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livefreeordie
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« Reply #45 on: December 07, 2010, 10:32:23 PM »

but I eventually realized that this world-view of atheistic nihilism was utterly unnacceptable to me, and rendered all life ultimately meaningless and without purpose.

You have yet to arrive at the understanding that meaning and purpose are self-defined, I see.

Now, now, before you go crying that service to your god gives you meaning and purpose, ponder this: you chose to do those things. You assigned your own meaning, and purpose.

The only difference 'twixt thee and me is that your choice is self-abnegating, while mine is self-affirming.

Interesting, considering that your posting here increasingly seems to be an attempt to gain affirmation.
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theistgal
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don't even go there!


« Reply #46 on: December 07, 2010, 10:40:07 PM »

One thing it took me a long time, and at least two forays into full-blown atheism, to realize is that believers are actually MORE intellectually free than nonbelievers.

Why?  Because believers can, and do, freely express their doubts about whether or not God exists, and can expect to receive sympathy and understanding from most other believers, because most of us know that we can't be 100% sure of anything rrgarding God. Unless we're arrogant and prideful, we know that we don't know everything, and that we could be wrong.

But what happens to an atheist who suddenly starts doubting her atheism?  Well, I can tell you from personal experience - she either keeps it to herself, or gets trashed for being "weak", "emitional", "stupid", etc., by her fellow nonbelievers.  Doubt is FORBIDDEN - we KNOW there are no deities and anyone who thinks otherwise is just an idiot.

Give me the "shackles" of belief any day.
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« Reply #47 on: December 07, 2010, 11:40:24 PM »

One thing it took me a long time, and at least two forays into full-blown atheism, to realize is that believers are actually MORE intellectually free than nonbelievers.

Why?  Because believers can, and do, freely express their doubts about whether or not God exists, and can expect to receive sympathy and understanding from most other believers, because most of us know that we can't be 100% sure of anything rrgarding God. Unless we're arrogant and prideful, we know that we don't know everything, and that we could be wrong.

But what happens to an atheist who suddenly starts doubting her atheism?  Well, I can tell you from personal experience - she either keeps it to herself, or gets trashed for being "weak", "emitional", "stupid", etc., by her fellow nonbelievers.  Doubt is FORBIDDEN - we KNOW there are no deities and anyone who thinks otherwise is just an idiot.

Give me the "shackles" of belief any day.

Good post
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« Reply #48 on: December 07, 2010, 11:42:17 PM »

but I eventually realized that this world-view of atheistic nihilism was utterly unnacceptable to me, and rendered all life ultimately meaningless and without purpose.
You have yet to arrive at the understanding that meaning and purpose are self-defined, I see.
Now, now, before you go crying that service to your god gives you meaning and purpose, ponder this: you chose to do those things. You assigned your own meaning, and purpose.
The only difference 'twixt thee and me is that your choice is self-abnegating, while mine is self-affirming.
Interesting, considering that your posting here increasingly seems to be an attempt to gain affirmation.
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« Reply #49 on: December 08, 2010, 02:02:16 AM »

but I eventually realized that this world-view of atheistic nihilism was utterly unnacceptable to me, and rendered all life ultimately meaningless and without purpose.

You have yet to arrive at the understanding that meaning and purpose are self-defined, I see.

Now, now, before you go crying that service to your god gives you meaning and purpose, ponder this: you chose to do those things. You assigned your own meaning, and purpose.

The only difference 'twixt thee and me is that your choice is self-abnegating, while mine is self-affirmingdeluding.
Fixed that for you.
Wasn't broken, thanks. I wish you could have my life. You'd be happy with yourself.

Quote
You assUme that we have not pondered such things.
No, I can tell that you've given this much thought. I simply disagree with your results, likely because we input different starting values.

Quote
Few things, of course, are further from the Truth.  Indeed, that is why we chose to do them. Take for instance the Creed. The Fathers teach that you cannot say "I believe" (where English gets the term "Credo") until you make it your own.

Of course, one can reject the Creed or just give it lip service, but that changes you, not the Creed.  One can choose to obey the Law of Gravity, assign your own meaning and purpose to it. Or you can be self-affirming and jump off the nearest cliff. How's that for self-abnegation?
Analogy fail. Gravity brooks no disobedience, nor does it demand obeisance, nor does it forgive even if you repent your disbelief right before you hit the ground.

You may've thought much about your faith, but you've obviously not thought about gravity that much.

I stand by what I said: Christianity is a self-abnegating cult of death.
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don't even go there!


« Reply #50 on: December 08, 2010, 02:31:10 AM »

No, it's not.  But you're perfectly free to reject it if you choose.

Just don't tell us we must reject it too.  That's above your pay grade.
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« Reply #51 on: December 08, 2010, 02:45:19 AM »


I stand by what I said: Christianity is a self-abnegating cult of death.

 I've heard of Christianity being called a lot of things, but a 'Cult of Death'?  You've clearly either been devouring Chick tracts or have not been paying attention.  Or, as others have charged, your weltanschauung is one of complete nihilism (in which case even this conversation is pointless for you but begs the question of why start it in the first place?)  

 Rather than being a 'Cult of Death', Christianity seeks to affirm life right here, right now.  The 'Pie-In-The-Sky' philosophy, (you know, the one where adherents are hyper-focused on the After Life), is not a part of Eastern Orthodox thought or doctrine.  I would even go so far as to argue that, for an Orthodox Christian, there is no afterlife; simply a continuation of this life, albeit in a deified or completely destitute manner.  Despite what Rick Warren or other folks would have you believe, the purpose of the Christian life is one of Theosis.  In order for this to happen, certain aspects of our lives are to die.  But these are things like selfishness, pride, the ego, apathy, etc... Christ doesn't ask us foresake this life, but to deify it.  That is, destroy the sinful old man and put on the New Man.  Think about what that means.
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« Reply #52 on: December 08, 2010, 03:08:16 AM »

 Western Catholic Christianity did bring a lot of darkness into the world...So it can be called the cult of death...




but I eventually realized that this world-view of atheistic nihilism was utterly unnacceptable to me, and rendered all life ultimately meaningless and without purpose.

