mental exercise. I don't have the exact quote, but it goes a bit like this: If a great calamity destroyed all of our knowledge, art, books, etc. and caused humanity to simultaneously suffer total and complete amnesia, at what point would we realize the importance of keeping the sabbath day holy?


Anyhow, that's besides the point. I tend to side more with Daniel D. Dennet (whose book, Breaking the Spell, I highly recommend) in the assertion that both theism and atheism involve too much belief (or too much certainty in belief) for comfort.
I'm actually in the process of reading that book right now (It's actually Daniel C. Dennett, BTW). However I fully disagree that atheism requires faith. Ask 100 atheists if they are absolutely 100% sure that there is no god. Then ask 100 practicing theists if they are absolutely 100% sure that there is a god. I'll bet you cash money that the latter poll will have more "yes" answers. THAT is faith. In fact, I've never met a single atheist who says that they are 100% sure that there is no god. Atheists in general will tend to describe themselves as a 6 on what is called the Spectrum of Theistic Probability (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectrum_of_Theistic_Probability):

6. Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. 'I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.'

This goes back to my earlier point. The "God Hypothesis" is not a 50/50 proposition. You don't either absolutely believe or absolutely not believe, and by no means does one have to maintain absolute certainty that there is no god to live their life as if one did not exist. Think of it this way: I do not have absolute proof that the world won't end tomorrow. Yet, I choose to live my life as if it will not. It would be silly though to say that my lack of belief in tomorrow's imminent apocalypse was motivated by faith.


I will say this, though: Dawkins is right in asserting the need to rescind the tax exempt status of religious organizations, particularly those led by people who insist on endorsing political causes, positions and candidates from their pulpits.
I agree 100%.

wisebob134
November 22nd, 2007, 12:11 PM
It appears to me that most people just make up their own religion, even when defining it as Christian or Muslim. Because when you point out the rotten contradictory things the "holy" books say they're supposed to believe, they quick to point out "Oh well, that's not what I believe." Which makes me wonder why people don't just take a sharpie to those "holy" books and get rid of the parts that obviously don't apply anymore (you know, like stoning victims of rape or killing disobediant children.)

I pretty strong Baptist Christian. I find that most contradictory things in the Bible are out of context and mean more than face value. Also the old testament is just a historical record of people use to be like.

Armando
November 22nd, 2007, 02:36 PM
[QUOTE=MercuryShadow;6962]Perhaps, perhaps not. Nonetheless, no one has yet been able to answer Hitchens' challenge to those who would claim that religion has a moral high ground-- "Can you name a moral action taken, or a moral statement made, by a believer that could not have been made by an atheist?"
>>>

(Apologies if the quotes don't come out correctly. I'm still, after all this time, not quite sure how to format these sorts of posts.)

Well, D. James Kennedy tried to a long time ago in a book called What if Jesus had Never Been Born. His arguments are preposterous and don't hold any water (at the time I read it I was more likely to agree with the guy than disagree--except on his point regarding music, which was based ENTIRELY on subjective tastes. That kinda blew his argument out of the water and I'm sure the same was true for any of the other chapters covering other areas, given expertise in those areas). Which is more by way of an annecdote than an example of an answer to Hitchens, since I think he has a point.

<<
It's absolutely the default position. There are no christian children, or muslim children, or Jewish (at least in the religious sense) children, just as there are no republican children, no democrat children, no marxist children, etc. Absent from indoctrination (not intended in an insulting way) by religious parents/relatives/other, a child will either retain the default position of nonbelief, or choose to believe. Sam Harris put forth another interesting mental exercise. I don't have the exact quote, but it goes a bit like this: If a great calamity destroyed all of our knowledge, art, books, etc. and caused humanity to simultaneously suffer total and complete amnesia, at what point would we realize the importance of keeping the sabbath day holy?
>>

I see what you mean. Okay. Point taken.

