I think we're just disagreeing on what "the truth" means. You seem to take it to mean "faith". I'm interpreting it to mean "anything that is true". Religion doesn't generally tell us "the truth" about how rain happens, or how internal combustion works, or electricity, or any of a zillion things that science covers quite nicely.
Quite right. We are kind of all over the map. What I am specifically referring to is the truth of "What is God" or to quote Pontius Pilate "What is truth?" I ask you to consider it this way: If there is any "truth" to God then it would imply that there is a true meaning to our existence that is set by God. This is, of course, assuming that we have an agreed upon definition of the God to which we are referring to. I am not talking about Spinoza's god of a mere force or pattern of nature but rather a sentient, conscious, aware, omniscient, omnipotent, eternal creator of all existence.. which to my knowledge the God of Abraham is the only one in history that is described as such. Ahura Mazda of Zoroastrianism can certainly not be claimed to be as such and even Vishnu is said to have a distinct form as well as having to perform maintenance upon creation which would seem to imply that he/she is still of the universe and not beyond it.. where as the God of Abraham is the only one which claims to have no ultimate form that can be rightfully presented on Earth except for His Name alone.. hence "The Word" (of which Christ is also described as "The Word" which became flesh.. but this may be getting beyond this particular dialog.
Truth, of course, implies something that is known.. that is thought about and processed as such by a sentient mind. If we are to assume that human beings are the sole sentient minds in the universe then it surely may be assumed that human minds would be the deciding factors in what truth actually is.. in which case indeed there is no "true" truth.. because as science does point out.. we can't "know" everything.. and the only truth would have to involve knowing everything. Now to go beyond that: if there is a higher consciousness that exists and that does indeed know everything that this consciousness would naturally have a 'truth' that is more true than our own knowledge of the truth which in essence would have to logically mean that our truth isn't truth at all but a falsehood. Taking that a step further: if there is a sentient creator force such as the God that I am speaking of that created all of creation then the "truth" of that particular entity would supersede all other "truths" and in effect rending all other truths to be false. In that regard: if indeed it is a fact that God is real then it would behoove us to seek to discover that truth above the falsehoods that we seek to hold to and to seek in all honesty and due diligence to know and understand that truth as it would have to be the answer to the question of our existence.
I also still completely disagree with the idea that Religion isn't primarily about teaching and enforcing morality. Doubly so Christianity.
Religion in general: yes; I agree that the idea is to find some area of social standard and this holds true throughout most religions but this is certainly not limited to religions. There are plenty of other social methodologies that seek to teach and enforce the same thing without the irrational "wizard in the sky will punish you" element.. and indeed the religions that have spawned out of Christ's teaching are no exception.
I don't know what the **** lame Christian churches you encountered in your life, but I don't know of any that actually teach you that your deeds and thoughts don't matter, but just believing in Christ does. Maybe there are some out there born again groups that teach that, but the mainstream Christian sects (which make up the overwhelming majority of all Christians worldwide), don't only not teach that, they specifically teach the opposite.
Once again; anyone that actually has good Bible teaching should be able to know that the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ was not to teach everyone how to get along and to live in peace and harmony and sunshine and lolipops.. I believe this is what is called Dominionism which in my view is a totally false doctrine along with all of the prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen who teach that all you have to do is have faith and live happy and you will transform yourself and the world.. it really is new age paganism repackaged for the lost and gullible. That is the true opiate of the masses. The Bible plainly states that this physical world is NOT our true home and to seek perfection here will be fruitless. This is why the Bible says things like Satan is the god of this world and that this world is passing away and that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. It sounds like, in your Christian upbringing, that you have been duped just like many others if this is what you were taught and what you have concluded. This in no way is to imply that our thoughts and deeds don't matter, as you say.. but that our thoughts and deeds will be replaced in the process of sanctification that comes only after one is "born-again" that is born of the spirit as opposed to our birth of the flesh. This isn't some fringe element of Christ's teaching this is the very essence of Christ's teachings and I might add that Christ was also very clear that there would be a wide array of false doctrine out there so I do agree that the "mainstream" religion of Christianity may teach this but I am saying that just because they are main stream does not make them true when they butcher God's Word in the way that you and I are describing here.
