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Xezlec

Religion

What's your religion?  

1 member has voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1.

    • Christian (any flavor)
      150
    • Atheist/Agnostic/Nontheist
      283
    • I dunno, I'm just me, dude!
      51
    • Jew
      17
    • Muslim
      9
    • Buddhist
      20
    • Hindu
      1
    • New-ager
      16
    • Cthuluite
      8
    • Wiccan
      17
    • Republican
      0
    • SubGenius
      4
    • Don't try to shove me in your categories
      43
    • Other/Unlisted
      80
    • Nihilist
      13


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wysiwygchik

Split between Wiccan and agnostic. It's possible.

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endofthespiral

I beleive in Timothy H. Farnsworth (the H. stands for Hubert). You see you can worship Timothy in anyway, because Timothy is all things, all matter. Just by sitting on your hind quarters and watching tv you are worshiping Timothy. She is a part of everything and you are a part of her, so vicariously you are a part of everything. She is what makes up as Jung said the "collective unconcious" and she is the idea of unity that was put forth by the hindu's. Timothy is all religions and races. Timothy is most of all, all matter. Everything in the universe is Timothy. Timothy has no dualities nor has she or her follower ever killed anyone. So she is a peaceful diety. Timothy loves everyone equally regardless of what they do and what they beleive. That is Timothy. And yes, Timothy is a goddess.

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gambit_boi
I beleive in Timothy H. Farnsworth.......

the sounds quite zen, spiral. humourously zen.

i bet lots of people are zen practitioners without even knowing it.

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Xezlec
Split between Wiccan and agnostic. It's possible.

Wait, is that possible?

Oh, ok.

:P

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Xezlec
i bet lots of people are zen practitioners without even knowing it.

I bet lots of people are being mocked without knowing it... ;)

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Cea

Ya know what the most devout theist, and the most skeptical atheist have in common? When it comes to the existence, or non-existence of a god neither one really knows for sure. I think eachside should at least recognise the possibilty of the others existence, and to not do so is close minded. I think believing totally in science is just as big a leap of faith as believing totally in creationism. So with that said, I am agnostic.

But what do I know.

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endofthespiral
Ya know what the most devout theist, and the most skeptical atheist have in common? When it comes to the existence, or non-existence of a god neither one really knows for sure. I think eachside should at least recognise the possibilty of the others existence, and to not do so is close minded. I think believing totally in science is just as big a leap of faith as believing totally in creationism. So with that said, I am agnostic.

But what do I know.

*Claps at the remark* I completly and totally agree. Untill you die, you can never be sure if there is or isn't a god or gods or whatever and supposing that there is a god, then and only then will you know which one is the true god, or if they are all real. Like on the Simpsons where Homer was talking to God and buddha was sitting next to him while the Colonel was feeding God popcorn chicken.

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bard of aven
Ya know what the most devout theist, and the most skeptical atheist have in common? When it comes to the existence, or non-existence of a god neither one really knows for sure. I think eachside should at least recognise the possibilty of the others existence, and to not do so is close minded. I think believing totally in science is just as big a leap of faith as believing totally in creationism. So with that said, I am agnostic.

But what do I know.

I'm inclined to agree. It probaly takes more faith to believe in quarks than it does to believe in a deity. Nobody has ever seen either (IMHO), but claim things about both based on what they interpret from the supposed effects of each. So much of subatomic physics is based on squiggly lines on photographic plates, and suchlike. We can infer things about what caused those lines. But what do we really know???? (Other than that I am still an atheist.)

boa

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dastraube

I'm agnostic. I recommend a book by Richard Dawkins called "The Selfish Gene". In its last chapter he talks about memes, which are basically ideas that have their existence in our minds and try to replicate themselves in other minds. For example, one could say that "an eye for an eye" is a meme or so too would be "do unto others as you would have done to you". I think religions are groups of memes put together and the success of a religion is determined by its ability to reproduce itself in other minds (usually accomplished by missionary work or teaching it to one's children). I think Dawkins argued that, in the strictest sense, individuals are joint ventures of genes and memes that are interested in their own reproduction through us. Certainly we are also more than that.

Personally, though I'm not religious, I'm concerned about the decline in religion, especially in the West. For all its faults, Christianity was part of the Judaeo-Christian/Greco-Roman amalgamation that I think (ok arguably) was responsible for the West's success, including prosperity and technological achievement and even (expect much disagreement here) how we treat others. I wonder if Christianity's downfall will result in a decline in the West and a replacement by a much more conservative faith, namely Islam.

