Religion [Moved from General 26/03/07]

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Which doctrine are your religious beliefs closest to?

Atheism
138
47%
Agnosticism
53
18%
Christianity
58
20%
Islam
4
1%
Other Religion (explain)
9
3%
Other Unique Viewpoint (explain)
24
8%
Judaism
5
2%
Buddhism
2
1%
 
Total votes: 293

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Andrew
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Postby Andrew » Wed Jan 31, 2007 4:34 pm UTC

ulnevets wrote:in a sense, the athiest worldview is far more inspiring and productive. ...

I agree, and I'd add that an atheist who does something nice is doing it because they're a nice person. A Christian who does something nice is being entirely selfish, at least, he is for all I know. Not very inspiring.

I use Christian as an example purely because I know more about it than other religions and because a large number of them repeatedly equate Christianity (or religion) with morality. That outlook really annoys me, because I subscribe to the Kryten Philosophy:
INQUISITOR: But surely your life is replete with good works. There can be few individuals who have lived a more selfless life.
KRYTEN: But I am programmed to live unselfishly. And therefore, any good works I do come not out of fine motives but as a result of a series of binary commands I am compelled to obey.
INQUISITOR: Well then, how can any mechanical justify himself?
KRYTEN: Perhaps only if he attempted to break his programming and conduct his life according to a set of values he arrived at independently.
I don't see how anyone can claim to be a moral person if they live their lives blindly and unquestioningly obeying a series of command(ment)s to get into heaven, silicon or otherwise. But from the Christian point of view, morality is absolute and defined by God, and so you can't behave morally unless you do exactly what God says.

I think that's a pretty stupid point of view. I mean, even if there is an all-powerful being that created the universe, what gives him that authority? Why should I even expect him to be a better person than I am? At least I didn't create a world full of suffering.

I'm going on a bit of a rant here, so I'll stop now. It just riles me when people make blind and unquestioning faith out to be a virtue. It's not. It's a failing. Grow up.

This is part of why I'm an atheist, though... It's not so much that I don't think there's a god as it is that I don't think the question of Is There A God is even reasonable. As Neil Gaiman asks in one of his books, "what is a god?" Is it a creator, a judge, or a powerful being? Is it two or all of those things? Does it have to be nice to qualify?

I have no answer to those questions, and I think it's the wrong way to go about things. Don't define words and then try to see if such objects exist. Look and see what things do exist and then name them. If I see a powerful being or a creator, I'll name it then, or ask it what it's name is. But I think all religions come from humans' need for a meaning, and maybe for a god. I'm pretty convinced they don't come from enlightened observation and deduction, so I don't believe them.

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Postby Lenale » Wed Jan 31, 2007 4:44 pm UTC

Very quickly, because I have a dinner date in fifteen minutes (the Ladies' Club for Physics, Astronomy, Mathematics and CS students exists exactly 3.14 years today, so it's our pi-es natalis, and I'm president, so I kind of have to go, and yes, I'm only saying this to look cool, sorry).

Andrew wrote:I'm going on a bit of a rant here, so I'll stop now. It just riles me when people make blind and unquestioning faith out to be a virtue. It's not. It's a failing. Grow up.


This is not meant personally against you (honestly), but it kind of irks me when people say "blind and unquestioning". Since I'm kind of in the "scene", I -think- I know more Catholics than those people do, and none, I repeat none, are unquestioning. I'm studying for a degree in "critical and questioning", and I apply that to almost everything in my life (except my parents, since that wouldn't make anyone happy). I'm not a big exception.

end(rant);
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Postby The Sleeping Tyrant » Wed Jan 31, 2007 4:47 pm UTC

I believe in something. I don't know what it is and in the end an exact definition is pointless. Is it omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent? Maybe not, but it's definately powerful enough to suffice. In fact, I know absolutely nothing about this higher being, because it is beyond my senses and powers of comprehension.

Is there an afterlife? Maybe. I hope there is and that this being finds me worthy of going there. If there isn't, no big loss. I live my life in a way that fulfills me and not some higher will. If that doesn't please it in the end, oh well.


@ Andrew: You make it sound like Christians can't be genuinely nice people, or that athiests can't have selfish motives for being nice. Both of which are fallacies.




Lenale wrote:This is not meant personally against you (honestly), but it kind of irks me when people say "blind and unquestioning". Since I'm kind of in the "scene", I -think- I know more Catholics than those people do, and none, I repeat none, are unquestioning.



That's funny, because I know a good number of unquestioning Catholics. In fact, there was one in my religion class last year. He refused to even consider any of the philosophies or ideas put forth by our teacher. His stance was "This is what I was taught, this is right! Everything you're saying is wrong! Heathen!"
Last edited by The Sleeping Tyrant on Wed Jan 31, 2007 4:51 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby thefiddler » Wed Jan 31, 2007 4:55 pm UTC

The Sleeping Tyrant wrote:That's funny, because I know a good number of unquestioning Catholics. In fact, there was one in my religion class last year. He refused to even consider any of the philosophies or ideas put forth by our teacher. His stance was "This is what I was taught, this is right! Everything you're saying is wrong! Heathen!"

