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A few questions from an open-minded agnostic.

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Jesus said to them that even if they were to spend a year's worth of wages on the poor, the poor would still be poor, and that's a simple fact. If you don't believe me, you should go out and try to help a poor person to no longer be poor!
So the inevitable question is why bother doing anything good for others, but I think I may already know the answer to that. Maybe I have a bit more understanding of the appeal. It's not about being perfect. It's about feeling good because you're trying your best and doing something despite it most being pointless or insignificant. This absolves a person of guilt from not being perfect and guilt from not trying at all and being callous. As long as you're making an effort to be perfect(knowing full well you can't be), you're in the green.

If as somebody else said in this thread, morality had nothing to do with feelings, you could make an unfeeling machine this is a christian because it does and says all the things a christian is supposed to do, a varying list of criteria needed to be "good enough". Since I think this is not the case, there's more to it. It's about trying to fill criteria while also feeling good about it and feeling bad for others appropriately. I apologize if that sounds cold and cynical. My interpretation reflects on my own state of mind. Of course the existence of a holy spirit would make me completely wrong.

He called them "wolves in sheep's clothing" - where outwardly they make themselves look like God-fearers, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
How do you spot them? Does that require spiritual awareness?

Now look at the next part: He said "if the light you think you have is in fact darkness, how deep that darkness must be!". Does that help you to understand some things a bit more?
Is it worse to incorrectly think you have light, or to stop caring all together?

But also there is a definite state of sanctification, whereby a person is living in God's grace and is able to think, say and do things that are completely without blame in God's sight - simply by their attitude being aligned toward repentance.
Is being in this state necessary to enter heaven? If so, between all the difficulties of making that kind of change, and false lights lurking everywhere, the path to salvation looks like the most complicated maze in existence. The chances a person will randomly find their way seems quite small. They'd need help, but they'd have no way of knowing whether that help can be trusted or not unless they somehow actually got "spiritual awareness" as opposed to fake spiritual awareness. The primary motivations for going through the maze is a vague reward nobody knows anything specific about and a terrible punishment for failing or not trying. Millions or billions have already failed and wont get a second chance.

I don't have any reason to be confident I would succeed. If I were to try living as a Christian, I would probably end up like that machine and fail anyway. Why would I do better than priests? It makes me think back to what I said earlier about how much life is worth living.

that doesn't stem from not believing in God
Sure. I didn't think that myself.
 
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humble soul

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Hello. I'm somebody who has never been religious, but is curious about the beliefs and mentality of believers. I appreciate Christianity for its cultural importance and the great works of art it inspired, but for various reasons never became a believer myself. There's a few questions which have kept at nagging me, so I want to actually hear what answers Christians have for them instead of making assumptions. I apologize if these questions are inappropriate or if I phrase them in an offensive way. I plan on reading the bible cover to cover after this.

What is the correct canonicity and how do you know? : The book of Enoch is one example of a book with debatable canonicity. In it, an angel named Sariel teaches men about the moon cycles and sleeps with women against god's wishes(I'm just going off of what little I know from reading articles). Jewish rabbis at some point deemed this book non-canonical because according to Jewish belief, angels cannot willfully disobey god. They aren't capable of it. They can only make mistakes and be punished for it. Now, obviously Christians do not agree with this belief(Satan). So, why not go back and reconsider the Book of Enoch? Why should I believe Jewish rabbis who dismissed the book on false grounds(according to Christianity)? On top of that, what about texts that were burned or lost? I've seen one answer that said "God would have orchestrated events so that his word would stay perfect", but why then do different denominations have slightly different canonicity? How am I supposed to know which one is true? There isn't an angel coming down and setting things straight for some reason. Why has Christianity been confounded? Why believe in the perfect word of god if it's clearly been mangled by humans?

One response might be that slight differences in canonicity don't matter. As long as Jesus is in your heart, you will go to heaven. What about the way i'm supposed to live in life though? The bible should give me all the answers, but how can I be sure that some mistranslation, or specific choice didn't warp the meaning of the text? If a translator decides to write the same word congregation in positive contexts, and synagogue in negative ones, wouldn't that change the message a bit? Why am I denied a perfect truth?

