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Old 2009-09-23, 11:57   Link #1941
Cipher
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Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
Erm if you read carefully, I included the unattainable within my statement. What I am basically saying is that most of our decisions are made by views soaked in black or white. A child soldier in Sierra Leone might feel that same way because he feels that he had no choice. What I have written is a generic mentality set which actually applies to most, if not all. The needle doesn't symbolise achieving a goal, it simply symbolises purpose in life as defined by one. There are so many ways to find the needle (metal detector, raiding, etc), but it is still up to one to choose.
Honestly, I'm actually still trying to understand what your point is...but here's what I understand. Your way of thinking makes it feel like there really is a choice and the explanation for the choice is vague. When people are faced with the mentality of "pain or live", as experienced by majority, that's clearly a no-choice. There is no vague thinking...there's just one direct route. There is no time to think about external reasons, your stomach's growling.

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Fantgirl, I think you really need to define your commitment, we have lots of people throwing words in here and it begins to derail into something which looks like a mess.
She's stating that she has no commitment--pretty absurd (IMO)..but interesting.
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Old 2009-09-23, 12:15   Link #1942
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Originally Posted by Cipher View Post
Lots of atheists here(reminds me of japan). But I think most of the people who declared they're atheists are, in truth, actually agnostics. I mean... since all our scientific explanations regarding the origins of the world are all based on theoretical assumptions, denying the possibility of a supernatural being existence is a bit hard. Then again, Existence of God could possibly be a scientific theory itself. I, myself, think agnosticism to be the most intellectual/scientific stand.
All of the atheists are agnostic, save for maybe a minority of gnostic atheists of which I am yet to meet any. Gnostic theists are a bit more common because they can say that they have a source of absolute truths. For an atheist to claim the same, it would be kind of silly.

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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Apatheistic. Yes, I just made that word up.
I'm quite certain that I have heard the word used for the same position before, I think they use it.
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Old 2009-09-23, 12:48   Link #1943
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Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
TinyRedLeaf, you seem to have taken over the role of the sow scolding her piglets.
Because the scolding is necessary.

As I've said, disbelief is easy. You simply choose not to believe. It requires zero effort. Wholehearted belief, on the other hand, is immensely difficult, requiring a level of commitment that few members here seem to appreciate. We are unfortunate in this forum because we are yet to have someone of faith come up to explain why he believes. We are yet to have someone who has studied his religion closely come up to tell us why his beliefs are not trivial.

Thus we have this imbalance, where it seems as though an atheist outlook is the only reasonable way to approach life. Live long enough, meet enough people, and you begin to realise that is a load of bullshit. Anyone who is worth meeting and learning from believes something. It is what motivates him, an idealism born either from religious faith or secular ideology. It doesn't matter where he stands in the spectrum. What matters is the conviction that drives him.

What I especially dislike is this tendency to deny religion simply because it appears "cool" to do so. It smacks of misplaced pride because it doesn't take much to show that many of these so-called "atheists" have not carefully considered what it means to lead an existence without a grand purpose.

Do they fully understand what such a position entails? Do they realise that it means taking full responsibility for each and every one of their actions? That, if they make mistake, there is no one to blame but themselves? There is no God. There is no excuse.

What does it mean to take full responsibility for your thought and actions? I see little of such commitment coming from the self-professed atheists of this board. It's one thing to call people of faith deluded. It's quite another thing to find a productive alternative to that delusion, especially if we already start from the premise that there are things that we would never know. Anything we choose to believe is already potentially a delusion, but so what? It is better to have a delusion that motivates us to be more than we can be, than to have none at all.

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Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
It's obvious that you spent more thoughts on the meaning of life than most people here. And in that regard you are certainly capable of outsmarting people who have just started their adult life, if at all. But instead just stamping answers with "wrong, try again" why aren't you trying to give us some insights.
My philosophy to life is broadly Western. I believe in the value of scientific inquiry, in finding rational answers to empirical questions. My approach to aesthetics is, I recently discovered, influenced heavily by thinkers who owe an intellectual debt to Schopenhauer, Nietzche and Camus.

Camus' views on existentialism is particularly interesting, especially his argument for the meaning of life in the absence of God:
Camus is interested in Sisyphus' thoughts when marching down the mountain, to start anew. This is the truly tragic moment, when the hero becomes conscious of his wretched condition. He does not have hope, but "[t]here is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn". Acknowledging the truth will conquer it; Sisyphus, just like the absurd man, keeps pushing.
In his view, life is absurd. We have no hope of salvation, and yet we continue pushing. And ironically enough, it is through that struggle that we find meaning.

