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  #181  
Old 06-April-2002, 12:16
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Wink You were warned this was coming

The issue of suffering has been mentioned for reasoning that an Almighty, Loving and Caring God does not exist. Voltaire certainly works round the problem of suffering and the acceptance of suffering!

From "Candide" by Voltaire
Introduction by John Butt the translator (with W/L's italics)

Voltaire was the wittiest writer in the age of great wits, and Candide is his wittiest novel. The subject he chose to exercise his wit upon in in this novel is one which concerns all of us; suprisingly enough, that is the problem of suffering. However much we may try to avoid the problem, we are all confronted at some time with this difficulty, that the Creator has made a universe where suffering abounds. If the Creator is good and all-powerful, as we are told he is, could he not have made a better world? Can we indeed believe in him at all? Or if we do, can we believe that he is all all concerned with men and their sufferings? In times of widespread disasters such questioning becomes more general and more urgent.................

In 1746 the greater part of Lima had been destroyed in an earthquake, and nine years later an even more catastrophic earthquake killed fifty thousand people in Lisbon These disasters seemed a brutal comment on the current 'optimistic' philosophy of day......

Philosophers like Candide's tutor Dr. Pangloss, and real life Leibniz were maintaining that we live in the best of all possible worlds, where everything is connected and arranged for the best. What we regard as evil will, if rightly considered, be found conducive to the good of some other creature, and therefore necessary to the general design......... This doctrine is a perversion of Leibniz's teaching , and perhaps Voltaire knew it. At any rate, he made no attempt to meet the traditional Christian argument, reinterpreted by Leibnitz, that evil cannot be excluded from a world in which we are free to choose evil or good, and that such a world is better than one where there would be no free agents, and therefore no evil and no good. [i] Although Voltaire riducled Leibnitz's terminology he attacked not Leibnitz's philosophy, but its popular perversion.

Even the Christian doctine of purification by suffering can be made to sound callous by a preacher who does not know what suffering means; a tactful preacher will often need to explain ...but wonders ... "How can I say with sufficient tenderness what here needs to be said".

The tortures, humiliations, and reverals of fortune which Candide and his friends undergo....In themselves they are not wildly absurd, and they become so only because no human being could enduer all that Candide and his friends endure and live to tell the tale. But their number and variety serve Voltaire's purpose. He uses every device at his command to prevent our pity and to emphasise the reslience of human nature. In spite of all they suffer, they never despair, or not for long.

Voltaire takes his representative of mankind to that Paradise of eighteenth-century philosophers, the imaginary State conducted on principles of pure Reason....Voltaire, who had been reading about the Incas...located his Paradise on a plateau in the Andes surrounded by unscalable mountains......

A society in which all physical requirements are supplied, and where no one needs to go to law; where men have simplified religious belief to the lowest common denominator of natural religion; where neither crime nor war exist; where the achievements of science are respected; where men enjoy equality and fraternity. This was certainly the best of all possible worlds, and Candide immediately recognised it; but he his unhappy in Paradise....
EditPS Fabienne ..looking back I saw your observation that made me think again about this post

Fabienne Many Christians would argue that God made the planet perfect, man corrupted it. Then follows the recipe to make it good again, called the path to salvation in christianity, it comes as a set of guidelines with religion (10 commandments), one of the main ones being " sow goodness and you will reap goodness".
Seems quite a logical explanation for the ills of the world but then this gives rise to why, for a perfect world, the Almighty would create imperfect creatures to damage and corrupt it and cause suffering.

Edit 2 font of quotes changed from Times 10 to Arial 12 to aid clarity.

Last edited by Worldlife; 06-April-2002 at 19:04.
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  #182  
Old 06-April-2002, 13:45
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Hit the nail on the head W/L,

If God created a perfect world and then man was created imperfect, God made a mistake and is therefore imperfect.

Come on people, why are there mosquitos, harmfull viruses & bacteria, where do they fit into it, if you or I were given the power to create a world and we created harmful creatures that had no discernable purpose other than to cause misery, we would be branded malicious at best.

