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#775782 - 01/09/04 05:07 PM Sincere questions on God
zorro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/03/03
Posts: 271
Loc: Mesa, AZ
PLEASE keep in mind that:
1) I'm (relatively) young.
2) I'm not taught religiously AT ALL. Meaning, when it comes to that matter, I AM IGNORANT.
3) I don't want to start a war.

Assuming God exists by that name,

1) Why did he let that terrible earth-quake happen on Christmas day?

2) Assuming that an honest, kind and pure person that happens to be a complete atheist dies, he/she should go to Heaven, right? Wrong. God only lets in His followers. Isn't that Degrading to Him by bringing Him down to the low level of human thinking? Being [Himself], he should not care who one believes in. Denying the right to heaven to a non-believer would be personal vengeance, the same thing we frown upon.

Zorro
_________________________
"I love Beethoven, especially the poems."
Ringo Starr

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#775783 - 01/09/04 05:22 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
shantinik Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 4271
Loc: Olympia, WA
To my way of thinking (there are plenty of others, and others are plenty entitled to them), religions and belief systems are created by humans for humans. They may be guided by principles that are placed in the human mind or in the world, but their working out both in systems of belief and in institutions is a human creation.

Sometimes these systems and institutions help us get closer to God, or so we would like to believe. And sometimes they don't, which is why even the most fundamentalist of belief systems is always changing. (That's simply a fact of history, not a statement of what should or should not be the case.)

The most interesting part of the phrase "believe in God" is the middle word. What does "in" mean? Do you believe "in" your big toe? "in" mathematics? "in" DNA? "in" the validity of the latest issue of TV Guide?

The earthquake? God is often said to be "Omnipotent, Omniscient, and All-caring". It it clear to me (from everything from earthquakes to the murder of innocents) that S/He can, at any one time, be only two out of three.

You can take your pick as to which. That's what theology is made on.

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#775784 - 01/09/04 05:28 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
I am young as well, and just finished up in a Catholic high school last year. (4 years with religion courses(!), although I do not confess to being anywhere near an expert on such matters, I just have a small amount of information)

Although I am still thinking heavily on this matter, my current conclusion is that there is a God, but one far, far, different than any notion that we may have of him. Right now I do not believe in much of what is in the bible.

It is kind of absurd for man to automatically think that god is "all good" and merciful. We have no evidence of this, and if one were to look at the reality of our world instead of the bible, we would see things more correctly.

Life had to start somewhere. The universe had to start somewhere. Both came from nothing, the universe or god included. Judging by how humans, through our own perspective, are advanced creatures, I have to believe that there may be some larger power to account for this, as I am not sure how the universe would come together so perfectly, but I see a chance that there is no god and everything is indeed by randomness. (Although I incline towards the former at the present.)

Having said this, I think that the human notion of god is made up by humans, and I would not be suprised if most religious are obviously wrong and only gained the influence they have because of power/political ambition in the past and not because of some outside power.

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#775785 - 01/09/04 05:35 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
1) Why did he let that terrible earth-quake happen on Christmas day?

2) Assuming that an honest, kind and pure person that happens to be a complete atheist dies, he/she should go to Heaven, right? Wrong. God only lets in His followers. Isn't that Degrading to Him by bringing Him down to the low level of human thinking? Being [Himself], he should not care who one believes in. Denying the right to heaven to a non-believer would be personal vengeance, the same thing we frown upon.[/b]
Dear Zorro,

1. God doesn't "let" anything happen here. It's our world.

2. It's not a matter of vengeance, it's a matter of character. It's a matter of who you are, not so much in relationship to "heaven" but a interrelationship to what all of creation really entails. To deny the spiritual (i.e. atheism,) is to deny who we really are. And if we can't recognize ourselves and we can't recognize God, how can we expect God to recognize us. Heaven is not a place. It is being in the presence of God.

So, there's a misconception here. Christians don't go to heaven when they die. They are in heaven as they walk this earth and they continue to be in heaven after they die. The physical state changes--the spiritual never does. That's what's meant by eternal.

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#775786 - 01/09/04 05:38 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
Tom, could you elaborate a bit on what you think our spiritualism actually is? Some invisible force that contains everything we experience?

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#775787 - 01/09/04 05:52 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Tom, could you elaborate a bit on what you think our spiritualism actually is? Some invisible force that contains everything we experience?[/b]
Dear CrashTest,

I was fudging, and you caught me at it. Spiritualism is just God and our relation to him and nothing else. If he does exist he would demand all our attention--after all he created us and all this other stuff. If he doesn't--the hell with it.

Seems to me there's no middle ground. Spiriualism is our relationship to God. No God, than all is crap.

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#775788 - 01/09/04 05:57 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
 Quote:
Originally posted by shantinik:

The most interesting part of the phrase "believe in God" is the middle word. What does "in" mean? Do you believe "in" your big toe? "in" mathematics? "in" DNA? "in" the validity of the latest issue of TV Guide? [/b]
I don't believe in my big toe but I do know God. If we would know more and believe less then this would be a much kinder, gentler world in which to live.
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775789 - 01/09/04 06:07 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
If we would know more and believe less then this would be a much kinder, gentler world in which to live.
[/b]
In case anyone ever wanted to see WRONG, this is exactly, exactly, what WRONG looks like.

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#775790 - 01/09/04 06:17 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
Happy to oblige you. Whether right or wrong I don't really care. I take it you don't like Zen either.
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775791 - 01/09/04 06:20 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
 Quote:
Originally posted by Renauda:
 Quote:
Originally posted by shantinik:

The most interesting part of the phrase "believe in God" is the middle word. What does "in" mean? Do you believe "in" your big toe? "in" mathematics? "in" DNA? "in" the validity of the latest issue of TV Guide? [/b]
I don't believe in my big toe but I do know God. If we would know more and believe less then this would be a much kinder, gentler world in which to live. [/b]
Not to repeat myself here, but could you elaborate on how it is you know God? One could establish a relationship with an idea of God, but that is obviously a very one-sided relationship. (I believe so anyway, and although we all would like to have a god who responds and answers prayers, I am afraid I cannot fathom how something like that can be done. I doubt anyone else in a sane state of mind can claim such intervention without going into the idea of faith, which returns the argument to the beginning again.)

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#775792 - 01/09/04 06:36 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
Tom~*K alias Elion~*K says I am WRONG so I won't write anything more on this. Sorry Crash. After all I wouldn't want to be branded a heretic. You might howvere read some good literature like Tolstoy, Dostoevskii and Hesse to point you in a direction that will help answer at least a part of your question.
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775793 - 01/09/04 06:41 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
 Quote:
Originally posted by Renauda:
Tom~*K alias Elion~*K says I am WRONG so I won't write anything more on this. Sorry Crash. After all I wouldn't want to be branded a heretic. You might howvere read some good literature like Tolstoy, Dostoevskii and Hesse to point you in a direction that will help answer at least a part of your question. [/b]
Thanks, I have read some Tolstoy and will take a look at the works of the other two.

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#775794 - 01/09/04 06:46 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by Renauda: Tom~*K alias Elion~*K says I am WRONG so I won't write anything more on this. Sorry Crash. After all I wouldn't want to be branded a heretic. You might howvere read some good literature like Tolstoy, Dostoevskii and Hesse to point you in a direction that will help answer at least a part of your question.
[/b]
Excellent point. And the writers Renauda pointed to will point you to the place I was referring to all along: the Bible.

There is something there.

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#775795 - 01/09/04 06:56 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
Yes upon rare occasions there are brief moments of lucidity in my thinking.
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775796 - 01/09/04 07:09 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
I am WRONG so I won't write anything more on this.
Wrong, because then you posted:

 Quote:
Yes upon rare occasions there are brief moments of lucidity in my thinking[/b]
:rolleyes:

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#775797 - 01/09/04 07:24 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
So I lied. After your bouquet I couldn't resist. Thank you I am now finished with this thread unless of course someone asks me to return. :p
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775798 - 01/09/04 07:28 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
So I lied. After your bouquet I couldn't resist. Thank you I am now finished with this thread unless of course someone asks me to return.[/b]
Please.

Return.

Please.

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#775799 - 01/09/04 07:32 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 Renauda:
So I lied. After your bouquet I couldn't resist. Thank you I am now finished with this thread unless of course someone asks me to return. :p [/b]
Renauda, I am sincerely interested in what you have said, but could you please elaborate?(on the original post, that is)
I truly believe that there are NO atheists in the foxholes; so when I come upon an atheist, I reckon' they've never been in a foxhole. (?)
_________________________
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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#775800 - 01/09/04 08:02 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
zorro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/03/03
Posts: 271
Loc: Mesa, AZ
I ask you to return too.
And, also I will second John m's post by asking you to say what's on you mind.(you have my attention)
_________________________
"I love Beethoven, especially the poems."
Ringo Starr

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#775801 - 01/09/04 08:31 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
Since Renauda's not here momentarily, let me postulate his presence:

"Ah yes! the greats! The Russian greats...what do they mean, what do they mean?" "Could they say more with less words or less with more words--that we shall never know!"

"What truths do they tell? "Can they speak?" Well, no they are dead, how could they speak?" "Oh, well maybe they could speak through their works." "But, what is work" "Shall we interpet it by the Soviet model or the capitalist model..." Etc.

