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Thread: God, Theology, Dogma....

  1. #21

    Re: God, Theology, Dogma....

    Quote Originally Posted by flippy
    I've studied different Christian religions the Methodist teach that you should read the Bible as if it was written to a specific audience in a specific time period.

    Even though the Bible is living and always current, the people that wrote the individual books wrote them in response to the current happenings in the time period in which they lived. So if we try to read and interpret through the mindset of the people of that period, we may have some better insights into interpreting some of the more complex portions of the Bible.

    This can make some portions of the bible seem more reasonable to me.

    For example, consider Revelations which can be really complicated to make sense out of. Back in the day that it was written 12 x 12 x 1000 would have represented all of the people in the world and the number of 144,000 people being save could have been interpreted that God will save everyone.

    And you could also consider that Revelations represented an end of an Age where God will win over evil and people will thrive under God here on Earth after a time of religious persecution. This is different than Revelations being read as the end of all time which most people tend to think.

    Either could be possible.

    Predestination is another complexity.

    But from the very beginning, God gave choice to Adam and Eve. But I've also wondered if we're created in the image of God, how could we make the wrong ultimate choice if we have the mark of God in us?

    Sometimes it just isn't easy to know if there is any right answer. And sometimes the only thing we can trust is the God in us and in others around us.

    I'm motivated again to re-read the Bible again to get some better understanding.

    What I really like about that post is that you think about these things Flippy. So many times I have seen Christians believe everything preached from the pulpit. They don't question and believe it to be wrong to do so. If these things are mysteries...God wanted them to be mysteries. I truly believe God wants us to think for ourselves...to seek out the things he keeps secret.

    While I agree about our need to trust in God...I have a hard time doing so in fellow man. I believe men are born self seeking. I believe many interpretations we hear are preached with motive. I have a hard time believing men as a whole can present the things of God in a way that doesn't involve self interest. I do believe it's possible to love your fellow man but not trust your fellow man.

    The disciples were in the religious minority. The religious majority obeyed the law and their leaders were referred to as a den of vipers. They cared more about their flowing robes and places in the synagogue. Do you believe men have changed all that much? I don't. I am very comfortable being in the great religious minority with my views. I am comfortable with my views being more in line with Martin Zender than Benny Hinn.

    With all of that said, I'm not sure how much of it really matters in the end. I believe we were born with a role. I believe God created us all with purpose...and I believe God will reconcil all of creation under Christ. We do the best we can do with what we are given. We try to grow and learn about loving outside of ourselves. And, all any of us can do in the end is trust in the loving God of creation.
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  2. #22
    Pro Bowler eniparadoxgma's Avatar
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    Re: God, Theology, Dogma....

    When conversations of this sort turn this way, it becomes difficult for me to discuss much without offending anyone, regardless of intent.

    However, I will attempt to.

    My questions are to both of you, Shawn and Flippy.

    Why Christianity? Why Christ? Why the Christian God?

    Why not Judaism? Why not Moses? Why not Jehovah?

    Why not Islam? Why not Mohamed? Why not Allah?

    And if you look at all three of these, the religions of the Abrahamic tradition, as parts of or attempts at the same thing, then why choose a particular part?

    Also, why not Zoroastrianism? It was around before Christianity.

    Why not Hinduism? It was around before Christianity.

    Why not Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Satanism, Paganism, etc etc.

    There are religions out there that existed before Christianity that have their own adherents. They have their own dogmas. They have their own rituals. They even have their own prophets complete with stories of virgin births, miracles, creation, etc.

    Why believe one and discount the others? And why pick one?

    I think I know where this conversation will now go, but I feel the need to say that I find it difficult to see how people believe that their one religion (not just speaking of you guys or Christianity now, I'm speaking generally) is the "right" religion and that their religion is the only one whose prophet was really divine, the miracle stories, creation stories, tenets, and beliefs are "true" while all the other are wrong, etc. I especially find it difficult to believe about Christianity specifically because of the fact that there are older religions and traditions, etc, as well as the fact that I find the majority of Christianity to be anti-life.

