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Old 25th March 2009, 04:54 PM   #1
Undesired Walrus
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Theists: How can you know who has had a legitimate communication with God?

I'm guessing most theists on this site believe that religous experiences are an actual linkage or commucation with God, if not proof of God.

The question I have, is who do you believe? I noticed that when several theists were asked previously if the Yorkshire Ripper was actually in communication with God (as he claimed), they said that if they were ever receiving such commands (go kill someone), they would realise it was not their compassionate, loving God. So lets move away from those who were being 'ordered' to go kill, to a Godly communcation that seems to be more in tune with the compassionate, loving God.

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At 7.43 in this video, Benny Hin asks a young girl: "How do you know you are healed?", only for the girl to reply: "Because He (God) told me so".

Now, I presume (again) that most theists here join non-believers in realising the sheer insanity of Benny Hin's rallies. I presume one last time that you doubt that girl's claim.

But doesn't this leave you in a signifigant problem? How can you proclaim that that girl didn't actually hear the voice of God?
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Old 25th March 2009, 04:57 PM   #2
Darth Rotor
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Originally Posted by Undesired Walrus View Post
I'm guessing most theists on this site believe that religous experiences are an actual linkage or commucation with God, if not proof of God.

The question I have, is who do you believe? I noticed that when several theists were asked previously if the Yorkshire Ripper was actually in communication with God (as he claimed), they said that if they were ever receiving such commands (go kill someone), they would realise it was not their compassionate, loving God. So lets move away from those who were being 'ordered' to go kill, to a Godly communcation that seems to be more in tune with the compassionate, loving God.

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At 7.43 in this video, Benny Hin asks a young girl: "How do you know you are healed?", only for the girl to reply: "Because He (God) told me so".

Now, I presume (again) that most theists here join non-believers in realising the sheer insanity of Benny Hin's rallies. I presume one last time that you doubt that girls experience.

But doesn't this leave you in a signifigant problem? How can you proclaim that that girl didn't actually hear the voice of God?
You do realize that the prophets had a hell of a time getting anyone to listen to them, right? They had trouble being believed even people who generally shared their beliefs.

So why would anyone now who has such an experience expect to get a free pass and easy acceptance of their story, from believers or not?

Is the TV or internet some sort of credibility amplifier? Or, is more likely a "I don't believe half of what I hear and see" deal, which makes the experience this gal describes less than certain for anyone?

DR
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Old 25th March 2009, 05:18 PM   #3
Undesired Walrus
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What then, for you, are the criteria that makes a particular religous experience more likely to be a true communication with God?
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Old 25th March 2009, 05:24 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Darth Rotor View Post
You do realize that the prophets had a hell of a time getting anyone to listen to them, right? They had trouble being believed even people who generally shared their beliefs.
Yeah, but they can summon she-bears to maul those who mock them.
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Old 25th March 2009, 06:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Yeah, but they can summon she-bears to maul those who mock them.
Yup.
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Old 25th March 2009, 06:48 PM   #6
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Oh come on.

If I hear a voice in my head and I know it's God, then it is God. If you hear a voice in yours and it says the same things to you as mine did to me, then you heard God too.

If it says something that disagrees with mine, then it is the Voice of Satan.

Easy. See?
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Old 26th March 2009, 04:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Undesired Walrus View Post
I noticed that when several theists were asked previously if the Yorkshire Ripper was actually in communication with God (as he claimed), they said that if they were ever receiving such commands (go kill someone), they would realise it was not their compassionate, loving God.
So by that argument, if someone believed himself to be ordered by God to (for example) kill his own son as a sacrifice, he would be correct in assuming that this was not a command from God, right? Did anyone try to run that by them?

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Old 26th March 2009, 05:58 AM   #8
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My bat-crazy ex-wife thought she was the second coming of Christ for about three months. I assumed she was incorrect. But perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps she was in legitimate communication with God.

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Old 26th March 2009, 07:35 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
My bat-crazy ex-wife thought she was the second coming of Christ for about three months. I assumed she was incorrect. But perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps she was in legitimate communication with God.

~~ Paul
More likely Jesus got hold of the GodPhone and was making prank calls. Did she believe herself to be called "I. C. Wiener"?

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Old 28th March 2009, 08:09 PM   #10
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For some curious reason nobody seems willing to give an answer. What's up?
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Old 28th March 2009, 08:21 PM   #11
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God always answers requests. The answer can be yes, the answer can be no, and the answer can be wait and see.

