AerospaceFan
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How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:17 am

Regardless of your belief in God, do you think that God has had, or could have had, or could have, an effect on your life?

I'm not a typical conservative-leaning individual; there are things, as I've always said, that I've found to be ridiculous with right-wing ideologies, especially insofar as religious fanatics seem to deny the reality of evolution. To those deniers, I say: Pishposh! Your limitation of God's powers speaks ill of your beliefs, and I say this with all due respect.

I believe in evolution and I believe in God.

For all my doubts about the existence of God, I remain, as I've said, a believer in spite of myself. And part of why is what belief in God has done for people of good will, or who at least try.

But this is not a thread merely about whether God exists. There's already a thread for that. Nor is this an invitation to theodicy, any more than it is for "New Ageism" or even atheism. It is, rather, a thread on what God, or God-like qualities, have done to affect our lives, in any way, in our own experience.

The God who changes lives, who helps everyone, is not the vindictive God of the Old Testament, and thus I cannot agree with the fundamentalists live and bleed fire and brimstone. They have no special insight into God.

God acts out of the changes He makes in the lives of people -- every day, and in small and significant ways. Is it God who does this? Or is it virtue?

As I think about it, God -- if He exists -- has had a gradual transformative role in my life. It's made me question the aims of science when unchecked by ethics; and on a personal life, I think that it's made me believe that there is a force out there that protects me, when I protect myself. I don't want to get too personal, but there have been several occasions when I've been convinced that, if not for God, I would not be here to write this message to any of you, today.

In other words, I believe in miracles -- not of the great, big kind, mind you, but of the littler kinds... the kinds that apply to people, and that people can help come to existence, merely by being the best of who they are.

I'm starting to sound a bit like a religious nut, I realize; but please remember what I've said before: That God, if He exists, has done a poor job of creating our universe, unless it's true that our concenption of Him has nothing to do with the ultimate reality of What Is.

In any event, my belief in God has indeed had an effect on my life; because there's never been a time when I haven't belief in the Creator, I suppose that I have fewer dramatic stories to tell.

I am interested, therefore, in other people's ideas and experiences regarding how they process the possibility that God has had an effect on their lives, or the lives of those close to them.

I am a true believer in the idea that God exists in every good and selfless act, which is one of the motivations I say causes men and women to do what is right, rather than what is good.

I'm interested in your comments, with all humility.

God bless!

[Edited 2006-08-27 02:27:49]
What's fair is fair.
 
aloges
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RE: How Has God Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:27 am

nuffin'

I usually try to do what I can for others anyway, with the exception being people who have just put a lot of effort into getting on my nerves. No need for threats of hellfire or promises of paradise, I'm busy enough getting by in the here-and-now to be worrying where I might end up in an uncertain afterlife.

Anyhow, doing good so's you'll not go to hell is one big load of egocentric bullshit. Be nice for the sake of helping someone else and let that be the end of it; if you're lucky it'll pay back in the future.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:29 am

Quoting Aloges (Reply 1):
Be nice for the sake of helping someone else and let that be the end of it; if you're lucky it'll pay back in the future

But don't you think, Aloges, that there is a "real deal" behind the entire thing? There are unknowns to what we do. Even if you think that doing what is good because of fear of God is less meritorious than pure altruism, of what use is denigrating it when the results may be so positive?

When a helping hand is given that does nothing but good, does the recipient have grounds to question the motives, so long as he and others are genuinely helped? By this question, I'm not suggesting one thing or another; I'm merely asking.

For it seems to me that all of us, left and right alike, fail to see the "bigger picture", and concentrate on merely rational utility rather than selfless devotion -- of any kind.

Are any of us really in a position to discount the virtuous acts of believers, merely because we may believe them "adulterated" by fear of the unknown?

Suppose that there is knowledge that there is no God; would this make selflessness of a practical kind more, or less, likely?

[Edited 2006-08-27 02:32:58]
What's fair is fair.
 
bezoar
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:32 am



Sorry, I couldn't resist. Now I'll go to work on a real post.
"There are none so blind as those who will not see."
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:34 am

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 3):
Sorry, I couldn't resist. Now I'll go to work on a real post.

LOL! That photo of a helmeted baby is very cute, indeed!  Smile

As I say, God may exist, in spite of ourselves, and if so, maybe humor does, as well!

 Big grin
What's fair is fair.
 
aloges
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:39 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 2):
But don't you think, Aloges, that there is a "real deal" behind the entire thing?

Could be, could not be. If you want to call it "faith", I have some of that but it certainly doesn't make me a deeply religious person. Actually, some parts of religion need a lot of faith to be borne, but that's a different issue.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 2):
There are unknowns to what we do.

Oh dear, yes there are.  Silly

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 2):
When a helping hand is given that does nothing but good, does the recipient have grounds to question the motives, so long as he and others are genuinely helped?

Grounds? That depends on so many variables it's impossible to give an answer. If the help is a glass of water on a hot day, version A being the glass handed to a homeless person is all fine and dandy but version B being the glass given to a seamstress in a Far-Eastern sweat-shop by her exploitive employer isn't nearly as nice - yet both are still genuinely helped.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
Klaus
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RE: How Has God Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:44 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
I'm not a typical conservative-leaning individual; there are things, as I've always said, that I've found to be ridiculous with right-wing ideologies, especially insofar as religious fanatics seem to deny the reality of evolution. To those deniers, I say: Pishposh! Your limitation of God's powers speaks ill of your beliefs, and I say this with all due respect.

I may look at some aspects of this question from a somewhat different perspective (see other threads to similar topics), but in the essence I think I can agree with most of what you wrote.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
The God who changes lives, who helps everyone, is not the vindictive God of the Old Testament, and thus I cannot agree with the fundamentalists live and bleed fire and brimstone. They have no special insight into God.

Oh yes, they do - but they imagine a different god!

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
As I think about it, God -- if He exists -- has had a gradual transformative role in my life. It's made me question the aims of science when unchecked by ethics;

It does not take religion to get there - any human being should realize that; And more importantly, every scientist should!

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
and on a personal life, I think that it's made me believe that there is a force out there that protects me, when I protect myself. I don't want to get too personal, but there have been several occasions when I've been convinced that, if not for God, I would not be here to write this message to any of you, today.

There are certainly mechanisms at work in our lives which are a bit more complex than what we normally think of, but this kind of claim always provokes a question for me:

What about all the people who ended up not "being protected"? The ones massacred, murdered, tortured, dying in accidents or starving to death?

If one assumes the "good" things happening with the "hand of god" in play, the same would have to be assumed in the other cases just as well - cruel coincidences included.

