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Can anyone explain to me why christianity and the christian god make any sense?

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posted on Jun, 26 2011 @ 07:05 PM
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Originally posted by ExistentialNightmare
reply to post by Frira
 


Me (using these to keep track in editing, because my "preview" is not functioning as expected):

but "sin" defined as "missing the mark" is rather obviously true. It says nothing more than "no man is perfect.


You:
Indeed, Christianity clearly setting the "mark" and i'm sure most of us are willing to admit that no man is infallable.

Me:

You won't hear that from the Bible-thumpers-- they mean by "sin" anything you do that they don't like is evil and you will burn in Hell for it.


You:
If the word of God dictates what is considered as hitting "the mark" whether it be mixed fabrics, whether it be about pork being unholy, or homosexuality; if people believe it is the word of God; it will cause prejudice. Because it's rooted in a doctrine that makes extraordinary claims regarding the supernatural; or even afterlife.

Me:

But that is what they were taught the word means-- yet it is not the meaning.


You:
Well i'm quite sure many Bishops and possibly a Pope would disagree. Of course, with a lot of sinister dogma; many of it is open to interpetation; or people will interpret it in accordance with current social adherences (homosexuality, women's rights) Whereas other dogma is very direct; and there's no escaping the sinister message (and thus abhorrent morality) behind them.


Maybe... kind of.. sort of.. perhaps...

There is quite a bit of mean-ness between denominations-- many an agenda which demonizes a perceived opponent to get a foothold, or even a headline. I trying to stay clear of such issues in this discussion-- the temptation to digress is powerful. How's this: Don't believe everything your hear one Christian say about another. I work hard at objectivity-- but I have my preferences and they will come out as bias.

Knowingly setting myself up for a tongue-lashing from some of my brothers and sisters in Christ... the concept that the "Word of God" as in "the Bible" is all you need has not been around for even a third of the history of the Church and has not ever been accepted by all of the Church-- or even most of it.

For the greatest part, the work of the Church and of instruction has included Scripture, but not to the exclusion of all else. The earliest Church, in fact, was centered around mysteries-- not the written word. I shake my head in sorrow when I hear people using Scripture "at" others, and I do the same when hear it used to denounce modern scientists (and by the way, modern scientists like Hawking, writing diatribes against anyone who believes, is equally sorrowful). For such, I often think it is like handing a loaded weapon to a child-- not everyone is really ready to understand what it is they read-- not even me.

This I can say with certainty: the Bible is not for attacking other persons.


As for the claims being extraordinary... Why Yes! They are! I think we are extraordinary! I can't think of a better starting place than that!

You are close to describing my interpretation-- it is very much leaning toward the symbolic-- but that largely, I think, because my mind works that way. It is a very big book, and needs to be understood as a whole. To use a common example (again, I cringe at the wrath I may endure for saying this). The Adam and Eve story describes a spiritual truth-- however, that spiritual truth is more difficult to begin to discover if the story is not first taken to be factual. That is not saying that describes historical factual events-- nor is it to say that it is not. The mystery is that it is, in part, both; but it is far more a spiritual truth. That is the point and the purpose. Not the point and not the purpose would be, for example, to teach against evolution. No. It is to teach of purpose and meaning in relation to God.



Then I wrote:

Honestly, I have answer to the question posed in the OP. The answer is Yes. I can explain; but I have spent decades learning Christianity and more over, learning about God and I certainly do not have all the answers. I dedicated my life to it, not out of some zeal or fervor, but it simply is who and what I am-- I don't know why. No question was more important to me and I went about my search quietly.


and you replied...


I would disagree with your answer but I would never critise anyone for believing what they wish; and if it makes them feel "happy" or gets them through life; then who am i to critise that? But i certainly consider Bernard Shaw's words reasonable:-


“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one”

Obviously you have a degree of faith in regards to the dogma of a specific religion; and perhaps you take comfort in it, or you feel that assists you on your journey of truth.....


Well, I do have an answer-- I greatly fear it is insufficient to "convert" another. I wasn't converted-- I had this odd sense since my earliest memories. Maybe because I was Baptized as infant-- maybe something unseen really happens to the unseen soul? I really don't know-- I tend to think of it is being cradled in the arms of God for some reason which I still have not learned-- I'm not special-- I do not take credit for my profound faith-- I didn't do it. Likewise, I don't blame persons for not having faith-- it is not something to our credit either way-- from my own experience-- others may differ... well, others do differ!

I certainly am not happy. I wish my faith could produce happiness in me-- especially when I see others who claim that their faith does that. I don't see a cause and effect. Rather than happy, I find meaning and purpose-- or the hope of them when I cannot find them at any given time.

In fact, I have speculated to others that proselytizing seems dangerous-- that there is no promise of a Rose Garden, and if the faith is portrayed that way, as soon as there is pain, a person will reject the faith because it was offered with a false promise of bliss in this life. I'm not looking for bliss. I'm looking for God, I'm looking for meaning-- and this is not about me-- not this thread: Your mileage may vary.


I fear that being a mystic based on an ancient doctrine can only lead to Pathological methodology of science; if you have faith in the answers of doctrine; you will only seek the answers that seem relevant to the narrow-minded context of the bible and it's metaphysical claims.


Ah! A very mature concern! You will find my engagement in a discussion on string theory on this site even has me looking to tie quantum physics into metaphysical speculation! But, of course, the inverse is also true for all others: Whatever our experiences and values-- those will shape our perspective-- whether it religion, aliens, politics, global warming-- what we accept is true, we tend to seek out confirmation and reject all else. Objectivity is a discipline.

As for pathology, and interesting psychological positions that has been around for at least a hundred years is that a religious experience had many commonalities with a psychotic episode. The differences, however, have been noted so often and so predictably that the are held as accurate and useful. A psychotic episode overwhelms in a way that the person is victimized, controlled, and is disordered in form and in subsequent effect on behavior and thought. A religious experience, besides being benevolent (or at least benign) in both form and subsequent effect on behavior and thought does not leave a person subjugated to it. That is off the top of my head from reading done quite some time ago.

