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 Post subject: Religion
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 2:18 am 
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Shall we open a dialog about each other's religious views? I may be stepping out the bounds of this forum (please let me know if I am) but I think this could be an interesting line of conversation.

Pete


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 2:34 am 
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Religion topics only get bad when people start getting judgmental. ;)

I was raised Southern Baptist; fundamentalist father, apathetic mother; I was a fundie myself until about the age of 12 when I started to question things more seriously than I had before, but it was a slow progression sort of thing. I don't think I was a declared atheist until about 6 months to a year ago (I'm 29 now).

It was a slow progression because I discarded certain beliefs one by one; I'd resolve one area of cognitive dissonance, only to find not long after that there were still others. You can only discard so many individual beliefs until the whole belief system falls apart. :lol: So, I have a lot of sympathy for the fundies with the Southern Baptist Convention, who are so adamant about Biblical inerrancy. A quote from one of them:

SBC President Jerry Vines wrote:
The details of Jesus' return are given in language that cannot be denied. It is couched in the language of literality. It is impossible to take these words in a figurative, existential sense. It is a literal event which the Bible is teaching at this point. . . . It's all of one piece. If there be no literal return, there was no literal ascension; if there was no literal ascension, there was no literal resurrection. If there was no literal resurrection, there was no literal incarnation; and the whole Christian faith goes down the tubes if it's not what the Bible plainly says it's going to be.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:11 am 
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First, I have to say that I pass no personal judgment on any single person's belief system nor do I ever make any attempt to convert anyone to mine.

I was born of Roman Catholic parents and raised in the traditions of the Church. Up until age seven, I took the teachings as sacrosanct. Then, one day, an epiphany occurred. Having just finished reading the bible cover to cover, I could see the unreconciled differences between The Book and reality. I couldn't help feeling I'd been taken for a fool. Of course, I immediately squelched these horrid ideas my sinful little mind had cooked up against an infallible, a perfect religion which, as I had been informed, was Catholicism. I eventually came to the realization that every faith ever practiced in the history of humanity has caused a cessation of intellect; if one book has all the answers and is unquestionable, then what incentive is there to think about anything else? I deeply hold the belief that any embrace of immutable dogma is a grave sin.

I believe faith is a function of the limits of the human psyche. It never fails; if we understand an idea, we take it as common sense, never invoking faith of any kind; we don't believe in a rain-god, because we understand the water-cycle; our astrophysicists understand a branch of calculus known as perturbation theory, therefore we don't need a god to explain the otherwise miraculous stability of the planets' orbits around our sun. Isaac Newton did not understand perturbation theory (it had yet to be discovered); because of that lack in his knowledge (which was vast but limited, to be sure), he could not mathematically explain the regularity and stability of our solar-system. According to his calculations, the orbits should be unstable, causing the planets and moons to fly away along random paths. In his Principia he concluded that this could only be due to an omnipotent force:

"The six primary Planets are revolv'd about the Sun, in circles concentric with the Sun, and with motions directed towards the same parts, and almost in the same plane....But it is not to be conceived that mere mechanical causes could give birth to so many regular motions.
...This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."


Just as soon as we reach the boundaries of knowledge, we chalk up events to the supernatural. This is dangerous. We humans don't handle superstition very well, we get afraid, we worry about others' views of it, we kill and die over it. From A.D. 800-1100, Baghdad was the science capital of the world (Arabic numbers and algebra are products of this intellectually fertile period). Then Imam Hamid al-Ghazali (A.D. 1058-1111) whose philosophy basically said math is the work of the devil enters the equation. He forbade any thinking beyond the Koran, thereby undoing any intellectual progress and ushering in an age of violent fundamentalism that continues to this day. The Catholic teachings against contraception have had a profoundly negative impact in some parts of Africa, where use of condoms is considered sinful, but overpopulation and high AIDS rates are somehow taken for granted. Religion often tells us what is right, even if we know better.

. . .

I base my belief system on one premise: as an integral (albeit infinitesimal) part of reality, the ultimate job of being human is to humbly respect what actually is, regardless of what our terribly limited minds may want to think. Existence exists. I don't think anyone can disagree on that point. Since existence exists (in whatever form it does) we are compelled toward honest acknowledgment, whether we understand it or not.

So, do I belong to a sect? No. Am I an atheist, a deist, a pantheist? No, no, no. Am I undecided? No. Do I believe in the existence of God? That is an unanswerable question. Do I have faith? Yes, I have 100 percent faith in the fact that what is, IS.

The entirety of reality may be infinite, therefore impossible to define. It makes no sense to assign anything as the last word.

Respectfully submitted,
PF


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:15 am 
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Interesting topic, and quite ok as long as nobody gets all righteous about it. Let's RANT :lol:

I am deeply ambivalent about religion. Up until the age of enlightenment, it has been the main driving force behind western civilization. Without it, there is no way of telling what the world would look like today. Possibly, we would have been many centuries further in technology (not sure whether that is to be lamented or not). But we would also be so much spiritually and culturally poorer. Those who mention the atrocities and idiocies perpetrated in the name of faith have a point, as well as those who mention the many good things that faith and religion have brought, and can still bring, to individuals, society and all humanity. Like so many things, it is a sword that cuts both sides.

I was baptized in the default Dutch Protestant tradition but was never any religious, up until a period where I was deeply in love with a girl who was heavily into it. I did my best to understand and embrace it (naively thinking this could actually work securing a relation) but during a year or so, it gradually wilted and I finally had to admit this was not for me. Although I still retain a fair knowledge and understanding of it, and of course being involved with Bach Chorales and playing church services I have to understand and respect it. My unstinting love for Bach and his music comes as close to religion as I guess I will ever get.

