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questioning your faith

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by boann, Jan 12, 2003.

  1. Zcylen

    Zcylen Moonlight Rambler

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    its ok, Lt, we heard you, you dont have to repeat it twice ;)
     
  2. Lt. 'Killer' M.

    Lt. 'Killer' M. Deity

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    Zyclen: tell that to the server - maybe it will convert ;)
     
  3. Mr Spice

    Mr Spice Emperor

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    Cool idea, a sentinent and religious internet server. Would be quite fun to watch it clean up all the religious threads... And hear all the "don't force your faith on me"-cries from all us posters... :lol: Maybe it would get rid of all the creation vs evolution threads, that would be a good thing. :D
     
  4. anarres

    anarres anarchist revolutionary

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    hehe. There's nothing like an open mind :)

    Edit: Removed pointless quote
     
  5. Mojotronica

    Mojotronica Expect Irony.

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    I have always been fairly irreligious, and therefore it would be hard to define my opinion as having "changed." My immediate family does not attend church. Mom did attend when I was very young, the Quaker (Society of Friends) church, but she stopped going. I very much admire the Quaker's progressive humanist democratic values. If I were to attend services again, I would strongly consider them.

    My closest friend growing up is Jewish, although he pretty much abandoned his faith in high school. His family is both very devout and very scientific.

    I have often heard that a major difference between the Jewish and Christian faiths is that the Jews believe that the Messiah will emerge only when the Earth is fit for Him. Christians believe that the Messiah will return when the Earth is nearly uninhabitable. I've met plenty of Fundamentalist Christians who are actively anti-environmentalist because they figure the sooner we experience devastation of Biblical proportions, the better. I think that's too easy -- sort of like God rewards us for being irresponsible. The Jewish way seems more difficult and better.

    Another my best friends growing up is from a Buddhist family, and he has become a Buddhist monk. I admire the inherent justice of Buddhism, and the simple wisdom of their philosophy.

    I have dated several women with strong religious convictions. My first girlfriend's family was fundamentalist Christian, and her mother taught me that Roe V Wade was a very controversial decision because it was a case of the Supreme Court imposing national legislation on state gov'ts. I support a woman's right to choose, but Roe V Wade is highly debatable. This was the first blow to unquestioning support of liberal/Democratic party platform issues.

    My second major girlfriend was a New Ager, and while I was dating her I really thought a lot about reincarnation as a means of ensuring justice for all. Your life sucks? Maybe the next one will be better. Just try to be a good person. Neat idea.

    My third major girlfriend was what I would call a "recovering fundamentalist Christian." Her family had gotten involved w/ a small, cultish spirit-filled Christian church and she was the most devoted to the faith. However it was very insular and xenophobic, and as it turned out it was more or less a means for a particularly prominent family in her small town to collect tithings to support the special educational needs of their children. They would cast out people they disagreed w/ based on personal antagonisms. They attempted to shield the town f/ outside influences. They advocated a "ditto-head" approach to politics and opinion. If one disagreed w/ them, they were punished.

    When I first met her she often had serious doubts about us, because she worried that dating someone who was not spirit-filled would carry her down the wrong path. I don't know if I led her the wrong way, but we were together for six years and are still friends today, and she's loosened up considerably in terms of her disdain for the secular.

    One thing she taught me was that to a fundamentalist Jesus provided people w/ a New Covenant. All the old rules of behavior demanded by the Old Testament were, while not exactly optional, are no longer strictly necessary. The sacrifice of animals, restrictions against pork, ritual circumcision -- these are not required of Christians (although I don't know any Jews who sacrifice animals either...) Any argument that something restricted in Leviticus, for example, is on shaky ground (to a Protestant Christian) because of the New Covenant.

    Another thing she taught me is that the word of the Bible is flawless and true no matter what the translation. To a fundy, the text of the Bible is absolutely essential and not subject to interpretation. Of course the very act of reading is a matter of interpretation. To this day, whenever I get into a biblical argument w/ a Fundamentalist I find myself quoting lots of scripture to back up my statements, and I quote lengthy passages rather than short snippets to avoid accusations of taking material out of context. I've found that I can support my anti-judgementalist, pro-science, pro-gay, pro-environment, pro-human rights contentions quite easily using scripture. It really is a Good Book.

