Learning the truth about God

elder999

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Leaving aside the rest of your excellent questions, and keeping in mind that I'm not exactly a Christian anymore:

Do you have to be in church to serve God? .


This one is pretty much answered by this, for Christians, and,IMNSHO, anyone else, by this:

Matthew 25:34-40

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
And, of course, the short answer is no.

How do you know you're learning the truth about God now? How do you know it's the truth and how are you going about it?

How does it feel? How does it make you feel?

In the end, the only real "knowing" comes from within, from hearing that "still, small voice" that Isaiah listened to.
 
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I can't explain it, would not know how to begin. I don't feel anything special in church, really, most of the time. But I figure I'm not there to serve God, just to offer thanks and praise. If I feel anything, it's when I see a guy on the corner, head down, holding a sign, and I give him whatever I have on me, because He said "What you do the least of my brothers, you do to me." Also because I am not good, not kind, not decent, and a miserable failure as a human being; but Saved by Grace anyway, and that makes me feel a little better about myself.

Leaving aside the rest of your excellent questions, and keeping in mind that I'm not exactly a Christian anymore:




This one is pretty much answered by this, for Christians, and,IMNSHO, anyone else, by this:


And, of course, the short answer is no.


It would seem to me that there's a general consensus in most religions that you serve God best by serving others, and yet I know a few people of varying religous backgrounds who go to srvices religiously, and are miserable human beings, and wouldn't spit on you if you were on fire, that has always intrigued me. Are they playing the odds in the hopes that if there is a God they'll get into heaven beacuse they go to services? If that's the case I think they missed the boat.
 

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No, Atheism is a lack of belief. Agnosticism is a lack of knowledge. At one point, I was an agnostic theist. I had the belief, but couldn't say for sure that it was real. Now I am an agnostic atheist. I don't have the belief, but still can't say for sure.
I had agnostic put on my dog tags in the air force. I didn't give it much thought, as I wasn't raised in any religion, although my parents enrolled me for a time at a Lutheran school so that I could understand christianity better. In basic training it caused me some trouble. The sgt in charge of my flight used it to give me a hard time. He told me that I couldn't go to church (considered a place to relax and let your guard down for a couple of hours each week) because I wasn't religious. He told me I was going to get a sh** job every week, and then asked me what I wanted to do. I volunteered to pull KP every week at one of the female squadrons. KP was hard, dirty work, but I didn't mind at all. Acknowledging my own lack of understanding came in very handy for me.
 

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It would seem to me that there's a general consensus in most religions that you serve God best by serving others, and yet I know a few people of varying religous backgrounds who go to srvices religiously, and are miserable human beings, and wouldn't spit on you if you were on fire, that has always intrigued me. Are they playing the odds in the hopes that if there is a God they'll get into heaven beacuse they go to services? If that's the case I think they missed the boat.

I can't speak for others, and I am forbidden from judging them. What they get out of church and religion and what God thinks of them is between them and God. They may have many of the qualities that make men 'good' and I just don't see them - we are ordered to do our alms-giving and so on in secret, after all.

And ultimately, many Christians believe that 'works' are not what gets a person admission to Heaven, but simply Belief in the precepts of Christianity - God is one, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, Jesus is His only begotten Son, that Jesus was both fully God and fully Man, and that he freely gave his life to absolve us of sin. If you believe that, many Christians believe that how you choose to live your life has no bearing on your status as being 'saved by grace'.

I don't know, and I try not to spend too much time worried about others' status with regard to the Big Guy. It is a temptation, but I wonder which God looks on with more disfavor - the guy who is sitting in church trying to buy his way into heaven, or the guy makes the assumption they know who those people are?
 

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The sgt in charge of my flight used it to give me a hard time. He told me that I couldn't go to church (considered a place to relax and let your guard down for a couple of hours each week) because I wasn't religious. He told me I was going to get a sh** job every week, and then asked me what I wanted to do.

The sad thing is, I'm sure he thought he was a "good Christian." What an a-hole. I hope it didn't cause you any more trouble than that.
 

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I am the most pathetic of sinners btw; I never think anybody would see me as an example of a "good christian", and think to themselves, " I want to be just like HER!", so it's hard to share my faith because all I see are my own shortcomings.

