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does GOD exist?

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Joseph it seems a little odd to me that even today we cant prove this argument, one way or another?


message 2: by Keelin (new)

Keelin it depnds on personal views i fink.
bein catholic i fink he does exist but the foundation of any faith is dat ders an explanation fer anyfing dat we alone cannot do

the fact dat we cnnot prove it is wat makes most people fear faith

i was always taut dat jesus was born lived fer 33 yeers n was crucified for or salvation n 3 days l8r he rose from da ded n asscended into heaven

most choose not tey believe in god i fink bcuz of da hole armageddon fng



Joseph We cannot deny the fact that in the past, man attributed their fear + uncertainty of the environment they lived in to GOD.

Today, as we progress, we become more confident of ourselves and we are better off dealing with the environment we live in, through say knowledge that we acquired + discovered

Secondly, in my judgement, religious institutions are formed to control man. either it was the early intention doesnt really matter. This is done through:
(1) religious doctrines - when man 'represents' GOD to tell the ppl what should/shouldnt be done

thirdly, we modify religion and God to fit into our needs at a particular point in time

(1) the distinction between old/new testaments
(2) social status of women. The Churches dont seem to play the gender card these days, now that with the rise of gender equality?


message 4: by jeff (new)

jeff The simple answer to the topic is...no. And I totally agree that faith has been used to both pacify the masses and encite them to wage war.


Megan I cannot not believe in a god. I have tried in the past and the most I've been able to do is pretend that I don't believe, and then everything becomes so strange and incomprehensible that I stop pretending right away. But I find arguments on the topic interesting and engaging for the most part. Lewis' clear writing style really helped me find words for some things I never thought I could articulate about faith and christianity.


message 6: by Ilze (new)

Ilze Give Julia Cameron's book a read: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19...


Matthew Carlson I do not find it an oddity. If God wanted everyone to believe and is indeed the omnipotent, omnicient, and omnipresent deity He is professed to be he certainly is not in need of human reason to prove that He exists. He could I am sure manifest Himself in a manner that would leave little doubt in the mind of any human being as to His existence. However, He has not done so. It underscores the importance of faith I think. Rational argument may bring one to a point where belief is one plausible alternative but it will never be the only alternative.

Regards,
Matt.


message 8: by jeff (new)

jeff "Faith" is the suspension of rationality. Whether the decision to have faith is concious or the something programmed from an impressionable age, it is certainly not rational. All we really know, scientists and theologists alike, is that we really don't know very much. The world would be a much better place if more of us realized that.


message 9: by Ilze (new)

Ilze Whether "faith" is the "suspension of rationality" or not, according to most psychologists, C G Jung being the leading one here, human beings need to believe in something. If they don't they seem to have no reason for living. So, if you want to believe in God, or in Allah, in money or in alcohol, in love or in materialism, the human spirit is needy and that neediness is not a "suspension of rationality" but something required for survival/motivation to carry on living.


Joseph Replies to

(1) Message 5 - i m not denying your belief, by rationally speaking, i can also attribute that to self fulfilling prophecy. sometimes, many things are just make-believe

(2) Message 6 - thanks, would do...

(3) Message 7 - there is this 1 tribe in Africa that prays to the Sun-God. they believe that if they dont, the whole world will end/ collapse...even to this day, they hold firm to their belief. we can safely tag that as faith too, cant we? i believe that if GOD exists, there must be some rational explanations attached to it and faith is just for us to weather the storm. it would be really odd if faith is the only component underlying belief/religion...i can have faith in a great many things and i reason thats why ppl die for cults

(4) Message 8 - i agree with you. in addition, to me, if religion or anything ( GOD in this matter) is true, there must be some form of explanations to support it. for example, we believe that we have to undergo surgery to remove some lumps. that belief is found on modern medicine and science. we believe in that. faith comes into picture when we are really put under the knife...that few moments of uncertainty require our faith to believe in the surgery. all i m just saying that both (rationale & faith) must co exist harmoniously

(5) Message 9 - agreed. but just because we need to have faith or believe in sth doesnt automatically make GOD exist. his existence must be independent of our need. if not, we are merely crafting ourselves images of idols

tough isnt it? lol


message 11: by Ilze (new)

Ilze (5) Exactly. This is what happens (creation of idols) if people don't want to believe that God does exist! (because He undoubtedly does)


message 12: by jeff (new)

jeff Saying that faith is a suspension of reality doesn't really have anything to do the frailty or neediness of human beings (well maybe it does but that's another argument). A rat will forgo sustinence for sexual stimulation, people will forgo everything for the next fix. And while that desire, that need is real, it exists in the persons head. As for Jung and the others, there is a growing number of people who seem to find a reason to live w/o relying on God. Like our families, our passions of the arts, our professional pursuits, travel, etc..


message 13: by Natalya (new)

Natalya The fact that you are thinking about this shows that your alive, and that somehow you are in this reality which is a fact and this reality is created, and every creation has a Creator!... which is GOD you could believe that you don't exist but that won't change reality, God exists no matter what you believe, its a reality that you can't change.

A person believes that there is a God no matter what he says. its something that everyone is born with, and conscience. you don't have to prove that there is a GOD you have to prove that a person needs Christ.

Open ur eyes. look in the mirror. at the nature, the birds, everything around you! ... take sum time and get away from ppl and everything, drive out somewhere where its quiet, and just ponder...think...
reply to user of msg 12: What if ur wrong? wat then? u come to eternity, and then, wat u "THOUGHT" wont matter anymore. Eternity will come, and wat u chose for ur eternity, u will get that. U dont pick life, whether u want to be born and live or not..in the same way, u dont pick eternity... think deeper. there are way too many facts of God's existence...u just need to desire to find out the TRUTH..not just base ur beliefs on feelings, or thoughts, or philosophy...


message 14: by jeff (new)

jeff There is not a single "fact" that proves the existence of God. Then again it isn't about facts is it? Its about faith i.e. "belief that is not based on proof." Its a choice you make or is made for you before you have the ability to think for yourself.

To create infers itent on behalf of the creator. I believe, and I reiterate that I don't know, that what we see around us is the result of physics, not intent. I do not profess to know if there is a God or not. I think that there is not(the operative word being "think").


message 15: by Cédrik (new)

Cédrik YES HE DOES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


message 16: by jeff (new)

jeff Lets say faith is like an unproven hypothesis. A completely unproven, untested, unsubstantiated best guess of a scientist who really, really wants to be right. He or she has faith that his hunch is correct even though he has no evidence supporting it. He or she may even live by the laws set forth by their idea and endeavor to convince others to do the same. The difference between faith and the bad scientist this example describes, is that he can be proven wrong, at least to a significant degree. The existence of God cannot be disproven. Niether can the existence of Bigfoot, aliens, vampires, ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster, The Flying Spahgetti Monster, a link between 911 and Iraq, etc. None can be disproven. Does that in anyway compel you to believe in any of them?

