It's beneficial to believe

Discuss/post ghost stories etc!
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It's beneficial to believe

Post by MauEvig » Sun Apr 05, 2015 7:43 pm

Not so much a ghost story per say, but apparently believing in ghosts, spirits and the afterlife is beneficial to our mental health.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/di ... tal-health
I find that kind of interesting; because I have to admit I still struggle with the idea that we'll just cease to exist when we die, and I get really depressed and even angry when I think that way. When I'm in one of my depressed moods I often think life has no meaning, or purpose and that "this is it." Believing that there is an afterlife after we die, and having a purpose in that after life gives me feelings of hope and even relief at the idea that death isn't truly the end. Deep down the fear still lurks there.
But experiencing the Lexington Ghost tour, reflecting back on my own ghostly experiences, watching the videos where paranormal stuff is going on in them, hearing the tales of the different ghosts in different haunted places, it would be hard to dismiss all the accounts that happen world wide. Sure, some of them probably are easily explained away by natural phenomenon, but I believe that ghosts are here to guide and protect those who are still living.
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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by Murfreesboro » Mon Apr 06, 2015 4:51 am

Interesting blog.

I am certainly inclined to believe in the afterlife, as you know. But sometimes I get depressed when I hear stories like the one in that blog, about the little boy's ghost running around inside the house where he had died. I would rather think that a child's spirit would move on to some type of paradise, not be stuck in the house where his family used to live.

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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by MauEvig » Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:41 am

That is a good point. Most of the ghost stories I've heard were rather tragic endings. For me, the stories of animals really get me emotional, and I was saddest to hear about a few on the Lexington tour.
Still, nothing is more tragic or scarier than the prospect of ceasing to exist. I think some of us might end up trapped in our own personal torment at death, but at the same time I think that we are elevated to a higher purpose when we die. Maybe that is what angels are: Our loved ones who have come back to help us in life. It's a nice prospect. Not saying I believe in God or anything, but I want to believe in something to keep me a little sane. Just thinking everything is random and that we have no purpose, and when we die that's it just makes me down in the dumps. Not that other things don't: Not being able to find the kind of job I want depresses me as well. I might just have issues with depression and anxiety, but I refuse to take medication for it.
I certainly hope there is a paradise for children, or even a second chance at a new life. Either sound nice to me. I'm inclined to believe, but I think it's more of a hope that there is an afterlife than complete assurance. If there's a heaven I'm sure it's filled with beautiful winged cats. :lol:
For those who do get stuck in that "limbo" I think there's something that makes them attached to their old life that they aren't ready to let go of yet. Perhaps "unfinished business" if you will. I sort of got the idea from watching the Casper movie as silly as that sounds, but I have to wonder if there's a ring of truth to that. People who die suddenly might be more likely to be reincarnated or linger on rather than move on to the next plane of existence. But even if we die peacefully, I think there's still more to do in other lives. So I sort of think, or at least hope there's a heaven, but I think we have to go through several lives and trials before we're ready to go there. I sort of combine that belief with the theory of Evolution. Over time, bodies evolve, and so do souls. I think animals have souls as well. As the bodies change through genetic mutations, souls change as well to fit that persona. I hope that doesn't sound silly. When we do go to Heaven, our work isn't done. Our job then becomes assisting those who are still in the living world until they're ready to move on to a higher plane. I think animal spirits can guide us as well. This might be where the Native American beliefs come in.
So thinking of death as not the end, but the beginning gives us hope. I hope I'm right. I just hope there's something beyond life.
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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by Murfreesboro » Tue Apr 07, 2015 5:20 am

When I was a teenager I flirted with the notion of reincarnation, went to the library to read about the Hindu belief in it. The goal of reincarnation, as they see it, is to reach Nirvana, which is that type of "soul evolution" you are talking about. However, I got turned off by the imagery they used. The said that "The soul enters Nirvana the way a drop of water enters the ocean." Well, once a drop of water merges with the ocean, it loses its integrity as a water drop. The molecules are still there, but it ceases to be indentifiable as a drop of water. To me, that is a kind of annihilation too, very similar to "ceasing to exist."

It took me a few years, but I eventually accepted the Christian idea of the bodily resurrection precisely because I thought it was a guarantee that you would be you forever. The attraction for me is not about having a body forever--after all, it is supposed to be a "glorified" body that can walk through walls and stuff, so what kind of body is that? But it is still identifiable as you, forever. That's the kind of afterlife I want.

