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Elginoid Donating Member (387 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 02:03 PM
Original message
A question for Christians, and others of faith...
Why?

That is to say- what is it that is at the root of your faith in an/the Almighty?

a short history...
I was born into and raised by a blue-collar Lutheran family. My father was a union heavy-equipment operator(mostly cranes), and my mother worked part-time at the local library.born in 1961I was the second, by 4 years, of two children...the little brother to my big sister growing up in a far northwest suburb of chicago. we both attended the parochial elementary school attatched to our church, in which our family was fairly active.
I was a believer. all the way thru my teens, active in the youth league, and attending the new Lutheran High School in the Fox Valley.

Looking back, it was about the same time that i discovered pot(which i enjoy to this to day) that it all stopped "making sense", and i really began to question, and ultimately lose my faith.
it didn't make sense that a supposedly loving god would condemn one of his "children" to eternal torment for rather minor transgressions. It seemed odd that a supposedly "Supreme" being would have so many human failings: jealousy, wrath, vengefulness, etc... it began to seem more likely that men had created God in their image, rather than the other way around.
And why would a supposedly "just" God force his creations to take the words of other mortal men thousands of years removed, as gospel truth- with the fate of our "eternal souls" resting in the balance...? especially now, in the electronic age, when any verifiable unambiguous proof of the existence of God could be relayed and seen by the masses worldwide...?
When the internet came along, and i was able to more deeply delve into topics like Mithracism, Zoroastrianism, Emperor Constantine and the Council at Niceae(sp?) gnostic and mystic judaic cults and the like, and it further cemented my growing agnosticism into full-fledged atheism.

for those that have been able to retain their faith- or have found their way to it...Why?
what is it that makes you believe? is it just what you were taught and ingrained from an early age? How much do you know about the historical origins of your religion, and it's "sacred" writings and their origins?
do you ever question your faith? and how are those questions ultimately answered?
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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
1. Persons of faith that I know "lose" faith at somepoint - and come back
Edited on Wed Sep-15-04 02:26 PM by papau
Faith does not have a reason -

But if you need something to ponder, creation of the universe requires less faith via a belief in God than the amount of faith that is required by any currently proposed no or non-god creation theory.

At least IMHO.

peace

:-)
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Elginoid Donating Member (387 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 05:28 PM
Response to Reply #1
16. ?????
that's a healthy inquisitive attitude- since we don't understand the origin of the universe, it obviously must have been whipped up by an almighty being, just for lil' ol' us...

















:eyes:
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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 02:31 AM
Response to Reply #16
30. Works better than QM
:-)
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Dookus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 02:37 AM
Response to Reply #1
32. How bizarre
the universe itself is too complicated to imagine it just happening, but a being capable of CREATING such complexity just exists. That makes no sense.

If the universe is too complicated to "just happen" why is God not too complicated to "just happen"?
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 10:45 AM
Response to Reply #32
69. what is bizzarre is
that you remind me so much of a boy I knew in third grade. He used to tell me I had cooties whenever he had the chance. But on the play ground he would chase me and try to kiss me.
I think that's the relationship you have with faith. You'd like some and you are pissed because God has not whomped you on the head and proven herself to you.
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jonnyblitz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 09:04 AM
Response to Reply #1
51. what about those of us who never had it to begin with?
I doubt I will ever slip into the world of mysticism and irrational thought. Just because we don't have all the answers at this point in time doesn't mean we need to believe wacked out fairy tales. Sorry Papau but you are WRONG WRONG WRONG on this one.
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #51
67. I see you are searching
Don't worry you will find what you are seeking if you are open to it.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 02:35 PM
Response to Original message
2. I don't know
I have faith in what i've experienced, and i opted out of mainstream
christianity, as there was no evidence. I met truly inspired people
who really "looove" jesus christ, and it did not rub off on me in the
least. So i guess i could say that root for my faith is the total
rejection of institutionalized religion, that someone else knows
better than me what is in my own heart.

Faith then, for me was restored by meeting an outstanding buddhist
who spent many years meditating with me in satsang (truth sharing).
The meditation was so profoundly beautiful, sublime, invigorating
and total, that i fell in love. Not with a person, mind you, but
an abstract silence that is so essentially present that i am not
separate from it. The presence of my guru was the root of my faith.
When he died, i was put to it to reaffirm faith alone, with no
friend but death.

And there still, is a profound luminous sea of light, pure knowledge
without manifestation, listening patiently for my petty ego to
finish bullshitting, intimate and familiar as my very soul.
And now, when questions of faith emerge, i listen to the fear in
the voice that needs faith, realizing that the whole personality
that "seeks" and needs, is a construct of childhood, and that if
i override its fear and be still, the panic is unfounded, and nothing
but love, faith, and joy have ever existed.

They say that faith is key, and i believe that. If you open your
heart to the world, embrace the day and say "Yes!" to life, that is
faith. I call that zen beginners mind, shining beneath the crusty
expectations of self and ego.

Faith has no past, and no understanding, rather it is a direct
truth that fear not rule ones life.

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Taxloss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 05:30 PM
Response to Reply #2
85. That is beautiful.
Thank you.

I became Christian because I suddenly realised that I loved Jesus Christ with a fervour I could hardly comprehend. I stopped being a Christian when I realised that it was impossible to reconcile this love for Jesus' message with a deeply-held atheism; I couldn't love Jesus and not believe in God. And I don't believe in God on any level.

Both these revelations made me a better person.
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cprise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 06:27 PM
Response to Reply #85
92. sweetheart's post was absolutely bracing
Thanks sweetheart... I'm going back to re-read it!

Your statement about having a "deeply-held atheism" also got my attention. Being raised Christian, I never really believed in the religion but in my teens began searching for something to believe in. Eventually I settled on humanistic principles and have been exploring them in different ways (um, politics :) ) over the years.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

Atheism is a part of my humanism, and I used to think that all atheists are that way. But I don't think so anymore and I'm concerned because some atheists become caught-up in a negative mindset and are pessimistic about people in general.



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ogsball Donating Member (282 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 02:41 PM
Response to Original message
3. My faith is who I am
#1 Most of all I'm sorry you feel that God would condemn you for a "minor" transgression. Your pot smoking I presume? I've never read in the Bible that pot smoking condemned someone to hell. Maybe to Jail but not hell (in the eternal sense anyhow).

To your question (or should I just claim you are a forgery?)

#2 Faith is just that faith. It's not provable to anyone by me and wouldn't be to anyone but you. Faith is about a world perspective, my particular tradition stresses honesty in that perspective. So if you want to see God working in your life open your eyes and see it. God does indeed love you.

#3 I went to a Lutheran School as well. It was very judgmental and strict. Look at Jesus (particularly in John's Gospel) he is extending God's love. I personally have experienced that love--and experience it every day. My faith prevents me from falling into dispair and gives me hope for the world.

I probaby rambled. I do think that God probably approaches others through other religions the same way.

BTW I think that Kerry's faith is more genuine that Bushes' since Kerry is honest about what God means to him. Bush uses his faith as a way to manipulate people--the only thing that Jesus' ever condemned.


When Jesus said "Love your enimies" I don't think he mean to kill them.
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Elginoid Donating Member (387 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #3
12. you presume incorrectly.
#1 Most of all I'm sorry you feel that God would condemn you for a "minor" transgression. Your pot smoking I presume? I've never read in the Bible that pot smoking condemned someone to hell.

the people i feel sorry for are the ones who choose to believe in/worship a god or jesus simply because that was what they were taught, and they have always just accepted it at face value.

as to the condemnation factor- that came waaaaaaay before the pot(which i would never consider a sin anyway) That's what they grind into your head from an early age at the parochial schools- you sin, you go to hell(unless you seek forgiveness from god- but if you die in sin, you rot in hell).
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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 02:33 AM
Response to Reply #12
31. "was what they were taught" - faith is not taught, It is a gift from God
to those "open" to receive it.
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Chili Donating Member (832 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 04:02 AM
Response to Reply #12
39. why would you pity someone with faith?
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 04:11 AM by Chili
I don't pity you because you lack it...

"the people i feel sorry for are the ones who choose to believe in/worship a god or jesus simply because that was what they were taught, and they have always just accepted it at face value."

That smacks of being condescending and judgemental, doesn't it? The very thing you probably dislike most about fundamentalism?

Many people don't believe in a God filled with "jealousy, wrath, vengefulness." I don't project human failings onto God at all.


Edited to remove personal comments because it's clear that the purpose of this thread was to bait people, then denigrate them.
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sangh0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 06:42 PM
Response to Reply #39
95. It's "pitiful" (I wouldn't use that term) because it's not faith
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 06:42 PM by sangh0
It's authority. The person believes it because "someone they trust told them it's so." That's the definition of "argument by authority"

Many confuse that with faith. IMO, that's one of the main reasons for the hostility towards religion. The people who believe based on authority, the religious right, are giving the truly faithful a bad name.
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faithfulcitizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #12
61. no, you presume incorrectly...
the bible doesn't teach that "you sin, you go to hell(unless you seek forgiveness from god- but if you die in sin, you rot in hell)."

going to heaven relies soley on the belief that Jesus is the son of God who died on the cross for your sins.

John 3:16- " For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
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kimchi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-04 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #61
124. Hmmm... was taught that you can lose "salvation"
For the record, I'm Pagan. According to my sister, all my beliefs are sins. Therefore, although I was once "saved", I'm going to a hell that doesn't exist.

She doesn't think that my prayers go to God. It sounds like you don't either. And that is the problem. No religion is better than any other; and faith is illusive and personal.

As far as only believing in Jesus, well, that leaves one open to sin freely. Supposedly, when you have Jesus you don't WANT to sin, but hearing today about evangelists and hookers, that must be a lie.
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 02:42 PM
Response to Original message
4. Since you asked
when I was about 16 I was pondering why it was that my consciousness was located where it was. In essence, I was asking why am I me, and not someone else? This inevitably led on to further questions, such as: is it possible for me to become someone else? Will my existence come to an end? If not, have I been someone else before I was me? Thinking in this way, I became convinced that the only satisfactory theory was reincarnation, as held by buddhists, hindus and sikhs.

With that in mind I could easily have become a buddhist, but I was prevented from making further progress due to a lack of information. After leaving university, one day I met a Krishna devotee on the streets of Derby (in the UK), just like the guys you used to see in New York and other cities (ISKCON is now far less active than once it was). I was interested, approached him and plied him with questions. He said I should come and see their brand new temple in Birmingham.

I am very glad I did. It took me a few years, but I gradually came to realise that the dry intellectual approach of buddhism was not for me. What I was looking for was Vaisnavism; the science of the heart and love.

Last year I was initiated into the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, and this year I was accepted as a diksa disciple by our Gurudeva. And I am very happy.
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 03:01 PM
Response to Original message
5. I Have Faith Because
I've actually had prayers answered, and I am currently 40, and no longer have either of my parents. I was raised in the Catholic faith, yet had an unusual upbringing - my mother was married 3 times and my father twice. I was also with both of my parents at the time of their deaths ( my mom passed away in May of 1996 and my dad in May of 2001 ). Anyway, I had very spiritual experiences being present at their deaths, which have re-inforced my faith. When my mom was dying, she was having quite a struggle with herself until my aunt and uncle came for their last visit and prayed a prayer called, The Divine Mercy. When they were through with the prayer, my mother calmed down quite a bit and looked around at everyone in the room ( 6 people ). Don't know if you've ever been around someone who is dying, but often, they get a second wind. Anyway, the nurse said that her pulse was pretty low, so, I went around the side of the bed for last words, etc... Suddenly, my mom started to sit up, looking at her arms, etc... It was like she was watching herself step out of her own body. My aunt started crying and said that her angel was taking her away now, which made alot of sense to me. My mother laid back down and began looking out of the window - it was around 12:20 pm and it was extremely sunny outside. I remembered what they say about "the light", going towards the light, which also made alot of sense at the time. My mom died smiling at the sun. Even though it was sad, it was a very spiritual, super natural experience - to think that an angel had been there in the room with us, and that we witnessed my mom's spirit leaving her body. When my dad died, we smelled roses in the room - some say that's either The Virgin Mary or St. Therese ( The Little Flower, who always brings roses as the answer to a question, etc... ). I was glad that I was there with my parents at the times of their deaths because both experiences have definitely made me aware that there is something out there, that although we can't see it, it's there, it knows what it's doing, etc... and being there has helped me to let go easier, knowing that my parents went somewhere else to a good place. Before all of this happened, I did question my faith at times in my life when things were difficult, but I really believe now that we all have our crosses to bear in our life time - nobody's life is perfect.
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 03:06 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. That's uncommonly fortunate
for one to leave their body in such an auspicious manner. I cannot help but think your mother's destination was a good one. I sincerely hope that when my time comes I get to face it with my wits with me also.
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vetwife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. It is a personal journey but I assure you its not fear..
Tolerance of all beliefs should be as commonplace as eating.
One thing for sure. Our dying will tell. I believe and Fear does not even enter into it. The wind you cannot see, the effect you can. All of those people claiming to have faith do not necessarily possess it, just hijack it !
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 03:26 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. We are told:
"trinad api sunichena," that means that we should try to be as tolerant as a tree, and more humble than the grass. I think that this is good advice for everyone.
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Elginoid Donating Member (387 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 05:26 PM
Response to Reply #5
15. yikes...
:eyes:
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Chili Donating Member (832 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 04:05 AM
Response to Reply #15
40. why did you ask the question?
...was it your intention to belittle people?
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Elginoid Donating Member (387 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 12:14 AM
Response to Reply #5
25. catholicism is a world unto itself...
kinda like mormonism, but with more history, power, and money(for now...)
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 09:35 AM
Response to Reply #25
56. Although I Was Born A Catholic
and still attend church in a Catholic parish, I do not necessarily agree with all of their teachings, beliefs, and doctrine. People divided themselves into all the various religions - God didn't.
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VaYallaDawg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 07:59 AM
Response to Reply #5
47. Thank you immensely
for sharing something so personal and beautiful.
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 09:31 AM
Response to Reply #47
54. You're Welcome
I think it's important to share life experiences with others, and I think we have the best "talk show" here on DU!
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kimchi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-04 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #5
126. Thanks for your story of faith.
As soon as I stepped back into the house after my mother in law died in the hospital, I smelled roses. I thought it was her way of saying she was fine. I never connected it to a saint, because she had an amalgam of beliefs, mixing Christianity and Buddism with ancestor worship. Perhaps roses are an all-purpose, cross religion sign?

