A Question for S.T.Ranger
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13-10-2011, 05:48 AM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(12-10-2011 11:14 PM)defacto7 Wrote:  bump bump

It's going to be a long one
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13-10-2011, 07:48 AM (This post was last modified: 13-10-2011 07:50 AM by S.T. Ranger.)
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(12-10-2011 12:07 AM)defacto7 Wrote:  I assume you believe in God. I assume you believe in the Christian faith. If that is incorrect, please discredit the assumptions and the question will become invalid.

The question:

Why do you believe in God, and the Christian faith?

Hello Defacto, and thanks for the question, which is a valid question, and one all believers should be able to answer, though I doubt that there will be a standrad answer.

First, "Why do I believe in God?"

You have assumed correctly that I believe in God, and in fact have believed in God since I was very young. Mostly because of my grandfather. He believed in God. Understand that I was not indoctrinated, as his faith (his denomnination, or sect, or whichever term you feel would apply) was strangely, in retrospect, a little closemouthed when it came to instruction to children. While I did not have a clue as to their doctrine, I was familiar with the concept of God, and it was something I assumed to be reasonable.

My childhood was one of experiencing much change, moving often, witnessing two divorces (I was too young to understand the first between my father and mother), as well as the fighting and discord that goes along with that type of thing. Much of that time (that I am able to remember) involved very little exposure to God or doctrine of the bible. My immediate family was secular, and hunting and fishing trips, occasional trips to Disneyland, were the things that stand out. But noteaching about God.

Nevertheless, you cannot go through this life without hearing about God. And still, I had a belief in my heart...that He existed.

When I was ten, we moved east to live with my dad while my mom was trying to work out her marriage. Again, though, we (I and my two brothers, both older), there was no exposure to God. My dad actually did go to church at that time, though we (my brothers and I) never went. As I look back, I cannot really put it together. All I can guess is that going to church was minimal on their part, because my brothers and I never went with them (dad, his wife, and her son).

While I think that us coming out here probably contributed in part to the divorce of my dad and his wife, it was not really the fault of three young boys, it was the result of many things apart from us, which I will not elaborate on.

Hope I am not boring you, but I do think that my life should be touched on, in part at least, to explain why I believe in God. Not sure how lengthy this will be, but, if we were sitting down talking, this is what I would say, though to be honest, this is the condensed version. The full story is usually for friends and family.

At eleven, we were once again in a single parent household, and my dad did his very best to keep a roof over our heads. Dad worked literally twelve hours a day, seven days a week, so we were pretty much on our own, for the most part. People do not know the value of having a household where both parents are there, especially when their relationship is healthy. We had the usual interests as most kids, however, my oldest brother had always had an interest for music, and to cut the story a bit shorter, I followed in that interest.

Though never really having any instruction about God, we were taught about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and at thirteen, the thought of using would have been absurd. However, the Rock Culture goes hand in hand with these addictions, and my heros at that time used. By fourteen, so did I. At fifteen, I dropped out of high school, and went to work, and primarily so I could support my habits.

Again, to cut the story short, for the next ten years, I played Metal, used and drank, and worked. And in all of that time, I still believed in God. However, if you ask me now if I was a "believer," I can say, no, not in the biblical sense. Meaning this: if you believe in something, that belief will cause you to conduct your life according to that belief. For example: if I believe that letting the fuel guage run down will cause me to run out of gas, resulting in a situation or condition I wish to avoid, my belief, coupled with the desire to avoid such a condition, will cause me to act accordingly, and keep the needle away from "E."

During this time, who I was in my heart was that same little boy who always associated himself with the good guys in the books I read. I believed myself to be a pretty good person. And while I believed there was a God, He did not have a part in my life. Kind of like we all believe there is a President in Washington. But the President is not a part of most of our lives.

I will not at this time go into detail concerning my conversion, except to say, that after years of having an internal hatred for who I was, due to who my heart saw myself as (and I am not talking about low self esteem, as I was as proud a person you could meet. After all...I was playing clubs and parties by the time I was fifteen, and garnered the respect of my peers [mere children, right?], as well as those older than me. Not only that, but I was good in my trade, far surpassing those who had been in the trade longer than I. This set me apart from the "average person" in my mind).

But, like I think many people feel, while we can tell ourselves that we "are good people," there is an internal conscience that conflicts with the person we think we are, and who we wish to project ourselves to those around us.

While dating a girl who had quite a story herself, she had been impregnated by a military guy, then forced to give the child up for adoption, she was basically being what I call abused...by my friends. Who I thought were my friends. I was her savior. I took her out of the place she was, took her home, having honorable intentions. But it was that instance, that event, that caused me to look at the conditions of my own heart, and my life, and I was forced to see the person I was.

It was at this time that my thoughts turned to God.

I think it was partly a desire to show her parents, who attended a church, that their daughter did not need them, that they had been wrong in their actions and decisions towards her, both in having her child placed in a family (because they did not think their seventeen year old drug using daughter could properly raise the child) which led to emotional trauma for her, as well as being firm in the terms of her living in their household.