Only one of those need produce a narrow mindedness.


At the moment; i'm not quite sure if you are a Deist or a vague believer of the Christian faith; I saw you quote CS Lewis; Perhaps you relate to the bible in a metaphorical sense, or even a Pathological sense. This is what i like to call "vague faith".

To claim the truth to the existence of a deity is one claim (Deism); to claim to know and understand the deity's mind is separate claim (Theism) and in my opinion, no less extraordinary; but both positions daringly fail to provide even ordinary evidence for their extraordinary supernatural claims.

I have no concerns with a person being a mystic; there's nothing to stop an atheist being spiritual; or being curious of the unknown or the trancendant.

Peace.
edit on 26-6-2011 by ExistentialNightmare because: (no reason given)


Cautious curiosity-- reasoning, and so you want to know a bit about me? Okay. I'm a Christian-- active, participating and nothing vague about it, having a profound and tried faith-- just as I believe my Lord is active and participating (not to mention, profound!). Theist, but not as defined as knowing the mind of God. I can be arrogant, but I don't go that far! How about an awareness that I am known by God-- that awareness often fleeting but frequent enough and or profound enough to grasp it?

I think it was Aquinas (who wrote the Summa I recently mentioned in a post)... Apparently having visions of what comes next after death as he lay dieing, he said something like, "Everything I have written is but straw!"

So anyway, I wonder, but I don't know, if my mystical... whatever... gift? is because my life has been truly awful. Maybe those whose lives need not be as mine has been-- perhaps they often know great joy. I would like that. Still, the teleological end of such persons and mine, I believe will make this life but straw.

It just occurred to me as I was proof reading... Are you familiar with "Apologetics?" Some of the most ancient Christian writings which are not found in the Bible concern defending the reasonableness of the Christian faith in periods of early persecutions. You might find the arguments of value.

I'm sure I can do better if I set my mind to it, but for starters, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and Tertullian come to mind. All before the Church was internally divided, all before the Church held any temporal power. Interesting to see what they argue and what is argued now; but more interesting, I think, because it is of Church seeking to survive by appealing to reason. Being a Christian mystic is dangerous unless balanced by reasoning-- so I treasure such writings.

Let me end by saying-- your objections are reasonable, you are thinking this through in an impressive manner, and you are engaging that which is offered by others. You are doing far better than the vast majority of persons I have shared a pew with. This part is fun for me-- and thank you.

Peace to you.




posted on Jun, 26 2011 @ 07:30 PM
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reply to post by Frira
 
NoturTypical referenced a book purporting to be proof of the historical Jesus and I went to Amazon and looked at the reviews that gave it one star. The third on the list has a good commentary and I will quote one sentence from it.

Faith and Reason are incapable of reconciliation, and for exactly that reason one should never feel the need to defend their faith against attacks of any kind.



posted on Jun, 28 2011 @ 11:29 AM
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reply to post by Frira
 



Maybe... kind of.. sort of.. perhaps...

There is quite a bit of mean-ness between denominations-- many an agenda which demonizes a perceived opponent to get a foothold, or even a headline. I trying to stay clear of such issues in this discussion-- the temptation to digress is powerful.


I'd say "a bit of mean-ness" was severe underexaggeration; religious "differences" have caused war and bloodfeud throughout history; and still do to this today (Ireland, Israel and Egypt to name a few)

Sure.... we can say "it's just a few bad eggs" but it's because they have such profound belief, such faith in doctrine that they will act on it, they will consider other people to be inferior because they are not worshipping the correct God; They're killing each other's children for the sake of their differences.


How's this: Don't believe everything your hear one Christian say about another. I work hard at objectivity-- but I have my preferences and they will come out as bias.


Again, the disagreement or prejudice is caused by doctrine; how about this; why should we even believe the claims of the bible? For what reasons other than blind faith?


Knowingly setting myself up for a tongue-lashing from some of my brothers and sisters in Christ... the concept that the "Word of God" as in "the Bible" is all you need has not been around for even a third of the history of the Church and has not ever been accepted by all of the Church-- or even most of it


I'm no sure what concept you're referring to; people hold these prejudices becuase the doctrine makes miraculous claims to divinity or holyness, they believe they are the best books ever written; many some still do (The Quran; followers believe it's the best book written because it's unchanged, unaltered) Have you read the Quran?


For the greatest part, the work of the Church and of instruction has included Scripture, but not to the exclusion of all else. The earliest Church, in fact, was centered around mysteries


Can you provide a source or example of such?

The original abrahamic dogma claims that geoligical events are punishment issued at the will of a deity. That's not investigating mystery; that's speculating; and who can blame them? In an age where knowledge was little, and superstition was ripe.

The church has opposed truth seekers throughout history such as Gallileo and despised the Age of the Enlightenment, because it challenged the bible's "truth".


I shake my head in sorrow when I hear people using Scripture "at" others, and I do the same when hear it used to denounce modern scientists (and by the way, modern scientists like Hawking, writing diatribes against anyone who believes, is equally sorrowful)


If your faith is based on belief in a "divine" doctrine; it would be considered "good" to preach it, to make other people believe in it. Also, if you truly believe in the bible, anyone who is skeptical or doesn't follow the dogma could be seen as "sub-par" in the eyes of their lord.

Again, these prejudices are easily formed when you surrender your critical faculties to a book written a long time ago, and consisting of extraordinary metaphysical claims.

I think Hawkins has a right to free speech as anyone else; I'm certainly more trust worthy in his words than some mindless prothletyzer, and i know if evidence comes about regarding a deity, or any previous metaphysical claim; he will renounce his skepticism, and thus his ridicule; that's what it means to value and respect truth.


This I can say with certainty: the Bible is not for attacking other persons.


But the bible itself happily attacks people; homosexuals, or people of another race. (Passages available on request)


As for the claims being extraordinary... Why Yes! They are! I think we are extraordinary! I can't think of a better starting place than that!


