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jbouder
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50 posted 08-22-2002 02:19 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Toad:

The difference is that a post hoc ergo procter hoc assumes causation.  Granted, religion is often used to rally people to the cause of a despot, but it isn't the only vehicle.  You could also say that the 9/11 attack would never occurred if a Jewish state wasn't established in the Middle East after WWII.  I'm convinced that this was a political, and not a religious, move by Western powers.  More than likely, in my opinion, the 9/11 attack was politically motivated and the attackers would have probably carried the act out whether they were Moslem extremists or not.

To argue that religion is a primary cause here is a gross over-simplification.  The fight is over dirt, not over whose God is supreme.  The same is true in Northern Ireland (and has been since the Elizabethan and Cromwellian Settlements).

Your other example, the Spanish Inquisition, at its root was not over religion either.  It was politically motivated response to a threat to the power of Rome over the Western world.  Sure, Luther's reformation was theological in nature, but the German monarchs who supported Luther thirsted for political independence from Rome.  Henry VIII's Reformation of the English church was certainly not theologically motivated (the man wanted a divorce).

Religion may have been the vehicle to stoke the zeal of the simpler folk into joining in the cause, but make no mistake about it: the Pope at the time, as well as his Cardinals and Inquisitors were just as much, if not moreso, political activists than religious zealots.

Jim
Toad
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51 posted 08-22-2002 07:51 PM       View Profile for Toad   Email Toad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toad


Jim:

quote:
The difference is that a post hoc ergo procter hoc assumes causation.

And a strict adherence denies attribution of cause regardless of whether it was in truth the actual cause. Using this maxim as a reference if I dance round in a circle dressed in feathers and animal skins and it starts to rain it would be wrong to assume that my dancing caused the rain, regardless of whether my dancing actually did cause it to rain.
quote:
Granted, religion is often used to rally people to the cause of a despot, but it isn't the only vehicle. You could also say that the 9/11 attack would never occurred if a Jewish state wasn't established in the Middle East after WWII. I'm convinced that this was a political, and not a religious, move by Western powers.

Perhaps it was politically motivated but to deny out of hand that Islam was a factor would seem to be foolhardy given that the instigators promoted it as such.
quote:
More than likely, in my opinion, the 9/11 attack was politically motivated and the attackers would have probably carried the act out whether they were Moslem extremists or not.

Does that mean that if they were Christian the outcome would have been the same?
quote:
To argue that religion is a primary cause here is a gross over-simplification. The fight is over dirt, not over whose God is supreme. The same is true in Northern Ireland (and has been since the Elizabethan and Cromwellian Settlements).

Religion may not be a primary cause but it can’t be denied as a factor.
quote:
Religion may have been the vehicle to stoke the zeal of the simpler folk into joining in the cause, but make no mistake about it: the Pope at the time, as well as his Cardinals and Inquisitors were just as much, if not moreso, political activists than religious zealots.

But without religion would they have been in a position to instigate the events?

Thank you for the chance to read and reply
brian madden
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52 posted 08-22-2002 11:19 PM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

Jim, my point of asking that question regarding the divisions in the church is that it is impossible to say who is right and who is wrong, the Christian church has suppressed, eradicated or assimilated pagan beliefs and customs. My point is that just because it is documented in the bible does not necessarily mean that every word is truth. None of us of truly know how much the bible has been altered or changed down through the centuries.

“Violence and bloodshed are part of human history no matter where you look”
My point there was that religious debate has through history often led to bloodshed. I am just using my country’s circumstance as an instance where murders have been committed because a person is catholic or protestant. Obviously the problem extends deeper than a disagreement over beliefs but often that disagreement lays the foundation for such conflict.

“Are you then suggesting that Islam is responsible for the September 11th attacks“ No I am suggesting that distortion of religious beliefs can lead to such events, if the person is fanatical enough. I always have a certain wariness of a person, who puts forward solely religious text as their thoughts in an argument. And how devote is this person if they ignore certain parts of the bible in favour or others, what of the “evils” of homosexuality mentioned in Leviticus? I have no problem with religion, but we should not allow our morality to be defined purely by religious text.

“Endeavoring to find God in happiness alone is a shallow pipe-dream”.  Yes I am aware of that point,
though I believe that people do need something to believe in, a spiritual centre whether it be church, family, nature etc…  I also think that “God “ (whatever the definition is to a particular person)
is an important part of society, we all need or at least at some point need an answer to the question of “why do we exist” “what is our purpose in life?” the answer to this our acceptance or reaction against  that God figure.

“After all, finding God in the midst of adversity and great trial is what builds religious character and a greater appreciation for those small things that do, from time to time, make us happy” .
But are they looking for God in the wider spiritual sense or simply a comfort zone in distress? Is such an act true religious devotion?


To Toad, I understand what started the troubles, but religion has played a large part in troubles over the 20-30 years.  

The sum of the angles of that rectangle is too monstrous to contemplate!

Toad
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53 posted 08-23-2002 06:30 AM       View Profile for Toad   Email Toad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toad


Brian

I’d go even further, over the past twenty or thirty years religion has been the only reason for some people. Catholics have killed Protestants and vice versa because they were Catholics and Protestants, the original reason has been forgotten by most or superseded by a sectarian agenda.
Ron
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54 posted 08-23-2002 08:33 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I disagree. Or, rather, I think attributing hate to religious differences is too simplistic an answer.