What monsters, I thought, I mean, how can it be called love, to allow your daughter to decide for herself that she is going to leave their house...because they assumed they knew what was best for her! Because they could not show enough love to put up with her doing what she wanted.

Sorry, got off track: again, I think it was partly spite, but we went to their church, me sporting my long hair (I was sure that would drive them nuts), and an arrogant attitude. We went a few times, and believe it or not...it backfired. It was not a matter, I believe, that it was because of a well placed or relevant message, but because the internal conflict that had raged in my heart came to a head.

I am sure the Psycho-babblers would try to put scientific terms to what I then experienced, I know...talked to many of them. Some of the "counselors" I talked to before this (due to "treatment" for drug and alcohol dependancy) were atheists, and even then, in the midst of this period in my life, I felt sorry for them. But I was what I call a "practical atheist" myself. I went through a time where I can tell you, those who deny the existence of demons would change their minds, had they experienced what I did. Again, I will not get into the details. I will just say that at this time, my thoughts were turned toward God, and a desire to know Who He was. The little bit of knowledge I had gained from my grandfather was actually enough to sustain a distrust of churches and a disdain for those who went to them. I had actually a negative attitude throughout my young life toward these people, though what was true was, I neither knew what they believed or taught, nor even what it was my grandfather believed.

After going to the church my girlfriend's parents went to (and I will add that spite was also a motivation for her) for about four or five services, I had actually put my hair in a pony-tail (though my hair was a source of pride), because I became aware of the fact that my desire to rub my culture in their holier-than-thou faces was replaced with a sense of shame at the very desire.

Anyway, the fourth or fifth service, something happened: my heart was broken. You might say that it was guilt. But it centered around, not necessarily the messages preached by the preacher, but it was as though my life was laid before me to examine, my heart was exposed, and I saw for the first time the person I was. And I was horrified. On this night, I was overcome by a desire to not be that person anymore, to be rid of him. I went forward when they gave an "altar call," sweating, scared to death, because I did not know Who God was, but I believed that if I went forward...God would meet me there.

And to this day, I believe He did.

Since then, it has been a growth process, much like physical growth, and I have bumped my head, skinned my knees, rebelled, grown complacent...you name it. I have been at times "on fire for the Lord," and at times have stepped back from the relationship. In all this time, I have never gotten too far.

The belief in God that I had from a child to the time of my conversion has changed. It is no longer just an acceptance of that knowledge, which can be a nominal contributor to my thoughts, but it is something by which every thought, every action, revolves around. Just as my life before revolved around drugs and alcohol, such as, I worked to supply my habit, even so now, I believe because of the knowledge of God. And so you do not misunderstand, I do not hold myself to be "a great Christian," or "holier than others," but the reverse is true: as I examine my heart, my motivations, my actions, and my words (whether they be spoken, written, or typed), I can see where they at times align with the heart of God, and at times when it is the "old man," resurfacing.

All of that to answer the question, "Why do you believe in God." The truth is, I have always believed intellectually in God. But that belief was not a belief that was enough to affect who I was. Since my conversion, one of the greatest evidences that God has become part of my life is that the belief itself has not dimmed. While it is true that the New Testament holds instruction for the believer, there is also God Himself that speaks to my heart, and it was His voice that spoke to me not just at my conversion, but even before that, when I began to think that perhaps the person I considered myself to be was not the person I was.

Okay, I have no idea how this will be received, all I can say is that this is just personal testimony of why I believe in God, and now, why do I believe in the "Christian faith."

If one reads the bible, it cannot be missed that God has revealed Himself to man in a progressive manner. This is similar to natural child-rearing, and I think this is as close as I can get to an analogy that might be close to this concept.

A child is born to his parents, and the understanding and knowledge that the child has as they grow up of who their parents are changes as they learn and even more so, as they begin to gain knowledge of the world itself. For example, how a three year old views their mother may be greatly different than how that same three year old views their mother when they are thirteen. One man said, "When I was a small boy, my dad knew everything; when I was a teenager, my dad knew nothing; when I was a man...I was amazed at how much my dad knew."

Mixed with the changing perspective of the child is the growing process of the child themself. It is not a matter of the parent changing, so much, but deals more with the child gaining knowledge mixed with the personality of the child. Whereas a child will usually do, without question, what the parent asks (or demands) when they are very young, that same child will begin, because they have more knowledge in their teen years (mixed with a natural characteristic we all have, which is that what we think is usually the "right way") to question the parent.

Okay, going to try to keep this simple, so again, consider the knowledge the child has of the parent: usually, the parent "knows everything, and can do no wrong." Now, contrast that to the older child that begins to understand life, and the things in it. Some children grow up and begin to think, "Mom is wrong about that," based upon the influences of knowledge as well as their personal interpretation of that knowledge. An example in my life which is probably a more extreme example, is drug and alcohol abuse: I was taught only "bad people" engage in such activity. But when I found out my "friends" did this, I began to question mom and dad's verdict. In fact, because the blanket teaching that those who use are "bad" was given, I could look at my friends (as well as my "Rock Heros") and see quite clearly...they were not, in fact, "bad people." They were actually not so bad. Some of them were actually pretty cool, I thought.

