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Old 03-16-2011, 02:45 PM   #91
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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.
This. I was just coming in to post this.
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:48 PM   #92
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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. I think maycocksean's reply to your earlier post was a good summation of the feelings of a lot of people on the subject.
So we have proof of answered prayers or supernatural visions? Good things or bad things happen to everyone, regardless of asking for a blessing or for it to happen. And that would beg the question why are some prayers answered and others not? That would show some favortism.

And for supernatural visions, while there's been documented cases of such, they haven't been scientifically proven, and therefore more research or experimentation is needed to provide a clear answer.

Since there is no clear answer for the above, that doesn't mean GOD is the answer. Sometimes there are gaps with no answer, and it's just human nature to associate a higher power to fill in those gaps. Also, those two things you mention are just opinions. People can have those, but they can't have their own facts. I can say that I can walk on water, but unless I actually prove it, just my opinion.

And I'm not saying that people who believe are not logical, smart, etc....even if it's coming across that way. I work with many people who are some of the smartest men/women (and throw in kind and loving) I know. when it comes to their job, they make clear rational decisions, they don't leave things up to fate or faith, cause that wouldn't cut it with their boss. Just like you'd hope that when you go in for a operation, the doctors are going off of their medical schooling and actual experiences, not trying something out on you as a guess or matter of faith.

My parents believe in heaven/hell/god, and i strongly disagree with them, and I share my thoughts and they do the same....but that doesn't mean I think less of them. .

So while there are rational, thoughtful people who are relgious, I just feel it's confusing to me that when it comes to something as the afterlife, those same qualities are excused or removed from the conversation.
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Old 03-16-2011, 03:08 PM   #93
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So we have proof of answered prayers or supernatural visions? Good things or bad things happen to everyone, regardless of asking for a blessing or for it to happen.
You might find interesting my story of a supernatural occurrence that at the least, prevented serious injury, and at most, saved my life. If you'd like, I can post it here.

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And that would beg the question why are some prayers answered and others not? That would show some favortism.
I've been a Christian for 31 years. Many times I have asked why God answers some prayers, but not others.

But now I think I was asking the wrong question. Now my question is "why do I assume he doesn't answer all prayers"?

Would someone who has no interest in God at all even hear God if God spoke to him?

But that question's not just limited to those who show no interest in God. Even those of us who want God's will in our lives, if we lose focus, aren't we less likely to hear what he's saying?

The "supernatural event" I alluded to above deals with God telling me to do something unusual ,specifically stated in order to avoid something bad that would happen if I didn't. I obeyed, did the unusual thing and avoided the bad thing. I saw the bad thing happen right in front of my eyes, but no one was hurt, because I obeyed.

In 1989 my brother, a man of strong faith, was killed in a car accident. Did God value me more than my brother? No no no. But then, why didn't God tell him something that would cause him to avoid the car accident? I don't know that he didn't tell him something. I don't know what happened, because my brother died. I have no idea if God told him something but that my brother dismissed it thinking it was just his own silly thought, or that he was being paranoid. Maybe my brother would be alive today if he had realized that it was indeed God telling him to have another donut that morning, or God telling him that maybe he should go another way that day.

But I will ask him when I see him again some day.

One thing I've really learned in the last several years, since I've been away from FYM, is that I just can't put God in a box. He can and does do things I never could imagine.

In fact, that's one of the many reasons I don't argue politics or morality anymore. God is so much bigger than politics and morality, and he works in ways I couldn't imagine possible. That's not to say I don't believe in specific "right and wrong way" anymore but God's love is so much more important and mysterious than all that. And I'm not about to tell anyone that I think he's bein "immoral". Good grief, if God judged me based on good works or morality, I wouldn't be able to step 5,000 miles within his presence. God's love for sinners (all of us) is my focus when I share the Gospel.
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Old 03-16-2011, 04:46 PM   #94
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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.
In the words of John Lennox who has debated Hitchen's a few times, 'In the same way I could describe marriage as a terrible thing, there is a woman who is in my house and she watches all that I do and she sees everything I do and I could write off marriage for that reason but if I were to write it off I would be writing off all the wonderful things it brings like security, care, affection, love and trust.'
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Old 03-16-2011, 04:52 PM   #95
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This Christian is closer to LDS Theology