    (Aside from personal revelatory experiences that made you guys "believe" that is, because adherents of every religion have their own personally revelatory experiences and it would do nothing to dispel the concept of religious pluralism or equality)

    TIA.
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  3. #23
    Pro Bowler eniparadoxgma's Avatar
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    Re: God, Theology, Dogma....

    Quote Originally Posted by SteelAbility
    Is dogma NECESSARILY a bad thing? ...

    What I mean is this. If dogma is defined as that which is considered true and unshakeable, can you establish a case against dogma, without establishing at least one piece of dogma, or that which you consider to be true and unshakeable?

    Where dogma gets its bad name comes from the fact that down the pages of history, certain "truths" (or dogma) have been twisted for power/manipulation/control. The particular "truth" in some given situation, may actually be a good thing. The problem has been in the twisted handling of the truth or doctrine, not the truth or doctrine itself. As Napolean said in Animal Farm, "Comrades, some animals are MORE equal than others."

    As an example, if you think of a knife as a truth (it is what it is, no matter what anyone thinks of it), then is a knife a bad thing because someone uses it to stab another person. Did the wrong come from the knife or did the wrong come from the one carrying the knife? In the same way, various good teachings have been subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) twisted and used as a platform for personal gain.

    The definition of dogma is (wiki) "the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or from which diverged."

    The problem with dogma regardless of its substance or message is the "it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or from which diverged" part. Everything needs to be questioned anew lest we either follow some hideous doctrine unquestioningly, we start to stagnate, or perhaps just need to refresh our memories as to why we're following some tenet in the first place.

    So, my point is that it isn't because of particularly bad doctrines that have been accepted as dogma that dogma gets a bad rap. It catches flack because it attempts to establish itself as unable to be questioned.

    Of course, if you're trying to catch me in the "then your "dogma" is to question all dogma" net I'm just going to plead the fifth because I'm not in the mood.
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  4. #24
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    Re: God, Theology, Dogma....

    Quote Originally Posted by Chadman
    Sometimes I think my dog is the closest being to God in this world. Always happy, always energetic, always forgiving, simple, and loving
    You could be talking about Buddha there...well, except the energetic part..

