Obey No1kinobe

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Do religions evolve?

Have religious belief systems evolved over time?

While many religious believers do not accept the theory of evolution in regards to the development of life, from a historical perspective it seems religious and spiritual belief systems themselves have evolved and developed over time.
From the earliest Venus figurines, cave paintings, early burial sites, naturel and ancestor spirits, polytheistic beliefs to the monotheistic, to deist and others.

Do the strongest survive? Do they adapt? Do they interbreed and influence each other? Do they go extinct? Is there some natural selection process that passes on religious ideas memes, and sees others become extinct?

What properties help a religion survive and thrive? Invisible gods perhaps. Evangelical rather than hereditary. Religions linked to economically and militarily strong cultures perhaps. Do religions have a symbiotic relationship with their host cultures - making them stronger and more united supporting development and progress and hence protecting the religion itself.

What are the greatest challenges to the survival of different religions today, and what will help them survive and thrive?

  • Mar 24 2012: Evolution is the only purpose of religions, and must be. The philosophy which works as light house in the storm of thoughts and conflicting interests. Connecting human to human and so as human to nature.

    If this is not in any religion, it's fanaticism and power game in the cloak of religion.

    The challenges to the religious belief to impart evolution, are many and are not kids by the age.

    The rituals in itself are becoming challenge to the existence of religion and confusion in societies. People have followed the rituals as it is, but not the philosophies behind them. In any new acquaintance and challenge trust and belief are not getting their place.

    People are more attached by the prophets, gurus, mentors and guides, not by their teachings. Building are more powerful than the aura within them.

    The number count can never let any one sleep for the unending influence of above.

    The solution lays within and can be seen clearly in the light of self talk and self image. Deletion of outside relativity, degeneration of complexes of any kind, development as a human - a part of nature...

    Smile to all and belong to all...

    Live in the light, not with the light...

    We all bound to evolve, be it today or it tomorrow...

    With regards

    The Mindfood Chef
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      Mar 26 2012: Thanks Manish.

      I agree that sometimes we lose the most positive messages in religious politics, power struggles, and rituals.
      Its the message versus the creed.

      That is assuming a religion has mostly positive messages.
      Some support slavery in their foundation scriptures.
      Some support killing, inequality, tribalism. Us and them.

      I suggest if we started from a humanistic perspective we could drop the old baggage and more effectively focus on what benefits the human condition, other species, the environment etc.
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      Mar 24 2012: Thanks Bridget.
      Could you expand your point on Intelligent design and Natural selection?
      I understand how some believe that god used evolution to result in humans.
      But ID and NS? While they might result in life that looks like what we see today, they have completely different ideas about how it actually happen. One thinks a designed designed the universe and life for each other. The other explains the life around us that seems so well adapted to survive in their surrounds by a mindless natural process of selection.
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        • Mar 25 2012: Bridget, thanks for bringing clarity here !
          It's always the case, what seems to be separate in ignorance is reconciled in knowing.:)
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          Mar 26 2012: Thanks for expanding Bridget.

          Perhaps it comes down to how you define intelligence. You seem to be implying there is some sort of cosmic consciousness behind natural selection, with intelligence or just pointing out the process has been very effective. The outcomes are amazing if we just look around. The incredible ways life survives and adapts.

          Natural selection has certainly been effective. There is information involved via DNA.

          However, there does not seem to be any need for intelligence behind it all. There is no reason or thought. No ability to perceive, to comprehend meaning, to understand.

          You say " Science has tested, measured and verified all manner of nature and proven it's the energy of intelligence". I would respectfully disagree. There is no verifiable evidence of an intelligence. You can speculate there is, but there is nothing that could not just be a natural process.

          You might say the moon is very powerful and precise in the manner it has been able to circle the Earth as long as we have existed. That is an anthropomorphic projection. Which seems to be what you are doing. Something humans have done since we evolved.

          I suggest when a lion catches one zebra out of a herd it is mostly a random event. Bad luck. Or perhaps not if it was sick, weak, or old. But over many generations we see the results of the battle for survival across populations. When an asteroid hits at a time that changes the climate in a way that leads to the extinction of dinosaurs making room for mammals that is pretty random.

          I find considering nature almost a transcendent experience at times. I part of it. Sharing the most amazing consciousness we have found so far – the human mind.

          Even if you assume there is some mind behind natural selection it is very different to ID. One took billions of years to get to the life we see today. The others says we were made mostly as is with variation, but no new species.
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          Mar 26 2012: Hi Bridget, I think we are talking about several different types of intelligence.
          The intelligence of humans, mammals etc
          Plant intelligence
          Microbial intelligence
          And perhaps some overall or combined intelligence driving natural selection

          Plant and microbial intelligence certainly raise some interesting questions about what a mind is. Microbial intelligence makes me think sometimes you don't need to rigid connected body for multiple cells to form one entity.

          My first reaction is it is still a big leap from this concept to intelligence driving natural selection. But maybe there are some connections. My second thought is that this is worth some pondering. Thanks for this challenging and interesting viewpoint.

          Maybe its just semantics but my understanding of Natural selection does not include a guiding intelligence - it is an undirected process. ID proposes an intelligent cause. You may be saying NS is just mistaken but it is currently not the same as ID by definition.
  • Mar 20 2012: Hi, Obey No 1kinobe from Sydney Australia.
    I sincerely agree with you. Religions do evolve becasue it is a part of sentient being.
    Religion is just a refelction of snetient beings in this case Human being. If we evolve , our shadow evolve simultanously.

    As ideas survive and die, religion dies and survive.
    And, one way to ensure the survival of certain religion is an empathy.
    Most of religions that have empathy have been survived.

    But, please listen carefully.
    Religion is a shadow , it is mere delusion.

    True religion is no religion.
    • Mar 20 2012: "True religion, is no religion"

      This is a very interesting thought.

      In speaking with people of different religions I have discovered that those who have been enlightened, do not see their particular way of life as something that separates them from others, but instead allows them to embrace people from all religions and all walks of life.

      Empathy, love, and compassion for other human beings helps us to look beyond the "religious box".

      Many times the people within the religions evolve.....but the actual religion, and religious leaders stay behind.

      I am reminded of something that happened in the first century and is recorded in the book of Acts in the New Testament.

      When the disciples were taken before the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up and said:
      "...if this scheme (the preaching work of the disciples) or this work is from men, it will be overthrown. But, if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them; otherwise you may perhaps be found fighters actually against God".

      Although religions have come and gone, still they persist. Why? This is also another interesting thought provoking question.

