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Dandelion wrote:
minn8918
I wonder how much they SERIOUSLY doubt/disbelieve and how much is just their attempt to take charge of the situation through denial, perhaps in response to stories which may have frightened them in the past. Since I've never doubted the existence of God, I've never doubted with having to reckon with Him. Maybe some people are not comfortable acknowledging that scenario. WITHOUT God, though, there is no hope of anyone "in charge" to dispense ultimate justice! Maybe they deny God because in their view He is not doing a good enough job.


Dandelion, not knowing Ray or Forrest personally, all I can give is my personal "spin" on those I know. In David's case, I think that over the years, he has "tested the waters" as far as God's omniscience and power. I speculate that early on, he understood and "took to heart" God's power. However, I think that as he grew older and found out that "if it feels good, do it", he took it to the next level. When he saw that he was not overtly being punished for his actions, he continued to keep "testing the waters". When an "instant punishment" doesn't manifest itself, I think that people like David tend to "ratchet down" their awe of the power of God and tend to put him more on their level...i.e. "a convenient God". "He will be there when I really need him, but in the meantime he won't mind if I do "this" or "that". Also, when people such as David look at the state of affairs in the world, they tend to question God's reasoning, intentions, and power. Rather than thinking that these events are part of a "greater plan", they reason that God is not as powerful as they were taught, otherwise..."why wouldn't he fix everything?"

One's belief in God is the result of a catalyst event (the belief/need is latent within us, but requires a catalyst to bring it to our conciousness). One either learns it as a child and carries it on through their life, never diminishing it along the way...or...one learns it, moves away from due to an event or events, and reaquires it later as the result of an event or events,... or...one never learns it at all.
 
Posts: 15 | Location: Eden Prairie, MN USA | Registered: 27 March 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by dandelion:
Because even with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (which in my particular framework are one and the same) or in other words, with the help of God and all his angels, many days I can still barely summon up enough hope to continue existing. I simply can't understand people who seem to go on quite cheerfully with none of the above! Where is their "excuse" for survival? I enjoy and appreciate listening to them but struggle to understand their point of view.


Being an atheist myself I have come across many Christians who simply cannot understand why I dont just go around killing people and stealing things if I dont believe that some higher power is going to kick my ass if I step out of line...The first time i heard this I was really confused and kind of sickened that people seem to need some idea from a 2000 year old poorly translated book to keep them in check....but over time I have come to understand how it works....

First i will tell you how I work:
I work off a strength of self coupled with the evidence and analysis of science. I dont believe....in general I dont believe that there is some higher power (certainly not one that decided to contact only a few select leaders long ago and then decided that it would just give up on people from then on) who watches over the Earth (but doesnt care about the rest of the Universe) and wants me and everyone else to participate in organized religion and give money to people who have read the same book I have but feel they have to tell me about it and instill a whole bunch of stuff in it that isnt there to begin with....It's just way too....uh......cooky for me.... Therefore i can believe in nothing but the power of myself and the equal power of other people in this world...my morals come from something that is instilled in all of us....religion does not tell you how to deal with people and what is acceptable....it is simply a constant over simplified reminder of those principals that are already in you. What drives me forward is only my own pursuit of knowledge and experience and my will to acheive my goals in life....

Now...my take on why people need religion:
I am not saying that religion is a terrible awful thing in its non-organized and base form.....it is in fact something that is needed by people who have low self esteem or simply don't want to have their own opinions about what is going on in the large scale macro situation of life (or are afraid of having an opinion about it)...And that is fine....there is nothing wrong with that....what ruins religion is the corruption of power and the hate that proliferates this world's societies and has for quite some time.....the Us vs. Them complex....it plagues everything now adays and it is so deep seated in the world that it is almost impossible to get rid of....


.................God o' <br />Thunder...........
 
Posts: 70 | Location: US | Registered: 08 June 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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oh and as for words to live by....i am in the middle of this novel and it is absolutely woderful so far...

this is one of my favorites:
"The future of the novel is not a subject I am much interested in. In fact the future in general does not much interest me. What is the future, after all, but a structure of hopes and expectations? Its residence is in the mind; it has no reality.

Of course, you might reply that the past is likewise a fiction. The past is history, and what is history but a story made of air that we tell ourselves? Nevertheless, there is something miraculous about the past that the future lacks. What is miraculous about the past is that we have succeeded - God knows how - in making thousands and millions of individual fictions, fictions created by individual human beings, lock well enough into one another to give us what looks like a common past, a shared story.

The future is different. We do not possess a shared story of the future. The creation of the past seems to exhaust our collective creative energies. Compared with our fiction of the past, our fiction of the future is a sketchy, bloodless affair, as visions of heaven tend to be. Of heaven and even of hell.

The novel is an attempt to understand human fate one case at a time, to understand how it comes about that some fellow being, having started at point A and having undergone experiences B and C and D, ends up at point Z. Like history, the novel is thus an exercise in making the past coherent. Like history, it explores the respective contributions of character and circumstance to forming the present. By doing so, the novel suggests how we may explore the power of the present to produce the future. That is why we have this thing, this institution, this medium called the novel."