And really "...as good as Christians"? Come on. Some are good, some are bad, like any other group. If you need religion to do the right thing, to consider those other than yourself, to be moral and ethical, than you kinda suck as a person, let alone a Christian. Don't ya think?




message 17: by Matthew (last edited Oct 21, 2008 10:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matthew Carlson Part 1 of 2

Envirojr,

What a fascinating but utterly erroneous conclusion: “‘Faith’ is the suspension of rationality.” So then you feel that faith is irrational? I might ask precisely how you define faith? An interesting argument is made by one religious thinker in regards to faith and it is as follows:

“faith is… the principle of action in all intelligent beings.

“If men were duly to consider themselves and turn their thoughts and reflections to the operations of their own minds, they would readily discover that it is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all action in them; that without it both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity, and all their exertions would cease, both physical and mental.

“Were each of you… to go back and reflect upon the history of your lives from the period of your first recollection, and ask yourselves what principle excited you to action, or what gave you energy and activity in all your lawful avocations, callings, and pursuits, what would be the answer? Would it not be that it was the assurance which you had of the existence of things which you had not seen as yet? Was it not the hope which you had, in consequence of your belief in the existence of unseen things, which stimulated you to action and exertion in order to obtain them? Are you not dependent on your faith, or belief, for the acquisition of all knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence? Would you exert yourselves to obtain wisdom and intelligence unless you did believe that you could obtain them? Would you have ever sown if you had not believed that you would reap? Would you have ever planted if you had not believed that you would gather? Would you have ever asked, unless you had believed that you would receive? Would you have ever sought unless you had believed that you would find? Or, would you have ever knocked, unless you had believed that it would be opened unto you? In a word, is there anything that you would have done, either physical or mental, if you had not previously believed? Are not all your exertions of every kind dependent on your faith? Or, may we not ask, what have you or what do you possess which you have not obtained by reason of your faith? Your food, your raiment, your lodgings—are they not all by reason of your faith? Reflect, and ask yourselves if these things are not so. Turn your thoughts to your own minds and see if faith is not the moving cause of all action in yourselves, and if it is the moving cause in you, is it not also the moving cause in all other intelligent beings?”

Syllogistically:

Premise: the “principle” which excites one “to action, or” gives one “energy and activity in all… lawful avocations, callings, and pursuit” is “the assurance… of the existence of things which you had not seen as yet,” that which has not yet been realized or actualized. It is “the hope which you had, in consequence of your belief in the existence of unseen things, which stimulated you to action and exertion in order to obtain them”
Conclusion: Thus “faith is… the principle of action in all intelligent [human:] beings.”

You appear to be arguing that any endeavor one undertakes for which one does not receive immediate compensation is then irrational. Thus believing that the Sun shall rise the next day is irrational (although one can site independent evidence for such a conclusion it is nonetheless quite possible although highly improbable that the Sun shall not rise)? What of one’s employment? As I recall one is required to toil first and receive payment later. Is this then irrational? Should I, in order to be rational, demand payment upfront for my labors? How about one of the examples supplied in the above quotation? Should the farmer leave off planting as irrational due to his faith in the harvest which usually follows? After all, all of the messy variables involved could result in no harvest at all. A freeze, insects, soil acidity; a host of reasons to rationally sit on ones rump and do precisely nothing. Indeed, why even pursue education? All of that expense and all of that time? Perhaps I should demand in advance my degree in order to be rational? After all, what assurance do I have that I shall have the funds from my employer to pay my tuition? What assurance to I have from my instructors that I shall be educated sufficiently to pass exams or even receive from them a fair grade? Why should I trust that the university shall even honor its commitment to bestow upon me a degree in evidence of my intellectual pursuits?

Yes, one could argue that all of these things have independent evidence which supports a belief in that which is not yet realized. The farmer can appeal to previous harvests, the rising of the Sun assured by it having arisen each day of one’s life previous, payment from ones employer in accordance with laws which insure fair remuneration of labor, even the regulations which govern institutions of higher learning. But in the end, what do you have to assure you, without any possibility of variation or alteration, that that which has happened in the past in a representation of that which will happen in the future? No assurance. In the end you act in faith; faith in the harvest, faith in the principles of celestial bodies, faith in ones employer.




Matthew Carlson Part 2 of 2

This is not to say that faith is entirely based upon a belief which is divorced from evidence in support of that belief. As I have noted, there is evidence upon which one can rely to assure one of the outcome of each of the examples provided. However, how is such secular faith any different than religious faith? You may reject another’s reasons for belief on the basis that you find them insufficient but I could just as easily reject the basis of the farmers sowing his field. The fact exists that they can provide what they believe are rational reasons for belief even if you find those reasons insufficient for your belief.

Indeed, I have yet to meet one possessed of faith who irrationally declares that they believe in the absence of evidence. They have in some sense been convicted of that which they believe even if they lack the empirical stick with which they might bludgeon others into submission. They cannot convince you that their belief is valid but for them to deny the reality of their experience is to them akin to looking into the sky above at noonday and declaring that the Sun does not shine. It’s it to them utter and complete irrationality.

One of course might argue that they have merely convinced themselves that they have experienced deity, that they are in actuality delusional. That of course would require demonstration but even assuming that such could in essence be demonstrated--that humanity by the millions is actually quite insane (or at least deluded)--would not one be forced to carry that conclusion to the remainder of the allegedly sane? Do they not also act in ways which contravene sanity as defined or which indicate a level of conviction inconsistent with the possibility of disappointment? What of the husband who marries a wife in hopes of an active physical relationship only to find out that she prefers cuddling and verbal affirmations of love rather than sensual expression? Was he insane? Was he irrational? He had the assurance of friends who told him their wives were quite frisky and yet his experience is quite the opposite. His friends can demonstrate through empirical evidence, through testimony from their spouse perhaps, that what they say is entirely true and yet for him, it is not. Is his experience a result of his actions? Are their experiences and how they relay them a matter of their perception?

I shall simply at this point assert that faith is not irrational. Being a biblical discussion I shall end with an appeal to Paul who defined faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This is not to say that faith (whether secular or divine) is without substance or lacks evidence but that the substance may only be that which is hoped for and the evidence that which one cannot see but which is nonetheless sufficient to convict.

Regards,
Matt.


message 19: by Matthew (last edited Oct 21, 2008 09:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matthew Carlson Joseph,

Being the author of “Message 7” I would like to address your response.

You noted “there is this 1 tribe in Africa that prays to the Sun-God. they believe that if they dont, the whole world will end/ collapse...even to this day, they hold firm to their belief.” You then asked “we can safely tag that as faith too, cant we?” Yes, indeed, I have no objection to referring to their belief as faith.

You stated that “i believe that if GOD exists, there must be some rational explanations attached to it and faith is just for us to weather the storm.” Actually, I do not believe faith and “rational explanations” to be quite as antithetical as you imply. Paul ties both “substance” and “reason” to “faith” and Peter encourages one to be ready to offer a reason for ones hope. Odd terms if faith is really the absence of “rational explanation.”

