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#1 Arch

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 05:45 AM

Hi guys and girls,

I'm new to these forums (been reading them for a couple of weeks and thought I'd finally sign up). I thought rather than just jumping straight into intense debate I'd take the time for a friendly converstation and get to know some of you first.

As I recently decided to move from agnostic to atheist, I'm interested in how other's have come to their beliefs. Several times I've read the religous people here claiming they have experienced God in their lives. I'm interested to know how exactly you have experienced him.

I would also be interested in hearing how other agnostic or atheists have come to their beliefs.

Here's to hoping we can just share out beliefs and not have to get into an intense debate over them.

Regards,

Arch.

#2 de_skudd

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 06:54 AM

Hi guys and girls,

I'm new to these forums (been reading them for a couple of weeks and thought I'd finally sign up). I thought rather than just jumping straight into intense debate I'd take the time for a friendly converstation and get to know some of you first.

As I recently decided to move from agnostic to atheist, I'm interested in how other's have come to their beliefs. Several times I've read the religous people here claiming they have experienced God in their lives. I'm interested to know how exactly you have experienced him.

I would also be interested in hearing how other agnostic or atheists have come to their beliefs.

Here's to hoping we can just share out beliefs and not have to get into an intense debate over them.

Regards,

Arch.

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Hello Arch, this looks like a good topic. I suppose I can kick it off…

I have been, during the formidable part of my up bringing, an atheistic pagan. I pretty much fell in love with the “if it feels good, do it” movement because there are no consequences after this life, and to a materialists mindset, really none during this life either.

In my very early twenties, I was in the search mode. I didn’t like being preached at, so to shut up the religious folk, I decided to prove religion wrong. I read the Bible and Koran to pick out the inconsistencies and errors; I even pulled apart the “Noble Path” because I couldn’t understand atheists trying to be moral.

During these studies, I found the Biblical New Testament account to be the only one that made sense, morally, historically, logically and philosophically. After reading the works of Flavius Josephus, Carius Cornelius Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the younger, Lucian, Celsus, relevant portions of The Talmud, Tertullian, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, Quadratus, Eusebius, Hegesippus, Papias and the like, I could no longer deny the historicity of the life and deeds of Jesus Christ.

And if I could no longer deny the life and deeds of Jesus Christ, how could I deny the witnesses of those who lived, breathed, and walked with Him. I found that to deny what they wrote, one would have to do so with denial, conjecture and presupposition.



you can find a synopsis of what I’ve found at: http://www.evolution...?showtopic=1957

#3 Adam Nagy

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 07:01 AM

This could be a good thread. I realized Jesus was this worlds only hope. I put my trust in Him when I was almost 19 years old. I was raised in a partly; strict but loving Roman Catholic home and after my mother passed a partly not so calm mixed family home. I was a meth addicted teenager for a short time. I was already getting cleaned up when God got a hold of me.

My relationship with God is deep and I must say that the most fascinating part is that His Word is so dynamic at explaining the Human condition that I have no problem trusting Him to know how to get home. All the evidence of creation and history is just icing on the cake.

Studying other attempts at formulating worldviews has strengthened my trust in the Word as is. It doesn't need our help to be true. Our salvation requires us to get out of God's way and let Him be God rather than what liberal Christians do by trying to help God be god.

This life is short and any alternate attempts at happiness always prove to be illusory. So I'll trust in Jesus thanks.

BTW, I hear from God all the time. He reveals Himself in everyday circumstances, small and large tugs on the heart, interactions with friends and formally in His Word. We have a great tool in scripture to keep from misunderstanding God and being led astray. I pity people who reinterpret scripture beyond recognition. They should just throw it away when they feel at liberty to do such.

#4 de_skudd

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 09:43 AM

This could be a good thread.

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I concur! :)
How strange is that!! :lol:

#5 Arch

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 05:26 PM

Hello Arch, this looks like a good topic. I suppose I can kick it off…

I have been, during the formidable part of my up bringing, an atheistic pagan. I pretty much fell in love with the “if it feels good, do it” movement because there are no consequences after this life, and to a materialists mindset, really none during this life either.

