Religion
#1
Like other threads in this forum, this discussion has the potential to go downhill very quickly. Simply put, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it. This is in the "Mature Discussion" forum, so hopefully we can have a mature discussion without any slurring or drama. I'm sure you guys are smart enough to figure out for yourselves when you shouldn't speak.

That said... religion. What do you think of it? What's yours, if you have one? How do you act towards people in other religions? Are you practising?
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#2
I'm an atheist. I need science to explain things. However, I'm pretty sure Jesus/Buddha etc. existed, but weren't like Superman or anything....
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#3
(02-12-2015, 10:34 AM)Digital Hazard Wrote: However, I'm pretty sure Jesus/Buddha etc. existed, but weren't like Superman or anything....
These people definitely existed! I don't think there's really any dispute about that.
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#4
My mom is a baptist, and my dad is a lutheran. What does that make me? Neither! >D

I don't have a religion, but a part of me does believe there is some higher power. I don't know if it's a who, or a what, or if it's just a figment of my imagination.

However, I won't turn down someone if they offer to teach me about their religion. For all I know, what they preach could help me find one for myself. That said, I try to avoid those that preach, and tell you you're going to hell for not blindly believing the faith they were forced to believe in as a youth. *cough*majority of my mom's side*cough*

Those that believe in something, I can't fault them. Those that force their beliefs on others, however, I have an issue with, nd I will even go out of my way to question their faith and beliefs. Partly to see just what it is they see in their 'God', and partly because I'm a jerk.

Sorry if this was a rambling, confusing mess of a post. I haven't slept, and right now, my body feels awake, yet I can't feel my brain x.x
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#5
My beliefs are sort of tangled up in a bunch of personal speculation, so I don't think anyone shares my exact beliefs. To over-simplify it, though, I'm a panentheist. According to Google, panentheism is the belief that God is greater than the universe and includes and interpenetrates it. Basically, I have trouble believing that an anthropomorphic god could ever exist, because assuming that the creator (which is assuming there is one, still, but I digress) is like is is an exceedingly, well, human thing to do. As Einstein puts it, "It is always misleading to use anthropomorphical concepts in dealing with things outside the human sphere—childish analogies. We have to admire in humility the beautiful harmony of the structure of this world—as far as we can grasp it, and that is all."

So, put simply, God is the lifeblood of the universe. He transcends existence as we know it, and yet existence as we know it is contained within it. It's... somewhat difficult to explain, but once you grasp the general idea, it becomes a lot more viable. If you want to read up on it because my explanation was bad, Wikipedia is always a good place to start.
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#6
I have no religion. I just don't care if there is a god or gods or if not, let's just focus on being excellent to each other and the natural world. That's what's important, not what comes next or why we're here, but to do our best here and now. I believe God 'exists' only in the sense of a Big Good/Bigger Bad in a storybook. The Bible is fiction, I have WMG regarding it. I believe Jesus existed, though, and did have a lot of good things to say.

I define 'faith' as without religious context, myself: it's about trusting people and having hope for the future. Religion can give you the second (though I consider it a poor character trait if you NEED some sort of holy book or supernatural being to tell you to be nice people), and if it does, good for you! Even if I don't agree, so long as you don't obnoxiously insist you're right and everyone else is wrong, you keep that religious belief, you keep living your life right according to that, and things will go great for you. A bit of religion can be a good thing for those who use it like this. It's when it gets organised that it all goes wrong, there'll be a power structure, people will want that power, those who get will abuse it, and a lot of it ends up poisoned against its original intent. Others will not actually believe it, merely claim they do and use it as a shield for their own horrendous and bigoted beliefs that involve not being excellent to each other.

My stance on Christianity specifically (with the possibility of Judaism and Islam getting involved as well, they're the same to a fairly large extent and I have a theory that those three gods are actually the same con artist who promised the same spot of land to two different groups of people, one group of whom spawned a third) is that either God is benevolent and his word got horribly corrupted somewhere down the line, or he's an evil, cruel, vicious bastard but Jesus was way cool. Seriously, I have another pet theory that, after he was done telling mortals to be excellent to each other, he went and preached at God to be nice for once.

In general, my stance on religion is that it's like a penis: it's fine to have one, it's fine to be proud of it, but don't pull it out in public and wave it around shouting that it's the best there is, don't go door to door and shove it around there, and certainly do not shove it down my children's throats.

I have a separate rant regarding forcing beliefs on children that doesn't just apply to religion so I'll leave things here.
This often catches me out, too, but Xander the Crocoal is female.
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#7
I'm agnostic. I'm cool with all religions and those who believe in them. Extremists and similar people should not be considered as members of the religion they claim to follow. Those who bash religions or bash those without religion need to learn to get a grip.

