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Rhys Cordelle
11-07-2009, 05:32 PM
I'm interested in the core reasons why you believe a particular religion to be true, or why you don't believe any religion, if that's the case. If a personal experience of divine revelation is the reason then I'm not going to try to dispute that, but since it isn't a convincing argument to make in favor of your religion (particularly to strangers on an internet message board) please don't post such reasons here.

As this is a discussion that could easily turn nasty, I'd like to state right now that I'd prefer it if people don't debate eachothers reasons here.

In my own case, I am an atheist, and I came to that position for a lot of different reasons, but the key reason for me is that I haven't seen convincing evidence to support the existence of anything supernatural.

As a side note, if anyone DOES want to debate with me about their religious views, I'd be happy to have that debate through private messages, but please try not to do it in this thread. Too many threads get closed that way.

Thanks all.

semilargeintestine
11-08-2009, 09:04 AM
There are many reasons why I turned to Judaism. I'm not sure if I mentioned this elsewhere or not, but I am a convert to Judaism. My reasons for joining the covenant are a mix of personal revelations and just logical analysis. The personal revelation part is what pushed me to investigate further, but it's what I found that actually kept me on track. So out of respect for your request, the things I found after analyzing Judaism are what I will focus on. It basically boils down to four things: logic, historicity, the history of the Jewish people, and prophecy. Since the logic of it all is interconnected with the others, I'll discuss it as I go along.

In a former life, I was a scientist of sorts. The things I learned in the lab about the nature of scientific theory and the study of the universe have stuck with me, and I naturally apply them to everything I investigate. Judaism was--and still is--no different. Being this way, I thought it important to determine the historical accuracy of as much of the Tanakh as possible if it claimed to be a literal account of the history of the Jewish people.

The first thing I did was determine which parts of the Tanakh are claimed to be literal historical accounts, and which parts--if any--are entirely or partially metaphorical. One of the first things I found was that much of the Tanakh is either metaphorical or intentionally non-chronological, particularly the Torah--it simply is not meant to be a history book.

However, despite this, it is taken as--for the most part--a history of the Jewish people. While there is debate as to whether or not the story of Creation and the Garden is supposed to be taken literally (many opinions even back into Second Temple times say that it is a metaphor), it is not debated that Noach onward happened (important to note is that the ages are NOT necessarily literal, as well as other aspects of those stories--what is true is that they actually happened). And so, finding some corroboration of this was important to me.

What I found is that while there is not direct evidence of much of the Torah, there have been some interesting things found. For instance, they have statues of a ram caught in a thicket from about the time the Torah says Abraham lived--from the area he lived. For those unfamiliar with Abraham, one of the most important things he did was show complete faith in G-d by agreeing to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to G-d. When he was about to take the knife to his son's throat, an angel stopped him and revealed a ram caught in a thicket, which took the place of his son. Considering Judaism places the last words of the Torah being written in 1273 BCE, and Abraham lived nearly a thousand years before that, the statues indicate that the event may have actually occurred. In addition, they have found documents (tablets) with the names of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Terah (Abraham's father) written on them in those areas they were said to have lived. Again, not direct proof of their existence, but certainly suggestive.

To briefly cover the rest, since I don't want to take up more time, they have evidence of a large deluge (and while the Torah says the flood destroyed the entire world, the Midrash clarifies this by outlining exactly where the flood took place--which was not literally the entire planet), of the Tower of Babel (entries by a Greek historian who visited its location and wrote detailed descriptions), of Semitic slaves in Egypt (paintings, papyrus scrolls discussing slaves building the cities quoted and not meeting their quota of bricks--mentioned in the Torah), and evidence of an exodus by different groups of people from Egypt (and the Torah is clear that it was not only Jews who left Egypt in the Exodus).

As far as the Tanakh goes, one needs only to go to Israel to see the history of the Jewish people matches that of the Tanakh. The Temples, the Kings, the cities, etc. There is much archeological evidence to prove what is written is accurate. It's easy to find, so I won't bother mentioning it all here. However, what I will mention is the historical consistency of the Torah. Every time they find a Torah scroll, it is exactly the same as the Torah scrolls we have today--word for word, down to the script used to write each letter. From the copies of the Torah and Isaiah from over 2,000 years ago to Torah scrolls from the 7th century BCE, the consistency is perfect (in fact, you can read the Isaiah scroll from 2,000 years ago online and compare it to the scrolls/books from today--they match perfectly).

In fact, of all the Torah scrolls around the world for the last 3,000 years, there are only 9 letter differences. These 9 are all in Yemenite Torah scrolls because they were not part of the world checking system for hundreds of years. There are 304,805 letters in the Torah, and only 9 letter differences in one small community; and more importantly, the differences are spelling differences, such as the difference between color and colour--they are not word or meaning changes. Compare this with the Xtian bible, which is 1,700 years younger than the Torah, and the Xtians have not experienced anything remotely close to the 2,000 years of exile and persecution that the Jewish people have faced: in the New Testament, there are some 200,000 variants in the existing manuscripts, representing 400 variants that cause doubt about textual meaning, 50 of which are of great significance.

The fact that the same text existed not only 2,700 years ago, but more importantly, a mere 500 years after the last words of the original Torah written by Moses indicates that it is entirely plausible--completely ignoring the religious aspect--that the original Torah was written at that time--1313-1273 BCE. That leads to the next part. If the Torah was written at the time the Jewish people were in the desert, it is completely illogical to assume that someone could write a book describing events that never happened, and that everyone would somehow accept it as true. It simply makes no sense.

I've touched on the history of the Jewish people and its matching up with the Tanakh; however, I want to discuss it more in relation to prophecy. There are several specific prophecies in the Torah and Tanakh regarding the Jewish people. It would be a huge blow for the Truth of the Torah if they didn't come true. There are several, and I have discussed many of them before. Without delving too deeply into it once again, there are several prophecies regarding the Jewish people that have come true, including ones that either go against common sense or are extremely detailed. These include prophecies regarding the population size of the Jewish people, world-wide anti-Semitism, the exiles, the return to Israel, and others. Two of the most telling, however, are the ones about the Land of Israel itself and the Temples.

The prophecy regarding the Land of Israel links the prosperity of the land with the Jews. It says that when the Jews are in Israel, it will flourish; but, it will be a wasteland when the Jews are not in Israel. Before the Roman exile, Israel was very agricultural. Shortly after the exile began, the land turned to a rocky, barren desert despite the Arabs' attempts to cultivate it. In fact, when Mark Twain visited in the 1800s, he expressed wonder that anyone could live there. There were small groups of Jews living in the land who were able to make do, but the majority of Jews lived elsewhere due to the exile. When the Jews finally returned in droves to Israel not too long ago, agriculture picked up, and it is now one of the biggest--if not the biggest--industries there. There is no logical reason for this, except that it is a direct prophecy that come exactly true.

The prophecy regarding the Temples says that 70 years after the destruction of the First Temple, a Persian King named Cyrus would rebuild the Temple, and 484 years after that, a foreign invader would destroy the Second Temple and kill the high priest. So, what happened? Exactly that. 70 years after the destruction of the First Temple, King Cyrus from Persia gave the Jews permission to rebuilt the Temple. 484 years later, Titus came down from Rome and destroyed the Second Temple and killed the High Priest.

And so how does this all fit together? It's simply logic. There is historical evidence of Biblical events happening. From Joshua on, the history is entirely accurate. The Torah scrolls from the 7th century BCE are exactly the same as the ones we have today. Prophecies in the Torah have come true exactly. Put that together and what you get is a large amount of evidence that there were Jews in the desert at the time the Bible purports who believed in the words of the Torah being true. That many people could simply not be convinced that a series of events based on them happened if they didn't--it's just not possible.

As far as the more spiritual stuff goes, it also boils down to logic. Judaism is the only religion whose Revelation of G-d was not given to a single person, but rather 3 million people at once. It is also the only all-inclusive religion regarding both the afterlife and the World to Come. In Jewish faith, everyone goes to Heaven regardless of religion, and non-Jews who follow the 7 Noachide Laws are guaranteed a place in the World to Come. Focusing just on Heaven, why would G-d create a world and people for millions of years only to send them to Hell because they were born before Jebus? That makes no sense. In fact, the very concept of Hell makes no sense--which is why Judaism has no concept of it. If G-d created the universe and everything in the spiritual plane out of the kindness of His "heart", why would He create a place for us to burn and suffer forever because we sinned? If He is forgiving and knows we are prone to sin, it makes no sense that He would send us to Hell.

In addition, we have miracles. While the miracles of the Bible--specifically the Exodus--can be questioned because of how long ago they occurred, modern miracles are harder to explain away. The Jewish people experienced the most open miracles in history since the Exodus during the Six Day War in 1967. There is story after story about how two Jews were spared from dozens of Egyptian soldiers because the Egyptians became paralyzed when they went to fire on the Jews, or how the IAF was able to completely destroy the Egyptian and Jordanian air fields because warning messages were messed up or never delivered, or trucks filled with missiles and explosives were hit with mortars that simply didn't go off when they should have. The covenant between G-d and the Jewish people is that even in exile, He will ensure that we are never destroyed. Our enemies have been trying to destroy us for 2,000 years now, and have been trying to destroy the State of Israel for over 60 years now without success. As many a non-Jew (and Jew) has said, the fact that we're still around is proof that G-d exists.

Rhys Cordelle
11-08-2009, 02:41 PM
Thanks for that. In all honesty I've been fairly ignorant of Jewish beliefs as I live in New Zealand and it's not a religion I ever hear much about.

Could you tell me what the 7 laws you mention are? And what is the World to Come?

Rarri
11-08-2009, 03:35 PM
I'm interested in the core reasons why you believe a particular religion to be true, or why you don't believe any religion, if that's the case.

For me, i don't think there is a core reason as to why i don't believe in a deity or am part of a religion. My parents are Humanists, they brought up my brother and i to question what's around us. For both of us, the end result of that was coming to the conclusion that we don't believe in a God (or Gods) or an afterlife. If i were to push myself to find a 'core' reason to that decision, i can still only see it being my upbringing; that after umpteen years of (and on-going) questions, discussions, debates and life experiences, i simply don't believe. That's something i'm happy with though, and i've followed my parents with Humanism. I do find religion fascinating though, as does my brother and in addition i suppose to the 'core' reason for not believing, our upbringing didn't exclude religion (IE we were encouraged to learn and discuss rather than being simply told 'there is no God').

That's quite a useles answer i guess - apologies - but there you are, there isn't always a 'core' reason, or rather, one sole reason.

semilargeintestine
11-08-2009, 08:12 PM
Thanks for that. In all honesty I've been fairly ignorant of Jewish beliefs as I live in New Zealand and it's not a religion I ever hear much about.

Could you tell me what the 7 laws you mention are? And what is the World to Come?

The Seven Noachide Laws are the laws that all humans are enjoined to follow, since we all (at least metaphorically) descend from Noach, and he was given only seven commandments to follow. They are actually 7 general commandments that encompass 67 more specific ones. They are:



THEFT

against stealing
against committing robbery
against shifting a landmark
against cheating
against repudiating a claim of money owed
against overcharging
against coveting
against desiring
a laborer shall be allowed to eat of the fruits among which he works (under certain conditions)
against a laborer eating of such fruit (when certain conditions are not met)
against a laborer taking of such fruit home
against kidnapping
against the use of false weights and measures
against the possession of false weights and measures
that one shall be exact in the use of weights and measures
that the robber shall return (or pay for) the stolen object


JUSTICE

to appoint judges and officers in each and every community
to treat the litigants equally before the law
to inquire diligently into the testimony of a witness
against the wanton miscarriage of justice by the court
against the judge accepting a bribe or gift from a litigant
against the judge showing marks of honor to but one litigant
against the judge acting in fear of a litigant's threats
against the judge, out of compassion, favoring a poor litigant
against the judge discriminating against the litigant because he is a sinner
against the judge, out of softness, putting aside the penalty of a mauler or killer
against the judge discriminating against a stranger or an orphan
against the judge hearing one litigant in the absence of the other
against appointing a judge who lacks knowledge of the Law
against the court killing an innocent man
against incrimination by circumstantial evidence
against punishing for a crime committed under duress
that the court is to administer the death penalty by the sword
against anyone taking the law into his own hands to kill the perpetrator of a capital crime
to testify in court
against testifying falsely



HOMICIDE

against anyone murdering anyone


ILLICIT INTERCOURSE

against (a man) having union with his mother
against (a man) having union with his sister
against (a man) having union with the wife of his father
against (a man) having union with another man's wife
against (a man) copulating with a beast
against a woman copulating with a beast
against (a man) lying carnally with a male
against (a man) lying carnally with his father
against (a man) lying carnally with his father's brother
against engaging in erotic conduct that may lead to a prohibited union


LIMB OF A LIVING CREATURE

against eating a limb severed from a living animal, beast, or fowl
against eating the flesh of any animal which was torn by a wild beast ... which, in part, prohibits the eating of such flesh as was torn off an animal while it was still alive


IDOLATRY

against entertaining the thought that there exists a deity except the Lord
against making any graven image (and against having anyone else make one for us)
against making idols for use by others
against making any forbidden statues (even when they are for ornamental purposes)
against bowing to any idol (and not to sacrifice nor to pour libation nor to burn incense before any idol, even where it is not the customary manner of worship to the particular idol)
against worshipping idols in any of their customary manners of worship
against causing our children to pass (through the fire) in the worship of Molech.
against practicing Ov
against the practice of Yiddoni
against turning to idolatry (in word, in thought, in deed, or by any observance that may draw us to its worship)


BLASPHEMY

to acknowledge the presence of G-d
to fear G-d
to pray to Him
to sanctify G-d's name (in face of death, where appropriate)
against desecrating G-d's name (even in face of death, when appropriate)
to study the Torah
to honor the scholars, and to revere one's teacher
against blaspheming



So it is 7 commandments that just has more specific parts. For example, non-Jews are forbidden to commit theft, but theft is a general word that includes robbery, kidnapping, cheating someone in business, etc.

The World to Come can refer to two things: the afterlife and the messianic age. I was referring specifically to the messianic age. This is the period after the Third Temple has been built and the Moshiach has restored Torah law to Israel and become the next Jewish King. It is basically world peace. There are a few aspects to it that are miraculous, like the absence of sickness and death or hunger and war; however, life will pretty much be the same: Jews will be Jews, and the other nations of the world will be the same--there will just be peace between everyone.

But, to have a share in this, you have to follow the rules to the best of your ability. For a Jew, this means following the 613 commandments. For a non-Jew, this means following the 7 Noachide Laws. It is important to remember though that the options aren't World to Come or Eternal Damnation. Speaking in a strictly technical sense, since every soul goes to Heaven, a person who did not merit resurrection in the World to Come would simply stay dead and be in Heaven--not a bad consolation prize. However, I personally feel that part of the reason we are still waiting is G-d wants everyone to warrant a portion of the World to Come, so He is waiting until every soul does what it needs to do, regardless of how many reincarnations it takes.

Rhys Cordelle
11-09-2009, 01:20 AM
against (a man) lying carnally with a male

Darn. Still, I much prefer the idea of heaven as a consolation prize than hell.

Rarri, thanks for your response :)

2Wheels
11-09-2009, 03:09 AM
I don't hold any firm beliefs. I was raised as a Christian (in as much as I attended a non-secular school, in an enviromnent absent of information on other religions), but none of it ever stuck. I do tend to sway in favour of the "intelligent design" idea, as I find logic (and I am huge utiliser of logic) points in that direction, for me, if no-one else. I can't be atheist, as I don't believe we can definitely say that something doesn't exist simply because we do not have a means to measure/detect it etc. Did X-Rays come into existence once Roentgen and the Curie's did their experiments? No. They had always been there, having an effect on us, but it wasn't until then that we had concrete knowledge of their existence.

I think it's because although no-one has yet proven to me that a "higher power" exists, I don't believe there is enough evidence to concretely say that there isn't one. I'll remain on the fence I expect!

Rhys Cordelle
11-09-2009, 04:01 AM
I don't believe we can definitely say that something doesn't exist simply because we do not have a means to measure/detect it etc.

Most atheists, myself included, would agree with you.

Theism is about belief in a god, which is not the same as knowledge.

A-theism is simply rejecting that belief. It's not the statement "there is no god". People who make that statement are atheists because, clearly, they don't believe. But they are going beyond disbelief and making an assertion of their own.

If you're a christian and someone tries to convert you to another religion you're most likely going to tell them that you don't believe what they're telling you. The only difference between a religious person and an atheist is that atheists disbelieve all religious positions instead of all but one.

Shadow_Ferret
11-09-2009, 04:08 AM
I had no religious upbringing whatsoever. Because of that I wasn't taught to believe IN something so I don't believe in anything.


I can't be atheist, as I don't believe we can definitely say that something doesn't exist simply because we do not have a means to measure/detect it etc.

Actually, that's exactly why I'm an atheist, because you CAN'T prove God's existence, not because I can't disprove it.

mscelina
11-09-2009, 04:14 AM
After many years of self-examination and reflection, including trying not only numerous Christian denominations but religions outside of the established Judeo-Christian belief systems, I came to the conclusion that an individual's relationship with their deity is a private affair.

So let us say I believe in God, but not religions founded in His/Her name. My daughters were raised with the concept that there is no 'right' religious belief, that all are equally valid for the people who follow them, and that they should examine their own consciences as to where they were comfortable on the spiritual sphere. One is a church-attending Baptist, the other is a complete atheist and neither one ever learned to dismiss another's spirituality.

One of my rare successes as a parent. I'm very proud of both of them because they are both comfortable with the choices they made.

Rhys Cordelle
11-09-2009, 04:19 AM
That's awesome Celina :) I'm always stoked to hear of parents who empower their children to decide for themselves.

mscelina
11-09-2009, 04:30 AM
I had parents that tried to decide everything for me and I know what happened. I wanted my girls to learn how to think for themselves and that was a hell of a lot more important to me than the grades that were pounded into my head.

And I definitely didn't want them hurt by the charges of 'you're a sinner because you go to this church' or 'you're not saved and will go to hell if you don't do this' or, God forbid, the ideology that because they were women they were somehow less than the men around them because of something an old misogynist wrote in letters to his friends. I don't know the answers, so how could I give them to my kids?

