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fractal007
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since 06-01-2000
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0 posted 02-05-2001 03:00 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

I've just been reading some documents on the internet regarding youth suicide, from the point of view of the youth.  [I was bored one night and decided it might be interesting to see what the current youth point of view of suicide is]  What I have found has alarmed me tremendously.  

There seems to be a mentality among some youth[I will not make a blanket statment about all youth, considering the fact that I am a youth and do not share this mentality] that life is just meaningless.  These youth then go on to say that they have a liberating power of death.  Basically, an "if things get to rough I can just shut it all down" mentality.  

I discussed this with my mother, and she told me that it was an extremely irresponsible manner in which to live life.  I agreed with her.  However, the group of youth that believes it seems to have a fairly strong and existential defense for it.  Basically they say that since life is meaningless and there is no soul or whatever else that religion says, and all life is about is working and making money, I don't have to live it.  I have the freedom to kill myself whenever I want.  The document then went on to say that in the future there will likely be places one can go to commit suicide while engaging in their wildest fantasies.  

Perhaps I am just a little too naive, but this is starting to scare me.  It doesn't scare me because I am suicidal, but because I worry that society may very well become is foolish as the document predicted.  

My mother feels that suicide, as most of society and the medical comunity defines it, is more of a mental disorder or "disease," in which the sufferer is at his/her wits end, and unable to cope with life.  He/she is not just "bored with it."

Just a note to moderators in case they may be unclear about my standing on suicide, I am not trying to promote it.  Also, I myself am not suicidal.  I am simply writing this because I feel worried about the aforementioned mentality among some youth.
mark woolard
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since 01-02-2001
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1 posted 02-05-2001 05:55 PM       View Profile for mark woolard   Email mark woolard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for mark woolard

the only hopeful advice i could give would mention God, and we all know that in such an esteemed intellectual situation as this, such things must not be mentioned with conviction because most see this topic as relative. . .

so i will agree with you, frac, at your observation of society in general, and how it is becoming quite intimidating.  i was not aware of this (new?) teenage mentality of "no soul=no point in life=suicide", and your explination of such a (relative?) point of view saddens me.

today i will point the finger to society past and present.  somewhere in the last hundred years or so, america's collective consciousness has been shredded by some ill-fated particle beam. . .no one knows which direction we as people (or as a nation) should go. . .and finger pointing by fanatics from all groups has served its purpose well:

no one knows where this all started!!!

i can see how people could think there is no soul within them, and i can see how people can think there is no point in life (i myself have had this view on most of this reality since my pre-teen years), but i ask you, is this because it's true?  is society finally waking up to absolute truth by seeing things like this?

or is it because the present society doesn't know how to cultivate the consciousness needed to identify soul and a higher purpose (chill out everyone--pick your own purpose--i'm not doing it for you)?  

from a teenage point of view, i can doubly empathize, because they have absolutely nothing tangible to grab hold of.  they are the victims of generations of past neglect and choice abuse.  a "gihugeic" monster machine is sucking their free-thinking individuality by selling them conformity under the alias of identity; and limp bizkit has just simply gotta go!!!

we are all, in a way, victims of this scattered collective consciousness, because in our own special ways, we feed the machine that paints our reality for us. . .we are the victims of ourselves, and no one wants to admit it.

who knows?  maybe those teenagers have discovered absolute truth, and you and i are simply destined to live the rest of our lives in ignorant agony, depriving ourselves of a short, untimely, personal death.

maybe so. . .

but that just seems too alarmingly simple, doesn't it?
mark woolard
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2 posted 02-05-2001 05:57 PM       View Profile for mark woolard   Email mark woolard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for mark woolard

crap!  i just noticed you're from Canada--hopefully this ramble makes sense up there!!!

(BLUSH)

mark.
fractal007
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3 posted 02-05-2001 06:30 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Mark:  

Don't worry.  People in Canada are into the same pop culture as people in the US.  In fact, you'd be surprised how many of the big bands in the US are actually formed by Canadians.  Our Lady Peace is an example.

I think that there might be some problem in which we expected that we'd become something wonderful, but have become nothing, in a society that seems to now have less and less respect toward the individual.  For example, think of how wonderful the future was expected to be in the early 20th century.  There were people predicting the destruction of major diseases[infections from bacteria, to be more precise] through antibiotics, and an era in which nuclear power would rid the world of problems like the procurement of and polution caused by coal.  But look at the world now.  Nuclear power, through several scandals and scares, has proven to be a thing that some cities use, but most just don't bother with.  Bacteria are evolving into super strands which are resistant to antibiotics.  

I remember seeing a small exerpt from some television show of the 1950s, about comunism.  It seemed to me to be a bit like propoganda.  The voice over guy said something along the lines of "take away all religion and freedom of thought and you have the harsh coldness of communism".  Now I'm not trying to promote religion, but I am trying to promote that thing that some like to call "spirituality" or "individuality."  We seem to have turned into the very world that that television show was talking about.  The youth talk about freedom of expression, and yet they still contain youth-oriented cultures in which you must conform to, as you said things such as Limp Bizkit in order to be "in."

The next problem is the problem of a strictly materialistic view of the world.  There is no proof that there exists a "soul" within a person.  Nor is there proof that some metaphysical God exists.  Although I am religious, this is still something that troubles me.  Being an independant observer of the "debate" currently going on between fanatics, over this issue, I think that for every argument for such things, there is an equally valid argument against them.  

