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Does anyone has an answer
July 23, 2000
6:07 pm
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Frieda.

You asked,"It leads me to ask if you have seen it lived out..." Yes... a Catholic priest called Fr. John Roger was one such a man. He gave unstintingly of himself without question. I've seen him give money to bums without question or interference in their chosen life styles;he loved the most dirty, and most ugly of Christ's poor unconditionally. He served as a chaplain for many years at one of our toughest jails. He was a true friend to the toughest criminal in Australia, Darcy Duggan(now deceased). Fr John Roger had contempt for the whited sepulcre, church hierarchy. He died of alcoholism, defrocked and disowned by the church. He was a truly great man who tried so hard to live by the tenets of his faith. But like so many others like him, the institutionalised church, for which I do have contempt, disowned him. They could not see the wood for the trees.

You asked, "What does your God mean to you? What does He do for you, knowing of course, He needs nothing from you? Is He personal, is, I think my essential question. Not in a custom fit, create-your-own-god kinda way, where you take out what you disagree with or don't understand and take what's left. I mean does He know YOU? Does He care about YOU? Would He care about me? If so, why? Do you have any emotional attachment to your God? Do you 2-way communicate?"

The very nature of your questions show me that you see yourself as a being totally separate from what you call God. For you, like so many of your fellow Christians, your God is totally anthropomorphic. Christ gave you the answer when he said that "The Father and I are one" and then proceeded to call all mankind his brothers. (not politically correct I know) From my perspective on the nature of God, what you have asked me is "What does your (Awareness) mean to you? What does your (Awareness) do for you, knowing of course, your Awareness needs nothing from you? Is your Awareness personal, is, I think my essential question. Not in a custom fit, create-your-own-god kinda way, where you take out what you disagree with or don't understand and take what's left. I mean does your Awareness know YOU? Does your Awareness care about YOU? Would your Awareness care about me? If so, why? Do you have any emotional attachment to your Awareness? Do you 2-way communicate?" Can you see how peculiar and interesting your questions sounds to me?

You asked, "Do other scriptures claim to be God-breathed, also?" Yes... The Bhagavard Gita, a Hindu scripture of some note, claims to be the 'song of God'. That is what the words mean. The Koran is believed to be the message from God through Mohammed, God's messenger... and so on. I find westerners' ignorance of the other scriptures of the world, sad.

You asked, "What if the Bible is true?" I can see that instigating fear is the motive behind your question. It implies the threat of everlasting punishment or the withdrawal of eternal reward. This is Christianity's favourate weapon. The inquisition used it quite effectively amongst other more hiddeous things in instilling Christian belief conformity. I would ask you "What if it's not?" But to take your question seriously, I see that each of us has his/her own beliefs. How could an unconditionally loving, all knowing, all powerful God do other than to delight in the childlike beliefs of all mankind. On the other hand, if God is harsh, and easily beguiled by Satan into playing dice with ignorant mankind as He supposedly did with Job's life then I want no part of that God of your bible; a God who plays favourites amongst His children!! The notion of a chosen race, the Jews like much of the bible, is irreconcileable with the concept of an unconditionally loving God.

You asked, "Also, I am sorry you were abused by the church. They were wrong. They themselves must never have known a loving merciful God. They better hope He ISN'T all knowing..." Why do you say that? If your God is truly all loving, and all knowing, He would also know how deprived of love those abusers' childhoods were. It is this knowledge attained through my uni psyh degree that helps me see how much my abusers were victims of the ignorance spread by the Christianity of that time. Only the pressure of falling congregation sizes and other mundane and rebellious events had brought about change. The liberation theologies have brought pressure as well. Ignorance is the foe. And christianity like so many other religions fosters ignorance and conformity.

You asked, "Does that not say creation and God are one? Set me straight." If your God created all things as is iterated in the bible, this implies that He also created the nature of things? This also implies that he created the cyclic nature of all things. That is to say that He created the on going cycles of creation, sustenance and destruction. It further implies that He is responsible for the horror of the lion having to tear apart the fawn for food. But in the sense, that I suspect you have missed, I do think that all perceptions originate from within. I suspect that all material existence is an illusion of the Great Awareness that emanates in a synchronous fashion from within all of us. In my understanding of the word 'animism' this is not what the term implies. Again, I see that you are resorting to the common Christian tactic of 'branding' the person with a categorisation that would allow you to disregard rational argument. Why not deal directly with my firmly stated proposition in preference to 'stereotyping'?

My proposition is that the christian god, as delineated in the christian bible, is irreconcilable with the concept of an all knowing, unconditionally loving and all powerful God.

You asked, "How are you so specific in your replies?" Academic training. I guess.

You asked, "Would you please define agnosticism for me?"

The word is derived from the Greek word Gnosis, meaning 'to know'. The prefix 'a' is the negation of the meaning. Thus, 'Agnosis' means 'not to know'. An agnostic is one who claims that is not possible to know whether there exists a God - of the commonly held understanding of the word - or not. If such a God does exist, an agnostic would claim that we cannot know anything about that God. But I don't think an agnostic would be against speculation about the nature of such a God were He to exist. An agnostic would however abhor the claim that absolute knowledge about such a God exists in any human mind. An athiest on the other hand has the firm belief in the non-existence of any God. This is held by the Athiest to be an absolute truth.