Shadow_Ferret
11-09-2009, 04:38 AM
I had parents that tried to decide everything for me and I know what happened. I wanted my girls to learn how to think for themselves and that was a hell of a lot more important to me than the grades that were pounded into my head.


Strangely enough this is the sort of the same reason why I send my kids to a Lutheran School. I know what happened when my parents let me decide everything and didn't teach me to believe.

2Wheels
11-09-2009, 06:26 AM
So I should probably describe myself as a mostly-agnostic, semi-theist. Not that I use "semi" in the literal sense, as that part is really unquantifiable (varies depending on the mood I'm in ... :D )

semilargeintestine
11-09-2009, 07:55 PM
Darn. Still, I much prefer the idea of heaven as a consolation prize than hell.

Rarri, thanks for your response :)

Not everyone can follow every word of the commandments. Only four people in history have lived without sinning, yet everyone goes to Heaven. All G-d wants is a sincere effort. :)

There is a story of a rabbi who went way off the path and started sleeping with prostitutes and generally not being a nice fellow. One night, he was with a very expensive and famous prostitute who informed him that G-d would not be happy with what he's become. This rabbi was so taken about that even a prostitute knew this guy was way off the path that he up and left. He went out into a field and begged the hills, the sky, the stars, the sun to intercede on his behalf with G-d for forgiveness. They all remained silent, and he knew he had to do it himself. Tears flowing down his face, he fell to his knees and begged for forgiveness. It was such a powerful feeling that his heart couldn't take it, and he died. But right before he died, he felt at peace because he knew G-d had accepted his plea. All He wants is a moment of sincerity, even at the end of a life full of sin.

People make the mistake of thinking you have to be perfect. You don't have to be perfect, because no one is, and G-d doesn't expect you to be. If He did, the human race wouldn't have lasted very long, and there wouldn't be in place such a clear way to make up for sins.

StephanieFox
11-10-2009, 01:42 AM
If you're a christian and someone tries to convert you to another religion you're most likely going to tell them that you don't believe what they're telling you. The only difference between a religious person and an atheist is that atheists disbelieve all religious positions instead of all but one.

Ah, so you are a poly-atheist.

Rhys Cordelle
11-10-2009, 04:37 AM
Ah, so you are a poly-atheist.

Isn't that kind of redundant though? If I didn't apply my atheism to all theistic claims then it would be pointless to identify as an atheist. Instead, I would identify with the theistic claim that I do believe.

Capricornus
11-10-2009, 04:41 AM
Warning: This next post will be so controversial it's not even funny.
I'm an Atheist, may as well be upfront about it. I just figure that 1. my parents had the chance to baptize me years ago and didn't, so this is sorta their fault, and 2. wouldn't we have found Him by now? Or Heaven? Or Hell? Everything is somewhere.

semilargeintestine
11-10-2009, 04:47 AM
Warning: This next post will be so controversial it's not even funny.
I'm an Atheist, may as well be upfront about it. I just figure that 1. my parents had the chance to baptize me years ago and didn't, so this is sorta their fault, and 2. wouldn't we have found Him by now? Or Heaven? Or Hell? Everything is somewhere.

That requires the old view that Heaven is a physical place (which it isn't), and G-d is a physical entity (which He's not).

entropic island
11-10-2009, 05:02 AM
Even if heaven isn't a physical place, it's illogical and a mental delusion. There is no 'soul'. There's just a cluster of braincells. That die. But don't worry. When you die, you won't know, so you can't be sad or anything. Just dead.

Sorry if I offended, I'm an impatient and easily annoyed person. Sorry.

benbradley
11-10-2009, 05:24 AM
Keeping in mind, among other things, Isaac Asimov's statement on God that the burden of proof is on the positive (as it is in any claim), I am a strong atheist.

I've got much more to write about this, I've "been around the block" as it were, I've ranted on a few times about a particular "non-religious" group that had me convinced in the existence of God for a few years, but I really need to write it in a memoir. Or at least a really, really big blog post.

entropic island
11-10-2009, 05:59 AM
As to oppressing homosexuals/femals/other races/and anything else: Why deny rights because of a loosely translated, shady book that doesn't even directly state that they're to be opressed? Ridiculous.

Rhys Cordelle
11-10-2009, 06:15 AM
From the outside looking in it certainly sounds ridiculous, I'd agree. But I think it's important to keep in mind peoples intentions.

If I consider, for a moment, that I believed in a god, and believed in the concept of salvation and the threat of hell, then I would certainly be going to great lengths to prevent people from ending up in hell. I wouldn't want to sit by and let people destroy themselves.

That's why when someone preaches to me about why I shouldn't be a gay atheist (a.k.a. the "double whammy sinner") I'm not offended by it if I feel that they are concerned for me. If they're gleefully telling me that I'm immoral and destined for eternal damnation then I might not be so polite in my response

Salis
11-10-2009, 09:34 AM
I'm interested in the core reasons why you believe a particular religion to be true, or why you don't believe any religion, if that's the case. If a personal experience of divine revelation is the reason then I'm not going to try to dispute that, but since it isn't a convincing argument to make in favor of your religion (particularly to strangers on an internet message board) please don't post such reasons here.

As this is a discussion that could easily turn nasty, I'd like to state right now that I'd prefer it if people don't debate eachothers reasons here.

In my own case, I am an atheist, and I came to that position for a lot of different reasons, but the key reason for me is that I haven't seen convincing evidence to support the existence of anything supernatural.

As a side note, if anyone DOES want to debate with me about their religious views, I'd be happy to have that debate through private messages, but please try not to do it in this thread. Too many threads get closed that way.

Thanks all.

Somewhat similar to yourself... although I'm less exceptionalist, I think. I consider myself agnostic--I don't believe in God or Gods, but I'm willing to accept the possibility I'm wrong. I just don't find it very likely, in the same sense I don't find it very likely that fire is actually caused by pixies moving really fast. I mean, it could be, but there's absolutely no reason to believe so.

Besides, the more we learn about the Universe, the more likely it becomes that if there IS a God, they don't really care specifically about us, and humankind's supposedly extraordinary nature is a principle part of most faith. This is getting kind of annoyingly niggly, but if we broaden the idea of 'God' to mean 'any being that is beyond our comprehension', then I'm much more likely to find it likely that there's something like that out there... but calling that God is, I think, like proposing that ants worship us as Gods.

Ruv Draba
11-10-2009, 10:57 AM
I don't believe in deities because I can't trust what people tell me unless I can test their honesty and competence and methods.

I also don't like deities much, except as characters in stories. Most seem to me to be nastier than the nastiest people I've ever met. Even if they existed, I wouldn't want to worship them.

And I don't think that every person absolutely needs a deity anyway. Some people without deities seem capable of being every bit as inspired and decent and kind as people with them.

And despite the bad things people do, I have quite a bit of faith in people. People have done better for me than I could ever do for myself alone. I trust my food, medicine, transport, education, security to people. I feel gratitude and respect for my species. I know we're fallible and sometimes stupid and bad, but I like how we keep improving ourselves.

johnnysannie
11-10-2009, 03:43 PM
I am a practicing, devout (most of the time) Roman Catholic; how I came to be this as an adult is not a simple cradle Catholic tale.

I am, however, a cradle Catholic (meaning for those unfamiliar with the term that I was born into a Catholic family, raised as a Catholic).

But my story isn't that simple. I grew up with Jewish roots as well, plus relatives on my mother's side of the family who were Baptist among other non-Catholic Christian denominations.

So in addition to my Catholic faith, I received a little of many other faiths.

When I went off to college, I found I was curious and so I explored several other faiths. I attended both ecumenical and specific denomination services on campus and off. After college, I again attended other services - as well as my own Catholic ones - to see what fit.

I came very close to committing to Judaism; much about the religion appealed to me, drew me in, but my stumbling block - a big one - is that I do believe Jesus is/was the Messiah. So I could not go that route.

In the end, after a lot of personal comparison and religious experiences, I came to realize that the Catholic Church, while not 100 percent perfect, came closer to my own personal belief system than any other Christian denomination.

So I am a practicing Catholic by choice as well as by tradition and birth.

JimmyB27
11-10-2009, 04:38 PM
I don't need a reason not to believe. I would need a reason to believe, and I don't have one. So I don't.

semilargeintestine
11-10-2009, 09:26 PM
Even if heaven isn't a physical place, it's illogical and a mental delusion. There is no 'soul'. There's just a cluster of braincells. That die. But don't worry. When you die, you won't know, so you can't be sad or anything. Just dead.

Sorry if I offended, I'm an impatient and easily annoyed person. Sorry.

The logic there is infallible. Please. It is just as, if not more, illogical to claim that everything is random--that the existence of life despite the impossibly low odds and millions of things working against it just happened by chance, and nothing is guiding it. THAT is a delusion.

Your offensive rant aside, we are just brain cells that die. Our bodies decompose and go away. That has nothing to do with the presence of a soul. You seem to be attached to the idea that the soul has to be a physical part of your body. It's not.


As to oppressing homosexuals/femals/other races/and anything else: Why deny rights because of a loosely translated, shady book that doesn't even directly state that they're to be opressed? Ridiculous.

First, the Bible is hardly "shady." Second of all, it doesn't call for the oppression of anyone. It is a book telling the Jewish people how to live, and it explicitly requires tolerance of everyone. Anyone who uses a translation of the Bible to justify the oppression of people is an idiot. The only group you've listed that could possibly feel oppressed under Torah law would be homosexuals because homosexual unions aren't recognised by the Torah, and male homosexual sex is forbidden (and female, but to a much lower degree).

But, because of the procedures the Torah requires to actually prosecute anyone for things like homosexual sex (note: homosexuality itself is NOT forbidden), it was nearly impossible to enforce those rules. And now, we can't enforce any because we don't have the Sanhedrin.

So why is a predominantly Xtian "secular" state making laws that discriminate against gays using the Jewish Bible as a guide? No idea. But yet, you generalize a people based on your limited understanding of a book written in a language you can't read. THAT is ridiculous.

Ladyhawke_18
11-10-2009, 11:25 PM
If a personal experience of divine revelation is the reason then I'm not going to try to dispute that, but since it isn't a convincing argument to make in favor of your religion (particularly to strangers on an internet message board) please don't post such reasons here.


What if there was a God whose only method of leading people to believe he was real was through personal experiences of divine revelation?

If that were the case,

a. You'd have a hard time proving to others he was real until they themselves had similar spiritual encounters.

b. Prior to having had your own revelation experience, you'd just be choosing the believe or not to believe based on how you grew up, what your parents did or didn't teach you and whether you rebelled or accepted that, the opinions of those you respect, and your own finite intellect, which might not even be designed to fathom the immensity of a divine being.

It is interesting to note that even if you had chosen to believe in God prior to your own revelation, you would have been acting, going through the motions, and would probably come out changed once you did have an experience.

It is also difficult to have an intellectual conversation about why you do or do not believe and include ideas about faith.

I heard once that talking about love was like dancing about horticulture.

What if faith is difficult to express in rational terms? What if it is as key to belief in God as a personal encounter is? What if faith is the answer to many of the questions of why the believe believers? Is that a cop out?

DeleyanLee
11-10-2009, 11:42 PM
I'm interested in the core reasons why you believe a particular religion to be true, or why you don't believe any religion, if that's the case. If a personal experience of divine revelation is the reason then I'm not going to try to dispute that, but since it isn't a convincing argument to make in favor of your religion (particularly to strangers on an internet message board) please don't post such reasons here.

I was born to an atheist father and a Methodist mother. When I was baptized, my father insisted that all references to the Methodist Church be changed to Christian Religion or no child of his was being baptized, so there was two different baptism ceremonies that day. Afterward, so I'm told, I promptly vomited all over the pastor.

Should've been a clue, y'know? ;)

I was raised Methodist, joined the Lutheran (Wisconsin) Church as a teen and was excommunicated just after high school. I didn't really mind, since the religion and church wasn't doing much to improve my life and trusting Jesus and his dad to keep me from wanting to kill myself didn't work for squat. For most of my early 20's, I considered myself a "metaphysician" because I was into Newagey stuff and it sounded cool to tell people that. Now, I'm a Heathen, meaning I follow a Northern Pagan religion.

I choose to be a Heathen because, frankly, it doesn't require belief. The gods don't care if you believe in them or not. If it matters them, they'll give you an experience that will convince you that they do. This religion is based not on faith and belief, but on actions and responsibility. That's what speaks to me and works in my life.

entropic island
11-11-2009, 02:52 AM
From the outside looking in it certainly sounds ridiculous, I'd agree. But I think it's important to keep in mind peoples intentions.

If I consider, for a moment, that I believed in a god, and believed in the concept of salvation and the threat of hell, then I would certainly be going to great lengths to prevent people from ending up in hell. I wouldn't want to sit by and let people destroy themselves.

That's why when someone preaches to me about why I shouldn't be a gay atheist (a.k.a. the "double whammy sinner") I'm not offended by it if I feel that they are concerned for me. If they're gleefully telling me that I'm immoral and destined for eternal damnation then I might not be so polite in my response


Okay. So you think they're abusing and opressing minorities to SAVE them? If I wanted to save someone who was a minority, I'd go to a psychiatrist. People have choices. Atheism is not suicide.

Rhys Cordelle
11-11-2009, 06:42 AM
Okay. So you think they're abusing and opressing minorities to SAVE them?

I think people have all kinds of different motivations for their actions. My point is simply that I prefer to get a reading on their motivations before I judge their actions.

Lhun
11-11-2009, 08:18 AM
Statistically, people believe in what they believe because their parents taught them to.

Personally, i just don't see any reason to hold supernatural beliefs of any kind. Though i do like the european religions. To bad they're all pretty much extinct.

Though technically, one can't really state a reason for believe (or non-believe). Having a certain reason implies reasoning, implies making a concious choice. In which case it is not really a belief but more of a philosophical or religious position. Actual belief is not a matter of concious choice, you cannot, for example, choose to stop (or start) believing for five minutes. So stating reasons can only be rationalization.

JimmyB27
11-11-2009, 12:38 PM
I choose to be a Heathen because, frankly, it doesn't require belief. The gods don't care if you believe in them or not. If it matters them, they'll give you an experience that will convince you that they do. This religion is based not on faith and belief, but on actions and responsibility. That's what speaks to me and works in my life.
I'm intrigued. Why do you feel you need a religion for this?

DeleyanLee
11-11-2009, 07:28 PM
I'm intrigued. Why do you feel you need a religion for this?

Community.

JimmyB27
11-11-2009, 08:57 PM
Community.
I'm still intrigued...same question.

AMCrenshaw
11-12-2009, 01:03 AM
I don't believe in gods, but I have a clear sense (also depending on my mood) of astonishment toward That Which Exists. I call myself a nontheist. To me, the question of god or gods is irrelevant to the formation of meaning and understanding. Not to mention, the fact it's just about impossible to logically grapple the mere concept of a god turns me off to the whole idea of worshiping one or any. I am also too eclectic to believe one group of people.

Sometimes my non-theism translates to a certain kind of aesthetic appreciation of What's Here and Now, one that makes me and the world around me an object of mystical - rather than scientific - exploration. Sometimes an atheist (no gods), sometimes a pantheist (all is god)-- when I switch the words, not much changes for me. I'm still astonished to be here at all.



AMC

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 01:43 AM
I was raised by a pair of lapsed Catholics, but have no religious beliefs of my own. I don't believe in any gods. I don't think that life or existence has any inherent meaning or purpose. I think that if I want my own life to have any sort of meaning, then it's up to me to give my life meaning.

Ruv Draba
11-12-2009, 02:53 AM
I heard once that talking about love was like dancing about horticulture.Lots of societies have horticulture dances (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_VvQWxmgEs), many of them both traditional and sacred.

ColoradoGuy
11-12-2009, 03:06 AM
. . . I think that if I want my own life to have any sort of meaning, then it's up to me to give my life meaning.
I'm curious about how you go about doing that. It's a widely shared viewpoint.

Shadow_Ferret
11-12-2009, 03:09 AM
I was raised by a pair of lapsed Catholics, but have no religious beliefs of my own. I don't believe in any gods. I don't think that life or existence has any inherent meaning or purpose. I think that if I want my own life to have any sort of meaning, then it's up to me to give my life meaning.

Wow. Were we separated at birth?

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 03:09 AM
I'm curious about how you go about doing that. It's a widely shared viewpoint.

I ignore other people when they promise that adhering to their beliefs or serving their causes will give my life meaning. I had also decided pretty early on that I don't need my life to have a meaning. It's my life. It's the only one I'll get. That's enough for me.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 03:10 AM
Wow. Were we separated at birth?

Not likely. I rolled off an assembly line in Troma, New Jersey back in 1978. My model number is VH5150-666-69-13-OU812.

Shadow_Ferret
11-12-2009, 03:11 AM
Ah, separated by distance AND time.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 03:13 AM
Ah, separated by distance AND time.

And species. You're human. I'm not. I'm also a defective model, but my parents voided the warranty when they had me circumcised, so they were stuck with me. :)

Don Allen
11-12-2009, 03:39 AM
I was never force fed religion as a child, therefore I believe I was able to explore the concepts on my own with somewhat of an open mind.

I eventually came to the conclusion that God was real, but religion was not.

Though the messages of any particular religion may be of the purist origin, it is the messenger that I ultimately began to despise.

I began to feel that people used religion as an excuse to look down upon others, condemn those that don't follow the pack and believe as they do, and most importantly, for me, twist their beliefs to justify their actions or bad behavior.

The hypocrisy turned me away, but not away from God, away from men professing to be closer to God than me. Because their not, no one is closer to God than another, IMO. But I don't view God as a man in the sky who grants wishes, my view of God is cosmic, mysterious, and to a certain degree a part of all us.

ofriv
11-12-2009, 03:42 AM
Wouldn't it be nice if this question was so simple to answer! lol

I mean really, lets say this question were like: Am I alive (cogito er sum) OK I guess I am!

But......It's not!

