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Pararousia
21-09-05, 01:21
I'm quoting A.S.A. Jones here:

Learning to think spiritually isn't about accepting the supernatural. I am referring to that part of the human intellect that allows the mind to understand things that are not readily made obvious or explicitly stated. It is the same skill involved in interpreting poetry or in detecting the nuances that are present in higher literature. Most people already have this ability; they just need to learn how to apply it when it comes to the issue of God.

If you are an atheist who is interested in seeing if he can tune into God, I recommend that you first read "The Tao of Pooh" by Benjamin Hoff. It's short, sweet and easy to understand. Atheistic in its philosophy, this book will put you on the path to understanding truth in paradox. A paradox is that which appears to contradict, but upon closer examination, really does not. "The Tao of Pooh" removed much of my arrogance and knocked the owl right out of me, effectively diminishing two barriers that had allowed me to shut God out of my perception.

http://www.geocities.com/buddychai2/Opticals/02Optical.html#TWOFACESf
Which do you see? A face behind a candlestick, or two faces looking at a candlestick? There is no change in information yet the information can be interpreted in two ways. Neither interpretation can logically be proven to be more correct.We all have access to the same data concerning reality, but our interpretation of that reality can be a matter of focus. It's the same with seeing the reality of God; Focus on the material (for which there is concrete and objective evidence) and the immaterial (character assessment, basis of morality, etc.), along with God, will vanish.

This is a stereogram: http://www.eyetricks.com/3dstereo20.htm Like many others, I saw the gospel as a bunch of scribbles; I thought it was just a bunch of nonsense until my focus changed. At first glance, the eye detects only patterns of scribble. You may try to make sense of the scribbles in the same way that people will look up into the sky and pick out clouds that resemble familiar objects. If you look at this picture long enough, you may imagine seeing faces or animals in it, but if you only look directly at the picture, anything you see will only have a subjective reality. In other words, what you are seeing isn't really there, but merely a construct of your imagination.

However, this picture contains an objective reality. If you aren't familiar with this type of artwork, and if you haven't experienced seeing one of these hidden three dimensional images pop into view, you may think that I am a liar or a lunatic when I tell you that this poster contains a definitive and detailed image of a galloping horse. I am telling you that something exists based on my own visual perception and, until you see it for yourself, you won't have any reason to believe me.

When I read the Bible with the mindset in which it was intended to be read, I perceived the objective reality of its god. Just like with this poster, if you only look at it superficially, you won't see the hidden picture. The visual effect of a stereogram is produced through the careful placement of points comprising one image from two slightly different perspectives. You need two eyes to see the hidden 3-D picture. If you cover one eye, you will lose the image; its picture is a function of depth. The Bible is a spiritual stereogram and its effect, the perception of the reality of God, is produced through a careful design of ambiguity and paradox, which allow you to discover truth from different perspectives. You need two aspects of the intellect to see the reality of God in its pages; you need to utilize both the logical and spiritual (or poetic) component of your thinking to see Him. If you use only one in the absence of the other, you will lose the effect. It's like covering one eye. The truth of the Bible, like the poster, is also a function of depth. I think that the reason why a lot of people aren't seeing its truth today is because we have become a nation of shallow thinkers.

The spiritual, or intellectual effect that is produced in the Bible is no less powerful than the visual effect found in the stereogram. When you 'see' it, you'll know it. The hidden picture in both the Bible and the stereogram isn't the product of a child's random scribbling. Both are a product of intentional design. The Bible was written in three different continents over a span of 1500 years and in three different languages, yet it remains consistent in its inconsistencies, ambiguities, paradoxes and ironies. It may have been penned by over forty men, but it is evident to me that it was designed and directed by one author, by one mind. His signature is all through it! To create such a book, with no higher direction to maintain these common threads and produce the effect, would be the equivalent of creating the stereogram by accident. It ain't gonna' happen. And that's why I believe this book is inspired by the God it describes.

When you find yourself being criticized for your belief in God, keep in mind the following: You know that something exists from a primary perception and you are being told by one who has not yet had the perception that it cannot be real. It's like being at Kitty Hawk and witnessing the Wright brothers' first flight only to come home and have some egghead patronizingly explain to you, in great scientific detail, that heavier than air flight is 'utterly' impossible. This really did happen. Up to a year after their initial flights, Scientific American, the U.S. Army and most American scientists still thought that the Wrights were guilty of playing a hoax on the American public. What would you do if you found yourself in this dilemma? You were there! You saw the plane take off and land! So did many others. You can either dismiss the argument of the egghead as coming from his own ignorance and lack of perception, or you can begin to doubt your own perception and question your sanity along with your ability to reason. Did you REALLY see that plane take off? Maybe you just imagined it all. Our senses can play tricks on us, but they can also inform us of reality. How do you know if your senses are being deceived?

If I ever begin to doubt that I actually saw a galloping horse in the above stereogram, all I have to do is look at it again and when it comes back into focus, I have my confirmation that it is there. This is why a Christian always keeps his good book handy. If I ever begin to doubt that my perception of God is valid, all I have to do is pick up the Bible and start reading, and, sure enough, His reality comes back into focus and I have my confirmation. I get the impression that a lot of Christians who were raised up in the church take their faith for granted. Their belief that the horse is real, isn't based on their own perception of it, because they've never managed to see it for themselves. Instead, their belief that the horse is real is based only on the testimony of others who claim to have seen it. See Him for yourself! If you haven't yet seen it first hand, it will blow you away when you finally do. It's the difference between knowing God and knowing about God.

Pararousia
21-09-05, 01:26
This is a continuation of Jones' essay:
When one starts thinking spiritually, it isn't that they are thinking unclearly or illogically. They are simply thinking from a different perspective.

Many principles, such as love, kindness, unselfishness and mercy, which are readily accepted as good by both Christians and non-Christians, can be destroyed by logic. For example, examine the following logical argument:

1. To be just, one must give to another exactly what that individual deserves to get, no more and no less.
2. To be fair, one must treat everyone equally.
3. To be merciful is to give an individual more than what they deserve to get (in reward) or less than what they deserve to get (in punishment).
4. Being merciful is therefore unjust.
5. Unless everyone can be treated with the same degree of mercy or kindness, to be merciful or kind to any one person is to be unfair.

The consequence of attempting to live by this logical, sound and valid conclusion wouldn't be desirable. The above argument would demand that we not give to one person in need if we couldn't give the same amount to every person in need. Before we gave anything to anyone, they must be worthy of it. We would find ourselves living in a world without grace, without mercy, without forgiveness and without kindness. We would find ourselves justifying revenge and holding grudges and keeping score, all in order to be fair and just. How can logic result in such a world? What is wrong with the above argument?

Because logic or surface thinking can destroy that which is good and logically justify both good and bad behavior, the spiritual mind is not only useful when it comes to discerning that which is good, but it is necessary to have in order to actually do that which is good, especially when a person finds themselves outside of the influence of societal pressures. I can give you all kinds of logical reasons not to give any of my hard-earned money away to charity. In fact, years ago, when I had an excellent salary, I managed to not donate a dime to anyone and I felt totally justified. But in loving Jesus Christ, I acquired His spirit of giving. This spirit became me; I owned it, I didn't have to act it. Spiritual thinking allows a person to be changed from the inside. Our minds and our laws might OBLIGATE us to do good, but our spirit DESIRES us to do good.

As a skeptic, I always asked Christians for proof of their souls or proof of their god; how did they KNOW, as they claimed, that their belief was sound? When I finally 'saw' what they 'saw', I tried to convey this evidence, but found that I was no more articulate in my attempts than they were in theirs.

In John 18:37, Jesus says, "Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." In Mark 4:9, He says, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." As an atheist, this seemed nothing more to me than a bit of circular logic. Nevertheless, when my ears were opened, it proved itself to be true.

To those who are blind, we can intellectually explain how color is created by varying wavelengths of light and how those wavelengths are detected by the eye, but we can't tell them what the color red looks like. To those who are deaf, we can intellectually explain how sound waves are produced and how it is that sound waves are detected, but we can't explain what a noise sounds like. It is no different with the spiritually deaf. We can try to explain but we can't make a non-believer recognize the truth that has become obvious to us. No one is able to transfer a perception to another, but we can try to remove the intellectual barriers that allow people to remain blind to that truth.

It wasn't that I was without the capability to perceive the truth; my obstinacy wouldn't allow me to see it. I was too full of myself and too blinded by what I thought were logically sound arguments to see that which was right under my nose.

Just as God can be perceived, He can also be shut out. We train our senses to tune out certain stimuli, such as the noise of traffic, or joint pain, which comes with age (I never knew how much pain I was in until a pain pill took it all away!). A large ego doesn't want to submit to any authority. A self-sufficient and self-righteous person believes they have no need of God. The immoral want to continue in their activities with a free conscience. Pride in my intellect and my anti-Christian bigotry allowed me to shut Him out for over twenty years.

It's as if the truth of God is being spoken all around us, but we can't always hear it. This world teaches us to tune Him out. His spirit is like the low pitched hum of a fluorescent light. If you busy yourself with distraction, or if you keep your own thoughts turned up so high in your head, you won't even notice the light. Picture yourself in a large crowd of people. If you are in the midst of the crowd, concentrating on your own thoughts, the conversations around you become a drone in which no particular words can be discerned. But if you focus your hearing on one voice or another, you find that you can follow a conversation. You have to be still. You have to be quiet. You have to train yourself to listen for it, and if you do all of those things, you will hear Him. You will have tuned into God.

Revenant
21-09-05, 03:16
What if merciful meant compassionate? Would that not enable fairness, justness, and mercy to all work in conjunction with each other?

Going on here, you as a Christian then found it natural to give, to be generous, and that is what I would call a good theology. Although I would say, as Gandhi did, that there are many paths to the higher realizations of true happiness, that being empathy (compassion is a part of that), gratitude, awe, wonder, and serenity. Christianity really does work very well for some people, as it does for my mother. However, myself, having tried to fit everything into objective science and the law of love, found Christianity impossible to reason, and therefore caused me a whole lot of confusion.

Buddhism brought me a lot closer to these higher understandings, and I don't see how believeing in only one God, or many, or none, makes any difference in gaining these higher realization. To me, one perspective works better than another for some people, and Christianity is just one.

I would agree that many don't actually know what you would call God. Many are brought up in a certain religion or ideology, and not having questioned or taken any of these seriously, don't realize what it really means to be a Christian, or what it really means to be a Buddhist. Both are just ways of finding happiness in empathy, gratitude, serenity, and the need to live in the moment. A lot of people having been taught these from a young age probably don't know the true meaning of these, and in that would I say it is dangerous to teach one's higher understandings, cause that seems something a child must come to on his/her own.

Christianity, and all the books of the Bible are consistent on some points, but very inconsistent on others. In the end, one must go to philosophy to carefully examine whether it is consistent. A God of Compassion who chose but one people, not extending His compassion to others? It was too hard for me to swallow, or reason out.

Onto another point. The loss of ego is what all the major religions try to instill.

Interestingly, Karen Armstrong (I like her books quite a lot if you haven't noticed), also said that during her seven years as a nun, she wasn't able to comprehend God or come any nearer to Him. It was when she studied the theology of the mystics did God make more sense to her, and that she had failed to see this because she was caught up in reason and logic.

Anyways, God remains a very difficult theology. While some would maintain that God is a personal God, and He is involved with our everyday life, others, and especially after events like the Holocaust, found that theology far far too difficult to swallow.

Maciamo
21-09-05, 06:44
When one starts thinking spiritually, it isn't that they are thinking unclearly or illogically. They are simply thinking from a different perspective.

I don't think so. The perspective as always been the same for me. The problem is that most theists cannot understand that, otherwise they would be deist, pantheist or aheist. Let me explain below.


Many principles, such as love, kindness, unselfishness and mercy, which are readily accepted as good by both Christians and non-Christians, can be destroyed by logic. For example, examine the following logical argument:

These values can be either destroyed or supported by logics. Don't underestimate the power of logics. Logics is a pathway to many abilities some consider unnatural. :evil:
Let us see one by one :


1. To be just, one must give to another exactly what that individual deserves to get, no more and no less.

This is a twisted definition of "justness". Is that what the Christian believe in ? Logics dictates that every situation should be treated on a case by case basis, taking into consideration all the factors that may have influenced a person to act the way they did. In the case of amical relationships, people should consider their own feelings toward the other person too, and the consequences their reaction/punishment may have for this relationship. This is not strictly speaking "logics" by "reason". Logics is only one of the (most powerful) servants of reason. But common sense is another.


2. To be fair, one must treat everyone equally.

Why ? Fair about what ? It is one of the biggest mistakes of Christian to believe that every human being should treat every other human being equally. It is so obviously not true and totally impossible for the human character to do that. We are not robots. We are social beings with emotions, personal preferences, memories and even chemical attractions (pheromone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pheromone), etc.). Therefore, we cannot treat all others individuals equally. This would be utterly illogical, as it would go against our personal feelings, family ties, and ultimately against our own interests and survival. Logics is based on the law of nature. Anyone that uses logics with twisted religious values will only come to nonsensical conclusions. That is why it is necessary to know nature well (through sciences, psychology, introspection, personal observations and common sense) before starting to try to think logically. If you play with a real knife thinking it's only a toy, you will end up hurting yourself (and not use the knife for its intended purpose).


3. To be merciful is to give an individual more than what they deserve to get (in reward) or less than what they deserve to get (in punishment).

This is again a Christian value. This is entirely up to one's own feelings and treated again in a case by case basis. The problem with religions is that they give general rules that may not apply to everyone or not in every situation, and are rarely clear about how to proceed. That's why I say that religion is only for people who cannot think by themselves, and need somebody to tell them how to live and behave in exemplified situations, but will usually end up messing it up by their lack of brains.


4. Being merciful is therefore unjust.

Twisted logics based on the previous twisted arguments with no grounds in the real world (i.e. Nature).


5. Unless everyone can be treated with the same degree of mercy or kindness, to be merciful or kind to any one person is to be unfair.

Thank you, it was a nice example of narrow-mindedness, poor rational skills, little knowledge of the real world and utter lack of common sense.

Is that what you believe in, Pararousia ? Do you believe in people who right or say such things from your own free will and judged by your own rational abilities ? Very disappointing. You have been misled. I know it can be difficult to throw away what one has believed all one's life, but sometime it is better to pass through an intense phase of questioning and come out looking at the world as it is, without distortions. You will feel refreshed and see things completely differently.

Kinsao
21-09-05, 11:56
Maciamo, although I am not an atheist, I thought your post above was very good. :p


That's why I say that religion is only for people who cannot think by themselves, and need somebody to tell them how to live and behave in exemplified situations, but will usually end up messing it up by their lack of brains.

I disagree with that view and might have found it offensive (if I was more easily offended... lol). There are many non-atheist people who are able to think, in a clear and logical way, by (and for) themselves. "Religion" is not a question of "following rules"; anyone who belongs to a religion and thinks that is somehow immature and misguided in their outlook.