My presently favoured stance is that of agnosticism. My concession to 'theism' is that I am biased towards the probability of the existence of a God beyond any human understanding; a God who is literally the creator of our conscious awareness instant by instant; albeit that this awareness is illusory and ignorant in nature. This implies that the 'self' is the 'Self' without ever being able to 'know' it beyond doubt. Thus, my agnosticism.

July 23, 2000
11:46 pm
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Tez,

You are getting less friendly-- or I more defensive, I suppose.

Why do you assume I am a Christian, and cast me in your own stereotypes?

My questions come from a thinking mind, not from indoctrination. Please don't discard my questions as propaganda. I wonder about lots of stuff, and am a seeker, sojourner. I was not pulling out a scare tactic when I asked about Biblical veracity, just curious about your response, and something I ask myself.

You really ought to find a more descriptive term for your beliefs than agnosticism. Why do you try so hard to know and understand what you say you believe is unknowable. Our spirits are all part of God, God is a part of all of our spirits? Even of evil? I want to understand, but I see as much argument against your faith as I do Christianity.

I'm sitting here with a Qur'an which I have studied some. I'm not entirely ignorant. The Bible says it is THE Word of God. It is God. John 1:1. That is a different claim than being a "message from God" or a "song of God" I think.

I've studied some Islam, lots of Judaism and Christianity, and I have a book on World Religions that I have a hard time reading. Maybe because I want to ask questions that aren't addressed. Maybe I can't get out of my mindset enough to understand. Everyone seems to want to "know God."(except the atheist and the agnotic--who only wants to speculate...)

I didn't want to peg anyone, I just want to be sure I understand what you are saying. Please forgive any "spirit of the inquisition" that you discerned in me.

You saw Fr. John Roger live admirably and lay down his life for his beliefs, but you nuulify his belefs because of how his church treated him. He doesn't count because he was mistreated and disgraced despite his noble living. Did he throw away his faith when he faced all the animosity of the church? Despite your analytical mind, you seem determined to link Christianity to Church. Can you see them as separate? I have rarely seen genuine Christianity in church government. Generally I see what I think is a lived out genuine faith in individuals, like Fr. Roger. People who inspire you to be more than you are, look outside yourself, serve--that's how it looks on the outside. When I look at a "sincere Christian's" heart-- well I can't really know what goes on. All I can see is the fruit. You are right in all you said about judging fruit, working for salvation, bloody sacrifice, etc. I just don't see the incompatability of the all loving, knowing, powerful and the evil and barbarism. Probably sounds naive to you. Like loving and fearing God at the same time.

When I said I was sorry you were abused, I should have just stopped there, without calling down God's judgment on the perpetrators. Sorry. See? You're more Christian than I am-- willing to forgive, extend compassion. I am sorry you were abused by anyone. I am glad it didn't destroy you. I am glad you can see it and extend grace. I am impressed.

I am learning a lot-- about you, religion(s), my beliefs, my questions, my doubts, my self. Thank you for helping me think through it. My questions are true querries, not bait.

July 25, 2000
4:26 pm
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Frieda.

You said, "… I just don't see the incompatability of the all loving, knowing, powerful and the evil and barbarism. Probably sounds naive to you. Like loving and fearing God at the same time." Yes, it seems to me that you have not carefully thought through the contradictory nature of this statement. Fear is the anthesis of love; like water and oil they don’t mix. One is the polar opposite of the other.

You said, "I am learning a lot-- about you, religion(s), my beliefs, my questions, my doubts, my self. Thank you for helping me think through it." No problem. I see the need to focus on the core issues of congruency and rationality in any spiritual belief.

You said, " My questions are true querries, not bait." This thought never occurred to me. Did it look, to you, like you were baiting me? Did a ‘hidden agenda’, unbeknown even to you, break through the curtain of the unconscious? Transference perhaps? Or are you reading intonations into my response words that are not there? If so, then, once again I am up against the limits of the written word and/or the phantoms of the past. Ahhh... but that is the price of removing the non-verbal communications channel and/or the retriggering of your childhood emotional memories. No problems either way. We’ll get bye with that which we have at our disposal 🙂

July 26, 2000
10:14 am
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Tez,

My cognitive purpose in this communication is to test what I think/know/believe, and hold it up to analytic thought. You, being the consummate analytic mind, have been generous with your views and critiques and have forced me to try to think without resorting to pat answers. You've accused me of "instigating fear" and "resorting to the common Christian tactic of 'branding'" (common to much of mankind), of wanting to disregard rational argument." I want to communicate honestly, to be understood, to understand and to test and be tested. I have rarely had an opportunity like this to hone my thinking AND beliefs.

Yes, I suppose when we infer meaning from the "tone" in which something is written, it includes emotional triggers. I felt you were being contemptuous of my questions and views because you thought I was arguing for the purpose of convincing.

I'll write later about congruity of fear and love...

Frieda

July 26, 2000
5:11 pm
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Frieda.
You said, "I'll write later about congruity of fear and love... "

I look forward to that.

July 27, 2000
6:42 pm
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OK. Here goes. I will be using the Bible for reference, feel free to challenge. (As though you would hold back!)

1Jn4:18 says: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. THe one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Dt.6:13 says: Fear the LORD your God, serve Him only.

