FAITH, RELIGION, AND YOU

Posts

kentona
Your mom is a hero
20844
author=Yellow Magic
in before "God can't be explained by logic anyway"
way too late for that!
Yellow Magic
Could I BE any more Chandler Bing from Friends (TM)?
3154
Whoopsydaisy
arcan
Having a signature is too mainstream. I'm not part of your system!
1866
True, if he doesn't interact with reality then he can't physically be defined, but a definition would still be out there and that wouldn't make him above logic. My real beef is with the vagueness of your answer. You haven't really defined what "outside of reality" really means.
kentona
Your mom is a hero
20844
Well, then we tread into personal belief territory. There is nothing outside of reality and gods are not part of it.

I would define reality something along the lines of the state of things as they actually exist. All these things can have a measurable affect on other things in reality.

So I guess, in the god hypothesis, god would be outside of this reality, because god has no measurable affect on reality. I haven't really dwelled on this, so that's about the best I can do.
arcan
Having a signature is too mainstream. I'm not part of your system!
1866
That's exactly my point. Understanding definitions of such things is the very basis of differing beliefs. If two people are debating about something and they use different definitions then disagreements will always occur. Most people won't go further to really define vague concepts such reality or god as energy or even just god. Even they don't really know those things mean to them so they use explanations like "I just know" when they can't come up with a real answer.

Btw, I totally agree with what you just said.
A certain famous atheist who recently passed away said that if he could change just one thing, it would be the popular notion that faith is some kind of virtue. And that is exactly how I feel. Faith is an anti-virtue, skepticism is the real virtue, and I reckon that the world at large will eventually recognize this as so.

Just not any time soon. Atheism is a luxury of the affluent. When you're living in a third world shithole, you find any excuse to cling to the belief there is a loving god who watches over you personally and an afterlife where everything will be all better. It's likely the reason religion got such a big foothold in the first place. The world has to become a better place politically and economically before religious faith will go away, at least the way I see things.
Just a little heads up, this is a little long.

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

A baby’s cry, muffled, lost amid the rubble seemed so impossible to the soldiers searching the tsunami-smashed village of Ishinomaki, that they dismissed it as a mistake. As they continued pulling bodies from the nearby homes, the cry came again. Realizing they weren’t hearing things, the soldiers worked desperately to dig through the piles of wood, slate and mud, frantically searching for the cry of the child they believed to be there. Now, imagine the scene as the last piece of debris is removed, and climbing out from the rubble, the soldier holds in his arms a four month old baby girl cold, wet and hungry, but otherwise, unharmed. Soon afterward she would be reunited with the family who thought she was gone forever.

This is one of the many stories that came out of the Japanese Tsunami of 2011. Unfortunately, most of them did not have the happy ending that this one had. The Japanese National Police Agency confirmed 15,845 deaths, 5,893 injured and 3,380 people missing as a result of this massive tragedy. In the Miyagi prefecture alone, over 2,000 bodies washed up on the shore, dead from drowning. Sadly, disasters like this aren’t isolated incidents. One low end estimate states that at least 540 million have died from diseases from 1914-2004. Add to that the wars that ravage mankind and we get a greater scope of the suffering facing mankind today. R. J. Rummel, professor at the University of Hawaii, estimates that from 1900 to 1987, various governments murdered 169,198,000 people during political purges, genocides, and indiscriminate acts of violence. And that death toll does not even include the tens of millions of people actually killed on the battlefield.

Because of this, many people are left wondering. Does God even care about us? And if so, why does he allow suffering?
Well, in order to answer these questions, God has provided us with his Word, the Bible. Let’s see what James 1:13 has to say

“When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.”

So if God does not try us with evil things, if he’s not the cause of suffering, why does he allow it? Well, for starters we need to understand that God definitely cares about us. Everyone knows what John 3:16 says, that “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” So the suffering we’re experiencing must be coming from some other source. 1 John 5:19 tells us that “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” This wicked one is none other than Satan the Devil, the one who Jesus called “ the ruler of the world” at John 14:30. What does the Bible say about the kind of ruler he’s been? John 8:44 tells us.

“YOU are from YOUR father the Devil, and YOU wish to do the desires of YOUR father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of ”

Satan is the reason behind the worlds suffering. Because of his lying, murderous attitude, the entire earth has been agitated by his rulership. So if God is not the cause of suffering, if Satan is it’s true cause, why has God allowed it to continue? Well, this is because of an issue raised back in the Garden of Eden. Let’s read Genesis 3:2-5 and see what this issue was.