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kbrd143
Personally, though I'm not religious, I'm concerned about the decline in religion, especially in the West. For all its faults, Christianity was part of the Judaeo-Christian/Greco-Roman amalgamation that I think (ok arguably) was responsible for the West's success, including prosperity and technological achievement and even (expect much disagreement here) how we treat others. I wonder if Christianity's downfall will result in a decline in the West and a replacement by a much more conservative faith, namely Islam.

I am not necessarily going to disagree with you, dastraube. Cartainly, Western law is definately Christian-based, at least in its conception. . . Though, I wonder: do you feel that such religious-based success would be a divine nod?

Also: Chrisitanity is still fairly conservative, at least as it is understood by many. The main thing that distinguishes Islam is not its conservatism, but, rather, the fact that many countries use that religion's teachings as the basis of thier state systems, as well. If, ideed, as you posit, Islamic states are on the uprise, would you go so far as to say that religiously-based states are pleasing to god? (Sorry for the hijack! This just struck me as interesting. . . .)

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endofthespiral

I just wrote out a post about the decline of America, not the western civilization, I think that now that we live in an age of instant communication and because western thought is so prevelant it has taken a hold of the world and probably wont let go untill the entire world accepts it and we evolve it into something different. But I don't beleive that religion has much to do with a nation's success or failure. What does have to do with that is (as I wrote in an essay I called the City of Man, it was a refutation of christian points and the points maid by St. Augustine). God does not decide the fait of a nation, what does is superior weapontry, superior military tactics, and superior technology. The only other factors that could possibly play a role in the destruction or creation of a major worldly school of thought is diseases amongst the ranks of the people or other natural disaster. What I mean is Europeans became a world power not because of christianity, but because there were people willing to go against the christian church at the risk of their own lives to further the city of man and not the city of god. That is they made great advances in weapontry, which at the time decided culture. Such advances are the printing press, the long bow, the advancements made in the cross bow, folded steal swords, chivilary (or at least the creation of an elite warrior class, the knite/cossak), fortication advancements, food storage advancements, and seige engine advancements. What allowed America to become a world power was resources, man power, and well winning world war II, then the cold war. In winning world war II I would like to point out that we had better weapontry during the second half of the war. We had the Garand a .30 cal gas ejection 8 round semi-auto rifle. It was more acurate and more reliable then the KAR. The KAR 43 was called "Hitler's Garand" it was also a 7.92mm weapon. The Garand was a better designed weapon and was more acurate and reliable for field use. The Germans had the MP-40 SMG, we had the Thompson SMG. The MP-40 chambered a 9mm round which is about a .36 caliber where as the Thompson was a.45 caliber. The Thompson had more stopping power and was more reliable. For side arms the germans perferred the Lugar another 9mm weapon. While a good gun in its own right it is nothing compaired to the US's Colt M1911-A1 a .45 caliber weapon.

I could also go on about rockets, sniper rifles, and gernades. But the fact is it's mainly weaponstechnology that determines the influence that a country has. The current standard issue american infinatry rifles is the M-16 which chambers a 7.62mm round (the USM changed to the metric system after WWII) It's a .30 caliber round and soon to become a 5.56 mm round or a .21 caliber round. Also after WWII the Colt M1911-A1 stayed the standard issue firearm for american sericemen. Untill the 1980's when they adopted the Baretta 9mm. A big mistake in any gun enthusiasts, military servicemans, or historians eyes. The extreemists, I don't know if they use side arms I doubt they do, but if they did there is no standard issue and the side arms are probably a hodge podge, my guess is they are mainly lugers or .40 calibers made by almost nameless foreign companies. I do know however that almost all use the Klashnakov. The AK-47 is also a 7.62mm round, the AK-47's that they have are the 7/62 round and not the later 5.45mm round. So they will have firepower over us and the AK is a much more reliable gun then the M-16 ever could hope to be.

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dastraube

KAW143 raised some interesting questions.

I don't feel that the rise of Islamic states signals the divine nod. Nor do I feel that America has been blessed by God for its religious heritage.

However, if a religion is to survive and prosper, one method is by holding tenets that help its followers thrive.

Contrast for example religion A which espouses secrecy, celibacy, and say mass suicides with religion B which espouses evangelism, avoidance of destructive behaviors (such as alcoholism), devotion to family and child-rearing. Which religion will prosper? Of course the second. We don't have many Jim Jones followers around anymore but there are a lot of LDS members.

