What place should religion have in the modern world?

Discussions relating to the positive and negative aspects of traditional faith-based religions

Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:57 pm

technicolor wrote:Once, in the news there was a boy, about 11 years of age who had a growth in his mouth. The cancer hospital said that it must be removed and that he must have a full round of treatment. His parents said no; that there was no proof that he had cancer, and that they weren't going to treat him without more evidence and other opinions; preferably from the holistic world of medicine. The State found the Parents negligent in their duty as parents and threatened to take him into custody. The parents fled with their son to Idaho in civil disobedience. The long story short, they won their case and determined to wait and see. The boy never developed Cancer and remained healthy. The part that I didn't mention was that they had prayed in earnest and felt, as a result, that he should not get the conventional treatment, that also would have left their son sterile. This is the other side of the coin of conventional wisdom. I know, the gamut of stories in the column of conventional wisdom is great, but for me and my house we shall serve the Lord.

This is excellent news that the boy's cancer went away, or perhaps never existed in the first place, and also excellent news that the boy didn't have to undergo any potentially harmful treatment. I'm doubting that any kind of modern treatment for cancer of the mouth can leave someone sterile, but I digress.

When I hear of such stories, my heart seems to be inclined to attribute such good fortune to the grace of God. But the reason that I know that this is wrong is because, to be consistent, one would also have to attribute negative things to God as well. And prayer does not change this. There are many, many people who pray in earnest with all of their heart for years and yet have horrible misfortune. Prayer clearly does, in general, lead one to greater fortune.

And though you mention this example of parents withholding modern treatment in favor of prayer as a success, there are unfortunately many examples which have been reported in the news where the parents did the same and the child tragically died. In these cases the evidence strongly suggests that the deaths could have been avoided if the parents would have opened their eyes and realized that prayer alone cannot take the place of actual professionally trained physical treatment.

These and other tragedies come from the all too common tendency among the faithful to see supernatural causes for events that can more easily and consistently explained as natural phenomenon. As I have stated before on this site, I do see an important place for belief in the supernatural, but only in situations where no adequate natural explanation can be found.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby technicolor on Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:09 am

This is a recent and true story that happened here in Utah. The problem was that the Hospital was only going on their procedural feelings and probability. It was a situation where the growth was supposedly a forerunner to cancer. The radiation would have sterilized him; to be specific. It was not blind faith, but it was unconventional wisdom. Sometimes faith, and unconventional wisdom are what this world needs. I believe that these people also believe in personal revelation from a personal God; one they can directly relate to. See the wisdom in believing in a God that is more like a parent than an intelligent nebula from outer space?
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:12 pm

technicolor wrote:Sometimes faith, and unconventional wisdom are what this world needs. I believe that these people also believe in personal revelation from a personal God; one they can directly relate to. See the wisdom in believing in a God that is more like a parent than an intelligent nebula from outer space?

Now, I actually do believe that we can relate to God. The problem is that it is hard to understand very much about God so I try to focus on understanding the laws of nature which God created rather than trying to understand more about God. When I say that I don't believe in a "personal God" I mean that I don't believe that God is humanlike. I see no reason to believe that God has a body or a face or is male or female for that matter. This does not mean that I believe that God is a "nebula from outer space" or anything like that. I simply don't have a picture in my mind or an object that I have seen that is worthy of this concept. If you are able to find happiness and fulfillment in your vision of God as a great father, then more power to you.

To address the comment that you wrote on my blog yesterday, no I have not yet received the gift of fatherhood in my life. I don't believe that this would change how I think about God however.

I see no problem with people finding their own conception of God and filling in the gaps that are left by the lack of clear evidence regarding the true nature of God. This is all fine, but the problem I have is when people try to claim that one must believe a certain thing in order to achieve salvation. I have concluded that if salvation exists, whether one achieves would have to be based on how live with respect to others. Do they respect other's rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Do they act selfishly at the expense of others? Do they claim to have all of the answers and try to control the minds of others? If there is salvation, it seems to me much more reasonable that one achieves it through altruism and by admitting that they don't know the ultimate truth of God any more than that which is apparent from the evidence that God has provided for all to see.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby technicolor on Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:19 am