That's all I feel I need to say about the situation, really.
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#8
I'm an atheist. But not of the militant douchebag variant, mind -- I'm not only cool with religious people (as long as they practice their own and don't bother others), but I also find religion to be an intriguing subject, particularly in its inextricable link with history, which is one of the subjects that most intrigues me. So I'm actually moderately well versed in quite a few things religious, although I'm definitely no expert or anything.

That said, I'm definitely of the belief that there is no God, neither in traditional definitions nor in any unusual cosmic sense. It's just what works out best for me, really. And of course, if a God is what works out best for others, then that's cool. I feel that religion is first and foremost very personal -- it's even about what you want to believe. And this tends to make me distrustful of religious organizations/preaching folk, because while there's nothing wrong with practicing faith as a group, things get weird when you start having someone who tells you what your God is supposed to be. No one should tell you that. Others can inspire your own God, but they never ought to force it to be the same one.

(02-12-2015, 10:34 AM)Digital Hazard Wrote: I'm an atheist. I need science to explain things. However, I'm pretty sure Jesus/Buddha etc. existed, but weren't like Superman or anything....
Science... doesn't have a lot to do with it. Religion is spiritual, personal and subjective; science studies that which is objective. One doesn't interact with the other. Doesn't mean you have to accept religion, but it's important to know that there's more to life than that which is in the scope of science.

And besides, Buddhism is a nontheistic religion...

(02-12-2015, 12:04 PM)Dazel Wrote: My beliefs are sort of tangled up in a bunch of personal speculation, so I don't think anyone shares my exact beliefs. To over-simplify it, though, I'm a panentheist. According to Google, panentheism is the belief that God is greater than the universe and includes and interpenetrates it. Basically, I have trouble believing that an anthropomorphic god could ever exist, because assuming that the creator (which is assuming there is one, still, but I digress) is like is is an exceedingly, well, human thing to do. As Einstein puts it, "It is always misleading to use anthropomorphical concepts in dealing with things outside the human sphere—childish analogies. We have to admire in humility the beautiful harmony of the structure of this world—as far as we can grasp it, and that is all."

So, put simply, God is the lifeblood of the universe. He transcends existence as we know it, and yet existence as we know it is contained within it. It's... somewhat difficult to explain, but once you grasp the general idea, it becomes a lot more viable. If you want to read up on it because my explanation was bad, Wikipedia is always a good place to start.
Ah, I've heard of panentheism. To put it even more basically, it's the belief that God is everything. It's pretty interesting... I remember about a poet who is a panentheist, but I can't recall any verses from him that actually mention or discuss it (and since he'd write in Portuguese, it'd be a little difficult to pass anything along to here anyway...).
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#9
(02-12-2015, 04:57 PM)Metallica Fanboy Wrote: Ah, I've heard of panentheism. To put it even more basically, it's the belief that God is everything. It's pretty interesting... I remember about a poet who is a panentheist, but I can't recall any verses from him that actually mention or discuss it (and since he'd write in Portuguese, it'd be a little difficult to pass anything along to here anyway...).
Well, I didn't want to say that mainly because it potentially leads to the conclusion "God is everything, so everything is God," which is just... bad, at least in terms of my beliefs. That's pantheism, which I think is similar in concept but quite different in nature. Pantheism (as opposed to panentheism) always struck me as sort of... strange.
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#10
(02-12-2015, 05:02 PM)Dazel Wrote: Well, I didn't want to say that mainly because it potentially leads to the conclusion "God is everything, so everything is God," which is just... bad, at least in terms of my beliefs. That's pantheism, which I think is similar in concept but quite different in nature. Pantheism (as opposed to panentheism) always struck me as sort of... strange.
Ah, I was actually thinking of pantheism (I though maybe it was called something slightly different in English, haha). Got my wires good and crossed there...

So I guess it's a kind of subtle distinction -- it'd be not that that God is everything, but that God is in everything... Just as the names imply, I guess.
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#11
Ah, religion, where do I even begin?

I'll start with this - like Metallica Fanboy, I find religion fascinating from a distance. I enjoy learning about the history behind their origins, their impact on different cultures, and the conflicts that arise from disputes. I do not, however participate in any religious practice - not my cup of tea, really.

I'm not an atheist either, though I will admit that I essentially don't believe in a higher being. Whenever someone asks me about my religious beliefs, I reply, "Agnostic Apatheist". The distinction is basically this - I believe that it is impossible to confirm or refute the existence of a god (Agnosticism), and I don't really care either way (Apatheism). I live my life the way I want to live it, guided by moral guidelines rather than moral codes, and so long as I'm content with myself, that's all that matters in the end.