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#775802 - 01/09/04 08:32 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
Since Renauda's not here momentarily, let me postulate his presence:

"Ah yes! the greats! The Russian greats...what do they mean, what do they mean?" "Could they say more with less words or less with more words--that we shall never know!"

"What truths do they tell? "Can they speak?" Well, no they are dead, how could they speak?" "Oh, well maybe they could speak through their works." "But, what is work" "Shall we interpet it by the Soviet model or the capitalist model..." Etc.

Double post...but it bears repeating!

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#775803 - 01/09/04 08:39 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If we would know more and believe less then this would be a much kinder, gentler world in which to live.


Renauda, I understand what you said and agree completely. (I could explain it to Tomk (and will if you don't later) but I have a date.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#775804 - 01/09/04 09:14 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by apple: Renauda, I understand what you said and agree completely.[/b]
He's a hose head. It's something more than understanding. Lot's of people understand economics and can't make a nickle. Lot's of people understand religion and can't say a prayer. Lot's of people understand love and walk around with huge holes in their hearts.

Understanding only gets you so far in this world. Understanding alone is the real meaning of doom.

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#775805 - 01/09/04 09:43 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:

Understanding only gets you so far in this world. Understanding alone is the real meaning of doom. [/b]
jkeene paraphrasing Tom-*K

Science without wisdom gives all the Frankensteins of men less significance than one of God's mosquitoes.
---
jkeene paraphrasing Tom-*K paraphrasing Renauda

Great Russians' essence is not their essence, our ignorance has not died yet.
---
jkeene not paraphrasing anyone

Knowing a three-sided coin is a belief understood.

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#775806 - 01/09/04 09:48 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
[QUOTE]He's a hose head. It's something more than understanding. [/b]
Indeed sir, the matter which was being discussed is beyond mortal comprehension. Through faith I can know (as opposed to believe) God is but I cannot comprehend God. Nothing heretical about that- in fact I seem to recall it being very much in line with Orthodox and Catholic theology.

Also there was no need to refer to me a hose head. Such epithets directed towards others not only reflect very badly on your character and outward behavior but also can be regarded as veiled prejudice. Having said that, kindly permit Apple and others here to carry on what would have been a civil discussion.
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775807 - 01/09/04 11:01 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
I thought hose-head was a Canadian term of endearment. And how come kathy with a k isn't a pony?
_________________________
"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
Wheels

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#775808 - 01/09/04 11:05 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
 Quote:
Originally posted by zorro:
PLEASE keep in mind that:
1) I'm (relatively) young.
2) I'm not taught religiously AT ALL. Meaning, when it comes to that matter, I AM IGNORANT.
3) I don't want to start a war.

Assuming God exists by that name,

1) Why did he let that terrible earth-quake happen on Christmas day?

2) Assuming that an honest, kind and pure person that happens to be a complete atheist dies, he/she should go to Heaven, right? Wrong. God only lets in His followers. Isn't that Degrading to Him by bringing Him down to the low level of human thinking? Being [Himself], he should not care who one believes in. Denying the right to heaven to a non-believer would be personal vengeance, the same thing we frown upon.

Zorro [/b]
Zorro, I have given your post a lot of thought before answering. I'm still not sure I'm ready. But I'm going to try. You have asked one of the most important questions you'll ever ask in your life, and it deserves an answer that has been well thought out, and with seriousness.

Everyone, me included, is going to naturally filter their response through their own religious belief system. Nothing wrong with that, except it can get a bit confusing to keep up with, and in such a setting as this it could create more confusion than answers. I want to try to answer you without seeming as though I'm "knocking" anyone else's beliefs in the process.

First of all, there most definitely *is* a God. God *does* love you, me and everyone else. God does *not* cause earthquakes, or any of the other bad things that happen in life. There is a reason God created us, regardless of the method you choose to accept that he used to do the creating. Before you can understand the complex issues you've asked about regarding whether God is reducing Himself to human's level, why He wants you to "believe" in Him only, you must understand what God's plan for mankind is.

The only way to do that is to study, and the best place to start your study is by reading the book of instructions he left us. Yes, we came with an owner's manual.... It's called the Bible.

Find a group of kids your age in your community who are studying the Bible and trying to learn God's plan for man, and how they fit into that. You will find that you are much much more than a mere human. You will find that God is much much more than some callous being up in the clouds causing earthquakes, car wrecks, or letting a little child walk out in front of a car. You will find that instead of God being unfair or cruel, He has a purpose for mankind far above the issues of mortality.

I am far from a perfect man. I don't live my life all the time according to my own beliefs. In other words, I'm a simple human. But I can tell you that I have no doubts that God is real, I have experienced His power, and as well as I am able, being the poor excuse for a Christian that I am sometimes, as humbly as I know how, I will be happy to talk with you offline any time you want, by phone, by email, whatever. I'll help you find information to answer your questions, whatever I can do.

Just keep seeking God. I'll tell you this: you can find him on your own, you don't need us. Just humbly ask Him to reveal himself to you. Talk to him, and ask him to come into your heart and reveal himself to you. If you truly seek to know God with a true and sincere desire to know him, and open your mind and heart to him, he will reveal himself. I don't mean he'll knock on the door and you'll find him standing there. But you'll know it when it happens. Just keep searching and don't give up.

Man.... I hope I did that right. I hope it all made some sense. And I hope you're able to see how very much I want to help you.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#775809 - 01/09/04 11:25 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
 Quote:
Originally posted by gryphon:
I thought hose-head was a Canadian term of endearment. And how come kathy with a k isn't a pony? [/b]
No, a hose head is an habitually drunken male with little or no education, a foul mouth, crude sense of humour and bad personal hygiene but is nevertheless employed. I think it may be the equivalent to what you might refer to as Trailer Trash.

I have no idea what the second part of your question means.
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775810 - 01/09/04 11:43 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
See what things you learn here? The McKenzie brothers never explained all that.
_________________________
"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
Wheels

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#775811 - 01/09/04 11:47 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Mark I. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/05/03
Posts: 14
Loc: Chesapeake, VA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larry:
Man.... I hope I did that right. I hope it all made some sense. And I hope you're able to see how very much I want to help you. [/b]
Larry, I don't think you need to have any worries on that score. Wonderful post, and I agree with you 100%.

-Mark

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#775812 - 01/09/04 11:48 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
Having faith in god seems to be a prerequisite for living a happy life. Must it be so? In our current society, especially when riddled with uncertain circumstances (No atheists in a foxhole is perhaps a worthy analogy), the thought of a god does look admirably attractive.

If you look at it, believing in what a god does or could have done should not theoretically affect our lives. The way we act day to day is what is important, and then the message is purged from everything in religion and some follow it. It seems to me that one could be completely happy and fulfilled in life, without faith in a deity, if one is a good person and follows ideas similar to what Christianity and other religions preach without being being a Christian, or Jew, or Muslim, etc. I do concede that attaching a God to such matters makes the entire package more sellable and attractive, almost as if the church is an amiable door to door salesman.

I believe in a god, but that should not affect how I live my life or how others live theirs, because what we experience on earth is real, and if there is something that happens to us after we leave, than our time here will have different meaning, but if nothing happens, we will have had the opportunity to live regardless of all else. The idea of is very comforting, and the messages in the bible are of such great levels of inspiration that it makes things a little hard to swallow. Faith is a good defense mechanism for when we need to believe in something greater than ourselves, or when things go wrong- but it does not automatically mean that the object of this faith is anything more than a figment of man's imagination.

Maybe the idea of god, like the wheel or fire, is just another early invention of man in order to make life easier.

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#775813 - 01/10/04 12:40 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
Having faith in god seems to be a prerequisite for living a happy life. Must it be so? [/b]


No, it is just the opposite. You will suffer the same problems as those who have no faith. You will get sick, you'll go broke, you'll lose loved ones, step off the curb and the car will hit you, all just like the person who has no faith. You may often face ridicule. And you'll see people who refuse God living just like you, and many living even better than you, happier than you. A person who refuses God may nevertheless live a fine, upstanding life. But living a moral, upstanding life isn't all there is to it. Your life on earth is just a journey, a mere speck of time in your eternity. Living a "happy life" is not the point as far as God is concerned.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#775814 - 01/10/04 01:23 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
 Quote:
Originally posted by gryphon:
See what things you learn here? The McKenzie brothers never explained all that. [/b]
Bob and Doug called one another "hoser". That's kind of an endearment to someone who just likes to drink a lot of beer and have a good time with friends. A party animal of sorts. Then there's a hose bag, that's a nasty term for...well, you get my drift I'm sure.
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775815 - 01/10/04 02:15 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larry:
Having faith in god seems to be a prerequisite for living a happy life. Must it be so? [/b]


No, it is just the opposite. You will suffer the same problems as those who have no faith. You will get sick, you'll go broke, you'll lose loved ones, step off the curb and the car will hit you, all just like the person who has no faith. You may often face ridicule. And you'll see people who refuse God living just like you, and many living even better than you, happier than you. A person who refuses God may nevertheless live a fine, upstanding life. But living a moral, upstanding life isn't all there is to it. Your life on earth is just a journey, a mere speck of time in your eternity. Living a "happy life" is not the point as far as God is concerned. [/b]
If a happy, upstanding life is not the point for God, why does it matter that we live on earth to begin with? Couldn't we just float around in the spirit world and fullfil God's plan if this is such a small part of our journey?