The True Christian knows this, and waits, and then knows with certainty later what answer God gave them. "God told me yes" or "God told me no" or "God told me to wait". Sometimes the reason for the answer is not known because we are all just pawns in God's master plan, and cannot know what He is thinking, but all will be revealed in the Question and Answer sessions after the Rapture.

Norm
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Old 28th March 2009, 10:11 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
God always answers requests. The answer can be yes, the answer can be no, and the answer can be wait and see.
That's interesting, because a jug of milk answers prayers the same way!

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Old 28th March 2009, 10:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by temporalillusion View Post
That's interesting, because a jug of milk answers prayers the same way!

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So God is a jug of milk. I can live with that.

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Old 29th March 2009, 01:02 AM   #14
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I'm a theist, but a really agnostic one.

I like to think that the validity of one's communication is determined by what one does with it. However, my idea of what is and isn't valid action is very much colored by my own morals, and I know that. I realize that other people will define "valid action" according to other morals, which may disagree with mine. There's no way, in my mind, to demonstrate that one has or hasn't received a communication from God (or even that God exists).

So ultimately, what it boils down to for me is: it doesn't matter to me why you're doing what you're doing, or why you think you're doing it. All that matters is what you're actually doing. You could be doing it because you're a theist, or an atheist, or because you like turtles. What are you actually doing, and what is its effect?

I think what I'm saying is that I take the coward's way out. Instead of trying to determine whether the action was inspired by God, I just look at the outcome -- which I judge according to my own morals (which may, or may not, be in accordance with what God wants. Absent God appearing in my living room and laying it out straight, I can really only do what I think is right.)

Okay, maybe this is a fuddled mess. I know what I'm feeling, but it's hard to articulate that into actual functional English. : (
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Old 29th March 2009, 01:19 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
God always answers requests. The answer can be yes, the answer can be no, and the answer can be wait and see.

The True Christian knows this, and waits, and then knows with certainty later what answer God gave them. "God told me yes" or "God told me no" or "God told me to wait". Sometimes the reason for the answer is not known because we are all just pawns in God's master plan, and cannot know what He is thinking, but all will be revealed in the Question and Answer sessions after the Rapture.

Norm

That oft-used bit of twisted thinking is yet another one of the things that tend to separate the religious, or otherwise credulous, from the agnostics/atheists/skeptics in general.

Those of a credulous mind seem to be unable to deal with the idea that we may not have the answer to a question. It would be one thing to say that god always answers requests, be that answer a positive or a negative. There would be no point in saying that, since ANY answer would fall under the category of a positive or negative, but I digress.

It is another thing entirely to say that god may put off answering you and tell you to wait. That is implying an answer, where none was given. If you ask me to give you five dollars, and I turn and walk away, my answer was not "Wait here and see," my answer was "No."

Why do the religious always feel that every question must have an answer? Why do they find it to be untenable that we may just not know yet?

It is not the same with those of a more incredulous mind. Take some of the more difficult questions facing scientists today. As a skeptic (and an atheist, but that's neither here nor there), I am perfectly willing to wait until we know the answer. The difference is, though, that I will not just accept my lack of knowledge as an answer. I will not stop asking, and just wait and see.

I'll keep asking.

Hopefully, I'm not the only one here who is occasionally thrilled by the discovery of something else that we don't yet understand.

Just means that there's still more cool stuff out there to know.

~~ Random
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Old 29th March 2009, 01:21 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
God always answers requests. The answer can be yes, the answer can be no, and the answer can be wait and see.

The True Christian knows this, and waits, and then knows with certainty later what answer God gave them. "God told me yes" or "God told me no" or "God told me to wait". Sometimes the reason for the answer is not known because we are all just pawns in God's master plan, and cannot know what He is thinking, but all will be revealed in the Question and Answer sessions after the Rapture.

Norm
That's sort of... "stupid" doesn't cover it. There's an intelligence to the claim, a wily sort of cleverness to constructing that excuse that goes way past stupid. According to your belief, the "answers" your God gives you are virtually identical to what would happen if your God doesn't exist at all. Isn't that just way too convenient?
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Old 29th March 2009, 01:28 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Undesired Walrus View Post
I'm guessing most theists on this site believe that religous experiences are an actual linkage or commucation with God, if not proof of God.

The question I have, is who do you believe?

To actually stop for a moment in an attempt to address the OP...

As you are no doubt pointing out, herein lies a fundamental failure in the structure of any and all Revealed Religions.