Ancient Christian writers wrote about love and fear being opposite movements of the will. To say we 'love' something is to say that our will is attracted to it , and our soul chooses it, reaches for it, or is drawn to it as something desirable.

If we fear something, we are saying that our will is repelled by it, that our soul has an aversion to it and shrinks back fromit as something intimidating or undesirable.

There are Biblical examples of a heart turned toward God (IK 8:47-48, Ps 42:1,2) and others where some falter, melt away, or shrink back from what it fears(Ps 22:14, Is 21:4)

So to love God, is to see Him as good and desirable and to act according to that desire. To love Him perfectly is to see Him as All Loving, All good, the source of all good, and therefore to desire him above anything else.

So why fear God? If we find Him desirable, why would we be repelled by Him or have an aversion to Him, or be intimidated?

A) Sometimes we have a false view of God that creates an unhealthy fear. (Mt 25:24-25)"I knew you were a hard man," the servant says to the master. I've known people who were so afraid God would condemn them, that they quit trying to be Christians at all.

B) God has superlative attributes that we are afraid of, He being Creator, we the created. Like beholding a natural wonder like Niagara Falls.(Been there?) It is awe inspiring. Looking at it puts you in no danger of falling in, but there is a fear just to be so close to something that so dwarfs us. It could obliterate us. If that natural wonder is intimidating, what about being in the hands that created it? I like this quote from Job 38:

Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?...Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?... Can you loose the cords of Orion?...Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?

Job responded: "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know." (Sounds like a closet agnostic!)
The point is, we are not all knowing, all present, all powerful, all anything! And He is. We have limits. He doesn't.

C) We fear His holiness, because we are sinful. Now I know you have issues with "sin," but I can't think of another way to say this. We know we have done wrong stuff, and we cannot look on His perfection without feeling deeply our imperfections.

D) We fear God's punishment. When we see our depravity, we know we deserve punishment.(I know you are taking issue, just hear me out...) This kind of fear is our friend! "Through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil."Pr. 16:6. Catherine of Siena wrote that the fear of God begins as the fear of a servant towards a master-- the fear of punishment. But as the love grows, we learn the fear of friends-- the fear that something will damage our relationship. We are repelled by what comes between us, because we love God for Himself, for His mercy and His grace.

"The more holy we become through obedience, the less terrifying His holiness becomes; instead it appears more attractive to us, more 'lovable.'"--Paul Thigpen

I also like the way Father Augustine illustrated the point. He said that the fear of God is the needle that pierces our heart and leaves room for the thread, which is love, to enter and remain.

C.S. Lewis wrote, "People sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time," referring to Aslan, and as the children met Aslan,"if the children had ever thougt so, they were cured of it now." (I'm assuming familiarity with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) When they asked,"Is he dangerous?" they were told, "Yes, but He is good."

I want a God who has the power and authority to do with me whatever He wills, but extends mercy to me, for no good reason. Without judgment there is no need for grace.

A thoroughly Christian accounting. Submitted humbly, for your scrutiny.

July 28, 2000
9:44 am
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Ions....

In reply to your post on this thread...

nobody is without God.

July 28, 2000
10:17 pm
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Freida.

I carefully read your response and thought that it thoroughly supported my case that love and fear are totally incongruous.

I agree that it was a "A thoroughly Christian accounting" and it just reinforces my belief about the total contradictory nature of the Christian belief in both an omnipotent, omniscient, unconditionally loving God AND a belief in a God that makes demands, rewards, punishes, demands worship and conformity, takes offense and has most other human emotions(i.e. an anthropomorphic god)

Just to explore with only one of your points that substantiated my proposition above: You said, "Catherine of Siena wrote that the fear of God begins as the fear of a servant towards a master-- the fear of punishment. But as the love grows, we learn the fear of friends-- the fear that something will damage our relationship. We are repelled by what comes between us, because we love God for Himself, for His mercy and His grace. " - What could possibly damage our relationship with an all knowing all loving all powerful God? Our ignorance? But our ignorance is either caused or permitted by such a God! By definition such an infinitely three attributed God, as mentioned above, either causes or permits all things! Thus such a God would be ultimately responsible for all things. To punish His ignorant creation for its ignorance is totally unjust and unloving. A contradiction with the Christian definition of God. Surely you would not deny our ignorance! If so, whence comes our enlightenment of the nature of our own psyches and what lies at our very core?

July 30, 2000
10:00 pm
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Romans 1 says everybody has a knowledge of God inside (drastic paraphrase). So God, to be fair, must have made himself accessible to anyone who would look for Him, and has said that He did this through creation. Therefore, ignorance is no excuse. What separated us from God is all our "unholiness." But saying things like that to you is a conversation stopper, because "sin" is not in your vocab!!! Please tell me if there is a better way to address this issue, without a communication breakdown.

I don't wholly disagree that love and fear are incongruous. But I do believe they coexist. I can love God only to the degree that I fear (reverence) Him.

I have lots of beliefs, but my convictions are mushy. Arguing them with you helps me see them more clearly and either own or disregard them. So far, your arguments have not shaken my Love/Fear relationship, but have rather confirmed them. Ironically, my discussion seems to have done the same for you and your beliefs.

Was there anything you agreed with? Anything you hadn't thought of before? Anything that REALLY offended you? Did it just sound like rhetorical nonsense? Curious...

