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View Poll Results: Are you religious?
Religious 58 44.62%
Atheist 32 24.62%
Agnostic 40 30.77%
Voters: 130. You may not vote on this poll

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      10-19-2009, 04:48 PM   #1
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Religion

Are you religious or believe in a higher being? If so, why and what grounds do you base your beliefs?

I've gone to Catholic school for about eleven years and I consider myself agnostic. I'm very open to the fact that God or a higher being of some sort exists, but I am also open to the fact that nothing may be out there. Looking at the evidence of both sides is a good way to look at it, but I cannot choose a side since neither side is provable from a scientific standpoint. There's exceptional evidence on both sides, but you can argue them forever and ever since no argument is conclusive. For example, one can easily argue that nothing in this world is pure coincidence and that some sort of higher being created all of the symmetry and beauty in the world, but others can argue that it was nothing more than chance and science just going about naturally. But then you begin to wonder...who or what started everything? Was there an initial point where everything came into existence?
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      10-19-2009, 05:33 PM   #2
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Faith is not something that can be explained unless you have time to live my entire life experiences. DESPITE my scientific background and logical thinking, Jesus is my savior and the only way to everlasting life for me.
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      10-19-2009, 07:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by UncleWede View Post
Faith is not something that can be explained unless you have time to live my entire life experiences. DESPITE my scientific background and logical thinking, Jesus is my savior and the only way to everlasting life for me.
Do you believe in Noah's Ark, talking snakes, etc?
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      10-19-2009, 08:01 PM   #4
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I believe in a spiritual world, but not a Judeo-Christian God of any sort. So I'm not sure what I'd classify that as.
I concur -- I think more appropriate than religious (or at least in addition to) would be spiritual.

Religious to me implies not only a belief in a higher power, but also adherence to the particular tenets of that religion, whereas spiritual implies belief in a higher power, but without the requirement of the non-higher-power conditions.
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      10-20-2009, 11:55 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by MrRoboto View Post
Do you believe in Noah's Ark, talking snakes, etc?
The ark and destruction of the surface of earth by a massive flood - absolutely. Too many parallels in non-christian stories.


What, you've never "communicated" with an animal? They didn't tell me God just wants you to not have the same power as He does, but. . .


Many of the stories should be considered parables.
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      10-20-2009, 12:05 PM   #6
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I believe in God.

I was born and raised/confirmed Catholic. As soon as I left for college I left church behind. I wouldn't say I left God behind, but I didn't think in a faith-based way at all. I had never had a choice in the matter before and at chose to use my college years as deciding what I believed and didn't believe.

It wasn't until my life sort of spirled downward and I wound up extremely depressed that I began looking for faith again. I even denounced my belief in God during this time. It took a long time to truly believe again.

It was a completely other goal in getting myself back in to a church. I didn't like the way Catholic church is, and wanted to enjoy going to church. Not be bored out of my mind. I now attend a Methodist church.

My dad told me a few years ago when I was talking to him about making the decision to that he only went to church on holidays up until I was a few years old. Apparently, my mom was talking to me to church and I said "Why do I have to go to church and dad doesn't?" I threw him under the bus.

This thread has started out pretty well. I hope it stays that way.
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      10-20-2009, 12:19 PM   #7
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The biggest problem with today's Cahtolic churches are the fact that they are run by humans, men with ambitions, and that just screws it up something fierce. The bible provided a framework for me to establish my own personal relationship with Jesus.

There is no way that Jesus would want me to live alone because my first wife broke her vows of fidelity. There is no way that my son was the result of a night of sin with my current wife, nor that I should be shunned because I married her outside the church. The love and fidelity I show her are a blessing from God. The foregiveness I showed my first wife are a blessing from God. I ain't that special without the holy spirit and Jesus to carry my when I falter.
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      10-20-2009, 12:43 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by UncleWede View Post
The ark and destruction of the surface of earth by a massive flood - absolutely. Too many parallels in non-christian stories.


What, you've never "communicated" with an animal? They didn't tell me God just wants you to not have the same power as He does, but. . .


Many of the stories should be considered parables.