KAW143 also reminded us that many feel Christianity to be a conservative religion. Personally, I think it's a fairly moderate religion, but we're talking about a continuum. Personally, I'd list Wicca and Buddhism as liberal, modern Judaism as more liberal than Christianity but still fairly moderate, and Islam and Seikh as conservative.

What do I mean by liberal and conservative when I refer to these religions? The main thing is how accepting each is of other faiths. The second thing is how progressive they are with regards to treatment of women and children and also to those with lifestyles that conflict with the religions tenets. I'm sure there are other things to consider.

Personally, I feel that Christianity is not as conservative as most think. Why? Because when Christianity first appeared on the scene and challenged the Roman state religion(s) it tended to have a civilizing (softening?) affect on Rome's attitude to things like slavery and warfare.

I think that Greco-Roman thought was pretty similar to modern fascism, hence Hitler's reference to the Third Reich and all that. Basically, the Greeks and Romans admired strength and believed that might made right. Christianity, in contrast, looked out for the little guy. Look at Jesus' preoccupation regarding the poor and the meek. He admonished us to take care of the weak in this life and suggested that "it will be harder for the rich to get into heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle" (paraphrasing).

A lot of folks blame Christianity for what really is Greco-Roman reasoning. Take slavery in this country. Certainly, Southern preachers pointed to Biblical references to defend slavery; they almost had to because the Bible was so important, one had to defend one's point of view with it whether the Bible lended itself well to that point of view or not. Really, though, what most people don't know is that the abolitionist movement was very much a Christian movement and a plain reading of the Bible motivated them to ending a great social injustice. So, I think it is plain that slavery was Greco-Roman type thinking.

I don't necessarily mean to say that Greco-Roman thinking was always wrong and Christianity always right. Jesus and the apostles never said what a just war might be (for example) and later church leaders had to debate this issue quite a bit before coming up with guidelines. When out leaders, Bush for example, talks about Iraq being a just war or whatever, he can't quote Jesus. On the other hand, a lot of folks feel that certain wars really are just wars.

My own view is that we live in a real world and have to acknowledge that wealth and power accumulation and maintenance are real desires that most people have; we should harness these desires (e.g. let them earn money but tax them) while making sure that those without have the means to improve their condition. I think this is an example of how Greco-Roman and Christian thought can be blended.

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Xezlec
Ya know what the most devout theist, and the most skeptical atheist have in common? When it comes to the existence, or non-existence of a god neither one really knows for sure. I think eachside should at least recognise the possibilty of the others existence, and to not do so is close minded. I think believing totally in science is just as big a leap of faith as believing totally in creationism.

WHOA! You think that the teachings of creationism are every bit as likely as the teachings of science?? Holy crud...... I have to totally, TOTALLY disagree there.

Science is based on a much less biased way of discovering information. Creationism is based on personal and social revelations by God in the Bible. I think science takes a much, much smaller leap of faith. If it didn't, it wouldn't be science!

Science is based on principles almost everyone would agree with, based on everyday experience (you could argue that experience is just an illusion but that's a lot stranger than arguing non-shared personal religious experience). Those "squiggly lines" are known to mean certain things because of previous experiments. It sounds like you are trying to think of science as being a bunch of "castles in the sky" with no basis in experiment and observation. That's not what it is. EVERY single precept comes from other precepts, and lots of repeated experiments by lots of different people.

It all starts with things that were observed with plain old senses, like the way you know cars exist. I mean, you might think it's more reasonable to deny electrons than cars, just because cars are bigger and more immediately visible, but for those of us who have actually done all the experiments in physics labs leading up to that, and then done the really cool experiments where we calculate the exact mass and charge of an electron, using a combination of experiments and knowledge obtained from past experiments, we know that the pyramid of knowledge supporting the understanding of electrons is just as rock solid as the belief that cars exist. In short, don't assume just because YOU don't know how to determine what those squiggly lines mean, NO ONE ever could.

Computers, TV's, electronics and gadgets and fusion reactors and such didn't just "spring into existence" from trial and error, they were all carefully designed according to the laws that you think are as likely as creationism. If those laws were wrong, what are the chances we would "accidentally" design such complex working devices? If wave mechanics is as likely as creationism, how come I can use wave theory to design an LED of any color I want, by calculating a precise atomic structure and using my machines to build that structure?

