ALL religions make me want to throw up...

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Yaya

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Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:07 pm

Impactor returns 2.0 wrote:I still find it hard to accept anything thats based on hear-say + 100 years+...


A right you should and do have.

For my money, it's certainly less of a problem than Islam's claim that every revelation of God before Muhammed was horribly corrupted so that it bears very little resemblance to the original and yet it's an act of God that the Koran has been perfectly preserved, because there's no conflict there.


I wouldn't say horribly corrupted, as you do, because much of Islam and Christianity teach the same. The Ten Commandments, treatment of others, treatment of parents. etc. They are not so different. In fact, I will find you verses in the Bible that advocate hijab, the head covering for women. Yet, nobody ever mentions this verse.

And yet they are different in a big way. Because of all things in Islam, belief in One God is most important, whereas in Christianity, the Trinity is most important. In other words, changing from One God to One in Three is not so hard to believe could happen in a religious text, particularly one revealed by someone who was not so well known until after he left.

Impossible for this alteration to occur? I think it very easy, and believe that the New Testaments partner, the Old Testament, provides evidence enough that Prophets always taught One God.

I think you just justified the Soviet Union's Gulags there. Deliberately killing a man who is not actually engaged in battle with you and without a trial is surely murder rather than execution.


That's your opinion on the matter. If you think a man who spouts poetry and speeches to incite others through lies and deceit to persecute and murder others, well, I mean what can I say. He was called a poet because his words were powerful, and swayed people to action. He was a dangerous man. A trial likely would have happened, had the Muslims actually had a government of their own, and were not few in number making it their goal to live to the next day.

God knows what was the man's intention and what was in his heart, and what he was destined for. Being a Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH) knew of his enemies through the Archangel Jibreel, even when they did not reveal themselves. Once there was a man who came across the desert between Mecca and Medina who had been hired by someone to kill Muhammad (PBUH). He entered the tent of the Prophet as a friend and was allowed to enter. Before the man could lower his sword, the Prophet relayed to the man his exact conversation with the one who hired him and where they had that discussion. The man knew it could not have been possible, for only he and the one who hired him knew of this conversation. So upon hearing this, he converted then and there.

The point? If you believe Muhammad (PBUH) to be a Prophet, which I do, then you know he was privy to things that others were not. Even his pagan enemies referred to him as Al-Amin, the Truthful One. If you don't believe him to be a Prophet (PBUH), you will remain skeptical, as many are and have been since he lived, and look upon his actions as nothing more than selfish motivations.

This aside, even those who don't recognize his prophethood can understand that in times of war, after the suffering and pillaging he and his people had faced, taking the battle to the enemy is legitimate, and wise, war strategy.

Certainly the version of Islam you're putting forward is very different to the one that shouts the loudest.


Yeah, I know. Here's a suggestion. Turn the volume down on your television set and it won't be so loud. I mean, that's the source for most information have on Islam. Western television.

Hm, it's almost starting to sound like Christianity there.


They came from the same source, after all.


It's like saying, "Read the history of the Holocaust not from a Western perspective, but from the journal of Nazi doctors. You'll get a whole different story." It's like, what's your point?


Would it not be worth at least looking into what story such journals might tell? History has obviously documented the evil of something so open as the Holocaust, but my point is that before we accept what our own propoganda machines churn out, it would be worth looking into what others have to say in defense of their actions. I don't doubt the evil of the Holocaust, but all I know about it is through Jewish and Western texts. Granted, I would likely not get much of a different story from the German side, as they have admitted guilt and apologized openly for it, but you see where I'm coming from regarding hearing it from the others perspective.

We live in an age of propoganda. With media being televised across the world, with the capabilites of reaching someone on the other side of the planet with our message, propoganda is a nation's greatest weapon.

"But the Costa story featuring Starscream? Fantastic! This guy is "The One", I just know it, just from these few pages. "--Yaya, who is never wrong.

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Tue Jul 18, 2006 1:43 am

Yaya wrote:As I say, who you choose to believe is up to you. I am operating from a position of faith, this is true, but I also like to garner my information not from the media or television or history class as many do. I would rather go to the source, the Koran and Hadith, or the Bible if we are talking Christianity.

So you don't think that corroborating as many sources as possible is a good thing? I like to garner my information from as many sources as possible, because I don't think any one source has the whole story, and religion is a lot more complicated than a few stories in a couple of old books. You say that your religion is a spiritual matter, and for you it may be, but the reality is that it is also a potent political force with several armed and dangerous extremist wings. The same goes for Christianity, Sikhism, Hinduism and almost any other religion you care to name. If you disregard the television (Hey, there's a bloody war breaking out between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East right now!) or your history class (Hey, there's been a whole lot of bloody wars between different religions throughout history!) then you're closing your eyes to the reality of the situation. I appreciate that from a position of faith this is difficult but you have to look at the whole picture before you can properly understand something. I'm able to acknowledge any number of merits to a religion - I've known people who have been literally saved by it - but I'm also able to see the bad points. I've seen Catholics who have been so ****ed up by their holy rules that their entire lives have been miserable. I've been to Muslim countries and I've seen how things are there, and I've had many, many conversations with British Muslims about their faith and how they see things, and I've seen and heard a lot of things that I find incredibly repugnant. I've read the Bible and the Koran back to front and I'm not altogether impressed with their contents. I watch the TV news, I read about history and science and I surf the internet most of my waking hours, and all the time I see people fighting over religion, so to say that the only true meaning to Christianity is the Bible, or the only truth about Islam is the Koran and the Hadith is completely wrong because religion is a lot more complex than that, and it has real meaning in the real world, even for those of us who couldn't give a **** whose 'God' is more powerful. To dismiss history and journalism as you just did - and science before that - simply belies how shallow your argument is, because apart from the faith that you don't seem to be able to articulate particularly well, you have nothing to back you up beyond a book that is 600 years out of date and full of passages about how unbelievers will burn. Ooh, I'm impressed.

Bouncelot wrote:The Bible portrays God as giving "progressive revelation". He didn't reveal everything important in one go, He revealed it gradually over the centuries. Understanding the Trinity (which is something that is difficult for humans to comprehend anyway) in advance isn't something that necessarily fits the pattern. In fact, I doubt we'd really have understood the concept before God came as a man, which was the point at which it became relevant anyway. Also, the Bible tends to reveal things in a narrative style rather than a conceptual style. Explaining the trinity and the incarnation as concepts before there was the actual story to back them up doesn't fit with the styles God tended to use.

Interesting that 'God' developed his 'style' alongside the develompent (dare I say evolution) of human society. I mean, as we developed more interesting ways of thinking about things - from the Greek philosophers or the rise of Bhuddism - 'God' chose that moment to reveal new and interesting things about his message to humanity. That mostly coincided with, um, popular Greek and Bhuddist thought. Strange, that.

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Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:27 am

Metal Vendetta wrote:To dismiss history and journalism as you just did - and science before that - simply belies how shallow your argument is


I am dismissing neither history nor science, and have a great respect for both. History, because of its lessons. Science, because of its wonder.

I only call for both sides of the story, and let the reader choose what to believe. If one wants to know the truth of Islam, then approaching it from Western media alone will never garner an accurate account of the religion. Islam is more than the oppression of women, more than the instigation of violent tendencies that many here in my country would hope to impress on others. If you read the Koran and Hadith and approach a Muslim scholar for answers to whatever questions you might have, you may uncover an understanding of it which never would have been realized from text books or journalist who lack knowledge on the subject.

I can't blame these people for believing as they do. If I were in their shoes, I would be afraid of a Muslim too and believe as they do. As it is though, I know what I am and I know what I believe.

So what does this say? It says that the blame for this misrepresentation of Islam falls squarely not on the non-Muslim journalist, not on Western media, but on the Muslims themselves. We as Muslims should not be in such a position that we have to educate the world, to clean up the image of Muslims. Had we actually lived Islam, been examples of Islam, we would not be feared as we are today, not be considered a violent people. I have become well aware of the major shortcomings of those who call themselves Muslims, as I live with them, pray with them, socialize with them. They call themselves Muslims, yet you would not know it by their actions and behavior. I have been more discouraged by the Muslim world, by my own peoples failings, than I am of any non-Muslim people.

Yet despite my discouragement Islam's followrs, it does not take an iota away from what Islam is. I have said this before, but Islam is represented by the Koran and the Hadith, and the account of these two must be accurate. It would not be fair of me to judge the work of Einstein, for example, by the work of my college physics professor, as likely the college professor will fall far short of the scientific genius that Einstein exuded. In the same way, judging Islam by the average Muslim in the street who himself/herself does not know Islam is a mistake.

"But the Costa story featuring Starscream? Fantastic! This guy is "The One", I just know it, just from these few pages. "--Yaya, who is never wrong.

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Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:02 am

Yaya wrote:I only call for both sides of the story,


No you don't.

You have previously advocated that, if you want answers about Islam you should go to the Koran, and Christianity you should go to the Bible.

You then say that the best people to help you decipher these texts are people who are bought into them already i.e MUSLIM Scholars

Sorry for the crude analogy but this is like saying if you wish to find the truth about Nazism, read Mien Kampf or ask a member of the Nazi party.

its not an objective approach at all.

Also in saying 'both sides of the story' you (again) set up a false scenario a) that there are only 2 perspectives and b) that they must have at least equal weight, niether of which are neccessarily true.

Yet despite my discouragement Islam's followrs, it does not take an iota away from what Islam is. I have said this before, but Islam is represented by the Koran and the Hadith, and the account of these two must be accurate. It would not be fair of me to judge the work of Einstein, for example, by the work of my college physics professor, as likely the college professor will fall far short of the scientific genius that Einstein exuded. In the same way, judging Islam by the average Muslim in the street who himself/herself does not know Islam is a mistake.


again, thsi is a false analagy (you are good at these).

the analogy would not be judging Einstein by the work of another professor, this would be equivical to judging Islam by the impact of another religion, you would judge Einstien by the impcat of his ideas on the, and here's an important concept REAL WORLD. If Einstein's theroys are good on paper, but useless in practice, then they are useless in practice.

Equally, if a religion, a creed designed to enlighten and show the way to live ones life, in fact, fails to do so in the majority of cases (nb, true across the board) due to its message being esaily distorted or containing inhereant contradictions or entrenched prejucide that many find offputting or just ideas thatthe majority of humanity find unpalatable or impossible to live by(presumablty a creator wouldn't create a race like this if he really wanted them to follow his path that woul dbe wither cruel or stupid), then that religion in itself is a failure.

Its like communism - nice idea in some respects but DOESN'T WORK IN REALITY.

And you can say 'oh, but it works for me' but the fact is that is about as uncaring and selfish an atitude as you can find.

Also, the notion that these texts 'must be accurate' remains am equally false hurrah. Even if they have not changed one iota (which form a more objective perspective seems unliley), all that means is you have the preserved euliguising of one guy. It doesn't prove that that guy was a prophet or in any way devine or that his ideas are all great, does it?
 

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Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:52 am

Best First wrote:Equally, if a religion, a creed designed to enlighten and show the way to live ones life, in fact, fails to do so in the majority of cases (nb, true across the board) due to its message being esaily distorted or containing inhereant contradictions or entrenched prejucide that many find offputting or just ideas thatthe majority of humanity find unpalatable or impossible to live by(presumablty a creator wouldn't create a race like this if he really wanted them to follow his path that woul dbe wither cruel or stupid), then that religion in itself is a failure.


I like that alot.