July 31, 2000
6:07 pm
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Frieda.
You asked, "Was there anything you agreed with?" From the perspective that you were trying to show the congruity of love and fear, my answer is that I could find nothing to show that the two are anything but polar opposites as black is to white, night is to day. Fear is the absence of love. Total fear is the total absence of love. However, I certainly agree that a fearful person can overcome their fears and act in a loving way. But this in no way implies congruency of love and fear. Having said that, I firmly believe that, as kerosene will not mix with water but will rise to the top, fear provides us with the opportunity to learn to overcome it and to choose a response based on love not fear. However, the belief that an unconditionally loving God would have us fear Him as a way of seeking our love, is irrational. This Christian concept is a human projection of their own fears into their imagined God; our stern rewarding and punishing father image buried deep in our psyche. As I said earlier, western society is patriachal; ask any femininist.:-) Had the Jews evolved into a matriachal society, how differently written would have been the bible and the Christian concept of God!

You asked, " Anything you hadn't thought of before?" No... it is a very familiar old road that I have travassed many times over the years. I always get the same evasive answers and references to the 'authority' of the bible. Your response only further convinces me of the irrationality of the Christian beliefs as espoused today. I see no rational argument only vague appeals to the falacious arguments of authority figures like Catherine of Sienna who appears to have had a very limited knowledge of the human psyche.

You asked, "Anything that REALLY offended you?" No... I think it takes a lot more than irrational propositions to offend me. If I ever do feel a little irritated, I use the opportunity to ask myself this question:"what belief is it inside of me that has activated an emotional memory of fear that now I am aware of as a feeling of irritation?" It is almost always a childhood inculcated irrational belief of which I am usually unaware. Today, I accept full responsibility for my feelings positive or negative and for rationalising my beliefs where irrational ones are found in me.

I often ask myself why I bother to engage in these seemingly futile activities on this thread. I think that I would like to help a little in freeing people from the yoke of fear that hierarchial churchmen promote and use to control the masses of unthinking humanity that they can coax into joining their congregations. The worst part about the 'great lie' is that these modern day 'pharasees' masquerade fear as 'love'. Christ's message to the world has indeed been lost.

You asked, "Did it just sound like rhetorical nonsense?" Rhetorical?... no. Nonsense? In the sense that your response did not present a logical argument... yes.

I couldn't do much with the rest of your posting... sorry.

August 1, 2000
10:11 pm
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OK.

I don't feel like I made myself understood, nor that I will on this point. It was good for me, however to think it through, and I convinced me, anyway:)

You are so sure of yourself, of your convictions. I admire that so much. I very much want to be. I think I'm being open-minded, but then I blurt out a streamlined argument, learned long ago. All I can do is look at it and see if it is true, or if it is true for me (since I get to decide, right?) Decide how it affects me, living my life, my relationships. Do I own it? I suppose I have numerous philosophies to go, questions to ask before I am as sure about anything as you are.

I am as skeptical of your answers as I am of my own. What I know about your beliefs:

You don't know if there is a god(regardle4ss of capitalizaton)

You don't know what that god would be like if he did exist, and speculating is just that.

You have an inner awareness that you address as a sovereign (I'm taking liberties here in my inference)

There is an all loving essence, but you have never accounted for the evil and hate in the world except to blame it on the prejudices of the religious Christians.

I'm sorry if you have regarded our correspondence as futile. Why would you want people to be free only to trap them again in your not-entirely-an-agnostic net? I don't see any up side to your set of belefs over my Old Faithful doctrine.

If you care to expound on your joy and freedom and inner strength, I will be open to it. If not...

So be it!:-)

August 2, 2000
4:15 pm
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Tez, Frieda,

I think that you are both talking about something that you seem to be pretty sure of. Only, you don't really communicate (not that you NEED to, but...). To me it seems, that some of the words you use carry a lot of meaning that "is understood" but each of you understand it in a vastly different way. I'm thinking about words like "love". You seem to have very different concepts of what love is or how to recognize it or what kind of actions can be loving. And Frieda, you seem to have a very different concept of "fear" compared to Tez. You wrote "this kind of fear becomes our friend".. and I don't think that Tez could feel friendly about something he calls fear.

But then I'm an agnostic who comes from a "heathen" family and I never had anybody who tried to persuade me to a Christian belief system - so I'm quite puzzled by all the emotions that seem to go into your debate.
Peace Eva

August 2, 2000
7:04 pm
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Eve.
You said, "I'm quite puzzled by all the emotions that seem to go into your debate". I cannot speak for Frieda, but I am unaware of any emotional arousal in me other than a slight frustration at being attributed with inferences and beliefs etc that I do not have. To logically repudiate even one takes half a screen of text. To challenge them all is impossible in this media.

But mostly, I find it difficult to get others to maintain focus on fundamental tenets of a belief and to have a logical, rational debate about its validity without resorting to all kinds of references to authorities as though such references validates an argument. Red herrings and vagaries further confound an issue.

Our discussion here began by Frieda wishing to discuss the tenets of my agnosticism and the question of congruity of the concept held by Christians of the nature of their God and that espoused by the bible. The incongruity of a all loving, all powerful, all knowing God using fear of punishment, withdrawl of Divine Love etc to extract love from humanity then became the focus.

