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#775872 - 01/14/04 12:46 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by phykell: But which one is right though? Any of them? [/b]
First of all, sorry I didn't answer your first question, I thought you were just being polemical.

On this: Most religions have "us" in a position of reaching up to God. All fine. But there is only one religion where God reaches down to us.

That's where I would I would place my money.

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#775873 - 01/14/04 01:17 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
johnmoonlight Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 2384
Loc: Lancaster, pa
 Quote:
Originally posted by phykell:
it has to continue to develop after the birth because the size of the cranium is now at the limit that the pelvic girdle can allow through it. /QB]
Wrong. The human brain has almost completely developed by mid-pregnancy. Sure, the brain continues to grow, but the potential is all there at birth. Now I don't deny that evolution does exist. Of course it does. But simple evolution could never have produced such a specimen.
We don't attempt to get to God by doing good things as you have suggested. We find God and as a result, our behavior is directly influenced.
Now, I'm off to bed. I've been up all night and the 'ol lids are gettin' heavy.
_________________________
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.

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#775874 - 01/14/04 01:35 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posed by JohnnyMoon: Wrong. The human brain has almost completely developed by mid-pregnancy. Sure, the brain continues to grow, but the potential is all there at birth. Now I don't deny that evolution does exist. Of course it does. But simple evolution could never have produced such a specimen.
We don't attempt to get to God by doing good things as you have suggested. We find God and as a result, our behavior is directly influenced.
Now, I'm off to bed. I've been up all night and the 'ol lids are gettin' heavy. [/b]
This guy is as good as they friggin' get.

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#775875 - 01/14/04 03:07 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
phykell Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 697
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by johnmoonlight:
Wrong. The human brain has almost completely developed by mid-pregnancy. Sure, the brain continues to grow, but the potential is all there at birth. [/b]
First you say I'm wrong, then you admit that the brain continues to grow and I don't really know what you mean when you mention the word "potential". Either it has more to grow after the birth or it doesn't. The fact is that after birth a newborn begins a rapid period of brain growth and that in the first four years of life, the brain increases to 80% of its eventual adult weight. Certainly there are two soft spots (fontanelle) on a new-born's skull where the skull bones have not yet fused. The one at the top of the head is large and diamond-shaped, and closes at around 18 months. The smaller, triangular one is at the very back of the head and closes at about six months.

I suggest that the normal human baby is actually born many months prematurely and that the reason is that at full term, the baby's head could not pass through the mother's pelvic girdle? It is as a result of evolution that we have a such a compromise. Consider a typical foal that can stand on its feet within a very short time after the birth and be running around very soon after that.

Back to the supposed "superiority" of Man, and imagine biologists and genetecists' surprise when at the end of the human genome project, they found that we hardly have any more genes than the other primates, some 33,000 in fact. They had forecast 100,000 or even 120,000! Further, despite obvious differences between (say) chimps and humans, brain imaging has revealed only minor neurological differences and evolutionary changes to gene DNA sequences may be less than 1%! (from New Scientist, October 2003).

 Quote:
Originally posted by johnmoonlight:
Now I don't deny that evolution does exist.
Of course it does. But simple evolution could never have produced such a specimen.[/b]
So have humans evolved at all? What have they evolved from?

Do you agree that the pelvic girdle is an evolutionary dead-end? Do you agree that is the reason that babies are in fact born so helpless for so long? Do you agree that babies really could do with a little longer than 9 months development in the womb?

 Quote:
Originally posted by johnmoonlight:
We don't attempt to get to God by doing good things as you have suggested. We find God and as a result, our behavior is directly influenced.[/b]
I believe you are sincere John and many people are hopefully like you but I would say many religious people perform good deeds just to please their God rather than because it's the right thing to do. I wonder which is more virtuous in God's eyes?
_________________________
If you vote me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

========

Evil cannot be conquered in the world. It can only be resisted within oneself.

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#775876 - 01/14/04 04:22 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Dwain Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 2419
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
Crap. I just spent half an hour of my workday writing a reply, and it got lost somewhere in the posting process...

