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Communion with God
Posted: 24 December 2004 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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The existence of God is a necessity for the human mind. As we are inadequate and can never realize the dream of perfection that we so vividly imagine we, as individual organisms, need to feel that there is something greater than the reality within which we live. There are several ways to conceptualize God, one of which happens to be the current Christian evangelic concept of God as the patriarch. Jesus of Nazareth tried to free Western humanity from this concept of God as Dad but evangelic Christians still do not get it. God may be conceptualized in a number of ways and it is very likely that individual members of the human race have an evolution in their thinking of the reality of God. To understand God one must pass beyond the belief that God sits on a throne in heaven and judges his children as the patriarch of the tribe once did.

All we know is that which we have experienced in our journey through life. We know of nothing in existence that would be considered supernatural or outside of nature. We need to stop thinking of things which are outside of nature because they are only fantasies with no existence in reality.

Evangelic Christianity misses the point entirely with it's emphasis on life in death. Christ words to us speak of heaven on Earth not of heaven removed from nature. Christ was trying to awaken within us a different way of looking at our existence. In nature all things are perfect but they may not seem so to us because they may not exist as we wish them to exist.

If we allow the perfection of nature to be seen by our individual mind/will/soul/spirit then we can feel eternity and experience a oneness with God. An individual who experiences a feeling of oneness with God feels a oneness with nature and has experienced what people throughout history have termed a mystical experience.

In every culture there is a set of symbols commonly called words with which individual members communicate with each other. Mystical experience of God can not be put into words and yet those that experience communion with God will attempt to communicate their experience because it seems God commissions those who have communed to share their experience with others. The individual experiences so much peace, relief and intuitive enlightenment in this mystical communal experience of feeling the presence of God that the feeling that demands sharing. But there is a problem, this communion is difficult to describe.

A culture or society will describe such an experience in a unique individual way that invariably over time will cause the description to incorporate the tribal or societal reality into the description. Over time these descriptions become established religions. Religion becomes not just a seeking after God but a set of rules to bind the society to the vision of the religious leaders. At this point dogma takes over and tradition is built. Every step of the way in the evolution of a religion more and more of the initial communion with God is lost and rote ritual takes its place. Any religion becomes valuable again if the dogma, which is really just an attempt at explaining communion with God, is thrown out and the religious texts are looked at metaphorically.

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Posted: 24 December 2004 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Lawrence,

Just to keep you honest in your emphasis of certain strains of the Biblical text, where do you get this:

Jesus of Nazareth tried to free Western humanity from this concept of God as Dad but evangelic Christians still do not get it

Did not Jesus say “Abba, Father” and instruct us to pray “Our Father who art in Heaven”?

Furthermore, you said:

We need to stop thinking of things which are outside of nature because they are only fantasies with no existence in reality.

Exactly why do you feel confident in positing that assertion?  Some would say that your materialistic presuppostions are showing.  Certainly you don’t mean that whatever we can’t measure in the material realm with material tools is not real?

Lastly, you noted that:

Over time these descriptions become established religions. Religion becomes not just a seeking after God but a set of rules to bind the society to the vision of the religious leaders.

Is this inevitable, just the way we are going to be as humans?  Are we simply riding a wheel of fortune and here we are yet again?  What can we do NOW to prevent this pattern from perpetuating?  Anything?

I ask these questions, not merely to nitpick, but to police your rhetoric and to prompt you to help us formulate explicit directives for moving beyond the epistemic terrorism of religious types toward a new vista in human history.

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Posted: 25 December 2004 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Lawrence, your post seems to reflect some of my feelings on how the evangelicals twist the meaning of what Jesus said and I believe have actually made a fetish out of him.  If you look at any country, culture, peoples through history, man seems to be intrinsically spiritual by nature. There seems to be a belief in some “thing”, whatever that is. The problem is that human language cannot fully explain what that something is, words can only point the way. There is a Buddhist saying that words are like fingers pointing to the moon, if we get to concerned with the fingers we miss the moon. It’s surprsing to me that people don’t seem to understand that they don’t pick the family, country, culture etc that they happen to be born into. I could have easily been born into a Chinese family as I was into an American one. I would assume I would be speaking chinese and observing their customs if I was. To me, different religions are like different paths to the top of the mountain. If people didn’t get so attached to the words and doctrines of whatever religion they are following we wouldn’t have so many problems with fundamentalism, be it Christian, Muslim, or pick one.
  The mystical experience you speak of is exactly what I think Jesus was talking about. Enlightened teachers are usually misunderstood.

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Posted: 26 December 2004 12:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Lawrence,

I, and many others, have not the slightest need for the belief—delusion—of the existence of some god we are perfectly comfortable,content, and happy within the reality of this wonderful Life.

I agree with you that inadequacy, fear, and ignorance are the driving forces that perpetuates the existence-myths of god (s).