      Great topic Obey!
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        Mar 20 2012: Thanks Hyunguk and Colleen ( I mean Mary)
        I like the idea of religion being our shadow. True religion is no religion is very Zen. Makes me think of many things.

        You both mention empathy. It is interesting how the new Testament has more of this than the old. It is certainly an evolution. I actually find the dissonance between the 2 unsettling. Like they are not even talking about the same god. Total make over.

        I guess empathy and connection is a powerful thing, and may reflect a slow global change or awareness starting with Buddhism, that the older religions e.g. Avedic teachings or Judaism did not have.

        I note the earlier religions also had animal sacrifice or offerings - Greek/Roman, Judaism, Avedic (proto hinuism). Seems this has died out in some areas/strands.
        • Mar 21 2012: Ummm....Colleen??
        • Mar 21 2012: The expression "shadow" is also in scripture when referring to the old testament.

          For example, did you know that the Law was a "framework of the knowledge and of the truth about God"? But, it was not the entire truth, just the "basic" truths?

          Various parts of the Law of Moses were shadows that represented greater things that would happen when Jesus came.

          God's purposes are unfolding. There really is no dissonance when you study and see the connections.....this requires time and effort.

          There is a series on PBS called "Closer to Truth"....you can access the episodes on line. The sections where the host speaks with Rabbis is very enlightning. The whole series is worth watching in my opinion.

          So I guess I see the truth about God evolving/unfolding.....

          Be Well
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    Mar 26 2012: My own religious beliefs have evolved, how much more so over 6 millennium. I was raised a Roman Catholic. My parents believed in purgatory. My father had an active imagination. As a result, I saw him go from a master carpenter to a delirious alcoholic due to his obsession with purgatory. He recovered after a priest claimed purgatory is false.

    At the age of nine, I had a religious experience while meditating on God. I was looking for God apart from reality because that is what I was taught. The experience led me into reality to reveal a cosmic singularity that underlies all of reality. Eleven years later I studied the unified theory of physics and found myself looking at the same thing. It would lead to an examination of what religion teaches and why they teach it.

    To begin with, religion united people. It brought them under one set of rules that the community would follow. The religion that would survive, has deep historical roots. Whether what people teach today reflects what people once believed is highly questionable. The teaching of hell originates in ancient Egypt. It isn't found in the book of Genesis. I can tell you how it got to modern day beliefs, and it is all built on misconceptions.

    The Old Testament was written in the age of mythology. The first two books of the bible are mostly historical myth, relating a historical heritage in short stories that tell how history has played out. The stories are a lot bigger than what they appear to be.

    Men decided what books should go into the bible. None contain any ancient works on sacred geometry. None contain any explanations of Eastern philosophy. I can show you countless connections between Eastern philosophy and biblical scripture, but none of it is explained in the bible.

    Religion is humankind's understanding of the universe and our place in it. As ideas changed, so did the religion. Presently, science is filling in the gaps that religion missed. Soon they will come together as one.
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      Mar 26 2012: Thanks Roy. If we go down to the level of the individual, then religious viewpoints may evolve during the life of the individual. Mine have too. Perhaps not as dramatically as yours.
      If there is no hell or purgatory etc then the religious dogma associated with it are a great evil. A destructive negative force in human history.
      Oblivion is challenging to face. Eternal damnation is simply evil.
      Sometimes Jesus seems not that different to Buddha in terms of parables and teachings.
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        Mar 26 2012: There are a lot of parallels between Jesus and Buddha. Both were enlightened. Jesus never condemned a single soul. He warned of the fires of hell because he knew what they were; people killing people in their struggle to survive. Until they learned to rise above this condition, it wasn't going away. He taught that love is the greatest commandment, but many will turn from it when they have to give up something. Thank God for those who are willing to fight for what is right. Jesus gave his all, and his message has been heard the world over because of it. I hope people come to understand who he really was.
  • Mar 25 2012: idk if religion evolves but spirituality does :D Religions are good. created for human to be human, but they are not always interpreted the way it was meant to be and created hatred between people.
    if we could perceive beyond religions(boundaries) we could evolve as a better human being/children of GOD who loves everyone as oneself :D
    "Exploration Within is the way to THRIVE, to understand the truth" :D
    All is ONE,ONE is All :D
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      Mar 26 2012: Hi Pradee. I think we agree in many ways, but not completely.

      I agree some religions have some positive teachings. Most contain some negative teachings.
      They provide consolation. But may focus too much on an imaginary afterlife.
      They reinforce group cohesion - which can be good and bad. Human tribalism is a constant factor in conflict.

      So I don't agree that religions are on the whole good. They are a mixed bag.
      Some are worse than others. Most contain good and bad individually.
      Some religions require animal or human sacrifices (Aztecs).
      Some religions promote violence, murder, intolerance, and inequality.
      - Kill homosexuals. Kill adulterers. Treating women as cattle or inferior. Chosen people. Us and them.

      I agree sometimes this is due to religious scriptures being twisted. But sometimes it is just a straight forward phrase. There are plenty nasty things in the Bible and Koran for example. The bible has dozens of reasons people should be killed. The danger is humans believe they have the ultimate truth whether correctly or incorrectly interpreting the sources.

      How can I argue that women should have equal rights when someone believes their religion says otherwise?

      I suggest if we dumped religion then we would be on a better foundation towards peace and understanding - we are all human. Religion divides us into Christians, Muslims, Hindus etc.

      Agree life would be better if more people treated each other how they would like to be treated.
  • Mar 23 2012: Yes i think that they do. take christianity it has started as one and then reformed and changed into many denominations. this is evident in many other religions as well.
  • Mar 23 2012: Religions repress. Religions deprive individuals of their natural right to believe what they believe. The primary methodology used in religions is manipulation of people by provoking fear. It would be nice to see a generation of humanity allowed to grow up without the negative brainwashing used to control other people that religions use. Let's stop it now. Free children and adults to believe what they believe instead of imposing the beliefs of a bunch of dead power and control freaks upon them. Ah, what a wonderful world we shall have!
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      Mar 23 2012: Thanks Rhona (opps). Not sure how you would stop it. You can't force people.
      We shouldn't force people.
      Be nice if we all had a choice and kids were not indoctrinated.
      Perhaps the best we can hope for is a secular government with freedom of religion.
      Expect there is a good chance in the next 100,000 years all the current major religions will die out.
      Agree we might be better off if no religion. Some would disagree. It might free us up in some ways but it won't change human nature.
      • Mar 24 2012: My name is Rhona, Obeee Number 2 Kynohbeee. I'm not willing to wait 100,000 years. We can accomplish all of our positive goals within one year. Where there is a will there is a way. Let's do it. I am glad it will not change human nature. The nature of humans is positive. Happy Today.
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    Mar 22 2012: The book did say it would be spread across the planet, without getting scriptual but it didn't say how,the trouble began when constantine converted and instead of following the words of christ over the last 1800 years it devolved to suit the power of tradition and the politics of man.