I am not well able to explain why and how "religion" is more than "following rules". Maybe someone with a religion who is more intelligent and articulate than me would be able to step in here and expand on this...? :clueless: :sorry:

"Religion" (in the sense of a formalised structure rather than a personal belief in a deity/deities) also helps a person to have an informed conscience in respect of moral and ethical issues. Of course, atheists do not necessarily have a purely "selfish" viewpoint on such issues, for example may be humanists or such. (But technically speaking there is no reason why there should be any universal "ethical" standards of behaviour or acceptable attitudes if there is no deity/prime force.)

Tsuyoiko
21-09-05, 12:05
1. To be just, one must give to another exactly what that individual deserves to get, no more and no less.
2. To be fair, one must treat everyone equally.
3. To be merciful is to give an individual more than what they deserve to get (in reward) or less than what they deserve to get (in punishment).
4. Being merciful is therefore unjust.
5. Unless everyone can be treated with the same degree of mercy or kindness, to be merciful or kind to any one person is to be unfair.

1. To be just is to do whatever is best for everyone involved, i.e. greatest good for the greatest number
2. To be fair is to be just
3. To be merciful is to be compassionate (thanks Revenant) regardless of our arrogant opinion about what a person 'deserves'.
4. Being merciful can be just or unjust, depending on the situation
5. To be merciful (compassionate) may sometimes be preferable to being just.

Mikawa Ossan
21-09-05, 12:46
I enjoyed Pararousia's post very much. I come to different conclusions, however. I think that just because there are things, like the pictures she mentions, which can be two things simultaneously, and that you can know something that others are blind to, etc., that in and of itself does not necessarily mean that there is a god or gods. I think it opens the possibility, but more specifically, I think that it teaches us no more than we have to be humble with the knowledge we have or think we have and keep an open mind towards many possibilities.
Pararousia's god may very well exist. I will not say 100% that it doesn't, because no matter how much I know, it will still pale in comparison with what I don't know. I am willing to admit that there are things that even if I was taught, I would still never understand. So I can deny this god outright.
But on the same grounds, I can not rule out any other god or gods, either. If I take the possibility that the Bible is indeed true, I must take the possibility that say Shinto tales and beliefs are true in turn, because I do not and never will know for certain which is really true. Just because there are ancient writings saying A and B doesn't necessarily mean that A and B are true. What I am saying here is, in my estimation, very heretical, because I can use it to argue that we shouldn't try to learn and discover the truth. I do not wish to make this argument, however.
You see, I think that we should try to search for truth and knowledge, and at the same time keep in mind that we never actually will attain this goal. I do not find this to mean that there is then no reason to try, because what is, simply is. And though I can not explain it, knowing that is enough for me.
Many people will disagree with me. I say, let them disagree. No one is 100% right, and no one is 100% wrong. Who's to say what the actual truth is? I do not think that a single person on this planet is qualified, and I don't mind a bit.

Maciamo
21-09-05, 14:42
I disagree with that view and might have found it offensive (if I was more easily offended... lol). There are many non-atheist people who are able to think, in a clear and logical way, by (and for) themselves. "Religion" is not a question of "following rules"; anyone who belongs to a religion and thinks that is somehow immature and misguided in their outlook.

But what do you call religions if it's not about following the rules. Don't forget that you can believe in god(s) and not have a religion (e.g. the Deist and some Panteists or Animists).



"Religion" (in the sense of a formalised structure rather than a personal belief in a deity/deities) also helps a person to have an informed conscience in respect of moral and ethical issues.

A personal belief is never considered as religion. It is just a (religious or spiritual) belief. Nowadays many people who consider themselves religious and believe in god do not belong to any religion, i.e. formally established organisation with places of worship (churchs, temples...) and a set of common rules and beliefs between its members.

As for moral and ethical issues, they are not only taught by religions, but also by philosophy (ethics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics) is a branch of philosophy). Some philosophers are religious, others are not but believe in god, and others are atheists or agnostics. I sincerely believe that philosophy does a much better job in teaching morals, because it uses reason to analyse the various types of morals of each religion, measures the pros and cons, and this way gives the individual the chance to determine by themselves what values are the most important for them. Thus, people who aquire moral values through philosophy tend to be more consistent in their behaviour as they understand thoroughly the how and why morals function, and how and why they should react this or that way in a given situation.


Of course, atheists do not necessarily have a purely "selfish" viewpoint on such issues, for example may be humanists or such. (But technically speaking there is no reason why there should be any universal "ethical" standards of behaviour or acceptable attitudes if there is no deity/prime force.)

Humanism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism) is more closely linked to "strong atheism" or deism than theism, because it is a philosopical and reasoned approach of life based on relativism and universalism, both of which conflict with most monotheist values.

In other words, only religion-less people can be truly moral and humanist, since people following the rules of a particular religion do not have the freedom to doubt their religion's teachings, or deviate from maladapted morals, without becoming heretics (therefore losing their religion for the profit of their personal beliefs).

Many people think that they belong to a religion but in fact disagree on many points with it, and consequently are not true followers of this religion, but people who have based their personal beliefs on parts of that religion. For example, the Hippies are heavily inspired by the New Testament but cannot be considered Christian (even if they believe in god), as they typically reject the values of the Old Testament. They would be Christian-inspired deists, but not Christians.

In my opinion, most people nowadays do not care enough about the definition of "religion" and may think they are Christian of one type (Catholics, Baptists, Lutheran...) but in fact be much closer in belief to Christian of another type, or deists or agnostics (if they have any doubt in this existence of god).

Just remember that it is a mistake to talk of "on measure religion" if there is only one member of that 'religion'. It is an "on measure belief".

All this to explain that "religion is only for people who cannot think by themselves, and need somebody to tell them how to live and behave in exemplified situations". Others can create their own belief system, with or without god, with or without elements taken from established and recognised religions.

Revenant
21-09-05, 17:16
Some people won't think carefully, whether they are monotheists, animists, or atheists. The Christian who feels it is their job to ensure Christian morals are upheld, to the atheist who hatefully denounces Christians for being hateful. Neither think carefully in my opinion.

Religion wouldn't be around were it not fulfilling some quota for happiness. It is after all happiness that we are all after, and if religion brings someone happiness, then I would say it is a good thing for the most part. Not everyone has the mental faculties or the desire to get into philosophy, and while a few of the religious morals can no longer be considered to have validity (such as the laws against homosexuality), I do think that most of the morals are very good.

So if religions bring happiness, and happiness is needed to better engage kindness, then religion can't really be said to be for the weak, as the weak are usually those who are less than happy.

Mycernius
21-09-05, 17:26
If you are an atheist who is interested in seeing if he can tune into God, I recommend that you first read "The Tao of Pooh" by Benjamin Hoff. It's short, sweet and easy to understand. Atheistic in its philosophy, this book will put you on the path to understanding truth in paradox. A paradox is that which appears to contradict, but upon closer examination, really does not. "The Tao of Pooh" removed much of my arrogance and knocked the owl right out of me, effectively diminishing two barriers that had allowed me to shut God out of my perception.

I've read this book, plus the follow up "The Ti of Piglet". They do give a nice taoist view on the world and are well worth reading , whether you are a believer or not. Didn't change my mind on the non-existance of God, but they help make you look on the world in a different light

Kinsao
21-09-05, 17:31
All this to explain that "religion is only for people who cannot think by themselves, and need somebody to tell them how to live and behave in exemplified situations". Others can create their own belief system, with or without god, with or without elements taken from established and recognised religions.

Lol Mycernius... I disagree with what you say... but I will defend to the death your right to say it! :D

Of course, you are right that "belief" or "spirituality" and whatnot on a personal level are a different thing from "religion" (or more specifically, what you might call "organised religion"). :relief:

kumo
21-09-05, 18:03
I'll make my first post here :wave:


Religion wouldn't be around were it not fulfilling some quota for happiness. It is after all happiness that we are all after, and if religion brings someone happiness, then I would say it is a good thing for the most part.


While I think religion can make some people happy, you have to remember that most religious people didn't exactly choose to believe, they were rather indocrineted by their family and/or society since their childhood (before the age of reason). So, they can't say they are happier being christian or whatever if they were one their whole life. How can someone be sure something is better if they never "tasted" the other side?


So if religions bring happiness, and happiness is needed to better engage kindness, then religion can't really be said to be for the weak, as the weak are usually those who are less than happy.

I'm I the only one who see a contradiction here? If the weak are unhappy (wich I don't agree) and religion bring happiness (which I again don't agree), how can you say religion is not for the weak?

Sorry for the crapy English :relief:

Maciamo
21-09-05, 18:50
Welcome to the forum kumo ! :wave:



While I think religion can make some people happy, you have to remember that most religious people didn't exactly choose to believe, they were rather indocrineted by their family and/or society since their childhood (before the age of reason). So, they can't say they are happier being christian or whatever if they were one their whole life. How can someone be sure something is better if they never "tasted" the other side?


That is exactly what I was thinking. There are few if any "strong atheists" who have never 'tasted' to religion (esp. Christianity), but hardly any theists who understand philosophy, reason or logics as well as atheists.

Revenant
21-09-05, 19:38
I'll make my first post here :wave:Welcome! How dare you contradict me on your first post! ;-)




While I think religion can make some people happy, you have to remember that most religious people didn't exactly choose to believe, they were rather indocrineted by their family and/or society since their childhood (before the age of reason). So, they can't say they are happier being christian or whatever if they were one their whole life. How can someone be sure something is better if they never "tasted" the other side?If they were indoctrinated, I think those that don't question their indoctrination have no reason to. They are satsified with the indoctrination they recieved. As one Christian put it, 'I will go with the 80% that I do understand'. If they aren't satisfied, they will go the route of Maciamo and I. They will question until they find answers they are more satisfied with.




I'm I the only one who see a contradiction here? If the weak are unhappy (wich I don't agree) and religion bring happiness (which I again don't agree), how can you say religion is not for the weak?It is in my experience, that those who lack desire, awe, wonder, and true empathy are unhappy. They are more likely to take on pessimistic views, feeling themselves victims, and this I see as not being emotionally strong. Those who are strong are emotionally strong, as emotions are the driving force behind every action. Emotion is what makes a person strong (meaning the emotions one experiences regularly).

And I would agree with Maciamo that there are few monotheists that get into philosophy, although I do know two very philosphical Christians, one who inhabits the religion subforum in the Philosophy forum, and another on Nobody Hates forum. But not everyone can understand philosophy, or are actually interested in it's finer arguments.

Pararousia
21-09-05, 20:06
Maciamo:
Is that what you believe in, Pararousia ? Do you believe in people who right or say such things from your own free will and judged by your own rational abilities ? Very disappointing. You have been misled. I know it can be difficult to throw away what one has believed all one's life, but sometime it is better to pass through an intense phase of questioning and come out looking at the world as it is, without distortions. You will feel refreshed and see things completely differently.

"At one time, we (I) too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us (me), not because of righteous things we (I) had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out in us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying."

kumo
21-09-05, 20:42
If they were indoctrinated, I think those that don't question their indoctrination have no reason to. They are satsified with the indoctrination they recieved. As one Christian put it, 'I will go with the 80% that I do understand'.

People can be happy with pretty much anything, but just believing something because it makes you happy is not very intellectually honest. This is just falling to the "ignorance is bliss" argument. Besides, someone who doesn't want to think about their own believes shouldn't be so eager to preach it on everyone (yes, even on their children), yet most Christians do it all the time :okashii:


It is in my experience, that those who lack desire, awe, wonder, and true empathy are unhappy. They are more likely to take on pessimistic views, feeling themselves victims, and this I see as not being emotionally strong.

I agree, but I think this description fits much better religious people than non-religious ones (well, maybe not buddhists). I think desire for real knowledge is much more fulfilling than trying to destroy your own logic in order to accept the religion's "truth".


Those who are strong are emotionally strong, as emotions are the driving force behind every action. Emotion is what makes a person strong (meaning the emotions one experiences regularly).

Agreed again, though I can't see how this have any relation to religion.

Revenant
21-09-05, 21:07
People can be happy with pretty much anything, but just believing something because it makes you happy is not very intellectually honest. This is just falling to the "ignorance is bliss" argument. Besides, someone who doesn't want to think about their own believes shouldn't be so eager to preach it on everyone (yes, even on their children), yet most Christians do it all the time :okashii: It may not be intellectual honest, but people like my mother, can be very compassionate, while overlooking that which they can't explain. In the end, a theology which allows someone to be compassionate, in itself a fulfilment of personal happiness, is to me at least what is most important in life. Having compassion means a much happier existence than just having intellectual abilities.

I agree, but I think this description fits much better religious people than non-religious ones (well, maybe not buddhists). I think desire for real knowledge is much more fulfilling than trying to destroy your own logic in order to accept the religion's "truth".A lot of those who remain religious have a certain amount of awe. They are in awe of nature, or what they would call creation. Some of the laws and theologies are indeed hard to reason, I'll completely agree. But awe at 'creation', and compassion, are indeed forms of happiness. A lot of religious people do have these. For example, a Christian will see the truth in 'love your neighbor as yourself' (I know it's not particular to the Christian faith) and they will do what they can to fulfil this.
Agreed again, though I can't see how this have any relation to religion.Awe, empathy (compassion being a part of empathy) and connection (within an organized religion) all make people happier. They also find happiness within a set of beliefs that they hold strongly.

kumo
21-09-05, 22:13
It may not be intellectual honest, but people like my mother, can be very compassionate, while overlooking that which they can't explain. In the end, a theology which allows someone to be compassionate, in itself a fulfilment of personal happiness, is to me at least what is most important in life. Having compassion means a much happier existence than just having intellectual abilities.

What I'm trying to say is that being compassionate is totally possible, if not easier, when you are not religious. I think human beings are naturally caring about others in order to live in society, we don't need someone to teach us that. In other words, all the possible benefits religion can bring to us are already inherent human traits. Which do you think is more moral: being good because you just want to or being good fearing punishment and expecting a reward?


A lot of those who remain religious have a certain amount of awe. They are in awe of nature, or what they would call creation. Some of the laws and theologies are indeed hard to reason, I'll completely agree. But awe at 'creation', and compassion, are indeed forms of happiness. A lot of religious people do have these. For example, a Christian will see the truth in 'love your neighbor as yourself' (I know it's not particular to the Christian faith) and they will do what they can to fulfil this.

Being a atheist doesn't make you emotionless. Reality is equally impressive whether it was created by a god or not.

Trying to expand on my point earlier:
It's not a problem of whether the person is happy or not being a Christian, simply because a person's religion is not the only source of happiness. If someone is born blind and is a happy person, that doesn't mean that being blind is a good thing or that said person wouldn't be happier without such problem. Indoctrination works in such a way that it's not much different than a "born trait"(or however you say it). It is very possible that a person's religion is actually hindering their happiness, even if they are already "happy enough", but they wouldn't realize it anyway because they never "tasted" the other side.
I'm not saying all Christians would be better off without their faith, but those who would are not rare at all.

ps: how do I include the poster nickname into the quotes?

