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religion questions (St. Thomas Aquinas around?)(84 posts)

religion questions (St. Thomas Aquinas around?)Dog
Jan 21, 2002 4:27 PM
1. Does God get angry?
2. Does God have a plan for people?
3. Does God know the future?
4. Is God truly all powerful (do anything)?
5. Is God more powerful than the Devil?
6. If you do not believe in God, can you go to Heaven?
7. If you do not go to Heaven, then will you go to Hell (is there a third choice)?
8. Does God favor certain religious practices?
9. Does God change His mind?
10.Does God make mistakes?
11.Does God intervene and make or prevent things from happening on Earth?

Just curious.

glad I'm not dyslexic! :) nmmr_spin
Jan 21, 2002 4:49 PM
Jan 21, 2002 5:14 PM
would thomas saycolker
Jan 21, 2002 5:29 PM
1- no.since it's all in his will
2- yes. "
3- yes. "
4- no. he doesn't need to be powerfull. he just "is".
5- there is no devil
6- no
7- no third choice.
8- no
9- no
10_ no!
11-it's all in his will.
re: religion questions (St. Thomas Aquinas around?)DINOSAUR
Jan 21, 2002 5:40 PM
1. Does God get angry? Yes, read the Old Testament.
2. Does God have a plan for people? Yes, God has a plan.
3. Does God know the future? Yes, God knows everything.
4. Is God Truly all powerful (do anything?) Yes, but God
gave man free will.
5. Is God more powerful than the Devil? Yes, we were
taught in our church that if you give yourself to Christ
the Devil can not harm you (if you are a true believer).
6. If you do not believe in God, can you go to Heaven? Even
if you believe in God, Heaven is no guarantee
(Revelation). Heaven is only open to those who follow
his word.
7. If you do not believe in Heaven will you go to Hell (is
there a third choice). I don't believe in Hell, however
Heaven is a separate place.
8. Does God favor certain religious practices? If you are
a Christian then there is only ONE true God, Jesus Christ.
9. Does God change his mind? Yes.
10. Does God make mistakes? God made a lot of mistakes
in the beginning. He sent his son (Jesus Christ) to
earth in human form to pay for our sins, past and
11. Does God interverne and make or prevent things from
happening on earth? My believe is that God gave man free
will and does not interverne (usually).

If you really need answers you should talk to a Pastor at
your local church.

I don't think we get the whole picture with God, we can not understand him as he is unearthly. Whenever I start having doubts I think of the universe. They say there are billions of galaxies. Where does the universe end, does it go on into infinity, forever, never stopping, is this possible? It's mind boggling.

I also believe that God works on a different time frame than we do. A thousands years for us in nothing but a blink on an eyelash to God.

If you are having doubts with your faith, talk to someone.
This isn't a good place to get answers. I can only imagine the responses that will follow.

Yes, there is a plan to all this madness, keep up the faith. Sounds like the situation with your wife has you down. Understand that no matter how bad you have it, someone has it worse. Actually now is a good time for you to come to faith....

I really had a lot of second thoughts about responding to this post. To say that you are a believer leaves yourself open for attack and citicism. However I'm secure in my faith and no one can say anything that I havn't heard before anyway. Like I said, God gave us free will, to believe or not believe, the door is open only if you choose to enter...
Coming from a Catholic university.....I Love Shimano
Jan 21, 2002 6:04 PM
1. Does God get angry? Yes, until the New Testament when He became a 'forgiving, and merciful' God.

2. Does God have a plan for people? No, He gave us the gift of freedom. BUT the Holy Spirit guides us in our decisions.

3. Does God know the future? Again, no, not entirely, because we are free to do as we please.

4. Is God truly all powerful (do anything)? Yes

5. Is God more powerful than the Devil? Yes, although there are some debates on whether the Devil does exist.

6. If you do not believe in God, can you go to Heaven? Yes

7. If you do not go to Heaven, then will you go to Hell (is there a third choice)? From a philisophical point of view. Hell does not exist. Heaven is a place where everyone exists in happiness. However, if one person went to Heaven, but his wife went to hell, then he wouldn't be happy because his wife is in Hell. Therefore, the man is NOT in heaven given the fact that he is not happy. So does Hell exist? Probably not. Sort of like All Dogs Go to Heaven.

8. Does God favor certain religious practices? Most of my theology teachers say 'No', but I had one who insisted that Catholicism (Christianity is not enough) is the 'best' religion. I, as well as most of my fellow students at the time, disagreed with this.

9. Does God change His mind? I don't know

10.Does God make mistakes? No

11.Does God intervene and make or prevent things from happening on Earth? No, like I said, we've been given the gift of freedom.

Hope this satisfies your curiousity in the meantime.
Jan 21, 2002 6:43 PM
While we debate Campy vs. Shimano, I'd like to think that there are more important things to discuss once in a while. It's interesting to hear your responses.

It's not that I'm doubting, but the belief in God and the nature of God are a bit different.

Didn't want to turn this into a religion forum or anything, but only wanted to hear from a few of the folks here who have become friends. Thanks.

Another thought..DINOSAUR
Jan 21, 2002 7:02 PM
We all view God differently. I don't think anyone views God the same way. Our Pastor says that it's a one-on-one relationship. The reason I go to a church service on Sunday morning instead of riding my bike is so I can learn and keep my faith strong. Probably the only one who can answer your questions is God himself. I think it's probably beyond human comprehension..we are nothing but specks of sand in the universe...and probably a very small universe at that..
All problems are small problems to God...
Exactly...I Love Shimano
Jan 21, 2002 11:25 PM
...according to my studies in Theology and Philosophy, God is incomprehensible. Since we are mere mortals, it is impossible for us to fully understand God. Because if we can fully understand Him, then we are as almighty as He is....which is not the case.

Didn't know you guys were quite religious. I, OTOH, am not. I regularly go to mass on Sundays, and pray before bedtime only because I have to. It was also taught to us that the mere effort of praying and going to mass (even if you don't listen to the gospel and sermon) is in itself recognized by God.
MLK daygtx
Jan 21, 2002 10:45 PM
heard this speech on NPR today. Still powerful and relevant.
He would, with patience and intelligence, always try andJason H
Jan 21, 2002 11:56 PM
remind us what we were doing to the soul of this country. He was a needed voice in our times of confusion.
re: religion questions (St. Thomas Aquinas around?)MJ
Jan 22, 2002 1:58 AM
I'm not flaming you - I think you've made alot of possibly incorrect assumptions about the nature of God. You're approaching things from a very Sunday school sort of frame of mind. your image of God sounds like a benevolent old guy who drives a pick up truck and sits in chairs; your list appears to have given God human qualities which is probably not the best way forward to understand the nature of the universe; or even your little corner of it - while I'm agnostic, my father's ordained with a PhD in theology - I've grown up with these kinds of arguments and debates (it's one reason why I'm undoubtedly so far to the left now) - anyways - the only thing that one can pin hopes on - if you believe in this sort of thing is faith - my Pa won''t go any further than saying he believes and that he doesn't need any more answers than that - ultimately you (and anyone else who believes) can't prove anything - even to yourself - faith is all you have - with that approach you're left with religion (not in the derogatory sense of the word) being left for what it truly is: a subsrcibed set of shared values that mostly influences by humanist socialising

1. no, she's ambivalent
2. refer to #1
3. she probably does
4. no
5. the devil? (isn't it all one 'force'?)
6. heaven? (there's a heaven?)
7. hell!!? (not very loving and forgiving - very Old Testament)
8. I don't think she takes any notice... (seems a bit shortsighted and meanspirited to damn people for having the misfortune of being born in a non-western, non-christian society)
9. she must be able to
10. if we're created in her image she clearly makes plenty
11. no - ambivalent (if she can intervene and doesn't think about all those horrible things that she lets happen to innocent people - Job was a sucker)
Jan 22, 2002 4:07 AM
more about Big in the end decided the crap elements in Summa Theologica far outweighed the decent ones. By crap elements, I mean celebrated 'arguments' like this:

1) God is perfect
2) Anything that is perfect must have perfect qualities (e.g. perfect mind, perfect body etc)
3) Anything that has qualities must exist
CONC: God exists

Not an argument at all, since the first premise basically says "God exists", which is what is being discussed. So the standard way to rebut this famous 'proof' of God's existence is to say, after the first premise, "Sorry, WHO is perfect? Who's he? I thought he was the guy in question? You silly monk!"

Several other of Acquinas' 'five ways to God' are smashed mercilessly by wee Davie Hume in his "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion", which is well worth a read. It's jovial-Scots-atheist-breaks-entire-Catholic-religion-tastic.

So no, no Acquinas.

There are good reasons for not accepting 'God exists' as an axiom. Standard rhetorical practice is to found arguments on premises that are fairly modest, e.g. "There is a table in front of me", "Socrates is a man" etc. Here is an example of an immodest premise: "There is a being like no other being that exists beyond all space and time, who created absolutely everything, and of whom we can have no standard perception".