That being said, my family is Roman Catholic, and they raised me as such. I went through the religious cycle from the Baptism to Confirmation, and after giving it many chances, I decided that it wasn't for me. Several things turned me away - traditions and rituals that never really seemed necessary to the big picture, being forced to adopt ideas that I could not make my own, and the subjective nature in how things were depicted. Why was church necessary? How can you label an action 'good' or 'bad' without considering the circumstances leading to that action (i.e. why is killing always bad)? Why is God always depicted as male? I've never been satisfied with the answers to such questions - so I decided to stop forcing beliefs upon myself, choosing to find my own beliefs and values instead.

And that's the thing that irritates me the most about organized religion - the entire foundation is spoon-fed to you at an early age. In other word, you are given the answers, and they have to be right. No thinking required for things that are absolutely true without question.

It's this sense of 'absolute' that I have come to disregard from my beliefs. I don't believe in right or wrong (good or evil) that isn't bound to a frame of reference. I don't consider scientific facts to be 'the truth' either; rather, I see them as our current understanding, which seems right but could very well be wrong. Based on my experiences, I've concluded that nothing really has to be permanent - not the universe, not the laws of physics, not even reality itself. That's not to say that permanent things don't exist though... which brings me full-circle back to my religious stance: I don't have the ability to know, so I need not worry about it!

This is getting lengthy, so I'll wrap this up here. Essentially, all of my beliefs spawn from a few fundamental ideas: Showing is preferable to telling, questions are preferable to answers, and relative is preferable to absolute. And that is why I'm Agnostic. I'm fortunate to have an immediate family that happens to be moderately comfortable with that. And for anyone who is willing to tolerate my own beliefs, I am willing to do the same for them.
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#12
Yeah, why not.

*cracks knuckles*

So, I am a self-described "cold blooded atheist." I describe myself as such even though I'm not entirely sure what I mean by that. I suppose it's a play off my own perception of religious folk as perceiving atheists like myself as being cold or callous. And I'm sure that's a blatant over-generalization. But it's also an admission that I'm exactly that cold and calculating - at least in terms of philosophy. I view the world entirely and exclusively through the uncompromising lens of logic and reason. I simply don't accept the inverse, faith, as a viable means of understanding the world.

I realize that I'm painting myself in a very aggressive and stand-offish manner, but I'm (fairly) certain that I don't actually behave that way. I'm extremely confident in my own beliefs, but I don't push my views on other people. Again, fairly certain. I do greatly enjoy philosophical discussions/debates, but I don't force them. And, of course, I have friends of all different faiths, including those devoutly religious, look how tolerant I am, etc. etc.

Really, I don't much care what your specific beliefs are. What I do care about is how you argue them. Again, my understanding of the world is governed by logic and reason, which is much more about formulating effective arguments than what the specifics of your ultimate conclusion is. My main problem with religious views is that I have yet to find a single compelling, well constructed argument in their favor.

This is a little example of how I think: consider this basic, ultra watered down argument. "God is real!" "No, God is not real!" The actual views displayed here are irrelevant, as my issue has nothing to do with them, and indeed, I see this problem everywhere, in a huge variety of topics. My entire problem with these arguments is the word "real." What does "real" mean? No seriously, what does it mean? Consider: "That's not real." "Well, it's real to me." The fact that both these sentences make sense to us reveals the inadequacy of the word "real" as a term with which to qualify the topic of discussion. Specifically, this shows "real's" ambiguity of definition. How can you qualify something if you don't know what your qualifier means? Now consider: "That doesn't exist." "Well, it exists to me." You can't use "exist" with the same double meaning as you can "real." By using stronger, more easily definable terms to qualify the topic of discussion, you build a stronger argument. That is the first step. The second is defining those terms, and providing that definition as a reference point of the discussion.

Think about it: "God does exist!" "No, God does not exist!" If you know the strict definition of the term "exist," then answering this supposedly unanswerable question is simply a matter of thinking: does the definition of "God," as I know it to be, fit into the definition of "exist," as I know it to be? This, of course, raises a whole other argument: what is the definition of "to exist?" But this is a much more meaningful, more productive argument. My logic is that if you come up with a definition of "exist," no matter what it is, then you can simply consider whether God fits in that definition, and whether He does or does not, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE RIGHT - within that definition of "to exist."

Takeaway: instead of arguing circles around each other with vague and subjective arguments, focus on coming up with strict, specific definitions for the terms you're using, so that you may have a stronger foundation on which to propose arguments. Obviously, the specifics above apply only to a rather narrow set of arguments (this is/is not that), but I've found that that particular argument structure is fairly common.

Okay, but what are my specific beliefs? Well, they pretty much live and die on my own definition of "exist." I define something that "exists" as "being detectable, measurable, and/or calculable." I'm actually not sure whether I should use "and/or," "and," or "or." I'm still working on that part of this definition. God is actually difficult to compare to this definition, so I will start with an easier example. The soul. As of present, we have never been able to detect, measure or calculate the presence of the soul. Sorry, we haven't, and there is no arguing that we have. Is there the possibility that we could detect it in the future with higher levels of technology? This is, admittedly, something of a grey area in my argument, as I cannot say what technology we will have in the future. But there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that our failing in this manner is for lack of technology. I can't hold out doubt because it "could be out there." There are infinitely many things that "could be out there" but which there is no evidence for; why is the soul any different? So the soul is undetectable, unmeasurable, and uncalculable. By my definition of "exist," the soul does not exist. That is an objectively true statement. Thus, even if the soul is real, it does not exist - again, by my definition of the term.

