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God and religion
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Do you believe in God?
yes
65%
 65%  [ 30 ]
no
28%
 28%  [ 13 ]
a little
4%
 4%  [ 2 ]
not sure
2%
 2%  [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 46

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baypoint
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was wondering if this debate topic was going to lead to a doctrinal discussion....before diving into that, let me address the question of Jesus' death, with a simple statement that loving a person does not necessarily involve loving their every action. I love my children more than anything, even if I totally disapprove of some of the things they say, the way they steal Cokes from the fridge, or whatever. Jesus loved the world of mankind so much that he gave up his life, even if the entire world didn't understand what he was doing. A much bigger issue was at stake, but that's another whole discussion, built upon some of the points here:

Why there is so much suffering:

1) God is not to blame for all the suffering in the world, because he is not the ruler of this world. Of course, God is Almighty, but nowhere does the Bible say that either God or his Son, Jesus rule this world. Satan tried to tempt Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world, which would have been no temptation at all if they were not Satan's to offer. Jesus refusal does not deny Satan's authority over the world.(Matthew 4: 8,9) Instead, Jesus specifically referred to Satan as "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). The apostle John wrote "The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one." (1 John 5:19).
The qualities of this world don't reflect God's view, but Satan's.

2) "Time and unforeseen occurrence" (Ecclesiastes 9:11) - the "wrong place at the wrong time" principle, more prevalent without God as a protective ruler (related closely to that beautiful phrase Tgrrr's grandmother wrote).

3) Mankind has been imperfect and sinful ever since the events in the Garden of Eden. This takes quite a bit of explaining:
Suffering began when Satan led Adam and Eve into disobeying God. At that time, an important question was raised: not God's power, because even Satan knows God's unlimited power, but rather God's right to rule. Satan charged, through his statements to Eve, that God was a liar who withholds good from his subjects, and was a bad ruler, and mankind would be better off without God's rulership.
How would God respond? If your neighbor accused you publicly of being a bad parent, shooting the neighbor proves your power, but does nothing to disprove the accusation. Shooting your kids in retaliation proves you ARE a bad parent. So God wiping out Satan as a rebellious pain-in-the-neck would not have answered the accusation (which was quite public, as heaven is full of God's creatures, all looking on), nor would have wiping out Adam and Eve and starting over. Instead, the only way is answer that accusation is time, and plenty of it. By displaying that your way of parenting is producing healthy, well-adjusted children, you prove the neighbor wrong.
In this case, God answers Satan's challenge by letting man rule themselves, just as Adam and Eve said they wanted by rejecting God's sovereignty. How's it been working out, doing it man's way, instead of God's? The very fact this question comes up proves something is going horribly wrong. Man, using every conceivable kind of government possible, hasn't stopped war, cured mankind's worst illnesses, stopped death, or crime, or violence, or made us live forever (as though we'd want to, with the world as messed up as it is...).

So why has God let suffering go on so long? And why doesn't he prevent bad things from happening?

Let's go back to our parent illustration. Two things that the parent is not going to do: One, he won't try to stifle the neighbor (shooting him, lighting his house on fire, etc). Let time go by, and prove you're right, and the neighbor wrong. In our short little lives, it seems like forever that God has allowed bad things to happen. But the thousands of years that man has tried to rule himself, he's made some nice advances in science and technology, but no advances in solving injustice, poverty, crime, war, death. Rule without God is a failure.
Two, the parent won't make the case for the neighbor. If God were to prevent horrible crimes, for instance, wouldn't people think that maybe things are working out OK after all? Who needs God to command how we should live, if he's taking care of us perfectly fine anyway?

But what about all this hurt we're experiencing? God IS Almighty - he will reverse the effects of mankind's suffering. He will restore the Earth to its original Paradise state (his original purpose for mankind has never gone away, but some extra time, and some extra provisions, like the ransom of his Son, had to be thrown into the picture first...), death will be reversed by means of the resurrection. He's got a timetable, and these things as promised in the Bible will come about.

