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brainout

Do ya want GOD -- or not?

Here's something I've noticed among us humans no matter which faith or no-faith we espouse: we all too often base our decisions on the people we see. Seems to me that when a person 'grows up' in some religious milieu and then finds something wrong with it, he's too prone to reject GOD along with his newfound iconoclasm against the religious idea.

Or, too prone to select a new faith which seems to him the opposite of the old one he rejected.
Or, tired from all the struggle and just wants to give up thinking about it at all.
Or, under too much pressure by some other group he likes, and really just wants to belong to that other group, and has to choose between the old beliefs he has, and the antithetical ones of the new group.

In all this, the desire to find and know "God", if He exists, is lost, derailed. So all our many protestations of being atheists, agnostics, this-religion or that-religion, are kinda hypocritical. We don't mean to be hypocritical. But the psychological defense mechanisms have a lot more to do with our selections and rebellions, than maybe we admit.

So it seems like the proper question is, "Do ya want God, or not?" If "yes", then ask the ceiling, "God, which one are you?" and you should get an answer, so keep alert. If "no", then you don't need to make excuses about what faith or group or non-faith you join, using "God" as the excuse. Just go where you will. Seems like if we could admit that for many, the honest answer is "no", we coud get rid of a lot of religious fighting, which in truth is about humans belonging to one group or another, God having nothing to do with it. Let's just say that, then, and take "God" out of it?

Discuss? Debate?
norwegian

brainout wrote:
...we all too often base our decisions on the people we see.

That does seem to be the case doesn't it. Man is after all a social creature, akways defining his place in the universe in relation to where everyone else is/should be. I haven't met anyone who believed in god without having the idea planted in him somewhere along the way, together with the idea of a happy hunting ground in the sky that everybody craves for but from which no one has ever come to tell the tale.

Quote:
In all this, the desire to find and know "God", if He exists, is lost, derailed.

Again, there's that presumption that people are naturally predisposed to seeking and knowing "god". Lets dissect that for a minute. Is this desire really inborn or is it cultural? What if I could show that there exist entire generations of people who never thought of a creator-god?

Prehistoric man through his cave-wall drawings tell us he is spiritual. While he believes spirits exist and affect his destiny on earth by allowing a good hunt or stopping volcanoes from erupting, I don't recall any stories about man being the son of god or man being a creation of some deity. Of course, the mind wonders why god had to wait until Moses showed up to tell his story, as if to imply that man is incapable of understanding god before that time.

Now you can't describe present-day god without telling a story of a complex hierarchy of prophets, demons, angels and hidden meanings. Although this may be beyond the comprehension of simple cavemen, one should note that there were many people like the Buddha who appeared a thousand years before Moses was born. Man was without doubt more than capable of understanding complex relationships then.

This is why I find it more plausible to believe the present-day creator-god idea as a modern invention. He's relevant only to those whose views don't go beyond the time of Moses.

As to the question do I want god or not? A more relevant question to me is, does god want me or not? Because man, it would seem, has been around a lot longer than the Abrahamic creator-god.
brainout

Well, norweigan, I think there are two things going on here:

1.  The Original Information from God (presuming there is one, k), and
2.  What man DOES with that information.

For the sake of argument, presume God exists.  Surely any information provided would be morphed into man's own ideas, and surely also we've seen that morphing.  From the very beginning you see some extremely primitive ideas of "god" side-by-side with some very sophisticated ideas.  Some cultures make animals and springs "god", versus others which define God as Infinite and Unseeable, Maker of All.  That idea is as old as mankind, and by no means is restricted to what are today called "Abrahamic" religions.  So that argues a continuity of many competing ideas of God from the getgo, varying by cultural maturity.

So it becomes a question of tracing back to source, what was that original information.  

Since you don't think God exists, that tracing will not be relevant to you.  For those who do think some version of God exists, maybe the tracing will be relevant.

Moi, I prefer to just look up at the ceiling and cut to the chase:  "God, if you're up there, I'd like to know you."  But then again, I've always been a person who doesn't like to waste time.