I'm very glad you saw the beauty and rightness in your parents deaths. When our hearts are open, we see and feel things that sceptics dismiss as superstition imo.
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noonwitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 03:16 PM
Response to Original message
7. My faith has evolved throughout my life (long, rambling post)
I was raised in a mainline christian church (UCC).
I became "born again" at 16 through Young Life.
In college, I started having serious questions. I used to joke that the feeling I was looking for from religion, I found in alcohol and drugs.
I practiced wicca through my late 20s to mid 30s and have not totally broken the beliefs connected with that practice. I like the idea of the Goddess having faith in us as much as we have faith in her. However, when I performed spells, they worked so well it usually freaked me out.

I started going back to church again about 3 years ago, to a Unity church. I had read about it in a local paper and it sounded interesting. It is a place where I can reconcile my wiccan tendancies with my childhood belief in Jesus. I like to read the Bible, and Unity teaches a metaphysical way of looking at scripture. I don't always agree with that interpretation, but I do agree with the overall beliefs of the denomination, and like the interfaith approach that they take. I also love the people who attend this church, as it is one of a handful in metro-Detroit that has a diverse congregation. I've also been reading "A Course In Miracles", which presents a very different view of Jesus than traditional christianity.

I also read a horror novel that made me look at Jesus a different way. It's called "Dark Debts" and is written by Karen Hall, a tv producer. Although it is about demonic possession, it is also about finding one's faith.

My current beliefs come from this progression in my life. I believe that God is spirit, and can assume any form, male or female. I also believe that Jesus was someone who came to teach us how to access our spiritual nature and call upon the spirit of God that lives in every human being, and that one does not have to be a christian to have this spark of spirit in them. I believe that it is our responsibility as humans to see this spark in everyone we deal with, encourage people to reach for their better natures, and to forgive our enemies and ourselves. William Blake summed up my beliefs in his poem "The Divine Image" better than I ever could.

I did have a major revelation while working with a special child. She was labelled "severely mentally impaired", unable to speak and wasn't potty trained. I kept praying for some kind of miracle cure, but finally, after spending a lot of time with her, realized that what she was teaching me was as important as what I was doing for her. This child embodied unconditional love. It is all she can take and all she can give. Once I understood that, I didn't need to use words to communicate with her anymore. I realized she understood intentions and attitudes, and I also realized that I could see the face of God in this child, and in her parents, and in the rest of my clients. This experience changed my life-I am a better person for having met this child, and the unconditional love she showed me is now available through me to every child I work with, as I believe it all comes from the same source-God.

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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. Nice post. n/t
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sangh0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #7
96. That wa beautiful, noonwitch
unconditional love. It is all she can take and all she can give.

It's all any of us can really do.
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CityZen-X Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 03:37 PM
Response to Original message
11. The Words Of Yashua
are the only schematic to the better way of life. Everything else in the so called Biblia are nothing more thatn campfire tales and Jewish point of view,
Yashua was way kool bar none!
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Elginoid Donating Member (387 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 05:18 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. anyone who claims to know "the only schematic to the better way of life"
Edited on Wed Sep-15-04 05:19 PM by Elginoid
is obviously as full of shit as they come.
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 11:48 PM
Response to Reply #13
19. including you
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Elginoid Donating Member (387 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 12:02 AM
Response to Reply #19
22. exactly.
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 12:03 AM by Elginoid
and since the whole concept is something that nobody can be sure of, it has to be left out of all matters of importance that involve all of us...like government for instance.

kinda like smoking in restaurants- everyone's meal is a lot more edible and enjoyable experience if it's left outside.

unfortunately, we've become a nation of wear-it-on-your-sleeve-proudly religious zealots, quickly headed to being on total par with living under the taliban.




IMHO
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Chili Donating Member (832 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 04:09 AM
Response to Reply #22
42. I think you were deliberately trying to pick a fight
"unfortunately, we've become a nation of wear-it-on-your-sleeve-proudly religious zealots, quickly headed to being on total par with living under the taliban."

No one on this thread seemed to wear anything on their sleeves. And being a Democrat, almost by definition, means that you believe in the separation of church and state. So, WTF? I haven't seen one post on this board that justified that remark.
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Elginoid Donating Member (387 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 05:24 PM
Response to Original message
14. I guess what i was trying to ask was this-
why do seemingly and otherwise intelligent adults continue to believe in eons old fairy tales with no basis in fact?

it continues to boggle the mind...no wonder we have so quickly become the laughing stock of the industrial world.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 05:46 PM
Response to Reply #14
17. near and far eschatology
The "fairy tales" have an interesting phsychology, as they describe
the "ultimate" ending, the ultimate beginning, and create a
mental reference point for perceiving a future. The fact is that
the tales are in the present, and the impact of them must be
recognized in the present as well.

If the fairy tale, leads you to feel humble and grateful to be alive,
then maybe it is a wise one, no matter what its content. If you can
finish your faithful prayer, and step beyond fear to embrace life,
then perhaps that is all it is. We can always hide away in our
culture of denial, and pretend that life does not end. Perhaps
the most pressing concern of our existance is its unknown end.

I call the laughing stock, a culture that is in denial that human
persons can realize enlightenment directly themselves in this lifetime.
And, that that enlightenment is superrational, a joy of total
cosmic immersion, that transforms life. Just perhaps it takes faith
in a world of no faith, to step forward in this next moment without
preconceptions, without the baggage of years of knowing, and like
a child being touched by the wonder.

Our world produces very few enlightened people... VERY few women
enlightened people. Everything else is illusion. All those people
who think life is physical will die and realize differently too late.
The gauntlet is off. YOU can attain enlightenment in this lifetime,
and the path is unique to you specifically, that i cannot dictate
any truth or guidelines. Only you 'know' inside and must trust your
awakening. That is faith. There IS indeed a basis in fact for
having faith. It is simply a wise way to live.. to put your ego's
past down, and let this virgin moment that will never come again,
speak its wisdom.

I think where you missed in this line of chat, was using the word
"faith". If you want to bash organized religion, you'll find a lotta
support on DU. Faith rather, has drawn out some genuine hearts of
DU who are authentic and religious... which simply does not support
your foregone second conclusion.

Until you yourself have dipped more than your big toe in to religion,
it seems unneccessary... and once you do, life is not worth living
without faith, as if that were possible. :-)

namaste,
-s
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Elginoid Donating Member (387 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 12:11 AM
Response to Reply #17
24. sure, a post like that sounds nice and all...
but if you really read it, and try to think about it, it makes about as much sense as "they hate us for our freedoms".

this is a REAL world we live in, and when it comes to public life, we need to keep a grip on reality, for all our sakes.

whatever goofy shit people want to believe in their private lives, fine...but when it comes to public policy since everybody's goofy shit can't be included, nobody should.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 03:14 AM
Response to Reply #24
36. Dude, you started a thread on faith
And now you've reduced it to "people's goofy shit"?

Fine, then leave the first amendment alone, lay off religion and
religious people and find another bugbear.

What is reality anyways but what we make it. Pollyanna had a happier
reality, that she shared with people less inclined to be happy.
Behind all the "religion" is the intent. Most people who are deeply
faithful, realize deep down in their hearts that there is a hole in
their lives, that hurts in such a primal way. To know that hole
primally in ones inner most heart, is the first amendment right.

It is goofy. You are free to share your goofy shit as well,
and we can all laugh. :-)

I don't embellish to convert you or to
preach religion, rather to attempt to say what faith is, as your
post challenges me to bring something that i never "say" in to words.
That is why i don't recommend talking religion as a path towards
political salvation. But certainly, every person who speaks up about
faith, can inspire another.

Maybe God made you start this thread, so that some lurking reader
will be inspired to discover faith. Even that, itself,
a question of faith.
:-) Oh, round in God's circles ha!
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Sophree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 12:04 PM
Response to Reply #36
74. Infinity circles.
8

:-) :hi:
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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 02:42 AM
Response to Reply #17
34. Well said :-)
:-)
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 11:37 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. And What Baffles Me
Edited on Wed Sep-15-04 11:42 PM by jackieforthedems
is why some people, like scientists who strictly believe in the theory of evolution, for example, deny the existence of a Higher Power just because they haven't seen one. Could it be that it's just alot easier to live without a conscious and deny the existence of a God so that people can do what they please and not worry about facing the consequences of their actions? We have rules and laws on this Eath to abide by, so, why not in heaven?! I assume "fairy tales" was referring to Jesus Christ? I believe that everyone is definitely entitled to their opinions, indeed. Here is something to read called, "One Solitary Life" - He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years, He was an itinerant preacher. He never had a family or owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never wrote a book or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had - His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this "One Solitary Life." That's why alot of us have faith. Those who don't just haven't experienced anything spiritual yet, I guess, to convince them of the possibility. If you believe in history, why is it so difficult to believe in biblical history? Here are some websites that might give you some food for thought on the subject. www.wyattmuseum.com Photos of what may be Noah's Ark, and an interesting story about The Ark Of The Covenant ( supposedly Ron Wyatt may have found it ). Also: look up on the internet under Garabandal, Spain and Medjugorje, Yugoslavia where things similar to Fatima happened and are still happening regarding appearances by the Virgin Mary to groups of children. Alot of people say that the Virgin Mary is a Catholic thing, but I disagree. If you do read the Bible, what did Jesus say to Mary and John as they stood at the foot of the cross together? "Woman, behold your son" to His Mother, and, "Son, behold your Mother". I think those statements verified that Jesus meant that Mary was everybody's Mother. If nothing else, read the "Left Behind" book series. I guess, call me what you may, but I'll take my chances believing in my faith. I know I wouldn't want to be "left behind" if there really is a heaven and paradise waiting for me in another dimension somewhere in the sky. Take care, peace and God Bless!
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 11:49 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. many scientists also believe in God
Edited on Wed Sep-15-04 11:50 PM by Cheswick
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 12:07 AM
Response to Reply #20
23. I Know
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 12:09 AM by jackieforthedems
I meant, "some scientists", not all of them. Just trying to give an example to get a point across. Didn't mean to offend anyone. Sorry!
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 10:11 AM
Response to Reply #23
62. I am not offended
I was stating a fact the anti-theists around here seem to miss.
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sangh0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #62
97. Maybe we should ban science from government too
After all, most scientists believe in God and other "eons old fairy tales with no basis in fact".
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jsw_81 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 03:35 AM
Response to Reply #97
103. Wrong
A poll taken a few years ago showed that the vast majority of America's elite scientists were either atheists or agnostics. This "most scientists believe in God" stuff you people keep spreading is pure myth -- just like your God.
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 10:19 AM
Response to Reply #103
110. really? prove it
Who are these elite scientists anyway and who decides who is elite enough to poll?

I just sang at the wedding of two scientists. One is a chemist and the other a physicist. They are very faithful members of my Church.

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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-04 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #110
122. I can prove it for you
Obviously I'm with you in spirit Ches, but I think both of us also probably care about the truth:

Survey: Most U.S. Scientists Don't Believe in God

A survey in mid-1998 found that 93% of U.S. scientists do not profess belief in God, and 92.1 percent do not profess belief in immortality.

Start Date: 2/25/99

A survey conducted in mid-1998, reported by Edward J. Larson of the University of Georgia in a letter to the journal Nature, indicates that very few senior scientists in the United States profess a belief in God or immortality.

Larson said the survey asked members of the National Academy of Sciences to indicate if they believe, disbelieve or are agnostic regarding the existence of God and immortality. Overall, 93 percent of the scientists either disbelieve or are agnostic on the existence of God (72.2 percent disbelieve), while 92.1 percent disbelieve or are agnostic regarding immortality (76.7 percent disbelieve).

Of those who profess a belief in God, the highest percentage was found among mathematicians (14.3 percent) and the lowest was found among biological scientists (5.5 percent). Among physicists and astronomers, 7.5 percent profess belief in God.

http://www.gsreport.com/articles/art000068.html
http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/sci_relig.htm
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 10:24 AM
Response to Reply #103
113. See...
this is the attitude that people respond to. "A myth.... Just like your God."

I don't see anyone of faith in this thread talking down to those who are athiests in such a way. It is insulting in that is seems to show that you feel above those who worship God.

I've had friends who placed intelligence above goodness in the scale of important virtues. Of course, those that placed intelligence first and foremost are currently, 12 years after graduating college, paralyzed by the workforce. They are unable to "lower themselves" to a job beneath them.

Not saying that the goodness is Godliness. Nope, not at all. But, a certain pride that is dismissive of other people because they aren't as smart as you? Nope... not gonna end well for the poster.