Were Adam and Eve the first humans to inhabit the earth? When?
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      10-20-2009, 01:07 PM   #9
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Were Adam and Eve the first humans to inhabit the earth? When?
Apparently if you go backwards with the begats and so on and so forth with some LONG lifespans then Adam was born around 3882 BC - so about 6K years ago.

Humans have been around for at least 30K years according to the fossil record.
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      10-20-2009, 02:12 PM   #10
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Apparently if you go backwards with the begats and so on and so forth with some LONG lifespans then Adam was born around 3882 BC - so about 6K years ago.

Humans have been around for at least 30K years according to the fossil record.
That's the point thanks.
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      10-20-2009, 02:22 PM   #11
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That's the point thanks.
I think UncleWede pointed out, however, that many of the stories are parables -- they teach good lessons, even if they aren't meant to be taken literally.
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      10-20-2009, 02:32 PM   #12
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Even as a Christian, I think everyone should take the Bible with a grain of salt. In fact, all religious documents should be taken with a grain of salt, because ultimately they were all written by men, and men have a tendency to misinterpret things (whether intentionally or not). The most important thing is to have an individual, personal connection to God. It's is a personal thing, I think, and you don't necessarily have to belong to a church (or Mosque or Synagogue) to know God.

And why do atheists always feel the need to bash on religion? It's not like science is infallible. Don't forget that science still can't explain why 80% of the universe is missing.
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      10-20-2009, 02:53 PM   #13
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I believe that their is something greater then humans. Humanity is extremely flawed. We have thousands of species on just this one little planet. So whether its on another planet or outside of our universe, I believe that their must be something greater.

The complexities of earths ecosystem and the unexplained gaps in our understanding of earths development lead me to believe that something higher is responsible.

The problem I have with higher powers, is that they are absent from earth. Parents are responsible for their children's actions, and if a higher power created us, they it should be responsible for the evils that humans commit on themselves and the planet. All the religious people that claims that some spiritual force is present in their hearts is just ludicrous. That spiritual force doesn't feed the starving children or stop the torturing raping baby killers. Its just a selfish need by many religious people to feel like they are protected. The Jesus in the heart thing is psychology, not religion.

My background in religion is a masters degree. I spent 5 years in a monastery and went to college at a seminary. Religion is my area of expertise. Yes there is greater things then humanity out there, no they arent currently interacting with us. Their is only one species on earth that has created religions which of course is humans. We created hundred of thousands of gods, all claiming that we are the special chosen primates of these higher powers. Thousands of years ago we developed a few percentage different in our brains that allow for complex speech and abstract thought. Religion came from that abstract thought. All human invented religions are incorrect obviously, especially since they all rely on invisible faith.

Hopefully in life, or probably only in death, the mysterious of life will be revealed. Ultimately, the greatest human minds have determined that love and peace is the better path. So thats what we should strive for, love and peace. What communion you take, or the specific religious books you read wont make a difference. Love your neighbor as yourself and you should be fine. Or we will simply die and disappear forever, who knows.
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      10-20-2009, 03:20 PM   #14
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And why do atheists always feel the need to bash on religion? It's not like science is infallible. Don't forget that science still can't explain why 80% of the universe is missing.
I think atheists bash religion because it hasn't increased our understanding of the world the way science has.
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      10-20-2009, 03:33 PM   #15
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I think atheists bash religion because it hasn't increased our understanding of the world the way science has.
I think the hardcore atheists, the ones who actively bash other religious or spiritual people, are technically religious themselves. They have their own dogma and tenets, they just don't happen to have a higher power to believe in. I also find their hatred of the religious/spiritual to be just as offensive as those who are super-religious and insist that only their way is right.
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      10-20-2009, 04:37 PM   #16
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Agnostic is literally "without knowledge". You don't know for certain, or, some would say, think something is unknowable. ALMOST EVERYONE, atheist and theist, falls into this catagory.

Agnosticism is compatible with both theism and atheism. A person can believe in a god (theism) without claiming to know for sure if that god exists; the result is agnostic theism. On the other hand, a person can disbelieve in gods (atheism) without claiming to know for sure that no gods can or do exist; the result is agnostic atheism. A gnostic theist/atheist is someone who claims to know for certain god(s) do/don't exist.