Not that I'm Catholic, or anything...
But I've always questioned everything. Even when I was little, I questioned the existence of God. (I still do.)

Growing up in a Christian home kept me Christian, but I feel I'm old enough to choose for myself instead of being led from one conclusion to another.

If I hadn't been raised in a Christian household, I know that I would be atheist. How could I not, after seeing what is happening around me?

Anyway, people like the one you described, TST, are close-minded, impractical, and should not be the one for whom you base your judgment of all Christians or Catholics on. :(

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Postby The Sleeping Tyrant » Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:06 pm UTC

thefiddler wrote:
The Sleeping Tyrant wrote:That's funny, because I know a good number of unquestioning Catholics. In fact, there was one in my religion class last year. He refused to even consider any of the philosophies or ideas put forth by our teacher. His stance was "This is what I was taught, this is right! Everything you're saying is wrong! Heathen!"

Anyway, people like the one you described, TST, are close-minded, impractical, and should not be the one for whom you base your judgment of all Christians or Catholics on. :(


I never said all Christians are like that; I just said there are a good number.
I prefer to judge on a person by person basis anyway.

A good number is maybe 30. Out of >1000 Christians I know.

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Postby Jesse » Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:46 pm UTC

Atheist, rather vocally.

1. I believe it's entirely ridiculous and illogical to believe in God. I have no need for answers to every question, and that's what God is, an answer to a question.

2. Richard Dawson's charity. Also I have constant discussions and meetings with local Jehovah's Witnesses and some non-denominational Christians. They're fairly intelligent and enjoyable discussions.

3. Again Richard Dawson, the man whose books finally pushed me off the cliff from hiding agnostic to open atheist.

I was brought up in a Catholic household and, at the age of ten, refused my confirmation. I was still in Catholic schools until I was sixteen and I hated it. I'm not getting too far into this as I still have problems. It was all about religion as control and damn them for still having enough control over me to make me feel guilty about my atheism.

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Postby Peshmerga » Wed Jan 31, 2007 7:02 pm UTC

I am of the completely honest opinion that my life can only be changed by me. If my life is the sole meaning in all I know, and the needs and wants that hunger to be sated are indeed chemical, I cannot accept a god in the traditional sense.

However, I do believe that my god are indeed the forces of the universe; gravity, light, energy, etc. They are the only things that limit me and control my existence, so I am bound to their laws. I have accepted these forces into my heart, so I suppose that if a heaven does exist, I will be in it after I die.

I slightly believe (or rather, really hope) that after death, I will continue life as something else. Even if I were somehow a grain of sand, or an electron. It's hard to imagine a blackness so black that there's not even black, only nothing.
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Postby Lani » Wed Jan 31, 2007 7:04 pm UTC

I don't have to time to read the entire thread (very short break at work, and my computer isn't working at home :(), but here's me:

I was raised uberChristian, and believed it whole-heartedly for 14 years. If I'd continued in that vein, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have sought to become a minister or something like that.

A big kablooie kind of event happened when I was 14, and forced me to evaluate why I believed what I did on all levels. When I got to religion, I realized I had no actual empirical reason to believe other than the fact that I had been told too all my life, and it's a pretty idea. So over two years, I transitioned into the loveable atheist I am today!

To be most accurate though, I'd have to say I'm a secular Buddhist - I practice meditation, and hold compassion to be the highest source of good within a person. I'd call myself a "spiritual" person even though I don't believe in a "spirit" in that I try to develop that within myself.

As far as why not believe in a God, my own experiences have given zero evidence of one/many/whatever. Sure, it's probably impossible to conclusively prove it one way or the other, but that doesn't mean it's equal probability in either direction. There's about as much chance for a god/s as there is for the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Invisible Pink Unicorns to rule the universe.
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Postby Air Gear » Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:14 pm UTC

Probability argument ignostic who leans a little further toward athiest daily here. Why doesn't God even matter? Well, consider the multiplicity of religions and exactly how everybody's equally stuck on their faiths, even though said faiths have been processed through countless manipulative leaders who wanted to turn whatever philosophy into exactly what they wanted. Retranslations, rewriting, whatever...if there's any sort of god, we're so far off it doesn't even matter. I could go on for pages, but I figure that'll be the short version...basically, though, a lot of this "religion" stuff is psych + sociology + neurobiology. Anyone else read about psilocybin leading to "religious experiences" in religious people?

Oh yeah, and if there is some sort of god or set of gods, given that the universe we're in right now has order and logic to it...it's safe to assume he's/they're not of the "illogical douche" sort of picture painted by entirely too many religions. Any gods would have to understand where we're all coming from...

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Postby Peshmerga » Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:25 pm UTC

Actually I can't remember a point in my life when I did believe in God. To be honest, the fact that he doesn't exist is completely academic (to me).

It's incredibly weak to hide behind the forces of God as an excuse because you're too lazy to do anything for yourself. No one should ever blame "evil" for things in their life, only themselves.
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Postby narfanator » Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:36 pm UTC

Amalgamation of encountered wisdom.