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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-04 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #113
125. Would you prefer "is wrong, like your claim of the existence of God"?
I can see you might take 'myth' as an insult, but it needn't be - plenty of practising Christians would describe the Creation in Genesis as a myth. That means they don't believe it happened, but was made up as a story to try to explain things we don't understand. That's the attitude of a lot of atheists about gods. There needn't be an insult in it.
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saracat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 04:08 AM
Response to Reply #18
41. I would NEVER lower myself to read anything in the
"left behind" series. What an absolute crock of fundie BS. I glanced at it once having read about the phenomenon, and I couldn't believe that anyone would read such poorly written garbage, but hey! each to his own.
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 09:52 AM
Response to Reply #41
58. It's Fiction
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 10:08 AM by jackieforthedems
The "Left Behind" series is based on The Book Of Revelations and the idea of The Rapture. If it'll make people think and perhaps save a soul or two, then, whatever it takes. I think soul salvation is worth everything. I don't think anyone deserves hell. But I do think we know ourselves and select our own eternal destinations. We, as people, are not perfect, and that's why Jesus died for our sins. I think some people think that they need to be perfect in order to be friends with God and live up to His expectations, which, as human beings with human nature, is pretty difficult to do. I think all God really wants is our love and respect and our efforts to try and follow in His footsteps, helping our fellow man and attempting to set a good example in our lives. If we fall off of the horse, we can just get back on - we make mistakes. We need to just do our best, have hope, be optimistic, and not let ourselves fall into the trap of total despair and evilness.
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saracat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #58
82. It is poorly written, manipulative crap.
meant to manipulate people into being"saved" by a certain definition. It is fiction because the book upon which is based can also be classified under that definiton. It is not a provable reality,so it must be classified as fiction. I will admit the Bible is a better written work of fiction than the series.
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 09:03 PM
Response to Reply #82
102. There Are Opinions
regarding whether or not The Rapture will actually occur or not - some religions believe it, others don't. Until it happens, it can't be proved, you're right. I think it will, which goes against what Catholics believe. And, I do think the Bible is real, but it's often hard to translate exactly what they meant way back then when they wrote it. A Jewish co-worker of mine told me that the Bible was written to control the Gentiles, but that's his opinion. I still believe it's for real. Just my opinion. The great thing about America is that we all can have these sort of conversations without starting a war over it. We may have our differences, but at least, we're civilized about it.
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kimchi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-04 11:52 AM
Response to Reply #58
128. Yes, and no.
"I think all God really wants is our love and respect and our efforts to try and follow in His footsteps, helping our fellow man and attempting to set a good example in our lives"

I agree with your point completely. However, I don't think you have to follow Jesus to do so. In fact, you don't have to follow any religion to be a moral person.
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kimchi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-04 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #41
127. Hear, hear, Saracat!
What excerpts I read were pure fear mongering. But you are right-whatever floats your ark.
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Sophree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 11:55 AM
Response to Reply #18
73. The film "Contact"
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 12:20 PM by Sophree
Explores some of these same ideas of faith and science and how they are not necessarily or even logically mutually exclusive.

Favorite Quotes from the movie "Contact"

Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey: "I'm not against technology, doctor. I'm against the men who deify it at the expense of human truth."


Background- Ellie is a scientist researching life on other planets. When they are "contacted" and she has chance to go, Palmer asks her why she wants to so badly, just as the original poster has asked us "Why."
Ellie's basically an atheist, but the answer she gives is the essence of the example Jesus set for us.

Palmer Joss: By doing this, you're willing to give your life, you're willing to die for it. Why?

Ellie Arroway : For as long as I can remember, I've been searching for something, some reason why we're here. What are we doing here? Who are we? If this is a chance to find out even just a little part of that answer... I don't know, I think it's worth a human life. Don't you?"


You watch her journey, or "baby steps" from skeptic, to questioner of her own entrenched atheistic beliefs, to her rebirth, and her first step of acknowledgement of her very real, very true, experience with faith.

Ellie: I had an experience, that I can't prove and can't explain, but everything that I know as a human being tells me that it was real. I was given something wonderful, that changed me forever. A vision of the universe, that tells us undeniably, that we belong to something that is greater then ourselves, and that none of us are alone.

This experience shouldn't be ridiculed, but it often is and that's OK. As others on the thread have said, that the original poster asked the question is what's important.



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jdj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 12:28 AM
Response to Reply #14
27. it's a glitch in the software.
I really believe this.

it's ancestor worship, which may just be an amplified version of the parent-child bond, which the child needs to maintain to survive (not to mention to psychologically assimilate and then dismiss abusive or neglectful treatment on the part of the parent).

It may be some genetic feature that bonds us to do as our parents did and to not question, as oddballs and innovators usually get kicked off the island (or crucified). This may be because of some innate tribal need to have a target to diffuse negative emotions on, that would otherwise damage clan unity and survival.

I don't know. It works for people, I think it is an integral part of the human brain, and of human survival thus far, but it doesn't answer the question for me of why so many of the most decent and moral people I have ever met or atheists. It may be that survival of the fittest was never about decency and morality, but instead conformism and assimilation mixed in with manipulation and seduction. or something like that.

IOW, I think people just need it. And there seems to be an intense need for ritual, moreso even than for the content of the religion.
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Swamp Rat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 03:45 AM
Response to Reply #27
37. Yes, the alien lizards know this and therefore use it to manipulate us.
The reptiles snicker at our need to "bond," though they themselves are bound to the hive.






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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 02:38 AM
Response to Reply #14
33. Why do folks "believe" a predictive equation represents "truth"
Why do folks believe they can disprove that which neither needs to be proved, nor can be disproved.
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-15-04 11:53 PM
Response to Original message
21. what kind of nonsense thread is this?
You start off being semi civil and then proceed to insult any "religious" person who answers.

Why would anyone want to answer your patronizing questions to begin with?

PS.... none of your business is the answer which most comes to mind.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 03:51 AM
Response to Reply #21
38. God started the thread
Elginoid is a tool of god, unknown to himself.

Religion cannot be effectively expressed in words, but for those
who try, it can always be hacked down by a critique.

And elginoid's subsconscious is curious, with his superego in denial.

People who are curious about religion can be like children screaming
angry at mommy, but when mommy hugs them and holds them lovingly,
it turns out that is what they really wanted.

:-)

Faith indeed. I love your swarthy realism cheswick, just it
don't matter what elginoid realizes. Can faith forgive him
and delight in the glory of god?

God asks about faith. God angrily denies faith. God writes
using the fingers of so many people in this magic temple.

Namaste,
-s
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #38
59. I do believe you're right about this
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 10:09 AM by Cheswick
I think some people on DU are seeking God and protesting or resisting the very thing they are most in need of. That is the only explanation to these anti faith threads.

Peace of God(s)or Goddess to you my friend.
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sangh0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 06:53 PM
Response to Reply #59
98. And thank you both, Cheswick and sweetheart
You've given me a new way to look at those who are hostile to religion. Thank you both.
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 10:21 AM
Response to Reply #98
111. You are welcome sangh0
!
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Chili Donating Member (832 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 04:15 AM
Response to Reply #21
43. thank you for saying this
...I went back and removed my answers to what seemed like an honest question. My bad for thinking it was a sincere.
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 10:15 AM
Response to Reply #43
64. Here was the clear clue about OP's intentions
<<<<<How much do you know about the historical origins of your religion, and it's "sacred" writings and their origins?
do you ever question your faith? and how are those questions ultimately answered?>>>>>

The implication is that we don't know about the origins of our faith, that we are unquestioning fools.
Typical Atheist internet message board crusading.
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SidDithers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 01:40 PM
Response to Reply #64
80. "typical athiest"? Generalities do nothing to advance the discussion...
please respect my atheism the same way that I respect your faith. If some posters do not, then it is "some athiests" who are trying to stir shit up.

:)

Sid
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 05:25 PM
Response to Reply #80
84. it's typical of Atheists who make a point of crusading
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 05:26 PM by Cheswick
on message boards. It wasn't a general statement.
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jdj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 12:21 AM
Response to Original message
26. I don't care for calling religion "faith"
I never have. I think it is swarmy.

and off-putting, because it seems to stroke a person for simply adhering to this or that mythology, and that is not any kind of accomplishment.

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Djinn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 01:29 AM
Response to Original message
28. faith per se I can understand
ie faith that there is something "out there" but what I can't fathom -and I really have tried is subscribing to ANY religion.

How do deists know which bits of their holy books to follow and which bits to assign allegory status to? which of the contradictory gospels is the "right" one?

How does someone "beleive in what Jesus said" (Christianity being an example based on my being brought up in predominantly culturally Christian societies - my family being hopelessly secular for some generations now)

I just don't see how any of the monotheistic ones atleast can possibly make any sense (don't know so much about other religions)
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 10:15 AM
Response to Reply #28
63. You Don't Have To Follow Any One Religion
It's good vs. evil, peace vs. war, etc... God is either in you or He's not. People divided themselves into all the various religions - kind of like, whatever works for me, my personal beliefs, my conscious. I think it's important for people to believe in their own way as long as they have good thoughts and actions towards their fellow human being.
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cprise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 01:47 AM
Response to Original message
29. I have faith.........
My faith is in humanity! It is not an absolute faith, nor is it religious -- but it is one that is tested daily.

I believe in each person's inherent worth and goodness and I choose to stress those qualities, despite the waste and evil that exists. Our potential for good is greater, and that must not be denied no matter how bad things get or how often we are described as sinful.

Humanity is tangible to me. As a whole, and on smaller scales, it is at the center of my hopes, dreams, fears and imagination. "Think globally" has a special meaning in this context: That we are a major force on the planet that must become self-aware enough to realize we must live as an extension of the environment, not wear it down or try to run it like an economic pasttime.

I believe that people only have freedom of choice if we accept that human kind is capable of intently changing its circumstances. Neither fate nor deities are responsible for saving us from destruction and improving our lives.

That responsibility lies with us, individually and collectively.


Generally speaking, I am what you call a Humanist.

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AntiFascist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 02:50 AM
Response to Reply #29
35. Amen....I can't believe the hypocrisy....
I saw on the 60 Minutes story showing Gen. Boykin preaching about how he prayed for soldiers during warfare and how miracles occured saving some of them(apparently due to his prayers.) Don't you think Christ would be more concerned about praying for the enemy, in this context? Also, Boykin apparently has a lot in common with Bush because he heard the voice of God telling him to go to war.
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 11:13 AM
Response to Reply #35
70. Don't Mean To Add Fuel To The Fire
but thought you may like this website: http://www.bushistheantichrist.com/
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 10:18 AM
Response to Reply #29
65. Amen!
Well said without dragging religion into it - it really is a good vs. evil thing.
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cprise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 06:03 PM
Response to Reply #65
90. Lets drag religion into it
:)

Many religious people are also humanists at the same time, because they accept the ambiguities of their religious texts and they focus their hopes and their efforts on people and society. Almost by definition, liberal Christians tend to be Christian Humanists. ( http://www.christianhumanism.org/vision.shtml )

I am more of a secular humanist myself ( http://www.secularhumanism.org/intro/affirmations.html ). To us, good and evil are real but there is a lot of grey area as well. For instance a hurricane is not so much evil as it is tragic.

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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 08:51 PM
Response to Reply #90
101. Maybe The Right Word Is
spiritual instead of religious?!
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saracat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 04:15 AM
Response to Original message
44.  I don't know what I believe anymore.
I was raised as a Catholic and progressively realised that I was taught belef but I didn't have faith. I was supposed to believe certain things and I didn't know if I did. I knew I was supposed to but I couldn't differentiate between what I was told and what I really believe. So I believe only my own concoction that my gut tells me must be right.I have had some after death experiences with my relatives so I assume there is an afterlife.I feel that to be true.I think there may be a supreme being, but of what it consists, I don't know.I don't think we humans have words to describe it.This is all I know.It may not my much but it is the only truth that resonates with me.
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 10:43 AM
Response to Reply #44
68. You're On The Right Track
I was born a Catholic, too, yet my parents divorced when I was about 8, and my mother was married 3 times and my father twice. I had one half-brother from my mother's first marriage - I was from her second. Anyway, my father joined the Catholic faith after being in WW II Pearl Harbor - being one of the youngest aboard his ship ( he was on the U.S.S. Ward, the destroyer that sank the Japanese submarine just prior to the air attack on Pearl Harbor ), he felt the need to belong to a church after he got out of the Navy. My mother was raised in a family that took care of over 200 foster children ( her mother's job ), and her father was in the bar and restaurant business. My mother had the duty of taking the various foster children to various churches, due to their religions. Neither of my parents actually learned Catholic doctrine correctly, yet knew enough about God and Jesus to follow as best they could. My father moved to Louisiana shortly after my parents' divorce, and my mother was a local musician, so, I had an unusual upbringing. My half-brother, who was 15 years older than me, died from a heroin overdose when he was 24 and I was 9. Because of my parents' divorce, I didn't attend church regularly from age 8 until age 23 approximately, when I felt the need to be closer to God in my own life. I attend church in a Catholic parish because that is what I am used to, but I do not agree with everything that the religion preaches and teaches. I believe in God and Jesus, and I have had my personal, spiritual experiences, which have re-inforced my beliefs. For me, it's important to worship at least once a week for an hour in a church - I like the serene atmosphere and belonging to a spiritual group somewhere. I am married now ( for 11 years ), and have 2 sons, ages 9 and 10. My 10 year old is a disabled boy with spastic quadriparesis and dystonic cerebral palsies, he has a g-tube and a VP shunt, he is 100% total care and non-verbal, yet the happiest little guy ever! My other son has been a local actor/model/singer/dancer here in the Twin Cities since he was 5, represented by 3 local talent agencies at once. He is currently enrolling in the Stagecoach School for the performing arts, plus is in USA Team Swimming. It's from one extreme to the other at our place with our boys and how their lives are. It definitely keeps life interesting! Life has had it's ups and downs in our household, that's for sure. But we never give up, always have hope, and keep striving forward, both optimistically and positively. Saracat, you're on the right track! We live and we learn, and life is a journey.
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saracat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 05:20 PM
Response to Reply #68
83. Thank you for your reply.
I can't say I believe in Jesus and I dumped the Church a long time ago. I was completely digusted with them when my father ,who was the most devout Catholic ever, was dying ,none of his parish priests could bestir themselves to give him the last rites, and they were called repeatedly for two weeks as he was in ICU. He had given them scads of money and even had them in his will.I got him the rites from a Church that had nothing to do with him. I didn't give the Church the money in the will and told them to Cheney themselves.I can't stomach the Church's attitude toward women and will never darken their door again. I have left specific instructions not to have the last rites or be buried in a Catholic funeral.I had parted with the Church long before on many issues but my Dad's death allowed me to even get rid of civility and social Catholicism.No Chritmas church going because it would be nice for me.
My Supreme Being or whatever, understand I am sure. Oddly enough you mention your son.I am a producer and director as well.Small world
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 08:17 PM
Response to Reply #83
100. It Is A Small World
Sorry to hear about what happened with your father. I can see why you are bitter about that. Still, you have a good heart - I think others on here would agree - it's obvious in your posts. The main thing is you believe in a Higher Power. Time heals all things, too. My son looks like Macaulay Culkin when he was in the "Home Alone" movies, but had to get glasses last year. He was one of 2000 extras in "Joe Somebody" - a Tim Allen movie that was filmed in the Twin Cities in the Spring of 2001 ( audience scene at the basketball game ). Nice chatting! Take care!
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lefty75 Donating Member (17 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 05:17 AM
Response to Original message
45. not religious
I'm not religious and I'm sickened by the right's move to theocracy. We need to take our country back!
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 07:34 AM
Response to Original message
46. There's always a conflict when you start with the definition
of faith as organized religion, belief in a God as defined by any particular tradition, etc.

