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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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Vague religious thoughts
delirium happy
rho
I ponder religion quite a bit, both in the sense of finding my own way, and in the more general academic sort of sense. just a while earlier, it occurred to me that these thoughts actually coincide a lot with my thoughts on personal responsibility.

I remember discussing with people in the past how I don't think I could believe that any deity was inherently superior to me. It's like comparing apples and oranges. I'm not inherently superior to a tree. I'm much better than an average tree in terms of most human concepts. I could run rings around most trees intelectually, and in a physical fight, I'd probably come out on top. Put me in a photosynthesis competition with a tree though and I'd take a sound thrashing. Of course, this isn't even close to a fair comparison. In fact, it's about as unfair as comparing me with a deity. If there happens to be a god who happens to be omnipotent or omnicogitant or some such, then that does not make it inherently superior to me. That just happens to be one of its inate properties.

This is one of the reasons why I find myself incompatible with any religion that expects me to accept on faith things that come from authority. I cannot view my opinion as any less meanigful or valid than any other. I see people who say "well God obviously never meant for it to be" or "well even though I don't understand it, the Bible says it so it must be right" and I just find that attitude completely incomprehensible.

If we acknowledge that we are inherently inferior to anyone or anything else, then we are, in a sense, abdicating our own responsibility. Personal responsibility is something that is important to me. I am my choices. They are the only thing which I am entirely in control of. The situations I am in can fluctuate wildly beyond my control,, but how I respond to these situations is entirely my choice. If I say that something wasn't meant to be and therefore stop trying to effect it, then I'm abandoning a bit of my choice and responsibility. If I accept that someone or something else's opinion must be correct and that I therefore need not make my own decission on it, then I am also giving up a piece of myself. To me, this is a scary prospect.

To me, religion is meant to be something that is empowering. It aids our understanding of the universe. It can help us concentrate on making correct decissions. It can guide and teach us, but it shouldn't take away our own personal responsibilities and choices, because they are what truly make us ourselves.

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I've always thought the mentality of "you have to follow these rules in order to live a righteous life" is where religion went wrong. The idea being, if you follow those rules, eventually you will be rewarded. This is a flawed system, because if you are following the rules just because they are the rules, then you aren't really inherently good. You are just good at following directions.

At some point, religion strayed from being a way for people to find comfort, and instead became a way for people to seperate themselves into groups of people. Those groups of people more often than not feel the other groups are all doing wrong, and instead of loving them without prejudice, they attempt to change them.

For me, I grew up going to the baptist church for the first 7 years of my life. Three times a week, even. It never quite fit, even when I was that young. I'm not atheist, and I'm not agnostic. But even so, I feel that comfort inside of me, kind of a silent faith in the nature of the world. I didn't feel that in the years I was going to church regularly. Granted, I was 7. But it wasn't until at least 15 years later that I started to have some kind of faith and hope.

I don't quite agree with all of this, because I'm not sure that one thing necessarily follows from the other. Insert disclaimer that I'm not offended by your having different beliefs than me, and I'm just about to babble about how I see things which doesn't make either of us right, but I thought I'd babble about how I resolved some of this in my own mind and how I see things even though what worked for me is probably different from that which would work for you. (eh, I don't really need a disclaimer, you know how my mind works.) also some of this is my ideal beliefs. not how I feel 100% of the time, but what I believe is true despite my own Issues with religion and depression which prevent me sometimes from wanting to think about what I know is true for me.

For me, having a God who is all-powerful and all knowing and all wise as a higher power, superiod to me, does not make me any less valuable as a person. To me, it isn't a paradox that 1) He is the supreme being--perfect, an unknown essence, etc.-- and that I am a human being--lowly, fallible, far from perfect but doing my best in my own little microcosm of things--. and 2) My being vastly inferior to him does not make me less valuable or important. Being less than a deity doesn't negate my worth or take away my power as a human being.

This is actually similar to what you're saying, now that I've gotten it thought out to the point where this is pixels on a screen and not jumbled thoughts in my head, but I think the main difference is that for you, Because of (2), (1) can't be true. And for me despite (1) being true, (2) is just as valid and true. Or perhaps for me (2) follows from (1). If God is perfect, he cannot create something which is not perfect, which is not valuable, which is not worthwhile in its own right. And so as God's creation, I start out being valuable and good. And then you add to it my deeds and my merits, what I do well and what I don't do well, and I'm still a well balanced good person. I am not perfect--I am full of mistakes and problems, but I was created just the way God wanted me to be created, and in that way I am perfect. He didn't make mistakes with me, and what I do with what I'm given counts. And trying counts.