Having grown up Catholic, which is the sect which actually has the supposed "get out of jail free" card in the form of a sacrament of Confession, does not teach this. Again, quite the opposite. If you go to a Catholic priest, thinking you're clever and you point out that a Catholic could do whatever he wants for his entire life and then just confess at the end and he's granted an express ticket to heaven, he'll sit your **** down and explain quite clearly how you are dead dead wrong. That may be a misconception that other folks have, but that's not how it works. A Confession has to be real. You have to actually honestly realize what you did was wrong, and intend to atone for it in some way (the whole penance thing).
I am sorry that you have experienced such things but the doctrine of confession to a priest for atonement is not scriptural. It was a power play by the Vatican for the very purpose of maintaining control of the public. The bible plainly teaching that there is one atonement and it was completed on the cross at Calvary. That is it. All sins were atoned for, past, present, and future for those that believe and are born-again in the Spirit.. This why Jesus said "It is done". Once this transformation happens an individual does not cease to be a "sinner" but is convicted by an indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the process of sanctification takes place and will not be completed until the individual is "glorified" which will never happen why they still exist in this world. The difference between a person redeemed by Christ and not-redeemed by Christ isn't that they are any less of a sinner but that God will not judge them for their sins.. and furthermore this certainly does NOT mean that we are to go on sinning but AFTER the born-again experience we seek to stop sinning and do what is right not out of fear of punishment but rather out of love and gratitude for what God has done for us by providing us with the atoning work of Christ.
This is such a vast difference from the teachings of the Vatican that it is astonishing but there you have it and this is why so many people that have analytical minds (such as yourself) and were raised in the Catholic church reject it.. because it is not what Christ taught. I am not trying to get into an argument against Catholicism but any honest look at the history of the Catholic church and the popes seem to make it very clear that there is something deeply wrong with it. I am not claiming that just because someone is a Catholic that they cannot be saved and I am also not saying that the Catholic church has the sole monopoly for false doctrine. As I said; Religions are just an unfortunate after-birth of of the true teachings of Christ.. They may contain some element of them but all in all they are tainted by human ego, politics, and greed.. just like every other element of human society.
The problem is with people selectively quoting from the bible and not really understanding the context. "Belief in Christ" isn't really about just believing that Jesus was God manifest on Earth. It's a belief in his teachings. Period. No amount of professing faith matters if you don't adhere to his teachings in both your thoughts and your deeds. Again, I think you're putting more weigh on "the truth", when what matters is what you do about it. And the vast majority of Christian sects are quite clear on this. You can't trick your way into heaven. You're supposed to live your life in a way that Jesus would approve.
Doesn't mean everyone does, but that is what organized Christian "Religion" teaches.
At least we agree that "organized Christian Religion" teaches its own thing rather than simply adhere to the teachings of Christ alone. You, however, in everything that you have stated in the above quote are following a prime example of this. You don't seem to understand the purpose of Christ's teachings. Christ clearly taught that He was The Son of God. You are equating it to a simply self-help program to improve ones life. That is taking quotes from the Bible out of context. Ask yourself why the Bible speaks about dying to yourself, crucifying your old self, and becoming born again; as well as becoming a "new creation". It also says that "friendship of the world is enmity with God.. whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God"
and "the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be"
. It is clearly not simply about changing your deeds and actions to make you more acceptable to God. What you are talking about is salvation by works.. but the Bible teaches that even all of the righteousness that we can muster is worth "filthy menstrual rags
"(literally!) to God. It is not by works but by faith alone that we are saved and being "saved" doesn't mean having a happy and peaceful life. In fact, Christ was quote clear that believers would have hardships in their lives. Being saved means to have your guilt taken away in God's sight which is the only way that an imperfect being can dwell in God's presence without being destroyed.
I don't care if God exist or not. Thus, I judge ideas based on their validity if we assume either case is true. Put another way, if God is required to exist for something to make sense, it's a bad idea. If God is required to not exist for something to make sense, it's also a bad idea.
The point here is that I don't discount that you could be correct
But you just said that you don't care if God exists or not. How can you have it both ways? If God exists then if changes everything. If God doesn't exist then it changes nothing. You saying that you don't care if God exists or not seems to imply that you indeed have discounted what I say as being correct. You're refusal to make any decision on the matter is your decision. You have said "I don't care". Therefore it really discounts any value that you would put in the notion of God's existence being relevant to you because if there is a God and you are wrong then you are GRAVELY wrong about everything.. but if there is no God then there really is no change is there? You certainly seem to be convinced (rightly so) that you will never find any proof of God minus any leap of faith.. therefore you openly are declaring that you are content in your ignorance.. which is logical considering what "agnostic" actually means.
