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Why Do Some Christians Assume?

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posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 11:12 AM
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Why do some Christians seem to assume that when a person uses the word "god" that they must be referring to the Christian god, or the Judeo-Christian god?

Obviously, Christianity is not the only belief on the block, yet in my experiences many Christians tend to think the mere mention of the word god has to be referring to their defined god. I use the word god to mean something entirely different from what a Christian person means. Yet I've had my words taken and twisted to make it seem that I believed what they believe, when that is inaccurate.

To clarify my point, I am going to use some definitions and examples from philosophy. These things also basically agree with my own opinions on god or a higher order, and can in that way show what I mean when I use the word god. My point is that a person can use the word god without meaning a Christian god, or without meaning any other preconceived notion of god backed by an organized religion.

I'm using Christianity as the example here though, because that is where most of my experience on this topic falls as I've had and have many Christian friends who seem to make this error in claiming the word god is somehow theirs exclusively.


I've not made this part of my post bold, because this is not the main question of my post. It is only something I want to use as an example to explain what I mean in the bold part of my post. Einstein is part of my example because I value his attitude of respect and humility towards religion, while he still held his own beliefs in contrast. It was a risk to go against that grain in his times, and I think we could all learn a thing or two from his views on both theism and atheism. He was never out to disprove god, he simply lacked the belief of some who define god differently than he did.

There has been some discussion going on in other threads about whether or not Einstein was an atheist. I don't really care if he was an atheist or not. But what I was trying to say is that anyone with a belief ends up being an atheist to other beliefs. A Christian would be an atheist to the Greek gods for example, or to the Egyptian gods. A person can be a Christian and be an atheist about something else, at the same time. In the same sense, a person can be an atheist about Christianity, and yet still have their own view on god, making them not an atheist to their own particular viewpoint.

In the same way, the word agnostic can be applied different ways. Theism/Atheism implies a belief or lack of belief, gnosticism/agnosticism implies a degree of knowledge or lack of knowledge, not belief. Therefore, one could be an agnostic atheist, agnostic theist, gnostic atheist, or a gnostic theist. I would personally, when referring to Judeo-Christianity, be an agnostic atheist. I do not believe in a Judeo-Christian god, but I also do not claim to know for sure that there could not be a Judeo-Christian god. I also still have my own idea of god, for which you could then say I am not an atheist. But regardless, I am still then an atheist to Christianity. I hope I made sense here.

So, Einstein may have had his own ideas of god just like I do, but he never committed to a belief, and definitely did not believe in Judeo-Christianity or "personal gods". Einstein's view of god was that of the cosmos, nature, physics, and science, not of personal gods, or being able to have a relationship with god, or to know god, or that god intervened ever with man's course of existence.

Just to back up what I'm describing here I'd like to cite some quotations by Einstein and other people who had this same dilemma. That dilemma being that he didn't quite consider himself an atheist in totality, because he did have his own concept of god, but he was still an atheist to Judeo-Christianity. This is where all the confusion has arose over whether or not Einstein was an atheist.

Let's start with Einstein's views on personal gods, and thus his views on Judeo-Christianity:

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." -- Albert Einstein

from 1954, from Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press


If you don't quite know what "personal god" means, here is an informative description:

The Christian God is a personal God. This does not mean that God is a human being, but that God has "personality" and the capability of both relationships with other personal beings. This is seen clearly in both the Old and New Testaments, in which God is described in strongly personal terms (father, shepherd, etc.) and establishes relationships with human beings. In this belief, Christianity is like Judaism and Islam but very different from deism or the theism of Greek philosophy. In the latter systems, God is an impersonal force that causes the world to exist but does not interact with it.


God can only be known to the extent that He reveals Himself. “No man has seen God at any time” (John. 1:18), but God has revealed Himself in His natural creation (cf. Rom. 1:20), as a Personal God to His people (cf. Exodus 3:14), and subsequently revealed Himself supernaturally in the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ (cf. John 1:14; 14:9; Luke 10:22).


A Biblical understanding of God’s Being is based on the fact that “God is personal Being.” God did not identify Himself as “all that is,” but as “I AM that I AM” (Exod. 3:14). This is not just a statement of God’s existence, and certainly not a statement that “God is all that exists.” God reveals Himself as Personal Being.

Link to Religion Facts site
Link to Christ In You site


So this is what is meant by a "personal god" in relation to Judeo-Christianity and others. Here are some more instances where Einstein made clear his views on the bible and personal gods:

“The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.”