    I don't know about you but the picture of christ used today is a clear sign of manipulation,The peoples of his day ranged in many colours even amongst the old hebrews and the use of the cross as a focal point when the book states in it's stories the constant fall back to idol worship,Hezekiah? broke moses staff because the hebrews were worshiping it.The whole idea for no visual focal point for prayer and meditation, which to me is as one is deep within the mind is the door to commune with god not to pour your energy into an inanimate object.

    One only has to look at how the old testament figures used to pray,they would go up into a high place like a mountain and take ashes with them alone and sit or kneel and start praying a non-stop verbal prayer for days on end then god told them to stop as the temple was built and that was the place he will reside in to be amongst them,then christ was sent and he revealed a new way to commune with the lord.That 's evolution not todays corporate affair.

    I'm sure someone here will politely correct me if i've over-simplified things as i didn't want to use scripture.So for me it's not evolution when it comes to christianity but a slow devolution to an archaic idolism controlled by men elected to the board.As someone pointed it out to me in another conversation i could have it all backwards.
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      Mar 22 2012: Devolution.

      Maybe something like the 2nd law of thermodynamics applies to religions - they slide to disorder.

      Maybe its like when you photocopy you lose some clarity. Then you photocopy the photocopy etc until you are left with a fuzzy mess, nothing like the original.

      Thanks Ken
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        Mar 22 2012: Devolution...yeah sorry but i felt it was the best way to describe it.I think in this case the second law applies,i should of thought of that one.

        65%? of our receptor input is visual so it's hard for people to not have a focal point for them to lock and concentrate on.
  • Mar 21 2012: It appears to me that the "survival of the fittest" principle applies to religions as it does to so many other things. Some religions "succeed" in some sense (e.g.. survive for millennia, acquire millions of adherents) while others fail (i.e. are no longer practiced). But why? Why is Hinduism still practiced but the old Norse religion is not? Why has Judaism survived but the ancient Greek religion has not? Is it simply that some societies thrive, and so whatever religion predominates in that society also thrives, while other societies die and so their predominant religions die with them?

    Or are there characteristics of successful religions that tend to improve their chances of survival? For instance, all of the most popular religions today seem to stress faith rather than logic and evidence. Is that because faith is an inherent characteristic of all religions, or is it because any religion that emphasizes logic and evidence is doomed to failure because no evidence to support the tenets of the religion is forthcoming?

    Another characteristic of most popular religions is an emphasis on delayed gratification, be it an eternal afterlife or reincarnation in a better form. Does the expectation of a later reward contribute to a more stable society, and therefore help to perpetuate the predominant religion in that society?

    As other people have pointed out, individual religions evolve over time. Is this an essential characteristic of a successful religion? For instance, the Catholic religion is well known for incorporating indigenous beliefs as a means for converting indigenous populations to Catholicism.

    No doubt some theists will say that their religion thrives because it is Truth. (They seem to think that capitalizing "truth" is an acceptable substitute for evidence.) But whether a particular religion is the one True religion or not, it doesn't explain why several different quite successful religions currently exist.
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      Mar 21 2012: The questions you pose are easily answered.
      Hinduism is made up out of two or more ancient believe systems that aren't fixed into doctrines. That leaves space for local adaptations of all sorts.
      Greek believe was a composition of older believes from all peoples that were contacted during the conquest of Alexander. Roman believe was influenced by the Greeks until they turned to Christianity. Norse religion was forbidden by Roman culture that spread North while power and believe went hand in hand.
      If the myths aren't written down they are forgotten. If they are written down like the Bible anyone can claim to be the representing icon of the story and so legitimate their power or authority under the almighty.
      Because from what is written everybody reads its own story all kinds of Christians start their own believes that suits them best. From start to finish it's all confusion and at times deliberate manipulation up to the present day.
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        Mar 22 2012: That is certainly a big one.

        Written scriptures.

        While some of the belief systems we have today may carry remnants of beliefs from prehistoric times, written records help maintain orthodoxy within the boundaries of how many ways people can interpret even a word, or a sentence let alone a body of scriptural.

        I note illiterate cultures sometimes have/had oral traditions memorised and pasted down by priests. Amazing.
    • Mar 21 2012: Carlin, your questions are very thought provoking.

      The only thing that I personally can contribute in line with scripture would be this:

      It was foretold that weeds and wheat.....falsities about God and truth, would grow side by side until a set time.

      Just like weeds grow among the wheat, and you have to let them both grow until you can clearly distinguish which is which to pluck out the bad one, there seems to be a kind of growth of false teachings about God, and some truth as well, simultaneously. I am referring to the God of the Bible. I cannot speak of other Gods.

      In our time, with a little bit of research, one can come to understand who is speaking truth about the God of the Bible, and who is speaking lies.

      One sure way to tell, is by seeing the fruits of their worship.....in other words, what kind of life do the people professing to be theists live? Are they kind, are they racist, prejudice, materialistic, loving, giving, hospitable, envious, jealous, peaceful, joyful, and so on.

      God's son said that by their fruits you would recognize his true followers.

      It's worth the search, don't you think?
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        Mar 22 2012: Hi Mary, I suggest it is not that easy to understand what the truth is in regards to the bible.
        At least not for me. Also there are many devout and authentic people coming up with different interpretations about the god of the bible.

        For starters, the Jews don't recognise Jesus as gods son or god. Then any number of fundamental differences or minor differences. There are the rote dogmas for each major strand, that often differ. Different strands have different authorities interpreting things differently.

        If you read the bible without a Christian cultural heritage it might look like you have 2 completely different gods and its a bit confusing how you should follow this god. Even you you assume the bible came from god.

        If you read the old testament and aren't a Jew, well you are not chosen. The end.

        Even Jesus didn't make it absolutely clear how he envisioned his followers to organise things etc. He just did a lot of talking. He pointed out some opinions about things but was light on specifics.

        It is like he actually didn't set out to change the world in a directed way. After he dies the disciples seemed to make it up as they went.

        I guess we all look at the bible with certain paradigms about it, life and the the universe in general.