Well that's not what i meant; i state that the bible makes extraordinary metaphysical claims; afterlife (heaven and hell) and even attempts to polarize morality "Holy" and "sinful".


You are close to describing my interpretation-- it is very much leaning toward the symbolic-- but that largely, I think, because my mind works that way.


Perhaps you'd like to become a Satanist!? Symbolism is ripe throughout.


The Adam and Eve story describes a spiritual truth-- however, that spiritual truth is more difficult to begin to discover if the story is not first taken to be factual.


I understand that much of the bible consists of proverbs, metaphors and anologies.


That is not saying that describes historical factual events-- nor is it to say that it is not.


Although many "mystics" assert that we were made by an E.T or superior race. And that the garden of eden was on a place on Earth. Are you skeptical of this?


. The mystery is that it is, in part, both; but it is far more a spiritual truth. That is the point and the purpose. Not the point and not the purpose would be, for example, to teach against evolution. No. It is to teach of purpose and meaning in relation to God.


I understand, again i can appreciate some of the anologies and metaphors. But the bible doesn't have a monopoly on spiritual truth, or purpose and meaning. Again, you assert "in relation" to God, but again, it would be an assumption that God exists.

If God was proved wrong tommorow, we'd still have to work together to build a just civilisation; and we'd still search for purpose, meaning and spiritual truth, as many Atheists currently do.


Maybe because I was Baptized as infant-- maybe something unseen really happens to the unseen soul?


I'm not so sure someone pouring water on my head would have an effect on my "soul", an even then i'd have to prove the "soul" wasn't an abstract concept.


I really don't know-- I tend to think of it is being cradled in the arms of God for some reason which I still have not learned


If you believe that, it would mean something to you; i guess that's the point.


I'm not special-- I do not take credit for my profound faith-- I didn't do it.


Likewise with my lack of faith.


In fact, I have speculated to others that proselytizing seems dangerous-- that there is no promise of a Rose Garden, and if the faith is portrayed that way, as soon as there is pain, a person will reject the faith because it was offered with a false promise of bliss in this life


I guess i'd agree. The religion should speak for itself; it shouldn't need promoted, proselytization shouldn't be needed. I think the sooner they realise that, the sooner the critics will get off their back. The sooner people learn that people think differently, and that other religions could be true also, the sooner we can find a common humanism.


I'm not looking for bliss. I'm looking for God, I'm looking for meaning-- and this is not about me-- not this thread: Your mileage may vary.


An atheist may be the same; an atheist may WISH for a God, and indeed search the unknown for a God.


You will find my engagement in a discussion on string theory on this site even has me looking to tie quantum physics into metaphysical speculation!


So, in accordance with Schrödinger's cat; you'd grant the possibility that there could be a God, and no God at the same time? (Forgive my poor attempt at wit
)


A religious experience, besides being benevolent (or at least benign) in both form and subsequent effect on behavior and thought does not leave a person subjugated to it. That is off the top of my head from reading done quite some time ago


Define "religious" experience; an atheist may very well have an indentical experience to a believer; but the believer interpets this as "religious". This has often happened in the past; and believers have mistaken a natural phenomenon for a "religious" experience.
Similarly, UFO enthusiasts may mistake an asteroid for something else.


Cautious curiosity-- reasoning, and so you want to know a bit about me? Okay. I'm a Christian-- active, participating and nothing vague about it, having a profound and tried faith


So the abrahamic doctrine is the basis for your faith? Or do you have your own idea about God?

If you are consistent with Christian belief, surely you would agree that homosexuality is an abomination? Or Perhaps you agree with ALL commandments? What about the Miracles? Water into wine? The healing? Splitting the ocean? Noah's ark?

I'll give the fundamentalists 1 compliment; they are consistent with their beliefs; they are consistent with the doctrine.


Are you familiar with "Apologetics?"


Indeed. Very familiar.


Some of the most ancient Christian writings which are not found in the Bible concern defending the reasonableness of the Christian faith in periods of early persecutions.


Please consider these words:-


If you’re going to be a serious grown-up person, and appear to defend the Catholic church in public in front of an educated and literate audience, you simply have to start by making a great number of heartfelt apologies and requests for contrition and forgiveness. Now you might ask You’re fully entitled to ask, brothers and sisters, who am I to say that? Well, in the jubilee millennium year of 2000 the Vatican spokesman Bishop Piero Marini said, explaining a whole sermon of apology given by His Holiness the Pope, given the number of sins we’ve committed in the course of twenty centuries, reference to them must necessarily be rather summary. Well I think Bishop Marini had that just about right, I’ll have to be summary, too. His Holiness on that occasion—it was March the 12th, 2000, if you wish to look it up—begged forgiveness for, among some other things, the crusades, the Inquisition, the persecution of the Jewish people, in justice towards women, that’s half the human race right there, and the forced conversion of indigenous peoples, especially in South America, the African slave trade, the admission that Galileo was right, and for silence during Hitler’s Final Solution or Shoah.


www.amindatplay.eu...
www.intelligencesquared.com...


You might find the arguments of value.


I'm yet to here a convincing argument from an apologetic which made me think "actually, religion isn't that bad".



Let me end by saying-- your objections are reasonable, you are thinking this through in an impressive manner, and you are engaging that which is offered by others. You are doing far better than the vast majority of persons I have shared a pew with. This part is fun for me-- and thank you.


Thanks for your detailed comments and your kind sentiments; It's a joy to debate with you; it really is.. I'm very. I look forward to your response.

Peace to you too.
edit on 28-6-2011 by ExistentialNightmare because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 28 2011 @ 11:47 AM
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reply to post by ExistentialNightmare
 
Here's a quote from Wikipedia:

Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views.