My own perspective: Life is not fair - but people can try to make it a bit more fair. And some coincidences appear to be - as long as we happen to come across the positive side of coincidence...!

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
I am a true believer in the idea that God exists in every good and selfless act, which is one of the motivations I say causes men and women to do what is right, rather than what is good.

I'd rather say that those positive acts have been projected by humans onto an easily imaginable humanoid form; Buddhism is in many ways very similar, but more abstract. And even in that case people have often found ways to imagine personalized beings in connection with this philosophy... It seems to be a constant in human culture that we tend to paint faces onto every complex or abstract concept...

But even though my idea of what god(s) can be may differ from yours, I think they ultimately converge in what they should mean in real life.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:50 am

Quoting Aloges (Reply 5):
Grounds? That depends on so many variables it's impossible to give an answer. If the help is a glass of water on a hot day, version A being the glass handed to a homeless person is all fine and dandy but version B being the glass given to a seamstress in a Far-Eastern sweat-shop by her exploitive employer isn't nearly as nice - yet both are still genuinely helped.

That's a good point -- the latter would suggest ulterior motives that inure to the detriment of the person allegedly helped.

I think, though, that I was referring by "genuine helped" a larger sense of helping, as in the first instance you mentioned. Would the glass to the homeless person be less praiseworthy from a right-winger who believed in Divine retribution, than from someone who, in the same act, didn't think of God at all?

Nor, really, is there are rational-utility calculation that applies, here, and that's part of my point. In neither case -- believer or not -- did the virtuous act contribute in and of itself to anything but an infinitesimal blip in the calculus of rational good. It's not necessary that altruism, or quasi-altruism, do so, and yet the homeless person mentioned in your example was in fact helped.

I think the fear is that both reductionism -- the kind that analyzes every act for egoism -- and utilitarianism miss the point: That God, or virtue, bundles with it a more intangible reward. Does, after all, an otherwise good person not experience temptatation to rationalize away a callous act even if there is a God that watches and punishes?

The alternative is that what Kant said of the will -- that the most valuable thing in ethics is good will -- lacks any context that encourages and ennobles it at all.

[Edited 2006-08-27 02:53:42]
What's fair is fair.
 
AirWillie6475
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:54 am

I just took a class last semester on religion. I have never heard so much bullshit in my life, I felt like getting up in the middle of class and punching the professor. I knew for sure others wanted to the same in that class. No offense, but more people have died in the name of god than any other form in the world. I find that as technology and science improves, religion will be reduced. I wish I can say that religion is good because it teaches people to have kindness but the negatives far outweigh the benefits of religion. I find that you really have to be either stupid or helpless to seek someone to tell you to be kind to your neighbors, you should be doing that already.

[Edited 2006-08-27 03:01:00]
 
Klaus
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:55 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 2):
But don't you think, Aloges, that there is a "real deal" behind the entire thing?

I'd think it is much more challenging, but also much more fascinating if that is the real deal!  bigthumbsup 

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 2):
Are any of us really in a position to discount the virtuous acts of believers, merely because we may believe them "adulterated" by fear of the unknown?

Discount? No.

Being very, very careful with assuming that it's more than just skin-deep? Absolutely!

The self-righteous and letter-of-the-rules-obsessed behaviour of many self-professed religious people (christian or otherwise) speaks volumes here, I'd say.

Acting selflessly and kind is by no means a monopoly of religious people, even though many religions attempt to persuade you of that belief.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:57 am

Quoting Klaus (Reply 9):
Discount? No.

Being very, very careful with assuming that it's more than just skin-deep? Absolutely!

That's quite true, Klaus, and I think that your previous message is also food for thought.

I think that the transformative nature of God, or virtue, -- and, in either case, not merely belief -- is nevertheless important to consider. If God is merely virtue personified, does this speak less of virtue?
What's fair is fair.
 
Klaus
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:01 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 7):
Would the glass to the homeless person be less praiseworthy from a right-winger who believed in Divine retribution, than from someone who, in the same act, didn't think of God at all?

Yes, absolutely!

The former acts in order to rescue himself from horrible torture in hell; The latter actually wants to make a difference for you.

Consequently, the former will leave you dying or suffering if his formalized rule book should allow or even demand it, while the latter will probably help you when you should need his help.
 
Klaus
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:17 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 10):
I think that the transformative nature of God, or virtue, -- and, in either case, not merely belief -- is nevertheless important to consider. If God is merely virtue personified, does this speak less of virtue?

Not really; But organized religion is a different matter.

When you're looking at the mystical side branches of all the major religions, they all have in common the belief that the "normal" authoritarian rule-based mainstream religions are too fixated on rules and authority and that the true nature of spirituality transcends the accidental outer form of those religions. They generally come to very similar conclusions, and they generally think of "god" more as a concept than a physical entity as the fanatics do.

My impression is that this is the part which will survive, but the aggressively authoritarian doctrines and organizations will just continue to wither and die. And hardly anybody will mourn them any more than we do the weird religions of antiquity.
 
bezoar
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:26 am

One thing I discovered with my faith is that if one acts out of guilt or fear, one can never do enough to be rid of that guilt or fear. If one acts out of sheer obedience, it becomes very tiresome. However, if one acts out of gratitude and love, one can enjoy every moment of it.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." 1 Cor 13:1-3
"There are none so blind as those who will not see."
 
jamincan
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:37 am

Has God changed me life? It's hard to say since God is so messily intertwined with religion, which has without a doubt changed me life. I guess I recognize that God could possibly exist; however, I realized that there wasn't really any basis for me to believe in him when I realized that the only reason to believe in him is the traditions of a religion that, quite frankly, I feel has done me, and many other people, far more harm than good, The idea of believing in an invisible being is ludicrous on its own without the support of religious texts and a community of believers. It's simply too arbitrary.

Anyway, to answer your question, I suppose that my ethos have been heavily shaped by the religion I was raised in. More directly though, when I was a lot younger, I was quite a bit more spiritual. I think that has really influenced me now to be far more introspective, and to appreciate things like nature, space and solitude far more than I otherwise may have.
 
bristolflyer
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:52 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
Regardless of your belief in God, do you think that God has had, or could have had, or could have, an effect on your life?

I'm pretty sure that those that don't believe in god will also think that he hasn't had an effect on their lives. It would be quite hypocritical to say that on one hand you don't believe but on the other hand he is responsible for doing things to change someone's life.

As for my own opinion, I don't think that god has done anything to effect my life. I don't believe in god, just for the record.

