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Author Topic:   What Benefits Are Only Available Through God?
Stile
Member
Posts: 3036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 166 of 172 (803590)
04-02-2017 10:47 AM
Reply to: Message 162 by Phat
03-31-2017 3:51 PM


Re: Facts vs. Possibilities
Phat writes:

What specific facts are you looking for?

Any and all.

As an example, take pyramid power. If it could be documented that the atmosphere within the pyramid is in fact charged with more electrical stimulus than a control box, would that somehow make pyramid power more valid as a factually based spiritual path?

I don't know enough about such things.
What is it about electrical stimulus that would lend itself to being a "more valid" spiritual path?

At times, I can be around a lot of electrical control boxes at work (I've designed, installed and used them in the past).
I didn't notice any "more valid" spiritual paths associated with them. I don't see how there's any link at all, really.

Are you claiming that the source of the spirituality is less important than the recipient of said spirituality?

This would depend on the circumstance and situation, of course.
However, as long as we have no known way to validate the identify of the source... then yes, of course.

How could we place more importance on something we have no way of knowing?

If we could, however, actually know these "sources..." then that's a whole different ball game.
One I'd very much like to understand.

But such knowledge doesn't seem to be available to us.
What else can we do other than work with what we have available to us?

a bit like the i-god syndrome.

I don't know what an i-god is

Perhaps, in the final analysis, we all are selfish to a degree.

I think selfishness depends on your own motivations.
Only you will know if you're doing something for your own sake, or to try and help someone else.
The external observations can certainly be interpreted one way or the other by many different people.
But only you know the truth.

Selfishness isn't always a bad thing, either.
Like if my wife wants to watch a movie... and she wants me to choose which one... me choosing a movie I want to watch is selfish, but not a bad thing. Me saying something like "no, you choose!" Is not selfish... but only shifts the responsibility of "choosing the movie" back onto her... something she clearly didn't want by asking me to choose the movie. Therefore, this "non-selfish" move would actually be a bad thing.

Being honest and willing to correct your possible errors is the only way to navigate such strange waters.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 162 by Phat, posted 03-31-2017 3:51 PM Phat has acknowledged this reply

    
Stile
Member
Posts: 3036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


(1)
Message 167 of 172 (822009)
10-17-2017 12:06 PM


Specifics lost when leaving Christianity - An Article
I recently read an article on Cracked called 4 Specific Things You Lose When You Leave Christianity

Hopefully that link will stay around for a while. Cracked has a habit of altering the title's of their articles. And, since they refer to their URL by title, doing so would make my link defunct. Ah well, I do what I can.

The article was written by one Kristi Harrison.
This link to her profile says her name is "hereinidaho."
I don't know how useful that profile is, but it was linked by the article, so I linked it here as well.

This is just going to be a long, rambling post because I feel like it.

I should note that Cracked is a humour website.
Although it does sometimes try to write about serious topics, with just a bit of humour added in.
It is up to the reader to decide if this article was meant to be serious or not. I'm going to take it's themes as serious, because it's what I like to have serious talks about.

I'm going to list the 4 things the article talks about, summarize what I think they're trying to say about them, and then talk about why I think the thing can be obtained just fine without Christianity.

Article Introduction

What the article says: Kristi was a devout Christian, it was a very ingrained part of her life. She went to church more than once a week on many occasions and attended a Baptist College for school. Kristi recounts a memory about losing her belief later in life during a Bible Study on Revelations when it gets to a place describing angels and dragons. She identifies that she doesn't actually believe in angels or dragons, then reflects more on her beliefs and describes a "domino effect" of eventually losing all belief. The following specifics are things Kristi misses about believing when now she's unable to honestly believe.

What I think about it: Kristi lost a very deep, encompassing part of her life as a believer. This is going to come with some sadness and regret. Perhaps Kristi is unable to fill these voids without anything other than belief. Maybe belief in something else, or maybe she will regrettably have a huge void/hole in herself for the rest of her life. Perhaps not. I'm not going to discuss much about Kristi's personal ability to acquire a healthy spiritual life without believing in Christianity... my ramblings will be more focused on the general idea of obtaining spiritual advantages while not believing in religion. I hope that they would be applicable for Kristi, but that's up to her and her alone.

