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Do you believe in God

 
High Plains Drifter
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Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:

I read a discussion recently pointing out that God can't be omniscient and Himself have free will. See, if He knows everything that will ever happen, then He knows in advance every choice He ever makes, and its outcome, and therefore can't be said to have free will in any meaningful sense. If, on the other hand, He indeed does have free will, then He doesn't know how the history of the Universe will unfold, as it's no longer a closed system, and is subject to unpredictable influence via His actions.


Yeah, God's just that easy to figure.
I spent three weeks in telemarketing back in 1984, trying to sell tickets to a yearly charity benefit sponsored by the county sheriff's office. (In case you're wondering, no one from the sheriff's office actually mans a phone for those drives.) We got minimum wage, and on some nights could earn up to 5 extra dollars if we could sell 20 tickets (in 2-1/2 hours of phone calling, no mean feat).
I sat next to a guy with a bushy, graying beard who always wore a Hawaiian print shirt and sat back in his chair looking like a blue heron digesting a big fish.
In a dull moment, someone on the floor asked if anyone had a college education. Possibly I mentioned I was starting the next year, but I don't really recall. In any case, this guy looked at me dead straight with that gaze and said, "I went to college. It was a snap! A breeze." Uhhhhh huh.
I'm reading this discussion of what God can possibly be like, but I'm thinking that guy must be the one who thought it up.
[ May 03, 2004: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]
 
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Tom: Yes, God could make you break dance on top of the fridge but then what of free will? You are asking the wrong question... the right question is, "Why do I make it so hard for God to convince me that He exists?"
Do we consider it established that there is no such thing (not is there any need for it) as a proof of God's existence? Do we consider it established that the existence of God is a matter of faith? If the answers are yes, there is another question: why of all things I can believe in, I should choose to believe in God?
 
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Michael, does your form of Christianity require that God have free will?
 
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EFH: I read a discussion recently pointing out that God can't be omniscient and Himself have free will. See, if He knows everything that will ever happen, then He knows in advance every choice He ever makes, and its outcome, and therefore can't be said to have free will in any meaningful sense. If, on the other hand, He indeed does have free will, then He doesn't know how the history of the Universe will unfold, as it's no longer a closed system, and is subject to unpredictable influence via His actions.
This apparent contradiction can be resolved if you think of God not as an entity within the closed system, but the system itself. Is the system omniscient and omnipotent? Indeed -- as it consists of all its parts and governs them, and there is nothing beyond and above the system. Does it have a free will? Yes -- among many choices, the system chose a set of specific rules (which may change over time). The ever increasing entropy is one of the most notable static rules, while the probabilistic qualities provide the dynamic, seemingly ever changing character. One might still question if the system has a free will if it knows the outcome of the choices it makes, to which I have two things to offer. First, the awareness is a human-like quality which may be completely foreign to the system, so it doesn't stop to think and question itself about its human-thought contradictions -- they simply do not exist from its point of view. And second, even if the system is "aware" of the outcome of its choices, it still makes the choices, unrestrained by higher authority (there is none), alternative explanations (there is only one), or the differences on the micro- and the macro-scales (there is a system's theory of everything).
That still leaves another question unanswered -- "Who created the system?". And while I am in the enlightened state, I'll share a little known secret: the system as omniscient and omnipotent as everything can be as huge as the known Universe, and as small as nothing. It didn't make it a little bit less omnipotent when the system was nothing. Quite to the contrary -- it swelled out of what we call "nothing" by the sheer power of its own will.
[ May 03, 2004: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
 
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Originally posted by Michael Yuan:

But even if that is the case, why did Jesus go around to perform miracles and try to convince people of his day?


Because the miracles are intended more for those who believe in or is searching for God. It is intended to increase their faith.
If you ultimately rejected God, no amount of miracle can convince you that God really exists.
 
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Originally posted by Gregg Bolinger:
I don't believe in ghosts because God says they don't exist. I do however believe in Angels and Demons. I have personally seen both (long story). Some people might see 1 or the other and think that they are ghosts because they don't know any better. Some poeople just see things that aren't there.