So, this leaves us with the question, how do we establish purpose and meaning in our life?  Do we just act blindly, under the guidance of Pascal's Wager, and pretend that there is something else out there that has a higher purpose for us?  Or do we blind ourselves to the fact that the human race, by strictly physical standards, is as meaningless as a speck of dust?  Or is there something else we can do?  
mark woolard
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4 posted 02-05-2001 06:54 PM       View Profile for mark woolard   Email mark woolard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for mark woolard

good points, man. . .like you, i don't want to want to enforce religion, simply because it's a dirty word. . .but what about faith?  what about faith that proves itself and manifists in the lives of individuals?  is there a such thing?  depends on where your faith lies.

i like your point about communism, and what the film said it was. . .sounds A LOT like the world today (i feel like an old fart).  freedom of thought and religion aren't as free as i think they once were. . .but then again, i have only lived 24 years, and barely half of them conscious of such things...

if the "utopia" of the past was indeed better than today (just check the evidence, eh?), where do we as a people go to find the root?  my faith paints the picture clear, but it falls under the restricted zone of forcing ideals that limit mankind in some strange way. . .

i also can totally entertain the notion of us suffering a hangover from undue expectation.  somewhere in the collected sub-conscience, we are suffering from a sense of inadequacy, and the manifestations we observe today are a direct result of that sub-conscious suppression. . .

what do we do?  well, i suggest realizing that we live in  a two-fold, paradoxical reality, where yes is no and no is yes.
then we need to contemplate what the paradox of paradox is. . .and when we find that out, we need to search for a way to tap into that non-paradoxical reality where yes is yes and no is no, and pattern our lives after it. . .

and that's all i can say.  the rest has to do with faith and submission and souls and stuff. . .i think it's foolish to think that our existence (though we ARE just spacedust) is unimportant.  the fact that we have a consciousness says something for itself (despite what the radical anti-selves say). . .and it's simply a personal matter for each individual to explore in their own time and manner. . .
fractal007
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5 posted 02-05-2001 08:33 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Mark:

I agree on the personal thing.  Right now I'm toying with the concept of why I am who I am and not somebody else.  It's insanely hard to explain.  I will give it a shot:

How did the thing that is me develop in the group of cells that make me up?  Why did it not develop in some other group of cells?  Why is it that I was born into this body and not another?  Was it totally chance, or was there something else at work?  

"my faith paints the picture clear, but it falls under the restricted zone of forcing ideals that limit mankind in some strange way. . ."

What do you mean by this?  What is this limit?

As far as our consiousness saying something for itself, I have been entertaining yet another notion.  We now have conscious thought.  It may have come about by accident, but we need to use it for something.  

My biggest nightmare regarding all this is that we are totally alone in a universe that is massive, and the laws of physics prevent people from going much further than Alpha Centauri, and surviving the trip.  I sort of fear that we are in "hell" already.  I mean, I have heard some Christians define hell as being:

1>  a place where you're always falling
2>  you are absolutely alone
3>  you are always sick

What if that's EXACTLY what defines society as a collective whole?  Of course, one could argue that since life came about by obeying the laws of physics, just like anything else in the universe, it is quite possible that there is life elsewhere.  But what if the laws of physics are such that we will ALWAYS be separated by unreasonably HUGE distances, wondering if each other exists, and then ultimately falling down in an emptiness without end?  I know that sounds rather morbid, but it wouldn't suprise me if it factors in somewhere in that "youth" mentality toward suicide.
mark woolard
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6 posted 02-05-2001 11:41 PM       View Profile for mark woolard   Email mark woolard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for mark woolard

whew!  hey, man. . .i'll tackle this tomorrow. . .i'm needin' some spontaneous shut-eye!!!
Brad
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Jejudo, South Korea


7 posted 02-06-2001 04:11 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Guys,

Before you actually start touting the past as some utopia make sure you look at it seriously.

Deseases -- where is polio or small pox today?

True, tuberculosis may be making a come back but I doubt if either of you will die from it.

True, there are problems today and they are serious but that doesn't mean it was better yesterday.

You have more choices today than ever before and yet you still complain that society is against the individual? This existential angst is the product of individualism, not some new collectivism. Contrary to what you may think, you now have a choice and that scares the hell out of you.

It should.  Being an individual is hard, being free is hard (they are not natural states). Are you sure that is what you want?

Brad
Stephanos
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8 posted 02-07-2001 12:07 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I just wanted to say that despite a general distaste for the concept of "religion", the tendecies of society to develop more and more atheistic viewpoints (and thus conclusions and results), is actually somewhat to blame for the disallusionment of youth.  It is possible for one generation to turn away from God in practice (ie, holding various outward expressions of religious confession in a loose and aloof manner while actually being more concerned with materialistic concepts in day to day life), and spawn a generation that will go ahead and do away with the profession as well.  "If the root has been cut off from the tree, why keep the tree?" they say.   The modern youth see the inconsistency of the former generation and embrace atheism completely.  When it is embraced completely, certain results will follow...

Loss of purpose -  No Creator, No master designer, no overall scheme.  Individual lives blur into the mass of a blind machine that is built on mere natural selection (which naturally always selects death and demise for individuals).  The cosmos without a purposeful creator is the scariest thing imaginable.  (Yet I believe it is truely impossible-  only when people believe it, consequences follow).

Loss of Value -  Without God, we are a mere dance of atoms heading only for a meltdown... in the end of no more value than sand, grass, a fence post, or a cancerous tumor.  But you say "we are expressive and creative and basically good".  Well without God, we are the only judges of what is creative or not, or good or not, and we all die so our judgments are of no permanence.  Without God all of the existentialist's fears are valid.  There has to be an absolute standard of value and worth which resides in a being who never changes, dies or wavers, or all is "dust in the wind" to quote one of my favorite rock bands of the 70s - 80s.

