Monday, May 18, 2009

Religion. Yup. Here We Go!

I haven't posted about this yet cos it's really hard to put what i think into words. lol

Forgive me if i don't make sense!!



I'll just get to it, cut the cheese, cut to the chase, jump in the deep end, fry the egg, stamp the poodle... nevermind

What do i believe? Well, i believe in an afterlife. I like to believe in an afterlife. I like the thought that there is something beyond this life and that we don't just drop dead and that's the end.

I don't really believe in a God/Gods though. I don't believe in any religion. I don't believe that some almighty being is watching us as we go about our lives and is listening to our thoughts and prayers. I don't believe in someone/something telling us what is right and what is wrong. I don't like it that we're told we have to live our life by a set of rules or we'll endure an eternity of agonising hell, literally.

There's the whole 'being gay is a sin thing'. (Yes i made up a word) Religians can say that if i wanna be sodomised then i'm going against God and sinning. Well sorryyyyy but why would God make being gay a sin, and then make ME gay, dooming me before i was born?

Also, if there is a God, why can't He just show us? lol

I also believe in evolution. And i see humans just as animals, albeit rather smart ones.

Things like that don't make sense to me.

BUT i do get why some people do believe in religion. In defense, i realize that The Bible and stories like that are open to interpretation.

I'm not going to get into that cos that's not the focus of the post and i know a lot of people are aching to rebut my views right now. :)

And now might be a good time to say that i'm only 15 and don't know everything, so don't POUNCE on me for what i think. :D

I don't hate religion. I used to cos i saw it as a way to attack/spread hatred for others and use your religious beliefs as a shield. But i see now that not everyone is an extremist. lol. And i'm very accepting.

And i would love it if everyone could believe what they want to believe... but not force it upon others.



Religion actually really interests me, a lot. Beliefs and everything are such a fascinating thing for me. I'm intrigued by how people interpret religious stories and all that.

The Sunday night religious program was on my radio last night, and i ended up lying in bed listening to the whole thing, and it went till 2am. They were having a good discussion, with several points of view, and people were calling in with all sorts of beliefs and questions. It was good fun. lol

At one point they were talking about The Bible and how some of it was fact, like Jesus did live and was crucified, and that other parts were stories that are meant to guide us, like Adam and Eve or Noah's Ark. I undertand that. :)

Religion is one of my interests and that's why i like blogs like Just Me, Naturgesetz and Where I Stand. I have had some quite interesting discussions with some of these guys. lol

So yeah, umm... Does this post have a point?

Nope.

I'm pretty sure i made no sense.

love

49 comments:

James said...

I think knowing your views on faith are important to understanding who you are. Thanks for being brave enough to post them here, I hope your thoughts are well-received, even if people don't necessarily agree with them.

And thanks for the plug! :)

Jeremy said...

I don't believe in god either :P

I think that if a god existed then there wouldn't be as much *innocent* suffering as there is in this world. And if a god existed and allowed that to happen, he would be someone to rebel against and overthrow, not someone to follow blindly. But meh, that's just my view.

I really don't care what other people believe, as long as they don't try to push their beliefs onto me.

*hugs*

Aahsazyl said...

IBMS FTW sinner :P

Peter said...

Whoa 3 comments already. Well I'm not sure you can call that last one a comment...

I say the same thing you do about the whole 'if its a sin then why did he make me gay' thing.

There was something else that we both think the same thing on, but I can't remember what it is now...

I'm interested to see NG's comment on this one.

Planetx_123 said...

Well the interesting thing (as will certainly be demonstrated by some comments to follow by others)-- is that the 'successful' religions have self-serving, built in, protection mechanisms to make it impossible to either prove or disprove them. They rely on things like 'faith' to weed out the righteous from the others. This of course wonderfully plays to our biases. We (humans) love to feel like we are special, and love to dominate over others (i.e. arrogance that some have knowledge that others do not). These properties in and of themselves should make one skeptical...

My POV is: take the things we know 'of god'-- nature, science, math--things that we didn't invent but discovered. These things don't share these traits: science isn't coy; it doesn't require you to have faith in anything. It has no properties that are self-serving, or obviously 'of man'. So I would expect god to be similar. Religions are not, and instead are very self-serving.

Religions remind me of used car salesmen.

I do not have the ability to have knowledge of god (agnostic), nor do I have a belief in god (atheist). And I am perfectly fine without 'guessing'. I feel this is the only humble and reasonable way to go about it.

Much Love,
Steve

Planetx_123 said...

oh and what is 'stamp the poodle'? That made me giggle :-)

Yes...where is that NG when you need him to get the vatican's opinion? (NG I mean that only in love!)

Steve

tom bombadil said...

Well sorryyyyy but why would God make being gay a sin, and then make ME gay, dooming me before i was born?

^^^^^^ Agree to the power of 99!!!

But religious people argue that we have a choice... Because THEY BLOODY KNOW HOW IT IS AYE?!!!

Simple minded people >:(

Bombadil

Mr. HCI said...

Well sorryyyyy but why would God make being gay a sin, and then make ME gay, dooming me before i was born?There are several schools of thought I've noticed on that:

1. If God made you gay, who are you to tell him that wasn't nice, since he hates the thought of you sleeping with another boy?

