My religious history and the one argument I have trouble with
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08-02-2011, 10:05 AM (This post was last modified: 09-02-2011 10:07 AM by LeighJones.)
My religious history and the one argument I have trouble with
Hey guys, help me out? Feel free to skip the first segment, what follows is just my religious background, perhaps it will give you a better perspective, allowing to better answer my question or just provide an interesting read, not strictly necessary (I've bolded the segment where you should start reading from should you choose to skip my history)...

I was raised a catholic went to catholic schools, though in primary school I never learnt much about 'my' religion, only really being exposed to the stories (you know, some adam and eve here... a flood there... Jesus loves you... the good Samaritan...the prodical son, mostly in story book form).

Then in high school r.e classes we started actually reading the bible (The good news bible), but still the Mathew Mark Luke and John stuff. I don't want to sound arrogant but I always was ahead of the class in most everything (everything except spelling) and very quickly I had finished the gospels, well before anyone else had. So I read ahead, hopping straight to the 'fun' bits, revelations! Like any typical young teen I was into my violent movies, violent video games, fantasy or sci-fi with a good war or two, an epic struggle. Before actually reading revelations I had the idea of it being an epic story, a great war, with the 4 horsemen, Satan and the antichrist being the antagonists and the few chosen people struggling, and against all odds, coming out victorious. But when I actually came to read it... god was it dreary... god was it bizarre!

For starters it shook me just how strange all the events were, many eyed monsters eternally praising god... Jesus being the one to release the horsemen, death, war famine and pestilence... THIS was God's plan? He's omnipotent, can do anything, and this is what he's going to do‽ Couldn't he just banish Satan and his ilk? Why MUST they rule for a while? It didn't fit with my idea of an all loving and all powerful being... something was amiss...

After revelations I started from the start, Genesis (though i skipped quite a lot whenever it got boring, genealogy, useless rules that no longer applied...). I read through that, buying it as more of a metaphor than literal truth (I used to have a laugh with, ok so it's Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, now what?) but no problems so far.

In exodus I was quite moved by Moses' tale, never reaching the promised land himself. The heart hardening never registered as being off to me, but the firstborn slaying made me feel ill, though it was only the beginning. Boy was I in for a shock. I can't remember just which bit it was, some part in Joshua I think, but the Israelites, under God's orders or under his name (and in the bible, so with his stamp of approval) were slaughtering people who's only crime was to settle in what I imagined was a rather appealing land (it was after all the promised land, I had imagined a second Eden). And for this transgression they were slaughtered, the men, the women, the children and the babies (It wasn't the one where they took the young girls for themselves)

I couldn't believe it! I lost all faith in the goodness of God (whilst still believing he existed) and for a while toyed with the idea that everybody had it completely backwards. Look at Satan, he appears 4 times as far as I could tell. The first time he gives us free will, the second he messes with ONE man's life (and only with God's permission), the third he 'tempts' jesus with the world... I didn't get it, Jesus = God, Satan's not even trying, he's just going through the motions. The fourth time I discounted due to it being in revelations and not at all reliable, and also due to it being a prophesy of things yet to happen, the other 3 were things that had already happened.

So I believed that Satan was in fact the good guy of the story, just with really bad press coverage and that God was an evil dictator (keeping this to myself of course, I was after all in a catholic family and school). Eventually I came to the realization that it was all baloney, nothing in the bible could be trusted. I still had a belief in a force of pure good and a force of pure evil. Though they became less anthropomorphic. They had transcended such petty things as gender.

I stopped caring about the issue after that, thought about a few different idea's, was pantheistic for a while (Though I didn't know the term initially). Then 'agnostic' in that I simply "didn't know". Throughout this period though i was becoming more and more anti-theistic, seeing the evils of religion, particularly the catholic church (And the nut jobs over in America, didn't realise that we had them over here in Australia as well). I became more interested in the topic and found that I was actually an agnostic atheist.

START READING AGAIN HERE!

The one thing that gets me is the first cause problem, it seems to me to be equally perplexing to the atheist and the theist depending on how it is applied. What caused the big bang? * scientific answer here*, Ok so what caused that to exist or be able to happen *answer here*... to infinity?

Whilst the theists must struggle with "Ok so a god caused the big bang, what caused the god?"

The god can't always existed, because he (bad habit I know, just can't be bothered always typing he/she/it, but its what I mean) was just floating around in nothing for an eternity before creating the universe (why wait 17 bagillion, trillion, quadrillion years only to make a universe 15 billion, or 6 thousand, years ago? What did he do before then? Twiddle his thumbs? What was his purpose?) and you can't just plead a special case for God, him being the one exception.

I know, I know, time gets funny as you approach the big bang/crunch, and before then? It gets REALLY weird. I still have the concept of time or something like it in my mind...

I'm not moving towards theism (No chance in hell!) but the first cause issue (primarily) is causing me to re-evaluate my position. I'm still agnostic, I don't believe that we are capable of knowing for certain (not yet anyway) but I don't know if I can call myself an atheist when I judge other explanations to be reasonably likely (double digit figures). I did think pantheism and deism to be contenders, but they both had logical flaws, but pandeism* (the merger of deism and pantheism, the bits that mesh anyway, not the all religions are one concept)... Well I'm finding it rather convincing. Some versions are particularly appealing (I know, I know, not any indication whatsoever of whether or not it is true, but I would/do get to feel smug. I did have to think long and hard to sort that out, just because I want it to be true, doesn't make it so, I didn't want to make that elementary mistake) and it can solve the issues of purpose with deism, and solves the issues of cause with pantheism, to a degree anyway (at least moves it one step back, the first cause is still an issue). And the panda jokes are great!

IF there is/was a god, the pandeistic one seems to me to be one of the few logical choices (for existing). It makes the fewest assumptions (or at least the most reasonable ones). I do feel however that due to my issues with causes I might judging it to be more likely than it really is. I need you to help me out with causes, and to present counter arguments! Its the only way for me to learn!

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Pandeism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandeism

for the Lols: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Us.../Pandeism, tvtropes WILL ruin your life, mwuhoohahahaha!

*panendeism as well, to a degree.
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08-02-2011, 10:20 AM
 
RE: My religious history and the one argument I have trouble with
My thoughts on this topic are simplistic (probably too simplistic for your tastes). Once you reject the Biblical God in all his various forms what does any understanding of the ultimate beginning mean to your current situation? No matter what the answer is all YOU can do is live, nothing else. Could it give you some strange level of comfort in dealing with mortality, maybe. However realistically no answer will be satisfactory to you anyway, so just live, and then die. Then let us all know how it all turned out ;-)
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08-02-2011, 10:52 AM (This post was last modified: 08-02-2011 10:56 AM by Kikko.)
RE: My religious history and the one argument I have trouble with
Quote:What caused the big bang?
Dunno. I don't think anyone knows, and by that I mean nobody. One can make shit up or believe in something, but that's not knowing. Speculating about deism and pandeism is useless without any observations to ''justify'' the views with.

Correct me when I'm wrong.
Accept me or go to hell.
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08-02-2011, 11:06 AM
RE: My religious history and the one argument I have trouble with
I don't know is acceptable to atheists. We don't need an absolute answer to everything.
As our knowledge increases we replace the unknown with the known.
Theism starts off with an absolute being that gave them an imperfect book that doesn't match reality.
I recommend you read "The Grand Design" by Stephen Hawking.It should help you out in debates and answer your question.

Atheism is a religion like OFF is a TV channel !!!

Proud of my genetic relatives Big Grin
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08-02-2011, 11:07 AM
RE: My religious history and the one argument I have trouble with
Hey, LeighJones.

I always begin with a simple premise. Existence makes no logical sense.

Nothing makes my brain shut down more than thinking about things like: is the universe infinite, if so, what does infinite mean? Is it finite, if so what exists outside of it? Are there multiple universes, if so, what lies between them? What does it mean to have the laws of the universe breakdown near a singularity? If there's only one universe, what did existence mean before it existed? Did time exist before existence or did it start with existence? What, if not space-time? Is there such thing as obliveon and if so, how did something emerge from nothing?

The list of mind benders goes on and on. For myself, I just accept that as a relatively simple biological organism, one of billions, on a little ball of muck and water in a backwater part of a spiral galaxy in a backwater part of the universe, I probably have the same chance of understanding existence in all of its intricacy as an amoeba has of figuring out why the hell Sex in the City is popular.

For me, it's all right to be agnostic. It's all right to say, I don't know and that I'm not actually capable of knowing.

So, to get to your questions. I try to follow Stephen Hawkings work a little, but I have to admit, he's way out of my league. So I follow as a layman. I think that for a long time he didn't rule out God, but that he recently made a discovery that in his mind negated the need for God. So he's pretty close to unravelling a great deal about the big bang. I don't think that he or anyone else has made too much progress into the question of, what did existence mean before the big bang?

In terms of what caused God, I think we're shit out of luck on that one, because, as I rambled on about initially, we don't really have a concept for what existence could mean outside of our universe or outside of universes. It seems logical to me that if God came before the universe then God exists(ed) in that whateverthehellelse that came before this universe and therefore is subject to the realities there. So perhaps God being created doesn't even apply. It's pure speculation that doesn't even have the benefit of being an educated guess.

