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View Poll Results: You are a...
firm believer 168 28.92%
Deist 18 3.10%
Theist 23 3.96%
Agnostic 120 20.65%
Atheist 252 43.37%
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Old 12-11-2007, 01:23 PM   #376
trickykid
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I actually saw this on Slashdot today in the comments of an article, thought it was pretty funny, wrong but funny nonetheless:

A Rabbi, a Priest, and a Lawyer are on the Titanic having a lively discussion about God and Law when the boat hits an iceberg and starts sinking.

"Save the children!" the Rabbi exclaims.

"F**k the children", the Lawyer snarls.

"No time for that!" says the Priest.
 
Old 12-11-2007, 02:17 PM   #377
jay73
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Quote:
But the God one believes in is' itself, a social and evolutionary construct. Just the same way as "knowlegde" you described before.
I would have to disagree there. First of all, you'd have to prove that it really is a construct. And for clarity's sake, let me point out that I take God as an ontological reality, not as a psycho-social concept. To put it more simply: I'm not talking about God as represented in the world's religious traditions but about God as God, independent of human views that are biologically, historically and culturally conditioned. We may cease to believe in God and even forget we ever entertained such a concept - but does that make God go away?
Such knowledge, by the way, is totally unlike scientific knowledge. Science proceeds from empirical evidence, faith does not. As for your claim that no one is expecting science to justify itself: how can empirical minds demand proof from believers unless they feel that empiricism has more truth to it than the alternatives. And it has - but only if one has already adopted the empirical mindset.

Quote:
Who says they need a reason?
Who says that they don't? Again, you're proceeding from a strictly empirical point of view. Empiricism is an extremely valuable tool. Scientific progress would have been a lot more modest if at some stage scientist's hadn't decided to leave theological issues to theologians and philosophical ones to philosophers. The real question is: should a tool that works well in one field be imposed on all other fields too?

Quote:
Another straw man: nobody is claiming that science "needs" to continue.
Ahem. Let's teach creationism in schools. Oh wait, why are they screaming bloody murder now?? You seem to ignore just how badly science "needs" to continue. And let's get this straight, I don't take the side of creationism. I'm just trying to show that the issue is a lot less disinterested than you seem to claim.

Quote:
This is also why scientists are always seeking alternate points of view.
Only to a certain extent. Scientific breakthroughs are generally the result of a new generation arriving on the scene. The old one is usually to fixed on its own favourite views. Which raises the question: is scientific progress the fruit of deliberate effort or a side-effect of changing historical and social conditions?
 
Old 12-11-2007, 02:39 PM   #378
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Quote:
Really? I'll have to ask for proof here. I'm of the thought that neither religion nor rationalism have been the main case of atrocious acts through history, rather power was the main cause. With either reason or religion being just one of a myriad of excuses used along the way.
That's a lot more than was stated in your previous reply and it makes a lot of sense. In fact, it was exactly what I was suggesting (or trying to...). Just let me add that not all religions go hand and hand with power. As for the proof your requested, I could quote anyone from the lineage of Genghis Khan to Stalin, all of them atheists or largely indifferent to religious matters but also mass murderers who succeeded (if one may call it such) only because of an outspoken interest in technology, science and rationalization.

Quote:
It seems in that article that the feeling was triggered not by "God" but by focused electromagnetic stimulation. That kind of throws your argument here right out the proverbial window.
Not necessarily, about anything can be simulated. Does that mean that it thereby loses its claim to authenticity?

Quote:
I must assume that you think "God" is a reasonable proposition. Why?
Because God is the only absolute concept we can think of. Whether such a concept is required or desirable would depend on one's sensibility and experiences, though.

Last edited by jay73; 12-11-2007 at 03:14 PM.
 
Old 12-11-2007, 02:43 PM   #379
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Quote:
What are the absolute moral values your religion provides?
Mine? Distrust anyone who pretends to know. You should distrust me too. I'm sure you already do.

Quote:
What is the universal truth about something?
I'll let you know when I get promoted to CEO of the Universe.

Quote:
What is the purpose of our life?
Finding out, looking as far as we can see. Period.