    Is Buddha God? Or God, Buddha?
    SUPPLEMENTARY READING
    This is an essay by a writer. It is clearly an appeal to
    the emotions. As you read it ask yourself how it ap-
    plies to the subject under discussion. What is the
    writer trying to say? Does he succeed in making his
    point? Does this essay cast light on the point of the
    subject under discussion? After you have read this essay, using the reverse side of your test paper, write your own essay (500 words or less) on the loss of a loved one. If you have never lost a loved one, fake it.
    AHBHU
    Yesterday my dog died. For eleven years Ahbhu was my closest friend. He was responsible for my writing a story about a boy and his dog that many people have read. He was not a pet, he was a person. It was impossible to anthropomorphize him, he wouldn't stand for it. But he was so much his own kind of creature, he had such a strongly formed personality, he was so determined to share his life with only those he chose, that it was also impossible to think of him as simply a dog. Apart from those canine characteristics into which he was locked by his species, he comported himself like one of a kind.
    We met when I came to him at the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter. I'd wanted a dog because I was lonely and I'd remembered when I was a little boy how my dog had been a friend when I had no other friends. One summer I went away to camp and when I returned I found a rotten old neighbor lady from up the street had had my dog picked up and gassed while my father was at work. I crept into the woman's back yard that night and found a rug hanging on the clothesline. The rug beater was hanging from a post. I stole it and buried it.
    At the Animal Shelter there was a man in line ahead of me. He had brought in a puppy only a week or so old. A Puli, a Hungarian sheep dog; it was a sad looking little thing. He had too many in the litter and had brought in this one to either be taken by someone else, or to be put to sleep. They took the dog inside and the man behind the counter called my turn. I
    told him I wanted a dog and he took me back inside to walk down the line of cages.
    In one of the cages the little Puli that had just been brought in was being assaulted by three larger dogs who had been earlier tenants. He was a little thing, and he was on the bottom, getting the stuffing knocked out of him. But he was struggling mightily. The runt of the litter.
    "Get him out of there!" I yelled. "I'll take him, I'll take him, get him out of there!"
    He cost two dollars. It was the best two bucks I
    ever spent. _
    Driving home with him, he was lying on the other side of the front seat, staring at me. I had had a vague idea what I'd name a pet, but as I stared at him, and he stared back at me, I suddenly was put in mind of the scene in Alexander Korda's 1939 film The Thief of Bagdad, where the evil vizier, played by Conrad Veidt, had changed Ahbhu, the little thief, played by Sabu, into a dog. The film had superimposed the human over the canine face for a moment so there was an extraordinary look of intelligence in the face of the dog. The little Puli was looking at me
    with that same expression. "Ahbhu," I said.
    He didn't react to the name, but then he couldn't have cared less. But that was his name, from that time on.
    No one who ever came into my house was unaffected by him. When he sensed someone with good vibrations, he was right there, lying at their feet. He loved to be scratched, and despite years of admonitions he refused to stop begging for scraps at table, because he found most of the people who had come to dinner at my house were patsies unable to escape his woebegone Jackie-Coogan-as-the-Kid look.
    But he was a certain barometer of bums, as well. On any number of occasions when I found someone I liked, and Ahbhu would have nothing to do with him
    or her, it always turned out the person was a wrongo. I took to noting his attitude toward newcomers, and I must admit it influenced my own reactions. I was always wary of someone Ahbhu shunned.
    Women with whom I had had unsatisfactory affairs would nonetheless return to the house from time to time-to visit the dog. He had an intimate circle of friends, many of whom had nothing to do with me, and numbering among their company some of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood. One exquisite lady used to send her driver to pick him up for Sunday afternoon romps at the beach.
    I never asked him what happened on those occasions. He didn't talk.
    Last year he started going downhill, though I didn't realize it because he maintained the manner of a puppy almost to the end. But he began sleeping too much, and he couldn't hold down his food-not even the Hungarian meals prepared for him by the Magyars who lived up the street. And it became apparent to me something was wrong with him when he got scared during the big Los Angeles earthquake last year. Ahbhu wasn't afraid of anything. He attacked the Pacific Ocean and walked tall around vicious cats. But the quake terrified him and he jumped up in my bed and threw his forelegs around my neck. I was very nearly the only victim of the earthquake to die from animal strangulation.
    He was in and out of the veterinarian's shop all through the early part of this year, and the idiot always said it was his diet.
    Then one Sunday when he was out in the backyard, I found him lying at the foot of the porch stairs, covered with mud, vomiting so heavily all he could bring up was bile. He was matted with his own refuse and he was trying desperately to dig his nose into the earth for coolness. He was barely breathing. I took him to a different vet,
    At first they thought it was just old age . . . that they
    could pull him through. But finally they took X-rays and saw the cancer had taken hold in his stomach and liver.
    I put off the day as much as I could. Somehow I just couldn't conceive of a world that didn't have him in it. But yesterday I went to the vet's office and signed the euthanasia papers.
    "I'd like to spend a little time with him, before," I said.
    They brought him in and put him on the stainless steel examination table. He had grown so thin. He'd always had a pot-belly and it was gone. The muscles in his hind legs were weak, flaccid. He came to me and put his head into the hollow of my armpit. He was trembling violently. I lifted his head and he p looked at me with that comic face I'd always thought made him look like Lawrence Talbot, the Wolf Man. He knew. Sharp as hell right up to the end, hey old friend? He knew, and he was scared. He trembled all the way down to his spiderweb legs. This bouncing ball of hair that, when lying on a dark carpet, could be taken for a sheepskin rug with no way to tell at which end head and which end tail. So thin. Shaking, knowing what was going to happen to him. But still a puppy.
    I cried and my eyes closed as my nose swelled with the crying, and he buried his head in my arms because we hadn't done much crying at one another. I was ashamed of myself not to be taking it as well as he was.
    "I got to, pup, because you're in pain and you can't eat. I got to." But he didn't want to know that.
    The vet came in, then. He was a nice guy and he asked me if I wanted to go away and just let it be done.
    Then Ahbhu came up out of there and looked at me.
    There is a scene in Kazan's Viva Zapata where a s close friend of Zapata's, Brando's, has been condemned for conspiring with the Federales. A friend that had been with Zapata since the mountains, since the revolution had begun. And they come to the but to take him to the firing squad, and Brando starts out, and his friend stops him with a hand on his arm, and he says to him with great friendship, "Emiliano, do it yourself."
    Ahbhu looked at me and I know he was just a dog, but if he could have spoken with human tongue he could not have said more eloquently than he did with a look, don't leave me with strangers.
    So I held him as they laid him down and the vet slipped the lanyard up around his right foreleg and drew it tight to bulge the vein, and I held his head and he turned it away from me as the needle went in. It was impossible to tell the moment he passed over from life to death. He simply laid his head on my hand, his eyes fluttered shut and he was gone.
    I wrapped him in a sheet with the help of the vet, and I drove home with Ahbhu on the seat beside me, just the way we had come home eleven years before. I took him out in the backyard and began digging his grave. I dug for hours, crying and mumbling to myself, talking to him in the sheet. It was a very neat, rectangular grave with smooth sides and all the loose dirt scooped out by hand.
    I laid him down in the hole and he was so tiny in there for a dog who had seemed to be so big in life, so furry, so funny. And I covered him over and when the hole was packed full of dirt I replaced the neat divot of grass I'd scalped off at the start. And that was all.
    But I couldn't send him to strangers.
    THE END
    QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
    1. Is there any significance to the reversal of the word
    god being dog? If so, what?
    2. Does the writer try to impart human qualities to a
    non-human creature? Why? Discuss anthropomorphism in the light of the phrase, "Thou art God." 3. Discuss the love the writer shows in this essay.
    Compare and contrast it with other forms of love: the love of a man for a woman, a mother for a child, a son for a mother, a botanist for plants, an ecologist for the Earth.
    Taken from "The Deathbird" by Harlan Ellison
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  5. #25

