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God is in his heaven all is right with the world


Ralph

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Dunno why I'm so happy today. I'm bouncing off the walls with the glee of a tweaker stumbling upon a cache of electronics and an extensive set of specialized screwdrivers. :D

Think somebody switched my wellbutrin with a tab of X. Might be that I took an abrupt break from drinking. Or that I'm getting stuff done today, the vitamin b shot I got on Thursday, starting meditation again, or starting to make peace with religion. Emphasis on the starting, still have a long way to go but talked to priest yesterday and he was again pointing out that God doesn't want to see us fall. And that it is okay to have doubts. Makes a lot more sense, I mean how can God really expect us to just bow down when he hides himself and doesn't heal amputees.

I was raised with God as basically the ultimate boss character of the universe, and you better dress your best and be respectful and rigid and don't dare step out of line or it's hellfire time. This about the god who said, "it's the sick who have need of a doctor." So at the time I just couldn't make it fit. Now I've got more confidence to make up my own mind and separate what makes sense from the nonsense.

Ingrained belief operates at a deeper level than critical thought as I noticed when the priest invites me to mass and my response is, "I'm wearing sneakers, how could I go to Church???." This when the priest who is in charge of the mass is saying hey come along. You'd think if anyone could waive the dress code it would be the MC. I actually really love mass too. Not being Catholic I haven't seen enough for it be boring and I really dig Catholic churches with all the marble and sculptures, stained glass and organs. Damn I love organs when the spine rattling bass notes come out. What other musical instrument uses an entire building as a soundboard?

The nonsense: do this don't do that god hates you if you drink or gamble, and FFS don't even THINK about sex unless you solely do it in the missionary position for the sole purpose of creation and even then you're not supposed to enjoy it:mad:. He's gonna burn you forever and ever unless you live exactly as I think you should and oh yeah gimme money. This is the stuff that inspires bumper stickers like, "God is great, but his fan club makes me nervous."

What makes sense is generosity and forgiveness and mercy and all that long haired hippie stuff, which as it turns out Jesus was a hippie long before Jerry Garcia and if your average right winger met Jesus on the street today would demonize Him as a socialist. This is not to say let's bash conservatives and build glorious liberal paradise and join hands singing Kumbaya, but maybe we could stop screaming at each other and recognize our shared humanity even if we don't make exactly the same lifestyle choices. Just a thought.

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update later in the day... giddy feeling of oneness with the universe and all that totally faded and sunk into state of confusion later in the day. Realized I forgot to eat anything, probably just had low blood sugar. Neat. I don't experience hunger as hunger, I just start to feel my brain float away and I get to go through possible causes to find out what I forgot to do in self care. Pffft, bodies. Elegant, but so high maintenance.:o

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I've got similar thoughts to the whole religion thing (though I'm Jewish, so we're coming from different backgrounds.)

God isn't the hateful being that wants us to fall and live miserable lives.

God gives each of us challenges to deal with, and wants us to succeed. I know I've explained this in my thread in the past, but there's a concept in orthodox Judaism that if one willingly sins, knows it a sin, and continues to do so anyway, he's committed evil acts. However, if one has sinned, has trouble controlling himself, but says that one day, he'll make it better, the sin carries less weight. This goes hand in hand with what you were saying. God isn't out to get us.

Of course, I question God's existence all the time. I've come to the conclusion, though, that I really don't care whether God is real or not. Most religions have moral teachings, and believing in God makes me feel like I'm not alone, but that there's a higher being who can help me out. If I knew that God didn't exist, I'd go insane.

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hey--it's good to see you happy. Hope it lasts.

Some thoughts on the religion front--this parallels an article I read earlier today about positive thinking. The idea was that positive thinking is a flawed or simplistic doctrine, because while it allows you to self congratulate anytime something good happens, when something bad happens, you then end up blaming yourself for not having been positive enough. You own the rights to the good stuff that comes your way, but then you own the rights to the bad stuff too, even if it was beyond your control. I can see some religious thinking going that way--if you are good and pray and do all of it right, god will be good to you. So then if good things happen, you feel rightous, but if bad things happen...then you start to feel like it is your fault for not having prayed enough or you're bad or god doesn't love you or whatever else. Does that make sense?

Recognizing shared humanity is an excellent approach I think. And many of the more beneficial ideas that go along with religion don't require religion to practice. (But many of the negative aspects of religion don't require religion to practice either...)

The existence of a deity has never made sense to me, but I do have some idea of why people seem attracted to it. I see nothing wrong with religion so long as it isn't oppressing you. It drives me nuts when it is taken to absurdity and people become enslaved or blinded by it.

Take care.

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I know I've explained this in my thread in the past, but there's a concept in orthodox Judaism that if one willingly sins, knows it a sin, and continues to do so anyway, he's committed evil acts. However, if one has sinned, has trouble controlling himself, but says that one day, he'll make it better, the sin carries less weight.