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#775877 - 01/14/04 05:37 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Dwain Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 2419
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
Okay, second try:

 Quote:
Originally posted by phykell:
...but if I live my life as a good person, I can say that I do so without expecting some reward in the after-life and I think in many ways, that's a more noble attitude than some religious people who act virtuously in the belief God is watching them. [/b]
I guess people would consider me a "religious person." I do indeed believe that God is watching us, but that is not the primary reason that I attempt to live my life according to God's will - which is my definition of living a "virtuous life."

I believe that we do not achieve God's approval or salvation by adhering to (or trying to adhere to) a list of divine "do's and don'ts." I believe that God's salvation is offered to us, via His grace (i.e., not through anything that we've done to "earn" it). We then must exhibit faith in God to reach out and accept this gift. Once we do that, our faith and commitment to become a disciple of Christ (i.e., one who lives a life disciplined by Christ's instructions to us) makes us live in that manner because we owe it to God to obey His instructions, in recognition of the salvation offered freely to us, but at a cost that we ourselves could never pay.

We obtain a relationship with God, through Christ, because of our faith. Our faith, and the assurance of the truth of our salvation, then strengthens us and makes us live as selflessly as possible as His disciples. These are two sides of the same coin, but their subtleties are important. Faith in God is the way in which we are saved, and a selfless life follows from the faith. If it doesn't, the faith doesn't actually exist.

So if there are "religious people" who are merely doing good works as if they're trying to avoid the wrath of some supernatural ticked-off Parent, they've missed the point, and won't avoid any of their worst fears.

And God does not call us to merely do good works; he first calls us to acknowledge His existence and sovereignty. It's possible to do good works without faith, but that's not what we are called to do. It's been said that "faith without works is dead." It's equally true that works without faith is hollow, at least in God's eyes.

 Quote:

I wonder how many religious people are capable of sincerely selfless acts and I wonder how many can even be sure they have done any. [/b]
I can think of a few.

 Quote:

As a non-believer I am capable of such acts and I can be sure that I've done some. [/b]
I'm sure that you have too, but from a Christian perpective, God demands more of us. He first demands that we obey his command to "Follow me." The rest follows after that.

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#775878 - 01/14/04 05:37 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by DL: Crap. [/b]
Dwain, now that you're an Elder shouldn't you be saying things like, "Pshaw!" or "Oh, Fudge"? \:D

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#775879 - 01/14/04 05:47 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Dwain Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 2419
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
 Quote:
Posted by DL: Crap. [/b]
Dwain, now that you're an Elder shouldn't you be saying things like, "Pshaw!" or "Oh, Fudge"? \:D [/b]
:D

Actually, elder or no elder, that was already downgraded from what I said to myself when I realized I lost the post, which was something more like "Oh ****! I just lost a whole ****** half hour typing a ******* post that I'm going to have to ******* try to recreate!!!!

\:D

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#775880 - 01/14/04 07:01 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Mr. Gould Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/01
Posts: 1111
I am no expert in evolution or the bible but where the heck did dinasaur's come from if their fossils date back millions of years before god "made" our earth? "To test the faith of my children I will scatter fossils all over the world
. MAUHAUHHAUAHA!"

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#775881 - 01/14/04 07:23 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
jkeene Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/08/03
Posts: 701
Loc: Central Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
 Quote:
Posted by DL: Crap. [/b]
Dwain, now that you're an Elder shouldn't you be saying things like, "Pshaw!" or "Oh, Fudge"? [/b]
Years ago, after wrestling unsuccessfully with a software problem, I found the perfect phrase.

"I verbed with that noun all adjective day".

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#775882 - 01/14/04 08:49 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
phykell Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 697
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:
I guess people would consider me a "religious person." I do indeed believe that God is watching us, but that is not the primary reason that I attempt to live my life according to God's will - which is my definition of living a "virtuous life." [/b]
Yet you realise that there is at least a point to living a virtuous life, that you believe in an after-life and a place in heaven. How then, can your acts of virtue not be coloured by the fact that you know you are earning kudos (for want of a better explanation), not that I think it's necessarily a bad thing of course. It must be nice to have something to believe in.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:
We then must exhibit faith in God to reach out and accept this gift...[/b]
Far easier said than done I'm afraid.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:
So if there are "religious people" who are merely doing good works as if they're trying to avoid the wrath of some supernatural ticked-off Parent, they've missed the point, and won't avoid any of their worst fears.[/b]
Well at least they've demonstrated faith though.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:
It's equally true that works without faith is hollow, at least in God's eyes.[/b]
Now that I can't agree with or at least I cannot believe your God would be so dismissive of someone who lives a virtuous live with no thought of reward in the after-life, with no other reason really to be virtuous than because that person has defined their own morality and ethics.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:
I'm sure that you have too, but from a Christian perpective, God demands more of us. He first demands that we obey his command to "Follow me." The rest follows after that. [/b]
It's all he'll get from me I'm afraid, the virtue without the promise of reward I mean. If he does exist, he will know what's in my heart anyway so he'll know that I'd happily believe in him if I could. It's just that with the life experience I've had and the way my brain is wired, I simply can't. Sometimes I wish I could though, believe me.
_________________________
If you vote me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

