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Old 09-01-2007, 07:10 AM   #76
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Originally posted by 2861U2


In my opinion, it would be very hard to have the first part of your statement without the second part accompanying it.
there are plenty who give of themselves for the poor who are not necessarily feeling the presence of God.
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Old 09-01-2007, 10:58 AM   #77
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Originally posted by Irvine511




don't fucking patronize me.
Excuse me?

Sir, I never said you were an athiest. I said your question of "Why does God allow bad things to happen?" is a question commonly asked by non-believers. I never referred to you at all in my post, so please calm down.
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Old 09-01-2007, 11:00 AM   #78
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


Kid, your view is just as or more distorted than anyone I know...
Kid, please tell me how I am wrong or how my view of God is distorted.
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Old 09-01-2007, 11:24 AM   #79
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Originally posted by 2861U2


Excuse me?

Sir, I never said you were an athiest. I said your question of "Why does God allow bad things to happen?" is a question commonly asked by non-believers. I never referred to you at all in my post, so please calm down.


you think calling someone an atheist is patronizing, or an insult?

if you had read the thread and the highly intelligent, nuanced discussion, you would see how utterly irrelevant your comment was, as it had already been addressed, and we're discussing precisely what you asserted as a basis of fact and has nothing to do with a "proper" understanding of God. you've, again, belied the fact that you're consistently unable to relate to anything outside the boundaries of your own experience, and there's, again, no humility in your posts.

my reaction was too strong. and i apologize for that. but please understand where my frustrating is coming from -- it's was like a child walking in during the a movie and demanding to know what's going on.





ETA: again, i should have reacted in a more mature manner (it was late), but i just found it frustrating and, yes, patronizing, especially given all the honest, heartfelt discussion that's gone on in this thread. i will try to take a deep breath before i post in the future.
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Old 09-01-2007, 11:49 AM   #80
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[q]

Two thoughts:
1) How many excuses are we going to make for ourselves? I hate to belabor the environment thing, but for pity's sakes -- we screwed it up. The warnings of global warming have been evident for years, but people stuck their heads in the sand. Who are we going to blame? God?

2) Despite agreeing about not blaming God "alone," you certainly do seem to lay an awful lot of blame at His feet. I suppose, at the end of the day, you're either going to see God or you're not. If you don't, that's certainly your right, but I think your skepticism masks something much deeper, which is why I don't think you're really an agnostic, because your mind seems more made up than you say it is...
[/q]


so earthquakes and tsunamis are our fault? we do have a specific name for these things -- Acts of God. i fully blame humans for what goes in in the Sudan and the shit we pump into our atmosphere, but my question remains, that if we are to take the more sentimental view of a loving God who answers and responds to prayers (which also isn't my view, as i fall much closer to Melon), then why doesn't he do something about it? we charge people for not acting to stop certain crimes -- why not ask God to get up and do something?

as for my closet atheism, which isn't actually true, just keep in mind that i'm arguing a point, and i actually agree with two fundamental points made by the religious -- God really cannot be understood in human terms (which, to me, kills dead the notion that he's loving and listens and cares and loves and wants a relationship), and, two, that atheism is an article of faith. we can't *know* one way or the next.


[q]I agree with you that it's an abusive relationship, but I'd argue that it's the reverse way. (Jesus being the prime example.) God takes an awful lot from us. How often, for example, do we ask the question "Why does God let bad things happen to good people?" vs. "Why do I let bad things happen to good people?" I think He can take it -- He and I have had it out on more than one occasion -- but at the same time, I'm not sure how I would feel if my name was used as a curse word.[/q]

this seems to underscore my earlier "battered spouse" analogy. and, again, i know why *we* let bad things happen to good people -- we elect idiot leaders, for example -- but i don't know why, if we've got this relationship with God, and if he loves us in an active, human sense, he doesn't do something to stop these bad things.

what i don't understand is why you say that we cannot hold God to "our" standards and conventions, yet all of your posts express him in only human terms using human standards and conventions.