>>>I'm actually in the process of reading that book right now (It's actually Daniel C. Dennett, BTW). However I fully disagree that atheism requires faith. Ask 100 atheists if they are absolutely 100% sure that there is no god. Then ask 100 practicing theists if they are absolutely 100% sure that there is a god. I'll bet you cash money that the latter poll will have more "yes" answers. THAT is faith. In fact, I've never met a single atheist who says that they are 100% sure that there is no god. Atheists in general will tend to describe themselves as a 6 on what is called the Spectrum of Theistic Probability (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectrum_of_Theistic_Probability):

6. Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. 'I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.'
>>>

Well, all right, but I didn't say "faith," I said "belief," which, to my mind, are different from each other. My point, and I think Dennett's point too, if I read the book correctly, is that agnosticism is the only LOGICAL position given the nature of the debate and the evidence on either side (though I, for one, would agree with Dawkins that the evidence is rather piling up against the existence of God. But then, I consider that if such a being as God exists, s/he would be so beyond our experiential capabilities that his/her existence would likely be unobservable anyway). Face it: we don't KNOW one way or another, faith or not. It's only that some of us live our lives with an assumption of a small (or medium) probability and others live in certainty of their beliefs (which is to say, I largely agree with you). The problem is when you get such certainty that gets folks to thinking that they MUST, under any circumstances, bring all others to their point of view or, failing that, destroy them. That just gives us Cylon apocalypses (and, more seriously, 9/11's and Pat Robertson Christian neo-fascism).

<<<
This goes back to my earlier point. The "God Hypothesis" is not a 50/50 proposition. You don't either absolutely believe or absolutely not believe, and by no means does one have to maintain absolute certainty that there is no god to live their life as if one did not exist. Think of it this way: I do not have absolute proof that the world won't end tomorrow. Yet, I choose to live my life as if it will not. It would be silly though to say that my lack of belief in tomorrow's imminent apocalypse was motivated by faith.
>>

I agree 100% too.

Armando
November 22nd, 2007, 02:37 PM
I pretty strong Baptist Christian. I find that most contradictory things in the Bible are out of context and mean more than face value. Also the old testament is just a historical record of people use to be like.

What do you mean by this?

wisebob134
November 26th, 2007, 03:17 PM
What do you mean by this?

Of course anything in the old testament can contradict the new testament because your only suppose to follow the new testament.
My wording here is a little weak I meant to say that a lot of things in the bible are taken out of context.Without that context that verse would promote something bad or at least hypocritical.

Armando
November 26th, 2007, 09:14 PM
Of course anything in the old testament can contradict the new testament because your only suppose to follow the new testament.
My wording here is a little weak I meant to say that a lot of things in the bible are taken out of context.Without that context that verse would promote something bad or at least hypocritical.

Taking passages from the Bible out of context is what American protestantism (especially the Evangelical variety) is all about! And what is this about only being supposed to follow the New Testament? Didn't Jesus say that not a single stroke of a pen would disappear from the Law and Prophets and that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill them?

Hannibleking
November 26th, 2007, 09:26 PM
I tried to get the jest of what everyones saying forgive me for not taking the time to read them all, strangely enough I only read the longer ones. Just wanted to kinda throw my position out there I might decide to discuss some things already said later. But just to throw what, at least from what I've read, seems to be a pseudo-unique view on things.

Ok well starting with my upbringing, as most have. I was born Irish Catholic I went to a very strict Catholic pre-school. It was like the one from the Blues Brothers with the over bearing Nuns and so fourth. My dad was completely raised catholic, and my mom was only part way, shes acctually half Jewish/half Catholic. Yea figure that one out... I still can't. Well once we moved down here to Texas and away from the Grandparents my parents, after a few years managed to work up the grit(fearing the Nun with the ruler) to seperate from the Catholic Church. I believe I was 7 at the time and we joined up with the Episcopals. Well again Catholic is a way of life, and I spent many years trying to get rid of that guilt and fear of punishment through damnation.

Well after the fear wore off. I began to think outside of the box and thinking about my beliefes in a larger context as I ventured into my mid-teen years. Well I couldn't "find god" and my parents didn't force it. They had been forced and were not going to do that to me.

Well, I came to Atheism and for a while just didn't believe - pure athiest. Enough time passed and, the more I learned I figured I was just rebelling against something that was restrictive. I didn't have to believe any specifics to believe in god.

Here goes my monologue, try to follow...

