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Stephanos
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100 posted 11-14-2002 12:42 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Opeth,

What you quoted from your friend, though said in crude and tasteless fashion, is 'the problem of evil' from another angle.  Here it is in a nutshell: If God wants people to submit to and worship him, then why did he create mankind with the ability to rebell?  

I have thought about this, as have many.  There are answers to this question.  Whether we accept it or not is up to us.

In oversimplified terms, here are some answers that can be gathered....

1) if God created a race of men who were "forced" to serve him without any will of their own, then where is the possibility  of genuine "Love"?  God's purpose was to have creatures who freely love him.  Where there is no choice, there is no love.  Automata was not what God was after.  A planet of robots did not make his heart leap ... he had another plan.

2) The glory that he planned to bestow upon those redeemed from sin, is greater than an unfallen glory.  The darker the night, the more brightly the star of redemption shines.  And God deemed this glory (for us) worth all the darkness and turmoil that sin would cause.  A newborn baby held in a mother's arms  makes her former labor pains insignificant, and to a large degree forgotten.

3) God has a purpose in revealing his wrath, some of which may be known to us.  Some of which perhaps not yet.  Scripture tells us, for example, that God raised up Pharaoh for the purpose of demonstrating his justice and holiness and wrath against sin.  (Romans chapter 9, v 14-22).  Like it or not, it is his prerogative to punish sin and unrighteousness.  But he also makes a way out for those who will recieve it.  One thing for sure, God's wrath, and sin, demonstrates the futility of rebellion.  I know this is speculation, but in light of eternity, how many rebellions may be averted (by future creations) by the virtue of remembering our fall?

4) God wanted to demonstrate his ability to take even the wickedness of rebellion in the angelic realm (Satan) and in humanity, and work all things for ultimate good... his power to transform the works of evil into a glorious end.


Stephen.

  

    
Not A Poet
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101 posted 11-14-2002 01:17 PM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

OMG, Jim voted for a democrat? I don't think I would have told that one

BTW Opeth, I am listening too. And I would also like to hear your proof or evidence. So far all you have given is your opinion and attempted to couch it as irrefutable fact. I don't think that will work here.



Pete

Never express yourself more clearly than you can think - Niels Bohr

[This message has been edited by Not A Poet (11-14-2002 01:19 PM).]

Opeth
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102 posted 11-14-2002 01:26 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Stephan,

"What you quoted from your friend, though said in crude and tasteless fashion..."

The sword is doubled-edged. You may find that reply crude, but to an agnostic and non-christian, such as myself, a reply asserting that Jesus died for meis rather crude to me, touche.

The issue of the sidebar was "Why would a christian god need to be praised by those whom he created?" The provided quote dealt with that issue, and that issue alone.

"Here it is in a nutshell: If God wants people to submit to and worship him, then why did he create mankind with the ability to rebell?"

~ Excellent question. Blame it on Satan and our "free-will." But God created Satan, and gave us free-will, and knew that both would be used against us. Yes, he knew damn well that Lucifer would rebel. God also knew that mankind would rebel, for sure.

Yet, sin and everything bad in the world is mankind's fault, of course manipulated by good ol' Beezlebub himself.

So, god needed to create Satan to test our free-will in order for us to make a choice? Ridiculous. God could of created us with a free-will and we still would not necessarily accept him as our saviour, even without Satan. A free-will doesn't need evil.

And not only that, god expects thinking and intelligent human beings to decide on ONE particular faith? Even though this faith called christianity is full of holes, pagan philosophy, biblical contradictions, soaked with the blood of many human lives, etc?

Example, I read the Bible. To me, it is a false document. That is my understanding of it. I didn't want to understand it that way. It is how it just came to be. In my mind Jesus did not die for me and is not god.

How did I come to this conclusion, through Satan? If so, I didn't ask Satan for his dissuasion. So now, I am to be blamed and suffer forever in a hellfire because I didn't believe in the bible and the hypocritical preachers who preach it?

LOL!

Or, maybe I was predestined to suffer in hellfire. If that is the case, why would god even create me ~ A sadistic bastard at that.

To believe this, defies logic, entirely.

Opeth
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103 posted 11-14-2002 01:29 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

With all due respect, Not A Poet, neither has the christian side provided any fact at all. Which then predicates the christian belief to be factual until disproven. This is backwards reasoning. The burden of proof is on christianity.

