Crowbar suggested an open thread for people to share their religious or non-religious perspectives. Ask and ye shall receive. James's blog Comments Wow, are all of these non comments really what everyone feels? How about this....God is suppose to be all-seeing, all-knowing. He knows how many hairs are on your head. So why did he allow Cain to murder Able? I mean, he told Cain his offering wasn't as good as Ables knowing that Cain would end Able's life in a jealous rage....he knew this would happen. He knew when he told Adam and Eve not to touch the fruit of knowledge that they would eat it anyway. Don't tell me free will, that just doesn't make sense if God knows everything that has and will happen. So my theory is that although I believe there is a God (because I have seen so much evidence of it in my life)I don't believe the bible is exclusively the word or God. I believe that the bible is the word of man written to keep the peasants in line through fear....the great manipulator. How's that for a start? My friend Jim says we're more powerful than god since we invented him/her/it in the first place. My general take on the whole business is that we're all free to believe whatever we want. That's the very nature of "believe" as I understand it. But there's a line that should never be crossed - the line in which one person's beliefs are imposed in any way, shape, or form on another. I'm a strict adherent to the importance of separating public policy from religious belief ... though I understand that's a distinctly minority opinion in today's hyper-religious world. God is ________________ a little blog with some blanks filled in. Interesting a 100 years ago, when I was young, I studied and practiced transcendental meditation. It brought a lot of peace to my life during a period that I desparately needed peace in my life. One of the lessons was that we all have a piece of God in us because he made us, therefore each of us is God. I liked that thought but when I tried to create things I needed out of thin air it was an epic FAIL! God is..... hope, that there is something beyond this life. That when we die it is not the end of our consciousness that there is something more. God is... everything. Dark and Light, Life and Death. "Evil" occurs when imbalance occurs because we, individually or collectively, act out of sync with nature. God has . . . many faces, many names. All of those names and faces are correct. That's my belief now. I reserve the right to change my mind at the slightest provocation. :) Religion is... A subject I avoid at all costs unless I know the other person is mostly like-minded at at least very level-headed. Even then there are less treacherous subjects I'd prefer to discuss. On just about any other subject, I prefer talking with someone with a differing perspective. Because we just can't face the abyss on most days, the human mind constructs a "virtual" support system for the rest of them. In everyone There is that of God in everyone, but some are better at hiding the light than others. --- Ed Ridpathwww.EdRidpath.com Religion and Politics Religion and Politics are the only two things that human beings believe in even though they have no proof of the validity of what is being said. The best thinking is independent thinking. I buy into the school of theological thought found in folks like John Shelby Spong, which says that the whole notion of theism—that is, that God is a being like us only better, smarter, wiser, bigger, more powerful, more in control, more whatever—is a desperate clinging to some Powerful Other so as to allay our fundamental or existential anxiety about life. Theism worked for a long time; it helped explain earthquakes and thunderstorms and disease. Yet as Spong and others have noted, the advances in our scientific and technological understanding of how the world works is putting that theistic God out of a job. That doesn't mean that I don't believe in God. I certainly do. But not a theistic God-Being-Thing. Confusing belief, actually. Look, I loved your prose...but honestly, it doesn't mean much to the more illiterate layman here. Me? I'm an agnostic. It's easy to know what that is just by going to www.dictionary.com. Put in "agnostic" and it'll explain it to ya. I have to live my life believing that I must be successful on my own and make my own way. I can't rely on something/someone that I question exists. The best thinking is independent thinking. Agnosticism works for me a lot of the time too. My mental Awaiting-Further-Enlightenment box is pretty damned full. (Sorry for the theological technospeak. Three years in seminary will do that to you.) I liked it Sort of like academic writing ... where the form is part of the substance. Me too...but it's a problem for me I'm a "conservative republican" and am active in my county's party. Being an "agnostic" has caused me some difficulty because, for the most part, my brethern come from the Christian Right. I am a republican because I'm a conservative, not a Christian-conservative and I believe that our country would be best served by electing representatives that are conservative both socially and fiscally. So, I work for people that run for office that have that