In her article, Kristi is talking about how things affected her personally. To do so is a perfectly valid and serious idea to talk about. She discusses how things are difficult for her, personally, to obtain without religion after leaving a religion that was extremely ingrained into her personal life. My response to that basically condenses down to a "well, duh..." My rambling here, however, will be more focused on how the things she brings up are easily obtainable without religion in general, because that's what I like to talk about.

4. You Miss Getting High on Worship

What the article says: Going to church was an addictive, engaging and exciting experience for Kristi. She hasn't been able to replicate this feeling anywhere else.

What I think about it: If you can't find addictive, engaging, exciting activities without religion... you're simply looking in the wrong places. What interests you? Look up some local groups that do the same thing. Get involved and go to them. This basically seems to me that Kristi hasn't been able to get friends who are supportive and loving to her as she had when she was in church.

Depending on how ingrained she was with church, this can be entirely understandable. It's hard to make new friends and new contacts as an adult with responsibilities in the current work-life of 2017. But "hard" doesn't mean "unattainable." You simply have to put some effort in.

Church had meeting times and a specific place to congregate. Many activities have these same things. The only catch is... the activity has to speak to you personally. You can't join some sports team if you don't like sports. You can't join a video-game group of people who play every night together if you don't like the video game. You have to find something that speaks to you, then find others who like the same thing. Then join in with the agreed upon times of congregation. The internet is a big place, make use of it.

Addictive, engaging, exciting activities certainly exist and are certainly attainable without religion.
If they weren't... all non-church-going people would be dull and boring. This is factually (and easily verifiably) untrue. Therefore... this is a problem of motivation, not that religion is the only place to get a socially-acceptable high.

3. You Miss Your Culture and Community

What the article says: Kristi describes how many people in her old church helped her and her family out in times of need. Money, and effort and all sorts of things.

What I think about it: People help each other all the time. With money and effort and all sorts of things. This doesn't take religion. The only point here is regarding Kristi specifically... her entire life had close friends within the church. She's now outside the church and away from those close friends and hasn't found another group of close friends yet. This dilemma is serious and devastating. But, again, just because something can be difficult to obtain for a few specific people without religion doesn't mean it can't be obtained (sometimes easily for others in other situations) without religion.

2. You Miss Magic

What the article says: Here Kristi talks about how God is "in control" of all things, has "a plan" and always there for everyone and how this takes your worries away.

What I think about it: There are 2 ways to go on this one. First, you can keep the "magic" be believing in something else... "the universe provides" is just as powerful as "God provides" if you believe in it. Of course, what if you don't believe in any such thing? Then, the result usually comes down to something like this: Second, get away from taking solace in magic, and start taking solace in non-magic.

For example: Think about how often "the magic" fails (even though it's not acknowledged in church):
God is in control and has a plan... but sometimes that plan means you get cancer and die. Or you get mugged and shot. Or you get kidnapped and placed into sexual slavery while on vacation. These are all things that actually happen to actual people. The solace of the magic isn't much solace for those people.

Then, think about what we do know:
We may not be in control of everything, but we are in control of many things. Think about what you can control, what you understand is controlled around you (by others or by nature) and how that all works to your advantage. Think about taking precautions, but also being fun and reckless in the proper situations. Feel free to go out, investigate, and learn even more.

Also, for things that don't have an answer, find solace in the community that exists because no one has the answer.
Think about it.
If we don't know what happens when we die... because there's no answer... then we all don't have that same answer.

Your boss? Doesn't know.
That guy who won 40 episodes of Jeopardy? Doesn't know.
Stephen Hawking? Doesn't know.
Sheldon from TV? Doesn't know.
Those hundreds of people in traffic with you? All don't know.
Those people right outside your office or house? All don't know.

You can't be expected to know, prepare, or be responsible for something that's completely impossible for you to know. So take solace in that. It's very helpful for me, anyway.

This part of the article, though, I really wanted to comment on specifically:

Kristi Harrison in the article writes:

This is a warning: If you're a lukewarm believer considering calling it a day on your faith, know that the warm, gooshy feeling you get after asking God to take care of your problems is irreplaceable.