Science is valuable and useful because it has PREDICTIVE POWER. That is, when science makes a prediction with 99% certainty (e.g.: an electron in a Bloch state in a crystal will not be scattered except by variations in the periodicity of the lattice), 99% of the time they turn out to be correct. Creationism has never made any useful predictions about the universe that turned out to be measurable and correct.

PLEASE don't put science and creationism on the same playing field :(

I acknowledge that the existence of god(s) is as likely as the existence of the oft-mentioned invisible pink unicorn. I think that's the most popular position for atheists, and that would satisfy your argument, wouldn't it? I mean, at least acknowledge that the IPU could possibly exist... :)

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gambit_boi

just wondering here...

anybody feel themselves spiritually enclined towards mysticism?

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dastraube

I'd like to play devil's advocate with Xezlec. I actually am a strong believer in the scientific method and I accept evolution. But I think that even accepting evolution requires a little bit of faith.

Evolution, a process that occurs even today, has some troublesome spots. The most obvious is in understanding how the first cell(s) were formed. Even the simplest of cells in existence today have hundreds of different molecules that comprise them. How was it that the first cell came to be? It had to not only be able to acquire and use energy, but also to reproduce itself. I don't think many scientists respect the primordial soup theory (i.e. lots of organic materials just happened to come together and voila, you have a cell); the latest I've heard is interest in self-replicating RNA. But that's a hypothesis, right? We have a big gap here, at least for the present. And we might have a good theory about it someday, but we'll probably never really know because most likely the evidence has been destroyed.

Second, we really don't have good explanations for why matter and energy has the properties that it does. And what is any of it doing here in the first place? And if the properties were a little bit different, would there be any life possible at all? I suppose that if the physical laws were different, that life would be possible in certain universes and not others, but isn't it quite convenient that life is in fact possible and that we are even here having this conversation?

And science may answer many questions, but it doesn't really give answers that are satisfactory to many of us, such as for the question "What is the meaning of life?" I've already given what I understand to be the scientific meaning in an earlier post, but it takes religion or philosophy to provide an emotionally gratifying one.

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gambit_boi
science may answer many questions, but it doesn't really give answers that are satisfactory to many of us, such as for the question "What is the meaning of life?" I've already given what I understand to be the scientific meaning in an earlier post, but it takes religion or philosophy to provide an emotionally gratifying one.

*completely and utterly agrees with this*

however, what of those people who find emotional (even spiritual) gratification in their understanding of the laws of science? there's a book called "skeptics and true believers" that really delves into this.

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Aeireono

Well, just to poke my nose in, evolutionary theory has nothing to do with the origins of life. It's involved in the shifting of alleles over time, which is pretty much the scientific definition of evolution. How the genetic material came to be isn't involved. That's a different branch of biology - try looking for "abiogenesis" if you're interested in scientific theories about the origin of life, not evolution.

(edit) Should probably also note that no scientist would ever claim that anything as complex as a modern cell would spring up out of a random mess of molecules. Even the simplest bacterial cell alive today is, most likely, nway more complex - the theory, from what I know of it, involved much more primitive forerunners, the likes of which don't exist today. I really should read up more on this some day, but right now it's late - just dropping in a couple of notes before bed, really.

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Xezlec
I'd like to play devil's advocate with Xezlec. I actually am a strong believer in the scientific method and I accept evolution. But I think that even accepting evolution requires a little bit of faith.

Perhaps. My argument was that it requires less faith than creationism. But I wouldn't mind the argument :)

Evolution, a process that occurs even today, has some troublesome spots. The most obvious is in understanding how the first cell(s) were formed. Even the simplest of cells in existence today have hundreds of different molecules that comprise them. How was it that the first cell came to be? It had to not only be able to acquire and use energy, but also to reproduce itself.

The first cell was no doubt far simpler than even today's simplest cells. It had to reproduce itself, but I don't necessarily agree that it had to aquire and use energy. I've heard theories about "self-promoting chemicals". I think it depends what their environment was. For example, in an environment of certain proteins, even a single protein (a prion) can reproduce itself. That's obviously a weird example, but who knows how weird the early Earth was?

I'm not a biology expert, but my dad certainly is. I could ask him about the details of current theories, but in the end, does it really matter? I mean, just because science hasn't "figured that part out yet" doesn't mean the theory is wrong. In fact, it doesn't even suggest that. It just means that part is hard to understand. If it remained not understood for a very long time, that might suggest the theory were at fault, or perhaps just that humans are too stupid to understand it. Just because I don't know how the magician does his tricks doesn't mean I can't use past experience (everything he's done before turned out to be a trick) to determine that this, too, is just a trick, and not real magic.