You noted that “it would be really odd if faith is the only component underlying belief/religion.” I never claimed that this was the case however. Rather, I noted that faith is an important component of religious belief and that such does require action in the absence of immediate gratification. If indeed God wanted us to believe solely on the basis of empirical evidence He is well within the limits of His alleged power to convince us all of His existence. However, He has not done so either because He does not exist or because there is some reason for not doing so. Still, he has not left those who believe without evidence. The great majority of those who take Jesus seriously in his challenge (John 7:17) are often convicted of the truth of His claims. They are altered in a fundamental way in pursuing the course he outlines (and indeed that is what Lewis posits as the purpose of obedience). They cannot deny the reality of their experience even if they cannot share it with you.

You also noted “i can have faith in a great many things and i reason thats why ppl die for cults.” Pejoratives like “cult” are useless. Any and all religious belief can be defined as a “cult.” Even political commitment can be considered cultic. National pride is cultic. You see the problem, that cult is a subjective pejorative that says little of an institution or system of belief and more about the individual employing the term, i.e. they do not like the particular institution or system of belief.

Faith may obviously be misplaced but that does not invalidate it. As I noted, the farmer who fails to receive a bountiful harvest may have been mistaken in having the faith the plant but that does not mean his faith was foundationless or that he should not have planted? What if the harvest had indeed been plentiful? How would he know one way or the other unless he planted? Yet nevertheless, he had faith that he would indeed reap so he sowed.

Regards,
Matt.


message 20: by Matthew (last edited Oct 21, 2008 10:19AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matthew Carlson Envirojr,

In reviewing the progression of the discussion I particularly liked this one:

“There is not a single ‘fact’ that proves the existence of God.”

Interesting, you accuse those of us who profess to believe in God of being irrational and yet you commit one of the classic fallacies of logic, i.e. the fallacy of arguing to ignorance. Since “There is not a single ‘fact” that proves the existence of God” then of course God must not exist, right? Arguing that something is false because no one has proved it to be true does not demonstrate that it is false. Lack of evidence is not evidence, either for or against the existence of God.

I might ask what “facts” you can provide that God does not exist.

Without evidence either way, it would be impossible to dispute or affirm that God exists rationally. Of course, what is a “fact” or evidence of God’s existence could be disputed couldn’t it? I feel that God has given me sufficient evidence of His existence but it is not evidence with which I might convince you of His existence. Further, since it is the claim of most Christians that God invites us to enter into a relationship with Him it would be difficult to enter into such a relationship if we a priori reject His existence.

There are many events which are experiential but not necessarily quantifiable. Take for instance the simple experience of tasting salt. Describe for me what salt tastes like? Can you? Would you be able to relay to me the scent of a rose? Even if you could relay to me in terms which I might be able to comprehend the simple experiences of tasting salt or the proverbial smelling of the roses would that elaboration convey precisely what the experience is like? I seriously doubt it. Yet I would not deny that you had tasted salt or enjoyed the aroma of a rose merely because you cannot describe it sufficiently to convince me you had the experience.

Regards,
Matt.


message 21: by Dusty (new)

Dusty I have facts that prove God exists. But I received those facts through faith, study, prayer, and answer to those prayers. This proof is mine.

Cynics and people who only believe in their own supposed intellect wouldn't benefit from my proof, because they didn't go through what I went through, and approach it as I did. But God has shown us the way to know. If somebody TRULY WANTED the proof, it is there. And the journey to get there is why I believe God doesn't lay it out for just anybody who doesn't want to work for it.

I have my facts, and after years of working to get them, I am content.


message 22: by Matthew (last edited Oct 21, 2008 03:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matthew Carlson Well Wittystar (formerly Joseph?), consider your question:

“we can safely tag that as faith too, cant we?”

And once again, if faith is the “principle of action in all intelligent beings” then we can indeed refer to their belief as faith, for it is their belief in the end result of their entreaties to the sun-god which motivates them to act as they do; and it must be a powerful motivation indeed.

You noted “since [you:] only believe in Jesus Christ” you have rejected their faith as “false.” However, this statement attempts to lay exclusive claim to the term faith, as if the only one who possessed faith was the one who professed faith in the person of Jesus of Nazareth and his identify as Christ. However, the terms usage in modern English has many connotations none of which allies itself to yours.

Consider all of the general definitions:

“1 a: allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1): fidelity to one's promises (2): sincerity of intentions 2 a (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust 3: something that is believed especially with strong conviction ; especially : a system of religious beliefs ” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictio...)

There is nothing wrong with redefining a term in order to apply it in a non-standard manner, but such redefinition should be explicit in order to avoid confusion. I did so when I defined the term as a principle of action in all intelligent beings but it would still be consistent with definition 2b(1), (2), and perhaps even 3 (above). For in the manner in which I have defined the term it does indeed imply “firm belief in something for which there is no proof” (proof being different than evidence), “complete trust,” or “something that is believed especially with strong conviction.”

As to “push[ing:] your religion” on others I did not interpret your comments as having that intention. However you cannot invalidate another’s faith through the use of the term faith. If you want to present arguments as to why you feel that faith invalid, lacking some necessary quotient, then you are of course free to do so but that does not change the fact that it is still faith.

Indeed, faith is action which results from a firm conviction in the outcome of that action. The farmer sows as he believes firmly that he shall reap. If he had not faith in the outcome, he would not sow. Consequently, this is why I believe the skeptic is unable to realize knowledge of God’s existence. He denies that God exists and so, as the faithless farmer, plants no seed.

I referred to faith as a principle of action. Indeed, even the apostolic Christians saw faith (Gr. pistis) as inextricably connected to action, for it was not merely a confession of belief but abstract constancy in ones profession. James counseled us to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving [our:] own selves.” (KJV James 1:22) Indeed, “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (KJV James 2:17)

Regards,
Matt.


message 23: by jeff (new)

jeff Matt

I do not believe I am guilty of the "classic fallacy" you claim. I did not state that the lack of fact or evidence proves God does not exist. In fact I repeated that I "think" and that I do not "know". I was merely responding to an earlier post claiming "...there are way too many facts of God's existence." There are none. And of course lack of evidence is not evidence. However, evidence of contrary ideas is evidence. Sort of.

I also did not say that believers are irrational, only that faith is an irrational behavior. Certainly we can all agree that perfectly rational people can engage in irrational acts.

Wittystar

I did not intend to imply that you are not a good person, how could I know? But I would still take exception to the statement "as good as true Christians". A freethinker has every bit the ability to be a good person as a "true Christian". Belief in a diety is not remotely necessary to be a good person. Then again, if it works for you, who am I to suggest you do otherwise.

One of the things about religious faith that I find problematic is the lack of open discourse. You can't often raise these topics w/o being considered somehow intolerant. Faith is simply off limits in most cases. In that sense I appreciate this discussion and have found it refreshing. So thanks.

Good night all, I have to go tuck in my little heathens.