You have yet to arrive at the understanding that meaning and purpose are self-defined, I see.

Now, now, before you go crying that service to your god gives you meaning and purpose, ponder this: you chose to do those things. You assigned your own meaning, and purpose.

The only difference 'twixt thee and me is that your choice is self-abnegating, while mine is self-affirmingdeluding.
Fixed that for you.
Wasn't broken, thanks. I wish you could have my life. You'd be happy with yourself.

Quote
You assUme that we have not pondered such things.
No, I can tell that you've given this much thought. I simply disagree with your results, likely because we input different starting values.

Quote
Few things, of course, are further from the Truth.  Indeed, that is why we chose to do them. Take for instance the Creed. The Fathers teach that you cannot say "I believe" (where English gets the term "Credo") until you make it your own.

Of course, one can reject the Creed or just give it lip service, but that changes you, not the Creed.  One can choose to obey the Law of Gravity, assign your own meaning and purpose to it. Or you can be self-affirming and jump off the nearest cliff. How's that for self-abnegation?
Analogy fail. Gravity brooks no disobedience, nor does it demand obeisance, nor does it forgive even if you repent your disbelief right before you hit the ground.

You may've thought much about your faith, but you've obviously not thought about gravity that much.

I stand by what I said: Christianity is a self-abnegating cult of death.
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« Reply #53 on: December 08, 2010, 05:46:42 AM »

Let's look at the Christian view on the afterlife. You get to spend literal eternity in infinite torment, just for not believing in one of the thousands of gods.

Yes, Yahweh is certainly a god of love, isn't he?
So you want to take Him for granted like an adulterer, and then complain when He leaves you.
I don't think your analogy quite fits, but thanks for trying.

Well, considering God is the very reason any of us, and the universe altogether, exist, I would say it is quite apt.
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« Reply #54 on: December 08, 2010, 05:49:35 AM »


as I progress in atheism.

How on earth does one "progress" in the belief that there is no God?
Are you saying that belief in a God or Gods helps to give you purpose and a reason for your existence. If this were the case I can understand some Christians struggle with understanding an Atheist or Agnostic view to life and death.

No, I was asking you how on earth you are capable in progressing in a non-belief in theism, not stating my own beliefs.

My answer, although of course I can only speak for myself, is that the no God/s viewpoint is liberating, builds independence and helps toward a higher level of free will. In this way it can be extremely fulfilling and rewarding. The progression is the journey of life and trying to make sense of it, finding out what is important and being able to live a fulfilling life.

And yet you yourself claim there is no higher purpose, and therefore, no "sense" to be made of it. And whatever importance and fulfillment you derive from life is ultimately meaningless as it is purely subjective.
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« Reply #55 on: December 08, 2010, 05:56:52 AM »

but I eventually realized that this world-view of atheistic nihilism was utterly unnacceptable to me, and rendered all life ultimately meaningless and without purpose.

You have yet to arrive at the understanding that meaning and purpose are self-defined, I see.

Now, now, before you go crying that service to your god gives you meaning and purpose, ponder this: you chose to do those things. You assigned your own meaning, and purpose.

The only difference 'twixt thee and me is that your choice is self-abnegating, while mine is self-affirmingdeluding.
Fixed that for you.
Wasn't broken, thanks. I wish you could have my life. You'd be happy with yourself.

A belief in one's own existence being ultimately pointless leading to existential despair can't be that much fun.


I stand by what I said: Christianity is a self-abnegating cult of death.

Correct, death to the world.


"The last true rebellion is death to the world. To be crucified to the world and the world to us."

--Monk Justin Martyr, Death to the World
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 05:58:22 AM by laconicstudent » Logged
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« Reply #56 on: December 08, 2010, 07:18:53 AM »

Man, this guy gives atheists a bad name.
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ialmisry
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« Reply #57 on: December 08, 2010, 10:14:55 AM »

but I eventually realized that this world-view of atheistic nihilism was utterly unnacceptable to me, and rendered all life ultimately meaningless and without purpose.

You have yet to arrive at the understanding that meaning and purpose are self-defined, I see.

Now, now, before you go crying that service to your god gives you meaning and purpose, ponder this: you chose to do those things. You assigned your own meaning, and purpose.

The only difference 'twixt thee and me is that your choice is self-abnegating, while mine is self-affirmingdeluding.
Fixed that for you.
Wasn't broken, thanks.

Quite broken. But since you are quite broken, I can see how you miss that.

I wish you could have my life.

Why? You don't want it?

You'd be happy with yourself.

I'm happy with myself now, though always interested in improvement.

You assUme that we have not pondered such things.
No, I can tell that you've given this much thought. I simply disagree with your results, likely because we input different starting values.

I didn't rig my results. I can't speak for you as to what exactly how you fixed yours.  Have you answered yet the question about whether you admit of ultimate Truth or how it (we know He) is found?

Few things, of course, are further from the Truth.  Indeed, that is why we chose to do them. Take for instance the Creed. The Fathers teach that you cannot say "I believe" (where English gets the term "Credo") until you make it your own.

Of course, one can reject the Creed or just give it lip service, but that changes you, not the Creed.  One can choose to obey the Law of Gravity, assign your own meaning and purpose to it. Or you can be self-affirming and jump off the nearest cliff. How's that for self-abnegation?
Analogy fail.[/quote]
Because you don't like it?

Gravity brooks no disobedience,

Ever been on an airplane? Seen a rocket?

Quote
nor does it demand obeisance,

Jump off that cliff and see how much it doesn't.

Quote
nor does it forgive even if you repent your disbelief right before you hit the ground.

LOL. "Analogy fail," but it fails for you.  You seem to have a mechanical view of Faith and repentance: were you a "Once saved always saved" Born Againer?

Quote
You may've thought much about your faith, but you've obviously not thought about gravity that much.

