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View Full Version : Apocalypses, "prophets" and naive people



Laurrrr
05-23-2011, 04:49 AM
I've got some questions here and I really want to know some opinions.

1. Apocalypses, how many apocalypses were by now? Lots. Who comes with them? Why are people so afraid?

2. Who the heck are those prophets of apocalypses, some random old dude says at T.V. : The apocalypse is coming, you will all die...mwahahahaha. For real? Why are these people allowed at television anyhow? How do they know?

3. Why are the people so naive that they actually buy that shit? I mean, come on, more than ten fake apocalypses but you still buy a bunker? Why? And why the Americans mostly? I don't want to do generalization but that's the truth. Don't insult me for that.

inb4 God wants this to happen.
That is not an answer or a opinion, so don't even try to say that.

Oh, btw, for the ones who don't know, I am an atheist so God is not an answer.

Plutonium
05-23-2011, 07:04 AM
People who are scared are easier to manipulate, which is the main reason western and especially the US government use the media to scare and manipulate people, so politicians can do things the way they want, without having to worry about people not standing behind them.

bonobo4
05-23-2011, 08:42 AM
Deeply religious people, of all religions, not just Christianity, will do anything they believe "justified" by their religious beliefs. Deeply-religious, fundamentalist Christians will know of the dangers of unbelieving and will do anything to get into Heaven, such as convert others, change lifestyles, sacrifice valuables, etc. (Crusades, and even Lent can reflect this). So, since the Bible (which is absolute truth to fundamentalist Christians) predicts the Rapture at some point, the easily scared and malleable believe anything related to the Bible/Christianity. This sometimes leads to therefore, delusional and seemingly "stupid" decisions. But there's actually little if anything we can do about them.

Wimpie
05-23-2011, 09:14 AM
This is most part my opinion about this. Im an atheist, so its written from that point of vieuw.

Beliving in apocaylps scenario's and disasters is not something of this time. These days it is however only belived by relative small groups of people, most of the time an 'side-branch' of any of the main religious beliefs. Taking christian belief for example, the church would not support these for obvious reasons.
In the past it was different. If you look at the crusades you can tell its totally different. 1. because the church, at that point the pope was leading the whole christian faith, actually gave the orders to start the crusades. 2. This was all about taking back holy ground, nothing to do with apocalyptic scenario's.

It was not an fundementalist group who started the crusades, they had full church support.
Now the church has split and has far less power it used to have, wich is also to take in account.

That we hear about these groups who belive the end is near more and more often has several reasons. Communication all around the world means we actually hear about it the past decades. For all that we know somewhere around 1700 there might also be believers who gave the same message. They dint reach many people however.

And because the bible gets older, i'd say that the waiting for it gets long for some people. So its more likely that these prophecy's are made. Also more of them expire nowedays, at least that would make sence.

And if you belive or not... well thats based on so many things. Education, family, intellegence, common sence, ect.
But if you do, even then its about the interpretation of the bible. Are you gonna take things literally or more as an guideline.

These people do take it to literally or they seek to many things behind it.

See for the point of 'seeking to many things behind it' also the prophecy's of Nostradamus.

Laurrrr
05-23-2011, 10:41 AM
Deeply religious people, of all religions, not just Christianity, will do anything they believe "justified" by their religious beliefs. Deeply-religious, fundamentalist Christians will know of the dangers of unbelieving and will do anything to get into Heaven, such as convert others, change lifestyles, sacrifice valuables, etc. (Crusades, and even Lent can reflect this). So, since the Bible (which is absolute truth to fundamentalist Christians) predicts the Rapture at some point, the easily scared and malleable believe anything related to the Bible/Christianity. This sometimes leads to therefore, delusional and seemingly "stupid" decisions. But there's actually little if anything we can do about them.

You seem the religious type bonobo. Do you think you are going into a better place by changing someones beliefs? Anyone has his/her beliefs and opinions, wasn't this a free planet? I guess not.


People who are scared are easier to manipulate, which is the main reason western and especially the US government use the media to scare and manipulate people, so politicians can do things the way they want, without having to worry about people not standing behind them.

Exactly, but why can't we wake up? Why?

@Wimpie The Church controls too damn much, I wonder what will happen when aliens will be found?

Wimpie
05-23-2011, 10:51 AM
Well the church still has some power left ofcourse. But since the origional 'katholic' church has split it has decreased.

If the first signs of aliens are vague it wont be just the church that will be very sceptic. I belive the gouvernements will be first in line to denie :P. If the signs are clear however... lets say that some people have some explaining to do :D. That will be very intresting.

Lets just hope the aliens will see it the same way then hehe.

bonobo4
05-23-2011, 11:01 AM
You seem the religious type bonobo. Do you think you are going into a better place by changing someones beliefs? Anyone has his/her beliefs and opinions, wasn't this a free planet? I guess not.
Honestly, I'm not religious. Even though I was "Christened" and am legally a Protestant Christian, I am not. Though I am a thinker, and am open to other people's views and opinions. I am not however, delusional and can make up my own mind about the existence of a deity or even multiple gods. I don't believe in any, but being the curious scientific philosopher/thinker I am, I appear more open. It helps being interested in Physics and Philosophy, as you get the Physical "how" as well as the Philosophical "what and why?"