BF
Fortune favours the brave
 
jamincan
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 11:07 am

Quoting BristolFlyer (Reply 15):
I'm pretty sure that those that don't believe in god will also think that he hasn't had an effect on their lives. It would be quite hypocritical to say that on one hand you don't believe but on the other hand he is responsible for doing things to change someone's life.

Not necessarily. Many of us were raised in religious homes and only really went our own way after we left home. It'd be awfully blind of me to claim that my belief in God (albeit it temporary, and at a young age), didn't affect me somehow. While not necessarily God affecting me, I think the belief in God affecting me is sufficiently similar to fit the line of AerospaceFan's questioning.
 
Korg747
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 12:29 pm

Quoting AirWillie6475 (Reply 8):
I just took a class last semester on religion. I have never heard so much bullshit in my life, I felt like getting up in the middle of class and punching the professor. I knew for sure others wanted to the same in that class. No offense, but more people have died in the name of god than any other form in the world. I find that as technology and science improves, religion will be reduced. I wish I can say that religion is good because it teaches people to have kindness but the negatives far outweigh the benefits of religion. I find that you really have to be either stupid or helpless to seek someone to tell you to be kind to your neighbors, you should be doing that already.

I'm sick and tired of hearing people saying "More people have died in the name of god than any other form" really, you gotta be either stupid of helpless to actually blame God for a bunch of morons who think they should die in the name of God. God never interferes with free will or free thinking or opinion, he would be one controlling God if he did. Wake up and look at who is doing what, I see your young like me, you should already see and realize how crazy people are and they will get even crazier the more you experience them, but if you still want to blame God anyway then you need good glasses. Oh and why God doesn't come down and settle all this conflict of thinking? It's all in the bible. God's history with man when he was showing him self and making appearances. didn't go that great did it now? he gave us free will, and he will not interfere with it.

You have to also understand that God is the love side of people. I truly believe that the current ethics and morals have originated from God and religion and it doesn't matter if you believe in him or not. just think about it for a min. Tell me where people were morally or ethically before God and the bible came to people's lives? just answer that question for me. Don't even start the argument that if religion were to be taken out NOW out of people's lives, people would be just fine, people now are different from the past because alot of the cultures are based on good morals and ethics that originated from religion and so many morals and ethics have become standard between many families and not just the word of God.
Please excuse my English!
 
TedTAce
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 1:14 pm

God does NOT have the time for me. Trust me when I tell you I don't begrudge them for this. If there really is a god what kind of moron am I to think for a second that my wishes for a winning lotto ticket, good health in the face of blatantly unhealthy behaviors, and a good looking rich bisexual redhead (who's not into anal) are worth even listening too?

It's farcical to believe that one being can be biblically omnipotent for 6 BILLION people all the time. If everyone ONLY made one request a day, that would be over 90,000 requests a second. Now if god is a good programmer, cool, they have it under control, but presuming each request requires at least 5 seconds to think about it that's 450,000 seconds. A Day is 86400 seconds that would be 5.2 days to properly process a days work. Don't give me this  redflag  about god's time is diferent then ours. With very FEW exceptions time is time is time. Even then I have my own theories which Einstien would laugh at.

God might exist, and he might have some influence in some EXTRAORDINARY circumstances. But in all likelyhood he has MUCH bigger fish to fry then our dumb selves.
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AerospaceFan
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 8:11 pm

Quoting Klaus (Reply 11):
Yes, absolutely!

The former acts in order to rescue himself from horrible torture in hell; The latter actually wants to make a difference for you.

I see what you mean, but from an objective standpoint, I cannot agree. Both acts result in great assistance to the homeless individual, after all.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 11):
Consequently, the former will leave you dying or suffering if his formalized rule book should allow or even demand it, while the latter will probably help you when you should need his help.

To me, this analysis is too formal -- it relies on process overmuch. Process is good, but if it drains the substance of content, it tends to substitute for, and therefore usurp, it.

I would say that the fact is that the rulebook in question does not require anyone to leave the homeless person without recourse, or, at any rate, the person has willingly interpreted it to provide for the result that actually obtained. Therefore, the act of giving itself resulted from what actually occurred. The fact that, hypothetically, the benefactor could have done something else if, contrary to fact, either the rulebook required, or he himself decided, otherwise, is not an argument that what he did was less meritorious. At best, it is an argument that it was more prone to not having been done.

Let's keep in mind that it's the act that occurred, not the act that did not occur, that is in question here.

[Edited 2006-08-27 13:31:43]
What's fair is fair.
 
bezoar
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:09 pm

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 18):
God does NOT have the time for me.

Unless 'time' is merely something created by man in order to help understand his circumstances. As an eternal being, He has 'all the time in the world.'

Also, many people want to see God as a cosmic vending machine. While appeals to God can be made, the transformation that ultimately occurs through prayer is not within God, but within us. Sometimes His answer is 'no' or 'not now.' Sometimes we have to be knocked to our knees before we will look to Him.
"There are none so blind as those who will not see."
 
TedTAce
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:04 pm

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 20):

Unless 'time' is merely something created by man in order to help understand his circumstances.

In a MANNER of speaking I agree with you... BUT only in the sense that time is arbitrary. For exmple Standard time versus daylight time. Local versus zulu, and and rose is a rose even if you call it something else. BUT the reality is no matter how non linear you think, things happen in an order over something that can measured in some relational form or another.

The perception of that is imeasurable IE NY Minute versus a long lazy summer day in the country. For some 9/11 was yesterday, for others it's a lifetime. The thing is though; the things we use as markers are constants. It has almost been 5 years, it has been almost 1825 days, it has almost been 43800 hours, 2628000 minutes, 157680000 seconds. Those markers exist for everyone and are indisputable.

Now if you also think about my backlog question... isn't it 'bad enough' that god is ethemeral, but given time over the course of all human history don't you think it a bit ludicrious that he'd be making decisions 5,000 years from now about something that happened today?
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Klaus
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:18 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 19):
I see what you mean, but from an objective standpoint, I cannot agree. Both acts result in great assistance to the homeless individual, after all.

If someone has to basically be forced at gunpoint to do something good, it is most definitely less praiseworthy as asked above.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 19):
To me, this analysis is too formal -- it relies on process overmuch.

No. It only deals with the plausible expectation of how someone would react in a critical situation. If someone must be expected to happily burn others at the stake should his religion tell him so it most certainly paints a rather bleak picture of that person's ethics. And yet that has often been the case and still is, from all appearances.
 
bezoar
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:33 am

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 21):
n't you think it a bit ludicrious that he'd be making decisions 5,000 years from now about something that happened today?

Hey, Ted. I hope this finds you doing well.