“At this the woman said to the serpent: “Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. But as for of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘YOU must not eat from it, no, YOU must not touch it that YOU do not die.’” At this the serpent said to the woman: “YOU positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of YOUR eating from it YOUR eyes are bound to be opened and YOU are bound to be like God, KNOWING good and bad.”

It’s interesting to note that Satan never called God’s power into question, he knew better. We know that God is Almighty, that his power has no limit. Instead what did he say to Eve? He told her that God was a liar, that she would “Positively not die”. By saying this, Satan basically accused God of withholding good things from his subjects, that God is a bad ruler. He goes on to tell her that by disobeying, she would be better off without God’s rulership. And how did she respond? Verse 6 goes on to tell us.

“Consequently the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was something to be longed for to the eyes, yes, the tree was desirable to look upon.”

They gave in. By eating of the fruit Adam and Eve basically told God, “We don’t need you, we can decide for ourselves what is good and what is bad.” So how was God supposed to settle this issue? Some might say that he could have just destroyed them and started over. And while he had every right to, would that really prove anything? No. We already know that Satan didn’t question God’s power. By destroying them he would have proved he was all powerful, but the issue of whether he was a good ruler or not would not have been settled. Think about this:

A clever but rebellious student claims that the teacher’s way of solving a problem is wrong. Implying that the teacher is not capable, this rebel insists that he knows a much better way to solve the problem. Some students think that he is right, and they also become rebellious. What should the teacher do? If he throws the rebels out of the class, what will be the effect on the other students? Will they not believe that their fellow student and those who joined him are right? All the other students in the class might lose respect for the teacher, thinking that he is afraid of being proved wrong. But suppose that the teacher allows the rebel to show the class how he would solve the problem.

God did something similar to what the teacher does. We have to remember that even though Adam and Eve were the only two people on earth, there were millions of spirit creatures watching from heaven to see what was going to happen. So however God chose to handle that rebellion would have affected not only those angels, but eventually all intelligent creation. So God allowed Satan to show how he would rule mankind. He also has allowed humans to attempt to govern themselves.

Now think back to the illustration, the teacher knows that the rebel and the students that agree with him are wrong. But by giving the rebellious students a chance to prove their point, the entire class will learn how wrong they are and that the teacher really is the only one qualified to lead the class. Similarly, God knows that all right hearted humans and angels will benefit from seeing the failure of Satan and his rebellious followers. Like the prophet Jeremiah they will learn the vital truth found at Jeremiah 10:23.

“ I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step”

So now that we have identified the cause of human suffering and the reasons God allows it to happen, we still have a few more questions that need answering. First, why has God allowed suffering to go on for so long? And second, why does he not prevent bad things from happening?

Well, lets think back to the teacher in our illustration. First, he allowed the rebel student to present his case. Second, the teacher did not help the rebel to prove his case. So it is the same with God. God has not stopped anyone who chooses to side with Satan from trying to prove that they are right. In order to accomplish this, God has allowed mankind time to prove their case. In all of human history mankind has tried every form of government. And while they have been successful to a point in advancing scientific and other fields, none of these advancements have done anything to combat injustice, poverty, crime and war. In fact, these have only gotten worse as time has gone on. Humans have proven without a doubt, that they cannot rule themselves without failing.

An important point to not overlook too is that God has not helped Satan to rule this world. While we might wish that God would prevent the disgusting, horrible crimes we see, would he not essentially be supporting Satan’s cause? If God prevented these horrible things from happening, wouldn’t that make people think that they really can govern themselves, instead of listening to him? If he were to do that, he would be joining Satan in his original lie, and we know that cannot happen because as Hebrews 6:18 says “it is impossible for God to lie.”

So now that we realize why God has allowed suffering, we now need to ask, what will he do to end it? Well, after Adam and Eve sinned, God made a promise, that he would send a “seed” that would destroy the serpent, Satan, and his seed, all those who would side with him in rebellion against God. Who is this seed? Let’s read what 1 John 3:8 says regarding this.

“He who carries on sin originates with the Devil, because the Devil has been sinning from beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was made manifest, namely, to break up the works of the Devil.”