I agree with you that now it seems that we have to digressed still further to debating the incongruity of fear and love in general. I do agree with you that there exists a semantic difficulty in regard to these two words. Some time ago I started a Thread called What is Love?. It convinced me that very few people really have a consensual understanding of the meaning of this word, love , let alone its polar opposite - fear. The threat blew out in size and complexity. But I persisted until the thread went into extinction. I am reluctant to digress even further.

What do you think about the seeming incongruity of the concepts of the existence of both an all loving, all powerful, all knowing God and one who allows innocent entities of all species to suffer so terribly?

I see it as the measure of the credibility of any religion to reconcile its proclaimed concepts of the nature of its God with that of both its scriptures and the nature of existence in the world. In the credibility stakes in regard to established religions, to date from my limited perspective, only Buddhism comes close. Hindu concepts of the God of the Trimurti come a close second.

August 2, 2000
8:02 pm
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Freida.
You said, "You don't know if there is a god(regardless of capitalizaton)" True. Nor does anyone else - all is belief held by severely limited and ignorant minds of individual human beings, including my own.

And, " You don't know what that god would be like if he did exist, and speculating is just that." True and nor does anyone else - all is belief held by severely limited and ignorant minds of individual human beings including my own.

And, "You have an inner awareness that you address as a sovereign (I'm taking liberties here in my inference)" It is certainly your inference and if it were true I would cretainly lack the humility to openly declare that I do not know anything with absolute certainty - beyond any doubt - other that there is an awareness that exists that I presuppose is 'me'. All else is open to conjecture.I believe that even Descarte went to far in his famous statement "Cognito ergo sum - I think therefore I am".

And,"There is an all loving essence," I don't know this! - however, I can start with this assumption as a starting point and argue the probability of it being likely.

And, "but you have never accounted for the evil and hate in the world" We have never discussed my concept of the causes of "evil and hate" in the world. I have only made a 'blanket' statement attributing it to ignorance.

And, "... except to blame it on the prejudices of the religious Christians." Totally incorrect. At no point do I 'blame' Christianity specifically. I 'blame' no one. I account for the "evil" - as you put it - by way of the ignorance of humanity in regard to the operation of their own psyche and their inability to find meaning in their vulnerability, etc. However, I categorically state that Christianity, amongst other religions, as a consequence of its inherent flaws, can do little to dispell this ignorance. 2000 years of history has substantiated this belief of mine to my satisfaction. It would appear to me that Christ's way of life has never been incorporated into what is now purported to be his religion.

And, "I'm sorry if you have regarded our correspondence as futile." This is an example of over-generalisation.

And, " Why would you want people to be free only to trap them again in your not-entirely-an-agnostic net?" Again for some reason unknown to me you presume that I want to entrap "followers". The idea that I would have "followers" is repugnant to me. If such an unlikely event happened, I would challenge such "followers" to think for themselves and not take my concepts on board uncritically.

And, "I don't see any up side to your set of belefs over my Old Faithful doctrine." You have only my beliefs about Christianity and little else. I have focused entirely on that belief system. Beyond declaring my agnosticism as stated by you and confirmed by me above, I have related practically nothing of my beliefs about the probabilities of the 'reality' that lies behind all existence.

And, "If you care to expound on your joy and freedom and inner strength, I will be open to it. If not..." I have done so in a past thread. It was lengthy and most readers seem to have found it to confronting or so abstract as to be beyond their comprehension. Again, I seek not to 'convert' but to 'think for myself' and to help others do the same. Challenging others to examine their own belief systems can either liberate them from slavery to fear or deepen their beliefs to the point wherein they discard the manipulative fear component. Either way I am unconcerned. Ignorance based fear is the 'enemy'; I do blame the "evils of the world" on that!

August 3, 2000
1:11 pm
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Tez,
you asked me some questions. First I want to state that I don’t usually like to put my beliefs into words. To me spiritual things are hmmm, well, unmentionable is not the word, but my spiritual self (somewhat unkempt and not very well attended to) is not really something that I would drag out into the cold world of logical reasoning. I’ll try and find some words nevertheless. Beliefs (and especially those beliefs that explain for me how this life works, and why everything will turn out fine in the end) for me are something that exist at a rather deep and wide area of my self, where logical thinking fears to tread. This ist somewhere where I go in awe – but not very often 🙂 . I apologize in advance to anyone who may be hurt by some of my words which won’t describe all I want to say.

you asked me what I think about the concept of an all loving, all powerful, all knowing god who nevertheless allows fear and suffering. Well there must be two parts to my answer. First: I personally don’t like the concept of an all loving, all powerful, all knowing, and conscious and interfering (guiding) entity, it doesn’t fit into my view of the world. To me it seems like anthropomorphing a Parent-in-the-Sky-Figure and the relationship to such an entity sounds to me like the relationship that a young child has to their authoritative parents: they seem to know everything – they are very powerful – and hopefully they are all loving. And this young child will necessarily run into all kinds of mishap, because he or she doesn’t know better. (But the parents know better, and they interfere, e.g. protect). Yet, in this concept of a parent-child-like interaction between god and people I think somehow that all the nasty stuff seems to come together whith the good stuff. (Frieda would you agree – or am I far off of what you believe?)

But I do believe that there is something – all powerful – all knowing – maybe even all loving. But is it conscious – and could we in any way communicate? I’ll never know. For everyday purposes I don’t need to know.

