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Why are there so many religions with distinctive rules when there is only one god?

i myself believe that there is only one god in this world, however if there is only one god then why are there so many religions with so many rules which are so different from others??

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    Jan 18 2012: I have read most of the commentaries, I can now point out the reason we are having so many misunderstandings as there is only ONE GOD!

    I invite all of you to read at new most of your interventions, you will see that most of you have been arguing on Santa and so many other things that have no relation with the first question.

    No one on earth can tell you who is GOD. We have our ideas of God, that's the reason there are so many confusions on the subject. Once again, whether most people on TED are atheists or believers should not stop one from asking certain questions, as we are here to express liberty and built another world with our ideas sharing.

    In this question, believers are in the center. Most religious groups believe that their idea of God is the one to be applied. Then they believe that from their position they benefit from a particular favor from the God they call night and day; that God gives them Power other all the ones who they consider are just lost. Then come the question of who has to rule society. This is where clashes happen.

    All these religions are opposing each other just around one question: " who has THE POWER?"

    Atheists's arguments in general resume in this: If God exist, then what is His nature, How does He look or what makes Him to be God?

    In order to bring everybody around the same table, why not consider one second that we take the word "God" out of our arguments. Because that word alone is setting fire to most emotional bodies.

    Whether you are atheist or believer, let's agree that we all EXIST. Let's agree that we are all connected by this earth that drag our weight down to himself. We all feed ourself from this earth's products, wether it be animals, vegetals or minerals. Let's agree that we all come HERE according to a clear and understandable scientific principle. Let's agree that PRINCIPLE his not man made, that It comes from EXISTENCE Himself.

    So now, who can deny EXISTENCE not to be the PRINCIPLE and the source of LIFE. Q?
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      Jan 18 2012: Good points Ousmane. The arguments about god/no god/right god/wrong god simply serve to continue to seperate us. We are all more the same than different, and to come together as human beings, it would be helpful to focus on how we are the same. We all feed ourself from this earth's products, as you say, we all want to love and be loved, we all share the same emotions at various times in our lives, we all live and then die. And while we are living here on this earth, it would be nice if we could accept each other and whatever our beliefs are IF those beliefs do not adversly impact others.
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    Jan 15 2012: If god (or gods) exist in 7,000, 000,000 human brains, then it's only logical to assume the number of god(s) should also equal 7,000,000,000. What's really amazing is that humans assume the god in their own head is the god in someone else's! And even more astounding is that humans clump together into (human) institutions and collectively decide to change the god(s) in their own heads so as to be more acceptable to other folks.

    If there is some disembodied spirit out there without a brain, without sensory organs, without a body, and without any way of speaking, it's beyond bizarre that humans even care that It exists. I suspect religions are not really about such a trans-spatial, trans-temporal Thing -- but about 'fellowship' and all the other very human trappings that encumber their 'religions'. And then one can begin to understand religion(s). They are not about god(s). Religions are all about tribal affiliation(s).
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    Jan 22 2012: London is one city but there are numerous ways to reach it - London is one :)) Some take the dirt tracks, some the fast lanes, and some simply jet in. The problem arises when the fellow who takes the dirt road to London says, 'he knows best' the fast lane chap feels the dirt track traveller is a 'fool' and it goes on and on .... An 'awakened' soul keeps his cool, and does not argue because he knows for sure that all of them are journeying towards LONDON and sooner or later, they will reach it and will be better with the experience gained.
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      Jan 22 2012: Well, it's a pretty good metaphor. But there are a couple of things I would like to point out:

      1) London exists, and;
      2) London is on an island so not all roads will get you there.
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        Jan 22 2012: Nice one ! Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly ! No way Sir. I refuse to take the bait, come into the ring and get all bruised up !! I made a point London is superfluous
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          Jan 22 2012: You may be too late.

          ---

          The amendments work regardless of the city.
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    Jan 22 2012: The "there is only one god" affirmation in the title is not so true, in fact.

    The Genesis chapter of the Bible, or the Torah, the Old Testament in it's original language which was Sumerian, isn't even speaking of a deity or rather deities, it was a plural in it's original form but it didn't mean the same thing as the word "god" means today.

    The Hebrew language didn't even exist at that time. The Sumerians never built temples, never had deities or religious cult, they simply wrote down historical events.


    If you are interested to learn more about the literal, original meaning of the Old Testament, i suggest you to watch a few videos on youtube, search for Mauro Biglino, he is a former Vatican translator who worked for the Vatican to translate the texts of the bible from an earlier version from the one we use today. He worked with the 7th to 9th century A.D. version of the bible written in Hebrew and which was translated during that time by Charlemagne's best scholars.

    I suggest you watch this, even though it might change your perception of "God" once you learn the literal meaning of these text when they were written in Sumerian and other lost languages of the BC era. You will learn many things, but don't watch them if you don't want your beliefs shaken.

    Mauro Biglino: Unexpected Bible - Translating it literally (1 of 6) - Eng. subs
    search for this on youtube


    Enjoy life to it's fullest, that's my advice to you.
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      Jan 22 2012: Maxime,

      A Starship, eh?

      Well that explains everything ...

      ... Until we get to the planet of origin the Starship departed from .... and then, we get messed up with Odin, Saturn, Unicorns, Big Bangs, and Santa (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) all over again.

      [Unless of course, they too have a history of visitations by different and older Starships .... then we would all be squared a way.]

      By the way, there is a "psychological truth" in my little joke: If we can build a logical "chain of events" upon an illogical or even false assumption, we "forget about" the fallacious foundation of the argument and expound on the efficacy of our LOGIC, and therefore assert our CONCLUSION must be true.

      The Bible is inerrant: The earth must be 6000 years old. We celebrated Saturnalia on December 25: Saturn must be Santa. And so on.

      There's a name for that ...
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        Jan 22 2012: Listen Thomas, i'm not trying to disrespect any faith system or religion.

        I simply want to inform the people that the texts in the Bible have been manipulated by many people during history, and that Mauro Biglino, an Italian translator of ancient Hebrew has worked for the Vatican and is now telling the literal meaning of the Bible (Torah) written in the ancient Hebrew language of the 7th and 9th century A.D.

        Which itself was a translation of texts from Sumerian tablets that predates the ancient Hebrew language; and also i want the people to know that these texts contained more detailed recordings of many events of the OT and that these details were taken out of the ancient Hebrew texts for the European version made by Charlemagne's scholars during his reign of the Holy Roman Empire in that time.

        I am not going to speak about the details here, for now. But it seems that the Jewish Torah, written in ancient Hebrew, is a lot more detailed in it's literal meaning then any of the published version of today's Bible or Old Testament in their respective theological, philosophical meaning.

        Like i said, i don't want to disrespect the people who believe in the texts of today's Bible, but, i want them to know, they are missing a lot of information.