I don't think many scientists respect the primordial soup theory (i.e. lots of organic materials just happened to come together and voila, you have a cell);

Oh come on, I don't think it was quite that simple. Anyway, what about the sandwich theory? That everything first formed on flat surfaces under the seas. But yeah, I agree that the organic soup theory was never really advanced into anything close to the level of scientific certainty, and a lot of scientists (most?) have always been skeptical of it.

the latest I've heard is interest in self-replicating RNA. But that's a hypothesis, right? We have a big gap here, at least for the present. And we might have a good theory about it someday, but we'll probably never really know because most likely the evidence has been destroyed.

Okay, but so what? Of course if you look at the cutting edge of science, you will find currently-unsolved problems. Give us a century or two. Even if we can't ever know (which is possible), at least we can (hopefully) someday demonstrate a decent hypothesis and show that it has some reasonable probability of happening on a primordial planet.

Second, we really don't have good explanations for why matter and energy has the properties that it does.

Well, we do, but of course once you go down far enough into deep details you will ALWAYS get to a point where you can ask "and why is that?" without an answer. No matter how much we learn, that will always be true, right? Why call that a hole? I mean, at some point in this discussion of why's, you reach questions about the nature of the existence of the universe itself, and I doubt any human is equipped with the experience and mentality to answer such questions, regardless of whether those questions do in fact have answers. So I'm content just to worry about the measurable world.

I could give you my own pet ideas about why the universe exists at all, and why anything is or could ever be, and why things are the way they are and not some other way, but it would all be unprovable conjecture. I mean I can sit here all day and yammer about how maybe the possibility or coherence of a set of rules is in some extracosmic way the same thing as the existence of a universe having that set of rules, but ultimately I'm not saying anything useful.

And what is any of it doing here in the first place? And if the properties were a little bit different, would there be any life possible at all? I suppose that if the physical laws were different, that life would be possible in certain universes and not others, but isn't it quite convenient that life is in fact possible and that we are even here having this conversation?

No, and I've had this argument many times before on atheism fora (anyone here from IIDB?) and in real life. This is what I believe is known as the teleological or cosmological argument, and the response to this form of it is pretty simple: if we were in a universe in which life was impossible, we wouldn't be in that universe at all (see the contradiction?). To put it another way, suppose life exists. Then it must exist in a universe which is perfect for life, and it wonders about the "convenience" of being in that universe. Now suppose life doesn't exist. Then there's no one to wonder.

Do you see the subjectivity problem? We are wondering about something we cannot ever possibly see outside of. That means we are in no position to even begin to theorize about such a thing. We have no basis for talking about how "likely" or "unlikely" a universe with life is, and we have no idea how many universes might exist, so we don't have any way of knowing whether there is a coincidence or not! We only know that the situation is such that the situation is such, and that's just a tautology. But people are likely to assume that it's a coincidence by making the unevidenced assumption that all values of fundamental constants that are possible so far as we know are equally likely, and there is only one universe in the whole "outside the universe" universe. In reality, we don't even know if "likely" has any meaning outside the universe. Nor do we know whether "outside the universe" means anything. If a universe with conditions that support life is possible anywhere in the (there's no English word for this concept), then obviously, the people wondering about it will be in one of those universes. See?

And science may answer many questions, but it doesn't really give answers that are satisfactory to many of us, such as for the question "What is the meaning of life?" I've already given what I understand to be the scientific meaning in an earlier post, but it takes religion or philosophy to provide an emotionally gratifying one.

Are you saying that reality is not sufficiently gratifying for you and so you want an incorrect belief? Awww, you poor thing ;)

Just teasing, I know that's probably not what you mean. You are talking about a different question. I don't know what you mean by "meaning of life", but if I correctly guess the question you are asking, I might be able to give you a rationalist's answer.

Assuming you mean "What is the purpose of existence", my answer is that you are not created by an entity with purpose, you are simply the result of certain causes. Any "purpose" humans have is man-made, in other words, we invent purpose. Purpose is a human creation. Your purpose is whatever you make it, or perhaps what someone forces on you (depending on your situation). Because of my natural fascination with science (thanks to my genes and upbirnging), I have made it my primary purpose to learn all that can be learned (yes, like V-Ger) about it. Because of my natural desire to be useful, I have made it my secondary purpose to improve the world somehow.

