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Old 30th January 2013, 12:52 PM   #1
deaman
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What personal benefits have you found in either believing, or not believing in a god?

I am not seeking rebuttal, or critique, on other people's beliefs. I am seeking your own personal experience in believing, or not believing in a god(s).

Thank you.
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Old 30th January 2013, 01:14 PM   #2
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The freedom to see that the universe is an extraordinary, exciting place where gods are superfluous, and to grasp how lucky I am to have been born and be able to enjoy the earth for the short amount of time I have allotted.

Also, the freedom not to feel ashamed every time a random thought scutters across my brain, that I was once brainwashed to believe was sinful thoughtcrime.
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Old 30th January 2013, 01:36 PM   #3
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Benefits of belief: As a believer I was part of a community that benefited me in many ways. When I decided to leave Mormonism I mourned for the loss of that community. I also found comfort in prayer and divine justice.

Originally Posted by Mathew 11:28
That was a great source of comfort for me.

Benefits of disbelief: As a believer I suffered significant dissonance. I was often troubled by the things I believed in. IMO: To believe is to be a slave to the belief. And I think there is very good robust body of evidence from different scientific fields in support for that. I realize that you are simply seeking an opinion so I'll not bore anyone with the details. If anyone would like more on that PM me or start a thread.

Bottom line, I'm free from external forces. I do not suffer guilt from doing things my religion deemed sinful but harmed no one. I do not suffer from cognitive dissonance.

It's a trade off but one that is IMO worth it. Truth is it's own reward --Plato.
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Old 30th January 2013, 01:59 PM   #4
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I actually find life much more meaningful and beautiful aesthetic wise, and I found my sense of decency and morality amplified and justified and enriched by humanism for the sake of benevolence rather than for the sake of an alpha authority figure who punishes you based on what you perceive to be real or not real or based on what this figure deems is reality or not reality.

There was a time when I was terrified in some way to consider the religion of my upbringing was not real, it was just not an option to mentally explore, and knowing this I realize how futile it is to discuss the issue with many a theist. But I also know there are many people who are close to exploring the possibility they are believing something without any intellectually honest of compelling reason beyond cultural tradition or psychological comfort, so it's important to let them know people with my views exist and that they are not wrong or alone to consider the situation from a different point of view.

I still am not comfortable with the finality of death. There is so much I want to see and know.
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Old 30th January 2013, 04:46 PM   #5
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I find I have a lot more free time on Sundays.


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Old 30th January 2013, 05:03 PM   #6
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Benefit of belief: When bad things happened to me, I told myself that I was chosen for some reason.

Benefits of nonbelief: When bad things happen to me, I don't take it personal. I see a stronger connection between cause and effect and often find myself in awe at how chains of events can be set in motion years and years before it reaches me. I don't really see a distinct divide between "good and bad" people anymore.
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Old 30th January 2013, 05:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jim_MDP View Post
I find I have a lot more free time on Sundays.



That's me.
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Old 30th January 2013, 05:34 PM   #8
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Benefits of belief: Being able to think that I was being taken care of by an omnipotent force, believing that I'd see deceased loved ones again, divine justice, feeling like I had a purpose "better/more meaningful" than what I can create for myself, community

Benefits of atheism: no cognitive dissonance, periodic empowerment with the idea of creating my own meaning, more sympathy for others and ability to forgive, not having to worry about loved ones roasting in hell, understanding that s*** happens and not constantly worrying that god was punishing me/"teaching me a lesson" about something
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Old 30th January 2013, 05:35 PM   #9
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Non-belief gives me the freedom to trust my own intellect.
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Old 30th January 2013, 06:22 PM   #10
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I'm free of a lot of rules and expectations. Some are trivial - I get to relax on Sunday instead of going to Church.

Some are more important - I get to judge things on what I see as their own merits, rather than what my religion requires me to believe. For example, I have no problem with homosexuality since I don't have any holy book telling me that the creator of the universe thinks it is an abomination. That's probably made a few friendships easier. Nor do I have to feel guilty about things I do myself that are "sinful" - if I want to look at a beautiful woman lustfully or whatever, I'm free to do it and not feel bad about it.

And that kind of links into some of the deeper things, the way I feel about myself and the world. I don't see myself as this inherently flawed, fallen, corrupt being that deserves the most horrific punishment imaginable. I don't have to walk through life fearing that that could happen because I have an unacceptable attitude about the most trivial of things.