As for a "better place", I personally hate those who convert or try to convert others. I am fine with people's beliefs, I can accept people being religious. I may not agree, often I don't, but I'm not the type who forces my views on others. I hate those people who force religion on others through media/threats. Are you aware that in Medieval times religion was used threateningly, and Hell was mentioned far more than Heaven? I don't believe in Hell, as for Heaven I'd like to believe there is one, but it seems highly unlikely. The idea of a world that we enter when we die that is invisible to living things and can only be entered or seen by the dead seems highly unlikely.

I agree with your free opinion idea. If we were all like that though, there'd be very little conflict, but people aren't like that sadly. :(

Dr.Gore
05-23-2011, 12:51 PM
Well, I'm an Atheist and Anti-Religious. I don't belive in any deity or the existence of hell and heaven. I was never a religious person, not even when I was a small kid and I remember that I always argued with my parents about my absence of belief mostly because my mother was very religious, not in a fanatic way, but the kind of person that prays every day.
I hate those type of "uninformed" persons that are something like: "OMFG, OMFG you are a satanist!" when I say that I'm an atheist and I don't belive in their "god thing".
I hate those type of persons and TRY to fking brainwash you to become a christian.
I hate those type of FANATIC religious persons and talk all fking day about "their god thing" and about how they are blessed by him and stuff like that.
I hate the whole christianity because they brainwash people for over 2000 years and make them violate their own principles and beside that they make you pay for it. Pay for a fking brainwash? Now that is the best scam ever.
I don't understand the type of people that "fear god" and are like: "I said a bad word, now I'm going to burn in hell...quick, to the curch !". Why would your fear something it just doesn't and never existed?

Humanity prays at dietys for over 4000 years and what happened...nothing. There were still lots and lots of wars, hunger and natural disasters. If there was any "supreme being", a diety those would have never happened.
Most of the people wont agree with me. But I don't care, I will never change my thinking, my principles...not even if I would see "god".
A friend of mine said one day one of the most "poetic and true thing" I've ever heared: "God is just an illusion of our confusion". I totally agree with that state, people need to wake up and realize that they are their "gods" and they lead their life not an "imaginary pupetmaster".
I wish there were more people that think like me...or at least similar, that don't let themselves brainwashed, don't fear of any diety, that see the world throught my eyes.

I would write more but I don't have too much time atm.
PS: sry for my kinda bag english.

Laurrrr
05-24-2011, 01:33 AM
Are you aware that in Medieval times religion was used threateningly, and Hell was mentioned far more than Heaven? I don't believe in Hell, as for Heaven I'd like to believe there is one, but it seems highly unlikely. The idea of a world that we enter when we die that is invisible to living things and can only be entered or seen by the dead seems highly unlikely.

Of course I am, do you also know that scientists were burned in the time of the Inquisition, if there wasn't any church then I do believe we, the humans, would be more evolved.

Well, I do believe in aliens and I have read a lot of books about possible contacts and if they are real etc. The most interesting book was that in which God is believed to be an alien that will come and put Jesus as our leader. Interesting in my opinion.

ward_rb
05-24-2011, 02:27 AM
from what i have seen, the people who believe in these apocalypse prophecies are in the vast minority. even when its religious, most people in that religion either dismiss it or are at least very skeptical. the only reason these things get any coverage at all is because of how far fetched they are, and news organizations know that reporting on it will get them ratings. and the sensationalist nature of the news media is exactly what blows these things out of proportion...most people hear it and just think "psh, yea right".


also, since this thread has taken a turn into a discussion on religion, ill throw my two cents in as well. ive said it before and ill say it again, claiming there is no god seems just as ignorant to me as claiming you know the "true" god/religion. both statements are a matter of belief rather than fact. personally i dont believe in any god as we know them, but i do believe there is a higher power that humans cannot comprehend. it might not even be sentient, just raw force, but existence has to have come from somewhere. but i am open to the fact that i could be completely wrong, because (at least in this point of time) there is no way for us to know the truth.

Violos
05-24-2011, 04:57 AM
Just so this doesn't turn into a full-fledged "religion" or politics thread, let's keep a few things in perspective:

First, Ward is right. "Knowing" that there is no higher power is just as unproven a belief as any other. While an old man in the sky certainly isn't the answer, you can hardly look at the universe (http://vimeo.com/22956103) without feeling humbled.

Second, you cannot deny the merit of churches and religion in many aspects of social life. Personally I can do without them, and I think all of humanity could in this day and age. But even though a lot went horribly wrong, it wasn't all bad. The problem was often not a religion itself, but of course humans, and human abuse of power (to interpet it to their end, for example) - which could have happened for other reasons as well.

And lastly, while it is true that there are shocking similarities between old "you go to hell" and the modern "you will lose/not get x" fear-control of masses in media and politics, apocalyptic ramblings of some guy are probably the smallest part of that.

Those (to go back to topic) go on air because fear, or just laughing at some nut, is also cheap entertainment. Spurring discussions, as this thread shows. And ad revenues if it happens on more commercial forums.

And people believe in it because, well... I recently read a comment by HP Lovecraft on how humans, while having replaced a culture of superstition by a more enlightened view, apparently cannot shake a certain desire to believe in weird things. Be it UFOs, Angels or the Mayan apocalypse. Maybe we all need some of this to cope with the chaotic comedy of human existence.

And those who build bunkers... I guess they believe that this somehow solves whatever fears manifest in that apocalypse belief.