Loss of morality -  With no absolute moral compass,  society begins to wander into dangerous places.  Power becomes the big decider on whose word is law.  That's why Hitlers and other immoral men have caused such tragic harm to the world.  Just read up on their personal lives and listen to their "godless" or "self-god" philosophies-- don't think they are just concepts, thought always precedes action.

Loss of hope.  When the true image of a world without the stabilizing presence of a master builder and director begins to settle in (true or not), hope dwindles.  A bleak world-view causes suicide to skyrocket.  No purpose, no worth, no real love... is it amazing that people commit suicide who see the world like this?  Is it all their fault?  I don't think so, societal trends, neglegent parental guidance,  uprooted moral foundations all have their part.  But can individuals overcome this?  Of course.  There is a glorious sound above the cacophany of confusion, a beautiful vision behind the portrait of pain that a certain world view entails.  These are grasped with spiritual senses that come from God.  We need these and so does our youth.

I also don't buy into the philosophy that says because God cannot be scientifically proven he cannot or should not be believed.  We all have emotions and thoughts which are non-material and cannot be proven impirically.  They can however be inferred by deductive/ or inductive reasoning.  And the bottom line is that we all know they exist.  Belief in God is the same in a sense.  We cannot prove him, yet we see his results everywhere.  The stone that was tossed in the pond may be too deep for our eyes to see, but we can see the ripple effect.  It's concentric rings reach to the outermost perimeter of the pond.  And there is not one microscopic measurement of all the cosmos where God is not proven indirectly.  It just takes different eyes to see it.  Laboratory reproductions can never prove it.  Test tube theology fails.  In the end it is faith (not the blind uncertain type) that reveals the truth of the whole matter.

To sum it up,  this is the kind of thing we must return to I believe if we want our younger generations to escape the stigma of generation X.  Suicide will subside where hope increases.
jbouder
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Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


9 posted 02-07-2001 12:54 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Fractal:

I'm encouraged that some of the "current mentalities" are disturbing to you.  During the late 1980's I went to high school and participated in several classes with a guy who committed suicide when he was 17 years old.  He happened to leave a suicide note lamenting everything from the threat of nuclear war, global warming, teen violence, etc., but when you scraped through the veneer, what was left was a truly selfish act.

I think Brad touched on the problem being a "new Individualism".  I would call it the modern "me-ism" where selfishness is the unspoken virtue and any selfish end justifies the means if it serves to draw attention to the self.  

I think this "me-ism" is particularly destructive in young people because a teen-ager lacks the life-experience necessary to appreciate the finality of death and, on the other hand, the tremendous joy and pride that accompanies professional achievement, virtuous living, and good parenting.

Optimism does not have to be unrealistic.  By optimism I do not mean "everthing will work out for the best".  By optimism, I mean that a very real happiness is achievable in spite of the obstacles before you if you work hard, proceed thoughtfully, and persevere through the low times.

Ronald Reagan had a plaque on his desk in when he was President that read: "There are no limits to what you can achieve if you don't care who gets the credit."  I happen to agree.

Jim

[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 02-07-2001).]
mark woolard
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10 posted 02-07-2001 03:15 PM       View Profile for mark woolard   Email mark woolard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for mark woolard

whoa!  it's the day after yesterday, and i missed a bunch!

Brad:  i like what you said about choice.  true, we do have more choices today, and everytime i slander the past, i stop short because i don't really know. . .all i truly know is the piece of the present that i experience now. . .as far as these choices being a good thing. . .that's a whole 'nuther topic!  i personally feel like i am drowning in choices--swimming upstream in all these choices to find the right one.

is more necessarily better?

Stephanos:   well said!  a road map to healing. . .but how do we initiate it?

Frac:  i meant i have faith that transcends even the matter of this discussion, but whenever you say "Jesus", warning lights begin to strobe and buzzers sound. . .i'll discuss the plight of the people to the best of my ability, but won't shove my faith in anyone's face. . .i am here to learn about the world i live in. . .and i haven't developed the tact necessary to state my case to all people. . .i don't want to be just another Bible-thumpin' zealot. . .i want to represent my faith with an air of integrity, respect, and Love.  (besides, stephanos said it better!!!)

that's all for now.   g'day!

mark.

Brad
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11 posted 02-07-2001 07:48 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I'm not convinced that aetheism is the culprit here. Recent statistics in the US show that a whopping 88% of Americans go to Church regularly and over 90% believe in the devil (even more believe in some kind of afterlife).

And, of course, statistics don't lie, do they?

Well, statistics don't lie but people do. I don't think anybody reading this forum actually believes the above numbers -- it doesn't feel right (Yeah, I said feel  ).
It doesn't mesh with the world that we see and live in from day to day.

So, why are people lying?

Because believing in God or spirit or saying you believe in God or spirit is part of the tapestry of American life (anybody remember 'Contact'?). There is tremendous amount of pressure to say you believe even if you don't, even if you're not sure. As long as you say you believe in God, you are seen as a better person.  I was reading an article that showed that Americans won't vote for a professed aetheist as president; I can't find it right now but I'll keep looking.  But even more than this, it feels better to believe in God, it feels comforting, it feels somehow right.

Regardless of how you live.

Indeed, by making religion ever more spiritual and less mundane, spiritualists of whatever stripe are making it less and less important to the everyday lives of real people.  Many people see this but they don't really take up a reasoned aetheist position, they take up a disenchanted, betrayed spiritualist position.

They feel cheated.

But what's worse is that, at the same time, they are taught, come to feel, that they are an individual, a special, unique individual whose feelings and thoughts aren't just important, they are more important than those around them. They have a right to an opinion, a right to feel, a right to ignore, a right to excitement, a right to success, a right to choose, a right to a divine gift, a right to destiny, a right to permanence . . . .

