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Author Topic: Atheism to Orthodoxy  (Read 4509 times) Average Rating: 5
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Quid
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« Reply #45 on: October 04, 2010, 09:41:03 PM »

That's a good point, Quid - there is this annoying (yet very human) tendency to try and fit everyone into a "box" - here's the atheist box, you're an atheist, therefore you think and believe exactly what all other atheists believe - you MUST agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. !

And atheists do the same thing - if you're a Christian, no matter what variety, you have to climb into the same box with Fred Phelps and Jack Chick.

One of the things that pushed me closer to theism than to atheism is simply this:  each human being is so very different, once you get past the surface, that you really can't find enough boxes for everyone!  Grin

(That's not a proof of God, of course, more of a confirmation of a belief I was already leaning into. But you get the idea, I hope.  Cool )

Exactly. Things have qualifiers, beyond that its a buffet of ideals and opinions. I was atheist for a long long time and became Orthodox after having a religious experience in the Orthodox church. That is no way proof or evidence of God, but it gave me something and set me up to have faith. Faith and evidence are mutually exclusive. If you have one you can't have the other. Which makes a lot of sense in my book.
I agree. But I'll go one step further. Faith is something that is projected into some future event. If that future event were to happen at this moment. Faith would be realized and no longer needed. In other words. If you had Christ in front of you this moment you wouldn't need faith in him because He'd would be here now. faith would turn into evidence.
BTW. Welcome.

I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.
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« Reply #46 on: October 04, 2010, 10:01:23 PM »

That's a good point, Quid - there is this annoying (yet very human) tendency to try and fit everyone into a "box" - here's the atheist box, you're an atheist, therefore you think and believe exactly what all other atheists believe - you MUST agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. !

And atheists do the same thing - if you're a Christian, no matter what variety, you have to climb into the same box with Fred Phelps and Jack Chick.

One of the things that pushed me closer to theism than to atheism is simply this:  each human being is so very different, once you get past the surface, that you really can't find enough boxes for everyone!  Grin

(That's not a proof of God, of course, more of a confirmation of a belief I was already leaning into. But you get the idea, I hope.  Cool )

Exactly. Things have qualifiers, beyond that its a buffet of ideals and opinions. I was atheist for a long long time and became Orthodox after having a religious experience in the Orthodox church. That is no way proof or evidence of God, but it gave me something and set me up to have faith. Faith and evidence are mutually exclusive. If you have one you can't have the other. Which makes a lot of sense in my book.
I agree. But I'll go one step further. Faith is something that is projected into some future event. If that future event were to happen at this moment. Faith would be realized and no longer needed. In other words. If you had Christ in front of you this moment you wouldn't need faith in him because He'd would be here now. faith would turn into evidence.
BTW. Welcome.

I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?
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Quid
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« Reply #47 on: October 04, 2010, 10:02:04 PM »

That's a good point, Quid - there is this annoying (yet very human) tendency to try and fit everyone into a "box" - here's the atheist box, you're an atheist, therefore you think and believe exactly what all other atheists believe - you MUST agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. !

And atheists do the same thing - if you're a Christian, no matter what variety, you have to climb into the same box with Fred Phelps and Jack Chick.

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

One of the things that pushed me closer to theism than to atheism is simply this:  each human being is so very different, once you get past the surface, that you really can't find enough boxes for everyone!  Grin

(That's not a proof of God, of course, more of a confirmation of a belief I was already leaning into. But you get the idea, I hope.  Cool )

Exactly. Things have qualifiers, beyond that its a buffet of ideals and opinions. I was atheist for a long long time and became Orthodox after having a religious experience in the Orthodox church. That is no way proof or evidence of God, but it gave me something and set me up to have faith. Faith and evidence are mutually exclusive. If you have one you can't have the other. Which makes a lot of sense in my book.
I agree. But I'll go one step further. Faith is something that is projected into some future event. If that future event were to happen at this moment. Faith would be realized and no longer needed. In other words. If you had Christ in front of you this moment you wouldn't need faith in him because He'd would be here now. faith would turn into evidence.
BTW. Welcome.

I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?

Yes, faith is blind by nature.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2010, 10:04:56 PM by Quid » Logged

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« Reply #48 on: October 04, 2010, 10:13:44 PM »

I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

Can't say I agree, completely. To say true faith is only blind faith means the only reason for faith can be hope and wishful thinking.

