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Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey)
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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/19/2012 16:10:30 MDT Print View

I originally was going to post this in the "The basic math behind Christianity..." thread, but seeing as I was most likely just going to get bombarded with reactions by angry Christians, I decided it was better to create my own thread. This is basically first a reaction to that thread and then an longer reply to Casey's query. So reposting...

I'm not going to attempt to take on this debate other than to state a few reactions. Trying to convince people who already are set on one monolithic view to see alternative views is an impossible task. Right from the start, the moment Cesar voiced his alternative opinion in this "debate" he was accused of being "rude". I thought the OP was a call for discussing the merits of the idea that non-Chritians would or would not go to hell? Does the reactions of so many here mean that non-Christians, who don't believe in the Christian god, have no say in this discussion, including anyone who questions the very existence of any gods? It seems so from what has been said. Basically what this discussion has deteriorated to is, "Christians believe what they believe and it is they who, through their beliefs, determine what the fate of everyone else in the world is. If you question this, you are being disrespectful of Christian beliefs. End of discussion.".

It gets out of hand very quickly. As Khadar Ahmad states, "P.S. I hate the flaming on the theological questions on every forum... No one seems to be able to talk this things rationally :( ".

A very big +1 to Cesar, who made a brave attempt in a rather "hostile" atmosphere. Was he rude. I don't believe so at all. He was merely asking the questions that one of those 84% of non-Chsitians in the OP would have asked. A person like me.

To everyone participating in this thread, I'd be interested to know what belief system you were brought up with versus the belief system you have now.

Generally, I tend to only have discussions of this type with people if their "former" and "latter" beliefs are different.

My background is as mishmashed as Khadar's. My father is a Filipino-American Black. His father was Catholic, his mother, an African American from South Carolina, was Methodist. My father was raised a Catholic and in fact studied for the seminary before deciding to study science and became an atheist. My mother is German and is Lutheran. She is quite religious, but in a very open-minded manner. She loves studying and learning about many religions.

I was baptized as a Catholic (in spite of my mother's protests), spent my younger years in the States going to Sunday school and to masses, and went to a Catholic elementary and high school here in Japan. Thing is, it was Japan, a secular country if ever there was one. My school also harbored students from 78 different countries and cultures, with most of the students being from other religions. Quite a challenge for the Jesuit brothers who taught at the school, which forced them to come up with a way to tolerate everyone under one roof, especially during the 1970's when Israel and Egypt were at war and two of my close friends, the sons of the ambassadors of Israel and Egypt, were in the same class together and friends. Living in Japan also extremely strongly affected everything I saw in the world, and the utterly different outlook on the world and what was important and what ethics were based on challenged everything I had been taught in Christianity. Japan has no sense, whatsoever, of "original sin", none. There is a total lack of the sense of guilt about so many of the issues that Christians go on and on and on and on about. It even translates to how law is designed here, very much ignoring litigation and strongly working on the idea of reconciliation, with the premise that all people come basically from a state of being good, that somewhere along the way they just got confused. It makes for a very different society, one that has extremely low rates of crime and throughout the country there is a very apparent sense of mutual respect, contentment, and safety. It's not perfect, but it sure does work well here. And that has affected how I see everything.

For a long time I struggled with deism. While in college in America I met a lot of different people, most especially Christians, who were passionate about getting me to switch over to their beliefs, others who just wanted to share how they see the world. I spent a lot of time talking with Born-Again Christians, Christian Scientists, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Quakers, Hari Krishnas, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Jains, Sihks, a Zoroastrian, even followers of Rasjneeshpuram wearing their red attire. All these differences, along with deep reading of many of the books from different beliefs and taking many courses in religion, only served to distance me from any one group holding an undeniable answer. More often than not the variety of beliefs just made me realize that there was no one answer, or if there was, it was more akin to Gandhi's Universal Truth than to what one religion claimed. I became what I now know to be known as "apathetic agnosticism"... I simply don't care, and no one's arguments are going to influence me in any direction.

However, I do want spiritualism in my life. Therefore I began to study and practice, everyt day in my life, Buddhism, which in no way has a belief in any form of deity. In it's very essence it eschews any predetermined idea of what the world is all about. That's what the whole "nothingness" is all about (though I'm stating it exceedingly simply here).

As Steven Hanlon so aptly put it (for me, too, at least):

my church is the wilderness at twilight. my religion is self reliance. my faith is in myself and the goodness of others.