I do believe that animals will be in paradise. The Bible doesn't tell us one way or the other, although every image of paradise in the Bible does have animals in it. However, I think the notion of "salvation" just doesn't apply to them, because they never made the moral choice to fall (speaking theologically). The other reason I think they will be there is that human beings obviously are capable of loving animals, but I believe that all human love is simply a reflection of divine love. I cannot love animals more than the One who created them does. So if I want them to be there, how much more must God want them to be there?

Every once in a while I will see a story on TV about a child who appears to have an uncanny memory of a completely different life. I saw one of those stories within the last month, actually. I cannot explain these things, which certainly do seem to point toward reincarnation. Sometimes I wonder if that's what hell is--coming back here again and again, never getting to go to paradise. But then I don't know how to reconcile that belief with my own preference for eternal, individual, salvation. It's a conundrum.

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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by MauEvig » Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:13 am

Eastern religious beliefs like Hinduism and Buddhism are pretty interesting. If you're like me, you probably like researching different religions and beliefs. I can see why you wouldn't like the imagery they used, and I can definitely agree. That said; I think there's some truth to the reincarnation aspect of it but maybe not so much the "goal" end of it. In Hinduism the goal may be to become a drop of water in the ocean, and in Buddhism the goal is to become nothing, because being something and desire are said to be the cause of suffering. But there's something missing in both of those philosophies. In Hinduism the thing that's missing is one's individuality and in Buddism one sacrifices joy and happiness. The old adage is that money can't buy happiness. I don't think possessions can either. But I think feeling the love between those you care about does. For me that includes my animal companions. :) It also includes my boyfriend, my family and my friends. :) I do believe all living things are connected spiritually and for some the connection is stronger than others. I believe all living things are connected by evolution as well; which is supported by science considering all the similarities we share with other living things. We share 90% of our DNA with cats. We share 50% of our DNA with bananas! So I think it's safe to say that we're all "mutations" that formed after generations of evolution from the very first single cell. You roll the dice, and that's what you get. But at the same time I think when we die we maintain our singularity. I don't think that goes away when we die at any point. I think "Heaven" might be more of the Western concept of it; a beautiful paradise free of pain, death and suffering. Due to our own individual personalities, I think it might vary from person to person. It's possible we may get our own little section of Heaven. Mine no doubt would be filled with cats, and all my loved ones. Going by my personality I wouldn't mind having a few video games up there and all the chocolate I could eat without getting sick. :lol: My art would also be perfect up there. But some of these things are Earthly things after all. I don't think getting there is a free one way trip though. I think we have to continue to be reincarnated until we're ready for something like Heaven. Even then, we have duties to the living world. I think our "ascended" beings are something like angels. I also don't think that job is limited to humans because my beliefs also combine the Native American belief in Animal spirit guides. There are many animals out there that are already pretty intelligent and I think judging from my own interactions with animals, and what I have read about them, there's no way they don't have a soul. I think my aunt put it best when she said "If animals don't have a soul, then neither do people." Because scientifically speaking, we are animals, I think that makes sense. Elephants are a great example because their intelligence and sense of morality rank right up there with the Great Apes. Elephants have social structures and have been known to bury and mourn their dead. They will even return to the site of their dead loved ones graves later on. Social structures vary from animal to animal, but I think every animal has some sense of morality. I once saw a video on You Tube where a lioness defended her cubs fiercely against a male lion. Males in the lion world not only have protective manes to cover their necks, but they're also much larger than females. I believe this is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXb4XUi8ubg It's amazing how powerful the desire to protect one's loved ones is.
Even when I was a Christian, I believed animals had a soul, but a lot of Christians don't believe that. This is something that always bothered me when I was a Christian. (There were other things as well but I won't go into it.) I think what you said does make sense in that if there is in fact a God, he'd recognize that Heaven would not be Heaven without them.