I don't know about you, but I sure do not remember whatever phase came before my life on earth in my journey, and nor do have I received any notice from God as to it's next place, but I do remember my life on earth. (I have pictures to prove it.)

;\)

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#775816 - 01/10/04 06:13 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
johnmoonlight Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 2384
Loc: Lancaster, pa
Well said, Larry. Excellent post.
_________________________
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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#775817 - 01/10/04 07:16 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
EHpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/27/03
Posts: 1703
Loc: NY-Madrid-Newfoundland (rhymes...
To Larry and TomK

I have a few questions for you:

1) Have you ever looked at the bible as just a book? A book of stories, rather than word of god? Someone had to put ink to paper at some point, and write all these ideas they had in order to make sense of their lives and their spirituality as best they could with the little scientific knowledge that they had at the time (ours is still very much lacking but a little farther ahead). Have you ever read your bible from a secular standpoint?

2)Why do you believe that the perspective of these few men who wrote down the ideas in the bible is Truth rather than just a vehemently believed point of view --just as any other rationalizing of our lives can be?

3) If a contemporary man or woman had "visions", heard the word of god telling them to esentially re-write parts of the bible, and they honestly believed it was god who asked them to do this, would you follow any new teachings handed down from this person? What, in your opinion, is the difference between their perspective and that of those who were chosen to be the authors of the original writings?

4)Why do you believe it is a requirement for a person to believe in god in order to be spiritual and act benevolently towards fellow man? Can't spirituality can be a sense of togetherness not only with your fellow man but with all that surrounds us, a feeling of true connectivity and purpose within existence? Is moral and ethical action in man exclusively driven by fear of god and fear of missing out on the final jackpot or by a desire to enable our coexistence with our fellow humans and with our environment (not limited to nature) to be as full as possible?

These are serious questions I would appreciate a thoughtful response, not a vindicative one.

Elena
http://www.concertpianist.com
_________________________
Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."

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#775818 - 01/10/04 08:02 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Annihil8or Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/02
Posts: 273
Loc: England
I think the idea of God is just a useful mental tool to help yourself out of bad situations.

I believe that we are all connected mentally though.

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#775819 - 01/10/04 11:28 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
well Renauda - I must apologize for reneging on my offer to explain to Tomk. I am not very comfortable commenting on personal beliefs. I will say Tomk; that Renauda. was probably responding historically rather than from his personal perspective.

I'll add that the 11th commandment should be: "Thou shalt be polite", and also that our Christian God most likely approves of how most other cultures or peoples define him (or her*).

*for Bernard
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#775820 - 01/10/04 03:42 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
apple, as far as Ranauda goes,

for me his posts leave the impression of an army of pompus phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea. Sometimes his meandering words actually capture a straggeling thought and bear it triumphantly as a prisoner in their midst until it dies of servatude and overwork. But mostly he's a hose head. Oops! I stand corrected, a hoser.

I like him though.

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#775821 - 01/10/04 03:43 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
Apple, actually it has no more to do with history than it does with the crass materialism which another member of this Forum took it to mean. It's actually very spiritual and deeply personal. It is as much Christian in its origin as it is of any other creed or faith. I have done well by it so far in my adult life and therefore have no intenetion to discard it in order to conform and accommodate others in the confines of an organized system of beliefs or dogma.

In keeping with other posts that have appeared in this CR from time to time, permit me to post the words of a deceased Englishman who summarized very accurately at least a part of what I was trying attempting to relate:

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing,
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin,
When I say that I'm o.k. they look at me kind of strange,
Surely your not happy now you no longer play the game,

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away,
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me,
When I tell that I'm doing Fine watching shadows on the wall,
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball?

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,

People asking questions lost in confusion,
Well I tell them there's no problem,
Only solutions,
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind,
I tell them there's no hurry...
I'm just sitting here doing time,

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.


Perhaps he was wrong too. I don't know, but I'll give his lyrics the benefit of my doubts.
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775822 - 01/10/04 03:52 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
used to play that song on the guitar.. and sing

I'll have to think a while to understand what you are trying to convey.

Tomk - Aren't hosers from Oklahoma?
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#775823 - 01/10/04 03:52 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
And then again, when gently prodded Renauda can write an excellent post.

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#775824 - 01/10/04 03:55 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by apple: Aren't hosers from Oklahoma?[/b]
Let's find out.

JBryan, are you a hoser!

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#775825 - 01/10/04 04:27 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
Actually I am no longer quite the hoser I used to be some years back. Still, I do enjoy a rollicking beer drinking bout with good company, (hosers of course) fine food and hard drivin' music. Hell, I'll drink with anyone if the timing and occasion is right! ;\)
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775826 - 01/10/04 04:40 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Actually I am no longer quite the hoser I used to be some years back. Still, I do enjoy a rollicking beer drinking bout with good company, (hosers of course) fine food and hard drivin' music. Hell, I'll drink with anyone if th etimings right! [/b]
Knew it! Henceforth I will consider you a friend and will dispense only kindness and good will in your direction. I have been impolite and I am now contrite. You are an interesting person.

Tom

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#775827 - 01/10/04 04:48 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
Gee, I hope you like British beer, Deep Purple and seering Chicago and Texas Blues. Cheers!
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775828 - 01/10/04 05:00 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Gee, I hope you like British beer, Deep Purple and seering Chicago and Texas Blues. Cheers!
Tadcaser Porter, Double Diamond, Whatney's and Guiness Stout--warm. (In that order.) Been to Montreaux just to see. And I'm the most bad ass blues guitar player on the entire Piano Forum!

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#775829 - 01/10/04 06:42 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
Cool. What's your axe? Mine's a Red TexMex Telecaster with Joe Barden pickups. I use .009 D'Addarios. I also have an el cheapo Godin Radiator that I have set up for playing slide - I use .017 Dobro strings on that puppy.

Get down to some Boogie Chillin'.
_________________________
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

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#775830 - 01/10/04 07:00 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
Best guitar ever: a Bradlee-caster. Bought it a a cheepo store called "Bradlees's" and did it up myself. Wound the pickups, wired it in quad.

Also have a Les Paul Special that Les Paul himself played and pre CBS Srat.

Nice to meet you. You just never know.

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#775831 - 01/10/04 07:00 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
Best guitar ever: a Bradlee-caster. Bought it a a cheepo store called "Bradlees's" and did it up myself. Wound the pickups, wired it in quad.

Also have a Les Paul Special that Les Paul himself played and pre CBS Srat.

Nice to meet you. You just never know.

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#775832 - 01/10/04 10:56 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:
If a happy, upstanding life is not the point for God, why does it matter that we live on earth to begin with? Couldn't we just float around in the spirit world and fullfil God's plan if this is such a small part of our journey?[/b]
Maybe, but I think that

1. Much, if not all, of our suffering is the result of our human imperfections, most notably the flaw of abusing our free will to disobey the will of God or to deny the existence of God himself. In other words, that part of our existence was not what God wanted, but since we collectively burned our butts, we've got to sit on the blister.

2. God's plan for us must include developing a love for God, and an understanding of His nature, that can only come through these negative experiences. I've learned far more about the nature of God, and my relationship with Him, through adversity than ever through comfort. As spritual beings, we will ultimately live on "this side" of creation and on the "other side." Only by living through some of the adversity of "this side" can we prepare for our ultimate destiny of undestanding God's will for us, both here and there. Another aspect is that I believe that Christians are commanded to serve as, figuratively and literally, as the body of Christ; the physical manifestation of God on earth. Experiencing these problems and having one's faith tested and refined by them helps us personally - but helping others as they experience the bad times, and equally importantly, having others observe how you, as a Chrisitan, weather these storms - is worth far more than reading a thousand pages of theology in terms of understanding what God is really all about.

Not experiencing the physical life, and just floating aorund in a happy celestial state and apparently without a free will to disobey our Creator, is apparently not what God wanted for us. Apparently he wanted better. He wants us to become Sons of God. That's a pretty high calling; "a little above angels," quoting from the Bible. I gues with a high calling comes some pretty difficult homework.

Zorro and Crash Test, you both asked sincere and good questions. I've spent much of the last several years wondering some of the same things, and I continue to search for answers. I don't claim to have all the answers; far from it actually. I'm just trying to throw out a few more crumbs of food for thought for folks going down the same path as me...

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#775833 - 01/10/04 11:03 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Dwain Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 2419
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
(oops...)

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#775834 - 01/10/04 11:13 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
netizen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/01
Posts: 1926
Loc: New York
"If a happy, upstanding life is not the point for God, why does it matter that we live on earth to begin with?"

I suppose one quick answer is: some vessels were made for wrath.

Your original query reminded me of Mark Twain's short story "Little Bessi". Check it out sometime.

A work that I think you might like and it's quite readable is Paul Tillich's "The Dynamics of Faith". He is one of my favorite religious thinks of the 20th century. He nicely distinguishes between "faith", "belief", "knowledge". And, if I remember, rightly gets to the matter of theodicy by end of the book. Also his "Courage to Be" is a good read. But I'd start there.

