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Poll

Do you believe in god or gods?

Certain that my god(s) exist(s)
- 9 (10.6%)
Strongly believe in some theism
- 9 (10.6%)
Lean towards theism
- 6 (7.1%)
True Agnostic (no idea!)
- 13 (15.3%)
Don't really believe
- 9 (10.6%)
Highly doubt
- 21 (24.7%)
Certain that there is no god or gods
- 18 (21.2%)

Total Members Voted: 83


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Author Topic: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)  (Read 19186 times)

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Indja

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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #120 on: August 17, 2010, 02:15:31 PM »

Firstly, I don't know what "metanarrative" means, so until I do I'm going to have to leave that bit of what you said.

Secondly, I'm confused as to what you want from the Bible. Religious texts don't exist in the same context as any other sort of literature we have - they're not historical (and confusion of religious work with literal historical documents leads to all sorts of nasties, as we've discussed), but neither is it meant purely as fiction. They aren't the result of a series of studies of human nature, and neither are they a collection of essays exploring the author's own views of the world and interpretations of the world around them. They exist as something entirely different, although more as a little bit of all of those things than nothing like any of them at all. Even so, to expect them to give you either truth or myth, or to want them to be open to easy analysis like any other text is simply not reasonable. Apart from anything else, the Bible is very, very old - it will simply not respond to being read purely in a modern context, and doing so is only ever going to lead to disillusionment at best and gross misunderstanding at worst.

Thirdly, and this is a point derived from the whole religious-texts-ain't-like-the-others thing, the Bible was made to be interpretted - the only way it can possibly survive, the only way it has survived, is in constant reinterpretation and re-evaluation. Note I said "made" for interpretation, not "written", and that's because (and I guess this is a fourth point, maybe?) the Bible isn't like the Qur'an in it's claim to have been written by a single person, or even compiled by a single voice/mind/etc. It's a selection of books from a vast variety of sources, and was put together by the early church leaders amongst huge debate and argument about what should and shouldn't be included. One of my personal favourite illustrations of this is the story of one man who decided that there was no place for the Jews in his Bible, and so disregarded the Old Testament, Mathew, Mark and Luke, and only included a select handful of psalms. He was excommunicated from the Church and his father, the archbishop of Somewherehot, disowned him xD

Anyway, believe it or not, the Church has undergone some awful, painful and irrevocable twists to it's original purpose since the development of the biblical canon, and as a result it's almost impossible to think that, initially, they were quite happy with - and even encouraged - different interpretations of religious texts. To look at the jealous, slathering monster the Church has become, it's quite spectacular to think that one old-guy-churchy-man (also not a phrase I'm going to use in my dissertation xD) wrote that a good Christian would read the Bible as literal only if the point in question was in keeping with a practical application of Jesus' teachings of love and compassion, and as purely allegorical if it wasn't; that way, the allegory could be turned in order to apply to the person's situation, rather than the situation turned to apply to the teaching.


I think I'm losing my point here a little, but there's some other things that I think are really fucking interesting and think I'd like to share with you, so n'yah.

1. The word "belief", as in "I believe in God and Jesus and Piggly Wiggly" or whatever, has a whole new meaning to the one it had right up until about the 16th century. It's a word translated from the Greek, or Latin, or whatever they were writing with way back then, and meant something much closer to "loyalty" and "trust" than the wibbly-wobbly, taken-on-faith sort of feeling it has now. It's more saying that they trust in God and that they'll stay loyal to the idea of God, but not that they won't challenge it and really chew it over.

2. When it started, Christianity's focus was almost totally on practical application of religious ideas to normal life, not just the mindless fulfilling of sacraments and commandments. It was about genuinely and actively loving every person, and about being aware of God in every action. A man would be deemed far more pious and "Christian" if he practised non-violence, compassion and kindess with awareness of God but had never come across the Bible than one who went to Church regularly and abided by every law but had no real love for his fellow man.


Oh, Oh, I think I found my point again! Did I? I don't know. But objective truth can't be found in anything - every truth is subject to the person who knows it, how they express it, and the context within which they express it. So, obviously, I've found some extremely deep and profoundly moving truth in the Bible, but it wasn't apparent to me until I could see it in the historical context within which it was made. Before then, the truth I found in it was, as you said, just a reflection of human nature and didn't strike anything spiritual in me at all - but then, on deeper thought, it is an incredible reflection of the whole of human nature, a far more encompassing one than I've come across before, and a far more detailed one. I also don't think that something like that is to be sniffed at - something reflecting the human condition is something which reflects the deepest, strangest and most unfathomable, inexplicable element of our lives, and I think that's of value in itself.



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CeeGBee

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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #121 on: August 17, 2010, 02:42:32 PM »

You two had better not be debating...    >:(
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Indja

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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #122 on: August 17, 2010, 03:39:06 PM »

You two had better not be debating...    >:(

I think I'm actually just whittering on about how rad theology is xD It's more of an open discussion than a debate, anyway. I'm exploring what Morpheus thinks about things, and he's "exploring" (i.e, having foisted upon him) what I think about things. There's no goal at the end of a decision being made or a winner being declared.
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Rob

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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #123 on: August 17, 2010, 05:45:01 PM »

Indja,  could you supply a few refferences re: the red sea, the exodus and the creation myths (ie that bit about the song that Moses sang)

YOr #2 point about the state  of Christianity in its beginnings is spot on and should be as true today.
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The Angel Raliel

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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #124 on: August 17, 2010, 07:23:35 PM »

the book of Enoch should be put back in.... its got all the good bits..... and is possibly one of the earliest books of the Bible
(3rd century bc at least.... and part of the dead sea scrolls) It is also quoted in the new testament so at the time of Jesus it was considered canonical
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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #125 on: August 17, 2010, 07:59:03 PM »

