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Author Topic: Atheist  (Read 2432 times) Average Rating: 0
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ncc82602
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« on: July 18, 2013, 06:51:42 PM »

Hello,

As the title of this post says I am an Atheist; however, I am not like most Atheists you would meet.  Even though I have come to terms with my own Atheism (as I am no longer ashamed to say that I am an Atheist) I have always wished that I could believe in a deity but was never able to sufficiently justify belief to myself.  I am now embarking on my final attempt to believe, and I have saved Orthodox Christianity for last.  I have come to the conclusion that my Atheism will not change through scientific arguments (as every creationist argument is easily refuted) but rather through an enlightening philosophical argument, or a personal experience.

This is where you all come in.  I would love for you to post your best philosophical arguments for the existence of a deity, or post your own instructions on how to have a personal experience with God.

I will not attempt to refute any of your arguments as I have absolutely no desire to debate but only read and contemplate; however, I will let you know if anything you have said has had any impact on me or if I was able to have a personal experience.

If I am able to believe the earliest time I would be able to act upon my new found belief would be September, as the town in which I am currently residing does not have an Orthodox Church.  Once I return to my University I will be able to attend liturgy at either a Russian (OCA.  This is my personal preference as I have just started to learn the language and this would give me a nice opportunity to practice a little of my Russian), or Greek Church.

Thank you for all of your input, I am sure that if there is a God he would bless you for leading someone to him.

Sincerely,
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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2013, 06:52:31 PM »

Welcome Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2013, 06:54:50 PM »

Thanks.  I hope you all can help me find faith for the first time in my life. 
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2013, 06:57:09 PM »

Good luck on your journey. I admire your open minded search for truth.
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2013, 07:02:03 PM »

Welcome!  Cheesy

I feel sympathy for you, as I wrestled with atheism and Evangelical Protestantism before becoming Orthodox. Anyhow, I find it very humorous, and somewhat saddening, how humans are always wanting what they don't have and resenting what they do have. It's interesting how atheist folks are always disappointed or saddened because they desire the comfort of believing in a deity and/or having a religion, and resent the godlessness of atheism, yet, at the same time, Christians--at least myself--are jealous of atheists and resent their religion. I personally wish I had the comfort of atheism--the sense of freedom, lack of rules, and ability to do whatever you want without any annoying rules telling you not to or having to worry about eternal punishment. I loath you.

Anyhow, in regards to your question for answers and reasons, I'll share my thoughts and reasons for conversion later, right now I've got a migraine  Cry
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2013, 07:18:55 PM »

Welcome.  Smiley

I hope you will find what you are looking for.
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2013, 07:40:55 PM »

Yes, welcome.

What you ask is not necessarily easy so I only ask that you be patient with us.  I also commend your open-mindedness.  I hope that we will do likewise.  Right now I will just encourage you to visit both the OCA and the Greek church when you are back at school.  At the very least you will find it interesting.  You say you have saved Orthodox Christianity for last, do you mind if I ask what else you have investigated?

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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2013, 07:50:19 PM »

Yes, welcome.

What you ask is not necessarily easy so I only ask that you be patient with us.  I also commend your open-mindedness.  I hope that we will do likewise.  Right now I will just encourage you to visit both the OCA and the Greek church when you are back at school.  At the very least you will find it interesting.  You say you have saved Orthodox Christianity for last, do you mind if I ask what else you have investigated?

KBN1

I have investigated: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism (Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox), Islam (Sunni and Shia), various Protestant Denominations, and Catholicism...  I may have looked into one or two more, but I think that is all of them. 
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2013, 08:25:47 PM »

Welcome! Like you, I was a college student (now a recent graduate) who was an atheist/agnostic when I started seriously investigating Christianity and religion more generally. I arrived at Orthodoxy initially because it made sense historically (i.e., its continuity with the Early Church) and as I read more about Orthodox belief, it began to make sense almost intuitively. I came to Orthodoxy after having read Christian apologetics such as GK Chesterton and CS Lewis, and later I read a couple books by the popular Orthodox theologian Kallistos Ware. But in the end, I think what attracted me most to Orthodoxy can be better summarized in a chapter of Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov (the Elder Zosima chapter) than in any grand philosophical argument. I've returned to that chapter many times, because I think it exemplifies some of the fundamental themes of the Orthodox faith: love, hope, humility, depth, simplicity, and the redemption of mankind. Those are themes that reverberate throughout Orthodoxy: in its services, its teachings and Scriptures, in the testaments of its saints and martyrs, etc. So, I don't have any philosophical argument I want to give you, neither do I have any mind-blowing personal experience to share. I still struggle a lot, I still screw up all the time, but having converted to Orthodoxy, I do feel that I'm in the right place. As Dostoevsky wrote, My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.

