Does discussing religion enrich lives?

This question was posed during a debate on Facebook regarding a discussion on… well… God’s existence and people’s inconsistency in taking the Bible literally. I figured it was a good thing to get back to blogging with. Yes, I’m still alive, survived my airplane rides, but have had a lot to process and sort out, like life without God, or much of a family. (No connection between the two.)

So, a world with no religious discourse, that sounds like a world with no religion, great, I can live with that. Now we just need to convince Christians that the only command that most Christians really take seriously should be ignored like the others (sabbath keeping, pork, shaving, mixed breed cattle, mixed textiles and vegetable gardens). This command is the one to ‘make disciples of all nations’. As long as there is this mentality, then religious discussions must, as a necessity, continue.

Since religion is probably objectively bad for modern society, and (at least all the ones so far invented) are so obviously, not true, it would be a good idea to continue in the vein of bloggers and writers around the world that are working to free people from the imaginations of ancient cultures. Here is the answer, the discourse can be fulfilling, since it can have positive results. Fulfilling is a little vague, but I think it’s more than just ridding the world of one of many justifications for evil.

So, is it worthwhile debating the existence of God, is that fulfilling? Again, a bit vague, but when I’m done you can decide whether I have fulfilling. I’d say yes, an emphatic yes. My deconversion started on this blog, and on other people’s blogs, debating, examining arguments, checking facts (you’ll be surprised at how much christianity crumbles when you just check to see if the “facts” from the apologist are indeed facts), and finally, trying to defend the Bible as something worth believing from a rational standpoint.

It was the uncomfortable places I found myself in, the discussions I had with believers, and unbelievers, and the final realisation that if the God of the Bible does exist, he’d not be worth the effort. I won’t reiterate Dawkins’ famous description from The God Delusion, but for those who know it, or who will look it up, that’s what I think of the Old Testament God. My quest for the truth was sincere, I tried, I prayed, I researched, and I just can’t find truth in the existence of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus or Muhammed.

This discomfort was compounded by issues at home, and eventually a life of moving from place to place, I still do this. For readers out there who don’t know me personally, I teach horses to be ridden, so I tend to work myself out of work, and then move to the next breeder. My life has been somewhat upside down, but it is a strangely more promising life without the hope for a hereafter, without the belief that the amazing rainbows I see are anything more than a fortuitous assortment of water and light unintentionally formed by natural occurrences to provide something aesthetically pleasing. That, I am lucky enough to be there at the right moment, to glimpse the beauty of the universe. Instead of believing that they represent the promise of an unreliable God to never eradicate mankind with a flood again. I wonder if that means he’ll do it some other way.

I work hard (it doesn’t look it), I fall, rarely, but it happens. I enjoy every minute of being the first person to climb onto a horse’s back. Sometimes I’m anxious, mostly just excited. It’s exhilarating, and it’s real. I don’t need to add superstition, or God protecting me or anything else into it, it’s just fun. It’s this life, my one life, and I’m living it doing something I love, not sacrificing it for a hopeful, heavenly, hereafter of complete subservience to a totalitarian peeping Tom who watches you shit.

Am I fulfilled? Did having those nasty discussions result in fulfillment. My life before of constantly feeling like I was ignoring what I knew to be true for things I wanted to be true. This wasn’t fulfilling, it kept me in books, it kept me from living. It kept me focused on God, and not on life, I truly believed that if God was my focus all else would come right, so I made God my focus. Work suffered, I didn’t stop completely, relationships with friends suffered as I tried to foist my beliefs at them, such was my love for God. Has having the discussions that lead to my deconversion offered fulfillment? Absolutely!

Sure, religious discussion often go nowhere, especially with religious minds involved, but they can be fulfilling, but my hope is for them to be unnecessary.

This is by no means comprehensive, and sort of got away with me, but hey, have something from the heart as my return gift. Any issues you have may be addressed in the comments.


44 thoughts on “Does discussing religion enrich lives?”

    1. Possibly, not sure yet, it wouldn’t be fair if I wasn’t charitable, which was the promise at the start, I won’t change that and continue, but obviously I wasn’t in a place to be charitable. If I do continue, it will start slowly. But Kanga4 is going through the Bible slowly and expressing her issues. Perhaps you’d like to read her posts on the subject.

