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Author Topic: Losing My Religion  (Read 5937 times) Average Rating: 0
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Sleeper
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« Reply #45 on: April 04, 2011, 09:21:49 PM »

If God really exists, why in heaven’s name does God not prove that he exists instead of leaving us here in our terrible uncertainty?  Why does he not show his face so that at last a despairing world can have hope?  At one time or another, everyone asks such a question.  In some objectifiably verifiable and convincing way, we want God himself to demonstrate his own existence.  Deep in our hearts, I suspect that this is what all of us want, unbelievers no less than believers.  And I have wondered sometimes what would happen if God were to do just that.  What would happen if God did set about demonstrating his existence in some dramatic and irrefutable way?

Suppose, for instance, that God were to take the great, dim river of the Milky Way as we see it from down here flowing across the night sky and were to brighten it up a little and then rearrange it so that all of a sudden one night the world would step outside and look up at the heavens and see not the usual haphazard scattering of stars but, written out in letters lightyears tall, the sentence I REALLY EXIST or GOD IS.  If I were going to try to write a story or a play about such an event, I would start, of course, with the first night that this great theological headline appeared there in the stars, with suns and moons to dot the I’s and the tails of comets to cross the t’s.  And I would try to show some of the ways I can imagine people might respond to it. 

I would show some of them sinking to their knees, not because they are especially religious people but just because it might seem somehow the only natural thing to do under the circumstances.  They would perhaps do it without even thinking about it, just crumpling down on their knees there in the tall grass out behind the garage.  Some of them I would show running back into their houses in terror - guilty ones in terror of it - just GOD IS written up there in the fire of the stars - and maybe in everyone some degree of terror at just the sheer awesome vastness of the Uknown suddenly making itself known.

Several years would go by and God’s proof of himself would still be blazing away every night for all to read.  In order to convince people that the message was not just some million-to-one freak of nature, I would be tempted to have God keep on rewriting it in different languages, sometimes accompanying it with bursts of pure color or with music so celestial that finally the last hardened skeptic would be convinced that God must indeed exist after all.  Then the way that I would have it end might be this.  I would have a child look up at the sky some night, just a plain, garden-variety child with perhaps a wad of bubble gum in his cheek.  If this were to be a movie, I would have a close-up here of just the child’s eyes with the stars reflected in them, and I would have him spell out the message syllable by syllable.  Let us say that this night it happens to be in French - J’existe quand-meme. C’est moi, le bon Dieu.  And deep in the heavens there would be the usual strains of sublime music.  And then I would have the child turn to his father, or maybe, with the crazy courage of childhood, I would have him turn to God himself, and the words that I would have him speak would be words to make the angels gasp.  “So what if God exists?” he would say.  “What difference does that make?” 

And in the twinkling of an eye the message would fade away for good and the celestial music would be heard no more, or maybe they would continue for centuries to come, but it would no longer make any difference.

We all want to be certain, we all want proof, but the kind of proof we tend to want - scientifically or philosophically demonstrable proof that would silence all doubts once and for all - would not in the long run, I think, answer the fearful depths of our need at all.  For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but who in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world.  It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want but, whether we use religious language for it or not, the experience of God’s presence.  That is the miracle we are really after.  And that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.


- Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark
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« Reply #46 on: April 04, 2011, 10:17:56 PM »

If you are looking for something intellectually satisfying, then science, philosophy, music, etc. are all great.  But there's nothing intellectually we can do to satisfy proving God.  We prove God not by our intellect, but by our actions.
Good, we agree that all the evidence points to God not existing.

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The poor homeless man in the street can care less about all these human comforts.  Such people who find that they truly have nothing have been quite open to God helping them.  We take for granted our comforts at home, and all we care about is how we can intellectually satisfy our minds.  But we haven't prayed, we haven't fasted, and we certainly haven't been helping the poor.  We enjoy political discussions, and participate in voting (for the lesser evil mind you).  We have great feasts at home with family and friends.  But what about the defenseless, the ones without families, the ones without homes?

What's the point of this?  The point is I am capitalizing on how we really are nothing.  I've intellectually showed you how we are nothing.  Now look at practically how vain most of us live life.  We truly are nothing.  But when you serve among the poor in this country, you find how much more richer they are than you.
That's a laughably rosy tint on your glasses.

And then where do you get this funny idea that god gives a crap about you? Because that seems to be the innevitable conclusion of this line of thought, that the universe  and its creator, just wouldn't give a dang because your so small and they are so big.

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Belief in God is not an intellectual endeavor.
Freaking oath it isn't.

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It's a way of life.  Science is an intellectual endeavor.  Music is an intellectual endeavor.  History is an intellectual endeavor.  All things in nature, all things in the cosmos that can be understood in intellectual endeavors.  But God is not in nature.  He is not in the cosmos.  He is outside nature.
He is in space. Maybe on a spaceship!

