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Old 03-21-2011, 10:23 AM   #196
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I actually agree with this as well, but I feel like the force of determinism is a consequence of our own choices and actions -- karma. Do to others as you've been done. I don't even think it's a choice a lot of the time -- I don't think we can help it. I'm reading a fascinating book about relationships that explores the time-honored and tested notions that so much of our dysfunction is inherited -- the sins of the father, so to speak, being passed down. The entropic nature of the universe prevails.

This is why I've never had a problem with humanity needing a Savior, because without some external change, we will never escape our darker side. The concepts of moral responsibility, as you so aptly put it, are from our conscience -- and the conscience, at least in my worldview, is the reminder from the Spirit of who we were/are supposed to be. And without an external force to introduce change, we would be left alone to contend with forces over which we have no control.

St. Paul puts it this way: we're either beholden to sin (our broken nature) or beholden to righteousness (our whole nature). And the whole story of humanity is that we can't ever really escape our brokenness on our own. It's why from the Greeks to the Romans to the present day, human drama rarely changes. If anything, God restores choice to us by presenting us with another option. He tells His people in Deuteronomy, I've set before you death and life. Choose life.
But the consequence of determinism is that choice is already determined because of the universe in which we live. A straightforward causal relationship between past and future would mean there isn't the possibility of doing anything different (such as making and acting on a different decision) and our feelings of choice are illusory. Even if you "knew" that you were meant to do a certain thing but "chose" to act differently that whole process would have been determined in advance. My attitude is that I am a robot who will engage in goal seeking behaviour because I cannot see any benefits to nihilism since even that resignation would have been determined.

Calvinists have a theology which is immune from this criticism with their concept of predestination. It may be psychologically screwy because it also contains concepts of eternal reward and punishment but at least it doesn't need to deny causality to work.
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Old 03-21-2011, 12:55 PM   #197
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I just think it's a shame that I basically have to mend my stated viewpoints based upon the crowd around me. Alas, this society and its attachment to religion have created a huge social stigma against agnosticism and atheism, one that even a family in the northeastern United States in 2011 cannot attempt to avoid.
I was more fortunate than you were.

I grew up in a religious family (spending many, many hours a week in church). My mother still has very strong religious beliefs and my father is religious in the abstract at least (as best as I can tell, a theistic evolutionist), but I was able to walk away from the family religion with no drama or no recriminations. I still correspond with my first minister and played chess (badly) with another minister while having friendly nonbeliever/believer conversations. I took away an appreciation of the Bible as a work of literature. I experienced no stigma.

I didn't argue or didn't press a point. I didn't try to prove I was right and they were wrong. I respect their faith. I just don't participate in it.

We occasionally discuss religion and leave it at "I came from apes (translation: an ancestor common to apes and man which does not have the same zing as a slogan) and Mom did not". It works.

I can't tell you I don't vacillate back toward flirting with faith now and again when I am feeling vulnerable or helpless and everything seems out of my control because for some reason or other, it gives me a temporary feeling of control. I haven't lost all my superstitions. What you learn as a child does stay with you. But I am a results person. Do I see a tangible return in the here and now beyond that momentary comfort? Do I see a god that is fair and just or just a bunch of people saying he is? While I will experiment with anything, ultimately I only believe what I see when it comes to faith.

I walked away from the faith. I never walked away from the people who had faith.
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Old 03-21-2011, 01:10 PM   #198
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I walked away from the faith. I never walked away from the people who had faith.
And that's probably the best summary as to why I can't. I simply can't walk away from the faith and not walk away from my family as well. And I appreciate them much more than I appreciate the intellectual and personal satisfaction I get from being public about my religious views.
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Old 03-21-2011, 01:16 PM   #199
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just want to say that this is a thread that i didn't think FYM was capable of anymore. we have an enormous variety of viewpoints, and points are being made respectfully and thoroughly engaged with one another. there are a few separate conversations, but on the whole, it's remarkably coherent, and i really have to commend both 80s and Nathan for giving an intellectual heft to the POV of the "believer" (for lack of a more specific word) which so often in common discourse is lacking precisely that.

