Any Christians?

ImagoX

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the_roach said:
Uhh, hey, can we get any atheist or agnostic points of view in here?
Um... OK I'll throw something in from that perspective, I guess... Not that this has anythign to do with gaming or my ability to write game reviews, but since people have (mostly) been respectful and polite in here, I'll lay my hethen opinions on you all. :cookiemon

If I had to define my spiritual life in an imprecise word, I guess I’d call myself a “Seeker”. While I believe very strongly in Evolution and the power of the Scientific Method to expand humanity’s knowledge and improve our lives, I also strongly want to believe in “higher” powers. Call them Good or Evil, call it Intelligent Design or God or what have you- SOMETHING seems to be missing. It’s that “God shaped hole” that someone mentioned earlier. I have no problems whatsoever with the idea that, if there is a “watchmaker” that designed the universe and all of the laws and rules that make it tick, that He/She/It is so far above us that we’re nearly impossible to even see or judge. Just like humans can view the lives of microscopic single-celled creatures and even manipulate the basic building blocks of nature (electrons, etc.), so are we to the Watchmaker- viewable but in the end really almost beneath notice.

I don’t say this to belittle us, I say it to establish perspective.

For, it is my belief that if there IS a Watchmaker, then He/She/It is as impossible for us to understand and fully grasp as humans would be to the understanding of a mitochondria or a virus- the frames of reference are just so vastly different that true understanding is impossible. Human beings are, of course, real, but how would a mitochondria, living in one of our cells’ nucleus, define us adequately from their point of view?

As such, religions that claim to have the single, perfect line on Truth smack of monumental arrogance (at best) or even outright ignorance (at worst)- in my opinion, of course. I’m not arguing with the good works they do, or the very real need that they fulfill- death is hella scary (to put it mildly), and I’ve thought many times, usually when someone close to me is ill or dies, that it would make things MUCH EASIER if there WERE a heaven like the Christians say. It’s a far more comforting idea than the eternal Big Black Nothing when the lights finally go off.

But, I can’t let go of the idea that maybe humans are just plain wrong about religion, or that, at the very least, that we’re so far off the mark as to the Truth of things that I think that a person of good conscience MUST keep an open mind to all possibilities that might lead one to a better relationship with the Creator. Anything less is squandering the gift that each and every thinking being was given at birth.

In my time, I’ve been a Catholic, an Athiest, a Rational Humanist, I’ve lead pagan Samhain and Candlemass ceremonies and I’ve sweated in Native American sweat lodges. I spent three days on a mountain, Vision Questing (wish I could say I found my totem animal but really all that happened was I got deathly ill from hypothermia) and I’ve drummed from dusk-to-dawn in all-night Voudoun ceremonies where people thrashed and shuddered as the Loa rode them (or, so they believed- if Gods were actually present, I can’t say). I’ve seen stigmata bleed and I've seen fakirs hang their entire body weight from slender hooks planted in their flesh, made impervious to pain by the strength of their faith. I've seen Pentecostals babble in tongues, Shakers dance when God is with them, and I've witnessed automatic-writing mediums channel information that no living human being except me could possibly know. I've experienced the glory of Catholic cathedrals and equally glorious natural caves, and both, I have to say, felt equally “holy” in the moment.

Which one was the “true” religion? I still have no idea. If I figure out out, I’ll let you know, but until then I’ll keep looking.

“It is in the moment that you believe you truly know a thing that you know nothing.” ~Zen Proverb
 
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mlvassallo said:
It was pretty blatant.
The great thing about it is it's true too.

In fact, there was one clan that was really cool, some of the best guys I ever played with were in a Christian clan. Then there were the others that joined private servers (owned by other clans) and tried to impose their rules, no swearing, no taking the Lord's name in vain, etc. When they got beat down by the server owners for that they would get all pissy about it and act like immature jerks. So there is a broad spectrum.
 

Darth_Jonas

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ImagoX said:
. Just like humans can view the lives of microscopic single-celled creatures and even manipulate the basic building blocks of nature (electrons, etc.), so are we to the Watchmaker- viewable but in the end really almost beneath notice.

I don’t say this to belittle us, I say it to establish perspective.

