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Old 12-18-2012, 06:01 PM   #16
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1. Have your beliefs (or lack thereof) changed in the past five years?
Have the searchers found anything? If not, have they gone on to
another search?


I think searchers will always find what they're looking for. Atheists will find reasons to discount the Presence of God; believers will find reasons to argue for the Presence of God. The search will always continue.

I was talking with a friend recently who commented that she thought my politics were growing more progressive. I'm not sure about that, or if I've become better at seeing both sides of different issues. But the God I believe in is a God of grace, and grace is not a zero-sum equation. It is constantly expanding in its reach and breadth.

2. Do you believe in anything beyond this life?

Yes. There have been enough documented near-death experiences that I don't think you can discount them.

3. Where do you disagree with your specific religion, if you practice one?
Is your religion as much a cultural/social belonging for you as it is
personal belief?


I don't know if I disagree with my Christianity, or if I disagree with its specifically cultural interpretation here in America. I disagree with the political applications of my faith, since Jesus was specifically neutral when it came to socio-economic principles and ideas. (Though you could certainly draw some connecting dots, if you wanted to.) In any event, Christianity was always meant to be counter-cultural, in the sense that its values are rooted in a Kingdom that is not yet now, so it will constantly confound man's efforts to build a Heaven on earth.

4. What causes you doubt?

Suffering. The eternal question.

5. Is there a war on Christmas?

A war on Christmas? No. I do think that certain militant atheists are being much more intense and intentional about attacking religion/the religious these days, but I don't think their issues are all that unfounded. In any event, if you're going to be audacious enough to subscribe to a worldview that establishes a moral order, you're going to piss some people off.

6. Do you believe in a personal, involved, intervening God or an indifferent
or detached God who lets things play out without intervention.


Free will is a bit of a dichotomy, isn't it? I believe God lets us make our choices...but the power of a redeeming God is that He takes the messes we make and creates something beautiful out of them.

7. Does your God judge? If so, does he judge on belief or behavior?

I believe God has a standard of goodness and beauty, and I fall short all the time. Thank God for grace.

8. Where do you succeed in your religion/spirituality? Where do you
fail?


The one place where I feel like I succeed is in trying to take time for God every day. My prayers center me, they remind me of what matters and who needs my help, and they hopefully remind me of what matters most to God.

9. Did you continue in the faith you grew up in or did you change faiths?

Raised Christian.

10. Do you think people may create a God that mirrors them? Is God
subjective or objective? Is God open to interpretation, differences
in opinion?


If God hates all the same people I hate, then that's a bad sign. I think most people are really good at making a God that reinforces their beliefs, but for me, God confounds me all the time, in that He has compassion and patience and grace for people and situations that I would not choose to. Which forces me to have to grow and change -- which feels as it should.
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Old 12-18-2012, 08:23 PM   #17
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If God hates all the same people I hate, then that's a bad sign. I think most people are really good at making a God that reinforces their beliefs, but for me, God confounds me all the time, in that He has compassion and patience and grace for people and situations that I would not choose to. Which forces me to have to grow and change -- which feels as it should.
Very well put .
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:52 AM   #18
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I like this quote:

Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying. - Arthur C. Clarke
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:47 PM   #19
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I was probably an agnostic 5 years ago now a more certain atheist. I am probably also less tolerant of the major religions notions about God. For instance if God is like anything the bible describes we as a people are much more moral and good than he is. Most modern variants of mainstream Christianity seem to have a pick a mix approach to what their God is like, discounting whatever bad bits there are. I find the fringe ones are at least more honest in their interpretation of the bible and the like. Too much of modern Christianity has created a fairly pointless and inane version of God. And if God does not have a point then why believe?

For instance there are nearly as many different Gods as there are people. If they are all judgemental and jealous, then there is almost an infinite number of ways to piss him (or her) off by believing in the wrong version. All religions tend to view themselves as the 'truth'. If he doesn't care which version we believe in as long as we are good people, then it is highly unlikely that he would care if we have any belief at all.