For every suicide bomber who kills himself in the name of Allah - they will tell you that the Koran asks them to behave in such a way.

If a religious message can be so miss-interpreted then surely the religion itself itsnt getting the message across clearly at all?

I ask again - why do you need religion when 'be good to each other' is so much simpler and cannot be distorted?

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Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:27 am

sadly i thinki it can be distorted.

what if you decide that being gay is wrong (can't think why you would, of course) , and therefore by forcing people to 'not be gay' you think you are being good to them, because you know better.

Then you could say well, we will define freedom as anything you want to do that does not hurt others, so being gay is ok as its between consenting adults, but then someone will claim being gay is bad for the soul so while no oe is being physically harmed they are being mentally harmed.

or some such sh*t.

i mean even concepts like 'killing is only justifiable is self defence' can be twisted quite readily.

An eye for an eye is so easy to mess with its hilarious.

the big issue is really human arrogance and self interests (which also introduces tribalism to the mix), the decision to decide for others what is best for them or force others to act in a manner which you know suits you - adopting a religion and proclaiming it as 'the truth' is an obvious example of this, and o ethat is distorted by the fact that it is based on faith rather than rationality, but we all do it to a lessar extent, voting for a political party for example.

so again it comes back to the question of how do we ever find a consensus, and is it possible to do it without ****ing some group over?

and if we can't, how do we face up to that reality and try and 'manage' the conflicts that may always exist?

that said i'd like to see your approach tried for a few centuries, just in case...
 

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Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:41 am

Yes quite right, even the most simple of messages can be used in the wrong way I suppose.

I wonder how many rules you would need before it cant be seen in any other light, in some respects the 10 commandments are almost thier but would require modernising.

I still have this thought in my head about religon in general tho, I myself can accept , dont kill other ppl, dont steal and even 'be good to each other' as I dont feel I will screw around the basic concept.

Why the need to tack on all the other stuff like gods etc? what good does that do? - its seems thats more for club membership then anything else.

for example:

Impy is a good person - Non religous
YaYa is a good person - Religous

Is one of these statements less valid then the other? - and if I am less good because I am not religous can someone explain why God would feel the same way when God isnt interested ?

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Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:47 am

Yaya, I draw your attention to my example of Bongoism earlier. The Bongoist Bible says "Be extra speshul to each other", which is a laudable aim, but the Bongoist congregation has interpreted this to mean "have sex with children in a shed". Judging that religion on its holy text, it's a really good thing. On the actions of its followers it's completely reprehensible.

Now the Koran isn't even all nice to begin with. There's a lot of sexist, xenophobic, homophobic and quite frankly scary stuff in there. So judging Islam by the Koran, you've already lost points. Judging Islam by the actions of its followers, the violent extremists spoil it for everyone else. Judge it by the success of Islamic societies and states and the picture's even bleaker. Like Bouncelot with the Bible, you're cherry-picking a few good things from the book, conveniently ignoring or dismissing anything that might be interpreted as bad, and saying "my religion is good because I believe it".

Try and think outside your own head for a moment and look at what Islam and Christianity have done to the world. Think about all those people tortured or killed in the name of God. You can say "well, I know my faith is good and that's all that counts", but in the long run you're blinding yourself to the truth about your religion.


Yaya wrote:Islam is more than the oppression of women, more than the instigation of violent tendencies that many here in my country would hope to impress on others.

Yes it is, but those things are still parts of Islam and, in my view, inexcusable. It's like saying that (another crude analogy, damn Godwin's law has been shot to pieces in this thread already) Hitler's government was more than just the extermination of Jews and invading other countries. Which of course it was, but that doesn't mean that we can ignore those things and marvel at how Nazi Germany had 0% unemployment.

Yaya wrote:If you read the Koran and Hadith and approach a Muslim scholar for answers to whatever questions you might have, you may uncover an understanding of it which never would have been realized from text books or journalist who lack knowledge on the subject.

I have read the Koran. I have spoken to Muslim scholars about it. Weren't you listening? I've done precisely what you have advocated here, and I still don't like what I find. Yes, there are some good bits, but they are outweighed by all the bad **** that's in there too.

I would have waited a ******* eternity for this!!!!
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Wed Jul 19, 2006 1:20 pm

Not to mention the central lie that humanity is importnat and has some devine purpose - something for which there is zero evidence.
 

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Wed Jul 19, 2006 1:23 pm

God can create the entire Universe but cant get a few words across correctly!

Amazing but evidently true...

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Wed Jul 19, 2006 1:37 pm

Plus - Firelfy got axed - no way no how is there a god.
 

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Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:11 pm

Ain't that the truth.

I would have waited a ******* eternity for this!!!!
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Thu Jul 20, 2006 6:08 pm

Bouncelot wrote:
Karl Lynch wrote:
Bouncelot wrote:For more examples see my response to Impy's post. It's remarkable how often such massive changes in peoples' conditions co-incincide exactly with people being prayed for.


I already did and answered it :3 In short, given the sheer number of religious people and the sheer number of people in the world with illnesses, it would be highly unusual if some people who were prayed for didn't improve. That doesn't mean the two are causal, as FSM observed: the rate of global warming has increased with the decrease in the pirate population.


In some of the examples I quoted somebody is prayed for and instantly their condition dramatically changes after many years of it being stable. And yet you're claiming that the change happens to be co-incidental? In other cases, the change wasn't necessarily instantaneous, but clearly happened about the time they were prayed for, and the change is also just co-incidental? I've seen it happen often enough that it's obvious that there's a correlation.


'Obvious' is an interesting choice of phrase (given the complete lack of evidence supporting prayer as a direct healing catalyst)- see more later.

Interesting you mentioned 'remote' healing as I know I read an article on an investigation into that. They were using three groups- one left to heal without intervention, another group who were prayed for at their bedside (with their full knowledge) and a final group who were prayed for remotely (without their knowledge). The results weren't any great shakes if I remember correctly- I think the group who were prayed for in their presence generally did better than the others, but that lends itself open to the obvious placebo effect.


I don't recall there being a group that was prayed for in their presence in studies I'm aware of. Most examples of miraculous healing are people being prayed for in their presence, it's impossible to test it against the placebo effect. Interesting that there is a difference in that group, though.


You mean in their absence I assume? I don't see why praying for someone in their presence or absence would make any difference if prayer was truly the means to that person's recovery. Prayer is prayer, surely? If God fancies healing that person then he'll do so.


When people prayed for in their presence there is often a more obvious link between the healing and the prayer. And healings do seem to happen more often when the person is being prayed for when present than when absent.


Yar, I appreciate that, although it still doesn't really fit with the notion of God. If the prayer is intentioned and meant just as much, distance should be incidental.

Annoyingly I can't find the paper (although I'm only making a cursory google against it) but did find this -> http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0403/p13s02-lire.html

It's from a Christian website, but interesting highlights that in fact in one study those who were prayed for did worse!


The page also highlights that it's incredibly difficult to design any sort of scientific test for the effectiveness of prayer. The study cited certainly offers no real insight into clearly miraculous healings.


No, funny that. Part 2 of what I alluded to earlier, for something obvious which is apparently there for all to see it's rather hard to demonstrate to anybody's satisfaction outside of the belief system. Hardly something you would expect from an obvious act of God.

I'm not sure that naturalistic necessarily equates to rational.

And no it doesn't worry me. If someone is healed when they are prayed for, does it matter if it was God acting outside of the way the universe normally works or God acting within the way the universe normally works?


You're making the leap that God is involved at all. If you wish to believe that God may intervene through entirely natural effects (that is to say, he's not turning up and literally healing someone with a flash of lights but perhaps working metaphorically with their immune system, doctors, family and wellwishers etc.) then that's reasonable I suppose. One may consider the Almighty to be a first cause of the Universe, in which case all things descending from it (including the human immune system for example) is 'His' healing.


Take the example of the parting of the Red Sea [actually it was the Reed Sea, but if I'd said that you'd be less likely to be recognise the example] from the Bible. There's a naturalistic explanation for the miracle - that the right kind of wind could leave a portion of the sea exposed so you could cross it. However, the story very clearly says that the sea parted when Moses raised out his hands over it and closed again when he did the same from the other side. Does that count as a miracle or a co-incidence? If someone is instantly healed when they are prayed for to be healed, as has happened in many cases, does it make the healing any less an act of God if there is a naturalistic explanation available?


We're assuming the Red Sea ever in fact parted at all, but even so aren't we rather defocussing the point? You're beliefs are mounted in large part on a belief that God is behind these healings and that they have no rational explanation, is this the case or is God now benig demoted down to a sort of 'first cause'? i.e. he created the Universe and is therefore responsible for everything anyway, such as the human immune system is an extension of God (for example)?


If you pray for something which wouldn't normally happen and it happens, does it count as an answer to prayer if it was at least theoretically possible for it to happen, or does it have to be utterly outside the laws of nature as currently understood in order to count? If God consistently answers prayers (and my experience is that He does), does that count as evidence that He exists, or is it just co-incidence until He intervenes in a way that is outside of our understanding.

However isn't that at odds with Biblical teachings, that God is actively afoot in the world?


Actively afoot in the world doesn't exclude working through the laws of nature as we understand them. The Bible teaches that God created and sustains the world. He's the one who makes sure the Universe functions as it does. It doesn't say that He cannot or will not work through the natural order.


So God works as a first cause then? Rather than a constantly interfering, meddling deity?


He does both. Look at the miracles in the Bible, many of them are at least theoretically within the laws of nature, whilst others aren't.


Why should God need to meddle in the world, when he created it in its totality with all things according to his purpose? Surely he'd only need to interfere with it in any way if he made a mistake in its conception? An aside to the most of the discussion but an interesting question :)

But you're not disputing the fact that thousands of children died today with HIV who prayed to God for their salvation? My conundrum is how a God who will happily descend a cure someone's earache because it was prayed for could turn a blind ear to all those children.

Naturally that can be despatched with "Ah, but we cannot hope to understand the mind of God", but I think you are more than smart enough to know that is a non-answer- as we said before, the ability for faith to paper over obvious glaring issues with a doctrine.


Well you have two options - either you assume that God has to answer every prayer for healing, or you assume that He will answer prayers for healing as and when He decides to do so. The Bible is quite clear that not everybody gets healed. There's one story from the gospels where Jesus goes to a pool that is believed to offer healing - when the waters were stirred up the first one in the pool gets healed - and He heals just one person there. Your take on the issue assumes that God should heal whoever we ask Him to whenever we ask (or something close). It's essentially saying "I know better than God does". If God does heal, He is free to do so in a way that doesn't align up with our preconceptions about how it is supposed to work.


That's basically a fancy way of saying "We cannot hope to understand the mind of God", isn't it? ;)


It's actually a way of saying "why should God pander to your personal ideas of how He should act?" If you're debating the existence of the God of the Bible, then you have to debate it on the basis of what the Bible says about Him, not what Western culture believes God should be like.


Alright then, we'll word it that way (it makes no real difference). The important aspect of this is you're intentionally ignoring fundamental errors in your faith system and instead transferring these errors onto other people. If you like "It's not me that's wrong, it's everyone else". Papering over obvious holes with "aaaaah", to quote Lee and Herrin.

In and of itself that's meaningless. Or if you like, great. It's all good, whatever works for you. What I find of greatest interest is the capacity to ignore such gaping errors in such a fashion for the sake of preserving a belief.

So does it not concern you that there is this omission in your belief and that you need to essentially paper-over it using the desire to believe in your belief?