Hi Gregg,
Could you provide me the scripture that says so? I'm not trying to let you prove, but I do want to keep notes on it and share with others as well...
If you believe in Demons, aren't they ghosts? Could you explain how you differentiate between Demons and Ghosts? Thanks a lot...
 
Warren Dew
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
This apparent contradiction can be resolved if you think of God not as an entity within the closed system, but the system itself. Is the system omniscient and omnipotent? Indeed -- as it consists of all its parts and governs them, and there is nothing beyond and above the system. Does it have a free will? Yes -- among many choices, the system chose a set of specific rules (which may change over time). The ever increasing entropy is one of the most notable static rules, while the probabilistic qualities provide the dynamic, seemingly ever changing character.


I don't see the free will here. If the system is closed, it doesn't get to 'choose' the rules by which it operates, as those rules are part of the constraints of the system.
And a tangent, but the ever increasing entropy is in fact a probabilistic quality....
Back to the 'free will' - why does God need free will? Humans need free will if we are going to bear responsibility for our actions, but God is perfect - his choices are 'good' (or in the case of the Universe as God, simply 'correct') by definition. And he doesn't need judgement from us as to whether he acted responsibly or irresponsibly.
 
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Originally posted by Ko Ko Naing:

Hi Gregg,
Could you provide me the scripture that says so? I'm not trying to let you prove, but I do want to keep notes on it and share with others as well...
If you believe in Demons, aren't they ghosts? Could you explain how you differentiate between Demons and Ghosts? Thanks a lot...


I will try and find the scripture(s) on this. Demons aren't ghosts in the sense that typically ghosts are considered to be the spirits of the dead. Demons aren't dead people that went to hell. Demons are angels that chose to follow Lucifer when he challenged God and were also damned to eternity in Hell along with Lucifer.
Angels aren't people that have died and gone to heaven. Angels were created as angels by God. I will also look up the scripture on this.
 
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Umm... I don't think that stuff is in Scripture at all. I think it's one of those nice little additions they teach you in Sunday School.
It might be in the Apocrypha. [mh]
[ May 04, 2004: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
 
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Angels and demons
 
Marilyn de Queiroz
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I believe that man has free will to choose whether to believe in God or not, however a man's belief does not define whether or not God exists.
 
Gregg Bolinger
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Originally posted by Ko Ko Naing:

Hi Gregg,
Could you provide me the scripture that says so? I'm not trying to let you prove, but I do want to keep notes on it and share with others as well...
If you believe in Demons, aren't they ghosts? Could you explain how you differentiate between Demons and Ghosts? Thanks a lot...


Preliminary research here. More to come:
First we clear up the "people die and turn into Angels" thing. Genesis chapter 2:1 (King James Version) speaks of the 'hosts" of heaven being created. Also you can read Revelation 7:9-14 where it talks about angels and men neing 2 completely different beings.
This also clears this up about demons. Since the "hosts" of heaven were created before man and also before Lucifer was casts from heaven, then all the demons must have existed as well.
The bible says that Saten sends fallen angels (demons) to earth to deceive us into believing they are the spirits of dead people (ghosts) and often times these are people we know.
1Timothy 4:1 states The Spirit (The Holy Spirit) clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
In the last days some will give heed to seducing spirits.
Now, there is a famous "Ghost Story" in the Bible. 1 Samual 28:7-12. I'll let you read it. Saul uses a "medium", a woman to help conjure Samual. Basically, Saul, in disguise, asks this woman to call Samual, who is dead for whatever reason. God had forbid any conjuring of "spirits". Whatever the case, the Bible doesn't explain what the woman conjured; be it Samual or a demon disguised as Samual. So for the skeptics, there's a little gun powder for you.
 
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by Warren Dew:
Michael, does your form of Christianity require that God have free will?



I make no more demands of God than God makes of me.
 
