Why I Believe
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09-04-2017, 12:51 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(09-04-2017 12:47 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  
(09-04-2017 10:46 AM)unfogged Wrote:  (4:21) And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
I just checked this out and it looks to me that God initially hardened Pharoah's heart (Exodus 7:3) before any of this started.

After 7:3, this is the next relevant verse:

Exodus 7:13 Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

Pharaoh here hardens his heart, but it looks to me like it was because God hardened it (verse 3)

Relevant to what?

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09-04-2017, 12:52 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(09-04-2017 03:33 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  If I say "I am agnostic", how would I really know that?

Don't worry about the labels. They only offer a one-word tag for people to judge you with. Right now the most accurate description is likely "confused, frightened and trying to figure it out."

Quote:What happens if I say I am agnostic? Do I change, does something happen?

Nothing.

If you are agnostic then it's more likely that you'll be questioning religion more than your average Christian but you're already doing that.

Quote:Perhaps I can't 'not' believe. Just because I fear hellfire doesn't mean I can just decide 'Ok I don't believe anymore.'

Nope. You can't simply switch it off any more than I can switch it on. That's why trying to convert people is pretty pointless. Only you can change your mind and a change this profound will be a long, gradual process.

Quote:If I didn't believe, what kind of person am I? Do I try and do good because I am good or because of Christianity? Do I get my morality from the bible? I mean, there's some mad stuff in there, but there's also some good stuff. Turn the other cheek, he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.

As you mention, the Bible contains both good and bad. People who follow it are both good and bad. That should tell you something about how useful it is as a moral guide. You can follow the rules in the Bible but you'll have to choose the good ones (thou shalt not kill) over the bad ones (suffer not a witch to live). At this point it is you doing the choosing so the morality isn't really coming from the Bible.

From a moral perspective the Bible/religion has some big pitfalls.

It is very easy for somebody to justify the bad as good because it is in the Bible and/or the church says it's right. That's exactly the sort of moral problem that brought you the Crusades, witch burning, justification for slavery and hatred of homosexuals. Amongst a long litany of human attrocities that have been justified by religion.

Another major flaw is that the morality in the Bible is heavily influenced by tribalism. Great for the in-group but lousy for the out-group. Love thy neighbor so long as he's one of us. If he is different then he's a second-class citizen at best and quite possibly the sort of person whose head you are commanded to smash in with a big rock.

The morality of the Bible is also very dated. The last major revision was during the late Roman Empire so it fails to deal with modern issues. Clearly it is not OK to sell your children into slavery or kill people for eating shellfish but it will lead you astray or simply fail to guide you on a number of more subtle points.

When all is said and done you're probably better off thinking for yourself.

Quote:I am not sure what I believe. Is anyone, are you?

Congratulations. Thumbsup

I believe that silly Gods don't exist.

I believe that they would be unworthy of my worship if they did.

I believe that a Biblically literal God is very silly.

(09-04-2017 06:25 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  Let's say a hardcore Christian becomes a hardcore atheist if that atheist sometime later has a change of heart, can he once again become a Christian, is he saved, or is he forever lost?

Depends on who you ask.

It's amusing that we commonly get evangelists in here telling us that we can't commit the unforgiveable sin because we can't blasheme against a Holy Sprit that we clearly don't believe in. Rolleyes

If God is all-powerful and all-loving then there shouldn't be a problem. Unless he's a rotten bastard who can save you but won't because you didn't believe.

Not sure what you mean by "hardcore" atheist but it's likely unnecessary. You should be fine with "softcore" atheism/apatheism. 'I don't believe and I don't care. There are more important things in life.'

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09-04-2017, 12:53 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(09-04-2017 12:47 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  
(09-04-2017 10:46 AM)unfogged Wrote:  (4:21) And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
I just checked this out and it looks to me that God initially hardened Pharoah's heart (Exodus 7:3) before any of this started.

After 7:3, this is the next relevant verse:

Exodus 7:13 Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

Pharaoh here hardens his heart, but it looks to me like it was because God hardened it (verse 3)

7-13 depends on which version you use; the translators reworded it to say what they wanted it to say. The King James is what I had quoted and it explicitly blames the god

http://biblehub.com/exodus/7-13.htm

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09-04-2017, 01:05 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(09-04-2017 12:18 PM)morondog Wrote:  I think he fears becoming a frothing-at-the-mouth anti-theist

Ug. Not an entirely unreasonable fear.

Seajay, please try to avoid this. Most atheists don't ever give god or religion a passing thought unless it's shoved in our faces. The last anti-theist we had pass through here managed to get banned in under a week for being a complete and utter shit stain.

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09-04-2017, 01:08 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(09-04-2017 12:51 PM)Vera Wrote:  SeaJay, I stopped believing in hell even before I stopped believing in god. Seriously, it was one of the main reasons why I couldn't pretend it made sense anymore.

