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Help good ol' besson3c sort out his religious struggles
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Clinically Insane
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Jan 31, 2013, 07:28 AM
 
All of this is 100% sincere, no mockery, none of that sort of stuff - just straight and honest words from ol' besson3c's giant heart.

I'm agnostic. Religion has always seemed like a giant maze I cannot stop encountering, and one that to date has seemed like it has no solution.

There are people that I know and respect that have made religion work for them in enriching their lives in probably a number of ways. However, I know that I will have to make it work for me in my own way. It could be that they simply think it has enriched their lives when in reality they have just invented something for themselves, but I guess this probably doesn't even matter - we all live within our own realities.

My main problem is that I cannot turn off the skeptical side of me that wants to question everything in life - whether it is various traditions, ways of thinking, the constitution, the bible, whatever - I overthink everything, at times to my own detriment. I periodically revisit religion, and keep on getting trapped in that maze when I do. One suggestion I've heard is to start reading the bible and praying, but reading the bible just puts me back in the maze, and I've yet to have some sort of epiphany or life changing moment in prayer. It has been a while since I tried praying, but when I did it accomplished nothing. Am I supposed to pray harder? Maybe I was praying too hard? More maze paths...

When I say that I question everything in life, it is not out of beligerance or arrogance in thinking that I know better, I'm generally a humble person, but I just have to wrap my brain around things, and I have a very hard time turning that part of me off.

Because I cannot get through the bible without finding something I cannot accept and embrace because of this part of my brain (and the maze of trying to figure out what is metaphor and what should be interpreted iterally), I feel that church does me no good, and likewise for pretty much anything that one can say in terms of justification or explanation. In fact, many of the most outspoken religious figures make it all that harder for me to figure out a way out of the maze when they say something I disagree with politically or otherwise. The political stuff in particular really seems to draw me away from the maze though, particularly stuff like what the Westboro Baptist people say, whom I obviously disagree with. I'm politically independent, although probably somewhat left of center, and usually these people are conservative, although I'm sure that this is just because conservative religious figures right now are doing better with getting national attention, I'm sure I'd disagree with things liberal religious figures would say too. I'm sure over the course of history the sorts of parties affiliated with various religous issues have flipped back and forth over time. Watching the movie Lincoln and cheering for the Republicans reminded me of this

Going back to reading the bible, I sometimes feel it just doesn't work with people that have the same difficulty I have in turning off their brains. I don't mean to infer that the bible is irrational or that people who read it and study it don't think when they are doing so, it's just that you have to come at concepts like turning water into a wine from a different vantage point, right? Maybe this is an example of metaphor, but then, since we'll never agree or know what is metaphor and what isn't, what's the point? I can take the parts of the bible that work for me - the parts about being good and doing good things in this world, but I don't really feel like I need a bible to remind me to do good, and I'm generally not inspired by inspirational quotes anyway, I'm inspired by cool things that humans do that often aren't reported, or when they are are overly manipulated into being a touchy-feely sort of story designed to inspire us that sometimes disinterests me when it seems embellished.

All in all, I feel that religion is simply incompatible with me. All of the other religions seem to have similar sort of traps, except for Buddishm perhaps which instead just seems to make that maze even bigger and more confusing. At times I feel like I should just throw in the towel and call myself an athiest, but I don't really know that there is no god (am I supposed to capitalize the g? I'll never understand the whole Jewish not even wanting spell out the word "god" thing), I don't really know anything!

What I really need is some sort of defining moment in my life that many people that have found religion speak of. I haven't been able to manufacture that. If I were to have that moment, while that maze may still exist in my head, it may not matter as much, and I could probably be happy with simply not understanding certain things or not being able to rationalize certain things - perhaps there are some things in life that we simply do not have the capacity to ever understand, although I don't know that to be the case either

What should I do about this stupid maze?
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 10:23 AM
 
My main problem is that I cannot turn off the skeptical side of me that wants to question everything in life
If you're incapable of faith, you'll never fit with the Abrahamic religions. Maybe try Taoism or Buddhism. A lot of inflammatory comments in your post as well (i.e. "turning off their brains"), which could likely lead to people doubting your sincerity and accuse you of trolling.

Yes, you capitalize the letter "G" when talking about the Christian/Jewish god. It has nothing to do with respect, it's simply a proper noun. Atheists who don't aren't being clever, they're just showing their ignorance of language.
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Jan 31, 2013, 10:26 AM
 
The Bible? Nice book. Agnostic? What is the origin of complex specified information?
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 10:29 AM
 
Hi bessy. Why are you interested in "getting" religion? Is it a "because it's there" thing, like climbing a mountain? Or is it because you wish you had some of the happiness that religious people have? Or to impress a girl?
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 03:14 PM
 
You can't force faith. So not sure what you're hoping to gain here.

Sometimes I envy those whose faith gives them solace in times of trouble. Sometimes I indulge in a little prayer. But it feels like giving in to superstition - I also hold my breath driving past cemetaries, pinch a little salt if I spill some, etc.

There is good from the power of positive thinking and self-talk, so maybe prayer is a way to be more introspective of oneself, rather than expecting God to give you everything on a silver platter because you ask nicely. We know that doesn't happen.

Prayer is also a way to think of other people, while praying for those worse off it is hard to feel sorry for oneself. Thinking of the welfare of others is a good thing. It's what I try to do to fill that time in church when you're waiting for the faithful to get back from Communion and have run out of Hail Marys to say. (I don't get communion because I don't go enough to "earn" it.)

~signed, an agnostic Catholic
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 05:49 PM
 
Have you (besson) ever been to a Baptist church?
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 06:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
If you're incapable of faith, you'll never fit with the Abrahamic religions. Maybe try Taoism or Buddhism.
I don't agree. There are lots of ways to be Jewish or Christian. I don't need to tell you this, but there are lots of atheist/agnostic Jews who none the less maintain some measure of religious practice, and there are lots of Christians for whom "faith," isn't the issue, "community" is.

The problem is phrasing things as Abrahamic=faith, when you could just as equally say Abrahamic=practice and traditions.

Yes, you capitalize the letter "G" when talking about the Christian/Jewish god. It has nothing to do with respect, it's simply a proper noun. Atheists who don't aren't being clever, they're just showing their ignorance of language.
There's actually some debate over this. The Anglican bishop N.T. Wright uses "god" in all his academic works, which was my first exposure to this unusual convention. It is apparently becoming more common in some circles.

It used to be common to always capitalize certain common nouns like "King," and this is why "God" came to be capitalized in the first place. It's a hold-over from the King James Bible.
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 07:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
...and the maze of trying to figure out what is metaphor and what should be interpreted literally...
And that is why you fail. /yoda smirk

It's not that this isn't valuable, but the real question to ask is "how did the writer intend it to be understood." Because to simply conclude "it's a metaphor," then you have to ask "a metaphor for what exactly?"