Sure, an "us versus them" mentality can and very often has centered around religion. Or skin color. Or social stratum. Shoot, I've seen riots erupt at high school football games when "competitive spirit" between two rivals crossed the line from healthy to destructive. Hate doesn't need a justification. It just needs an excuse.

Pointing the finger at religion is dangerous, I think, because any possible solution is then addressing just the symptoms and not the true cause. Agreements, accords, and compromises over the issues don't work because the issues are largely just excuses. There is a group dynamic underlying the hate, a mass psychology that seems to pave the way for violence. The "us versus them" mentality is invariably based on differences, whether religious or racial or something else, but differences alone don't seem to be enough to incite it. Avarice is usually part of the recipe, and ironically, I think misplaced trust in authority also plays a role. Mix all the different parts, in just the right amounts, and the results can be explosive. If we are to avert the kind of hate we've seen throughout human history, we need to better understand that recipe. I believe the first step in that direction is to recognize that differences are only a single ingredient, and probably the ONLY ingredient that we can't better control.

p.s. Though I know my welcome-back is belated, it's good to see you again, Jim.  
The Napkin Writer
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55 posted 08-23-2002 11:51 AM       View Profile for The Napkin Writer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for The Napkin Writer

I can imagine that a thousand and one (mass population-type) crimes have been committed in the name of some form of religion or another.  Not just the crimes where innocent individuals lost their lives, but also their dignity, culture, history, personal freedoms, or just freedom of a voice and choice.

Someone said to me earlier in this thread, that my truth just might not be his or her truth, (or something to that nature, I didn’t go back and check), but here is some more of what I believe to be truth, my truth.  

When I hear people start talking about people like Hitler, I stop and ask myself of the happenings of those times.  The United States has always been a powerful nation, so what, “to me” do I believe that Hitler may have assumed to accomplish?    Or whom or what nations he may have assumed would align themselves with his causes.  Remember at the time the United States was entrenched in bigotry, and hate crimes it self.  This is nineteen thirty-nine, not even a hundred years out of slavery, and a lot of these individuals who went along with this chaos called themselves God-fearing Christians! No matter how, or what you may think about Hitler, he had an ingenious plan, and the United States could have easily gone along with it.  There was enough ignorance in the United States at the time for whites to start killing Blacks, Indians, Spanish, Chinese, or any other non-white immigrant.

If certain men would have had their way, America could have entered WW II from an opposite perspective.  Europe was already established in Africa, they had been for years.  The British had colonized there hundreds of years before Hitler was even born.  There is no telling which way the Soviet Union would have turned.  The Soviets had been killing the Polish for decades.  The Japanese rule and torture of the Chinese had been going on for centuries. Hitler was crazy, but he was also no fool.  He knew that the racism, which existed in the world at the time, could and would have brought this whole world to its knees of this neo-nazi/Aryan dictatorship.    

How easy is it for mankind to kill, and then say it’s in the name of some sort of religion, or just cause?  Germany was under strict sanctions from WW I.  They had no true leader at the time, and they were not only looking for a leader, but also someone to blame and or maybe even punish for their situation.  Not to play down the Holocaust, but any other non-white culture could have been in place of the Jews.  Remember Hitler called for the elimination of all non-white, non-pure races, not just the Jews.  You had racial slaughter going on all over the world in the early decades of last century.  


As far as 911 is concerned, “I” don’t believe that, that had anything at all to do with religion at all.  I believe that the same group of individuals that just screwed a quarter of a million Americans, out of their homes, retirements, education for their children, careers, cars, and just plain accustoms of life, are to blame!  These “oil wars” has been going on for years, and corporations based here in the United States has been one of the prime players.  

Some may still want to believe that we, in all of are Christian goodness went over to the Mid-east to help save a destitute people, but I don’t, not now, not after the way these corporations just did our own people.  

When you stop and think of the terrorist targets, there was only one real target, to cripple what they believed was the financial structure of this country; never believing that it truly is the people, and not corporations.  The White House was a target because most overseas deals involving major corporations must be approved through some form of politics; and the Pentagon because intelligence of any source involving a retaliatory strike, would have more than likely initiated in those walls.  

So, to me 911 had two meanings, the first being retaliation for what U. S. corporations have done to those Middle Easterners for years, and the other was to cripple our politicians, and slow any military response.   I believe this was a military action under retaliatory bases, and the only relationship religion played in this was the fact that the perpetrators were of Islamic backgrounds.  

The sad part in this is; since 911 destroyed many middle eastern oil trades, how were many of these corporations who were involved, to recover financially?  Now many of these deals may date back before 911, but after 911, there was widespread panic of major losses in the corporate boardroom.  

There have been other major investments of American corporations throughout our history that have lead to wars.  Vietnam is probably the most notable era the United States could have made in trying to protect investments of American corporations.  In the first half of last century, Vietnam, like Cuba, was considered two of the worlds pleasure resort countries.  Vietnam resorts were mainly control by the French and American enterprises, and Cuba’s resorts were mainly control by gangsters and American enterprises.  These two countries were drenched in casinos, hotels, planned housing developments, and corporate interest groups influencing government officials on all sides, (including the American politician).  

In both cases, the Soviets aided these countries in ousting the United States.  And this is one of the reasons we stayed on our heels during the cold war.  None of this had anything to do with religion, a country being under-developed, and two centuries out of date with modernization or technologies.  It had to do with GREED!
  