        And i hope that the people will try and search for this missing information, which they have the right to know, in my opinion.

        Charlemagne thought otherwise, he preferred to keep much information hidden from his people.
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          Jan 22 2012: Hey Maxime,

          I didn't get the sense you were trying to disrespect anything.

          And, yes, there is a whole mess of information that has been excluded from the canon ... and it wasn't all Charlemagne's (Charles the Great's) fault.

          Some of it, as you say, is an issue of translation; some of it was excluded because it did not conform to some bishop's idea of what was "right" (Ignatius, Irenaeus, and John Chrysostom, for example.) Some of it was simply lost.
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        Jan 22 2012: Well today's Saturnalia isn't the same has it was in the Roman Empire.

        But we might well be due for a real return to it's original tradition, this is what might happen with the 99% OWS Movement, it will eventually bring a final Saturnalia upon the highest caste that is way overdue.

        It's sad but, not that sad.

        The 1% are bringing this on themselves after all, unwillingly because they forgot to keep a sort of balance in the system. So when the Slavs take back the Praticians seats, they will never leave those seats and the former Praticians will never leave their cages, because they forgot for too long.

        And after all, Saturnalia hasn't been celebrated, for centuries. So it's way overdue, it's not going to last only one week. It might never end this time, ironically.

        The Statue of Liberty is a Slave, indeed, bearing the Light.

        Saturn was the bearer of Light for the Romans, Apollo of the Greeks, Thor of the Vikings, Lucifer of the Jews.
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    Jan 17 2012: "i myself believe that there is only one god in this world"

    Yes, well, others do not. Hence other religions and other gods.

    Is it really more complicated than that?
    • Jan 18 2012: true. fair point.
      i myself believe in only one god.
      there is no need to make it more difficult than that that is also true.
      thanks for your response
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    Jan 16 2012: Maybe I'm not the right person to give an opinion to your question Vicky... as I'm an atheist...

    But if you look at how religions emerged and evolved during human history, you can start to understand (Thomas Brucia's response seems very apt).
    Religions can be seen as worldviews and as ways to structure a society.
    From worldview perspective, it has some real problems when it comes to truth claims (as a lot of the tenets in many religions are proven to be false)... though still it provides a way of understanding the world (even if flawed).
    From this point of view, we can understand that different cultures came up with different 'explanations' (i.e. "just so stories")
    As for structuring a society: rules and laws are dependent on where and how you live. Desert nomads had to follow different rules than sedentary people in the first big cities... and depending on which crops were grown or staple food, it resulted in different rituals and seasonal feasts.
    I also think a lot of the rules religions proposed (and still propose), have become void, useless or even counterproductive.

    As for comparing religions (or preferably broader: worldviews) : you do need to look further than the Abrahamic ones (Jewish, Christian, Islamic), like Hinduism (polytheism), Confucianism (atheistic), Buddhism (agnostic), and animistic ones (spirits, Vodoo,...). And preferably modern forms of humanism as well.

    As you see, upholding the idea of one god is already a "rule" you wish to hold on to (and one that comes from the tradition in which you were born and raised).

    There are logical conclusions that can be drawn from your observation. (I do encourage you to do this exercise)
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    Jan 16 2012: Romans 1:25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.
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      Jan 16 2012: what is the truth about God? Which God are we referring too? there are millions of them that man serve so how can we know exactly which one is correct?

      Also what is meant by humans worshiping created things instead of the creator? Is it worshiping other gods? money? Serving the President of a country?
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        Jan 16 2012: For you to know which God is correct and who you should believe in, is not for me to decide. It's your choice and finding that answer takes personal research of religion.

        In Christianity, the Bible says that one God created all things, therefore he is known as the Creator. Worshiping created things could include man-made gods, money, the President, or whatever else people choose to worship rather than worshiping the one true God.
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          Jan 16 2012: That is my point exactly, what if I was meditating and doing my research and realized that Zeus or Thor or Vishnu was the one true god. What If I was to read the bible and realzie that god of Christianity was not the one true god. What if I felt like I was touched my the holy ghost or something similar to that while reading a Hindu text?

          What if I am born on a island off the coast of France or something and never heard of Christianity? would it then be my fault that I have never heard of such a god?

          you mentioned that you are not saying these things but the bible is...my question would then be why post something if you do not believe in it yourself? It may come off the wrong way to others...just some food for thought

          I'm not saying that your wrong, what really perplexes me about your responses is the certainty of it...you mentioned that it is not for you to decided which god is correct but you then come to the conclusion that the god of the bible is correct
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        Jan 16 2012: For me personally, the God of the Bible is correct. The reason why I say it's not for me to decide for you is because I realize it isn't up to me to tell you what to do or believe, that's your own personal decision. I can't tell you what to believe, you would have to find for yourself what you feel is right. If you found what you believe to be true and if that means that god is Zeus or anyone else, then that's fine. You found what you believe to be true and your beliefs should be respected.

        Also, I do believe in what the Bible says. But when I said, "I'm not saying it, the Bible says it", I meant that my first comment was a quote from the Bible, they were not my own words, they were the words found at Romans 1: 25.

        Bottom line is, the question asked why are there so many different religions. I gave my own opinion quoting what I believe to be true in the Bible. I'm just sharing my own belief as everyone else has in this forum...
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          Jan 16 2012: By all means share your opinion, just how I have shared mines. I have no problem with that at all, so please do say more. I like conversations like these because it challenges my own convictions and I get to learn from others.

          That is fair enough, It should be my own experience and my own reasoning that decides, if it ever came to it, which god is the one I would serve. Of course I have not had such experiences so it is hard for me to relate to you.

          Once again, it is not your beliefs that I have a problem with (if a belief in god gets you through the day then by all means go for it), it was just the certainty of the passage that you mentioned that would raise red flags to someone who is a non-believer because it implied that "you can believe in whatever you want, but in the end there is only one true god" and based off what I know from the christian god, that would not be a good sign for me being that I would be spending all eternity in hell for not sharing the same belief as you. of course you did not say such things and I'm not claiming that you have said it...

          so once again, if you have transformative life changing experiences because of your beliefs, I will never try to take that away and I understand being that I have or can have similar experiences without a belief in god...it is just the absoluteness and certainty of the claims that is bugging...and I would hope my views to be put into question if I was to make claims of certainty.
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        Jan 16 2012: Thanks for the explanation so I can better see where you are coming from. I realize now that the scripture could make those searching for the true god to feel hopeless at the fact that there are so many gods to choose from. In your case, I hope if you have the desire to find God, that your able to do so. I'm sure you've heard of the scripture "God is love" at 1 John 4: 8. So even for those who may stumble across a false religion and have faith in such religious beliefs, I have faith (based on the scripture) that God loves those people regardless. It's not their fault that they haven't been able to become acquainted with the true God. And the Bible says that even Jesus Christ, God's son, "had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." (Matthew 9: 36)

        Also, my personal belief about Hell, is that it doesn't exist. So I can't answer that question because it doesn't make sense to me either why people believe they go to Hell. I feel that's a false doctrine. But even if it did exist, as I quoted - God is love.. And it's not your fault or anyone else whos searching for truth to face consequences because they were not able to find that truth in their lifetime.
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      Jan 16 2012: QUOTE: "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator."

