Collin suggested I read Ecclesiates, so I did and this thread is to discuss it.
Here are some initial reactions:
1. Its by far my favorite thing I've read from the Bible. While I'm not sure I agree with the conclusions of the writer I understand exactly where he is coming from.
2. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the main points are:
a) Nothing human is eternal - "it is all vanity"
b) Humans, unlike animals, are always craving for something more - we have a sense that something is missing.
c) This points to God, as life is meaningless without Him.
I agree on several things. I totally feel that desire for knowledge, for eternity (being remembered). I desire meaning, and I admit sometime I feel quite uncomfortable realizing that I will never know all there is to know.
Yet, while I crave meaning, I don't think that means that there is necessarily universal meaning. I do see how it is appealing - its definitely appealing to me. I would sort of like to believe in God, but I don't think that yearning alone means God exists. As I've said before humans have evolved for survival not to understand the truth.
I also don't think life without God is meaningless - although I admit on a universal scale it is. We will be forgotten. And I admit that can be uncomfortable, but it doesn't mean we have to despair. You can still find meaning on a personal level. You can find meaning through love, through science, through helping others.
Anyway...that's a start. Comments anyone?Pieces of meaning to Ecclesiates I'm missing out on?
Quantum, I have a great amount of respect for you. You truly do have an open mind and a perceptive heart. I think this might be the first time somebody other than Dess has gone through with my recommended reading. ;)
Anyways, I'm super-glad you liked it. It's my favorite book of the Bible aside from John and Proverbs. You might want to read Proverbs too, if you have some spare time. It's very instructive no matter what your religious beliefs are. Advice like "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" is something that's worth memorizing for throughout your day.
And yep, ya hit the nail on the head with the hammer there, buddy. That's exactly the point. I SOOOOOO desire to know all there is to know, yet at the end of each day, I look back and realize that I'm no closer to having all the answers than when I started. There's just so much to know. And the concept of being exterminated from being itself with no memory of your ever having lived is simply . . . *Shivers*
1) You're absolutely right here, my friend. It most definitely doesn't. We could very well be hoodwinked by a very cruel, very heartless universe. And you're comment that we aren't designed to understand truth brings up yet another fear: "How do I even know I AM discerning the truth?" That thought's haunted me almost my entire life.
The point of the book, I think, is to show that our situation is such that it merits crying out for help. And if it merits doing so, why should we keep our mouths shut? Do we fear being judged by a modern, secular society? What is their opinion in light of the possibility of an ultimately frivolous life and eternal nothingness? Jesus advocated knowing God through actively deciding to search for Him through the action of following Him. When He called His greatest disciple, Peter, He didn't have a lengthy debate with him over whether or not He was the Son of God, He simply told Peter to drop everything and follow Him. Peter did, and in the course of the next 3 years He discovered the reality of God by doing His work.
So I guess my point is this: The evidence doesn't point to God, yet neither does it point enywhere else. It's ultimately just one piece of data in an infinite sea of information. The odds of God's existence are something like 50/50, so why not cry out with the pain you so sincerely feel? This, after all, is the point of the Gospel. To find that, in the end, all human knowledge leads nowhere, and that we must thus cry out without appeal to what knowledge we have, but let ourselves be open to that which we DON'T know. It's not unreasonable; it's humble. If you wish to hear Him answer, then pray to Him, do His work, talk to a pastor or two. That's how I went from your shoes to my shoes, though I have an unshakeable feeling you're smarter than I am, so maybe you'll take a different road.
2) I absolutely agree. Atheists no doubt feel the same satisfaction in giving water to dying African children, providing education for underpriviledged kids, etc. as do religious people. That I don't dispute. Life can be enjoyable. In fact, it can be one HE#$ of time. Yet, I tend to agree with Blaise Pascal that this kind of happiness, if it does not relate to some overarching purpose beyond itself, is more delusion than true joy. Yes, feeding the hungry makes me feel happy and accomplished, but if it is simply the act of giving into one of evolution's behavioural suggestions by helping other organisms of my species continue to survive for another 40 or so years before ultimately perishing, it's cheapened. In fact, if they take the time to reflect on the same thing we've acknowledged (their insignificance and lack of eternal value), then we're only prolonging their (on the deepest level, at least) miserable existence.