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

Do we consider it established that there is no such thing (not is there any need for it) as a proof of God's existence? Do we consider it established that the existence of God is a matter of faith? If the answers are yes, there is another question: why of all things I can believe in, I should choose to believe in God?


The existence of God is not a matter of faith. The acceptance of God is.
 
Ko Ko Naing
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Originally posted by Marilyn de Queiroz:
Angels and demons


Interesting link about Angels and Demons.... Thanks, Marilyn...
 
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Originally posted by Marilyn de Queiroz:
I believe that man has free will to choose whether to believe in God or not, however a man's belief does not define whether or not God exists.


I think it does... As gods only exist when they're believed in there would be no god if noone believed in him/her/it.
Ergo, any god that does exist exists only in the beliefstructure of the relevant religions and not outside that structure and thus does not exist for me who doesn't adhere to that religion.
As a result, for me (who is not religious) no gods exist at all (and the fact that I've not been stricken by lightning for being an infidel which is the traditional punishment for writing such words as supposedly executed by the gods proves my point).

I make no more demands of God than God makes of me.


So you demand complete and utter faith in your own existence without any proof at all of said existence?
 
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One of the most interesting conversations you can listen to is an atheist and a theist arguing:
Theist: Everything must be made by something, and as the universe must be made by something, therefore God exists.
Atheist: Who made God then?
Theist: He made Himself.
Atheist: But you just said that everything must be made by something!
Theist: Ah! But God has the powers to make himself - he's omnipotent you know!
Atheist: Right, so the universe making itself is not possible, but a god making itself is?
Usually about this point things start to get thrown.
Personally, as much as I enjoy debating these things, there's no way in which we can ever have an answer - how can we possibly think that our puny brains can understand the universe and how it started? Its HUGE!
Anyway, for the sake of debating, there's a couple of things about the Christian viewpoint that I dont really understand... God is often described as being all-good, but what about the following? :
* If he is omnipotent then theoretically he could have made a universe where evil is impossible, but we clearly don't live in such a place. How can he be said to be all-good then? Or is he not omnipotent?
* Imagine a teacher in charge of a class that says to the children "I'm going out of the room - behave yourselves!" and then left them alone for a while. The children have been told to behave themselves, but we all know that eventually one of the children will do something stupid and hurt one of the other children. The teacher should take responsibility for this - despite the fact that the teacher told the children to behave, he/she would know that one of them is likely to ignore that and hurt another one. In a similar way, should god not take some responsibility for man kind - the theory goes that we are told to behave, but some of us ignore it. If He knew that it was likely that some people will be bad (the theory goes that he designed us that way), then surely he has some responsibility - just leaving us to it and then complaining when we misbehave could be seen as irresponsible and naive.... not something that we'd associate with an all-knowing and all-good god. Why aren't his instructions more clear and more enforced?
* Finally, that old chestnut - free will. Some Christians have told me that God decides when we will die. What if someone, through their free-will, shoots me? Has God decided that? If yes, then either me or the gunman have lost free will to ensure it happens. If no, then where is the plan in that? Also on the free will subject, what about when God set Pharaoh's mind to be against Moses - where was the free will in that?
I don't mean to argue against God, its just that there are some areas of the argument for him that I don't yet understand..... any comments welcome.
 