As Pete says, reading the Bible with a modern mind does not cut it. So much of it is evidently primitive and superstitious, fine for the time it was conceived but in no way fit for this age (despite some going through hoops to prove that each and everything has equal relevance for our times). It is impossible for a modern mind to believe the Bible from front to end, just because it "has been written", without sticking one's head in the ground - or looking the other way - most of the time. It amuses me how many people can actually do this, and I am not sure whether to respect or mock it.

On the other hand, paradoxically, the steady decline of western religion (at least here in the Netherlands) worries me. Churches are closing, congregations are dwindling, hardly any new blood comes in. Once we lose this, it will be gone for good. Funny enough, most people will not admit being a-religious, claiming they believe in 'something' even though they do not have the faintest idea what that something may be. To my mind that has little to do with religion, it just proves that most people need something to believe in. The ironic thing about the decline of Christian faith, clearly in the name of progress, is the simultaneous ascent of Islam fundamentalism. Either Islam has something important the Christian religion doesn't, or militant faith is the last hope of the underdog. I suspect it is the latter, as the two religions are not really that much fundamentally different.

Ah well, phew. Better get some work done now :oops:

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:00 am 
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I would describe myself as strongly a-religious but not a-spiritual. My God is the God of Spinoza, so I suppose in that way I am a sort of atheist (I cringe at calling myself that, it seems so irrationally decisive). Now it's a matter of semantics.

If someone asks me, "do you believe in God?" (and I used to get needled constantly, until everyone figured out I'd been thinking it over for 20 years) my answer is, "I don't understand the question."

The Jehovah's Witnesses avoid me, lest they be engaged in a seven hour conversation. :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:10 am 
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PJF wrote:
I would describe myself as strongly a-religious but not a-spiritual. My God is the God of Spinoza, so I suppose in that way I am a sort of atheist (I cringe at calling myself that, it seems so irrationally decisive).

"Atheist" isn't so decisive as it is made out to be. "Anti-theist", on the other hand, is. Atheists allow for the possibility of a god (though usually only the deistic sort of god, since there is evidence against the other), but they require evidence. Atheists for the most part have decided, based on the evidence, that the existence of a god is highly unlikely, but they're not entirely opposed to the idea.

And yes, it's a fine line of semantics, but I hate for anyone to cringe to call themselves what they are. :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:26 am 
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techneut wrote:
I am deeply ambivalent about religion. Up until the age of enlightenment, it has been the main driving force behind western civilization. Without it, there is no way of telling what the world would look like today. Possibly, we would have been many centuries further in technology (not sure whether that is to be lamented or not). But we would also be so much spiritually and culturally poorer. Those who mention the atrocities and idiocies perpetrated in the name of faith have a point, as well as those who mention the many good things that faith and religion have brought, and can still bring, to individuals, society and all humanity. Like so many things, it is a sword that cuts both sides.

I'd have to say that I disagree with that. I'm pretty sure that, if there were no religion, that people like Bach would have surely found their inspiration elsewhere.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:45 am 
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techneut wrote:
On the other hand, paradoxically, the steady decline of western religion (at least here in the Netherlands) worries me. Churches are closing, congregations are dwindling, hardly any new blood comes in. Once we lose this, it will be gone for good.


No they won't. The Muslims flooding your country will just take it over and convert them to mosques. Just look at England. Sad. Very Sad. But that's what you Western Europeans get for having good economies. :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 11:48 am 
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Terez wrote:
"Anti-theist"


Indeed, I almost made that distinction in a previous post. Being anti-anything is not in my nature. I'm exceedingly open-minded about things I don't know, yet immovably stubborn concerning things I KNOW I know. I know the Earth is an oblate spheroid, and I don't know whether string theory has any teeth sunk into reality. God would go in the open-minded category. What annoys me is when someone asserts that they KNOW that they know God exists. That is impossible. When one does that, he/she is being anti-atheist.

Whatever the case may be, we're all on the planet at the same time, so I hope we figure ourselves out before an asteroid decides to hit us. That's my motivation, get the technology to divert a planetesimal so we don't remain a mere drop in the cosmic bucket.

I'm going to sleep, now. :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:06 pm 
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Interesting topic. I'll add my two cents :) (And I hope it's not too difficult to speak in English about it...)

At first, I believe in god. I raised in a Christian family and got educated in a way which lets me decide for my own whether I will do it like my parents or not. But believing that god exists has no real use if there's only the belief in something far away in heaven and no further consequence.
I stick to the bible in my faith. I think, just the bible can be an acceptable base for a "religion". Religion in quotes because this word means a way invented by humans which has the function to save one's soul by cleaning one's stance or something like that. My opinion is: There is no way to get deliverance through human religion models! One has to go back to the bible.
Maybe that sounds very fundamental. In a way, it is. But the expression "fundamentalism" has a bad and daunting touch. I don't mean anything like "It's good to kill people for your god"! It's just, if you want to find to god, then look on what HE himself said. He should know best how to become redeemed :wink:
That requires a big portion of faith. I personally believe, the bible was inspired by god. There is no possibility to prove this statement with scientific methods. But indeed, the bible is the best verified book in the whole world. Also it is the most produced book and was translated in most languages ever. That surely must have a reason!
I heard many people say something like "I only believe what I see. So I don't believe in god." Argh! If you see something, you don't have to believe it, you just know it! You have to search for god. He will come when you really want to have something to do with him.

Quote:
What annoys me is when someone asserts that they KNOW that they know God exists. That is impossible.


