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Old 03-15-2011, 10:50 PM   #76
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The reality is that no one knows for a fact what happens after death so everything is speculation. All we have to convince others is scientific experiments that can be replicated. Even science can only tell us how but not why.

Life is a mystery. We don't scientifically know why the universe exists and we certainly don't have experiences of people coming back to life other than faith based "evidence".

Why are there so many different religions based on cultural conditioning? That by itself puts a lie that there is only one true religion. If I'm born in a religious cult in some compound it's not entirely my fault I would be so influenced. Should I go to hell for being born in the wrong religion? Anyways people only feel guilty precisely because they are not following the religion of their culture. Move to another culture and the pressure will be for a different religion.

To me psycho dictators would have to relive their damage they created to achieve justice but not for eternal punishment precisely because that would be worse than what they did.

The dualistic nature of soul and body is part of the problem. We are made of stuff that comes from the planet and stars and we go back to it. We feel separate from earth (due to competition for life) but we are so interdependent on it. This feeling is because we like to make self-concepts and like most concepts they can be so reductive that we lose too much information in creating them.

Can I think of anything more dualistic than:

"I don't believe the devil, I don't believe his book but the truth is not the same without the lies he made up." ?

I'll stay agnostic simply because atheism still doesn't explain enough and I would have to have faith in what it can't explain. I just leave the question open. If people use religion to develop some philosophy in life I would prefer that to short-term animalistic impulses. Those people who can develop as good a moral system on their own shouldn't feel guilty if they follow pretty basic golden rule precepts and try to learn from their mistakes.
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:35 PM   #77
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The reality is that no one knows for a fact what happens after death so everything is speculation.


some people in here clearly think that they do know for a fact what happens after death.
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:01 AM   #78
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This Christian is closer to LDS Theology and is getting beat up by the Evangelicals for it:

YouTube - LOVE WINS - Rob Bell
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:12 AM   #79
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This Christian is closer to LDS Theology and is getting beat up by the Evangelicals for it:
A lot of controversy surrounding this book, and it's still two weeks away from being released.

I like a lot of Rob Bell's stuff -- he's curious and thoughtful and thought-provoking. Anyone who's curious about Christianity would do well to read Rob's "Velvet Elvis" and Brian McLaren's "A New Kind of Christian." Two very compelling books. I also enjoy Donald Miller quite a bit -- "Blue Like Jazz" is great.
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:17 AM   #80
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some people in here clearly think that they do know for a fact what happens after death.
I personally think that wanting a hell and to believe you are going to heaven appeals to the "I'm so special" thought that gives people warm and fuzzy feelings. Then if you add a community of people who also believe that you will go there too the elation would increase even more and reinforce your belief.

Just imagine as best you can that you feel you KNOW you're going to heaven. What chemicals would your brain release?

Of course it's shown that religious people have less stress because they have coping mechanisms and you can see the value it would have for people.
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Old 03-16-2011, 10:40 AM   #81
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Of course it's shown that religious people have less stress because they have coping mechanisms and you can see the value it would have for people.

in the end, i think that faith is its own reward. there are clearly enormous benefits to having faith and i think if one chooses to have faith, more power to you. just be humble, and aware that there's a great big world out there that's more complex, and more beautiful, than we ever imagined.
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:47 PM   #82
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I personally think that wanting a hell and to believe you are going to heaven appeals to the "I'm so special" thought that gives people warm and fuzzy feelings. Then if you add a community of people who also believe that you will go there too the elation would increase even more and reinforce your belief.
I said I was never going to argue in Free Your Mind again, and I won't. But this is a very important subject to me, so I wanted to input.

The Christians I know do not feel "special" because we believe we are going to Heaven. We feel grateful, because we know that it was Christ's death on the cross that provides the tickets, not our own works. But then again, none of us are Calvinists; none of us believe that God predestines some people to Heaven and some to Hell.