Alright, still trying not to bog this down with too much talk, so onward ho, back to the point: scripture also records a progressive revelation to man concerning God, and to cut this short again, basically, the Old Testament is an introduction similar to that of the young child, whereas the New Testament fulfills and completes that which was prophesied in the Old.

The understanding available to those in the Old could be viewed, in part, to the understanding of young children in their relationship with their parents.

And sorry about interjecting this into the conversation, but, to answer why I believe in the "Christian faith" I feel it necessary to bring this point up.

When I was converted, just a young child begins to learn about their parents, I sought to understand about my Heavenly Father. At the heart of this seeking after knowledge were two simple things: belief in God, and faith.

Just like a child has an undeterred faith in their parents (and this is providing the relationship is not an unhealthy one such as the condition of culture today breeds) that they will love, provide, and protect, even so the new convert also has this childlike faith. No-one is saved having a mature understanding of God, even as no child is born having a mature understanding of their parents. It is a growing process which really does not end. Scripture provides knowledge of God, but is not considered to contain ALL information or knowledge about God.

In my early walk, I began to learn. I had a desire, because I felt it important, to know the truth about God, as best as I could. Like the typical new convert, I knew nothing apart from simple faith and belief. That could possibly be said today. I feel I have merely "scratched the surface" concerning knowledge as well as application. To give a parallel between a relationship with God and the child/parent relationship, while one may have a knowledge (such as my knowledge that I should not get involved with drugs), how they apply that knowledge is a completely different story. In my "spiritual youth," my focus was on the externals. That God took addictions that had plagued me for years away in a very short time, apart from medical supervision (and anyone familiar with dependancy knows there are physical factors involved with this) was an "evidence" of God's work in my life, however, the joy I had to be free of drugs and alcohol was soon to be mingled with the same thing that turned my thoughts and heart toward God in the first place: my heart.

It is difficult to explain this. Suffice it to say for now, that God began, and has been, working on my heart in areas that far surpass in importance than externals that are visually apparent. The condition of my heart was, and still is, the primary focus in my life.

As I began to learn, I went through stages that I believe all born again believer goes through, and will not go into detail, so as to cut this short, but being naturally cynical and skeptical, I am not one that takes anything for granted, and does not consider anything valid unless I can in my own heart see that it is. So I began to look at scripture, look at the people in the church, and to be honest, was disappointed. I had friends that were of particular denominations that for friendship's sake, wished to be in agreement with, but the doctrines did not match up with what I was seeing for myself in scripture.

Sometimes, when we have loyalties to people, we are willing to overlook things that in our hearts we know are not right, but because of our love for them, we do. This happens often in the child/parent relationship: "My kid is in the right, their kid is in the wrong."

Long story short, it has been a continual search for understanding concerning the Christian faith," and I try to embrace the faith that is found in scripture. Rather than the faiths that are as individual as snowflakes, due to the individuality of the people involved. Every "faith" is different, and application of that faith is also different. But, what does not change is what is found in scripture. I know that many here do not understand my faith in scripture itself, but, it is faith itself that leads me to the belief that this is given to man from God Himself. It is the foundation for the Christian faith, and while their are many "faiths" which seem so different in doctrine, they must be measured according to the faith which is taught in scripture. And even as the understanding of every believer can be likened to the understanding of a child as they learn of their parents, and guided at times by outside influences that affect that relationship, such as peers and friends, for example, every faith must be guaged and measured by the very source of that faith.

Take the view of the child for the parent: sometimes the influence of friends can affect that child's view. Same thing concerning certain "faiths." The external influence of tradition and ritual can influence the understanding of the "believer." sometimes loyalty to those we love can do so.

But, bottom line, I embrace the Christian faith, not the faith of other believers (and I am being honest when I say I am a source of irritation for other believers as well), but I seek to understand the faith that is found in the source of that faith. So you could say I believe in the Christian faith because I have a belief that God gave the Bible to man, that he might know God.

Okay, sorry for the length. Hope I have kept to your "rules," and I do appreciate the request given in the previous post.

S.T.


(13-10-2011 05:48 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(12-10-2011 11:14 PM)defacto7 Wrote:  bump bump

It's going to be a long one

So you are ready to resume discussion?

S.T.
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13-10-2011, 08:51 AM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
ST....I congratulate you on that post. I feel a warmth towards you right at the moment after reading that. You are capable of being "real" and sticking to the topic after all!
Well done! ( I mean it....I'm not being patronising). I will resume corresponding with you if you are interested, (although I'm off to China shortly for 3 weeks). Boy...can I learn from you if you are willing to be as real as you have been just now, and , just maybe, you can learn from me.

