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Old 08-17-2013, 02:52 PM
 
Location: Downtown Raleigh
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Fewer than 1/3 of people on Earth are Christian. It seems unreasonable to me that a god with a conscience would have created humanity to live 100 years on earth and suffer eternally in hell for beliefs they cannot control and which are largely a product of birth circumstances.
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Old 08-18-2013, 12:23 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by NoCapo View Post
Ultimately belief is not about being smart. It is about handling cognitive dissonance, and how you reconcile it. At the end of the day, I could not reconcile what I saw with what my faith promised. Others in may family have found ways to redefine their belief or change their perspective in order to patch around the discontinuities.

-NoCapo
I absolutely believe that is what it comes down to. I have a very low tolerance for cognitive dissonance so for me to remain a Christian would have required a fairly fortunate existence. I suspect I would have been perfectly content to remain in the faith if people hadn't been suffering and dying right and left around me, if my first marriage had been a very good one and had lasted to this day, etc. I had zero ability to set these things aside with some hand-waving statement about "god moves in mysterious ways". However I recognize that this suffices for many, even if I can't get my arms around how it possibly could.
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Old 08-18-2013, 12:44 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by Quadro1 View Post
It seems unreasonable to me that God would have created us with a conscience, and not provided a way for man to get real victory over evil.
I think that your argument basically comes down to the quoted statement. In order to evaluate it, we must define "evil" and what constitutes "victory over evil".

I am currently vacationing in Turkey, where "evil" is in part defined as "eating pork". Where family is all-important, such that "evil" is also in part defined as "moving away from your parents when you grow up" and "not getting married by the time you are done with university".

I suppose you would say that all comes from a false construct called Islam, so let's narrow it down to Christianity. I can show you Christians who would define evil / sin / wrongdoing as not going to confession often enough (for some given value of "often enough"), wearing skirts less than ankle length, speaking against the charismatic gifts of the holy spirit, drinking alcoholic beverages, cursing, imagining what it is like to have sex, listening to "rock music", sending your children to the godless public schools, or living outside some religious community that you belong to.

Since even fundamentalist Christianity cannot demonstrate that it has an objective definition for "evil", I fail to see what would constitute "victory" over evil.

We then have to examine the implications of "victory". That word implies a battle, and that battle is generally defined as the struggle against the "sin nature". Yet the Bible clearly states right alongside Paul's hand-wringing about his internal battles that "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all is become new". Regardless of how you manage to sort that out in your head, I have to question a belief-system where god creates man as he is and/or allows him to become corrupted to what he currently is and then despite going through all the baroque steps of redeeming him, still requires that he live his entire life as one of self-loathing and battling with himself. This hardly strikes me as "victory" or liberation from a bad situation. Personally I get much better mileage in life out of accepting myself as I am -- and others as they are -- and limiting my admonishments to myself and others to advocation of counter-intuitive behaviors that avoid long term harm to myself and my fellow man. This is a much healthier way of looking at the human condition IMO. It is not about rejecting some imagined inner filth, it is about getting along with one another in the long term. Properly understood, morality is acting rationally in society's long term self interest.

So to your statement -- god did not create us with a conscience; we have evolved a conscience as a social creature and it is simply a sensitivity to the best, sustainable, long-term interest of ourselves and others -- a sensitivity to social mores, taboos, and conformities that give us a rough guide about what lines not to cross so that we can play well with others. The idea of beating oneself up over the occasional failures or peccadilloes that we have is a totally unhelpful adaptation that will either be eventually selected out of humanity, or, will be retained as a brake for those with poor impulse control (since evolution does not care about quality of life, only about survival). However, unlike evolution, I DO care about my quality of life and I do not wish to live constantly at war with myself as I have enough things to overcome in life without being my own worst enemy.
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Old 08-18-2013, 03:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Quadro1 View Post
Arequipa,
The conversation seems to have passed by, but I told you I would address the topic of why I believe my encounter was in fact an encounter with God. So, unless it will start making eyes glaze over, I will do so.
Strident atheists claim that the concept of God produces evil, and they have half a point. God concepts involve concepts of the greatest rewards imaginable, the greatest responsibilities possible, and the most dreadful punishments comprehendible. They also foster communities based on these premises. It is very easy for the leaders of such communities to abuse their power in the name of responsibilty to God, or the reward of heaven, or the fear of hell. And that is unfortunately exactly what we see throughout history. In essence, the concept of God can be used to justify the same expression of the sin nature in said community, that would have been similarly expressed if that community simply accepted evil as its mandate. As a critic of the Calvin/Servetus affair pointed out, if that was of Jesus, what is there left for the devil to do? We see that in the fundamentalist movement in 1920. We had the political clout to pass prohibition. Yet in the south we justified racism on religious grounds. (My position is a fundamentalist one - I accept their tenets (largely) but I judge their application.) It took secularists to teach us morality - thus providing the moral authority for the progressive movement.
What was needed was the religion Jesus actually described - a religion that not only offers forgiveness of our sins, but works powerfully against our very sin nature. You mentioned the emotional high that conversion brings, and equated it with the experience I described. There is no equivalency here. The convert who only ecperiences the emotion falls away - either completely as relapsed atheists you mentioned, or secretly, one who talks the talk, but has no spiritual energy to get victory overthose base sins that cause evil to flower.
Yet there are, among the false, also truly transformed people. While not perfect, ever seriously seeking not just Gods kingdom, but also his righteousness.
Any false religion, and even no religion at all can take a good man and keep him a good man. It takes the power of God, however, to take a man, thoroughly marinated in evil, and transform him into a good man.
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It seems unreasonable to me that God would have created us with a conscience, and not provided a way for man to get real victory over evil.
I don't want to sound un -gentle or dismissive, but I am afraid that this provides not the slightest reason to suppose that your experience was actually with God. I accept the experience. I repeat that it is equally explainable as a human mental effect.