In my very early twenties, I was in the search mode. I didn’t like being preached at, so to shut up the religious folk, I decided to prove religion wrong. I read the Bible and Koran to pick out the inconsistencies and errors; I even pulled apart the “Noble Path” because I couldn’t understand atheists trying to be moral.

During these studies, I found the Biblical New Testament account to be the only one that made sense, morally, historically, logically and philosophically. After reading the works of Flavius Josephus, Carius Cornelius Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the younger, Lucian, Celsus, relevant portions of The Talmud, Tertullian, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, Quadratus, Eusebius, Hegesippus, Papias and the like, I could no longer deny the historicity of the life and deeds of Jesus Christ.

And if I could no longer deny the life and deeds of Jesus Christ, how could I deny the witnesses of those who lived, breathed, and walked with Him. I found that to deny what they wrote, one would have to do so with denial, conjecture and presupposition.
you can find a synopsis of what I’ve found at:  http://www.evolution...?showtopic=1957

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Hi de_skud,

Thanks for sharing. I always find peoples religion insights interesting. And I agree, of the reading I've done the new testament does seem to be one of the best. I've seen no evidence for not believing that Christ walked the earth.

I'm interested though, what is this Noble Path? Being an atheist myself I see no reason why I shouldn't be moral.

Regards,

Arch.

#6 Adam Nagy

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 07:40 PM

I'm interested though, what is this Noble Path? Being an atheist myself I see no reason why I shouldn't be moral.

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I think the kicker is that atheism gives no reason for why someone should be moral. Besides a personal commitment to a community sense of camaraderie and personal choice for well being, the atheist has no way of determining right from wrong except in a purely arbitrary manner and in a self-styled way. The person who rejects the atheists personal choice to be moral has no disgrace for such rejection because morals are purely arbitrary based on the basic professions of the humanists themselves.

#7 Ron

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 08:31 PM

I think the kicker is that atheism gives no reason for why someone should be moral. Besides a personal commitment to a community sense of camaraderie and personal choice for well being, the atheist has no way of determining right from wrong except in a purely arbitrary manner and in a self-styled way. The person who rejects the atheists personal choice to be moral has no disgrace for such rejection because morals are purely arbitrary based on the basic professions of the humanists themselves.

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And for that reason I also wonder why the Atheist is even concerned about morality. Why does the Atheist even care about preserving the animals on the endangered species list? Why does the atheist worry about people in third worlds countries perishing?

According to the evolutionary model, the weaker need to pass so the stronger can subsist! That’s evolution according to the model!

And I’m not saying atheists aren’t moral, because many atheists are far more moral than many who claim to be Christians. I just want to know why the atheist wants to claim morality when it flies in the face of atheism and evolution?

#8 Arch

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 03:52 AM

And for that reason I also wonder why the Atheist is even concerned about morality...I just want to know why the atheist wants to claim morality when it flies in the face of atheism and evolution?

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Hi guys,

Sorry I haven't responded. Was out of town for a mates 21st and didn't have internet access.

Anyway, I figured I'd have a go at answering your questions in regards to why atheists can (logically) still be moral and why it shouldn't get in the way of evolutionary theory.

I actually think Adam_777 nailed it pretty well.

I think the kicker is that atheism gives no reason for why someone should be moral. Besides a personal commitment to a community sense of camaraderie and personal choice for well being, the atheist has no way of determining right from wrong except in a purely arbitrary manner and in a self-styled way.


Here's how I interpret it. I know I enjoy being happy. I have enough empathy to understand other people also enjoy being happy. I also know that making other's happy increases my own happiness. I believe we only get one shot at this life, therefore I try to get as much enjoyment out of this life as possible, which often includes making other's happy.

Now for the fun part of linking it into evolution :huh:
In nature we often see animals working as herds to survive. Judging by the collective nature of humans I'd say we are also herd animals. Like other herd animals we've learned that helping each other survive increases our own chance of survival. Once survival became relatively easy (at least in first-world countries) we transferred that desire to survive into empathy and a desire to increase overall happiness.

