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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » What I Believe. (A Landmark at 4000) (Page 1)

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Author Topic: What I Believe. (A Landmark at 4000)
KarlEd
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As I neared 4000 posts, I debated whether I would write a landmark post for that one or not. It hasn't been all that long since my 3000th post, and nothing landmark worthy has really happened in my life since then. Still, I like the idea of landmark posts. I think they appeal to me in the same way birthdays and New Year's Day, and turns of decades and centuries do.

A large portion of the non-fluff posts in the last 1000 I've written have been about belief, faith, agnosticism, creationism, etc, and I thought more and more that a post about what I believe might be interesting, if not for you guys, then at least for myself [Wink] . The following is my view on God, life, purpose, and the universe. It is not meant as a challenge to anyone's own beliefs. It is the world as I see it.

I've variously described myself as both an atheist and an agnostic. Which I really am depends on the context of the discussion at hand, and the particular definition of God being offered. If by "God" you mean "creator" and nothing else, I'm an agnostic. I don't reject the idea that intelligence is ultimately behind the existence of the universe, but I also don't think intelligence is a necessary component in the creation and evolution of our cosmos, either. What I do believe is that even if there is an intelligence involved in the creation of our universe it is too far removed from our own existence to have any relevance in our daily lives. Even so, if there is any godly attribute I do believe in, it is the power of creation. All of us humans have a portion of that power, and when we exercise it we come closer to God, even if he is a mythical ideal.

On the other hand, if by "God" you mean what almost everyone else means, I'm an atheist. I believe there is no God who cares about our little planet and the people hereon in any capacity other than spectator, if even that. There is no god who intervenes in daily life. There is no redemption or salvation except that which we work out for ourselves. There are no objective miracles.

I believe what we call "scripture" is collected human attempts at wisdom. Some of it strikes closer to the Wisdom goal than others of it, and its value is more as a sounding board for the reader than for any objective wisdom it contains. Collecting some of it - or even all of it - in fine leather and stamping it "Divine" serves more to perpetuate error, stagnation, and partisanship than it does to provide a guide for progress or salvation.

I believe that, in spite of my atheism, I am a man of faith. I have faith in humanity. I have faith that most people, once they have what they need to survive, want others to have the same and more. I have faith in "pay it forward" (the concept, not the despicable movie). I firmly believe that small acts of kindness replicate themselves, both in those you affect with kindness, and in your own capacity for kindness. Unlike matter and energy, kindness can be created. Each act of kindness, no matter how small, increases the spiritual warmth of the universe. Even the tiniest of kindnesses has the potential to set off a chain reaction that could grow exponentially.

I believe that if life has any meaning it is what we, ourselves, give it and that such a purpose is no less valid or valuable from having come from within us. Personally, I find it much more meaningful and beautiful to believe that we can discover or even create meaning on our own than to believe it must be thrust up on us.

I believe a purpose of life is to advance the evolution of intelligence. Intelligence is the most wonderful thing the universe has produced thus far (that we are aware of). It is also our best hope for solving the problems of the universe. Another purpose is the accumulation of knowledge. Education, both our own and that of others, is one of the noblest endeavors. Another is the alleviation of suffering. It might be impossible for it to be eradicated, but it can at least be held at bay.

I'm still adding to this list so I don't pretend it is anywhere near complete. Other purposes I think have value when kept in perspective but don't quite make the cut as ultimate purposes are: the creation of beauty; the development of technology; the building of relationships. To me these have value insofar as they advance the other purposes listed. Does my life always emulate these ideals? Frankly, no. But I do feel best about myself when I can see my actions furthering these purposes.

So, I'm not offering any of the above as scripture, or particularly grand wisdom, or anything of the sort. In the tradition of landmarks, I'm simply offering it as a window into the way I think. I'm open to discussing anything I've written above, and I have no problem trying to defend it. It's a work in progress. You can only progress so far alone in your own head. [Smile]

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Teshi
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[Smile]
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El JT de Spang
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I agree wholeheartedly with your definition of "God". I have a similar view on scripture as well.

And as for progressing alone in your head, Einstein got quite a bit done that way.

Happy landmark!

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Treason
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/clap
Yay for Karl's landmark thread!
I always love reading your posts Karl, and I know if we had met randomly in life we would be fast friends.
Thank you for sharing what you believe with us.