Fabienne, are you saying man created these wee beasties?
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  #183  
Old 06-April-2002, 16:24
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Well according to the Old Testament, God didn't create and imperfect human being, he created a human being with "Free Will"
He wasn't a robot and still isn't a robot, but it was the decision that Adam and Eve made concerning eating the fruit off the tree of knowlege, They did and now we reap the consequences of that act of decision by our forefather (forefathers)
I'm sorry to hear about your wife, partner Gecko.
When Jesus was on this earth he didn't heal every sick person he came across.
There were hundreds of people at the pool of Bethesda? wating to be placed in the water to be healed. Jesus out of all those hundreds only decided to heal one man.
Again it's the fault of dogma solicited by some ministers saying God will heal all the sick, but this isn't true. If your not healed when you ask God, then they tell you, you have no faith. This is ********.
Paul states himself he had a "thorn in the flesh" in one of his epistles. He asked to rid him of it and to paraphrase God said no.
So we were given free will. He didn't make us robots and because of our freewill man has made some decisions that are not good for us or our world.
Why does God stand back and let bad thi9ngs happen. Well he flooeded the earth once because of mans sin. But after that he said he would never flood the earth again. Paraphrased destroy the earth again.
More food for thought.
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  #184  
Old 06-April-2002, 17:44
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WL: i strain to read the long quotation because the font is so small! I'll probably take some time to digest it too!
As for Voltaire, you took the most controversial writer of the 18th century! His works are so prolific that it takes a lifetime to read and understand. Even Rousseau was clearer as a philosopher! And geez... i read Candide at school, and i cannae remember much! Anyway, let's work on this...

Beef: i agree with most of your latest post!

Gecko: No, man didn't create these nasties. They fit into the grand scale of Nature. But they are only nasty to man!
CAn i bring the idea of fate at this point? Has fate got a place within religion?
There are very interesting philosophical debates on the very subject of Nature vs Civilisation, or Nature vs Religion. Philosophers Nietzsche, Freud, Kirkegaard, Darwin are the names that spring to mind when talking about this topic.

Last edited by fabienne00; 06-April-2002 at 17:53.
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  #185  
Old 06-April-2002, 19:31
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Fate and/or Luck are just words to describe events we do not understand. A study of the Law of karma gives us that explanation

fenix
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  #186  
Old 06-April-2002, 23:53
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Hi Beef.

Your post certainly stretched my poor old brain to recall many of my discussions of the past.

The "Free Will Defense" that you mentioned is quite an old chestnut and should be considered within the following framework:-

1. If God exists, he is all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly good.

2. The existence of suffering is incompatible with the existence of God.

3. Suffering exists.

4. God does not exist.

To make the argument clearer, consider the following clarifications.

An all-knowing being will be aware of suffering; an all-powerful being will be able to prevent suffering; and a perfectly good being will desire to prevent suffering. If suffering exists, then God - who is characterized by the three attributes stated in point 1 - does not exist. It is possible for some other god to exist, but he cannot be all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly good, though he may be one or two of these.

If God has made men such that in their free choices they sometimes prefer what is good and sometimes what is evil, why could he not have made men such that they always freely choose the good? Since there seems to be no reason why an omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good god would not have preferred this alternative, the theist who maintains that there is such a god, and yet that he did not opt for this - since by his own account human beings make bad free choices - seems to be committed to an inconsistent set of assertions.

Even in a world such as ours where bad consequences may occur through lack of knowledge, free but wicked choices might be impossible. God could have created beings with purely moral desires, from which they would always act. Even on a libertarian theory of free will it is logically possible that everyone would always in fact act rightly. God, who surveys all time and space, could have created such a world.

It is clear that the fundamental doctrines of Christianity demand a great deal of ethical perversion before they can be accepted. The world, we are told, was created by a God who is both good and omnipotent. Before He created the world He foresaw all the pain and misery that it would contain; He is therefore responsible for all of it. It is useless to argue that the pain in the world is due to sin. In the first place, this is not true; it is not sin that causes rivers to overflow their banks or volcanoes to erupt. But even if it were true, it would make no difference. If I were going to beget a child knowing that the child was going to be a homicidal maniac, I should be responsible for his crimes. If God knew in advance the sins of which man would be guilty, He was clearly responsible for all the consequences of those sins when He decided to create man.

