I used to think that anyone who held any kind of non-rational belief was an idiot. I also believed for gods and such to be real that my whole world view would have to be wrong. I could not see it happenning.
Since coming to EvC I have seen posters argue back and forth basically trying to 'prove' each position.
I think that (in the cold light of day) my OP was loaded so I will edit it reflect the fact that EvC can change beliefs in general rather than only religious beliefs.
It seems obviouse (now) that what one believes is right, one honestly believes is right. I think I got caught up in things being 'absolutes'. That is to say 'this' is right and 'that' is wrong.
I've said on some occaisions that there are no letters of fire in the sky screaming "this god or that god is real", but from comming here I can see that it is your initial position that dictates your likely conclusions.
If you accept the initial premise that the bible is the be all and end all and you honestly believe this is true, any other view must be down right perplexing.
If you believe in damnation you will be doing the right thing by trying to sway people into acting in a way that will 'save' them. any other action would be morally wrong.
If you can't give credence to religious beliefs (for whatever reason)you could see others as either being willfully ignorant or hopelessly provincial.
Part of my role at work involves 'getting into the heads' of people to experience their perception of the world and coming here has made it easier to do this. Thanks to posters like Iano and Faith, Robinrohan and Buzz I think I'm better able to stop thinking like me and think like somebody else for a bit.
And Iano explained the relevence to xains of Jesus dieing better than anyone. I think I understand some of why xians think he was so important.
Has it changed my belief?
I don't think it matters as much what is right, more that what we believe brings a bit of warmth and comfort to ourselves.
I have stopped being on a rabbid crusade to tempt xians (for example) out of their faith.
I think I will edit the title to ask the question I should have asked initially and examine the possible change in any relevent belief; not specifically religious beliefs.
My beliefs have been affected, but in ways I never expected.
My opinion on the honesty and integrity of (the more traditional)believing Christians has been destroyed. The Attitudes I've seen on here have been very dissappointing to say the least. When challenged to any real degree the tone very quickly turns sour. The posts become personal, the comments become sniping and the responses become diversionary and dishonest IMHO.
I expected to find some people who genuinely believed what they believed, but with good reason to back it up, with well thought out arguments, and a genuine willingness to share these beliefs.
My View of the Christian God (as defined by 'fundamentalist' Christians) has also changed dramatically. I was brought up to believe that God loved us all, wanted us to be safe, wanted us to be Good, and wanted us to love in return.
The fundamentalist view as I see it now seems to be: -We cannot save our selves.. God does that. -God may not decide to save you, thus condemning you to eternal damnation -God Possesses all the worst frailties of the human condition. rage, jealousy, spitefulness, callousness, indifference, pride. -To Be a fundamentalist christian requires one to possess all of the above characteristics along with a large dollop if smugness and self importance.
My understanding and knowledge of the bible has increased hugely, I lurked here originally merely trying to see the creationist/christian viewpoint, to understand what made them believe, what I found was Creationists unable to support or refute some of the most basic contradictions in the bible. unable to support their own arguments. Unable to behave in a Christian manner. That last point was shocking to me. I expected some peace loving Christians espousing the golden rule and tolerance. What I found was a religion for a large part represented by bigotry, intolerance, calls for the destruction of islam, the exclusion of homosexuals, and seemingly content with Gods apparent random punishment of innocents.
It has moved me towards a conclusion the religion really is simply a mechanism whereby people can shrug their shoulders, take no responsibility for the bad things in the world and blame them on satan or God's wrath.
I have found this to be both facinating and disturbing
the out and out willful ignorance on topics such as geology, cosmology, genetics etc has astounded me. Hundreds, thousands, indeed, millions of scientists branded liars or dillusional when they have spent their entire careers challenging their own, and others theories and expanding their own, and our, understanding of the world based upon observable evidence. real tangible evidence which refines and specifies theories with each passing discovery. All this pitched against the bible, a 2000 year old, collection of folk tales which bear little truth in their description of the natural world. Which call for bigotry, exclusion, mysogyny amongst other things.