========

Evil cannot be conquered in the world. It can only be resisted within oneself.

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#775883 - 01/14/04 09:00 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
kathyk Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 6971
Loc: Maine
Phykell, I really appreciate your thoughtfl posts here, since you're clearly going against the PF grain. I think more of us than would be willing to publicly admit, fall into the agnostic category. After all - I'm a closet (as in, candle in the bushel-basket) Lutheran, \:o and not a very good one at that. I love pondering this type of discussion.

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#775884 - 01/14/04 09:11 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Jack Frost Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/10/03
Posts: 4454
Loc: Maine
 Quote:
Originally posted by phykell:
It's all he'll get from me I'm afraid, the virtue without the promise of reward I mean. If he does exist, he will know what's in my heart anyway so he'll know that I'd happily believe in him if I could. It's just that with the life experience I've had and the way my brain is wired, I simply can't. Sometimes I wish I could though, believe me. [/b]
Well said and as close to what I believe...at least what I would believe if I gave it much thought. I have always thought (hoped?) that it didn't matter whether there was a judgmental GOD because if you led a good life you would be rewarded and if there is no GOD then the good life you led was its own reward. But I must admit, a small part of me envies those who have this FAITH in something more, but like you I cannot imagine being one of those. I am not wired that way either....Is there hope for me or will I end up in hell, notwithstanding all the good things I have done, just because I have not accepted HIM (her?).

KathyK...agnostic Lutheran? Really. Oxymoron?

jf
_________________________
"Make the pie higher." GWB

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#775885 - 01/14/04 09:21 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
kathyk Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 6971
Loc: Maine
 Quote:


KathyK...agnostic Lutheran? Really. Oxymoron?

jf [/QB]
I didn't say that.

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#775886 - 01/14/04 09:29 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Jack Frost Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/10/03
Posts: 4454
Loc: Maine
 Quote:
Originally posted by kathyk:
 Quote:


KathyK...agnostic Lutheran? Really. Oxymoron?

jf [/b]
I didn't say that. [/QB]
then WHAT did you say.........perhaps you would like to discuss this further over at the martini thread?

jf
_________________________
"Make the pie higher." GWB

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#775887 - 01/14/04 11:55 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Dwain Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 2419
Loc: Columbus, Ohio

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#775888 - 01/15/04 12:26 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
Dwain, if we adhere to the reasoning that it is not worth to live a virtuous life if there is no god, that is indeed very unfortunate.

Even if there is no god, then our deeds here on earth do not evaporate. We have our lifespan in order to make a difference in the lives of others, and enjoy ourselves here. I do not see the absolute need for a reward greater than what you can achieve in life.

Life may be compared to a computer: you use it, gain a great deal from it, and then it is finally time for it to go. If the computer is simply trashed, will all of the good it did you be meaningless? Of course not. Such is the case with our lives here.

Why live a good life then if no one is watching? Life has real consequences, pains, and joys, all of which are more real to us here than god is. The idea of god is just an idea and it goes as far as inspiring people, but our actions in life are far more important.

I do believe there is some sort of god, and I believe he is more or less neutral in regards to what goes on in life. (Free will, no divine intervention). Thus it makes sense that both evil and good came from the same god, regardless if it was his intention or not, it was his power that allowed it to happen.

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#775889 - 01/15/04 12:44 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
I do not believe that God will welcome with open arms someone who may have done good physical deeds, while simultaneously denying His existence and sovereignty over all creation. [/b]

The question has already been answered...

