Why are we supposed to obey a god, any way?
Posted: 24 December 2004 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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In the Dec/Jan 2005 issue of Free Inquiry magazine, someone named Guy P. Harrison in an essay titled "Where Are the Moral Believers? asks,

Lucifer exists, say hundreds of millions of Christians around the world. But he is evil, so they reject him as a supernatural being worthy of worship. They do not pray to him for help in landing a new job or overcoming an illness, and they do not follow his instructions. Because of moral failings, this god of sorts is denied their love and obedience. But why do they only judge the devil? Why don’t believers scrutinize all gods in this way?

Very good questions. For a long time now I have questioned why we are supposed to do what a god says, apart from prudential considerations like avoiding getting zapped by it for disobedience. In the real world, of course, nobody ever gets rewarded or punished by gods, though religionists' belief that a god will do something (usually mean) to them in the afterlife often motivates them to do plenty of stupid things to improve their expected outcomes. If we could convince religious believers to treat their gods the way people believe in ghosts, they would continue to believe in their gods' existence but not feel the need to do what they think their gods command.

I can see it now: A show on the SciFi Channel called "God Hunters," where amateur parapsychologists go to places like long-abandoned churches to look for evidence of divine activity.

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Posted: 24 December 2004 07:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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[quote author=“advancedatheist”]In the Dec/Jan 2005 issue of Free Inquiry magazine, someone named Guy P. Harrison in an essay titled “Where Are the Moral Believers? asks,

Lucifer exists, say hundreds of millions of Christians around the world. But he is evil, so they reject him as a supernatural being worthy of worship. They do not pray to him for help in landing a new job or overcoming an illness, and they do not follow his instructions. Because of moral failings, this god of sorts is denied their love and obedience. But why do they only judge the devil? Why don’t believers scrutinize all gods in this way?

I have always wondered why an omniscient, omnipotent being required being worshipped in the first place. Does he have some sort of inferiority complex that causes him to create beings just to worship him?

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Posted: 26 December 2004 02:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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To answer your question:

From what I’ve heard x-tians say…it’s because He (?) is our creator, therefore He can do whatever he wants to us.

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Posted: 26 December 2004 03:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“child”]To answer your question:

From what I’ve heard x-tians say…it’s because He (?) is our creator, therefore He can do whatever he wants to us.

Which strikes me as a non sequitur.

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Posted: 26 December 2004 03:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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:idea: Write it.Go for it.“God Hunters”
        A book,movie would be a basis for a wake up call. :wink:
        learner

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Posted: 27 December 2004 04:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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a “believer” applies human attributes to their “god” or “gods”, such as emotions - also, the “believer” reads historical (such as the bible) to interpret “god” or “gods” wants or desires - then the believer behaves in some way that they think they are encouraging “god” or “gods” to provide an “umbrella of protection” over themselves and their surroundings

a NORMAL PERSON studies and learns as much as they can, about existence itself (sciences, arts, etc.), to more accurately predict the future and, thereby, avoid “bad things” from happening to them and those around them

Ben Franklin did exactly that - rather than enter a religious profession, he determined to learn about existence itself - his establishment of electricity as being the same in lightning as in static charges has changed our world for the better - had he chosen the religious path, people would have continued to believe that some “god” was responsible for destroying their homes for their wickedness, rather than installing lightning rods to protect themselves, like NORMAL PEOPLE do today

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Posted: 27 December 2004 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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My two spiritual bits:

The Old Testament Yahweh could be thought of as Middle Eastern Deity 2.0

The model for this character came from Zoroastrianism (Joseph Campbell addresses this issue).  Judaism was unique in that it was the first religion that forbade other forms of worship—before the rise of the Hebrews, it was not unusual for conquering tribes to demand tribute to their god, but the vanquished peoples could keep their native gods as well. 

Freud speculated that Yahweh was actually a Midianite Volcano deity (google that theme and rock on) and that Moses may have been at least two different people.  “True Believers” or fundamentalists are often averse to inquiring about rudimentary aspects of their belief systems, the histories, etc.  It ends conversation to talk about what religion (or a particular religion) is composed of.  Questions, questions, questions!  Nettlesome questions!

The monotheistic religions of the Middle East keep (in my opinion) their believers in a dependent, childish state.  Jung said that religion existed as a protection against a direct experience of god—if you are not ready to experience a spiritual (or even material) epiphany, the angels will appear as monsters.  Campbell spoke of how in the Garden of Eden Man/Woman is cast out, and the way back is guarded by cherubim with spinning, flaming swords, barring the way to “total consciousness” or “bliss”.  In the eastern tradition of Buddhism one will encounter shrines where great monsters stand at the gate to the garden, but inside Buddha lifts his hand gently, indicating that the path is open to all: “Come in (to enlightenment or total consciousness), the monsters are but your own fears.  “

For sheer spiritual totality, I like Spinoza, who posited that there is no “outside to God’s skin” meaning, simply, there is no such thing as “not-god.”  Everything is this thing called “god.”  Pantheism!  For me, it means that everything in the Universe is of the Universe, so everthing in the Universe is also the Universe.  Confused?  Bored?  Can the Mystery of Being be that simple?  I have no earthly idea, but I like the sound of it.

