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Old 7th December 2018, 01:19 PM   #81
attempt5001
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Originally Posted by GDon View Post
I kind of went in the opposite direction. I was brought up an "apathetic atheist" (atheist but didn't really care one way or the other about the question of God) who is a skeptic, and was involved in the Australian Skeptics in my younger years. Around the age of 30, I started down the track of belief and ended up the middle-aged theist that I am today. I have a thread on this board from a few months ago where I explain why I became a theist.

I'd recommend a book called "The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian & the Risk of Commitment" by Daniel Taylor, which may address some of your concerns.

One thing to keep in mind: a lot of people on this board are what I'd call "fundy atheists". Not that they have a fundamentalist approach to their atheism, but they have their own idea of what God doesn't exist, often based on the Bible (hence the "fundamentalism"), and will argue with you on that basis. You'll probably find that you either agree with them already that the God that they disbelieve in doesn't exist, or they try to convince you that their version of God (that they don't believe in) is the only one worth considering and then rejecting. You might want to try an Apologetics board for a more broad-minded view of ideas around belief.
Thanks GDon. I'll look up your previous thread and give it a read. The book looks like it covers some helpful aspects of this discussion as well. Thanks for the link.

I understand your description of "fundy atheists". I think for some it is also cathartic to choose to endorse atheism with a certain anti-religious vigour. But overall I've been really encouraged with the thoughtful way people have engaged in this thread, much like yourself.
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:21 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
Grace? She passed away 30 years ago!

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ha ha ha. I knew that one without clicking the link
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:23 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
attempt5001, clearly you are making a sincere attempt (sorry; couldn't help it) to come to grips with your changing beliefs and perspectives. Good for you!


As you travel this road, remember that people who don't believe in / lack faith in a god, higher power, something greater, whatever you call it, are not by definition less moral or ethical than those who do believe.


Furthermore, there are religions like Buddhism that don't include the belief in a god like the one in christianity. Or maybe not in a god at all. Again, that doesn't mean they advocate unethical or immoral behavior.


(And the question of moral behavior is a difficult one. For one example, one male, one female as the basis of a family unit is not universal, neither in humans nor in animals. Sex outside of marriage -- what's that? Depends on definitions of marriage, of what counts as sex, etc.)
Thanks xterra for the encouragement and reminder. I agree 100%.
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:25 PM   #84
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
You don't have to throw out the baby with the bathwater (unless the baby is called Jesus)
Laugh. You're full of good ones, I can see.
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:29 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
That seems the most honest definition of faith. Frankly, I wish more Christians understood it as well as you do. Faith is not thinking you have proof, faith is believing in spite of the absence of evidence.

I don't have faith that my wife loves me, I have evidence. If we had similar evidence that there was a God and that God cared about us, we would not need faith.
Thanks again DrK. Indeed, I can choose to interpret my life experiences as "evidence" of God's existence/love, but it is certainly an act of faith to do so.
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:32 PM   #86
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Well I tried
Laugh. Yeah, you did Glad we could have some meaningful back and forth though.
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:33 PM   #87
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Originally Posted by The Greater Fool View Post
You get a pass for your first 100 posts, then...
I gotta stop replying to every post then or I'm gonna burn up all my freebies.
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:34 PM   #88
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Laugh. Yeah, you did Glad we could have some meaningful back and forth though.
Thanks . . . but seriously . . . after reading your posts I’m not sure if you want to balance your skepticism and faith, or whether you’re contemplating the scary prospect of replacing your emotional faith with intellectual skepticism.
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:35 PM   #89
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Thanks again DrK. Indeed, I can choose to interpret my life experiences as "evidence" of God's existence/love, but it is certainly an act of faith to do so.
Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I gotta stop replying to every post then or I'm gonna burn up all my freebies.
How do you view people that have had terrible life experiences? Is that "evidence" of god's existence/punishment?