I'm sure Beef you are a compassionate person and I would like to extend your observations on disease and illness

The usual Christian argument is that the suffering in the world is a purification for sin and is therefore a good thing. This argument is, of course, only a rationalization of sadism; but in any case it is a very poor argument. Visit the children's ward of a hospital, to watch the suffering that is there being endured, and then to persist in the assertion that those children are so morally abandoned as to deserve what they are suffering. In order to bring himself to say this, a man must destroy in himself all feelings of mercy and compassion. He must, in short, make himself as cruel as the God in whom he believes. No man who believes that all is for the best in this suffering world can keep his ethical values unimpaired, since he is always having to find excuses for pain and misery.

....and that reasoning was covered in my post concerning "Candide" by Voltaire.

Thanks to and
further information on the issue of Free Will
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  #187  
Old 07-April-2002, 00:11
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Yet again W/L I am impressed by your eloquence and logic and to put it in a cliche "I couldn't have said it better myself", in fact I know I couldn't.

Fabienne,

The wee beasties don't discriminate, they are harmful to all living things, "Foot & Mouth" comes to mind and I don't think you can separate Nature from God in Christianity, it made ALL things.
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  #188  
Old 07-April-2002, 00:25
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Thanks Gecko for your kind comment and I hope the post is helpful to you.

The eloquence is not entirely mine! I needed to clarify my reasoning and was fortunate enough to find an internet site from which I have been able to extract information from an extremely long and comprehensively argued case.

PS Fabienne I did try to alter the font and size on my original paste from Word but I suspect the font is preset in the HTML of the quote facility of TS.
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  #189  
Old 07-April-2002, 02:25
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I've read the replies here but am too tired to reply at this moment. Just home from work and I'm a knackered Beef
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  #190  
Old 07-April-2002, 07:50
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Understand completely Beef...it's not easy to tackle when you are tired. Just proves that this thread is deeper that it's new upstart rival

I have just discovered that one must have "faith".

For some people "faith" is the holding of a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

For me "faith" is a confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing.

For myself and others "faith" does not include the belief in God and therefore at times of crisis we need confidence and rationality to support our non-belief.

Your last post, quite rightly, made me question my "faith" of non- belief and review the teenage discussions that led me to a conclusion that I could not believe in God.

Whilst there is no equivalent of an Athiest Meeting Place but I've found various websites where one can draw comfort from being with people who share and understand similar views.

Guess the same applies to going to Church whether you are merely a "pew filler" or a dedicated Christian.

It is a sign of hope that I have DNA and genes that determine my need to do what I feel is morally correct (and the desire to communicate and discuss with other humans). This the same force that others consider attributable to God.

Is this thread working because it is strenghtening the similarities and bonds between different viewpoints and beliefs rather than creating conflict or entrenchment and reinforcing the differences.

...and thus we are able to sustain the discussion.

Last edited by Worldlife; 07-April-2002 at 08:15.
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  #191  
Old 07-April-2002, 13:35
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The wee beasties don't discriminate, they are harmful to all living things
I don't think i agree with your definition of harmful here when applied to the living world. A world without microbes, viruses, amibas, or other cells is not a living world. These are necessary and only become " harmful" in the eyes of us humans. They belong to the life and death cycle of living organisms, they existed a long time before us, and are probably what was at the origin of life on Earth. Our human perspective on the existence of these bugs implies feelings of awe in us because they cause suffering in us and ultimately death. I don't think nature has a place for feelings, it's only us humans who apply our judgement on it. However, man has put up a very good fight against these bugs in recent history with the progress of science. There has never been so many humans on the planet, and we all live longer than our ancestors.

I really feel the injustice of it all, though. Why so much suffering? My dear sister in law lost her father through a long illness recently and she said : "Why him? he was such a good man". Well, i don't know why!


I have just discovered that one must have "faith".
Totally agree here, WL.
And i think this is why religion, whatever it may be, has played or still plays a fundamental role in our world. It gives a sense of purpose to our lives. It answers a fundamental need of man to give an answer to the question about the meaning of life, I suppose.