1. Agnostic-Atheist: does not believe any god exists, but doesn't claim to know whether this is actually true
2. Gnostic-Atheist : believes that no god exists and claims to know that this belief is true
3. Agnostic-Theist: believes a god exists, but doesn't claim to know that this belief is true
4. Gnostic-Theist: believes a god exists and claims to know that this belief is true

Please note that often, the gnostics of both positions often have to do with practical considerations. e.g. the gnostic atheist can claim to know gods don't exist with the same kind of certainty he knows pegasus's don't exist (they might somewhere, but we shouldn't consider it a practical possibility). Conversely, a gnostic theist may claim to "know" gods exist in the same way they "know" who their birth mother is. Maybe they're adopted, but there's no reason to think so.

Many people who label themselves "agnostic" do so to avoid the social stigma of atheism, even though they hold no belief in gods and are therefore atheist (literally, "without theism"). I even fell into this catagory until a few years ago. Now, I recognize I'm an atheist because I don't believe in any of it. I'm an agnostic atheist though. If I saw convincing evidence, my position could change.

If you believe in gods, even if that belief isn't 100% certain, or the gods you believe in don't fall into an established religion (ie, something you made up), you're a theist. Otherwise, you're an atheist. If you simply don't know/don't care, you by default don't hold any belief in gods and are an atheist.

Question: For those that say "I'm not religious- I'm spiritual". What exactly do you mean? How did you arrive at that belief?

Last edited by carve; 10-20-2009 at 10:11 PM.
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      10-20-2009, 05:45 PM   #17
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Looking at the evidence of both sides is a good way to look at it, but I cannot choose a side since neither side is provable from a scientific standpoint. There's exceptional evidence on both sides, but you can argue them forever and ever since no argument is conclusive. For example, one can easily argue that nothing in this world is pure coincidence and that some sort of higher being created all of the symmetry and beauty in the world, but others can argue that it was nothing more than chance and science just going about naturally. But then you begin to wonder...who or what started everything? Was there an initial point where everything came into existence?
Use the null hypothesis. Except for logical impossibilities, like the color blue that is red, or a rectangular sphere, nothing can be absolutely positively proven to NOT exist. The burden of proof is on whoever is making the claims. It is not science's job to disprove God, so that is why their "side is not conclusive". Sounds like they've done a pretty good job of convincing you without even trying though. Everything science claims is backed with evidence. Everything religion claims is only backed by other claims.

Arguing nothing is pure coincidence is argument from ignorance. In other words "I don't know how this happened, therefore this is how it must've happened". This fallacy is the basis of "God of the Gaps" argument. God used to be DIRECTLY responsible for everything...illness (not microbes), lightning (not static buildup), sunrise (not rotation of the earth). We've only been actively investigating these phenomon for a very short time, and the gaps that God is considered directly responsible for are ever shrinking. Now, an initial prime mover & originator of life is about all that's left for direct intervention, even though we're in our scientific infancy (and origin of life gap is rapidly diminishing). Since we don't know the cause of existence, the only claim we can positivly make is "we don't know" (besides- if there was a cause for existence, that cause must've already existed, which means existence already existed. Much more likely that the temporal dimension had a start point). There is no evidence for anything except our not knowing. "We don't know, therefore the answer is X" is not a valid argument.

Wede: If you're scientificly minded and think the earth is 6000 years old and all species were limited to a single pair a few thousand years ago while the world was underwater, & have even convinced yourself evidence supports this, you've mastered compartmentalization to an amazing degree.

Last edited by carve; 10-21-2009 at 11:24 AM.
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      10-21-2009, 07:28 AM   #18
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Question: For those that say "I'm not religious- I'm spiritual". What exactly do you mean? How did you arrive at that belief?
For those who make such a distinction, I believe it falls back on whether or not you subscribe to the dogma and disciplines of a particular religion.

For example, a devout Catholic who believes everything in accordance with Catholicism's dogma and disciplines, I would label religious. But there are also people who may have been raised Catholic, and consider themselves Catholic, but they don't follow every aspect of their religion. They may, for instance, not believe that homosexuality is a sin. In that case, they technically aren't Catholic, since they are going against the teachings of the church, but their belief in God may still be just as strong. I would label these people spiritual.