“It is quite possible that we can do greater things than Jesus, for what is written in the Bible about him is poetically embellished.”


The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. -- Albert Einstein

said in a letter responding to philosopher Eric Gutkind, who had sent him a copy of his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt; quoted from James Randerson, "Childish Superstition: Einstein's Letter Makes View of Religion Relatively Clear: Scientist's Reply to Sell for up to £8,000, and Stoke Debate over His Beliefs" The Guardian, (13 May 2008)


I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms. -- Albert Einstein

from obituary in New York Times, 19 April 1955, quoted from James A Haught, "Breaking the Last Taboo" (1996)


I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it. -- Albert Einstein

from 1954, from Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press


A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. -- Albert Einstein

" from Religion and Science," New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930


It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere.... Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. -- Albert Einstein

from "Religion and Science," New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930


Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being. -- Albert Einstein

from 1936, responding to a child who wrote and asked if scientists pray. Source: Albert Einstein: The Human Side, Edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffmann


I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. [He was speaking of Quantum Mechanics and the breaking down of determinism.] My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance -- but for us, not for God. -- Albert Einstein

from Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press


I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature. -- Albert Einstein

from The World as I See It


“I cannot accept any concept of God based on the fear of life or the fear of death or blind faith. I cannot prove to you that there is no personal God, but if I were to speak of him I would be a liar.”


“Why do you write to me ‘God should punish the English’? I have no close connection to either one or the other. I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only His nonexistence could excuse Him.”

Einstein Letter calls bible "pretty childish"


Those quotes, to me, show that Einstein did not believe in the bible, and so did not believe in Judeo-Christianity, making him atheistic towards those beliefs. He explicitly said he had no close connection to god in the final quote. However, this certainly does not mean that Einstein didn't have his own concepts of god, as you can see in these quotes:

My views are near those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem - the most important of all human problems.”


“I am a deeply religious nonbeliever…. This is a somewhat new kind of religion.”


“My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that a vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment.”



Now to include something on what exactly Spinoza's beliefs were, which is the only thing Einstein ever compared his own views to. Einstein was an atheist to some religions, but to his own personal views he did not consider himself an atheist, because he possessed a philosophical belief that nature itself is god, similar to Spinoza:

Baruch (or Benedictus) Spinoza is one of the most important philosophers—and certainly the most radical—of the early modern period. His thought combines a commitment to Cartesian metaphysical and epistemological principles with elements from ancient Stoicism and medieval Jewish rationalism into a nonetheless highly original system. His extremely naturalistic views on God, the world, the human being and knowledge serve to ground a moral philosophy centered on the control of the passions leading to virtue and happiness. They also lay the foundations for a strongly democratic political thought and a deep critique of the pretensions of Scripture and sectarian religion. Of all the philosophers of the seventeenth-century, perhaps none have more relevance today than Spinoza.


God is not some goal-oriented planner who then judges things by how well they conform to his purposes. Things happen only because of Nature and its laws. “Nature has no end set before it … All things proceed by a certain eternal necessity of nature.” To believe otherwise is to fall prey to the same superstitions that lie at the heart of the organized religions


For centuries, Spinoza has been regarded—by his enemies and his partisans, in the scholarly literature and the popular imagination—as a “pantheist”. It is not clear, however, that this is the proper way to look at his conception of God. Of course, Spinoza is not a traditional theist, for whom God is a transcendent being. But does Spinoza's identification of God with Nature mean that he is, as so many have insisted for so long, from the early eighteenth century up through the most recent edition of the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, a pantheist?


Is Spinoza, then, a pantheist? Any adequate analysis of Spinoza's identification of God and Nature will show clearly that Spinoza cannot be a pantheist in the second, immanentist sense. For Spinoza, there is nothing but Nature and its attributes and modes. And within Nature there can certainly be nothing that is supernatural. If Spinoza is seeking to eliminate anything, it is that which is above or beyond nature, which escapes the laws and processes of nature. But is he a pantheist in the first, reductive sense?

Link to Stanford site on Spinoza


This leads into the question of pantheism. Pantheism is something different, but similar, to Spinoza and Einstein's belief. However, Einstein reiterated that he did not consider himself pantheistic either. So Einstein did have a view of god as nature, but it did not conform to pantheism in its entirety. The closest thing that could be said of Einstein having a theistic belief would be his belief in Spinoza's philosophy, which obviously is not in accordance with Judeo-Christianity or personal gods:

"I'm no atheist (ACCORDING TO SPINOZA'S BELIEFS), and I don't think that I could define myself as pantheist. We are in the situation of a child which enters a huge library, full of books written in many different languages. The child knows that someone must have written these books, but doesn't know how. And it doesn't know the languages the books are written in. The child suspects being a mysterious order in the disposition of the books, but doesn't know which. This seems to me the human position, even of the most intelligent ones, in front of God..."