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ludosti
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I always make a point to read your posts Karl. They are really well-thought-out and often just really resonate with me (I really loved what you said about kindness here). Thanks for being a part of Hatrack so I can bask in your wisdom and spirit. [Smile]
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Olivet
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Thank you, Karl. [Smile] Lovely landmark.
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firebird
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[Smile]

Thank you for sharing ... I have similar views on Scripture and God myself.

I always find your posts to be kind and clear and honourable ...

A toast to a good human being

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Amanecer
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I love reading your posts. Beauty and truth radiates from them. I can’t even count how many of your words have brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing for with us KarlEd.
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SenojRetep
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Karl-

I have dissimilar views on Scripture and God (which shouldn't surprise you), but appreciate the seriousness with which you view our moral obligations as people. A world devoid of suffering and ignorance where we could all spend our time creating beautiful things would be, well, Heaven [Smile]

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KarlEd
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"Were the randomness of life a little different, I would be fast friends with Treason."

I have GOT to use that line somewhere. [Big Grin]

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Pericles
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I'm not trying to cynical or anything but can you please try to explain to me what exorcism are if God doesn't exist? An exorcist is an actual real-life occupation. Within each diocese ( a community of parishes focussing around a particular main Cathedral) a priest is chosen by secret ballot to be an exorcist. The Vatican actually has a instruction manual, if you will, on how to do an exorcism. Very official and professional, not some type of superstition.
Furthermore, I'm not sure if you're familiar of the miracle at Fatima, Portugal, where over 70,000 witnessed the same miracle. People ranging from relgious, pilgrims, scientists, journalists, Christians, Pagans, atheists,and agnostics. They have interviewed thousands of people who witnessed the same miracle, people from nearby villges reported to seeing the same thing.
They have an interview with a mason (anti-christian, anti-catholic) journalists who actually converted after seeing the miracle.
I'm sorry but if 70,000 people all witness the same thing, it is very hard to argue that it didn't happen. Check for yourself, google exorcism or fatima and find a respctable site of your choice. Also, another interesting thing to look up are certain Saint. One example can be Padre Pio of Italy who recieved the stigmata. I'm doubt that these things will convince you but it may raise more interesting questions.

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Corwin
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Mmmm, some more of Karl-insight! [Smile] Thanks for sharing this. I'm pretty much in the same basket as you with regard to religious beliefs.

quote:
I'm not trying to cynical or anything but can you please try to explain to me what exorcism are if God doesn't exist?
Probably most of the time exorcism is treating an illness with the wrong methods. I've seen several cases where this happened and I think even those for which no explanation has been found yet might fall in the same cathegory. In my opinion just because we can't identify & cure does not mean it's from God. Same goes for Fatima; I still think it's jumping to conclusions without trying to investigate.

My way of life: "I doubt, therefore I exist." [Big Grin]

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Goo Boy
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I'm glad you're around, Karl. [Smile] I too have been trying to work through what I believe, and so, while my theological leanings are not quite the same as yours, I share the impulse.

If you ever come to Florida, we must get together. [Razz]

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Goo Boy
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Masons are not anti-Christian. In fact, faith is a requirement for membership.

Also, your assumption, that Karl is an unbeliever solely because be has not examined what people believe, is erroneous. Read his other landmarks, and you'll see that be has thought and examined more than most believers and most unbelievers.

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Telperion the Silver
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Awesome landmark namesake.
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KarlEd
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Not being a student of psychology, or even Catholic doctrine, I cannot tell you what exorcism is in any way you can't find in a dictionary. What I'm supposing you're asking is how does the apparent phenomenon fit in with my worldview?

I don't think that exorcism is the removal of a rogue spirit or demon that has taken up residence in another person, because I don't believe literal demons exist. It is un-persuasive to me to note that there are "professional exorcists" because there are also professional fortune-tellers, shaman, holistic healers, ghost-whipserers, mediums, faith-healers, and all manner of other professionals who (often quite successfully) ply their trade in our culture. I don't think having a job itself lends any validity to the claim that the job is actually necessary.