By the way- I also attend a Russian (ROCOR) parish. Of course one jurisdiction or national affiliation is not superior to any other, but I do feel that the experience of the Russian Orthodox Church during the last century was an enormous testament to the faith, regardless of any of its problems then or now.
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2013, 08:44:35 PM »

Hi ncc,

I have a couple of immediate thoughts that came to mind, and please understand I have never thought about this before, so they came as fresh as a new song heard for the first time, and afterward it is never new again, and you can never listen to it that way again, which makes it harder to be objective sometimes after hearing something many times.

The first thought was when I saw you said "find faith", it popped in my head to say where is it , so I can pick some more up too. Is it possible to find, or is it like at the end of the elusive proverbial rainbow.

And second I saw you said If you are able to believe the earliest you can act on it, I do not mean to be blunt, but my first thought was you have already lost the battle.

We can all believe and act on it right here and now without aid of any Church or Priest, Jesus said simply where any two or more are gathered in his name, there he is among them, so even right here , right now you have acted and have some faith otherwise I would not be talking to you here.

So to those with some faith Jesus said more will be given, so you have already made the first step and he has already given you more. You don't need more than  the size of a mustard seed . Please believe me that it does take time, and you may not see what you are looking for a long time, but there is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

Lord have mercy.
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2013, 09:20:51 PM »

Welcome to the forums, ncc82602.

I was a soft atheist for most of my life, and a hard atheist for but a small portion. I ultimately came to belief in Christ because of a personal experience. I think that arguments and apologetics can be valuable to the seekers' journey, but only God will open the door for you. You don't have to beg, but you do have to be open to something that transcends all your preconceptions about reality and the truth. I know those are fluffy words and probably don't mean anything right now, but as you continue to search, you'll begin to understand what "knowing God" is all about. And for most of us, it's not having mystical visions every night, or hearing an audible voice in your head, or working miracles. Rather, it's developing a relationship over a lifetime, and that always means doubts and struggles.

That you're even entertaining the possibility of a belief in God means that you're close to Him right now. Don't feel rushed or compelled to accept everything that's given to you. God is patient, and everyone reaches Him in his or her own time. I would try to set aside some time every day for prayer. It can be as little as 30 seconds at bed time. You don't have to say anything, or even think anything. Just be silent and be present to the moment. Quiet your mind. Let God speak in the silence.
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2013, 10:08:40 PM »

I was a similar sort of atheist prior to converting to Roman Catholicism. I investigated all the various religions much as you describe.

All I can offer is a realization that helped me quite a bit -- that "faith" is not some feeling or something that can be demonstrated with a proof, as you have asked. It is a movement of the will (that is brought about by God, but that is the aspect we aren't really privy to). Don't over think or it wait to be struck by a proverbial lightning bolt. And don't wait for that emotional reaction that has you holding your palms up to the sky like some evangelicals -- for most, faith isn't a physical sensation of warm fuzzies or something tangible like that.

A book that helped me along with this realization is Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard. I'm not sure how Orthodox it is, honestly, but it was helpful for me some time ago.

"Infinite resignation is the last stage before faith, so anyone who has not made this movement does not have faith, for only in infinite resignation does an individual become conscious of his eternal validity, and only then can one speak of grasping existence by virtue of faith."
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2013, 10:38:04 PM »

What I am going to offer is backtracking even further away from some of the great thoughts that have been posted so far. Please understand I am not arguing in favor or against religion at this point.

For me, I would go back to....do you think the world and the universe it is in, is a chance encounter of atoms that just happened to all arrange and fall together and took the form of our world, and all that is in it including humanity? 

I mean on a very high generalized level....is it all random?  I cannot bring myself to believe that it is. So conceding the world -came into existence- via a mechanism triggered by -something-, to me would be the first step in faith in the idea that something greater than ourselves is out there.

I personally think you have to reach -this- part of faith, the faith that it is not just randomness and coincidence but rather that the world and consequently we in it, were created, before you start defining or trying to find faith in who created it.