Otoh, you have to give them credit for the fact that a bunker full of food is probably the smartest all-round solution to cover a whole range of distastrous scenarios. Could come in handy one day, even if the current prophets disappoint.

defboy99
05-24-2011, 06:37 AM
Let’s see what a born-again Christian’s opinion can lend to the conversation.

First, I applaud ward and Violos—the ONE FACT that really must be agreed on is this: atheists can no more disprove the existence of God than Christians can prove the existence of God. It’s a matter of faith, something Christians have and, ironically, so do atheists. It could be said that science is the god of atheists: hard, cold facts proven only by data that can be verified by the five senses (in essence, a hard, cold god). The difference, however, is that Christians (and other religious folk) are open-minded enough to entertain the notion that there might be things out there bigger than ourselves which we can’t experience in our own limited human ways, whether it’s a divine Being like the God of the Bible, or some creative “essence” or “force” or “energy.” My honest reaction, when I hear atheists declaratively state in dogmatic terms that there is no God, is sadness, really. Not at the attack on my own personal beliefs, but at the inability or unwillingness of those people to open up their minds and hearts to the possibility that there is Someone out there, to be willing to at least contemplate the idea even if they remain atheistic.

Now, I’m a born-again Christian, have been for 36 years, and I know I’ll get flamed for stating my beliefs. However, to go along with what some other members have posted here, there is a HUGE difference between having a personal relationship with God and being a crazy fanatic who rants of apocalyptic events and forces his beliefs down the throats of others using lies and intimidation and fear tactics. Many people misinterpret the Bible as being literal in all aspects and therefore believe it can’t agree with scientific fact. I don’t agree with fanatics; I’m not fanatical myself. I’m educated enough to understand what is fact and what is not. I believe science and the Bible can walk hand-in-hand in most instances, but sadly it’s the fanatics on BOTH sides that create problems. You have fanatical zealots who preach religion over science, and equally fanatical zealots who preach science over religion. Anyone with even a modicum of intelligence understands the dangers inherent in dogmatic belief systems: “It’s my way or the highway” never got anyone anywhere, and as long as people on both sides of the religion/science debate refuse to try to reach some middle ground, this battle will continue.

I could toss in the debate surrounding Christianity’s moral belief system vs. atheism’s secular humanism (an unchanging Moral Code vs. situational ethics), but that’s off topic and perhaps a debate for a different forum.

To the point. It’s not just America that has crackpots and crazies who go around yelling “The end is near!” I mean, c’mon, folks, this has been going on for the duration of mankind’s existence on this rock. America is a relative newcomer to the scene compared to many of the countries in the world where false prophets and fanatics have preached the End Times, yet America seems to get all the flack. Yes, both religion and those allied against religion are to blame for much of this. Lopping all Christians into one group and then attacking them using stereotypical ideology is just as bad as what the Catholic Church did hundreds of years ago to halt scientific progress in its tracks. That era saw incredible corruption in the Catholic Church, which is why there was a schism, resulting in the formation of the Protestant Church. This is all historical fact; anyone can read up on it. I’m not denying that the Church was a monster back then, but what seems to fall upon deaf ears is that the terms “church” and “religion” are generic, all-encompassing terms, thereby essentially empty and meaningless in describing the reality of what it means to have a personal relationship with God. I’m a Christian, I believe in an all-powerful God, and it’s my relationship—not any “religion”—that is the key. Many people attend church who don’t have a personal relationship with God or anything else. Obviously, the corrupt popes of hundreds of years ago knew nothing of what a personal relationship with God means. To paraphrase one of the earlier posters, it’s because humans by nature are imperfect, fallible creatures (ironically, this is taken straight from the Bible). It’s wrong to blame God for the failures of humans, and if you choose not to believe in a Higher Power, it’s also wrong to bash those who do. Each side—Christian and atheist—needs to respect the opinions and beliefs of the other.

Anyway, we’re all entitled to our opinions. I choose faith (and its accompanying hope for something better) over the alternative. All fanatics who rant about apocalypses have gone off the deep end and do not represent true Christians. Crazy people abound on both sides of this issue, and I’m willing to bet there are far more non-Christians who have caused problems in this world throughout history than Christians. Just check the facts, available to anyone who is willing to do some research. Fringe-thinking ideology is always dangerous, regardless of its alignment.

defboy99
05-24-2011, 06:39 AM
@ Violos--I couldn't agree more in regards to feeling humbled by the scope and grandeur of the universe. If that alone can't get people to ponder the possibility of a Higher Being, I don't know what will. Good observation.

Wimpie
05-24-2011, 09:18 AM
@defboy99
Crazy people abound on both sides of this issue, and I’m willing to bet there are far more non-Christians who have caused problems in this world throughout history than Christians..

I respect your beliefs and opinion but.. this seems very unlikely. Different beliefs have always tried to get as many souls they could. This has cause so many conflicts in the past, its just inpossible to keep track of it.

In the medieval age there where priests going north of europe to confert people, they did not like that 1 bit.(there are numerous stories about an prophet/priest setting an nordic ancient tree or relic on fire to prove their god would not interfere, of course they simply killed the priest after it. That must have caused conflicts). Also the clashes between christians and moslims in that time is a big part in historie. Even these days they dont always get along, look at the middle-east.

The big issue has always bin different oppinions. Well two beliefs is the only thing you need for that.

Of course its natural to protect ur religion but it simply causes conflicts, however unwanted they might be.