[q]Who does? Raise your hand if you think you're a bad person. I don't think anyone wakes up in the morning saying, "Let's see, shall I start today with lusting, exploiting, pillaging, raping, drinking to excess, stealing, swearing, or abusing?" But the fruits of our days bear themselves out, don't they? If we are not sinners, why is the world the way it is?[/q]


okay -- so you do think that sin is like a swear jar?

the last question is an excellent one -- but it's for you to answer, and it holds you accountable, since i think the world is the way that it is because that's the way the world is. things simply are. and we do our best to deal with it.


[q]Only if you believe that genuinely sinful people wake up and think that way. But we don't live in a world of moustache twirlers, do we, yet somehow the world is full of corruption, greed, hatred, pride, selfishness, etc. This is what is referred to as the "sin nature". "Who shall deliver me from this body of death," wondered Paul in despair, for in spite of our best efforts, we are so often our own worst enemies. [/q]


i'd agree with this, and i do think that the "sin" might lie in the rationalizations that people make in order to justify their actions, but i still maintain that most people aren't in a position of power to adversely affect the world. as income consolidatse into an ever decreasing tiny minority of the population, the ability to "sin" on a grand level -- a level whereby one could affect laws, policy, etc. -- is dwarfed by the amount of people who don't have the power to act in such a way that it affects a large amount of people.

believe it or not, i think much of what you're saying about sin makes logical sense. i always thought that most of NBC's posts were of sound logic, if utterly preposterous, in my opinion. i can see the coherence of the worldview, even if i think it's preposterous.

but it cannot for the life of me say that babies are born with horrible birth defects because there's sin in the world. it's like saying that people who get HIV deserve it. i don't buy the Butterfly Effect/ Chaos Theory when it comes to "sin." it seems crazy to think that because a man cheats on his wife, two 15 year old girls die in a car accident.



[q]Only if you look at God as rewarding good behavior or bad behavior. If God however is primarily concerned with relationship, and with knowing us and loving us to the point that we become more like Him, then it's not God Who punishes our mistakes. It's we who more often than not bring these things on ourselves. A friend of mine summed it up nicely just today over lunch -- "After you're 25, you probably need to realize that all your problems have one person in common: you."
[/q]

i like the last line. i do. and it sounds very "Man in the Mirror" to me, and i can't disagree with the message: if you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change. i'm a fan of personal responsibility. and i can understand that if we are to believe God/Jesus as a perfect model of behavior, and we all try to make ourselves more like him, then the world will be a better place. i can see that. i can see that if we all tried to be more like MLK, or Ghandi, or even (dare i say it) Bono, the world would be a better place.

but i still think that we could all be the best we could be, and a tsunami is still going to wipe out 250,000 people, and people are still going to get cancer and AIDS, and God isn't going to do a thing about it. and if this relationship is so important, why doesn't he do something about all this horror?

one thing i have gained over the past year or so is a true appreciation for what actual, real, lived-in violence is like. i've spent a lot of time in police stations and working with police officers, and what they have to deal with is enough to shake any worldview. i see no God in crime scene photos. i see no God in chilling 911 phone calls. it's in these moments of sheer horror that the actual emptiness of it all, the fact that there just might be no "there" there, that fills me with dread.

and ... well, that's a huge, huge post, and i'm not awake enough to really start writing about that.
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Old 09-03-2007, 07:51 PM   #81
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There's so much in your post to respond to, and I'm on deadline with two different projects (pages due to a producer this week and picture lock Friday for another), so I may not to get to respond to this all in depth anytime soon, but a book you might want to check out is "A Search for What Is Real: Finding Faith" by Brian McLaren. He's got a whole bunch of thoughts in here written as a Christian who is genuinely trying to engage people with questions. It's a really good read, and he doesn't duck the hard ones. (In my personal opinion.) I'd love for you to read it and get your thoughts. (If I had your address, I'd send you a copy.)

http://www.amazon.com/Search-What-Re...863232&sr=8-10
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Old 09-03-2007, 09:31 PM   #82
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This is the kind of discussion that keeps me coming back to FYM. I feel ill equipped to really bring a fresh view to this one, but I find the discussion and viewpoints on both sides very thought provoking, and well stated.

