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only those who are actively listening for inspiration from God--even if it contradicts their own notions--are allowed to get any real understanding from the Bible. Given how many contradicting sects there are who all claim to follow "what the Bible says," I'm inclined to believe that this is an exceedingly rare gift.
How does one know if they have real understanding of the Bible? How can we be sure our understanding isn't flawed and someone else's if not correct, more accurate than our own. Doesn't that still circle back to your previous statement that you see in the Bible what you are conditioned to believe? (Confirmation bias.)
What basis can anyone have for alleging their religious beliefs are better, more accurate, or more correct? Since faith is by definition not grounded in empiricism or evidence, how can there ever be a religious foundation for impugning the validity of another person's religious beliefs? (There are of course valid criticism one can make from non-religious perspectives, from ethics, history, science, philosophy, and so on.)
I am atheist, but I am spiritual. I believe in the spirit realm, BUT, that it only exists within the confines of our skulls. There is no spirit world or dimension "out there", so to speak. I do not believe in an afterlife. I think that human yearning for a spirit world where all can interact with each other will one day lead to a technology that will enable that. Imagine having a spiritual/psychedelic experience with another mind... or, simply, a spiritual Internet - Spirinet.
Hey Dane, I saw a video presentation by a Mormon given to his adult bible studies group about the Technological Singularity and biological immortality. What do you think about that? I'll try and find it later. This is why I like talking to Mormons. They are open-minded enough to at least entertain such radical thinking.
Distribution: Debian Wheezy, Jessie, Sid/Experimental, playing with LFS.
Dane, thanks for the post I do appreciate the time and effort.
I'm about to get some breakfast, I'm starving lol, but I just wanted to say the reason I said about pulling quotes from others is that I am trying to understand your beliefs without reading a link you posted and thinking well Dane suggested I read this he believes this instead of that. Basically I'm trying to understand your beliefs and understandings because and you pointed this out yourself people should read the Bible and make up their own mind what they believe.
As for the Bible being edited etc, this is actually in response to you and Cascade, of course it has but like the books of Herodotus and Livy and other ancient writers we have a pretty good idea of what was written from other things such as Oral histories. Judaism was, and still is for deeply orthodox Jews, a belief system that was rote learned. Yes things such as word meanings change over time but contexts don't. An example of this is after the Fall of Man, the English bible says something like God was "walking in the Garden in the cool of the day". You would think he is out for a leisurely stroll but the Hebrew version is quite different it indicates he was quite cranky as he knew what Adam and Eve had done.
As for the JWs, my extensive experience come from family members of mine being JWs. I've had years of talking to them. The town I live near holds their annual convention and the TV station televises parts of it and yes they sing songs declaring Jesus as saviour but they do not believe in his divinity as he is to them a created being sent to earth for the expressed purposes of saving mankind. Muslims also believe Jesus was sent to earth, and would return again, for the express purpose of saving mankind.
As for the JWs, my extensive experience come from family members of mine being JWs. I've had years of talking to them. The town I live near holds their annual convention and the TV station televises parts of it and yes they sing songs declaring Jesus as saviour but they do not believe in his divinity as he is to them a created being sent to earth for the expressed purposes of saving mankind.
Well, those JWs really are a strange bunch I guess...
64. Jehovah's Witnesses use this verse (along with 1 Tim.5:19 and Mt.18:16) to justify their refusal to report or investigate incidents of child molestation unless two or three JWs have witnessed the event. If witnesses do not come forward (and they are discouraged from doing so since it would embarrass the organization), then the victim is told to be quiet about it -- or risk being disfellowshipped. 19:15
A bit disturbing...
Originally Posted by k3lt01
Muslims also believe Jesus was sent to earth, and would return again, for the express purpose of saving mankind.
Well according to them he is a Prophet, but definitely not the 'Son of God' because God cannot have sons.... Except that:
reed9, you bring up a very good point. The answer to your question about how can we "know" whether we have a correct understanding of the Bible is in two parts.