Quote:
We have a dogs nose, a bats sonar - actually much better, and we can see the whole spectrum of light because we have built machines to do it for us.
No we haven't, that's the whole point. We may have all kinds of instruments to figure out the underlying principles - but we can't experience these things like dogs or bats would. That's one of the questions that has been animating AI and philosophy of mind: if we build a robot that behaves exactly like a human being, would its experiences be the same as those that a human being would have? I doubt it. There is a lot that gets lost if you take an exclusively empirical or mechanical point of view.

Last edited by jay73; 12-11-2007 at 03:15 PM.
 
Old 12-11-2007, 03:11 PM   #380
jay73
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Quote:
So a good reason to believe in God is to justify existence of universal truth in the mind of a believer? As you mentioned, belief in any God is enough and that in turn just brings up some universal truth. Isn't that just plain self-deception? What are the gains? Peace of mind? Please elaborate further.

EDIT: "some universal truth" is very absurd concept. there oughta be only one universal truth (whatever it is) but saying "some universal truth" puts that universal truth actually in plural form, thus mentioning possibility of more than one universal truths which by simple logic isn't possible. at all.
Peace of mind? Maybe. I don't see what is wrong with peace of mind, people do all sorts of things to find peace of mind, from taking boring jobs just to get the bills paid to the sort of fun that many give themselves over to in middle-age when old age and death suddenly become realities. Or maybe it is (also?) a matter of personal inclination?

"Some", by the way, is not necessarily plural. Anyway, what I meant that we only know what we can know (and often less) and that THE truth is beyond our reach. There are a million factors that get in the way, from biology and psychology to history, culture and tradition. I have my doubts about religions that rely on authority but if they can give you a sense of universal truth, they are acceptable too.

Last edited by jay73; 12-11-2007 at 03:16 PM.
 
Old 12-11-2007, 04:18 PM   #381
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
Just let me add that not all religions go hand and hand with power. As for the proof your requested, I could quote anyone from the lineage of Genghis Khan to Stalin, all of them atheists or largely indifferent to religious matters but also mass murderers who succeeded (if one may call it such) only because of an outspoken interest in technology, science and rationalization.
This argument is completely irrelevant for the exact same reason that I don't bring up any of the evil committed in a gods name. A thing to note about those regimes you mention is that, like religion, they were predominantly dogmatic, authoritarian and cult-like. Were the loyal followers of those tyrants all rationalists? Was skepticism allowed with regards to the party line? No.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
Not necessarily, about anything can be simulated. Does that mean that it thereby loses its claim to authenticity?
No, it means that that spot probably isn't what you think it is. For that region of the brain to be acceptable evidence of some sort of God Port of the mind, one would think that it would require a God Shaped plug. The fact that electromagnetic stimulation can activate it seems to imply that God is not necessary for people to think that a god exists.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
Because God is the only absolute concept we can think of. Whether such a concept is required or desirable would depend on one's sensibility and experiences, though.
Personally, I can't conceive of a god, so that isn't a valid statement.
I think Zero is a fairly absolute concept... I'm not a mathematician though, I'm sure theres some 0.000...01 = 0 (as a corollary to the 0.999... = 1 formula) equation out there somewhere, but that would involve the infinity concept. How about Nature? Nature is pretty absolute. Can you name something that exists outside of nature? ...Something real mind you.
Perhaps "God" is the only absolute you can think of. I would ask that you not imply that you know what others think though.

Last edited by truthfatal; 12-11-2007 at 04:19 PM.
 
Old 12-11-2007, 11:01 PM   #382
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I gotta include this:
http://www.ee.ryerson.ca/~elf/hack/God.vs.K+R.html
... a hackers response to a famous spam warning about the forthcoming arrival of Jesus. Translates many common evangelical terms into hacker terms so that hackers can more easily understand them.

And a note about absolutes: conception of an absolute is an exercise of imagination... including an absolute of absolutes. (Adding iterations is also fun...) However one conceives of whatever - it takes more than imagination to make something true.

So how would we tell if any of these ideas are true or not?

Last edited by Simon Bridge; 12-11-2007 at 11:07 PM.
 
