Monday, April 17, 2006

THEISM: Deal or No Deal?

Kodijack has an interesting topic going on currently, regarding his views on various points of theism vs. atheism. It’s had me thinking, as it's a fascinating topic (I love to chew on this kind of stuff) and I have decided to set up a forum while I’m temporarily tied up with other items of life.

Here’s what I’m wondering:

If you believe in God/a higher power, exactly why do you believe? What is the personal epiphany you've had that has caused you to so greatly "walk in faith"?

If you do not believe, what then is the fulcrum for your balance of what is “right” and “wrong”? If there is no God/Divine Being to place the fingerprint of morality within humans, then how is any point of reference, anything other than arbitrary?

Please note: I am not equating "being religious" with "belief in God". While they can and do go hand in hand regularly, they are not the same. Just as one can go through dogmatic motion with a dead heart, so can one have true and pure belief and trust in a Holy Father without being confined by additional rituals laid out by man. I am also not saying that to not believe in a Supreme Force makes you morally or ethically wrong. I just wonder that if all is by chance, how can there be such an absolute? How can there be conscience without supernatural guidance?

We’re all friends here – let’s be respectful of each other. I’m just asking becasue I'm curious. You are welcome to post anonymously if you prefer, and if you feel your response would be too lengthy to post in a comment, I’d encourage you to maybe tackle it in the form of a post on your own blog. Just let me know if you go that route so I can come check it out ;). C'mon - this'll be fun!

I’ll be back hopefully soon. Until then, talk amongst yourselves.

34 comments:

Nelly said...

I believe in God. I have said many times that I am a practicing Catholic. I believe because I was raised this way and I truly believe that Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose from the dead so that one day, when we die, we will have eternal life with all of our loved ones that have gone before us.

I have often wondered if what I believe is true, but I have faith that it is. I guess that is my reason...I have faith. Whether it be true or not, this is what I believe and this is how I live my life.

You and I have also discussed that there are many Catholics that have stopped believing and I think it is because being Catholic is hard work. There are "rules" to being Catholic and I feel that people think these rules should change with society because times have changed, but you either believe in them, or you don't. If you claim to be Catholic yet don't follow the rules, then you are a hypocrite.

I believe in miracles, I believe in life, I believe that everything happens for a reason...good or bad.

Kristi said...

Everything happens for a reason could very well just be fate. I don't really believe a higher power is controlling what happens to me or anyone else. I believe in being in the wrong/right place at the wrong/right time.

That's all I'm saying on this right now. I have been reading Dale's since he posted and knowing him as I do, it's something he has talked about to great lengths, just not on his blog.

It is a very interesting topic and has certainly sparked many comments. I think I'll go make a comment on Dale's finally.

Kodijack said...

Well I have made it very clear that I do not believe in any sort of higher power whatsoever. My parents took me to church, but after I started thinking about it a lot I started looking around, reading a bit and realized that a higher power is just not possible for me to believe in.

Right and wrong are culturally based, and society will only allow so much wrong before it does something to rein it in.

This has been fun, its been very interesting to read what Nelly has to say.

Mitch said...

I used to be a very "churchgoing" kind of guy. After watching the result of extreminsm both overseas and here in the US, I'm really examining the role of the church as meaningful institution to help in people's lives. However, lack of a spiritual life. . .that's hard to just let go. And it's hard to keep any kind of solid faith without some community. So -- no easy answers, eh? I really appreciate your blog here. You might find my blog worth looking at too, especially if you like music and/or technology. Just click on my name or icon. You should convert some of what you have here to a podcast.

McSwain said...

Hey lady--I don't make any secret of the fact that I am a believer. Between you and Dale and some other things that have come up in my life lately, I think I'll do a post on why I believe on my own blog later this evening.

martie said...

I believe in a higher power and that for me is God! I don't know how I couldn't believe. I have no other explaination for the strength I had to get through the death of my first spouse and the strength to deal with my small children and help them through it as well.

Also, four years ago I had open heart surgery and the calm I felt going into the surgery was a direct result of the Lord answering my prayers.

I believe what I believe through blind faith as the Bible teaches me.

Bougie Black Boy said...

very interesting questions you pose. However, i've met people who don't believe in a God, a higher power. YET--their goals, aspirations and simply the way they treat others, was no different than mine--or even yours perhaps.