We each create our own meaning of life. If we pursue it with sufficient vigor, we might be lucky enough to fully realize it. That good enough? :)

Sorry, I know I'm not much of a philosopher, I mean gawd, I don't even have a Bachelor's degree yet. I'm just a re-enrolled former dropout in the electrical engineering department at UT. Most of my knowledge is computer stuff, so forgive my lack of knowledge about the other sciences and liberal arts.

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LonePiper
To me, it is much more natural to ask "what did x" rather than "who did x", since in my experience most stuff happens because of impartial, ordinary physical processes, not hidden entities. So I would say that by asking "who put...." and so forth, you have already decided (by some other line of though) that god(s) exist and you are now just trying to justify it. To me, the idea that there is a god raises a lot more questions than it answers.

Interesting point. Perhaps I should have used the term "what" instead of "who".

But as far as I know there have been no real attempts to explain where the laws of nature came from. Maybe they have been there all along, but why are they exactly the way they are? Why does everything run so smoothly? Maybe the laws of physics follow an evolutionary process themselves, and through uncountable big bangs they've finally neared perfection. But that evolutionary process would have to follow laws of its own, so where did it come from? As far as I'm concerned, its just as easy to explain the existence of laws of nature through a God as it is through some other means.

And the beauty of God is that he doesn't have to follow any laws. He creates them.

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Xezlec
Interesting point. Perhaps I should have used the term "what" instead of "who".

But as far as I know there have been no real attempts to explain where the laws of nature came from. Maybe they have been there all along, but why are they exactly the way they are? Why does everything run so smoothly?

How do you know it does? As per my other post, I don't believe we have sufficient experience to talk about the universe being a coincidence, or running unusually smoothly (compared to what?), or even to be able to really fathom the idea of how far down the mountain of laws can go. It's tempting to say these things, but I think you are committing a subtle logical error by doing so. Of course, that's my opinion.

And as far as I know there have been no real attempts to explain where God came from. Maybe he has been there all along, but why is he exactly the way he is? Why does he choose laws that are so predictable and smooth? Why does he like life? Why does he like patterns?

Now, do you see? The questions aren't answered by the God hypothesis, just moved. We may feel more comfortable with questions like that about an "entity" rather than a "set of rules", but that feeling of comfort is just a bias, because our feelings are formed in an evironment full of entities all around us, who tend to follow certain patterns of thinking. So we feel more at ease with the concept that a person "just is" and "just is the way he is" than we do that a set of laws "just is" and "just is the way it is".

As far as I'm concerned, its just as easy to explain the existence of laws of nature through a God as it is through some other means.

Oh, I agree! And to turn that around, I think it's just as easy to explain the existence of laws of nature through some other means as through a god. The point is that experience has tauight us that you can almost always explain everything by positing some entity somewhere, but it usually turns out that the entity hyposthesis is less likely. That's Occam's Razor. I can't prove it, but it has been true in my experience.

For example, I can hypothesize that my keys are on the floor when I know I put them on the shelf because someone grabbed them and put them there, or that they fell there. Both are easy explanations. The explanation that doesn't involve an entity is a little more reliable most of the time. In my experience anyway. And both explanations raise further questions: e.g., if they fell there, what caused them to fall? If an entity put them there, where did that entity come from and why on earth does he like putting keys on the floor?

And the beauty of God is that he doesn't have to follow any laws. He creates them.

Careful with the word "laws". When I say laws I mean patterns. According to the God hypothesis, God does indeed follow certain patterns of action. He must, or else the universe would be unpredictable due to the random whims of God. Since he "tends to behave in a certain way", i.e. he likes people, he rarely interferes with those laws he created, etc., he does obey patterns we might as well call laws. The question is (still) why?

Hope that clarifies my position.

This is an extremely interesting conversation! I'm happy to have found a forum with such interesting conversationalists :)

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gambit_boi

on a spiritual note, i went to a Quaker meeting this morning.

the Quakers are a christian-rooted religious group founded in the 1600's in England. they believe in pacifism and simplicity, the equality of all people, that all of us can have a dirrect experience of the Divine, and that everyone has an "inner light" or "light of God" within them.

the worship plan for the meeting house (Quaker church) i went to goes as thus; worshipers sit in meditative silence together thoughout. when a person feels moved to speak or share what they're feeling/experiencing, they rise, speak, and sit down when through. when service is over (after about an hour), they shake the hand of whoever is sitting near them, chat a bit, and go on their way.

i found this all incredibly cool, and very moving. i'm not too fond of doctrine or dogma, though i do feel a need to get in touch with spirituality on some level. and i'm thinking i've found it, which is really exciting for me. and the community of people there was very kind and welcoming.

just wondering, any one else have any experiences with Quakerism?