I read with amazement on a daily basis the depth to which our planet has been studied, and examined and observed. The level of understanding we have is breathtaking and if I ever understand fully more than a fraction of it I'll be amazed.
I remain, however an agnostic, as agnotsic as I was when I first read these pages. Who knows what is out there FLying Pink unicorn, Spaghetti monsters, green lanterns, Vishnu, Allah, God. Who the hell knows.
The fundamentalist view as I see it now seems to be: -We cannot save our selves.. God does that. ............ -God Possesses all the worst frailties of the human condition. rage, jealousy, spitefulness, callousness, indifference, pride. ............My understanding and knowledge of the bible has increased hugely, ....
Mmmm, my friend, it appears you've actually learned very little.......better go back and review what the Bible clearly teaches about salvation and the justness/mercy/love/soverignty of God over his universe for the ultimate good of the whole.
LOL on saving yourself!
Me? I've learned loads from both creos and evos. Our evo friends, for example have taught me a lot of science and stuff to help me fine tune my own IDist hypothesis and to fit it into basic laws of science. I've been challenged to research many topics relative to both religion and science so as to expand my knowledge in all areas of study.
Many good folks on this board from both sides of the isle have taught me how to debate in a less caustic manner without compromising what I believe and to more fully appreciate some of the reasons they believe as they do. :cool:
Where in the world could one hope to be exposed to the sheer variety of ways in which worldviews can be framed? There is no such place I submit.
Whether the posts are humorous digs, clever, one-line rebuttals, well-structured arguments or diversionary diversions, one thing is common to all those with whom I contend: rejection of the Gospel. Were I asked to advise a person as to where they might go in order to learn the skills required of a good evangelist then EvC would have to be my first suggestion. This comments not on my own ability - my failings are apparent to myself too - but the potential to extract from here remains in as concentrated form as one could wish for.
Whilst knowing, from the outset, the core reason why a person rejects the Gospel, the myriad of ways in which this may be couched defies even the wildest expectations I might have had before joining. The intense experience has raised my willingness to at least engage those self-same worldviews when I come across them in the less frentic dimension we call RealWorld. The most intelligent reponses have forced me to think of ways of contending with them such that I am less likely to be surprised when faced with them in the future. Not to be glib or dismissive of those views - but when "you've seen it before" it makes seeing it again a somewhat less daunting task.
Has it changed my beliefs? Not in the least. I knew God before I came here and he hasn't changed a bit. Do I know God better? Well yes. In 'defending' him, I have been forced to think about him more and to see if what I suspected of him is confirmed in his word. There has been enormous personal profit in coming to understand certain aspects about which I had questions (if not doubts) before. This has led to solidification and deepening of my faith. To name but a few:
- Predestination vs Free will. The paradox is no longer one for me for me.
- the mechanism of salvation as it is applied. The role of evangelism is clearer to me now
- works not in any way, shape or form an aspect of our salvation. I believed that when I came here, I (at risk of irritating Schraf) know it now.
I have learned too, that my way is peppered with flaws which demonstrate (were I in any doubt) that a sinner I shall remain until my dying day. The lack of love, respect, kindness and empathy in some of my posts have dropped even my own jaw on reflection. This from one who is in receipt of unmerited grace himself? Hmmm... That sin-uber-all-sins, Pride, has demonstrated itself to be very much alive and kicking, indicated by my unwillingness make amends in a timely fashion. Work in-painfully-slow-progress that remains.
All in all though, EvC has been a fantastic experience. The sheer variety of personalities and the beauty contained within them makes me understand all the more why it is God goes to so much trouble. In his image and likeness he made them and that is reflected in glorious technicolour here - if at times, through a glass darkly.
Hopefully one day at least some of us will have a good laugh about the tussle. I promise that on that day I won't say "I told you so!"