Oh yeah. That post about "kinky s.ex" was highly thought out and philosophical . . .
The Greek thinker Anaximander actually proposed a primitive theory of evolution far before that, I think. We're talkin B.C. years maybe.
So one of the more philosophical reasons for me believing in God is pretty summed up in this quote by CS Lewis.
“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”
So if there is no God, we should never have found there is no God, otherwise it would be without meaning. Besides, if there is no God, there is no right or wrong. If there is no higher power, or something that sets a standard of morals, or a moral code for us all, then anything could be right. Actually, there would be no such thing as right or wrong. Decisions you would make would just……be. If there is no God, then anything I wanted to do, and was within my power, I could do. What would stop me from putting a bullet in the head of someone just because they were annoying? Just because you believed that killing someone is wrong wouldn’t mean that I would. And no one could say any different, because we are all human. Who is higher than a human? No one…….unless there is a God.
So where did we get our morals? Where did we receive that instinct that what you do is just….wrong? I think the morals we receive we get from God. The bible didn’t exist at the beginning of time, but it reinforces many of the morals we hold to be true on a purely natural level. And I don’t think that man came up with these “standards” on their own. Part of this puzzle is whether or not you believe humans are evil naturally, or if they are good naturally. I believe they are born into sin, and so cannot ever do anything correct without some sort of intervention by God. But I digress.
The point is, is that human nature is evil, so we would not have come up with universally same morals on our own. They were set there by God for us to live by. If they were not there, I would have reason to believe there is no God. But if there was no God, I should never have found out, because God and everything that encompasses in that word would be without meaning.
But ya now, that’s just my 2 cents.
I can't think of a good, logical reason for you to believe in God. It would have to be classified as faith. Maybe you have to start out blind before you see the logic in it. Like when you jump into a very bright room from a very dark room. You litterally are blinded for a few seconds, minutes even. But after a while, you can see. Its obvious that you won't take the ol' "the Bible told me so" reasoning. So I'll go with general revelation.
Its kinda like what they always say, "Give credit where credit is due". An important concept in many multiplayer fist-person-shooter games. In order to get 'credits', you have to be given a credit for being a good gamer.
Another example, you find a book lying on the floor. You pick it up and start reading it. The book, you thought, was a masterpiece. The characters were so real, so developed. The plot kept you turning the pages and the ending brought you down in tears. You turn to the front to find out who wrote this wonderful story. To your dismay, you find that the author's name was not given. After you put the book away, you think to yourself, "What a marvel! What are the chances of such a wonderful book being written without an author!"
Do you see the flaw in this kind of logic? This entire unverse and plain of existance has a very rich, very deep history. A story. Can you honestly think that no one created it? This world is beautiful. It has an author.
Thank you for the advice! I needed it
You bring up a good point here. However, the first step here isn't to jump into a religion, but to accept the possibility (and perhaps even probability) of the existence of the supernatural. The majority of the members of every society to ever exist on the face of the planet claim that they have experienced an aspect of reality that you have not. Perhaps you could shrug it off as wishful thinking or stupid primitivism. But I think in time you'll come to see there's more to it than that--that literature is not the fanciful extrapolation of merely physical phenomenon, but the unveiling of a curtain which reveals very tangible metaphysical realities.
Anyways, to your actual post. If there is a God "behind it all," then we should go to his creation to find things out about Him. He gave us rational thought to discover Him and emotion to experience Him. We should find a description of Him that is both highly unique and in line with universal realizations about His character as well as one that makes the most sense of reality. It would have to be one revealed by Him and not arrived at by human thought else it would be bound to be flawed and incomprehensive. I have found Christianity to meet these criteria.
^ I agree. The first part to being religious, or spiritual, in any sense is to be open to the possibility of being wrong. I don't remember which Rabbi it was who said that you have to be reconsidering your religious belief every 2 weeks, otherwise you don't really believe.
Many people have been led to believe that 'belief' is a static phenomenon, existing only in one's heart. As anybody will testify, including myself, this is not true for the majority of us. For most people, belief wanes. It is through effort that belief is sustained.