      1. ” I wonder if that means he’ll do it some other way.”

        Fire, obviously, the symbolism, or alchemy, would hardly be complete otherwise. Also, it says so in 2 Peter 3.

      2. He’ll kill them all with fire? I understand the popular belief to be that God is too cruel to kill with fire, but has decided keeping people alive while burning them indefinitely is far better. Perhaps I’m wrong.

        A few other things, Peter also supports the universalist standpoint, in fact, God not wanting anyone lost seems to be the basis for that standpoint. Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel and Obadiah support the complete and utter extinction of the soul, which doesn’t support universalism or the popular view. While the Obadiah and Ezekiel texts could support the SDA/JW point of view, Ecclesiastes seems to support the atheist view.

        So, will God kill with fire? Or simply keep people alive in fire? Is the fire merely a literary device? Like smashing kids against rocks, you never know. Will everyone ultimately be in heaven as implied by Peter? And finally, with so many options, how does one decide (bearing in mind the wrong decision could land you in a very hot spot for a very long time).

        So again, I wonder if he’ll do it again, using some other method rather than water. The manual is too vague.

        Btw, fishing the Bible out of my book box, will start from 1 Sam 9, I think is where we were.

      3. The symbolism is that the Earth itself was already reborn via water (in the same way we are supposed to be, according to 1 Peter), and will at the coming of Christ be reborn via fire. Making the earth to go through the same process that we are supposed to go through and like us will eventually enter (or in the earths case, be) the celestial where God dwells. So just as the fire of the spirit proves our faith and cleanses us in the process of sanctification so the burning at the coming of the Lord is supposed to sanctify the earth so that only righteousness is found on it.

        This isn’t referring to the eternal burning of perdition, just as those at the time of the flood were killed but were (are) preached to so that they can be judged according to their deeds in the flesh but live according to God in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18-4:6). God so loved the world that He sent His Son, not to condemn the world but that everyone may be saved, if they wish to be. Even under the assumption that 2 Peter was not written by Peter (or the author of 1 Peter), whoever wrote it was familiar with both Paul and 1 Peter in terms of the symbolism being used, and who is judged how, so forth.

        Ecclesiastes 12:7 and 12:13-14, 11:9, 8:13, and a few others do suggest the continuation of being after death and the judgement and blessing or punishment for ones works. Ezekiel has the valley of dry bones suggesting a resurrection; It can easily be read as supporting the JW position, it seems likely (to me) that Ezekiel was of the tradition that became the Sadducees. Obadiah does suggest a judgement, but ‘as thought they had not been’ can be read as supporting the view of extinction of the soul.

      4. …And the eternal burning in Hell, or any of the burning really, is the best an omnipotent, omniscient and compassionate God could come up with? Either, he isn’t compassionate, the eternal burning proves that, or he couldn’t find a better system, and he’s not all powerful.

        I sometimes wonder if believers realise that “all powerful creator”, essentially means, someone who is responsible for everything. That, of course, includes his chosen consequence, for the moral code he just made up willy nilly. Surely, he could’ve made a world without any concept of Evil, if not, He isn’t all powerful.

      5. I would think instant vaporization is much more compassionate than drowning which is much more compassionate than a long and painful cancer but that may be just my own preference.

        That is why Aquinas says that God desires good for all but not all good for all and that Hell is a good place; Also the idea behind the Cathars: The Book of the Two Principles attacks the idea really well showing that, for example, under the traditional Christian view of things Satan and the 1/3 of Heaven had and could have no real choice in the matter of falling, being created just that way and placed in just those circumstances by a God that is all knowing. Which is why the Cathars held that rather than one Principle there are two prime movers, one good the other evil.

        Obviously there is the response that if the best of all possible world involves the moral choices of free actors then actors have to be actually free to choose evil, otherwise it is the appearance of choice only and not morally significant as they could not choose otherwise. Leading to the conclusion of if we want a world free from evil then we must choose to be free from evil. Clearly that still leads to their being a concept of evil independent of God and agents who are more than just automatons put into motion by God.

        My faith of course changes that significantly by severely limiting what God is responsible for and what is possible, as well as also saying that everyone that exists (and everything, and everything that will ever exist anywhere at anytime) is, at least partially, its own independent actor which is not and cannot be created or destroyed and is co-eternal with God. Also that there are things which God could potentially do but that if He did then He would cease to be God.