Further, it's beyond bad rhetorical practice for Acquinas to form arguments as he does in the "God is perfect" case. Since the conclusion is actually contained in the first premise, it is no form of *argument* at all

Finally, it is possible to do interesting things with very modest axioms. Frege formalised most of the rules of mathematical logic, and derived a novel account of natural language, from the premise "a = a"
You were awake in Philosophy class.McAndrus
Jan 23, 2002 9:02 AM
While the rest of us were snoozing and only took it because we needed Humanities credits.

I'm unable to argue effectively with the logician's tools but are you familiar with a Christian apologist named Ravi Zacharias?
You were awake in Philosophy class.MJ
Jan 23, 2002 10:10 AM
no but I just checked out Amazon's review of his book - may be one for my Dad - without having read it - it's Big Tommy's argument again - he begins with the premise that there was someone called Jesus who was actually the son of God - proof and evidence must start with a logical and defensible premise

but I would reccomend 'The Fragile Absolute: Or, Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For?' by Slavoj Zizek...
Yes...and No (nm)Fool poster
Jan 22, 2002 7:40 AM
"God said "let there be light" and they watered down the beer.bikedodger
Jan 22, 2002 8:15 AM
The Rapturemr_spin
Jan 22, 2002 9:40 AM
Hey Dog, have you seen this oustanding 1991 movie? I highly recommend it. Mimi Rogers plays a modern-day woman who goes from a hedonistic life to full-on religious fundamentalism, just before the apocalypse.

It is a really good and thought-provoking movie based on the premise that the apocalypse will happen exactly as predicted in the bible. Horns will blare three times, prison walls will fall down, the four horsemen will come--that kind of stuff.

Anyway, without giving anything away, especially the ending, some of these same questions come up. Watch it. You'll be thinking about it for a long time.

Read Roger Ebert's review
Faith= Believe in something for which there is no proof.Brooks
Jan 22, 2002 10:29 AM
I do not believe in God or in the stories from a nomadic tribe from thousands of years ago who were trying to understand the complex world that they lived in. More people have been killed in the history of this world over religion than over land. And each religion teaches a form of "love thy neighbor". Too hypocritical for me. Concentrate on being a good person while on this earth and not worry about heaven or hell or just returning to organic matter.

Faith= Believe in something for which there is no proof.Duane Gran
Jan 22, 2002 11:12 AM

You bring up a good point that people have acted maliciously toward each other in spite of the opposite teachings of religion. Do you believe there is any antidote to this? I ask because the premise of "returning to organic matter" worries me a little. Afterall, if people view me as a soul-less being, comparible to the nutrients of the ground, will they kill me over a dispute over material and land? I tend to think that religion must elevate people's appreciation for the diginity of life on the whole.
Ditto for me (nm)Allen az
Jan 22, 2002 9:00 PM
Do you mean no proof or no evidence?McAndrus
Jan 23, 2002 7:07 AM
I cannot prove there is a God but I have evidence that there is a God.

What would you accept as proof?
Do you mean no proof or no evidence?MJ
Jan 23, 2002 9:00 AM
no - your evidence can most likely be attributed to things other than a supernatural being

what's your evidence?

not flaming
Jan 23, 2002 9:31 AM
I have to think how to present this logically so it may be awhile before I post it.

In the meantime, will you think about what you'll accept as proof?
Jan 23, 2002 9:58 AM
no hurry - I have some firm thoughts having been around these houses before - but remain interested
Jan 27, 2002 12:18 PM
True theologans and philosophers will take exception to my amateur efforts but here goes. There are three kinds of evidence that have led me to Christianity: natural evidence, moral evidence, and historical evidence.

I cannot address any of these in the depth they deserve. In fact it would take years in seminary to do them justice. Occasionally in my comments I'll refer to a reference source if you wish to follow up on them.

b Natural Evidence

The fact that the universe exists is evidence of a creator. By human logic, a thing cannot create itself and must be created by something else. Is the the thing that created the universe a personal God as known to Jews, Christians, and Muslims (JCMs) or is it an impersonal clockwork God; just a force of nature? It also doesn't matter of the Big Bang theory is correct or not, the creator question still exists. Something created the universe and we call that something God.

b Moral Evidence

Every human being in every society lives by a moral code and many aspects of morality are universal: all humans believe them. Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not covet, do not lie are expressed by every major religion and by any agnostic or atheist I've every met.

You can make the argument that universal morality is simply the extension of prehistoric practical survival skills. Somewhere in the dark past of human pre-history our societies developed basic rules for living because the rules worked. If you didn't follow them you suffered, if you followed them you prospered.

We can all see every day that many people we know closely and even we ourselves, do not like to follow these rules. We all know the rules exist regardless of our society but we as individuals wish they did not because we'd like to commit adultery, and steal, and lie. JCMs call this Original Sin and say that it is our natural state.

C.S. Lewis in "mere Christianity" has an excellent discussion of morality and what is more commonly known as Natural Law. That is, all humans instinctively know and abide by a certain basic set of moral absolutes which we westerners most often express in the Ten Commandments. For a more thorough discussion, please find and read this book, it's short but full of meat.

One of Lewis' proofs of the existence of Natural Law is the nature of evil and you can see this attribute everywhere around you. Evil always, always tries to pretend that it is Good. The person who does wrong will do one of three things: hide the act from view, deny that the act was evil if discovered, or blame someone else for the need to commit the wrong if held accountable.

Something created this Natural Law. Was it a supernatural creator? In his book, Lewis describes much more clearly than I'm able why this Natural Law philosophically proves the existence of a supernatural creator. But even Lewis says that if this is true, it still does not prove that this creator is the God of JCMs.

b Historical Evidence

Is the Bible true? Even if it is true why is it sacred? How can it be the word of God when it was written by men? I cannot give the evidence here but I will recommend to you a book called "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell. He spends a very many pages building the evidence for the historical accuracy of the Bible and the faithfulness of those who have transcribed and translated it into the present day. From that accuracy and faithfulness JCMs conclude that if the Bible is accurate, then what it tells us is true.

When I ponder such things I usually come down to one historical event: the spread of the Christian church in the first century. The early evangelicals were the Apostles: Peter, Paul, John, Matthew, et al. Before they met Jesus, none of the Apostles were extraordinary men. The most learned of them was Paul, who was a Jewish Pharasee and the rest were fisherman, tax collectors, and other common types.

Between the Friday of Jesus' crucifixion and the Sunday of his resurrection, his disciples holed up in Jerusalem, cowering in fear that now the Pharisees and Romans were coming for them. On the Sunday of the resurrection the disciples were confronted with a miracle. In the next 40 days Jesus met with, ate with, and taught his disciples then he ascended into Heaven. Finally came what Christians call The Pentacost where the Holy Spirit annointed the disciples and made them into the Apostles. (Christians, did I get my sequence of events right?)

From that point on, starting in Jerusalem and spreading throughout the Mediterranean, these common men - the blue and white collar workers of their day - took their message into an often hostile world. Only one of the Apostles lived to die a natural death: John, the author of Revelation. The rest suffered greatly and died: Phillip by stonings, Paul by beheading, and Peter by crucifixion.

The actions of the apostles is what turned me from an agnostic into a Christian. These men knew Jesus, left their previous comfortable lives, and went into the world to spread the word, to suffer, and almost all to die for Jesus.

As unpersuavive as it may be, this is my evidence.
Jan 28, 2002 1:33 AM
I'm not being dismissive - you say what you say very well... but it's not evidence

natural evidence/creation theory - evolution; it's as plausible as an omnicient, omnipotent being if not more so...

moral evidence - it's a big leap to say that morality was invented by God; sociologists, psychologists, behaviourists and anthropologists have all covered this ground ad nauseum - to say that it exists is accurate to say it's source is God is a leap of the Big Tommy variety

histiorical evidence - it is a fact that many of the events and characters catalogued in the bible actually took place/existed - that's why most ancient history majors at college get involved with the bible (and Koran etc.) at some time or another - while I'm not comparing Christianity to Jim Jones in Guayana or Falung Gong or the Moonies - those systems of belief happened too, have their own mythology and spread quite quickly as well - futhermore as we're all sadly aware, lots of normal people are happy to die for their beliefs - that doesn't make their beliefs accurate (or inaccurate) - it's not evidence it was an event or a series of events...

ultimately people with religious beliefs can only rely upon faith - there is no evidence - that shouldn't denigrate what you believe in any way and doesn't take away from your belief (in whatever) - but you have to agree that faith is different than evidence - a non-believer can't argue with faith, defeat it by rhetoric and logic or disprove your faith - after all there's no evidence to the contrary either - then the argument becomes much more difficult if the non-believer is calling you out so to speak
What is proof?McAndrus
Jan 29, 2002 4:53 PM
You asked for evidence and I presented evidence. It's pretty hard to summarize 4,000 years of religious history (starting with Moses) in a few paragraphs.

Twelve years ago I was agnostic. Out of what I believe to be intellectual curiosity and honesty I went in search of the evidence, pro or con, for Christian beliefs. I found this evidence compelling. I also admit that were I born in Cairo I might find Moslem evidence compelling but, and this is a critical fact, I was not.

Also, evidence is not proof, evidence is a series of facts and sometimes expert conjectures that lead to a proof.