What omission? I'm not the one assuming I know who God will or won't miraculously heal.


That's entirely true. Your position seems to be that God is responsible for direct interference in the world with rather little rhyme or reason behind it- he'll help person A but not person B.

Incidentally, I know from experience that actually when God leaves you in a difficult situation, or allows an illness to continue, that when you come out the other side, He has often enabled you to grow your character in ways that wouldn't otherwise have been possible. I also know that just because God hasn't healed someone of an illness yet, that doesn't mean He won't ever.


I'm not seeing much of a correlation with that and infants dying of rather bad problems. However, we can extend our blanket to include those situations by assuming God has some plan for these children, or that they are part of a grander scheme to allow humanity to advance?

God spent most of the Old Testament appearing in fireballs, wiping cities off the earth with brimstone and sulphur, flooding the world and killing everyone except for Noah and his brood (plus a few animals), sending tablets of stone to Earth and unleashing plagues of locusts upon his people's enemies.

He hasn't done a huge amount of that recently, in fact not since Man generally speaking became able to accept more down-to-earth explanations for world events.


He didn't do a lot of that in the Old Testament either. The big earth-shattering type of miracles were quite rare. It feels like there are a lot of them simply because the Bible naturally focuses its narrative on the times when stuff happened rather than when it didn't, but within the period covered by the Old Testament such in-your-face miracles happened every few centuries at best.


Yar, I appreciate that, you've got to admit he's been a little bit quiet for the last couple of millennia though hasn't he? Even allowing for one or two miracles every two hundred years you'd have expected a few by now.


How do you know He hasn't done a few miracles that were that obvious to the people witnessing them, but just not recorded for posterity? Even the most spectacular BIblical miracles were usually highly localised events witnessed by a single community of people.

It's interesting to note that contemporary records from church history frequently record miracle stories of various types, but it's incredibly rare for such stories to make it into books on the subject, except on rare occasions when they're treated as patently unreliable myths. Miracle stories from history rarely get reported by even Church Historians, let alone by secular ones..


More allusion to a conspiracy, more on this later too (in the form of the idea of 'blindness to a truth').

Quantifiable evidence of God would simply be thus:

We have an empty box. We know it is empty. We have measured it, weighed it, analysed it. Empty. We put it in an empty sealed room, nobody is allowed in. We get someone to pray for God to influence the box, and we then detect a change in the box. God heats the box up, cools it down, rips it, makes a tiger appear in it. Whatever. Why the Almighty considers giving us proof of his existence to be a sin is something I cannot grasp, similarly how a character who spends so much time interfering in the world in such obviously Godlike ways can suddenly totally withdraw and be reduced to dubious healing ceremonies.


If you look at the miracles in the Bible not one of them was about God proving that He exists. All of them were about something else. There is no example of a miracle that is purely intended to convince someone that God exists. They are all for a specific purpose - whether to authenticate a particular messenger, to prove a point about God's character to those who already know Him, to move His people to the next stage (like leaving Egypt), to preserve someone's life, to judge people for their sins or whatever. So that kind of experiment (which, incidentally, nobody has ever tried) isn't in keeping with the pattern of divine intervention shown in the Bible.


I don't see why he shouldn't do it though. Why is it anathema for God to do such things, he can do anything he likes and is all powerful so technically it's impossible to waste his time since he has an infinite quantity of it to waste :)

Plus the number of problems it would solve if God just appeared, cleared his throat and announced "Alright, I appreciate the last few messengers didn't do much of a job (3,445,098+ contradictory religions and counting... case in point... only one God, people!) so here's the ground rules..."

I see nothing even vaguely silly or impractical about that at all. If God's quite happy to turn up and heal [random] people why not interfere in a slightly bigger way and let everyone know the real scoop?


My best guess is because people still won't be convinced for more than a brief moment. The Bible is full of examples of people experiencing in-your-face miracles and then, the next moment, turning against God.


Hm could be, there would always be contrary individuals who would do the opposite. On a side note I can quite understand the number of individuals turning against God however, he's not portrayed as the nicest of individuals in most of the Bible as far as I can see.

Why can't God influence the world in such a fashion if he has no problems interfering in it?


That's one way of looking at it. The other is to ask why should He bother? Should God pander to our every desire for a sign. It reminds me of a former housemate's conversion story. He asked God for a sign that He existed and a Bible reference flashed into his mind. He looked it up, and it was the verse that said "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it."


But that is in and of itself a sign, isn't it? o.O Is God into recursive irony now? Yikes.


God has a highly developed sense of humour.


THE most highly developed :)

Why shouldn't God do so though? As I said, he's all powerful- it's not as if we can physically waste his time. We're in theory his number one priority, and if he gets it right this time (instead of fudging his message like last time through a load of vague writings) he wouldn't need to appear again.


Proving His existence to sceptics isn't necessarily His number one priority. And accounts of the supernatural aren't ever going to convince hardcore sceptics 2000 years after the event, so there would be the need to repeat it over and over.


Yar, my point was though that God is timeless and has an infinite amount of power... so technically he could do everything ever possible simultaneously at once an infinite number of times in a second (phew). Proving his existence to everyone on Earth every second of every day (for argument's sake) wouldn't make any impact on his power or time, since he has infinite reservoirs of both :3

You're assuming that there is an objective truth outside of your own personal agenda. However, if God's truth were always true, objective and all-encompassing... shouldn't anybody be able to see it regardless of genetics? Considering God in theory also created our DNA.


Why would everybody necessarily be able to see it? If the Bible is true, then humanity has been tainted by sin and some people are spiritually blind, unable to see what should be staring them in the face.


Well it doesn't sound very fair for a start- everybody should have the same crack of the whip, surely? Else God doesn't sound like much of a deity worth worshipping if you're going to be screwed for all eternity just because the dice fell that way.


Why should it be fair? From the point of view of Christian theology, the entire world has been tainted by the effects of sin. Spiritual blindness is a consequence of both the general effects of sin and a person's own personal sin. It is, at least to some extent, our own fault.


But God created Sin o.o

God made man, he made the capacity for man to do evil, he made a world where man could do evil and (being omnipotent and knowing the future) God knew that man would do evil with the things he created. Doesn't that rather make it God's fault?

The true irony I continue to smile at however is that you're fully aware that I'm not inventing these faults with your understanding and that we've exposed it's essentially your faith self-sustaining your faith against what most people would consider to be normal reasoning- an intentional decision not to look facts in the face and instead to retreat into belief because the process of assimilating these understandings would be too upsetting- yet you're implication is that it's everybody else who is blind. You know this to be true, you're intentionally ignoring it :) That's the most fascinating thing about this.


On the contrary, you're critiquing a version of faith that I don't actually hold to. I believe the Bible to be true, and therefore any critique of my faith has to be a critique of the Bible's teaching (or at least my understanding of it) rather than a critique of what is, essentially, modern Western culture's ideas about how God should behave.


To be accurate, the final analysis of my dialogue is analysing your responses to the critiques, but it's all good :)

So, if you wish to, we may continue further down this road and I shall elaborate on what I observed above... others are blind, yet you can see. See evidence very clearly that you are, in all probability, right.

How does that make you feel?

Not that it matters one iota, but if as I suspect we only get one shot at life with nothing coming after don't you think you might be rather wasting time you can't afford to waste?


Well if you're right then it matters not one iota what I do with my life. If I'm right then it matters an awful lot. :p


Technically it doesn't matter to me, no. Nor to anyone else. It would matter to you though. I, for example, am very conscious I have just one shot at life (as if my considered opinion, given my experience, mental infrastructure and personality) so I have a distinct worry of 'wasting' my time, that I have only so much to use and it must be used most wisely.

Although I'm anticipating an interesting dialogue from our discussion immediately above that may ellucidate my understanding on this issue.

You're assuming independence where none really exists. Human beings acquire knowledge through their senses, not directly. The world is filtered through these and goes to make up our personalities and understanding.

Essentially what you're telling me is logically impossible:

You were involved in your church and saw 'things' through its (rather tinted) lens and you also see the word of the Bible at work in the world.

However this is not a result of you believing the teachings or the word of the Bible, as that came after (since these affirmations are your reason for believing the word of the Bible).

You must first believe these things to see them and believe them, how can they then stand as proof for your beliefs?

Essentially you cannot escape that human beings filter the world through our minds and not directly- to see 'evidence' for the Bible, one would first need to believe the Bible.

Your faith must therefore be an internal quality, rather than external. It's no great biggie, but it's the leadup to the following:


I'm not sure I entirely follow the logic of what you're saying. The evidence I see for the Bible being an accurate depiction of events is not dependant on the evidence for supernatural events happening around me. The evidence for supernatural events happening around me to people who believe in the Bible is not dependant on the evidence for the Bible. Yes, they point in the same direction, and ultimately reinforce each other, but either is capable of standing up as evidence in its own right.


Unless you believed what you were seeing was the work of God you wouldn't see it as the work of God. I rather fancy I've probably seen some things in this life you might undeniably attribute to God yet I do not qualify them as such. If you didn't already believe they were the work of God surely you'd say it was something else?


Possibly. But when things that have no obvious natural explanation repeatedly happen in a Christian context, they point towards there being something in that context which produces them. And it doesn't alter that I find the more naturalistic evidence for the Bible to be convincing independant of whether I see miracles happening around me or not.


No, you're quite right, it doesn't matter in and of itself. Although my question was an interesting one, supposing we come back to our earlier idea of interpretation (linked back into the idea of truth and 'obvious' versus 'blind') and that maybe I have experienced things you may consider to be miraculous.

Maybe I've experienced more.

Could God possibly favour me more to expose me to these things?

Hence you must first believe before you can see the 'evidence'. Otherwise why don't I see this same evidence, if it's apparently there in such obvious quantities that anybody who can't see it must be 'spiritually blind'?


Well your response to examples I've quoted of instantaneous healings when people are prayed for healing and people praising God in languages they've never learnt but which other people present know is consistent with you refusing to accept the evidence rather than not seeing it.


Ah, so you do believe me to be blind. Tell me about that a little more... how do you believe that may shape the hierarchies of the world?

Oh not one bit, multiple bits will do fine. So you like God's 'grace'? I'd like you to tell me more about that... by grace you mean the way his works all fit together and interact? Erm, elegant I think is perhaps the word- the workings of the world are elegant?


Nope. Grace is essentially God giving us the opposite of what we deserve - eternal life when we deserve eternal damnation and the like. It's a wonderful concept that basically underpins Christian theology.


Why don't we deserve nice things? God made us, made our universe, made all the laws that Govern it and is the first cause for all things- if God is responsible for all things then he is responsible for us and our behaviour. If we do bad things, isn't that the fault of the individual who not only made us but made all the things that influenced us to do bad?


So you're denying the possibility of personal responsibility for your actions and decisions. Explain precisely why God should let you, or anyone. into heaven rather than hell. Heaven is a place of absolute perfection where God is absolutely present. Why should an imperfect person be let in? Wouldn't he or she ruin it by his or her mere presence, unless there is some mechanism to remove his or her imperfection? Hell is a place where God is, as much as He could be, absent. Someone who chooses not to believe in God, or to reject Him, is choosing for themselves that they would prefer Hell to Heaven. Why should you or I deserve heaven instead of hell?


I explain it thusly. God created all things, he created all events, he created time and God (knowing the future, or if you like, being the future) knows exactly everything that will happen and it will happen according to his 'plan' for nothing happens without him since he is the source of all things.

