Gordon Taylor

Retired engineer

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Are people of faith in fact gullible?

Gullibility is the belief in something with no substantiating facts to support that something. I contend that if you believe in something based upon Scripture, whichever religion you belong to then you are gullible. That is not to mean evil or stupid but simply gullible. This also differs somewhat from credulous depending on what actions you take in support of your beliefs or faith.

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      Apr 18 2013: WOW! :D (I hope you don't mind me saying!)
      Seems people are a lot nicer then expected!
      Maybe the world is a lot better place, than it is represented in the media?
      Kind regards,
      • Apr 19 2013: That's why I only pick up a newspaper when I have to light a fire.
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      Apr 18 2013: Don, thank you for sharing this.

      I sometimes read Mitch's comments and think......."I wish I knew enough to truly understand all the wonderful things he writes".......

      I find that it is the people who live up to their faith who are the most reliable.....whatever that faith is.

      There are many many wonderful people all over the earth, sometimes they are reserved and shy because they have been used and abused and taken for granted.

      Many times they act discreetly.....not interested in being admired by anyone.

      Thanks again Don.

      "After all is said and done, there is usually more said than done"
    • Apr 22 2013: Hi Don,
      I seem to remember an old guy like me who, was a long-time friend of yours. His name had a Swiss background and he helped you through these crazy times in a very different manner? The three of us are 80 and lived in Montreal.

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    Apr 29 2013: Since "God" can currently be neither proved nor disproved, except through death, the question - are atheists gullible? - could be equally valid.
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      Apr 29 2013: Heather, Atheists are cynical and agnostists are sceptical but neither is necessarily gullible or credulous.
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        Apr 29 2013: Gordon, I agree with you to a certain extent - I consider agnostics to be the most rational minded people. Open minded enough to question religious ideology, while leaving the concept of a higher intelligence as an unanswered unknown. Atheists, on the other hand, tend to be angry, cynical and rude. They believe themselves to be correct and everyone else deluded or gullible. This is an arrogant position to take - and one that scientists should never take - as science always moves on.
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      Apr 29 2013: They assume more than they can possibly know - sounds gullible.
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      Apr 29 2013: Interesting point you make there Heather.

      In other words, if you put "faith" in "your" own understanding of things, you are gullible.

      I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the best attitude is a questioning attitude, with an ever present open mind approach?
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        Apr 29 2013: I suppose if you believe in anything at all you could be accused of being gullible. As a human being there's worse things to be accused of!
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    Apr 16 2013: I guess we have limited control over when and where we are born and how we are indoctrinated as children

    I think cultural, societal and parental indoctrination as children really sticks.

    We seem to have evolved so that children believe whats adults tell them, Santa, tooth fairy, gods. Gullibility as a child is inevitable.

    Growing up with limited information other than cultural god beliefs is not really a choice in many situations.

    Also it may be sensible to belong to the tribal or cultural religious group, rather than be isolated. Are Muslims gullible if they fear death for apostasy?

    So I suggest the level of gullibility depends on individual circumstances and personal choices.

    In regards to personal choices those who consider their beliefs and test them are less gulliblke than those who don't. If you don't blindly accept authority, or scripture, dogma, if you have thought it out and looked for evidence, thought critically, and still have beliefs with an element of faith, but not blind faith, then perhaps you are not so gullible.

    Finally we are social animals, tribal, and are programmed to find our place in the social order and follow heirachy, fit in etc. So its pretty normal.

    Final thought, if you are an atheist because you blindly follow you are more gullible than a thoughtful theist or deist IMO.
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      Apr 16 2013: Agree Obey, that as children, we may be limited as far as what choices we have, and what information we are given. So perhaps children are more gullible than adults. As you say, children usually believe what they are told by those they trust.

      As we grow up, our cognitive and developmental skills generally improve to the point at which we can make decisions for ourselves, so I also agree that level of gullibility depends on individual choices.

      Interesting.....yes.....we are indeed social creatures, and seek to find our place in the social order, which sometimes involves blindly following a belief to be accepted in a certain community or society? Blindly following ANYTHING seems to demonstrate gullibility.
      • Apr 16 2013: I don't think gullible is the correct word. It seems to me that we are wired from an evolutionary point to believe what we are told when we are children. Since we are hatched without the benefit of an inborn instinct to do the more complex things we needed know to survive on the African veldt, we had to learn those thing from our parents and society in general. Not having time to discover on our own and actually survive means we had to take all information as fact.
        When more mature and having time to coordinate "facts" told as children and ask questions and develop your own beliefs then watch out.
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          Apr 16 2013: Gordon B,
          Gullible is the word the facilitator used as part of his question, and if you don't think it is the correct word.....so be it.

          With a little bit of research, you may discover that we are indeed "hatched" with instinct, just as little turtles, little birds, and other critters are hatched with instinct.


          As we develope cognitive skills, we begin to think and feel more on our own, rather than depending on instinct.

          I, for example, at the ripe old age of 6, started asking questions about the religion I was born into. Why do I have to go to confession? I'm only 6 years old and not a sinner! Why am I told to love my neighbor EXCEPT if s/he is not catholic? Why am I told that we are all one, made in the image and likeness of a loving god, then told that all those who do not believe in a certain god are going to hell for an eternity of suffering? Why does that loving god say I need to suffer and struggle through life because of the sins of the world? Why does my father sit in the front row of church, receive communion and bow his head in prayer, then go home and beat his wife and children?

          My cognitive skills were probably starting to develop, and I asked the questions, no longer depending on the inborn instinct to believe everything my parents told me. I had some extra help too, because my mom was a devout catholic and knew the bible really well. The important piece is, however, that she also encouraged me to think and feel for myself and she advised me to NOT simply accept what I was told. She was really a GREAT teacher because she LIVED her faith. She did not preach, lecture, threat, or force anything, and THAT makes all the difference regarding HOW people accept and use information:>)
      • Apr 16 2013: No - not the same as little turtles and little birds. The more complex the neural system of the animal, the lesser the role that instinct plays. Babies know how to feed, but children do not know what is acceptable to eat. Alligators know how to hunt from the get go.
        Its a sliding scale.
        What fills in the holes is learning by observation which is my point that we are wired to believe what we are taught as children.
        Obviously that wears off sooner in some than in others.
        I was born into the United faith (whatever that means) and went to one "Sunday School" - Church for kids but left half way through because I couldn't believe what they were going on about. My relationship with religion went downhill pretty much continually from then on. But that's beside the point.
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          Apr 17 2013: My understanding is believing adults is part of our nature. If young kids can believe in santa, then they can believe in cultural gods and goddesses, combined with a desire to conform, be praised, and please parents.

          As our minds develop we can think more critically. It will depend on the individual, and the environment to some extent. Some parents may encourage critical thinking. Other children are surrounded by a dominant and pervasive religion, and have less exposure to other ideas.

          I guess the christian indoctrination i had still sticks to some extent, even though i dont believe, it is cultural, and psychologically there to some extent from a fear of hell to celebrating christmas.

          Agree with many comments here that we are wired in a way conducive to religion, believing adults, hyperactive agency detection, hyperactive face detection , hallucinations etc. we have to work hard sometimes to see through the various religious drivers. It seems to come easier for some than others.

          I spent some time not believing, before i came out. Lost a lot of friends.

          If you spend years building a mental construct of a personal god, or seeing god in everything, the pattern is very strong.

          Also sometimes people want to believe for social reasons, or for life after death, for meaning etc. its not quite gullibility, its avoidance.

          So it seems a very personal individual assessment on the level of gullibility and recognising many reinforcing factors that hold some back from thinking critically, the conclusions, and implementing them.
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          Apr 17 2013: Gordon B.
          It appears that we agree...
          You say..."The more complex the neural system of the animal, the lesser the role that instinct plays"

          That is what I said as well..."As we develope cognitive skills, we begin to think and feel more on our own, rather than depending on instinct."

          I agree that it is a personal assessment by the person on many levels. In my perception, there are some gullible people, and to me, those would be the ones who blindly accept whatever they are told without evaluating, or exploring the information. To accept simply on "faith" seems like a gullible concept to me.
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          Apr 17 2013: I agree colleen.
  • Apr 16 2013: Remember to never use the word all or never because it is never always true.
  • Apr 17 2013: What is the distinction between those that believe because they think it is true, and those that believe because they chose to believe? I am not a person of faith, but I recognize faith as something that brings inner peace to many people.

    Similarly, I think of a gullible person as believing many different things besides faith related issues without substantiating facts. On the contrary, I know many skeptics that are also men of faith. I also know many people of faith whose judgement I trust on about every other aspect of life.

    I picked this up from the wiki for credulity:

    The words gullible and credulous are commonly used as synonyms. Goepp & Kay (1984) state that while both words mean "unduly trusting or confiding", gullibility stresses being duped or made a fool of, suggesting a lack of intelligence, whereas credulity stresses uncritically forming beliefs, suggesting a lack of skepticism. Jewell (2006) states the difference is a matter of degree: the gullible are "the easiest to deceive", while the credulous are "a little too quick to believe something, but they usually aren't stupid enough to act on it.
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      Apr 17 2013: Great expansion. Thanks Robert.