I like to make one more point before I stop rattling!  Do you know how convicted rapists are let back in the community?  Their crimes are listed.  Details of their offenses are listed.  Their faces are posted.  A town meeting is called, and anyone whom, may or may not have any objections to a man/woman who has served their time, could live in a particular neighborhood.   Now what about these priest?  They hid behind the Holy Bible and the cloth of the church.  And if that wasn’t enough, their superiors hid more truth and details of their gruesome sexual exploitations boys, children!  How can any American find the shameless-nerve to stand up and cry foul of any religion, when they have stood by and allowed these poor excuses of men get away with raping hundreds children over the past sixty years, that we know about?  

There are the stories of how women who are raped are treated by defense attorneys, now there is a portion of male rape victims who understand why some women never even report their rapes.  To make matters worst, our cowardly judicial system allows these rapist and their protectors, to go to Dallas, and decide their own fate, what!    There is only one other incident that comes to mind of this sort of sorry excuse of a judicial system, was when Pablo Escabar was allowed to build his own prison in Columbia.  If that isn’t a double standard, tell me what is?

Now if other religious groups from all around the world are watching this, they are laughing in our face, every time one of us cries about some else’s religion.  And there are those diplomats, and foreign interest groups who would rather do business with those countries in the Middle East, than to chance being screwed by one of our corporations here in America.  On a national level it may not mean much to a lot of people, but on a global level, it could mean what honesty we may or may not bring to global bargaining tables.

What these priest and corporate leaders did give supporters of terrorism more ammunition and reasons to despise us, (not that they already didn’t).  Now if anyone is still confused as to why we are so hated around the world, they should try opening his or her eyes.  If we don’t know what’s going on in our own back yard, or willing to deal with it, or even tell ourselves the truth about what’s going on in our own back yard, then it’s us who has the problem, not Islamic religion, or the rest of the world.  

Jesus spoke about men with tree limbs and two by fours poking out their eyes, pointing out everyone with a toothpick in theirs.  

      
In saying this I do also recognize the thousands who give their lives that all who lived in this country was able to live as free men, women and children.  This is why I believe that so much importance was and has been placed on the athlete of non-white decent of those times, particularly Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolph, Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis.  They prove that any one man woman or religious belief was not superior over another, but rather any man or woman, could rise above what they were believe to be, if given the opportunity, and it took a lot of “great white Americans” to help this happen.  For that I am very grateful of those whom have sought the truth in Christianity!  As a matter of fact, every American citizen should be proud of how far we have come as one nation “under God, indivisible!”   “Justice for all, we’ve still got a way to go!”

I don’t think that it would be that easy for someone to tell me or convince me to take up arms against my next door neighbor, simply because he’s white, or a Christian, or a Jew, and even Islamic!  And in the long run it proves to me that “the individual,” regardless of their race, creed, or color, or religious preference, but rather what’s in the individual heart, that is the “final solution” to what brings us closer to being truly “God-like” creatures.

I know this entry might bring a lot of heat, but the history of it has already been written.  And I try to keep weighing out what I’ve been told over the years with what I see with my own two eyes, and I keep coming up with the same answers.

So blast away, and God Bless!  
jbouder
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56 posted 08-24-2002 02:17 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

I agree with Ron.  Correctly determining causation is an important ingredient in preventing a reoccurrance of an unpleasant happening.  I suppose if this isn't something a person does well, they can always get a job with the UN.

Jim

P.S. Ron ... I'm glad to be able to be back.  Had to set matters straight on the homefront, you understand.  Thanks for the welcome.
Stephanos
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57 posted 08-24-2002 09:58 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

It's a sad truth that professing churchmen have not always followed the commandments of Christ.  ie... "Love one another",  "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword".  I think that the disowning of Jesus in the form of actions against his revealed heart and teachings is the source of skepticism for most ... moreso than the disagreement of doctrinal issues.  

So you don't have to believe that the teachings and body of truth that Jesus set forth has been corrupted and dissolved through the centuries (in the form of textual variants) in order to explian why so much turmoil has occurred.  As someone has pointed out before, turmoil is a part of humanity on Earth.   Scholarship shows that though changes have happened, the existing manuscripts of the New Testament are very close to the original in years, and great in number and conformity to one another... we have more evidence for the accuracy of the gospels than we do for Shakespeare's works.  


The idea that "we just don't know how much has been changed and lost" fails for two reasons.  One, it's not true, historically.  Two, it reflects a skepticism that is based more on what is seen in reaction to the texts than the texts itself, or even who the text was primarily about.  Isn't it interesting that true followers of Christ (in the sense of obeying his words and piety of life) never commit murder or bloodshed?  And this is regardless of the organization of men that they are associated with ... ie Catholic, or protestant religious institutions.  His holy people are scattered throughout the Earth not concentrated in one sect.  And this characterizes them... LOVE for one another and Love for Jesus Christ.  It's really that simple.  You can blame apostate churchmen all your life, and even use them as your excuse for not understanding, or wanting to understand the clear teachings of Jesus, but will it really get you anywhere or justify you?  Take an honest look at the life of Jesus in the gospels,  then take a look at the few in history who have truly followed him, you will see lives that reflect truth.  


His body of teaching is as full and intact as it ever was... but little lived.  Peter has raised his sword and so the world has lost the ear with which to hear the gospel truth.  But Christ may yet put it back and heal everything. . .  and restore Peter as well.


Stephen.
Red
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58 posted 11-09-2002 02:41 PM       View Profile for Red   Email Red   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Red

What an intriguing thread!!!  Interesting read.
You know, one of the biblical ten commandments are: "thou shall not kill" and then every other page before and after is awash with blood shed.. which makes me wonder, maybe pre-translation it said: "thou shall not kill ... sometimes."
or maybe even :  "thou shalt kill"....????