Oh, you didn't mention your PhD in Physics.

Quote
I stand by what I said:

you are stumbling, and quite badly.

Quote
Christianity is a self-abnegating cult of death.

You stated that you are not American/in America IIRC.  Where are you from, because you seem to be quite confused on Christianity in general and Orthodox Christianity in particular. If you are not in America, maybe you are not aware of what a self-abnegating cult of death looks like, like the botox cult here.
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« Reply #58 on: December 08, 2010, 10:24:20 AM »

but I eventually realized that this world-view of atheistic nihilism was utterly unnacceptable to me, and rendered all life ultimately meaningless and without purpose.
You have yet to arrive at the understanding that meaning and purpose are self-defined, I see.
Now, now, before you go crying that service to your god gives you meaning and purpose, ponder this: you chose to do those things. You assigned your own meaning, and purpose.
The only difference 'twixt thee and me is that your choice is self-abnegating, while mine is self-affirming.
Interesting, considering that your posting here increasingly seems to be an attempt to gain affirmation.
Yes, we need to stop feeding the troll
One post may be that last "leettle wafer" that bursts all that crap he has been gorging on that the atheists have been feeding him.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlfcF1I5e_g
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« Reply #59 on: December 08, 2010, 11:25:35 AM »

I stand by what I said: Christianity is a self-abnegating cult of death.

Such intellectual freedom!  Such reasoned and thought-out conclusions based on reality!  Nope, move along folks, there's no bias or prejudice here at all!  This is what any ol' person would find in an honest examination of Christianity!  Nothing to see here!  I'm not trying to be deliberately provocative!  Carry on!

I must admit, TryingtoConvert, people use "lol" a lot but this one literally made me laugh out loud.  Good job!
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« Reply #60 on: December 08, 2010, 11:29:46 AM »

If I knew my girlfriend would be in a car accident that would leave her paralyzed for the rest of her life, but could actually stop it from happening by calling her on a cellphone, I would do so, because I love her.
Do you love her enough to marry her, the mother of your daughter?
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« Reply #61 on: December 08, 2010, 11:41:14 AM »

I stand by what I said: Christianity is a self-abnegating cult of death.

I, I, I, I....me, me, me, me!
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« Reply #62 on: December 08, 2010, 12:04:28 PM »

I stand by what I said: Christianity is a self-abnegating cult of death.

I, I, I, I....me, me, me, me!
Don't leave out myself!

The Unholy Trinity of the Ego, claiming the place of I AM by denying He is.
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« Reply #63 on: December 08, 2010, 01:17:07 PM »

Trying to convert, I have to say that I am not impressed by your worn-out, sophmoric attempts to defend atheism. Pretty much every arguement you have provided has been refuted at one time or another during the intellectual history of Christianity.
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« Reply #64 on: December 08, 2010, 06:42:48 PM »

I've gotten really bored of the atheist makes you a miserable nihilist claim. Trying to caricature us all on Nietzsche's epistemology isn't even an argument anymore, it just shows a huge misunderstanding.

One thing it took me a long time, and at least two forays into full-blown atheism, to realize is that believers are actually MORE intellectually free than nonbelievers.
What drove you into your two forays?

Quote
But what happens to an atheist who suddenly starts doubting her atheism?
What happens when you start doubting that Zeus doesn't exist?

Ew, that sentence doesn't flow right. You're lucky there's a word - atheism - for a lack of belief. It allows for something to be phrased coherently in the English language that doesn't flow smoothly at all in rational thought.

Quote
Doubt is FORBIDDEN - we KNOW there are no deities and anyone who thinks otherwise is just an idiot.
Actually no. Richard Dawkins made a scale to rank how "sure" one is of their theism or atheism. He himself was only a six, meaning he doesn't claim to know. There was a poll of this on his old forum. Overwhelmingly most atheists said 6.

Doubt is never forbidden among skeptics, it's simply a question of whether or not it's reasonable doubt. Doubt loses its virtue when it becomes erratic and irrational.

Why is it bad in Christianity to be a Doubting Thomas? But yet "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." Jesus doesn't want you to doubt. He doesn't want you to be intellectually free.

iamslry - I think its amusing, and very revealing, that even with contrary evidence in front of him, iamslry here is still busy constructing his straw-man atheist, presumably in preparation for the funeral pyre.

It's pretty disappointing, actually; whom I thought was a different sort of believer turns out to be your run-of-the-mill stereotyping apologist.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 06:47:21 PM by TryingtoConvert » Logged
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« Reply #65 on: December 08, 2010, 06:53:05 PM »

TtC, I have a question for you which you may choose to answer honestly if you like. How do you feel about the nihilistic world-view? That is, there is no ultimate purpose for living, given that the universe will just end up suffering an eventual heat death and everything you did or ever will do does not matter in the grand scheme of things? I was once like you, a strident atheist, but I eventually realized that this world-view of atheistic nihilism was utterly unnacceptable to me, and rendered all life ultimately meaningless and without purpose.
I think the nihilism is myopic and childish (and isn't necessarily intrinsic to non-theism).

It's seems like, human beings are the only species that can think themselves into self-destruction. I think a lot of people go through that phase when they realize that this life is all there is and all our work may become nothing more than ashes in the void of space, but my reply to them is: So what? You going to stand around and cry about it? Do you want to spend your life cursing the indifferent heavens for the futility of mankind's existence? Even if there is no God or afterlife, it seems like a pretty big waste of time. The only meaningful question then becomes, what do you want to do with the life that is given to you? You can spend it creating chaos or building order. Only human beings seem to think they need to be TOLD which is better. Even an ant has the instincts to choose between the two. Hell, even an inanimate molecule of carbon has a preference between order and chaos. If these simple things can convey some "will" to build and grow, then how ignorant is it for humans to claim that we don't know which way to go, or that we can't tell the difference between destruction and creation, or order and chaos?

I've come up with two simple answers when people ask me about morality and meaning in life:

When asked about the basis of morality without religion or why should I as a non-believer try to be moral, I say, "Because my mother hugged me as a child."