The bible is not a factual document. So, with regards to the counting of facts, we are even.

And even if I provided this forum with facts, they would not be considered facts, because minds are already made-up.

"So far all you have given is your opinion and attempted to couch it as irrefutable fact."

Your bias works against you already. Not once, have I attempted to couch opinion as fact. Shame, shame.

[This message has been edited by Opeth (11-14-2002 01:44 PM).]

Stephanos
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104 posted 11-14-2002 01:51 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 "And not only that, god expects thinking and intelligent human beings to decide on ONE particular faith? Even though this faith called christianity is full of holes, pagan philosophy, biblical contradictions, soaked with the blood of many human lives, etc?"


Thinking and intelligence would rather dictate that only one of many mutually exclusive claims can be right.  The law of non-contradiction applies.  

The gospel message is to believe on the person of Christ for salvation ... not on what man has done with religion.  It is Christ himself and his Spirit whom you (and we all) are required to recieve.  Don't fall for the smokescreen that there are too many confusing "faiths"... there is one Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen.  

I know it's not easy grappling with religion, but the truth is still available, in the person of Jesus.  Why should it be "crude" to suggest that Jesus died to save you?  This is an act that would be comparable to a Father or mother dying for their son ... an act of unbelievable honor on you.  There is no greater love than this.  I only ask that you reconsider.  Let go of all your offences about religion.  Pray and ask for Christ himself to help you.  If you reject him, you reject life, and he doesn't want that to happen to you.  He still loves you, as he does us all.


I mean no offense, and am only saying what I know to be true.  But if this gets to be argumentative we can cool it for a while.  My purpose is not to argue.  


respectfully,

Stephen.


Opeth
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105 posted 11-14-2002 02:06 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

"The gospel message is to believe on the person of Christ for salvation..."

~ (Sidenote: I read that the true Gospel was that the Kingdom of God is at hand, Christ said this himself when asked what is the good news.) I don't believe it. So, I am doomed, even though in my mind, I have found this assertion to be false? Answer that, please do.

"It is Christ himself and his Spirit whom you (and we all) are required to recieve."

~ I don't believe that and never will, again. What do you suggest should be done? I am doomed for believing without a doubt that your statement provided above is false?

"Don't fall for the smokescreen that there are too many confusing "faiths"... there is one Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen."

~ Even your own bible disagrees with you, Stephan. In fact, I am surprised that you don't know this fact. The bible clearly states that in our times, there will be more than one Jesus being preached. How do you know you are worshipping the correct one?  

"I know it's not easy grappling with religion, but the truth is still available, in the person of Jesus."

~ I had to lol at this statement. Stephan, I am not grappling over religion. I used to, but not anymore. Someone who is grappling is not sure of where they are in their mind (spiritually for some), but I am without a doubt confident in my beliefs. After all, in my mid-twenties, I went on my truth-finding mission and crossed the finish line.

"Why should it be "crude" to suggest that Jesus died to save you?"

~ For the same reason you found the given quote to be crude. You know, there are two sides to the spectrum.

"This is an act that would be comparable to a Father or mother dying for their son ... an act of unbelievable honor on you."

~ Absurd! To you this may be comparable, to me is it ridiculous.

"I only ask that you reconsider.  Let go of all your offences about religion.  Pray and ask for Christ himself to help you."

~ Okay, I now ask you to reconsider. Let go of your offences about the fact that their is no god to worship, and if there were one, she would not need your praises. No one can help you but yourself.

"If you reject him, you reject life, and he doesn't want that to happen to you."  

~ No. I reject nothing but a manmade god who never existed as a god, but only as a man. By doing so, I embrace life to its fullest, for I don't care about an afterlife...this is it.


I mean no offense, and am only saying what I know to be true.  But if this gets to be argumentative we can cool it for a while.  My purpose is not to argue.  

Stephanos
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106 posted 11-14-2002 03:05 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

" Even your own bible disagrees with you, Stephan. In fact, I am surprised that you don't know this fact. The bible clearly states that in our times, there will be more than one Jesus being preached. How do you know you are worshipping the correct one?"

Do you think the writers of the bible meant that there are really more than one "Jesus", or rather that there will be many imposters?

I am not denying that there is more than one "Jesus" being preached.  I am asserting as does the Bible, that there is only one Christ... Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen.    

