Let's take things one step at a time

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Dork, Sep 22, 1999.

  1. Dork Registered Member

    Messages:
    20
    Okay, perhaps we should make a list of most of the main topics we're so passionately arguing about, just to make things a little more organized. Maybe we could take one arguement at a time and try to keep it civil (as if I should talk). Here are the main topics:

    1. The existence of God
    2. The existence of Man (and Woman). Do we really exist or is it an illusion?
    3. Creation vs. Evolution (or if they are compatible)
    A. Diviness of Man vs. the Product of Man
    B. What evidence is there to prove either theory?
    4. The existence of absolutes
    5. The existence of existence
    6. Reality based on observation vs. unobserved absolutes
    7. Existence of unseen vs. seen phenomena including time, space, gravity, and the laws therein
    8. The existence of Good or Evil (what are they?)
    9. Quantitative vs. Qualitative observation
    10. Paradox and Irony
    11. Metonomy and Synychdote
    12. Silent and deadly vs. Loud Flatulation :|

    If there are more ideas (and they can go on and on, I know) then please feel free to add them. All I know is what I can deduce from what I've heard, seen, tasted, felt, smelt, or generally delt. Oh yeah, and experienced, to creatively think of ideas.

    I'll start it out. I used to be an agnostic and made fun of bible thumpers. Then, when I became a Christian and started reading the bible, I really found it to be a compelling, thought provoking book. I just can't see how something that was written over a period of thousands of years and more than 40 authors with countless prophecies coming true to the letter can be false. Maybe someone can enlighten me, I am not trying to be smug, but dang, it sure seems to be the truth when I read it. Plus, how could something so abstractly absurd as existence with all of the things in it be formed from nothing and not have an intelligence behind it?

    Someone reply and start the arguement process right...about........NOW!!!

    Dork

    [This message has been edited by Dork (edited September 21, 1999).]

    [This message has been edited by Dork (edited September 22, 1999).]

    [This message has been edited by Dork (edited September 22, 1999).]
     
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  3. Oxygen One Hissy Kitty Registered Senior Member

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    Okay, I'll probably regret this in the morning, but...

    I used to be Catholic. I even went to St. Mary's for 7th grade. I have actually read the entire bible all the way through. I found it full of not only the standard contadictions that everybody talks about, I found the very character of god to be inconsistent. Although kind and loving at first, he becomes a vindictive, petty, and even abusive entity. Moses I found to as corrupt and corruptable as any Roman Emperor as well as being two-faced. He and Aaron sure had a nice little operation going. eventually, god seems to disappear and all we hear are the dictates of people. Most of the stories of the Old Testament are bathed in violence and bloodshed and spontaneous circumcisions. The New Testament is repetitious, and Jesus is shown to have an uncontrollable temper. If this is what we've been following all these generations, no wonder we're in the shape we're in.

    We were told to beware of the falling away. Fall away? I jumped. Although the subject is interesting to study (and maybe my subconcious wants to return to the flock), I have no use for anything that tries to make me submit through guilt. I am an atheist, and it was the bible that drove me away, although I will gladly, maturely, and non-vehemently discourse on the topic.

    So, I'm curious, what truths did YOU find? (Be prepared to support your answers.)
     
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  5. Dork Registered Member

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    Thanks for your views. I am an intermediate Christian and have read the Bible all the way through also. First, I don't believe you are an atheist; agnostic, perhaps, but not an atheist, otherwise you wouldn't be subconciously wanting to find out more about it; and that's what we're going to try and clarify. Yes, I do have to somewhat agree with you on some things such as how the bible does seem to contradict itself in places. But then when I read through again, I've found that I just didn't understand. Basically this is what I've found:

    1. There's a lot of begats.
    2. God, like us, has feelings too. Why do you think he created us with emotions?
    3. Just like us, He gets angry, sometimes very angry.
    4. There are things that God cannot do. He can't:
    a. Swear by anyone greater than Himself
    b. Lie
    c. Get lost
    d. Go to Hell
    e. Break a promise he's made
    f. Be evil
    5. It states in Judges 6.12, "The Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, 'Mighty soldier, the Lord is with you!' 'Stranger,' Gideon replied, 'if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors have told us about--such as when God brought them out of Egypt? Now the Lord has thrown us away and has let the Midianites completely ruin us.' Then the Lord turned to him and said, 'I will make you strong! Go and save Israel from the Midianites! I am sending you!' But Gideon replied, 'Sir, how can I save Israel? My family is the poorest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least thought of in the entire family!' Whereupon the Lord said to him, 'But I, Jehovah, will be with you! And you shall quickly destroy the Midianite hordes!' Gideon replied, 'If it is really true that you are going to help me like that, then do some miracle to prove it! Prove that it is really Jehovah who is talking to me! But stay here until I go and get a present for you.' 'All right,' the Angel agreed. 'I'll stay here until you return.' Gideon hurried home and roasted a young goat, and baked some unleavened bread from a bushel of flour. Then, carrying the meat in a basket and broth in a pot, he took it out to the Angel, who was beneath the oak tree, and presented it to him. The Angel said to him, 'Place the meat and the bread upon that rock over there, and pour the broth over it.' When Gideon had followed these instructions, the Angel touched the meat and bread with his staff, and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed them! and suddenly the Angel was gone! When Gideon realized that it had indeed been the Angel of the Lord, he cried out, 'Alas, O Lord God, for I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face!' 'It's alright,' the Lord replied. 'Don't be afraid! You shall not die.' And Gideon built an altar there and named it 'The Altar of Peace with Jehovah.' (The altar is still there in Ophrah in the land of the Abiezrites). That night the Lord told Gideon to hitch his father's best ox to the family altar of Baal, and pull it down, and to cut down the wooden idol of the goddess Asherah that stood nearby. (Asherah was a Sumerian 'goddess'). Replace it with an altar for the Lord your God, built here on this hill, laying the stones carefully. Then sacrifice the ox as a burnt offering to the Lord, using the wooden idol as wood for the fire on the altar.'" Then it goes on to say (after the armies of Midian, Amalek, and other neighboring nations united in one vast alliance against Israel), "Then Gideon said to God, 'If you are really going to use me to save Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way: I'll put some wool on the threshing floor tonight, and if, in the morning, the fleece is wet and the ground is dry, I will know you are going to help me!" And it happened just that way! When he got up the next morning he pressed the fleece together and wrung out a whole bowlful of water! Then Gideon said to the Lord, 'Please don't be angry with me, but let me make one more test: this time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet!" So the Lord did as he asked; that night the fleece stayed dry, but the ground was covered with dew!" Then the bible goes on to say, "the Lord then said to Gideon, 'There are too many of you! I can't let all of you fight the Midianites, for then the people of Israel will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength! Send home any of your men who are timid and frightened.'" And then God gets rid of some more by sending them home and then succinctly Gideon and his small army kicked the crap out of the Midianite army. God caused the enemy in the confusion to start fighting each other!