This is one of the things that bothers me the most about current Christian teachings. I don't know you at all, but I'm pretty confident in predicting the following: 1) you aren't perfect, just like everyone else and 2) you still try to do your best most of the time, and do a reasonable job of being a decent human being. You aren't a pathetic and miserable wretch. Most of us aren't. You're just trying to get along like the rest of us. The Christian teaching that we are all pathetic scum is just degrading and counterproductive.
 

elder999

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The Christian teaching that we are all pathetic scum is just degrading and counterproductive.

I largely agree with you, however, for those of us who choose to approach God/ the Great Mystery/Foot/the Universe in a conversational matter, an attitude of humility is a useful approach. Not so much that I'm "pathetic scum," just that I'm really, really, really, really, really insignificant in the face of
 

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kaizasosei

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Religion is quite a mess. Thank God for real spirituality, love and brotherhood.


God did not just create plants, animals and man. He BECAME plant, became animal and became man.

God sleeps in the stones, breathes in the plants, dreams in animals and wakes up in man. If we search for god outside we cannot find. Just as the stars are invisible in daylight. Our very own divinity masks the true face of god.

Here's a song about as depressing as the situation is.


So where exactly is that picture from above...guessing swan or pegasus??
j
 
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thardey

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Can you explain what it is you feel when you're serving God at church? Is it serenity? euphoria? something else? Do you have to be in church to serve God? I've been trying to find out for years and nobody has ever been able to explain it to me. As I said, I find it hard to believe that there is an omnipotent and omniscient entity in the universe that cares any more about me than I do about an insect. On the other hand I find it equally difficult to believe that we are all here because of some cosmic accident and random genetic mutations. My truth and yours is obviously different and I'm wondering if I'm missing something or if I'm on the right track. It's good to re-examine one's beliefs every once in a while.

First, Elder and the rest are right, service to God is abolutely not limited to Church. It's just that for me, while in Church, I'm usually there to serve, not to be served. Also, Church is not a place where I go to "meet God." It's where I go to encourage and encourage others who are dealing with "growing pains." That is the "Great Commision" to make disciples, and by extention, to continue to be a disciple to others.

God is everywhere, he is in me, and in you, and while I may not "see" him everywhere, I see the art he has left behind to tell us what he is like. Like the power of the ocean, the stability of the mountains, the infinity of space, the intricacies of the flower, the sudden shock of the lightening -- they all give me something to understand a God that is much bigger than I can completely understand.

But serving God in general, or "being with him" whether in church, or home, or on the street, or whatever is like being married, a child, a brother, and a parent all rolled into one. Probably marriage is what it's like the most for me right now.

Sometimes, especially at first, there's the "honeymoon" when you're so excited about what you've found, and you can't shut up about how wonderful everything is, to the point where you just annoy everybody. Those who have been through it kind of sit back and let them enjoy it, because they know it won't last forever. Then there's the part where you have to start learning to live together. This is rough. This is often where I get angry at God, and I am quite honest when I tell him that I don't like how he does things. I don't do it in anger, but in honesty. (The Psalms are full of that kind of conversation with God -- those are the ones usually not sung in church. )

This is where many people think they've "fallen out of love" with God, like people "fall out of love" with their spouses. It's a time of not feeling very spiritual, and it's work. But it's also a time of growing. Eventually you get past that and sort of settle into the "old married couple" relationship and, while there are still things that really tick me off about God, the benifits far outweigh the annoyances. Of course, like marriage, you still go through the cycle on a small scale over and over, with times of emotional high, times of brutal reality, and times of rest. But one of the pictures described often in the Bible is that of marriage. "The Bride" is the Church, and the Messiah is the groom.

Overlaid with that, the magnitude of God feels like my parents, both of whom were great parents, and I have a lot of respect for them, and am close to both. When I was young, they had so much to teach me, but they taught me at the right times, and let me figure out a lot, without ever pulling away from me, or being "untouchable." Service is like being a parent, because I am helping to disciple others, who I want to teach, but I have to be patient with them, like I am with my kids. Also, I think of how I love my kids, and realize, whether I "feel" it or not, that's how God feels about me.