So my beliefs on God came to what they are now. He is an idea. Yes he does exsist. He is all seeing... yes. But, he cannot see with eyes. He does not view, as we do. He is the ultimate paradox and therefore cannot be understood. He is like, infinity... He cannot be even imaginied because he is beyond that of which we could possibly understand. And he is not incredibly old. His exsistance was a smaller amount of time than we can humanly measure, since true time does not exsist it is simply a measurement. He exsisted only at the beginning yet because of that he always is, was, and will be. He doesn't have a concious and therefore does not interfere with us or posses any powers that can undue probability. We are not special other than the fact that we hold a unique ability understand that we are not. God doesn't care about us. But we are him and therefore we care about each other... and so he does care about us.

The only evil the devil ever did was convince us that we had a life with him. Even if it was a life of pain, and suffering. He tells you every day this also. He is in your Office, your Home, and even the depths of the ocean he can exsist... or not. He is guilt, telling yourself that you will be punished for something you did. Even though you might not ever be punished. Because, in truth, we hate not being punished. Because punishment is an end to internal pain... for both the offender and offended.

So God and the Devil do exsist... definitions are irrelevant. Since they are an element of our creation. You just have to decide in what context they exsist.

Afterlife... now theres an intresting one. When I was an atheist I was depressed because what was there but progatory. But, I came to this conclusion eventually. There is no religous afterlife. My afterlife, is that time is infinite. Well what does conceptual mathmatics, with a little philosophy mixed in, teach us. There is no true real world exsistance of the number 0. At least as far as probability. So if time is infinite, every probability must then eventually come true. 1 out of 1 googooplex (yes its a number) probability of something happening will eventually happen. Meaning if string theory and such ideas hold true. Then all will eventually be so... eventually we will be remade. Humanity given enough time... or another species countless years in the future. Will invent a machine that will bring us back. And the number of ways we can be brought back is countless. Even at our technology level. We could be remade molecule by molecule because some race in the future saw me and decided to reassemble me because they have the ability to do so. Or you could reborn inside a computer, your conciousness that is. Point is in the event of unavoidable, probabilital, eventuality. We will exsist in the future as ourselves once again. The day you die you will wake up in the future. Mabey in a thousand years to humans or in a couple billion to a much advanced alien species. Or possibilitys not yet understood. Point is there is hope, everyone will live again unless our mathmatics fails us. Which at that point we will all die in peaceful ignorance of our fate, and what existance was or wasn't for our race. We will end with a wimper or not at all. In the end no ones right. We weren't made to comprehend our exsistance as much as we would like to believe, we were only meant to survive it. But, we have a chance...a sudden solar flare could kill us in an instance, in the infintile state of our civilization. So lets make that chance mean something.

EDIT: Just wanted to add something that I think I should make clear. I still believe im technically an atheist because I hate the Church. And would love to see all organized religons to be disolved. Excluding buddhism and others that are more a "way of life" of course. They seem to work out better anyway...

Pike
November 26th, 2007, 09:40 PM
OK, since we're all weighing in here. My take:

I grew up Irish/Polish Catholic. Parents were pretty lapsed, but grandparents were not.

I've been, at one point or another, at every point on the board b/t hard-core Catholic and utter atheist.

My current take is essentially atheist, but it acknowledges that religion is an evolutionary advantage, and so is a necessary component of modern human beings. That is, I think that atheists have the objective 'truth' but that it is no substitute for the theological 'truths.' At least on a day-to-day basis.

Armando
November 27th, 2007, 09:20 AM
OK, since we're all weighing in here. My take:

I grew up Irish/Polish Catholic. Parents were pretty lapsed, but grandparents were not.

I've been, at one point or another, at every point on the board b/t hard-core Catholic and utter atheist.

My current take is essentially atheist, but it acknowledges that religion is an evolutionary advantage, and so is a necessary component of modern human beings. That is, I think that atheists have the objective 'truth' but that it is no substitute for the theological 'truths.' At least on a day-to-day basis.

I'm not sure I would agree religion is an evolutionary advantage. It may have been for some time, but it seems that certain extreme aspects of contemporary religious lives will ultimately prove to be an evolutionary DISadvantage, to say nothing of an immediate danger to the existence of human civilization.