    I also have a long-term friend who is Wiccan. I like her religion's break w/ patriarchy, but she often complains that it's too rooted in ritual and pecking order. The same problems that dogged my ex-girlfriend's spirit-filled fundy church loom large in the small Pagan communities. Petty rivalry, exclusion, people thinking they are better than others -- it's all there. Of course there are no doubt many excellent churches both in the Fundamentalist Christian community and the Wiccan community.

    This led me to think about the folly of pride. It's a deadly sin, often under the label "Vanity." But it's also held up as an ideal. How often do people encourage you to have pride in your country or company or success? All the time!

    Weird tangent -- this theme is also touched on in the ancient PC RPG Ultima 4 -- the city of Pride was destroyed because Pride is not a virtue, but rather a sin disguised as a virtue. It's opposite -- humility -- is the true virtue. There seems to be a subtle difference between justifiable, constructive pride and destructive ego-inflated pride. Anyway, I strive to be humble, although I don't always succeed, and I am sensitive to arguments or rationales that are seemingly based on prideful ego. With that in mind I try to discuss matters in ways that are compatible w/ the collective egos of my discussion groups.

    Non-judgementalism is an extension of humility. The root of judgementalism is pride, which is a sin.

    If I had to define my faith I would say that it is rooted in the golden rule -- do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is inclusive -- no one is left out because they are gay or whatever. There are many paths to heaven, not a single well-trod road that we have to find. There are no conflicts between science and religion. Science reveals the complexity of God's Universe, and the miracle of existence. I think that the Bible is fill of great parables and lessons, but it is not a scientific book. It is a cultural masterpiece.

    I am fearful of religious oppression, and of gov't involvement w/ religion because in the past gov'ts have been made tools of the church. Thus I feel that there should be a strict separation of church and state, and that religious practices should absolutely be protected. This includes Atheism, the opt-out choice. In fact I think that freedom of worship and separation of church and state are ideals that are supported by the New Testament. W/out the freedom to choose God, is faith really possible? In other words in Christianity were ever forced on individuals it would compromise God's will that we choose to believe.

    I would advocate a secular state that is very tolerant of all religions but maintains a strict separation of church and state. As few laws as possible reigning in human activity. A Libertarian ideal, but w/ Green polices to better maintain the environment.
     
  6. boann

    boann Tuatha princess

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    very interesting thoughts Mojo and a lot of what you wrote i agree with.
     
  7. bigfatron

    bigfatron Emperor

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    Maternal grandparents: Catholic
    Mother: Lapsed catholic
    Brothers (all older than me): 1 CofE, 1 Baptist, 1 lapsed CofE
    Paternal grandfather: Methodist lay preacher
    Father: Humanist (but died when I was 5)

    All in all a hotch-potch of Christianity with a bit of atheism/agnosticism thrown in.

    I can't ever remember believing - I went to an overtly Christian (again, CofE) school and was thoght pretty odd as I would get top marks in scripture whilst arguing that it was just a nice set of stories like the Greek myths (old testament) combined with a worthwhile and impressive philosophy (new testament) that had been hijacked by the Apostle Paul and the established church.

    I also had severe problems with the concept of exclusivity - 'the ONLY way to the Lord is by believing in Jesus'. Therefore all members of all other religions, however decent and worthy, are excluded forever. The idea of a heaven that admits the Borgias but excludes Ghandi is abhorrent to me.

    I know I get stuck in to religious debate - I have only two aims:
    - First, to encourage everyone, religious, agnostic or atheist, to THINK about what they believe, why they believe it and what their belief should lead them to.
    - Second, to encourage everyone to treat ANY group or person who TELLS them what to think with immense suspicion and scepticism - do not let ANYONE mess with your mind.

    I'm sure I'm hypocritical at times and often just plain wrong; hopefully if I avoid these two failings then I will not do too much damage to others when I am wrong.

    Good discussion BTW
     
  8. anarres

    anarres anarchist revolutionary

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    Two of my most important aims in life too :)

    It shocked me to see so many people have never questioned their beliefs, including atheists...
     
  9. MontyPythonRule

    MontyPythonRule Cardinal Biggles

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    Surely to become an atheist you must have at one point questioned your belief. That comes from my assumption that most people aren't born into atheism (or have atheism thrust upon them) but rather become athesism of their own free will (or any other kind of will).
     