I just want to point out that this is absolutely, unequivocally false.
That warm, gooshy feeling most certainly is replaceable without God. I've personally replaced it.
Is it replaceable for everyone and anyway? I don't know, I like to think so, though.
Is feeling that it is irreplaceable valid even if others can replace it? Absolutely yes. Feelings are always valid. They can be wrong... but they're always valid.

I've seen many people get frustrated and flip out when they feel they've lost this warm, gooshy feeling.
I've seen many people get completely content, satisfied and blissful when they get this warm, gooshy feeling.
I've never been witness to any description or experience that comes close to the warm, gooshy feeling I get when I take solace in the ideas I've described above in this section.

Do I have the best warm, gooshy feeling? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. How do you compare such a thing?

All I can say is that, again, it is absolutely, unequivocally false that this warm, gooshy feeling from God taking care of things is irreplaceable without God (or religion at all). I was religious, and now I have no religion at all... and I've replaced it with an even better warm, gooshy feeling (for me, anyway).

1. You Miss Your Best Friend

What the article says: Kristi talks about how God is always there, and believers are never alone.

What I think about it: My wife is my best friend. Even if she were to die, I'd always have the memories of our time together. She is always there with me, and I am never alone. On top of that, she's actually real, and I can try her food too when she orders something different for dinner.

Besides the fact that anyone can have a best friend without religion, there are other things going on here as well:

1 - Some people can find it creepy that God is always there, and you're "never alone." When you don't believe in religion, this creepy-factor disappears because you understand that it doesn't exist.

2 - If you feel comfort in the idea of having "someone else" know your deepest, darkest secrets or anything-and-everything about you and still love you... well, I really have found such a "someone else" in my wife. And I agree that such a person is extremely powerful and good to have around. I'd recommend finding such a person to anyone interested in such comforts.
Perhaps one day my wife will not be around and I still will be... Best friends come in all shapes and sizes though. More best friends can be found and connected with without replacing or dishonouring a previous best friend. It can be more difficult for some folks or situations with actual people involved... but, again, "difficult" does not equal "impossible."

3 - An idea of "God knowing" about certain things actually making a difference to your decisions or the way you are can be equally attained with "I honestly know." If you can be honest with yourself, and with personal reflection, it is quite possible to equal or surpass any advantages to thinking that "God knows" certain things.

Article Conclusion

What the article says: Kristi has a very frank paragraph about not being able to (currently) find comfort in science or reason and that things are very uncomfortable and weird for her in her journey of non-belief.

What I think about it: Kristi is at the very beginning of her journey of non-belief. Such serious worries and concerns as she expresses are expected and acknowledged as devastating. These facts, however daunting, do not indicate that her journey is over, or that such devastating issues cannot be overcome. The fact that many, many others have had similar, easier and harder journeys... and that many have built a foundation for a fulfilling spiritual life without religion or God is proof that such things are not impossible. They do, however, require focus and effort... as most of life's largest tasks require.

Edited by Stile, : Structure and organization


Replies to this message:
 Message 168 by Phat, posted 10-17-2017 4:08 PM Stile has responded

    
Phat
Member
Posts: 10053
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 168 of 172 (822019)
10-17-2017 4:08 PM
Reply to: Message 167 by Stile
10-17-2017 12:06 PM


Re: Specifics lost when leaving Christianity - An Article
That was an interesting article. This part stood out for me:
quote:
The ability to hand over your deepest problems to someone else is Christianity's killer app, one that has absolutely no equivalent in the secular world. I don't even know if there's an equivalent in any other religion, but I haven't investigated all of them that deeply. Christianity doesn't promise your life will be easy, but it promises that someone is looking out for you, has your best interests at heart, and wants you to succeed. And even if there's no hope for your life improving, your entire eternity will be amazing if you just follow Him.

I'm not afraid of losing my belief in Jesus, but I am afraid of losing any support He may offer.


Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
Paul was probably SO soaked in prayer nobody else has ever equaled him.~Faith :)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 167 by Stile, posted 10-17-2017 12:06 PM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 169 by Stile, posted 10-18-2017 8:56 AM Phat has responded

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 3036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 169 of 172 (822055)
10-18-2017 8:56 AM
Reply to: Message 168 by Phat
10-17-2017 4:08 PM


Re: Specifics lost when leaving Christianity - An Article
Phat writes:

I'm not afraid of losing my belief in Jesus, but I am afraid of losing any support He may offer.

This is a very interesting and multi-faceted issue.
I didn't get all the way into it with the article because there were other things to talk about. I'll try to get more in depth here:

"Support" is a nice word to use to summarize the whole idea of having a support network... a place where you know you'll be taken care of, safe and content. The "place" is also multi-faceted, there's usually a physical place (home, church, meeting-areas...) as well as a mental place in each of our mind's.

On one side, it's easy to see that many people easily have support from Jesus or Christianity or religion. It can be argued that this is the whole idea of community meetups, fellowship and congregation. In a similar vein of non-religious community, fellowship and congregation... it's also easy to see that many people have support from family or friends without Jesus or Christianity or religion.

The existence of one side and the other is easy to see that both exist, are equally easy/hard to acquire (during one's upbringing), and equally as helpful/rewarding/fulfilling.

The problem is switching from one to the other, or even from one to anything else.

It's not so much "hard to swap from Christianity into Atheism" as it is "hard to break away from the support network you've developed over the course of your entire life."

This difficulty itself is equal from Christians becoming Atheists as it is for Atheists becoming Christians.
It's not difficult for everyone, but it is for many.
The difficulty depends on how ingrained or isolated your support network really is.

What I'm saying is this:
If your support network is dedicated to a group of people that is also dedicated to your Christianity or Atheism... then it will be extremely difficult to break away from either one and rebuild a support network elsewhere.

It has nothing to do with "leaving Christianity" or even "leaving Atheism"... the point is that it's very difficult for anyone to break away from their life-long-ingrained support network.

It just so happens that, in general, religions revolve around this support network while things like Atheism do not. Therefore, someone leaving a religion (leaving Christianity) will have a much greater chance that they will also wind up having to leave their support network. A bunch of atheist friends, however, may have a greater chance of 'not caring' whether or not one friend starts believing in God... (if their atheism isn't all that important on their priority list of people-they-hang-out-with).

So, yes, getting back to your specific situation (sort of similar to the one in the article), it's very understandable that you would have great hesitations in breaking away from your support network, for obvious reasons.

Unfortunately (for helping you... fortunately for me...), my own support network was never ingrained into my religion.
So I do not have any personal experience to help me describe the situation.
When I stopped believing in God, and became an atheist, my family and friends didn't care. Some were already atheists, some were devout Christians. Some stayed wherever they were, others swapped in one direction or another. Within my support network, though... such an idea of 'being religious' or 'being atheist' isn't important... so my support network remained constant during my conversion.

Does this mean it's impossible for you to ever survive breaking away from your support network if you ever did think of moving in such a direction?

I can't say it's not impossible for you.
Many people die while having unresolved issues in their personal lives. Regrettably, such things happen and are a fact of this life. Whether or not such a fact implies you should or shouldn't even try... is up to you and you alone. I know what I'd do... but I'm not you

I can say, though, that in theory (and in practice for certain individuals) it certainly is still possible to rebuild a support-network that doesn't included God, Jesus or religion. It's not easy, though. It involves forming deep relationships with people you don't have deep relationships with right now. That takes focus and effort. It's along the lines of the age-old issue of "making new friends" while you're an adult. The stigma is that this is incredibly hard... that stigma makes it feel hard. When it feels hard to do.. it becomes hard to do.

But... a stigma is not the truth.
In my experience, a lot of people are very open to making long lasting, deep connections with new people as adults.
The child-like "I like candy... you like candy? We're best friends!!" methods do not really work... they come with a certain creepy factor.
But regularly joining in on social events (any work-related or hobby-related events you care to become associated with) will naturally ingrain you into certain friendships and, eventually, deep connections the longer and more dedicated you are to that group.