Violos
05-24-2011, 10:46 AM
It could be said that science is the god of atheists: hard, cold facts proven only by data that can be verified by the five senses (in essence, a hard, cold god). The difference, however, is that Christians (and other religious folk) are open-minded enough to entertain the notion that there might be things out there bigger than ourselves.

On that part I have to disagree. You make it sound like some kind of disability not to be religious.

Beside the fact that I can think of some quite soft and warm things that can be experienced by human senses ;), it is among scientists -physicists and neurologists, most of all- that you will find the highest percentage of "open-minded" people.

Simply because you cannot be a critical person looking at the universe, or the inner workings of the human mind, without wondering or challenging your own beliefs. Which can be hard and painful if you used to think of yourself as the center of the first, or being in charge of the second.

Depends on your definition of the term, of course. If you mean "accept that there may be a higher power", this still applies.

When talking about sticking to things like heaven, hell and non-material influences that actively direct your actions in spite of overwhelming eveidence against them, others may argue that those are the close-minded people who cling to their pretty little picture of the world.

defboy99
05-25-2011, 06:18 AM
@ Violos & Wimpie--Thanks for your fair and kind observations. I was actually referring to Christianity, not religion in general. Christianity has only been around for about 2,000 years; prior to that, indeed, for the entire duration of man's existence, other religious systems have been in place all over the world, and even since Christianity's beginning, other religions have sprouted up. Whether it's on a tribal level encompassing a few hundred people, or a world-wide movement with millions of members, religious beliefs of some sort have always existed. My point was there is a difference between being "religious" and being a Christian. You can be religious about anything: broccoli, football, The Simpsons, etc. All "religious" means is that you're fervent about something. To have a personal relationship with God is something many, many folks can't fathom, either because they don't believe in a God or because they don't believe it's possible to have a relationship of any sort with Higher Being. And that's okay. I respect the opinions of other folks here. Whether you wish to believe my point-of-view or not, it doesn't negate what I believe; God's existence doesn't depend upon a person's belief that he exists or not. Once again, it's my opinion; it's what I choose to believe.

Anyway, based on the fact that Christianity has only been around for 2,000 years, this leaves the vast majority of humankind's history in a pre-Christianity era, filled with many other religious and secular systems. It goes without saying that many, many more people have suffered because of secular and non-Christian issues for this reason alone. And the fact is, wars have been fought for millennia for reasons other than religious differences. Even the greatest scientific mind of the 20th Century, Albert Einstein, said, "So long as there are men, there will be wars." It's human nature to be territorial and to fight, sadly, and this happens with or without any religious overtones. Like I mentioned in my earlier post, dogmatic thinking causes problems all the time; the best way to get along with our fellow man is to try and find a middle-ground.

Another thing that's important to realize is that we must always view others on an individual basis. To do otherwise is a disservice to that person. Most Christians I know are good people, but there are some I've known who were incredibly horrible people, hypocrital and back-stabbing, who gave the rest of Christianity a bad name. On the other hand, I've known people who did not believe in God who were very kind and compassionate folks. It's dangerous to generalize and say, "All Christians do this-and-this..." or "All secular people behave in such-and-such a manner..." But sadly, it's also human nature to generalize according to race, creed, color, religion, etc. Personally, I prefer to take each person as he is rather than judge someone according to some extraneous criteria that really doesn't have anything to do with who that person really is inside.

Violos, I wasn't trying to imply that those who choose not to believe in God are handicapped or disabled in their thinking. My point is that no one knows for sure either way, so isn't it best to keep an open mind to the possiblity? I watched a documetary called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed with Ben Stein, which discussed the virulent and vitriol-laden debate over Evolution vs. Intelligent Design. If you have access to this program, I'd recommend it. It really shed a lot of light on how closed-minded and militant many in the scientific community are in regards to ideas that go against evolution, and how scientists who have religious beliefs have been blacklisted by the scientific community for daring to propose that perhaps there is Intelligent Design at work in creation theories. It just proves my point, again, that there are hard-headed people on both sides who cause problems for all involved, when it seems so simple (yet probably unattainable) to just find a middle-ground and both sides say, "We don't know for sure so let's work together and see what happens."

As for "things like heaven, hell and non-material influences that actively direct your actions in spite of overwhelming eveidence against them," the fact of the matter is that Christianity teaches the concept of free-agency, where we make our own decisions. God doesn't "directly influence" everything we do. Perhaps in some religious systems this is held to be true, but as for what the Bible teaches and what Christians believe, we make all of our own decisions. If we were merely puppets on strings, as some unbelievers say, there would be no merit in anything we do. A Christian will do the right thing because he knows it's the right thing to do. God doesn't hold a gun to our heads and force us to do anything. And that's the whole point of not only Christianity, but also the topic of this thread, which I've unfortunately devitated from: we each make our own decisions and must take responsibility for the results of those decisions. In terms of apocalypses, fanatics, militant extremists, fear-addled followers, corrupt authority figures, etc., it's vital to remember that these twisted people do not represent the majority. Ever. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. And it's generally those in power who do the dirty deeds. With enough power at hand, a person can sway the minds of many people using lies, propaganda, fear and intimidation, and you end up with things like The People's Temple mass-suicide in Guyana in the late-'70s where more than 900 people died, the Heaven's Gate mass-suicide in 1997 where 39 people perished, not to mention events on a much larger scale such as 6,000,000 Jews slaughtered during WWII or 10,000,000 Russians killed by their own leader, Stalin, or insane extremists who fly airplanes into buildings, killing 3,000 innocent people, or tyrannical despots who bomb their own civilians in a last-ditch effort to stay in power, etc. All it takes is one crazy person in a position of power to create his own "apocalypse," and sadly the end result is that many others are affected by it.