Faith with reason(s), is a faith 'from' purpose. Id est, I believe because "of the fullness that I become when I pray", "the complexity of life", "the grandeur, order, and mortality of the universe", "the miracles that become of my faith", etc.
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« Reply #49 on: October 04, 2010, 10:17:27 PM »

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

I'd say that the exact opposite is true: it's impossible to have blind faith. IMO a process of conceptualizing or comprehending information must take place before you can have "faith" in something.
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« Reply #50 on: October 04, 2010, 10:20:43 PM »

I would say that a person's faith is ultimately justified by evidence, whether that be empirical or experiential. Otherwise, a person would have no good reason to choose one belief system over another; i.e. they would all be equally valid.
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« Reply #51 on: October 04, 2010, 10:22:29 PM »

I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

Can't say I agree, completely. To say true faith is only blind faith means the only reason for faith can be hope and wishful thinking.

Faith with reason(s), is a faith 'from' purpose. Id est, I believe because "of the fullness that I become when I pray", "the complexity of life", "the grandeur, order, and mortality of the universe", "the miracles that become of my faith", etc.

Well thats got more to do with the definition evidence moreso than the definition of faith.

When I say that faith and evidence are mutually exclusive I mean faith and empirical evidence. Faith and anecdotal evidence can certainly coexist. All the above situations you mentioned are anecdotal. The reason Im not longer an atheist is due to religious experience(s) I have had in the church. Those are anecdotal, not empirical, and can certainly coexist with faith.
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« Reply #52 on: October 04, 2010, 10:24:06 PM »

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

I'd say that the exact opposite is true: it's impossible to have blind faith. IMO a process of conceptualizing or comprehending information must take place before you can have "faith" in something.

Like I said before, I was referring to anecdotal evidence as opposed to empirical evidence.
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« Reply #53 on: October 04, 2010, 10:26:59 PM »

I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

Can't say I agree, completely. To say true faith is only blind faith means the only reason for faith can be hope and wishful thinking.

Faith with reason(s), is a faith 'from' purpose. Id est, I believe because "of the fullness that I become when I pray", "the complexity of life", "the grandeur, order, and mortality of the universe", "the miracles that become of my faith", etc.

Well thats got more to do with the definition evidence moreso than the definition of faith.

When I say that faith and evidence are mutually exclusive I mean faith and empirical evidence. Faith and anecdotal evidence can certainly coexist. All the above situations you mentioned are anecdotal. The reason Im not longer an atheist is due to religious experience(s) I have had in the church. Those are anecdotal, not empirical, and can certainly coexist with faith.

em·pir·i·cal   [em-pir-i-kuh l]
-adjective
1. derived from or guided by experience or experiment.
2. depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, especially as in medicine.
3. provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.

I think you mean hard evidence. As in, I know God exists because I just got off the phone with Him. BTW, he said that you little sister that died says hi.
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« Reply #54 on: October 04, 2010, 10:28:55 PM »

I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.
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« Reply #55 on: October 04, 2010, 10:33:11 PM »

I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

Can't say I agree, completely. To say true faith is only blind faith means the only reason for faith can be hope and wishful thinking.

Faith with reason(s), is a faith 'from' purpose. Id est, I believe because "of the fullness that I become when I pray", "the complexity of life", "the grandeur, order, and mortality of the universe", "the miracles that become of my faith", etc.

Well thats got more to do with the definition evidence moreso than the definition of faith.

When I say that faith and evidence are mutually exclusive I mean faith and empirical evidence. Faith and anecdotal evidence can certainly coexist. All the above situations you mentioned are anecdotal. The reason Im not longer an atheist is due to religious experience(s) I have had in the church. Those are anecdotal, not empirical, and can certainly coexist with faith.

em·pir·i·cal   [em-pir-i-kuh l]
-adjective
1. derived from or guided by experience or experiment.
2. depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, especially as in medicine.
3. provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.

I think you mean hard evidence. As in, I know God exists because I just got off the phone with Him. BTW, he said that you little sister that died says hi.

Number three there is about what I meant. Something at least testable.
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« Reply #56 on: October 04, 2010, 10:36:20 PM »

I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.
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« Reply #57 on: October 04, 2010, 10:51:28 PM »

I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.

Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.
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« Reply #58 on: October 04, 2010, 10:59:07 PM »

I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.

Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.

I would agree. It gives it direction and point. Its not really going to convince anyone but it does give an area of debate.