    Re: God, Theology, Dogma....

    Quote Originally Posted by eniparadoxgma
    When conversations of this sort turn this way, it becomes difficult for me to discuss much without offending anyone, regardless of intent.

    However, I will attempt to.

    My questions are to both of you, Shawn and Flippy.

    Why Christianity? Why Christ? Why the Christian God?

    Why not Judaism? Why not Moses? Why not Jehovah?

    Why not Islam? Why not Mohamed? Why not Allah?

    And if you look at all three of these, the religions of the Abrahamic tradition, as parts of or attempts at the same thing, then why choose a particular part?

    Also, why not Zoroastrianism? It was around before Christianity.

    Why not Hinduism? It was around before Christianity.

    Why not Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Satanism, Paganism, etc etc.

    There are religions out there that existed before Christianity that have their own adherents. They have their own dogmas. They have their own rituals. They even have their own prophets complete with stories of virgin births, miracles, creation, etc.

    Why believe one and discount the others? And why pick one?

    I think I know where this conversation will now go, but I feel the need to say that I find it difficult to see how people believe that their one religion (not just speaking of you guys or Christianity now, I'm speaking generally) is the "right" religion and that their religion is the only one whose prophet was really divine, the miracle stories, creation stories, tenets, and beliefs are "true" while all the other are wrong, etc. I especially find it difficult to believe about Christianity specifically because of the fact that there are older religions and traditions, etc, as well as the fact that I find the majority of Christianity to be anti-life.