    And in Psalms it says, "What a glorious Lord! He who daily bears our burdens also gives us our salvation. He frees us! He rescues us from death. But he will crush his enemies, for they refuse to leave their guilty, stubborn ways."

    Jesus fulfilled the prophecy, "His concern for his Father's house will be his undoing" when he overturned the moneychangers' tables in the Temple. Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah. He also was a man of great passion as well as the perfect Lamb who took away our sins. By the way, it is not out of guilt we should come to God through Christ, but since we ARE guilty of sin whether we like it or not, (just like we are human beings rather than giraffes or hippopotamuses whether we like it or not, it's just a fact) should do it out of a desire to be washed clean so we can be found guiltless before him since there can be no sin in Heaven. It isn't something that is trying to make us feel bad about ourselves, it's just a fact; we're sinners, period.

    Being in a church and quoting scripture and going through the motions of a Christian out of a sense of tradition or duty will never get a person to Heaven. Jesus said, "Unless a person is born again, they cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven". The only way to have a personal relationship with God is through a personal relationship with Jesus by being born again. How do you go about doing that? Well, I recommend going to a blood bought church that has born-again Christians and find fellowship, I bet you'll be surprised. I could go on and on and even write an entire novel (ahem, sorry Tiassa), but I won't.

    Just read it again and find other believers who will support you and love you like themselves. It's hard to find, but once you do, it's worth it.

    Peace and Love,

    Dork

    [This message has been edited by Dork (edited September 22, 1999).]
     
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  7. Dork Registered Member

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    Here is another thing that I want to add regarding observable physical things. Let's use our creativity, okay? Don't worry Tiassa, I won't thump the bible at all this time. Here's a hypothetical situation:

    Let's say that there was an imaginary camera that didn't use light to take pictures since light has a finite speed (186,000 miles/second) which takes billions of years to traverse the universe. God was bored and took a picture that had an infinitely short shutterspeed yet somehow it opened and shut (I know, this is impossible because those are finite things, but just bear with me) to allow a picture that captured one moment in the eternity of time (unlike normal cameras no matter how fast the shutter speed is capture a picture of an event, not a moment). Anyway, He took this picture and captured the universe in one moment in time revealing everything in the universe in real-time. The light from stars that are 14 billion light-years away from us are probably non- existent by the time the light reaches our Hubble telescope, so we are not observing the real-time universe at all. So, the universe does have a certain scope and magnitude and shape, etc. at ONE MOMENT in time, whether we can observe that or not (which with our present technology cannot because of the finite speed of light). But this picture that God took captured it so we could observe that moment. Actual time reality, then, is not dependent upon OUR OBSERVATION of it.

    You reply, "Yeah, but what about how "reality" is distorted relative to the observer, like in an experiment with a traveller speeding along at 99.999999999999999 percent the speed of light as opposed to an observer who is stationary on earth? You know, how the traveller will age much much slower than the stationary observer because his/her time is slowed compared to that of the oberver on earth and visa versa". Very good question. Let me explain: Time, as Einstein explained, is relative (In a humorous way he stated, "One minute with a pretty girl seems like a second, but a minute on a hot stove seems like an eternity"). This statement is true, however not complete. There is an absolute time and a relative time, which Einstein and other physicists agree on (well, at least most physicists). A lot of proofs are arrived at by using hypothetical non-observed things, like the situation I described at the beginning of this post, and popular physicists have used them to describe real things. Yes, according to common sense, time is relative to the observer, but if you could take "moment pictures" (like I described) at regular intervals, such as every day or week or month of the speed of light experiment, you would see that the observer compared to the spaceship pilot would age at different rates, therefore time being different for both of them. But here's the paradox: time is BOTH absolute AND relative to the observer. Those moment pictures of the space traveller and the earth-bound person would give a step by step impression of the relativity of time yet also show the absolute time from an imaginary viewpoint.

