Anyone who persists with any of the illogically unscientific notions that:
The universe is more than just a spontaneous accident;
Anything is greater than the sum of its parts;
There is true meaning or purpose to anything;
Guilt is more than just a neurosis;
Love is more than just a chemical reaction;
Life is more than just a physical condition;
There is good in the world;
Absolutes such as eternity, infinity and perfection actually exist;
There is anything in the universe more important than themselves;
Is what I consider to be a person of faith and believes in what I choose to call God.
Yes, science is often wrong. Maybe not by very much but wrong nevertheless. Consider that few scientific theories have a shelf-life of more than a couple of centuries before becoming functionally obsolete. It stands to reason that most of our best scientific theories of today will have become equally obsolete within another few hundred years. Certainly science is useful. We would not have modern medicines or complex modern marvels without the materials and technology science provides. But mere usefulness is no proof of the absolute veracity of our current scientific theories. Even in the times of Romans and Egyptians, many seemingly miraculous structures and cures were being implemented with the most archaic and inaccurate scientific theories. Because they seemed to work well enough for the times did not mean they were necessarily correct. No legitimate scientist today would base his work on any of the scientific principles accepted as absolute fact millennia ago. Accuracy is one of the basic cornerstones of the scientific method and since we can assume from experience that no modern scientific theory is completely accurate, all conclusions based on our modern theories must be inherently inaccurate as well.
What does this mean for people of faith? Any scientific “proof” that God does not exist, if found, will eventually become obsolete – perhaps to be supplanted by another equally transient proof and so on. Science is a merely a useful albeit imperfect human tool. Why should we replace our faith in a perfect and eternal God with faith in an imperfect one of our own creation? Whenever new scientific evidence is presented which seemingly contradicts our faith, we must try to remember that faith has a much longer shelf-life than science. On the other hand, we must never attempt to base or even bolster our faith on any scientific evidence or theories. Any faith based on scientific evidence or theories puts science foremost and will constantly be undermined by new discoveries. Attempting scientific proof of God’s existence is foolhardy. Even if temporarily successful to some degree, it’s success will never survive the inevitable proofs to the contrary. Any new believers the original proof may have won will be lost and forever jaded. Any true believers which have in some way incorporated the proof into their belief system will then have a shadow of doubt cast upon their faith. But most importantly, the attempt itself gives credit to the bizarre notion that faith in a scientific proof of God is somehow superior to faith in God directly.
Some suggest science leads them to a better understanding of the mind of God. To me, scientifically analyzing the universe to understand the mind of God seems a bit more akin to analyzing the pigment on a canvas to understand the mind of the painter. Usually, it is better just to step back and appreciate the whole painting with an uncritical mind.
Faith is not scientific nor is it logical. Faith based on logic will be out-reasoned. Faith based on science will become obsolete. Faith is truly only faith when it is based on that which is far greater than any human mind can hope to comprehend but which the human “heart” is intimately familiar.
The truly faithful need no justification for their beliefs. But for the faithless, no justification is sufficient.
One of the definitions of “God” in my dictionary is “ruler of the universe”. Some may deny that the universe has a ruler but it certainly has rules. The rules of the universe cannot be broken. The rules of the universe are not necessarily the same as the “laws of physics”. As the so-called laws of physics are inventions of man reflecting his limited observation of how the universe seems to work. The laws of physics evolve with man’s understanding while the rules of the universe remain constant. Our scientific understanding has exploded exponentially over the last 1000 years so it is safe to say that 1000 years from now our current “laws of physics” will seem at least as archaic and laughable as those a thousand years before. But in all this time, the true rules of the universe will not have changed.
Did the rules of the universe exist before the universe itself? Why are the rules the way that are and not something else? Does “something” keep the rules of the universe constant? Perhaps a better question than, “Who created the universe?” is “Who created the rules of the universe”. Perhaps this “thing” we call God is that which both created and maintains the rules of the universe. Just a thought.
I think good religion is good for good people. It has been my frequent observation that religion tends to make good people better, bad people worse and the rest of us more neurotic. I believe the good use religion to validate their love, the bad to justify their hate, while the rest are thoroughly bewildered by the incomprehensible dichotomy of it all.
No, your religion does not necessarily make you a good person (some of the most evil people in history were devoutly religious souls). How well you privately treat people, especially those who can do nothing for you, makes you a good person. It’s as simple as that. If your religion keeps you on the right track and encourages some personal accountability, then yes, I’d say your religion is good for you.
Not exactly. The closest it ever comes is 2 Timothy 3:16-17, where it says scripture is inspired by God. Assuming, for the sake of argument, this epistle was not pseudepigraphical (it was) and that Paul was infallible (he was not), ‘inspired’ is a very ambiguous word. Some translations go so far as saying “God breathed” to make it sound more authoritative but unfortunately, “God breathed” is just an awkwardly literal translation for “inspired”. Furthermore, the “scripture” to which the letter is referring would have only included parts of the Old Testament as the “New Testament” would not have been written yet.