I'd just add, to self-reliance, cooperating with and being good to others. (Yes, I am completely aware that Jesus said some of these things, and believe it or not, I completely subscribe to everything he said except his point about him being god)

Edited by butuki on 03/19/2012 16:18:10 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/19/2012 16:16:42 MDT Print View

See, I disagree with you about Cesar. I thought he was rude and said so.

If two Jews, for example, were discussing a particular difficult tenet of Judaism, it would be awfully rude of me to jump right in and say "hey, you two need to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior!!!". An atheist jumping in asking that they prove to him the existence of any god at all before they proceed would be just as rude!

In contrast, if someone were simply exploring the existence or non existence of religion -- then that's an invitation for pretty much anyone interested to jump into the exchange.

There is a good reason, Miguel, why you decided to start a new thread. It's the more proper thing to do and that's why you did it.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Angry? on 03/19/2012 16:20:49 MDT Print View

I didn't see any flaming or anger in the discussion. Perhaps I am blind to it, could
you point out the wording that sounds angry?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/19/2012 16:21:34 MDT Print View

But now to the point of this thread...


To me, churches, institutions, rituals, etc., etc. are all part of a tool kit to help us discern meaning and purpose of life. The tool kit is a vast one, and not everyone will want (or need) to use every piece of tool that is available. And of course, like anything, tools can be used -- and misused.

If it seems clearer to you that your path to the Almighty is through the beauty of Nature, then that's what you should focus on. For others, it might be a church. But the difference really isn't important at all, is it? The same goes for the color of vestments, calendars, etc., etc.

But that's not to say that there is therefore no difference between religions. Because if we strip away all the exterior rituals and vestment colors... there are basic and fundamental differences that separate one religion from another. For one person who is perfectly at peace with "apathetic agnosticism", for example, someone else will be uncomfortable.

My spew is that we all need to find our own way. I think we will know it when we are at ease and at peace. The only time we get in trouble is when people start arguing that there way is better. My spew is that their way may truly be better -- for them.

Edited by ben2world on 03/19/2012 16:44:05 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/19/2012 16:38:33 MDT Print View

There is a good reason, Miguel, why you decided to start a new thread. It's the more proper thing to do and that's why you did it.

You completely misunderstand me, Ben. I started this thread because I do not want to discuss the topic that you are all discussing there, and therefore if I had posted it there I would have been rude. Cesar was, and I completely support him on this, discussing the topic. You and the others were just not giving him deserved respect and listening to him, simply because he was stating ideas that were not the accepted Christian view, which I find rude in return, especially because the OP specifically targets the fate of non-Christians, who ought to have their own say in the matter. Christians so often do that. It is impossible to talk with people like that. I have no interest in most of the people's conclusions there and really don't care what you all want to state as the truth (yes, there is a whole other world out there that never even mentions the word "Christianity" or "Jesus" and is utterly indifferent to the existence of Christianity). Those are your beliefs and I have neither the right nor the desire to change them. I also started this discussion as someone who is decidedly not Christian, as a way for those who are not Christian to be free to talk a little about where they come from (though Christians are, of course, completely welcome to join in, as long as they completely respect other's right to say what they want, refrain for proselytizing, and act civil). The main topic here, though, is as a response to Casey's question, about changing one's beliefs. I would hope that you and anyone else who has strong opinions on the other thread respect that here and do not let it degenerate into religious diatribe. I'm not interested in discussing "the truth", just hearing what others have experienced and why they made those decisions.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/19/2012 16:41:30 MDT Print View

My point is that we were not giving Cesar much chance to talk because he rudely barged in and wanted to take a very specific thread (as indicated by topic heading) into a whole different scope and a whole different direction. Period.

Notice how in YOUR thread, I did not deem it appropriate to 'push' Christianity. There is a difference. And we should discuss your topic in your thread, no?

Edited by ben2world on 03/19/2012 16:42:56 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Angry? on 03/19/2012 16:43:25 MDT Print View

I didn't see any flaming or anger in the discussion. Perhaps I am blind to it, could
you point out the wording that sounds angry?

To name just one, calling someone rude for having stated their opinion (and quite civilly I might add) is definitely an angry reaction, if reserved.

But let us not dwell on that here.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Angry? on 03/19/2012 16:44:45 MDT Print View

"But let us not dwell on that here."

Except you were the one who started it here. You overlooked Cesar's rudeness because his altogether different topic happened to be right up your alley. That is no excuse.