Also, we do not "want" there to be a hell. We believe there is a hell, but it grieves us to think of anyone going there.

But hell is not a place that God "sends" anyone to. According to the Bible, in fact, hell was created not for man, but for "the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). However, people will go there who are not forgiven because their spirit is sinful, not clean. Sinful spirits cannot live in Heaven because light and darkness cannot abide together, and God cannot abide in the presence of sin. To have a clean spirit, one must be "born again", as Jesus said to Nicodemus. How to be born again? As Jesus said "believe upon him whom the Father hath sent".

But having that understanding doesn't make me feel better about people going to hell.

Please allow me to reveal some personal history. I myself am well off compared to many parts of the world. I have a roof over my head, am relatively healthy, and I have never gone a day without food in my belly (except for a 1 day fast, which I will never purposely do again, ha ha), But I am a very sensitive person toward other people who do go through those things, and about 4 years ago, I went through a long period of severe depression over things like that which I cannot control. A large part of my depression was the idea of hell, and that no matter how many people I told about Christ, I can't force anyone to accept him. People have free will, and that bothered me. I was severely depressed. I remember times when I stood in the shower falling to my knees and weeping my heart out, feeling as if my tears outnumbered the drops of water.

During this time period, I prayed to God, cried out to him for understanding of hell and reconciling it with the "God Is Love" exclamation of the Book Of John. I studied the subject thoroughly, hoping for evidence that the scriptures have been mistranslated and that spirits who have not been forgiven will just cease to exist when the body dies. I wanted there to be no hell. But I also wanted to find truth, no matter what it was. Sadly, I must report that I didn't find the evidence I sought, and therefore I conclude that hell does exist.

However, James 1:5 says "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking". I believe that God has answered my prayers starting 3.5 years years ago and has been giving me the wisdom I sought.

But what happened to me? Am I still as depreseed over the issue of hell as I was?

I have a vivid recollection of one particular night that started my healing in that area. I lay in bed one night, thinking and worrying over hell. I remember specifically thinking "If I were God, I would zap one last revelation into people's conscious the split second before they died, maybe a visitation from Christ saying "I am the Savior, as you have heard. Put your faith in me, before it's too late." As soon as that thought was thought, I remember another though, that I attribute to God: "Don't you think I love the lost even more than you do? I gave you the love you have for them. Don't you think I do everything possible to convince them of my love for them?"

At that moment, I felt peace wash over me, like a tidal wave. In the days, weeks, months, years that have followed, I believe God has granted me the following truths about hell. Note that none of these are "special exclusive revelations". Support for all of these can be found in the Bible.

(1) That God is perfectly able to deliver such death bed revelations to people. I believe he does. I do not necessarily believe he does to people who have spent their entire life actively rejecting the Gospel. But if he does, that's A-OK with me!

(2) When it comes to presenting the Gospel to people, God is not dependent on me nor is he limited by my human methods. God works in mysterious ways of which I don't understand. He is able to get the message out to those who grew up heavily influenced by other religions and belief systems. And he doesn't need my voice or the voice of anyone else to deliver that message. He doesn't leave anyone without ample opportunity. He loves us all and wants us all to come to him. 2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

(3) God leaves no stone unturned in saving people from the hell that an unclean/sinful spirit brings.

(4) And here's one that some Christians might not agree with. Because the Bible says that "he who seeks the truth will find it", I believe that anyone who is truly interested in God's will, righteousness (for righteousness' own sake, not ulterior motives) will indeed find Christ, and therefore, having that tender heart will put their faith in him and be saved.

