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Want to believe in God but can't


Spirituality & Religious Beliefs Contemplate your place and purpose in the universe.

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Old 19th September 2017, 4:41 PM   #241
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In the end, if having faith helps us get through this world, it's a win/win. If we are taken away by Rapture and all the questions we have about the world and our purpose are answered, great. If not, there isn't anything we can do about it. I'd just rather live with faith and hope and with a positive attitude than to live out our days with such a dismal view to the "other side". We have nothing to lose by having and keeping faith at least. If it helps us live our lives with a more positive outlook and attitude and keeps us walking a "righter" path that gives a nice life, great.
This is the approach I have begun to get comfortable with. If there is a God, I'm glad. If there isn't a God, I can't help that. Maybe all of this is just one big joke, and, when the Earth is finally destroyed one day, that's it. I hope that isn't the case though. I'm happier living my life hoping that there is a God and there is some kind of conscious existence after this. I fully concede that I could be using that to cope with my anxiety about death, but, if that hopes helps me have a happier existence, so be it.

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Old 19th September 2017, 4:50 PM   #242
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This is the approach I have begun to get comfortable with. If there is a God, I'm glad. If there isn't a God, I can't help that. Maybe all of this is just one big joke, and, when the Earth is finally destroyed one day, that's it. I hope that isn't the case though. I'm happier living my life hoping that there is a God and there is some kind of conscious existence after this. I fully concede that I could be using that to cope with my anxiety about death, but, if that hopes helps me have a happier existence, so be it.

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I don't think it would have been some big joke. If there's no God, all this was just an accident of nature . . . so be it. Although, I find even that saying that doesn't really flow naturally from my mouth/fingers. There's something about saying it that just doesn't "feel" correct . . .

And, since we really don't know what goes on after death, why assume on the side of negativity. I'd say it's a 50/50 thing -- like, what ifs. You can ask "What if it's (something bad)? or you can ask "What if it's (something good)? That's how I deal with the lesser "what if's" in life.

But, seriously, it doesn't sound to me like you are at a point where death is imminent and worrying about and fretting serves no purpose but to mute the joys of living. Don't waste what you have right now by clouding it. And, I'd say, by the time you do get to the point where death is near, you aren't going to be so afraid of it, and maybe welcome it. Kinda like when a summer is so hot and miserable that you welcome fall and winter And, you can also fall to your faith when that time is near like going to your "happy place" in times of stress. Don't worry about it or try to see beyond. Life your life well.
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Old 19th September 2017, 10:19 PM   #243
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But, to the science/theology debate -- scientists have proven that the earth/world is a lot older than the Bible indicates. I don't dispute that the earth is older.
I don't want to detract from the conversation, other than to say that what many people are critical of in popular culture is something called Young Earth creationism. Young earth creationism mostly has roots in Seventh Day Advent-ism and is not accepted among most biblical scholars. Heck, Gleason Archer speaks like 10 ancient languages, translated all of the original biblical manuscripts, took his college notes in Hittite, and said there is no way day in Genesis 1 is referring to an actual 24 hour duration. It's easy to disprove from just the text. You don't even need to understand scientific methods of dating the earth. According to the "literal" interpretation, the sun was not created until day 4, so how can the previous days be referring to solar days. In a lot of ways young earth creationism has hijacked the conversation. But if you look back at the early church fathers, they did not conclude the earth is young. Most of them left it open to interpretation, not based on science (this was prior to scientific understanding), but because of the text. Augustine actually wrote several volumes about what "day" means in Genesis (the work is called the A literal interpretation of Genesis), and this was way before there was any scientific argument.

One reason they thought the earth was ancient, is just the descriptions of creation in the scripture itself. There are many texts about the ancientness of the earth. One document, the Book of Enoch (which is probably the only apocryphal book that a lot of scholars would argue should be in the bible), describes a scene in which an angel is speaking to the prophet Enoch. In the text, Enoch asks how old the universe is...the angel shows him a great fire with smoke ascending up to heaven. He then conveys to Enoch that the age of the universe is as great as the range of the smoke relative to fire. In other words, a lot older than the earliest recorded stories we have from humans. They didn't really have the idea of millions and billions of years back then, but the idea of great ancientness of the universe was described in other ways.
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Old 20th September 2017, 12:48 AM   #244
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This is the approach I have begun to get comfortable with. If there is a God, I'm glad. If there isn't a God, I can't help that. Maybe all of this is just one big joke, and, when the Earth is finally destroyed one day, that's it. I hope that isn't the case though. I'm happier living my life hoping that there is a God and there is some kind of conscious existence after this. I fully concede that I could be using that to cope with my anxiety about death, but, if that hopes helps me have a happier existence, so be it.

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What you're essentially describing is Pascal's wager...which, if you prefer to only think in rational terms, is loaded with logical fallacies.