        EDIT 22 March - Fair enough Mary. No offence I hope.
        • Mar 22 2012: You may suggest that it is not easy to understand the truth in the Bible.

          However, I respectfully have to disagree.

          I have nothing further to add than what I stated above.

          Thank you for your reply.

          EDIT 22 March - None taken....ever, I enjoy reading the many points of view here on TED
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      Mar 22 2012: Great questions Carlin.

      You make me think there is a mix of luck and survival memes for a religion. Maybe they are interelated.

      II agree that politics and power make a big mark on religion.

      The spread of Christianity or Islam via the sword. Colonialism by superior military powers. Even a Roman emperor legitimising Christianity.

      There also seems a balance between adaptability and sticking to some core beliefs.
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        Mar 22 2012: To illustrate adaptation,
        Once I was in Umbria, Italy, not too far from Rome visiting a church in a village. On the altar was a great statue of Mother Mary and as I looked for Christ I found a cross right behind the door as if it was just delivered.
        To me it was obvious that the old believe and tradition of the Goddess were still observed. They merely changed some names to fit the new Christian standard.
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          Mar 24 2012: The holidays and festivals seem to have flowed over too.

          Its funny how the Mother Mary cult didn't flow on to the protestant religions.

          I guess by that stage they realised it had very little to do with the Christian god/bible etc.
  • Mar 21 2012: Of course religions evolve. Within and without. Some go extinct, some just change and change. Everything culture evolves. Most Christians have no idea what their religions actually were. Most never read the old testament. They cherry-pick passages here and there and keep thinking that their religion is about love, that their religion has always been about whatever they think it is about today. Such nonsense. Anyway. The answer is yes. What doesn't evolve? Why ask? Isn't it obvious?
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      Mar 21 2012: To say that Christianity 'were' is pure nonesense Gabo.I'm sure you read poetry , the spiritual thing/ (like feelings) it creates always remains the same , what that people said creates such feelings like then even today . Look a good example of an amazing sharing of spiritual experiences .The culture evolves is true but if I want to understand Shakespeare , I try to live again the emotions his works creates regardless of my culture , in this way his work IS .I said you the atheism is a joke : (an example) you don't understand Shakespeare , live like that , but because you find a contradiction between let's say the verse 5 and 17 you reject everything with a grave tone ............ in fact it's not only a joke , it's becoming an entire comedy .
      • Mar 21 2012: Shakespeare is poetry. Not supposed to be literal truth. Not supposed to be infallible. Your god is not supposed to be such things. If I find contradictions in Romeo and Juliet, then I realize it is a story with some problems. But no harm done. They are fictitious yet I see the poetry and messages. Fine. The same happens with the Bible. I realize it is a collection of myths. Sometimes, oftentimes, contradictory myths. This is obvious. Yet, I get to understand the poetry of some visions about life from the perspective a culture that is lost in time, but present in this literature. Some of their beliefs and morals are awful, some poetry is superb, some parts are mediocre, some parts are genius. No part is divine. I realize this, and I can get from the Bible whatever is gettable. But from that to believe in a god that's a square circle? Very far.

        So, this is more like tragic comedy. Sad witnessing of people renouncing their intellectual faculties in exchange to deny square-circleness no matter what. Which leaves us at square one. How can anybody choose a right god using your methods? Everybody will finish on their already chosen god(s). So, again, it makes much more sense to wait until there is evidence. Much better than waste time pretending that any of it might be true. More so if I realize that with your method whatever god(s) I start with will be true. It does not make sense, so it must be all equally false.

        Got it this time?
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          Mar 22 2012: I think part of the problem is even believers disagree on what is literal and what is symbolic. Even some basic assumptions differ.
          I guess key elements of say the Christian strands differ primarily by some core differences in interpretations that are maintained within their communities of belief.

          I also guess an Orthodox Christian in Serbia has a very different picture of god and jesus, what it means to be christian, the universe and our place in it compared to a Baptist in the US. Due to history, culture, tradition, childhood indoctrination etc.
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          Mar 23 2012: Gabo:

          Would be interesting to know how you define the world 'divine' as a non-believer :) .

          To get it I think I gonna need some clarifications : -you said the Bible is an inconsistent book (a collection of contradictory myths oftentimes) and also you said that from having an understanding of the Bible to believing in God is 'very far' but the same you takes from the Bible his veiw about God ('your God is supposed to be such things') : if you can't get to God through the Bible why do you think something about God using the Bible (after that to reject it) ? Obviously, what you think about God can't be about Him , ; so Gabo you lie , you didn't get to understand the 'poetry' . Am I right ?

          My method .......... shortly I repeat it : everybody to try to find what god is true by checking their revelations . I also tried to share a way this checking could be done : by doing what that revelations ask ; or by looking at the bests of that religions (the people that really did what that revelations ask). I don't remember to well what you said against it : reach to believe in the same already believed god ?
      • Mar 24 2012: Don't be that nonsensical Eduard. You know what I meant, and twisting meanings that way can only mean that either your logic is much worse than I thought, or that somebody looking over your shoulder told you this and you jumped into it without thinking what you were doing. So, do you really want me to clarify or will you show that you actually can think for yourself? This is no kindergarden "arguing" you know?
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          Mar 24 2012: Yes , I really want you to clarify .

          You said you get from the Bible whatever is gettable (including the spiritual thing it creates) but even so from here to believing in God is 'very far' . I know many people who think also they get from the Bible whatever is gettable and the first thing among these was the belief in God . I think you understand my wonder , I'm waiting you to clarify , I didn't try to twist anything , I tried just to express what I've just said here .
      • Mar 25 2012: Ed,

        I doubt that anybody would get to believe in "God" by reading the Bible. I really doubt it. I don't think it is possible. You have to believe first. Otherwise you would notice the inconsistencies. You would notice the evolving thinking of the people writing these books. You would notice that this book is far from divine.

        As for your "questions," check and triple check what you have asked a couple of times. Then see if you can ask something coherent instead. In the meantime, I see a hairball that makes no sense, and thus deserve no answers.
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          Mar 26 2012: Perhaps if I read the bible 2000 years ago it would seem more credible.
          Reading through it today it just seems like some tribal mythology with the teachings of the guru Jesus Christ added in to confuse everyone.
          It doesn't seem any more convincing that the Koran or many other religious scriptures.