2. If God made you gay, he must've had a good reason. BTW, you may never act on it.

3. If God made you gay, it's not because he is OK with homosexuality, it's because that is how you are to pay for the sin of Adam.

So, no matter what, God hates the thought of you finding a nice boy and falling in love.

One other school of thought that is far preferable:

If God made you gay, who is anyone to say he doesn't want you to find love and be happy?

We'll just ignore the idiotic "it's a choice" schtick.

naturgesetz said...

I hope you won't think I'm pouncing on you by suggesting a different way of looking at things. But here's my take on some of the things you said.

To me it seems obvious that the universe can't be self-creating and must have had a beginning (it can't be "turtles all the way down" in the punch line of the joke). This means that there must be a creator IMO.

It seems to me that we should not think of moral law as arbitrary decisions by God. "Shall I allow adultery? Nah. Shall I allow lying? No. Shall I allow gay sex? No." It's a matter of how he made the world and how he made humanity. And BTW, the Catholic Church and a number of other denominations do not say *being* gay is a sin. They say that engaging in gay sex is sinful. Everybody has temptations. Gay people have certain temptations that straight people don't have. Straight people have certain temptations that gay people don't have. And we all have temptations that have nothing to do with sex.

So I think God created a humanity in which some possible conduct is good and some possible conduct is bad. And I would not say that God *made* us gay. I think it is the effect of physical causes, likely augmented by human activity (see Aek's blog posts on the "gay gene").

And I don't think you were doomed before you were born, even if your homosexual orientation was absolutely fixed before birth. God does not hold us responsible for things beyond our control. What matters is what we do that we have control over.

I think God shows us that he exists by creating the universe, by speaking to our hearts, by raising Jesus, by giving us an afterlife. But he leaves us free to choose not to believe.

Oh, and evolution does not contradict belief in God.

You're apparently sincere and open to the truth, and so I encourage you to keep thinking about these things.

Aek said...

A refreshing post. It's interesting to see what people believe when they comment here.

As for me, I agree with you to some degree. I think life continues in some sense beyond death, and perhaps recycling back into what we call life - kind of like reincarnation, only not necessarily in the same way it's been conceived.

As for the concept of God, I think there is something divine in the universe. It's a common denominator, it's the line that the asymptote attempts to reach, it's the feeling of wonderment. In a sense, I think if there were a God, then God is everywhere, in everything, doing nothing and everything, and not a manifested "someone" over there in heaven.

I suppose I'll introduce the view of the deists. God created the universe, and then sits back to watch how it plays out with no particular interest in the daily lives of man. Perhaps it's kind of like watching a movie that you've seen many times over, but you still watch it from beginning to end uninterrupted because you like it that much - the good and the bad parts.

cvn70 said...

mboy

Your thoughts are just as valuable as anyones elses on this topic and dont let anyone tell you they have the answer either, cause they dont all they have is faith. We disagree on several things but what we agree on is more important; first and foremeost if god created me then what i want to do is not wrong and second that everyone ought to believe in what het y want to without interfering or being interfered with by others

take care and be safe

bob

Tombi04 said...

It's great to see all this debate on religion. Some nice, rational arguments, instead of just slamming the other side.

Also, re the "turtles all the way down", the guy's question to the woman is flawed. Why does the turtle have to be standing on anything? I mean, if it was a tortoise, fair enough, they're land dwelling creatures. But turtles can swim. Why can't it be swimming through the void of space to some far unknown shore?

J said...

It never fails to amaze me how people are prepared to suspend their sense of logic and embrace religious doctrine. If some bearded loon staggers out of a cave and tells you he has a direct line to the creater of the universe, you'd order up a straightjacket. And yet if the same fellow supposedly walked on water and raised the dead, and the story was committed to paper by some zealous acolyte 2,000 years ago, we're supposed to accept it as truth. Sorry, but my creator gave me a brain, and I prefer to utilize it.
One of the great things about promises of everlasting life or everlasting retribution is that no one will ever be put in jail for selling them. No dissatisfied customer has come back to tell us, "Hey, you promised me a mansion and 27 virgins if I bought into this deal, and now I'm dead." That's what makes organized religion the perfect racket. Think of it this way: If humans are either alive or dead, they are either existent or non existent. We were non-existent before we were conceived. So did you live before you lived? If the answer is no, then you shouldn't expect anything when you go back to non-existence. The fact is, no one really is any position to know what the force that created the universe had in mind when he, she or it started this mess, and we flatter ourselves to think we are capable of discerning the answer. The same creater that brought us Jesus also brought us Stalin. Whenever someone says he knows the answer to these paradoxes and we better pay attention, I hold onto my wallet.
While we're at it, have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous than the notion that man was created in God's image? Does that mean that God has cods? Are billions of civilizations started or destroyed in the universe when he gets off?
I say lets operate out of rational self-interest, try to be decent to eachother and work to improve the quality of our collective lives, because if we don't, experience teaches us they'll be no corporal or spiritual entity that will do it for us.
And now that you've prompted this phillipic, I have to say Mboy that you are still the sweetest of instigators.

Kevin Wilson said...

Firstly, I don't think you should be defending the fact that you are only 15 and don't know everything. At your age, starting to question what people have told you throughout your life is normal and expected.