Well, we are still no closer to prove the existence of God or not here on TS!!!
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  #192  
Old 07-April-2002, 14:33
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Well, we are still no closer to prove the existence of God or not here on TS!!!
I suppose this quote is reasonable if you continue to ignore the claims of Buddhism; certainley if this alternative is shunned here because few have either knowledge and/or interest then the discussion remains partial and narrow ( in that it apparently was opened up earlier to include other 'ideas') and you will remain certainley "no closer" or none the wiser.

Proof of 'anything' comes down to the individuals criteria( this being subject to the individuals knowledge and experience) for that assesment and being unique our individual standards will vary for this.
Buddhism offers ( for anyone prepared to do the work) an authoratative explanation for virtually everything that is left to 'faith' or 'belief' in 'THEIST' Religions, including Christianity. Indeed Buddha himself told his followers that they should test his precepts in their own lives and only if then they found them to be valid, to accept them .
Even though I would claim that much of the teachings of Buddha are sumpremely logical, as one works and studies at something whatever that may be, the feelings or Intuition for the subject is developed. Quite often at this stage 'proof' trails in a poor second to the 'Intuition' as for me, ultimately, whereas the brain/mind can 'know about', the Heart simply 'Knows'

Any discussion about the existence of God, whatever you understand that term to mean will be incomplete and wanting in the final analysis if Buddhism is not seriously considered

fenix
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  #193  
Old 07-April-2002, 17:36
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err.. it was just another of my feeble attempts at a joke no offence meant.

As for Buddhism , i confess my near ignorance of it. Therefore i agree that we, or rather I cannot come to any conclusion. point taken.
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  #194  
Old 07-April-2002, 17:58
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err.. it was just another of my feeble attempts at a joke no offence meant.
No offence taken .
It has just seemed to me that despite my opening the thread up to include Buddhism contributors have, with a few exceptions, steadfastly ignored it. As I say, if that is indicative of the level of interest, fair enough, just thought I'd make the point though.

fenix
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  #195  
Old 07-April-2002, 18:05
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Fabienne, you should realise that ignorance of a particular subject is no bar to discussing it, having an opinion about it, making outrageous statements, agreeing with anybody, disagreeing with everybody, or even coming to a conclusion about that subject.

You can even change the subject completely provided that you do it subtly so that nobody else notices.

How else can life proceed?

Dantony
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  #196  
Old 07-April-2002, 18:23
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Fabienne, you should realise that ignorance of a particular subject is no bar to discussing it, having an opinion about it, making outrageous statements, agreeing with anybody, disagreeing with everybody, or even coming to a conclusion about that subject.
Dantony, that is an interesting comment; is it a course you personally indulge in or is it just an observation?

Incidently, life bumbles along quite well even without recourse to
your above quoted recipe and surprisingly even better when informed and intelligent comments are proffered

fenix
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  #197  
Old 07-April-2002, 19:07
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Fenix, of course it is a course that I personally indulge in, although I think it is better to say, follow, a course.

Indulging sounds decadent.

However, I did not intend to suggest in any way that one should avoid the discussion of a subject when one is not in ignorance or even has some knowledge of the subject.

The important thing to remember is that life is too short to take it seriously.

You're a long time dead.

Probably.

Dantony
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  #198  
Old 07-April-2002, 19:13
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The important thing to remember is that life is too short to take it seriously.
Totally agree.
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  #199  
Old 07-April-2002, 19:14
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Fenix I would be delighted if this thread developed into a regular meeting place to explore our various beliefs and where those who wish to do so can come for serious discussion.

Would love it if you would become a "mentor" to lead an online introduction the Buddhism where we can read, do our homework and come back with new ideas.

The thoughts are that it might be a new thread but it would be nice to keep our religious and morality discussions together in one grouping.

I would be happy to have a new main heading something like "Of Gods and morality" and this "Messiah" thread could be listed with a new sub-thread from Fenix and such others that from time to time come up. To give an example the a lead was given sometime back to Aboriginal religion.