It is enough for you to say that you disbelieve the Bible.  But you cannot accurately say that what I am saying is  contrary to what the Bible says.  How can you come against the Bible's assertion that "There is one name given among men whereby we must be saved", by using the Bible's assertion that there will be counterfeits?  These two concepts are not incompatible at all.  In fact if Christ is, as the bible says, a "pearl of great price", then it is no wonder that counterfeits abound.


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-14-2002 11:19 PM).]

Not A Poet
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107 posted 11-14-2002 03:18 PM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

quote:
With all due respect, Not A Poet, neither has the christian side provided any fact at all. Which then predicates the christian belief to be factual until disproven. This is backwards reasoning. The burden of proof is on christianity.

The bible is not a factual document. So, with regards to the counting of facts, we are even.


I cannot prove that God exists any more than you can prove that he does not. There is enough historical and archealogical evidence to convince me of the veracity of the bible. So that is my opinion, just as yours is an opinion. Opinions are not necessarily factual.

quote:
Your bias works against you already. Not once, have I attempted to couch opinion as fact. Shame, shame.


You haven't? What is this then?

quote:
I mean no offense, and am only saying what I know to be true.


Don't you mean you think it to be true? That would be more in the form of an opinion instead of stating it as fact. I think this is the style of statement Jim referred to earlier. These don't make convincing arguments any more than they make facts.
Stephanos
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108 posted 11-14-2002 03:31 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Opeth,

sorry if I picked up on another issue in that quote.

your question, "Why would a christian god need to be praised by those whom he created?"


I'm not sure I'm understanding exactly what you are trying to say here.  Could you rephrase it?


I will comment as to what I think you may be saying...  The biblical answer is that God who created all things will be praised by all he created, by virtue of his own goodness and power and demonstration.  It's not a need, as you put it, as if God were lacking.  In the same way that fire causes light and heat, so God by his own virtue is praised.   The fact that men for a season are allowed to exist in rebellion, does not suggest to me that God is miffed or is having a self-esteem problem.  It rather suggests to me that humanity has a sin problem ... a blindness that refuses to see the ultimately undeniable praise and virtue and goodness of God.  If God was insecure like we are so often, I think he would not have borne with this situation as long as he has.  The bible talks about the patience and longsuffering of God because he doesn't want anyone to perish.    This situation with humankind is a disease that causes them to imagine that they are autonomous, and that they are the judge rather than God.  God is really not in the dock, but man is.  It's not that God needs man's praise as a man might need water to live.  God's nature is such that he will be praised by all... freely... of their will and not his arbitrary decree.  How could a God who created the galaxies all the way down to the atom and beyond not be praised?  God's need is not that man should praise him.  Rather man's need is to praise God.  What a gift that God is willing to share with us this priviledge.

Stephen.  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-14-2002 03:36 PM).]

hush
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109 posted 11-14-2002 04:27 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Opeth- go listen to the song 'Gloria' by Patti Smith if you haven't already. You can access the lyrics here: http://www.oceanstar.com/patti/lyrics/gloria.htm

Your offense at the idea of Jesus dying for your sins immediately reminded me of this song.

It also reminds me of a post someone (I forget who) made a while ago regarding women who can't act like 'ladies'- one example was that when he tried to pull out women's chairs, some copped an "I don't ne a MAN to pull out my chair for me!!!" attitude.

They could just have easily said "Oh, I can get it. Thanks anyway."

I am not ready to accept that Jesus died for my sins, but I am not offended by it, either. It's certainly not meant as an offense, and I think it's downright disrespectful to spit in the face of a concept that so many hold such value to. You can argue it respectfully, you can say "No, thanks," but turning this offer (perceived or real) into an insult aimed at you is terribly out of context, and it turns Christianity and Christians into the enemy. This is hardly objective.

It sounds to me like you have quite the case of literalism. Like I said, I'm not exactly ready to accept Christian faith as my salvation- but railing against it and claiming it has no value whatsoever is a very subjective point of view, if you ask me.

I've never heard you argue so ardently against any other religion. How do you feel about other religions?

In any case- Noticing that there are contradictions and that Christian holidays are based on pagan holidays and that some biblical practices are out-of-date is one thing. Applying them to contemporary life is quite another. You have to go beyond the literal meaning of the stories and find meaning in our everyday lives.

I have never been a Christian. I used to share a similarly negative outlook at the religion.

I've found that tolerance is much more conducive to learning about it than intolerance is.