If you start with the concept of "God" being the source of that life energy that we haven't been able to manufacture on our own, and look at the myriad of religions as incomplete efforts to connect to that source, you don't have to be conflicted about it; every groups efforts have something interesting to ponder.

I retain my faith because it doesn't require any of these things:

1. Labeling, naming, describing, or quantifying diety. That's the first big problem with some faith practices, imo. There can't be any ambiguity; they have to know exactly what and who their diety is, what he/she looks like, and assign him/her to a particular structure supporting a particular pov and set of rules and regs.

2. Proving anything to anybody, or convincing anyone of anything.

3. sacred writings

4. authority figures to tell me what and how to think, to live, or to believe

5. A name, a label, or an organized group to "belong" to.

All it requires is a sense of wonder about the world, and about what is beyond my 5 senses. It requires study of all faiths and non-faiths, noting the universals and looking for connections between them. It requires looking for patterns and connections between the physical and non-physical, and listening to others without using pre-conceived ideas to judge what they say. It requires putting some of the universal principles found through this study into action, and observing the results. It requires the humility to know that I, or any human, or humanity itself, will not, at this stage of our evolution, ever be able to quantify, label, define, explain, or contain the great mysteries. And it requires the confidence to allow that to be ok. And last of all, it requires a certain sort of trust. A trust that the magnificent systems that sustain all existence are not accidental, random, or just "chance;" that there is something else there, whatever that may be.
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brisker Donating Member (28 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 08:11 AM
Response to Original message
48. Please pardon my newness...
I was non-religious (so I'm told) until around 7 years old, then my parents became practicing Christians. I was too young to really notice the change.

I learned SOME of what Christians believe, and as far as I cared about it, believed it (which wasn't much).

Early in my freshman year of college, I met some other guys who "REALLY believed this stuff". I was faced with the challenge to, as it were, "put up or shut up". If I believed it, then I should REALLY believe it and stop the acting. If I didn't, then I should say so and be done with it.

I've had plenty of chances to recant, or leave, or whatever, but I haven't. Every other religion, as far as I can tell, has at its root people's efforts to reach God. Christianity, at its root, is all about God reaching people (we Christians call that "grace").

Quick explanantion of what "grace" is:

If God is holy and just and all the rest, then he MUST punish evil and ultimately destroy it. It's not "good" to "just let it slide".

Therefore, what we DESERVE from God for the evil things we ALL do is punishment.

Having said that...

JUSTICE is God giving you what you deserve.
MERCY is God NOT giving you what you deserve.
GRACE is God giving you what you DON'T deserve.

Does that answer your question?
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Sophree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 04:15 PM
Response to Reply #48
81. great post.
Thank you for that. :-)

And welcome to DU, :hi:
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 08:51 AM
Response to Original message
49. scientific Faith in Jesus and his message
I wouldn't exactly call my belief system "faith" in the traditional sense. I grew up Baptist when the African American Baptist church was the center of the civil rights movement and had faith that combined traditional evangical beliefs and social consciousness.

At some point I became pretty much atheist, but continued to have an interest in religion.

What changed everything for me was taking elective courses in religion at a major university when I was in graduate school studying history. The approach was not really religious, but historical, although about half of the graduate students were preparing for careers in mainline denomination ministries.

Here is what I learned: Using traditional social science methods of verification, we can show with almost complete confidence that there was indeed a religious and political leader in what is now Israel/Palestine about 2000 years ago. The reason we can have such confidence is that he is mentioned and discussed not only in Christian texts, but in Roman and Jewish texts -- although the latter sources basically refer to him as a fraud and a trouble maker. Unlike almost every other religious foundational figure of other religions, we can say with almost complete certainty that Jesus existed and preached.

The next question is what did he say? Historian John Crossan used a system of text verification to isolate from the New Testament, Roman, Greek and Jewish texts those passages that Jesus most likely preached. In other words, he "scored" ancient texts depending on how soon after Jesus preaching they were written down and how closely they were verified by other texts the writers of whom had little reason to advance the Christian cause.

Crossan showed that out of the entire New Testament, only about three pages of "Zen like" "cryptic aphorisms" can be verified. The message boils down to: treat others the way you would like to be treated; try to love everyone; feed the poor; take care of the sick.

When you consider how violent and vengeful Mediterranian culture and all other ancient cultures were at that time, the slow adoption of these basic principles really has transformed the world. I agree entirely with City-ZenX that these zen aphorisms are a template for a better life. I would not call them religion; they are more like an ethical philosophy that actually leads to a less violent, more peaceful, more caring world.

The most profound social movements of the last century have been based in whole or in part on these principles -- ML King's transformation of the US, Ghandi's peaceful liberation of India (yes, he acknowledges Jesus as an influence), Mandela's reconciliatory transformation of South Africa.

BTW, I do not believe that very many churches have followed these principles very often.
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Randers Donating Member (252 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #49
66. ethical philosophy
"treat others the way you would like to be treated; try to love everyone; feed the poor; take care of the sick."

I agree there are important principles to be found. Many of which I believe progressives would incorporate into a political philosophy as well.

It's also interesting to me that many on this board are frustrated with religious beliefs that I consider rule-bound and do not help the greater good - just as Jesus apparently railed against Pharisees and greed and all.

There is a lot of good to be found in the gospels regardless of what one thinks about the concept of divinity. I think it is important to seek and find goodness and inspiration in a variety of places. The basic (Christian) ethical philosophy that I was brought up with affects me deeply, and is not something I wish to reject, even though I have no problem letting go of the things that do not make sense to me.
----

I've enjoyed many of the posts on this thread - even though the originator seems to be looking for a fight.
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Quahog Donating Member (704 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 08:55 AM
Response to Original message
50. Whew... lots to respond to here...
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 09:06 AM by Quahog
Let's start with the easiest bit. People who call themselves Christians, indeed, those who are responsible for the administration of organized Christian worship as we know it today, often do extraordinarily horrible and stupid things. The simple reason for this is that they are created as free beings by God, God extends faith to them as a loving gift, but they are free to do whatever they want with it. Individuals throughout history have found ways to use faith (not just Christian faith, but in all religions) as a justification for commiting unspeakable crimes against nature and their fellow man. This is not God's fault. He allows us to be what we choose to be.

God also does not "cause" suffering. Most suffering is caused by humans, and God allows us to do whatever we want. If you take the long view of the creation allegory, the actions of Adam and Eve metaphorically describe mankind's decision to outsmart God, to prove that we don't need God, and therefore to escape His laws and His judgement. If you apply this notion strictly to the concept of original sin, you conclude that the seemingly random acts of cruelty to which humans are subjected (innocent babies dying painfully from diseases is a good example) in fact exist in a cause and effect relationship with that original sin. Humans use their gift of freedom to choose to separate themselves from God, but this is a bad choosing, and it manifests itself in a plethora of bad things. If man had never separated himself from God, these bad things would not exist.

This is hard to imagine in terms of practical application to reality as we experience it. But the way I like to think of it is this: if man had not separated himself willfully from God, there would be no wars, because a human truly united to God in faith is a loving being incapable of violence toward antoher human being. So imagine if all of the money and human energy and intellectual creativity that has been expended on devising ways to kill each other throughout history had instead been spent on acts of love toward the suffering. Would there be any suffering left? Would there have been any to begin with?

Well, there's obviously no way to "know" this, as we can only "know" the reality which we actually experience directly or indirectly. Those horrible viruses that kill innocent babies just evolved out of the primordial soup, right? There's nothing about human action that could have changed that reality, is there? Again, there is no way to "know" this.

A huge part of the whole faith equation is the capacity to embrace mystery. Faith cannot be explained entirely through the application of reason (although many brilliant people have done an astounding job throughout history of framing faith in rational arguments, from St. Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas to Immanuel Kant to CS Lewis). But we would do well to remember that reason is not the only faculty that God gave us as humans. Even the most zealous rationalist has certainly felt love at some point in his or her life, and if there is a human quality more at odds with reason than love, I sure can't think of what it is. I think Soren Kierkegaard got it right when he coined the phrase, "Leap of faith." Accepting the faith that God offers us as a gift of His own free will is an act of free will on our part as well, but it requires abandoning an experience of life that is defined entirely by reason, and leaping into the unknown.

This is an act of supreme courage in Kierkegaard's estimation, for precisely the reasons that you suggest in discussing your own lack of faith: it's not "explainable" through logic, you can't write an equation on a white board that makes it clear and accessible to all, it is not at its heart a rational act. Some people receive faith, others do not. Some people who even TRY to receive faith do not. Herein lies another element of the mystery. We must simply accept the fact that God could have made us all creatures of unquestioning faith, but for whatever reason He chose to make us free. This, as theologians have pointed out for centuries, makes us more powerful than even angels, who have no such liberty.

When we look at the unholy mess this world is in, we wonder why God would have chosen to make it this way. Many people use the fact that we're in a mess as a "proof" that God does not exist, for why would a just and loving God have made such a screwed-up world? Why would He have even allowed His creatures the capacity to screw it up so badly? If we're made in His image, why aren't we all just and loving?

Well, we could be. We all have the capacity to be just and loving, God gave us those attributes. But He also gave us another attribute, the freedom to choose to NOT be just and loving. Perhaps in this way we are again like Him, perhaps He too could choose to be nasty and selfish and petty and vindictive and jealous and deceitful and hateful and rapacious and warmongering as we choose to be, but He simply doesn't.

But there's also an element of mystery here again. Somewhere in the book of Exodus, there's a great exchange between God and Moses. Moses is, as he often was, asking God a lot of questions about why He chooses to do the things He does. Moses asks these questions of God from the framework of human understanding. But what Moses does not yet comprehend is that although he was created by God in God's image, he was not given one hundred percent of God's understanding of the universe. Some things will always and forever be a mystery to humans. If we cannot accept this truth, we cannot accept faith (indeed, for many rationalists who believe that the proper application of the intellect should be able to explain absolutely everything that we experience, this conflict is the end of faith). So Moses is challenging one of God's decisions because it doesn't "make sense" to him, from his limited human vantage point. And God says to Moses, "My ways are not your ways." That is, God acts out of an understanding that we do not share, and therefore belief in Him requires a certain resignation of our own pride and will and insistence upon everything making sense to our way of thinking, a surrender to God's will as His creations.

So when you describe your falling away from the church as the time when it "stopped making sense," you are paraphrasing in personal terms the fundamental disconnect between belief in God and belief in the ultimate supremacy of humans. We humans have a finite set of things which in our experience "make sense." The hard part about many aspects of the human condition (including the faith experience) is that we are constantly presented with things that do not "make sense." Some of these we can attempt to explain away, we can doubt our own senses, we can blame other people for tricking us, we can write it all off to insanity. But many of these insensible things refuse to go away. And this causes humans to often become very defensive. When you think you know what is and what isn't, it can be extremely aggravating when experience challenges your perceptions in an unresolvable way.

And that is how I came to a life of faith. I am a rationalist by nature, a scientist by profession, and was a vocal practicing atheist for much of my life (I grew up in a non-believing household, and never went to church as a child). I have since my youth been able to recite all of the arguments against the existence of God. But there came a point when I questioned whether my experience of reality through the window of the university classroom was giving me the whole picture. Those insensible things were nagging at me. So I began a journey, both geographical and spiritual, that took me literally to the far corners of this planet. And the more I traveled, and the more I immersed myself in cultures foreign to me, and the more I witnessed a visible, tangible reality that flatly defied my Western collegiate notion of what "makes sense," the more I became convinced of one thing: human beings are creatures with utterly remarkable gifts, capable of brilliant acts of love and creation and intellectual understanding, but we don't know everything, and ultimately, we don't run the show. We can do a lot (in fact, a whole lot more than most of us are doing now) to mold and shape our reality, but at the end of the day we cannot call a universe out of nothing or explain how that is done. Hard as it is to admit, we are limited.