Another is Martin Buber's old "I and Thou". Sorry I can't give you answers to your questions. The best I can do, at least for the moment, is point in the direction of some things I've found useful in thrashing through some of the same questions.

Good questions. Keep asking.

(If you've the inclination, perhaps you'll find Edwards "Sinners in the Hands of Angry God" a fun read ;\) )
_________________________
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that
we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."-- Theodore Roosevelt

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#775835 - 01/10/04 11:38 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
Dwain and netizen, thank you both for the replies.

I will check out those books, since although we may never know the answer, knowledge sure gets us a little closer!

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#775836 - 01/11/04 07:54 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
EHpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/27/03
Posts: 1703
Loc: NY-Madrid-Newfoundland (rhymes...
*bump.*

Since Larry and TomK don't are unwilling to respond to my questions I would appreciate a response from any Christian who would like to clarify these points for me. Essentially I am trying to understand the religious reasoning behind the belief that the Bible is the word of god, the last question was directed more at TomK regarding a comment he made in this thread.

Thanks,

Elena
http://www.concertpianist.com

 Quote:
Originally posted by EHpianist:
To Larry and TomK

I have a few questions for you:

1) Have you ever looked at the bible as just a book? A book of stories, rather than word of god? Someone had to put ink to paper at some point, and write all these ideas they had in order to make sense of their lives and their spirituality as best they could with the little scientific knowledge that they had at the time (ours is still very much lacking but a little farther ahead). Have you ever read your bible from a secular standpoint?

2)Why do you believe that the perspective of these few men who wrote down the ideas in the bible is Truth rather than just a vehemently believed point of view --just as any other rationalizing of our lives can be?

3) If a contemporary man or woman had "visions", heard the word of god telling them to esentially re-write parts of the bible, and they honestly believed it was god who asked them to do this, would you follow any new teachings handed down from this person? What, in your opinion, is the difference between their perspective and that of those who were chosen to be the authors of the original writings?

4)Why do you believe it is a requirement for a person to believe in god in order to be spiritual and act benevolently towards fellow man? Can't spirituality can be a sense of togetherness not only with your fellow man but with all that surrounds us, a feeling of true connectivity and purpose within existence? Is moral and ethical action in man exclusively driven by fear of god and fear of missing out on the final jackpot or by a desire to enable our coexistence with our fellow humans and with our environment (not limited to nature) to be as full as possible?

These are serious questions I would appreciate a thoughtful response, not a vindicative one.

Elena
http://www.concertpianist.com [/b]
_________________________
Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."

Top
#775837 - 01/11/04 09:33 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
Elena,

Sorry, I didn't answer right away. Been busy with kids, etc. Saturday is always hectic. I have tried to keep my answers "non-denominational" and to explain things as best I can in secular terms.

 Quote:
To Larry and TomK

I have a few questions for you:
1) Have you ever looked at the bible as just a book? A book of stories, rather than word of god? Someone had to put ink to paper at some point, and write all these ideas they had in order to make sense of their lives and their spirituality as best they could with the little scientific knowledge that they had at the time (ours is still very much lacking but a little farther ahead). Have you ever read your bible from a secular standpoint?
[/b]
Well, you're making me step out of my evil clown character and be serious for a second but the answer to you question is, yes. And I'll admit it's a different book than the one I see in a religious context. In a secular context I see the letters of a seriously unhappy man who has found true transcendental love so strong so unexpectedly and so passionate that it has exploded within him and that he can barely control.

I see stories of an idea that teaches that all men are brothers; played out in the Old Testament by placing one God--one unifying creator over everything. One God over the good guys and the bad guys. No longer is my god stronger than your god, but rather one God over all. That concept is totally alien to the way people think in this world. Even today we try to make out God (Christian,) and advisary of someone else's Allah, when that's not what the Bible says.

I see true to life human dramas in the Bible, some like the Book of Job, painfully inconclusive, some like the Story of David the tale of internal failure in the midst of outward success. And lastly I see the story the spiritual world crossing the line to the tangible and showing us here in the world that we aren't at all who we thought we are and the we belong somewhere else and that we could someday go where we belonged.

Interesting stories, some soap opera, some psychological drama and some would border on science fiction.

 Quote:

2)Why do you believe that the perspective of these few men who wrote down the ideas in the bible is Truth rather than just a vehemently believed point of view --just as any other rationalizing of our lives can be?
[/b]
Easy answer--it's a gift. Now the hard part: faith is something given maybe to all and some refuse to take it; maybe it's only given to some. But there is or rather I believe something called grace and it's a free gift of God. Why he's given that grace, I don't know other that I believes God created me and loves me.

Now how do I get myself out of the box of "well, that's a pleasant little rationalization, Tom"? I honestly don't know. I don't have any proofs that I can show you. I can tell you how I feel, but that's all. And that's meaningless. I honestly don't believe faith is something you can "feel" in any way. All the warm and tosties that some people feel with faith is all fine, but kittens can do as much for some other people. It's an aftereffect, nothing more. You either have faith or you don't. You can't acquire it in any way, but if you do have faith--you can discover the faith you already have by searching.

 Quote:

3) If a contemporary man or woman had "visions", heard the word of god telling them to essentially re-write parts of the bible, and they honestly believed it was god who asked them to do this, would you follow any new teachings handed down from this person? What, in your opinion, is the difference between their perspective and that of those who were chosen to be the authors of the original writings?
[/b]
Elena, LOTS of people have written changes and additions to the Bible over the last 2000 or so years and lots will continue to do so till the end of time. The convention wisdom on any new writings is that the Bible was "finished" the day John the Evangelist died on the island of Patmos.

But, why do I believe the old Bible writers are inspired by God and the new ones are nuts? First of all because of the grace thing I mentioned above. If one believes then the grace from that belief flows quite naturally. Credo ut intelligam. Not a very good answer for someone who doesn't believe. But, there is a structural integrity, allowing for all the diverse authors, to the Bible that points in the one direction that gets us from here to there--completely. It's subtle, hard to see, yet I think it's there. Any "additions" are only commentary, which are fine, or other things--which are not so fine.

 Quote:

4)Why do you believe it is a requirement for a person to believe in god in order to be spiritual and act benevolently towards fellow man? Can't spirituality can be a sense of togetherness not only with your fellow man but with all that surrounds us, a feeling of true connectivity and purpose within existence? Is moral and ethical action in man exclusively driven by fear of god and fear of missing out on the final jackpot or by a desire to enable our coexistence with our fellow humans and with our environment (not limited to nature) to be as full as possible?
[/b]
It depends on how you define spiritual. There can't by definition be any divine spirituality without a divine being. But on the other hand there is a commonality of all human being as brothers that can be expressed in a very spiritual sense. Even if one doesn't believe in the creator, one can still see what creation looks like. As to the moral and ethical questions--I can't say what best motivates people to be good, if it's a jackpot, that's fine with me, though being good to get a reward is not in essence a Christian notion. I'll say this: if someone isn't living in the land of the jackpot when they are alive, they certainly won't be living there when they die. Life for a Christian is a journey to the spiritual. As son's and daughters of God christians are hiphonated creatures. We are fathers-sons of God, and buisnessmen-sons of God, and accountaints-sons of God and mothers-daughters of God and drug addicts-son's of God and bank robbers-sons of God and this and that and everything else all strung out on a line to forever. And then one by one these thing fall away and when it's all over we find out who we really are.

 Quote:

These are serious questions I would appreciate a thoughtful response, not a vindicative one.
[/b]
That comment must be addressed only to Larry so I won't answer.

I hope I answered you questions a little.

Tom

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#775838 - 01/11/04 11:45 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
These are serious questions I would appreciate a thoughtful response, not a vindicative one.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That comment must be addressed only to Larry so I won't answer.

I hope I answered you questions a little.[/b]


Quit talking about me like that Tom, or I'll get you if it's the last thing I do......... \:D


Elena, I haven't been ignoring your questions. I've been very busy since you posted it. And even now, I only have time to explain why I haven't answered you. But by tonight, I will do so. Answering you will take some time - it is a deep question that will require careful thought.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#775839 - 01/12/04 12:21 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
John Andrew Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 3041
Loc: Southern California
I really am pretty good at knowing my own mind about lots of things. I read a lot, get lots of information and can hold my own on those topics I discuss.

I consider myself a religious man, a deep believer in God. When I read questions like those that started this thread and many of the responses, I have pat answers -- because like many of you, I have thought about this stuff and have worked it through in my own mind.

But then, once in a while, I realize the pat answers about God are not good enough and really explain very little. That in reality, God is unfathomable and I will never really understand His ways.

Let me share a little something that keeps me from having so much arrogance that I think I have God all figured out. Perhaps it will be a challenge to those of you who believe, those of you who scorn other's beliefs and even those of you who are searching.

It is from Fr. Anthony DeMello, a Jesuit priest.

BELIEF[/b]

The Master had quoted Aristotle:
"In the quest of truth,
it would seem better and indeed necessary
to give up what is dearest to us."
And he substituted the word "God" for "truth."