Religion should never be confused with faith. To me, religion is the packaging that the various denominations put around faith to dress it up and make it seem special. The Catholic church is absolutely brilliant at it because, not only is it a deeply ritualized church, they even take away the direct line to God that other religions have - how many other religions tell you that you have to confess your sins via an intermediary?

Some people need to have something in their lives to get them through the day. If they want to believe that God will take care of them and provide them with what they are searching for in life and that makes them happy, that's their call.

The saddest part is that people get caught up in the flashy churches that don't even bother to look to the scriptures for what they teach - they preach their own ideologies and package them as the word of God.

I personally prefer to take responsibility for my own actions and take the stance that people make their own choices and only have themselves to blame if it's the wrong one.

Never be afraid to ask questions or speak your mind on this topic. An open minded approach beats a religious nut sticking their fingers in their ears and going blah blah blah rather than have their ideas challenged.

xthecouragex said...

wow this got a lot of comments fast. I would write my thoughts on this but I've already kinda put it on my blog and I'll probably post about it again.

I really dont want to argue with you...


But can I just pounce on you? =P

AJCon89 said...

I used to believe in god...

but then I lost faith when I kept on getting fucked over and over and over...

Seriously... what kind of god would make someone put up with the shit I have been through... and there are thousands upon thousands out there with similar or worse stories...

If god does exist he has one sick sense of humor...

Planetx_123 said...

@J
Here here!

One thing I would like to add:

People often use this 'causality chain' argument. I.e. something had to create us if you go back far enough in time. The problem is time. We perceive and experience time, and its familiar to us. But we cannot rely on it to reason about things OUTSIDE of the domain of time. At the moment of the big bang time had no meaning. Our time is emergent from expansionary cosmology and increasing entropy (at least as best modeled today). So these naive notions that something 'created' us are all grounded in something that had no meaning before we existed.

The point is only that we are ill equipped to reason about things which we CANNOT understand. The best we can do is observe and create models to predict observations. But we should be sure that whatever is outside our ability to comprehend is probably not discernible by us. We shouldn't be so naive to think our guesses (that incidentally make us feel REALLY good) are close to fact.

So- no turtle arguments.

Much Love,
Steve

naturgesetz said...

@ J — "The fact is, no one really is any position to know what the force that created the universe had in mind when he, she or it started this mess, and we flatter ourselves to think we are capable of discerning the answer."
Fortunately, we have revelation to tell us what our unaided reason can't get to.

"While we're at it, have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous than the notion that man was created in God's image? Does that mean that God has cods?"
Of course that isn't what it means. What it means is that we have reason and free will and that what we do in our bodies is capable of giving a physical representation of God's creative and eternal love. It is not as you put it in your crude caricature, but God did create the universe, with the life that it sustains, as an act of love, just as the human physical act of sexual love is intended to be the means of the transmission of life.

Planetx_123 said...

I love that NG and I posted comments at the exact same time-- one seconding J's claims, one refuting them.

That perfectly summarizes NG and I's feelings on the matter :-)

steve

naturgesetz said...

@ Plantetx_123 — But saying that what exists outside of time (eternally?) is not knowable to unaided human reason does not obviate the point that *something* outside of time must have started time. Something has to have caused the big bang.

You have illustrated the limitations of natural science, not the inadequacy of the argument from causation.

Zee said...

I think I will throw in my thoughts a little bit as I am religious (Muslim), gay, and an engineering major (so I don't hate science).

First of all, the notation that science does not require in faith wrong. It requires some low levels of faith in the idea that what we can sense and measure is right. Faith in that we are conceiving reality. It is just so natural that we overlook it for all intents and purposes.

Secondly, I live the idea that faith is believing in something even when it is inconvenient. It is easy to believe in something that helps you (aren't we all self-serving?). However, we can do the right thing, even if it hurts us, the is faith in an ideal.

One of the ideas that is core the Muslim faith is Jihad, the struggle towards the way of God. I think that is exactly what life is about, struggle. Everyday of faith is tested. Struggle implies it is continuous. Struggle also implies that you don't always win. All of us will sin. I think God is looking for three things: The try within your spirit to do the right thing (even if you don't always do the right thing), the growth that comes from learning through the struggle, and the humility to ask for forgiveness when you have strayed.

Planetx_123 said...

@NG
Of course not-- I stated one of the current models only to illustrate that we shouldn't use our naive notions of the universe that we observe here in our tiny existence to reason about things.

Stop saying 'unaided human reason'--we have nothing but our reasoning abilities. Your 'faith' and belief in arbitrary mythology is not any aide. No one can discern your beliefs from any other arbitrary religion's myths-- i.e. it is useless. It has no predictive power, except to convince the follower that its right without question. That's useless!

Science has no limitations- its a f'ing methodology. Your religion is static and arbitrary and has hints all throughout history that we should distrust it. Not to mention that it is incongruent with our observation! You are telling us we should not trust our observation of what we KNOW is 'of god' and instead believe a static text that must be re-interpreted every few decades to be current with new observations. That notion has so many holes in it its ridiculous-- but alas, you can always say: 'yea well humans corrupted PARTS of it' or 'we're just misinterpreting it'... i.e. its useless. It can't be proven or disproven; it cant predict-- it can be used for nothing except to convince people to believe in it.