You have to approach myth in the Bible the same way we approach other myths. Newton wasn't hit in the head with an apple, Washington didn't cut down his father's cherry tree, Archimedes didn't discover volume displacement while taking a bath, and Pythagoras didn't drown a student for discovering irrational numbers. You have to ask: why was this myth told? What was it trying to convey? What was the listener or reader supposed to get out of it?

Myths are almost always connected with specific practices. The six day creation story is linked to the Sabbath; outside that practice, the myth has no meaning. (Augustine rejected the historicity of the six day myth for logical reasons; if God is omnipotent, why did he need six days to do something that an omnipotent being could do in an instant?)

Sometimes, myths are about the rejection of practices. The sacrifice of Isaac is usually interpreted as the rejection of human sacrifice; Abraham grew up in a society where human sacrifice still happened. (But there are lots of interpretations about this strange story.) The water-to-wine myth makes no sense outside the rejection of Jewish purity practices; the water used wasn't drinking water, it was ritual cleansing water, a practice that Christians believed was now irrelevant. Yes, the story is supposed to be scandalous! They were drinking the water at a party instead of using it for accepted religious purposes! Imagine dropping by a church and dipping your coffee cup in the holy water and see what kind of reaction you'd get. The point of the story was: Jesus thumbed his nose at silly purity practices, and so should you. Jesus' clever party trick has no theological value beyond that. Metaphors don't have to be deep.
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 07:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by lpkmckenna View Post
Archimedes didn't discover volume displacement while taking a bath,...

He didn't? Do you know this or are you using a myth about a myth to make a point? That story seemed far more plausible than the others.
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 08:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post

He didn't? Do you know this or are you using a myth about a myth to make a point? That story seemed far more plausible than the others.
He really didn't. I'm reading a great book right now called The Cult of Pythagoras, which deals with the many myths about mathematics that have accrued over the years. (Short summary: great mathematicians aren't necessarily great historians.)

But yeah, not only did Archimedes not solve the problem of the gold crown this way, he couldn't have if he tried. The difference in water displacement would have been less than a millimeter, and thus not observable at that time. The book's author explains the actual solution, but I can't recall it right now.

The Cult of Pythagoras: Math and Myths by Alberto A. Martinez
     
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Feb 1, 2013, 12:43 AM
 
You've started threads like this before saying it wasn't for mockery purposes; then later in other threads posted mockery of religious people. So I'm skeptical, but as always I bite.

I was atheist once. I used to write papers in college about how delusional religion had destroyed the world. I studied to be a scientist. It was even a hobby my whole life, from reading blurbs on quantum physics to biology. So my view of the bible/religion/magic was similar. Church made me uncomfortable. Reading the bible seemed like a boring folk tale with no point. Believing in a literal 6 day creation and magic is absolutely out of the question for me... But if you've read your quantum physics you know that anything is possible (teleportation, transformation, multiple dimensions etc) without magic. So technically nothing in the bible violates the laws of physics. ( Hallucinogens may have helped with some of the inspiration, but it doesn't really matter. Take that how you will. )

Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
There are people that I know and respect that have made religion work for them in enriching their lives in probably a number of ways.
It could be that they simply think it has enriched their lives when in reality they have just invented something for themselves,
Atheists think the reason most people go to church is for the feel good of being reincarnated. Religousists lives have been enriched because religion has taught them a guiding system of beliefs that helps them make prospering yet moral decisions, through the day. With their fellowship backing their method of decisions, they can feel good about the way they live, and chase success. Or ways to deal with problems. There are fine lines between the decisions we make being right or wrong. People say they don't need moral teachings but I would contest them. Most people pick the more selfish, profitable, lazy way of doing things at the expense of someone else, rather than the way that pays less and benefits the most people for the long term. Do timeshare salesmen admit their business is morally wrong? Or do they twist the truth about their business to feel better with themselves and justify it to others. Lawyers... World trade workers... innocent... hmm... It depends. As easy as it may seem to be moral, people aren't; our whole society is built around the fact that we aren't.

but I guess this probably doesn't even matter - we all live within our own realities.
We have our own realities. You can stay within yours; just knock the walls down surrounding it. The trick is to find a belief that doesn't build walls. There is no one right religion, regardless of religious people contending this, their book doesn't back them up.
However, I know that I will have to make it work for me in my own way.
That's what Buddhism says. I recommend you start by reading some Siddhartha Gautama or other Buddhists who talk about the maze. Then read a non King James bible; then go to a church group to have it interpreted if you really wish to understand it. It has to be read in context. lpmekenna knows some of the correct context but he sees it through a certain lens based on preaching to the atheist choir books he's read.
My main problem is that I cannot turn off the skeptical side of me that wants to question everything in life -
My church teaches to never stop being skeptical. Question everything. Churches like that are out there. Don't get into analysis paralysis. Sometimes you have to accept things [in life] as you see them, details don't always matter, leave it as an unresolved question. You don't need a fully formed belief/opinion on everything (another Buddhist point).
One suggestion I've heard is to start reading the bible and praying,
That won't work. Maybe get an mp3 version for your car., as it's too boring for most people to read. If you haven't read the bible you probably wouldn't know the purpose of prayer; it's not to ask for things, since the deity can supposedly read your mind.
Because I cannot get through the bible without finding something I cannot accept and embrace because of this part of my brain (and the maze of trying to figure out what is metaphor and what should be interpreted iterally),
Very few things are to be taken literally in the bible. Since you weren't there when it was written, it is all hearsay if looking at it for literal historical accuracy. There is a point to the stories. It's not necessarily some deep metaphor either. You can't read it like a science book... or a history book. It's neither. But it provides some good lessons on all kinds of things, our relationships with people, business, forgiveness of others, economy, investing etc.. So many people feel enriched by it because they have put these lessons to use and succeeded where others who criticized them have failed. It's truthfulness is part of why we believe it was inspired by a supernatural being.

I feel that church does me no good,
If you're trying to understand it, you have to go to the study groups outside service hours. Service is mainly singing and praying which is pointless if you don't already 'subscribe' to that religion. Stay away from baptist and catholic. These aren't for your personality type.