    (Aside from personal revelatory experiences that made you guys "believe" that is, because adherents of every religion have their own personally revelatory experiences and it would do nothing to dispel the concept of religious pluralism or equality)

    TIA.
    Ahh see you got me mixed up with someone else. I see validity in all those things. I love any attempt by man to experience God. I don't discount any of them. Why Christianity for me? Well, according to you I am not a Christian because I don't adhere to classic teachings. I have no idea what I am. I choose to follow the teachings of Jesus because I believe God gave me a good Christian mother for a reason. What I mean by that is I believe God speaks to different people and cultures with different voices. God spoke to me through Christianity. I believe in universal reconciliation. That all man will be saved. Many pastors of the Christian faith would call me a heretic. I am comfortable with that. So, I have no idea what you would classify me as. I am just a guy who enjoys the spiritual aspect of life. I want to learn and grow...and I don't have any issue with how others want to do the same.

    Overall, Christianity has shaped me and improved me as a person. Even though I eventually branched out on my own path. According to the Bible, his word is written on believers hearts. I believe that. I follow where I believe I'm supposed to go. I believe I was put on this earth with a purpose. I hear it argued that I am spiritual because I need to believe in something higher than myself, that I am immortal etc. I suppose anything is possible. I think it's also just as possible that when I was created that desire was placed in me.

    While you have never come out and shared your beliefs I think it would be nice if you did so. It's alot easier to throw rocks at other peoples beliefs when no one knows yours (and when I say throw rocks I mean that in a light hearted way).

    I can pretty much understand any belief system besides the whole "we were created from random atoms colliding"...which is scientifically absurd. I mean tell me we were created by an alien race of monkey like beings. Tell me that we are all stuck in a sort of virtual reality and when we die we just wake up in the "real world". Shoot, tell me we are merely atoms buzzing about in the body of a fish lizard. But, the one I can't accept is some random atoms just flew around and poof life. I am a man of faith but even I don't have enough faith to believe that one.
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  6. #26
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    Re: God, Theology, Dogma....

    Quote Originally Posted by eniparadoxgma
    When conversations of this sort turn this way, it becomes difficult for me to discuss much without offending anyone, regardless of intent.

    However, I will attempt to.

    My questions are to both of you, Shawn and Flippy.

    Why Christianity? Why Christ? Why the Christian God?

    Why not Judaism? Why not Moses? Why not Jehovah?

    Why not Islam? Why not Mohamed? Why not Allah?

    And if you look at all three of these, the religions of the Abrahamic tradition, as parts of or attempts at the same thing, then why choose a particular part?

    Also, why not Zoroastrianism? It was around before Christianity.

    Why not Hinduism? It was around before Christianity.

    Why not Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Satanism, Paganism, etc etc.

    There are religions out there that existed before Christianity that have their own adherents. They have their own dogmas. They have their own rituals. They even have their own prophets complete with stories of virgin births, miracles, creation, etc.

    Why believe one and discount the others? And why pick one?

    I think I know where this conversation will now go, but I feel the need to say that I find it difficult to see how people believe that their one religion (not just speaking of you guys or Christianity now, I'm speaking generally) is the "right" religion and that their religion is the only one whose prophet was really divine, the miracle stories, creation stories, tenets, and beliefs are "true" while all the other are wrong, etc. I especially find it difficult to believe about Christianity specifically because of the fact that there are older religions and traditions, etc, as well as the fact that I find the majority of Christianity to be anti-life.

    (Aside from personal revelatory experiences that made you guys "believe" that is, because adherents of every religion have their own personally revelatory experiences and it would do nothing to dispel the concept of religious pluralism or equality)

    TIA.
    No one knows any of this stuff for certain.

    All great questions. Perhaps there's multiple Gods or one God. I'm sure there's infinite paths for us to reach God or these Gods. And generally everyone seems to be curious about the mysteries of faith.

    Sometimes the best path to faith is the difficult path. And in general I think it's the bad choices we make in life that draw us closer to God and faith. The worse the choices we make the more we need faith.

    Whatever path you choose is fine. God is in every one of us. We're made in his image. So something in all of us will help us know which path is correct.

    Christianity has its roots in the beginning of time. Nothing in Christianity conflicts with Judaism. Christianity is the fulfillment of the Jewish teachings.

