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Yet another religion thread: what constitutes weird?

Discussion in 'Dark Tranquillity' started by hyena, Aug 8, 2007.

  1. rahvin

    rahvin keeper of the flame

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    Actually, that site is a little below philosophical views: it employs illogical arguments to proselytize in a way that is closely reminiscent of what a wacky cult would do. I would say it gives atheists a bad name, but I don't think the difference in opinion should be polarized as if both groups were out recruiting: for once, I feel no need to persuade anybody my views on God are correct.

    As for your opinion of agnosticism, I'm afraid it suffers from a common misconception: of course God either exists or it doesn't. Me making up my mind won't change this. My stance is merely that science won't get me to the answer yes or no, and I personally do not feel any faith.

    It's an interesting topic to discuss, and I concede that all sorts of horribly superstitious fundamentalism are the home of some imbeciles who happen to be believers. But I'm not feeling guilty for what you probably see as "not taking sides", because the only divide I reckon I see lying around is the one separating the smart and intellectually curious from the fruitcakes. And I'm not going to repeat whom I think the author of godisimaginary.com belongs to.
     
  2. Kovenant84

    Kovenant84 T-369 days

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    Alright, here I would beg to differ. Aside from the fact that Jesus was actually a real person, the sea of reeds likely did part for Moses, and quite a few other tidbits, you're right in saying they have no reasonable basis in reality. In short, as I don't have much time right now, many of the stories in the bible (aside from those waaay towards the beginning, which are obviously oral tradition and not "Read as Written" true - example, two genesis stories) have factual basis, and had grounding for faith. Have they been stretched and exaggerated over time into superhuman events? Quite possibly. Doesn't invalidate their actuality or the fact that they inspired faith and hope in people.

    I'd have to stand with Rahvin on this (I guess I'm agnostic in the end, thinking longer about it...), purely because I recognize that there is a place for religion and it can have very profound effects on people - while I don't necessarily believe the way I had been raised to, I cannot verify one way or the other the existence of God. I do have an idea of how God might be manifest if there exists such a thing, but there is no possible way to prove it.

    And I meant to address scientific faith earlier. There is a certain amount of faith and leaps in logic one must make when examining the fundamental underpinnings of the universe as we know it. The big bang theory is of course a great example. Sure there are many ways to explain it and the existence of God simultaneously without too much trouble, but no one knows just what happened, and we likely never will. In such a case, if you believe that a mass of matter suddenly exploded with such force as to forge our world as we know it, or if that matter was created and guided to such an end by an independent force, either is faith, pure and simple. One might have more evidence, but neither is more provable than the other.

    More clarifications to follow, possibly.

    ~kov.
     
  3. Kenneth R.

    Kenneth R. Cináed

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    ian.de: as i said before, "religious faith" as you define it is what i call nonsense. I do not believe that many major religions fall into that category. kov nailed it.
     
  4. hyena

    hyena counterclockwise

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    i'm a bit taken aback by the fact that one should invoke scientific arguments for or against the existence of god. for bubu's sake (see, i'm being PC), and for the entertainment of mathematicians and engineers, life is a bloody complex system, right? and a complex system is more than the sum of its parts. there is going to be a deterministic part. and there is going to be a stochastic part. this means that some facts will be scientifically clear and might or might not point in the direction of god's existence. but as far as i recall christianity is all centered on free will, do or don't, accept or refuse. you're not supposed to have evidence, otherwise moral choice would amount to absolutely nothing - faith being another kettle of fish, but i'm crap at metaphysics so i will not delve into it.

    a bit of consistency ffs.
     
  5. Kenneth R.

    Kenneth R. Cináed

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    I never said that "evidence" need be purely scientific. Just that "evidence" should exist and make some degree of sense to others.

    I am a Christian by the way, simply defending the notion that science and religion are not at odds, nor are all religions bogus fluff. I respect legitimate beliefs. I don't respect the kind of belief I described as "weird" before - the kind where the believer knows what they practice to be a false invention of humankind.
     