    A story about four wise men who were blind that were asked to describe an elephant, whom none of them had ever experienced before or had described to them, is a popular one. Have you heard it? It goes something like this: Four wise men were asked to describe an elephant using only what they could deduce from what they felt. The first blind wise man who was feeling the tail said, "It is like a vine". The second wise man who was feeling one of the legs said, "It is like a tree trunk". The third one who was feeling the elephant's trunk said, "It is like a big snake". The fourth one who was feeling one of the ears said, "It is like a giant leaf". To each of the "observers" (figuratively speaking since they were blind) the elephant was different than the rest. All their descriptions were true, yet incomplete.

    Sorry Tiassa, I have to make just one itsy bitsy bible statement. If God said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega", then why can't time be absolute outside of the observer AND relative to the observer? What I'm getting from most of the atheists out there is that WE are GOD and that if we are not here to observe, then nothing really matters. That's the entire arguement, isn't it? Have a nice day.

    Dork

    "Someone, please!! Cork the Dork!!!"

    [This message has been edited by Dork (edited September 22, 1999).]
     
  8. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Dork,

    I am an atheist. But I do not claim that we are God (actually I claim quite the opposite -- that we are much more primitive than we are advanced.) And, I do not claim that nothing matters unless we are present to observe it; on the contrary I've been sticking to the position that the universe will go on regardless of our presense. So, stop putting words into my (and everybody else's) mouth.

    As for your discussion of relativity, just keep this in mind. Everything in the universe is governed by electromagnetism; matter itself hangs together thanks to electromagnetism. Light travels at a constant and finite speed, and therefore everything else is confined by that speed. This is the only assumption necessary to derive relativity. Absolute time and space only arise out of the imaginary ability to take instantaneous snapshots of the universe; no such ability exists, and therefore no absolute time exists. Such an ability is an illusion stemming from our own experience; because our brains are so slow, and light is so fast, the images of the world around us seem to be instantaneous snapshots; extending this perception to the entire universe is one example where a huge extrapolation from bad assumptions gives a nonsensical result. Why nonsensical? Because absolute space and time would contradict actual experimental results.

    Of course, you could always hypothesize about stepping outside our universe, where some sort of absolute time actually exists. But, that would be merely a guess supported by no available evidence; as such it should not be presented in disguise of a pro-God "evidence", rather, it should be clearly stated as a mere "what if" (of which there are countless multitudes).

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    I am; therefore I think.

    [This message has been edited by Boris (edited September 22, 1999).]
     
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    36,613
    Hey, Dork ....

    Your persistent hammering away convinces me that one of two things are true. Either A) You're just a pain in the ass, or B) You're genuinely seeking something. Personally, I choose B, though I don't know what that something is. Your Topic Post convinced me of that. However, I would suggest that this forum has addressed all of these topics at one time or another, and broke down into the uncivil dichotomy your current topic is trying to avoid.

    So I'll skip the list to avoid a novel. But they are valid points of discussion, let there be no mistake about that.

    You wrote: "I just can't see how something that was written over a period of thousands of years and more than 40 authors with countless prophecies coming true to the letter can be false." I only have two issues with that:

    1) "True to the letter" is still subjective. Consider your own example of the four blind men and the elephant. I restate the argument in a different context, paraphrased from Steven Brust: "If six people witness an event, and six people give you similar but differing accounts, which is right and which is wrong? Or have six separate events occurred?" All I'm getting at here is that your fulfillment of prophecy might be my mundane event.

    2) How do the "forty authors and thousands of years" sit with you in consideration of an early Catholic assembly which pared some sixty "gospels" (St. Thomas, St. Mary, &c) from the Bible? The four Gospels we have are subjective at least in view of the historical context. I'm happy that you acknowledge the multiple authors; I know plenty of people who claim one author and multiple pseudonyms.


    I think many people of faith assume the "We are God" notion that they see in atheists. It isn't that things don't exist, it's that existance is unimportant without someone to notice existance. Otherwise, it's just a universe, passing through its own evolution.

    If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody's around to hear, it says nothing about the tree's existence. It says nothing about whether or not it fell. All the idea is for is to remind us that we notice it.

    Recently astronomers detected what they are concluding was the largest physical event since the Big Bang; an explosion, literally, of galactic proportions. Why is this significant? Because we invented the word significant and because we are here to see this one. Is it the first time an event like this explosion has occurred? Probably not. Could we conceive of its mechanism before? No. We probably couldn't imagine the forces required to create such an event. But we find this event important because we have never seen it before. The explosion would have occurred anyway. How we relate to it means nothing if there is no "we" to relate.

    And I have to shoot back: If God is Alpha and Omega, doesn't that describe a finite capacity? Infinity has no beginning and no end. (Which gets there first? 2x to infinity, or 2x+1 to infinity?) And I'm iffy about "infinite circle" ideas, too, because they still constrain the possibilities of God.

    thx,
    Tiassa

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    "Let us not launch the boat until the ground is wet." (Khaavren of Castlerock)

    [This message has been edited by tiassa (edited September 22, 1999).]
     
  10. Dork Registered Member

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    As I wrote in a different topic, I'll repeat it again.

    Boris and Tiassa, it is quite simple. Things do matter and do exist whether we are around to witness them or not, that is the basic concept I'm trying to get across here. We were created when our mothers and fathers copulated and formed us. We were not around to witness the event, so it must not have mattered or maybe even happened, right? Apparently that's not the case, because here we are.