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Our intellect does nothing.  But practice, our spiritual life and our charitable lives proves Him.  Why do you still seek a definition of the undefinable?  Why do you seek the "I am" among "nothingness"?  Why do you seek the living among the dead (all of us will cease to exist one day)?  It's because we haven't freed our minds from materialism.
If he's undefinable how are we to talk about him? Can one even speak of the unspeakable?

The idea of God as "some stuff that isnt defined" seems to ignore the fact that (A) the history of mankind is filled with definitions of god , and (B) talking about undefined stuff by keeping it undefined isn't just anti-intellectual, its babbling stupidity.

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I can intellectually satisfy you elsewhere.  But when it comes to God, John Scotus will not help much.  I can intellectually refute atheist claims against my beliefs.
Then do it! Enough with the mystical mumbo-jumbo man, give us a proof or prove us wrong. Channeling dolphin beams out your third eye just isn't doing it for me, frankly. You make claims about how poor atheist's arguments are but consistently ignore them in favor of vague mysticism.

You also repeatedly talk about what the concept of god has to offer man as if that is supposed to prove that god exists. Free energy would be pretty awesome too, that doesn't mean it's possible.

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But that's as far as I can intellectually satisfy you.  Refute an anti-belief, but to prove my beliefs, I have to live it in front of you.  "God became man so that man might become God."
entity becomes category. category becomes entity. Logic explodes in a puff of marijuana

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I have to become God for you to believe in Him.  If man couldn't become God unless God became man, how much harder would it be for me to prove to you intellectually the existence of God without directing your attention to the man-God Christ?
Alternative suggestion: Jesus is just a dead man-man

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If I were a Hindu, I can say, "God is within you and is you."  If I were a Buddhist, I can say, "You don't need God.  Enlightenment is within you."  If I were a Muslim, I can say, "Read the Koran in Arabic, and you'll see the proof."  If I were a Jew, I can say, "God is the great I AM, and our limited existence cannot fully comprehend ever-existence."  If I were an atheist, I can say, "Who cares?  Just live your life because tomorrow we die."  But as a Christian, I say, "The great I AM made Himself known to us through Christ."  To me, it's about Christ, the incarnate God, and following His spiritual direction that says it for me.  I can't prove it to you any further, but can try my best to live it for you to see for yourself.
Then we nailed him to some wood lol.

I don't get what any of this tortured logic leads to. Your trying to tell us that somehow you have to transmogrify into a space ghost to prove it. But also that seemingly we should just accept your beliefs because jesus said a thing.

The wisest man in the bible was Thomas for demanding to see the wounds.
Since just about any concept of god usually involves intelligence or at least a will of some kind, maybe we can just point out that it's completely stupid to think that intelligence can exist without like neurons and synapses and crap. It can't just be floating around all willy-nilly.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 10:20:14 PM by Dnarmist » Logged
Justin Kissel
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« Reply #47 on: April 04, 2011, 10:25:52 PM »

Since just about any concept of god usually involves intelligence or at least a will of some kind, maybe we can just point out that it's completely stupid to think that intelligence can exist without like neurons and synapses and crap. It can't just be floating around all willy-nilly.

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« Reply #48 on: April 04, 2011, 10:32:56 PM »

I tried to be clear to you.  You're trying to understand how any of what I said proves God, where I'm trying to tell you that only practice and the way one lives can prove God.

In other words, to put it straight to you:  either you live like there's nothing else but the cosmos, or you live like there's more to life than just the cosmos.  Either you live with the fact that you're nothing more than ultimately nothing, or you live to seek freedom from nothingness.  That's basically what it comes down to.  Anything else is we talk about is superfluous. 

You want to talk about other things:  well, so far, you addressed the pink unicorn and "modern" Christianity, and John Scotus.  My arguments against your equinothropic arguments will always be because God is transcendental and your equinothropic idea has nothing to do with transcendence.  When we talk about God in anthropormorphic words, the idea is we take the pinnacle of creation, and not a random part of creation, and describe God only in limited terms.

What other problems do you have with Christianity?  Evolution?  Well, you're talking to an evolutionist.

What else?  You're unable to understand how I still believe?  Well, tell me how was your prayer life.  How was your fasting life.  Have you sought to help the needy?
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 10:36:08 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #49 on: April 04, 2011, 10:49:12 PM »

Since just about any concept of god usually involves intelligence or at least a will of some kind, maybe we can just point out that it's completely stupid to think that intelligence can exist without like neurons and synapses and crap. It can't just be floating around all willy-nilly.

Maybe we can just point out how arrogant it is, to think that an animal with limited knowledge at his disposal, can decide whether something he dosen't Know isn't possible, is or isn't.

HEY!!! You said the earth was flat man!!!! sorry dude, I  ASS-U-ME everything that makes sense to me logically to be right.  (Benny hill reference acknowledgment Grin)
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Even satan himself can appear as an Angel of the Lord, and do good works in His name, to distract you from the path of True Righteousness

Ever notice that just like there is no age limit on stupidity, there is no IQ limit either? kind of explains a lot huh?
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« Reply #50 on: April 05, 2011, 12:48:13 AM »

My arguments against your equinothropic arguments will always be because God is transcendental and your equinothropic idea has nothing to do with transcendence.  When we talk about God in anthropormorphic words, the idea is we take the pinnacle of creation, and not a random part of creation, and describe God only in limited terms.