When asked about what meaning life can have in the face of mortality and death, I say, "Look in the face of someone you care about; There is your 'meaning' in life."

Religious people see those things and might say that's not enough. I think it's MORE than enough (or at least it's a start). It's certainly enough for every other species on the planet to be a part of the world that's right in front of us and to be willing to fight to survive and reproduce. While we see ourselves as being above everything else around us, we are a part of this world too and we have our own role to play.

I actually think there IS ultimate "purpose" in the universe...us. WE are the ultimate purpose of the universe. I'm not trying to be self-aggrandizing and saying humans are the ultimate form of creation, but rather life itself is the ultimate form of creation. We are like the flow of energy and forces of the universe given consciousness and consciousness given form. But it's not about our individual existences, it's about the growth of life itself. It's like the directionality of the flow of water in a stream. The universe started with a bang and the movement continues not just with the expanding galaxies, but also in our own will to live. Even though death is inevitable for all living things, it is through our desire and will to oppose death and suffering and to spread life that we fulfill the greater "purpose" of the universe as a whole. It is in fulfilling that purpose that I believe that one day we may eventually even be able to break the cycle.

I don't know if any of that made sense. It may just be psychobabble to everyone else, but that's the way I see things. All the meaning and purpose we need in life is right in front of us. Anyone who claims they need more is either blind or greedy.

On a separate note, I've only become a "strident atheist" (although I don't care for the label), over the course of this past year. As I've mentioned before, for a long time I've been very ambivalent towards religion, even after I stopped being a believer myself (I'll still go to church with my mother occasionally). It's just this stuff like bans on gay marriage, bans on gay soldiers in the military and this situation for example with fundamentalists trying to screw with textbooks in Texas that has made me more belligerent towards religion. I could write off a lot of violence and discrimination in the world caused by religion as being the product of primitive extremists, but more and more I see discrimination and other forms of "violence" being propagated in our own society by people who also claim to be motivated by their religion. And when people say outright that my own way of seeing the world is based on ignorance, well, I just have a hard time letting things slide by unchallenged.
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« Reply #66 on: December 08, 2010, 07:07:26 PM »

Because believers can, and do, freely express their doubts about whether or not God exists,
Don't the majority of Christians hold the belief that one must believe in the Christian god to get into Heaven? Would it be right to say if you doubt that God exists then you wouldn't be a believer? I understand that you are saying that the doubts are momentary. What if you die at a moment of disbelief or doubt?

Quote
because most of us know that we can't be 100% sure of anything rrgarding God. Unless we're arrogant and prideful, we know that we don't know everything, and that we could be wrong.
Going by this statement of yours would I be correct in saying that you are Agnostic however tending more toward the possibility of the Christian god?
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« Reply #67 on: December 08, 2010, 07:07:56 PM »

Richard Dawkins made a scale to rank how "sure" one is of their theism or atheism. He himself was only a six, meaning he doesn't claim to know.
In The God Delusion, p. 73, Dawkins' scale goes:

1. Strong theist. 100 % probability of God. As C. G. Jung said, "I do not believe. I know."

2. Very high probability but short of 100%. De facto theist: "I can not know for certain, but I strongly believe, and I live my life as if God is Real."

3. Higher than 50% but not very high. Technically agnostic, but leans toward theism: "I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God."

4. 50% probability. Complete agnosticism. God's existence is equally probable and improbable.

5. Lower than 50% but not very low. Technically agnostic, but leans towards atheism: "I don't know, but I'm inclined to be skeptical."

6. Very low probability, but higher than 0%. De facto atheist: "I can not know for certain, but I think God's existence is improbable, and I live my life as if God does not exist."

7. Strong atheist. "I don't believe that God does not exist. I know that God does not exist."
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« Reply #68 on: December 08, 2010, 07:12:15 PM »

When asked about what meaning life can have in the face of mortality and death, I say, "Look in the face of someone you care about; There is your 'meaning' in life."

Religious people see those things and might say that's not enough.
Actually, religious people would say that that is enough. For Christians, e.g., the face would be the face of Jesus Christ.

Quote
I actually think there IS ultimate "purpose" in the universe...us. WE are the ultimate purpose of the universe.
Now, by "we" do you mean just Homo sapiens? Or all primates? What about birds, and whales? How about benzene molecules, protons and quarks?
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« Reply #69 on: December 08, 2010, 07:13:51 PM »

Hmm. I notice TtC, like our other friend dattaspammi, answers the same post more than once (mine, at least).

Coincidence? I wonder ... Wink
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« Reply #70 on: December 08, 2010, 07:16:13 PM »

Hmm. I notice TtC, like our other friend dattaspammi, answers the same post more than once (mine, at least).

Coincidence? I wonder ... Wink

Nah, I had a few more thoughts on your post. I'll try to get to the rest later.
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« Reply #71 on: December 08, 2010, 07:18:26 PM »

Now, by "we" do you mean just Homo sapiens? Or all primates? What about birds, and whales? How about benzene molecules, protons and quarks?

Am I wrong to suggest if we found alien lifeforms that are more intelligent than us then that would make our purpose, or in this case TtC's, null and void?
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« Reply #72 on: December 08, 2010, 09:48:13 PM »

TtC, thank you for answering my question. However, I must say that I see a contradiction in your ardent defense of atheism and your previous statement:

I do want to believe in a 'God' or a higher transcendent being. I know about the baptist, lutheran, episcopal, etc faiths. All of that brought me here, I merely want to believe but there are obstacles that I have trouble accepting in.