Going back to reading the bible, I sometimes feel it just doesn't work with people that have the same difficulty I have in turning off their brains.
I have to turn my brain off when the hate inspired atheist intellectual elite think it's logical to recommend we tax churches. Kind of like how it would be logical to tax you if you decided to start a video game club at your house and had various people chip in to buy video games for everyone to use during club meet ups. Then You decide there's too many people at your house so for meet ups you have everyone chip in to buy a building and call it a church ... Atheists aren't as logical as they self proclaim either.

it's just that you have to come at concepts like turning water into a wine from a different vantage point, right?
If you don't understand it just skip it and move on, it's not that important. Don't strive for attention to detail. Always look for bigger picture... In all things. I've had the wine thing explained to me many times; it didn't stick, it reminds me of a pagan ritual, so I don't get wine with everyone else. I'm sure some Christians think I'm going to hell for it. Different churches have different explanations. I don't think God's trying to be cryptic and trick us with rituals, wording... dinosaur bones, laws of physics, evolution, whatever.
All of the other religions seem to have similar sort of traps, except for Buddishm perhaps which instead just seems to make that maze even bigger and more confusing.
No, Buddhism makes it bigger. Then it knocks down all the walls of the maze. The confusing part is when you look at Buddhism and start with the Dalai Lama rather than Gautama. Gautama was agnostic and didn't speculate much. From what I know he didn't believe in reincarnation (unless he changed his mind later in life). Reincarnation often thought of as Buddhist is a Hindu origin belief.
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Feb 1, 2013, 08:55 PM
 
The first thing I could say is, don't struggle with it. Some great points have been raised by all so there's not a lot to add, but I'd start by reading on ancient history, become more acquainted with the different time periods and cultures. I used to think watching baseball sucked until I had picked up more of the fundamentals of the game and enjoyed watching the number of "wins" necessary to score a point. This is good no matter which philosophy you look into. What you've read on prayer, not just from el, but pandi here in this thread has been great IMO. There's no harm in it. It's just more formal and potentially fruitful than the prayers you might say after stubbing your toe. If this moves you to break open the Bible, start with Mark. If stubbing your toe moves you to break open the Bible, start with John.

You're a fan of jazz and you play saxophone, there's absolutely no reason you would avoid a baptist church. You might learn a thing or two if nothing else. Enjoy thyself. And then go wherever else you want to go on Sunday mornings.

Serve others. Just start giving and helping out and seeing what you will. Get out. Be around. You'll find your way, young grasshopper.
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Feb 2, 2013, 04:40 AM
 
Yeah, I think he might dig the Baptist deal. Catholic Church is so... Catholic.
     
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Feb 2, 2013, 04:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
The first thing I could say is, don't struggle with it. Some great points have been raised by all so there's not a lot to add, but I'd start by reading on ancient history, become more acquainted with the different time periods and cultures. I used to think watching baseball sucked until I had picked up more of the fundamentals of the game and enjoyed watching the number of "wins" necessary to score a point. This is good no matter which philosophy you look into. What you've read on prayer, not just from el, but pandi here in this thread has been great IMO. There's no harm in it. It's just more formal and potentially fruitful than the prayers you might say after stubbing your toe. If this moves you to break open the Bible, start with Mark. If stubbing your toe moves you to break open the Bible, start with John.

You're a fan of jazz and you play saxophone, there's absolutely no reason you would avoid a baptist church. You might learn a thing or two if nothing else. Enjoy thyself. And then go wherever else you want to go on Sunday mornings.

Serve others. Just start giving and helping out and seeing what you will. Get out. Be around. You'll find your way, young grasshopper.


I'll start responding to the other messages in this thread shortly, but I can't let the saxophone thing stand, I'm a trumpet player

I've played or observed the music in a lot of Christian churches being a freelance musician, but the music has generally been lame, aside from Handel's Messiah. It would be fun to get into playing in a well-paying church gig with good music.
     
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Feb 2, 2013, 05:21 AM
 
Slide on down to the Triple Rock and get churched up!
     
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Feb 2, 2013, 10:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I'll start responding to the other messages in this thread shortly, but I can't let the saxophone thing stand, I'm a trumpet player
Good point. In that case, you may be more at home in a Circus troupe.
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Feb 2, 2013, 04:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Yeah, I think he might dig the Baptist deal. Catholic Church is so... Catholic.
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Feb 2, 2013, 05:28 PM
 
Read r/atheism, give up on religion.
     
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Feb 2, 2013, 06:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
You can't force faith. So not sure what you're hoping to gain here.

Sometimes I envy those whose faith gives them solace in times of trouble. Sometimes I indulge in a little prayer. But it feels like giving in to superstition - I also hold my breath driving past cemetaries, pinch a little salt if I spill some, etc.

There is good from the power of positive thinking and self-talk, so maybe prayer is a way to be more introspective of oneself, rather than expecting God to give you everything on a silver platter because you ask nicely. We know that doesn't happen.

Prayer is also a way to think of other people, while praying for those worse off it is hard to feel sorry for oneself. Thinking of the welfare of others is a good thing. It's what I try to do to fill that time in church when you're waiting for the faithful to get back from Communion and have run out of Hail Marys to say. (I don't get communion because I don't go enough to "earn" it.)

~signed, an agnostic Catholic

I feel the same way about envying people with faith who seem to lead enhanced lives because of it.
     
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Feb 2, 2013, 06:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
Hi bessy. Why are you interested in "getting" religion? Is it a "because it's there" thing, like climbing a mountain? Or is it because you wish you had some of the happiness that religious people have? Or to impress a girl?

I guess it feels like being a perpetual agnostic is sort of like being an undecided voter?
     
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Feb 2, 2013, 07:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
You've started threads like this before saying it wasn't for mockery purposes; then later in other threads posted mockery of religious people. So I'm skeptical, but as always I bite.

I was atheist once. I used to write papers in college about how delusional religion had destroyed the world. I studied to be a scientist. It was even a hobby my whole life, from reading blurbs on quantum physics to biology. So my view of the bible/religion/magic was similar. Church made me uncomfortable. Reading the bible seemed like a boring folk tale with no point. Believing in a literal 6 day creation and magic is absolutely out of the question for me... But if you've read your quantum physics you know that anything is possible (teleportation, transformation, multiple dimensions etc) without magic. So technically nothing in the bible violates the laws of physics. ( Hallucinogens may have helped with some of the inspiration, but it doesn't really matter. Take that how you will. )


Atheists think the reason most people go to church is for the feel good of being reincarnated. Religousists lives have been enriched because religion has taught them a guiding system of beliefs that helps them make prospering yet moral decisions, through the day. With their fellowship backing their method of decisions, they can feel good about the way they live, and chase success. Or ways to deal with problems. There are fine lines between the decisions we make being right or wrong. People say they don't need moral teachings but I would contest them. Most people pick the more selfish, profitable, lazy way of doing things at the expense of someone else, rather than the way that pays less and benefits the most people for the long term. Do timeshare salesmen admit their business is morally wrong? Or do they twist the truth about their business to feel better with themselves and justify it to others. Lawyers... World trade workers... innocent... hmm... It depends. As easy as it may seem to be moral, people aren't; our whole society is built around the fact that we aren't.


We have our own realities. You can stay within yours; just knock the walls down surrounding it. The trick is to find a belief that doesn't build walls. There is no one right religion, regardless of religious people contending this, their book doesn't back them up.

That's what Buddhism says. I recommend you start by reading some Siddhartha Gautama or other Buddhists who talk about the maze. Then read a non King James bible; then go to a church group to have it interpreted if you really wish to understand it. It has to be read in context. lpmekenna knows some of the correct context but he sees it through a certain lens based on preaching to the atheist choir books he's read.

My church teaches to never stop being skeptical. Question everything. Churches like that are out there. Don't get into analysis paralysis. Sometimes you have to accept things [in life] as you see them, details don't always matter, leave it as an unresolved question. You don't need a fully formed belief/opinion on everything (another Buddhist point).
That won't work. Maybe get an mp3 version for your car., as it's too boring for most people to read. If you haven't read the bible you probably wouldn't know the purpose of prayer; it's not to ask for things, since the deity can supposedly read your mind.