What would you accept as proof?
What is proof?MJ
Jan 30, 2002 2:55 AM
evidence is only evidence to the believer - religious history is just that history - lots of religions have a history as do cults and secular belief systems - that is not evidence it is a fact that people have believed in the same thing for a long time - BTW check out Buddhists for a real religious history and canon...

I'm glad you believe - but your 'evidence' is not evidence of anything other than what you hang your faith on - that's not a put down in any way - you were not born in Cairo and becausde of that you stumbled on to the true creator?

you're right evidence is not proof - and evidence does indeed lead to proof - you have not presented any evidence that a non-believer can rely upon

before we begin talking about proof I need evidence - though I suspect people with strong well though out beliefs get whatever proof prior to evidence - it's called faith
Jan 29, 2002 7:13 PM
"natural evidence/creation theory - evolution; it's
as plausible as an omnicient, omnipotent being if
not more so..."

If you honestly believe random chance could create something as stupifyingly complex as even a single celled ameoba, you have more faith that I do! A single cell is not just a bag of protein, but is composed of many components with an 'operating system' (DNA) far more complex than Window XP. Forget the analogy of a room full
of monkeys with typewriters eventually duplicating the works of Shakespeare, could a room full of supercomputers running a program that strings characters together totally at random ever re-produce it's own operating system?
By the way, how does DNA tell the cell what to do? And, during gestation, how do the stem cells know what type of cell they are to create? Brain, kidney, bone, skin, eye, nerve. What keeps track to make sure everything is created correctly?

"moral evidence - it's a big leap to say that
morality was invented by God..."

If you believe in evolution, doesn't that totally contradict morality, which, as McAndrus states is fairly universal? Evolution is a mercy-less theory that rewards the 'survival of the fittest', 'kill or be killed', 'the fastest to flee is the last eaten' way of life. Why would natural selection allow us to evolve to a point where we somehow 'knew' that the basic tenets of natural selection were 'wrong'?

"...lots of normal people are happy to die for their
beliefs - that doesn't make their beliefs accurate
(or inaccurate)..."

I don't think there are too many (any?) cases of people happily dying for their beliefs when they KNOW their beliefs are wrong. The Disciples were there. They either saw the resurrected Jesus with their own eyes or they didn't. Yet, faced with torture and horrible deaths, not one denied Jesus.

It's very easy to frame the debate in terms of faith vs. evidence. As if faith cannot rely on logic and evidence doesn't often require faith. After all, evidence is only what we see. It's our understanding of it that gives it context. We can prove something happens, but be wrong in our understanding of it.

My faith in Jesus is not just that I believe in a story that I've heard since childhood. It's also based on what I can see about myself (physical body) and what we know about the universe. There is just too much about it all that defies my attempts to think it just happened by accident.
Jan 30, 2002 2:43 AM
evolution - because you don't have a logical explanation for creation - it does not follow that you can therefore believe in an omincient, omnipotent being that is responsible for everything - it's a leap of, wait for it - faith

moderate, enlightened Christians take on board the evolutionists (and thereby defeat alot of spurious arguments) by saying that God could have used creation as a technique - while I'm sure this may upset alot of King James version only fundamentalists - the original ancient Hebrew version (and subsequent Greek translations) of the Torah / Old Testament (in this case Genesis) describe not seven days but seven periods of time... - the God kick started evolution and is therefore responsible for the mystery of life theory is very compelling - I as an agnostic can't deny that it is a possibility - cause I don't know and neither do they

morality is sophisticated and predicated on the society it serves - to say that kill and be killed (on an individual.local level) is a viable morality option for advanced civilisation is incorrect - it's the moral equivalent of saying that in order to eat we must all grow our own food... natural selection can't be meaningfuly applied to morality - in any event the basic point remains - because we have a moral code (that isn't based upon natural selection in this case) that is evidence of an omincient, omnipotent being that is responsible for everything - it's a leap of, wait for it - faith

furthermore, some would argue that US morality is involved in killing off competitors a la natural selection by its use of recources contempt for the environment and the rest of the world in general (ooh controversial I know)

don't take 'happy to die' to literally - except in the case of true believers - the apostles, Buddhist Monks in Saigon, Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorists, etc. - strength of belief and willingness to sacrifice your life does not mean something is evidenced to anyone but a believer - all martyrs know they're right (not to be facetious but you may have recntly heard of the Taliban and the Al Qaeda) - human actions do not provide evidence of an omincient, omnipotent being that is responsible for everything - it's a leap of, wait for it - faith

I'm not trying to tell you that your faith is incorrect - I'm not denigrating your beliefs in any way - nor would I any other believer - I have a great respect for my father who is an ordained Methodist Minister - but you rely upon 'evidence' that is only evidence to those that have faith - without faith there is no evidence of God - this is pretty basic stuff really - you should embrace faith

Plato's shadow and form argument 'proves' that we can't interact with the physical world - Wittgenstein's deconstruction of language leaves us with the inability to communicate without an assumed understanding of context and content - if we can't effectively communicate or experience things how can we prove to ourselves that there is an omincient, omnipotent being that is responsible for everything - it's a leap of, wait for it - faith - ultimately there is only faith
More commentsDJB
Jan 30, 2002 8:17 PM

I'm not sure I understand your first sentence. "an omincient, omnipotent being" is the ONLY explanation for creation (as defined in our little debate).

Moderate, enlightened Christians don't understand that the argument is not the Bible vs. science. They think that if they try to support Creationism, they'll be lumped in with the 'Bible thumpers', like those in Inherit the Wind. When they learn how shaky evolution is in regard to actual science, they realize (become really enlightened!) that evolution is really just a philosophy which has enabled the modernist/naturalist to push religion out of our schools and laws.

The argument that God 'kick-started' evolution and then sat back to see what happened is one of Deism vs. Theism. A Theist believes in a God who not only created everything, but one that is active and interested in us and what goes on in the world. Like the God of the Bible. In other words, someone who we will have to answer to. A Deist believes that there might be a god, but an impersonal one who doesn't care about the world and doesn't care what we do. This is acceptable to the evolutionist because it supports what is at the heart of evolution. Permission to devise our own morality.

When you mention 'King James Fundamentalists', I think you mean to say 'Literalist'. (I would define myself as a fundamentalist, which is to say someone who believes the Bible is always fundamentally true, while not always being literally true. But I'm not a fundamentalist in the legalistic sense though). I think it's a little like Werner von Braun giving a lecture on rocket science to a kindergarten class. His use of metaphors to simplify things doesn't detract from the truth of what he says. For example, I don't have a problem with 7 time periods instead of 7 days. In fact the fossil record appears to bear that out. You should look into the 'Cambrian explosion' in which the basic animal groups all appear fairly suddenly (in historical terms) and without evidence of ancestors.


I wasn't saying that kill or be killed is a viable moral stance. What I was trying to get across is that if natural selection was the true method of our development, we would have no other moral code. Where would we get the idea that kill or be killed was wrong? Yet the basics of morality seems universal.


You ignored the main point, which is that the Disciples didn't suffer and die for a BELIEF, but something they KNEW.
They would have known that what they were saying was or wasn't true. Their actions weren't based on faith. All others who have died for religious causes, yes, they were based on faith that their belief was true.

I'm not 'up' on Plato's argument, and you can deconstruct just about anything if you want to. But I wonder how you can accept the words of others as 'proof' that you can't prove' that there is a God. I think you're guilty of your own statement: "but you rely upon 'evidence' that is only evidence to those that have faith". It's just that your faith is a little different than mine.
More commentsMJ
Jan 31, 2002 2:30 AM
it goes back to my point above in the thread about Big Tommy's logical foul up - in this case you, rather than Big Tommy, make an assumption that because evolution is unproven there is evidence of creation by God - it's a Big Leap - one that I don't accept - you can't prove, or give evidence that God created anything - just like I can't give evidence that she didn't

religion doesn't have any place in schools - except in anthropolgy and sociology classrooms - unless you let everybody have a go - and we would both probably object if the teacher was Moonie or from any other cult (they've got as much evidence as christains after all)

deism v theism - doesn't matter and doesn't evidence anything

I do mean literalist - but used King James Version fundamentalist so I'm not accused of being ignorant of the bible - the Cambrian explosion and its mystery doesn't mean that there is therefore no possible explanation other than God

lots of people don't believe the bible is fundemantally right by the way - in fact often people believe that other religious texts are fundamentally right - go to China, Egypt, Israel, India and have a look

it's really very simple - you seem to be saying that because evolution isn;t plausible (in your opinion) God is responsible for creating the universe - if you want to believe that then fine - I'm not taking that away from you - but it is not a belief that is based upon objective evidence, fact or proof

to think that natural selction would have any bearing on the morality in a modern civilisation is ludicrous - we have clearly devised a number of societal codes, morals, which help us get by in the manner demanded by such an 'advanced' society - while we may at one time have had natural selction as a type opf moral code - people and cultures and morals change - we in the west today do not have the morailty of the Victorian, Edwardian, Tudor, pre-historic age - it changed - again you're making a big leap without the benefit of logic - in any event - God is not responsible for any moral code unless one chooses to live by that code - refer to the above list of countries for an example

you think the disciples 'knew' something yet I don't think they 'knew' anything - - I think they were martyrs like any number of other martyrs who think they 'know' just as much - the problem with this discussion is that you are making assumptions based upon subjective beliefs that you have not ever had to explain objectively to somebody who doesn't start from the same point as you - I don't believe that Jesus was the son of God (nor can you provide evidence or proof that he was)

it can all be summed up here = when defining something you can't use the word in the defintion... when proving a belief you can't use the belief to justify your points cause I don't grant it any credibility

you should read Plato immedeately - everyone should read Plato - his logic stands the test of time - if you believe tht God created everything then take heart because he created Plato too - haven't relied on evidence from anybody in this discussion but rather rely on the thoughts of those who teach how to think logically - you remain still without evidence of anything - before you take shots at Plato or other philosophers have some respect and do some reading before you continue this (The Republic is a good one to start with)
Fair enoughDJB
Jan 31, 2002 8:33 PM
It looks like we aren't getting anywhere. I haven't claimed that you can prove God simply by disproving or doubting evolution. And 'Heaven forbid' that I worry whether or not you grant me any credibility!