Consider this: As long as we have recorded history, we have debated whether or not we (humanity) have a spiritual aspect. Now if the answer were so easily found we would have put this to bed centuries, no eons ago...yes. We experience order, necessity, sucession, we witness creation (we do it all the time...lol), begining and endings, hierarchy etc etc. But alas have no (zippo) substantial evidence to validate a creator.....only circumstantial (how odd)

To be fair, an honest person would have to admit that there are things they just don't know, and there are things that they DO know. I think most everyone fits into this category. Because of that we can say that knowldge falls into two categories THE KNOWN, and the UNKNOWN.

I HEREBY CHALLENGE ANYONE.......ANYONE...(except God of course) to prove that the existence of God (per se) rests anywhere but firmly in the category of the UNKNOWN.

SO all you have to do is say YOU DONT KNOW......(I know thats no fun)


lolololollol

Paul
11-12-2009, 03:45 AM
I was raised by a pair of lapsed Catholics, but have no religious beliefs of my own. I don't believe in any gods. I don't think that life or existence has any inherent meaning or purpose. I think that if I want my own life to have any sort of meaning, then it's up to me to give my life meaning.


I'm curious about how you go about doing that. It's a widely shared viewpoint.


CG - Actually the older I get the easier it gets.
Pretty easy once you have the food, warmth & shelter thing sorted.
Basically sightseeing after that.
Unfortunately I'm still working on the shelter.
I think most people spend the majority of their lives on that "basic" need (i.e shelter - damn you Maslow, damn you to hell!:)) and next thing they know - its all over.
In truth though, it is the journey, not the destination (finally understand that). Course, a few nice pillows for one's back is no harm...

TerzaRima
11-12-2009, 04:19 AM
In truth though, it is the journey, not the destination (finally understand that).

But that's the meaning, if I understand. I think you're saying something different from what MGB is saying, which is that the journey in and of itself does not signify.

Paul
11-12-2009, 04:28 AM
I was raised by a pair of lapsed Catholics, but have no religious beliefs of my own. I don't believe in any gods. I don't think that life or existence has any inherent meaning or purpose. I think that if I want my own life to have any sort of meaning, then it's up to me to give my life meaning.



In truth though, it is the journey, not the destination (finally understand that). Course, a few nice pillows for one's back is no harm...


But that's the meaning, if I understand. I think you're saying something different from what MGB is saying, which is that the journey in and of itself does not signify.

Em, can you clarify?
Me = There is no BIG meaning (destination) Only a series of meanings along the way, which, because there is no big meaning, we can only create. (as there is no absolute)

entropic island
11-12-2009, 05:07 AM
From the outside looking in it certainly sounds ridiculous, I'd agree. But I think it's important to keep in mind peoples intentions.

If I consider, for a moment, that I believed in a god, and believed in the concept of salvation and the threat of hell, then I would certainly be going to great lengths to prevent people from ending up in hell. I wouldn't want to sit by and let people destroy themselves.

That's why when someone preaches to me about why I shouldn't be a gay atheist (a.k.a. the "double whammy sinner") I'm not offended by it if I feel that they are concerned for me. If they're gleefully telling me that I'm immoral and destined for eternal damnation then I might not be so polite in my response

That's ridiculous. Oh, thank you for opressing me, what a favor! I know you're being selfless...oh wait, are you doing this so YOU go to heaven too? There are life choices. Atheism is not suicide.

Ruv Draba
11-12-2009, 05:49 AM
I'm curious about how you go about doing that. It's a widely shared viewpoint.Not to speak for MGB, but I also believe that meaning is where you find it. Here's what I think...

All our lives have many stories. They're actually many competing stories. For every hero-story I can tell about me, I can find a villain-story too -- even about the exact same events. So I can't ascribe meaning and purpose to concordance with a single, authoritative moral narrative...

What I have to do instead is to observe the objective narrative unfolding -- the facts and feelings and impacts -- and question what I do... see if I can do something better, see if there's a better understanding of good that I'm missing.

That in itself is a very purposeful activity. It doesn't have some idealised end-state like 'Heaven' or 'Oneness with the Ineffable'... but it has targets and milestones and progress. And I find those idealised end-states either meaningless or needlessly encumbering anyway. (Does anyone know how to plan an eternal life? I sure don't.)

What keeps me from getting lazy or kidding myself or going in loops? I could say discipline, commitment, empathy, community, my sense of integrity etc... but I think that the real answer is:

Nothing... same as for theists. :)

TerzaRima
11-12-2009, 06:36 AM
Em, can you clarify?


Actually, you just clarified in the last sentence of your post, and I was the one who didn't get it. I was trying to say that I saw a substantial difference between finding a series of meanings along the way, and what MGB may be saying. From this and many of his other posts--and maybe this is quite unfair, feel free to rap my knuckles if so--I get a disquieting sense of no meaning, a really nihilistic voice. And I would wonder how one conducts life given those internal conditions.

Rhys Cordelle
11-12-2009, 08:05 AM
That's ridiculous. Oh, thank you for opressing me, what a favor! I know you're being selfless...oh wait, are you doing this so YOU go to heaven too? There are life choices. Atheism is not suicide.

Of course there are life choices, and of course atheism isn't suicide. I'm not sure why you feel the need to say that?

I don't know what your problem is. You seem to think religious people are incapable of being genuine in their beliefs and in their concern for non believers. I never suggested we should be grateful for being preached at, but I see no reason to abuse someone who is just trying to help me, even if that help is unwanted or unhelpful.


As for the meaning of life. I don't think there is such a thing. It's a matter of motivation. You feel motivated to pursue happiness, companionship, excitement, contentment, comfort, etc. etc.

I personally feel that the concept of eternal life makes life less meaningful.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 08:26 AM
but I see no reason to abuse someone who is just trying to help me, even if that help is unwanted or unhelpful.

If somebody persists after I tell them that I'm not interested, then they deserve any abuse I choose to heap upon them. I say this as somebody who has been given over 65536 copies of a Chick tract called "Dark Dungeons" over the last 25 years.

Rhys Cordelle
11-12-2009, 08:53 AM
Condemning Dungeons and Dragons?

Salis
11-12-2009, 11:08 AM
Of course there are life choices, and of course atheism isn't suicide. I'm not sure why you feel the need to say that?

I don't know what your problem is. You seem to think religious people are incapable of being genuine in their beliefs and in their concern for non believers. I never suggested we should be grateful for being preached at, but I see no reason to abuse someone who is just trying to help me, even if that help is unwanted or unhelpful.


As for the meaning of life. I don't think there is such a thing. It's a matter of motivation. You feel motivated to pursue happiness, companionship, excitement, contentment, comfort, etc. etc.

I personally feel that the concept of eternal life makes life less meaningful.

Imagine you worshipped a God, any God. (Not sure if you do, or don't, just imagine for a second.)

If an atheist told you that when you die, you will be molested by rapist gnomes for all of eternity unless you foreswear God, how would you feel?

Not so good?

Congratulations, you now know why preaching is so annoying. Everyone has a right to believe the craziest shit they can come up with. Just don't be surprised when people don't want to hear about it.

Salis
11-12-2009, 11:10 AM
Actually, you just clarified in the last sentence of your post, and I was the one who didn't get it. I was trying to say that I saw a substantial difference between finding a series of meanings along the way, and what MGB may be saying. From this and many of his other posts--and maybe this is quite unfair, feel free to rap my knuckles if so--I get a disquieting sense of no meaning, a really nihilistic voice. And I would wonder how one conducts life given those internal conditions.

I believe he was talking about "meaning" in the sense of greater meaning--i.e, I was put here by something for a "purpose", which must and will be accomplished, and without me here something wouldn't be right.

Which is pretty much a load, you don't need to have a greater meaning to enjoy life. Enjoying a juicy steak is reason enough to live.

johnnysannie
11-12-2009, 04:24 PM
If somebody persists after I tell them that I'm not interested, then they deserve any abuse I choose to heap upon them. I say this as somebody who has been given over 65536 copies of a Chick tract called "Dark Dungeons" over the last 25 years.

As the target of too damn many Chick tracts myself, it is my personal conviction that anyone who attempts to force their narrow and blighted views on another human being deserves any abuse the recipient feels warranted.

I hate Chick tracts.

JimmyB27
11-12-2009, 04:34 PM
I HEREBY CHALLENGE ANYONE.......ANYONE...(except God of course) to prove that the existence of God (per se) rests anywhere but firmly in the category of the UNKNOWN.

SO all you have to do is say YOU DONT KNOW......(I know thats no fun)


lolololollol
But there's no need to prove the non-existence of god. Any more than there is a need to prove the existence of Russell's teapot (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_teapot), or the Invisible Pink Unicorn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn), or the Flying Spaghetti Monster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster).
This harks back to what I gave as my reason for not believing. Not believing is the default state; a lack of god is the default state. If you want to talk proof, the burden of proof lies with the person making the claim of god's existence.
Yes, god's existence is unknown, but so are a mind-bogglingly large number of other things that would be rejected out of hand, were I to suggest they do exist.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 06:54 PM
Condemning Dungeons and Dragons?

Apparently, D&D is used to recruit kids into covens.

Roger J Carlson
11-12-2009, 07:27 PM
Imagine you worshipped a God, any God. (Not sure if you do, or don't, just imagine for a second.)

If an atheist told you that when you die, you will be molested by rapist gnomes for all of eternity unless you foreswear God, how would you feel?

Not so good?

Congratulations, you now know why preaching is so annoying. Everyone has a right to believe the craziest shit they can come up with. Just don't be surprised when people don't want to hear about it.Non-believers (of Christianity) will often complain that Christians are "condemning them to hell" because they maintain that a belief is Christ is the only way to heaven.

However, an atheist (who does not believe in heaven, hell, or a soul) maintains that when I die, I will simply cease to exist, thereby condemning me to an eternity of nothingness.

I don't see a fundamental difference except that the Christian is offering a solution to the best of his or her knowledge.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 07:33 PM
However, an atheist (who does not believe in heaven, hell, or a soul) maintains that when I die, I will simply cease to exist, thereby condemning me to an eternity of nothingness.

I don't see a fundamental difference except that the Christian is offering a solution to the best of his or her knowledge.

I see a fundamental difference. From an atheist's point of view, he's offering facts while the Christian is offering a fantasy. As far as any of us knows, death is the end. You can hope for an afterlife if you want, but as far as any of us knows for sure, this physical life is all any of us get.

The atheist's solution is simple: if this is all any of us get, let's make the most of it. If you want heaven, build it here on earth.

DeleyanLee
11-12-2009, 07:47 PM
Non-believers (of Christianity) will often complain that Christians are "condemning them to hell" because they maintain that a belief is Christ is the only way to heaven.

However, an atheist (who does not believe in heaven, hell, or a soul) maintains that when I die, I will simply cease to exist, thereby condemning me to an eternity of nothingness.

I don't see a fundamental difference except that the Christian is offering a solution to the best of his or her knowledge.

The only fundamental difference I've experienced is that a Christian might (instead of will because not all Christians do this) come, univited, into your personal space and attempt to convince you that they're right and you're damned for all eternity unless you change your life and might become insistent or irate if you're not responsive. Atheists don't.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 07:48 PM
The only fundamental difference I've experienced is that a Christian might (instead of will because not all Christians do this) come, univited, into your personal space and attempt to convince you that they're right and you're damned for all eternity unless you change your life and might become insistent or irate if you're not responsive. Atheists don't.

Exactly. I've never had an atheist knock on my door and asked me if I realized that the existence of a personal god was extremely unlikely. Then again, I've never had a Jew knock on my door and ask me if I've accepted Moses as my personal lawgiver, either.

Roger J Carlson
11-12-2009, 07:51 PM
I see a fundamental difference. From an atheist's point of view, he's offering facts while the Christian is offering a fantasy. As far as any of us knows, death is the end. You can hope for an afterlife if you want, but as far as any of us knows for sure, this physical life is all any of us get.

The atheist's solution is simple: if this is all any of us get, let's make the most of it. If you want heaven, build it here on earth.And from the Christian's point of view, he is offering truth and the atheist is offering fantasy.

The Christian's solution is equally simple: If you want heaven, both now and the after-life, put your life in the hands of Christ.

But when I said "fundamental difference" I was referring to the offense that some non-believers have over being told they will "go to hell", while at the same time they are willing to tell believers that the believers will cease to exist. If the first is offensive, then so is the second.

Roger J Carlson
11-12-2009, 07:55 PM
The only fundamental difference I've experienced is that a Christian might (instead of will because not all Christians do this) come, univited, into your personal space and attempt to convince you that they're right and you're damned for all eternity unless you change your life and might become insistent or irate if you're not responsive. Atheists don't.Then what you're saying is that it's not the message itself that's offensive but rather the manner that it is delivered?

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 08:00 PM
But when I said "fundamental difference" I was referring to the offense that some non-believers have over being told they will "go to hell", while at the same time they are willing to tell believers that the believers will cease to exist. If the first is offensive, then so is the second.

That may be the case, but I refuse to care. I do not try to persuade religious people to abandon their beliefs. Some of them come to me and try to persuade me to adopt theirs, even though I warn them straight away that I am not interested in such discussions, and have already rejected their beliefs.

So, if you're a Christian, and you waste my time trying to tell me the Good News after I've told you that I've heard it before and don't believe it, then I don't give a shit if you're offended when I say that there probably isn't an afterlife, and that in all likelihood the void awaits us after death.

'Cos if you really annoy me, I'll be happy to wish inoperable colon cancer on you followed by the consignment of your consciousness to the frigid ever-night of intergalactic space.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 08:01 PM
Then what you're saying is that it's not the message itself that's offensive but rather the manner that it is delivered?

He may be saying that. I myself find the message offensive, as well as the delivery method. I respect your right to be a Christian, but insist on my right to hold Christianity in contempt.

Roger J Carlson
11-12-2009, 08:06 PM
I respect your right to be a Christian, but insist on my right to hold Christianity in contempt.Yet you expect Christians to respect your atheism.

Roger J Carlson
11-12-2009, 08:09 PM
He may be saying that. I myself find the message offensive, as well as the delivery method. So what exactly is offensive about the message?

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 08:10 PM
Yet you expect Christians to respect your atheism.

No, I merely expect them to have the common courtesy to back off when somebody says that they're not interested in discussing religion. I don't go around wearing a t-shirt that says, "ATHEIST". I don't broadcast it to the world. If you were to meet me on the street and try to talk religion with me, the first thing I'd say would be, "I'd rather not discuss that".

That's your cue to shut up, back off, and go try to save somebody else's soul. Or better yet, make damned sure of your own salvation. Didn't Jesus say something about dealing with the beam in your own eye before worrying about the speck of sawdust in somebody else's?

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 08:11 PM
So what exactly is offensive about the message?

Questions have consequences. Are you sure you want me to explain in detail why I despise the Christian religion?

Roger J Carlson
11-12-2009, 08:16 PM
No, I merely expect them to have the common courtesy to back off when somebody says that they're not interested in discussing religion. I don't go around wearing a t-shirt that says, "ATHEIST". I don't broadcast it to the world. If you were to meet me on the street and try to talk religion with me, the first thing I'd say would be, "I'd rather not discuss that".

That's your cue to shut up, back off, and go try to save somebody else's soul. Or better yet, make damned sure of your own salvation. Didn't Jesus say something about dealing with the beam in your own eye before worrying about the speck of sawdust in somebody else's?I guess this is the part that confuses me. You expect common courtesy from Christians (that is, respecting your non-belief) while at the same time you hold their beliefs in contempt.

Roger J Carlson
11-12-2009, 08:19 PM
Questions have consequences. Are you sure you want me to explain in detail why I despise the Christian religion?Hmmm. That would be a question for the moderator of this forum.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 08:21 PM
I guess this is the part that confuses me. You expect common courtesy from Christians (that is, respecting your non-belief) while at the same time you hold their beliefs in contempt.

Do I walk into a church with a megaphone and shout, "Christianity is a lie"? No.
Do I approach Christians and tell them that they are wasting their lives believing bullshit? No.

I leave them alone. I demand the same treatment in return: leave me alone. I don't think I'm being unreasonable.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 08:23 PM
Hmmm. That would be a question for the moderator of this forum.

I could always answer you via email instead, but let's just stipulate that there are reasons for my apostasy and be done with it.

Roger J Carlson
11-12-2009, 08:31 PM
Do I walk into a church with a megaphone and shout, "Christianity is a lie"? No.
Do I approach Christians and tell them that they are wasting their lives believing bullshit? No.

I leave them alone. I demand the same treatment in return: leave me alone. I don't think I'm being unreasonable.Well, I don't knock on people's doors to tell them the Good News. I don't insist upon discussing religion when people ask me not to. I don't approach atheists un-asked and tell them they are going to hell. Most Christians do not.

So why hold all of Christianity in contempt?

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 08:34 PM
So why hold all of Christianity in contempt?

There's something about the doctrine of original sin that just pisses me off. I'm supposed to think that I'm tainted in God's eyes because it never occurred to God that if you tell people that they can eat the fruit of any tree they want but one, they're eventually going to get curious and try the forbidden fruit? Why should I worship a God with such a poor grasp of human psychology?

ColoradoGuy
11-12-2009, 08:40 PM
Hmmm. That would be a question for the moderator of this forum.
And this forum would not be the place for such a disquisition. Listening and, I hope, understanding is what we do here. Courteous disagreement is just fine because understanding does not imply agreement. Of course we're all free to despise whatever we like. But let's not be despicable in what we post.

ColoradoGuy
11-12-2009, 08:47 PM
There's something about the doctrine of original sin that just pisses me off. I'm supposed to think that I'm tainted in God's eyes because it never occurred to God that if you tell people that they can eat the fruit of any tree they want but one, they're eventually going to get curious and try the forbidden fruit? Why should I worship a God with such a poor grasp of human psychology?
I think the notion of original sin is mostly about pointing out what all of us obviously know already -- that no human is perfect. Many regard the story as a metaphor that simply shows that. What the various kinds of Christianity do with the concept can be objectionable to those who don't share their viewpoint, but the notion itself seems quite ordinary to me.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 08:53 PM
I think the notion of original sin is mostly about pointing out what all of us obviously know already -- that no human is perfect.