Replying from what I know and understand of Christian theology, God in His omniscience knew in the beginning how it all would turn out, including that for each of our lives.

If you throw in our own God-granted free will into the mix, however, variations upon His plan would become possible. The lesson to be learned from story of Adam and Eve is God's said that man would receive God's blessings as long as he always obeyed the Lord. However, man chose to disobey, and suffered severe consequences as he had been warned. The rest of the Bible illustrates man's inability to rectify the situation, and illuminates God's plan to provide each of us with a way to become reconciled with Him again. Some have said the Bible is irrelevant now, but it is more important now than ever.

One might ask: If God knows everything about our lives before we are born, are we just puppets of God's will? If so, the consequences would be identical to the belief that we are all simply masses of protoplasm guided by chromosomes in response to the environment, and that our behaviors are ultimately completely predictable once we know and understand enough. One couldn't then call it free will.

However, knowing what will happen is not the same as making it happen. For instance, I know my son will be sharing some of his new photos with me. I know this because I know my son, not because I will make him do it. (That may be a weak analogy, but I'm not omniscient! I suspect there are better analogies out there, though.)

Interestingly, there is debate over whether one can fall from grace and have his/her name erased from the 'Book of Life.' I don't know the answer, but I am comforted by the following scripture: "...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
"There are none so blind as those who will not see."
 
jamincan
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:54 am

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 21):
The thing is though; the things we use as markers are constants. It has almost been 5 years, it has been almost 1825 days, it has almost been 43800 hours, 2628000 minutes, 157680000 seconds. Those markers exist for everyone and are indisputable.

Well, I wouldn't be so quick to say that. Time is far from the flowing constant you describe it as. The best examples of course are the effects of gravity and velocity on time. If you live on top of a mountain, you will actually age (almost inperceptably) slower due to the stronger gravitational field there. As well, the faster one's velocity, the slower the passage of time will be. The effects are strong enough that they have to be taken into account in, for example, GPS) Basically time and space are inseparable; time is simply a fourth dimension. We perceive it as a progression in a specific direction, but there is really no reason to believe that those restrictions would apply to God, especially when we apply qualities like omnipotence, and the idea that he created the whole damn thing.

As an analogy, if we view a three-dimensional object as a series of two-dimensional slices (like many CT scans for example), could we not also argue that we're simply perceiving a 4-dimensional world as a series of 3-dimensional ones? Who's to say that an omnipotent being couldn't 'see' in all four dimensions as we can see in 3?

This gets into some stickier philosophical problems. Like for example, if God is omniscient, that would suggest that our destiny is predetermined (and in fact, many people do believe in predestination); however, how can we possibly have free will then? One might argue that although God knows everything, it is ultimately our choice that determines the outcome in the end (keeping in mind that time isn't necessarily a sequential medium like we perceive it). And then, for the real sticky problems, you can always fall back on saying that God is omnipotent and made it so! :P

With all that out of the way, it certainly puts a bit of perspective on things like evolution and the Big Bang. While many might criticize the supposed unlikelihood of evolution (another argument entirely), the simplicity as compared to something like omnipotence or omniscience has me convinced. I have a much easier time believing God is something like Zeus, who's jealous and angry and horny and everything that the Christian God isn't; however, I'm pretty certain there isn't a Pantheon of Gods up on Mount Olympus, so I'll stick with my atheism for the time being.  Wink
 
Klaus
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:07 am

Quoting Korg747 (Reply 17):
Tell me where people were morally or ethically before God and the bible came to people's lives?

There were plenty of decent people all through history way before the bible was written and even after that who didn't know or care about its existence. And there was plenty of carnage and cruelty committed by supposedly "christian" people.

Christianity like most other religions would ask you to become a better person, but it won't make you one!
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 3:23 am

Quoting Klaus (Reply 22):
If someone has to basically be forced at gunpoint to do something good, it is most definitely less praiseworthy as asked above.

That's a completely different issue. The question is whether the act resulting from virtue is praiseworthy because someone believes that a rulebook tells him to be virtuous. The motives of someone aren't relevant to whether the act itself is praiseworthy unless the intent of the insistence actually serves a different purpose (your sweatshop example).

Quoting Klaus (Reply 22):
No. It only deals with the plausible expectation of how someone would react in a critical situation. If someone must be expected to happily burn others at the stake should his religion tell him so it most certainly paints a rather bleak picture of that person's ethics. And yet that has often been the case and still is, from all appearances.

Where was expectation initially referenced in my question? The question is whether the act of virtue itself is less praiseworthy. Further, in any event, it does not follow that because someone follows a rulebook to achieve one purpose, he will follow it to achieve purposes that are entirely the opposite; this extension of your argument is a red herring. As I said, the fact is that the rulebook produced a beneficial result in this case. Merely because a different rulebook that does not exist, or a rulebook that is misinterpreted, in another conceivable instance, could have produced the opposite, does not reflect on the merits of the actual act.

For example: If the rulebook on how to install a computer operating system tells you to do "x", isn't doing "x", for whatever reason, just as beneficial to the installation of the system as if you had done it without consulting it? Would you argue that following rulebooks could lead to doing "anti-x", and that therefore doing "x" by following the book is less praiseworthy than the act of someone who does "x" for no any particular reason (i.e., doesn't think of God) at all? Surely not, I think. Thus, why does following a rulebook to reach a beneficial end -- the glass of water -- make that act less praiseworthy?

There is the issue of necessary and concurrent causes, here. If the benefactor does something because he thinks that the rulebook tells him too, there is no necessity that he be motivated by fear to do so. He could believe that the Bible (the rulebook) teaches beneficence regardless of the existence of hell. Further, he could be good-natured enough to have given the glass of water even without consciously thinking of the rulebook -- although, in our discussion, it is assumed and conceded by all that he actually did. Thus, saying that the act is less praiseworthy merely because it was motivated at least in part by a belief in God, because such act must be necessarily motivated by fear of coercion, is, at best, highly prejudicial.

[Edited 2006-08-27 20:31:43]
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Klaus
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 3:54 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 26):
That's a completely different issue. The question is whether the act resulting from virtue is praiseworthy because someone believes that a rulebook tells him to be virtuous.

Exactly what I was answering.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 26):
The motives of someone aren't relevant to whether the act itself is praiseworthy unless the intent of the insistence actually serves a different purpose (your sweatshop example).

That was Aloges' example.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 26):
Thus, why does following a rulebook to reach a beneficial end -- the glass of water -- make that act less praiseworthy?

Praise is not deserved for something somebody is forced to do. Praise should be the response for actual positive intentions manifesting in doing the right thing.

What you're asking for is a reward for compliance with authoritarian rules, without any inner motivations factoring in.