      So you're saying people worship created things ... like scriptures (created) and religion (created) and imagined (created) Gods?

      How might one worship a God that has not been imagined?
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        Jan 16 2012: I'm not saying it, the Bible says it. A question was asked, I gave an answer from the Bible assuming that the person who raised the question believes in the Christian Greek Scriptures.. If it helps that person, then good. If it bothers other people, it's not my problem.. I didn't write the book.
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          Jan 16 2012: The Bible also says we should kill our children if they are too disobedient.*

          (And it is you who is saying it, Kaitlyn. As far as I know, the Bible is not a member of the TED forum.)

          And, now that you have said it, how might one worship a God who has not been imagined?

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          * If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. - Deuteronomy 20:18-21
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    Jan 15 2012: because none of it makes sense
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      Jan 15 2012: agreed...I really love this comment. I never laughed so hard
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    Jan 15 2012: To make a long story short imagine the following.

    If there are a hundred groups with each their ideas about the one God that never saw each other before, the world is at peace.
    If those groups start to move round the earth they meet one another and start at any moment to call their one God. Then they quarrel about the other group that uses the wrong name and follow the wrong tradition and so on. Some get mad about the blasphemy of the other group and want to destroy those heathens. And so it went on and on.
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      . .

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      Jan 15 2012: When eventually everyone understands each other's language, finally we have to face the truth that we are/have been one and the same all along. Up until that moment, much wasted energy, thousands of years holding so stubbornly to the door handles, all of which open up into the same room.
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        Jan 15 2012: That is true...everyone will eventually die and have their answer...which I believe is nothingness. but of course could be wrong.
  • Jan 22 2012: Why are there so many religions with distinctive rules when there is only one god?

    Because the human race finds it hard to get along. The spirit of cooperation does not reign.

    Instead, there is a spirit of competition.

    I'm right, no, no you're wrong.

    How sad.
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    Jan 22 2012: Why are there so many religions with distinctive rules when there is only one god?

    Rather presumptuous claims - that there is a god. There is only one god. But won't bite further.

    I suggest that part of the answer to why there are so many religious beliefs are similar to why there are so many different languages, style of dress, literary styles, artistic conventions and other forms of culture.
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    Jan 22 2012: There is only one god, and he amuses himself by giving different instructions and "truths" to different parts of the world. It's a game he plays with us, to watch us attack one another over his varying revelations. Wouldn't you do the same if you were god? Set the little humans against each other and enjoy the blood flowing while you're having your beer? What else is there for a god to amuse himself with on a Saturday night?
    • Jan 22 2012: Paul, believe it or not, I have heard this theory before.....in college we even had a group exercise in a cooperative course where the professor gave each group separate pieces of a problem. It wasn't until we started overhearing the other group's discussions that we realized we were missing parts of the story. Once we worked together, we were able to solve the dilemna we were given at the offset of the class.

      This was over 20 years ago, but the exercise left impregnated in my mind the idea that we really never have the complete story on anything. Anything and everything is possible, so we have to be open-minded.

      We have to be good listeners, and know how to ask good questions without attacking other's points of view.
      Thank you for your contribution Paul.
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      Jan 22 2012: Hi Bridget,

      Christmas COULD be anything you imagine it to be. Providing a list of "Gods" does not make it more or less likely so.

      The point is, it's not any of those things; it is the celebration of the birth of Christ. That's why we call it Christmas.

      And while we may legitimately say our religions - all of them - are a reflection of our own psyches and therefore share common themes; and though we may say many religions draw on common natural occurrences - the winter solstice, birth, death, "nature itself" - and though we may say many religions draw on earlier religious tradition, metaphors, and motifs, that does not mean Christ, for example, IS Horus.

      Sure, they might represent the same things, there are certainly many (many) parallels between them. They may be "outward symbols" of "inner truths."

      They might not.

      The virgin birth, as you point out, is another common motif that is repeated in many cultures (and not only those with a saviour tradition.) Does that mean, Christ's mother was (really) Isis?

      No. Might we see Mary and Isis representing the same things?

      Sure. We recognize patterns. We see them where we see them. That is why things start out as "one thing" and often end up as "another thing."

      So you see Santa and Saturn as one. You see Mary and Isis as one.

      Fine.

      But the rest of the world sees Santa as a Jolly old man whose visage and manners are based on "Old Saint Nick" They see Christ as "Jesus of Nazareth" and they see Christmas as a celebration of his birth.

      Is there a case for your assertions?

      Yes. I agree "the drama of immaculate conception is not the exclusive domain of any one religion or world ideology."

      Are all of your conclusions as absolute as you present them to be?

      No.

      At their foundation, not all religions are one religion. Yes, all religions begin with us but the "Cargo" religion and "Wicca" are not "one." Catholicism and Protestantism are not "one." Etcetera.

      All Gods are not ultimately one God.

      Maps are never accurate.
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      Jan 22 2012: just for the sake of it, i looked up krishna. to find out that he had six older brothers.
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        Jan 22 2012: His mother may have been a born-again virgin.
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      Jan 22 2012: It is his challenge. He will tell you if you've failed or not. That's how these things work.

      [And apparently, you did.]
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      Jan 22 2012: Hi Bridget (or shall we call you Kathy?)

      That you choose to conflate virtually everything with everything else is not particularly useful*. Sure Santa can represent some cosmic force that is "real" and Odin might be Saturn who might be so-and-so whom we celebrated on Dec 17 - 25, which is when we celebrate Christmas, which is now symbolized by Santa, so we can say Santa is Odin.

      Or not.

      Probably not.

      It is not useful.

      Also, it is not really true ... except in a convoluted revisioning of ... pretty much everything.

      At your level of abstraction, we might as well say everything is everything. It's all one.

      And there's nothing wrong with that but is can be expressed much less contentiously and much more simply.

      For example:

      "To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." - William Blake

      And I don't think he ever mentions Santa or unicorns.

      ---
      * And this is also why we have so many religions, we like mixing stuff up ... mix and match ... a little of this and we have Judaism, a little of that we have Christianity, a little of everything and we have New Age Revisionism.
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      Jan 22 2012: QUOTE: "God's existence is not imaginary..."

      If you do not know God, God is indeed "imaginary."

      That others assert God exists and that others assert they know God does not mean you know God. And if you do not know God and you discuss Him, Her, It or Ta, you are imagining God. And if you do know God and are discussing Him, Her, It or Ta, with others, they have no choice but to imagine Him, Her, It or Ta.