Even if I don't ever intend to become a Christian, walking around with a big "Christianity is a LIE" banner isn't going to benefit myself or anyone around me. It's only going to close me off from relating to the 80-some % of Americans who are Christian. That, I think, is silly.

Essorant
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110 posted 11-14-2002 07:43 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I don't understand why some people point ridicule or call false some of the content of religions for the imagination that shows through to fill in the difficulties of answering lifes profound questions of creation and condition--we didn't and still don't, have the superior facts for so many things and we might never, therefore what could and can we do but Imagine?  It is not detestable to me even if the biggest bulk of these things were borne of the Human mind to fill in blank spaces--God, Heaven, Hell, etc.  that some people still earnestly believe in hope for or fear.  It shows that these things are what we make of them in ourselves, that we are as Gods of our own religions. If we treat them as non-existant, than they will be as non-existant--and we will have nothing of them.  But if we treat them existant, than they will do something for us--something that will fulfill, I believe.  We imagined them and it was believing in what we imagined that created inner goverment and a higher state from which to feel more certain.  But now mid the deterioration of this government I think it is very much a more uncertain state with people being more disposed to not to believe than believe.  It is as if everything is supposed to be physical and material, and scientifically available.  But I don't believe this is  the way religion should ever be--relgion must imagine, it is not religion with without imagination--imagination sees more potential to everything, that is because there is always more potential than just what is here and now. The Universe is the potential--it is hard to say that it can not accomodate all of this and more.  I'm sorry for blabbing, but I just don't see that imagination in these things is doing anything wrong.
Stephanos
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111 posted 11-14-2002 11:07 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant,

You said, "It is not detestable to me even if the biggest bulk of these things were borne of the Human mind to fill in blank spaces--God, Heaven, Hell, etc.††that some people still earnestly believe in hope for or fear.††It shows that these things are what we make of them in ourselves, that we are as Gods of our own religions"


You are a thoughtful person and I appreciate you defending the need to respect others, no matter where one stands on these issues.  However, I must differ with you on a point.  Respecting someone's person and someone's doctrine are two different things.  It's the difference between respecting a test-taker and respecting wrong answers on a test.  I for one believe that these questions of religious belief do have answers.  

If Christianity were some kind of legendary tale to make us feel better somehow, and yet wasn't objectively true, then I would refute it.  For the claims of Jesus are pretty sickening if they are not really the truth.  We don't doubt the authenticity of Homer's "Illiad" with some 640 surviving manuscripts and  the first completely preserved texts  dating from the 13th century.  Yet the New Testament has some 24,000 complete and partial manuscripts, which date from the 2nd century.  Being authentic documents, and accurate renderings of the teachings of Jesus and the apostles ... and no doubt written with intent of others taking it as the truth, makes these claims more to be despised if they are not true.  I would wholeheartedly agree with Opeth, if I deemed Christianity to be false, that Jesus was an egomaniac.  I deem C.S. Lewis as being right when he says that Jesus Christ is either Liar, Lunatic, or Lord.  He is either someone to be taken for who he claimed to be, or despised.  He didn't leave a whole lot of room to take a middle stance and didn't intend to.


"For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty" -- 2Peter 1:16


I see a crossover from tolerance (which I agree in) into a relativistic view of truth (which I don't agree in).  It says "what is true for you may not be true for me, and what is true for me may not be true for you."  This is impossible just like the square circle!     This absoluteness does not involve every detail in life, as there is a lot of flexability and freedom in the nature of things.  But what I am talking about is mutually exclusive claims, historical, philosophical, scientific, etc... involving two opposing statements that cannot be both true.  This stark insistence of logic extends into religious questions as well.  As I stated earlier,  there either is a Heaven and Hell or there is no Heaven and Hell.  Christ either bodily rose from the dead, or he did not.  Either God exists or he does not.  

I would encourage you to look for yourself to see if Biblical Christianity is true.  I'll be glad to help you if want to know where to start.  But know this... it cannot be true and not true.  Opeth is more right than you think (though he's a little rough at times) if Christ was a liar and a deciever.  He wasn't a liar and a deciever, I still assert.  Opeth is wrong in his conclusions.  But I respect his feelings more than patronizing ones.  Don't get me wrong.  I agree with your plea for respect and tolerance.  You are always chivalrous in your responses and a kind person.  I appreciate that because that quality in itself is lacking more and more among people .... especially in debate.  But I guess I draw a line which you do not yet draw.  I will respect people, but not all beliefs, in the same sense that I will not respect wrong math when it comes to my bank account.