YouTube - LOVE WINS - Rob Bell
You mean he's chillin' with Joseph Smith, Jr. and a truckload of womens?
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Old 03-16-2011, 05:24 PM   #96
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In 1989 my brother, a man of strong faith, was killed in a car accident. Did God value me more than my brother? No no no. But then, why didn't God tell him something that would cause him to avoid the car accident? I don't know that he didn't tell him something. I don't know what happened, because my brother died. I have no idea if God told him something but that my brother dismissed it thinking it was just his own silly thought, or that he was being paranoid. Maybe my brother would be alive today if he had realized that it was indeed God telling him to have another donut that morning, or God telling him that maybe he should go another way that day.


as someone who has recently lost someone very close to him in a car accident, i find the idea that the person died because they didn't "listen" to god almost unspeakably offensive.

so you've had a near miss. you can also retroactively explain this to yourself through the prism of your faith. that does not in any way objectively prove any sort of supernatural interference. that's your projection upon the events of life. if that helps you to understand the world, if that helps you to sleep better at night believing that a loving God is interested in you, more power to you. but, please, don't for a second think that things like car accidents, cancer, earthquakes, tsunamis, or any other myriad awful things that can befall delicate creatures such as ourselves are meted out by an arbitrary and childish god who requires submission and groveling in order to get some kind of cosmic Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card.

i know you didn't come here to argue, and i don't mean to sound harsh, but these things are still very raw to me, and i can't not respond.
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Old 03-16-2011, 06:28 PM   #97
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please, don't for a second think that things like car accidents, cancer, earthquakes, tsunamis, or any other myriad awful things that can befall delicate creatures such as ourselves are meted out by an arbitrary and childish god who requires submission and groveling in order to get some kind of cosmic Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card.
I would be surprised if that's what 80s was saying. If that was indeed what was meant, I have a difficult time agreeing with that as well.

And I'm very, very sorry for your loss, Irvine.
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Old 03-16-2011, 06:33 PM   #98
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I think Hell exists already here on earth-in many different forms. What happens after that, I have no idea. I don't live my life to get to Heaven or Hell, but more to avoid the hells here on earth as much as possible-and because I just prefer to live the way that I do.
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Old 03-16-2011, 06:54 PM   #99
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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.
.
I don't think you're coming off as 'rude' just perhaps 'typical' of a 'Decider'. You believe you've exhausted the limits of the intellectual pursuit...which to me, is unfortunate. Especially when these 'Decider' types preach sound/logical skepticism and scientific method. Agnosticism is indeed (ALSO) a position reached after life-long pursuits...not just throwing up your hands in the air and shrugging...or "hedging your bets".

This isn't a 'salvation game' to me. That is all man-made dogmatic religious poo. This is supposed to be an intellectual search for TRUTH. You spoke about logic, reason, science, etc. How about we actually use it as a search for truth? It doesn't take any "faith" at all to be atheist- as purpleoscar is erroneously suggesting - but in order to be an atheist, you have to have made a decision about something that is (thus far) completely unknowable. This is the crux of MY issue. Those that are so sure - that they've arrived at a decision that doesn't have to be made - if only to say they are done looking until further notice.

There is just SO MUCH that we do not know and couldn't hope to know at this time in our current scientific standing. And so many atheists (vast majority) - only see ideas about God/creation, etc. through man-made religious lenses. And this is what turns most atheists into atheists, believing they need to CONTRAST that ridiculous religion they were raised on - or any other man-made notion. Some people just don't like saying "I don't know', so they have to 'decide'. Fair enough - I get it, I just don't think that way.

I think the proper intellectual position is precisely to be on the fence. A position that Albert Einstein and many others agreed with. Think about it - can you PROVE it either way?No. So why have you made up your mind?

Because again - in my view - so many of you only see these MASSIVE ideas about God and creation - in this fairytale sense about religious dogma. This is why I believe - although I enjoy Hitchens and others - the "anti-theist" movement is the most anti-intellectual group of bona fide intellectuals I've ever heard in my life. That God would have to fit these certain boundaries - or more pointedly that the only way to defeat 'God' in the public square - is to hold up the God of man-made religion and knock over that 'strawman'. Ridiculous. Religion is indeed a sham - but that doesn't mean that atheism has to be the only alternative at this moment. That's all I'm saying.

