Roy Bourque

Aerospace Education Officer for Cadets, Civil Air Patrol

This conversation is closed.

how has a belief in an afterlife affected the quality of life on earth?

I see this as multi-faceted. Starting with those who believe;

A-1: Some believe that life hereafter is dependent on how well they have upheld the golden rule.
A-2: Some believe that life hereafter is only determined by adherence to religious ritual and doctrine.
A-3: Some believe that they have a duty to uphold God's law and to defend it with whatever it takes in order to get God's approval.

Now to those who don't believe;

B-1: If this is all you have to give, give it all you have to offer.
B-2: He who dies with the most toys wins. The losers are just a bunch of stupid people anyway.
B-3: If life doesn't go on, why should I live in poverty while others live like kings? Let's take the world by force; Might makes right.

We all know what category Richard Dawkins is in; B-1. He sees religious people as not caring about this life because religion steers them in that direction. He abhors those who would kill in the name of God, and I don't blame him. People in this category see religion as a threat to the preservation of this planet.

What category are drug cartels and human traffickers in? They don't kill you quickly, they suck the life out of you over time. Is A-3 any better or worse than B-3? there are many who choose not to do evil because they believe in divine retribution. Would taking away that belief make them better or worse?

I don't see this question as black and white. I would like to see A-1 and B-1 come together and work to eliminate all the others. Can we do that, and what would it take?

I am open to anyone else's thoughts on the subject.

Closing Statement from Roy Bourque

I have found in the comments that it can go both ways. Many feel that a belief in an afterlife has caused many to have a contempt for this life. Some feel that they are connected to something greater, but don't see it as God. Some have left the church they were in for something that has more meaning in the present life.

What a person believes is largely dictated by what they were taught unless they choose to seek for themselves. I believe that religion was originally meant as a guide for seeking, but has been monopolized by institutions to promote their beliefs. Many others feel the same way, but differ in how they chose to seek.

Today, science has taken the lead in many person's tools to understand the world. Some have gone beyond their faith but still use the tools of science to augment how they see the world. For them it is not one-sided, but a compromise between the two, gleaning from each other to expose the truth wherever it may exist.

Adriaan presents links on Swedenborg. It offers teachings by one who has lived a spiritual life.

The negatives to the debate are concerning those who would do terrible things to please God because that is what they have been taught. They see an afterlife as a way out of a wicked world. Churches use fear, punishment, and reward to promote a moral code and lock their parishioners into a belief system that is unswerving.

The positives are concerning a connectedness to a greater whole. Some find solace in believing in an afterlife in a world that has left them with little to hope for in their present life.

I see an afterlife as an extension of our present life. Should we return here, why not leave the planet better off. If science can tell us how to do that, then so be it. Should we go somewhere else, why would God choose someone who couldn't take care of the world they were entrusted with? Should we go nowhere, why not learn all we can about the world we live in?

Find the truth however you can, and share it.

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    Mar 28 2012: To know you live, being in an everlasting now, a moment that changes in the way we see it as we are changed by it because of what we see, gives a different outlook on life and your place in it than you propose.

    Know yourself to know everything.
    Individuals die, consciousness doesn't.
    It just subtract from one point of focus to be attracted to another point, to experience life from an ever different perspective. (What you do to anything living you've done to yourself.)

    A: To believe on authority makes one blind.
    B: To believe on one's own accord makes one free to explore.
    C: You have left out.
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      Mar 28 2012: Frans,

      Sometimes I forget that when we stop seeing ourselves as just a body, we become immortal. Life is a river, and we just make stops along the way. Thanks for the reminder.
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    • Mar 29 2012: That's what I am searching for !
      Contraria non contradictoria sed complementa sunt ( Opposites are not contradictory but complementary )
      "Science VS God, Logic VS Intuition" attitude implies that we are not yet ready to reconcile the opposites. They came from one point of singularity and I don't see the reason why they shouldn't lead to one Truth.
      Bridget, thanks for all your posts here and suggested links, a lot to ponder !
      Thank you !
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        • Mar 30 2012: Hi, Andriaan !
          The list of additions could be quite long... very long! :) 'Opposetes' is the nature of duality, it's how our mind works, it's how we perceive the world through mind. Creation is separation, God separated the Light from Darkness. Waters from Land...and so it all begins... So, your addition is accepted :)
          I've read somewhere that the Hebrew word for 'rib' has another meaning and can be translated into English as 'side', so Eve is a side, another equal half of Adam and only together they create the whole. It's true on physical and conscious level (go through Bridget's comments, Adam and Eve are the state of human consciousness ) Maybe if the translator had chosen the word 'side', there would have been no feminist's movement : ) and through millenniums we'd have better understanding of the complementarity of 'Male VS Female' pattern .
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        Mar 30 2012: Hi Natasha,

        are you asserting that there no conflict between Science and God or that there shouldn't be a conflict because they both lead to the same truth?

        If it is the former I would have to disagree and states that Religious claims and claims about God are by their very nature anti-scientific and goes against just about everything that Science would assert.

        while I agree that something like logic and intuition should not be conflicted (after all I think reason is at its core intuitive) I do not think this can be the case for Science and Religion (as it is practiced around the world) but nonetheless I think many of our opposites can be reconciled (with the exception that I have just mentioned)
        • Mar 30 2012: Wait a minute !
          What exactly are we talking about 'Science VS God ' or 'Science VS Religion ' ? I would suggest to discriminate between those two.I don't have name for God and don't practice any main stream religion, for me God is the Whole.
          What we could observe through mind is helplessly limited and sometimes irrelevant because of limitation. Our mind inhabits 25 % of spacetime ( 75% marked as Dark matter/energy ) So logic/reasoning (the very tool mind operates with ) is not the only way we know the world and not necessarily the best. But we have access to the Whole through intuition. For me 'Science VS God' and ' Logic VS Intuition' is the same coupling in disguise. Almost all the great advances in science have come about not from logic or reason but from ' Eurica' moments- flashes of insight. What is insight ? It's a moment of creative inspiration that fires science, music, literature or art. It's God! It's non-algorithmic depth of knowing. Actually, in order to grow to evolve we need both logic and intuition , science and God in equal measure. The problem is, as I see it, we invested too much into science/logic and forgot about the intuition/God.
          Why do you think we are talking so much about God ? We are trying to catch-up :)
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        Mar 30 2012: Hi Natasha,

        Now as much as you may want it to be, God and Religion are not mutually exclusive. In the modern world and through out human history religion is a path to God for many people. This may not be the case for you personally (or many adherents of the contemplative traditions) and I applaud you for that but why not just use the term the Whole as opposed to God because God is a term that is really misleading but to state that their is no conflict between God and Science and Science and Religion I think is untrue and this is the question that I was asking.

        You are right that logic/reason are not the only way to understand the world (or universe) and I have actually never stated that they were. I have on several occasions stated that I am all for the validity of intuitive and spiritual experiences. I do think logic/reason are the best way of understanding the world but when it comes to transcendence and understanding ourselves it is obviously not a good tool.

        There are many things that I do not disagree with you with. I like your notion of God being intuition. I agree that insight may have perhaps led to the great scientific discoveries (as with the case of Newton sitting in contemplation).

        Your second to last sentence is the one that irks me:
        This is a common misconception about Science. Many people tend to think that Science has taken the flavor out of life. Has made us lose our creativity. Has made us lose our touch with our intuitions and this is not true. No scientist is not trying to take these things away. All science wants to do is dig beneath the surface and understand the causes of things.

        understanding the molecular constituents of ice cream does not take away from the sensation and experience of ice cream being delicious. I think you also have to realize what happens if we allow intuition to take over completely. What is needed is a balance of the two as opposed to either/or but I do not get the sense that you'd be opposed to that.
        • Mar 30 2012: Hi Orlando !
          Thanks for the response !
          God is not a term but a Symbol, it doesn't imply, that God is not real and there is a huge difference. In order to communicate my idea I'd better use the old age, heavily loaded Symbol, than to invent my own 'term' for God.
          It's true, God and Religion are not mutually exclusive. But to get to the common ground let's ( again!) discriminate between Religion, as a teaching based on a sacred doctrine and Religion as an institution. I don't want to go further into the discussion about the latter , religious people are very sensitive to these matters and I don't want to hurt anyone, and truly respect their choice.
          Sacred Doctrine is a terra incognita for me, it's quite recent, but I've got some "aha" moments . It's so deep... it's even deeper ! It has nothing to do with brainwashing, there is nothing supernatural there.God is perfectly natural. But to take this as an explanation is to trivialise the meaning of what I am trying to explain.:)
          And about 'common misconception about Science' . I am not among those people, who 'think that Science has taken the flavor out of life' , not science but the attitude it's generated, unwillingly. It's a long talk, but the attitude that 'we are two with nature' proved to be very harmful. And I believe that science restores the feeling of sacred and is bringing it back to life right now. Because of its own insights that are enriching and extending those of the sacred traditions.This process tends to reach its apogee in modern physics. A lot is yet to come.
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        Mar 30 2012: HI Natasha,

        Once again I find myself in agreement with you and I like you analysis of your points. I just wanted to make sure I understood what you were driving at and thanks for all your clarifications being that its hard to be precise on your points over the internet.

        So, in the context you are speaking in, for you its all about the experience and you believe that God, being the whole can be experienced? If that's the case then I accept that position being that I seek the same thing but instead I'm not looking for God but a higher level if awareness that would leave me speechless.
        • Mar 31 2012: Hi, Orlando !
          " The sea refuses no river."
          To become aware of your Spirit or God, or whatever you want to call it, IS Enlightenment/ Awareness/ Christ consciousness.
          We are trying to get to 'know thyself 'and talkig, while we are not speechless yet, and clearly don't know yet. He who knows does not speak, he who speaks does not know :)
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        Apr 1 2012: Hi Natasha,

        I'm responding to your comment about wars being about fear...
        I agree with you completely but if I may state, to have fear entails a belief in something but your correct though that I'm sure its about the ego. I'm assuming this is the case being that most wars in human history has been caused by greedy, sick and self-centered men
  • Apr 10 2012: P.S. Just re-reading the end of your original question, and there's one small thing I find a little concerning. You say you would like to see two of the six beliefs "come together and work to eliminate all the others." There's something about the word 'eliminate' that bugs me. How would we 'eliminate' the beliefs in question? By eliminating the people who have them? There's been ample evidence through the centuries of the horrors that that can cause.

    As I said before, I think that battles between beliefs lead to trouble, even if it's the battle between the belief that belief in an afterlife improves life on earth, and the belief that it doesn't.

    One of my former yoga teachers said once that the rate of change in human society is like the rate of erosion of a cube of stone, a mile per side, being flown over by a dove holding a silk scarf that drags on the top of the stone as the dove flies back and forth, back and forth.

    I don't think there's a way to make a better world by forcing any change on anyone. But perhaps there's a way to do it, slowly and lovingly, with acts of kindness, generosity, respect, and consideration towards our fellow human beings, each day, as best we can.
  • Apr 10 2012: Thank you for your thoughts, Roy and everyone else.

    I wanted to re-frame things a little bit, because of the way my mind makes sense of it.

    In the book Native Science, Gregory Cajete talks about the distinction between actual lived experience, and the ideas / beliefs that we make up about it.

    I sense that the discomfort you have, Roy, is the observed fact that someone can have very 'pure' or 'noble' ideas, but then behave in a monstrous way. There's plenty of genocidal and murderous examples of this in the name of religion and economics even up to the present day, aren't there?

    What is the afterlife? What if it is, at minimum, the 'after life'? What I mean is, what if our 'after life' is the sum total of what we leave behind on this earth through our actions? If I have worked for a company or organization that has created and spread death and misery no matter what my beliefs, then after I am gone I have left a certain legacy, have I not? But if I have behaved ethically towards my fellow human beings and the ecology, if I leave behind some life, some beauty, something of value, isn't my 'after life' different?

    I get a lot of peace from indigenous perspectives. One traditional understanding is that the idea that you and I (or anyone) should argue about different beliefs in God / Creator is absurd. I connect in my way and you in yours, and that's that.

    In one meeting between missionaries and Natives in North America, the former shared the story of Christianity and Jesus and asked if the Natives would convert. They deliberated, and said "No, thank you. But we will watch your people over the next years, and see how they behave under the influence of your teachings. If they behave well, we will all convert. But if they behave poorly, none of us will convert, because then it will be clear that your teachings are of no value."