I just think that when presenting your ideas to a broad world, full of people who either don't believe in God, or don't care, limiting your argument to one which only works if one believes in God (and possibly even a specific version of God), isn't a great approach. Doubly so, when you could make just as good an argument without involving God at all.
This may be so but the main point of my argument is that without God we ARE no different than animals and there would be no point to any of it. We eat and drink and tomorrow we die. It's not really the point I'm trying to make; but i do take your point.
All you accomplish is to alienate a large portion of the people around you, and often end out with a weaker argument than if you'd simply not gone out of your way to impose your own [a]theistic viewpoint on others.
Again, point taken.. but I still cannot resist to point out that it is just as absurd to make the arbitrary decision to be an atheist rather than to accept that there are some missing pieces of information to rationally make the decision to be an atheist.. in the same vain I would chide a theist that believes in a God for no other reason than that it is simply the easier or more comfortable choice to make without any experience or information to make some an "informed" decision. How is it any more unacceptable for me to state that God is real than for an atheist here to state unequivocally that there is no God? (other than the fact that I seem to be vastly outnumbered!
). But I choose to come here because I know and respect the fact that people here WILL indeed speak their minds and their opinion and will not just try to sugar-coat things under the ruse of giving a **** when they really don't. Perhaps it's because I've been coming here for over 10 years that it's really the only type of debate that I truly respect when it comes to a true and frank discussion of issues that are important to me.
If the only "Truth" to learn is that "I AM", then it's not a terribly important truth to me. Now, a deity who could tell me where I left my car keys, that would be useful.
I guess I just place a completely different weight on different "truths" than you do. I don't find any great wonder in simply knowing that God exists. I get that for some people, this is super important and what not, but I'd hope that what you do with that is more important than just "knowing". Cause to me, that's kinda pointless.
Perhaps this is because you have been (mis)lead to believe that the purpose of knowing God is basically the equivalent to a "buddy in the sky" that can help you improve your view on life.. not unlike "The Secret". If that was all that it was about then I would agree with you.. different strokes and the like.. but this is beyond simply the wonder of knowing. Anyone can convince themselves of any number of false things or even true things to experience that wonder. Just watching some Carl Sagan should be enough for most people.. so could just go around and try to turn everyone on to The Cosmos series.. but this is much more than that. I would be content with just accepting that when I die that my molecules will just get fluxed back into the system of the universe and that's pretty cool. I'd be down with that if I thought that this was the case and you'll just have to take my word on that.. however the meaning of what I am specifically talking about is an entirely new paradigm far beyond mere wonder.
I guess my problem is the idea of using your free will solely to "believe" in God. I would hope that he'd have loftier goals for us humans than that. Developing a better pancake recipe perhaps. I just don't get the "faith for faith's sake" idea. Makes no sense to me.
The belief isn't simply for the sake of belief. God doesn't need an ego trip. There is a loftier goal that He has for us humans; but it isn't for this world. The goal is for us to dwell with Him in the perfected form of creation. The reason is love. Love must be of free will. It's not just for faith's sake. It's the entire plan. People often question the notion of God because of the imperfections of the universe, suffering, and death.. but these things exist because we are not dwelling in the perfected form of creation.. Our very free will makes us imperfect therefore we need something more in order to be capable of dwelling in said perfection but because we are flesh we cannot do it alone and can only do it through loving God.. but because of our fleshly/earthy/imperfect nature we cannot truly express love for God of our own power. In order to achieve this goal we must we willing to abandon our fleshly imperfect nature. The only way that God has provided to do this is to open ourselves up to believe in the work of Christ. Many people believe in God.. I believed in God before I was a Christian but this wasn't enough. We cannot approach God in our own power. It can only be done through what God has provided which is not an action but a reaction to God's work through Christ. That is the reason for all of this. This entire concept is naturally abhorrent to us due to our nature. We have a natural desire to be in control and to love ourselves.. but it is this very nature that makes the faith in God's work actually make a difference. Without the ability to fail in this goal the ability to achieve this goal would be meaningless and impossible because love cannot be forced.
I realize I have just digressed into the most obvious depths of Christian ramblings.. but I hope that what I am saying sheds some light on the wide variety of misconceptions about these matters.
I even wrote a parable about it at one point in my life when I was trying to explain my own position to other people. I'll write it down for you if you want. I call it "The parable of the mountain and the monastery". It's a real barn burner!
Should be interesting. PM if you want or put it here; if you want an honest reaction to it.