Joseph thanks all for the lively debate! guess it must have opened up some rooms for further thoughts for all of us...thats why GOD as a topic never fails to fascinate me

based on the arguments above, i reason this as the ultimate conclusion, that " We cannot prove nor disprove God's existence"

To Matt
When you quote the scriptures, bear this in mind: It was in the council of Nicaea (a great many years after Christ has died) that the whole Christian theology/doctrine is uniformed. What i am trying to point to you is this: that your faith is built upon what a few men (great they may be) decided. The Council also created the Nicene creed which you now use as your weekly confession of faith. After your arguments above my only question to you is this: what really forms your faith and fuel your belief? What gives you this sense of faith when clearly the scripture and the doctrine are agreed by mere mortals? Especially when you quote with such pride and resolution? That never fails to amaze me, really. When i look around me ( men of the cloth and believers alike, i reason their "faith" is merely built upon a need for consistency ( i.e. just because i have believed in the LORD, so i must persist in the belief. and it's a proven psychological fact that man always strives for consistency!!!)

To the rest of you:
(1) the reason why religion and science are different is this: that science ALWAYS produces consistent results. and hence its reliability. when we discovered gravity for example, and established laws to it, the rules always apply. be objective, is this applicable to faith or religion?

some of you quote that "i believe because he exists" and when i drill further " how do you know he exists?" you reason " he exists because i believe", you are [ no offence:] being paradoxical

EVEN if i have this element of faith, ask yourselves can the trust be relied 100%? if GOD doesnt answer your prayer, you would say "Maybe i m not faithful enough or thats not HIS will" but when GOD indeed answers your prayer ( in the form of getting what you want) you say " GOD is alive"??? You get the drill??

People, against the doubts above, can you also deny that religion is an extremely powerful tool that can be easily manipulated? (and history has shown us so, without fail each time)

I stand to be vindicated

p/s: btw, just read somewhere that it's being reaffirmed that dark chocolate is good for health


message 25: by Ilze (new)

Ilze Do you know the story of Judges 6:36-38? Then Gideon said to God, "You said that you would rescue Israel through me. I'll place some wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the wool while all the ground is dry, then I'll know that you will rescue Israel through me, as you said," etc.
Surely if you know this tale (also in the sense that it's there for you to see and believe) and have also tested it yourself, there can be no doubt that God exists and hears You, has read this thread and knows that you are searching. If you put your hand in front of your face in the dark, how can you prove it is there without having the faith that it'll hurt if you pinch it?


Matthew Carlson Envirojr,

You claim that “I do not believe I am guilty of the ‘classic fallacy’ you claim.” If indeed you it was not your intention to argue that “the lack of fact or evidence proves God does not exist” then I withdraw the accusation. Yet the implication of such a statement as “There is not a single ‘fact’ that proves the existence of God” is that God then does not exist on the basis that there are no facts supporting His existence. Is this the basis upon which you reject the existence of God? If so, it is fallacious.

I readily acknowledge that you admitted “I do not profess to know if there is a God or not” preferring rather to state “I think that there is not” deliberately placing emphasis upon the word “think.” Again, you seem to be placing those who “think” at odds with those of “faith” implying that to have “faith” is to cease to think. I provided an argument to the effect that the one is not antithetical to the other, that thinker’s exhibit faith and that the faithful have not abandon thinking. You have yet to provide any refutation of that argument.

You object in your most recent response “I also did not say that believers are irrational” instead correcting my apparent misunderstanding with the words “only that faith is an irrational behavior.” So although the believer may or may not exhibit irrationality anyone who exhibits faith is indeed being irrational? As I argued at length, faith, or action undertaken without immediate realization of the intended outcome of that action, exhibits faith. Many act in consequence of evidence which would support a belief in the outcome of the intended action but they are still relying upon a belief and not upon a certainty. Is then faith irrational? I do not think so and have argued otherwise.

The issue of whether “perfectly rational people can engage in irrational acts” is an entirely separate from the issue of faith as a rational or irrational concept. I believe that the statement “perfectly rational people can engage in irrational acts” is set forth as an axiom but is utterly false. If one were “perfectly rational” then one would not engage in “irrational acts.” The sentence violates the most basic law of logic, that of non-contradiction; a thing cannot be both A not not-A at the same time in the same respect. Of course, you seem to be separating people from their acts and therefore could argue I suppose that rationality of being is not the same as rationality of action. However, we experience “people” within the context of their “acts,” so if ones actions are irrational, they are not “perfectly rational people.”

Regards,
Matt.


message 27: by Matthew (last edited Oct 22, 2008 11:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matthew Carlson Joseph,

You asserted:

“When you quote the scriptures, bear this in mind: It was in the council of Nicaea (a great many years after Christ has died) that the whole Christian theology/doctrine is uniformed.”

Actually, this is a misrepresentation of Nicaea. Nicaea did not provide uniformity of the entirety of “Christian theology” and or “doctrine.” Nicaea did indeed deal with several theological issues including the Arian controversy but this is far from being inclusive of all “Christian theology/doctrine.” Nor was Nicaea the last word in relation to the matters is was meant to resolve. Arianism plagued Christianity for centuries afterward.

You wrote further:

“What i am trying to point to you is this: that your faith is built upon what a few men (great they may be) decided.”

You presume a great deal. I do not accept the determinations of Nicaea as normative. In fact, I reject the lot as apostate. Regardless, in relation to Christianity, in the end one’s faith is always “built upon what a few men” declared. The gospels as well as the various epistles are all authored by men who claimed to have experienced in Jesus of Nazareth the Jewish Messiah. I wonder what point you might be trying to make.

You continued:

“The Council also created the Nicene creed which you now use as your weekly confession of faith.”

Another faulty assumption. I neither use the “Nicene creed” in my “weekly confession of faith” nor do I have a liturgical “confession of faith.” As I stated previously, I reject Nicaea and the creed which was the result of the deliberations of that council as superfluous at best (believing it better designated as errant).

You asked:

“After your arguments above my only question to you is this: what really forms your faith and fuel your belief?”

I assume you are using faith in the context of a “system of religious beliefs” rather than the insubstantial concept of “firm belief in something for which there is no proof”, “complete trust” or perhaps “something that is believed especially with strong conviction.” The latter lack a specific “form” and although may provide “fuel” for action are conceptual, not actual.

With this understanding I assume your question is meant to determine how I establish that which is normative in relation to theology?

Obviously that was not the “only question” for you also ask:

“What gives you this sense of faith when clearly the scripture and the doctrine are agreed by mere mortals?”

As I have defined faith (as action which is motivated by trust without immediate actualization) I trust that the words of the apostles accurately reflect reality. That in following the advice of Jesus as recorded by John one can truly come to a knowledge of the divine origin of Jesus’ words. Of course, such an actualization first requires the faith to act upon Jesus challenge but I have done so and have indeed been convicted of their origin in God. Having experienced God in such a way and knowing that this experience was the result of heeding the advice of “mere mortals” (John certainly falling into that category and his being the alleged author of the gospel which bears his name) I trust that these “mere mortals” may indeed be trustworthy on other matters the end result of which lies beyond mortal affirmation.

“Especially when you quote with such pride and resolution?”