I hope it goes without saying that, at this point, they still maintain the divinity of self. They reject the divinity of religion for the divinity of individuality. If there's nothing out there, then I exist for myself and no other.

This is an incredibly jump but one that I think is made quite often.

And that, to my mind, is the predicament.

An aetheist has no such option. He/She cannot believe in the divinity of self or of permanence or of being separate from those around them (if you think you are separate, where did you come from?).  An aetheist doesn't see the need to explain his/her feelings or thoughts in terms of some spiritual world, of some higher world, these same feelings and thoughts are the result of a matrix of influences (linguistic, social, cultural, familial, genetic, historical etc.).

An aetheist doesn't negate morals, purposes, values or anything else that a spiritualist usually says is his or her reason for believing; an aetheist doesn't need to put it on a higher plane is all.  The tree's still there and it still has roots but it was cultivated by men, not by something you can't see.

Sure, some aetheists want to chop the tree down. Some self-proclaimed aetheists pump their chests like some kind of alpha-male gorilla and spout the modern me-ism that Jim talks about.

They just haven't sufficiently considered the position that they're taking yet.

Now, I don't really consider myself an aetheist (to me, still another system of beliefs) but by most people's standards I'm pretty damn close  . I'm not against spiritual beliefs; I just don't think it matters.

It is often said that if you don't believe in God, you'll believe anything. I agree with Christopher Hitchens though, if you believe in God, you already believe in anything.

I still love my wife, my baby, my family, my friends. I still love to teach, to learn, to write, to think. I don't need validation from a higher plane to love these things though. I'm not a perfect person -- I drink far too much for one -- but I don't see much difference in what I do from others who are more spiritual than I am.

Of course, if I don't accept permanence as a position, you never know. I may end up waving a Bible at you some day.  

That's the fun part of living.

Brad
Stephanos
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12 posted 02-07-2001 11:52 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Mark,

I totally relate to your aim to present faith in a tactful manner, to not come across as the stereotypical bible thumper with a sneer on his face and little thought in his head.  However, there is something to consider.  If true faith has definite parameters, dimensions and boundaries... if it actually asserts that things are such and such a way and not another... if it stands on certain unalterable truths, then there are bound to be counterfeits.  Maybe just maybe the irritating image of the preachy rigid faced religionist is just an imitation of (or an immature version of) what real faith is supposed to be.  If this is the case then even if you have real faith, you will unfortunately be identified with the counterfeits and bad-examples...unless of course you are offended so by the disguises that you refuse to wear the real clothes (which by necessity  look in many ways like the false because of the imitation).  If we do this, I think we are shunning the risk involved with faith.  Yes you may be called "right winged, biggotted, ultra-conservative, narrow minded, church-monger, bible-banger, preacher-boy, etc...etc... etc..." even if your personality really isn't what they are implying.  Because you stand for faith, or definite beliefs, or anything solid, unfortunately you already have been pigeon-holed by the majority of people (prejudice is hard to shake!)  But when they get to know you, they will see the difference.
      Many have weasled their way through the system some how or another and are now practicing medicine without an MD degree.  But believe me, it won't take too long to see that these people are frauds.  Though they have pulled the wool over alot of people's eyes (even having done surgeries!!!- and killed people!) they eventually get caught.  The point I am trying to make is that even if thousands of caricatured or distorted sketches of Jesus have been circulated, to the point that he is ridiculed almost every place.  His true image is still beautiful.  His name is still awesome.  It's just an inherent risk in the whole matter that your hearers will associate your speech with some goofy picture they were told was him.  I encourage you to keep being tactful.  But don't be ashamed to be a Christian openly if you are.

Brad,

One sentence you said sparked a thought or two.  You said  "I'm not against spiritual beliefs; I just don't think it matters."  I think one of the main reasons why it has seemed that spiritual beliefs don't matter is the separation of belief and practice.  Belief in a biblical sense means more than mental assent.  I can believe in anything in the sense of intellectually acknowledging its existence.  But a belief that is more like a trust, reliance or intimacy is one that will change someone in a real and everyday kind of way.  That explains the stats you quoted... 90 percent may "believe" that God exists.  How many know him as person, trust him, and base life decisions on the revelation of his will?  There is a big chasm in between those two numbers which may account for everyone's scepticism about confessions of faith.  Please understand that I am in need of self analysis more than anyone.  How much is left when I subtract how much I believe from how much I say I believe?  I never want to come across as "holier than thou", because I know my own inconsistencies all too well and am thankful for God's undeserved patience.  I'll never throw a stone.  I live in a glass house sure enough.
   Another notable thing is that even though people can lead virtuous, productive, hard working, and honorable lives without a definite spiritual belief in God, this does not indicate at all to me that spiritual beliefs do not matter.  A person can refuse to pay his or her electric bill and still have light for an extended time.  If the company shows grace, extends the period, or someone else comes in and pays the bill, that person can enjoy the benifits of electricity.  But eventually if they do not acknowledge that the electric company has a claim on their usage, the juice will be cut off.  A man can also cut a large branch of a fruitful tree off and enjoy apples for quite a few days.  Though these are not completely apt analogies, I think life and God mirror the same truth.  There is a scripture that says he "rains on the just and the unjust".  God gives virtue to all people, because he loves all people not just believers.  But there comes a day when everyone must know and acknowledge where the very fountainheads of life and existence have come from.  In that sense a very successful person by common standards can still cut himself/ herself off from God in the long run.  I'm not trying to shove anything down anyone's throat.  I just believe it's true.  And I respect you regardless of what you may believe.

