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Author Topic: How much do you NEED religion? (added PS)
King of Men
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Tres, you are mixing up two different concepts. I said there was no evidence for any gods. You're the one who brought in the concept of proof, which is quite different. I believe in the physical world because I have evidence for it; yes, it could just be an image projected onto my brain, or whatever, but it's evidence. Not proof, but evidence. And moreover, it's evidence that everybody agrees on. Proof just doesn't apply to a discussion like this, that's the point I was trying (rather badly, I admit) to make in my previous post.
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MightyCow
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
We do similar things in America too, but we call our wise men "doctors".

The real problem here is not that the tribe trusted the authority of their wise men. The real problem is that their wise men weren't nearly as wise as our wise men. (Or so we believe.)

Clearly they were analogous to priests, not doctors. They didn't treat anyone or diagnose any diseases, they made a prophecy based on mystical powers, and used their influence to tell a woman who she was allowed to marry and where she was allowed to live. Doctors don't tell you that you'll die if you marry someone they don't approve of.

What does "(Or so we believe.)" mean? Do you agree with the woman, that these men read the future in the entrails of a cow, and that they learned there how the woman would die if she married a specific man? Is that just a shot at those who use evidence to make choices, rather than following the whims of authority figures?

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BlackBlade
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KOM: My point is that you cannot DISPROVE the existance of God either. But you DO have thousands of people claiming to have had direct experiences as well as a clear explaination of God's supposed basic philosophy.

How many people speak for the pretty pink unicorn?

Were you utterly sure that you have seen a PPU and that he/she has a message that needed to be told, I would not fault you for believing and trying to share that message with others, I would only ask how I could know for myself concerning the existance of such a beast.

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King of Men
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Sigh. There are also thousand of people claiming to have been abducted by aliens, and giving a fairly clear explanation of the aliens' basic philosophy. Do you think it is rational to believe them?
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King of Men
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Oh, and it's Invisible Pink Unicorn. I'm sure she's pretty as well, but being Invisible, it's a bit hard to tell.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Sigh. There are also thousand of people claiming to have been abducted by aliens, and giving a fairly clear explanation of the aliens' basic philosophy. Do you think it is rational to believe them?

Please produce this "Clear explanation of the aliens basic philosophy" as well as a method where with somebody can prove the existance of said aliens.
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King of Men
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Beg pardon? I think you must have misunderstood my argument. You said

quote:
ou DO have thousands of people claiming to have had direct experiences as well as a clear explaination of God's supposed basic philosophy.
This, as I understood it, was intended to be an argument in favour of belief in your god, as opposed to the IPU, which I admit does not have many adherents. In response, I pointed out that there are thousands of people who claim to have had a direct experience of alien abduction; as for the philosophy, go to any New Age website and you'll see it. My point is that that there is an exact analogy between UFO believers and Christ believers, and it is not rational to believe in either one without further evidence. Given this, I do not see where the request for proof of aliens comes in; my whole point is that there ain't no such proof.

Now, I wonder if you could tell me why it is rational to accept people with tales of direct experience of their god, but not of aliens?

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BlackBlade
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Because you yourself can test out the philosophy and the claims of religion and in a very rational and logical manner come to know the validity of it all.

You cannot summon the aliens in any way, or communicate with them, so you are relying solely on the word of another person when it comes to believing in aliens.

The difference would be if Einstein had simply explained how relativity worked (aliens) rather than writing down all the equations for other people to look over (Christ)

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King of Men
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Um, no. You can test the morality and lifestyle that alien abductees advocate, same as with a religion. You cannot test whether Joe Smith really was visited by an angel, any more than with an abductee. And really, there's no controversy about the morality; everybody pretty much agrees that killing and theft are bad. The question is in the claims of fact that religions make. What is the difference between these two statements :

  • Joseph Smith wrote down the Book of Mormon from an angel's dictation.
  • Brigitte Grant was abducted by aliens and given a list of precepts for the moral life.

(If I got the Mormon history wrong, please don't nitpick; you will understand what I refer to, right?)

Now, if you are saying that because the morality of a religion works, the factual claims must be true, there are two problems : First, that's just as valid for alien abductions, and second, it's just as true for those Christian varieties that share LDS morality but don't believe in their history. And if you're saying only that the morality works, who cares? We were discussing claims of fact, to wit, whether a god exists or not. The effects of drinking coffee would be the same whether or not a god disapproved of it.

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MightyCow
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BlackBlade: One of the main problems I see with your argument is that there are many different belief systems, all with equally faithful followers, who all hold different and sometimes contradictory beliefs.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that the belief of a faith's followers and the existence of its holy writings make it true and valid. How can this be the case, when different religions that fit this criteria all claim to be the one true faith?

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BlackBlade
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Call me naive but I think that were all those happy folks who practice other religions to continue to examine the claims of other religions some of them would shift to other religions as they found them more correct and more useful.

Also at least within my religion we state that one can be literally told the truthfulness of the gospel by the communications of God himself.

"And when she shall receive these things I would exhort you that you would ask God the eternal father in the name of Christ if things are not true....he will manifest the truthfulness of these things unto you by the power of the holy ghost"

If you try out the gospel, and ask God to verify the truthfulness of it all, he will. If you are still unconvinced by the experience then you can resoundly disagree with me.