The problem I see with this is that i would be willing to bet that everyone who sins is either doing so unknowingly or as a result of not being able to control themselves and likely vows to one day make it better. People don't tend to desire to be bad. If someone is doing something bad, it's either that they can't control their impulses, or they don't see it as bad. Maybe unless they are a sociopath, in which case they suffer from mental illness. People are people. The reasons for laws and punishments are to both protect the innocent and to make it clear to those who may not realize they have done something wrong that it is wrong. Adults correct the behavior of children, not because the children are inherently bad, but because they need to be taught what is and isn't ok.

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The problem I see with this is that i would be willing to bet that everyone who sins is either doing so unknowingly or as a result of not being able to control themselves and likely vows to one day make it better.

There are teachings about this too.

First off, let me say that I'm not trying to fill anyone's head with my religion. I respect all religious beliefs, including lack of, just as long as people don't go preaching to me about how THEIR God saves, and you go to hell if you don't proclaim him as your God. I don't do that to other people, so I believe that they shouldn't do that to me.

Now, as I said, there are teachings which deal with what you talked about. I don't know them too well, but I know that there's talk about if a person has sinned, but he doesn't know that he's sinned, he's absolved.

The point is that there ARE people in this world who just don't give a crap about anyone except themselves. They seek their own gratification, never stopping to think about others. Someone who does this is evil. If, however, someone finds it hard to fix their ways, but tells themselves that they will someday work on bettering themselves, they are not evil.

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...adding to what I just said.

I think what I mean is that, making a dichotomy between "truly bad people" and "people who have just made a mistake and didn't mean to be bad" is only really a way for people who have done something wrong to feel not as bad about themselves by deciding that there are others in some other category who are "truly bad". I'm not, however, saying that anyone who has done something bad is in that "truly bad" category, but that everyone who has done something bad is actually in that "didn't mean to or didn't know or couldn't help it" category. No one is perfect. no one is all bad or all good. People are people. But that's not to say no one should own their actions or face the consequences. Those things are necessary.

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The point is that there ARE people in this world who just don't give a crap about anyone except themselves. They seek their own gratification, never stopping to think about others. Someone who does this is evil. If, however, someone finds it hard to fix their ways, but tells themselves that they will someday work on bettering themselves, they are not evil.

One might argue that such a person is truly mentally ill. Possibly a sociopath. The reason being that it isn't in anyone's best interest to act that way. The reason for being kind to others isn't just because it's the nice thing to do, but because it benefits everyone as a whole.

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if bad things happen...then you start to feel like it is your fault for not having prayed enough or you're bad or god doesn't love you

People have a strong desire to believe that the world is rule governed in understandable ways: If I do X I'll get Y. This makes it easy to manipulate our circumstances, in that all we have to do is fulfill our part of the bargain with God the Cosmic Banker, and we'll not have any trouble in life. Yet religious texts devote a surprising amount of space to discussing how and why this is not always the case, for example the book of Job.

The incurious are tempted to gloss over these more complicated issues though, and certain preachers have made a killing selling a gospel of, "God will make you rich if you send me money." It's called prosperity theology. Not only does this lead to unnecessary self blame when shit inevitably happens, but it also blunts our compassion for others. After all the poverty stricken must really be a bunch of jerks for God to deprive them like that.

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The existence of a deity has never made sense to me

First we need to define "deity." The term means different things to different people, from a literal old man in the sky with a physical body on one end of the spectrum, to a shapeless force at the other. Personally I am skewed toward the latter end of that spectrum but there is a deeper sense of truth to spirituality than declarative fact. The story might not have historically happened, but the lesson is still quite valid and important to keep in mind when deciding what type of person one should be.

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One might argue that such a person is truly mentally ill. Possibly a sociopath. The reason being that it isn't in anyone's best interest to act that way. The reason for being kind to others isn't just because it's the nice thing to do, but because it benefits everyone as a whole.

And there's also teachings about the mentally ill :D

Furthermore, there's a basic teaching that says that people cannot judge others as good or evil. That seems to fit with what you said. People are people. Some are better than others. Some are worse. But people should not judge others for what they've done because who is one person to say that the other is evil?

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I don't believe in any form of deity. Staunch atheist. That's not to say that I don't think there is any value to any religious teachings or that I think there's anything inherently wrong with believing. It's just that I do not see convincing evidence for a higher power.

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I don't believe in any form of deity. Staunch atheist. That's not to say that I don't think there is any value to any religious teachings or that I think there's anything inherently wrong with believing. It's just that I do not see convincing evidence for a higher power.

I can respect that.