I think Ingersoll put it best. Just read and reread this and think about it. How does it make sense for a supposedly good god to torture eternally anyone, for whatever their transgression might be (least of all for the "heinous" crime of not grovelling in front of this supposedly loving god?). If the mere idea of this revolts you, congratulations - you're better than your god. And if you're better than your god, what kind of a god is it anyway?

"Infinite punishment is infinite cruelty, endless injustice, immortal meanness. To worship an eternal gaoler hardens, debases, and pollutes even the vilest soul. While there is one sad and breaking heart in the universe, no good being can be perfectly happy.

Against the heartlessness of the Christian religion every grand and tender soul should enter solemn protest. The God of Hell should be held in loathing, contempt and scorn. A God who threatens eternal pain should be hated, not loved – cursed, not worshiped. A heaven presided over by such a God must be below the lowest hell. I want no part in any heaven in which the saved, the ransomed and redeemed will drown with shouts of joy the cries and sobs of hell – in which happiness will forget misery, where the tears of the lost only increase laughter and double bliss.

The idea of hell was born of ignorance, brutality, fear cowardice, and revenge. This idea testifies that our remote ancestors were the lowest beasts. Only from dens, lairs, and caves, only from mouths filled with cruel fangs, only from hearts of fear and hatred, only from the conscience of hunger and lust, only from the lowest and most debased could come this most cruel, heartless and bestial of all dogmas.”"

"All the meanness, all the revenge, all the selfishness, all the cruelty, all the hatred, all the infamy of which the heart of man is capable, grew, blossomed and bore fruit in this one word, Hell."


As for not knowing how to let go, I honestly believe once a person starts on that road - and isn't fighting it tooth and nail (and sometimes even if they are) - it just happens. Like, I would pray to god to no let me lose my religion (not proud of it, but...) and one day I realised I didn't believe any of it. And I've never looked back or been happier (even when really depressed ;-))
Thank you Vera

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” ~ Oscar Wilde
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09-04-2017, 01:10 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(09-04-2017 12:51 PM)Anjele Wrote:  
(09-04-2017 12:47 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  I just checked this out and it looks to me that God initially hardened Pharoah's heart (Exodus 7:3) before any of this started.

After 7:3, this is the next relevant verse:

Exodus 7:13 Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

Pharaoh here hardens his heart, but it looks to me like it was because God hardened it (verse 3)

Relevant to what?
As in it's the very next verse that mentions Pharoah and a hardening of his heart

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” ~ Oscar Wilde
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09-04-2017, 01:15 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(09-04-2017 01:08 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  Thank you Vera

No worries! Seriously, just try not to worry too much about it and make *this* life, that you know for certian exists, a torture while fearing being tortured in a next one, which, for all *all* of us know, really doesn't exist. And if it does, just make sure you die after us - we'll save you a relatively colder spot Tongue

(I know it's easier said than done, so I suggest reading atheist literature and lots of jokes about it. Laughter always helps us not to take things too seriously.)

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09-04-2017, 01:19 PM (This post was last modified: 09-04-2017 01:30 PM by Yogi_Bear.)
RE: Why I Believe
(07-04-2017 11:48 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  
(07-04-2017 11:26 PM)A_Thinking_Theist Wrote:  For what it's worth it seems Carl Sagan is attributed with the quote "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence" referencing his Cosmos.

I believe that rereading my post you will see I did not make the claim that there is a deity. I did state that I was seeking answers as to the thinking processes using logic and reason as to how atheists support their position that there is no God and how they justify that claim.

I will state I do believe as a theist in the Creator God and that to do so is not irrational nor without grounds for belief.

I also acknowledge mordant did an excellence job of rationalizing the claim "deities do not exist" while lacking the ability of "proof" of the same.

The default atheist position, and probably the most common one, is a lack of belief in Gods. That's not the same as believing there are no Gods. The first is a state of being unconvinced. The second is being convinced to the contrary.

This is a very common misconception, and one that is subtle and can be hard to grasp at first. I'll post my video below where I go through all this.

Please have a go at defining what a "God" or "deity" is. How would I tell apart a God from an arbitrarily powerful non-God?




Hello Robvalue having watched the video I find we hold some thoughts in common. It is indeed imperative of all parties understanding and agreeing on the definitions of chosen words to express ones positions. I also agree that if finding truth is the sole desire then having an open mind to facts, logic and reason is crucial. I would also add that as human beings if one brings preconceived assumptions or beliefs or a desired outcome then the degree of bias can be proportionally problematic with having an open mind, be it atheist or theist.

In your post you present the challenge to define God or deity however I seriously question whether you would have the ability to be objective and open-minded to give a fair analysis to anything I might offer but rather it would be judged by a double standard. I say this not judgmentally but rather simply as a conclusion of observation of previous posts.

In presenting a basis for this opinion I offer these previous posts:

In post#176 you stated:

When I talk to people, I just want them to think. I don't expect people to just agree with me. I wouldn't even want someone to agree with me, just because I'm saying it. I want them to stop and think things over. Look at things from every available perspective. If that means they eventually agree with what I'm saying, then great! If not, then that's fine too. What I can't stand is when people plug their ears.