Old 12-12-2007, 12:17 AM   #383
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
Peace of mind? Maybe. I don't see what is wrong with peace of mind, people do all sorts of things to find peace of mind, from taking boring jobs just to get the bills paid to the sort of fun that many give themselves over to in middle-age when old age and death suddenly become realities. Or maybe it is (also?) a matter of personal inclination?

"Some", by the way, is not necessarily plural. Anyway, what I meant that we only know what we can know (and often less) and that THE truth is beyond our reach. There are a million factors that get in the way, from biology and psychology to history, culture and tradition. I have my doubts about religions that rely on authority but if they can give you a sense of universal truth, they are acceptable too.
If seemingly peacefull mind through self-deception is the best thing to gain from having belief in God(s), then it's something I'm going to skip.

When you say "THE truth is beyond our reach", do you have anything to justify the claim? Then again, you really havent specifed "the truth" you are talking about so much so it's difficult to gve any counter-arguments for the claim either.
 
Old 12-12-2007, 12:20 AM   #384
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I don't really classify myself, but since there is no option, I choose "Atheist". I guess I believe in science and proof, and that the world and universe is far more complex and amazing than any religion will ever be able to explain, but I doubt that that was what "Firm believer" meant.
Understanding the world and the mechanisms that have all added up to give life is fantastic (not that "we" really understand anything at all), and that gives me peace of mind, realizing how unimportant and small your life really is in relation to the world and "time" itself, and that most of the stuff you do is just selfish.

I don't care wether people believe or not, as long as it doesn't hurt other people (whipping for being raped? Attacks on doctors performing abortions? Denying your children donor blood? etc.), I also get pissed off when people come to my door "to talk about jesus". I don't come to their door to talk about satan, science, sexuality or whatever.

Last edited by Hairulfr; 12-12-2007 at 12:31 AM. Reason: Added comment and "that"
 
Old 12-12-2007, 02:08 AM   #385
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The 10 Commandments:
Preamble... I was recently in a debate where a call was made to return to the biblical "Ten Commandments" as the only Law. A statement which begs opposition, and the proponent insisted he was quite serious. Investigation proved that he had not actually read the commandments, could only name four, and had no idea of their context (beyond the basic Moses and the tablets).


So a Bible was duly located and the commandments read out. My opponent found that he could publicly support only five. No killing, stealing, adultery, or graven images. But a yes to keeping the sabbath. He still thinks laws should be explicitly based in these commandments, but now realizes that they cannot possibly form laws by themselves.

This is the point. In context, the Commandments should be considered, not as a set of laws, but as a founding document for the new nation Moses hoped to form. It spells out the values that members should hold in common. Much like certain constitutions and bills of rights.

Many people who speak of the 10 commandments, I find, have not actually read them. What follows is a rough, 1st draft style, analysis of the Commandments as they are found in the King James Bible, Book of Exodus, first twenty verses. The purpose is to encourage more informed discussion.

They don't make much sense by themselves so some effort has been made to find a context for them. I am attempting to restrict context, as much as seems reasonable, to the time they were first proposed.

The format is to list the explicit commandment as written, followed by laying out the main points bullet style. Then there are notes and a brief discussion pertaining to interpretation.


Commandment #1: Exodus 20:1-3 (KJV) And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

1.1 No other Gods.

The first sentence describes what is meant by "God" and who is the "thou" in the second sentence.

Technically, then, this only applies to those who were brought out of Egypt (Moses' lot, and, by extension, their decendants.) Modern folk need not follow this one unless they want to. Could be extended to remove the protections provided by other commandments, but this is not explicit.

Note the "before Me" part? You can worship other gods, as many as you like, so long as the God (defined above) is first among them. Though the usual interpretation is more literal - no other gods while God is looking (physically "in front of"). As God is believed to be looking all the time...



Commandment #2: Exodus 20:4-6 (KJV) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

2.1 No graven image or likeness of anything that is in heaven, earth, or water.
2.2 Show mercy to those who "love God"
2.3 Obey these rules.