All for now.

+++

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Posted: 01 January 2005 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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If I were God and in charge of the universe, the last thing I would care about is whether human beings obeyed me, worshipped me or believed in me. The idea is beyond the absurd.

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Posted: 01 January 2005 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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nancynany wrote

If I were God and in charge of the universe, the last thing I would care about is whether human beings obeyed me, worshipped me or believed in me. The idea is beyond the absurd.

I think the real test for any person is the willingness to be a good person without having been told/threatened to.  One is in a pitiful state indeed if that person requires a book to tell them if they are behaving in a responsible and compassionate way. Humans get far too little credit for thier capacity for good. News channels don’t help.

Oct. 8, 2004. 06:29 AM

On Flight 792, a miracle at 35,000 feet
It began with one selfish act of theft
It ended with a random act of kindness

SCOTT SIMMIE
STAFF REPORTER

Air Canada Flight 792, from Toronto to Los Angeles, brought out the worst in someone Wednesday night.

And the best in others.

Soon after the jet reached cruising altitude, the flight attendants came around with drinks. As usual, it was $4 U.S. or $5 Canadian for a drink with alcohol. What was unusual, however, was that the money the flight attendant had been collecting in two small change purses had disappeared. Vanished, while she was temporarily away from the cart.

No one else on board knew what had happened, except the person who apparently had stolen them. But something seemed unusual when the flight attendants passed down the aisle, briefly opening every overhead bin and peering inside.

Then the public address system came on and the employee who had been dispensing drinks, and is personally responsible for that money, came on and said words pretty close to this: “The small purses containing the receipts from the in-flight service have gone missing. If passengers would please take a look around their seats, I’d really appreciate it. I’m a single mother and I’m responsible for that money.”

People stopped watching the movie and started scouring the floor. Former prime minister Kim Campbell, seated in executive class, checked around. Another first-classer, who looked an awful lot like Kids in the Hall’s Kevin McDonald (it might not have been him — it was dark), scanned the floor.

No stray purses. No money.

As the flight progressed, passengers kept asking the flight attendant if anything had turned up. Nothing had. She was going to be out $200 — or more.

Then a couple, who had been happily nuzzling in row 16, had an idea. They told the flight attendant they wanted to collect a few bucks from each passenger so the money wouldn’t come out of her own pocket.

“Please, don’t,” she said, on the verge of tears. “That’s so nice of you, but I just couldn’t — you shouldn’t — “

They did.

“Hey, people,” they shouted through the craft. “The flight attendant hasn’t found that money and we’d like to take up a collection. If you can contribute anything, it would be great.”

And then, like a miracle at 35,000 feet, the money started to float in. Some sent fivers, but there were twenties, too. Even a $50 bill came forward (or back — it appeared to come from the executive class section). For the record, it seemed from a distance that Kim Campbell had also chipped in.

The nice folks in row 16 handed the woman a thick wad of bills. The flight attendant was in tears. “If there’s anything extra, just give it to your favourite charity,” they said.

As the flaps extended and the jet slowed for its approach to Pearson, the flight attendant picked up the mike. Someone in row 17 picked up a pen.

“I’m a bit close to tears at this point,” she said, her voice breaking. “I cannot express my gratitude for your kindness. I wish I could send each and every one of you a simple thank-you. It’s an amazing thing to see so much spirit among so many of you. I’m totally overwhelmed by the whole thing,” she said, pausing to catch her voice.

“My best wishes to all of you, always.”

And then Air Canada 792 — just another flight from Los Angeles to Toronto — lined up with the runway

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Posted: 02 January 2005 04:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Paul, You are absolutely correct. Of course, we do not need God to know that it’s important to treat others with kindness, compassion, and fairness—we all learn that from our parents and teachers when we are young children. As adults we are supposed to have internalized these lessons long ago.

But it’s always amazed me when people claim God wants us to pray or believe in Him. Do you imagine the Creator of the universe has a self concept so fragile He requires human beings to worship Him. The idea is preposterous.

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Posted: 02 January 2005 05:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“nancynancy”]Paul, You are absolutely correct. Of course, we do not need God to know that it’s important to treat others with kindness, compassion, and fairness—we all learn that from our parents and teachers when we are young children. As adults we are supposed to have internalized these lessons long ago.

But it’s always amazed me when people claim God wants us to pray or believe in Him. Do you imagine the Creator of the universe has a self concept so fragile He requires human beings to worship Him. The idea is preposterous.

I have always found the notion that one has to believe that Christ is God to attain a seat in heaven ridiculous. First of all we should not be concerned with an afterlife, even if their is one, we should be concerned with here and now. I think much of the problem lies in the human minds ability to grasp concepts and I believe Frank Armstrong is absolutely correct when he agrees with Spinoza. If one looks at God as the totality of all existence as did Spinoza and Thomas Hobbes, then things become much more simple as a simple way of discerning the truth is to replace the term God with the term nature and if the statement is still true then it is a true statement.

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