I kind of believe that in a way actually. I think life and it's trials is Hell to an extent. But I don't see it as permanent. I see it as an opportunity to do better for others. I see life as a trial that we have to face over and over until we're ready for Heaven and ready for the next step. In some cases, some people may come back anyway even if they have gone to Heaven. I think it's partly a choice, and partly a "not ready" sort of deal. I don't think our actions in the previous life determine who we reincarnate as, but rather it's as random as Evolution is with the "rolling of the dice." (But I do think Karma does effect what happens to us in our current lives, because every choice and every action affects the outcome. I also believe in alternate realities, but that's another discussion altogether!) But I think we might be faced with different situations to determine our status. We may be good people in this life, but that's because we grew up in a humble poor environment where making ends meet is a daily struggle, and even getting a bite to eat and wondering when the next meal will come from. If that desire to give and be good to others wouldn't carry over if we were reincarnated into say, a rich and very wealthy family, then we aren't ready for Heaven. If that makes sense. Perhaps that could be the reconciliation. We're reincarnated over and over, but the number of times we face Hell depends on how much our soul needs to better itself. One of my friends who is a Christian says we face fire before we go to Heaven to be cleansed of our sins. Maybe the reincarnation over and over again is meant to cleanse us so we can learn from our mistakes. But sometimes, people might get worse and worse, and it's only those people who wind up in a never ending cycle until they realize they need to change. To quote MewTwo from Pokemon the FIrst Movie: "I see now that the circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant; it is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are." Our actions reflect the type of soul we have, but not necessarily the circumstances behind our birth and rebirth. We may not have been reborn as a punishment, it may be that we were reborn to continue to understand life, and find the truth within ourselves. I think some may have chosen this path to help people. I do think our families tend to run together, and I believe our soul mates come with us on this path and that our beloved animal companions follow us as well. "We're all connected in the great circle of life." -Mufasa.
My beliefs aren't all 100% in line with every religion out there. But I think there's a little bit of truth in every belief. That even includes Christianity. But I don't believe any religion has the whole truth, but pieces of a puzzle that need to be put together and figured out. Truth might not be universal for everyone either. These are my beliefs after all, I take what I like and think makes sense from different religions and combine them into my own belief. I come up with a few things on my own sometimes as well. Maybe I'm wrong. But I think as long as I do good to others, whether human or animal, that's all that matters. I also have a friend who combines Christianity with Wicca, and I think that's rather interesting.
I have looked into one religion that looked interesting at first, but then proved to be harmful since they discriminated against a certain religious group. They were a bit controversial, but they had some interesting beliefs. The constant hatred of the Jewish people is what stopped me in my tracks. Digging a little deeper, I realized it was a cult. Cults are definitely something to be leery of for sure.
I think intellectual honesty is admitting that we don't have all the answers, and being brave enough to say "I don't know." All of my beliefs are speculation and subject to skepticism. I have to remind myself that regardless of my beliefs, science has to take precedence. That said, I don't think I'll ever reconcile the idea of morality as a random process brought about to ensure survival and Evolution of a species. I also think morals are linked to the soul. Without a soul, do we really have morals? Aren't we just bags of chemicals and flesh? But I think that's where consciousness comes in. The question is, what is the purpose of it, why do we have it, and will it survive death?
In the end I think my beliefs do at least someone fit your requirement for an afterlife of having the ascended "glorifed" body that's identifiable and has our own personalities. But with that also comes a responsibility, because I believe "Great power comes with Great responsibility." I do think there's some kind of power that comes with having that kind of body. Maybe that's why we have to be morally ready for it.
I also will add that I think we need to revere and respect nature as well as balance.
I also hope you don't mind that I wrote a book here. ^^; I could go on and on about philosophy, religion and belief. I feel like I'm a born philosopher.
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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by Murfreesboro » Tue Apr 07, 2015 10:05 am

I don't mind that you wrote a book. You are thinking about your deepest beliefs. No one can put those ideas into a nutshell.

I was interested in your comment that "regardless of my belief, science has to take precedence." I might have said the same thing when I was younger, but now I don't see "science" as being the ultimate test or authority about things. I think the scientific method is a brilliant tool for many things, but it cannot be used for everything. Even scientists rely on faith more than they like to admit. After all, evolution is a "theory," which by definition means it hasn't been proven. Probably it can never be absolutely proven. This idea was brought home to me by reading Tom Bethell's essay "Agnostic Evolutionists," in which he interviewed a group of scientists called Cladists. They focus altogether on the structure of organisms, and they refuse to support the theory of evolution. For this they are shunned by the scientific community. Bethell asked one of the leading ones if he even believed in that theory. The man said, "As a matter of fact, I do believe in it. But isn't it interesting that you had to ask me that question in that way? Because, when you ask me what I believe, you are asking me a question of faith, not science."