I had a roommate who used to be a Mormon but was now an atheist who said that he tried his best to live the commandments and prayed fervently to God about it all and received no answer. Assuming he is absolutely correct in his assesment of his performance (I cannot be sure of it) than I really have no basis to say that he is wrong to believe as he did. He was a wonderful person and I was sad when he left. If God really does exist then there is a reason he did not communicate with my roommate.

All I can say is is that I tried the experiment and I was sufficiently convinced by my own experiences that what Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon say are true.

You can attack my gullibility or how impossible it is to gauge a spiritual experience, but the fact remains that you yourself have not tried the experiement, so your ability to offer valid criticism is inhibited to a great degree.

If I am wrong KOM and you have indeed given religion what you conceive as a fair try, then I apologize for assuming to know what you have or have not tried.

Oh and BTW I wont nitpick about your Joseph Smith comments if you won't nitpick about my statements concerning your invisible pretty pink unicorn [Razz]

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King of Men
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And alien abductees hold that you can be told the correctness of your morals by the aliens. Now, I did in fact believe in the Christian god for a fairly short period. That aside, though, if somebody who was plainly rather damaged by drug use suggested you just try some pot - "Dude, you'll see, it's really great" - would you follow his advice?
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MightyCow
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BlackBlade: Your rommate's story, like my own, gives me more reason to doubt the existence of God. I gave religion my best try for many years, and it never convinced me of anything. I asked God in the name of Christ to enlighten me, to accept my soul and guide me, to show me the truth, to help me believe... all that stuff. I was as sincere and hopeful and willing as I could possibly have been. I got nothing.

This leads me to believe that either a) there is no God, b) if there is a God, he doesn't care about me, c) if there is a God, he is impotent, and unable to show himself to me, d) if there is a God, he has some divine plan that includes me never knowing him and according to Christian doctrine, burning in hell for all eternity.

So based on my experience, either God doesn't exist, or if God does exist, he's certainly not worth my worship. It makes immeasurably more sense to me that God simply does not exist, and that religion is a convenient belief for many people, which is often used by those in power to influence the population they preside over.

If one religion is true, and the others are false, then God obviously doesn't care very much for humanity as a whole. He allows countless false religions to prosper, doesn't tend his flock very well, allows and perhaps encourages a significant percentage of his creation to languish in ignorance and suffer without his divine presence. If there is one true God, he doesn't seem to care for most people, and doesn't do much to protect, educate, or enlighten most of them. Seems like a jerk to me.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
And alien abductees hold that you can be told the correctness of your morals by the aliens. Now, I did in fact believe in the Christian god for a fairly short period. That aside, though, if somebody who was plainly rather damaged by drug use suggested you just try some pot - "Dude, you'll see, it's really great" - would you follow his advice?

Asking me to smoke pot is hardly the same thing as systematically learning the precepts of a religion and employing them as a test (smoking pot takes less time and less effort). There is nothing within mormonism that is going to harm you. Reading some literature applying it and praying are not going to hurt you.

quote:
BlackBlade: Your rommate's story, like my own, gives me more reason to doubt the existence of God. I gave religion my best try for many years, and it never convinced me of anything. I asked God in the name of Christ to enlighten me, to accept my soul and guide me, to show me the truth, to help me believe... all that stuff. I was as sincere and hopeful and willing as I could possibly have been. I got nothing.

This leads me to believe that either a) there is no God, b) if there is a God, he doesn't care about me, c) if there is a God, he is impotent, and unable to show himself to me, d) if there is a God, he has some divine plan that includes me never knowing him and according to Christian doctrine, burning in hell for all eternity.

what about e) He expects you to continue trying your best to live a moral life and when HE thinks you are ready he will reveal himself to you in the way that would benefit you the most?

quote:

So based on my experience, either God doesn't exist, or if God does exist, he's certainly not worth my worship. It makes immeasurably more sense to me that God simply does not exist, and that religion is a convenient belief for many people, which is often used by those in power to influence the population they preside over.

Were this life the only time we had, and were God to send people who are ignorant of his plan to hell I would think you are perfectly justified in refusing to worship him. Fortunately neither are true.

quote:

If one religion is true, and the others are false, then God obviously doesn't care very much for humanity as a whole. He allows countless false religions to prosper, doesn't tend his flock very well, allows and perhaps encourages a significant percentage of his creation to languish in ignorance and suffer without his divine presence.

Were he to force his knowledge on every human being we would resent him for not at least letting us choose. Certainly it would be stupid if God allowed only good actions to occur while interupting anything bad we might want to do, how could we grow in any regard if everytime we were going to make mistake we were stopped before the results manifested themselves to us? We would probably not believe God's explanation of the results.

quote:
If there is one true God, he doesn't seem to care for most people, and doesn't do much to protect, educate, or enlighten most of them. Seems like a jerk to me.
Remember that its not neccesarily true that this life is the only time you've got. I personally believe that we have plenty to do after we are dead. I do not know why God relies so heavily human effort to spread his plan for mankind, perhaps the reason you have not found the truth is because somebody you know who has it does not seem to care to share it with you, certainly the person with the truth will be dealt with more harshly than you would be.

