Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 1 Votes - 5 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
15-11-2013, 02:54 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(11-11-2013 01:40 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  
(10-11-2013 12:24 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  What are your thoughts on prayer?

The concept doesn't make much sense. The idea is that:
  • Things are happening, and
  • God is in charge of these things, and
  • These things are going to keep happening unless you ask God to change his mind.

I think how you've defined prayer is precisely the reason there can be so much hurt, doubt, and questions about it. Prayer isn't about asking for something and (hopefully) get something in return. Prayer is meant to be about communication with God- not just petitioning, but thanking, praising etc. I often think that the reason prayer comes up so much is because over the past few decades we've got this mentality, under prosperity theology, of 'IF God is this THEN He should do/give me that'; as if our lives are balance sheets that God has to keep up to date (I went to church therefore give me a promotion). And the whole time you're supposed to feel warm fuzzies or something like that. I blame the teaching og sloppy theology here, not God.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-11-2013, 03:20 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(15-11-2013 02:54 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  
(11-11-2013 01:40 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  The concept doesn't make much sense. The idea is that:
  • Things are happening, and
  • God is in charge of these things, and
  • These things are going to keep happening unless you ask God to change his mind.

I think how you've defined prayer is precisely the reason there can be so much hurt, doubt, and questions about it. Prayer isn't about asking for something and (hopefully) get something in return. Prayer is meant to be about communication with God- not just petitioning, but thanking, praising etc. I often think that the reason prayer comes up so much is because over the past few decades we've got this mentality, under prosperity theology, of 'IF God is this THEN He should do/give me that'; as if our lives are balance sheets that God has to keep up to date (I went to church therefore give me a promotion). And the whole time you're supposed to feel warm fuzzies or something like that. I blame the teaching og sloppy theology here, not God.

Then someone needs to tell God to remove the parts in Mathew that can be oh-so-easily interpreted as just that way.

7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.


That sounds explicitly like 'pray for it, and if you truly believe, it'll be yours', and not so much 'have a chat and praise god'. Also, isn't praying to an omniscient god redundant? Doesn't he already know your thoughts? So what's the point of getting on your knees and saying it out loud? That sound like it's for the benefit of the one making the prayer more so than for the one who is supposedly receiving it...

[Image: GrumpyCat_01.gif]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 3 users Like EvolutionKills's post
15-11-2013, 04:27 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(15-11-2013 03:20 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Then someone needs to tell God to remove the parts in Mathew that can be oh-so-easily interpreted as just that way.
I completely agree, it can be oh-so-easy to rush to hasty interpretations. I'm not picking on you here, I think it's a common mistake of atheists and theists in reading into something what you want it to say. I've had a bit of a study on the verses you picked out and while I'm not as good at phrasing as some writers, I'll try and answer them as simply and well as I can. Smile

(15-11-2013 03:20 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

To make sense of this passage you have to take in v7-12. Jesus isn't saying 'ask for whatever you want and get it.' It's saying that if we ask or seek in faith for the good things which the Father would give, then we will receive. In other words, God will not grant something that is harmful to us or contrary to the goodness of God's nature. Imagine if every spur of the moment prayer given in spite or anger against someone was granted just because we were persistent in it. If you look back through the sermon on the mount (of which this is a part), it's talking about cultivating Godly qualities in your life- things that should be asked for. I guess what defines how people interpret this passage is the question 'what are [/i]you[i] looking for?'


(15-11-2013 03:20 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Now, I'm going to say here that I can't answer everything about this passage (don;t have my commentaries to hand at the moment). However, I think again you have to look at it in context. At the start of 21 Jesus has entered Jerusalem. v12-17 Jesus cleanses the Temple in response to the activity going on there and is criticised by the priests and teachers. Jesus is not very impressed and goes to spend the night in Bethany.

So now we're up to your passage. After the fig tree is withered and his disciples amazed (surprising since he was healing on the day prior), we get into the faith, mountains and asking business. It's possible that Jesus when he referred to the 'mountain' he was referring to the Temple Mount- remember he'd just witnessed hypocrisy and lack of faith there the day before. Now Jesus is telling the disciples the importance of true faith and belief and that it's only through this that God will answer requests. Unlike approaching it as 'hi God, haven't talked to you in a while but I need this sorted and you said once that if I ask I'll get it,' it's about asking in the right mindset, for the right things (like the first passage)- opposite to what's going on in the Temple.