How can such a situation possibly leave me culpable for my actions when I am therefore the creation (by one or more degrees) of God, including my faults, sins and failings?

Although your observation does lead to an even more interesting question... why do we deserve heaven? Why is there even a heaven? Why shouldn't God just make Earth heaven and put us all into it immediately with no pain or suffering?

The problem is the issue of God's all powerfulness and his being the source for all things ever, he must therefore cause everything including the circumstances under which we cause evil, our capacity for evil, our desire for evil and therefore be responsible for the fact we do evil.

Is a vicious dog a 'bad' creature or is the person who whipped it, starved it and generally mistreated it to make it so 'bad'? Or are they both dislikeable entities? Now there's an idea... maybe God could really be like mankind- faults and all! Which would explain his picking-and-choosing over who to save from dreadful illness.


If the Biblical version of God is true, then humans rebelled against God with no bad treatment, to provoke them. Does your analogy still hold true?


I don't see why it doesn't. Why did human beings rebel against God without God wishing it by incorporating this capacity into their design, putting them in the situation where they could explore this capacity, giving them the means to explore this capacity all in the complete knowledge of what they would do?

So a non-Christian whose attitude to God at the time was "If I ever meet him I'll thump him one" audibly hears God's voice?


Why shouldn't he? If the mechanisms are already built in his brain for such a belief and he is in fact expressing other thoughts and feelings (sounds like frustration) through his words?

Let's put it this way, if he plots to thump God one he must first be open to the idea of his existence :) So maybe there were whole areas of his brain and psyche just waiting to kick into action, perhaps therefore creating 'fulfilment'? An interesting idea! :)


I'm not sure he did actually believe in God at the time. I know people who have gone from not believing in God at all to becoming Christians. How would they fit into your model?


Not believing in God is not the same thing as the capacity to be able to believe in God, I believe is the distinction I'm making.


I get you now. Interesting take.


That's what I thought :) The nice thing about this I find is a lot of the points are starting to join up together and provide a quite clear (to me) picture. I'm genuinely very pleased to have this dialogue with you.

Hm sounds good to me- part of his mind needed something to believe in, best place to start is someone who knows a thing or two about religion. It'd be probably such a man might be reading his Bible at the time.

Minds are incredibly complicated, subtle impulses are built on and joined to thoughts and feelings which can then become words and sensations in our mind. Maybe your friend felt such a thing? Maybe if God were a 'first cause' he might well be behind them (ultimately).


Possible. Though, knowing the man in question, I'm not convinced about your explanation.


{Shrug} You're perogative if you believe you know another man's mind that well :) From an unbiased, practical perspective it's no more unlikely than God talking to him though, is it?


What's an unbiased, practical perspective? Is it one where the activitiy of God is considered unlikely compared to naturalistic explanations? Because that's a naturalistic bias. I really don't think there is such a thing as an unbiased perspective on the issue of God being involved in a particular example of possible divine intervention. The nearest you'll ever get to unbiased is a bias where either explanation is considered equally plausible.


That's very true. As we've no proof that God said anything to him, and since we can assert any number of other explanations with the same level of evidence (including mine) we must assume without giving bias to one or the other that neither is more unlikely than the other, I believe?

Expending energy on something that's constructed to fit non-existent patterns seems to me to be something that would be less useful as a survival trait.


Patterns may be extremely complicated- to ellucidate the point, wise women used to make crazy potions for fixing all manner of illnesses. Believing they were expunging demons, or evacuating humors or any other amount of what we know today to be total nonsense. However, nobody would deny that often their remedies might work- they wouldn't be handed down one generation to the next as cures if they consistently failed.

Certain herbs, plants and animals may contain chemicals with restorative and healing properties, hence assisting the body in dealing with the illness.

The understanding is nonsense, but the pattern derived by the human brain may be more effective than seeing no pattern at all.

Does it still sound as if expanding this energy in such a fashion is of no benefit? Why shouldn't we scale this model up to include a philosophy of all things, considering it's highly unlikely human beings can switch this capacity on and off at will?


Surely the effects of such constructs would be as likely to construct things that hold society back or damage it as to accidentally hit something that works? Certainly in its earliest stages of development.


Quite possibly they did! A sort of mental evolution, where the bad practices obviously had negative impact and were dropped and those that for whatever reason worked were continued.
 

Bouncelot

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Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:36 pm

Yaya wrote:I wouldn't say horribly corrupted, as you do, because much of Islam and Christianity teach the same. The Ten Commandments, treatment of others, treatment of parents. etc. They are not so different. In fact, I will find you verses in the Bible that advocate hijab, the head covering for women. Yet, nobody ever mentions this verse.


There are many similarities. Islam's relationship to Christianity is fairly similar to Mormonism's. In both cases, the spin-off group has the Bible effectively superceded by a new revelation. In both cases there are many similarities, but in both cases the spin-off denies fundamental doctrines of Christianity. I fthe Bible has been corrupted as you say, it has been corrupted to obscure the most fundamental parts of the message. As for the one verse in the Bible which talks about women covering their heads, it is talking about the specific case of bringing a prophecy in a church meeting, and gives an explanation that it is a "sign of authority" (whose isn't stated, but in none of the possibilities does covering the head constitute a sign of authority in our culture).

And yet they are different in a big way. Because of all things in Islam, belief in One God is most important, whereas in Christianity, the Trinity is most important. In other words, changing from One God to One in Three is not so hard to believe could happen in a religious text, particularly one revealed by someone who was not so well known until after he left.

Impossible for this alteration to occur? I think it very easy, and believe that the New Testaments partner, the Old Testament, provides evidence enough that Prophets always taught One God.


Even when they wrote things like:

Genesis 1:26 wrote: 26Then God said, "Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."


or:

Psalm 45 wrote: 6Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
7you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;


Looks like God is a bit more complicated than the simple unity seen in Islam.

I think you just justified the Soviet Union's Gulags there. Deliberately killing a man who is not actually engaged in battle with you and without a trial is surely murder rather than execution.


That's your opinion on the matter. If you think a man who spouts poetry and speeches to incite others through lies and deceit to persecute and murder others, well, I mean what can I say. He was called a poet because his words were powerful, and swayed people to action. He was a dangerous man. A trial likely would have happened, had the Muslims actually had a government of their own, and were not few in number making it their goal to live to the next day.


Well, that's exactly the sort of thing the Soviets claimed the prisoners in the gulags had been doing. There's still the point of Muhammed setting a lower moral standard for his marriages than was demanded of other Muslims. Oh, and the small matter of piracy when he first moved to Medina. You may believe that he was morally perfect, but it doesn't look convincing to someone who doesn't accept him as a prophet.

The point? If you believe Muhammad (PBUH) to be a Prophet, which I do, then you know he was privy to things that others were not. Even his pagan enemies referred to him as Al-Amin, the Truthful One. If you don't believe him to be a Prophet (PBUH), you will remain skeptical, as many are and have been since he lived, and look upon his actions as nothing more than selfish motivations.


In fact, to those who don't consider him a prophet, he looks as flawed as the portrayals you complain of in the Bible.

Yeah, I know. Here's a suggestion. Turn the volume down on your television set and it won't be so loud. I mean, that's the source for most information have on Islam. Western television.


You got a source we could look at which gives another picture of the Muslim world?

Hm, it's almost starting to sound like Christianity there.


They came from the same source, after all.


I'd say that Islam is a corrupted version of a couple of heretical "Christian" sects Mohammed came into contact with. You say that Christianity is a heavily corrupted version of Jesus' message. Does that actually equate to the same source?
 

Bouncelot

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Tue Jul 25, 2006 8:30 pm

You mean in their absence I assume? I don't see why praying for someone in their presence or absence would make any difference if prayer was truly the means to that person's recovery. Prayer is prayer, surely? If God fancies healing that person then he'll do so.


When people prayed for in their presence there is often a more obvious link between the healing and the prayer. And healings do seem to happen more often when the person is being prayed for when present than when absent.


Yar, I appreciate that, although it still doesn't really fit with the notion of God. If the prayer is intentioned and meant just as much, distance should be incidental.


I think partly, any correlation is likely to be more obvious when somebody is prayed for in their presence. In many cases, being prayed for in person is the first case where somebody is actually prayed for. Remote prayer is more often an ongoing thing when God hasn't immediately healed somebody.

So God works as a first cause then? Rather than a constantly interfering, meddling deity?


He does both. Look at the miracles in the Bible, many of them are at least theoretically within the laws of nature, whilst others aren't.


Why should God need to meddle in the world, when he created it in its totality with all things according to his purpose? Surely he'd only need to interfere with it in any way if he made a mistake in its conception? An aside to the most of the discussion but an interesting question :)


This is assuming that God intended the laws of nature to be the only thing He'd need to achieve His purposes for the world. I tend towards the view that the laws of nature are simply the way God usually chooses to run the world rather than something fundamentally built into it and functioning independantly of Him. 99% of the time they're the way He wants it to run. But occasionally He'll choose to do something different.

It's actually a way of saying "why should God pander to your personal ideas of how He should act?" If you're debating the existence of the God of the Bible, then you have to debate it on the basis of what the Bible says about Him, not what Western culture believes God should be like.


Alright then, we'll word it that way (it makes no real difference). The important aspect of this is you're intentionally ignoring fundamental errors in your faith system and instead transferring these errors onto other people. If you like "It's not me that's wrong, it's everyone else". Papering over obvious holes with "aaaaah", to quote Lee and Herrin.

In and of itself that's meaningless. Or if you like, great. It's all good, whatever works for you. What I find of greatest interest is the capacity to ignore such gaping errors in such a fashion for the sake of preserving a belief.


Not at all. God picking and choosing who to heal is built into the Bible's teaching on healing. There's one incident in the gospels where Jesus goes to a pool which was rumoured to have healing powers - when the waters stirred, so people believed, the first person in would get healed. Jesus healed just one of the people sitting around the pool. If God was expected to heal everybody of everything (as your question supposes), why didn't He heal all those around that pool? Because He doesn't work like that.

That's entirely true. Your position seems to be that God is responsible for direct interference in the world with rather little rhyme or reason behind it- he'll help person A but not person B.


I'd say that there is some reasoning behind it, just not one God's chosen to reveal. Oh, and neither person A nor person B actually deserves God's help.

I'm not seeing much of a correlation with that and infants dying of rather bad problems. However, we can extend our blanket to include those situations by assuming God has some plan for these children, or that they are part of a grander scheme to allow humanity to advance?


It's possible.

Yar, I appreciate that, you've got to admit he's been a little bit quiet for the last couple of millennia though hasn't he? Even allowing for one or two miracles every two hundred years you'd have expected a few by now.


How do you know He hasn't done a few miracles that were that obvious to the people witnessing them, but just not recorded for posterity? Even the most spectacular BIblical miracles were usually highly localised events witnessed by a single community of people.

It's interesting to note that contemporary records from church history frequently record miracle stories of various types, but it's incredibly rare for such stories to make it into books on the subject, except on rare occasions when they're treated as patently unreliable myths. Miracle stories from history rarely get reported by even Church Historians, let alone by secular ones..


More allusion to a conspiracy, more on this later too (in the form of the idea of 'blindness to a truth').


Not conspiracy. Simply stuff that modern people automatically dismiss as mythology. It's a demonstrable fact that most books on church history do not recount much in the way of supernatural phenomena. However, there are plenty of examples of reports of them from contemporary accounts.