    The oldest book in the Bible is The Book of Job (some believe it was written by Moses or Jacob). And I think questioning is at the core of our very being and the core of any religion. It's my favorite book in the Bible.

    Questioning is at our core. The more you question the better. It's the oldest part of Christianity. And questioning will lead to revelation.

    And when you question, you will know in your heart which religious teachings make sense. The mark of God in you will help you on the right path.

    And each person has to figure this out for themselves.

    Faith can't be taught.

    It's a mystery.

  7. #27
    Pro Bowler eniparadoxgma's Avatar
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    Re: God, Theology, Dogma....

    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn
    Ahh see you got me mixed up with someone else. I see validity in all those things. I love any attempt by man to experience God. I don't discount any of them. Why Christianity for me? Well, according to you I am not a Christian because I don't adhere to classic teachings. I have no idea what I am. I choose to follow the teachings of Jesus because I believe God gave me a good Christian mother for a reason. What I mean by that is I believe God speaks to different people and cultures with different voices. God spoke to me through Christianity. I believe in universal reconciliation. That all man will be saved. Many pastors of the Christian faith would call me a heretic. I am comfortable with that. So, I have no idea what you would classify me as. I am just a guy who enjoys the spiritual aspect of life. I want to learn and grow...and I don't have any issue with how others want to do the same.

    Overall, Christianity has shaped me and improved me as a person. Even though I eventually branched out on my own path. According to the Bible, his word is written on believers hearts. I believe that. I follow where I believe I'm supposed to go. I believe I was put on this earth with a purpose. I hear it argued that I am spiritual because I need to believe in something higher than myself, that I am immortal etc. I suppose anything is possible. I think it's also just as possible that when I was created that desire was placed in me.

    While you have never come out and shared your beliefs I think it would be nice if you did so. It's alot easier to throw rocks at other peoples beliefs when no one knows yours (and when I say throw rocks I mean that in a light hearted way).

    I can pretty much understand any belief system besides the whole "we were created from random atoms colliding"...which is scientifically absurd. I mean tell me we were created by an alien race of monkey like beings. Tell me that we are all stuck in a sort of virtual reality and when we die we just wake up in the "real world". Shoot, tell me we are merely atoms buzzing about in the body of a fish lizard. But, the one I can't accept is some random atoms just flew around and poof life. I am a man of faith but even I don't have enough faith to believe that one.
    First, let me apologize for getting you confused with someone else. It's difficult for me to reconcile people that believe themselves Christians with the notion of religious pluralism. This is because of probably everything I was taught growing up as a Southern Baptist. I think it's also a very widespread belief among Christians in general. You either believe Christ was the ONE "Son of God" etc etc or you're going to burn in hell (literally or figuratively) for all eternity.

    I have met some people that consider themselves enlightened Christians that believe that all religions are attempts at the same thing. I just wasn't aware you both were of that type.

    Second, I'm not attempting to throw rocks at anyone's beliefs here. I'm being curious and asking questions. I hope that we can continue the conversation without anyone believing anyone else is attempting to bash their beliefs or what not. It is not my intention to ridicule anyone else's faith. However, I believe in being open and honest to the point of being blunt. I hope this doesn't bother anyone.

    I really don't see the point of classifying/categorizing people when it comes to this kind of thing unless they're really a fundamentalist of a particular religion and don't believe in religious pluralism.

    Let me think about what I might want to say about my own views as well as the atoms in the void thing.
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  8. #28

    Re: God, Theology, Dogma....

    Quote Originally Posted by eniparadoxgma
    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn
    Ahh see you got me mixed up with someone else. I see validity in all those things. I love any attempt by man to experience God. I don't discount any of them. Why Christianity for me? Well, according to you I am not a Christian because I don't adhere to classic teachings. I have no idea what I am. I choose to follow the teachings of Jesus because I believe God gave me a good Christian mother for a reason. What I mean by that is I believe God speaks to different people and cultures with different voices. God spoke to me through Christianity. I believe in universal reconciliation. That all man will be saved. Many pastors of the Christian faith would call me a heretic. I am comfortable with that. So, I have no idea what you would classify me as. I am just a guy who enjoys the spiritual aspect of life. I want to learn and grow...and I don't have any issue with how others want to do the same.