Brandon, I have developed a respect for your honesty in your quest for discovery. As to the nature of God, first physically; we don't have to put god in a self-interpretive box to describe him. What we should do is begin by a quest of truth. What is truth? Truth is a knowledge of things as they were, as they are; and as they are to come. As I mentioned in another discussion; if men were truly humble, they would recognize that they only discover truth, they don't create it. In my humble opinion, truth is also intelligence and light. I believe that all men are given (at birth) an innate light called a conscience. This is a shared light that god gives to us all at our inception into this world. As we grow, if we respond positively to that inner light, it grows within us and increases our virtue and intelligence. This light leads us to intelligence and truth. If we tread this virtuous trail of light and truth, we begin to discover certain things about God. We begin to realize that he understands us and loves us and that he wants us to be like him. We learn that we can actually talk to him, and are entitled to personal revelation from Him. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of god, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." That is one of his promises to us. He also relays that we were created in his image; and that didn't mean (I don't think) his imagination. We were created to look like him. To me, that is endearing. Now, others can choose to think of God as an unapproachable being, but my experience is that he is very approachable. There is a lot more to this that would take a lot of time, but simply, we are like him in embryo; and he has given us an opportunity to eventually have all that He has.
Salvation isn't achieved by only believing in him. We must work, pray and improve on a daily basis, only to take two or three steps forward and one or two back; only by human nature. But we can become sanctified in him. God said that "as in Adam, all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive". Immortality is gift to all men as a gift from God, but Eternal Life is life with God; receiving all that he has, and enjoying all that he allows us to enjoy. If we shall all be made alive, then we will all live as eternal, resurrected beings. We choose our eternal station in how we live; according to our attained knowledge. We are all judged by a perfect being, not by one another. These concepts are attained through humble discovery. even truth.
Don't get in a "wringer" this is my discovery, and I do proclaim it to be true; but it is my personal discovery.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Believer on Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:23 pm

Greetings to all in the forum,

I respect your views although I do not agree with them. It is this respect and tolerance that allows persons to coexist without conflict or all the things that you chose to blame on religion, or faith. There is no real faith for those that justify evil acts with violence or intolerance. It is not the religion or faith to blame but the persons who carry out those actions. To deem otherwise is like blaming a person for the color of their skin, in which they had no choice. Everyone has a choice in the actions they take and to take actions that carry out mistreatment however one justifies it is not in keeping with the spirit of most faiths. Everyone has a choice to believe or not in a Supreme Being and what tradition they chose to believe and practice. Blind faith? Muslims that follow Islam and as you state a false Prophet (may be be upon him and all the prophets of Islam, i.e, Noah, Abraham, Jesus, etc.) are taught to question. That does not align with blind faith. The actions of those who believe it is blasphemous to question regardless of what tradition they chose might lead to blind faith. A simple example of the error of human ways and not the error of a particular faith.

It seems to level the playing field that you can't prove that you state that persons of faith believe in something without proof, yet you offer no proof (unless I missed it) of the fact that there is no Higher Authority.

Man being the infallible creature that he is would live by laws as infallible as he if there was no person who believed in an authority greater than man. Sorry I don't want to trust the future of this world to man and his arrogance. The very characteristic that does not allow one to believe or need to think there is an entity greater than himself which cannot be confined to the pronouns limited to the description of fallible finite human beings. Guess I am a believer!

I sincerely wish you well,

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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Believer on Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:31 pm

Greetings all,

Whether a believer or not the conscience is responding to the moral teaching of faith (any faith) by family and friends over a span of time. Can any non-believer claim to have never been influence by some faith based belief? In all of our lives there was a time when we had no choice in the information we received and acted on. Are there really families with backgrounds in a hereditary sense that have NEVER been influenced by faith based lessons of right and wrong? As I throw out these questions to the forum I wonder to myself if I have the kind of blind faith in the goodness of man that I believe the world would survive or be any worse/better off without faith. I personally can very quickly respond that I do not believe in man to that extent due to the atrocities committed by both faith based persons and atheists.