I tell you this because when you have to put effort into something, you are bound to reconsider it. True, most people don't change whatever their previous consideration was of the matter. But many of us have been raised in an environment which perpetuates myths such as "faith is blind" or "belief is for idiots". This is simply not true. Like Collin said, one of the cornerstones of faith-trust (which is what belief in God is -- trust more than anything) is reason. You can look at Christianity or Islam or Judaism and find a mind-boggingly long list of philosophers, theologians, and scientists, all of whom were freaking obsessed with reason.
In addition to what Collin said, if vaguely observing God's creation isn't doing much for you, I recommend:
a) Some sort of interfaith community you can go to. Or just go to a mosque, or a church (make sure they're good mosques/churches, some of em suck). It's hard to develop beliefs that are in accordance with reality if you're just reading up about them in cyberreality, haha.
b) Start reading sacred texts. If I were you, I'd start with either the Qur'an or the New Testament. From personal experience, they're the easiest to get in to. Try having some sort of handy commentary by too, or just ask here if something doesn't make sense. (Both books allude to things that are kinda out of the blue if you don't know what the references are.)
Lastly, I'll reply to what you said to me later haha. It'll require more thought :)
"Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith." - Paul Tillich
I agree with Destinee. I'm not sure what your involvement/experience is with religion or the Holy Books as you're new here and I haven't gotten nosey with ya yet, but at the very least doing some reading, praying from time to time, and hittin up a Sunday school class or two would serve to make you a better person by broadening your outlook on life.
The Gospel of John is incredibly enlightening and easy to read. I'm not sure what surah of the Qur'an would be best to start with if you're not going for a full reading, but I'm sure Des can tell ya.
I think it's incredibly unfair that I've read most of the NT and you haven't even read bothered reading at least half of the Qur'an. Tsk tsk.
Quantum if you're curious I'm happy to help :)
CollinF and Destinee: Thanks for the good advice. While I have gone to church a couple of times and tried to start reading the Bible this summer (didn't get very far because I kept getting all incredulous) I haven't had a whole bunch of experience. I may never become a religious person persay but some more experience in these matters would widen my perspective if anything else. I'll try reading the Gospel of John to start and pick up a copy of the Qur'an as well. Any tips on reading religious texts? Do you all take them literally or more as stories based in reality with morals?
I will point out real quick that I'm a bit skeptical of something where you have to keep pushing aside doubt...can you elaborate on that point?
One other question directed at Destinee - is all the stuff about keeping women down in traditional Islamic part of the Qur'an or is that just cultural stuff in the middle east? Because I can say write now I don't accept any religion that is that sexist.
Thanks for the useful comments.
Or I'll stop studying for my exam and reply right now :)
b) Haha yeah unfortunately, religious people remain people and can be close-minded at times. I admit, if I meet a close-minded religious person, I kinda just turn on my heel..
c) I gotcha. I think this is partially such a big deal for me because I was raised in a religious environment, and losing my religion was like, whoa, I just lost my bearings dude.
Again, I ought to mention that I don't subscribe to intelligent design. I do think life, nature, whatever, is created by an intelligent being, but I don't think that is at all some sort of scientific theory, and at best (like I said), I simply infer the existence of a Creator from nature. It's by no means proof. (But then again, people have no proof for multiverse theory either.)
I don't doubt that religion, tribes, or any of that other stuff you said is helpful when you're a social animal, especially since individuals are pretty powerless when you think about it :) I mean, we don't even have cool claws... But again, that doesn't reduce the validity of a religion. There are 100s of religions, and I have no doubt that many of them are more sophisticated forms of tribalism. Which is why I mainly ever talk about the Abrahamic religions, which claim to be revealed from God as opposed to evolved over 1000s of years.
That having been said, another way to think about it is that you are using words like "conscience", "honest", "good", "purpose". I think every single one of those has an evolutionary purpose. Heck, reason itself probably has some evolutionary purpose. But we still use reason, and we still have morals, and we still trust our conscience 99% of the time. Because the fact that it EVOLVED doesn't mean that it's not TRUE. Think about it like a uniquely human truth. Reason is a human truth, because it involves perception, organisation, cognition, etc. So yeah, a bunch of un-intelligent bacteria don't reason, but now that we've evolved from bacteria, we use reason. Because we're humans and it's 'what we do'. Colour is something else that didn't "exist" per se, and then it started existing once we evolved eyes. Religion didn't exist, and then it started existing once we evolved consciousness. Some things aren't fundamental truths of the universe, only fundamental truths of conscious existence :)
Yes, I know. Heck, you could take some psychedelics and claim to have spiritual journeys. Your thoughts are a result of your brain, too. But the point isn't the thought, the point is the content of the thought and what led to it. If you read a philosophy book, you're gonna have deep thoughts (one hopes). If you read, say, Twilight, you're gonna have rather shallow thoughts. They're both thoughts, but that's not what matters. It's how you got the thought and what it contains.