Very few things are to be taken literally in the bible. Since you weren't there when it was written, it is all hearsay if looking at it for literal historical accuracy. There is a point to the stories. It's not necessarily some deep metaphor either. You can't read it like a science book... or a history book. It's neither. But it provides some good lessons on all kinds of things, our relationships with people, business, forgiveness of others, economy, investing etc.. So many people feel enriched by it because they have put these lessons to use and succeeded where others who criticized them have failed. It's truthfulness is part of why we believe it was inspired by a supernatural being.


If you're trying to understand it, you have to go to the study groups outside service hours. Service is mainly singing and praying which is pointless if you don't already 'subscribe' to that religion. Stay away from baptist and catholic. These aren't for your personality type.


I have to turn my brain off when the hate inspired atheist intellectual elite think it's logical to recommend we tax churches. Kind of like how it would be logical to tax you if you decided to start a video game club at your house and had various people chip in to buy video games for everyone to use during club meet ups. Then You decide there's too many people at your house so for meet ups you have everyone chip in to buy a building and call it a church ... Atheists aren't as logical as they self proclaim either.


If you don't understand it just skip it and move on, it's not that important. Don't strive for attention to detail. Always look for bigger picture... In all things. I've had the wine thing explained to me many times; it didn't stick, it reminds me of a pagan ritual, so I don't get wine with everyone else. I'm sure some Christians think I'm going to hell for it. Different churches have different explanations. I don't think God's trying to be cryptic and trick us with rituals, wording... dinosaur bones, laws of physics, evolution, whatever.

No, Buddhism makes it bigger. Then it knocks down all the walls of the maze. The confusing part is when you look at Buddhism and start with the Dalai Lama rather than Gautama. Gautama was agnostic and didn't speculate much. From what I know he didn't believe in reincarnation (unless he changed his mind later in life). Reincarnation often thought of as Buddhist is a Hindu origin belief.


Thanks el chupacabra, this post really gave me a lot to think about. It seems like you sort of emphasize with me here a little...

I struggle with some of the things you are getting at here though.

First of all, perhaps I don't face many moral dilemmas in my life, but I haven't made many incidents that have challenged me morally, and no decisions have popped into my mind that have made me lose sleep in terms of questioning the morality of my decision. Sure, there have been times when I've offended people and gotten into trouble with certain opinions, but that is a little different than the sorts of larger moral issues the bible addresses. Therefore, I've never really felt like I've needed some sort of moral compass.

That isn't to say that I'm not, as a Christian might say, a "sinner", but getting a stiffy over looking at some hot woman while I'm married is of the fairly minor variety of "sin". The whole concept of living life worrying about displeasing a deity with acts I'd justify as pretty benign is a little hard, ya know?

Moreover, all religions are basically there to help us lead more moral lives, right? If a primary purpose of religion is to instill morality, why should I choose one particular religion over another, and should I ignore the people that believe that there is one true religion, and that I really need to put a lot of careful consideration into which one I commit myself to, as opposed to going with whichever one works for me at that time in my life?

Finally, if I'm supposed to move on with various passages in the bible, which I'm interpreting to mean don't assign too much meaning to, why read it at all? There are those that say you shouldn't just cherry pick bits out of the bible you feel are of particular importance and relevance. If I'm going to be open about not assigning a whole lot of value to certain parts of the bible, this seems to be like I'm sort of be swimming against the tide, and it will always be hard for me to feel like I "belong" as a Christian when the majority will probably disagree with me.

I guess it's not important that I attend church or go with the flow, but I think I'd probably feel awkward about even calling myself a Christian if I need to include so many qualifications and exceptions to how I go about it. Maybe another religion would serve me better? The problem is, I suspect that most religions have elements of mysticism that I'd probably have to "move on" from the same way.

Any suggestions?
     
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Feb 2, 2013, 07:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
Good point. In that case, you may be more at home in a Circus troupe.

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Feb 2, 2013, 07:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Read r/atheism, give up on religion.
That place is a sh!thole. It's ok if you need to vent, but it's not a place to gather accurate data and analysis about religion, that's for sure.
     
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Feb 2, 2013, 09:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Read r/atheism
I'm an atheist (essentially), and to paraphrase James Woods, I'd rather you tied my dick to a tailpipe and dragged me naked on broken glass.
     
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Feb 2, 2013, 10:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Read r/atheism, give up on religion.
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Feb 3, 2013, 05:00 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
perhaps I don't face many moral dilemmas in my life, but I haven't made many incidents that have challenged me morally, and no decisions have popped into my mind that have made me lose sleep in terms of questioning the morality of my decision. Sure, there have been times when I've offended people and gotten into trouble with certain opinions, but that is a little different than the sorts of larger moral issues the bible addresses. Therefore, I've never really felt like I've needed some sort of moral compass.
I won't try to convince you you need a moral compass. I'll try to illustrate examples as to why I think most people, or society does. One point I have to make with the bible is, it redefines, or expands, what we generally consider moral (which I can't sum up very well).

Earlier today some guy decided to make a last minute swerve in front of me and another car. By his driving It seemed he was lost and getting frustrated. After his stunt I ended up next to him at the light and as I drove up I could see he expected the bird. He did the piece sign with an apologetic look on his face. I believe he sincerely didn't mean to cause an accident, scare anyone, or inconvenience anyone. However, this wasn't a case where he looked both ways and really didn't see the cars coming. What he did wasn't a mistake. Had he killed someone it would have been do to a conscious decision to gamble with the traffic.

Every little sin adds up. Throwing a cig butt out the window probably wont do anything but it could start a fire. Everyone knows cleaning up after their dog is the right thing to do yet most people don't...

Often we don't realize these little ways we inconvenience the world, when we don't see anything immediately significant come it. The bible teaches us to be more aware of these things, so we can address them, by being more humble, by being less offended/angry when someone disrespects or swindles us, by realizing there is some truth to negative things people think, or say about us. By encouraging us to help others even if they wont immediately appreciate it.

Here's how I think of it:


If someone is feeling lazy one night and decides to leave a bottle on the ground somewhere, is this just a petty sin? It depends how you look at it. As the Buddha would say regarding our viewpoint on situations, "who knows whats good or bad". Something you may think of as bad could cause something good, something you may think of as petty could turn out to be something big. One individual piece of litter makes little difference, and especially wouldn't make a difference say 400 years ago, but when many individuals litter you have a major problem. So is an innocent tossing of a bottle a petty sin or major one, in an age when we know how we have to behave to sustain all of us?