John Smith
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If he is omnipotent then theoretically he could have made a universe where evil is impossible, but we clearly don't live in such a place. How can he be said to be all-good then? Or is he not omnipotent?
"All good" is meaningless in the absense of "bad" -- it's undefined. There are common themes and signs everywhere that omnipotence comes not from being "nice" and "polite", but from the contradictions and the opposite forces at work. In Karl Marx' dialectical materialism, there is a notion of the unity and the struggle of the opposites that provides the framework for how the world operates. In the Hindu religion, there is a creator of the Universe and the destroyer of the Universe, but neither is "good" or "bad". In the Eastern philosophies, there is Ying and Yang, and the goodness and the perfection is right in between, balancing between the two opposites. In science, there is matter and antimatter, the positive charge and the negative charge. When a photon knocks out an electron from its orbit, the electron would likely say "Why me, Satan?" -- but there is no evil in the photoelectric effect. In the US government, there is a legislative branch which is evil from the executive branch point of view, but without the former, the latter will execute evrything is sight, as it is designed to do.
In Christianity, there is also a clue, -- God and Satan work against each other, but there would not be one without the other. God would collapse under the weight of its infinite goodness if it was not for Satan to balance him. If there is something to worship, it would be the totality of this magnificent pair. And given their universality, it's not unlikely that they are both the same thing.
What does it mean for us humans? Love your enemy, -- he is the reason you are here. But don't give your left cheek when he slaps you on the right cheek, -- execute him with the prejudice, clarity and determination. As my friend Ecclesiastes put it,


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.


[ May 04, 2004: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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Originally posted by Michael Ernest:
The existence of God is not a matter of faith.


A matter of what it is then?
 
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:

So you demand complete and utter faith in your own existence without any proof at all of said existence?


I make no such demands. Neither does God, so far as I can tell.
 
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by Joe King:
One of the most interesting conversations you can listen to is an atheist and a theist arguing:
Theist: Everything must be made by something, and as the universe must be made by something, therefore God exists.
Atheist: Who made God then?
Theist: He made Himself.
Atheist: But you just said that everything must be made by something!
Theist: Ah! But God has the powers to make himself - he's omnipotent you know!
Atheist: Right, so the universe making itself is not possible, but a god making itself is?


I used to have this argument all the time, only about file systems:
Teacher: Every directory is a file, and every file sits in a directory; finally, we need a root directory to contain it all.
Student: What directory contains the root directory then?
Teacher: The root directory. It contains itself.
Student: But you just said every file must be contained by some directory, and every directory is a file!
Teacher: Ah, but the root directory has the power to contain itself! It's all-containing, you know.
Student: Right, so every file must be contained by another kind of file, but a root directory can contain a file that is itself?
 
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Michael, I think your analogy misses the point: The focus of the godless crowd seems to be that the statement
"The universe spontaneously self-generated"
is more believable than
"The universe spontaneously self-generated, and is conscious.".
It's one them there Occam's Razor sorta thingos.
M
[ May 04, 2004: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
 
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
A matter of what it is then?

I think when Michael says that the existence of God is not a matter of faith that God either exists or does not exist and your faith has nothing to do with that.
 
Warren Dew
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Theist: Everything must be made by something, and as the universe must be made by something, therefore God exists.
Atheist: Who made God then?
Theist: He made Himself.
Atheist: But you just said that everything must be made by something!
Theist: Ah! But God has the powers to make himself - he's omnipotent you know!
Atheist: Right, so the universe making itself is not possible, but a god making itself is?

This atheist is being too picky. "Everything must be made by something" does not preclude something being made by itself. If the first statement is, "everything must be made by something else", then the conversation makes more sense.
Here's an atheist's take on some of your other questions
* If he is omnipotent then theoretically he could have made a universe where evil is impossible, but we clearly don't live in such a place. How can he be said to be all-good then? Or is he not omnipotent?
Philosophically, if you have no ability to be evil, you can get little credit for choosing to be nice. Perhaps God felt that it was a more noble endeavor to create beings who could choose, and thus who could get credit for choosing wisely.
* Imagine a teacher in charge of a class that says to the children "I'm going out of the room - behave yourselves!" and then left them alone for a while. The children have been told to behave themselves, but we all know that eventually one of the children will do something stupid and hurt one of the other children. The teacher should take responsibility for this - despite the fact that the teacher told the children to behave, he/she would know that one of them is likely to ignore that and hurt another one. In a similar way, should god not take some responsibility for man kind - the theory goes that we are told to behave, but some of us ignore it. If He knew that it was likely that some people will be bad (the theory goes that he designed us that way), then surely he has some responsibility - just leaving us to it and then complaining when we misbehave could be seen as irresponsible and naive.... not something that we'd associate with an all-knowing and all-good god. Why aren't his instructions more clear and more enforced?
Again, maybe He wants us to be able to develop enough morality and ethics ourselves to be able to choose wisely without enforcement.
* Finally, that old chestnut - free will. Some Christians have told me that God decides when we will die. What if someone, through their free-will, shoots me? Has God decided that? If yes, then either me or the gunman have lost free will to ensure it happens. If no, then where is the plan in that? Also on the free will subject, what about when God set Pharaoh's mind to be against Moses - where was the free will in that?
The laws of physics are also deterministic (yes, even quantum mechanics, despite popular misunderstanding). Does that eliminate free will? In my opinion, no; free will is an aspect of consciousness, which is not presently explained by physics; one is not conscious of the deterministic behavior of the universe, and that's what gives rise to free will.
 