Yes, it's tough to live in this day and age. I haven't personally lived through CSA, or substance abuse, or terminal illness, but like every person on the planet, I too face a world of problems. Without some intervention soon from God, I'm facing death like everyone else. Now, I've got a hope from the Bible that I'm going to live forever, right here on Earth. We live in a very special time talked about in the Bible, and unfortunately, it's a real bad time (2 Timothy 3: 1-5), but it'll end soon.

And that's my conviction, flash-card style. It won't make the "woe-is-me, why can't God fix things now" crowd happy, but it's the way the Bible reads. I'm no happier than anyone else about how lousy things are, but I find having a long-term hope for the future helps tremendously with the day-to-day peace of mind. Knowing where you're going makes the journey that much easier.

And remember, I was only preaching because the question was put out there...I've been pretty conscientious about avoiding the Bible-thumping...(getting nervous about hitting that "Submit" button...)
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Roseless
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

okay... here we go. i didn't mean that as in God is to blame for these things. What i meant was that if he was there why isn't he showing that he's there and loves us when we ask for it....when we need it. I prayed a lot during the abuse. Never once was any of them answered. Not one. i didn't pray for strength or the ability to survive what was happening. i prayed that maybe just maybe i'd finally see that there was a God. during the whole time i prayed to find proof of God. not to make it through anything. In the back of my head i knew i'd live through it and that i'd be okay. so using that as comfort i prayed to see evidence of God. All my freinds are religious people. Once i prayed that i'd have the courage to stand up to him and tell... That did come true but not from me. It was forced by some other girl. She called it in they came and i told them.

i do not believe that everything happens for a reason. That is very dumb in my opinion. becuase basically their saying God makes bad things happen to good people for a good reason. Tell me, how in the hell can there be a good reason for someone to go through rape and all the terrible things that happen around the world? I dont see it. No one does because it's not there. No good comes of wars or stuff like that. Just more damaged people. More people being hurt by things that they didn't choose to have happen to them.

do you see many bad people have anything happen to them? shoplifters that don't get caught, rapists that are let off, murderers that r said to be innocent even when all the evidence points to them... it's just not something i think God would let happen if he was real or cared that much about us.

I'm sorry. i got a little steamed there for a second. I go on facts. I need evidence. If i think the evidence won't hold up then i disregard it and continue believing what i have been. i still don't believe in any of this. It seems like big lies in my opinion. maybe the bible is a creation of several very creative writers, maybe it's real. but we don't know do we? i still see now hard evidence of his existance. If someone was that powerful, why would you hide even in death? All men (and i mean the human race not just men) are greedy and materialistic.

If we have power in the world we use and probably sometimes abuse the power. Look all throughout history. People used and abused their powers. I do not believe that God wouldn't at least sometime do something so big to show off his power. he was human. as the bible says anyway. God made the earth... hello... big clue right there. He creates the earth and heavens but doesn't make even the slightest try to stop all of the horrible #*$# that is going on now? That just doesn't seem right. It seems like he'd try and show off how great he was by ridding the world of all evil. Even to me that sounds like something some comic book maker would say. i am not comparing the bible to a comic book it was just an example. I mean look at it. People with power do something big. But they always have to do something bigger. They just keep doing it until they think that they are never going to be beaten by anyone.

I think i went kinda overboard on that part. I'm sorry if i had offended anyone.

I do have to agree that God is not responsible for all the bad things that happen. Even though i just made that huge argument saying that it was.... my brain works in odd ways. what i'm saying is, men also have a trace of fear. Sometimes we dont know what to do with what has been handed to us. So maybe he just isn't sure of how he can handle something like this. i mean it's like when you get a brand new expensive car. you dont want anyone messing with it. no messing with the seats or the air conditioner or radio. only the driver. you want to dents, scratches, fingerprints... nothing. you're afraid to mess it up. but after a dent or two and a scratch, you just dont seem to worry about it anymore? why? because you realize that it isn't that big of a deal and you know how to handle a dent... maybe God just hasn't had a dent in his car yet. Doesn't know how to handle it...Maybe he just got a dent and doesn't know what to do about it... but all i know, his car sure doesn't look like a crushed soda pop can. it looks like a nice new car. Sleak and shiny and clean. not one flaw... oh sure, maybe a tiny scratch near the tire that is unnoticable but pretty new. But eventually a dent will appear and he'll have to deal with it... i hope that makes sense.