Matthew 7:21-23: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Luke 13:3-5: "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish".


But the clearest answer is here:

Ephesians 2:8-10: For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#775890 - 01/15/04 01:35 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Dwain Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 2419
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:
Dwain, if we adhere to the reasoning that it is not worth to live a virtuous life if there is no god, that is indeed very unfortunate. [/b]
Oh, it would be worse than merely unfortunate Crash Test. My describing that condition as Hell wasn't just a literary flourish.

 Quote:
Even if there is no god, then our deeds here on earth do not evaporate. [/b]
Correct. They do not evaporate, and they remain good. But God expects more of us than just good. As I said before, anyone can do "good" for all sorts of motivations. What matters to God is deeper than that. God wants us to know that He is, and what He is, and how we are to respond to that knowledge.

 Quote:

We have our lifespan in order to make a difference in the lives of others, and enjoy ourselves here. [/b]
Also correct to an extent, but your words also identify the problem, and ultimately, the fatal error in considering the "virtuous life" in a godless vaccuum. You've stated the concept well: under this manner of structuring one's life, it becomes a constant balancing act between the two usually contradictory goals of "helping others" and "enjoying ourselves." Without some absolute "yardstick" that we can use to determine the proper placement of the fulcrum in that balance, different people will set the balance at all different places. Without the criteria-setting Yardstick, the balance very quickly is lost, favoring the side of "enjoying ourselves." Likewise, without the Yardstick, there is no way, and no justification, to say that someone else is being too self-centered and not altruistic enough. Everyone's interpretation - everyone's placement of the fulcrum - is equally valid in a world with no absolute right and wrong, with no imposition of a standard from an overarching authority - or said another way, with no God.

Whether we like it or not, humankind's entire sense of morality is dependent upon an a priori assumption of a divine being, regardless of any particular culture or understanding of the nature of this divine being. (Note that this is a long way from the specific ideas regarding God and Christ from a Christian perspective that I've discussed to this point; I'm speaking far more generally here.) This is an irrefutable: without a minimal acceptance of a higher, divine being, all morality becomes subjective and situational. Equally irrefutable is that all subjective and situational situations will devolve - and rather quickly, at that - to a "lowest common denominator" scenario. In other words, with no God, no matter how we might like the concept of altruism or living a virtuous life, anyone who would even try to live such an existence would quickly be overrun by those who are perfectly happy to live their lives less virtuously. And my point is that in such a culture, and with no higher authority saying "this is the truest, best way to live," a person would be foolish to try to adhere to an arbitrary set of values higher than that accepted by society at large.

 Quote:

I do not see the absolute need for a reward greater than what you can achieve in life. [/b]
If I examined that issue in a vaccuum, I'd agree that there is not necessarily any "need" for a reward greater than one could receive on earth. But two thoughts. First, I believe that we are more than just biological entities; I believe that we are spritual creations whose lives extend beyond our relatively short physical lifespan on earth. Further, I believe that our physical lives are to be a learning and testing ground for what we do relative to our relationship with God, and are to be "laboratories" for us to develop our faith in that relationship. Again, I don't believe we're rewarded for doing good things. I believe that we're rewarded for how we handle the questions "Is there a God?"; "Who is God?"; and "What does that mean to me?" I keep returning to this concept: we're not rewarded for our works - which in the scope of eternity amount to less than a popcorn fart (no one should ever want to be judged by an omnipotent being based on the value of his works). We're rewarded for our faith in God; any virtuous deeds performed are, at best, only a secondary issue.

Second, I also believe that the rewards of a Christian life do not start the split second after I die. I live them today as well, so my experience of our earthly existence is not meaningless at all.

 Quote:
Life may be compared to a computer: you use it, gain a great deal from it, and then it is finally time for it to go. If the computer is simply trashed, will all of the good it did you be meaningless? Of course not. Such is the case with our lives here. [/b]
Let me also use your analogy. The computer was designed and created by an intelligent being to do certain things; to be a particular way. In the eyes of the computer's creator, its value is entirely dependent upon its appropriate execution of those functions and its acceptable interface with its creator. If the computer malfunctions - if the computer fails to recognize the identity of, or commands given by, its creator; if it fails to do the things that its creator designed it for, then the computer quickly becomes useless to (and in an analogy we can probably all relate to, cursed by) its creator. When the computer fails to respond to the creator's wishes, the creator will discard the computer. He will not say to his computer, "Well, I know you're not doing what I wanted you to do and you're not accepting my commands, but I love you and am going to keep on using you regardless. You will stay here on my desktop."