Ultimately, our accomplishments won't be perfected, as Christians say, but they will be . . . as if they never existed at all. The little hope they afforded us to find significance in our 70-80 years here will seem cruel in retrospect.
Sorry if that seemed overdramatic. *Shrug* It's an intense topic. :)
Some further reading, if I haven't quite bored you yet:
ht tp://w ww.reasonablefaith.o rg/the-absurdity-of-life-without-god
This is a link to the relevant chapter in William Lane Craig's book Reasonable Faith I was talking to you about. Craig has two doctorates, so his expertise stretches across science AND philosophy. This is one of the more philosophical chapters, so it's not really representative of the whole book. Craig does make some interesting observations though.
ht tp://books.google.c om/books?id=1hppLx7F8NIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Pensees&hl=en&sa=X&ei=n3vkUZDsN7On4APG8oGIAw&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAw
This one's a little older. Blaise Pascal (if you don't already know) was one of the greatest mathematical minds ever to live. Yet, his book Pensees is a detailed explanation of why there's more to life than mathematical principles and why he therefor accepts the Catholic faith. One of the classics of world literature. The relevant section to this discussion his the third section, "Of the Necessity of the Wager." It starts with the 184th Pensee. And yes, it does present the famous "Pascal's Wager" in context, much of which discusses the futility of man in light of eternal death. The preceeding section is also really interesting, as Pascal addresses his reasons for believing analytical thinking isn't flawless, which is somewhat applicable to you thread, but not entirely. Anyways, Pascal makes a lot of references to his contempooraries, which you can ignore for the most part unless they just really intrigue you. :) The way he refers to atheists might seem offensive, but bear in mind that the text is a translation, he lived in a culture less concerned with direct politeness, and he genuinely pities people who don't have the faith that he does and thus his assurance that death isn't as horrible as it seems from a secular viewpoint.
With that in mind, read away, my friend. I'll be praying that you find everything as interesting as Ecclesiastes and that you remain open to the message. Let me know how things go, Bud!
i have read two pages of Genesis and three pages of Job, so i dunno this book o^o
lol okai, im done being useless.
Thanks for the reply Collin. It wasn't overdramatic - in fact it has been the most appealing argument for religion I have yet to hear. I really appreciate you admitting that the existance of God is 50/50 (at best). It really bothers me when people claim to know that God exists and the Bible is His 100% accurate word. That is, frankly, absurd. However you make a good argument for leaning towards belief in Him. I'll have to keep thinking about it, but it does appeal to me to a certain degree as it comes from a perspective I understand.
Also: " Yes, feeding the hungry makes me feel happy and accomplished, but if it is simply the act of giving into one of evolution's behavioural suggestions by helping other organisms of my species continue to survive for another 40 or so years before ultimately perishing, it's cheapened."
Why is it cheapened? Why does the fact that the feel-good rush of dopamine you get is incoded in you by evolution make that help you give another human being less valuable? I have a guess at your response, but I'd like to hear it.
And, lastly, I'll definitely check out the further reading you've suggested and get back to you on it.
:O What just . . . how is that . . . where did you . . . Huh?
Thanks for your response. :) I actually like this. You know, the whole "Evangelize the world" bit. I find this much more to my liking than screeming on street corners. I love those guys' passion, but there always seems to be something . . . off there . . .
Anyways, aww. Thanks. That means more than you know. I figured it might appeal, since it's ultimately what convinced me, and you remind me of myself in a lotta ways.
And haha, you're welcome? :) JK. I see what you mean. Just bear in mind that that mindset frustrates religious people often as much as it does you (me included). If anyone was 100% sure God was up there, then faith would be pointless. It's important nothing concerning God be absolute, else He would just become another piece of data to compute. According to Christian doctrine, He's more like a person, so His relationship with us has to be at least partly doubted and unsure. It also ensures that we go after Him first; He's really a pretty polite guy. :)
Also, I wouldn't say that I don't know God exists; it's just a different kind of knowledge. My girlfriend, who's so gifted at saying things 10X more profound than me in 10X fewer words, told me after I explained the Cosmological Argument for God, "That;s awesome, but I've come to know He exists by acting out His commands and praying to Him." Ya see, it's not 100% (After all, what is?), but neither is it a random fancy. You have to start at the 50/50 odds, as this is as far as information can take you. But with time, you might come to have the "blessed assurance" that the psalms speak of. One can only get that through physically following Christ like Peter and John and Matthew and the others did.