Edited by ben2world on 03/19/2012 16:45:52 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/19/2012 16:47:01 MDT Print View

Notice how in YOUR thread, I did not deem it appropriate to 'push' Christianity. There is a difference. And we should discuss your topic in your thread, no?

True. Though I will never go so far as to call anything I've started in BPL forums as "mine". This is a community. When you states something out in the open it becomes the community's, yes?

I am genuinely interested in hearing why people choose to believe what they do, including your belief in Christianity, Ben. I'd love to hear why it means so much to each individual. I think hearing each person's love of a belief, without proselytizing, would actually be very beautiful to read.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/19/2012 16:48:08 MDT Print View

Edited. Miguel, did you have a chance to read my response (response, not retorts) above?

Edited by ben2world on 03/19/2012 16:50:26 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/19/2012 16:48:09 MDT Print View

"Trying to convince people who already are set on one monolithic view to see alternative views is an impossible task."

Not entirely true. The apostle Paul wrote many of the books of the New Testament of the Holy Bible. Before he was converted by God, he persecuted and killed Christians for their beliefs.

Edited by jshann on 03/19/2012 16:49:45 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/19/2012 16:52:37 MDT Print View

But we need to be mindful of Subject, no?

Probably I didn't state it very well or clearly. "Changing Personal Belief's" was probably not the best title.

Basically I am interested in hearing, from within your own experience, why you believe what you do, including why you might have changed your beliefs.

Perhaps that sounds a bit more like what I meant to start.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Expressing What You Love About Your Beliefs (is that better?) on 03/19/2012 16:56:29 MDT Print View

Miguel, did you have a chance to read my response (response, not retorts) above?

Erm, I think so! We're so busy rewriting our earlier posts that surely we must be overlapping! LOL! (^J^)/"

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
The other thread... on 03/19/2012 19:52:17 MDT Print View

I didn't think the other thread turned into Christians stating everyone else was wrong, really I thought there was more tearing down or clawing at Christian beliefs more than anything since the very basis of my thread was questioning the foundations of Christianity.

I think when Cesar jumped in he was really starting a new thread. I was asking about others beliefs concerning Christianity, Cesar was taking the debate a big step further and turning it into 'does god exist'. The topics are related but each one is, I think, worthy of its own thread and then some.

To respond specifically to your topic about changing beliefs, I was raised as a Christian, protestant, Methodist mainly. All of my friends and family are various denominations of Protestant or Catholic. Until proven otherwise, I no longer believe the bible is the spoken word of God. I believe the bible has human error/influence and that calls into question any and all of it. Specifically I do not believe God would design a system whereby Christians are the only people that go to heaven and all others are damned to eternal hell. Therefore I do not think I can call myself a Christian, maybe only in tradition and up bringing. In other words you might find me attending a church, taking my son to church, probably won't find me in any other religious institution...however I am open to discovering/learning about other religions. Overall I just feel okay with not having a religion or being religious. I will continue to put my focus on attending the cathedral of the outdoors and viewing God's creation, trying to be a good husband, father, friend, employee, and person.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/19/2012 20:19:50 MDT Print View

Mom was catholic. Dad was protestant. We (all eight of us kids) went to catholic church/were raised catholic (baptized, communion, confirmation, alter boys/girls, the whole shebang). None of us kids took it very seriously, as we were dropped off at church in the beginning - neither of my parents went with us. They were not exactly religious (until one of my brothers died in 1990, they became much more religious after that).

They (or at least one of them) started going with us when Mom came to pick us up from church one day and found us returning from downtown (she came early, not fair!). Yup, she would drop us off, we would walk toward the church as she drove away, and then we'd go do whatever we wanted to do (which wasn't sitting in church), just ensuring we got back to the church before she did.

After one/both started attending with us (to ensure we actually attended), we still didn't take it all that seriously. It's simply what you did Sunday mornings, it had no bearing on our lives.

When I moved out of the house at 17 I stopped going to church altogether (well, I went to midnight mass at christmas once when I was really drunk for something to do, but that doesn't count.....) until I joined the army when I was around 20. I don't really remember why, but I became very 'religious' and very catholic. Church more than just Sunday, started reading the bible, stopped smoking, wouldn't have sex with my girlfriend any more until we were married (she, and funny enough her father, were not amused). I was actually a bit of an outcast at basic training and advanced individual training because of my religious beliefs and fervor (though I was never a proselytizer, I simply didn't drink or smoke or swear, and read my new testament at every break. I hung out with the only other 'religious' person at AIT, a mormon. He took me to one of his services, it was interesting).