To wrap this up (hopefully), whether a person believes in a Higher Power or not, it's our duty to repect each other's beliefs even if we don't agree with them. Believing doesn't make one stupid or naive; not believing doesn't make one intellectually superior. As for evidence, there are many things science takes for granted but can never prove. A Christian's faith can be just as valid as a scientist's theory. Bottom line: I choose to take each person I meet on an individual basis. His actions will determine whether I choose to accept him as a friend or not, not his race, creed, color or religion.

Thanks, guys, for your thoughts. I appreciate it.

bonobo4
05-25-2011, 06:34 AM
I choose to take each person I meet on an individual basis. His actions will determine whether I choose to accept him as a friend or not, not his race, creed, color or religion.
That's how I do it. It's just a shame that many others can't do the same or base their opinion on one thing I/they do. Many in my school judge me on things I may/may not have have even done/said/thought. Many also base opinions on lies/rumours. There's a good phrase from the book "To kill a Mockingbird" that I think applies here which is

You never really understand a person until you climb into their skin and walk around in it.

defboy99
05-25-2011, 06:52 AM
Excellent point, bonobo. I've read To Kill A Mockingbird at least a dozen times--it's one of my favorite books. The quote you mentioned basically sums up humanity's biggest problem: we can't understand someone until we get to know him in a non-judgmental fashion. Imagine if we could only break down the walls of generalization/stereotype/prejudice that separate all of us! Probably never happen, but it doesn't hurt to have faith that it's possible. :)

Medea Fleecestealer
05-25-2011, 07:26 AM
I'm not religious and I'm not an atheist. I'm an agnostic. I have no knowledge of God or whatever you want to call it and I wouldn't presume to think I ever could. If something "other" created this huge universe we occupy a very small corner of, how could I even contemplate beginning to understand it.

But people do want to understand the world/universe around them as it seems we are the only animal on the planet capable of wondering about such things (as far as we know at the moment, not being able to communicate with other species) so religion got invented. The natural disasters we see today would have been terrifying and unexplainable thousands of years ago so religion helped them make sense of such things. We don't take the Greek myths seriously these days, but they are just as valid an explanation of how things are as the Bible and if you want to explain your world by believing in the Greek myths, fine. I don't know if there is one God or many.

What I really don't understand regarding religion is why people should think there is only one way to worship? You must be a particular type of Christian or you must be a particular type of Muslim because their way is the only right way. It's this sort of thing which has and is causing a lot of the religious strife. We don't expect everyone to eat the same foods, dress the same, do the same job, etc, so why is religion so focussed on this, especially the fundamentalists of every religion. Are they so threatened by someone not believing exactly as they do that they have to lash out at others? Or is it just power hungry humans taking advantage where they can? And why does it seem to be only the Western based religions? I don't remember hearing of Buddhists or Shintos for example having these sort of religious disputes, but then I don't know much about their religious beliefs.

Mercedes Lackey got it right in her Valdemar books - there is no one true way. Let each believe as he wishes and DON'T try and force your beliefs on others.

bonobo4
05-25-2011, 07:31 AM
Nothing is true, everything is permitted. ;)

Violos
05-25-2011, 07:58 AM
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed with Ben Stein, which discussed the virulent and vitriol-laden debate over Evolution vs. Intelligent Design
I haven't seen it, though the deliberate double entendre of that title alone suggests a not so objective view.

The problem I have with Creationists (or those I encountered) is that they do not talk about the possibility of a higher mind behind the universe as we know it (i.e. starting with the big bang), but rather about how Genesis is an accurate description and people lived next to dinosaurs. Pulling lowly tricks to confuse people with "logic" like "Science only has theories! Theory means it must be vague! No facts at all! Just as valid as any belief!".
And what is worse, it even works to basically stall the discussion on such a level. Even though anyone with a mediocre education should know that in science, a theory is formulated to best describe what was observed in thousands of facts.
They obviously and deliberately aim at the masses'... stupidity may be too harsh a word. But not at a honest discussion, in spite of all the "scientific" polish they put on.



As for "things like heaven, hell and non-material influences that actively direct your actions in spite of overwhelming eveidence against them," the fact of the matter is that Christianity teaches the concept of free-agency, where we make our own decisions. God doesn't "directly influence" everything we do.
Yet free-agency, as in having a soul instead of a predeterminded/chaotic system of neurons, requires exactly that.

OT, but that's basically what modern neuroscience comes down to today, because the rest is known: Are the smallest electronic processes that trigger decisions clearly determinded by cause and effect ("cause" being any number of circumstances), are random processes involved, or can some force (soul) push them one way or another without being material itself?
The latter is what was proposed by a christian cleric. Though he had little to say to back it up except that it would have to be that way in order for christian beliefs to remain a possibility.

defboy99
05-25-2011, 08:07 AM
Medea, I couldn't agree more--"let each believe as he wishes and don't try to force your beliefs on others." If everyone held this philosophy to heart, the world would be such a better place. Good quote.