If the frakked up weather doesn't get us all first, that is.

Pike
November 27th, 2007, 09:44 AM
I'm not sure I would agree religion is an evolutionary advantage. It may have been for some time, but it seems that certain extreme aspects of contemporary religious lives will ultimately prove to be an evolutionary DISadvantage, to say nothing of an immediate danger to the existence of human civilization.


Well, there you're getting into the fact that we're paleolithic hunter-gatherers coping with situations we were never adapted for. But that would be a separate thread.

wisebob134
November 29th, 2007, 02:55 PM
Show me the verses.
"Taking passages from the Bible out of context is what American protestantism (especially the Evangelical variety) is all about!"
Thats a generalization , but just to inform you I only care about the Bible in it's proper context.

Armando
November 29th, 2007, 05:43 PM
Show me the verses.
"Taking passages from the Bible out of context is what American protestantism (especially the Evangelical variety) is all about!"
Thats a generalization , but just to inform you I only care about the Bible in it's proper context.


Well, it may be a generalization, but it's one based on my own personal experience as a former Evangelical. Let's just leave it at that, agree to disagree and not start slinging mud. This forum has managed to stay relatively fight free for over a year now. We should aim to keep it that way.

(Although if you want to talk about this stuff via private messages, that would be okay. So long as we both promise to keep our wits about us.) :D

Archtaku
November 29th, 2007, 09:23 PM
Well, all right, but I didn't say "faith," I said "belief," which, to my mind, are different from each other.

I see. I tend to equate both terms with one another (when they are applied to religion at least), but I certainly understand the distinction you are making.


My point, and I think Dennett's point too, if I read the book correctly, is that agnosticism is the only LOGICAL position given the nature of the debate and the evidence on either side (though I, for one, would agree with Dawkins that the evidence is rather piling up against the existence of God.

This argument makes a lot of sense. But I think there is a lot of overlap between the viewpoints of atheists and most agnostics. It's just a matter of what one prefers to call oneself. In principle I think that all intellectually honest atheists are agnostic with respect to the existence of a god, but in practice the idea of god just has no influence in how they live their lives. Does that make sense?


But then, I consider that if such a being as God exists, s/he would be so beyond our experiential capabilities that his/her existence would likely be unobservable anyway).

This may be true, but I don't give much weight to hypotheses that aren't falsifiable. If there is an omnipotent deity, then there should be some evidence of its power. Case in point, the recent double-blind study on the effects of intercessory prayer (bankrolled by the religious-leaning Templeton Foundation, no less), which found that prayer has no effect on the recovery of patients who have recently had coronary bypass surgery (http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/04.06/05-prayer.html). What this tells is that either there is no god, or there is a god, but it is either A) not omnipotent and thus powerless to help those for whom so many are praying, or B) malevolent enough to purposely withhold divine intervention in order to maintain the ambiguity of its existence. This is not the kind of "deity" that I feel deserves any respect.


The problem is when you get such certainty that gets folks to thinking that they MUST, under any circumstances, bring all others to their point of view or, failing that, destroy them. That just gives us Cylon apocalypses (and, more seriously, 9/11's and Pat Robertson Christian neo-fascism).

Agreed 1,000,000,000 percent.

wisebob134
November 30th, 2007, 03:17 PM
Well, it may be a generalization, but it's one based on my own personal experience as a former Evangelical. Let's just leave it at that, agree to disagree and not start slinging mud. This forum has managed to stay relatively fight free for over a year now. We should aim to keep it that way.

(Although if you want to talk about this stuff via private messages, that would be okay. So long as we both promise to keep our wits about us.) :D

I would probably agree with you about most Evangelicals being that way, just not all protestants. If you want to private message about it feel free. I like being challenged and thinking about such giant concepts. Which is really why I like Bsg.