We keep doing this dance-- and I know I can't win :-) You would think I would learn... just stubborn. I only can hold on to hope that in a few millennia, like witch trials, organized religion will be nothing but a historical anecdote of our past, simpler times.

Steve

Planetx_123 said...

@Zee
Measurement accuracy has nothing to do with faith. In fact, quite the opposite. In quantum, we recognize that we have precision inadequacy. This doesn't have anything to do with the soundness of physical models.

Where faith in science is important is the faith in prior discovery. I have faith that claims that have been vetted by domain experts are based on pre-discovered building blocks. I.e. I *could* strip all of discovery down to basic axioms, and through lots of hard work re-prove everything. Thus, while I don't have to take another's discovery on faith- it is a big time saver.

None the less, there is a fundamental difference in this kind of faith and that of religion.

Steve

Zee said...

@Plx_123
I won't disagree, with that statement. I was disagreeing the the blanket statement that science require no faith. Over generalizations are seldom right.

I am a pretty moderate person. You won't find me as somebody who rejects science because of God or God because of science. I will reject though the is the idea that science refutes God and that God refutes science. I don't operate at extremes and I find it sad that the debate in public spheres is controlled by extremes that shout at each other and crowd out the fair minded people in the middle.

I love science because in my opinion, I get to grow closer with God because of it. I learn more about the design of God's universe. It also adds a whole new level of meaning to the holy text. What I will reject though is the idea that new interpretations supersede old one's. Why can't they both exist, even in the cases where they are contradictory?

naturgesetz said...

@Planetx_123 — You seem to be saying saying that the only genuine knowledge we have is what we have through the methodologies of the natural sciences. I see no reason to accept such a restrictive and narrow-minded notion; and certainly it is not a scientific idea, but a philosophical one.

Sasha (Malchik Gai) said...

It's a rough subject to broach. In my opinion all religions are there as guidelines, not absolute fact. The "Bible" alone has over 30,000 known errors. The oldest copies of the earliest writings were hundreds of years old when they were written. They all were hand copied by scribes, from older copies copied by other scribes and so on and so on. It has been proven by textural critics that often scribes would make mistakes and also often they would "correct" an earlier text in an attempt to make it easier to understand. Or sometimes to support a personal viewpoint they themselves or the person paying for the copy held.
All of these facts, among many many others. Leads me to believe, that anyone that takes anything in those writings as absolute fact is A.)Totally ignorant of FACT or B.)A complete and utter moron that refuses to think for themselves.
Faith has many good purposes in life and the world. I have no issue with people of faith, so long as they take the books of faith as guidelines, not absolute truths. Religion was used to teach, but also it was a means to control the masses. Religious zealots are responsible for more wars and deaths than probably all other reasons combined in recorded history. I grew up with a father that is a minister so I saw a whole lot of hypocrisy first hand and maybe I'm a little bit too harsh in my judgments. Essentially we're all human. We all are capable of making mistakes. We are all capable of growth, forgiveness and inner peace. But really it's up to us to find it within ourselves. Who or whatever the creator is, I believe it is of love. So in my opinion we are all loved, the hardest part is being able to love each other with all of our flaws included.
blah, blah, blah,

Man I do go on too much.
Peace and thanks for listening, however far you got with my babble.

Peace, Love and Greenbeans to you
Sasha

naturgesetz said...

@ Sasha — "Religious zealots are responsible for more wars and deaths than probably all other reasons combined in recorded history."
People say this a lot, but I really doubt that it is true. To be sure, there were the Muslim wars of conquest and the Christian pushback in the Crusades, the Thirty Years War, and various persecutions. But when I think of the clashes of empires in classical antiquity, the barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire, the Hundred Years War between England and France, all the other dynastic wars of Europe, the European colonizations of the Americas, Africa, and parts of Asia, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, and the Gulf Wars — all of which were about control of territory — it seems to me that religion is a distant second.

"All of these facts, among many many others. Leads me to believe, that anyone that takes anything in those writings as absolute fact is A.)Totally ignorant of FACT or B.)A complete and utter moron that refuses to think for themselves."
When it comes to "absolute fact" there is very little in history that we can take as "absolute" fact, especially when it comes to discrete events such as the movements of a certain general in a certain battle. This becomes increasingly true the farther back in time we go.
I certainly agree that it would be a serious mistake to take *everything* in scripture as absolute fact, but I also think that it goes too far to say no knowledgeable, intelligent person can take "anything" in it as fact in the same way we take events recorded by secular historians of the time as facts. There was an ancient Israel; there was a Jesus who taught and was crucified; there was a Paul who preached in various parts of the Roman Empire.
And copyists' errors are not highly significant, IMO. If you take all the places where the manuscripts disagree, those disagreements do not significantly alter the overall message.

Sasha (Malchik Gai) said...