    Religion in itself or any specific belief in the afterlife matters less than what we do with it, and how it affects our actions.
  • Apr 2 2012: You were asking how a belief in an afterlife can affect the life on earth. I think it is the type of afterlife you believe in that is important. If you believe that life is just a test for you (only for you) or if you believe that there is no afterlife and everything that happens after your death is not important, then you basicaly dont care about what happens with this planet, with humanity after you die. I think if people started to care about the world they leave behind, not just their lives or their afterlives, if they would be a bit more humble, if they tried to realize that they are just a tiny little individuals, realize that what realy matters is the longterm wellbeing of humans in this universe, then the quality of life could improve.
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      Apr 2 2012: I am finding this to be true. there are those who do despicable things because they have been taught that God will punish them if they don't do as he says, and their leaders claim to be the voice of God. So their leaders march them off to war to defend the faith.

      There are those who believe that this life doesn't matter and its only a test, so they do all the things that the church teaches without regard to what they should be doing to improve life now. Jesus said "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" which says to me that we need to be making heaven on earth.

      There are those who believe that life doesn't go on and it's finders keepers losers weepers, so they exploit the planet and everybody they can to benefit themselves.

      I don't like any of the above options.
      • Apr 3 2012: I think it was Voltaire who said if God didn't exist, man would have to invent him.
        • Apr 3 2012: Voltaire also said:

          “The universe confounds me! I cannot imagine that such a ‘clock’ can exist without there being a Clockmaker.”—Voltaire
      • Apr 3 2012: Roy, you state you don't like any of the options......what other options are there?
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          Apr 3 2012: Mary,

          I was referring to the options I cited in my comment.

          The other options are
          1. believe in an afterlife and make God proud of what we have achieved in his name, being true to Jesus' teaching on love and forgiveness and not judging others. (This is what I believe).
          2. Don't believe in an afterlife, but leave the planet better off than how we found it, learning all that we can while being fair to all and not just to ourselves.

          I don't like Holy wars, and I don't like exploiting the planet while letting future generations to fend for themselves. If we are going to gain God's favor, then I think God would want us to take care of the kingdom that we have been entrusted to, and that includes "We are our brother's keeper".
      • Apr 4 2012: I have always taken God's kingdom to be a government. A heavenly government. The king of this kingdom being Jesus. And asking for the kingdom to come would imply waiting for the time that earth would be ruled directly by God through the kingdom....

        You think the kingdom is our earthly home right now, and that we as imperfect humans can make the earth a better place and solve all the problems ourselves Roy?

        This is very very interesting........how do you think it will be accomplished without a government to rule the people?
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          Apr 4 2012: Jesus said that God is God of the living and not of the dead. Jesus also said the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. He was describing the world he was living in. Jesus also said he would go to the father and send back the Holy Spirit who will teach you all things. Those who have felt the indwelling of the Holy Spirit understand what he was trying to say. Jeremiah said that God would write his law in our heart (Jeremiah 31:33). This is the kingdom that God wanted with Israel before they demanded a king in Samuel 8:1-18. So all that has come to pass are the warnings of God become manifest that we would know what turning from God does to us. And now we are seeing a time when people are turning their hearts back to God. God must dwell within as Jesus said "behold the Kingdom of God is within you". This doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be a governing body, but that we need to know God from within to know what God would require of us.
      • Apr 5 2012: The clergy commonly teach this idea of the kingdom of God being inside us. The Catholic Encyclopedia asserts: “The kingdom of God means . . . the ruling of God in our hearts.”

        Some think that Jesus himself first promoted the idea that God’s Kingdom lies within the hearts of humans. Jesus did say: “Look! The kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:21) Some translations here say: “The kingdom of God is within you” or even “inside you.”

        Do you think those are accurate renderings of Jesus’ expression?

        Did he really mean that God’s Kingdom is found in human hearts?

        Roy, you first have to consider what the human heart is. When referred to in the Bible, the figurative heart means the inner person, the source of a person’s thoughts, attitudes, and feelings.

        The idea that something as sublime as the Kingdom of God resides within the human heart—in the way it changes and ennobles people, for example—may sound appealing, but does it stand to reason?

        The Bible tells us: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate.” (Jeremiah 17:9)

        Jesus himself said: “From inside, out of the heart of men, injurious reasonings issue forth: fornications, thieveries, murders, adulteries, covetings, acts of wickedness.” (Mark 7:20-22)

        Consider this: Cannot much of the misery that we see in the world today be traced back to the sinful hearts of humans? So how could God’s perfect Kingdom come from such a source? Really, the human heart could no more produce God’s Kingdom than a thistle could produce figs.—Matthew 7:16.

        Also, consider the audience Jesus was addressing when he spoke the words found at Luke 17:21. Verse 20 says: “On being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them.” The Pharisees were Jesus’ enemies. Jesus stated that those hypocrites were not going to enter God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 23:13)
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          Apr 5 2012: Mary,

          The only truth is inside any being. We can call it the heart and it connects all being.
          If you've found that heart you may trust it and live without fear. If you are disconnected then fear will rule by what is said to be, "wickedness" which is the shortest way to recover that lost love.

          Scriptures can teach as much as they can confuse someone. You don't need them.
      • Apr 5 2012: Now if the Pharisees were not to enter God’s Kingdom, could the Kingdom be in their hearts? Impossible! What, then, did Jesus mean?

        In rendering these words of Jesus, a number of careful Bible translations say that the Kingdom is “among you” or “in the midst of you.”

        How was God’s Kingdom among those people at that time, including the Pharisees?

        Well, Jesus was the one whom Jehovah God appointed to be the King of the Kingdom.

        As the King-Designate, Jesus was right in the midst of those people. He taught about the Kingdom of God and even performed miracles, giving them a preview of what that Kingdom would accomplish.

        In a very real sense, then, the Kingdom was in their midst.

        I personally am of the opinion that there is no Scriptural support for the notion that the Kingdom of God is in the hearts of humans. Rather, it is an actual government, one that will effect dramatic changes on the earth, just as the prophets foretold.—Isaiah 9:6, 7; Daniel 2:44.

        What do you think of this? I'm open to your thoughts.
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          Apr 5 2012: Mary,
          You are describing the carnal nature as opposed to the spiritual nature. Christ is the seventh energy chakra of Eastern philosophy. It represents a spiritual ascension once we learn to control our carnal nature. This is what being born again means. Have you not read that the disciples were able to do the very miracles that Jesus performed?

          I Corinthians 3:16, 17; Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

          The need to become spiritual is all through the new testament. Paul says to the disciples at Ephesus; Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost (Acts 19:1-6).

          The carnal nature cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. Only the spiritual nature can. How could Jesus have chosen disciples among the children of men and empower them to do the things that he did if we are not capable of it ourselves? But people resist the Holy Spirit because of peer pressure and the cares of the world. Only those who open their hearts up to God will be able to receive him. So yes, the heart of men is evil, but we are capable of overcoming that evil through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
      • Apr 5 2012: Franz, Adriaan, Roy.

        Thank you for your varied thoughts on my reply to Roy.

        What can I say.....I can go eenie, meenie, mienee, mo........

        OR, I can continue to have faith in God's inspired word, and await the unfolding of his purpose for the Earth and mankind.

        Certainly the first century christians spent themselves preaching the good news of God's kingdom. Many lost their lives because of it.

        Today it is no different. Many christians worldwide continue to be persecuted for bearing witness to God's name and preaching the good news of the kingdom. Want to read about it?

        www.jw-media.org

        Yes Franz, we can be happy and live a fulfilled life, without scripture. I know I don't need scripture, I have lived such a lifestyle before. I have since then, chosen to live my life in harmony with scripture. I am part of a worldwide brotherhood that attempts to do what Jesus said would be done in the last days of this system....."preach the good news of God's kingdom to all the inhabited earth, as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come"........sometimes, like I have said before on TED, my words do not come out like I want them to. You cannot hear my voice, see my facial expressions, etc.....but I make an effort.

        The results are not what matter though, it is the fact that I have given this witness to those that took the time to read my posts.

        I shall wait and see......like the rest of you, what the future brings.....maybe all of us are right?.........in the meantime, I know, that all of you are sincere in your words. Your genuineness is very important. Do not think that I do not appreciate your words. I truly do.

        I kindly thank you for the effort it took to write your responses Adriaan and Roy.

        Adriaan, I continue to read the links you have given me. Thank you.

        Roy, I just don't know what to make of your belief system. Is there a website I can visit?

        Thanks again. Be Well.
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          Apr 5 2012: Mary,
          we are all working out our own salvation, some are further along the path than others. Aside from my own spiritual awareness, I know that I am far from knowing the whole truth. There may be a great epiphany that will take the world by surprise uniting all Christians in what many churches teach as a second coming of Christ. I believe that is what you are eluding to, that the second coming of Christ hasn't come for the world at large.

          I am a non-denominational Christian in that I believe in what Jesus taught, but have found few Christian churches that could expound on what the spirit of God has already revealed to Me. Many teach doctrine that I would personally disagree with. Presently, I attend the Calvary Chapel because they teach the history of the bible, which gives insight into why it was written the way it was. I find this to be most helpful in my present understanding.

          I wrote a book about what I believe called "The Merging of Two Worlds". It contains many of my personal experiences as well as research material to verify what the spirit of God has shown me. It is outlined in my website www.scienceandreligionconverging.com. The National (or great) cycle of the Mayan calendar and the Judeo-Christian tradition have much in common. The stages of the National cycle and the development of the Judeo-Christian tradition fit together like a glove. I believe and hope that the final second coming is just around the corner.
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          Apr 5 2012: I don't know Roy

          The Prime intellect operates on his own time though i would like to think the seals have been broken they might not be.By trying to merge the two worlds would you might be hastening the move to a one world church?Babylon?

          I use to believe in an afterlife but i always thought "Then what's the point of all of this existence" I would like to think god isn't subject to our organic tendency to make mistakes and then change his plans for us, then that would make him fallible.
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      Mar 30 2012: I thought the bible was to be understood on a spiritual level. The social sciences are too deep for me.
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          Apr 1 2012: Again, you are stating a belief that you really, really want to be right. Perhaps, in your mind, mind is interchangeable with 'breath,soul and/or spirit. However, that is not true for me. Put another way, what is the nature of the word?
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    Mar 28 2012: Absolutely it has but it depends on the religion your talking about and the context that your placing it.

    A belief in the after-life can appease our existential anxieties and bring great solace

    or at the same time it explains why a someone could go into a crowed of people, blow them up, blow themselves up and consider it a great thing to do because they'll be rewarded

    but what disturbs me the most is not this: What disturbs me is that it tells one to take the value off this life and not consider it important,. this is disturbing because the only life we are certain about is this life.

    I fail to see how anyone can talk about an after-life when we know nothing about it...we do not know what it looks like, who's there or even how to get there....

    its really disturbing.
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      Mar 28 2012: Orlando,
      You make a lot of valid points. I believe in an afterlife, and it has not in any way detracted from my value of this life. I don't dwell on the afterlife unless I am thinking about doing something wrong, then it makes me think twice about whether or not I want to do this. I've since gone beyond that point, but I feel it has made me a better person.

      There are many religious beliefs that contribute to religious carnage. Most of it is based on lies. If people knew the truth, things would be different. I feel that that is the path we need to be on. Find the truth and a lot of terrible things would stop being terrible. We are moving in that direction, and I believe that we will continue to do so.

      It's human nature to question the unknown. I don't find it disturbing at all. I just don't think that we should dwell on it or make it the reason we do things. Jesus said that God is God of the living and not of the dead. He said many things that pertained to the present. But if his death was in vain, then so is everyone else's. I see too much to not let that bother me.
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        Mar 29 2012: Hi Roy,

        I think there are thing a couple of things that we need to dwell on:

        We'll if your concern about an afterlife has made you a better person, then I am in no way shape or form going to or will attempt to take that away from you. There are people who are willing to kill themselves for a belief in an afterlife so its nice to hear that not only do you not seem to be judgmental towards those who do not find value in the after-life but you use it for good as well.

        Now you mentioned that if people knew the truth, then they would not spread lies about their religion.. This is what bugs me about your post because you give off the impression that you know the truth but the truth of the matter is, no one knows the truth about an afterlife. The honest response to this is "I do not know what happens after death"....in this regard its all a matter of faith.

        I do not think anyone has the key to how to get to the afterlife but I do believe that an belief in the afterlife has made this life, for many people, something of non-value because they are worried about being well situated some other place that they have no idea of.

        Your right, its human nature to be inquisitive of the unknown. I can admit that but I do not think its human nature to be certain about things that we are not certain about.
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          Mar 29 2012: Orlando,
          I guess I was not specific in what I was trying to convey. If people knew the truth about their religion, they would know that hell as it is taught today is not the truth. They would know that violating a commandment written in stone (thou shalt not kill) to promote what they believe, is selling their soul to the devil. And if there is an afterlife, that God could not reward someone for doing such a thing. They would know that heaven begins here and that we must be about our father's business (thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven).