It IS possible to know god. Many people do. You cannot provide evidence for god's existence in a scientific way, like it's impossible to rule out his existence. But god can show you in a personal way that he exists. This certainty is individual, and most Christians who live after the will of god do have this sureness. That cannot be imposed on someone. Everyone has to make this experience on his own. And this experience can change lives completely! I know people who were addicted to drugs, were gangsters, depressive and so on and who were turned around by 180 degrees as they met god.

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Just as soon as we reach the boundaries of knowledge, we chalk up events to the supernatural. This is dangerous.


I agree that this sometimes can be dangerous.
What you said reminded me of the topic evolution of life. Contrary to accepted opinion, it is NOT proved that evolution (in a way that explains the momentary complexicity of life) has happened. It is not even plausible! (I am very interested in this topic, so I have a deeper look than most other people here.) When you work really scientific and objective (nearly no one does so :!: ), you will recognise that the evolution model has much more explanation gaps than everyone says. It is only a MODEL! Models can be more or less correct and fitting to the indications. Evolution wants to explain formation of life in an atheistic way. Why? Science should test all possible ways, not only an atheistic. There are scientists who try to work objective on this theme. They usually are religious motivated, but they don't want to kill further research with a sentence like "God created everything. Point." In fact, comments by such persons are rejected with polemic and unscientific answers. Because nobody wants to accept that those people could be right!
So there are indeed problems that can't be explained without god. To bar god from science is not correct. We have to debate about the possibility that god really could have made the world. That is NOT dangerous, believe it or not :)

I just want to make people think more about themes like god and science.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:07 pm 
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PJF wrote:
What annoys me is when someone asserts that they KNOW that they know God exists. That is impossible.

This may well be touching the core of the issue. Way I see it, religion is not at all about knowing, it is about believing. It is quite possible for people to believe something whilst somewhere, it the back of their mind, they know it is not likely to be true. Just shut out the relevant rational part of your brain and you can believe anything. A good trick if you can do it.

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 Post subject: Insomniac ramblings
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:24 pm 
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Here are a couple of very personal entries in my “Insomnia Journal.” Read them if you dare. They are mere ramblings of an insomniac who has had near death experiences. They are somewhat on the topic of religion or spirituality or lack thereof. I hope it's not too "over the top" for the forum.

August 26, 2007, 4:43 AM

Interminable is the word for this morning…or is it night? It’s very dark outside and Inside. Darkness prevails in my life. I just went through a seemingly interminable period in bed of re-living my interminable recovery process. It was laced with HELL. I was a prisoner in my body. That has always been my worst fear. What’s the name of that Poe short story about being buried alive? Was it “The Pit and the Pendulum”? It terrified me when I was a child. That’s why the idea of being buried in a closed casket is horrifying to me even though I realize that I wouldn’t be aware of it. My experience in the Intensive Care Unit was almost identical to being buried alive.

“Not aware of it!” I remember the two months in intensive care when people thought I wasn’t aware of many things. I remember that I was aware of my scrotum being as big as a watermelon…and extremely painful…”Nurses….please, please, please! Don’t turn me over…you don’t have to change the sheets…It hurts too much…just leave me alone…Oh! God! It hurts when you pull on me!” Of course, they can’t hear my screams because I can’t make any noise. The tubes or lines or shunts or whatever they’re called….and most of all, my scrotum…I’ve never told or asked anyone about my scrotum. Was it as large as I believe it was? I vaguely remember the humiliation of one nurse showing my scrotum to another who sounded amazed at what she saw…They thought I was unconscious, but I can remember…And then there was the feeling of confinement. What did they call it? Oh, yeah. I was being “restrained” to protect myself from myself. I call it being tied down so you can't move at all. Can’t move; can’t talk. Am I really alive? Of course, I only remembered that because I was “getting better.” The truth is that I was “better” when I was totally unconscious. Being conscious of the “situation” was pure hell…

Sept. 17, 2:47 AM

Why do I notice myself saying things like “Oh, God” or “Please help me sleep” and other such appeals to some Source? I have no beliefs in the supernatural. I label myself agnostic leaning towards atheism. The only reason I’m not an atheist is because I have no proof one way or another about the existence of supernatural beings. However, I definitely don’t believe in a personal god. I’ve lived sixty-five years now and see no evidence of a personal god. I’ve seen very good people suffer. I’ve observed many people pray and plead for intervention of a personal deity. I don’t know of even one experience in my sixty-five years in which there has been the intervention of a superior being to change things. It seems most humans are always ready to thank a god when something good happens and make excuses for that same god when something bad happens. It seems more logical to me that if you’re going to thank a god for all of the “blessings,” you should also be ready to blame that god for tragedies. Either that god IS in control of everything or it isn’t. To believe otherwise is not logical.

I find it bewildering when someone says something like “God was with him” or “Thank God that he’s still alive” when something horrific happens to someone. I mean like when a child is seriously injured in an accident and people act as though God was with the child because he only lost one arm. Or when someone says a god was with a soldier because the soldier is alive and only has to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. That just doesn’t make any sense to me. How many times have I witnessed people suffer and die while loved ones are praying that s/he lives or doesn’t suffer? I have never witnessed prayer affect happenings beyond our control any more than hope. To me, hope and prayer have the same results. It would be wonderful if prayer changed things the way we wish or “pray” that it would. Or maybe it wouldn’t? duh-da-da-da-duh (Tune from “The Twilight Zone”)

If there were a benevolent omniscient and omnipotent supernatural being, there would be no need for prayer. The very belief in omniscience and omnipotence in a benevolent being precludes any justification for human prayer. The “greater good” would always occur without human intervention. Of course, I can hear some religious people saying things like “God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.” That’s just a cop out when there is no explanation for things. Just like it’s a cop out for people to create religion to explain what they don’t understand. Why can’t we just say we don’t know the answers? Do we even know the question? Perhaps it’s more important to know the questions.

