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Do you believe in God?

Last posted Sep 25, 2012 at 10:42PM EDT. Added Aug 21, 2012 at 04:28PM EDT
290 posts from 106 users

No superstitions here.

Aug 24, 2012 at 08:26PM EDT

I would also like to say, even though I’m not exactly a full-on-atheist or a fully devoted catholic, I’ve still have some interest in seeing what other religions believe in and look into there customs.

Now, let me ask you guys a question.

Has a different Religion/Belief ever caught your interest?

For me, it’s Freemasonry.

Aug 24, 2012 at 09:11PM EDT

Mexx Android wrote:

I would also like to say, even though I’m not exactly a full-on-atheist or a fully devoted catholic, I’ve still have some interest in seeing what other religions believe in and look into there customs.

Now, let me ask you guys a question.

Has a different Religion/Belief ever caught your interest?

For me, it’s Freemasonry.

Freemasonry is a fraternity, not a religion. Some of their core values include belief in a supreme being and upholding certain moral practices, but the group is definitely not even close to being a religion.

As for religions that have caught my interest, I would have to say Mormonism. Of all of the faiths that I have found necessary to study it is the faith that I understand the least about. Perhaps some of the biggest pulls of interest for me is that it is a major religion, fairly new, rapidly growing, and originating in my own home country. I also want to know why every single Mormon I have ever met is so gosh darn happy about everything. I actually asked a missionary about that once, and he simply told me that accepting Jesus into one’s life was enough to make any man happy. I would really like to be a fly on the wall in a Mormon household, just to see what holds them together within the family unit.

Aug 24, 2012 at 09:24PM EDT
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@Count

Oh, whoops. Guess I made a small mistake there; Better do some more research on the subject.

Aug 24, 2012 at 09:31PM EDT

One of my friends is dealing with a dangerous mist-like thing. (I saw it in person before) Is that superstitious?

Last edited Aug 24, 2012 at 09:38PM EDT
Aug 24, 2012 at 09:34PM EDT
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More than simply believing in God’s existence, I believe He sent His one and only Son to die for my sins. Such forgiveness I am not deserving of.

Aug 24, 2012 at 10:22PM EDT
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Aura wrote:

More than simply believing in God’s existence, I believe He sent His one and only Son to die for my sins. Such forgiveness I am not deserving of.

Why not?

Aug 24, 2012 at 10:30PM EDT
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Has a different Religion/Belief ever caught your interest?

Islam. When I was doing my postgraduate degree, I lived with a Muslim flatmate. Great dude, we had a lot of interesting conversations including, but not limited to: comparing my Christian upbringing to his Islamic upbringing .

It was interesting noting the differences in our beliefs or perhaps more importantly the similarities

One of the most interesting things I learned about Islam was how it was prophesied to be the last true religion. True in the sense that it would be the last organised faith built around prophets, defined Gods and moral/community structures.

That prophesy looks like it could actually come true. It doesn’t look like any new religions within the same class of the major ones will ever come to fruition. The ones we have now will be the last of their kind as all new religions have none of their inspiration. Scientology? Bah, not a true religion. It’s going nowhere

I may not believe in Islam but its fascinating to learn about it amidst all its misconceptions

But another question: Are you superstitious?

Nope. No offense to those who are, but divine booby traps under ladders and broken mirrors that drive the universe into working against an induvidual? If superstitions are true, then God is the ultimate troll.

Can’t say Karma makes sense to me either. It assumes that the universe operates on the principles of good vs evil rather than cause and effect

Aug 25, 2012 at 12:31AM EDT
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Serious Business wrote:

@Count Lionel

I’m a Mormon. Let’s talk.

What the fuck are baptisms for the dead anyway?
I can never get a straight answer.

Last edited Aug 25, 2012 at 12:49AM EDT
Aug 25, 2012 at 12:48AM EDT
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@Connor
Mormons (like most Christians) believe that baptism is an essential step towards salvation and eternal life in the world to come. We do not, however, automatically assume that those who died without the opportunity are damned forever (harsh). Instead, a High Priest can baptize an already-baptized member, which is done for the soul of an ancestor who has died without baptism. The idea is that the dead ancestor (in the next life) can choose whether or not he accepts the baptism.

So basically, say my great-great-grandpa was never baptized, so I get baptized in his place, since he has passed on. It’s actually a very beautiful ordinance.

:D

Aug 25, 2012 at 01:28AM EDT
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Really? Someone downvoted Serious Business for saying “I’m a Mormon, let’s talk”? Chill with the downvotes, lurkers. If you disagree with someone on the internet about a religious issue, showing passive-aggressive disapproval via an anonymous neg does nothing about it. I’ve been hanging back for a while in the thread, but this is getting dumb. If you want to join the conversation, I’d encourage you to do so. But just stop with the unwarranted downvoting.

Also, Aura, I’d be very curious as to how you’d answer Archmage’s question. Don’t feel like it’s a test or anything, but yeah.

One final thing: Serious Business, I would like to take the opportunity to clear a little of the air, and don’t feel like I’m trying to incite an argument here, but I don’t know of really any Christians (well, Mormons aside, I suppose) who believe that baptism is an essential step in Salvation. And again, I’m not trying to put down your beliefs, but my understanding of Christianity is that salvation is by faith, and baptism is not but a symbol of that faith. An important symbol, mind you, but not one needed for salvation.

Aug 25, 2012 at 02:43AM EDT
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Do we have another karma bomber in here?