What other problems do you have with Christianity?  Evolution?  Well, you're talking to an evolutionist.

What else?  You're unable to understand how I still believe?  Well, tell me how was your prayer life.  How was your fasting life.  Have you sought to help the needy?
This reminds me very much of Saint Anselm's reply to Gaunilo, who criticized his ontological argument by bringing up the "Perfect Island" rebuttal.


In truth, the traditional Ontological Argument is more clever than most people think, though it does have its flaws like the issue listed above. Immanuel Kant actually dealt a fatal blow to Anselm's original version of the Ontological Argument, and his answer to this riddle helped us elaborate more on what terms like "existence" and "properties" mean.

Me: "If your methodology were valid, then simply imagining a Perfect Tropical Island would logically entail the existence of that island!"
Christian:"Nuh-uh! There's nothing in the definition of a perfect tropical island that entails perfection!"

It's a pretty weak objection: either you're saying that applying the term "perfect" or "transcendent" to entities makes them so (which means we can apply these properties to anything), or you're saying that applying the term "perfect" or "transcendent" to entities doesn't make them so (which makes me wonder how in the world you can apply them to God).

Additionally, this approach doesn't address the problems like The overgod Ao of the Dungeons and Dragons "Forgotten Realms" setting is just as transcendental... doesn't make Ao any less fictional. The Q Continuum is just as transcendental. Doesn't make the Q any less fictional. The Lovecraftian "Far Realm" of D&D cosmology is just as transcendental. Doesn't make the Far Realm any less fictional.

Overall the point is that defining a thing so that it is uninvestigable doesn't make it any more rational. It is possible to do this with any concept and write metaphysical barriers around it. It's not mocking God. Rather, it's pointing out the inherent arbitrariness of the methodology by which God is insulated from inquiry yet still given serious consideration.

And what I said earlier:

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To approach the subject from a fresh angle I think it needs to be asked: what exactly is it about a transcendent nature that would exempt any entity from the Burden of Proof? To get down to brass tacks, let's just stick it in a syllogism:

1. Entity X is transcendent/supernatural.
2. (?? ??)
3. Therefore, the belief or nonbelief in entity X are equally justified/entity X is exempt from the Burden of Proof.

It's your classic non sequitur. Nowhere in the concept of "transcendent/supernatural" is there some property that allows us to deductively reach the intended conclusion. It simply does not follow.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2011, 12:49:21 AM by Dnarmist » Logged
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« Reply #51 on: April 05, 2011, 12:59:03 AM »

Sleeper this is more a response to your quote and this is also targeted to minasoliman as well.

Faith is unfortunately a very vague and weighted term, and can mean anything from "confidence," "trust," or "a more emotive existential affirmation of belief as justification that stands outside of reason." We'll explore two broad categories of "Faith."

It first needs to be said that evidences aren't the only things that need to be justified... methodologies to acquire knowledge do too (see the historical philosophical bitchfest about the Problem of Induction). For example, if a tarot reader asserts that tarot reading is a good way to acquire knowledge about future events, we wouldn't take them at their word: we would want to see some sort of proof that this methodology does, in fact, reliably produce knowledge. The same goes for dowsing, tea leaf reading, the I Ching, etc. In this light, if Faith can't demonstrate that it is any more reliable a knowledge-determining tool than Tarot, dowsing, tea leaf reading, or the I Ching, we exclude it as a methodology.

As a response to this, theologians have tried to point out that even the most staunchly rational of individuals use a form of "Faith." For example, any atheist still has to have Faith in authorities: at some point people have to turn to an expert to supplement his own limited knowledge, and this trust is, at its core, a certain leap of Faith that is beyond conventional reason.

However, there are real authorities and there are illegitimate authorities. One can have Faith in a real scientist, or one can have Faith in a quack. One can trust a real oncologist to treat his cancer, or one can trust Kevin Trudeau's "miracle cures THEY don't want you to know about." One can trust chemotherapy and radiation treatments, or one can trust that coral calcium will get rid of your tumors. The distinction on who to trust and who not to hinges on being able to rationally determine what is real and what is not, what is legitimate and what is not, and this is rooted in evidence. In the end, this form of Faith merely reduces to another aspect of reason, and it is from the grounds of reason that one should be making their decisions and justifying their beliefs. "Faith in authority" merely reduces to become another aspect of reason.

In the end Faith faces a dilemma. If Faith can't (or won't) demonstrate itself as being reliable under the analysis of reason, it is written off as unreliable in the same way we do with any other methodology that can't demonstrate itself. If however it demonstrates itself to be in harmony with reason, it ceases to be theologically unique and separate from reason as a methodology... if so, the theologian should be arguing from evidence rather than speaking of a separate, nonrational "Faith."