The Lonely Toaster
December 3rd, 2007, 10:23 AM
Until now I have considered myself a true-blue Humanist/Atheist.
But this has me re-thinking...
http://neatorama.cachefly.net/images/2006-07/god-jesus-toy-robot.jpg

http://www.neatorama.com/2006/07/17/god-jesus-toy-robot/

Armando
December 3rd, 2007, 12:58 PM
This may be true, but I don't give much weight to hypotheses that aren't falsifiable. If there is an omnipotent deity, then there should be some evidence of its power. Case in point, the recent double-blind study on the effects of intercessory prayer (bankrolled by the religious-leaning Templeton Foundation, no less), which found that prayer has no effect on the recovery of patients who have recently had coronary bypass surgery (http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/04.06/05-prayer.html). What this tells is that either there is no god, or there is a god, but it is either A) not omnipotent and thus powerless to help those for whom so many are praying, or B) malevolent enough to purposely withhold divine intervention in order to maintain the ambiguity of its existence. This is not the kind of "deity" that I feel deserves any respect.


Keep in mind that there may very well be an option c) God is impersonal and either incapable or uninterested/oblivious of human affairs (and therefore not omnipotent, I suppose). There's also an option D) God, as creator of all, does (and must, really) embody both good AND evil within him/her/itself and his/her/its actions are largely arbitrary (I've been thinking about this last possibility a lot in the past two months).

Dan_TheLordofKobol
December 3rd, 2007, 07:13 PM
Keep in mind that there may very well be an option c) God is impersonal and either incapable or uninterested/oblivious of human affairs (and therefore not omnipotent, I suppose).

Again, I think this would be the perfect time to say that I personally agree with option C... though, I admittedly have little evidence to support it.

wisebob134
December 4th, 2007, 02:31 PM
"prayer has no effect on the recovery of patients who have recently had coronary bypass surgery."
Just becuase one situation that you may pray for doesn't help , does not mean God doesn't exist or is totally useless. May'be their will be another way that these people will be helped, they could be saved (which if you believe God exists is a good thing) and then death wouldn't be a bad thing.
I do believe our prays can be answer not only in a series of coincidences but also in direct ways. I've heard people , people that I've trusted tell they have seen miracles. My best friend saw a child in africa get healed from an incurable skin disease.
One time when I was praying in my room by myself. I heard an clear audible voice whisper(God) in my ear. No one else was in my room, it didn't sound like anyone I knew, and I wasn't on drugs. The thing that gets most people hung up on this is that you won't just have a giant reveal of God to people. Even if that happen a lot of people would question it.(I'm sure most people will question this.) You have to go out their and live your life for God to see evidence he exists.
I don't see the point in telling false stories just to get more Chirstans. This is just my experience, and what happened to me.

Archtaku
December 4th, 2007, 03:42 PM
You can't just take one or two hearsay stories a la carte and say that prayer works. In fact, I'd like to see more studies done myself.

The fact is, if you're going to make a decision about whether or not prayer works, and be intellectually honest about it, then you have to factor in the millions of other people stricken with horrible diseases. Many of them will have their entire congregation praying for them every Sunday, and a lot of congregations will even hold all-day prayer vigils. I saw this with my own eyes as a child/teenager. Yet in the vast majority of cases, these people will not get better. Growing up, the people at my parents' church that I remember having a remission of their cancer were the ones that were lucky enough to have an early diagnosis, or whose cancer had yet to metastasize... instances for which modern medicine has been known to have high success rates in stopping cancer.

As for hearing voices, there are neurological reasons why this can happen. A scientist named Thomas Dierks did a study (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WSS-418PTBD-V&_user=10&_origUdi=B6WNP-4GFV5ND-4&_fmt=high&_coverDate=03%2F31%2F1999&_rdoc=1&_orig=article&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=e6744102066282928af96fa43efcb0d7) of schizophrenic patients that routinely had auditory hallucinations and found that, during the time which they were hearing voices, an area of the brain called "Heschl's Gyrus", which is known to be involved in how we perceive hearing, showed increased activity. Now, this is not to say that you're a schizophrenic, but it does show a clear physiological explanation of one of the ways the phenomenon of hearing disembodied voices can manifest itself.