Honestly, whoever it is; if you don’t like this conversation you have two options: express your issue here so we can discuss a solution or just don’t click on this thread.

Negging everyone in the thread will not make it go away or suddenly change opinions you don’t agree with

Aug 25, 2012 at 03:29AM EDT
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@BacktoMack: This may just be a Catholic thing, but Baptism is a very important sacrament. Perhaps most important because it is the first of the seven sacraments that are given to the average Catholic person. Two sacraments, those being Holy Orders and Matrimony, are not necessary for salvation, but they help in making an individual more holy in the eyes of God and the church. Baptism, followed by Confirmation, is necessary for inclusion to the church, and without it one is not truly a Catholic.

@SeriousBusiness: Okay then! I suppose my most burning question has to be regarding the religious affiliations to the family unit. What does the good book say regarding family life? And if it says nothing in particular, then what are the reasons for the stereotype regarding happy Mormon families? And a few other questions: just how accepted is polygamy, and for what reasons is it justified? Just how much power does the President of the church have over his followers and their tenets? How much of the Christian and Jewish holy books are included in the Mormon faith, if any at all? What are Mormon views regarding the afterlife in relation to mortal lifestyles? What exactly is meant by “Latter Day Saints” and how common is canonization in the Mormon faith?

Aug 25, 2012 at 08:00AM EDT
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@SeriousBusiness
Not trying to be mean or poke fun, but, honestly, what are your thoughts on The Book Of Mormon, if any? (As in the musical.) I saw it a few months ago on Broadway and thought that it was a) funny, in a whole different way from South Park (Because it was created by the same people.) and b) wasn’t an obvious attempt to attack Mormonism. It poked at it, yeah, but never seemed like it was going for a shock-humor style like South Park usually does with religion.

Aug 25, 2012 at 08:11AM EDT
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165 posts, last post by Free Cake about 17 hours ago

Oh Internet, how I love you so.

Aug 25, 2012 at 08:57AM EDT

Count Lionel wrote:

@BacktoMack: This may just be a Catholic thing, but Baptism is a very important sacrament. Perhaps most important because it is the first of the seven sacraments that are given to the average Catholic person. Two sacraments, those being Holy Orders and Matrimony, are not necessary for salvation, but they help in making an individual more holy in the eyes of God and the church. Baptism, followed by Confirmation, is necessary for inclusion to the church, and without it one is not truly a Catholic.

@SeriousBusiness: Okay then! I suppose my most burning question has to be regarding the religious affiliations to the family unit. What does the good book say regarding family life? And if it says nothing in particular, then what are the reasons for the stereotype regarding happy Mormon families? And a few other questions: just how accepted is polygamy, and for what reasons is it justified? Just how much power does the President of the church have over his followers and their tenets? How much of the Christian and Jewish holy books are included in the Mormon faith, if any at all? What are Mormon views regarding the afterlife in relation to mortal lifestyles? What exactly is meant by “Latter Day Saints” and how common is canonization in the Mormon faith?

Admittedly, I had forgotten to include Catholicism. Sorry about that. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a Presbyterian, and baptism for us is a symbol of the acceptance of an individual into the church body, usually by a parent in place of a child, similar to Catholicism in that regard. I’m also pretty sure that little if any of this is news to you, but what I’m getting at is that, as a Protestant Christian, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of baptism being a required act needed for acceptance by God into heaven.

Which actually leads me to a question for you, Serious Business: do Mormons consider themselves Protestant? If not, what are they then? Just Mormons?

Aug 25, 2012 at 01:29PM EDT
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Cale wrote:

Why not?

I’m glad you asked.

I know my guilt. Have much more learning I want to do, but with what I have read from both the Old and New Testaments, I have realized that I have broken every commandment He has given. Unlike our laws where there are degrees of guilt, the laws that God gave us all carry the same punishment --death. Also, it does not even matter if sinned one time or a million times. I know that when I stand before God I would be found guilty --if He chose not to send his only son to take the punishment on my behalf.

Aug 25, 2012 at 01:43PM EDT
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na be a very, very long post.

@Mack I thought Baptists treated baptism as essential. Maybe I’m wrong. And well, we’re not Catholic. And we don’t CONSIDER ourselves Protestant, because we did not break away from any other Church. We have sort of a unique claim that God has again spoken and established a Church on HIS terms, and not “Reforming” any currently-extant one. (Which ties interestingly into the conversation about Islam…)

@Cake I haven’t seen the musical. Though I have heard that it wasn’t as mean as you’d think coming from the South Park guys. In short: ¯\(°_o)/¯

@Lionel Those are a lot of questions.
1) The Bible contains many stories about families, as does the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon (the book) begins with the story of a (somewhat dysfunctional) ancient family trying to follow God as best they can. Another part tells of a peaceful nation going to war to defend their families.

2) Other reasons come from our doctrine that Marriage is an ordinance, a sacrament. The highest of all of them. We take marriage seriously, because (if done right) it’s supposed to last beyond the grave into eternity. As a friend put it: “If I’d have thought of marriage as FOREVER, I would never have married my ex-husband.” The way we normally put it: Families are Forever. Your job and your hobbies and your anything fade with time, and are lost, but Families are Forever.