So be honest with us. Are you really searching for God? Lately it doesn't sound like you're even open to giving religion or belief in a 'higher transcendant being' a chance; on the contrary, what you have been posting lately sounds more like musings from popular atheist manifesto's attributed to the likes of Dawkins and Dennett. So what really brought you to our humble forums, and why Orthodoxy in particular?
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« Reply #73 on: December 08, 2010, 10:16:19 PM »

TtC, I have a question for you which you may choose to answer honestly if you like. How do you feel about the nihilistic world-view? That is, there is no ultimate purpose for living, given that the universe will just end up suffering an eventual heat death and everything you did or ever will do does not matter in the grand scheme of things? I was once like you, a strident atheist, but I eventually realized that this world-view of atheistic nihilism was utterly unnacceptable to me, and rendered all life ultimately meaningless and without purpose.
I think the nihilism is myopic and childish (and isn't necessarily intrinsic to non-theism).

It's seems like, human beings are the only species that can think themselves into self-destruction. I think a lot of people go through that phase when they realize that this life is all there is and all our work may become nothing more than ashes in the void of space, but my reply to them is: So what? You going to stand around and cry about it? Do you want to spend your life cursing the indifferent heavens for the futility of mankind's existence? Even if there is no God or afterlife, it seems like a pretty big waste of time. The only meaningful question then becomes, what do you want to do with the life that is given to you? You can spend it creating chaos or building order. Only human beings seem to think they need to be TOLD which is better. Even an ant has the instincts to choose between the two. Hell, even an inanimate molecule of carbon has a preference between order and chaos. If these simple things can convey some "will" to build and grow, then how ignorant is it for humans to claim that we don't know which way to go, or that we can't tell the difference between destruction and creation, or order and chaos?

I've come up with two simple answers when people ask me about morality and meaning in life:

When asked about the basis of morality without religion or why should I as a non-believer try to be moral, I say, "Because my mother hugged me as a child."

When asked about what meaning life can have in the face of mortality and death, I say, "Look in the face of someone you care about; There is your 'meaning' in life."

Religious people see those things and might say that's not enough. I think it's MORE than enough (or at least it's a start). It's certainly enough for every other species on the planet to be a part of the world that's right in front of us and to be willing to fight to survive and reproduce. While we see ourselves as being above everything else around us, we are a part of this world too and we have our own role to play.

I actually think there IS ultimate "purpose" in the universe...us. WE are the ultimate purpose of the universe. I'm not trying to be self-aggrandizing and saying humans are the ultimate form of creation, but rather life itself is the ultimate form of creation. We are like the flow of energy and forces of the universe given consciousness and consciousness given form. But it's not about our individual existences, it's about the growth of life itself. It's like the directionality of the flow of water in a stream. The universe started with a bang and the movement continues not just with the expanding galaxies, but also in our own will to live. Even though death is inevitable for all living things, it is through our desire and will to oppose death and suffering and to spread life that we fulfill the greater "purpose" of the universe as a whole. It is in fulfilling that purpose that I believe that one day we may eventually even be able to break the cycle.

I don't know if any of that made sense. It may just be psychobabble to everyone else, but that's the way I see things. All the meaning and purpose we need in life is right in front of us. Anyone who claims they need more is either blind or greedy.

On a separate note, I've only become a "strident atheist" (although I don't care for the label), over the course of this past year. As I've mentioned before, for a long time I've been very ambivalent towards religion, even after I stopped being a believer myself (I'll still go to church with my mother occasionally). It's just this stuff like bans on gay marriage, bans on gay soldiers in the military and this situation for example with fundamentalists trying to screw with textbooks in Texas that has made me more belligerent towards religion. I could write off a lot of violence and discrimination in the world caused by religion as being the product of primitive extremists, but more and more I see discrimination and other forms of "violence" being propagated in our own society by people who also claim to be motivated by their religion. And when people say outright that my own way of seeing the world is based on ignorance, well, I just have a hard time letting things slide by unchallenged.

With the little I've read from you, I must say personally, this is one of your best posts, and I'd like to see more of that quality and honesty in you rather than your other posts that seem to look down on our beliefs in a slightly insulting manner.

I have to say, it is your beliefs of life with consciousness that makes me see a purpose too.  Only this time, I don't see the purpose without God.

If life was to grow and evolve, and we were to grow smarter and more advanced, by the time we reach a certain level of advancement, we find that the more we evolve the more disease and obstacles in life evolve with us.  We find that in the end, the universe as we know it will end and all evolution and all purpose we struggle for doesn't even matter.  We are forced with one goal, that is simply to survive.  But why try to survive now when it will all end later, not just your life, but even the life of your progeny?

Your rejection of belief in God is a valid rejection.  Your rejection is based on the actions of people.  People around us are quite condemning.  People do not know how to separate between the condemnation of a particular sin and the sinner himself.  People have lost sight with the idea of how to become gods in this world, and instead have become accusers, wishing upon people hell, pronouncing upon people that "God hates you."

But who said Christianity was easy.  It's indeed a "narrow gate."  Even within Christianity, it's a narrow gate.  Thank God for a merciful God, knowing the weaknesses of people, and always willing to help those who seek it.
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« Reply #74 on: December 08, 2010, 10:57:07 PM »

I've gotten really bored of the atheist makes you a miserable nihilist claim. Trying to caricature us all on Nietzsche's epistemology isn't even an argument anymore, it just shows a huge misunderstanding.

Who is "we"? And of course, I have to wonder why you think there aren't any former atheists in this thread. Finally, you yourself have hardly refrained from caricaturing Christian belief in this thread.

Doubt is never forbidden among skeptics, it's simply a question of whether or not it's reasonable doubt. Doubt loses its virtue when it becomes erratic and irrational.

Why is it bad in Christianity to be a Doubting Thomas?

Can you show us in patristics where this is described as "bad"?


 But yet "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." Jesus doesn't want you to doubt[/quote]

Which is a blessing of those who have faith, not a condemnation of those who doubt. Nice try.

. He doesn't want you to be intellectually free.

Perhaps because that freedom is an illusion?

"We desire our freedom. Why? In order to be slaves to our passions."

--Mother Gavriela (Papayannis)

It's pretty disappointing, actually; whom I thought was a different sort of believer turns out to be your run-of-the-mill stereotyping apologist.