For, it is my belief that if there IS a Watchmaker, then He/She/It is as impossible for us to understand and fully grasp as humans would be to the understanding of a mitochondria or a virus- the frames of reference are just so vastly different that true understanding is impossible. Human beings are, of course, real, but how would a mitochondria, living in one of our cells’ nucleus, define us adequately from their point of view?
Right you are if looking at it from the perspective of what we mere humans can do. However, (using your own illustration) if the Watchmaker makes himself known to his creation, then it is possible for us to understand what he reveals. Afterall, an all-powerful God has the power to not only communicate, but to allow us to understand something about him. God did this with man from the start (Adam) and continued it through the rest of the Bible leading to Jesus' death, burial and resurrection.

If not for that, then we could only guess at creation, souls, the afterlife, and who controls it all.
 

ImagoX

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Darth_Jonas said:
Right you are if looking at it from the perspective of what we mere humans can do. However, (using your own illustration) if the Watchmaker makes himself known to his creation, then it is possible for us to understand what he reveals. Afterall, an all-powerful God has the power to not only communicate, but to allow us to understand something about him. God did this with man from the start (Adam) and continued it through the rest of the Bible leading to Jesus' death, burial and resurrection.
This point could be argued, I guess, EXCEPT for the fact that ALL religions, not just Christianity, make this claim of direct contact. If the Creator (whatever His name is) is really talking to people directly, then why is HE so bad at showing the same face to everyone? What makes a Christian's claim of "direct contact" better than a Muslim's? Or a Buddist's? Or a practicer of Voudoun or Santaria? Or what about people like Jim Jones- a man that claimed that God specifically told him to kill his entirre flock? Was he a prophet and True Believer or was he insane?

That being the case, one either has to make the monumentally arrogant claim that one's chosen religion is the "true" one and all the others are lies or fakes, OR, one has to assume that, if such communication ffrom Above is even happening in the first place (which I'm convinced isn't really happening at all 99.999999999999% of the time), that limited, human perceptions are distorting and obscuring the message. I chose to accept the latter possibility.

I could go on for pages and pages about the problems I have with Biblical claims on how the world came about to be, not the least of which is the fact that the earliest human writings on religion make NO MENTION of the Hebrew God or mythology (those myths, which formed part of the core of the Old Testament were first recorded several thousand years later), but really, in the end, it all comes down to faith- I know that no rational or logical explaination I offer will sway true believers, so I won't even bother in this forum.

I have had personal experiences that I think are every bit as powerful and compelling as the most devout Christian's that lead me to believe that human-created religion is only a pale shadow of the real Truth of how the universe works, but, again, they are MY experiences so i won't bother with them here unless someone specifically wants to know, but my beliefs DO have a basis and they are suported by years and years of careful condideration and, for lack of a better term, prayer, asking for help in understanding the contradictions and limitations of religion. One day I hope to have a better understanding, but I really do believe that this is a process that can and will take a lifetime.
 

Darth_Jonas

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Imago, whereas it's true that one has to have faith, there are vast and irreconcilible differences between Christianity and every other religion out there. The biggest: other religions claim that you can earn your way back into God's good graces or that you can work hard enough to advance to the next level of existence. Christianity says that we can't, only through accepting the gift of God's grace (through Jesus taking the punishment for us breaking God's law).

The other reason for belief can be presented as there is no other religion where so much verifiable proof is presented. No historian denies that Jesus existed around 2000 years ago in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. So many people have tried to disprove the Bible's authenticity and all have failed. It stands as more reliable than any ancient text. Sure, some of the miracles performed by Jesus can be explained away or not believed, but how about his resurrection and ascension into Heaven? He had too many enemies then, afterwards and now to allow it to slide. They have even more reason to disprove and hate Christianity than you do, yet they were unable to provide a body. They would've done the common thing: hang Jesus' head from a pike on the wall to prove to everyone He was dead. They couldn't. Also, how many of the prophecies pertaining to his birth, ministry and death were actually fulfilled? All of them.

I don't doubt that you have had personal experiences, and I applaud your effort to see what's out there. But it isn't about a "feeling" rarely does anyone have lights from Heaven and a voice telling them exactly what to do. If you truly are seeking, then seriously try to disprove the Bible. You don't even need to go any further than Jesus. Disprove Him and you can write off Christianity. If you can't, then you'll have to consider that He's right. And if so, what does that mean to you.
 