"It's interesting how everyone seems ready to agree about lies, but no one can agree on truth. Is that even possible?"

Truth is subjective.
religious beliefs are subjective.
everything is subjective.

One of my teachers said something that has always stayed with me:

Objectivity is a farce.

"you cannot be neutral on a moving train."
Stephanos
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59 posted 11-11-2002 02:38 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Red,

I rather think that total subjectivity is a farce.  Otherwise, nothing could be cogently argued.  And no one could even agree on lies (as you mentioned).  To agree on lies is at least to recognize the difference between a lie and the truth.  Much objectivity extends to the realm of religion as well.  Either a claim is true or not.  Either there is a God or there is not.  Either Buddhism is the path of enlightenment or it is not.  Either Christ rose from the dead or he didn't.  Either there is a Heaven and a Hell or there isn't.  


But if you reject all religious ideas as man's mythology... then you must grapple with the final outcome of atheistic thinking... skepticism and ultimately nihilism.  Funny isn't it, that mutually exclusive claims, by nature, can't all be true?

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-11-2002 02:39 AM).]

Red
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60 posted 11-11-2002 12:47 PM       View Profile for Red   Email Red   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Red

"But if you reject all religious ideas as man's mythology... then you must grapple with the final outcome of atheistic thinking... skepticism and ultimately nihilism.  Funny isn't it, that mutually exclusive claims, by nature, can't all be true?"

Is skepticism and nihilism so wrong???

You know, I had a rigorous protestant upbringing (got candy bars for memorizing bibile versus, said grace, went to church every sunday and all that fun stuff.lol) but as I got older, too many things happened in my life for me to accept religious tenets so blindly anymore.  I now envy my mother's beliefs as well as anybody else who is religous because they have all the answers, but I'm just not at a point in my life where they work for me.
I've found that school has pretty much shattered any belief that I thought I had and as soon as I start leaning towards a new one, something contradicting comes along which makes me question myself all over again.  
I don't know that it's as as simple as "Either a claim is true or not."... or maybe it just isn't for me.  How to explain myself.. hmmmm, while I don't think that total objectivity or total subjectivity are possible, I believe that things are subjective more than anything else and would have to disagree with you there.   What's true for one, isn't necessarily true for another and 'true or not true' ceases to work.  Unless of course there's an absolute truth, and if there is, show it to me!!!
I don't know, I guess I just feel that I'm at a point in my life where I've realized that everything I thought I knew, I knew because I was conditioned to believe it and I really I don't know anything, but I'm searching!
Part of the reason why I like this forum, so many opposing views for me to sit and think about!  

hush
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61 posted 11-11-2002 03:26 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Skepticism gets people to question something. Nihilism basically says that there's no point, because no beliefs are real anyway. That's my understanding, at least.

I don't think people can properly function thinking that there is no point whatsoever to what they do.

But I don't think that Atheistic thinking necessarily lead to nihilism in that sense. To me, nihilism is a pretty broad term anyway, and if by nihilism you mean rejection of meaning beyond earthly existense, then yeah, that's true. But to me, nihilism negates entirely any meaning in any action. It is nothingness, implying that it does not matter what we do on earth.

Being an Atheist does not mean you cease to consider what you believe to be right and wrong, and it doesn't mean that actions become meaningless. From my understanding, life on Earth becomes very important to an Atheist, because that's all there is. Life is meaning in and of itself. Since there is no eternal afterlife to lend (mythical?) consequence to Earthly actions, and Atheist must judge an action as right/wrong based solely on Earthly consequences.

In some cases, yeah, I'm sure there's a "hah hah hah, I can't go to hell, so why not do whatever I want?" attitude. But since Atheists hold Earthly experience above all others, they are more likely to relate strongly with the suffering that people endure on Earth, and take steps to either actively oppose it by protest, or at least to avoid putting other people into pain.

To me, this is akin to liberation theology in the sense that it places emphasis on Earthly release from suffering, rather than meekly accepting suffering in hopes for heavenly salvation. The only important difference (to me) is that one group believes in an afterlife, one doesn't.

Both refute the use of the model of Jesus Christ by opressive peoples in teaching oppressed peoples to 'turn the other cheek' in accepting their plights.

This is based on observations in my own life- so no, I really can't back up my argument that Atheists are just as concerned with the morality of actions as others are with facts. I don't know of organized groups of atheists that are out to save the world. (I'm sure there are groups, if only on small scales- I just don't know of them.) But I do know people who don't believe in God/a higher power(s) that are concerned about things, and I think to call them nihilists is truly a disservice.

[This message has been edited by hush (11-11-2002 03:29 PM).]

Stephanos
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62 posted 11-12-2002 02:35 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Red,

You wrote: " I now envy my mother's beliefs as well as anybody else who is religous because they have all the answers, but I'm just not at a point in my life where they work for me."


Doesn't this "envy" arise from something within you that knows very well that there are answers?  If you really believed that "truth is subjective" as you stated in your earlier reply, then why the pining feelings?  This is the same knowledge that I could never shake before I became a Christian... that there is a truth, an answer to the deep questions of life.  Making up my own never fully satisfied me, because I could never find the assurance that I would be right.  My question to you is, is the answer, "There are no answers" working for you now?  God put a deep void in each one of us that only he can fill.  I can relate to your searching.  I was seeking much in the same way until I found Christ for myself ... He turned out to be more than the idyllic  religious routines I had participated in as a child, He turned out to be the revelation of God that I always knew, yet was supressing deep inside.  I encourage you to keep searching.  You don't have to envy what is available to you.