        They symbolism in question with the baptism of water and of fire (or spirit) is of course symbolic of being born in the first place. Which takes material that was inert and by way of water, blood, and spirit turns it into a living thing. It is also (of course) symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice for us, who was the Lamb slain from before the foundations of the world when all the son’s of God (us) shouted for joy.

      6. “Best of all possible worlds” which is saying God can’t do ANYTHING he wants, which makes him, not-all-powerful.

        But that isn’t my issue. Morality, good and evil, are only there, because God chose them to be. God could just as well create a universe where such things didn’t exist, but people still had the freedom to choose what they do.

        So, basically the Euthyphro dilemma, either good and evil are just a bad idea by a cruel god, or they exist independently of God, and he is irrelevant to morality, simply a self appointed moral policeman.

        As for free will, we have good evidence that people have limited choice, but not FREE will, so that’s a poor argument too.

      7. Depends on what is meant by all powerful; God is capable of doing otherwise but would cease to be God in doing so (according to the doctrine in my faith), so certainly not all-powerful in the normal sense.

        Morality is largely independent of God; He can make covenants with us that are morally binding on both parties. God therefore can’t create a universe where such a thing doesn’t exist. He is relevant to morality in the sense that He is there to save us from our own moral failings, which can allow us to morally perfect if we so choose to be, and if we choose not to be than we are not able to return to His presence but that is up to us.

        Moral agency is a better term for what is often called free will; we are able to make choices between various actions and those choices can be morally relevant. Under the constraints which we are place we are free to act, as is everything else.

      8. Let me get this straight, we are moral agents, and can choose morally good actions, or morally bad ones? Then God, who can’t seem to stick by the moral code in his own word, gets to help us through our moral issues? Gets to judge us? Shouldn’t God work on getting it right first? Perhaps, a history that doesn’t involve Him being a genocidal maniac who is overly senstive?

      9. Jesus Christ, who is God and is the one doing the judging, did live up to the moral code that God gave and gave us a moral code that supersedes the prior one. He was a morally perfect person and He took upon Himself all of our moral imperfections. That is the standard by which we can judge God as the other actions of God in dealing with situations of life, death, war, plagues, and disasters are outside of what we have the knowledge and power to control or judge.

        It is immoral for us to kill, but when we do it as sanctioned by the state in war then the question becomes is the war just. How much different is the situation of God, as God, where everyone dies? One can’t blame God for killing everyone that ever lived and can only judge God based on in what order everyone died, for which judgement we don’t have any of the relevant information.

      10. Jesus is God, so saying Jesus lived up to the moral code is saying God lived up to the moral code.

        So when God consumed the families of Korah and his Cohorts, punishing children of the offenders, he broke his own command that children shouldn’t be punished for their parents misdeeds. Likewise, when he commanded the genocide of the Amelekites to Saul, it was 400 years after the incident for which they were punished.

        When he commanded Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Jephtah, Samson, Samuel, David (blah blah, you get the point) to kill, he went back on his command not to kill.

        When he puts lying spirits, false prophets and strong delusions out there to mislead people, he is going back on his anti-deceit edicts.

        When he told Hosea to marry a “promiscuous women” he went back on his adultery laws.

        When God commanded the massacre at Midian, he broke his commandment not to bear false witness against someone else, since it wasn’t Midian who’d perpetrated the crime, but according to the only account fitting the description of the crime prior to number 31 involved Moab, not Midian. And then he had them killed, and the kids killed, because their parents did something, and then the virgin women, who were spared death, were raped.

        Seriously, I think it’s pretty obvious God couldn’t live up to God’s moral code, not if the Bible is actually true in any useful sense. Try this one, from the New Moral code, “do to others as you’d have them do to you.” Yes, I’m sure god would love to be tossed in a fire for not believing something for which there is no good reason to believe. I’m sure God would like to be coerced into believing something through threats of violence from a more powerful being. God cannot be a supreme moral anything apart from supremely morally inconsistent.

      11. I think you missed half of what I wrote; we judge state actors differently than individual actions (a policeman killing a terrorists is a hero and not a murderer) and don’t have the information needed to judge all of Gods actions outside of specific contexts. God of necessity kills everyone that ever lived (in some sense).