In both our analogies, the computer ends up in the trash. Your analogy is fine if our consciousness ends at the grave. I don't believe that it does. I believe that there is a larger issue to be dealt with, and, unlike the computer, a longer term of consciousness that we need to address.

 Quote:

Why live a good life then if no one is watching? Life has real consequences, pains, and joys, all of which are more real to us here than god is. [/b]
While you may genuinely believe so, it is not universally accepted as fact that the things you've identified as real are more real than God in our earthly existence. Further, consider that many of those joys and pains are actually the voice of God. I know that I've personally experienced this to be true, but in a larger sense, look at the Biblical stories wherein God issued a calling to someone to do a task for Him. Moses, Noah, Abraham, Jeremiah, Jonah - the list goes on and on, and in every case that I can think of, the calling involves the recipient of the calling being made uncomfortable, and taken out of his particular "comfort zone." In many cases, these people tried to run away from God's call, with painful results, until they listened to, and accepted, God's will for them. I believe that this continues today. I believe that not all bad is necessarily bad, and not all joy is necessarily good. I believe that both can indeed be God.

 Quote:

The idea of god is just an idea and it goes as far as inspiring people, but our actions in life are far more important. [/b]
This is the summation of our disagreement. I believe the exact opposite.

 Quote:
I do believe there is some sort of god, ...[/b]
While that's a step beyond "it doesn't matter whether God exists or not; what matters is how we act," I don't believe even that's enough. Even Satan believes in God. What matters is our understanding of the nature of God and how we respond to Him.

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#775891 - 01/15/04 01:43 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by phykell: It's just that with the life experience I've had and the way my brain is wired, I simply can't. Sometimes I wish I could though, believe me.[/b]
Dwain,

(phykell, sorry to talk behind your back here,) but isn't phykell talking expressly to Calvin's doctrine of election? Isn't he saying, "I'm not elect"? and he understand that and then can go on with his life. If the grace of faith isn't given, than it isn't given. If phykell know this that what else is there for him to do?

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#775892 - 01/15/04 02:16 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Dwain Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 2419
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
 Quote:
Posted by phykell: It's just that with the life experience I've had and the way my brain is wired, I simply can't. Sometimes I wish I could though, believe me.[/b]
Dwain,

(phykell, sorry to talk behind your back here,) but isn't phykell talking expressly to Calvin's doctrine of election? Isn't he saying, "I'm not elect"? and he understand that and then can go on with his life. If the grace of faith isn't given, than it isn't given. If phykell know this that what else is there for him to do? [/b]
(sorry phykell, still talking behind your back... ;\) )

Yes, I think that's exactly correct Tom. We cannot have faith without the grace extended to us to have that faith, and we cannot respond to a calling before it has been made. That concept, running from Calvin to Bonhoeffer and beyond, has been bouncing around in my brain ever since I decided to jump in here. That question is in large part what is so interesting to me about this current conversation.

I do think, though, that while a person may not have received the grace of faith at a particular point in his life, that doesn't mean that God has written that person off. Perhaps that person isn't ready to hear the voice of God yet (part of the discussion about suffering through life's hard knocks, etc. - I think that this is a big part of the answer to the original question of this thread, "Why does God allow bad things to happen?"), but at a time of God's choosing, that grace will be extended. My comments so far have all been intended to just discuss my own personal beliefs relative to the various issues raised (and not specific to discussing anyone's particular circumstances); to hopefully be remembered and helpful some time down the road if such a call is given; and to respectfully suggest keeping one's options open regarding seeing things differently in the future.

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#775893 - 01/15/04 02:38 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
Dwain, thank you for your thoughtful response. This subject matter appears to be one in which I will dedicate a lot of time to pondering, as I think it is pretty important.

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#775894 - 01/15/04 04:51 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6186
 Quote:
Originally posted by Renauda:
...
I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go,
...
Got it.