Of course, you've hardly refrained from generalizing yourself.
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« Reply #75 on: December 09, 2010, 03:26:14 AM »

Yeah I agree with Papist, atheism only leads to nihilsm.
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« Reply #76 on: December 09, 2010, 04:41:13 AM »

Yeah I agree with Papist, atheism only leads to nihilsm.
Precisely. Logically (I am a Nihilist myself).Yet the caricature is extended over from pedantic philosophy of epistemology (I say this only because it encompasses the nihilist view on ethics and value) to our personal lives; how we live. If those who caricature us after Nietzsche had actually invested any time in reading Nietzsche they would know he claimed that no one seeks to live as a Nihilist, and would have noticed what an obvious Romantic he was. That's the point of Existentialism. To create our own value, as he argued we all do, unwittingly or not.

OrthoCats entire argument is that one should not see value because nothing can have absolute value. From a cerebral perspective that's true but no man can think only cerebral thoughts. So are you also saying nothing can have relative value? If so, on what grounds? What is a bore to some is a life purpose to others. How can you possibly claim that in a world without value defined by an invisible authority or some immeasurable rule set in the universe that value cannot relatively exist among human beings? As the cliché goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

So again, merely because we, nihilists, acknowledge that the universe takes no stance of its own on value doesn't mean we can't. There is no rule that value has to be objective in fact it's exactly the opposite.

As far as ethics go I see no reason why something must be pronounced Right or Wrong in order to be demonstrated as detrimental to humanity. I also don't see how an objective reality can exist simply because a creator says it's Wrong. Without the creator being able to prove real consequences in the material world for "immoral" deeds he has no persuasive reasoning
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« Reply #77 on: December 09, 2010, 05:07:10 AM »

Richard Dawkins made a scale to rank how "sure" one is of their theism or atheism. He himself was only a six, meaning he doesn't claim to know.
In The God Delusion, p. 73, Dawkins' scale goes:

1. Strong theist. 100 % probability of God. As C. G. Jung said, "I do not believe. I know."

2. Very high probability but short of 100%. De facto theist: "I can not know for certain, but I strongly believe, and I live my life as if God is Real."

3. Higher than 50% but not very high. Technically agnostic, but leans toward theism: "I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God."

4. 50% probability. Complete agnosticism. God's existence is equally probable and improbable.

5. Lower than 50% but not very low. Technically agnostic, but leans towards atheism: "I don't know, but I'm inclined to be skeptical."

6. Very low probability, but higher than 0%. De facto atheist: "I can not know for certain, but I think God's existence is improbable, and I live my life as if God does not exist."

7. Strong atheist. "I don't believe that God does not exist. I know that God does not exist."
Yes I know. Most atheists claim to be a 6.
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« Reply #78 on: December 09, 2010, 05:09:29 AM »

Can you show me in patristics where this is described as "bad"?

If one Jesus story isn't enough then maybe this will help:

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. (Matthew 21:21)

Quote
Which is a blessing of those who have faith, not a condemnation of those who doubt. Nice try.

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

Does it sound like Jesus is praising the doubters to you?

Or what of these other verses:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

Faith and doubt are not friends.
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« Reply #79 on: December 09, 2010, 07:57:59 AM »

I do want to apologize for using this board as a tool for myself to understand these religious labels. It is something I am quite confused about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNDZb0KtJDk&feature=player_embedded

So it seems that Agnostic means a lack of knowledge about gods, So I too would agree with theistgal's statement "most of us know that we can't be 100% sure of anything regarding God" so I would take this to mean that most Christian Theists are Agnostic, I would also theorise that most Atheists are also Agnostic.

The strange thing about Theist label and Atheist label is that they aren't reciprocal as I have previously thought. I though Theists believe that there is a god and that Atheist believe that there is no god. But watching the video clip it seems that Atheists have no belief in a god. So in that sense I am an Atheist as well as being Agnostic. I find this a bit confusing though because I would have thought that if a person were Agnostic (accepts that there is no known knowledge of a god) that they would also be Atheist because how can you believe in something that you accept there is no known knowledge about? Unless my definition of the term "belief" is incorrect. I take it that belief means 100% certain, so to be a Theist you would need to be 100% certain that god exists. So going back to theistgal's statement "most of us know that we can't be 100% sure of anything regarding God" but tieing that in with my definition of belief would become "most of us (Christian Theists) know that we can't be 100% sure of anything regarding God however all of us (Christian Theists) are 100% certain that god exists" which doesn't make any sense. So I must be going astray somewhere. Can someone please explain where I am going wrong with this?

Something not of nature must forever remain unknown and unknowable to any biological or technological detection apparatus. But the "acknowledging" word is key. A Christian is agnostic if and only if the underlined word applies to that Christian. It is theoretically possible for the underlined word to apply to a Christian. It is also, unfortunately, rare for a Christian to acknowledge not only privately but also publicly the unknown and unknowable status of that which, not of nature, was nature's author.

I am agnostic and I am also atheist because I refuse to place my faith in something unknown and unknowable. I am first agnostic, and then, as a direct result, atheist. It makes no sense to me to place my faith in something unknown and unknowable. An agnostic Christian would be someone to whom it makes sense to place faith in something unknown and unknowable. An action only makes sense if it achieves, or is likely to achieve, an objective. The Christian's objective is to get into heaven. The Christian has been taught that placing faith in something unknown and unknowable is the method by which getting into heaven is achieved. The Christian, having the objective, takes up the suggested method and runs with it.

The word agnostic can also be used in a more general sense, to denote the acknowledgement that any claim X is unknown and unknowable. In this more general sense, I am agnostic toward the existence of heaven, and, even if I were to grant for the sake of discussion the existence of heaven, I would be agnostic toward how one manages to get in. Since it makes no sense to me to place my faith in something unknown and unknowable, I place no faith in the existence of heaven, and, even if I were to grant the existence of heaven, I would place no faith in any suggested method of how to get in.

The unknown and unknowable is to be set aside and forgotten, unless and until it emerges suddenly as newly known or knowable. Or so say I.