Also, going back to the days of my atheism I read that a lot of people say Jesus never existed due to little evidence of him. I brought it up to a Catholic who said "there is a religion based in his name, and in full swing, less than 100 years after his death, is that not evidence?" Which cleared it up for me. It doesn't prove a thing, but it does raise a good point.
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« Reply #59 on: October 04, 2010, 11:40:19 PM »

I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.

Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.

I would agree. It gives it direction and point. Its not really going to convince anyone but it does give an area of debate.

Also, going back to the days of my atheism I read that a lot of people say Jesus never existed due to little evidence of him. I brought it up to a Catholic who said "there is a religion based in his name, and in full swing, less than 100 years after his death, is that not evidence?" Which cleared it up for me. It doesn't prove a thing, but it does raise a good point.

That is another lie that is circulated. There is plenty of historical mention from the same time referencing Jesus. When I'm at my other computer tomorrow, I'll try to get you some sources.
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« Reply #60 on: October 05, 2010, 12:10:21 AM »

That is another lie that is circulated. There is plenty of historical mention from the same time referencing Jesus. When I'm at my other computer tomorrow, I'll try to get you some sources.

"From the same time"? Unless you have some references I'm not aware of, or we have different ideas as to what qualifies as "the same time," isn't that stretching it a bit? The extra-biblical Christian sources would seem to date to the mid-90's CE and later (Clement of Rome, Ignatius, etc.), and the non-Christian sources, with the possible exceptions of Mara bar Sarapion (c. 75 CE) and Josephus (c. 93 CE) would seem to date to the 2nd century or later (Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, etc.) Some would put certain Talmudic references in the late 1st century (70's CE or later), though it's my impression that these passages could just as well come from a hundred years later. So, unless I've got things wrong, there are no extra-biblical references to Jesus before the 70's CE... a gap of about 40 years. What's more, even the earliest New Testament writings were probably not written until the 50's CE, so there's a gap of 20 or so years (of course you could say that there were early versions of the gospels or sayings documents or whatever floating around, but that would be speculation, no?)
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« Reply #61 on: October 05, 2010, 12:44:18 AM »

The earliest written references we have to Jesus are in the letters of Paul (~50AD), none of which document Jesus' miracles (safe for the resurrection), parables, or details of his passion. There are no known contemporary references.
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« Reply #62 on: October 05, 2010, 12:45:04 AM »

Christianity: The belief that some cosmic Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.


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« Reply #63 on: October 05, 2010, 12:53:26 AM »

I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.

Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.

I would agree. It gives it direction and point. Its not really going to convince anyone but it does give an area of debate.

Also, going back to the days of my atheism I read that a lot of people say Jesus never existed due to little evidence of him. I brought it up to a Catholic who said "there is a religion based in his name, and in full swing, less than 100 years after his death, is that not evidence?" Which cleared it up for me. It doesn't prove a thing, but it does raise a good point.

Is it fair to say that Christianity was in "full swing" 100 years after Jesus' death? Didn't Christianity gain full strength only after Constantine I legalized it in the 4th century?
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« Reply #64 on: October 05, 2010, 01:02:55 AM »

I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.

Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.

I would agree. It gives it direction and point. Its not really going to convince anyone but it does give an area of debate.

Also, going back to the days of my atheism I read that a lot of people say Jesus never existed due to little evidence of him. I brought it up to a Catholic who said "there is a religion based in his name, and in full swing, less than 100 years after his death, is that not evidence?" Which cleared it up for me. It doesn't prove a thing, but it does raise a good point.

Is it fair to say that Christianity was in "full swing" 100 years after Jesus' death? Didn't Christianity gain full strength only after Constantine I legalized it in the 4th century?

I mean in the sense that it was being practiced by people in a spread distance. As opposed to only the apostles.
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« Reply #65 on: October 05, 2010, 01:05:55 AM »

Didn't Christianity gain full strength only after Constantine I legalized it in the 4th century?

No, actually, it was when Theodosius I recognized it as the Imperial religion in 380.
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« Reply #66 on: October 05, 2010, 02:17:50 AM »

Quote from: Ortho_cat
"I just didn't see any reason to believe in a God, nor did I see any compelling evidence that would lead me to believe there was one."
Quote
"The thing that I would find most difficult isn't regaining a belief in some sort of divine force, it is in the bible itself. I've literally gone through dozens of critiques that point to so-called contradictions, scientific innacuracies, and atrocities in the bible. Is there any turning back from this point? How can I regain my faith in a book that I've spent 6 months tearing down during my research?"