(15-11-2013 03:20 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  That sounds explicitly like 'pray for it, and if you truly believe, it'll be yours', and not so much 'have a chat and praise god'. Also, isn't praying to an omniscient god redundant? Doesn't he already know your thoughts? So what's the point of getting on your knees and saying it out loud? That sound like it's for the benefit of the one making the prayer more so than for the one who is supposedly receiving it...
Well first of all,the the model prayer which Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew 6 begins with praise, petition for daily needs and petition of spiritual needs, so yes you could say prayer is 'praise God and have a chat.'

Secondly, no it isn't redundant. Of course God knows your thoughts but the point of prayer is that it's communication between two relational beings. A husband or wife may know their spouse's love for them- might know their fears, and worries, joys and wants- but that doesn't make the stating of them redundant. Prayer is about recognising God and not just assuming He'll sit in a corner until you have something for Him to do for you.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-11-2013, 04:58 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(15-11-2013 04:27 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  
(15-11-2013 03:20 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Then someone needs to tell God to remove the parts in Mathew that can be oh-so-easily interpreted as just that way.
I completely agree, it can be oh-so-easy to rush to hasty interpretations. I'm not picking on you here, I think it's a common mistake of atheists and theists in reading into something what you want it to say. I've had a bit of a study on the verses you picked out and while I'm not as good at phrasing as some writers, I'll try and answer them as simply and well as I can. Smile

Gotta love how the all-knowing creator of the universe was incapable of inspiring a book with plain writing, opting instead for one that requires (and is so easily subject to contrary) interpretation.


(15-11-2013 04:27 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  
(15-11-2013 03:20 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

To make sense of this passage you have to take in v7-12. Jesus isn't saying 'ask for whatever you want and get it.' It's saying that if we ask or seek in faith for the good things which the Father would give, then we will receive. In other words, God will not grant something that is harmful to us or contrary to the goodness of God's nature. Imagine if every spur of the moment prayer given in spite or anger against someone was granted just because we were persistent in it. If you look back through the sermon on the mount (of which this is a part), it's talking about cultivating Godly qualities in your life- things that should be asked for. I guess what defines how people interpret this passage is the question 'what are [/i]you[i] looking for?'

Unless God's nature changed after he had the kid, God had no qualms with answering prayers that resulted in harmful consequences; indeed the Old Testament is full of them. So in light of that, how can you justify your selective interpretation of your God's will? You can look at the Sermon on the Mount and quote Jesus 'meek and mild' while I can go through and pull out all of the examples of xenophobia and genocide; all of which are attributed to the same God. So now it's a push. How do you get from that to "God will not grant something that is harmful to us or contrary to the goodness of God's nature"? Is it the same nature that supposedly drowned the whole world?

This is where us doubters have trouble, because even in context, it makes little to no sense. You can limit the passage to the few verses before and after; but taken as a whole your claims to your God's nature and will are seemingly contradictory at best, and nonsensical at worst.


(15-11-2013 04:27 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  
(15-11-2013 03:20 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Now, I'm going to say here that I can't answer everything about this passage (don;t have my commentaries to hand at the moment). However, I think again you have to look at it in context. At the start of 21 Jesus has entered Jerusalem. v12-17 Jesus cleanses the Temple in response to the activity going on there and is criticised by the priests and teachers. Jesus is not very impressed and goes to spend the night in Bethany.

So now we're up to your passage. After the fig tree is withered and his disciples amazed (surprising since he was healing on the day prior), we get into the faith, mountains and asking business. It's possible that Jesus when he referred to the 'mountain' he was referring to the Temple Mount- remember he'd just witnessed hypocrisy and lack of faith there the day before. Now Jesus is telling the disciples the importance of true faith and belief and that it's only through this that God will answer requests. Unlike approaching it as 'hi God, haven't talked to you in a while but I need this sorted and you said once that if I ask I'll get it,' it's about asking in the right mindset, for the right things (like the first passage)- opposite to what's going on in the Temple.

Funny how a supposedly limitless God requires that we have the 'right' thoughts, act in the 'right' way, and if we ask for the 'right' thing, then he might grant them to us? Of course, this is only one 'possible' explanation. Another being that if you want to up-sell your particular brand of imaginary best friend, having one that give away free shit is a plus. So it could be allegory about the Jewish Temple (in which case, poor fig tree), or it could be propaganda that has all the intellectual honesty of a dishwasher soap commercial.

I know which one seems more likely to me.