ImagoX

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As for the lack of a body, well, so is Jimmy Hoffa divine as well? Because, you know. they never found HIS remains either... Sorry to be sarcastic, but hey, there have been plenty of church documents and ancient Hebrew texts that never made it into the Bible that seem to indicate that Jesus was NOT assumed bodily into heaven, but that, rather, he was a man. A great prophet, yes, but just a man. There's about a zillion books written on this subject, enough to take up a lifetime if one were to read them all, both pro and con. As for me, my "inner compass" is telling me that the Resurrection myth is just that- a myth. It hinges on faith and I don’t have that, sorry. Glad you do, but faith that something is True doesn’t necessarily make it so.

As for "working you way back into God's grace", come on man... even CHRISTIANS can't agree on that one, so if you insist that this is the defining difference between Christianity and "all other religions", then I have to say that I disagree. Catholics, for instance, feel that "good works" improve your chances for admission to heaven, and have gotten a great deal of grief about that from Protestants (who were the first to identify that an honest belief in Jesus and a willingness to accept him as the true son of God constitutes the “keys to the kingdom”). Some Protestant sects, to use a counter-example, believe that the instant that God chooses to accept you into His grace, you are forevermore saved, regardless of your worldy actions. No matter what you do, even if you kill someone, rape someone, whatever, you're off the hook because "once saved, always saved", and everything you do after that, no matter how heinous, "must be the will of God". (See: “Gnosticism”). Other Christian cults interpreted chapters like Revelations to mean that they had to kill themselves and all their followers, in order to prove their faith in God.

Obviously these are extreme examples, but they do serve to illustrate that even Christians can hold some queer ideas, ones that most more temperate sects might find impossible to reconcile- lumping in the vast diversity of the rest of the world's religions into a simple "non-Christian" bundle merely shows how limited your true understanding is, sorry.
 

scribe999

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I have to agree with ImagoX regarding the resurrection and asencion of Jesus, Darth. What you are offering in that instance is for non-believers to prove a negative which one can't do. There is no proof that Jesus ascended into heaven bodily, but there is no proof that he didn't either. It is something that has to be entirely taken on faith.

And again, about the Bible, considering the text has been reimagined and hand-copied multiple times, I can't for the life of me understand how it can be considered the most accurate of ancient texts (beyond the first five books of the Torah that are virtually unchanged for reasons of Jewish scholarship). The book we come to know as the Bible today, even without the talk of missing books and edited text, is an English translation of a Latin translation of a Greek translation of Hebrew and Aramaic.

Even individual Medieval Latin versions hand written and illuminated that survive to this day possess many differences between themselves in text, grammar and presentation. And consider that even the modern day English translation bibles are different in many ways, with the King James version, the Catholic version and a variety of the Protestant versions. So, I remain skeptical about its veracity...God may be perfect, but men attempting to perceive the mind of God and write the material down are not.

I was raised Roman Catholic myself, and the perogative of Catholicism was the concept of Free Will, Penance and Forgiveness. God was taught as being ultimately forgiving and that a life well lived (follow the rules) with repentance in your heart for your sins (freely confessed to a priest) would eventually grant you the reward of heaven. But, i would imagine that Catholics are still Christians too, so I don't understand the all-encompassing use of Christianity in this argument.

The important thing to realize here is that there is nothing to prove or disprove here. As Superintendent Chalmers in the Simpsons said "Facts have no place in organized religion". I don't mean that in a derogatory way. Rather, Faith is the belief in something in the absence of proof, and it isn't something that can be argued with statements, evidence or facts. Convincing someone that their faith is wrong by using logic is pointless, and the same goes for attempting to convince a non-believer to be faithful in the same way. Either you accept something with a "leap" or you don't.

And I have to admit, it isn't entirely fair for people who aren't Christians to intrude into a forum thread that was meant to connect Christians together, but I figured I'm not causing anyone any harm. Peace to everyone!
 

ImagoX

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scribe999 said:
And I have to admit, it isn't entirely fair for people who aren't Christians to intrude into a forum thread that was meant to connect Christians together, but I figured I'm not causing anyone any harm. Peace to everyone!
Well, in my case, I was responding because someone asked for a different opinion, but the point is well taken. I'll butt out if people feel that they want this thread to be a bit more exclusive.