Faith is where you stop asking why; but that doesn't necessarily mean faith in a god-like being. There only a few logical reasons to have faith, and all of those are logical extrapolations from illogical things - Belief in a god comforts some people, so it is logical for them to believe in a god. Not continuing to ask "Why?" so you can get on with life is again logical given and initial emotional state/reactions.

I found Kierkegaard compelling in his argument that the inherent impossibility of specifically Christian faith (namely, that the infinite (God) can become finite (Jesus)) is part of the point; faith is supposed to happen inspite of logical impossibilities.

For me? Metaphysics is silly, usually. Be concerned with the here and now, and most religions have something worth listening to on this matter, even if it's buried. Always seemed very, very silly to me to do good becuase of a God and some divine judgement than, well, becuase it's good.

As for my beleifs? I feel as though there is a benevelont force mixing the details, but this could just be me looking on the bright side of things. I do tend to find that some string of events, whether good or bad, have outcomes I am happy with. It also helps that there have been no large, horrible tradgedies in my life, only small ones.

I also keep picturing the afterlife as a long, illuminating walk on the beach with some profoundly wise and knowing entity. After that.. feels like that's when things are quiet.

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Postby Lenale » Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:39 pm UTC

As a thought experiment, how would you react if I said "I couldn't be an atheist, no-one should be egotistical and cold-hearted'? (For the record, I'm not saying it... and there isn't a statement about atheists in that sentence.)

I understand that for agnosts there's little difference between God and his fan club, but hearing so much generalizing besides the subject (why or why not you believe in God) is really rather upsetting for the local token member of said fan club :/
Physics is like sex. It might give some practical results, but that's not why we do it.

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Postby Fluff » Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:48 pm UTC

I base all of my worldviews purely on logic and scientific evidence. I am a firm believer in the scientific method.

Frankly, I think religion is a crock of shit and nowt more than a relic from primitive times, when lives were based on fear and emotion. I do not require a religious doctrine to tell me that my life will be happier if I 'do unto others as I would have them do unto me.' - That is obvious.

It is also clear to me that blind faith obstructs the truth while claiming to seek it. That to me is not only daft, but dishonest.


I trust the results that I can reproduce myself by experiment.





Peshmerga wrote:It's incredibly weak to hide behind the forces of God as an excuse because you're too lazy to do anything for yourself. No one should ever blame "evil" for things in their life, only themselves.



I agree wholeheartedly.

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Postby Narsil » Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:02 pm UTC

Basically, I don't believe that there is a god. You are pretty much in charge of your own morals, and the only code is to not let your morals interfere with those of others, and help them when you can.

I also believe that it's not what you believe, it's that you believe. If you are able to not be a sheep, and to formulate your own thoughts about what is right and wrong and stick to them while managing to not bother others about it, you're as perfect as any god could ask of you.

If there was a god (yes I'm pulling an OJ here), pretty much anyone could get into heaven for simply doing the above. People who use the "I'm gonna believe in god because some guy told me it's safer than not believing in a god" argument are weak. They would not get into heaven. They would get put back on earth to try again.

And one final thing, if there was a god, praying would be frowned upon. I mean, come on. A god would be a wee bit smarter that you, have just a bit more experience, and wouldn't let corruption get in the way of judgment. That god would have a better plan for the universe than you.

My ideal god would not do miracles. You want little Timmy's cancer cured? Get off the damn couch, go to school, and become a doctor so you can learn how.

At least, that's how I'd run things if I were god.

But if I were god, I wouldn't be doing very much, would I? I wouldn't talk to people, interfere with there lives, or tell them what to believe or what orifices they can/cannot sexually interact with and when. Thus, I submit to you a hypothesis.

God does not do anything, therefore it is irrelevant weather or not one exists.

Or maybe:

To our perception and abilities to detect, god does not do anything. Therefore it is irrelevant weather or not it exists because if he does, our input to him is ignored and he continues to behave in the same way regardless if we believe in it or not.
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Postby Judas Maccabeus » Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:18 pm UTC

I'm very Catholic, feeling that it's perfectly legitimate (note I didn't say reasonable--scientific reason, in my view, is wonderful as far as the physical workings of the universe are concerned, but it ends there. If any reason is to be involved in religion, it must extend from points of faith and thus not necessarily connected to earthly reason.) to believe any way when proof is lacking any way.

I don't believe because of hope in heaven or anything like that. I'd consider an eternal nothingness after death quite acceptable (after all, I couldn't feel boredom :D ), but that's just not what I think happens. I don't believe because there's any proof for God, at least that I have access to. I believe because I think that's correct, not because of reason or strong emotion.

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Postby Toeofdoom » Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:21 pm UTC

^^Well, In a number of books and games, there are gods that get their power from prayer >.> but they are kinda more obviously there. But I mostly agree, I just wouldnt rule out the existence of some form of god.
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Postby Vandole » Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:21 pm UTC

I was raised ignostic (Whether or not a deity or deities exist is irrelevant and thus ignored) but my relatives on my father's side are devout Christians. (My grandfather is a retired anglican minister, and my grand-aunt gave me a bible)

As for what I am now, I'm not exactly sure. I think I'm best described as a pagan deist; I believe that there are two deities, one male and one female, equal in power, and also that they do not interfere with human life. I was at one point an atheist, but I found it made me feel insignificant.