I don't see why he shouldn't do it though. Why is it anathema for God to do such things, he can do anything he likes and is all powerful so technically it's impossible to waste his time since he has an infinite quantity of it to waste :)

Plus the number of problems it would solve if God just appeared, cleared his throat and announced "Alright, I appreciate the last few messengers didn't do much of a job (3,445,098+ contradictory religions and counting... case in point... only one God, people!) so here's the ground rules..."

I see nothing even vaguely silly or impractical about that at all. If God's quite happy to turn up and heal [random] people why not interfere in a slightly bigger way and let everyone know the real scoop?


My best guess is because people still won't be convinced for more than a brief moment. The Bible is full of examples of people experiencing in-your-face miracles and then, the next moment, turning against God.


Hm could be, there would always be contrary individuals who would do the opposite. On a side note I can quite understand the number of individuals turning against God however, he's not portrayed as the nicest of individuals in most of the Bible as far as I can see.


I don't have a particularly high view of "nice". The Bible's portrayal of God is that He is Holy as well as loving - it's something that doesn't fit with Western cultural ideals, it's something that's not comfortable, but it's something that is inherent to the nature of God as seen in the Bible. I think CS Lewis's Narnia stories summed up the issue of God being "nice" quite well : "He's not a tame lion, but he is good."

Proving His existence to sceptics isn't necessarily His number one priority. And accounts of the supernatural aren't ever going to convince hardcore sceptics 2000 years after the event, so there would be the need to repeat it over and over.


Yar, my point was though that God is timeless and has an infinite amount of power... so technically he could do everything ever possible simultaneously at once an infinite number of times in a second (phew). Proving his existence to everyone on Earth every second of every day (for argument's sake) wouldn't make any impact on his power or time, since he has infinite reservoirs of both :3


Just because He could do it doesn't mean that He should do it, though. Why should God force the likes of, say, Richard Dawkins, to accept His existence?

Why would everybody necessarily be able to see it? If the Bible is true, then humanity has been tainted by sin and some people are spiritually blind, unable to see what should be staring them in the face.


Well it doesn't sound very fair for a start- everybody should have the same crack of the whip, surely? Else God doesn't sound like much of a deity worth worshipping if you're going to be screwed for all eternity just because the dice fell that way.


Why should it be fair? From the point of view of Christian theology, the entire world has been tainted by the effects of sin. Spiritual blindness is a consequence of both the general effects of sin and a person's own personal sin. It is, at least to some extent, our own fault.


But God created Sin o.o


No He didn't. Sin is falling short, missing the mark, it's a corruption of what God has created. It's an absence of God.

God made man, he made the capacity for man to do evil, he made a world where man could do evil and (being omnipotent and knowing the future) God knew that man would do evil with the things he created. Doesn't that rather make it God's fault?


Man chose to sin, it's our fault for doing so. God holds us responsible for our own actions and by that token we are all guilty and deserving of judgement. Saying "it's God's fault" is passing the buck rather than owning up and taking responsibility.

So, if you wish to, we may continue further down this road and I shall elaborate on what I observed above... others are blind, yet you can see. See evidence very clearly that you are, in all probability, right.

How does that make you feel?


Well on that issue, grateful that God has opened my eyes, and sad that other people are still unable to see. Which is pretty much how most people feel about issues that are important to them which others disagree about.

Well if you're right then it matters not one iota what I do with my life. If I'm right then it matters an awful lot. :p


Technically it doesn't matter to me, no. Nor to anyone else. It would matter to you though. I, for example, am very conscious I have just one shot at life (as if my considered opinion, given my experience, mental infrastructure and personality) so I have a distinct worry of 'wasting' my time, that I have only so much to use and it must be used most wisely.


Hm, so you're wasting time worrying about whether you're wasting your time. :lol:

Possibly. But when things that have no obvious natural explanation repeatedly happen in a Christian context, they point towards there being something in that context which produces them. And it doesn't alter that I find the more naturalistic evidence for the Bible to be convincing independant of whether I see miracles happening around me or not.


No, you're quite right, it doesn't matter in and of itself. Although my question was an interesting one, supposing we come back to our earlier idea of interpretation (linked back into the idea of truth and 'obvious' versus 'blind') and that maybe I have experienced things you may consider to be miraculous.

Maybe I've experienced more.

Could God possibly favour me more to expose me to these things?


Are you saying that you've experienced more of that kind of thing than I have, or is this hypothetical? I don't think that would mean that God would favour you more or less than He favours me. I don't think He works like that.

Hence you must first believe before you can see the 'evidence'. Otherwise why don't I see this same evidence, if it's apparently there in such obvious quantities that anybody who can't see it must be 'spiritually blind'?


Well your response to examples I've quoted of instantaneous healings when people are prayed for healing and people praising God in languages they've never learnt but which other people present know is consistent with you refusing to accept the evidence rather than not seeing it.


Ah, so you do believe me to be blind. Tell me about that a little more... how do you believe that may shape the hierarchies of the world?[/quote]

Hierachies of the world? :confused: I pointed out some examples of supernatural events, you didn't even consider the possibility of them being supernatural.

I explain it thusly. God created all things, he created all events, he created time and God (knowing the future, or if you like, being the future) knows exactly everything that will happen and it will happen according to his 'plan' for nothing happens without him since he is the source of all things.

How can such a situation possibly leave me culpable for my actions when I am therefore the creation (by one or more degrees) of God, including my faults, sins and failings?


God holds us accountable for our actions. He doesn't force us to do good or to do evil. That's our decision. I don't think that God knowing the future prevents us from being held accountable for the choices we make. I don't think God creating the universe prevents us from being held accountable for the choices we make.

Although your observation does lead to an even more interesting question... why do we deserve heaven? Why is there even a heaven? Why shouldn't God just make Earth heaven and put us all into it immediately with no pain or suffering?


We don't deserve heaven. End of story.

The problem is the issue of God's all powerfulness and his being the source for all things ever, he must therefore cause everything including the circumstances under which we cause evil, our capacity for evil, our desire for evil and therefore be responsible for the fact we do evil.


So you're saying that I have to believe in absolute predestination with no level of human responsibility or free will? Why? If I make the decision to do something wrong, surely it's me rather than my parents, family, friends, teachers, society, etc. who influenced me who takes the blame for it.

I don't see why it doesn't. Why did human beings rebel against God without God wishing it by incorporating this capacity into their design, putting them in the situation where they could explore this capacity, giving them the means to explore this capacity all in the complete knowledge of what they would do?


Adam and Eve had the capacity to choose for themselves. Knowing what they would choose doesn't mean forcing their hand. Ultimately, the Bible teaches that God turned the existence of sin into something far better than what would have been without sin. The apostle Paul puts it like this:

Romans 5.20-6.2 wrote:20Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?


God's response to sin ultimately eclipses the negative impacts of sin. But that in no way absolves us of our own responsibility.

What's an unbiased, practical perspective? Is it one where the activitiy of God is considered unlikely compared to naturalistic explanations? Because that's a naturalistic bias. I really don't think there is such a thing as an unbiased perspective on the issue of God being involved in a particular example of possible divine intervention. The nearest you'll ever get to unbiased is a bias where either explanation is considered equally plausible.


That's very true. As we've no proof that God said anything to him, and since we can assert any number of other explanations with the same level of evidence (including mine) we must assume without giving bias to one or the other that neither is more unlikely than the other, I believe?


So we are forced to go for a perspective that is clearly a wrong perspective? If God exists, then the chance of that audible voice being God speaking is much greater, if He doesn't it's much smaller. A perspective that falls neither way is clearly mistaken.
 

Kaylee
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Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:12 pm

I'll do a little snipping of quotes to make things easier on my poor mind :)

Bouncelot wrote:I think partly, any correlation is likely to be more obvious when somebody is prayed for in their presence. In many cases, being prayed for in person is the first case where somebody is actually prayed for. Remote prayer is more often an ongoing thing when God hasn't immediately healed somebody.


It's rather a confusing idea, even if we let alone the concept of a prayer to God being the same thing regardless of distance, wouldn't one prayer be enough? If you're sincere enough (and God would know, surely) then God would note it and take it on board and he'd either answer it or not.

This is assuming that God intended the laws of nature to be the only thing He'd need to achieve His purposes for the world. I tend towards the view that the laws of nature are simply the way God usually chooses to run the world rather than something fundamentally built into it and functioning independantly of Him. 99% of the time they're the way He wants it to run. But occasionally He'll choose to do something different.


Hm I appreciate that... a being infinitely powerful, infinitely complex and able to see the future would however see all eventualities however and incorporate them into his original plan though, surely? As I observed, if God truly has these powers then the only reason he'd need to change the Universe he made (through interfering) would be if he didn't create it right first time round.

Not at all. God picking and choosing who to heal is built into the Bible's teaching on healing. There's one incident in the gospels where Jesus goes to a pool which was rumoured to have healing powers - when the waters stirred, so people believed, the first person in would get healed. Jesus healed just one of the people sitting around the pool. If God was expected to heal everybody of everything (as your question supposes), why didn't He heal all those around that pool? Because He doesn't work like that.


So God was a jerk in the oldun days too? I'm sorry if that sounds crude, but it's essentially the gist of what you related to me.

I'd say that there is some reasoning behind it, just not one God's chosen to reveal. Oh, and neither person A nor person B actually deserves God's help.


I'll ask why but I think we deal with this topic a little farther down...

Not conspiracy. Simply stuff that modern people automatically dismiss as mythology. It's a demonstrable fact that most books on church history do not recount much in the way of supernatural phenomena. However, there are plenty of examples of reports of them from contemporary accounts.


Okely dokely, the remit I recall was:

"God performed rather a large number of large miracles (parting seas, destroying peoples, blowing up cities etc.) in the era 4000BC - 0AD. He has performed very little in the way of such huge miracles since."

By all means at your disposal, demonstrate to me if you would the contrary :)

I don't have a particularly high view of "nice". The Bible's portrayal of God is that He is Holy as well as loving - it's something that doesn't fit with Western cultural ideals, it's something that's not comfortable, but it's something that is inherent to the nature of God as seen in the Bible. I think CS Lewis's Narnia stories summed up the issue of God being "nice" quite well : "He's not a tame lion, but he is good."


Yes, I thought we ran across this idea again (from further up). Given the number of people he kills, yet considers murder a sin, and the number of people he allows to die in present day all I can tell you is whether the Bible says this is a fantastic arrangement or not, this God doesn't sound very much worth worshipping.

So why do you? I think we come onto this point further down also :)

Just because He could do it doesn't mean that He should do it, though. Why should God force the likes of, say, Richard Dawkins, to accept His existence?


Good question! Personally if I had the power Richard Dawkins would be one of the last people I'd want to 'save'. However, doesn't God want the best for us? Or doesn't he give a hoot what we do and how we end up? If he wants the best for us, wouldn't a good first step to accepting the 'right' way of living be demonstrating his existence and imparting this knowledge without distortion to its intended recipients?

No He didn't. Sin is falling short, missing the mark, it's a corruption of what God has created. It's an absence of God.


Seeeeee below :3

Man chose to sin, it's our fault for doing so. God holds us responsible for our own actions and by that token we are all guilty and deserving of judgement. Saying "it's God's fault" is passing the buck rather than owning up and taking responsibility.


You're ignoring my point- God created all things and if he is all powerful he knows all that will happen. God creates us, gives us the ability to do bad, gives us the tools to do bad and gives us the inclination in the full knowledge that we will do bad.