In short, I believe that even if you believe in a blade of grass. At least something gives you hope at the end of the day. And, ultimately, that's what it's about. Finding solace.

Tirithien said...

I used to be Catholic.

That stopped when I was in high school, as I started thinking for myself a little more, and questioning a lot more. Why must priests be male/celibate? Why can't I have a freaking burger on Fridays?

So, with thought came modification, ending back to where I am. Theist, sure. Male and female aspects of the Divine, with a healthy respect for the natural world. It works for me. :-)

The Editor said...

My belief in God began early in my childhood. My parents did not take me to church. I developed a relationship with God in my own way. I talked to God like I would talk to person. I did this mostly at night before I fell asleep. I was afraid a lot growing up because my father was abusive. Talking to God made things seem better. I can remember my mom giving me a huge bear that she had gotten from a man who liked her. I remember crawling into the bear’s arms at night and telling God that I needed a hug. I felt like God was hugging me. That is the kind of connection that I have with God.

There are so many things that I don’t understand about life. I don’t know all the answers to questions of why some things happen and some don’t. I do know that God exists and having a spiritual connection is healing and comforting.

I’m not much into church. I don’t relate to any sort of specific belief system. In visiting churches, I feel most comfortable in a Unitarian setting. I do visit the local gay church but it is only because I need a gay connection, otherwise I would not visit.

I’m not much on religion but I value spirituality. I respect the way another connects spiritually. I would not expect someone to connect spiritually the way I do because the connection is unique to the individual.

Rebecca said...

I do believe that there is something greater than I - but I do not believe in organized religion. I believe that "everything happens for a reason", even when sometimes I don't understand what that reason is. I do believe that while there is probably a predetermined fate for us - we make the choices to decide what paths we walk to get there. And most importantly, I believe that it's most important to practice being a good person, rather than being a good "Catholic", "Jew", "Muslin"...or fill in the blank. No matter what "God" one does or doesn't believe in, we all need to be good to our fellow man.

bigwhitehat said...

As a former atheist, I have to say my old way of thinking was based on circular logic and doesn't make any sense. This world is indeed a grand design and that demands a designer.

Godless people search for purpose. I don’t have to. I am not a hapless hopeless derivative of primordial slime. I am the masterpiece of the Master. It truly pains me that all folks don’t view themselves that way.

It is weird that people seem to be commenting more on religion than on the existence of God. But this is consistent with the confusion some have over good and evil. The denial of God is usually predicated on a desire not to acknowledge a moral system. Therefore trouble with religion often turns into denial of the Almighty.

Don’t expect a lot of discussion or debate from me on this Clew. I don’t suffer fools lightly. Despite the fact that I was once a fool, I don’t waste my time with anyone who is not earnestly seeking answers. I do not respect the opinions of atheist. Sorry, those opinions are too ridiculous to deserve my respect.

jgf said...

I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that He died and rose again. I believe that He will return for those who believe in Him. I did a post in January regarding my epiphany that God loves me. You can read it here http://juanitagf.blogspot.com/2006/01/loved.html

naive-no-more said...

Though I have questioned His almighty wisdom and the ways in which He sometimes work, I have always and will always believe in God.

Structured religion is a part of my life, but one that takes a back seat to my personal relationship with God and others in my life. There seems to be a lot of politics and even more hypocracy in any given church body. But I also think it's important to surround yourself with other believers.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and that people are brought together to fulfill a purpose.

Look at the complexities of our world. The sun rises and sets everyday. How can it do that without a God?

Look at how cells from men and woman can meet and instantly form a heart and a nervous system and a blueprint for the personality of that future person. Where did it start if there isn't a God?

I know there are some that could come up with some pretty good rebuttals for all of this, but this is the way I believe.

Pirate said...

I am a believer. I beleive there is a creator (God) and i also believe there is a Master of darkness, i.e. devil, satan.

My life's experiences and common sense tell me this is true.

As for the idea that one can only be morally good through religion, i think that's weak and wrong.. Non-believers can be as morally ethical as any God fearing person. I do not think religious people have a monopoly on what is good.

i also think it takes as much faith not to believe. As a believer being wrong will only make me worm food. What am I out? I did not lose anything in the belief. I had a blue print to live my life by and I hope I did well for myself and to others.