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Postby Toeofdoom » Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:27 pm UTC

Heh... yeah, my parents families are all catholic, and my parents themselves. My parents reckon i can choose my own religion or whatever, but I think i'll specifically not bring up the subject around other relatives.
Hawknc wrote:Gotta love our political choices here - you can pick the unionised socially conservative party, or the free-market even more socially conservative party. Oh who to vote for…I don't know, I think I'll just flip a coin and hope it explodes and kills me.

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Postby Narsil » Thu Feb 01, 2007 12:02 am UTC

Vandole wrote:I was at one point an atheist, but I found it made me feel insignificant.

Actually you're quite significant. If there isn't a god, no one has a plan or agenda for you. You are the complete and utter master of your own destiny. You can do literally anything you want if you put your mind to it.
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Postby Peshmerga » Thu Feb 01, 2007 12:08 am UTC

Exactly; I still aspire everyday to fulfill the day's potential. I fail miserably, but I keep trying!
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Postby nknezek » Thu Feb 01, 2007 12:26 am UTC

Tractor wrote:how can I tell that anything exists? I perceive a body, but perhaps it's just a hallucination or a dream. How can I tell that even fundamental "truths" are true? Can it even be told for sure that consciousness exists?

As for faith vs. feeling, I believe the tone of my explanation gives that away. Faith seems like a silly concept when it comes to the universe, and I have logic-ed most of the universe away anyhow.


It's interesting. I came to the same conclusion a while back: that I could be imagining everything, or something else could be feeding my consciousness input, and that, therefore, everything is impossible to know for sure, and I should just forget everything and live.
However, this is contradicted by logic itself, specifically, Occam's Razor, which states that the simplest explanation is the most likely. In my opinion, having the world exist and be the way we perceieve it is more simple than thinking up random ways that we could NOT be percieving it correctly or completely.
Also, in everything in life, nothing can be known for certain. There can be a LOT of proof and evidence that it is one way, but nobody's ever really certain it's a FACT (even gravity and the laws of motion are still just theories).

Anyway, on to my real point: I find that if you start your logic from the point that YOU exist, and the way YOU percieve things, you end up at a dead-end. You can't know anything for certain.
If, however, you assume that the world around you exists and work from there, it becomes logically sound that SOMETHING had to cause it to start or at least that it had to have a beginning (the steady-state universe is pretty much disproved by now, i think)
That something is commonly called god in english and a few other languages. It/he is also known as Allah, Yaweh, and other names in different cultures.

In my opionion He/It is interpreted/revealed differently around the world, based on culture, custom, and time period, and these interpretations are all valid, but directed towards different audiences.
In Christianity, the Bible is a prime example. It was and excellent guide when it was written and still is today, it just needs interpretation and thought about it's authors and audiences to discover the meaning.

Anyway, to sum it up, Viewing extremely unlikely possibilities as valid invalidates any discussion or any progress in life, and so is irrelevant. If you start a logical process based on your perceptions as true (that the world exists), you arrive at the fact that something had to set it in motion, and this something is known as god.

As for the rest, It is beyond my comprehension/understanding for now, and most likely for this lifetime, but I will definitely not stop questioning or trying to figure it out. as Einstein said "Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

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Postby Fluff » Thu Feb 01, 2007 12:47 am UTC

Vandole wrote: I was at one point an atheist, but I found it made me feel insignificant.


What's wrong with that?

So you are a tiny speck in the cosmos. You evolved over billions upon billions of years, from sub-atomic particles to atoms, to stars, molecules, planets, bacteria, dinosaurs, and eventually here you are on this tiny speck circling our own star. So you are alone, and so are the rest of us. We are together in our alone-ness. You came from generations, and generations will carry on after you have passed. We are insignificant in comparison with the universe, and yet we are a part of it. We might be alone in the universe, or we might not. At any rate, here we are observing it, questioning it, interacting and living in it. Today, not in some imaginary afterlife. What is insignificant about that?

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Postby Lani » Thu Feb 01, 2007 12:51 am UTC

I do believe this is appropriate:


There Is No God
by Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette is the taller, louder half of the magic and comedy act Penn and Teller. He is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and has lectured at Oxford and MIT. Penn has co-authored three best-selling books and is executive producer of the documentary film The Aristocrats.


Morning Edition, November 21, 2005 · I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond Atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy -- you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?
So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The Atheism part is easy.
But, this "This I Believe" thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."
Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.
Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.
Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.
Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.
Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.
- Lani



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Postby ulnevets » Thu Feb 01, 2007 12:59 am UTC

Vandole wrote:I was at one point an atheist, but I found it made me feel insignificant.

i wish I were able to believe something for its convenience rather than its truth.

on the basis of faith, anything at all could be claimed, and nothing would be certain. it is either faith or science. those who claim to believe both are deceiving themselves--they are saying that energy and matter must always be conserved, but also that there exists a man who can make bread and fish and wine out of whatever.

when it comes down to faith or science, i look at my watch, laptop, car, and glasses, and it really is no competition. blind faith never produced any results for me. religion and science are exclusive.