Stephen.    

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-14-2002 11:13 PM).]

Ron
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112 posted 11-15-2002 12:20 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Stephen, there's a big difference between math and religion. When your checks start bouncing, you know the math is wrong. At what point do you know when another person's religious choices are wrong?

I believe that when it comes to God, knowing what is right doesn't necessarily reveal what is wrong. Certainly, God has revealed many Truths, important Truths, but is anyone foolish enough to think He has revealed ALL of his Truths? The human mind does not exist than can even remotely comprehend the mind of God. He is not bound by your law of non-contradiction, nor does he recognize the law of exclusion. I have absolutely no problem believing that God can simultaneously be many different things to many different people.

Maybe God has backup plans? Or what's good for the goose may not work for the gander? I don't know. If a man tells me that two plus two equals five, I have no problem telling him he's wrong. But when he makes religious choices, I'll let a higher authority decide right and wrong. Like Ghandi, I believe most religions worship the same God I do. I don't pretend to understand how that seeming contradiction can be true, but then, I still struggle with one God simultaneously being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If three, why not three hundred?

I don't know. I don't pretend to know. And the only absolute I can trust is that no one else does either.
Phaedrus
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113 posted 11-15-2002 02:52 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus


I discovered about three weeks ago that Iím an atheist, it came as a bit of a shock because Iíve always considered myself agnostic and viewed atheism as a radical and perhaps even adversarial counter balance to religion. In reality itís none of those things, atheism is simply a description of a person who disbelieves or has doubts that God exists.  Stephan has at least one thing right in this respect, there is no middle ground, you are either convinced that God in some form exists and are religious in that belief or you have doubts that such a being can exist and consequently fall squarely into the category of atheist. In my opinion the supposed agnostics who claim they neither believe nor disbelieve are attempting to straddle a fence that quite frankly does not exist you canít be a little bit religious in the same way you canít be a little bit pregnant, you either are or you are not.

Thanks for the chance to read and reply
hush
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114 posted 11-15-2002 03:51 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

To me, agnosticism doesn't mean "being a little bit religious"- it means not being sure either way. I don't believe in God, but I don't have the conviction to claim that God does not exist.

Not knowing about something doesn't mean having your cake and eating it too.
Phaedrus
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115 posted 11-15-2002 04:44 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus

Hush,

Advocacy of a middle ground isnít possible if the available categories of choice are belief or doubt, anyone that believes there is a God is religious by default, anyone that doubts that fact in any degree is an atheist, including those that say they are agnostic.

Religion is not available in degrees it centres and is founded on one thing Ė belief Ė if you doubt that God exists you do not believe and are not religious.

The agnostic as you describe him claims doubt that a God exists and yet doubts that he does not. Anyone familiar with paradoxes will at this point be calling foul at the fact that the agnostic is occupying the excluded middle by claiming that something can be both true and false at the same time. In any case I believe that the fact that he doubts describes him as an atheist despite his lack of conviction.

An atheist is someone who doubts.

Adherents of religions believe.

An Agnostic doubts that God exists and yet doubts that he does not.

The agnostic, looked at in this way, has more claims to doubt and less to belief than the atheist has, if an atheist is someone who doubts the agnostic fits the bill perfectly.


[This message has been edited by Phaedrus (11-15-2002 05:03 PM).]

Not A Poet
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116 posted 11-15-2002 05:18 PM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

Atheist - 'A-the-ist noun
: one who denies the existence of God

This does not indicate doubt but denial.

Agnostic - ag-nas-tik noun
: one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or nonexistence of God or a god.

This implies doubt rather than denial.

So Phaedrus, I think you can safely go back to being an agnostic.

[This message has been edited by Not A Poet (11-15-2002 05:20 PM).]

Phaedrus
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117 posted 11-15-2002 05:45 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus

Not A Poet

Iím afraid not.  


quote:
Atheist - 'A-the-ist noun
: one who denies the existence of God

This does not indicate doubt but denial.


Denial is non-acceptance or disagreement to an assertion, in this case the assertion is that God Exists, my disagreement or non-acceptance is based upon my doubt that such a being exists.

Which indicates that doubt is the instigator of my denial.


quote:
Agnostic - ag-nas-tik noun
: one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or nonexistence of God or a god.

This implies doubt rather than denial.