Bet you don't, either. Smile
Sanitarium

Re: Do ya want GOD -- or not?

brainout wrote:
Seems to me that when a person 'grows up' in some religious milieu and then finds something wrong with it, he's too prone to reject GOD along with his newfound iconoclasm against the religious idea.  

While I agree with this, I must point out that if God were to 'speak' or have a 'book' in which his words are, one would hope that they would be clear. Yet the religious books I see have information that is open to much interpretation and abuse. Why the problem? If God wrote the book, would he not be aware that we would not be speaking the same language in this day? Does this mean that we should all go and learn ALL of the original languages in order to determine whether or not the words in that book are correct or not? Who has time for that (how many religions are there?). Would it not be easier to make the message stone cold CLEAR in the first place? For example, instead of saying "spare the rod, spoil the child" why not say "an undisciplined child will be spoiled" and/or "don't beat the heck out of your children/wife because I DO NOT WANT you to"? See? Its a LOT easier to twist the first instead of the second options. btw. I know many christians who have twisted this particular part this way - so don't say it doesn't happen. The "people will sin" answer doesn't cut it either, really. Why is it so unclear?

brainout wrote:

So it seems like the proper question is, "Do ya want God, or not?"  If "yes", then ask the ceiling, "God, which one are you?" and you should get an answer, so keep alert.


You just answered your own question there. Perception is not universal. Heck, many mentally ill people think (a)thy are God or (b)that "God" has spoken to them. We should not have to rely on such a faulty process for "proof" of God. Reading the testimonies of various "converts" of many different faiths, points out the problems with using this method.  "keep alert" is the indicator of the problem. As if we could "miss" a message from God hehehe. This is like saying lucky Moses was "alert" - he saw the bush burning in front of him and heard the 'booming voice". Sorry didn't mean to make fun - that statement made me laugh!

What do you think?

-Sani
brainout

Hi, Sani!

First, you're asking why it's so hard to learn.  Second, you're asking how reliable would be the answer you get if you just ASK God for an answer.

I submit that both things are needed, and that the reason for both is due to free will.

Upshot:  you can know God as much or as little as you want to know Him.

Here's an analogy.  I do complicated legal documents and accounting for a living, related to qualified retirement plans in the United States.  There are 40,000 pages of laws on the topic, endless IRS rulings and court cases.  

Now, my clients don't want to know all that, so when they adopt a retirement plan for their employees, they hire me.  It's MY desire to know all that, so I study a lot.  It's their desire to just have the plan do what they want it to do, so they know very little.

I think it's the same way with God.  If you want to be saved, well:  just believe ONCE that Christ paid for your sins, and you go to heaven, period.  You never have to read the Bible, you don't have to know how it works, you will probably be as moral as you'd otherwise be, anyway.

BUT IF YOU WANT TO KNOW more, it's available.

Some people don't care what's in the Bible.  Some don't care what the SEEMING contradictions are, and some do.  Ok:  so if you care, you'll investigate.  If you don't, you won't.

Love would want freedom.  Freedom to know more, and to know less.

Of course, there are consequences.  Some things require you learn more, and you get more if you do.   But the baseline in Christianity is, just believe ONCE and you go to heaven forever.  So there's no requirement that you learn or do anything more than that.

Now:  it so happens that Bible scholarship and teaching has been pretty bad.  One of the problems is that back in the first century, people could read Bible like you could read the simplest website on the internet, for the educational standard was universally in that mainstream method of writing.  But within a century AFTER Bible was completed, the teaching of its languages began to decline.

Every 200 years or so, interest in what Bible actually says in those texts, revived.  Then, died again.  The last rise began circa 1830's, so far as I can tell, with discoveries of our best Bible manuscripts, Codex Siniaticus and Vaticanus (which due to Tregelles, was forced to be published by the Vatican in 1889).

With the result that, over the centuries we've lost our understanding of what it says, so that UNLESS you dig into the original-langauge texts, you will have a misunderstanding.

That's what we're witnessing today:  a revival of interest and re-learning.

Again, people are free to reject or accept, so also the degree to which you want to know, you get.