Check this out:

Jesus the Christ Is the Fulfillment of the Old Testament... Mathematical Verification Through the Science of Probability That Jesus Has Fulfilled All of The Old Testament Prophecies Concerning His Coming

†IC XC†
†NI KA†

Could you please post a portion of this blog post that you find relevant to this discussion?  Thank you.


2) Links to one's own blog as a means of advertisement, without citing the relevant part of the blog that the author is quoting, are not allowed.  However, alerting users to another blog is acceptable as long as it is relevant to a thread.

OK?... though I would have thought the relevancy to be obvious, given the quotes from Ortho_cat which I led my post with.

I did not post the link "as a means of advertisement"... I thought it was relevant.
 
Ortho_cat was (is) looking for "compelling evidence" that might lead him to believe that there really is a God.

I think that the Old Testament and the New Testament alone (together) go a long way towards providing that "compelling evidence" by demonstrating the clear fulfillment of the prophecies regarding the Christ, Jesus.

Quote
"There are hundreds of fulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament relating to Jesus being Christ (at least 456). What are the chances that one Man (Who was born and died where and when the prophets said He would be) could fulfill them all to become the Saviour of the world?

In the late sixties, a man named Peter Stoner who was Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College in Santa Barbara California, calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Christ. The estimates were worked out by himself and twelve different classes under his supervision representing some 600 university students.

(...) After examining only eight different prophecies, they conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 1017 (100,000,000,000,000,000).

(...) But, of course, there are many more than eight prophecies. In another calculation, Stoner used 48 prophecies (even though he could have used 456 or possibly more), and arrived at the still extremely conservative estimate that the probability of 48 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is the incredible number of one in 10157.

How large is the number one in 10157? 10157 contains 157 zeros!

Just for fun, I’ll reproduce it here: 1 chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Stoner gives an illustration of this number using electrons. Electrons are very small objects. They’re smaller than atoms. It would take more than 2.5 TIMES 1,000,000,000,000,000 of them, laid side by side, to make one inch. Even if we counted 250 of these electrons each minute, and counted day and night, it would still take 19 million years just to count a line of electrons one-inch long.

With this introduction, let’s go back to our chance of one in 10157. Let’s suppose that we’re taking this number of electrons, marking one, and thoroughly stirring it into the whole mass, then blindfolding a man and letting him try to find the right one. What chance does he have of finding the one that’s marked?

This is the result from considering a mere 48 prophecies. Obviously, the probability that over 450 prophecies would be fulfilled in one man by chance is vastly smaller. Once one goes past one chance in 1050, the probabilities are so small that it is all but impossible to think that they will ever occur.

As Stoner concludes in his book (Science Speaks, Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), “Any man who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact, proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world.” (Stoner, op. cit., 112)

God so thoroughly vindicated Jesus Christ that even mathematicians and statisticians, who were without faith, had to acknowledge that it is scientifically impossible to deny that Jesus is the Christ."

Come to think of it... I think this also provides "compelling evidence" that all of these things are not the result of chance but are the fingerprints of the handiwork of God:

Evidence For the Historical Jesus of Nazareth Pt. II - The Star of Bethlehem

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« Reply #67 on: October 05, 2010, 03:11:23 AM »

This probability study was never compelling to me (even when I was a believer) because of the possibility of two alternative scenarios:

a) the old testament prophecies could have been taken out of context to appear to match the new testament gospels.

b) the gospels could have been written to accomodate the old testament prophecies.

Thanks for the input, but I have been over this and most other evidence for Christianity before. I've studied similar types of evidence carefully before I discovered Orthodoxy, because I wanted to make sure Christianity was the right path for me. I think that my conversion back to the faith will be based not on intellectual basis (which I have attempted to do in the past) but on personal experience. If I sincerely want to believe, I have faith that Orthodoxy will provide me with the tools to be able to do so.
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« Reply #68 on: October 05, 2010, 03:34:12 AM »

If I sincerely want to believe, I have faith that Orthodoxy will provide me with the tools to be able to do so.
That's tautological. "I believe because I believe." If that's so you can believe just about anything and be convinced.

The faith, if it were to have any weight behind it, must be backed up either by evidence or the grace of the sacraments.
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« Reply #69 on: October 05, 2010, 04:21:20 AM »

If I sincerely want to believe, I have faith that Orthodoxy will provide me with the tools to be able to do so.
That's tautological. "I believe because I believe." If that's so you can believe just about anything and be convinced.