EDIT: might i also add that religion brings war and hate while science has (for the most part) done us good. surely the members of this fora must know that.

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Postby nknezek » Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:11 am UTC

Narsil wrote:...And one final thing, if there was a god, praying would be frowned upon. I mean, come on. A god would be a wee bit smarter that you, have just a bit more experience, and wouldn't let corruption get in the way of judgment. That god would have a better plan for the universe than you.

My ideal god would not do miracles. You want little Timmy's cancer cured? Get off the damn couch, go to school, and become a doctor so you can learn how.
...
To our perception and abilities to detect, god does not do anything. Therefore it is irrelevant weather or not it exists because if he does, our input to him is ignored and he continues to behave in the same way regardless if we believe in it or not.



I brought the point about praying up in my confirmation classes, and the answer I got was quite interesting. According to Catholic doctrine, praying is more for you to think about the points you are bringing up and listening to God's answers than it is for you to tell God what you want. It is time to spend with God, reflecting, rather then dictating.

I also believe that miracles are not encountered very often, if ever. God, in my opinion, works through the laws an rules that he set up in this universe. I believe this is also much more impressive, as it means he set everything up to happen automatically rather than just creating and meddling, and fixing as he sees fit.

I'm not sure where I stand on the point that God does not care whether we believe or not, but I know that I want to know whether he exists or not. It's human curiosity.

-Nick

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Postby Rat » Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:46 am UTC

nknezek wrote:
Narsil wrote:...And one final thing, if there was a god, praying would be frowned upon. I mean, come on. A god would be a wee bit smarter that you, have just a bit more experience, and wouldn't let corruption get in the way of judgment. That god would have a better plan for the universe than you.

My ideal god would not do miracles. You want little Timmy's cancer cured? Get off the damn couch, go to school, and become a doctor so you can learn how.
...
To our perception and abilities to detect, god does not do anything. Therefore it is irrelevant weather or not it exists because if he does, our input to him is ignored and he continues to behave in the same way regardless if we believe in it or not.



I brought the point about praying up in my confirmation classes, and the answer I got was quite interesting. According to Catholic doctrine, praying is more for you to think about the points you are bringing up and listening to God's answers than it is for you to tell God what you want. It is time to spend with God, reflecting, rather then dictating.

I also believe that miracles are not encountered very often, if ever. God, in my opinion, works through the laws an rules that he set up in this universe. I believe this is also much more impressive, as it means he set everything up to happen automatically rather than just creating and meddling, and fixing as he sees fit.

I'm not sure where I stand on the point that God does not care whether we believe or not, but I know that I want to know whether he exists or not. It's human curiosity.

-Nick


so if god is so powerful and has set up everything to happen and knows whats going to happen.. why did he make us in the first place? boredom? it sounds like he set up some huge game of dominoes...

he didn't need to create humanity... it's not like we should thank him for making us... he already knew we'd be thankful? maybe he's an attention whore and wants reassurance?

fudge it... i still dont believe...

and that miracle thing... here, heres one of the stories my mom has told me:

some while ago she had lot's of back troubles... maybe while she was pregnant with me? (oh yeah im a gift from god too, she prayed for me! :roll: )... anyway, she told me about how her back went out and she couldnt move, and then.. then she heard GOD tell her to "get up jane"... "have faith and everything will be ok"... and then she told me "my back would hurt so bad and i would cry myself to sleep and it didnt stop hurting! and i would pray to god and then after a few weeks i was okay again!" wtf?! god did this FOR you?

PRAISE THE LORD

he also told her to stop drinking alcohol, no shit, she only drinks nonalcoholic beverages now... i guess thats good but still.. she was wasted when god told her this...

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Postby Vandole » Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:00 am UTC

Fluff wrote:So you are a tiny speck in the cosmos.
...
What is insignificant about that?

It's just that... when I started to really think about atheism, I became heavily depressed. I just didn't see a reason to live life, going through the daily routine, even caring about morality, if there weren't some kind of cosmic witness to it. What I mean is, you will live your life and leave no impression upon the world but your decaying remains and the people you touch. Eventually the people you affect will all die too, and it will be as if you never existed. What's the point of living if it's all meaningless?

I didn't know. But I believed there had to be a point to living, so I used that to "disprove" atheism to myself.

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Postby Aoeniac » Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:00 am UTC

You could say I am an atheist... in the sense that I'm definitely not a theist. Don't go to church, don't have a holy book or scriptures, don't have a religious authority.

But I voted for agnostic, because I don't flat out deny the possibility of a god or gods like a very strong atheist would. Some people like to make a distinction between weak atheists being what we normally call agnostics and strong atheists being what we normally call atheists and agnostics being something altogether different... but honestly it's all just terminology.

Basically, the extent of my religious belief is "Who cares? I'm here, I live my life."