On a lighter note:

Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
okay -- so you do think that sin is like a swear jar?
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Old 09-03-2007, 10:23 PM   #83
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as for my closet atheism, which isn't actually true, just keep in mind that i'm arguing a point, and i actually agree with two fundamental points made by the religious -- God really cannot be understood in human terms (which, to me, kills dead the notion that he's loving and listens and cares and loves and wants a relationship), and, two, that atheism is an article of faith. we can't *know* one way or the next.
And I take issue with the second point in that it is a technicality, living in a world where there is no God or one that the existence or inexistence of God is moot because it is impossible to prove or disproove is the same.
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Old 09-03-2007, 10:37 PM   #84
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
it's in these moments of sheer horror that the actual emptiness of it all, the fact that there just might be no "there" there, that fills me with dread.
It's ironic that the burden of these questions falls on the survivors, the "lucky" ones (though that can certainly include the sufferers in some cases). We need each other to know and resolve and realize what our worth here is; it's much more frightening to think that people can lose their faith in the value of humanity than that they can lose their faith in God. So it's chilling to see the potential of a life brutally and senselessly laid waste, not because the person is dead--we're all headed there anyway, and in some sense the vulnerability and finiteness of life is precisely what inclines us to value it--but because to find value in others is to honor, in them and oneself, what the nature of their death seems to call into question the honorability of. I can accept, at least to a point, that "nature" itself can't really be accused of such betrayal--the ocean means no harm when it rears up and sweeps people away, any more than it means good when providing us food and safe passage; it knows and values nothing, itself included. But how people can lose sight of that worth in each other, what it means that that seems to be so easy for us...sometimes "humans are sinful; that's what they do" just doesn't cut it, and neither does "life is cheap; bad shit happens."

I can understand where nathan's frustration is coming from, though. It almost comes across as if what you're "really" looking for is faith=invulnerability, something no religion claims to offer. All of us and everyone we care about will die, and that's pretty much the essence of vulnerability, isn't it? Why be so preoccupied with the particular manner in which it might happen? Does a peaceful and painless death somehow make the life that preceded it more worthwhile, or herald a better afterlife? I wouldn't want anyone I love to conclude that, if I happened to die in some violent and painful way tomorrow--the responsibility and opportunity they have to keep working for a better world, to bear witness to that possibility everywhere and in every way they can, which to me is the essence of faith and the 'image' we share, would remain the same. Would that nice thought make last moments filled with nothing but blind terror and agonizing pain any "better", no, but I don't think that hope comes from coldness or indifference to vulnerability; rather the opposite. God to me is a partner who seeks our help in that process of transformation, not a master puppeteer, perhaps even vulnerable (though in nothing like the way we are) insofar as God has chosen to manifest, to know and be known, a longing that requires submission of a kind to fulfill. You can't have that without vulnerability, I don't think, just as you can't have compassion without pain.
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Old 09-03-2007, 11:17 PM   #85
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Originally posted by yolland

I can understand where nathan's frustration is coming from, though. It almost comes across as if what you're "really" looking for is faith=invulnerability, something no religion claims to offer. All of us and everyone we care about will die, and that's pretty much the essence of vulnerability, isn't it? Why be so preoccupied with the particular manner in which it might happen? Does a peaceful and painless death somehow make the life that preceded it more worthwhile, or herald a better afterlife? I wouldn't want anyone I love to conclude that, if I happened to die in some violent and painful way tomorrow--the responsibility and opportunity they have to keep working for a better world, to bear witness to that possibility everywhere and in every way they can, which to me is the essence of faith and the 'image' we share, would remain the same. Would that nice thought make last moments filled with nothing but blind terror and agonizing pain any "better", no, but I don't think that hope comes from coldness or indifference to vulnerability; rather the opposite. God to me is a partner who seeks our help in that process of transformation, not a master puppeteer, perhaps even vulnerable (though in nothing like the way we are) insofar as God has chosen to manifest, to know and be known, a longing that requires submission of a kind to fulfill. You can't have that without vulnerability, I don't think, just as you can't have compassion without pain.