I don't recall saying the bible was completely false. I know that there are many truths written in it that we have no way of supporting. I apologize that it seems I said anything that cemented. I think when I said "ABSOLUTE TRUTH" I didn't punctuate or finish the thought properly.(Punctuation and I have always had issues with each other) I guess what I'm getting at is the fact that so many folks use it to preach against things they disagree with and hold onto those dogmas with a deathgrip. In the folks I've observed firsthand, my father and other members of my backwoods family, it is their interpretation of things or nothing at all. They advocate fighting to the death over things that are all open to interpretation. I've seen and was taught a lot of hatred for anything "different". It took me a lot of time to move past that and allow myself to try to be happy. I guess in some ways it's a battle I'm still fighting with my family and myself; so I may tend to have "kneejerk" reactions because of that. I'm dogmatic in my anti dogmatic thoughts/feelings I guess you could say. In the long run I prefer to think that the Creator, insert whatever label you are most comfortable with for him/her/it, comes from a loving place. We all have the capacity to be godlike for lack of a better wording. Just because someone's view is not your view does not mean that it's not the correct view for that person. To me you don't have to go to church/temple/mosque or any kinds of meetings of like minded people to have a good spirtual relationship with the deity/'s of your choice. When it comes down to it most, if not all, religions teach the same basic principles. Be a good person, do nice things, resist temptations that make you become someone you'd rather not, etc etc. I think you get what I'm saying. So sorry if I was inflexible in my statements earlier. If there is one thing I don't like to see myself as it's inflexible.
Peace, thanks for listening to my rambling again.

naturgesetz said...

@ Sasha — Thanks for the clarification. We don't agree about everything, but we agree that the Creator is Love, and that people can become dogmatic about things that are open to discussion and interpretation.

Mr McCabbage said...

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945): "The national government will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality. Today Christians stand at the head of our country. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit. We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press - in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past years."

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945): "At night I sit in my chamber and read the Bible. Far in the distance roars the sea. Then I lie down and think for a long time about the calm and pale man from Nazareth."

Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984): "In Germany, the Nazis first came for the Communists, and I did not speak up, for I was not a Communist. Then they came for the sick, the so-called incurables, and I did not speak up, for I was not mentally ill. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up, for I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak up, for I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak up, for I was a Protestant. And then they came for me, and by that time, no one was left to speak up."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832): "As man is, so is his God. And thus is God oft strangely odd."

Thomas Paine (1737-1809): "Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man."

Zee said...

The notation that belief in god causes violence is pretty ridiculous. Karl Marx intended communism to be an atheist institution and it destroyed the lives of millions. When the Mongols went and conquered their empire, it was hardly to spread religious beliefs. To assume that we would have no violence if we had no faith in god does no add up. Violence comes from human nature. We have two motivating factors that often come in conflict. First we have the drive for something better (be that resources, status, of sense of worth). We has have the drive to preserve what we already had. Often this world is seen as a zero sum game so somebody's drive for more interferes with another's drive for preservation. It is only natural.

@NG
I personally disagree with the idea that God IS Love. God is loving but I don't think that means he has unconditional love for us. If I was to put an abstract idea to associate with my perception of God, I would say God is Justice and Peace. God is Justice because no true justice can be served on earth. God is Peace because only within God will we ever have true Peace.

Planetx_123 said...

@zee
Did I miss someone trying to claim that without religion there is no violence? I can't imagine someone trying to claim this.

And I can't speak to all of this nonsense of god being any kind of naive human emotion (love et al--what does this even mean!?), but I can guarantee you that I am perfectly at 'peace' knowing that I have used the sum of my abilities as a human to come to logical, rational (traits shared by that which we know is of god) conclusion. A conclusion grounded in humility and without spurious emotional, selfish, and arbitrary presumptions.

At least MB knew what he was getting in to, by observation that the title includes 'Here we go!' :-)

Steve

Zee said...

@Plx_123
No but to attack religion because it "causes" violence is non-sense. Humans cause violence not religion.

Also, I don't think you understand what I was getting at. Unless you don't want or need, you not at peace. Unless you do not consume you are at war with nature. Unless you are in conflict with no person you are not at peace. Peace is not something we experience here on Earth. You say you are a man of science. Then you must want to know more and discover more. That need to obtain more knowledge means you are not at peace.

Mr McCabbage said...

Jan Christiaan Smuts (1870-1950), OM, CH, ED, KC, FRS, Field Marshal, Prime Minister: "Without Mind the universe would have harboured no passionate exaltations; no poignant regrets or bitter sorrows. Truth, beauty and goodness would have been there, but unknown, unloved. They would have been cold and passionless like the distant stars, and would never have become the great ideals thrilling and inspiring men and women to deathless action. Into that great dream-garden of Eden, Mind the disturber has entered, and with Mind sin and sorrow, faith and love, the great vision of knowledge, and the conscious effort to master all hampering conditions and to work out the great redemption. To the music of the universe there has thus been added a new note, that of laughter and tears, a new undertone of the human, which enriches all the rest. It is no longer a song of the Elder Gods, but of the intertwining of the cosmos with human destiny, of the suffering which has become consecrated and illuminated by the great visions, of the magic power of knowledge to work out new enchantments, to break the dumb routine, to set the captive spirit free, and to blaze new paths to the immortal goal. Mind has thus added an infinity of light and shade and colour, of inward character and conscious content. Without Mind the universe would have been an altogether dull affair, however unimaginably grand in other respects."

freedumluvr said...

a question: why does the universe have to be a creation? why can't it just be always in existence? if the universe needs to have a beginning, why doesn't god need a beginning? ok that's 3.