      You certainly like symbols. You champion them, coming to the aid of Santa Claus, unicorns, and virgin mothers.

      If I am thirsty, I do not need the symbol "H2O." I need what the symbol represents. No matter how much you tell me you know about the symbols for water - uji, vand, eau, paani - the symbols will not quench my thirst.

      And they will not quench yours.

      [And that is why we have so many religions.]
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      Jan 22 2012: you failed the task again, because you didn't have to claim things. you didn't have to show how the concepts differ. your task was to show how the existence of these things are different from that of god.

      rephrasing: what makes us believe that god exists, but the celestial teapot (etc) does not? why the latter is ridiculous, and the former is a fact? what makes it a fact?
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        Jan 22 2012: My friend Ira (who is sitting beside me and is an atheist) says:

        =========================
        "God" has been around for thousands of years where the Celestial Teapot has not. Check in again in 5.000 years.

        Also, the Celestial Teapot doesn't have any good present-giving holidays.
        =========================

        Sarcastic as he is, I think he has a point. The mythology hasn't really built up around the CT or FSM that happens with the concept of the pre-existing the person being taught.
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          Jan 22 2012: The Celestial Teapot, Vishnu is or was what we would call today a Starship.

          Try to find the Hebrew letter for RUACH and it's literal meaning in it's former language, Sumerian.

          The Bible has translate this word into the word "spirit".
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          Jan 22 2012: for a religion to thrive in the ocean of minds, longevity is a virtue. russell!s idea was designed to kill religions, so being short lived would be the virtue. the end of all religions are overdue for 60 years in that sense. russell's teapot is too old!
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          Jan 22 2012: "my task was to show that these two things do exist"

          not at all. you don't even understand the task.you still try to do something else than your task was. once and for all, your task was to show what is the *difference* between the existence god and something widely accepted as nonexistent, like the many things i listed for you. you did not have to analyze the concepts. especially not to replace them with some totally unique interpretation. we are talking here about the common concept of god and the common concept of santa, teapot, vishnu, etc. and yet again, what is the fundamental difference in how they exist or not.

          if your point is that there is no such difference, then we agree. i agree that god is nothing but a mental concept. its existence is not unique. and this is the answer to the original question: the premise is wrong. people believe in different stuff because those stuff are equally valid. (that is, not valid at all.)
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    Jan 21 2012: Hi Vicky,

    Quite simple really. We live on a planet that has rejected God. Powerful spiritual forces are at work to keep us from knowing our creator. There are two basic plans of attack.

    1. Persuade folks that God does not exist. Intellectuals fall readily for this one.

    2. For those who like the idea of God, or are genuinely convinced that He does exist; give them a large choice of gods, complete with all the pomp & frills. This limits the numbers who will find their creator.

    That's why there are so many religions; including football, DIY, game shows. Lottery etc. etc.

    :-)
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      Jan 22 2012: Suggest 3 - that some religious belief may just be human constructs only - no need for all of them to have a super nature origin, even if you believe in fallen angels etc.

      Still think it more likely that the reason for so many different religions are similar to the reasons there are so many different languages, accents, and other diverse aspects of culture developed naturally.
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    Jan 19 2012: well said, Colleen!
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    Jan 18 2012: Why so many religions, when there is only one God?

    Simply stated: "Divide and conquer"
  • Jan 18 2012: "however if there is only one god then why are there so many religions with so many rules which are so different from others??"

    I think it make sense that different religions have different rules. Why? If we tink back about 100 years when it wasnt possible to travil as we can do today. The bigest followers are to the bible, the koran, the hinduism. What do this have in common?
    All these scripts are made to give rules about how you can live your life?
    example: The musslims only eat meat if its Halal, lets wonder why? To keep it short; meat is hard to preserv, thats why you do the Hallal thing, you wont get sick of eating rotten meat! Smart guideline right? :)
    example: the hindu dont eat meat since life is better then death. A living cow can produce much milk, a chicken can produce much eggs. A dead cant. Very smart :)

    Well they are from different locations of the world. And since they are spread around the world they live in diffreent climats and that effects their life style. The rules is affected by their lifestyle. The scripts give guidance of wisdoom. That is just natural?
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      Jan 18 2012: Very nice take on the variety of religious beliefs.
  • Jan 18 2012: Great comments guys. Thanks for all the responses - all are very interesting
    many of my debates have had masses of replies - i have had 80 comments on this one and 110 comments on my other questions as to whether the universe was created by god or the big bang theory?
    Overall i just wanted to say thanks to everyone, it is important tht people get to discuss different issues such as this and express their ideas in regard to science...
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    Jan 17 2012: Good question.

    Usually when I'm asked this question I ask in turn my dialogist why does him see a contradiction between one God and more religions ?
    If we think what religions is for : a way to God , we already know the answer or at least a part of it . We are different and we act in this way . The single more interesting question in my opinion about this topic is why a way to God is better than the others ?
  • Jan 17 2012: If we created in a single behavior with thinking all in same way then we are same as bee or a dog.Animals started with their abilities from birth onwards.There is no change in their creativity 1000 years or 10000 yers back.If man created same as animal then we have no responsibilty to god since we dont have any freedom to think independently and no acquiring abilities.But man has nature of freedom and intelligence to obey or not obey the god ,accordingly to deserve the result of his work in a day of justice .This freedom makes the man think in multi ways .
  • Jan 17 2012: Why do we look differently, speak different languages, worship differently named God ?
    From the point of view of an intelligent extra terrestrial we are one human race, looking pretty much the same, speaking one language and worshiping one God,including atheists and agnostics :)
    Everything depends upon the scale of observation.
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      Jan 17 2012: Actually, I find the whole argument to be founded on this kind of logic (particularly "it's ok when I disrespect someone else' religion by calling it 'mythology' but not when people do it to mine"), so I just like to point out the inconsistencies when I see them.

      Having no formal religion means I have no horse in this race.

      Carry on.
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    Jan 16 2012: Because, for one thing, people, just like you, believe in only one God and assume the one God they believe in is, not only real but the only real God; and then they cannot figure out why other people believe in their own God (who, logic would dictate cannot also be real. ... How could there be two "real" Gods?)

    Of course, not everyone believes in one God. Some believe in many Gods. Some believe there is no God. It is even possible that someone knows God (assuming He/She/It/Ta exists.)

    But, setting aside that someone might actually know, when you get a whole mess of people all believing in their own God, or the God they heard about on TV or from friends and family, you get a whole mess of religions.