That being said, my ideal god is a power who does nothing for you and asks nothing in return.

Vandole wrote:
Fluff wrote:So you are a tiny speck in the cosmos.
...
What is insignificant about that?

It's just that... when I started to really think about atheism, I became heavily depressed. I just didn't see a reason to live life, going through the daily routine, even caring about morality, if there weren't some kind of cosmic witness to it. What I mean is, you will live your life and leave no impression upon the world but your decaying remains and the people you touch. Eventually the people you affect will all die too, and it will be as if you never existed. What's the point of living if it's all meaningless?

I didn't know. But I believed there had to be a point to living, so I used that to "disprove" atheism to myself.


Well my life retains its meaning. I think it just means you have weak personal values when you need a "cosmic witness" to be keeping a tally of your deeds in order for you to live life and exercise high moral standards. That is a pretty rude thing for me to say but I can only hope you appreciate honesty even if you don't agree with it.
First of all it doesn't matter to me if my impact on the greater scheme of things isn't even felt; I'll be dead before I have to deal with that. Second of all, I don't even agree with that to begin with. You used the example of your actions only leaving your dead body and the people you interacted with. Won't those people interact with other people? They didn't have to have learned anything from you in order to have been influenced by you, in any manner of small ways. In fact, it's probably the sum of all those miniscule interactions with all the many people and things in each of our lives that our ultimate actions are decided by.
Whether you realize it or not, everything you do has some manner of impact on everbody around you, even if it's so small as being in their peripheral vision, you still caused something in their life. Does it matter if nobody remembers you when you're gone? Even if you worked as a fast food server, you helped feed people. They're not going to remember you for it, but you had an impact on their lives and their subsequent actions will have been contributed to, if only minutely, by you. Even if you die early or end up a crazy bum on the street, you get to die having had the opportunity to live.
Even if you have the most fatalistic outlook on life, that everything is already predetermined by the speed and direction of every atom in the universe and how they will interact, if your atoms weren't there then even the ultimate outcome would be somewhat different.

You matter. But why should that even matter? Whether or not my life has any meaning isn't going to stop me from doing what I do and being happy while I do it. Isn't being happy, or at least content, the only thing that really matters during your time in this existence?

As far as I'm concerned, the only way people who choose to be religious can justify their faith is that they are hoping for an afterlife. Which is all well and good, I'm certainly not going to tell you there can't possibly be an afterlife, and I'm most certainly not going to tell you not to live your life the way you want to. However, I'm not really too concerned about what happens to me after I die. Whether I cease to exist, end up in paradise or rot in damnation, I'll have gotten to die having made the most of my life.
Last edited by Aoeniac on Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:22 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Air Gear » Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:06 am UTC

ulnevets wrote:
Vandole wrote:I was at one point an atheist, but I found it made me feel insignificant.

i wish I were able to believe something for its convenience rather than its truth.


I sure as hell don't. It's exceptionally hard to put up with actually figuring things out since it requires so damn much analysis and so much having your thoughts and feelings as transient entities...but it's like if ya don't do that, well, hey...welcome to being capable of so many of the horrors that people seem to enjoy pulling off so often.

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Postby nknezek » Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:40 am UTC

Rat wrote:so if god is so powerful and has set up everything to happen and knows whats going to happen.. why did he make us in the first place? boredom? it sounds like he set up some huge game of dominoes...

he didn't need to create humanity... it's not like we should thank him for making us... he already knew we'd be thankful? maybe he's an attention whore and wants reassurance?


It could be for any variety of reasons. It could be just a game, or just for his amusement. I think the most likely reason is the same for our actions, that it is possible and he wanted to do it. But I really don't know. and probably never will.
I AM glad that he made me, and thankful for it. I'm a lot happier that I am alive and able to experience this world that I would be if I weren't here. To have a comfortable life and everything else is nice too, but I glad just to be able to experience life, even for such a short time, and even if there is nothing afterwards.

Also, yes, maybe he is an attention whore, and wants reassurance, but I personally don't see someone like that as able or willing to create something like this universe. Plus, why doesn't he PROVE he exists if he wants all the attention and worship. He'd sure get a lot more of it that way.

Rat wrote:and that miracle thing... here, heres one of the stories my mom has told me:

some while ago she had lot's of back troubles... maybe while she was pregnant with me? (oh yeah im a gift from god too, she prayed for me! :roll: )... anyway, she told me about how her back went out and she couldnt move, and then.. then she heard GOD tell her to "get up jane"... "have faith and everything will be ok"... and then she told me "my back would hurt so bad and i would cry myself to sleep and it didnt stop hurting! and i would pray to god and then after a few weeks i was okay again!" wtf?! god did this FOR you?

PRAISE THE LORD

he also told her to stop drinking alcohol, no shit, she only drinks nonalcoholic beverages now... i guess thats good but still.. she was wasted when god told her this...