The faith, if it were to have any weight behind it, must be backed up either by evidence or the grace of the sacraments.

If I were to say "I believe because I want to believe" would that be the same thing?
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« Reply #70 on: October 05, 2010, 10:17:28 AM »

Identifying god is the first process to faith. When I state identifying. I don't mean in a physical sense and by evidence.  Let us say that we had a friend or family member that we loved and held dear. If that member is deceased we can still know that person because of there personality. That personality is identifiable to us. The physical aspects are gone and yet we can know this person even though they may not be with us. There recognition isn't based on physical attributes any longer.  Now the recognition of god is the same relationship but only is reverse. We read and meet people that have a little piece of what we see or read as being god. When we take all of the good qualities of man an piece them together we get a picture of what god is. Gods personality is what draws us to him. God is known through personality and the perfection of that personallity. The question remains. How do we know that this personality is god and not our imagination. The proof of this is in the beginnings of people. If we go back to the infancy of man. Either 6000 or one million year. There is no reason for the first man to know what "good" is. The knowledge of good is given. God had communication with man for the personality of good to exist.  That is the closest evidence of where the existence of god can be seen. The identification of his personality and the impact it left on mankind. Why is man good and not a beast? There is absolutely no reason for it other than learning it from god himself. Good is a behavior that is learned. The proof that god exists is because good people exist.
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« Reply #71 on: October 05, 2010, 10:42:35 AM »

That "Stoner from the '60's" story just turns me off, man.  Sorry, but I just don't buy it AT   ALL.  And all those other urban legends where some skeptical scientist has that "Eureka!" moment of "proving" Christianity true always seem to fall apart on closer examination.  (A quick search of Snopes.com turns up dozens of 'em.)

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« Reply #72 on: October 05, 2010, 11:44:03 AM »

There is no reason for the first man to know what "good" is. The knowledge of good is given. God had communication with man for the personality of good to exist.  That is the closest evidence of where the existence of god can be seen. The identification of his personality and the impact it left on mankind. Why is man good and not a beast? There is absolutely no reason for it other than learning it from god himself. Good is a behavior that is learned. The proof that god exists is because good people exist.

Actually morals are a product of evolution. Those that were moral lived to reproduce, those that didn't killed each other off or didn't function properly to reproduce and pass that trait on. Morality has to exist on a large level for a social population to function.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_morality

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism#Scientific_viewpoints

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« Reply #73 on: October 05, 2010, 12:50:01 PM »

Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.

I would agree. It gives it direction and point. Its not really going to convince anyone but it does give an area of debate.

Also, going back to the days of my atheism I read that a lot of people say Jesus never existed due to little evidence of him. I brought it up to a Catholic who said "there is a religion based in his name, and in full swing, less than 100 years after his death, is that not evidence?" Which cleared it up for me. It doesn't prove a thing, but it does raise a good point.

That is another lie that is circulated. There is plenty of historical mention from the same time referencing Jesus. When I'm at my other computer tomorrow, I'll try to get you some sources.

Here:
Quote
"Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works--a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.

"He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those who loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day"
(Antiquities, XVIII, III). [Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, born in A.D. 37]

Quote
"derived their name and origin from Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate"
(Annals 15.44) Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 CE)

Quote
On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Savior falls on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth--manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period. (XVIII.1)
Julius Africanus, History of the World, c. 220 - concerning Thallus (c. 50-75 AD)


Others:
-Letter from Pliny the Younger to Trajan (c. 110)
-Suetonius (Lives of the Caesars, c. 125)
-Lucian (mid-2nd century)
-Galen (c.150; De pulsuum differentiis 2.4; 3.3)
-Celsus (True Discourse, c.170).
-Mara Bar Serapion (pre-200?)
-Talmudic References (written after 300 CE, but some refs probably go back to eyewitnesses)
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« Reply #74 on: October 05, 2010, 12:52:43 PM »

One pesky little question: if Flavius Josephus believed all these things about Jesus were true, why didn't he become a Christian?
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« Reply #75 on: October 05, 2010, 01:19:21 PM »

One pesky little question: if Flavius Josephus believed all these things about Jesus were true, why didn't he become a Christian?

He acknowledges he was a real person with real events (crucified under Pontius Pilatus). That does not necessarily mean he believed everything else.