Jesus came to earth to break up the works of the Devil, namely sin and death. How was this done? Well, Jesus undid this work by giving His life as a ransom. In this way he provided a basis for the release of humankind from condemnation to sin and death and opened the way to everlasting life. Not only that, but while he was on earth, Jesus perfomed miracles of what he would do in the future. He healed the sick, raised the dead and controlled the natural elements. Yes, even the natural disasters that cause so much suffering today will be a thing of the past, if we chose to side with God.

Think back now to our opening illustration. This small four month old girl was crying out to her potential saviors, and even though it took some time for them to find and rescue her, because of her crying out, she was found. Similarly, God hears our cries for help today. The world around us is devastated, suffering from the disaster brought about by the rebellion in Eden. If we pray to God, and make an effort to be heard by him by bringing our lives in harmony with his will and choosing his rulership we too can be saved from suffering in all its forms.
I was once a Catholic, loong long ago. My dad is a practicing Catholic (and my mom was, once; she is Jewish now), so I went to a Catholic grammar school. I think it was when I was about 12-years old, when I stopped believing in Catholicism altogether (for a lot of reasons, some of them very personal). Of course, that depressed my dad (especially since I told him that I wouldn't be undergoing the rite of Confirmation), but he came to accept it eventually, and we moved on.

I sure learned a lot of fun things in Catholic school, though! I can remember at least three teachers and/or priests, that outright told classes that atheists were as bad as serial killers, and LGBTs were equal to rapists or child molesters. The nun-principal was also pretty hardline herself, so it's not really a surprise that some extraordinarily stupid crap was taught to us in school. It was part of why I started to feel anti-theist ("militant" atheist) when I was a teenager, because I realized just how much hate/fear I was being fed in my elementary school years.

Now though, I am pretty much in the "I don't really care" zone of thought. I guess you would call that agnostic? I personally cannot find the mental room to worry if the God from Christianity is more valid than Allah from Islam, if there is a cycle of reincarnation that depends on what you have done in life, if Odin and his pantheon even exist... I live and let live, and I also expect people from other religions to do the same. (i.e. don't try to convert or threaten me to your religion, don't tell me that certain people are destined for Hell, and for that matter don't tell me I will go to Hell because I don't follow what you do)

The vast majority of religious people that I know are not that bad way, though. Thank God.

I think that my RPG's story is kind of inspired by my experiences with religion. I can see religion as a potential force for good (as it was probably intended to be, since time immemorial), that we as a species should really use for that purpose. But unfortunately, a lot of the human race is twisted...and we can turn this potential good into just as bad of a potential evil.

Just like anything else we humans create, honestly. Religion isn't the only thing that we can twist!
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
15243
@tpasmall: That was a good read! I found it quite compelling.

from Versalia
Lots of Lovecraft stories feature non-Euclidian geometry - that is, a mathematical basis to reality that creates forms and shapes in dimensions the human mind is unfamiliar with and unable to grasp. Lots of his horror comes from not just the unimaginable but the literally unknowable and incomprehensible.

Interesting point, though you're referring to something in a work of fiction (not that it couldn't be argued all we're discussing is fiction anyway, HURR). If it's incomprehensible, there's not much point in talking about it.

from Versalia
On a more agnostic note, if there IS any kind of supreme being or creator etc, I FIRMLY believe the human mind is completely incapable of properly understanding or perceiving the truth around it. Any guess we could possibly make must be wrong.

I disagree. I don't think God is 'outside reality' or above logic, but like kentona said, that's getting into areas of personal belief. Which is what this topic is about! So...this has been an interesting discussion so far.
Despite
When the going gets tough, go fuck yourself.
1340
I worry more about how I'm gonna pay my bills rather if there is some gandalf looking guy in the sky watching to see if I do bad shit.

After all... when I die I got all of eternity to dwell on that.


Or rot away in the ground, whatever works.
Oblic
Once a member of RMN, always a member of RMN!
1752
author=Despite
I worry more about how I'm gonna pay my bills rather if there is some gandalf looking guy in the sky watching to see if I do bad shit.


This; very much this.
author=Dyhalto
My point is that Atheism is a religion without an institution. But it can still be as full of bile as any of the big "one true religions". Imagine, if you will, a nation's leader getting up on the podium and saying "We must eradicate religion. It is barbaric and will doom us all. Lower your ploughshares and raise your swords, we will go to war to protect civil society from superstition-motivated savagery." That's what the creation of an Atheist institution might look like in the future.