And I get to look out at the universe and marvel at how amazing it all is. I always thought that the truth about the universe that we've uncovered are so much bigger and more majestic than any book of human fables. If I found that christianity or some other religion were true, I'd be crushed because in the end they are so small compared to the reality.
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Old 30th January 2013, 07:14 PM   #11
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I don't know how to answer the question- I have been an atheist since I was a child, so I have no adult reference for what belief is like. I suppose, non-belief allows me to be myself.
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Old 30th January 2013, 07:56 PM   #12
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I grew up in a Christian tradition and considered myself a believer of a sort for some time, largely by simply deferring problems with belief, figuring some day maybe ideas that made no sense would sort themselves out. So I'd say my main benefit as a nonbeliever is that I can relax.
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Old 30th January 2013, 10:34 PM   #13
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The same benefits that I've gained from believing the sky is blue, gravity sucks, and that dogs bark.
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Old 31st January 2013, 12:25 AM   #14
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When I switched from agnostic theist to agnostic atheist a few years ago, it was because I realized that I could not in good conscience testify "Yes, the gods are real" in a court of law.

The initial phase was one of adjustment, a bit of loneliness and a bit of guilt at having delayed that growing-up, as I relegated the interlocutors of My thoughts to the status of imaginary friends.

As I settled into the new groove, though, it came as a relief. I felt that I was coming from a more honest place than previously.

And if ever I should stumble upon serious evidence for god-like entities, I can hopefully examine the evidence with a bit more objectivity.
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Old 31st January 2013, 12:48 AM   #15
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sleeping in on Sundays
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Old 31st January 2013, 01:00 AM   #16
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I've been an atheist since I was so young that I really only experience the annoyance of people's questions really.

as someone said on here one time, being an theist is like not being a stamp collector. I don't really know what the benefits of not collecting stamps are... other than I don't have books of stamps lying around.
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Old 31st January 2013, 05:26 AM   #17
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I remember church being all about confusion and keeping my mouth shut. It was wrong to ask questions. It was even more wrong to not understand in the first place.

For me, freedom from religion allowed my thoughts to blossom into the joy of exploration and wonder. But it took time; I had to unlearn the fear of asking "why" and "how". School was little help -- it merely replaced the authority of the Church with the authority of the Teacher. Asking questions was encouraged, but not understanding in the first place was still punishable.

I had to graduate from both before I could take charge of what I wanted to ask without fear of punishment.
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Old 31st January 2013, 05:36 AM   #18
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I'll be honest, there were a lot of things that were really positive about believing. I was a part of a big ready-made community of like-minded people - I didn't realise how much I was going to miss that, and popping along to a carol service for the tradition of it was very bittersweet. I also took a lot of comfort in the belief that there was a plan and a reason for everything, that someone was in control, and above all that I was loved. And the occasional "spiritual experiences" (sometimes more frequent and deeper than others) were very positive, to the point of being addictive.

Since I gave it up, I suppose the only thing I've really got in exchange for all that is a huge reduction in cognitive dissonance and the indescribable liberation of being able to think freely and reach conclusions without having to constantly pass my thoughts through a sort of internal censor. For the first time in my life, I can genuinely follow where the evidence leads me, rather than following a little way, glancing nervously at the map, and deciding that I don't like the look of the territory up ahead so I'd better turn round to be safe.

I think that's a good exchange, but even if it wasn't, I wouldn't regret deconverting. I'd rather live in grim reality than blissful delusion, so to be consistent, I must honestly assess the evidence. It's to my shame that it took me so long to do it. If there is a God, there should be enough evidence to convince me of that fact, or at least to leave me open to the possibility. If that evidence is lacking, it would be dishonest to myself and others to carry on as if it were true, however much I might want it to be.
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Old 31st January 2013, 05:38 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
I've been an atheist since I was so young that I really only experience the annoyance of people's questions really.

as someone said on here one time, being an theist is like not being a stamp collector. I don't really know what the benefits of not collecting stamps are... other than I don't have books of stamps lying around.
Exactly.

-

There is a sort of assumption implicit in the thread title and the OP that this is a cost-benefit analysis, or a weighing up of the factors. However, we're not talking about buying this washing machine as opposed to that washing machine here. This isn't a subject in which the personal ramifications either way can be weighed in the balance. "If I carry on deluding myself I'll at least get invited to the vicar's tea party every spring"....isn't the sort of conversation the sane have with themselves.

Mike
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Old 31st January 2013, 06:15 AM   #20
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I can rape and pillage without fear of going to hell.
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Old 31st January 2013, 07:01 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by fagin View Post
I can rape and pillage without fear of going to hell.
And there's the baby bar-b-ques. A keg of beer, some babies on the barbie then an orgy of sex with everything within range animate or not. After that Solemn High Mass seems a bit tame.
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Old 31st January 2013, 07:09 AM   #22
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I have a hard time thinking of any great benefit I ever got from Catholicism. The incense stunk, the host stuck to the roof of my mouth, and I always felt guilty after wanking and having "impure thoughts".
The music was pretty bad, and usually in Latin.