Part one: We can't. Thus, in order to understand the Bible, we must understand that we can be, and probably are wrong about all or part of our understanding. This doesn't mean that we should automatically believe everything somebody says about it, of course, but rather that we should keep an open mind about things in the way of changing our thinking if we notice an interesting way of thinking that supports our own life experiences and existing understandings of things we CAN truly understand, that we have not yet considered fully. (I maintain that very little about the material world--much less the spiritual one--is truly understood, and that our current understandings of it all pretty much amount to a lot of over-rated kludges [I think most sciences, for all their effectiveness and the evidence we DO have, amount to this]...but we do know a fair bit about what works and what doesn't.) So, the first step to understanding the Bible, much like anything else, I think, is to believe that we're probably wrong about most or all of it in some way or another. We may (emphasis on the hypothetical) truly understand the main drive of some aspect of this book, but chances are, we don't have a clue about the details. I think that those who "come to the table" with an open mind like this probably know more about it than those who don't, and are therefore more likely to have something worthwhile to say about the matter...but it's surely not a universal phenomenon.
Part two: If one is to believe that there are things in this world and universe that our measly 5 senses and very narrow scope of observation can't detect or comprehend, then one might also believe that some other being (God, etc.) has a better comprehension of things than we do. Much of the Bible, as well as other works of scripture from various religions, indicate that if we open ourselves to the unknown and possibly unknowable, then we can get information (i.e. revelation, inspiration, etc.) from some being, power, or force that is beyond our own limited senses, scope, and comprehension. Christians pray; Buddhists meditate; Hindus do quite a lot of things (ranging from meditation to sex to whatever else), but generally consider Raja Yoga ("Royal Yoga"--what we ignorant Americans call "Yoga") to be the highest form of religious practice. Ultimately, the goal of these exercises, in any form, is to reach out for unknowable knowledge. I think Zen Koans are great for this, but in my own belief, praying is better; personal preference probably plays a bigger role than we give it credit for. But I digress. The idea is that we can ask God, the Spirit, the Universe, the Ancestors, etc. for guidance, and if we are open to the truth, no matter how much we may dislike the answer (this part is key), then we'll get insight/inspiration/revelation on how to believe and proceed in our lives. Different people have different preconceived notions about what answers/information are "valid," and so we have many different and contradictory religions that all claim to have truth from heaven (or the equivalent). I think they're all right. I also think they're all wrong, just as people are pretty much always wrong about any given subject, even if only in part. Just like any person can be more or less willing to receive radical knowledge (i.e. stuff we don't expect or want to learn), so can one religion or belief system be more right than another. Still, they're all populated with people, so it would be foolish to say "mine is absolutely, universally right about all of existence, and yours is equally wrong." I do believe that Christ has a certain way that he wants us to believe, but I try not to be so vain as to assume I know all of it.
Coresay and reed9, that's some interesting stuff; I'll try to get around to reading it. From what little I did read from Coresay's link, I think that such singularities absolutely exist, but that the most or all of the truly major ones will combine aspects of what we now consider spiritually/religion with what we now consider technology, rather than it being just technology of some kind (however spiritual the focus). I'm of the mind that all truth--both religious and scientific--can be combined and circumscribed into one greater whole. When that happens, I believe we'll have a marrying of theology and empirical arts (sciences, etc.) that will change the world and the universe forever. Perhaps this will occur during the reign of Christ on Earth or after the resurrection (according to Christianity). If/when we all enter into the eternal realm with all the technology and knowledge we will then possess, that will be something to marvel at--and something I dearly look forward to. :-)
k3lt01, I appreciate your desire to learn of my beliefs, as well as those of others. I find other religions fascinating when their practitioners aren't being belligerent (as is quite sad when it happens). I appreciate the civility on this forum. I agree that the understanding of words can change to mean completely different things, such as in the Garden of Eden example you gave. I also think that since Christianity and Judaism are such "bookish" religions--clashing greatly with nearly every other religion of their time--back when total literacy was extremely rare--it's all the more important to carefully investigate where our books come from, and analyze how accurate our records of them are. If you're interested in this subject, I highly recommend Misquoting Jesus, by Bart D. Ehrman, as well as some of his other books; he goes to great lengths to make textual criticism something that the average person can understand (as greatly contrasted with how it is presented in the academic/scholarly world). Basically, since we put such absolute or near-absolute faith and trust in the Bible and/or other books of scripture, we'd better know how much of it is really part of the Bible that Jesus (or other religious figures) intended. I think it's a great book, and divinely-inspired, but if something's been added to or taken from those inspired works (the many books that comprise the Bible), I'd certainly want to know about it.