Revenant
22-09-05, 02:30
What I'm trying to say is that being compassionate is totally possible, if not easier, when you are not religious. I think human beings are naturally caring about others in order to live in society, we don't need someone to teach us that. In other words, all the possible benefits religion can bring to us are already inherent human traits. Which do you think is more moral: being good because you just want to or being good fearing punishment and expecting a reward?I agree that humans are naturally caring, to an extent. The various religions do however demand more than what would come naturally, such as the Christian and Buddhist teachings of love for even the enemy. That isn't something that most people would do naturally, and does require a 'higher' understanding. That isn't to say that religion is the only way to these 'higher' understandings. I'm just saying that I don't quite agree that compassion to everyone is an inherent trait.

And I would say that being moral cause one wants to be is more moral, and that certainly, some religious people (although not only including) get caught up in the hope for future happiness, while forgetting that happiness can only be experienced in the present. A higher setpoint of happiness is required to better engage empathy (I said that already, didn't I?). A religious person may hope for a perfect heaven, or nirvana, cause they don't like the present moment. But then a non-religious person can do the same in their hope for more happiness set in the conditions of a new car, a new house, etc.

A few religious people do have it harsh, having been inculcated with a fear of making a mistake, and being thrown into the fires of eternal torment for belonging to the wrong denomination.

However, I think a lot of religious people do not think a whole lot about the future of heaven or hell. They go through life like all other people, thinking of the near future.

Being a atheist doesn't make you emotionless. Reality is equally impressive whether it was created by a god or not.That is a perspective that works very well for some people, and to me it seems simpler than trying to reason out the thologies of the monotheistic faiths.

Religions may have begun when people felt the awe and wonder of nature, as well as stumbling across certain kinds of meditations, therefore wanting to put a name or names to these feelings they got. While for others, it is very comforting to feel there is a larger than life being watching over them.

I think it really depends on what perspective works for each person.


Trying to expand on my point earlier:
It's not a problem of whether the person is happy or not being a Christian, simply because a person's religion is not the only source of happiness. If someone is born blind and is a happy person, that doesn't mean that being blind is a good thing or that said person wouldn't be happier without such problem. Indoctrination works in such a way that it's not much different than a "born trait"(or however you say it). It is very possible that a person's religion is actually hindering their happiness, even if they are already "happy enough", but they wouldn't realize it anyway because they never "tasted" the other side.
I'm not saying all Christians would be better off without their faith, but those who would are not rare at all.Religion isn't the only source of happiness, agreed. But for some people, it is the a very good route, and perhaps even the best route to happiness. As I put forth earlier, different perspectives work well for different people.

ps: how do I include the poster nickname into the quotes?The first part goes as follows-----> [quote=kumo], the last part remains the same as it is in your previous quotes.

Maciamo
22-09-05, 04:02
If they were indoctrinated, I think those that don't question their indoctrination have no reason to. They are satsified with the indoctrination they recieved. As one Christian put it, 'I will go with the 80% that I do understand'. If they aren't satisfied, they will go the route of Maciamo and I. They will question until they find answers they are more satisfied with.

In some societies it is just impossile for ordinary people (given their education and knowledge of the world) to question religion. I am thinking especially about Muslim countries. When all the people around you are Muslim or Christian and that you have always been told that anything else is bad or that you should beware of the lies of the unbelievers, where would the original doubt come from. This is even truer in conventionalist and collectivist societies (like Mulsim ones), where individuality is not valued much and people need to believe in the same religion as the group to feel integrated into society. Even if a very independent-minded and very insightful, educated and inquisitive person came out of the lot and realised the errors of religion, it would be best for them to shut up if they don't want to be rejected (or lynched) by the rest of the group.

In fact, this has always been true until the elite itself starts questioning religion and encourage ordinary people to do so. It only started in the 18th century in Europe, but went back again in the 19th, and "religious liberation" came only in the 1960's and 70's. The minority of intellectuals who questioned religion were always persecuted by religious authorities in the Middles Ages, and even as far as the 17th century (e.g. Gallileo, whose aim was not even to fight religion but just to point out a few factual mistakes in the Bible).

The first serious questioning of Christianity by intellectuals came with the translations of Aristotle's works by Averroes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averroes) (an Andalucian-Arab philosopher). The translations quickly made their way to the Sorbonne University in Paris, and although the Church swiftly denouced them, it eventually led to the loss of faith of the Renaissance and the development of Humanism. People were going back to their Greco-Roman heritage because it was were the truth was. Note that every period of (European) history that saw a weakening of religion for the profit of philosophy was considered as a "golden age" (Classical Greece and Rome, Renaissance, Enlightenment, 1960's and early 70's...), while those when religion became stronger was seen as a "dark age" (late Roman Empire, most of the Middles Ages, Inquisition, today's Bush Administration, etc.).

In conclusion, ordinary people living in completely monotheist societies cannot easily escape religion without facing presecution or rejection from the group. Why because monotheist religions are fundamentally intolerant and most of their followers cannot accept atheism (although another monotheism might be a bit more acceptable to them).

Therefore, a society that is too religious is not free anymore (even tried to shout that you were an atheist in Mississipi or Alabama and see what happens ?). The first governments to declare complete freedom of religion were headed by atheists : the USA of 1776 with Jefferson as leading athesit, the France of 1789 led by atheist and deist revolutionaries, India in 1947 with the atheist Nehru (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jawalharlal_Nehru) as the Prime Minister, or modern EU governments. Note the false freedom of religion in today's USA, when the national motto is "God bless America" or "In God We trust" (both mid-20th century additions) simply decalring that atheists are not welcome, and indeed president Bush Sr. has declared that "atheists should not even be considered as citizens". This is where society goes when strongly religious people lead the government.

All this to say that I disagree that people who don't question their indoctrination have no reason to taste to atheism. If society allows it, they should at least try to understand atheist arguments and see things diffrently. The problem is that most of the "true" Christians and Muslims live in totally closed societies (for Christians, I am thinking to the so-called "Jesus land" States). Where is poverty and misery higher ? In the US Deep South or atheist parts of the US and Europe (it's difficult to determine atheist areas of the US, as they are always mixed with poorer religious Hispanic or Black minorities) ? In Muslim countries or in Europe and Japan ?

Maciamo
22-09-05, 04:07
Maciamo:

"At one time, we (I) too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us (me), not because of righteous things we (I) had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out in us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying."

You are so misled and prejudiced ! I only believe what I see because I know your reason has been spoiled by religion. How can you believe that atheists are "deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures" or "live in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another" ? This is one of the most outrageous accusation I have seen on this forum, and forcedly can only come from the twisted and hypocritical mind of a true Christian.

I see from your IP address that you ar from North Carolina. Not surprising that you should live in the Bible belt.

EDIT : Now that I think about it, I am not surprised that you "lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another". This is typical of people whose mind is dominated by emotions rather than reason. It is thus easier to understand that philosophy is a much harder path for you than religion. Just try not to assume that "vice" is associated with atheism. If it is, it will almost always be associated with "weak atheism" (=no belief at all), i.e. people who are too lazy/disinterested to think about their own metaphysical beliefs. Strong atheism is a spiritual belief of its own right, and typically requires deep introspection (meditation) combined to strong rational skills and a lot of historical, scientific and philosophical knowledge.

Maciamo
22-09-05, 04:14
People can be happy with pretty much anything, but just believing something because it makes you happy is not very intellectually honest. This is just falling to the "ignorance is bliss" argument. Besides, someone who doesn't want to think about their own believes shouldn't be so eager to preach it on everyone (yes, even on their children), yet most Christians do it all the time :okashii:
...
I think desire for real knowledge is much more fulfilling than trying to destroy your own logic in order to accept the religion's "truth".

I completely agree again. "Ignorance is bliss" should in fact become the motto of Christianity and Islam.

Tsuyoiko
22-09-05, 11:28
A personal belief is never considered as religion.
Two dictionaries I have looked at disagree with you. From dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=religion)
Religion
1. a) Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b) A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion

Only the second definition does not fit with 'religion as personal belief'. I think what you are saying applies to the term 'organised religion'.

I do have to disagree with Kinsao and Revenant that religion helps people to be moral. I don't think it makes a jot of difference. I think it is consideration of others' feelings that helps us to be moral, and this is equally possible for a religious person or an atheist. I know plenty of religious people, whose beliefs give them this arrogance that makes then condemn people for the slightest (what they see as) transgression. This is a highly immoral attitude, IMHO. Pararousia is an excellent example, as Maciamo has pointed out. I think intolerance is one of the most immoral faults someone can have, and she seems to have it in buckets. Of course I also know people whose beliefs inspire compassion, who really do try to live as Jesus taught, like Sabro here or my friend Grace in the 'real world'. And I know good and bad people who are agnostics or atheists.

As for religion making people happy. Well, I'm with Epicurus - I think a happy life needs to be an examined life. So if a religious person has thought about about it, and concluded that their religion suits them, fine. But I cannot reconcile with those who refuse to question. This makes me think of an episode of King of the Hill, when they went to Japan. The family spent the whole week in a tiny room, only to find out when they opened the 'cupboard' that they had spent the week in the hallway, and a penthouse suite lay beyond. If you know about the penthouse and choose the hallway, fine - the ascetic life has its merits. But if you never knew about the penthouse, what a waste!

Maciamo
22-09-05, 12:03
Two dictionaries I have looked at disagree with you. From dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=religion)
Religion
1. a) Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b) A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion


These are the common people definition, not academic or philosophic ones. What we need is a serious encyclopedia, not a dictionary.

Anyway, 1.a) does not specify but implies that it is institutionalised. This definition only includes monotheism or polytheism that have a creator. By this defintion, Buddhism, Shintoism or several ancient polytheism aren't religions.
1.b) IMO is just a "common usage" or "slang".
2. What's that definition ? Never heard the word used in that sense.
3. That is also what I mean. The spiritual leader can be Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha or whatever. However, this definition is clearly inacurrate as it forget that many religions do not have one spiritual leader but many (e.g. the prophets in Judaism, and even Christianity), and some do not have universally recognised leaders at all (e.g. Hinduism, Shintoism, Greco-Roman polytheism...).
4. This is the metaphoric meaning such as in "His job is his religion" or "Baseball is like a religion for him".

We see immediately that according to dictionary.com, Greco-Roman, Norse or Egyptian polytheism, Buddhism and Shintoism are not religions, as they do not match any of the 4 definitions. Same for many of the "new religions".

The purpose of dictionaries is not to be accuarte but give a quick idea of what a word mean. Even the well-respected Oxord Dictionary cannot cope with specialist knowledge, although it is slightly better than dictionary.com. Their definition (http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/religion?view=uk) is :


1 the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. 2 a particular system of faith and worship. 3 a pursuit or interest followed with devotion.

This time, no question of a spiritual leader, no creator of the universe, no "life or condition of a person in a religious order", and no mention of "personal belief", but a "system of faith or worship". No 3 is the metaphor.

Moral of the story, don't trust amateur definitions of dictionaries. These are not proper and well-thought definitions. That is mainly why dictionary.com needs 4 definitions to define 1 thing (+ a metaphorical usage), and why definitions vary (sometimes a lot) from one dictionary to another.

Kinsao
22-09-05, 12:08
I do have to disagree with Kinsao and Revenant that religion helps people to be moral.

Did I say that? :?
Anyway, there is no way I'm saying that people without a belief in a god cannot be 'moral' in their ideals and behaviours! :relief:

I agree with your last para, Tsuyoiko. Of course, people should have the freedom of choice. If they are 'indoctrinated' into a religion and simply follow the rules out of fear and/or ignorance, that's obviously not a good thing. However, IMHO it's possible for 'thinking' people to still choose one or other religion (either personal belief or 'organised' religion) out of their own free will and remain open-minded, questioning and tolerant in an intelligent and informed way. :wave:

Tsuyoiko
22-09-05, 12:13
These are the common people definition, not academic or philosophic ones. What we need is a serious encyclopedia, not a dictionary.

But aren't we in this discussion as 'common people', rather than academics or philosophers? IMO common definitions suffice for our purpose.

Did I say that?
Maybe not - sorry if I overstated your meaning :sorry:

Kinsao
22-09-05, 12:26
Maybe not - sorry if I overstated your meaning :sorry:

No prob... I wasn't being sarcastic, I honestly can't remember! :blush:

Maciamo
22-09-05, 13:07
But aren't we in this discussion as 'common people', rather than academics or philosophers? IMO common definitions suffice for our purpose.

Isn't you who studied philosophy at university ?

Anyway, you tried to disprove my argument that religion couldn't be just a personal belief by showing me some very approximate definitions. I gave you another "common people" definition from a more reliable source (Oxford) that did not disprove my argument at all. What are you trying to achieve ? It is not with approximation that we are going to make advances in the discussion.

What first point was that many people nowadays call themselves "Christian" when in fact they are just compiling a set of personal beliefs and rejecting some fundamental concepts of Christianity.

My second point was that "religions" (as opposed to simply "belief in god", "spiritual belief", "set of morals rules", etc.) usually aim at controlling people by telling them what to think or what to believe in. But of course if we are talking of "personal beliefs" not shared by anybody else (or at least not intentionally or knowingly), then it is clear that I have nothing against it - except possibly having a different opinion or disagree on the reasoning. There is nobody to control, so I am happy as it does not harm society as a whole.

Mikawa Ossan
22-09-05, 13:35
You are so misled and prejudiced !...This is one of the most outrageous accusation I have seen on this forum, and forcedly can only come from the twisted and hypocritical mind of a true Christian.

I see from your IP address that you ar from North Carolina. Not surprising that you should live in the Bible belt.

What are you implying? Are you not somewhat prejudiced against Christians or people living in the Bible belt yourself, Maciamo?
I'm certain that Perousia feels very similar to how you do when she reads some your posts, too. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall her ever posting the same kind of comments that you just did. I like you Maciamo, but I really think you should feel ashamed of yourself for this post.

Tsuyoiko
22-09-05, 13:42
Isn't you who studied philosophy at university ?
Well remembered, but in the interests of democracy I am joining this discussion as a 'common person'


Anyway, you tried to disprove my argument that religion couldn't be just a personal belief by showing me some very approximate definitions.
You misunderstood. I was simply offering a different point of view. Note that I said "two dictionaries disagree with you" and "IMHO" - i.e. opinions. If I was claiming to disprove I would have said "you are wrong because..." Remember, I am INTP, I stand by my opinion that you are a J :p

What are you trying to achieve ? It is not with approximation that we are going to make advances in the discussion.
Neither will we make advances by turning this into an argument of semantics. I admit I fanned those flames, but let's get back to the real topic.

Void
22-09-05, 13:51
@ Pararousia
Logic is just an instrument and as Maciamo pointed it can be used both ways to prove or disprove whatever you want, especially, if one is not restricted in choice of antecedents. And even with my little knowledge of laws of logic i feel nothing but sorry for this Jones you`ve quoted. This is merely manipulation of facts, words and definitions as we say pulled up by the ears.

