Just wanted to advise this forum to stop wasting their time with stick man, he is a dummy account, see the PM I received below:
Hi there, for about a week, I have been looking at your posts on the Orthodox Christianity website. I was wanting to find out more about your background and give you my take on some of the points you were raising. First of all, to briefly introduce myself, you might have noticed my troll posts this past week, under the identities of "stick man" (as a dadaist quasi-Muslim proselytizer) and as "menace2society" (as an even more dadaist, virtually unoriginal troll). I don't normally do this, but couldn't resist the urge to troll a little. I did so just for fun, and some people may get laughs out of it while others might not appreciate it. Whatever the case may be, this is not what I wanted to write about to you, but rather about more serious matters. I was an Orthodox Christian for 15 years (from when I was 12 to when I was 27, I am 31 now) but was never without at least some doubts and finally realized that I was being deluded. I would now describe myself as without any religious belief (perhaps I qualify as what Richard Dawkins calls a "weak atheist" - I hesitate to absolutely discount the possibility of some kind of creator existing, but doubt that a creator exists and will not recognize any unless given hard evidence that he/she/it/they does exist). I don’t recognize any religion and believe that leaving the church is one of the best decisions I ever made, as it gave me a breath of fresh air and a chance to catch up on maturing. I used to be a legitimate (non-troll) poster on that same website, but would reduce the efforts of the people who comment there to a big waste of time.
Can you tell me a little about why you joined these boards and what you believe? Your long thread about the non-existence of God is most intriguing. Early on, you vehemently argue against religion, then suddenly you change your opinion and start showing interest in learning more about Orthodoxy. From your ID “TryingToConvert”, I gather that you’re an atheist who is beginning to doubt your views. I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a few questions:
Were you always an atheist or do you come from a religious background?
Where do you live (I’m Canadian and back in Canada after almost 7 years overseas)
How old are you and is it correct that you have kids?
Are you considering converting to Orthodoxy?
What is your reason for potentially starting to believe?
I hope you won’t mind my giving you my opinion on why I think you shouldn’t waste your time with religion. As I said, I believed (albeit not firmly, I had doubts) this bunk for 15 years, and now I am an atheist or something similar.
I will make some random points about this:
The ontological argument – “your speculating about the existence of God is evidence that he exists” – that’s so lame. OK, so I really like gnomes. At some point in the past, someone speculated about their existence. Does that mean they exist? I wish. What if people speculated on the existence of God just because tribal societies with no knowledge of science simply couldn’t come up with a better explanation than that some more powerful spirit(s) created everything?
The argument that the universe must have originated somewhere is a little more intelligent. But assuming that that origin is with a sentient, omnipotent CREATOR is an “argument from ignorance”. Obviously, we don’t know exactly why the universe exists and what (if any) origin it has. But surely it’s a bit pretentious to ASSUME that that origin is in an intelligent spirit and not in some process of science? A good argument against the existence of a creator, in fact is: who created the creator? Religious types would immediately answer: nobody. God is uncreated and has always existed. But if an intelligent creator is allowed to have “always existed”, why couldn’t atoms, subatomic particles, energy, whatever, always existed, too? What if “creation” is really just lifeless energy that did its work over billions of years and eventually evolved into primitive and then more complex life? What is more, in “The God Delusion” in the chapter “Why There Almost Certainly Is No God”, Richard Dawkins argues that it is more logical that everything that exists evolved gradually than that a creator made it. Because by postulating about a creator as the solution to the complexity of everything that exists, you allow for a creator to have always existed who has always been so wonderfully powerful (and thus, probably, more complex than the whole universe which is his creation), that you’re faced with a contradiction. Why does the creator have the right to have always been, so to speak, complex, but not the rest of the universe? In this way you have the same problem with the creator that you have with his supposed creation. I’m not saying this eloquently, Dawkins explains it better. At any rate, isn’t it much simpler to postulate that what always existed was atoms, empty space, etc, and that it gradually developed by simple natural processes into the complex universe that we know today? Bottom line, even if some kind of “origin” has to have been, what is to say that that origin had to have been an intelligent creator and not a scientific process involving the “dead” energy that the universe is full of? The great scientific theoretician Stephen Hawking, who used to support the idea of a creator, recently said that a creator was not necessary for the universe to come about, that the law of gravity could have done it just as well…
Another argument used by Christians, that everything on Earth is so perfectly attuned to the origin of life that it must have been made by a creator, seems to be a mix-up of cause and effect. More likely, life on Earth evolved because the conditions for it evolved there. The universe is big, and in places like Pluto, where there are supposedly no conditions for life, it simply didn’t evolve, and in those (probably much fewer) places where there are conditions for life, it did evolve. Simple as that. Moreover, it is speculated that life could exist in very different environments on other planets, but life which evolved very differently due to there being different conditions. The logic that Earth is a “special” place “made” especially for human, plant and animal life is Earth-centric. It assumes that humans are “special” and that Earth was created for them, rather than consider the possibility that Earth life is just a product of the conditions that happened to evolve on Earth.