After all, there were lots of people who saw Jesus' crucifixion. Did all those who watched the crucifixion become Christian?
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« Reply #76 on: October 05, 2010, 01:30:30 PM »

Did you know most historians think some of that stuff in Josephus was added later?
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« Reply #77 on: October 05, 2010, 01:36:05 PM »

Did you know most historians think some of that stuff in Josephus was added later?

Some historians think that was added later, some think some of the other quotes were manipulated, some think Mark 16:16-20 was added later. Many think they were not. We're talking about religion, of course there will be those that are skeptical.

Do you intend to ask your questions in a condescending tone?
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« Reply #78 on: October 05, 2010, 01:46:42 PM »

and an acceptance of some mystery and that not everything can be explained with our current knowledge.
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« Reply #79 on: October 05, 2010, 09:33:58 PM »

and an acceptance of some mystery and that not everything can be explained with our current knowledge.

This is fair. I think this statement can be accepted by someone without necessarily injecting supernatural beliefs, however.
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« Reply #80 on: October 05, 2010, 09:40:21 PM »

and an acceptance of some mystery and that not everything can be explained with our current knowledge.

This is fair. I think this statement can be accepted by someone without necessarily injecting supernatural beliefs, however.
Those who think that there is no system outside of our current system are actually claiming infallible omniscience. They claim that all things fit into the known natural order. But to claim that they must know everything there is to know all things. Thus, materialists claim omniscience.
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« Reply #81 on: October 05, 2010, 11:52:49 PM »

First of all, I just want to say that I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts in this thread. I can really appreciate this matter as I, too, as a fairly new Orthodox Christian, having approached the tradition from a history of agnosticism, atheism, and eventually a full-throttle investigation of all religions, struggle with these very same questions. When I have really despaired, one of the things that has brought me back to practicing my faith is the existence of the saints. Somewhere I read that Christ is proved real by His saints. One can accept that even if only from a practical point of view, without mythology or metaphysical speculation. Men and women have, within the context of the Church, become transformed over time into saintly, loving, wise, peaceful, Christ-like people (of course, as Orthodox Christians, we would say that they have achieved some level of theosis and that many of them were miracle-workers).

I also have found Karen Armstrong's writing to be quite helpful. She separates the human capacity for thinking logically from that of thinking "mythically", claiming that both should be able to function for an individual without interfering with one another. She also points out that religion is really a practical enterprise, and that to have faith - that is, to commit wholeheartedly to the spiritual life within a particular religious context - is first a matter of doing, not a matter of thinking, knowing or even firmly believing. One must wholeheartedly and with grave determination engage the entirety of the religion - myths, parables, rituals, liturgies, and ascetic practices - wholeheartedly, in order for it to "work" and to reveal to the individual its mysteries. In other words, religion must be lived, not "thought". The Christian mystics (or hesychasts) show us that discursive thought alone cannot lead one to God, and that, eventually, we have to break through the constant static of our reasoning minds and become still (hesychia).

But I struggle with over-thinking all the time, and have been very unstable in my orientation because of it. And I am also very often guilty of the "egocentric sensualism" that someone else helpfully wrote of earlier in this thread... thanks for that post!
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« Reply #82 on: October 06, 2010, 12:06:44 AM »

One pesky little question: if Flavius Josephus believed all these things about Jesus were true, why didn't he become a Christian?
Luke 14:25 Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, 26 "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build, and was not able to finish.' 31 Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. 33 So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple

Josephus Problem
The problem is named after Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian living in the 1st century. According to Josephus' account of the siege of Yodfat, he and his 40 comrade soldiers were trapped in a cave, the exit of which is blocked by Romans. They chose suicide over capture and decided that they would form a circle and start killing themselves using a step of three. Josephus states that by luck or maybe by the hand of God (modern scholars point out that Josephus was a well educated scholar and predicted the outcome), he and another man remained the last and gave up to the Romans.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_problem
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« Reply #83 on: October 06, 2010, 01:38:04 AM »

and an acceptance of some mystery and that not everything can be explained with our current knowledge.

This is fair. I think this statement can be accepted by someone without necessarily injecting supernatural beliefs, however.
Those who think that there is no system outside of our current system are actually claiming infallible omniscience. They claim that all things fit into the known natural order. But to claim that they must know everything there is to know all things. Thus, materialists claim omniscience.