You seem to be caught up on the word 'evidence'. I'm sure you know the difference between conclusive evidence and supporting evidence.

Is there conclusive evidence that there is a God? I guess I won't have that until I die, will I?

Is there conclusive evidence that there is no God? No.

Is there even supporting evidence of evolution (on the macro scale)? No, especially on the cellular level.

Until someone can convince my that the above 3 answers are wrong, I'm totally content with my beliefs.

Hope you are too.
Fair enoughMJ
Feb 1, 2002 1:34 AM
evidence of God by disproving evolution is one of the issues the thread started with - it migrated somewhat

to be honest you should worry whether or not people grant your 'arguments' (for lack of a better word) credibility - you owe it to yourself (and your God) to be able to competently make your point (I'm not flaming you or saying that you are an idiot by any stretch of the imagination - but that you have not dealt with this discussion logically) your evidence, supporting or conclusive, is illogical and self-referential just like Big Tommy as I mentioned above

I am indeed caught on evidence (any kind of evidence) - that was the point of this dicsussion - people, in your case Christians, ultimately have no evidence of anything to do with their beliefs - they only have faith, which I am not criticising - if you look back that was how McAndrus and I got under way

as for evolution - it's not really my argument, though I think (sintesi?) dealt with queries very adequately in this and the other thread - evolution remains more plausible to me than God or divine creation - because every question hasn't been answered doesn't mean it's not true - particularly when it is solely referenced by objective criteria and scientific evidence rather than beliefs which owe more to culture and society than to theological comprehension

your answers to the above questions appear to not justify belief in your faith - the conclsuion of your contentment formula is that 1. you have no conclusive evidence of God and 2. you do not think there is any scientific credibility for evolution = therefore you are a Christian - I realise that's probably not what you meant but that's what you say - it appears to base your belief solely on the 'deficiencies' of a very small portion of evolution

a similar formula would be 1. I have no conclusive evidence of 'a' 2. there is no supporting evidence in 'b' (which may or may not be linked to 'a') = therefore I believe in 'a' (the correct answer which may be revealed upon death)

to be honest I'd feel pretty uncomfortable basing anything on that formula - you should too
Fair enoughDJB
Feb 1, 2002 3:29 AM
I think if you look at the requirements for the creation of a cell through random chance (before the process of natural selection could even begin), you'll see that the statistics are overwhelmingly against it. Evolution also provides no reasonable answer for the creation of matter and energy.

I don't have conclusive evidence for God, but there is plenty of supporting evidence. But some of that requires that you look into my point above. If evolution didn't create the universe (and us), what did? One reasonable answer might be a supreme being.

When you look at all the major religions out there, you can look at what they say about the beginnings of the world, sin, redemption, meaning of life, etc.

For me, only Christianity can satisfactorily answer those types of questions. Does it conclusively prove everything?
Of course not, but its answers are much more reasonable to me. A good book to look at on this is 'How now shall we live' by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearson.

I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I'm a Christion simply because I don't believe in evolution and I don't know what else to believe in. That isn't the case at all.
Fair enoughMJ
Feb 1, 2002 6:38 AM
evolution is not my argument - it's addressed better by others in the other thread - but I'd rather go with a science based explanation that is subjected to rigorous scrutiny which, as mentioned above, must now be considered fact - so we disagree - you'd rather go with an omnicient, omnipotent God evidence of which there is zero - it's not a natural conclusion to such a question is it?

I have never seen any supporting evidence of 'God' from you or anyone else (your evidence was exclusively self-referential) - where is it? tell me about it - why have you been holding back? - you've only given me self-referential evidence - for example - 'I believe that God exists because of the Disciples' - excuse me who? weren't the Diciples Jesus', the son of God, pals? - well if I don't believe in the son of God, or God, or anything else you do that's hardly supporting evidence is it?

I do not deny there is a God if I did I would be an atheist rather than an agnostic. How could I satisfactorily disprove God? (I won't bother with the tired and usually recited 'supporting evidence' that there is no God such as hate, evil and the fact the she apparently kills innocents every day), I can't disprove that there isn't a God just like you can't prove there is a God. - you only have faith

there are lots of religious explanations for the creation of the world - none of which are based on any objective criteria - not one - just try and convince somebody from another religion that they're wrong and that your version is right - both explanations are predicated on a belief system being true

if you have faith and the biblical explanation is satisfactory to you that's great good for you; you can chuckle later when I'm burning in hell - you still don't have any evidence - you still can't tell me you're right - furthermore you have no right to force your belief (that's all it is) on anybody else (re your reference to schools above) - I do not object to your version being mentioned as long as all the other (in my opinion) wacky, factless, subjective, self-referential explanations get mentioned too

you're finally following my advice above about turning the tables back on agnostics - ask them how they explain things - but it's not as satisfactory as Jesus in the temple - because I don't have any answers - nor have I offered any - nor do I care to - because I'm not the one who believes I don't have to - I'm fine with the mystery - I think it's great - Life's Rich Pageant etc.

did it ever occur to you that you found Christianity because you were born in the US? (McAndrus admitted he didn't know - that's honest of him) maybe that's why it answers all your questions? maybe you're just socialised? had you been born elsewhere would that have happened? woudl you be a Christian? - No, you'd be telling me how great Buddha/Mohammed/Yaweh was (still without any evidence whatsoever) - is Christianty right because of where you were born or is it just right for you? - all you have is faith you have no evidence

I know you are a Christian for any number of (personal, faith based) reasons (and that's great) - I know it's nothing to do with evolution - my point, from the very beginning is that you have no proof you're right - nothing - not one scrap - no supporting evidence, no actual evidence, no conclusive evidence - you just have faith - enjoy your faith - it's a gift - just don't confuse it for evidence

I've been reading clever Christian propoganda and proselytising materials all my life - it doesn't impress me - it's not evidence - tell me why it's a great book (Colson) - does it have evidence in there? - is it online? will you read Plato and Wittgenstein and Kant? or go to a mosque/synagogue/Buddhist temple?
right onWoof the dog
Feb 1, 2002 4:01 PM
thats the way to whip it...whip it good, MJ

True, there is only a belief in the end, even in science. as i said before somewhere, sience can discover/understand the processes, but it can only theorize on the origins, as does religion.

By the way, DJB, what is your background in science? Do you happen to be one of them creationist scientists? I mean there are good explanations as to how a cell directs its functions, and i can tell you that it is just a matter of time before humans analyze EVERY chemical compound found in a cell. It is just a matter of testing for something.

It is really all in your head: morals and even seeing, touching, smelling and other crap. How do you know that you are really sitting in a chair and typing? Have you guys seen The Matrix? What a great movie.

Even God is in your head and today's profets, the likes of all the biblical apostols(spelling?), are all locked up in the asylums, and i think it is great!

Finding meaning through no meaning is the trick to a happy life.

Woof, please stay on your medication!!!DJB
Feb 2, 2002 9:08 PM
Fair enoughDJB
Feb 2, 2002 9:06 PM
While there is no proof that the following is true (just want to be clear about that), the Bible teaches that evil is not of God, but is the result of our turning away from God. God allows it in order to give us free will. Because He wants us to choose to follow Him. He won't force us to do anything. I don't think you can find anything in the Bible that promises a life on this Earth free of pain and suffering. That comes later. God know's that whatever suffering we do in this life, it'll be forgotten in the blink of an eye when we pass. But God doesn't just sit up there, dispassionately. He provided a way for us to get to Him. By suffering greatly Himself thru the crucifixion and Resurrection of His Son. Even though we couldn't possibly deserve it.

Is this proselytising? Maybe so. Maybe it's just stating what I believe.