so i guess i kind of believe he's there but i for the most part i dont. as in the aspect of getting me out of my situation, ya i believe he may have pushed me in the right direction. but in helping me survive it, no. he wasn't there. so in ways i do believe in others i just do not. i'm like the leaning tower of Piza... still leaning towards not believing but nearly straight... hopefully i dont fall...
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just hold on tight
and let it all go away. - Melissa Etheridge, Mercy
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ivonne
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Baypoint,

I don't know what church you belong to but I would like to hear it's position on a few issues:

Where do they stand on the death penalty?
Where do they stand on Homosexuality?
Where do they stand on abuse?
What are the requirements for going to heaven?
Where do they stand on war in general?
Where do they stand on the war against "the axis of evil" in the middle east?

It's all well and good that you don't deny me life... it was never yours to take anyway... but by saying that you believe you are right (you're faith in your religion depends on you being right about that being the only true faith out there, as you said) you are telling me I am wrong. That I'll be denied entry in your heaven here on this earth. SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE ME IN YOUR OPINION?

I'm not joining, I don't believe in god nor do I believe in a heaven right here on earth. There's a song called what if God were one of us... It asks the quesion:
"If God had a face, what would it look like and would you like to see, if seeing meant that you would have to believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?"
My answer would be emphatically no. If God has a face it is in every mirror. It's either all of us or none of us. Not a select group, not just the believers. We are one human family.

Ivonne
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baypoint
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The list of questions you pose takes us out of the realm of this debate...None of the answers I could give will change your opinion of religion, will change your view on the existence of God, nor change your mind about the wholesome convictions of the vast majority of those of us who are religious (which isn't overly evident from the current results of this poll, but then again, the sample isn't very extensive).

You appear sensitive about someone taking a position that casts you in a negative light. In my position, it's a positive that I have found a faith I am absolutely convinced is right (and have expressed no negative views whatsoever about others in my arguments about my faith - not just because the rules of debating here refer to debating the opinion, not the person, but because seeing others in as positive a light as possible is the very reason I carry on my ministry in the first place). In your position, my conviction is seen as a castigation of all those who don't share my views.
Given the sensitivities of the this debate, I won't be baited into condemning the views or lifestyles of anyone. I'll just say that yes, we are one human family. I believe our hopes for the future apply to everyone.

Where does that leave you? I have every confidence that it leaves you as happy and contented as ever. This debate was never about what a particular religion says about anybody's actions - it was about belief in God, and the value of religion, in the face of all the horrible things members of this board have been through. My wife and I are convinced that our belief in God, expressed through our religious activities, is a valuable tool (but by no means the only one) to help give us an even keel through this emotionally trying time. The support I get here, and the value of the opinions I receive here, are in no way minimized by the fact that I seem to be the lone "YES" in this poll. It's been a welcome opportunity to verbalize my beliefs, but it won't go into areas that run counter to the reason we're all here in the first place.
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Tgrrr10
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There certainly are a lot of vaild words being spoken here. Finding a lot of things to think about. Rose, I agree with you, it is very hard to understand why bad things keep happening to people and why it seems "allowed" to keep happening. Long before I started facing my past I struggled with that very question. Mostly because I was watching bright, wise, wonderful, young children enduring suffering like I could never imagine. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I have to, if I thought that this world was one big discombobulated cluster f*uck for no reason, I think I'd go mad!!!! I may never learn the reasons for everyting, but considering how much we learn from life, sometimes things that happen are meant for someone else. Ever wonder why you met someone wonderful at a moment when you thought you'd lost all hope? I like to believe that all the good things happen for a reason, and with that I believe that the bad does too. Just look at all the things people have posted about the good things about being a survivor.