Or they can choose to remain unconvinced of supernatural claims until sufficient evidence presents itself. Again, "sufficient evidence" here will vary according to each person. Here the naturalist is not making any positive  assertion, they are simply rejecting the theist's claim based on a lack of substantive evidence.
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« Reply #84 on: October 06, 2010, 01:42:22 AM »

First of all, I just want to say that I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts in this thread. I can really appreciate this matter as I, too, as a fairly new Orthodox Christian, having approached the tradition from a history of agnosticism, atheism, and eventually a full-throttle investigation of all religions, struggle with these very same questions. When I have really despaired, one of the things that has brought me back to practicing my faith is the existence of the saints. Somewhere I read that Christ is proved real by His saints. One can accept that even if only from a practical point of view, without mythology or metaphysical speculation. Men and women have, within the context of the Church, become transformed over time into saintly, loving, wise, peaceful, Christ-like people (of course, as Orthodox Christians, we would say that they have achieved some level of theosis and that many of them were miracle-workers).

I also have found Karen Armstrong's writing to be quite helpful. She separates the human capacity for thinking logically from that of thinking "mythically", claiming that both should be able to function for an individual without interfering with one another. She also points out that religion is really a practical enterprise, and that to have faith - that is, to commit wholeheartedly to the spiritual life within a particular religious context - is first a matter of doing, not a matter of thinking, knowing or even firmly believing. One must wholeheartedly and with grave determination engage the entirety of the religion - myths, parables, rituals, liturgies, and ascetic practices - wholeheartedly, in order for it to "work" and to reveal to the individual its mysteries. In other words, religion must be lived, not "thought". The Christian mystics (or hesychasts) show us that discursive thought alone cannot lead one to God, and that, eventually, we have to break through the constant static of our reasoning minds and become still (hesychia).

But I struggle with over-thinking all the time, and have been very unstable in my orientation because of it. And I am also very often guilty of the "egocentric sensualism" that someone else helpfully wrote of earlier in this thread... thanks for that post!

Excellent and very helpful post! Welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #85 on: October 06, 2010, 03:15:59 AM »

I converted from atheism to Orthodoxy, with some other steps along my path.  I grew up in a nominally-Christian (Baptist) family and abandoned Christianity at an earlier age than I can remember.  I stayed in this undefined state for a good long while before developing a budding interest in Buddhism and Taoism (initially just out of an interest in practical meditation).  After a few years of searching through various East-Asian religious and philosophical idea systems I got tired of them due to several factors. 

I became a staunch atheist and began reading Friedrich Nietzsche, who I came to believe was the greatest genius the world has ever seen (I think I ended up reading every work he wrote, as well as dozens of works about him, and wanted for a while to be a Nietzsche-scholar).  I specifically remember walking around in the countryside one day and joyously screaming aloud "There is no God".  It felt very liberating for some reason, like a great pressure or burden that I had not even noticed had been lifted.  I began to hate everyone and considered every person I met to be scum, as this is essentially what Nietzsche said the majority of people were.  I even read Anton LaVey's "The Satanic Bible", considering it to be the ultimate fulfillment of Nietzsche's philosophy.

But then an act of kindness by a couple of classmates in college caused me to change my views of humanity.  I decided to look into "religion" again but still refused to consider Christianity.  I got really deep into Theravada Buddhism again during a summer and developed a regular and rigorous meditation practice.  I became interested in monasticism, and seriously considered becoming a Buddhist monk.  Then the thought hit me, "hey, aren't there Christians who live monastic lives too?"  I figured that even if I was just going to study monasticism as an interesting social dynamic from a scholarly perspective, I should know where Christian monasticism was coming from.  I felt a sudden urge one day to read the Gospels, an impulse that until then I considered the height of stupidity.  So I picked up the Bible and the first passage I came to was John 4:14:

but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

I realized that I had been thirsting this whole time, going from philosophy to philosophy, but nothing had ever quenched that thirst.  So I decided to try Christianity.  I was heavily influenced at this early time by Roman Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft, as well as other Christian apologists.  I was a very gradual process, and at first entirely intellectual.  It was simply stupendous to find that there were some people out there intelligently defending the faith (even if some of them were a bit misguided).  I was very frustrated, however, at how many different groups there were out there who claimed to be Christian but who had some very different beliefs, ideas, and practices.  I did not know where to belong.  At this time I still considered prayer to be silly, to be honest, and I did not even attempt it. The first time I did pray, though, was at a time of agonizing frustration over finding true Christianity, and I asked that God lead me to the Christian Church.  Only a few days after, I discovered the Orthodox Church.