belief. I've been very involved in a number of people's campaigns because I believed they believed as I do. But, most of those folks were "christians"..."saved"..."born again". Me? Well, NOT. But, I loved their politics. Hopefully our party will be able to integrate everyone, regardless of faith, within the party. Saving that, I think we've got a long, hard road. The best thinking is independent thinking. Good luck Good thing you're not an atheist. That would be an even longer, harder road. Regardless of party affiliation... Regardless of party affiliation, the majority of the people in our country are going to have a long, hard road, in my opinion. And, it's not going to matter what your religious preference is...atheist, agnostic, Christian....WHATEVER. This isn't going to be up to "God"...if he does exist. Our solution, as a country, is going to be up to us. I'm thinking that 50 years from now, this period in our country's history is going to be studied extensively. The best thinking is independent thinking. Science and Belief I grew up a pretty weak Christian. Then, I became a scientist and thought I was an atheist or at least agnostic. But, in the end science has led me to believe that we just don't know what is out there. I think all of life as we know it right now is controlled by atoms and molecules and forces, but I don't think that means we understand all the forces at work. I believe in the big bang and I think the "Seven Days" is really an analogy to describe how the world and life was created over time through the laws of physics and biology. But, I also know that there is a paradox at play when you start talking about the beginning of the universe, because you don't know what was there beforehand. Does our "universe" actually exist in a soup of other universes that are constantly bubbling up into existence and then shrinking back out of existence? If you don't know what exists outside our universe, then you take it as faith that there is no great power stirring the soup. The same way that others take it as faith that there is a great power intervening in their lives every day. Faith is faith. I know evolution happens. I know that the Bible is not literal. I know that the spirit is more than our brain, even while understanding that our brain is much more than most people think it is. I believe in the power of prayer, but not that God comes down and individually answers all your prayers. I believe in the teachings of Christ, but not in the teachings of Christianity. I understand that the Old Testament is the OLD Testament. I have faith, but I don't believe that everyone is good, especially those with faith. I believe most people are born to be good and just people and are ruined by us, while understanding that genetically some people are born to do what they want regardless of the good or bad of the results. Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over. -me I really enjoyed reading this, Robert You make a lot of sense - and that's not easy when talking about faith. Thanks! I've spent a lot of time thinking about religion/spirituality/science over the years. Even read the good book from cover to cover. Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over. -me I enjoyed it, too And I apologize for now creating the conundrum that you still might feel the need to bludgeon me anyway. ;) Consider yourself mauled. Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over. -me God is What caused us to here, but I do not know how he did it,and he is not ready to tell me, and I have more pressing matters currently. The Bible should not be taken literally and many both pro and con of the Bible take it out of context, and use their reason to prove their point with information they are taking out of context, but if used correctly the Bible is the best guide to life ever written. Jesus was God's special one though why him is not something I waste time pondering. He had a connection to God none of us have or will ever have, and he could do things none of us can ever do, but I do not spend much time worrying how he did it, instead I concentrate on what he had to say. Sin is in the world all over it, and each of us are overcome by it. No one sin is better or worse than the other in the eyes of God. Thorough prayer and reaching out God I have been able to do some amazing things I would have never been able to do, no one will ever convince me this just happend or it was a big coincident or that I could have done it without God. However, I think a small dose of deism is a good thing, as long as you do not become comsumed by it. And when I die my soul will escape my body and go whever God choses, but I do not spend much time worrying about it, that will take care of itself in good time. For now I just continue down this remarkable path of God and I look foward to wherever he wishes me to go. As I have said I will never believe this was all some big coincident because that would even be a bigger miricle than God, but if I am wrong, I have had a great life and I lost nothing here following it. The biggest problem I have with the Bible The Bible was written some 300 years after Christ walked the earth. Now, if the Internet was in place back