I think you misunderstood what Frira meant.
The people who tried to explain where Christianity was coming from and what it believed, back in the day when it was new and people had a lot of misconceptions about it.
Edit to add:
I disagree with Frira about the lack of power they had because back then, if you had some money, you could hire a mercenary army and do as much damage that you want, untill someone else could put together a strong enough force to oppose you. They were able to do lightning strikes against their competition to destroy books and to kill the dominant preachers who taught something that did not support their own views. In this way the actual chain of succession from the original disciples of Jesus were eliminated, in favor of newly trained preachers brought up from the pagan religion schools and "converted" to carry on a legacy only familiar by stealing the names left vacant by their former owners, now lying in unmarked graves.


edit on 28-6-2011 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 28 2011 @ 11:55 AM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 


No no, i'm completely aware of apologetics; i've watched many a debate; and i'm very keane to hear the other side of the story from apologetics such as Alister Mcgrath or even literary apologetics such as C.S Lewis.

I'm not misunderstanding what Frira states; i understand that many people believe religion gives someone a fundamental set of values; or that it's merely an "investigation" into the spiritual, or a journey of truth, or self-improvement.

I understand what apologetics are; and still i don't think their explanations justify the extraordinary claims that the founding abrahamic doctrines make, or that Jesus makes or is tied to. I don't believe we can reveal the unknown, we are always at the edge of the known, where else can we be?
edit on 28-6-2011 by ExistentialNightmare because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 28 2011 @ 12:01 PM
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reply to post by ExistentialNightmare
 
I thought you might but I figured I would throw that in for other people who may not.
I added some more to my post above, before I saw your response to it, in case anyone is trying to keep track of all this.


edit on 28-6-2011 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 28 2011 @ 03:05 PM
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reply to post by ExistentialNightmare
 

I can see that I shifted focus in that post but forgot to take along the reader!

My comment about Scripture being wrongly claimed to be all you need ought to have included this:

The collection of writings we call the New Testament, did not exist in the earliest years of the Church-- not written and then once written, not collected into the canon of scripture as we know it today for some time (debatable time).

Those New Testament writings as well as other writings from the Church of that time describe gatherings, teachings, prayers, "breaking of bread," speaking in tongues, communal style living, miracles, prophesying, healings, utterances of wisdom, and so on.

A very large and loud minority responds to the evidence of that mystical sort of worship with some animosity, frequently denying its relevance if it detracts from the focus upon reading Holy Scripture-- unintentionally, perhaps, leaving the impression that faith is about reading and accepting the Bible as fact, at the expense of living its mystical teachings. Mind you, my experience produces my own bias, but I can support my bias with both Scripture and ancient texts from the Church and of the Church which describe life in the early Church-- particularly before the New Testament was formed in its present state.

I am intentionally avoiding some obvious specifics-- specific practice, specific texts, specific traditions and specific naming of denominations as I am certain the mention would immediately result in the thread digressing into mean-spirited bickering and infighting-- but not between you and me. I have no desire to steer you toward any part of the Church. Most have their strengths and most have their weaknesses.

How about this: Christian group 17 claims the mystical practices of Christian Group 434 are corruptions of what God intended, despite Group 434's long history with that practice and their expressed fears that without it they would feel cut-off from the presence of God. Lo and behold, Christian group 17, abandoning one ancient mystical practice, suddenly realizes they are gifted with another-- which they then make their own. This happens again and again. So you get one group handling snakes, another kneeling before an Altar with bread and wine, yet another speaking in tongues, others dancing in ecstasy, other living austere lives of prayer in the desert, and so on down to the most minor of variations-- and yet the spiritual and mystical breaks through, again and again.

What one claims as spiritual the other calls superstition. I see them both as spiritual manifestations-- at least of the person engaged with it, and sometimes-- even often, of the work of God. I'm tired. I have been at this spiritual living a long time, so I am aware how I tend to become cynical; but, it looks very much to me that most of the infighting is about such things as who gets your money in the collection plate so they can fund what they will call a "mission trip for the youth group" but is really simply a vacation to a beach in Mexico-- where the people there believed and built Churches before there was single settlement north of the Rio Grande.

Someone interested in real mission work? Try going to Somalia to feed, to inoculate, to drill wells and dig latrines in the face of bullet fire. I am humiliated to admit that I have not gone there-- they suffer so. Perhaps I will find the inner strength.

---

So what you are saying about the Bible-- the problems and divisions it has caused because each group wishes to claim it and its interpretation for itself. I am a believer, and like you, I see the misuse of the Word God as a horrible source of persecution and others sorrows of man. And in my mind, you have not even named the worst of them. And yet, my eyes wide open, I also see the truth and unity which it produces-- even among people who claim it only justifies their own practices and condemns others. That they do not see what is common does not mean it is not there-- just too close to the forest to see the trees.

----

Now after that first part, the next part of your post seems to take the Bible in extremes and assume I am simply denying that the Bible says what it says. Again, you speak of the Bible like that very loud minority speaks of it-- I am not of them.

Perhaps the biggest difference I can try to explain is this: Does one read read Holy Scripture to seek God or Truth, or meaning, or purpose, or self-justification, or political gain, or to demonize a rival, or explain what has been experienced, or to explain-away what has been experienced, or whatever? The Bible has been used for all of those. Any of them appropriate? Yes. Any of them inappropriate? Yes. Does the book do that or do people do that?

Now-- apply the same uses and mis-uses to, say, money. Same thing. Wars fought and justified on it, and homeless people fed and sheltered by it-- and everything between all extremes. So if my dream of what I would do if I had million dollars would be to buy land, and build a safe camp-site for the homeless on the edge of town-- that starts well, I think. In the process, I find the neighbors don't want homeless near them, and a legal battle ensues, vandalism takes place, and all sorts of nasty things happen-- because we do such things to each others-- all persons have their prejudices-- and the Bible and faith are not the source-- any more than money is the source.