    Boris, when I talk about absolute time and hypothetical situations, they are just a way to point out a concept (which is unseen [there I go again]), that's all. There IS an absolute time and you know it, clap your hands. Okay, without getting too deep into this to keep it brief, just because we don't have the means to take a "moment picture" doesn't mean it doesn't exist. For example, the New World in the minds of Christopher Columbus or whomever it was who found it (I don't know, it's not important to this arguement) didn't exist or didn't matter years before it was found. 1000 years prior to that, the technology did not exist to go to the "New World". But it did not mean that it did not exist or even matter. That's what I've been trying to drill into your skulls. You say that since we don't have the means to take a huge "God-sized" picture in one moment in time, it either: a)doesn't exist or b)doesn't matter. But there ARE moments in time since it can be broken down into smaller and smaller segments infinitely. Yet we can witness events happening, so it flows, obviously. But that's the paradox. We KNOW that in one moment in time (that's why I wanted you to use your imagination, i.e. the hypothetical scenario) the physical universe has a certain look or shape or WHATEVER (stop getting so technical, Boris) Anyway, so even though we don't have the technical means of taking this moment picture, it ACTUALLY exists. It's not even an arguement, it's a fact. That's not what I'm arguing about. Look at my next post to see. Dang.
     
  11. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    36,613
    Okay, Dork. You win. Apparently humans are so important to the universal scheme that the universe can't exist without us.

    You see, that's the essence of the argument. Stars don't "burn", they just are. Planets don't "orbit", they just are. Atoms don't "decay", they just are. Nobody challenges existence here; try this one: Generally, it is inappropriate, when writing a dictionary, to define a word by using another form of the word--there are other ways to express the idea. Thus, when discussing something as large as "god" or "existence", we lose our ability to consider certain aspects because we have no other means of expressing it.

    By saying something "exists", you may as well be naming it. Existence as compared to what? If it "doesn't exist" it doesn't exist. The names we give things don't change the character of what they are; they merely change our regard for the object in question.

    Existence is a state to which I have nothing to compare. I can quite assuredly declare that I have never seen something that doesn't exist.

    As to parental copulation: the aspect I think you're overlooking here is that it doesn't matter whether I personally witness the copulation. Two humans have (or three, or six, or whatever, if you're into it.) The "us" or "we" in questions of existence here cannot be individuals. If you concern yourself too much with little things, you miss some of the cool stuff that goes on. "Stop and smell the roses" is a wonderful idea, but if you smell each rose until it doesn't have any scent left, you're missing a lot of nice roses.

    Consider all the citations people make in this forum: according to what you have construed as my argument, there's no point in documenting what these people witnessed, since I never witnessed the people themselves. You could not be more wrong in this case. What they have witnessed, I can inherit. Certes, I would feel better about star-formation theory if I could blow up a star and see what happens in nearby nebulae; but I can't, so I read the data that various astronomers have collected, and that may, in the end, be all I can do.

    Atoms existed five hundred years ago. But the brightest minds in Europe, China, or elsewhere, would not have accepted the Bohr model because they had never seen anything to compare an atom to. "So, it's mostly empty space; so small I can't count the number of atoms in my six-inch knife if I had a thousand lifetimes; and can destroy the world if you break them." Yeah, I would have believed in atoms in the fifteenth century (not!) And that's the point. Atoms didn't matter in the least until we could experience them on a tangible, recordable level. To the minds that preceded atomic theory, atoms didn't exist. They couldn't have said it, because they had no bloody word for it.

    Things happen; if we don't see them, don't experience their effect on a level we can comprehend, then it seems that most people don't think it exists. This means NOTHING to the thing or event itself.

    The human experience has, and will continue to grow. But to say something exists needs a person to say it. I'm pretty sure the stars don't care whether they exist: "care" in this context is merely a human fiction, of course.

    --Tiassa

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    "Let us not launch the boat until the ground is wet." (Khaavren of Castlerock)
     
  12. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Dork,

    Sorry about getting technical on you all the time -- but it's not my fault. If you want your personal cosmological awareness to grow, you will indeed have to get "technical". You know, a few hundred years ago, a heliocentric system would have been considered a highly technical concept. Not to mention your computer.

    Basically, you are perceiving time and space within the 3 dimensions in which you are fortunate to exist. For you, time is represented in changing environment, and the rate of change relative the frequency with which you scan your environment is perceived by you as a flow of time. However, another way to look at time is that it doesn't "flow", and doesn't even exist -- it is an artifact of your consciousness; it stems from a thermodynamic process of ever-increasing entropy. Outside our 3 dimensions (if such a thing is indeed possible) -- our concept of time may not even make sense, because there entropy may lose definition. Ditto for our concept of space. But all that doesn't even matter so much as what I'll say next.

    Relativity claims that there is no absolute viewpoint from which you can get a true snapshot of the universe. All observers are equivalent, and there simply is no absolute time. Your time is not my time. You may live for 10,000 years, and for me it could only be a millisecond. You cannot take an absolute snapshot of the universe -- because there is no absolute platform from which you can take it.

    Does this mean that things are not happening elsewhere when you still have not observed them yet? No. But it does mean that you cannot observe anything in an absolute sense. When you do end up measuring something, the space and the time coordinats you assign to it will differ from observations of other people who are in a different state of motion. And there is nobody who will be absolutely correct about where or when things are -- because everyone will be equally correct despite differing answers.

    Moreover, you could never observe the entirety of the universe due to fundamental limitations inherent in the act of observation -- ultimately, to observe you must interact, and thereby disturb the very object you are observing. It's called quantum mechanics, and it's been around for about 60 years already. Look it up.

    If all this sounds too technical so much so as to seem irrelevant, then be warned that you ain't seen nothing yet. All the theories I just brushed over are for a fact obsolete. Just what they will be replaced with, and how (once again!) our entire worldview will be stood on its head -- remains to be seen.

