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Author Topic:   Why Doesn't God Explain In Person?
Tusko
Member (Idle past 13 days)
Posts: 605
From: London, UK
Joined: 10-01-2004


Message 1 of 86 (159025)
11-13-2004 9:48 AM


Rowan Atkinson (best known for Mr. Bean, I imagine) once did a very funny little skit on TV. Forgive me if I retell it inaccurately; it was a very long time ago. Basically, he is the demon who the damned first meet on arrival in Hell. He's done this speech a million times. He's like a bored tour guide. While they walk, he explains some of the finer points of the inferno's bureaucracy to his group. After a while, they reach a particularly large cavern swarming with other lost souls in transit. They halt, and he starts to divide his little group up. "Could the Jews join that queue there please?" he begins, pointing off a way. "Hindus there, Buddhists there and Christians there." He starts ticking off his clipboard, then sadly adds with the practiced air of someone who is used to giving difficult news: "I'm afraid the Muslims were right."

My point is that until we are dead, its going to be really difficult to know which religion to follow. For some time now, it's seemed to me that holy texts are a pretty useless way for a god to communicate with the people of the world. This uselessness stems primarily from the fact that anyone can (and does) write a holy text. If a real God were to decide to communicate to humankind through a book, s/he/it would be drowned out by all the bogus ones.

Then this morning when I was lying in bed, it hit me. Unless God doesn't exist of course, what's to stop it from appearing to each and every person when they have reached a relatively mature age, and explaining which religion is the right one to follow? It wouldn't have to take very long: five minutes at most. (And what's a few minutes to a being of infinite knowledge and power anyway?) He could even offer a couple of cryptic little hints about upcoming highlights of that person's existence. But that's optional. The personal appearance and the clarification about religion is the main thing. It would give us clarity where there is so much confusion, and allow people to make an informed decision.

Then I started thinking about the objections that people might have to this - and I'm glad you have borne with me this far, because those objections are what this topic is meant to be about.

You might say:

1) God does make himself known to you, if only you open your ears/eyes/heart.

I don't think this one helps at all, because if he is so explicit, why are there so many sincere followers of conflicting notions of God around the world? Also, this attitude is a little bit insulting towards those who are sincerely looking for answers but aren't finding any.

Another might be:

2) If God appeared to us, that would mess up free will, because then people would be scared to do bad things.

If you think this, then how do you explain the fact that believing Christians occasionally do premeditatedly destructive - hell, sometimes just plain stupid and brutal - things in their personal or public lives?

A third could be:

3) Ha ha ha, this is all irrelevant.

But I don't think it is, because we are talking about billions of eternal souls (if they exist).

4) Don't ask God to prove things to you, puny mortal.

The reason I'm not convinced by this one is that it seems unfair that in biblical accounts, God was doing miracles left right and centre, like a nervous magician at a kid's party. Why has he stopped? Why do we have to rely on accounts of miracles, when two thousand years ago he was popping them off like champagne corks?

By all means object to my question on any of these grounds, but explain to me why my objections are unfounded, heinous, ill-informed etc...

Okay. I realize that this topic might sounds a little bit like an enthusiastic newbie trying to impress people, and maybe I am - who knows? But that's not what it's meant to be; I sincerely want to learn. I want to see how people with faith address this question. I imagine its easy for you to brush this line of argument to one side, or else you wouldn't be religious. I just want you to explain to me WHY it isn't a problem.

Phew! Thanks for bearing with me!

This message has been edited by Tusko, 11-13-2004 09:50 AM


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by arachnophilia, posted 11-13-2004 10:41 AM Tusko has responded
 Message 5 by General Nazort, posted 11-14-2004 1:07 AM Tusko has responded
 Message 13 by dpardo, posted 11-16-2004 6:11 PM Tusko has responded

  
AdminJar
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 86 (159027)
11-13-2004 9:51 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 142 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 3 of 86 (159035)
11-13-2004 10:41 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tusko
11-13-2004 9:48 AM


Unless God doesn't exist of course, what's to stop it from appearing to each and every person when they have reached a relatively mature age, and explaining which religion is the right one to follow?

because that would make choice irrelevant.