  6. Wolfman Von Jones

    Wolfman Von Jones The trouble with you

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  7. Siren

    Siren Active Member

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    I do believe that in the end noone can really know for sure. I don't think that makes me an agnostic though, since i choose to believe in the existence of God. I'm still trying to make up my mind about a lot of things, and i'm not fully satisfied with what one religion or dogma says. I tend to think that the truth is like a huge pyramid and each religion is like a hand placed on a side of it.

    By the way, what's up with the sea of reeds thing? I thought that was on the myth side.
     
  8. ian.de

    ian.de Member

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    I'd like to clarify that I never said that I agree with the Big Bang theory, I simply stated that is one of the explanatory theories of the beginning of the universe. It has some interesting evidence backing it up, (galaxies/stars/asteroids/planets are moving through space in an outward spherical shape away from what seems to be a center point etc.). I'm not even concerned with what created the universe because it's a question humans will never have the answer to. The questions I am interested in are the ones of this world.

    I know for an almost certainty that no man-made religions are real. First of all because they are all made up by men, ancient men, and that is reflected in the outdated scripture context. I have trouble rationalizing details like these.
    I can not rationalize moses parting a sea because that is simply impossible. I can not rationalize Noahs Ark and the great flood because it never happened. Do you know what would happen if every human on earth was born from the same two people? We'd all have missing brain lobes and 17 toes.

    There is no consistency in the bible and it simply does not test with the reality we know today, 2000 years after it was compiled and written by numerous men in an ancient language. Why would that be the case if it truly was written through the power of god? If scripture isn't the factual word of God then what proof for religion do you have at all? None I think.

    If the bible isn't the way to god then Christianity is not the way to god and neither is Islam or Judaism. So were the ancient Egyptians correct? Or what about some crazy African tribe in Zimbabwe that believes in the god of the forest floor? Maybe they got it right.

    And, because I can't prove beyond a doubt that the Christian god is made up, this also means that no one can prove that Zues, Odin, or Osiris are made up.
     
  9. Tebus

    Tebus An abode of few.

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    Have you ever read Jesus for the Non-Religious by John Shelby Spong? It's a fairly quick and easy read and addresses this topic. He is a retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark and IMO he really knows what he's talking about and has some interesting insights into what you're talking about above.

    Among other topics, he has an interesting explanation of where the parting of the Red Sea "myth" comes from. I think somehow the phrase "Sea of Reeds" was transcribed to the Red Sea, which is what we read in the Bible today. But even if you read the bible, you'll see that the Red Sea has a footnote of Sea of Reeds. The Sea of Reeds is actually a swamp, and what may have happened is that Moses was able to navigate the swamp, while the Egyptian soldiers were not able to make it across. At least that's my recollection of what I read, but I encourage you to see for yourself!

    Good Stuff.
     
  10. Kenneth R.

    Kenneth R. Cináed

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    Let's not discount the effects of tides as well.
     
  11. DisplayofCharacter

    DisplayofCharacter Are You Scared Enough?

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    I read an article in popular mechanics that supported that the tide enabled these events to happen. I wish I had a specific source, but I don't. The mag was from 1996, and my dads. I stole it from him, I think : P. At any rate, they provided some scientific basis for biblical events, though it was mostly speculation, it was all interesting.
     
  12. Northern Lights

    Northern Lights Quicksilver

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    I don't think the Bible (or any of the other religious scriptures for that matter) should be so taken literally, neither by atheists nor by zealots. It consists of stories compiled over a long period of time, reflecting the societies that existed then and their concerns. Compare the Old with the New Testament; yes, these are not consistent in their portrayal of God (Wrathful Vengeance vs. Love You Guys), but because it's religion, because it's spiritual, it's more about the message than the physical reality. Thus, the story about Moses parting the Red Sea (or managing the swamp, if that were the case) is more about attesting to the power of faith and assuring the believer that when it really matters, God will find a way to help you; you are not alone. Same with the rest of the content of the Bible; it's moral lessons taught to people who lived in societies that were deemed to need them. Not everything may be relevant today (such as the condemnation of homosexuality, the general stupidity regarding women and their uncleanliness, etc), but a lot of it still is. It may not be the word of God - but that doesn't prove that a God doesn't exist. What about all other religious scriptures? In the end, it only matters to all the most zealously religious who is "right" in their intepretation of the manifestations of God. There is nothing that says there has to be one right answer and lots of wrong ones. Why can't all be right? Scriptures are written by men, who interpret the word of God. Why would the intepretations not be different, depending on the society they live in?