I'm not one of those Christians who is anti-evolution, mind you. I don't care whether God created the world in six calendar days or took millennia and used evolution. But I thought that perspective was quite interesting.

Buddhism sounds a lot like Roman Stoicism. That philosophy has a lot in common with Christianity, but its "defect" of emotion--its unwillingness to regard as valuable anything outside our own control--makes it ultimately un-Christian. I think Christianity is the great religion of love. It is all about love, really.

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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by MauEvig » Tue Apr 07, 2015 6:52 pm

I'm glad you're open minded enough to listen. I know my family isn't and I think that might be another reason why I'm not a Christian. To be honest, a lot of it was forced on me as a child. Of course, some of the people I know who are Atheist try to impose that on me as well. It kind of makes me not want to be either. Yet I know good people who are either Christian or Atheist, and people who are neither. A lot of people who aren't are Pagan.
It's not necessarily that I think Science should be used for everything. Just that I think it should be given more weight than a simple hunch or even a guess. Also a little note on theories, a theory in science is a lot more than just an educated guess. It's something that's been validated and tested, or provides a strong body of evidence. The latter applies more or less to Evolution, although to a smaller degree it has been "tested." Antibiotic resistance is a form of Evolution in bacteria. Bacteria that contain a specific gene that makes it immune to antibiotics is more likely to survive and make more copies of itself. Fossils also provide strong evidence for Evolution, such as that of "tiktaalik", a really interesting ancient critter who may provide the link between fish and land dwelling vertebrates. Most creationists do accept a minor form of Evolution at least, but their argument is that it never actually becomes something else. Lions, Tigers and other cat species might share the same ancestor, to a Creationist however, that's true but they argue that they are still cats and never become anything other than a cat. But they have found evidence that an ancestor of cats once existed, and that cats share an ancestor with hyenas, and even further back, with canines. (That must have been some family feud when that split happened considered how dogs and cats don't get along! :lol:) It really depends on one's perspective. I grew up believing God made Adam and Eve and to take the Bible literally word for word. Somehow I overlooked the idea that dinosaurs existed before man, and that whales once dwelled on land. It's only when I was being told that humans evolved from apes that I started to flip out. So I suppose in that case; I have to go by what the evidence says. But I have to admit I might be slightly hypocritical because if I don't agree with the evidence presented to me, I'll try every possible argument imaginable to counter act it. A lot of scientists, like Stephen Hawking believe there is no afterlife. Perhaps it's an instinctive survival mechanism, that I so strongly oppose such a statement and that we're evolutionarily programmed to make sure that consciousness survives. Yet it's a popular study for discussion. Doctors are working to explain the phenomenon behind near death experiences. The problem though is that I want sound evidence for the idea that we aren't just flesh and bone, but something more in our conscious awareness. But there are some things we don't know yet. I'm hearing arguments for an afterlife from both sides and I tend to be a little biased in favor of the afterlife side.
Well I think that's what Christianity is supposed to be. If it were that simple I'd probably still be a Christian myself. However, there are reasons I'm not, nor do I believe in God. I respect people who are Christians though. I just don't think it's for me.
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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by Murfreesboro » Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:36 am

Oh, I agree with what you say about scientific theory. I was just pointing out that once something is absolutely proven in science it is no longer referred to as a theory at all. It becomes a fact. There is a difference.

When I was studying evolution, I was told that nothing alive today descended from anything else live today. IOW, people didn't come from apes. Apes and people came from the same ancestor.

I do think the creationists have an interesting argument when they point out that the theory of evolution runs counter to the principle of entropy that we observe everywhere. It asks us to believe that things go from lesser to greater complexity over time, whereas, insofar as we can observe things, the opposite is true.

Near-death experiences are an interesting phenomenon. They certainly appear to run counter to atheism, but they don't necessarily confirm any orthodox religious belief, either. I know I personally have never heard any scientific explanation for them that I have found convincing.