Sin is like this litter on the beach. 1 sin seems petty but when people dismiss it, and with everyone doing it, it ruins the beach. When people think it's petty, people do it more, which ruins the beach more. (wait thats not a beach is it.. oh well)

That isn't to say that I'm not, as a Christian might say, a "sinner", but getting a stiffy over looking at some hot woman while I'm married is of the fairly minor variety of "sin". The whole concept of living life worrying about displeasing a deity with acts I'd justify as pretty benign is a little hard, ya know?
This is another myth about Christianity. It's not about worrying about displeasing the deity. As you know the idea is to just ask for forgiveness and you're ok by deity. Also once you understand why what you did was wrong, naturally you wont want to do it as often, or ever again in some cases.. Obviously there's more too it than what we can ever go over in a post... it's a whole book, so what I say isn't absolute or anything.

Speaking of benign sin, the original sin was biting an apple. This is one of those examples where I can demonstrate how you don't have to take it literally to get something from it. They did some petty sin that may or may not have actually been eating an apple that a talking snake convinced them to do. The word devil means truth-twister, slanderer, liar. The snake didn't technically lie; he twisted the truth. He said “You will not certainly die, For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The woman re-analyzed the apple saw it was good for health, pretty, (typical things women care about) and justified eating it. She took it to Adam and like a man when he heard it would make him know good and evil like a god he ate it. They didn't die in the sense they were thinking. In the story the snake represents the temptation thats born in all of us, the apple represents the seed of sin that starts out insignificant but grows until it consumes and kills us. Anyway thats my blurb on the issue of petty sin...
Moreover, all religions are basically there to help us lead more moral lives, right?
Well there's quite a bit more to it than that.
If a primary purpose of religion is to instill morality,
I'm not sure that's the primary purpose; of course the philosophy is all fluid so it's hard to say what the primary purpose is.
why should I choose one particular religion over another
2 answers:

1. You should choose the one closest to you that you have easiest access to.
2. You shouldn't choose any one; it's not to be forced. All I ask is that you be open to them all when you travel around and they present themselves to you. Then pick your own path and go to where it leads you. Everybody is their own personal religion anyway. Even if you pick say, baptist, and only believe 10% of what they say, doesn't mean you aren't gaining anything from it, doesn't mean you don't fit in.

This reminds me of the book Three Cups of Tea, (true story) where a Christian goes overseas for thrill seeking and ends up living with Muslims for a while. He doesn't give up his religion but he sort of adds some Islam to his philosophy and becomes a new person.

If you're genuinely interested I would recommend you just start reading Buddhist philosophy. Because it's already compatible with your way of thinking. In Buddhism you can be atheist, agnostic, christian, Islam, Taoist, Jewish, Hindu etc. it's the pick your own path philosophy that may end up with you choosing a religion, but in any case you'll get bits and pieces of them all.
and should I ignore the people that believe that there is one true religion, and that I really need to put a lot of careful consideration into which one I commit myself to, as opposed to going with whichever one works for me at that time in my life?
Dont need to ignore anyone, listen to what people have to say then believe what makes sense to you. Does the idea of an ultimate-in-goodness-god designating only 1 true religion as right and the rest sending you to a fiery pit make any sense?
if I'm supposed to move on with various passages in the bible, which I'm interpreting to mean don't assign too much meaning to, why read it at all?
Well there is meaning to all the passages. When I was talking about not assigning too much meaning to stuff, I was talking about assigning too much meaning to literal interpretation in the bible; not the overall point of the passage. If you don't understand it just skip it, because it will come up again later even if you dont return to it yourself. Why you should read it at all is because the stories have a moral or lesson. If you're not interested in that then you won't enjoy reading it at all. And who do you think you're kidding anyway, even if you joined Christianity you would never consider the bible a history book, you would never believe in talking snakes, goats, bushes, magic anyway; so there's no sense in pretending those things are worth getting hung up on. Im sure there's a scientific explanation for how the red sea parted by an extra low tide; and there's no reason why a god couldn't have something to do with it too... without using magic.
There are those that say you shouldn't just cherry pick bits out of the bible you feel are of particular importance and relevance.
Im not saying to cherry pick. Im saying to follow the overall larger picture of the passages and not focus on the details of how they got their. Those people in the old days had their own interpretation of the events surrounding the natural world which are going to be different than what we understand. I don't think anyone is going to lose browny points with God because they don't trust the exact age or lineage of Jacob or whoever. They will lose browny points however if they interpret a story in a way that suits their own selfish interests.

If I'm going to be open about not assigning a whole lot of value to certain parts of the bible, this seems to be like I'm sort of be swimming against the tide, and it will always be hard for me to feel like I "belong" as a Christian when the majority will probably disagree with me.
There's all different sects of Christians who have no problem disagreeing with each other. Do you really need to feel that you belong anyway?
I guess it's not important that I attend church or go with the flow, but I think I'd probably feel awkward about even calling myself a Christian if I need to include so many qualifications and exceptions to how I go about it. Maybe another religion would serve me better? The problem is, I suspect that most religions have elements of mysticism that I'd probably have to "move on" from the same way.

Any suggestions?
Buddha will free your mind; and answer all of these questions, even about the bible and Christianity.
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Feb 3, 2013, 06:19 AM
 
el chupacabra, how would you characterize your own beliefs? You seem like a mixture of Buddhism and Christianity?

You know, maybe religion is like music, and it is best to just say **** the labels and classifications?
     
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Feb 3, 2013, 06:37 AM
 
Also, is murdering a hobo a sin?
     
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Feb 3, 2013, 09:17 AM
 
To el chupacabra: it was a valiant effort brother. I think you've exhausted besson's attention span and that's generally when the mockery comes out.
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Feb 3, 2013, 02:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Also, is murdering a hobo a sin?
Only if you enjoy it.
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Feb 3, 2013, 03:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
To el chupacabra: it was a valiant effort brother. I think you've exhausted besson's attention span and that's generally when the mockery comes out.
I kinda saw it coming; it doesn't help that I write like a child with my dementia setting in and all. The thing is I take these opportunities (knowing it may be to make a laughing stock of some of us), because everything I say has been written or said more eloquently before by big name people other than some random guy on a forum. All the questions atheists ask are addressed in all the religious text and easily google-able; and yet they still ask them. Which demonstrates they're not really interested in it. Atheists everywhere continue to believe completely incorrect information about the bible (and all religions for that matter); so if they take the time to engage even if just to get a laugh, at least they're somewhat forced to absorb bits and pieces of the true context/meaning in the process.

I'm not trying to convert anyone to religion, but I have to admit it'd be nice if everyone who has a problem with the beliefs of others would at least study Buddhist philosophy. It's presented clear, concise, simple, and all religions would be able to get along. More and more though, I'm getting that atheists don't want that. That's no fun.
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Feb 3, 2013, 03:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Moreover, all religions are basically there to help us lead more moral lives, right?
I'm not really sure where this idea comes from other than a lot of religious people say it when defending the modern relevance of their beliefs. If you're talking about the Abrahamic religions, most classic comic book superheroes would wipe the floor with them in terms of who teaches the better morals, as would Star Trek. I am not trying to mock anyone when I say that, I'm absolutely serious. The bible is chock full of spite, hatred, petty jealousy and vengeance (all on the part of God), not to mention misogyny and homophobia is still endorsed by a great many christian leaders including the pope. Great morals there.