          I believe in an afterlife, only because I have had experiences that tell me that we are more than just a body. I know that I have no knowledge what that means beyond belief. But I also believe that God will reward those by how they have added benefit to "his" creation. I use the word "his" out of context because I know that many people regard God as a male deity. I don't believe that God is a person, I believe that God is the life force of the cosmos.
  • Mar 28 2012: You are right, this is a multi-faceted question:
    I did not see a category that I fit in.

    My afterlife is not what I care about as a Christian.

    My main concern as a Christian, is to make God's heart rejoice so that he can make a reply to his enemy.

    Afterall, this is what the scriptures are all about.....does God have the right to rule mankind. Then, what side are you on?

    What is at stake is God's sovereignty, his right to rule humankind. As our Creator, he has a right to set principles in place for our well-being. He teaches us to benefit ourselves.

    So with this in mind, our life, as Christians, is to live in such a way to bring honor and glory to our Creator. If there is life afterwards, well then we will discover it after death.

    But while we are living, we can do much good if we focus on the here and now. Each act of godly devotion will help us put an additional brick in our house of integrity.........LOVE is the motivation. Love of God and humans. Therefore we will never do anything that can bring harm to another.

    This is my truth, and the truth by which people of my faith live. We are in the category C-1

    Religion is a snare and a racket.......they have done much harm, and continue to blind millions as well as distance truth seekers from drawing close to God. Many kind hearted and sincere atheist are seekers of truth, who can blame them for rejecting religion? I certainly don't.
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      Mar 28 2012: I realize that the categories are limited. What you describe seems to be a blend between A-1 and B-1. Do you not strive to be the best that you can be? And do you not live by the golden rule? Not because of what you believe will be your fate in an afterlife, but because it is the right thing to do? I agree, whatever happens beyond this life isn't what really matters. But for many people, its the only hope they have. Life is cruel when you are at the bottom of the totem pole, and everyone above you is stepping on you to keep you there.

      What would your advice be to CEO's who take jobs oversees where they can pay slave wages. And all the while they live lavish lives, the people who helped them make their fortune have to live on porridge and hotdogs because that is all they can afford?

      I knew a person who was invited to a fundamental Christian church. The family that invited him felt joy in this church. Their friend was like you and not at all amused. They asked him why he wasn't happy. He said why should he be? They said because you're going to heaven. He said according to my bible, I don't get to make that decision. All their faces dropped and they looked at the minister who had no answer. Consequently that family fell apart, they got a divorce and lived unhappily ever after.

      Again, I say it's not black and white. I wrote a book that highlights much of what you have said. It also traces many beliefs back to their roots so people can make an informed decision. Integrate the truth into religion rather than pull the rug out from under them is the way I see it should be.
      • Mar 28 2012: Roy, you are an observer of humankind. Your insight is very impressive. I have great respect for your many thoughts.

        Yes I strive to be the best I can be, but because I am trying to bring honor to my Creator. I try not to do it for my own personal reason. I think Jesus himself said it best when he told his disciples that they were "good for nothing" they did what they were supposed to do.

        Once you realize that life, at the present moment, is not about us, it is about God and how he has been lied about for thousands of years, then you are able to live with the right focus. As a student of the Bible I understand the related issues of Jehovah's sovereignty and human integrity.

        I have no advice to CEO's.....how can I control others.

        And on what basis did the man who visited the church state that he didn't get to make the decision of whether or not he got saved? Could you expound please.

        Thank you Roy.
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          Mar 28 2012: Mary, good answers. Once we give our lives to Jesus, Jesus does his magic in transforming us. We become more like him because we see the virtue that we cannot see in ourselves. He shows us the wonders of the creator and we cannot look away. We want to know more.

          There are many lies about God. The bible tells us how destructive lies can be, and that the truth can set you free. We must all be diligent, even in a church.

          The man who visited the church was raised a Catholic. That should tell you something. In his eyes, we don't tell God how to run his kingdom, he tells us. He saw this group as a bunch of wishy-washy Christians and he voiced his opinion without considering the harm he may be causing. My point in the story is that we have to think about what we say to others about their faith. If you don't agree with how they are living their faith, try putting yourself in their shoes. Maybe that's the best they can do for the time being.
      • Mar 29 2012: Ok, maybe I'm in over my head, but can't make the connection between Catholisism and what the man said....I was never a Catholic, sorry.

        I picture this guy judging others as wishy washy, and see the family as people in a church with no faith, just credulity.

        So you are telling me that this one man went in there and destroyed a family's beliefs....and now he's sorry for what he did because he didn't put himself in their shoes??

        The only time I have seen faith of any kind destroyed, it was destroyed due to the exposing of truth.

        I do agree that tact is needed when speaking to others. It is important to ask questions to get to why the person believes what they believe.

        This is how I feel, I try to give a witness of my faith. However, I am no judge of humans. Only God knows our hearts. He is the statute giver, and he is the judge.

        Now, having said that, what I put faith in is what I consider to be truth for me today, because if I didn't consider it truth, I would not defend it, or speak of it with conviction.

        I respect people who stand up for what they believe....it is a wonderful human quality....and I applaud it.

        I guess that is why I enjoy TED conversations, I get to see how others feel, and it helps me understand others. I think that is the greatest benefit to this site.

        We "communicate", even though we are living in a world where communication is getting harder and harder each day.

        Feel free to let me know if I did not make sense with something I wrote...I have had a long tedious day....and my brain is a little tired...

        Mary
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          Mar 29 2012: Mary, the Catholic's teach salvation through works much like the pharisees did. You have to do all the things that the church teaches in order to go to heaven. The so-called wishy-washy church was held in a hall. They sang songs and praised God and taught salvation by accepting Jesus in your heart. This man felt he was in romper room and had to voice his opinion. The people believed in Jesus, but that wasn't enough according to the man. He's not sorry, because he doesn't even know what he did. I was saying that we need to put ourselves in other people's shoes before we make opinions about them.

          The reason their faith was destroyed is that the minister wasn't knowledgeable enough to defend the faith. The family respected the man because he was intelligent, so they lost faith in their minister because he didn't know how to respond. Had the man not been there, they would have grown in their faith with time. But like Jesus said, the seed had no root, so it withered.
      • Mar 29 2012: Roy, what a wonderful story to illustrate the fallacy of Christendom's churches.

        On the one hand, the Catholics, with traditions of men....just like the Pharisees. Jesus aptly warned those religious leaders: "You make the word invalid because of your traditions".
        Works do not get you into heaven.....Salvation is not a checklist of things to do and bam you're saved. That is probably why scripture uses the term "undeserved kindness" after emnisty was established between humans and the Creator and God arranged for a reconciliation with him through the ransom sacrifice. Our worship of God should be motivated by pure love. And the faith we place in the ransom, should move us to be loving towards all. I did not realize Catholics were indoctrinated in such a way.....thanks for explaining.

        Now, on the other hand....born again christians: once saved, always saved. Well, here we have the other end of the spectrum, don't you think? I know many individuals who are born-again christians. Many are sincere, but like you mention, they lack knowledge to be able to defend their new found faith. I think that is why I appreciate texts such as John 17:3 which states "This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ"....and of course the many texts by Paul to meditate on and study God's word. Christians are a work in progress, but before baptism, one must truly know what one is getting oneself into. A study of the Bible is important prior to taking that serious step. We need our power of reason and not just emotions, otherwise, the house is built on sand. The kingdom message will not take root.

        Wonderful story, many lessons to glean from it.

        Roy, let me ask you this. What are your views about the celebration of Easter done the way it is done today? I have spoken to Hindu individuals who are perplexed at how christendom celebrates this most solemn of occasions. Any thoughts?
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          Mar 29 2012: Mary,
          You have aptly put both sides of the spectrum. Paul spoke of babes in Christ who have not yet taken of the meat, which means you have to grow in Christ, not just accept it for face value. I know many Christians who can't get out of their own way and are content to hope for a better time when all is said and done. Those are the ones that the atheist sees as offering no benefit to taking care of problems that exist now. It reminds me of Jesus' parable of the talents; to one was given five, to another two, to a third, one. The one with five gained another five, the one with two gained another two, the one with one buried it and returned it to the master. The master cast that servant into outer darkness as unprofitable (Matthew 25:14-30).

          People put faith in the way of the cross for the same reason that we put dead men's (fallen soldiers) names on stones and plant them in the town greens. It's a reminder of the sacrifice that was made to set men free. The church doesn't want us to lose sight of what Jesus did to atone for our sins. For some, that is the only way the message doesn't fade.
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          Mar 29 2012: bunnies and eggs and parades have nothing to do with the real memorial of the death of Christ. Another reason to question religion's many traditions which brings reproach on god's name. tsk tsk tsk
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          Mar 30 2012: Mary, I may not have answered your question in my last post as you meant it to be. As far as bunnies and easter eggs (if that's what you meant), these are part of pagan fertility rituals that predated the death and resurrection of Jesus in the gospels.

          I can only guess, but the church may have kept them in order to try to win over the pagans, or they may have kept them to provide children with a less alarming view of Easter than the way of the cross, which might have been a little too much for children to deal with. Or it might have been both. Maybe someone else knows the reason.
      • Mar 30 2012: Roy, you said:

        "People put faith in the way of the cross for the same reason that we put dead men's (fallen soldiers) names on stones and plant them in the town greens. It's a reminder of the sacrifice that was made to set men free. The church doesn't want us to lose sight of what Jesus did to atone for our sins. For some, that is the only way the message doesn't fade"

        I agree, Jesus' sacrifice should never be forgotten. He himself gave a command to continue doing this in remembrance of him. Christians should remember his death.

        My question to you is HOW Easter is celebrated.

        Why isn't it done the way Jesus himself instructed?

        I mean, the scriptures even give us the exact date of his death.

        Most people ignore this one fact.

        Jesus died on the date in the Jewish calendar "Nisan 14".....this year it corresponds to April 5th.
        It falls on a different Roman date each year. Nevertheless, churches always have him dying on a Friday and resurrecting on a Sunday.

        Scriptures do not give us a date for his birth...and yet the churches assigned December 25...

        When the scriptures do provide a date, the churches ignore it and do not follow the instructions of our Lord. When the scriptures do not provide a date, they assign one.

        I have always been perplexed by this act.
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          Mar 30 2012: Much of what we celebrate in the Christian church was taken over from pagan holidays. Christmas is celebrated near the winter solstice (Dec 21) because it was a time where need was most felt; the poor going into winter where food and resources would be at their least. The corruption in commercialism has detracted from what Christmas was all about; giving to those who have little to begin with and trying to bring the good news of Jesus along with it.

          As for Easter, I assume the weekend was chosen because people wouldn't be tied down by their work to celebrate the occasion. It's just a guess.
      • Mar 30 2012: Roy, let me understand you. The following questions are linked to your talk in more ways than one.

        Do you believe that the death of Jesus Christ makes an atonement for our sins once and for all times?
        Also, do you believe that Jesus Christ's death provided a ransom in order to erase the damage done by Adam?
        Furthermore, since you and Adriaan speak so much of symbols, do you celebrate Easter and Christmas as tradition, or do you feel that these are pagan holidays and have no place in pure worship?

        I am trying to understand your personal view.....most people see nothing wrong with these celebrations because it is the thought that counts.

        There is also the school of apologetics, in which pretty much anything goes.

        My main concern, I guess, is that many people today justify their watering down of God's words with pholosophies of men.....it goes back to the issue of God's sovereignty. Does God have the right to tell us how to worship him as our Creator? And if he has that right, what does the Bible teach is the correct way?

        Your answers will be greatly appreciated, as I am very open to talking about everyone's beliefs. I will then share some information I have regarding the same.

        Thankyou Roy.
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          Mar 30 2012: Mary,
          For the first two questions, the answer is yes. For the third question, I celebrate Christmas and Easter for what it tells us of Jesus' life.

          Jesus said every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire. He gave the parable of the good seed. Some fell on stony ground and withered. Some fell among the thorns and was choked. Some fell on fertile soil and brought forth fruit. I see too many Christian groups that believe that Jesus' death on the cross is all encompassing and it doesn't matter what they do otherwise, as long as they believe. Paul spoke of babes in Christ but they haven't taken of the meat. I see Christianity as a growing process and many Christians don't care what happens in this life because they are going to leave it all behind anyway. That is what the atheists are all hot and bothered about. What are you doing to make the world a better place, and many are willing to do nothing because Jesus says come rest in me. I don't believe he meant lazy.
      • Mar 31 2012: Ok Roy, thank you.