Thomas Paul
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If he is omnipotent then theoretically he could have made a universe where evil is impossible, but we clearly don't live in such a place. How can he be said to be all-good then? Or is he not omnipotent?
God gave us free will. Without it we would be nothing but mindless automatons. Having free will means we are free to choose evil.
 
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
There is some observable quantitative disparity between believers and skeptics...
Brother Gregg, in case you feel a little like under attack, let me say that we love you.
Your brother Map




Map I fell for you and fell hard. If I were a "brother" then we might develop some unbrotherly love since no brotherly ones had made me laugh like that.
 
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
Michael, I think your analogy misses the point: The focus of the godless crowd seems to be that the statement
"The universe spontaneously self-generated"
is more believable than
"The universe spontaneously self-generated, and is conscious.".
It's one them there Occam's Razor sorta thingos.


To answer that, I have to separate the atheistic crowd from the rational crowd. Let those who fall in both camps protest as they may.
I find the atheistic not skeptical, but contrary. The rejection of a presence of a God is postulated, and therefore unarguable, in the same way that God's presence might be unarguable to a theist. An atheist is not interested in evidence, which by definition must be illusory. Atheism is not an argument; it is a belief. There is nothing to struggle with, other than with one's own doubts.
The rational crowd is and should be the skeptical sort. For this group, there is compelling physical evidence to support the theory of evolution. There is nothing to support spontaneous creation by a higher being. A rational, inquiring mind has to look at the things that lay about and evince, however artificially at times, a theory that links these elements into a meaningful whole. At what age do we place, using carbon-dating, a fossilized dinosaur bone? With what technique do we attempt to verify, say, the year in which Adam was born? Which theory holds more promise? And there you have it.
 
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ME: To answer that, I have to separate the atheistic crowd from the rational crowd.
I believe the term you are looking for is "agnostics".
 
Warren Dew
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Maybe he's just testing how far Max will go in editing mildly objectionable generalizations.
 
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Ellen: Map I fell for you and fell hard. If I were a "brother" then we might develop some unbrotherly love since no brotherly ones had made me laugh like that.
Ellen, what the heck, let's develop unbrotherly love!
 
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Ellen: Map I fell for you and fell hard. If I were a "brother" then we might develop some unbrotherly love since no brotherly ones had made me laugh like that.
Ellen, what the heck, let's develop unbrotherly love!


um, can I watch?
M
 
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Michael Ernest:

To answer that, I have to separate the atheistic crowd from the rational crowd. Let those who fall in both camps protest as they may.
I find the atheistic not skeptical, but contrary.


Well, that depends on the atheist in question. I'm aware of some who feel that.
1. A theory that is 'more complex' to describe a phenomenon is to be rejected in favor of one that is 'less complex'.
2. Since the 'more complex' theory has been rejected( see 1), then it should, in fact, be treated as an untruth.
Examples might be the existence of extra terrestrial life, innocent until proven guilty, etc.
mind you, I'm not advocating an atheistic position: I'm just trying to come to grips with it.

all best,
M
 
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Max: um, can I watch?
Habibi, this is your official duty!
 
Joe King
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

God gave us free will. Without it we would be nothing but mindless automatons. Having free will means we are free to choose evil.