i really don't have that much to add beyond that, other than this tidbit i found on another website, which furthers my own "belief" (ha!) that what appears to be the best expression of the relationship between humankind and whatever is "out there" may just be Buddhism:

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Despite my doubts, neurology and neuroscience do not appear to profoundly contradict Buddhist thought. Neuroscience tells us the thing we take as our unified mind is an illusion, that our mind is not unified and can barely be said to “exist” at all. Our feeling of unity and control is a post-hoc confabulation and is easily fractured into separate parts. As revealed by scientific inquiry, what we call a mind (or a self, or a soul) is actually something that changes so much and is so uncertain that our pre-scientific language struggles to find meaning.

Buddhists say pretty much the same thing. They believe in an impermanent and illusory self made of shifting parts. They’ve even come up with language to address the problem between perception and belief. Their word for self is anatta, which is usually translated as ‘non self.’ One might try to refer to the self, but the word cleverly reminds one’s self that there is no such thing.

Buddhism and the Brain � SEEDMAGAZINE.COM

oh, and finally, since, sadly, it seems that Christianity can't come up without the requisite gay bashing, i should say that i'm a big gay. also, i didn't choose to be gay. abusing my sexuality would have been to stay in the closet and either live a loveless life, or, worse, attempt to be straight and wind up abusing a potential wife and family. the only way to NOT abuse your sexuality as a homosexual is to be out and live with dignity knowing that you and your sexuality are beautiful and precious and messy and troublesome as any heterosexual's. for that reason alone, i am certain that we need to trust our own experiences and intuitions far more than whatever "inerrant" book that has been endlessly translated and only mention homosexuality (and not a contemporary understanding of homosexuality) 6 -- 6!!! -- times.

seriously. if i were a Christian, i'd be kind of pissed that so many people are letting something that's only mentioned 6 times become it's defining characteristic, at least in a political sense.
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Old 03-21-2011, 01:26 PM   #200
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So you chose to be straight? How old were you?

Have you actually read Leviticus, or just one passage? I hope you've never touched a football or eaten pork...
Yes, I've read the entire book of Leviticus. Why would I recommend someone to read it if I hadn't myself?

We're all going to make 'mistakes' to sum it all up.
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Old 03-21-2011, 01:28 PM   #201
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And that's probably the best summary as to why I can't. I simply can't walk away from the faith and not walk away from my family as well.
I sympathize with that. I had the luxury not to risk that kind of loss.
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Old 03-21-2011, 01:45 PM   #202
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We're all going to make 'mistakes' to sum it all up.

so long term, loving gay relationships that have endured despite decades of discrimination are mistakes?
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Old 03-21-2011, 02:10 PM   #203
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Yes, I've read the entire book of Leviticus. Why would I recommend someone to read it if I hadn't myself?

We're all going to make 'mistakes' to sum it all up.
So you hate gay people because somebody didn't like them 1500 years ago and wrote it down. Got it.
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Old 03-21-2011, 02:16 PM   #204
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Yes, I've read the entire book of Leviticus. Why would I recommend someone to read it if I hadn't myself?
Well you don't seem to understand it...
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Old 03-21-2011, 02:41 PM   #205
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so long term, loving gay relationships that have endured despite decades of discrimination are mistakes?
No.

And, if we're being intellectually honest, the kind of homosexuality that was discussed in the Scriptures is different than a loving, long-term, committed relationship. The kind of homosexuality condemned in the Old Testament had to do with purity laws. The kind of homosexuality condemned in the New Testament had to do with promiscuity and temple prostitution.