I see it as God blaming humanity for being defective when he supposedly created humanity. If the code I write is defective, I don't blame the code for being defective. I blame myself for having screwed up, and fix it.

semilargeintestine
11-12-2009, 09:10 PM
There's something about the doctrine of original sin that just pisses me off. I'm supposed to think that I'm tainted in God's eyes because it never occurred to God that if you tell people that they can eat the fruit of any tree they want but one, they're eventually going to get curious and try the forbidden fruit? Why should I worship a God with such a poor grasp of human psychology?

Yay misunderstandings of the Bible that have become widely accepted "interpretations!"

I don't know where half the stuff Xtianity teaches about the Bible came from. And I have no problem if they want to believe that, but I totally understand where MGB is coming from. Missionaries are VERY annoying. For the last 2,000 years up until about 40 or 50 years ago, the only thing worse than an atheist was a Jew. That sentiment is still present, and I am frequently the target of missionizing. It is very irritating.

DeleyanLee
11-12-2009, 09:13 PM
Then what you're saying is that it's not the message itself that's offensive but rather the manner that it is delivered?

That's what I'm saying. I don't find Christianity offensive in itself. I find individual Christians offensive. But, then, I also will say that about every other religion/belief system I've ever run into (including my own).

Unfortunately, a seriously bad experience can cast a dark shadow over the whole for an individual. Zealots and fanatics can easily spoil the reputation for everyone else because they're the ones that get the press and the notice.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 09:14 PM
Yay misunderstandings of the Bible that have become widely accepted "interpretations!"

I blame people who think you can understand the Bible by just reading a single translation into English, without touching the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts.

semilargeintestine
11-12-2009, 09:16 PM
I blame people who think you can understand the Bible by just reading a single translation into English, without touching the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts.

That's exactly it. It's funny because the first guy who translated the Bible into English was burned alive for daring to make the scriptures accessible to the public. But while censorship is never a good thing, making it readily available was probably the beginning of the end.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 09:28 PM
But while censorship is never a good thing, making it readily available was probably the beginning of the end.

As far as I'm concerned, making the Bible readily available was a good thing. I became an atheist after reading several different translations and deciding that the Bible was no more true than Bullfinch's Mythology.

semilargeintestine
11-12-2009, 09:38 PM
It's lose-lose. By not making it readily available, they were able to just tell everyone what to think. But by making it readily available, people could read a loose, poor translation of a translation of a translation and decide based on that what is true or not. If I just read the English version of the "Old Testament" I would think it was bollocks too.

That's what happens when you get people telling you that an English version of a book that was in no way supposed to be taken 100% literally or even chronologically accurate is absolutely the truth and that anyone who says otherwise is a heretic.

MGraybosch
11-12-2009, 09:41 PM
That's what happens when you get people telling you that an English version of a book that was in no way supposed to be taken 100% literally or even chronologically accurate is absolutely the truth and that anyone who says otherwise is a heretic.

I think they say that about the Latin and Greek translations as well. The Bible is a great example of why committees can't be trusted to do anything. :)

semilargeintestine
11-12-2009, 09:44 PM
Amen to that. :)

Paul
11-12-2009, 10:06 PM
Please don't lock this post til i get a 'go' - simpsons on now, but i'll be back soon (big grin face)

Paul
11-12-2009, 10:49 PM
Em , can't really think of anything to add.
'cept maybe that for 'non-believers' (or whatever the term is) you guys do have a lot to say bout belief in a God.:D
Is everyone getting enough loving out there?
(I just got me a new girlfriend, think i may have mentioed that before).

I remember hearing years ago, that a 'cynic' was really a disappointed idealist.
Always stuck in my mind (often being described as a cynic myself by others)
I wonder does the same apply to 'nihilist' (prev post by someone) or to non-believer?
Personally, the rules are, be nice, eat well, love often and hide whatever chocolate you have when visitors call.
'Course, anyone tries to take your candy...

Dawnstorm
11-12-2009, 11:18 PM
I don't see a fundamental difference except that the Christian is offering a solution to the best of his or her knowledge.

As an "atheist", here's the difference I see.

Hell = punishment
Cease to exist = loss

Everyone has to deal with loss; only bad people have to deal with punishment. If you tell me that I'm going to hell, you're telling something's wrong with me. If I'm telling you that you cease to exist, I'm telling you we're all in the same boat.

Telling me that I'm going to hell unless I join the club comes across as a means of social control. How does the cease-to-exist thing come across? Social disintigration/chaos? "What's the point?"

semilargeintestine
11-12-2009, 11:20 PM
Telling me that I'm going to hell unless I join the club comes across as a means of social control. How does the cease-to-exist thing come across? Social disintigration/chaos? "What's the point?"

Exactly. Many things in [major unnamed organized religion] have no basis in the Bible, but came about as a way to control or convert people. The concept of "hell" is just one of them.

Ruv Draba
11-13-2009, 01:51 AM
Non-believers (of Christianity) will often complain that Christians are "condemning them to hell" because they maintain that a belief is Christ is the only way to heaven.

However, an atheist (who does not believe in heaven, hell, or a soul) maintains that when I die, I will simply cease to exist, thereby condemning me to an eternity of nothingness.

I don't see a fundamental difference except that the Christian is offering a solution to the best of his or her knowledge.
Roger, we've (almost) discussed this one before... I'm going to try and have a deeper go this time... and try and do it carefully.

Christianity has a history of assimilating, dismissing, marginalising and persecuting any belief but its own. It tends to be fairly benign while ever it holds supremacy, but it gets awfully nasty when its supremacy is challenged or threatened. (CG, here I except and acknowledge the various Christian sects of tolerance, pacifism, questioning and open-mindedness who have themselves frequently suffered persecution by their own parent faith.)

This is not just the opportunism of individuals; it's also built into mythology and tacitly into creed. The God of the Old Testament is intolerant and crotchety and all about supremacy. The God of the New Testament is benign, smug and condescending, maintaining supremacy by dispensing and withholding privilege and therein are the two faces of Christian history: when it's in the driver's seat, Christianity holds a posture of benign contempt toward any faith but itself. When its supremacy is threatened, that contempt turns to vilification and demonisation. Atheists, freethinkers and the like have lived with Christianity since its inception and can attest to both kinds of behaviours.

The natural human response to contempt is scorn. This I think is the psychological answer as to why so many atheists scorn Christianity rather than simply disagreeing with it. It's disagreement coming from a place of suffering prolonged condescension, vilification and demonisation.

But there's more to the story than that. As with citizens of any empire, atheists from a Christian culture owe a lot to the culture... even when we find it hard to acknowledge that. We're a beneficiary of the best of Christian thought, even when we're victims of the worst of it. For that matter, Christendom owes a lot to its dissidents, too. The same thinking that creates skeptics and infidels also produces first-rate science and philosophy.

I believe that the Christian empire has pretty much run its race. The question is: what next?

I would suggest that reconciliation is necessary. I know that you're concerned about backlash in a post-Christian world. So am I. There's no benefit in trading one kind of tyranny for another. But I'm not so pessimistic as perhaps you are. I look at what's happening in Western Europe and I think it's the most benign it's ever been.

You asked me once whether I would let anyone tell your kids that there's no heaven. My answer is: no, never. But I would hope that a well-behaved atheist kid might say to a well-behaved Christian kid... 'My Daddy doesn't trust to heaven -- he thinks we should make things good now'. And I'd hope that a Christian kid might say 'Well, that sounds fine, but I'm going to believe in heaven too.'

Lyv
11-13-2009, 01:55 AM
Em , can't really think of anything to add.
'cept maybe that for 'non-believers' (or whatever the term is) you guys do have a lot to say bout belief in a God.:D
I do because other people's belief in God impacts my life. If it didn't, I would probably not care or discuss what anyone else believed, except out of interest. But I live in a country in which the overwhelming majority of people will not vote for an atheist. That's because of assumptions and myths about atheists. So are the comments I get when I say I am an atheist. I like to help dispel those myths. That involves talking to people about not believing in God, which means talking to people about believing in God.


I remember hearing years ago, that a 'cynic' was really a disappointed idealist.
Always stuck in my mind (often being described as a cynic myself by others)
I wonder does the same apply to 'nihilist' (prev post by someone) or to non-believer?
You're asking if non-believers are disappointed idealists?

Most atheists I know aren't. But to answer the thread question and yours, I am not disappointed. Or bitter or angry or anything else that believers often assume about me when they hear I'm an atheist. I once believed in God and now I don't. I was raised to believe in God and Jesus but the longer I lived and learned, it felt wrong. I didn't try not to believe, but for many years, I kept trying to believe. One day I couldn't. And it had nothing to do with anything bad or disillusioning happening.

At the time I finally stopped believing, I was happy and involved in a church I loved. Becoming an atheist, or acknowledging to myself I had become one, meant losing a community and many friends within that community. But that's better than pretending to believe something I didn't.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 02:05 AM
You asked me once whether I would let anyone tell your kids that there's no heaven. My answer is: no, never. But I would hope that a well-behaved atheist kid might say to a well-behaved Christian kid... 'My Daddy doesn't trust to heaven -- he thinks we should make things good now'. And I'd hope that a Christian kid might say 'Well, that sounds fine, but I'm going to believe in heaven too.'

I'm just confused where the belief in Heaven makes it okay to let this world turn to shit. It shouldn't be one or the other, or even one dependent on the other. It's supposed to be both.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 02:10 AM
I'm just confused where the belief in Heaven makes it okay to let this world turn to shit.

I think there's more Gnostic influence in mainstream Christianity than many would like to admit. :)

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 02:20 AM
I had to Google that. I got a Wikipedia article that I don't really trust because of it's horrendous inaccuracies regarding Judaism's knowledge of G-d.

Ruv Draba
11-13-2009, 04:06 AM
I'm just confused where the belief in Heaven makes it okay to let this world turn to shit.I don't think that's the case, Semi. Christianity has worked hard to improve things. Examples include reforms against poverty in the Victorian era, for instance, and innovations toward free education whose benefits we still feel today. Christians are committed to charity-work and probably do more per-capita for poor and homeless people than any other faith in the Western world.

The other side of it though, is that many of the good works also tend to be monuments to Christian supremacy... Bibles with the blackboards, sermons with the soup, ... so one can't really call it humanitarian concern so much as imperial noblesse oblige. (Again CG, I acknowledge that this isn't the whole of Christianity, but it's the history of the mainstream.)

A challenge I often give my Christian friends is whether they'd rebuild a mosque or a synagogue if it burned down. I'm sure that there are Christians who'd give a definitive, unhesitant 'yes', but that hasn't been my experience. Personally, though I'm an atheist, I'd rebuild a synagogue, mosque, church or temple. Because being human and a member of community is far more important to me than differences in belief.

Paul
11-13-2009, 04:30 AM
I do because other people's belief in God impacts my life. If it didn't, I would probably not care or discuss what anyone else believed, except out of interest. But I live in a country in which the overwhelming majority of people will not vote for an atheist. That's because of assumptions and myths about atheists. So are the comments I get when I say I am an atheist. I like to help dispel those myths. That involves talking to people about not believing in God, which means talking to people about believing in God.


You're asking if non-believers are disappointed idealists?

Most atheists I know aren't. But to answer the thread question and yours, I am not disappointed. Or bitter or angry or anything else that believers often assume about me when they hear I'm an atheist. I once believed in God and now I don't. I was raised to believe in God and Jesus but the longer I lived and learned, it felt wrong. I didn't try not to believe, but for many years, I kept trying to believe. One day I couldn't. And it had nothing to do with anything bad or disillusioning happening.

At the time I finally stopped believing, I was happy and involved in a church I loved. Becoming an atheist, or acknowledging to myself I had become one, meant losing a community and many friends within that community. But that's better than pretending to believe something I didn't.

I'd like to concentrate on your last few lines, which is the problem or issue I essentially was implying in my prev post. It is this need to qualify / label and define one's self to the world. You clearly feel that you should be allowed to state your beliefs and that you're prepared to let go of many friends rather than pretend.
But this is the crux.
Firstly, beliefs which hinge upon an absolute cannot be unhinged, as the believer interprets an attack on their beliefs as an attack on their very raison d'etre. You're in fact assulting or challenging the very reason they keep going. Why not says you?
For this reason - an atheist (as has been alluded to by prev posts) is not a believer in non belief, but rather is one who recognises the fallacy of belief systems.
Therefore to engage with a 'believer' is to meet them on a level pitch and do battle. But an atheist, IMO, does not need to enter onto the battle field, as that field no longer exists for them. (D Ruv refers to this above)
Secondly, losing community and friends for one who recognise the fallacy of belief systems is a contradiction in terms, as an atheist has moved away from 'belief identity'.
By sacrificing friends etc, you are saying - this is what I believe, respect it or have no part of my life - one of the very downsides to rigid belief system adherence.
In short Athesism becomes a religion = counter intuitive

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 04:33 AM
By sacrificing friends etc, you are saying - this is what I believe, respect it or have no part of my life - one of the very downsides to rigid belief system adherence.

I'm sure she'd be happy to remain friends with the people with whom she used to attend church. But would they still want her as a friend since she no longer shares her beliefs? I doubt it.

Paul
11-13-2009, 04:38 AM
I'm sure she'd be happy to remain friends with the people with whom she used to attend church. But would they still want her as a friend since she no longer shares her beliefs? I doubt it.

Only lyv can answer that. But the tone of her post suggested a clear defence of the identity of Atheist.
Perhaps she'll enlighten us.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 04:39 AM
Only lyv can answer that. But the tone of her post suggested a clear defence of the identity of Atheist.
Perhaps she'll enlighten us.

I never had any friends to lose by turning my back on Christianity, but I know that the loss of friendships is often part of the price one pays for coming out of the closet as an unbeliever.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 04:41 AM
I had to Google that. I got a Wikipedia article that I don't really trust because of it's horrendous inaccuracies regarding Judaism's knowledge of G-d.

It's Wikipedia; you could always fix some of it yourself. :)

Lyv
11-13-2009, 04:42 AM
I'd like to concentrate on your last few lines, which is the problem or issue I essentially was implying in my prev post. It is this need to qualify / label and define on self to the world. You clearly feel that you should be allowed to state yuor beliefs and that you're prepared to let go of many friends rather than pretend.
Huh? You asked a question which I answered. I don't have the need to do anything you assume I do. I simply choose to be open about my atheism to help dispel the myths. You see it as a problem/issue. I see the problem as people thinking I am immoral because I don't believe in God.

But, yes, I think I should be allowed to state my beliefs in a thread asking about my beliefs. I think we all should.


Firstly, beliefs which hinge upon an absolute cannot be unhinged, as the believer interprets an attack on their beliefs as an attack on their very raison d'etre. You're in fact assulting or challenging the very reason they keep going. Why not says you?
I'm assaulting someone's beliefs by saying I don't believe in the same thing they do?

I think you're assuming I am trying to covert religious people to atheism when I've said I discuss religion.


Secondly, losing community and friends for one who recognise the fallacy of belief systems is a contradiction in terms, an atheist has moved away from 'belief identity'.
By sacrificing friends etc, yuo are saying - this is what I belief, respect it or have no part of my life - one of the very downsides to belief system adherence.
That's where, again, you're making an assumption. The friends I lost would not stay my friend because I stopped believing in God. You assumed I was the one who walked away, but I wasn't. I stopped going to church and was honest about why. That cost me a good number of my Christian friends. But that was their choice, not mine. Interesting that you assumed it was me. I would have preferred that my friends remain my friends, but I wouldn't have lived a lie to keep them.


In short Athesism becomes a religion = counter intuitive
I guess you have your ideas about atheism and are going to keep them, even if you have to completely misread someone else's words. What a shame.

Lyv
11-13-2009, 04:44 AM
I'm sure she'd be happy to remain friends with the people with whom she used to attend church. But would they still want her as a friend since she no longer shares her beliefs? I doubt it.
You got it. Some of my church friends remained my friends. Some accepted me, but some kept trying to convert me. And some, a greater number than I ever would have imagined, shunned me immediately.

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 04:45 AM
I think the notion of original sin is mostly about pointing out what all of us obviously know already -- that no human is perfect.

Um... no. Otherwise what's the point of Jesus Christ coming down and dying for OUR SINS, if it's just about us not being perfect? What's all this talk about us being SINFUL BEINGS if its just that we're imperfect?

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 04:45 AM
I would have preferred that my friends remain my friends, but I wouldn't have lived a lie to keep them.

I understand, even if Paul doesn't.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 04:46 AM
You got it. Some of my church friends remained my friends. Some accepted me, but some kept trying to convert me. And some, a greater number than I ever would have imagined, shunned me immediately.

If you had told them you were gay or bisexual, they might have had the same reaction -- as if atheism and non-straight sexuality were contagious diseases. :)

Paul
11-13-2009, 04:47 AM
I never had any friends to lose by turning my back on Christianity, but I know that the loss of friendships is often part of the price one pays for coming out of the closet as an unbeliever.

The point i'm making mgb is that issues as profound as belief in a God or not are not exactlly common conversational fodder - or certainly should not be.
Therefore by the time someone is close to you they will. if they wish to continue to be part of yuor life respect yuor views.
The prob I read from lyv (and a little from yuor good self) is this readiness to express and defend athestic views, even to the point of confrontation.
Hence it - Atheism, become a badge of identity and such badge wearers fall into the same trap as the believers.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 04:48 AM
Um... no. Otherwise what's the point of Jesus Christ coming down and dying for OUR SINS, if it's just about us not being perfect? What's all this talk about us being SINFUL BEINGS if its just that we're imperfect?

And if G-d wanted to forgive us for the crime of having been born human, he could have done so without the spectacle of a human sacrifice. He's G-d, after all; he should be able to do whatever the hell he likes.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 04:51 AM
The point i'm making mgb is that issues as profound as belief in a God or not are not exactlly common conversational fodder - or certainly should not be.

I agree, which is why I do not say the "a" word until I think I have to. Instead, I start by saying, "I'd rather not discuss this". If that fails, I state that I am not a religious man. If they still don't get the hint, then I say, "Look, buddy, I'm a fucking atheist. I tried to be nice and reasonable, but you just wouldn't leave me alone. If you have a problem with me not wanting to hear about your fairytales, discuss them with your god. He might give a shit. I don't."