Why do we even ask the question? Outside of curiosity, most of us - at some point - will find ourselves 'lost' in our own lives. And how does someone that is 'lost' in their own life, eventually find themselves? They stop looking.

I guess I'm one of those people that will never stop looking.
Because I'm not convinced we know the truth or that we will ever know the truth. And that's fine by me. I don't need to decide. I can live by the 'golden rule' and treat others as I'd expect/hope to be treated. If that's not good enough for a 'God', then oh well...and if there never was a God, then oh well.
In any case, we are responsible for whatever we do. So let's be good to one another regardless. In the meantime, some of you need to stop trying to sell some of us that you've figured it all out. You haven't...you couldn't have figured it out.
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:30 PM   #100
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as someone who has recently lost someone very close to him in a car accident, i find the idea that the person died because they didn't "listen" to god almost unspeakably offensive.
Rest assured, I'm not blaming anyone's on death on "not hearing God". My brother died because of a freak accident. That's all.

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but, please, don't for a second think that things like car accidents, cancer, earthquakes, tsunamis, or any other myriad awful things that can befall delicate creatures such as ourselves are meted out by an arbitrary and childish god who requires submission and groveling in order to get some kind of cosmic Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card.
I don't for a second think that. That is not my view of God at all. In fact, I was saying the opposite; that maybe God answers all prayers, not favoring anyone. As Bono says "Blessings aren't just for those who kneel".
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:31 PM   #101
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I would be surprised if that's what 80s was saying.
Thanks, and you're right. That's not what I was saying.
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:44 PM   #102
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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.
I don't think many people really choose to have faith (or not). Doctrine is certainly a choice, something one arrives at by reasoning (albeit none too thoroughly in some cases). But the bare fact of belief, disbelief, or keen uncertainty as to whether there's something greater than us and our reality out there--generally, I think that just is what it is. And it might be that convictions about the afterlife work the same way--it's hard for me to judge, because for as long as I can remember I've never really felt anything one way or another about the prospect; I only know that when I try to reason it through, I run into unbridgeable gaps, mostly having to do with doubts about whether the subjective self actually endures beyond or points to anything beyond the brain. (I realize you could raise similar doubts about apprehensions of God...that's why faith and reason are different, and why I don't have any problem saying, Yes, I believe, but I also accept I could be wrong.) At any rate, I'm quite certain faith itself is rarely voluntary. As I've mentioned before, I tried quite hard to 'become' an atheist for a few years as a young adult (certainly would've made my vain little private Bildungsroman, in which yours truly uncovers the truths of life, the universe et al. through a grand synthesis of the world's wisdom traditions, much easier going). But it didn't work, I couldn't shake my sense of experience of God. And once I accepted that, it further occurred to me that I'd never really looked to religion (and here I mean religion, the social and cultural institution, not faith Yes-or-No) to explain the mysteries of the universe, anyway--I like ethical monotheism's insistence on social justice, I like the vision of tikkun olam, healing a broken world together; the tradition is vast and diverse enough that I couldn't nail myself to some 'definitive' list of precepts even if I wanted to, I can remain a student forever. And that was really so freeing to come to that realization.
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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?"
In 19th-century Eastern Europe, there was a major Jewish reform and revival movement inspired by the work of a rabbi and fierce advocate for the poor named Israel Salanter. He isn't much remembered for his eloquence, but one saying of his which did became very famous was, Worry about another man's body and your own soul, not another man's soul and your own body. I'll skip the context for brevity's sake, but he didn't mean by that: Shut up about your faith and just do good works. He meant that we don't heal suffering by saying, Here's what you're doing wrong and how you should fix it, but rather by asking, Where does it hurt and how can I help. Because if you aren't first awake to God in them, then what hope can there be of them becoming awake to God through you?