Although all the professions above are rife with fraud, I believe many of them also have practicioners who sincerely believe what they are doing is real. However, sincere belief does not make reality. I believe spirit possession is a metaphysical name for a psychological phenomenon, probably some form of schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder. I won't go so far as to say that all exorcisms are shams or that they are never effective. However, I do not believe they are actually what they claim to be. (I can explain this further if you don't already get my meaning.)

I have not studied the "miracle at Fatima" in depth, so the following is admitedly speculation. You can state "over 70,000 witnessed the same miracle", but I think that is assuming too much. Accounts I have read said that many people saw and heard the Virgin Mary. Others simply saw a light. Others saw "something" but couldn't say what they saw, exactly. How many of these latter folk might have "filled in the blanks" so to speak once they heard what others were claiming to have seen?

There is also the fact that the crowd in question had gathered largely expecting, or at least hoping to see something miraculous. Additionally the event took place during a torrential rainstorm. In a world where devoutees see the Virgin in grilled cheese sandwiches, it would almost be more remarkable for such a combination of events to not yield a miraculous experience of some sort. We as a species are hard-wired to try to make sense out of chaos. We are culturally wired to believe in the supernatural on some level, almost universally. Given those two facts, it isn't the least bit remarkable to me that our collective history would include a few cases of simultaneously induced mass delusion. I don't mean to offend anything you hold dear, but you asked the question and I want to be frank about what I believe.

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Scott R
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Karl-- I'm glad that you're a part of Hatrack. You seem a decent fellow. [Big Grin]
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KarlEd
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Thanks, Scott. I appreciate that. I hope my seeming actually carries over into being, but I'm not always so sure of that myself. [Wink]
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Scott R
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No, no, no.

You're supposed to say, "You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

And then I say, "You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die."

[Smile]

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Scott R
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And then we engage in swordplay.
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KarlEd
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Sorry, forgot my lines. [Big Grin] (or what stage I was on, or something.)

How about "I'd sooner smash a stained-glass window than destroy an artist such as yourself?"

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El JT de Spang
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I like Scott's idea.
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Janger
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Actually, the miracle of Fatima occured after the thunderstorm. So there's no excuse for reduced visiblilty. It was actually a clear sky.
If I'm not mistaken, the crowd and the children of Fatima reported seeing different visions.

Here are some quotes which describe what people saw.

"The rain suddenly stopped and the sun came out. At first it seemed to start spinning and then it began to plunge crazily toward the earth. The crowd was terrified. After a moment the sun returned to its normal position and then, twice more, repeated the same maneuver."
-Cyril Charlie Mardindale, The Message of Fatima

"The sky had a certain grayish tint of pearl and a strange clearness filled the gloomy landscape, every moment getting gloomier. The sun seemed to be veiled with transparent gauze to enable us to look at it without difficulty. The grayish tint of mother of pearl began changing as if into a shining silver disc, that was growing slowly until it broke through the clouds. And the silvery sun, still shrouded in the same grayish lightness of gauze, was seen to rotate and wander within the circle of receded clouds! The people cried out with one voice, the thousands of the creatures of God whom faith raised up to heaven, fell to their knees upon the muddy ground."
- The Portuguese newspaper O Dia, May 14, 1917

"As if like a bolt from the blue, the clouds were wrenched apart, and the sun at its zenith appeared in all its splendor. It began to revolve vertiginously on its axis, like the most magnificent firewheel that could be imagined, taking on all the colors of the rainbow and sending forth multi-colored flashes of light, producing the most astounding effect. This sublime and incomparable spectacle, which was repeated three distinct times, lasted for about ten minutes. The immense multitude, overcome by the evidence of such a tremendous prodigy, threw themselves on their knees."
- Dr. Formigao, a professor at the seminary at Santarem


Another observer who witnessed these events was Joseph Garrett, a natural sciences professor at Coimbra University. Dr. Garrett described the events in a similar manner:

This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamor was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmamant and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during these moments was terrible.

An atheistic reporter commented on the event: "One could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared free from clouds and at its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. One might have thought an eclipse was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: "A miracle! A miracle!" Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was Biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - yes, the sun 'danced'!"


You can see that these sources vary but all claim they saw a similar vision. Personally, even if I was expecting and hoping to see a miracle, I doubt I would even imagine seeing what these people claim to have seen.