    Overall, Christianity has shaped me and improved me as a person. Even though I eventually branched out on my own path. According to the Bible, his word is written on believers hearts. I believe that. I follow where I believe I'm supposed to go. I believe I was put on this earth with a purpose. I hear it argued that I am spiritual because I need to believe in something higher than myself, that I am immortal etc. I suppose anything is possible. I think it's also just as possible that when I was created that desire was placed in me.

    While you have never come out and shared your beliefs I think it would be nice if you did so. It's alot easier to throw rocks at other peoples beliefs when no one knows yours (and when I say throw rocks I mean that in a light hearted way).

    I can pretty much understand any belief system besides the whole "we were created from random atoms colliding"...which is scientifically absurd. I mean tell me we were created by an alien race of monkey like beings. Tell me that we are all stuck in a sort of virtual reality and when we die we just wake up in the "real world". Shoot, tell me we are merely atoms buzzing about in the body of a fish lizard. But, the one I can't accept is some random atoms just flew around and poof life. I am a man of faith but even I don't have enough faith to believe that one.
    First, let me apologize for getting you confused with someone else. It's difficult for me to reconcile people that believe themselves Christians with the notion of religious pluralism. This is because of probably everything I was taught growing up as a Southern Baptist. I think it's also a very widespread belief among Christians in general. You either believe Christ was the ONE "Son of God" etc etc or you're going to burn in hell (literally or figuratively) for all eternity.

    I have met some people that consider themselves enlightened Christians that believe that all religions are attempts at the same thing. I just wasn't aware you both were of that type.

    Second, I'm not attempting to throw rocks at anyone's beliefs here. I'm being curious and asking questions. I hope that we can continue the conversation without anyone believing anyone else is attempting to bash their beliefs or what not. It is not my intention to ridicule anyone else's faith. However, I believe in being open and honest to the point of being blunt. I hope this doesn't bother anyone.

    I really don't see the point of classifying/categorizing people when it comes to this kind of thing unless they're really a fundamentalist of a particular religion and don't believe in religious pluralism.

    Let me think about what I might want to say about my own views as well as the atoms in the void thing.
    I look foward to it. And what I mean by the comment is if we are discussing my beliefs its good to know where you fall on these issues. I am truly curious. I have no idea where you stand on this stuff. I have met those who are anti-religion but spiritual. I have met those who are atheists but see value in religion from a social stand point. I have met those comfortable saying "I just don't know and I'm ok with that". I have also met militant atheists who are as fundamentalist in their beliefs or lack there of than the belief systems they belittle.

    You probably didn't know about my particular belief system because we haven't really debated religion in years. The last one was at the Trib. I had very different views then. I had views given to me. I hung onto belief systems that made little sense to me. My beliefs are evolving and I'm sure they will continue to do so. And like I said before I don't know what to call myself. I do follow the teachings of Christ. But, I don't follow the interpretations of these scriptures by the Christian majority. I think those that believe in universal reconciliation have very strong scriptural support for their beliefs. I guess that's where I am now...but I don't claim to have the answers. I'm just a man who looks for truth and a little peace.
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  9. #29
    Pro Bowler eniparadoxgma's Avatar
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    Re: God, Theology, Dogma....

