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Re: To believe or not to believe

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Posted by James 5:16 on December 07, 2001 at 12:22:28:

In Reply to: Re: To believe or not to believe posted by Exodus 22:19 on December 05, 2001 at 23:35:15:

: : It seems to me, after reading this conversation, that the atheists and agnostics seemed to have carried the day. But let's talk about what it FEELS like inside everyday for those people who believe and who don't believe. Perhaps this discussion should not be titled, Why do you believe or not believe in God, perhaps it should be titled, What does it feel like to believe in God and NOT believe in God?
: Good point... in fact I'm guessing that would probably be the reason most believers choose to believe - because it feels right for them and vice-versa for the atheists among us. I can't speak for everyone but personally I don't feel that a belief in a predefined definition of God is a prerequisite to personal satisfaction.

Actually, some people, myself included, begin as athiests and look to see if there is a meaning in the universe. The universe, over a period of years of individual research, began to make more sense. To this day, I still make the attempt to understand the world, the universe and everything. Even though I am a Christian.

: : I know that there are those intellectual participants of this discussion will look at this line of reasoning as a veiled attempt to prove that athiests are miserable and convince them that faith will improve the quality of their lives and they will ask, "Is it appropriate to choose faith because one believes it will make one feel better?" Or one hopes it will. That is another question that could be explored. Faith is a very interesting concept.
: Yep... I don't faith is really something that can be explored intellectually as it deals with a person's innate beliefs which can only be discussed in the most simplistic terms. For myself, I find faith would only make myself feel better if I could truly believe in it. Since organised religion is by nature arbitrary, it would be difficult to fit everyone's individual beliefs into the one neat package. Of course, if faith in whatever feels right for you, then the answer to your question must be 'yes'.

Actually, faith and belief, while being interrelated, are not the fundamental point behind religion in general. Organized religion is a mechanism for those that share a common belief of universal order (or lack thereof) to come together and celebrate such an organization (or lack thereof). While I cannot argue that some people go to churches of any religion to find comfort, most do not. The majority of people go to church to be with like-minded people (or the other church-goers that they grew up with)to discover a foundation to the universe. There are so many different reasons that no one simplistic statement can define why people go to church, nor can there be a quick and easy reasoning as to why people choose an individual faith.

The relationship between faith and belief is an easy one:

I can have belief that a man can ride a unicycle fully loaded across a tightrope 100 feet above the ground.

Faith is getting on the unicycle.

: : But to this small facet -- who experiences more calm and peace and contentment in their lives? Believers or atheists.
: Believers, quite possibly in the broader sense. Whoever said 'Ignorance is bliss' may well have been right, but choosing not to look at the options when presented is another matter. Is faith just belief for the sake of belief?

We have just discussed this. Faith is belief in practice.

: : The goal of this whole thing is love, right? I am wrestling with myself. My own spirit. (Not the piece mention above wrestled with by athiests at bambi's).
: IMHO Love is often overused. It describes a variety of emotions, but rarely can you have love when it is not directed at something. "I love the world" is like saying "I think the dark side of the moon is beautiful"

As Christians, we are called to love the world, sinful and all. We also have to live in it. That's never an easy practice. In fact, I find it hard to live and love the world each day, in the perfect sense the God wants me to. There are parts of the world's past that I hate. There are events in the present that I hate. Without a doutbt there will be future events that I will hate as well. But as a Christian, I am called to forgive. I am not allowed to be a judge in the sense that I can put a person or nation or world into punishment. That is up to God. But I am allowed to look upon the wowrld and see the evil in it. Not only it not non-Christian to ignore our judgement of the world, it is our duty. Does this allow for our punishment of that (to inflict what we see as justice), no it isn't. But we are given the sense to see the evil in the world. One way or another. We are given the command to to not do evil either. Although we will fail.

: : There it came again... does the light of the spirit clean us completely. No. For just a few breaths. This is why the numbing comformity of sects and religions can create distress -- because the lives become facade -- the growth comes in living, making mistakes, acknowledging, feeling relief and then wondering how we made the same mistake again...
: Well I agree with the bit about the cult... if you choose to blindly follow a cult however, you can remain happy and many have done so.

I do find relief in the fact that I will be judged and found guilty. That also means that everyone else will have that happen to them too. Our responsibility in life is to acknowledge that we have sinned, and work not to sin again. A difficult task, I'll admit. But the task is the one that we must acknowledge.

: : : I'm at the point of not believing in God as he is advertised by most of the religions I have read up on. I think that basic human nature has made us create an afterlife to combat our fear of death and the search for immortality. 'Can't live forever? Oh well, then there's life after death, no worries.' You were a bad person in life, Repent! no worries. Or the other way, you were bad, now you burn in Hell. Yeah that sounds like what a loving and forgiving God would do. Riiight. So who can blame those of us who dont know what to believe.
: I think we may be very similar in this way, although I'm rather confused. You imply that you are neither an atheist or agnostic, however you find it hard to believe in 'advertised religions'. Ain't that what an agnostic is? As for life after death, of course everyone wants to believe in that. Hope that everything you achieve is not completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Religions in the past have been used to manipulate people, but that is not a logical justification for not believing in an afterlife.
: How people live believing that whatever they do is meaningless is certainly beyond me. Everyone has their own answer to "What is the meaning of life?" there is no right or wrong when the answer comes from within. IMO it is only the individual who can work out what to believe. Threats of hell and promises of heaven mean nothing unless the belief in them is real for you. You can't make them real with logic or reasoning.

I also agree that there needs to be a personal aspect to religion. Religion cannot exist otherwise. A Christian is guided by the Holy Spirit as to what church he or she should attend. By I digress, belief is the key. Faith, the action of belief, follows then on belief. Blind faith or blind belief is a bit stupid. Every person of every religion should be in constant evaluation of his or her faith so as not to be blindly led into something that is wrong or evil. Immorality is never an excuse.

Well, thanks for listening,

James 5:16

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