As for 3-D and other pictures it as well can be said by atheists to any Christian: look from another side, yours are not the only one perspective.

You know, i still refuse to believe that this bulky aluminum cigar is capable of flying :D But continue to buy tickets and go from one place to another. But apart from silly joking, when i was reading this example one thought crossed my mind: do you remember the very first movie "Arrival of the train" (it`s not the exact name, but i don`t remember) and how people who saw it reacted? Today no one runs away from the cinema theatre. Why?

btw, what is spiritual thinking? How it differs from awe, or just thinking?
And if reading Bible i notice inconsistencies i should close my eyes just because it is inspired by God (says who?) It seems Bible stays consistent because hundreds of people want it to be. Fine with me, but why should i accept it as the only and the absolute truth? Why should i be judged by my attitude toward this book? It always seemed to me that OT and NT not really comply with each other, and more likely the idea of Trinity is brought up by people to convince themselves that those two books speak about the same god

@ Revenant


Religion wouldn't be around were it not fulfilling some quota for happiness.
It is after all happiness that we are all after, and if religion brings
someone happiness, then I would say it is a good thing for the most part.

i think the very first idea of religion was not about happiness, but more
likely about sence of security and reassuarance. The god (gods) is to help, to
support, to protect. A bit later it is used to tie people, as a tool to impose
obedience. Perhaps, at early ages it was justified, but very questionable in
modern times.
Perhaps people feel themselves safe and undisturbed but is it happiness and not just... mmmmm.... comfortness?

I remember that strange feeling at Fatima. I can`t find the proper equvivalent
for russian word, so will make one up (gomen) It is just prayerfulness of the place or prayerfillness :D Very similar i`ve noticed in US. My host family was quite religious and every sunday i had to visit church with them. I could see all those people inspired by united prayer. There is nothing bad about such happiness for except one thing: the idea of God - that is what got them united. This is not that i feel compassion and empathy toward people in... let`s say Zimbabwe... just because we are all in this beauty together and share common human needs, joys and problems. This is not that i care about nature just because every part of it is a part of life and environment i live in. This is not that i am happy with my intellectual discoveries.
Many people getting behind church`s doors can`t keep that inspiration. Because their joy needs this intermediary called god. They find strength in him. And what good about such happiness if in fact religion which claims to unite people does this only to its followers, intentionally separating them from the rest of the world, rising subtle arrogance and sense of perfectness?

====
jeez, people you are so exuberant i am having tough times followin you :D

Revenant
22-09-05, 13:53
I wasn't putting forth that only religions can help people be moral. I did say that although religions do attempt to teach a higher spirituality, but that they weren't the only ways that one could come to these higher spiritualities. A higher spirituality as being true compassion for everyone, serenity, gratitude, loss of ego, etc, etc. In short, what I was trying to say is, whatever philosophy/ideology/theology works and makes one happy and compassionate is a good philosophy/ideology/theology. Atheism works well for some, while monotheism works well for others.

The people who truely do try and find the truth in the Bible, or the Quran, or any other major religion's scriptures, will naturally home in on the verses that are of importance, and skip that which is of little relevence to being a better person (how many times has even a fundamentalist read the record of kings of Judah?). After all, prophecies are of little use to one who cannot know which of the many interpretations is correct, and regardless of which interpretation is correct, it makes little difference in how one should conduct oneself.

In the time that I was a Christian, I looked carefully at the verses that spelled out what it was to love, what traits a Christian was to take on, and what traits a Christian was to rid himself of. I looked carefully at the definitions of these traits, drawing lines of connection between the traits. When I was introduced to Buddhism, Buddhism spelled out much more clearly that which the Bible only made mention of, and Buddhism's logical explanations were the same explanations that I came to from carefully looking at these verses.

What am I trying to say? I'm trying to say that monotheism does have a certain amount of truth to them, or rather that all the religions do. I dislike this 'ignorance is bliss' argument being put forth, cause I do know some very well thought out monotheists that are compassionate, they know that religious laws such as the one going against homosexuality is a personal choice, and they would never try and legislate their chosen morality. They are able to reconcile most of their faith with science and philosophy. That which they do not understand they can successfully ignore, or put on a backburner. I see that as a very good thing.

Christianity, as demonized as it has become these day, still does inspire many people to be better people, and to do compassionate things. My aunt and uncle, spent four years in Africa helping out at the hospitals, in large part, cause as my aunt said 'As Christians, we are called to compassion'.

Would they be better off becoming atheists, and sticking with philosophy only? I don't know that that would do them a lot of good, they are already among the best people I know.

Kinsao
22-09-05, 14:10
I would like to throw in a thought (excuse me for irrelevance; I don't have the brain to keep up with all arguments :sorry: ): if people act in 'moral' way, it is good (regardless of their beliefs/non-beliefs). But if people are only 'moral' when they want to be, well, that's good up to a point yes, but I would have thought that to be truly 'moral' also means acting in 'moral' way even when it doesn't suit you at all, and it's the last thing you want to do. 'Moral' behaviour goes beyond just how people want to behave, and makes people modify their behaviour to some outside 'law' (for want of a better word) even when it doesn't agree with their personal feelings/inclinations. And this whether or not they believe in a god(s) (as was pointed out, atheist can equally well be 'moral' person).

Tsuyoiko
22-09-05, 14:25
That made me think of something Kinsao. Why does someone act in a moral way? Is it for the hope of some reward? For a Christian who lives as Jesus taught (or repents if they don't live well enough), they have that promise of eternal life. Couldn't it be argued that this reward they hope for makes their moral acts of less value than an atheist who acts morally with no expectation of reward? Isn't Jesus' promise of this reward at odds with his admonition that "your right hand shouldn't know what your left is doing"? Let me be clear I say this for arguments sake only - I'm not stating a belief.

lexico
22-09-05, 14:39
an atheist who acts morally with no expectation of reward ?I believe that your idea actually started with Jesus saying that. While the saducees believed in earthly retribution and the pharisee in retribution in after life, the idea of doing natural, good deeds for their own sake is not to be found in the classical world before Jesus. Many of his parables and sayings resemble what teachers of wisdom offered s.a. Socrates. Had Paul and/or the apologists not gone to extremities to build strong arguments to defend Christian ideas, Christianity might not have acquired such strong dogmatic tendencies. Is it possible to imagine a school of philosophy based on Jesus sayings, parables, and ideas about the universe ?

Kinsao
22-09-05, 14:39
Well, I think if someone does something that they believe to be 'right', only because they think they will get a reward, there is no moral value in them doing that thing.

Tsuyoiko
22-09-05, 15:02
Is it possible to imagine a school of philosophy based on Jesus sayings, parables, and ideas about the universe ?
I think it's very possible, and they probably exist. I googled it, but all I got was stuff about the early Christians, who were called 'atheist Christians' by the Romans because they didn't believe in the Roman gods.
I believe in prophets, and think of Jesus as one prophet among many. His teachings make sense to me, it's the dogma that doesn't.

Maciamo
22-09-05, 15:02
Religion wouldn't be around were it not fulfilling some quota for happiness.
It is after all happiness that we are all after, and if religion brings
someone happiness, then I would say it is a good thing for the most part.

I forgot to say something here. If the purpose of religion is to bring happiness to people, how do you explain that the majority of the Japanese and Europeans have abandonned their religion, yet have never been happier in average compared to past centuries. Many Japanese have gone even further than the European average by no even caring tiny bit (they do not feel the urge of metaphorical questions about the existence of an almighty god, as neither Buddhism nor Shintoism have it, unlike Christianity from which European atheism derives).

I agree that some religions may give hope to the poor, the educated and the oppressed, but once people become free, afluent, educated and on the whole happier, what does religion add that non-religious spirituality and morals wouldn't ?

Revenant
22-09-05, 15:14
I forgot to say something here. If the purpose of religion is to bring happiness to people, how do you explain that the majority of the Japanese and Europeans have abandonned their religion, yet have never been happier in average compared to past centuries. Many Japanese have gone even further than the European average by no even caring tiny bit (they do not feel the urge of metaphorical questions about the existence of an almighty god, as neither Buddhism nor Shintoism have it, unlike Christianity from which European atheism derives).

I agree that some religions may give hope to the poor, the educated and the oppressed, but once people become free, afluent, educated and on the whole happier, what does religion add that non-religious spirituality and morals wouldn't ?I think the Japanese do very well without religion, and they are for the most part a good people. Although, I think in some ways, they do need, as many of the western nations do, a way to truth. We in the west often don't know our own emotions, or are caught up in materialism, or other stuff. I'm not recommending religion, but just a better focus on the spirit.

I would argue that religion has a lot of unnecessary stuff, and finding the truth amid all the rest of the stuff takes a lot longer than is necessary. The only thing religion might have that non-religious spirituality doesn't is a focus for their awe and wonder. The Africans had an idea of a sky god (he was too great to define), and the Polynesians called the powerful forces of nature, or the beauty the saw, mana. God, while it is now associated with many dark parts of history, still holds a sense of wonder and awe to some of it's followers.

Maciamo
22-09-05, 15:16
What are you implying? Are you not somewhat prejudiced against Christians or people living in the Bible belt yourself, Maciamo?

I don't want to come back to definitions again, but as it seems necessary to answer your question, the Oxford Dictionary (http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/prejudice?view=uk) defines prejudice like this :


1 preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or experience. 2 unjust behaviour formed on such a basis.

Her assumption that atheists "live in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another" is a preconceived opinion not based on reason. It also happens to be untrue and extremely offensive. However, my saying that she had such prejudice against atheists because she came from the Bible Belt is based on experience (she is far from being the first from this region of the world with whom I have argued about religion), and is a direct result of what religious groups teach their followers there (just visit their websites to know the facts).


I'm certain that Perousia feels very similar to how you do when she reads some your posts, too.

I have the advantage of being on the side of reason and logics. So far, her arguments were only opinion, not irrefutable logical arguments or historical facts like those I use against her.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall her ever posting the same kind of comments that you just did.

This is because you didn't see what she wrote in my reputation comment to nag me just before posting the offending post. What's more I think that my post was much less offensive that what she posted. I only used her own words against her (and yet, only things she admitting being before her convertion).

lexico
22-09-05, 15:22
Well, I think if someone does something that they believe to be 'right', only because they think they will get a reward, there is no moral value in them doing that thing.You idea also originated as an innovation brought in by Jesus (or possibly other sage-teachers of the period). The abstract notion of good that is good in itself was not known in the ancient world before the reformed ideas of Jesus / Socrates who questioned traditional values and standards of conduct by questioning.

Tsuyoiko
22-09-05, 15:31
"Socrates and the Good Life". That brings back some lovely memories spent in a tiny faculty office in the oldest building on campus. Oh, to be a student again!

:sorry: Nostalgia is strong!

Maciamo
22-09-05, 15:38
I think the Japanese do very well without religion, and they are for the most part a good people.

Are you saying that religion is for bad people ?


Although, I think in some ways, they do need, as many of the western nations do, a way to truth. We in the west often don't know our own emotions, or are caught up in materialism, or other stuff.

Err... What ? Do you think that the Japanese know better their own emotions or are less materialist that Westerners ? Maybe that is because you are from the States (the most materialistic society in the Western world by far), but any of my European acquaintances who have been to Japan were shocked at how deeply materialistic the Japanese were. Girls even sell their body to buy brand clothes and bags ! Everything is measured by money in Japan, even friendships and family relations. For example :

- only money is given at wedding and the rate is fixed, not chosen in function of one's feelings, closeness or financial means
- children have to 'repay' their parents for taking care of them when they start working
- men don't mind buying women's friendship in hostess bars
- for a Japanese woman a husband's prime virtue is to make money and give all her salary to her to show he loves her.
- Japanese people often define happiness (on TV, people I meet, etc.) first and foremost by how much money they have.

None of these is normal where I come from (not even a little, they are all more or les shocking).



The only thing religion might have that non-religious spirituality doesn't is a focus for their awe and wonder.

Why ? Deist people believe in a almighty creator god (although disinterested in human affairs), do not have any religion.


The Africans had an idea of a sky god (he was too great to define), and the Polynesians called the powerful forces of nature, or the beauty the saw, mana. God, while it is now associated with many dark parts of history, still holds a sense of wonder and awe to some of it's followers.

What about the wonder and awe of Nature itself. What these Africans or Polynesians were in awe of was not god (we know that there is no "sky god", although there is "Sky TV"), but nature. Most scientists become scientist because of the amazement and awe that the forces and immensity of Nature commands. Understanding a bit more Nature through the current scientific knowledge, and knowing that there is so much more we cannot explain or haven't discovered yet, is in my opinion, a much greater and much deeper sense of awe and wonder than just staring at the sky and not even know what stars are, nor having an idea of the immense distance that separat them from us. How could primitive people even imagine the possibilities of travelling in space, explore planets where life could exist, understand what's going on inside the atoms that compose us, or how our very brain function ? These wonders bring, IMO, much more spiritual satisfaction than the very childlike view of the world of ancient religions.

Mikawa Ossan
22-09-05, 15:59
I only believe what I see because I know your reason has been spoiled by religion. ... This is one of the most outrageous accusation I have seen on this forum, and forcedly can only come from the twisted and hypocritical mind of a true Christian.

At the very least, I would categorize "twisted and hypocritical mind of a true Christian" an unfair statement. You may disagree with them, and the general Christian way of arguing may not be very logical from your standpoint, but that does not give you the right to use such hateful language. I would chastise any Christian who did the same.

You are absolutely correct in that I did not see the PM the Parousia sent to you. I can not speak for that. But please realize that even if you are the administrator of this forum, you have to take responsibility for your public posts in a way that you may not have to with PMs.

To Parousia--if Maciamo's accusation is correct, you should also be ashamed.

To both of you-- using spiteful language will not help you in your goal of trying to persuade others. You are both passionate about this topic, and I applaud you for that, but the Christian God is about love, not hatred, and logically, the best way to win someone over to your side is not to alienate him or her.

Maciamo
22-09-05, 16:00
What am I trying to say? I'm trying to say that monotheism does have a certain amount of truth to them, or rather that all the religions do. I dislike this 'ignorance is bliss' argument being put forth, cause I do know some very well thought out monotheists that are compassionate, they know that religious laws such as the one going against homosexuality is a personal choice, and they would never try and legislate their chosen morality. They are able to reconcile most of their faith with science and philosophy. That which they do not understand they can successfully ignore, or put on a backburner. I see that as a very good thing.

In the Middle Ages, people who tried to reconciliate Christianity and science, or decide to 'pick and choose' which elements of Christianity they agreed or diagreed with, were burnt to the stake as heretics or wicthes. These were the good old days of all powerful religion. But times change and as the young generations always get more spoiled and stupid, the youth of today think they can freely tamper with Christianity and still call themselves by the same name as their forefathers who would ne'er have dared to even think it.