    You already knew that, right?
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      Jan 16 2012: you believe that the majority here completely intolerant of religious people? how did you get that impression? i'm kind of sure this is false.
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          Jan 16 2012: sure i have seen. but i don't consider it intolerant. comparing two things are either valid or invalid. the latter can be subdivided to silly, idiotic, factually wrong, flawed and such.

          comparing god to santa is actually a mental challenge. you have to come up with something that is different between the two. dismissing such challenges as "intolerant" is intellectual sloth. it is an old tactic of discrediting the question instead of answering it.
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          Jan 17 2012: ''comparing god to santa is actually a mental challenge'' , it's nothing to answer to this than just simple saying God is not Santa Claus , this are two different words with different meanings ; the question is why to make a mental challenge from it ? an possible answer is : - in your mind they have a close meaning ; in my mind they haven't , so (using your words) who has the valid meaning ?
          You just put an atheistic 'conclusion' under the form of a mental challenge and this mainly ,I guess , because you are atheist . I refuse to think in that way but instead of that I agree to have a rational conversation without misconceived ideas with the ones who want this .
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          Jan 20 2012: And now when you have a mental challange everything becomes silent....
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          Jan 17 2012: Hmmm ... "Santa is a symbol" ... "so Santa is real."

          The old man represents Saturn?

          Really?

          "Santa's vesture is red, white and black?

          Really?

          (Interestingly his vesture used to be green.)

          I don't suppose you have heard of Thomas Nast, have you?

          How about Saint Nicholas of Myra?

          H2O is a symbol. Is it real?

          Will H2O (the symbol) quench your thirst?

          So Santa is real.

          Who knew?
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          Jan 17 2012: I like your exposition on the Aztecs Bridget but for Santa I don't think it has much to do with Saturn.
          The peoples of Northern Europe had their midwinter festivals where Odin presided. As they were forced to convert, the missionaries put the Bishop of Myra, Nicholas in its place. Nicholas at the time replaced Odin as the wayfarer that protected the men at sea.
          The original tradition is still alive and was exported to the US by immigrants that mixed it up with Christmas.

          I like stories, symbols and traditions but I don't like missionaries. The concern most non believers have with Christianity is not their belief itself but their mission.
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          Jan 17 2012: bridget, you have failed the challenge for two reasons.

          1. you are not referring the santa claus idea that your opponents used. this complicated, regressive analysis of the santa is very different than most people's simple views. they are referring to an imaginary entity that we can describe in detail, some people believes it is true, but only based on what they were told. if you believe that people have a bad concept about santa, you are free to move to the next on the list of imaginary things that you don't believe in: the invisible pink unicorn, the flying spaghetti monster, the celestial teapot or vishnu. you need to tell us why would god be any more real than these entities.

          2. despite your in depth analysis of santa claus, you simply skipped the very task you had: to tell why is the existence of santa is different than the existence of god. if you are suggesting that god only exists as a symbol, we are very much in agreement. i also believe that god as a symbol exists. however, this conversation does not seem to be about that. the O.P. seems to make a very sharp distinction between the existence of god, and the existence of other religious entities, like krishna. that distinction needs some explanation.
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          Jan 17 2012: Hi Bridget,

          Great Post, I was really impressed

          But sadly I still think you missed the point...

          Everything that you attributed as Santa, was for another ancient culture God(s)...God(s) were symbol and were thought to be interacting in human affairs. Zeus was thought to be lightning. Poseidon was thought to make Earthquakes, etc....All in all, Gods for many different cultures were symbols and for many indivdiuals, cosmic events or events in general were thought to be manifestations of these god(s). Heck even the God of the bible was actually a mountain God and was thought to be one of the many Gods in the ancient days, which is why Moses response to him when he was the burning bush was "who are you?" as opposed to being "hello my lord a savior" (this is prior to him getting the Ten Commandments)..

          All in all, you can make the same argument about God(s), if you apply it to a different culture and as Krisztian rightly pointed out, you have to tell us why God has this exception of being more real that Santa or anything else created by the mind.

          Once again I did like that post
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          Jan 18 2012: Santa Claus: The patron saint of department stores
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          Jan 17 2012: So the point is Santa Claus represents the solar force and Santa Claus is real.*

          And H2O is a symbol for water, and water is real, and water will quench our thirst.

          So that would be a, "No, the symbol will not quench our thirst. And, if we have access to water, we do not need to know the symbol. Even if we do not have access to water, we do not need the symbol, we need water."

          Or words to that effect.

          ---

          * I think you are conflating several unrelated narratives. The Roman God Saturnus was celebrated on or around the winter solstice in a festival known as Saturnalia. Solstice celebrations were "co-opted" by early Christians and became "Christmas." In the fourth century, Saint Nikolaos of Myra practiced "secret giving." And in the 18th century or thereabouts Saint Nikolaos was "merged" with Father Christmas and the composite character became Santa Claus. Aside from the incidental fact they are both associated with Christmas, there is no direct connection between Santa Claus and Saturn.
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          Jan 17 2012: QUOTE: "Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice"

          And over two millennia later we get Santa Claus and somehow Santa is Saturn?

          Nope. They are not connected.

          I like your story though.
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          Jan 17 2012: Your Saturnalia was as you quote a roman custom.

          Here we had Yule time to celebrate the return of the light. This brought to mind that Christ was the new born light on Earth and because no one knew the date Jesus was born the church fathers put it on December 25th to relay the heathen focus from Sol Invictus to Christ.

          In the pagan region they had the world tree Yggdrassil that was venerated through the year but on Yule it were the trees that stayed geen over winter and symbolized the life force as with Easter it was the lime tree that announced spring. At Yule time bon fires were lit and accompanied with a lot of singing (yelling). That were some of the ingredients that became Christmas around the candle lighted green tree.

          Odin rode a grey horse Sleipnir, white with eight legs. His two ravens Hunin and Munin told him all that was going on in the world.
          His power was called on before winter solstice to lead the sun back on course.
          This ceremony today has become a feast for December 5 or 6 when Sint Nicolaas (Sinter klaas; Santa Claus) with his assistants the black peters brings presents for the children. The week before this he rides every night over the roofs of the houses with his horse and peters to deliver candy and presents through the chimney's for all children that have set their shoe near the hearth with a carrot or some straw for the horse.

          I think that in the original form little children were presented gifts to honor new life, new light, sustained life force and this was the ideal situation for the church to substitute this with the child Jesus.

          In the US those things were combined with some Swedish custom that brought the reindeer into it. Here Sinterklaas always comes by boat which again refers to Odin.
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          Jan 18 2012: No Bridget, you are wrong.

          Your story, as wonderful as it is, is a pure fabrication.

          Santa has nothing to do with Saturn.

          However, if you want Santa to represent Saturn, in your own personal cosmology, you are welcome too. They are both symbols and you can have them mean whatever you would like them to mean.

          That Santa and Saturn both start with "Sa" and are both associated with Christmas is incidental.

          Santa Claus's origins lie with Saint Nicholas of Myra and his vesture and appearance (as we now know it) is primarily the creation of Thomas Nast.