Just out of curiosity, what did this voice say to you? And, if you had heard this same voice, and it identified itself as God and said that you must kill all nonbelievers, would you be as quick to take it at face value? Or, would you begin to search for a non-religious explanation?

wisebob134
December 4th, 2007, 08:10 PM
Well it was a lot simpler than say a giant apocalytic message or anything. Basically instead of saying amen and that the end of my prayer I would say "Goodnight God". Also before I finished my prayer, I was just sick of caring so much of what other people think about me. So I said I don't care how other people judge me anymore(PARAPHASED) . Then I just turned off my light went said "Goodnight God" and I heard a whisper in my ear that said "Goodnight." If I was having Auditory Hallucinations I'd think it be more consistent and definately longer.(http://www.healthyplace.com/communities/Thought_Disorders/schizo/articles/hearing_voices.htm)
This article doesn't describe anything I'm going through.
Prayer isn't always going to work. It's like saying I prayed for everybody's sin so it should be gone or I prayed for peace so all war should stop. Those would be testing God. God works when he wants to. Being all knowing this isn't really a problem. Evil won't be truly gone until the apolcalypse is done (according to my belief). The experience I had proved prayer and God is real to me. I think if you seek after God you'd find the truth.
If I did hear God told me to kill all the Nonbelievers , I would probably see if it lined up with the Bible . It wouldn't so it would be the devil.
I guess I sound a little crazy but It's what really happened to me. I don't think there is a scientific explanation but go ahead try. I'm listening.

Armando
December 4th, 2007, 08:26 PM
Well, the leprechaun I hear in my head tells ME to burn things.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. In all seriousness, the issue of prayer has been in my mind a lot over the past two months. As many of you know, my wife gave birth to our youngest daughter, Elena, 13 weeks premature last September. She had a lot of people praying for her from the beginning, and I'm not prepared to believe that none of that was effective in ultimately getting her home, although I'm more inclined to credit advances in medical science and the professionalism, skills and talents of the doctors and nurses that cared for her before she came home. That said, I'm not prepared to say that the prayer didn't contribute either. But...while Elena was at the NICU a baby in her unit, who I'm sure had plenty of people praying for her, got very sick and died after a few days. That tragedy got me thinking about the randomness of life and the universe, that two innocent children could have people praying for their recovery with the same amount of faith, and yet one makes it and the other doesn't. (Who's to question God's will, though, after all?)

Sure, studies show that cardiac patients don't recover with prayer. Other studies have shown that patients with other ailments (cancer?) who pray show some improvement. At the very least, that kind of faith seems to suggest a positive mindset which in certain treatments (like those of cancer patients) are known to aid in recovery. So perhaps THAT is an important purpose for prayer, without resorting to supernatural explanations.

As to your hearing voices, Bob: back when I was an evangelical I thought I heard God's voice in my prayers/head too. I've since realized that I was not hearing God speak. The giveaway? I thought God told me once that he was setting aside a specific woman to be my wife. I ended up with someone else (and very happily too).

In any case, I'm not prepared to dismiss God, but I find that a healthy degree of skepticism is necessary in order to live my life.

Archtaku
December 4th, 2007, 10:59 PM
Sure, studies show that cardiac patients don't recover with prayer. Other studies have shown that patients with other ailments (cancer?) who pray show some improvement.
Yes, and I've read about other studies as well, but the one distinction (and it's a VERY important one) between those studies and the Templeton Foundation's recent cardiac bypass study is that the latter was the only one to be done double-blind (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-blind). When this sort of experiment is not double-blind, there is always the chance that bias will cloud the results. This is true whether it be the bias of someone trying to provide positive proof of the existence of a god, or a nonbeliever's latent hope that his/her work will somehow prove their viewpoint is more likely.


At the very least, that kind of faith seems to suggest a positive mindset which in certain treatments (like those of cancer patients) are known to aid in recovery. So perhaps THAT is an important purpose for prayer, without resorting to supernatural explanations.
That could definitely be possible. In fact, I have read about studies that show that a positive mindset can appear to affect physiology.


I have a response to your past response typed up on my work computer, but I had to run and I haven't been able to finish it. Will post it sometime tomorrow.

Browncoat Bryan
December 4th, 2007, 11:42 PM
I used to be a fundamentalist evangelical until the 2004 election cycle (when certain folks started saying that America is a Christian country... which is kinda a hard statement for a Black person with Native American blood to hear).