What the children had seen is recorded in Lucia's journal

After our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus seemed to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our lady; it seemed to me to that it was Our Lady of Sorrows (Dolors). Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel. [Only Lucia would see the later, presaging her entrance into Carmel some years later.]

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ludosti
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psst Janger - I think you missed these few lines at the very beginning of Karl's first post: "The following is my view on God, life, purpose, and the universe. It is not meant as a challenge to anyone's own beliefs. It is the world as I see it." Not everyone sees eye-to-eye, and that's ok. [Smile]
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Bob the Lawyer
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Well, that's it then, I think you've convinced him. After years of soul searching and religious study it turns out that all it actually took for Karl to rediscover his faith was a few posts by unknown faithful on an internet forum. If only he'd known this would happen years sooner.

But don't worry, Karl, I won't hold it against you. Happy landmark!

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Janger
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Whoops! Just explaining. I personally think there's so much evidence that God exists and so much love because of it that all people should know. I mean, if you knew something so wonderful, beautiful, and so much full of love existed, you would not keep it a secret to yourself. You would share it with your spouse, your children, your friends, and neighbours. I guess I'm just a naive Catholic living in a dream world.
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Bob the Lawyer
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"Do not do unto others as you expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same."
-Shaw


[Smile]

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romanylass
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Karl, thanks for sharing all your insights and thoughts here. I always enjoy reading your deeper thoughts.
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Janger
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And I'm sorry Karl if it seems like I'm reprimanding and trying to preach. I guess I am, really. Anyways, no hard feelings? Happy landmark.
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firebird
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Janger you sound like a really sweet and kind 'naive Catholic'.

While I know that, I can't help reading what you think is clearly evidence and undenyable and thinking ... wow there really are many delusional people in the world. Delusional is not meant to be derogatory, just that I don't think they saw what they think they saw.

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ClaudiaTherese
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KarlEd, I love your mind and your heart. I really do.

Thanks.

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twinky
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quote:
I believe a purpose of life is to advance the evolution of intelligence.
Then you will be most pleased to hear that apparently humans are actually getting smarter! [Smile]

(I thought that was pretty neat when I heard it, myself.)

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I guess I'm just a naive Catholic living in a dream world.
Yes. But there's no shame in that, as long as you don't actually expect everyone to live in the same world you do.
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Nell Gwyn
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Very nice landmark! I don't always have time to read every thread, but all of your posts that I've read have been most admirable. And what you believe was interesting for me. [Smile]
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MyrddinFyre
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[Smile]
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Tante Shvester
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Nice landmark, Karl. And it just cracks me up that you can post a landmark titled "What I believe", and have people post that they disagree with you and try to change your mind.

What kind of pathetic landmark is that? "What I thought I believed until you kind people set me straight, and I'm working out a new world view based on your suggestions for research and I'll let you know how it all turned out on my 5000th post landmark thread"

Cracks me up! [Big Grin]

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Shan
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[Smile]

Thanks for sharing! Glad you're here! I like reading your posts -

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ElJay
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[Smile] Happy landmark, Karl. As many have said, it's always a pleasure to read your posts, and I'm so glad you're a part of hatrack. I look forward to meeting you in person someday.
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TomDavidson
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quote:

And it just cracks me up that you can post a landmark titled "What I believe", and have people post that they disagree with you and try to change your mind.

You should look up what happened to my one landmark some time. [Smile]
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dkw
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Happy Landmark, Karl. [Smile]
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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
You should look up what happened to my one landmark some time.

I just did. What a riot! I may never post a landmark on this forum after reading what went on in yours.
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Treason
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Karl "


"Were the randomness of life a little different, I would be fast friends with Treason."

I have GOT to use that line somewhere. "


[Big Grin]
You can call me Nikki if you like, but I guess then it wouldn't be as funny.

As you wish...

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Zotto!
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Thanks for sharing that, Karl; you're one of the good guys, and I've learned a lot in my years of lurkerdom from reading your posts. [Smile]
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Bob_Scopatz
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Thanks KarlEd. I enjoyed reading your landmark and I appreciate you sharing further insights into your mind and spirit. I have always thought of you as a person of faith and I also really like that you present your opinions as a work in progress. You are a wonderful asset to this community, IMHO, in so many ways. But most recently it has been your threads on religion that have served to remind us how that topic can be dealt with in a respectful and calm manner. If anyone needed proof that you live your faith, it's right there in your starting posts where you just simply asked us all to be on our best behavior, and we did it!