As for what religion is actually for, my suspicion is that most began as sets of hypotheses to answer questions that people otherwise could not. Somewhere down the line those proposing these hypotheses realised they were in possession of a powerful control mechanism and it has been abused ever since to muster power and wealth and influence to keep populations in line. They say moral, but they mean obedient. Odd that it remains so much more prevalent in the land of the free than in other developed countries.


Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Finally, if I'm supposed to move on with various passages in the bible, which I'm interpreting to mean don't assign too much meaning to, why read it at all? There are those that say you shouldn't just cherry pick bits out of the bible you feel are of particular importance and relevance. If I'm going to be open about not assigning a whole lot of value to certain parts of the bible, this seems to be like I'm sort of be swimming against the tide, and it will always be hard for me to feel like I "belong" as a Christian when the majority will probably disagree with me.
Picking and choosing from the bible is not just optional, its mandatory. Even people who claim to take it will inevitably fail to do so. Its full of contradictions and they aren't minor technicalities, some are massive and fundamental.
For example, God is supposed to be completely infallible, yet the spite and pettiness he shows in the old testament is the polar opposite to the attitude of kindness and forgiveness shown by Jesus in the new testament. So Jesus has corrected his infallible father or God has corrected himself, either way god is fallible. Also the "religion of forgiveness" is set up around a god that is still holding all humans responsible for the sins of one of their distant ancestors. Not very forgiving is it?

If religion did begin by answering questions, then when it began it was no different from science, or at least it was our first attempt at science. People performed rituals to get favourable harvests or stop a volcano from killing them. They spotted a correlation and they tested it for consistency. They sucked at spotting those correlations and sucked even harder at testing them, but practice makes perfect right? Now we have much better science to answer our questions so religion in its purest form or purest purpose is no longer necessary or relevant. All that is left is the perverse aspects which spread not only lies but ignorance itself.

For the intellectually honest, religion and faith cannot be a choice. If you experience something you consider inexplicable or holy then by all means take up religion, but if you believe it can be explained by something other than a supernatural omnipotent being then just stick to agnosticism or atheism. If you are a man of questions, why on Earth you'd seek to adopt any philosophy that fears and hides from them is beyond me. Closing an open mind is a big step backwards.
Whatever you think it is that these people you know are getting from their religion that you don't have, I am absolutely certain you can get it without religion.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Feb 3, 2013, 04:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
To el chupacabra: it was a valiant effort brother. I think you've exhausted besson's attention span and that's generally when the mockery comes out.

What the hell ebuddy? A silly digression is not mockery, nor does indicate my interest in a subject is waning.
     
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Feb 3, 2013, 04:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
I kinda saw it coming; it doesn't help that I write like a child with my dementia setting in and all. The thing is I take these opportunities (knowing it may be to make a laughing stock of some of us), because everything I say has been written or said more eloquently before by big name people other than some random guy on a forum. All the questions atheists ask are addressed in all the religious text and easily google-able; and yet they still ask them. Which demonstrates they're not really interested in it. Atheists everywhere continue to believe completely incorrect information about the bible (and all religions for that matter); so if they take the time to engage even if just to get a laugh, at least they're somewhat forced to absorb bits and pieces of the true context/meaning in the process.

I'm not trying to convert anyone to religion, but I have to admit it'd be nice if everyone who has a problem with the beliefs of others would at least study Buddhist philosophy. It's presented clear, concise, simple, and all religions would be able to get along. More and more though, I'm getting that atheists don't want that. That's no fun.


Why are you conflating me as an atheist? I'm not an atheist, I'm an agnostic.

I'm also not hostile to Christians. If I was I wouldn't have acknowledged the enhancement it has had on lives. I'm hostile to viewpoints that start to impact politics, viewpoints that offend me, or are otherwise silly, but as you've been rightly pointing out my gravitation towards labels and classification is a flaw of mine. It is possible to be a Christian, a Buddhist, a whatever without being unreasonable. You've actually underscored that there are many ways to be a Christian other than the traditional archetype.
     
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Feb 3, 2013, 04:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
What the hell ebuddy? A silly digression is not mockery, nor does indicate my interest in a subject is waning.
A silly digression using an important tenet of one's faith is in fact, mocking that tenet. While not really offensive, it doesn't have to be. It was an absurd misrepresentation and is mockery by definition. Whether or not you thought it was funny is besides the point. I'm glad you're not losing interest as that would be awfully deceitful under the guise of genuine interest.
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Feb 3, 2013, 05:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
A silly digression using an important tenet of one's faith is in fact, mocking that tenet. It was an absurd misrepresentation or imitation of something and is mockery by definition. Whether or not you thought it was funny is besides the point.

Please. The word "sin" has been appropriated for very generic, non-religious specific contexts too, you know.

Stop being uptight. These sorts of attitudes of demanding reverence to dogma are probably in part why I'm such damaged goods when it comes to figuring out religion for myself.
     
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Feb 3, 2013, 05:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Why are you conflating me as an atheist? I'm not an atheist, I'm an agnostic.
.
Because I wasn't limiting my comments to just you, but the atheist argument in general. It's on these forums a lot; and from what people post on the net, the problems people seem to have with religion are all about the same.
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Feb 3, 2013, 05:51 PM
 
Why is it that the american suspicion and distrust of government doesn't seem to extend to church leaders and organised religion?
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Feb 3, 2013, 06:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
The bible is chock full of spite, hatred, petty jealousy and vengeance (all on the part of God)
Could you give some example

most classic comic book superheroes would wipe the floor with them in terms of who teaches the better morals, as would Star Trek.
Which comic superheroes? All the ones I can think of have moments of vengeance, jealousy and all kinds of other 'issues'. I remember star trek captains getting vengeful all the time. Not to mention star trek and comics are admittedly fiction. Do you believe the bible is fiction? Do you know the bible is fiction? Do you believe in the possibility that at least one god may have created and have power over the universe?

not to mention misogyny and homophobia is still endorsed by a great many christian leaders including the pope. Great morals there.
Yup religion has been used as a weapon, as have many things. Nobody should listen to leaders who condone hate/passing-judgement, it's that simple... But there are plenty of non-religious people spreading all kinds of hate too. It's not as apparent since they don't necessarily organize for a showy cause. I attend 2 churches (one even baptist), they both welcome gays.
Somewhere down the line those proposing these hypotheses realised they were in possession of a powerful control mechanism and it has been abused ever since to muster power and wealth and influence to keep populations in line.
And now days it's corporate and government special interests that are used to muster power, wealth and influence to keep populations in line. No religion necessary.