When I looked at what happened to me with the liver transplant, it confirms my philosophy. I had many friends and relatives praying that my surgery would be a success. I’ve even had people tell me how “God” was good to me and saved my life. I can’t buy that. I can’t believe that any god was good to me by causing me to endure the pain and suffering that I did. I flat lined twice, but unfortunately there were no brightly lit tunnels to heaven. Others might even say that God was trying to teach me a lesson or punishing me because I don’t/can’t believe in religion. That seems logical to some people “of faith.” I entered that serious surgery without apprehension. I was happy to receive a life-saving organ. Now as I look back on the experience, if religious people were right, a loving “god” would have let me die without the suffering and taken me to my “eternal reward.” To me the fact that I had to endure what I had to endure further confirms my beliefs or I should say lack thereof in a personal god. No loving god could subject an innocent being to such torture.

I’m sincere in my philosophy of life. I’ve sincerely attempted to be the best person I can be and I continue to do so. But the continued belief in anything which I find no evidence of eludes me. Does that make me an immoral person? Unfortunately, many people believe so.

If there is that benevolent being, I, nor anyone else, have any worries. Things will turn out as they should. I believe things will be as they are supposed to be. Excuse my redundancy---it was for emphasis. We just have to make the best of what we have to work with. Believe it or not, that’s what I do.

In the infinity of time and space does it really matter anyway? We individuals are humorous in our little assumptions that we actually matter. What is the real significance of my existence? In the overall view of infinite time and space my existence is of no significance. .

I believe that teaching those horrific ideas of eternal hellfire to children borders on child abuse. Of course, the fundamentalists are horrified that there are more and more people like me every day who can’t accept their ideas. The core Christian beliefs are definitely just as primitive and superstitious as the core religious beliefs of the ancient Greeks with their Olympian Gods, the Hindus and their thousands of gods, the ancient Egyptians, today’s Muslims, the Orthodox Jews and their belief in the Old Testament, and the thousands and thousands of other religious beliefs of people around the world. One thing they usually have in common is the proven correlation between strong religious beliefs and illiteracy or a lack of education. The poor and illiterate have an increased tendency to be more religious and believe in more miracles while the more intelligent and educated are less likely to be very religious. Of course, there are exceptions to this hypothesis, but it has been proven to be true in numerous studies. It doesn’t even require scientific studies to illustrate this fact. A mere observation of people as one traverses his life solidifies this theory.

Enough of that stuff, John. I guess it’s the teacher in you that craves for society to comprehend that the religious theories they were indoctrinated with since childhood are fundamentally flawed. I hope it’s not smug superiority that causes me to feel this way. I hope it’s the injustices perpetrated by zealous members of religious groups that cause me to realize the absurdity of ingrained religious beliefs.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 12:54 am 
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Wow so many anti-theists / atheists. If that's what you confirm yourself to be, then so be it.

Life and mere existence are too perfect to be a coincedence. For me rational thought that evolution beginning from simple proteins coming together to complex organisms like us, is just silly to consider. The chances of that happening are unreal.

Furthermore it is impossible to go infinitely backwards in time. Since all matter is moved from prior matter (that is, the result is an effect of a cause and so on), there has to be an Originator--the original Mover--God.

We humans are the only advanced creatures on this planet and perhaps one of the youngest according to science (and in fact Biblical thought). Given the theory of evolution, the creatures which have the longest time to adapt and adapt well are the ones which will carry on their species. Man has not had as long as a time to adapt but has adapted extremely well (too well which is causing a great stress on the planet). This is a result of our huge brains, as rational thought would conclude, but again the chances of a young animal having a large advantage over all living things is too great to say that it was a coincedence.

Sure I question what is after death and what was before life. But do I turn my back to my faith? No. It is called faith for a reason. And for those who expect God to hold their hands like a parent does to a child, I say that you are a selfish person. Always at the receiving end. Life is cruel, humans are sinful, greedy, and outright immoral. But there are some of us who act in goodness of heart to help our fellow humans as much as safety permits. Don't expect that God will "come down in a fiery chariot and hand deliver help" because if you expect it but it does not happen you will loose your faith. There is a passage from the Holy Bible that reads: "For thou art the temple of the Spirit, the dwelling house of the Lord, God of Israel" (or something on the lines, forgot exactly where in the Bible). We can take that and apply it with the saying that "God works in mysterious ways", in short don't look for the skies to part like something out of Greek Mythology and for God to interact with humans on that level. No! The Holy Spirit works between humans and within humans.

Science answers nothing, it can give us facts and numbers but will never answer the question "Why?".

You might not believe the ceremonies of religion--they are after all a creation of man--but to deny the existence of God merely on basis that He does not spoon feed you is outrageous and frankly humorus. Many people loose faith because God shows "too little" to believe in. But I beg to differ, we loose faith because we are unwilling to "open our eyes".


These are my beliefs. I was born into a Roman Catholic family, I am R.C, and will always be.

-jg

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 11:25 am 
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Wow! Some deep thinkers, here.

I'm Methodist. I go to church for the hymns. :lol: (kidding - sort of).

When my grandma and another family member were still around, we all sat together in a church pew and liked to sing all the hymns as loud as we could. The congregation was used to it, because my dad used to be the church music director, and he sang solos in church often. Anyway, I loved singing with my family. We even did a couple gig's together, calling ourselves the Hart Family Singers. One time at a the town festival, we sang on a little gazebo-type stage and during a song something made me laugh and I couldn't stop. You know when you are trying so hard not to laugh, but your shoulders are shaking up and down? You should have seen the evil looks my mom was giving me!