I agree that it's not fair to compare a human to a deity and that it's not fair to compare humans with trees. But then, is it really fair to compare anything? Let's compare the two of us. I've had experiences a, b, and c. and I did d, e, and f with them. And you've had experieences a, g, and h and done i, j, and k with them. We're different ages, different thought patterns, scarily alike in many ways, but different. And neither of us is more valuable than the other. In some ways, you're superior to me. You rock at playing ADOM, i'm just beginning. You're more patient than I am. You're more methodical as well. I'm sure there are areas were I'm superior to you. And it doesn't matter how it balances it out, really. Your being superior to me at ADOM (to go with an easy example) doesn't invalidate my inherit goodness as a person. My being inferior to you when it comes to patience doesn't make me bad and doesn't mean I should feel bad about myself. You can be the superior and I the inferior without me losing value, and visa versa. I don't need to be greater than God or equal to God to feel good about myself or to give me value. For me, God can be in His world superior to me, and the comparison doesn't affect me. It's best to just compare 20 year old Pthalo to 15 year old Pthalo and my projections for 25 year old Pthalo and deal with that.

I'm long winded today.

Also, I think the belief that "things will happen the way God intends so I don't have to do anything about it" is a logical fallacy. In general, yes, they will, but the little details, like "will you be one of the ones helping this come about or not?" is up to you. If God wants, He could make something happen, but I don't believe that God is about to pick anyone up by the seat of their pants and say "yo!" And people who subscribe to the beliefs about "well God obviously never meant for it to be" or "well even though I don't understand it, the Bible says it so it must be right" are using their religion as a cop-out. The Bible is good for broad sweeping truths and stories to learn from and history, but I don't personally believe the entire thing was meant to be taken literally, but rather as an example. People get worked up by the letters and forget the meaning behind them. I think religious texts, such as the Bible, were meant to be understood and thought about, not followed blindly.

And lastly, being inferior, to me, doesn't require any abdication of responsibility, because to me being inferior to someone or something does not require any loss of personal value or merit, and as a fallible human being I'm still obligated to try and do my best in all situations, to try to act responsibily and do the best I know how. To me, this is core to the meaning of life. I don't have to be equal to a deity. I don't have to be at the top of the pecking order to do the best damn job I can do from down here. And thinking this way is empowering. "I'm not perfect. I don't have to be. I'm prone to making mistakes and doing things without thinking. I'm vastly inferior to God and this does not negate my ability to do my best and does not mean I should hate myself for not being good enough. I'm good enough to be Pthalo and you're good enough to be rho, and all other comparisons are meaningless.

So to sum up, I disagree, but I find your viewpoints interesting, and you said you didn't mind if I was tangential and verbose. :)

This is one of the reasons why I find myself incompatible with any religion that expects me to accept on faith things that come from authority.

I wouldn't put that under superior/inferior, though... I'd think of it more in terms of experienced/less experienced. A bit like parents or adults vs a younger person.

The child or young person is not inferior because they haven't had as much life experience; they're simply less experienced. It's not a flaw, but something they can change by acquiring more experience. Some of the experience can come through their own discovering, and some by accepting others' experiences.

For example, you can form an opinion on whether you think cocaine is good for you or not based on others' accounts, without having to try it yourself. And I think this is similar - you're "accepting on faith" somebody who tells you "cocaine is bad for you because of Y". And in some situations, you may accept on faith somebody who tells you "X is bad for you" even if they don't provide a Y as a reason.

I think that when I think about it, I don't consider God that much superior to me, at least not inherently... just a lot more experienced (and better at doing The Right Thing because of self-control I still lack).

I cannot view my opinion as any less meanigful or valid than any other.

Well... if you think that Germany is made of Green Cheese, I'd consider your opinion less valid than mine, which is that it's made of earth and rocks and trees and stuff. In my opinion, there are some opinions which are simply Wrong, and others which aren't as good a description of How Things Are as others.

If I accept that someone or something else's opinion must be correct and that I therefore need not make my own decission on it, then I am also giving up a piece of myself.

*nods* I agree. Believing doesn't mean abdicating thought.