        “actually true in any useful sense”

        You seem to be tied to either the Bible is all true or all false; there are other options. The progressive Christians for instance reject quite a lot of the Bible and some don’t even believe what they keep in more than a superficial sense but still find it valuable. My faith holds the Bible is flawed by edits and mistransmission/mistranslation; so I don’t have a problem with the Josiah reforms and Deuteronomist history that happened and so much of the history in the Bible is flawed, written in such a way as to be propaganda with every battle (even ones that didn’t happen) attributed to God and God approving of everything done.

        Likewise you have an odd idea about salvation/punishment, I believe I have pointed out Romans 2 previously.

      12. Nope no odd ideas, if you believe the incredible without questioning that it probably didn’t happen, then you get saved, regardless of whether you actually obeyed any of the moral laws. And if you don’t believe, on moral grounds, because the Bible is clearly good guidance to forming a society of bigotry and hatred, which it did, then you burn. Seems to be pretty standard.

        No, I can accept that some is true and some is false, how did you decide which was which? I’m assuming you have all your bodyparts, and most of your possessions, or at least some device that has internet. Funny how the bit about giving away everything you own to the poor (or doing it like in Acts) doesn’t appeal to the modern Christian mind, and thus isn’t really a serious one, but homosexuality, or Islam, now that’s bad shit.

        I think some things in the Bible are true, like Marks account of the Marys never telling anyone they’d seen the resurrected Jesus, because they hadn’t, there wasn’t one to see.

      13. Standard evangelical maybe.

        In terms of the history, I am not sure which is which, let the archeologists sort that out as they still are. The law of consecration is an interesting subject, I live it the best that I can.

        I don’t think the Bible says anything about Islam.

      14. Yeah, it probably isn’t referring to anything like Islam when it talks about other religions.

        The law on consecration is infuriating, because the manual is more than a bit vague.

      15. The Bible also doesn’t address Confucianism, Zoroastrianism,or Mandaeanism and they already existed and were in contact with the Jews (and Zoroastrianism and Mandaeanism both appear to have had significant influence on Judaism). The Bible is a record of Gods dealings with one particular set of people and God told them what they needed to know (namely because they didn’t live up to what they should have they would be scattered, persecuted, and fear for their lives for generations before being gathered once again), and not what pertained to other peoples to which God also inspired, spoke to, or had covenants with.

      16. That is part of what they did, whether that was from God or something that God expected of them is a different question. Religion makes a great propaganda tool and placing hatreds and atrocities in a religious context can make otherwise decent people defend (and commit) horrors like the Holocaust, the Cathar crusade, so forth.

      17. The words and stories in the Bible are not sufficient alone. Even external verification of the particulars of the history in the Bible isn’t sufficient to believe the incredible. The knowledge of God and of the truth that is in the Bible must come from God and comes to us via way of the Spirit through asking God and doing what we know to be right.

      18. So it’s really just a personal experience? Like a kid with an imaginary friend, who they experience as very real, despite the friend not being there?

      19. You do realize that all of science is based on experience? so unless you want to retreat to solipsism that probably isn’t the best line of attack.

      20. No, you’re wrong, science isn’t based on “this makes me feel good.”
        “I feel like the Christian God is talking to me, but haven’t bothered trying all the others if they yield the same result.”

        So, let’s apply a bit of scientific reasoning to this religious experience. Is it repeatable? Yes, many people get (er) a feeling when involved in religious practices, or exposed to certain religious stimuli.

        Does it matter what God you believe in? No, all religious people have very real feelings of involvement and communion with a wide variety of incompatible deities, who all claim to be either the only one, or the most powerful. As it turns out, you could probably make up a God tomorrow, get a compelling speaker, some gullible people, and you’d have them all having “feelings”, such is the power of suggestion.

        Does this prove anything? Yes, either all the God’s exist, and are all liars, or the experience doesn’t involve anything supernatural. What’s more likely? Or perhaps there are other options too, but I doubt any will come in as more probable than the experiences are subjective and have more to do with ones inner psyche than anything outside of themselves, or nature.