Another thought...Have you ever considered viewing just as critically the "conditioning" of naturalism that takes place in various forms of education and all around you and in society?  How is it different than your "protestant upbringing"?  Both are taught.  The question is, which of two mutally exclusive claims are really true?


I know you, as many have, have seen some hard times.  Things have happened in your life bringing great confusion and pain.  The "problem of evil" is not just a metaphysical pondering of philosophers, it is where the rubber meets the road in our lives.  It is real.  And it is a problem.  But not giving way to self pity in myself or in others, I assert that rough times are no cogent reasons not to believe God.  I am tempted often in the same area.  

As C.S. Lewis wrote, "It is always assumed that the difficulties of Faith are intellectual difficulties, that a man who has once accepted a certain proposition will automatically go on believing it till real grounds for disbelief occur.  Nothing could be more superficial . . . If we wish to be rational, not now and then, but constantly, we must pray for the gift of Faith, for the power to go on believing not in the teeth of reason but in the teeth of lust and terror and jealousy and boredom and indifference that which reason, authority, or experience, or all three, have once delivered to us for truth." - from "Religion: reality or substitute"


Nihilism is a philosophy that will guarantee your searching to never have an end.  In fact, it's unsatisfying answer claims to be that very end.  It is also contrary to the innate knowledge that God has placed in each one of us about himself.  His fingerprint is in our souls.  We can avoid it only for so long.  Keep searching Red,  you will find the truth.  I'll pray for you as well.


Stephen.

Opeth
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63 posted 11-12-2002 07:38 AM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Hush ~ Excellent response, indeed.

There is no "hell" as taught by mainstream Christianity. Has not anyone researched how this idea and belief of hell began?

As an agnostic, and one who does not believe in any afterlife, my actions are based on my upbringing.
hush
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64 posted 11-12-2002 10:21 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

'As an agnostic, and one who does not believe in any afterlife, my actions are based on my upbringing.'

Doesn't that make you an Atheist? Or by 'does not believe' do you mean you don't believe, but don't disbelieve? Because, from all of your other posts, I had thought you are pretty straight-up Atheist...

Agnosticism, to me, is a hesitancy to make claims about the after life, an unwillingness to declare that religious afterlife does or does not exist. It is "I don't know" transformed into ideaology. You make claims, with an air of confidence, that the afterlife (or, at least, the Christian afterlife) does not exist. To me, this goes beyond agnosticism...
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65 posted 11-12-2002 10:46 AM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

An agnostic does not necessarily challenge the existence of an afterlife, but the existence of a Creator.

I believe that a Creator may indeed exist. However, if there is a Creator, it definitely isn't the Christian, Muslim, (add any man-made religion here), God.

As for an afterlife, I don't believe in one.

This, is all there is...and the majority of people just can't accept that reality, which is why the popularity of an afterlife is so entrenched as a truth in practically every society on this planet.
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66 posted 11-12-2002 11:11 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Hush,

you wrote, "I don't think people can properly function thinking that there is no point whatsoever to what they do.  But I don't think that Atheistic thinking necessarily lead to nihilism in that sense"

Consider a quote by Bertrand Russell ... "Brief and powerless is man's life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way."

I think that athiests like Bertrand Russell and Freidrich Nietzche are exemplary of the end of atheistic thought.  They are men who (at least at times) fully saw the logical conclusion of their world view.  I at least admire their honesty in expressing the results of their chosen unbelief.  They were compelled to admit that meaningless in a Godless universe is now, not just when we die, or when the sun is snuffed out.  One configuration of matter  has no advantage over another.  


There are many atheists who are not so bleak in their description of reality as Mr. Russell.  But their worldview lends no support for such feelings, hopes, or aspirations.  If the universe sprang from impersonal and irrational forces, meaningfulness is just a pleasant illusion.  In fact any semblance of order in nature is just a mirage on a cosmic sea of nothingness, awaiting destruction.  Feelings that we are accomplishing “good” are absurd in a universe where there is no standard of what is good and bad.  Atrocities will never be punished, and good deeds will never be rewarded in such a world.  Not only the after-life, but life now serves no meaning.  I can honestly say that if atheism were true, hedonism is the only philosophy which comports.  “Eat drink and be merry for tommorrow we die.”  But what is there to be “merry” about?  


you also wrote: “Being an Atheist does not mean you cease to consider what you believe to be right and wrong, and it doesn't mean that actions become meaningless


