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Old 10-05-2007, 11:36 AM   #1
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okay before I begin this, I would like to just say I know that the issue of religion (much like politics) can get heated and my intent isn't to stir the pot (so to speak) and have this turn into some ranting mess. I am simply curious as to what everyone's faith may or may not be. so this comes from way peaceful intentions.

that being said, I have been learning a lot about the religion and culture of the folks over here, and when I travel, I like to take something away from the place/experience that is similar -- learning about the people around us can never be useless, in my opinion. additionally, I come from the point of view that everyone's belief system is equally valid.

I read a lot of nonfiction, and just finished the book "the history of god" which examined christianity, islam, and judiasm as they originated from the same roots. it was painful to read at times because it was very very dry but overall very informative. I've also read the tao te ching since I've been over here, and a few books by a buddhist monk. I think religion is fascinating, and as the belief system I was raised with (raised as a protestant) has...not worked out for me. I look at the whole thing with some skepticism, I just see so many double standards, and I also don't believe everything is so literal.

not to be offensive to anyone who has those beliefs, it just doesn't work for me. we all perceive things differently and react to things differently which is why I really believe everyone's belief system is valid. so rock on with your bad self.

anyhoo, my point is this. I'm kind of at a spiritual point in my life where I'm going to start exploring other religions to find my niche, what works best for me (and it may wind up that it isn't any one religion but a combo of a few... nothing has to be literal I suppose)

so getting to my question(s)... what do you believe? what faith do you identify with (if any)? was it the same faith you were raised with? have you ever been in a similar predicament where you were in search of a new faith?
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Old 10-05-2007, 12:03 PM   #2
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To me, spirituality is about returning to our source.

Because the source is always the purest truth.

But it's not just an intellectual journey, but a metaphysical one. IOW, if you're only thinking about it, but not actually doing it...you won't be getting very far.

Which is one of the problems with organized religions - a lot of it is just intellectual dogma. And highly-confusing dogma at that. Because to decode the original meanings of all these ancient inkblots, you'd basically have to be a linguist/historian/anthropolgist/epistemologist/mind reader...just for starters.

Now if you REALLY knew the truth, you could probably understand and interpret it in many religions. But if not, they can all serve as very confusing signposts. Therefore, I would only use them carefully as fingers pointing at the moon only.

If you really think about it - how can people really convey the indescribable "supernatural" realities in words, anyways? You just have to recognize the limits of the written word and yourself as a modern-day interpreter reading about something millenia after the fact in a completely different language...

Ultimately, the proof is in the fresh pudding. And if a sect is not "working" for you or its highest master...something is probably not quite right. Which is why these days I'm doing more practices and seeking more accomplished masters to help guide me. I seek the pudding, not the reviews written about it.

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Old 10-05-2007, 12:05 PM   #3
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Wow, awesome post. I think more people should be able to openly discuss such a topic without stirring the pot as you put it.

My personal beliefs are of spiritual nature. I was raised Christian but never really agreed with any of it. I'm a very scientific person and I need to witness something first hand to believe in it, and needless to say, i never had any first hand encounters with "Jesus." So back to the spiritual stuff. I always believed that there was something past this earthly life. Reincarnation, Astral-Plane, Heaven, Hell, whatever you wanna call it, there is definitely SOMETHING. I've had quite the share of out-of-body experiences to pretty much prove to me that there is something past this. So I guess you could say that with my scientific ways being proven through these OBE's, I've first hand witnessed the "other side". Its not heaven or hell or any of those. Its peace. Tranquility. Pure Beauty. Life on a whole new dimension.

So yea.

It still brings me back to that lovely question of what do I believe in or have faith in. And the answer to that:

Nothing.

Only that there is something incredibly beautiful and undeniably magnificent waiting for each and every one of us after this.
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Old 10-05-2007, 12:36 PM   #4
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I was raised in very generic terms "Christian". Meaning, we celebrated Christmas and Easter. We never went to church and the like.

I consider myself to be a Deist (belief in God based on reason, not faith). I continue to celebrate Christian holidays so there is that twinge to my belief but I can't prove to myself that Jesus was the messiah. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't (if he wasn't he sure convinced a lot of people).

On the other hand being scientifically oriented I can almost prove that God exists.

Everything that exists was caused (a paraphrase of Newton's first law: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.)
The Universe exists
The Universe was caused
Therefore, God caused/created the Universe

I sometimes debate this sort of thing with friends but I usually tread lightly because this can really piss people off.