Man = God's Yo-Yo

Sometimes away we're let go,
Sometimes back in we're reigned,
Always a string attached to the devine,
At times it winds and at times it unwinds.

Spin, spin, spin!
When things seem to go awry,
Hands and fingers from up high,
Reach down to have knots untwined.

Spin, spin, spin!
On the karmic wheel we ride,
Spin, spin, spin!
On Tao the Way we stride.

Spin around and merry we go,
With Ohms and Amens,
And I am,
Sublime.

_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#775895 - 01/15/04 04:57 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
Ax--

Great post.

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#775896 - 01/16/04 07:42 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
DT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 1478
Loc: Illinois
 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:
I do think, though, that while a person may not have received the grace of faith at a particular point in his life, that doesn't mean that God has written that person off. [/b]
Now we're closing in on the Wesleyan concept of prevenient grace. One corollary is that God is at work in everyone with the exception of the one who rejects the grace that is offered.
_________________________
Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell...

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#775897 - 01/16/04 08:28 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by DT: quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:
I do think, though, that while a person may not have received the grace of faith at a particular point in his life, that doesn't mean that God has written that person off.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now we're closing in on the Wesleyan concept of prevenient grace. One corollary is that God is at work in everyone with the exception of the one who rejects the grace that is offered.
[/b]
I thought Dwain's comment was pretty interesting, too. From my understanding (which very well could be wrong,) of Calvin--one either is elect or not elect and nothing changes because that's the way God planned it before all eternity.

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#775898 - 01/16/04 08:36 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
johnmoonlight Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 2384
Loc: Lancaster, pa
Some of the questions and statements in this thread have stuck with me the past few days as I have pondered appropriate answers/explanations. Several excellent questions have been asked by those not so sure of the existence of God. And as usual, Dwain has given top-notch responses.

The general crux of this thread is the question of whether the universe exists as is, for no apparent reason, or whether there exists a power behind it that makes it what it is. There is the materialist view which believes that space and matter are just here for no apparent reason; we don't know why, we assume it resulted from some fluke and that nature behaves in certain fixed ways and has produced by chance, creatures like us that are capable of thought.
The other view is the "religious" view whereby we believe that there is something behind all of this, similar to a mind, with a conscious that has produced a similar being(humans) with a conscious as well. Everything in this world, except one, we gain from simple observation. Man, however, is not an observation; we *are* men.
Now this is where you say, so what? But there are two inherent laws to mankind: One is that there is a constant influence of the Moral Law(or Law of Nature) that is always getting at us in some way. The other is that all men break this law. These two laws form the foundation of all human thought.
Some argue that "Moral Law" is simply "herd instinct". Well this can't be true. When you see a man drowning in a river, your herd instinct tells you to run to get out of harm's way. Your moral compass tells you to help the drowning man.
How do we know that there is a "Somebody" behind all of this? The evidence is two-fold. The universe that He has made is the obvious one.(BTW, religions that classify as Pantheism, believe that God *is* the universe, whereas, Christians believe that God *made* the universe.)
The other bit of evidence *is* the Moral Law. You will find out more about God based on the Moral Law than by the most intense observations of the universe itself. Now based on this, we know that the "somebody" is extremely interested in proper conduct and goodness. Moral Law is a strict, unforgiving doctrine. We all face a dilemma when it comes to Moral Law. On one hand we agree that if there is a God of absolute goodness that He should disapprove of *any* wrong-doing. On the other hand if there is a force that is based on absolute goodness, then it must also hate most of what we do. If the universe is *not* overseen by a power after absolute goodness, then all of our efforts are hopeless in the long run. If we agree that the universe *is* governed by a power after absolute goodness, then each day we unintentionally attack that goodness. This is the major dilemma that actually makes us totally dependent on God. Because, with what I have said, God can be the only comfort.
Christianity promises forgiveness if we repent.
Why is the world cruel and unjust? Because God gave us free-will. Free-will allows us to be good and to enjoy love, kindness, joy etc., but it also makes evil possible.
The fact that we as humans are superior allows us to do great things if all goes right but very terrible things when it goes wrong.
Jesus was sent by God as a man who basically "footed the bill" for us. Things were right and have gone terribly wrong. God wants us to make those things right again.
A direct quote from one of the best books ever written(Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis)
"...atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."
_________________________
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.