It is what every authoritarian religion conditions its members for, so it's a widespread mechanism. But there's plenty of evidence why the bigotry and selfishness that's often reinforced that way causes more problems than the conformitiy with certain rules resolves.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 26):
Thus, saying that the act is less praiseworthy merely because it was motivated at least in part by a belief in God, because such act must be necessarily motivated by fear of coercion, is, at best, highly prejudicial.

I don't see it that way. I have a lot more respect for someone who helps because it's the right thing to do than for someone who primarily attempts to suck up to his imaginary bully in the sky.

That said, there are many examples of religious people reaching that ideal, but there are also many non-religious people getting there as well.

Enforced conformity with authoritarian rule books which are claimed to be above human justification and revision is an evil in our world, even if it may not feel that way for those who happen to be well-adapted and obedient.

If you're a truly inspired human being, it matters not what your path had been to there, but organized religion is certainly not a precondition, if it helps at all.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 4:37 am

I believe in Miracles cause I've seen them occur.In times of no hope when theres a miracle to help out.I believe there is some superpower as these things are more than coincidences.
regds
MEL
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QXatFAT
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 4:44 am

Yes God has changed my life. I see my life before Him and after Him and see a wreck that I was in. He has brought me to many levels that I thought I could never be at. I have such hope in my life as well. Smile on my face 24/7! He has blessed me greatly in things that have been put in my life. Threw giving me great things and also by not giving me things but showing me the reasons why and for my interest. God is great!
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Klaus
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 4:44 am

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 28):
I believe in Miracles cause I've seen them occur.In times of no hope when theres a miracle to help out.I believe there is some superpower as these things are more than coincidences.

I would agree if the opposite side wasn't represented pretty much to the same extent - if not more frequently. You can't just rave about presumable miracles and fully ignore people suffering strings of catastrophies on the other side.

Or wait - yes, you can! That's one of the main mechanisms of how religions have been created...!
 
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 4:46 am

Quoting Klaus (Reply 27):
Praise is not deserved for something somebody is forced to do. Praise should be the response for actual positive intentions manifesting in doing the right thing.

That's a very curious thing to say, Klaus. (By the way, I misattributed Aloges' example to you -- thank you for noting that. I apologize for the error.) We all do things that are required by law, for example -- being careful in driving, or following the directions of peace officers. Behind them is the "threat" that if you do not, you could be trouble with the authorities. Are you telling me that these acts are not praiseworthy? Would you say that these acts are as little praiseworthy as reckless driving, or willfully disobeying the directions of peace offices? I think you would distinguish between these two classes of actions -- following the law, or disobeying it.

And, by extension, I think that being a law-abiding individual is a praiseworthy status, although, again, I want to refocus the discussion on the meritoriousness of the act outside of the motivations you've ascribed to it. I think you've rather neglected the point, which is central, that the merits of an act, regardless of rational utility, can be deemed praiseworthy even if it follows a rulebook. I think that you've burdened "following the rulebook" with all kinds of horribles, including fear of punishment, that often isn't there. And the point that the rulebook, when correctly intepreted, yields the right result is also apparently overlooked.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 27):
If you're a truly inspired human being, it matters not what your path had been to there, but organized religion is certainly not a precondition, if it helps at all.

That's not really the issue. I'm not asking anyone to deem the act of giving a glass of water an act of godliness or sainthood. That's not the argument I'm making. I'm merely saying that the goodness of an act remains good regardless of whether it is done out of remembrance of the teachings of a rulebook, or for no such reason at all.

For that matter, let's remember the lessons of philosophical egoism: Whatever happens that we desired, was desired ultimately first for the good of the individual involved (i.e., the moral actor, or, in this case, the benefactor), and only secondarily for anyone else (the homeless person). This seems to make common sense. If this is true, then, even if a rulebook isn't what motivates someone, it is likely that he is still motivated ultimately by self-interest -- hardly an inspiring basis for any act.

[Edited 2006-08-27 21:51:16]
What's fair is fair.
 
redngold
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 5:00 am

How has God changed my life?

In one word: HOPE.

Before I embraced God's presence in my life, I always knew He was there. That's why I couldn't commit suicide even in my deepest depressive episodes. I knew that there was a reason for my life and even if I didn't know what it was, it wasn't my right to end whatever reason for which I was living.

Once I came to faith (December 17, 1992) I suddenly had hope that things would work out. Yes, there are days (like today, after finding out that my financial aid has been screwed up again) when I feel pessimistic, but I no longer feel the absolute despair that I felt before. In general, I am more optimistic because instead of just having "head knowledge" of God's Love, I feel it.

I try to share that Love with others, but being the imperfect human that I am, there are some times (perhaps to some, many times) that my words come across as harsh, angry or hateful. It's never my intention to do that. Believe me, there have been times when, through Bible study or prayer, or listening to inspired preaching, that I have been "convicted" of my own sin and temporarily felt hated for it - but I believe that persecution does not from God, but from the evil one who wishes me to lose faith and give up striving for the ultimate goal. It is in those times of conviction that I have to hold on to the promise of redemption that I cannot perform myself, rather that comes through God's work in my life.


redngold
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TedTAce
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 5:33 am

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 23):
Replying from what I know and understand of Christian theology, God in His omniscience knew in the beginning how it all would turn out, including that for each of our lives.

I have heard of planning in advance but don't you think that's a touch ridiculous?

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 23):
Some have said the Bible is irrelevant now

I have and do. Nothing on this planet will ever convince me that the bible is worth anything. Even if and when I do meet god, I'm positive that while he'll give me a well deserved ticket to the hot house, but first he's going to praise me for being skeptical of what other men have tried to force me to believe.

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 23):
but it is more important now than ever.

Why? Why can't we just say f this religious crap, f this conservative/liberal crap, f hate, f cellphones, and most importantly f disrespect? I'm not going to argue the point of religions role of hate and violence in our history, but if it isn't patently obvious that religion isn't effing up the world right now then I suggest you waive your bible in Iran.

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 23):
he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

If there is a god, I agree with the sentiment that they intend for us to be the best possible people we can be. I live my life as well as I can and be the best person and father I can be. I have made mistakes I'll likely suffer a life of eternal damnation for but I'm going to spend the rest of my time between those mistakes and my grave trying to prove to myself that overall I'm a good person. If nothing else I want to die with as clear a consience as possible. if it effect the decisions of a divine being, so be it. I just want to die knowing I had a fair run at it.

Quoting Jamincan (Reply 24):
As well, the faster one's velocity, the slower the passage of time will be.