Speaking of talking snakes, I'm not a big fan of Christopher Hitches. He uses rather unsophisticated arguments, but there's a kernel of truth in his puns. Sort of like Trump. Not really the definition of a policy wonk, but there is a kernel of truth (normally humor) in the way he reduces political positions to 140 characters. With that being said:

Hitchslap 14 - Pascal's wager is a con

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Old 20th September 2017, 2:26 AM   #245
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His post brought this back to my mind and I think a statement Jordan makes about "belief in god" is really telling about how people underestimate the effect christian values had on modern western culture.
Excellent post! Thanks for sharing the link too.

I wanted to share a link to one of my earliest influences on the application of religious belief to science...Dr. Bakker. An odd example, perhaps, but I think he was pretty much on the cutting edge (at least in popular culture) regarding the role of religion in science.

Bakker was a pretty famous paleontologist (he appeared on a lot of dinosaur specials in the 80s and pretty much convinced me I wanted to become an archeologist lol never happened), who also happens to be a Pentecostal minister

Dinosaurs and the Call of Paleontology (Robert Bakker)
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Old 21st September 2017, 12:10 PM   #246
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What you're essentially describing is Pascal's wager...which, if you prefer to only think in rational terms, is loaded with logical fallacies.

Speaking of talking snakes, I'm not a big fan of Christopher Hitches. He uses rather unsophisticated arguments, but there's a kernel of truth in his puns. Sort of like Trump. Not really the definition of a policy wonk, but there is a kernel of truth (normally humor) in the way he reduces political positions to 140 characters. With that being said:

Hitchslap 14 - Pascal's wager is a con
You know, I wasn't even aware of what Pascal's wager really was, so I looked it up yesterday. Either that, or I read about it at some point and then forgot about. It basically sums up what I feel, but Hitchens has a very good point too.

Throughout all of this, I've been thinking about predestination and wondering if the Calvinists had it right all along.
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Old 21st September 2017, 8:43 PM   #247
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You know, I wasn't even aware of what Pascal's wager really was, so I looked it up yesterday. Either that, or I read about it at some point and then forgot about. It basically sums up what I feel, but Hitchens has a very good point too.

Throughout all of this, I've been thinking about predestination and wondering if the Calvinists had it right all along.
Paschal gets sort of compartmentalized for the wager argument, but he wrote a lot of interesting stuff.

As far as predestination or free will, well that's a massive can of worms. haha Wars have been started for less...

The conundrum with predestination and free will, Biblically, is that both ideas are attempts by the apostles to convey both sides of God's nature; his grace and his holiness. Trying to put these concepts into human terms is pretty difficult, if not impossible. I get a migraine listening to theologians in debates arguing dogmatically for either position. Yet, the bible clearly states both are true. Paul discusses both concepts in the same letter in Romans, so we know that he intentionally tried to convey both ideas to the churches. However, its pretty easy to run into a whole host of paradoxes when you try to contemplate how both concepts can be true. It quickly turns into a mental paradox akin to: what happens when the immovable object meets the irresistible force.
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Old 21st September 2017, 9:04 PM   #248
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Predestination is not a blanket edict. Predestination refers to the Chosen Ones . . . the rest are saved by Grace if they believe and accept Jesus as their savior, which is a matter of Free Will.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 3:13 AM   #249
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What you're essentially describing is Pascal's wager...which, if you prefer to only think in rational terms, is loaded with logical fallacies.[/B][/URL]
So I think the issue with Pascals wager and thus also Christopher Hitches rebuttal of it - is that it is usually framed in terms of "belief" in god rather then simply the idea of following right moral action that was derived from that transcendent ideal. It tries to posit to atheists that even though you don't rationally believe in God - you should basically "pretend to believe" just in case. Kind of a ridiculous ask.

If you look at the religious teachings as a "value system" rather then a "belief system" I think you can frame it in a much more logical and easier way which most Atheists are fine with. Simply if you live by this value system - regardless of whether you do or don't believe there is a god - if there is an afterlife you will go to heaven.

I think most would be fine with that proposition. If you are working from the Christian value system then you will get quibbles on certain things like sex before marriage and also the approach to homosexuality but on the whole I think the value system would be accepted because it is fundamentally the value system that western culture was built on and aimed at so even if your weren't religious you were still taught this was the right way to live.

The bible states explicitly that the only thing God actually cares about is your actions - its why Jesus had such disdain for the Pharisees who said they believed in God but acted in the opposite way. Belief, understanding and indeed even true knowing about God really gets you absolutely no where - if you don't actually follow through on following the value system. In fact if your a catholic\christian there are many passages in the bible that say it would make the consequences for wrong action much much worse for you by knowing and still not acting correctly. Thus in a way being a moral personal and an atheist is in some ways an easier path.