It is not reasonable (take a deep breath, think on this) to cut oneself off from a spiritual existence which nearly all religions (even the one you taunted me with-- playfully I assume-- Satanism) admit to being a part of what it is to be human -- to cut oneself off from an important part of what you are because you do not like how you see others use it.
---

Your question about if atheists have religious experiences and simply call them something else-- Absolutely! The term "religious experience" was coined a while ago-- but is better defined broadly to be equivocal in description to include things from Angels to UFO's, potent dreams, visions, and all of the countless "paranormal" categories you can find discussed on this site. I see an angel, one person may assume what I really saw was an extra-terrestrial. I have vision of an historical event which I claim is a ancestor showing me something important, and another is certain I describe my own past life before my present reincarnation. I can do these types of comparisons until we are both nauseated by them.

And such things are very different from the presumption that an earthquake or AIDS virus, or poverty is a sign of God's displeasure and punishment. Instead, they are more like this:



A crazy woman comes into the coffee house I frequent before work. The manager apologizes to me, explaining a patron had them call the police only the day before. I order a second of coffee, give it to woman who going from table to table begging for change and then ask if she would walk with me along the sidewalk. She is at times ranting and sometimes yelling and then begins speaking in tongues followed by periods of normalcy and quiet conversation.

Suddenly, she turns to me, and speaks in a normal voice, and tells me something very specific about me which she knows. It is not a secret, but something I don't talk about-- I use the analogy of it being like I am a retired secret agent (I am not-- but something like that where your life and experiences have been very unusual because of your work). She had no way of knowing. Moreover, I THINK, based upon the expressions of the passerby's who had stopped and stared as she spoke to me, I think she was again speaking in tongues and if so, I understood her anyway. I ask, "What makes you think that?" She smiles, and says, "The Holy Spirit tells me, even now. And it is true, you do not need to say it." And it was true. Exactly true.

She shows me her hand a few minutes later as we walk along. She has an un-healed wound that looks all the world as if a large nail had passed through her hand. I wonder if it is the stigmata, but do not say it. Soon, she kisses me on the cheek and leaves.


---

Apologetic-- No not that. No relation to the words, "I'm sorry." The term and the study refers to defending the reasonableness of the faith-- using experience, philosophy, natural law and other common ground to discuss matters of faith. It has nothing to do with making excuses for or apologizing for the acts of persons using their faith in inappropriate ways.

Christian apologetics, in the post-modern era, are usually written to defend a denominational point of view-- and are therefore apologetic in name only. The really good stuff fit for all Christians of all persuasions tends to be that which was done in the first eight hundred years of the Church-- before the infighting became the focus.

I mentioned apologetics to you, because you have obviously encountered, as I have(as we all have), Christians who are wholly unable to defend their beliefs by way of reason. Such persons are fine as long as they are not tyrants, but once their mouths open-- tyranny may well be expected to flow. There is not an IQ test to be passed to be Christian, but perhaps their ought to be one before a Christian is allowed to teach? Saint Paul seems to agree: Not all of the members of the Body of Christ are fit for public view.

It sure seems to me that the loudest part of the Body, in our present era, seem to be in the region of the armpit-- the head and mouth barely able to be heard at all. It is an un-just world-- and the good parts have been demonized so no one will look for them. I think most Christians through-out history have recognized this.

As I said, true Christianity is not easy or even pleasant. It is complex and painful-- if you are doing it right. And who wants truth and beauty, meaning and purpose, if it hurts? Not many. I think it is true, but I do not think everyone is able to live truth. I only live part of it, and I hurt all over most of the time-- but I have seen beauty and wonders, and marvels... and maybe, just along the edge of my view, the shadows proving that God moves in my life.



posted on Jun, 28 2011 @ 06:22 PM
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reply to post by Frira
 


Firstly, apologies for the quick response, i just thought i'd reply before i head to bed, i've got work earlier tommorow; I will get back and respond to what i missed ASAP.


The collection of writings we call the New Testament, did not exist in the earliest years of the Church-- not written and then once written, not collected into the canon of scripture as we know it today for some time (debatable time)


when you say "the earliest years of the church" What are you referring to, the sumerian or egyptian lore on which the abrahamic faiths (Islam, Juduism and Christianity) plagiarised from?

A martyr born of a virgin, (immaculate conception), ressurected, reached "divine" feats.

listverse.com...


Those New Testament writings as well as other writings from the Church of that time describe gatherings, teachings, prayers, "breaking of bread," speaking in tongues, communal style living, miracles, prophesying, healings, utterances of wisdom, and so on.


And no doubt i would imagine such "wisdom" would be beneficial in a time where people were relatively uneducated, and perhaps needed a source of salvation in life; needed some dicipline. And of course with little scientific knowledge or the logic of the scientific method; people would jump to conclusions; they were very superstitious; and often anthropomorphised geological events or natural phenomenon.


did not exist in the earliest years of the Church


I'm still unsure of what you mean by this; do you not believe the spread of the Christian faith across the hemipheres was because Emperor Constantine accepted it as the state faith?

And they were still preaching extraordinary metaphysical "truths" such as hellfire were still their; the preists were relentless; and swift to punish. And obviously you know very well about the Crusades there is no denying the ages of darkness. The burning of "witches" and such like.


A very large and loud minority responds to the evidence of that mystical sort of worship with some animosity, frequently denying its relevance if it detracts from the focus upon reading Holy Scripture


It's not animosity, it's concern; if people believe ALL of the metaphysical claims; they will believe the sub-texts; the sinister dogma that cannot be mistaken for an alegory or a metaphor; sinister dogma that is direct; and abhorrent to that even the most rock-hard types.

Of course you can claim it's contextual, it's relative, that's what people "believed" at the time. Then what point do that prove? But the modest and decent ethical and moral teaching do not make up for the sinister, disgusting preaching. We have to acknowledge that something was not right.


am intentionally avoiding some obvious specifics-- specific practice, specific texts, specific traditions and specific naming of denominations as I am certain the mention would immediately result in the thread digressing into mean-spirited bickering and infighting


I don't believe it would result in bickering at all, i'm more than happy to discuss specifics, and with civility. As i'm sure many other anti-theists are. Just because we're against something doesn't mean we can't be civil in voicing our side of the story.


but not between you and me. I have no desire to steer you toward any part of the Church.