        Now let me ask you this, you said, and you are correct, that:

        "Much of what we celebrate in the Christian church was taken over from pagan holidays. Christmas is celebrated near the winter solstice (Dec 21) because it was a time where need was most felt; the poor going into winter where food and resources would be at their least. The corruption in commercialism has detracted from what Christmas was all about;"

        And knowing this doesn't bother you? You still celebrate this festival. What fellowship do light and darkness have? Do you think God approves of such festivities?

        Easter is just as contaminated. Like I said before, Jesus instructed his disciples humbly in an upper chamber to partake of wine and unlevened bread to symbolize his body and blood. This command is something that true christians should adhere to on the night that commerates the anniversary of his death. This year it falls on April 5th.

        Seeing religions and so called spiritual individuals partake of all these holidays which are not scriptural in nature really leaves me wondering.

        I can't blame people for turning away from religions, they do not present the scriptural truth to their perishioners, instead, they water down scriptural truths to have more members, and to keep people happy.

        As long as we try to please humans, we will be at a loss for pleasing God. His word is truth. When I try to share my faith, I like to quote scripture. It is God's word, not mine. Alot more could be said, but I'll leave it here.

        Thank you for reading my comment.
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          Mar 31 2012: I haven't been in any Christian church that wasn't bothered by the commercialization of Christmas and Easter. They all speak of Christmas as celebrating the birth of Christ, and they all speak of Easter as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So I don't understand the basis of your comment as relates to religion.

          I have heard many a minister or priest criticize his parish for putting too much emphasis on Christmas as getting and giving gifts and forgetting the real reason for the season. I have heard the same ones criticize their parish for even thinking of Easter eggs and bunnies and not rejoicing for the sacrifice that Jesus made.

          It is big business that commercializes Christmas and Easter with total disregard to religion. When you see advertisements on these holidays, they have nothing to do with religion. They're even taking the word Christ out of Christmas because it's all about money. That part does bother me.
      • Mar 31 2012: "I haven't been in any Christian church that wasn't bothered by the commercialization of Christmas and Easter..........and yet they continue to be a party to it all.

        I guess that is why I left the religion I was raised in and started to ask questions and to study the Bible.

        I have learned quite alot. I am still growing in knowledge, and in understanding. I am a work in progress. Aren't we all?

        The christian congregation which I visit does not celebrate holidays that are tainted with pagan rituals. I find this satisfies my need for worship.....I have no desire to follow humanity in celebrations which do not honor God. I love to give gifts from my heart any time of year, and also love family reunions and getting together with friends at the drop of a hat......I do not miss any of it.

        As for Easter, I adhere to the way Jesus instructed on the night of his death, to continue taking the bread and drinking the wine in symbol of his body and shed blood. Doing it in memory of him. On Nisan 14 (April 5th this year) I will be attending a special one hour worship service where we will remember the ultimate gift anyone has given mankind......to me it is a solemn occassion. Perhaps you found an invitation to attend on your doorstep?

        Thank you for answering my questions Roy. I really appreciate it very much. And thank you for the quality of this discussion once again. Not all discussions on TED that deal with religion and faith are upbuilding......not all of them have built bridges. Some comment in a way that is condescending and reflect the spirit of controversy. I am glad you have chosen to take the high road.

        All my best, and thank you for this great topic. Even though we chased a rabbit huh? (Figuratively)

        Mary
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          Apr 1 2012: Mary,
          I have learned so much about how other people think. I was quite surprised at some of the answers.

          We are all a work in progress once we start asking questions and not accepting answers that fail to lead to understanding. When someone tells me "that is something that we will know when we die", or "some things we were not meant to know", I interpret that as "I don't know" and I go looking for someone else that might be able to lead me to an answer that I can understand. I think more people are beginning to think this way.

          I have not, nor ever have found such an invitation. You are the first that has introduced it to me.
      • Apr 1 2012: Someone actually thought of posting a one-minute video of the invitation on youtube.

        Here is the link Roy.....

        http://youtu.be/18EDv_KuEvY


        Mary
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    Mar 27 2012: Just a though on the categories...I think many A-3's have a B-3 leader who is just using A-3ism as way to control his peoples. And B-1s just look at that and say...Wow look at what those people are doing in the name of God...When really they aren't.
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      Mar 27 2012: I wouldn't doubt that many political leaders use religious beliefs to promote their political agendas. You make a very good point and one worth considering in how we learn to deal with the issue. Do you believe that life goes on and how does that affect your life?
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        Mar 27 2012: To make a VERY long story short I believe what God put in us returns to him.

        When I was younger it effected my life was greatly effected by this... and I don't mean that in a bad way. It helped me fight against self destructive behaviors. It helped me to take solace at times when I thought the world was against me.

        lAt this point in my life I still know and believe these things but it seems many times this isn't the first thought that pops into my head when confronted with problems or even when I am happy. Not that it doesn't effect me at all...I still use this knowledge to help me look at the big picture when I start being too self centered...or thinking my problems and accomplishments are the end all to beat all. I feel there is a bigger purpose to us and that life is a test. It helps me realize that everyone is connected and I can't truly hate my enemies...but try and understand them...and change what I can. I still do wrong...but I know its wrong and can strive for better.

        When I get older...I suspect and hope that It will become more of a daily part of my life.

        I know this isn't the right way to look at things according to most religions including my own, but I am being honest.
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          Mar 27 2012: James, I believe that you have a healthy perspective on religion. Modern religion is not what it used to be. Old time religion was about the spiritual quest, not adherence to doctrine. Paul said "made us able ministers of the new testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit" (2Cor 3:6). You have to go beyond the words and find God within. It appears that you are doing that.
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    Apr 2 2012: I don't think anyone is affected by the idea of an afterlife.
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      Apr 2 2012: I was when I was a Christian. I was terrified my parents were not born again Christians and were going to hell.
      I tried to convert them - to get them to accept Jesus as their lord and saviour etc.
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        Apr 3 2012: Obey,
        Are you saying you are no longer a Christian?
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        Apr 3 2012: But were you a child? I can see how a child or a really deluded person might be afraid of afterlife.
        Can a sane adult fear hell?

        Correct me if I'm wrong, I know nothing about this. I suspect suicide bombers are not doing it for the afterlife, but for the benefit of their community , in which case it's nothing unusual.
        I really don't think the bombers are thinking about screwing virgins as much as they are thinking about doing the right thing because the community wants them to. Otherwise, people would be blowing themselves up by the million.
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          Apr 3 2012: It was during my teens.

          Most Christian denominations have hell dogma.
          There were plenty of adults who believed in hell and were concerned for the children, spouse, relatives friends.

          I was at a family funeral recently and some relatives were concerned about the eternal welfare of the deceased.

          This highly probable delusion impacts many people, just like many aspects of religion and dogma. The Catholic church anti Semitic teaching and support has impacted the Jews. Jesus din't mention homosexuality much, but many Christians are fervently anti homosexuality and some anti homosexuals.

          No idea what individual suicide bombers are thinking or motivated by. Probably a range of issues.

          Are you religious Gerald?

          There are people who vividly believe in heaven and hell.

          I suggest you might be seriously underestimating the influence religion has on culture, laws, values, behaviour, society and individuals - fears and hopes etc.
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      Apr 2 2012: Gerald,
      Holy wars are fought on the premise that some great reward awaits them. In this case, a belief in an afterlife can have untold negative effects. When I was young, the belief that some inevitable horror might await me had considerable effect on my life as my father was a perfectionist and therefore, I couldn't seem to do anything right. My father's belief in a purgatory led him to alcoholism until a priest told him that they no longer teach purgatory and believe that it was a false belief. These are the negative effects. I also see positive effects in which some do good in hopes that some reward awaits them, even when this life has left them with nothing to hope for.
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    Apr 1 2012: Hey Roy

    I"m not saying that there is no afterlife. I mean I've never experienced it and have yet to see the evidence but no one knows if there is or isn't and that's all I've been saying.

    But I'm disturb a bit because all we have to be certain of is our moment to moment experiences of the world. And I understand the concern about those who do bad deeds seems to get away with their actions. I understand how hard it must be to live in such a universe. I honestly have nothing to say about that because I do not know what happens. All I know is that bad things happen just as much as good things happen. It really is meaningless suffering that we are afraid of (at least it seems to be the case).

    Your second paragraph is something of a misconception. It comes off as if I say life is not meaningful if one does not embrace the notion of an afterlife. Most of my post have been about the value of this life; our current life, the present moment and how much one should enjoy it. All because I assert that its unlikely that an afterlife exist does not mean that I have taken a plunge into nihilism. If anything it should encourage us to seek other avenues of meaning and understanding instead of creating one that may be false and encouraging others to do the same.

    Please don't take my comments the wrong way and think I'm trying to encourage you or anyone else to change your beliefs because I understand that beliefs are all that can really matter and if it saves someones life or prevents them from doing dangerous things then I'm all for that. All in all, I'm trying to answer your question in how I see the world but this does not mean that my accounts are correct.
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      Apr 1 2012: Orlando,
      Your comments appear very open and honest to me. I too want to see a world that embraces life for all it has to offer, and if this conversation allows me to see the fallacies that keep us from reaching that point, then it will have served its purpose. In the short time that I have been on TED talks, I have seen things that I wasn't expecting. I used to regard people like you as someone who saw life as Dog-Eat-Dog and then you die. And I am learning that you care about life and want people to live in the present and not forsake this life for some reward in the future. I am coming to appreciate that viewpoint.

      I have also learned that although some don't believe in God, they believe in something greater than themselves and are willing to search that out. I am even finding Christians who have strong negative feelings about organized religion because of what they teach. I too had such feelings, but felt that there is much good despite the bad.

      As to my second paragraph, I wasn't pertaining it to you, that is how I would feel if I came to believe that life didn't go on. I actually came to that point once in my life and it was a dreadful feeling. I admit that I have no understanding of an afterlife, and would also admit that my views of it probably differ considerably from what most religious people think. But I feel connected to something greater than myself and do not see death as the end.

      I think we both want a better world. We both know that some views are hostile to making that happen. I hope that in sharing our thoughts, we will see more and get others to think about what will move us in that direction.
      • Apr 1 2012: "But I feel connected to something greater than myself and do not see death as the end."

        Roy, look what scripture says about your feelings:

        "I have seen the occupation that God has given to the sons of mankind in which to be occupied. Everything he has made pretty in its time. Even time indefinite he has put in their heart......I have come to know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during one's life, and also that every man should eat and drink and see good for all his hard work, It if the gift of God" Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes 3:10-13

        Your comment made me think of this text.
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    Apr 1 2012: "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics." Richard Feynman
    The moniker "god particle" tied to the higgs boson was created by news media, and is frowned upon by scientist involved in the research. Not so amazing.
    "The assumptions and labels we project on others( that I need help understanding anything) is a reflection of one's own shortcomings, hidden by ego." Eckhart Tolle
    • Apr 2 2012: brian !
      Is it what i think it is ? Your response ?
      OK, presumably it is.
      "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics."
      - I don't understand quantum mechanics.
      Does it mean that i do ?
      Sorry, just kidding, can't resist. It's a classical example of a liar paradox. I love Richard Feynman ! I think he put it this way deliberately to remind about the limitation of logic reasoning or just for fun !
      So, I don't understand quantum mechanics, but its idea that there is no world as ' sitting out there' and subject and object are deeply interlinked fit perfectly and complete the picture of the world as I currently perceive it.

      I know about the role of news media in elevating higgs boson into the status of god particle. But it stays there, not descending into the zoo for reason.It's how Symbol works, God is a Symbol. I don't think it does any harm to the scientific research, though I am not to judge, maybe it does. Is 'ghost' particle any better ? :)

      And as for the last, I can't agree more, ego invents reality, projecting its own image onto others. It's always the case. Does it mean that I need help in understanding of...whatever.? Sure I do ! Otherwise why would I be here? I don't have certainty in anything. ( nor do I seek it though) But how pray tell you are comfortable with " facts are facts" in the context of 'Presence' ? If not that phrasing , the idea of helping you would have never crossed my mind. OK, I leave this conundrum to your own consideration.
      Anyway, thanks for the response !
    • Apr 3 2012: No, Brian it wasn't the media; the term "God particle," originated in the title of a 1994 book by Nobel-winning physicist Leon Lederman.

      Lederman originally wanted to name the tome "The Goddamn Particle" because of how difficult it was to detect, but was persuaded by his publisher, Delta, to shorten it.
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    Apr 1 2012: Your knowledge is limited to words origins. A dictionary unfortunately, isn't the source of absolute universal Truth.
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    Mar 31 2012: 9-11 is an example of A-3.