Anyway to me faith and religion seem like a horrendously pointless exercise that creates unnecessary stress in life. I don't begrudge people having faith (unless harmful to others) I am just quite confused by it. Though I do remain fascinated by it's art, history and philosophical problems.
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:37 PM   #20
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I like this quote:

Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying. - Arthur C. Clarke
I'm not terrified about the fact we're alone in the universe; I'm cool with it.
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:47 PM   #21
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You should watch this:

"A Universe From Nothing" - Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins - YouTube
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:57 PM   #22
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I'm not terrified about the fact we're alone in the universe; I'm cool with it.

These terrified people need to get a life, I would recommend their own before it is over.
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Old 12-20-2012, 10:30 AM   #23
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Fear can motivate faith for a time, I suppose - but sooner or later it must be replaced by something else or it becomes small. After all, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to...Jar Jar.

Or put another way..."perfect love casts out fear." (I John 4:18 )
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Old 12-22-2012, 07:02 AM   #24
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i'd say that Buddhism holds more appeal to me, and i find it very calming (as opposed to actually comforting) ... but not all of Buddhism is so nice. karma seems a little bit nasty to me, at least insofar as it's used to explain why bad things happen to (seemingly) nice people. i think it's best understood more as a practice and philosophy than a religion, and that's perhaps why it works best for
There are elements of Buddhism I've taken on as you noted--more as a practice, a philosophy. I don't meditate or subscribe to a lot of the beliefs of at least some schools of Buddhism, but I do try to practice mindfulness as often as I can (sadly it turns out to be few and far between but I am mindful of that) and I attempt, more successfully which isn't saying much, to monitor my thoughts and feelings without giving them more significance than I need to. I'm not particularly an emotional person, so it would be in my nature anyway, but I am more aware of it. And I think you made a great point of looking to Buddhism as calming and not comforting. But oneness has never been my desire. So I'll just steal what works for me which is my general modus operandi anyway.

Quote:
If God hates all the same people I hate, then that's a bad sign. I think most people are really good at making a God that reinforces their beliefs, but for me, God confounds me all the time, in that He has compassion and patience and grace for people and situations that I would not choose to. Which forces me to have to grow and change -- which feels as it should.
I liked this response a lot. I left my religion (Christianity, but really any religion) because of doubt and rage and a lack of belief that there was anything after death. But another part of the reason I left the religion was that I could not meet some of the challenges I believe it required. I could not meet the challenge of belief or humility or change, the questioning, and being something other than the often self-satisfied prig that I was. So while I believe the religion failed me, I also believe that I failed the religion. I think I became a better person when I left. Except for belief, I found I could better meet some of the challenges away from the religion than in it. (It wasn't the people in the church. I liked the people, the music, the Bible stories, the ritual. I just did not like me in it).
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Old 12-22-2012, 03:45 PM   #25
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I personally don't believe in God any more than I believe in the tooth fairy or Father Christmas. For all intents and purposes we ARE alone, there is no particular purpose of us being here, and nothing awaits us after death. We are hurtling through the vacuum of space on a ball of dirt, and I can understand why most people find that disconcerting and need to believe in an omnipotent being to make sense of it all. For me, not believing in God and rejecting religion allows me to take full responsibility for my own life. But I wouldn't describe myself as someone who believes science has all the answers. People like Richard Dawkins repulse me for their arrogance and for shoving their doctrines down everyone's throat. The universe is far too vast, complex and unknowable for humanity to ever make any sweeping conclusions. An ant thinks he has the world all sussed out - until someone steps on him.
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Old 12-22-2012, 07:36 PM   #26
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1. Have your beliefs (or lack thereof) changed in the past five years?
Have the searchers found anything? If not, have they gone on to
another search?

Not a whole lot. I think I've been a somewhat more spiritually fertile time in my life in the past few months than I have in awhile. God feels closer these days, or maybe I feel closer to Him. We've gone through some pretty severe financial challenges in the latter part of this year and in the process I've found that trusting in God to provide for me has become more than just a nice sentiment.