Notes:
2.1 makes no prohibition of idols to God, who is in all these places and none. Presumably the Christ-suffering image is permitted the same way. Pictures of angels and holy figures is prohibited. Does prohibit photographs ("any likeness of"). Allows likenesses of those who dwell in Hell.
2.2 implies that mercy is optional when it involves people who are not followers - makes opting out via commandment #1 less desirable. #1 may have been used to allow ruthless treatment of people who were not freed from Egypt by God.
2.3 is in the second commandment - implying exclusion of the first except under the aforementioned condition. But it is not explicit in this. Of course, 1.0 could be taken to be inclusive of all subsequent commandments... making the lot as applicable only to the people directly spoken to.

Curiously, this passage also makes a statement about the physical universe. God is telling us that there is water under the Earth. While there is water underground, that is not the sense of the statement. It would be better to say that there is earth under the water as the oceans, lakes and rivers (even underground) sit upon the Earth. (A white lie to provide a greater truth perhaps?)



Commandment #3: Exodus 20:7 (KJV) Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

3.1 Do not take My name in vain.
3.1.1 Cannot be held guiltless if you have done so.

Notes:
It is unclear what this pertains to. Most treat it as referring to a kind of swearing such as "Oh God!" and similar, but could also apply to the kind of oath like "With God as my witness" when you have no intention of being sincere.

This commandment indicates accountability (unspecified). Presumably applies to perjury, if you swear complete innocence, falsely, by God's name then you are "not without guilt" in some measure for what you are accused of. Even if you didn't actually do it, you are now complicit. A bit like aiding and abetting.



Commandment #4: Exodus 20:8-11 (KJV) Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

4.1 Remember the Sabbath day
4.2 Keep the sabbath holy

It is not explicit what this means. One presumes that the practices extant at that time on the sabbath should continue - manna-fall not withstanding. Refraining from work is a tricky one. Is it sufficient to refrain from practicing my profession, or must I avoid any physical or mental effort that is not conducive to keeping the day "holy". (May require medication.)

"Sabbath" is not defined. It is unlikely that Moses followers would have marked the days of the week with our modern names as these were unknown in Egypt at the time. Presumably it is intended that we follow the "7th day from the last sabbath" from the time of exodus. What with lost records, calendar changes, and so on, this is not possible. Perhaps it is sufficient to apply this rule to any day, provided we do it only one day in seven.

The rule is needed for practical administration - everyone has the same "day off" makes economics easier to anticipate than if everyone gets to pick whatever day they want. So standardizing the sabbath to an arbitrary day is reasonable.

It follows that people exempt in #1 are enjoined to accept a common holy day, whatever their faith.



Commandment #5: Exodus 20:12 (KJV) Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

5.1 Honor your parents (by extension - forebears)
5.1.1 In order to spend a long time in land given you by God.

If you do not live in land given to you (individually or as part of a collective) by God, then this does not apply to you. Similarly if you don't want to live there: you can go overseas and rubbish your parents as you wish.

Honor is subjective, for the most part. Also, one can honor ones parents and also disobey them. Doesn't say anything about honouring anybody else.

This is the first secular commandment and can be thought of as describing an idea on which to found a state. (A bit like life, liberty and all that.) In which case, we see a state set up with a system of obligation instead of a system of rights. USAians take special note.



Commandment #6: Exodus 20:13 (KJV) Thou shalt not kill.

6.1 Murder is prohibited.

Since Moses' people kept livestock and ate meat, suggests that this prohibition cannot extend beyond humans. Later acts of genocide permitted suggest that this dosn't apply to killing in warfare. We can read this as no killing that is not otherwise sanctioned by the state. However, the commandment makes no specification.

In conjunction with #1 and #2, this would allow warfare against unbelievers. Convert or die!

There is indication elsewhere in the Bible that God intends the faithful to be vegitarian. "Behold: I give to you every herb and fruit bearing seed, they are to be for you as meat." or something (genesis). However, that would be an unusual reading of the passage.



Commandment #7: Exodus 20:14 (KJV) Thou shalt not commit adultery.