For my feeble human mind, it is much easier to see and believe in the Works of the Creator, those things which i can see and take as being tangible.  For me, the care and love shown in Creation, presents the evidence for believing in a Creator.
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2013, 10:58:17 PM »

Welcome to the forum.
I do not wish to present philosoohical or theological reasoning about Orthodoxy or about believing in anything whatsoever. It is not because I can't but because I don't want to and do not thing it to be what you need. I would  auggest that you read about individuals who went through same struggle as you. Two individuals that to my head at the moment are Seraphim Rose and Klaus Kenneth. Others might provide more examples...

You are on the ball that personal experience is the way to go. Now dont expect visions and God and Angels coming to you and saying here I am. I am not saying that it won't happen but don't have such expetations. There are numerous ways in which God reveals Himself to us. Sometimes we are able to recognize that but more often not.

I am not sure whether I already mentioned this on this forum but I have had such interractions with God where He revealed Himself through actions. I do not wish to elaborate much about that expect that I was sick and could have been deadly and thanks to God I was healed just like that. There weren't any special drugs or any other rational explanations...
 I hope God guides you on your journey. Just have one thing in mind and that is to listen when He speaks. You will know it is Him if you listen carefully...
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« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2013, 12:19:26 AM »

As a former agnostic, I have found it best not to try to overcome doubt, because you will never succeed in doing that if that is your goal.  Rather, seek to immerse yourself in the Church and learn as much as you can.  You will either find yourself repelled by it or attracted to it.  There isn't enough philosophizing in the world that can give you the answers you are looking for.

As a side note, this forum is not really the best example of what Orthodox Christianity is all about.  We argue and fight over stupid stuff way too much to demonstrate the true mind of the Church.  The best way to learn is to read books, attend Divine Liturgy and speak to a priest.  May God bless your journey and search for truth.
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« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2013, 12:22:44 AM »

As a side note, this forum is not really the best example of what Orthodox Christianity is all about.  We argue and fight over stupid stuff way too much to demonstrate the true mind of the Church.  The best way to learn is to read books, attend Divine Liturgy and speak to a priest.  May God bless your journey and search for truth.

Agreed, don't listen to anything we say, except for this advice telling you not to listen to us. Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2013, 12:44:40 AM »

I would love for you to post your best philosophical arguments for the existence of a deity
There are no good philosophical arguments for the existence of a deity.

I also do not think arguments for a deity are good enough to sustain a belief in such.

But we don't preach an Unmoved Mover, we preach Christ crucified.
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« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2013, 12:44:40 AM »

FTR my post is basically explaining that the Orthodox don't rely philosophical arguments for the existence of God.

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« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2013, 01:20:18 AM »

I would love for you to post your best philosophical arguments for the existence of a deity
There are no good philosophical arguments for the existence of a deity.

I also do not think arguments for a deity are good enough to sustain a belief in such.

But we don't preach an Unmoved Mover, we preach Christ crucified.

FTR my post is basically explaining that the Orthodox don't rely philosophical arguments for the existence of God.

This seems to me, from my own biased angle of viewing things, to be simultaneously a great strength and a great weakness.
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« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2013, 01:21:58 AM »

As a side note, this forum is not really the best example of what Orthodox Christianity is all about.  We argue and fight over stupid stuff way too much to demonstrate the true mind of the Church.  The best way to learn is to read books, attend Divine Liturgy and speak to a priest.  May God bless your journey and search for truth.

Agreed, don't listen to anything we say, except for this advice telling you not to listen to us. Smiley

Wait, I resemble that. Yes but , ok maybe sure .
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« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2013, 01:36:43 AM »

They are right though, you must find your own way even after seeking the proper help from a priest.

In the way of guidance there is the story of  Job in the old testament , where his friends attempt to guide him through difficulties, and end up making it harder for him. So it turns out that they should have just been there for him, and let him work it out , just being there for support, listening and if he asked for something, doing all they could to do what he asked.

It is the same for us . We are here for you when you need us.
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« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2013, 04:00:51 AM »

I struggle when people ask me questions like yours. In a very real sense you're asking for something that The Faith cannot give because we're operating on entirely different principles. In another sense you're asking for something that we maybe shouldn't give, because it places the basis of the faith onto ground that it doesn't belong on - argument, reason, philosophy, intellectualism.