Lyv
11-13-2009, 04:53 AM
The point i'm making mgb is that issues as profound as belief in a God or not are not exactlly common conversational fodder - or certainly should not be.
Well, a lot of religious people sure seem to feel otherwise. So if people are comfortable discussing their beliefs or lack thereof or religion in general, they should. If they think those beliefs should not be "conversational fodder," perhaps a discussion specifically about beliefs is an odd place to be.

The prob I read from lyv (and a little from yuor good self) is this readiness to express and defend athestic views, even to the point of confrontation.
You had to read in a lot to get there, Paul. I think, to be frank, the only problem here is your investment in believing a particular thing to the point of seeing it where it is not.

My post was about being open about my atheism and trying to dispel some myths and assumptions. Which you're reminding me is important and necessary.

Paul
11-13-2009, 04:53 AM
You got it. Some of my church friends remained my friends. Some accepted me, but some kept trying to convert me. And some, a greater number than I ever would have imagined, shunned me immediately.


I understand, even if Paul doesn't.

Folks, your viewing this subjectively. I'm trying to offer a 'bigger picture' scenario - essentially about attachment to belief and its dangers.
Dawkins is a clear example of this - which Southpark offered an excellent analysis of.
Dawkins full frontal assult, detracts from the beauty and subtley of recognising the fallacy of absolutist belief systems

Paul
11-13-2009, 04:57 AM
Well, a lot of religious people sure seem to feel otherwise. So if people are comfortable discussing their beliefs or lack thereof or religion in general, they should. If they think those beliefs should not be "conversational fodder," perhaps a discussion specifically about beliefs is an odd place to be.

You had to read in a lot to get there, Paul. I think, to be frank, the only problem here is your investment in believing a particular thing to the point of seeing it where it is not.

My post was about being open about my atheism and trying to dispel some myths and assumptions. Which you're reminding me is important and necessary.

Lyv, please don't think i'm attacking you personally. As for "perhaps a discussion specifically about beliefs is an odd place to be." - this is a discussion forum on this subject - so it would be the right place to talk about it,yes?

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 04:57 AM
Dawkins full frontal assult, detracts from the beauty and subtley of recognise the fallacy of absolutist belief systems

As far as I'm concerned, Dr. Dawkins' sledgehammer approach is as necessary as "We're here, we're queer, get used to it!"

Some of us are tired of being pushed around either personally or politically because we don't believe in any of the gods men have dreamed up for themselves. If we have to wear our atheism on our sleeve in order to make the rest of the world acknowledge our presence and honor our rights as human beings, we will.

Paul
11-13-2009, 05:00 AM
As far as I'm concerned, Dr. Dawkins' sledgehammer approach is as necessary as "We're here, we're queer, get used to it!"

Some of us are tired of being pushed around either personally or politically because we don't believe in any of the gods men have dreamed up for themselves. If we have to wear our atheism on our sleeve in order to make the rest of the world acknowledge our presence and honor our rights as human beings, we will.

Well , we'll have to differ there MG. My feeling is DR D is feeding the other 'cause'.
We'll (as in i'll, bedtime here) leave it at that for the mo:)

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 05:00 AM
Is Dawkins some character on Southpark? I don't watch that cartoon.

Lyv
11-13-2009, 05:01 AM
As for "perhaps a discussion specifically about beliefs is an odd place to be." - this is a discussion forum on this subject - so it would be the right place to talk about it,yes?
That's my point. But I am not one to tell people what they should and shouldn't feel comfortable discussing.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 05:04 AM
Is Dawkins some character on Southpark? I don't watch that cartoon.

How in Shabranigdo's name can you not have heard of Richard Dawkins (http://richarddawkins.net/)?

Paul
11-13-2009, 05:04 AM
That's my point. But I am not one to tell people what they should and shouldn't feel comfortable discussing.

Ah well, I don't think we'll find common ground tonight. I would ask yuo to read through my prev long post again some time.

Shaddow - love it! Night all

Lyv
11-13-2009, 05:06 AM
Some of us are tired of being pushed around either personally or politically because we don't believe in any of the gods men have dreamed up for themselves. If we have to wear our atheism on our sleeve in order to make the rest of the world acknowledge our presence and honor our rights as human beings, we will.
When I started identifying as an atheist, I learned quickly that it was important to be more vocal, more open. Paul seems to think that means I try to convert believers. It just means I am more open about my own beliefs, and lack of belief in God. I've been told I must be immoral, selfish, evil,"too good to be an atheist."People who know me will know at least one atheist, and be less quick to believe atheists are immoral, evil, selfish or any of the other things some people believe.

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 05:06 AM
How in Shabranigdo's name can you not have heard of Richard Dawkins (http://richarddawkins.net/)?

I'll have to look at that later, I need to pick up my kid. I thought the Greatest Show on Earth was a movie with Jimmy Stewart.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 05:16 AM
I've been told I must be immoral, selfish, evil,"too good to be an atheist."

I've heard that line before. I just smile and say, "You don't know me very well, do you."

I like being selfish. I like being evil. I'd rather laugh with the sinners than weep with the saints.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 05:24 AM
I don't think that's the case, Semi. Christianity has worked hard to improve things. Examples include reforms against poverty in the Victorian era, for instance, and innovations toward free education whose benefits we still feel today. Christians are committed to charity-work and probably do more per-capita for poor and homeless people than any other faith in the Western world.

The other side of it though, is that many of the good works also tend to be monuments to Christian supremacy... Bibles with the blackboards, sermons with the soup, ... so one can't really call it humanitarian concern so much as imperial noblesse oblige. (Again CG, I acknowledge that this isn't the whole of Christianity, but it's the history of the mainstream.)

A challenge I often give my Christian friends is whether they'd rebuild a mosque or a synagogue if it burned down. I'm sure that there are Christians who'd give a definitive, unhesitant 'yes', but that hasn't been my experience. Personally, though I'm an atheist, I'd rebuild a synagogue, mosque, church or temple. Because being human and a member of community is far more important to me than differences in belief.

I wasn't so much addressing Xtianity as I was your example. I don't see why it's atheists thinking we should make the world better now vs religious people who are simply waiting for Heaven. Some of them might be that way, but I think that is an ill-informed position to take.


I'm sure she'd be happy to remain friends with the people with whom she used to attend church. But would they still want her as a friend since she no longer shares her beliefs? I doubt it.

My girlfriend was a very avid church goer not too long ago. She completely walked away from it, but is still friends with a number of those people, including the pastor. She's having dinner with a few of them tonight actually.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 05:26 AM
My girlfriend was a very avid church goer not too long ago. She completely walked away from it, but is still friends with a number of those people, including the pastor. She's having dinner with a few of them tonight actually.

It's nice to see that your lady knows some Christians who actually act like Christians, and not like they have half of the Amazon rainforest crammed up their asses.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 05:28 AM
You know that's an insult to Jews, right? At least it comes off that way, since the Pharisees were Jews.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 05:31 AM
You know that's an insult to Jews, right? At least it comes off that way, since the Pharisees were Jews.

Yes, you're right. I'll change that.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 05:36 AM
:ROFL:

That made me spray my computer.

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 06:16 AM
How in Shabranigdo's name can you not have heard of Richard Dawkins (http://richarddawkins.net/)?

OK. Had a chance to look at that link and honestly, I still have no idea who he is. And I can only assume he was brought in the conversation because he has something to do with atheism.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 06:19 AM
He's possibly the most famous atheist in the world. He wrote a book where he likened the belief in G-d to a delusion.

Ruv Draba
11-13-2009, 06:22 AM
I wasn't so much addressing Xtianity as I was your example.Then it's not relevant to my commentary. Please stop creating strawmen to bait other posters. I've seen it produce threadlocks before.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 06:24 AM
What are you talking about? It is completely relevant to your post, as I quoted it from your post. You used it as an example of what you view as an ideal conversation between a Xtian and an atheist--mutual understanding and respect. I submitted that I don't think there has to be a separation between a belief in Heaven and trying to make the world a better place. I fail to see the irrelevance.

ETA: I also think you need to reread the definition of a straw man. You and I were not previously conversing, and therefore not debating anything. I also did not address any other point in your post because I was not trying to debate anything you said. I was simply making a point about one of your comments that I frankly thought you would agree with.

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 06:25 AM
He's possibly the most famous atheist in the world. He wrote a book where he likened the belief in G-d to a delusion.

Oh, he's one of those prostelitizing [sic] kinds of atheists. I can't stand those.

Ruv Draba
11-13-2009, 06:28 AM
I don't think there has to be a separation between a belief in Heaven and trying to make the world a better place.
Neither do I:


'My Daddy doesn't trust to heaven -- he thinks we should make things good now'. And I'd hope that a Christian kid might say 'Well, that sounds fine, but I'm going to believe in heaven too.'

Strawman argument.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 06:29 AM
Oh, he's one of those prostelitizing [sic] kinds of atheists. I can't stand those.

Basically. I don't care what you're preaching--I don't want to hear it. Nothing turns me off more than proselytising.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 06:31 AM
Neither do I:



Strawman argument.

That's nice, but you just proved my point.


1 : a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted

I fail to see how me agreeing with you fits that definition.

AMCrenshaw
11-13-2009, 10:17 AM
lol, semi, it's a strawman because you argued with a point Ruv never made!

AMCrenshaw
11-13-2009, 10:22 AM
BTW, reading the works of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins was an amazing intellectual exercise for me. Perhaps an exhilarating one, on the part of Dawkins, having noted someone who seemed to understand different degrees of belief and disbelief. He is a passionate man, and I don't always agree with his tactics or his points, but I enjoy engaging his thought and discourse.

Can I re-rep Spinoza too?



AMC

Rarri
11-13-2009, 12:15 PM
I'd like to concentrate on your last few lines, which is the problem or issue I essentially was implying in my prev post. It is this need to qualify / label and define one's self to the world. You clearly feel that you should be allowed to state your beliefs and that you're prepared to let go of many friends rather than pretend.
But this is the crux.
Firstly, beliefs which hinge upon an absolute cannot be unhinged, as the believer interprets an attack on their beliefs as an attack on their very raison d'etre. You're in fact assulting or challenging the very reason they keep going. Why not says you?
For this reason - an atheist (as has been alluded to by prev posts) is not a believer in non belief, but rather is one who recognises the fallacy of belief systems.
Therefore to engage with a 'believer' is to meet them on a level pitch and do battle. But an atheist, IMO, does not need to enter onto the battle field, as that field no longer exists for them. (D Ruv refers to this above)
Secondly, losing community and friends for one who recognise the fallacy of belief systems is a contradiction in terms, as an atheist has moved away from 'belief identity'.
By sacrificing friends etc, you are saying - this is what I believe, respect it or have no part of my life - one of the very downsides to rigid belief system adherence.
In short Athesism becomes a religion = counter intuitive

Atheism is not religion, it is simply a-theism: not believing. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that. 'Engaging' with a believer is quite conceivable though because religion is something that plays a huge part in life, whether or not a person believes in those religions. If a believer feels the need to impose their beliefs on others, then athiests (or other - religious people - happy with their religious beliefs) have the right to 'defend' themselves. A person may be an athiest, that doesn't mean they need to stand there, unflinching, whilst others tell them they're sinners etc. A lot of this is also about semantics, how are you defining this play field? Because if the playing field is one of belief, then an athiest certainly has a place here because we all believe something (IE there is a god, there isn't a god etc).

I've stated before that i'm a Humanist rather than athiest, but damn it, if i can respect another person's beliefs, they can respect mine and for those that can't, they can eff off. There's a lot of religion in my family, my Uncle is a church elder, various aunts and grandparents were Christian Scientists but we can still get along because we all accept that we have different beliefs.

Why should someone 'pretend' or not be able to state their beliefs, indeed, have a label? Without the 'label' of Humanism or atheism, there wouldn't be campaigns to stop religion being a defining factor in many situations (education, for example). That is a whole different discussion really, but those labels are needed. Plus, i'm happy to identify myself as a Humanist, why shouldn't i be? We all have faith, i place that faith in myself and my family, others place that faith in a God, others might choose to place their faith in a tub of ice-cream; whichever a person chooses to do, labels help.

As for Dawkins, i'm reading The God Delusion a long with A History of the Jews ... To be honest, i'm not Dawkins' biggest fan, i think while he has a lot to say, his book reads rather like a tabloid rant.

Melisande
11-13-2009, 01:45 PM
I have enjoyed reading this thread immensely! MGraybosch; your tart, direct and to the point comments have lifted my spirits tonight. I just had to say that officially!


I'm interested in the core reasons why you believe a particular religion to be true, or why you don't believe any religion, if that's the case.



I'm a non-believer by choice. Looked into many a thing, but had to realize that there was nothing in any of them for me to put any faith into. I was never really looking for evidence of the existence of some kind of 'higher power'; I was just being curious, but the fact was that the belief-systems I did look into became smaller and pettier the deeper I looked.

I guess that my conclusion always was that any 'god' who'd choose a select few to filter, interpret and water down his/hers/its all-mighty powers by way of books, prophets, preachers and what have you, thus giving the ultimate power to the representatives and not to him/her/it-self, must therefore have been invented by the same writers, seers, priests and whatnots.

Along the way I also gained life-experience, and found that life itself was the answer. The one, oh so precious, life we have here, and I decided to live it and not cloud it with religion and all the 'thou shall not' that religion to me entails.

Rhys Cordelle
11-13-2009, 03:30 PM
Wow, this thread really took off. Since people have entered into debate I guess I'll join in too. Just a few things I wanted to address.



But when I said "fundamental difference" I was referring to the offense that some non-believers have over being told they will "go to hell", while at the same time they are willing to tell believers that the believers will cease to exist. If the first is offensive, then so is the second.

I find this a really interesting perspective. What's offensive about the idea that you would cease to exist when you die? Is it offensive because it would mean your beliefs are wrong? Or is it offensive because the idea of non existence appalls you? If it's the former then I'd have to say get over yourself. Whatever the truth is, the vast majority of the population has it wrong. Heck, maybe we all do. If it's the latter, I can't see how the idea of ceasing to exist is somehow more offensive than the idea of eternal suffering. That is nonsensical. You may see eternity in heaven as preferable to ceasing to exist, and therefore find the atheist view offensive, but even then I find that hard to understand. After all, if you die and nothing happens, so what? You won't be capable of feeling ripped off, or let down. Besides, if you're right and you end up in heaven, are you really going to feel ok about the majority of the population (including people you care about) suffering in hell? That concept doesn't offend you?

Personally I think eternal life cheapens this existence. So whether it's the threat of hell or the promise of heaven, either way it doesn't appeal to me. What's so threatening about ceasing to exist after you die anyway? It would be like going to sleep and never waking up, it simply wouldn't matter.

Do you actually want to live forever? If so... why?





The prob I read from lyv (and a little from yuor good self) is this readiness to express and defend athestic views, even to the point of confrontation.
Hence it - Atheism, become a badge of identity and such badge wearers fall into the same trap as the believers.

Another word for "badge of identity" is "label". Labels are useful, we need them. Labels are only bad if they're derrogatory (anti gay, anti racial, etc.), used to stereotype, or are misunderstood (which is common with atheism). If a label is misunderstood then debate is useless, hence why "that's just semantics" is a very poor argument. "Christian" is an almost pointless label to use in a debate because there are so many extremely diverse belief systems that identify themselves as christian. "Atheist", on the other hand is a VERY simple term that is widely misinterpreted. It is a singular statement that says "I don't believe your religious claims", or something very close to that effect. Anything beyond that is a matter of personal opinion. An atheist CAN believe in an afterlife (to address the previous post again). An atheist CAN believe the story of Jesus, minus the divine nature. An atheist CAN choose not to accept evolution, etc. etc.

Sure, the majority of us don't believe in an afterlife, and most of us accept evolution, but there are obvious reasons for that. If you are inclined not to believe in supernatural claims then you're unlikely to believe in an afterlife. With regard to evolution, the biggest barrier to accepting it as fact is a religious view that is in conflict with the scientific theory. As atheists, we have no such conflict, so we are very likely to accept it.

Moving onto confrontation and expressing our views. Our views conflict with religious views, it's as simple as that. There is conflict there, and so our only options are to be silent while opposing views are flung at us from all directions, or we can add our voices to the mix. If you think we should be silent, then perhaps you've never been forced to keep your opinions to yourself for a prolonged period of time. It's not an easy thing to do, and it can have a very negative impact on you. We all have a right to be ourselves, and we all have a right to speak up when we think that something isn't right.

I personally am not opposed to religious beliefs unless they are used to promote inequality, deny scientific facts, instill fear in children, condemn higher education, incite hysteria or rage, justify the killing of others, suppress freedom of speech, or cause harm through ignorance.

Oh and Dawkins has never been a proponent of erradicating religion, nor has he claimed 100% certainty that he is right.

JimmyB27
11-13-2009, 05:27 PM
Em , can't really think of anything to add.
'cept maybe that for 'non-believers' (or whatever the term is) you guys do have a lot to say bout belief in a God.:D
I think along the same lines as Douglas Adams did; "I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting. But it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously."

Oh and Dawkins has never been a proponent of erradicating religion, nor has he claimed 100% certainty that he is right.
True, but I do think he comes on just a wee bit strong sometimes, and ultimately probably does more harm than good to the perception of atheists.

Rhys Cordelle
11-13-2009, 05:40 PM
If people base their perception of atheists on one mans behaviour then the fault lies with them, not Dawkins. I hear what you're saying, he does come on strong at times (though Hitchens is more brutal), but he has a solid reason for doing so. He is challenging the notion that peoples religious beliefs should not be criticized. I think that's important. People should feel comfortable about debating their beliefs.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 06:27 PM
True, but I do think he comes on just a wee bit strong sometimes, and ultimately probably does more harm than good to the perception of atheists.

I disagree. In the US, many hold atheists in contempt, and a US President has publicly stated that he thinks atheists shouldn't be considered citizens. What harm can Dawkins possibly do with his long-overdue sledgehammer approach?