My point is, religion is an insttution with some fixed rules. If you decide to change the rules, you get a new game (that is how baseball was born out of cricket). So either other people think like you and you can found a new religion, or this becomes a personal belief, but you do not belong to the original religion anymore. If you decide to play baseball with a tennis racket and wear no helmet - well, it's not baseball anymore but your own new game, based on baseball.

That is why I say that with the freedom of religion enjoyed nowadays, many people make their own rules, but few really stick to the true, well-established religions. I totally agree with that... as long as these people do not claim affiliation to a religion which rules they don't respect.


Christianity, as demonized as it has become these day, still does inspire many people to be better people, and to do compassionate things. My aunt and uncle, spent four years in Africa helping out at the hospitals, in large part, cause as my aunt said 'As Christians, we are called to compassion'.

Are you saying that only Christians can feel compassion ? Are you saying that if your aunt and uncle were to become atheists, deists or agnostics their personality would suddenly transform and their compassion would evaporate from their brains ?

There are compassionate people and others that are not, both among Christian and non Christian, religious people and non religious people. I know many Japanese who know nothing about (any) religion and are very compassionate. This is a universal human personality trait, and personality does not change that easily with metaphysic beliefs.

Revenant
22-09-05, 16:01
No, I'm not at all saying religion is for bad people. I'm saying that the Japanese are great people, and that they don't seem to need religion at all to be good people. Religious people are often great people as well, and I know quite a few Christians (I grew up in a very Christian environment) who are among the most dedicated, compassionate people that I know (yes, I also do know some arrogant Christians, ready to denounce the Dalai Lama as someone who connects himself with the devil, and other such stuff like that).

As to my comment that westerners were perhaps more materialistic, and lss in tune with their spiritual side, it might be better put as those nations that are affluent, rich, and educated. I think I used western just cause I see Japan as being quite westernized.

Good point on the Deists, all I'm saying is that religion does offer a focus, and a sense of security (big man in the sky watching over you).

You point out that we know a sky god doesn't exist, but I don't think that we can say that with absolute certainty. That is still very much the province of metaphysical discussion, and while most would lean towards your philosophy, they cannot disprove that a god doesn't exist. I don't wish to argue for or against a god though.

Science is carried by a sense of awe and wonder. But for some, they want to feel something more than just physical mysteries. They want to feel some divinity or holiness, and science doesn't do that for them.

Seriously, I don't see the concept of a god to be terribly evil. It is no more evil than nuclear energy, and is only made evil by the intentions of the person utilizing it.

Maciamo
22-09-05, 16:09
At the very least, I would categorize "twisted and hypocritical mind of a true Christian" an unfair statement. You may disagree with them, and the general Christian way of arguing may not be very logical from your standpoint, but that does not give you the right to use such hateful language. I would chastise any Christian who did the same.

I don't see it as hateful language - just the words that sprang to mind to describe accurately what I meant. True Christian (those who do not reject any part of the Bible - see above reply to Revenant) minds are twisted in the sense that their beliefs is unnatural (against the law of nature or facts; e.g. the earth is not flat, not the center of the universe and the world was not created in 7 days). They are hypocritical in the sense that they refuse to acknowledge facts and logics, and even admit that their reasoning is not logical but that it doesn't matter for faith.

Was there a better, as concised way of putting it ? I am not a person who uses words without thinking carefully about their exact meaning. But I am not a native speaker of English, so there may be connotations (hateful terms ?) that I may not understand. I apologise if it sounded hateful. I only intended to convey the meaning explained above.

Revenant
22-09-05, 16:10
Are you saying that only Christians can feel compassion ? Are you saying that if your aunt and uncle were to become atheists, deists or agnostics their personality would suddenly transform and their compassion would evaporate from their brains ?

There are compassionate people and others that are not, both among Christian and non Christian, religious people and non religious people. I know many Japanese who know nothing about (any) religion and are very compassionate. This is a universal human personality trait, and personality does not change that easily with metaphysic beliefs.No! I'm not saying all these things you think I am! I am saying that Christianity works well for them, and inspires them to compassion. They feel deep gratitude to Christ, for offering them salvation, they feel eternally fortunate that the 'truth' was revealed to them. They feel the need to be compassionate as God has been compassionate to them. 'Pay it forward' in a way.

An atheist, or animist could also develop their own perceptions, or perhaps they find that perceptions born out of atheism or whatever their chosen belief inspire them also to compassion. Perhaps atheism would better inspire 'John' to compassion, while Christianity would better inspire 'Sam'.

I know that compassion is universal to people of many beliefs.

lexico
22-09-05, 16:10
Seriously, I don't see the concept of a god to be terribly evil. It is no more evil than nuclear energy, and is only made evil by the intentions of the person utilizing it.
I think a lie is a false statement.
I also think a liar is an evil person unless it was meant to be funny.
I also think a huge bomb in the hands of either someone ignorant or doesn't care to think enough is evil; e.g. the US in 1945 with atomic bombs IS evil.
The little mutation that causes one individual to feel fine with lying is only a defective, or abberent genetic sequence; but the person becomes evil because of it (or it could be due to education or a traumatic, psychological scar).
In that sense a gene or a psychological trauma are evil if they cause evil in an individual carrier of that gene.
Now what does this have to do with atheism ? It's off topic; I reflected this in the title.

edit: Normally atheism need not involve morality, but it did. The notion of evil likewise. My comment is out of context, only commenting on the idea of evil. I have reflected the disjoint nature of my post in the title.
It's off topic; I reflected this in the title.Sorry if it sounded like an accusation on your post, but I have nothing to accuse. "Moral" and "evil": these words got my attention only.

Revenant
22-09-05, 16:14
lexico, I'm lost as to what this has to do with the concept of a god. Could you connect me?

Tsuyoiko
22-09-05, 16:22
e.g. the earth is not flat
In general, Christians don't believe that the Earth is flat. The Bible passages that are sometimes quoted to support this misconception are open to interpretation. Nowhere is it stated unambiguously that the Earth is flat. Stationary, yes. Flat, no.

Was there a better, as concised way of putting it ? I am not a person who uses words without thinking carefully about their exact meaning. But I am not a native speaker of English, so there may be connotations (hateful terms ?) that I may not understand. I apologise if it sounded hateful. I only intended to convey the meaning explained above.
Please take this as friendly advice, not criticism, but I do agree with Mikawa that you can sometimes seem too blunt. There is a probably a way to say what you mean and spare people's feelings too. How about how you explained it second time around:

their beliefs are against the law of nature or facts. They refuse to acknowledge facts and logics, and even admit that their reasoning is not logical but that it doesn't matter for faith.
Here you say the same thing, but in a much more tactful way, IMHO - and again, not a criticism! :-)

Mikawa Ossan
22-09-05, 16:29
Tsuyoiko, there's nothing wrong with criticism so long as it's justified, fair, and measured. Of course the rub lies is defining "justified, fair, and measured"...

Maciamo, I agree with Tsuyoiko. Your second explanation was much better. Unfortunately, being succint and being accurate are not one and the same. :(

Maciamo
22-09-05, 16:30
As to my comment that westerners were perhaps more materialistic, and lss in tune with their spiritual side, it might be better put as those nations that are affluent, rich, and educated. I think I used western just cause I see Japan as being quite westernized.

By China is not Western and cannot yet been seen as an "affluent, rich, and educated" nation. Yet Chinese people are much more materialistic than Europeans (maybe even more than the Japanese).



all I'm saying is that religion does offer a focus, and a sense of security (big man in the sky watching over you).

I actually dislike that for 2 reasons. 1) no privacy, and 2) people who really do believe that god will help them are up for some surprises, and risk making big mistakes because they think "not much can happen to them as god watches over their security". Muslims are particularily likely to fit in 2). The Koran says that during the holy war, believers in Allah should not fear to die as Allah will protect them "until the moment has come" (and when it has come, they'd ie even in their bed, so no worries to die in a battle fighting for Allah). This partly explains the lightning expansion of Islam in the 8th century. Believers became so embolden that they overturned all ennemy armies fearlessly, and were able to conquer all the land from central Asia to Spain via the Eastern Roman Empire in less than 100 years. But if ordinary people nowadays believe as strongly that Allah is on their side and will protect them, it can be very dangerous both for them and for other potential ennemies.


Seriously, I don't see the concept of a god to be terribly evil. It is no more evil than nuclear energy, and is only made evil by the intentions of the person utilizing it.

If god can create and terminate life, choose to make life for humans perfect or watch them fight in misery, judge people's everyday behaviour of his own unperfect creation, decide arbitrarily whether the poor humans should go to heaven or hell, basically have unlimited and absolute power, is not something I appreciate. It's neither democratic nor fair. This image of god (depicted by the OT) is even vicious and cruel. I don't know how Christians reconcile it with the loving NT god. Anyway, I cannot believe in something so contradictory without becoming mad. It already makes me nervous when I see people in the street not acting as reason/logics/commonsense would want them to. That is why I cannot accept the idea of god and most religions. Never mind whether they claim that god or humans created such or such religion, all I see is a jumble of contradicting and illogical ideas that my mind cannot accept in all sincerity and serenity.

If they wanted to have a chance to convert me, they had to create something much more rationally and logically perfect. To me, most religions just look like the brainchild of some children with too much imagination. And it bothers me the same way as people who do not behave rationally in the street to see people believing and defending ideas that are unacceptable to my mind. I often wonder "In what world am I living ?! Why are people so decidely uncomprehensible ?!" Fortunately there are exceptios, otherwise I would already have become a hermit, sulking on the irrationality of human beings. :auch:

Revenant
22-09-05, 16:30
True Christian (those who do not reject any part of the Bible - see above reply to Revenant) minds are twisted in the sense that their beliefs is unnatural (against the law of nature or facts; e.g. the earth is not flat, not the center of the universe and the world was not created in 7 days). They are hypocritical in the sense that they refuse to acknowledge facts and logics, and even admit that their reasoning is not logical but that it doesn't matter for faith.This I still don't agree with. A true Christian in my mind will take what is important, and that is the message of compassion that Christ taught and lived. Someone put forth an argument that the Jews intentionally used a lot of myths, and a lot of what was written was indeed to be taken as myth. The myths were simply a colorful way of getting a message of morality across, and would stick in the minds of those listening at the synogoges (sp?) better than just a 'sermon' on morality.

Fundamentalism in it's current state was born in the age of enlightenment, and was a reaction to the higher criticisms of the Bible (traditional views of time of writing, authors, etc were challenged), scientific findings, and reason. There were a few theologians in the time when there was only one church that saw the story of creation as more symbolic.

The age of enlightenment was polarizing to some of the faiths, and the Christian world was divided into Liberal and Fundamental.

I agree that Fundamentalists discard logic and reason for faith. But Fundamentalists could also often be charged with not being compassionate, and losing Christ's message of love for all.

Mikawa Ossan
22-09-05, 16:35
I agree that Fundamentalists discard logic and reason for faith. But Fundamentalists could also often be charged with not being compassionate, and losing Christ's message of love for all.
...and therefore not true Christians.

Maciamo
22-09-05, 16:49
Perhaps atheism would better inspire 'John' to compassion, while Christianity would better inspire 'Sam'.

I see you are always coming back to this point. Do you think that each religion fits better one personality type and that in the long run all religions in the world will be more or less uniformly spread out in every single country in similar proportion, according to people's personalities ? That's an interesting theory, but exclusive religions like Christianity and Islam will have to put water in their wine (no more jihad or crusade), and eventually all people may come to believe in their own personal beliefs (not old-fashioned ones made for them thousands of years ago, although they could serve as inspiration).

Tsuyoiko
22-09-05, 16:49
I actually dislike that for 2 reasons. 1) no privacy, and 2) people who really do believe that god will help them are up for some surprises, and risk making big mistakes because they think "not much can happen to them as god watches over their security"
You come close here to my one of my biggest problems. I just can't grasp the concept of relinquishing responsibility to some higher power. That is for children - but then don't religious people often refer to themselves as 'children of God'? I like to see the story of Adam and Eve as the natural rejection of authority that everyone must go through as they pass into adulthood - they need to go through this phase to learn how to stand on their own two feet. They chose knowledge over a perfect life, and IMHO, it was worth the risk.

Revenant
22-09-05, 16:58
A lot of those are perceptions that are yours, and obviously not shared by everyone. If everyone shared your perceptions of, for example, not liking the idea of having no privacy due to a man in the sky, then theistic religions would simply not be around.

China is new to a lot material goods, and not surprisingly, they are even more fascinated by them then those who grew up in already materialistic societies. Anyways, my point was that spirituality could definitely be improved, and actually I don't think it can ever be perfected.

If a Christian can be happy and reconcile parts of their faith that we can't see as possible, then I think it does them well. I don't know how they do it either, but I do know the end result can be very good.

Lastly, as religions are going to be around for quite some time, I would not get bothered by them. To me at least, losing serenity over something one has little control over is of little use. Most strong atheists would fiercely disagree with religious people, and they come across as having a certain amount of hate (strong negativity attached to a person or people) towards them. This to me seems little better than religious people getting upset over their morals not being followed.

------>response to post #76

Also, the exclusive religions of Islam and Christianity seem to be 'morphing' as science and ideas fly around the globe. Already a lot of people are discarding religion, or turning in old theology for one they can better reason. Not so long ago, an argument for same sex marriage in the churches would have been tossed out pretty quickly, now I see the argument in more and more places on the web.

It will take a while, but as the world becomes more pluralistic, I can definitely see the theologies changing to fit that. Fundamentals are already doing an excellent job of making religion look less appealing, although this does also put the open-minded religious folk in a bad light.

Mikawa Ossan
22-09-05, 17:09
Here is something I used to think about quite a bit.

If Christianity were true, it would mean that an omnipotent and omniscient being created the world and surrounding universe.
Being omnipotent, he could have created mankind on any way he chose. He had complete control.
Being omniscient, he knew exactly what each conceivable kind of humanity would be like and how they would behave before they actually came into being. He knew/knows EVERYTHING by definition.

Therefore, he KNEW that the form of mankind that he created would take the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden before Adam even came into existance. If this is true, than the only conclusion I can come to is that God INTENDED for Adam and Eve to do so, because he could have just as easily created beings that he knew would never do such a thing.

What does that say about God? He punished humanity for what was in essence his(God`s) own fault. He told Adam and Eve not to do something even though he created them in such a way that they had no choice but to disobey him, and God knew it. THIS is one way how I define hypocrisy. I can not worship such a being.

Maciamo
22-09-05, 17:39
A lot of those are perceptions that are yours, and obviously not shared by everyone. If everyone shared your perceptions of, for example, not liking the idea of having no privacy due to a man in the sky, then theistic religions would simply not be around.

Yes, it's a matter of personal sensitivity. People in non-democratic countries do not care much about the "tyranny of god" as I would call it. Those living in not very individualistic countries (most hot countries in general, or most of the countries in the world but Northern Europe and English-speaking countries) are also less concerned about the privacy issue. In countries torn by war or violence (the US is a good case of country with a high violent-crime rate), people more easily seek refuge in religion and don't mind trading a bit of privacy or democracy for that.