          Although I would say its age makes it harder to rubbish than more contempory derrivatives eg Scientology, LDS JW etc
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      Mar 22 2012: Gabo, I also expect that the views of christians in the early days, their conception of god, the universe etc is very difference from today.
      Although some seem to have shared a believe that the end of the world is just around the corner for 2000 years.
      I was in a church in the late 90's and end times preachers were a regular thing.
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      Mar 22 2012: Hi Adriaan, I guess a higher power could be adjusting the revelation to fit our world views.
      Suggest it is just as likely we adjust the revelations to reflect our world views.

      Suggest their should be no dissonance between what science tells us about the universe and a religious view that claims to be the truth. As part of this we have to accept that science is only getting started. We haven't and may not fill all the gaps.

      However, some religions and superstitious beliefs invent a spiritual realm that is independent of reality. It makes unprovable claims. Trees may have invisible spirits or feelings without having brains.

      Suggest it is most likely relgious experience is in our brains only. If there is something more I expect one day science will be able to detect it. But expect it is probably unprovable fantasy.
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          Mar 22 2012: "if, whatever you believe makes you a better person, believe it!"
          Very interesting. Actually quite a powerful statement.
          Sort of a self improvement/belief ends justifying the means.

          Mmmm. I guess it is better than believing incorrect things that make you a worse person.

          Why not try and find out the truth and be a better person regardless?
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          Mar 24 2012: I agree with your last sentence. There are so many Christian dogmas and beliefs that make little sense to me.

          Still it all could be as one group say. From a human perspective the christian god as many propose seems to include some of the worst aspects of human nature taken to a supernatural level.
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    Mar 20 2012: Hi Obey.
    I see religion per se as a smokescreen. It has many flavours, but one purpose, that being to divert people from the truth. In that context it can indeed evolve. At one time religion bent over backwards to prove that the flat earth theory was biblical, today they are quite ok with evolution. It's a bit like politics, the leaders try to appease those who shout the loudest, but the 'grass roots' are much more consistent . Power corrupts, but the Truth is eternal.

    :-)
    • Mar 21 2012: Yours is a religion Pete. Like it or not. Like any Christianity.
      Religion did not "bent over backwards" to prove that the flat earth was biblical. The bible describes stuff that make sense in a flat earth. Just as it describes columns and foundations. I know the excuses, but why would the bible not be clear and say "the sphericity of the earth," or something like that? Why do you have to put that meaning into it rather than it be clear cut?
      Anyway, I doubt that the bible "deserves the credit" for a flat earth. This was something that seemed somewhat correct by those times, thus that's what people wrote into the bible. The book was (well, rather the books were) written Pete. It(they) did not appear out of nowhere.
      It is also a bit misleading to say that "religions" are ok with evolution. Some religious leaders have decided not to fight nonsensically against something as well established as evolution. Least their followers start realizing that believing in gods necessarily means holding to nonsensical beliefs (nonsensical given the evidence). If they start accepting what's honestly undeniable (such as evolution), then they can hold to the nonsense for much longer. Of course there's the other route: Dishonest misrepresentation of the facts and et cetera. After all, there are plenty of young earth creationists, aren't there? This means that it is possible to keep people in abject and hopeless ignorance.
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        Mar 21 2012: Hi Gabo.
        I agree Christianity is a religion. There are many, most must be wrong, but it would be strange if they were all wrong. The fact that there are so many points to a source, no smoke without fire if you like. Same with evolution; micro happens, so macro makes sense.
        Even Athiests like yourself can see that evolution & salvation are totally incompatible. Why the Pope etc can't see that baffles me. But he wants to keep in with 'science' more than stick to the bible. You have to admit YECs don't evolve much, but religion in general moves a bit.

        PS I know several Pillars of the community. None are stone, & none physically hold up the community.

        :-)
        • Mar 21 2012: Hi Pete,

          I don't see why not all Christianity's would be wrong. This is like saying that there are many Islams, and it would be strange it all Islams were wrong. Of course this points to a source, the source being whatever started Christianity, just like whatever started Islam. That there is a source does neither mean that the source is "truth," nor that it is "godly."

          I agree with you that without some parts being true, the whole edifice of Christianity breaks down. If Genesis is metaphor, what do we need Jesus to save us from? Seems like the new pope back-pedalled, but regardless, I know many Catholics that disagreed with the previous pope, just as many disagree with the new one. The point is, most people "believe" without paying much attention.Thus, giving them "permission" to stop denying the undeniable makes them feel better about believing. You for example now "bend over backwards" to believe that the Bible does not contain flat Earths (a couple versions), nor immobile Earths (a few versions). You would deny that their descriptions look a lot like the cosmologies believed by people like those who wrote the Bible. You also bend over backwards to believe that the Bible is scientifically accurate, and that every scientific discipline contradicting whatever you still hold to is wrong, exactly the way ancestral Peters denied the evidence for a spherical and/or mobile earth (except they had more power, so calling on blasphemy was enough, no need for much quackery). Thus, YECs evolve to the point they don't recognize their ancestors.

          Anyway, if pillars are metaphoric, how do we decide? Why did the Sun stop, not the Earth? WHy it was possible to see everything from a very tall tree, or a very tall mountain? Why, again, could this not be written straight-forward and avoid this "confusion"? Easy answer: there is no confusion, the Bible is as terrestrial as any other ancient mythologies and it shows scars of its evolving cultural backgrounds.

          Best.
          :-)
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        Mar 21 2012: Gabo:

        I think you heard many arguments or whatever you think they are in favor of the Bible ; if what I said happens to be like them , this is it , because I invent them .
        'A human being can't be perfect and defective at the same time ' it's a bit contradictory if it is said in this way I agree ; the idea is that the beings are limited but this beings are good , they are entirely good . This is what I want to say and I think that you understood me , your view on this don't stays , don't you agree ?

        What you said again proves to me that you didn't understand the Bible (this is obvious) . Give me an example when God is angry .
        Obviously, you can't go beyond your already preconcieved ideas . What you said don't makes at all sense ; I never had this position " We don't know, but "God" must have a perfect reason'' . I always was for the idea that any logical problems the Bible creates can be solved . You also presented very few problems of this kind : - this one above with the creation
        - maybe if you are in the mood to talk : we'll have a problem about an angry God
        - that one with 'to believe ' .........
        Even so you keep continue saying that God is a square circle , where are your proofs ? , that I didn't manage to prove what I wanted about God is another story , maybe I can now...... .

        Put yourself in my position , will you think different ?
        • Mar 21 2012: I can't put myself in your position Eduard, because you deny the undeniable. It is there in the Bible in plain black and white that this god was angry and drowned everybody but a few because of what his failed creation had been doing.