Stephen.
fractal007
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since 06-01-2000
Posts 2032


13 posted 02-08-2001 04:22 AM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

All:

Too many people are looking for simple answers.  I am sorry for my slowness to respond here.  My modems are kinda screwed up.  BTW, anybody here who knows a little about networking, I would really appreciate some help on this.

Anyhow, I am often reminded of current pop spirituality in the television show Oprah.  I am a person of faith, but not a thumper.  I am not afraid to question things.  For example, I do not believe the Bible to be the word of God any more than I believe the words printed on a candybar wrapper to be the word of God.  Sure, the Bible may contain words that were recorded by people having 'visions' of God, but are these necesarrily accurate?  My faith believes them to be, but my rational side questions.  I am working hard to achieve a happy medium between spirituality/individualality and rational thought.  I am making greater progress now than I was earlier.

Getting back to Oprah, there seems to be a lack of inquiry among the "hurt" of our society.  I like to call it the "Touched By an Angel" mentality, because of all these "spirituality" people looking for quick fixes without first looking at the facts of the materialistic universe.  That is the main thing that has me hung up and alarmed.  I see these people coming onto the Oprah show peddling books about spirituality and other metaphysical things.  But what is that worth if it cannot be proven?  It seems to me that these people are replacing a problem in someone's life with a dilusion instead.  We hear so much about how sloppy Pascal's Wager is from the Atheist point of view.  However, no matter where we look in pop culture, we see it in the background.  If I were to ask Oprah or one of the speakers on her television show for proof of a "spiritual" nature to mankind, they would likely respond with something similar to:  "We don't need proof because it is helping people."  And then if I were to inquire about whether or not this could be a placebo effect, they would likely respond with "so what if it is?  It's still making us feel better!"  Is this really the way we want to live; stumbling from one dilusion to another?  

As far as the existence of God being necessary for purpose in life, I see little basis for that claim.  One only need look to the Bible to see proof of what I'm saying.  THe Bible speaks of thousands of people who worshipped other gods, or worshipped no gods at all, and got along fine.  That is until the "wrath of God" or some other commonplace incident in the Bible took place.  I don't see too many atheists being struck down by lightning or stomped on by large feet from the sky.  Nor do I see this happening with people from other systems of belief.

So, the question of the day to me, is whether existence needs a purpose or whether it is simply an end in itself.  I have recently been toying with the idea that if consciousness is material based, then in a sense, death may not be the END as we call it.  More accurately, it would be the transition of trillions of molecules that once were doing one thing, into doing another.  

Socially, however, is there a necessity for purpose in personal existence?  Some might claim that the answer to that question is obvious; one cannot live life without a purpose or else one would be just meandering through life and not really getting much from it.  But others might argue that the objective "truth"[I put this in quotations because objective analysis is often very difficult from the eyes of us, such subjective beings] that existence is simply defined by arrangements of molecules precludes any existence of or need of purpose.  

I will now read more indepth into your posts.  I'm just rambling here to let you know I'm still alive, lol.  I hope I get that darned modem fixed soon...

[This message has been edited by fractal007 (edited 02-08-2001).]
jbouder
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14 posted 02-08-2001 12:50 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Stephanos:

You wrote:

quote:
I think one of the main reasons why it has seemed that spiritual beliefs don't matter is the separation of belief and practice.  Belief in a biblical sense means more than mental assent.  I can believe in anything in the sense of intellectually acknowledging its existence.  But a belief that is more like a trust, reliance or intimacy is one that will change someone in a real and everyday kind of way.


I think this is a good observation.  What Brad pointed out is the relatively common, superficial "I believe" answers that people give when confronted with the question.  You correctly point out that faith (or "belief") is not merely intellectual assent.  I think many who answered the survey question Brad mentioned would have fallen into an intellectual assent category.  I think the exhibition of virtuous moral character is evidence of that faith that is more than an intellectual assent to a belief claim.  I, personally, think it is evidence of faith rather than a means of attaining faith but ... hey ... such are my Reformation biases.     

Stephanos & Fractal:

To the both of you, in matters of faith I encourage you to continue questioning everything.  Don't accept anything as being true without carefully considering the weight of the evidence that supports the claim.  At the same time, make sure you have fun.  Being a doctrinally minded Christian is not always comfortable.  Question: What is worse that belief without thought?  The answer: Belief that refuses to think.  The thinking Christian is not extinct ... just endangered.     

Brad:

I like the thought of you waiving a Bible around.  You're a smart guy ... you find your way eventually.  

Actually, I think your observations are very interesting.  I think you'll find this site interesting:

http://www.alliancenet.org/pub/mr/mr94/1994.04.JulAug/mr9404.ignorance.html

More on your comments later.

Jim

[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 02-08-2001).]
fractal007
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15 posted 02-08-2001 03:48 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Jbouder:

Thankyou for the encouragement.  If my kind is endangered, then I shall make sure that we either persevere or else go out with a bang more intense than that of all atomic bombs ever detonated, lol.

I think that the best thing to to when one does the stuff we're doing here, mind you I think most poeple do at some time in their lives[IE all of us here sitting and thinking and sometimes getting into ruts] is to try to experience that thing that Einstein called "Cosmic Religious Feeling".  IE to understand the complexity of the universe and all the cool stuff contained in it, and to recognize that although we may be able to get the answers, we ought not to expect them to be simple ones.