Good thread Nicole

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Old 10-05-2007, 12:55 PM   #5
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I continue to celebrate Christian holidays so there is that twinge to my belief but I can't prove to myself that Jesus was the messiah.
that might be my biggest hurdle in the whole spiritual thing is the holidays. I feel like it's hard to abandon Christmas and all the traditions that I have always known because sometimes it's all you know. even though my family is total posers and don't actually "celebrate" it in the way most christians would see... we do the music and the tree and the cookies and the presents. so I guess it's more of a family thing than a religious thing.

then again, being comfortable with all that newness of being without the shell of your old beliefs that you realize you don't actually believe in in the first place is I think the first step in the direction of finding something else that works for me.

rawrrr. it's frustrating but I suppose it's supposed to be.
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Old 10-05-2007, 12:55 PM   #6
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Everything that exists was caused (a paraphrase of Newton's first law: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.)
The Universe exists
The Universe was caused
Therefore, God caused/created the Universe
The problem with that transitive logic is that you're only passing the buck. Because, by using the same logic - the next obvious question then becomes...what caused/created God?

Also, Newtonian physics only roughly applies to a small subset of reality...and would be over-reaching on a quantum or metaphysical level.

BTW, Christmas & Oestre are only partially-Christian holidays anyways. They are actually bastardized hybrids with a lot of older Pagan festivals/traditions mixed in. Seriously, you must have noticed there was never talk about evergreen trees, rabbits & eggs in the Bible! :D

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Old 10-05-2007, 12:56 PM   #7
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I am not religious or spiritual at all. I celebrate Christmas so I can give and receive presents and eat a shit load of yummy food, and I celebrate Easter so I can eat as much chocolate as I like without feeling guilty.

I see myself as a complete atheist. You could give me all the reasons under the sun why you believe god exists, but I would still not believe it.

I sometimes think it must be quite nice to be religious, and have strong faith in something - I'm sure it must be rather comforting in times of need. But I'm just not feeling it.
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Old 10-05-2007, 01:04 PM   #8
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I was raised Catholic and then Protestant/Born Again Christian. I didn't really realize that there was a shift until I asked my mom why they didn't call church "going to mass" anymore. And then I sort of realized that I had to believe something different. No more saints, or crucifixes or anything.

So I really got into the born-again thing, and while I won't say I was brainwashed, I feel like I was pressured into believing something without given a chance to think about it. But then again, anyone who is raised into a religion isn't always really given a chance (this is the same way I feel about the Pledge of Alleigance; we memorize it when we're in preschool, before we're really given a chance to understand what it is we're doing).

But then afterwards, I sort of realized that I had no reason in my heart to be believing these things.

But I still wanted to believe in something.

Right now I'm sort of in that phase you're in. I'm interested in Hinduism and Buddhism, but I still celebrate Christmas, Easter, etc. But then again, I had a Jewish friend whose family had a Christmas tree. So, whatever. I still feel really attached to Christianity, but I feel myself thinking more about God than about Jesus and sacrifice and whatnot.

I really like Unitarian Universalism. It's basically believe what you want and be happy. I feel the problem with organized religion is that it takes it away from the person and puts the power of "salvation", "truth" and all that into an institution. What works for one person won't work for thousands. Have you read Siddhartha? I really like that, because he needs to find his OWN way to Nirvana. He tries the methods others have tried, and it doesn't work for him. Buddhism doesn't work for him. Siddhartha's way works for Siddhartha.

So really, I think I just have to find my own sprirituality slash religion slash belief.

EDIT:

Hahaha, I love how all these responses are happening within seconds of each other.
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Old 10-05-2007, 01:04 PM   #9
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BTW, Christmas & Oestre are only partially-Christian holidays anyways. They are actually bastardized hybrids with a lot of older Pagan festivals/traditions mixed in. Seriously, you must have noticed there was never talk about evergreen trees, rabbits & eggs in the Bible! :D
haha yeah they must have lost the tablet and scrolls that the Easter Bunny wrote for the bible. must be hidden with the holy grail.

seriously, I know several religions celebrate the same-ish timeframe holiday.... winter solstice, Hanukkah, etc. and anthropologically/historically speaking, I believe I read somewhere that it was proven that Jesus was actually born in March... or maybe it was January. I forget. but yeah, same point;
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Old 10-05-2007, 01:13 PM   #10
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I feel the problem with organized religion is that it takes it away from the person and puts the power of "salvation", "truth" and all that into an institution. What works for one person won't work for thousands. Have you read Siddhartha?
No I havent but I definately will, thanks!