A lot of what the posters here have said in response to your first post have the answers you're looking for, but they're not what you were expecting (in my experience in dealing with atheists who've approached me as you have), and so probably find them shallow or to be avoiding the question. They're not, they're responding to your search for faith, but not in the way that you're searching for it. That's because faith isn't what you're thinking of when you think of it.

The post-enlightenment engorgement of science into every realm of our life has fixed in our minds the idea that truths are universally true. That is, if A occurs in the presence of B, with B being a necessary and sufficient cause for A, then A will always occur in the presence of B. Orthodoxy doesn't work quite that way, because we don't have faith in a system but in a person. Thus what you are being led (by my brothers and sisters in the faith) is toward a Person and a relationship though you are expecting to be led to a system. We're doing our best to put you into contact with the Person Who will have the answers you're looking for, but since you're not expecting a Person our answers seem circumventive. Furthermore the way that an individual experiences and participates in that relationship varies from person to person. We know the techniques to be certain you're talking to the Man you need to meet (that's behind the advice to attend Liturgy, pray, learn our hymns and teachings and participate in the life of The Church) and how to experience Him (why you're being advised to fast, attend Liturgy, see Icons and pray). We can't, however, sit you down and say "Well Vlad fell in love with Russian literature and through it found Russian spirituality and found Christ" or "David felt something was missing in his knowledge of Christ and found what it was when Mike introduced him to Him" or "Joseph met a fellow Christian because of his tattoos and that new friend new a place where Joseph could go to discover what he didn't know about Jesus." Those are all real scenarios of people who've converted at my parish, but they all involve meeting Someone and putting faith in Him after they learned to trust Him. The ways we did it, however, are as different as we ourselves, because Jesus is a Personal God. There isn't an A that we can tell you to plug in which will produce B every time, we can only tell you what has worked in the past.

So you see the problem with asking for arguments which persuade: there is always another argument. The devotion of the Orthodox is based on faith in a Person, not in faith in an argument. We believe in Orthodoxy because we know through it Who we have met, and what He has said about our Church. We don't believe because we have been persuaded that ours is the oldest church or that it has the most comprehensive theology. Theology is not a science, it's an experience. Without the experience, you won't ever have faith.

So we can tell you about the Uncreated Creator arguments, or ask you "If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into" but that's missing the point entirely. All we can tell you is things that will put you in the path of the One Who can help you, and that's not spiritual schlock or mumbo jumbo, it's just the nature of what you're asking about.

Edit: I should read all the posts lol, mine is just a longer version of Sinful Hypocrite's.
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« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2013, 07:38:15 AM »

Dear ncc,

Welcome.  I hope to hear from you some more, I liked reading your post.

As far as I can tell longing to believe is already a good start.

Love, elephant
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« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2013, 08:15:05 AM »

No one can explain how this comes about, how faith in The Lord is generated in the soul. Unless a man learns this by experience, he cannot learn it by verbal teaching.


One day I choose to take a leap of faith and with my God given free will I confessed with my mouth that I believed in the Lord (that being even just a faint wanting to believe in Him). That was how it started, that's the mystery. You can't analyze everything, label it and put it on a shelf for reference. If you do that, you try to bring God down to our level, and that is impossible.
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« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2013, 09:14:27 AM »

I can't say much, because there is nothing I can say or do to convince you. All I can say is, I was the most Godless athiest you will ever meet. I hated God. I thought I was better than everyone else and I loved listening to Hitchens and his snobbiness. In my arrogance I began to fall deeper into sin and darkness.

One day my (former) athiest friend called me and during the conversation told me he was becoming Catholic. I was confused with how such a smart person would ever consider turning to Christ. Until one day he flew up to Jersey from Texas to visit. I asked him in person how could he have come to the conclusion he did. He told me "I had a friend who tried to kill himself," (to this day I believe he was talking about himself) "and a good number of people whom he didn't even know did everything in their power to help him. I don't care what anyone says, but science can not explain why these people would go out of their way against their own interest to help him."

He then told me "My step-dad had 6 children die on him (in miscarriage). Every time the a child was lost he had a dream where a child would point at nothing and say ' Who is that man? Is he going to protect me?'" I then began to research different athiests and muslims and why they converted to Christianity. I began to think to myself, "If all of these people, especially my friened, could come to believe this, then maybe I can too."