How do you know the current consensus on "Christian morality" is correct? : One of the main pillars of Christianity is the idea of objective morality as far as I understand. Even if a person has never heard of Jesus before, they innately have a sense for God's morality, so their sins are not excused. However, the "common morality" of Christians has not remained constant. What was considered a few hundreds of years ago to be morally acceptable by typical Christians: colonialism, marrying people far younger that what is now considered acceptable, etc, is not anymore. How do you know our "modern morality" is the correct one? How do you know secular society and its "common morality" hasn't influenced and poisoned "Christian morality"? What if people from the past were right and we're wrong, even if it's only in a few ways?

Why did God create man to be so weak and dependent? : God created man to bring glory to him, but god does not need glory because he is complete. Man needs to give god glory to elevate himself. Why though? Why did god create human beings so that they need to give him glory? Even if Adam and Eve didn't need to do so, why did God create Adam and Eve to be weak enough to succumb to temptation? In fact, why did God give humans free will at all? I looked for answers to this before, and what I found amounted to " well of course he did because you cannot love if you do not have free will". Except God isn't limited by human logic. He created logic. If he wanted to, he could make it so beings without free will can love. He can do anything what so ever with no limitations if he is all-powerful.

Those are the big three. I'm not looking for a debate and I'll accept any answers given to me.
let me guess. you were a hardcore Christian once yourself. Borderline fundamentalist. now youve lost your faith and you wish to heap scorn on those who still have theirs?
 

Serving Zion

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So the inevitable question is why bother doing anything good for others, but I think I may already know the answer to that.
There are different reasons why a person might do good for others. One of them is, as you have said, because it satisfies a hunger for self-esteem. Another reason, the one that motivates me when I do good, is because the good needs to be done and I can do it. I think it comes down to the basic core of my philosophy of life, which I have always had since I can remember thinking about it. I do not remember choosing to be me. I didn't choose not to be someone else instead, and I do not assume that others also did not choose to be who they are. On top of that, I can see that everyone who is born actually has no choice over the matter .. so I really cannot assume that I have any natural right that they don't have. I am morally obligated to respect their life as though it could have been me in their place instead of them .. and even some sort of reincarnation concept from I don't know where makes me respect them as though an afterlife may subject me to experience their point of view in the first hand. That's the foundation of my philosophy, and I regard animals with the same respect. Therefore, when I do unto others, I am literally doing to them as I would have them do unto me.

Maybe I have a bit more understanding of the appeal. It's not about being perfect. It's about feeling good because you're trying your best and doing something despite it most being pointless or insignificant. This absolves a person of guilt from not being perfect and guilt from not trying at all and being callous. As long as you're making an effort to be perfect(knowing full well you can't be), you're in the green.
Are you still talking about the perfume and poor people? It seems that you've moved to a different topic and I haven't followed you there, so the context of this comment is a bit confusing to me now. I don't know what to say in response.

If as somebody else said in this thread, morality had nothing to do with feelings, you could make an unfeeling machine this is a christian because it does and says all the things a christian is supposed to do, a varying list of criteria needed to be "good enough".
Christianity is more than morality though. You could theoreticaly make a morality machine quite easily (it wouldn't be very complex at all - you have two sides, each side has a set of rights, and you compare whether one side's actions have breached the other's rights). Christianity goes beyond that, because it studies how people get bound up by deceit and sold into sin, thus being unable to see the truth and to behave as the human was designed to behave (ie: in love, the image of God). It also studies the mechanism of becoming free of the entrapment of sin, and how to bring knowledge of that freedom to others, while learning how God is operating with us in order to save us - and in that way, how we can cooperate with Him to save the world.

Since I think this is not the case, there's more to it. It's about trying to fill criteria while also feeling good about it and feeling bad for others appropriately. I apologize if that sounds cold and cynical. My interpretation reflects on my own state of mind. Of course the existence of a holy spirit would make me completely wrong.
Well, the Holy Spirit sure is present, and as I was saying earlier, He is somewhat obscured by character of the humans through which He speaks, as also the ones He speaks to are prevented from recognising Him because their mind is so accustomed to not recognising Him (they don't teach us how to recognise God in school, nor in church).

How do you spot them? Does that require spiritual awareness?
Yes it is true that with experience we can recognise the spirit in a person.

Is it worse to incorrectly think you have light, or to stop caring all together?
That's the sort of question I find difficult to answer, because it is so hypothetical. Basically, nothing does any harm until it manifests, so what harm can come from the manifestation of someone who doesn't care? Probably quite a lot. What harm can come from someone who thinks they are right but who is actually wrong? Well, quite a lot for sure, because they are encouraged by their own certainty that doing the wrong thing is the right thing to do, and so is in fact a great duty and honour for them.