          You have not managed to solve the first square circle other than trying to redefine what good means, or omnipotent means. Look at it again: if this god created so that the whole thing would fall at the first sin, then the creation was far from "good." It fell, and condemned billions of people in the process who now are born with a sinful nature. All to the point of needing a bloody sacrifice (divine bloody sacrifice!), in order to be able to be forgiven because on our own that would not be possible. Thus, incompetence to create (or evilness): thus neither omnipotent, nor good. Maybe not omniscient. Needs a bloody sacrifice: what can be good about a god who has to have blood and pain in order to forgive? Then I bet you look in utter disbelief when they tell you about the Aztecs bloody sacrifices to the Sun. I see no difference. They are "primitive," but your god is good and just and omnipotent and omniscient. Of course, it is also all about love. Right. At least the Aztec gods were not infallible, and thus their sacrifices meant something (Nanauatzin was supercool given himself bravely for the beginning of the fifth Sun--this last part edited because I did not remember which god was this).
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        Mar 21 2012: Hi Gabo.
        You picked me up wrong. I mean there are lots of religions; only one Christianity, which of course is one flavour of religion. My point being that if none of them are true, then what's it all about. If one were true then lots of mutated versions makes more sense; bit like evolution.
        All the Christians I know are YECs. Most of them belong to old well established denominations, lots of the people are also very old. As far as I can see folks have always believed the plain reading of scripture; so it is not a modern fad; just plain old mainline Christianity.
        If I said my love is like a red rose would you expect her to have barbs on her legs & red folds of skin all over her face ? If I said he had muscles of steel, would you take me literally ? Common sense rules Gabo, you 'just know' when an author is being literal or metaphoric. I do anyway.

        :-)
        • Mar 21 2012: Hey Pete,

          OK, got you wrong. But there is many Christianities, not just one. And there are mutated versions of every religion you can think of.

          Maybe all Christians you know are YECs, I truly believe you on that. Most of those I know are not YECs. All depends on your cultural context, I guess. In Mexico, all my colleagues were convinced that everybody voted "left," just as when I lived in a different city I had the impression that everybody voted "right." Anyway, you got me wrong too. I think YECs were among the first. They were also flat earthers. Only they have evolved and now deny any similarity with their ancestors. That's my point. You think that they bent over backwards to say that the Bible was flat-earth, but no, they were "literalists" just like you are. Only you manage to ignore the flat and immobile earth. I guess same way others manage to put evolution in. Though I would think that you are more consistent, true consistency would be if you accepted a flat earth, but that's farther from salvation than evolution and millions of years, thus that was easy to remove from YECs' beliefs.

          Metaphors are not easy to spot. You seem to be allowing your up-to-day knowledge blind you to the knowledge of times immemorial, when a flat earth and an earth resting firm on pillars was a literal belief. You fail to put the book(s) in its(their) historical and cultural context(s), and thus fail to see the obvious.

          So I insist, why not write something obviously correct and thus avoid this confusion? Why write as if the primitive beliefs are true, as if those primitive beliefs made it into a book and thus make it look as a book of primitive myths instead of the true godly book that it is believed to be? Wasn't this supposed to be an omnipotent and omniscient god? Wouldn't this god know that clarity helps things a huge deal?

          Best!
          :-)
        • Mar 21 2012: (Pete, was it not you who said "Why would God write something if he did not intend it to be literal"?)
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        Mar 22 2012: Hi Gabo.
        Not easy to find flat earth Facts, although I do remember some church leaders endorsing it, I assume to agree with the science at the time. We still use the phrases "ends of the earth" & " four corners of the earth", & understand exactly what is meant. If one just reads the bible in a non-combatant frame of mind, there is little confusion.
        "It is true that flat Earthism was never a majority or official position of the early church, and that it became practically nonexistent among the educated during and after the Middle Ages, but many of the early Fathers were flat Earthers (Schadewald, 1999). "
        http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA662.html

        I agree that all religions have mutated versions. Christianity has more than it's fair share as it has few rules & more freedom than most.

        :-)
        • Mar 22 2012: Are you aware that you are citing the creationist claim, rather than talkorigins answer to the claim? Couldn't that be a bit more of an example of quote-mining (and thus of creationist quackery)?

          I don't read the bible in attack mode. I read it without the prejudice that it is inerrant and godly. Thus I see easily what I say: tall trees and mountains from which you can see everything? The Sun stops? Pillars and immobile? Those things make sense given the beliefs of the peoples of the regions where the bible developed. I make sense of it given what it says, and given its historical and cultural context. Do you think it is wrong to put a book within its context?
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        Mar 23 2012: Gabo:

        'You aren't good if you fall at the first sin ' I think we gonna need a definition of what ' good ' means 'because I really don't understand the sentence ; especially that we're talking about being good before the fall . Is it something like 'you fell the test you have never been good before ' ? , obviously, it doesn't make sense .
        And something else, the first sin is the first sin , how do you imagine a evil person without no sin ?.... I still don't understand what you meant to say by that.

        I know you see no difference , this is the problem , I do . The Bible can be understood differently by different people, my wonder is about why do you keep an understanding that don't make sense (I believe you about it) when obviously there are understandings that make a lot more sense (this is about the 'bloody sacrifice' and about an 'anger' God). I think that now you notice that the 'undeniable' is about my understanding .
        • Mar 24 2012: I did not say that. What's happening to you these days Ed?
          So Christ was no bloody sacrifice? It was all nice and a ride in the park?
          Read the bible Ed. Then come back. Don't tell me that you have read it. Read it. Don't re-interpret it for me. Read it.
          Adios.
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        Mar 23 2012: Hey Gabo.

        "Are you aware that you are citing the creationist claim, "

        Check again old pal, it comes from Response No.1. Or am I missing something?

        :-)
        • Mar 23 2012: My wrong here Pete. Apologies. But it is still true that the bible has flat Earth all over it (edit: and immobility). Whether that was or not a position of the "early church," whatever that means. After all, the quote comes after a long list of people who were important in Christianty and were flat earthers.

          Still sorry. I mistook your quote with the claim (looks pretty much the same.)
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        Mar 24 2012: Hi Gabo.
        Yeh, I had to look a couple of times myself.

        You may be familiar with these, & similar, verses. They relate to the 'rapture', where, rumour has it, all us good guys will be instantly removed from the planet. 'Beam me up Scotty'.

        1 Corinthians 15:52 (NIV)
        in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

        Matthew 24:40-41 (NIV)
        Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. [41] Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

        Luke 17:34-35 (NIV)
        I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. [35] Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

        Notice that it will be daytime with some, & nighttime with others, but the deed only takes an instant. Now that wouldn't work too well with a flat earth where, presumably, it woul be either day or night for everyone. Works fine with a sphere though.