  10. funxus

    funxus Orange Cycloptic Blob

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    Why wouldn't it be possible to raise your children in an atheistic way and really never expose them to the ideas of religion? I think most atheists have questioned their beliefs, I have, because I was exposed to the religious beliefs from age 6 - 9. My teacher was very religious and read parts of the bible to us, and a few times a year we went to visit a church. I didn't really understand what she was talking about until I got older, but I never questioned it and remember that I prayed at times.
    My parents never told me whether they believed in God or not, until I got older and understood the meaning of it, and I probably wouldn't have had my period of belief if I wasn't told about it at schhool.
    I think combining education with religion is a bad idea, until the children are old enough to take it objectively, and not accept it the same way as they accept that 1+1=2. If religion is a part of early education, it should include all major religions.
    What if my parents would've raised me saying that there is no God, and made sure I went to a school where religion was not a part of the education, then it probably would've been the same for me as a person who was raised catholic and never questioned his/her belief.
     
  11. MontyPythonRule

    MontyPythonRule Cardinal Biggles

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    Wouldn't you be a little curious as to why there were churches and other places of worship everywhere? Or would your parents make you close your eyes as you walked past?
     
  12. cromagnon

    cromagnon Emperor

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    I used to be moslem, but gave it up pretty much completely by age 9 or 10. It had to do a lot with the abuse of religion by authorites at first, and I was more agnostic at the time. When I grew older, I found that I really had no need for a god in my view of the world, so I gave that idea up as well.

    So yes boann, I did completely give up my faith (I was kinda scary-fanatic about Islam).

    My parents are 'moslem,' but they practice 0.005% of it. Yet they avidly insist that they are moslem. :rolleyes:

    @MPR: I love your sig! It had me laughing all morning. :lol:
     
  13. funxus

    funxus Orange Cycloptic Blob

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    I have no intention to raise my kids this way, so I haven't solved the practical parts... but I suppose children to religious people at some point wonder why there are so many people who don't attend church, and many of them don't give up their believes because of that.:)
     
  14. jpowers

    jpowers Emperor

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    When I raise my kids, I will tell them what those people in those churches are doing, what they believe in, and, to the best of my ability, why they believe that all the people in other churches will burn in hell for eternity.
     
  15. anarres

    anarres anarchist revolutionary

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    I think you misunderstood my point. I was talking of people (some in this thread) that had not questioned their beliefs growing up, or ever. This includes atheists. I was personally brought up an atheist, just because my parents were. They never said God didn't exist, and I went to quite a religous school. I think it would be immature to say at age 6 I 'decided' to be atheist. It was kind of inevitable due to my parents' atheism.

    The same goes for catholics, muslims, etc, that are brought up with parents who whilst meaning well can not help but bring up their children in their own image.

    For this reason, even though I may have consiously decided at age 6 to be an atheist, I really don't think of what happened as much of a choice now. I am, of course, the product of my parents.

    I am now agnostic because my parents also instilled in to me the abillity to question my beliefs. This is much more important IMO than actually having any beliefs, as I can learn and grow.
     
  16. Vrylakas

    Vrylakas The Verbose Lord

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    I am a stout fence-sitter.

    Everyone throws rocks at us, but I figure I'll only know for sure when I die. Hopefully, that great moment of reckoning is a long way off for everyone.

    My parents are more Catholic than the Pope ("The True Church!" my father still thunders), and I was indeed raised as such. I was unfortunately a kid with millions of questions about everything, and after years of just getting rhetorical, pre-canned answers in return I began to suspect that adults didn't know much more than I did on the subject. All religions become a little rigid and dogmatic, but the Catholics definitely have some problems in the responsiveness category... Consequently in my teens I drifted into militant atheism - though I've always maintained a strong interest in religious architecture and artifacts. My parents thought I was still religious because I always bolted into a church if I saw one when travelling; little did they understand that I was admiring the art and architecture, no matter the denomination or religion. Mosques, temples/synagogues, etc. are all of equal interest to me. I also love religious music. An English journalist once summed it up for me well when he said that J.S. Bach's music is so beautiful it almost makes him believe in God again...