I wish you luck in life. I hope the following comes true for you. 'You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free'.
Fair enoughMJ
Feb 5, 2002 3:11 AM
once again (just to make sure you're clear about that) the Bible isn't evidence - nice sentiment's though - very similar to other religions

lots of people believe lots of wacky things - I won't tell you about Greek mythology if you don't tell me about the bible - you know what? - I've heard it before - and so far in our little debate you've dropped every single point I've raised

in light of your performance so far I won't even bother with the free will argument as you're unlikely to discuss anything with out a subjective understanding - debate it with your Pastor

while you're tied to your faith and dogma it seems I'm free from all manner of encumbrances - talk about being set free
A question on evolution.....McAndrus
Jan 30, 2002 12:34 PM
DJB are you knowledgable on evolutionary theory? I am not and from what I hear most modern people who call themselves evolutionists are not really adept with Darwin either.

I'm looking for an evolutionist's answer to this question.

If nature is the only cause of humanity and evolution is the survival of the fittest then why is mankind so dominant over the other species?

Wouldn't evolution have created a more even balance between us and the other species on our lovely planet?
I got an comment for you.Sintesi at home
Jan 30, 2002 7:48 PM
"If you honestly believe random chance could create something as stupifyingly complex as even a single celled ameoba, you have more faith that I do! A single cell is not just a bag of protein, but is composed of many components with an 'operating system' (DNA) far more complex than Window XP. Forget the analogy of a room full
of monkeys with typewriters eventually duplicating the works of Shakespeare, could a room full of supercomputers running a program that strings characters together totally at random ever re-produce it's own operating system?"

The answer is yes computers could. As could the monkeys as long as they work with the same process as evolution does. Evolution builds on a selective princible of keeping what works and discarding what doesn't. Therefore evolution is not a totally random process starting from the beginning over and over. Once you give the monkeys that they write Shakespeare in a week or so. I'll look up the data but your argument here has been answered before. You don't need a Super Creator in order to have the natural world. At least not necessarily.
I think you misunderstandMcAndrus
Jan 30, 2002 12:30 PM
MJ you and I are going to argue ourselves into a tight circle here with no escape.

Here's something you'll have to take on faith (oops). Twelve years ago I was agnostic. Does God exist or not? I couldn't say.

I attended church for social reasons and my curiosity was sparked by references to writers like Martin Luther and C.S. Lewis. In other words, what do the better thinkers say.

I also read (lightly, admittedly) some agnostic and atheist positions. I remember a rather long scholarly book by one agnostic who was critiquing Lewis. In the end the agnostic was perplexed that Lewis had not proved that God exists. Imagine.

And I have a very dear friend who is agnostic and was in his youth quite religious. He considered becoming a Lutheran minister. He drifted from the faith because when he was in high school he realized that he could not prove, mathematically, that God exists. That was his term, "mathematically."

The only social predisposition I will admit to the evidence I saw was that I grew up in the US in a Judeo-Christian culture. That predisposes me to hearing the Christian argument. And I am a lesser person because I have not fully heard the Moslem or Buddhist or Hindu presentation.

If I heard the Jewish argument in isolation I would still be an agnostic. There is not enough historical evidence to support it for me. (Observant Jews who read this, please I'd love to have that discussion - and I'm serious - I'd like to know why you're observant.)

Let me try to draw a scientific parallel. If I studied physics after Newton but before Einstein I would have a Newtonian view of gravity. It would be a view that was the sum of the evidence I had seen and it would be correct.

Then along comes Einstein. He does not replace Newton but he expands on Newton. Now the evidence has changed. If I am still a Newtonian, then I am a fool. I hope I have enough intellectual honesty and moral courage to go where the evidence leads.

Now, despite my love of discussion and debate I apparently cannot persuade you to accept my definition of evidence. In this forum I also cannot possibly present all of the evidence I have ever discovered.

So, I suggest we call a truce. Someday we may sit across a table playing cards and drinking whiskey. (A Christian said that?) Then it will be my great pleasure to rejoin the debate.
I think you misunderstandMJ
Jan 31, 2002 2:38 AM
fine - I don't deny your faith or belief and in part envy it - still, I don't have it, and I don't look at what you have presented as evidence in any way

things are always different over a beer/whiskey - I guess that's why my Dad gets a case every time I'm at home
Life (code name "God")Tig
Jan 22, 2002 11:42 AM
Mankind has always sought to define life and God. I believe they are one in the same. Having a tough time understanding a bible verse? Then replace the word "God" with "life" and it can sometimes clarify the meaning. Try that with one you already understand and it opens up a deeper meaning that translates to your everyday living.

I don't believe there is a single deity with it's own consciousness that is omnipotent and controls us and everything else in the universe. That is just plain silly. What makes much better sense is that the sum of all life combined creates what we call "God". This is more Zen-like than Christianity. A surprisingly accurate description comes from all places, Star Wars! I know, it sounds over simplistic and Hollywood-ish, but it happens to state it well. The "life force" that is the spiritual fabric that binds all life in the universe and cumulates to be what I believe is God. I've always hated the description of a person being "God fearing". God and religion is about love. I'd rather be someone who loves life than one who fears it!

We constantly face choices that change our world and destiny. To think that our choices are controlled by anything other than ourselves would be irresponsible.

Why wait until death to see if there is a heaven? I think that is a carrot on a stick to guide people into doing the right thing over the negative choices. Being self-responsible for our actions is the greatest advancement we can make. If more people did this, we'd see a much better world. If we love deeply and try our best to make the world a better place because we were here, then we will earn a place in heaven if it exists. If it doesn't exist, then we have made heaven here on earth, and everyone wins! If we keep hurting others and slow the world's progress, we pay for it sooner or later. Life eventually kicks around those who constantly hurt others.

There is much more I could say, but we don't like to hear someone else try to cram their version of religion down our throats. The bottom line is that we should DO IT, not just SAY IT.
Frank Lloyd Wright nailed itterry b
Jan 23, 2002 11:23 AM
when asked if he believed in God, he said, "Yes, and I spell His name NATURE"

Personally I think the Shinto and Animist religions have it right - worship the sun, the moon, the wind and the stars. Be thankful to the spirit of the plant or animal that gives it up to sustain you. Praying - stand in the woods and reflect on the incredible connection between you and all living things. What made it - it made itself. Does it get mad? only if you consider a Cat5 hurricane "angry." Live your life and try to leave things better than you found them. Take a moment and move that snake off the road next time you're out pedaling. Save a dog from the pound. Take your old clothes to the shelter. The only reward is leaving this world feeling that you've been an asset.
reminds me of Lakota beliefsTig
Jan 24, 2002 11:11 AM
Most people think Lakota (AKA: Sioux Indians) and other tribes to be paganistic, but if we really open up the ears and mind, they have some wonderful beliefs that are similar to what you described. All animals and plants have a purpose and are part of the great mystery and balance of life and nature... except for man. Man has never quite fit in this complex natural network. They think that since we don't fit in, then we must learn to fit in, and our teachers are these very plants and animals. They said that if we view ourselves as above the animals and plants then we are making ourselves a god, which is wrong.

Of course, these beliefs worked best in the their days of full freedom before the US government started controlling them by killing off the buffalo and creating reservations. Before that, the Lakota tribal territory covered more land than the Roman Empire. They never needed police because they were self governing and held themselves to very high moral standards. If not, they would be banished from the tribes. Chief Seattle said it best in his "Web of Life" testimonial that unfortunately has been altered by environmentalists over the last 100 years. The root of his speech remains intact however.

As you said, this is all similar to Shinto beliefs.
re: To St. Thomas Aquinas, God was Omnipotentjrm
Jan 22, 2002 12:27 PM
meaning he wasnt human, but superior to all of us.
Wow, religious questions rewarded with kind, thoughtful...Sintesi
Jan 22, 2002 1:15 PM
replies for a change. GJ people.
re: religion questions (St. Thomas Aquinas around?)Js Haiku Shop
Jan 22, 2002 1:35 PM
1. Does God get angry?

does a being graeter than which none can be conceived get angry?

2. Does God have a plan for people?

see #1

3. Does God know the future?

see #1

4. Is God truly all powerful (do anything)?

see #1

5. Is God more powerful than the Devil?

see #1

6. If you do not believe in God, can you go to Heaven?

see #1

7. If you do not go to Heaven, then will you go to Hell (is there a third choice)?

see #1

8. Does God favor certain religious practices?

see #1

9. Does God change His mind?

see #1

10.Does God make mistakes?

see #1

11.Does God intervene and make or prevent things from happening on Earth?

see #1

12. Does God exist?

a being that exists is greater than a being that does not exist. god is a being greater than which none can exist. therefore, god exists.

fear leads to anger, anger leads to stress, stress leads to doobies, and doobies lead to twinkies.

all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.

feed the rats to the cats and the cats to the rats and get the cat skins for nothing.

many bad things can be done with half-cocked logic. we believe what we want and make justifications to strengthen our stance. how can 90% of the world's population be wrong? just sit quietly in church 'til they take out the wine, will ya?
READ THIS....Allen az
Jan 22, 2002 9:15 PM
Found this site a while back. It's pretty much how I feel about this subject....

re: religion questions (St. Thomas Aquinas around?)ACE-
Jan 23, 2002 12:24 AM
6.If you reject His gift,No.
7.Yes(no third choice).
8.No(religion is the attempt to work to reach God. He offers himself freely).
9.Yes,in a sense. But not as we might.
10.No,If He did He would not be God.
And the Calvinist says .....McAndrus
Jan 23, 2002 7:27 AM
These replies are from the Calvinist perspective. For those not in the know, Calvin is the progenitor of modern churches like Baptist, Presbyterian, and Reformed. Calvin also shares many fundamental beliefs of Martin Luther, the spark of the Reformation.