7.1 Adultery is prohibited.

Usually interpreted as prohibiting sex with someone you are not married to, particularly but not exclusively if you are married already. Christ had comments to make about commiting "adultary in your heart" if you so much as lusted after anyone. But that is not an interpretation of these commandments, but a comment on virtue.


Commandment #8: Exodus 20:15 (KJV) Thou shalt not steal.

8.1 Theft is prohibited
... this should be considered qualified by the divinely condoned and ordered thefts involved in the settling of the "promised land". See 6.1.



Commandment #9: Exodus 20:16 (KJV) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

9.1 False Witness is prohibited - when you are speaking of your neighbor.

The condition leaves open the defence: "But he wasn't my neighbor." What counts as a successful defence in this case is unclear. It could be the family next door, in the same street, same village... or just anyone who is prepared to act as a caring member of the community (parable of the good samaritan). What is needed is examples, contemporary with Mosos, of false witness condoned. Then we can get a measure of what this means.



Commandment #10: Exodus 20:17 (KJV) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

10.1 Coveting property of your neighbour's is prohibited.
10.2 "Property" includes but is not limited to the following
10.2.1 House
10.2.2 Wife
10.2.3 Manservant
10.2.4 Maidservant
10.2.5 Ox
10.2.6 Ass

Of interest is that humans are listed as property, with male and female explicitly listed. "Husband" is, therefore, a noteable exception. From this me can construe that the "neighbor", of these commandments, is male. Women who are not immediate family would appear to be property (no mention of family members being property though that is not excluded.)

As you can own another human, keeping slaves is permitted. You're just not allowed to covet them, when they belong to someone else.

Crimes of property (murder, theft) are already forbidden. This makes it wrong to just think about it. It also makes commerce tricky - can only trade in essentials. A possible loophole would be if the seller provides the desired item as a gift ("What's mine is yours"). The buyer humbly returns all un-coveted gifts and a donation of money. This works because you are allowed to covet what is yours!

Of course, there is a stronger sence which prohibits you from thinking of something as yours when it isn't... like when you borrow something, you must give it back in good condition. The whole point here is to regulate behavior towards property. Remember, these are supposed to be former slaves. Their concepts of property are likely to be a bit different from Moses', who was from the ruling class.


Note that these rules should be considered a "code of conduct" upon which laws and a nation may be built. Like a constitution. Actual covetousness is unlikely to be enforced of itself, but describes "proper behavior" for someone who wants to take part.

Overall, Moses seems to be attempting to form a state based on obligation and abstenance as opposed to "rights" (which are a modern concept anyway).

Scope in modern times:
It can be interesting to see how modern behaviors come into these rules.

Identity theft, for eg, is not theft (you still have your identity), but covetousness ... it is treating someone elses identity as your own. What it is used for could end up being theft though.

What about spamming? Malware? Botnetting? Is the content of your inventory in an MMORPG a "possession"? What about killing an MMORPG character? Is "coding" always "work"? If you telecommute, on the sabbath, across the international dateline, to work... are you breaking the sabbath? What if you work there is "holy"? What if you physically travel across the dateline? (Technically, I could set up a ship so it lies across the dateline, so that crossing it is a matter a few steps (say) or getting out of bed.) Fun, isn't it?
 
Old 12-12-2007, 02:57 AM   #386
XavierP
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Much of the Bible comes down to interpretation of individual words. "Neighbour" for example. Does this mean your next door neighbours, the members of your village/town, other Jews? Lest we forget, there are very very few Christians in the Bible - most of the starring parts are Jewish. Therefore, we could interpret "neighbours" as "other Jews" which puts an entirely different complexion on the messages found there.
 
Old 12-12-2007, 11:11 AM   #387
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Quote:
Commandment #6: Exodus 20:13 (KJV) Thou shalt not kill.
I've read in rabbinical literature about this commandment stating that this is mistranslation - actually in Hebrew is states "not murder", which brings the whole new way of discussion.

I am positive that there are plenty mistranslations - it is almost impossible to make identical translation from one language to another, even similar words meaning slightly varies. If these are literal words of god (as some believe), then they were given in Hebrew, and according to the Babel story god create different languages to make impossible for people to collaborate. Might be feasible to assume that god in all his wisdom made languages different enough to render the job of translators useless, and then following the logic for you 'true believers' - you need to learn Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek (new testament) to really understand the word of god. BTW: I think Muslims don't believe in translated quaran just for this reason - they all are supposed to learn it in original arabic (at least it promotes learning of a foreign language).
 