I am with you though. I feel like the relationship with God or "whatever"...the Great Hoo Hoo in the Sky... is a very personal relationship and a very personal journey. I also get that having a sense of "community" renews perhaps what you believe in some ways, but shouldn't be the basis of your believes, cos as you said, what's working for one isn't working for all.

haha yeah I know we're all posting at the same time. good shit!
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Old 10-05-2007, 01:15 PM   #11
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seriously, I know several religions celebrate the same-ish timeframe holiday.... winter solstice, Hanukkah, etc. and anthropologically/historically speaking, I believe I read somewhere that it was proven that Jesus was actually born in March... or maybe it was January. I forget. but yeah, same point;
Exactly...honestly, Christianity is one of the world's most manipulated and misunderstood religions. Like I said, you'd have to be a waayyy-overqualified scholar just to begin to understand its true origins and meanings.

Oh, and let's not forget about the jolly fat guy with the flying reindeer and sack o' toys! Surely, NOT in the Bible...but in fact taken from Norse god Odin's 8-legged magical horse, Sleipnir.

So, what do these things have to do with Jesus? Pretty much nothing.

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Old 10-05-2007, 02:01 PM   #12
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The problem with that transitive logic is that you're only passing the buck. Because, by using the same logic - the next obvious question then becomes...what caused/created God?

Also, Newtonian physics only roughly applies to a small subset of reality...and would be over-reaching on a quantum or metaphysical level.
It isn't an actual "Insert-QED" type proof just a way manner of thinking about God. I'm not sure if you have to explain what created God because God is the beginning of the chain and isn't physical matter.

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I see myself as a complete atheist. You could give me all the reasons under the sun why you believe god exists, but I would still not believe it.
I have a hard time with that. I can understand 'traditional' agnostics but not atheists.

I say traditional because some people are atheists because of agnostics which believe it is impossible to determine the nature of God. However, if God were to show himself, agnostics by this very tight definition will continue to maintain there is no proof, where as a loose atheist would accept it.

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Old 10-05-2007, 02:24 PM   #13
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I guess I base that on what I have always understood or been taught about the words "atheist" and "agnostic" - probably the very basic definitions that an atheist denies the existence of god, and an agnostic being someone who believes it's impossible to know whether god exists.

Either way, I'm a non-believer. Would that make me an infidel? I like that word.
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:51 PM   #14
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I was raised a protestant, but at this point I'm either an agnostic or athiest. DrGonzo put it pretty well I think...I also am a logical and scientific type and there's no evidence at all of a God so I don't see any reason to believe in one for the same reason I don't believe in ghosts. And even if I did believe, figuring out which of the zillions of different flavors of religion is right would be impossible. I have no evidence-free emotional desire for one to exist, so for me its actually quite easy to just live my life without religion being a part of it.

I still celebrate Christmas with my family, and I don't feel guilty at all doing it or going to church on Christmas Eve. My parents seem to have become more religious since my brother an I left home, they now act as deacons in the church and attend much more regularly. I'm not sure if they actually are religious or just like the people at the church, and I don't really care so I haven't asked.

I don't really understand how religious people can believe what they believe to be honest, but I don't mean that in a negative way...its just like so many other beliefs and choices from food to politics, different things make sense to different people. As far as I can tell my brother and I aren't religious at all. On the other hand my cousin is a hardcore Christian, she's a missionary in China right now.

In the end, I get along with everyone just fine!
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Old 10-08-2007, 06:01 AM   #15
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Either way, I'm a non-believer. Would that make me an infidel? I like that word.
That sums it up for me as well. I love Infidel, another great description is Heathen which is usually what I use:D .

Quote:
I say traditional because some people are atheists because of agnostics which believe it is impossible to determine the nature of God. However, if God were to show himself, agnostics by this very tight definition will continue to maintain there is no proof, where as a loose atheist would accept it.
The terms Atheist and Agnostic are generally considered synonyms and I think the difference is so narrow as to be immaterial. You can have a philosophical discussion as to what would happen were 'God' to appear but to either an Atheist or an Agnostic its never going to happen (though the description of it never happening my be different, if that makes sense) so it seems like kind of a moot point to me.
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Old 10-08-2007, 06:30 AM   #16
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It isn't an actual "Insert-QED" type proof just a way manner of thinking about God. I'm not sure if you have to explain what created God because God is the beginning of the chain and isn't physical matter.
True, but physical matter "can't" be created either...only changed in form.