Is being in this state necessary to enter heaven?
I think it is, basically, yes. The strength of a clear conscience is what gives us a defense in justice. As soon as we become aware of our guilt, a judge is right to condemn us. But keep in mind that the heart is deceitful, and what I have been saying all along is that a person who is tempted to disobey his conscience must then search for a way to believe that the conscience was wrong, in order to go forward thinking that they are without guilt. The problem then, is that they can never be honest in God's sight, because it strips away the deception that is concealing their sinfulness. So they have a comfort in this world that they can keep running away from people who do not support their sinfulness - until one day their body can no longer run. Nobody can run from God forever, because one day He will call them to account. Revelation 20:12 is a graphic description of prophecy of a day of a final judgment of the whole world.

If so, between all the difficulties of making that kind of change, and false lights lurking everywhere, the path to salvation looks like the most complicated maze in existence. The chances a person will randomly find their way seems quite small. They'd need help, but they'd have no way of knowing whether that help can be trusted or not unless they somehow actually got "spiritual awareness" as opposed to fake spiritual awareness.
Yes, that is true. St. Paul wrote about it with a hint of sadness. Philippians 2:12 is quite a famous passage, but I think most Christians don't really take it to heart as it should be, and a few verses later in Philippians 2:20-22 it's quite clear to see the despair in his words, as he says "I have no-one else like Timothy who will sincerely care about you - for all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ". I often wish I could actually meet someone like Timothy.

The primary motivations for going through the maze is a vague reward nobody knows anything specific about and a terrible punishment for failing or not trying. Millions or billions have already failed and wont get a second chance.
Yes, that is true too. But remember that God is a righteous judge. It is not right to condemn a person who has always done good according to their knowledge .. and as I have said, there's going to be a lot of people surprised to find that they are blessed to inherit eternal life - not because they had Christian beliefs, but because they had Christian spirit. They didn't even know it! (Matthew 25:34-40).

I don't have any reason to be confident I would succeed. If I were to try living as a Christian, I would probably end up like that machine and fail anyway. Why would I do better than priests?
Well, you haven't bought into their institution yet, to get their brand of approval. That's a good place to be, for starters! .. and you haven't got too much of an attachment to preconceived ideas about what Christianity should be, so you are able to easily drop those ideas that don't add up when you question them. Finally, you really don't have any personal investment into it. So fear has no opportunity to persuade you to become intellectually dishonest. But it's a funny thing to consider anyway, because it is not as though you can just choose to make Christianity your religion (John 10:1). It's a thing, rather, that you dig into and you keep understanding more about it until one day you realise that all you have to do is reach out to God and He's going to be there to answer you (Acts 17:27, Revelation 3:20).
 
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PeterJens

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Reply to Peter Jensen. Post 152.
Not clear if I am replying to this post !!¡

Survival of the fittest and survival through co operation are not complementary, in a perfect world we would work together for the common good.
Neither we or the world is perfect and there are plenty who will cheat, steal or use what ever there is for there own or there groups advantage.

Yet most people see that behaviour as wrong, as you say we all have a moral sense and this comes from God.
However atheist and those in the media etc will not acknowledge that, to them morality is determined by society, and to an extent it is.

I have been asking for the philosophical reasons why different groups are moral.
Again why is an atheist moral?
What reasons are there in an atheist s world view for him to be moral.
On what basis does an atheist accuses God of being immoral in the OT?
I think you need to be practical. Though people claim they behave for intellectual reasons it is all emotional. We back fill to explain our behaviour.

So most atheist are atheist through a crisis and rejection of family or groups they either were part of, or felt disappointed by.

So someone gets up in the morning and goes to work. If you are a pure nihilist this is meaningless, and you may as well do anything else. But emotionally as social creatures, we are bound to respect, obligation, dependency and love. And each morning our system, mind and emotions gives a positive spin on things so we look forward to the tasks of the day. This is how we all function, from being kids upwards.

I was thinking yesterday why do people desire so strongly an identity other than their own. And it struck me our need to be accepted, loved and identified is so deep within us, if we feel totally rejected we will create an other, which we idealise as the fulfilment of our acceptance by the group. Loneliness and social dislocation gives us a real empty feeling, while being appreciated and thought of well, makes us feel high.
So though people talk theory and belief they live their lives totally integrated in families, marriages, teams which all provide emotional support and identity.