Most strong atheists would fiercely disagree with religious people, and they come across as having a certain amount of hate (strong negativity attached to a person or people) towards them. This to me seems little better than religious people getting upset over their morals not being followed.

So you still think (unconsciously at least) that atheists have no morals ? :okashii: Atheists too can get upset that their morals or values are not followed. That is obvious; different values always conflict, no matter which one is more just, more rational or whatever. It is not the point. My values are that lies, deceitfulness, hypocrisy, irrationality and illogicality will all have harmful effects sooner or later, and thus are bad for humanity. So, I cannot accept things that share these characteristics, religions or others.

What bothers me with Christianity and Islam (more even than with Judaism) is that they actively seek to convert the whole world, and have been used throughout history to control people and start wars. The latest events on the Christian side have been the election of his holiness GW Bush and his crusade against Islam. No need to explain how Islamic government control people, and how Islam influences weak or perverted people to fight and die for the glory of Allah.

In fact, I do not have any negative feelings about Hinduism (otherwise I wouldn't have spent 5 months in India), Buddhism and Shintoism (otherwise I would not have visited so many temples and shrines, taken so many pictures, and written about them in JREF's travel guide and other articles in the Culture section). Yet, I often (not always, depends on the conditions and my mood) have bad feelings when entering a church. I only visit them for sightseeing or historical research purpose, such as analysing the architectural style or learn about local history. But I cannot force myself to feel neutral about Christianity (and Islam) the way I feel about non-monotheist religions, because I am always reminded of all the problems it has caused in the world. In other words, Christianity and Islam are scary in the eye of an outsider humanist. If you understand how many Americans (or Westerners) fear Islam and terrorism nowadays, then you have an idea about my feelings about both religions (+ all the historical background and my believe that both religions are terribly irrational, and thus even scarier for a person who gets nervous when pedestrians around him do not behave in a perfectly rational way).


Also, the exclusive religions of Islam and Christianity seem to be 'morphing' as science and ideas fly around the globe. Already a lot of people are discarding religion, or turning in old theology for one they can better reason. Not so long ago, an argument for same sex marriage in the churches would have been tossed out pretty quickly, now I see the argument in more and more places on the web.

If religions can adapt to the requirements of modern society and "purge" the anachronistic elements, then I would feel a bit better disposed toward tolerating them. But then they should be renamed (at least symbolically), as they wouldn't be (already aren't) the same old religion that burnt people at the stake for a trivial disagreement, or claimed for centuries that the earth was made in 7 days and Adam and Eve were the only two original humans, created by god. It wasn't so long ago when these ideas were still taught in schools. In fact, even I had to listen to this when I was a child (and whenever I asked embarassing questions, I got scolded, as is usual with those Christians - btw they were Catholics, the most widespead form of Christianity).

Revenant
22-09-05, 17:52
I've heard that God being omnipotent isn't found anywhere in the Bible and was probably something a theologian put forth.

Sin is to know that something will cause unnecessary harm to another or the self. But that requires a certain amount of self-awareness. From even a liberal Christian theology, that including objective science and evolution, people evolving and gaining self-awareness put together with neuro-science seems to suggest that people really had no choice but to sin.

It was confusing, and I then thought that I should do away with Christianity, as I felt truth simply had to be a lot simpler. I learned a lot of good stuff from Christianity (I suppose I could've learned the same elsewhere), but it really is too complicated to reason all of it out (at least for me it was).


So you still think (unconsciously at least) that atheists have no morals?Say what!!! I didn't imply that at all!. I'm saying that some of the more militant atheists I've met really do have a lot of negative feelings towards especially the monotheists. Is it justified? I would say disagreements are justified, but the intensity of negativity isn't.

What I am saying is that all people, whether religious or atheistic need to be careful not to attach anger, or resentment towards the opposing side. Anger, resentment, etc can easily intensify into hate, if not constantly checked, and especially with people discussing ideas that they have strong feelings about. Religious people can get angry when atheists constantly question and slam their beliefs, while atheists can get angry at what they see as illogical, irrational, and as some see it, as hateful. I don't know if that says what I want clearly or not.

Tsuyoiko
22-09-05, 18:03
If religions can adapt to the requirements of modern society and "purge" the anachronistic elements, then I would feel a bit better disposed toward tolerating them. But then they should be renamed (at least symbolically), as they wouldn't be (already aren't) the same old religion that burnt people at the stake for a trivial disagreement, or claimed for centuries that the earth was made in 7 days and Adam and Eve were the only two original humans, created by god.
I'm not clear why you think this is so. Why can't a religion change with the times but still keep its name? Sorry to use a common definition, but if we consider Christianity as

a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior
it doesn't matter how much it changes over time if it still uses the NT and OT and sees Jesus as the saviour.

Maciamo
22-09-05, 18:17
Here is something I used to think about quite a bit.

If Christianity were true, it would mean that an omnipotent and omniscient being created the world and surrounding universe.
Being omnipotent, he could have created mankind on any way he chose. He had complete control.
Being omniscient, he knew exactly what each conceivable kind of humanity would be like and how they would behave before they actually came into being. He knew/knows EVERYTHING by definition.

Therefore, he KNEW that the form of mankind that he created would take the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden before Adam even came into existance. If this is true, than the only conclusion I can come to is that God INTENDED for Adam and Eve to do so, because he could have just as easily created beings that he knew would never do such a thing.

What does that say about God? He punished humanity for what was in essence his(God`s) own fault. He told Adam and Eve not to do something even though he created them in such a way that they had no choice but to disobey him, and God knew it. THIS is one way how I define hypocrisy. I can not worship such a being.

Exactly, that is why I said it was unacceptable to reason and the god of the OT would contradict completely the one of the NT. Just the idea of god having human attributes yet being perfect is logically impossible. The idea of a god creating the universe (by definition "all that exist" or "reality") without creating himself, would logically mean that god isn't part of the universe/reality, and thus not exist or have no connection with the universe (basically the same thing). There are many more illogical things in the idea of god or Christianity. Hundreds of them. At best, a purge would have to get rid of over half of the Bible and keep the moral teachings with a lot of editing to avoid multi-sense metaphors and add clarity to the message. But then why not jus become hippy or Buddhist ?

Maciamo
22-09-05, 18:19
I'm not clear why you think this is so. Why can't a religion change with the times but still keep its name? Sorry to use a common definition, but if we consider Christianity as

it doesn't matter how much it changes over time if it still uses the NT and OT and sees Jesus as the saviour.

No, no, those particular changes would need to cut out big parts of the OT (all the genesis and apocalypse, for instance) and maybe also of the NT.

Maciamo
22-09-05, 18:31
I've heard that God being omnipotent isn't found anywhere in the Bible and was probably something a theologian put forth.


But haven't read the Bible ? It's quite obvious, at least from the Catholic version (i.e. probably the oldest in continuous use) I was made to read as a child. Now there are many versions of the book, some that may remove stuff that may cause problems to the believers. Then, don't forget that for Catholics (which represent over half of the world's Christians), if the Church says so, it is so. For Catholics, the Pope and the Church have as much to say in the dogma of believers as the Bible itself. That is what makes it even more unbelievable. Some of you here have argued that Christian could pick and choose what they wanted in the Bible, but this is not true for Catholics. There is only one truth for catholics, and contrarily to many Protestant types of Christianity, there is little space for personal interpretation. The Church interprets for the believers. Yet, this is not even as the true Catholicism of the Middle Ages of our ancestors (or even pre-Paul XXIII). It has already softened quite a bit.

Doc
22-09-05, 18:38
The ignorance is high in this topic.

Doc

Ma Cherie
22-09-05, 18:49
Pleas explain Doc, :relief:

lexico
22-09-05, 19:01
The ignorance is high in this topic.

DocCould that be why there are agnosts ? Actually the gnostics claimed to have secret knowledge of God and the divine will; agnostics could either believe in the ultimate unknowability of divine will or simply denying that gnostics could possibly know what they claim to know.

In fact the humbled acceptance of ignorance can also be the beginning of science. As for historical atheists, they were usually called the gentiles, the pagans, or the heathens, which are very subjective labels depending on who is making the value judgement. Atheist was hardly a safe name to be called by.

As for the omni- characterisations of God, they are central theses of many parts of the bible. The Book of Job for example ends with exalting proclamation of the creating power of YHWH. Omnipotence would be a summary tag of that Job thesis. Yet it is true that many counterarguments to the Christian Church's claim to truth could have been avoided had the closedness of the bible and dogmas ceased at some point. With so many strong claims on God's porperties (http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showpost.php?p=58522&postcount=1), it becomes almost too easy to find a logical or factual hole somewhere and choose to be atheist, but in fact the proposition would have meant to fail sooner or later.

Doc
22-09-05, 19:15
Pleas explain Doc, :relief:

Simply put, there are a few people here, who are going too far in pushing their arguments, and not only is it starting to get intellectually insulting and offensive, but it's also starting to show the fallacies and ignorance in their posts.


Could that be why there are agnosts ? Actually the gnostics claimed to have secret knowledge of God and the divine will; agnostics could either believe in the ultimate unknowability of divine will or simply denying that gnostics could possibly know what they claim to know.

In fact the humbled acceptance of ignorance can also be the beginning of science. As for historical atheists, they were usually called the gentiles, the pagans, or the heathens, which are very subjective labels depending on who is making the value judgement. Atheist was hardly a safe name to be called by.

As for the omni- characterisations of God, they are central theses of many parts of the bible. The Book of Job for example ends with exalting proclamation of the creating power of YHWH. Omnipotence would be a summary tag of that Job thesis. Yet it is true that many counterarguments to the Christian Church's claim to truth could have been avoided had the closedness of the bible and dogmas ceased at some point. With so many strong claims on God's porperties, it becomes almost too easy to find a logical or factual hole somewhere and choose to be atheist, but in fact the proposition would have meant to fail sooner or later.

THANK YOU GOD!!! Why can't we have more level headed people such as yourself in these type of topics more often? I mean I will admit I can be just as bad as the next guy in a heated debate, but I usually calm down pretty quickly and take their criticisms into consideration. Why can't we have more cool headed thoughts like yours more often? :-)

Doc :wave:

Tsuyoiko
22-09-05, 20:54
Simply put, there are a few people here, who are going too far in pushing their arguments, and not only is it starting to get intellectually insulting and offensive, but it's also starting to show the fallacies and ignorance in their posts.
What examples can you offer Doc?

Doc
22-09-05, 21:30
Well to be honest I really don't want to point out too much because I would much rather keep those who are guilty nameless so it doesn't start a very heated (and possibly harmful) argument in this thread. I mean I find the points that you Tsuyoiko, Lexico, Kinsao, and a hand full of others make very intellectually stimulating as it keeps this thread interesting. However, there are a few people who keep their arguments strictly on one side of the extreme or the other such as "religion has all the answers", or "science has all the answers", and I must say that it is starting to wear thin on my patience. I mean I can understand where they're coming from and how they feel on the subject, but it's getting to be a little silly when they try to have all the ammo on their side to just shoot down any open minded post to defend the point that their end of the spectrum is better than the other. Even if it is not their intention, their posts still clearly show the ignorance, egotism, and brashness whether they realize it or not. I feel that I donft have to point any fingers because the ones who are guilty know what Ifm talking about, and I would suggest that they tone it down a notch before things start getting out of hand.

It is okay to believe in what you want to believe in, but to denounce another personfs beliefs just because you donft agree with it is unacceptable as it shows ignorance, egotistical values, and the failure to willingly be open minded. Thatfs all Ifm going to say on the subject as I feel further elaboration could provoke an unnecessary argument that should be best avoided in such a great and interesting thread. My sincerest apologies if I seem too vague for some of you, but as I said before I feel that the guilty persons involved know what Ifm talking about, and should just cool it while theyfre still ahead. You understand donft you Tsuyoiko?

Doc :wave:

Kinsao
22-09-05, 22:48
~coughcough~
The title of the thread is actually "what is an atheist?", which is a different question from "is there a god(s)?" or "do you believe in god(s)?" I mean, people can argue about the existence or non-existence of god(s) until the cows come home without getting anywhere. Sometimes people just have to agree to differ! ^^

Mikawa Ossan
22-09-05, 23:58
That's right. We're off topic. But it's still interesting.

Pararousia
23-09-05, 01:57
You are so misled and prejudiced ! I only believe what I see because I know your reason has been spoiled by religion. How can you believe that atheists are "deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures" or "live in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another" ? This is one of the most outrageous accusation I have seen on this forum, and forcedly can only come from the twisted and hypocritical mind of a true Christian.

Strong atheism is a spiritual belief of its own right, and typically requires deep introspection (meditation) combined to strong rational skills and a lot of historical, scientific and philosophical knowledge.

Maciamo, I do believe you read what I wrote and thought I was referring to you or atheists in general. The pronouns I injected in the scripture quote in my post were personal pronouns referring to ME. Please go back and reread the post.

The second quoted sentence of yours above does indicate that atheism is a religion to you. You believe strongly that there is no God/god; you are basing your eternal existence or, lack thereof, on your belief that there is no God/god. While religious people usually believe in their various religions in order to reach their nirvana/heaven/paradise, the atheist "religion" believes in a non-God/god to reach their non-nirvana/heaven/paradise.

I have always contended that TRUE Christianity is not a religion, but a relation-based encounter with God. Most true religions have as a basis that the individual must achieve some kind of goodness, number of good deeds, high morals, etc, etc, inorder to reach their nirvana/heaven/paradise. True Christianity teaches that inspite of our sins, we can have heaven because of the sole act of Jesus the Christ. We believe His act (death, burial and resurrection from the dead) was propitiatory and totally sufficient to forgive our sins and provide us with redemption.

Perhaps you can understand these verses as examples of what I'm talking about: Psalm 14:1-3 & Psalm 53:1-3 "The fool says in his heart, "There is no God...;" there is no one who does good." Note how these two passages link non-belief to an assertion that no man does good. Could it be that the idea of God is dismissed because many believe that, if God and heaven are true, they are good enough to be admitted into heaven on their own merit?

Genesis 18:32; Then Abraham said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten righteous men can be found there?" God answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy Sodom." If God couldn't find 10 righteous men in all of Sodom, what are the chances that He would find you as righteous? If your every thought could be made audible for all to hear, would those who heard your thoughts still consider you to be a good and righteous person?

Ezekiel 28: "In the pride of your heart, you say, "I am a god..." But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god. You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings...All who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more."

Do you remember your morality as a child? How black and white everything was and how idealistic you were in your standards? At what point did you begin breaking your own standard? At what point did you begin lowering the standard? Why?

Luke 2:34-40: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed."
Mark 8:29: "Who do you say I am?"

Our answer to this question says more about us than it does about Jesus. Jesus is presented to us as a perfect sinless and holy standard. If we judge Him to be only a man, we are in effect saying that, we, as men, are capable of reaching that standard. If we find fault with Jesus, how much more at fault are we? By judging Jesus to be one with God, as God, we admit that we are incapable of reaching the high standard; we are asking God to grade us on a curve, because we know that we have no hope of passing the test on our own merit.