      I guess people may be gullible or credulous in some areas of life and not others.

      Also interesting distinction between those who know they might be wrong but choose to believe and belong, and those who believe without sufficient consideration, or critical thinking etc.
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    Apr 16 2013: Faith ==> Trust
    Religion ==> Gullibility (And I would add unpleasant hegemony.)
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    Apr 16 2013: Hi Gordon,
    From your profile, it looks like you are new to TED.....Welcome:>)

    I do not feel that it is very useful to generalize for a huge group of people. Many people of faith believe they have substantiating facts to support their personal belief. Of course, other people of different faith believe THEY also have substantiating facts to support THEIR belief.

    Some folks were born into a religion and simply accepted it as their belief, some folks have explored a belief and embraced it. Personally, I was born into a religion and questioned it from the time I was a child. As an adult, I explored and researched several different religions and philosophical beliefs, and I do not feel a desire to practice a religion.

    Some of the beliefs have value, and my perception is that the important piece is HOW people use the information. According to the definition, yes, some people may be gullible, and some people may truly use their beliefs as valuable life guides, fully aware and knowledgeble about the content of what they choose to believe.

    I agree with George..."Remember to never use the word all or never because it is never always true." Trying to define and label a large group of people does not make much sense to me, because whatever your label is, it generally is not true for all members of that group, and it actually limits our understanding. I prefer to have an open heart and mind rather than putting folks in a little box I may build for myself.

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      Apr 16 2013: Hi Colleen
      I like you, was born into a religion and like you do not follow it. I would suggest that you go to my website and read my blog on Faith and Gullibility(Moderation and Reason.gordontaylor590.wordpress.com), not that it is particularly insightful but it more or less explains my thoughts on the subject. I don't consider myself an atheist or even a cynic but rather a skeptic. I do not deny that there can be a supreme being but I cannot accept the Scriptures, regardless of their origin, as the "word of God". I have a degree in Physics but I don't consider myself a convert to Science as a religion. I do believe that Moderation and Reason must prevail if we are achieve any measure of peace in the world.
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        Apr 16 2013: Hi Gordon,
        Thanks for the suggestion. Perhaps you could share your thoughts right here in the discussion you facilitate. The only label I accept is "explorer" of the human life experience:>)
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          Apr 16 2013: I guess I should take time to explain my beliefs or lack thereof. First of all I do not pretend to have a reason to believe in or doubt a specific deity. I do not believe in the scriptures in total regardless of which one(s) are promoted. I am not a fan of organized anything because almost invariably the organization becomes more important than its members. This is particularly true of some religions and labor unions.

          As an interesting aside is my experience with near death. I was struck with meningitis, bleeding ulcer, pnuemonia, a stroke and several major seizures. After a month in intensive care and months of rehabilitation I was left deaf and with some mobility impairment. I have had a cochlear implant and walk with a cane but at least I can walk. What I learned was that my family would not give up on me and let the doctors pull my feeding tube. They also put up with my hearing impairment and other disabilities. Recently my wife went through a major heart attack and was also near death. This time my kids and myself went through the not giving up phase and she is currently recovering. None of this has changed my view of what is important and how I choose to live my life. Once you lose your fear of dying you can look at your faith and belief system with some considerably improved clarity.
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        Apr 17 2013: Gordon,
        I also feel that often times, the organization and dogma of a religion becomes more important than the members. This may be one factor which leads to gullibility? When folks are supporting the organization wholeheartedly, without exploration or evaluation of the concepts that are being practiced, preached and promoted, they may simply be passing on the information without consideration of the underlying manifestations.

        I think of the catholic church, for example, and the extensive cover-up of the sexual molestation of children. It apparently was more important for the leaders of that church to protect their reputation and the supposed reputation of the church in favor of taking care of its people, including, little innocent children

        WOW Gordon! I'm sorry for the chellenges you and your family have faced, and I sincerely hope you are all doing as well as possible at this time.....sending you loving, healing energy.

        Facing death certainly CAN cause a renewed perception of life. At the time of my NDE, I also was very aware of the wonderful, caring support from so many friends and family, and in fact, I often focused on that as a way to help me stay connected with everything that was happening. I was aware of the love shared with them prior to the challenge, and everything that happened at that time reinforced the love of people, which I am very grateful for.

        I cannot say that the NDE "changed my view" of life, and it certainly did intensify many thoughts, feelings, perceptions and beliefs I had nurtured in my life adventure:>)
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    Apr 16 2013: I'm sure you are aware, Mr.Taylor, that the word "gullible" is not in most dictionaries. Is it your opinion that everything the Holy Bible says is without "substantiating facts"?
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      Apr 16 2013: Couldn't resist posting this Ed:

      Gullible Person 1: Did you know that 'gullible' isn't in the dictionary?
      Gullible Person 2: Really? (Checks dictionary)
      Gullible Person 2: Wow! It really isn't in the dictionary!
      Gullible Person 1: Oh my God! Give me a look!

      Hope you're doing well!
  • Apr 27 2013: Well actually, only a stupid person is gullible because that person has the ability to let himself be fooled by anyone, someone and everyone. You can't fool all the people all the time. My question to you sir is that did gravity exist before Newton discovered it or is it that we all are fooling ourselves into thinking that gravity does exist. Newton saw the gravity of the situation when he saw the apple fall. He observed. He noted. He discovered. So all those nations before him, were they gullible to have not discovered gravity or were they blind?

    It is but time that heals the mind

    There is as yet no concrete evidence to the existence of god, but on the contrary, there is no concrete evidence to deny god either. It would a waste of human intellect and precious time to deny something that does not exist in the first place, and this shows the limit of the human thought process. On the other hand, it would be folly to deny something of that stature. My QUESTION to you sir is that do you exist. Do I exist? If we really do, then where and how?
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    Apr 25 2013: Not necessarily, but for the most part, yes.

    I was on the verge of being an atheist when spiritual experience caused me to question my disbelief. Today, I still read the scriptures, but I see them in an entirely different light. Most fundamentalists wouldn't agree with my views.

    The old definition of faith was in tune with spiritual enlightenment or inner awakening (taken from a 1904 Noah Webster Dictionary). The new definition is based on blind faith (taken from 1953 Webster's New World Dictionary). The definition of the word theology also changed; the old definition regarded the scientific method as one of its two branches. The second branch was based on personal revelation (spiritual experience). The new definition completely ignores evidence based on nature and reason, and the only thing remaining reverts back to church doctrine which takes the average parishioner out of the picture.

    Eastern philosophy is based on examination of beliefs so that one can come to an understanding. A lot of Eastern philosophy is represented in the bible, but none of it is explained. Ever since the Catholic church put down Galileo, it has done more to suppress the truth than to embrace it. It drove a wedge between science and religion and the wedge has only served to antagonize the two against each other. Until the wedge is removed, most people will remain gullible to what the man on the pulpit tells them.

    My faith is not based on what anyone else tells me. I question everything that I believe until I come to a greater understanding. Until I can put it into practice and trust the results, whatever I believe is in need of further examination. Unquestioning belief has no place in my world.
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    Apr 21 2013: While some theists are much smarter and wiser than I, I just think they are wrong on the gods or goddesses question.

    I guess they agree with me about all the god concepts they don't believe in.

    But respect their right to follow whatever religion etc as long as it doesn't harm others.

    I guess the degree of gulibility depends on their religious beliefs and how they came to them, how much they have tested and evaluated them.

    E.g. A deist belief is probably less gullible than believing in a specific detailed dogma such as scientology or christianity with an interventionist god and lots of dogma.

    Trusting with out testing the claims is more gullible than critically reviewing and believing there is sufficient evidence to believe in the claims.
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        Apr 26 2013: Hi Chris, Dawkins is just one atheist, with a higher profile than most. There is not an atheist dogma. We dont even agree on the definition of atheist most the time. His views on Christianity are his own.

        I agree it seems he picks on the most literalist interpretations often. But I suggest a fair portion of Christians believe in some of these aspects.

        As an atheist you can only speak about the specifics of one religious belief system at a time.

        Personally I have found no compelling evidence or sufficient reasoning to believe in any god or goddesses concepts that warrant being called gods or goddesses, even the deistic. The more specific beliefs contradict so can not all be correct. The ones I have looked have their own rationale why theirs is correct, which I have found flawed
        Eg resurrection, no proof it happened
        Koran could only come from god, not convincing.
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        Apr 27 2013: Hi chris if you would accept the stories and claims of miracles and eye witnesses for the bible, why not for all the other religions?

        Isnt it possible humans built up the stories for their own purposes, borrowing from other religions, to build a legend, and fit a messianic profile.

        No independent mention of jesus, his existence, his miracles, his crucifixion, during his life. No way to separate fact from fantasy.

        He didn't even write anything down.

        Apparently tombs opened up and saints were walking around, yet nothing recorded ever found outside of biased followers.

        We seem to have different standards of evidence.

        Its all possible, but so is every other similar myth.

        If your particular interpretation is correct it seems god is incompetent, or obtuse, or the catchall very mysterious ways
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        Apr 28 2013: And im just disagreeing that if something is in scripture or oral stories even if they describe miracles in front of witnesses then that is sufficient proof of extraordinary claims.