Old 12-12-2007, 11:18 AM   #388
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Hello,

Quote:
Originally Posted by trickykid View Post
The universe is big, I mean very big. We are only a very small part of it, very small. We are still in our infancy when it comes to technology and intelligence. We are still very barbaric and stupid. Humans are stupid and will hopefully one day learn from their mistakes as intelligent animals.
The whole of creation speaks of and points to the Creator.


Quote:
Originally Posted by trickykid View Post
Life according to most scientists emerged around or before 3500 Ma. So what was your God doing the first billion years after the Big Bang? Oh wait, he said, let there be light. That wasn't the Big Bang, cause if he was talking about the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, that would mean our Sun was our light source, not the Big Bang. And of course we can't prove what existed before or where the matter came from by the Big Bang theory, there was an explosion and all the evidence went kaboom.

To me the bible leaves out a very high percentage of details. Perhaps if your God wants to prove his existence, he should write his own bible instead of allowing men with freedom of thought write such things to fabricate why they exist.
It should be noted that the Bible is not a scientific textbook. While it does contain scientific truth within it, its primary purpose is not to teach a college science course. You won't find in it <God first created the strong nuclear force and then the weak nuclear force and these are the formulae that He used> - but it does tell us that He did create everything from nothing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by trickykid View Post
And the priest you speak of is Georges Lemaître? Was more of a Physics Professor and Astronomer. Anyone can be a priest or minister. I can get certified to marry people online for crying out loud. And he noted that the universe was created from a primeval atom, which paved the way to the Big Bang theory that involved more than just himself and his theories at the time. He's credited for it but didn't really come up with the whole theory we know of today as the Big Bang all on his own, he got a lot of help from Alexander Friedman. Both found that the universe must be expanding. Lemaître went further than Friedman, since he concluded that an initial "creation-like" event must have occurred. But really all of these theories derived from Hubble's Law. Hopefully you know what that is so I don't have to explain it. And being a priest means nothing really on the Big Bang theory. I'm an Atheist and still conclude it's still a theory, but it seems more realistic and proof than any known bible on this planet that man created has about our very large universe with a lot of unexplained things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trickykid View Post
And the priest you speak of is Georges Lemaître? Was more of a Physics Professor and Astronomer. Anyone can be a priest or minister. I can get certified to marry people online for crying out loud.
Father Lemaitre was a Jesuit Priest, and the Jesuits are usually involved in the sciences. But, that doesn't make him any less of a Catholic Priest.

And maybe its easy to become a Protestant minister, but to be a Catholic Priest, it requires years or formation. There is a lot of formation - and not just intellectual. For studying, the intellectual formation, it takes as long as any other advanced degree takes - 4+4 years. And the seminarians do earn advanced degrees, Masters, Licentiates, Ph.D's. There is also spiritual formation, human formation, and pastoral formation. The seminarians grow in prayer and holiness and the ability to relate to other people.
 
Old 12-12-2007, 11:21 AM   #389
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Hello,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeebizz View Post
It makes one wonder, how can a human with such limited intelligence can come up with something as abstract and infinite such as a 'god'. It has to be pure imagination, and no real evidence at all.
All humans innately know that there is a God. But to know what the Church knows (which isn't even the whole story), requires the active revelation from God.
 
Old 12-12-2007, 11:23 AM   #390
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Hello,

Quote:
Originally Posted by XavierP View Post
Jay Pinkerton's Back of the Bible highlights some of the odder things about the Old Testament. Hosea is pretty good
I took a quick look, and from the little bit I saw, he has a limited knowledge of biblical literature.

Beyond that, he uses profanities and blatant blasphemies prolificly. When someone does that, they immediately lose any credibility with me and I don't listen to a word they say. If they are too stupid to use language properly and show respect for God, I won't waste my time on any other idiocies spewing out of their mouths.
 
  


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