I know that's not quite the direction you were taking it in, it's just something that immediately came to mind for me when I read your quote above.
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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.
It's chestnuts like that that sometimes tempt me to cheaply write off Hitchens as a bloated monomanic shrill, looking to excuse his own demons (sorry, inner totalitarians) by projecting them onto real and imagined adversaries whose offenses he takes absurdly personally. I don't mean that with reference to his illness, which is truly tragic. He can be so brilliant as a literary critic; it's confounding to me that he can't see how that same dynamic and varied conversation between teller and listener also manifests itself elsewhere.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:09 PM   #103
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He meant that we don't heal suffering by saying, Here's what you're doing wrong and how you should fix it, but rather by asking, Where does it hurt and how can I help. Because if you aren't first awake to God in them, then what hope can there be of them becoming awake to God through you?
That is beautiful; simply beautiful. Thanks for sharing that with me.
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:30 PM   #104
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I don't think you're coming off as 'rude' just perhaps 'typical' of a 'Decider'. You believe you've exhausted the limits of the intellectual pursuit...which to me, is unfortunate. Especially when these 'Decider' types preach sound/logical skepticism and scientific method. Agnosticism is indeed (ALSO) a position reached after life-long pursuits...not just throwing up your hands in the air and shrugging...or "hedging your bets".

This isn't a 'salvation game' to me. That is all man-made dogmatic religious poo. This is supposed to be an intellectual search for TRUTH. You spoke about logic, reason, science, etc. How about we actually use it as a search for truth? It doesn't take any "faith" at all to be atheist- as purpleoscar is erroneously suggesting - but in order to be an atheist, you have to have made a decision about something that is (thus far) completely unknowable. This is the crux of MY issue. Those that are so sure - that they've arrived at a decision that doesn't have to be made - if only to say they are done looking until further notice.

There is just SO MUCH that we do not know and couldn't hope to know at this time in our current scientific standing. And so many atheists (vast majority) - only see ideas about God/creation, etc. through man-made religious lenses. And this is what turns most atheists into atheists, believing they need to CONTRAST that ridiculous religion they were raised on - or any other man-made notion. Some people just don't like saying "I don't know', so they have to 'decide'. Fair enough - I get it, I just don't think that way.

I think the proper intellectual position is precisely to be on the fence. A position that Albert Einstein and many others agreed with. Think about it - can you PROVE it either way?No. So why have you made up your mind?

Because again - in my view - so many of you only see these MASSIVE ideas about God and creation - in this fairytale sense about religious dogma. This is why I believe - although I enjoy Hitchens and others - the "anti-theist" movement is the most anti-intellectual group of bona fide intellectuals I've ever heard in my life. That God would have to fit these certain boundaries - or more pointedly that the only way to defeat 'God' in the public square - is to hold up the God of man-made religion and knock over that 'strawman'. Ridiculous. Religion is indeed a sham - but that doesn't mean that atheism has to be the only alternative at this moment. That's all I'm saying.

Why do we even ask the question? Outside of curiosity, most of us - at some point - will find ourselves 'lost' in our own lives. And how does someone that is 'lost' in their own life, eventually find themselves? They stop looking.

I guess I'm one of those people that will never stop looking.
Because I'm not convinced we know the truth or that we will ever know the truth. And that's fine by me. I don't need to decide. I can live by the 'golden rule' and treat others as I'd expect/hope to be treated. If that's not good enough for a 'God', then oh well...and if there never was a God, then oh well.
In any case, we are responsible for whatever we do. So let's be good to one another regardless. In the meantime, some of you need to stop trying to sell some of us that you've figured it all out. You haven't...you couldn't have figured it out.
Well said, Inner El Guapo,
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:13 PM   #105
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If the proportion of "answered" prayers was greater than what one would expect from random chance that would be an interesting finding. Although as it stands it appears the universe doesn't favour the pious with anything more than a tendency for confirmation bias.

On the question of how dogmatic certain atheists are this division could be useful.

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A chart showing the relationship between the definitions of weak/strong and implicit/explicit atheism. Explicit strong/positive/hard atheists (in purple on the right) assert that "at least one deity exists" is a false statement. Explicit weak/negative/soft atheists (in blue on the right) reject or eschew belief that any deities exist without actually asserting that "at least one deity exists" is a false statement. Implicit weak atheists (in blue on the left) would include people (such as young children and some agnostics) who do not believe in a deity, but have not explicitly rejected such belief.
Negative and positive atheism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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