As a non-beleiver being wrong could be a real problem.


I am always amazed by either side of the debate who take it personal that the other side doesn't agree with them.

clew said...

WOW ... Thanks to everybody thus far for participating in this discussion! As a few have touched on, I wasn't really getting at religion so much as belief in God. Being religious is much different than being a theist. I am also not saying that to not believe makes you morally or ethically wrong. I just wonder that if all is by chance, how can there be such an absolute. If it is because we are creatures of reason, why is that? Evolution? I personally find it more logical to believe in Divine Presence for that one. But I love to hear the thoughts of others on it ...

Please continue, and thanks again.

ericdheimer said...

Our purpose on this Earth is to determine our salvation.

I truly wish I had more time today to expound on this beautiful subject.

I'll check back tommorrow.

Kodijack said...

Clew are you asking if because of reason (and because evolution allows reason) that we come to realize that its not possible for us to be as great as we are without a being to set it up?

Then no, I believe that we are as smart as we are through environment and continued intellectual development, there was no higher power to put it in place. I also believe that it is our nature to continue to look for who is responsible and it is a lot easier to give that credit to an unknown being then to evolution and group thought.

Native Americans believed in higher powers, as has most cultures. It is human nature to not want to have the ultimate responsiblity for our continued success as a culture.

clew said...

Kodi - Duly noted, friend. But I still feel it's not the want to shirk ultimate responsibility, but a designed-in, God-shaped hole in our makeup.

We just have different views. I'm glad we can discuss them without throwing cheap shots :)

Kodijack said...

Cheap shots? What happened to honest debate in our culture? Well, not debate, but it was an interesting day, thanks for continuing it.

bigwhitehat said...

"evolution allows reason."

Yeah unless your reasons are out of sync with said evolutionist.

This also begs the question, "Evolution of what?" Evolution of species? If so, what are the reasons that there are no transitional life forms in the fossil record? How do you reason away the obvious design of the eye or the pyrotechnic devices of the bombardier beetle? What are the statistical probabilities of those things happening by mutation? How do you reason away the complex design that is our environment? Reason?

I hope you're trying to convince someone else. Because I'm not buying your gobbledygook.

I spent too much of my life buying into the lies of evolution and mumbo jumbo geology. The honest study of science did more to change my mind than anything else. Evolution is dogma. It does not allow for reason. By the time I turned 20, I out grew the evolution fairy tales. Now I deal with truth not pseudo science.

How sad it must be to believe that right and wrong are determined by cultural mores. How vain life must be with no moral compass. Right and wrong must be based on something deeper than the mood of the day.

clew said...

Hey Kodi - in case there was a misunderstanding about my cheap shots statement, I was being serious! The smiley just meant I'm happy about that, not that I was being a smart aleck. I like the way we can so strongly disagree about something, yet can share our ideas without being rude or nasty, as these discussions tend to turn. That's how we fortify what we do believe, with much thought and study and by discussion. I happen to think that discussion with those opposed to your own views is just as important as with those of like beliefs.

Bainwen Gilrana said...

This was a very complicated answer, so I just wrote a post about it on my theology blog. :-)

BabyGirl said...

I believe.

ericdheimer said...

The existence of God is manifest in all things. Many scientist and educated people come to the conclusion of an Archetic when realizing the vast complexity of life, matter and that which is known and unknown.
When matter is broken down to its smallest known forms, most established "laws" of science fail to explain why everything works. Theories of relativity, string and particle offer no solution to why the earth revolves around the sun, why my fingers are typing or why a leaf falls to the ground the way it does.

As to athiest, they are typified as a religion unto themselves. They self worship-usually to the point of vulgarity and vanity. I appreaciate one of the responders that appears to at least take a humble approach to thier ..thiesm.

As to worshiping rocks and plants, that is a foolish endeavor if looked at in the larger picture.

Does God map our every moment?Doubtful. Did this being set into motion events that have a predicatble general outcome? Absolutley. Does this being ever reach out and give us more information or rain joy or pain? Yes.

Biblical, Eastern, and Ancient histories all point to a Creator with common historical events. There is eve mention in Indian folklore of a white being during the "risen" time of Christ's history.

Faith is like the air we breathe-without there is not life even though we can not see it.

Peace unto all of you.

It's Just Me said...