The way I see it, a good approach is something like this. If you hear something, think about it and see whether it fits into your world view, and act based on that. If it doesn't fit, but the person giving you that advice has a history of providing good advice, possibly accept it provisionally based on that and try it out while continuing to think about it. It may turn out to be right in the end even if you don't understand it.

Or put in other words, don't take something someone says at face value and as something to be accepted unquestioningly, but factor it into your considerations - and if it's from someone you consider much more experienced, give it a high weighting while you consider it.

In the end, the decision is yours, but I think it's right to accept opinions from others and to consider them before forming your own.

I'm not sure whether that made complete sense.

To me, religion is meant to be something that is empowering. It aids our understanding of the universe. It can help us concentrate on making correct decissions. It can guide and teach us, but it shouldn't take away our own personal responsibilities and choices, because they are what truly make us ourselves.

I think I agree with this.

The child or young person is not inferior because they haven't had as much life experience; they're simply less experienced. It's not a flaw, but something they can change by acquiring more experience. Some of the experience can come through their own discovering, and some by accepting others' experiences.

I was always a very obnoxious and precocious child though. I could never accept "because I say so" as a reason. Or rather, I could, but the only reason that I would respond to such a thing is that I knew that there could be repercussions from disobeying my parents. I wouldn't accept it as a reason in its own right. I haven't changed much. I always have to know the reason for pretty much anyhing, or I just won't do it.

In my opinion, there are some opinions which are simply Wrong, and others which aren't as good a description of How Things Are as others.

I don't think that my world view provides space for anything to be absolutely wrong (or, for that matter, absolutely right). I tend to view the universe in a holistic sense, and then to think that the closest that we can get to "truth" is a model which can adequately describe past observations and make accurate predictions for the future. This does tend to necessitate at least some degree of a solipsist approach to things. If I happened to go to Germany and experience it in all ways as being made of green cheese, and this didn't conflict in any other way with any of my other experiences, then I do think that this would be valid. You would be welcome and sensible to declare it wrong from your worldview, but I don't think it can be said to be absolutely wrong. I've never really contemplated this with respect to religion though, and I think I shall have to.

If it doesn't fit, but the person giving you that advice has a history of providing good advice, possibly accept it provisionally based on that and try it out while continuing to think about it. It may turn out to be right in the end even if you don't understand it.

That's reasonable, but how long do you wait?If there was someone whose opinion I trusted said, "no, don't do that!" then i wouldn't do it, but I would then want an explanation of why. Depending on how much I trusted the person, how much I wanted to do whatever it was, and so on, the amount of time that I would wait would vary, but in the end, if I wasn't given a reason then I would go back to my original position. In relation to almost entirely unrelated issues, I have recently come to the conclusion that while waiting things out is often a good option, you can only wait so long before you have to grasp the nettle and actually make a decission. No matter how much I trust somebody, I will not accept nothing beyond a "because I say so" indefinitely.

I'm not sure whether that made complete sense.

It did. I don't think I entirely agree with it, but it did make sense.

Ah yes, I hate being told 'don't do that, because I say so'... it might stop me doing it *now* (because it might be that there is not time to explain before I do a stupid thing and they need to stop me being stupid), but unless you explain *why* it's not going to stop me doing it at some other time.

I tend to think of deities as people with powers that humans don't have who we can ask for favours, and in return for favours (such as not smitting us) we should obviously provide something that they ask for (prayer, sacrifice, whatever). If some god ordered me to do something then I would probably do so, but more because disobeying gods has bad consequences than because the MustBeRight (tm), but they would have to order me in person.

I was also the kind of child which wouldn't do anything without a good reason. But I've found that God has been quite obliging in providing good reasons wherever He can, and has earnt my trust so where I don't quite understand the possible explanations for something, I'm willing to keep my distance.

Well I think you know that I'm fairly religious, I'm probably in it for the comfort value mainly, of knowing there's someone always there to talk to, and to mentally hug. Sort of thing. And it is empowering, very much so.

I'm pretty sure I believe God is omnipotent, but I don't really know whether I consider em superior.. I know that I dislike the sort of person who does the "Oh well it says so in the bible so it must be true" thing. But that's because I don't believe the bible is a perfect record of God's will. So I avoid any sort of organised religion, I just believe on my own, which works okay mostly, but it can be a bit lonely.

So I can have my cake and eat it. Because I wouldn't have a religion if that weren't possible :p

I have nothing interesting to add, but I enjoyed reading this entry, and it and the comments have given me a lot to think about.

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