Atheism , Agnosticism and Theism

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Axcess, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. Axcess

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    Are you atheist agnostic or follower of any religion ? and what are the personal reasons for your position.? I begin as Catholic the first 18 years of my life , My mother was a very devout Catholic and she was very sick all her life . I always wonder since my childhood : Why she suffer so much ? When I was 21 , I start a personal search studing all religions and philosophies and I became agnostic . Buddhism is the only religion that make fair sense to me but I'm not a buddhist. Atleast not yet . I prefer to base my life in facts not in speculations , that's the reason of why I don't follow any religion .

    Please discuss the personal reasons of your position .
     
    #1 Axcess, Aug 24, 2008
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2008
  2. bigandcut

    bigandcut Member

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    I now consider myself an athiest - its very difficult for me to beleive there is a "supreme" being floating around the world. I was raised Christian and quickly realized that the ministers were earning monies by scaring the living shit out of their congregations.

    To me, it is impossible to truly believe a "GOD" exists...although I studied mupltiple religious beliefs in college - they all basically are the same - one almight being. Prove there was an ark, prove there was jesus and I may change, but its very doubtful.
     
  3. Xcuze

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    I believe that we are each our own Gods & we can find all the answers within our own minds. Its called mind over matter. People who look up to the sky for some almighty power are looking in the wrong place. But whatever helps you get through the day....
     
  4. JustAsking

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    Acxess,
    I am starting a new form of Christian religion. It is a work in progress, but so far the theology goes something like this:

    God himself is mostly unknowable even through reading the Bible. The only thing we can know about God is that which was revealed to us through Jesus.

    There is very little difference between the best mankind and the worst of mankind. Man at his best is still imperfect, often self-seeking, and struggles within his limitations. It is wrong to believe in the perfectability of man, because it leads to a kind of arrogant certainty that one person is superior to another. Like the ordinary church going folk in Nazi Germany the very best of us are still capable of cowardess or even evil under the right conditions of too much certainty about what is right and wrong.

    More important than one's own quest for any kind of personal perfection in trying to please God is the fact that much of life around the world is subject to great amounts of misery and suffering. Any loving God would have to place that at a far higher priority than demanding individual personal perfection from people.

    Therefore, a God who defines sin based on obligation and personal behavior is not a loving God. A loving God would understand the limitation of man and be much more concerned about how we contribute to the alleviation of misery and suffering, than our focusing on our own individual perfection. Sin, therefore would be a measure of how much we contribute to misery and suffering of life on the planet, and how much we don't participate in alleviating it.

    Knowing all of this, a loving and all-knowing God would base all of his judgement and all of his concern on imbuing us with the same kind of love of the world and of life that he has. He would know that fear, punishment, obligation and religious law of any kind would be a poor motivator for the kind of response he would want us to have to misery and suffering. He would know that the only effective response to misery and suffering would be love and compassion, regardless of the personal sacrifice and emotional cost it would have.

    As such, he would deem any of our behavior towards misery and suffering not as an obligation, but he would want us to see it as the necessary demands of love. And the most effective way to do that is to first forgive all of us for our limitations and our frailties and then he would want us to know that his love and forgiveness for us was unconditional. That there is nothing we could do to make him love us more, and nothing we could do to make him love us less. He would define "faith" as a kind of 'trust' in his promise of that love and forgiveness.

    Being freed from obligation, and equipped with the knowledge of God's love, we would have nothing else to do but be loving and compassionate ourselves and seek to address misery and suffering in the world.

    Knowing human frailty like he does, he would know that we could not possibly sustain the belief in that love very often or for very long. So he would have to create an event in history so monumental that it would stand for thousands of years as a vivid and undeniable proof of that love. Something like emptying himself of all Godliness, taking on human form, and breaking into history to live a life subject to all the brokenness of the world and of humanity, ultimately submitting to it unto death.

    This would be an unequivocal demonstration that God's love for the world superseded all other concerns. And would inform us that we are loved by a God who understands from personal experience what misery, suffering, mortality, and death is like, firsthand.

    Then he would ask us to gather together in communities of people who would want to trust in that promise and bolster each other's faith in it through various means together. Our church services would not thought of as a kind of ritual fealty sacrifice to a God, but more as a means for us to reinforce each other's trust in that God's promise.