That, in short, is the tragedy of the human condition. That, in short, also describes the nobility of the human spirit. We insist on trying even when there is little prospect of success.

Consider any scientific endeavour that starts from a bare-bones hypothesis. At this point, we don't even know if the hypothesis will hold, or whether the subsequent experiments we doggedly conduct will prove anything useful. And yet we persist. Why? Because the act of questioning is in itself a worthwhile pursuit. The pursuit of knowledge is an end in itself, the very definition of what it means to be human: the need to know.

Therefore, to go through life with apathy is, to me, simply unacceptable. Such individuals is a waste of space and resources, a waste of the precious gift of life. Even the lowest man yearns to be something more, and yet we have perfectly capable people choosing apathy instead? A travesty! Everyone believes something. It's only a matter of whether he is able to articulate it and, more importantly, whether he is willing to make the effort to commit to his beliefs.

=======

My personal ethics, on the other hand, are heavily influenced by Confucian thought, starting very simply from the golden rule of reciprocity: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." But Confucian ethics is more than just a moral guide. Understood completely, it describes an entire way of life.

It stems from the basic understanding that we all owe a duty to one another: to yourself, to your family, to your state and ultimately to the "Way". A leader is responsible for his people as much as his people are responsible to their leader. Before you can govern a country, you must first govern a family. Before you can govern a family, you must first govern yourself. To govern yourself, study. Learn from the examples of others, learn from history. Identify your bad habits and take active steps to eliminate them.

Why is any of this important? Confucius was, quite possibly, China's first agnostic thinker. He doesn't outright deny the possibility of a higher power, but hinted that its existence (or non-existence) is irrelevant to the concerns of our present lives. We have enough problems, as it were, to occupy us for our entire lifetimes — let's think about the problems of the next life, if there is one, when we come to it.

What is the "Way" as Confucius understood it? This he never elaborated, but it can be extrapolated. It's about living in harmony with your community, with your environment. It's about giving back as much as you are given. It is a way of life that requires total commitment, to be beholden to others as much as they are beholden to you.

In short, it is not an easy life to lead. It requires effort. But anything that is worth doing is worth doing well. If it doesn't take effort then, quite simply, it's not a worthwhile achievement.
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Old 2009-09-23, 13:05   Link #1944
Vexx
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Hmmmm, atheism does NOT require "zero effort" any more than being part of any spiritual faith. Its a false assertion to say disbelief is easy. It took me decades of study and thinking to arrive at the position I'm in now. It would have been much easier to just splash around in my safety pen of the religion I was raised in.

I agree that far too many people don't *really* think about their location on the religious/philosophical map and why they're there. Part of the purpose of this thread is to get people thinking about WHY they believe what they do. Does your religion explain the universe to you or does it just give you a checklist on how to live daily life? Or both?

On a separate note: altruism has been shown to be a survival trait -- its enlightened self-interest. You do something for the community and the odds are they'll help you when you need it. A number of species that depend on social groups exhibit this trait. Some aspects of religion are universal in that each documents or encodes this altruism. Other aspects of religion concern trying to make sense of a universe in a pre-science mode (wow... something really powerful must make that lightning bolt. Anything that moves must have intent because I have intent, etc). Hierarchical aspects of some religions seem to spring from some humans wanting to have a "special channel to the gods" so they can direct daily life. Each aspect is really separate but it gets difficult discussing religion because all have been conflated into a big ball of Katamari.

For me... at the present time -
science explains my universe and how it works, I can change my working model as new data arrives but the methodology has proven utterly sound.
zen buddhism helps inform me on how to live daily life though its interlaced with a code of chivalry (how to treat other people).
Animism (e.g. in the form of Shinto or Keltic folk beliefs) provide a colorful descriptive way of recognizing and respecting the motive forces in the universe. I don't actually think dust devils are "alive" or "sentient", for example, but they're an example of complexity arising from simplicity. I don't actually believe in "blue smoke", pixies, or goblins but they're an evocative way of describing various phenomena. I'm an example of complexity arising from simplicity myself - as transient as the dust devils in some ways.

Last edited by Vexx; 2009-09-23 at 13:17.
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Old 2009-09-23, 13:11   Link #1945
TinyRedLeaf
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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
Hmmmm, atheism does NOT require "zero effort" any more than being part of any spiritual faith. Its a false assertion to say disbelief is easy. It took me decades of study and thinking to arrive at the position I'm in now. It would have been much easier to just splash around in my safety pen of the religion I was raised in.
That's precisely my point.