Hence the combined approach is needed:  scholarship to the extent you really want to SEE FOR YOURSELF what Bible says, but -- "hey, God, am I hallucinating the MEANING I see?"  -- and then you TEST your answer sanely.  You use 1John 1:9 in case you've sinned (I breathe that verse constantly, for I'm very impatient), and that means you're filled with the Holy Spirit for LEARNING -- it's not something you can feel. (Nerd note: Greek verb katharizw means purified, a keyverb used of OT Temple filling, in 1John 1:7 and :9, hearkening back to the LXX of Isaiah 53:10, the Cross). 

So that means He will enable you to UNDERSTAND what is otherwise not clear.  For obviously if you can know as much as you WANT to know, and God is Infinite, then the text will NOT be clear, but ever deeper in meaning as you examine it.  Bottomless.  Well, then: if you want to know it better, you need God's Power.  Which you get, so long as you're using 1John 1:9 as needed (believers only).  (Another Nerd note: If you've never believed in Christ, all you can learn from Bible accurately, is the Gospel (John 3:16 or Gen15:6), and some of the moral laws.  That's all covered in 1 Corinthians 2 and Romans 1-2.  Actually, you can learn the moral laws with no book, the ideas are part of human nature.)

Not, like the dingdongs who think God ordered them to act silly, like the guy in 1 Nephi 4:6 (Book of Mormon) who thought God ordered  him to murder, then dress up in the murdered man's clothes, then claim that God Himself (Holy Spirit) IMITATED the dead man's voice so to lie to the servant in the victim's house and steal stuff...

Is there a better way?  I can't trust my reading of Bible, I need 1 John 1:9 and constant asking, doubting myself.  Testing what I think I read.  I just want to know the answers all the time.  Someone else, well -- we all vary.

If you want me to explain more, I will.  Good to see you again!
Sanitarium

brainout wrote:
Hi, Sani!

First, you're asking why it's so hard to learn.  Second, you're asking how reliable would be the answer you get if you just ASK God for an answer.

You got the second one right, but the first one not. This is apparently "eternal choice" stuff we're dealing with. WHY didn't God make it CLEAR? Again, "men will sin" (free will) is not really an answer. For example if I wrote a book that I *knew* was going to be translated into other languages eventually, I might forego brevity ad localisms in favour of understandability in other languages. ie. If I was writing a book just for Australians I might include phrases such as "keep your nose in your own backyard" or "its like trekking to Alice Springs on a unicycle" - because my contemporaries/fellow Aussies would understand what I'm talking about. If I knew it as for a wider audience I may simply state "mind your own business" or "trekking through Outback Australia is an arduous journey."

One would imagine if they were "god" they would specifically spell out the "Do's" and "dont's" in such a way that it can be understood clearly by the readers. Let us say someone raised as an atheist were to study religions. My point was that in order to accurately judge between them, they would have to learn ALL of the 'original languages' of the various religious texts and THEN make careful study of all religious texts available.

This eternal destination should not be a matter of "<such and such a religion> got to me first and it seemed right at the time." or "I need 6 PHD's in <some subject>" in order to understand what God is saying. Yet this is apparently what you are stating, and Muslims do, in order to make an informed decision on your respective God's. While it is true that anyone who follows a translation of a text (ie. the "swear by KJV'ers") is putting their eternity and understanding of "God" on the translators, if God admits humans are fallible, then why should this have to be a factor?

brainout wrote:

I think it's the same way with God.  If you want to be saved, well:  just believe ONCE that Christ paid for your sins, and you go to heaven, period.  You never have to read the Bible, you don't have to know how it works, you will probably be as moral as you'd otherwise be, anyway.

See? I understand this point, but this is a big sticking point. God is saying "accept this ONE thing and you are saved. The rest of that book? Meh, interpret it however you want!" Meaning that you can mess up as many people as you like along the way with your garbage, lead many away from 'the path' but so long as you believe this ONE THING you are saved.

Perhaps this is why Muhammad set up the "good deeds" means salvation aspect of Islam - the idea above is absurd! (sorry)

brainout wrote:

But the baseline in Christianity is, just believe ONCE and you go to heaven forever.  So there's no requirement that you learn or do anything more than that.