Not sure when I fell off the cart, as it were, but I was back to my old ways not too long after I got married. This lasted a couple of years, when, as I went through divorcing my first wife, I became very religious again. Baptized in a southern baptist church and everything. Burned all my vinyl records in a big bonfire at my sister's house near Rochester, NY. Went to a baptist church near Rochester, studied the bible, was a pretty well respected member of the small congregation.

A couple of years later took a dive into the fires of hell again, and never went back to the 'good' life. I've thought a lot about it over the years, read some interesting things, had some interesting discussions, but never had the urge to get into religion again. My second wife was agnostic, and one of the most decent people I've ever known - certainly more loving, giving and caring than most of the self-proclaimed christians we came across.

I like Miguel's "apathetic agnosticism", only for me it would be "apathetic atheism." I simply don't care either, no one's arguments are going to influence me, and I have no interest in trying to 'convert' people to my way of thinking, but I do enjoy discussing the issues when people are actually willing to discuss. I have very good friends who are devout, and I love them dearly. I have very good friends who are atheists/agnostics, and I love them dearly. I'm not sure what my dog believes, but I love her dearly too. I think she just worships at the food bowl, which means, to her, I'm god. I guess that's kinda cool.

I do have a coworker with whom I get along very well, he's a good ole christian Oklahoma boy. I can actually make him back away from me at times, convinced, truly, that I am about to get struck by lightning for some joke or comment I've made. I enjoy that too.

Edited by idester on 03/19/2012 20:21:04 MDT.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Re: Re: Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/20/2012 01:37:15 MDT Print View

I would first give a big thanks to Miguel for sticking up for me. :)

"My point is that we were not giving Cesar much chance to talk because he rudely barged in and wanted to take a very specific thread (as indicated by topic heading) into a whole different scope and a whole different direction. Period."

You have an interesting version of what "rude" is. If I am rude for asking questions, then I don't really know what to call say, someone physically assaulting me while screaming obscene insults at me at the same time (which has happened to me before, and imagine others here too). That's rude. Asking challenging questions in a debate I would hardly call rude.

Then look how you frame what happened. I "barged" in, as if we were in a private room that was blocked by security and I shoved my way past. Please. This is an internet forum open to all, and all I did was chose to participate, and did so in a manner which I believe to be reasonable.

Next, the issue of a whole different direction. I disagree that what I attempted to do was a whole different scope and direction, and will again repeat that my call to support the given assumptions is indeed related. The OP, if I remember correctly, did not have any disclaimers about accepting the base assumptions of Christianity. I obviously do not accept them, and felt such a perspective ought to be voiced. I did so in a manner that was devoid of personal insults, nor did I even use subjective terms such as say, "rude" towards anyone.

The author of the OP asked to operate under the given of Jesus is the one true god. To which I respected and gave scriptural support, something that I never saw Ben or other Christians do regarding my challenge to do so regarding Christians that believe that there is no hell. This is the epitome of cherry picking. Of course there are Christians that reject the notion of hell, that's because it's an absurd and wholly unfair idea. But in ignoring hell, you ignore the bible, and this is even more difficult to accomplish than say, not eating shellfish (i.e. "I follow the NT only"), because the idea of unforgivable sin Jesus himself says in two different gospels, and the idea of hell is all over the NT as well.

You could of course play semantics with the word "hell", but you can't discard the big picture of eternal punishment. Jesus himself gives the wedding parable in Matt 22 that speaks of throwing a wedding guest into the outer darkness and having his teeth gnashed all because he didn't have on proper wedding attire--and this is his analogy for the kingdom of heaven! He even states, "Many are called, but few are chosen".

But anyhow, I can't say that I am surprised by being called rude. It's a distraction from actually addressing an issue, and an easy cop out. Anyone can just call anyone else rude, it's another thing all together to get down to the bottom of your belief structure and substantiate it.

I, and anyone else, in a debate, has every reason to ask for the given axioms and assumptions under which said debate will use as givens, unless the givens are clearly stated. If the given of Jesus as the one true god was clearly stated in the OP in question, then by all means, I offer a sincere apology, as I did not understand that to be the case. If not, I say why not get down to the bottom of it? Why dance around the elephant in the room? To accept that there are both an unforgivable sin and a place to punish this sin forever, one must first accept Jesus as the one and only god.