Depends if this could be an ongoing thing and if the mods could subdivide the topic in this way

Would it be interesting and in the future to go through the Christian ten commandments and discuss their moral and spiritual guidelines compared with those of other religions?

Appreciate any input folks might wish to make in providing a sense of direction and purpose to this thread.
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  #200  
Old 07-April-2002, 20:50
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While I respond to your latest post (Edit: Dantony) I am expecting at any moment a visit from perhaps 'John Cleese' or another member of the Monty Python team .

Fenix, of course it is a course that I personally indulge in, although I think it is better to say, follow, a course.

. Dantony, pulling my leg to this degree can definitely be injurious to health, this being so, can I respectfully advise you that, having some knowledge of a subject on which you are intending to draw a conclusion , does not ( as you later suggest) invalidate your right to participate. Indeed such knowledge can even lend to the idea that the participants are not ALL talking from their rear-ends.

Preferring to follow a course rather than to indulge suggests to me this may be a well worn route for you as opposed to an occasional 'treat'

As for 'life' being too short, Buddhism may disavow you of that notion, though I am bound to say that if ignorance of any subject be your preferred 'modus operandi' such information must/will stay, forever beyond your grasp.

----------------------------------------------------------

FB quoted....

The important thing to remember is that life is too short to take it seriously.
......... not when its serious Fun

WL, let me give some more thought to your post

fenix
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  #201  
Old 07-April-2002, 21:15
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WL, to respond to your post in all seriousness, my experience of discussion boards in general is somewhat akin to Dantony's admitted and preferred course in discussion. ie, the less people know about a subject, the louder they shout (present company excepted )
People who really wish to learn about a subject normally will go away and find an 'Authoritative' source.
Also it would seem at this time that there is little interest in Buddhism here.

The field of Buddhism is vast and although my 'grasp' of it would appear to be better than any other poster we have heard from so far, its woefully short of what would be needed to act as a mentor.

Having said that I am quite happy to answer any questions that may arise ( not many so far) bearing in mind that 'Buddhism' should not be held either accountable or responsible for answers I may suggest

fenix

PS: My earlier recommendation of 'Exploring Buddhism' would be my best advice to any genuine enquirer.
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  #202  
Old 07-April-2002, 22:02
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W/L I had similar thoughts about introducing the Creation vs Evolution debate into this thread.

Anyone care to mention where dinosaurs fit into the Bible & the Christian faith?
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  #203  
Old 07-April-2002, 23:15
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Enter John cleese........

No only joking.

Listen this thread is fascinating reading folks.

Keep it going.

W/L fenix et al I would welcome a regular discussion of matters such as these.

I just can't promise that I'll be able to make any valuable contributions.

(was that a sigh of relief I heard - who was that? Stand up! - Oops sorry I slipped in JC mode - that's John Cleese BTW not the guy upstairs )

Just I can't seem to muster up the enthusiasm I once had to engage in excellent threads such as this. Instead I prefer to engage in banalities or lurk.

Anyway I'll try to behave OK
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  #204  
Old 07-April-2002, 23:35
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Gecko I am not sure that you will find anyone prepared to favour the the "Adam and Eve" story in preference to that of natural selection and evolution.......except maybe a visitor from the Bible Belt of the USA


Fenix if you consider the view and post statistics to this thread I hope you will agree that it may be worthwhile for you to post a Buddhist viewpoint....... in this case for example evolution.

F/B welcome and we knew you were not John Cleese - you are just not effecitve at silly walks. Glad to see you are keeping in touch with the posts even if not contributing regularly.

Warning though any really silly posts here will be subject of serious and boring retaliation on your rival thread
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  #205  
Old 07-April-2002, 23:44
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Gecko I am not sure that you will find anyone prepared to favour the the "Adam and Eve" story in preference to that of natural selection and evolution.......except maybe a visitor from the Bible Belt of the USA
take it you don't know that many christians wl, you don't need to go to the bible belt to meet people with this belief
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  #206  
Old 08-April-2002, 00:42
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Fenix, sorry to be so long responding but I've been looking back to see where I said that ignorance of a subject is my preferred 'modus operandi' but I can't find it.