Again, meant to understand, not accuse.
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:51 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Thanks . . . but seriously . . . after reading your posts I’m not sure if you want to balance your skepticism and faith, or whether you’re contemplating the scary prospect of replacing your emotional faith with intellectual skepticism.
Yes, you're quite right. I've been contemplating that for about the last two years. To the few I've spoken to in person about this, I've described it as a desire to be genuine. Right now, I feel like the most genuine I can be includes embracing critical thinking (and the challenges that presents to elements of my faith), while recognizing that there remain other aspects of my faith that continue to resonate strongly with me, despite their being subjective and not provable. I described it as tension in the OP, but I actually feel more at peace in this "middle ground" than I have while exploring either extreme. Do you ever feel that way, perhaps in different context?
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Old 7th December 2018, 02:01 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by The Greater Fool View Post
How do you view people that have had terrible life experiences? Is that "evidence" of god's existence/punishment?

Again, meant to understand, not accuse.
Right. Fair question and no. Another experience that precipitated this phase of my life was a close friend's young son dying of brain cancer. I never consciously ascribed to the "my life is good because God loves me" mentality (or the converse), but the experience made me recognize it was subconsciously there to some degree and I needed to consider it more critically. That was actually ~ 5 years ago. It's a process

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Old 7th December 2018, 02:08 PM   #92
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Right. Fair question and no. Another experience that precipitated this phase of my life was a close friend's young son dying of brain cancer. I never consciously ascribed to the "my life is good because God loves me" mentality (or the converse), but the experience made me recognize it was subconsciously there to some degree and I needed to consider it more critically. That was actually ~ 5 years ago. It's a process
Does that get you into the whole 'Why does god allow evil' question?
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Old 7th December 2018, 02:09 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Yes, you're quite right. I've been contemplating that for about the last two years. To the few I've spoken to in person about this, I've described it as a desire to be genuine. Right now, I feel like the most genuine I can be includes embracing critical thinking (and the challenges that presents to elements of my faith), while recognizing that there remain other aspects of my faith that continue to resonate strongly with me, despite their being subjective and not provable. I described it as tension in the OP, but I actually feel more at peace in this "middle ground" than I have while exploring either extreme. Do you ever feel that way, perhaps in different context?
I’ve never had any god beliefs or other paranormal/supernatural beliefs to conflict with skepticism or critical thinking. I sometimes wish I did have so I could better appreciate what having the conflict is actually like. Being honest (genuine), especially self-honest, has always been important to me, and it has always seemed that having god or other paranormal/supernatural beliefs must require that you be self-dishonest to some degree (at least in an intellectual sense).

If I ever have cause to doubt a belief I subject it to this “sheeple belief test" – Would I still believe in it if I was the only person in the world that believed in it?

ETA - What would your answer be if "it" was "God"?
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Old 7th December 2018, 02:12 PM   #94
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I understand your description of "fundy atheists". I think for some it is also cathartic to choose to endorse atheism with a certain anti-religious vigour. But overall I've been really encouraged with the thoughtful way people have engaged in this thread, much like yourself.
Oh, they're a good group of people here, otherwise I wouldn't keep coming back. A very small number are nasty and determined to misread what you write, but I just put them on my "ignore list" (something you can set here) which means I don't see their posts.

However, discussions here rarely go beyond "Is there an invisible dragon in your garage?" and atheists arguing "Christians who treat the Bible allegorically (and not literally) are poopy-heads!" Subjects like 'Philosophy' are looked on suspiciously as lacking value. It is 'Science!' that rules here!

The best boards are those that have a good mix of atheists and theists who are knowledgeable and enjoy arguing in-depth on topics. There was a great one I used to visit, but unfortunately it is no longer active. Those are the best places to discuss ideas you raised in your OP. Anyway, good luck!