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mindlife

In the weekly anti-war theatrical of which I am a part, many of my fellow demonstrators are Quakers. I like them. In fact, Quakerism is one system of belief that is quite friendly to me.

If I could commit myself to a faith, Quakerism is one of my strongest prospects.

And their pacifism is not stern, but all the same, it is uncompromising.

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dastraube

A lot of what we've been discussing is "evidence for design". The classic illustration for this is an old-fashioned pocket watch. Certainly watches evolve in a sense over time as their designers make improvements in them, but to have so many components that must fit each other precisely for it to function is evidence, some would say, of design.

Creationists have used this argument for many things. Some of them have been debunked to a greater or lesser extent. Examples are the Bombadier Beetle, the human eye, and yes, the first cell. The basic question is, how did such a thing come to be, when an advancement in one component without simultaneous advancements in multiple other components would result in failure?

So okay, I "have faith" that there was probably some natural way in which the first cells appeared, but I doubt sincerely that we will ever know for sure how this happened since it has not been observed to occur presently (spontaneous generation?) and the evidence has probably long been destroyed. I mean, if I have a theory of origins that is fairly satisfying in the main, but has parts that are unverifiable, I don't necessarily reject it. I just say, yep, it's problematic but the most sensical thing I have.

A lot of folks see design all over the place. They point out that while scientists speculate about multiple universes with multiple fundamental laws, we really only know of one universe and the universe appears to follow the same laws everywhere (as far as we can tell).

So I'm not so sure that it's illogical to try to stand outside for a minute and say..hmm..is this pretty incredible really or not so incredible? I understand it's unknowable and very subjective how incredible or not this all is, but it seems like it's something that's at least natural to be doing, and perhaps important, too.

I understand that if we don't think we're serving a higher entity's purpose then if we want purpose, we need to determine this for ourself. I used to include the pursuit of knowledge in there, but I notice I never got a prize for figuring it all out (so to speak). I think Douglas Adams had fun with this notion when he wrote about a missile that had been turned into a sentient whale by an improbability machine. The whale was celebrating its existence and new-found discoveries about the world even as it plummeted to a planet below. It's last words were something like "What is this thing that's rushing up toward me? I think I'll call it the ground! I wonder if it will be friends with me?" But sure, I think doing things that we find enjoyable (including learning) is a good thing. I guess I'm just pointing out that a lot of folks are additionally concerned with continuity after their death. They may want to leave some kind of legacy, like they've started a business, written a book, had and/or invested time in children, that type of thing. And by and large, religious people have the added hope that their lives will continue in paradise or reincarnation or what have you.

Yes, if we believe in God, we transfer some of the same problems and create a host of new ones. Why does God exist? Who made him? Why should I care if his purpose for my life is this when I want to do that? Did God create us because he's lonely? Is this a deficiency in God? What's he want to be worshipped for by the likes of us anyway? When we say God is good is that because he matches up to our notion of goodness or because good means "like God"? If he created people and then tortured them forever for seemingly his own delight, would that be a good thing?

Anyway, mostly I find myself agreeing with you.

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LonePiper
How do you know it does? As per my other post, I don't believe we have sufficient experience to talk about the universe being a coincidence, or running unusually smoothly (compared to what?), or even to be able to really fathom the idea of how far down the mountain of laws can go. It's tempting to say these things, but I think you are committing a subtle logical error by doing so. Of course, that's my opinion.

I see that they run smoothly because if they didn't, complicated things like life, electronics etc. would not work if they didn't. By smoothly I mean there are no contradictions or empty spaces where laws don't apply. At least no obvious ones that have been found.

And as far as I know there have been no real attempts to explain where God came from. Maybe he has been there all along, but why is he exactly the way he is? Why does he choose laws that are so predictable and smooth? Why does he like life? Why does he like patterns?

I know it is an easy way to dismiss it, and to be perfectly honest I'm not entirely happy with the answer, but I think most religious people would agree that God has always been there. But that answer, as bad as it must be, is the same answer you'd have to give for laws and patterns in the absence of a God. I am merely making the point that God is just as likely as other things, not more so.

And God likes life because he likes patterns, same reason why he likes predictable and smooth laws. And as for why does he like patterns: why not? This is just one way the universe could be. If he does exist, he could just as easily have made it otherwise.