This bothers me. I know it has been proven, but I can't deal with it on te terms it has been demonstrated. One of my favorite things to use as an analogy is the radio dump when a caller says something naughty. Ok the show starts @ 9:00 AM and the host dumps say 10 calls with a 7 second delay. so 12:00 PM comes up and the show ends or does it? Where's the 1 minute and 10 seconds of delay?

Here's the other thing. Say for example you could insantaneously be transported to a planet 5,000 light years away. Presuming the fact that the acceleration and deceleration didn't kill you, what are you seeing when you look back at earth? I believe that you would be wittnessing the dawn of man as the light of 5,000 years ago is just now getting to that planet.

Quoting Jamincan (Reply 24):
atheism

Agnostic here. The books are full of  redflag  but denying that there is a more powerful force or beings in the universe is as foolhardy as saying we are the only creatures in existance anywhere.
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sean1234
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 6:34 am

Why is God an interventionalist? It seems most people feel that God has some impact on the daily affairs of the world. Could it be that the tree was planted and then left to grow on its own? God could have created the universe and then let things play out from there. The human race could even be an unintended consquence of the universe. But ponder it all you want, you will never find the answer, I think it is safe to say, at least as you exist now- a living person.
 
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:56 am

Quoting Sean1234 (Reply 34):
Why is God an interventionalist? It seems most people feel that God has some impact on the daily affairs of the world.

I, too, have heard the complaint that God cannot be deemed a "cosmic butler", out there to do everyone's bidding. Anyone who believes that He is, it seems to me, may be indulging in solipsism of a particular sort.

This, in part, is why the final form of the thread topic included not only God, but virtue, as part of what could influence us.

I suppose that one could just as well start a thread on how vice has influenced us, but I suspect that it would be a sadder thread.

The idea of virtue is, in a way, more ancient than the human idea of God, and I trust no one will accuse me of sacrilege if I say this, since if God exists, then He Himself created virtue as much as anything else, and therefore must pre-date it.

The answer to your question -- why people believe that God is a "cosmic butler" -- has something to do, I suspect, with how people desire that someone greater than they do something to rectify wrongs that they themselves are powerless to effect. That's not unusual at all; in some ways, some people believe that government is their personal butler, as well: Rather than doing something for themselves, they await government's assistance because they feel completely unempowered to do anything about it. Or, perhaps, they are simply too indolent to do so; the justification varies.

Another aspect of a possible answer, however, is that God, like virtue, can be seen to act through the acts of each individual. Thus, aside from the strangeness of praying to oneself, a prayer for good things to happen to either oneself or to others (e.g., "I pray for your safe return", said to a private pilot who may then be more cautious about his own flying skills) is an independently analyzable and possibly effective means of reinforcing the possibility that the things desired will occur. Yes, there is a bit of fuzziness and New Ageism involved in this, but who can deny that if one intends something to occur, it is probably at least one step closer than not to intend it? The reason that God is asked to do certain things may have to do with what we intend of ourselves as much as what we intend of God, and perhaps this is part of the explanation of why God is asked to fulfill the role of the universe's best approximation of Jeeves.

[Edited 2006-08-28 04:01:59]
What's fair is fair.
 
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:11 am

Erratum: The relevant paragraph in the first message thread was intended to read as follows:

Quote:
It's made me question the aims of science when unchecked by ethics; and on a personal level, I think that it's made me believe that there is a force out there that protects me, when I protect myself.

Further comments:

Delusional or not -- and if God doesn't exist, then obviously I'm deluding myself about that "force" out there -- the belief that there is a God, or that there are virtues that might as well be immanent within a Creator -- is facilitated in my own life, though clearly the evils of the world are always a challenge to that belief.

I see that there are others here who have also come to the conclusion that God has changed their lives, and I think that this is a very positive thing.

I thank everyone for sharing their experiences and thoughts, whatever they may be.
What's fair is fair.
 
bezoar
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:24 pm

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 35):
This, in part, is why the final form of the thread topic included not only God, but virtue, as part of what could influence us.

One of the difficulties we all face in life is in regards to what we consider 'good' in terms of our thoughts and actions. One could take it all the way back to when prehistoric man battled over water holes, but we all deal with it today.

When we say or think something is right or wrong, good or bad, ethical or unethical, humane or inhumane, a virtue or a vice, to what standard are we referring? We are implying that we know something by which we judge rightness or goodness.

Certainly, mankind has struggled with this so much that laws were developed with associated consequences. This is BIG business for our governments, nationally and locally. Staying within the lines has huge impacts on our every day lives, though we often take it for granted. In other ways, we scheme to get around the laws, sometimes having a portion of joy in the process.

Are we to consider the 'good' as a relative matter and define it individually? What may be good for me may not be good for you. Agreements might be reached on the common good, but would likely not apply to all individuals. Furthermore, one would have a hard time justifying why they were right, as there would be no greater standard by which to measure.

Are we to decide upon it democratically? The majority gets to decide! Might makes right! The people have spoken! The problem is people are uneducated, apathetic, and often revert to what they think is good only for themselves, not some pragmatic system.

How about having someone to decide for us? We have dictatorships and kings whom we don't get to choose. We have presidents, senators, and other representative whom we supposedly do. Either way they are supposed to represent us and act on our behalf. But do they always? They often do things that we disagree with, and do not see as being good. Or do they even revert to what is good for them?

Is there a higher good that is transcendent to us as individuals? This might be explained by the 'collective consciousness' that Klaus described in another thread. However, such a 'collective' would necessarily be in a process of evolution until it reached perfection, if such a thing existed. Until everyone together tapped into the perfected collective, disagreements would continue. If one individual could tap into it right now, how could anyone else know? Even if somehow that person was placed in charge and gave them supreme power, I suspect we would disagree with their ways and consider them no better than a dictator.

The only true possible good we could find that is truly transcendent to mankind would be one defined by God and provided to man.

This, of course, presumes that God exists, that He is righteous and good, and that He has or will tell us what is right and wrong. This also presumes that mankind is able to receive that message and understand what it means. This would be our individual conscience where our hearts can lead us to proper action, often at risk and sacrifice for ourselves.

The question with which this thread began was: "How has God - or virtue - changed your life?"

To this I would say that I now know that God has been interested in me all through my life, but that I only came to realize that 8 year ago when I accepted Christ. I finally began to understand at that moment what all the 'Bible thumpers' and hymns and creeds and sermons were trying to say to me. It was like I had a new language.

Furthermore, I learned that the more I try to lead a Christ-centered life, the less I focus on my own difficulties and the more I serve others, the less I am concerned about material things and wealth, and the happier I am. Christ said that in order to find yourself, you must first lose yourself. I know now what this means, and am working to realize the fullness of His message.