From Elizabeth Costello by J. M. Coetzee


.................God o' <br />Thunder...........
 
Posts: 70 | Location: US | Registered: 08 June 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by thormachine:
...my morals come from something that is instilled in all of us....


So where does this something that instills morals in all of us come from? And what if it instills a different set of morals for me than it does for you?

By the way, please don't denigrate my religion with your characterization. It isn't at all as you describe it and I would allow it to speak for itself as its best defense but for some reason I just couldn't give your comments a pass. I don't ridicule your atheism; please respect my beliefs.

Best,

Pete
 
Posts: 547 | Location: Oklahoma City, OK | Registered: 30 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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There are two kinds of people:
those who say to God, "Thy will be done", and those to whom God says, "thy will be done".
 
Posts: 901 | Location: Box in Braling I's cellar | Registered: 02 July 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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thormachine:

Aside from agreeing with pterran concerning ridiculing one's Christian beliefs, I would like to provide my own personal insight.

A HUGE catalyst in my belief in God came about as a result of my tour of duty in the US Air Force in the mid 1980's. All of my assignments were in SAC (the Strategic Air Command: The guys with the nukes). Keep in mind my service period occured during a period of heightened Cold War tensions. Given the fact that all Air Force bases at that time were potential nuclear targets and SAC bases were nuclear targets MANY times over, I was more "at risk" for death than the average non-military citizen. Although we went through extensive disaster preparedness/survivability training, I knew that if the "dreaded moment" ever came, there was no absolutely no chance that I would survive, given that I was at "ground zero". Because I enlisted of my own accord and swore to uphold and defend the laws of the Constitution and the lives of the American public, I accepted the "doomsday scenario" as part of the price one potentially pays to serve their country. More than a couple of nights, I laid awake in my bed in my barracks room, wondering what the last 10-20 minutes of my life would be like, in the event "the end" ever came. One thing that grew out of this was not a fear of the "event", but a fear that I wasn't ready for what happened after the "event". I wasn't an atheist at the time, but was a "convenient Christian". The prospect that one's life ended at that point terrified me. The sudden, annihalistic, permanent end of life. I don't know about you, but that scenario is terrifying...whether it's as sudden as a nuclear strike or a car accident, or as the result of a long, drawn out illness. The only thing that got me "over the hump" of this prospect was realizing, and then learning more about, the fact that our souls are seperate from our bodies and once our "vessel" ceases to function, the soul that God instilled us with doesn't end.

I will not ridicule you, as you did of Christians in your post...but I want to ask you a question and I would be interested to read your answer. My question is: What does an atheist think/feel happens after death? Is death the "end of everything"? If so, IMO, the prospect of death to an atheist must be very terrifying. It represents absolute finality. All the good that you stood for (and I'm sure that you do have good within you) ends at that point if you don't believe in Heaven and eternal life.

For me, given the choice of total, absolute, eternal nothingness versus total, absolute, eternal life hereafter....I would choose eternal life everytime.
 
Posts: 15 | Location: Eden Prairie, MN USA | Registered: 27 March 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thor: It has been documented that 95% of the world's population believes in God in one form or another. Do all of us have low self esteem?

I say to any atheist I ever talk to,"If you are right, you will never know it, but if you are wrong, you certainly will.
 
Posts: 28 | Location: Wilkes-Barre, PA USA | Registered: 15 July 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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minn8918: thanks for the lively account of your experience. Similar experiences, however, have resulted in the opposite, i.e. a distancing or even complete abandonment of 'God'. The French author/philosopher Jacques Bergier once made an odd remark to the effect that the full implication of the World War II concentration camps could only be fathomed by those who had read and pondered the work of H.P. Lovecraft - not exactly a 'Christian' writer. (Bergier, of course, had been a prisoner in Auschwitz.) I've never read any impressions set to paper by those who discovered the camps in 1945, but I wouldn't be surprised if 'God' were very much absent.
 
Posts: 149 | Location: Ostend, Belgium | Registered: 11 July 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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pterran: I sincerely believe that every individual has the innate capacity to be 'good' from the word go unless corrupted at some point by negative experiences or a faulty education. I don't know whence I derive my 'code of morality', and have come to believe the question is immaterial. Was the core of this code instilled by the nuns in Kindergarten? Possibly, but somehow I doubt it.
About clashing codes: I'm fully convinced I could kill under the right circumstances, e.g. in a wartime situation: "You have every right to live, but I won't let you destroy me."
 
Posts: 149 | Location: Ostend, Belgium | Registered: 11 July 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by pterran:
So where does this something that instills morals in all of us come from? And what if it instills a different set of morals for me than it does for you?

By the way, please don't denigrate my religion with your characterization. It isn't at all as you describe it and I would allow it to speak for itself as its best defense but for some reason I just couldn't give your comments a pass. I don't ridicule your atheism; please respect my beliefs.