You're really thinking, and that's a rare quality. It's a natural behaviour to try and preserve and defend beliefs, however dumb they may be. It takes guts to challenge them.

In post #180 you stated:

Yeah, God "plans" us to all be disgusting evil creatures so he can save us. Hero complex? What the hell is God even doing? Screwing about, it seems. Why did he make any of this?

Some people find that they transition to deism when coming out of religion. They still feel there is "a creator" but that it can't be any of the dumb versions put forward by religion, and doesn't appear to be interacting with us in any way at all.

I wouldn't worry too much about labels. In my mind, being a Christian is a choice though. Even if I believed in everything the bible said, I wouldn't be a Christian. I think it's a disgusting immoral book, and I'd just be depressed that such an evil monster is in charge. I decide for myself how to live my life, I don't take orders. Luckily, there's no evidence that any of it is more than a fairy tale that has been passed on by indoctrination through the generations.

I find religions irrelevant, whether they are true or not. I just use my brain.

And then from your Atheism and Me blog you state:

The first time I became aware of religion was at the age of about 5. At school, we were made to pray in assembly. I found it very strange and confusing. Even at that age, it was clear to me that what was happening was illogical. I have never changed my opinion since then.

And:

Atheism and theism are not decisions. Belief, or a lack of belief, is a state of mind. You cannot simply choose to believe something, even if you want to. You can say you believe it, but you can't actually switch over your brain state at will. So to say to an atheist, "Why do you choose to be an atheist?" is a badly formed question. All you can ask of them is for them to pretend that they believe. Why anyone would want them to do that, I don't know. An atheist cannot help being that way, and the only thing that could change them into a theist is further evidence, an event, or a critical examination of their own thinking to discover a mistake.

Bias basis 1: You state people should think things over with an open mind looking at different perspectives and not plug their ears to truth yet you see religion irrelevant whether true or not. You state being a Christian is a choice and then state atheism and theism are not decisions and a person cannot simply choose to believe something. These contradicting positions would logically give one pause to believe that you could be objective in drawing one's conclusions.

Bias basis 2: Your level of negative bias would show your inability to be logical and objective to anything posited that did not fit your negatively biased position that God or anything religious is: dumb, irrelevant regardless of turth, its strange , confusing, disgusting and immoral, that God is an evil monster, that its just fairy tales, that religion itself is evil, that its controlling. Yet in spite of this you just use your brain to live life as you see fit.

Respectfully Robvalue everyone can and does hold a belief. But everyone isn't necessarily rational and objective in the justification for holding that belief. This entire thread was started with SeaJay's fear based on a belief. Is there any justification for that fear? This reminds me of Professor of Philosophy Thomas Nagel's statement regarding fear of religion from his book -The Last Word, Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. 130-131. :

In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper—namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.

You stated: An atheist cannot help being that way, and the only thing that could change them into a theist is further evidence, an event, or a critical examination of their own thinking to discover a mistake. I can only reply that that may be true for some, but for others I don't think any amount of evidence would cause them to become a theist simply because, for them, it wouldn't be a lack of evidence problem; it would because of a heart problem.


All that being said and referencing your blog entry "What is god" I would answer your challenge of how do I define God? I define God as the Creator yes (I acknowledge your personal opinion to stop here) but yes He does posses unlimited power. You pose the question: I don't know why people think that just because something may have created our reality, it also has to have unlimited power. Where does this idea come from? My answer is simply: If He can create all that is, from nothing, how could anyone rationally and logically think otherwise.
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09-04-2017, 01:34 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(09-04-2017 12:23 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  Thing is, I'm ok with there being no god looking out for us. I'm fine with us just being a bunch of chemicals and electrical synapses on two legs. It's just my fear of burning in agony forever. How did you get over this fear?

Like any deep-seated belief you can't just switch it off. It's going to be a long process.

Start by realizing that it's absurd. That takes away any fuel it might be getting from your reason. Seriously, what sort of jack-ass god gives you an immortal body, especially after going through all the work of repairing the rot, producing new living flesh, etc... (I'm going to be cremated so I'll be extra work for the fucker) just to torture you for eternity? What sort of fucked up god does that?!?

It will help to realize that you aren't alone in this. Many of the atheists on this forum have gone through similar experiences. Check out the deconversion story thread and the Recovering from Religion section. You may find some familiar stories.

It might help to parody it in your head. Next time it pops in to frighten you add some absurd detail. Does the lake of fire have lillypads? Do you get a boat? Are there fireworks? Terror loses its power if you're snickering at it. It'll take work but if you keep at it you may be able to blunt its power over you.

Keep up with the therapy. We're just people on the interweb and you need a professional.

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09-04-2017, 01:51 PM
RE: Why I Believe
I think SeaJay might have been making a joke about not knowing if they were agnostic or not.

"Are you agnostic ?"
-- I don't know.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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