I am now a catechumen.  I have spent my time since converting doing intensive study of Christian history and the Church Fathers, but most importantly I am actually praying, going to Church services, and altering my ways to follow Christ.  I feel that by doing these things I am filling some space that had always been empty before. I say with all sincerity that only a year and a half ago if someone told me that I would become a Christian I would have told them that they were crazy. Mine was not a sudden "aha" conversion but was a very gradual and often painful one.  I still go through times of doubt.  I often wonder "why Christianity?  Why not Buddhism or Vedanta something?", and sometimes these questions consume me, but I always come out of these periods much more strong in my faith than I was before. I probably could not label one factor or event as the reason I converted, but my conversion to Orthodoxy has seemed to be the fulfillment of everything that came before in my life, and for the first time I feel at home.
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« Reply #86 on: October 06, 2010, 03:32:17 AM »

Thanks all for the replies and prayers.

One thing that I seem to keep coming back to in my mind is that the human brain wants religion. It instinctively wants to believe in an afterlife. It wants to believe that the universe isn't ultimately destined for an eventual heat death. The idea that there is no grand purpose for the universe seems repulsive. The idea that we are ultimately nothing but a manifestation of our brain's conciousness, which by itself is nothing but a series of complex chemical reactions seems incomprehensible.

Are these instinctive desires simply a malfunction or side-effect of our brains higher cognitive functions? Perhaps, but it is certainly much more palatable to think that this need for religion is purposeful and not just an accident of nature.

We are wired for not only sex, and to be social, but we are also wired to be religious. This is probably why atheistic communist countries will always fail to be truly communist.

This is probably why the French Revolution failed as well. They started to literally worship liberty and reason.

We will always be religious, there is no way in getting around it. Atheists will eventually only form another religion......it's inevitable.

Atheist want to rewrite our programming, but no matter how hard they try, they will eventually fall prey to it.


Like you I believe our being wired this way is purposeful. It is not an accident. And so instead of trying to destroy it, we need to simply redirect it.

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« Reply #87 on: October 06, 2010, 08:56:06 AM »

I still go through times of doubt.  I often wonder "why Christianity?  Why not Buddhism or Vedanta something?", and sometimes these questions consume me, but I always come out of these periods much more strong in my faith than I was before. I probably could not label one factor or event as the reason I converted, but my conversion to Orthodoxy has seemed to be the fulfillment of everything that came before in my life, and for the first time I feel at home.

Hi Taylor,

I, too, was a huge fan of Nietzsche for a long time, and used to carry "Thus Spake Zarathustra" around like a bible in my high-school years. Your approach to Christianity sounds very similar to my own, as I traversed to Orthodoxy from an interest and some participation in Buddhism, Vedanta, etc. Have you ever read anything by James S.Cutsinger? He is a professor of religion in America, and is both a perennialist (as in the Perennial Philosophy) and an Orthodox Christian. He is a brilliant writer and thinker, and has a keen interest also in Vedanta, Sufism, Buddhism, etc. His webpage is here: http://www.cutsinger.net/. I'd also like to recommend the book "Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works", if you haven't encountered it already. While he is a controversial figure to some, you'd certainly find some common ground with him, his search for truth, and his story of conversion.

Thanks you for sharing your story.
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"The kingdom of heaven is virtuous life, just as the torment of hell is passionate habits." - St. Gregory of Sinai

"Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him." - Thomas Merton
stavros_388
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« Reply #88 on: October 06, 2010, 09:00:02 AM »

But I struggle with over-thinking all the time, and have been very unstable in my orientation because of it. And I am also very often guilty of the "egocentric sensualism" that someone else helpfully wrote of earlier in this thread... thanks for that post!

Excellent and very helpful post! Welcome to the forum!

Thanks for that, Ortho_cat!
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"The kingdom of heaven is virtuous life, just as the torment of hell is passionate habits." - St. Gregory of Sinai

"Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him." - Thomas Merton
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« Reply #89 on: October 06, 2010, 02:16:19 PM »

an observation I have made of people that have converted to Eastern Orthodox is that most of them(us) seem to have been through many iterations before concluding with Orthodoxy and that most of their (our) former steps have been dabbles and have never had the finality (at the start of that dabble) that people have with Orthodoxy. Obviously something that you might not feel if born into an Orthodox family but may give some comfort to those that lapse or doubt - i.e. the people that have searched have found something final in Orthodoxy - this must mean something! well it does feel that way t me  Smiley
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