John 16:27, "For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God."
John 3:3, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again."

By dying, He taught us the meaning of self-sacrifice; He taught us how to die to ourselves. In rising, He allowed us to be born again, so that we could live for others and overcome our selfish nature.

How does a person know that the color red is real? Because they see it. How does a person know that God is real?
Romans 10:17: "Faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ."
John 18:37: "Everyone that is of the truth, heareth my voice."
Mark 7:16 "If any man has ears to hear, let him hear."
1Corinthians 2:14 "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

An intelligent person can comprehend and disassemble meaning in the written word. But the message of salvation is written in the Living Word, which can't be torn down by the logic of men.

Thanks again for this opportunity :)

Pararousia
23-09-05, 04:31
Maciamo:
This is because you didn't see what she wrote in my reputation comment to nag me just before posting the offending post. What's more I think that my post was much less offensive that what she posted. I only used her own words against her (and yet, only things she admitting being before her convertion).

Wow--!! I just read further back in today's post and found the above accusation from Maciamo. Everyone, before you believe I said something malicious to Maciamo, let me tell you exactly what I said while giving him a GOOD reputation mark--I said "I pray for you to know "the mystery of God and the hidden treasures of Christ." If this is offensive to him, then he may tell me that he prays that I find the treasures of atheism! *L* I am shocked he would concoct such a thing to say about me! And, yes, I do pray for him and for all of you. If this is a malicious thing to do, then I stand as charged.

Maciamo
23-09-05, 06:12
However, there are a few people who keep their arguments strictly on one side of the extreme or the other such as "religion has all the answers", or "science has all the answers", and I must say that it is starting to wear thin on my patience.

I competely understand you. I has also worn on my patience a bit. I have never understood how people could say that sciences can explain such things as morals, metaphysics or spirituality. These all belong to philosophy, which is the study of all human knowledge and beliefs, including religions, as well as the limits of human knowledge (no, we cannot "know god", just "believe in god").


It is okay to believe in what you want to believe in, but to denounce another personfs beliefs just because you donft agree with it is unacceptable as it shows ignorance, egotistical values, and the failure to willingly be open minded.

Here I disagree. It's the same for everything : politics, economics, sciences, sport rules, games, whatever. If someone can prove that one system is more effective, more logical or less harmful than another, then it is a good thing to denounce the other system by explaining why one thinks so. It is the basic principle of progress, and nothing iritates me more than people who reject 'progress'.

Maciamo
23-09-05, 06:14
~coughcough~
The title of the thread is actually "what is an atheist?", which is a different question from "is there a god(s)?" or "do you believe in god(s)?" I mean, people can argue about the existence or non-existence of god(s) until the cows come home without getting anywhere. Sometimes people just have to agree to differ! ^^

Off-topics don't matter on forums like this one, as diverting discussions can be split into a new thread or merge with another any time. This is what I intend to do here soon. If you wanted to stay perfectly on topic, then we had to stop all discussions after giving a satistying definition of atheism.

Revenant
23-09-05, 06:56
I have always contended that TRUE Christianity is not a religion, but a relation-based encounter with God.When I hear Christians talk about their relationship to God, they speak of God as a feeling, or speaking to their hearts, or speaking to them through the Bible. What then does God say? Personally, I don't see the effects being any different from that of a Buddhist.
]Could it be that the idea of God is dismissed because many believe that, if God and heaven are true, they are good enough to be admitted into heaven on their own merit?I think repentance is the fulfillment of compassion, and those that truely do what they can to empathize, will naturally be repentant for the deeds they did that went against the compassion.
If your every thought could be made audible for all to hear, would those who heard your thoughts still consider you to be a good and righteous person?I think some people do truely search for the truth, and they would be found to have great intentions, as well as the true desire to help people (translated into action).
Do you remember your morality as a child? How black and white everything was and how idealistic you were in your standards? At what point did you begin breaking your own standard? At what point did you begin lowering the standard? Why?In some ways, I thought that these black and white standards that I once had caused me to be judgemental, and to look negatively at people who weren't meeting these standards. But actually, one does not change another effectively by being judgemental and critical, but by empathizing with them, and then suggesting a way that might work better. (I know I don't have all the answers, and I would absolutely argue that virtue ethics is far better than rigid morality)
By dying, He taught us the meaning of self-sacrifice; He taught us how to die to ourselves. In rising, He allowed us to be born again, so that we could live for others and overcome our selfish nature.But how does one die to ourselves? Is that not just the loss of ego, so that one may not become enflamed when one's beliefs are challenged, or when something one holds as important doesn't get in the way of true empathy? A lot of the other major religions teach the same, that a loss of ego is necessary to truely empathize and promote someone's true happiness.

Maciamo
23-09-05, 07:16
Maciamo, I do believe you read what I wrote and thought I was referring to you or atheists in general. The pronouns I injected in the scripture quote in my post were personal pronouns referring to ME. Please go back and reread the post.

Alright, I didn't know that you were quoting from the scriptures because you didn't mention it. Therefore, I took the "we (I) too" as referring to you and other Christians, as opposed to atheists. This added with your almost simultaneous reputation comment that you 'prayed for my conversion' only made me feel like you we pointing the finger at the atheists. Maybe you aim was to be vague so as to escape criticism.


The second quoted sentence of yours above does indicate that atheism is a religion to you. You believe strongly that there is no God/god; you are basing your eternal existence or, lack thereof, on your belief that there is no God/god. While religious people usually believe in their various religions in order to reach their nirvana/heaven/paradise, the atheist "religion" believes in a non-God/god to reach their non-nirvana/heaven/paradise.

First of all, if you had cared to read the posts in this thread (and other recent threads on atheism, such as Is there such a thing as "atheist religion" ? (http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19451)), you would seen that I make a clear distinction between 'religions', which are organised, have rituals and places of worship, and "personal beliefs" which lack them. I consider some forms of Buddhism as an "atheist religion" because they do not believe in god(s) but are organised, with temples, monks, rituals, etc. In my case, I do not belong to any such organisation, and therefore have no religion, however strong are my convictions.

In fact, strength of conviction have little to do with religiousness. Most of those who call themselvs Shintoists and Buddhists do not have very strong beliefs (look at the Japanese).

In my case, I could say that my conviction that no "omnipotentsupreme being" or "creator" exist is not even really a personal belief, but a logical conclusion. I do not believe that 1+1 do not equal 3, it is a logical conclusion. I do believe in other things so (e.g. my moral principles are subjective, and I admit it, as no moral can really be objective or universal). So my "personal beliefs" are probably very close to the fundamental teachings of Buddhism, and may even share quite a bit with the values taugt by Jesus. I do not deny that there are good moral elements in the NT. What I cannot logically accept is the Christian concept of god. If
I had to define a god for me, it would be Nature (all the universe = god and we are part of it). This is called pantheism and agrees 'almost' perfectly with atheism (just a matter of definition). So, if you want to call me pantheist instead of atheist, or Buddhist-inspired pantheist, go ahead. That may be easier to understand and accept for monotheist people.



I have always contended that TRUE Christianity is not a religion, but a relation-based encounter with God. Most true religions have as a basis that the individual must achieve some kind of goodness, number of good deeds, high morals, etc, etc, inorder to reach their nirvana/heaven/paradise.

Because I believe that life is only a biochemical process, that we have no soul (we are only matter and energy) and that the universe is eternal, I do not need to believe in heaven. For many people the existence of the soul is a matter of belief, but because of the recent progress in neurosciences, I can rationally judge that there is nothing that matches the definition of 'soul' that cannot be explained by sciences (yes, even why true twins feel each feel "I am I, and not you" and all the conscience issue). There are many books on the subject, so I will not write another one about it on this forum. Anyway, people with little scientific knowledge will not be able to understand even if I explain.


True Christianity teaches that inspite of our sins, we can have heaven because of the sole act of Jesus the Christ. We believe His act (death, burial and resurrection from the dead) was propitiatory and totally sufficient to forgive our sins and provide us with redemption.

That must be convenient for people with a lot of sins on their conscience.



Perhaps you can understand these verses as examples of what I'm talking about: Psalm 14:1-3 & Psalm 53:1-3 "The fool says in his heart, "There is no God...;" there is no one who does good." Note how these two passages link non-belief to an assertion that no man does good. Could it be that the idea of God is dismissed because many believe that, if God and heaven are true, they are good enough to be admitted into heaven on their own merit?

Again, it seems that this religion was created for "bad people". What is more, it seems that the "there is no one who does good" is an idea that was popular in ancient times, as Lexico explained. But our world is different. There are millions of people who do good without thinking of a material reward, even among non-Christians like the Japanese. This is because making people happy can be as much as reward in itself (or more) than a material one. However, this is something psychology (which is a branch of philosophy) teaches. Religions don't explain these things. At best they mention them or profess them, but people still need to believe rather than understand. For rational people, faith only is more difficult to trust than understanding, even if the result in behaviour is the same. That's why I say that the so-called Christian values of compassion, benevolence, altruism, etc. are not in fact Christian, but universal characteristics shared by human beings of a certain personality. That is why, if one does not have this personality type, even becoming Christian will not change them much (or only in the short-term, or when constantly encouraged to do so by the community, but not in other situations). There are so many Christian who are not compassionate or do not follow most of the tachings of Jesus, yet firmly believe that they are Christian. I am not sure that even 1% of all Christians can claim to behave in a way nearly as similar as Jesus want them to be. Many don't even try hard. But I know many Japanese who would be much closer to Jesus in behaviour, and don't know anything about Christianity. This is the dilemma of religions. They often create the opposite of what is intended (e.g. wars, violence...).





Ezekiel 28: "In the pride of your heart, you say, "I am a god..." But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god. You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

This description of "a god" is very close to the polytheist concept of human-like god. The original meaning of god was probably more like the way the Japanese use it today "oh, this baseball player is so good. He is a god !". It just means "superhuman". Studying the history and evolution of religion, we see a clear transition from this, to a omniscient and omnipotent god, then to a loving god.




Do you remember your morality as a child? How black and white everything was and how idealistic you were in your standards? At what point did you begin breaking your own standard? At what point did you begin lowering the standard? Why?

If you are asking me, I believe that nothing is simply black or white, but in an infinite shade of nuances in between. Since as far as I can remember, I have disliked the use of words like "always" and "never" and preferred "usually", "often", "sometimes", "rarely", "hardly ever", and tried not to say "all" but "most", when it was clearly not "all". Precision is important, especially when generalising. I do not call that lowering my standards, except if simplemindeness is a quality for you. Btw, I have always (this time it is the right word) been more idealistic than the vast majority of people in society. I am also very humanistic.



Our answer to this question says more about us than it does about Jesus. Jesus is presented to us as a perfect sinless and holy standard.

Yes, me too, by my standards. :D Yet, by my standards, Jesus is not pure or sinless as he created a religion that caused wars and violence ever since its creation. He also lack rationality and failed in explaining his ideas of goodness in unambivalent terms that the whole word could understand, through the ages and cultures. If that was divinely inspired and "perfect like god", then Christian standards are much lower than my own. All this to say that Jesus is no match compared to someone like me (don't see it as sth arrogant, it is a judgement based simply on my standards).



If we judge Him to be only a man, we are in effect saying that, we, as men, are capable of reaching that standard.

Yes, why not ?



If we find fault with Jesus, how much more at fault are we?

I can't talk for 6 billion people, but I am not much to reproach myself compared to him.


By judging Jesus to be one with God, as God, we admit that we are incapable of reaching the high standard; we are asking God to grade us on a curve, because we know that we have no hope of passing the test on our own merit.

This is basically for people who lack self-confidence and do not know themselves well.


John 16:27, "For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God."
John 3:3, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again."

What is love if you have never met that "god" and he cannot or doesn't want to use his power to help humans reach perfection ? The Judeo-Christian god is fundamentally vicious and sadistic because he had to power to create a perfectly happy world, and didn't, preferring to watch humans and animals struggle, species disappear, etc. Who knows how many other planets support life in the infinity of the universe. But are these life beings happier there ? Did god discriminate or experiment with each planet in a different way, or does he want to cause pain, sorrow, destruction and all sorts of other negative things because he enjoys it ?



By dying, He taught us the meaning of self-sacrifice; He taught us how to die to ourselves. In rising, He allowed us to be born again, so that we could live for others and overcome our selfish nature.

But the physical body of Jesus was made a matter and energy. He ate material food, drank water, this food was rejected as excrements. His whole body cells were regenerated on a daily basis and it took 7 years for all the body's cells to be changed completely, like for other humans. The air he breathed, the calorific energy he released from his body, the matter that passes through him, and the decomposition of the corpse of Jesus or the blood he shed, all still exist in the nature. It is even very likely that this matter and energy was recycled, and with time, it passed through the body of other humans, or animals or plants. Some of it could even be inside you or me now or sometime in the future, from the food we eat and the air we breath. So Jesus died but he is still among us ! Like anybody else who died before on this Earth.




How does a person know that the color red is real? Because they see it.

Some people cannot see the colors red and green (daltonians), but see grey instead. Others are blind. Our senses aren't perfect anyway. Don't trust only your senses ! Of course, the people who wrote the Bible didn't know or care much about these things at the time.

Maciamo
23-09-05, 07:40
A lot of the other major religions teach the same, that a loss of ego is necessary to truely empathize and promote someone's true happiness.

Ego is necessary to improve oneself and seek perfection. People who have a naturally low ego or self-esteem make poor learners. I know that as a teacher. The path to greater knowledge is one that requires suffering and perserverance. To have the strength to learn more and more, even when it is not needed, just for knowledge itself, can only be supported by a strong ego. In philosophy, wgo even means "conscious thinking subject", as opposed to passive subjects. An absolute lack of ego only means death, as the person does not even think him/herself worthy of living. Thus, ego is the power of life, knowledge and perfection.

I hope you didn't mean "egoism", which is completely different. Egoism is a form of ethics that treat self-interest as the foundation or morals. Egoism, for example, preaches that compassion is good if it brings happiness or satisfaction to the individual by seeing other people happy.

This is also very different from egocentrism, which just means "self-centered", not caring about others. Or else egotism - an excessive or exaggerated sense of self-importance.

Revenant
23-09-05, 08:06
When I speak of the loss of ego, it is to say that much of what we hold as important, actually gets in the way of empathy. Humans are social animals, and the need to connect is there. The deeper the connection, the happier both parties will be.

In a study of Buddhist meditators, the Buddhist meditators both showed the ability to read the microexpressions better than any other people, and to the ability to reason while not losing their cool, but simply reasoning with friendliness, even in the face of very confrontational people.

In the first, I theorize that since these meditators practice focusing on one thing, and being able to mute all else, that they were also able to mute their opinions, judgements, and other inner dialogue to truely focus in on what the other person was saying and feeling. This is something that is difficult to do, but that a Buddhist, through the practice of being able to at will focus on one thing, were able to do very well.