Of course atheists cannot live day to day in the full implications of their unbelief, they would live in despair and insanity.  Their lives pragmatically would not work.  Atheists do have purpose and meaning working in their lives, I agree.  But this only comes by virtue that they are made in the image of God.  It is because of  his grace that we can reason, work, smile, feel good about the sun shining, have hope for the day and for life, love our children,... etc.  This is the “knowledge of God” that is given to everyone, not just believers, spoken of in Romans Chapter one.  All of those atheists which aspire to lead good lives, filled with meaningful and purposive action, are taking this from another worldview ... God’s ... the one that is real and that they were born into.  You don’t have to go to Sunday school to get God’s general truth.  There is no escaping it.  The unbeliever is presupposing God’s knowledge at all times.  “In him we live and move and have our being”.  But the fact that we are given such knowledge even while we don’t consciously acknowledge where it comes from, should not make us proud.  The Bible seems to suggest that the mindset of unbelief, if left to its own course, will eventually lead to its full conclusion.  Right now atheists say, “There is no God”, and God says “Yes there is, and I’m not leaving you despite yourself”.  But how long will this blessing be extended to those who continue to resist the truth?  To ask God to continue forever this way, while choosing not to believe, would be really to ask him not to respect our choice.  I say these things not to make people angry, but to warn them.  Because Hell is real.  It is the final outcome of a worldview devoid of God.  Mr. Russell’s quote above, strangely sounds reminiscent of the Biblical portrayal of Hell.  I think those who persist in atheism long enough will see Hell more and more, even if they don’t call it that.  They will simply think it is the nihilistic state of mind that they have been forced into by what they have believed.  


Hush, I know you are not a nihilist.  You are bright, and intelligent, and thoughtful.  You seem to enjoy life and know that there’s something to it all, even though you don’t believe in God.  I just say these things in hope that you will continue to critically examine the worldview you hold, and find out if it really has the capacity for your belief that “there’s something to it”.  In grade school, erroneous beliefs about certain things are tolerated moreso than in high-school or college.  Likewise, agnostic or atheistic thought allows for the concepts of “purpose” and “hope” up to a certain point.  “When I was a child I spoke as a child ... but when I became an adult I put away childish things”.  I believe that the logical conclusions of the worldview that you hold will someday ask you to discard the “childish” concepts of hope and purpose and don the heavy armour of a war without victory, to establish your life on “a firm foundation of unshakeable despair” as Bertrand Russell calls it.   Hope and elative feelings of purpose are not childish, but child-like, and reflect the truth of God.  And Jesus even said that we must become (remain?) as little children to enter the kingdom of Heaven.  There is a time for warfare, just let it be for a cause.  Death without a cause is heart-sickening.


I mean no disservice to atheists by calling them nihilists.  I just want them to look to their “fathers”, the masters of their philosophy and the bravest of their own and see what they really believe.  


Stephen.


[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-12-2002 11:20 AM).]

Essorant
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67 posted 11-12-2002 11:33 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Does any one else find her/himself unable to stay in a permanance of a religious perspective?  I admit it I am a theist one day, atheist the next, then nihilist another, and other things mingled here and there.  Thus I don't know what to call my religion--confusion?  chaos?  Is there a remedy to to declear the soul from disease like this?  All I know is no matter what I feel or think, and no matter what is the actual truth about these smokey subjects, our world needs health and peace.   I am going do the right thing in life within this sense of direction.  This is a law to me, an inner government and perhaps the only real religion--respect.  Isn't it what all religions say in one way or another?  It is one word and so many truths can come to be understood from it.  I will say it directly without adding all this religious complexion of thought--Respect!   When you are consistant and truest to respect, you are saint to the world, no matter what your religious ways are.


[This message has been edited by Essorant (11-12-2002 12:22 PM).]

Stephanos
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68 posted 11-12-2002 11:41 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Opeth,

you wrote, "I believe that a Creator may indeed exist. However, if there is a Creator, it definitely isn't the Christian, Muslim, (add any man-made religion here), God.

and...

"As for an afterlife, I don't believe in one."


You believe a creator may exist, but deny every proposed "revelation" of his character and will to mankind.  You are logically forced to believe then that either God has chosen not to reveal himself to his creatures, or that we are incapable of knowing God.  This is an agnostic line of thinking... unless you have found a revelation of God yourself... in which case I would like to hear it.


But you have stated a definite belief that there is no afterlife.  If God has not revealed himself adequately or we cannot know, as agnosticism asserts, then even your belief here has no foundation.  There may be an afterlife and you don't know it.  What is your disbelief in an afterlife based on?  Certainly not on your concept of God who has not adequately revealed himself to you or anyone else (according to you).  The best agnosticism can say is "I don't know".  


A "god" who creates and then cuts himself off by virtue of not allowing positive knowledge of himself is rather evil and sadistic in nature.  Not to mention if he also created us with hopes, aspirations, dreams, the desire for life, only to snuff it out into oblivion ... a demon maybe, an all wise and benevolent God no.  If God is like this, then we are universe of play-things, dispensable and unimportant ... my heart says "No way".  


However as I mentioned above with Hush, I deny the concept that God has failed to reveal himself to us.  We all have a sufficient knowledge of God to lead us to the truth.  This is where agnosticism fails.  It is a self-deception to say that God is unknowable, for "In him we live, and move and have our being".  We couldn't even think without his virtue.


Stephen.  
Opeth
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69 posted 11-12-2002 12:24 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Stephan,

Before I answer your reply, if you don't already know, I was once where you are now (the born again stage of my life).

"You believe a creator may exist, but deny every proposed "revelation" of his character and will to mankind."

~ Whose proposed revelation? Men? Whose character and will, Hers or His?

~ What gives man any right to label a Creator as being a male? Or what His/Her/Other will and character is? I will answer it for you, none.

"You are logically forced..."

~ Logic never forces...it only dictates.

"...to believe then that either God has chosen not to reveal himself to his creatures, or that we are incapable of knowing God."

~ I am not saying that. If there is a Creator, it is not the Creator that any man-made religion calls upon. And if there is a Creator, He/She/Other may personally reveal Himself/Herself/Other to each of us in a myriad of ways or this Creator may not want to reveal themself at all for reasons unbekownist to us.