Put simply, on a logical basis, you cannot know whom to trust. Certainly not on just their word alone. Even if a large group of people came forward and claimed to have all been addressed by god, the simple answer is always that they conspired together, knowingly or not, and therefore their "visions" are all the same (or at least very similar).

In this era of near-instantaneous global communication, there is very little chance of being isolated enough from the rest of humanity to be able to prove that you, and another person from across the globe, shared the same visitation from god.

Not to mention, why exactly would god specifically seek out the most isolated people in the world and deliver unto them his message? If he is picking people at random, what are the odds?

To be honest, Muhammad had a hell of a good idea when he crafted his update to Judaism/Christianity. Let's just claim that there shall be no prophets after me! No more visitations from god, the buck stops here. God is omniscient, after all, so claiming that he has looked forward in time and found that this will be his last prophet isn't far-fetched.

Cutting of all future visitations from god is really the only viable way to prove who is telling the truth and who isn't, when it comes to visions.

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Old 29th March 2009, 01:38 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by RandomJSF View Post
To actually stop for a moment in an attempt to address the OP...

As you are no doubt pointing out, herein lies a fundamental failure in the structure of any and all Revealed Religions.

Put simply, on a logical basis, you cannot know whom to trust. Certainly not on just their word alone. Even if a large group of people came forward and claimed to have all been addressed by god, the simple answer is always that they conspired together, knowingly or not, and therefore their "visions" are all the same (or at least very similar).
You miss a bigger point: in the case of the Bible stories, we are looking at one person who claims that there was a large group who saw something. With one eyewitness, isn't it just as likely that the one person made it up?
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Old 29th March 2009, 01:45 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by RandomJSF View Post
It is another thing entirely to say that god may put off answering you and tell you to wait. That is implying an answer, where none was given. If you ask me to give you five dollars, and I turn and walk away, my answer was not "Wait here and see," my answer was "No."
But this is exactly what some theists really do.

"I went downtown today, and asked God to find me a parking sspot. He said no!"

"Last week I asked God to let the (name your favourite sports team) win and he said no" (depending on last weeks match result). They didn't win last week when I prayed, but they won this week. So this was a "maybe thingy", and he eventually answered my prayer - THEY WON THIS WEEK!

"I asked God to find me a job six months ago, and last week I got one. This was a maybe six months ago, but God finally said "yes", and I had faith that he would. (The reality factor being that this person applied for perhaps 300 jobs in this period is, of course, not relevant)"

Surely others have seen and read people's ...uuummm... witnessing will do, who claim this sort of stuff? I cannot be the only one who has seen and heard it, and I am pretty sure I am not imagining what I posted earler - that some theists genuinely believe the yes/no/maybe/perhaps next week dream of God answering prayer in this manner really actually believe it?

Norm

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Old 29th March 2009, 01:55 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Improbable Joe View Post
That's sort of... "stupid" doesn't cover it. There's an intelligence to the claim, a wily sort of cleverness to constructing that excuse that goes way past stupid. According to your belief, the "answers" your God gives you are virtually identical to what would happen if your God doesn't exist at all. Isn't that just way too convenient?
Not to True Christians(TM). There is a need to believe that trancends logic, and therefore the yes/no/maybe answer is the only "logical" recourse to the problem related to God answering all prayer. True Christians (TM) have to accept that God answers all prayer, otherwise the entire belief system collapses, thus the need to accept that sometimes the answer is "no", or "maybe next year"

Of course by next year, some have probably forgotten what they prayed for in the first place, and can simply start all over again with a clear belief system.

Norm
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Old 29th March 2009, 02:23 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
But this is exactly what some theists really do.

"I went downtown today, and asked God to find me a parking sspot. He said no!"

"Last week I asked God to let the (name your favourite sports team) win and he said no" (depending on last weeks match result). They didn't win last week when I prayed, but they won this week. So this was a "maybe thingy", and he eventually answered my prayer - THEY WON THIS WEEK!

"I asked God to find me a job six months ago, and last week I got one. This was a maybe six months ago, but God finally said "yes", and I had faith that he would. (The reality factor being that this person applied for perhaps 300 jobs in this period is, of course, not relevant)"
That was exactly my point. That IS what some theists do. Most, in point of fact. The problem with the idea of ascribing an answer (and therefore intent) to a request made six months ago is the fact that the answer, in such a case, will always be a positive. In the absence of a positive answer from god, religious persons will simply wait until the situation turns positive, and then ascribe that positive change to an answer from god. It could be a month, six months, or thirty years.