I was raised in a strict Catholic household, and although I found many flaws and contradictions in the bible, I still can't let go of the idea of God. I can't say I have a religion nor am I religious except for certain ocd rituals, but I don't deny something exists somewhere beyond the outskirts of the universe. I don't really know what I believe, I'm just confused. Raised by religious people, was educated further in religion and chose not to follow the ways of the Catholic faith, so now I'm caught between the two.
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Indja

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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #126 on: August 18, 2010, 10:01:11 AM »

Indja,  could you supply a few refferences re: the red sea, the exodus and the creation myths (ie that bit about the song that Moses sang)

I'm afraid I can't :( I know that immediately undermines what I was saying, and I'm sorry - I don't remember which bits of the Bible those are in, and I feel loathe to tell you to just read the whole thing again until you find them xD The thing about the exodus never happening though is a very widely held opinion among theologians and biblical historians - I don't know what texts they use, but they can look at other texts from the same period and see quite clearly that there was no sudden change in population at the time of the exodus, and that there's nothing at all to suggest a sudden slave uprising under Egyptian rule. I know that's like blatantly unsatisfying, and I'm kicking myself for not remembering better what journal I read those papers in - feel free to completely ignore that all if you like, I don't think it has much bearing on the rest of what I was saying.
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Rob

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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #127 on: August 18, 2010, 07:01:41 PM »

No, that's cool.  This is just the sort of thing that interests me and I was hoping to investigate for myself. 

The exodus part is much easier to correlate with history than a specific song of praise that may or may not have been sung by Moses.  Just wondering wat sort of eye witness account might exist for such a thing.
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Indja

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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #128 on: August 19, 2010, 07:07:32 AM »

I'm reading a book at the minute called The Case For God by Karen Armstrong - she talks a lot in it about things like this, and I think that's where I heard the Moses thing. Might be worth a scan? She's a great author anyway, very interesting and, unlike a lot of theological writers, pretty sensible it seems xD
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Morpheus Laughing

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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #129 on: August 19, 2010, 12:45:43 PM »

@ Indja.

I had to cut down on what I had to say because it was about twice as long as this. In summary of the bits I have left out: In general I know of some of the changes that Christianity has gone through over time because there was a time in my life when I felt that it was important to understand something about the religion I was bought up in but no longer felt sure of. I remember reading about how Hebrew/Greek/Latin angles changed meanings but I also remember being left with the impression that some of the original contexts seemed to point to what might be simple naivety on the part of uneducated people in the way they interpreted their lives. Obviously, that can be an interesting thing to look into but as far as I’m concerned, I can’t remember the details and I don’t really feel compelled to make a case for that point if I can’t even remember why I got that impression…. I also had more to say about objectivity and relativism but it’s not easy to be concise about where I stand on that. If I’ve glossed over anything else let me know.

Onwards…..

I’ll start with an analogy about experiential content related to the human condition: I can walk down the street or through my house and both will feel familiar but in different ways. I don’t have to analyse this for truth content because experience is about seeing and recognising and does not have to be taken further than that. You also get experiential content from books and it can be found in all types of books. It doesn’t matter if the literature is fact or fiction as long as what lies beneath it is recognisable on the level of experience. This is why I can’t see the bible as separate from any other literature with abundant  experiential content. The reason you don’t find totally authentic experiential content in a lot of literature is because it is now commonplace to tinker with the "familiarity" to create effects for escapist purposes. {As a moot point – horror as a genre will deliberately aim to skew experiential content so that it begins to feel distant from the familiar and therefore “otherly” and uncomfortable}

On a closely related note: A Metanarrative is “an abstract idea that is thought to be a comprehensive explanation of historical experience or knowledge.” Basically it can be described as what happens when people turn their life sequences or even multiple life sequences (i.e. generations of people) into stories so that they take on additional weightiness in terms of meaning. In effect I suppose you could think of it like a literary effect carried out on actual experience. Similar things to what I described in the first paragraph can happen here also because a metanarritive is often just something that feels right rather than something that is thoroughly analysed. In fact, we are so used to looking at life in terms of metanarratives (“progress” is typically the secular equivalent) that we don’t realise that we do it. The inherent appeal of weightiness drives people to view human-ness in terms of metanarratives and I think that is what people want to get from the bible in addition to the sense of human nature.

In terms of reading in modern context – there really is no other way to read it – as I mentioned in the post before last (not especially well), you can learn all the history there is to know but you will never posses the subjective mindset of the time. We have enough trouble agreeing definitively on how best to understand some relatively modern texts let alone something that old. Consequently, and perhaps you agree (I can’t tell) it comes down to what people get out of interpreting it. To me, of course, this process is no different to any other process that involves interpretation of complexity because this too involves pieces of the puzzle gradually appearing and clarifying information. In the religion thread I mentioned that I had a bizarre and intense subjective experience after spending considerable time reading a number of related books – my subconsious must have shuffled these ideas around because something happened and the relatedness of the ideas clicked in an intense way. The ideas were not related to religion but it left me with the feeling that if they were I could have mistaken the feeling for something spiritual.   

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The Angel Raliel

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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #130 on: August 20, 2010, 03:25:52 AM »

thoroughly agree except it is moot point not mute point.......
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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #131 on: August 20, 2010, 04:12:57 AM »

Damn! better change that before Indja gets here. ;D
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Indja

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Re: Do you believe in god? (not a debate thread)
« Reply #132 on: August 20, 2010, 09:17:22 AM »

Damn! better change that before Indja gets here. ;D

She already got here. She was just too tired to reply yet ;) And now she's hungover and has bits of Aldi own-brand Cheese Puff stuck in the burns on her tongue, so she's going to leave it a little while longer.
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