Similarly, if you poke your brain and have some sort of so-called spiritual experience, it's like reading Twilight and having shallow thoughts. The point isn't simply the experience of spirituality, but what led to it. :) (And, obviously, what happens afterwards. If your spiritual experience consisted of realising you should be taking L.SD regularly, well, I mean, good for you but I don't really count that as spiritual, because you didn't strive towards it. You just popped a pill/piece of paper.) :)
You said: "Humans have evolved to survive, not to understand the universe." This is an assumption. We have evolved, and part of living involves surviving. But you can't assume that thoughts are simply by-product of evolution. Evolution isn't a conscious being: it just selects creatures who survive. Once you start talking about 'why we exist' [which is what is implicit in your statement], that has nothing to do with evolution.
Unless, of course, you are inferring from what you know of evolution that thoughts are by-products. Then that's a belief, like my belief in a Creator.
I hear you on the leap of faith. I'm still stuck :)
I'd recommend trying to get Tarif Khalidi's translation of the Qur'an. Most are pretty decent, but his captures the Arabic's rhythm. (Somewhat)
As for reading the text, John is pretty, well, obvious. For the Qur'an, the main thing to keep in mind is that it's a revelation based in history, with a universal message, as a guidance to mankind. If you get confused/weirded out, just ask. And always keep in mind your own biases, no matter which text you are reading.
if by "se.xist" you mean that women are told to wear a headscarf, then you best turn away now :) I'm not sure what you mean by "keeping women down". Since every Muslim woman I know is pretty okay, I think you mean cultural stuff. But our definitions of s.exism probably differ anyway.
I'd recommend that stuff like h.om.os.exuality, identity, s.exism, and other cultural products that have evolved over the past 200 years you forget about for now, no matter which religion you study. I've lived in 2 countries (Saudia and Canada), and i can assure you, the certainty that a Westerner feels about their concept of "s.exism" is the same certainty that a Middle Easterner feels about their concept of "s.exism". These are subjective things, and change according to time and place.
If you have any specifically s.exist examples, I could tell you Yea or Nay?
Destinee: I'll get back to your first post tomorrow as I too have something I should be studying for.
In terms of headscarfs and stuff, I think that's fine (maybe a little strange from my perspective, but that's just a normal cultural thing). I have however heard, for example, that in (some) places in the middle east where Islam is practiced that if a woman is r.aped it is regarded has her fault and that it "dishonors" her family. I'm sure this is very fundamentalist, but is the kind of stuff true? Is it in the Qu'ran?
I appreciate you answering my questions and I apoligize if I offend you or come across as culturally illiterate.
DEFINITELY not. I'm Pakistani, and trust me, it's cultural stuff. They used to bury baby girls in Arabia (because people were ashamed of having daughters). Islam came along and totally forbade that. So when you read the Quran, you'll read the verses that refer to "the baby girl asks for what crime she was killed".
Abrahamic religions have stopped so much oppression, it ain't even funny.
I'm not offended haha. I'm the most offensive person ever IRL, so trust me, it's hard to offend me XD
Well that's good to know. Thanks! I'll try to find the translation you're talking about and I'll be sure to ask if I run into any questions.
Destinee's point is also true of Judaism too. Many modern critics claim that s.exism began with the Abrahamic religions, but the truth is that their policies far improved the situations of minorities in that time. Any seemingly harsh laws are merely concessions which were necessary in order to keep the people from forsaking religion for their (already long-present) traditions that were often oppressive and harsh.
Collin: But why don't we change those aspects now? That was thousands of years ago...
lulz there are people who say s.exism began with Abrahamic Religions? have they never read the Code of Hammurabi?
Quantum, in another 100 years, people will be calling your views on women s.exist. Just cuz majority opinion changes doesn't make the truth change.
Also, Christianity and Islam both claim to have come and reformed laws. A lot. (Well, Protestanism kinda ignores them.. same thing.)
Good point. However what is the "truth"?