        And before someone says that God revealed himself to different societies in different ways. Note, he gave a whole lot of different ways for them to worship, and claimed all those ways to be the only correct way, leading to wars and bigotry. If he did exist, why would anyone want to worship something so cruel, oh yes, fear of Hell.

        So, no, science doesn’t work like religious experience, it would examine all cases equally. Religious people tend to put greater value in experiences that support their claim, and less (generally none at all) to exactly the same kind of experience when it doesn’t support their claim.

        If we gave all similar experiences (ie. Experience of an unseen non-spacial being) as equal, we’d need to believe equally in the imaginary friends of Moses, Paul, Muhammed, Arjuna, and every kid who’s ever had an imaginary friend.

        So please don’t expect anyone to buy into scienctific inquiry being anything close to a religious experience.

      21. Of course religion doesn’t work quite like science, for one science is built off of observation while religion is based on revelation.

        That every one in all religions can be touched by the Spirit seems to be supporting evidence for the existences of the Spirit, and should lead everyone to question their assumptions that they bring to the experience. God loves all His children and doesn’t leave them comfortless or without guidance, but God is not the only actor involved; we bring our own ideas to the experience and there is also the devil to help mess things up further.

        If anyone is discounting others experiences then they are just as bad as the atheists and only one step away from solipsism.

        The blind don’t discount the existence of light even though they can not see. And being touched by the spirit, hearing the voice of God, seeing an angel, or even seeing God is quite a bit different than having an imaginary friend. You are asserting that the vast majority of the world is insane and incapable of distinguishing between something they actually experience and something they only imagine, I suppose it must feel good to consider yourself such a special snowflake, but just because you haven’t personally circumnavigated the earth doesn’t mean it isn’t round.

      22. Hmm, I’ve seen a few eclipse, it’s not too difficult to see the shape of the earth as it throws a shadow on the moon.

        And no, Atheists aren’t solipsists, simply people who acknowledge that we do experience things that are well far from what we interpret them to be. Simply, we don’t really experience the world as a globe, but more as a flat surface we move around on. The flat earth was based entirely on a collective experience that turned out to be incorrect.

        Most people believed in a flat earth. I suppose most of the global population of the global population back then were “insane and incapable of distinguishing between something they actually experience and something they only imagine.”

        That’s problematic anyway, because people sometimes do really experience things they imagine to be real.

        So, it’s not that atheists don’t take experience seriously, it’s your interpretation we’re not taking seriously. We don’t take it seriously for very good reasons too. Firstly, it would involve the existence of both monotheism and polytheism.

        Secondly, all powerful deities with laws and customs that do differ, all of which are the ONLY correct way to salvation, makes for problems, if it is one God, then it’s a very confused one, and polytheists are wrong. If there is more than one God, then the Bible, the Quran, and the Torah, are all clearly incorrect on a very basal level.

        A further problem with the differing ways to salvation is, Christianity explicitly states that works can’t get you to heaven, while other religions are based entirely on works.

        I’m afraid, it’s logically not all one god, and to accept such a theory, is to discredit every religious text to such an extent so as to make them utterly useless as guides to God. If the stuff about whether there is one God or many, or whether it matters which “way” you use, or whether salvation can or can’t be achieved through works, then how can we assume any of these texts actually say anything worthwhile about the incredible things they claim?

  1. The collective experience was not incorrect, the conclusions and assumptions made based on the experience were wrong. Just like with the Bible, people have experiences with God in relation to things in the Bible and then make assumptions based on their understanding of the Bible (what it is, what is in it, how to interpret it). The experiences themselves are not wrong, and any theory which throws out something that someone has actually experienced must be discounted, but the interpretations assigned to the experience (like the Bible being infallible) must, of necessity, be wrong in most (or likely at least partially all) cases.

    Only evangelicals believe that works are not necessary for salvation, and they do not make up a majority of Christianity.

    I prefer the way discussed in Moroni 10:3-7 as a method for obtaining some greater degree of knowledge on the subject.

    1. Except you’ve given me a very good reason not to believe anything incredible from the Bible, or from the Book of Mormon, since you’ve just stated that the experiences can be misinterpreted. So, Jesus being resurrected is more likely an Elvis not dying misinterpretation by a huge number of people.