    The main point here is that you are attempting to use a limited 3-dimensional local framework which has already been demonstrated to be incorrect on both small and large scales, to argue about something that exists altogether outside your reality. No can do, sorry. Aristotle and Newton have been out of fashion for quite a time by now, mr. Dork. A re-examination of your fashion sense might be in order...

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    I am; therefore I think.

    [This message has been edited by Boris (edited September 23, 1999).]
     
  13. Dork Registered Member

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    Can we agree on anything? Let's try:

    Boris, if time doesn't exist, then shoot your alarm clock and go to work late, see what happens. Tell your boss that he can stuff a sock in it because time doesn't exist and see if he doesn't double over with laughter. Besides, I do know about physics, and got A's on my trigonometry and algebra tests back in school, so don't try any of that condescending crap about how I need to know more about science to argue this issue well. You went into a whole barrage of scientific crap about how I wasn't using Euclidian math or something like that yet you COMPLETELY missed the point. What I was saying before about pythagorean's theorum (and that was just an example; I could have used ANY non physical formula or equation or mathematical principle, I just HAPPENED to use that one) was that it was unseen and eternal and was visible to us when using physical materials to show it. Yet the principle is unseen and REAL, oh yeah, and ETERNAL. Why is it so hard to understand? It seems like you're just being deliberately stupid. The point, again, is that reality, whether or not we can perceive it, experience it, extrapolate it, induce or deduce it, or whatever you want to input there, isn't dependent upon those things and the unseen laws of physics do not change. You can assume this by two things:
    a) an equation representing a non-physical law (and yes, I know that people come up with more exact or more complex equations all the time) will remain the same if you don't change two things: 1) the equation or 2) the factors within that equation; it will remain the same, obviously. (I'm being redundant in case you missed it).
    b) spirit is a non-physical thing and cannot be physically perceived or measured. And don't try to be condescending, Boris; my i.q. is in the top 9% in the world.

    I can't believe you guys are STILL missing my point because you're both semi-intelligent people. What I'm trying to say is that reality is not dependent on our perception of it our how we can measure it or extrapolate it or whatever you want to call it. I can assume that even though I can't see or hear or feel or smell or taste you (blech!) guys, you do exist. You DO exist, don't you?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    When I go to bed tonight, I can assume that you're thinking your thoughts, maybe reading a book or magazine, or brushing your teeth, or feeling your feelings, or intellectualizing (or over-intellectualizing) unseen concepts, or fixing a midnight snack, or relating to your environment in a certain way, or a myriad of things. I can safely assume that even though I'm not shadowing your every footstep, that you DO exist! Don't make me more paranoid than I already am (just kidding).

    Anyway, this is a sad but true fact: I'm not coming back here anymore. NO, not because I think I'm defeated, but because it's so frustrating stating such simple truths and having people over-intellectualizing and coming to false conclusions like there's no such thing as time (no offense Boris) when there obviously is a thing as "time", or the passing of events. The only thing; the ONLY thing that matters is the love of God, and therefore the love of each other since we were created in His image. I'm going to leave you with a passage from (gasp!) the bible (noooooo!!!! you say) because I want you guys in Heaven and not in Hell. Psalms 74, vs. 17-28 states:

    "I went into God's sanctuary to meditate, and thought about the future of these evil men. What a slippery path they are on--suddenly God will send them sliding over the edge of the cliff and down to their destruction: an instant end to all their happiness, an eternity of terror. Their present life is only a dream! They will awaken to the truth as one awakens from a dream of things that never really were!
    When I saw this, what turmoil filled my heart! I saw myself so stupid and so ignorant; I must seem like an animal to you, O God. But even so, you love me! You are holding my right hand! You will keep on guiding me all my life with your wisdom and counsel; and afterwards receive me into the glories of heaven! Whom have I in heaven but you? And I desire no one on earth as much as you! My health fails; my spirits droop, yet God remains! He is the strength of my heart; he is mine forever!
    But those refusing to worship God will perish, for he destroys those serving other gods.
    But as for me, I get as close to him as I can! I have chosen him and I will tell everyone about the wonderful ways he rescues me."

    1 Peter 4, vs. 14-19 states:
    "Be happy if you are cursed and insulted for being a Christian, for when that happens the Spirit of God will come upon you with great glory. Don't let me hear of your suffering formurdering or stealing or making trouble or being a busybody and prying into other people's affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being in Christ's family and being called by his wonderful name! For the time has come for judgement, and it must begin first among God's own children. And if even we who are Christians must be judged, what terrible fate awaits those who have never believed in the Lord? If the righteous are barely saved, what chance will the godless have? So if you are suffering according to God's will, keep on doing what is right and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you."

    Love,

    Dork

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  14. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Well, since Dork seems to be departing, it appears there's little point in my reply. Though, in case somebody else reads this thread, I want them to see it...

    Ah, but it is YOU who are missing the point. We are not separate from reality; we are part of it and embedded in it. We cannot make 'independent' judgements; to learn about reality we must use reality itself -- and nothing else is available to us. There is no absolute perspective, because there is no absolute existence -- everything that exists is part and parcel of reality, not separate from it.

    That is why time and space are not absolute, but are defined by the observer. That is why I argued that time might not even exist on other levels of reality (NOT IN OUR OWN LIMITED CORNER OF REALITY, as you seem to have taken it -- but on HIGHER LEVELS).

    The only absolute truth is the existence of this speaker from my point of view, or you the reader from yours. Nothing else is absolute, nor demonstrably eternal.