Resolution? Yes. Pride? That all depends upon how you are defining the term. I would prefer assurance rather than pride. Again, possessing the knowledge that I do of God’s existence and the confidence I have in the New Testament as reflecting an ethic of value I am indeed resolute and assured in professing that ethic.

You then opined:

“That never fails to amaze me, really. When i look around me ( men of the cloth and believers alike, i reason their "faith" is merely built upon a need for consistency ( i.e. just because i have believed in the LORD, so i must persist in the belief. and it's a proven psychological fact that man always strives for consistency!!!)”

You speak as if ecumenism were a static concept within Christianity rather than a recent development; as if since 325 AD there has been a consolidated Christianity in which “consistency” was as creedal as Nicene Trinitarianism. Such was not even true of apostolic Christianity which battled such things as Judaizers, Antinomians and of course the Gnostics. Christianity is incredibly divisive being composed of multiple denominations and traditions which although putting on the brave face of unity are at their core exclusive. Indeed, there is perhaps no concept which has not been at one point been disagreed upon and debated and conformity has never been comprehensive.

As to “proven psychological fact,” a “man” (individually) may indeed feel a compulsion to resolve dissonance and reach harmony but men (collectively) are not so compelled, for the collective is quite disparate in their opinions and attitudes. Further, the manner in which a man might reach harmony is not limited merely to conformity with the masses. They may ignore the new cognition, alter their position in some manner which accommodates the new cognition but does not abandon the old, abandon the old for the new, etc. It is a fallacy of logic to apply that which is true of the individual to being also true of the collective.

Luther was not happy with indulgences so what did he do? Yes, he did indeed post his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg but eventually the resolution of his dissonance led to his abandoning Catholicism (or rather being excluded there from and in continued theological introspection creating his own interpretation and justification of the Christian message).

Really, you should be cautious of assuming my position. For though I may know a bit about Catholicism and Lutheranism I subscribe to neither. Although I am aware of and quite conversant with the Nicene Creed I dismiss it all as superfluous tripe. Indeed, if you were informed and observant in relation to religion, my affiliation would be obvious by now. Not necessarily in consequence of this response but certainly in consequence of the sources which I have used. You are of course free to merely ask.

Regards,
Matt.


Matthew Carlson Wittystar,

Well my apologies, for your response appeared to be referring to a response I penned to Joseph.

Although I have no doubt that you were elaborating upon your “opinion of faith” are you really sure that that opinion is representative of “faith as it is in my church.” That religious thinker that I quoted early on in arguing for faith as a principle of action was none other than Joseph Smith, Jr. so you may want to consider that as you revisit “faith as it is in my church.”

You noted that you “don't know which church [I:] belong to” and although I have not been explicit I make no secret of the fact that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called Mormons although I prefer the term LDS Christian.

Faith is at its heart action. Alma 32 in referring to a “desire to believe” has the following to say as well:

“even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.”

It is not a culmination of the analogy but the beginning thereof. Desiring belief, having yearning to discover the truth in belief or even the fulfillment which belief brings is merely where one may start in order to “give place for a portion of” Alma’s “words.” This he refers to the planting of a seed. If the seed begins to grow to expand you may know if its goodness, but even that is not the end of it all. However, again, desire is just the beginning.

I did not necessarily argue that “‘faith’ and ‘works’ are the same thing” but that faith is a principle of action which will result in works and that abstract constancy in ones profession was entailed within the meaning of the word translated as faith (Gr. Pistis) within many (if not most) of the passages in the New Testament. Ones faith in electricity and the mechanics of modern electrical circuits does not result in light. One actually has to flip the switch. In the same manner, “to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (KJV Romans 6:16) or in the words of King Benjamin “how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13) One cannot have faith without faithfulness.

And this is not merely true of those who believe in God. The electricity analogy (shamelessly stolen from Stephen E. Robinson) is merely one example. I used the farmer in quite a few other posts and it is the same concept at work there as well. If the farmer truly believes he will reap a harvest, he plants. If he does not believe, he will not plant. If one truly believes that they will attain a degree of higher learning they shall enter into an institution thereof. If they do not believe or at some point lose their faith in that outcome they will undoubtedly abandon it. Although faith and action are not the same the one necessitates the other.

Consequently, the flavonoids in chocoloate are believed to have antioxidant properties which encourage a healthy cardiovascular system. This is the primary health benefit asserted for such as I recall. Of course, it’s also quite tasty. I might invite someone to describe for me, assuming I had not tasted chocolate, precisely what it tastes like. It is another example of that which is experiential and therefore not intellectually quantifiable.

Regards,
Matt.


message 29: by Natalya (new)

Natalya Read what I wrote earlier. Think about the simple things. What do u have to say about that?

Like Matt pointed out... we all have faith in something. If u expect something to happen, or plan something, and have assurance it will work out, it is called FAITH. - belief in something that is not a fact.

And envirojr, u say u "think" and u "dont know". Then, why are u arguing for the "irrationality" of out belief, if u cant urself prove any of it being irrational. U at the same time prove urself thinking irrationally(no offense) , by calling faith irrational, since u, just like all of us, believe that u will live tomorrow.. right? When ur driving in a car, r u constantly worrying that ur gonna stop, or crash, or go swerving around and loose control of ur car? No, u trust that it will take u safe and sound to ur destination. I trust that the "gas meter" is showing right and u have enough gas, etc. What do u call that? Faith. U can only hope that all the controls in ur car are working properly, and showing the truth, and that ur car was made to be safe enough. So, think a lil deeper bout wat ur arguing. U can't not believe in anything. its impossible. What is the purpose of life then? Wat do u live for? Wats gonna happen tomorrow? in 2 hours? in a year?


Matthew Carlson Envirojr,

In considering the first paragraph of your response further I thought I would add a bit more in reply.

If it is not your contention that a lack of evidence proves God does or does not exist than I might question what relevance reason or rationality has to play in the determination that God does or does not exist. Indeed, reason in the context it is being used usually refers to “a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense” or “something (as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact.” However logic has to do with premises which establish a conclusion the combination of premises and conclusion comprising an argument. If one is merely asserting without reasons one way or another that God does or does not exist how does that relate to reason?

Indeed, how could one be said to be rational or irrational or to tout their position as rational as compared to an allegedly irrational one without having provided a rational basis for their position while establishing that the others is irrational?

Of course, even if you are not interested in God’s existence per se and are instead merely interested in establishing that faith is irrational then I would ask upon what basis you argue that faith is first related only to a belief in the supernatural (a position which I have argued against but which is what you seem to assert) and that faith is irrational? If faith is not merely a belief in the supernatural and is irrational than I might question how any of us can be considered rational since we are constantly acting on a belief in the actualization of that which is yet to be realized (which is to me, faith).

We can of course move on the determining whether or not faith is really irrational but I think further discussion would require a resolution of the above.

You wrote “There are none,” that is, no facts which would provide support for God’s existence. Precisely what would you accept as a “fact” and how would you define that term? Would you define the term as “a piece of information presented as having objective reality?” With “objective” being defined as “of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers: having reality independent of the mind.”Or would you prefer to define the term yourself? This is an important step in discussing “fact” as we can talk past each other with imprecise definitions?