it seems me that important foundation of religion, and man's relationship with god(s), is that we're not REALLY sure there's anything out there.

i do not feel there is one true religion, even as a christian myself. i think the are all flawed human opinions of something we can't even begin to fathom, if it does indeed exist. i don't think any of the religions are neccessarily right.

but it seems to me that for whatever reason, it is best that god more or less stays out of it for the time being. i think of it like teaching a child to swim. at some point you have to let go.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tusko, posted 11-13-2004 9:48 AM Tusko has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Tusko, posted 11-13-2004 12:05 PM arachnophilia has responded

  
Tusko
Member (Idle past 13 days)
Posts: 605
From: London, UK
Joined: 10-01-2004


Message 4 of 86 (159046)
11-13-2004 12:05 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by arachnophilia
11-13-2004 10:41 AM


I think I understand what you are saying here, but there is something in your position that I don't understand. You are saying that theists aren't actually 100% sure that there is a god, and that unceretainty is what's making things interesting. I've got two problems with this really.

1) Why does uncertainty help?

because that would make choice irrelevant

I'd argue that choice is pretty irrelevant now, because you don't know which choices are the right ones. You just arbitrarily (or through birth and circumstance) find a set of rules for choices and adhere or ignore them. If we actually knew what choices were the right ones, and what would happen if we didn't do them, then every choice we made in our lives would become terribly relevant.

2) Maybe I've been hanging around hardcore christians too much, but my experience of theists is that to all intents and purposes, their faith is right, and god exists. If you believe in God, you actually think he exists and that you are playing for real stakes when you are making choices in the real world. If you do something that could put your immortal soul in jeopardy, you start to sweat real sweat, don't you? I didn't think there were many Christians who thought "eck! I might not actually matter what I do, he might not even exist!"

I don't want to come of ranty here, I know you are a thoughtful individual. I just want to see whether its reasonable to push at this issue a bit more to get the kind of answers that even a dimbo like me can understand.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by arachnophilia, posted 11-13-2004 10:41 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by arachnophilia, posted 11-14-2004 1:27 AM Tusko has responded

  
General Nazort
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 86 (159265)
11-14-2004 1:07 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tusko
11-13-2004 9:48 AM


what's to stop it from appearing to each and every person when they have reached a relatively mature age, and explaining which religion is the right one to follow?

I think it has something to do with free will and forcing people to follow God. If God just spoke to people like that, they would, presumabably, know that Christianity is the right religion, but that would not always make them want to follow it. They might feel forced into it and not truly repent of their sins.


If you say there no absolutes, I ask you, are you absolutely sure?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tusko, posted 11-13-2004 9:48 AM Tusko has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by Tusko, posted 11-16-2004 6:37 AM General Nazort has not yet responded

  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 142 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 6 of 86 (159269)
11-14-2004 1:27 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Tusko
11-13-2004 12:05 PM


I think I understand what you are saying here, but there is something in your position that I don't understand. You are saying that theists aren't actually 100% sure that there is a god, and that unceretainty is what's making things interesting. I've got two problems with this really.

1) Why does uncertainty help?

well, it's not uncertainty per se. it's the difference between faith and knowledge. and for some reason or another, faith is important. (unless, of course, god doesn't exist)

I'd argue that choice is pretty irrelevant now, because you don't know which choices are the right ones.

if choices were obviously correct, we wouldn't have to make them. they'd be meaningless. do you believe sun will rise tomorrow? do you believe things fall if you drop them? how important is your choice to believe these things?

2) Maybe I've been hanging around hardcore christians too much, but my experience of theists is that to all intents and purposes, their faith is right, and god exists.

even a theist cannot prove it, though.

If you believe in God, you actually think he exists and that you are playing for real stakes when you are making choices in the real world. If you do something that could put your immortal soul in jeopardy, you start to sweat real sweat, don't you? I didn't think there were many Christians who thought "eck! I might not actually matter what I do, he might not even exist!"

it's a strength of faith issue. some christians believe more strongly than others. some think god cares intensely, others do not. to me, the mentality of god caring intimately about what we do doesn't make sense. oops, i sinned. oh wait i've already been forgiven. now i have to guilt myself a lot, and it's ok if i just never do it again. i've seen christians go through guilt-cycle after guilt-cycle. i've done it myself. i don't see the point in it.

if god loves us, and forgives us, then god loves and forgives us. and if you believe he requires something of us, then just try to make good choices in life. and if you mess up, you mess up.