3) Polygamy is a matter of brief necessity. Abraham and Jacob (in the Bible) had a few wives each, but they were good guys (and God told them to). When Mormons were being kicked out of everywhere and had to venture across the USA on foot, (remember Oregon Trail? Yeah. Dysentery.) There were many more women than men. Since marriage is so important, and also because it was necessary to colonize a terrible desert, some men took more than one wife. (Also, God told them to). This practice was never widespread. It was officially discontinued one hundred and twenty three years ago. People who practice polygamy now are not real members of the Church. They are wack-os.

4) The President of the Church has the authority to receive revelations from God, in response to current situations. That said, it’s not like every word he says is scripture forever and ever. Members should pray and ask God if these things are right. That is a fundamental principle of the Church, that God will help you feel in your heart if something is true.

5) The WHOLE Bible is accepted as scripture (we usually use the KJV). The Book of Mormon is also scripture, no more or less than the Bible. There are a few other books of revelations that have been accepted as “legit scripture”.

6) What do you mean by this? “How does one live to get to heaven,” or “what is heaven like”?

7) In the Old and New Testaments (the Bible), true followers are called “saints”. We consider all followers of Christ saints in this sense, not to be confused with Catholic Saints.

TL;DR Families are Forever.

Aug 25, 2012 at 02:33PM EDT
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Aura wrote:

I’m glad you asked.

I know my guilt. Have much more learning I want to do, but with what I have read from both the Old and New Testaments, I have realized that I have broken every commandment He has given. Unlike our laws where there are degrees of guilt, the laws that God gave us all carry the same punishment --death. Also, it does not even matter if sinned one time or a million times. I know that when I stand before God I would be found guilty --if He chose not to send his only son to take the punishment on my behalf.

That’s a very defeatist way of looking at it. Tell me, is it better to have be perfect from the start, or in wisdom from your mistakes, learn to be enlightened and embrace your position with the Lord and his Commands?

I can’t really say what’s what, but if you truly regret what you’ve done, and wish to make peace with yourself and God, then do what is right and don’t dwell on mistakes.

Aug 25, 2012 at 03:13PM EDT
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@SeriousBusiness: Thank you for the detailed response. Truly enlightening! As for clarification on that question: What does the afterlife hold for sinners? How about for the truly divine? And the entirely wicked? And what of those who do not follow the Mormon faith?

Aug 25, 2012 at 03:38PM EDT
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@ Lionel
We believe that after death the spirit/soul goes to a spirit world, where you await your judgement. This can either be peaceful, or not so peaceful, depending on what you’ve done in life.

When the time is right, you are resurrected and must face judgement. God will judge us based on our actions, our desires, and our circumstances. Only God is allowed to judge, because he understands each of us so deeply, and knows what we’re going through. And Christ has paid the price for all our sins if we are willing to follow him.

After judgement, there’s what we call “degrees of glory”, a unique sort of “multi-tier” system with
1. a place for those who accept Christ and obey his laws and ordinances,
2. a place for “really cool guys” who were good people, but never progressed spiritually, and
3. another place for really really terrible people (Hitler).

Aug 25, 2012 at 04:22PM EDT
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Cale wrote:

That’s a very defeatist way of looking at it. Tell me, is it better to have be perfect from the start, or in wisdom from your mistakes, learn to be enlightened and embrace your position with the Lord and his Commands?

I can’t really say what’s what, but if you truly regret what you’ve done, and wish to make peace with yourself and God, then do what is right and don’t dwell on mistakes.

I understand why you say it is a defeatist perspective, and I would have to say you are correct to an extent. I do tend to dwell a lot on my mistakes, and it has made me weary at times. At the same time, I see this as thoughts from a humble man who knows what he does and does not deserve.

No doubt the second of two options you asked would be the right one. Because I have been enlightened, I have had a renewed sense of wanting to share my faith with others and to spread the Gospel as the Bible said.

Thank you for the reply.

Aug 25, 2012 at 04:35PM EDT
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Aura wrote:

I understand why you say it is a defeatist perspective, and I would have to say you are correct to an extent. I do tend to dwell a lot on my mistakes, and it has made me weary at times. At the same time, I see this as thoughts from a humble man who knows what he does and does not deserve.

No doubt the second of two options you asked would be the right one. Because I have been enlightened, I have had a renewed sense of wanting to share my faith with others and to spread the Gospel as the Bible said.

Thank you for the reply.

Aug 25, 2012 at 05:01PM EDT
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Who said “long post”? I’ve got a few days worth of this thread to catch up on…

Mack wrote:

I also find it interesting that you’d choose irresistible grace to be one of your disagreements with Calvinism when unconditional election is easily the most controversial.

Odd, a few years back, I was having a discussion with a group of about a dozen men from my church about five-point Calvinism, and most of us agreed that “limited atonement” was the most controversial.

RandomMan wrote:

The things science has discovered and the facts, hypotheses and theories they brought along with it make more sense to me than “God did it”.

I’m probably posting a link to this particular blog post for the fiftieth time, but it’s really one of my favorites: Why is the sky blue Long form: read the whole thing. Medium form: read the last four paragraphs. Short form: Science and religion are each good in their own ways, and I don’t see why one must exclude the other.

Case in point, while I get the joke here, I think the top statement is scientifically wrong, and the lower statement is theologically wrong. 1: The universe has infinite room, but that room is filled with a finite amount of material. 2: The Bible never says that only Israel is important; on the contrary, it says repeatedly that God’s purpose for creating Israel is to have a tiny nation in the middle of nowhere that would influence the whole world profoundly.

If people feel happy knowing a passed away relative is in “a better place” now and it’s what gets them through tough times, then I would find myself a huge dick telling them otherwise.