There you have it, my input. I won't argue these points, as there is no possibility that I will change, believing that study of scripture and the revelation of God has given them to me.
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Old 03-16-2011, 01:27 PM   #83
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I'll stay agnostic simply because atheism still doesn't explain enough and I would have to have faith in what it can't explain. I just leave the question open. If people use religion to develop some philosophy in life I would prefer that to short-term animalistic impulses. Those people who can develop as good a moral system on their own shouldn't feel guilty if they follow pretty basic golden rule precepts and try to learn from their mistakes.
Aren't you just hedging your bets though? I wasn't aware that atheism is supposed to explain anything, that's what science is for. I'm an atheist because science has not proven a God to exist....yet. And for some that may be reason enough to be Agnostic. My personality isn't one to sit on the fence though. I'm more in the moment, and truthfully in this moment no God has been proven to exist. Maybe tomorrow, maybe 100 years from now that's true, but right now, He/She/It does not, so I'm Atheist.

You're right though, science doesn't really tell us WHY, more a how. I think with enough evidence, experiement, and observation we can all come to a pretty good conclusion as to the WHY. And human nature will always twist the WHY to fit their own social needs.

I'm sure I've come off a bit rude in this topic, and I do apologize if that's rubbed people the wrong way. I suppose it's natural to come off that way though considering the topic. You have many different sides and opinions, and when your opinion is felt to be 100% correct, can't help but be a bit argumentive or rude.
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Old 03-16-2011, 01:57 PM   #84
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Great post 80su2isbest.

I truly hope you are right that God does deliver death bed revelations. Is there any scripture to support this though?

I have been thinking a lot about Christopher Hitchens lately. I don't agree with some of his views but he is such a brilliant mind and it's awful that he is dying quite young. He considers the Christian version of Heaven to sound like a celestial sort of North Korea I hope he softens his opinions on that.

This may be a naive sort of question but why is it that God can't forgive everyone?
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:10 PM   #85
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I'm more in the moment, and truthfully in this moment no God has been proven to exist.
I feel like it's important to qualify this by saying that this is your experience. There are smart, learned, empathetic, intuitive people who have had enough experience (answered prayers, supernatural visions, etc.) to prove that God does indeed exist. I think maycocksean's reply to your earlier post was a good summation of the feelings of a lot of people on the subject.
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:27 PM   #86
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Great post 80su2isbest.
Thanks, but since I believe these are God's thoughts as expressed through me, I give him the glory.

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I truly hope you are right that God does deliver death bed revelations. Is there any scripture to support this though?
While I know of no scriptures that explicitly address "death bed conversions", we do have an example of a "just in time" conversion, the thief on the cross who had lived his entire life as a bad dude, but got his ticket into Heaven just shortly before he died.

Also, I know of real life experiences. There was this fellow who drowned. Right before he died, he cried out to God in his mind "save me!", and God brought to his mind the prayer that his grandmother used to pray over him as a child. He accepted the Lord in that moment. He "died" (the near death thing), but was brought back to life and told of what happened to him.

I'm not saying that I know that God does this for everyone. But then again, I'm not saying he doesn't. He is God and can do anything he wants. 2 Peter says that "God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance". And like he told me "Don't you think I love the lost even more than you do? I gave you that love."

That's why i think he does those things.
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:28 PM   #87
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To perfectly qualify: "proves to them".
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:39 PM   #88
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Hitchens doesn't say that 'heaven' is like North Korea, specificaly. One of his (many) lines of argument against Christianity is that it's totalitarian. That the whole thing is like a "divine North Korea." He's an anti-theist, not an atheist. An atheist simply believes its not real, but they might still quite like the idea, wish it were real, just don't think it adds up for whatever reason. An anti-theist believes it is not real, but also wrong. Glad that it isn't real. And Hitchens argues that Religion/Christianity is both (a) bullshit, and (b) evil.