Just as a side note I'd like to add that being an atheist doesn't exclude you from following the morals of religions. I've seen the great communities churches often build around themselves and I believe that Christ predominantly preached good. Considering the amount of happiness being part of a religion group can bring I see no reason why even a non-believer shouldn't model their own morals upon these.

So, that's my take on it. Keep the life stories coming :(

#9 CTD

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 01:05 PM

Hi guys,

Sorry I haven't responded. Was out of town for a mates 21st and didn't have internet access.

Anyway, I figured I'd have a go at answering your questions in regards to why atheists can (logically) still be moral and why it shouldn't get in the way of evolutionary theory.

I actually think Adam_777 nailed it pretty well.

Here's how I interpret it. I know I enjoy being happy. I have enough empathy to understand other people also enjoy being happy. I also know that making other's happy increases my own happiness. I believe we only get one shot at this life, therefore I try to get as much enjoyment out of this life as possible, which often includes making other's happy.

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Being happy is no substitute for being loved. "Make thy neighbor happy" is a cheap dilution of biblical teaching. It does not lead to morality.

Whoever concocted it gets credit for seeing through one lie and blending in some truth. Making others happy actually does make you happy yourself. This runs contrary to "conventional wisdom", at least in many places.

But a partial truth is not a good substitute for complete truth. The most obvious way to make a wino happy is what? The opposite of what a real friend would do. Parents who make their children "happy" by failing to instruct and discipline them are not good parents, neither do they love the children.

This happiness thing doesn't lead to morality; just the opposite in many cases. It is usually recognized that people have conflicting interests, and the objective of "making the most people happy" is derived in atheist teaching, as a means to accomplish this. Vilify and exterminate is an old recipe for making the majority happy. The Romans had the arena; Janet Reno had Waco. There are more examples than one can shake a stick at.

Now for the fun part of linking it into evolution  :D
In nature we often see animals working as herds to survive. Judging by the collective nature of humans I'd say we are also herd animals. Like other herd animals we've learned that helping each other survive increases our own chance of survival. Once survival became relatively easy (at least in first-world countries) we transferred that desire to survive into empathy and a desire to increase overall happiness.

We see all sorts of things in nature. We see males competing for harems in many an herd. Is this the road to happiness?

We also see real love displayed in nature; so we have no excuse. A mama spider will fight to the death protecting her egg sack. A she-bear will not only fight for her cubs, she'll discipline them without hesitation and take no back-sass.

But in the end, it proves nothing to say that because something is seen in nature it is explained by evolutionism. The stories are supposed to account for all that is seen, not just take credit for it.

And zero can be derived from evolutionism in the pursuit of morality. If two droplets of water are racing down a window pane, do they care at all which one wins? If they're heading toward a fire which will evaporate them, do they care? Why should any arrangement of atoms care whether or not it remains in a given configuration? Whence comes the capacity to care about this? Whence comes the capacity to care about anything whatsoever?

This very capacity must be assumed. Attempts to mask the assumption have been made, like the "selfish gene" idea. They're all pretty thin. Why should a gene care any more than a droplet of water cares? The authors just take advantage of the fact that the reader will always be a being that cares, and they hope the reader will project concern where it has no right to exist.

This happiness thing is void. Pair it up with the popular lie that equates sin with fun, and what do you get? A recipe to promote sin. And if being happy is one's highest objective, finding truth becomes optional. An happy delusion will suffice.

Just as a side note I'd like to add that being an atheist doesn't exclude you from following the morals of religions. I've seen the great communities churches often build around themselves and I believe that Christ predominantly preached good. Considering the amount of happiness being part of a religion group can bring I see no reason why even a non-believer shouldn't model their own morals upon these.

So, that's my take on it. Keep the life stories coming :D

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Being an atheist does not exclude one from having a sense of self; neither does it exclude one from having a conscience. Being an atheist doesn't even exempt one from being loved by the Living God.

#10 scott

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 02:22 PM

I believe in God, because I've lived this life to my extent of what I can... I walk and see all types of people everyday. Some people hate me, wanna hurt me, but I don't let that get to me. I follow Jesus because I choose to, or I could say because Jesus held on to me throughout the years, and this I am glad of.