BTW, my posts in which I belittled you were not written for my own satisfaction....but for 2 other reasons
1. Believe it or not, I had a hope that if you got offended, you may actually be more likely to get the point I was trying to make.
2. I thought I could sense that some of my fellow atheists were getting very frustrated with you, and that upset me, and I wanted to protect them ( in reality though they are quite capable of looking after themselves).

So, ST, what I would like from you, if you would be so real, is to criticise me from your perspective if you think I deserve it. And...please....correct me if you feel I have got something wrong. I have a strong and genuine desire to understand how the average Christian thinks...I'm full of my own opinions, and that is dangerous. You can help...because you're a rather full on Christian.

ps... defacto....well done....I genuinely admire your patience.
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13-10-2011, 08:53 AM
 
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
Sorry for butting in here, but I have an OPEN PM to S.T.Ranger and this is as good a place as any to put it. I also have a "Question for S.T.Ranger"

Ranger, I am curious why you did not get involved with the "Common Ground Between Intelligent and Honest Believers and Atheists" thread?

Possibilities:

A. You were not aware of the thread
B. You don't think there is any common ground
C. Anything else?

Just curious... Smile
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13-10-2011, 09:43 AM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
Zatamon you sneak.

I know we are not supposed to criticize the answer, because it is a personal thing, and I don't want to belittle someones opinion when it does not hurt anyone.

That doesn't mean I won't say... This is the most common story of an I was an atheist I swear and then god, story EVER. Not to say it didn't happen or that it isn't true.

All I'm saying, and this isn't a critique, just and observation, is that every single story like this one is roughly the same. I was a rebel (but still believed in god) I rebelled (but didn't do so in a way that was constructive, like reading or researching, or asking questions) I went to church as a lark but then I felt god, or knew that god was true ( for some indeterminable reason) and I looked back on my life and realized I didn't want it to be that way anymore (why people need god for this I don't get) and so I started reading the bible and it all made sense to me. I felt god as my life started to turn around in a positive way (convenient that god is never that supportive when things aren't going so well) and now without doing any scientific research of any sort I am convinced that god is real, the bible is truth and jesus is my savior.

I just don't get it, but its so unbelievably common. I can explain so much of this in realistic terms. One reason you feel "god" when things start to get better is associations that you have created for yourself. Timing is a convenient thing, but it isn't holy. I'm sure there are countless times when someone has prayed to god in church to keep their kids safe and happy, only to have them killed after church services in a car accident. Things will invariably get better for someone who is addicted to drugs or currently spiraling out of control due to reckless behavior, if you know they stop... and joining a church is like joining a family no doubt about it. You get wonderful support (so long as you conform) and a helping hand. It's not god directly doing those things, it's people forming a community that helps itself. Take god out of the equation and it's still a great thing. However see how long they support you when you turn from god. The bible seeming true thing is more than likely a lack of education in science. Or history.. real history not bible history.

I'm all for people growing up, and leaving reckless irresponsible behavior behind them, I just think it's shaky ground when you rest your morality and dependance on the love and trust of something that probably doesn't exist and is completely unprovable. It's like those guys who say that if it weren't for the bibles morality why wouldn't we go around raping people and murdering (despite the bibles sanctioned rape and murder I guess... ) these people I can only assume, would do bad things if it weren't for fear of eternal damnation. I don't do bad things because I wouldn't want them done to me. So what happens if one of these clowns suddenly doesn't believe in god? I guess murder? So what happens to alcoholics who are taught to believe in god during AA meetings (don't agree with this by the by) then go out and have something terrible happen that makes them not believe anymore? Back to drinking. When it would be so much better if they came to the decision to stop drinking themselves, for themselves. Like why I don't kill everyone. Not that i don't want to, but I won't and it isn't thanks to the bloody (literally) bible.

Sorry. Good story though S.T.
We haven't conversed as of yet, but now you'll know I rant a lot. It's kind of my thing. I literally had to stop myself from typing more.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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13-10-2011, 10:03 AM (This post was last modified: 13-10-2011 11:02 AM by S.T. Ranger.)
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(13-10-2011 08:53 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  Sorry for butting in here, but I have an OPEN PM to S.T.Ranger and this is as good a place as any to put it.

I also have a "Question for S.T.Ranger"

Feel free to join in, Zatamon. First, I have to say that I am not familiar with the term "Open PM." There are no unread PMs in my box, so if you could explain this, I would be grateful.




(13-10-2011 08:53 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  Ranger, I am curious why you did not get involved with the "Common Ground Between Intelligent and Honest Believers and Atheists" thread?


Well, If I ask, "Why did you not get involved with 'the bible is mathematically incorrect," what would your answer be? Shall I make suggestions, and letter them?

The reason is, my time is very limited. While I believe my time here is important, not just because I feel I am trying to look at the reasons people learn to hate God and His people, but because on a very basic human level we can all relate to, I hope to bring awareness to the fallacies that are involved with much of the athiest/believer debate.