What about things like diseases, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc etc. These are things that can kill and cause suffering to millions. Going by the argument that God is omnipotent and plans everything, then he must not only know that a particular disaster is about to happen, but have decided to make it happen. That is not good by any stretch of the imagination.
Personally I don't believe in free will - I think that every aspect of our consciousness is derived from the structure of our body - the atoms and energy that makes up our brains follow some patterns that determine our thoughts. If you could "pause" the universe, make an exact copy of it, and then run them in parallel, the same thing would happen in both - we would all make the same decisions in both. In a sense, every moment is determined by the moment before, therefore the original configuration of the universe when it came into being (by Big Bang or whatever) has determined everything that happens since then. This still leaves two rather worrying questions:
* What caused the Big Bang?
* What about morality?
Personally I don't think that it was a god of some sort that made the Big Bang, but I also think that its pretty much impossible to prove it either way. The problem of determinism and morality is a bit more complicated, and one that I'm still thinking about....
 
Joe King
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Whilst reading this debate, I was wondering about how people "choose" their religion. Obviously no-one is born with a particular religion, but at some point in our lives we consider the various issues and most of us come to a belief of some sort (I count atheism and agnosticism in this). By why does person X choose religion Y?
Whenever I have asked religious friends about this, they have generally had said that they thought about the issue, studied various religious view points, and come to the realisation that religion Y is obviously the true one. Sometimes they give fairly vague reasons "this one felt right", and sometimes they gave a more concrete reason "out of all of them, religion Y is the only one in which... [reason]". All of these people have been fairly intelligent people, who have looked at the issues and made their decision.
Now throughout the world there are many religions. A certain percentage are Christian, another percentage Muslim etc. The thing is that these percentages are not distributed evenly - in some parts of the world most people are Christian and in some other parts of the world most people are Muslim, and so on. Ignoring those countries where people do not have a free choice of religion, then if everyone looked at the issues logically to determine which religion to choose, then we'd expect the distributions to be fairly even ie the world wide percentages roughly matching the percentages in a given country. Despite this, throughout all the countries in which people can freely choose their religion, the vast majority of people have chosen the prevalent religion in that country, with most people having the same religion as their parents.
What this seems to imply is that no matter what reason people think that they had for choosing a religion, it seems as if there is some other factor effecting the decision - an unconscious social/family factor that causes people to be more likely to pick the same religion as their society/family.
If we take person X, the chances are that they would be a Muslim if bought up in a Muslim society/family, a Christian in a Christian society/family etc. The same person, with the same level of education and access to information would be likely to have made a radically different decision, based upon his family/society, despite thinking that it was down to a personal and logical reason. Now obviously this doesn't apply in all cases, but it does seem to be the overall trend.
 
Jeroen Wenting
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Most people never consciously CHOOSE a religion to belong to, they just never get given the chance.
From birth they're exposed to one religion and one religion only, and are told constantly that all other religions are heretical and that following any of them is worse than not following any religion at all and THAT will get you thrown in hell which is a place of eternal torture.
Most people under such constant indoctrination will just join whatever religion it is that the indoctrination is by which happens to be the one of their parents or custodians.
Many religions also have the practice of children being baptised at an early age (sometimes as young as a few days old). The only way out is to get yourself excommunicated for crimes against the church usually (herecy is a good example).
I was lucky enough to have parents who had both been excommunicated out of their respective churches for wanting to marry a heretic and thus being exposed to no religion at all until I was able to make an informed choice (which was to not join any).
I'm no atheist. Atheists have a religious belief in the non-existence of god. I don't believe in either the existence OR the non-existence of god, but keep an open mind.
If there's a god (or more than one, I don't mind) (s)he/they can come forward and provide proof of their existence and arguments why I should follow him/her/them. If those arguments have merit [edited-MH] I'll gladly become a loyal follower of that god/goddess/pantheon.
Until now no god(des)(s) has/have come forward at all...
[ May 05, 2004: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
 
Joe King
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
Most people never consciously CHOOSE a religion to belong to, they just never get given the chance.