        The bible says the red sea parted in front of all the hebrews. I just don't find the bible says so sufficient

        I also get you may differentiate between some religious writings and stories based on some code, and look for connections. Not sure how maori creation stories fit in your world view, or aztec, or Babylonian.

        Im not chastising. Just stating my point of view that religious writings, even with codes is not sufficient evidence there is a god and associated miracles or even the words and actions attributed to jesus or moses were actually said by them. Could be. But the more extraordinary the claim, the more i would be looking for evidence to corroborate.

        Actually you seem to be referring to non kabella practitioners as preschoolers.

        There are messages even in the trivial sense that we can take from scriptures. Homosexuality and materialism bad etc in the bible. We can see parallels or make connections that can apply to our lives today. People are people. Why should we be surprised if religious writings say things relevant to the human condition. You say you have an understanding of some deeper level messages. Fine. These messages may not be from a god. There may not be a god. This could all be man made.

        Say a religious scripture makes a prediction that comes to fruition. Does that make every other claim in it something we should accept without further evidence?

        Based on what you have described, i haven't heard anything that makes me think it more likely a god exists. Just my point of view - possible but convincing.

        One can ask for evidence. We have different perspectives on the evidence and come to different conclusions. Im not trying to change your mind. Just engaging in a discussion.

        You claim your point of view is the truth. For me your view is an open question.
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        Apr 28 2013: Hi chris, i define atheist as not having a belief in gods. It does not mean i claim to know there are no gods or goddesses. In my opinion theists or deists i have come across haven't met the burden of proof that their concept of god exists.

        No issue if they disagree. People can believe what they want.

        Not sure why you think you need to be a theist to have an opinion on gods, religion etc. im not a classical musician or economist. So should i refrain from expressing an opinion on these too?
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        Apr 28 2013: Hi chris, im just a human being.
        I have one of the most powerful brains/minds we have reasonable evidence actually exist, along with other humans. Yet most of us are not that well equipped to understand even the highest levels of scientific knowledge our species has achieved. And we have intuition engines for quick assumption making, primal instincts, limited senses, social considerations, that may impair even our limited ability to reason.

        I think my point that if your view is correct, from what little i understand of it, then god or whatever has not done a great job of being convincing that it exists in a particular form to the masses, or open minded but reasonably sceptical people.

        The bits of the bible that you would consider should be taken non literally are not the reason i am an atheist. I have investigated other beliefs and various arguments for the existence of gods, and for me it remains an open question, with insufficient reason or evidence to believe in any of them i have looked at. Every theist or deist has or had their own view, so i dont know all god views. Just what i have seen, over many years seems to point to spiritual beliefs being cultural constructs, informed by unreliable interpretations of so called conflicting revelations that may just be psychologica phenomena. The more generic arguments i have examined are also flawed, fallacious, or insufficient in my opinion.

        I wouldn't say atheism is comforting for me. Its just honest. I have no contempt for religion in general. No issue with love based beliefs. I do oppose the hate based beliefs. I look at each relious or spiritual view on its merits with my limited capabilities coming to the best but imperfect conclusions i am capable of. My views today are more refined than 10 years ago, and very different from 29 years ago. I expect they will continue to evolve.

        I have no contempt for people honestly exploring, putting forward their point of view. I just find some positions wrong or unproven.
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        Apr 28 2013: Also, i am time pressed sometimes so often dont add the words that soften what i say, so the tone may come across as blunt.

        I not angry or stirred up when commenting. Occasionally a little perplexed.

        Actually a little bit of frustration is fine, just not violence or attacking the person.

        Sometimes disagreeing bluntly with a religious world view that is part of a persons deeply held beliefs, can be felt as a personal attack, but i try to address the ideas and not judge the person,

        Re your question, i answered it in part above about the comfort factor. There are so many views of gods and goddesses, i dont have a strong view on most. Im not sure it is contempt but god concepts requiring animal or human sacrifice or create beings and send many to eternal torment are not really something to respect imo. Loving gods, no problem.hating jealous gods, not so good.

        I apologise if my disagreement on some religious points of view comes across as contempt. That is not my intent. Im just trying to unpack the arguments, consider and respond. Some i just find flawed just as christians find mormon or islamic arguments for why their doctrine is correct flawed. The uncaused cause argument is a pretty poor one in my view after years of consideration. If an argument is fallacious and i point it out, this is discussion, not contempt.

        As i have stated, smarter, wiser, more compassionate people than i ascribe to contradictory religious and spiritual beliefs, that i find unsubstantiated. If anything, i may discuss energetically, but i appreciate the stickiness, attraction, even the way our minds are amenable to agency assumption, profound psychological experiences, tied to these beliefs. I appreciate these belifs are linked to identity and meaning. But we should be able to debate and discuss and disagree peacefully, even if it upsets or frustrates people at times.

        Again, i try look at the ideas and arguments. In some cases i think the argument is flawed and i say so.
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        Apr 28 2013: Other times the ideas or arguments are better than my own, so i take them on board.

        There was one discussion where someone stated given there either is a god or not, two outcomes, so the probability of a god existing is 50%. I disagree, point out why, wait for a response, read, understand, and still disagree, try again to explain primary school probability. In the end no issue if we agree to disagree.

        I think another source if tension is god is a psychological plug that works for some even though it just pushes back questions.

        As an atheist, you come across so many variants of god beliefs, that contradict and can not all be correct. You argue one god concept on a particular point, then another pops up that is not unreasonable on that particular point. its like the hammer game hitting hamsters. I guess i need to be more careful. Maybe someone on ted has found the absolute truth and has sufficient evidence of this.

        I also disagree with other atheists on some god or religion related topics.
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        Apr 28 2013: I agree chris faith is a personal choice in free countries.

        A really good question is what would it take to convince most atheists that an invisible, immaterial, interventionist god exists.

        I guess a powerful and smart god could be more obvious if it chose to. Its not for me to guess or judge the intent of gods, but others claim to know. Im not sure if there is a hell in your view. The idea of helping and assisting is beneficial or at least benign. Other views if correct, well i would have hoped a god that would send you to hell for not meeting its conditions should be more obvious.

        If a god was as obvious as the moon, or another person, well is that too much to ask. As it is there is barely a hint that gods exist in terms of evidence. Most theists point to humans having god beliefs and other indirect and inconclusive evidence, or personal experiences which i find hard to differentiate from experiences with no supernatural component. They could just be going on in our head. Then nde, which could also be in peoples heads. Etc. there are those that believe honestly they have seen faeries or been abducted by aliens. Could be, but as it stands we dont have sufficient evidence imo.

        I agree this is only based on my limited life experience and senses. Others may have found compelling evidence, or have latched onto some spiritual truth via some other mysterious channel.

        Again, others may disagree and that is fine. I have no issue with people choosing to practice peaceful religions. But also see no issue discussing and debating regardless of my status as a believer or non believer in any particular faith.

        We probably stand together defending or supporting freedom of religion within reasonable limits.
  • Apr 19 2013: Absolutely!
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      Apr 21 2013: I guess what is taken literally and what metaphorically depends on the sect, teachers, scholarly or lay person opinion.

      My pastor taught flood literal, revelations, symbolic etc.

      Others see codes etc.

      I guess there are more genuine pasters and christiansd than shonks and manipulators. Not sure if the pastor profession, priesthood etc attracts more than the general population. But there and many livelihoods financially linked to organised and new age beliefs, and a few full time atheists.

      Thanks for expanding.
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      Apr 21 2013: I'm not sure you got my point.
      Any number of miracles, if they occurred don't mean the bible is 100% correct.
      If jesus ressurected, it is just a mystery unless you believe a particular interpretation or , or expansion.

      Lazurous ressurected apparently, that does not make him a god. Just a mystery.

      If Jesus ressurected we have another mystery. Its another leap of faith to believe he is a god or any interrptetation.
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          Apr 22 2013: No im just saying you need a reasonable case to believe every claim in the bible or how they are interpreted. Resurrection even if it occurred does not mean every other claim or interpretation of the various verses is correct.

          You might believe you have a reasonable case to believe in particular interpretations of the bible.

          Re lazurus, the bible claims jesus resurrected him. We dont know whether jesus did or how he did even if lazurus did rise from the dead. unless there is evidence or a compelling reason to believe what is written. Actually one gospel states there were many dead resurrected.

          Even something that qualified as a miraculous prophecy e.g predicting the moon would change into a red crystal, and this occurred, does not mean the claim god did it, or the rest of the bible is correct. But it would be a mystery deserving enquiry, and suggest the book should be taken more seriously.

          I don't know enough about your reasons for believing in the bible to refute or agree. Consistency with other old scriptures, prophecies fulfilled, special knowledge etc etc, does not mean every verse, claim, or interpretation is correct.
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          Apr 28 2013: Hi chris, i guess my point on the resurrection may not be clear.
          If it did happen, then there are more assumptions required if you are to believe jesus is a god.
          You have to believe more that is written in the bible about jesus and the ressurection.
          Otherwise you just have mystery.

          A man was killed. Then he came alive.
          We have no idea how it happened, unless you believe the bible is true in regards to the relevant details.