1. God gets angry. He gets angry at sin.
2. God has a plan for his people. Unfortunately, he does not shout the plan in our ears - we must figure it out.
3. God knows the future. God has already created the future. For God there is no past, present, and future. There is no time as we understand it.
4. God is truly all powerful.
5. God is more powerful than the Devil and has already defeated the Devil (see comment 3).
6. Remember, this is a Calvinist perspective so non-Christians please do not flame me. If you do not believe in Jesus Christ you cannot get to heaven. Good works (being a good person) will not get you to heaven, faith in Jesus will.
7. If you do not go to Heaven, you will go to Hell. The question is, what is Hell? Is it a flaming pit of torture or is it merely separation from God? One of the great works in western literature, Dante's Inferno was over this one question.
8. God favors righteousness over all religious practices but some practices are encouraged and others discouraged.
9. God cannot change his mind.
10. God does not make mistakes.
11. Everything that happens is the result of the action or inaction of God. Yes, the good and the bad. It is in the "inaction" portion that humans operate and are held responsible.
The fundamental problem...mr_spin
Jan 23, 2002 8:04 AM
Not to flame you, but the problem I've always seen with Calvinsim is that if good works won't get you into heaven, why bother doing good works? I can be the biggest jerk in the world, making everyone else's lives miserable, but as long as I have faith in Jesus, I'll go to heaven? That just seems like a very low standard to me.
The fundamental problem...Dog
Jan 23, 2002 8:12 AM
"I can be the biggest jerk in the world, making everyone else's lives miserable," -- "but as long as I have faith in Jesus"

I think those two ideas are essentially incompatible when thoroughly examined.

It's called sanctificationMcAndrus
Jan 23, 2002 8:19 AM
Yes, what you've said is similar to my post below. If I have faith, then I will want to become more like Jesus (aka sanctification). As I move foward and grow into my sanctification I will be less and less of a jerk - I hope.

mr_spin is right on one point. Our teaching is that even Aldoph Hitler can get to heaven, if he confessed faith in Jesus before he pulled the trigger.
Jan 23, 2002 8:35 AM
Aren't there some sins that are not forgiveable?
Just one ......McAndrus
Jan 23, 2002 8:57 AM
In all my bible readings, the only unforgiveable sin I can discover is blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

Mark 3:29 quoting Jesus "But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."

Luke 12:10 also quoting Jesus "And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."

Everything else is forgiveable.

That's actually the point of the Prodigal Son story. The bad son takes his share of the family fortune and goes off and spends it on wine, women, and song. The good son stays home, works hard, and keeps his nose clean. The bad son shows up at the door one day and dear old Dad welcomes him back with a big party. Good son is not a happy camper.

The point? Righteous man is a good Christian but Sinner is out partying all hours. Guess what? God will welcome Sinner back any time. And throw him a big party too. Righteous man just has to live with it and is expected to welcome Sinner with open arms.
Another fundamental problem...mr_spin
Jan 23, 2002 9:21 AM
Good point, except that there are plenty of "religious" people forcing their beliefs on everyone else, which I see as a form of misery.

Okay, so in order to get into heaven, I need to have faith in Jesus. One problem with this is that there are many people who have never heard of Jesus. It's less likely today, but before the age of mass communication, there were plenty of people who knew no religion but their own, which probably didn't include Jesus. Do they go to hell? Hell has got to be bigger than heaven if this is true.

What about people who die in infancy? It's hard for a two-year old to have faith in Jesus. Do they go to hell?

What about people with mentally deficiencies? Some may not have any comprehension of Jesus. Do they go to hell?

What about people who lived before Jesus? They must all be in hell. I'm sure Moses and Noah and Ruth and all those characters got waivers, but everyone else? It's hard to have faith in someone that doesn't exist yet. The Mormons have a way to "bless" their ancestors and get them in, but no other Christian religion does.

These points aren't unique to Calvinism--Catholicism has all kinds of seemingly arbitrary rules around this stuff. It's the whole concept of original sin and reason for baptism.

One of the big turnoffs for me concerning organized religion are all these black and white rules. It seems to me from my Catholic upbringing that Jesus was all about the grey areas. He swept away a lot of the old testament edicts that fundamentalists still cling to when it serves their needs. An eye for an eye? Not anymore. Turn the other cheek.
It's the evangelists nightmareMcAndrus
Jan 23, 2002 11:42 AM
The Bible and Judeo-Christian heritage do not speak of many things; many more than you've brought up but your points are well taken.

You speak of Catholicism. My mother grew up Catholic and converted to Presbyterian. My two best boyhood friends were Catholic. I am not anything near an expert on Catholic doctrines but I have genuflected on occasion.

Speaking only for myself and not Calvinism or any organized church, I'd like to say something about Christian education.

The Protestant churches do an absolutely awful job of cathecism with their converts. What average Protestants do not know about the doctrines of their churches would absolutely astound you.

Protestants seldom ask themselves the hard questions; the questions you just asked. What happens to good people who don't believe in God or Jesus? What happened to those who lived before Jesus? What happens to those who never hear about Jesus? What happens to those who hear but cannot understand? And then there is the numero uno big question: why does God let evil exist?

The honest Christian will answer these questions with "I don't know." The under-educated Christian will probably stumble around, find a verse or two, and try to satisfy you with those answers. And those answers will sound dissembling to you and you will distrust the answer, the answerer and the religion the answerer represents.

For instance, I don't think the Old Testament ever promises any of us an afterlife, good or bad. The only person taken to heaven in the Old Testament is the prophet Elijah. (I hope I didn't miss one.)

And there's no comfort for Abraham, Moses, Ruth, and the others as far as I can tell. The Old Testament reward for belief was in this world, not the next. So, how do I reconcile that to Jesus' teachings? I try to be an honest Christian and say that I'm still working on that. I know my church sure hasn't helped me a lot here.

The common position is held based on God's mercy. That is, if a person never hears (or understands) the Gospel then God has some unstated but we assume just and kind, fate for that person.

What if I, as a missionary, preach the Gospel to a morally good heathen and as a result the heathen hears, understands, and rejects the Gospel? By my beliefs I have just condemned a good person to Hell.

An honest Christian will admit to this dilemna and will usually respond that it doesn't matter, that Jesus commanded us to preach to the ends of the world and have faith that God will be just.

It's a matter I feel is worth further exploration.
I'm a little late but...Sintesi at home
Jan 24, 2002 7:30 PM
If I remember Calvinist thinking correctly it doesn't matter what you do because your destiny was determined before you were born. Conceivably the "biggest jerk in the world" can go to heaven because he was chosen. The upshot would be that he wouldn't be the biggest jerk in the world for he would live a life consistent with the teachings of Jesus since his destiny is a forgone conclusion. I don't think they're big on free agency or redemption for past sins. Calvinists don't think much of lowly humanity and their conceits. If I remember rightly, Calvin likened man to a spider dangling by a thread held by God over a roaring fire to be whisked away at the last moment or cast down eternally, God's choice.

Sounds bad but in a way it can be comforting to know everything has been laid out and there is nothing you can do to muck it up.
It's a cause and effect thing.McAndrus
Jan 23, 2002 8:14 AM
(From the Calvinist perspective)

Just good works will not get you into heaven, only faith in Jesus. Once I have faith then I am called to do God's will. God's will (among other things) is that I do good works. So, to please God, I will do good works.

Coincidentally, my doing good works is one of my ways of witnessing. That is, by my doing good works, others see me as an example to follow and want to know why I do these good works? When I show them the light, so to speak, they are then drawn into the faith.

Pretty nifty marketing scheme, huh?
JustificationJon Billheimer
Jan 23, 2002 9:41 AM
All religious doctrines, such as the ones being discussed above, when rigorously examined are reducible to absurdities. Their main justification is reference to supposedly authoritative, infallible scriptures.
The same thing goes for "proofs" of God and descriptions of the nature of God.

Do I believe in God? Yes. Can I give a reasonable accounting of the nature of God? No. Do I have notions about the nature of God? Yes. In the end, all the God stuff reduces to intuitions and faith. St. Paul had a point when he observed that "we see through a glass darkly." All this leaves me with two observations about myself: I am both a mystic and an agnostic. That should set some of you orthodox types on your proverbial ears!:-) Dog, all the questions you asked in your original post are unanswerable in any truly rational way. You're going to have to draw your own conclusions based upon your own resources, experience, and common sense. Could it be that when it comes to questions about the nature of God, the questions themselves are the problem? Which leads to one final observation. Perhaps all our discussions about God say more about us than about God! Is God, then, simply an apotheosis of man? Maybe the Greeks weren't so stupid after all!
discussion is healthyDog
Jan 23, 2002 9:46 AM
While we may never know the answers, I believe discussion is healthy. I like knowing what others think, and why. Thanks.