So. God. God is difficult because while we can't directly detect, measure or calculate God in the universe, there are many things people can point to and shout, "Look! God!" The big bang, for example. How did that thing happen? Do you know? 'Cause I sure don't, and physics doesn't. Right now. But the fact remains that no one can directly and unambiguously detect, measure or calculate God's effect on the world. Thus, by this definition of "exist," God does not exist. Again, even if God is real, He does not exist.

By now you may be noticing a pattern. When I say "detect, measure or calculate," what I really mean is physically detect, measure, or calculate, meaning that anything that doesn't have a verifiable physical presence in the universe does not exist, according to my definition. This is true. I'm fairly sure the counterargument to that is that the universe does not have to be purely physical, that there are/can be metaphysical or spiritual elements to the universe that science cannot detect. But this is where my distinction between "real" and "exist" really becomes important. I don't care whether any of that is real or not, because I don't know what "real" means. What I do know is that regardless of its realness, no metaphysical or spiritual element has a physical effect on the physical universe. If it has no effect on me or anything I know to be true, then what does it have to do with me at all, and why should I care about it? Once again, even if it's REAL, it does not EXIST. I simply do not feel the need to concern myself with things which cannot be objectively understood.

If you're still reading, I commend you. I have a tendency to be somewhat long winded when it comes to, well, anything. Anything that I care to be long winded for, anyway. Again, I hope I haven't been to aggressive or stand-offish in my presentation of my views.
कालो ऽस्मि लोकक्षयकृत् प्रवृद्धो लोकान्समाहर्तुमिह प्रवृत्त
“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
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#13
...You're a Vulcan, aren't you. :P

Honestly, I found your argument to use definitions of terms being debated to be decidedly interesting. I haven't come across that before. Very interesting indeed.

I'll come out and say, right now, that although I am decidedly a physicist and highly appreciate realism in fiction and debate because of that, most of my views on religion come from morality. It's more that I have a moral compass, I believe it's immoral to shove beliefs down people's thoughts, I believe it's moral to let people decide entirely for themselves with as much information as possible, etc. The biggest reason I don't believe in the Christian/Jewish (possibly Muslim as well, I don't know the Qu'ran well enough) God is because, as my interpretation of the Old Testament of the Bible (much of which is taken from the Torah) proves, God is a highly immoral, selfish, homicidal bastard. I just cannot put any faith into such a horrible person. Admittedly, this comes from the interpretation of this God as, well, a PERSON, rather than something akin to the metaphysical entity of Dazel's beliefs, but I'd rather believe in someone or something anthropomorphized. I can't put belief into something so...eldritch.

I also believe that souls do exist, if only because neuroscience cannot yet explain how the things that make us human in thought and emotion, the things that make up the soul, actually exist. This is what religion starts as, answers for the as-yet unexplainable (and telling people moral codes they should live by, but I think that if you absolutely need a moral set of rules written down in order to be moral, you're not actually a moral person). My biggest gripe with fundies is that they continue to use the same old outdated rules where new answers and situations need a completely different set of rules. They continue to harp on that the outdated rules are correct, when the new situation proves them as IMmoral. If a tool doesn't work, you recast it. If an answer you had before no longer fits, you find a new answer and apply that (unless the situation allows the old). It is on this principle that science is founded.

And this is why I don't like debating my beliefs. My view on the soul is based on the subjective, on faith, on a distinct LACK of hard data. Yet I hate dealing with the subjective, I want cold hard answers, I want hard data. This contradiction is annoying but I don't want to let go of my current subjective beliefs until the data proves they don't work. I hate to be cliche here, but at this time, you cannot prove a soul DOESN'T exist. If this makes me feel a little more comfortable, so be it. Just hurry up with that research!