I know he cares very much, you would do well to at least have faith in the idea that if there is a God he will only judge you based on the truth you DID posess, not on the truth somebody else posseses. Would you say your life has been absolutely horrible and that you have yet to find a shred of truth in any of your experience since birth?

Certainly if there TRUELY is a God and he is the source of all that is Good and he has a plan for revealing this Good to all mankind that would be the most important thing one could know wouldnt it? How life altering would that truth be? How long would you be willing to wait for it? 1 day? 1 week? 1 year? a lifetime? I know it might sound cruel but for knowledge so precious I do not think a lifetime would be too much to expend trying to find it.

Of course such a plan and such a God may not exist. Well you lose nothing by living your life as best you can always open to the idea that you are wrong. I cannot see any such person being sent to hell, that is not the place for those sorts of people.

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MightyCow
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Ah, but BlackBlade, you are mistaken. You see, God has revealed his plan to me, and everyone else is wrong.

I just now received the truth of God, and he instructed me to share it with you. Here is the truth of the universe, and the plan of salvation.

First, God expects us all to wear no shirts. Shirts are anathema to God, and anyone who wears a shirt in public is sinning and is shameful in the eyes of God.

Secondly, God wants us all to speak only Latin. It is the true and Godly language, and all non-Latin speakers are only bringing themselves further from the lord.

Third, a person can only truly know God while in the bath. To be a righteous follower of God, one must bathe every day for at least 3 hours in ice cold water. That water must be filled with live goldfish, and at the end of the bath, the goldfish must be fried in pork fat and eaten.

Fourth, 25% of all your income, before taxes, should be donated to the United Negro College Fund. God agrees that a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Fifth, and lastly for now, God demands that anyone you see wearing a shirt, you must spit at the ground before them and tell them the truth of God's awesome plan. Only through this act can everyone know God's awesome and divine will.

See, if God is TRUELY the source of all Good, as he is, and he has just revealed his plan to you, would it not be worth it to live this way? Since these simple practices will open a person to the life altering plan of God's goodness and truth, and change your life in a meaningful and unimaginable way, how foolish would it be to ignore them?

I think we can all agree that it only makes sense that we all begin this divine course of action immediately. After all, this is God's plan that will give us the best possible life. It may not be obvious now, to our limited minds and blinded senses, but in the NEXT life, it will make such sense that we will wish we had been taking 4 hour goldfish baths all along!

Praise Be!

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King of Men
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quote:
Asking me to smoke pot is hardly the same thing as systematically learning the precepts of a religion and employing them as a test (smoking pot takes less time and less effort). There is nothing within mormonism that is going to harm you. Reading some literature applying it and praying are not going to hurt you.
Ok, how's this. Why don't you go for some reasonable period of time, say a week, consciously not believing in any gods? No church, of course, and every time you get into some moral dilemma or other situation where you'd pray for guidance, don't. Ask a friend, instead. Or Hatrack. Anything but prayer. (It may be necessary to go more than a week, I suppose; moral dilemmas aren't that common.) Does that sound reasonable?
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King of Men
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Oh, and since you're a Mormon, you should also take off the inner garments. If you're going to try out atheism, no copping out and maintaining any covenants with imaginary beings!
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Tresopax
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quote:
Clearly they were analogous to priests, not doctors. They didn't treat anyone or diagnose any diseases, they made a prophecy based on mystical powers, and used their influence to tell a woman who she was allowed to marry and where she was allowed to live. Doctors don't tell you that you'll die if you marry someone they don't approve of.
A diagnosis is a prophecy. If a doctor diagnosed that you have some disease that will kill you if you marry someone, then they most certainly would tell you not to marry someone. Doctors only don't make such prophecies because their belief system differs greatly from the beliefs of these "wise men" about what keeps one healthy - they are more inclined to think things like not washing hands endanger you than things like getting married. But our doctors most definitely make other sorts of predictions about things that we should or should not do to avoid death. They even predict that eating too many Big Macs might make an early death more likely! And I like Big Macs... well, to a degree.

quote:
What does "(Or so we believe.)" mean? Do you agree with the woman, that these men read the future in the entrails of a cow, and that they learned there how the woman would die if she married a specific man? Is that just a shot at those who use evidence to make choices, rather than following the whims of authority figures?
It's a nod to the fact that although we may think our doctors can keep us healthy better than the wise men of that village, the people of the village may think the exact opposite - and we can't really prove them wrong, aside from arguing that our people have so far ended up much healthier than theirs, if that is true.

quote:
Tres, you are mixing up two different concepts. I said there was no evidence for any gods. You're the one who brought in the concept of proof, which is quite different. I believe in the physical world because I have evidence for it; yes, it could just be an image projected onto my brain, or whatever, but it's evidence. Not proof, but evidence. And moreover, it's evidence that everybody agrees on.
Yes, but if its just evidence you are talking about, rather than an absolute proof, then I think it is safe to say religious people believe there is plenty of evidence of the existence of God available. It's not agreed upon, and it doesn't absolutely prove God must exist, but it's there, so you can't say there's no evidence for God. Or, at least, you can't say it and expect those who possess such evidence to believe you.
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MightyCow
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Belief is not evidence, at least not in any way that I would recognize. What evidence are you suggesting?