    Knowing of God's unconditional love would be the thing that affects the behavior of the adherents to my religion, not any kind of religious law regarding behavior or morality. A believer with this kind of love and compassion in his heart would not have to consult the ten commandments or any other kind of edict to figure out what the demands of love expected of him.

    One of the signs of a true believer of my religion would be a surprising lack of certainty about morality and behavior. He would look at something like homosexuality, for example, and he would have a lot of difficulty being certain about his position on its morality. In fact, any thoughts of judgement about homosexuality would be banished by his more important priorities driven by love and compassion. The question would be pushed aside as the demands of his compassion would cause him to respond to our culture's marginalization of homosexuality or anything else that causes suffering by asking, "How can I help?".

    A believer in my religion would have only one certainty, and that would be the certainty of God's unconditional love. With this single certainty, his only response to the condition of the world would be to channel that love into the world, and his only response to people around him would be to want everyone to know the good news of that love.

    Any takers?
     
  5. Axcess

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    Actually this new Christianity sounds more familiar to the original Jesus teachings than the current mainstream ones . To me the most important question about the human condition misery and suffering is WHY ? The closest religion that seems to answer that question is buddhism but buddhism like all religions got a problem . That answer to be valid depends in the karma and rebirth doctrine . The whole religion falls apart if those aren't true . The main question from theist perspective would be why loving perfect god allow so many suffering , unfairness and misery on the world ? Christianity can't answer it . Islam can't answer it and Judaism can't either and other deist religions .

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about your new christian religion . I would be part of it in a second if anyone can answer me that why . Actually life to me doesn't make sense at all . Your always has being a christian ? or some experience in your life turn you this religion ? The reason that I wrote this thread is that all people have positions in this matter and in many cases life experiences are the ones that shape our views . It would be very interesting to learn the personal reasons of people of their positions .
     
    #5 Axcess, Aug 24, 2008
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2008
  6. JustAsking

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    I would be glad to answer that question, but let's see who signs up for my religion, first.
     
  7. George_bare

    George_bare New Member

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    I am a secular Humanist
     
  8. Drifterwood

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    :biggrin1:

    I am trying see and understand myself and the universe around me outside the constraints of terms relative to other's opinions and dogmas.
     
  9. Principessa

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    My mom was raised AME - which is African Methodist Episopal. My dad was raised Baptist. When they married 45 years ago his family coerced her into converting; so she got dunked.

    About a month later a new church opened up in the neighborhood. The order of worship was almost exactly like the AME services with which she had grown up. My dad liked the fact that the services were brief (60 min). In the summer they could go to church, dad could mow the lawn and they could still make it to the beach before noon. :biggrin1:

    My moms first husband was Catholic and she was almost through the process of converting when he died. I like to the she came to her senses and never finished the process. :rolleyes: However there were a few aspects of Catholicism which she liked and kept. Consequently though I am a United Methodist born and bred, there are bits of Catholic dogma sprinkled here and there in my belief system.

    Honestly, it never ocurred to me to question my faith until a serious boyfriend told me I would have to convert to Catholic, for the sake of our children. :yikes: I was 19 at the time and all I could think was, "Why?!? You hate being Catholic and never go to church."

    Fast forward 6 years and yet another nice Catholic boy is insisting I convert. :12: I may not follow the dictates of my religion to the T; but I know enough about other religions, Catholicism in particular, to know I don't want to convert to that.

    Actually that's not accurate, if I ever were to convert it would be to Buddhist. The little reading I have done on Buddhism it doesn't seem at all abhorrent, which is more than I can say for a lot of other faiths whether they be mono or polytheistic. :cool:
     
  10. Drifterwood

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    No offense NJ, but why do we so often see people from the US refer to Catholicism as a different faith or religion? It is one of the earliest organised churches of christianity and the form that is practised by the majority of christians around the world.
     
  11. Principessa

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    Cause it's different from what I am.:biggrin1:
     
  12. numberseven

    numberseven New Member

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    I was raised ELCA Lutheran, but have "strayed from the fold," somewhat--I suppose I could technically be considered an atheist, but I think that's a semantic difference, as I think the things I believe in are the same things that another person might call god.