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Old 7th December 2018, 02:12 PM   #95
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
It encourages my "faith" in humanity

I can recommend Phil Zuckerman:

Quote:
Instead of being bastions of sin and corruption, however, as the Christian Right has suggested a godless society would be, these countries [Denmark and Sweden] are filled with residents who score at the very top of the “happiness index” and enjoy their healthy societies, which boast some of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world (along with some of the lowest levels of corruption), excellent educational systems, strong economies, well-supported arts, free health care, egalitarian social policies, outstanding bike paths, and great beer.
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Old 7th December 2018, 03:09 PM   #96
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
I can recommend Phil Zuckerman:
If a church promised outstanding bike paths and great beer I may actually attend every Sunday morning.
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Old 7th December 2018, 03:15 PM   #97
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Right. Fair question and no. Another experience that precipitated this phase of my life was a close friend's young son dying of brain cancer. I never consciously ascribed to the "my life is good because God loves me" mentality (or the converse), but the experience made me recognize it was subconsciously there to some degree and I needed to consider it more critically. That was actually ~ 5 years ago. It's a process

As you have been very busy replying to the posts of others, I am reluctant to put my oar in again, but I have a question that I would like to hear you answer.

What is the cornerstone of your faith and is it exclusively Christianity centred?

Having had many discussions that inevitably turn into arguments with the religious in my family, I found it easy to knock out, one by one, the planks that support their faith in scripture. The final bastion they inevitably retreat to is the "I know because I had this experience where I came to know God/Jesus."

When I ask how it is they identify this experience with the Christian deity or deities, (along with others I have problems with the three part god thing), and point out that many others have similar experiences they attribute to other gods, they just respond they know - end of discussion.

I am impressed by your apparent candour thus far and if you keep this up will receive respect from most atheists here. The evasive and quite frankly dishonest posts from some theists, (one in particular who shall remain nameless), have queered the pitch, so some may post a little more aggressively than you may think reasonable.
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Old 7th December 2018, 03:21 PM   #98
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Balancing skepticism and faith is like trying to ride two horses with one ass. It simply can't be done. Those who feel they can, or have, are deluding themselves.
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Old 7th December 2018, 04:02 PM   #99
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
Grace? She passed away 30 years ago!

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Old 7th December 2018, 05:15 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by qayak View Post
Balancing skepticism and faith is like trying to ride two horses with one ass. It simply can't be done. Those who feel they can, or have, are deluding themselves.
I think they compartmentalize skepticism and faith in an attempt to avoid cognitive dissonance, rather than balance them.
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Old 7th December 2018, 06:57 PM   #101
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Originally Posted by The Greater Fool View Post
Does that get you into the whole 'Why does god allow evil' question?
It does, and while I could reiterate various doctrinal responses, my honest answer is 'I don't know'.
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Old 7th December 2018, 07:11 PM   #102
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
I’ve never had any god beliefs or other paranormal/supernatural beliefs to conflict with skepticism or critical thinking. I sometimes wish I did have so I could better appreciate what having the conflict is actually like. Being honest (genuine), especially self-honest, has always been important to me, and it has always seemed that having god or other paranormal/supernatural beliefs must require that you be self-dishonest to some degree (at least in an intellectual sense).

If I ever have cause to doubt a belief I subject it to this “sheeple belief test" – Would I still believe in it if I was the only person in the world that believed in it?

ETA - What would your answer be if "it" was "God"?
Interesting thought test. I'm not sure I know the answer and will have to think about it. My experience in faith has been both personal and community based, so it's hard to consider outside of that context. I think though, that I would be likely to do what I'm doing now, which is to try to find an outlet to discuss it, weigh input from others and proceed the best I could, giving space for my thinking to change and adapt over time.

For me, it would feel dishonest (or disingenuous) to reject my faith entirely.
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Old 7th December 2018, 07:44 PM   #103
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Interesting thought test. I'm not sure I know the answer and will have to think about it. My experience in faith has been both personal and community based, so it's hard to consider outside of that context. I think though, that I would be likely to do what I'm doing now, which is to try to find an outlet to discuss it, weigh input from others and proceed the best I could, giving space for my thinking to change and adapt over time.