I tell you, I try my best to walk the straight and narrow path, but it is extremely difficult. Especially in this day in age. I see God in nature, and throughout alot of situations in my own personal life. Through this past year, I've been in deep depression, and I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for God.

I see no reason for moving on with this one life, if God doesn't exist, because without God there truly is no reason for life, and all is pointless/frivalous. I've witnessed that you can have all that you could've ever dreamed of, and life would still be pointless without God. I see people who think they got stuff, and money... the think they don't need God, but I've had riches/possesions, and they never brought me true happiness, or love.

Depression hurts... It effects everyone and everything around you. I know it did me... I have a 1969 firebird that I was restoring... but because of my depression it's just sat chained to a tree in my driveway for almost a year. Slowly but surely I'm beginning to climb out of my depression. All the bad I see all the time, I'm just starting to not let it get to me... I just don't care. NO stress, No worries... I live each second.

I'm beginning to realize how precious each second of our lives is, and that we should take the time that we have each day to just do our best, and to not worry at all about what other people think of us, or what we want people to think of us. Because in all it doesn't matter, what matters is God's Will, and the way God has made you. So I say yes you can, yes you can believe.

#11 CTD

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 08:12 PM

As long as I'm participating, I'll explain a little about how I came to discover God exists. It's pretty simple actually: homology doesn't work. I wanted to find a way to tell myself evolutionism could work, but it requires homology. Vision alone breaks homology all to bits, and I rejected as utterly absurd and intellectually dishonest the proposal of pretending it works anyhow.

One cannot say "oh it's just luck". If eyes were so simple to develop as they're made out to be, they should be cropping up all over the place. But on any critter that has a head, that's where you'll find the eyes. They come in pairs. And plants don't seem to have much luck, even counting potatoes. No, the luck god(dess) is too fickle.

I'll always recall the hot nights in summertime, when it didn't matter how tired I was - it was too hot to sleep. Thinking of unending heat, and desiring there to be no such thing. I wanted very much to make evolutionism work, but it never comforted me at all. It held no truth, and no genuine hope of being true. It was more of a hope sponge, absorbing every bit I could invest, and returning nothing.

#12 Arch

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 10:22 PM

I believe in God, because I've lived this life to my extent of what I can...  I walk and see all types of people everyday.  Some people hate me, wanna hurt me, but I don't let that get to me.  I follow Jesus because I choose to, or I could say because Jesus held on to me throughout the years, and this I am glad of.

I tell you, I try my best to walk the straight and narrow path, but it is extremely difficult.  Especially in this day in age.  I see God in nature, and throughout alot of situations in my own personal life.  Through this past year, I've been in deep depression, and I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for God. 

I see no reason for moving on with this one life, if God doesn't exist, because without God there truly is no reason for life, and all is pointless/frivalous.  I've witnessed that you can have all that you could've ever dreamed of, and life would still be pointless without God.  I see people who think they got stuff, and money... the think they don't need God, but I've had riches/possesions, and they never brought me true happiness, or love.

Depression hurts...  It effects everyone and everything around you.  I know it did me...  I have a 1969 firebird that I was restoring... but because of my depression it's just sat chained to a tree in my driveway for almost a year.  Slowly but surely I'm beginning to climb out of my depression.  All the bad I see all the time, I'm just starting to not let it get to me... I just don't care.  NO stress, No worries... I live each second. 

I'm beginning to realize how precious each second of our lives is, and that we should take the time that we have each day to just do our best, and to not worry at all about what other people think of us, or what we want people to think of us.  Because in all it doesn't matter, what matters is God's Will, and the way God has made you.  So I say yes you can, yes you can believe.

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Thanks for sharing Scott, I understand that takes courage, even over the net. One thing that always amazes me is that even though we've come along different paths with different views, we can arrive at the same conclusion...
"NO stress, No worries... I live each second"

Stick with it mate. I know it can be hard but life is definitely worth it.

Regards,

Arch.