Now, I don't have to avoid eating or not eating things, my Sundays are free, and I can wank to my heart's content without guilt or fear.
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Old 31st January 2013, 10:14 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
I have a hard time thinking of any great benefit I ever got from Catholicism. The incense stunk, the host stuck to the roof of my mouth, and I always felt guilty after wanking and having "impure thoughts".
The music was pretty bad, and usually in Latin.

Now, I don't have to avoid eating or not eating things, my Sundays are free, and I can wank to my heart's content without guilt or fear.
100 points for complete honesty!
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Old 1st February 2013, 10:51 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
I have a hard time thinking of any great benefit I ever got from Catholicism. The incense stunk, the host stuck to the roof of my mouth, and I always felt guilty after wanking and having "impure thoughts".
The music was pretty bad, and usually in Latin.

Now, I don't have to avoid eating or not eating things, my Sundays are free, and I can wank to my heart's content without guilt or fear.
I would disagree (unless you are referring to hymns sung in church ). I have a fondness for western classical music, and much classical music, both voice and instrumental, is based on the Christian (including catholic) religion. I think it is generally pretty good. This, and some darn good paintings and sculpture, were the only real benefits to come from Christianity.
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Old 1st February 2013, 11:04 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by deaman View Post
I am not seeking rebuttal, or critique, on other people's beliefs. I am seeking your own personal experience in believing, or not believing in a god(s).

Thank you.
During my childhood I suffered various ailments which included asthma, spinal schliosis and a nervous disorder. Prayer didn't help and I got tired of being told it didn't work because I had no faith. How do you get faith?

At age 12 or perhaps even earlier I came to the conclusion that there was no god. I quit praying because it was a waste of time.

The only benefit of atheism in this situation is that instead of having faith in some invisible uncaring man up in the sky I had faith in modern medicine. I also no longer fear Hell or wonder what Heaven would be like.
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Old 1st February 2013, 11:25 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
I would disagree (unless you are referring to hymns sung in church ). I have a fondness for western classical music, and much classical music, both voice and instrumental, is based on the Christian (including catholic) religion. I think it is generally pretty good. This, and some darn good paintings and sculpture, were the only real benefits to come from Christianity.
Oh, I agree... It was OUR music that was bad. We had a choir director for many years who was a somewhat eccentric German guy who would tend to get a bit bombastic on the organ, while at the same time the official choir tried hard but had more than a few clinkers in the group.
As well, back in the 50s when I was in elementary school, they used to hustle us over to the church to sing funeral masses. In Latin. To the weeping mourners.....
Lemme tell ya... "Dies Irae" is not a fun tune to render if you're 12....

There's nothing better than Bach's "Tocatta and Fugue" rendered on a really big church organ....
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Old 1st February 2013, 08:38 PM   #27
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Well, for starters as a benefit of disbelief I am no longer expected to hate those who don't follow the "morality" of my old sect (Southern Baptist, so that's quite a lot of people).

Also, I no longer have the shackle of guilt hanging over me for doing the "sinful" sorts of things that two willing adults are sometimes inclined to do together, and that harms no one (In case you don't follow, I'm talking about dancing*).

Also, no more cognative dissonnence over trying to reconcile a 4 billion year old Earth and the Bible, and the free Sunday thing is a nice plus.

*what did you think I was talking about?
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Old 1st February 2013, 09:13 PM   #28
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Being an atheist, I only have to worry about dying. If I were a believer, I would have to worry about both dying and going to hell. Or heaven*.

Nor am I fond of the idea of a supernatural Peeping Tom hanging over me, reading my mind and watching my every move. A supernatural being who would do that in order to build up a dossier on little old me is not right in the head, IMO, and could not be trusted in the least. *The ones condemned to hell might turn out to be the lucky ones.

Of course there are a couple of other dieties in which one might become enthralled. But if I were a believer, I would almost certainly be of the local variety.
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Old 1st February 2013, 09:38 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by deaman View Post
I am not seeking rebuttal, or critique, on other people's beliefs. I am seeking your own personal experience in believing, or not believing in a god(s).

Thank you.
It doesn't matter. I can't believe what the evidence doesn't support, with the exception I believe I may win the lottery some day.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 10:02 AM   #30
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Sunday mornings free.
Fewer hypocrites met.
Less guilt trips laid on me.
More freedom to do what seems right rather than what some imaginary friend tells me to do. (Isaac, you know what I mean.)
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Old 2nd February 2013, 02:27 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by deaman View Post
I am not seeking rebuttal, or critique, on other people's beliefs. I am seeking your own personal experience in believing, or not believing in a god(s).

Thank you.
None. It's an irrelevancy. The only marginal impact it ever had was on morality, but I've always insisted that my moral code make sense to me, so any deity was outside of the picture anyway, even when I was religious.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 02:47 PM   #32
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I don't think I ever truly believed, but I did try very hard for awhile. Looking back, I had a much harder time dealing with depression whenever I tried to believe. My thinking was that if there was a loving God, and he was letting me suffer, did that mean I had done something to deserve it? When I finally stopped trying to believe I was able to start dealing with my depression as a mental illness and not some kind of divine judgement.