Insofar as faith is possible, it is irrational. Insofar as faith is rational, it is impossible.

Here's a shortened syllogism:

1. Faith can broadly have two possible definitions: a method independent of rational standards, or a method that is dependant on rational standards. (law of excluded middle: A or not-A)
2a. If Faith is independent of rational standards ("You have to take the Bible as true on Faith before its evidences will reveal themselves to you" / "God is proven through fuzzy warm feelings" / "We know God through actions, not intellect") then this form of Faith is no more legitimate than any other faculty that doesn't (or refuses to) pass reason's test, such as the I Ching, tea leaf reading, tarot, Feng Shui, psychic powers, dowsing, etc. It is in conflict with Reason, and is excluded as nonsensical as we would all these other methods.
2b. If Faith is dependent on rational standards (Faith in Authority), then this form of Faith merely reduces to another aspect of Reason. It is not an independent faculty that works by its own methods insulated from rational critique.
3. Therefore, insofar as faith is possible, it is irrational. Insofar as faith is rational, it is impossible.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2011, 01:02:35 AM by Dnarmist » Logged
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« Reply #52 on: April 05, 2011, 02:07:41 AM »

You used three things to compare God to that I had no idea what you were talking about.  So I looked them up:

1.  The overgod Ao of the Dungeons and Dragons "Forgotten Realms"--a deity of deities that rules over some land or realm
2.  The Q Continuum--an extradimensional plane of existence ruled by hyperintelligent beings
3.  The Lovecraftian "Far Realm" of D&D cosmology--an infinite vast filled with creatures of people's nightmares of unimaginable powers

1.  Deity only over a part of the whole existence does not sound like the Deity of all things that exist.
2.  An extra dimensional plane, an area of existence that theoretical physicists seem not have have trouble believing in, since mathematically, it seems we live in an 11-dimensional cosmos...whether there exists beings there, let alone hyperintelligent, is yet to be tested.
3.  Infinite vast of limited yet powerful beings of unimaginable powers, who come from their nightmares....Instead of what, beyond infinite vast of an unlimited Deity?

I don't know about you, but when you compare God to these three, then it's clear to me you and I don't agree on what "transcendent" is.  You can only imagine a transcendence comparable to what is around us, and you still paint a picture of a deity that is limited in His scope of rule, that exists in only an extra dimension of plane, or an infinite vast (of layers?) with powerful creatures.

No one is making stuff up when one thinks of a deity above all.  In fact, it's a concept that seems to unite not just Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but even some Hindus and Zoroastrians, and any derivatives of those religions.

The understand you give of anything "transcendant" is in reality part of all that exists, not above all that exists.  Anything that you can limit, even if you call that "transcendant" isn't so "transcendant."

As human knowledge grew, and as the known cosmos grew, God became much bigger over time it seems.  But at a certain point in human history, sometime before Christ, many enlightened peoples finally were able to understand that God is much more transcendant than we can even imagine.  But if one starts to imagine, we do in fact put limitations on God.

Finally, I'm going to address the issue of faith very simply for you.  In a nutshell, this is how I see it:

Atheism:  To believe that all things in the cosmos is all that is there (and when I use the word cosmos, I don't mean the universe; it could be the realm the holds the multiverse, or even bigger for all I care).
Theism:  To believe that all things in the cosmos ultimately find itself from a Creator

In other words, the question I personally ask is "What does my existence mean?  What does the existence of the cosmos mean?"

This is not a matter of believing in fanciful characters of hyperdimensions.  It's about whether all things were created or not.  That's it.  That's the extent of intellectual arguing on this.  I'm sorry this sounds disappointing to you.  But that's how I see it.

No one, as a believer in God, is reading tea leaves or palms or cards, or telling you about your future at all.  All of these are things within nature, within the cosmos.  It's like having faith in a tree.  Belief in God entails a sense of purpose in one's life.  That's it.  You may disagree, sure.  But my beliefs are confirmed through spiritual exercises, something that you don't need to have faith in to begin doing.
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« Reply #53 on: April 05, 2011, 02:17:49 AM »

A few more thoughts I wanted to add.

Quote from: minasoliman
To me, it's about Christ, the incarnate God, and following His spiritual direction that says it for me.
This is the problem though. Where do you get this spiritual direction from? Where did you hear this stuff from in the first place? It all traces back to a book claiming divine origin, and humans possibly claiming divine inspiration, but ultimately drawing from the book and the last round of humans.

If God really exists, why in heaven’s name does God not prove that he exists instead of leaving us here in our terrible uncertainty?
I don't actually believe that if God existed, he'd owe us an appearance or an explanation. I'm not asking for God to prove he exists though: I'm asking that the people who claim their story about God is true provide some evidence of that. If God wants to show up and do it personally, then that'd be awesome, but I'd settle for far less than that. 