I don't blame religion, per se, as much as I blame human nature. Whether or not any/all religions are valid, there's still the fact that we were busy killing each other long before religion came onto the scene. It's true that there are hard-core factions within many religions, and it's these factions that cause problems. Once again, the "fringe elements" of society are the dangerous ones, while most people simply want to live in peace with one another and enjoy basic human rights and freedoms. Where trouble begins is where power begins, followed by pride, corruption, greed, you name it. You don't just find this in religion, either, but in all things that involve large groups of humans. So when people blame religion for the world's woes, they're blaming a concept rather than focusing on the real issue, which is human fallibility.

I've also pondered that perhaps man created God in an attempt to assuage his terror of the unknown. I mean, look at what happens when we die? Our corporeal form rots, stinks, is devoured by wild animals, etc.--this was the experience of early man as he watched his kinfolk die. Who in his right mind would want such an end for himself? It's entirely possible that, for this reason alone (not to mention your suggestion that man's curiosity regarding the universe might have caused him to "invent" religion as a way of explaining The Great Mysteries), religion came into being. Perhaps early man just couldn't live with the finality of corporeal death, having seen it up close and violently, so his fear of the unknown created a belief system wherein this mortal life is not the end, but perhaps the beginning. Perhaps there is something beyond the horrors of this life, and if we treat our fellow man with respect and kindness and compassion, maybe we can attain that great good reward at some point. Who can say? And therein lies the crux: no one knows for sure, so I believe it's best to be open-minded to the possibility, whether that leads to a spiritual conversion, agnosticism or atheism. For me, it led to spiritual conversion, something that changed my life.

Also, many horrific things take place in countries where organized religion is banned or persecuted, so one really can't definitively assert that religion is the cause of all of humankind's woes. In fact, in America, we have freedom to believe any way we choose, and there are many, many good things that have come of this basic human right. In America, we don't see the horrors evident in other nations where religious despots rule with an iron fist and deny humans of basic rights because of their extremists religious views. Perhaps America gets the most press because of its status among the world's nations: it's constantly under the microscope, and countries that hate us look for any little thing to use against us. America isn't perfect by any means, but we have freedoms here that many people worldwide don't have. And because we have freedom of religion, we end up with cults, fanatics, weirdos, bad guys, extremists, just like in any other country, and these people give the rest of us a bad name, unfortunately.

I guess even if I'm wrong and there is no God, at least my Christian upbringing and beliefs have created in me a compassionate heart and a willingness to be kind and helpful to others, especially those less fortunate than myself. The proof is in the pudding, they say, which is why we all mustn't judge others by anything other than the integrity of their character, not by religion or skin color or income bracket or nation of origin, etc.

Violos
05-25-2011, 08:33 AM
I've also pondered that perhaps man created God in an attempt to assuage his terror of the unknown. I mean, look at what happens when we die? Our corporeal form rots, stinks, is devoured by wild animals, etc.--this was the experience of early man as he watched his kinfolk die. Who in his right mind would want such an end for himself? It's entirely possible that, for this reason alone (not to mention your suggestion that man's curiosity regarding the universe might have caused him to "invent" religion as a way of explaining The Great Mysteries), religion came into being.
Exactly. Actually, this is very likely. And natural.
Some people say the emergence of religion in so many independent places and cultures is a proof for an all-present god known by different names. I think it's simply a result of people all developing a conscience, which had to deal with its own limits.
That's how we moved from weather gods to extra-terrestrial gods to extra-universal gods, along with the limits of our understanding.


Perhaps there is something beyond the horrors of this life, and if we treat our fellow man with respect and kindness and compassion, maybe we can attain that great good reward at some point.
And that is the paradox which speaks for religion: The great reward is the better life you have right now in a society which acts by those values. But it often takes more than this simple reasoning to get people to do it.

Medea Fleecestealer
05-25-2011, 09:41 AM
I agree defboy99, it's just as much about human nature if not more. Part of that problem lies in trying to make out that we are not animals or above the animals and, therefore, outside the natural order of things. Let's face it we aren't vegetables or minerals so we must be animals. We are perhaps the highest of the animals (my opinion changes depending on what atrocities, etc., may be happening in the world at any moment), but animals none the less with animal instincts of which one is to fight. It's man's continuingly evolving intellect and various religions' input that has made us attempt to overcome this and live more peacefully together. This, perhaps, could be religion's greatest gift to humans, if only we would heed its voice more. Imagine what it would be like if everyone in the world was squabbling over something.

defboy99
05-25-2011, 12:43 PM
@ Violos -- The documentary I mentioned is actually very balanced. You should check it out before you judge it by its title (the old "Don't judge a book by its cover" thing, you know?). :)

I should state my personal perspective on something because there seems to be quite a bit of generalizing going on here. I am a Christian who believes in the geological record according to what the scientific method has theorized--I believe the Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old. Many people misinterpret obviously figurative passages in the Bible to infer that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, but I don't subscribe to that theory. Too much evidence supports an Earth age of 4.5 billion years. This does not contradict the Bible which, as I stated, uses figurative language to describe creation. Any good Biblical scholar worth his salt will tell you that the Earth is extremely old, nowhere near the 10,000 year mark posed by certain fundamentalist zealots. I also believe in the Big Bang Theory of the creation of the universe--I believe God created everything using the laws of nature & physics--it makes sense that a logical God would do this, and it even fits with the "something out of nothing" paradox that scientists have been arguing over for decades. I do NOT believe that man and dinosaurs coexisted--nowhere in the fossil record has this ever shown up. The whole point is this: people generalize and use broad brush strokes to categorize other people into stereotypes which most of the time are erroneous. I keep coming back to this fact because it seems that people are still saying "Christians this..." or "Religion that..." It's important for one to get to know the human being, then make one's judgment. It's important for one to get to know the religious belief system before making one's judgment. It seems the less a person knows about something, the more critical he is, and this is a shame. I'm not trying to convert anyone here. Just stating my opinion. So, no offense intended.