Oh, and Black? For making me doubt myself again, you get stabby time. *raises knife*
This often catches me out, too, but Xander the Crocoal is female.
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#14
Time for me to rip people apart with questions! :D Feel free to totally ignore them, I guess; I know religion can be a touchy subject for people even if they're not particularly religious, so if I'm overstepping my boundaries here, just ignore me, or tell me so.
(02-13-2015, 10:42 PM)Bake-kujira Wrote: That being said, my family is Roman Catholic, and they raised me as such. I went through the religious cycle from the Baptism to Confirmation, and after giving it many chances, I decided that it wasn't for me. Several things turned me away - traditions and rituals that never really seemed necessary to the big picture, being forced to adopt ideas that I could not make my own, and the subjective nature in how things were depicted. Why was church necessary? How can you label an action 'good' or 'bad' without considering the circumstances leading to that action (i.e. why is killing always bad)? Why is God always depicted as male? I've never been satisfied with the answers to such questions - so I decided to stop forcing beliefs upon myself, choosing to find my own beliefs and values instead.
Essentially what I got from this was that after some time in an orthodox, Roman Catholic church, you became fed up with the bigotry and forcefulness of it all— basically, you didn't like the amount of "absolutes" in religion. For example, killing is always wrong, and God is always a male, as you said. It's understandable that your dissatisfaction with these seemingly uncompromisable truths of religion, so you drifted away and drew your own conclusions. However, I'm curious as to why exactly you drifted from theism altogether, and came to the conclusion that you just aren't sure. I suppose it's because the way my mind works, but I can't understand being content with not knowing, and not seeking answers. Aren't you even a little curious? Even if you don't think you have the capacity to understand it all, wouldn't you like to grasp as much as you could? It just seems... odd to me that instead of drawing your own conclusions about the religion itself and drawing lines where you disagreed, you entered a sort of neutral zone. I'm not attacking your opinion or anything, I'm just really curious about your train of understanding and I want to comprehend how you arrived where you are.

I just... the part that's hardest for me to understand is that you don't seem to want to know. Perhaps I interpreted the post the wrong way, but basically I arrived at, "There's no way I can ever know for sure, so I shouldn't worry about it." But... shouldn't that make you worry more? Shouldn't you want to understand as much as you possibly can about the world around you? I think agnosticism in general has always confused me, and... well, now I have an opportunity to ask. Sorry if I'm coming off as too assertive.
(02-14-2015, 04:29 AM)BlackInfinityEE129 Wrote: But it's also an admission that I'm exactly that cold and calculating - at least in terms of philosophy. I view the world entirely and exclusively through the uncompromising lens of logic and reason. I simply don't accept the inverse, faith, as a viable means of understanding the world.
This... is somewhat confusing as well. You're suggesting that faith is the direct opposite of logic, which is really not true at all. Logic is the use of deductive reasoning and consideration of precedents to draw solid conclusions, and that can indisputably happen spiritually as well. I feel like a lot of the arguments that claim religion is illogical stem from the generality that every religious person is an gung-ho, science-hating ignoramus, which is no more true than assuming every homosexual is a pink-clad sassmaster with an evident lisp. There is certainly a balance between faith and logic— indeed, faith is, by definition, logic, as it's a conclusion drawn based on evidence that people have found relevant in their lives. Just because you don't agree with a particular standpoint doesn't mean it's ignorant or illogical; it just means people are applying evidence in different ways than you are. As Bake-kujira has pointed out, there's no way you can know that there is no God or that no religion is valid any more than you can know that a scientific approach is true. Sure, I believe in scientific evidence and I'm a firm believer in the concepts of evolution and the Big Bang theory and basically every other widely-accepted scientific conclusion, but I could be wrong. We could all be wrong. Not everything with evidence is inherently true, because if it were, this would not be an argument. Again, I don't mean to attack you, but this seems exceedingly... one-sided. No points are conceded here.

(02-14-2015, 04:29 AM)BlackInfinityEE129 Wrote: This is a little example of how I think: consider this basic, ultra watered down argument. "God is real!" "No, God is not real!" The actual views displayed here are irrelevant, as my issue has nothing to do with them, and indeed, I see this problem everywhere, in a huge variety of topics. My entire problem with these arguments is the word "real." What does "real" mean? No seriously, what does it mean? Consider: "That's not real." "Well, it's real to me." The fact that both these sentences make sense to us reveals the inadequacy of the word "real" as a term with which to qualify the topic of discussion. Specifically, this shows "real's" ambiguity of definition. How can you qualify something if you don't know what your qualifier means? Now consider: "That doesn't exist." "Well, it exists to me." You can't use "exist" with the same double meaning as you can "real." By using stronger, more easily definable terms to qualify the topic of discussion, you build a stronger argument. That is the first step. The second is defining those terms, and providing that definition as a reference point of the discussion.
This is a valid standpoint, I suppose, but a lot of it goes down the drain when you take into account that not everyone is correct. When someone says, "It's real to me," that's because they believe it's real so strongly that they've accepted it to be so, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is. The same is true for the opposite: you could be "positive" that there is no God, but just because you feel so strongly about it doesn't mean it's true, because humans are fallible, and more often than not, we're wrong. If each side of the argument was without a shadow of a doubt true, then the word "real" would begin to lose its meaning, but this is by no stretch of the imagination the case. "Exist" and "is real" are roughly synonymous; perhaps, if you delved too deeply into the semantics, you could find differences, but for the sake of this conversation, if something is real, it exists, and if it exists, it is real.