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Well, tell me how was your prayer life. How was your fasting life. Have you sought to help the needy?
The problem is most religions do this. They have people that claim they've received visions, they have people who have massive transformative experiences in them, and some of them even give their lives for it. You have to be saying not only that all of those people have been fooled, but that you couldn't possibly have been fooled by the exact same phenomena.

This is why I left: If all of your reasons for believing are in common with religions whose followers have all been tricked, then you can not honestly exclude the possibility that you too have been tricked.
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« Reply #54 on: April 05, 2011, 02:25:40 AM »

Why are you being so rude and sarcastic?

Asterikos doesn't act like you when he's skeptical of a religious belief. I wonder why; perhaps you should too, brother.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2011, 02:26:18 AM by NicholasMyra » Logged

Quote from: Orthonorm
if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

"You are philosophical innovators. As for me, I follow the Fathers." -Every heresiarch ever
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« Reply #55 on: April 05, 2011, 04:40:39 AM »

Why are you being so rude and sarcastic?
I find it pretty enjoyable to parody silly ideas and even more so when silly ideas are treated as the Most Serious Thing Ever. I understand this will be perceived as disrespectful, c'est la vie.

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Asterikos doesn't act like you when he's skeptical of a religious belief. I wonder why; perhaps you should too, brother.
I acted the way I did when confronted with ancient and fantastic claims bundled along with the epistemic fuzziness of religious ideology - I thought critically about it and rejected the ideas which were contradictory, failed to be parsimonious, and so on.
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« Reply #56 on: April 05, 2011, 04:46:49 AM »

Why are you being so rude and sarcastic?
I find it pretty enjoyable to parody silly ideas and even more so when silly ideas are treated as the Most Serious Thing Ever. I understand this will be perceived as disrespectful, c'est la vie.

Quote
Asterikos doesn't act like you when he's skeptical of a religious belief. I wonder why; perhaps you should too, brother.
I acted the way I did when confronted with ancient and fantastic claims bundled along with the epistemic fuzziness of religious ideology - I thought critically about it and rejected the ideas which were contradictory, failed to be parsimonious, and so on.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qLFJuCCMpM
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Quote from: Orthonorm
if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

"You are philosophical innovators. As for me, I follow the Fathers." -Every heresiarch ever
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« Reply #57 on: April 05, 2011, 09:15:11 AM »

A few more thoughts I wanted to add.

Quote from: minasoliman
To me, it's about Christ, the incarnate God, and following His spiritual direction that says it for me.
This is the problem though. Where do you get this spiritual direction from? Where did you hear this stuff from in the first place? It all traces back to a book claiming divine origin, and humans possibly claiming divine inspiration, but ultimately drawing from the book and the last round of humans.

Part of it is the books.  Part of it is the heritage.  Part of it is the contribution of Christianity upon the world.  Part of it is the self-consistency of the beliefs.  Part of is the idea of God condescending to us in human form for the most intimate relationship.  Most of it is my spiritual life.

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If God really exists, why in heaven’s name does God not prove that he exists instead of leaving us here in our terrible uncertainty?
I don't actually believe that if God existed, he'd owe us an appearance or an explanation. I'm not asking for God to prove he exists though: I'm asking that the people who claim their story about God is true provide some evidence of that. If God wants to show up and do it personally, then that'd be awesome, but I'd settle for far less than that. 

Then start your spiritual exercises.

Quote
Quote
Well, tell me how was your prayer life. How was your fasting life. Have you sought to help the needy?
The problem is most religions do this. They have people that claim they've received visions, they have people who have massive transformative experiences in them, and some of them even give their lives for it. You have to be saying not only that all of those people have been fooled, but that you couldn't possibly have been fooled by the exact same phenomena.

This is why I left: If all of your reasons for believing are in common with religions whose followers have all been tricked, then you can not honestly exclude the possibility that you too have been tricked.

Well, if I argued for you to receive a vision, then I would.  But a vision is not the primary goal here.  I'll tell you I don't receive visions when I pray.  I do indeed speak of a transformative experience (perhaps not massively transformative, but it's different for different people).  Prayer alone can sometimes do that.  When people at least seek God in places where their notion of religion has not been challenged, I don't question their experiences. At times, I feel that the lack of Christian missions and charity in the world can be replaced by non-Christians by a loving God, and that doesn't take away from the truth of Christianity at all.  It only shows Christians who do not act upon the truth.

But there was a time when Christianity did turn the world upside down with its radical ideas and morals.  Spiritual exercises are not going to suck you in.  I would say they're going to give you another experience for you to examine yourself.  We're not a cult that tells you, if you leave the mosquitos will come and bite you.  If you don't want to give these spiritual exercises a chance, it's ultimately your own freedom to reject this form of "proof," but what does this tell you about the level of seriousness it is for your understanding of theism?
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« Reply #58 on: April 05, 2011, 09:16:04 AM »

Why are you being so rude and sarcastic?

Asterikos doesn't act like you when he's skeptical of a religious belief. I wonder why; perhaps you should too, brother.