          Jesus could be a replicant, an angel, an alien, or just a man healed by advanced technology, or his twin etc etc. unless you believe much of the bible, the event would be a mystery.

          If it happened it doesn't make every claim in the bible correct. The bible mentions jerusalem, and a real place exists consistent with this. We have evidence that the bible is factually correct in this regards. It doesn't mean the rest is correct.

          My point is you need to be predisposed to the rest of the story being correct to believe it. You have to believe the story wasn't embellished or made up in critical details, that the details were recorded correctly, that no one lied or was honestly mistaken, that there are sprits that live on after death, that there is/are gods, that gods can become men etc etc.

          Then think about the implications. Some component of the creator of the universe, became human, and became a blood sacrifice to help prevent some who hear and believe the message going to hell. That the creator was finally taking an interest in non jews. God waited 13 billion years to do this. waited over 100,000 years since humans evolved. God sends people to hell.

          He did this at a time and place and in a way that insufficient evidence was collected to prove it happened. And then he disappeared. Odd.

          I know this is a more traditional christian interpretation, and probably different from yours.

          Anyway, the main point is the resurrection would be an unexplained phenomena, and does not prove jesus is god unless you make a whole bunch of other assumptions
      • Apr 22 2013: Obey, one simple answer should, or could, answer it all.
        There is nothing in the Bible that we are forced to accept or believe. We have total control over our attitude toward spirituality (that's what makes us human).

        The one single and most important advice Jesus gives is to become as little children. That does not mean handing in everything we know. All that is needed is the characteristic attitude of a child, which is to have the willingness to be lead. One result of that "attitude" would be to say, I believe it is the truth because Jesus says so.

        To me, the 100% consistency between what it says, spiritually, in Genesis and Revelation is the very reason I've become a Swedenborgian.

        No one has ever or will ever be forced to believe anything they don't want to believe. To believe something is to love it. Love cannot exist where there is no freedom. This applies to God as well as a spouse. And maybe even to sports :)

        One of you usual responses is, there are so many religions, but only one can be right. That is not how the spirit works. It sounds like, there are many marriages but only one can be right. It is not a 1+1=2 situation. There is not one human being that is the same as another. We all have our different loves, gifts and preferences. We all can love our 'higher power' in our own, and different way. The more pixels in a picture the more perfect that picture becomes.

        Heaven is meant to be a perfect picture of humanity. That's why people going to heaven, first go through 3 stages to adjust and learn. There are no such stages for the ones that want to go to hell because they refuse all help and cannot accept truths.
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          Apr 28 2013: Hi Adriaan,

          If you have to give up critical thinking, rely on faith rather than evidence, then you can believe anything. You will probably end up with lots of conflicting beliefs because there is no obvious truth or evidence to tie your beliefs too.

          That verse to be like children can be interpreted more than one way. One way is that god is so etherial, nearly non existent, that it helps if you have a child's intellect, naivety etc. its one aspect of faith based belief systems rely on in part.

          If your argument is to believe in god you need to stop looking for evidence, stop thinking critically, well it just ties into god concepts being psychological constructs.

          Expanding My usual point ... Some theists see there views as mutually exclusive from others. You seem to focus on the similarities and ignore or gloss over the contradictions, the unproven claims. So basically you are asserting that traditional christians, muslims, jews, mormons, who adhere to the standard dogmas are wrong, but it doesn't matter that much.

          Personally i choose not to try and believe in unsubstantiated claims. I prefer the best available explanations or admitting i dont know. actually for some of us its hard to believe in what is unbelievable even if you try. Spirit, gods, life after death,angels, demons etc they could exist, but seem manmade concepts without compelling evidence. I tried to be a christian for years, and the more i investigated it and other beliefs the more the dogma and more generic god beliefs seemed unsubstantiated.

          If god created me, it made someone who tries to use the brain he gave me, and the knowledge species has developed, and can not trick myself into believing what seems false, so it made me knowing i would go to hell, because to the best of my ability it does not exist, it might, but so might any other speculative imagining.
      • Apr 29 2013: Hello Obey,
        "If you have to give up critical thinking, rely on faith rather than evidence, then you can believe anything."
        Never have I said that, or ever will. I stronly believe that science and religions are from the same Source. I constantly see evidence around me that a loving God exists. That we have the freedom and the tools to become the best people we possibly can. Being human, however, gives us the option to use the gifts we have for bad and evil purposes instead and become the worst possible person we can become.
        There is plenty of eviddence of both roads taken.

        Just this morning this quote was sent
        “Being able to provide arguments to support whatever you want is not intelligence; intelligence is being able to see that what is true is true.”
        True Christian Religion 334, Emanuel Swedenborg

        You seem to focus entirely on the physical side of life and will not except the existence of the spiritual world. Any one with possitive doubt towards the spirit can fill in the doubt many times with support for the spirit. The present millions of NDE's, the 'system' of life on three levels/kingdoms.

        There were 12 tribes of Israel, Jerusalem had 12 gates, there are the 12 steps with AA (as an aside, AA was co-founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. Bill Wilson first came into contact with Swedenborg's writings in the summer of 1915 while falling in love with Lois Burnham. Lois was the granddaughter of the Rev. N.C. Burnham, a Swedenborgian scholar), 12 Apostels.
        To make a long story short, 12 means everything good from truth that makes up a church, and every person is a micro-church. That's why everyone who accepts goods and truths in his/her life and applies them, is and will become an angel.

        Chosing to be negative towards this principle is, willingly, to shoot oneself in the foot. All twelve of them :)

        BTW the Bible is full of number-systems with spiritual meanings. 1, 3, 7, 12, 40, 144000 to name a few. The spiritual evidence is convincing, NDE or not
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    Apr 18 2013: Dear Don Wesley,
    Thank you for your insight. I feel that I have opened Pandora's Box with my question, but I am glad I did. Let me suggest a variation on the question I had asked earlier. Are Republicans/Democrats gullible? Now I think I would likely get an equally vocal response to this question from a different set of contributors but I would contend that the question is equally valid or invalid as the question regarding faith and religion. I still contend, particularly after this conversation, that we as a people must begin to insist on moderation and reason in dealing with our societal issues. This implies tolerance, forgiveness, kindness and consideration. This isn't a rellgion but common sense.
    • Apr 19 2013: Gord, my personal view is that, indeed, if aspects of a religion do not connect and are not supported by our "common sense" it should be really deeply examined.

      In fact an often heard response to Swedenborg's Writings is "This is a religion that makes sense" The often contradicting literal text is unified, and make perfect sense, in their spiritual meanings.
      Our definition of "faith" is "an internal [mental] acknowledgement of truth." IOW if we don't understand something, we cannot believe it, acknowledge it as truth.
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        Apr 21 2013: Common sense may have cultural or societal dimensions.
        E.g someone from a christian infused cultural may laugh at reincarnation, and buddha being born out of his mothers side after she was impregnated by a ray of light, thinking this fails the common sense test, yet believe virgin births, resurrections and angels etc.

        You might consider magical souls, and a spiritual realm common sense whereas i find it highly speculative etc. im doubtful of swedenborgs claims of talking to spirits on other planets, just the planents known at the time, not neptune.

        However i agree in regards to practical instructions that make sense in their own right e.g. Buddhism's middle path between asceticism and materialism.

        Your definition of faith is a bit circular potentially, and differs from other common definitions.
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    Apr 18 2013: Gullibility I think works both ways especially where narrow, singular beliefs are concerned.

    If one had a balanced and empathic view of the various ways in which people make sense of the world, the less gullible one would become, in my view.

    A person of faith might actually see you as gullible, if your views are too narrowly atheistic and non-empathic towards 84% of the world's population:


    I am not a man of faith myself, but in realising that religions are not going to go away anytime soon, I try my best to understand why people do have faith. I'm guessing that faith is just as much a psychological imperative to those many people as much as substantiating facts are for you.

    What are your thoughts?
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      Apr 18 2013: I don't want to suggest that 84% of the world is gullible but only that those people of faith that are not sceptical either lack the inclination or the resources to examine there beliefs critically. I must admit that the conversation started here has more or less confirmed that view, which speaks well for this forum. I don't proffess to be an atheist and I don't think that refusing to accept the dogma of an organized religion is a castigation of any religion but rather a statement of my own independant analysis. Take the time to read the various comments on this question and ask yourself if they don't reflect a variety of mindsets resulting from analyses of various depths. These differing viewpoints only, in my opinion, serve to point out the lack of a consensus on the veracity of religous dogma or beliefs. Again that is not to say any one of them is right but only that there remains a substantial basis for disagreement.
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    Apr 18 2013: Dear All

    We as human live under the same sky; humanity and universe are interconnected, no matter where we are in the world. Together we are all united as one force in the universe.