If atheism merely involved not believing in supernatural powers, then it's hardly a worthwhile philosophical position to take. Having rejected the God hypothesis, what is the alternative? If one cannot provide an alternative, then why reject God?

That, I argue, is the first question that any aspiring atheist should ask. Rejection is easy. But what comes after the rejection? That is for each and every non-believer to ask himself. The answer can come only from within and not from others.
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Old 2009-09-23, 13:21   Link #1946
Proto
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My personal ethics, on the other hand, are heavily influenced by Confucian thought, starting very simply from the golden rule of reciprocity: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." But Confucian ethics is more than just a moral guide. Understood completely, it describes an entire way of life.
Completely agreed here, but you don't have to be so exotic in presenting your beliefs though. (unless you selected Confucius because he was one of the first to arrive at such a conclusion) you could just as well quote some pre socratic philosopher, a french philosopher from the enlightenment period, or about any humanist, secular humanists included. Most civilizations have eventually had their own Confucius, or their philosopher that has come to understand that social self interest and altruism are one and the same. Which is normally the conclusion that any self exploring agnostic that does not end up suiciding or becoming a cynic will eventually arrive to, even if its not so elaborated as our great philosophy masters'.

Because when we think back to it, such a conclusion is just a rationalisation of our most basic gregarious instincts. It's just that we as intelligent beings like to make a fuzz (read: religion) out of something so simple.
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Old 2009-09-23, 13:26   Link #1947
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Originally Posted by Proto View Post
Completely agreed here, but you don't have to be so exotic in presenting your beliefs though. (unless you selected Confucius because he was one of the first to arrive at such a conclusion) you could just as well quote some pre socratic philosopher, a french philosopher from the enlightenment period, or about any humanist, secular humanists included. Most civilizations have eventually had their own Confucius, or their philosopher that has come to understand that social self interest and altruism are one and the same. Which is normally the conclusion that any self exploring agnostic that does not end up suiciding or becoming a cynic will eventually arrive to, even if its not so elaborated as our great philosophy masters'.
It sounds "exotic" only because of the simple failure of the English language to encompass Chinese philosophy. This is something I've been frequently debating with a colleague of mine. There is something cold and clinical about English that fails to capture the poetic simplicity of Chinese expression, Chinese thought.

Confucius is most certainly not the first to adopt such an agnostic position, but he is the thinker who speaks most directly to my heart, because I come from the same culture. That is, quite simply, the way it is — an accident of birth. By this, I mean no disrespect to early Greek philosophers and all the Western thinkers who have continued that tradition of thought. I simply do not relate to them the way I do with my own heritage, that's all.
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Old 2009-09-23, 13:30   Link #1948
Proto
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Oh sorry, I didn't notice you were from Singapore yourself. In that case I retract my exotic comments and apologise.
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Old 2009-09-23, 13:40   Link #1949
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I've spent a long time thinking about this over the course of my life to simply come to the conclusion that I'm an "Agnostic Deist". I believe there is some kind of watchmaker out there (god/allah/insert diety) but that he/she doesn't move the hands of said watch. I'm content to find out just who this watchmaker is after I die.

I don't actively practice any religion anymore but I do feel that I live a pretty spiritual existence, I just don't feel the need to do so within a structured group. My favorite way of putting it is that I try my best to tend to my own garden.
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Old 2009-09-23, 13:48   Link #1950
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I find it ridiculous for people to expect the creator to interfere with their lives all the time. This can make God only two things. Someone who burges in our lives even when we don't want too or someone we all worship because we are too stupid to solve our problems by ourselves. If God exists, he runs the universe. He doesn't mess with the rules he made himself.
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Old 2009-09-23, 16:13   Link #1951
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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
Hmmmm, atheism does NOT require "zero effort" any more than being part of any spiritual faith. Its a false assertion to say disbelief is easy. It took me decades of study and thinking to arrive at the position I'm in now. It would have been much easier to just splash around in my safety pen of the religion I was raised in.
This is only true for those of us who were actively raised with some form of religion though, what about all the people who are atheist/agnostic who were never raised to believe in anything religious? No human being has ever been born a Christian/Muslim/Buddhist, etc... For people raised in a completely secular environment with only passing references to the various religions of the world they most certainly would NOT have any effort in having their non-belief because thats just how they always were.
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Old 2009-09-23, 16:25   Link #1952
Proto
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... to be truthful I guess I am included there given that all of my family is atheist and only assisted to religious rites because of social image. Then again my parents always encouraged self introspection on me so I guess its compensated. Yay secular environments.
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Old 2009-09-23, 17:10   Link #1953
Vexx
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Originally Posted by Icehawk View Post
This is only true for those of us who were actively raised with some form of religion though, what about all the people who are atheist/agnostic who were never raised to believe in anything religious? No human being has ever been born a Christian/Muslim/Buddhist, etc... For people raised in a completely secular environment with only passing references to the various religions of the world they most certainly would NOT have any effort in having their non-belief because thats just how they always were.
My point was actually that people tend to rock around in the crib they were born with which matches your statement -- sorry if that wasn't clear. It is just that there are actually rather few people in the world numerically who are raised in a purely secular or humanist environment.
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Old 2009-09-23, 17:26   Link #1954
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
If atheism merely involved not believing in supernatural powers, then it's hardly a worthwhile philosophical position to take. Having rejected the God hypothesis, what is the alternative? If one cannot provide an alternative, then why reject God?