Doctors make predictions based on fact, science, observation. They tell you things which demonstratively and directly effect your life, not some made up nonsense. A doctor might tell you that you need to lose weight to stay healthy, and that jogging is a good way to do that. A doctor would not tell you that you will die if you marry a certain person and continue to live within a certain community. Doctors don't excommunicate people.

It is obvious to me that you are working with completely different ideas of words like "prove" and "true" mean, so I guess this is a fairly futile conversation. For that matter, my guess is that you have a much different definition of "evidence" than I do, so maybe the first question I asked is out too.

Oh well.

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Tresopax
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quote:
What evidence are you suggesting?
The Bible. Subjective experiences of God. The order of the Universe. The effectiveness of Christian beliefs. A wide array of things along those lines.

None of them constitute a complete proof, but all are pieces of evidence.

quote:
Doctors make predictions based on fact, science, observation.
So did the wise men. They observed a cow they sacrified and drew conclusions from that.

I have to say that I don't see how that evidence could possibly tell them what they conclude from it, but at the same time I'm certain they would be equally unconvinced if an American doctor took some scan of them, did some testing, and told them they'd need surgery immediately or they'd soon die. Unless you are a scientist or tribal wise man, I suspect you don't understand the details of how either of these processes lead to the conclusions they do. I certainly don't! Thus, it all comes down to which authority you trust more. You and I trust doctors to follow a belief system that we trust (even though we probably don't fully understand all of it.) We apparently don't share the same trust in these wise men.

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MightyCow
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I understand the doctor just fine.

Here's how evidence works to me. When multiple equally educated people can look at something and come to the same conclusion, that's evidence. When a bunch of guys argue over a dead cow and decide to punish the guy they don't like and steal his girlfriend, that's made up B.S. I don't know how to be any clearer than that.

Re: proof of God. See my post above to BlackBlade. That's evidence of God's plan too, right? I mean, it's written down, and it's subjectively true. So I guess that's evidence that God wants us to take off our shirts and take long baths.

I'll be in the tub.

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crescentsss
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Strong Son of God, immortal Love
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

-In Memoriam by Tennyson

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suminonA
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crescentsss, welcome to this thread. Is this what you subscribe to, or do you just want to point out that there are people who define “faith” by “believing where we cannot prove”? Or is it something else you’re trying to say? Please feel free to be more explicit. And also, do you have an answer to the original question of this thread? What would it be?

- - -

quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
Here's how evidence works to me. When multiple equally educated people can look at something and come to the same conclusion, that's evidence. When a bunch of guys argue over a dead cow and decide to punish the guy they don't like and steal his girlfriend, that's made up B.S. I don't know how to be any clearer than that.

I like the way you put it. [Smile]

BTW, please don’t be mad if I only take worm baths with no goldfish, and only following a hygiene based …“schedule”. [Big Grin]

A.

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crescentsss
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Thank you suminonA!

This is indeed what I believe. The existence of God cannot be proven, otherwise all of us would believe in God, or subscribe to a certain religion.
There are people who use scientific facts as evidence in order to support or disprove events that occurred in the bible. But to me it seems irrelevant - if you truly have faith, then no amount of scientific evidence will change that, and if you do not believe in God, than science and evidence will not change that either. And I will add - though I doubt many people agree to this - if your faith is strengthened or is based on evidence, then it is not true faith, because if that evidence did not exist your relationship with God would be different. One should not need evidence in order to have faith.
I would write a conclusion to my opinion, but Tennyson does it better [Wink]

Ill answer your second question soon, Im fasting today and have to take things one at a time [Big Grin]

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Nato
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I don't think it makes sense to define "true" faith as a faith in conditions of complete lack of evidence. Or if you must define it like that, then "faith" is certainly no virtue.
quote:
if you truly have faith, then no amount of scientific evidence will change that,
If no amount of scientific evidence changed one's belief that the world was flat, we could simply conclude that he was stubbornly wrong. [Wink]
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crescentsss
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I was raised, and am being raised, as a religious Jew. But I don't believe in God, don't pray, and don't keep Kosher or the Sabbath... yet I'm fasting. There are certain aspects of religion that I haven't abandoned and don't plan to abandon, such as the major holidays and learning Jewish texts, from the Bible to the Talmud to the Kuzari. God has very much ceased to exist in my life, but Judaism has not. There is so much in Judaism that I love outside belief in God. So I don't need God, but I guess I do need religion.
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suminonA
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Nato, there are matters that can be studied scientfically (e.g. the curvature of the surface of the Earth), but also others that cannot (e.g. the existence of <insert deity name here>). For the latter kind, the only usefull "tool" is faith (by definition).

It's no use requireing the same "method of study/comprehension" for such different kinds of things. Now, if for you the two issues (in the examples I gave here) are "of the same kind" then your analogy stands, for you.

A.

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crescentsss
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quote:
Originally posted by Nato:
I don't think it makes sense to define "true" faith as a faith in conditions of complete lack of evidence. Or if you must define it like that, then "faith" is certainly no virtue.

In my opinion faith is not a virtue.

quote:
if you truly have faith, then no amount of scientific evidence will change that,
If no amount of scientific evidence changed one's belief that the world was flat, we could simply conclude that he was stubbornly wrong. [Wink]

Losing one's faith generally doesn't come after someone logically proved and explained to you why God does not exist. One can have faith with all of science against him; otherwise, what is the meaning of faith? What is so virtuous (assuming for the moment that faith is a virtue) about having faith until the moment it's challenged?