Later a disciple said to him,
"I am ready, in the quest for God,
to give up anything:
wealth, friends, family, country, life itself.
What else can a person give up?"

The Master calmly replied,
"One's beliefs about God."

The disciple went away sad,
for he clung to his convictions.
He feared "ignorance" more than death.
_________________________
You can be disappointed, but you cannot walk away. This fight has just begun. Senator John Edwards

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#775840 - 01/12/04 05:50 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
F# Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 42
 Quote:
BELIEF

The Master had quoted Aristotle:
"In the quest of truth,
it would seem better and indeed necessary
to give up what is dearest to us."
And he substituted the word "God" for "truth."

Later a disciple said to him,
"I am ready, in the quest for God,
to give up anything:
wealth, friends, family, country, life itself.
What else can a person give up?"

The Master calmly replied,
"One's beliefs about God."

The disciple went away sad,
for he clung to his convictions.
He feared "ignorance" more than death.
I like that. \:\)

I personally feel that a state of absolute humility is the "closest" you can be to God.

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#775841 - 01/12/04 07:33 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
bellepepper Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/03/04
Posts: 6
Loc: Georgia
You all have presented some very interesting, deep, and well written religious/spiritual thoughts here. The original question about how one sees the Bible--as the actual Word of God written through man and accepted on faith, as a collection of ancient historical writings, or as just a really long book written by multiple mostly unknown Jews to assist in keeping them collectively bound by word and thought since they never had a country to sink their culture into, were therefore prone to wandering around, which resulted in them being separated from each other and scattered all over the place. I digress here--my lifelong question is why are certain "biblical" texts (e.g., The Gospel of Thomas) written contemporaneously with the "accepted" books of the Bible, but totally and apparently irrevocably rejected? And rejected long, long ago by "who knows who" (there he is again!) and who knows why. So we currently don't read them. It would heresy to read them, some say. Why? Do you think there's a valid reason the ancient scholars rejected so many texts--I mean, like, does anyone think they actually had PROOF these texts were not The Word of God and the others were? After all, they accepted some writings on faith--meaning, I would interpret, they had no proof those texts WERE the real thing, they just didn't question it--so how could they prove other texts WEREN'T the real thing when they obviously couldn't prove anything about any of them? Why did they have "faith" in some texts and none in others? That's why I have trouble with the Bible--I'm not sure about any of it, really. But I do believe in God, usually--and as for atheists or non-believers or skeptics and their chances at going to Heaven, if there is one...well, I think they do get to Heaven. Because I feel if a person is inherently good and live their life in accordance with, say, God's teachings (the BIble?) then it doesn't matter if they are believers or not. I think their good spirits, unbeknownst to them, place them as one of God's children simply because they're following his path--God is within them, too, they just don't realize it. I hope this is true, because most of the really decent, good people I've met fall into this category.

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#775842 - 01/12/04 07:55 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
DT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 1478
Loc: Illinois
The History Channel recently ran a show that wemt into many of the writings, such as the gospels of Thomas, Mary, and Nicodemus, and why they were not selected for inclusion in the New Testament while also presenting gnostic scholars who supported the additional writings.

I think the Gospel of Mary agrees with your assessment of who gets to heaven. It basically says that God is merciful to all and in the end even those in hell will go to heaven by His grace.

I didn't see the whole show, only pieces, but nothing convinced me that these additional texts were scripture.
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#775843 - 01/12/04 08:24 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
bellepepper Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/03/04
Posts: 6
Loc: Georgia
I really do need to join the 21st century and get cable Tv (and a cell phone)--I miss all the good stuff. But since I have nothing to watch and no communication device, I read (mostly junk) and I don't like other people judging the veracity of what I read, especially not some cranky rabbi of 1500 years ago. I feel that these (non) scripture texts just might broaden our religious views and open up new paths. I've only read bits and pieces of some of them--and I found the Gospel of Thomas very differently presented than the other gospels without going off track on the content. Religion, especially Christianity, has, I think, gotten pretty stagnant--witness all the interesting comments on this thread compared to the boredom of a Protestant minister's Sunday morning sermon. Give me food for thought instead of the same old blah blah every Sunday about burning in Hell for no believable reason except the preacher's opinion that we will. And I'm also relieved to hear that all my friends are going to make it to the great hereafter! Hope I do.

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#775844 - 01/12/04 09:29 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
When discussing religion, particularly Catholicism, with an elderly lady (age 91 at the time) she aptly and patly responded to my religious queries by saying:

"It's not what you get out of it, it's what you put into it".

That comment has remained me I think, because it doesn't matter what you believe; we all believe different things, according to our upbringing and experience, yet it responds to the yearning and search for God by turning the tables on the quest for understanding, by saying it's not the road to God that is important, it's how you walk upon it.
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#775845 - 01/12/04 10:10 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
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Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
because it doesn't matter what you believe; we all believe different things, according to our upbringing and experience, yet it responds to the yearning and search for God by turning the tables on the quest for understanding, by saying it's not the road to God that is important, it's how you walk upon it.[/b]
We differ on this point. You diminish God from being the substantive object of all creation into a fluffy bunny that we can all take turns petting.

A prayer is a hug
Wrapped in God's love. \:D

And as an ageing hippie who once never trusted anyone over 30 said to me: "Never trust anyone over ninty." I believe him.

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#775846 - 01/12/04 10:21 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
 Quote:
because it doesn't matter what you believe; we all believe different things, according to our upbringing and experience, yet it responds to the yearning and search for God by turning the tables on the quest for understanding, by saying it's not the road to God that is important, it's how you walk upon it.[/b]
We differ on this point. You diminish God from being the substantive object of all creation into a fluffy bunny that we can all take turns petting.

A prayer is a hug
Wrapped in God's love. \:D [/b]
a fluffy bunny?

Many strong believers, people of great faith in their[/b] God would take issue with you. God speaks in many languages, thru the customs of peoples, in the love of mothers, in the traditions of religion, in the warmth of the sunlight and the turning of the seasons.

The statement my friend Julia (a wonderfully devout Catholic) made, suggests no such thing.. rather, that how we manifest what God is to us, is our 'substantive' contribution to how God is defined in our world.
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#775847 - 01/12/04 10:26 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
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Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Many strong believers, people of great faith in their God would take issue with you. God speaks in many languages, thru the customs of peoples, in the love of mothers, in the traditions of religion, in the warmth of the sunlight and the turning of the seasons. The statement my friend Julia (a wonderfully devout Catholic) made, suggests no such thing.. rather that how we manifest what God is to us is our 'substantive contribution' to how God is defined in our world.[/b]
Hop, hop, hop. Nibble, nibble, nibble.

No, God is other.

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#775848 - 01/12/04 10:29 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
other?? other what?
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#775849 - 01/12/04 10:36 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
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Posts: 5934
Other than trees and flowers and birds and hugs and kisses and sunlight and potato chips and everything else that makes us comphy and toasty.

You are describing panthesium not God.

We don't define God. God defines us.

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#775850 - 01/12/04 10:44 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
he defines the murderers, the rapists, the destroyers of love?

Remember, we have free will, (coupled w/ environmental factors)

We, collectively and individually define God. He is.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#775851 - 01/12/04 11:02 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
We, collectively and individually define God. He is.[/b]
No, just the opposite. He made us: he defines us. I paint a picture I name it, I define it.

As for the murderers, etc. They are defined through God by their lack of God. the problem with your way of thinking is that God could be anything you say it is: you say he's love, but we can only rely on your understanding of what love is and there is no way I can truly know what you think love is because you are another creature than I am with different feeling and different experiences. Your idea of love is subjective and relational only to you.

I'm saying that God (and love) is objective. Love applies equally to everyone. God loves everyone the murders and the Mother Thresa's.

You miss the point about what love is. You make it into a fluffy bunny.

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#775852 - 01/12/04 11:14 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
phykell Offline
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Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 697
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
 Quote:
1) Why did he let that terrible earth-quake happen on Christmas day?

2) Assuming that an honest, kind and pure person that happens to be a complete atheist dies, he/she should go to Heaven, right? Wrong. God only lets in His followers. Isn't that Degrading to Him by bringing Him down to the low level of human thinking? Being [Himself], he should not care who one believes in. Denying the right to heaven to a non-believer would be personal vengeance, the same thing we frown upon.[/b]
Dear Zorro,

1. God doesn't "let" anything happen here. It's our world.

2. It's not a matter of vengeance, it's a matter of character. It's a matter of who you are, not so much in relationship to "heaven" but a interrelationship to what all of creation really entails. To deny the spiritual (i.e. atheism,) is to deny who we really are. And if we can't recognize ourselves and we can't recognize God, how can we expect God to recognize us. Heaven is not a place. It is being in the presence of God.

So, there's a misconception here. Christians don't go to heaven when they die. They are in heaven as they walk this earth and they continue to be in heaven after they die. The physical state changes--the spiritual never does. That's what's meant by eternal. [/b]
1. It might be "our world", but it is still His creation and is fundamentally flawed if it can cause such disasters. Didn't He leave us enough to deal with, poisonous snakes, insects, superbugs, famine, pestilence, plague, etc.? Obviously not, He even allows the very ground we walk on to swallow us up and destroy our buildings.