    In my early 20s (a wee while ago...) I discovered the American mythologist/folklorist Joseph Campbell, who opened up the world of religious mythology and symbolism for me, and as well Campbell's rejection of the traditional Western idea of a personal God who intervenes in people's everyday lives in favor of the East's colder, more distant Creator gods had a significant impact on my beliefs. I suppose nowadays I would be called something of an agnostic, though one who simultaneously maintains a fascination with religions and a deep distrust of them, especially clergy. In terms of Christianity, I look at religions as faulty vehicles that become too easily misled; sort of messengers that confuse their own importance with the original message. In all my readings I've seen a kernal of truth and hope in all religions, but equally have seen much institutionalism, dogmatism, and downright foolishness.

    On a side note, I have a pet peeve of sorts with missionaries. When the communist regimes fell in 1989-1990 in Eastern Europe, the region was flooded with Western missionaries representing all sorts of whacko religious cults and groups who felt they were going to bring The Truth to us godless, formerly communist heathens - never mind that we've all had our own religious traditions stretching back a millennium, or that for those who maintained their religion during the communist years did so at great risk to themselves, their careers and/or their families. In other words, what could someone who's lived comfortably in Alabama or Frankfurt have to teach someone who's had to fight for their religious beliefs with everything they have at risk? :mad: I had some loud and ugly confrontations with American Mormons, German Anabaptists, Dutch Reformists, English Methodists, and etc. I've turned down requests to help orient missionaries travelling to Eastern Europe because I refuse to help them in their ignorance. If they're going to learn something, then I help - but if their only intention is to preach, well, they'll get no help from me.

    Boann: You should always question your beliefs, whether in religion, in politics, whatever. That's how you and your beliefs can grow.
     
  17. Cloudyvortex

    Cloudyvortex Prince

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    My whole life is a crisis in faith. I want to be an atheist, but I haven't the gall. Besides, whenever I feal that I can decide right and wrong for myself, I become very evil, very quickly. And I'm not talking in the manner of Simon Darkshade, who I suspect is a good, if eccentric, individual in real life. God (or at least my belief in Him) is the only thing holding my chaotic mind together. If I ever anounce my conversion to atheism, run.
     
  18. anarres

    anarres anarchist revolutionary

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    Have more faith in yourself Cloudyvortex. You are stronger than you think. What if your faith announces a holy war? Do you have to follow because you are afraid of yourself?

    Do you want to get old and decide only then that you may have made a mistake? I don't know your age, but I suspect that you are not in the twilight years (like most of us here). You have many years ahead, why not try to see the world through your own eyes?
     
  19. meldor

    meldor Deity

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    I can not speak for all Christians, however I would urge any that tell you this to read the Bible. This is probably one of the biggest misquotes both in and outside of Chritianity.

    The only way into heaven is THROUGH Jesus Christ. You do not have to believe in him to make it. Those who die in Christ (believe in him) are automatically admitted into heaven. All others are judged by him according to the life they lead.

    In I Corinthians Jesus himself states that everyone has the law written our their hearts. We all know right from wrong. He farther says that those who are outside the faith will be judged by that law (the one written on their hearts). This is in response to a question to Jesus as to what happens to those who never a exposed to the word of God.

    In Revelations, it states that the first to be raised from the dead will be those that dead in the faith. They will be at the right hand of Christ when the rest are raised and judged by Christ.

    One small note: It does state that we are also responsible for the knowledge that we have, so the more you know about God and yet do not believe, the harder you will be judged.

    BTW, This is not to try and convince you, I just couldn't let these misconseptions continue to be passed around.
     
  20. boann

    boann Tuatha princess

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    Vrylakas


    "who felt they were going to bring The Truth to us godless, formerly communist heathens - never mind that we've all had our own religious traditions stretching back a millennium, or that for those who maintained their religion during the communist years did so at great risk to themselves, their careers and/or their families. In other words, what could someone who's lived comfortably in Alabama or Frankfurt have to teach someone who's had to fight for their religious beliefs with everything they have at risk? "

    yes exactly.... and where do they get off thinking that what they believe is the only way.... many religions do this though...not just christian... moslems and some others are just as firm in their stands.

    spirituallity is personal
    i think even christ taught that it was a private thing.....

    And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Matthew 6:5-6)
     

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