My daughter ( a high school senior) told me yesterday that they had started studying evolution and the origin of life in her biology class. Apparently they had been shown a video, and the narrator had said something to the effect that people used to think the origin of life was so complicated, only God could explain it. However, we now know that the origin of life probably wasn't that complicated after all. She said, "I didn't speak up, but I wanted to scream at them, 'You do know that you cannot disprove Intelligent Design by means of an experiment in which you yourself are the Intelligent Designer? You do know that, don't you?' " I was amused. She is a smart girl.

I suppose your last sentence or two were in response to my statement that Christianity is the religion of love. Of course there is more doctrine that that, yes, but I do think that is the essence of it. Many years ago I watched a TV interview with the English poet Stephen Spender, whom I had actually met when he was in residence at Vanderbilt. He was asked if he were a Christian, and he responded, "No, but I do think that Christianity has given the world a beautiful imaginative concept--that love can save the world. But I am not sure I believe that. I am not sure we see evidence of that." So Spender, though not a believer, was able to see that love is the essence of Christianity. And of course there is that great Medieval philosophic & aesthetic concept of God's love as an ever-blooming rose. The Medieval theologians believed that God's love was the engine powering the universe, and that even bad things had no power of their own, but were merely perversions of that love. They spoke of it as the opposition between charitas (charity, love of the right things) and cupiditas (cupidity, love of the wrong things). The Biblical verse that we translated as "Money is the root of all evil," they translated as "Cupiditas radix malorum est"--Cupidity is the root of all evil. Somewhere there is a Gothic cathedral that has a rose window on one side, and on the outside a wheel of fortune. Inside the cathedral you see the rose, but outside it you see the wheel of fortune, which dramatizes the capricious events of this world. The point is that whether you see the rose of God's love or the capriciousness of Fortuna depends on where you are standing--sacred or secular ground. I find all that aesthetic stuff quite profound, really.

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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by Kolchak » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:25 pm

You're young and you're looking for answers to lifes questions. We've all done it. Keep asking and keep looking. That's the only way you can grow as an individual.

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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by MauEvig » Fri Apr 10, 2015 8:48 pm

I plan to Kolchak. One cannot learn about the world around them unless they ask the big questions; like why are we here, what is our purpose and what will happen when we die? As I ask these questions and search for answers, my beliefs evolve as well.

Murf I think most scientists do treat theories as facts, but even "facts" are open to be disproved. Unlike Math which deals with proofs, Science deals with theories and hypotheses. A theory on punctuated equilibrium which stated that stress in the environment can drive evolution at a faster pace by forcing an organism to start out putting several random combinations of genes in the hopes that at least one of them will have a successful combination that will survive in the next generation. It's random of course, like picking the lottery numbers. When presented with such a theory, often scientists are met with ridicule until proven otherwise.

You also brought up an interesting point; one my Biology professor talked about actually. On other planets, molecoles break down into simpler substances. But on Earth, molecules are built up into more complex substances like organic compounds, proteins and sugars. Looking at how a cell actually works, you see it works a lot like a tiny microscopic factory that breaks down sugars, and produces proteins. Proteins can help build new tissues and repair damage done as well as express traits. It can also be broken down and used as fuel, though the body actually prefers simpler sugars. When I look at how complex and intricate the inner workings are, I do find myself puzzled how random selection can account for something like that. Scientists are figuring out how it works, yet I find myself completely baffled how we go from inorganic molecoles, to organic compounds and then to the cell; the smallest unit of life. I don't completely rule out a guiding force, a "God" or "Gods" or some other supernatural entity, but I don't necessarily believe one way or the other without the evidence. It could have happened randomly, it could have happened because of a creator, or maybe a combination of both. But we don't know, and that's the great mystery of it. Human beings are programed to desire meaning and purpose in our lives. I find it interesting how my Biology professor used the term "designed" when describing how the body functions work and how we were designed for chasing down food, and this is especially true of our ancient ancestors who hunted and gathered in tribes. Yet, he doesn't believe in God as far as I know. So I wonder why the term "designed" then? Wouldn't "evolved' have been a better term? It makes me wonder.