You agree that “lack of evidence is not evidence” with the caveat “However, evidence of contrary ideas is evidence. Sort of.” How precisely is “evidence of contrary ideas… evidence” and what is it evidence of?

Regards,
Matt.



message 31: by jeff (new)

jeff Dude, I know you are trying to say something, but I can barely understand a thing through all the fancy talk. The topic is obviously dear to you and you have thought about it enough for both of us. I have reached my conclusions through consideration of what I have experienced and observed. I have seen nothing nor heard any argument that has given me pause. What fact would I except as evidence of God's existence? Any fact. Any real evidence. Certainly not circular talk and wishfull thinking. If you haven't realized though, I'm not looking for a sign from above. I don't need it. I'm satisfied with my place in the universe, as insignificant as it is. I don't expect nor desire a higher power to look after me (or punish me). I don't need a diety or his book of rules to tell me how to treat others. Every good thing anyone has ever done could have been done without divine interention (and was). Yet people's concept of God has brought terrible suffering for millions. Of course I don't blame God (none exists remember), I blame His followers. Self-righteous, closed minded, often bigoted, more often hypocritical, people. Not all, but enough.

Like I've said before, the question is not about facts or evidence. It's about what you THINK and not about what you KNOW. If you claim to know, you're wrong. The answer to the original question is unknowable. Maybe that is why it is an interesting topic, or maybe why we are fools for arguing about it.




message 32: by Natalya (new)

Natalya Envirojr, here's a website with some VERY interesting information on this topic.

Keep in mind, the day will come when u come before the judgement day, or if u dont believe in that, then let's call it "the day u die". What then? WHat will happen to u? or are u content with an idea that there is nothing after death?


message 33: by Ilze (new)

Ilze Please type out that interesting website again?


message 34: by jeff (new)

jeff Of course I am not content that there is nothing after death. That has no bearing on what will happen when I die. I am also unhappy about the end of the weekend, got a website for that?


message 35: by Matthew (last edited Oct 23, 2008 11:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matthew Carlson Envirojr,

What I find fascinating is that literate, intelligent individuals, such as yourself, can brand my prose “fancy talk.” Regardless, let me take a stab at simplifying it a bit.

There are two types of arguments (you referred to “arguing about it,” so let’s clarify what arguments are): the rational kind composed of a series of statements intended to establish some proposition and the kind that most people think of when they hear the word argument: a quarrel or a disagreement. The latter doesn’t take much thought and is amply represented by “message 15” from “Cedrik” who merely says “YES HE DOES!” That’s just contradiction, it doesn’t state why you are wrong or why he is right or why anyone should accept either position.

Now obviously you do not agree with those who have “faith” or more specifically, those who accept the existence of God. Are you merely asserting, with no support whatsoever that we are wrong in having such “faith” or do you intend at some point to present a coherent argument regarding the irrationality of faith?

Nothing I have written is “circular” or “wishful.” I have presented reasoned, rational arguments against almost every proposition you appear to be asserting. Now do you want to discuss the issue rationally or are you simply going to cling to what you “think” (i.e. your opinion)?

It would appear you want to discuss the matter as you keep on providing reasons why you reject “faith” (and apparently why others should to): There is no evidence that God exists; “people’s concept of God has brought terrible suffering for millions”; an unspecified number of God’s followers are self-righteous, closed-minded, bigoted and hypocritical. So do you want to discuss the matter or not?

That’s the central question I think but you closed with “If you claim to know, you're wrong.” So one cannot “know” anything then? Precisely what are the limits of what one can “know?” Do we merely “think” and yet can never “know?” Oddly, such an assertion brings to mind the words “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Is that really the state of things?

Regards,
Matt.


message 36: by Natalya (new)

Natalya yes im sorry. I didnt realize i didnt paste the website.

Ok, so ur not satisfied, r u gonna do anything bout that? Why not be a lil more open minded and try to understand this world and the after life, and find contentment? and peace.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/artic...
here it is ^


message 37: by jeff (new)

jeff Nat

I am content and at peace, I thought I was clear about that.

Matt

I assume your condescending tone is intentional and it's no more effecive than your previous methods. I don't assert anyone should believe anything they aren't comfortable with. I hope, though do not expect, the same from others. History demonstrates the intolerance of believers (not all, but enough) and some nonbeliever too I admit. Sorry if you have been victim of it. It has never been my intent to convert anyone, just to speak to the topic of the original question. I will continue to read the discussion, and maybe contribute if I see anything new. I doubt I will, the arguments have been the same forever. You just keep doing what you need to do and as long as it doesn't effect me, I don't really care. Unfortunately, I am affected, by the election of terrible leaders, the passage of unconstitutional laws, and general intolerance. And no I will not define my concept of "forever" or "new", or "contribute" or anything else I've said. If you don't think any or part of it is logical or coherent, so be it.


message 38: by Matthew (last edited Oct 24, 2008 07:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matthew Carlson Envirojr,

I have no idea how you come to the conclusion that I was being condescending. I do not write the way I do in and effort to make others feel small or to aggrandize myself. This is simply the way I write. And I am indeed baffled that others cannot understand me at times. You have my apologies if you felt slighted by what I had to say, it was all said as matter-of-factly as I could manage. I meant nothing personal.

As to the "election of terrible leaders" one need not be a believer to elect "terrible leaders." I dare say there are quite a few Republicans who have just as little belief in God as you do. Nor do I think that the predominance of belief leads to "unconstitutional laws" or "general intolerance."

Again, those were all unsupported assertions. It would seem that your position is no better supported than those irrational believers you feel are responsible for "terrible leaders," "unconstitutional laws" and "general intolerance."

I would ask that you understand that my purpose is not to convince you of anything. I do not want to convert you. I am a firm believer in both extending and defending the right of "all men" to "worship how, where, or what they may." Even if that means an absolute lack of worship. However it is my desire to demonstrate that what you have written in relation to faith and God is not quite accurate.

Regards,
Matt.


message 39: by Matthew (last edited Oct 24, 2008 10:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matthew Carlson Wittystar, (Part 1 of 2)

I would heartily suggest reading the “Lectures on Faith.” The quotation I included in one of my early posts came from _The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perceptive_ which I think provides some additional information on the Lectures which is very useful.

Since your question is posed in direct relation to Alma 32 let’s simply discuss precisely the process Alma outlines to the poor amongst the Zoramites.

First, he extols the value of humility, but most definitely believes those who choose to be humble to be “blessed” even though those who are compelled to be humble benefit thereby. He speaks of those who ask a sign that they might believe and outlines what I think is perhaps the greatest benefit of faith versus knowledge:

“And now, how much amore cursed is he that knoweth the will of God and doeth it not, than he that only believeth, or only hath cause to believe, and falleth into transgression?”

Knowledge would result in significantly more condemnation than mere belief. If I am fully aware of the “will of God” and act contrary thereto there is certainly cause to exact from me the consequences of any infraction. However, if I am ignorant of the “will of God” or merely act on faith in that which is professed to be His will then any deviation from His the “will of God” might be mitigated by my ignorance and lack of perfect knowledge. So knowledge is really a double-edged sword as we shall see.