Agreed, but I don’t think this is a valid excuse for never discussing the validity of religion, which some argue. Maybe there are brief times in our lives when we can feel consoled by self-delusion about spirituality, such self-delusion is not becoming as a full-time hobby.

sting_auer wrote:

My point is that there has to be something to these lineups between ancient religions. Either they are all just stories, or there was a “son of god” who’s story has been being passed down and changed for millennium. I find the former to be more likely.

A lot of interesting theories have been built concerning those odd similarities in differing religious traditions. A missionary by the name of Don Richardson came up with a handful of astounding ideas about the significance which he wrote up in his book “Eternity in Their Hearts”, a good book I’d even recommend to non-religious people who are just interested in the interplay between anthropology and religion. (It also makes compelling arguments that missionaries who think they need to destroy a primitive culture in order to build a new Christian one are doing more harm than good to everyone involved.)

Count Lionel wrote:

I am a Jew according to Jewish law, or so I am told.

I like that paragraph, because I’m sort of the opposite. I was raised Jewish, and always assumed I was Jewish, but found out several years ago that I am not, according to the Law, since my mother never had an “official” conversion.

Hypercat-Z wrote:

If we assume the god we are following is the true God then we automatically assume all the other gods are fakes and their followers are stupid, which is pretty egocentric, don’t you think so?

I see what you’re trying to say here, but I think it misses something important from the other side of that coin. If I assume my God is the “true” God, then yes, most likely the assumption that other gods are “false” just follows logically. But the problem with the precedent is twofold: First, if I didn’t believe that my God was the “true” God, then I’m not really a true member of my religious tradition, am I? Second, as I think we discussed in another thread, you can’t simply choose what you do or don’t believe in. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus is God, as a member of the Holy Trinity. That means I logically must reject the validity of, let’s say worship of Ganesh. In an attempt to be open-minded, however, I recognize that the average worshiper of Ganesh will think much the same of me, and we both have a right to our respective views. This also means that while I would want that hypothetical Hindu to know more about Jesus, it would be unfair of me to preach to him and never listen to what he thinks about Ganesh.

Blue Screen (of death) wrote:

[The Crusades are] not something Christians should be held accountable for. Claiming they are, is nothing short of a red herring argument.

I’m a Christian, and I partly disagree. The problem is, in this day and age if I want to say that I am making life choices because I believe they are the choices Christ wants me to make, how does that square with the fact that the Crusaders at least claimed to be motivated in the same manner? If someone wants to say that I, personally (or my church, or whatever) am responsible for the Crusades, then yes, it’s a red herring, but questioning the validity of a religion in which such a thing could happen does need to be addressed. I’ve given a long version reply to this question before, but the short version is, “Yes, Christians have waged Holy wars; but so have Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, and pagans, and for that matter, plenty of wars have been waged that have had nothing to do with religion at all. It’s not the nature of Christianity that makes war, it’s human nature.”

/\/00b wrote:

What do you call someone who isn’t atheist but doesn’t believe in religion?

There may not be a specific label depending on what you do believe, but often, such people are called “Deists” if I’m not mistaken.

Whitishcollar wrote:

But another question: Are you superstitious?

I like the way you put that, because it really is “another question” although a lot of people don’t realize it. I meet plenty of people that don’t believe in God in any form, yet they do believe in astrology, faith healing, luck as a physical substance, or even guardian angels. For myself, even though I believe in God and miracles I think we as humans far too often put a label of divine providence on things that just happened for no particular reason.

Mexican Android wrote:

Has a different Religion/Belief ever caught your interest?

Another question I love, partially because it can be interesting to see the way people respond. Many people find this a very uncomfortable question and essentially refuse to answer it. I’ve been quite comfortable in telling people that if someone were to show me that Christianity simply cannot be true, I’d probably become a Buddhist, as I appreciate the philosophy.

Blue Screen (of death) wrote:

One of the most interesting things I learned about Islam was how it was prophesied to be the last true religion.

I’m guessing you’ve never heard of Baha’i, then? Give it a look and see how it stacks up; I find it an interesting history.

Serious Business wrote:

Abraham and Jacob (in the Bible) had a few wives each, but they were good guys (and God told them to).

I don’t recall God telling them to take multiple wives. Is that something in the Book of Mormon?

Aug 26, 2012 at 05:33AM EDT
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I’m really impressed that this is such a mature thread that is handling a topic that usually gets immature quickly.

Aug 26, 2012 at 05:58AM EDT
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Calkarot wrote:

I’m really impressed that this is such a mature thread that is handling a topic that usually gets immature quickly.

Oh great.

You let the flood gates open.

(Kidding)

Aug 26, 2012 at 06:43AM EDT

@Brucker

“Yes, Christians have waged Holy wars; but so have Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, and pagans, and for that matter, plenty of wars have been waged that have had nothing to do with religion at all. It’s not the nature of Christianity that makes war, it’s human nature.”

This was more or less the point that I was trying to get at. But I did not do a very good job of driving that home. You put it in much better terms.

I’m guessing you’ve never heard of Baha’i, then? Give it a look and see how it stacks up; I find it an interesting history.

Not really, no. My Muslim friend never said anything about that.

[edit] Had a peek at the Wikipedia article.

So it’s another semi-abrahamic religion that spawned from both Islam and Christianity with a bit of Buddhist influence and appeared in the 18th century making it newer than Islam by a few hundred years. Okay

Is it as big as Islam and contents its position as “Last True Religion”? Hell if I know. Ask a Muslim that question. But that is interesting to know none-the-less

[edit again]

In retrospect, perhaps I misunderstood my flatmate. It’s possible that instead of implying that Islam would be the last major religion to be invented, what he really meant was that it would be the last to survive.