If you all haven't caught on, I'm a sucker for quotes, from books, songs, people in passing. They somehow put things into words in a way I can't seem to find. A few years ago for work we read a book entitled "Hannah's Gift: Lessons from a Life Fully Lived" by Maria Housden. It is a book written by a mother who lost her young child to a rare childhood cancer. It is a very powerful book, written from a very honest and emotional view point. Yes I have a personal interest in that subject, but this book delves into this very question of how "God" could let such awful things happen? Here is an excerpt/quote that has helped (like my Grandma's quote) me build a foundation for my spirituality.
"Faith is not about believing but about letting go of beliefs. Faith does not hope and pray for things to be different sometime in the future. Faith is the still heart that refuses nothing, our willingness to trust things as they are."

Just an FYI it is not a book on religion but a book on letting go and moving on after a loss, something I think many of us can relate to. Read it if you have a chance, helped me put things into perspective.

T
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ivonne
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi BP,

It seems fairly straight forward to me that if you are convinced you are right, than at some point you must be thinking I am wrong? Or am I postulating there and you think because I don't believe in God I am also right?

The heaven on earth you speak for, does it have unbelievers in it? Or is heaven just a place on earth, not the whole of the earth, like an enclave?

I ask because that experiment has been done before, Jamestown, the Davidians in Waco...

I believe it is dangerous to the believer to be so firmly convinced that they are right, to the exclusion or other viewpoints. You are telling me that this is the basis of your faith, without being convinced you are right, why be involved with your religion? I believe human beings, once convinced of their own right, dehumanize others. Sometimes this takes on grotesk forms, killing people because of beliefs. Sometimes it is more subtle than that. It's pity, or lack of respect. Sometimes it takes the form of disapproving of lifestyles.

If your faith had nothing to say other than we are one human family. I would probably join. Talking about hopes for the future allready triggers a lot of thought for me on how things might need to change.
I'm more with Tgrrr's quote on that:
"Faith does not hope and pray for things to be different sometime in the future. Faith is the still heart that refuses nothing"

I can do that without being convinced that there is a God or a higher power or anything like that. I do believe in heaven on earth: I'm there any time I can find that faith inside me. The faith that refuses nothing.

Ivonne
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kindofshad
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

YES I believe in God. But unfortunatly he gave us freewill, because he did not want us to be robots praising him. NO I don't belive in religion it is a man made concept.
I begged inside for mercy at the hands of my neighbor, God's mercy, but he said no. I have to assume that he meant for the act to happen and for me to survive it. That man said he would kill me if i told, he would kill my family and showed me his many guns and knives. It a was good old boy ritualistic rape. That cause my conflict with God. And when my father started doing it molesting me, oh boy I was done. But somehow I blocked this all out and all I wanted to do was go to God's kingdome as fast as I could, by killing myself. I tried at 11 years old many times, and more over the years. But he must not want me to go yet. He wanted me to survive. Become a survivor.
I tried to become an atheist for 2 weeks, but I was still telling him no, I'm not going to believe you anymore - didn't work. I saw the sun rise each morning differently beautiful. Call me a fool for thinking a ball of gasses is divine work, call me a fool when I see a newborn baby- a bunch of organized cells and DNA. Or see a piece of wood bear fruit to feed the masses.
I am that fool.
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ivonne
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think "God" missed the mark when he declared some things good. Like in Genesis: "and he saw that it was good"

Sun, baby's all of that is what it is. the beauty is in the beholder. Someone looked at your rapist when he was a baby and thought: "this is good". I wonder if they are still as convinced now.

If you had a chance to go back in time. Would you kill Hitler? What would that make you, a murderer or a savior? Who get's to decide that?

Good and bad are not for us to judge. I think the world is here to be experienced. If there has to be a goal, of which I am still not convinced, than the goal is experiencing life.

Ivonne
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kindofshad
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did anyone stop to think that maybe God didn't mean for things to perfect. Or good?
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Roseless
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, jeez... Kindofshad... i didn't think about that... maybe i need to think about this whole topic some more...
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