For me, it would feel dishonest (or disingenuous) to reject my faith entirely.
Sure. I didn’t intend to put any “Hurry up and come over to the dark-side, we have cookies” pressure on you. As I said earlier, I can’t really appreciate the intricacies and difficulties of your conflict. Perhaps I should leave it others that can.

A question I’ve never been able to answer with any confidence is whether or not I would’ve believed in a thunder and lightning god if I was alive and experiencing such a severe storm a thousand years ago.
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To make truth from beliefs is to make truth mere make-believe.

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Old 7th December 2018, 07:52 PM   #104
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
As you have been very busy replying to the posts of others, I am reluctant to put my oar in again, but I have a question that I would like to hear you answer.

What is the cornerstone of your faith and is it exclusively Christianity centred?

Having had many discussions that inevitably turn into arguments with the religious in my family, I found it easy to knock out, one by one, the planks that support their faith in scripture. The final bastion they inevitably retreat to is the "I know because I had this experience where I came to know God/Jesus."

When I ask how it is they identify this experience with the Christian deity or deities, (along with others I have problems with the three part god thing), and point out that many others have similar experiences they attribute to other gods, they just respond they know - end of discussion.

I am impressed by your apparent candour thus far and if you keep this up will receive respect from most atheists here. The evasive and quite frankly dishonest posts from some theists, (one in particular who shall remain nameless), have queered the pitch, so some may post a little more aggressively than you may think reasonable.
Hi Thor 2. Yeah, it's a bit hard to keep up and I'll probably stay logged off for a bit after this, but I appreciate your post and want to try to reply before doing so.

Firstly, regarding the "dead-end" response you get from Christians, I think I can understand why. I think most people value the faith they have, but find it hard to define and to defend. Most would like to think of their faith as strong and robust, but being unable to defend it can highlight its fragility, which is not a good feeling for one to whom it is also precious. I think when people feel "out-gunned" (e.g. by someone presenting an argument or perspective they can't defend, or by someone with superior logic and communication skills) they defer to experience both as an attempt to explain something that in many way defies explanation, and because is a more unassailable defensive/protective position. I can understand that response and it's a big reason why I am very careful about with whom I discuss challenges I face with my own faith. I don't want to discourage, or damage someone else's faith, that is valuable to them and possibly more fragile than they want to consider.

As for the cornerstone of my own faith ... I honestly don't know. Yes, my upbringing, experience, and faith up until recently has been exclusively Christian, but while aspects of that are still very valuable to me, I've decided to subject it more openly to critical evaluation and discourse (such as I am doing here). For me, part of the purpose of it is to identify the most fragile components and either strengthen them, rethink them or allow them to be broken and discarded. I believe there is incredible insight and wisdom and encouragement in the examples and words attributed to Jesus in the new testament. I don't know other religions or religious texts very intimately, but it seems there are many similar elements there as well, which I find encouraging. I'm inspired by communities that show compassion and hope and peace and joy and I think those things are an expression of something bigger than evolved biological behaviours. And I have faith and hope that mankind can overcome hatred and selfishness and greed and move towards a future that better than what currently seems likely or even possible.

That's the best I can express it right now. I appreciate the poignant question very much. Thanks for asking it.
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Old 7th December 2018, 07:57 PM   #105
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Sure. I didn’t mean to put any “Hurry up, and come over to the dark-side, we have cookies” pressure on you. As I said earlier, I can’t really appreciate the intricacies and difficulties of your conflict. Perhaps I should leave it others that can.

A question I’ve never been able to answer with any confidence is whether or not I would’ve believed in a thunder and lightning god if I was alive and experiencing such a severe storm a thousand years ago.
No worries ynot. It's reasonable to press your point for follow up and clarity. Cookies do sound good, but I'm pretty committed to working through this at my own pace

Hard to imagine living in anyone else's shoes let alone ages ago in history. Makes a strong case for compassion eh?
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Old 7th December 2018, 09:08 PM   #106
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Don't waste your time with cookies. If you want to do some real soul-searching, you need pie.