For years I lived in fear and darkness. I could not bear the thought of losing my wife, of losing my own life, because I began to take atheism to its logical conclusion: nihilism. every day I would almost weep in fear that everything I had was worth nothing and that I would never see my loved ones again, and that their last moments would be filled with pain and sorrow and nothing more.

That night I knelt down in my living room at the middle of the night. I cried and begged and apologized to God, and he filled me with peace and joy like I had never known before. All of my pain was wiped away in an instant. After dealing with Calvinism, evangelical protestantism, and catholicism, I concluded that the Eucharist was the body and blood of Christ. The church fathers, saints, and even Luther could not deny the real presence. I walked into  an Orthodox parish one day and asked to be given communion (since i was baptized Orthodox at birth) and he said I had to take confession first. My first confession was one of the greatest experiences of my life. After my first Liturgy, I haven't left.

I pray that you come to trust the Lord. I never thought I would ever be part of such a Church in my wildest dreams. I beg you, for your own sake. I believe the Lord has brought you here for a reason. Open your heart to the truth, and the truth will make you free.

I was the same as you. I relied purely on science and observation. But what I never understood and always neglected as an athiest was the experience. I now realize that no one can take that away. Hitchens says "I'd rather think that there is a mass hallucination than a supernatural occurrence." I used to think that too, that everyone was crazy. Well, I'm sorry to say, but I don't believe people are that crazy, at least not anymore.
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« Reply #25 on: July 19, 2013, 10:18:08 AM »

As Convert Issues Moderator I want to welcome you to our Forum. The purpose of the Convert issues forum is to provide a a place on the OC.Net where inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted could ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. Many of those posting in this area are ignorant of Orthodox teachings and are using this forum to understand what are the basic teachings and practices of the Orthodox churches. Due to the simplicity of many of their requests and responses, direct and simple answers with sources if possible are most helpful.

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« Reply #26 on: July 19, 2013, 10:59:14 AM »

I would love for you to post your best philosophical arguments for the existence of a deity
There are no good philosophical arguments for the existence of a deity.

I also do not think arguments for a deity are good enough to sustain a belief in such.

But we don't preach an Unmoved Mover, we preach Christ crucified.

FTR my post is basically explaining that the Orthodox don't rely philosophical arguments for the existence of God.

This seems to me, from my own biased angle of viewing things, to be simultaneously a great strength and a great weakness.
It wouldn't be Christianity without compounding paradoxes.

I know that doesn't provide much solace...
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« Reply #27 on: July 19, 2013, 11:08:41 AM »

I think the belief in God goes beyond logic. Just think about the argument of the prime mover, or the causeless cause, how the Universe came to be. Even if you approach this issue atheistically it still goes beyond logic, and is illogical. Orthodoxy means correct praise, or correct faith. In depth a correct appreciation of things. Good faith, correct faith is essential to life. Faith is part of our life even if we want to admit it or not. We need faith in order to create, be prosperous and progress in life. True faith is existential, experimental. In the beginning every belief is small, even in your dreams, your imaginations, etc, it begins as small as a dot and you have to aliment it and feed it. Faith is part of our lives and the fuel of our lives. I think faith is God, the Logos (The Second Person of the Trinity). Good faith is healthy beneficial and I think even faith in God is healthy and beneficial as someone else before me said that the atheist are jealous on christians/theists for their happiness. If a prime mover exists than it is meek to ackownledge Him/Her/It. Exactly how appreciating everything in life at its correct value is meek and rewarding. Some things just cannot be explained fully logically at least by me. Some things we just feel. Like the rewarding feeling you get when you do good to someone from the heart or when you connect with someone without even speaking. My advice is that you should also ask/notice a priest about this. Kind regards!
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« Reply #28 on: July 19, 2013, 06:17:25 PM »

I think the belief in God goes beyond logic. Just think about the argument of the prime mover, or the causeless cause, how the Universe came to be. Even if you approach this issue atheistically it still goes beyond logic, and is illogical. Orthodoxy means correct praise, or correct faith. In depth a correct appreciation of things. Good faith, correct faith is essential to life. Faith is part of our life even if we want to admit it or not. We need faith in order to create, be prosperous and progress in life. True faith is existential, experimental. In the beginning every belief is small, even in your dreams, your imaginations, etc, it begins as small as a dot and you have to aliment it and feed it. Faith is part of our lives and the fuel of our lives. I think faith is God, the Logos (The Second Person of the Trinity). Good faith is healthy beneficial and I think even faith in God is healthy and beneficial as someone else before me said that the atheist are jealous on christians/theists for their happiness. If a prime mover exists than it is meek to ackownledge Him/Her/It. Exactly how appreciating everything in life at its correct value is meek and rewarding. Some things just cannot be explained fully logically at least by me. Some things we just feel. Like the rewarding feeling you get when you do good to someone from the heart or when you connect with someone without even speaking. My advice is that you should also ask/notice a priest about this. Kind regards!