My brother is atheist, and he's very sciencey. He's very active in the atheist forums online, and that's what bothers me. He goes around preaching his beliefs. I don't mind that he believes what he wants to believe, but he's preached a lot of this stuff to me, and to say the least, it's caused me a fair amount of distress.

Now, that's not to say that there's not STRONG evidence to believe that God doesn't exist. I'm a believer in evolution and the big bang. Many people say that evolution is contradictory to religion. I've asked several religious Jews who I respect, and they all agree that evolution and the big bang can fit in with religion. They say that it really just depends on how specific verses are interpreted.

But either way, in this specific circumstance, I'd rather be ignorant about it. Ignorance is bliss. I think I've only got ONE doubt about anti-theism that keeps me a theist. If someone could explain it to me, I wouldn't be too happy, namely because I feel more secure when I believe that there is a God above me.

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I can respect that.

My brother is atheist' date=' and he's very sciencey. He's very active in the atheist forums online, and that's what bothers me. He goes around preaching his beliefs. I don't mind that he believes what he wants to believe, but he's preached a lot of this stuff to me, and to say the least, it's caused me a fair amount of distress.

Now, that's not to say that there's not STRONG evidence to believe that God doesn't exist. I'm a believer in evolution and the big bang. Many people say that evolution is contradictory to religion. I've asked several religious Jews who I respect, and they all agree that evolution and the big bang can fit in with religion. They say that it really just depends on how specific verses are interpreted.

But either way, in this specific circumstance, I'd rather be ignorant about it. Ignorance is bliss. I think I've only got ONE doubt about anti-theism that keeps me a theist. If someone could explain it to me, I wouldn't be too happy, namely because I feel more secure when I believe that there is a God above me.[/quote']

Atheism isn't really a belief--it's a lack of belief. There isn't evidence for atheism; there is simply lack of evidence for a deity. Belief in a deity requires faith.

As for the belief in a god feeling good--this is not evidence for the existence of a god, but rather evidence that believing in the existence of a god feels good. Which is probably why many people do have such beliefs. It makes you feel less alone.

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I would be willing to bet that everyone who sins is either doing so unknowingly or as a result of not being able to control themselves

Plato and Aristotle wrote about this. Plato's view was that all men desire what is good so when people do bad things it is because they mistakenly believe at the moment that their action is the right thing to do.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akrasia#Classical_approaches

this is very similar to an idea presented in some reading my therapist gave me recently.

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I have considered myself an atheist at times and depending on the context I still am. I find anything Richard Dawkins has to say as more convincing than the likes of arguments put forth by Norman Geisler, Lee Strobel, or William Lane Craig. So if one's definition of God is a cosmic father figure, then to that person I am an atheist. However just because one doesn't believe in a personal god does not preclude their experience of spirituality and that is where I find myself at present.

To one who has more of Deist, Pantheistic or Spinozan perspective, I am a theist. Beyond this I have grown up in Christianity so it is if nothing else the cultural scaffolding through which I interpret spiritual experience. At the end of the day, "God" is essentially a convenient label to wrap around experiences that cannot really be expressed in words.

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As for the belief in a god feeling good--this is not evidence for the existence of a god, but rather evidence that believing in the existence of a god feels good. Which is probably why many people do have such beliefs. It makes you feel less alone.

I agree with you entirely :D

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"Belief in a deity requires faith."

This is true, Z, but like many scientists (I was one, growing up), you're avoiding mentioning that belief in evidence requires a faith, too. There's quite a lot of "evidence" that our senses are not literal reporters of our environment, that all our perceptions, whether instrument-based or not, ultimately depend on the instrument which does the perceiving, which is our not-very-completely-understood mind.

"At the end of the day, "God" is essentially a convenient label to wrap around experiences that cannot really be expressed in words."

That's how I see it, too. In fact, it may be the very need to put this stuff into words (to communicate it to others) that screws us up. It has to be felt; you can't tell someone how it feels. As soon as you say something like "it feels comfortable, like a father", you're lost in the subjectivity of how the person you're talking to felt about their father ...

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"Belief in a deity requires faith."

This is true' date=' Z, but like many scientists (I was one, growing up), you're avoiding mentioning that belief in [u']evidence requires a faith, too.

jeeezus, mark, don't get me started... you must know that this is an idiot answer. I've not avoided anything. Sure, there is faith in anything we accept as true, but some of that faith is based on a shit ton of evidence and yields outcomes that can actually be seen. I have faith that my car is still parked outside. It may not be true--someone may have stolen it in the night, but until I see evidence otherwise, I will have this faith because it actually serves a practical purpose. Constantly verifying the existence of my car would get tiresome.

There's quite a lot of "evidence" that our senses are not literal reporters of our environment, that all our perceptions, whether instrument-based or not, ultimately depend on the instrument which does the perceiving, which is our not-very-completely-understood mind.