Originally Posted by ynot View Post
I think they compartmentalize skepticism and faith in an attempt to avoid cognitive dissonance, rather than balance them.
Exactly this. It's so easy to turn your brain off and just refuse to think about things that would challenge your worldview. Platitudes help. With practice it becomes habitual. You don't even notice. It takes a conscious effort, and at least in my case a quiet evening and a good part of a bottle of Jack, to sit down and stare at those obvious logical conclusions head-on.

Originally Posted by ynot View Post
I’ve never had any god beliefs or other paranormal/supernatural beliefs to conflict with skepticism or critical thinking. I sometimes wish I did have so I could better appreciate what having the conflict is actually like.
I'll give it a shot. Picture one of your role models you knew as a child. Now imagine an old friend confiding in you that he raped her back then. Take a moment to consider your feelings.

That's a little too dramatic, but I hope you get the idea. Something that has been a bulwark of your ego suddenly becoming much less warky, and even though you may never know what the truth of the matter is, you do know that you like it less than the ignorance. Lotta conflict there.

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Old 7th December 2018, 09:28 PM   #107
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Originally Posted by The Big Dog View Post
I will say that it is amazing that a person comes here and requests a discussion of faith and skepticism, and the anti-religious just flat come right out of the box slinging gratuitous sarcasm and insults.
This thread isn't about you. Sorry.
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Old 7th December 2018, 11:14 PM   #108
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Thanks for the welcome and the thoughts LS. Appreciated. One of the events that started me down this path of introspection was reading the bible from cover to cover, (rather than just rereading my favourite bits ), so your point is well-taken.

Regarding "not all religions can be true"; yes, but to what degree do common elements of various religions suggest common truth/insight? Just one of the things I'm contemplating.
Oh, there are commonalities in religions, but those are also found in non-religious contexts.

Lets not kill each other (without reason) and lets not steal each others stuff are basic ground rules societies need to function.

The bits that all religions have about obeying the god(s) (and thus their priests) are needed to keep the religion afloat. But that is also the part that stifles human innovation and growth.

If there truly is a benevolent, all powerful god out there that for some reason needs us to behave in a certain way to be 'saved' after death, something I find odd to begin with, how come that god cannot make it's will clear to humanity? Because if it could we would not have this discussion and there would only be one religion with no sub-sects at all.
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Old 8th December 2018, 04:28 AM   #109
P.J. Denyer
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Hi attempt5001,

Let me add my belated welcome to the forum and my own input such as it is and although much of it repeats what others have said. To give you some background, I grew up in a nominally Christian household, went to an explicitly Christian school where the Bible was taught as fact (although to be fair evolution wasn't denied, contradictions simply weren't mentioned), daily religious assemblies, hymns and prayer etc. By the time I was eight I knew I didn't believe, but my older brother wound up very religious.


I also read your post as effectively saying that you've known really nice people of your religion and consider this evidence the religion is true, as others have said I too have known fantastic people from various religions and none, some of the nicest people I've known have been religious, so too have many of the most unpleasant (anecdotally the two most criminal people I've known are regular church goers who define themselves very much by their religion). Your belief that religion keeps you consistent in behaving in a moral manner strikes me as cultural rather than divine. You obviously live in a community with strong social ties, rules that you consider positive and good role models, definitely important for society but not intrinsicly divine!

With regard the use of terms like 'myth' and 'fairy tale', sometimes yes they are a dig, sometimes they're appropriate, sometimes it's because we're trying to get across that to people outside of a religion there are aspects that are completely unbelievable, completely, utterly, Jesus walking on water, Mohammed flying to Heaven on a winged horse with a human face, Joseph Smith transcribing the golden plates, Xenu. Chances are you don't believe in any but one of them yourself, we don't believe any of them at all, honestly, the difference between the Pope and that guy who calls himself 'Arthur Pendragon' and claims to be leader of the druids is numbers, social acceptance and wealth.