For you who dismiss God and/or blame religion for mankind's woes, realize that you can't blame God for man's predicament or man's actions. Man has the ability to hurt and destroy whether or not religion is involved, and is so despicable that he will use ANYTHING to justify doing what he wants. He has the power to do good, but then by which standards? To what purpose?

It is a perfect example of why we need God in our lives, and why we need a savior. If you don't like hearing this, I'll say that I'm quite familiar with your protests, because I uttered them loudly for over 30 years. For those years I continued to inquire, reflect, and seek truth. I continue seeking today, but I do so knowing that we as humans are certainly not gods, and that mankind has no ability to define a higher truth or goodness beyond himself.

Peace, and goodnight to all.
"There are none so blind as those who will not see."
 
TedTAce
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:25 pm

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 36):
Delusional or not -- and if God doesn't exist, then obviously I'm deluding myself about that "force" out there -- the belief that there is a God, or that there are virtues that might as well be immanent within a Creator -- is facilitated in my own life, though clearly the evils of the world are always a challenge to that belief.

Evil is good and good is evil. ad absurdum. The only diference in reality is PERCEPTION.
For a thief, stealing is good, products are transferred to him with minimal investment and they are rewarded. To the victim property is lost and the priceless value of security is erroded. A Church makes the minimal investment of a place to pray, a charasmatic leader, and all the money they can get the community to tithe to them. The question is are the parishioners victims? Ultimately no, as you can't take money with you no matter what you believe. But maybe the children who would have additionally benefitted from the proceeds are the victims.
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HAWK21M
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 5:42 pm

When times are real tough & theres no hope ahead....Most people give up/go the wrong way/desert their loved ones/think of themselves only.
Thats when an Individual gets Inspiration to fight those odds alone with no help.
That Inspiration is the belief in GOD according to me.
Others may differ.Thats their choice.This is mine.
I dont have to be a saint But I can be Good.
regds
MEL
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AerospaceFan
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 6:05 pm

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 39):
That Inspiration is the belief in GOD according to me.
Others may differ.Thats their choice.This is mine.
I dont have to be a saint But I can be Good.

Well put, HAWK21M.

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 38):
Evil is good and good is evil. ad absurdum. The only diference in reality is PERCEPTION.

I'm not sure I could agree. I will have to think about this further and hope to post about it later when I have the time.
What's fair is fair.
 
airxliban
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Mon Aug 28, 2006 8:03 pm

It's very difficult for a modern, secular person to subscribe to many of the basic traditions - particularly anecdotal ones - that are at the core of many religions. However in my opinion, it's not important to believe them as fact but rather to accept them for the message which they transmit. For my part, whether Jesus walked on the water and whether Moses parted the Red Sea is simply not relevant. What is important is the lessons learned and the perspective gained from these and other stories.

As for myself, I believe in the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God. Those three characteristics are difficult to reconcile with science, but as I said it's not important to do that. I believe that God already knows how everything in my life and everyone else's is going to pan out and he guides our actions through his wisdom. I know that if I do my best and the leave the rest up to God, the end outcome will be in my favour, even if I do not realise it immediately. The confidence which that gives me in undertaking various challenges in life is such great.

I hope that sort of is in line with the type of general commentary intended by the thread opener. But this is just what works for me and I don't go around judging others by these criteria. That said, I do think that it is important for an individual to think at some length about the idea of God and religion, but if the end of that thought process he decides to become Atheist, then that's just as good as if he had decided to become anything else. At the end of day, we act according to our beliefs and everyone ought to have an opportunity to experience God in whatever form, or lack thereof, that they are most comfortable with.
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Tue Aug 29, 2006 4:55 am

Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 41):
I hope that sort of is in line with the type of general commentary intended by the thread opener.

It is, indeed. I thank you for your kind consideration of this topic.

Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 41):
That said, I do think that it is important for an individual to think at some length about the idea of God and religion, but if the end of that thought process he decides to become Atheist, then that's just as good as if he had decided to become anything else. At the end of day, we act according to our beliefs and everyone ought to have an opportunity to experience God in whatever form, or lack thereof, that they are most comfortable with.

Unlike many other people who believe in God, I find myself completely revolted by the idea that God would condemn any good person merely for being an atheist. Besides, it's not my place -- it's not anyone's place -- to condemn anyone for not believing the same things that anyone else happens to believe. Indeed, I think that there is a sense in which many atheists are more genuine than many religious types, because atheists, seeing the world as it is, are unafraid of reaching -- of their own free will -- what they believe is the right conclusion, come what may. Nor do they hide their beliefs behind hypocrisy or any pretense calculated to ensure personal gain. Many Elmer Gantry types, on the other hand, make me sick.

So, the God I believe in does not condemn the good person simply for not worshipping Him. Any god that does that, I'm sorry to say, I would find it difficult to truly respect.

[Edited 2006-08-28 22:01:51]
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Tue Aug 29, 2006 7:11 am

Quoting Korg747 (Reply 17):
I'm sick and tired of hearing people saying "More people have died in the name of god than any other form" really, you gotta be either stupid of helpless to actually blame God for a bunch of morons who think they should die in the name of God. God never interferes with free will or free thinking or opinion, he would be one controlling God if he did. Wake up and look at who is doing what, I see your young like me, you should already see and realize how crazy people are and they will get even crazier the more you experience them, but if you still want to blame God anyway then you need good glasses. Oh and why God doesn't come down and settle all this conflict of thinking? It's all in the bible. God's history with man when he was showing him self and making appearances. didn't go that great did it now? he gave us free will, and he will not interfere with it.

You have to also understand that God is the love side of people. I truly believe that the current ethics and morals have originated from God and religion and it doesn't matter if you believe in him or not. just think about it for a min. Tell me where people were morally or ethically before God and the bible came to people's lives? just answer that question for me. Don't even start the argument that if religion were to be taken out NOW out of people's lives, people would be just fine, people now are different from the past because alot of the cultures are based on good morals and ethics that originated from religion and so many morals and ethics have become standard between many families and not just the word of God.

If you deny that more people have died in the name of god then you better check your history. However, it is true that this has not been the case in modern history but it still does go on in parts of the world. Look at the middle east. They are using religion to cause wars and hardship on the rest of the world. The problem is that religion cause people to hide behind it and use it to justify their actions, and it is impossible to convince them otherwise. I believe that people have become more civilised in modern history because of Science. They have gained a better understanding of their world and have become more aware of humanity. Your theory of religion causing people to become civilised may not be true. Religion has been with us for thousands and thousands of years, yet humans have become civilized only the last few hundred years. And do you not agree that science has been with us for that short amount of time?