That, I argue, is the first question that any aspiring atheist should ask. Rejection is easy. But what comes after the rejection? That is for each and every non-believer to ask himself. The answer can come only from within and not from others.
One alternative would be believing there aren't supernatural powers and some things are much more simple than they seem. Like, in the end we're all just composed of matter, which itself originated from the Big Bang. When we die we'll decompose and our elements will be recycled. I guess you could take from that a belief in reincarnation.

Except it has a logic to it, and it's more sensible than believing in supernatural powers.

For me it's more like acceptance. It would be nice if there was a God, humans were his children, in turn giving us a grand purpose in life. But in the end we will probably have to settle with merely "being".
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Old 2009-09-23, 21:12   Link #1955
iLney
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Originally Posted by The Brothers Karamazov; Ivan to Alyosha
I accept God, but not the world. And so I accept God and am glad to, and what's more, I accept His wisdom, His purpose which are utterly beyond our ken; I believe in the underlying order and the meaning of life; I believe in the eternal harmony in which they say we shall one day be blended. . . . - but though all that may come to pass, I don't accept it. I won't accept it.
I may not have read much, but person who uttered this was the only real atheist I've ever seen.
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Old 2009-09-23, 21:38   Link #1956
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I'm Catholic.
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Old 2009-09-23, 22:06   Link #1957
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I'm Catholic.
And?...

TLR and Vexx make very good points. The choice is not as important as the reason. It is silly to believe in something mindlessly, or to profess that you believe in something without ever giving thought to it.

Coming in here and stating your affiliation does little to serve any point of conversation.
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Old 2009-09-23, 22:17   Link #1958
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
As I've said, disbelief is easy. You simply choose not to believe. It requires zero effort.
Either side of the coin can be easy.

I'm not sure it has anything to do with age, as has been brought up multiple times. I'm 20 but at the age of 17 I had already read Polkinghorne, Nietzsche, Camus, Dawkins, Jung, O'Malley, etc. I had an understanding of the anthropic principle, Ockham's Razor, and had a fairly high-end Catholic education and the knowledge of Christianity that goes with it. I can respect a thinking theist who objectively weighs the evidence and have no respect for blind atheists. What more will my age bring? What revelations are to come that could somehow shake this stance?

And, most importantly, why must there be reason behind life? I simply do not understand this viewpoint. Is the vast, beautiful world we live on, not enough by itself?
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Old 2009-09-23, 22:32   Link #1959
Cipher
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Because the scolding is necessary.

As I've said, disbelief is easy. You simply choose not to believe. It requires zero effort. Wholehearted belief, on the other hand, is immensely difficult, requiring a level of commitment that few members here seem to appreciate. We are unfortunate in this forum because we are yet to have someone of faith come up to explain why he believes. We are yet to have someone who has studied his religion closely come up to tell us why his beliefs are not trivial.
If you really want a real person of religious faith to explain his strong conviction and the complexity of beliefs,....um, that's gonna take, I don't know, 5 pages?. And besides, that type of self-expression will worsen our relations, things would get "preachy" and, as you clearly know, several would merely misunderstand it as "I'm right and your wrong, so follow me!". For example, I'm a Muslim(I'm a terrorist rawr!)---and because of that---If I get too religiously emotional, I'd start getting the want of converting others to my religion(Its an emotional impulse). Basically, what you want is a flame war.