But even if there is a "God" who is to say it's the "Judeo-Christian God" of Christianity, Islam and Judaism? There's other religions that have Gods in them. Zoroastrianism is a monotheistic religion that has faded away into history as is Yazdanism and several other less known religions at the time. While I have a complex theory of what the Gods are if they do exist, it doesn't necessarily explain how life was created. There's also the Eastern religions and Polythestic religions, and the Earth based religions. Maybe "God" is the "Great Spirit" in Native American belief. Maybe "God" is a catch-all term and a concept for a divine creator, and not necessarily limited to one specific religion. A friend of mine once told me that an African tribe believed in a "God of the Sky" who was a supreme God, and an evil entity that was very similar to how we describe the devil. The duality of good and evil is a common theme, and is one reason given for morality and existance. We just can't always agree on what is considered right or wrong, but at least the majority of people will agree that simple concepts like murder and theft are wrong. There are more controversial issues that people don't agree on.

Your daughter does sound pretty smart, and it's good that she has a good understanding of critical thinking skills. I'm sure she'll love college when she goes, she'll really get to delve into the realm of critical thinking. She does have a good point that experiments were technically done by an outside force. The question then one has to ask is if there is an outside force at work, where is it? Where do we find it? I'm realizing the journey to find the truth, whatever that might be is different for everyone. I'm not even sure if there is a "universal truth" because "truth" seems to be relative to the eyes of the beholder, and you have to take perspective into account as well.

That's a great way to think about Christianity. I do see the good in it. But people will be people. There's good and bad in every religion, and the same goes for the non-religious. It's interesting how "cupidity" is considered evil, yet "Cupid" in Greek mythology was supposed to be a God of love. I want to do the right things, the problem is I don't always know what's right. One thing I am certain of though is that I need to get myself in financial order before I try to help others. Who knows though, if I become a big-time publisher like JK Rowling (though I doubt it :lol:) then I'll have all kinds of money that I hope I'll be able to help people with. For now it's only a dream. Even then, I'd only be able to help individuals in this life.
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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by Murfreesboro » Sat Apr 11, 2015 4:12 am

In response to your remarks about "cupidity"--yes, Cupid was the Roman god of erotic love. I think we have difficulty in English because our word "love" is used to cover so many different types of emotion. In some languages there are distinct words for erotic love, the love of friendship, the philanthropic impulse, etc. In ancient Rome, friendship ("amicitia") was actually considered the highest form of love, higher than erotic love certainly, since people who are "in love" generally want something from the other person, and can even behave in deranged ways until they are satisfied. The Romans thought of romantic love as a kind of derangement or sickness.

I think Zoroastrianism is still practiced today, although it is not one of the big world religions. I did a quick Google search and discovered that the conductor Zubin Mehta (I think he is still alive?) is one famous practitioner.

It is interesting to me that human beings appear to be "programmed" to believe in a god or gods. Atheism appears to be the province of highly sophisticated people. It is not "natural" to us, it would seem. It's more common in world religions for people to fear their gods, to feel that they must be propitiating them all the time. The ancient Greeks, to judge by plays like Oedipus, felt resigned and fatalistic about their gods. The gods ruled everything, but they didn't necessarily have the best interests of people at heart. When you look at the events of life here on earth--the natural disasters, the plagues, the starvation, the meanness & hatred people can show toward each other, the universality of death--it is truly remarkable to me that anyone ever came up with the idea that God could be loving.

I think one thing the Bible clearly understands is that love and fear are opposites--"perfect love casteth out fear," to quote Paul. I was impressed a number of years ago, when my older son, then 13, came home from a church youth group meeting with a sheet of paper that said on one side, "What is the most frequent commandment in the Bible?" My mind started racing on all the "Thou shalt nots" I could think of." Then I turned the paper over. Guess what the answer was? "Fear not." The paper counted how many times that phrase shows up in the Bible--I've forgotten how many, but a great number, like 167, something like that. It's comforting, for sure.

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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by MauEvig » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:18 am

You're definitely right Murf. There are different kinds of love and I didn't think about how other languages had different meanings for the different types. In the English language it is a universal word that can mean many different things, so one needs to describe which one. I do not think necessarily however that romance is a bad thing; I think it's good to feel a closeness with your significant other. Many also describe their significant other as their best friend as well. I'm fortunate and blessed that I am one of those people who have found my soul mate, my boyfriend is a wonderful man. I also care for my family, friends and my pets. People think I'm crazy but I love my cats like children. I'm a proud kitty mom. My instincts didn't necessarily go away because I didn't have children, instead that same protectiveness and care goes into my cats. I've found that my cats give me so much more than I could ever give them. Sure I feed them, change their pan, give them fresh water, and I've even had to clean up a boo boo on my older male cat since the younger one is always picking on him; and we started feeding the older female wet food because she couldn't chew the dry food very well (older kitty's teeth start to go bad so she had a hard time chewing, we switched to wet food and she started putting her weight back on, before she has been nothing but skin and bones) but when a cat lays down next to me and purrs it's a very calming and soothing feeling. For someone with anxiety, it helps to pet a purring cat.