I've had run-ins with fanatics, too, who tried to jam down my throat the same junk you mentioned. There are always a few bad apples in the barrel, it seems. My advice is, don't judge us all by a handful of crackpots. There are many Christians who believe what science has found to be factual. Not all Christians are stupid, weak-minded, fearful puppets who believe in superstition and hide from scientific facts.

And, you're spot-on regarding The Great Reward and how society would benefit from a world based on love and respect rather than fear and hatred. It really is too bad that this ideal seems so hard to come by because this world could really use it right about now. If only more people knew how good it feels to do something for another person without regard of what they might get in return, everyone would benefit.

@ Medea -- I, too, wonder at times just how "far above the animals" humans really are. A quick glance globally can sometimes be enough to make me want to hide in a cave somewhere. Recently, my nephew and I were talking about global events and I said I wondered what would happen if all the world's leaders were flown up to the International Space Station and were made to stand at a window, viewing Earth. What would go through their minds, seeing that small blue ball floating in space? Would they realize that we're all brothers (and sisters) on this planet and that we should stop bickering and killing each other? Would that unique perspective suddenly change their minds and, therefore, change our future for the better? My nephew thought for a second, then said, "Nah. They'd all say 'I want that!' and then start killing each other on the space station." Probably right. However, regardless of what anyone says (and Violos, I truly respect your comments--very educated and thought-provoking), my faith gives me a little something called Hope, and sometimes it's the only thing that can get you through a difficult time. Without hope, where would anyone be, believer or non-believer? I like to think we humans are better that what we usually see on the 10:00 news, you know?

Anyway, in closing, I appreciate the opportunity to share my opinions with you good folks. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Let's all do something today to make the world a better place.

bonobo4
05-25-2011, 02:01 PM
....
Thanks for this. You actually sound like the kinda guy this world needs, not a religious zealot raving about death and hell. And Violos, you are educated clearly. I like to think I am, but there's not enough in my head I can really say on this topic, apart from basic facts and opinions.

Laurrrr
05-25-2011, 02:10 PM
Well I didn't expected to see so much opinions here and I am glad this didn't turned into a religious war. I didn't even expect to see a post here. Thanks guys.

yerkyerk
05-25-2011, 05:19 PM
And why does it seem to be only the Western based religions?
Lol, there's only one major Western based religion, I'll give you a hint; the Islam is not Western based.

Furthermore, Mercedes Lackey didn't get it. Only if you truly feel that there is no true way, than you can say that kind of stuff - but even than forcing people not to force - is hypocrite.
What's more, if someone is convinced that his friends will end up in a bad position in the afterlife; wouldn't it be selfish to just sit idly by?

Violos
05-26-2011, 05:55 AM
@Defboy

Don't judge a book by its cover
I wouldn't if the cover was ambiguous. Just saying that a title that could be mistaken for "scientists oppress the intelligent" is unfortunate in that regard.

And I didn't mean to imply that you believe in or do that kind of wacky stuff. It's just that those who do - and that's who I mean by Creationists, fighting Darwinism and all - like to masquerade as "scientists promoting intelligent design" these days. And even officially, the term is used for those who promote "intelligent meddling" throughout the ages.

If by ID you just mean the possibility that some higher intelligence created this huge system we call nature with all its laws, and then hit the start button, then we're exactly on the same page.
- Except that you chose to believe in it, while I say we cannot know and it practically doesn't make a difference.

Just curious how exactly you define your "relationship" then. Figuratively speaking, how do the contents of a program relate to their programmer while it's running?


And about me being educated... meh. I'm not trying to preach "the truth" here. Humanity knows so very little.
It's just people who try to oppose what we already do know for silly personal reasons who get me on the fence.
And yes, it really is nice to talk about this with all of you in such a respectful manner.


As for provoking tohughts...

I wondered what would happen if all the world's leaders were flown up to the International Space Station and were made to stand at a window, viewing Earth. What would go through their minds, seeing that small blue ball floating in space? Would they realize that we're all brothers (and sisters) on this planet and that we should stop bickering and killing each other? Would that unique perspective suddenly change their minds and, therefore, change our future for the better?
They should play Fate Of The World. ;) And/or watch Symphony of Science (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vioZf4TjoUI). :)


If only more people knew how good it feels to do something for another person without regard of what they might get in return
Actually, everyone does nothing but things where he gets or at least expects something in return. The "good" people are those wired in a way that this kind of action gives them a positive inner response. But that's another philosophical subject.

defboy99
05-26-2011, 08:16 AM
@ bonobo – A sincere thanks. This is me; it’s who I really am, and honestly that’s all I can be. You know, the sum of all parts of our lives create who we are at the present, including all the hard times and good times. I’ll be the first to admit I have a lot of problems in my life, but I do the best I can. :)

@ Laurrrr – You’ve begun an interesting thread here, and I, too, am glad it didn’t devolve into an all-out religious war. Nothing good ever comes of that. It’s good to expose ourselves to differing opinions—how else can we learn as humans if we think we already know everything? Lots of good opinions and information here.