(02-14-2015, 04:29 AM)BlackInfinityEE129 Wrote: My logic is that if you come up with a definition of "exist," no matter what it is, then you can simply consider whether God fits in that definition, and whether He does or does not, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE RIGHT - within that definition of "to exist."
Here's the thing, though: you don't get to come up with what "exist" means. And, even if you could, so much of the scientific community is based around hypotheticals (you know, things that aren't calculable, for if they were, there would be very little speculation surrounding them); for example, if black holes were proven not to exist (which is still possible; there are plenty of people asserting this claim), a good amount of the conclusions we've reached would crumble. We build fragile "what ifs" on top of other, somewhat sturdier "what ifs," and all it would take is one yank at the bottom block to bring the entire tower crashing down. With the logic you're using, I can make literally any claim about anything, because I can change the meaning of a word to suit my needs. For example, perhaps my hand is bright green. You might protest that it isn't really; it couldn't be! No one on this world is born with a bright green hand. But to me, bright green is the same as skin colour. My argument loses credibility very quickly because I'm changing generally accepted terminology and twisting it grossly to suit my needs, which basically causes the entire argument to crumble. Just because you can, doesn't mean that you should, and it certainly doesn't mean that your argument remains valid just because you say so. Again, humans are innately fallible, and that's not a matter of religion.

(02-14-2015, 04:29 AM)BlackInfinityEE129 Wrote: I'm still working on that part of this definition. God is actually difficult to compare to this definition, so I will start with an easier example. The soul. As of present, we have never been able to detect, measure or calculate the presence of the soul. Sorry, we haven't, and there is no arguing that we have. Is there the possibility that we could detect it in the future with higher levels of technology? This is, admittedly, something of a grey area in my argument, as I cannot say what technology we will have in the future. But there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that our failing in this manner is for lack of technology. I can't hold out doubt because it "could be out there." There are infinitely many things that "could be out there" but which there is no evidence for; why is the soul any different? So the soul is undetectable, unmeasurable, and uncalculable. By my definition of "exist," the soul does not exist. That is an objectively true statement. Thus, even if the soul is real, it does not exist - again, by my definition of the term.
This, too, is an understandable opinion; however, it becomes a bit trickier when you take into consideration that neither you nor anyone else actually knows what a soul is; if anything, it's more of a symbol than an actual thing that people think dwells inside them. You're not going to extract some body part and suddenly find a soul there; it's not physical. You probably aren't going to like this, but the universe is definitely not a physical thing. Gravity is calculable, which you seem to like, but it's not something we can touch or feel. You can't point at gravity and say, "Yep, this is gravity." We've all generally accepted it to valid because there's so much evidence for it, but can you see it? Is it really physical? You can calculate whatever you wish, if you create a scale for it, so the ability to calculate something doesn't really prove its existence. We can calculate equations, but when was the last time you saw a number walking around? Would you argue that mathematics are real, even though their physical existence is no less detectable than that of a soul? You claim that no one can provide solid, unbreakable evidence for the existence of a God, but even if they did, would you really accept it? Or would you dismiss it as religious nothingness and search for a scientific explanation? It's a strange but widely-accepted generality that God reveals himself in magical, breath-taking, divine ways, but why? Why can't God be a scientific God? Why can't there be a bridge? Surely, if God is as omnipotent as his followers say, surely he's omniscient as well. Couldn't he have staged this himself? Why should he feel the need to give you solid proof? What are you to a God who created an entire universe? Requesting solid proof is a human thing to do, and I'm no better; even now, as someone who claims to be at least somewhat religious, I'm digging for scientific answers. The difference between you and I, however, is that I haven't dismissed religion altogether just because God hasn't given us some kind of stone evidence that he exists. It's been made somewhat clear that that's not what he's ever going to do, and that's where faith comes in. The ability to draw a conclusion even though you can't point at it and say, "Hey, it's God!" or, "Hey, it's a black hole!" Faith is just as abundant in science as it is in religion.

That's... all I have the energy to type, at the moment. My apologies if I seemed abrasive; this is... how I talk about things, I guess.
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#15
Being able to explain or justify a belief is often a great challenge, but one necessary to overcome. I think it's awesome that everyone who has posted in this thread seems to have a distinct perspective on religion, and it works to everyone's advantage to ask and answer questions.

If anything I say doesn't make sense or doesn't appear to be justifiable, I implore you to get on my ass about it. I mean... be respectful, but there is nothing wrong with challenging opinions or asking questions!

I'm going to start packing my replies into spoilers, as these are going to be some lengthy posts.

