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T.o.b.y

Discussions, thoughts and ramblings on religion

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Maybe it will become a "Toby talks to herself" thread but I personally find religion an extremely interesting topic and even if I didn't, it seems like we need a place to dump posts with religious content so that people who (understandably) wish to avoid that don't have to deal with them on the rest of the forum.

I don't know why I like thinking or talking about religion, maybe it's because I have little emotional involvement with it. I am agnostic, I just don't know if there's a god and I don't mind not knowing. I have heard people say that agnostic is the coward's atheist but I disagree, the way I understand it, atheism is the belief that there is no god. And I lack that certainty.

I also have hardly any personal negative experiences with religion or religious people. I went to a (among other things) Christian school and married into a Christian (Lutheran) family and nobody has ever tried to convert me or given me a hard time about not sharing their beliefs.

When I was younger, I used to think that religious people were more moral or more likely to be "good" people but that soon turned out not to be true (at least not in my personal experience), which was a bit of a disappointment. But my husband always says, you never know how horrible XYZ would be without faith so maybe it does have a positive effect.

Anyway. What do you think?

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I wasn't brought up religious.

I embraced Christianity myself.

I then had a total loss of faith and have been happily atheist for years.

I think there are good and bad people, religious and not.

I judge all ideologies on their merit.

Religion doesn't get a free pass, it is treated the same as politics or any other world view.

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Yeah, I don't think there's any intrinsic merit in believing in a deity per se. But I used to think religions' purposes was to help humans be better people or at least act like better people. But that doesn't seem to be have worked out too well.

I wasn't raised in a religious home either btw. My father is an atheist and my mother believes... something... it's hard to define. They chose my school for other reasons. They were very relaxed about it all. Around here, it's customary for children to be baptised as babies, even when that's the only time the families ever enter a church. They didn't do that with me, but they always made it clear that if I later wanted to join the church and be confirmed, that would be fine with them, they just wanted religion to be my own free choice.

Until I was 13, I thought that I wanted to do that but then I read the bible and was like, NO WAY. I can say with confidence that I do not believe that the bible is the work of god. I guess you could say I am a bible-atheist.

My father in law, who is a pastor, says I shouldn't have read it by myself and I love to listen to him explaining what it means to him and how he reconciles his pacifist, humanist, allround decent mindset with some of the content in there but it's an intellectual pleasure and nothing more. I am happy that it works for him but it sure does not for me.

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I think it's very possible to do.

My question would always be, but why do it?!

 

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Why reconcile the pacifist, humanist mindset with the  contents of the Bible.

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  I was raised Methodist and attended church regularly till I was in my twenties.  Then at some point I realized that I am not capable of believing something merely because I have been told that I should believe it, regardless of the source.  I can only believe what I believe.

Therefore my beliefs are few and simple.  Among other things, I believe that the detectable universe is not all that exists, but I am technically an agnostic simply because I have very little idea of what lies beyond.  Maybe there's "a" God, or maybe the universe is run by a committee for all I know.

I believe that the purpose of earthly existence is to learn what can best be learned under these conditions, rather than to spend much time speculating on what lies beyond.  I figure I'll be back there soon enough.

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My religious background is so eclectic I'm not even sure what I'd call it. When I was a kid we simply attended whatever Christian church was nearest, regardless of denomination. I think my Mom is a believer, but she never made much of it and didn't insist that us kids "be religious". My Dad was deeply interested in all religions, especially Eastern religions, studied them, taught many classes concerning them, and eventually started calling himself a Buddhist … which my mother always said was a joke. But I'm not so sure … Dad eventually became quite involved in the nearby Methodist church, but I think his heart really belonged to the "way" of Buddhism, if not to the actual faith.

My oldest brother became deeply enamored of Hinduism and Indian philosophy, my sister married a Jew but was largely agnostic, my other brother is more like Mom, and if I feel the need to identify my faith, I'll  confess to being a card-carrying Baha'i. But I'm not deeply involved in the faith and I increasingly don't like the idea of belonging to a particular religion. A friend and I were talking about this the other day, and we agreed that we'd bother rather be considered spiritual, but not religious. But I'm not sure exactly what that means. :smile:

As I mentioned elsewhere, my minor in college was in Philosophy and Religion, so apparently I inherited some of my Dad's interest. Sooo … you'll probably see me around here quite a bit. But I'll confess now that my thoughts are less than charitable to many of the more "fundamentalist" sects. Just sayin'. :smile: 

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And while the thought's in my head … a friend and I were discussing this yesterday … can anyone explain to me why the conservative/fundamentalist/whatever you call them sects are so dead set against accepting the science of climate change? Why do they consider it such a threat to their faith? I don't get it.

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I'm clearly not a fundamentalist, but as I understand it, if one takes the Bible literally, the Earth is only about 6,000 years old (derived by adding up the seven days of Creation plus the ages of all the men in the "begats").  Therefore anything that science says happened longer ago than that (e.g., dinosaurs, ice ages, etc.) has been misinterpreted, so the climate has never changed before.  I suspect that has something to do with it.