How that understanding led me to the Roman Catholic faith would require a narrative of such length that this already LONG post would be rendered virtually unreadable. But to address a couple of the questions in your last paragraph, yes, I read deeply in the writings of my faith. Obviously, reading the words of Jesus Christ is the most important reading I can do in this regard. But I love the history of the church in all of its flawed human glory, I love all of its sanctity and profanity, I enjoy reading the works of people of much greater faith and intellect than I struggling with the faith experience. Because yes, I do question my faith, I struggle with it every day, not just with some of the doctrines of the church, but with fundamental questions about the nature of God and the course of human salvation. I don't know what to think of people who have a simple, unquestioning approach to faith, I cannot relate to them on any level (although I suppose in some ways I envy them to a degree, they have to work a lot less hard than I do). But ultimately, there are two components to my experience of faith and religion. One is temporary, and fallible, and potentially dangerous and constantly in need of vigilance and reform, because it comes from mortal humans. But the other is constant, eternal, immutable, perfect in ways that we cannot comprehend and not subject to reform by us, because it comes from God. Reconciling these components is the "work" of faith. But the answer to the questions lies not in work, but in quiet, and contemplation, and acceptance of God's gift of love to you and I, whom He loves beyond all other things.



(Edited because I can NEVER get all of the spelling and grammer right on the first pass... *sigh*)
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 11:17 AM
Response to Reply #50
71. Quahog,
That was a beautiful post!

As for your love for, despite your constant struggle with, the Catholic faith, I understand what you mean. Everyday I struggle. I also don't know what to make of people who believe that faith is easy. For me, it takes constant prayer, thought, and reflection. Questions of theology are not simple. And it takes a lot of prayer and study to determine my beliefs as of now.

As for the poster who began this thread, I have to agree with Cheswick and some of the other posters who are disheartened by the originators purpose. There are many people here who gave beautiful testaments to various faiths, and that is followed by words whose intentions serve just to TRY to make people feel stupid.

Sadly, you can not make me feel stupid for my faith, for I have spent the last ten years reading theological arguments for and against Christianity. I've read writers who are much more intelligent than myself. St. Augustine, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Terese of Liseux. St. Theresa of Avila. C.S. Lewis. Henry Nyguen. Peter Kreft.

I accept that people may not want to believe, and I would never infringe on their rights or their desire not to be bothered with religious belief. But, I also find it condescending and terrible when someone dismisses faith in God or gods as "falling for a fairy tale." It is much more than that. Here is a website with people of varying degrees of liberal leanings, and many of us are very intelligent. A belief in a deity does not mean their thoughts are irrational. And it's dangerous to assume that it does. The only result of that type of prejudice will be to alienate a good number of people whose political thoughts match your own ideology.
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Quahog Donating Member (704 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 12:09 PM
Response to Reply #71
75. Thanks, DG
A running gag of mine is that the only thing I'm intolerant of is intolerance. I don't presume to "know" a whole lot of things, and I try to remain as open to others as my own morals and patience will allow. I have been driven away from bartcop.com by the constant and vicious Catholic-bashing there, and have flirted with the idea of leaving off posting here as well. But what can I say, I am a DU junkie.

I fail to understand the mindset of those who do not believe and are completely unwilling to entertain the possibility that they just might be wrong. I cant' imagine going through life with that level of absolute certainty. I consider myself a person of faith, I am deeply involved in music minsitry in my parish, and yet I probably question that faith at least once a day. I think certainty breeds complacence, and I don't want to go there. Once you think you know it all, the process of learning ends. How sad is that?

I also find curious the need for many persons without faith to attack those who embrace God. What do they hope to accomplish? They're certainly not making friends. They're certainly not diplaying the sort of tolerance and inclusiveness that one would excpect from a person calling themselves liberal or progressive. They're not making the tent any bigger. And it's clear that they're not perceiving the value of having people of all faiths and all philosophical and spiritual persuasions calling themselves proud liberals and Democrats. Seems that this strengthens our cause, so I can't understand why anyone would attack that.

Also, as many here are probably sick of being reminded by me, Catholics are notoriously liberal voters. Check out the laws and elected officials in the most Catholic states, MA and RI. Why would Democrats want to make enemies of such a large contingent of their own party? Puzzling.

I don't waste a lot of time questioning the motives of people who post these threads. Usually I avoid them, but found myself this morning in the mood to reflect on my faith and share with this community. I don't think the value of my contribution, if any, is diminished by the original poster's agenda.

Keep praying... no more years... no more years....

Peace!
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 05:39 AM
Response to Reply #75
104. I don't really attack people who believe in gods
but I will sometimes try to persuade them that they're wrong. So I'll try to give you an idea of my motivations, which may or may not be those of others.

Seeing someone who let's their life choices be guided by religious faith, especially organised religion, can sometimes make me think: what a waste of human talent. Rather than making their own decisions, they're leaving it up to someone else - typically the long-dead writer of a book. And they also become vulnerable to people who claim to be a conduit for 'Truth' or 'Salvation', but are really out to make a quick buck. I'd rather the person was independent, and contributing new thoughts to society (because I enjoy a vibrant society).

Perhaps you have the same feeling about astrology - which seems to me to be fundamentally incompatible with any Christian faith. I simply can't understand why anyone would think that patterns of stars and planets would have the slightest bearing on the personality or experiences of humans. If they don't change their behaviour as a result, and just regard it as a bit of fun, it doesn't really matter; but when you get someone who actually decides not to date someone because their star sign is incompatible, it's infuriating.

Similarly, I can get on easily with someone who regards faith as a philosophical quest, while making their own decisions about day-to-day life should be lived; but when their religious faith makes them decide something like 'homosexuality is bad, purely because it says so in this book, and my priest told me several times', that's infuriating too.

And religion can seem like a slippery slope. By saying "Jesus is my Saviour, and we should all love one another", you also encourage others to say "this book says Jesus is my Saviour, and loads of us believe that; therefore it must be true, and by the way that means homosexuals will burn in hell, because that's in the book too".
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Quahog Donating Member (704 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 08:51 AM
Response to Reply #104
106. Wow, even more to respond to here
So let's take it one issue at a time.

"Seeing someone who let's their life choices be guided by religious faith, especially organised religion, can sometimes make me think: what a waste of human talent."

There is absolutely no way in which a life of faith should in any manner inhibit the pursuit or expression of one's God-given talents. Indeed, Jesus preached against hiding your lamp under a basket. It is a denial of faith in God as creator to deny one's own gifts and to fail to make good use of them; this is a big part of the broader meaning of "sloth." So I see no way whatsoever that faith in God causes talent to be wasted. I would love a concrete example, as it seems here that you are simply identifying something as endemic to a life of faith because you feel like saying it. Precisely what talents are humans obliged not to use once they adopt a religion?

"Rather than making their own decisions, they're leaving it up to someone else - typically the long-dead writer of a book."

People of faith make all of their own decisions. It is not possible for someone else to make a decision for you except under some sort of extreme duress, e.g., threat of severe physical harm to yourself or a loved one. And even under these circumstances, one may still make a moral decision for oneself; an excellent illustration of this would be the huge number of Christian martyrs who allowed themselves to be tortured to death in the most appalling ways imaginable rather than commit what they believed was an immoral act. Faith in God guides the decision making process. Go back to the basics, and look at the ten commandments. I think there are very few if any circumstances under which one could legitimately argue that it's a good "decision" to act in a manner contrary to those commandments. You may say, "But I really WANT to kill this guy I hate, and if I follow the commandment not to do so just because it's in a book by a dead writer, that limits my ability to make my own decisions." Well, the only thing it's doing at that point is preventing you from making a horrible decision.

At the heart of your argument lies an assumption that I believe is inherently false, namely, that the morality prescribed by a life of faith is in stark contrast to the way that people really want to live. It has not been my experience in life that this is so. Humankind shares a common moral code to a degree, and in every society, people who insist upon violating that code are seen as detached from society at the very least, or at worst criminal and deserving of punishment. Do we really admire a theif, a murderer or and adulterer because of the independence of their decision-making? If so, then the people we most revile in history, from Caligula to the Spanish Inquisitors to Hitler to Charles Manson, should indeed be the ones we admire most, for these are the people who showed the greatest courage and conviction in defying the moral precepts contained in books by dead authors.

"And they also become vulnerable to people who claim to be a conduit for 'Truth' or 'Salvation', but are really out to make a quick buck."

Some humans are weak and vulnerable, easily manipulated, and constantly on the lookout for someone to tell them what to do. This quality makes them easy prey for all sorts of criminals, of whom pseudo-religious shysters are but a small subset. Such people are just as easily victimized by crooks running real estate or insurance scams, "New World Order" whack jobs trying to save them from the black helicopters, or even abusive spouses who always say that they're sorry after the fact and promise to never do it again. What you are indicting here is not religion. In fact, you are not even indicting ersatz religion as a cover for larceny. You are indicting weak people for allowing themselves to be victimized by evil people. I don't pretend to know the solution to this problem, but I feel strongly that it's not eliminating religion. You might as well say, "We should really disallow all health insurance, because gullible seniors are often robbed of their life savings in bogus insurance scams."

"I'd rather the person was independent, and contributing new thoughts to society (because I enjoy a vibrant society)."

You mean, people like St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, Michelangelo, Martin Luther, Fra Angelico, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, the Dalai Lama, Raphael, Johann Sebastian Bach, St. Maximillian Kolbe, Thomas Merton, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, C.S. Lewis, Francesco Goya, Soren Kierkegaard, the settlers of Massachusetts Bay Colony (and later, Roger Williams), Benjamin Britten, Fulton Sheen, Mahvishnu John McLaughlin, Nikos Kazantzakis, Freidrich Handel, and all the tens of thousands of others who have created some of society's most enduring art, music, literature, architecture and philosophy all for the greater glory of God? Independent people like these? Or are you talking about a different kind of societal vibrancy?

"Perhaps you have the same feeling about astrology - which seems to me to be fundamentally incompatible with any Christian faith. I simply can't understand why anyone would think that patterns of stars and planets would have the slightest bearing on the personality or experiences of humans. If they don't change their behaviour as a result, and just regard it as a bit of fun, it doesn't really matter; but when you get someone who actually decides not to date someone because their star sign is incompatible, it's infuriating."

We're in the apples and oranges zone here on at least two levels. First of all, astrology says nothing about the origin of humankind, it deals not at all with issues of the soul, it is utterly divorced from any notions of morality, it is concerned with neither good nor bad. Astrology is simply the belief that the positioning of inanimate objects in space directs the course of human history. Religion, by definition, involves not only the acknowledgement of but the worship of some deity. While astrology is dependent upon the acceptance of a "power" greater than oneself, that power is not rightly considered a deity, it has no personhood, it is simply believed to be. I believe that by accepted definitions (not implying any sort of a value judgement here, so no flames please), astrology would more properly be classified as a superstition than a religion or faith. I don't know of anyone who believes in astrology who prays to the planets (although this is not to suggest that such people do not exist).

On another level, you are again describing decision making, and how astrology might affect this process in one who believes in the power of the alignment of heavenly bodies. I, too, find this frustrating, because I see so little evidence that what is contained in astrological texts really bears out in real life. I have read my horoscope in the paper for years. It is correct so seldom, that I have to call those occasions mere coincidence. Were I to make actual decisions in my life based on astrology, the likelihood that those decisions would result in a positive outcome would be entirely arbitrary, based on my experience.

However, I see enormous evidence in history and in my own experience that decisions made based on true faith have positive outcomes. So when I try to do as Jesus instructs, to treat others as I would like to be treated, to take care of those less fortunate than myself, to be open and loving to all people (especially those who dislike me), to act based on how my actions will affect others more than how they will benefit me, to comfort those who are greiving, to feed those who are hungry, to remain humble and thankful for the many gifts that God has given me, and to strive always to act out of selflessness and love, I see good things happen, I get the positive outcomes that I desire. When I act out of greed, or selfishness, or lust, or pride, I see negative outcomes. When my neo-con nutcase coworker drops a twenty dollar bill on the floor in his cubicle and I notice it in passing, I could easily pocket it and tell myself, "Serves him right, he's an asshole." But then how does that reflect upon me? How am I furthering the just and loving world that I would like to live in? How will I feel spending that twenty dollars? What is the long-term damage that I do to my own spirit by acting out of greed and spite? But if I pick up the twenty, go find my coworker in the cafeteria and say, "Here, you dropped this," the impact is utterly different. My conscience is unburdened, I have extended a kindness which I may hope might be extended to me one day (althoug this is certainly not the motive for doing the right thing, it can be a wonderful side benefit), and I have done something to further the cause of creating a just and loving world.

My point here is, don't conflate the rejection of a potential lover due to their star sign with making decisions based on deep and thoughtful moral conviction. People who consult their star chart before making a decision are demonstrating the same kind of weakness as those who fall for TV preachers and send in all of their savings; they are simply looking for someone to tell them what to do, so that they can wash their hands of any responsibility for their own lives. A life of faith demands that every decision be examined critically from the standpoint of moral judgement. Ultimately, if one is living faith truly and responsibly, these decisions must be made entirely within oneself, but with profound sensitivity to the greater good of all mankind.

"Similarly, I can get on easily with someone who regards faith as a philosophical quest, while making their own decisions about day-to-day life should be lived; but when their religious faith makes them decide something like 'homosexuality is bad, purely because it says so in this book, and my priest told me several times', that's infuriating too."

I believe you are accurately contrasting in this paragraph persons of faith with persons who are merely "religious," in the sense that they have glommed onto an organized religious body, acquiesced to that body's authority, and as I suggest above, have thereby relinquished responsibility for their own actions. You're right, that's infuriating.