2 "And if we can't recognize ourselves and we can't recognize God, how can we expect God to recognize us." He's omnipotent, that's how! Why should I have to make myself recognisable to God? Surely he knows eactly who I am, why I think like I do, why I cannot find it in myself to believe in or have the requirement to believe in Him. Surely he knows all this?

Then again, thinking back to the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve managed to hide successfully from him in just a few bushes. He had to actually call out to them to show themselves! Somehow, I'd have expected more from an omnipotent being.
_________________________
If you vote me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

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#775853 - 01/12/04 11:15 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
how - Tomk - do you account for the non-Christian religions of the world?
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love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#775854 - 01/12/04 11:23 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
DT Offline
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Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 1478
Loc: Illinois
 Quote:
Originally posted by phykell:
Then again, thinking back to the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve managed to hide successfully from him in just a few bushes. He had to actually call out to them to show themselves! Somehow, I'd have expected more from an omnipotent being. [/b]
Have you never played peekaboo or hide and seek with a child?
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Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell...

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#775855 - 01/12/04 11:42 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
phykell Offline
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Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 697
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by DT:Have you never played peekaboo or hide and seek with a child? [/b]
No I haven't but I take it you mean he knew where they were, that perhaps he was just being playful? Really?

To take it further, why was he then surprised that they were no longer naked? In fact, why is he ever surprised or angered by anything we've ever done or ever do? Surely he knows what we're going to do before we do it?
_________________________
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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#775856 - 01/12/04 12:43 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
DT Offline
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Posts: 1478
Loc: Illinois
Yup.

He knows and wasn't surpised. He asked, "Who told you that you were naked?" Adams no-longer-innocent answer was a lesson to him and a lesson to us. Parents and teachers often ask questions to which they know the answer to see what answer is given.
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Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell...

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#775857 - 01/12/04 01:19 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Jack Frost Offline
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Registered: 12/10/03
Posts: 4454
Loc: Maine
 Quote:
Originally posted by apple:
how - Tomk - do you account for the non-Christian religions of the world? [/b]
Apple, this is precisely what bothers me about so many organized religions. They are exclusive. I have a very hard time having faith in a god who provides ONE WAY to salvation, thereby excluding the majority of people on earth.

I was raised as a Unitarian and have been following this thread with interest because I understand so little about the kind of faith being discussed. I will try to make an intelligent post when I have the time, but I did want to support Apple's question.
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#775858 - 01/12/04 02:50 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by apple: how - Tomk - do you account for the non-Christian religions of the world?
[/b]
Excellent question. Man, though essentially carnal, has a spiritual component to his being. He (and she) yearns for God and looks to find him hither and yon. It's a natural component of what we are made of and it is not a bad thing. Unfortunately it is a futile search. God has to reach down to us and he did, so I believe, in one extraordinary instance.

Diverse religions are an expression of man's search for God. Each religion is man reaching up his hand to heaven for salvation and in one case a hand from heaven reaches down and pulls man up.

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#775859 - 01/13/04 06:00 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
phykell Offline
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Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 697
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by DT: Yup. He knows and wasn't surpised. He asked, "Who told you that you were naked?" Adams no-longer-innocent answer was a lesson to him and a lesson to us. Parents and teachers often ask questions to which they know the answer to see what answer is given. [/b]
Why would an omnipotent being ever need to ask a question? He knew what was in Adam's heart when he asked the question. As I said, why would an omnipotent being even express a reaction to anything He created? It's not as though anything we could do could surprise him is it? Anyway, the ultimate responsibility isn't our own. He created us, flaws and all. We were engineered with our flaws built-in. From the moment we were created, Adam and Eve were doomed to be thrown out of the Garden of Eden. It was a test they were never going to pass, and arguably worse, that they were led to believe was their fault!

 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:Man, though essentially carnal, has a spiritual component to his being. He (and she) yearns for God and looks to find him hither and yon. It's a natural component of what we are made of and it is not a bad thing. Unfortunately it is a futile search.[/b]
Can't that also be explained by man simply wishing to know where he came from and where he's going? Is this all that there is, etc.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:God has to reach down to us and he did, so I believe, in one extraordinary instance. [/b]
Doesn't that contradict what was said earlier, about how we have to recognise ourselves and recognise God, otherwise he might not recognise us?

 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:Diverse religions are an expression of man's search for God. Each religion is man reaching up his hand to heaven for salvation and in one case a hand from heaven reaches down and pulls man up. [/b]
But which one is right though? Any of them?
_________________________
If you vote me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

========

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#775860 - 01/13/04 06:36 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
F# Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 42
If Adam and Eve gained the knowledge of Good and Evil from eating the apple, how were they supposed to know it was wrong to listen to the snake before they ate it?

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#775861 - 01/13/04 06:41 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
DT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 1478
Loc: Illinois
 Quote:
Originally posted by phykell:
[QUOTE]Why would an omnipotent being ever need to ask a question? He knew what was in Adam's heart when he asked the question. As I said, why would an omnipotent being even express a reaction to anything He created? It's not as though anything we could do could surprise him is it? Anyway, the ultimate responsibility isn't our own. He created us, flaws and all. We were engineered with our flaws built-in. From the moment we were created, Adam and Eve were doomed to be thrown out of the Garden of Eden. It was a test they were never going to pass, and arguably worse, that they were led to believe was their fault!
[/b]
God knew what would happen if Eve, then Adam, chose[/b] to eat from the forbidden tree. He also knew what would happen if they obeyed Him. His omniscience covers the decision tree but we chose which branches we follow. That's why we are humans with free will rather than puppets of a grand Geppeto.
_________________________
Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell...

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#775862 - 01/13/04 07:11 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
johnmoonlight Offline
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Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 2384
Loc: Lancaster, pa
 Quote:
Originally posted by phykell:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
 Quote:
1) Why did he let that terrible earth-quake happen on Christmas day?

2) Assuming that an honest, kind and pure person that happens to be a complete atheist dies, he/she should go to Heaven, right? Wrong. God only lets in His followers. Isn't that Degrading to Him by bringing Him down to the low level of human thinking? Being [Himself], he should not care who one believes in. Denying the right to heaven to a non-believer would be personal vengeance, the same thing we frown upon.[/b]
Dear Zorro,

1. God doesn't "let" anything happen here. It's our world.

2. It's not a matter of vengeance, it's a matter of character. It's a matter of who you are, not so much in relationship to "heaven" but a interrelationship to what all of creation really entails. To deny the spiritual (i.e. atheism,) is to deny who we really are. And if we can't recognize ourselves and we can't recognize God, how can we expect God to recognize us. Heaven is not a place. It is being in the presence of God.

So, there's a misconception here. Christians don't go to heaven when they die. They are in heaven as they walk this earth and they continue to be in heaven after they die. The physical state changes--the spiritual never does. That's what's meant by eternal. [/b]
1. It might be "our world", but it is still His creation and is fundamentally flawed if it can cause such disasters. Didn't He leave us enough to deal with, poisonous snakes, insects, superbugs, famine, pestilence, plague, etc.? Obviously not, He even allows the very ground we walk on to swallow us up and destroy our buildings.

2 "And if we can't recognize ourselves and we can't recognize God, how can we expect God to recognize us." He's omnipotent, that's how! Why should I have to make myself recognisable to God? Surely he knows eactly who I am, why I think like I do, why I cannot find it in myself to believe in or have the requirement to believe in Him. Surely he knows all this?

Then again, thinking back to the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve managed to hide successfully from him in just a few bushes. He had to actually call out to them to show themselves! Somehow, I'd have expected more from an omnipotent being. [/b]
I confess, I haven't read through every post on this thread due to lack of time but this one caught my eye.
Phykell, you are taking a much too literal approach to various phrases in the Bible. Surely if you do this you won't believe much of what the Bible says.
To those who don't believe in God, do you really feel that we developed from chance occurrences alone with no help from a Creator? Do you really believe that we developed from simple evolution?
Sure, evolution does occur but I would argue that with our supreme complexity and intelligence, that simple forces of nature alone could never produce such a being.
_________________________
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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#775863 - 01/13/04 09:38 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
phykell Offline
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Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 697
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by DT: God knew what would happen if Eve, then Adam, chose[/b] to eat from the forbidden tree. He also knew what would happen if they obeyed Him. His omniscience covers the decision tree but we chose which branches we follow. That's why we are humans with free will rather than puppets of a grand Geppeto. [/b]
God also knew that they'd fail though, in fact omnipotence meant that he knew they'd fail the test when he created them. In fact, the error was his, in his creation, that they would fail the test. No, he is ultimately responsible for all our sins simply because he made us according to the bible. When I write a computer program, I have to take responsibility for the errors. I can't simply give it artificial intelligence and then blame the program itself when it fails especially not if I also know where exactly the program will fail...

 Quote:
Originally posted by johnmoonlight:
Phykell, you are taking a much too literal approach to various phrases in the Bible. Surely if you do this you won't believe much of what the Bible says. [/b]
So how should I approach it? How can I be sure my interpretation is even nearly accurate? Are you saying that not only did we lose Eden, gain poisonous insects, deadly bacteria, etc. but also that the handbook we were given isn't even written in a straight-forward manner? I know we're expected to have faith, but surely it's hardly surprising if we find it very difficult to believe in an omnipotent being allowing the truly terrible things that do go on, to happen. I'm only one person and I know of individuals who have suffered terribly, and I know that those people do not deserve their suffering. I cannot reconcile this with any belief in an merciful God. I just can't and I don't blame me or so many others either.