My memory is flaky. Take me with a grain of salt.

Last edited Aug 26, 2012 at 07:06AM EDT
Aug 26, 2012 at 06:52AM EDT
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20% Cooler than Ice Rinsankajugin wrote:

One of my friends is dealing with a dangerous mist-like thing. (I saw it in person before) Is that superstitious?

Call Ghost Hunters.

Also, what do you mean it’s dangerous?

Last edited Aug 26, 2012 at 08:02AM EDT
Aug 26, 2012 at 08:00AM EDT
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Serious Business wrote:

@ Lionel
We believe that after death the spirit/soul goes to a spirit world, where you await your judgement. This can either be peaceful, or not so peaceful, depending on what you’ve done in life.

When the time is right, you are resurrected and must face judgement. God will judge us based on our actions, our desires, and our circumstances. Only God is allowed to judge, because he understands each of us so deeply, and knows what we’re going through. And Christ has paid the price for all our sins if we are willing to follow him.

After judgement, there’s what we call “degrees of glory”, a unique sort of “multi-tier” system with
1. a place for those who accept Christ and obey his laws and ordinances,
2. a place for “really cool guys” who were good people, but never progressed spiritually, and
3. another place for really really terrible people (Hitler).

For a religion started in the early 1800’s, that is incredibly kind. While today, many religious people believe that God helps and cares for even those who reject “His” words, that was not really much of a thought back then. It was so “You’re with us, or you’re against us.” Every group thought they were right and if you weren’t them, you were wrong and damned, regardless of how good or bad you were. Which I think is what some people see as Black And White morality now. That your religious choice overrides most any other thing you’ve done. That Christian criminals are “better” than Islamic inventors. But with this, God recognizes the good in all people, even those who aren’t His “Chose people.” It’s not full equality, but it’s still a lot for that time period.

Aug 26, 2012 at 08:07AM EDT
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Owens wrote:

Call Ghost Hunters.

Also, what do you mean it’s dangerous?

TURNING INTO MIST IS A VAMPIRE POWER YOU DUNDER-HEAD.

RINSANKAJUKIN IS GON DIE.

Last edited Aug 26, 2012 at 11:51AM EDT
Aug 26, 2012 at 11:50AM EDT
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I neither believe nor disbelieve in God because the concept of God is something that doesn’t fit properly into a language where true and false statements can be made. God’s like a poem, the people who are trying to figure out if a statement about God is true or false in the same sense that the sentence “John fed the cat this morning” is true or false are missing the point entirely.

That being said, I’m decidely atheistic in my manners. No point in altering the way I live life for something which has no measureable effect on said life.

To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson “One God, no God, or twenty gods, it neither breaks my leg or fills my pocket.”

Last edited Aug 26, 2012 at 08:23PM EDT
Aug 26, 2012 at 08:22PM EDT
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@Brucker

I’d say unconditional election still, because that’s kind of the crux of the whole philosophy.

Well, at least, that’s what people think of most when they think “Calvinism.”

Aug 26, 2012 at 09:02PM EDT
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I still believe that religion is… I don’t know what words to choose. :\
But religion, in my opinion, is something that keeps one’s spirits up, basically it encourages you to fulfill what you want to do in life. When one, may I quote, “prays” to their God, or deity, depending on your religion, (not to say it in a bad way) the deity does not give the encouragement.
The encouragement comes from yourself. When you’re praying to your deity or God, you are basically praying to yourself. You lift your own spirits. You help yourself think, no, you help yourself know that if you try your best, you can achieve the greatest of things.

I’m not trying to offend anyone here.
Please, if I offend, I sincerely apologize for that.

Aug 26, 2012 at 10:12PM EDT
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Meh.
My two cents:
I simply do not give a fuck
There is, there isn’t
Doesn’t matter to me
Personally, I’d like to think of myself as a humanist.
There may or may not be a god, but I focus on what we as humans have done.
So overall, kick back and enjoy the ride

Aug 27, 2012 at 12:04AM EDT
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If you are a non believer in something i.e. a normal person going through life, you are not labeled by the stuff you don’t believe in. By calling yourself an atheist you are labeling yourself as a non believer in something you don’t believe in in the first place. A normal person doesn’t need to label that they don’t believe in UFOs so same should be said with religion. I am a normal person, my religion or lack thereof is mine and mine alone.

Aug 27, 2012 at 12:16AM EDT
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Fifths wrote:

I neither believe nor disbelieve in God because…

I find the krama ratings in a thread like this confusing at times. While doctrinally I disagree with almost everything in your post, you put it so well that I gave you an upvote. I end up wondering who gave you a downvote and why.

Mack wrote:

I’d say unconditional election still, because that’s kind of the crux of the whole philosophy.

Maybe I need clarification of what you mean by “controversial” then, because of course that being the crux of the philosophy, it’s not controversial among Calvinists.

Lone K. the Lonely Creeper wrote:

When you’re praying to your deity or God, you are basically praying to yourself. You lift your own spirits. You help yourself think, no, you help yourself know that if you try your best, you can achieve the greatest of things.

Interesting, no downvotes for you, although what you’ve said is bordering much closer to offensive than a lot of what others have said. Still, however you meant it, I think even many fundamentalists could see merit in the statement if they gave it reasonable consideration. C.S. Lewis said that one does not pray in order to change God, but to change oneself.