Most religions have their texts and their leaders. These can be good and bad things. Since you're talking about the bible, let's work with that, but I think what I will say here applies broadly. The bible is a mess. It is not a historiography, as the literallists insist. There's allegory, there's poetry, there's erotica, there's animal husbandry, there are recipies and dietary instructions, there's even the results of a census. Much of what's there makes little sense when taken strictly at face value. Framing it within a historical context can be helpful for some passages, and useless for others. At the end of the day, it's open to a lot of interpretation. Here's where the leaders come in. As I said in my original post, leaders are human beings and therefore subject to every human failing. Any given Christian leader might be interpreting the bible rightly, or they might just as easily be way off base.

Problem is, Christianity is a complicated thing. Understanding the message of God through Jesus Christ and how this all ties into the salvific vision for humankind is not a simple matter. It helps to have a guru, just as it helps in learning the disciplines of Zen Buddhism. If you just go it alone, the propensity for greivous error is simply too great. So those who are thoughtful about their faith and about their commitment to Christ seek out a community which teaches something which resonates with their own moral convictions. But for a person of true faith, this must always imply questioning, because as I said, the leaders are human and subject to error. Nobody's perfect, so no matter who you're following, they're bound to be wrong some of the time. As an adult convert to the Roman Catholic church, I was drawn to the deep history and long tradition of art, philosophy, music and intellectual examination the institution has produced. But I have always felt that some church doctrine is utterly wrong (e.g., birth control... yeah, like we really need more people jammed onto this planet, laying waste to God's creation... but that's another long post....). The priest who guided me through the sacraments was a true guru, and when I confronted him with this, he assured me that this did not mean I was a "bad Catholic." It simply means that I am a person of deep and thoughtful faith, and that I am therefore obliged to always think long and hard about why I am making a decision that contradicts church doctrine, and make certain that it's out of moral conviction rather than convenience or self-interest. Then I'm in the clear.

And he often reminded me that Jesus defied virtually every dogmatic precept of his day, and yet lived the most holy and faithful life of all.

"And religion can seem like a slippery slope. By saying "Jesus is my Saviour, and we should all love one another", you also encourage others to say "this book says Jesus is my Saviour, and loads of us believe that; therefore it must be true, and by the way that means homosexuals will burn in hell, because that's in the book too"."

Well, no you don't really encourage others to say that at all. I have said for years that Jesus is my Savior and that we should all love one another, but I have never encouraged anyone to hate a homosexual. I mean, you can say things like this, God made us free, you can say whatever you damn well please! But you cannot make these two statements and sincerely believe both of them. One is founded in love and truth, the other is founded in hatred and error. I'm not going to quibble about which passage in the bible is supposedly referring to anal intercourse between men (unless of course it isn't, it's talking about something else), because that's hardly the point. Gay bashing clothed in a veil of Christian righteousness is just one symptom of a major spiritual disease, a cancer of the soul, it is common among humans everywhere, and it is certainly not the fault of God.

God gave humans the capacity to fear. Now, fear is a wonderful, indispensible emotion, I think. If you're walking down the street at night and you look down a dark alley and at the end you see three big guys picking their teeth with switchblades, fear is the best thing you can feel, because fear will tell you to run, and running will probably save your life. We have an instinctive fear of the unknown as well. But God also gave us shame (and there is certainly a place for this emotion too... I think we all wish bush* was capable of feeling it). And especially in American culture, we have taught ourselves to be ashamed of fear. You psychologists out there can supply all of the terminology (I always get association and transference and all that stuff confused), but you know what happens when we are ashamed of something, we try to turn it into something else. We fear what we do not understand, and we are ashamed of that fear. The two things we can turn this into are inquisitiveness or anger. If we turn it into inquisitveness, we attempt to learn about and understand the unknown thing we fear, and thereby render it no longer fearsome. If we turn it into anger, then we have saddled ourselves with another emotion that we feel some shame about, and eventually we need to simply band together with other ignorant, fearful, ashamed and angry people for moral support.

Sadly, such an organization of individuals often takes the form of a church. But once again, the fact that people do this does not make churches, or religion, or faith "bad" in and of themselves. There are racist, sexist universities in this country, but no one's saying "I don't believe in higher education, look at the horrible people who flock to it." You don't amputate the legs of everyone in the hospital just because the guy in 308-B has gangrene. This is neither logical nor moral thinking.

Yes, some churches harbor hate. Some people who go to churches do not think for themselves. None of these churches or people have anything to do with faith, I believe, exept insofar as they use an erroneous expression of Christian faith as a cover for their own moral failings. The easy way out is to say, "OK, I guess faith is good, but churches are all bad." But this is also wrong. The Catholic church has been responsible for enormous social good in its history, and at this time gives more money away to the needy than every other charitable organization on the planet combined. A huge portion of the good the church has done could not have been accomplished by individuals working independently without organization. Of course, the church has also been responsible for incredible atrocities, many of which were abetted by that same organization. But you can find this ambiguity in every human endeavor. We don't condemn science because some discoveries help mankind while others cause death and destruction. All of these things are what people make of them. Faith is, ultimately, what we make of it.

And that is about as independent as one can get. Each of us is resonsible for defining our own relationship with God. And God would not have it any other way.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 10:17 AM
Response to Reply #106
109. Well, if you thought I gave a lot to respond too
I hardly know where to start! ;-) I'll take a few of what seem the most important points.

Precisely what talents are humans obliged not to use once they adopt a religion?
Not necessarily 'obliged not to use'; but thinking about how we affect each other can get left by the wayside - eg some evangelicals think that Bush must be honest and caring, because he mentions God a lot; Muslims are not meant to criticise each other when talking to non-Muslims, which means they can end up with double standards.

Go back to the basics, and look at the ten commandments. I think there are very few if any circumstances under which one could legitimately argue that it's a good "decision" to act in a manner contrary to those commandments.
Now here's a typical religious problem. We get all 10 commandments together, and I think some are irrelevant, and others much more important. Let's actually go through them:

3 "You shall have no other gods before me.
Purely to do with worship. A lot of the world does break this one every day.
4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.
as above. I'm not happy about the multi-generation punishment at all. It smacks of taking hostages.
7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Again, it's about respect for God. Nothing to do with people. What is so bad about swearing? It's a form of communication. I certainly break this one a lot, even though I don't believe in God.
8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Getting a rest now and then may be a good idea, but the strictness of this is absurd. A vanishingly small part of the world pays any attention to this these days.
12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Well, I am grateful to them, and I love them, and respect a lot of what they say - but not everything. And some people's parents have treated them pretty badly. How much honour should they get? This is where human thought should enter into it. A commandment like this can be used to excuse authoritarian behaviour by parents.
13 "You shall not murder.
A good one. This translation says 'murder', which everyone agrees on; some say 'kill', which is much more problematic. One of the problems with taking guidance from a book written so long ago, I guess.
14 "You shall not commit adultery.
Another good one.
15 "You shall not steal.
and another
16 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
If 'neighbour' means 'anyone', then another good one. The clarification in the New Testament does say this; but this wording alone implies there's someone in the world you can lie about.And does this just cover lying about someone else's actions? What about lying about your own? Is that OK?
17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Again, the 'neighbour' caveat. Is this a prohibition against wanting material items, or against wanting to deprive other people of them? There's a lot of difference. We need to use thought to sort out what we will do in our lives about this.

There are some important rules for life left out of these too - like not injuring someone, or enslaving them. And yet an awful lot of people say 'the 10 Commandments are the basis for our society' - when they're not. As a general guideline, Jesus' commandment of "love you neighbour as yourself" is a lot more useful (and stated in many religions and philosophies), but that doesn't get the press that the 10 do. Religion has got people to go to these 10 when they do have a lot of faults.

It's not that I think that we're all yearning to break the basic morality of any one religion; but we're better off using discussion, experience and thought to arrive at a working system of ethics, rather than a fixed one. There are real contradictions between major religions (and sects in them), such as the use of the death penalty; adhering to one religion means either not thinking about it, or saying "well, God, I mostly agree with you, but I'm afraid you're wrong on this one", which goes against the spirit of worshipping a higher being. I'm glad you are happy being able to reject bits of Catholic dogma that you don't agree with, but I suppose my attitude is 'why start from a large set of someone else's beliefs, a lot of which you have to start off accepting without proof or reason, and then work out which don't make sense to you? Why not build up your beliefs yourself? - in which case the chances of you coming out with anything looking like an existing religion are tiny.'

I really do think that religions make people more vulnerable to exploitation, because they give them a whole new area to worry about (for which they have no evidence): what happens to you when you're dead. Unlike financial con-artists, who make a promise of something that would be real, religions tell you there's an afterlife, or reincarnation, and so you need to change your behaviour because of it. Many also tell you that giving money to support the priests etc. will help you there. This is a con.

Your list of high achievers is great; but I'm talking about the everyday person getting involved. I think religious dogma hinders that involvement.

However, I see enormous evidence in history and in my own experience that decisions made based on true faith have positive outcomes
This is probably where our fundamental difference is. I feel that a general spirit of cooperation between people is great (it certainly makes me happy, and I also like seeing others happy); but I also think that so many people, and cultures, who tend towards Christ's ideals get stiffed in life, while others who are sociopaths do well, that I just can't see the evidence for 'you get what you deserve'. Neither can I see any evidence for an afterlife; and so the idea of higher beings as anything other than the initial creators of the universe pretty much goes out of the window for me. And creation may be an interesting topic for discussion, but it doesn't have a bearing on how we live our lives.

Sorry - I've run out of time. ;-)
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Randers Donating Member (252 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 10:14 AM
Response to Reply #104
108. "but when their religious faith makes them decide"
Edited on Fri Sep-17-04 10:14 AM by Randers
I think people are deciding that themselves. Jesus made no reference to homosexuals - his message was to love - not to hate - and not to look for reasons to hate.

There are all kinds of things in there, esp. by Paul, that I don't agree with. I just figure he didn't quite get the whole message. Nobodys perfect - and I wish people would not suggest that his writings are... ( He said they were not).

I also think the emphasis on saved and unsaved - in and out of the "club" is not consistant with the "ethical philosophy" Jesus was trying to relate. IMO. For some people - the "club" aspect is very important. I have to separate that aspect from what I believe to be the essense or I would have to reject everything.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #108
112. And yet all major Christian sects keep Paul in the New Testament
rather than, say, putting him on a par with St. Augustine. They also keep the Old Testament in, pretty much all agreeing on which books. This idea of a fixed text with a special holiness is very rigid, and unhelpful, I think.
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IdaBriggs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 09:05 AM
Response to Original message
52. Sorry this has to be short, but....
For me, faith helps me to live my life on a daily basis. My relationship with God helps me to view others with some compassion. I do not believe in a vengeful or nasty creator, but a loving and merciful one. Faith does not protect one from tragedy, but helps one cope with it. Trials and tribulations are necessary for our personal and spiritual growth. Think of the lessons you learned from some of the worst moments in your life, and then say to yourself "that was the best thing that ever happened to me because...." and you will start to get my take on things. I am not a Christian as I do not believe in Sin ("learning experiences" in my vernacular), Heaven or Hell (reincarnation), or someone else paying for my crimes (those are MY learning opportunities, thank you). I do, however, find great comfort in the Bible, and believe in living my life according to the teachings of Christ and the majority of Teachers on this planet who basically all say the same thing: "be nice to each other." I believe God is good, and even when things happen that I don't understand, there is always a reason and a plan that may or may not be clear to me. I believe in prayer because in my life, it works (sometimes in AMAZING ways)! I believe in poetic justice. I believe we create our own reality by our perception of it -- filled with hope or despair, anger or compassion, love or hate. Each of us is a Child of God, loved by God, and given the opportunity to live a joyous life; what we do with that opportunity is up to us. Hope this helps! Best, Ida
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shawn703 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 09:21 AM
Response to Original message
53. As a relatively new Christian
That's a bunch of questions at once, and each one would take a lot of writing for me to answer. I'm not sure if there's certain parts of my beliefs you question, or if it's just "Why do I believe?"

First off, I was baptized as a Catholic, went to Episcopalian and Catholic churches once in a while (I guess my mom couldn't really figure out which church she wanted to go to), but we pretty much stopped going when I was about age 8 or so. Neither parent was really religious. My mother was raised a VERY strict Catholic, and I think she ended up rebelling against it later on in life. My father was, and I think still is, an agnostic.

As for me, I eventually became an atheist - I thought everything thought to be a miracle could be explained by science, those who believed in religion just used it as a crutch, and that there was no afterlife. I believed that my life was all I had, I might as well live it the way I wanted to. Curiously enough, during this part of my life I also was a very conservative Republican. I didn't identify with the Religious Right, but I did believe that those with money earned what they had, and those without it didn't have it because they didn't work hard enough. I was very self-centered, and I planned to go to medical school just because physicians made good money.

My college years are pretty hazy to me. I had really good grades, but there was also a lot of drinking, and a couple of stints in the hospital for severe depression. I eventually dropped out of school because my heart wasn't in it anymore.

It wasn't until 1999 that I accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour, and shortly after I became a hard-core liberal Democrat (in time to vote for Gore in 2000). I'm not sure why Christianity led to the change in politics, since most people at my Southern Baptist church are pro-Republican. It was the ministry of my future in-laws that changed my heart. I can't explain why at that moment I suddenly changed (since I used to do all sorts of things, like point out inconsistencies in the Bible to people who would try and minister to me in the past.) Something in me said this is the truth. But ever since then my life has totally changed. Why do I believe? Because my heart tells me it's the truth.
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stlchic Donating Member (272 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 09:34 AM
Response to Original message
55. You know, this starts off sounding like a sincere inquiry
but then your later posts obviously demonstrate that you're simply out to tell people that their reasons for faith are silly, or using it as a launching topic to try to convince them that their faith is misplaced.