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Tresopax
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quote:
Here's how evidence works to me. When multiple equally educated people can look at something and come to the same conclusion, that's evidence. When a bunch of guys argue over a dead cow and decide to punish the guy they don't like and steal his girlfriend, that's made up B.S. I don't know how to be any clearer than that.
So it's evidence if it's said by an authority you trust (in this case multiple equally educated people) but it's not evidence if it's said by an authority you don't trust (a bunch of guys arguing over a dead cow.)

quote:
Re: proof of God. See my post above to BlackBlade. That's evidence of God's plan too, right? I mean, it's written down, and it's subjectively true. So I guess that's evidence that God wants us to take off our shirts and take long baths.
It would only be evidence if it were actually true. But you clearly made it up and don't believe it, which negates its validity as an example.
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suminonA
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
It would only be evidence if it were actually true.

How can you be sure that anything is actually true (while talking about religion)? If you just choose what you believe to be true and what not, then MightyCow is equally entitled to believe “his version” as you are not to believe it. In the end it all comes down to CHOICE, IMO.

A.

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KarlEd
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quote:
I gave religion my best try for many years, and it never convinced me of anything. I asked God in the name of Christ to enlighten me, to accept my soul and guide me, to show me the truth, to help me believe... all that stuff. I was as sincere and hopeful and willing as I could possibly have been. I got nothing.
MightyCow, that is my experience almost to the letter.

BlackBlade:
quote:
If you try out the gospel, and ask God to verify the truthfulness of it all, he will. If you are still unconvinced by the experience then you can resoundly disagree with me.

I resoundly disagree with you. [Smile] For the record, neither Moroni's promise, nor James give any qualification of having to put into practice the Gospel before receiving enlightenment. Moroni is simply "Read, Ponder, and Pray", and James is even less than that.

quote:
There is nothing within mormonism that is going to harm you.
The jury's still out on this one for me. I think that it's very hard to demonstrate that a specific harm is caused by the psychological, emotional, and/or intellectual pressures from within a specific community, but that does not mean the connection does not exist. You may argue that "the community" is not "the doctrine", but the community is a direct result of the interaction of the doctrine and human beings. To me that makes them essentially the same thing. ("By their fruits" and all that.) My experience with Mormonism very nearly destroyed me, I am slowly watching my mother self-destruct, primarily because of her deeply Mormon-influenced philosophy. On the other hand, I like who I am now and I wouldn't be "me" if I hadn't had that experience. My mom, well, I frankly think she'd have been better off atheist, or Lutheran, or something.
quote:
e) He expects you to continue trying your best to live a moral life and when HE thinks you are ready he will reveal himself to you in the way that would benefit you the most?
I've considered that option. To me, though, it pretty much makes Moroni's and James's promises loop-holey enough to be essentially worthless.

quote:
Were this life the only time we had, and were God to send people who are ignorant of his plan to hell I would think you are perfectly justified in refusing to worship him. Fortunately neither are true.
I don't believe either of those is true, as well. But I'm an atheist. Go figure.

quote:
Were he to force his knowledge on every human being we would resent him for not at least letting us choose. Certainly it would be stupid if God allowed only good actions to occur while interupting anything bad we might want to do, how could we grow in any regard if everytime we were going to make mistake we were stopped before the results manifested themselves to us?
First, there is a huge middle ground between "Leave them with no reliable guidance" and "Force them to always do what is right". I think most atheists/agnostics would be fine with a "Heavenly Father" who did even one tenth of what society demands of all but the most mentally incapable of Earthly fathers. In our society, fathers who act like your God acts are called "deadbeat" and "absentee", neither of which labels is a positive attribute. In short, I do not buy the all/nothing dichotomy you argue here. It's a nice justification, I guess, which allows you to maintain your philosophy in the face of the way thing are, but it reads like just a more elaborate form of "God works in mysterious ways" to me.
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JennaDean
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quote:
You may argue that "the community" is not "the doctrine", but the community is a direct result of the interaction of the doctrine and human beings.
Yeah, I'm constantly having to reevaluate whether the things I believe and do are doctrinal or cultural. It's possible to try to follow the doctrine without being overwhelmed by the cultural aspects, but it requires some effort.
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Tresopax
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quote:
How can you be sure that anything is actually true (while talking about religion)?
You can't, for most things. What I mean is that I don't believe it is true, so I don't believe it is evidence. I believe it is true that the Bible exists, therefore it can qualify as evidence for me.

quote:
If you just choose what you believe to be true and what not, then MightyCow is equally entitled to believe “his version” as you are not to believe it. In the end it all comes down to CHOICE, IMO.
I don't think beliefs are a matter of choice. I can't choose to believe the sky is green when I see for myself that it is blue. I can say the sky is green, but I can't actually believe it unless I actually observe and think it is true!

So, in the end it is not a matter of choice - you are not entitled to believe whatever you want. Rather, you are required to believe whatever you think seems most likely to be true, or to have no belief at all.

[ August 03, 2006, 12:03 PM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]

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JennaDean
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Or, you could have two options that seem equally likely to be true, and choose to believe the one that makes you happiest.