So, what "implies" intent/intelligence/creation here is "non-random, antientropic, ordered form" in physical or non-physical "matter." Which if the universe is placed in that category, "God" would be even moreso as a HIGHLY powerful, creative intelligence...
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Old 10-08-2007, 08:14 AM   #17
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That sums it up for me as well. I love Infidel, another great description is Heathen which is usually what I use:D .
Heathen! Ooh, I love that even more!
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Old 10-08-2007, 09:06 AM   #18
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Dunno, I have an inclination or a strong desire to believe in a higher power, for all intents and purposes "God." I'm a fan of anything that gives people a reason to be good (since it's pretty apparent there's no real world reward for being a good person). I just can't handle the self-righteousness. I think people take it too far. I connect with Roman Catholicism on a cultural level - but more in that superstitious Italian way than an actual belief that I can do whatever I want as long as I repent way.

I don't like it when Hicham starts talking about how "you know some people in Asia worship rats! They're crazy!!!!" It takes all the strength I have to not say, "But Mohammed (saws) was a man, a regular human who traveled from Jerusalem to heaven and back in one night on this thing that's sort of like a horse but can go farther than your eye can see in one step?! And that in heaven he got advice from Moses on how to negotiate with God?!??!" But Jesus never died... I'm pretty sure even people who don't even agree that Jesus was special can pretty much bring their heads together on the fact that he DIED. It's just so hard to be sarcastic though, because he is the typical stereotype of the Muslim who loses any trace of a sense of humor when you try to talk about Islam. (Don't worry - I can do this with most religions, as long as a "believer" starts trying to tell me how stupid a different religion is...it's just that H gives me fodder because we do this a lot.)

I am perfectly fine with believing my garbage, or rationalizing it. Walk on water? Sure. But I also like to allow other people to believe their garbage. I'll definitely give a WTF! to the people who put needles through their bodies to either show devotion or reach a transcendental state, but I won't call it stupid. I'll save that for scientology (Apologies to any Scientologists out there...joking!)
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Old 10-08-2007, 09:45 AM   #19
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I'm a fan of anything that gives people a reason to be good (since it's pretty apparent there's no real world reward for being a good person).
IMHO the problem is that religion doesn't teach people to be good. In fact, there is an argument that it teaches people to be bad and gives them an excuse because they are doing bad things in the name of a higher power. In the case of Catholicism it also gives people who do bad things an out through the concept of confession. At least Buddhism forces people to try to balance their slate through good deeds, versus simply spilling their guts for complete absolution.

There are far greater examples throughout history of people doing tremendously bad things on a massive scale in the name of religion, than tremendously good things. To me, that fact along with all the hypocrisy makes it unfathomable for me to ever participate or even conceive of participating. Plus, logically it just doesn't make any sense to me.

I believe society (which begins with parents) teaches people to be good. Religion has nothing to do with it. I do not need to be religious to know right from wrong or to have good morals, but to each their own. My basic principal is leave me alone and i'll leave you alone.
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Old 10-08-2007, 10:00 AM   #20
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But I also like to allow other people to believe their garbage.
I'm with ya Jess. There are people who wander around naked in fields waiting on the aliens to pick them up, there are people who worship some dude who has painted himself silver, I mean there's an assload of crazy, but I think America is desensitized to the whole Christianity thing so some of the stories don't sound ridiculous but if you told them to someone of another religion they would act like we would at the thought of someone thinking the hot dog vendor down the street was their god.

this is another reason I cannot do Christianity. too many radicals who want to condemn you to hell for blinking. I don't appreciate the judgemental people. too many people want to "play god" and they get upset by the gov't wanting to do things like stem cell research, saying it's playing god, but in their own way they do the same thing by trying to judge is and act all "holier than thou". I can't do double standards.

but there are radicals in every religion. that doesn't take a genius to figure out. read the news!

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There are far greater examples throughout history of people doing tremendously bad things on a massive scale in the name of religion, than tremendously good things.
oh definately. the wars the christians were in in the early days were some of the most violent in history. I am sorry, you can't tell me a higher being would want that. same thing with modern day islam. you cannot tell me god wants you to strap explosives to you and detonate in a crowd of innocent people just trying to do their thing. but it's a very powerful thing, when you believe you are on some mission from your god, and it's a matter of where you will go in the after life, and you believe you are doing the right thing, crazy things can happen.

again, radicals everywhere. which is one reason why (in my opinion) organized religion is most likely a bad idea, along with having religion & governemnt together. too many people interpret things differently and dictate what is good for the masses. this is why people rebel against the government in situations like that, that's why there's conflict.

but that's a separate discussion in itself.
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