    I believe in the innate goodness of human beings, even though there are some horrible, awful people in the world--everyone has at least a tiny pearl of goodness in them. I believe in the interconnectedness of people, the sanctity of nature, music, joy, love... it all sounds very new-agey, I admit, but I simply don't see a sentient god in my life. [shrugs] That's how I usually summarize it, if ya wanna know more I'm more than willing to oblige :smile:
     
  13. bigmoochie

    bigmoochie New Member

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    Suffering. One of the biggest stumbling blocks in all of Christianity. How could an all-loving, perfectly good God allwow His followers to suffer?

    OK . . . ask this: How could an all-loving, perfectly good God allow His Son, Jesus Christ - Who is every bit as much God as His Father, to suffer & die on the cross? If God the Father did not withhold suffering from His Son - Whom He loved & in Whom He was well-pleased, why should He withhold suffering from us?

    Here's some thoughts straight from the oldest Christian philosophy around: St Paul tells us that we can unite our sufferings to those of Christ's on the cross &, in doing so, complete them. Now, Christ's sufferings on the cross were perfect because he is God, second Person of the Trinity. So there is nothing we finite human beings can add to that perfect sacrifice. Christ was perfectly obedient to God the Father in His dying on the cross, the most humiliating, torturous death imaginable the Roman Empire (or any empire, for that matter) could concoct. In that act, He calls us to be perfectly obedient, too.

    Except, being God the Son, Christ knows we won't be able to do it because we are sinners. So He gives us many, many chances. As many times as we humble ourselves & repent for our sin, He will forgive us - up to an unlimited amount, if necessary. Do any of us forgive that way? Really. Do we? Are any of us capable of forgiving that way, even in the most perfect of circumstances? If we're honest with ourselves, we'd have to answer "no." God allows this because He does know our human limitations - especially since Jesus became one of us & experienced what it is to be truly, perfectly human. But Christ did not empty Himself of all Godliness when He became human. He is the God-Man, perfectly both & perfectly indivisible. He took our sins on Himself on the cross & destroyed our death in that perfect sacrifice.

    So . . . why do good people suffer? Becasuse, through sin, suffering entered the world. The sin of all causes suffering. That does not mean that someone who is suffering from cancer is doing so because of their sin, or anyone else's - Christ mentions this specifically in the Gospels. But God allows suffering of His faithful to give them the opportunity to grow closer to Him. If we can accept the good things he gives us, can we not also accept the evil? (That's from the book of Job, BTW.) No, God does not give evil to us - He is all good &, therefore, incapable of giving anything but good. But whatever happens to us, God desires we grow closer to Him through those events, whether good or bad.

    The view on suffering, BTW, is very consistent in the Old Testament & the New Testament of the Bible. Under both covenants, God gives His people a way through which their sins can be expiated. He has always given us a way to grow closer to Him through the forgiveness of our sins.

    That is the Christian point of view on suffering. In a very short nutshell. This topic has been discussed for 2000 years of Christianity by many of the greatest Christian philosophers. St Thomas Aquinas, St Augustine, & many of the early Christian writers have written on this topic extensively & they write far better than I ever could hope to on the subject.
     
  14. Axcess

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    I was raised in Christianity all my life and I know those arguments . Still you don't answer me the WHY of suffering and the Why of human condition . The why of the unfairness of the world . Sorry mate but that doesn't answer the question . Christianity Judaism and Islam are agnostic religions in respect of the human condition . They simply doesn't have the answer of that why . I forgot to say about the question of why god allow Jesus to suffer so much . There is a difference between Jesus suffering and regular people suffering . Jesus choose to be born as a human and he choose to suffer . He choose his destiny . Many people that suffer doesnt choose to suffer ( Some times people themselves cause their own suffering but I'm not talking about that ) For example the victims that die in 9-11 . The civilians that are dying in Irack . Millions of people dying of hunger right now. People that are suffering mortal diseases ( without them causing it) etc . I can give you so many examples that I would never end .
     