It may be. It's interesting to think about. I think a lot of people are digging up old religions or making modernized versions of them. I think the duality of good and evil is a lot more complex than one might think. If a man murders another man, but doesn't get punished for it, what good is the law then? He still did wrong right? But according to the atheist philosophy it seems actions have consequences but those consequences are carried out by other human beings. But if he doesn't get caught, he doesn't suffer the consequence of going to prison. But it only seems to be wrong because man said it's wrong. Yet if there is a God; that God might not punish him immediately but he will certainly get his justice in death. On the other hand, the atheists make a good point because good people, especially young children in other countries are often starving to death. Where is God to perform a miracle? But when people go on missions, it's people who help them, not God. We can say God sent them, but there are plenty of atheists who partake in charities and help people as well. It's kind of a double edged sword. I agree with the Atheist philosophy that one should do good deeds without expecting a reward or expecting to go to Heaven for them, but I do not agree necessarily that morals, good and evil, are merely man made concepts. Even animals display some morals. My Christian friend did bring up a good point. You don't do good things to get into Heaven. You do good things because you love God. Maybe I can do good things because I love life, I'm showing my love of humanity and the Earth and it's many animals. The thing is I think both sides have really good points. My way of thinking sort of fits somewhere in between, with some Pagan and other Religions and my own beliefs somewhere in there as well. After all, there is more choices aside from just Atheism and Christianity, or in a broader sense Atheism and Theism. One can be Atheist and be spiritual. One can be theistic and somewhat naturalistic in their world views. Some Christian sects don't necessarily believe in the soul, but that we sleep when we die. Then at the end days God restores our body and consciousness to full health if we were good righteous people. Of course when I was a Christian we did believe in going to Heaven or Hell. But I think there's more than just those two choices. There's a lot of religions out there, and one isn't limited if one chooses to have their own beliefs. After all, I have a friend who combined Christianity with Wicca and describes herself as a "White Witch." She thinks God is an alien. Yet in a way that makes sense. God even says he's "Not of this world."

It kind of is interesting. I think that's part of what makes the human condition. I think the idea of a loving God sort of evolved as time went on. Yet it is easy to see God as a violent dictator as well, so I suppose it's all about perspective. I don't think all of the ancient Gods were fearful. Bastet my favorite Egyptian Goddess seemed to be quite a loving Goddess. Yet the idea of the Gods being dictatorial over humanity did seem like a common theme. Most atheists accept this as humans trying to explain natural events and disasters. There were dangerous times in the ancient world and people died young. From what I understand in history is that civilization seems to bring about a more peaceful existence. During medieval times people were more prone to violence and they were scared when the Roman Empire fell. People reverted back to an almost "tribal" state. But I think as people modernized, Christianity became more of a religion of love than one of fear. Most people interpret it as that was the intent of Jesus all along, to be a religion of love. If we lost civilization now, I'm sure chaos would ensue. But hopefully we've grown enough as a people where that wouldn't happen. It's certainly something people are afraid of though. Of course, the interesting part is that the Eastern half of Europe didn't fall until I think around the 1400's where it became the Byzantine empire.

It's true. I figured perhaps the answer would have been "if nothing else love" or something to that idea. But I think bravery isn't necessarily the absence of fear; but acting in spite of fear.
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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by Murfreesboro » Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:40 am

These are really pretty deep subjects, wondering about the origin of conscience, etc. Your Christian friend's understanding--that Christians aren't supposed to do good deeds to get into heaven, but rather out of love and gratitude to God for salvation--that is the orthodox Christian view. There are several Christian denominations that lean toward "works righteousness," the idea that somehow you work your way into heaven. That is never orthodox Christianity (technically it is a heresy), but it seems to be an idea that most people can respond to. It seems to be human nature to want to earn what you get. I read the Koran several years ago, and I saw that Islam is very much a "works righteousness" religion. Back during the Reformation, Protestants interpreted the Catholic idea of Purgatory (which is not actually in the Bible) in that way, too. Purgatory is comforting, though, since most people know they haven't been as good in their lives as they might have been. It just seems to be hard for people to accept the idea of heaven as a gift given by God in love.