I guess I would be one of those 'hypocrites' that considers herself a Catholic, but doesn't necessarily agree with all the rules. ;) (Honestly, no hard feelings here. That's just me being cheeky.)

I kind of see it this way - I can love someone (husband, child, best friend, etc.), but not have to love everything about them. I can be 100% devoted and faithful to them even though I may not agree with all their actions or personality traits. By the same token, I can love and be a part of the Church but still disagree with some of their teachings.

Anyway, that's just my 2cents.

I wrote up a more detailed response in my blog.

Great topic, Clew!

speckledpup said...

I am the daughter of a pentecostal minister. I am a 6th generation minister's kid. I believe very strongly in God, in the trinity, in creationism, in life after death.

About 6 years ago we left the church my dad pastored. He had been the only pastor I had ever had. The church we went to had a very charismatic pastor who told us that we needed to know what we believed and why we believed....not just quoting all our sunday school memory verses from rote.
I took a year of examining everything I believed. - Salvation, baptism in the holy spirit, holiness in dress and in walk, drinking, gambling, etc.
It was the best thing I've ever done for myself. I changed alot of my thoughts ... because i found them to rooted in fundamentalism and not in my concrete belief.
I can back every belief I have with scripture and most often with a testimony.

I haven't met an atheist yet, who could. I would love to talk to someone who could back their belief as well as I can back mine. Not to argue...but to understand where they're coming from.

Also... I can truly understand being in a point of despair and not believing in anything...god, faith, people... i've been there.

Tracy said...

I believe in God.
When you believe in something it kind of makes things feel alright! Kind of like when you were a kid, there was always someone you looked up to, and they made you feel like you could accomplish anything. That is how I feel about God...Anything is possible!

Bill Scott, Sr. said...

English is an iteresting language. You can have a word like Theist and when you throw the letter "A" in front of it; it becomes the exact opposite. Here are some examples:

Theist - Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.

Atheist - One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods

Gnostic - possessing intellectual or spiritual knowledge

Agnostic - One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

Muse - To be absorbed in one's thoughts; engage in meditation; literally, to think.

Amuse - to stupefy, to stare stupidly; literally; not to think

My friend Ray Comfort wrote a book that I love, it is called, "God doesn't believe in Atheist". It is very interesting. Here is a cool sight to look at on whether we are good or not. (No this is not an ad....lol).

http://www.livingwaters.com/good/

Just my two cents....thats all.

JenCB said...

I am neither theist nor athiest - one might best describe my feelings on the matter as pantheism. Where a theist might say there is good and evil forces in the world, I would take the position that there is aggressive and passive forces in the world.

My moral compass of right vs. wrong has roots in my partially Baptist, partially Methodist, and partially non-denominational upbringing - those values that are instilled at an early age often stay with an individual for life. It is a common credo among most paths of faith to treat one's fellows with the kindness and respect one would wish to receive in kind, and it is to this that I try to adhere.

Kelly said...

For my own personal self (and I believe that is who we are responsible for in the long run) I believe in God.
I have often wondered though how someone can be an Atheist~~it's so confusing to me how someone can be so against something that they vehemently insist doesn't exist in the first place.
I'm so blessed that God has instilled in me a simple mind which only needs to follow what my heart and soul tell me is right.~~~~for me.

Bainwen Gilrana said...

But not all atheists are of the rabid evangelical variety, just as not all Christians are out to convert the world. In fact, most of the atheists I know are pretty easygoing about it, sort of in a "Well, I don't believe in God, but it's cool if you do" sort of way.

Bill Scott, Sr. said...

Bainwen gilrana,

I agree with you 100% in regards to your post. No arguments from me on that. People are in different places and are committed to different things or what not at different levels. I have friends who do not believe in God and I have friends who do. Some are passive and some are not. So I totally agree with what you said.

bigwhitehat said...

I'll post a spin off Clew.

amygeekgrl said...

interesting questions and answers. :)

i believe in a higher power, though i don't know what that higher power is. i just feel that there is *something* out there.

however, my belief in a higher power does not influence my ideas of what's right/wrong or good/bad. i guess i believe in karma in that regard. i think if you live a good life and do what is "right," then you will feel good about yourself. it's not necessarily that if you do good things, then good things will come to you, but i do think that by doing good you put out positive energy into the universe and that can only help you in your life.