I did actually look at this thread, but decided not to respond for a couple of reasons, and I will letter them:

A) I do not want to interject myself into all conversations, as this is an atheist forum, and to be honest, I am a believer in free speech and fellowship. It is not my desire to try to take that away from you guys. If I decided to get into every thread that comes across the boards, not only would the time needed be huge, as I could not answer everything without it (and I am not implying I could, I know I could not, at least, not to the satisfaction of those here), but at the same time, I am the stranger here, and an unwelcome guest.

All that I would accomplish is furthering the hatred that is held by some here, and that is just not something I wish to do. There are those here who have expressed an intense hatred for me, though this they might deny. I have attempted to reason with them, and have had in return received nothing but hatred.


B) The thread itself shows that which scripture teaches, that man will decide for himself what is right, and will live accordingly. What am I suppose to do? Point that out? That would serve to do nothing but to cause the enmity to remain. No-one here wants to here my opinion. No-one here even wants to acknowledge that I actually have a right to an opinion. I am a Christian, so anything I say must be ignored. It does not matter if I make a good point or not, this too will be denied.


C) I try to keep my interaction on this forum to answering questions posed to me. I try to let others bring up the topic of discussion, and reply to that. I could very well start threads that would have loaded answers, to bait people into discussions that might go better my way (such as in the case of the "refutations"). However, where is the fun in that? Just being a little facetious, but honestly, the challenge is greater when the antagonist (as in a debate, not that we are enemies) brings up the subject matter.

If I went to every thread that I wanted to get in to, I would wear out further an already worn out welcome.

I was interested in the thread where their is a "war council" being held, but, I refrained from getting into it, as I feel all it would be is an argument. I will ask you one question about that thread, though, and I will probably work my way into it just for this answer: a link was given where "christians" are talking about shooting atheists; I would be very grateful to have the link for that "christian forum," as the things expressed by those were used as justification for hating christians, but I very much doubt that it was in fact...a Christian forum. While it is possible it is real Christian forum, I think the likliehood that it is one of the pseudo-christian forums who's primary purpose is to mock and ridicule Christianity is very real. If it is a valid Christian forum, I would like to have the link so that I might be an unwelcome visitor there, too.


D) Some of these threads have no other purpose but to mock, and some of the people here are just not honest in debate. If you speak to me, I will answer. But I do not go out of my way to talk to those who cannot even be honest about simple, obvious observations.

(13-10-2011 08:53 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  Possibilities:

A. You were not aware of the thread

No, I was. I was content to stay in the threads I was already fielding questions in.

What is sad is that there has been very little debate. I spend more time answering attacks and accusations than anything.

(13-10-2011 08:53 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  B. You don't think there is any common ground

Common ground, meaning, I do not think there are valid points given? I would probably agree with certain things, the problem is, though you post your "commandments," they are not going to affect the way people respond.

I would agree with most of the ideas proposed, but here are a few that I would have to comment on:


"8. Non-belief is usually unorganized and powerless"


I disagree. The record of scripture shows that non-belief is almost always organized and...powerful.

True believers, contrary to the belief held by some here, have always been the minority. Look at the difference in our country in about twenty years. Who do you think brought about those changes?


"9. Logical contradictions within religions, and between competing religions, contribute to non-belief."

I have constantly sought to look at those contradictions. Granted, some of them I am just not going to be able to "explain." First, because the commentary is not actually considered. Even in issues that are non-biblical, the posting I do is interpreted by many from a basis of bias and hatred. In just the last few days, I have been accused of "not following a conversation, interpreting things strangely, that I would wish my wife to be executed if she committed adultery..."

And that is just in the last few days.

I have constantly stated that the basis of hatred itself is misplaced, and that those who hate Christians would do well to understand what a Christian is before categorizing every group that calls itself "Christian" as actually being representatives of Christ and Christianity. In order to examine this, we would of course have to look at the basis of Christianity, which is the New Testament. No-one is willing to do that.

I have, in one thread, been judged and "convicted" based upon the testimony of another. There is no desire in some other than to villify me and group me into their preconceived notions. There is no desire to look at the actions of some here, and be honest enough to say, "Hey, that is just not right."

But if you wish to look at "logical contradictions," I will be absolutely happy to do so.

But as far as this "commandment" being itself logical, it has to maintain it's definition, which is concerning...religion. I will absolutely agree that contradictions in religion when viewed in light of what scripture teaches...is absolutely true.

A thread touched on the what is truly a logical contradiction, which is glossolalia is not a biblical doctrine, and when I pointed this out as true, the result was first, indignation by one who's family is apparently a part of this movement (and to be honest I think if the conversation had continued, a defense for that movement may have occurred), and two...the thread went silent.

I could have beat on this dead horse, but for the same reason I do not try to get into every thread...I let it go.



10. Contradictions between dogma and action in many religious camps contribute to non-belief


Again, I actually agree. However, what do these "religious camps" have to do with Christianity?

That is the point I try to raise: first understand who it is that in view, then discredit it.

I do not look at all atheists as being the same, having the same reasons for their atheism, nor do I discount all they say because they are atheists.

Can you honestly say that this consideration is extended to me?