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#775899 - 01/16/04 09:17 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
posted by John Moonlight: Moral Law is a strict, unforgiving doctrine. [/b]
In its most basic form Moral Law is Love and nothing more. Love is the trancendance of the spiritual into the physical world. When we love, we look to do what's best for ourselves and for each other in this world. Moral Law in it's rules and regulations is just a codification of the "best" way to live in this world without harming others or oneself. Sin is always a lack of love and is an entrance of the carnal into the spiritual creatures God meant us to be.

The interesting thing about the Bible is that it is revelation...and by that I mean literally revelation. The Bible is a chronical of how God slowly introduces himeslf to the world. First as a law giver in the Old Testament. The rules and regulations seem almost random at first and then little by little they unvail and we begin to see a pattern to them, unclear and foggy at first but a pattern...

Then Christ comes along and says: "look these rules the Father has been giving you don't mean a thing in themselves--they just point you to who he is--and that's Love." And then he says, "see how it works!" And then he dies on the cross for us.

And when you have Love the rules aren't rules, they are just an expression of who God wants you to be. And when you get to that point you begin to see where heaven really is. It's not somewhere up there, but rather somewhere in there.

(By the way of full disclosure: the is the Catholic vantage on how all this holy stuff works. Other Christians may see all this somewhat differently.)

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#775900 - 01/16/04 10:52 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Dwain Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 2419
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
I thought Dwain's comment was pretty interesting, too. From my understanding (which very well could be wrong,) of Calvin--one either is elect or not elect and nothing changes because that's the way God planned it before all eternity. [/b]
While I haven't read much Calvin firsthand, I think that you're right, Tom. I just take maybe a slight twist to that concept. When I said that a person can't respond to a call unless and until a call has been given, that's the concept I was trying to address. I just extend that to say that I believe that while God may not call a person at point A, that does not preclude Him from waiting for another time of His choosing, at point B, to call that person.

Things get very tricky here: being omniscient, God knows ultimately who will, and who will not, follow Him. But since His actual wish is for all mankind to know and accept Him,I believe that He does nonetheless, give a calling to every person, at some time in his life, in order for the person to make an actual decision to accept or reject Him.

Of course, what we're talking about is predestination. I do not believe in the concept of predestination defined as God creating some miserable, almost subhuman class of people who are "pre-damned" by God's own hand and who have no hope of salvation.

I do, though, believe in predestination defined as God knowing the ultimate outcome of one's decision. I do not believe that the decision made by a human to accept or reject God is predetermined by God, only that the individual's decision is pre-known. In other words, the ultimate decision for or against God remains with the individual. The term "predestined" truly only addresses the eventuality of the outcome, not the cause or the source of the outcome.

Similarly, if I see a child step off the curb into the path of an oncoming bus, I know in advance that the child is going to be killed or severely injured; but my foreknowledge of the child's fate does not mean that I had anything to do with him stepping into the street.

So if Calvin defined the term in the first sense, that's one point where he and I would disagree. Like I said, I haven't read his writings yet, but he's on my "to read" list. ;\)

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#775901 - 01/16/04 11:21 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Dwain Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 2419
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
The interesting thing about the Bible is that it is revelation...and by that I mean literally revelation. The Bible is a chronical of how God slowly introduces himeslf to the world. First as a law giver in the Old Testament. The rules and regulations seem almost random at first and then little by little they unvail and we begin to see a pattern to them, unclear and foggy at first but a pattern...

Then Christ comes along and says: "look these rules the Father has been giving you don't mean a thing in themselves--they just point you to who he is--and that's Love." And then he says, "see how it works!" And then he dies on the cross for us.

And when you have Love the rules aren't rules, they are just an expression of who God wants you to be. And when you get to that point you begin to see where heaven really is. It's not somewhere up there, but rather somewhere in there.

(By the way of full disclosure: the is the Catholic vantage on how all this holy stuff works. Other Christians may see all this somewhat differently.) [/b]
Well, that's pretty much the way this Presbyterian views the Bible, too. To me, it is a progressively unfolding explanation of God, leading to Jesus the Christ, and illustrating the significance to us of that revelation. Or as we would officially say, "the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God's Word to us."

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