        :-)
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          Mar 24 2012: Kind of an indirect way for the scriptures to indicate time zones.
          Maybe they just remembered it differently.
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        Mar 24 2012: 'A creation that will fall at the first sin is not a good creation ' , how come ? Let's imagine an entire 'good' space, like a sphere , can it become later 'bad' ? if yes, how ? ....... my answer was that this space it's not alone , it's LIMITED , there are many other spaces around it , some of them 'bad' and 'bigger' , and when they collied ...... .

        I didn't not say Christ wasn't a bloody sacrifice ; I said that understanding the Bible everything will be 'nice and a ride in the park' . I read it and I interpret it .
        • Mar 25 2012: Ed,

          I have told you innumerable times. How could a creation be good if it will fall at the first sin sending innumerable people into hell in the process? At a minimum getting innumerable people to suffer here in this planet? If my car broke down because of a scratch in the paint it would bot be a good car. If on top of that then every car coming out of the production line came defective because of the scratch in the paint in my car, then the manufacturers would be completely imbecilic. Absolutely incompetent. Ether that, or evil, or both. Worse if the manufacturers knew all along that if they made such first car then the car would get the scratch, and the whole production line would become defective.

          Got it now? Don't try and isolate phrases. Don't try and simplify. read the whole thing of what I have told you. There is no getting our of your square circles. You only make them worse when you try and argue without first understanding what this is about.
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      Mar 22 2012: Hi Peter,

      I guess if you believe one of the religious belief systems has the truth then the others might be intended to divert humans from this, if there is an adversary or deceiver in your belief system. Not all religions have a fallen angel.

      Otherwise, the rest just might be different cultures coming up with their own strands of belief trying to make sense of the world, building on their local paradigms or being challenged by local gurus etc.

      We do agree in part. I just see one more belief system than you do misleading people from a more accurate view of reality - one without any of the made up human gods.
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        Mar 22 2012: Hi Obey.
        It depends on your worldview. To me it seems impossible that all the intricate systems in the universe could have occurred without intelligent input. Trying to understand the intricate workings of the cell, blows my mind, as does a swan coming into land. The RAF spent thousands trying to emulate a housefly, but had to quit. I have been involved in many engineering contracts, not one of which would have succeeded by the mutation without intelligent input method. So I'm afraid that I put evolution in there with the religions.
        I follow Christ because of the evidence. Let's assume I'm wrong. I spend my life with love as my priority, & the exciting prospect of eternal bliss. I die & the lights go out.
        Let's assume I'm right. You spend your life as best you can with no eternal prospect, you die & the lights come on; too late.
        If I was in any doubt, I know the choice I would make.

        ;-)
        • Mar 22 2012: Problem being that there are many religions we could be wrong about. So, let us say that Muslims are right? You go to the eternal fire with the rest of us. ANother problem, why should we pretend to believe? WOuldn't an omniwhatever god notice that we did not believe any of it?
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          Mar 22 2012: Hi Peter.

          Pascals wager. Lets hope your belief system is the one that correctly explains the criteria for avoiding hell or its equivalent.

          Don't you find it ridiculous that the creator of the universe would set up a hell for 80% or more of all humans? A so called loving god committing most of us to eternal torture because we didn't find the evidence convincing or were born in the wrong time or place? God sure does move in mysterious ways. I just find it ridiculous and sad. Talk about a carrot and stick.

          On evolution. I also start to struggle with understanding reality once it gets past the everyday human scale down past mm, out past our sun and moon, a billion years etc. The more I learnt in chemistry and physics and got past the simple introductory understanding of atoms the more I realised how weird reality it. Once we got animals I can see how they evolved. Its mapped out by the connections and similarities of living animals.

          I find imagining a spirit world mostly primitive. I find your creator is even more difficult to explain or grasp than evolution

          I know you have given a great deal of consideration to these big questions rather than just growing up in a cultural religion. We may come to different conclusions but I doubt either of us is going to lead a bad life because of it. Your world view based on the bible and mine based on no religion might lead us to clash in terms of what benefits humanity and how best to live to make everyones life a little better, but I'd probably disagree with other religions and non religious as well in many cases.

          The fact that religious believers think they have the absolute truth is something I have to deal with. However, I don't find modern Christianity or Buddhism etc particularly offensive, if its not given special status, or forcing religious based views on others conflicting with equal rights etc.

          I do believe in freedom of/from religion until it clashes with human rights/humanist values.
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        Mar 22 2012: Hey Gabo.
        You're the scientist. Believe me, if you're looking for 'The' God among all the others you just follow the evidence. Starting with a blank sheet you would work it out in weeks. You're problem is accepting the whole concept, & the many gods excuse is just part of your arsenal .

        :-)
        • Mar 22 2012: My arsenal for what exactly Pete. I see that to accept your god I have to deny so much science that it does not make sense. That I have to accept first that your god is real, and that nothing, absolutely nothing, that contradicts anything in your book(s) can be right in the slightest. I have to pretend that scientists don't know how to do their work, despite I know better, I have to pretend that everything aligns with evolution because scientists force everything to fit, not because, as I know well, we cross check, I have to pretend so much, lie to myself so much. I have to cherry-pick, even contradict myself before accepting the possibility that this god is false. Thus, it is a no brainer, but in the very opposite way that you pretend. You know I am saying exactly what I see. You know you do this. Why would you keep at it. Who knows. But I have no doubt that you know it's all pretence. I think you still sincerely believe in this god. But I am convinced that you know that your position is untenable without first believing that your god is real, and that nothing else matters. Evidence, whatever. Nothing matters unless you can give it a twist and pretend that it supports your position.

          So, sure, I would work it out, not in weeks, in seconds. Your god is myth. Actually, many myths, not just one. Evolving myths. Nothing real about it. Should I keep trying to find "the real one"? Heck, no. What a waste of time. If there were a real god there would be something guiding us there. But there is nothing except the most vile and despicable of all quackeries. You confirm this each and every time you write Pete.
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        Mar 23 2012: Hey Gabo.
        You seem to get awful annoyed over this. What's the big deal? God doesn't exist, no problem. Christianity isn't your bag, that's cool. I don't think there is any conspiracy on either side, folks are just coming to their own conclusions, & trying to make sense of a complex world. No-one knows for sure; if it turns out you were right all along, then that's ok; if disappointing. I'm not advocating bombing anyone, quite the reverse, just trying to spread a little love..