#13 Adam Nagy

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 11:11 PM

Arch do you mind if I grill you for an answer to reveal the value of your words?

Below you said...

Stick with it mate. I know it can be hard but life is definitely worth it.

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What is "it"?

How do you know what "it" is worth and how do you know "it" is definite?

Can you approximate some actual meaning for us or do you say something like this because it is soothing?

#14 Arch

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 04:12 AM

Arch do you mind if I grill you for an answer to reveal the value of your words?

Below you said...
What is "it"?

How do you know what "it" is worth and how do you know "it" is definite?

Can you approximate some actual meaning for us or do you say something like this because it is soothing?

View Post


You see this is why I enjoy talking to people with differing beliefs. Every now and then they'll hit you with something profound.

I've considered what you asked and I have to conclude, when I wrote that sentence I simply meant it as words of encouragement.

That said, I felt compelled to answer your question on the deeper level that you've implied, as I think it could spark some interesting discussion.

"I know it can be hard but life is definitely worth it."

The first 'it' in this sentence was referring to life. The second refers to the difficulties we face during life. So if I were to re-write the sentence it would go something like:

I know life can be hard, but life is definitely worth the hardships.

Out of curiosity, when you asked "What is it", what did you think 'it' might be?

#15 chipwag64

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 05:31 AM

Welcome to the forum Arch!!

Good topic to start, thanks!
I grew up going to church "religiously" for 38 years, the last 10 of those years, less and less. Although I learned some facts about God, I really wasn't interested, I would say that I believed in "A" God but couldn't tell you much about Him.
My life, after marriage, almost 20 years ago started to go downhill, and really hit some hard times about 7-8 years ago.
My wife and I used to fight alot, the kids were undisciplined, my house was in foreclosure, in and out of jobs, we lost a 14 month old to a homocide, we never agreed on how to budget money, the house was falling apart from apathy and selfishness and greed both physically and relationally. I was like at the end of my rope, didn't know where to turn, I needed a solution, having tried everything in my power to change things and nothing would change; maybe temporarily, but they would come back even worse.
All I knew to do was to open up the dusty Bible someone gave me hoping to find answers, although to me it was always just an old storybook.
Even as I flipped through the pages, I couldn't understand much of what I read; I was wondering where this "God of love" was that I heard so much about in church. If He loved me, why am I going through all of this?
At that point, I just dropped to my knees and cried out for God to help me, I remember saying that I was willing to lose everything, house, wife, children, money, whatever in exchange for a solution because only a God could bring them back to me again in His providence.
Even though I was looking for a temporary solution at the time, and planned to go back to what I've always done after things got fixed, my life started to change.
I started to get a hunger to read the Bible, I started to see things differently, I started to see the vanity of material things and personal pleasure, how these things may satisfy, but only for a short while.
As I read Scott's post # 10, I would think that the middle of his post was quoted from the book of "Ecclesiastes" LOL.
Over the last 6.5 years since this event took place, so many things have fallen into place and (as someone else posted) the Bible seems so clearly and accurately to describe reality.
I cannot believe how, when talking to atheists/agnostics, they actually breathe scripture without even realizing it!!
As they speak, what they are saying sounds so close to certain scripture verses or passages.
In their defense of their position, denying the existence of God, over and over they say things that are written in the Bible.
So, rather than destroying my faith, these encounters INCREASE my faith in the infalliability of God's Word ( the originals).
Arch, as you posted in # 12 about "NO stress...No worries...I live each second".
The Christian and Agnostic/Atheist may be in agreement, but for very different reasons.
While the Atheist/Agnostic lives for THIS world with no concern about an afterlife, putting everything into, and getting everything out of this life; the true Christian is doing just the opposite, laying aside all pursuits and pleasures in THIS world while waiting in hope (which is NOT the hope that we use these days, as in "I hope, but I'm not sure, rather "I am absolutely positively sure") for the world to come.
But the eternal life we have is not just about when we die, it begins in this earthly life, giving us answers, strength, wisdom,assurance, PEACE, joy etc. Everything we need to do God's will is given.
When I first started my post, I used the word "religiously".
When I think of religion, I think of man made rules, rituals, writings, chants, sacrifices etc. that are used to endear us to a deity or deities.
I really wish people wouldn't group Christianity in the "religion" category in that sense, knowing that God Himself despises "religion".