I don't want to come of ranty here, I know you are a thoughtful individual. I just want to see whether its reasonable to push at this issue a bit more to get the kind of answers that even a dimbo like me can understand.

actually, you're not too likely to get answers out of me that make sense. for two reasons really:

1. faith is not a rational thing. it doesn't really make any logical sense sometimes.

2. i've been in the process of questioning and revising my beliefs for the past few years now. i'm not exactly sure what i believe at the moment.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Tusko, posted 11-13-2004 12:05 PM Tusko has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Thugpreacha, posted 11-14-2004 5:54 PM arachnophilia has responded
 Message 10 by Tusko, posted 11-16-2004 6:27 AM arachnophilia has responded

  
Thugpreacha
Member
Posts: 12414
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 7 of 86 (159424)
11-14-2004 5:54 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by arachnophilia
11-14-2004 1:27 AM


John, Paul, George, and Ringo
I have a question for you, Arachnophilia. Where do you get the notion that john and paul are so out of whack with biblical reality? You can start another topic on john and paul if you want. I am just curious.
The Beatles thought that at one time they were more popular than Jesus Christ!
Then this morning when I was lying in bed, it hit me. Unless God doesn't exist of course, what's to stop it from appearing to each and every person when they have reached a relatively mature age, and explaining which religion is the right one to follow?
Jesus was and Is God explaining Himself in person, IMHO.That is what happens when an individual gets saved. God steps into their inner reality and introduces Himself.

This message has been edited by Phatboy, 11-14-2004 05:59 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by arachnophilia, posted 11-14-2004 1:27 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by happy_atheist, posted 11-14-2004 7:43 PM Thugpreacha has not yet responded
 Message 9 by arachnophilia, posted 11-15-2004 1:00 AM Thugpreacha has not yet responded

  
happy_atheist
Member (Idle past 3078 days)
Posts: 326
Joined: 08-21-2004


Message 8 of 86 (159449)
11-14-2004 7:43 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Thugpreacha
11-14-2004 5:54 PM


Re: John, Paul, George, and Ringo
Phatboy writes:

Jesus was and Is God explaining Himself in person

The bible isn't personal. I think Tusko means personally to each and every individual, not just a one off 2000 years ago.

PhatBoy writes:

Jesus was and Is God explaining Himself in person, IMHO.That is what happens when an individual gets saved. God steps into their inner reality and introduces Himself.

But surely those people are the people who need it the least, why not reveal himself to those who aren't saved too? If I want someone to be my friend I don't wait till they're my friend before I talk to them etc.

This message has been edited by happy_atheist, 11-14-2004 07:44 PM

This message has been edited by happy_atheist, 11-14-2004 07:44 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Thugpreacha, posted 11-14-2004 5:54 PM Thugpreacha has not yet responded

  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 142 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 9 of 86 (159517)
11-15-2004 1:00 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Thugpreacha
11-14-2004 5:54 PM


Re: John, Paul, George, and Ringo
I have a question for you, Arachnophilia. Where do you get the notion that john and paul are so out of whack with biblical reality? You can start another topic on john and paul if you want. I am just curious.

not reality, per se. just contradicting the text of the rest of the bible in a way that doesn't make sense to me.

for instance, paul says that christ established a new covenant, and that holding to the law while believing in christ is pointless. he argue against circumcision as well. but christ said that he did not come to destroy the law. paul also at one point says that it's shameful for a man to wear his hair long, which christ undoubtedly did. he also contradicts the old testament in a number of places. he advises against marriage and sex, when god's first commandment to his children is "be fruitful and multiply."

i feel john is out of place because it seems to be more of a symbolic rendering of the events. sayings not by christ, but having christ talk about himself in a way one camp of the early christian church would have. he says things about himself that when read in the context of the ot sound rather blasphemous.

if you wanna discuss this at any further length, please do start a new thread.