I've been in services where I was overwhelmed with emotion, and it wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything I would put my faith in. What helps me more is when I learned about "Love" being unconditional -- it is a gift to me, not based on what I've earned, but because of who God made me to be. It's not pity, or false modesty, or anything, but it is the true reaction to the "Spark of God" within all of us. "Created in God's image." Not in his power, or his infinity, or his royalty, but in his "personality." Like I have chacter traits of my real parents, so we all have character traits of our "Heavenly Father." The question is whether we develop them.

There was another thread that recently resurfaced about "Spirit: the forgotten third part of the triangle." And it would be easier to just read what I wrote there about being controlled by the spirit, rather than the body.

A lot of my spiritual life feels a lot like martial arts -- sometimes it's frustrating and I wonder if I'm wasting my time, other times the lightbulb comes on and I realize that I was just thinking about it wrong.

I get suspicious about people who constantly over-spiritualize everything -- it's like people who brag too much about their uber-martial arts skills. They're exaggerating because they're insecure.

Someone once described it as "Supernaturally Natural."

As I said, I find it hard to believe that there is an omnipotent and omniscient entity in the universe that cares any more about me than I do about an insect.

Not to be a nitpick, but if there is an omniscient being out there, then he knows *everything* by definition. That means he knows you personally. If he knows you personally, then of course he can care about you. If he was less than omniscient, or too pressed for time to care about what he knows, then he wouldn't be big enough to be God, would he?

I once heard an athiest claim that he didn't believe in God because he couldn't imagine that God hears everybody's prayers. Well, if God couldn't hear everybody's prayers, then he wouldn't really be omniscient. I wouldn't believe in a god that small either.
 
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thardey

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This is one of the things that bothers me the most about current Christian teachings. I don't know you at all, but I'm pretty confident in predicting the following: 1) you aren't perfect, just like everyone else and 2) you still try to do your best most of the time, and do a reasonable job of being a decent human being. You aren't a pathetic and miserable wretch. Most of us aren't. You're just trying to get along like the rest of us. The Christian teaching that we are all pathetic scum is just degrading and counterproductive.

Absolutely. The over-ephasis on our scummy nature is making it very difficult to believe that we could ever actually have a meaningful relationship with God. We tend to focus too much on "The Fall" in Genesis 3, and we forget that we are first taught that we were in the image of God, and that is what God wants us to focus on.

Everything about "falling" or "being restored" or even "sin" and "righeousness" all has to interpreted in the light of first being made after the character of God.

Without that frame of reference, the rest just becomes a sort of "You scum, you must listen to me because you are pathetic and worthless" kind of crap that abusers need to do to others to make themselves feel better. It only feels a little better when they say "You pathetic scum, you are worthless and helpless, but I'm pretty pathetic too. Just not as pathetic."

But I think it's safe to say here that we all recognize that we want to be more like whatever "divine" (mature, fulfilled, evolved, enlightented, etc.) we have in mind, and that we all still make mistakes, and we all have to deal with that. Alright then, the question then becomes whether we can grow to that "divine" ourselves, or do we need help?
 

thardey

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It would seem to me that there's a general consensus in most religions that you serve God best by serving others, and yet I know a few people of varying religous backgrounds who go to srvices religiously, and are miserable human beings, and wouldn't spit on you if you were on fire, that has always intrigued me. Are they playing the odds in the hopes that if there is a God they'll get into heaven beacuse they go to services? If that's the case I think they missed the boat.

I figure most people's idea of "religion" goes something like this:

1.) Figure out which "god" is going to win.
2.) Do your best to stay on the "winning team" and not to piss your god off.

If that means attending the team meetings, even if you sit on the bench, then you're golden.
 

Carol

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Warning...brain dump ahead...

How do you know you're learning the truth about God now? How do you know it's the truth and how are you going about it?

I submit that you can't know. That's the nature of faith, after all. God is a hypothesis with no means of external verification and testing. You can have all the religious epiphanies and experiences you like, all the prayer and conviction and numinous feelings. At the end though, that's all it is - unsubstantiated feelings. There is no way to tell if you are right.

No argument from me. That is indeed the nature of faith.