Plexus

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Posted: 26 December 2004 01:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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evangelicals twist the meaning

Every religion twists the meaning and comes up with fairiy tales for people to hang their beliefs on. And then they call it god.

It is quite enough for many of us to simply believe in Nature and its facts (some of which are not and will never be fully understood) and not add the encrustations that lead to murder, torture, and rape by those believing their fairy tale is more true than somebody else’s fairy tale. Which includes many instances in the history of Christianity, as well as of every other religion the world has ever known.

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Posted: 27 December 2004 04:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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The existence of God is a necessity for the human mind. by Lawrence

I disagree with this very first sentence.  Therefore, if that is your premise for the rest of your post, Lawrence, then I cannot read further (and I really only skimmed the rest of it)

The many people who are animists (believers in plural “gods”) are only one testimony to the error of your statement, i.e., “gods” rather than “God”.

Nevertheless, if belief in a “god” as you described, implies belief that this “god” made all material around us, then, instead of studying a bible, why wouldn’t all “believers” study sciences, such as chemistry or physics, to learn more about “god”?  No, “believers” instead turn away from studying science, choosing rather to use up enourmous amounts of their valuable time on this planet reading and interpreting a bible

want to learn more about “god”?, or “become more one with god”? - then study the sciences and the arts - that is where to really find “god” and become “one” with it - that is the NORMAL thing to do - not continue to read and re-read the bible, whatever version or language you choose to read

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Posted: 27 December 2004 04:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Oops!!

sorry, Lawrence, your first sentence really threw me off - after I posted my previous reply and then re-read your message, it seems that you are actually agreeing that we need to appreciate nature and avoid a “belief” in a “supernatural entity” (or as you call it: something outside nature) - is that correct?

I think that a belief in a general law that ties everything in existence together (like Einstein tried to come up with, and that String Theory attempts to address), is elegant and a worthy goal - one may want to name that “theory” or “law” as “god”

evangelicals, however, are all over the map in their interpretations of what “god” wants or desires from themselves or from humanity - for example, see Joyce Meyers, Creflo/Taffi Dollar, and Ken/Gloria Copeland, who all preach that being a “true believer” will enrich you, and that accumulation of wealth is a worthy and scripturally correct goal (I call it avarice)

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Posted: 27 December 2004 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I have no problem with somebody calling the force that caused the existence of the universe god. Just don’t let them tell me that this force has a special interest in human affairs, or that it will listen to prayers, will punish people who sin, and reward people who repent or who blow up infidels.

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Posted: 27 December 2004 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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[quote author=“lawrence”]The existence of God is a necessity for the human mind.

A large and growing number of human minds seem perfectly comfortable without a belief in gods. An editorial that just came out in The Daily Telegraph whines about the dramatic growth of nonbelief in the UK over the last generation:

Losing our religion

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Posted: 27 December 2004 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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I have no problem with somebody calling the force that caused the existence of the universe god. Just don’t let them tell me that this force has a special interest in human affairs, or that it will listen to prayers, will punish people who sin, and reward people who repent or who blow up infidels. by Beth Kurtz

amen, Beth!

that is a very succinct expression of my “belief” in “god” as well

just as the people who sadly lost their lives in the tsunamis these past few days as a result of lack of preparation for this type of eventuality, humanity or mankind must prepare for any similar natural disaster, not by prayer as the 700 club would like everyone to believe, of course, but rather by educating ourselves and acting accordingly - we must all work together to address natural disasters and pestilence that threaten our existence, rather than waste our time listening to preachers about how to “be good” - it is quite unfortunate that those of us who actually work for the betterment of mankind in positive, lasting ways, have to deal with the preachers of our day who simply use up valuable resources and time

I listen and watch preacher-programs very frequently, as both a form of entertainment and as a reinforcement of my “beliefs” - those preachers who “help” others, like the “food for children” guy and robison’s similar program, appear to help people in a positive, lasting way, by feeding them, providing shelter, or digging wells, which I certainly favor - however, they seem to insist on teaching “the word of god” to those they otherwise help, in addition to providing the true help they need - that preaching is what I disagree with and provides seeds of what Sam Harris seems to refer to as the eventual dischord in the world that leads to strife and war - why can’t we provide true help to the less fortunate of this world, without the unnecessary preaching? - maybe this world needs to consider new laws forbidding this preaching when real human needs must first be met?

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Posted: 28 December 2004 12:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Couldn’t agree more. smile

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Posted: 28 December 2004 04:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[quote author=“advancedatheist”][quote author=“lawrence”]The existence of God is a necessity for the human mind.

A large and growing number of human minds seem perfectly comfortable without a belief in gods. An editorial that just came out in The Daily Telegraph whines about the dramatic growth of nonbelief in the UK over the last generation:

Losing our religion

“As our poll shows, most unbelievers are not dogmatic in their unbelief. We are becoming a nation of shoulder-shrugging agnostics who, instead of thinking systematically about religion, react to tragedy by improvising rituals with the nearest objects to hand, such as flowers or teddy bears.”