As far as Brad talking about people feeling cheated, I often feel that way.  I feel that way with my religion.  Whenever I've felt depressed in recent months it's been because I feel that I've been let down by Christianity.  I remember 4 years ago when I embraced it I felt a newfound sense of trust in God.  This lasted for a couple years, until I found myself talking to people about science.  These people were creationists.  I was deeply troubled by what they were saying.  I wasn't troubled because of the evidence they were presenting.  I'm a shy person, so I didn't really present the formidable evidence for evolution that exists, I just sat and listened with the occasional "uh huh."  But what troubled me the most was the fact that there are still people in our modern time who think that the Bible is to be taken literally, word for word.  Then came the atheists.  They were often more militant, but they taught me an important lesson - namely if it comes from a biased source don't trust it.  Now I feel cheated by everyone.  The Christian Church has let me down because it has neglected to tell me ANYTHING about the fallabilities of the Bible, or any of the other elements of the Christian faith.  The people who had to tell me instead were my 'enemies.'  But even they are biased.  The 'atheists,' believing that there is no God, only see the universe in that way and so try to fit everything into that ideal, just as the Christians do with theirs.  So it seems to me that no matter where I look I see only some person's bias tainting the information I recieve.  I'm not even innocent of doing this at times.

Tying this into suicide, it would not surprise me if the youth of our culture feel the same way I do.  They look for answers but find only people preaching their own brand of "this is how to live life effectively."  So it seems to me that if we are going to create a brave new world and society for ourselves, this biased information has GOT to stop!  It seems so hard to find an independant observer when it comes to religion.  

[This message has been edited by fractal007 (edited 02-08-2001).]
warmhrt
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16 posted 02-08-2001 08:08 PM       View Profile for warmhrt   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for warmhrt

I just want to throw this in for reference...

Fact: Suicide is one of the leading killers of this country's young males.

Fact: One does not lose the innate, deeply rooted will to live unless there is some form of pathology occurring.

Fact: When one is depressed, whether reactive or clinical, perceptions are altered, and one can take seriously, influences which may otherwise not affect them.

Fifty years ago when someone was depressed, they had a morally and spiritually supportive culture...not so now.

Fact: If the disease process has progressed far enough without, or less often, with, treatment, suicide often results, no matter what the influences or support.

Fact: Sometimes, even with treatment, which is a guessing game, at best, the medications fail. I happen to know this personally. It is all we have, however, and it is better than suffering needlessly, or losing more lives.

Kris  

"It is wisdom to know others;
It is enlightenment to know one's self" - Lao Tzu




[This message has been edited by warmhrt (edited 02-08-2001).]
Stephanos
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17 posted 02-08-2001 08:50 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Frac,

a good book concerning the claims of the bible being the infallible word of God is "Evidence that Demands A Verdict" by Josh McDowell.  And yes I guess anyone could say that because he is a Christian, that his viewpoints are somewhat biased.  But  Josh McDowell was once a militant atheist and a very intelligent one.  As a matter of fact, he undertook the task of disproving the claims of Christianity once and for all.  He felt that it was mythology  and no more the word of God than stories about Greek and Roman "gods".  Anyway to make a long story short, his plunge into research to disprove the validity of Christianity brought him face to face with the conclusion that it must be absolutely true. . . not just philosophically, but as actual historical events (with the greater weight of grammatico-historical evidence supporting). . . especially the bodily ressurrection of Jesus Christ.  He actually ended up using his notes from much painstaking research to disprove Christianity in his book "Evidence ...".  So to me he is an example of someone who has been fully on both sides of this fence and therefore pretty objective by my judgement.  
    
      My personal mindset on the Bible?  I believe that because it was written by men, that it has unavoidable frailties.  Most of these amount to grammatical, minor historical discrepencies,  inaccuracies of actual number accounts (such as how many men battled in a certain army compared with another  account also in the Bible of the same battle with different numbers).  I feel that this was due to the tools available to the historians of those times who wrote the texts we now have in our Bibles.  What is to be questioned the most is integrity.  
    
     Do I believe the Bible is infallible in the sense of every minute historical, or grammatical detail?  No because it was written by humans.  Do I believe that it is infallible in the sense of being Divinely inspired by God to reveal inerrant Spritual truths?  Yes.  Overall I do see the bible as accurate historically... most especially in those texts where the writer was writing as a historian first.   There are other texts where the primary aim of the writer was not historical, but poetic, instructional, or inspirational.  So it does not surprise me that historical aspects in these instances are not of minutest accuracy.  I don't think that's what the Christian Church really means when they say that it is "infallible".  Don't misunderstand me,  the gospels of the new Testament (Matthew Mark, Luke, and John) especially Luke are pristine examples of historical documentation.  As a matter of fact Luke was a Gentile historian very skilled in Greek.  (These guys weren't all just a bunch of Jews trying to write their own made up stories).
      
     The sheer number of surviving manuscripts of texts that make up the New Testament (and their closeness to the actual date of writing) speaks a tremendous weight of support historically.  Homer's "Illiad" was written around 800 B.C. and the earliest surviving manuscript is 400 B.C. ... a 400 year difference.  The earliest surviving manuscript from the New Testament is around 114 A.D.  From the adult life of Jesus Christ this is less than 100 years.  There are 643 manuscripts available for the Illiad.  There are 24,970 for the New Testament.  It has been quoted "There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament."  
There are scores of other compelling evidence as well which I have no time to cover.  
  
    One notable point however is what C.S. Lewis once made, that any mindset which has embraced naturalism and accepts its philosophical tenants (one of which is that miracles are impossible since all that is is part of "nature" thus ruling out any intervention of anything "supernatural") approaches all judgements with a bias.  Even if there are prophetic instances in the Bible where the writer by revelation has foretold the future, and that future is fulfilled, the naturalist historian assumes unscientifically but philosophically that such a thing cannot be and so has to make a historical judgement that the writer wrote the text after the  predicted event rather than before ... even if a plethora of evidence points to the earlier date.  My point is that if someone has doggedly decided not to believe, then in most cases they will not even with a large amount of evidence.  I think faith is designed in such a way that we can never have the kind of rigorous evidence that scientific experimentation will provide, but we can enough evidence to confirm the truth if we are seeing also from an intellectual, emotional, spritual level (on the inside).  
    