(13-10-2011 08:53 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  C. Anything else?

See above. There are many reasons, no one particular one.

(13-10-2011 08:53 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  Just curious... Smile

I can appreciate that. Just don't think that I go through all the threads, cherry picking the things I think I can answer. The threads I have interacted in can be seen in two ways: ones that are of particular interest to me, and ones that I have simply expressed an opinion. How long that thread continues to see my involvement is determined upon one thing: the replies that are responded to by those here.

But, as it is written, I have piped unto you, and ye have not danced.

It seems that no matter what I say, it will be interpreted according to how one hopes to view it. I was recently accused of "spitting nails." This surprised me, as there is seldom an emotional response in the replies. I try hard to avoid that.

I am accused of being "condescending," because I say "I am short on time" or am responding "off the cuff." Yet, it is okay, and applauded when my antagonist has done the same thing.

I do not bring this up because it bothers me (I actually expect it, and it has nothing to do with ones beliefs), but to point out that it seems that honesty in debate takes a backseat to pride.

Okay, again, thanks, Zatamon, for the question. I would ask if this thread was thought to be bait for me, or if you feel as though I have avoided it. I would suggest, in the future, that if there is something you wish to discuss, just let me know. I do not scan the boards searching for questions, so they must be presented directly to me, or they might be missed.

I did not, however, miss a thread called "A Question for ST Ranger," lol. That is as direct as it gets, and I appreciate the directness of approach.

This is far better than insults that are shallowly veiled in responses by some here. What is curious, is that I have witnessed what some would consider to be a Nazi mentality, and though I have not looked at this thread for a while, I did not see anyone say that this person expressed a desire that is opposed to what some atheists represent. Some atheists do have a concern for their fellow man, and would like to see peace in the world, but some have only hatred for a motivation, and when the means justify the end, this is where we see history repeating itself. But the same can be said of any group of people: you will just find some hateful people, and their beliefs concerning God usually have very little to do with it, it is a heart problem.

Hope that answers your question sufficiently.

S,T.
(13-10-2011 08:51 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  ST....I congratulate you on that post. I feel a warmth towards you right at the moment after reading that. You are capable of being "real" and sticking to the topic after all!

Listen, Mark (and let me just clarify that there is absolutely no animosity in my heart for you, and honest expression can sometimes give that impression), while I appreciate the kind words, understand that when it comes to discussion and debate, one thing I am going to demand is honesty. I do not say this because I question the tenor or veracuty of this reply, I am hopeful that you mean what you say here, and that it will open up discussion between us that can actually help us to understand each other. Believe it or not, that is my hope.

But I do have to respond to this in honesty, because there are perhaps a few things I might be able to clarify about myself that might help you to understand me, better.


(13-10-2011 08:51 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Well done! ( I mean it....I'm not being patronising). I will resume corresponding with you if you are interested, (although I'm off to China shortly for 3 weeks). Boy...can I learn from you if you are willing to be as real as you have been just now, and , just maybe, you can learn from me.

Have a safe trip, I hope all goes well with that.

Concerning my "being real" in the last post, I just have to point out that I am the same person in that post that I was when having conversations with you in the past. It may be the fact that I actually have a past that implies that perhaps I am after all, one of you guys (a human being, first and foremost), and perhaps there is a person beyond my faith that you might actually talk to if we ran into one another in the real world, that makes you think conversation between us is actually possible.

All I can say is I have not changed.

One thing I learned ealry on in the trade I am in, is that anyone can learn from anyone. As soon as I learned that lesson, it helped me in my career. So, I hope that you understand that I do not judge what I can learn from someone by deciding who I can learn from. Many of life's lessons come from the most unlikely circumstances and people.

(13-10-2011 08:51 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  BTW, my posts in which I belittled you were not written for my own satisfaction....but for 2 other reasons
1. Believe it or not, I had a hope that if you got offended, you may actually be more likely to get the point I was trying to make.

I am glad that you admit the belittling. Why it was done, well, all will determine for themselves why it was done. I thought about responding to it, but to be honest, here lately that is all I have had to do. While there is a part of me that enjoys this at times, there is a part of me that has to look at the big picture and decide how I will conduct myself.

It is easy to present an outward picture of oneself to those who do not know us, but, we are never completely free from the knowledge of who it is we are in reality, though we can at times persuade even ourselves of things that may not be true.

This thread really had a great tone to it, because within it there is an underlying question for all of us to answer: just how does my "real life" match up to the person I suggest to those here that I am.

Had Defacto centered on this, well, he/she would have touched a much sorer point in my life than what was focused on.

In my defense, who I am here is actually the person I am in real life, but beyond that, let me just say that who I am in truth rarely is known by those who interact with me. My wife alone probably knows me best, apart from God. Most of us will put our best foot forward in accomodating circumstances, but who we really are surfaces only when the heat is on. And I am talking about myself here, Mark...not you.