Chip

#16 Arch

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 07:10 AM

Welcome to the forum Arch!!

Good topic to start, thanks!
I grew up going to church "religiously" for 38 years, the last 10 of those years, less and less. Although I learned some facts about God, I really wasn't interested, I would say that I believed in "A" God but couldn't tell you much about Him.
My life, after marriage, almost 20 years ago started to go downhill, and really hit some hard times about 7-8 years ago.
My wife and I used to fight alot, the kids were undisciplined, my house was in foreclosure, in and out of jobs, we lost a 14 month old to a homocide, we never agreed on how to budget money, the house was falling apart from apathy and selfishness and greed both physically and relationally. I was like at the end of my rope, didn't know where to turn, I needed a solution, having tried everything in my power to change things and nothing would change; maybe temporarily, but they would come back even worse.
All I knew to do was to open up the dusty Bible someone gave me hoping to find answers, although to me it was always just an old storybook.
Even as I flipped through the pages, I couldn't understand much of what I read; I was wondering where this "God of love" was that I heard so much about in church. If He loved me, why am I going through all of this?
At that point, I just dropped to my knees and cried out for God to help me, I remember saying that I was willing to lose everything, house, wife, children, money, whatever in exchange for a solution because only a God could bring them back to me again in His providence.
Even though I was looking for a temporary solution at the time, and planned to go back to what I've always done after things got fixed, my life started to change.
I started to get a hunger to read the Bible, I started to see things differently, I started to see the vanity of material things and personal pleasure, how these things may satisfy, but only for a short while.
As I read Scott's post # 10, I would think that the middle of his post was quoted from the book of "Ecclesiastes" LOL.
Over the last 6.5 years since this event took place, so many things have fallen into place and (as someone else posted) the Bible seems so clearly and accurately to describe reality.
I cannot believe how, when talking to atheists/agnostics, they actually breathe scripture without even realizing it!!
As they speak, what they are saying sounds so close to certain scripture verses or passages.
In their defense of their position, denying the existence of God, over and over they say things that are written in the Bible.
So, rather than destroying my faith, these encounters INCREASE my faith in the infalliability of God's Word ( the originals).
Arch, as you posted in # 12 about "NO stress...No worries...I live each second".
The Christian and Agnostic/Atheist may be in agreement, but for very different reasons.
While the Atheist/Agnostic lives for THIS world with no concern about an afterlife, putting everything into, and getting everything out of this life; the true Christian is doing just the opposite, laying aside all pursuits and pleasures in THIS world while waiting in hope (which is NOT the hope that we use these days, as in "I hope, but I'm not sure, rather "I am absolutely positively sure") for the world to come.
But the eternal life we have is not just about when we die, it begins in this earthly life, giving us answers, strength, wisdom,assurance, PEACE, joy etc. Everything we need to do God's will is given.
When I first started my post, I used the word "religiously".
When I think of religion, I think of man made rules, rituals, writings, chants, sacrifices etc. that are used to endear us to a deity or deities.
I really wish people wouldn't group Christianity in the "religion" category in that sense, knowing that God Himself despises "religion".

Chip

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Hi Chip, thanks for the hearty welcome :D

I was particularly struck by the part of your comment where you said "...the eternal life we have is not just about when we die, it begins in this earthly life..."
Reminded me of one of my favourite sayings. "We are not humans on a spiritual journey, we are angels on a human journey".

Thank you for your story. I truly enjoy reading such experiences. I wonder, could you elaborate on the last part of your comment. You seem to be suggesting that religions are set up to make people suck up to a God, whereas you seem to believe God gives his love based upon something different. Am I on the right track here?

Regards,

Arch.

#17 Arch

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 07:30 AM

Being happy is no substitute for being loved. "Make thy neighbor happy" is a cheap dilution of biblical teaching. It does not lead to morality.