    Religion, or spirituality, has been part of humanity for a very long time. You talk condescendingly about a "crazy African tribe" (as an aside; tribes in Africa are largely European and imperialist constructs anyway) worshipping a god of the forest, well that's what all people, everywhere, did at a certain point in time. Nature was our god, because nature ultimately controlled everything we did. Spirituality, the belief in something greater than ourselves, has always been there (albeit in less organised forms), and that, I feel, has to count for something. It's not about taking things so literally, and trying to prove something by doing so.

    By the way, this

    is probably one of the worst arguments I have ever read, and I have read quite a few in my day. It's poorly worded, it draws on no kind of evidence whatsoever. "Compare any two people" - who did he compare? what were their actual answers? And when, pray tell, did they die and go to heaven? You can't ask people what the moon is like and expect their answers to be the same if they've never been there. No scientific method applied whatsoever, I see - "heaven's imaginary", well gosh oh my, ya think? Heaven is an idea that no living person has ever seen, it can't be examined scientifically. Debunking a philosophical, abstract idea simply because people have different interpretations of what it entails - that doesn't prove anything. It's a philosophical question, concerned with interpretation - it is not possible to prove anyone wrong in such an argument. Therefore, you can neither confirm nor reject the existence of God through claiming that heaven's imaginary. So what if it is? The notion of divinity is not intimately tied to the existence of a "heaven". There are religions where rebirth is the way to go. We're not just talking Christianity here, we're talking all religions.

    And as for my own stance on this, I shall steal a friend's expression and say that I'm spiritual, not religious. Most of the people I know who are most concerned with logic in their studies and professions (medicine, any of the sciences, engineering, maths and so on) have faith. It's us social science/liberal arts people who tend to be mainly agnostics and atheists.
     
  13. rahvin

    rahvin keeper of the flame

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    This has been mentioned in passing by Kov as well, and it bears repeating.

    Most Christians believe that the Bible needs interpretation. Who does the interpreting and why and how often may differ, but the most common opinion is you shouldn't go around measuring the size of Heaven in square meters just because at some point in the Bible vague figures are given. It adds a whole new scale of stupidity to try and drive people away from religion with arguments based on evidence that the Bible is a little confusing when you take it word-by-word. And that's assuming debunking the Bible would automatically translate into proving God does not exist, which is unlikely seeing how the Good Book is but one possible approach to one possible divinity.

    And I also noticed we've been treated to a robust dose of "God and Osiris and Odin and Pazuzu are equally unlikely THEREFORE!", a splendid point of view that means nothing since by "equally unlikely" you're already assuming what you seem to be wanting to prove.

    Not that you should try and prove God's non-existence, of course. The burden of proof lies on those who contend it exists. Unfortunately, however, for the most part they're not interested in offering a proof based in physics or mathematics, because it would be quite unnecessary to have faith in something you can demonstrate is there: nobody believes in Julius Caesar or Jack Nicholson.
     
  14. hyena

    hyena counterclockwise

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    Again, and sorry for being repetitive: personally, I do not think so. If it were possible to prove that God exists, the whole of Christian (and Jewish) theology would be entirely off the mark. There would be no faith and no act of will required in accepting a God whose existence is demonstrable. The more I reflect on theodicy and all those other slippery corners, the more I convince myself that the most crucial part of the doctrine has to do with what is revealed how, when and why. In other words, reality is supposed to have revelation within it (which is why looking at scientific evidence for the explanation of phenomena, as opposed to the existence of God, is within the duties of the faithful, I think), but revelation is not supposed to be first-order logic. That's why there is no burden of proof IMO; the consideration of where reality points is absolutely important, but it's always going to follow a principle of indetermination.
     