If the probability of X being true is 100% then X isn't merely believed, but known. If the probability of X being true is less than 100% then accepting X as true would be belief. Different people have different thresholds with respect to how probable X must be before it can or should be accepted. My own threshold is pretty high, certainly higher than 50%.

If X is not only unknown but unknowable, then its probability of being true can never be assessed. It is my position that if the probability of X being true can never be assessed, then the probability of X being true should be treated as if it were zero.

It is also my position that the desire that X be true should never be factored in when deciding whether or not to treat X as true. Truth is one domain, and desire is another. The two domains do not at all intersect. They are 100% incongruent. Accessing one domain for purposes of ascertaining the contents of the other domain is illegitimate. Desire does not and cannot determine truth, and truth does not and cannot determine desire. What is undesirable can be true, and what is untrue can be desired.

Incidentally, the desire for something that is currently untrue but which is deemed possible has a name, and that name is hope. It is my position that hope should be placed in X only if X is at least theoretically knowable, for if X isn't knowable, then one will never know if X has been achieved or encountered, and hope will never be satisfied.
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« Reply #80 on: December 09, 2010, 11:33:02 AM »

First of all, Trying to Convert, let me just state right out front that unlike you, I am not "trying to convert" you, or anyone else, to my way of thinking or believing.  I truly believe that the path to God is an individual one.  We can give each other suggestions and encouragement along the way, but it's up to each of us to find out what God wants - or whether there is even a God at all to follow.

If you are happy being a nihilist and an atheist, then that's the path you're on and I'm not going to try to dissuade you.  Even if I wanted to, I wouldn't, because I know from personal experience it wouldn't do any good.  All it would do - all the arguments others are offering you in this thread - just makes you feel more certain that you are right and we are wrong.  So what's the point?

I will only make one suggestion.  Have you ever heard of the late great +Martin Gardner?  Here's the Wiki link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Gardner  

Do yourself a favor.  Seek out and read his book "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener".  It's worth reading all the way through, but if you're in a hurry, at least read the chapter entitled "Why I Am Not An Atheist".  It made a difference for me, a long time ago.  Maybe it will for you.

If not, then go your way in peace.  I have no quarrel with you.
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« Reply #81 on: December 09, 2010, 12:06:53 PM »

As I progress in the Orthodox faith, I have less desire to do pointless, worldly things. I also seem to have a greater and greater appreciation for high culture, art, music, etc.
Interesting. I would say the same has been true of me as I progress in atheism.

Perhaps one day you can expound for us the boundless splendours of Eminem.
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« Reply #82 on: December 09, 2010, 12:40:03 PM »

As I progress in the Orthodox faith, I have less desire to do pointless, worldly things. I also seem to have a greater and greater appreciation for high culture, art, music, etc.
Interesting. I would say the same has been true of me as I progress in atheism.

Perhaps one day you can expound for us the boundless splendours of Eminem.

I'll be looking forward to that day!  laugh
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« Reply #83 on: December 09, 2010, 03:59:40 PM »

The strange thing about Theist label and Atheist label is that they aren't reciprocal as I have previously thought. I though Theists believe that there is a god and that Atheist believe that there is no god. But watching the video clip it seems that Atheists have no belief in a god. So in that sense I am an Atheist as well as being Agnostic. I find this a bit confusing though because I would have thought that if a person were Agnostic (accepts that there is no known knowledge of a god) that they would also be Atheist because how can you believe in something that you accept there is no known knowledge about? Unless my definition of the term "belief" is incorrect. I take it that belief means 100% certain, so to be a Theist you would need to be 100% certain that god exists. So going back to theistgal's statement "most of us know that we can't be 100% sure of anything regarding God" but tieing that in with my definition of belief would become "most of us (Christian Theists) know that we can't be 100% sure of anything regarding God however all of us (Christian Theists) are 100% certain that god exists" which doesn't make any sense. So I must be going astray somewhere. Can someone please explain where I am going wrong with this?

It's a matter of faith.  Faith is the construct by which you put your trust in a certain manner of thinking things through.

Here's how I would group people:

A. People who tend to treat materialistic matters as the only truth.
B. People who are open to the idea that life is more than just what we can sense, but are highly skeptical enough to be agnostic.
C. People who tend to treat materialistic matters as in unity with a more transcendant understanding of the cosmos and themselves.

Therefore, A goes by the faith of what they only sense and the empirical.  B goes by no faith at all.  C goes by a faith of transcendant realms.

You see, you interpret faith and doubt as different things.  In my view, one things leads to another.  A faith in something does not let you doubt it.  On the contrary, you trust it, especially when it's built out of your own personal experience.  You see, atheists don't like the word "faith" and attribute the meaning to something you trust that is supernatural.  It's not that at all.  When the Scriptures talk about faith, it talks about the Christian faith, that is the Christian way of thinking.  Faith is a way of thinking and trusting that thought.  B has a way of thinking and has no trust whatsoever.  A and C have little to no doubt (perhaps those with little doubt develops more humility in their arguments, and those with no doubt at all tend to be quite arrogant).  B is filled with doubt.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2010, 04:04:16 PM by minasoliman » Logged

Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.
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« Reply #84 on: December 09, 2010, 04:58:53 PM »

^ Yes
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« Reply #85 on: December 09, 2010, 07:40:12 PM »

Can you show me in patristics where this is described as "bad"?

If one Jesus story isn't enough then maybe this will help:

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. (Matthew 21:21)

That's an if-clause, not a command.
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TryingtoConvert
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« Reply #86 on: December 09, 2010, 10:23:04 PM »

Quite broken. But since you are quite broken, I can see how you miss that.
Personal attacks are not only against the rules, they are the surest sign of a defeated argument. Attack my argument, not me.

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Why? You don't want it?
I seem to have found one limit to your understanding, right here. Perhaps you're smart enough to figure out what your error here is.

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I'm happy with myself now, though always interested in improvement.
Your interest is a good thing.