Whoever concocted it gets credit for seeing through one lie and blending in some truth. Making others happy actually does make you happy yourself. This runs contrary to "conventional wisdom", at least in many places.

But a partial truth is not a good substitute for complete truth. The most obvious way to make a wino happy is what? The opposite of what a real friend would do. Parents who make their children "happy" by failing to instruct and discipline them are not good parents, neither do they love the children.

This happiness thing doesn't lead to morality; just the opposite in many cases. It is usually recognized that people have conflicting interests, and the objective of "making the most people happy" is derived in atheist teaching, as a means to accomplish this. Vilify and exterminate is an old recipe for making the majority happy. The Romans had the arena; Janet Reno had Waco. There are more examples than one can shake a stick at.

We see all sorts of things in nature. We see males competing for harems in many an herd. Is this the road to happiness?

We also see real love displayed in nature; so we have no excuse. A mama spider will fight to the death protecting her egg sack. A she-bear will not only fight for her cubs, she'll discipline them without hesitation and take no back-sass.

But in the end, it proves nothing to say that because something is seen in nature it is explained by evolutionism. The stories are supposed to account for all that is seen, not just take credit for it.

And zero can be derived from evolutionism in the pursuit of morality. If two droplets of water are racing down a window pane, do they care at all which one wins? If they're heading toward a fire which will evaporate them, do they care? Why should any arrangement of atoms care whether or not it remains in a given configuration? Whence comes the capacity to care about this? Whence comes the capacity to care about anything whatsoever?

This very capacity must be assumed. Attempts to mask the assumption have been made, like the "selfish gene" idea. They're all pretty thin. Why should a gene care any more than a droplet of water cares? The authors just take advantage of the fact that the reader will always be a being that cares, and they hope the reader will project concern where it has no right to exist.

This happiness thing is void. Pair it up with the popular lie that equates sin with fun, and what do you get? A recipe to promote sin. And if being happy is one's highest objective, finding truth becomes optional. An happy delusion will suffice.
Being an atheist does not exclude one from having  a sense of self; neither does it exclude one from having a conscience. Being an atheist doesn't even exempt one from being loved by the Living God.

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My apologies CTD, as I seem to have upset you somehow. Perhaps it is just getting lost in the internet dialogue, but your tone seems to carry a note of resentment.

I started this post as a means of getting to know people here a little better, and as a chance for people to share their beliefs. It seems to me people spend a great deal of time arguing over their differences rather than celebrating what they share. I hoped to spend a little time on the latter.

I believe I can offer an explanation for the points you seem to be having trouble understanding (eg. how love can relate to happiness), but I don't want this to turn into an angry debate.

If you are interested in discussing these ideas further (rather than debating them) would you please give me your definition of 'love'. I'd be interested to see how close it is to mine.

I'd also be interested in hearing what "conventional wisdom" is, I'm not familiar with the term.

Regards,

Arch.

#18 chipwag64

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 08:03 AM

Arch,

My understanding of God's love that I see scattered throughout the Bible is...undescribable!!
Too often we think of it as just a little bit above human love, but the greek word many times in the New Testament means "super abundant", meaning that it blows away, by far, anything that we can imagine.
The Bible tells us that God sets His love upon us according to His purposes, His will and NOTHING can thwart those purposes!!
Now, God does love ALL people on this earth, in a certain way, but He has a very special love for His children.
God's love is not based on our actions, we don't sway God's love by saying or doing things, His love is constant from the "foundation of the world".
I did not include scripture here to support these claims, but most definitely would should you desire.
Religion, to me, is a thought process as such:
We can close the gap between a deity and mankind somehow; either a deity can be understood as less than completely sovereign and completely in control and perfect, AND/OR mankind is not really too far removed from that deity.
So, to close the gap, let us show this deity what we can do!!
We can pray hard, we can bow, chant, humble ourselves, recite things ad nauseum, we can injure ourselves, deny ourselves, fast, meditate, study sacred scripture etc. etc.
The God of the Bible tells us that we have no ability on our own to please Him in anyway because our hearts are tainted by sin.We need a new heart!!
We need to come to Him broken, bankrupt, humble, desperate and urgently to receive what ONLY he can provide.
I am not an expert on world religions, but I know that most, if not all, have the same message:
It's all up to you! find hidden wisdom, work harder, say certain magical words, find a "key to life" etc.