Peace,

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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:39 pm

Thank you Believer for your message. Upon reading your message, it is clear that you understood me in some ways, yet totally missed my point. You wrote "you offer no proof (unless I missed it) of the fact that there is no Higher Authority." One of my main arguments is that there IS a higher authority, but that we can understand it through observation and reason, as opposed to blindly following that which is told to us from earlier generations. Observation and reason give evidence that Mohamed was not the messenger of God, but just an ordinary human being. Everyone has the ability to understand the laws of nature through observation and reason and it is these laws of nature that were created by God. What is written in the Qur'an is not what God wrote, but what people wrote.
You also wrote "There is no real faith for those that justify evil acts with violence or intolerance. It is not the religion or faith to blame but the persons who carry out those actions. To deem otherwise is like blaming a person for the color of their skin, in which they had no choice." This is false. When people believe strongly that they will achieve salvation through acts of violence, then this must be characterized as faith because there is no evidence in favor of this belief. Faith is defined as belief despite the lack of evidence. If you have some things you believe without evidence, such as, for example, that Mohamed was the messenger of God and the Qur'an is the word of God, then you believe this with faith. Unless you can produce some evidence in favor of such belief. Yes, it is the person who carries out the horrible acts but it is the culture of the religion through which it makes sense to some believers. In order to get away from this, the religion will have to base its beliefs on evidence instead of faith.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby JayFelix on Sun Jan 10, 2010 2:12 pm

By presupposing an order to the physical world and thereby confirming the value of science, which attempts to discover it, Truth, for me, is defined by the power (for lack of a better word) through which and by which and from which all things, seen and unseen, hold together. In other words, Truth is the holy grail of all the sciences and especially of theoretical physics.

But, does a moral code have anything to do with this Truth? Is the holy grail of theoretical physics capable of discerning right or wrong in relation to itself? Does living by a moral compass move an individual closer to this Truth? Does the word “wisdom” have anything to offer? Is wisdom a power by which an individual comes to understand and apply to Truth what it requires or is it wisdom when the will of an individual becomes obedient to a teaching concerning it?

Your question, concerning the value of religious teaching (Doctrine) verses the value of an open and inquiring mind in the pursuit of this Truth, is interesting. In my opinion, it is essentially the conundrum of 20th century Jesuits.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:04 pm

JayFelix wrote:By presupposing an order to the physical world and thereby confirming the value of science, which attempts to discover it, Truth, for me, is defined by the power (for lack of a better word) through which and by which and from which all things, seen and unseen, hold together. In other words, Truth is the holy grail of all the sciences and especially of theoretical physics.

The fact that you are writing these things and trying to convey a meaning to others implies that you believe these things to be true regardless of anyone's point of view. When you propose a theory that truth is defined by power, you are implying that this theory is itself true. If you don't believe that what you are writing is true, then it only makes sense for everyone to ignore you.

Now, I do see that there can be truth in what you say if the meaning is changed slightly. Since we can never actually be certain of the truth as it is regardless of anyone's point of view, what people hold as the truth can be and often is influenced by power, though I see this as only one of several factors that influence what people hold as truth. The most important is experience, be it the senses, emotions, and reason, which can only allow one to realize that which is logically implied by other beliefs that they have.

Now, I have concluded from quite a bit of personal observation that there is unfortunately a large proportion of the population who are influenced not so much by their senses or by reasoning or even, it seems, by power, but from simply believing what their social group believes. This is, by and large, why people continue to have religious faith for things for which there is no evidence whatsoever. Technicolor, you fall into this category. You may say that your beliefs are the result of "personal conversation with the Father" or some other personal experience, but the evidence says otherwise. It is simply not possible for people of so many different faiths to have these personal experiences that lead them to incompatible beliefs. The best explanation is that faithful Mormons, Evangelical Christians, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims alike all believe what they do because of one or more of the following 1) Their upbringing distorted their conception of reality permanently 2) Their attachment to the community blinds them to what their senses and reason should be telling them 3) Pure and plain insanity.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby technicolor on Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:02 pm

" Brandon, you say that you believe in a "Higher Power", but only when it is convenient as to your theorizing. You have actually constructed, in appearance, a mirage, more illusive than what my philosophy seems to secularism. At least I admit that my discovery is born first, out of Faith. Faith precedes the Miracle. It is so simple, yet so undiscovered. Why? Because you don't know how to approach this Higher power. There must be purpose and plainness in discovering the mysteries of the Universe. Truth needn't be complex. But the love of truth must be there in the quest for discovery, I feel. As pertaining to my alleged insanity, as a result of my "blind" following; my answer to you is: You theorize too much on theory and following blindly the Philosobablers of the day. These Men, true, are thinkers; but miss one very important element in their analyses; as they get too caught up in their own theory and soon like to listen to themselves too much. They shall never discover the Miracle as they refuse to try faith. Faith is the most powerful unseen component of the Universe. It is by this principal that It was created and structured. "Ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth".
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