    You have failed to mention humanity as a whole and the desire to live right to allow others that will come to live.
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      Mar 31 2012: Lynn,
      That wasn't in my initial write-up, but I did mention it later on. The reason for the question is that I see just as many reasons for believing in an afterlife as not believing. And I see just as much good as I see evil on both sides of the fence. What I am hoping is that we can move in a direction that allows life to be cherished regardless of which side of the fence you are on. If there are problems, let's figure out what they are and work to resolve them.

      Those who believe in an afterlife have had spiritual experiences that lead them to believe that the body is just a vessel that we cast off. Those who don't believe in an afterlife see this life as all encompassing and want to live it to the fullest. I believe in an afterlife, but it does not detract from my living in the present. I believe that any afterlife will be determined by what we leave behind to inherit, so I want the world to be the best it can be in case I should have to return.

      I accept that those who believe in a heaven or hell somewhere else often don't care what happens to the world once they leave it behind. I believe that is one of the problems we need to work on.
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    Mar 30 2012: "..believe. ...don't believe." Us/them, Is that not how wars start? I detest rules, though I like to think if we must have one, the Golden Rule would be the one. I try to live that way regardless of selfish consequences. It makes me happier, now.
    I was brought up in the Catholic church until I was old enough to make the choice for myself, between 8-10yo. My mother left the church when they asked for alms after she divorced and was left with four children. She still held onto the beliefs she grew up with, struggled with them for the next 35 years, until death from cancer allowed her escape. My father who also died from cancer, and did not hold any beliefs, died with a smile in the loving arms of his wife. I don't have a category for either of them.
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      Mar 30 2012: Society would fall apart without rules. A world without rules leads to a soap opera life. Which ones we keep should be fair to all. That is often not the case. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God, although he had a knowledge of God that is very much different than what the modern church teaches. The second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. So you are right that the golden rule should be the one to keep.

      Us/them is herd mentality and it is a major cause of war when the pressures of survival become too great. Another cause of war is the quest for "top male" dominance. Someone wants to be in control. God said that no earthly king should be in control, let the spirit of God guide you and learn to work together.

      I too was raised a Catholic. I had an epiphany at the age of nine. It was brought on by two factors. The first was the sense of wonder I felt when entering an old style Catholic church, the second was the fear that the church instilled in me by their teaching of hell and purgatory. I wanted God to reveal "himself" to me so that I could have a direct communication with God. It was a Catholic nun that prompted me to do this because of all my questioning. What I came to see was a God that was much different than what the church teaches. I was alone in my backyard at the time of the experience.

      You didn't say what choice you made. Was it to leave the church for something else? Was it to find another that could teach you what you were searching for? Was it to find God within your self? Or was it to shed the notion of God altogether? Do you believe that you have found what you were searching for? Or have you stopped searching?
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        Mar 30 2012: Roy, We currently live in a world with gods and it is a very troubled world indeed. Imagine a world where everyone lived by treating all others with kind consideration and accepted death as the end.
        Imagine being troubled and in need of consoling, calling a friend, the friend answering the phone, the friend's boss giving them time off to be with you, the friend listening, and this continues for as long is necessary.
        In our world of gods and rules such a scenario is difficult to imagine. Try again. Imagine if humans spread the word, and the word was, Kindness, and all of us lived by the word without fear.
        I have not "searched", only tried to understand and still live peacefully.
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          Mar 30 2012: Janine,
          You see things much differently than most people. Try telling a boss to let his employee off for the afternoon when he has his yacht payment to make or a deadline to reach. He'll tell you where you can go. It has nothing to do with gods or belief, it has to do with what we can gain in the little time we have on this planet. People are always trying to outdo each other, often at the expense of being kind. One outweighs the other. How do you get people to be kind when material value is all that matters to them?

          One day I found myself in the spirit of the Lord. The spirit lifted me up and showed me all the wonders that science could bring to our planet. And then suddenly the spirit stopped me dead in my tracks and said, by this time, where will you be? I said, based on the time it would take to bring all of these things into fruition, I will be dead. Then the spirit said, if life doesn't go on, why does any of this matter? I said I don't know. The spirit said you need to figure that out. Then the spirit returned me to my place. This experience occurred at a time when I was ready to write off God and go completely with science.
          Within several weeks, I had another experience that would show me the answer. All the things that we cherish today were provided for by everything that has transpired before our time. And everything that will benefit those in the future will be determined by what we do today. If we are to share in that world, we need to be doing the things that will leave a world worthy to inherit. That is when I started to look at religion differently. What hasn't the church told us that we need to know about all the things that they claim to believe. I have done a lot of research since and put it in a book "The Merging of Two Worlds". When we can see ourselves as the people who will inherit the world we are preparing for them, that's when we'll stop messing it up.

          I hope the world you see can become more real for others.
        • Apr 1 2012: I will contribute this:

          There is a principle involved in your comment. The principle is, you reap what you sow. When we sow kindness....we might reap kindness.

          In the example of bosses and days off, a supervisor will show flexibility with a kind employee who gives his all during work hours, independent of whether or not either one of them is a believer.

          I feel very strongly that religion has really done alot of harm threatening people with death and torture in a hell that doesn't even exist.....and with all sorts of other unreasonable and unscriptural information.

          Life brings with it all kinds of beautiful choices. One of them is, having the possibility throughout it to live by godly principles and associate with individuals who worship the true God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

          But, still, it is our choice to make. There are kind, caring, loving individuals all over the world, who live religion free. The world is a better place because of them. I for one try never to take that one fact for granted. Your words were not lost on me.

          Thanks again Janine.
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        Mar 30 2012: "How do you get people to be kind...?" Imagine the boss doesn't have a yacht to pay for or maybe he offers to take everyone involved for a cruise. Just imagine.
    • Mar 30 2012: Janine, thank you for sharing your story. The Golden Rule is a very good rule of thumb. It's application in our life reveals we are selfless, loving, caring individuals.

      Your parents were "humans". It is sad to see that religion has caused so much suffering on the Earth today. Some of it on a world-wide scale, some personally. I also know of elderly couples who walked away from churches due to the priest targeting retired members for alms.

      We humans are a complex bunch. Even the best of intentions can be ill perceived.

      Thank you again Janine.
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    Mar 30 2012: It was written that faith can move mountains. Religions provide faith and hope. Some believe that paradise will be women and gardens, some believe it is milk and honey, it makes no difference which but that there is hope of a life hereafter. Wars have been fought in the name of religion for centuries. So yes it effects life as both believers and non-believers are part of an Army fighting side by side. I like to refer to King Constantine and his effort to reconsile all religions of his day. Would his efforts reflect on what you propose. Best. Bob
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      Mar 30 2012: Constantine chose to unite religions under the Christian faith because he wanted the dedication of the Christians for their faith for himself as emperor. Shortly thereafter, the Roman empire would fall apart because that is not what Christianity was all about. It is about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to receive God's guidance.

      War is often the product of the pressures of survival driving groups to fight it out to see who survives. Constantine was an empire builder, but that is not the kind of empire that Jesus would favor. Jesus would favor what Richard Dawkins is trying to accomplish. He is trying to raise people's level of awareness, but unlike religion, he is doing it from the left brain. If we could unite people like Richard Dawkins with people who are truly spirit led, we might have something.
      • Mar 30 2012: I am glad you clarified this point Roy, Constantine just wanted more power. It was not about spreading the good news of God's kingdom to all parts of the Earth, or reconciling all religions, it was about controlling the christians.

        He wasn't even a christian himself. It wasn't until he was on his death bed that they say he finally received the Lord.

        Now, the point you make about Dawkins is something interesting.
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          Mar 30 2012: Jesus himself said it is not they who say Lord, Lord, but they who do the will of the father in heaven. And the will of the father in heaven is that we should love one another. I have reviewed some of the work of Richard Dawkins and he is quite the humanitarian. His attack on religion is based largely on all the carnage that it has brought by those who think they are doing the will of the father. Would Jesus have sided with the witch hunters? Would Jesus have sided with the Protestants and Catholics killing each other in Ireland? Richard Dawkins understands science and he detests seeing religion beating it down. It was science that brought an end to the witch hunts. Which side do you think that Jesus would be on?

          His attack on religion is a sore spot and the sole account I have against him. He writes in his book, if we are going to keep the word God, then we must divest it of all the baggage that goes along with it. He doesn't understand Christianity, and yet he loves people. Go figure. Is expressing your faith more important than loving your neighbor? According to Jesus, there is only one unforgivable sin, and that is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The only way you can commit that sin is if you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. And I don't mean some ritual; if you haven't felt it, you don't know what it is. Despite this fact, many Christians condemn others based solely on how they interpret the word of God. How can you judge someone when the book that tells us of God says judge not?

          That is why I pointed out in my opening statement that we need to bring A-1 and B-1 together and strive to eliminate the rest. It isn't an easy task, but one we should strive for. If religious people didn't keep telling Richard Dawkins that he has it all wrong and damning his soul to hell, maybe he wouldn't be so much on the offensive.
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          Mar 30 2012: Have you read any of his work?

          I fully understand that he does not understand the spiritual side of scripture. Atheists only argue the literal word.

          He has much to offer on the scientific side of things. I would rather win him over than drive nails in his coffin.

          I return to my claim that science and religion need to be united.
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      • Mar 31 2012: Roy, you said:

        "the will of the father in heaven is that we should love one another."


        Let me say this: although God wants humans to love him, and love each other, God's expressed will for us today is found directly in scripture.....1 Timothy 2:3-4 says, this is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.

        The only way men can be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth is if they are taught. Because we are living in the time of the end, it is important that humankind be aware that God has set a time to accomplish his will. He is now using individuals to take the good news of his kingdom to people everywhere. Are we part of this work?

        I'll also say this, many individuals, regardless of their beliefs, are able to love. Love is not mutually exclusive of religious persons.....so therefore, love, in and of itself is a sign of a kind person, but not necessarily of a person "doing the will of God" in our days.

        Jesus set the pattern of behavior for us to follow closely....what did he do when on the earth? He spent the 3 1/2 years after his baptism teaching about the good news of god's kingdom, a heavenly government that will rid the earth of all wickedness and restore it to a paradise.

        This is what I have learned through Bible study. I am no follower of men. I look forward to a time when all humans will live in peace on earth without sickness, wars, or death. This was God's plan all along. He has never seen his plan come to fruition. Soon that will change. I hope to see it, so do the other millions of faithful christians who have dedicated their lives to this work.

        Mary
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          Mar 30 2012: Wars have everything to do with beliefs.

          Political
          Religious
          territorial
          ideological
          infidelity
          social
          honor

          the list goes on

          all of these constitute some sort of belief or another.
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          Mar 30 2012: Hi Adrian,

          Haha my source is not from wikipedia (sorry but for your interest here is the link):

          http://www.taipingrebellion.com/ or you could just read the book "101 Reasons for not Believing in God" which is where I first heard of the encounter. Secondly the figure I came up with was a rough estimate that I remembered from my previous studies of the event. Wikipedia states 20 million. The book states 65 million. The link I provided states "20,000,000 to 100,000,000" and my claim was 20,000,000 (maybe more).

          , the civil war in that country would not have occurred if that one guy did not have to try to make sense of the dream that he had which started the uprising.It was due to the belief that his dream had merit that caused the political and religious uprising. I am well aware of some of the events that took place but nonetheless the entire rebellion was caused by that one guys experience, which were explicitly religious.

          Your last statement I agree with completely. If you think I'm stating that religion is the only cause of conflict please don't because that is not what I'm stating. I'm just reminding everyone of what religion has been and until we can change the story and move on from the past we'll continue to have the same issues.
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        Mar 30 2012: Hi Bridget,

        I'll have to take a look at the figures that you mentioned but even if you were correct, I would have assert that many people have lost their lives or had their lives forever affected in another way due to religion so I really do not see how there could be a vindication for religion.

        For example, Host Desecration's have recorded hundreds of cases which have led to massacres of the Jews.

        The Taiping rebellion resulted in the murder of 20 million people (maybe more).

        I do not have to mention the Inquisition or crusades.

        You have the conflict between the pagans and the christians.

        So yes you may be correct that religious wars have occurred 7% of the time but I'm sure it has killed off more people than any other war.

        Also Steven Pinker in his new book "Better Angles of our Nature" of the 100 most violent wars, 13 have been religious.

        This is disturbing when religious people pride themselves on how peaceful their religion is because by all standards the number should be zero
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        Mar 30 2012: Hi Bridget,

        I do not think you understood what I stated and your claims only validate exactly what I've been asserting. If you look at the nature belief outside of the religious context you'll understand what I"m driving at. Also nothing I said repudiated your claims. All I mentioned was that all conflict entails a belief in something that ended up in disagreement with another or as Dogma. This is not an opinion. It is mere fact.