The problem with such an omnipotent God is that he must surely be responsible for his creations?

Well on that issue, grateful that God has opened my eyes, and sad that other people are still unable to see. Which is pretty much how most people feel about issues that are important to them which others disagree about.


Is it?

So you feel sad for people who don't see it that way- you pity them? Why do you pity them? If people are happy in their lives, why need they pity?

How do you feel about your relation to these other people? Are you a mentor to them? Do you feel that you are on a different 'level' to these people?

Hm, so you're wasting time worrying about whether you're wasting your time. :lol:


Whoever said worrying was a waste of time? :) It's concerns over various ends, outcomes and uses which govern many of my decisions- hardly a waste :3

Are you saying that you've experienced more of that kind of thing than I have, or is this hypothetical? I don't think that would mean that God would favour you more or less than He favours me. I don't think He works like that.


Why shouldn't he? He's happy to ignore various pleas for suffering or for some of his subjects to be born blind to his divine light, why shouldn't he play favourites with certain creations, or have different purposes for them in such a capacity as to 'reveal' different things to them?

The actual question was hypothetical, as I've no idea what would constitute a God-like event for you- maybe you could furnish me with some criteria and I'll give me brain a ransack?

Hierachies of the world? :confused: I pointed out some examples of supernatural events, you didn't even consider the possibility of them being supernatural.


That's not entirely true, is it? I offered you explanations more grounded in observations which have been studied and recorded- the idea of supernatural explanation (as I've alluded to a couple of times) doesn't just include God- it includes pixies, elves and magic.

I'm curious to know how you think one group of individuals believing they can 'see' more than the others, or 'knowing better' may shape the social standing of different groups depending on their behaviour (whether or not it complies with this higher knowledge) or their beliefs (whether or not they correlate to those accepted as accurate)?

God holds us accountable for our actions. He doesn't force us to do good or to do evil. That's our decision. I don't think that God knowing the future prevents us from being held accountable for the choices we make. I don't think God creating the universe prevents us from being held accountable for the choices we make.


That's fine, I'd like to hear your reasoning though.

I put it that God creates all things, therefore he creates the stimuli that shape our lives, the chemicals in the womb that affects our minds and the events that form our perceptions. He is the cause of everything and all things happen according to his Grand Plan (whatever that may be). Therefore any sins we commit must also be part of this plan, as God knows (expects?) us to commit them (since he knows the future) and chose to put the capacity for the sin in our path in full knowledge of what we will do with it.

In fact, wouldn't God knowing the future make the entire concept of free will an irrelevancy? Either the future is fixed and God can see it or it is not and he can't.

We don't deserve heaven. End of story.


So you keep on telling me, but I still don't understand why. We carry on as part of God's plan which he created, crafted and put into motion. He controls all things and is the first cause for everything- every action, consequence and reaction traces its path back to God. Therefore we are part of this scheme. Why would God decide to treat us so harshly when we're only doing what he's told us to?

Or do you mean "I don't deserve heaven"?


So you're saying that I have to believe in absolute predestination with no level of human responsibility or free will? Why? If I make the decision to do something wrong, surely it's me rather than my parents, family, friends, teachers, society, etc. who influenced me who takes the blame for it.


According to human laws, yes. Human laws are incapable of taking into account the infinite computations and degrees of affectation which may have influenced your wrongdoing. God, however, could.

So why doesn't he? Why is he so constrained by such a human notion of law?

Adam and Eve had the capacity to choose for themselves. Knowing what they would choose doesn't mean forcing their hand.


But he created them, body and soul. He created their ability to sin, he created the situation for them to sin and he knew what would happen when all these things were in place.

That does sound pretty predetermined to my mind.

Ultimately, the Bible teaches that God turned the existence of sin into something far better than what would have been without sin. The apostle Paul puts it like this:

Romans 5.20-6.2 wrote:0Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?


God's response to sin ultimately eclipses the negative impacts of sin. But that in no way absolves us of our own responsibility.


I'm confused, didn't God plan for there to be sin then? Surely God, if he created all things and knows all of the future, must have known what would happen- why did he need to incorporate new ideas to take it into account?

If God exists, then the chance of that audible voice being God speaking is much greater, if He doesn't it's much smaller.


Well, no. If he doesn't exist then the probability is zero. If he does then yes, the probability is greater but it's very easy to have somehting greater than nothing ;) There's no reason at all that even accounting for God's existence the probability of the 'voices' coming from him should shoot up to anything like 'probable'- that's implied conjecture.

A perspective that falls neither way is clearly mistaken.


So the concept of weighing equally probably (or improbable) events as equally likely is mistaken? It's practical, I would have thought.
 

Bouncelot

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Sat Jul 29, 2006 5:54 pm

Karl Lynch wrote:
Bouncelot wrote:I think partly, any correlation is likely to be more obvious when somebody is prayed for in their presence. In many cases, being prayed for in person is the first case where somebody is actually prayed for. Remote prayer is more often an ongoing thing when God hasn't immediately healed somebody.


It's rather a confusing idea, even if we let alone the concept of a prayer to God being the same thing regardless of distance, wouldn't one prayer be enough? If you're sincere enough (and God would know, surely) then God would note it and take it on board and he'd either answer it or not.


Sometimes He'll delay acting for whatever reason - probably to help us develop perseverance.

This is assuming that God intended the laws of nature to be the only thing He'd need to achieve His purposes for the world. I tend towards the view that the laws of nature are simply the way God usually chooses to run the world rather than something fundamentally built into it and functioning independantly of Him. 99% of the time they're the way He wants it to run. But occasionally He'll choose to do something different.


Hm I appreciate that... a being infinitely powerful, infinitely complex and able to see the future would however see all eventualities however and incorporate them into his original plan though, surely? As I observed, if God truly has these powers then the only reason he'd need to change the Universe he made (through interfering) would be if he didn't create it right first time round.


The laws of nature are simply our method of describing what happens most of the time as far as we are able to observe it. If the universe runs on the idea of basic laws (rather than by God actively running it at all times) then it's possible that God could have built miracles into the basic laws, but not necessarily in a way that we'd realise by scientific experimentation. It's also possible that He just likes to interfere directly in the universe every so often.

Not at all. God picking and choosing who to heal is built into the Bible's teaching on healing. There's one incident in the gospels where Jesus goes to a pool which was rumoured to have healing powers - when the waters stirred, so people believed, the first person in would get healed. Jesus healed just one of the people sitting around the pool. If God was expected to heal everybody of everything (as your question supposes), why didn't He heal all those around that pool? Because He doesn't work like that.


So God was a jerk in the oldun days too? I'm sorry if that sounds crude, but it's essentially the gist of what you related to me.


If your definition of "jerk" is "somebody who doesn't always heal everybody who has an illness or disablility". I don't know why God doesn't always heal, but I've seen enough evidence that He does sometimes heal to convince me that He does sometimes heal.

Not conspiracy. Simply stuff that modern people automatically dismiss as mythology. It's a demonstrable fact that most books on church history do not recount much in the way of supernatural phenomena. However, there are plenty of examples of reports of them from contemporary accounts.


Okely dokely, the remit I recall was:

"God performed rather a large number of large miracles (parting seas, destroying peoples, blowing up cities etc.) in the era 4000BC - 0AD. He has performed very little in the way of such huge miracles since."

By all means at your disposal, demonstrate to me if you would the contrary :)

I did say that large miracles weren't that common in the Bible. If you're after sourced accounts rather than things I can remember off the top of my head, I'd have to spend time I probably don't have looking up details.

I don't have a particularly high view of "nice". The Bible's portrayal of God is that He is Holy as well as loving - it's something that doesn't fit with Western cultural ideals, it's something that's not comfortable, but it's something that is inherent to the nature of God as seen in the Bible. I think CS Lewis's Narnia stories summed up the issue of God being "nice" quite well : "He's not a tame lion, but he is good."


Yes, I thought we ran across this idea again (from further up). Given the number of people he kills, yet considers murder a sin, and the number of people he allows to die in present day all I can tell you is whether the Bible says this is a fantastic arrangement or not, this God doesn't sound very much worth worshipping.


God is in rather unique position of being able to "play God" as He actually is God. For a Christian, dying is actually a good thing - as you get to experience more of God than you otherwise would have done - He knows when is the best time for you to get to that "next level" of your relationship with Him. For somebody else, God is in the position of being able to be an absolutely just judge, jury, and executioner.

Just because He could do it doesn't mean that He should do it, though. Why should God force the likes of, say, Richard Dawkins, to accept His existence?


Good question! Personally if I had the power Richard Dawkins would be one of the last people I'd want to 'save'. However, doesn't God want the best for us? Or doesn't he give a hoot what we do and how we end up? If he wants the best for us, wouldn't a good first step to accepting the 'right' way of living be demonstrating his existence and imparting this knowledge without distortion to its intended recipients?


Accepting God's existence doesn't mean accepting His message. My personal opinion is that God only forces the issue in cases where it will actually lead to somebody accepting Him rather than just the fact of His existence. And, of course, He's the only person who has the capability of knowing who those people actually are.

Man chose to sin, it's our fault for doing so. God holds us responsible for our own actions and by that token we are all guilty and deserving of judgement. Saying "it's God's fault" is passing the buck rather than owning up and taking responsibility.


You're ignoring my point- God created all things and if he is all powerful he knows all that will happen. God creates us, gives us the ability to do bad, gives us the tools to do bad and gives us the inclination in the full knowledge that we will do bad.

The problem with such an omnipotent God is that he must surely be responsible for his creations?


You're basically insisting that I have to abandon all concept of human responsibility for our actions, all concepts of free will. I don't believe that I have to do so. God holds us accountable for our actions because they are our actions. He didn't force us to choose them.

Well on that issue, grateful that God has opened my eyes, and sad that other people are still unable to see. Which is pretty much how most people feel about issues that are important to them which others disagree about.


Is it?

So you feel sad for people who don't see it that way- you pity them? Why do you pity them? If people are happy in their lives, why need they pity?


Did I use the word pity? I don't think I did. It's more a case of "they don't know what it is that they're missing out on" coupled with a bit of "they don't realise the consequences of their actions" and also things along the lines of "it's such a waste that they're living their lives for no better reason than to have sex and get drunk".
.
How do you feel about your relation to these other people? Are you a mentor to them? Do you feel that you are on a different 'level' to these people?


I've been given something that they don't have, and I'll happily take opportunities to share it with them, but I know that if it hadn't been for knowing God I'd be in exactly the same kind of situation they're in. I definitely don't feel superior to others as a result of my faith.

Are you saying that you've experienced more of that kind of thing than I have, or is this hypothetical? I don't think that would mean that God would favour you more or less than He favours me. I don't think He works like that.


Why shouldn't he? He's happy to ignore various pleas for suffering or for some of his subjects to be born blind to his divine light, why shouldn't he play favourites with certain creations, or have different purposes for them in such a capacity as to 'reveal' different things to them?


Well, it could be argued that God does favour some above others, but experiencing God, observing Him doing things, does not imply that you would be more favoured than anybody else. If anything, it would imply that you've got more to be held responsible for.

The actual question was hypothetical, as I've no idea what would constitute a God-like event for you- maybe you could furnish me with some criteria and I'll give me brain a ransack?


Hm, coming up with a simple definition of a God-like event. I guess it would be something along the lines of "an event which is not part of peoples' everyday experience and which points to God". Except that for many Christians such events are everyday experiences. I'll have to think on it a bit to come up with a more practical definition.