    In Joy & In Peace
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    Apr 18 2013: This conversation is very interesting and I am enjoying the insights shared by my commenter friends.
    Hi Gordon! I wish you happiness and continued love and caring that your family has offered you. I notice with fondness that your daughter also took part in the conversation. As I stated earlier, faith is the inseparable ingedient of human consciousness - your family has shown it by not giving up during your recovery.
    There are endless debates on religious beliefs and the position of faith in it. I think I would have reacted a bit differently had your opening statement been more elaborate. After you explained your position somewhat, I feel inclined to share with you my two pence :)
    First, it is true that when something becomes organized, organization starts to become more important than its constituent members. You told that you don't like it. I'd say that is an inviolable property of organization from definition. Your biological body is an organization, it is a splendidly complex participatory process where each cell matters. However elevated our sense of 'self' be, this is an inviolable truth because this organization keeps you alive. A dead person does not introspect. However, how this organization will manifest in greater organizations like say society or culture are guided by morality.
    Religion is an organized belief. I agree with Chris that scriptures were written in symbolism and it is not the fault of the scriptures if people make literal meaning out of it. But disagree that it has any 'science' in it, implicit or explicit, because science remains open to test and falsification - the hidden messages in scriptures don't. When as an organization religion, or more precisely scriptures, manifests in greater organizations, again societies and cultures, it needs to conform to moral standards.
    Things start to get complicated here.
    Religion seeks to determine morality. God is the absolute good and authority of morality.
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  • Apr 17 2013: Part 1:

    This is an interesting conversation. I have read every post and comment and have found every person’s post to be reasonable, at least in the context of their stated realities. I try to remain open-minded, and I try not to be judgmental. I do not always succeed. Please bare with me.

    I should probably mention that I am Gordon’s daughter; however, at 50 years old I can say that my thoughts and beliefs are based much more upon my own observations, experiences and explorations than any childhood religious indoctrination or, in this case, lack thereof. 

    My professional background lies firmly in the Arts; in my professional youth, the graphic arts and now as a self-employed jewelry designer. I do, however, have a deep love and appreciation for the scientific world. I also love myths and legends, although I largely appreciate them as teaching tools and cautionary tales, rather than as literal historical documentation. I simply cannot align myself with any sort of dogmatic religious organization. It’s an authority issue, I suppose. I resent being told what to think, believe and feel, especially if it is contrary to what my heart believes is fair and just. I have explored many religious schools of thought over the years, from several Christian churches to paganism and even Wicca. I have the same issue with all of them, which my father stated so eloquently: “I am not a fan of organized anything because almost invariably the organization becomes more important than its members.”

    In my view, when a group becomes so large that the membership begins to support the organization, rather than the other way around, it has lost its way.

    It won't all fit in one post, so the rest will be posted separately.
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    Apr 17 2013: Gordon you might need to define what you mean by faith.
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      Apr 17 2013: Read the reply he said to me :
      "Clearly my use of "faith" was more in the context of religous belief that the more general use."
      When I pointed this out.
      Thanks Bernard.
      Hope I haven't tacked anything out of context!
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        Apr 18 2013: Thanks Bernard. I saw that, and thought some further clarification would be useful.

        Otherwise I will assume he means are people with religious beliefs are gullible, I guess.
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    Apr 16 2013: Hi Gordon,

    There are all kinds of people of faith.
    I have met gullible ones and wise ones.

    Belief is a silly word - it is the same as perception .. a human does not store facts, brains simply evolve perceptions .. if a perception proves to be reliable, we call it a fact, if it has no consequence or cannot be tested, we call it faith.

    If we fail to observe a test of a faith, then we are gullible.
    If we fail to test a proof of faith, then we are gullible.

    But this state of gullibility is a downside of having a neural network as our Bayesian engine. Neural nets are prone to entrenched local minima - for instance, you can train a neural net to recognise the letters of the alphabet, but with insufficient training, it might learn the letter Q as the letter O .. once it gets this perception, it is difficult to re-train it .. it will "persist" in the belief that Q is O ... it has faith in O.

    Also look at this .. it might be more cogent to your question:
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      Apr 17 2013: Not quite sure I get your point don. Are you suggesting faith is required to address man made suffering?

      If so, I suggest your just need a values framework that aims to reduce suffering whatever the source - some aspects of some religions, ethics, philosophy, humanism etc
  • Apr 16 2013: This looks more like a statement than a question. You seem to have devoted and made your mind supportive of Scientism. Whatever science cannot detect or prove, does not exist. Too bad.

    We have the freedom to completely ignore and deny the existence of a spiritual realm. The one thing that usually changes that 'mindset' is a Near Death Experience. Usually.

    I see it as living in a basement and not acknowledging the higher floors. But if that makes you happy and also a kind person.. fine. Science is limiting your eternity.

    There are so many parallels between our individual development (body and spirit) and mankind's development (which are hidden in the Bible). Someone who is consistent must be in charge.
    Heart and lungs--will and intellect.
    Digestive system--mental process of ideas.
    Blood system--Love.

    Creation Story--the human spiritual development
    Tabernacle--the human spiritual environment
    Egypt -> Canaan--human process from being natural to becoming spiritual.
    Etc., etc.

    Science cannot detect or measure what we love, or think, other than what our receiver (brain) displays. Why? Wouldn't it be nice if we could detect someone thinking and planning to set-off a bomb?!

    One requirement to become positive to this is, as said, become like little children. That does not mean we have to empty our mind and give up all we learned and know.
    It means to have the humility to see our limits and allow ourselves to be lead.

    We have been given freedom and reason, all we have to do is use them wisely.
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      Apr 16 2013: I just think the higher floors hypothesises are highly speculative and many aspects of religious experience are natural brain states or abnormal ones most likely.

      I agree with your final statement. No issue if we come to different conclusions and don't harm others.
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        Apr 16 2013: Your comment reminded me of something I read:

        "Our thinking can prevent uf from seeing clearly in the present moment. We get caught up in thinking we know what we are seeing and feeling. Just being familiar with this deeply entrenched pattern and watching it as it happens can lead to greater nonjudgmental receptivity and acceptance."

        "What's good for the goose, is also good for the gander"
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          Apr 17 2013: True.

          I guess there is an optimal balance between being open to new information, ideas, explanations, evidence, and changing your stance appropriately, and still testing these ideas, to not giving up on your world view every time you hear a different opinion.

          Critical thinking for you ideas and beliefs, not just others.

          I find ted makes me test my current beliefs, think about them, while responding and considering other views. I've incorporated better ideas I have heard. If you hear 20 conflicting views you can not accept them all into your world view.

          Some views will be wrong in fact or very subjective. Others are just points of view and equally valid.

          I hope we agree that not all the conflicting views can be correct, or that not all positions are equally thought through critically or developed.
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        Apr 17 2013: "I hope we agree that not all the conflicting views can be correct, or that not all positions are equally thought through critically or developed."

        I think I can agree with this statement.
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      Apr 17 2013: Adriaan
      I have a considerable respect for Science and a degree in Physics. However, I do not deny the existence of a supreme being I simply cannot except the century old doctrine within the Scriptures that have been edited by one or more churches and called the "Word of God". Since the time of Emperor Constantine the Christian Church (Catholic) has tuned pagan worship to satisfy the beliefs that Christ was a deity and not just a kind and thoughtful human. I don't doubt that similar editing has occured for many of the other religions as well. However the roles of Moses,Muhamed or Buddha seem to be more as prophets than deities. Now I am no authority on religion and my personal experience was in the Lutheran Church but I must remain sceptical of the stories within the Bible. Genesis and the Great Flood both are troublesome and ring of myth not truth. Thats only my opinion however.
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          Apr 17 2013: Hi Chris, many an evangelical would disagree with you.
          I was taught the flood story literally.
          Freaked me out a bit as a Sunday school kid. God drowned everyone? Really?
          The seeds of doubt begin.

          Also most belonging to most religions would disagree.

          I'm with Gordon, that most likely a man called Jesus lived, and some of his followers and Paul who never met Jesus started a small cult Jewish sect that later they decided to include non Jews, and somewhere a critical influential mass deified him etc.

          While I don't know if he resurrected and doubt it, even if he did it doesn't make him a god, or the bible the literal word, or anything to do with any actual deity. Its just a mystery. I figured that out in my teens.

          Similarly if some old religious texts have some code or symbolism it does not mean it is not man made, misinterpreted or a mystery. IMO.
      • Apr 17 2013: Gordon it was a pleasure to read your response. Just one request, please do not see my response as coming from a traditional or fundamental Christian. I'm sure you'll notice a difference :)

        One reason for the Bible to be written the way it is, is because it was meant for many generations over many ages, possibly millions of years. And thus was adjusted to be received by mankind with very different mental and spiritual developments. There existed Revelation before Genesis, which was copied by Mozes and became the first 10 chapters of Genesis. More about that later.

        Another reason is that nothing, and I mean nothing in the Bible has any relevance or connection to this physical world. Not even the Creation Story. It is all about the spiritual side of mankind. As Jesus said about His own words, they were all 'spirit and life.'

        The first 10.5 chapters of Genesis were made-up history, as an index of what the rest of the Old Testament is all about. The internal meaning of the text is a spiritual application for each individual that ever was or will be. This physical world was not created in 7 days neither were serpents able to talk at that time. The people mentioned were belief systems, the number of their ages were indications of their spiritual quality. The Garden of Eden is a heavenly mind-set, because it focuses on the proper 'tree.' This is the tip, of the tip, etc of the infinite 'iceberg.'

        Swedenborg wrote 12 volumes just dealing with Genesis and Exodus, word for word. Please have a look at the first one, which, obviously, also deals with the Creation Story and what Adam and Eve were.