To do the above is, of course, disingenuous. It also only works in situations where the answer can be withheld. "God, please let me win the lottery this week" and "God, please let me win the lottery" are fundamentally different requests. One imposes a time frame for the answer, one does not. That is how god can "answer" no to a request for a parking space. You will never hear a religious person state, in all seriousness, that they asked for a parking space two years ago, and god finally granted them one.

If you pray for something without defining a time frame in which the answer will be given, then given enough time, you can always find a positive response.

Excluding exceptions such as a mother praying for god to save her child from, say, cancer, and then having that child die a year later. Obviously, god's answer in such a case was no. The mother, however, can be comforted by the fact that god had a plan for that child, so obviously he wasn't meant to survive. Therefore it was wrong of her to ask god to save him.

So even in that case, there was still an eventual answer. It can even be bent to a positive angle: "God must have had a plan for little Jimmy, which is why He wouldn't save him. If God has a plan for little Jimmy, then obviously dying was better than being saved and continuing to live." Now the mother has her positive answer. Or, insert the generic "he's in heaven now, free from suffering" claim, which is, again, a form of positive answer.

Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
Surely others have seen and read people's ...uuummm... witnessing will do, who claim this sort of stuff? I cannot be the only one who has seen and heard it, and I am pretty sure I am not imagining what I posted earler - that some theists genuinely believe the yes/no/maybe/perhaps next week dream of God answering prayer in this manner really actually believe it?
Of course you're not the only one who has noticed this. It's been a longstanding point of contention among the religious and their opponents. It has been used by the religious to explain everything from rape and murder to horrible disaster.

It must be wonderful, being able to find a positive answer for any and every question a person can have in life. :P

~~ Random
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Old 29th March 2009, 04:35 AM   #22
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I'll try to be serious and thoughtful rather than my usual irreverent smart-alec self.

Many people, otherwise quite rational, state that they have a desire or need for a god to speak to them. It's easy to dismiss David Berkowitz, but what about Mother Teresa? I think there might be some common traits (ala John Baez's clues for nutty science) to tell if you really hear the voice of a deity or if you've made the whole thing up.

1. When God speaks to you, does the voice sound like that of James Earl Jones?
2. Do you know God's gender?
3. Are you a favored listener?
4. Did you want a material gift?
5. Do you know God's general appearance?
6. Do you feel qualified to judge God, i.e., yes, God did that, no, Satan did the other?
7. Do you not understand the difference between God and Scripture?
8. Would you feel "dissed" if God never answers any of your prayers?

Score 1 for each "yes"
0-1 Take a Yoga class and relax. Spend a week at the seashore. You're cool.
2-4 Lighten up, dude. Get a hobby. Date more. Read some Thomas Merton.
5-8 Whoa! Please surrender all firearms and explosives at the nearest police station. Buy rounded point scissors. Flush all chemicals down the toilet. Tear up your voter registration card. Seek professional help.

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Old 29th March 2009, 06:30 AM   #23
JetLeg
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Originally Posted by Undesired Walrus View Post
I'm guessing most theists on this site believe that religous experiences are an actual linkage or commucation with God, if not proof of God.

The question I have, is who do you believe? I noticed that when several theists were asked previously if the Yorkshire Ripper was actually in communication with God (as he claimed), they said that if they were ever receiving such commands (go kill someone), they would realise it was not their compassionate, loving God. So lets move away from those who were being 'ordered' to go kill, to a Godly communcation that seems to be more in tune with the compassionate, loving God.

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At 7.43 in this video, Benny Hin asks a young girl: "How do you know you are healed?", only for the girl to reply: "Because He (God) told me so".

Now, I presume (again) that most theists here join non-believers in realising the sheer insanity of Benny Hin's rallies. I presume one last time that you doubt that girl's claim.

But doesn't this leave you in a signifigant problem? How can you proclaim that that girl didn't actually hear the voice of God?
I think that even if you can't decide who _did_ hear a message from god, you can decide who _didn't_.

If you assume (have faith) that god is compassionate, then any non-compassionate (Yorkshire Ripper) communication is not from god.

Of course, you can ask is the bible compassionate, and how do we know that god is compassionate, but that is another problem.

Given the usual assumptions, one can disregard the Yorkshire Ripper.
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Old 29th March 2009, 12:03 PM   #24
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"God said "Abraham, kill me a son'
Abraham said 'Where you want this killing done?'"
Compassion just reeks from this.
The test of the faith, that the faithful passes!
Must be heaven on earth to live with a father that will kill you anytime the voices in his head tell him to.
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Old 29th March 2009, 12:39 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by I Ratant View Post
"God said "Abraham, kill me a son'
Abraham said 'Where you want this killing done?'"
Compassion just reeks from this.
The test of the faith, that the faithful passes!
Must be heaven on earth to live with a father that will kill you anytime the voices in his head tell him to.
What kind of an entity calls for a human sacrifice and why is it moral for Abraham to comply?