And it's not that it's incoded in you by evolution that cheapens it. It's not even the feeling that's cheapened. It's the act itself. There's no . . . point to it other than doing it cause random chance dictated that you think it's good. It's akin to the old "Is Ought" controversy.
And AWESOME!!! Happy reading! I can keep it comin as long as you're willin to keep readin. :)
I haven't finished the reading yet, although it is very thought provoking. I do however have a few pertinent quotes for thought:
""One of what we all are, Pelly. Less than a drop in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea. But it seems that some of the drops sparkle, Pelly. Some of them do sparkle! " - King Arthur - Camelot (movie)
""We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special." - Stephen Hawking
I can't really top any of Collin's masterpiece posts, but I think I'll contribute to this thread by inserting random Ellen White quotes whenever I feel the need. XD
If you don't mind, of course...
Anyways, I haven't actually read all the way through Ecclesiastes before (just bits and pieces over the years) so I'm probably going to do that in the next couple of days.
I'll be sure to share my thoughts. :)
God bless. ♥
Awww, shucks. *Blushes*
And :O Ladies and gentelmen, get the camera crew! Half.note just admitted there's a part of the Bible she not only hasn't memorized, but hasn't . . . even read?! :O I always thought you'd read the thing 5 times backwards and 10 time forward. :)
Anyways, feel free wih the quotes. I like Ellen, though I disagree with Young Earth Creationism (No tangent intended).
You should read Ecclesiastes though. She's a beauty. The "There's a time for everything" verse is especially nice.
Get outta here, Collin. *swats at him*
Of course I've read it, just not all at once. :P
Usually when I read my Bible I don't just sit down and read it cover to cover (although I am trying to do that now--but I'm only in Deuteronomy :/ ). Instead, I'll usually read verses from all over the Bible.
I'm sure that over the years, if you inlude personal reading, Bible studies, and sermons, I've probably read every word of Ecclesiastes.
So send the camera crew away.
As for Ellen White:
(Tangent appreciated... it's nice to hear people's thoughts on her.) I know not everyone agrees with her views, but she puts everything soooo eloquently that I just have to quote her sometimes. Especially when I'm reading and I come across a quote that fits perfectly with a discussion. :D
God bless. ♥
Smh. Denial. Someone needs Bible-reading rehab . . .
And huh. That was a really sweet reply. You know what, I think you just heralded my official return to TI, half.note.
*Rolls out red carpet*
Also, you should start with the whole NT books, then Psalms and Proverbs, then the boring stuff. Gives ya enough momentum not to quit. It's what I did, and I've only got the Pentateuch left. :)
Just figured a clacker such as yourself could use the tip . . . :p
Slacker. What the bijonky is a clacker?
Sounds highly offensive though. I apologize. :'(
Glad to have you back. :)
And I'm honoued to be the one to elecit your return. *wipes tear*
And, LOL, I am a slacker... :P
Well, a procastinator, at least. (I once borrowed a book from my brother and sister-in-law and didn't return it for four years. They literally moved to a different house in the time I had their book. XD)
And thanks for the tips, mom ami! But I prefer to do it the old-fashioned way. My younger sister managed (she's in Proverbs or something crazy like that :P).
Also, "clacker" does sound offensive... I'll have to think longer about forgiving you... ;)
Good ol' evangelism ;) Always brings a tear to my eye.
Seriously though. Nice to have you back Collin :) Your gf said something very true: Actions affect belief.
ALSO I just want to say that I've already recommended William Lane Craig to everyone here, Collin! Too little too late. *Smirks*
Destinee: You have?
Collin: So, as I said, I just finished "The Absurdity of Life without God" and the first glaring flaw I see is:
Isn't God a "Noble Lie" too? How is belief in Him any more consistent?
Quantum: Ya Quantum, I actually love WLC. He even answered one of my questions on his site once :D That is how I learned about Divine Impassibility being a potentially Christian doctrine too. (Otherwise the emotional stuff Christians I know say about God can be a bit off-putting.)