To be quite honest, he is not nearly as rude or sarcastic as TTC was.
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« Reply #59 on: April 05, 2011, 11:02:33 AM »

10 Essential Conditions for Coming to Know God’s Truth and Finding Life. By Fr. Tom Hopko

1. The belief that the truth of things can be known, and the desire to know the truth and to do it, wherever it leads, is most essential. Indeed it is everything. When people have this desire and seek truth in order to do it, and are ready to do it whatever it takes to find it, know it and do it, God promises that they will find, and understand and live. In a sense, this desire and seeking is all that is necessary.

2. The seeking person must read the New Testament through, slowly and without judgment of details, at least two or three times, taking the time needed to do this. They should let go of what is not clear, and focus on what they can understand, what is clear to them. It would also be helpful to read a Psalm or two everyday.

3. The person must pray, as they can. If they claim to be Christian, at least somehow, they should say the Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers of the Church tradition, and attend Liturgical services, without serving or singing or reading. If they are not Christians, or are unsure, they must at least pray, “to whom it may concern,” saying something like, “if you are there, teach me, lead me, guide me…”

4. The person must eat good foods in moderation. A couple of days a week (like Wed and Fri) the person should fast; eating much less than usual. During this search the person should abstain from all alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Except a minimal amount of wine with meals. If overeating or drinking, smoking or drug-taking is a problem, the seeker must get formal help, like, for example, a 12 step program.

5. The person should abstain from all sexual activity unless they are married and expressing love (and not just having sex). There should be no TV or Internet porn. If sex is an addictive problem, they must take steps to get formal help.

6. The person should sit alone and still in silence for at least a half hour each day. They should watch their thoughts, but not engage them. They should say a very short prayer while doing them, to avoid engaging their thoughts.

7. The person should give at least a couple of hours a week to charitable work, and should give away some of their money (if they can) in a sacrificial way. They should do this, as far as possible, without anyone knowing what they are doing.

8. The person should open their life fully to at least one other trustworthy person, telling absolutely everything, without editing or hiding anything: their thoughts, dreams, temptations, actions, sins, fears, anxieties, etc.

9. The person must regularly talk with someone trustworthy specifically about their family of origin: their family history going back as far as possible, their childhood, relations with their parents and grandparents and siblings, their spiritual and religious history, their sexual history, education, etc.

10. The person must find a community of friends with whom to struggle to know the truth and to find life. The search cannot be done alone. We need each other.

This is only one way to go about things, but I think it touches on something important, namely, that unless one is willing to do whatever it takes to find God, they don't really have any right to accept or reject him.

So many people say that if they can't arrive at God using only their mental faculties, then they will reject him. Might it be true that we have to come to God on his terms, and not our own? Might it not be, ironically, entirely unreasonable to conclude that God will do things my way, and that he must reveal himself the way I want him to, or that we might have to get other aspects of ourselves and our lives besides our brains involved?
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« Reply #60 on: April 05, 2011, 02:16:53 PM »

Just because you want something to be a certain way doesn't make it so. "Life would be great if God existed, therefore he does" is not a valid inference.

Personally I am glad that god doesn't exist - Christian ethics is based around making people feel guilty for being human - but I am aware that this is not a valid reason to become an atheist. My lack of belief is based on the lack of evidence for (and the unintelligibility of the concept of) god.

Christianity is pretty explicit in telling people that heaven and hell are real, and what you will attain through belief in Jesus/good works. It believes that Jesus is the son/manifestation of God on earth. It tells of a judgment day/apocalypse. It tells you that people have a soul, that zygotes have a soul, that abortion is murder, homosexuality is an abomination, etc, etc. You don't believe in some nebulous concept of God, you believe in a very specific God, and with that comes a lot of predictions and explanations that were made up whole-cloth over centuries by a bunch of dudes a couple thousand years ago.

You used three things to compare God to that I had no idea what you were talking about.  So I looked them up:

1.  The overgod Ao of the Dungeons and Dragons "Forgotten Realms"--a deity of deities that rules over some land or realm
2.  The Q Continuum--an extradimensional plane of existence ruled by hyperintelligent beings
3.  The Lovecraftian "Far Realm" of D&D cosmology--an infinite vast filled with creatures of people's nightmares of unimaginable powers

1.  Deity only over a part of the whole existence does not sound like the Deity of all things that exist.
2.  An extra dimensional plane, an area of existence that theoretical physicists seem not have have trouble believing in, since mathematically, it seems we live in an 11-dimensional cosmos...whether there exists beings there, let alone hyperintelligent, is yet to be tested.
3.  Infinite vast of limited yet powerful beings of unimaginable powers, who come from their nightmares....Instead of what, beyond infinite vast of an unlimited Deity?
Ao's power and influence actually transcends to other spheres of influence, and His power seems boundless. He simply chooses to exercise it in rare cases. 11-dimensional String Theory actually isn't widely accepted as scientific, and the "dimensions" you're referring to isn't actually what the Q Continuum is. I'm not sure how your description of the Far Realms keeps it from being "transcendent." Cthuloid entities (and I suppose Ao and the Q) are by nature beyond imagining (like God), beyond time and space (like God) and their true forms can induce madness if seen by us mere mortals (like God). I'm not sure what other definition of "transcendent" you mean.