Being a good person - regardless of what you believe you will get the rewards. That's the fundamental truth.
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Old 13th October 2017, 6:08 AM   #250
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So I've watched that podcast 6-7 times and what Petersen was talking about was that in the absence of religion the super heroes genre had taken over as the practice domain for exploring these meta truths in narritive form. He said their popularity and the money we spent on them showed how much we craved this type of structure to explore modes of being. The heroes tale is one of the oldest teaching tools to show people "preferred patterns of behaviour".
That's possible, but it has nothing to do with actually simulating a universe, objectively and measurably so. Our daily weather forecasts consume the computing power of several fully animated hollywood movies 3 times a day. Peterson is a bit careless in his wording in this particular instance and it bothers me.

I have also rewatched his interviews. At one point he's being interviewed by David Rubin, and Rubin asks Peterson comment on the conversation with Sam Harris. Peterson talks for about 20 minutes arguing why christianity (specifically) benefits a society (and thus we should regard it as true). But at no time does he actually make the claim that god can interact with the world physically (which would necessitate and imply that he exists). He actually specifically describes the development of religiosity in early societies as an act of the human mind. I am paraphrasing here, but this is the gist of what he said: "It probably took us about 150'000 years to separate the leader from an actual individual and put into an abstract person (god).'

Peterson, in my view doesn't believe in a personal god, but, and he may well be right here, he strongly believes it improves peoples day-to-day experience to believe in a personal god.

If Peterson's claims are true I suggest the following: We identify precisely which psychological mechanism provides the benefits that Peterson claims we get from believing. We divorce it from bronze age ethics and all the magical thinking, combine it with the tenets of humanism and the values of the enlightenment and boom, we have a powerful tool to shape a fair, true and loving society for the next few hundred years until something even better comes along.

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The underlying meta truth is: Parents who sacrifice themselves for the betterment of their children produce the greatest offspring. Offspring capable of much greater things then others. Capable of achieving things that seem miraculous.
I can get that from modern biology and evolutionary psychology. No genocide and magic needed for any of this.
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Old 13th October 2017, 8:39 AM   #251
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We are God's "CHILDREN". Children don't like rules. Some children don't want to be told what to do. Dad has to reign them in and sometimes he will let a child do something they shouldn't do in order to let them learn from their mistakes. The Bible is a set of rules and a view to what happens when people don't live by them. Over time, people have departed from the rules, created their own rules and/or co-mingled some of them and we now have a convoluted, confused society.

I kinda look at all this as if my Dad told me to do something and I ask "why?". He says "because I said so". I have to do it because while I don't understand it or like it, I have faith that he has my best interests at heart -- "Ok, Lord, I believe YOU"

The truth is we aren't doing a great job doing things OUR way.

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Old 13th October 2017, 12:09 PM   #252
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I kinda look at all this as if my Dad told me to do something and I ask "why?". He says "because I said so". I have to do it because while I don't understand it or like it, I have faith that he has my best interests at heart -- "Ok, Lord, I believe YOU"
Sounds like something a rapey uncle would say to his niece to shut her up after the deed. These uncles unfortunately exist in reality. Why do we brainwash ourselves, against better knowledge too, into this amoral, nihilistic ideals of the abrahamitic religions, for a completely made up sky daddy? I will never get it.
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Old 13th October 2017, 12:18 PM   #253
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Sounds like something a rapey uncle would say to his niece to shut her up after the deed. These uncles unfortunately exist in reality. Why do we brainwash ourselves, against better knowledge too, into this amoral, nihilistic ideals of the abrahamitic religions, for a completely made up sky daddy? I will never get it.
completely made up sky daddy? -- Because, we may be at the very point in history where we will find out if it's a made up sky daddy or not . . .

If you're wrong, you're not gonna like where you might spend eternity. Look at it as a risk/reward thing.
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Old 13th October 2017, 12:54 PM   #254
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Look at it as a risk/reward thing.
Pascal's wager. Not buying it. What if I'm wrong about Zeus, or Xenu? Same difference. Why aren't you worried about upsetting Zeus, or Xenu?
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Old 13th October 2017, 1:05 PM   #255
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Pascal's wager. Not buying it. What if I'm wrong about Zeus, or Xenu? Same difference. Why aren't you worried about upsetting Zeus, or Xenu?
Because Zeus or Xenu didn't leave us a Book that's been carried throughout history and protected by people who are willing to stake their lives on it and haven't touched my heart and mind and so many others in a way that makes me realize that this world, at least the way it was given to us, was perfectly synchronized to support life and the body and mind are so complex to be coincidence.

And, because Zeus and Xenu didn't tell us exactly what would happen to us if we didn't believe and take care of ourselves and each other and our planet.
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