Back at church - My mom took the soprano, my sister alto, I did second soprano, my dad tenor, and my brother bass. And grandma was the loudest alto ever! If she was late to church and there wasn't room for her to sit with us in the pew, we could always find her at hymn time. Plus, she was always a beat ahead of everybody else. :lol:

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 3:47 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Wow! Some deep thinkers, here.

I'm Methodist. I go to church for the hymns. :lol: (kidding - sort of).

When my grandma and another family member were still around, we all sat together in a church pew and liked to sing all the hymns as loud as we could. The congregation was used to it, because my dad used to be the church music director, and he sang solos in church often. Anyway, I loved singing with my family. We even did a couple gig's together, calling ourselves the Hart Family Singers. One time at a the town festival, we sang on a little gazebo-type stage and during a song something made me laugh and I couldn't stop. You know when you are trying so hard not to laugh, but your shoulders are shaking up and down? You should have seen the evil looks my mom was giving me!

Back at church - My mom took the soprano, my sister alto, I did second soprano, my dad tenor, and my brother bass. And grandma was the loudest alto ever! If she was late to church and there wasn't room for her to sit with us in the pew, we could always find her at hymn time. Plus, she was always a beat ahead of everybody else. :lol:


I'm glad you said that. Isn't music wonderful?! It knows no creed. I think, no, I KNOW (haha) that is why I love it so.

That's a funny scene...loud grandma. This one time (at band camp) I mean...in piano performance class, a colleague was playing a Beethoven Sonata when she played a wrong chord, not just a subtle note error, she very distinctly played an augmented chord with a minor 9, loudly. This was so unexpected, because it was going so well, I cracked. I let out one of those goofy, guffaw-snort laughs and it just went downhill from there. But I digress!

. . .

I'm always interested in others' thoughts on most any subject, especially those about the BIG questions. I feel science has no conflict with religion, Richard Dawkins (a perfectly respectable scientist) would disagree. But I'm not Dawkins and find his vehemence a bit excessive; I believe religion and science are simply two different descriptions of the same thing. As we go along, I sincerely hope the yawning chasm between the two will narrow, through science's acknowledgment of religion and vice versa.

. . .

Humanity is evolving culturally a million times faster than it is biologically; that fact puts us in a terrible predicament. Biologically, changes occur so slowly as to be unnoticed; any poor branches on the genetic tree are quickly pruned by natural selection (think "continental drift"). With culture, however, the system of checks and balances is outstripped by it's rate of change (think "nuclear fission"). Some very risky, even dubious social experiments are running pretty much unchecked (nuclear tech., internet, politics, talk radio, TV, self-tanner, cutting edge of science included). Societal cancers are rampantly metastasizing. Of course, science and religion are each partly to blame, science for inventing the means of self destruction and religion for maintaining militant fundamentalism which encourages self-destruction via blind faith.
Don't get me wrong, not all faiths are equal! I don't recall the last time the Carmelites (an order of Catholic nuns) blew up a bus or decided to crash some planes. To quote the great thinker Rodney King, "can't we all just get along?"

Maybe we're not ready as a species to accept the responsibility that comes with knowledge of the empirical sort. For our sake, I hope we are.

Oh my, did I rant again? :lol:

Pete


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PJF wrote:
Oh my, did I rant again? :lol:

Yes :)
But your rants are always entertaining and thought-provoking, so keep doing it.

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A creepy line for Halloween:

Life itself is only a vision, a dream. Nothing exists, save empty space and you...and you are but a thought.

It's scaaary you guys!


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I couldn't resist. This was emailed me today. :lol: :lol:

>Two men crashed in their private plane on a South Pacific Island.
>Both survived. One of the men brushed himself off and then proceeded
>to run all over the island to see if they had any chance of
>survival. When he returned, he rushed up to the other man and
>screamed, "This island is uninhabited, there is no food, there's no
>water. We are going to die!"
>
>The other man leaned back against the fuselage of the wrecked plane,
>folded his arms and responded, "No we're not. I make over $250,000 a
>week."
>
>The first man grabbed his friend and shook him. Listen, we are on an
>uninhabited island. There is no food, no water. We are going to
>die!"
>
>The other man, unruffled, again responded "No, I make over $250,000
>a week."
>
>Mystified, the first man, taken aback with such an answer again
>repeated, "For the last time, I'm telling you we ARE doomed. There
>is NO one else on this island. There is NO food. There is NO water.
>We are, I repeat, we are going to die a slow death!"
>
>Still unfazed, the first man looked the other in the eyes and said,
>do not make me say this again. I make over $250,000 per week.I am a
>Baptist and, I tithe. MY PASTOR WILL FIND US!"
>
>

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"You see, my piano is for me what his ship is to a sailor; more indeed: it is my very self, my mother tongue, my life." - Franz Liszt


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That's a good one! :lol:


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[quote="techneut"][quote="PJF"]ote]


Last edited by rsmullyan on Fri Nov 30, 2007 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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I love the following true incident:The philosopher and psychologist William James once asked a little boy if he knew what faith is. The boy replied:
"Yeah. Faith means believing something you know ain't true."

Raymond


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Just a point to ponder:

Every single atom in our bodies helium on up was born in the center of a star. Elements heavier than iron were made in supernovae.

Are we mere stardust, or is there something else?


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I believe that we have the potential to make ourselves more than stardust, and that we do so on different levels every day, with things like....playing piano! I don't believe that much good comes of assuming that we already are more than what we are made of, granted by a higher power, but only after death.

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Well, that explains why people call me 'spacey'. :lol: My sons like to call me a 'space-cadet'.