[spoiler=@Dazel]
(02-14-2015, 12:34 PM)Dazel Wrote: Essentially what I got from this was that after some time in an orthodox, Roman Catholic church, you became fed up with the bigotry and forcefulness of it all— basically, you didn't like the amount of "absolutes" in religion. For example, killing is always wrong, and God is always a male, as you said. It's understandable that your dissatisfaction with these seemingly uncompromisable truths of religion, so you drifted away and drew your own conclusions. However, I'm curious as to why exactly you drifted from theism altogether, and came to the conclusion that you just aren't sure. I suppose it's because the way my mind works, but I can't understand being content with not knowing, and not seeking answers. Aren't you even a little curious? Even if you don't think you have the capacity to understand it all, wouldn't you like to grasp as much as you could? It just seems... odd to me that instead of drawing your own conclusions about the religion itself and drawing lines where you disagreed, you entered a sort of neutral zone. I'm not attacking your opinion or anything, I'm just really curious about your train of understanding and I want to comprehend how you arrived where you are.

Theism never came naturally to me. It wasn't merely a disgust for organized religion, but more that the ideas were never compatible with me in the first place. I've considered them for a long time, and eventually came up with my conclusion.

It's not even really about bigotry or intolerance at all. Sure, it does give me reason to dislike organized religion, but I am well aware that most people are not hateful in this way. I have no ill will towards the church community that I was raised in. The people are kind and understanding, and genuinely believe in what they preach and practice. But I slowly realized that I didn't agree with their beliefs, and so I went my own way.

If I were just criticizing the organized religion, I would adapt it to fit to my needs. But I was not able to do this, so I searched for my own beliefs. Does that make sense?

Quote:I just... the part that's hardest for me to understand is that you don't seem to want to know. Perhaps I interpreted the post the wrong way, but basically I arrived at, "There's no way I can ever know for sure, so I shouldn't worry about it." But... shouldn't that make you worry more? Shouldn't you want to understand as much as you possibly can about the world around you? I think agnosticism in general has always confused me, and... well, now I have an opportunity to ask. Sorry if I'm coming off as too assertive.

I am a very curious person, and my I do want to know as much about the world around me as possible. Your conclusions of me are spot on... but think of it this way. In terms of heaven and hell, god or no god, good and evil... those things aren't quantifiable like the speed of a train relative to light. Like BlackInfinity, I only really care about things that I can observe, using terminology that is clearly defined. In that way, I start with the bottom questions and work my way up.

I sometimes joke that my religion is "Practicalism", by which I mean, "Truth is only in something that has use". We can be reasonably sure that the laws of physics are true, not only because they make sense, but because we can use them to our advantage with reasonable success. As such, I'm primarily interested in understanding things that I can use to do things. So as far as "not wanting to know", it's more of a "there are more important things to know". I'd rather spend time trying to understand how the brain works than coming up with valid explanations for why or why not god exists.

Agnosticism is being okay with uncertainty, and in some sense, it is okay with being in vain. I like the idea of vanity - that we are not important (anyone remember the name Insignificant Organism?)- and that the only meaning of life is the one that we create for ourselves. Life is all I know for sure, and as such, it's really all I care about. Someday, we may be able to answer questions that religions claim to have. I don't believe that day is today, and I don't believe that day will come in my lifetime. So why would I worry about it? [/spoiler]

[spoiler=@KathiraNarae]
(02-14-2015, 12:19 PM)KathiraNarae Wrote: I also believe that souls do exist, if only because neuroscience cannot yet explain how the things that make us human in thought and emotion, the things that make up the soul, actually exist.

...

And this is why I don't like debating my beliefs. My view on the soul is based on the subjective, on faith, on a distinct LACK of hard data. Yet I hate dealing with the subjective, I want cold hard answers, I want hard data. This contradiction is annoying but I don't want to let go of my current subjective beliefs until the data proves they don't work. I hate to be cliche here, but at this time, you cannot prove a soul DOESN'T exist. If this makes me feel a little more comfortable, so be it. Just hurry up with that research!

This intrigues me, mainly because I view the soul as an abstract concept, not a thing that can exist or not exist. You could say that the soul is a physical part of the brain, or that it is a collection of different parts of the brain, or most commonly, something that is completely separable from the physical human body.

So then, what is a soul to you? [/spoiler]
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#16
(02-14-2015, 02:37 PM)Bake-kujira Wrote:
(02-14-2015, 12:19 PM)KathiraNarae Wrote: I also believe that souls do exist, if only because neuroscience cannot yet explain how the things that make us human in thought and emotion, the things that make up the soul, actually exist.

...

And this is why I don't like debating my beliefs. My view on the soul is based on the subjective, on faith, on a distinct LACK of hard data. Yet I hate dealing with the subjective, I want cold hard answers, I want hard data. This contradiction is annoying but I don't want to let go of my current subjective beliefs until the data proves they don't work. I hate to be cliche here, but at this time, you cannot prove a soul DOESN'T exist. If this makes me feel a little more comfortable, so be it. Just hurry up with that research!