Vazquez wrote:

By calling yourself an atheist you are labeling yourself as a non believer in something you don’t believe in in the first place.

It sounds like you’re saying use of the term “atheist” is by its very nature silly since it’s a defining of someone with respects to a being or beings they don’t believe to exist. I don’t think this is atheists’ fault even if true (which I don’t think to be the case), because religion is just important enough to society that even a person who is irreligious needs to have terms to identify what exactly they don’t believe in. Actually, there’s a sort of joking but sort of true statement I’ve heard many atheists make: There are (let’s say) ten thousand different “gods” defined by some religion somewhere in the world. A Christian rejects 9,999 of them, while an atheist simply rejects just one more god than Christians do.

If on the other hand you’re trying to say that religious belief (or lack thereof) is a very personal matter, I’d be a little bit more inclined to agree, but I’m still not sure what you’re trying to say specifically.

Aug 27, 2012 at 04:38AM EDT
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I personally don’t believe in a god, though I did attend a deeply religious school. Every day would start with a religious speech from a senior member of staff, or a short period of Bible study in small groups. Religious Education classes were compulsory for everyone, and were heavily biased towards Christianity. We even had science teachers that would teach us Biblical Creationism in place of Big Bang Cosmology or Evolution. You can read more about my school in Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ (Chapter 9, ‘An Educational Scandal’), where he goes into great length to mock my old physics teacher who wanted to bring Young-Earth Creationism into science classes across the country.

With that in mind, it’s fair to say that I’ve had plenty of exposure to religion. It used to worry me a lot, since we were often reminded that we’d go to hell and suffer for all eternity for failing to make the ‘right choice’. Even with that great threat looming over my shoulder, there was always something about the idea of ‘God’ that didn’t seem to add up for me. It just seemed incompatible with the world I was observing. I ended up doing my own research into things, and eventually came to the conclusion that there (probably) is no God, and that Christianity (probably) doesn’t provide an accurate description of our universe. I haven’t done much research into other religions, but from what I’ve seen none of them appear to be any more believable.

I subscribe to a naturalist philosophy. Through centuries of rigorous scientific study, not once have we found any hard evidence for the existence of anything supernatural. Because of this, I see no reason for us to believe the supernatural even exists. Belief in the supernatural may help us build a nice worldview, or it may be comforting to believe that we’re going to an afterlife, but that doesn’t make it true. Finding the truth and being certain that it’s correct is more important to me than finding a set of beliefs that might improve me as a person or explain away a few of the big questions. I rely heavily on the scientific method as a means to find that truth. We may be able to explain certain mysteries of the universe by saying a particular god is responsible, but without evidence to back it up there’s no reason to favour that as an explanation over anything else. Unknowns should simply be left as unknowns in my opinion, at least until we have a testable theory, and until we can prove something one way or the other we should always default to disbelief.

If I had to label myself, I’d say I’m an agnostic atheist. Everyone seems to have this misconception that ‘agnosticism’ is simply being unsure on the topic of whether or not a god or gods exist, hence making it incompatible with both theism and atheism. It’s more accurately the belief that something is unknown or possibly even unknowable. I can’t prove that a god doesn’t exist, but I’m not going to be so bold as to declare that it’s definitely impossible. That said, I don’t see it as being particularly likely. (This is especially true of the Christian God, as His character seems to be inconsistent to me, and His nature seems to be illogical)


Calkarot wrote:

I do believe in god, but I do not follow the religion. I found that it was too… bossy. And I really don’t agree with “Believe in god or go to hell”. But I also don’t believe in some aspects of evolution, just because i think it is illogical that the entire damn race changed from monkey to man. But minor changes such as skin change I can accept. I think religions give people hope, and is that really something to argue about?

Sorry for going a little off-topic here, but I wanted to comment on this. If you believe that evolution could change our skin, could it not also make our brains slightly larger? Could it change our skeletal structure to make us stand slightly more upright? Could it make us slightly less hairy? All of those things would increase the odds of survival under some conditions, so all could arise by evolution. It’s the combined effect of all of those small changes that make us go from ‘monkey to man’ (slightly inaccurate choice of words, but close enough). Macroevolution is just many occurrences of microevolution over a large timescale, so I don’t understand how one could be considered illogical but not the other.

Aug 27, 2012 at 08:35AM EDT
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@Algernon

I think your attempt to find evidence for or against God by applying the scientific method is flawed. Science is so revered in our modern culture that people often see it as the end all and be all for discovering knowledge about the universe. In truth, science is extremely limited.

Science can only ever speak of that which is empirically observable. It can only ever describe the way the natural world acts, it can’t explain why it acts the way it does. Gravity doesn’t exist, it’s an entity that scientists postulated to help describe the phenomena of orbiting planets and falling objects. Energy doesn’t exist, it’s an entity that scientists postulated to describe the actions of certain objects in certain states and what not.

Science can explain how things behave, it can never explain the ultimate reason why they behave the way they do. The reason why things behave the way they do is grounded in the unobservable ‘noumenal’ world, which will always remain mysterious and beyond the grasp of human understanding. God, as modern religion understands him, is said to be an entity based in this noumenal world of ultimate reality. Science cannot speak on that which is unobservable.