In effect, every religious person is spiritual, but not every spiritual person is religious.
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      10-21-2009, 08:07 AM   #19
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And why do atheists always feel the need to bash on religion? It's not like science is infallible. Don't forget that science still can't explain why 80% of the universe is missing.
Who is bashing who? Both Catholics and Protestants used to burn non-believers at the stake. Even today in America atheists are the only “religious” group that is it acceptable to call immoral and evil. And it happens pretty much every Sunday morning.

So there is a degree of pushback from non-believers. Add to that the odd beliefs and resulting irrational actions that some religions promote, now being mixed with our daily political life, and you have some non-believers who are no longer willing to silently watch the show.

But the real conflict is not between non-believers and those with religious beliefs; it is between thinking people of all types and religious fundamentalists of all types.

And while science is a work in progress, it is science that has given us vaccines, antibiotics, harnessed electricity, modern farming, clean water, pain relief and BMWs. I would think that a book that was truly the word of God would have given us a few hints about some of these, but then my wife tells me that I think too much about some things.

Last edited by 742; 10-21-2009 at 08:51 PM.
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      10-21-2009, 01:06 PM   #20
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Wede: If you're scientificly minded and think the earth is 6000 years old and all species were limited to a single pair a few thousand years ago while the world was underwater, & have even convinced yourself evidence supports this, you've mastered compartmentalization to an amazing degree.
Not at all, I'm not that good 6000 years for the earth is strictly untrue. BUT, if we ASSUME a parable and then construe that water covered the earth 6000 years ago, and relate that to Genesis where God created heaven and earth in 6 days, . . . we might be close to reality.

As I stated above, the bible is not a literal book, it gives a framework to what I believe in FAITH. Jesus never asks me to completely ignore the gift of intellect he gave me, but instead asks me to trust in his plan, and that I may not know/see all of his glory with my human eyes.

One very glaring thing that I think really torques me the most about the bible vs. science is again related to the flood. If God put the rainbow in the sky as a reminder of His covenant to never flood the earth again, then he must have fundamentally changed the rules of physics as we know it, because that fundamental property of light/water interaction would have changed at that point. But hey, if He did do it then, doesn't that mean there is still hope that c is not anabsolute speed limit? Gets me all excited!
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      10-21-2009, 01:49 PM   #21
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Why don't you think the rainbow thing is part of the parable? Does God seek to remind those in climates conducive to rainbows (e.g. Hawaii) more often than people in other climates? The Hawaiians hadn't even seen a bible untili relatively recently! Why a rainbow? It seems more likely to me that this is another God of the gaps argument: Rainbows are beautiful, and people had no friggen idea what caused them, so they just made up a nice story based on "Goddidit". Doesn't that seem a lot more plausible than the laws of physics changing for a random signal whose meaning is completely un-figure-out-able without the guide book? Unless something about rainbows leads people to figure out the world will never flood again ON THEIR OWN, then shouldn't just having God say it in the bible be sufficient? The rainbow bit seems clearly added to try to explain something beautiful and mysterious as well as to add credibility to the story by tying it with something we can see today. It seems no more based in reality than the claim that thunder is God bowling. Were there prisms before the flood?

The thing about the bible being a parable is there's a lot in it that IS supposed to be literally taken as supernatural magic. There's no guide on where to draw the line, so interpertation is completely arbitrary. This is not the sign of a divine work. I'll echo 742's excellent post. Explaining how things ACTUALLY work and, better yet, why they're set up that way, would've been much more impressive, not to mention useful. Explanations as they were written are set up for failure the more we learn. If God had influence in writing that book, he must've been motivated to have diminishing credibility as people learned more.
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      10-21-2009, 02:22 PM   #22
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To me, the bible is the work of MEN, not God. It is the best attempt to explain, in human terms, the divine nature of God and his relationship with humans.

How to decide what is real and what is parable? Listen to the Holy Spirit talking to you in your heart.

Scientific, definately not. It is again, FAITH.
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