        :-)
        • Mar 23 2012: Of course no conspiracy on your side Pete. It is quackery. That's different and much easier to keep at it than a conspiracy. There will always be people who live out of the ignorance of others. Just note how much quackery is there for lemon-car sales. There is no conspiracy to make us buy lemons. Only there will always be somebody to sell the lemons to. That keeps lemon-car salesmen coming. Just like creationist quacks. It is not that "they come to different conclusions." They exploit the rich field carved by quacks before them. You are willing to buy the snake-oil, they sell it to you. Plain and simple.

          Much harder to do in science though. Sooner or later somebody will work things up. In creationism, ignorance is bliss. In science you have to learn a lot of stuff to be in most fields. That makes for a lot of a difference. We have quacks, but we find them sooner or later.

          Worked out? Yes. I am. Many reasons. One of them that I treasured those beliefs you have once. I thought they inspired honesty. They inspired trust in those higher figures. So, I see that such kind of trust is betrayed to the lowest possible levels. So I truly hate these abusers. Making a living out of lying to children? Making a living out of keeping people in ignorance? Then there is also the problem that they keep attacking me, my students, my community, my profession. They lie about us. Worse, you guys buy into this. You truly think that we don't know how to make our work. That we build bridges out of straw instead of steel.

          And no, there is no honesty on those guys. I know from direct experience.

          See ya.
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        Mar 23 2012: Hi Obey.
        "Don't you find it ridiculous that the creator of the universe would set up a hell for 80% or more of all humans? "
        Yep; I don't understand it. I do try though.

        Genesis 2:16-17 (KJV)
        And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: [17] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

        Adam & Eve initially had no concept of evil, they were at one with God. When they ate the fruit they understood the difference. Today we still know the difference, that is what our conscience is for. Although if we ignore it often enough it will cease to bother us so much.
        We are addicted to evil (God's definition of evil); so we cannot be in God's presence. So when we die, we cannot go home, we have to go somewhere, because we are eternal. So if good comes only from God, then we have to where there is no good.

        Romans 1:20 (KJV)
        "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"

        From God's perspective his existence is obvious to us. We can see his handiwork.

        Romans 1:21-22 (KJV)
        "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,"

        We think we are smarter than God. He came to earth & paid our baile, but we still don't believe. He; & we are running out of options.

        That's how I see it Obey, although I find it difficult to get my head around, but I'm grateful enough not to argue.

        :-)
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          Mar 24 2012: HI Peter,

          I would put it differently.

          Benevolence evolves. At any given time, persons can understand benevolence only to the extent they have taken on the spirit of benevolence (the Holy Spirit). Reading the words of the past like they are a straight jacket, rather than like shoulders that have been offered for you to stand on muffles the true WORD, the word that was with God from the beginning and that IS God: the LOGOS (The Holy Spirit: Pure omnisient Benevolence). This is because as benevolence evolves, we are more capable of receiving grreater truth from God than when we were less benevolent.

          God Loves. The Only thing that cannot be forgiven so long as it exists is lack of faith in the Holy Spirit (Benevolence). Heaven could not exist except as the place where benevolence leads because what it is is the community of benevolent spirits. Thus, only faith in the Holy Spirit (benevolence) can lead you there.

          Benevolence (the Holy Spirit) saves. That is its unstoppable desire. In God it is omnipotent. It does not fail. To the extent the words of the past say otherwise, they were not drafted with pure faith in benevolence.

          Consider the Prodical Son. Do you think that when Satan's true perfect, God created nature gets ahold of him and brings him home, Jesus will act like the older brother in the story, or will Jesus rejoice along with his Father?

          Hell is a misconception given to us by ancient men. It does not carry the marks of benevolence that would go with a prophesy delivered directly by the Holy Spirit of God, the ONLY tree that always gives healthy fruit.
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          Mar 24 2012: Thanks Peter for acknowledging eternal damnation is a hard one even for humans that want to believe to reconcile with a supposed loving god.

          Original sin is another.
          The old testament seems full with examples of god killing, ordering killing etc
          Then the new testament throws in hell etc.

          I remember giving the usual explanations to non believers when I was Christian.
          If our sense of morality is supposed to reflect some innate sense of good and bad given to us by god, then this is a tough one.

          These days I tend to believe our sense of morality evolved as part of living in groups. From a humanist perspective there is no excuse for eternally torturing someone. Heck, I'm even against the death penalty and beating kids. But when your god says an eye for an eye and don't spare the rod, it just helps the ugly part of human end up in our laws.

          I don't think I'm smarter than a god. I'm just human. And these beliefs just look human made. I understand this point of view or anything that challenges faith would be talked down by the authors or letter writers in the bible.

          Again, while it just doesn't make sense, I have to acknowledge there could be an incomprehensible god running the show. Lucky for you his book was easily available. Too bad for all the hindus, buddhists, muslims, and nearly everyone in much of Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania until a few hundred years ago. I had the fortune to grow up in a place and time when I could examine religions etc and make a rational decision. For most of human history, most humans haven't really been in a situation to even know about Jesus.
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    Mar 20 2012: See Richard Wright's book, The Evolution of God. He traces the changes in the ideas about God and gods.
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      Mar 20 2012: Thanks inthe. I'll have to look that one up.
      These are questions that fascinate me.
    • Mar 21 2012: Interestingly, if this is the same book I remember, the author believes in a god.
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        Mar 23 2012: Sorry folks, Its Robert Wright.

        He apparently does believe in God. I am only part way through the book so I have not got to see what he is going to say about his idea of God. But generally, the history he has been depicting shows the development from Shamanism with multitudinous nature spirts to a universally benevolent single God. He points to passages in the Bible that show that development within the Bible.
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          Mar 23 2012: I like your review.can we make friend?
  • Mar 20 2012: Benefits of believing give us our subconscious motivation to be religious. Religions with no formal leadership or administration tend to evolve less, like the Protestant branch of Christianity.....while Catholicism has an extensive administrative body that decides the direction for the future of the church, which functions almost analogous to a corporation following consumer demand. For example, Catholics have embraced evolution has an extrapolated explanation of creationism.
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      Mar 20 2012: Thanks Matthew. Its kind of counter intuitive. You would almost expect the less administered to be more flexible over time. The Protestant branch is much newer

      I guess Catholicism's organisation has allowed it to adapt to scientific discovery. But I note on social issues they continue to be quite conservative e.g. contraception, married clergy. Some things they just won't give up even if not core to the bible.