I was never impressed by these typical arguments, which seem to be among the most common given by apologists. I always wanted harder evidence. You know, TryingToConvert, I was always interested in WHY EXACTLY other people believed in God. As I said, I always had some doubts during the time I was religious. This worried me (I feared that because of my doubts I would go to Hell, and therefore tried to suppress them) and was therefore very interested in apologetics. But in Orthodoxy (and Christianity in general), I found more blind faith than “proofs”. The thing that kept me believing for a long time was reported miracles. But when I re-examined the basis for my beliefs, I found that many supposed miracles can be written off as pious lies, delusions and coincidences. For example, the Church has a lot of “incorrupt bodies of the saints”. But when you look at these bodies, they don’t look like the day they died. They’re actually ugly, dried out mummies. I have seen pictures of bodies preserved better by natural means in non-Christian environments than everything I’ve seen of Christian relics. Just because there is more left to a body than a skeleton doesn’t mean a miracle took place, simply that it was preserved in good conditions (e.g. put in a crypt or a solid coffin, kept in a dry tomb, etc). Now, when I spoke about this, some Orthodox said that “we don’t need miracles for our faith”. My question then was, so what do you base your faith on? What makes you so convinced that all this teaching is true? The answer often boiled down to flimsy arguments like the one above or, the church is so full of love, or things like this. In essence, people WANTING to believe in the teaching of the church. My approach to faith was always rational: I wanted evidence and supposed miracles were this evidence. I entered and left religion looking for proof one way or another. But I’m afraid that a lot of the faithful don’t look for proof. They uncritically accept any argument, and very often simply believe because they like to or because they are afraid to question the beliefs imparted to them by their parents/community.
Regarding the Bible, I think your posts clearly show that you realize how frought with problems that book is. It is full of inconsistencies and illogicities, and you ask the people on the forums to explain it to you. My advice to you is, don’t bother. Those problems are there for a reason. The book is actually more of a library – it was written over centuries by people who in many cases had the mentality of those people who now live in Afghanistan. That’s why the god of the Old Testament is so disgustingly brutal. One of the posters on the forum attempted to explain this away by saying that the Old Testament is a reflection of how the immature Jews saw God. But by doing so, he is admitting that the Bible is a human creation more than divinely inspired. You’d think that a book coming from a perfect God would be perfect. But it’s not. It’s full of unfulfilled prophecies, inconsistencies and, especially in the Old Testament, disgusting stories. This all points to human origin. You’d think a god who wants everyone to believe in him and be saved would provide humanity with an easier, cleaner, more perfect book to read, that would be more obvious proof of his existence and not something that causes so much confusion and controversy (someone once said that the Bible itself is the best proof that what it says is not true). You’d think God could at least have inspired the Jews to use an alphabet that has vowels in it, so that we don’t have to wonder whether what they wrote was one thing or another.
I find the morality in the Bible, including the “improved” morality of Jesus in the New Testament to be despicable. It basically says that if you don’t spend your whole life sacrificing yourself, groveling to the all-powerful creator, obeying other people (the authorities, your “owner” if you’re a slave, your husband, your parents), and thinking of the world to come rather than this world, you will rot in hell for all eternity. When I was religious, I never really got to love God, and now that I am not religious, can dare to admit that I ended up hating Him. I would have killed him if it could have made a difference.
I will make one more point, and that is this: whether or not there is a God and whether or not Christianity is right, there’s something I find missing in all religions: concrete proof of what they’re saying. It takes FAITH, and, given how flimsy the proofs that are offered are, essentially blind faith. So what religious people are doing is committing to living a life in devotion to a God that may not exist and to work, in the case of Orthodox and other conservative denominations, work their asses off and miss out on many pleasures in life, for a promise (eternal bliss) and to avoid a punishment (eternal damnation) that has not been backed up by cold, hard facts, but by hearsay. Now I ask you. If someone comes to a bank for a business loan, the bank will not give the loan simply on the basis of the person’s stories about how great a business it will be. Rather than “have faith”, they will want to see that the person has a good business plan and will want evidence that the business will work and that they will be able to repay the loan with interest. So why should someone have “faith” in the claims of a church that cannot provide better evidence than that it says so in the Bible or the ontological argument or what have you? It’s quite frankly irresponsible.
I’ll say that much for now, I hope you can tell me a bit about yourself and that you will be interested in continuing this discussion. It will also be easier for me to comment once I know where you’re coming from. I will end by recommending a few resources:
-“The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins – IMHO this guy is a great scholar and his writing is everything the Bible isn’t. Maybe you’ve already read this or his website www.richarddawkins.net
-“God: The Failed Hypothesis” by Victor J. Stenger – a book claiming that science strongly indicates that there is no creator. I don’t understand a lot of what is written in it – I am not a scientist, the writer is – but it seems intelligently written. BTW, I think the comment on your thread that someone made that he would not look to science for facts seems to me to be typical arrogance of a religious nut. As far as I have been able to determine, science is constantly in search of facts, whereas religion cares more about “faith”.
And one website for now, debunks many of the “prophecies” in the Bible: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/farrell_till/prophecy.html