Indeed, i believe this goes without saying. Of course, preaching would seem "moral" if you believed the specific religion was true, but i don't, I'm sure you'll understand me not being apologetic for saying so. Please don't consider this as hostility.


How about this: Christian group 17 claims the mystical practices of Christian Group 434 are corruptions of what God intended, despite Group 434's long history with that practice and their expressed fears that without it they would feel cut-off from the presence of God. Lo and behold, Christian group 17, abandoning one ancient mystical practice, suddenly realizes they are gifted with another-- which they then make their own. This happens again and again. So you get one group handling snakes, another kneeling before an Altar with bread and wine, yet another speaking in tongues, others dancing in ecstasy, other living austere lives of prayer in the desert, and so on down to the most minor of variations-- and yet the spiritual and mystical breaks through, again and again.


I understand that there are prolifirating schisms/denominations of religions (Christianity has many) i understand that they practice ritual; update doctrine; some have profound differences regarding the afterlife.

But just as secular democracy, religion seems to mature with time, to develop, to undertake moral relativism. Not many Christians admit to being homophobes, i can understand why many don't admit, or why many adapt their faith in accordance with social adherences. But that isn't an argument in favour of faith; it's against faith. It's stating that the doctrines which founded the faith require update; require evolution. Then what good is the "revealed wisdom" that the faith alledgedly provides to the believer? Of what use is it?

Obviously religion (or faith) doesn't have monopoly on good, on charity, on kindness, on moral and ethical teaching; so other than believing the metaphysical claims, providing comfort, or being scared of the unknown; what purpose does it hold? What meaning does it have to an atheist like me?


What one claims as spiritual the other calls superstition


Not at all, i would never relate the two. There is nothing to stop an atheist being spiritual or curious of the trancendant.


Someone interested in real mission work? Try going to Somalia to feed, to inoculate, to drill wells and dig latrines in the face of bullet fire. I am humiliated to admit that I have not gone there-- they suffer so. Perhaps I will find the inner strength.


Indeed; many volunteers work for secular charities; there is such a concept as secular missionary; a person who does good for the sake of good; a person who is not motivated by religion, or in the hope of an eternal reward.

Again, religion doesn't have a monopoly on charity or altruism.


I also see the truth and unity which it produces


But i don't feel that is an argument for it's "goodness", many fascist regimes provided healthcare or aids and supplies to those in need, is than an argument for their ideology overall?


Again, you speak of the Bible like that very loud minority speaks of it-- I am not of them.


What are you implying by a "loud" minority.?


Does one read read Holy Scripture to seek God or Truth, or meaning, or purpose, or self-justification, or political gain, or to demonize a rival, or explain what has been experienced, or to explain-away what has been experienced, or whatever?



Does one read read Holy Scripture to seek God or Truth, or meaning, or purpose, or self-justification, or political gain, or to demonize a rival, or explain what has been experienced, or to explain-away what has been experienced, or whatever?


It depends how intensley you believe in the scripture; the Quran demands a holy war on unbelievers; the bible demonises the rival, for the purpose of it's Holy gain. If you're a "moderate" Muslim you simply brush off those passages, but many cannot be passed of as simply metaphorical or allegorical.


Now-- apply the same uses and mis-uses to, say, money. Same thing.


But we're not arguing money here; and of course there are concerns with the fractional reserve system, it's inherently corrupt, it promotes greed. I'm not suggesting communism, i don't think we need to be ordained to good.

Take lying. If the a majority of pople within a civilisation use language to decieve rather than to communicate then it renders communiation utterly pointless; the fact we developed language shows that we are a trusting species.


Even the one you taunted me with-- playfully I assume-- Satanism


Please, it wasn't a taunt, People enjoy Satanism and some take it seriously, it's not all "evil" as some may suggest; the dark and sinister is an expression from the human experience, it's an art. Marylyn Manson dabbled in the symbolism of Satanism and is probably one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.


Your question about if atheists have religious experiences and simply call them something else-- Absolutely! The term "religious experience" was coined a while ago-- but is better defined broadly to be equivocal in description to include things from Angels to UFO's, potent dreams, visions, and all of the countless "paranormal" categories you can find discussed on this site. I see an angel, one person may assume what I really saw was an extra-terrestrial. I have vision of an historical event which I claim is a ancestor showing me something important, and another is certain I describe my own past life before my present reincarnation. I can do these types of comparisons until we are both nauseated by them.


I very much agree with you but i feel believers are subject to confirmation bias when they have an experience; whereas a neutral party would be far more open-minded. Perhaps they really are religious experiences but until we can prove such, i'd rather call them "experiences" before i jump to conclusions is my point.


Apologetic-- No not that. No relation to the words, "I'm sorry." The term and the study refers to defending the reasonableness of the faith-- using experience, philosophy, natural law and other common ground to discuss matters of faith. It has nothing to do with making excuses for or apologizing for the acts of persons using their faith in inappropriate ways.


I didn't think it meant in that sense; again i enjoy watching and listening to debates and i've heard some very cogent points from apologetics but none that would make me consider religion good as a whole.

My quote from another site (Intelligence Squared) was a response to your mention of the church's "early days" which you assert are relatively timid....

I disagree - I believe they were very much a dark time for freedom, and they gained their masses and followings by the power that it flaunted, using scaremongering, preaching and punishment. Preists actually preached purgotory for unbaptised babies; what mother (looking out for the best) would not submit to such a belief system with that kind of metaphysical threat? And that's a relatively mild example as you've aleady highlighted.

Those are most of my contentions to the points you made. Again, i'm not demonising charity, or altruism, or spirituality, or a "way of life" but i certainly don't think we need to put faith in doctrine to achieve these goals; i certainly don't believe "blind faith" is a great thing.

i certainly wouldn't accept the apologetic Blaise Pascal's wager, i certainly wouldn't take that bet. I'd sooner go with the Atheist's wager; i believe it's more honest and more couregous; but i think to make such wagers or bet's is petty; we should be open-minded of the unknown.