The Beatles thought that at one time they were more popular than Jesus Christ!

they were!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Thugpreacha, posted 11-14-2004 5:54 PM Thugpreacha has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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Tusko
Member (Idle past 13 days)
Posts: 605
From: London, UK
Joined: 10-01-2004


Message 10 of 86 (160028)
11-16-2004 6:27 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by arachnophilia
11-14-2004 1:27 AM


Hi all. Thanks for your responses. I haven't been able to get to a computer for a day or two, or I would have replied earlier.

Arachnophilia writes:

if choices were obviously correct, we wouldn't have to make them. they'd be meaningless. do you believe sun will rise tomorrow? do you believe things fall if you drop them? how important is your choice to believe these things?

I just want to unpack this a bit because it seems as though there are a couple of things going on here. I'm going to talk about the first bit more, because I think I understood it better. Firstly there is the stuff about choices. Although it would seem a coersive act if God did appear, I personally I don't think that its a foregone conclusion that if he did appear to explain stuff, no-one would ever make a selfish or destructive choice ever again. I don't think it would stop "crimes of passion". In a way, I think this highlights a serious problem with the whole Christian worldview of sin and forgiveness, which is predecated to a certain degree on a free agent able to make rational decisions. (Incidentally, and also more off topic, I think that people who have difficultly make informed rational choices, like those who suffer from severe mental illness, are pretty much excluded from any Christian narrative.)

I guess you don't mean it, but you make it sound as though if we knew which religious teachings to follow then there wouldn't be any choices to make in life because one would always be "obviously correct". I think life is much more ambiguous than this, and I think you do too. Knowing which set of religious teachings to follow would just be a foundation on which we could build a spiritual life. It would be giving us the rulebook. How we played the game would then be up to us. If we don't have the rules, how can we be expected to play the game, and even worse, judged harshly if we play poorly?

Now I want to talk about the next bit from that quote above. I take it when you are talking about the sun rising tomorrow, you are talking about knowledge and belief. Clearly, whether I believe that rocks drop or not, their probably going to drop anyway. We see some things so many times that it would make our days pretty un-livable if we were going to worry about basic physical laws, or chemistry. I'm just not sure how this relates to your point. Could you explain the connection with the choice stuff a bit more explicitly for me please?

The overwhelming problem for me is that I haven't got a clue which set of rules to follow. Which religion is it? It seems pointless picking the one that seems nearest to hand, because the place of birth is effectively random. It also seems suspect to choose one on personal preference, or a "feeling" deep within, because observation tells us that these powerful internal feelings lead people in so many different directions they don't seem to be helpful at picking out "the one". Either of these methods for arriving at a set of rules seem comparable to throwing a die with a cross, a wheel, a star, a cresent, a yin-yang and a cute kitten on each of its sides in order to determine your faith.

Cheers


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by arachnophilia, posted 11-14-2004 1:27 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by arachnophilia, posted 11-17-2004 2:18 AM Tusko has responded

  
Tusko
Member (Idle past 13 days)
Posts: 605
From: London, UK
Joined: 10-01-2004


Message 11 of 86 (160029)
11-16-2004 6:37 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by General Nazort
11-14-2004 1:07 AM


I don't know. If it was totally normal to see God at some point on your eighteenth birthday, and he always said "the genuine religious faith is X" consistently to everyone, I don't think that would force anyone to do anything. If God's chosen faith was something without an eternal hell for instance, then there wouldn't be a strong imperative to obey each and every rule of that faith. If it was one of the "everlasting underground oven" faiths, then people would have to think pretty hard before wearing a cotton T-shirt and polyester slacks: but they could if they wanted to.

I'm being a bit silly In proposing this whole God appearng thing, I know. Its just that it still seems more sensible to me than how religion works in our universe.

Cheers.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by General Nazort, posted 11-14-2004 1:07 AM General Nazort has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by lfen, posted 11-16-2004 2:16 PM Tusko has not yet responded

  
lfen
Member (Idle past 2842 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 12 of 86 (160130)
11-16-2004 2:16 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Tusko
11-16-2004 6:37 AM


Hey, Tusko

what you say!