Doubt is, as I pointed out earlier, the exact opposite of belief, if I believe God exists I am religious, if I doubt that he exists I am an atheist. If Iím not committed to belief I cannot be religious however if I doubt Gods existence I must be an atheist albeit a possibly uncommitted one.

[This message has been edited by Phaedrus (11-15-2002 05:47 PM).]

Ron
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118 posted 11-15-2002 07:21 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

The exact opposite of belief is disbelief. The most faithful zealots in history, including most of the disciples, have felt doubt. And I rather suspect that's true of most atheists as well. Conviction is a continuum, and I question whether it's even possible for the human mind to reach one extreme or the other for longer than the space of a heartbeat. To think is to doubt.
jbouder
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119 posted 11-15-2002 08:30 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Ron:

While I agree with you that there is considerable difference between math and religion, I submit to you that it is possible to be reasonably certain that events surrounding religious origins were likely or unlikely.

For different reasons than your mathematic example, I can say with certainty that General George Washington defeated General Cornwalis at Yorktown.  I do not know this by applying the scientific method or utilizing a tested and accepted mathematic formula, but rather because I am able to gather historical data and, inductively, reach the conclusion, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the event took place.

So when someone tells me "Cornwalis crushed the Continental Army at Yorktown," I can say with equal certainty, "You are wrong."

I suppose the value of such an exercise as it relates to religious belief depends on the individual, but for those who value the role of evidence in making decisions about what they believe, the historical claims of Jesus' resurrection are far easier to proove than the enlightenment experience of Sidhartha or the visions of Muhammed.

Sure ... there is a difference between "knowing" and "believing," but as you pointed out about the possibility that square circles could exist somewhere or "somewhen," much of what we "know" in science is just as much belief as Stephan's belief that Jesus rose from the dead.

Regarding the atheist/agnostic issue, I think we are slipping back into semantics.  The definitions are intended to describe different stages of belief (or disbelief) with some precision.  Someone who says, "There is no god" is not saying the same thing as a person who says, "There may be a god, but I don't/can't know."

Hush:

I appreciate your transparency.  Were it not for the clear and convincing evidence I've discovered that led me to determine the likelihood of Jesus' historical resurrection is great, I probably would haved ended up being either an agnostic or an atheist.  I wish I could say it gets easier after you acknowledge God's existence ... if you think philosophy is a mess, try trudging through the theological mire.

Jim
Phaedrus
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120 posted 11-15-2002 08:41 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus


Slipping back into semantics for the moment.

ďI doubt that God exists and believe that agnostics also doubt that assertion.Ē

Can be changed to

ď I disbelieve that God exists and believe that agnostics also disbelieve that assertion.Ē

I agree that both the religious zealot and the atheist can have momentary doubts about their belief (or disbelief) moving slightly away from the extremities towards a central point between the religious and non-religious. My argument is that the central point is clearly defined by belief, on one side lie the religious and on the other side lie the non-religious, an agnostic by definition does not believe that God exists and so is clearly non-religious. If both atheists and agnostics believe that God does not exist they must surely belong to the same group which by definition must be labelled atheist.

There is a counter argument to this, that an agnostic believes that there could be a God while the atheist maintains that God could not exist, a difference that seemingly allows a separation or distinction between the two groups. I believe that no such separation is possible, that you either do or do not believe in God and that extreme views exist on both sides.

Thanks for the chance to read and reply
Phaedrus
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121 posted 11-15-2002 08:53 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus

Slipping out of semantics.

quote:
I suppose the value of such an exercise as it relates to religious belief depends on the individual, but for those who value the role of evidence in making decisions about what they believe, the historical claims of Jesus' resurrection are far easier to proove than the enlightenment experience of Sidhartha or the visions of Muhammed.


Jim, I donít believe either claim but Iím willing to listen to any independent and impartial evidence that proves that Jesus rose from the dead.
Essorant
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122 posted 11-15-2002 09:18 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephen

"Either God exists or he does not"

I agree with "God exists" but not "or he does not"  
If God has always been, he exists!  If God created himself, he exists! If the Universe created him, he exists, and, if we created him, he exists!  There is no mode I can find through which he can not exist...unless God is in your bedroom and then leaves or is somehow taken out, but that makes him only non-existant in your bedroom, and you only know he is non-existant there because he was there, but is somewhere else now--exists!
We are not referring to nothings when we say God, therefore whatsoever that body/thing is, no matter how we refer to it, its being a thing at all confirms existance!