Please clarify this. Are you saying that any Muslim revert will go to heaven because they were born christian and believed this?

brainout wrote:

But within a century AFTER Bible was completed, the teaching of its languages began to decline.

yes, this is my point - did God not see this coming?

brainout wrote:

With the result that, over the centuries we've lost our understanding of what it says, so that UNLESS you dig into the original-langauge texts, you will have a misunderstanding.

yes but this is my whole point - in order to judge which is right and to question, we must learn any number of dead/almost dead/foreign languages? Also, same question as above.

brainout wrote:

"hey, God, am I hallucinating the MEANING I see?"  -- and then you TEST your answer sanely.

I don't understand this.

brainout wrote:

Is there a better way?  I can't trust my reading of Bible, I need 1 John 1:9 and constant asking, doubting myself.  Testing what I think I read.  I just want to know the answers all the time.  Someone else, well -- we all vary.

You are talking about someone who already believes in Christianity as "the truth" and I am not. Is this where the trouble lies? Why would an atheist use the Bible to test the bible?

brainout wrote:

If you want me to explain more, I will.  Good to see you again!

You can answer my questions/points above if you have time?

Thanks

-Sani
brainout

Hey Sani, I'll respond to you piecemeal.  I'm no good at making interspersed replies in those small forum boxes, I screw that up.  I'm typing my response in Notepad while reading your reply in the forum.  I'll individually reply as I read, with short posts.

So here's #1 response:  you asked, "Why didn't God make it CLEAR?"  The idea is for you to be in fellowship with God and learn Him as much as you're inclined to do.  It's a principle of relationship.  If I provide you with information you don't want, and it's clear, then you don't have any right to reject it.  If on the other hand I present it as a parable, then AS YOU PONDER it you'll understand it more.  But if you don't, then your responsibility for having rejected it is less.  Remember the Samaritan woman at the well?  Jesus didn't just burst in on her and yell, "I'm the Messiah!"  but instead, asked her questions, tested her desire to know more.  Then He told her.  Okay, but if something is in writing, how do you provide that same PROTECTION for free will?  You make some of the meaning clear on the surface.  Then the rest becomes clear as one thinks it over.  Then more, if one asks God for more.  I really wish I could write like that.  But I cannot.
brainout

Next, God provides teachers who can read the text.  So you get the clarity from the combination of the text itself, the teachers, and asking God.  The advantage of this method over an in-your-face text, is that you can TAKE TIME to learn it, and again you're not slammed with the answers you might yet not want to know.
brainout

Sanitarium wrote:
One would imagine if they were "god" they would specifically spell out the "Do's" and "dont's" in such a way that it can be understood clearly by the readers. Let us say someone raised as an atheist were to study religions. My point was that in order to accurately judge between them, they would have to learn ALL of the 'original languages' of the various religious texts and THEN make careful study of all religious texts available.
 No, you don't need all that.  You can reason out if God exists and what would be God's nature with no book at all.  Obviously, since there have been many centuries when there WERE no books, and many more when the books were HIDDEN (Bible, for most of its history).  You only need the Bible for understanding the WHYs better.  Else you need no book, just a desire to know, and some time to ponder over the matter.  A child can do this.   Sometimes I think you need to BE a child, to have the clarity of questionning.  We adults too often bring in all kinds of "tree" questions, and no longer see the "forest".

Sanitarium wrote:
This eternal destination should not be a matter of "<such and such a religion> got to me first and it seemed right at the time." or "I need 6 PHD's in <some subject>" in order to understand what God is saying. Yet this is apparently what you are stating, and Muslims do, in order to make an informed decision on your respective God's. While it is true that anyone who follows a translation of a text (ie. the "swear by KJV'ers") is putting their eternity and understanding of "God" on the translators, if God admits humans are fallible, then why should this have to be a factor?
  Well, it's not about religion, it's about whether God exists and whether you want a relationship with Him.   I agree with you that you don't need all that, a child's level of questionning is enough to establish the validity of yes God or no God.  People who want to feel smart will claim that you do need it, and prejudice will claim that one is stupid if one doesn't demand all kinds of non-essential information be 'answered' as a precondition.  I am not among those people.  This HAS TO BE a simple thing to determine, else all those starving Africans couldn't know.  But of course many people are not satisfied with simple answers and look down their noses at simplicity, so then for them -- complicated books need to exist to satisfy their ego need for complicated answers!