        I'd love to hear your reaction, but also please do not think that a loving God would sent you to hell if you don't agree with this!
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    Apr 16 2013: Show me one who does not have faith. All human beings are people of faith whether or not they follow scriptures. May be all human beings are gullible?
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      Apr 17 2013: I agree we all are to a greater or lessor degree in different areas of life.

      I guess Gordon is just focusing on faith based religious beliefs.its a reasonable question to explore. People believe in or have believed in thousands of deities, with probably millions of specific interpretations and conflicting dogmas.

      A couple say you have to cut off your foreskin. Some order murder, regulate and endorse slavery etc. Probably worth pausing to consider if these beliefs past some attempt at critical thinking.
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        Apr 17 2013: Ob, I notice that the word 'faith' has become synonymous with religious belief in western culture or cultures where Christianity remained predominant religion. So I understand that Gordon has used it in religious context.
        But for a person like I, who come from a different culture and has no affiliation to any religion, the dictionary meaning of faith, the primary meaning I mean, is what counts.
        Such faith is at the core of human consciousness. From that point we all are people of faith. I think that does not make us gullible. This faith, or a leap of it, can make us do things that go into history.
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      Apr 17 2013: Pabitra and Obey,
      Perhaps we are all gullible to some degree in different areas of life, and Gordon DOES specify scripture, and religion in the indroduction to this discussion. In another comment to me, he also writes..."I am not a fan of organized anything because almost invariably the organization becomes more important than its members. This is particularly true of some religions and labor unions." So, in my perception, he has a certain focus, and a good question.

      I agree with you Obey, that people have believed in many deities, many interpretations and conflicting dogmas. The focus of this discussion seems to be a question of whether some folks are gullible with their blind acceptance of practices, or whether there is any attempt at thinking, feeling or evaluating the purpose of, and the ramifications of these practices?
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        Apr 17 2013: Dear Colleen,
        I have never seen or met you. All I have is your pictures and a glimpse of your mind. I adore the idea of Colleen who is my friend. Am I gullible?
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          Apr 17 2013: You dear Pabitra, are the only one who knows for sure if you are gullible or not:>)

          My perception of you is that you do, in fact, assimilate and evaluate information, and make decisions for yourself:>)
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        Apr 17 2013: And I learn every single moment. And I pass it on. I love to think that half a century from now when Pabitra will not be typing here anymore, information will be still here for anyone to see (hopefully in TED) that a gullible person had faith in compassionate connection. :)
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    Apr 16 2013: i think not. maybe those that are converted at their late teens or adulthood. most people are born into a religion, and it just became a habit before they were able to even think about it. i'd say that the emotions and motives underlying have nothing to do with faith. more with security and stability.

    to rephrase, gullible is the man that takes an idea with no reason, religious is the man that refuses to give up an idea despite reason.
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      Apr 16 2013: Plato made the same observation but with opposite application: QUOTE: "“Not one of them who took up in his youth with this opinion that there are no gods, ever continued until old age faithful to his conviction.”—Plato
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    Apr 16 2013: Belief is an important aspect for being human.

    Belief is cognitive mechanism by which a person transforms positive or negative information in her / his direction – action occurs in the context of cultural belief and values that render it meaningful.
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      Apr 16 2013: Belief and faith are two different things. Did you know this?
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    Apr 29 2013: Perhaps instead of practicing Neo-Atheism, the question of what makes people gullible in general can shred light on some issues here...

    First off, people of faith? I will assume 'religious fundamentalist' is your inference, since faith is STRONG belief and as emotional intelligence theory suggest - the separation between emotions and reason are not the fine line philosophers would love to suggest. I have faith humanity will not destroy itself, faith that European countries (plus America) will stop being ignorant toward foreign policies... Yeah I guess that makes me gullible, since the contrary of these faith-based thoughts are more likely.

    So, what makes a group of people gullible? Or an individual within a group? (social cognition studies)

    Well, like I am sure you read some fine atheist materials (blogs, forums, articles, etc) we can call them scripture. Yet, they are not ancient nor bound to predisposed organizations (per say), but many people would have read the same scriptures and would have based mutual arguments off of them. What we have here is the idea of 'people' letting 'people' know what to think. Well that is a part of human thinking... When I want to know if something is worth thinking, I research or find someone who has the knowledge to get me started with that certain thinking. How can I at any point begin to Question without having known previous answers, questions and solutions to previous Questions?

    Essentially what makes people gullible is a state of emotional acceptance they involve themselves with others in order to be comfortable with overall cognition.

    A child will accept your candy without thinking you're a stranger, but thinking candy brings them joy. Emotions trumped reasoning, but not a fair example, since as adults we think about what makes us happy as a part of our reasoning.... right?

    What you want is a justified way to insult individuals who practice dogmas and biased band wagon thoughts... hard to do when guilty of such....
  • Apr 27 2013: Food for thought
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      Apr 28 2013: Is that you speaking about yourself. If so, human. Homo sapien.
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      Apr 28 2013: It is interesting to note that in scripture we read in the first book of the Bible that the way Eve was deceived is that she was told...."eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, and you will be like God".

      I see things haven't changed all that much since then.

      Humans continue to desire to be like God. To be in control of their own destiny. To be independent from a higher power. To answer to noone but themselves.

      The good thing is........we have the free will to do so. That's nice, isn't it? :)

      Be Well.
  • Apr 22 2013: The question was gullible, not stupid. Believing in the Easter bunny past what, ten, would be gullible and stupid. Spiritual realm, Unifying force, Quantum mechanics, take your pick at defining things, fine,but biblical scripture? Shoe doesn't fit anymore, theoretically or spiritually.
  • Apr 19 2013: Let me elaborate if you would. In essence the psychological evolution of man has grown and developed in stages, for once we thought electricity in the sky was generated by angry gods only centuries ago, and today we are able to define it and manipulate in many wonderful ways. Does that make it then a gift from God? I think not. For how would a just 'god' present a gift and then kill people with it?
    Of the 10s of thousands of religions Christianity Muslims and Islamist all claim to be the one true religion. Why argue when they are all irrelevant and have wrought more harm than the good they supposedly promote. Of the 10s of millions of species on the planet why are we the only, ONLY species that shows any reverence towards a higher deity? Not one other. Dolphins might, but they are too busy avoiding Buhdist fisherman in Japan. Gorillas might but we are slaughtering them before we develop the technology to truly communicate with them and other intelligent life forms here on Earth.

    Just a thought
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      • Apr 20 2013: Yes Chris that seems to be the way. I see the stages you mentioned very much as a parallel between a developing individual and the development over the many, many ages of humanity.

        I very much hope that in maybe a hundred years or less, Science will calm down and realize that it has limits of research and knowledge. When that happens the two, science and spirit, can come together and see each other as having the one and the same Source. God.
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        Apr 21 2013: Is a cosmic age made up of 12 segments? if a c a is 25k years, it goes far beyond human history, about 5 to 10 k, but not much written or surviving for much of this.

        Also, we dont know much about beliefs for the first 100 to 200 k of modern humans prehistory.
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        Apr 28 2013: Thanks chris 2160 years would have less issues with our understanding of history and prehistory.

        I had a quick look at root races. Hopefully wikipedias article does it credit. Fascinating. I can kind of make sense of it. Also some tenuous connections to some literature i have read. But as you probably expect, the first time someones comes accross something like this, they may not leap to believing it.

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    Apr 18 2013: (next)
    Problem is that there are many religions for many people and no religion for some people (like me). So one religion's set of morality conflicts with others.
    I believe morality and equanimity can develope independent of religion. I think Sam Haris does too :)
    I can live with reasonable happiness, passion, co-operation with others without believing in a God, believing a given symbolism of a scripture and can make general sense of life. I don't need a Gita, Bible or Quran to decide for me thank you. I read them as extra-ordinary texts to appreciate how life had been 3000 or 2000 years ago.
    This sense of morality creates ideals. We put faith in the ideals. If you consider that faith - I think that is essential for life and humanity. There is no gullibility there.
    I am sorry I could not be more succinct.
    Cheers !!
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      Apr 21 2013: Fair enough. Agree pushing the limits of exploring the topic.
  • Apr 17 2013: Lastly:

    I just cannot believe in God in the religious sense. I have tried, but I just cannot do it. If this were true, then in my view God’s behavior is often much like a 12-year-old boy with an ant farm and a magnifying glass.

    “Are people of faith, in fact, gullible?” I think the intellectually honest answer is ‘sometimes’.

    Sorry it was so long - I wrote it out in Word, not noticing the post size limits. Dad would probably confirm that I always did talk a lot. :-)
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      Apr 21 2013: Hi robin, belief is a funny thing.

      I also tried to believe and you can act like you do, and fool others, many can not fool themselves. i couldn't force myself to believe something that increasingly seemed false in so many ways. The more i thought about it and tested it, the more i explored and questioned, the more it seemed false, even though i wanted some of it to be true, to have not wasted years.

      With practice you can construct powerful delusions or beliefs, but when they fail to withstand reasonable scepticism and critical thinking, you can not make your self believe.