"The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism." -Albert Einstein


"It is very difficult to elucidate this [cosmic religious] feeling to anyone who is entirely without it. . . The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it ... In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it." -Einstein



So what we have come to is that Einstein was atheistic towards personal gods, but not atheistic in totality because he held the beliefs of Spinoza. So to be fair here, Einstein did not regard himself as a full blown atheist, he did have his own beliefs in god, just not that of Christianity. He felt that an agnostic stance was very important, which is why he often spoke of not liking some total atheist's "fervent" or "fanatical" need to disprove god. Einstein was an atheist in certain senses, but not an atheist OVERALL:

"Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source . . . They are creatures who can't hear the music of the spheres."


"What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos."


"I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth."


To get back to my original point of my OP now...I hold a similar view of god to Einstein and Spinoza. When I say the word god, that is the concept of god that I am referring to, not a Christian god. But throughout my life, I have had Christians simply assume that my mere mention of god means THEIR god. It does not. I have seen others do this to people of varying religious beliefs also.

Why do religious groups, and some Christians, seem to believe the only definition of god is theirs and theirs alone? This is where the arguments over Einstein being an atheist or not arose, because some Christians just assume that Einstein meant their god when he used the word god.

So anyone else out there, atheist, and theists alike, do you have an experience such as this, with a religious person assuming your view of god must be their view? It is as if some Christians cannot grasp the fact that people can be atheistic to Christianity, but still believe in their own concept of god.


I am in no way trying to incite intolerance with my post. I think that all religious views should be tolerated. I'm not attacking Christianity. I am not trying to disprove Christianity. I'm not looking for petty arguments. I am simply stating my beliefs, illustrating them with Einstein and Spinoza, and asking a question.
edit on 12/20/2010 by SpaceJ because: Because I fail at BBC.




posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 11:32 AM
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Nice post, long, but fairly laid out
Wanted to comment on just this..

Originally posted by SpaceJ
So anyone else out there, atheist, and theists alike, do you have an experience such as this, with a religious person assuming your view of god must be their view?

I think the history books are filled with that particular view..often with bloody results



posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 11:37 AM
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reply to post by SaturnFX
 


Thanks. I tend to be over wordy and that makes it hard to lay things out in a not insane manner. Sorry if the post is too long or confusing to anyone. I tried my best.

Yes, throughout history there's many examples. I just wonder how people feel about it hitting closer to home. And I wonder why people have such a hard time accepting that people do indeed have alternative ideas of god.

It's like those people think that if they deny your belief long enough it will just cease to exist. Well it hasn't yet!



posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 11:52 AM
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Because most Christians have been brainwashed since childbirth.



posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 11:59 AM
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Originally posted by Ghost374
Because most Christians have been brainwashed since childbirth.


But haven't we all been brainwashed with one thing or another since birth?

I wonder why some people can make it past that hurdle, and be open to tolerance of all views. And then some people seem to never make it past that hurdle, only ever considering their own belief. Convictions can be dangerously limiting if you allow them to be.

Personally, I enjoy considering all beliefs. But none have convinced me, so my own view is really specific to myself. Spinoza, or just the idea of god is nature in general, is about as far as my beliefs go as of now. I don't usually use the word god though, to summarize this belief, because it gets taken out of context so easily...by people who assume. And you know what they say about assuming.



posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 12:18 PM
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Originally posted by Ghost374
Because most Christians have been brainwashed since childbirth.


What about those of us who have been brainwashed with Atheism and Evolution from elementary school through college and rejected it afterwards?




posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 12:37 PM
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Originally posted by NOTurTypical

Originally posted by Ghost374
Because most Christians have been brainwashed since childbirth.


What about those of us who have been brainwashed with Atheism and Evolution from elementary school through college and rejected it afterwards?



Good point! I myself was raised an atheist by my dad, my mom was raised as a Catholic but doesn't really practice it anymore. Most of my friends as a child were Catholic or Lutheran. If my dad had his way I would have been a hardcore atheist. If my mom had her way I would have believed at least.