I would be interested to hear what it is that you feel is the dividing line between your belief and your scepticism? What is it that you believe but don't think is true?
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Old 8th December 2018, 08:38 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post

With regard the use of terms like 'myth' and 'fairy tale', sometimes yes they are a dig, sometimes they're appropriate, sometimes it's because we're trying to get across that to people outside of a religion there are aspects that are completely unbelievable
There is not a place in a serious discussion where it is appropriate to declare another person's religious beliefs as "fairy tales." It is pejorative, inaccurate and perhaps worst of all, totally unoriginal.

Have you seriously been impressed with any "argument" that features school yard level taunts like "fairy tales" or "sky daddy"? I have not, indeed when I notice garbage like being featured in posts one can safely conclude that one is dealing with a bigot with nothing original to add. That general rule has always worked well for me.
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Old 8th December 2018, 09:14 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by The Big Dog View Post
There is not a place in a serious discussion where it is appropriate to declare another person's religious beliefs as "fairy tales." It is pejorative, inaccurate and perhaps worst of all, totally unoriginal.

Have you seriously been impressed with any "argument" that features school yard level taunts like "fairy tales" or "sky daddy"? I have not, indeed when I notice garbage like being featured in posts one can safely conclude that one is dealing with a bigot with nothing original to add. That general rule has always worked well for me.
Is "fairy tales" pejorative? Certainly not a taunt, more like a description that carries information about the person who uses it, his lack of belief, in a way that saying "God " does not. For those of us who are not Believers, it is also an accurate description. Also, having read many of your posts in the Politics section, I know you are not thin skinned when it comes to politics, I don't see why Religion should be any different.
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Old 8th December 2018, 09:33 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
Is "fairy tales" pejorative? Certainly not a taunt, more like a description that carries information about the person who uses it, his lack of belief, in a way that saying "God " does not. For those of us who are not Believers, it is also an accurate description. Also, having read many of your posts in the Politics section, I know you are not thin skinned when it comes to politics, I don't see why Religion should be any different.
It is a taunt, and it is not descriptive. And it is not that I am being thin skinned, quite the contrary, I am describing my reaction to posts:

Behold this creature that walks like a man and claims to be skeptic: it uses “fairy tales” in its posts...
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Old 8th December 2018, 10:57 AM   #113
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TBD, would you have the same reaction if someone uses lower-case 'god' in their argument, even to refer to the deity you believe in?


What if someone says that your deity and all the other deities are myths?




(These are serious questions, not intended to be insulting.)
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Old 8th December 2018, 11:43 AM   #114
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
What if someone says that your deity and all the other deities are myths?
Not directed at me, but I would say "myths" is less derisive and might be a more productive term to use.
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Old 8th December 2018, 11:53 AM   #115
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I know theists don't like "Sky Daddy" but I still think it's very descriptive, in just 2 words it conveys the properties associated with such a being as well as the users opinion of their veracity.
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Old 8th December 2018, 12:34 PM   #116
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
TBD, would you have the same reaction if someone uses lower-case 'god' in their argument, even to refer to the deity you believe in?
What if someone says that your deity and all the other deities are myths?

(These are serious questions, not intended to be insulting.)
Nope, I would not have a problem with people using those terms.

Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
I know theists don't like "Sky Daddy" but I still think it's very descriptive, in just 2 words it conveys the properties associated with such a being as well as the users opinion of their veracity.
It is juvenile, insipid and a schoolyard taunt. If someone said they were going to dinner with their father, would you think it is reasonable to start saying “oh you going to dinner with your daddy” in a deliberately mocking tone? Of course not.