Your theopolitical musings are irrelevant unless the experience is credibly placed on a God -reality and indeed Jesus as tool of God basis.

It will come as no surprise to the regulars here that I regard a cosmic mind as possible as not and even a creator god with a hands on brief as possible, but far more unlikely - as unlikely as dinosaurs still existing and far less likely than Flying saucers (if we go on the evidence).

As for the God of the Bible and Jesus as Christ (as distinct from Jesus as Jew), I regard those as not at all credible and I will be one of the atheists that say 'There is no God. God (Biblegod) does not exist and Jesus (as Christ) is a myth'.

The only point you and I have to profitably discuss is your mystical transformation and what the nature of it actually was. My money is on an as yet imperfectly understood effect of the brain.
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:24 AM
 
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Our failure to accept unverifiable and nonsense anecdote from you is NOT a failure in our understanding, but a useful application of it in the face of your failure to understand our positions and approaches.
May I ask why do you say the individual's belief is 'nonsense'? Some do understand your position. From the looks of it for sure the twain shall never meet. Probably never meant to. One of our perplexing questions in human life. We'll perhaps know everything when we're dead. Maybe then we'll get the questions answered...;-)....
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Old 08-18-2013, 01:32 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by travric View Post
May I ask why do you say the individual's belief is 'nonsense'?
I will not speak for Nozz, but I will say that, even as an atheist, I used to cringe at such bluntness and felt that it was a bit needlessly harsh. But as the years go by, I am more and more willing to "call it as it is". Within a few years of leaving the faith, as I got some distance from the reality distortion field of religion, I could more objectively see it for what it was -- and after dealing with the adamant, intransigent, eyes-wide-shut insistence on dogma for dogma's sake, there are times when it seems that only brutal honesty has the slightest chance of shocking some folks out of their deep slumber.

I am still willing to respect people's right to believe what they feel they need to, but in a forum like this I kind of need those same people to respect me also by actually addressing the points I raise. Too often I make points A, B and C, only to have them "respond" to D, E and F that I never brought up, and all three of those are straw men anyway. One grows weary of hearing the same tired old arguments parroted over and over as if simple repetition makes them so. I would have much more respect if a theist would just honestly say, well, I don't really have a response to A, B and C and don't particularly want to, sorry. At least that would be honest. I have actually on rare occasions had a believer admit that they choose to believe because to do otherwise is too challenging or disturbing, and I am perfectly happy to leave such people in their bubble. Ultimately we all have to do whatever it takes to get through the day.

But it's the people who come here insisting their position is rational, provable, justifiable, coherent and that in fact every rational argument presented against them is willfully stupid that I tend to get a bit "tetchy" with. And that should not surprise anyone, really.
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Old 08-18-2013, 02:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post
.. Too often I make points A, B and C, only to have them "respond" to D, E and F that I never brought up, and all three of those are straw men anyway. ...
sooth.
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Old 08-18-2013, 04:37 PM
 
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Mordant,
For this conversation I define evil in the generally accepted sense. Murder, robbery, dishonesty, violence, etc.
You are right in that there is angst concerning sin in the Christian life, but it is not quite as you describe. When I was born again, which as you obviously know, is what the apostle Paul was referring to in the passage you quoted, it was as if a window opened up im my soul. A window of connection with God. I knew God. I enjoyed knowing God. I liked being close to God. I disliked feeling separated from him when I sinned. Therefore I try to live as holy a life as possible to keep close to God. Is there angst? Yes. Does angst define my life? No. My fellowship and friendship with God does.