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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Terez wrote:
I believe that we have the potential to make ourselves more than stardust, and that we do so on different levels every day, with things like....playing piano! I don't believe that much good comes of assuming that we already are more than what we are made of, granted by a higher power, but only after death.


I believe it is our duty to try to amount to more than the sum of our parts. Ironically, some choose to focus solely on an afterlife, while completely neglecting the stupidly obvious moral demands of this life.

Eye on the ball, people! :x

Pete


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I hope I don't sound too pessimistic right now, but here it goes:

I really want to have a strong faith in God. Really!!! I was raised a roman catholic, and recently confirmed a roman catholic.

However, my more intellectual side tells me this:

God is merely a fictitious coping device, used to help us overcome our fears of mortality. If we were immortal, I highly doubt there would be any God in the equation. Sadly, I believe that God is a human creation, and religion a mere blindfold that tries to blind us from the truth.

However, I REALLY don't want to believe this. I really want to believe the Catholic faith...

It's just difficult. :cry:

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"This is death! This is death as this emanation of the female which leads to unification ... death and love ... this is the abyss." This is not music", said [Sabaneev] to him, "this is something else..." - "This is the Mysterium," he said softly.


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I too desperately wish there is a God. Wouldn't it be wondrous?!

Pete


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Yes it would be!!!

I actually begin to feel naseous when I think of what death must be.

Just absolute nothingness... I can't even begin to comprehend it.

And it scares me. :cry:

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"This is death! This is death as this emanation of the female which leads to unification ... death and love ... this is the abyss." This is not music", said [Sabaneev] to him, "this is something else..." - "This is the Mysterium," he said softly.


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demonic_advent wrote:
Yes it would be!!!

I actually begin to feel naseous when I think of what death must be.

Just absolute nothingness... I can't even begin to comprehend it.

And it scares me. :cry:


Don't let it scare you, for it is inevitable! Consider the following:

If there is no God, you will simply return to the state you were in before you were born, (13 billion years passed in an instant because you weren't there to watch the clock. Eternity will pass instantly after you are gone.)

If there is a God, it will be of great value to have an honest rapport with Him. Beg to transcend the constraints of human limits. If He is there, He will love you.

Either way, BE GOOD! That is the point. Don't sin, do good for your fellow human. Be humble in your humanity.

Father Corapi:
This is a wonderful man, even my semi-atheistic self is always moved by his powerful messages. He transcends mere religion to approach the ultimate truth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTHmn13v7Ts

Pete


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But I don't like the idea of eternity passing in the blink of an eye.

I'm sorry to say I like life.

But trust me, I would never use my doubts as an opportunity for sin.

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"This is death! This is death as this emanation of the female which leads to unification ... death and love ... this is the abyss." This is not music", said [Sabaneev] to him, "this is something else..." - "This is the Mysterium," he said softly.


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Demonic Advent.

A s I once said to a teenage relative of mine:" Why should I worry about my dying? It's not going to happen in my lifetime! " Assuming there is no afterlife (an unsubstantiated assumptlon, by the way) your death is nothing that will happen to you; your death is something which will be an event to others!

Raymond


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I suppose so... but the nothingness that may follow is just a frightening prospect to me.

Also... whilst having no afterlife may be unsubstanstiated, I would think that there being an afterlife is also an unsubstanstiated claim.

Nobody's gone there and come back to tell us what its like.

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"This is death! This is death as this emanation of the female which leads to unification ... death and love ... this is the abyss." This is not music", said [Sabaneev] to him, "this is something else..." - "This is the Mysterium," he said softly.


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Dear Advent.

I totally agree that from a purely scientific point of view, there is not the slightest bit of evidence either for or against the existence of an afterlife.

As for your fear of nothingness, you seem to totally forget that you won't be aware of the nothingness!

Raymond


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True... but I am aware now... and the present is scary enough without having to worry about the future.

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"This is death! This is death as this emanation of the female which leads to unification ... death and love ... this is the abyss." This is not music", said [Sabaneev] to him, "this is something else..." - "This is the Mysterium," he said softly.


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DA....this man is 88 years old or something and he's not scared! Follow his example. ;)

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Easier said than done.

Unfortunatly... I'm just afraid of a lot of things... and it's not always easy to conquer fear.

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"This is death! This is death as this emanation of the female which leads to unification ... death and love ... this is the abyss." This is not music", said [Sabaneev] to him, "this is something else..." - "This is the Mysterium," he said softly.


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Dear Charlie

I can well understand your fear of death, my only point is that it is not realistic-- it is somewhat like a child's fear of the bogey man. The fear, of course is real; the bogey man is not. Despite the irrationality of the fear of death, it is quite natural, and probably has survival value. And so I suggest that instead of trying to get rid of your fear, you simply embrace it and have a good laugh over it!


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Hmmm... well I suppose we should just leave it at that.

No point in my depressing everybody who comes to this forum...

Back to a happy matter:

So how about that Rachmainoff? Is he something or what? :D

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"This is death! This is death as this emanation of the female which leads to unification ... death and love ... this is the abyss." This is not music", said [Sabaneev] to him, "this is something else..." - "This is the Mysterium," he said softly.


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I too have this depressing feeling overcome me when I think about death, because I personally feel that there is nothing after it. It's so... weird (shudders).

As for religion itself, I probably am not mature enough to say I'm an atheist, but I do not believe in any form of a god. For some reason I still consider myself Jewish like the rest of my family, but I don't really believe in the spiritual aspect of it, more of the ideas like "do not steal," "be kind to those around you," and that sort of thing. I have to admit, though, having holidays - whether I celebrate them or not - always makes me kind of happy. For example, even though I don't celebrate it, I always get a great, warm, loving feeling when Christmas comes. I also am guilty of often using phrases like "Oh my God" even though I don't believe in any god, so don't get mad at that or anything.