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What I especially dislike is this tendency to deny religion simply because it appears "cool" to do so. It smacks of misplaced pride because it doesn't take much to show that many of these so-called "atheists" have not carefully considered what it means to lead an existence without a grand purpose.
I see. So this is the recent trend of youth...It sounds reasonable. I have to express that I'm quite proud of the fact that respecting others' beliefs is a part of my Islamic belief, for "saving"(excuse me for my mentality of "I am right", that is the the strength of my belief) others requires understanding others first.

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What does it mean to take full responsibility for your thought and actions? I see little of such commitment coming from the self-professed atheists of this board. It's one thing to call people of faith deluded. It's quite another thing to find a productive alternative to that delusion, especially if we already start from the premise that there are things that we would never know. Anything we choose to believe is already potentially a delusion, but so what? It is better to have a delusion that motivates us to be more than we can be, than to have none at all.
I'm honored that an individual, especially from the majority(atheist) of this forum, understands this. But I still think this isn't as universal as you see it.. but it does directly relate to survivability so perhaps...

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Therefore, to go through life with apathy is, to me, simply unacceptable. Such individuals is a waste of space and resources, a waste of the precious gift of life. Even the lowest man yearns to be something more, and yet we have perfectly capable people choosing apathy instead? A travesty! Everyone believes something. It's only a matter of whether he is able to articulate it and, more importantly, whether he is willing to make the effort to commit to his beliefs.
There's no reason to anger, because there really is no apathy. Its a paradox. (yeah I need help with this.)

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Why is any of this important? Confucius was, quite possibly, China's first agnostic thinker. He doesn't outright deny the possibility of a higher power, but hinted that its existence (or non-existence) is irrelevant to the concerns of our present lives. We have enough problems, as it were, to occupy us for our entire lifetimes — let's think about the problems of the next life, if there is one, when we come to it.
This is a serious error on Confucius' part. He doesn't understand that the present is directly related to the future. The problems of now may already be overburdening as he had described, but in truth, the problems of now are actually the problems of the future (vice versa). Its a matter of what problem needs more attention---as always, it depends on the setting.


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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
Hmmmm, atheism does NOT require "zero effort" any more than being part of any spiritual faith. Its a false assertion to say disbelief is easy. It took me decades of study and thinking to arrive at the position I'm in now. It would have been much easier to just splash around in my safety pen of the religion I was raised in.
Its quite hard for us to trust other people's "experiences" within this setting. (Just look at my age.)


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Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
I find it ridiculous for people to expect the creator to interfere with their lives all the time. This can make God only two things. Someone who burges in our lives even when we don't want too or someone we all worship because we are too stupid to solve our problems by ourselves. If God exists, he runs the universe. He doesn't mess with the rules he made himself.
And what religion says God interfere with our lives all the time? Too much interference would only contradict with the prior idea of God giving us the "ability to think for ourselves". To connect with my own religion, "we are here to be tested."

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Originally Posted by Kakashi View Post
One alternative would be believing there aren't supernatural powers and some things are much more simple than they seem. Like, in the end we're all just composed of matter, which itself originated from the Big Bang. When we die we'll decompose and our elements will be recycled. I guess you could take from that a belief in reincarnation.

Except it has a logic to it, and it's more sensible than believing in supernatural powers.
No offense, but this is what I mean by lacking intuition...nothing wrong with that, It's quite practical but.. just too "inside the box", that's all.

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Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
Either side of the coin can be easy.

I'm not sure it has anything to do with age, as has been brought up multiple times. I'm 20 but at the age of 17 I had already read Polkinghorne, Nietzsche, Camus, Dawkins, Jung, O'Malley, etc. I had an understanding of the anthropic principle, Ockham's Razor, and had a fairly high-end Catholic education and the knowledge of Christianity that goes with it. I can respect a thinking theist who objectively weighs the evidence and have no respect for blind atheists.
For one, it is, in my opinion, wrong to respect someone who has no respect. Respect must be universal. Everything---nature, children, elders, youth, adults, animals---must be respected(at different degrees of course). Because every creation is a creation of God.
Quote:
What more will my age bring? What revelations are to come that could somehow shake this stance?

And, most importantly, why must there be reason behind life? I simply do not understand this viewpoint. Is the vast, beautiful world we live on, not enough by itself?
If your truly satisfied with the current world, we cannot help but feel disappointed. This world is not "beautiful". Come on people, why don't you, for even an event of a second, view the world on the face of poverty? of the starving? of those majority who couldn't care less for "beliefs" but for shelter?

Last edited by Cipher; 2009-09-23 at 23:09.
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Old 2009-09-23, 22:48   Link #1960
iLney
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@ChainLegacy: Can you really settle for such pathetic way of life? I mean, living for the sake of living?
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