  15. Kovenant84

    Kovenant84 T-369 days

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    The best example of this is the determination of Heaven being hotter than Hell if you read the passages describing each's relative position to the Sun.

    To clarify on the Sea of Reeds thing, Ken, Tebus, and NL were pretty close. There's also a regional wind effect that when coupled with the tides and such, can lower and raise the water level an incredible amount in a very short time. Something like 10 inches in 15-20 minutes. Considering that Moses and crew were on foot and running, and the Egyptians were mounted and in chariots, one can see why 10 inches of water + mud would be detrimental to their ability to catch the fugitives. This event doesn't happen that often, as getting a confluence of the two tends to be rare, but the effect has been documented.

    And yes, interpretation is a vital phrase to use in this case. The bible, prior to a certain book (the name escapes me - it's been about seven years since I've done in-depth bible study) is purely an oral tradition later transcribed. Thus, one can safely assume that most of the stories are allegorical in nature. Yes, no one who has read through the bible assumes we were born of just two people. The genesis story was mostly included to show God's power and the assignment of humanity's place in the natural order. Hell, the book even says that there were other people. Really, it's in there.

    And just because something is stated in the bible, doesn't make it inherently false. You mentioned Noah's Ark. In fact, that's one story that's likely more true than most. Did the flood cover the whole world? No. How would the writers even know that? Did it probably affect a large portion of the world as they knew it? Yeah. Is there scientific / archaeological evidence for this event? Yes, more so than most stories in the bible.

    And I think NL had a very interesting point. Many people attempt to put science and faith at odds, but there actually tends to be a good number of believers (in something) in the scientific community, comparable to other fields. It's often been said that the more you know about the way the universe functions, and the delicate balance we exist in (balances of gravity vs. repulsion forces, ratio of matter to dark matter, etc.), the more you tend to believe that there is something else at work. The sheer coincidences do tend to add up, but concrete proof they are not.

    ~kov.
     
  16. rahvin

    rahvin keeper of the flame

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    But read what I said afterwards about why it's not relevant to prove it ("because it would be quite unnecessary to have faith in something you can demonstrate is there"). I agree with what you said. I meant that non-existence cannot be proved, as it were, structurally.
     
  17. hyena

    hyena counterclockwise

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    @rahvin: yeah, sorry, didn't pay attention to the last 2 lines, i'm sleepy today and i've got to gear up for a meeting with goes away by singing, which sounds more and more like a native american chief every day.
     
  18. Kovenant84

    Kovenant84 T-369 days

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    A native american chief in a Monty Python sketch is more like it.

    In regards the post I missed, and that Rahv responded to, Hyena, I'd have to agree with you. First, thanks for "Theodicy" - took a class on the subject my last year of high school, and totally forgot the term, which has been bothering me for some time now. I agree that faith should not require any burden of proof. Hell, the second definition of "faith" (courtesy of dictionary.com) is a belief not founded in logic or material proof. To me, that's the whole reason behind having the word in the first place. "I cannot prove it, but I believe it to be true." Thus why I said there is no distinction between so-called 'scientific faith' and religious faith.

    ~kov.
     
  19. Kenneth R.

    Kenneth R. Cináed

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    The burden of proof lies on all who are concerned about the question.
     
  20. Tebus

    Tebus An abode of few.

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    With the various religions I've read about, I've tried to pick out the aspects of the religion that might lead one to act in a way that benefits others or in a way that prevents them from only seeking please to him or herself. I've assumed that the overall intentions of religions like Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc. are morally upright. So when I look at faith in this light, I try to think of why it is that faith is important in terms of how it motivates us and inspires to act in ways to help more people. To me the reason is that, helping others and acting for others often doesn't do much for the person performing the act. There is not an immediate payoff. The only way that it would make sense to act in such selfless ways is if there somehow were a payoff, and to me, this is where faith comes in. It's important to believe that there will be a reward, otherwise, there is no motivation for acting in such a way.
     

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