Be careful around Christians lest their god whisper in their ear "Kill".
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Old 29th March 2009, 04:58 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Jackalgirl View Post
I'm a theist, but a really agnostic one.

I like to think that the validity of one's communication is determined by what one does with it. However, my idea of what is and isn't valid action is very much colored by my own morals, and I know that. I realize that other people will define "valid action" according to other morals, which may disagree with mine. There's no way, in my mind, to demonstrate that one has or hasn't received a communication from God (or even that God exists).

So ultimately, what it boils down to for me is: it doesn't matter to me why you're doing what you're doing, or why you think you're doing it. All that matters is what you're actually doing. You could be doing it because you're a theist, or an atheist, or because you like turtles. What are you actually doing, and what is its effect?

I think what I'm saying is that I take the coward's way out. Instead of trying to determine whether the action was inspired by God, I just look at the outcome -- which I judge according to my own morals (which may, or may not, be in accordance with what God wants. Absent God appearing in my living room and laying it out straight, I can really only do what I think is right.)

Okay, maybe this is a fuddled mess. I know what I'm feeling, but it's hard to articulate that into actual functional English. : (
My sense is, for many theists, this is what it comes down to: "would my life be better if I could believe in god(s)?" If the internal answer is a loud enough "yes", then the urge to believe eventually wins out, and the "yes" may be articulated as the "voice of god". Reasons to believe are ad hoc and after the fact. So trying to explain them, beyond what you're feeling, can become a fuddled mess.

Note: as you say, it's often an amplification of one's personal morality (which is why the key to brainwashing is to first make the subjects doubt their previous values). It helps to alleviate anxiety about behaving morally in the face of one's ignorance of all the facts, by giving one access to an all-knowing source of morality (albeit imperfect access via prayer, meditation, etal; still anything beats the anxiety of having to choose alone, or that there is no ultimate justice and morality).

This is not to say atheists never have irrational reasons for not believing; however, any voice one heard instructing her to not believe couldn't have been a god (although it could have been a devil, I suppose).

But then again, who knows? Ra be with you.

Originally Posted by JetLeg View Post
I think that even if you can't decide who _did_ hear a message from god, you can decide who _didn't_.

If you assume (have faith) that god is compassionate, then any non-compassionate (Yorkshire Ripper) communication is not from god.

Of course, you can ask is the bible compassionate, and how do we know that god is compassionate, but that is another problem.

Given the usual assumptions, one can disregard the Yorkshire Ripper.
Unless the "compassionate" god foresees that letting the Ripper's victims live would cause more harm than killing them did.
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Old 29th March 2009, 05:56 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by blobru View Post
...
Unless the "compassionate" god foresees that letting the Ripper's victims live would cause more harm than killing them did.
.
Such as yelling at Herod "Don't even think of killing all those babies", and instead telling Joe to move the ball-and-chain and the Kid to Egypt for awhile.
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Old 29th March 2009, 08:31 PM   #28
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(Not a theist, but I'll play devil's advocate).

You could tell it was probably legitimate if the person demonstrably knows something that only God could know. Some testable claim whose answer is not yet known or deducable to mortals. Say, fill out a 100% accurate March Madness bracket before the tournament (there is a small chance that someone could guess correctly through sheer luck).

Basically, if they can win Randi's Million dollar challenge, that would be compelling evidence to me.
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Old 29th March 2009, 11:54 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by JetLeg View Post
I think that even if you can't decide who _did_ hear a message from god, you can decide who _didn't_.

If you assume (have faith) that god is compassionate, then any non-compassionate (Yorkshire Ripper) communication is not from god.

Of course, you can ask is the bible compassionate, and how do we know that god is compassionate, but that is another problem.

Given the usual assumptions, one can disregard the Yorkshire Ripper.
Actually, whether god is compassionate in the first place, is the key question there.