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 06:29 PM
I find this a really interesting perspective. What's offensive about the idea that you would cease to exist when you die? Is it offensive because it would mean your beliefs are wrong? Or is it offensive because the idea of non existence appalls you? If it's the former then I'd have to say get over yourself. Whatever the truth is, the vast majority of the population has it wrong. Heck, maybe we all do. If it's the latter, I can't see how the idea of ceasing to exist is somehow more offensive than the idea of eternal suffering. That is nonsensical. You may see eternity in heaven as preferable to ceasing to exist, and therefore find the atheist view offensive, but even then I find that hard to understand. After all, if you die and nothing happens, so what? You won't be capable of feeling ripped off, or let down. Besides, if you're right and you end up in heaven, are you really going to feel ok about the majority of the population (including people you care about) suffering in hell? That concept doesn't offend you?

Personally I think eternal life cheapens this existence. So whether it's the threat of hell or the promise of heaven, either way it doesn't appeal to me. What's so threatening about ceasing to exist after you die anyway? It would be like going to sleep and never waking up, it simply wouldn't matter.

Do you actually want to live forever? If so... why?Actually, you are arguing against a conclusion that I never made. I'm sure the fault is mine for not explaining it well enough. I said:

Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4255117#post4255117)
But when I said "fundamental difference" I was referring to the offense that some non-believers have over being told they will "go to hell", while at the same time they are willing to tell believers that the believers will cease to exist. If the first is offensive, then so is the second.
Notice I said "If" in the last sentence. Perhaps I should have included the counter argument: If the second is not offensive, then neither should the first.

I do NOT find it offensive if others believe I will simply cease to exist. Their belief has nothing to do with reality. Either I will cease to exist (as they believe) or I will go to heaven (as I believe), but their belief does not affect the reality in anyway.

That was my point. I have trouble understanding why atheists are offended by what I believe if they don't believe it. Unless I actually do something to force my belief on them, my belief should be of no consequence to them, just as their non-belief is of no consequence to me.

Now, a few pages back, Dawnstorm gave a cogent argument for why she found one offensive and not the other, but I'll respond to that directly next.

Paul
11-13-2009, 06:37 PM
Hi
It's actually time for my afternoon nap, however i'll try to get back later to clarify a few points. (didn't realise my prose was so obscure)
Two quickies
1/ Defend when neccessary is my point
2/ Everything has a label, but i refer to point 1/ (above)
Further elucid/elusive(?) comments later (smiley)

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 06:44 PM
I disagree. In the US, many hold atheists in contempt...

Personally, as an atheist, I hold activist atheists in contempt, too.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 06:48 PM
I have trouble understanding why atheists are offended by what I believe if they don't believe it.

If all Christians kept their beliefs to themselves, and did not try to legislate religious morality, then their beliefs would indeed be of no consequence to me.

Lyv
11-13-2009, 07:09 PM
I am not personally offended by what others believe. However, I do admit it gives me pause that someone could not only believe in a being who presides over a system they believe punishes nice people like me and billions of others who are just doing our best to be good people (atheists and believers alike), but then choose to worship that being. I won't be offended that someone believes I am going to hell. I won't even be offended that someone worships a being that set up a system that sends me to hell. I'm just puzzled over someone worshiping an all-powerful being who leaves in place a system that sends people like me to hell. If that's not what you believe, this doesn't apply to you. If it does, I'm not offended. Just perplexed.

Since this is the "Why do you believe what you believe" thread, this is pertinent...that's a big part of why I stopped being a Christian. I kept being exhorted to "save" my parents, who were two of the genuinely best people I ever knew. I kept being told to save them from Hell and there it was in the Bible--Jesus himself said that they were going to burn. At that point, it didn't matter if the Bible was true or not. My response to a deity who would send (or if you prefer, allow to go) people like my parents to Hell wasn't deserving of my worship. I'd always believed in a loving, forgiving God, and that didn't jibe with one who'd punish my parents eternally. That wasn't the end of my belief in God; that came years later.

Lyv
11-13-2009, 07:10 PM
If all Christians kept their beliefs to themselves, and did not try to legislate religious morality, then their beliefs would indeed be of no consequence to me.
Same for me.

DeleyanLee
11-13-2009, 07:13 PM
If all Christians kept their beliefs to themselves, and did not try to legislate religious morality, then their beliefs would indeed be of no consequence to me.

I feel I should point out that not all Christians do that, or even have the power to do that. I understand what you're saying--that Christians are in power in the US and unfairly write laws in accordance to their own belief system and ignore other options, which I agree with--but not all Christians can or would do this.

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 07:16 PM
As an "atheist", here's the difference I see.

Hell = punishment
Cease to exist = loss

Everyone has to deal with loss; only bad people have to deal with punishment. If you tell me that I'm going to hell, you're telling something's wrong with me. If I'm telling you that you cease to exist, I'm telling you we're all in the same boat.

Telling me that I'm going to hell unless I join the club comes across as a means of social control. How does the cease-to-exist thing come across? Social disintigration/chaos? "What's the point?"Christians have a lot of different notions about what hell is. The Bible is not very clear. Some believe it is a place of torment. Some believe it is "eternal separation from God" (whatever that means). Some believe it is simply extinguishment.

Jesus did not spend much time talking about hell, but rather concentrated on the promise of heaven. I generally take my cue from that. The positive message is more important, IMO.

Now, to the idea of "punishment". I've seen a lot of popular mis-understanding of what Christianity is and what it believes. I don't want to proselytize here, but this IS a thread about why you believe what you believe. But I'm not trying to convince anybody of the truth of this. It's just what I believe and what the majority of Christianity believes.

The basics of Christianity are these:

EVERYONE has sinned. (Romans 3:23)
Salvation is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8a)
There's nothing you can do to earn it. (Ephesians 2:8b)
So what exactly is sin? Sin is choosing to go against God's will. Okay, so there's another bit of Christian lingo that is often misunderstood. What does that mean?

God didn't create perfect humans (as some have pointed out here). He created humans with a choice of whether to follow Him or not. (It strikes me that creating humanity perfect and without the ability to defy Him would be far more cruel and draconian.) Whether you (the universal you) believe the story of Adam and Eve is literally true or allegorical, the fact is that all of us have done things we knew were wrong. We have harmed others, were selfish when we should have been selfless, or simply neglected to care when we should have.

So each of us has made with the ability to choose to not follow God's will. (And let me say here that many of the worst sins were caused by people who deluded themselves into thinking it was God's will.) But there is a consequence to not following God's will. We are no longer perfect, no longer fit to be with Him.

If that was the end of it, it would be truly offensive. However, God had a solution. All you have to do is simply choose to turn your life over to Jesus. What does that mean? It means that you trust Him to direct you life. As Proverbs 3:5-6 says (roughly) "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths."

So this option is a gift (called Grace) that God has offered to everyone. All we have to do is accept it.

So in answer to Dawnstorm's statements above. Yes, we ARE all in the same boat. We have ALL sinned. There is something wrong with ALL of us. You don't have to "join a club". Christianity (the relationship with God) has nothing to do with Christianity (the organized religion(s)). All you have to do is accept that offer. It's between you and God through Jesus.

It's not a matter of punishment, it's a matter of consequences for actions we've taken, decisions we've made. And still, God has given us a way around it.

It's true that Hell has been used by Organized Christianity as a bludgeon for social control. But don't confuse that with the genuine concern that many (most?) individual Christians feel for those who don't believe.

Once again, I'm not trying to convince anyone of the truth of this. If you don't believe in the Bible as God's word, then we don't have a basis for discussion. All I'm doing is describing how the majority of Christians understand the concept of sin and salvation.

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 07:24 PM
If all Christians kept their beliefs to themselves, and did not try to legislate religious morality, then their beliefs would indeed be of no consequence to me.Why should all Christians keep their beliefs to themselves anymore than atheists, agnostics, conservatives, liberals, environmentalists, gun advocate, and so forth? Democracy is about the free exchange of ideas so that the community can come to a consensus. Why should one segment be disenfranchised?

Rarri
11-13-2009, 07:31 PM
Why should all Christians keep their beliefs to themselves anymore than atheists, agnostics, conservatives, liberals, environmentalists, gun advocate, and so forth? Democracy is about the free exchange of ideas so that the community can come to a consensus. Why should one segment be disenfranchised?

There should be the ability to have discussion, debate etc, but some people seem to take this to mean that they can bludgeon others over the head with their beliefs; that's where i really take issue. I guess part of this - as with so many issues - is a small number misrepresenting the whole.

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 07:32 PM
Besides, if you're right and you end up in heaven, are you really going to feel ok about the majority of the population (including people you care about) suffering in hell? That concept doesn't offend you?Missed this.

No, I would not feel okay about anyone suffering in hell (assuming I believe hell is a place of torment, which I'm not positive about.) However, now you've placed me in a situation in where I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. (So to speak.)

You don't want people proselytizing you, that is, you don't want them to tell you about their beliefs. But at the same time, you take them to task for not caring whether others go to hell.

Which way do you want it? Do you want them to care enough to tell you, or do you want them to leave you alone to your fate (as they understand it)?

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 07:40 PM
If people base their perception of atheists on one mans behaviour then the fault lies with them, not Dawkins. So if people base their perceptions of Christians on the behavior of televanglists, the fault lies with them too?

Lyv
11-13-2009, 07:41 PM
The reality is, though, that only about a third of the world's population is Christian. Whether one believes the rest of us suffer in eternal, burning torment or are just thrust away by God, one is still worshiping a being that set it up that way and could fix it. As Roger said, the bible isn't clear about Hell. I agree, and further submit that it's not clear about many things, including some big issues. So, if it's so important that we all become Christians, and we know that most people don't, why not send down a better book? Take some other action that wouldn't take away anyone's free will, but still improve the stats a tad. All that power, and two-thirds of the world suffering a fate that (many? most?) Christians fear for us.

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 07:47 PM
Why should all Christians keep their beliefs to themselves anymore than atheists, agnostics, conservatives, liberals, environmentalists, gun advocate, and so forth? Democracy is about the free exchange of ideas so that the community can come to a consensus. Why should one segment be disenfranchised?

Personally, I wish they'd all shut the hell up.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 07:48 PM
I feel I should point out that not all Christians do that, or even have the power to do that.

I know, but I won't be satisfied until none of them do it, or have the power to do so.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 07:54 PM
Democracy is about the free exchange of ideas so that the community can come to a consensus.

Actually, democracy is just a Greek euphemism for mob rule. :) The United States is supposed to be a republic, not a democracy. It is supposed to be governed by law, not by men or by gods. And the law should not be based on one religion's morality, but be designed to protect the rights of all.

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 07:55 PM
I know, but I won't be satisfied until none of them do it, or have the power to do so.You won't be satisfied until Christians are completely marginalized? That's pretty scary.

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 08:02 PM
Actually, democracy is just a Greek euphemism for mob rule. :) The United States is supposed to be a republic, not a democracy. It is supposed to be governed by law, not by men or by gods. And the law should not be based on one religion's morality, but be designed to protect the rights of all.And where does it say that a citizen's opinion of what the law of the land should be cannot be based on their religious beliefs?

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 08:02 PM
Personally, I wish they'd all shut the hell up.Ferrets too? ;)

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 08:03 PM
Ferrets too? ;)

We're a pretty quiet demographic.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 08:06 PM
You won't be satisfied until Christians are completely marginalized? That's pretty scary.

Actually, I won't be satisfied until humanity as a whole grows up. I think it's time that individuals stopped looking to other people or gods for direction and purpose, and took responsibility for their own lives.

Of course, I probably won't live to see that happen, so I'll settle for being the change I want to see in the world.

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 08:06 PM
And where does it say that a citizen's opinion of what the law of the land should be cannot be based on their religious beliefs?

You know, it begs the question, which came first, societal morality or religious morality.

Thou shalt not kill... Thou shalt not steal...

We're those a result of already agreed upon societal rules or were they created because society itself was pretty savage and religion was created to set these morals?

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 08:07 PM
We're a pretty quiet demographic.Yeah, but sneaky.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 08:13 PM
We're those a result of already agreed upon societal rules or were they created because society itself was pretty savage and religion was created to set these morals?

Should we continue to depend on divine revelation/commandment for our ethics, just because our ancestors did? The same text that contained the words "Thou shalt not kill" also prescribed stoning to death as an appropriate penalty for all manner of crimes, including adultery. It also had guidelines for the proper care of slaves.

We cannot afford to live in a certain manner just because our ancestors did. This is our world now, not theirs, and we must find our own way.

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 08:32 PM
Should we continue to depend on divine revelation/commandment for our ethics, just because our ancestors did? The same text that contained the words "Thou shalt not kill" also prescribed stoning to death as an appropriate penalty for all manner of crimes, including adultery. It also had guidelines for the proper care of slaves.

We cannot afford to live in a certain manner just because our ancestors did. This is our world now, not theirs, and we must find our own way.That we don't have laws that include stoning to death for adultery and does not allow slavery, says to me that we do not continue to depend on the ethics of our ancestors. Question is, should we get rid of everything simply because it came from our ancestors (ie thou shall not kill...etc.)?

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 08:38 PM
Question is, should we get rid of everything simply because it came from our ancestors (ie thou shall not kill...etc.)?

No; we should find better reasons. Divine commandment is unnecessary. I refrain from murder because I respect the rights of other individuals to their own lives -- and claim that same right for myself.

It is possible for us to reason our way to an ethic that does not rely on the commandments of supernatural entities for justification. It's time we did so.

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 08:39 PM
Should we continue to depend on divine revelation/commandment for our ethics, just because our ancestors did? The same text that contained the words "Thou shalt not kill" also prescribed stoning to death as an appropriate penalty for all manner of crimes, including adultery. It also had guidelines for the proper care of slaves.

We cannot afford to live in a certain manner just because our ancestors did. This is our world now, not theirs, and we must find our own way.

That wasn't my question.

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 08:50 PM
No; we should find better reasons. Divine commandment is unnecessary. I refrain from murder because I respect the rights of other individuals to their own lives -- and claim that same right for myself.

It is possible for us to reason our way to an ethic that does not rely on the commandments of supernatural entities for justification. It's time we did so.Well, Communism tried to do that in the 20th century (the needs of the State replacing deity as a justification) with spectacular lack of success.

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 09:03 PM
Well, Communism tried to do that in the 20th century (the needs of the State replacing deity as a justification) with spectacular lack of success.

Well, it wasn't because the needs of the state replaced religion that caused its failure. It was that it also replaced individual rights, freedoms, and needs.

ColoradoGuy
11-13-2009, 09:11 PM
Actually, I won't be satisfied until humanity as a whole grows up.
As defined by you?
A:
I think it's time that individuals stopped looking to other people or gods for direction and purposeB:
. . . and took responsibility for their own lives.B does not preclude A.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 09:17 PM
Christians have a lot of different notions about what hell is. The Bible is not very clear. Some believe it is a place of torment. Some believe it is "eternal separation from God" (whatever that means). Some believe it is simply extinguishment.

The Jewish Bible doesn't mention Hell once, which is why the Jewish faith doesn't have a concept of Hell. If there was the prospect of eternal damnation or separation from G-d (same thing really), He probably would have mentioned it the numerous times the Jewish people were turning to sin and idol worship.



Jesus did not spend much time talking about hell, but rather concentrated on the promise of heaven. I generally take my cue from that. The positive message is more important, IMO.

Also, he was a Jew, and Jews don't believe in hell. In fact, discussions on the afterlife didn't start becoming prominent until Talmudic times because people just took it for granted that G-d would take care of you once you die.

I was going to comment on the rest, but I don't want to start a this religion vs that religion debate in a thread were the OP clearly asked for that not to happen.

Roger J Carlson
11-13-2009, 09:18 PM
Well, it wasn't because the needs of the state replaced religion that caused its failure. It was that it also replaced individual rights, freedoms, and needs.I didn't say that it was. I was pointing to communism as an

ethic that does not rely on the commandments of supernatural entities for justification. Removing "supernatual entities" does not guarentee a good outcome.

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 09:20 PM
Nothing guarantees a good outcome when you're dealing with human beings.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 09:26 PM
No; we should find better reasons. Divine commandment is unnecessary. I refrain from murder because I respect the rights of other individuals to their own lives -- and claim that same right for myself.

It is possible for us to reason our way to an ethic that does not rely on the commandments of supernatural entities for justification. It's time we did so.

This is funny to me. The Romans considered themselves quite civilized without any need for Divine commandment (their "state religion" was A. not widely believed privately, and B. consisted of gods so anthropomorphised that they could be swayed and manipulated by humans to fight against each other), yet they had a pretty clear love for violence with little qualms about killing men, women, children, or animals. When they would take a city, they would kill not only the people, but cut the dogs in half.

It hasn't been that long that killing for the sake of killing isn't tasteful. I think we take for granted the influence that the major religions had on that world view.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 09:28 PM
Well, Communism tried to do that in the 20th century (the needs of the State replacing deity as a justification) with spectacular lack of success.

Totalitarian systems of government tend to deify the state and encourage the development of a cult of personality around the head of state.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 09:33 PM
I didn't say that it was. I was pointing to communism as an
Removing "supernatual entities" does not guarantee a good outcome.

Nor does keeping them around. The Klingons had the right idea; they killed all their gods when they proved to be more trouble than they were worth. I guess the Klingon gods had the Klingons fighting amongst themselves over which god had the biggest dick instead of doing something more interesting like conquering the known universe. :)

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 09:34 PM
That's why it helps to know there's only One. :D

Paul
11-13-2009, 09:35 PM
I go for a brief nap and we moved on to Communism?

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 09:37 PM
That's why it helps to know there's only One. :D

Yeah, and I've been married to her for five years this past Halloween. :evil

Paul
11-13-2009, 09:39 PM
This is funny to me. The Romans considered themselves quite civilized without any need for Divine commandment (their "state religion" was A. not widely believed privately, and B. consisted of gods so anthropomorphised that they could be swayed and manipulated by humans to fight against each other), yet they had a pretty clear love for violence with little qualms about killing men, women, children, or animals. When they would take a city, they would kill not only the people, but cut the dogs in half.

It hasn't been that long that killing for the sake of killing isn't tasteful. I think we take for granted the influence that the major religions had on that world view.

Hey, you're not dishing the Romans i hope.
After all they did for us...

AMCrenshaw
11-13-2009, 09:43 PM
tangent: *I really wish we as a group could distinguish this subforum from p&ce.*

Paul
11-13-2009, 09:43 PM
On the Romans thing - it does beg the question why has humanity become so much nicer in general? (course there are those who might disagree (Rwanda, former Yugoslavia Darfur etc etc)
There seems to be a suggestion that it's down to religious beliefs. Personally i think it's because of the more efficient distribution of resources.