then, I might have far more respect for what was written in that book. However, that isn't the case. Stories were passed on that ended up somehow being "gospel". But then, that's just me. I have no problem with people living their lives based on the moral values presented in the Bible. Obviously there are many things about what was written therein that has had a great impact today with regard to human conduct. The best thinking is independent thinking. Have you read "Misquoting Jesus" It's non-fiction - a fascinating view of how the translations got translated and changed over time. Author is Bart Ehrman. My book (Jesus Swept) is fiction with a similar theme. Why I feel as I do I graduated from Elon College...now Elon University...and to graduate back in the '70's (not sure what the requirement is now), you had to take two religion courses. I enjoyed the two I took so much, I took two more than required. What I took away from that experience is that there are just SOOO many religions in the world that it would be extremely difficult for anyone to tell me that one of them is "THE" religion. There are many dieties...many philosophies...so many rituals and customs involved in so many different beliefs...from Asian cultures to American Indian cultures to Eastern European cultures and, of course, the religions that came out of the Middle East that so dominate today's focus. How can someone that has been introduced to so many of the religions of such a diverse world make a choice which is "THE" religion? And, the one question I have always had ever since my days at Elon was..."If a person were to choose the wrong religion...what is his/her fate?" With so many to choose from...what becomes of those that are raised to believe different from what would be the true religion loving the true God and living the life of a true believer? Think about it. How could anyone truly know? The best thinking is independent thinking. Zackly My sentiments exactly. Well said. Huh! Which Bible? There are 2000 thousand different bibles! The Bible was written some 300 years after Christ walked the earth. Now, if the Internet was in place back then, I might have far more respect for what was written in that book.* Bible Thumper Smitty Don't worry Brother Smitty! The internet was around than, just the rich romans and the Barbarian leadership only had access to it. "Bible Thumper Smitty"?????? What's THAT all about???? The best thinking is independent thinking. That's Max. Don't try to overunderstand. Just go with the flow. Comprende Gotcha. The best thinking is independent thinking. There's wisdom in there and it's definitely worth finding. My approach is to let it wash through me. Some amazing stuff sticks, but you can't look at it straight in the eye. Maybe it's like being a dog whisperer. Max is a dog, after all. (Hi Max. Don't mean to be 'splainin' you like you're not here. We love ya man.) Which version, Max? The one that Paul carried, obviously! You know, the King Jimmy Version. With the important stuff in red! (An interesting read) Well.. I asked for this thread but never put in my thoughts. I had Internet problems for the past couple of days )or maybe god killed my ISP). I was raised evangelical Christian. Then I became agnostic. Then I converted to Judaism because I liked the idea of good works over faith although I still remained pretty much agnostic. As most of you know, I will graduate from St. John's this spring. Because it is a private school, theology courses can be legally required. I have taken courses on Catholicism, The Mystery of God, and Christian Philosophy, to name a few. What catches me every time is those who believe that the Old Testament was written during the Exodus and the New Testament was written the day after Jesus died and is therefore historically accurate. Nobody ever talks asks why burning bushes stopped talking, or why water doesn't come out of rocks on command, or why plural marriage is no longer cool but divorce is and gay marriage isn't. Nobody ever talks about Jesus' brother James who felt that non-Jews must convert to Judaism before converting to Christianity. Nobody ever talks about how if it were not for Martin Luther all Christians would be Catholics. Nobody ever talks about the debates in the early church over whether Jesus was divine, or human, or human and divine. In the end, this is what pisses me off, that the majority of Christians I talk to have no idea of how their church was formed. That Jews (of which I consider myself) still believe in burning bushes and a secret tablet. That Muslims believe in a guy that melded both religions with his own twist. If faith makes you feel better, that is fine. But if you look at it historically, none of these so-called "holy" texts have been changed and manipulated centuries and millenia after the fact. This should have no bearing on science, actual history, or politics. Those who quote Leviticus to ban gay marriage ain't coming out for slavery or stoning or plural marriage. And they are basing their bigotry on something they really know little about. In organized religion, god is who your imam, rabbi, priest, or preacher tells you on the weekends. It has little factual and no scientific basis.