Quote
I don't know about you, but when you compare God to these three, then it's clear to me you and I don't agree on what "transcendent" is.  You can only imagine a transcendence comparable to what is around us, and you still paint a picture of a deity that is limited in His scope of rule, that exists in only an extra dimension of plane, or an infinite vast (of layers?) with powerful creatures.

No one is making stuff up when one thinks of a deity above all.  In fact, it's a concept that seems to unite not just Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but even some Hindus and Zoroastrians, and any derivatives of those religions.
It seems odd to me that you'd write off Ao, the Q, and the Cthuloid entities as fantastical and made-up but then in the next breath provide for us an example of a "real" religion that reveres a pot-bellied elephant-headed God who has broken off his own tusk as a sign of sacrifice.

Quote
The understand you give of anything "transcendant" is in reality part of all that exists, not above all that exists.  Anything that you can limit, even if you call that "transcendant" isn't so "transcendant."
If God is not in the realm of "all that exists," then doesn't that mean that God doesn't exist, by definition? I mean, I can agree with this definition and would stick square circles and Invisible Pink Unicorns in that realm too. 

The definitions of "transcendent" I'm familiar with are the ones I listed above in the first paragraph of this post rather than "above/beyond all that exists," and with good reason.

I'll address the faith issue later. I gotta start my day and don't wanna get too megapostey.
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« Reply #61 on: April 05, 2011, 02:29:26 PM »

Forgot to add this

Quote
Finally, multiverse: Where have you been the past couple of years? Dawkins even hailed the idea as the final nail on the coffin of theism vis a vis "The Grand Design." What you ridicule as a Star Trek idea has been put forward as the bulwark of atheistic proof.

I disagree with Dawkins about many things, and this is simply another one of them. The fact of the matter is, Dawkins isn't a particularly philosophical individual (he scoffs at the idea of philosophy in fact, unless it suits him like the works of Daniel Dennet). In most philosophical circles I don't see the "multiverse argument" brought up very often (usually it's meant to be a foil to the Fine Tuning Argument). This is largely because it's trying to "solve a mystery with a mystery," which is exactly what atheists find so intellectually hollow about proofs of God.

Granted the "multiverse argument" comes up occasionally, but most prefer the Strong/Weak anthropic principles. I'm not sure they hold water myself. I have other ways of dealing with the FTA.

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« Reply #62 on: April 05, 2011, 02:40:15 PM »

Quote
Personally I am glad that god doesn't exist - Christian ethics is based around making people feel guilty for being human - but I am aware that this is not a valid reason to become an atheist. My lack of belief is based on the lack of evidence for (and the unintelligibility of the concept of) god.

And yet you mention it.  Of course, if you're an atheist, and you steal from someone, you shouldn't feel guilty at all about that.  Because that would be the Christian thing to do.  Roll Eyes

I really have nothing else to say.  Now you're just being downright offensive and not engaging.  When you say things like "I'm glad God doesn't exist," then what's the point of even bothering talking to you about whether God exists or not.

You know what, open up your heart to Ao in the Q.  Pray to him and see what happens.  And then we can have a discussion on your prayer experiences.
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« Reply #63 on: April 06, 2011, 02:49:24 AM »

Lenghty post, apologies, I have come to accept that I no longer am Orthodox but an atheist. I have various reasons, some scientific and some philosophical. In my experience that whole god thing really just comes down to intellectual consistency. If you say your one god is real, how can you reject the other ones without being epistemelogically inconsistent? Hell, how can you reject any unfalsifiable or unverifiable assertion, including anything anyone makes up ever? This is why even agnosticism is silly; intellectual consistency would necessitate saying "i dunno" to all unverifiable assertions, including things like "your name is really Steve but maybe everyone has been lying to your whole life and calling you Jeff. So when you introduce yourself, you have to say 'I think my name is Jeff but I can't be sure.'"

Belief in any sort of supernatural phenomenon requires the acceptance of all others to be consistent. This leads to mutually-exclusive beliefs.

The only way to be consistent is to reject them all.
However this belief in a god make it consistent in a way that creates holy wars. The logic of it is all laid out in the Old Testament.

1. Yahweh is the one true God. Single.
2. We are Yahweh's chosen people, and we are therefore enlightened.
3. Yahweh has filled the Earth with both challenges for us(earthquakes, disease), and things that are of great benefit(things to eat).
4. One of the challenges Yahweh has filled the Earth with is other "religions."
5. As these religions are not built on Yahweh, they are mere fiction.
6. Because the followers of these religions are not of the chosen people, they are therefore lesser than.
7. This gives us permission to kill them.
8. We are obligated to kill them in order for the chosen people to take over the Earth.