Tyler said...

personally, i've never really liked the idea of religion. i find tht idea of living your life according to some book to very opressive : /

and even more than that, i absolutetely hate the indoctrination of religion. it's illegal as it breaks one of the key freedoms of my countries constitution-- freedom of thought, and freedom of opinion


though, some religions like confusionism are of course on a different level than religions like christianity, or islam

Anonymous said...

Great post! I like your comments. Take a look at http://www.whatyoubelieve.com, some good things to think about.

Daily Dan said...

yea i dont believe in god either. never have and never will. go us!!!

billy said...

38 comments! I'd better make it 39.
I've always been an atheist, I've never seen the point of believing in a higher reality. It seems to me that we're better off putting our energy into the here and now, making our material reality better. God is a distraction to that.

I just commented on Kinderfield on my personal contact with religion. That's what getting to Melbourne meant for me.

Tombi04 said...

@Zee

It's true that 'belief in god causes violence" is an incorrect statement. However, it's when people think that their belief in god gives them the right to injure or be violent towards other people that there's a problem.

I agree with you that it's human nature that violence comes from. But it being in our nature does not make acts of violence justifiable, as I hope you'll agree. Religion has often been used in history to excuse violent acts. I don't have a problem with religion in general, but I do have a problem with it being used as an excuse for peoples actions, as it has been in events such as the crusades. I also don't think anyone should have the right to tell someone that their belief system is the only correct one, then try and suppress anyone else making similar claims about other religions.

@NG

I also disagree with the statement that there would be more deaths caused by religion than anything else. However, the number of needless deaths that are caused by religion is a massive number. What about the teenagers who kill themselves because according to everything they are raised to believe they are something wrong, sick and perverted? Or the people who are killed by others, purely because according to their beliefs it's the right thing to do?

Mr McCabbage said...

Paraphrase of John 3:16: "For God so hated humanity that he gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever does not believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life being tortured for all eternity in Hell without hope of forgiveness."

David Hume (1711-1776): "The primary religion of mankind arises chiefly from an anxious fear of future events; and what ideas will naturally be entertained of invisible, unknown powers, while men lie under dismal apprehensions of any kind, may easily be conceived. Every image of vengeance, severity, cruelty, and malice must occur, and must augment the ghastliness and horror which oppresses the amazed religionist. And no idea of perverse wickedness can be framed, which those terrified devotees do not readily, without scruple, apply to their deity."

Chuang Tzu (ca 370-301 BC): "You can't discuss the ocean with a well frog - he is confined to the limits of his hole. You can't discuss ice with a summer insect - he is bound to a single season. You can't discuss the Great Way with a cramped scholar of limited views - he is shackled by his doctrines."

Napoleon Bonaparte: "Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."

goleftatthefork said...

I'm not sure I have much to add, except to say thank you to MB for starting this discourse. The construction of my own personal belief system around creator, faith, and morality has been an interesting journey. I was raised Jewish, studied philosophy and comparative religion in college, and have somehow synthesized this into a belief system that works for me. I think every rational person should take the time to create their own understanding of the world and how they relate to it best, rather than blindly accept the teachings of others.

What shines through in some of these posts is that there are many people who have done just as I suggested. Some land right smack in the middle of an organized religion that matches their beliefs. Others land somewhere else. That's ok. It's personal, and we all have to live in our own skin.

Landyn said...

well, im not sure really if anyone here cares, or will listen to my little 2 cents here, but here it goes anyway:

I was raised in a super religious family. Church, scriptures, prayer, offerings, baptism, revelation, the whole 9 yards.

Over time, I guess from personal experience (being on the receiving end) and also witnessing it happen to others, I have found religions (THE ORGANIZATIONS) to be very hypocritical to say the least.

I believe in science. BUT, I actually do believe in God. I refuse to accept that any one religion is "the way" back to him though.

It goes against some level of feeling deep within me to deny that there is a God. Everything around me attests to the fact that there is a higher power than us, and we are very cocky to think that we just happen to understand how everything works or that through math we can figure out how everything works.

If a human body is a marvel of organic chemistry and biology fused into one self contained personage that is able to sustain itself with basic requirements AND is able to create future life, then that seems way too profound to be mere chance.

Add to that that there are over 6 billion of these marvels of nature on one planet (in addition to millions of species of different animals, insects, reptiles, etc), 8 planets in a solar system, millions of solar systems in a galaxy, millions of galaxies in the universe, and still much more to be discovered, it seems downright arrogant and stupid to think that some of these puny collections of gray matter (however incredible they are) have figured out existence as it really is.

Someone please read Angels and Demons. A lot of the things brought up in this book relate to how I feel about things in general. I strongly believe that science does not in ANY way disprove the existence of a God, but actually further strengthens that position.

@Planetx, regardless of our definition of "time", there are certain things that had to have happened for "time" to start as we know it. Based on my limited, but decent, knowledge of fundamental principles, it seems that all these things had to be started in motion by something, and I can't bring myself to accept that the "something" starting this all was simply chance.

Seriously, read Angels and Demons people, I think it's my favorite book ever because of how much I found myself agreeing with what was said in it.

I dont pretend to know God's invlovement in our everyday lives (though I wish/hope he is involved), this was just to say my opinion on if there IS a God.

I am not disproving or proving anyone's opinions on here; I am merely stating my own. I respect all views and (try) to love everyone.

<33

Planetx_123 said...