I think it made more sense thousands of years ago when people were confused about dreams and visions and took them as authority. Human beings change slowly and the momentum of that earlier paradign is nowhere near exhausted yet. What seems silly to a few of us makes perfect sense, or at least makes sense to many more. That for me is hard to grasp but that is what the data says.

lfen


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Tusko, posted 11-16-2004 6:37 AM Tusko has not yet responded

  
dpardo
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 86 (160213)
11-16-2004 6:11 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tusko
11-13-2004 9:48 AM


Tusko writes:

The reason I'm not convinced by this one is that it seems unfair that in biblical accounts, God was doing miracles left right and centre, like a nervous magician at a kid's party. Why has he stopped? Why do we have to rely on accounts of miracles, when two thousand years ago he was popping them off like champagne corks?

I used to ask this same question.

In the Old Testament, God appeared (in some form or other) to many people. In Exodus 20, God spoke audibly to his people.

In the New Testament, Jesus, God the son, appears physically on the earth.

Now, that said, if God's plan was to appear to people at those times and we happened to not be alive at that time, why should he appear to anyone in the present?

Do you see my point? He did appear, according the bible. Why should he reappear just to satisfy our requests?

If he had appeared to us and someone a thousand years in the future asked the same questions, should he appear to them?

It is interesting to note that even though he did appear to folks at those times in the Old Testament, some people still did not obey him.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tusko, posted 11-13-2004 9:48 AM Tusko has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by Tusko, posted 11-17-2004 4:14 AM dpardo has responded

  
dpardo
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 86 (160225)
11-16-2004 6:38 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by arachnophilia
11-15-2004 1:00 AM


Re: John, Paul, George, and Ringo
Arachnophilia writes:

for instance, paul says that christ established a new covenant, and that holding to the law while believing in christ is pointless. he argue against circumcision as well. but christ said that he did not come to destroy the law. paul also at one point says that it's shameful for a man to wear his hair long, which christ undoubtedly did. he also contradicts the old testament in a number of places. he advises against marriage and sex, when god's first commandment to his children is "be fruitful and multiply."

Can you please direct me to the relevant verses so that I can check them out?

Also, I think the command to "be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" in the context of Adam and Eve being the only two people on earth makes sense. However, as the earth begins to fill with people, I don't think that command would be re-issued.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by arachnophilia, posted 11-15-2004 1:00 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by arachnophilia, posted 11-17-2004 1:32 AM dpardo has responded

  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 142 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 15 of 86 (160323)
11-17-2004 1:32 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by dpardo
11-16-2004 6:38 PM


Re: John, Paul, George, and Ringo
regarding the covenant:

quote:
Hbr 8:13 In that he saith, A new [covenant], he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away.

(did paul write hebrews? i forget)

now, this would take a bit of explaining. paul argues in the book of galations that christ does not invalidate the law. but the statements he makes in the book contradict the law. for instance, chapter five says, basically, not to get circumcised because then you will be held to the law. (the implication then being that christ frees you from the law) basically, the book is one big weak argument. and we know the other verse:

quote:
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

i think it's pretty clear that christ means that he's not invalidating the torah or the nevi'im, meaning the laws themselves are still valued. but that he's only fulfilling the prophesies and the promises in the torah and nevi'im. in short, he's not breaking off from judaism, like paul wants to.

next:

quote:
1Cr 11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

no, it doesn't.

quote:
Lev 19:27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.

in fact, many other verses in leviticus signal that it is abhorent to sut your hair short. shaving your head bald was a sign of morning.

paul parallels this verse with:

quote:
1Cr 11:15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for [her] hair is given her for a covering.

i can't much biblical basis for it at the moment, but some really strict orthodox jewish women shave their heads and wear shawls, so that their hair is never seen. some simply cover their hair so only their husbands can see it. this is similar to islamic practice, but i doubt it was in place during biblical times.

marriage and sex?

1st corinthians 7. (borrowed from skepticsannotatedbible.com, due to eas of use)

quote:
1 Cor.7:1 It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

1 Cor.7:7-8 For I [Paul] would that all men were even as I myself. ... It is good for them if they abide even as I.


quote:
Gen.2:18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make a help-meet for him.

Pr.18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.

Mt.19:5 For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife.


This message has been edited by Arachnophilia, 11-17-2004 01:32 AM


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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