They say moral, but they mean obedient.
Various governments says "law, order, terrorist, security, investment, ask what you can do for your country, they're fighting for YOUR freedom," but really they mean obedient. No religion necessary. Why's religion getting blamed for all this again? We really don't have that much power and haven't for a long time.
God is supposed to be completely infallible, yet the spite and pettiness he shows in the old testament is the polar opposite to the attitude of kindness and forgiveness shown by Jesus in the new testament. So Jesus has corrected his infallible father or God has corrected himself, either way god is fallible.
So you think the teachings of Jesus are kind and forgiving? Then whats wrong with people following his teachings? I think if our government, big business, and everybody, actually followed his teachings the world would be a better place. Regardless of how real you think it is... Do you disagree? And God didn't correct himself, he simply evolved with the times. We were in the process of going from a savage, reckless, tribal nature to a metropolitan people of nations, which requires a certain magnitude of civility and order.
If religion did begin by answering questions, then when it began it was no different from science, or at least it was our first attempt at science. People performed rituals to get favourable harvests or stop a volcano from killing them.
That's not religion, that's superstition... Quite a big difference.

They spotted a correlation and they tested it for consistency. They sucked at spotting those correlations and sucked even harder at testing them, but practice makes perfect right?
Yup thats probably just how it all happened.

Now we have much better science to answer our questions so religion in its purest form or purest purpose is no longer necessary or relevant.
Science addresses the laws of physics. That's it. It does not address any kind of philosophy. I hope you don't consider philosophy entirely irrelevant.
If you experience something you consider inexplicable or holy then by all means take up religion,
What would be some qualifying holy/supernatural experiences?
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Feb 3, 2013, 07:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Why is it that the american suspicion and distrust of government doesn't seem to extend to church leaders and organised religion?
Church leaders don't threaten to imprison us if we don't pay up 40-60%(yes it's that much) of our income to them for some service we never see. Church leaders don't require that we PAY for a permit every time we want to change the layout of a room at our business. Church leaders don't fine us for petty things that they think we did. Church leaders have no power over us. Have you lived in the US? I ask because most UK people I see who move here consider it authoritarian.
     
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Feb 3, 2013, 07:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Church leaders don't threaten to imprison us if we don't pay up 40-60%(yes it's that much) of our income to them for some service we never see. Church leaders don't require that we PAY for a permit every time we want to change the layout of a room at our business. Church leaders don't fine us for petty things that they think we did. Church leaders have no power over us. Have you lived in the US? I ask because most UK people I see who move here consider it authoritarian.
We have our fair share of bureaucracy believe me, but no I haven't been there. I too give 50% of my (frankly meagre) earnings back one way or another so I sympathise but while the church doesn't threaten to imprison you, it does threaten to torture your immortal soul for all time. Of course, they have someone else who'll actually be doing the torturing but still. And if you follow all their rules the 'service' you get in return is arguably less visible than you get from your government.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Feb 3, 2013, 08:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Could you give some example
Killing the firstborn of Egypt was spiteful, as were the 7 plagues. Flooding the Earth was pretty drastic too. Banning the worship of other gods suggests jealousy, punishing every human who would ever be born for the sins of their ancestor is spiteful and petty. Those are off the top of my head.


Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Which comic superheroes? All the ones I can think of have moments of vengeance, jealousy and all kinds of other 'issues'. I remember star trek captains getting vengeful all the time. Not to mention star trek and comics are admittedly fiction.

Most of the dark, brooding, flawed stuff is from modern revamps of the classics. Superman and Batman were fairly wholesome for a long time. Whenever you saw a Starfleet captain do something unethical, you were left with no question that he was doing something unethical. Picard in particular I can't recall putting a foot wrong really, same for most of his crew. Janeway tried to get a bit edgy eventually but for the most part they were all goody-goodies really.


Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Do you believe the bible is fiction? Do you know the bible is fiction? Do you believe in the possibility that at least one god may have created and have power over the universe?

Yes and no. Universe created in 6 days? No. Fiction. Whole world flooded and all life put on a boat? Fiction. All humans descended from one pair? Fiction. Adam from dirt and Eve from his rib? Fiction.
Did a carpenter called Jesus live 2000 years ago? Sure, why not? Did he have some good things to say? Someone certainly attributed a lot of good things to him. Again, I have no reason to doubt this. Was he the son of God? I don't think so, no. Did he claim to be? It actually doesn't fit the rest of his character for me but again, anyone can claim it so I have no issue. Miracles? Interesting one. Maybe people imagined them, maybe he staged them like a conjuror to help get his message across. If he said all that wise stuff and convinced people he was a demi-god through a Vegas-style magic show, he was clearly a genius. Its starting to sound unlikely but its still a massive favourite over actually being the son of God as far as I'm concerned. Subsequent word of mouth will doubtless have embellished these events somewhat.
There is nothing in the bible that convinces me of the existence of God simply because the book was written by men who were miles behind our current levels of understanding of the world any compelling if anecdotal evidence they had for believing in God is more logically explained in a plethora of other more plausible ways.

Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Yup religion has been used as a weapon, as have many things. Nobody should listen to leaders who condone hate/passing-judgement, it's that simple... But there are plenty of non-religious people spreading all kinds of hate too. It's not as apparent since they don't necessarily organize for a showy cause. I attend 2 churches (one even baptist), they both welcome gays.
Good, its just a shame that the rest of Christianity can't get with this kind of thinking. To me its obvious that thats would Jesus would want them to do.


Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
And now days it's corporate and government special interests that are used to muster power, wealth and influence to keep populations in line. No religion necessary.
Can you see the next president being openly atheist? I can't. Nor the one after that. Religion plays a massive part in your politics. Compared to other developed nations anyway.


Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Various governments says "law, order, terrorist, security, investment, ask what you can do for your country, they're fighting for YOUR freedom," but really they mean obedient. No religion necessary. Why's religion getting blamed for all this again? We really don't have that much power and haven't for a long time.
I never said it was caused solely by or was exclusive to religion. Just that it was what religion has been about for a long time.


Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
So you think the teachings of Jesus are kind and forgiving? Then whats wrong with people following his teachings? I think if our government, big business, and everybody, actually followed his teachings the world would be a better place. Regardless of how real you think it is... Do you disagree? And God didn't correct himself, he simply evolved with the times. We were in the process of going from a savage, reckless, tribal nature to a metropolitan people of nations, which requires a certain magnitude of civility and order.

Actually I do agree and I don't actually have a problem with people following those teachings. Kindness, generosity, respect, tolerance, forgiveness these are all things that no-one would argue against. It disappoints when the superstition is necessary for people to live that way though. You should live that way because its the right thing to do and because the world would be a better place if you did, not because you want to get into heaven or don't want go to hell.

Surely an omnipotent and infallible God shouldn't need to evolve with the times?


[QUOTE=el chupacabra;4215396]
That's not religion, that's superstition... Quite a big difference.
[QUOTE]

Its a short hop between the two. Religion became the explanation for how the superstition worked. "But why does the volcano like it when throw a couple of virgins in?" "Because there must be some guy in there who likes virgins. And he must be very powerful since he can live in lava and throw it at us."


Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Yup thats probably just how it all happened.
This is genuinely refreshing from a believer, thanks.


Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Science addresses the laws of physics. That's it. It does not address any kind of philosophy. I hope you don't consider philosophy entirely irrelevant.
Again, they used to be one and the same before the advent of the scientific method. Philosophy covers some things that science doesn't, so no its not irrelevant.


Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
What would be some qualifying holy/supernatural experiences?

You tell me!

I've never had an experience I couldn't imagine a scientific explanation for, even if I couldn't pinpoint one. For Bill O'Reilly I've heard him say that the Universe is just too amazing, complicated and beautiful to have condensed out of an explosion (I'm putting it far more eloquently than he did). I understand this is a popular viewpoint but I translate this as "I can't wrap my head around this therefore God."
( Last edited by Waragainstsleep; Feb 6, 2013 at 08:11 PM. )
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Feb 3, 2013, 09:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I'm not really sure where this idea comes from other than a lot of religious people say it when defending the modern relevance of their beliefs. If you're talking about the Abrahamic religions, most classic comic book superheroes would wipe the floor with them in terms of who teaches the better morals, as would Star Trek.
I'm not religious myself, but I strongly believe that religion helps a lot of people lead moral lives. My objection to your comment is that it's not the stories in a religion that fuel morality, it's the belief in the stories (or in something, like god). People who don't believe in anything have no motivation to be moral. People who believe in something greater than themselves do have a motivation to be moral. If someone believes in Star Trek as much as religious people believe in their god, then I would fully endorse your equivalency. I just doubt there are many people that believe in Star Trek that strongly. (Not obsess over, believe in )
     
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Feb 3, 2013, 11:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
I'm not religious myself, but I strongly believe that religion helps a lot of people lead moral lives. My objection to your comment is that it's not the stories in a religion that fuel morality, it's the belief in the stories (or in something, like god). People who don't believe in anything have no motivation to be moral. People who believe in something greater than themselves do have a motivation to be moral. If someone believes in Star Trek as much as religious people believe in their god, then I would fully endorse your equivalency. I just doubt there are many people that believe in Star Trek that strongly. (Not obsess over, believe in )
This is the nonsense that religious people usually wheel out when debating atheists but if anything the reverse is true. Firstly the stories give examples of morality and good moral behaviour. Many of them do anyway. Most of them don't require God in any way to demonstrate morality. If you read the story and understand the morals you can learn from them no God required.
I'm not claiming that believing in Star Trek would make anyone moral (if anything it would mean they need some help), but Star Trek is a another set of stories that can teach good strong morals. My contention is that overall the morals demonstrated in Star Trek are of a higher standard than the bible where your supposedly benevolent loving creator spends much of the first half making silly demands of his minions and then punishing them in elaborate and over the top ways.

I've said it before but if you only behave in a moral way because you want reward from God or fear his punishment after death, you aren't a morally good person. Moral atheists who live in a decent way towards others without expecting reward or fearing reprisal are the good ones. Promise and threat is how religion conditions people to behave in an apparently moral way but ultimately its a hollow gesture since its the response that is learned, not the morality.
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Feb 4, 2013, 12:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Yes and no. Universe created in 6 days? No. Fiction. Whole world flooded and all life put on a boat? Fiction. All humans descended from one pair? Fiction. Adam from dirt and Eve from his rib? Fiction.
Did a carpenter called Jesus live 2000 years ago? Sure, why not? Did he have some good things to say? Someone certainly attributed a lot of good things to him. Again, I have no reason to doubt this. Was he the son of God? I don't think so, no. Did he claim to be? It actually doesn't fit the rest of his character for me but again, anyone can claim it so I have no issue. Miracles? Interesting one. Maybe people imagined them, maybe he staged them like a conjuror to help get his message across. If he said all that wise stuff and convinced people he was a demi-god through a Vegas-style magic show, he was clearly a genius. Its starting to sound unlikely but its still a massive favourite over actually being the son of God as far as I'm concerned. Subsequent word of mouth will doubtless have embellished these events somewhat.
There is nothing in the bible that convinces me of the existence of God simply because the book was written by men who were miles behind our current levels of understanding of the world any compelling if anecdotal evidence they had for believing in God is more logically explained in a plethora of other more plausible ways.
Im still curious if you believe in the possibility there could be a god or made a pretty firm decision that there is none. I don't know where you stand, I thought you were agnostic as well.
     
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Feb 4, 2013, 12:19 AM
 
the book was written by men who were miles behind our current levels of understanding
False. We have more knowledge, but not necessarily better understanding (or wisdom).
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Feb 4, 2013, 06:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Im still curious if you believe in the possibility there could be a god or made a pretty firm decision that there is none. I don't know where you stand, I thought you were agnostic as well.
I'm a pretty staunch atheist. I acknowledge that I cannot prove the non-existence of one or more gods and if proof were uncovered I'd change my mind if it was scientifically compelling so as a technicality you could call me agnostic without my arguing much, but I self identify as atheist. I'm as certain as I can be that there is no god(s).
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Feb 4, 2013, 07:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Please. The word "sin" has been appropriated for very generic, non-religious specific contexts too, you know.
None of those other contexts were given in the posts preceding your mockery and of course, you weren't using any of the non-religious, generic contexts. I don't know why you'd compound the problem with more dishonesty.

Stop being uptight. These sorts of attitudes of demanding reverence to dogma are probably in part why I'm such damaged goods when it comes to figuring out religion for myself.
What is it you suppose I'm uptight about? Certainly not just religious mockery, that happens here all the time. It must be something else. I think an inability to be honest with yourself might be damaging your goods. You're not figuring out religion for yourself, you've brought it to an online political debate forum for help which made some skeptical out of the gate. The mockery doesn't help your earnest search for answers, it's just opportunity for sophomoric humor and a bait and switch to anyone who actually took the time to respond.
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Feb 4, 2013, 07:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I've said it before but if you only behave in a moral way because you want reward from God or fear his punishment after death, you aren't a morally good person. Moral atheists who live in a decent way towards others without expecting reward or fearing reprisal are the good ones. Promise and threat is how religion conditions people to behave in an apparently moral way but ultimately its a hollow gesture since its the response that is learned, not the morality.
Behaving in a moral way is not always easy and there's zero evidence that your non-faith has lead to any genuine altruism or concern for anything other than what you feel would alienate Christians, politically or otherwise. Many are benevolent to others because they feel God has been benevolent to them. It's the premise of their faith and the foundation of their service to others. It's not founded in antagonism. Church leadership are just as corruptible as anyone else in power, but there's no reason to assign social ills to religion when our best examples of atrocity have been provided by the secular authorities and those antagonistic toward religion specifically.

You're essentially comparing two models of compassion here; the atheist altruist vs the Christian victim -- which provides a greater service to mankind and by what metrics?
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Feb 4, 2013, 07:44 AM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
False. We have more knowledge, but not necessarily better understanding (or wisdom).
I was referring more to knowledge than to wisdom but collectively we have more of that too. Of course individually that isn't always the case or we wouldn't still have countries running under Sharia law or millions of creationists in a developed country with a modern school system.
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