I saw the ugly side of organized religion and for a while I stood strongly against it (I would have been one of the people who would have ripped anyone a new one for claiming to be Christian). But, then I realized that I was no different than the agents of intolerance who pushed me away from the faith.

I now have no theological allegiance. I like the teachings of Jesus (red letters only), and the teachings of Buddha, and the teachings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. So, I guess I'm a Taoist Buddhist Christian or a Buddhist Taoist Christian. I personally consider myself a Dudeist (http://www.dudeism.com) :cool:.

I'm no longer angry with the Christian community. There are many fine folks within the Christian faith, just as there are many fine folk in all the others. I would say that maybe 70%-80% of the people who identify with a faith tradition are moderate and humble people who strongly believe and want to live decent lives and help others, but don't have a problem with other people believing what they want. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the loudmouth 20% who frak it up for everyone else.

I now must go and abide.

Archtaku
December 5th, 2007, 08:19 AM
Keep in mind that there may very well be an option c) God is impersonal and either incapable or uninterested/oblivious of human affairs (and therefore not omnipotent, I suppose). There's also an option D) God, as creator of all, does (and must, really) embody both good AND evil within him/her/itself and his/her/its actions are largely arbitrary (I've been thinking about this last possibility a lot in the past two months).

"C" is certainly a possibility, but if that were true then the concept of "god" would be relegated to the deist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism)'s definition of god, and nothing resembling any monotheistic faith. And that sort of definition is one that I have no issue with.

"D" would also render monotheistic faith moot, which is fine by me. But if its actions were "largely arbitrary", as you put it, that leaves little explanation for how we came to be. If we're merely the products of arbitrary actions, then one would expect that the order we expect to (and do) see in the world due to evolution by natural selection would not be present.

I guess, when it comes down to it, the biggest hurdle for me in believing in the existence of a deity is this: Throughout the natural world, we just don't see complexity arise from nothingness. Complexity in nature is preceded by less complexity. Prokaryotes before eukaryotes, Australopithecus afarensis before Homo sapiens, etc. So, given that, I don't see a reason to expect that something complex enough to have the intelligence to create the universe would have preceded the simplest of life forms. And if there was a god, who designed he/she/it? If god didn't need a creator, why does the universe? Saying "because it's god" just doesn't cut it.

Topgun
December 5th, 2007, 08:31 AM
Until now I have considered myself a true-blue Humanist/Atheist.
But this has me re-thinking...
http://neatorama.cachefly.net/images/2006-07/god-jesus-toy-robot.jpg

http://www.neatorama.com/2006/07/17/god-jesus-toy-robot/

I refuse to accept this post. It is terrible to trivialize and demean religion with a robot toy such as THIS !

Everyone knows that the TRUE Robot God-Jesus is
RED and white !! Frakkin' heathens....

Holy War ensues.

Armando
December 5th, 2007, 11:52 AM
"C" is certainly a possibility, but if that were true then the concept of "god" would be relegated to the deist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism)'s definition of god, and nothing resembling any monotheistic faith. And that sort of definition is one that I have no issue with.

"D" would also render monotheistic faith moot, which is fine by me. But if its actions were "largely arbitrary", as you put it, that leaves little explanation for how we came to be. If we're merely the products of arbitrary actions, then one would expect that the order we expect to (and do) see in the world due to evolution by natural selection would not be present.

I guess, when it comes down to it, the biggest hurdle for me in believing in the existence of a deity is this: Throughout the natural world, we just don't see complexity arise from nothingness. Complexity in nature is preceded by less complexity. Prokaryotes before eukaryotes, Australopithecus afarensis before Homo sapiens, etc. So, given that, I don't see a reason to expect that something complex enough to have the intelligence to create the universe would have preceded the simplest of life forms. And if there was a god, who designed he/she/it? If god didn't need a creator, why does the universe? Saying "because it's god" just doesn't cut it.



Hey, I'm with you on those. That's why I prefer options "C" or "D" more than "A" and "B" above (waaaay above), though they still remain imperfect. I suppose option "E" might be that God is neither omnipotent nor omnipresent nor the creator of the universe but is rather a far more advanced being than we are who is itself a part of the universe.