It's very simple when humans do not understand something they make up reasons. When humans understand something they will be less likely to have false reasoning.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Tue Aug 29, 2006 9:07 am

Quoting AirWillie6475 (Reply 43):
If you deny that more people have died in the name of god then you better check your history.

I think that most of the wars in Asia were caused by more mundane factors than religion. Since Asia contained a very large portion of humanity throughout the last several thousand years, have you taken their wars into consideration?

What about war in the time of ancient Rome? Certainly they weren't done in the name of Zeus, despite the fact that the Caesar eventually came to be considered quasi-divine.

What about war in the time of the Egyptians, or Mesopotamians? Was war a function of the need to glorify -- for example -- Ra?

Even such relatively recent wars as the Hundred Years' War in Europe figured more for political than religious supremacy.

Let's exclude modern times, except for the Middle East, as you've done, since you do say in your message that many wars today are no longer religiously motivated. If you factor out all the remaining wars that were actually political wars, and had only a minor religious lining, or weren't religious at all, what major wars are left that were religiously motivated? Possibly the Crusades, even though some say that they actually originally reflected an attempt to relieve Europe of an abundance of warriors. A few others. What else? Regarding wars in the Middle East, that area represents a minority of humanity, and besides, the wars there haven't resulted in a great many casualties when the scales of World Wars are considered. (The two World Wars were certainly not religious wars.)

The "religion has caused the most casualties" argument should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

You are, of course, correct in saying that religion is often used as an excuse or false justification for war. The fact that religion is not entirely rational facilitates its misuse, as you would agree. However, this is a far different thing from blaming wars on God, virtue, or religions themselves. Otherwise, it's a little like saying that love is horrible because so many people kill out of jealousy disguised as love.

Suggested reading:

http://www.gotterdammerung.org/books/reviews/c/causes-of-war.html (discusses major analytic themes of a common reference work on why wars occur; note that religion is never mentioned as a cause)

[Edited 2006-08-29 02:29:41]
What's fair is fair.
 
Dougloid
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Tue Aug 29, 2006 9:37 am

Quoting Klaus (Reply 6):
It does not take religion to get there - any human being should realize that; And more importantly, every scientist should!

You've put your thumb squarely on an ethical pressure point, Klaus.

There's always been something of a disconnect between science and ethics but I believe that is changing. You know, the guy who develops nerve gas as an exercise in chemistry and says "Well, I can't control what people do with my discoveries...." about face and back to the lab, sleeps well at night and so on.

Science is now having to consider the applications that research facilitates, and consider the ethics involved. And that demands a working knowledge of ethical thought processes. If nothing else, science should realize and be bound by the same ethical standards the rest of us are subject to. To this, I more or less put Fort Detrick and Mengele in the same bag, although I suspect that because the science was not proceeding on a faulty basis, namely the myth of racial superiority, that Detrick produced qualitatively better, reproducible results.

I believe that we first started thinking seriously about such things in the aftermath of war 2. We've had to confront the evil that applied science of the nuclear physics variety has unleashed on the world, and as Churchill called it "the lights of perverted science" harnessed to validate the theory of racial superiority-this was a book I read recently about Himmler and the Ahnenerbe(?) research institute.

While I was thinking about this I found an interesting article concerning this turn of phrase and nazi public health programs....

http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/163/9/1176
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
Dougloid
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Tue Aug 29, 2006 9:50 am

I forgot what I was going to say.

I'm not sure about the existence of G-d, although I am scared enough not to say his name aloud or spell it out. Someone once said that if G-d did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. He may have had a point.

If I have a religion it is the Anglican faith as taught by Fr. James Henry Martin so long ago. He always said that religion was not meant to be easy on the mind or a way to absolve ones' responsibilities. He saw faith as the arms of warriors, as befitted an old military man who was a War 2 combat chaplain. He really was a christian soldier and a great formative influence.

Interestingly enough, last trip home I went by the church (built in 1704) before Christmas to see how the altar was dressed for the season-the candlesticks were the same ones I lit as a boy serving mass. I met the priest and told him I'd been one of Fr. Martin's crew and he said "He was quite a man. He's been gone thirty years and people remember him very well. You were quite fortunate."

I'm not a particularly virtuous person, although I like to tell my spouse of 25 years that I am a man of easy virtue. I'm waiting for the results.

I do believe that the greater good is not well served by substance abuse, and so I avoid the same and make sure I tell people why. I believe also that men who won't support the children they father are not fitten company for the dog turds that litter the public parks. I believe everything starts with personal responsibility-in other words, what we called 'being a stand up guy' in the Jersey of my youth.

Usually, that's about enough deep thinking to get me through the day.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
andessmf
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Tue Aug 29, 2006 10:18 am

Quoting Klaus (Reply 6):
It does not take religion to get there - any human being should realize that; And more importantly, every scientist should!



Quoting Klaus (Reply 6):
My own perspective: Life is not fair - but people can try to make it a bit more fair. And some coincidences appear to be - as long as we happen to come across the positive side of coincidence...!

Perfect, just damn good way of saying it.

No, it doesnt take religion to get there, but sometimes it helps. I am not in any way considered a religious person, but my wife and I try to live a very decent life. Has that changed our life? You bet! What goes around comes around, and so far, most of our lifes has worked out better than we imagined.
 
CastleIsland
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RE: How Has God -- Or Virtue -- Changed Your Life?

Tue Aug 29, 2006 10:58 am

Spirituality and a cold dose of reality has molded my life. I don't really need to be told what is right and what is wrong. I have done some things right, and I have done wrong. I know what they are. I need no one to fill me in.

I truly feel that, at least for me, I am a better person for figuring it out on my own, rather than having some "expert" tell me about it. I'm imperfect. I can accept that. I've figured that out on my own. That, and how to deal with it.

BTW, I have read the Bible (and because of that, of course, the Torah), the Qu'ran, Zen Texts, Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist texts, Taoist writings, Tibetan Sacred writings (Book of the Dead, higher and lower Tantras (having also been trained in them)), the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita. They all strike me as various forms of literature. Common sense, coupled with sensible reaction and understanding of life experience is the best teacher I have ever found.

Don't take this the wrong way. I am no better than dirt, and no worse than wonder. It's all in how you perceive it. We all need different things. I just hope you all understand something that seems so obvious, that I have to say it: there can only be one truth, despite the reality of the need for many paths to it.

[Edited 2006-08-29 04:09:16]
"People don't do what they believe in, they just do what's most convenient, then they repent." - Dylan

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