The problem comes when a philosophy starts to destroy the emotional meaning of these interactions, because then people start to fall apart. The basics of what hold them together fall away, and they become a heap of sand. It is this above all else I think Jesus was getting at in the sermon on the mount. We are rooted in the people we know, to a degree it is hard to measure.

This is why I see atheism is about emotional rejection of the group, while not actually working it through, because that would destroy the person themselves. So morals are about this integration emotionally, and belief is our intellectual explanation of how it works. God bless you
 

WIP

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Just jumping in here to offer a friendly reminder that this forum is for answering the questions from the original poster. We need to keep the focus on doing that. Thanks.

WIP
 

LovethroughDove

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How do you spot them? Does that require spiritual awareness?
These questions were in regards to wolves in sheep's clothing.

It "kinda" does require spiritual awareness. Before I was born again, I had just bad feelings about certain people who would speak for God.......so God can get you ready to receive the truth before you actually have total spiritual understanding.

Wolves will draw attention to themselves and not keep pointing to Jesus. Read the words of Jesus, look at Jesus, have Jesus give understanding. The moment I dropped my understanding of God.......from other men.........and went to the source directly........he opened my spiritual eyes.
 

Who Me

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So you have no personal definition of "fit", but you don't think empathy can be a part of it. Do you think God made some more "fit" to survive? If so, what is the reason for this? Or do you think the entire concept that a member of species could be more "fit" than another is entirely fictious?
I don't need to have a definition of 'fit', it is not needed to live live and only would apply in a discussion of evolution.
As evolution, the change of a creature from one type to another, is not scientific fact, only a faith based belief.
As I've said I don't need to define what 'fit' for life is
 

Torigirl

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No. My family isn't religious either. 🙂
Hello,
My family wasn’t religious either! I grew up in a home where no one prayed or spoke of God. My belief in God came as a child on my own. Weird, right?
I have tried to read all of these questions and answer, but couldn’t read everyone. Please forgive if I double up on anything.
I don’t agree with some of the answers, but that kind of goes with being able to think on our own. I’ve been a Christian for over 50 years, and today I am still struggling with some of what I read in the Bible. I have come to the understanding that I may never fully understand God until I stand before Him.
I appreciate you coming and asking these questions, please forgive my next statement, but, you seem to have an answer for the answers given. You started this by saying you intend to read the Bible, have you? I have been reading the Bible for a very long time, and it’s relentless in its teaching.
I can say that I believe and have believed for a very long time, but I still search to know God. You see that’s what being a Christian is to me, seeking God. Your questions are questions many have asked, but, it’s your willingness for the truth that matters to God. Ask Him, if you are truly looking for answers. In your private time, when no one is around, ask Him to reveal Himself to you.
If your reason for being here is just debating the Christian faith and it’s seemingly errors, then you’ve had some great answers.
I hope your reason is to reach out for truth.
Good day, and good reasoning 😊
 

Rollo Tamasi

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Hello. I'm somebody who has never been religious, but is curious about the beliefs and mentality of believers. I appreciate Christianity for its cultural importance and the great works of art it inspired, but for various reasons never became a believer myself. There's a few questions which have kept at nagging me, so I want to actually hear what answers Christians have for them instead of making assumptions. I apologize if these questions are inappropriate or if I phrase them in an offensive way. I plan on reading the bible cover to cover after this.

What is the correct canonicity and how do you know? : The book of Enoch is one example of a book with debatable canonicity. In it, an angel named Sariel teaches men about the moon cycles and sleeps with women against god's wishes(I'm just going off of what little I know from reading articles). Jewish rabbis at some point deemed this book non-canonical because according to Jewish belief, angels cannot willfully disobey god. They aren't capable of it. They can only make mistakes and be punished for it. Now, obviously Christians do not agree with this belief(Satan). So, why not go back and reconsider the Book of Enoch? Why should I believe Jewish rabbis who dismissed the book on false grounds(according to Christianity)? On top of that, what about texts that were burned or lost? I've seen one answer that said "God would have orchestrated events so that his word would stay perfect", but why then do different denominations have slightly different canonicity? How am I supposed to know which one is true? There isn't an angel coming down and setting things straight for some reason. Why has Christianity been confounded? Why believe in the perfect word of god if it's clearly been mangled by humans?