          Christmas is not a Saturnian celebration, it is the celebration of Christ's birth.

          The date of winter solstice celebrations (whether Saturnian or not) was simply co-opted by the Church for expedience sake. The implication that we are celebrating Saturn when we celebrate Christmas is ridiculous. Why not include Allah, Zeus, Jupiter or Baal in the Christmas festivities?

          When studied from its origin, Santa is a jolly man who secretly gives gifts on Christmas eve and is fashioned after Saint Nicholas of Myra. Not Saturn.

          Saturn is not depicted as the old man of the north, he is quite a virile God.
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          Jan 18 2012: my current position is that god and krishna plays in the same league. there might be differences, but irrelevant to our discussion: both are believed to exist by many, and none of them can be observed in any repeatable, reliable way. in short: they don't exist.

          if you can challenge that position with something brief, go on. but be sure to rely on factual and testable claims.
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      Jan 16 2012: What I mean by nothingness is non-expereince

      as for your other comments, those who you view as intolerant, superior, bigots are those who just follow reason and evidence....as a matter of fact, i've spoken to those who claim to be religious on here and they are pretty intelligent..

      Personally I see nothing wrong with apes being our cousins and there is much evidence to support all the claims that you have made in regards to the claims that atheist and agnostics make....in regards to atheist and agnostics all they are looking for is reasonable arguments about why one believes in god and they just want proof as to the existence of god, which, so far has not happened....give me good reason and evidence to believe in the tenets of the western traditions as well as the existence of God and I'll be sure to change my mind.
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          Jan 16 2012: ok first things first, I was saying and realized such things way before I even knew TED had a forum so please do not lump me into the category of the TED typical without even knowing anything about me..

          Secondly, reason and evidence are indeed what most of those who are atheist or agnostic value...are there some unreasonable atheist or agnostics? of course...are there really intelligent Christians? sure. But for the most part, when it comes to religion,they have reasonable arguments and much evidence to back up their claims....that is just my experience, I cant say anything about yours

          as for your questions it is quite simple, have proof or at least reasonable arguments to back up the claims that you make. If you were to state that Hamburgers are not good for your health I would love to know the reason as to why and if possible the evidence to back up such claims..I believe Carl Sagan once said "extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence" so if it does take an old man, women, child in the sky to convince me, then sure. If this is not the case, then certain religious propositions should be put into question.

          If this still does not make sense, imagine if I was to state that the Gulag never occurred in soviet Russia and if it ever did it would be a good thing for humanity. If i was to create a thread about this, everyone on TED would be under no burden to put such a proposition into question, let alone question the legitimacy of my claim by looking for reasonable arguments and evidence...I'm just applying this to religion.

          I may not be religious, but I am spritual (spiritual in the sense that I meditate, sometimes I feel that I am one with nature and whenever I am doing my walking meditation I realize how insignificant I am in regards to nature and the universe) so yes I do believe that there is something greater than myself, I just do not think its god.

          to answer your last question I do not know and I could live life w/o a bigger purpose.
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          Jan 22 2012: Do you reallly think all this ordered complexity we call life is random? Chance? Without purpose?

          Natural selection - survival of the fittest is not exactly random. Perhaps at a quantum level every thing is random. At a planetary or galactic scale we seem to be able to predict movement reasonably well.

          Is there any purpose for the other planets. Is there any purpose to the other stars. Is there any purpose to the other galaxies even is some super being kick started it, it seems just as pointless, redundant etc with or without god.
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          Jan 17 2012: I do not think God is anything due to the fact that I do not believe in God(s).

          Anything that is transcendental does not have to be reduced to God...also I mentioned nature makes me realize that there is more to the universe than my self and my experience (this include other planets, galaxies, species, etc)..

          Secondly, being in nature makes me realize how short my life is being that many of the things we find in nature(trees, rocks, mountains, etc) well be around way after I am gone..so I am indeed nothing....

          this is what I meant by something being greater than myself
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          Jan 18 2012: Hi Bridget, I think I might have to up the ante just a little bit.

          Now I agree w/you that the virgin birth should be viewed as a symbol. I agree that anyone who really, seriously believes that Elvis is still alive really has, (as you have hilariously put it) "leaped into the realm of delusion".

          While you and I and Thomas as well as many others on here can see this to be true, this is not what many of our fellow human beings believe to be true and this has been going on throughout history.

          I am not sure if your read my post earlier about beliefs but I stated earlier that beliefs have consequences due to the fact that many beliefs have the potential to translate into behavior. I'll give you two examples:

          The Host Desecration's of the 12th century: I'll give you this link on Google (there are others) since Wikipedia is on a protest right now (woooohoooo!!!)

          http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0009_0_09262.html

          Have you heard of the Taiping Rebellion? I would not blame you if you haven't being that many people in the Western world have never heard of it.

          http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~phalsall/texts/taiping.html

          Now you may be asking why is this important and how does this support my earlier claims about Elvis and The virgin birth as well as God.

          It is because many people really take such things literally, to the point where they are influencing, starting wars and purging towns. The virgin birth is really a claim about biology.
          The belief in God entails many things(stoning children, etc). And a belief in Elvis being alive can compel people to do bad things as well.

          This is really the main problem I have with religion and why I question it and why I think Elvis and the virgin birth are on the same logical level. It really is all a matter of what one believes in and what acceptable.

          So the reason why I am having this conversation w/you is because you state that I should respect such beliefs because one is prescient and one is not
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          Jan 18 2012: "To appreciate the 'virgin birth' one needs to realize that this is symbolism."

          And didn't you just say "symbols are real"?

          You really lack logical consistency. I don't understand why these people are even attempting to argue with you.

          But then, I also tend to think that the entire "does god exist" argument is a colossal waste of human energy and brain-power, but that certainly doesn't stop people from expending it.
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          Jan 18 2012: The Bible is a Kabbalistic book of instruction for the spiritual initiate.

          Santa is real ... Saturn in drag, we might say.

          And virgin (as used in the Bible) means purity of spirit.

          Yes, your perspective does seem unique.

          ---

          The Bible is not a Kabbalistic book of instruction for the spiritual initiate. The Kabbalah likely predates the Bible by 3000 years. The Bible is a collection of books compiled by what we refer to as the Catholic church and excludes much of what was considered sacred texts at the time of its compilation. The Catholic church is as far removed from the Kabbala as Santa is from Saturn. [See following note.]

          Santa is not Saturn. [See earlier posts.]

          And virgin (as used in the Bible) means virgin or maiden. The translators may have messed that one up a bit.

          ---

          Now, we might find traces of the Kabbala in the Bible, for example, five of the ten Sefirot (gedulah, gevurah, tiferet, netzach, and hod) are contained in 1 Chronicle 29:11 but to say the Bible is Kabbalistic instruction is like saying Top Gun is flight training for a pilot.*

          ---

          I'll bet you can remember seven or eight of your previous lives. And you are probably an authority on God and doctrine. Am I right?