I don't think Christianity "evolved" Into a religion of love. I think Jesus was very much preaching that from the beginning. After all, when he was dying on the cross he was praying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," and pardoning the thief who asked to be remembered by him, promising him Paradise that very day. Whether or not you believe that Jesus was divine, I think you can safely assert that he was preaching love.

I agree with your definition of bravery, that it isn't the absence of fear, but acting morally in spite of fear.

I think many people who don't have children, or whose children are long grown, sort of make their pets into children. I have also noticed that several celebrities who have never had children devote themselves to animal welfare causes. I value my animal companions, too, both those I have now and those I have loved throughout my life. I have to say, honestly, that for me, the emotions I feel for them are not on a par with the way I have felt about my children. I once read that "having a child is like having your heart walking around outside of your body." I have never felt that way about any animal I have ever owned, but I have felt that way about my kids. Nevertheless, I don't mean to downplay the importance of animals in our lives. And you are absolutely right that they can somehow dispel stress, just by being there. They are definitely one of life's blessings.

Of course you are right about the complexity of our love for our significant others. When you commit your life to someone, it isn't just about the erotic kind of love, even though that is part of it. But friendship is a big part of it, too, and after you have had enough years with someone (I'm not sure how many, just a good stretch of time) that other person becomes your family, too, and your feeling for him or her becomes as strong as the feelings you ever had for the family you grew up with. When I spoke about the Roman attitude toward erotic love, I was basing what I was saying on the literature they left behind. There isn't much of what we would call "romance" in ancient literature. That attitude toward love seems to have found its first expression in Medieval literature. Yet it is such a big part of human experience that I have to believe the ancients experienced it, too. They just didn't seem to elevate it as much as later civilizations did.

You mentioned some Christian sects that preach we "sleep when we die," and then the soul is restored to the body at the end of time. I guess that comes from some of the writings in the New Testament, where Paul talks about people who have "fallen asleep in Christ," but insists that they will be restored on Judgment Day. I personally think that this mystery has to do with our being time-bound. I am convinced that God is living outside of time altogether (in the Old Testament he says his name is "I Am," and Jesus echoes this phrase in key passages of the Passion story). When I was a kid and first read that, I thought, "What kind of name is I Am?" It seemed so weird to me. But now I believe that it means God is dwelling in an eternal present. Heaven isn't a place of infinity, which would be time marching on forever. It is instead a place outside of time, something we can't even imagine because our minds are time-bound instruments. I think for those of us still living here on earth, Judgment Day is in the future, but when we die, I think it is immediate. I think so because I think that for God, everything is Now. (Incidentally, I think that is the reason why we can have that paradox that says God is all-knowing & all-powerful, yet we still have free will to act as we choose. In an analogy I first read in Boethius, a medieval writer, if you see a man across the room sitting down in a chair, you know he is going to sit in the chair, but you don't make him do it. It is like that for God, for whom everything is happening Now.)

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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by Kolchak » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:13 pm

As far as I'm concerned, the world could still be flat! And if the thrill is gone then it's time to take it back! If the thrill is gone then you gotta' get it back!

"Who am I? Why am I here?" Forget the question, someone give me another beer!

"What's the meaning of life? What's the meaning of it all?" You gotta' learn to dance, before you learn to crawl. You got to learn to dance, before you learn to crawl!

So sign up all you raw recruits! Throw away all those two bit suits!

You got your weapons cocked, your targets in your sights!

There's a party raging somewhere in the world! You got to serve your country, gotta' service your girl! You're all inducted in the armies of the night!

If you want my view of history, then there's something you should know! The three men I admire most are Curly, Larry, Moe! Don't worry about the future, sooner, later it's the past, and if they say the thrill is gone then it's time to take it back! :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8)

Everything louder than everything else!! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :wink: 8)

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Re: It's beneficial to believe

Post by Murfreesboro » Tue Apr 14, 2015 3:41 am

Point taken, Kolchak! :lol:

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