Hierachies of the world? :confused: I pointed out some examples of supernatural events, you didn't even consider the possibility of them being supernatural.


That's not entirely true, is it? I offered you explanations more grounded in observations which have been studied and recorded- the idea of supernatural explanation (as I've alluded to a couple of times) doesn't just include God- it includes pixies, elves and magic.


I don't recall any response at all to any of the more specific examples I cited upthread.

I'm curious to know how you think one group of individuals believing they can 'see' more than the others, or 'knowing better' may shape the social standing of different groups depending on their behaviour (whether or not it complies with this higher knowledge) or their beliefs (whether or not they correlate to those accepted as accurate)?


Christianity is tempered by the fact of the the "knowing better" being a result of a free gift from God which doesn't depend in any way on the person receiving the gift, so any feelings of superiority are minimised - and would explicitly contradict the teaching of the Bible. If it shapes social standing it's a side effect of having much more in common with other Christians at a fundamental level of worldview and experience than with non-Christians of any given beliefs.

God holds us accountable for our actions. He doesn't force us to do good or to do evil. That's our decision. I don't think that God knowing the future prevents us from being held accountable for the choices we make. I don't think God creating the universe prevents us from being held accountable for the choices we make.


That's fine, I'd like to hear your reasoning though.

I put it that God creates all things, therefore he creates the stimuli that shape our lives, the chemicals in the womb that affects our minds and the events that form our perceptions. He is the cause of everything and all things happen according to his Grand Plan (whatever that may be). Therefore any sins we commit must also be part of this plan, as God knows (expects?) us to commit them (since he knows the future) and chose to put the capacity for the sin in our path in full knowledge of what we will do with it.


Whilst I'll admit that the existence of sin in general is ultimately a part of God's plan (a world that has been "redeemed" from sin is ultimately better than a world where there was never any sin - a bit like how a warm summer's day is far more enjoyable in a country where it is often cold and wet than in one where it is the default weather) I see no evidence that any particular sin is part of the plan.

In fact, wouldn't God knowing the future make the entire concept of free will an irrelevancy? Either the future is fixed and God can see it or it is not and he can't.


The difficulty here as I see it is that time is fundamentally part of the universe, and God exists outside of it (though He can interact with it). Saying that God knows the future is a bit of an oxymoron. The universe ultimately takes a single path, and God sees which path it takes. That doesn't, however, make Him responsible for all the decisions made by those within the universe. And it's not something that human beings, whose conceptions are shaped by being within time can easily conceive of. Given that set up I don't think that free will and predestination are necessarily in conflict.

We don't deserve heaven. End of story.
So you keep on telling me, but I still don't understand why. We carry on as part of God's plan which he created, crafted and put into motion. He controls all things and is the first cause for everything- every action, consequence and reaction traces its path back to God. Therefore we are part of this scheme. Why would God decide to treat us so harshly when we're only doing what he's told us to?


But we're NOT doing what He's told us. We've chosen to go against Him. Letting us into heaven would prevent it from being perfect like heaven is supposed to be because we would bring our sin in with us.


So you're saying that I have to believe in absolute predestination with no level of human responsibility or free will? Why? If I make the decision to do something wrong, surely it's me rather than my parents, family, friends, teachers, society, etc. who influenced me who takes the blame for it.


According to human laws, yes. Human laws are incapable of taking into account the infinite computations and degrees of affectation which may have influenced your wrongdoing. God, however, could.

So why doesn't he? Why is he so constrained by such a human notion of law?


So you're saying that God should accept the "I was only doing what everybody else told me" argument? He holds us accountable for our own actions. At the end of the day nobody forces me to act in a certain way. I don't have to act in accordance with my environment. Identical twins brought up in the same environment usually act differently rather than in the same manner - yet there is no genetic or environmental reason why this should be the case. We have the capacity to make choices in spite of our environment.

Adam and Eve had the capacity to choose for themselves. Knowing what they would choose doesn't mean forcing their hand.


But he created them, body and soul. He created their ability to sin, he created the situation for them to sin and he knew what would happen when all these things were in place.

That does sound pretty predetermined to my mind.


He created them with the capacity to choose for themselves. Seeing what they chose does not mean that He forced their hand.

Ultimately, the Bible teaches that God turned the existence of sin into something far better than what would have been without sin. The apostle Paul puts it like this:

Romans 5.20-6.2 wrote:0Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?


God's response to sin ultimately eclipses the negative impacts of sin. But that in no way absolves us of our own responsibility.


I'm confused, didn't God plan for there to be sin then? Surely God, if he created all things and knows all of the future, must have known what would happen- why did he need to incorporate new ideas to take it into account?[.quote]

God had a response to sin planned, but that doesn't mean that He should be held responsible for sin.

If God exists, then the chance of that audible voice being God speaking is much greater, if He doesn't it's much smaller.


Well, no. If he doesn't exist then the probability is zero. If he does then yes, the probability is greater but it's very easy to have somehting greater than nothing ;) There's no reason at all that even accounting for God's existence the probability of the 'voices' coming from him should shoot up to anything like 'probable'- that's implied conjecture.

A perspective that falls neither way is clearly mistaken.


So the concept of weighing equally probably (or improbable) events as equally likely is mistaken? It's practical, I would have thought.


The thing is that the perspective you propose isn't actually unbiased. It's heavily biased towards agnosticism.
 

Kaylee
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Sat Jul 29, 2006 7:56 pm

Bouncelot wrote:
Karl Lynch wrote:
Bouncelot wrote:I think partly, any correlation is likely to be more obvious when somebody is prayed for in their presence. In many cases, being prayed for in person is the first case where somebody is actually prayed for. Remote prayer is more often an ongoing thing when God hasn't immediately healed somebody.


It's rather a confusing idea, even if we let alone the concept of a prayer to God being the same thing regardless of distance, wouldn't one prayer be enough? If you're sincere enough (and God would know, surely) then God would note it and take it on board and he'd either answer it or not.


Sometimes He'll delay acting for whatever reason - probably to help us develop perseverance.


Why wouldn't God just put it there if he wanted it?

This is assuming that God intended the laws of nature to be the only thing He'd need to achieve His purposes for the world. I tend towards the view that the laws of nature are simply the way God usually chooses to run the world rather than something fundamentally built into it and functioning independantly of Him. 99% of the time they're the way He wants it to run. But occasionally He'll choose to do something different.


Hm I appreciate that... a being infinitely powerful, infinitely complex and able to see the future would however see all eventualities however and incorporate them into his original plan though, surely? As I observed, if God truly has these powers then the only reason he'd need to change the Universe he made (through interfering) would be if he didn't create it right first time round.


The laws of nature are simply our method of describing what happens most of the time as far as we are able to observe it. If the universe runs on the idea of basic laws (rather than by God actively running it at all times) then it's possible that God could have built miracles into the basic laws, but not necessarily in a way that we'd realise by scientific experimentation. It's also possible that He just likes to interfere directly in the universe every so often.


I suppose he'd have nothing else to do- as we discussed, a being who has the power to do everything, instantly, at all points in space and time (as he would be if he were omnipotent) would be interested in things to occupy himself?

Not at all. God picking and choosing who to heal is built into the Bible's teaching on healing. There's one incident in the gospels where Jesus goes to a pool which was rumoured to have healing powers - when the waters stirred, so people believed, the first person in would get healed. Jesus healed just one of the people sitting around the pool. If God was expected to heal everybody of everything (as your question supposes), why didn't He heal all those around that pool? Because He doesn't work like that.


So God was a jerk in the oldun days too? I'm sorry if that sounds crude, but it's essentially the gist of what you related to me.


If your definition of "jerk" is "somebody who doesn't always heal everybody who has an illness or disablility". I don't know why God doesn't always heal, but I've seen enough evidence that He does sometimes heal to convince me that He does sometimes heal.


Pretty much, yes, that's my definition. You have the power to help somebody but you don't.

Not conspiracy. Simply stuff that modern people automatically dismiss as mythology. It's a demonstrable fact that most books on church history do not recount much in the way of supernatural phenomena. However, there are plenty of examples of reports of them from contemporary accounts.


Okely dokely, the remit I recall was:

"God performed rather a large number of large miracles (parting seas, destroying peoples, blowing up cities etc.) in the era 4000BC - 0AD. He has performed very little in the way of such huge miracles since."

By all means at your disposal, demonstrate to me if you would the contrary :)

I did say that large miracles weren't that common in the Bible. If you're after sourced accounts rather than things I can remember off the top of my head, I'd have to spend time I probably don't have looking up details.


TBH that's fair enough, I'd probably only find faults with them anyway. It's my nature.

I don't have a particularly high view of "nice". The Bible's portrayal of God is that He is Holy as well as loving - it's something that doesn't fit with Western cultural ideals, it's something that's not comfortable, but it's something that is inherent to the nature of God as seen in the Bible. I think CS Lewis's Narnia stories summed up the issue of God being "nice" quite well : "He's not a tame lion, but he is good."


Yes, I thought we ran across this idea again (from further up). Given the number of people he kills, yet considers murder a sin, and the number of people he allows to die in present day all I can tell you is whether the Bible says this is a fantastic arrangement or not, this God doesn't sound very much worth worshipping.


God is in rather unique position of being able to "play God" as He actually is God. For a Christian, dying is actually a good thing - as you get to experience more of God than you otherwise would have done - He knows when is the best time for you to get to that "next level" of your relationship with Him. For somebody else, God is in the position of being able to be an absolutely just judge, jury, and executioner.


Ah, so death can also be a reward as much as a punishment? I didn't consider that.

Wouldn't the level of suffering you go through first have some bearing on that however?

Just because He could do it doesn't mean that He should do it, though. Why should God force the likes of, say, Richard Dawkins, to accept His existence?


Good question! Personally if I had the power Richard Dawkins would be one of the last people I'd want to 'save'. However, doesn't God want the best for us? Or doesn't he give a hoot what we do and how we end up? If he wants the best for us, wouldn't a good first step to accepting the 'right' way of living be demonstrating his existence and imparting this knowledge without distortion to its intended recipients?


Accepting God's existence doesn't mean accepting His message. My personal opinion is that God only forces the issue in cases where it will actually lead to somebody accepting Him rather than just the fact of His existence. And, of course, He's the only person who has the capability of knowing who those people actually are.


Why would he make is unequal in the ability to 'see' him and then punish those who are incapable of seeing him? Leastways I'm assuming some form of punishment is in store for disbelievers?

Man chose to sin, it's our fault for doing so. God holds us responsible for our own actions and by that token we are all guilty and deserving of judgement. Saying "it's God's fault" is passing the buck rather than owning up and taking responsibility.


You're ignoring my point- God created all things and if he is all powerful he knows all that will happen. God creates us, gives us the ability to do bad, gives us the tools to do bad and gives us the inclination in the full knowledge that we will do bad.

The problem with such an omnipotent God is that he must surely be responsible for his creations?


You're basically insisting that I have to abandon all concept of human responsibility for our actions, all concepts of free will. I don't believe that I have to do so. God holds us accountable for our actions because they are our actions. He didn't force us to choose them.


I put it that God does force us to choose them. God controls the laws that govern every neuron firing in your head, he controls the Earth and (by proxy) all events on it. God must surely be responsible for all things if they run to his design?

I appreciate that leaves no room for freewill, which in and of itself then runs into the problem of judgement. If indeed there were no freewill, God could never 'judge' us being as we are merely puppets running to an agenda we can't comprehend.