I believe that the processes of science are strictly responsible for the creation of the universe (e.g. the Big Bang), and that humans have come about naturally. I find it kind of disapointing that people don't take credit for their achievements in life or how beneficial some situations turn out, instead giving credit to (in my belief) a nonexistent omniscient being. I feel that all of the progress on Earth has been made by the creatures on it. Knowing a little bit about quantum mechanics and the seemingly unrelated existentialism, I do not believe in destiny and feel that some things happen for no reason because nothing in life is completely predictable.

Religion seems to be the root cause of many problems in the world, and I'm sure many of you would agree. Obviously many wars have been fought over religion, but it's caused much of the high need for political correctness these days. Now Muslim extremists are killing hundreds of people in the name of their god, and I believe this shows how corrupt the entire institution and idea of religion has become. Why are we all fighting and arguing over something there is no proof for, when science explains and prooves many things more than adequately?

Now, it seems like President Bush has ushered in a reign of right wing religious zealots who force their religion (which is, and I hope this doesn't offend anyone, mostly Christianity) upon America. I know some of you might respond, "If you don't believe in it, don't listen," but religion should be a private matter. People like Ann Coulter disgust me (Google her or search her on YouTube to see some of the idiotic things she has said, like that Jews need to be perfected to be as great as Christians). For any Americans reading this, I find it atrocious that Mitt Romney is only being judged on his belief in Mormonism, and that religion has to be one of the first things people look at when considering a presidential candidate. My ideal president would be an atheist, and would therefore not have any prejudices or biases concerning things like gay rights and abortion rights, which are being influenced largely based on a country's predominant religion. I know that here in America it could be a while before the aforementioned rights will become actual rights because they are against the Christian faith, which pretty much rules this country. It goes so much against the laws set down by American founders that religion and politics should not mix. It is such a shame that many decisions have to be made by people around the world not based on what they personally feel, but what a Bible, Torah, Qu'ran, priest, rabbi, imam, etc. tells them. It's as if religion is a way of controlling what everyone feels and believes.

Religion may have had good intentions thousands of years ago, but those purposes have since been corrupted and misused many times over. I can understand how ancient peoples needed a way to explain the world around them, but in this day and age of science, it seems kind of pointless obsolete. It seems highly probable that the world would be more peaceful and unified (not like totalitarian communist kind of unified) if people could finally let go of these beliefs that are unfortunately displayed too much and even more unfortunately shape who they are.

Well, sorry that that was so long. I hope at least one of you managed to make it this far without being bored to tears. I am truly sorry if I have offended anyone - please tell me if I have. I'm also sorry if I was focusing on the United States too much, but that's where I live and therefore have the most opinion about it.

I want to know what you think of this 15 year old high schooler's opinion.


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I agree completely.

So... How bout that Rachmaninoff? Anyone? :D

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"This is death! This is death as this emanation of the female which leads to unification ... death and love ... this is the abyss." This is not music", said [Sabaneev] to him, "this is something else..." - "This is the Mysterium," he said softly.


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chopinman0901 wrote:
I'm also sorry if I was focusing on the United States too much, but that's where I live and therefore have the most opinion about it.

One thing that I've noticed over the good few years I've been frequenting international English-speaking websites - a good many people all over the world are quite concerned with our politics and the general mass-mindset of our citizens. And probably with good reason...

Quote:
I want to know what you think of this 15 year old high schooler's opinion.

I think you're pretty mature on this subject, and you seem to be pretty even-minded about it. There's quite a bit of atheism-outing going on in our country right now, and I think it's a good sign. Not because we're out to eradicate religion or anything - but just because atheism has been such a taboo for so long. By a long step, the highest-ranking non-theist in our government is a lone Congressman out of several hundred. I think that is clearly not so much that all of them are theists in practice, but that they all know it could easily cost them their position if their true thoughts on the subject were known, not because of any official "religious test" in our Constitution, but because the vote itself for so many is a religious test.

Religious tolerance to a high degree is required, nearly anywhere you go, simply because there are so many religions and denominations within religions that it is truly impossible to get everyone to agree on any one religion. That is precisely the problem that brought about our founders' dedication to separating church and state. A man might feel like it is his duty to god and to his fellow man to make an official church, but he realizes that this will open up the path for another religion to seize control and force him to practice a religion he does not agree with.

In the US, Christianity is undeniably predominant. Something close to 90% of all Americans, depending on which study you peruse, claim belief in some god or another. Over 80% claim Christianity. Probably quite a few less than that go to church regularly. The solid fundamentalists make up about 30% of our voters, and something around another 20% are at least in part influenced by Christian fundamentalist ideas.

This is something that will change - not quickly, but gradually, as it becomes more socially acceptable to profess atheism.

demonic_advent wrote:
So... How bout that Rachmaninoff? Anyone?

Weren't we talking about that on another thread? :p

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:41 pm 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
chopinman0901 wrote:
Religion seems to be the root cause of many problems in the world, and I'm sure many of you would agree.



False. The problems are rooted in power not religion. No religion is centered on brutality and war. Religion is used to justifiy going to war. Furthermore, those who say that their religion urges them to fight, are misinterpreting the words. Take for example Islamic extremists, they skew their own religion and any Muslim around the world would tell you that their religion is a peaceful one.

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I believe that humans cannot grasp the power of religion, and sometimes use it as an excuse to perform evil deeds. (Ex. Crusades, Jihad, Holocaust, etc.)