Tellingly, there are millions of other people going through the same process that come up with diametrically opposed opinions. What makes either one right?
To me...religions have a cultural reflection. I can't think of any scripture that does not reflect the culture, language, and the people at the time it is written. Which religion is right? Which one is better? I abhor the denigration of any person's faith/path. Instead, what I try to understand is...what are the values? What is the philsophy? What do I agree with, what do I not agree with? If I don't agree with a construct, do I know why I don't agree? If I don't agree with construct, do I at least understand how that came about? And sometimes the question is either....can I/will I walk this path? Will I be proud of it? Will it help me conserve what I've been able to accomplish, will it help me grow to achieve what I've not yet been able to do?

I guess for me its more about the questions, than the answers.

People also come to firm mental convictions about other phenomena we know weren't real. Why do we privilege the thoughts on God then? There is no reason to do so. Atheism is the only rational response.
Rational: based on reason, logical.

I'd have to agree. Atheism is the response that is closest in logical force. The Vulcan in me strongly approves.

So why believe? A lot comes down to personal comfort, values, priorities. I also think this is where a lot of people can differ from one another.

Example: there are many atheists that use logic and reason to justify their path. The ones that I have seen are people that value logic and reason to a great degree and see a benefit to not only logic and reason, but this kind of application of logic and reason.

I can't say that I do not see the benefit or value of logic (I have to, or else I'd be out of a job...LOL) Faith is...different. Its a chance to wonder, to ponder, to explore, to question, and to be challenged...or even motivated or comforted, in a way that I can't usually find in my logical world. Faith is a structure rigid enough to have form and function but esoteric enough to be tantalizingly out of reach.


Can you explain what it is you feel when you're serving God at church? Is it serenity? euphoria? something else?

All of the above?

Do you have to be in church to serve God? I've been trying to find out for years and nobody has ever been able to explain it to me.
One serves God with their actions, with their choices. I will freely admit to a bit of laziness on my part. I read more and studied more when I was attending services on a regular basis. I don't do as much now. Attending services does take some effort. And, I think being there for another worshiper is a selfless, and sometimes very difficult service.


Its usually not the faith that drove me away or the challenges of a moral structure. It was the human application. Power struggles, overt social cliques, a cleric insisting that "our faith is better 'n anyone else's." Someone once criticized my decision for leaving a community that I was a part of for a few years, saying that the community would only change if there were more like me, not fewer. They are right, but at the same time, fighting any battle results in a physical, mental, and emotional price. I reached a point where I had to say that I would not be paying anymore.

It's good to re-examine one's beliefs every once in a while.
Or even more often than that. ;)

It would seem to me that there's a general consensus in most religions that you serve God best by serving others, and yet I know a few people of varying religous backgrounds who go to srvices religiously, and are miserable human beings, and wouldn't spit on you if you were on fire, that has always intrigued me. Are they playing the odds in the hopes that if there is a God they'll get into heaven beacuse they go to services? If that's the case I think they missed the boat.

Living life with a sense of decency and a desire to do your best...is not something that's a spectator sport. Being part of a religion may give a person a label, but a label does not equal results. Trying to be a good person requires...trying.


This is one of the things that bothers me the most about current Christian teachings. I don't know you at all, but I'm pretty confident in predicting the following: 1) you aren't perfect, just like everyone else and 2) you still try to do your best most of the time, and do a reasonable job of being a decent human being. You aren't a pathetic and miserable wretch. Most of us aren't. You're just trying to get along like the rest of us. The Christian teaching that we are all pathetic scum is just degrading and counterproductive.

I'm no fan of it either....and many times I feel that kind of talk serves more as a release for the denegrator's own pent-up frustrations rather than serving as a humble approach to the Lord. Worse, many of the denigrating styles of teaching/preaching are from large, tightly organized, non-profit religious corporations. For some individual Christian teachers, it is like the neighborhood hardware store struggling to survive against Home Depot and Lowes.