    Once again, as I have done in another thread, I would challenge you (if you weren't leaving) to pick any concept other than Pythagorean theorem and show how it is unseen , or absolute, or eternal.

    I have also challenged your presumed order of discovery. We do not first discover principles, and then use tangible objects to illustrate the principles. On the contrary, we first observe tangible objects, and then arrive at principles by generalizing our observations. And just as our observations are by your own seeming admission ephemeral -- so are potentially the generalizations that are made from such observations. In other words, nothing guarantees that tomorrow the sky will not turn yellow with purple stripes because of a sudden shift in the universe's "laws" of physics. Our best theories, no matter how good, are only local approximations -- and even if they might by accident truly come to reflect eternal principles, we will never know when or if they do. As for reflecting "absolute" principles -- I have already discoursed plenty on that issue.

    ------------------
    I am; therefore I think.

    [This message has been edited by Boris (edited September 23, 1999).]
     
  15. Plato Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    366
    Dork,

    Let's take a good look at those bible quotations of yours because they represent the reason many people ambrase christianity :

    quote :
    "I went into God's sanctuary to meditate, and thought about the future of these evil men. What a slippery path they are on--suddenly God will send them sliding over the edge of the cliff and down to their destruction: an instant end to all their happiness, an eternity of terror. Their present life is only a dream! They will awaken to the truth as one awakens from a dream of things that never really were!"
    When I saw this, what turmoil filled my heart! I saw myself so stupid and so ignorant

    This psalm talks about the eternal doom that awaits evil men and women (evil also meaning not believing in god) after their life. The dream metafore shows that the nice life they have now will pale in comparison to the horor that awaits them in the afterlife.
    So it is because you are afraid that you believe ? It is because you can't bear the emptyness that awaits us all when we depart. The only reason that you believe in christ is that uncertainty that makes you doubt : suppose the stories about hell are true. Do you really think that an infinite wise being like god is depicted doesn't see through this sceam of yours ? He sees right trough that pitifull believe to the very core of your doubt and your fear !
    This is what you believe in, this tyrant ! Cause he might be infinity good or infinite love (here we go again with useless infinities) but he stays a tyrant.

    ------------------
    "If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants."
    Isaac Newton
     
  16. truestory Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,122
    My understanding is that this person believes as a result of his/her personal relationship with God, not out of fear. What causes this person turmoil and anguish is that they did not understannd that it was not only their purpose to save themselves, but to help others become aware of God also.

    I don't know about you, but I don't see God as a tyrant... I see God as very patient, indeed. Two-thousand years, a multitude of miracles, a gift of free-will, the ability to understand God and, your entire life to decide whether or not to believe??? It's not like you haven't been informed.... Someone is being stubborn here, and I don't think it's God.

    Sounds to me like God has the patience of a saint... Oooops. (Do you perceive "saint" as a dirty word, also?)
     
  17. Plato Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    366
    truestory,

    patience is something that loses it's meaning when confronted with a being who transendents time. Patience can only be a virtue when you have a limited amount of time measured to you and there are much better things you could be doing otherwise.

    You also say we have the ability to understand god but when things really get nasty like in the free-will versus divine providence we have to resort to the good old god-works-in-mysterious-ways claim and end the discussion...

    ------------------
    "If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants."
    Isaac Newton
     
  18. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    36,613
    Truestory: I would like to meddle in the patience discussion you're having with Plato:

    You wrote "I don't know about you, but I don't see God as a tyrant... I see God as very patient, indeed. Two-thousand years, a multitude of miracles, a gift of free-will, the ability to understand God and, your entire life to decide whether or not to believe??? It's not like you haven't been informed.... Someone is being stubborn here, and I don't think it's God."

    I'll skip the patience/timelessness bit since Plato's covered it. And I won't pick the "two-thousand years" aspect versus the infinite timelessness of God, except to note that those two-thousand years extend back about another four million years. Two-thousand years excludes a lot of God's reign, as such.

    But the context of your question suggests another aspect. I am aware of the danger of stuffing others' mouths with words, so allow me to present the idea with that danger well in mind.

    "Two thousand years, a multitude of miracles, the gift of free will, and your entire life to decide whether or not to believe?" How does the question actually end? ". . . and you still can't recognize Christ as God?"

    1) Your miracles are my statistical correlations. Things occur in the universe which could seem miraculous. But they aren't, because we don't see the consequence. It seems a miracle requires an exclusion of humanity from the rest of the universe, as nobody ever declares the beauty of starbirth miraculous, or those once-in-a-lifetime events. Resurrection? It happened all the time before the Christians burned all the necromancers; I hardly find resurrection a miracle. A child living eight days in earthquake rubble? Perhaps miraculous, but it seems to be happening frequently--is there a rate at which a given miracle cannot happen lest it luse its miraculousness?

    2) The gift of free will? From the "worship me or have a very unpleasant eternity, thank you very much" people? That reminds me of children in Church or elsewhere whose shoes are too small, whose collars are too tight, whose neckties just bite the throat ... what is their free will? "Suffer or we'll make you suffer. Sit still and feel unpleasantness, or get a whippin' behind the shed when we get home!"

    3) I think people are taking their entire lives to decide. It's a rough process balancing what's right and what your parents taught you to belive at the stake of cruelty. (How many people heard it from their folks for saying "God" instead of "Gosh" or "Geez"? I remember a friend getting in trouble for saying "Jiminy Cricket".) I think for someone to declare their sense of God as authoritative means that they have forfeited the remainder of their quest for God; have taken the easy way out.