      Basically, what you are saying is that we should accept the interpretation that something very improbable, with NO objective evidence supporting it, but reject any part of the interpretation YOU disagree with. Which is my point, religious people judge “correct” off their own preconcieved ideas, and someone is correct, and has had a good interaction with God the moment they agree with you. Your opinion is the yardstick.

      I’m not sure what the reference to evangelicals not making up the vast majority of Christianity was all about, that is irrelevant, you’re simply disregarding their experience in place of your own. Let’s face it, LDS’s make up a very small portion of the population, so can we discount their experiences for the same reason you discount the evangelical position?

      1. Evangelicals are because you are continually referencing Christianity as only requiring that one believe in Christ without doing any works, and that is only an Evangelical position, not mainline protestant, not restorationist, not Catholic, not Orthodox. It would be like me asserting that all of Christianity believes that Jesus visited the Americas after his resurrection, when only my own small portion of Christianity believes that.

        I haven’t given you any reason to doubt your own experiences or to not seek out new experiences which provide additional information. The only thing to doubt are the assumptions that you bring to the experiences. When someone sees and talks to the resurrected Lord then they have a sure knowledge that the Lord is resurrected and that He said whatever He said. They should be decidedly less certain of their interpretations of what the Lord said, that is the only thing they should doubt.

        No evidence? There is all manner of evidence which supports the hypothesis, but like all evidence it is possible to have it support other hypothesis, especially when one is invested in that other position. You have to twist it and nearly out right lie to say that some things aren’t clear evidence for God’s existence but always possible.

        Your point it part of the point that I am trying to make, with the additional point that because preconceived ideas play a role in interpreting experience that everyone should be certain of their own experience and less certain of their interpretation of their experiences, including me and those that agree with me.

      2. I’m going to start at the end, all this evidence? What is it? Show me?

        People have experiences, they misinterpret those experiences, we agree on this. So why should the misinterpretation not be the idea that because we can’t explain it we should fill the gap with god, what makes your misinterpretation more valid than the evangelical misinterpretation.

        And ALL christianity says works can’t do it, faith is fundamentally important to ALL christian doctrine, works by itself can never do it in any of the Christian groups you mentioned it, the Christian God isn’t transfixed on people doing good so much as he’s transfixed on having his ego rubbed. On the other hand, the Hindu pantheon isn’t going to bring you back as a tree if you lived a good moral life, works alone is good enough. In fact hinduism is broad enough that one can be an atheist and still achieve higher planes of existence. So stop with the dichotomy of either faith or works, the point is, faith is not always important, and works are not always important, therefore some basic fundamentals aren’t compatible, but we should assume you are right and these other people are wrong, based on?

        Evangelicals require only faith, some god given belief systems require only works, what makes your interpretation superior? At least I’m consistent in pointing out that while I experienced sensations with vastly different brands of Christianity, completely incompatible with each other, and have experienced those same feelings while having no belief. So, I believe that it’s chemical reactions in the brain, brought on by certain circumstance within the world, not from something for which (I’m going to repeat this) no reasonable evidence exists. Of course, the devil may have done it, there’s always that, which kind of proves that no evidence will ever be good enough for most religious people to give up their beliefs, built in loopholes designed to ignore evidence.

        If you going to point to the Book of Mormon, I can simply point out that it was written by a convicted fraudster. This of course doesn’t mean he wasn’t being honest, but it does mean that we have good reason to doubt what he said, especially since it contains some rather incredible claims.

        You still haven’t answered, what is the correct way to discern what in the scriptures (now we’re dealing with a large group, all deities being equal) is valid and what isn’t?

        There is a further problem, what about polytheism? The ecumenical idea you speak of is very western, and very monotheistic. Basically you’re saying every culture experienced your deity in different ways, what about the cultures which experience more than one deity? I guess they were mistaken, or perhaps the devil did it.

        So, while you’re saying I can’t assume everyone who had an experience with one God is mistaken, you’d be willing to assume everyone who comes up with an interpretation incompatible with yours is mistaken. At least I’m being consistent, and the measure isn’t just my opinion, if you can show me decent evidence, then I’d be willing to change my mind.

        Perhaps your god is actually a liar and polytheism is correct. Perhaps the monotheistic idea was the misinterpretation, we have no way of knowing, and no evidence.