While I don't consider myself to be a Christian, there are about a billion Christians in the world, they at least deserve the respect to not all be painted with the same brush. :asian:
 

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*edit* (sorry...wrong thread)
 
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kaizasosei

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Mentioning Sitchin in other threads, i try seeing past the simple concepts of truth and falsehood, and further propose proceeding straight into bombarding ones conciousness with other versions such as the raelian or new age mythology. One can even enjoy modern mythology such as star wars or star trek.
Taking it even further one could study the historic works of agrippa, or read the golden bough by james frazer. There are many different concepts and paradigms that can be appealing to many different people at different times. From picking at tarot cards or tossing of runes. Most common but not to be ignored are comics. How about simply observing nature up close, study science or look at pictures of real star clusters and distant galaxies. One can study not only one but all religions.
At the core of every symbol and intellectual message there is being.
In esoteric buddhism, it is taught that there is the realm of mind, body and voice.
-The mind is the visualization of the icons and the symbols such as letters or tools, the body entails the sitting exercises, martial arts and mudra of whole body the voice are the mantras calling on and bring forth of the deities.
This is a practice or science that does not simply reach out through dominant airy exclaimations.
A friend reminded me of a famous saying 'when you see the buddha, kill the buddha'
and i must admit i never really could come to an absolutely feelgood understanding of that saying. However my friend got this idea that it is referring to the fact that the buddhahood is something internal that is felt in the heart. It is not something that can be seen. All the sutras, all the deities and essentially romantic ideas are actually simply parts of the human heart or conciousness.
And what more we can attain nirvana of the mind, body of the buddha and speach of rightiousness and might, in this lifetime.
Because everything is God, and like the post above mentions trying to be a good person, there is no place to start but with oneself and the others.
Spirituality or religion and even the socalled' religious can be such a brutal imposing thing, like a battlefield, truly one can get slaughtered or lost-often by the own hand. However if this field can be crossed through forgiveness of self and also realization of truth at hand, then it becomes clear that one can only temper oneself as well as give support to others or not.


eko tenge
all be equal under heaven
 

Bill Mattocks

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You may not have intended it, but you reminded me of something. I have at times been informed by those who apparently know that all religion is false, there is no God, Christianity is a charade, and we're all fools who believe in it, and that's fine if they believe that.

Then they tell me about the fact that there are 'gods' and not 'a God'. I tell them that's polytheism, and it is religion, and they disagree with me - because it disturbs them to think they might be religious after all. Apparently, they can believe in small gods of limited power, but not one god of limitless power.

Or they tell me that God is in everything - the rocks, the trees, the air, the bees, etc. All are God. I tell them that's pantheism and that's religion too. No, no, they cry. This is just the way it is - all of nature is holy and sacred and must be protected, as nature intends. I note that if nature 'intends' anything, then nature must be a sentient being, and believing that makes a person religious - even if they don't want to admit it.

What the discussion often boils down to is that people who claim all religion is a vile canard simply have a bone to pick with Christianity. And that's fine. But they're hardly as agnostic or atheistic as they appear at first blush. They're religious - they just don't accept it.
 

kaizasosei

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[SIZE=-1]Was es ist[/SIZE]​
[SIZE=-1] Es ist Unsinn - It is nonsense
sagt die Vernunft - says reason
Es ist was es ist- it is what it is
sagt die Liebe - says love

Es ist Ungl羹ck - It is misfortune
sagt die Berechnung - says calculation
Es ist nichts als Schmerz - it is none other than pain
sagt die Angst- says fear
Es ist aussichtslos -it is hopeless
sagt die Einsicht -says insight
Es ist was es ist -it is what it is
sagt die Liebe - says love

Es ist l瓣cherlich- it is rediculous
sagt der Stolz - says pride
Es ist leichtsinnig - it is careless
sagt die Vorsicht -says care
Es ist unm繹glich - it is impossible
sagt die Erfahrung - says experience
Es ist was es ist - it is what it is
sagt die Liebe[/SIZE] -says love


a poem by erich fried
 
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morph4me

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You may not have intended it, but you reminded me of something. I have at times been informed by those who apparently know that all religion is false, there is no God, Christianity is a charade, and we're all fools who believe in it, and that's fine if they believe that.

Then they tell me about the fact that there are 'gods' and not 'a God'. I tell them that's polytheism, and it is religion, and they disagree with me - because it disturbs them to think they might be religious after all. Apparently, they can believe in small gods of limited power, but not one god of limitless power.