I know a lot of people say they can't choose to believe. But I do. Sometimes I believe because I'm convinced by the evidence that it's most likely to be true, but sometimes I choose to believe because it makes me happier and there's no overwhelming evidence either way. Depends on the day.

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KarlEd
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quote:
Yeah, I'm constantly having to reevaluate whether the things I believe and do are doctrinal or cultural. It's possible to try to follow the doctrine without being overwhelmed by the cultural aspects, but it requires some effort.
Well, that's not quite what I was getting at. I was more saying that the culture wouldn't be what it is except for the doctrine it embraces. I do not believe that the truthfulness of a doctrine can necessarily be judged by it's imperfect implementation by imperfect humans. However, in a case where God supposedly made the humans and supposedly made the doctrine, He has to take at least some of the blame if the result of putting the two together is something sub-optimal. This, IMO, is especially true when a doctrinally bound group is the majority (either through sheer numbers or relative isolation).

[ August 03, 2006, 11:49 AM: Message edited by: KarlEd ]

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fred
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To me religion is not a separate thing from myself. I view them as one and the same so it isn't something I need. It is who I am.

Fred

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BlackBlade
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Mighty Cow: I should be able to try those things and begin to see the value of them. You are being alittle disengenuous about what Christianity asks the newcomer to do. There are not any strange ceremonies, just a request to become aquainted with the docterine and to try communicating with God.

KOM: I already went through my, "I don't think God exists phase." Interestingly enough when I encounter moral dilemma's I feel that I usually do not pray about them enough. About 90% of the time I make a decision as a reflex. I am perfectly comfortable making moral choices without asking Gods "by your leave." but that does not mean I am too prideful to go to him for help when I am unsure the decision I have made is correct. I have full confidence in getting answers from Him.

Karl Ed: Moroni does not say "Read, Ponder, and Pray" he says "Receive these things, and pray." Alma very literally espouses studying and action, with the absolutely positive results of the experiment being the beginnings of proof, which should give you confidence to ask God.

I certainly agree that the docterine ought to make for good people. I do not know what Mormons you know, but most of the ones I know are good people, some of the best I have seen. I think the best evidence would be to look at the leaders of the church as they certainly can be relied on to provide an example of what Mormonism is capable of. I personally find all of them to be inspiring and worth emulating. I do not agree with everything they say all the time, but I think there moral character is certainly worthy of praise.

I have a younger brother and both of us are faithful members of the church. We were raised by the same parents and yet I would be willing to bet that you would be offended by my brother and quite able to get along with me. Just because we were taught the same things does not mean we apply them rightly. I see most of my brothers short comings as the product of ignorance and immaturity. I have tried to be a good example to him, and I think I have influenced him for good as some of his more idiotic ideas have disappeared.

I say this merely to demonstrate that 2 people can receive the same instruction and yet have completely different views.

My statement that one should continue to live their life as best they can and they will find God when THEY are ready, does not make Moroni or James worthless. I have confidence that God will not leave anyone long in the dark for very long (having seen MANY people come from ignorance to full confidence many times). If He should choose to take a long time for anybody I would expect God to explain his motives in the end, I am not in charge of converting anybody, I simply share with them what I have found.

You have said you would be happy if God would do 10% of what people expect of him. 1: You cannot see to the full extent what God DOES do. 2: What exactly would constitute 10% for you?

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MightyCow
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
[QUOTE]It would only be evidence if it were actually true. But you clearly made it up and don't believe it, which negates its validity as an example.

Do you realize that what you said here is equal to saying "It is only true if it is actually true"? In other words, you're speaking in circles. The same old argument that the Bible is true because it says it is true, and you can trust the Bible because it says it is true. I guess I should have written in my enlightened vision that it was true.

It sounds to me that according to your method of reasoning, all religions are equally true. People don't seem to have any ability to determine truth objectively, only blindly follow which faith they were born into.

quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Mighty Cow: I should be able to try those things and begin to see the value of them. You are being alittle disengenuous about what Christianity asks the newcomer to do. There are not any strange ceremonies, just a request to become aquainted with the docterine and to try communicating with God.

Christian newcomers are asked to go to church, to eat bread and drink wine which are literally the flesh and blood of a man who lived 2,000 years ago, who was also God. They are asked to be immersed in or splashed with water. They are asked to begin to follow all sorts of rules and regulations, depending on which faith they choose.

I thought my vision was really pretty mild. God left out all the parts about killing people not like you and cutting off body parts that cause you to sin this time. He's really mellowed out, and he appreciates a nicely fried goldfish.