Anyway, in response to the above statement, I would just ask you to examine your own words. I learned early on when I became active in discussion and debate (and this was learned even before this in the "real world") that there would be those who would seek to extract a desired response from someone by using tactics such as these. We all grow up knowing this. The question for us is this: would we also use such tactics, and how do we justify this as reasonable in our own hearts?

Nevertheless, it happens. I like to think that my response, whether in real life or on the forums, would be one that would be honorable.

You say you offended me in order to make me "get your point." First, let me say that it is my experience that when we talk to people, we have to actually listen. All sides are going to think their "point" is the correct one, but that does not negate a responsibility to actually listen, lest we fall into the error of not examining our own basis for that particular "point."

Here is a suggestion: the next time you have a conversation with someone where there is an opposing view (and I mean in real life), watch that person, and see if you can recognize that they will usually be ready to make their next statement...before you have even finished making yours. Just give it a shot.

(13-10-2011 08:51 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  2. I thought I could sense that some of my fellow atheists were getting very frustrated with you, and that upset me, and I wanted to protect them ( in reality though they are quite capable of looking after themselves).

But let me ask you: was your desire to defend them based solely on the belief that they were right in what they were saying, or was it a "don't pick on my little brother" kind of reaction?

Basically, was the content of the discussion considered, or was it just a defense for the sake of defending friends.

Think about that.

Apart from that, I would suggest that when we seek to defend others, we cannot do so if their actions or deeds are not defensible. Some of the conversations may concern opinion only, but some have to do with what even a secular society would consider to be right and wrong. And to defend someone that is not being honest is not something I would do, whether they are Christian or atheist.

Nor would I purposefully make derisive statements about anyone, just for the sake of a point.

(13-10-2011 08:51 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  So, ST, what I would like from you, if you would be so real, is to criticise me from your perspective if you think I deserve it.

Sorry, but not interested. All this talk about passive agression is just a smokescreen. Not only that, but the hypocrisy is telling. I am not interested in "criticizing" you, Mark, because I don't know you. If you were my neighbor and you had a habit of doing things that irritated me, perhaps I would criticize you. But not because you are an atheist. Can you find one post where I questioned you intelligence based upon your beliefs?

What I will do, though, is I will discuss issues with you, and let you determine if I am criticizing you...or the subject matter presented. There is a difference. I will criticize conclusions that can be shown to have erronous factors. I will criticize offensive statements, half truths, and full blown lies.

But you, sorry. I think it possible that you would enjoy this. Not trying to deprive you of an opportunity here, but I will continue responding in the same manner as I have since coming here.

I try not to give in to emotional response and personal comments. When I do, I recommend that I be called on it...this will only help me in my growth.

(13-10-2011 08:51 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  And...please....correct me if you feel I have got something wrong.

No worries there...lol.


(13-10-2011 08:51 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I have a strong and genuine desire to understand how the average Christian thinks...

Actually, I thnk that you do, and this is one of the reasons you have such a low opinion of them. And understand, I affirm that I am an "average Christian." There is really nothing special about me. I am average in knowledge, average in application, and average in just about everything I do.

Scripture categorizes growth in believers this way: fathers, young men, and children. I would consider myself to be lucky for someone to think I have achieved a "young man" maturity level, as I myself think that I would still probably be in the "children group."

I know much of this may seem contrary, but I have to be honest about how I feel when I respond.




(13-10-2011 08:51 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I'm full of my own opinions, and that is dangerous.

I hope you truly believe this. It is dangerous, and we have to differentiate between our opinions and what we feel with things that cannot be denied.

And all I have tried to do since I have been here is give honest answers to the questions posed. I have specified when opinion is involved, I believe.

How the conversations go depend upon both sides, though. Just as you openly admit in this post, many here have sought to put me on the defensive in order to lead the resulting outcome, which I would venture a guess that usually results in loss of control on the part of the one attacked. I have an advantage in that having been very much like those here before conversion, and my daily interaction with those who would fit right in here, I am used to much that might leave some flabbergasted, such as the use of foul language, for instance. And look, I could care less if it is used, but I wonder if this cannot be seen as a tactic used. If that has been considered.


(13-10-2011 08:51 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  You can help...because you're a rather full on Christian.

I have a long way to go.

I just want to say, I appreciate the offer to reopen discussion, and that I am greatly interested in this. I would ask that the honesty expressed here be included in that conversation, and that debating tactics not be part of them.

S.T.
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13-10-2011, 11:16 AM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
Thank you S.T. for your answer. I believe it to be genuine. I'm not sure you absolutely kept to the qualifications, but who gives a damn; it wasn't about legalism, it's about being real. You did a nice job of being "the person" and I thank you for taking part! I think I will stop being a jackass now. Although... Have you heard the fable about the frog who gives a stranded scorpion a ride across the river?

For the minimalists here, may I summarize your answer? I'll try:

Quote:S.T Wrote:
...to answer the question, "Why do you believe in God." The truth is, I have always believed intellectually in God.

-----Through a series of life experiences, you conclude that:

Quote:S.T Wrote:
I believe in the Christian faith because I have a belief that God gave the Bible to man, that he might know God.