Or they tell me that God is in everything - the rocks, the trees, the air, the bees, etc. All are God. I tell them that's pantheism and that's religion too. No, no, they cry. This is just the way it is - all of nature is holy and sacred and must be protected, as nature intends. I note that if nature 'intends' anything, then nature must be a sentient being, and believing that makes a person religious - even if they don't want to admit it.

What the discussion often boils down to is that people who claim all religion is a vile canard simply have a bone to pick with Christianity. And that's fine. But they're hardly as agnostic or atheistic as they appear at first blush. They're religious - they just don't accept it.

So then it can be said that everyone, no matter what their beliefs, have found the truth about God. Since the truth about God is based on each individuals "knowing" that they understand. In my agnostisicm I have found the truth about God, and the atheists, polythiests and panthiests have also found the truth. If that's the case I think it makes complete sense, God is what each individual needs when they need it.
 

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I've watched this thread with a mix of interest, fear, and dread. With great caution, I'd like to throw a few thoughts into the 'idea ring'.

Not meaning to pick on Morph, but taking off from his last comment, I have to disagree with the idea that God is whatever you find Him or think Him to be. In my personal experience, my overriding goal in seeking to 'know God' has been the search for truth - and that must mean that God is exactly the way He is, irrespective of whatever any of the rest of us think, feel, or believe. I don't want a delusion, no matter how pleasant it might be: I want truth, and if that truth is that God is nothing like what I thought, then so be it.

And just so Morph knows that I'm not picking on him, the real reason I wanted to join the conversation was an idea related to his signature line:

"Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men"


Going back to the original question of this thread (something akin to, "How do you know you are learning the truth about God?"), I think perhaps the best place to start is to ask the related question, "How do you 'know' anything?" When even our own names are only 'known' by us because someone else told us, it is hard to get a handle on how we can be sure of anything. The one (and only) thing I have found to be of benefit in trying to 'figure out' the difference between truth and error is logic.

Most people don't equate faith and logic; in fact some argue faith can't be logical (or it isn't faith). For me, I've found the best tool to know what to believe is to use logic to weed out what not to believe. In this way, I've built a framework for my faith very much like a geometry proof - start with a few simple assumptions (postulates, if you will) and see what are their logical consequences. If I hit a contradiction, back up and re-evaluate the series of preceding conclusions and/or some of my first postulates. It has allowed me to weed out some philosophical lines of thinking altogether. It also allows me to 'kick the tires' and reevaluate the foundations of my own faith on a regular basis.

The 'logical' approach builds a series of "If-Then" statements that can be known as absolute fact. It helps to weed out beliefs that are contradictory or irrational. Of course, the 'downside' is that the validity of such a faith is only as good as the validity of the initial assumptions.

On the other hand, the major source of information for a quest for truth about God must be more personal: if God exists (which I have come to believe He does), then He is capable of revealing information about Himself directly to us. Such a God either desires to be known by us or doesn't desire to be known by us. If the latter is true, then all my attempts to 'know' this God are futile. But if the former is true, then I can rest assured that He is more than capable of getting His message across to me and ensuring that I get the 'right' message. I will still use the tools He has given me (including logic, math, history, personal experience, the counsel of others and their experiences) to evaluate whatever I *think* I find or know, but ultimately I can rest assured that He will make the information and experiences I need available to me, so I can understand to the level of my capacity and His desire.
 

Raynac

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You may not have intended it, but you reminded me of something. I have at times been informed by those who apparently know that all religion is false, there is no God, Christianity is a charade, and we're all fools who believe in it, and that's fine if they believe that.

Then they tell me about the fact that there are 'gods' and not 'a God'. I tell them that's polytheism, and it is religion, and they disagree with me - because it disturbs them to think they might be religious after all. Apparently, they can believe in small gods of limited power, but not one god of limitless power.

Or they tell me that God is in everything - the rocks, the trees, the air, the bees, etc. All are God. I tell them that's pantheism and that's religion too. No, no, they cry. This is just the way it is - all of nature is holy and sacred and must be protected, as nature intends. I note that if nature 'intends' anything, then nature must be a sentient being, and believing that makes a person religious - even if they don't want to admit it.

