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Let's debate God's existence!
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Does God exist?
Yes
56%
 56%  [ 13 ]
No
43%
 43%  [ 10 ]
Total Votes : 23

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Spoonweaver




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PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you start excluding things it's easy to say everything is the same.

Like if I was to say, all girls like guys. Well not counting lesbians.
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Bagne
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The converse is true also:
If you include too many things in a category, nothing is the same, and the category doesn't actually mean anything.
Is Scientology a religion?
What about Ramtha, her followers, and the people who made "What the Bleep do we Know?"?
What about if I invent my own "religion" - one involving ice cream and dancing? (see earlier post)

Furthermore, I'm only excluding the ancient religions because it simply isn't possible to make a fair comparison with them.
Take the ancient Egyptian religion:
What did they believe about the afterlife? Well, The Book of the Dead, evolved throughout Egypt's history because it was never considered a product of divine revelation, and people felt free to modify it.

In the cases of the world religions, we have texts which directly or indirectly describe the teachings that laid the foundations of the respective religions: the Torah, the New Testament, the Koran and Hadith, the Bhagavad Gita etc.
Example: In the Noble Eightfold Path, the reader understands that Buddha taught renunciation, freedom from anger, etc. How do I compare this to the Egyptian religion?

Edit:
I'm curious:
Does Norse mythology have any central texts? Where do they come from?
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Spoonweaver




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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Is Scientology a religion?

I think scienctologist, Mormons, and flying spaghetti monster worshipers ARE the same as jews catholics and muslims.

I mean, people discredit these religions because they're based off of stories that couldn't be true based on our general knowledge.
"Spaghetti isn't alive, nor did it create the universe."

But so are ALL other religions.

And if you're going to discredit them because of their age, well then how can you discredit the really old religions like egyptian or norse for the exact opposite reason.

It's easy to go with the flow and believe what everyone else does, but that doesn't make it better then other ways of thinking.


Quote:
What did they believe about the afterlife? Well, The Book of the Dead, evolved throughout Egypt's history because it was never considered a product of divine revelation, and people felt free to modify it.

In the cases of the world religions, we have texts which directly or indirectly describe the teachings that laid the foundations of the respective religions: the Torah, the New Testament, the Koran and Hadith, the Bhagavad Gita etc.



Are aware that the new testament, as well as many of the other books there, have been revised several times?
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Bob the Hamster
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Bagne: I think you are looking at other religions from a very christian perspective. You are excluding religions that lack Christianity's defining features, and focusing on features that other religions have in common.

Even talking about religious books is very christian-centric. Some muslims say that christians actually worship the book, not God. Some (but of course not all) Jews consider the torah to be a collection of histories and traditions, not so much The Word Of God as christians consider the bible.

Actually, I think that the common concept of a divine book in many of the biggest religions is partly responsible for their success. A religion devoted to a divine prohpet or a divine king can change itself pretty dang fast as soon as said king or prophet dies. A book on the otherhand, can't die, and other than translation and occasional revision-by-retranslation, it doesn't change much either.

But I don't think lack of a book disqualifies a religion.

Oh, and regarding the texts of Norse mythology, no, they did not. Norse mythology was an oral tradition carried by storytellers. Many of these stories were eventually written down by various people, but only after passing through an unknown number of generations of word-of-mouth. If you haven't before, reading about the Prose Edda is a pretty good example, where a 13th century Christian scholar collected and wrote down as many norse stories as he could.
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Bagne
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I mean, people discredit these religions because they're based off of stories that couldn't be true based on our general knowledge.

Many religious stories are alegorical. Literal interpretations of religious texts are not a prerequisite to religious belief.

Anyways, if your definition of religion includes pyramid schemes and internet memes, it might not be very useful for purposes of inter-religious comparison.

Quote:
And if you're going to discredit them because of their age, well then how can you discredit the really old religions like egyptian or norse for the exact opposite reason.

I'm not trying to discredit anything.
I'm pointing out that it is difficult to compare religions that lack a central text, and that newer religions tend to have more accurate records of their origins.


@James - I suppose I'm assuming that if a religion is a reflection of a divine truth, it has been revealed somehow. That is, the deepest secrets of the universe are not an every-day experience, and so access to this knowledge must be made possible somehow. Of the religions that I'm familiar with (i.e. the world religions) this is described as happening through a "prophet" - I'm not really aware of any other means by which this is believed to happen. Dreams maybe ...
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Moogle1
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bagne wrote:
@James - I suppose I'm assuming that if a religion is a reflection of a divine truth, it has been revealed somehow. That is, the deepest secrets of the universe are not an every-day experience, and so access to this knowledge must be made possible somehow. Of the religions that I'm familiar with (i.e. the world religions) this is described as happening through a "prophet" - I'm not really aware of any other means by which this is believed to happen. Dreams maybe ...


A prophet is merely an intermediary. You're ignoring the possibility that %god% appeared to the people firsthand and gave them instructions.
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Bagne
ALL YOUR NUDIBRANCH ARE BELONG TO GASTROPODA




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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah - I guess that's described in the Old Testament, isn't it?
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Camdog




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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bagne wrote:
1) All religions are strongly grounded in spiritual teachings. They entreat us to develop a strong moral character - virtues like compassion, selfless service, kindness, detachment from worldly affairs, forgiveness etc. Through obedience to their teachings, it is possible to undergo some form of positive transformation, "rebirth", or redemption.


I think this is true, but misleading, as each religion has its own definition of what a strong moral character is. For example, Scientology has a concept of 'fair game', which means that when someone is identified as an enemy of the church, it is fair to do anything (including physical harm) to the person in order to defend the church. I think many would take issue with that being moral, but this is what the church itself believes.

In other words, all religions are morally strong according to themselves, but that doesn't really mean anything.