About that, I really don't know. I'm still trying to figure things out. Like I said, I don't believe miracles happen often, and I don't believe God meddles in the laws or rules of this universe very often, if at all.
As to why he allows this to happen, I think it is because there cannot be any white without black, no good without bad, no light without dark. Everything is defined by it's antithesis. We adapt remarkably quickly, to both good and bad. If everything were perfect, we'd still find something to complain about, this way, people appreciate what they DO have, through what they don't have. It doesn't make it any better, and I completely understand where you're coming from.
In all honesty, I don't know everything, or even anything much.

-Nick

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Postby narfanator » Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:45 am UTC

Woot, fun discussion. A number of things:

Proof By Irrellevancy:
If we assume a, and that makes b irrellevant, then in considering b, we must assume not-a. Example: If I assume I do not exist, further questions are pointless. Therefore, I will assume I exist.

Fate:
Complete predetermination and free will are functionally identical. If everything I do is predetermined, then I cannot do anything that is not predetermined. I am doing something. Therefore, what I am doing is what is predetermined.

God:
I feel as though alot of you are rejecting or attacking the concept of God due to reactions against religion. Don't. It's unfair to any God-entity you might be considering.

Forgiveness:
It's my wholeheartedly uneducated (on this topic) opinion that the whole point of Christian divine forgiviness is that you must ask for forgiveness. Since it's divine, I interpret this as your soul* must ask for forgiveness. If you are then truly asking to be forgiven, it seems to me that you necessarily regret your actions, which necessarily entails that you consider those actions immoral, the wrong ones, etc what not and so forth, and it's what that says about you and your soul* that really means something here.

*Souls do not have to be metaphysical. One might think of a non-metaphysical soul as the gestalt or amalgamation of one's truest feelings, which everyone has. And don't try and debate with me on the "truest" feelings. There are things you feel because. (Really, that means neurochemically, but whatever). For example, engineering makes me happy. It just does.

Prayer -
What they said above sounds about right. It's not about you getting "God" to do something, it's about imagining a conversation with the Ultimate Wisdom, and/or having someone to talk to in order to feel better.

Meaninglessness -
Wee! This one is fun. Alot of people stop at "I can leave no real lasting mark upon the cosmos...". Some people take it past that, to "what do you do when you're done?" Imagine you had immortality and enough power to eventually do anything.... so, well, what do you do? And why? No - really - why? And what do you then do when you're done? Or get bored? Or someone else is also doing it? See "Diaspora" by Greg Egan.
I found a bizaare and a not-so-bizaare way to get out of that. First, I do things because I have decided that I will do them. That is all. My decision to do those things does not stand on anything other than a desire to have something to do, and it doesn't need to. See Sartre's model of consciousness.
The bizaare way is, actually, just a roundabout way of saying; "Well, all that matters is what occurs during my life, since the rest of might (as well) not exist"... which kinda balloons you out of insignifance. The weird way involves imaging yourself as a four-dimensional object.

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Postby apricity » Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:25 am UTC

I voted agnostic, but I'm actually agnostic spiritual. I believe in some things, like angels (don't ask me why, I have my reasons), but I just don't think there is any evidence for there being or not being a God or gods. But I still pray sometimes, and I believe in some type of magic, and I still feel good when I go to church, and I still believe that there are things that we will never be able to explain or know that do exist. I just don't buy into organized religion.
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Postby nknezek » Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:28 am UTC

Vandole wrote:
Fluff wrote:So you are a tiny speck in the cosmos.
...
What is insignificant about that?

It's just that... when I started to really think about atheism, I became heavily depressed. I just didn't see a reason to live life, going through the daily routine, even caring about morality, if there weren't some kind of cosmic witness to it. What I mean is, you will live your life and leave no impression upon the world but your decaying remains and the people you touch. Eventually the people you affect will all die too, and it will be as if you never existed. What's the point of living if it's all meaningless?

I didn't know. But I believed there had to be a point to living, so I used that to "disprove" atheism to myself.


I understand where you are coming from.
I think the only possible answer (that's not even really an answer) is one of my favorite quotes:

"Life is"

That is, Life is is own justification.
There is no reason for being here except being here, as far as we know. you can either enjoy it, or hate it and think it's pointless, but either way, you exist. You can end that existence, but then you just cut short what time you have to experience this portion of existence, while the exact same thing will happen naturally eventually.
It basically a real life sandbox mode in a game (or even a real sandbox, if anybody here has ever played in one :) ) there is no goal, no place to reach, only a question:
"why not?"

-Nick

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Postby Narsil » Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:38 am UTC

Vandole wrote:
Fluff wrote:So you are a tiny speck in the cosmos.
...
What is insignificant about that?

It's just that... when I started to really think about atheism, I became heavily depressed. I just didn't see a reason to live life, going through the daily routine, even caring about morality, if there weren't some kind of cosmic witness to it. What I mean is, you will live your life and leave no impression upon the world but your decaying remains and the people you touch. Eventually the people you affect will all die too, and it will be as if you never existed. What's the point of living if it's all meaningless?

I didn't know. But I believed there had to be a point to living, so I used that to "disprove" atheism to myself.

You aren't insignificant at all. You are part of the latest generation of a race, that against all odds, crawled out of the primordial ooze and walked upright. Now you carry the power within you to be a leader, a conqueror, a visionary. And if not you, you are responsible for continuing your race in the hopes that your genes will one day beget true greatness.