It's my own impression that the "science" of climate change has more than a little politics mixed in, plus a nearly-religious zealousness.  And I'm skeptical of putting too much trust in computer modeling, since the results necessarily depend so heavily on the assumptions made.  I'm fully convinced that the climate changes, yes -- but it's been doing so since long before there were humans.  And it appears that the climate is currently changing on Mars.

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I think those that don't believe science maybe ought to start building that ark!

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10 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

I'm clearly not a fundamentalist, but as I understand it, if one takes the Bible literally, the Earth is only about 6,000 years old (derived by adding up the seven days of Creation plus the ages of all the men in the "begats").  Therefore anything that science says happened longer ago than that (e.g., dinosaurs, ice ages, etc.) has been misinterpreted, so the climate has never changed before.  I suspect that has something to do with it.

It's my own impression that the "science" of climate change has more than a little politics mixed in, plus a nearly-religious zealousness.  And I'm skeptical of putting too much trust in computer modeling, since the results necessarily depend so heavily on the assumptions made.  I'm fully convinced that the climate changes, yes -- but it's been doing so since long before there were humans.  And it appears that the climate is currently changing on Mars.

Thanks, that helps. Although it still doesn't explain the fervor with which they deny it; why not hedge a bet and do things that are beneficial to the environment instead of continuing to pump pollutants into the air? Surely God would be pleased that we were trying to take care of his creation, even if we were overreacting to the danger? 

I agree climate change has been politicized, but 1) I don't think politicization is always a bad thing, sometimes that's what it takes to get things done, and 2) for me, it's not zealousness so much as a sense of urgency; we keep dribbling away our chances to improve, and I believe in global warming enough to think it's stupid and dangerous to ignore it. On a purely selfish level, the consequences are going to cost money, and I don't have much. 😛 

It's my impression that "anti climate change" also has more than a little politics mixed in. I don't think it's driven by religion nearly as much as it is driven by people who stand to benefit from keeping the status quo. Although, interestingly, even (some?) of the energy companies think climate change is a real threat that we could, and should, combat.

Boy, it didn't take me long to get off topic, did it? :D How about this … it seems very willful to me (and doesn't God disapprove of willfulness?) to insist that the Creation took seven of our days. We weren't there; how do we know how long a day was during the Creation? Or even how long a day was when that passage was written? Well, science would have us believe the earth's rotation would always have taken about 24 hours, but if you don't believe in science.....

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Well, true, but they had to call that period between sunrise and sunset something, "day" is as good a word as any. :D 

I have often wondered how they settled on 24 hours, though. Or 60 minutes. Wouldn't 20 and 100 have been easier to calculate?

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Bev, thou art truly a woman of few words! :P 

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Dunno if I've said on here before.

But yes, I am notorious on my forums for brevity...if not clarity!

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35 minutes ago, Arcadia said:

I have often wondered how they settled on 24 hours, though. Or 60 minutes. Wouldn't 20 and 100 have been easier to calculate?

I imagine that goes back to base 12 math systems, as well as solar cycles.  Earth chose the number more than we did, we just went with what fit best, lol.

4 hours ago, besleybean said:

I think those that don't believe science maybe ought to start building that ark!

They don't need to!  :D  God promised to never again destroy the earth by flood.


I think there are plenty of religious people who are also people of science as well.

 

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Not sure what you mean.  The promise was to not destroy all life on earth, not no flooding at all.

 

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Well it was in response to a great flood!

Ah, so it's ok if only some people die in floods?

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2 minutes ago, besleybean said:

Well it was in response to a great flood!

Still not sure what you mean.  What was in response to a great flood?

3 minutes ago, besleybean said:

Ah, so it's ok if only some people die in floods?

I don't think anyone said that, lol.

 

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Well apparently 'God;' is happy to allow people to die in floods and in fact in lots of other horrible ways.

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Okays.

 

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2 hours ago, Arcadia said:

... it still doesn't explain the fervor with which they deny it; why not hedge a bet and do things that are beneficial to the environment instead of continuing to pump pollutants into the air?

First thing, the word "deny" implies that deep down in their heart of hearts they know it's true -- yet they are in denial.  Which is to say, it's a loaded term.  "Skeptical" would be more fair, I think.

Second thing, the definition of "pollution" has changed rather drastically since the concept of antropogenic climate change arose.  I don't think there's much disagreement that things like toxic waste are bad.  But carbon dioxide used to be considered harmless and necessary.

I read an interesting article a while back that proposed instead of being alarmed by global warming, we should be pleased by global greening.  There were some satellite photos showing how a good many formerly arid areas are now able to support vegetation, presumably due to the availability of more CO2, which is of course necessary for plant metabolism.

I tend to agree with something Bill Clinton said a while back.  It seems very unlikely that some of the biggest CO2 producers (e.g., China) will be willing to curb their output.  So it might make more sense to take the money that would be required to attempt to counter climate change, and instead use it to cope with whatever changes actually occur.

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