That's kind of what I meant. In some cases its a subconcious choice, but a choice all the same.


From birth they're exposed to one religion and one religion only, and are told constantly that all other religions are heretical and that following any of them is worse than not following any religion at all and THAT will get you thrown in hell which is a place of eternal torture.


I guess it depends a lot upon the parents and upon the schooling that a child has. In most UK state run schools there is a fair balance between the religions, but many private schools are heavily pro a single religion. Not good for integration of different cultures.


Many religions also have the practice of children being baptised at an early age (sometimes as young as a few days old).


Baptism is very wrong IMHO. Children should never feel that they are beign forced (or at least strongly pushed) into any religion.


If there's a god (or more than one, I don't mind) (s)he/they can come forward and provide proof of their existence and arguments why I should follow him/her/them. If those arguments have merit (beyond mere bullying which seems to be the typical style from reading ancient mythology as well as the bible) I'll gladly become a loyal follower of that god/goddess/pantheon.
Until now no god(des)(s) has/have come forward at all...


I kind of agree. I personally don't think that there is a god, but then I'm not excluding the chance that I may be wrong (there are very few facts that we can be 100% certain of, I can only think of one). If one makes it's self known to be then I'd be happy to say "Hi. I'll believe in you now, but there's a couple of things I'd like to have a chat about.....", but until that time I've got no reason to think that one exists.
 
Warren Dew
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Originally posted by Joe King:
What this seems to imply is that no matter what reason people think that they had for choosing a religion, it seems as if there is some other factor effecting the decision - an unconscious social/family factor that causes people to be more likely to pick the same religion as their society/family.


Yes. I once had an office mate that came around one day asking people what religions they were. He came to my office and I told him I was atheist. He said, 'finally! I was beginning to wonder if anyone else had actually thought about religion. How did you come to be atheist?'
I told him both my parents were atheist, and he was taken aback: 'You're just as bad as the rest of them - you just followed your parents' religion too!'
To be fair, my parents did give me opportunities to choose other religions - but I'm not sure a child is really capable of making such choices; I rejected some form of Christianity at an early age because I found services boring. On the other hand, I later rejected all forms of Christianity because of the Problem of Evil - the issue of how a 'just' god can allow so many people to suffer unjustly - which I think it the main reason for people leaving Christianity.
By the way (Jeroen and others) - I am atheist, as are most of my friends, and I'd appreciate your not mischaracterizing us the way you do. We believe in the nonexistence of God, and in particular an anthropomorphic God, for the same reason we believe in the Theory of Relativity - the bulk of the evidence available to us points to it (or away from it, in the case of God). I know no atheists who disbelieve in God as a matter of faith, and I think that picture is merely a straw man to permit people to beat up on atheists.
 
Jeroen Wenting
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You state yourself that you tell people your religion is atheism.
That classifies atheism in your mind as a religion, therefore a belief system.
As atheism is founded on the belief in the non-existence of god(s), I rest my case
I'm not attacking atheists (though I know many other religions do so strongly, but then religions typically attack other religions strongly).
I respect all religions that respect the fact that I'm not part of them and don't want to be.
Atheism is more respectfull of that point of view than most religions are simply because most religions hold strongly that all should be made members dead or alive.
 
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I already quoted this, but one more time...
"Bertrand Russell tells a story that helps me interpret the point Gandhi is making. When Russell was imprisoned in WWI for his pacifist activities, the jailer asked him his religious belief, and Russell replied that he was an agnostic. The jailer replied that ha had never heard of that religion but that although people have many different religions, they all worship the same God. Russell did not correct the jailer, for had thought there was a wisdom in what had been said. For we can find a common ideal in both the religious believer and the agnostic. They both tell us that belief in God is and should be primarily belief in one's own conscience, that is, belief in living according to the truth."
http://falcon.jmu.edu/~omearawm/ph101gandhi.html
 
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