I ask you. What is insignificant about that?
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Postby Air Gear » Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:42 am UTC

nknezek wrote:I understand where you are coming from.
I think the only possible answer (that's not even really an answer) is one of my favorite quotes:

"Life is"

That is, Life is is own justification.
There is no reason for being here except being here, as far as we know. you can either enjoy it, or hate it and think it's pointless, but either way, you exist. You can end that existence, but then you just cut short what time you have to experience this portion of existence, while the exact same thing will happen naturally eventually.
It basically a real life sandbox mode in a game (or even a real sandbox, if anybody here has ever played in one :) ) there is no goal, no place to reach, only a question:
"why not?"

-Nick


This comes down to a much, much bigger version of "Grownups". There's not a reason, but you know what, that's its own reason to just fill your apartment with playpen balls, except you can follow that up with some really screwed-up parties.

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Postby Peshmerga » Thu Feb 01, 2007 4:27 am UTC

I don't think life is a complete sandbox, although the options at one's disposal are often overlooked or ignored. Primarily, our instinctual directive is to procreate.

I think setting goals and accomplishing them is a person's greatest test to character. Our default emotion is discontent; to strive for excellence is only natural.
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Postby Shizo » Thu Feb 01, 2007 4:37 am UTC

1. Why do/don't you believe in God?
I seem to think it's a sugar-coated way of life, to know that whatever you've done here will matter and you'll continue living after death. That there's something out there that cares for you, no matter who you are, that can't be seen, proven, or felt.
2. What religious group are you affiliated with and why?
None, and I don't know why Atheism is considered a Religion, but whatever. I see religion as a cult, and cults are never good. Unless it's a helping-people-cult or something.
3. Do you base your beliefs on pure logic, faith and feeling, or both?
Mainly logic, but also..no logic. You die, get put in a box, anything you've done is forgotten in time, end.

My parents haven't helped much: constantly pushing Christianity on me, having me attend Religious schools, etc.

I voted the unique other for Nihilism, just to see people give me a "wtf?" look when I explain it. :P
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Postby Andrew » Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:56 am UTC

Lenale wrote:it kind of irks me when people say "blind and unquestioning". Since I'm kind of in the "scene", I -think- I know more Catholics than those people do, and none, I repeat none, are unquestioning.

Oh, I know. I don't think I've met a Catholic I didn't like (or if I have we didn't discuss our beliefs so I don't know) but I have read newspapers' letters pages and Christian propaganda materials and things they post on internets. I'm well aware it's a vocal minority that annoy me, but that doesn't make it OK. Particularly when they're the ones in charge. I mean, the first commandment says I have to be a Christian. And the Bible tells me that disobeying this rule is a sin. That, right there, is making out blind faith to be a virtue. And I think that's very wrong.

(The funniest thing like that I've ever seen was a creationist on the internet "proving" the existence of God by citing obscure miracles from Genesis and asking how they could have happened without a God. That's pure unquestioning -- not only failing to ask the questions, but failing even to realise that someone else might. I've never seen another case that hopeless.)
The Sleeping Tyrant wrote:You make it sound like Christians can't be genuinely nice people, or that athiests can't have selfish motives for being nice. Both of which are fallacies.

Well, yes, obviously that's not true. I just mean that it's not really good to be nice to people if you've been bribed with an eternity of paradise, in the same way that it isn't good of me to do work for my boss on the condition that he pays me for it. It's just not bad. And you can achieve "not bad" by sitting still and doing nothing, and saving some entropy for the rest of us.

I just find it really unsatisfying to devote my entire life to some all-powerful "boss" being, and I don't see the attraction. I doubt if I ever will.

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Postby cathrl » Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:56 pm UTC

Christian here - though I tend to find myself sympathising more with atheists and agnostics in online discussions. Quite apart from anything else, they've usually thought about both sides. What really gets to me is that smug attitude you often see from people who, as far as I can tell, think that God spends His time maintaining a long list of doctrinal hoops for His followers to jump through to decide who gets to go to heaven, and that the fact that something was written in a book 2000 years ago, and a lot of people believe it, is scientific proof that it's true. Very nice to not see that happening here.

And I'm also a scientist. Science is for stuff you can prove, or at least stuff you can reproduce. Faith is for stuff you can't. They're not opposing choices. Faith doesn't have to obey scientific rules to be valid.

I always thought it was interesting that in my experience the kids whose parents withdrew them from RE lessons and religious assemblies (I'm in the UK, no separation of church and state here) were invariably the very religious ones, not the atheists. What were they afraid of? That their child might realise that their religious belief was their own choice?

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Postby thefiddler » Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:52 pm UTC

cathrl wrote:What were they afraid of? That their child might realise that their religious belief was their own choice?

My parents still haven't realized that. :(

But, yeah. I'm thinking about dropping Christianity because it's a nice thought, but... well, I don't know how to explain it. I don't like being put in a box and told what to do?

*wanders off to go read Walden again*


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