Thanks. I'll check that out tonight. Coincidentally, during dinner I watched the next episode of Star Trek TNG (working through them all in order) and what do ya know, it was about the Transhuman idea of mind uploading. Dr. Graves, an expert in cybernetics and Lt. Cmd. Data's "grandfather" who was about to die and uploaded his consciousness into Data. Hilarity ensued as Data was possessed by the eccentric Dr until it turned near tragic and the Dr then uploaded himself from Data into the ship's computer thereby releasing Data. Star Trek The Next Generation Season 2 Episode 06 - The Schizoid Man.
Coresay and reed9, that's some interesting stuff;
You all should check out the TED talk that Ray Kurzweil gave. The single simple idea that makes the Singularity idea seem very plausible and around the corner is Moore's Law; yes, the law that shows how computer processors double in speed roughly every 2 years. The curve of this increase is logarithmic, not linear. This is important. Humans have a hard time comprehending or detecting exponential increases in phenomena on an ordinary everyday basis. We usually think in linear terms. Anyway, Kurzweil shows how ALL technology advances at an exponential rate as one technology builds on the previous. So, pretty soon, we will be at a point on the curve that is near vertical, shooting towards infinity. Things will be moving so fast that we won't believe our eyes. And once someone creates a Strong AI program that can recreate itself indefinitely, watch out! This is the point of the Singularity; where change is so radical that it is impossible to predict the future. Like the singularity of a black hole, physics cannot predict what happens next.
Distribution: Debian Wheezy, Jessie, Sid/Experimental, playing with LFS.
Originally Posted by Jeebizz
Well, those JWs really are a strange bunch I guess...
Nope, not just "those JWs", all of them. Why all of them? Simply because they are not allowed to think for themselves. They must acknowledge, follow, and preach the official Watchtower dogma or they are shunned.
This is from their official website called watchtower.org
Originally Posted by http://www.watchtower.org/e/ti/article_06.htm
Had Jesus been Almighty God, those positions would have been his to give. But Jesus could not give them, for they were God's to give, and Jesus was not God.
JWs claim to be monotheistic,
Originally Posted by http://www.watchtower.org/e/ti/article_05.htm
THE Bible teaching that God is one is called monotheism. And L. L. Paine, professor of ecclesiastical history, indicates that monotheism in its purest form does not allow for a Trinity: "The Old Testament is strictly monotheistic. God is a single personal being. The idea that a trinity is to be found there . . . is utterly without foundation."
Was there any change from monotheism after Jesus came to the earth? Paine answers: "On this point there is no break between the Old Testament and the New. The monotheistic tradition is continued. Jesus was a Jew, trained by Jewish parents in the Old Testament scriptures. His teaching was Jewish to the core; a new gospel indeed, but not a new theology. . . . And he accepted as his own belief the great text of Jewish monotheism: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God.'"
and use this claim to support their idea that God is one person and no other should be given praise or worship. How is it then that
Originally Posted by JeeBizz
JWs also imply that perhaps Jesus is another 'god'?
Wouldn't this then logically falsify their claim to be monotheistic? If they worship Jesus, which they do because they recognise him as saviour even though he is NOT God, yet claim he is another "god" wouldn't this then make them polytheistic? Not, as they claim, monotheistic? Wouldn't the logical conclusion to this mean they are indeed actually Pagan?