    4) Impatience? God is very impatient, if we follow Judeo/Christian tradition. God struck Onan down for coitus interruptus; God punishes the children of the sinner; God believes the handicapped will "profane what I, the LORD have made holy". But the other impatience I think I see here relates to #3 of this post: I would not doubt that you have much to learn, the capacity to learn it, and the desire to do so; in other words, I would not suggest that you have "given up" or "accomplished" your search (only you really know). However, by labeling yourself "Christian" and constricting yourself to its laws--many of which were political and discriminatory in their inception--you run the risk of selling away other perspectives which may prove just as, if not more valuable.

    You've been a measured voice, and I appreciate it kindly. I'm not prepared, however, to examine issues of a faith which I don't share. It's hard to find a sympathetic perspective to a "faith" which I see as structured, belligerent, and calculatingly domineering. What takes place in the quietest moments 'twixt you and God--yes, that in itself is a miracle. But what portion you offer us of the insight that faith gains you, often reads like some of the weaker arguments we see: that this idea isn't right because the Bible says so, because the Bible was written by God, which we know because the Bible tells us so.

    Try this one, please: I believe in Aiwaz, who dictated the Holy Books of Thelema to Aleister Crowley. Aiwaz says monogamy is bad. So I'm going to be excessively promiscuous. Why? Because the book says, and it was written by Aiwaz through Crowley. Who says? Aiwaz, through the book, and Crowley because Aiwaz told him so.

    Okay, that's an example; Aiwaz didn't give enough to be God, but there's some interesting philosophy there nonetheless. But can you see how the decision to believe in Aiwaz ends up being like the decision to buy a used car? "She's a beaut; that commissioned salesmen just told me so!"

    I deny nobody God; but I do know when that God is giving a snake-oil pitch. More and more, it seems, people of faith are relying on the "company line" and not expounding the deeper aspects of their faith. All I actually object to is how loaded that first quote I took from your post is with faith. The questions themselves are valid, until the counterpoint becomes a broad faith issue.

    thx,
    Tiassa

    ------------------
    "Let us not launch the boat until the ground is wet." (Khaavren of Castlerock)

    [This message has been edited by tiassa (edited September 24, 1999).]
     
  19. truestory Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,122
    Well, it seems to becoming down to a matter of faith. Anyone who has a confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing, has faith. Whether it be say, a confident belief in man, a confident belief in the big bang theory or a confident belief in God.

    In that respect, I hope we can agree that faith is not a bad thing.

    There are those who can look at this universe and believe that man "makes" the universe... period. Once man no longer exists, so goes the universe. There are those who can look at this universe and believe that it was created from a purely physical event... Once the physical body dies, there is nothing else. There are those who see this REALLY COOL universe as miraculous and believe that it came from a SUPER-COOL creator. They can see evidence of and have heard other testimony of the existence of souls, the existence of an afterlife and an existence of God. To those who have seen and can hear such things, the evidence is overwhelming, and their faith is understandable.

    My reference to the two-thousand years does stem from my belief that Jesus Christ was sent by God, not only to be physically sacrificed and rise three days after dying so that our sins would be forgiven and so that we would be shown evidence of the afterlife, but also to teach us about the path to God.

    As you might have read previously, I am not a member of any organized religion. Although I am Christian in my fundamental beliefs, I am not what is generally known, contemporarily, as a fundamentalist. I believe that many of the authors who contributed to the Bible were writers of fiction (which I don't particularly care for) so, alot of the stories which you take exception to, so do I.

    (Sorry, I just re-read your post and saw that you don't wish to examine the issues of a faith that you don't share. I'm not sure at this point what it is that you have faith in, if anything, so, I will close my response. Hope I have not offended you!)

    [This message has been edited by truestory (edited September 24, 1999).]
     
  20. Oxygen One Hissy Kitty Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,478
    Dork- Well, you wanted a response. I just popped back in to see what you had to say about my observations. Hoo-boy!

    To go back a little to the subject of the writing of the gospel, all those authors over all those years? They didn't have cut-and-paste back then. There's bound to be some inconsistencies, to understate it.

    Waaaaaaay back in this post you state that god cannot do everything. This makes god less than perfect, and therefore on equal footing with our own imperfections (some being more or less perfect than others). Why, then, should I worship my equal?
     
  21. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    36,613
    Truestory--

    You wrote that this particular argument is boiling down to faith; you have it exactly. And yes, I believe we agree that faith is not inherently bad; what others at this forum think is beyond me.

    I need to excerpt you here: "There are those who can look at this universe and believe that man "makes" the universe ... period. Once man no longer exists, so goes the universe." To be quite honest, I don't know where this expression of values comes from. It seems to be an altered version of a philosophical question we've seen through the forum from time to time. So I would ask you: what are "Human Rights"? From whence do they come? Human rights are merely a convention accepted by a large number of people. They are not set in stone. So we could sit and have an argument which pertains to the whole of humanity, and then one day the bomb comes--or the comet, or the plague--and the argument becomes moot because there are no more humans. "God", the actual construction of the letters according to our language, is a word, and nothing more. What God is in the abstract is another idea entirely; but if there are no people to argue about God's will, what does it matter what God wants? Will God evolve the cockroaches so he can start the same cycle again? Does that mean that there would be another Onan for God to strike down for coitus interruptus? Or would cockroach daughters intoxicate and rape their fathers for blessed pregnancy? Would there be another Job, another Christ with three cockroach thieves on the cross? Would the cockroach Judas die at Aceldema? Another two millennia of alleged progress until the cockroaches blow themselves to dust? And then what will their theological considerations be worth? It is not that God cannot exist without man, per se, but rather that our questions about God's will and God's rewards disappear when the human race does, and the universe will go on, and that delicate balance that we call God--the creationary and progressive force of the universe--won't even notice.