      Thanks for sharing.
  • Apr 17 2013: Part 3:

    I’ll probably be asked, so here’s my own personal spiritual belief system. I don’t know how to label it, so I don’t bother trying:

    The earth – within its atmospheric envelope – is a closed system. Matter isn’t created or destroyed; it just changes form.

    I picture ‘God’ as something like a battery; as the power source that fuels it all, the engine that runs the world, but not as a humanistic, thinking Deity that takes sides and casts judgment.

    When a living thing is born, be it a blade of grass or a human child, it draws it’s life force from the energy pool; when it dies, that energy is returned. No more, no less.

    Within our closed system here on earth, the amount of energy remains the same. We have a lot more people now, but fewer animals, fewer trees. Same amount of energy. This fits very well with reincarnation, too. I also ponder the possibility that perhaps much of the ‘sickness’ of the world is due to so much energy being tied up in things that do not decompose readily, thus delaying the energy’s return to the pool. There isn’t a lot of energy in a single discarded tire, but there is some… and a whole lot of them. And we embalm our dead and put them in concrete boxes in the ground, delaying their return to the earth.

    I have come to believe that we are all capable of feeling this energy running through us and the world around us, connecting every thing to every other thing. In animals it is called ‘instinct’ and in people it is called ‘spirit’. I believe prayer, meditation, and sometimes even dreams are a way of tapping into this energy stream, and that some people are capable of consciously manipulating and using that energy for good or ill.

    I don’t believe any of this is ‘supernatural’ because nothing that a living thing is capable of doing is outside nature.
  • Apr 17 2013: Part 2.

    Are religious people gullible? I don’t necessarily think that religious people are gullible, although some certainly are; there are a lot of gullible people out there. I think that – like any other organization – people align themselves with a religion for many different reasons. I do, however, think people may *remain* religious for different reasons than those who *become* religious. In my view, people who are attracted to the stricter, more fundamentalist sects are generally those who are either unwilling or unable to look within themselves – to trust themselves - for the answers they seek, whatever those answers may be. I’ve met quite a few people over the years who seemed to have – to varying degrees - turned to religion as a way of abdicating their personal responsibility for their life, preferring to hand over their personal power to a spiritual leader and wash their hands of the whole decision-making thing.

    Are people of faith gullible? If gullibility (as used in this conversation) is at work, perhaps it is demonstrated in an unwillingness to believe that they, themselves, are capable of spiritual, emotional or philosophical independence.

    In my experience, the more independent people who do believe in a ‘higher power’, theistic or not – myself, included - tend to view that power as akin to their conscience, an advisor, because they have enough faith in their self. For these people, ‘religion’ – if they desire it - seems to be more about community, a structure that supports them in their desire to do good in the world for their own reasons, not because it is required or demanded of them. These are the people who are ‘religious’ out of genuine love, not fear. I respect people like this. They are not gullible, because their religious participation is an informed choice.

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        Apr 17 2013: Hi Don,

        we have a sense of being the same person each day by virtue of the continuity of our memory, and the way our being has been shaped.

        As a child I remember reading Mathew Mark Luke and John over and over .. but always returned to the sermon on the mount. My family were secular .. I just wanted to know what all this god stuff was and pestered my father to dig out the old bible.

        I settled on the sermon, which, along with the parables, formed the only part which made any cognitive sense to me. These seemed true, and although I was just a kid, I resolved to keep an eye open for their veracity .. but it turned out to be uncommon knowledge. As a model of peace and the absolute road to a quality of life, yes .. it was so, but few would conflict their immediate comfort for the sake of faith. And it wasn't even faith .. one could see it happen in every moment. Simple advice, small sacrifice and a path of gold opens up where before was just dirt.

        Unfortunately, that is just the start .. the road leads on beyond the mount - and there is no Jesus for that just yet. the valley of shadow looms.

        Be of good heart - our feet carry us out .. that is what they were made for. If we stop and complain and moan to a heartless god, we will stay in shadow .. with all the comfort-bound.

        I can understand Chris' standpoint. He is in a dark place. He will not be there forever.

        I also understand Gordon's stance It is one of frustration. Many a priest used the gullibility he describes .. abuse .. the Decameron is full of dirty priest jokes .. and De Sade lays-out the truth of darkness unadorned .. if you can bare more than half a page of it, you will not wonder at the depth of darkness that can be plumbed .. and Crowley after him.

        There is no end to darkness. Light is defined. Life can only exist in light.

        The greatest of us are the smallest .. the measure of greatness is to be a light .. to be a light is to be infinite. The difference between nothing and everything is 1/infinity
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          Apr 17 2013: Hi mitch , I suggest the bits of the bible that make sense do so not because they are in the bible, but on their own merit. Some of the themes are similar to other teachings in the axial age, from Confucius, to Buddha, to Jesus, to philosophy, to humansim etc.

          Also, it just makes sense independent of the source, independent of authority, that rampant materialism is not the path to happiness etc.

          If you pick and choose wisely their is some good stuff in the bible. Sadly there is genocide, slavery, hell, orders to kill homosexuals and adulterers etc.

          The sermon on the mount is such a small part of the bible, and not even in all four gospels.

          Perhaps the gullible or credulous part is believing it is all from a creator god and to be accepted and followed.
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        Apr 17 2013: Here is another entry point to what I just said:

        The local minimum.

        The computer program who believes in the letter O.

        He sees a Q and insists - hey look - there is an O!
        Then other computer programs around him say .. "No - the little hangy down bit is useful! - We catch fish with that!"

        And there is program #1 catching only fish that snag on the letter J.

        By and by the Q programs eat more - they have both J and Q .. .. program #1 gets slimmer, the J fish are over-exploited because he and his family cause a stress on J fish, which become less as Q fish become more .. the believers in Q are selected, The O believer dies out along with his family ..

        Or perhaps .. he feels his discomfort and observes the complaints of his children and gets over his faith in O.

        What is a human?

        To get this kind of lesson into a family of baboons requires a dumpster full of tuberculosis.

        Are we any better?

        It is noise.

        Noise gets more when we fail to train-in to the moving world - and pace it correctly.

        If the noise is great enough, it bounces us out of our rut .. or kills us.

        that's the choice .. and it is what Darwin and Jesus both said.
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          Apr 18 2013: So Chris, how do you interpret instructions supposedly from yahweh to kill adulterers, homosexuals, sabbath breakers, and disrespectful children?
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          Apr 18 2013: Hi Chris, then Dawkins doesn't have the same issue with you as he would with the millions of Christians in denominations that endorse the literal virgin birth.

          But I get your point that sometimes atheists focus on the miracles and marvels in the bible or Buddhist mythology. But not having a god beliefs doesn't rely only on attacking these straw men literalist beliefs, but they are either unsubstantiated and in many cases conflict with evidence, eg the creation of man and the universe 6 to 10 k ago vs evolution and 13 billion years.

          My understanding is one if the gnostic gospels , Phillip perhaps talks about a spiritual birth not a literal virgin birth.
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      Apr 17 2013: "......be ready for every good work, ....... speak injuriously of no one, don't be belligerent, be reasonable, exhibit all mildness toward all men."Titus 3:2

      Chris, I perceived his words as sincere.
      Why did you get on the defensive?
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      Apr 17 2013: Which scriptures Chris?
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      Apr 18 2013: Hi Chris,

      We go in and out of dark places. The process is endless.
      Sometimes we get stuck.
      This is just an observation - not a value judgement.
      It is clear that Gordon has reached a dark place - an observation of the dangers inherent in blind faith. It's almost a tautology, but clearly has brought some angst which Gordon seeks to resolve in conversation.

      Here is a conjecture:
      The denizens of hell have free licence to torture each other without let or hindrance.
      Those in heaven are free to illuminate each other without limit.
      And this is the test of one's spiritual location.
      It is rarely absolute, but this small compass may help us navigate the spiritual topology we traverse.
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          Apr 18 2013: Believe me - I have dark days.
          When there is not even enough light to illuminate my little compass, all I can do is lift my collar and trudge trudge trudge ...
          I suppose that's my version of blind faith.
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        Apr 18 2013: Here is a problem you might be able to help me with:

        "Shadows are cast by what is certain"

        This is a kind of paraphrase from a Buddhist thing .. but it gets me thinking.

        Sure .. we need structure .. there is no freedom without it.

        But the beams of our structures also create these shadows.

        Another wise man mentioned beams and motes .. or so I understand.