Best,

Pete


I dont no where my sense of morals comes from specifically, certainly my parents helped them to grow and flourish but it is hard wired in us all to be revolted by certain acts that we deem unmoral and wrong. I am sure that people's sense of morals are different from one to the next but i am pretty sure that is from each of our unique experiences in life. Someone raised in a military family is probably more likely to think that killing someone for the sake of their country isnt wrong. Where as someone raised in a setting where intelligence is the key to fixing one's problems might be more adverse to the idea of killing another person for the sake of a country that may or may not have valid reasons for the death of others....Since all of these are valid possiblities society has created rules and laws in order to create a kind of set line for what is right and wrong....so in short answer to your questions I am sure that morals change from person to person but i dont know if that is a change in the universal set of morals or rather differences in the upbringing in an individual.

I am sorry if I insulted you with my take on Christianity but for what it is worth my religion (or rather areligion) has not really been the cause of the deaths of millions over the years of its reign. I have read the bible and no matter what way I look at it I simply dont see how so many people can get caught up in it. But i guess when one is looking for answers then one is more eager to pick out what they read and do not read...I would think anyone reading the old testament alone would think that God was in reality a blood thirsty general who was sick of all these religions and their sway over the lives of the people around him...so he made his own through a series of massive conquests that started with his freeing of slaves in order to create his army of devote soldiers and ending with the killing of palestinians to set up his fortress in jerusalem.....but seriously that is just my take on it....i am sure that when brought up with the text and told what each section is "Supposed to mean" that you have a totally different take on what it means....

therefore....the only reason why I "denigrate" your religion is because it (along with many others) have been the main cause of a lot of the worlds problems where as the idea that no answer is needed on the question of whether there is an afterlife or not and what it looks like if it exists has done nothing but create interesting speculation....


.................God o' <br />Thunder...........
 
Posts: 70 | Location: US | Registered: 08 June 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by minn8918:
thormachine:
My question is: What does an atheist think/feel happens after death? Is death the "end of everything"? If so, IMO, the prospect of death to an atheist must be very terrifying. It represents absolute finality. All the good that you stood for (and I'm sure that you do have good within you) ends at that point if you don't believe in Heaven and eternal life.

For me, given the choice of total, absolute, eternal nothingness versus total, absolute, eternal life hereafter....I would choose eternal life everytime.

First off, the fact that you came about your religion when you where faced with war only furthers my arguement that religion is not a neccesary function in life but rather something that people turn to when they feel they must have an answer...

To answer your questions:
I am not sure what happens after death. I have some ideas but I dont make it my business to act like I know what is going to happen.

Yes, the idea of eternal nothingness first crossed my mind when I was about 5 or 6 years old. Me and my family where ending a wonderful day at the Jersey shore with a seafood dinner and it just dawned on me that it could all end at any moment and when it ended what was stopping the universe from simply ending me all together. It was rather depressing but I still hold it as a viable possibility.

But there are plenty of other ways that things can end....why narrow yourself down to one kind of idea, specifically the idea that you will arrive on floaty clouds to a set of pearly gates where you will wait in line for someone named St. Peter to judge you? Doesnt THAT seem kind of ridiculous to you?

eternal life and eternal nothingness are only extremes they are not the only answers....and it doesnt matter which i CHOOSE seeing as if it is eternal nothingness well then there isnt anything i can do about it and I wouldnt change the way I live anyway just because i dont get a treat at the end of the ride....and if i do arrive at those pearly gates then according to most religions we are all screwed anyway....but if this god happens to be "compassionate" he should be able to understand my reasoning and take me in....if not, who cares?


.................God o' <br />Thunder...........
 
Posts: 70 | Location: US | Registered: 08 June 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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To paraphrase Fr. Thomas Hopko:
Tell me about the God you don't believe in, and 10 times out of 10 that won't be the God I believe in either.
 
Posts: 901 | Location: Box in Braling I's cellar | Registered: 02 July 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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wow.....nice copout of the arguement there....see thats the kind of "name dropping" that ruins arguements on this thread. Tell me what you think....not what someone else said....i gave you all my own opinions and you give me a half-assed response that does nothing but disregard all that i said....you can do better than that....try again


.................God o' <br />Thunder...........
 
Posts: 70 | Location: US | Registered: 08 June 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thormachine,

Since you�re a staunch defender of MM�s right to use Brabdury�s title, I would�ve thought you�d have no objection to Braling II�s use of someone else�s words to make their point. Glad to see you�re coming around to our point of view!

Seriously, what I think Braling II means to say, and what I would say as well, is that the religion and God you describe has little resemblance to our faith. By changing the definitions of the terms of the argument, you appear to have a strong stance but, in reality, you�ve only changed definitions. You�d have similar objections if we defined atheism in a way that made you look ridiculous and �kooky,� wouldn�t you?

Best,

Pete
 
Posts: 547 | Location: Oklahoma City, OK | Registered: 30 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In religion, as in many other things, there are very few truly original thoughts. Most "advances" are a result of a new synthesis of older ideas. Using the thoughts of others to make one's point is hardly a bad way to argue. Citing authorities and the perspectives of others has always been a part of intelligent dialog.
 
Posts: 1964 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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