Oh, not having to get up early on Sundays is a nice benefit as well. Same with not having any guilt over what goes on in the bedroom.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 03:09 PM   #33
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What personal benefits have you found in either believing, or not believing in a god?

Well you see that's sorta the problem. The accuracy of a statement about how the universe works isn't effect by personal benefit.

Whether or not my life would be better if I held the opinion that God existed isn't the point. I didn't sit down and weigh the pros and cons of believing in God, I sat down and weighted the pros and cons of evidence for God. Even if I accepted that my life would be better (that is it would have as you say "benefits") if I believed in God, that wouldn't change my opinion as the validity of his existence.

But to answer your question as best I can, FTR I have always been an atheist and there was no point at which I could intellectually form an opinion on the matter that I ever really seriously entertained the notion that God exists, .... er it has its ups and downs. It gives a sense of personal freedom and intellectual responsibility that I enjoy. It makes me value my own life and the life of others more knowing that this life isn't a test run for some afterlife. I get to sleep in on Sundays and can eat bacon.

I'm not totally lacking in some respects for some sense of admiration for certain aspects of religion. I can respect the emotional value in ceremonies to mark significant events in our lives, I think even a totally secular world would retain some... ceremonial aspects for birth and death and falling in love and reaching adult hood. Remove the superstitious nonsense and I wouldn't be totally adverse to just gathering with friends and neighbors once a week in a special place and just reflecting on what we have, where we've been, and where we are going. And while I personally don't really like overt symbolism, I do "get" it.

It's really just the "Believe things without sufficient evidence or believe things which are provably untrue" part that I never got along with.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 07:35 PM   #34
RandFan
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Originally Posted by JoeBentley View Post
What personal benefits have you found in either believing, or not believing in a god?

Well you see that's sorta the problem. The accuracy of a statement about how the universe works isn't effect by personal benefit.
I think your point needs to be made. Even if we were to assume that a belief in god made a person happier it would not change the truth value of the belief.

"The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality." -- George Bernard Shaw
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Old 2nd February 2013, 07:47 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by RandFan
I think your point needs to be made.
While I agree with JoeBentley, I have to disagree that the point needs to be made here. We all need to be aware of it, yes, but it's sometimes interesting to ask questions like the OP did, to explore our own motives and our own views. WHY we answer the way we do is the important part of such exercises. It's kinda like an inkblot test we can give ourselves. I got the impression that the OP was well aware of the fact that personal benefit doesn't influence reality (though I could be wrong; I don't know deaman that well).
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Old 2nd February 2013, 08:09 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
While I agree with JoeBentley, I have to disagree that the point needs to be made here. We all need to be aware of it, yes, but it's sometimes interesting to ask questions like the OP did, to explore our own motives and our own views. WHY we answer the way we do is the important part of such exercises. It's kinda like an inkblot test we can give ourselves. I got the impression that the OP was well aware of the fact that personal benefit doesn't influence reality (though I could be wrong; I don't know deaman that well).
And to be fair I did honestly try to answer his question to the best of my ability. My opening statement was as much for context of my response as to make a counter point.
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- Major in philosophy. That way you can also ask people "why" they would like fries with that.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 08:18 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
While I agree with JoeBentley, I have to disagree that the point needs to be made here. We all need to be aware of it, yes, but it's sometimes interesting to ask questions like the OP did, to explore our own motives and our own views. WHY we answer the way we do is the important part of such exercises. It's kinda like an inkblot test we can give ourselves. I got the impression that the OP was well aware of the fact that personal benefit doesn't influence reality (though I could be wrong; I don't know deaman that well).
We can disagree.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 08:30 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by JoeBentley View Post
And to be fair I did honestly try to answer his question to the best of my ability. My opening statement was as much for context of my response as to make a counter point.
I didn't mean to imply that your post was without merit. Like you said, you answered the OP--it's just that you also raised an interesting side-issue as to the value of these discussions.

Originally Posted by RandFan
We can disagree.
True, but there's little value to it. I knew we disagreed when I gave my reasons for disagreeing with you.
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Old 3rd February 2013, 01:30 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
True, but there's little value to it. I knew we disagreed when I gave my reasons for disagreeing with you.
The value is that reasonable people can disagree when there is an impasse as opposed to debating for page after page making the same arguments in different ways. I don't know about you but I find value in that.
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Old 3rd February 2013, 09:27 PM   #40
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1. Dead people can't watch me shower.

2. Monsters from another dimension won't torture me after I die.

3. A powerful otherwordly being isn't planning to kill me one day.

OR IS IT!!!!!

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