        What's your take?
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    Apr 16 2013: Hello Gordon Taylor, (Nice to meet you!)
    This is a very interesting question.
    I wouldn't say "faith" is gullible, I mean we have "faith" in our partners, and "faith" in inductive reasoning!
    I suppose a better way of framing what I am trying to say, is that should we have faith in things which we don't understand, for example : I have belief (/faith) that String theory is, indeed, a credible theory! Yet I don't understand "string theory".
    I mean I feel I would say there is such thing as "rational faith", I mean if X happens every 10 minutes, you can conclude it is likely that X will happen again in 10 minutes. I would call this a form of "rational faith".
    Yet I would encourage independent thought, and to decide things for yourself.
    While with religion, it does depend on the context greatly!
    Hope this helps! :D

    EDIT : It's a bit like this: I have a rock in my hand. Now should you have faith / trust in me?
    While on a slightly different note, I do feel that religion encourages many positive aspects!
    Like a sense of community, it gives people "moral guidance", and gives them things which shall remind them of their morality! (E.G The cross.) Yet this wasn't the question!
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      Apr 16 2013: Bernard
      Good point. Clearly my use of "faith" was more in the context of religous belief that the more general use. I am so frequently subjected to faith-based, people of faith, etc. that I tend to associate the word faith with religion. Now take for example the belief that the universe is finite and expanding based on doppler shift measurements. Now I don't understand the concept of a finite universe but I do understand doppler shift. My problem is understanding what exists beyond the boundary of the universe. If it nothing then that is as incomprehensible to me as an infinite universe. This is a conundrum for me but it doesn't mean I don't believe it just means I don't understand the nature of the universe, but neither does anyone else, or if they do they haven't told me. My only objective is to stimulate thought regarding moderation adn reason both of which seem to be lacking, particularly in the vocal segments of the religous community.
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        Apr 16 2013: :)
        I agree. I mean I don't even understand what the "doppler shift measurements", so I am completely in the dark!
        While is "faith" (in the religious sense) gullible (or reasonable)?
        I am not sure, I mean I suppose it is true to the letter, that many people base their belief in "God" (from usually experiencing it!), so in that sense it does seem more reasonable to admit it is mostly faith. Yet I can see no reason, to claim that you should have faith in any deity? I mean there are too cultural variables! (E.G Where your born!)
        So in this sense, yes maybe faith is reasonable description yet at the same time slightly gullible depending on the context! However if I defined God as the "Original cause", then it would make no sense to have "faith", unless you thought that the external world might not be real.

        However I would say there are rational reasons (The cosmoglocial arugment + the teitological argument) to why many believe in a Pantheistic/Deist God, yet I can never understand a "Theist" God! While with regard to these theological arguments, I am not certain they do imply a agent or a conscience creator! I mean the fine-tuning may just be a fact, and there may be no real cause to the universe! :P
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        Apr 17 2013: Hi Gordon,

        You stated: "My only objective is to stimulate thought regarding moderation adn reason both of which seem to be lacking, particularly in the vocal segments of the religous community. "

        May I ask which groups come to mind as lacking moderation and reason, and/or what topics of discussion seem to be the ones in which reason and moderation are not used, in your opinion?
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          Apr 17 2013: Mary,
          I firmly believe that the evangelical churches, the NRA, both political parties and several large labor unions lack both the ability to accept moderation and further the ability to reason in an open-minded fashion. Now this does not mean that I disagree with their positions necessarily but I do not agree with their approach. There is a tendency to out-shout the opposition which precludes moderation and reason. Take the matter of abortion rights. If you believe that life begins at conception then you can consider abortion to be murder. This is a reasonable position. If you believe that a fetus does not begin to live until it is at or approaching birth then you can justify abortion. This is also reasonable. If you accept both positions as reasonable then you either are at an impasse or you must moderate your view. This is probably the most difficult subject to ask for moderation on. However until we as a people can stop the murder of the innocents of this world, men women and children, then I think we cannot in good conscience devote our energies to the protection of a relatively small number of fetuses. Similarly if we support abortion we must honor the beliefs that we are condoning murder in the eyes of those who oppose abortion. I don't think this should ever become a political issue since it strikes to the heart of peoples belief system, but that is only my view. There are many other examples where moderation and reason are lacking but none nearly as volitile as abortion.
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        Apr 17 2013: ".......I do not agree with their approach"

        As believers, we are counseled to show "love" first and foremost.

        So, after reading what you have written in this conversation, above and below, I can sincerely see that it has been love that has moved you to put faith in your family, and not God or the scriptures. They love you and you love them. You have been there for one another in the good and the bad.

        And, we know that love is not the motivation of many politicians and large organizations. It's the green little piece of paper that seems to motivate many today. Once they reach the top, many in power do not really care about the smaller ones in the organization. I know that.

        And, while my life experiences have validated my belief in a Creator, and I guide my life by scriptural principles, I have a deep respect for others whose life experiences have guided them in a different direction. You are a fortunate individual to have the support of a loving family. Many individuals around our planet do not have this Gordon.

        Be Well, and thank you for answering my questions.
        I am enjoying reading through this conversation very much.
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        Apr 17 2013: I agree it is a bit off if someone believes their particular god or gods and goddesses concept, dogma, or more personal spiritual belief is correct when there are so many contradictory beliefs.

        You'd think that this might make people question the validity of their particular belief system. Interesting to see Muslims convince themselves the Quran is the perfect word, or Christians that Jesus resurrected therefore everything in the bible as interpreted by their sect is correct.

        If the Jehovah's witnesses are right then everyone else is in trouble.
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          Apr 17 2013: "If the Jehovah's witnesses are right then everyone else is in trouble."

          I disagree.

          If the Jehovah's witnesses are right, then we can look forward to a better future.

          The people who are in trouble are those that the Bible says practice things which have brought human kind to the condition it is in today.....the greedy bankers......those who are responsible for the destruction of earth's resources......those who have hid behind God and religion to promote hatred and racism........corrupt governments who have oppressed humankind.......and for those who believe that there exists----God's enemy, Satan the Devil.....now he, is in hot water.

          Sometimes our perceptions of people, and organizations, are tainted with minsinformation.
          It's best to have a questioning attitude, like I have learned from not only you, but also others on TED.

          We cannot judge one another. We are all in this together Obey.

          In the end, it's not about which humans are right, is it? At least it isn't for me.
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      Apr 16 2013: What!?
      No it doesn't, not the religion I was taught anyway!

      I was taught at church to have a deep respect for everybody, and to acknowledge that everybody is a "child of God", and that the community will always be there for me.

      Even though I am an strong agnostic about their spiritual beliefs, I still always admired the positive aspects (such as their norms of forgiveness and humility), and still get on very well with my local priest.
      I have a feeling you do have some (deep rooted psychological) hatred of religion from pure intuition.
      Considering the amount of negative comments you direct at it!

      What have your experiences of religion been like?

      Anybody you ever disliked been religious?

      Does any media shape your view of religion as being Evil? (Which I view is the most probable out of these four, for the media does put Islam in a very bad light!) Watch the Ted Talk : "Lesley Hazleton: On reading the Koran", or "Bobby Ghosh: Why global jihad is losing"

      Ever been taught that "Religion is evil"?

      I mean watch "Atheism 2.0 by Alain de botton", or read his book "Religion for Atheists". It sheds some light on the very positive characteristics of religion. Which you seem not to realize.

      Here are the links to the TED Talks I spoke about :



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        Apr 17 2013: There are some positives in some religions.

        Unfortunately they are often side by side with some nasty stuff, or nonsense.

        If the modus operandi is this book or this preacher says god says this and that the good and bad are mixed, and the basis is unreliable, scripture, authority, or revelation.

        Being useful in part doesn't mean it is correct or a sound basis for considering how to live etc.

        I saw atheism 2.0 and a lot of the stuff might be what others are looking for, but I don't. I don't need a religion substitute in full. Others miss church and might end up at the unitarians etc.
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          Apr 17 2013: No I've always admired certain aspects of religion! Such as the strong sense of community, the moral guidelines of forgiveness, the self monitoring of behaviour.
          I mean religion hasn't done as much harm as people think! And most of it is political anyway!
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    Apr 16 2013: Gordon, there is a sucker born every minute.

    People in general are gullible when they put "faith" in what they are being told.

    Gullible individuals believe every infomertial, and sit and watch HSN or QVC and order incessantly from them, and put faith in everything politicians tell them..............Want to buy a bridge?

    So, to answer your question: No.

    People of faith and people without faith are gullible..........Uneducated people are gullible.........religion has nothing to do with it. People get lied to all the time to get them to buy one piece of junk or another, and to vote for one individual or another, or to buy into one agenda or another.
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    Apr 16 2013: Hi Gordon.
    ""Gullibility is the belief in something with no substantiating facts to support that something.""
    To me the bible is full of substantiating facts, but empirical evidence for the Atheist position is a little thin on the ground.
    Just because someone has a different worldview doesn't render them gullible. The diversity of human belief is what makes life interesting.

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      Apr 16 2013: Dear Benjamin, I am all for free speech. But I think it's kind of rude to post so many comments in such short time without engaging into the conversation. Do you not find any comment worthy of replying? Or if it is so, don't you think it may be a better idea to compose your comment in one go? Please appreciate that despite being free this space is for meaningful engagement. Thank you.
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      Apr 16 2013: Benjamin,
      I respect your beliefs, and I'm curious. Are you here to have a conversation? Or simply to post random thoughts?
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      Apr 16 2013: Benjamin,
      I agree with you to some extent in that some religions use fear tactics. You think/feel it is only coming from "high society"?

      I also agree to a certain extent that religions have sometimes been responsible for getting in the way of world peace.

      So, do you think/feel people are gullible? Do you agree with Gordon that ".... if you believe in something based upon Scripture, whichever religion you belong to then you are gullible"?. Do you honestly think/feel that "religious superstitions "control the world"? I believe they certainly DO have an influence......control?
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    Apr 16 2013: where do your "truths" lie, in the materiel world or the mind of man?