this has been a sprawling discussion, so i can understand why several different strands of thought can get tangled together.

i am basically saying two things:

1. my agnosticism comes not from the fact that bad things happen, but in the lack of anything redeeming i've seen in the bad things that do happen -- in the very deadness of a murdered person, in the turning of man into meat, what i see is a lack of some kind of overarching, guiding force to the universe, that Bono's wrong, there is no love and logic behind it all. this feeling can go away when we're given the opposite side of this coin -- the birth of a baby, basic kindness -- but the fact remains that it's there, lurking, and we're all vulnerable.

2. i don't think that faith = invulnerability but people who walk around talking about the importance of being Saved certainly do. it's not that bad things won't happen to them, but that God is always in control and is in the cockpit so we just accept and praise and realize that, yes, God did want that 15 year old girl's arms to get ripped off and she'd bleed to death in the street. and that's where i take issue, and that's when i ask them why such bad things happen to good people, and that if God were the puppetmaster in all this, and if you chat with him on a dialy basis, then please ask him to do something about Darfur. it seems that this is a rather cruel God who intervenes when we pray for help on the algebra test, but seems indifferent when the ocean swallows 250,000 people.

so, two different thoughts going on. sorry if my posts have muddied the waters.

ultimately, i think Melon's view of God is one that i find most compelling, and it seems the most logically sound.

for now.
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Old 09-03-2007, 11:23 PM   #86
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Originally posted by nathan1977
^

There's so much in your post to respond to, and I'm on deadline with two different projects (pages due to a producer this week and picture lock Friday for another), so I may not to get to respond to this all in depth anytime soon, but a book you might want to check out is "A Search for What Is Real: Finding Faith" by Brian McLaren. He's got a whole bunch of thoughts in here written as a Christian who is genuinely trying to engage people with questions. It's a really good read, and he doesn't duck the hard ones. (In my personal opinion.) I'd love for you to read it and get your thoughts. (If I had your address, I'd send you a copy.)

http://www.amazon.com/Search-What-Re...863232&sr=8-10


have got a busy week ahead (spent my Labor Day laboring), but i'll see if i can't order it and try to read it at some point soon.

thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 09-05-2007, 08:26 AM   #87
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Originally posted by nathan1977


I always like the dialogue, Irvine. Sorry I'm not around as much. (I personally miss the posts of people like nbcrusader and maycocksean.)


Well, thanks for that nathan1977! I've missed being around. I promise to jump into the discussion soon, but around page three as I realized this entire thread appears to be weighty, thoughtful responses, and there's no way I can give each of the responses the proper reading they deserve and still go to bed at a decent time.

So. I shall return.
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Old 09-05-2007, 08:27 AM   #88
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I should also say I read the TIME cover article on MT last night to "prepare myself" for this thread. Very interesting.
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:07 AM   #89
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wow. One of the best threads in FYM in a long time. I really enjoyed--and was challenged by--everyone's thoughts.

To be frank, I respect Irvine's refusal to buy into God, at least the way he describes Him. I wouldn't buy into that sort of God either (though perhaps Irvine might suggest that's exactly what I've done). Pain and suffering demand answers, and I believe religion in large part exists as a way to answer the question of pain, suffering, and death. Still, I have yet to find any religion that "adequately" answers the question (and believers that insist they have one usually sound pretty foolish, in my opinion--the whole "well I guess it was the Lord's will" thing). I don't know that there is an "adequate" answer out there. What would an "adequate" answer look like anyway? More importantly what would be the consequences of an "adequate" answer? Would we no longer grieve because we had the "answer" which made it all okay? Or would it just make the grieving more bearable? And in that case, don't some people already have answers that-to them at least--are adequate in that they make the grieving and loss manageable somehow. Is it possible that the adequate answer for one person is woefully inadequate to another person?