I see no good reason to accept that Jesus is the one and only god, and the burden is not on me to "disprove" Jesus or anything else. The burden of support is on those that make claims. We don't demand that people "disprove" elves or trolls, we ask those that claim they exist to provide us with evidence. I say get to the meat of the issue. Prove why there ought to exist any god at all in the first place. Then prove that there is only one god. Then and only then can you move on to the many assumptions that Christianity makes, some of which contradict one another.

Now before 4 different people come at me and I won't be able to respond to them all, let's make this easy and keep this between Ben and I. Ben I challenge you to a one on one debate here in Chaff regarding the existence of god. I pledge to be polite and not to resort to any ad hom. fallacies or any such personal insults or subjective personal terms. As given axioms, I accept the following:

1. My mind exists
2. Other minds exist
3. The universe exists

Your task, should you accept, would be to demonstrate X in the following:

1. A god exists because of X.

Either you can create a thread for us to have this discussion or I can, I leave that up to you. I have already demonstrated why at the very least your charge of me being "rude" is questionable, and will consider the matter resolved unless you have something else to offer to evaluate your charge. I also consider all of the above relevant to this thread because I was specifically named, so here I am to defend myself, as well as offer two different rebuttals as well as a challenge for a separate debate (of which are also directly related to the issues at hand). I hope I did so without being rude, and can assure you I have only good intentions here (i.e. the pursuit of truth). Thanks and I look forward to your reply.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Re: Re: Re: Re: Changing Personal Beliefs (response to Casey) on 03/20/2012 07:05:23 MDT Print View

Cesar -

In a way I think you were kind of being rude, not that I care...seriously. Your thoughts/comments are thought provoking and I want to discuss and hear more about your opinions but you were trying to force the thread in another direction.

What I would compare it to is if I was asking about the best tent and you said "none, a hammock is the best way to sleep in the woods, before we can discuss the best tent you first have to prove to me that a hammock is not the best way to sleep when backpacking".

The topics are related but pretty different conversations/debates.

Edited by TylerD on 03/20/2012 07:09:09 MDT.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
um... on 03/20/2012 07:40:20 MDT Print View

TyTy, the analogy would be more like:

you stated there is only one shelter worth using and then someone stated that there are many shelter options and that your exclusion of those other options is problematic.

i grew up in the Methodist church. i stopped going when i was a teen, my parents still go to church as do my two sisters. when i was 17 thru 19 i explored many different religions, visited and spoke with priests, rabbis, preachers, reverends.

i do not believe in God, gods, or other invisible sky people. IMO religion and the mystic beliefs existed at a time when people had questions but no knowledge of the physical world to answer them.

at the time, the Greek gods were very real, but today, how many people follow mythology?

Edited by asciibaron on 03/20/2012 07:46:54 MDT.

Ryan Tucker
(BeartoothTucker) - M
2 cents on 03/20/2012 07:44:05 MDT Print View


I read chaff religiously. Pun intended. Rarely post. Seems futile in many ways.

Rude. I would say the tone and approach you are using lends to being accused of being rude. However, this is chaff.

I would say to those accusing you of being rude...this is chaff. The topic is about a one true God. Emotions and ideals are going to be polarizing. Tougher skin may be appropriate if you plan to post.

Full disclosure: I am a Christian.

I appreciate your efforts to draw out a substantive debate on the existence of God. The problem is if one believes God exist for the most part one must exercise Faith to believe in the existence of God. There is no proof because faith is required. Substantial proof isn't possible when Faith is a bases of support. From my perspective this requirement of faith is the beauty of the Creator/Creation relationship. As cliche as this verse is Hebrews 11:1 is apt, the entire chapter goes on to share how faith and people who accept God through time have lived by faith. Faith is a necessary component of following God. In the Judeo Christian understanding "The One True God". I recognize a human wrote Hebrews, scholars debate if it was Paul. The writing style seems to mirror Paul. I am of the opinion that we do not know who wrote this book. So why would I choose to follow? Faith.

To be clear, if you sense any malicious intent in this post I did not desire to convey my contrary opinion in a way that was disrespectful of your right to believe as you want.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: um... on 03/20/2012 07:47:52 MDT Print View

In my opinion as well, Cesar was not being rude. What he did happens pretty much in every thread. Someone will want to discuss if they should bring two or three extra socks and someone will reply, why any extra socks at all? Threads rarely stay exactly on the path intended by the OP; that's just the way it is. If Cesar was rude, which is a possibility, then any post that does not adhere to the exact discussion intended by the OPs, is rude.