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"This is death! This is death as this emanation of the female which leads to unification ... death and love ... this is the abyss." This is not music", said [Sabaneev] to him, "this is something else..." - "This is the Mysterium," he said softly.


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What I'm saying is that if there was no religion, there would be no power or influence to abuse based on faith.


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:roll:


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HAHA! That's a keeper.


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If you missed very fist post:

First, I have to say that I pass no personal judgment on any single person's belief system nor do I ever make any attempt to convert anyone to mine.

I was born of Roman Catholic parents and raised in the traditions of the Church. Up until age seven, I took the teachings as sacrosanct. Then, one day, an epiphany occurred. Having just finished reading the bible cover to cover, I could see the unreconciled differences between The Book and reality. I couldn't help feeling I'd been taken for a fool. Of course, I immediately squelched these horrid ideas my sinful little mind had cooked up against an infallible, a perfect religion which, as I had been informed, was Catholicism. I eventually came to the realization that every faith ever practiced in the history of humanity has caused a cessation of intellect; if one book has all the answers and is unquestionable, then what incentive is there to think about anything else? I deeply hold the belief that any embrace of immutable dogma is a grave sin.

I believe faith is a function of the limits of the human psyche. It never fails; if we understand an idea, we take it as common sense, never invoking faith of any kind; we don't believe in a rain-god, because we understand the water-cycle; our astrophysicists understand a branch of calculus known as perturbation theory, therefore we don't need a god to explain the otherwise miraculous stability of the planets' orbits around our sun. Isaac Newton did not understand perturbation theory (it had yet to be discovered); because of that lack in his knowledge (which was vast but limited, to be sure), he could not mathematically explain the regularity and stability of our solar-system. According to his calculations, the orbits should be unstable, causing the planets and moons to fly away along random paths. In his Principia he concluded that this could only be due to an omnipotent force:

"The six primary Planets are revolv'd about the Sun, in circles concentric with the Sun, and with motions directed towards the same parts, and almost in the same plane....But it is not to be conceived that mere mechanical causes could give birth to so many regular motions.
...This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."


Just as soon as we reach the boundaries of knowledge, we chalk up events to the supernatural. This is dangerous. We humans don't handle superstition very well, we get afraid, we worry about others' views of it, we kill and die over it. From A.D. 800-1100, Baghdad was the science capital of the world (Arabic numbers and algebra are products of this intellectually fertile period). Then Imam Hamid al-Ghazali (A.D. 1058-1111) whose philosophy basically said math is the work of the devil enters the equation. He forbade any thinking beyond the Koran, thereby undoing any intellectual progress and ushering in an age of violent fundamentalism that continues to this day. The Catholic teachings against contraception have had a profoundly negative impact in some parts of Africa, where use of condoms is considered sinful, but overpopulation and high AIDS rates are somehow taken for granted. Religion often tells us what is right, even if we know better.

. . .

I base my belief system on one premise: as an integral (albeit infinitesimal) part of reality, the ultimate job of being human is to humbly respect what actually is, regardless of what our terribly limited minds may want to think. Existence exists. I don't think anyone can disagree on that point. Since existence exists (in whatever form it does) we are compelled toward honest acknowledgment, whether we understand it or not.

So, do I belong to a sect? No. Am I an atheist, a deist, a pantheist? No, no, no. Am I undecided? No. Do I believe in the existence of God? That is an unanswerable question. Do I have faith? Yes, I have 100 percent faith in the fact that what is, IS.

The entirety of reality may be infinite, therefore impossible to define. It makes no sense to assign anything as the last word.

Respectfully submitted,
PF


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 8:51 pm 
The point is: how do you know what IS? I think you can't know anything for sure. The only way to get information is to use your eyes, ears etc. And sometimes people 'see'/'hear' things they cannot see/hear, things that don't really 'exist'. So how can you know what IS?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 10:41 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2007 8:59 am
Posts: 39
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The point is: how do you know what IS? I think you can't know anything for sure. The only way to get information is to use your eyes, ears etc. And sometimes people 'see'/'hear' things they cannot see/hear, things that don't really 'exist'. So how can you know what IS?


Looks like someone's been reading Plato? We can never know what IS and what ISN'T. Our minds can often be deceived so that we see or hear things that aren't there. All we can do is to assume that if several people have seen/heard something in the exact same way at the same moment, it IS.

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False. The problems are rooted in power not religion. No religion is centered on brutality and war. Religion is used to justifiy going to war.


Religion IS power. Take a look at the pope; He doesn't want people to use condoms, and people listen to him because he's the pope. Then look at what's happening in Africa ( HIV all over the place ). This may not really be a war, but Christianity is certanly screwing people over.

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Take for example Islamic extremists, they skew their own religion and any Muslim around the world would tell you that their religion is a peaceful one.


Well, I haven't read the Koran myself, so feel free to disregard this next bit, but people often say that the Koran has some really nasty bits in it. I've heard that it litterly states that anyone who does not believe in Allah should me killed on sight. Women are also often treated as garbage because the Koran says that men are superior to women. Again, I haven't read the Koran myself, so this may not be true at all, but still... there must be a reason why the Islam has such a bad reputation.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 3:35 pm 
Adam wrote:
Quote:
The point is: how do you know what IS? I think you can't know anything for sure. The only way to get information is to use your eyes, ears etc. And sometimes people 'see'/'hear' things they cannot see/hear, things that don't really 'exist'. So how can you know what IS?


Looks like someone's been reading Plato? We can never know what IS and what ISN'T. Our minds can often be deceived so that we see or hear things that aren't there. All we can do is to assume that if several people have seen/heard something in the exact same way at the same moment, it IS.


And Zeno too.


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