    (Fwiw, a lot of this is speaking specifically of the three religions of the Abrahamic tradition: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism)

    I think we are human and can only see things from our own human perspective. Because of this, mankind has traditionally created a conception of the divine that is man-like. During the evolution of human consciousness we were confronted with the knowledge of our own individual deaths. We, as a species, have the unique ability to have intimate knowledge of our own deaths. Also, I think that reason and rationality are only within the realm of man, and because of this we have the ability to ask questions that we can't answer. Reason, rationality, and the knowledge of our own impending demises set us apart from the other animals and gave us worry where there was none before. Because of these things, (fear and confusion in the face of an uncaring world/universe), we invented a man-like big brother in the sky we called "God" to give us something to believe in...a reason for our creation, someone that would always hear us/see us, protect us, would punish those we were incapable of punishing, etc. Then because of death we invented concepts such as the afterlife and reincarnation because without these we have to come to grips with our own personal non-existence. How can a (life)form understand it's own non-being (death)? Hence heaven etc. Why go on at all if there is no outside purpose and reason for our existence? Hence religion, etc. Different religions confront these issues in different ways but are all attempts to deal with the same thing. I do, however, find some more viable than others.

    In my opinion, there is no such thing as an objective standard of value. However, its in the interests of life to protect and prolong life. That which is wants to be what it is and continue being what it is. Hence, the (real) reason (IMO) for most commandments, taboos, the concept of "the sanctity of life" etc is self interest. Biologically determined self interest.

    However, in the absence of any real divine creator being with particular standards, values, and laws to pass down mankind is lost in what Nietzsche described eloquently in that parable "The Madman" as the deep abyss, wandering in the void, etc. We are as planets unchained from our sun. It would seem that meaninglessness and purposelessness would rule the day. However, as Nietzsche (along with most of the existentialists and others) seem to believe (or have believed) this is actually not a cause for despair. It's a cause for joy. We, as a species, can be free for the first time in a unique way. We can reevaluate our morals, laws, and values, understand that we are the creators of our own destiny, and forge ahead with humanistic values that don't rely on superstitions, dogmas, or supreme beings. As with the existentialist credo (at least to Sartre): "Existence precedes essence". We are not predetermined at birth to be any specific thing other than biologically human. We create ourselves during our lives and have no one to answer to or blame for any and everything other than ourselves.

    Where is "divinity" in all of this? Where is that which people use the word "God" to describe at in my view? In my personal opinion, the universe is divine and if anything should be called "God" that's it. Infinity, the universe, and those things which I believe are the true "revelations": the law of averages, the shape of the bell curve, nature, are divine. So I'm an atheist in regards to creator beings, but I'm a pantheist when it comes to divinity. However, I don't think everything divine. I think the general course of things is divine: the endless cycles of birth, growth, maturity, death that you find in everything from an idea to a man to a star, etc etc.

    I myself have touched what I consider "divinity" or "God" many times, and now have the ability to do it pretty much at will. It just takes the right mind state and some time for thought IMO. I see it as the heartbeat of the entire universe. I can find or see the "face of God" in mundane everyday things, and that's where Zen Buddhism kind of kicks in for me. It's the ability to transcend all and any particular situations and participate in the divine anywhere at anytime.

    This is one of the reasons I find the whole anthropomorphic creator God in the heavens watching everyone and throwing out commandments so limiting. In my opinion, the universe/divinity is much too large a concept to be encapsulated by something like an all powerful dude telling everyone what to do. Why the hell would God be man-like? I don't see humans as some super-awesome species that is on some elevated plane in comparison to other lifeforms. In a lot of ways I see humans as beneath most other lifeforms. To see the lion as it hunts and compare it to racism, bigotry, sexism, war, religious persecution, cold-blooded murder, etc etc etc would help to get my point across. Point being, there's no reason for some kind of divine being to be man-like other than we're the ones writing the books. Self-interest and a touch of self-importance...

    I do think humans have the capacity to participate in the divine and be on par with any other lifeform. I see it exemplified in Jesus' acts of kindness, Camus' bluntness, Bosch's paintings, Beethoven's music, etc etc. I just think we hold ourselves back with superstitions and myths that have long since lost their usefulness.

    And for the sake of writing a thesis here, I'll stop. If you have any questions I'll be happy to field 'em. Also, I'm half asleep so this is probably all over the place. Oh well.
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  10. #30

    Re: God, Theology, Dogma....

    Interesting read and certainly a viable alternative. I am curious though. Do you have any beliefs on the origin of intelligent life?
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