Alma provides a definition faith very similar to Paul’s (Hebrews 11:1) stating: “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” Although you cannot yet perceive it, it is nonetheless “true” and you hope for the end result of your “faith.”

He speaks of God’s desire that one believe on “his [God’s:] word” and that this word is received from various sources including “angels,” “men,” “women,” and even “little children” who in their innocence and purity often speak that “which confound[s:] the wise and the learned.” His definition of faith and his reference to God’s word provide a segue (pr. sé-gwày) into his topic:

“Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge. But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.”

Note, “Ye cannot know of their surety at first.” However, this does not preclude knowing “of their surety” eventually as he elaborates later. His listeners are extolled to “exercise a particle of faith” or in other words, if you cannot hope for that which you cannot see, at least “desire to believe.”

If one can at least “desire to believe” they should “let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” It is interesting that the great apocalyptic vision of Nephi is preceded by his desire “to know the thing what my father had seen” and his belief “that the Lord was able to make then know unto me.” Yet he is still required to ponder. (1 Nephi 11:1) What precisely do you think he was pondering? Perhaps his father’s account of the things which his “father had seen?” Perhaps his desire and belief relating thereto? Maybe all three?

Here Alma moves on to the brilliant analogy of relating the word to a seed: “Now, we will compare the word unto a seed.” One should “give place” that this “seed” or word, “may be planted in your heart. Here he sets out some criterion for a result. The result is “it will begin to swell within your breasts.” However, to experience this “swelling”:

1. It must be “a true seed” or a “good seed.”
2. You must not “cast is out by your unbelief.”

To experience the confirming growth of the word the word must be both “true” and “good.” Yet the latter qualification is vital. It would be very simple at this point to dismiss the “swelling” as our own perception, or perhaps attribute it to our “desire” or even our “hope.” However, if we move beyond such a temptation, if we accept that there is a possibility it is not merely the result of wishful thinking then we can come to some conclusions in relation to what we are experiencing: It must be “a good seed, or… the word is good.” Why? Well “it beginneth to enlarge my soul.” What does this mean? Well it’s not merely an emotional experience but it obviously includes an emotional component. Yet it also “enlighten[s:] my understanding.” Recall God’s promise to Oliver Cowdery “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, but the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.” (D&C 8:2)

Now that the seed “beginneth to be delicious to me” have I obtained faith? Yes, such an experience can “increase your faith” but have you arrived at “perfect knowledge” yet? No. So what does it take to obtain “perfect knowledge?” Well, growth. Here he notes that one discerns the goodness of a seed based upon whether or not is grows. If it grows it’s a good seed, if it doesn’t it’s a bad seed. The same is true of his words. If his words grow in you, if they bring forth others seeds which result in further growth then “your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant.” Why? “[B:]ecause you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.”

Now, the man of faith will say that they have merely exercised their faith or “arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words.” They have hoped in the promised outcome of enlightened understanding, of expanded mental perceptions, an expansion of one’s soul. The skeptic will dismiss all of this, stating that it is a delusion brought on in consequence of one’s fervent desire for such an experience. However, this is the very definition of that which is empirical, i.e. that which is “discernable.” Yet even once one sees in the light of this new discernment “is your knowledge perfect?”




message 40: by Matthew (last edited Oct 24, 2008 10:36AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matthew Carlson Wittystar, (Part 2 of 2)

Alma answers “Nay.” What? That appears to be an obvious contradiction for he just said “your knowledge is perfect.” But what is your “knowledge” perfect in? Yes, “that thing.” What is “That thing,” well it is in the goodness of the seed, that the word has value. You must not “lay aside your faith” but you must “as the tree beginneth to grow… nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us.” Note that both the knowledge that one obtains of the goodness and the eventual possession of the fruit that one may eventually enjoy are the result of some action. Whether its experimentation or nourishing, you have to do something.

But is enjoyment of the fruit of faith insured? No, just as one can cast out the seed by unbelief (our farmer digging up the seed and tossing it as he does not really believe it will take root), you can “neglect the tree.” You can “take no thought for its nourishment” and as a result it will not “get any root” and “when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it” due to its lack of “root.. yet pluck it up and cast it out.” Although the sapling looked good at first, the farmer could not abide the glaring light of “tribulation or persecution.” He becomes offended by what he now perceives as an ugly, scrawny little growth and cannot help but wonder at that he saw any value in it. Or he told by his friend that what he has there is worthless and is not really a fruit tree but rather a noxious weed, so rather than watering and fertilizing it to see if his faith was not misplaced he digs it up and casts it aside.

Now, was he wrong? Was the seed really not good even though he thought it was to begin with? Was he just deluding himself? No, he could clearly discern its goodness. If he thinks back hard he can recall the expansion in the soil which indicated its germination. Was he wrong that the fruit it would bear would be delicious? No, he has been assured by the Nursery that it would bear the most delicious pears. No, it is in consequence of the barrenness of the ground which is a direct result of his refusal to “nourish the tree.”

Yet there are those who convince themselves that they never saw the seed grow, that even if they did, the tree would not have born fruit. Indeed, they may think it’s taking too much to see the end result of their labors. Or, like the farmers friend, they are convinced that neither the seeds they are offered nor the tree their friend may have growing in his field are of any value. They are convinced a priori (in advance) that the seeds will not grow and even if they do they will not lead to any fruit, that their friend has been deceived by a fable. But isn’t the skeptics conclusion just as guided by perception as the believers?

Nevertheless, “if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.”

One has not reached the end of a need for faith until one has actually plucked the fruit. Even in seeing the buds to the bloom to the full set one can at any time be convinced by the friend that what they are seeing is actually seeing will be inundated with pests, taste bitter, or rot before they can sink their teeth in. One may at any point gain “perfect knowledge” of some aspect of the process, that the seed is good, that the tree most definitely will bear fruit but there is always the choice to abandon the experiment or to pursue it to its end. You still have to exercise faith in the eventual outcome to pursue it to its end.

So, I hope that answers your question. Let me know if what I have written needs clarification.

For others who might want to read the document we are discussing you can do so at http://scriptures.lds.org/en/alma/32.

As to the chocolate, I am adapting an example provided by President Boyd K. Packer in relation to faith. In fact, I shamelessly stole his reference to the taste of salt and used it earlier on in a post. I have since adapted the same argument to other experiences such as smelling a rose or tasting chocolate. Although one may not be able to relay to another through words precisely what salt or chocolate tastes like, or what a rose may smell like, to those who have tasted or smelled there is no doubt that salt and chocolate exist and the benefits of both. No one questions the existence of a rose or the experiences related thereto even if they have never seen a rose. Indeed, its much like the questions and responses in “The Santa Clause,” “Have you ever seen a million dollars?” “No.” “Just because you haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

So, assuming that one has never experienced God, how does one appropriately relay to them what God is like or provide evidence that they have experienced God? It would seem as difficult as describing the taste of salt or chocolate or the smell and feel of a rose. Yes, I can actually give you some salt or chocolate or hand you a rose thus proving their objective existence, but the actuality of many things is asserted without concrete evidence and yet it is accepted. I will never be able to travel to the moon to verify that Lance Armstrong placed boot marks in the lunar soil but I do not doubt that mankind has been to the moon. I can never see it, the video records could have been fabricated (in fact such has been argued), and there is no way to verify it for myself. I accept on faith that the event has been properly portrayed. Am I bereft of reason, a fool who has merely convinced myself that such took place? I doubt it. It my faith irrational? Not at all. Anyway, this is too long already.