Jan 23, 2002 9:34 AM
Curious as to why this topic was opened in the first place? Anyone who has been using this forum for any length of time would know that using the "G" word opens up a lot of discussion and heated arguments. We have been down this road before, I can't recall of any subject that brings so much controversy and heated dicussion.

Is the original poster really looking for answers or just attempting to create arguments?

If you really want your questions answered, this is not the place to ask them...seems like flame bait material to me. Doug what were you thinking? Or better yet, what was I thinking when I fell into it also?
no flames -- sincere, thoughtful responsesDog
Jan 23, 2002 9:41 AM
I haven't seen any flames. I think the forum has grown up a little bit. Also, I wasn't asking if anyone is religious, which is what caused a stir before -- labeling or dividing people.

I was serious in asking what people thought. I think we got some serious, thoughtful, responses. Sometimes I'd like to hear a variety of thoughts, which to me is more interesting than hearing the same thing I've heard from my church my whole life. A different perspective is good in many ways.

I think there is no reason this cannot be discussed here, any differently than terrorism or fast cars.

I don't think you have to worry about when you "fell into it." You, as well as many others, have discussed it sincerely and intelligently. I think that's wonderful.

I don't see the problem. Rather, I thank everyone for participating.

Another ApproachJon Billheimer
Jan 23, 2002 9:57 AM
Rather than a philosophical approach, one can take an empirical or experiential approach to the "God thing." An extremely informative and provocative source is Aldous Huxley's "The Perennial Philosophy." In it, Huxley conducts a comparative survey of mystics' experience of the divine, from all cultural and religious perspectives. As a result, he found what he chose to label the highest common denominators of the human religious experience. One of the universal denominators was the assertion from all quarters that the experience of God, the Divine, etc. is ineffable, and noetic, i.e. unitary, wordless, and beyond the categories of human thought and language. Therefore, to paraphrase the Upanishads, as well as some Christian mystics, God is the Unknowable. Which is why I alluded to the idea that perhaps in our search for answers we sometimes ask the wrong questions. Thought provoking, huh?
an experiential journey......harlett
Jan 29, 2002 5:05 PM
in an open and loving community--

for most of us, faith development is a process-- we grow in wisdom having a sense of god-- as a christian woman i know that my consciousness about god and my feminism has evolved in stages-- (the patriarchal readings and traditions in religion are just that.traditions-- the result of external influences)

first, i became aware of generic language-- words like "mankind," "brotherhood" and the overused pronoun "he" were supposed to describe all of humanity-- but it was clear that they contained a masculine bias-- little girls were hearing those words literally and scaling down their self-image-- i decided that even if i was not personally bothered by such terms, inclusive language was a matter of justice-- language both reflects the way we think and informs what we think--

it was not long, however, before i moved beyond my concern about language referring to human beings and became concerned about the masculine bias in language about god-- if christians insist that god is without gender, why do we call god "he" at every turn? in this stage of my journey, i argued that any words which defined and limited god through male metaphors and pronouns were not only exclusive, they were idolatrous--

at this point i refused to use any gender-specific god language-- god was the holy one, the rock, the wind, the spirit, the eternal or the still voice-- but i had a problem: i continued to believe that god is personal-- the very meaning of incarnation informs us that the god whom we know in jesus christ cares about us and loves us like our parents, our friends, our lovers-- yet i had never met a "person" who was not male or female-- it became clear that the understanding of god as objective force or philosophic idea was not an aspect of christian theology--

so in stage three i happily recovered certain words about god-- i learned to pray to god who is like a mother as well as a father-- by celebrating the feminine attributes of god, i sought to redress the imbalance of language habits that focus on god's maleness-- and in this process i even discovered that the traditions of goddess worship can enrich christian theology--

my faith journey, however, has moved on to yet another stage-- in recent years i have reclaimed a very old and very important christian way of speaking about god: the doctrine of the trinity-- i am now thinking that trinity theology bridges the messages of christ and my understandings of god consistent with my life experience as a women/being--

on one level the trinitarian formula of god as father, son and holy spirit is totally unacceptable-- the words are redolent of hierarchy and patriarchy-- even when it is argued that the hebrew word for the spirit is feminine, the masculine bias of trinitarian dogma seems overwhelming-- furthermore, trinity theology is hierarchical (the son proceeds from the father, etc.)-- implying that all of creation is ordered from the top down, such theology can justify oppressive political and social systems-- it can also be argued that the doctrine of the trinity violates the unity of god, calling on christians to worship three gods instead of one-- at first glance it was hard for me to imagine how as a modern feminist i could find trinity theology helpful-- but I was determined to examine it more closely--

first, we must place all christian theology in context-- as the old testament affirms, god is incomparable-- isaiah writes that we dare not make our god out of gold, or carry the divine around in a neat package to sit here or stand there-- god reminds israel, and all peoples, that "i am god and there is no other, i am god and there is none like me"

yet christians assert that in jesus christ we have a special revelation about god-- the letter to the colossians tells us that "christ is the image of the invisible god." in union with christ all things hold together, in christ all things are reconciled to god, bringing peace on earth and in heaven-- to be a christian is to assert that jesus christ has reshaped human knowledge about god--

the early christians agreed that it was essential to explain the relationship between jesus and god-- yet their assertions about christ raised questions about the unity of god-- trinity theology provided an important solution; it kept christians from backsliding into superstitious polytheism, but it also prevented jewish monotheism from undermining the significance of christ-- the distinctive contribution of christianity was not monotheism, but a trinitarian understanding of god which recognized differences in the work of god in history, and also maintained the unity of god-- .

two words have been used historically to speak about the trinity-- one is the latin word "persona"; god is three persons in one nature or substance-- derived from the language of the theater, the word "persona" refers to masks worn by actors in their roles on stage-- today we give the word "person" more individualistic connotations, but in trinity theology the persons are three different characterizations of one dynamic actor--

a second word used to explain the trinity is the greek word "hypostasis"-- "hypostasis" is more than a mask or mode of appearance; it points to the individual existence of a particular nature-- although this word is also translated into english as "person," it emphasizes the belief that the trinitarian persons are not simply modes of being but individual, noninterchangeable subjects of the one common divine substance-- trinitarian persons are unique, but they are defined not only by their relationship to their common nature (or how they appear to others); they exist as community--

historical theology reflects these two ways of defining the trinity-- the first refers to how the one god is known, as when we speak about god the creator, redeemer and sustainer-these words describe god's work in the world-- but this so-called economic definition of a triune god fails to express the trinitarian truth that there is one god existing in community-- this is the view of the trinity as immanent, the way in which god embodies the very nature of reality as relational or communal--

as christians we are children of god and experience god's love in many ways, and we believe that we are created in god's image-- therefore, we need both economic and immanent understandings of the triune god-- we are called to respond to god's various ways in the world-- and we are invited to discover who we are by recognizing the relational nature of god-- it is in connection with this second insight that I find trinity theology truly consistent with my women/being life experience--

unlike men, women tend to find their identity in relationship-- furthermore, women's relationships do not follow patterns of hierarchy, but borrow more comfortably from the image of a web-- assumptions about hierarchy and power, common to men, are replaced by women with experiences of interconnection-- as women we know ourselves as separate only insofar as we live in connection with others, and we experience relationship only insofar as we differentiate other from self-- for women there is a fusion of identity and the web of intimacy-- as women we know that relationships of dominance and subordination result in experiences of oppression-- however, as women we also know the positive potential of relationships--

some theologians who value trinity theology insist that what is most important about belief in a triune god is not that we see god in three ways, but that we understand god as dynamic community-- within the triune god there is an energy which expresses the love of god--

all of us who have fallen in love know this reality-- a friendship between two persons may "exist" for years; the relationship is there, but it is static-- then, suddenly it changes, and the interpersonal situation comes alive with intense emotion and empathy-- lover and loved are one-- individuals shine and actually discover themselves in the love of the other-- their caring is so deep and full that it spills over into the lives of family and friends, and we cannot be in their presence without being touched by that love--

to believe in a triune god is to suggest that there is an inner relational energy within godself which spills over into our life-- john of damascus, an eighth-century theologian, describes this way of understanding god by proposing that there is an exchange of energy between the persons of the trinity by virtue of their eternal love-- the unity of the trinity is not static substance, or even familial relationship; it exists as open and loving community-- john of damascus uses the greek word "perichoresis" to describe what is going on within godself-- "perichoresis" comes from the same root as the word choreography-- it suggests that there is a circulatory character within the eternal divine dance of life--

when we desire in our life this triune god we celebrate the love which flows in god's eternal dance of togetherness-- and when women, dancing sarah's circle, affirm the importance of relationships in human life, they are doing more than reflecting women's psychology; they are showing all christians what it means to be created in god's image--

the doctrine of the trinity erodes the monarchical and patriarchal power of monotheism-- when god is no longer viewed as solitary and stark unity, or absolute unrelated personality, we are able to live with, not just fall down before, our god-- much theology has emphasized the dominance of god and the sinfulness of humanity-- but a truly social community based doctrine of the trinity contains the vision of a community of women and men in church and society without privilege or subjection to each other, or to god-- trinity theology asserts that relationship is fundamental to god and that community is the foundation of god's interaction with the world-- god as community calls us to shared responsibility--

understood in this way, the doctrine of the trinity sets forth an ethic of justice and care very similar to the ethic that psychologists see within women's lives-- it is based on a vision that the self and the other should be treated as of equal worth; that despite perceived differences in power, things should be fair; that everyone should be responded to and included and that no one should be left alone and hurt-- it sees morality as a problem of inclusion rather than a balancing of claims-- it sets up standards of nurturance, responsibility and care--

as a women i have had experiences that "led" me to understand god as community and to share an ethic that measures strength in terms of relationship-- just as the love of human lovers sometimes invades our lives with its passion, so god's community will not let us rest-- christ came to heal, reconcile, and invite the world to enter freely into the divine dance of life-- as christians we are called to try and be faithful to the dynamic reality of that divine love which surrounds us all--

life is the process of becoming...

very thoughtfulDog
Jan 31, 2002 9:09 PM
Lauren, that is one of the most thoughtful things I've read in a long time. Thanks.