"This is an agnostic line of thinking... unless you have found a revelation of God yourself... in which case I would like to hear it."

~ My revelations came to me through my studies and through common sense, rationality, and logic.

"But you have stated a definite belief that there is no afterlife."

~ Yes. There is no afterlife. I have not met anyone who has died. Now, don't mistake popular opinion for fact. For example, if Solipsism ever became popular, we would all be all a part of another's personal world...and then whom would be the only true person?

Here is another one. If I started a religion that believed flying pink elephants ruled this world, but they only revealed themselves to their true believers, most people would say I was crazy, but if it caught on and over the centuries became popular, it would be "stamped" valid.

"If God has not revealed himself adequately or we cannot know, as agnosticism asserts, then even your belief here has no foundation. There may be an afterlife and you don't know it."

~ I already explained to Hush how I separate the two: Creator and afterlife. There is a foundation and it is strong.

"What is your disbelief in an afterlife based on?"

~ Most importantly it is based on this...We are phsysical bodies, and we need oxygen to breathe, which then pumps the blood to our vital organs. Our brains are the control center of everything we see, hear, smell, etc. Once one dies, the process of breathing stops. Once that occurs, our blood no longer flows. The control center then no longer exists. We die and decompose. Now, unless you have actually seen and could prove that people have died and still live. I rest my case. Otherwise, I have some pink flying elephants to talk with you about.

"A "god" who creates and then cuts himself off by virtue of not allowing positive knowledge of himself is rather evil and sadistic in nature."

~ People who say that their God is the only true God and that if you don't accept this God, you will suffer forever in a hellfire is quite evil and rather sadistic in nature.

"Not to mention if he also created us with hopes, aspirations, dreams, the desire for life, only to snuff it out into oblivion ... a demon maybe, an all wise and benevolent God no."

~ A demon would make one believe that they possess an immortal soul, which cannot die, therefore is equivalent to a Creator.

"If God is like this, then we are universe of play-things, dispensable and unimportant ... my heart says "No way"."

~ You may consider yourself to be dispensable or unimportant if a Creator does not exist, but please don't speak for me when you say "we."

My life is productive, fun, interesting, etc...and important to me and to my family.  


"We all have a sufficient knowledge of God to lead us to the truth."

~ Why can't people make "I" statements and speak for themselves (rhetorical)? So says you.

"This is where agnosticism fails."

~ No, this is where it succeeds. It never attempts to pigeon-hole a Creator, if One exists.

"It is a self-deception to say that God is unknowable, for "In him we live, and move and have our being"."

~ I am sure that I am not deceiving myself.

"We couldn't even think without his virtue."

~ I beg to differ. We couldn't even think without oxygen.

[This message has been edited by Opeth (11-12-2002 12:30 PM).]

Red
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70 posted 11-12-2002 01:21 PM       View Profile for Red   Email Red   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Red

You make a compelling arguement Stephanos, as does Opeth!!!!!
When Essorant said :"All I know is no matter what I feel or think, and no matter what is the actual truth about these smokey subjects, our world needs health and peace."

I think she hit on the one thing that I tend to believe in constantly; a greater good.  Be it God, Buddha, Coyote or who/whatever.. I think there has to be something good that's beyond us.
Stephanos
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71 posted 11-12-2002 01:40 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Opeth,

you wrote, "My revelations came to me through my studies and through common sense, rationality, and logic."


There are those who believe that a belief in God is "common" sense also.  That is exactly my claim that God has placed within you and I a certain general knowledge of himself.  In denying this, I believe, you are contradicting your God given common sense.  Why? Because God has adequately shown himself in his creation, even in the very fact that you are created in his image.  Your very face in the mirror is a witness against your assertion that there is no God, or that he is unknowable.  


As to "rationality" and "logic", I have heard men of rational minds and with logical force declare why a belief in God is true.  You set your ideas of rationality and logic over and against them.  So I must judge between the two, as everyone else must.


But I would ask you, in your own world view of naturalism/ materialism, what is the basis for laws of logic, or rationality?  Would you argue that these are material or immaterial in nature?  If they are material, then there is no use saying that rationality really means anything.  It would be merely part of the mechanistic motion  of the universe, the same as "irrational" thoughts would.  In fact, in such a universe we would not be able to choose between them.  According to naturalism, every thought, every occurence is just a resultant phenomenon in a great chain of events.  My thoughts, and your thoughts just ARE, in a naturalistic universe.  Correct, incorrect, right, wrong, logical and illogical are meaningless terms if naturalism is thoroughly believed.  Naturalism is believed, but never fully practiced.  That's why our lives can be useful and have meaning, despite our false presuppositions.  How can you set logic and rationality as the judge of these blindly led events, if they are merely additional events along the chain?


Are the laws of logic absolute or conventional in nature?  If they are conventional, then the power of argument is lost.  Because my conventions may not be the same as yours, and there is no standard to judge between the two.  The universe began with no rational mind right?  How did we get "rational" thoughts?  How can molecular configurations be rational or irrational?  Another contradiction of naturalism is that it cannot account for logic or rationality without calling them conventional... and something conventional is not absolutely true.  It is a preference, as one might prefer coffee over tea.  The theistic world view is the only one that cogently allows for debate to have any real purpose.  Why are you working so hard to change the configuration of atomic particles from one pattern to another?  Is there a standard that says one is preferred, other than your druthers?


Atheism cannot account for the laws of logic in a convincing way, yet uses them to defend it's presuppositions.  Sawing the limb you're standing on works for a while, but only for a while.  