2. Do you believe in anything beyond this life?

I do. However, in accordance with my church's teachings, I don't believe in a body-soul duality or an immortal soul. I believe that when you die, that's it. You're "spirit" doesn't float off to heaven or anything like that. I also don't believe in hell. Eternal life is eventual, I believe, and will become a reality when Jesus returns (and yes, I do believe that one day Jesus will return in a literal, visible way. In that sense, I'm very much an apocalyptic Christian though I know I don't sound that way on this forum. Maybe because I think of it is a good thing, rather than something scary? Maybe because I don't lead with that as I know that such a belief is often misunderstood). On that day those that will inherit eternity will be resurrected to eternal life and those who are alive at that time will also be given eternal life. Those that opt out of eternal life would not be condemned to an eternity in hell, but would die what in our church we call the "second death" from which there is no resurrection.

3. Where do you disagree with your specific religion, if you practice one?
Is your religion as much a cultural/social belonging for you as it is
personal belief?

I disagree mostly with church stances on issues, not so much with the theology of my church. I often disagree with the way my church interprets our theology rather than the beliefs themselves. I think the church is wrong on it's opposition to the ordination of women clergy (ironically we allow women to be pastors, they just can't have the title of "ordained minister." They can be ordained as an elder, but not as a pastor. Don't get me started). I disagree with my church's stance on homosexuality (though thankfully, the church avoids vocal public oppositon on this issue and most others). I don't like how the church tends to trumpet famous names who join our denomination. Little Richard was briefly a member of our church in the early sixties. The most recent high-profile convert was Two and Half Men's Angus T. Jones, which caused a stir for a bit.

I like that my church is pretty fractious and there is often a lot of disagreement internally on all kinds of issues. I think that's a good thing.

4. What causes you doubt?

Not a whole lot really. Not in the sense of doubting my faith in the deepest level. I'm always skeptical about what we think we "know" about God and how he operates. My motto is "I may be wrong." Sometimes, I find myself very skeptical of the traditional understanding of many of the stories in the Bible. But none of that affects the most important thing I believe about God which is that He is love. Because I feel a real and active connection to God, my faith is more than set of beliefs, ideas or philosophies. I find that most people who abandon faith don't feel any real connection to God.

5. Is there a war on Christmas?

No.

6. Do you believe in a personal, involved, intervening God or an indifferent
or detached God who lets things play out without intervention.

I believe in a personal, involved, and intervening God who sometimes lets things play out without intervention. Why he chooses to intervene here but not there is a question that has been debated for millenia, and I wouldn't be foolish to claim I know the answer. I know that as a teacher and a parent there are times when I let things play out with my students and children, but I am definitely not indifferent or detached. However, I realize that analogy is cold comfort at the level of tragedy where these questions are often raised.

7. Does your God judge? If so, does he judge on belief or behavior?

My God does judge. He judges based neither on belief or behavior, but on intent of our hearts.

8. Where do you succeed in your religion/spirituality? Where do you
fail?

I don't know that if I really believe in success or failure as such in my faith.

9. Did you continue in the faith you grew up in or did you change faiths?

I did continue in the faith I grew up with though I like to think I made it my own. I deeply admire people who change faiths. I think it takes tremendous courage.

10. Do you think people may create a God that mirrors them? Is God
subjective or objective? Is God open to interpretation, differences
in opinion?

Oh sure. None of us can really know God, at least right now. So a lot of times we end up making him over in our own image. I believe God is ultimately objective, but our knowledge of him is highly subjective.
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:28 PM   #27
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Does anyone know what is meant when one claims to be an atheist, and they disagree with the Christian church that they grew up in, but that they believe in Spirituality? Does that mean that they aren't Christian but may lean toward the Eastern faiths (without subscribing towards one faith)?

I like Sikhism and there's some messages in Christianity that I agree with.

I don't know myself, tbh. Can I pass on answering? I find it very hard to explain.
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:35 PM   #28
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Can I pass on answering?
No. As you can plainly see, everyone else on the site had the decency to answer. You're no exception
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:47 PM   #29
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but what about if I can't answer your question? Well not now anyways
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:55 PM   #30
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It doesn't matter. Please answer the question as all others have
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