Regards,
Matt.


message 41: by jeff (new)

jeff An athiest is someone who denies the existence of God. Claimimg to know there is no God is as irrational as claiming to know there is one (in my eyes). So I'm not an athiest. I suppose if a label is required, I'd prefer agnostic.

My daughter attends a public school. They recite the Pledge every morning, followed by a moment of silence. Kids are allowed to pray as long as they are not disruptive. They celebrate the Christmas season in all manner of ways. Noone is prevented from practicing their faith.

I think that there is kind of a sad fallacy in this country that Christians are somehow persecuted. Truth is, they are bound by the same laws as the rest of us, and are not prevented from practicing their faith. Of course, due to the ridiculous political correctness movement, people have made poor choices. I always get a kick out of the "War on Christmas" debate every year. People on one side are way to angry about being wished Happy Holidays, and others equally pissed about Merry Christmas wishes. Relax people. It is not an insult to wish a non-Christian a merry Christmas, nor is it to throw a Happy Holidays to a devout believer.

If your gonna pray, pray for peace.

Envirojr




Joseph wow...thought i was only away for a while :) hello everyone

Dear Matt,
i have trouble accepting mormonism as orthodox monotheist religion ( and that's my definition of GOD btw). in particular, unless i m pretty much mistaken, mormonism takes the position that godhood can be attained? that by its very nature is heretical. excuse my bluntness

the reason i quote the council of nicaea and the nicene creed is this: the concept of trinity was formulated in the meeting ( unless you beg to differ?) and thus one can safely assume the whole christian doctrine/theology was FIRST uniformed there. thats my point there.

screening through your writings (to myself and others), i have to agree with Envirojr that you do appear a little condescending. Perhaps, what may be good for reflection is this: i believe the strength of one's argument doesnt lie in how loud one speaks but rather the weight of his words

You do quote me long passages of words but this question i must ask you again: Does GOD exist? and what is your opinion on it? Yes, i do think it would be much easier had i first asked you your stand.

To Wittystar

Science may not be the best reasoning tool but it's the best we have...

(1) on orderliness of the account of Bible. consider this: if there are 1 billion monkeys typing on a typewriter and given infinite time, you can produce 1 full Bible, if you like.

(2) in my opinion, the problem with religion is this: that it holds itself as absolute and unchallenged. that would leave ample room for manipulation!!! and had we not had enough? surely, if something is good, it wouldnt intend so much harm as it does good?

(3) if i may ask, what makes you believe in GOD? in particular, how did you reach that affirmation?

To the rest:
i noted some of the arguments for faith as follows: ( in particular)
(a) Message 22( Dusty) If somebody TRULY WANTED the proof, it is there

(b) Message 33 (Natashen'ka) gas meter & faith

my reply is this:
(a) i am ONLY interested in truth. i dont believe in sth so that it becomes true. i believe sth is true IF and ONLY IF it's true. Stubborn? oh yeah.

(b) if you consider your arguments carefully you are citing AGAINST faith. How? You can and will have faith in gas meter because you believe in science ( and the consistent results you are assured). The underlying platform ( i believe i did point this out as well earlier) is sth consistent and reliable. Faith and astrology work sth like this: if the prediction is not true for the week, the oracle would probably say "well, i guess it's because Jupiter misaligned with the sun this week". be honest, can you have faith in such things?

Thanks. i welcome anyone to reason and enlighten me :)

p/s: Matt, they say 'We always condemn most in others that which we most fear in ourselves'


Joseph To Envirojr,

i noted the long exchange of words between matt and yourself

tell me whats you opinion on the topic (god's existence)

there could only be 1 outcome ( out of 2 possibilities)

(a) GOD exists
(b) GOD doesnt exist

One should always take a stand on this. The issue has got great implications. I reason, if with the same set of explanations one person accepts the faith but another denies it, either one of them must be clearly smarter than the other? how could the same rationale reach 2 entirely different conclusions?

and thats what i hope i can get out of this discussion, even a tad bit


message 44: by jeff (new)

jeff I'm not sure why one needs to take a stand on the issue, but forced to choose I would of course choose (b).

Some people are comfortable believing something that can't be supported, at least in any real sense. I'm not. I don't think that makes me smarter than them, maybe just more discriminating.

I stated earlier that faith was the suspension of rationality, meaning having faith is not about reason or critical thinking. I've known intelligent people who claim to believe. I don't understand it, but I've seen it. Maybe it is a defense mechanism, maybe a security blanket, or maybe an opiate, as in "to the masses"?


message 45: by Darianne (new)

Darianne i'm christian and i think god exists but other people may not its a matter of what religion you are



message 46: by Ilze (new)

Ilze Wittystar: EXACTLY! I don't 'believe', I know.

I know the same. The thing is that man has a choice. He can believe it or not - there are several people on this forum who clearly have made up their minds, period.


message 47: by Apurb (new)

Apurb Sinha GOD is a faith which assures that nothing bad happens to you if you are on the right track of life. Its an invisible strength which supports you to walk forward in tuff times of life. :-)


message 48: by Keelin (new)

Keelin whittystar: "Joseph-Also, religion is, yes, one of the most dangerous tools in existence."

growing up in northern ireland i know exactly what a dangerous weapon religion was and still is if the current impass at stromont is anything to go by.

i completly agree with what happy has said
the only problem with believing in god is that you start to doubt everything hes stood for in your life when the REALLY tuff times come along

i shuld know ive had them all i think so far
the main point of belief in any religion is that there is always something to cling to when all else fails....exactly what happy said i think :)


message 49: by jeff (new)

jeff Ilze:

I have stated repeatedly that I don't know if God does or does not exist, only that I don't think He does. So that means I have not really made up my mind, period. I do admittedly believe strongly that He does not. I behave as though He doesn't. I also behave like there is no Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, or no Boogey Man. I suppose I could be convinced otherwise though I don't see how.

I think the difference between our point of views is how we define "know". What you feel you "know", I say you "believe". I freely admit that I do not know. Call me cynical. I call you naive. I don't mean that the way you may hear it. I only think you are willing to accept as truth something you've been told but can't really know. Thats not always a bad thing, and if your beliefs make you happy and better able to handle life's dificulties, then go with it. Just realize that not everyone needs your kind of belief to live happily and morally. Niether my world view, or yours makes either one of us stronger or weaker, smarter or dumber, better or worse. Just different.


message 50: by Ilze (new)

Ilze As I said, it's a matter of choice.

Peace


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