(15-11-2013 04:27 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  
(15-11-2013 03:20 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  That sounds explicitly like 'pray for it, and if you truly believe, it'll be yours', and not so much 'have a chat and praise god'. Also, isn't praying to an omniscient god redundant? Doesn't he already know your thoughts? So what's the point of getting on your knees and saying it out loud? That sound like it's for the benefit of the one making the prayer more so than for the one who is supposedly receiving it...
Well first of all,the the model prayer which Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew 6 begins with praise, petition for daily needs and petition of spiritual needs, so yes you could say prayer is 'praise God and have a chat.'

Secondly, no it isn't redundant. Of course God knows your thoughts but the point of prayer is that it's communication between two relational beings. A husband or wife may know their spouse's love for them- might know their fears, and worries, joys and wants- but that doesn't make the stating of them redundant. Prayer is about recognising God and not just assuming He'll sit in a corner until you have something for Him to do for you.

Except you can't telepathically communicate with your spouse, you are not intimately aware of their entire existence down to the smallest aspect of being. Your God is, and 'He' could (if 'He' chose to) share that awareness with all of us at all times. To the best of my knowledge, 'He' has not done so. It's not about him sitting in a corner until needed, it's that he has no perceptible verifiable affect on reality whatsoever. Your God is, in practical terms, identical in every way to an non-existent God who also doesn't answer prayer.

So in light of this, why pray? Because it's ritual and dogma, all of which are supported by entirely human needs and desires. Solidarity, power, tradition, corruption, happiness, consolation, control, etc. No God is required to explain why people pray, or why it doesn't work.

[Image: GrumpyCat_01.gif]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-11-2013, 05:44 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(15-11-2013 04:58 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Gotta love how the all-knowing creator of the universe was incapable of inspiring a book with plain writing, opting instead for one that requires (and is so easily subject to contrary) interpretation.
I can agree in part to your first point here. But let's remember that we're dealing not only with a translated text but some of the baggage that comes with past misinterpretations of it. That's why I always come back to context and new scholarship to help me understand it. We always have to come back to the text to make sure that we are always aware of what we're saying. You might have picked up that I hate the 1 or 2 verse approach for either feel good cards Christian cards or biblical criticism by atheists. I don't have a problem with people saying 'this verse seems to say this and I think therefore that God is evil.' As long as you can back it up with something other than 'I got this out of the Message paraphrase translation.' Show me more than verse against verse. Show me cultural context, original word meanings, current interpretation, and at least then you'll be giving yourself something to work with. And come on, even though I did limit the verses, at least I gave it more context than you did Wink


(15-11-2013 04:58 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Funny how a supposedly limitless God requires that we have the 'right' thoughts, act in the 'right' way, and if we ask for the 'right' thing, then he might grant them to us?
Again, I think we're both seeing it completely different. You seem to see God in terms of sin and guilt. Blind obedience or punishment. I was certainly raised, and taught again at uni, that the ministry of Jesus was promoting a relationship between God and man. So if I want to live in the will of God, then my behaviour will naturally become that. It's not a matter of having to all of a sudden switch into 'God mode' within 50ft of a church and switch back as soon as the service is over. Neither is it a matter of having to 'beg' something from God. Often I think, and again this might be a bad influence by some more charismatic churches, but those who acknowledge a God (even if just for the sake of argument) seem to place man in the position of authority, and man who defines how God should treat us. Never really sat right with me somehow.


(15-11-2013 04:58 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  It's not about him sitting in a corner until needed, it's that he has no perceptible verifiable affect on reality whatsoever. Your God is, in practical terms, identical in every way to an non-existent God who also doesn't answer prayer.
'To the best of my knowledge.' Exactly. To tell you the truth I'm glad you seem to fall more into the 'prayer is completely pointless' camp and not the 'God as a vending machine' one. More solid position I think. That said, both our sides rely on how we see God's nature and we each think the other is reading the text wrong and aren't very willing to be convinced otherwise!
Oh dear, I don't think we're going to agree on much, are we? No
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-11-2013, 06:14 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
If God's not a vending machine, when someone is cured of their disease or has something good happen to them, why do people call it answered prayer ? Why are people upset when things don't go their way, and say stuff like "We need to pray for X, he's in need" ?

Are these people wrong, according to you ?

You said prayer was for praising God... do you then not make requests of God yourself ?

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-11-2013, 08:30 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
1. Why does God answer the prayers of some people and not others? I've seen many good, honest people pray to God to help them and their prayers never got answered. That simply means that some people are more special in the eyes of God than others. I don't like that idea at all.