This brings me to my favourite realisation about life. The funniest joke in the universe is that nobody has a clue.

As far as God's activity prior to our universe, who knows? Maybe God has been making universes for eternity. Maybe eternity doesn't exist. Maybe God is existence and that includes all realities that exist outside of our universe. Maybe we are all cells in God's body. Maybe there are a trillion trillion Gods. Point is, until we have some concept of what being outside of this universe is, we'll have no concept of God outside of what we think God can do in and to this universe.

As far as not being able to call yourself an Atheist, I am right with you. That being said, the deffinition is pretty hotly defended around here. So you'll likely be branded an Atheist whether you like it or not.

I took a gander at pandeism. I'm curious. Could you go into more detail about your thoughs about what pandeism is about right about now? (note: I'm Canadian, so not only did I use about alot, it sounded like aboot).

I think, and I think this slightly mirrors Dregs, that ultimately, it's impossible to know if there is or isn't a God or to know what God's all about. But what we do know is that people believe or have disbelief in God and the ramafications of that on our lives is observable and knowable. So if you're looking for ultimate truth, I'd say you're shit out of luck. If you're looking for something that makes sense to you and that helps you interact with the world around you, you seem to be doing fine.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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08-02-2011, 11:19 AM
 
RE: My religious history and the one argument I have trouble with
Hello, Leigh. Smile

I don't have any answers regarding first cause, but I did have a question regarding your post. You stated that you are finding "[pandeism] rather convincing". How is it convincing you? What evidence suggests to you that pandeism might be real?

Also, I can't help but notice how you phrase your interest in pandeism--"IF there is/was a god, the pandeistic one seems to me to be one of the few logical choices (for existing)."

In all my life, I've never seen so much as a suggestion of proof for the existence of god; I think I'd be getting a little ahead of myself were I to begin theorizing what sort of god that might or might not be. If there were any evidence, the evidence itself would likely give us a glimmer into the nature of the thing.

Likewise, I've not seen any evidence to support pandeism or pantheism either (though perhaps you have, which is why I asked). It is fun to philosophize, to argue "if this were to be, it might be this, or maybe this", but I don't find it a logical action to form a belief system around such arguments.
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08-02-2011, 12:25 PM
RE: My religious history and the one argument I have trouble with
(08-02-2011 10:05 AM)LeighJones Wrote:  The one thing that gets me is the first cause problem, it seems to me to be equally perplexing to the atheist and the theist depending on how it is applied. What caused the big bang? * scientific answer here*, Ok so what caused that to exist or be able to happen *answer here*... to infinity?

The rebuttal is "Why does there need to be a cause?".

The theist will respond with "nothing exists without a cause".

RESPONSE: "How do you know?"
THEIST: "Everything in this universe has a cause."
RESPONSE: "Now you're repeating yourself. What's your evidence?"
THEIST: "Are you saying there's no such thing as causality?"
RESPONSE: "No. Just that things don't come into existence. Conservation of mass and energy and all that."
THEIST: "Ah! But there has to be a cause for the things which are here!"
RESPONSE: "How do you know?"
THEIST: ...

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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08-02-2011, 02:00 PM (This post was last modified: 08-02-2011 02:15 PM by Observer.)
RE: My religious history and the one argument I have trouble with
(08-02-2011 10:05 AM)LeighJones Wrote:  The god can't always existed, because he was just floating around in nothing for an eternity before creating the universe (why wait 17 bagillion, trillion, quadrillion years only to make a universe 6 billion, or 6 thousand, years ago? What did he do before then? Twiddle his thumbs?
ROFL Big Grin
This one is incredibly funny! I am going to remember that one!
More seriously...
If pandeism is your way to cope with life's questions you should go with it. You won't harm anyone with your own believes or by sharing your believes. If however you think your point of view has more credit then other views, I feel you are on a wrong track. Seems that you are not so much an atheist, more a freethinker.

Observer

Agnostic atheist
Secular humanist
Emotional rationalist
Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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08-02-2011, 03:04 PM
 
RE: My religious history and the one argument I have trouble with
I agree with Unbeliever that there is no logical need for a cause. If energy has always been, then that is where things start and end. This does not make a god out of energy, but it does put reality to the fact that Aristotelian first causes highlight the limitations of our own abilities to conceive our universe, and not any necessity for first causes that will justify our rational assumptions.
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08-02-2011, 04:44 PM
RE: My religious history and the one argument I have trouble with
Hey.

I was just wondering, could either Unbeliever or Kthulu could explain to me why there doesn't need to be a cause?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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