[This message has been edited by Essorant (11-15-2002 09:24 PM).]

hush
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123 posted 11-15-2002 10:06 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Phaedrus-

'I disbelieve that God exists and believe that agnostics also disbelieve that assertion.'

I disagree with you here.

Speaking from an agnostic standpoint, I'd say I don't believe that assertion. However, to disbelieve it is sometheing else entirely.

Have you ever had the experience where a friend or acquaintance lies to you to see whether or not you'll believe something? You can usually tell when somebody's doing it. (personally, even as a joke, I absolutely abhor it when someone does this to me...) Anyway, you don't believe what this person is saying, but you have no proof that they are lying to you. You can call them on it, but if they deny the lie, you have nothing to back you up besides having a 'feeling' that they are not telling the truth. Considering that lack of proof, it's also possible that you are being overly suspicious, and that they are telling the truth. So, you don't call them on it.

Obviously, this isn't a perfect parallel, because religious people are not lying. They believe what they say to be the truth.

Not believing what a person or institution says/preaches is just (as you said) a matter of doubt. Disbelieving, on the other hand, is the confident assertion that a belief is not true.

'I believe that no such separation is possible, that you either do or do not believe in God and that extreme views exist on both sides.'

But the thing is, I can plainly tell you this is not true in my case. How could you prove otherwise? Is my belief/disbelief hidden somewhere in my unconscious? You really have no choice but to accept that I am telling you the truth: I do not believe or disbelieve in God, rather I leave the issue open for further investigation, discussion, and (even) revelation. I currently do not have sufficient information (yet) to decide whether or not I think God exists, just as I don't have sufficient information (yet) to write an extra-credit paper on the work of John Nash. If and when I collect enough information, or a believer is persuasive enough to convince me that their beliefs are true, or God personally speaks to me, I will decide whether or not I believe God exists.

You can't refute that. It runs against reality to say that I cannot think a certain way, when I am plainly stating that I do. The only argument I could see you using against this is that I'm deceiving myself, and that I truly am one way or the other and just don't know which I am yet.

What, by the way, caused you to come to this conclusion? Just curious.
Stephanos
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124 posted 11-15-2002 11:00 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron,

you wrote, "Certainly, God has revealed many Truths, important Truths, but is anyone foolish enough to think He has revealed ALL of his Truths?"


My claim that there are knowable right and wrong answers to spiritual questions does not mean that I claim to know all of God's truths.  Knowing "who" is the right way does not mean necessarily knowing every "what" and "why".  

Take the twelve disciples of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels for example.  How many times did they "not get it", missing the meaning of what Jesus said or did?  How many moments were there when Jesus seemed to say "How long must I bear with you?".  How many times would we have abandoned these witless followers if we had been the Christ?  And yet these witless followers are just like you and me Ron.  

But one thing I see the disciples/ apostles had, and that was a firm confession of Jesus as the only Savior of humanity.  They never claimed that they knew all that God had to say.  This infinite, eternal, unfathomable mind which is God's, they seemed to say, could never be figured out and boxed in.  In fact the Kingdom of Heaven was for those like Children who basically could admit "I don't know a whole lot."   But that always was a matter of "what", not "who".  They never balked at stating with certainty the revelation God had given them and all of mankind.  In fact they were the ones who preached that it was the only means of salvation.


"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved"  Acts 4:12


I am no great mind.  My claims misunderstood can be taken as arrogance.  But they are only a reiteration of what I believe is indispensable to cardinal Christian belief... the exclusivity of Jesus to eternal life.  Jesus himself taught it ... his apostles after him taught it.  I find it a less-than-Christian expression to honor Jesus with compliments of one kind or another, while not seeing the necessity of his uniqueness in the scheme of redemption.  I'm not saying people can't dwell here for a season, safely.  But it is the difference between a disciple saying at the probing of Jesus,  "You are the Christ, the son of the living God", and the masses saying "He is Elijah, or John the Baptist, or one of the prophets".  Men don't have to be smart or wise in their own conceits to profess what Peter did, they just have to be utterly convinced.  


Just wondering if you could, as speaking to someone who is only interested in Scriptural authority in matters of faith, point to something in scripture that might suggest that the exclusivity of Jesus Christ is not indispensable to saving faith... or that it should be believed for oneself but not proclaimed as truth to others.


Stephen.    
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