And you stated that you „see it as the measure of the credibility of any religion to reconcile its proclaimed concepts of the nature of its God with that of both its scriptures and the nature of existence in the world.“ Hmm. I agree only partially. Any religion should be made for people existing in the world, I wholeheartedly agree. But this scripture thing. I really don’t know. I have a deep distrust in our logical reasoning. And the reason for that is that we humans so damn good at it. But we are limited and so our theories must be limited, too. And i fear the brilliant, logically conclusive, nearly closed all explaining theory – that is 100 % wrong. Normally those theories that have it all sewn up don’t leave much room for personal freedom or disbelief.
No, I think I’ll stick whith my somewhat inconclusive can’t-be-bothered-agnosticism, as far as religious theories go.

By, I have to go before the thunderstorm will wrack my computer. Perhaps I shouldn’t have ..... Yeah, why not the ancient greek or roman concept of a whole bunch of gods that are quite selfish and tend to quarrel a lot between themselfs?

Eve

PS: Would somebody please make a new thread - I'm too impatient to wait during the download time.

August 3, 2000
6:57 pm
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Eve.
I largely agree. Especially that part about the anthropomorphic God. It seems that most, but not all, religions do just this in arriving at a concept of God. (I capitalize the 'G' out of deference to others)

You said, "And i fear the brilliant, logically conclusive, nearly closed all explaining theory – that is 100 % wrong." I don't fear this because I know that the chances of being 100% right are zero. Since, like you, I believe that we cannot know, then reason and logic becomes a tool, a panacea, for dealing with the unknown in a way that avoids the pitfalls of 'religiousity' that produce lots of fear and manipulation of that fear. Albeit that we utilize concepts such as irrational numbers, the intellect - as limited as it may be - is the only bulwark that we have against the 'absurd'.

August 11, 2000
3:21 pm
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Frieda
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Tez,
I am glad I understood some of what you were trying to say, verified by your response of "true." You are right about my overgeneralization and looking back, I suppose I did imply that you were seeking to convince. I admire your conviction and that you think logically. I disagree on the belief that God is unknowable, but want very much to also think logically and to have deep convictions--the one being dependent on the other. I apologize for diverting the conversation to a format that was unproductive. What do we agree about? I enjoyed your "Game" poem in the poem section. I was in whole hearted agreement till the "we as God" part. I think it expressed your beliefs well, however, and was enlightening. Your photos were revealing and great fun also. Do you have children? You are a biker, as is Hazza. Very interesting.

Sorry I haven't posted lately, I've not been able to access the discussions.

Frieda

August 11, 2000
3:49 pm
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Frieda
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Eve,
Again, you seem very at peace with your belief system, and at the same time unwilling to seek converts, and able to express in small degrees your basic tenets, and what they are not. I think I understand agnosticism. I think I understand Christianity. I have a very basic text book understanding of Hinduism. My basic requirements, to fill the need in my own heart are as follows:

An all knowing, all powerful, all loving God who loves me personally and seeks me out before I seek Him. Who is Who He is, with or without me, with or without what ANYone believes about Him. One Who teaches me and interferes in my life, to direct and lead, and correct. Who will never let me down, or leave me. Who loves me no matter what and can forgive anything. One Who can counsel me, and to Whom I can take all my cares and find Comfort. Who is always available, faithful, trustworthy, honest, and able to make Himself known to me.

Anthropomorphing? Perhaps. Or maybe we really were made in God's image, and God really did become a man. The parent/child analogy works for my belief system because God would logically give examples of His desired relationship with us in our real lives. He would over and over reveal Himself to us, trying to make Himself known, allowing Himself to be known.

Anyway, if I could make a God, that is what I would want in Him. The Christian/Judeo God seems to offer all that. Agnosticism doesn't seem to dispute any of it. Except the knowing. Which is the crux of it, isn't it? A Christian says, "This is it! I found the way, the answers!" And the Agnostic says, "You found something, but the one thing you can be sure of is, you CAN'T know THE way, and you can only question, not claim the 'answer.'" Am I right? I am still weighing my own beliefs in a scale of logic and faith, and asking lots of questions. If, indeed, Christianity is "The Truth" it must stand up to any rigors.

Thanks for your thoughts, Eve. YOU start a new thread! 🙂

Frieda

August 11, 2000
8:12 pm
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Frieda.

You asked, "Do you have children?" Yes - 3 sons and 1 daughter. My sons are 27, 31, 33 years old. My daughter is 29.

You asked, "What do we agree about?" I'm not sure if you intended this as a rhetorical question, the answer having subsequently been given in what followed. I'll presume this until I learn otherwise.

You said, "I enjoyed your 'Game' poem in the poem section. I was in whole hearted agreement till the 'we as God' part." - Being an agnostic, I cannot say that I know that 'we are God' for sure and for certain beyond any reasonable doubt. However, having said that and given that we start with the premise that there exists an all powerful, all loving all knowing God, I think that I can confidently say that this concept is the most logical, rational one in explaining the nature of all existence.

If we start with the premise that God is not all knowing, but is all powerful and only conditionally loving, then I can confidently say that Christianity as espoused in the bible is rational and logical. But I would not want any part of such a lesser god. Were I to try to curry favour with such a god, I would have to spend my life as a grovelling, appeasing, worshiping, and begging sychophant. Then the words of the lord's prayer would make sense.