 Then the logic follows that the love of tzatziki is beyond Gyros Grin
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« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2013, 02:34:50 PM »

Thank you for all of your replies.  The general consensus seems to be that I should speak to a priest.  I will speak to a priest once I return to school.

 
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« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2013, 03:43:05 PM »

welcome ncc82602 and tcolon90 (what an awesome name, is part of your colon 90cm long?!)
thanks for sharing your stories.

i agree that an experience of God is necessary.
ncc82602, He loves you and will reveal Himself to you.
you don't have to wait to see a priest to start to pray.
address your prayers to 'God if there is one' or whatever feels right to you.
if there is no God, you are praying to nothing and no one will know (don't shout unless you are in the dessert!) so don't be afraid to pray.

look at the book of matthew in the Bible, and ask God to show Himself to you through this book (it seems to have been written for new believers and enquirers).
we pray for you to find the origin of all true love, our Lord and our God.
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« Reply #31 on: July 21, 2013, 05:46:26 PM »

I've always liked these thoughts, from Fr. Thomas Hopko. He calls them his "10 Essential Conditions For Coming To Know God's Truth."

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.

Welcome to the boards!


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« Reply #32 on: July 21, 2013, 08:13:56 PM »

No. My colon is not 90cm long lol. my last name is colon (pronounced cologne). It's puerto rican.
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« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2013, 08:52:56 PM »

No. My colon is not 90cm long lol. my last name is colon (pronounced cologne). It's puerto rican.

This reply, and the question it answers, has to rank among the oddest exchanges I've read here.  laugh
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« Reply #34 on: July 21, 2013, 09:45:34 PM »

Thank you for all of your replies.  The general consensus seems to be that I should speak to a priest.  I will speak to a priest once I return to school.

Good luck. Feel free to ask questions here if they come up, fwiw I've found the people very civil and insightful.

(On a different topic, if I understand your username correct... Ezri became a captain? Oh........ boy.  But that is another thread.  Smiley )
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« Reply #35 on: July 21, 2013, 10:44:33 PM »

ncc82602,

Even though William Lane Craig is not Orthodox, I think he has valuable insights and information to offer atheists and skeptics. He is considered by some to be the greatest apologist of the last half century. He is a brilliant philosopher, and the best debater I have ever seen. Many of his debates are on Youtube.
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« Reply #36 on: July 22, 2013, 10:44:53 AM »

I've always liked these thoughts, from Fr. Thomas Hopko. He calls them his "10 Essential Conditions For Coming To Know God's Truth."

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.


Coming to this realization changed my life. (it ain't as easy as it sounds, however!)
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« Reply #37 on: July 22, 2013, 10:55:35 AM »

ncc82602,

Even though William Lane Craig is not Orthodox, I think he has valuable insights and information to offer atheists and skeptics. He is considered by some to be the greatest apologist of the last half century. He is a brilliant philosopher, and the best debater I have ever seen. Many of his debates are on Youtube.
Yes, Craig is awesome.
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« Reply #38 on: July 22, 2013, 12:35:55 PM »

There are no real arguments because God is transcendent Person (three persons) and He reveals Himself by choice (otherwise remaining undetected/stealthy by human powers). However, the Orthodox claim that God is here with us and He is in charge of us (while allowing our will to co-operate with His). The problem is that we are separated from Him in terms of direct face to face communion since Satan was able to distract us and bring the world of sin into our world. So, as Orthodox we try to go back into the heart and meet God there (where He already is) and re-form our normal relationship with Him. So, really, it's a matter of heart, not of rational arguments. Plus, we don't need to question God's existence because we know He loves us (you question His existence when your view or perception of Him is wrong and see Him as a despot or someone who cannot tolerate sin until we escape it; or ultimately one would question Him because they actually don't like Him at all and this would continue forever, even after meeting Him face to face). So, you need to believe and trust; there is no way around this since God is love by nature and is accessible only in this way; rationality and human plans lead elsewhere always.
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« Reply #39 on: July 22, 2013, 12:40:31 PM »

I would suggest listening to Orthodox music.  It really had an impact on me even before I even started reading/thinking about Orthodoxy.