Kinda like when an evangelist came up to me and "sincerely" asked, just out of curiousity you understand, as to what was my source of comfort in times of trouble. When I let him know that it wasn't religious based, he asked me, with all the flair of a car salesman, if I was interested in something that, "actually worked." (real quote).

If you were really just simply curious about the experience of others, you would look at their answers and leave it at that instead of writing it off as mythology based idiocy.

BTW - it's obvious you have a problem with Judeo-Christianity and other organized religion. But what prompted you to abandon the belief in any supreme being whatsoever - one that is beyond any human conceieved religion? (You obviously abandoned theism, but why not deism?)
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laruemtt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 09:46 AM
Response to Original message
57. i personally cannot look at the universe
around me (sans what homo sapiens have done to screw things up) and NOT believe there is a higher power running things. and by the same token because of how much we've screwed up, i believe in a savior who somehow still loves us and will forgive us or else we are truly doomed. i can't believe this is all for nothing. that's just me. i don't see any conflict between that belief and the science of the universe, nor between any other "true" faiths, which do NOT include the freeper or * variety of christianity. those are perversions. i also believe there will be karmic retribution for the shit these supposed christians have dealt out.

i like the rosicrucian beliefs, and the bahai faith. i've lived in an ashram. i've studied judaism. and i really like yogananda's approach.

sorry to ramble. i love talking spiritual stuff, and haven't really been able to since my daddy passed, as he and i could go on and on for hours talking about god.
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #57
77. Me, Too
Spirituality and philosophy are my hobbies. Start a thread any time and there's always plenty of us ready to engage in the conversation.
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #57
78. Me, Too
Spirituality and philosophy are my hobbies. Start a thread any time and there's always plenty of us ready for conversation on here.
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FlaGranny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 10:03 AM
Response to Original message
60. Faith?
The following is a definition of the kind of faith I possess.
"LOYALTY b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions" - (Miriam-Webster Online). That's it.

I don't have any faith in god. How could I have faith in a god that allowed my child to be murdered? He or she does not sit up there in heaven watching over all our lives. If there is a god he/she probably has more important things to do than babysit the inhabitants of a small planet on the outskirts of our galaxy. Although there might be a remote possibility of a "being" we might think of as a god, he obviously cares little for humanity. If god exists, he is a cruel god. The good I've seen in my life has come from the kindness of other people - people who were being kind because that was in their nature, not because of god (although others are free to believe that god was "working" through good people).

Although I have no faith as described in this thread, I'm an optimistic and basically happy person who follows a tradition of doing my best not to harm others and to do good where I can.

If I am wrong about all this and there is a good god in his heaven who really cares about humanity, then that god would not punish me for my lack of faith and belief in him and when I die I will go to heaven, as will all the people I have loved and admired throughout my life (regardless of their "sins"). Any other kind of god is a petulent and petty god that I have no desire to spend eternity with.

Belief in an afterlife is a side effect of our own self awareness. Many just cannot imagine that we are temporary. I understand the feeling and the need of many for a faith in god. I won't begrudge anyone the comfort that this faith provides.

My lack of understanding of faith begins where organized religion begins. I guess I cannot fathom anyone blindly following their teachings when they all contradict each other so very much.

Peace and prosperity to all.
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 01:39 PM
Response to Reply #60
79. Interesting
I respect your opinions and beliefs, but have you ever considered that Satan was probably the one behind the death of your child? Do you ever wonder if the loss of your child was some kind of test for you? Every day is a test for me, yet everything's that has happened would never make me blame God for my problems. I believe that God and Satan are in constant battle, and that this century was given to the Devil - to see just how much damage he can do, how many souls he can capture. He is definitely doing a good job of things, but in the end, God will still prevail. Just sharing. Take care and peace!
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immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 07:23 PM
Response to Reply #79
99. You have found one of the problem areas
What do God and Satan have to argue about?

God, being God, created Satan and can kick his ass any time he wants. Or he can get Satan to agree to conflict resolution. God can play with his toys and Satan can play with his.

If God really loves us, why doesn't he stop sending people to hell, and stop tempting (teasing) people to break the rules? And what do these rules accomplish anyway if the end game is fixed?

I see proclaimations of faith "for those who are open to it." Reality does not care if you believe in it or not.

--IMM
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jackieforthedems Donating Member (534 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 11:21 AM
Response to Reply #99
116. Response
I think God and Satan have plenty to argue about. It's been said that the 20th century was given to Satan to see just how much damage he can do because right now is a time of tribulation. God isn't the one tempting anybody - Satan is. People are given free will by God, and make their own choices regarding their eternal destinations. Nothing is fixed in the end because of that. These are just my opinions, and I did not start this thread. Take care!
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immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-18-04 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #116
119. If God is so good and powerful,
why doesn't he just kick Satan's ass out of the universe and vanquish evil? Is he the creator of not?

--IMM
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-04 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #119
121. Fundamentalist Christianity believes in two separate gods
No one admits this, but its the truth. In literalizing the symbol of "Satan," he has been elevated to this stature of a non human, supernatural figure with the power to oppose God. And no amount of rationalization about how he is "tolerated or allowed" by God will suffice.

The truth of the matter is however that the only real devil there is is the devil of our own selfishness our own evil. The only hell there is is the hell we create for ourselves every day we live in alienation and estrangement from ourselves, those around us and the world in which we exist - living in that isolation from creation itself is to live in isolation from "god" which is a far more serious and painful hell than fantasy stories of fire and brimstone and the evil boogy man satan would ever be. The real devil, the evil capabilities and easily corruptible nature of the human heart, is the far more serious and threatening devil.

So anyway, my point is your question is absolutely valid, and points to one of several unfortunate side effects of literalizing symbolic religious myth which could have served a much more beautiful and informative place in the lives of so many had it not been perverted and distorted into ridiculous absolutist literalism.
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Ron Green Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 05:35 PM
Response to Reply #60
86. It seems that God is not something external to us, who would
allow (or cause) a child to die, but something of which we are part of, something so universal as to contain all of what we know as good and also what we call "bad." I don't really accept the idea of Satan as a person or being, but I think of the "evil" that comes from pain and fear as being simply the absence of a connection with God. I feel that we have the choice to be connected (or not) to the source of all being. When we feel pain or fear, we have lost our connection... and our job, it seems, is to find our way back through the muck of this life.
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-04 10:10 AM
Response to Reply #60
123. Here are mine:
Faith:
1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
6. A set of principles or beliefs.

from: American Heritage Dictionary
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mvd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 11:24 AM
Response to Original message
72. I'm spiritual and not very religious
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 11:24 AM by mvd
I want there to be more to things than this world. This world is wonderous, but unfulfilling. I strongly believe in a higher power, Christ being the Messiah, an afterlife (a spirit world of sorts,) and also non-violence items taught by Christians (war as last resort, no death penalty even though it seems some deserve it because of their lack of remorse, etc.) But I don't believe in blindly following a faith. Do I question myself? I think everyone has questions, because nothing is 100% sure.
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The Traveler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 12:16 PM
Response to Original message
76. Faith and Reason
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 12:20 PM by robg
Oddly, the two are not incompatible. I have come to conclude that the schism between scientific and mystical viewpoints is complete unnecessary.

(WARNING: Long, wordy post follows.)

I was raised Catholic, but Science was my passion. I eventually got a degree in physics with a minor in philosophy. You and I asked the same questions, and like you I eventually came to regard myself agnostic.

Certain experiences in my early twenties caused me to re-examine my position. No need to go into them here. Suffice to say I was drawn into an examination of my epistemological stance ... I was wrestling with experiences difficult to explain and what philosophers term "Theory of Knowledge". In grad school, I switched from physics to information science so as to better explore the field of human cognition and artificial intelligence.

I came to the realization that the power of the human mind to comprehend the Universe is limited. Perception and thought are closely linked, and human perception is notoriously limited. Our senses, the channels by which we receive all experience of the "world outside our skulls", are limited and crude. We extend our range with instruments: radio telescopes, electron microscopes, GeLi detectors and such ... but when using them we are not observing the Universe we are observing our instruments in operation.

I came to the further realization the Science is not about Truth. Science is a way of producing and organizing experience according to the Scientific Method. Science is about telling us how our instruments will operate under certain conditions, and from that we can construct stories and predict how our instruments will operate under different conditions. Scientific theory is useful to the degree it makes useful predictions. What follows illustrates the point.

If I am designing a car or building a bridge, I will use the Newtonian mechanics because its predictions are useful in that realm. On the other hand if I am designing semi-conductor chips, I will resort to quantum mechanics for Newton's predictions are useless. In other situations I will resort to relativistic mechanics. Which of these theories is "true"? All, and none. Relativity and QM are fundamentally incompatible, though both replicate Newton's results in the limit of small velocities (relativity) or large quantum numbers (quantum mechanics) ... a fancy way of saying when you apply these formalisms to commonly encountered human conditions, they produce results similar to Newtons. Yet the formalism of relativity can never produce the predictions of QM, or vice versa.

This reminds me of "Goedel's Theorem". A mathematician named Goedel showed that no formal system (e.g. and algebra or formal computer language) can ever be both consistent and complete. It will either produce contradictory results, or it will not be able to produce all "legal" results. This is a fundamental statement about the limitations of human cognitive processes.

Scientific truth is important because it is useful. Do I believe in the Theory of Evolution? Sure. I "believe" in it because it allows me to predict things like structural similarities between the DNA of related species. But, I wasn't there ... I didn't see it happen ... I have no direct experience of it. Do I "believe" in global warming? Of course. Application of fundamental principles of physics and chemistry lead you inexorably to the idea. It was predicted, and our instruments are behaving consistent with those predictions, and themselves make sense in the context of what we are experiencing (melting glaciers, dying species, intense hurricane seasons, etc.)

But Scientific Truth does me no good when facing my own personal holocaust, or when I must comfort a child whose parent has died of cancer, or when a series of improbable coincidences propel me to a place where my skills are required to help someone else.

The teachings of Jesus as expressed in the Sermon on the Mount are dynamically useful in those situations. So also are certain teachings from Western paganism and Celtic mythology, American Indian tradition, Buddhist tradition ... take your pick of traditions and tools.

The language of the mystic is not that of science ... it is the language of poetry. It addresses both the conscious and subconscious mind. Its Truth is not Scientific Truth. Do I believe in the Judeo-Christian Creation myth? Sure. I also believe in the Hindu creation myth. They express different aspects of the Truth in different symbolism.

Critical to retaining faith, for me, is a realization that religious symbols do not capture God, that no system of expression can be both consistent and complete, that we are really quite limited beings and its unlikely that we will ever find satisfactory answers to all those big questions.

If we believe we have those answers, we are essentially defining the limits of the Divine's action. We are saying we have succeeded in putting the Transcendent into a box of our conception. American Evangelism attempts to put God in a box, and the results are predictably disastrous. The God they experience is the God they allow themselves to see through their perceptual filters. They justify atrocity on the basis of the certainty of their faith, in direct violation of the Jesus Christ teaching. This is the kind of inconsistancy Goedel tells us about, in their attempt to completely extend the precepts of their particular brand of Chrisitan faith into all realms of human experience.

The Song of Solomon is beautiful and wise ... but useless when building a bridge or considering stem cells for therapeutic use. Nor can the science of statics help us much when regarding the role of erotic love in our approach to obtaining the experience of the Divine. No single system of thought can capture the answers to all those big questions.

As Ranier Rilke once observed, sometimes you have to choose to simply love the questions. A corollary is that only a fool believes he knows the answers. It is my experience that faith is most strong and wise when it gladly dances with doubt.

Happy trails.
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Sophree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #76
87. Your post reminded me of a George Lucas interview
With Bill Moyers about the "Theology of Star Wars." It's a fantastic interview.

http://www.next-wave.org/may99/starwars.htm

The Theology of Star Wars

By Rogier Bos

****SNIP*****

MOYERS: One explanation for the popularity of Star Wars when it appeared is that by the end of the 1970s, the hunger for spiritual experience was no longer being satisfied sufficiently by the traditional vessels of faith.

LUCAS: I put the Force into the movie in order to try to awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people--more a belief in God than a belief in any particular religious system. I wanted to make it so that young people would begin to ask questions about the mystery. Not having enough interest in the mysteries of life to ask the question, "Is there a God or is there not a God?"--that is for me the worst thing that can happen. I think you should have an opinion about that. Or you should be saying, "I'm looking. I'm very curious about this, and I am going to continue to look until I can find an answer, and if I can't find an answer, then I'll die trying." I think it's important to have a belief system and to have faith.

MOYERS: Do you have an opinion, or are you looking?


LUCAS: I think there is a God. No question. What that God is or what we know about that God, I'm not sure. The one thing I know about life and about the human race is that we've always tried to construct some kind of context for the unknown. Even the cavemen thought they had it figured out. I would say that cavemen understood on a scale of about 1. Now we've made it up to about 5. The only thing that most people don't realize is the scale goes to 1 million.

*****

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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 05:52 PM
Response to Reply #76
89. very eloquent and well put
This very thread matches your last line "faith is most strong and
wise when it gladly dances with doubt."

I really wish epistemology was taught in schools at a young age
so that people could come to realize what knowledge is, and geez,
if there is a point to education, being able to discern knowledge
is quite core. Then i think more people would come to reconcile
the life-views you just expressed, on their own terms, and for the
lot of us, wisdom would be such a blessing.

namaste,
-s
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VOX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 06:26 PM
Response to Reply #76
91. Outstanding post, robg...
Edited on Thu Sep-16-04 06:27 PM by rezmutt
Thank you for examining this difficult and complex issue so thoroughly and with such consideration.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 07:08 AM
Response to Reply #76
105. Beautifully put.
You have eloquently expressed what I, with my non-mathematical/scientific background, have stumbled around trying to say so many times.