      3. Mormonism is not Monotheistic in any real sense of the word but rather Monolatrist.

        I willing to discount all interpretations that do not account for my experience. I am willing to use the experiences of the Hindu and am fine with the Hindu using my experience as long as neither I nor they discount the others experience itself, just the interpretation. This is a basic feature of dealing with data and hypothesis.

        The Hindus are even bigger about everyone experiencing deity in different ways and, in addition,to having equally valid paths even if they are contradictory so I am not sure how you say the idea is western. Western has been more into exterminate everyone that disagrees with ones position.

        God speaks to all people, and the god of this world (per Paul) also speaks to all people. I am in no position to be able to judge everything about which is which, even when they contradict what my current understanding of what I know. I know only what God has given to me and must act accordingly, recognizing that others may have received different knowledge from God.

        Moroni 10:3-5 which is also largely equivalent to some things in the Bible is the pattern I use to judge other scriptures, and even with that I do not claim to understand the relation of all the various scriptures. If anyone else has a procedure that they would rather have me use on their scripture that I do not find morally objectionable then I am willing to follow that procedure. Even in the cases where I have not received knowledge in relation to other scriptures I am still not in a position to doubt that others have.

        Joseph Smith was not a convicted fraudster, the case in question was not one in which a conviction could have been given. He was a treasure hunter which was what was determined and did so via seer stone. This he admitted to even. Since one of the claims about the Book of Mormon is that it was done by a seer that Joseph admits to being a seer and using it to try and hunt for treasure seems to support the claim of the Book of Mormon, rather than discount it as you believe. That he tried to use his seership to hunt for treasure was probably not the smartest idea, but still a completely understandable one.

        All of Christianity says that works alone are insufficient and that we are saved only by the grace of Christ, they do not say that works are not needed. If we don’t do the works then our belief is vain and we do not actually have faith. If we are not born again of water and of the spirit via baptism then we haven’t done what Christ commanded.

        The gnosticism of the evangelicals contradicts the very documents that the evangelicals claim to use and if a position is self contradictory than we must say that it is wrong. If they had received it via revelation then we can say that we haven’t received that and that it contradicts what we have received so without further knowledge from the Lord we can’t accept that position, but not that they are necessarily wrong.

        All things denote there is a God, from the order of the universe to the light of morality that is in each of us. More specifically, the Book of Mormon has in the front the sworn witness of multiple people that actually saw the plates and the Jews again have Jerusalem.

      4. “if a position is self contradictory than we must say that it is wrong”

        But it isn’t contradictory to say that a specific book contains gods rules and then discount all the uncomfortable ones.

        I don’t believe Jesus specified a baptism by water, but he did say “give all your possessions to the poor.” And the early church gave their possessions to the organised body and that body doled the wealth out among the poor, which now included the previously wealthy among them. This seems like a definite command, and a definite following of it by the early church. Funny that if it catches on today other religious groups would immediately call them a cult. So keeping specific commands of Jesus, that definitely have biblical support, is something Bible believers don’t do, even if they have baptism by water.

        I like that, you’d use a method that you don’t find morally objectional, but how about the morally objectional texts? So here it is, I’ll use my discretion, and some observations about society and morality to make moral decisions. If anyone would like me to use a manual/book of some kind, that’s fine, as long as I don’t find it morally objectional.

        Interpretations and experiences, I’m saying there is an experience, and I am looking at the interpretation of it. There is a strong track record of people putting supernatural explanations on things they don’t understand, like bipolar, or epilepsy, but we have very good evidence that when the mystery is solved it turns out that the supernatural explanation isn’t necessary. We have not one instance of anything supernatural being proven to be the cause of anything. I’m going to go with, things can happen in the world, the power of suggestion is great, and even politicians and motivational speaker can get very emotional results from creating the right atmosphere and speaking well. When you throw the suggestion of the supernatural into a situation likely to generate unusual feelings, it’s like sending a rubber snake out into the Loch Ness, people will make certain connections.

        This doesn’t dispel any experience, it acknowledges that the experience happened, and looks at what we do know about the world and draw quite reasonable conclusions. I can’t prove it, but there’s more evidence for it than the existence of God.