I'm not really sure of the answers to any of the above questions, but I can say what I believe about the idea of God and His involvement, at least to the extent that I feel like have at least a "half-answer" (which I concede is, again, inadequate).

1. I don't think that when bad things happen, it is "God's will."

2. I don't know why God doesn't intervene to stop tragedies such as the tsunami. The most I have is vague ideas including:
--the concept that sin is more than "bad things that people do", there's something more "story-like" about it--a virus, a sickness that human choice brought into this earth that now operates and extends beyond the strict boundaries of human cause and effect (See the "What is sin" thread for more details on this theory). Thus things like the tsunami may not be the direct result of any "particular" sin, but are the result of living in a world that's basically broken (which contradicts Melon's theory of all of this, though I have to admitt even so, that I REALLY dug his ideas).
--I'm not sure to what extent God is supposed to prevent tragedy without it wandering in to the territory of Him preventing the "bad results" of bad decisions on our part. If he stepped in to prevent all natural disasters (assuming that my above half- theory is wrong) or miraculously saved all human lives (and shoot their houses and stuff while He's at it) when they happened, and also stopped all disease, would that be enough for us? After all His suspending those "Acts of God" would still leave us with the Holocaust and Rawanda. Should he just make sure that only the guilty suffer? But if only the guilty suffer than what, really, would sin be beyond people getting what they deserve? And what kinds of actions in which no innocents suffer would be actually guilt-worthy? The argument, perhaps boils down to this: A loving God would make it impossible for humans to do anything wrong. I'm not so compelled by that argument.
-- I tend to feel that death (and often the attendant suffering) is the default setting of life and not the other way around. Each day that I'm alive and healthy, I consider to be a miracle and a gift, and the day that I'm not. . .well, I suppose that's the conclusion that we're all meant for all along anyway. I know that sounds horribly harsh and callous, and while I can say it intellectually, you can be damn sure I'll fight tooth and nail to keep life and health (as hard as you did, Irvine). There'll be no going quietly for me, no quiet acceptance of that reality. Because deep down, I think most of us know the default setting we live (or die with) is WRONG. It's just wrong. In a weird way, that is why I am a believer. And the wrongness is not being fixed by God now so holding out hope for a "future fix" doesn't seem so unreasonable.

As a side question: Why do we find it so horrible when many die at once but seem less inclined to react to the death of an individual. Would the tsunami have been any less horrible if only one person had died? Aren't thousands dying even as I write these words, even though it's not necessarily, together at one event? Are their deaths somehow more "fair" because of their seperateness than those who perished in the tsunami?

Again, I don't mean to be callous towards suffering and I sincerely hope I'm not coming across that way. I've been very fortunate, so far, to have not had to deal with horrific tragedy up close and personal which is probably why I can come across so dispassionately. I can't say how I'd respond if (or when) I do experience deep tragedy personally. I don't know if any person can know whether their faith (or lackthereof) will survive the crucible of horror.

well, those are some thoughts, for what they're worth. Again, I really have appreciated this thread.
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:14 AM   #90
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i'll paraphrase something that i remember Bono saying, but i believe it was an Old Testament story -- i've had two glasses of wine, so name escape me -- but it was (Abraham?) who was told by God to bring his son to a mountaintop and to kill him in order to demonstate his faith. and so, he did, and just before he killed his son, God intervened, said it was a test, and let them both go, and thus, this is the faith we should have.

and Bono's reaction, and my reaction, is: what a fucking asshole.

Yes it was Abraham. And I've been uncomfortable with this story for years. The conclusion I've recently come to, though, is that Abraham knew all along he wouldn't have to actually kill his son. He just didn't know how God was going to provide an "out." He just knew He would. Believers of all three "Book" faiths tend to tell this story as if the take-home message is Abraham's unquestioning obedience, when to me it's become clear that the message is God's provision and Abraham's radical trust in that. (I wrote an essay about this on my faith issues blog www.movingfaith.blogspot.com if you care to check it out).
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