To Eve you said, "Or maybe we really were made in God's image, and God really did become a man." Alternatively, the words 'God's image', of which the bible speaks, could mean a 'focal points in the Mind of God', that God - beyond time - isolated (the ego) in ignorance of its true nature in order for that same God to know, within time, the full spectrum of human experiences. How else could such a God know vulnerability, love, fear etc. Christ, if he were the only God-man, certainly could not have provided God with such a wide spectrum of human experiences. The fact that Christ called all mankind his brothers - and sisters by implication - is circumstantial evidence that he believed in us All being Divine. He said, "I am the Light which is over everything. I am the All. From me that All has gone forth, and to me the All has returned." Gospels of St. Thomas. Oops... I forgot that this gospel slipped through Emporer Constantine's net. It clearly says that Christ believed that All is One beyond time; for Christ it was goodbye duality. We have yet to discover the illusory nature of all separateness that our human body and the world creates.

August 11, 2000
11:20 pm
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Why is the Lord's prayer to be dismissed and the gospel of St. Thomas embraced? Aren't you putting yourself in Constantine's position? Pick and choose as it suits your own sensibilities? I agreee with all you say about God's character. I don't see any groveling or currying in The Lord's Prayer, however, and don't see the Bible, as we know it, as contradicting the omniscient, omnipresent, all loving(is there an omni word for that?). God did have to experience all the human condition. But why would He have to die to redeem a bunch of God's? Couldn't we do it for ourselves? I assume (Dangerously) that this is your point. You don't deny the crucifixion (that I can see), so why did it happen? Seems like you addressed this in your poem, I'll go reread it in a minute. Is it stupid to think that we are brothers and sisters of Christ in His humanity, and co-heirs of heaven because of the relationship He purchased for us? Remembering only He ould because only He was perfect, because He WAS God. It seems much more logical to me that we are utterly human, with a capacity to relate to the divine. Is my thinking faulty? I don't have anything that wasn't given to me. I did not create myself. I have not "created" anything. Yet I have been a part of creation.

By the way, I bet you have cool kids. Are they independent thinkers and have you had lots of philosophical dialogues with them? Or is that something appreciated more by outsiders than by family members? I am enjoying as my children reach this age where they wonder with new understanding about their beliefs, and about what they have been taught. They have great insights. I hope they never stop asking the hard questions. At the same time I wish I would stop! But I will probably always wonder and think and grow and adjust. I don't ever want a stagnant belief system.

I did answer the what do we agree on question? What did I say? I am trying so hard to understand why your Bible says something to you that mine does not to me. I am looking closely and trying not to gloss over anything. I only want a part of what is genuine and able to be held up to the light and believed by knowing. I really do want to KNOW. I don't like you saying I can't know, but I'm welcome and encouraged to TRY to know. AHHHHHHHHH!!! You've got to give me more reason and fact and proof than that.

Being humble doesn't require grovelling. Just remembering that we are the created, He the Creator.

Gotta go print out your poem...

Frieda

August 11, 2000
11:28 pm
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Dang! I gave away my secret identity!! You are hereby sworn to secrecy! Oh well...

Frieda/Jen heretofore known only as

Frieda

🙂

August 12, 2000
6:05 pm
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Frieda.
I'm curious as to your motive for using another name?

Or, is it that JenJen is pretending to be you doing something mischievous 'to stir the pot'?

Either way, a response to the Jenjen posting would be like trying to have meaningful dialogue with a playful monkey. Sorry Jenjen, or whoever you are.

August 14, 2000
1:50 pm
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hey dudes!
you dont think I am called hazza really do you?
god no.

Now have either of you read up about the EARLY christian movement and GNOSTICSM?
well, when you do you will see how completely different the modern church is to the original.
Christianity today is just the left overs of the Roman Empire.
Original christians did not think Jesus was immortal. Jesus was political, if he existed at all. Some scholars argue he was himself a metaphor.

I find it hard to take christians seriously if they conform the the organised dogma, but there are those out there who are different and full respect to them.

But study what was LEFT OUT of the bible. it is even more enlightening than what the romans decided could stay in the bible.

that is where the real discussion is I promise you
Peace
Haz

August 14, 2000
5:52 pm
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Hazza.

I have read translations of portions of the Nag Hammadi scrolls found in 1945. I have read translations of portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls as well. I have read some of the writings of the Gnostics. I have read enough to realise that modern Christianity does not faithfully present Christs message. That is why I am not a 'Christian'. I agree totally with you that "Christianity today is just the left overs of the Roman Empire". Emperor Justinius (in 553 AD) and Constantine saw to that. But the Coptic church and others did manage to avoid the clutches of imperial Rome to some extent.

I cannot bring myself to put on the 'blinkers' of any religion. This refusal to volunteer for a dose of tunnel vision, frees me to look at all religions, especially those of the east. I like the tolerance that the Hindi religions have. They say that there is 'salt in the flour' of all religions. That is, each religion has its share of truth amongst the dogma; its wheat amidst the chaff.

I always use the yardstick of reason as the initial discriminator. That rationality tells me that an ideal loving father would never insist that all his children showed their love by conforming to one approach to him. Its absurd to think that an unconditionally loving God would do so either.

Further, if there exists an all powerful, all knowing and unconditionally loving God, Such a God would have to either cause or permit all things. In such a case, everything must conform to the will of that God; otherwise it would not happen. With the existence of such a God, it is absurd to think that everything that transpires can in any way be to our detriment. Any rational religion, that claims an all knowing all loving all powerful God as the creator of all, must take this into account. Try to get any Christian to face this question without running to hid behind irrational and often irrelevant quotations from authority figures either within the bible or within the church hierarchy of 'saints'.

The concept of the occurrence of 'sin', i.e. transgressing the will of God, is absurd. Sin is supposedly the cause of all human suffering. 'Free will' and our desire for 'sinful pleasure' is touted as an explanation for why we 'choose' to 'sin'. Here you have a picture of an all knowing God, fully knowing the future, at the time of creation, building in the capacity for sin into the prototypical Adam and Eve; that is, a God who builds into humanity limited intelligence, the desire for pleasure, and free will. Then, you have that same god becoming 'angry' at Adam and Eve's disobedience; the original sin. ???????? This same unconditionally loving, all knowing, all powerful God then supposedly 'punishes' Adam and Eve and all the rest of mankind for being 'human'. It's like an engineer, designing a car that can unpredictably veer of the highway at any instant and then becoming 'angry' at the car when it does so; then condemning such cars that do 'transgress' to an eternal wrecking yard where there will be crushing and grinding of gearboxes for eternity. 🙂 What reasonable person would hold the 'car' responsible in a court of law! Is our situation with our desire for pleasure, our highly limited intelligence and our 'free will' so very different? I think not. Those who argue that the comparison between an engineer/car and God/human is nonsense, don't seem to realise the depth ignorance of the workings of the human psyche that most people have. I see the difference in intelligence between God and us directly comparable to the difference in intelligence between the engineer and the car. If anything the difference between the 'intelligence' of God and us is infinitely greater!! Such a God would have to bear the full responsibility for any 'sin'. So where is the justice and love in punishing humans for their 'sins'?

I think that we have to look much further than the modern Christian (Roman) doctrine, for rational concept for explaining the causes of suffering in the world. This is at the very heart of the question asked by Jaytong when he/she started this thread. But its very difficult to hold the focus on this question. As soon as Christianity is touted as an 'answer' it leads to questioning the absurdities mentioned above.

August 18, 2000
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Hey Tez,
I agree wholeheartedly with your vies on thatone.
It is good to know that you have done yor research! I found the who deadsea scrolls stuff very enlightening - things made a lot more sense just understnad the progression and mutations of the christian releigion.

Being as well read as you are, you may have heard of the Pythagoreans>?
many havent, but I lived with my grandfather who was a prominent mordern pythagorean.
It is not a relgion as such, more a philosophy and way of life to a degree. No blind faith, just a questioning attitude really!

When young, I asked my grandfather to tell me more about the pythagorean faith (for want of a better word!)
he replied that to tell me his beliefs would be wrong, as becuase i was young there was a chance that I could absorb them as my own. He told me that I should wait until I was an adult and research it independently if I was interested. He told me much about their philosophies, so I guess no matter what \I still absorbed a lot! But I was always encouraged By all my family to have my own views on anything and not to be lead by others.
I remember going to school at a bout four or five and sitting in their christian assembly, they would make us pray - which I refused to do because ti seems illogical to me when I didn't believe. I couldn't understand how everyone at school believed in this thing called God - I hadent really heard of God before, but the stories sounded ridiculous and even the adults seems to be taking it seriously! I guess that feeling has never really left me!

I admire and sountimes envy those with faith - fiath does cause wars and misery - I have always felt that, but their is no doubt that t gives great comfort to individuals also, anything legal that helps people make sense of the abyss of life can't be all bad I guess, but it just is not for me, and I think the corruption of any orginal messege is the biggest problem - from the whole Pauline slant that christianity took on, the original messege seems to have been lost.

At school I could not understand the nativity thing at all, I have already learned that Mithras was born on Xmas day, and many other relgions has a similar key festivals that had been absorbed from other things. it all jsut made me a bit frustrated.

i so looked forward to school, because as a child I was hungry for knowledge - my parents told me that I would learn all this stuff at school and when I got there, well they seemed so totally unenlightened and NON-freethinking that I felt a bit cheated, I learned far more at home with my family really!

Ah, well, maybe if I hadent been brought up to think so much, I would have not had such a head full of issues! still its a wonderful world whatever way it came about, and as you said - any so called loving god would not have given us brainsto question unless they were totally egotistical- which is a human attribute me thinks, not a godly one!

so the christian god starts as a jealous god - so the bible says, and turned into this all loving one!

or maybe it is because, the original god was Yahweh, the jewish storm god - known for being a bit angry, who merged into the ONE god as the religion mutated and evolved over the centuries?

fascinating stuff, although I cant be bothered right now to intellectualise, being sleepy today, but the history of these mutations is fascinating.

You talked of the Hindi religions, of which I know little, but I did hear, like you said, a little while backa small peice somewhere on telly about some of their views about being very accepting that all faiths have elements of the one universal truth - this sounds more enlightening to me than that i have seen elsewhere, so I think I shall do some research into that, and find out what they are all about!
oh well, time to wak my brain up I guess
take care
Hazza

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