I'm a big fan of Frontline on PBS.  Many of their programs are about Africa, and I've a real soft spot for Africa.  The FAITH of those folks is amazing, puts us Western Christians to shame.  I'll never forget a missionary telling me about a guy in Cameroon who hiked 30 miles (!) just to hear an EXEGESIS tape of my pastor's.  Would I go to that trouble?  I wonder.

Then there's the PBS episode of Frontline (or one of its sibling productions) where an election was held I think in Angola, and some woman running for office kept on using Deuteronomy 28 as her platform, telling the thronged crowds that she felt the country had a destiny just like Israel did.  Now:  that woman lived in a hut where you had to sweep the DIRT FLOOR, and she was sweeping it as the PBS people interviewed her later, afterwards.  Did she know the Hebrew?  Of course not.  So why was it, she campaigned on a chapter in the Bible -- and when she talked about it, she didn't even MENTION what chapter it was, you had to know Bible VERY WELL to know what she was talking about -- why was it, the crowd understood her?  You could tell they did. They were paying attention and nodding or reacting.

Clearly one doesn't need to be a scholar, huh.
brainout

Sanitarium wrote:
See? I understand this point, but this is a big sticking point. God is saying "accept this ONE thing and you are saved. The rest of that book? Meh, interpret it however you want!" Meaning that you can mess up as many people as you like along the way with your garbage, lead many away from 'the path' but so long as you believe this ONE THING you are saved.

Perhaps this is why Muhammad set up the "good deeds" means salvation aspect of Islam - the idea above is absurd! (sorry)
 No need to apologize.  To answer this, one must start from scratch.  Pretend you're God.  You're going to make FREE WILL CREATION and as a result you know how it will turn out.  WHAT CRITERION do you create as the basis for relationship with you, when all the creation will be DUMB, cannot fathom you, unless YOU enable them to understand?  Surely you cannot use works, for what works will actually SERVE God?  Don't works serve only man, and that only for a few minutes?  If I dust my computer, I guarantee you in a few hours I'll have to do it again.  So works don't do anything.

And WHAT works can make up for something one does wrong?  What good does it do to have scales, what use would hell be, whatever damage one does -- who can really undo it?  Even a snide remark cannot be fixed, really.  Time can't be reversed.  So anything I do wrong, no amount of penance or works can ever fix it.  Especially, not to Omniscient God who must see it forever.  It's not like Omniscience ever 'forgets'.

Next, damage people do to people damages the one perpetrating the damage, just the same.  If I make a snide remark, I damage my soul.  So how much more, if I murder someone?  Ok:  but then how can that sin EVER be redressed?  After I've done it, I'm more damaged and more inclined to do it again.  Best you can do, is kill me.  But that doesn't redress anything.  Roasting in hell doesn't redress anything.  I'm not saying punishment shouldn't occur, I'm rather saying that punishment had better REDRESS the wrong done.  We in human society really can't redress the wrongs done.  Most we can do is execute a murderer.  We can't bring the dead victim, back to life.  But God has more HE can do about it, and surely hell isn't going to be the solution.  It's a necessary thing, for not everyone will want to believe in Christ.  But it doesn't solve the problem.  The Cross had to be the solution, paying for all the sins, so that hell COULD exist, given that people will still freely reject.. forever.

So scrap works as a criterion for relationship with a God who needs none.  So what else is left?  Believe.  A retarded person can believe.  A genius can believe.  Believe means "yes, I want the relationship."  Now, "believe" -- for how long?  Better be a nanosecond's worth, because if you make it any more stringent a requirement, then you got big problems.  Believe yes, then say no.  Then believe again.  Ok, if believe AT ALL is ever the option, then ONLY ONCE can it be the option, for no human being can sustain belief, if free.  Doubt is part of free will, and needed.  So to make ONGOING belief a criterion, would be cruel, stupid, pointless, and above all, unjust.  Can you come up with a better alternative?  Seriously, I'm asking.  I've been pondering this for years.
brainout