MGraybosch
11-13-2009, 09:48 PM
On the Romans thing - it does beg the question why has humanity become so much nicer in general? (course there are those who might disagree (Rwanda, former Yugoslavia Darfur etc etc)
There seems to be a suggestion that it's down to religious beliefs. Personally i think it's the more efficient distribution of resources.

Better distribution plays a role, but so does superior tech with which to increase the supply of resources.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 09:52 PM
Hardly. The Romans were incredibly efficient and very advanced in certain ways. By the first century I think, and definitely by the third, they had running water in every house in Rome. The technology they had and ability to distribute resources was incredible. Yet they had no scruples in killing babies that were ugly or just about anyone they felt like.

Paul
11-13-2009, 09:53 PM
Better distribution plays a role, but so does superior tech with which to increase the supply of resources.

Em ,well yes - it's a full bag of goddies - technology of all types, etc.
Food, warmth and shelter people. Then chocolate/gold/Ipod thingys.
Hey, is there a cause of war thread...?

(Only kidding)

Paul
11-13-2009, 09:55 PM
Hardly. The Romans were incredibly efficient and very advanced in certain ways. By the first century I think, and definitely by the third, they had running water in every house in Rome. The technology they had and ability to distribute resources was incredible. Yet they had no scruples in killing babies that were ugly or just about anyone they felt like.

I see. So are you saying religious beliefs is the reason humanity has 'become nicer'?

Paul
11-13-2009, 09:56 PM
By the way - just to mention this in case anyone thinks i'm doing a runner - the simpsons is on in 6 mins - so i'll be watching that.
I lead a simple life...

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 09:57 PM
I see. So are you saying religious beliefs is the reason humanity has 'become nicer'?

I'd say religious beliefs that focus on being a good person rather than getting what you want is a big factor.

Paul
11-13-2009, 09:59 PM
I'd say religious beliefs that focus on being a good person rather than getting what you want is a big factor.

Ok, hold that thought, need my Homer wisdom, then back:)
(see that clever reference to the Greeks...)

Shadow_Ferret
11-13-2009, 10:28 PM
That's why it helps to know there's only One. :D

because one is easier to take out than 12?

Alpha Echo
11-13-2009, 10:33 PM
Phew. I've read through the whole thing and find the conversation very interesting.


From the outside looking in it certainly sounds ridiculous, I'd agree. But I think it's important to keep in mind peoples intentions.

If I consider, for a moment, that I believed in a god, and believed in the concept of salvation and the threat of hell, then I would certainly be going to great lengths to prevent people from ending up in hell. I wouldn't want to sit by and let people destroy themselves.

That's why when someone preaches to me about why I shouldn't be a gay atheist (a.k.a. the "double whammy sinner") I'm not offended by it if I feel that they are concerned for me. If they're gleefully telling me that I'm immoral and destined for eternal damnation then I might not be so polite in my response

I appreciate this more than you know. That's the kind of understanding we should all have about one another.


Statistically, people believe in what they believe because their parents taught them to.



I agree with this, though I'm not so sure it's actually a belief people cling to but the tradition of it. I think there are some people, I won't go so far as to say many, that believe what they were taught growing up and never bother to really think about what it is they're believing. They just go with the flow - church on Sunday, grace before dinner, etc. Going through the motions without really considering whether or not they actually believe that which they are following or preaching or living.


I eventually came to the conclusion that God was real, but religion was not.

*snip*

The hypocrisy turned me away, but not away from God, away from men professing to be closer to God than me. Because their not, no one is closer to God than another, IMO. But I don't view God as a man in the sky who grants wishes, my view of God is cosmic, mysterious, and to a certain degree a part of all us.

I agree with this 100%.


As for the meaning of life. I don't think there is such a thing. It's a matter of motivation. You feel motivated to pursue happiness, companionship, excitement, contentment, comfort, etc. etc.

I personally feel that the concept of eternal life makes life less meaningful.

This is an interesting concept. Made me pause and think. My own beliefs have become more and more jumbled over the past few years, but I do see your point even though I'm not sure I agree. I'm not sure I don't agree, either.


If somebody persists after I tell them that I'm not interested, then they deserve any abuse I choose to heap upon them. I say this as somebody who has been given over 65536 copies of a Chick tract called "Dark Dungeons" over the last 25 years.

I understand this - you politely tell them you're not interested, but they persist. That annoys me to, in any areas of life. Guys hitting on me, for instance. But there's no need, IMO, in the animosity you feel.



Which is pretty much a load, you don't need to have a greater meaning to enjoy life. Enjoying a juicy steak is reason enough to live.

Enjoying life's moments is certainly a good reason to live. There are so many good moments to experience and remember.


And from the Christian's point of view, he is offering truth and the atheist is offering fantasy.

The Christian's solution is equally simple: If you want heaven, both now and the after-life, put your life in the hands of Christ.

But when I said "fundamental difference" I was referring to the offense that some non-believers have over being told they will "go to hell", while at the same time they are willing to tell believers that the believers will cease to exist. If the first is offensive, then so is the second.

Exactly!


That was my point. I have trouble understanding why atheists are offended by what I believe if they don't believe it. Unless I actually do something to force my belief on them, my belief should be of no consequence to them, just as their non-belief is of no consequence to me.


I feel the same way.

Now...as for my own beliefs, as I mentioned before, they are quite jumbled. I have a lot of questions and not enough answers to go with them. I seem to waver a bit.

I grew up in a Christian home going to a Baptist church. My parents were both Sunday School teachers, but they weren't what I would call hardcore. After my parents split, my mom stopped going to church for a long time. When we finally started going again, she'd done a 180. Now she's ridiculously right-winged and conservative and one of those Christians that are intolerant and whose opinions of what the Bible says and teaches us (she takes it all literal) are the only opinions that are correct.

I've swung the other way. I think because I have a more open mind. I believe in God - I can't look around at how this world works - our bodies, the ecosystem, the leaves changing in the fall - and deny that there's something greater pulling it all together. Something greater that created all that. How else can we explain that the earth's atmosphere has the perfect level of oxygen for us to breathe? By pure chance?

But I also have so many other questions. so many things I can't figure out. I guess my circumstances in life as well as the people I've met have helped to broaden my scope. I still have faith in God, but I question that faith. I don't have blind faith. I think that's healthy.

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 10:33 PM
because one is easier to take out than 12?

Not quite what I meant. ;)

Paul
11-13-2009, 11:43 PM
Anyway, back to Homer and the lads. Isn't there a strong influence on Jewish beliefs from the Greek/ Arabic/Indian thinkers from around 500 BC? And quite prob much earlier? I thought the Summerians were fairly influential also.
Didn't monotheism have a brief existance in the early Egyptian world?
What i'm saying is that thinkers throughout the centuries examined human belief and understanding, whether they were believers in a God or not. And that's the key issue - thinkers - those who examined the human condition. I've no prob with anyone who explores the HCon, whether its from a 'God exists' viewpoint or not is, but the key is pushing those boundries of knowledge.
THe Romans worked within the available philosophy (hugely supporting libraries and collections of knowledge) but their's was a socio-economic policy of 'first strike'. Pax Roma was at the heart of everything for them, as the alternative (cont. warring factionism) offer no opportunity to explore anything but the basics. As for the halving of dogs and ruthless killing - all part of a specific policy, employed before and since by many - nothing to do with a lack of a coherent monotheism
God, i love this thread...

semilargeintestine
11-13-2009, 11:58 PM
Anyway, back to Homer and the lads. Isn't there a strong influence on Jewish beliefs from the Greek/ Arabic/Indian thinkers from around 500 BC? And quite prob much earlier? I thought the Summerians were fairly influential also.

Yes, and no. There was a Hellenistic influence on Jewish culture, but the holiday of Hanukkah is actually a celebration of Torah-true Jews fending off the Hellenized "reform" Jews of the time from attempting to take the Temple. It's much the same today where American culture and the culture of any society in which Jews live try and often succeed in influencing us--yet, the Torah-true among us remain unchanged at the core.

As far as Sumerian influence is concerned, Abraham came from that area, so it's not only possible, but probable that many of his practices originated in Sumerian culture. There isn't anything wrong with that. Just because a culture isn't monotheistic or even believes in G-d doesn't mean they are necessarily bad people--just misguided.



Didn't monotheism have a brief existance in the early Egyptian world?
What i'm saying is that thinkers throughout the centuries examined human belief and understanding, whether they were believers in a God or not. And that's the key issue - thinkers - those who examined the human condition. I've no prob with anyone who explores the HCon, whether its from a 'God exists' viewpoint or not is, but the key is pushing those boundries of knowledge.

One Pharaoh (Akhenaten) attempted to gradually bring his people to a monotheistic religion by excluding all gods other than Aten, which he deemed higher than the rest. This was well after the time of Abraham, and he reigned at the time the Jews (not called Jews at that time) were in Egypt. He died around the same year as the Exodus.



THe Romans worked within the available philosophy (hugely supporting libraries and collections of knowledge) but their's was a socio-economic policy of 'first strike'. Pax Roma was at the heart of everything for them, as the alternative (cont. warring factionism) offer no opportunity to explore anything but the basics. As for the halving of dogs and ruthless killing - all part of a specific policy, employed before and since by many - nothing to do with a lack of a coherent monotheism
God, i love this thread...

The Romans lived in a world where monotheism was present. In fact, the Jews were the only people under Roman control who were allowed to keep their own religious practices and were not required to place a statue of the Emporer in their Temple. Even Caligula, one of the most ruthless and psychopathic people in history, relented when his advisors suggested he back off and not try to force the Jews to put a statue of him in the Temple.

Paul
11-14-2009, 12:39 AM
This is funny to me. The Romans considered themselves quite civilized without any need for Divine commandment (their "state religion" was A. not widely believed privately, and B. consisted of gods so anthropomorphised that they could be swayed and manipulated by humans to fight against each other), yet they had a pretty clear love for violence with little qualms about killing men, women, children, or animals. When they would take a city, they would kill not only the people, but cut the dogs in half.

It hasn't been that long that killing for the sake of killing isn't tasteful. I think we take for granted the influence that the major religions had on that world view.

My underline

Q:When is a poly not a poly?
A:When's she's a mono.

My point, that a lack of monotheism amongst the Romans themselves etc etc still squats/ stands

Bye for now - it's fri evening here - wine time (smiley)

Rhys Cordelle
11-14-2009, 12:50 AM
That was my point. I have trouble understanding why atheists are offended by what I believe if they don't believe it. Unless I actually do something to force my belief on them, my belief should be of no consequence to them, just as their non-belief is of no consequence to me.


But surely you can agree that not everyone is so unaffected? All an atheist needs to say is "I don't believe in god" and you can see the offence on peoples faces. I do understand the point you're making because I've often considered it. I can't understand why a christian would be so offended by me disagreeing with their beliefs, after all, if they're so sure they're right, what should it matter to them if someone else disagrees?

For me, christians bringing up the concept of hell in a debate offends me for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is generally used to persuade through fear. Rather than try to justify belief in their god, they take the much simpler path of using a scare tactic. This offends me because it insults my intelligence. I am not going to do a 180 and become a devout christian out of fear of the Big Bad.

It bothers me that someone can hold the notion of eternal torment, and that of an omnibenevolent, loving god in their minds at the same time.

It offends me that people think hell is fair punishment for anyone who falls in love with someone of their same gender.

It offends me that people inflict this hell belief on children.

It offends me that people think hell is fair punishment for a child victim of rape, torture and murder if said child could not differentiate between the bible stories and the nursery rhymes that were told to her.

It offends me that people think the rapist, torturer and murderer of that child can escape the eternal punishment that the child was condemned to if he repents for his actions, despite the fact that he robbed the child of ever having the opportunity to repent.


Missed this.

No, I would not feel okay about anyone suffering in hell (assuming I believe hell is a place of torment, which I'm not positive about.) However, now you've placed me in a situation in where I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. (So to speak.)

You don't want people proselytizing you, that is, you don't want them to tell you about their beliefs. But at the same time, you take them to task for not caring whether others go to hell.

Which way do you want it? Do you want them to care enough to tell you, or do you want them to leave you alone to your fate (as they understand it)?

McGraybosh said he didn't want people proselytizing. I think you'll find that I said I have no objection to it if people have a good motivation for doing so. But there is a big difference between someone who has genuine concern for my wellbeing and someone who gets a kick out of telling people they're going to burn for eternity.



So if people base their perceptions of Christians on the behavior of televanglists, the fault lies with them too?

Of course. One should never stereotype a diverse group of people based on the actions of a few.

Ruv Draba
11-14-2009, 12:51 AM
Darn you guys for posting while I'm sleeping.


I have trouble understanding why atheists are offended by what I believe if they don't believe it.So if I believe that ethnicity A is superior to ethnicity B, that's not an offensive belief if you don't also believe it?

Or if I believe that the Absolute Arbiter of Truth and Justice has blessed my empire and nobody else's, that's not a cause for metaphysical concern and humanitarian horror?

'I'm going to heaven' doesn't offend me, though I find it a tad arrogant. 'You're not' offends me, in the same vein as 'I'm civilised (which may be debatable) and you're not'. I resent being seen as the Christ-Man's Burden. By what right does a Christian man's opinion of my moral status trump my own?

Christianity is not the only religion that believes its people Chosen, Special and More Privileged by virtue of their Customs, Values and Beliefs. But that particular view has a long history of imperialism, paternalism and cultural supremacism.

Divine Privilege asserts Divine Right of Conquest. Religious empire amasses power to control the allocation of privileges to other groups -- especially privileges relating to belief, values, morality, lifestyle and social status. Christian and Muslim empires have done this for over a milennium, and now Israel seems to want to play too.

I personally hope that every Christian who wants to be saved is saved. I don't believe in heaven and it has no appeal to me but I don't begrudge it to anyone else.. But on my darker days I also wish that every theosupremacist who has ever sneered at me, trampled my petunias to come 'fix' me or shot me long, pitying looks were there already. I'd see that as a win/win.

MGraybosch
11-14-2009, 01:15 AM
MGraybosh said he didn't want people proselytizing.

I'd be happy if people stopped doing it to me. If you want to do it to others, I suppose I can manage not to give a shit. But what the hell is the point of proselytizing within the US? Most Americans can read. If they wanted to hear the "Good News", they could buy or borrow a Bible. There are churches everywhere; if people wanted to, they could just pick one and attend services.

So what in the names of all the demons ever worshiped by man do people think they are going to accomplish by acting like door-to-door salesmen and peddling God as if he were a vacuum cleaner?

Shadow_Ferret
11-14-2009, 01:19 AM
They believe they're SAVING you.

Ruv Draba
11-14-2009, 01:23 AM
Don't talk to me of heaven,
Though I hear it's very grand...
Because you know I can't inspect it --
You're just selling off the plan.

And I doubt I'd like the neighbourhood --
No atheists or queers.
No, don't try to sell me heaven...
I just think I'll time-share here.

TerzaRima
11-14-2009, 01:26 AM
MGB, either you live on campus at Oral Roberts University, or you emit some pheromone that makes you catnip to fundies. I've lived all my life in the Midwest, and I can count the times I've been proselytized on my thumbs.

MGraybosch
11-14-2009, 01:34 AM
They believe they're SAVING you.

What am I, a demon-ridden damsel in distress?

Lyv
11-14-2009, 01:38 AM
They believe they're SAVING you.
I get that. But those who believe we need saving must also consider the reality for those who aren't saved and the sheer numbers that encompasses. For those Christians who believe nonChristians need to be saved, they must think two-thirds of us need saving, and no matter how it shakes out, two-thirds of us aren't going get saved. That's billions of people who believe just as strongly that their path is the right one who are not going to escape whatever fate they're trying to save us from. And we're not the ones who set up that system. If whatever awaits us is so bad that all those billions of good people need saving from it, what does that say about the all-powerful being who set up that system and lets it continue?

For me, it's like this. If you (not you personally, but whoever) want to have an open exchange of ideas, I'll do that. You can talk about your beliefs and I get to talk about mine. You don't get to offended if I say I consider yours mythology, and I won't be offended if you say I'm going to hell.

And If you want to try to convert me, I'll respond, but I won't listen with my hands folded in my lap. Now, I can simply decline to have that conversation altogether or I can address your points. When I do the former, however politely I do it, I'm often accused of being rude. When I do the latter, however politely, I'm often accused of trying to shake a believer's faith.

MGraybosch
11-14-2009, 01:40 AM
MGB, either you live on campus at Oral Roberts University, or you emit some pheromone that makes you catnip to fundies.

If I lived anywhere near Oral Roberts University, I'd have gotten the hell out of there years ago. I'm going to assume that fundies can somehow smell apostasy on me. I wonder if it smells like sulfur.

Or maybe they see me alone and figure, "He looks broken; maybe he'll be receptive to our bullshit."


I've lived all my life in the Midwest, and I can count the times I've been proselytized on my thumbs.

Lucky you. I've only flown over the Midwest, and I've been given over 65536 copies of one particular Chick tract: "Dark Dungeons". I wish one of them would see my long hair and glasses and give me the tract about how heavy metal is Satan's favorite music; I'm sick of hearing about how covens use D&D to recruit people.

MGraybosch
11-14-2009, 01:41 AM
When I do the latter, however politely, I'm often accused of trying to shake a believer's faith.

I like to respond to that accusation by saying, "If a little chat with me can shatter your faith, then your faith was worthless and weak -- just like you."

Lyv
11-14-2009, 01:49 AM
I like to respond to that accusation by saying, "If a little chat with me can shatter your faith, then your faith was worthless and weak -- just like you."
I paraphrase that a tad. :)

MGraybosch
11-14-2009, 01:49 AM
If whatever awaits us is so bad that all those billions of good people need saving from it, what does that say about the all-powerful being who set up that system and lets it continue?

He's a tight-ass.
He's a sadist.
He's an absentee landlord.

Worship that? Never! :evil

MGraybosch
11-14-2009, 01:50 AM
I paraphrase that a tad. :)

You leave out the "worthless and weak" part? My dad took me to see Twisted Sister when I was 7, and it warped my fragile little mind.