Defacto7, over and out.

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13-10-2011, 11:18 AM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(13-10-2011 11:16 AM)defacto7 Wrote:  Thank you S.T. for your answer. I believe it to be genuine. I'm not sure you absolutely kept to the qualifications, but who gives a damn; it wasn't about legalism, it's about being real. You did a nice job of being "the person" and I thank you for taking part! I think I will stop being a jackass now. Although... Have you heard the fable about the frog who gives a stranded scorpion a ride across the river?

For the minimalists here, may I summarize your answer? I'll try:

Quote:S.T Wrote:
...to answer the question, "Why do you believe in God." The truth is, I have always believed intellectually in God.

-----Through a series of life experiences, you conclude that:

Quote:S.T Wrote:
I believe in the Christian faith because I have a belief that God gave the Bible to man, that he might know God.

Defacto7, over and out.

Just wanted to say thanks for this response.

S.T.
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13-10-2011, 11:54 AM (This post was last modified: 13-10-2011 12:03 PM by defacto7.)
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(13-10-2011 11:18 AM)S.T. Ranger Wrote:  Just wanted to say thanks for this response.
S.T.

My Pleasure.

For fun I wanted to share that fable... I just paraphrased it.

----------------------------
The Scorpion and the Frog

There was a flood and a scorpion became trapped on a small island. As a frog swam by, the scorpion yelled out to him, "Please! Frog, Save me. I am stranded here on this island and will surely die." The frog replied, "But you are a scorpion. If I save you, you will surely kill me afterward." With all sincerity, the scorpion said, "I swear with all honor as a scorpion, I will not strike you." The frog, being kindhearted, took the scorpion on his back and began the swim across the river. Half way across, the scorpion struck the frog a deadly blow. As the frog began to sink in the throws of death, he spoke to the scorpion, "Why? Why did you break your word? For now we will both surely perish. The scorpion said in a downcast voice, "I am sorry frog for striking you, but I was compelled to do it. For how can I control that which is in my nature to do?"


All the best, S.T.

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13-10-2011, 03:52 PM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(13-10-2011 09:43 AM)lucradis Wrote:  Zatamon you sneak.

I know we are not supposed to criticize the answer, because it is a personal thing, and I don't want to belittle someones opinion when it does not hurt anyone.

That doesn't mean I won't say... This is the most common story of an I was an atheist I swear and then god, story EVER. Not to say it didn't happen or that it isn't true.

All I'm saying, and this isn't a critique, just and observation, is that every single story like this one is roughly the same. I was a rebel (but still believed in god) I rebelled (but didn't do so in a way that was constructive, like reading or researching, or asking questions) I went to church as a lark but then I felt god, or knew that god was true ( for some indeterminable reason) and I looked back on my life and realized I didn't want it to be that way anymore (why people need god for this I don't get) and so I started reading the bible and it all made sense to me. I felt god as my life started to turn around in a positive way (convenient that god is never that supportive when things aren't going so well) and now without doing any scientific research of any sort I am convinced that god is real, the bible is truth and jesus is my savior.

I just don't get it, but its so unbelievably common. I can explain so much of this in realistic terms. One reason you feel "god" when things start to get better is associations that you have created for yourself. Timing is a convenient thing, but it isn't holy. I'm sure there are countless times when someone has prayed to god in church to keep their kids safe and happy, only to have them killed after church services in a car accident. Things will invariably get better for someone who is addicted to drugs or currently spiraling out of control due to reckless behavior, if you know they stop... and joining a church is like joining a family no doubt about it. You get wonderful support (so long as you conform) and a helping hand. It's not god directly doing those things, it's people forming a community that helps itself. Take god out of the equation and it's still a great thing. However see how long they support you when you turn from god. The bible seeming true thing is more than likely a lack of education in science. Or history.. real history not bible history.

I'm all for people growing up, and leaving reckless irresponsible behavior behind them, I just think it's shaky ground when you rest your morality and dependance on the love and trust of something that probably doesn't exist and is completely unprovable. It's like those guys who say that if it weren't for the bibles morality why wouldn't we go around raping people and murdering (despite the bibles sanctioned rape and murder I guess... ) these people I can only assume, would do bad things if it weren't for fear of eternal damnation. I don't do bad things because I wouldn't want them done to me. So what happens if one of these clowns suddenly doesn't believe in god? I guess murder? So what happens to alcoholics who are taught to believe in god during AA meetings (don't agree with this by the by) then go out and have something terrible happen that makes them not believe anymore? Back to drinking. When it would be so much better if they came to the decision to stop drinking themselves, for themselves. Like why I don't kill everyone. Not that i don't want to, but I won't and it isn't thanks to the bloody (literally) bible.

Sorry. Good story though S.T.
We haven't conversed as of yet, but now you'll know I rant a lot. It's kind of my thing. I literally had to stop myself from typing more.

Lucradis, I agree with you 100%. I was going to get around to putting the same argument to ST, and hope he will give a real answer....oh....there he is....this will be interesting....
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