Not true. Very few atheists would share such an extremist view like that. Many people who are atheists or agnostics would not mind befriending religious people, as long as both parties can agree not to try to change the beliefs of one another. And as for the upper half of the quoted text, much of the world's problems today have been influenced by religion. Imagine if we never even brought up religion? Imagine how far our society would have advanced today?
Desperate people are prone to extremist ideologies, as long as it promises them what they need. Atheists, merely for being atheists, are no exception.
chana
(Socrates would certainly not contadict me!)
1584
Except that atheism, precisely, promises nothing. Were Marx, Lenin desperate people?
Milos
Lone Wolf, or something cool.
286
To be honest, I am a believer. I've had some moments in my life, where I had nowhere to turn, and I turned to faith. And I found help, and comfort in it. Some say it's just a coincidence, but whenever I needed help, God helped me. Things can't coincide every time.
I would suggest to those atheists to try to pray when they are in a problem, and they can see that they will be helped. But you have to stay strong. You can't say :
"God maybe will help me", you have to believe in it, and say it like "God will help me"
Some may find this ridiculous etc; but that is your choice.

As for ze background:

I was raised in a family that gave me the choice to believe in what I wanted to believe. I was thought in the way of the Eastern Orthodoxy, but my family did not emphasize on faith too much(they are good people, even better then some of the "good church-going guys")but they went to the church sometimes.
I used to go sometimes to light a candle for my dead relatives(as is the tradition here), but not that frequently.
The time I found out that God is real, is in my 8th grade, when I was in some problems. I turned to God, and he helped me. From then, I always pray, may it even be the simplest of prayers, but I always get the help that I need.
But don't get me wrong here, I'm not the zealous type. I go when I can, and pray in my own way, not forcing to people. I believe that God gave us free will to choose our own lives, in which is also the choice to be closer to him.
I also hate that common problem whereas people here tend to be full of prejudices, and they tend to insult people with words like "Spawn of Satan" etc. just because you listen metal music(example), but not have went to a church since he/she was baptized.

I hope this motivates someone :D
arcan
Having a signature is too mainstream. I'm not part of your system!
1866
Fact is most atheists were once religious so asking them to try praying is kind of pointless. Also trying to convince yourself that it will work is opposite of what you should be doing. That's called confirmation bias and the exact reason scientists do blind studies. Not to mention how silly it is to base your beliefs on something that is vague at best. This is the same kind of thinking that leads to ridiculous beliefs like astrology or fortune telling.

author=chana
Except that atheism, precisely, promises nothing. Were Marx, Lenin desperate people?
Communism seemed like a good idea at the time, especially trailing on the heels of an absolute monarchy. Sharing is good, after all. But forcibly confiscating from the productive and redistributing to the unproductive eventually leads down the drain.
Continuing this will go way off topic :x
chana
(Socrates would certainly not contadict me!)
1584
author=arcan
Fact is most atheists were once religious so asking them to try praying is kind of pointless. Also trying to convince yourself that it will work is opposite of what you should be doing. That's called confirmation bias and the exact reason scientists do blind studies. Not to mention how silly it is to base your beliefs on something that is vague at best. This is the same kind of thinking that leads to ridiculous beliefs like astrology or fortune telling.


You'd be surprised, as atheist as one may be, in REALLY desperate situation, you may find yourself praying AND it will help! Now, I don't think it helps because there's a god but it's the mere fact of praying, imo, that gives you a renewed hope first, and that's crucial, and thus the energy to overcome that excessively difficult moment. This is why I think, as an atheist, that this belief is written somewhere in our genes, wether we like it or not, or, at least, is such an ancestral phenomenon that it works as if it was, and I perfectly understand Milos' reaction, though the difference is that it does not make me a beleiver for all that.

@Dyhalto, I'm not a communist, though I think that Marx was definitely a genius and that there's a lot to take from his writings. But you just can't help observing that, as it is applied, it does not work... the question is why, you have your answer, mine is that applying a system of thoughts to reality is bound to fail, I think it should just help you understand reality better, but you're right this leads off topic!
kentona
Your mom is a hero
20844
It has been shown that meditative states are beneficial for human beings, regardless of their faith (or lack thereof). But the fact remains that 2 hands working does more good than 1000 clasped in prayer. (And I would never engage in prayer even if there were gods - to me it is nothing but unbridled narcissism, and I am full of myself, but not that much!)
Milos
Lone Wolf, or something cool.
286
As I said, you have a choice. That's why I don't go blasting on people just cause they are atheists, or believe in a different religion.