Your post models the dance between science and faith so gracefully; dancers, not in opposition, but dancing together. The music is the same, the steps are different. But together, the dancers are complete.

The last paragraph could have been plucked from the concentrated essence of my life. Can I quote you?



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mconvente Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 05:43 PM
Response to Original message
88. My statement
I never grew up in a religious family. We just weren't concerned about it. But my friends invited me to their church's youth group and after about a year I accepted Jesus Christ. Ever since I've just felt a void filled in my life. I'm not a Bible-thumper or anything, I just feel that it's my duty to be more like Jesus. I've been going to church for about 5 months and it's been really cool. It's hard for me to believe in all aspects of Christianity (especially the part about no evolution because I am a true science guy and that's many biologist's life work - new theories of evolution and how we evolved from primitive Archaea microbes - research Carl Woese for more info) but I just feel better about myself when I have faith. And who's not to say that God created all life but that He left it to take it's place - why not have creationism and evolution combined? Anyways, I just feel that eternal life in Heaven is just too good to not want. I don't want to reduce God in anyway, but if you are questioning your faith look up Pascal's Wager and see what you think then.
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stlchic Donating Member (272 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 10:04 AM
Response to Reply #88
107. Pascal's Wager?
Edited on Fri Sep-17-04 10:21 AM by stlchic
I would think if someone questioning their faith were to look at that argument from a logical perspective that it would hardly bolster their faith.

Just one of many refutations that can be found on this:

http://www.abarnett.demon.co.uk/atheism/wager.html

I have even found multiple Christian comments and posters in message boards that acknowledge the flaws in it.

BTW, I found this statement interesting:

It's hard for me to believe in all aspects of Christianity (especially the part about no evolution...

No evolution is only an aspect of Christianity for a certain number of Christians, mostly fundmentalists. There are many Christians and Christian denominations (including the RCC), who fully acknowledge the compatibility of evolutionary theory and the Bible.

It's good to see your faith has made a positive change in your life - I hope that continues!



:-)
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VOX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 06:35 PM
Response to Original message
93. There is a kind of intelligent energy at play in the universe, which...
eventually eludes scientific and rational reasoning.

Galaxies form spirals that are reminiscent of similar patterns found in a nautilus shell, or the whorl of hair on a baby's head. A bird sings just for the heck of it. Water runs to the sea without a conscious effort. The beauty of the veins in a dried leaf resemble the back of your beloved grandmother's hand.

God is only one very limited word for all this, and more.
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 10:26 AM
Response to Reply #93
114. Yes and we are all part of that energy
Which I call God the Father (could just as easily be mother).
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immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-18-04 11:13 AM
Response to Reply #93
120. Sounds like you discovered Chaos Theory
--IMM
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sangh0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-04 06:36 PM
Response to Original message
94. Not a Christian, but I believe in God
for those that have been able to retain their faith- or have found their way to it...Why? what is it that makes you believe?

I believe that the purpose of life is to pursue happiness, and that believing in God's existence helps me in that pursuit. My readings of religious texts and literature on religious philosophy has convinced me that religions promote values such as "turning the other cheek", "loving's one's enemies", compassion, mercy, etc. I believe that holding such beliefs makes it more likely that one will have a happier life.

IOW, I believe in religion because religion works for me.

it just what you were taught and ingrained from an early age?

I was raised by non-religious parents. My mother said the Bible was a bunch of fairy tales, and the only thing my father ever said about religion was "When you're dead, you're dead. And that's it". I was an atheist until I was almost 40. I am 45 now.

How much do you know about the historical origins of your religion, and it's "sacred" writings and their origins?

I do not belong to any organized religion. However, I do know a bit about the origins of the Bible, and other religious texts. Anything in particular you want to ask about?

do you ever question your faith? and how are those questions ultimately answered?

Regularly, and I don't come to final answers on this. No one can. If anything, my decision is to continue to ask questions.
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-04 11:16 AM
Response to Original message
115. Because I can. But I'll answer anyway: Religion is language.
Edited on Fri Sep-17-04 11:39 AM by Selwynn
for those that have been able to retain their faith- or have found their way to it...Why?

First of all, I'm using religion and faith interchangeably from time to time, which you may or may not have intended for me to do. But before I go further, let me give you my definition of being "religious" because it isn't a traditional one:

"Being religious means asking passionately the questions of the meaning of existence and being willing to receive answers, even when those answers hurt" says Paul Tillich. Such a definition is not traditionally associated with historically concrete religious institutions, but it does describe the deeper and more personal human seeking journey that ought to be at the heart of life.

Religion is language, nothing more. That's the first thing you need to understand. Granted there will always be fundamentalists and fanatics who argue differently, but frankly (though I know this sounds amazingly arrogant) they're wrong. Religious faith in all its manifestations begins as a language set for people seeking to understand and describe living experiences that are ambiguous and abstract, yet real just the same. Life is not easily reduced down to a simply mathematical equation, and many people recognize this and want to try to have a way to explain and comprehend that which eludes their other language - real living experiences of depth and mystery in existence that cannot be approached directly.

Some of the experiences in our life are very tangible and easy to describe. But some of life is very much like trying to describe the color blue to someone who has never seen blue before, and without simply pointing to an object and saying, "that's blue." A scientist would probably talk about light waves intersecting with the retina and different wavelengths being interpreted as different colors, blue being one of those. But there would still be a big gap in that answer for a person wanting to know what it is like to experience blue - what it looks and feels like. For that, a poet is much better equipped than a scientist to help, because a poet is less concerned with the formal definition of a thing, and more concerned with what it feels like to experience a thing. And so a poet would use lots of metaphors and imagery and symbolism to talk about what experiencing the color blue feels like.

The beginnings of religious traditions are always about establishing imagery, metaphor and symbol to describe what certain living experiences feels like. It isn't to say, this is who/what God is, but rather, this is what this experience is like and to this experience, we give the name "god." Later on, many people then twist various religious beginnings into dogmas, and literalistic absolutes, perverting their meaning and robbing them of any genuine value as they lose their ability to represent experience. But that is not true of all.

I am a spiritual person, which is just to say that I speak a certain language when it comes to my place in the universe, as it helps me think about and metaphorically, symbolically, and poetically talk and think about real and genuine experiences of my existence that are not immediately scientifically quantifiable - much like what it feels like for me to experience the color blue is not scientifically quantifiable, though explaining the science behind what causes me to see colors certainly is.

I would never talk about God by saying "this is what/who God is" or "you must accept x number of 'literal' facts about God, the universe, etc or you will go to 'hell.'" I would say, we perceive certain realities of existence which we poetically label with descriptors such as depth or mystery or sometimes beauty or truth. This experience of infinite horizon toward which we are irresistibly drawn, this experience of depth to existence, this experience of ultimate concern for our lives, and deep connection to a larger reality is what we often call "god." And when we do that, we are not saying "this is who god is," but rather, "this is what god is like." or "this is what it is like to comprehend this experience which we call god."

I'm not here to get into a big argument with you about whether or not you see things the same way. I am telling you that religion at its essence, is language - arguing with me about religion is like criticizing me for speaking French instead of the English that you speak. If English gives you all the language tools you need to express everything you experience, then stick with it. But the "why" answer to your question is, "because I needed more language tools to express the reality I experience - a reality of which science and the concretely describable are one part, and poetry and the mystery of living experiences that are not immediately concrete but real experiences just the same are another. For me to reject my spiritual awareness, would be to choose deliberately to close off and ignore a large portion of reality. And focus to only look at what I can easily quantify and put into a little box. I'm not willing to limit my experiences in that way.


what is it that makes you believe?

My living experiences makes me embrace religious language to express it. As far as "believe" goes, you must understand that not all "Christians" or any other kind or religious person are necessarily creedal - meaning basing their faith of a set of dogmas they believe with out thinking. Many religious people of all kinds of different traditions are mystics, meaning that whether they are "right" or "wrong" - they feel and experience certain things in the lives that they refuse to deny, and those things make them aware of a larger experience and more ultimate concerns.

It's possible that such people are nut cases, or are guilty of feuerbachian projection, or Freudian father-figure need, or are in some other way defining reality by experiences that they sub-consciously create without knowing it rather than something "objectively" real. My response to that: so what. The bottom line of my experience is this pragmatism and utility. It doesn't matter to me if I am somehow duped into wrong thinking without my knowing it. If I don't know it, I can do nothing about it. What I do know is that I can ask a simple question of my life: has anything that I've done made my life better - happier, more peaceful, more joyful, stronger healthier relationships, etc?

I know that my mystic interpretation of existence, and my embrace of religious language to express my interpretation of my living experiences has made my life much fuller. I am a man who knows great and deep joy. Joy. How many people can go around their daily lives and really say that? It is an absolute thrill to be alive, and I am filled with peace and contentment, I am a better friend to those I love, and a more compassionate persons those I meet. If I discover truth which clearly shows me my misguided understanding about life, of course I will embrace that. I hold no beliefs or ideas that are directly contradictory to clear evidence. But I'm not worried about what I can't know or can't change. Maybe religion is a crutch, or my feelings about experience are projected, etc. But they work and work very well for me, and they make sense to me as I use the language to interpret my experiences. Until that changes, why would I possibly be concerned about other peoples religious "critiques?"

is it just what you were taught and ingrained from an early age?

No, I was taught very different things. I came to my understandings and language to speak about my experiences on my own.

How much do you know about the historical origins of your religion, and it's "sacred" writings and their origins?

My tradition is Christianity, and I have studied Historical Theology, Systematic Theology, History of Christian Thought, OT Biblical Interpretation, NT Biblical Interpretation, Greek, Comparative Religions, Philosophy of Religion, Psychology of Religion, Theology of Nature, etc. I would consider myself above average when it comes to my familiarity with the origins of writings, theologies, dogmas, etc.

do you ever question your faith?

Always. Being religious means passionately asking questions. And as St. Anselm said long before me, true faith is "faith seeking understanding" not blind faith.

and how are those questions ultimately answered?

Who says they are? :) Asking question is a seeking process, a pursuit of knowledge both about the world and about ourselves. Ultimately questions are answered by and through personal experience, but there is never an "end" to questioning, nor should their be in human lives.

Blessings to you,
Sel

EDIT - I should probably add a couple things:
it didn't make sense that a supposedly loving god would condemn one of his "children" to eternal torment for rather minor transgressions.

Of course, not all "religious" people believe that 'god' condemns anyone. I certainly don't.

It seemed odd that a supposedly "Supreme" being would have so many human failings: jealousy, wrath, vengefulness, etc... it began to seem more likely that men had created God in their image, rather than the other way around.

Human's constant seeking to understand what 'god' is like does not mean that there is no god to know. But more than a few religious people will agree with you that the history of western religious institutions is a long history of human beings interpreting the divine in the imange of humans, which a lot of unfortunate results. The reality is more like to be an ambiguous combination of our struggling to "grasp" the divine - our feedlbe finite stuttering stumbling attempts to find language to talk about and express this infinite mystery - and our "being grasped" by that same infinate mystery. In other words, I'm very sure that our religious concerns are very much a combination of our own unavoidable anthropomorphizing of reality and the fact of reality.

And why would a supposedly "just" God force his creations to take the words of other mortal men thousands of years removed, as gospel truth- with the fate of our "eternal souls" resting in the balance...?

None that I know of. :) Of course, it is not a pre-requisite of faith that you believe god "forces" us to take words of others as gospel (and by that I assume you mean literal absolute) truth. It sounds a lot to me like you have very personal problems and pain with your own particular religious upbringing rather than a indictment of religion on the whole. Many of the problems you describe are specific to one context, and many religious folks of all stripes would not see things in that way.

especially now, in the electronic age, when any verifiable unambiguous proof of the existence of God could be relayed and seen by the masses worldwide...?

This presupposes a lot of assumptions about "God" as though he is some being along side other beings, just hiding "up there" somewhere refusing to disclose himself to creation. However, that which we refer to as God is not a "being" as though somehow god is along side other beings. This experience of the dimension of depth in our existence, this reality of what is called the ultimate concern, comes out of the fact that god is not "a" being, but rather Being-itself, "in whome we live and move and have our being." What we call "God" is not a "person," though I believe that the very structure of existence, being-itself has a personal connection to all of us - so while it is not "person" it is "person-al."

You keep asking god to show himself. Look around. :)
Sel
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-18-04 10:28 AM
Response to Reply #115
117. Damn Elginoid, I put too much time into that for you to just ignore it.
I've noticed in your responses throughout the rest of this thread that you have done little but call anyone who disagrees with you "full of shit." It makes me question your motives in posting in the first place.
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orpupilofnature57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-18-04 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
118. IT,S CALLED THE [RED LETTER BIBLE]
Edited on Sat Sep-18-04 10:55 AM by THEHURON57
Try reading just the words of JESUS.

I NEVER MET ABRAHAM LINCOLN BUT I HAVE FAITH IN HIS DOCTRINES.

NOT HIS PARTY.
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-04 12:00 PM
Response to Original message
129. gosh our history is a lot alike. no question of god, tis man
adn the interpretation of bible and religion i have totally allowed to fall alongside the road over the years

i absolutely and without doubt know there is a universal power and it is within us. we each individually have god within us. and we each have the answer within us. it is whether we chose to listen to spirit or to ego, the brain that conditions us to support a religion which is merely mans words, mans law

someone once told me i needed to follow law cause that is what god wanted. mans law or gods law i ask, cause i have no problem what so ever following gods law, tis easy for me, mans law though, that is a challenge for me.
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