Of course, maybe we just made the whole thing up to help ourselves feel better about the lonely, random and ultimately meaningless (at least in the large scale) nature of existence. Or maybe it's a whole BSG thing and our notions of God(s) are a projection of where our own evolution will eventually take us, in an "this has all happened before and it will happen again" sort of way.

But now I'm just ad-libbing.

Armando
December 5th, 2007, 11:53 AM
I refuse to accept this post. It is terrible to trivialize and demean religion with a robot toy such as THIS !

Everyone knows that the TRUE Robot God-Jesus is
RED and white !! Frakkin' heathens....

Holy War ensues.


Hey, you knew it was a matter of time. What we need now is to pit the robot God/Jesus against the robot Devil in a fiddling contest. THAT would be the most frakking awesome apocalypse ever!

Archtaku
December 5th, 2007, 12:56 PM
Hey, I'm with you on those. That's why I prefer options "C" or "D" more than "A" and "B" above (waaaay above), though they still remain imperfect. I suppose option "E" might be that God is neither omnipotent nor omnipresent nor the creator of the universe but is rather a far more advanced being than we are who is itself a part of the universe.
True. Any sufficiently advanced life form would appear god-like to those who were significantly more primitive. To use sci-fi as an example, take the Go'a'uld from Stargate SG-1, or the vorlons, shadows, and technomages from Babylon 5. And can you imagine what we would look like to first-century humanity with our cell phones, cars, flying machines, and the ability to create fire in the palm of our hands? :eek:

Armando
December 5th, 2007, 02:47 PM
True. Any sufficiently advanced life form would appear god-like to those who were significantly more primitive. To use sci-fi as an example, take the Go'a'uld from Stargate SG-1, or the vorlons, shadows, and technomages from Babylon 5. And can you imagine what we would look like to first-century humanity with our cell phones, cars, flying machines, and the ability to create fire in the palm of our hands? :eek:

First century? Hell, early 20th century humans would be blown away by what we can do! I imagine, if we're not gone by then, that late 21st/early 22nd century humans would blow US away.

wisebob134
December 7th, 2007, 03:19 PM
Well, the leprechaun I hear in my head tells ME to burn things.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. In all seriousness, the issue of prayer has been in my mind a lot over the past two months. As many of you know, my wife gave birth to our youngest daughter, Elena, 13 weeks premature last September. She had a lot of people praying for her from the beginning, and I'm not prepared to believe that none of that was effective in ultimately getting her home, although I'm more inclined to credit advances in medical science and the professionalism, skills and talents of the doctors and nurses that cared for her before she came home. That said, I'm not prepared to say that the prayer didn't contribute either. But...while Elena was at the NICU a baby in her unit, who I'm sure had plenty of people praying for her, got very sick and died after a few days. That tragedy got me thinking about the randomness of life and the universe, that two innocent children could have people praying for their recovery with the same amount of faith, and yet one makes it and the other doesn't. (Who's to question God's will, though, after all?)

Sure, studies show that cardiac patients don't recover with prayer. Other studies have shown that patients with other ailments (cancer?) who pray show some improvement. At the very least, that kind of faith seems to suggest a positive mindset which in certain treatments (like those of cancer patients) are known to aid in recovery. So perhaps THAT is an important purpose for prayer, without resorting to supernatural explanations.

As to your hearing voices, Bob: back when I was an evangelical I thought I heard God's voice in my prayers/head too. I've since realized that I was not hearing God speak. The giveaway? I thought God told me once that he was setting aside a specific woman to be my wife. I ended up with someone else (and very happily too).

In any case, I'm not prepared to dismiss God, but I find that a healthy degree of skepticism is necessary in order to live my life.

I already explained everything if you are willing to accept it is really the matter here.
*note I heard God voice Audibly not in my head. Like someone talking to me.

Archtaku
December 7th, 2007, 04:10 PM
I already explained everything if you are willing to accept it is really the matter here.
*note I heard God voice Audibly not in my head. Like someone talking to me.

Auditory hallucinations are processed as sound by the same part of the brain that processes auditory data from your ear. So all voices we hear, real or otherwise, are in our heads.