        All I said is that wars have everything to do with belief. Now what that belief is dependent upon many factors. Wars about land entails many beliefs including a belief about finding Gold. A belief that one particular land has wealth. A belief that one should expand their territory. A belief that a particular group does not need a particular piece of land. The list goes on.

        Secondly everything I stated can be looked up online or by reading a book or by talking to someone else. Nor do I have to time to research these things at the moment but nonetheless if your pressing for proof I'll be glad to provide it. and If I am wrong then I'm happy to accept that.

        I cannot speak for your experience but no intellectually honest person I have met or heard has ever claimed that Religion is the only cause of war and no non-believer has ever claimed that. It is common for people to think that a non-believer who points out the obvious that some religions are not a religion of peace all of a sudden qualifies their statements as "all wars are caused by religion".

        Your right, you never mentioned the word justification. That was my response to what you mentioned and my response alone. I'm glad you can be reasonable in your approach to religion but your approach to religion is not how religion is practiced in MOST places around the world and your claims is exactly what gives cover for many of the practices of religion.

        Also the meaning of the religion is to "be bounded to" or to "bind back to" (in simple terms).
        • Mar 31 2012: Orlando !
          You said :"Wars have everything to do with beliefs."
          I think, that wars have everything to do with FEAR.
          And fear is an intrinsic quality of ego, individual or collective. On the surface there might be different causes, but dig deeper and deeper... and there will be turtles all the way down until you bump into the threatened EGO . I think it's always the case.
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    Mar 30 2012: Roy and Adriaan,

    Roy: You must understand that many religions on the planet have books that are full of injunctions about how one should live and if they follow these injunctions, they will be rewarded in the next life. This is essentially what most people are taught and this is exactly what they envision and this is their first encounter with notions about the afterlife. This may not be your notion and It certainty does not seem to be but you cannot simply ignore the fact that certain books and groups offer perceptions of the afterlife and at times serves as a guide.

    Now you mentioned your experiences. Although I am skeptical about an afterlife and do not believe in God, I do believe in the validity of spiritual, transformative experiences. But none of these offer anything about an after-life about a realm of experience that is suppose to come to us once we are dead. I am with you that we are more than bodies but this says absolutely nothing about the afterlife, it just states that there is a side to us that is non-physical. Now I am open-minded about the existence of an after-life but I do not think its likely.

    Adriaan:

    I'll take a look at the link you provided for me and as I told Roy, having experience's where we feel more than just physical bodies does not offer anything about the afterlife. It just shows that we can be exposed to a different range of experience than the ones that we are accustomed to.

    But my question is, how can one have an experience, claim it to be an afterlife and then right a book about something that they really have no idea of? Once again, I am not denying spiritual experiences but how exactly can one assert something that is deemed to only exist once we are presumed dead?
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      Apr 1 2012: The only problem I have with this Orlando, is that if life does not go on, then all those who have suffered at the hands of a tyrant have suffered and died in vain. And all those who are suffering today have no hope.

      I know people today who if they didn't believe that life went on and that there was not going to be a judgment, would be lost. Their belief is the only thing that keeps them going.

      I don't believe that holy wars are all about fighting for God. I think many use that as an excuse to justify fighting in a world that has become too hostile in their corner of the world.
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        Apr 1 2012: Roy

        Sorry roy i reread it and thought "Yeah he's right" it has nothing to do with anything though it's a good statement to use in future debates but then it would be just a weapon nothing more.

        What should be said is only a man that is confident of his existence and his return would even comtemplate saying these things.The only time i've seen in the great book where souls are in heaven is when they were revealed to john? in revelation and they weren't running around with little wings,they were at rest and they were the sacrificed that died in his name.

        If there is a flipping large group of Christians out there that believe in a heaven for themselves and would lose their faith like that family did in one of your posts then sadly they are the wheat that fell on sand.Look i'm not criticizing what you saw as a child but those who believe he created the universe all know it's his hand you will find at the lowest levels of this great electro-simulation we call reality.The design is nothing but truely elegant,from simple to intricate yet nothing is a total replicant of itself,a boiling mass of simplicity to intricacy constantly recycling itself.

        Only the pure of heart will see his face but for rest of us we have this awesome place to explore.

        Remember Christ could see those that survived the flood and they are still here,they were once transdimensional but could not interact on this physical level unless they gave up their oketerion or houses or form or body and switch over to a human form.The sons of god.If one believes then would hair,skin,bone and brain be a barrier to these beings.

        Of course a modern person will laugh but it's there in the books.

        I deleted the first paragraph because it was wrong,it did not correspond with scripture,if any other of my post shows this please correct me.
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        Apr 7 2012: Hi Adriaan

        I tried reading that pdf about Swedenbourg but found it too confusing,i'll try when I'm open minded which comes in spurts.Can i ask you a Question?Like you said "this world is mere seconds compared to eternity which in a way i agree with you but i have a problem with existence after we die,Why create a universe of this size and supposedly bigger beyond our observable limits and just have us occupy just this tiny rock,a mere mote of dust then have us leave it? As far as i know heaven is another dimension separate from this universe,Why would The Prime Intellect waste his time creating it?

        We are created to near likeness of him and our older siblings but we are not them or come near them due to the limitations of our organic design for this physical universe.Why inspire a series of books then have it that only a few could properly understand it?That to me is a holdover from the Egyptian priesthood caste and the Catholic system.I wasn't raised in a classic European system of church but was brought up in a ethnic crossover religion of Christianity which didn't fit and when i looked around i found the old churches were just full of traditions that had nothing to do with the book.

        One doesn't write a book then disguise it to the point where it takes mystic visions sent to help read it,again this leads to making God a fallible being.The last one who can say that they had a proper vision was John on the isle of Patmos during his incarceration and he cursed any who tries to add to it.Do you know how many out there in the world have had visions of Gods plans?The book,His word warns of this happening,why write it if every vision comes from him?Why build this universe then change plans?

        In somethings I'm intractable and the Great Artist our God didn't create this place to be abstract and mystical our scientists are proving this with every leap they make of course they can't answer everything as we are limited to design.Why write the words Those who sleep in dust
      • Apr 8 2012: Adriaan, I think that Ken makes a good point that you haven't addressed as far as adding to scripture and deleting from scripture after John the last living apostle.

        And, let me just say, that Swedenborg's experiences with the supernatural is something that many people never really doubted. The real question is, what supernatural beings he had contact with.

        How could God inspire his holy scriptures, then turn around and have an imperfect man come behind and remove books from the canon, and add his own revelations.....it just doesn't have the ring of truth Adriaan.

        Here's something that I ran across in our literature regarding Swedenborg. It is the tail end of an article several pages long:

        "The ideas set forth by Swedenborg may be fascinating to some persons, but they hold no interest for those who love God. While the group is called “The New Jerusalem descended from God out of heaven,” it has demonstrated that it is not of God, denying his supremacy and rejecting his Word. (Rev. 22:18, 19) Although claiming to be the true Christian religion, it has proved false to that boast by ignoring the teachings of Christ and rejecting his ransom sacrifice. Swedenborg claimed that there is no Devil, but in so doing he blinded himself to danger and fell into the trap. Although perhaps unknowingly, he served the interests of the adversary Satan the Devil by teaching his lie of immortality of the human soul, by distorting God’s purpose regarding man and by setting aside God’s Word."

        I'm sorry Adriaan, it is very hard to believe in something that makes the Bible null and void. At least it is very difficult for me personally.

        Thank you for reading my comment. I wish I could discuss this topic more in depth, but unfortunately I lack the time.
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    Mar 29 2012: thank you. The Truth doesn't care if you or I or anyone believes in it. Truth is. The Truth is, I am as close to god as you are. I am as saved as you are. There is no way either of us know exactly what happend 2000 years ago. we weren't there. I promise we weren't. Neither of us can talk to anyone who was there. You can read manuscripts and choose to believe them. That doesn't make whats written true, just because you want it to be. Even if every person on earth believes it at this present time,, that still doesn't make the bible true. Mankind cannot travel back in time. I promise. Basically, thats all I have to figure out. Do I think I know exactly what happened 100 years ago, much less 2012 years ago. I can't lie to myself like that.
    What about other religions, how do they fit into your social hierarchy? Do they pose threats to this planet, like atheists?
    Also do a search for aaron O'connell right here on TED, because he's shown that the quantum mechanical state of a piece of metal is visible with the naked eye. Do so research please before you verbalize your thoughts as facts. Some poor souls might start to believe you.
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      Mar 29 2012: Hi Brian,
      I don't choose to believe the bible, I seek to understand it. If I don't know what it is telling me, then I might as well be reading fairy tales. Jesus came into the world in a most brutal time. His spirit has empowered people to stand up against injustice, even to the point of sacrificing their own life. That says volumes to me.

      I never said that atheists pose a threat to the planet. I am concerned for how their attack on religion might affect others, but other than that, unless they are exploiting the planet to its demise, I hold no accounts against them. I have known atheists who manipulate people for their own selfish gain, and those are the ones I have a problem with.

      I favor the Christian view because Jesus preached about love. I don't necessarily agree with what many Christian churches are preaching, some have more value than others based on what I can get out of them. Other religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism have contemplative styles that also have their merit. I am less inclined to the Muslim faith because it came from a militant leader and it is based on only one man's testimony, unlike the bible which has many books that give you differing views to contemplate from.

      I will check out your advice when I get some time so I can reflect on it.
      • Mar 29 2012: "I seek to understand the Bible"...yes, Roy.

        I failed to get this very point across in my comment to Brian.

        Knowing is not enough, it is understanding so then we can move on to apply it in our lives.

        Thank you for your well chosen words.
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        • Mar 30 2012: Adriaan, as the conversation progresses, I am finding it harder to find reply buttons.

          Thank you for explaining your thoughts below.

          What I really wanted to know are your thoughts on the "celebration/remembrance" of the actual event of Jesus' death.

          If you read my answer to Roy, I think you will see what I mean.

          Hope you find it. If you have something further to say about it, look to another of my comments to reply to me directly, as this comment of mine will not have a reply button.

          Thanks for your explanation....I found your fishtank illustration very unique....I will think upon it.

          Mary
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        Mar 30 2012: Roy, Atheists, who make a practice (if you will) of being atheist, only beg that we use our intelligence in understanding the real world and continue the search of what is still unknown. Calling the unknown God and religiously defending that decision halts investigation.
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          Mar 30 2012: Janine, when you find God within you, that is no longer true. I agree with your first statement.
        • Apr 1 2012: I find that your point expressed here is very enlightening, as it reveals the need for understanding each other's points of view.

          I really see what you are trying to say.....I personally will try to be more understanding in my conversations with those who do not believe.

          Thank you Janine.
    • Mar 29 2012: Brian, you are right, the truth doesn't care if you believe it. Well said.

      I will only state this: we humans are ingenious when it comes to fooling ourselves.
      We can talk and think our way into and out of any situation.
      Being a fact junkie in and of itself is ok....

      But where do we get our facts?

      From someone "selling" books for profit?

      From someone with an agenda?

      From someone that 50 years from now will be gone?

      The Bible states it is the word of God....the truth. Applying it's principles for Christians today, bring no harm to anyone. They benefit one and all. Religions peddle lies. It is up to us individually to find who on Earth today is living up to godly standards if we want to worship God in an acceptable way that is is harmony with scripture.

      The wonderful thing about it all Brian, is that the choice is YOURS to make. Your choice is right for you.

      I commend you standing up for what you believe in. And I wholeheartedly agree, we have to be careful not to verbalize our thoughts as facts because some poor soul might start to believe us.....and who are we? We are also some poor soul.....we are all the same Brian, we are all the same.

      Be Well.
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        Mar 30 2012: agreed. We can agree to disagree and debate and discuss, all of which, I think are helpful for people to talk and share views on difficult topics. I try to always be respectful and I think thats whats missing in a lot of discussions not only religious but any that people feel an emotional investment in. I try to remove my emotion from the subject or topic and that helps me to not be disrespectful or get my feelings hurt and lash out if someone doesn't agree with me. Doesnt always work, but Im trying.
        I always keep in mind we are not that diffrent, and it applies to any group, demographic or culture I have in mind when talking. We're not that diffrent. Let the diffrences fall away, hear the positive things being said and have healthy debates
        • Mar 30 2012: I will say this Brian, this conversation has been very upbuilding, and all of us have discussed our personal convictions, while at the same time respecting the views of others. I think Roy is to be thanked for his choice of topic, but more importantly for replying to all of us and keeping the conversation with a respectful tone of voice.