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I didn't rig my results. I can't speak for you as to what exactly how you fixed yours.  Have you answered yet the question about whether you admit of ultimate Truth or how it (we know He) is found?
You'll notice that I didn't say you rigged your results. And I didn't notice you asking such a mundane question. Please define what you mean by "ultimate truth".

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Because you don't like it?
Protip: Read entire post before responding.

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Ever been on an airplane? Seen a rocket?
Apparently you don't understand aerodynamics. Gravity is not being disobeyed; it is being outdone by different forces.

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Jump off that cliff and see how much it doesn't.
That, my friend, isn't a demand for obeisance -- it is not telling me to behave in any particular way; it is merely exerting brute force.

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nor does it forgive even if you repent your disbelief right before you hit the ground.

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LOL. "Analogy fail," but it fails for you.  You seem to have a mechanical view of Faith and repentance: were you a "Once saved always saved" Born Againer?
No.

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Oh, you didn't mention your PhD in Physics.
That's okay. You didn't mention you masters in theology. Or you doctorate in bs, for that matter.

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you are stumbling, and quite badly.
I'm happy to let the readership decide.

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You stated that you are not American/in America IIRC.  Where are you from, because you seem to be quite confused on Christianity in general and Orthodox Christianity in particular. If you are not in America, maybe you are not aware of what a self-abnegating cult of death looks like, like the botox cult here.
Agreed, like faith, it is largely a superficial phenomenon, which is performed for the sake of appearance, and doesn't outlive the person. Also, the two are similar in that they are a result of an overweening concern with conformity and the opinions of others, and an attempt to defy the reminders of mortality.

This comparison is more apt than you realize.

Carry on!
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« Reply #87 on: December 09, 2010, 10:24:24 PM »

I stand by what I said: Christianity is a self-abnegating cult of death.

Such intellectual freedom!  Such reasoned and thought-out conclusions based on reality!  Nope, move along folks, there's no bias or prejudice here at all!  This is what any ol' person would find in an honest examination of Christianity!  Nothing to see here!  I'm not trying to be deliberately provocative!  Carry on!

Wait, you came here not expecting an expression of opinion? Really?

I'm unsure how old you are, but I'm willing to bet that I've considered this matter longer than you've breathed air.
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« Reply #88 on: December 09, 2010, 10:27:07 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I agree partially with some of the sentiment here against focusing on the afterlife.  I think Western Christianity in particular has gotten way to caught up in the afterlife, in eternal salvation, and not prioritizing this current life enough.  In Orthodox our worship is complete, fundamentally central to all the aspects of our daily lives and routines.  We do not just do these things for the afterlife, we do them to find healing, consolation, Spirit, joy, communion and love from God in this time, in our daily lives where we are all at right now in the here and now.

In focusing on the afterlife, unfortunately many Christians have forgetten the ever-presence of God and have limited themselves to an almost illusory pie in the sky God of the future.  God is not only about the future, but the here and now.  Jesus Christ heals us today! This is why we participate in the Divine Mysteries, to find the healing and love of God that we need here and now in this life we are living today in this current era.  Whatever the future and afterlife holds is truly up to the Will of God, but Christianity and specifically the worship and venerable Tradition of the Orthodox is not only to make some sense of the afterlife, but most importantly to give the people the direct Real Presence of God through the Mysteries.  The Apostles did not wander the earth would good speeches or kind words about consolation in the after-life, rather they came bringing directly the Church and its opportunities in the Divine economy of the Mysteries, especially the Qurbon.  That the Apostles recognized the offering of eternal life that Jesus gave them is only because their Jewish life was already rather full of beneficial worship and tradition, and so they were already fairly religious men, but Judaism gave no hope for the afterlife.  In Christianity, our afterlife is assured in Christ, its our day to day realities that pose the worst threats and problems, woes which Christ directly cares for in our reality here, now  and forever.  Jesus Christ is real today, not just in His Second Coming.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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"Yet stand aloof from stupid questionings and geneologies and strifes and fightings about law, for they are without benefit and vain." Titus 3:10
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« Reply #89 on: December 09, 2010, 10:29:09 PM »

TtC, thank you for answering my question. However, I must say that I see a contradiction in your ardent defense of atheism and your previous statement:

I do want to believe in a 'God' or a higher transcendent being. I know about the baptist, lutheran, episcopal, etc faiths. All of that brought me here, I merely want to believe but there are obstacles that I have trouble accepting in.

So be honest with us. Are you really searching for God? Lately it doesn't sound like you're even open to giving religion or belief in a 'higher transcendant being' a chance; on the contrary, what you have been posting lately sounds more like musings from popular atheist manifesto's attributed to the likes of Dawkins and Dennett. So what really brought you to our humble forums, and why Orthodoxy in particular?

If you don't mind I'd like to add more to what you said earlier

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I have a question for you which you may choose to answer honestly if you like. How do you feel about the nihilistic world-view? That is, there is no ultimate purpose for living, given that the universe will just end up suffering an eventual heat death and everything you did or ever will do does not matter in the grand scheme of things? I was once like you, a strident atheist, but I eventually realized that this world-view of atheistic nihilism was utterly unnacceptable to me, and rendered all life ultimately meaningless and without purpose.
I think, honestly, that I would agree with a few of nihilism's ideas - lack of ultimate purpose being one of them. I feel that I do not need a purpose to live my life - every morning when I wake up, I don't feel a purpose driving me forwards beyond the simple needs of the day. There's no overarching goal for my life, beyond providing for my children, loving my wife and advancing my career and hobbies. I want to see new things, experience new stuff, and that's what drives me forward. I know that the world will end someday, everything I ever made will be gone - but that's what defines us as humans, our lack of permanence. I believe it is the end that gives the whole thing meaning, the border on the painting that gives it a focus. Some people have a drive for their lives to have meaning, but I'm just glad that my genes turned up out of the mind-bogglingly large number of possible DNA sequences.

If I wasn't searching for God why would I be here? I have two roomates that, one is Orthodox and the other is converting. They pointed me here to get some of my questions answered.
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