    Lastly, let me assure you that I have no specific aversion to discussions of faith, even those that I cannot share. But I do find it difficult to communicate under certain circumstances associated with religious faith.

    Take any specific issue: gay sex, free speech, prayer in schools, &c. Consider the "empathy" which liberal "diversity" requires: "I understand why you wouldn't like _____ [fill in issue] but ...." I may understand why someone doesn't like homosexual relations, or "profane" song lyrics. But a person of faith is not obliged to that need. A person of faith can say, "God says it's wrong, so ...." In my life, "God" (in this context) represents various unacceptable ideas: censorship, social homogony, governed "liberty".

    What I'm getting at is that it's hard, when you make statements of faith, for me to find anything worthwhile to say; I'm left with a "is too, is not!" position. Consider your statement "They can see evidence of and have heard other testimony of the existence of souls." There is no "evidence" other than the "testimonies". The assumption that a given point, event, or idea equals "proof" in that phrase implies a truckload of faith. Or in the same paragraph: "To those who have seen and can hear such things, the evidence is overwhelming, and their faith is understandable." I would counter that to say that the evidence is their faith, and their faith is overwhelming. Faith is not objective, in the least.

    The one thing I do agree with you is that the universe is really cool, and, as we only know of one of the things, it does seem to qualify as miraculous. What that means to you and I alone, well, only we know that, eh?

    thx,
    Tiassa

    [This message has been edited by tiassa (edited September 27, 1999).]
     
  22. truestory Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,122
    Tiassa,

    I understand where you are coming from and I think that life experiences have something to do with belief in an afterlife. Let me ask you this... If you were sitting down and relaxing after a normal day at work, thinking about your plans for the evening, (perhaps what you would have for dinner, who you would like to call after dinner, what laundry needs to be done for the next day, etc...) and then, out of the blue, you had the following experience, what would you make of it?

    ... My mother died in 1976. In 1982, she manifested herself in a way that I could see her. It was a translucent energy, but I could see her for the purpose for which she came. She gave me a message which made absolutely no sense to me and asked me to pass the message along to a certain family member who lived three hundred miles away. Of course, I did not ignore my mother. I passed the message along as she had asked. The family member sobbed in relief when hearing the message. The message, which came from my deceased mother, freed this living family member from something which they had been secretly torturing themselves about, emotionally, for decades. It involved someone else who had died (which noone in the family, other than this particular family member, knew about). My deceased mother somehow learned the truth and, in her own way, was able to free someone from the fear of the unknown and the resulting emotional pain which it had been causing.



    [This message has been edited by truestory (edited September 27, 1999).]
     
  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    36,613
    Truestory--

    Now these kinds of testimonials are the ones I have the hardest time with. It has to do with--you guessed it--faith, as well as an idea we've tossed around in this forum:
    "If six people witness an event, and tell you six different versions, which is right? Or have six separate events occurred?"

    Several years ago, a friend of mine suffered a heart attack two steps after setting foot on property he did not know was "haunted". This would be irrelevant, except that I, twenty yards ahead of him, witnessed two glowing blue eyes in the belfry immediately before Russ went down. Estimating by the eyes, this "creature" would have been larger than the belfry itself had I seen the whole thing. Did I hallucinate or see an entity? I would love to say I saw something legitimate, and that it was this evil force that caused Russ' cardiac. But the guy had a history with various dangerous drugs (crank, heroin, and any number of shiny colored pills), drank heavily, and smoked a pack and a half a day. The statistical odds tell me that he just ruined his body over time. There are, however two other people who were present, who swear up and down they met the gaze of evil.

    I've had ghosts pick my pocket, as such. Only I can't recall, even to this day, whether I buttoned closed the jacket pocket before scrambling up a small hill and clawing through blackberry bushes to find the street.

    And I've sat and chatted with the various spiritual representations of dead friends, of my deceased cats, &c. Now these, if I chose, I could write off using modern psychology.

    However, I also admit that there is as great a chance that a spirit did try to kill Russ; that a ghost did steal my keys; and that those were really the discorporate spirits of my associates as there is the chance that these were all misinterpreted, common events.

    And this question leads me back to the place I started when I realized that nobody teaching me Christian citizenship and philosophy had a clue what they were talking about: Even if there are ghosts, spirits, incubi, djinn, inagehi, or otherwise, it proves for me nothing except that there are more questions.

    That there is an "otherworld" we see only in prophecy or fancy, well, I've always enjoyed the notion. But were fire to blaze from my fingertips, or healing force from my palms, how can I instantly assume that the undeniable (for the sake of argument) divinity taking place bears the name of Jehovah, Christ, Allah, Buddha, Bel, Pan, Diana, Ormuzd, Jim Henson, or any other name?

    When I reach those moments of spirituality, I enjoy the liberty they offer. Each name of God bears its own history, and teaches its own lessons. How could I deny any of them based simply on the teachings of one religion?

    If each choice offers infinitely diverse futures, why simply lop off the lot of them because one book says so?

    thx,
    Tiassa

    ------------------
    "Let us not launch the boat until the ground is wet." (Khaavren of Castlerock)

    [This message has been edited by tiassa (edited September 28, 1999).]
     

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