Christianity stacks these next statements on top of those:

9. Jesus is the earthly manifestation of Yahweh.
10. Jesus says that it's no longer important for the tribe to be genetically pure.
11. Thus we can now convert people instead of just killing them.

It's all completely insane, but that's how it is justified. It doesn't require a whole lot of logical leaps except for the one at the outset where you first agree that Yahweh is the one true god. Everything else flows from that. That's why people use the resurrection of Jesus as evidence of a God. People don't care about being intellectually consistent, and don't want people to take up Islam. They want to be correct in their statement that there is evidence for God, and that it is the God of the team they roots for: Christians.

I'm not sure how other religions go about doing this, but I'm sure there's some similar mechanism by which they create an air of exceptionalism around their belief structure. Does water skiing need to serve a purpose to be enjoyable? Do I need God to tell me that I should make stuff for other people to enjoy, or do I just do it because I like the idea of people enjoying my work?

At worst, it's hedonistic, but I don't think there really is a need to justify things that I flat-out enjoy doing.

Additionally, while I do argue that "faith and science are quite compatible" it's partly because my definition of science is "a formal systematic group project of empiricism." Mechanistically speaking science can't touch the concept of God when theologians hide Him in some metaphysical void. Another part of it is because there are two problems for me: the first and most dire is Creationism, and I'd be willing to throw Creationists a theological bone if only to make them more receptive to evolutionary biology. The second is religion in general, and that's a more abstract issue.

I do feel that faith and reason in general are incompatible, in the sense that philosophy either disproves God's existence, renders it unnecessary, or delegitimizes the processes by which one may prove God's existence. But philosophy isn't science. It simply digs deeper into more abstract matters.
I'll discuss more in that Evolution thread with research that I've discovered, but I can no longer hold faith with my reasons.

Okay.  I leave you in God's hands. 
Try to do good in the world and try to be honest in all your dealings. 
God (whom you don't believe in, but I do) bless you.
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« Reply #64 on: April 07, 2011, 12:13:46 PM »

Greetings, OrthodoxChristianityianites!  I hail from the distant lands of SomethingAwful.com and have traveled far in search of gold and spices and a westward route to the Indies.  In trade I have brought amusing photoshops and amusingly captioned images of cats, as well as information.

In a recent thread regarding the webcasted debate between Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss and and Dr. William Lane Craig, a theological argument developed between one (apparently Christian) Alexander Nevermind and the rest of our forum goons.  After several abortive attempts on his part to make his own arguments, some of our number began to notice a pattern of schitzophrenic incoherence and doublespeak in his responses.  A little googling and time index analysis revealed that he had apparently decided to glue together some of our posts and import them here to your fine forums under the name of Dnarmist.  (The discussion starts here, plagiarism begins several posts down and continues for every single one of Alexander Nevermind's subsequent posts.)

http://i.imgur.com/PvKjW.gif

http://i.imgur.com/FfYuZ.gif

http://i.imgur.com/w15Iw.gif  (plagiarizing post)


His ultimage goal was, apparently, to import some of your replies to our forums with no concern for quality or cogency.

http://i.imgur.com/1787H.gif

http://i.imgur.com/pwkSv.gif

http://i.imgur.com/ryBbC.gif  (doubly plagiarizing post)



Additionally, another enterprising goon has also discovered that Alexander Nevermind keeps an additional sockpuppet account here, under the name of Aposphet.  Here is the relevant post made by our Wsobchak that discovered this additional instance of double-plagiarism.

Quote
Someone(apparently an atheist) on the orthodox forum posted this rant:
http://i53.tinypic.com/1dylbn.jpg

The same rant later appeared in Science, Academics and Philosophy, posted by Alexander Nevermind:
http://i53.tinypic.com/2f0evy1.jpg

A goon posted a rebuttal of the rant:
http://i52.tinypic.com/jgjyv8.jpg

Lo and behold, the same rebuttal, posted on orthodox forum:
http://i54.tinypic.com/xreko.jpg


One More Time, Baby.



With this in mind our moderator is exercising severe disciplinary action unless Alexander Nevermind makes certain restitutions.  We would recommend you do the same.  Beware: he is hidden among you wearing many faces!  However, it has been shown that he floats when dunked in water.  Please continue your investigation with this in mind.

Also, we have kidnapped your king and demand 100 stone in gold and chocolate each.  We have heard good things of such from our Spanish compatriots.
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« Reply #65 on: April 07, 2011, 12:20:24 PM »

The first thing I could think of was, "MY GOD, where do any of you get the TIME?!" 2 user names? For real? I can't access the SA forums without registering, I'll log on later perhaps.

I'm sure the mods will address it eventually....


Check for your gold in the mail, sir. Chocolate, absolutely not. It's the only thing I can enjoy right now, haha.
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« Reply #66 on: April 07, 2011, 12:22:41 PM »

Oh snap! The internet is serious business!
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« Reply #67 on: April 07, 2011, 12:50:05 PM »

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