Maybe God has a reason for me sitting here speaking to you, and through various means it is God who is saying this to you- which technically would be accurate if I'm merely the puppet or messenger and God is the organ grinder.

Why would God do such a thing? Who knows. Maybe to be able to live outside of his omnipotence, which must be pretty dull at the best of times- seeing the future would mean no surprises, and achievement and accomplishment become meaningless when you can do anything instantly. Interesting :)

Well on that issue, grateful that God has opened my eyes, and sad that other people are still unable to see. Which is pretty much how most people feel about issues that are important to them which others disagree about.


Is it?

So you feel sad for people who don't see it that way- you pity them? Why do you pity them? If people are happy in their lives, why need they pity?


Did I use the word pity? I don't think I did. It's more a case of "they don't know what it is that they're missing out on" coupled with a bit of "they don't realise the consequences of their actions" and also things along the lines of "it's such a waste that they're living their lives for no better reason than to have sex and get drunk".


That sounds like pity to me :confused: Sorrow from the misfortune of another.

How do you feel about your relation to these other people? Are you a mentor to them? Do you feel that you are on a different 'level' to these people?


I've been given something that they don't have, and I'll happily take opportunities to share it with them, but I know that if it hadn't been for knowing God I'd be in exactly the same kind of situation they're in. I definitely don't feel superior to others as a result of my faith.


That's a very interesting juxtaposition. On the one hand, you believe yourself to be able to 'see' whereas others (like myself) are blind, and you feel sorrow for these people. However you don't feel you're superior? Well you must be superior, else you couldn't see the things we don't, surely?

I appreciate it's a nasty, unholy, unChristian thing to think yourself better than others (I'd say that was shared by most people) but inside don't we all think we're better in some way, talent or capacity? I know I do on various things- Computer Science being the major one.

Don't you ever feel, deep inside, that you're better for all these things you can see?

Are you saying that you've experienced more of that kind of thing than I have, or is this hypothetical? I don't think that would mean that God would favour you more or less than He favours me. I don't think He works like that.


Why shouldn't he? He's happy to ignore various pleas for suffering or for some of his subjects to be born blind to his divine light, why shouldn't he play favourites with certain creations, or have different purposes for them in such a capacity as to 'reveal' different things to them?


Well, it could be argued that God does favour some above others, but experiencing God, observing Him doing things, does not imply that you would be more favoured than anybody else. If anything, it would imply that you've got more to be held responsible for.


Because it would mean you should know better I assume?

Unless God, through me, had a plan for my particular behavioural pattern o.o

The actual question was hypothetical, as I've no idea what would constitute a God-like event for you- maybe you could furnish me with some criteria and I'll give me brain a ransack?


Hm, coming up with a simple definition of a God-like event. I guess it would be something along the lines of "an event which is not part of peoples' everyday experience and which points to God". Except that for many Christians such events are everyday experiences. I'll have to think on it a bit to come up with a more practical definition.


I'd be quite interested to know :) Then I could have a think and see if I've got anything which might fit the bill and we could discuss.

Hierachies of the world? :confused: I pointed out some examples of supernatural events, you didn't even consider the possibility of them being supernatural.


That's not entirely true, is it? I offered you explanations more grounded in observations which have been studied and recorded- the idea of supernatural explanation (as I've alluded to a couple of times) doesn't just include God- it includes pixies, elves and magic.


I don't recall any response at all to any of the more specific examples I cited upthread.


Then I missed have missed them- I thought I covered it quite thoroughly. Then again I'm pretty fallible. Kindly direct me to a couple I missed and we'll have a run-through.

I'm curious to know how you think one group of individuals believing they can 'see' more than the others, or 'knowing better' may shape the social standing of different groups depending on their behaviour (whether or not it complies with this higher knowledge) or their beliefs (whether or not they correlate to those accepted as accurate)?


Christianity is tempered by the fact of the the "knowing better" being a result of a free gift from God which doesn't depend in any way on the person receiving the gift, so any feelings of superiority are minimised - and would explicitly contradict the teaching of the Bible. If it shapes social standing it's a side effect of having much more in common with other Christians at a fundamental level of worldview and experience than with non-Christians of any given beliefs.


Why would Christians and non-Christians have little in common? Whilst I appreciate it's blasphemous to say so and 'real Christians' would disagree, I'm sure, there is more to life than faith. I know numerous married couples where one party is religious and the other not. In fact I'm sure both of us could name many partnerships of Christians and people of other faiths. I'd argue it's unfair to say that Christians have a view of life which is uncommon to those of a different persuasion. Or at very least it's an incredibly limited generalisation.

Still though, I'm interested in your allusion to feelings of superiority going against the Bible... do you think you may still have them in your subconcious? We cover this a little bit above also, so if you want to combine these two you can. If indeed these feelings are in your subconscious, couldn't they subtly affect your actions also?

God holds us accountable for our actions. He doesn't force us to do good or to do evil. That's our decision. I don't think that God knowing the future prevents us from being held accountable for the choices we make. I don't think God creating the universe prevents us from being held accountable for the choices we make.


That's fine, I'd like to hear your reasoning though.

I put it that God creates all things, therefore he creates the stimuli that shape our lives, the chemicals in the womb that affects our minds and the events that form our perceptions. He is the cause of everything and all things happen according to his Grand Plan (whatever that may be). Therefore any sins we commit must also be part of this plan, as God knows (expects?) us to commit them (since he knows the future) and chose to put the capacity for the sin in our path in full knowledge of what we will do with it.


Whilst I'll admit that the existence of sin in general is ultimately a part of God's plan (a world that has been "redeemed" from sin is ultimately better than a world where there was never any sin - a bit like how a warm summer's day is far more enjoyable in a country where it is often cold and wet than in one where it is the default weather) I see no evidence that any particular sin is part of the plan.


Hm, I was with you up until 'any particular sin is part of the plan'. So God just invented the idea of 'bad' but didn't give it any particular shape? I'd ask how he'd know it was bad if he wasn't sure exactly what it would entail, but I suppose since he's God he can do this sort of thing. In fact technically, even his say-so would make it a sin I guess.

In fact, wouldn't God knowing the future make the entire concept of free will an irrelevancy? Either the future is fixed and God can see it or it is not and he can't.


The difficulty here as I see it is that time is fundamentally part of the universe, and God exists outside of it (though He can interact with it). Saying that God knows the future is a bit of an oxymoron. The universe ultimately takes a single path, and God sees which path it takes. That doesn't, however, make Him responsible for all the decisions made by those within the universe. And it's not something that human beings, whose conceptions are shaped by being within time can easily conceive of. Given that set up I don't think that free will and predestination are necessarily in conflict.


But you just said the Universe takes a single path, a path instigated by God. What choice do we really have except to tread this path, perception or none?

We don't deserve heaven. End of story.
So you keep on telling me, but I still don't understand why. We carry on as part of God's plan which he created, crafted and put into motion. He controls all things and is the first cause for everything- every action, consequence and reaction traces its path back to God. Therefore we are part of this scheme. Why would God decide to treat us so harshly when we're only doing what he's told us to?


But we're NOT doing what He's told us. We've chosen to go against Him. Letting us into heaven would prevent it from being perfect like heaven is supposed to be because we would bring our sin in with us.


Single path, we walk it. We don't have any choice? Whether we go against God or not we do what we can do and nothing else.

Though technically, since God is the source of sin (although not a particular sin) and since God resides in heaven doesn't that mean sin is already there?

So you're saying that I have to believe in absolute predestination with no level of human responsibility or free will? Why? If I make the decision to do something wrong, surely it's me rather than my parents, family, friends, teachers, society, etc. who influenced me who takes the blame for it.


According to human laws, yes. Human laws are incapable of taking into account the infinite computations and degrees of affectation which may have influenced your wrongdoing. God, however, could.

So why doesn't he? Why is he so constrained by such a human notion of law?


So you're saying that God should accept the "I was only doing what everybody else told me" argument? He holds us accountable for our own actions. At the end of the day nobody forces me to act in a certain way. I don't have to act in accordance with my environment. Identical twins brought up in the same environment usually act differently rather than in the same manner - yet there is no genetic or environmental reason why this should be the case. We have the capacity to make choices in spite of our environment.


Identical twins do not experience an identical existence, hence the differentiations in their behaviour, so the reasoning goes.

Although we're still running against this idea of a predestination- one path, one destination, we walk the path and nothing else.

So we are effectively doing the only thing we can do, predetermined by God. Why would God punish us for doing the only thing we're capable of doing? :confused:

Again, this all stems from the snippet above so if you want to combine these that might be good. Saves on 'spaghetti code' :)

Adam and Eve had the capacity to choose for themselves. Knowing what they would choose doesn't mean forcing their hand.


But he created them, body and soul. He created their ability to sin, he created the situation for them to sin and he knew what would happen when all these things were in place.

That does sound pretty predetermined to my mind.


He created them with the capacity to choose for themselves. Seeing what they chose does not mean that He forced their hand.


I think we can safely take this as being part of the larger picture we're talking about above? We're already discussing this theme I think.

Ultimately, the Bible teaches that God turned the existence of sin into something far better than what would have been without sin. The apostle Paul puts it like this:

Romans 5.20-6.2 wrote:0Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?


God's response to sin ultimately eclipses the negative impacts of sin. But that in no way absolves us of our own responsibility.


I'm confused, didn't God plan for there to be sin then? Surely God, if he created all things and knows all of the future, must have known what would happen- why did he need to incorporate new ideas to take it into account?[.quote]

God had a response to sin planned, but that doesn't mean that He should be held responsible for sin.


But God made sin o.o

I appreciate sin is an action performed by man which God did not directly create, but we have no choice and are only acting the only way we can according to God's plan (his path) which we as mere mortals cannot deviate from. So technically he made it, didn't he?

There's a piece of relational algebra from Higher Mathematics (part of Armstrong's Inference Axioms) that runs:

If
A -> B (If A determines B)
and
B -> C (if B determines C)
then
A -> C (A determines C)

If God determined man, and man determined sin, then God determined sin.

It's a little bit of a departure from the Axioms intended use (in building relational databases) but it serves the point nicely imo :) [see? Holier than thou on Computer Science :3]

If God exists, then the chance of that audible voice being God speaking is much greater, if He doesn't it's much smaller.


Well, no. If he doesn't exist then the probability is zero. If he does then yes, the probability is greater but it's very easy to have somehting greater than nothing ;) There's no reason at all that even accounting for God's existence the probability of the 'voices' coming from him should shoot up to anything like 'probable'- that's implied conjecture.

A perspective that falls neither way is clearly mistaken.


So the concept of weighing equally probably (or improbable) events as equally likely is mistaken? It's practical, I would have thought.


The thing is that the perspective you propose isn't actually unbiased. It's heavily biased towards agnosticism.


So it has a bias towards being unbiased? (Agnosticism being doubtful or undecided on an issue). Sounds reasonable to me, if worded in a more cryptic manner.

I'm very pleased with the way this has gone, I've learnt a huge amount in terms of the reasoning and belief systems you possess. As you may notice I'm starting to wind down from my (sometimes perceived as rather harsh) interogatives, I'm still interested to see in a more general fashion your answers to some of the more trifling issues above. Very informative, thank you :)
 

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Sun Jul 30, 2006 12:47 pm

If our lives are pre-determined by God then Heaven and Hell cannot exist because you go to either place by the way u led your life - If my life was led by god doing then its unfair - and Religion pointless.

Another great contridiction.

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