Hell, even if science allegedly found empirical ‘evidence’ of God, I don’t think this would lend any real credibility to the posited existence of this noumenal being. There is notthing that we could possibly observe that could serve as true evidence of this noumenal being. Say we have a bunch of evidence that everything the creationists said was true, that the world was created in six days, that life was created not evolved, there was a worldwide flood, what have you. All of this stuff remains mere empirical observation, it speaks at best of an intelligent designer, and perhaps not even that. Think along the lines of the Matrix, all that evidence for God could just be stuff that the machines programmed into reality. It in no way coresponds as direct evidence of God, and philosophical skepticism would keep it from being indirect evidence. If an entity claiming to be God appeared before me in all his burning glory and juggled the planets before my eyes, this would remain empirical observation, and not real evidence of any noumenal being.

Frankly, I don’t think we can even really talk sensefully about a world which not only have we never experienced, but cannot possibly experience. Religious people claim that God transcends human understanding, but this also means he transcends our ability to speak of him.

Edit: I should note that all this only applies to relatively modern conceptions of God as this transcendent entity. If we are speaking of, say, Greek mythology which postulates “The gods are a bunch of jerks in togas who exist on top of mt. Olympus,” then I think it’s perfectly within the realm of science to climb up to Mt. Olympus, discover that there are no gods there, and happily say they’ve disproven Greek mythology. This is because Greek mythology posits that their Gods are based in the empiricial world, not the noumenal.

Last edited Aug 27, 2012 at 10:06AM EDT
Aug 27, 2012 at 09:48AM EDT
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Fifths wrote:

I neither believe nor disbelieve in God because the concept of God is something that doesn’t fit properly into a language where true and false statements can be made. God’s like a poem, the people who are trying to figure out if a statement about God is true or false in the same sense that the sentence “John fed the cat this morning” is true or false are missing the point entirely.

That being said, I’m decidely atheistic in my manners. No point in altering the way I live life for something which has no measureable effect on said life.

To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson “One God, no God, or twenty gods, it neither breaks my leg or fills my pocket.”

This, this, a thousand times, this.

It’s just not that simple. You can’t just proclaim God to exist or not exist as a fact, because God is an abstract concept that doesn’t quite fit the criteria for being a question you can answer with any sort of simplicity.

My personal belief is that there is no possible way to prove that God does or does not exist. It’s beyond the capabilities of the human race as a whole to begin to understand how such a thing can even be proven true or false, if it were possible to prove it true or false to begin with (which I agree with Fifths on: it’s not). If it were possible to prove, we still wouldn’t be able to prove it, because we’ll never have the capacity to understand how.

Aw shiiiiit, it’s getting abstract up in here.


An edit regarding science:

In addition to what Fifths said, keep in mind that science is a paradigm. Just because we accept something as fact doesn’t necessarily make it a fact.

An example would be the world being flat. That was accepted as fact. If you said the world was round, you’re a crazy motherfucker, and you need to be committed.

Now, one would say “Oh! That was because their science was flawed.”

Who’s to say 100,000 years from now the human race won’t look back on us and say our science was horribly flawed, when we accept it as proven fact? It is an ever-shifting paradigm.

Last edited Aug 27, 2012 at 10:08AM EDT
Aug 27, 2012 at 09:58AM EDT
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Attempting to use the scientific method to determine the existence of an exo-universal being through evidence is a lot like dividing by zero.

You are calculating nothing with nothing so the result will always be undefined

Thanks to the void definitions of ‘godly evidence’. You actually have two simultaneous answers:

A: Absolutely everything in the universe is absolutely proof of God
B: Absolutely nothing in the universe is absolutely proof of God

Because if God exists then the universe itself is the observable evidence he left behind to indicate his presence and it would be undeniable evidence. But because we don’t know what said deity did not make so we can compare this universe to what isn’t evidence of God then it becomes impossible to derive a conclusion

Aug 27, 2012 at 10:14AM EDT
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@Fifths

Could you suggest a better way to determine whether or not a god exists? If a god does exist, but is confined to this ‘noumenal world’, anything we could say about it would be pure guesswork. There’s no reason for us to even suppose that it exists in the first place. If the god does have some direct influence over our universe though, as most people here seem to think, then it should be observable, and therefore testable (at least in theory). I suppose we could go fully abstract and say that God is simply the foundation of reality itself, but in that case, why call it ‘God’? It’s certainly a different idea to what the ancients envisioned when the word first came into existence, so to avoid confusion I don’t think it shouldn’t be referred to as such.

If may consider my worldview to be limited, since I choose to believe only in that which we can observe, then I’d have to agree with you. I still think it’s preferable to believing in things we can’t possibly understand or prove though. I’ve never thought highly of ‘faith’ as a way to come to a decision about the nature of the universe (or whatever other realm we’re supposing may exist), and besides that I can’t see any other reasons to believe in anything supernatural.


Owens wrote:

In addition to what Fifths said, keep in mind that science is a paradigm. Just because we accept something as fact doesn’t necessarily make it a fact…

…Who’s to say 100,000 years from now the human race won’t look back on us and say our science was horribly flawed, when we accept it as proven fact? It is an ever-shifting paradigm.

Just thought I’d point out I agree with this entirely. It may have sounded like I believe that science is some perfect method for determining truth, but I know for a fact that it isn’t. It’s just a way of modelling the universe. Some models are better than others though, and they can be tested against each other. In that way, science allows us to reach better and better levels of understanding, but we’ll never reach a level of 100% certainty in anything. It does however give us degrees of certainty in our claims, which is better than any other method can provide for us (not counting pure mathematics here, since it doesn’t describe much at all about reality by itself).