Now, do you see? The questions aren't answered by the God hypothesis, just moved. We may feel more comfortable with questions like that about an "entity" rather than a "set of rules", but that feeling of comfort is just a bias, because our feelings are formed in an evironment full of entities all around us, who tend to follow certain patterns of thinking. So we feel more at ease with the concept that a person "just is" and "just is the way he is" than we do that a set of laws "just is" and "just is the way it is".

As I suggested, I'm not trying to give the definitive answer, the existence for God is just a possible answer for me - it just happens to be the answer I believe. I use the term entity because there is no better word for what I really mean. A person is an entity, but as I would see it, God would have to be so far above and beyond human understanding that he would be impossible to describe properly. If God created the laws of physics, he would not be restricted by them himself (Even though, as you say, he would have to follow some kind of pattern. Just not physics), so the usual ways in which we describe anything - weight, size, colour, speed etc. simply would not apply to him. Even the word life, or intelligence. These are things that we use to describe ourselves and things in our universe. God does not necissarily have to have intelligence to speak of. So entity is just a word to use when no other word suffices.

Oh, I agree! And to turn that around, I think it's just as easy to explain the existence of laws of nature through some other means as through a god. The point is that experience has tauight us that you can almost always explain everything by positing some entity somewhere, but it usually turns out that the entity hyposthesis is less likely. That's Occam's Razor. I can't prove it, but it has been true in my experience.

You can't prove it - my point exactly. But just because you can't prove it, does not mean its not true, obviously. While I don't think it is irrational to believe in natural causes for the explanation of the universe I also don't think it is the only possible answer.

Careful with the word "laws". When I say laws I mean patterns. According to the God hypothesis, God does indeed follow certain patterns of action. He must, or else the universe would be unpredictable due to the random whims of God. Since he "tends to behave in a certain way", i.e. he likes people, he rarely interferes with those laws he created, etc., he does obey patterns we might as well call laws. The question is (still) why?

Perhaps God followed the same kind of evolutionary process as I theorised about the laws of physics. He may have originally created random, chaotic universes, but eventually he began following patterns which slowly refined more and more. The same obvious problem arises here, however, which I am fully aware of: what governs the evolutionary process? And how could God be controlled by outside forces? That defies his definition. But similar problems arise with the laws of physics. I'll ponder about that one a bit.

Quite stimulating discussion. I've been waiting to try out some of these theories!

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98slbrookes98

Basically I believe in God, Fate and Life after Death. I call myself a Deist because I don't know what I am. With me, I just pick and choose out of all of the religions, I choose things I like, leave things I dislike etc. Basically I'm all of them.

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Kylie Everrett

I don't believe in anything. I do have ideas of what is good or bad and wrong or right but at the end of the day I live without morality. Because in truth these is no morality. So do whatever the hell you want and don't worry it doesn't matter.

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wombat

I don't know what i am.

I try to look at all things from a scientific perspective. But at the same time, i think most religions are just another means of control that taps your emotional center. If anything, i belive in the power of human emotion. It's wonderful....and it dosn't have to make sence either.

But...whatever floats your boats...

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pyromancer

I put "Wiccan", though my usual description is "eclectic solitary wiccan-ish". I was raised Catholic and went to church every Sunday for 25 years. But the more I learned about the church's stance on women, on gay people, etc, the more I became convinced that the church is in fact preaching evil.

About six months after I left I discovered neo-Paganism, and realised that the basics of Wicca were what I'd more or less beieved and practiced all my life anyway. A co-equal god and goddess, an ethical stance based on love, trust, and tolerance - it just all made perfect sense to me.

A site with a lot of good info on all religions, and dedicated to spreading tolerance and information, is http://www.religioustolerance.org

About the same time I also discovered pagan gothic rock band Inkubus Sukkubus, and listening to some of their church-bashing anthems certainly helped me break free from what was left of the Christian conditioning.

<shameless plug time>

http://www.inkubussukkubus.com is the official site, and http://www.inkubus-sukkubus.co.uk is my contribution to the cause. :twisted:

</unplug>

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Nugan

I'm an Agnostic, because I've grown increasingly aware that I have no way of knowing whether or not god exists and whether he cares if he does.

I was raised Christian though, and I suppose I still symphasize with it, although I've mostly rejected Christianity at this point.

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Silly Green Monkey

Now THAT'S a big avatar. I didn't know they could come that size. :shock:

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