          ---

          And to answer your question, Gisela: Pleasant diversion and entertainment.

          ---

          * EDIT: For those who don't get the reference, Top Gun is a Tom Cruise movie (1986) about "an elite US Flying school for advanced fighter pilots."
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      Jan 16 2012: Bridget,

      You think most people on TED are agnostic or atheists?

      Really?

      Why?

      It seems many, maybe most, people here believe in God.

      I think what you'l find is that a few of us challenge claims that religious faith constitutes "knowing."

      Or that faith is superior to knowledge.

      Or that believing in one faith is superior to believing in another faith.

      Or that believing in God is superior to not believing in God.

      And so on.

      I think that you might also find that people who identify with their beliefs get offended when those beliefs are challenged. The assumption seems to be that it's okay to say, "Hey, I believe in this thing that I cannot prove ... but I still know it's true, and we should treat it as fact" but it's not okay to say, "No, you do not know that it's true, and we will not treat it as fact."

      Beliefs, it is assumed are not to be challenged.

      It is just not done.

      I don't think that's going to happen ... not here.

      ---

      Just out of curiosity, do you think I am atheist or agnostic? (I'm asking because the Santa thing seems to relate to a recent post I made.)
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          Jan 16 2012: It is indeed a shame that most people who criticize religious beliefs come off as rude when sometimes that is not even the intent or the way they come off..but yes, everyone beliefs to a degree should be respected...but not tolerated...

          I have a question though. If someone was to create a post and claim that Elvis is still alive as well as they pray every morning to Elvis, and they really believed this to be true and took such a claim personally and then all of a sudden, everyone provided evidence showing that Elvis is indeed dead and this persons feelings is hurt because they realized that they based their lives around something that was not true, how do you think this individual would feel? should we still respect such claims because they are personal?

          Would you seriously defend this person if someone was rude about this or would you still judge them and lump them in the category of those "who have lost their mind"?

          you state that its an ignorant and inflammatory comparison but to be honest it is not...for the most part some people who claim that Elvis is still alive (such people exist by the way) have the same reasons for those who claim god exist...at least from a logical standpoint..


          to be honest this is really a sociological problem as opposed to a matter of truth and fact....
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          Jan 16 2012: Hi Bridget,

          A LOT of people refer to Santa Claus?

          Well, I don't read all the posts so I cannot be sure. However, I have not noticed many references to the good Father Christmas.

          My comment was addressed to someone who asked me if I thought Abraham was a real person. My response was there may have been a person named Abraham but the Biblical Abraham may have been a composite of many people, or could also be a purely literary creation.

          That person then referenced Santa Claus.

          And, as Santa Claus is based on an actual person - Saint Nicholas of Myra - I said the reference was perhaps apt: a real person around whom a fanciful story was built.

          I think the only people who might be offended by such a discussion are those who believe the Bible is absolutely true and is not to be discussed, let alone questioned.

          Would you agree?
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          Jan 17 2012: Hi Bridgette,

          I think you might be confusing challenging, or blatantly rejecting, someone else's belief as ridicule of the person.

          Ridiculing a belief and ridiculing a person are not the same thing.

          My favourite example is our good friend Peter (Hi Peter.) Peter is a very nice fellow. Extremely patient and articulate. I like him.

          However, Peter believes (emphatically and categorically) that the earth is 6,000 years old.

          His "proof?"

          The Bible.

          This belief is simply nonsense. No matter how fervently Peter and other fundamentalists believe in it - the earth is not 6000 years old.

          Challenging, and even ridiculing, that belief is not the same as challenging and ridiculing Peter.

          There seems to be an assumption we should "respect beliefs" no matter how nonsensical they are.

          Of course, that is a position many people do adopt (sort of.)

          Usually, I find that what that means is: "You should not ridicule or reject "my beliefs" ... but it's okay if we challenge or reject other people's beliefs."

          As an example, many people who believe the Bible is "The Word of God" reject the Islamic claim (that, on the face of it, is stronger than the Christian claim) that the Qur'an is also The Word of God.

          And then there are those who think "theory" and "belief" are synonyms.

          They are not.

          Sure people get emotional when a belief they depend on for emotional security is challenged but that does not mean we should not do it.

          If that were true, our conversation might be limited to the weather.
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          Jan 17 2012: QUOTE: "... you don't go to the desert looking for a pool."

          Actually, that is where you would go looking for a pool. That is where we would need to build them.

          You wouldn't go to the ocean looking for a pool.
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          Jan 17 2012: Hi Bridget, I'm glad you understand my position and I appreciate your responses as well

          That is my point exactly and how you see how nonsensical a belief in Elvis being alive is, this is how I see some religious propositions (I'm not saying all, I am saying some). As an individual who is looking on the outside in, this is really how I see some religious claims. I'm not saying religious people are delusion and need to get psychiatric care, I'm just saying that some claims are logically equivalent to those beliefs about Elvis being alive.

          I have no problem with your disagreement, but just out of curiosity, do you really think that a belief in Elvis being alive and a Belief in something like the Virgin Birth are not on the same level? (we can add a belief in God as well)
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          Jan 18 2012: Actually, I thought the comparison to Elvis was genius.....but you are holding your own Bridget and those two guys are good! (what a hilarious thread!)
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          Jan 17 2012: Hi Bridget,

          I don't recall comparing God to Santa Claus.

          Just another curious question: Are you one of those folks who think you understand the Bible enough to comprehend it and to defend it? That seems to be your implication.

          And rather than respond to your well-written reply suffice it to say - except for this: "We can respect Peter even if we don't respect his beliefs" - I do not agree with you.

          The belief that the earth is 6000 years old is ridiculous (worthy of ridicule) and I do not think we need to withhold our derision simply to assuage Peter's or your feelings. In fact, I think we do him a disservice if we do. And your reasons for withholding an opinion, I simply reject.

          Oh, and as to the Bible NOT saying the earth is 6000 years old, you can take that up with Peter.

          He's pretty sure it does.

          ---

          And the old man Santa has nothing to do with Saturn the God. Except that both are associated with Christmas ... but for unrelated reasons.

          ---
          As an aside, do you have an opinion about, say, Christ Consciousness, the Rainbow Body, or Resurrection?
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          Jan 17 2012: "We can respect Peter even if we don't respect his beliefs. Disrespecting his beliefs is showing disrespect for him, because he has chosen what to believe."

          Soooo, which is it?
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          Jan 17 2012: Bridget, its a fair point that the Santa Claus vs God comparison is not a particularly useful one.
          Adults generally don't believe there is a Santa while they do believe in a diverse range of supernatural stuff. But even in the triviality of comparisons to fairies, invisible spaghetti monsters etc there are some points. Some supernatural beliefs that are generally scoffed at now where mainstream in places and times past. Some still believe in fairies and nature spirits.