 Quote:
Originally posted by johnmoonlight:To those who don't believe in God, do you really feel that we developed from chance occurrences alone with no help from a Creator? Do you really believe that we developed from simple evolution?
Sure, evolution does occur but I would argue that with our supreme complexity and intelligence, that simple forces of nature alone could never produce such a being. [/b]
Supreme complexity and intelligence? That's a joke. Other than our brain, we're hardly suited to our environment are we? We think of ourselves as the most successful species on the planet, yet we've only been here a fraction of the time that (say) crocodiles have, and they haven't had to change much in the last million years or so have they? It's typical human arrogance to say that such creatures have reached an evolutionary dead-end and that we are somehow superior. Strange that we're destroying our own environment. I can think of so many creatures that actually contribute to the eco-system, that are at one with nature and live quite happily, in fact the only creature I can think of that stands out like a sore thumb, a fly in the ointment as it were, is mankind. Perhaps that's the real proof you're looking for, that we're such a poor factor in this planet's eco-system, that we must be fundamentally difference from all other animals, even all the physical proof says otherwise.

Did life just invent itself though? I don't know, but it depends on how you define life, for example, what about new star systems being created in stellar nurseries? Who's to say those star systems won't go on to support life as something like we know it? Who's to say that the creation of life isn't actually a common-place occurrence? Who's really to say that we are so complex that we must've been created? How do you define complex anyway? Where do you get your metrics from?

You talk of supreme complexity, yet you as a medical professional probably know of many flaws in the design of human beings, such as the glaring fact that human children are virtually helpless when they're born because the human brain is now so big, 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. That's not a great original design is it but you know what it sounds like to me? It sounds like we really did evolve from a more primitive creature and that evolution has had to make certian compromises to allow our brains to become as large and complex as they have. It certainly doesn't sound like the sort of compromise an omnipotent being would have to make, does it?
_________________________
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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#775864 - 01/14/04 04:51 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
johnmoonlight Offline
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Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 2384
Loc: Lancaster, pa
 Quote:
Originally posted by phykell:
[QUOTE]Supreme complexity and intelligence? That's a joke. Other than our brain, we're hardly suited to our environment are we? [/b]
You've GOT to be kidding. "Other than our brain"
What other organ deals with intelligence? We are so far beyond any other species that to make comparisons is the real joke. So the crocs have outdone the humans? I'll let you have the croc brain and I'll keep my measly human one.
Have you ever been in a foxhole, Phykell? I still am curious as to what exactly a person who doesn't believe in God thinks about as the mortars explode all around him. I asked this question earlier and never got an answer.
_________________________
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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#775865 - 01/14/04 06:36 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
gryphon Offline
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Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
 Quote:
Originally posted by johnmoonlight:
"Other than our brain" What other organ deals with intelligence? [/b]
Our brain isn't the only thinking organ. As a physician surely you know this.

Oh, wait, are we talking about men or women?
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#775866 - 01/14/04 07:41 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
DT Offline
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Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 1478
Loc: Illinois
 Quote:
Originally posted by phykell:
God also knew that they'd fail though, in fact omnipotence meant that he knew they'd fail the test when he created them. In fact, the error was his, in his creation, that they would fail the test. No, he is ultimately responsible for all our sins simply because he made us according to the bible. When I write a computer program, I have to take responsibility for the errors. I can't simply give it artificial intelligence and then blame the program itself when it fails especially not if I also know where exactly the program will fail...
[/b]
I guess that's our point of disagreement: you see us as predestined robots and I don't. God created us with the potential to succeed or fail, not merely to fail. Yes, He knows what will happen if we choose either path but He gave us the ability to choose which path we[/b] want to take. We are not a program or a puppet. We have free will. Faith is a choice for us; grace for Him.
_________________________
Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell...

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#775867 - 01/14/04 07:54 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
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Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by DT: Faith is a choice for us; grace for Him.
[/b]
Excellent way of putting it.

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#775868 - 01/14/04 10:44 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
johnmoonlight Offline
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Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 2384
Loc: Lancaster, pa
 Quote:
Originally posted by gryphon:
 Quote:
Originally posted by johnmoonlight:
"Other than our brain" What other organ deals with intelligence? [/b]
Our brain isn't the only thinking organ. As a physician surely you know this.

Oh, wait, are we talking about men or women? [/b]
Woops, you're correct. The other organ has a fairly one-track mind, however. \:D
_________________________
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.

Top
#775869 - 01/14/04 12:05 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
shantinik Offline
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Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 4271
Loc: Olympia, WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
]We differ on this point. You diminish God from being the substantive object of all creation into a fluffy bunny that we can all take turns petting. [/b]
Hey, don't you mess with my Fluffy Bunny! You think it is a diminishment.

You obviously don't know the first thing about bunnies.

Read your Bible.

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#775870 - 01/14/04 12:11 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
phykell Offline
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Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 697
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by johnmoonlight:
You've GOT to be kidding. "Other than our brain" What other organ deals with intelligence?[/b]
I don't understand your question.

 Quote:
Originally posted by johnmoonlight:
We are so far beyond any other species that to make comparisons is the real joke. So the crocs have outdone the humans? I'll let you have the croc brain and I'll keep my measly human one.[/b]
That's my point though, that if you only consider intelligence, then arguably we are the most successful species and are "so far beyond any other species" as you rightly say. However, we are not exactly suited to our environment are we? We couldn't survive without clothes for example. Our eyesight is relatively poor compared to many other animals. No, it's only our intelligence which has led to our success and domination of the planet yet we're also the only species which has seriously threatened the existence of the entire eco-system.

I guess it all depends on what your idea of success is really and there's loads of opinions on how it can be defined, probably as many as for how intelligence itself can be defined. For example, a dolphin is a superior creature in many ways including the fact that it is ideally suited (adapted) to its environment. Ourselves, we find we have to adapt our environments to suit us, and that is potentially disastrous for the planet as a whole.

 Quote:
Originally posted by johnmoonlight:
Have you ever been in a foxhole, Phykell? I still am curious as to what exactly a person who doesn't believe in God thinks about as the mortars explode all around him. I asked this question earlier and never got an answer. [/b]
I've been in some sticky situations like most people, though I've never resorted (yet) to asking for God to intervene. However, if I did, it would not mean that I believe in God, it would simply be an act of desperation.

Incidentally, I must just say at this point, that it's not my intention to try and convince anyone here that God doesn't exist. All I can do is explain why I personally do not believe. Like most people, I would say I'd like to believe in a just and merciful God, but from what I've seen in my relatively short lifespan, there just isn't one.

TBH, I don't worry about God or believing in any religion thought that might change as I get older, or if I become seriously ill 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. 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. As a non-believer I am capable of such acts and I can be sure that I've done some. That'll be my excuse on Judgement day ;\)
_________________________
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#775871 - 01/14/04 12:16 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
phykell Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by johnmoonlight:
I asked this question earlier and never got an answer. [/b]
Talking of which, I note that you didn't address my point about human evolution and the pelvic girdle...
_________________________
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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#775872 - 01/14/04 12:46 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
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 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
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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
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 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
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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.

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#775876 - 01/14/04 04:22 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Dwain Lee Offline
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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
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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
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Registered: 12/27/03
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 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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#775885 - 01/14/04 09:21 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
kathyk Offline
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Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 6971
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 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
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 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
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#775887 - 01/14/04 11:55 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Dwain Lee Offline
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#775888 - 01/15/04 12:26 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
CrashTest Offline
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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
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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
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 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
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Registered: 12/27/03
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 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
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Registered: 05/25/01
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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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#775902 - 01/16/04 01:08 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
EHpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/27/03
Posts: 1703
Loc: NY-Madrid-Newfoundland (rhymes...
Wow, this thread has taken off! TomK, thanks for taking the time to reply, I just got around to reading it and will really try to respond when I get a chance. This is a really great thread, want to respond to some people's comments but at the moment it is impossible, I haven't even been able to read all the posts! Will do so soon. Now I must practice.

Elena
http://www.concertpianist.com
_________________________
Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."

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#775903 - 01/16/04 03:56 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
I do not really think that a god has any sort of interaction with humans on earth, if there is one. The idea that he gives some "grace" and helps them in life, does not resonate in my mind.

It makes more sense to me that we are completely free will creatures at the mercy of whatever it is we ourselves create, not what god creates. We create the societal conditions that causes one to be either rich or poor, we create the medical conditions that cause us to have lower death rates or higher death rates.

I think this world is autonomous, with absolutely no deux ex machina. This is not to say there is no god, but he just leaves us alone. That is not a far fetched claim, because if one looks around, there is more evidence of no divine presence in human interaction than there is of it. (Matters of nature and creation irregardless.)

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#775904 - 01/16/04 06:42 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by Dwain: I haven't read his writings yet, but he's on my "to read" list. [/b]
The Institutes have always been on my "to read" list, also. I bought the complete writing of the Latin and Greek Fathers a couple of years ago and plan to be working on them for the next 20 years or so. Right after that: the Reformers.