This is what I started listening to first.

http://www.last.fm/music/Monks+and+Choirs+of+Kiev+Pechersk+Lavra
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« Reply #40 on: July 22, 2013, 02:16:52 PM »

I've always liked these thoughts, from Fr. Thomas Hopko. He calls them his "10 Essential Conditions For Coming To Know God's Truth."

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.

Welcome to the boards!



I like! Very Pascal.
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« Reply #41 on: July 22, 2013, 03:09:42 PM »

ncc82602, been there, done that. I never quite considered myself an atheist due to the constant need to search, almost by definition it made me an agnostic. I could never make the leap to "there is no god"...because the preponderance of evidence suggested that human beings don't understand a whole bunch of things much less complex than God. As the old saying goes..."You don't know what you don't know."

My priest made a few points to me that I found truly remarkable, and I would like to share them with you:

1. We are the only animal that has the knowledge that we will die. A very unique gift. By all logic, that knowledge, coupled with our ability to reason should mount in us an overwhelming depression that prevents us from getting out of bed in the morning. But we do. We go well beyond facing the world, and strive to live. Why? What in us compels action, the denial of truth in death, the essence of hope? It is the basis that we are different than the rest of the animals, because we have a soul. The whole man is more than an animal.

This concept is rife in nearly all human philosophy, since the beginning of recorded time, albeit worded very differently. Yes, that's right...the wealth of human experience points squarely to the idea of a soul.

2. If science can explain everything, and there is no God, then point 1 is moot, and you have no value...at all. Your existence is meaningless. While many people claim that track of thought, the evidence does not bear scrutiny. In their "meaningless" lives, they seek knowledge and wisdom...to what end? They diagnose diseases, and cure them. They make scientific discoveries. They build cities. Make laws. Seek to be better. Again to what end if life has no value?

Now imagine all that humanity is, from a different perspective. One that answers the idea of a soul, and that you do have value as a creation of God. Oh what room that leaves for new discovery, new answers, fulfillment in living! It is a much more fruitful place to be, and ironically, much more logical.

3. The existence of morality, again unique to humans, again, based on point 1, because of the soul. A species that destroys the best in its ranks will not fill many ecological niches...it will wipe itself out, and runs contrary to scientific principle. Humans by and large try to save even the weakest of its species. Why, with our scientific knowledge of "survival of the fittest", do we do this? The answer is morality, and by and large it is present even among non-believers. If it is not part of the natural order represented in the rest of the animal kingdom, logic dictates it comes from the soul, ergo God.

This was just one of the conversations I have had with Father Rade, but I was impressed with his ability to explain things outside of the concept of faith, but showing it is necessary and natural at the same time. It really changed my perspective. The key to faith (or belief in God) is the simple principle of the soul, present in all of us.

I hope this helps you. Godspeed.
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« Reply #42 on: July 22, 2013, 03:29:26 PM »

I've always liked these thoughts, from Fr. Thomas Hopko. He calls them his "10 Essential Conditions For Coming To Know God's Truth."

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.

Welcome to the boards!



I like! Very Pascal.

I love Pascal!
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« Reply #43 on: July 22, 2013, 03:55:02 PM »

I've always liked these thoughts, from Fr. Thomas Hopko. He calls them his "10 Essential Conditions For Coming To Know God's Truth."

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.

Welcome to the boards!



I like! Very Pascal.

I love Pascal!
Convert thread, so all I will say is... Smiley
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« Reply #44 on: July 22, 2013, 03:57:20 PM »

I've always liked these thoughts, from Fr. Thomas Hopko. He calls them his "10 Essential Conditions For Coming To Know God's Truth."

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.

Welcome to the boards!



I like! Very Pascal.

I love Pascal!
Convert thread, so all I will say is... Smiley
I wasn't a fan of Pascal until I actually read Pascal and then I thought:  "Hey this guy is pretty smart"

I continue to dislike how many people try to use Pascal, however.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 03:58:10 PM by TheTrisagion » Logged

Have you considered the possibility that your face is an ad hominem?
Somebody just went all Jack Chick up in here.
Tags: atheist  Willing  To  convert 
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