I choose to take neither path of brainwashing. I have my own ideas and I am comfortable with them, and I leave the possibility open for god. I don't want to shut the door on the concept, but I don't agree with most preconceived notions of god.

It could go both ways. I just find that the most over-assumed thing in all religions is that if someone says GOD then it must be the bible's god. Like they lay an exclusive claim on the word. As if we who don't participate in religion or organized religion, need to make up our own word or something. We aren't allowed, according to them, to say god on our own terms.



posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 12:45 PM
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Nice post (: I know how you feel with people do that to you DD: Me and all of my siblings were raised Christian, but my brother converted to Islam a few years ago, and wile I try to be really, really respectful of their religion and learn about it and stuff, they don't seem to care at all about doing the same to me. His daughter constantly tries to start fights with me because she thinks I'm referring to HER God when I say "God"...

I think it's just ignorance, or maybe people are just becoming too used to being around like-minded people and assume that everybody is whatever religion they happen to be? I really wish people would stop though.
edit on 12/20/2010 by SFlowers because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 01:57 PM
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reply to post by SpaceJ
 
SpaceJ,

I guess the only thing with me is when I talk about my God, in the context I make known it is Yahweh. I know there is gods many is why I do. What I've wondered about a lot is when Atheists and Agnostics swear and say god d_ _ _ it whatever, who are they asking this of? It is useless to ask Yahweh to damn anything as that is a vain request. It is using His name in vain. Does your god answer such a request?

Just on a side note, I at one time knew a strong Atheist in his conversations with me and they were many and long. This one day I came upon him he had an accident that give him a strong blow to the genitals. He cursed like a poll parrot. Then he dropped to his knees and asked God for forgiveness.

I never let him know I overheard him but he never ever gave up quering, questoning, asking me on the subject of God. He couldn't have been very secure is my feeling.

Truthiron.



posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 01:58 PM
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I really enjoyed reading this OP! S+F!


I've spent 13 years (kindergarten included) total attending elementary and high school Catholic schools in San Francisco and from the teaching I received in religious studies, we were taught to stray away from the notion that when the term god is used, it's not always going to be about the discussion of the god of your own religion. I find the same to be true of people who attended Catholic schools from around the Bay Area too, yet I found that once I left school and found that those whom the OP describes in the original posting are more often than not "Born-Again Catholics" (fanatical Catholics who've converted to Catholicism later in life; I never knew of them till I was 19) and Christians from different denominations.

In my opinion, I think that the mentality of the individuals talked about in the OP comes as a defensive measure because as I've witnessed in society today, there's a fear by those faithful that their religious belief system is under attack (brought about by what I see as political fear mongering by those with agendas) be that by other religions or the "unbelievers".

I consider these people (those of my own beliefs too) to be religiously hypersensitive (through no intentional fault of their own for most individuals) and when discussing matters concerning god/gods/God, it would be best to let the accusation that you're in some way attacking THEIR "god" pass right through you and take the higher road not allowing your own emotions to get the best of you. If they continue to assume the same notion then as in any situation following the same pattern of emotionally driven thought then it's no use speaking with someone who will drive you to stroke out.


As to the beliefs of Albert Einstein, I find myself in agreement with some of his thoughts. I've had those same thoughts concerning the personal god for some time (starting about the 7th/8th grade) so I guess by today's labeling I'm a "cafeteria Catholic" because I ponder the validity in believing some tenets of the faith.

Here's a quote by Carl Sagan that I found on Wikipedia that I particularly enjoy:



-- Some people think God is an outsized, light-skinned male with a long white beard, sitting on a throne somewhere up there in the sky, busily tallying the fall of every sparrow. Others—for example Baruch Spinoza and Albert Einstein—considered God to be essentially the sum total of the physical laws which describe the universe. I do not know of any compelling evidence for anthropomorphic patriarchs controlling human destiny from some hidden celestial vantage point, but it would be madness to deny the existence of physical laws.

--The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.



posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 02:23 PM
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Originally posted by truthiron
reply to post by SpaceJ
 
SpaceJ,

I guess the only thing with me is when I talk about my God, in the context I make known it is Yahweh. I know there is gods many is why I do. What I've wondered about a lot is when Atheists and Agnostics swear and say god d_ _ _ it whatever, who are they asking this of? It is useless to ask Yahweh to damn anything as that is a vain request. It is using His name in vain. Does your god answer such a request?