Just like being in a church for a long time and in a dedicated way.
You didn't have to tell the people of the church "Hey, I'm one of you now! We're a support network!" it grew along with your long time and dedication of remaining within that group.

The same sort of long time and dedication of remaining with any group will result in exactly the same sort of deep connections required for a fully-functioning, safe, secure, dependable support network.

It basically comes down to this:

Obviously, spending 40 years in the same church with the same people is going to be different than spending 2 weeks with some people who like to cook together and share recipes.

But, really, the opposite works just as well:

Spending 40 years cooking together and sharing recipes with the same people is going to be different than spending 2 weeks with some people who like to sing about Jesus.

The point is that "leaving Jesus's support" isn't the problem.
The problem is "leaving your support network," it just so happens that your support network revolves around Jesus.

That doesn't mean you can't even have another support network that doesn't revolve around Jesus.
But it also means you shouldn't expect something to match 40-years of dedication without giving it the same sort of time and dedication.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 168 by Phat, posted 10-17-2017 4:08 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 170 by Phat, posted 10-18-2017 12:13 PM Stile has responded

    
Phat
Member
Posts: 10053
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 170 of 172 (822062)
10-18-2017 12:13 PM
Reply to: Message 169 by Stile
10-18-2017 8:56 AM


Re: Specifics lost when leaving Christianity - An Article
I don't think you quite understand what I mean. I'm not afraid of losing my belief in Jesus, as the girl did. I don't ever see that happening. What I am afraid of is losing the whole idea that there is help available. I'm not looking for a human support network. I have not even been to church in 8 months. Unlike the girl in the article, I never really connected with believers the way that I connect to ...even EvC, for example. Also, unlike her, I have not doubted my belief. I'm just starting to realize that being responsible is as important as being a faithful believer.

Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
Paul was probably SO soaked in prayer nobody else has ever equaled him.~Faith :)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 169 by Stile, posted 10-18-2017 8:56 AM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 171 by Stile, posted 10-18-2017 12:40 PM Phat has responded

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 3036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 171 of 172 (822065)
10-18-2017 12:40 PM
Reply to: Message 170 by Phat
10-18-2017 12:13 PM


Re: Specifics lost when leaving Christianity - An Article
Phat writes:

What I am afraid of is losing the whole idea that there is help available.

My response was an attempt to show that "help is available" with or without God, Jesus and religion.

I'm not looking for a human support network.

What sort of help are you afraid of losing?

My best interpretation of the general "help" you've mentioned so far is some sort of support-network.

If you mean something else, perhaps you could try to describe it?

Maybe you mean something along the lines of "losing your best friend" (losing the idea of having Jesus/God/religion with you at all times)?

The belief in Jesus/God/religion as help is equally valid as the belief in anything else as help.
That "anything else" may be real, imaginary, or simply believed (regardless of knowing if it actually exists or not) just as Jesus/God/religion is.

Such "help" could be attained from "the universe" or "Zeus" or "the memory of this person I think is amazing" or "the idea of a perfect being" or anything like that.

But, since I'm again guessing at what you mean by "help" I'm likely missing again.
Can you describe a bit more specifically what you mean by losing "available help?"

Or... maybe in a completely different frame of mind altogether... if you don't think you're losing your belief... what makes you think you're in trouble of losing whatever "help" you get from it right now anyway? Why wouldn't help still be available from your belief... if you're not losing your belief?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 170 by Phat, posted 10-18-2017 12:13 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 172 by Phat, posted 11-19-2017 9:46 AM Stile has not yet responded

    
Phat
Member
Posts: 10053
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 172 of 172 (823919)
11-19-2017 9:46 AM
Reply to: Message 171 by Stile
10-18-2017 12:40 PM


Re: Specifics lost when leaving Christianity - An Article
Stile writes:

What sort of help are you afraid of losing?

Quite honestly I think that I am afraid of losing my mother. She always helped me. I felt blissfully loved (and entitled) and once she is gone, I will have nothing and nobody who loved me so much.

Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
Paul was probably SO soaked in prayer nobody else has ever equaled him.~Faith :)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 171 by Stile, posted 10-18-2017 12:40 PM Stile has not yet responded

  
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