Thanks for your thoughtful answers.

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#775905 - 01/17/04 07:11 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:
I do not really think that a god has any sort of interaction with humans on earth, if there is one. The idea that he gives some "grace" and helps them in life, does not resonate in my mind. [/b]
I understand how you feel; just keep an open mind. At some point in your life, events may make you feel differently. Keep thinking and asking the questions you're wondering.

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#775906 - 01/21/04 11:01 AM Re: Sincere questions on God
phykell Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 697
Loc: UK
Wow, sorry it took me so long to reply to this, I haven't had a spare moment unfortunately \:\(

 Quote:
Originally posted by kathyk:
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. I love pondering this type of discussion.[/b]
Is is very interesting, but of course you have to tread the fine line between open discussion and offending people which is why I'm not too keen on contributing to threads on religion. I don't want to convert people to my beliefs such as they are, but I am happy to explain why I believe what I do.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Jack Frost:
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?).[/b]
Well if you do, give me a shout, because no doubt I'll be there too ;\)

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:
...I don't choose to do (or not do) something on the grounds that I'm earning kudos or any other form of "brownie points" with God. In my view, I don't have a choice not to act in this manner, because of a debt that was paid on my behalf. It's something that, if I am a Christian, I must do. There is Biblical reference to discipleship being a "burden, but the yoke is light." That's what I'm trying to describe.[/b]
An interesting point. I don't understand the idea of a debt though unless you mean Christ dying on the cross for our sins, etc. I've never really understood that either though, that we should be so indebted. In fact that whole episode could start off an entire thread. However, I will consider what you've said, and perhaps I may have less cynicism for some of the people I might have thought were deliberately (cynically) leading a good life just to earn favour.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:the actions are a reflection of the faith.[/b]
Interesting. What do you think my, or any other agnostic's actions are a reflection of?

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:Good deeds can certainly be done without being an expression of faith, and can certainly even by done by someone denying God's existence. But God's primary intent is for mankind to acknowledge Him. Put another way, God doesn't have to depend on any of us to do something on earth on His behalf. If He wants something to be done, or to happen, He will make it so, with or without our measly input. He does want us to know and have faith in Him. If He chooses, He can accomplish the former entirely independent of us; the latter can only be accomplished by us.[/b]
I wonder if he realises then, that we agnostics almost certainly *want* to have faith in him. I know I certainly do. I'd love to believe there was more to this relatively short life and some reason for all the pain and suffering. I think he's set some of us an impossible task though, and I wonder why.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:As to whether I believe that there is a point to living a virtuous life even without it being an expression of faith in God, I might surprise you. To the contrary, if there is no God, no hope of an eternal afterlife, then not only is there no point in leading a "virtuous life," but anyone who does so is a fool. If there is no God to which are are ultimately accountable, then all ethics and morals become completely subjective, arbitrary, and all competing value sets are equally valid. If that's the case, only an idiot would punish himself by adhering to a higher set of values than his neighbor, and making his existence on this planet (i.e., the entire span of his life)unnecessarily more arduous. Personally, I think this is very literally the definition of Hell: a complete separation from the hope, grace, and love of God. But without God, that's truly all we're left with.[/b]
No, now I completely disagree with you there. I believe that leading the good life is its own reward. Let me give you an example. Have you ever, when driving, flashed another vehicle to take your place in a queue? You know that feeling when the other driver accepts, and then he flashes his lights to says thanks? That feeling right there is the reason why such acts are worthwhile, and knowing that such an act might be reciprocated to someone else, etc. We all know it is better to be happy than sad and though it sounds corny, if we can help spread happiness, society as a whole will benefit. Another example. We all have the capacity to love, whether man or woman, devout Christian or atheist. You know when you're a child that you love receiving presents, but when you're older and you love someone, you don't actually care about receiving presents yourself, you take more pleasure in giving and seeing your loved ones happy. Well that's an example of the reason it's worth leading a virtuous life right there...

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwain Lee:
I know, that's a tough nut to crack. But you're right, He will know the content of your heart, and I believe that to Him, it will be far less important that you did good deeds than the fact that you rejected His existence and lordship.[qb] [QUOTE]
But that's just it, I haven't rejected him. If I can't believe in him, I can hardly reject him can I? As I've said, if I could believe in him, I certainly wouldn't reject him, and I can't imagine anyone who would TBH. As far as I'm aware, there are far more examples of why he musn't exist than examples of why he does. If he does exist, he certainly doesn't make it easy for me to believe in him and remember that I'm happy to be proved wrong in this case. It's not as though he seems to be particularly bothered with us anymore either. In the days of the Bible, he was always interested in the affairs of Mankind, sending famines here and there, demonstrating his power, etc. When was the last time anyone could ever point to something he's actually done? Is it any wonder that people like me can't find the faith to believe in him if we see no evidence. It strikes me as strange to imagine someone like Moses as being a Man of Faith. Certainly not, he spoke to God, he knew of his existence.

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Dwain Lee:[QB](phykell, sorry to talk behind your back here,) [/b]
No problem, you two go right ahead! \:\)

 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
...one either is elect or not elect and nothing changes because that's the way God planned it before all eternity. [/b]
...which is of course, my original point (I think).

 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest: I do not really think that a god has any sort of interaction with humans on earth, if there is one. The idea that he gives some "grace" and helps them in life, does not resonate in my mind. [/b]
I agree and I think that if he does exist, he gave up on us a long time ago.

 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:I think this world is autonomous, with absolutely no deux ex machina. This is not to say there is no god, but he just leaves us alone. That is not a far fetched claim, because if one looks around, there is more evidence of no divine presence in human interaction than there is of it. (Matters of nature and creation irregardless.) [/b]
Again, I agree and I said as much as well, without having read as far as this post.
_________________________
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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#775907 - 01/21/04 02:53 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by phykell: Is is very interesting, but of course you have to tread the fine line between open discussion and offending people which is why I'm not too keen on contributing to threads on religion.[/b]
Good point--how about when we discuss religion we say what we really believe with no pejorative and go on from there? No one is going to be offended by and honest belief or disbelief.

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#775908 - 01/21/04 03:09 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Luke's Dad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/03
Posts: 1426
Loc: Mid Atlantic
 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:
That is not a far fetched claim, because if one looks around, there is more evidence of no divine presence in human interaction than there is of it. (Matters of nature and creation irregardless.) [/b]
There's the difference between belief and nonbelief. As a believer, I see his presence and guidance every day. If you don't believe, you'll never see it until and unless you open yourself to it.
_________________________
Purveyor of Yamaha, Petrof, Pearl River, and Kohler & Campbell pianos.

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#775909 - 01/21/04 04:26 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Posted by Luke's Dad: If you don't believe, you'll never see it until and unless you open yourself to it.[/b]
Nope, God's job. And he gets paid well for it.

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#775910 - 01/24/04 04:59 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
pianodevo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/02
Posts: 836
I salute all those who have posted ... it is a great joy to meet those who take their time to think and write about the Divine Being! So few do.

Extra thanks to Zorro and Crashtest, who are thinking such high thoughts at such a young age. Would that one of you were running for president, so I could vote for you. \:D

Zorro, your questions and similar ones have been posed by many, and answers have [/b] been found. All the sages and enlightened beings have said the same thing: "The Kingdom of God is within you."

How to get there? The experiments of humans have yielded various ways which have been codified. The primary paths that I am aware of are the way of work (selfless service), the way of knowledge (only for the very few; this method has been described as being like walking on "the edge of a razor"), the way of purification culminating in deep meditation and prayer, and the way of love (trying to seeing God in everyone and everything, and loving one another for that reason). Depending on one's temperament, one finds one's primary path among these four, although naturally aspects of the other paths are mixed in too.

In addition to books mentioned by others, Zorro, you might enjoy the following:

"In Search of the Miraculous" by P. Ouspensky (also spelled Uspensky), an account of his experiences with The Society of Truth-Seekers led by the mystic G. I. Gurdjieff. In the 1920s these people journeyed through Central Asia and elsewhere, looking ....

"The Razor's Edge" by Somerset Maughm (sp?), a novel.

"The Bhagavad Gita" (translation: "The Song of God"), an exposition of "the Perennial Philosophy" as Aldous Huxley termed it, from India's finest sages. The Gita is considered the most important spiritual book in Hinduism, I believe.

Some book on Kabbala (also spelled Cabala), which explains what the Jewish mystics found.
_________________________
pianodevo

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#775911 - 01/24/04 05:51 PM Re: Sincere questions on God
jazzyd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/01
Posts: 1861
Loc: United Kingdom
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianodevo:
"The Bhagavad Gita" (translation: "The Song of God"), an exposition of "the Perennial Philosophy" as Aldous Huxley termed it, from India's finest sages. The Gita is considered the most important spiritual book in Hinduism, I believe.[/b]
"The Perennial Philosophy" itself is worth reading too - one of my favourite books. And George Steiner's "Real Presences" sits next to it on my shelf, another fascinating book - although it took me a couple of reads to begin to understand it. I found both very insightful when I was starting to try and make sense of the world and my faith.

David
_________________________
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley

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