@BSoD

I don’t think I follow the logic of that ‘godly evidence’ thing…

I’m going to say that B is correct in all cases. You could replace the word ‘God’ with anything you like though. As far as I know, we can never say anything is ‘absolutely proof’ of anything else.

I also don’t think that the following statement is sound:

Because if God exists then the universe itself is the observable evidence he left behind to indicate his presence and it would be undeniable evidence

The universe itself would only be evidence that God existed if you first assume the existence of God. That argument is circular. Also, I’m not sure if there’s even such a thing as ‘undeniable evidence’.

I’m not great when it comes to logical arguments though, so feel free to call me an idiot and correct me there.

Edit: Rereading this, and I may just be proving your point further… maybe…
This confuses me.

Edit2: No wait, I think I got it right the first time. I think.

Last edited Aug 27, 2012 at 11:58AM EDT
Aug 27, 2012 at 11:26AM EDT
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@Algernon

Note the IF. I said IF God exists then that would be the case since he is alleged to be responsible for the universe existing. IF God is determined to exist then the universe itself would be his evidence.

But the problem is that the universe is the only possible thing science can use to prove God, it’s the only thing he left behind for us to observe. Everything else is beyond this universe and thus beyond the scope of scientific research.

You pretty much made my point by pointing out how circular that is. Science would have to prove God exists before it can prove God exists hence my division by zero anology. It just doesn’t have anything to work with.

That’s why I say we are left with two possible absolutes. Either everything is proof because it’s all his work or nothing is because he doesn’t exist. Both options bring us straight back to square one.

If the god does have some direct influence over our universe though, as most people here seem to think, then it should be observable, and therefore testable (at least in theory)

I disagree. If God has a direct influence on the universe, we still can’t tell. In order to prove God by looking for his observable impacts on the universe we must first understand what those impacts are. Religious stories talk about split oceans and fire tornado’s so that’s one thing but there’s no indication if that’s the limit of a deities influence. We also need to understand what is not the direct result of Gods influence to accurately test if any given event is either a sign of presence or absence. When absolutely any event could be attributed to a being with theoretical, yet undefined control over all mechanisms of the universe, that question becomes impossible to answer.

The only way the ancient prophets could tell is because God apparently just straight up told them “Yo, wassup! I’m God!” with blatantly obvious miracles (which also could have been the result of Mt. Sinai brand shrooms to be frank). Sadly we don’t get such assuring displays anymore.

Last edited Aug 27, 2012 at 12:40PM EDT
Aug 27, 2012 at 12:30PM EDT
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@Algernon

“Could you suggest a better way to determine whether or not a god exists?”

No, I can’t, and that’s the point. There is no good way for humans to determine whether God exists, or even what the conditions that need to be satisfied for such a strange entity to exist. This is why I neither believe or actively disbelieve in God. I don’t know what it means for God to exist, so to affirm or deny said existence is entirely pointless, it’s making an empty statement which signifies nothing. As BsoD keeps pointing out, evidence in the physical universe is entirely irrelevant.

But ya, I think you’re more of a pragmatist than a hardcore scientific realist. You seem to be dismissing God for the same reasons I do, because the concept is entirely useless to your understanding of reality.

@Science discussion

One quote I happen to like. “90% of scientific theories have been proven wrong, the other 10% have simply yet to be proven wrong.”

Aug 27, 2012 at 01:11PM EDT
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@Blue Screen

I’m just getting warmed up here, I can beat you at this yet!

We start with your argument…

Divide by 4…
Carry the 3…

No wait, never mind, you got me good.

It does raise the question of why a God capable of revealing himself so easily would choose not to though. I mean, according to some interpretations of the Bible, failure to recognise Jesus as the saviour of mankind will put you in hell for all eternity. The principle of my old school seemed to think that was the only correct interpretation of John 14:6 (Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me). That’s a pretty severe punishment for simply remaining skeptical in the face of very dubious evidence, especially if the problem could be solved so easily. I know not all Christians follow that interpretation, but I still think it’s a valid question.

But I digress, you make a good point.


@Fifths

Yeah, I concede. I see what you mean.

But ya, I think you’re more of a pragmatist than a hardcore scientific realist. You seem to be dismissing God for the same reasons I do, because the concept is entirely useless to your understanding of reality.

That sounds about right… actually, that sounds better than what I was previous working with. Huh…


This is why I kinda like having discussions like this. They confuse me every time, but it always seems worth it for the moments in which everything seems to make a little more sense than before.

So yeah, what I’m saying is, “thanks for logically kicking my ass”.

Aug 27, 2012 at 01:59PM EDT
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GUISE SRSLY!
This thread was asking do you believe in god not prove wether or not he exists.
@Brucker
A lil bit of both. It’s like this, If I don’t believe in UFOs
1. there isn’t a name for someone who doesn’t believe in UFOs so why is there one someone who doesn’t believe in god. People that don’t believe are just regular people.
2. I don’t have to prove or disprove anything. It is the job of the people who do believe in it to prove it’s existence but show proof not tell everyone theories and call it proof.
3. There are things that should and can be argued but without proof all you have is nothing and I don’t have to prove that “nothing” exists

Aug 27, 2012 at 02:20PM EDT
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This is why religion isn’t spoken at schools. All it causes are arguments on who’s right and who isn’t, whats right and whats wrong.

Aug 27, 2012 at 02:34PM EDT
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Skeletor-sm

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