Since my vision, I've been saving all sorts of money on shirts. [Smile]

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BlackBlade
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MC: Within Mormonism (I can speak with authority on them) we ask you to read a book and pray, come to church (you are not encouraged OR discouraged from partaking in communion). You are introduced to the ideas of chastity, the word of wisdom, and tithing, but you are only required to live those when you agree to be baptized. You only agree to be baptized when you have a spiritual witness that the docterines you have been taught are true.
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KarlEd
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quote:
Karl Ed: Moroni does not say "Read, Ponder, and Pray" he says "Receive these things, and pray." Alma very literally espouses studying and action, with the absolutely positive results of the experiment being the beginnings of proof, which should give you confidence to ask God.
Alma is speaking to the "members of the church" so to speak. Moroni is speaking to future readers of the BoM specifically. I didn't pull "read, ponder, and pray" out of my hindquarters. Thousands of LDS missionaries worldwide use that mantra in dozens of languages. I've heard it from any number of Mormon pulpits. "Moroni's Promise" is not (supposedly) contingent upon implementing the gospel in one's life and waiting 20 or 30 years. If it is someone ought to notify Provo so they can update the missionary training materials.
quote:
I certainly agree that the docterine ought to make for good people. I do not know what Mormons you know, but most of the ones I know are good people, some of the best I have seen.
All of the Mormons I know, personally are good people, as far as I can tell. Then again, most of the non-Mormons, Jews, Buddhist, Atheists, Agnostics, and Wiccans I know are good people. My mother is a good person, too. If she were less so, she'd probably have a less difficult time of reconciling her understanding of her religion with her life experience. I think I'm basically a good person. I attribute quite a lot of that to my upbrining which was highly influenced by Mormonism. The fact that I am still around to be a good person I attribute to being honest enough with myself to leave. Please don't take this as a slap against Mormons. It isn't. It is simply my experience, honestly related. There are any number of people, many on this forum, whose experiences are different. I simply submit that Mormonism (as implemented in the world) isn't for everyone, and can actually be harmful to some.
quote:
My statement that one should continue to live their life as best they can and they will find God when THEY are ready, does not make Moroni or James worthless.
You're misstating the arguement. You submitted as an alternative possibility to receiving no answer in response to an honest and sincere seeking of divine guidance the possiblity that "He expects you to continue trying your best to live a moral life and when HE thinks you are ready he will reveal himself to you in the way that would benefit you the most?" Both James and Moroni promise a witness in response to prayer, albeit faithful and sincere prayer. But the promise is to reward sincerity, not persistence (or gullibility). Neither of them say "take all these things and live a good life and at some unspecified time perhaps years down the road you'll get a witness". If that is what they meant, then well, something definitely got lost in the translation.

quote:
You have said you would be happy if God would do 10% of what people expect of him. 1: You cannot see to the full extent what God DOES do. 2: What exactly would constitute 10% for you?
Again, you're playing fast and loose with your restatement of my arguements. I'd pretty much be happy if he would just give all honest seekers the same answer. Clearly he doesn't. To believe otherwise is to believe the majority of humanity is insincere, or unworthy of coherent direction. My 10% wasn't 10% of what people expect of God, it was 10% of what people expect of fathers for them to even qualify for the title in a non-biological sense. What kind of "father" is it who leaves his children in a room alone with dozens of different notes providing conflicting instruction and no sure way to tell which one is from Him? The words to describe this kind of action do not also describe any kind of "father" anyone would be happy to have. 10 percent, to me, would at the very least be to leave a number and a phone and actually be there to answer it for everyone. You will say God did this. Here is the number and phone (prayer). Well, I called that number and got dead air. I didn't even get his answering machine. I got this consistently a thousand times.
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KarlEd
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quote:
OR discouraged from partaking in communion).
As Missionaries, in my mission, prospective members were discouraged from partaking of the sacrament (i.e. communion, i.e. bread and water, etc.) after explaining to them what it represented, specifically a renewal of convenants they had not yet made. I guess YMMV.
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BlackBlade
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KarlEd: No I am pretty sure Alma Chapter 32 is directed to the non believer.

I know that MANY missionaries say Search, Ponder, and Pray. I mean geez its a primary song for crying out loud. And I did not say somebody would have to wait YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS. I said I have confidence that the answer would come soon, but I acknowledge the possibility that it might take a considerable amount of time before an answer is found. I am loathe to speak for God.

MORE IMPORTANTLY I said that if there is a God and he did take a LONG time to answer somebody, I leave the explanation in his hands.

I completely disagree that Mormonism could be harmful to anybody. But I say that in the way I believe water is not harmful to anybody. But if you dunk somebodies head underwater and hold it there, yes they will drown, but thats not how you apply water (religion) anyway.

Are you blaming God for all the religions that exist in the world? For all the evil that exists?

Your statement that there is no SURE way to know which way is right is something I have disagreed with this whole time. I KNOW God is capable of convincing anybody sufficiently that his way is the right way. It remains for the individual to allow him that window of opportunity.

If you read all the literature, tried your best to live it and still feel God did not keep his end of the bargain well then keep trying your best to be a good person and let God explain himself, just don't make the mistake of devaluing that knowledge. As I said before, knowing there is a God and his plan for us is the most important thing that could ever be known. It takes 11 years of schooling to learn calculus, how long have you tried to learn about the existance of God?

oh and BTW in my mission we were told to explain what sacrement was to the potential convert and if they desired to take the sacrement they were welcome to.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I KNOW God is capable of convincing anybody sufficiently that his way is the right way.
What proof do you have of this? Assuming that you believe Mormonism is the "right way," there's overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
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BaoQingTian
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Reading some of Karl's landmarks might shed some light on things BlackBlade.
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MightyCow
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I KNOW God is capable of convincing anybody sufficiently that his way is the right way. It remains for the individual to allow him that window of opportunity.

This is a tough thing for many people to accept. I was a practicing Christian for at least 10 years, then a doubtful but sincerely searching Christian for about 10 more. During that time, during thousands of prayers, hundreds of church visits and sermons, I never felt convinced that God was real to me.