Bagne wrote:
2) All religions teach that our existence is essentially spiritual. Our current physical form is a small stage in a grander scheme.


The afterlife isn't traditionally emphasized in Judaism, and beliefs vary from no afterlife to a christian-like heaven. Likewise, many Unitarian Universalists do not believe in a heaven, or an existence outside of the physical one.

Bange wrote:
3) All of the world religions anticipate a future coming of a prophet, each using a different name...


This is not true of (non-evangelical) Quakers, or (again) many Unitarian Universalists. Likewise, this is not true for many animist religions. Indeed, the idea of time being linear (rather than circular) was largely introduced by Abrahamic religions, and was a minority viewpoint before their spread.

Bagne wrote:
4) Many (and possibly all) associate this prophet's future arrival with an age of peace and enlightenment.


See the previous point. This only make sense if you believe time is linear.

Bagne wrote:
5) All the world religions all teach about one God, universal force, or entity that supersedes all thing


This is definitely not true. The Brahma of Hinduism may be the creator, but it definitely does not supersede the other gods. In fact, Brahma worship is rather rare among Hindus, and Brahma's power does not supersede that of Vishnu or Shiva.

Also, pantheist or monist religions, like Zen Buddhism, hold that everything is part of God. It may be possible to say that if everything is god, that god supersedes all things, but this is hardly like the Christian idea that there is a separate entity above all other things.

I think James' commonalities work, with the possible exception of "all religions add certainty to an otherwise unknowable future." After all, many Christians believe that God works in mysterious, unknowable ways. Similarly, Calvinists believe your place in the afterlife is predetermined by God, and you have no way of knowing where you'll end up until you die.
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Bob the Hamster
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Camdog wrote:
I think James' commonalities work, with the possible exception of "all religions add certainty to an otherwise unknowable future." After all, many Christians believe that God works in mysterious, unknowable ways. Similarly, Calvinists believe your place in the afterlife is predetermined by God, and you have no way of knowing where you'll end up until you die.


I think my argument works for those cases too. Saying that God works in mysterious ways reduced personal uncertainty by making the uncertainty of the future into God's problem, not my problem. And Calvinist determinism reduces uncertainty by denying that uncertainty even exists. (it is just certainty that we don't know yet)

@Bagne: what about divine truth gradually emerging from the moral experiences of a whole group of people?
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Bagne
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unitarians don't exactly hold a coherent religious belief, no?
From my conversations with Uniterians they are "decidedly undecided" when it comes to religion.
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Bob the Hamster
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bagne wrote:
Unitarians don't exactly hold a coherent religious belief, no?
From my conversations with Uniterians they are "decidedly undecided" when it comes to religion.


I have never had a conversation with a Unitarian before, but undecided isn't the same as incoherent.

Actually, now that I think of it, I did once decide to go to an Esperanto club meeting. I called up the organizer, who happened to also be the pastor of a unitarian church. I told him I was interested in coming to the meeting to practice my esperanto. He told me (in english) that JesusMohammedBuddahAllahGod and all the little children of the world would be delighted if I would join them for peace and harmony and understanding and the end of all war.

I decided to stay home and play videogames instead.
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Spoonweaver




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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
He told me (in english) that JesusMohammedBuddahAllahGod and all the little children of the world would be delighted...


I really dislike it when mohammad, buddha and/or jesus are refereed to as another form of "god".

I was taught that the holy spirit, jesus, and god where all the same thing and yet jesus was god's son. All of this "info" came from my teaches at Jesuit High School. They never really explained why they believed this, or even how that would make since. It was simply an almost rehearsed answer to the question, "If the ten commands tell us not to worship anything but god, why do we worship jesus?"
Of course, none of this explains the worship of Mary, or the saints, but whatever.
I have slight grudge against organized religion, having gone to catholic school for most of my life, so I'm sorry if some of my comments about how god is a lie seem aggressive or something.
I personally think that blind faith is dumb and holds humanity back from perhaps finding true answers.



Anyways, I think this has gotten a little off topic. We're trying to debate the existence of god not debunk religions.


Maybe there is a God. Maybe it's a huge old bald guy with white hair in a white robe, with or without a crown on his head. Maybe god is a girl.
Or, maybe it's an animal, like a bear or something. Perhaps it's a tree, or a bug. Maybe, it's 2 people. Maybe, all the gods of, all the religions, are in fact real.
My point is one should keep an open mind about these sort of things.
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Bob the Hamster
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spoonweaver wrote:
I really dislike it when mohammad, buddha and/or jesus are refereed to as another form of "god".


Ooh, that is a good one. When I was a kid, I was taught that Jesus and God were the same. Prayers could interchangeably be addressed to either one like you were talking to the same person. It was sorta like God-the-father is his name when he is in heaven, and Jesus is his name when he is visiting earth, but its cool if we still call him Jesus when he's gone back home because we are close like that. (and of course I was also taught about the father-son thing, but that was not mutually exclusive).

But that view is not held by all Christians. Many make the distinction between God and Jesus very clearly, even if they do believe Jesus is divine. In a some churches you are not supposed to pray to Jesus, only to God. In others you are specifically supposed to pray to the Holy Spirit. In others you pray to Mary, or to any number of saints. I have even seen cases in Christian funerals where something that sounds very much like a prayer is addressed to the recently deceased (I think with the idea that they will pass it on to the Higher authority, similar to when praying to saints)
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Bagne
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It never made any sense to me to think of an infinite, unknowable essence to package itself into a discrete physical form ... even if that physical form is Jesus.

I think it says somewhere that "The Father and I are one" ...
But I think somewhere else it says "God is greater than I" ... something along those lines. It makes sense to me if I think of this as meaning that he represents God, but isn't God himself.
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Spoonweaver




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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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