          Roy, Adriaan, and myself have three totally different faiths. But, I still deeply respect their convictions and points of view. I am no judge.

          Thank you Brian for willingly also replying to my comments, and yes, I will end with your words of wisdom....... "Let the differences fall away, hear the positive things being said and have healthy debates"
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    Mar 29 2012: Interesting analysis in your opening statement by the way.
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    Mar 28 2012: Hi Roy, i think this is the time that people from A-1 and B-1 must have to come together to carry forward all the findings. i seriously feel that both categories are not complete with each other.

    in order to stop the others from bringing this planet, a worst place to live, A-1 and B-1 have to be together.

    for these things, A-1 people have to rethink and understand their scriptures with a wider approach not their stories as merely stories but carrying some higher meanings..... how can be a scripture only a manual of living? and they need to understand the science, curbing their fear that they may corrupt their faith.

    similarly, the B-2 people have to also wider their arena to look at the A-1 people. they have to understand that those books can offer more things that they have been told by 'others'.

    but then, we have need to bring the things in their own languages.
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      Mar 28 2012: Hello simply Noor,

      In the new testament, Paul says we are ministers of the new testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit, and many Christians are in the letter and not the spirit. They know what it says, but often do not know why it says it. As a result, they try to force it on people with threats of eternal damnation rather than making the world a better place and drawing the crowd to see what the fuss is all about.

      Jesus said marvel not at these works that I do, for greater than these shall ye do, and the atheist is waiting to see the works but getting little more than lip service. So the atheist has the works and religious fanatics say you don't know what the truth is. Oh really, says who!

      The atheist will be more tolerant, maybe even supportive when they stop seeing hatred coming from Christians and Muslims. That's where we fit in. We need to speak for the truth and not just quote scripture. Remember that the witch hunters knew their scripture and they were among the vilest of people in the world. Learn the truth and show the love, and the pieces will begin to fall into place.

      Thank you for your thoughts, I am encouraged by your comments.
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        Mar 29 2012: alll the atheist I know, are fact-junkies. They can recite reference and footnote to any point or counter point they make. That being said the bible has no way of proving anything is says as true. Just because a lot of people you know think like you and believe like you, does not make that belief true. It's called mob mentatility. Very prevelant here in the south. Was is true or not blacks were predjudiced and made to feel less human and killed and not "loved" just 60 yrs ago? yes, thats true. Everyone here in alabama thought the same. Blacks were less human and didn't need to mix with with. diffrent schools, restrants, water fountains etc. This mob mentality was accepted, enforced and agreed upon by EVERYONE including churchs. Guess what, they were all completly, 100% wrong. Just love yourself. thats all.
        • Mar 29 2012: Brian, I'm sorry, but you are mistaken on this point: "This mob mentality was accepted, enforced and agreed upon by EVERYONE including churchs"

          While christendom's churches were busy jumping on the racial bandwagon, christians attempting to live up to godly principles had all races meeting in the same place of worship, and even training couples of all races and cultures to enter the missionary field. Don't lump all people of faith together. We are not all the same. If you care to read a three page long biography of someone who grew up during this turbulent time and see pictures of him and his wife congregating with christians of all colors I will be glad to forward you the link to an on-line journal that has the article.

          Mob mentality is very dangerous Brian....we have to make sure WE don't fall victim to it ever.

          I enjoyed reading your comment, you just went a little beyond truth with your all inclusive accusation.
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        Apr 1 2012: John 14:6, Jesus said I am the way, the truth, the light. Please site your resources as to when science proved this. Your Opinions and beliefs are just that. Facts are facts.
        • Apr 1 2012: Brian, Bridget is right you don't have to trust anybody here, Einstein included, but that's what he said and I am on board with his vision.

          "All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree."

          I don't think that sacred teachings are scientific or Bible is Science, it's deeper, it's about knowing ( not knowing about ) and that's exactly the point where the science is aiming to.
          The truth was intuitively sensed and it requires millennia of empirical observation to make it logically provable. But I hope that we are pretty close. At least in the field of economic/social science, the truth is revealed already. Need any proof ? Look around, we are not in crises, we ARE crises. And "inner " becomes the "outer".
          The main message of Quantum mechanics is the idea of interconnectedness and the role of the intelligent observer in the creating of the observed. And objectivity becomes subjective. So "facts are facts" kind of concept is highly disputable.
          Higgs Boson, heavily chased, but not yet caught is called a god's particle and for a good reason, because it is supposed to give particles their masses, hence create matter. Amazing isn't it ? We have created tuns of stuff and still have no idea what it is made of ! :) It means to be clever but not wise. It means that we know too little to comprehend what world we inhabit.

          Science has changed its attitude towards 'empty' space, it seems to be in the focus of attention all over the genre. For how many years we've known that the atoms which make up solid matter are over 99.99 per cent empty space ? About 80 years, I guess, but somehow science has absorbed this without letting it alter its attitude. But time has come and 'empty' space is viewed as full and fertile and the womb of All. Science and sacred teachings seem to be on the way to reconciliation.

          Brian, my purpose is not so much as answer your question, ( I don't have answers) , but to help you to understand it :)
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    Mar 28 2012: Hi Roy.
    I believe I have eternal life for one reason & one reason only. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for my sin, period. no Golden Rule or adherence to commandments will make one iota of difference
    That said, I try my best to reciprocate the love that he shows for me by loving him back, & loving folks I meet, just as much as I can. It's not rocket science.
    Believing that I have eternal life with my creator does have a profound effect on the life I live. I am quite content with things as they are, I prefer chatting to folks, rather than joining the rush to add to my possessions. I try & persuade others of the reality of the afterlife, & am very conscious of the fact that my Christian friends are friends forever. To be honest, I don't fancy growing infirm with age, and related problems, maybe I won't have to. However I trust God & I know for a fact that this life is nothing compared to what is in store. Oh how I wish more could see the reality of it all !

    :-))
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      Mar 28 2012: Hello Peter, nice to hear from you.

      Your reply is one of the reasons that atheists detest religion; "I am quite content with things as they are". Things are not very good in most parts of the world. They believe that the religious belief in an afterlife is the very reason that things are not getting any better. Unless we do something about it, how can it get any better?

      I believe in an afterlife, but I don't believe that I am off the hook in trying to make the world a better place. Jesus said how can you say that you love me and not do the things that I say? He never said that the ten commandments no longer matter.

      Your philosophy is probably a lot healthier than those who run the rat race to add to their possessions. You say no golden rule, and yet I get the feel that it is a part of you. It's what Jesus in you leads you to do. That is the part that most atheist don't get. Your belief makes you a better person because of how it has affected your life. Thanks for your comments. I would feel safer with more of you in the world.
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        Mar 29 2012: Hi Roy.
        "Your reply is one of the reasons that atheists detest religion"
        I am content with my personal circumstances; I probably would be regardless of what they were. I am not content with the state of the world, &, in common with most Christians, do my bit to change things

        I am sure however that Atheists & Christians have entirely different perspectives on what will improve things. I believe that when people & nations obey the will of God they will be blessed, & when they don't they won't . That's quite straightforward.
        I'm not sure what an Atheist agenda would be, but I doubt the will of God would be a prominent feature. :)

        :-)
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          Mar 29 2012: Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it. That is why I don't want atheists trying to do away with religion. What they learn and can share with the world is often a blessing. But without God's guidance, they may be opening Pandora's box. It takes a joint effort between the two views to keep us on the straight and narrow.
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          Mar 29 2012: The problem with the rhetoric about the will of God is that it is most frequently used to avoid the will of God. Jesus put it this way: Treat others the way you want to be treated, that is the whole of the Law and the Prophets. All those who spend their time finding biblical reasons for being mean and selfish or trying to undo science did not listen and have not submitted to God.

          The Bible lends itself to this behavior if one does not approach it with a critical eye guided by the benevolent spirit defined by the Golden Rule.

          There is nothing "revealed" that should not be subject to this critical eye. Jesus put it something like this: when others claim to be prophets, test them by their fruits. The truly good tree only bears good fruit.

          The Bible clearly does not only bear good fruit. We should be in search of that which does.

          The Bible can help only to the exent we read it critically, looking for that which only bears good fruit.

          Religion is good when it grows out of and does not conflict with the best fruits of our "reason" defined as our search for the cause of good fruit.
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        Mar 29 2012: @inthegarden beyondthecave, well said. it is by the fruits we were told to recognize the truth.
        Jesus also said that his disciples would be preaching the good news of god's kingdom during the time of the end.
        It is not wise to follow religion blindly like so many do. many find churches and religions that suit their needs. hence the appropriate question posed by roy.
        It comes down to the first lie uttered in history. satan the devil throwing his voice into a defenseless little creature told the first woman, you will positively not die if you eat of that fruit. and ever since then, humans have been following that big fat lie thinking that death is not the end. that we have something that separates from us.
        Well, what if nothing separates from us, what if this is the only life we have. if our love of god is true, we are in it for pleasing him, and making him proud of us, like a heavenly father, and not for selfish motives. then we will have proven satan a liar, just like job did in the bible book that bears his name.
        I stronly agree with you, "we should be in search of that which bears good fruit". And we have to do it with our "power of reason" like we are urged to in the bible. Faith is not blind, it has 20/20 vision, like someone on here said in another conversation.

        Enjoyed your comment, thought i would put in my pennies worth.
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          Apr 1 2012: C Sarrin,
          The death that Adam and Eve were warned about was not a physical death but a spiritual one. It has nothing to do with the body. The forbidden fruit is anything that entices you but leaves you destitute if you partake of it. Today we see it in the form of drug addictions, compulsive gambling, sexual infidelity leading to unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and STD's, domestic and gang violence, involvement with political corruption and organized crime, and a host of other things. They are all branches of the same tree because they all have the same effect, thy drain the life right out of you. The tree is as real now as it was then, and people are still eating from it.

          As for science, it has a multitude of blessings. But the master of deception is still on the prowl trying to undermine the truth that it reveals. The character, Satan, is not what is real, it is what the character represents. Adam and Eve died the day they ate of the forbidden fruit because their lives were forever changed from one that was blessed and nourished by the creator, to one that had to deal with the consequences of what they had done. It is all a metaphor that one needs to understand, not just accept as literal.

          I think you see beyond the words, but I don't think you understand what death means from a biblical perspective. In Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, the son took his inheritance and squandered it in lustful living. When the money was spent, the son found himself destitute and homeless. He went back to submit himself to the father. The father declared that here is my son who was dead and has come back to life.
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    Mar 28 2012: Its funny the athiest and non-believers usually value life in the present moment, more that the believers! a good part of society equates atheism with satanism. I live with an atheist and she enjoys every moment, every day. What she doesn't tolerate is mis-truths, half-distorted facts and predjudices. Being from Alabama, a lot of her time is spent in discussions about basic religious truths and human rights, which to me isn't very enjoyable. For me, death is not to be feared or barganed with. I choose to stay present and it will happen exactly like it's supposed to.
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      Mar 28 2012: I never saw an atheist as a Satanist, but I was concerned for their attack on religion. The funny thing is, even though I consider myself as a true believer in God, according to the religious concept of God, I am an atheist because I don't believe in God as a "quote" person.

      I am finding that most atheists believe in something greater than themselves and some believe that life goes on, but not as most religious people think. They don't believe in a separate heaven or hell where God torments non-believers for all eternity. For that matter, neither do I. I believe in an afterlife, but I believe that it is dependent on how well we took care of the world we were entrusted to. You don't love and praise your father by singing songs to him and telling him you love him, you demonstrate it by showing the world how well his son or daughter turned out to be.
      The scripture says not by works but by grace are ye saved (Ephesians 2:8) because some are born with physical or mental deficiencies. If we were all saved by works, some would be lost from the start. But that doesn't excuse us from doing the best we can when we are able. We must strive for excellence. Jesus didn't get a following because of grace, he did so because of his works. And if we say we believe in him, then we must strive to do the same.

      What concerns me most are atheists (or anyone for that matter, believer or not) who exploit the planet without seeking proper guidance from a higher source, and thus depleting the planet from its capacity to support life, or driving whatever life there is into a state of anguish. Anyone who could kill or destroy to promote their own agendas, whether in the name of God or not, are a threat to our existence.
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        Mar 28 2012: Thank you for the topic and the response. The Truth of it is what a person thinks is the absolute truth for that person. that simple statement is been proven by quantum mechanics, religion, philosophy, etc. Ones thoughts and beliefs are exactly correct for that person. My concern like you said is the dominionist idea that because of a verse in genesis that man is superior to all other creatures we share the Earth with and they feel they have rule over the Earth itself but, and no offense, if one thinks the earth and universe came to be like the bible says, we probably need to have a earlier starting point for a discussion. Like, the fact science, geology, astronomy, ect. proves we didn't get here from there. I happen to be familiar with atheists who are Wiccian. Probably most Atheist I know value the here and now and total ramdomness of life and do all they can to protect the earth. I would also suggest Rob Bell's book, Love Wins to get an inside view of how people of the same faith can have totally seperate views of the meaning of the bible. I like to use at least two books when I quote facts.
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          Mar 28 2012: "I like to quote at least two books when I quote facts" That's where it all starts. It's easy to quote scripture out of context, but then the controversies in the bible are what make you have to think about it first. Yet even with 66 books, it still isn't enough if you really want to know why it says what it does. Take the tabernacle for instance; Moses was given orders on how to build the tabernacle. Nowhere in the bible does it say why that layout was chosen. You can find the answer in Eastern philosophy.