Abraham was already mentioned. And it's the same God who ordered the genocide at Midian in Numbers 31. It's the same God who told his chosen people to treck to the "promised land"... and take it from its current inhabitants by war. (See, it wasn't exactly empty.) It's the same God who told his people to take slaves, or that if you beat a slave to death but he doesn't die _immediately_ it's still ok. Empathy my rear. It's the same God who obviously considers it ok to smash some babies on rocks. (Psalms 137:8)

It's the same God who kills an innocent baby to make a point to the father. (Samuel 12:14.) It's the same God who first "hardens the Pharaoh's heart" to make him say "no", then kills a bunch of Egyptian soldiers who had nothing to do with the Pharaoh's decision anyway. (Exodus 14) Worse, it's the same God who kills a bunch of Egyptian children -- he doesn't even differentiate between man and beast there, much less between adult firstborns and the newborn baby of a new couple -- who had nothing to do with the Pharaoh's decision either way, and neither did their parents. (Exodus 12:12) He kills even the firstborns of captives in the dungeons (Exodus 12:29), and now _those_ surely had no say in the Pharaoh's decision. I mean, if they could talk the Pharaoh into releasing anyone, they would have released themselves.

ETA: since it wasn't clear the first time, again, after he hardened the Pharaoh's heart to make him say "no" in the first place. (Exodus 11:10) So apparently it's ok for God to kill some babies for what God made the Pharaoh do.

Etc.

So "given the usual assumptions" doesn't say much if the assumptions are proved false by the bible itself.

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Old 30th March 2009, 02:47 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by blobru View Post
My sense is, for many theists, this is what it comes down to: "would my life be better if I could believe in god(s)?" If the internal answer is a loud enough "yes", then the urge to believe eventually wins out, and the "yes" may be articulated as the "voice of god". Reasons to believe are ad hoc and after the fact. So trying to explain them, beyond what you're feeling, can become a fuddled mess.
I don't think that's what motivates me (and I can't speak for other theists, of course). I don't think it's ever come down to that question. But you're spot on that there is definitely a feeling that I think of as...well, not the "voice" of god. It's more like pressure. Sometimes there's a feeling of a voice, but I have so many internal dialogues going on all the time that I wouldn't be able to say for certain "this voice is god, and this voice is one of Jackalgirl's internal dialogue voices". I just...feel that something's going on. Which, of course, is not a basis for proof. Like I said, I'm pretty agnostic. ; )

Originally Posted by blobru View Post
Note: as you say, it's often an amplification of one's personal morality (which is why the key to brainwashing is to first make the subjects doubt their previous values). It helps to alleviate anxiety about behaving morally in the face of one's ignorance of all the facts, by giving one access to an all-knowing source of morality (albeit imperfect access via prayer, meditation, etal; still anything beats the anxiety of having to choose alone, or that there is no ultimate justice and morality).
100% agreed. I came to Kemetic Orthodoxy because it meshed with (and clarified) what I'd already been thinking about in terms of religion, spirituality, and God. That's not to say I didn't feel a certain call; I did -- it's just that KO did not require a complete change of my worldview. This is just an opinion, but I think that most people come to their respective religions that way -- that's why people so often say "it was like coming home". I also think that most people consider religion a justification of how they already want to behave. Some people, I am sure, completely change their lives because of the religion that they chose to embrace. But I personally think that this is fairly rare.

Originally Posted by blobru View Post
This is not to say atheists never have irrational reasons for not believing; however, any voice one heard instructing her to not believe couldn't have been a god (although it could have been a devil, I suppose).
Or someone might call him/herself an athiest out of an irrational (or possibly rational) reaction to personal experiences with religious persons. I can see that happening (in fact, I've seen something similar -- people calling themselves pagan not because they were actually pagan, but because being pagan was not Christian).

Originally Posted by blobru View Post
But then again, who knows? Ra be with you.
My head would aslpode! ; )
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Old 30th March 2009, 03:23 AM   #31
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Hmm. I'll try not to be offensive, but I fear that the subject itself is a touchy one.

First of all, I never really understood people who go comparative shopping about religion. Either you believe that a certain religion is true, and you follow it for good or for bad because that's what that particular God wants and he/she's the boss, or it seems to me like you're not particularly religious in the first place. If you can choose between cults A, B and C based on which one you like most, you've essentially just admitted that you place your own tastes and morals above pretty much every deity or prophet they've ever had.

Plus, it's at best an appeal to emotion. Liking or disliking a religion isn't even close to proving or even hinting which of them is right and which is wrong.

Second, I'll never understand what would possess someone to join a bogus religion invented in the 20'th century.

Take Wicca for example. All evidence points at the fact that all its claims of being ancient are, in fact, lies and that it lies heavily about the witchcraft beliefs in the middle ages and renaissance too. It's all a big lie, fashioned for maximum trolling value.