What the discussion often boils down to is that people who claim all religion is a vile canard simply have a bone to pick with Christianity. And that's fine. But they're hardly as agnostic or atheistic as they appear at first blush. They're religious - they just don't accept it.

Hmm this sounds familiar, I have a friend who denies that he has a conscience because he believes that its something spiritual and wants nothing to do with it. even after we pointed our the fact that a conscience could be interperted as a word representing the way the brain deciedes on whiether it want's to participate in an event or not.

... is there such a thing as religionphobia?
 
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morph4me

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I've watched this thread with a mix of interest, fear, and dread. With great caution, I'd like to throw a few thoughts into the 'idea ring'.

Not meaning to pick on Morph, but taking off from his last comment, I have to disagree with the idea that God is whatever you find Him or think Him to be. In my personal experience, my overriding goal in seeking to 'know God' has been the search for truth - and that must mean that God is exactly the way He is, irrespective of whatever any of the rest of us think, feel, or believe. I don't want a delusion, no matter how pleasant it might be: I want truth, and if that truth is that God is nothing like what I thought, then so be it.

And just so Morph knows that I'm not picking on him, the real reason I wanted to join the conversation was an idea related to his signature line:

"Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men"


Going back to the original question of this thread (something akin to, "How do you know you are learning the truth about God?"), I think perhaps the best place to start is to ask the related question, "How do you 'know' anything?" When even our own names are only 'known' by us because someone else told us, it is hard to get a handle on how we can be sure of anything. The one (and only) thing I have found to be of benefit in trying to 'figure out' the difference between truth and error is logic.

Most people don't equate faith and logic; in fact some argue faith can't be logical (or it isn't faith). For me, I've found the best tool to know what to believe is to use logic to weed out what not to believe. In this way, I've built a framework for my faith very much like a geometry proof - start with a few simple assumptions (postulates, if you will) and see what are their logical consequences. If I hit a contradiction, back up and re-evaluate the series of preceding conclusions and/or some of my first postulates. It has allowed me to weed out some philosophical lines of thinking altogether. It also allows me to 'kick the tires' and reevaluate the foundations of my own faith on a regular basis.

The 'logical' approach builds a series of "If-Then" statements that can be known as absolute fact. It helps to weed out beliefs that are contradictory or irrational. Of course, the 'downside' is that the validity of such a faith is only as good as the validity of the initial assumptions.

On the other hand, the major source of information for a quest for truth about God must be more personal: if God exists (which I have come to believe He does), then He is capable of revealing information about Himself directly to us. Such a God either desires to be known by us or doesn't desire to be known by us. If the latter is true, then all my attempts to 'know' this God are futile. But if the former is true, then I can rest assured that He is more than capable of getting His message across to me and ensuring that I get the 'right' message. I will still use the tools He has given me (including logic, math, history, personal experience, the counsel of others and their experiences) to evaluate whatever I *think* I find or know, but ultimately I can rest assured that He will make the information and experiences I need available to me, so I can understand to the level of my capacity and His desire.

This is actually exactly what I was hoping for when I started this thread.

The 'logical' approach builds a series of "If-Then" statements that can be known as absolute fact. It helps to weed out beliefs that are contradictory or irrational. Of course, the 'downside' is that the validity of such a faith is only as good as the validity of the initial assumptions.

If it won't make you too uncomfortable, would you mind sharing your initial assumptions

On the other hand, the major source of information for a quest for truth about God must be more personal: if God exists (which I have come to believe He does), then He is capable of revealing information about Himself directly to us. Such a God either desires to be known by us or doesn't desire to be known by us. If the latter is true, then all my attempts to 'know' this God are futile. But if the former is true, then I can rest assured that He is more than capable of getting His message across to me and ensuring that I get the 'right' message.

If this is the case, shouldn't everyone who is searching for the truth about God come to the same conclusions? If God wants to be known, wouldn't he get the same message across to everyone who searches? Wouldn't he assure that everyone got the 'right' message? If that were the case it would seem to me that there would only be one religion, and we would all follow it because God would ensure that we all knew the same truth? For me, the more I learn, the more questions I have.
 

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