     The bottom line?  Only the Spirit of God can show a person inconclusive evidence on the inside, which causes him not to absolutely need inconclusive evidence on the outside (though he enjoys knowledge and delights when it confirms the truth that God has already made to him indisputable).  You don't have to know all the mysteries to have faith.  But I do relate to your feeling that the "churches" let us down.  Sometimes we need some "Cerebral Christianity" and need to work through our questions.  The book "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis is an awesome book by an intellectual Christian who also was once a very determined atheist.  It influenced me and attracted me even before I believed.

Gosh,  How did I get here from youth suicide.   My advice .. DON'T DO IT... I PROMISE I'LL QUIT WRITING SO LONG.  YOU CAN COME OFF THAT LEDGE NOW.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (edited 02-08-2001).]
fractal007
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18 posted 02-09-2001 02:06 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Stephanos:

You needn't worry, I am not suicidal.  I'm just worried about what today's youth will be doing in adulthood.  I mean, what will society look like tomorrow if more and more youth today are embracing this existentialist ideal of the "Human Predicament?"

Thankyou for the references.  I will have to read those books sometime.  I think you quotation of CS Lewis regarding biases was quite correct.  It seems to me that humans are a law making animal, even on an individual level.  Do not worry, I am not giving up Christianity.  I am just afraid of what the Bible really is - unexplored.  What I mean is that so many people are arguing their case about it that very few have ever really analysed it from a non-biased point of view.  

WarmHrt:

You have raised some interesting points.  I don't mean to jump to too many conclusions, but I will pose this question.  Can existentialism become an illness in that way?  

It seems to me that the "liberating" acceptance of death that the document I mentioned described, is more of a defeatest attitude toward life.  When I discussed it with my mother we came to the conclusion that persevering through trials and not killing yourself when things get bumpy is a display of strength.  

Of course, one of that group of youth perpetuating the acceptance of death might argue that since there is no point in existence, there must not be any point in being heroic and strong.  But what about Beowulf, the famous epic of Anglo-Saxon origin?  Who do we remember, Beowulf or Grendel?  Did Hrothgar decide to just kill off his kingdom because they would eventually be killed anyway?  I mean, yes, it might have been cowardly to run off, but Hrothgar did enlist help.  I like what a No Fear t-shirt that I once saw someone wearing read:  "A hero is someone who gets up even when he can't."

I don't mean to make this post sound like some self help book, but I think that our society needs more heroes.  I don't mean people who fly around in capes.  I mean people who get up even when they can't, after blow after blow, and fight the battle for that which they know is good, or that which they want badly enough.  If we had that more than just people running around trying to make money, we might have more inspiration in our culture.

So, my point is that if one does not see any point to his/her existence, how does he/she know that someone else admires him/her?  How do we know that he/she is not an inspiration toward someone else?

As far as spiritual assistance back then as opposed to now is concerned, I don't really know any of the statistics concerning this.  I do know of many people in my local church who would support me or anyone else if he/she were suicidal.  But maybe that's just because I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, where as one person put it eloquently, if you can't remember what you did yesterday you can ask someone else.
fractal007
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19 posted 02-09-2001 02:40 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Here is a link to the place I was reading from.  Don't worry, I am not suicidal.  This is just what my search led me to.  It is one of the growing number of "satanic" websites out there.  However, I doubt that these people really are satanic as they don't likely know what the word means.

[I hope you'll understand if I remove the link, f. In the first place, I'm not comfortable sending these guys ANY traffic. But just as importantly, I really don't want them following the link back to us and discovering a new venue from which to preach. Anyone who really wants this can email fractal for it. Thanks, Ron]

I hope that nobody gets mad if I quite it.  I will put less objectionable words in where I see it fit.  However, this is just a taste of this mentality:

"knowing that we can at any point terminate our lives can be a powerful incentive. ok, now I can do anything. if the heat gets too much, I can push 'eject, game over' and I don't have to worry about the conditions I've created for myself. to many this is considered 'weak, avoidance, cheating, sinful, etc.', but that is just a human judgment intent on keeping us as their pawns, playing by *their* rules, condemned by *their* bogey gods, afraid to take the Final Power into their own hands and projecting this onto us as some sort of cosmic sin. after all, if they have to suffer in the [trash heap] we're making of the world, we should be required to suffer it too, right?"

"...most of us don't have the first inkling about what death includes, what it will be like, and a great number of humans hope to mystically circumvent this extinction-phase of our lives (termination). so we become members of cults which dream about afterlives and pretend that we're never going to die. the culture in which I live [US:CA] is pro-youth and ANTI-DEATH."

I hope this helps in understanding more about what's going on in the minds of this particular youth subculture.
Stephanos
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20 posted 02-09-2001 10:30 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I see a futile attempt in these "necrophagous" philosophies to debunk any idea of meaning, purpose, or possible goodness in life.  Then not even holding to their own "rules" of play, (didn't they say meaning doesn't exist?) they make death or suicide a shrine of meaning and purpose.  They promote a feeling that the whole cosmos is really against everyone by stirring up the seeds of existential fear that we sometimes face.  Anything that  is nourished will grow, either bad or good, and they take advantage of that.  Then when all looks bleak to their hearers, they paint death's portrait with such heroic colors.  They make it seem "righteous" in some kind of twisted way.  The ultimate "Victim" mentality comes into play here.  Since we are the "victims" of such a cruel and meaningless existence, the most admirable thing anyone of us can do is defy reality and rebel against it by suicide.  See how they are presenting self inflicted death as such a "glorious" ending, as if by hating everything and everyone including ourselves, we could come out in some way justified?... as if we could shout back and say "See I told you it was Hopeless... I PROVED it!!!".  But if we commit suicide we only prove that we abandoned our own hope.