(You know, "OMG, your ancestors killed and persecuted my ancestors" without the disadvantages of being black. Plus a good deal of all the trappings that christians associate with satan worship, just because it gets the christians' knickers in a knot.)

Why would someone take something like that as a _religion_?

It seems to e it's on par with starting praying to Luke Skywalker for salvation. I know he's a figment of Lucas's imagination, but let's pretend that worshipping him solves anything anyway.

Which brings me -- sorry in avance -- to KO. That's not really what the ancient Egyptians believed in. It seems based on a superficial skimming of it all, and massaged into a monotheism that would have been utterly foreign to an Egyptian from the pre-christian era.

The Egyptians didn't believe that all those gods are just names or aspects of a single God. Those gods fought each other (e.g., Set killed Osiris), resurrected each other (e.g., Isis did that for Osiris), and muscled in on each other's domain (e.g., Anubis stepped aside and gave his domain to Osiris.)

None of that makes any sense if they're just names or even aspects of one single God. One name of God killed another name of God, then a third name of God resurrected the second name of God, and a fourth name of God stepped aside to give him his domain. WTH? Does that God have multiple personality disorder or what?

It also trips my suspension of disbelief that essentially they worship someone called God. (The term "netjer" was for a male god -- without capital g -- so rendering it as the proper name Netjer gives you the ancient egyptian language version of "God.")

Again, that's not how the ancient egyptians used that term. They believed in netjer and netjeret as gods and godesses, not as an entity called Netjer.

The only instance where Egypt was monotheistic was Akhenaten's heresy, and that was taken as a major heresy by the egyptians. That guy was nearly erased from history for it. (In fact, a couple of generations later, no Egyptian knew he existed any more.) You don't take as as much of an insult if it were just "ok, we'll worship our one god under the Aten name only."

Akhenaten himself -- otherwise a loving son and all -- nearly erased his own father from history because his name ("Amenhotep III") contained the name of the god Amen/Amun/Amon/however-you-transliterate-it. (Egyptians weren't big on writing vowels.) And he was that devoted to showing Aten that he renounces and bans all other gods. Again, it makes no sense if it were just about different names of the same God.

So, seriously, if you want a religion based on Ma'at and all that, why not pick the real thing? Why go for a wiccan priestess's reinvention and misunderstanding of it?
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Old 30th March 2009, 06:58 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
(Not a theist, but I'll play devil's advocate).

You could tell it was probably legitimate if the person demonstrably knows something that only God could know. Some testable claim whose answer is not yet known or deducable to mortals. Say, fill out a 100% accurate March Madness bracket before the tournament (there is a small chance that someone could guess correctly through sheer luck).

Basically, if they can win Randi's Million dollar challenge, that would be compelling evidence to me.
Nice try. But then you would still have to prove that the information could only have come from God. All those psi researchers out there would disagree with you.
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Old 30th March 2009, 07:06 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
First of all, I never really understood people who go comparative shopping about religion.
I think that more and more people are starting to think of their religion as a reflection of them, not the other way 'round. If they don't agree with something about their own particular brand of religion, they are now more likely to try a different sect, rather than force themselves to swallow what they find unpalatable. Add to that a decrease in social pressure to belong to the "right church", an increase in exposure to other god-beliefs, and a shift of focus from "community" to "individual" and you end up with lots of people who now see nothing wrong or sinful with shopping around to find a sect that suits them.
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Old 30th March 2009, 07:29 AM   #34
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Well, yes, but my point is basically that religion and belief involve actually believing that something is _true_. That a particular flavour of god actually exists up there, and verily X, Y and Z are what he demands.

Picking something based on personal preferences doesn't say anything about the truth of that choice. Basically, as an extreme hypothetical example, between:

A) "you have terminal cancer, sorry" and

B) "just take this homeopathic extract and you'll live for another hundred years"

option B is undoubtedly the nicest. But for at least some people the truth is A. Being the nice or nasty option doesn't make it either true or untrue.

Basically it seems to me like if one's at the point where one can choose freely between cults A, B and C based on just which one one likes more... is only justified if one is ready to admit that all are equally bogus and the choice doesn't actually matter much. Doubly so when one starts seeing bogus fairy tales invented 20 years ago by some bored person with too much imagination, as perfectly equal choices too.

In which case, why not just go atheist and be done with it?