          There have probably been millions of specific religious beliefs/interpretations over human history and yet believers still latch onto a specific one dependant on the time and place of birth..

          We are all human, and occasionally go overboard. Some make a lifetime habit of it. Other more or less often depending on where they are in their journey.

          I like how you turned the irony comment around - atheists often find it ironic that religious people answer the difficult question on how things got started with an even harder to explain god or gods. Yes, you can see it both ways.

          Suggest no one really knows if there is a god or godlike beings. If there are, no one really knows if any human interpretation is close to being correct, whether they have anything to do with humans and planet earth etc.

          I look at DNA, at the common threads across primates, mammals, vertebrates and can accept that we share a common ancestor with primates etc.

          How is thinking there is most likely some non supernatural cause a bigger assumption than any particular god view, when the universe as we see it now seems to work fine without god agency, while there are and have so many conflicting god interpretations.

          Not sure if having the majority believe in diverse and often conflicting gods interpretations is a compelling argument. I expect most interpretations are extinct. Also it seems as humans have developed a better understanding of the universe etc that the proportion of non believers seems to be growing.
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          Jan 17 2012: I would suggest comparisons of all the different beliefs/sects related to the different bibles more appropriate than with Santa. Between the lieralist supernatural beliefs and the non literalist Biblical interpretations. Then the other abrahamic beliefs. Then the relatively recent mormonism, JW etc. Then other monotheistic religions. Then less organised less traditional monotheist views. Then beliefs in multiple gods. Then Buddhism and related. Then every other religious or spiritual world view including the dead ones.

          I'm sure you get the point of the Santa comparison even if is is condescending. To some people, belief in a specific god view or prophets with supernatural claims e.g. Zeus, Ra, Odin, Jesus, Yahweh, Ganesh, Shiva etc is belief in a human made imaginary construct/mythology, a little bit like Santa.

          Interesting question - can you respect someone while completely disagreeing with their religious or non religious world view. A lot is probably in the eye of the beholder. Some may feel violated or deeply offended when their religious views are bluntly challenged. Some might see it as a lack of respect in terms of not showing 'proper' deference to religious views. Could be a new conversation.

          In some countries it is still a serious crime to blaspheme against the mainstream religion. Whippings for some is Saudi Arabia who are convicted of saying the wrong thing.
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          Jan 17 2012: So what you are saying is my beliefs are not worth respecting and you can reject them and me as picayune and argumentative without regard for my feelings?

          I'll go along with that.

          And now, I trust you will allow me to do the same without further comment.

          Fair enough?
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          Jan 17 2012: Hi Bridget,

          You asked earlier why is it necessary to, I guess you can say criticize or question ones belief when these beliefs are personal..and the answer is short a simple: its because beliefs (all beliefs) have consequences and whenever they manifest themselves into behaviors it can be both good or bad.

          Just look at the events of suicide bombing, or mothers killing their children because they believed that God told them too.

          Yes you can make the argument that they just took things out of context but that is not what I"m talking about here. I am talking about mere belief and the actions that follow from beliefs.
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      Jan 16 2012: QUOTE: "Got to love the irony."

      You sure do!
  • Jan 15 2012: To echo what Gerald said, it's because it makes no sense. However, if you look at the overarching rules, there really is no difference between the different monotheistic religions. In fact that is no difference between religions aside from the distinctive way that they word their beliefs.

    All religions preach roughly the same things. Those things boil down to love yourself, don't mistreat others and keep your faith in something. The biggest differences are the words used to convey these ideas and the words to describe or name the god-figure(s). And the reason for the different words of the same ideas and different names for the same deity is something more akin to human nature. We try to understand by seeing if we can put someone else's words into our own while seeing if the original assertion translated and still makes sense. The amazing thing is the fact of how quickly religious-based conflicts and fears would drop once those similarities are acknowledged by people.
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    Jan 15 2012: I think you have to realize that there is more to religion than truth claims. For some, the values that they get from it creates a certain way of life...some people follow a religion w/o really believing in a god.

    Anyhow, the answer to you question really has to do with culture and ones environment. If a person is born into a Hindu family, they are more than likely to be a Hindu..the same goes for other religions....

    Secondly, some people realize that the tenets of their religion are absurd at best...they realize that there is more to the world than what their religion provides.

    Perhaps 2000+ years ago the tenets of one religion would have been difficult to refute but the fact that modernity is so profound today only means that claims made 2000 years ago are incompatible with today''s scientific understanding of the world.

    One can believe in a god and have a personal, transformative, mystical relationship with God but that does not mean that the tenets of the religion you believe in is any more true than the next religion.

    So if you look at religion more as a value system that creates a frame work for people's lives as opposed to weather or not it is true, you will find the answer to your question
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    Jan 15 2012: Hello Vicky, my conclusion has been that none of the religions are ordained by any other than the ruling authorities which attempt to circumscribe the power of the people by weakening of the spirit through mis-information. Honestly, and I hope without sounding arrogant...I have become a much more loving, forgiving, and intelligent person since my turning away from organized religion industry. I am freer to contemplate all of the universal mysteries without undue influence of corporate denominations who are really afraid of the free thinking society. My personal worship has remained primarily unchanged minus the men and women who attempted to stand between creation and myself. I wish for you the best of all answers in your quest to know. Don't give up, the toughest part of the search is over, now. That is having the courage to question and doubt. You are a brave woman and the answers will be ours if you continue to ask. From my own experience, I had to accept the fact that truth is not always pretty, and rarely what I expected. It has caused strain for many of my oldest and dearest relationships with friends and family. That is when I had to remind myself that the relationship to the truth I sought was the priority in my life and everything else must fall where ever it may. I have never looked back and every day I witness friends and family coming closer and closer to finding their own answers as well. Thank you for asking such an important question on this day. Your TEDfriend, Tim
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    Jan 15 2012: so you realized that many people deeply believe in silly things. you just failed to draw the last logical conclusion.
  • Jan 15 2012: .
    Short answer: Because people are making up their religions independently, it appears.
    Different people > Different perspectives > Different agendas > Different gods > Different rules to follow.
    Atleast thats how we would expect things to go if people really were making it up, which is pretty much what we see and with no apparent repercussions from any of the other gods which are also claimed to exist and are reported to have an issue with this type of thing.

    You should also remember that Monotheism is relatively modern in terms of religion, so another question you should ask is why there were also *so many gods* with distinctive rules.
  • Jan 15 2012: Imagine that some religious text at some point in history was exactly 100% correct in absolutely every way.

    Religions evolve and change as interpretations shift, as translations are made and as the text itself is altered to reflect modern life.

    Inevitably eventually even that 100% correct religion will become 100% incorrect as every part of it evolves and changes with society.

    We have so many religions because religions don't come from god, they are man made.