This intrigues me, mainly because I view the soul as an abstract concept, not a thing that can exist or not exist. You could say that the soul is a physical part of the brain, or that it is a collection of different parts of the brain, or most commonly, something that is completely separable from the physical human body.

So then, what is a soul to you?
I more mentioned the whole neuroscience thing because I do believe that, at some point, science will have found answers for everything. As things stand now, and as they will likely be in this department for the next coupla centuries, they is no scientific explanation for a soul yet, nor the collection of human-only bits of emotion and reason and stuff that is often called a soul (only mentioned to try and provide a sort-of definition for what the soul is or does). Personally, I do believe the soul is separate from the body of the individual, though inexorably linked until death, but the only real 'evidence' of the soul is what it does to the mindset, the collection of emotional and logical and thingical stuff that can't actually be explained by 'this part of the brain says this, and that part controls that'. Some would say that it's all firing neurons and flowing hormones but there has to be something more than that. A reason either to do with a soul or that will be neuroscientifically explained quite a long time down the line. For now, all I actually have is faith.
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#17
This really deserves a bump. Why did it die in the first place?

Continuing from where we left off with souls, I will elaborate on what I think of them. I mentioned briefly in my last post that I view them as abstract concepts. For this, I have to dive into a Neuroscience topic: The Engram. What is an engram, you ask? You'll find many different definitions for it, but for now, we can think of it as the physical representation of a memory located somewhere in the brain. Trying to find this 'unit' of memory has been a goal for Neuroscientists for a very, very long time.

The scientific perspective is this: we have memories, and we know the brain is what controls and manages them. Therefore, there must be a physical representation somewhere in the brain. It could be a single component (unlikely), or perhaps exist as a bunch of different parts of the brain (more likely), but whatever it is, logic demands that it exists. How else could a brain function, without a place to store memories? Short and long term memory are to the brain as RAM and Hard Drive space are to a modern-day computer.

Here's where the soul comes in. The soul is the essence of a person. But that is little more than the experiences that you hold onto as you grow. In short, I consider them roughly the same idea, but from different perspectives. The soul is usually thought of as being separate from the body, where the engram is exclusively physical and neural. We have no concrete proof that either one exists.

You can believe in both the engram and the soul. I'm sure many people do. But I think they contradict each other. Strictly speaking, all we are as humans is data. It certainly doesn't feel that way, but the evidence implies that everything we do, experience and think is ultimately the result of some neuronal activity going on throughout the body. If this is indeed the case, then there is no reason to have an immortal soul separate from the rest of the body. Unless, of course, you believe that we all get transported somewhere after we die, in which having such a thing would make sense. But having a soul that has to communicate with a body at every instance of its earthly life sounds inefficient. And of course, if there isn't an afterlife, there just isn't any reason to have a soul.

In short, I think the engram and soul are two sides of the same coin, but the engram is what I buy more. I don't try to understand things so abstract that they can't be quantified at even a superficial level.
When it comes to these really big questions, I reach for the low hanging fruit. That's just who I am. Some questions are better left unanswered - at least for now.
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#18
My stance on religion is a bit awkward. While I'd like there to be some higher power that's looking out for me and will take to a magical paradise land after my death, I can't say I believe in it very strongly, if at all. One of my best friends is super Christian, and he often talks to me about his own and others' religious experiences. I think they all sound pretty awesome, and I'd quite like to have one so I can start believing in something. Problem is they only seem to happen to people who already believe, which only reduces my belief.

I'm obviously fine with others having their own religions, nor do I really mind being preached at so long as it's in a 'this is what I believe' manner, rather than a 'you must believe this or you'll suffer eternally' manner. I guess I hope that one day I'll be listening to someone teaching their religion, and suddenly have an epiphany and become enlightened or something, but that's unlikely. I just can't bring myself to believe without concrete proof, which isn't really belief, is it?
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#19
Those sorts of experiences do tend to seem to happen to people who believe already, don't they? :P

I just had a thought regarding my views on religion. That my dislike of being religious is that too many use organised religion as a weapon to beat the masses into submission, to gain power for themselves and hold it for as long as possible. Maybe. Discuss.

(Short post is short but I'm bumping up my post count, here!)
This often catches me out, too, but Xander the Crocoal is female.
Avi by DevArt user DragonA7X, taken from here. Free to use.
'...No matter what you do or what you become: You are nothing less than beautiful.'--SCP-1342
'One voice is small, but the difference between zero and one is as great as one and infinity.'--SCP-1281
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#20
My take on god, religion, etc, etc, is pretty much same as on every philosophical case: We don't know anything of it now, we don't have any means to acknowledge it, and we won't have it in the close future, so why bother about it now, why speculate if it doesn't really bring up anything?
That said, I really don't give a thing about people's religious beliefs as long as they aren't a reason for them to kill me.
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