I mean use it if you need to, of course, it is a fantastic identifier of people who can be safely ignored.
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Old 8th December 2018, 12:45 PM   #117
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I disagree of course, I don't think it is juvenile, insipid, or a schoolyard taunt. It's just a description that has a way of casting the clear light of day on the beliefs of theists.
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Old 8th December 2018, 01:04 PM   #118
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Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
I disagree of course, I don't think it is juvenile, insipid, or a schoolyard taunt. It's just a description that has a way of casting the clear light of day on the beliefs of theists.
Ok, objectively speaking it is juvenile, insipid, or a schoolyard taunt but by god if "sky daddy" is your best argument, by all means make it!

/hoo boy...
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Old 8th December 2018, 01:17 PM   #119
Thor 2
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Hi Thor 2. Yeah, it's a bit hard to keep up and I'll probably stay logged off for a bit after this, but I appreciate your post and want to try to reply before doing so.

Firstly, regarding the "dead-end" response you get from Christians, I think I can understand why. I think most people value the faith they have, but find it hard to define and to defend. Most would like to think of their faith as strong and robust, but being unable to defend it can highlight its fragility, which is not a good feeling for one to whom it is also precious. I think when people feel "out-gunned" (e.g. by someone presenting an argument or perspective they can't defend, or by someone with superior logic and communication skills) they defer to experience both as an attempt to explain something that in many way defies explanation, and because is a more unassailable defensive/protective position. I can understand that response and it's a big reason why I am very careful about with whom I discuss challenges I face with my own faith. I don't want to discourage, or damage someone else's faith, that is valuable to them and possibly more fragile than they want to consider.

As for the cornerstone of my own faith ... I honestly don't know. Yes, my upbringing, experience, and faith up until recently has been exclusively Christian, but while aspects of that are still very valuable to me, I've decided to subject it more openly to critical evaluation and discourse (such as I am doing here). For me, part of the purpose of it is to identify the most fragile components and either strengthen them, rethink them or allow them to be broken and discarded. I believe there is incredible insight and wisdom and encouragement in the examples and words attributed to Jesus in the new testament. I don't know other religions or religious texts very intimately, but it seems there are many similar elements there as well, which I find encouraging. I'm inspired by communities that show compassion and hope and peace and joy and I think those things are an expression of something bigger than evolved biological behaviours. And I have faith and hope that mankind can overcome hatred and selfishness and greed and move towards a future that better than what currently seems likely or even possible.

That's the best I can express it right now. I appreciate the poignant question very much. Thanks for asking it.

Hello again attempt5001 and thanks for your detailed response.

Unlike yourself I do want to discourage, and damage the faith of others, if I can see that faith impacting the lives of others directly, or indirectly by propping up institutions involved in doing just this. Note the emphasis is on attacking the faith, not the faithful, who I see as victims themselves.

From what you write I get the impression that your grip on faith is tenuous. Certainly many of the words attributed to Christ are inspiring, but it is well known they are not unique and most have been borrowed from other sources, before his time. If you are hoping that Christianity will help mankind overcome hatred, selfishness and greed, history would seem to contradict you. Christianity must hold the record as the most fragmented religion of all time with its 40,000 different versions, some of whom dislike each other intensely. If I may introduce a note of levity into this discussion you may enjoy the following:

Quote:
The heretic

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well, are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are your Christian or Buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, Me too! Are your Episcopalian or Baptist? He said, "Baptist!" I said, "Wow! Me too! Are your Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord? He said, Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are your Original Baptist Church of God or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.
You will note a certain large canine is trying to divert this discussion into one about peripheral issues, like how offensive it is to use certain descriptive language. This is a common tactic of his that can be irritating. Best to just ignore the posts as the bulk of us do.
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Old 8th December 2018, 01:29 PM   #120
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Originally Posted by The Big Dog View Post
Ok, objectively speaking it is juvenile, insipid, or a schoolyard taunt but by god if "sky daddy" is your best argument, by all means make it!

/hoo boy...
It's not an argument at all, merely a term that succinctly describes a being that is all-powerful, omnipotent, invisible, is frequently referred to as "Father", and resides in Heaven.
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