Arequipa,
Evil is a huge, probably defining problem of mankind. We will see how how defining, by how man handles the incredible rise of technology he is experiencing. We dont know how to cure evil.
Jesus Christ actually has power to, not just provide emotional highs to new converts, but provide actual healing of deeply ingrained sin and evil. One of my friends used to be a Muslim terrorist, who had killed, tortured, maimed for years. He was evil throughout - by his own admission. He trusted Jesus as His Savior from sin, And God took as all the hatred, violence, and anger away from him, and replaced it with a loving relationship with Himself. As with me, he experienced much of the change immediately. I asked him what first made him realize something was different, he replied, when he immediately threw his pistol out as far as he could in yhe surf of the Meditteranean. That was decades ago, he is still following Jesus, still enjoying a relationship with him.
If it were just an emotional high that came, I would likely agree with you. But there is more, there is a cure for something man cannot otherwise cure.
One reason I believe my encounter was with God, is that this kind of ecounter cures the impulse for evil in man. And I expect that the God Who created our conscience has also provided real salvation from sin, that would transform evil men to good men.
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Old 08-18-2013, 05:34 PM
 
4,456 posts, read 3,704,957 times
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I will not speak for Nozz, but I will say that, even as an atheist, I used to cringe at such bluntness and felt that it was a bit needlessly harsh. But as the years go by, I am more and more willing to "call it as it is". Within a few years of leaving the faith, as I got some distance from the reality distortion field of religion, I could more objectively see it for what it was -- and after dealing with the adamant, intransigent, eyes-wide-shut insistence on dogma for dogma's sake, there are times when it seems that only brutal honesty has the slightest chance of shocking some folks out of their deep slumber.

Perhaps. But really we can see that 'bluntless' toward and a seeming disparagement of beliefs surely, in fact, dissuades those in the 'debate' to even consider principles inherent in the ideas coursing through each other. We fight from full-loaded ramparts. This surely stifles respect and understanding. Frankly, there is much intellectaul power here but sometimes I feel it is negated by the inanity of the responses to avowed beliefs. Not nice....;-)....

Problem is this philsophical 'war' cannot be won in the court of public opinion. It really resides in er all our 'souls' and by that I mean our 'inner core' of our personality where there apparently is no giving quarter at all to the issue. It's almost as if it is life or death. I know this won't change but I say all this anyway. I'm trying to hold the flag up in my own way for intelligent and respectful discourse on this utterly utterly controversial issue...;-)....
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Old 08-18-2013, 08:39 PM
 
39,070 posts, read 10,842,814 times
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Originally Posted by Quadro1 View Post
...
Arequipa,
Evil is a huge, probably defining problem of mankind. We will see how how defining, by how man handles the incredible rise of technology he is experiencing. We dont know how to cure evil.
Jesus Christ actually has power to, not just provide emotional highs to new converts, but provide actual healing of deeply ingrained sin and evil. One of my friends used to be a Muslim terrorist, who had killed, tortured, maimed for years. He was evil throughout - by his own admission. He trusted Jesus as His Savior from sin, And God took as all the hatred, violence, and anger away from him, and replaced it with a loving relationship with Himself. As with me, he experienced much of the change immediately. I asked him what first made him realize something was different, he replied, when he immediately threw his pistol out as far as he could in yhe surf of the Meditteranean. That was decades ago, he is still following Jesus, still enjoying a relationship with him.
If it were just an emotional high that came, I would likely agree with you. But there is more, there is a cure for something man cannot otherwise cure.
One reason I believe my encounter was with God, is that this kind of ecounter cures the impulse for evil in man. And I expect that the God Who created our conscience has also provided real salvation from sin, that would transform evil men to good men.
And yet I have to say frankly, that my experiences with some (far from all) those who have found Jesus in the way you describe is that it makes a person unable to reason objectively, see the truth where it evidence points and even argue on the evidence rather than try to win by trickery. If it takes away evil impulses it may replace it unreasoning conviction in the unfounded and if there was was not the original impulse to shoot or detonate explosive devices in the name of Allah, then the exchange is not for the best.

It may lead to intolerance of those with other beliefs, a conviction that they are entitled to force their views on others and interfere with their lifestyle choices. And even if a spiritual lobotomy turns them from a serial killer into a kneeling, praying Jesus -worshipper, that doesn't alter the evidence that the Christ -story is a myth and that whatever one has found faith in, that does not mean that the faith is in anything real.
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