I'll try get back ASAP.

Peace.
edit on 28-6-2011 by ExistentialNightmare because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 28 2011 @ 09:12 PM
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Originally posted by ExistentialNightmare



In short the "Early Church" is usually (academically speaking) considered the year 33 through the year 400.

The New Testament Scriptures were not collected into the accepted 27 works until about half-way through that period.

Emperor Constantine did not legalize Christianity until near the end of that period-- prior to which it was under persecution by the State.

Constantine did not make Christianity the State Religion-- nor did he persecute non-believers-- he only made it legal to be a Christian for the first time.

Like I said, a lot of demonizing takes place within the Church, and so getting into denominational specifics is going to digress into-- we say/they say.

An early post I made included a gentle reference and the response, if you recall, was swift and brutal-- and it makes me not want to play if I cannot share without being brutalized by the denominational attacks which I know I will incur no matter how careful I am not to provoke.

I'm not the only person who sees the faith as gentle, and who knows the history of the Church before it ever knew temporal power. I'm not the only person who sees how quickly the abuses began after the Church first held temporal power. In fact, I am in the enormous majority-- but with a tiny voice-- because (or so I think) those who desire temporal power for the Church have always been, and are today, merciless in the attacks on the gentle believers-- sparing no wrath for us just as they spare no wrath for the non-believers. So, as a result, we have very little voice-- so little that those outside of the Church rarely know what the vast majority of the Church believes and does.

Some Catholics see the Protestants as the example of tyranny toward those who disagree, and Some Protestants see the Catholics as the example of tyrant to those who disagree. The quiet and voiceless Catholics with the quiet and voiceless Protestants know better, and are hounded by the tyrants whose agenda centers on power. I'm not guessing here-- I have lived it.

To avoid citing provoking examples, I'll use one which even few Christians view accurately:

Salem Witch Trials

That is about Protestant Christians burning witches at the stake, right? Wrong. None of the persons burned was a witch and none professed to be. They were all Christians accused of being witches by another Christian. Not one bit of what happened matches the teachings of the Church, and not one bit of what happened was about religious intolerance, and not one bit was about anything but the tyranny of single girl seeking to use the Church and its temporal power to destroy her rivals. It was not because they were Protestants, or because they were Christians, it was because one person was truly wicked and the others were foolishly afraid.

The Spanish Inquisition.

Created to torture and kill non-believers, right? Wrong. The Catholic Church created the Inquisition to address the problem of clergy who were politically appointed as priests, but who had no business teaching the faith because they did not know the faith. The idea was to question any clergy on the matters of faith and either defrock or educate if needed. We do that with school teachers, and school teachers hire lawyers because they do not like being tested and having to fear for their jobs. It got a lot uglier than hiring lawyers, and is remembered because of tyranny-- but the tyranny was from both "sides."

Likewise, my mention of the Early Church has produced two responses about the viciousness of priest of that era-- telescoping a thousand years of history out of place-- out of existence. That common misconception-- all of the these-- are the results of infighting-- the inaccuracies introduced into the stories I just mentioned did not come from atheists-- but from inside the Church-- one denomination exaggerating the abuses of another while minimizing its own abuses.

It is exactly the same in politics: Democrats demonize Republicans and Republicans demonize Democrats. We have the "story" that Republicans are "War mongers" and Democrats are "socialists," but (and I think I am right on this) most wars were started by Democrat administrations and the largest social budgets were passed by Republican Congresses. We have our biases, and rarely look at the history to test them. Down here in the South, I wish I had a nickle for every time someone told me they vote Democrat because Lincoln freed the slaves-- intending to mean they love that Lincoln freed the slaves, not knowing Lincoln was Republican. Scared me to death the first time I heard it-- I thought they were all pro-slavery! Nope-- they had just let perception rule over historic fact-- but their hearts were in the right place. I respect that their hearts are right-- but I don't want them teaching history!

I confess a bit amusement that when I, a Christian, claim Holy Scripture not to be the only thing necessary for the faith, you, the atheist, seemed to begin to want to defend the Bible! Where is that coming from? First defend its primacy and then claim it is responsible for all evil done by the Church?" No, I doubt that is your intent. But what, then?

My guess is that you have been exposed very much more to fundamentalism-- Christian and Islamic-- then any other form of religion. In fact, your wrote something to the effect that it is something of a "lessor" religious type who dismisses Scripture.

Well here is the tough part: If anyone reads the Bible and finds it telling them to hate non-believers and destroy non-believers, they are mis-reading the Bible. Mosaic/Levitial Law is brutal,and is from a brutal time. The lesson is clear, yet missed by most: Yahweh leads the Hebrews into battle, but when they try and take that to mean they are to be a waring people, not only does God allow them to be slaughtered, but removes the ark of the Covenant from them even to his day. "I will be their God and they will my people" was a mixed blessing-- Chosen, but at what personal cost? A wonderful Spiritual gain, but never about personal gain.

It is some fundamentalists (not all-- but the loud minority) who read the Letter to the Romans speaking of homosexuality as a "baseless passion" (and worse), and make that a theme for persecuting homosexuals. It is even worse in the Old Testament just as it was for Sodom and Gomorrah. But was not the point of the story that Abraham was to be offended to the point he dared ask God for mercy on behalf of others? Yes, it was! But some fundamentalists it is taken to be about law and temporal power and creating the Kingdom of God on Earth-- and while that is not what any says they intend down here in the Bible Belt-- it is what their actions say.

And why do you know that voice? Just like the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials and many other examples: It is sensational, it is headline grabbing, it is attention grabbing, but it is not the faith and practice of the vast majority of the Church-- nor has it ever been.