Just on a side note, I at one time knew a strong Atheist in his conversations with me and they were many and long. This one day I came upon him he had an accident that give him a strong blow to the genitals. He cursed like a poll parrot. Then he dropped to his knees and asked God for forgiveness.

I never let him know I overheard him but he never ever gave up quering, questoning, asking me on the subject of God. He couldn't have been very secure is my feeling.

Truthiron.



That's the kind of thing I'm talking about exactly, another good point. I am not religious, but I still say "god bless you" sometimes when people sneeze, just to be polite in case they do believe in a Christian god or any god for which a phrase is needed for sneezing.
As a joke, my friends and I had started simply saying "sneeze you" when a person sneezed. This made no sense obviously, but we were only in junior high at the time.

In the same sense, I do occasionally say god d_ _ _ when I hurt myself or something bad happens. I do not mean the God of the bible or any religion when I say it. I don't even really mean my own idea of god, when I say it. I guess you could say it is to say "damn" the universe, or existence, or nature? Or whatever caused the pain? More than anything though, for me, it's a knee jerk reaction. A reflex of a common phrase. Though I try not to use it too much for various reasons. I never mean disrespect by it.

On your atheist friend, I'd say he was unsure in his beliefs. Maybe he was so upset by religion, but also felt a deep need for something to believe in, for something to be responsible for all we see. He was probably struggling with reconciling his disbeliefs with his need for belief. The idea that there is absolutely nothing out there that's responsible for the universe, is a depressing thought to say the least, for some people. It could have been for the reason I described in my OP, maybe your friend hand his own idea of god that no one else shared in common with him. Maybe he was speaking to that.



posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 02:46 PM
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Originally posted by mistafaz

In my opinion, I think that the mentality of the individuals talked about in the OP comes as a defensive measure because as I've witnessed in society today, there's a fear by those faithful that their religious belief system is under attack (brought about by what I see as political fear mongering by those with agendas) be that by other religions or the "unbelievers".

As to the beliefs of Albert Einstein, I find myself in agreement with some of his thoughts. I've had those same thoughts concerning the personal god for some time (starting about the 7th/8th grade) so I guess by today's labeling I'm a "cafeteria Catholic" because I ponder the validity in believing some tenets of the faith.

Here's a quote by Carl Sagan that I found on Wikipedia that I particularly enjoy:



-- Some people think God is an outsized, light-skinned male with a long white beard, sitting on a throne somewhere up there in the sky, busily tallying the fall of every sparrow. Others—for example Baruch Spinoza and Albert Einstein—considered God to be essentially the sum total of the physical laws which describe the universe. I do not know of any compelling evidence for anthropomorphic patriarchs controlling human destiny from some hidden celestial vantage point, but it would be madness to deny the existence of physical laws.

--The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.


I liked your post a lot. I've never seen those quotes. No, it doesn't make much sense to pray to gravity.
But yes, that's how I feel about god. I'll have to read up more on Sagan's thoughts. I love when things are sensible.

I do believe in some cases it's a defense mechanism as you say. I understand that by acknowledging other people's views of god that it can begin to seem like a denial of your own faith. I wish people could be confident in their beliefs but also bear no ill regard towards other beliefs.

The Carl Sagan quote points out another issue. A personal god is an emotionally satisfying god to an extent, or in the views of those who believe in a personal god. My concept of god makes me feel emotional sure, with wonder or amazement, etc, but it does not do anything directly to satisfy those emotions further, because mine is not a personal god. But that works for me. I think nature "speaks" in its own way, albeit it is not directly speaking to us, of course.

For example, I don't mean to say the wind is saying anything. Just that everything existing says it all for me, without the need of religious doctrine to follow. You could say a Christian feels justified emotionally by their views of god. To me, nature itself, the inner workings of all that there is, is what elicits emotion. So then, being in awe of it all is enough for me, I would feel no need to "pray to gravity" as Sagan jokes.

That is where I and a Christian would differ, because they feel a need for a close connection with a god who is personal. My belief is that it is all around us, all the time, so there is no need for communication. It just is. In that way, my beliefs aren't even that different from a Christian, "god" encompasses everything. It's just that I don't think god is an identity like a human is, or that god has a personality, or shares human emotions, so I'd have no reason to speak to this concept of god.

Some Christians would say that I am then using the word god wrong, or that I have no clue what I'm talking about, and that's where I'd probably respectfully try to end the conversation.

Thanks for your replies though everyone, this is exactly the kind of discussion I wanted to come from my post. With no one being nasty about things.

edit on 12/20/2010 by SpaceJ because: word fix




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