Chip

#19 Ron

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 05:11 PM

Here's how I interpret it. I know I enjoy being happy. I have enough empathy to understand other people also enjoy being happy. I also know that making other's happy increases my own happiness. I believe we only get one shot at this life, therefore I try to get as much enjoyment out of this life as possible, which often includes making other's happy.

Now for the fun part of linking it into evolution  :lol:
In nature we often see animals working as herds to survive. Judging by the collective nature of humans I'd say we are also herd animals. Like other herd animals we've learned that helping each other survive increases our own chance of survival. Once survival became relatively easy (at least in first-world countries) we transferred that desire to survive into empathy and a desire to increase overall happiness.

Just as a side note I'd like to add that being an atheist doesn't exclude you from following the morals of religions. I've seen the great communities churches often build around themselves and I believe that Christ predominantly preached good. Considering the amount of happiness being part of a religion group can bring I see no reason why even a non-believer shouldn't model their own morals upon these.

So, that's my take on it. Keep the life stories coming :o

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And there is nothing wrong with you (or any other atheist) being moral or happy. It’s a good thing! The question (or problem) comes in with the general evolutionary model of survival of the fittest. You see, the animal and the herds aren’t attempting to be happy, they’re attempting to survive. So, if you want to equate happiness with survival, then I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.

Also, neither happiness, nor enjoyments are materialistically substantive things. You cannot taste, touch, smell, see or hear them. You cannot measure them in any physical manner; you can only measure their effects. This is why this is a conundrum for the materialist. The materialist attempts to explain away the metaphysical because you cannot use the scientific method to prove it exist. But, neither can you use it to prove happiness or enjoyment exist either. Nor, for that matter can you use the scientific method to measure the scientific method itself.


And, as an aside on your last paragraph; your world view cannot detract or exclude you from observing, or feeling the feeling we were meant to see and feel by our creator any more than my world view. I like the attitude you have on the subject, and only hope you look into the matter further.

#20 Arch

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 07:49 PM

And there is nothing wrong with you (or any other atheist) being moral or happy. It’s a good thing! The question (or problem) comes in with the general evolutionary model of survival of the fittest. You see, the animal and the herds aren’t attempting to be happy, they’re attempting to survive. So, if you want to equate happiness with survival, then I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.

Also, neither happiness, nor enjoyments are materialistically substantive things. You cannot taste, touch, smell, see or hear them.  You cannot measure them in any physical manner; you can only measure their effects. This is why this is a conundrum for the materialist. The materialist attempts to explain away the metaphysical because you cannot use the scientific method to prove it exist. But, neither can you use it to prove happiness or enjoyment exist either. Nor, for that matter can you use the scientific method to measure the scientific method itself.
And, as an aside on your last paragraph; your world view cannot detract or exclude you from observing, or feeling the feeling we were meant to see and feel by our creator any more than my world view. I like the attitude you have on the subject, and only hope you look into the matter further.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ron.

I think I must have given the wrong impression on happiness and survival. Here's how I see it.

Back in our primitive days it was about survival. We learned that it made it easier for us to survive if we were to work as a group. And surviving increases your happiness. If you are hungry and eat something you are filled with a pleasant sensation. There is a similar sensation when breeding :lol:

Once surviving became commonplace we found we could get similar sensations out of other life experiences.

I also think happiness can be measured. Essentially it is a burst of certain chemicals going off. To my knowledge we can't measure it terribly well, but I think it can be measured.

"I like the attitude you have on the subject, and only hope you look into the matter further."

I think everyone should constantly be looking into these themes. Throughout my life I have constantly checked and re-checked where my moral beliefs stand. I recently reached these opinions when I chose to let go of my agnostic beliefs and try being atheist. That said I highly doubt this is the end of my spiritual journey.

Regards,

Arch.




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