@ yerky – Yes, if a Christian is convinced that his friends or family members might end up in a bad situation in the afterlife, it is a responsibility of that person to do what he can, but it has to be done in a loving, respectful manner. Jamming food down a person’s throat when he’s not hungry will cause a gag reflex. Trying to force one’s opinion on another person this way will also cause a gag reflex and will usually result in an argument with bad feelings on both sides. The best someone can do is sit down with that person and just talk to him, find out exactly how he feels, exactly where he’s at in his life, and then share his own personal experiences with him. Perhaps something in one’s life will resonate with the other person and a deep connection will be made. The thing is, regarding faith (at least in Christianity; other religions can differ wildly), it’s a choice to believe. You will or you won’t, based on your own desire. Some folks choose to believe based on what a life of faith has wrought in another person’s life, how a spiritual conversion can change a person for the better. Others choose not to believe. An important thing to consider, though, is that at least the person has more information and can see where the Christian person is coming from. Too many “religious” people go on the attack and really give the rest of us a black eye, and it’s unfortunate. So, this really applies to any and all situations: get to know the person, understand each other, show mutual respect, and share. This needn’t only apply to someone’s spiritual future, but to all things humans experience in life, be it drug abuse/addiction, alcoholism, physical/mental illness, poverty, the death of a spouse/family member, loss of employment, homelessness, etc. Any human with a good heart will feel a responsibility to help his fellow man, no matter the situation. It’s a very good point you brought up.

@ Violos – Actually, I think you and I are fairly close regarding your Intelligent Design idea—“the possibility that some higher intelligence created this huge system we call nature with all its laws, and then hit the start button”—although I do differ in that I believe in a “hands-on” God. Too much is still unknown about so many things, as you said. The Bible has never purported to be a science textbook; rather, it’s a spiritual guide. So, while I do believe that an Intelligent Being created everything, I also believe that this Creator is still active in the lives of his creations. Not in a puppeteer sense, where He dictates our every thought and every motion, but out of a love for what He’s created, which is how The Programmer interacts with His “lines of code,” to borrow your metaphor. After all, if a programmer writes a program and it’s got an error in a line of code and the program doesn’t function properly, doesn’t the programmer dig around in the code until he finds the problem and then fix it? Metaphorically speaking, humans are lines of code or sub-routines that The Programmer searches for in order to try to remedy any problems so the program will run smoothly and harmoniously. To a Christian, God actively “seeks out” His creations out of a sense of love and a desire for a relationship with us. There’s no force of will applied here; no one is made to do anything against his will; it’s all a personal choice. A better metaphor would be a parent whose children have run away. Any good parent will search relentlessly out of love to find his children and make sure they’re safe, sound, and back home. I don’t have to describe the current state of humankind here—it’s all over the news 24 hours a day—so it goes without saying that humans can be considered “lost” to a great degree. The God I believe in loves us and therefore seeks us out in the hopes that we will accept Him of our own volition and be reconciled with Him. That’s how The Programmer interacts with his sub-routines or lines of code while the program is running. Once again, it’s my belief, and others are completely free to have other/no beliefs.

In regards to doing something in an altruistic way and not expecting a reward, you can look at it this way. Some folks might help someone but demand payment/trade of some sort. If a transaction is made, goods or services change hands and both people move on with their lives. However, sometimes one person will help another person for free, out of the goodness of his heart, even refusing payment of any sort, and afterwards both people will move on with their lives, but things might just be a little different for both people from that point on, you know? The smallest act of kindness can change the entire world for someone else. And yes, there is a payoff for the helper: a warm feeling inside for having done something for a fellow human. My point was that too many people insist on some kind of reward for doing anything, be it goods, money, recognition in the press, fame, glory, etc. To me, there’s nothing quite as fulfilling as doing something nice for a complete stranger who’s down on his luck and not expecting anything in return. It’s humbling and well worth the effort, but yes, I get a good reward, too. :)

Medea Fleecestealer
05-26-2011, 02:35 PM
Lol, there's only one major Western based religion, I'll give you a hint; the Islam is not Western based.

Furthermore, Mercedes Lackey didn't get it. Only if you truly feel that there is no true way, than you can say that kind of stuff - but even than forcing people not to force - is hypocrite.
What's more, if someone is convinced that his friends will end up in a bad position in the afterlife; wouldn't it be selfish to just sit idly by?

Isn't it, yerkyerk? Both Christianity and Islam grew out of Judaism and other beliefs in the same area of the world, so if Islam isn't then neither is Christianity. The some of the earliest Christians were Egyptians and the Coptic Church is probably the oldest Christian based religion in the world, despite what the Vatican would like you to believe. Really both religions are Middle Eastern in origin and the true Western religions would be those of the various Native American/South American peoples.

I didn't say no true way, it is no one true way, i.e. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Wicca, etc., are all true ways. How you decide to worship, or not if that is your preference, is entirely a matter for the individual and no one and no religion should try and force them to do otherwise.

You can only be there for friends and family to support them as they make their own decisions for their own life. IF you feel they might be interested in what you have to say, then ask them first and if they say no don't take it any further. But if you feel they wouldn't then don't try and push them in the direction you'd like them to go. It's not your decision to make. It may be that it just isn't the right time and they may want to follow up later, but again that is their decision. You've offered, don't keep pressing the point. You might well ruin that friendship you are so eager to save.