As far as I could determine, with 20 years worth of sincere searching, prayer, good living, and Christian study (I was 1 class away from a minor in theology at a Jesuit university) God had nothing to say to me.

According to how I understand your belief, either I didn't give God a sufficient window of opportunity, or God expects more blind faith from me before he shows me the truth.

From my standpoint, it seems like I was a sucker, knocking on the door of an empty house and standing outside waiting for someone to answer it for 20 years.

Once I stepped back, I realized that the curtains weren't closed for privacy of the person inside, but because there was nobody inside. The roof wasn't falling apart because the owner expected me to fix it, but because there was no owner.

My friends were listening intently to the windows, convinced that they heard murmuring from inside, going through all the old mail trying to figure out more about this elusive man hiding away, who would some day open the door and share with them all the secrets of the world.

I eventually decided that since the mail hadn't been picked up in over 2,000 years, and nobody would answer the door, no matter how loudly or persistently I knocked, there must be nobody home.

My friends are still reading the old mail and listening to the house settle and the wind through the eves, convinced that they're hearing the man inside go about his important business.

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BlackBlade
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Tom Davidon: I can only say it worked for me, and the God that came through on that promise said that it can work for everybody who wants it to.

Are you sure you were knocking on the right address Might Cow? If you got an authentic post card addressed to you in the mail from God would you be too upset with how he wronged you in the past to respond?

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suminonA
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KarlEd, from what you said in your last posts I deduce that:
1) You needed at some point the “support of religion” but have been somehow let down
2) You are now happier without the same need of that specific “support”
Is that a correct “summary”?

NOTE: This does not want to prove anything (neither about KarlEd or anyone in particular/general), it is just to see how it relates to the main topic of this thread.

I am sure there are (even here) people that went trough these “steps”:
1) Being an atheist/agnostic and actually feeling that “something was missing”
2) They found some specific religion and helped by some subjective experience finally felt that they found what was missing in their life (i.e. faith).

Which story is “better” depends strongly on “what side one is” concerning their religion. And of course, there are a lot more possible “stories”, I just tried to bring up two “opposing” ones [Wink]

With some “remote” connection, what MightyCow said here:

quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
It sounds to me that according to your method of reasoning, all religions are equally true. People don't seem to have any ability to determine truth objectively, only blindly follow which faith they were born into.

brings me very close to my next question (for you all):

Do you (really) think that you would have come to the same conclusions about religion as you hold now (i.e. the one in particular that you subscribe to, or atheism/agnosticism or something else) if you had been born in another place on Earth (in a society following another religion as a majority)?
What would be the “mechanism” for a child born in a predominantly Catholic society to become a … Muslim for example? Is that possible? But the other way around? Is your present view on religon a result of your personal NEED, or is it just the product of the society around you?

A.

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katharina
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quote:
Do you (really) think that you would have come to the same conclusions about religion as you hold now (i.e. the one in particular that you subscribe to, or atheism/agnosticism or something else) if you had been born in another place on Earth (in a society following another religion as a majority)?
Probably not. This makes me very grateful that I was born where and when I was.
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Amanecer
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quote:
Do you (really) think that you would have come to the same conclusions about religion as you hold now (i.e. the one in particular that you subscribe to, or atheism/agnosticism or something else) if you had been born in another place on Earth (in a society following another religion as a majority)?
Probably not. But then again I doubt that I would have come to the same conclusions (or be the same person) if I had lived any life that differed significantly from my own.
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KarlEd
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I'll tentatively concede the Alma thing, then since it's been so long since I've read the BoM that I can't remember the context of specific chapters.

quote:
I am loathe to speak for God.
Except insofar as it is to make apologies on his behalf. ( [Wink] )

quote:
Are you blaming God for all the religions that exist in the world? For all the evil that exists?
Well wouldn't that be a silly thing for an atheist to do? I'm more pointing to the incredible preponderance of religions and creeds as evidence that God either doesn't exist; is happy with letting people do their own thing; loves chaos; or is a singularly poor entity for arranging circumstances to ensure that the sincere find and follow him. (Of course, I'm an optimist when it comes to assumptions of sincerity. YMMV).

quote:
It remains for the individual to allow him that window of opportunity.
This is the most pernicious tautology of this type of discussion. "You have to be faithful. You didn't get an answer, ergo you weren't faithful enough." Or more precisely, "You have to allow God a window of opportunity. No, not that window. He clearly didn't mean that one or you would have gotten an answer." [Roll Eyes] I'm sure you don't mean it this way, but LORD! that lands on my ears with such arrogance.

quote:
just don't make the mistake of devaluing that knowledge.
What knowledge are you presuming I am devaluing?

quote:
As I said before, knowing there is a God and his plan for us is the most important thing that could ever be known. It takes 11 years of schooling to learn calculus, how long have you tried to learn about the existance of God?
39 and counting*. And in math once you learn that 2+2 doesn't equal 5, you do yourself a disservice holding onto the possiblity that it might, someday.

(*to clarify, I don't discount the possiblity of some being somewhere to which the label "God" might be applied. I just believe that the Christian/Jewish/Muslim God does not exist, and the others I know anything about are just irrelevant even if they do exist. My atheism is really a case by case thing.)

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