Or better yet, why not go _deist_? It still allows for one creator deity, but rejects all revelations about it, so basically you can imagine your personal god to be anything that fits your personality.
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Old 30th March 2009, 07:56 AM   #35
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I understand what you mean, HM, and I agree. I think that what religion-shopping really illustrates is that people believe not so much in God, but in belief itself.
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Old 30th March 2009, 07:59 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
Nice try. But then you would still have to prove that the information could only have come from God. All those psi researchers out there would disagree with you.
Well, I'm actually a softie. I don't think I set the bar particularly high, but I do want something more than blind faith and "trust me." It's academic though until someone can even do that, which I don't expect to ever see.
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Old 30th March 2009, 08:55 AM   #37
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Quote:
But then you would still have to prove that the information could only have come from God. All those psi researchers out there would disagree with you.
.
Ay, that's the rub!
Like the original claim of cold fusion, no one has been able to duplicate the results.
Where would the -independent- verification of the source be found?
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Old 30th March 2009, 01:54 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Holler Hoojer View Post
Many people, otherwise quite rational, state that they have a desire or need for a god to speak to them. It's easy to dismiss David Berkowitz, but what about Mother Teresa?
Yet, in the end, Theresa hadn't ever heard that voice - or if she had, she was stringly questioning it being a god who was talking to her.

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Interesting subject, and yet again, a mirror of a christian forum thread I'm sniping in, where they're asking how they know whether it's really a god talking to them.
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Old 30th March 2009, 09:44 PM   #39
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Thanks very much for your clear and honest answers, Jackalgirl. I'm genuinely curious about this "voice", so-called. I want to ask a few more questions; however, don't bother with any you're not comfortable with.

Originally Posted by Jackalgirl View Post
I don't think that's what motivates me (and I can't speak for other theists, of course). I don't think it's ever come down to that question. But you're spot on that there is definitely a feeling that I think of as...well, not the "voice" of god. It's more like pressure. Sometimes there's a feeling of a voice, but I have so many internal dialogues going on all the time that I wouldn't be able to say for certain "this voice is god, and this voice is one of Jackalgirl's internal dialogue voices". I just...feel that something's going on. Which, of course, is not a basis for proof. Like I said, I'm pretty agnostic. ; )
Would you liken this "pressure", or "feeling of a voice", to anything else you experience?

I'm trying to imagine it, but as an atheist the closest I can get is 'conscience': the sense you've done something wrong and need to make good.

Quote:
100% agreed. I came to Kemetic Orthodoxy because it meshed with (and clarified) what I'd already been thinking about in terms of religion, spirituality, and God. That's not to say I didn't feel a certain call; I did -- it's just that KO did not require a complete change of my worldview. This is just an opinion, but I think that most people come to their respective religions that way -- that's why people so often say "it was like coming home". I also think that most people consider religion a justification of how they already want to behave. Some people, I am sure, completely change their lives because of the religion that they chose to embrace. But I personally think that this is fairly rare.
Yeah, and very weird. I've had a few friends and family join de facto religious groups which use very aggressive indoctrination techniques: in the space of a weekend, the individual you used to know simply doesn't exist anymore, replaced by a devout follower of the perfect leader and system.

What you say about KO makes sense to me as far as its philosophy: you saw parts of yourself in it and wanted to know more. Do you remember why it spoke to you as a religion? I guess I'm asking what it is about religion in general that made you want to find one.

Quote:
Or someone might call him/herself an athiest out of an irrational (or possibly rational) reaction to personal experiences with religious persons. I can see that happening (in fact, I've seen something similar -- people calling themselves pagan not because they were actually pagan, but because being pagan was not Christian).
Exactly. It's really hard to keep experience, emotion, logic and belief separate.

Quote:
My head would aslpode! ; )


Originally Posted by DmKrispin View Post
I think that more and more people are starting to think of their religion as a reflection of them, not the other way 'round. If they don't agree with something about their own particular brand of religion, they are now more likely to try a different sect, rather than force themselves to swallow what they find unpalatable. Add to that a decrease in social pressure to belong to the "right church", an increase in exposure to other god-beliefs, and a shift of focus from "community" to "individual" and you end up with lots of people who now see nothing wrong or sinful with shopping around to find a sect that suits them.
I think you're right on, DmK. Religion, in the modern West at least, has had to adapt to our consumer culture. People can shop for faith like any other product; the need to compete in a shrinking market has made over many brands from sharply-defined, god-fearing orthodoxy to fuzzy-hued, believer-friendly discussion groups. To the good, I think: in many respects, God's been demoted from ethereal autocrat to obsequious democrat.
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Old 31st March 2009, 07:40 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
So God is a jug of milk. I can live with that.

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Sorry, I drank your god last night, you'll have to find another one.
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