This quote is directly from ‘Losing Our Religion’ the article you pointed out to me.

As graphic imagery has taken over our lives in the form of advertising many humans have lost the ability to imagine anything other than what we see in our everyday lives. If you are good with the physical world being as it no if, ands or buts I applaud you.

Most humans, of which I am one, seem to want to find something in this life that comforts the mind and soothes it when tragedy strikes. American culture has a least 30 million individuals on serotonin uptake inhibitors. This may be an acceptable way to live in our culture but there is something that is really wrong with this many individuals needing these drugs.

There is a large number of individuals that will always need something more powerful than themselves to give them control over their own lives especially after these drugs have messed them up for years. Frankly I prefer them to pray to God as opposed to being legally or illegally inebriated.

One thing is for sure, you will not win many religious individuals with any conceptualization of reality that lacks some form of a higher power which humans throughout history across cultures have called God.

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Posted: 28 December 2004 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“Beth Kurtz”]I have no problem with somebody calling the force that caused the existence of the universe god. Just don’t let them tell me that this force has a special interest in human affairs, or that it will listen to prayers, will punish people who sin, and reward people who repent or who blow up infidels.

I do not believe God cares about human affairs. This concept of God as the patriarch watching over his children is incorrect. If this patriarchal God cared about humanity then he would bring humanity the wisdom, as well as the means, to treat all human life and for that matter all life with dignity and respect.

I believe that the exercise of prayer does work in that it helps to heal the psyche of an individual that has been wounded. When the psyche is healed then, almost miraculously, the body heals. But it doesn’t matter what concept of God you have for this to work. Obviously this does not mean that broken bones will be set or severed limbs will be restored but it does mean that people that have hope and believe their wounds can and will be healed often recover. Prayer as an exercise of hope is helpful.

People who commit what is commonly termed ‘sin’ will be punished for their ‘sins’. I prefer to call this corruption. The way I define corruption is something that an individual does that hurts that individual in either body or mind or both. There are certain things that are good for people and there are certain things that are bad for people just as there are certain things that are good for dogs as there is certain things that are bad for dogs. Our corruption is in knowing what is good for us as individuals and yet turning away from that which is best for us. Many times what seems to be the more difficult path to follow, involving reassessing our lives for example, turns out to be the path that causes the greatest mental growth.

People who repent from corruption are rewarded with fuller, richer lives.

The people that believe it is right to blow up infidels have a concept of a patriarchal God, the head of the tribe, the leader of the people. If you do not belong to the tribe you are an alien, you are ‘other’. This is a concept of reality that works to bind the tribe. Judaism and Islam all grew up out of a desert region, the Middle East, in which resources were periodically in short supply. Christ attempted to be all inclusive but evangelists have a concept of God more along the lines of the Hebrew God.

Fanatics that blow up people may use their concept of God as an excuse for their violence but this behavior is more tribal or cultural than religious.

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Posted: 28 December 2004 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“plexus”]Lawrence,

I, and many others, have not the slightest need for the belief—delusion—of the existence of some god: we are perfectly comfortable,content, and happy within the reality of this wonderful Life.

I agree with you that inadequacy, fear, and ignorance are the driving forces that perpetuates the existence-myths of god (s).

Plexus

Humans are inherently curious and as they think about the Earth upon which they live they come up naturally with the concept of God. Anyone who watches life on Earth realizes that life is created. If life is created so must inanimate matter as well be created. And then you come to the chicken and the egg. Which came first the chicken, the egg or God. Nearly everyone will conclude that something created chickens which laid eggs or eggs which became chickens. Therefore God is the motivating force of the universe, the Creator.

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Posted: 28 December 2004 05:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Lawrence,

I am sorry for continuing to take you task, but several elements of your last post need clarification.  I see what appear to be a bunch of non sequitors here:

Anyone who watches life on Earth realizes that life is created

Is that all life or just the life we see come and go on this planet?  You didn’t capitalize life, so I assume you meant the daily stuff we see.  I doesn’t follow that Life must have a beginning.  I don’t know that “anyone who watches” will conclude what you insist they must.

If life is created so must inanimate matter as well be created.

I don’t see how this follows at all.  What does the creation of life (if such be the case) have to do with the creation of inanimate matter?

Therefore God is the motivating force of the universe, the Creator.

I don’t see how this explains anything or even follows.  All you have said is that life springs and springs again, therefore something incomprehensible accounts for it.

Have I missed something like an explanation here?

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Posted: 29 December 2004 01:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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As the old guy once said: “Religion is the opiate of the people.” Go ahead and choose your comforter—opium, alcohol, eiderdown, or god, it’s all the same thing, and relatively harmless.

But we are faced with a huge population who believe that their comforter is the only possible comforter, that everyone who does not believe in this comforter should be killed, and that the act of killing results in the ultimate comfort, a place in paradise for oneself and all one’s family.

We all are on the hit list.

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