@Landyn
Just to clarify a few things:
Science is just a methodology to create models of 'reality'. These models must agree with observation, and provide some predictive ability. When things disprove them, then the models have to be refined. Thus, science does not have anything to say about 'god' in the way that god is described historically.

Also- atheism is NOT the claim that there is no god. It is just the absence of a belief in a deity. Claiming that there is no god would require evidence, which no one possesses (and vice versa).

Regarding so-called 'intelligent design': please remember that we are just a blip in a vastness that is incomprehensible. If 99 chickens independently cross the road blindly, and 98 of them are hit by cars, then the one that makes it across may incorrectly infer that it is somehow special. And regardless of how the chicken feels about it, the reality is the same: it doesn't matter-- 98 chickens died. ID offers nothing useful--except making us feel good. So it should have no place when discussing what is 'real' and 'fake'. I believe that we should be very skeptical of anything that is especially ergonomic to our naive emotions (just like used car salesmen and prostitutes).

We love to think that we are special, just as we love to masturbate--it fires neurotransmitters into synapses that cause our consciousness to 'feel' something that we have identified as pleasurable. But this process of 'emotions', while certainly useful and enjoyable, has nothing to do with reality. Our senses and emotions are notoriously poor at trustworthy communication. Eye-witnesses mis-remember things all the time. We 'fall in love' with many people every day. We eat fried food. These are all potentially damaging, completely constructions in our own minds. Thus, we have to be extra-careful when using these emotions as the basis for including theories of things as big as the creation of the universe and the nature of reality.

Lastly, you state: "it seems downright arrogant and stupid to think that some of these puny collections of gray matter...have figured out existence". I couldn't agree more. This arrogance that you speak of, however, is the arrogance of self-importance and selfishness that is preached by religions (and probably most theists). Christianity, for example, asks you to distrust the rationality and logic that permeates the universe, and instead put faith in to teachings created by men, shamelessly for men (not women or slaves, etc.). And the fact that almost every religious text shares the obvious marks of human authorship (arrogance, shameless self-importance, focus on primal emotions)- should be a huge red flag that these works are not grounded in fact at all. They are interesting, and certainly there are many lessons to be learned (and unlearned)-- like Aesops fables-- but we shouldn't rely on them as the basis for justifying our pseudo-authority to posture about the nature of god.

No- instead we should use logic, reasoning, and skepticism to discover what we can. We should stop fooling ourselves in thinking that we actually have some authority to make such claims that are so contrary to observation. I prefer humility; I prefer not to 'guess' or believe that I have some power or authority to speculate on 'god'...even as tempting as it is (given our emotional/physiological predispositions). I have to resign myself to the tools that are best suited for the jobs of deduction and discovery, and accept the fact that I (we) just don't know. Unsatisfying...yes; intellectually dishonest...no.

I'm really sorry for the long comment. And please don't take any of this as me disrespecting your right to an opinion.

Much Love,
Steve

kinkynik said...

Sasha hear, hear.

This is the very nub;
"Religion was used to teach, but also it was a means to control the masses. "

After you understand that fact the rest is just the system keeping you in your place.

Human " civilisation " needs to free itself from the Abrahamic religions. These three with their compulsions and edicts are what humanity needs to grow out of.

If the big bang was caused by imploding matter is god gravity ?

I certainly hope that the human race is not the summit of evolution in the universe. But our fellow travellers in time are not angels just born closer to galatic central point.

And you are not strange for thinking, thinking is what makes us what we are.

And it proves there is hope for the X-box generation.

Aek said...

Landyn: Hey, I actually agree with almost everything you said. And Angels & Demons is one of my favorite books. Have you seen the movie yet?

Here's my favorite quote from that book: "Science tells me God must exist. My mind tells me I will never understand God. And my heart tells me I am not meant to."

As a science major, I'm constantly amazed by nature and the universe. And it's just so elegant. It doesn't matter so much if it was due to chance or not, but simply that it IS. It's practically a miracle that things turn out the way they do at all.

Planetx_123: Science is limited through its methodology as well as the people doing the science. Science can be flawed, facts can be changed. And you've stated just as much.

Science can neither prove or disprove God, so that science should ever be used as an argument in the same breath as the existence of God is a futile one, I think.

Chance is a tricky thing, because a lot of chance has a pattern. Pascal's triangle, fractals, Fibonacci's numbers, binomial theorem, all these describe probability and chance but have some pattern to it.

Emotions, while seemingly counter to "cool" logic, has a purpose. Why do people fall in love and stick to each other? Why do adults coo over babies? Why do get angry in defense of something that means a lot to us? Evolution has bestowed emotions as an automatic response to make organisms do something right away about things. Yeah, it gets us humans in trouble nowadays cuz we're now outside our "original" environments.

While a dangerous statement, I like to think that there's meaning in something. I don't know if you are, but if not, you should acquaint yourself with some Eastern religions/philosophies. It's interesting to note just how different a world-view they take.

Mr McCabbage said...

On this website are pictures of how far we can already see into the universe. Only in the visible part there are (according to Dr Simon Driver of the Australian National University) 100 to 500 billion galaxies, with 70 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 (70 sextillion) stars - already ten times more than all the grains of sand on earth. His answer to the question, if he thinks there might be intelligent life out there? "It's inevitable."