Of a truth, there are a lot of whores out there today -- straight and gay -- and I don't think God smiles on either. But my hat's off to anyone -- gay or straight -- willing to embrace monogamy in an age where people seem to be increasingly anything but.
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Old 03-21-2011, 02:45 PM   #206
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seriously. if i were a Christian, i'd be kind of pissed that so many people are letting something that's only mentioned 6 times become it's defining characteristic, at least in a political sense.
Ten years ago my dad forwarded me a rewrite of the parable of the Good Samaritan. (For those of you having trouble remembering the original parable, it can be found in Luke 10:25-37.) In it, the roles had been recast. The first person to pass the beaten man by was a megachurch pastor. The second, a devout Sunday School teacher. The Samaritan who stopped and helped was a gay man. It's a rewrite I've never forgotten.
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Old 03-21-2011, 02:55 PM   #207
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But the consequence of determinism is that choice is already determined because of the universe in which we live.
Change the universe, however, and you can change the choice. Which is kind of what Jesus came to do. Even the devil seemed surprised by Jesus, who did not subscribe to humanity's general governing dynamics of greed and fear. He offered Jesus the whole world in exchange for worship -- Jesus passed, and chose to die for the whole world instead. He chose love and sacrifice rather than pride and power. It was a strange choice then, it's a just as strange now, but I'd rather give myself to the pursuit of that than to settle for things as they are.
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Old 03-21-2011, 03:02 PM   #208
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And, if we're being intellectually honest, the kind of homosexuality that was discussed in the Scriptures is different than a loving, long-term, committed relationship.


were Melon here, i'm sure he'd make the contention that the scriptures aren't even discussing homosexuality at all.

i do wonder, though, from this particular Christian perspective, if God would "smile" on someone who was out having fun, commitment-free sex with partners who were looking for and expecting the same. such sex was consensual, safe, enjoyable, and with no expectations other than the act itself. is such a thing an abuse of sexuality? am genuinely curious. we've accepted the notion that sex is for far more than procreation, almost no one has intended procreative sex more than 2 or 3 times in their entire life, would this more expansive view of the role of sexuality in our lives not encompass a variety of relationships, whether long-term or one night? if the operative word is "do no harm" (to one's self or others), then must there be many acceptable expressions of sexuality?
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Old 03-21-2011, 03:13 PM   #209
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i do wonder, though, from this particular Christian perspective, if God would "smile" on someone who was out having fun, commitment-free sex with partners who were looking for and expecting the same. such sex was consensual, safe, enjoyable, and with no expectations other than the act itself. is such a thing an abuse of sexuality? am genuinely curious. we've accepted the notion that sex is for far more than procreation, almost no one has intended procreative sex more than 2 or 3 times in their entire life, would this more expansive view of the role of sexuality in our lives not encompass a variety of relationships, whether long-term or one night? if the operative word is "do no harm" (to one's self or others), then must there be many acceptable expressions of sexuality?
This is probably a subject for a different thread, but given that (Scripturally-speaking) sex was intended to seal a covenant relationship between two people, I'm pretty sure "fun, committment-free sex" isn't a part of the plan.

Regardless of whether you agree with a Biblical framework for sexuality, the real world is littered with the pain of plenty of people who thought they could have such a thing and wound up wounded. The scars of trying to live without consequences are carried by many.

And I'm pretty sure that, like eating at McDonald's, smoking cigarettes, or dumping toxic waste in the ground, we have no clue about the harm we do to ourselves. But it's often much worse than we think.
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Old 03-21-2011, 04:32 PM   #210
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This is probably a subject for a different thread, but given that (Scripturally-speaking) sex was intended to seal a covenant relationship between two people, I'm pretty sure "fun, committment-free sex" isn't a part of the plan.
there's lots of "fun" sex that goes on in committed relationships, 99% of it is for fun, really, as well as bonding, etc. how is, say, oral sex or any other non-penis-in-vagina-during-ovulation sex anything else? do these activities serve to make the "covenant" stronger?


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Regardless of whether you agree with a Biblical framework for sexuality, the real world is littered with the pain of plenty of people who thought they could have such a thing and wound up wounded. The scars of trying to live without consequences are carried by many.
yes, but isn't this up to the individual to understand and define? i do get the sense that your view is that if sex happens outside of said covenant, then it must by definition be harmful in some way. i don't think that fits into most people's real world experiences. i think sex is a complex thing, and to pathologize anything that falls outside of a proscribed ideal framework creates more problems than it solves.

this is an off-line discussion, though, i agree.
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