        By the way, this argument is pointless anyway, your whole argument is based on fallacious reasoning. Just because lots of people believe in a god, doesn’t mean such a thing exists. They call it argumentum ad populum, or an argument to popular opinion. And that’s all I’m disputing, the opinion that it is a supernatural experience. Just think in the dark ages, people believed that the world was flat, lost of them, therefore it was. Until you can remove this fallacy, you don’t have much, since your argument isn’t evidence, it’s an appeal to popular opinion.

      5. Again with the law of consecration, something that I have covenanted to do and which to the best of my ability and as it is currently instituted I do practice, and yes many do consider Mormonism a cult, though that doesn’t play a big role in it (as we are only living the most limited version of it).

        In regards to the text themselves being morally objectionable, I think it is important to take into context where and when they were written. It doesn’t rule them out a priori because they have objectionable material, unless the expectation is that the text is itself supposed to be perfect and infallible. Even then though, there is still the question of whether my view of morality is actually complete and not itself flawed, so leeway as to things that I find difficult to accept as being right but which could actually be right has to be allowed.

        I dislike the term supernatural, God operates within nature. Science doesn’t actually look at the right questions to be able to say that God or any other actor did it, just that it is.

        I disagree with you as to the level of evidence, you didn’t even consider the evidences suggested.

        It is not based on argument ad populum but on not assuming that everyone is lying when they say they have an experience (or deceived). The existence of illusions or hallucinations doesn’t mean that people don’t have vision or that it can’t generally be trusted, not even if one is themselves blind.

      6. “if a position is self contradictory than we must say that it is wrong.”

        So that, combined with the comment on hinduism makes it wrong, I’m glad you ruled that out.

        I find this contradictory: a loving god expecting worship, without giving a decent, not-vague, set of instructions and any real evidence of his existence.

      7. The gathering of the Jews to Israel is a very clear evidence that God is real:

        “The LORD lives, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands where he had driven them” – Jeremiah 16:15.

      8. The fact that Tyre still exists, Egypt has never been uninhabited for 40 years, Paul stated that “the whole world” had been preached to in his day, and half the Messianic prophecies didn’t come true with Jesus, is clear evidence that you are cherry picking.

        The fact that Muhammed predicted sub atomic particles is clear evidence that he was inspired by Allah, and that his assertion that you are incorrect is correct.

        See how your evidence isn’t clear evidence of anything.

      9. Obviously Christ only fulfilled half the prophecies, that is kind of the point. 100 years ago the Jews still didn’t have a homeland so under your logic it was a failed prophecy, until it wasn’t.

        I was under the impression that Egypt was conquered but perhaps if literalness is your thing then their is always the future.

      10. “There is always the future.” Which is kind of like saying, it isn’t possible to prove this wrong. Tyre may still be destroyed and never be rebuilt. Let’s assume that a large nation like America attacked and destroyed Tyre, and enforced it never being rebuilt. If this happened, the high percentage of Christian dogma in the US would make it a self fulfilling prophecy, like Memphis.

        Egypt was conquered, the prohpecy predicted a 40 year period of no living creatures crossing over the land. In the event of a nuclear holocaust in Egypt, there’d probably still be cockroaches, so although the prophecy happening is possible, it’s highly improbable.

        Again, how does one decide what to take literally, and what not to?

  2. Alexander did lay waste to Tyre and built a causeway to it, and Tyre wasn’t ever again an independent state like before (Also, the rebuilt Tyre wasn’t even the same entity anymore as the city not on the island was, prior to Alexander, a different city then Tyre).. So you are taking something that definitely seems to be fulfilled nearly completely literally and complaining that it is a failed prophecy, which seems to be willful denial of the facts and the scriptures. Same with Egypt.

    1. Ellen White predicted that the Old Jerusalem would never be rebuilt, and according to your argument it hasn’t, the old city walls, and the new city walls are nowhere near in the same place as the City of Christ’s day. I trust you accept this as a fulfilled prophecy, since the new one would have to be destroyed for the old one to be rebuilt, so it’s unlikely White could now be proved wrong.

      I’m doing a post specifically on Tyre, and will post that so we have a starting point more relevant to the discussion than this post. I will then do Egypt, which has a large number of failed prophecies on it, including the one in previously mentioned.

      1. Jerusalem is still Jerusalem, but if I were trying to prove Ellen White wrong about things that wouldn’t make my top twenty list.

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