The Bible, as we have come to know it, is a collection of books in widely different genres, written by many authors (mostly anonymous) over thousands of years. It contains many quotes by God but nowhere does it say that the rest of the material was dictated by Him. If this was first hand testimony of actual events, it would not need to be. For example, God would not have needed to dictate a description of the Exodus to Moses since Moses actually experienced those events first hand.
I believe it is much more accurate to call the Bible the “Story of God”. I would certainly call it authoritative but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it infallible or inerrant. Besides, the true Word of God is not a book, it’s a living person named Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5). Just Listen and you may hear that God is still speaking!
I don’t really understand where the supposedly “Christian” idea that all suicides go to Hell comes from. But it’s certainly not Biblical. The Bible lists at least seven people who committed suicide. Some were heroes – some where villains. But nowhere in the Bible does it tell where the final destination of any of those persons was. (Judges 9:54, Judges 16:29-31, 1 Samuel 31:3-6, 2 Samuel 17:23, 1 Kings 16:18, Matthew 27:5) I am not arguing that suicide is not a sin. But as with all sins, suicide is not unforgivable. Perpetuating such a ridiculous notion to the contrary is unnecessarily cruel to the survivors and is therefore decidedly *un*Christian. What say we drop this ignorant superstition for good?
“Life is too short…” That’s what I hear. But I disagree. Some days life seems too damn long. This is what I’ve found: *Youth* is too short. But truly ‘youth’ is all in the mind. Make it last.
Scientists say the average person has approximately 70,000 thoughts per day. There are approximately 6 billion people on the planet. That’s over 400,000,000,000,000 thoughts. Let’s take an extremely generous estimate and say there are around 1 million truly original ideas per day in the world. This means that whatever you are thinking right now has only a 1 in 400,000,000 chance of being an original idea. Worse odds than the lottery. In fact, using these statistics, the average person would have an original idea only once every 20 years or so.
I suppose this can be either disheartening or an incentive to nurture those truly original ideas you do have.
One thing life has taught me is that rushing/hurrying is almost always counterproductive. Hurrying, as i understand it, involves pushing oneself beyond one’s optimal level. This leads to inefficiency, error and unnecessary stress. Speed is much better accomplished through focus and economy of action.
I’ve been thinking about why Christianity may be a hard sell for major depressives. First happiness and joy are completely alien and abstract concepts. The closest thing they have are euphoria and oblivion (probably the reason for the common chemical dependency problem). Second, Hell is hardly a threat. They already live there. What *really* scares them is more of the same.
So here’s the deal: Heaven to a major depressive is oblivion, while Hell is eternal life. See the problem?
OK. I’ll admit that I often have “bad luck” when it comes to thinking but I believe I may have hit on something here.
It seems to me that the main difference between philosophy and religion is this:
Philosophy is a practice that you believe while religion is a belief that you practice.
So, if this is true, which one are you, philosophical or religious? As for me, more often than not, I tend to wax philosophical, I’m afraid.
If ever you are tempted to use a trendy, Christian-specific cliche’ or code-word when a perfectly acceptable “pedestrian” word or phrase will do, please don’t. It’s very off-putting – even to me – and I’m a Christian. I still remember what it was like on the outside looking in. When two or more Christians were engaged in conversation, their choice of vocabulary often seemed very cliquish or exclusionary. But then again, that may just be me, and as many of you know, my view of the world is ever so slightly askew.
Regardless of what some particular verse in the Bible seems to say, I firmly believe that it is really, really hard to sin when what you do is out of (agape) love.
Not speaking from personal experience, of course but it occurs to me that all that is required for ‘success’ is that one’s natural proclivities be aligned with one’s natural talents. Well, that and a whole lot of luck.
The Bible says, “fish”. Popular culture says, “whale”. I think this may be a rare instance when popular culture got it right.
The problem occurs when we attempt to apply modern taxonomical nomenclature to sea creatures of Jonah’s time. The term, “fish” was applied to all manner of sea creatures, including lobsters, clams and yes, whales.
I think it is most likely a whale that would have swallowed Jonah. The creature’s mouth had to be large enough to swallow Jonah unscathed yet not allow Jonah to pass on through to the creatures stomach where he would have been injured be the gastric juices. Only certain species of whale fit the bill.
Also, the creature had to surface frequently to refresh whatever air pocket which allowed Jonah to breath during his ordeal. Otherwise Jonah would have suffocated to death. So whale it is, so far as I can tell.
Sure miracles happen, but from what I’ve experienced, most miracles are that of circumstance, coincidence or synchronicity. They usually do not violate the laws of nature. I prefer the most scientifically feasible explanation possible.