He uses the 'North Korea' riff a lot, paraphrasing it, it's something like: You are created sick, and then commanded to be well. Under continuous surveillance for not just your entire waking life, but your entire sleeping life too, where you can be convicted of thought crime. You're a slave in a ghastly experiment, overseen by a divine dictatorship, who commands you offer your continual praise. A celestial North Korea. And then often adds a line about how at least in North Korea, they're done with you once your dead.
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:41 PM   #89
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I feel like it's important to qualify this by saying that this is your experience. There are smart, learned, empathetic, intuitive people who have had enough experience (answered prayers, supernatural visions, etc.) to prove that God does indeed exist.
Well, as Vincent said, prove to themselves, maybe. I think the very nature of humanity's relationship to God necessitates that we can't prove he exists in the concrete sense.
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:45 PM   #90
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Aren't you just hedging your bets though? I wasn't aware that atheism is supposed to explain anything, that's what science is for. I'm an atheist because science has not proven a God to exist....yet. And for some that may be reason enough to be Agnostic. My personality isn't one to sit on the fence though. I'm more in the moment, and truthfully in this moment no God has been proven to exist. Maybe tomorrow, maybe 100 years from now that's true, but right now, He/She/It does not, so I'm Atheist.

You're right though, science doesn't really tell us WHY, more a how. I think with enough evidence, experiement, and observation we can all come to a pretty good conclusion as to the WHY. And human nature will always twist the WHY to fit their own social needs.

I'm sure I've come off a bit rude in this topic, and I do apologize if that's rubbed people the wrong way. I suppose it's natural to come off that way though considering the topic. You have many different sides and opinions, and when your opinion is felt to be 100% correct, can't help but be a bit argumentive or rude.
The reason I'm agnostic is because many atheists state "there is no God" but that to me is just faith. Also because I believe that (not you necessarily) many athiests are really assholes who act just as arrogant about their beliefs as religious people do. Also I love many philosphies around the world so I don't want to stick with just Science. I feel that humans specialize in different areas and as soon as they leave their specialities you can tell by their mistakes. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is my argument against many atheists. I developed more equanimity with Buddhist meditation than any science. I learned so much from Buddhism that improved my life I could never ridicule them despite their unscientific assertions about past lives and future lives or some stubborn belief in pacifism. Their Karma can be replaced with scientific cause and effect quite easily. Yet when it comes to meditation they are the best and even to the point where other religions borrow from them and amalgamate their procedures to their own. There are even Buddhist Psychologists. On the pro-side of atheists/agnostics I've learned even more meditation procedures to make life even better and had it explained in a more plain way to see what I'm actually doing. Mindfulness practice is like a refined version of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. For myself I learned that most negative emotions come from playing around with your self-image in your head and as you practice feeling how you feel in your skin and stay in the present moment, that all stops. As you atrophy the use of the conceptual self and use concepts that are actually useful you tend to feel better and better. When I go to a job interview and I have butterflies in my stomach I just note with my awareness like a scientist what anxiety actually feels like and manifests in the body sensations and just accepting that reduces anxiety enormously and your equanimity increases. "Oh butterflies in the stomach. Ok, fair enough. So what's happening next in this moment?" Now you have to do this when unpleasant occurances happen to develop equanimity but without some of the wisdom teachings of different religions and philosophies I would be totally lost.

I believe we should learn from as many disciplines as we can and take the best of them. For example, the Jewish tradition has the concept of Teshuvah. If you want atonement you can do a ceremony but it doesn't take affect until you are tempted by the same bad habits/choices that got you into trouble and you instead choose the right path. Then you are atoned. I don't need to be Jewish to learn this myself but I don't care what the source of philosophy or morality comes from.

For Christianity they are good at developing equanimity with "concepts" by having people feel that Christ loves you even if no one else does. That can create enormous equanimity. Of course you have to believe that that is absolute reality for it to work and that's why strong belief is encouraged.

Atheists have the advantage of not having to be manipulated by religious groups and they don't have to follow bad dogma but if they throw out the baby with the bathwather and don't learn about the diamonds in the rough in religions and old philosophies they can really miss out.

I hope everyone regardless of faith explore as many other belief systems and take what works. You shouldn't be punished for that and the fruit of good should be obvious enough that humans can see the results for themselves.
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