I did find Gecko's post at 20:57 on 5/4/02 about which I'd forgotten to say that I agreed with in general, with the proviso that the odd wind-up is permissible at random intervals.

I had also been diverted by two episodes of "24", see that thread.

Dantony
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  #207  
Old 08-April-2002, 00:46
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In response to a request from W/L:

Dismissal of the existence of God based on God's failure to meet certain human standards, is flawed. If God exists, he is all-powerful and all-knowing, and by contrast, there are things that are totally beyond man's comprehension. The fact that we do not understand God's involvement in certain situations does not prove that God does not exist, but it does serve to illustrate that man's ability to acquire knowledge is limited.

In order to to ascertain the truth it is necessary to examine the evidence with an open mind and make a verdict.

There are many documents, both secular and canononical that serve to give evidence of Christ's historicity. A critical examination of available data would lead to a conclusion confirming Christ's claims to deity, the miracles he performed, his death and his resurrection.

From there it should be possible to accept Christ on a personal basis, and notice the difference that this makes in one's life. If there is no noticeable positive change, after committing to Christ, then Christian claims are false.

Of course, if an individual harbours presuppositions such as a refusal to accept the existence of God on the basis of human suffering, then it is unlikely that any such conclusion will be arrived at.

Hence my previous questions. Is it reasonable to accept some of the evidence in documents (Christ's existence), then dismiss the rest because you don't agree with it?
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Old 08-April-2002, 01:43
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Edit rather than modify this post I have added a subsequent rider and apology concerning intolerance. There is nothing personel in the following post AJ....I just find the shifting sands of attempted Christian logic somewhat perplexing

Not answering a question does not necessarily mean one cannot answer - it could mean that the answer has been revealed in previous postings or that it is not necessarily relevant to the current developments in the thread.

*****************************************

Hence my previous questions. Is it reasonable to accept some of the evidence in documents (Christ's existence), then dismiss the rest because you don't agree with it?
YES

However I would modify your phrase "don't agree with it" to "find it unproven"

Of course, if an individual harbours presuppositions such as a refusal to accept the existence of God on the basis of human suffering, then it is unlikely that any such conclusion will be arrived at.
The word presupposition does not differentiate between reasoned conclusions and those which are assumptions. It is a reasonable conclusion, based on the summary of evidence and reasoning in previous post concerning suffering, to arrive at the conclusion that God does not exist. (there is a link to the detailed evidence)

If you are suggesting that man cannot differentiate between a kind, caring and loving God and one that is false or condones evil then surely that provides further reasoning for rejection of the Christian concept of God as stated in the suffering posts.

From there it should be possible to accept Christ on a personal basis, and notice the difference that this makes in one's life. If there is no noticeable positive change, after committing to Christ, then Christian claims are false.
I accept that "faith" can make a change to one's life but this need not necessarily be religious faith. Take the example of the extreme Christian groups that brainwash their members. These cause positive changes and often create apparantly radiant and happy people - that has nothing to do with whether God exists or Christian claims are false.

Last edited by Worldlife; 08-April-2002 at 08:06.
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  #209  
Old 08-April-2002, 07:56
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Exclamation Apologies for feelings of intolerance

"Help! Forgive me my intolerance. Let me not become peeved or irritated by those who change their definition of the attributes of God to that which is not consistent with those taught previously as the basis of their religion"

Mrs W/L suggested this morning that it was wrong to disturb the faith of those who do so much good. She cited the case of a person severely disabled by thalidomide who had found comfort and happiness within a community style "church".
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  #210  
Old 08-April-2002, 08:11
Fenix
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Fenix, sorry to be so long responding but I've been looking back to see where I said that ignorance of a subject is my preferred 'modus operandi' but I can't find it.
Morning Dantony, you are right AFAIK with the above statement. It was one that occured 'Fitting' after your first post on this subject which firstly explained that.....
.......you should realise that ignorance of a particular subject is no bar to discussing it, having an opinion about it, making outrageous statements, agreeing with anybody, disagreeing with everybody, or even coming to a conclusion about that subject.
.... and on request for clarification supplied this in answer....
Fenix, of course it is a course that I personally indulge in
Considering these two statements a fair 'comment' I think

fenix
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