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-12-2002 01:53 PM).]

Opeth
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72 posted 11-12-2002 02:21 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Stephan,

"There are those who believe that a belief in God is "common" sense also."

~ There is more to it than just common sense.

"That is exactly my claim that God has placed within you and I a certain general knowledge of himself.  In denying this, I believe, you are contradicting your God given common sense."

~ This statement is chock-full of subjective assumptions.

"Why? Because God has adequately shown himself in his creation, even in the very fact that you are created in his image."

~ Since when is the creation of a universe a known fact? And if the universe was created, since when is it a known fact that we are created in Her image?

"Your very face in the mirror is a witness against your assertion that there is no God, or that he is unknowable."

~ It is a worldy ethnocentricity to believe the above statement. Maybe the whales were created in the creator's image.

"As to "rationality" and "logic", I have heard men of rational minds and with logical force..."

~ I believe the "force" part. Christianity has been forced on hundreds of thousands of people.

"...declare why a belief in God is true."
~ Yes, through their subjective minds, they came to that logical conclusion.

"You set your ideas of rationality and logic over and against them.  So I must judge between the two, as everyone else must."

~ Of course. Let everyone decide for themselves how they want to live their lives. I am all for that. Now, if only those church people would quit coming to my door and trying to save me from myself, I would be okay. I mean, I don't go around knocking on their doors telling them not to believe.

"But I would ask you, in your own world view of naturalism/ materialism, what is the basis for laws of logic, or rationality?"

~ Logic is a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration. After reviewing the history, assumptions, known facts, etc. with regards to man-made religions, esp Christianity, I came to my own conclusions. Of course, this was accomplishded without any fear of becoming a pirah, or without any presumptious beliefs, nor without any subjectiveness on my part whatsoever. Yes, it can be done!  

Do you actually think that a religious giant like Billy Graham would change his beliefs if a person of an unknown status or a layman in stature would show him a truth...a truth that would "rock his world" by proving that what the Reverend believed in was wrong?

"Are they absolute or conventional in nature?  If they are conventional, then the power of argument is lost.  Because my conventions may not be the same as yours, and there is no standard to judge between the two.  The universe began with no rational mind right?  How did we get "rational" thoughts?  How can molecular configurations be rational or irrational?  Another contradiction of naturalism is that it cannot account for logic or rationality without calling them conventional... and something conventional is not absolutely true.  It is a preference, as one might prefer coffee over tea.  The theistic world view is the only one that cogently allows for debate to have any real purpose.  Why are you working so hard to change the configuration of atomic particles from one pattern to another?  Is there a standard that says one is preferred, other than your druthers?"

~ This last part of your reply sounds like something that is taught to Christians at a Christian University or an other Christian school, in order to argue their point against another's beliefs. It blends so many issues with smoke and mirror through half-truths, logic twisting, etc.

I am not trying to convince you to change your beliefs. You jumped in on this after I replied to Hush. If you think you are going to change my mind, forget about it. I have been where you are now.

I don't believe in your Christian God.

I don't believe that people will suffer in a hellfire or play harps at the feet of Jesus.

I find no evidence in an existence outside of the body and there isn't any either.

Man created God in the image of the majority of those men doing the creation, which is why there are many man-made versions of God because there are many majorities throughout time.

There may be a Creator, and if there is, She does not need you or anyone else to praise Her name. She is comfortable and secure in Her power and authority.

And She certainly would not cast anyone in hellfire for eternity because they didn't believe in a particular idealogy.

I believe in myself, now that is logical.

[This message has been edited by Opeth (11-12-2002 02:40 PM).]

Stephanos
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73 posted 11-12-2002 02:47 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Opeth,

you wrote, "This last part of your reply sounds like something that is taught to Christians at a Christian University or an other Christian school, in order to argue their point against another's beliefs."


I have never been to a "Christian University".  But even if I had, or if I plucked my reasoning straight from a book taught at a university, the question remains, why should I disbelieve it?  The opinion of what it "sounds" like has no bearing on if it is true or not, or logical or not.  If it is illogical, then show it to be.  I don't reject instructions on how to fix a car just because it was taught in automotive school ... I reject it or recieve it on the basis of how true it proves to be in relation to the science of cars.  In the same way, if Ralph the "oak-tree mechanic" offers advice, I don't reject or recieve it on the basis that he doesn't speak in the same terminology as the schooled technician.  I've seen some unschooled guys do some pretty amazing things with car repair!  The point I'm trying to make is that what is said, is what needs to be examined.


I was just challenging your claim to logical arrival at atheism.  I was attempting to refute from that standpoint... logic.  If you want to leave it at "I just believe this way", that's fine.  I don't want to debate when you don't want to.  I respect you as a person.  And really I don't think I am able to change anyone's mind at all.  Believing Christianity to be the truth, I also believe  that God must enlighten to that conclusion.  

I enjoy the interchange.

Stephen.  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-12-2002 02:49 PM).]

Opeth
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74 posted 11-12-2002 03:03 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

"I have never been to a "Christian University".  But even if I had, or if I plucked my reasoning straight from a book taught at a university, the question remains, why should I disbelieve it?"

~ The relation to a Christian University and the portion of your reply was in regards to the mixing of various issues and the use of predicated false assumptions. For me to  untangle that specific portion, would take much more time than I would want to give it, and it would also be fruitless because I won't change your mind, nor do I want to, so it becomes pointless to do so.
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