Our most genuine human experiences (when we are not calloused with cynicism) have taught us that life is good and to be cherished, that it is a gift to be used wisely.  Following that very basic almost child-like knowledge teaches us that it is best not to throw what we have of life to the wolves... even though we are in a wolf- ravaged world so to speak.  

I believe that there are spiritual powers that know the rudiments of reality and existence in a more intimate way that we do... good and or evil spirits if you will (though I am aware that is not a popular stance in today's politically correct sphere of thought).  These spirits have voiced their teachings into the world through many ways, but mostly through intimations of thought.  Why else would there be people of such strong conviction in either direction?  some to love and cheish life, others to love death?  If it were just a matter of opinion then the issue would not stir our deepest emotions like it does.  So more than anything else I think that the people you quoted (and others who hold similar views) are decieved.  Not to be hated, they are to be pitied because they have been duped and fooled (I know they would say we have been fooled into valuing life, but get real!  If this is so I think I'd rather be a fool) But I also believe their doctrines should be avoided like the plauge.   (Ha, I just had a thought... their doctrines HAVE cause just that, a plauge!).  So since there are definite philosophies behind what they say, these are no mere matters of opinion. . . like one group preferring music over poetry or SPAM over tuna fish (Yuck!).  

(That reminds me... you guys should really check out the SPAM-KU website sometime...   thousands of Haiku about that mystery meat we all love... to hate.  
If you get time try it out.  Don't have the exact address...use your search engines.)

I really believe some beliefs are better than others... and this one is a no brainer to me.  But I don't ridicule anyone who sees things in this way,  I have a desire to help somehow.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (edited 02-09-2001).]
Stephanos
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21 posted 02-09-2001 10:41 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Frac,


I forgot to say... Don't worry,  I don't think that you are suicidal.  You love SPAM too much to want to die I'm sure.  LOL!

fractal007
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22 posted 02-09-2001 10:55 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Stephanos:

When I read things like those quotations I gave you I often find myself falling back on a single question:

How did "me" express itself?  Why do I experience the life of this person and not someone else's?

Some might argue that it was a simple twist of fate.  Others might argue that it was by devine action.  But my existing, along with everyone else's existing is something that's often puzzled me.  I do agree with you, Stephanos.  The ideals of not valuing life are at best cynical.  I don't profess to know the meaning of life, but I do feel that it is my own purpose[whether it be of my own choosing or with a little help from powers "above", I do not know] to help in finding more clues to why we're here.  I don't think that there is some cosmic power that is going to punish us if we don't follow the teachings of one book or another to the dot and the T, as I said in my recent poem on Heaven.  But I do believe in a higher power, not because of what the evidence has told me, but because it's fun to just assume that someday[or whatever designation might be given to increments of time in the future] we will be given the answers, in whatever form we may be in.  Why am I saying this?  Well, even the most avid materialist must admit that the basic atoms and particles that make us up will still be around after we die.  How do we know we won't be around again in some other form, to do this all over again?

All:

I'm not trying to promote any sort of religion or spiritual philosophy, but I think that everyone must use his/her gifts to the best of his/her ability.  Why?  Well because maybe, just maybe, society is a system that operates in a way similar to any other system.  Maybe people are like atoms.  Maybe each person needs to find that social group to be around and to help to uphold society.  I am sure that someone else has probably thought this same sort of stuff, so I would be quite interested in what this thought is called.

I am glad that I did post this whole thing in the first place.  It's become a discussion that's led to all sorts of interesting things, lol.


One quick addition, because I didn't see that last bit, Stephanos:

Spam?  *raises eyebrow in that classical way Spock always does*

Well, I'll have to get back to you on the spam.  You will have to clarify what you mean by 'spam.'

Also, I always put that occasional disclaimer in there because I don't want people to think I'm morbid or something, lol.  Just worried about the 'senseless waste of life.'  I think Einstein used that term for what was going on in WW1.  I use it for the "no meaning in life and pointlessness of it all" attitude.

[This message has been edited by fractal007 (edited 02-09-2001).]
Stephanos
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23 posted 02-09-2001 11:21 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

What do I mean by SPAM???


I mean that gelatin-like cube of shivering flesh that glistens with an off-pink tinged jelley, all in a user friendly blue tin labelled "HORSMELL"...oh exuse the typo I meant "HORMELL".

Check out our next great philosophical venture ... in my next post called "What IS SPAM exactly anyway???"
Brad
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24 posted 02-10-2001 12:20 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Steve,
Excellent point. They are investing meaning and power in something (death) when they have argued that nothing has meaning.  You can't have it both ways.

The irony, of course, is that you NEVER have control over your own death. You can't control it. Think about this for a minute before anybody replies (I can just hear the sarcastic retorts coming)-- you can attempt to control it but in that moment between life and death, you have no control.  Trying to do so is the ultimate illusion.

Death comes.

Brad

PS Now, when I have time I'll try to explain what I mean by 'it doesn't matter' and why it's the concern with spiritual and not religion that bothers me. Quickly, and if you don't mind it being a little too symmetrical. I'm not interested in the spirtual aspect of human beings so much as I am the religious aspect.
 
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