Sanitarium wrote:
Please clarify this. Are you saying that any Muslim revert will go to heaven because they were born christian and believed this?
 No one is born Christian.  That's a human expression, and has zippo to do with Bible.  You believe in Christ no matter what religion you are or no religion, and you get saved, John 3:16 didn't have any exclusions in it.  Same idea, in Genesis 15:6, the OT version (really the same, but Christ's Name wasn't known back in Abram's day).  So it doesn't matter if you're even Muslim or Buddhist or whatever, BELIEF Christ paid for your sins seals your salvation, Romans 5 is on that topic.

Next, you ask whether God knew in advance that people would stop teaching Bible so it would become hard to learn.  Of course He foreknew that.  Bible went through that same problem ever since God gave it to Moses.  Within 50 years of Joshua's death, everyone forgot what it said.  This kept on happening about every 200 years, someone would say "hey, wasn't there some BOOK God gave us?"  It's hysterical, the OT:  the people find out, they learn it, they cry over being so uninterested prior -- and then go right back to being uninterested again.  Now:  do you OVERRIDE their disinterest, or do you PRESERVE the material you provided, waiting for that next cycle of interest -- and then again gift the teachers of that RENEWED-interest generation, to understand it de novo?  Your call, what that answer should be.

Notice how all these answers can be seen if one ponders the situation by putting self in God's Place.  The Father and his kids, but the kids are allowed to rebel.  So He foreknows and foreprovides the ABILITY TO READ by empowering that DIRECTLY, via 1John 1:9 and via providing both Book and Teachers.  Notice how clever that is:  YOU MUST HAVE RAPPORT WITH VERY GOD while you read the book.  And what's the book designed to do?  TEACH you to know God better, so you can be INTIMATE with Him.  So well, now:  you need to get that intimacy up front, so you can learn more intimacy via a book which by the way requires intimacy with God Himself, because oh -- who can know a dead language?  Lol, so you need God's Brains!  Which you get, directly too, via 1John1:9.  Not a touchy feely experience, but rather an ABILITY to understand.  Talk about making lemonade out of a lemon situation!

No, I'm not asking you to believe Christianity as the truth.  But you have a Calvinist background, so I'm using that language to answer you.  I'm not asking you as an atheist to test the Bible.  An atheist doesn't need the Bible, he needs to evaluate whether God exists from his own perspective.  God knows what he needs to connect the dots to see God exists.   Some need the Bible to make that determination, others don't.  It's a personal matter at all points, pre-theism, too.  God knows what we need to see to become convinced there even is such a thing AS "God".  Then after that it's a "which God" question, and He foreknows what each person needs to see to identify which God.  See?  It's always a vertical question.  Bible is available to take you the rest of the way, but until you're sure Bible IS the Word of God, there are other steps/paths in your own journey with God.
brainout

You know, if I have the time and live long enough, I'd like to make a video game which is the equivalent of "Sims".  Instead of being god of a polity and crafting what must be that polity's rules, I'd craft a game where I decide WHAT KIND OF GOD I must represent myself as being to people, and WHAT KIND OF SALVATION I must offer.

Then I'd cycle through all the god and salvation concepts in history, proving how only one of them actually works.  Or at least, demonstrating the problems which arise from using any one of them.  Sometimes I think God can't win for losing, for if he grants us free will (true) we only hate him for it.  Typical Grand Inquisitor conclusion.

We mistake God's LOVE for cruelty, for we don't recognize that Love wants freedom, and that means standing off.  Making salvation a matter of one-time faith, but PAYING for it, since obviously it's unfair to create finite creation and EXPECT THEM to pay 'me' (as if I were god) what a) they cannot possibly provide at MY level, and b) hurt the meanwhile.  That's no fun for me either (again, pretending I'm god) -- and if I love this creation I'll make, I'd WANT to pay for it on their behalf, anyway.

Of course that gets into Trinity, for you can't have a salvific solution without it.  And that takes us off-thread, which thread I already answered  in the "apostate" forum here.

Whew.  It's more tiring than I thought, to type this much!

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