Again, I'm not an idiot. I know there is no perfect knowledge or absolutes. But I like to deal with what works functionally. Recall Decarte's "cogito ergo sum"--you have to start somewhere with some set of axioms. Is it not best to chose a set that yields the most consistent outcomes? If anything, resorting to a god-belief is a way of imposing answers that aren't there because you got impatient.

I hate this assumption that not believing in a god means that I'm somehow close minded or missing out on some experience that everyone else is privy to. I quite simply have not seen any evidence. I also have not seen any evidence for fairies or unicorns or any host of imaginary beings you could list. If I saw one though, or saw evidence for one that was convincing, then I owuld believe. Until such evidence presents itself, there is no point at all in the belief. It serves no practical purpose. I gain no understanding from it. I can't make any predictions from it. I cannot touch it in any way. If I could, that in itself would be evidence.

If anything, I find the equivalence of a spiritual experience in understanding and interacting with reality and nature, even if my experience of it is arguably subjective. I find more inner peace in that than i would forcing myself to imagine some separate untouchable being and inventing what that being thinks or does. If you forced me to pick a god-belief I'd go with pantheism, because that's closest, but again, I don't feel the need to give what I see as reality a seperate and supernatural standing beyond what is before me.

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Well, if I "get you started", will I make things a lot worse? ;-)

I'm just talking.

To those who see one, "constantly verifying the existence of [their god] would [also] get tiresome." Sure, you have to start somewhere. It's just that it's equally valid to start with "I feel therefore I am." It has been said (Sartre, I think) that Descartes missed the mark, because thinking implies a thinker, and it's the thinker who "is".

I don't think you're closed-minded, at all. I hate wasting my breath. :-) Quite the opposite, in fact. I shared your convictions, at your age, almost verbatim. And, I can't say that I have found "evidence" since then that I can point to, that will convince you or anyone else. I'm still certain of how I feel.

And, I'm with you about the separate being thing. Many religions would say that we're, in fact, part of that being, and not separate at all. Others wouldn't imagine a "being" at all, certainly not one whose motivations we should endeavor to guess.

But I might differ with you about whether "it serves no practical purpose". A meaning to one's life, if one can be found (anywhere!), is worthwhile.

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You're not saying anything that supports your point. Even the "descartes missed the mark" line is pointless because for all we know, by "I", descartes meant "the thinker". 99% of all philosophical debate is the result of semantic disagreements. Pointless.

You DO think I'm close minded. You are claiming I'm somehow thinking like your younger self, but you have since opened your mind and learned more.

I am certain how I feel too. I don't feel there is any need to make up imaginary anythings. I see it as a pointless fruitless exercise unless you are actually able to convince yourself of it and it brings you peace. It doesn not bring me anything but annoyance because it isn't real. Reality is real. I can find my peace there. Trust me, I have thoroughly considered the religious side of this debate. I have spent many hours trying to figure out what it is that drives people to be religious. The conclusion I came to is that once you accept the existence of a god, then you can filter your world view through those glasses in such a way that you can use logic based off a false premise to gain the illusion of understanding. it's comforting. But I don't buy into it anymore than I buy into unicorns with all their amazing and magical powers.

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There may not be any words that support my point.

Weird, I know.

I misquoted Sartre. His point was that besides the thinker, there was something that observed that thinking had occurred (the thinker being busy with whatever he was thinking at the time.) The observer is the one who can reliably say that he exists. Granted that observer and thinker are inside the same being, the point is that more than [corrected]thought exists.

I prefer to think that both you and I have been open-minded throughout, but that I came into possession of another, or different, experience which changed my mind. I am incapable of providing you with the same experience, which is why I'm not really exhorting you to change your view. I know that I have no "evidence".

"I can find my peace there."

Well, then, go to it! :-) That was my only goal in talking to you, to see if there was a place where peace might be found.

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Ah Z, that's the one thing that no one can do. :-)

You can no more deflate my faith than I could yours ... {Basic definition of faith, in my opinion.}

It's how I felt while meditating. A feeling of connection to ... everyone, everything ... A feeling that the whole flows ... And I said before that any words I could put it in would be insufficient.

I'm not saying it flows in some "purposeful" way, or at least in any way we, as tiny components of the flow, could wrap our heads around. Just that ... it's going somewhere, and I can resist or not as I see fit, but I'm a lot smaller than all the rest of the Universe.

So, to me, it becomes a question of what do I do with myself while I'm here? In some ways, I'm so insignificant that I'm like a virtual particle, arising and departing without any net effect at all ... except there is one: I affect other particles, other people. So, the one place where my will makes a difference: what effect do I want to have?

Is any of that provable? No.

Is any of it disprovable? I don't see how. It's not at odds with any of the facts I have.

One thought I would give you is: why do we rely on Occam's Razor? What faith do we have that the simplest answer actually is the best one?

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