Part one: We can't. Thus, in order to understand the Bible, we must understand that we can be, and probably are wrong about all or part of our understanding. This doesn't mean that we should automatically believe everything somebody says about it, of course, but rather that we should keep an open mind about things in the way of changing our thinking if we notice an interesting way of thinking that supports our own life experiences and existing understandings of things we CAN truly understand, that we have not yet considered fully. (I maintain that very little about the material world--much less the spiritual one--is truly understood, and that our current understandings of it all pretty much amount to a lot of over-rated kludges [I think most sciences, for all their effectiveness and the evidence we DO have, amount to this]...but we do know a fair bit about what works and what doesn't.)
While I agree our scientific knowledge is obviously incomplete, I would argue that especially in physics we do in fact know a great deal. And anyone who has ever stepped on a airplane is tacitly admitting that 1) knowledge is not relative and 2) they trust discoveries in physics.
How exactly do we define an "open mind"? Many times it seems when people use this phrase, they're really just saying, be more credulous. But how is credulity a virtue? An open mind should be willing to change according to the best available evidence, tempered by an understanding of previous knowledge (ie, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence). There are an infinite number of things we could posit to be true, but that doesn't mean it's open minded to entertain all of those possibilities. There might be pink vampire bunnies lurking at the center of the earth. I can't prove or disprove that hypothesis, but it's not close minded to discount the possibility and not bother spending time and resources investigating it.
I don't see how a deity is any different, except by popularity of belief. If there is a God who performs miracles, defined as something that breaks natural law, then there is no solid evidence for such a being. If there is a God who does not intervene in the world, who perhaps set things in motion and then stepped back, then nothing can be known or said about such a being and anyone's opinion is as good as another's. The most hateful, violent religious fanatic has as much right to claim they are doing God's will as the most peace loving nun.
Part two: If one is to believe that there are things in this world and universe that our measly 5 senses and very narrow scope of observation can't detect or comprehend, then one might also believe that some other being (God, etc.) has a better comprehension of things than we do. Much of the Bible, as well as other works of scripture from various religions, indicate that if we open ourselves to the unknown and possibly unknowable, then we can get information (i.e. revelation, inspiration, etc.) from some being, power, or force that is beyond our own limited senses, scope, and comprehension.
Doesn't this position simply amount to an argument from ignorance? There are areas we don't know, perhaps cannot know, therefore God?
As for revelation, how do you distinguish between a person who has had a genuine revelation, if such a thing exists, and a liar or a lunatic? I mean, Michelle Bachman claims God told her to introduce an anti-gay bill in Minnesota. I take her at her word that she believes this to be true and by the criteria you laid out, it seems she received "knowledge" through revelation. By my criteria, she's a loony. And how is Michelle Bachmann to distinguish between a genuine revelation and mental illness, or mere strong preference? Perhaps her gut reaction to homosexuality is so strongly negative, she mistook it for the voice of God. Do we trust our gut? It's almost axiomatic that we should, but why should we?
Part two: If one is to believe that there are things in this world and universe that our measly 5 senses and very narrow scope of observation can't detect or comprehend, then one might also believe that some other being (God, etc.) has a better comprehension of things than we do.
That's the reason for agnosticism. (For agnostic) There is no proof that a God exists, and there is no proof that it doesn't. Maybe a god exists, but it is not known for certain.
The good thing about such approach is that you're motivated to search for solution. If there is a problem with no known solution, it means that a solution may exist, but is not known yet. However, in all practical applications you'll still have to stick to whatever has been proved to be true.
Originally Posted by DaneM
Much of the Bible, as well as other works of scripture from various religions, indicate that if we open ourselves to the unknown and possibly unknowable, then we can get information (i.e. revelation, inspiration, etc.) from some being, power, or force that is beyond our own limited senses, scope, and comprehension.
The major problem I see here is the assumption that a god can (and is willing to) communicate with humans. In my opinion an omnipotent being may possess non-human intelligence which will make communicating with it impossible (I'd recommend to read "SOlaris" by Stanislav Lem). Another problem is that even if there is a being that can give away information and answer prayers, it is not guaranteed that this being is a god.