Lot to digest.....Len J
Feb 1, 2002 4:36 AM
Thanks, I think I'll print it out, take it home over the weekend & think about it.

Thanks for the mind (& spirit)candy.

thoughtful responses?DINOSAUR
Jan 23, 2002 10:04 AM
Good response, now I see why you are an attorney....all I see is a bunch of bitter arguments that divide people up into little groups... better yet, I'll just stop here so I don't sound bitter. I'll just bundle up and go out for a ride in the bitter cold, the ice should be gone by now..(God willing) whoops can I say that?
Sorry, I just don't see itDog
Jan 23, 2002 10:18 AM
I'm not trying to be argumentative, nor to act like a lawywer, but I really see some thought provoking, sincere discussion here. I don't see the bitterness or divisiveness. In fact, this thread appears to be far less contentious, or at least more civil, than many of the component or frame material discussions we've had.

I agree that some of the religion discussions in the past have been bitter and divisive; I don't think it necessarily has to be that way.

One thing is for sure, though, if we can see this simple discussion so differently, people are certain to view much larger and more important issues very differently. Thankfully, we live in a free country where we can discuss these things.

Sorry, I just don't see itJon Billheimer
Jan 23, 2002 10:38 AM

Is anyone with views different from your own bitter and divisive? I don't think so. Examine yourself.

This discussion may be pluralistic, but certainly not bitter. I agree with Doug.
Sorry, I just don't see itDINOSAUR
Jan 23, 2002 12:56 PM
Sorry, maybe we are reading things differently...I'm not bitter, I don't slam anyone because they think differently than I. Anyone is entitled to an opinion. If I scroll over the post, a few of them slam anyone who is a believer, but it goes with the territory.

If someone really wants these questions answered intelligently, call up a couple of Pastors of some local churches. I bet they can't even agree on most of them, except #8, which is the foundation for Christianity (one God).

Anyway, I'm back from my ride it was a brisk 38 degrees on my front deck when I took off. Probably balmy campared to some parts of the country.

I thought about this discussion while on my ride, and all I could think about how bitter cold it was, especially on the descents...If you want bitter, you should have saw me before I retired...

Maybe we need a discussion on gun control...
Sure.Sintesi at home
Jan 24, 2002 7:40 PM
"To God all problems are small" That reached me (a decided agnostic)I liked that sentiment. It's good to share even if we can't all be believers.

On the whole this thread has been relatively knucklehead free. I'm looking forward to McAndrus' evidence and MJ's response. Could be interesting.
re: religion questions (St. Thomas Aquinas around?)BikingViking
Jan 23, 2002 12:34 PM
If God is truly all-knowing and all-seeing, He knows if I will ever accept His son into my heart and be saved. Knowing that, if He "lets" me travel down the road that leads to Hell, is He complicit in my banishment to Hell? I know that free will is a big part of it, but you would think if anyone was head toward the "dark" path, He'd put on his George Burns guise and show the right way.

This "faith" is a hard pill to swallow. A good friend of mine is a Christian, and we have talked at length about faith, but I just don't have it. The existence of a being whose existence we cannot prove violates my logic test. It would be great to believe, but I don't want to be suckered into a big fairy tale either.

My .02

Flame on!! :o)
faith and freedomDog
Jan 23, 2002 12:59 PM
We have faith every day without even thinking about it. I have faith that the oncoming truck on a two lane road won't cross over and run me over. I have faith that the sun will come up tomorrow; that when I take a drug prescribed by a doctor, it won't kill me; that Antarctica really exists (ever been there?); that people really are at the other end of the electronic beam that I see on television... There is a bit of faith involved in each.

You raise a good point, about free will and God being all powerful and all knowing. It's hard to conceive. I can't understand it. We are bound in our thinking largely by our language, and our language just can't account for that seeming paradox. Like someone else said, sometimes we just have to admit we don't know.

Let's anthropomorphize God a little bit and see if that makes sense. Let's say you have children, and have the ability to train and control them to do exactly as you say for the rest of their lives. Would you? Would you keep them from burning themselves, or would you let them get burned a little so they learn how to avoid accidental burns that could be worse? Would you pick out their mates, or allow them to choose? Would you lock them up on the bedroom, or allow them to see the world and roam free? I haven't figured this out, but I tend to think that if God has a "parental" aspect to His nature, then allowing us freedom is the best gift He could give us.

The "Triple O" GodJon Billheimer
Jan 23, 2002 1:31 PM
It is impossible to reconcile the problem of evil with the idea of an Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent God--the God of Aquinas and Descartes. Which is why Rabbi Harold Kushner in "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" suggests that God is in fact limited and does not have anything to do with evil in the world. He also admits that this is a pastoral, not a theological, solution. Interestingly, Kushner is required reading in more Christian seminaries than Jewish.
Three religous truths....DINOSAUR
Jan 23, 2002 4:29 PM
1. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

2. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of
the Christian church.

3. Baptists do not recognize each other in the liquor store
or at Hooters.

This is a joke, not meant to offend anyone...
good oneDog
Jan 23, 2002 5:05 PM
I like it. So often there is truth in humor...
Why won't Baptists?McAndrus
Jan 23, 2002 5:14 PM
Why won't Baptists make love standing up? Because someone might accuse them of dancing.

A Baptist told me that ..... no, really.
I believe in cheeseburgers, lettuce and tomatosWoof the dog
Jan 23, 2002 8:59 PM
wow, look at this great discussion on religion you guys are having. Its too bad I didn't look at it earlier. It would be much more likely to invoke some interesting comments by what I could have posted....could have, but I won't. Maybe it is great that I didn't open this thread earlier. Out of any of you I found MJ and a few others to make some sense. I am taking some religion and philosophy classes as of now and my head already hurts from too much thinking. Here is what I think, and I am sure you all wanna read this, wink wink.
I do not doubt there is such a thing as a religious experience. This religious experience may be an oh-so-typical angel giving you an advice, or it could be a shattered bottle of your favorite beer. This essential experience that changes your life IS what some would call God. Good book to read is The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. Religion is all about you and how you live your life. It is anything you want it to be, really. I think there are no truths, no facts, just commonalities in what people experience and one such commonality many of you would call God. I don't know though, is it a fact that there are no facts? I think I am getting into something about which I have nothing to operate on.
I find all this bickering about what gets angry where and why inappropriate, if i can say that, because it all comes down to the differences in tractations of the same texts and traditions derived from commonalities. Why can't we say that yes, there is something inexplicable and leave it at that because one's experiences fall short of meaning to others? Agnosticism is great, its not a cowardly way to escape the topic but rather a better understanding of what it all comes down to. As I may have said in a different thread, organized religion is not for me because it has so many other things attached to it - dogmas, power, society, etc. but if it serves its original "clean" purpose for you, thats great!
Now, a good question to think about would be "is there good and bad?" I am not sure there is because we define it through what we feel (read 'through God') but you know how incompetent we have been so far. Ahhhh, doG, I love science!!! Its a solvable puzzle that involves simple things like observation and reason, and at the end of the day you can throw it ALL out of your head, AND YOU GET PAID!!!!!!!! I would never want to get paid trying to solve the unsolvable puzzles of religion. You get to swallow fat cheeseburgers and lettuce and tomato after work and ride your expensive bike indulging yourself in material pleasures. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that, as a matter of fact, i think we must worship cheeseburgers, yes cheeseburgers, for their immense simplicity and a deeper meaning...i am not joking!!! The deeper meaning being that you live knowing that you don't know after all this thinking. Of course, to have a working society we must add all these god-derived mores, logic and reason, but we, as a society must concentrate on worshiping cheeseburgers (or another, more healthy material object like lettuce)!

On a more serious note, new age movements have a better appeal to me than your regular Christian dogmas.

Do you know how much it hurts? I am seriously tired of thinking about stuff like this! I will kill if any more of these threads get posted in the future.


Woof the thinking and typing dog.
Woof, You Make a Better Beagle, than a Philosopher-Poodle:-) (nmJon Billheimer
Jan 23, 2002 10:00 PM