It goes even complicated-- we have leaders in the Church, responding to that tyranny with their own tyranny-- once again further silencing and marginalizing the true quiet and gentle faith. Social activists outraged by the tyranny used against their causes-- homosexuals and women's rights using the same tactics used against-- and in the name of the Church they do this. I can say men and women are equal, but I cannot say men and women are the same. I love the difference as much as I love the equality, but the new tyrants fight the old tyrants do not leave room for me. I'm either anti-Bible or homophobic-- and that is a false choice, and the vast majority of Christians know it is a false choice.

Example: A headline in the paper here last week, something like, "Church says homosexuals can be Bishops if Celibate!" Well, duh! Church as never given a hoot in Hell about someone's desires-- only their actions and teachings. Trust me-- lots of celibate clergy with homosexual desires and with heterosexual desires. Married clergy have affairs and homosexual clergy do likewise. Celibate clergy mess up, too. Of course they do. But when you start teaching that your desires trump the Churches teachings, it is time to step out of the pulpit-- the teachings are not about making sure everyone lives out their desires.

So it is with the Christians. It was not a rose garden Christ Jesus said we are to pick up and carry to follow Him. It was a cross. How does that sit with Christians who seek temporal power and wish to use to Lord it over the non-believers? No different that Yahweh allowing his Chosen People to be slaughtered in battle for their arrogance.

Once again, I say, and once again I end with the concept which points at the truth which I hold and credit to my faith, "Who wants to find truth when the cost is of happiness, and ease, and security?" Not many. And we end with an expression of peace. Most people think peace and ease mean the same thing. They do not wish to experience a sense of acceptance in the midst of turmoil-- which is peace; they want an end of turmoil-- which is ease. So, when my Lord says, "Peace I leave with you, my own peace I give to you-- not as the world gives..." it doesn't mean what most think it means. It means more, but "more" costs us.

Not as a curse, but as a blessing... Peace be with you.

P.S. I really need a break. The topic is too big for me to carry as it needs to be carried by someone, and I know I am now reaching the point of shorting what is important. I am just not up to it. I want to be-- I want to answer if it helps-- but I am not that strong, not that good, not that able. I have enjoyed this, including secretly "preaching to myself"-- telling myself what needs to be told now and then; but "Oh no! I've said too much!" keeps being sung in my head.

Because I do believe in the mystical, it is not up to me-- not even my responsibility. You keep asking for ways to find truth as you do, I think you will find truth enough, if you haven't already-- and you very well may have before you got to starting this discussion-- truth enough.












edit on 28-6-2011 by Frira because: P. S.



posted on Jun, 28 2011 @ 10:17 PM
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reply to post by Frira
 

Suddenly, she turns to me, and speaks in a normal voice, and tells me something very specific about me which she knows.
I have had things similar happen to me. A long time ago. I entered into a strange world that is there, but you pass it by, knowing if you stopped, you would be in immediate and extreme danger. But I believed I was on a mission from God and went anyway. I had this happen several times that people who did not know me, or just met me through a friend or were people who had seen me around, and one time the pastor of my church, come up to me and say something like, "This is really strange and I don't know why, but God told me to tell you this. . ." I would listen and say. "Thank you and would you like to pray for me?" These people had no idea what I was up to, but they would look really concerned because they must have been thinking, "This guy must really be in trouble if this is the message, and what is going on?"
Looking back at it now, I could never do something like that again but at the time, I really wanted to do something serious and right away it fell on top of me, so to speak.
Well that is what came to mind when I read that, so I thought I would say that it is not so far-fetched as it may seem, though the story you quoted seems rather pointless unless it is something like, "don't judge people so harshly on appearances".
I feel like I know God because of all the interactions I have had with him through his angels and I have met quite a few and in extraordinary ways. Been guided by them, helped by them, given specific instructions by them, and given warnings, and actual dates when things would happen, and places to be and when. So it may seem odd to people and it seems odd to me too, but it happened and I don't know why except for probably that I would not be alive to talk about it otherwise, if intervention had not stepped in to force different things to happen, and not always one thing, but sometimes a whole succession of things and each one had to happen or none of them would have ultimately been of use.
So I know for a fact that there is a reality to what I call God and you may have a different name, but a something and a someone is always there and will do things for certain reasons, I am not sure why. I don't feel especially like questioning it but I do feel like I need to talk about it. I feel bad for people who do not know God like I do but I would also not want to wish my life that created the necessity for knowing God in a touching, feeling way, on anyone else.
edit on 28-6-2011 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 15 2011 @ 11:47 PM
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reply to post by madnessinmysoul
 


if there's no after life, then there's not much to look forward to, eh?



posted on Oct, 16 2011 @ 10:04 AM
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Originally posted by rschmfem
if there's no after life, then there's not much to look forward to, eh?

..and it makes THIS life much more precious.



posted on Oct, 16 2011 @ 01:29 PM
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reply to post by Hydroman
 


One should take every life as precious, no? Regardless of whether there's a god or not... Regardless of whether one believes that one will get "there's" in a supposed afterlife or not... A person is a person after all. But that is starting to sound like another thread topic...

Christianity, technically is a myth written by inspired men. Men are imperfect, which is why the stories don't mesh well linearly with other religions or the evolutionary time line studied by scientists of history and this day and age. (EvoCreation [my theory thread] ... I'm not the only thinker of this though)

At least, that's what I think at this point in time.



posted on Oct, 21 2011 @ 12:13 PM
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I agree, every life is precious whether there is an afterlife or not. But imo, believing that this is the only life you have, the only chance you have at living, it makes it even more precious.



posted on Oct, 21 2011 @ 06:51 PM
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Originally posted by Hydroman

Originally posted by bdb818888
All I can say is this , everybody is clueless of who God is ,and his/her intentions , but I can tell you this, you will know when you die

Too bad we can't know while we live, eh?


With all seriousness, it is Scientology.
Perhaps it was all a whacky fabrication, but the .0000000000000000000000000...1 odds of it being true doesn't account for the fact that it is true.




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