Rhys Cordelle
11-14-2009, 02:15 AM
Don't talk to me of heaven,
Though I hear it's very grand...
Because you know I can't inspect it --
You're just selling off the plan.

And I doubt I'd like the neighbourhood --
No atheists or queers.
No, don't try to sell me heaven...
I just think I'll time-share here.

Hehe, that reminds me of a line from the movie Latter Days:

"Your church doesn't tolerate alcohol or homosexuals? Well I'm definitely not joining. I can't imagine heaven without both."

Melisande
11-14-2009, 02:43 AM
As for the meaning of life. I don't think there is such a thing. It's a matter of motivation. You feel motivated to pursue happiness, companionship, excitement, contentment, comfort, etc. etc.

I personally feel that the concept of eternal life makes life less meaningful.

I have to agree with this. I wonder how many people on this planet have put their lives 'on hold', expecting a different and more fulfilling one in the next. (I guess that this might also apply to some of the Eastern religions too, but I'm not sure about it.)

By promising people something different in an after-life, if they rigorously follow a very tight set of rules in this one, equals (to me) the ultimate cheat!

Shadow_Ferret
11-14-2009, 02:46 AM
I get that. But those who believe we need saving must also consider the reality for those who aren't saved and the sheer numbers that encompasses. For those Christians who believe nonChristians need to be saved, they must think two-thirds of us need saving, and no matter how it shakes out, two-thirds of us aren't going get saved. That's billions of people who believe just as strongly that their path is the righ

That won't stop them from trying.

If you were in a building that was burning and there were 100 people needing saving, and say given time constraints, you could only save a few, wouldn't you still TRY to save as many as you could?

Lyv
11-14-2009, 02:47 AM
That won't stop them from trying.

If you were in a building that was burning and there were 100 people needing saving, and say given time constraints, you could only save a few, wouldn't you still TRY to save as many as you could?
Not the point. And I wouldn't worship the guy that set the fire.

Shadow_Ferret
11-14-2009, 02:51 AM
Not the point. And I wouldn't worship the guy that set the fire.

It is the point. How is it not the point?

Melisande
11-14-2009, 02:53 AM
But surely you can agree that not everyone is so unaffected? All an atheist needs to say is "I don't believe in god" and you can see the offence on peoples faces.


Oh yes, I've seen it many times. Some people even pull back and refuse to say another word to me, as if I am a bearer of the bubonic plague or something.

IMO that's not a very Christian thing to do, because I'm being judged and condemned within fractions of a second and without a trial too!

Lyv
11-14-2009, 02:56 AM
It is the point. How is it not the point?
It's a bad analogy. The burning building is in fact the result of the god they're representing. They're PR agents for the arsonist, as it were.

Shadow_Ferret
11-14-2009, 03:01 AM
It's a bad analogy. The burning building is in fact the result of the god they're representing. They're PR agents for the arsonist, as it were.

Fine. Its a bad analogy, but its the best one I could think of to equate how they're trying to save us. :rolleyes:

Did you at least understand it or was it so far out in left field as to not make any sense whatsoever?

Lyv
11-14-2009, 03:07 AM
Fine. Its a bad analogy, but its the best one I could think of to equate how they're trying to save us. :rolleyes:

Did you at least understand it or was it so far out in left field as to not make any sense whatsoever?
I understand what you were saying, but it wasn't exactly relevant to my point. I don't have a problem with people quoting and responding to only pieces of my posts, but in this case, I think context was lost.

MGraybosch
11-14-2009, 03:10 AM
If you were in a building that was burning and there were 100 people needing saving, and say given time constraints, you could only save a few, wouldn't you still TRY to save as many as you could?

Nah. I'd call 911 and let the professionals deal with it.

Shadow_Ferret
11-14-2009, 03:13 AM
Some hero you are.

Rhys Cordelle
11-14-2009, 03:15 AM
Oh yes, I've seen it many times. Some people even pull back and refuse to say another word to me, as if I am a bearer of the bubonic plague or something.

IMO that's not a very Christian thing to do, because I'm being judged and condemned within fractions of a second and without a trial too!

Agreed.


It's a bad analogy. The burning building is in fact the result of the god they're representing. They're PR agents for the arsonist, as it were.

Also agreed.

With respect to the burning building analogy I do understand it. Most believers want to help others become 'saved'. Given that that is their motivation, it is a caring thing to do. What I struggle with is the reasoning behind their perspective. I question how certain they are of their beliefs before they try to convince others to join them. Have they read the bible in full? Have they investigated the origins of their faith and the differing viewpoints? I think it's fair to say that many christians have not delved deep into their own beliefs, and it bothers me that someone would claim their beliefs are right with such certainty when they don't know what their beliefs are based on. This is something I see a lot in fundamentalism.

Another thing that interests me is that the most common tactic people have used when proselytizing to me is to try and convince me of intelligent design. I'm not sure what the point of that is. If someone did manage to convince me that the universe must have been created by an intelligence then that would put me squarely in the category of Deist. It would do nothing to convince me of any religious claims.

Lyv
11-14-2009, 03:41 AM
Agreed.
With respect to the burning building analogy I do understand it. Most believers want to help others become 'saved'. Given that that is their motivation, it is a caring thing to do.
Oh, yeah, I get that. I just think they haven't thought it through. If they try to save me, I point out that I only need saving because their god set it up that way, and that billions of people will not be saved. I ask why wouldn't a loving god do something about the billions of good people going to hell or otherwise being punished. As I said before, I kept being told in church that if I didn't get my parents saved, they were going to hell. And that was in the Scriptures. I couldn't worship any being that wouldn't fix a system that would punish people like my parents and it colored the way I see conversion attempts. I see the good intentions, but I also see past them.

I do the same thing with intercessory prayer. If someone says she's praying for me, I'll acknowledge the intentions (good or smug), then ask just a couple of questions that have had some, er, interesting results.

Shadow_Ferret
11-14-2009, 03:44 AM
I ask why wouldn't a loving god do something about the billions of good people going to hell or otherwise being punished. As I said before, I kept being told in church that if I didn't get my parents.

He does do something. He just asks that you believe and then you're saved.

It's a religion that requires some effort on your part.

Lyv
11-14-2009, 03:51 AM
He does do something. He just asks that you believe and then you're saved.
And if you believe something else, like most of the world does, tough luck.


It's a religion that requires some effort on your part.
Ok, so I tried to believe and can't. I put forth the effort, I opened my mind and heart. I prayed, I studied, but I can't make myself believe something that feels false to me, that my heart and mind tells me isn't true. But here I am, a good person. As I said, I find it odd that people can believe good people like me are going to hell and worship the god who decided on this system. I don't get offended, I don't say people like that are wrong or hateful or anything else. I just find it odd, the way some people find atheism odd.

Rhys Cordelle
11-14-2009, 04:09 AM
That's a point I often raise. If the christian god exists then he knows exactly what I would need to see/hear/experience that would give me sufficient reason for me to believe in him honestly. As long as he continues to deny me that experience, he is condemning me to hell. I cannot simply start believing something I consider a falsehood without justification.

MGraybosch
11-14-2009, 04:47 AM
He does do something. He just asks that you believe and then you're saved. It's a religion that requires some effort on your part.

It's a religion that requires that I put aside rationality and accept a premise as true without evidence. It's OK for kids to do that, but not for adults. The stakes are too high.

I don't believe in God for the same reason I don't believe in Santa Claus.

entropic island
11-14-2009, 08:05 AM
If all Christians kept their beliefs to themselves, and did not try to legislate religious morality, then their beliefs would indeed be of no consequence to me.
THANK YOU.

I don't believe in religous systems, but I believe to let people believe whatever they want to. I only get annoyed when they try to convert me.

C.bronco
11-14-2009, 08:16 AM
I'm interested in the core reasons why you believe a particular religion to be true, or why you don't believe any religion, if that's the case. If a personal experience of divine revelation is the reason then I'm not going to try to dispute that, but since it isn't a convincing argument to make in favor of your religion (particularly to strangers on an internet message board) please don't post such reasons here.

As this is a discussion that could easily turn nasty, I'd like to state right now that I'd prefer it if people don't debate eachothers reasons here.

In my own case, I am an atheist, and I came to that position for a lot of different reasons, but the key reason for me is that I haven't seen convincing evidence to support the existence of anything supernatural.

As a side note, if anyone DOES want to debate with me about their religious views, I'd be happy to have that debate through private messages, but please try not to do it in this thread. Too many threads get closed that way.

Thanks all.
I had a "near death" experience, when I saw the Mack grill heading straight at me on route 80...

When we were being bombarded with chunks of the median, I thought it was over, and knew, without a doubt, there would be a place to go.

It was that certain belief at the time. It was that reassurance. There was a feeling of peace.

The eight lane wreck ended. I faced death. It wasn't bad.
Didn't get much for the Chevy, but I learned a lot about myself.


Plus, I five myself kudos for hitting the gas insted of the break.

Nateskate
11-16-2009, 12:25 AM
The Jewish Bible doesn't mention Hell once, which is why the Jewish faith doesn't have a concept of Hell. If there was the prospect of eternal damnation or separation from G-d (same thing really), He probably would have mentioned it the numerous times the Jewish people were turning to sin and idol worship.


Also, he was a Jew, and Jews don't believe in hell. In fact, discussions on the afterlife didn't start becoming prominent until Talmudic times because people just took it for granted that G-d would take care of you once you die.

I was going to comment on the rest, but I don't want to start a this religion vs that religion debate in a thread were the OP clearly asked for that not to happen.

I have a deep respect for Judaism and many friends who are Jewish, including a number of rabbis. Although the word "Hell" is not used, it is clearly described in the Old Testament. Also, I don't think it's fair to say that no Jews believe in hell. There continues to be many factions of Judaism, with divergent views.

From Daniel chapter 12: "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt."

From Isaiah 66: "Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched; and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind."

From Malachi 4:
"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Son of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall."

A rabbi gave me a kosher version of Isaiah, and there is virtually no difference, except that part of the name of the Messiah in chapter nine is not translated fully. And there is an astronomical footnote in Isaiah 53 explaining how it should be interpreted. But this passage also references a resurrection from the dead, because the one that dies also lives to see many justified.

Now as for the interpretations of what these passages mean to Jews and Christians, they may see them differently, but I think at face value that many can see how the "Christian" versions of hell were not pulled out of a hat. But also, Christianity was not even a gentile religion. It was considered a Jewish sect at the first. Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, to reference some that mention the afterlife and hell, were all Jewish.

Also, I beg to differ with your assertion that a concept of the afterlife did not exist until the Talmud was being written. Where do you suppose that Enoch went when God took him "up"? The afterlife is discussed throughout the Torah and the Prophets, as well as the Psalms, including the passages above, where Daniel is told that people will arise from the dust to everlasting life or shame.

The Dead Sea scrolls, which were written by Jewish Essene Priests before the Romans trampled the temple, confirm that the Jewish Old Testament, which many factions of Christianity have adopted, are very consistent with the versions of the Old Testament that many major translations of the Bible are based upon.

Freelancer
11-16-2009, 05:53 AM
Why do you believe what you believe?It's a secret why I believe what in I really believe, but partially because all religious systems are failed in my eyes and for my belief, for my own "religion" no one killed and no on started wars until this time. If others wants to hate or take out each other for their own God, for their own belief, do it. But do it silently and without me.

Roger J Carlson
11-16-2009, 07:37 PM
That's a point I often raise. If the christian god exists then he knows exactly what I would need to see/hear/experience that would give me sufficient reason for me to believe in him honestly. As long as he continues to deny me that experience, he is condemning me to hell. I cannot simply start believing something I consider a falsehood without justification.But that would be the same as giving you no choice at all. What would be honest about that? You reject Him (even denying His existence) and then blame Him for rejecting you. He says, "Here, this is the path to salvation. It's up to you", and you say, "Nuh uh. I'm going this other way."

Here's an old chestnut. Forgive me if you've heard it.

A man built a house on a flood plain. The spring rains came and the river rose to his doorstep. A firetruck came by and offered to take him to safety. He declined, saying, "No. The Lord will save me."

The water continued to rise so he went to the second story. Rescuers in a boat came by and offered to take him to safety. Again he declined, saying that the Lord would save him.

The water rose so the man had to climb on his roof. Along came a helicopter offering to take him to safety. "Nope. The Lord will save me."

Finally, the water washed away the house and the man drowned. He stood before the Lord and said, "But Lord, why didn't you save me?" And the Lord replied, "But I sent you the fire truck, the boat and the helicopter."

You've apparently had opportunities to hear about God, given your complaints about proselytizing. So far, you've rejected Him. Your choice certainly. But don't blame God for the choices you've made.

Roger J Carlson
11-16-2009, 08:00 PM
It's a religion that requires that I put aside rationality and accept a premise as true without evidence. It's OK for kids to do that, but not for adults. The stakes are too high.This is exactly right. In Mark 10:15, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

I don't know why, exactly, but God values faith over rationality. Perhaps it's because faith is the one thing He can't give Himself.

Edited to Add:

I got to thinking about my own daughter. When she was little, we used to have long talks in the car as I was carting her various places. Her childish ramblings were cute, but of vary little value, ultimately, to me. What I did value was the love that she had for me and the trust she placed in me. Surely, the creator of the universe needs little of my rationality. But love and trust are two things I can give Him that He values.

JimmyB27
11-16-2009, 08:10 PM
But that would be the same as giving you no choice at all. What would be honest about that? You reject Him (even denying His existance) and then blame Him for rejecting you. He says, "Here, this is the path to salvation. It's up to you", and you say, "Nuh uh. I'm going this other way."
Of course you'd still have a choice. You'd be pretty daft to take it, but it would still be there.

This is exactly right. In Mark 10:15, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

I don't know why, exactly, but God values faith over rationality. Perhaps it's because faith is the one thing He can't give Himself.
And yet he apparently gave us these fine, rational brains. What a tease.

MGraybosch
11-16-2009, 08:33 PM
I don't know why, exactly, but God values faith over rationality.

Then God is an idiot, and no friend of the human race. Rationality is what allowed us to be more than hairless apes.

Roger J Carlson
11-16-2009, 08:35 PM
Of course you'd still have a choice. You'd be pretty daft to take it, but it would still be there.

And yet he apparently gave us these fine, rational brains. What a tease.How else could we choose?

MGraybosch
11-16-2009, 08:49 PM
How else could we choose?

So, G-d doesn't want us to actually use the brains you claim It gave us?


Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.

JimmyB27
11-16-2009, 08:59 PM
How else could we choose?
If there were rational evidence in favour of god's existence, we could still choose to reject him. And, in fact, if a lot of what's in the bible really is true, I'm not sure I wouldn't do just that.

Roger J Carlson
11-16-2009, 09:05 PM
So, G-d doesn't want us to actually use the brains you claim It gave us?Not at all. As I said, how else can we choose, except we use the brains He gave us. But our brains produce more than rationality. They also produce emotions -- love, hate, compassion, and yes, even faith.

If I go back to my daughter -- when I said her ramblings were of little value to me, did I mean they were worthless? No! I treasured those talks with her. It was a joy to see her mind work, to develop and grow. But the actual knowledge produced were rarely things I had never thought of, and mostly they were pretty naive.

In all honesty, if she developed a brilliant mind as an adult, but turned away from me and repuditated me, I would be crushed.

MGraybosch
11-16-2009, 09:06 PM
If there were rational evidence in favour of god's existence, we could still choose to reject him. And, in fact, if a lot of what's in the bible really is true, I'm not sure I wouldn't do just that.

If every word of the Bible is true, and the Judeo-Christian god is real, then he is an enemy of mankind, guilty of crimes against humanity, and deserves not worship but contempt.

MGraybosch
11-16-2009, 09:08 PM
In all honesty, if she developed a brilliant mind as an adult, but turned away from me and repuditated me, I would be crushed.

And you assume that God would feel about humanity the way your'd feel if your daughter grew up and turned her back on you? Doesn't that strike you as a little arrogant, to assume God would feel as you do? Isn't there something in the Bible about presuming to know the mind of God?

Roger J Carlson
11-16-2009, 09:13 PM
If there were rational evidence in favour of god's existence, we could still choose to reject him. And, in fact, if a lot of what's in the bible really is true, I'm not sure I wouldn't do just that.I'm not sure exactly which things you are referring to, but you've obviously decided they are untrue. If you decided they were true, then obviously your conclusion would be different. It's sort of circular, isn't it?

Roger J Carlson
11-16-2009, 09:31 PM
And you assume that God would feel about humanity the way your'd feel if your daughter grew up and turned her back on you? Doesn't that strike you as a little arrogant, to assume God would feel as you do? Isn't there something in the Bible about presuming to know the mind of God?Well, the Bible is the mind of God revealed to us.

In John 3:16, it says that God loved us enough to send Jesus to die for us. In Luke 15, 11-31 (parable of the prodical son), God is likened to a father who rejoices when his son decides to return. (Notice as well, that the father in that story gave is son a choice too. He could have refused to give his son his inheritance, but he didn't.) Matthew 7:11 says "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"

The Bible often refers to God as a Heavenly Father, so I think it's safe to say my feelings as a father are much like those of God. We are made in God's image, afterall.

ColoradoGuy
11-16-2009, 09:32 PM
If every word of the Bible is true, and the Judeo-Christian god is real, then he is an enemy of mankind, guilty of crimes against humanity, and deserves not worship but the biggest thermonuclear weapon we can build shoved right up his ass without lube.
Rather than delete this silly invective, I'll let it stand out in the open for all to see. No further ones, though.

MGraybosch
11-16-2009, 09:45 PM
Please tone it down.

OK. No more thermonuclear suppositories.

MGraybosch
11-16-2009, 09:48 PM
Well, the Bible is the mind of God revealed to us.

Assuming you believe that:


God exists.
God dictated to those who wrote the books that comprise the Bible
God guided the Council of Nicea as they decided which books to include and which to leave out.
God made sure the translators didn't screw up.

As far as I'm concerned, the Bible is just the efforts of a few people to know the mind of God. It is the word of men, not God. I figure that if God wants me to know his mind, then he doesn't ned me to depend on the Bible. He could either tell me what he wants himself -- or send an angel.