    #14 Axcess, Aug 25, 2008
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  15. IntoxicatingToxin

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    I think the reason for suffering is pretty simple. You can't know one without the other. You can't know love without hate, you can't know up without down, you can't know fat without skinny, you can't know happy without said... suffering and watching others suffer is exactly what allows us to be happy and experience happiness in others.
     
  16. oldriver

    oldriver New Member

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    To answer the original question: atheist since age 17.

    Born, baptized, and raised a Presbyterian in a small town, dragged to church every Sunday til I went off to college and didn't have to go any more, never went back, never will.

    What changed my thinking? I read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand when I was in high school (on my own - not an assignment) and still think they are the two greatest books ever written.
     
  17. B_dumbcow

    B_dumbcow New Member

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    I identified as a Protestant Christian until moving towards Quakerism (which was more suited to my beliefs) and taking teachings from other religions
    (Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.) and although not practicing those religions, I do consider their beliefs and take in their teachings.

    So I've got my own set of ideas really :smile: I never liked being limited to one specific set of beliefs.
     
  18. bigmoochie

    bigmoochie New Member

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    Yes, I did. God allows us to unite our sufferings to those of Christ on the cross &, in doing so, complete them. God the Son, the Lamb of God who became the perfect sacrifice no lamb could be under the old covenant, allows us to unite our imperfect sufferings to His. That alone, from the Christian perspective, gives our suffering meaning & value.

    Why? Well, that's what I didn't get into in my previous post. Because, we can offer our sufferings to God to use as He sees fit in order to save souls. That's what it's all about in the Christian context: to get to heaven & be with God forever. God wills that all people be saved & be with Him in heaven forever. Those who don't make it have chosen not to be there. We can make the choice, just as Christ did, to unite our sufferings to His & He can use them to save others; we can chose to die to self & become more like Christ &, in doing so, be more fully human, moving toward Christ who was perfectly human. That's what's called a mystery in Christianity. Sorry, we can't know the details of everything in our earthly life. And that's not a cop-out answer, either. There are things we simply will not know this side of heaven. That's where faith comes in.

    And that's why, essentially, Blaise Pascal chose Christianity v. non-belief. Read up on Pascal's Wager, if you don't know of it. He was one of the greatest philosophers of all time, Christain or not.

    As for Christianity & Judiaism being "agnostic" religions when it comes to the human condition . . . well, no. The Bible, OT & NT, are all about the human condition! Is the parable of the prodigal son not about the human condition as experienced by virtually every human being on this earth? Of course it is. That parable alone explains so much about our choices & how they affect us & those around us & how we can always be delivered from our bad choices. It's also about how those who've made the good choices all along can still suffer.

    We were not meant to suffer in the beginning. We humans brought that on ourselves. It did not come from God in any way. But God gives us an "out" as it were. We can make the choice that, if we must suffer, it can be used by God for good. What higher calling is there? To take something that is universally seen as a bad or evil thing & allow it to be transformed into a good to help others! I find deep & wonderous beauty in that. For my money, it's far more beautiful than anything in Buddhism.

    For the Christian, this life is not all there is & the real life won't begin until our death. What we were created for, from the Christian's perspective, is to love & serve God & be happy with Him in heaven forever. What is 100 years of suffering on earth compared to an eternity of love & happiness in heaven?

    Predicated on that is the existence of the immortal soul. But that's another, although related, discussion.
     
  19. Domisoldo

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    My! My! Dr. JA, you were always the most intriguing LPSG member, now you are also its most intriguing church leader.

    A "work-in-progress"? Are you implying that religion is indeed man-made? Did you let your beloved wife provide some female guidance at least?



    I am still agnostic.
     
  20. Calboner

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    Apparently it had quite a different effect on you from its effect on Officer Barbrady of South Park:

    Yes, at first I was happy to be learning how to read. It seemed exciting and magical. But then I read this: "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand. I read every last word of this garbage, and because of this piece of shit I'm never reading again! (South Park, season 2: "The Chicken Lover")
    A friend of mine likens Ayn Rand's writings to those of Tolkien, in the following respect: there is a certain time of life when some people are susceptible to their spell, but if you are not one of those people or you don't read the books during that time, you will find them to be a tedious load of horseshit.
     
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