In the second, the Buddhists were able to maintain serenity, and simply answer with reasoned calmness, and still showing friendliness to the opposing side. Can I do that? Not always. I at times lose it with my family (I just feel irritated with them).

In short, I really did mean egotism, and I really do feel there are a lot of subtle forms of it.

Kinsao
23-09-05, 12:26
Phew, there are so many things to read, and I have feeling to want to answer, which is useless, but maybe I answer some things anyway... :blush:


I do not deny that there are good moral elements in the NT.

If there is no such thing as a god/deity/whatever you call it, the word "moral" makes no sense. Because so, how can anyone judge "moral" or "good" behaviour? :? What means the "good" behaviour or to do the "right" thing? Sometimes, people can feel that they want to do something, they feel it's somehow morally "right" or "good" even if there is maybe risk to themselves (going against the basic instincts for self-preservation), and even if they are not going to get any praise, glory etc. (e.g. no-one is around to see them do this "right" thing). People can feel like that even if they have no belief in a god or a "reward". Why? From where is the "moral" standard? (I am not being rhetorical, I am wondering really!)


That must be convenient for people with a lot of sins on their conscience.

Hear hear. I can't understand how anyone can seriously think if they simply believe in or trust in Jesus then somehow all their sins are forgiven and then you don't have to do any more "work"?


That is why, if one does not have this personality type, even becoming Christian will not change them much (or only in the short-term, or when constantly encouraged to do so by the community, but not in other situations).

Actually I disagree with that. Maybe some people not naturally having "compassion" or "altruism" could be helped by their religious system to become more like that, because of a belief that they "ought" to, and/or because of help and encouragement from their community. Granted, a hope of a reward, or a concern about how they appear to others in their community, are not the best of motives for them regarding their development as people. But I would also hesitate to say that an "improvement" in their behaviour (e.g. more compassion, or something like) would not be a good thing. Obviously it would be better if their motives are selfless, but, it could still be good anyway.

In any case, what standards are compassion and altruism measured against? Why should anyone bother with them, anyway? Why not just look after number one? I'm serious.


by my standards, Jesus is not pure or sinless as he created a religion that caused wars and violence ever since its creation.

Not having known Jesus personally I can't pass an opinion on whether he was really pure or sinless. However, I think it's a bit harsh to blame him for the wars and violence that other people created.


The Judeo-Christian god is fundamentally vicious and sadistic because he had to power to create a perfectly happy world, and didn't, preferring to watch humans and animals struggle

But if god (supposing for the sake of argument that it exists) created a perfectly happy world, that would mean taking away free will from human beings. This would reduce our world to something unimaginable to us... maybe more "happiness", but how much would we lose!?

I think I talk too much. :bluush:

Jack
23-09-05, 12:42
im atheist, its pure at thought that i dont believe in god's or anything alike it, its plain that science can pave the history of time.
I hate the fat that religion is always pushed onto people for them to believe its ridiculous.

religion causes war it has done for millions of years.

Mikawa Ossan
23-09-05, 13:28
In my old church days (Lutheran), I was taught that sin is merely "being apart from God". I don't know whether this adds to the discussion, but it might be good to come to a common definition of sin. I think it might also be a good idea to try to come to a common definition (that EVERYONE regularly posting on this thread) can agree to on other points, too, such as religion. To this end, using dictionaries is nice for insight, but instead of purely deferring to dictionaries and then making our own conclusions about what that implies and then adding that to the definition without consensus, it might further the discussion for us to come up with our own definitions purely for the benefit of this thread. Otherwise, if everyone has their own personal definition, misunderstandings are inevitable.
I realize that the issue of definitions was taken up earlier, but I felt that it was not resolved even nearly adequately.

Jack
23-09-05, 13:32
good point,
but seriously what is sin?
its what i denote as something religious folk denote as being wrong or in the eyes of their gods as being bad.

Kinsao
23-09-05, 13:37
That's a good point. If someone does not believe in the existence of a god or gods, there is no such thing as "sin". Of course, there are actions which people think of as being "wrong" (or at least, wrong in certain circumstances), but the concept of "sin" also depends on believing in the concept of "god".

Mikawa Ossan
23-09-05, 13:45
You see what I'm getting at here. We could define sin as "an act that is morally wrong" but then we need to come to a common basis for judging what is morally wrong. If we are serious about trying to come to some conclusion, though, I think it would be worth the effort. :blush:

Tsuyoiko
23-09-05, 13:52
However, there are a few people who keep their arguments strictly on one side of the extreme or the other such as "religion has all the answers", or "science has all the answers", and I must say that it is starting to wear thin on my patience.
You sound like Stephen Jay Gould!

It is okay to believe in what you want to believe in, but to denounce another personfs beliefs just because you donft agree with it is unacceptable as it shows ignorance, egotistical values, and the failure to willingly be open minded.
I agree. Lack of emotional intelligence, to put it another way.

You understand donft you Tsuyoiko?
I do now! Thanks for the explanation Doc! :cool:

Tsuyoiko
23-09-05, 14:00
True Christianity teaches that inspite of our sins, we can have heaven because of the sole act of Jesus the Christ. We believe His act (death, burial and resurrection from the dead) was propitiatory and totally sufficient to forgive our sins and provide us with redemption.
So you are motivated by the hope of some reward?

I said "I pray for you to know "the mystery of God and the hidden treasures of Christ."
I understand that you did not mean to offend, but I understand why Maciamo found this offensive. First of all, you assume that you know better than Maciamo himself what is good for him, and that is not your place. Secondly, I find it offensive when someone prays for you without your permission. I call it 'spiritual rape'.

Tsuyoiko
23-09-05, 14:16
If there is no such thing as a god/deity/whatever you call it, the word "moral" makes no sense.
I don't agree. I think an immoral act is one that causes unnecessary harm. But then you have the problem of defining 'unnecessary harm'. I go with 'greatest good of the greatest number' as the ideal, but doubt I could ever apply that in practice.

its what i denote as something religious folk denote as being wrong or in the eyes of their gods as being bad
This definition of 'sin' works for me. I would prefer to stick to more neutral terms, 'moral' and 'immoral'. I think these terms work equally well in the secular and rligious realms.


BTW Sorry for the triple post, just wanted to be unusually organised :p

Void
23-09-05, 15:22
1
athough, i had an intention on elaborating this thought in another thread, i guess it is also an appropriate place

My country witnessed what is called in literal translation "militant atheism" and what can be called "crusading atheism". Tsarist regime was condemned as one only exploiting poor people and religion - as its handy tool „ƒalled "opium for the nation". Ideas of equality, solidarity and some other slogans were voiced all over. Many churches were destroyed and many priests were killed, treasures - expropriated. "there is no God! it`s a concept used to fool you, people!"
Total literacy,schools and knowledge for everyone became one of the goals of the new government.
Political party announced its program, enlightened the future and took
over the country. Civil war, famine, great projects (such as electrification),
NEP... There is no doubt that with growing level of literacy and education
many people (besides there were many left from 'old regime') started to ask
uneasy questions. An these are also the time of develpment of new system of
rules, traditions and dogmas - which supposed to be the basis of new Soviet
society. And questioning this basis (remember, atheism flourished, though
old folks still kept their believes and some churches were spared) would be
considered a serious crime, such doubts equaled 'mortal sins' in religion new regime overthrown.
For weak, uneducated, overemotional and such people new ideology became a religion. Which is certainly eased task for those who governed - they posessed a mean to control big society, to expose and eliminate doubting and disturbing ones.

Btw, even genetics was not longly accepted because its development started at capitalist west

By the example of my country it is clear that everything taken to its extremes
is harmful: whether it`s a religion of any kind or atheism


2
i can`t say the westernes in general lack self-reflection. Growth of philosophy and psychology proves that it is not so. I don`t think it is a matter of concentration on materialistic or spiritual staff There is smth else. But my thought is not really clear now.
As well, i don`t think that the concept of 'moral' makes no sence outside the religion. It makes no sense only outside human society. BTW, 'good' and 'evel' are also functions dependant on such variable as particular form of society, or social strata. Since we are social beings and bound to live together - it can be one of the reasons to create rules regulating the behavior (Hammurappi`s (sp?), Mosaic, Roman and any other laws are the part of this moral system which evolves altogether with society)

I tend to think that religions will evolve (Christianity, at least, already accepted some scientific ideas). And i don`t see any reason why they have to change the name. If it is named after its founder (as Jesus Christ) it can easily keep the name. There are sveral branches already, they have some theological disagreements, they all differ from the earliest followers but they all still Christians. For me true Christian is the one who follows the Christ`s commandments, but not the one who follows the rituals of the institution called "religion"

3
It is noticed long ago that in US it is relation-based ecounter with God, sometimes up to befriending (no offence!). I remember Exupery wrote that this is the way one 'equalizes' God with oneself, brings Him on the same step of the ladder, it`s almost like bargain which puts away all these divine omni- properties.

Ok, i won`t speak about idea of heaven brought to everyone by Jesus, because most of those hypotetical "everyone" will find it offencive. I just ask one question: to believe in Jesus enough to face the heaven? Sorry, but i can`t help not being sarcastic.

And for the hundredth time on JRef about colour perception - my red is different from Maciamo`s red, from Pararousia`s and from someone else`s red.
BTW, eskimo people have at least 10 words for the differen hews of white (hope, i am not much mistaking in number :D)

well, i`ll stop for now, since i`ve lost the trace of the thought i`ve been following. What a pity for me, but blessing for you - less crap to read :D

Maciamo
23-09-05, 16:01
If there is no such thing as a god/deity/whatever you call it, the word "moral" makes no sense. Because so, how can anyone judge "moral" or "good" behaviour? :? What means the "good" behaviour or to do the "right" thing? Sometimes, people can feel that they want to do something, they feel it's somehow morally "right" or "good" even if there is maybe risk to themselves (going against the basic instincts for self-preservation), and even if they are not going to get any praise, glory etc. (e.g. no-one is around to see them do this "right" thing). People can feel like that even if they have no belief in a god or a "reward". Why? From where is the "moral" standard? (I am not being rhetorical, I am wondering really!)

So basically you think that anybody who does not believe in god cannot have morals. This is absolutely false. The sense of morality existed well before religions. It can be argued that some animals (e.g. dogs, dolphins...) can even behave morally. Buddhists do not believe in god, but have a developed moral. Most "strong atheists" have a moral based on reason and humanism. Ethics, one of the 4 main branches of philosophy, studies moral behaviours and values. Please read the article on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics). Humans are social beings, and life deprived of morals would mean an end to interpersonal relationships, Societies and civilisations cannot exist or proser without moral. My opinion is that religions such as Christianity and Islam have an outdated and unflexible moral code, and that unless they adapt to modern society, their effect on civilisation ends up doing more harm than good. Religions may be necessary to teach people who cannot think by themselves what is good and what is bad, but they should do it properly. The moral teachings of religions would be ok with me if they were reformed by contemporary philosophers to adjust them to our times. One of the main issue with Christianity is the ambiguous and metaphorical language used, so that everybody can understand the message differently (with potentially disastrous effects). Unless these religions are reformed, religious people will have potentially lower/more harmful morals than philosophical people.



Hear hear. I can't understand how anyone can seriously think if they simply believe in or trust in Jesus then somehow all their sins are forgiven and then you don't have to do any more "work"?

Well, that's something you have to discuss with Pararousia. For my part, I agree with you.


Not having known Jesus personally I can't pass an opinion on whether he was really pure or sinless. However, I think it's a bit harsh to blame him for the wars and violence that other people created.

If he was a mere mortal, then I agree with you. But if he was indeed one with god, or carried the message of god, then he should have known better and used less ambiguous language. The wars of religion that followed the Protestant Reformation were due to this ambiguity, and rivalries between interpretations continue to this day.


But if god (supposing for the sake of argument that it exists) created a perfectly happy world, that would mean taking away free will from human beings. This would reduce our world to something unimaginable to us... maybe more "happiness", but how much would we lose!?

Not necessarily. He could have created more naturally peaceful, sociable and amiable people, with all their free-will. Note that some people are naturally more aggressive, fight-picker, trouble-maker or confrontational than others. This is partly due to testosterone levels in blood. But god could have done better, that is sure.

Maciamo
23-09-05, 16:05
I understand that you did not mean to offend, but I understand why Maciamo found this offensive. First of all, you assume that you know better than Maciamo himself what is good for him, and that is not your place. Secondly, I find it offensive when someone prays for you without your permission. I call it 'spiritual rape'.

Thank you, Tsuyoiko. :-) Yes, I was spiritually raped. :(

Kinsao
23-09-05, 16:15
So basically you think that anybody who does not believe in god cannot have morals.

No, I believe I said at some point earlier that of course atheists can have "moral" behaviour. I was just wondering from where comes the standard by which we judge "moral" (whether it is human or animal "moral" behaviour even). Not disputing that such exists.

lexico
23-09-05, 16:24
I said at some point earlier that of course atheists can have "moral" behaviour. I was just wondering from where comes the standard by which we judge "moral" (whether it is human or animal "moral" behaviour even). Not disputing that such exists.Yes, I also remember you have. How about the golden standard ?

For example, (borrowing a Christian idea) "Do to others as you would have them do to you."
( from a Confucius idea), "Don't to anything to others that you wouldn't like when they do it to you."

Although these might be too simple to cover all possibilities, at least the principle seem to have universal quality of fairness and openness to empathy.

Revenant
24-09-05, 18:34
I was just thinking on this idea of repentence. Repentence requires one feel truely sorry for the harm one has done. But to truely feel sorry requires one already have an inherent or developed sense of empathy.

So while a Christian would argue that people can't get to heaven by being good, i.e. moral -> my definition -> empathetic, then only those who were already 'good' could get into heaven.

Does this make sense, or am I way off?

Pararousia
26-09-05, 00:08
Off-topics don't matter on forums like this one, as diverting discussions can be split into a new thread or merge with another any time. This is what I intend to do here soon. If you wanted to stay perfectly on topic, then we had to stop all discussions after giving a satistying definition of atheism.

Could a moderator put a disclaimer at the top of this thread because it says I started it and it's actually a split off from another thread?

Thanks.

Tsuyoiko
27-09-05, 16:55
1. To be just, one must give to another exactly what that individual deserves to get, no more and no less.
2. To be fair, one must treat everyone equally.
3. To be merciful is to give an individual more than what they deserve to get (in reward) or less than what they deserve to get (in punishment).
4. Being merciful is therefore unjust.
5. Unless everyone can be treated with the same degree of mercy or kindness, to be merciful or kind to any one person is to be unfair.Sorry to backtrack so far, but I just saw this quote:
Injustice arises when equals are treated unequally, and unequals are treated equallyNot sure if this is the right place to mention it, but can't see anywhere else, and just wanted to share the infinitely wise view of A C Grayling. He suggests that
by law no one's private beliefs should be allowed to cause a nuisance or an injury to anyone else