          Religion's modern version of hell originates in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It isn't found in Genesis, so why is it found in the modern church. I can tell you why, and it's a twisted road that it has travelled.

          We base truth on what we can prove by repetitive results. It sets the foundation of what we have come to know. Religious truth is in how it has affected lives, not on what is written in this or that book of the bible. It needs to be searched out and its virtues revealed. I don't take anything for face value because I have seen too many things twisted to make a point. It's what science refers to as "cooking the data" to make it say what you want it to say. Jesus says "by their fruits you will know them", not by their claims. Actions always speak louder than words.

          When people truly love each other, they help each other out. They don't dangle you over a sea of flames to persuade you to follow them. They draw you in by their acts of kindness. Keep searching and revealing what it has shown to you. You have a good handle on things.
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        Mar 29 2012: Point taken, which in a round-about way takes us back to my point that what ever a person believes, no matter how they arrive at those beliefs, that person will assilimate information to back their view so now it's become Truth. I was in church for about half my adult life. didn't get saved till I was 27. Studied theology and had a goal to lead in the church in some aspect. But just as Rob Bell and others have asked questions about the language and linguistics and syntax and translation and absolute unavailability to anyone except choses church leaders, obviously begs the obvious observation any person hearing the development of the bible without knowing its the bible would say, there is no way the kjv we read is anywher close to what happened. If you study communication, as it pertatins to a societys development, its obvious the bible was written by a class of higher educated men, who chose to use fear, punishment and reward to progress a moral code or way of life that was self perpetuating. The great commission, is an example of that. The total disfunction of the church and the in fighting between denominations show, to everyone but thoses in the grips of this belief system, its simply the word of man. That being said there is truth in all things, jesus being one of those things. He, like you and I, shared his thoughts, and his words had wisdom not seen in that time. Just like Gautama Buddha, whose life and words, too similar not to be written by the same groups of people telling similar stories and traveling the world using geography to mold its characters and events. Of all persons, the Dala Lama has done more that any one to unite humanity in peace and understanding. See, what scares everyone who isn't a christian and is american, is the fact christians already showed no care for anyone but themselves with the Crusades and what I hear from christian collations about muslims and the Chinese and any communist country is basically a Jihad
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          Mar 29 2012: Paul said we are ministers of the new testament, not of the letter but of the spirit. It is only by the spirit of God that we can truly understand God's word. It requires that we seek to know God and not allow ourselves to interpret God's word for him. That two way communication with God is what allows God to speak to us.

          Too many people today are trying to interpret God's word without God's spirit to guide them. As a result, they cook the data to make it say what they think it should say, not to understand why it says what it does. Case in point; atheists claim that the story of Jesus being crucified at the place recorded in the gospels must be wrong, because Romans crucified persons on the road so that people would be in fear to upset the Romans. What they fail to realize is that the Romans didn't want to crucify Jesus. It was the Jews who demanded it. The Romans knew that Jesus had many followers, so they wouldn't have wanted to display him for all to see. They would have been concerned for an insurrection, as this was the time of the passover where all the Jews were assembling. They broke with protocol because the road is the last place they would have wanted to put Jesus.

          Another case in point; there are two genealogies concerning Jesus, one in Matthew, and one in Luke. They don't agree which is a problem with atheists. What they don't understand is that Jesus had two parents, and some believed in the virgin Mary, so one genealogy traces his roots through his mother Mary, whereas the other traces his roots through Mary's husband Joseph.

          Without the spirit of God to guide you, it just becomes a complicated mess.
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        Mar 29 2012: Also , according to the bible, hell is an absence from god. I don't think god is here with me now, and yet I know i'm saved, just as much as you are. As far as eastern pillars of wisdom, the Tao Te Ching, is the one helped illuminate my path. In addition, having studied quantum theory, cosmology, some genetics and a little evolutionary psychology it brings me to this present moment which is absolutely true for me. All I can offer is, when I totally focused and was truthful with myself, when I got to know who "I" truely was from that point I was able to awaken, advance, find balance, accept, have faith in...whatever the words people use, it all means the same thing. When you can see yourself in others and in nature your on your way. Peace
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          Mar 29 2012: God is with you always. He is everywhere. Sometimes we just can't comprehend that, probably because the Catholic church took God out of reality after their attack on Galileo. If we believe that lie, then we think that God is not here, whereas God can never be not here. We just have to find him within ourselves, and then we connect.

          Since you understand quantum theory, understand this; quantum fields are everywhere. They are invisible. They are the source from which all things come and back to which they Go. They are what is doing the creating. They have all the qualities attributed to God. Hopefully you can figure out the rest.
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  • Mar 28 2012: Roy,

    Since there are two B-1s in your question, I'm not sure which one of them you associate with Richard Dawkins. Would you clarify that please?
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      Mar 28 2012: Sorry, The second B-1 should be B-2. I will change it.
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    Mar 28 2012: The funny thing is some people believe in an afterlife and still do horrible things that they believe might end them up in hell. Perhaps there are some more categories or sub categories.
    Suggest some of the Catholic drug runners probably believe they are going to hell.
    Suggest some of the human traffickers believe they will suffer in the next incarnation

    I think this reflects our base instincts, that life is competitive, that something now, often has more power than something later - recency etc.

    There are lots of benefits tied up with religion and the afterlife - social connection, consolation, avoiding being stigmatised as an outsider or killed as a heretic.

    There is also a point that many people are consoled by the thought of an afterlife. Seeing their lost ones again someday. The net result from the belief might be positive even if they are deluded.
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      Mar 28 2012: I accept the benefits of a belief in an afterlife. You make a good point that some do horrible things even when they believe that they will suffer for it in the end. Is it possible to change that mindset, or am I asking for too much?

      Very good point about NOW having more power than later. Is it that their beliefs are short sighted and weak? Religion was intended for spiritual growth. Today, it seems to have stagnated while science has the world's attention. What has happened? I have a Noah Webster's Dictionary 1904 edition. when I compare the word "faith" to that of Webster's New World Dictionary (original copyright 1953), you wouldn't know it was the same word.

      I don't want to add to the categories, I was trying to keep them simple and yet get the to gist of the whole problem; that good and evil exist on both sides of the fence. Getting rid of one does not get rid of the problem. The problem isn't one-sided. If we are going to make changes to make the world better, we need to make changes to both sides as a whole. There is no black and white here.
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        Mar 29 2012: Thanks Roy
        You mention how the meaning of the word faith has changed
        I guess views on the afterlife have changed over time as well.
        I agree that a belief in Heaven and Hell hasn't really helped improve the human condition.
        Suggest you don't need it. There is a dark side to human nature shared by the religious and atheists.
        However it is the atheist who accept we are what we are and it is up to us to take responsibility to live well, whereas the Religious say god created us as sinners or original sin, the devil made me do it, god is telling us how we should live. And some of these instructions are evil. And some evil things are accepted by god, like slavery, sexism, murder.
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          Mar 29 2012: Hello Obey;

          I found it amusing to discover that according to definition, I am an atheist even though I have had spiritual encounters with God, soley because I do not confirm to the Catholic church's definition of God as a person. I never saw God as a person, and my own encounters have confirmed that fact.

          I wrote a book "The Merging of Two Worlds" that addresses concerns about what people believe and why they believe it. The modern version of hell originates in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It isn't found in Genesis because it's not supposed to be there. Yet it was dragged back into the church because fear gets people's attention. I show how it evolved into the modern church.

          Heaven and hell reflect the two extremes of the human condition, one being bliss, the other being agony. We can move from one condition to the other based on our understanding of how things work, or in reverse because we choose to ignore the laws of the cosmos. What causes agony will never change, which is why it is eternal. But a soul doesn't suffer for eternity, that was a misconception where two ideas got twisted together. The bible says the despicable acts committed by humans never entered the mind of God (Jeremiah 7:31, 19:5), but mankind in an effort to redeem itself, equates God as being far worse.

          There are many misconceptions being taught by churches that need to be weeded out. They warn us of the master of deception, and yet they cannot see him in their own dogmas. They are right about one thing, deceptions can be deadly. It was what fueled the witch trials for nearly 400 years.

          Genesis and the Garden of Eden is a historical myth. Adam and Eve are mythological characters that represent an entire culture. What happens to them is what happened to that culture, not on a warm Sunday afternoon, but over several thousand years. You have to see beyond the words. It's like looking at a 3-D poster. Once you get your focus right, you see what's really there.
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          Mar 29 2012: Hi Bridget,
          I know very little about the Zohar and Jewish mysticism.
          I guess there are advocates for many different ways of reading the bible.
          I guess a kabbalistic interpretation has more or less merit as some other ways.
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          Mar 29 2012: Hi Roy, I agree there is some scriptural as well logical cases against the christian mainstream view of eternal damnation. It seems strange that this very important point was not discussed much with gods chosen people in the old testament.
          And way would a loving god eternally torture us.

          As to how we are supposed to interpret the early books in the bible - I don't know which way is right. I note Bridget has another interpretation.

          You'd think god would have made everything clearer if this .

          And perhaps more accessible. A chosen people, say 1% of the worlds population for thousands of years. The Americans only started to hear about the biblical god 500 years ago.
          Other than your religious experience, don't you think it looks odd?
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          Mar 29 2012: Hi Bridget,
          Without having studied the Kabbala, you pretty much paraphrased what I put in my book. The spirit of God revealed much of this to me while I was reading the bible. Your comments have confirmed to me that I didn't just make it all up. Thanks for your input.
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          Apr 1 2012: Try to rember, the person you are speaking with may or may not be as far along the path as you. Words are like lamp post, they light the path, and yet they are not the path itself. Peace
  • Mar 27 2012: Roy,

    Near the end of your last comment you said "Find God within" ... This should have been your point A-4
    and further, it should read "Simply for the love of the deed of doing so and for no other reason"

    Because this is the only point that could give any room for freedom. A truly free human being could only except unconditional free choice. What good would winning the kingdom of heaven be if it was only done by a form of plight or duty. This is not within the deeper nature of our being.
    Although in some religions, like Islam, one is commanded to "cast oneself under" the authority of a book, a prophet, etc. But who ever is truly free in their inner self could never come to such a position. There is no outer authorities anymore. There is only the inner authority for a truly free individual. Church, parents, teachers, wives, Imams, ... none can tell me to behave so and so to get my reward in heaven. This is like hanging a carrot in front of the nose of people. Nobody really wants to be un-free but society and religion and the previous named institutions push most people into being un-free.
    To believe in the afterlife is one thing. The inner conviction of its reality is more real to me than most people you might meet, just the same, I try to live my life in the here and now, doing each deed out of love for the deed or understanding the reasons that the deed I'm doing really needs to be done. To see and understand the connection with my work and the rest of the world. I can't go through life thinking that if I do this and that it should get me some points in the afterlife. This is an illusion of an idea that in truth, is hindering your own inner development

    Greetings from Daniel
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      Mar 28 2012: Daniel, I see this as part of the golden rule; do unto others, not because some God is going to reward you for it, but because it is the right thing to do and it makes for a better world. When I was in Catholic Sunday school, they kept talking about the devil and hell, and the wrath of God against all unrighteousness. I kept asking how we could create heaven on earth as the Lord's prayer implied, and they kept reverting me back to the devil as the master of this world. I had to find God outside of the church, and there is where my faith has been since.
      Today, I am a non-denominational Christian who adheres to the golden rule. I still attend a church, but one where I feel that I am learning, not following some ritual.
      If you live your life the way you described, then the world is a better place because of it. I thank you for sharing your comments. I wish more people could think that way.
      There are many who find refuge in a church. Without it, they would feel totally lost. My concern is for aggressive atheists who want to do away with the church. I don't disagree that most churches make people un-free, but are all people ready to be un-free? You and I took that road on our own. What about those who are prone to do evil, and only choose to do right because of an ultimatum dictated by a church? I'm still trying to sort this out in my mind.