One response might be that slight differences in canonicity don't matter. As long as Jesus is in your heart, you will go to heaven. What about the way i'm supposed to live in life though? The bible should give me all the answers, but how can I be sure that some mistranslation, or specific choice didn't warp the meaning of the text? If a translator decides to write the same word congregation in positive contexts, and synagogue in negative ones, wouldn't that change the message a bit? Why am I denied a perfect truth?

How do you know the current consensus on "Christian morality" is correct? : One of the main pillars of Christianity is the idea of objective morality as far as I understand. Even if a person has never heard of Jesus before, they innately have a sense for God's morality, so their sins are not excused. However, the "common morality" of Christians has not remained constant. What was considered a few hundreds of years ago to be morally acceptable by typical Christians: colonialism, marrying people far younger that what is now considered acceptable, etc, is not anymore. How do you know our "modern morality" is the correct one? How do you know secular society and its "common morality" hasn't influenced and poisoned "Christian morality"? What if people from the past were right and we're wrong, even if it's only in a few ways?

Why did God create man to be so weak and dependent? : God created man to bring glory to him, but god does not need glory because he is complete. Man needs to give god glory to elevate himself. Why though? Why did god create human beings so that they need to give him glory? Even if Adam and Eve didn't need to do so, why did God create Adam and Eve to be weak enough to succumb to temptation? In fact, why did God give humans free will at all? I looked for answers to this before, and what I found amounted to " well of course he did because you cannot love if you do not have free will". Except God isn't limited by human logic. He created logic. If he wanted to, he could make it so beings without free will can love. He can do anything what so ever with no limitations if he is all-powerful.

Those are the big three. I'm not looking for a debate and I'll accept any answers given to me.
Acts 15:29; "You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things."
 

Rollo Tamasi

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Thank you and everybody else for your answers. I'd like to discuss these two points. While it's true that among human societies, there are some consistencies in law and taboos( among many other things), how things are defined differs by place and time period. How do you define rape? How do you define pedophilia? Murder? Theft? Slavery? Genuinely faithful christians dueled and killed each other in the past and owned slaves or indentured servants and took spoils of war. The way these things are defined has not remained constant, yet God's morality is unchanging. What if people five centuries ago had the definitions right, and we have it wrong? If how any sin is defined depends on human consensus, the meaning of idolatry or anything else can be twisted to suit human tastes and feelings.

A better version of humans seems to me like angels. Don't angels love god? Don't angels share with God and understand his love? Aren't angels part of God's family? So why make something as inferior as humans? Angels presumably know the difference between good and evil, yet they are well-equiped to handle this knowledge while humans are not.
These things are answered in the Talmud.
 

wondering

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I don't know why you keep saying this when it's evidently untrue. I wrote about how empathy is beneficial evolutionary for social creatures.

As for Buddhism
Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
— Udanavarga 5:18

and Confucianism
Zi gong (a disciple of Confucius) asked: "Is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?"
The Master replied: "How about 'shu' [reciprocity]: never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself?"

--Confucius, Analects XV.24

I just got this from the wikipedia page

You could say it comes from the subconcious morality which God put into everybody. I think that's what you're insinuating. With other religions, I don't know why you think they only care about being rewarded. How did you learn that?
What you call "subconscious Morality" is known at the Natural Law.
Every person born has this if they are civil.
God instilled it into us.
 

Tertul

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Dear John D.S.: (lol)

I assume you don't believe Enoch is a book inspired by God to be used as scripture, so why do you ask anyone to defend its exclusion from the canon? I have no interest in disputing the Protestant canon.

We can look over the centuries and see how remarkably well the New Testament scriptures have been preserved. We can look at later vs. earlier manuscripts and see there is very little to justify worry about the quality of preservation.

If you weigh the practically benefits to society of one behavior vs. another, Christianity wins. Sexual immorality spreads disease, damages mental health (e.g. depression from breakups), and produces children than are a burden to society (welfare, crime, and poor performers in our institutions). Modern morality can only be defended by name-calling (homophobe, judgmental, racist).

God made the world as he did, even if it might not be to you idea of how God should have done. It seems to me that God is more elegant than you can imagine, not needing to brute-force humanity to get what he wants.
 
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