I'm perplexed by the fact that two people who joined in 2003 and have accummulated less than 100 posts between them in all that time found it imperative that they post in response to KarlEd's thread to promote a Catholic worldview. It just seems amazingly coincidental.

(ps to Tom, I re-read your landmark thread at 8000 and it's really quintessentially Hatrack from first post to last. I'm so glad these things get archived so I can read things like a thread from 2002 and see that despite my concerns, not that much really has changed here.)

[ October 20, 2005, 06:41 AM: Message edited by: Bob_Scopatz ]

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KarlEd
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quote:
Originally posted by ludosti:
psst Janger - I think you missed these few lines at the very beginning of Karl's first post: "The following is my view on God, life, purpose, and the universe. It is not meant as a challenge to anyone's own beliefs. It is the world as I see it." Not everyone sees eye-to-eye, and that's ok. [Smile]

Thanks, ludosti. But don't forget, there's also the line "I'm open to discussing anything I've written above, and I have no problem trying to defend it. It's a work in progress." I mean that sincerely, too. [Smile]

quote:
Originally posted by Janger:
Whoops! Just explaining. I personally think there's so much evidence that God exists and so much love because of it that all people should know. I mean, if you knew something so wonderful, beautiful, and so much full of love existed, you would not keep it a secret to yourself. You would share it with your spouse, your children, your friends, and neighbours. I guess I'm just a naive Catholic living in a dream world.

I'm sure you don't really believe the last line, and I hope you don't feel like I've said that. I can't escape the implications of my beliefs, (i.e. that I think those who do believe in God and miracles, etc, are mistaken) but I try to at least accept the possibility that I am the mistaken one. I think that's only fair given that: A. I'm implicity asking others to entertain the possibility that they are wrong. B. I do hold out the possiblity that there is some sort of higher being somewhere (probably outside our timestream). I just don't believe he/she/it fits any popular definition of "God".

I welcome your explanation re: Fatima. I just don't accept it at face value. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. For 70,000 people, there seems to be a relatively miniscule amount of recorded testimony of something so extraordinary as the most publicized accounts. Additionally, many of those accounts were not written down until years after the event. Plenty of time to have been influenced by other accounts, wishful thinking, and "band-wagon" mentality.

I believe that 70,000 people might have been there. I might even believe that some of the witnesses with extraordinary accounts of what happened might even believe their own testimonies. However, most of the accounts differ very little from modern accounts of UFO sightings, which I'm equally convinced are not what many of the witnesses believe they are. Add to that the fact that The Vatican itself discounts the "miracle" at Fatima and I stand, still, unpersuaded. I'm certainly not saying this isn't still a debateable subject. It's just not one for me in this thread. If you want to start another thread, I'll read it with interest and probably contribute. [Smile]
quote:
And I'm sorry Karl if it seems like I'm reprimanding and trying to preach. I guess I am, really. Anyways, no hard feelings? Happy landmark.
Absolutely none. I respect good intentions.

quote:
Bob wrote:
I'm perplexed by the fact that two people who joined in 2003 and have accummulated less than 100 posts between them in all that time found it imperative that they post in response to KarlEd's thread to promote a Catholic worldview. It just seems amazingly coincidental.

Actually, I'm kind of flattered when something I write gets a response from a lurker, especially when they are polite and seem sincere. I mean there's tons of stuff I skip over just because I don't have the time to read everything, and I probably respond to only a tiny fraction of what I do read.

And thanks for your other kind words, Bob. I hope I'm an asset here, but I think you are the glue.

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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
And thanks for your other kind words, Bob. I hope I'm an asset here, but I think you are the glue.
And what bounces off Karl's a-- ... nevermind.

[Wink]

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kmbboots
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Karl,

I remember your first post like it was yesterday and it's been 6, 7 years now? I feel really old! You've been an asset to this forum since the beginning.

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KarlEd
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Wow, I don't even remember my first post. I bet it was something about homosexuality, though, huh. [Wink]
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kmbboots
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Yup. Grayson Towler and I (among others) were "having it out" with John Hansen and Morgan (among others).
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twinky
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Bob? The glue? But Bob is a newbie! [Wink]
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