So yes it is proper to be Agnostic, not knowing. Others can't help knowing and may be called Gnostics. The Hindu Vedas and Upanishads (1500-400 BC) state: "There is a light that shines above this heaven, above all worlds, above everything that exists in the highest realms, beyond which there is no higher. This is the same light that shines within the heart of man ... As a thousand sparks from a well-blazing fire spring forth, each one like the rest, so from the Imperishable all kinds of beings come forth, my dear, and to Him return ... As oil in sesame seeds, as butter in cream, as water in river beds, as fire in friction sticks, so is the Self grasped in one's own self when one searches for Him with truthfulness and austerity ... He who knows the fine-drawn thread of which the creatures that we see are spun, who knows the thread of that same thread - he also knows the Ultimate ... Just as the flowing rivers disappear in the ocean, casting off name and shape, even so the knower [gnostic], freed from name and shape, attains to the Primal Soul, higher than the high ... Even as water becomes one with water, fire with fire, and air with air, so the mind becomes one with the Infinite Mind and thus attains final freedom ... From Him comes the transmigration of life and liberation, bondage in time and freedom in eternity ... Verily, He is the inner Self of all beings ... May God - who, in the mystery of His vision and power, transforms His white radiance into His many-colored creation - grant us the grace of pure vision."

Useful books, IMHO:
+ A Course In Miracles, ACIM [culturally amazing that this book can exist at all.]
+ Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires - Esther & Jerry Hicks.
+ Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field - Barbara Ann Brennan [former NASA scientist].
+ The Jesus Mysteries - Timothy Freke [comprehensively researched].
+ You Can Heal Your Life - Louise Hay.

Thank you Mboy this was fun .. and I worship the great people commenting here.

Planetx_123 said...

@Mboy
I love this conversation, and I hope we aren't treading into tedium.

@Aek
I understand what you are talking about, and I think we are on the same page-- but since I am relentlessly stubborn, I wanted to clarify:

We need to agree on a definition of science. What I am terming science is probably a misnomer. I really mean the methodology of science. Is this methodology flawed, and in what way? What would be a better way to go about investigating reality? I will whole heartedly agree that scientists are flawed (as all humans are)... but this does not mean the methodology is flawed. Maybe we can hope that through evolution we can become less flawed and improve our track record. However, your statement is only supporting my argument against self-philosophized ideas.

Re 'chance': my illustration of the chickens was only to illustrate the weak anthropic principle--not to state that chance was responsible for everything. I have no knowledge of how things came about- I just have to trust a sound methodology--Intelligent Design offers nothing. If chance is the 'best' explanation to date, then sure we can tentatively say that until a more precise and accurate model is discovered.

Re 'emotions' and 'cool logic': my harsh indictment of 'emotions' was rhetoric. Certainly I recognize their utility and necessity at the present time. I see in your statement that you understand how emotions came to be (via evolutionary means), and you seem to understand that they are only heuristics for the sake of shortcutting decision making. So like all heuristics, emotions offer faster 'performance' but at the sake of accuracy. Without emotions, we would have to use a lot of our brain to make even simple decisions, and we would certainly be eaten by lions before figuring out what to do! However, we have to frame emotions in this context, so that we know what 'authority' to give them. That was my only point.

P.S. If you want to really see me squirm, you can start pressing this argument: If emotions are just approximations due to lack of 'brain performance', then what happens as we increase cognitive capacity? If we had intelligence capable of real-time, comprehensive, rational evaluation and we didn't need our primitive little emotions of 'fear' and 'jealousy' to drive us...would they just become vestigial? And eventually become useless, like our appendix? The paradox is then: should we just commit suicide (i.e. whats the point to living without some physiological motivation mechanism)? How can we separate good emotions from bad emotions-- can they even be categorized as such? This is where things get tricky...and I am less confident in my assumptions. However, for any short term, we can only hope that (a) we as individuals 'grow' and are able to emphasize rational, deliberate decision-making over knee-jerk emotional decision-making, and (b) socially we continue to 'progress' to encourage such growth.

Thanks Aek for the opportunity to continue spouting my nonsense :-)

Much Love,
Steve

Aek said...

Planetx_123:
But scientific methodology is flawed all the time . . . o_O It's completely dependent on the technology of the time, and studies can be poorly designed or well-designed.

I'm by no means arguing for intelligent design. However, I don't see how it's contradictory to say that there might be a reason for the way things develop the way they do. Even evolutionary pathways seem constricted and "ordered" to some degree.

Emotions offer "efficiency" so that "performance" can be allocated elsewhere. We already use 100% of our brains, so to increase cognitive capacity would likely mean increases in brain size. Currently, that's not feasible otherwise women would have a TERRIBLE time giving birth, and they might not be able to walk well.

Btw, the appendix isn't useless. True, it's less useful in industrialized societies. But the appendix has a function, albeit a small one. It's not ENTIRELY vestigial.

I don't think it's possible for emotions to become vestigial. You need a biological motivator, a means to drive an organism to do things. Also, there have been studies that suggest "gut instinct," or emotion, more often than not can lead to a correct answer. Think about it: if you like two scarves, and in every which way they're identical except for color, which one do you choose? The one that looks better to you. Emotion is a tie-breaker, in a sense.

Anyway, none of this has anything to do with religion or the nature of God, but that's okay. :P