2. If God is all-powerful, all-seeing, and all-knowing, and helps people, then why did he not help students of mine that were being neglected, as well as physically, verbally, and (worst of all) sexually abused, even though I have reported it every time? Certainly anybody with morals who has the power to stop that from happening would not let it happen.

3. If the Bible is the word of God, then how come there is so much inaccuracy and immoral garbage in there (such as a child not obeying their parents to be stoned to death, or God sending a bear to kill a bunch of kids who were making fun of a guy for being bald)?

4. If the Bible is the word of God, then why is it not allowed to be questioned? If it's true it should be able to stand up to any questioning that is thrown at it, no?

5. If Christianity is the one true path - and we are all God's children - then why is it that two-thirds of the world's population is not Christian? Again, this means that some people are more special in the eyes of God than others.

Christians have never answered these questions for me. They merely change the subject, or most of the time result to personal attacks instead of answering the question. Of course, insulting others is the path that Jesus (the guy who said to love your neighbor and turn the other cheek) would take, because those loving Christians are followers of him and his teachings.

“Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.” - Mark Twain
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-11-2013, 01:07 PM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(15-11-2013 06:14 AM)morondog Wrote:  If God's not a vending machine, when someone is cured of their disease or has something good happen to them, why do people call it answered prayer ? Why are people upset when things don't go their way, and say stuff like "We need to pray for X, he's in need" ?

Are these people wrong, according to you ?

You said prayer was for praising God... do you then not make requests of God yourself ?

I guess I meant vending machine because of what I wrote above about a relational God. A vending machine is an impersonal transaction- you put the right amount of money in, you get something out. I think that's sometimes how people see prayer. 'I've gone to church, said my prayers, fed the homeless, been faithful to my wife, therefore this is my due God, you owe me.' Prayer is first of all about regular communication with God- how many relationships would last if the only time two people communicated were when they could get something out of the other that they wanted?

So no, those people aren't wrong in my eyes. The big struggle that people have- and I've gone through this myself- is that in reality all prayer is answered, we just might not like the answer. To answer for myself in the question you posed I guess it comes down to trust.

And yes prayer is about both praising and asking of God. But again, look at the model prayer Jesus gave his disciples where it has both. For me there has to be a balance. On the one hand, yes I have the freedom to ask God for things , but there also has the recognition that I'm talking to God and therefore might not fully understand or like the answer.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
16-11-2013, 06:51 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
So... you are allowed to ask God to do stuff, but he might refuse the request. The way that you know it's been refused is... if what you asked for doesn't happen. The way that you know the request has been granted, is if what you asked for does happen. At the same time, perhaps what you asked for did happen, but you didn't recognize it as the answer to your prayer.

Am I correct in my understanding of how prayer works, according to you ?

Because this is kinda my understanding of the way it works as it was explained to me back in the day. And my reasoning for rejecting this explanation is the feeling that things just happen and people *ascribe* their happening to the agency of a God.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
16-11-2013, 07:05 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(15-11-2013 01:07 PM)Yasmin Wrote:  
(15-11-2013 06:14 AM)morondog Wrote:  If God's not a vending machine, when someone is cured of their disease or has something good happen to them, why do people call it answered prayer ? Why are people upset when things don't go their way, and say stuff like "We need to pray for X, he's in need" ?

Are these people wrong, according to you ?

You said prayer was for praising God... do you then not make requests of God yourself ?

I guess I meant vending machine because of what I wrote above about a relational God. A vending machine is an impersonal transaction- you put the right amount of money in, you get something out. I think that's sometimes how people see prayer. 'I've gone to church, said my prayers, fed the homeless, been faithful to my wife, therefore this is my due God, you owe me.' Prayer is first of all about regular communication with God- how many relationships would last if the only time two people communicated were when they could get something out of the other that they wanted?

So no, those people aren't wrong in my eyes. The big struggle that people have- and I've gone through this myself- is that in reality all prayer is answered, we just might not like the answer. To answer for myself in the question you posed I guess it comes down to trust.

And yes prayer is about both praising and asking of God. But again, look at the model prayer Jesus gave his disciples where it has both. For me there has to be a balance. On the one hand, yes I have the freedom to ask God for things , but there also has the recognition that I'm talking to God and therefore might not fully understand or like the answer.

The results you see from prayer are identical to the results I see from no prayer.
You are deluding yourself with thinking that your prayers do anything at all.

In reality no prayer is answered, you just don't like that answer.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Chas's post
Post Reply
Forum Jump: