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    • CommentAuthorSteadyUP
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2010 edited
    I've heard "Satanists" say the exact opposite - "Do you believe in God?" "No, I believe in the devil." "...then, you do believe in God. You just think the devil is more interesting." "No, there's no God." "Then where'd the devil come from?"
    • CommentAuthorJiveKitty
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2010 edited
    @SteadyUP: Depends how it's defined, I suppose. They may be using the terminology for the pleasure as to the shock value it gives, but mean something much different to the usual God/Devil dichotomy.

    As for talking to God and hearing back. I have Christian friends and that they believe God talks to them scares me. Not because I believe God talks to them but because they do. It has been described as words without a voice, i.e they feel they are typically in control of their thoughts, but on occasion they feel the words have been "placed" into their mind rather than their thoughts advancing in the natural progression. A burning sensation in the hands and heart while being prayed over at a prayer group. As for audible voice, it comes through others, i.e. being spoken to at Christian camp by the main speaker, who did not know the person, and being given the spiel that God has a word for them, but the speaker who did not have a personal knowledge of the person spoke to some specific things going on in the person's life at the time (despite only the person's partner at the camp knowing them in depth - I don't know if there was consideration the partner could have said something, but even if not, there are other ways). My friend said they believe that the only way God does speak audibly to people is through other people whose hearts are open to Him. Although my friend has not experienced this, they also believe God "speaks" to people by giving them specific dreams and visions.

    I have not been witness to any of these particular occasions for my friend, but as a teenager I was forced to go to Church at times when I couldn't avoid it. I've witnessed people being picked out by visiting preachers and the like, I've witnessed faith "healings", and I've seen people speak in tongues. What I put it down to ultimately is a combination of delusion and manipulation. When somebody is picked out, it's much in the manner of a television psychic saying things that can be interpreted quite specifically by the person being spoken to but which are really quite general things which can be going on in a person's life. When people are faith "healed", some faint, most of those being healed fall back into the arms of the catchers and if not the rest are pushed back by the hand laid on the head. There is, however, the caveat that God may choose not to heal them for whatever reason. The speaking in tongues was just bizarre, not as a manifestation of their god's power, just that it was done regularly almost at a set time during the service and thought to have meaning: there didn't seem any point to it. The power of the human mind to embrace group events and mass delusion is phenomenal.
    • CommentAuthorcoffeemug
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2010
    @government spy:

    The notion that Good only exists in opposition to Evil is actually not that prominent a position in the history of christian theology (for which I am putting theological philosophy under the banner of theology here). Evil as a polar (and more or less equally powerful) opposite force to good is a gnostic or manichean element that has somehow found its way into popular thought, since the church has long fought against gnostic interpretations like this. Because, obviously, when you ascribe a similar power to evil as you do to good, you basically diminish the (infinite) power of God, since it would mean he has an actual opponent. Also, it would mean that he has created a being equal in power to himself. Why a perfectly good God would do such a thing, is a bit of a theological problem (the question of why evil exists int he first place is bad enough).

    A prominent alternative is that evil is merely the absence of good, without a polar opposite to it.

    @Finagle: Kierkegaard, nice! It fascinates me infinitely how he acknowledges the absurdity of belief and at the same time does not reject it.
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010 edited
    Yeah, the fire-and-brimstone shtick is mostly to scare people into doing "good" and keeping them in line. It's even being phased out in my old hyper-conservative Lutheran sect, in favor of a more "God totally loves you, and you wouldn't want to be apart from someone who totally loves you would you? (Even though we still believe he did all these horrific things in the past and has threatened to do more of the same if people keep fucking up.)" Basically the spectrum isn't so much Good vs. Equally-Powered Evil, but Good vs. Mostly-Impotent Not-So-Good.

    But the other point coffeemug brings up is a valuable one: the idea of the devil is, in fact, a logical problem on a much broader scale than something like transubstantiation. Even if God created the angel Lucifer who fell from grace, what's the point of allowing him to continue to exist? You're fucking God. Smite his ass and carry on. It's a big reason I have with the entire book of Job. A god that makes bets with his supposed enemy regarding the devotion of his followers doesn't seem much like a loving god. Especially considering the whole fucking ordeal would have been avoided by just blasting Lucifer out of existence.

    There's the argument of "you can't really know good without evil," but I think that's bullshit on a cosmic level. You never have to know the difference if all you've ever known is perfect. Ah, but then there's the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil... but why the fuck was it in the garden to begin with? The whole basis of the religion, both Old and New Testements, is so arbitrary that it seems just as likely as random chemical reactions leading to organized, sentient life over the course of a few billion years.

    Of course, one of those explanations is observable, testable, logical, and has evidence outside a book that claims its own divine validity.
    • CommentAuthorSteadyUP
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010
    It's even being phased out in my old hyper-conservative Lutheran sect, in favor of a more "God totally loves you, and you wouldn't want to be apart from someone who totally loves you would you?
    I wouldn't want to belong to any eternal paradise that'd have me as a member.
  1.  (8121.286)
    Sorry I've been gone so long. I realized something very personal to me that came out over the course of this thread. It's probably one of the reasons I keep coming back here; I learn something new. But it's taken me two weeks to think about what I want to say.

    I was a small child who had a horrible childhood. God got me through it. As I became an adult I learned my religious leaders were frauds. I embraced atheism and didn't really think much about it.

    If you're an atheist, you have to reject God. Rachael is adamant about that... and she's right. Trying to have it both ways... it muddies an issue that requires clarity of thought.

    No person on Earth perfectly fits in either the conservative ideology or the liberal ideology. I support a woman's right to have an abortion. I support gun owner's rights as well. Something to offend everybody!

    Would I be alive today if not for God? I can't say. It's one reason I have a bit more compassion for the "flock" than some people here. I also probably would not be alive if my family had not received social welfare. So how can social welfare be bad? It isn't. As far as I'm concerned, cutting social programs is like drilling holes in a lifeboat. I wish more of my conservative friends could see that.

    Sorry, I'm digressing again, and saying something that will probably start another argument. Is it any wonder I lurked for so long?


    Thank you for helping me find clarity in my beliefs. The hard-asses get a lot of pushback, but tough opinions are usually the only ones worth a damn. Don't believe in anything unless it makes sense to you.

    @Paul Duffield

    Paul, you could pour hot soup in my lap and not hurt my feelings. FREAKANGELS has helped me through my recent period of unemployment (I am again gainfully employed.) I owe you a debt that providing feedback is the least I can do.

    Let me set the record straight: I respect and admire atheists. I'm furious with myself that I wrote words that suggested otherwise in a public place. What if someone took my words and showed them to someone impressionable and tried to silence them? To me atheists are the only people in the room with the courage to stand up and brave the lakes of fire. We need more people like them, not less. Your point about my arguments being ill-conceived are well-made.

    I am also intrigued by your statements regarding materialism. Something about it appeals to the greedy capitalist in me!


    Yes, I know I need to explain this but words are only going to go so far, so bear with me.

    I talk to God, but not in a religious way. I need to define "religious." A devout person puts all of themselves in subservience to their faith. That means if I disagree with scripture; the scripture's right, I'm not. Pluck your eye out if it offends thee. 10% of your income to the church. Well, you know what? That's not me. That's why I don't consider myself religious. But I do talk to God, and I can't explain it. It's more of a dialogue than a prayer, honestly. He doesn't "talk" back, and I don't expect Him to. I try to seek truth in the universe, and nothing in the universe is more interesting than people.

    Why did I bring this personal stuff into a philosphical discussion? Like Paul said, it was foolish, and very offensive. Never do anything in anger. If anything is "the Devil" it's THAT!

    When I read scripture, I recognize that it IS scripture. Some people like to reject it as "just a story." That's fine. It annoys the hell out of me but I'm tired of arguing. When I started recognizing the differences between texts that are designed to control people and scripts that are designed to entertain them light bulbs went off! Maybe that just makes me less sophisticated. If I talk to God I've got to be willing to be called less sophisticated! When I read scripture, I think, "why was this written? What are they trying to accomplish?" I almost never completely agree with anything anymore. And I'm not hung up on sin or guilt.

    Warren doesn't write scripts that are designed to control people. Which is fortunate for us because I think he'd be horribly good at it! He writes scripts that are designed to MAKE YOU THINK, which is probably closer to the opposite of a religious text.

    Now that I've "outed" myself as a Religious Conservative I'm aware there are probably some Liberal posters out there reading this looking for a fight. Even if you may think I started the fight! Not here, please. Go knock my comments in the FREAKANGELS main lobby if you want. You will find them well-written.
  2.  (8121.287)
    I only believe in god because I cannot wrap my mind around the idea of infinite time and space. I do agree with some who have posted that religion in general has been very harmful to society, but have we considered what might have happened without religion. Maybe there wouldn't have been the dark ages and science would be way more advanced than it is now, but then again maybe AI would be taking over the world. One of my favorite religious thoughts is a Taoist belief. It's something like, defining the Tao(god) is giving it limitations. Because the Tao(god, life, the universe, etc.) is limitless any attempts to explain it are inherently wrong.
  3.  (8121.288)
    Maybe there wouldn't have been the dark ages and science would be way more advanced than it is now, but then again maybe AI would be taking over the world.

    So let's forgot about all the horrors that religion has caused because of some indefinable horror that science MAY cause?

    Yeah, no thanks....
    • CommentAuthorlooneynerd
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2010
    Well, saying religion caused the dark ages is like saying physicists caused the cold war...

    The dark ages were caused by the collapse of the western roman empire. Imagine if the governments of G20 suddenly collapsed. We'd be pretty fucked for quite some time. Did the Catholic church extend the recovery time from the collapse? Well, possibly. But then the same thing could be said about all those Barbarians, and then knights, riding around attempting to gain power and flat-out murdering everything and, more importantly in a recovery context, burning down most of the old roman libraries and learning institutions.

    Religious institutions did a lot to preserve the old knowledge, as well. In the East (the Islamic Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire, especially), all the old knowledge of the Greeks and Romans was preserved, largely by religious scholars of one kind or another. In fact, headed by monastic learning, development in the Byzantine Empire continued at around the same rate as it had during the last years of the Unified Roman Empire.

    With religion serving to unify, it also helped sustain various world cultures of the time. In the west and in the caliphate, you had one religion, led by a supreme leader (The Pope and the Caliph, respectively). Despite both being made up of numerous nations and kingdoms that spent a good deal of time fighting one another (For example, England and France in the West, Syria and Egypt in the Caliphate) religion gave these people a reason to stick together. It probably did well to limit the violence caused by all sides, at least to some extent, And when faced with invasion, it allowed these cultures to survive. Western Europe, unified by Catholicism, was able to resist the advance of invaders in Spain and from the Ottomans. Middle-eastern, namely Arab, culture was able to survive because of Islam being so effective at absorbing the mongols and being so resilient in times of invasion. The Jews are an absolutely prime example, being able to preserve their language and culture through thousands of years of invasion, oppression, forced migration.

    If you're an atheist because of philosophical and theological concerns, that's fine. If you're being an atheist because "religion is evil", well that's making a sweeping generalization and just poor form in any decision making process. And if you're doing it because "it caused the dark ages," well, you're just demonstrating a poor understanding of history.
  4.  (8121.290)
    I am against most forms of organized religion, because I do feel that it is evil. More correctly, that it is not used for its intended purpose.

    I am completely not a religious person; I am a spiritual one. I believe in my heart, that I have a connection with my higher power, and I do not need a name for it. I don't talk to it, I'm just a part of it, along with everything around me.

    I have this theory, that our Higher Power is perfect. And we, as creations, are not. And the Message, as it were, got interpreted through our little mokey brains, and we totally got it wrong. This is not to say, that I got it right. I just found what works for me. Simply put, I go by the 'do no harm' doctrine, and I'm not the first to come up with that, or any other part of my belief system either.

    I think, and it feels right to me, that I live a good life, and do right to others as best I can, and when I meet my creator, I can look him in the eyestalks or glowing purple fog or what have you, and say that I lived and died as a good man.

    Anyone claiming to know what will actually happen when we die is full of it. Anyone telling you how (or what) to worship is selling you something. The pope is just a guy with a funny hat who used to be in the Hitler Youth. I found what worked for me, and I hope others find what works for them. I only hope that people stop trying to force their beliefs on others, stop trying to impose religious laws on the masses through the government, live and let live, judge not lest ye be judged.

    Somewhat related: I asked a co-worker who is Christian and adamantly against gay-marriage the other day how it felt to be a bigot. He said it wasn't bigotry; it was a moral choice. I said, if you had the same beliefs about someone by race, it'd be racism. I said, if God let's people make these choices for themselves, why can't you? He couldn't answer me. I find that funny.
  5.  (8121.291)
    Part of me wants to dive in and argue the history here, but the sane and rational part of my mind keeps tapping me on the shoulder and muttering that I have more important things to be doing today.

    Maybe tomorrow....
  6.  (8121.292)
    Religions aren't the root of all evil, but evil has many uses for them. From inquisition, to homophobia, to women stoning to suicide mass murders doing which adepts of a certain cult hope to have 72 virgins to rape in the afterlife. I think "holy" books should be desecrated and treated only as literary and mythology works. Human spiritualiti does not need them, nor does moral depend on words written two thousand years ago in times and social milieu completely different from ours. There may be a God, but surely it isn't the sociopatic mass murderer depicted in the Bible and Quran.