Study Says Videogames "Problematize" Religion as Violent

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I'm surprised (as I'm sure most everyone else is) that the study didn't even take a look at Dead Space...

ReiverCorrupter:

BrotherRool:

God is perfect, not as descriptor, but as a thing. Literally perfect.

Someone hasn't been reading their Kant. Perfection is not a predicate. I hope we aren't giving an ontological argument for the existence of God. Those went out of style in the 1700s.

BrotherRool:

Pascal's wager I'll talk about more, because it's something i particularly joy because it suits my world view very well. The point about pascals wager isn't actually about hell as such. It's simply if life is finite, than ultimately there is nothing to be won or lost. It happens, you die, you don't even get to know what happens. The most important thing you care about now will be more than nothing. You could punch someone today and in the blink of an eye no-one will be around to remember it happened. Whereas something eternal will always be infinitely more important than something finite. If you aim for ever and you miss, you won't be around to know and if it is true then you'll have done something that actually has meaning.

Pascal's wager only works if there are two options: materialism and Christianity. But in actuality there are multiple, mutually exclusive options in the form of each religion. So if you're going to buy into pascal's wager you're going to end up looking like this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDWR5RkWRTY

There's an even bigger problem with Pascal's wager, that neither belief nor faith work that way. You can't just decide to worship God because its got to do with what you really think, not just what you've concluded is most beneficial for yourself. The correct approach would be to find a religion that places worth purely on some material thing, say sacrificing Broccoli and yet still promises eternal reward and follow that. Even with multiple religions it's still better to aim for the hope of one eternal thing because you'll either be better off or just the same as you would have been if you continued on a non-atheistic path.

I still think finite existence is worthless though. It's hard to describe because its something I've been sure of from a very young age but it wasn't at all involved with how I eventually ended up as a christian. Even now as I am, it's not that I think 'oh a finite existence sucks, better believe in God' but 'a finite existence sucks, lucky for me that's not the case though'. I can say it didn't influence because I'll be honest it's only really recently that I even liked the sound of heaven. For the other 4 years I was afraid of it, put off by it or at best apathetic to it.

The idea that existence is futile didn't even depress me, or scare me or anger me, because reacting in that way is equally pointless. I was less motivated to do charity work because even the people you help would just die, but I don't think it affected my life much either way. I couldn't work up a passion about anything so much and I guess I might have done some more non-sequitor things, because hey, if you're free from consequence why not make life a bit weirder?

Hmm I don't know. I don't think that the people around me share my opinion, but I've never seen a reason not to have it. I'd be interested if you've got some counter-arguments.

I didn't reply to your Kant bit, because tbh you clearly know a lot more philosophy/theology than I do, so I'll just take from it that I've got a lot more learning to do before I think stuff.

Know what else "problematize" organized religion: Learning History

Treblaine:

If the gods of Hinduism appeared to you and directly threatened you to give up Christianity and convert to their religion... would YOU!

"if right now God proved his existence to you, would you want to go to heaven? In that heaven is being perfectly united with God?"

I'd have some reservations, like for example I'd ask him to STOP TORTURING BILLIONS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE FOR ALL ETERNITY! Muhatma Ghandi is in there being tortured because he is Hindu, I am NOT OK at all hanging around with a god who would do such a thing. Heavy hand or not HE DOES NOT HAVE TO!

"God is perfect"

Bullshit. He admits to torturing billions of Hindus! This is circular logic, he is perfect because he says so, that he is perfect. When even the concept is not.

" But 'God is love'. Every time you have smiled in your life, every time you've felt love for someone or been loved by someone, that was God."

God will take credit for ANYTHING!

The very concept of this god I find monumentally offensive. You cannot deny that it tries to scare people into believing and obeying and with that belief charlatans can quote the bible and give false legitimacy to their claims. It is no zero sum thing believing in the God of the bible... believing his words that call for gays to be lynched, that evolution and all of geography are wrong.

This is exactly my point, we've all made our choice and if the Hindu God(s) appeared and proved there existence to me, yes I'd probably still not follow them. And if I openly reject them, then yeah I can't see an eternal existence between me and them happening. I would know this and willingly take the consequences of my choice.

It's not nice, but on the other hand, the alternative is the Hindu God(s) actually changing my mind so that I follow them and in all honest I would hate that so much more. If I die forever than at least my life had meaning and I was allowed to have an impact on the own course of my future. I understand that I've been given the offer and in various religions, that that offer was unconditional and in-spite of the way i've acted in my life towards them and other people and I understand that I have consciously rejected that offer and chosen the other path and I'm happy with that choice.

I'm not happy that other people have made that choice and in all honesty, I pray pretty frequently that God will have done something brilliant that allows people to have free will and eternal life. It's not completely out of the question, because he did it once before in the crossing from Judea focus to world focus and there's a parable in the bible, about how if you've worked for your reward and when the time comes other people have got it, well don't be jealous, you haven't been paid any less.

Obviously it was meant for the Jewish people accepting that Roman's and Greek were going to be allowed to share God with them, but it could still happen.

And as I've said, there are equal cases in the bible for non-existence, or short existence then destruction and I do hope that if my prayer can't be answered then one of those turns out to be correct, but in the end, I've got to trust in God that it's going to turn out all right.

As I've said I've made that choice and I've got some Muslim friends I know who've made the same choice but the other way and I respect them from being comfortable with it.But if you don't mind me saying, I don't think you seem very comfortable with your choice yet, or at least it doesn't come across that way

I'll be frank for you anyone who believes that God commanded gays to be lynched is not a christian and needs to be saved. Urgently. There are so so many things you can show them that tell them what they're doing is absolutely wrong and hateful and if they don't listen to that, then they aren't listening to anything. God instructed, strictly, that the correct response for someone punching you in the face is to pray that they have a good healthy life and let them punch you again. That the correct answer to someone stealing your coat is to hope that it'll keep them warm and maybe seeking them out and helping them with the heating bill if they're having trouble with it.

An adulterer was brought before Jesus and they asked him to stone her. He just replied that not one person there had the right to judge anyone else, because their hearts were just as full with sin.

When people came to arrest Jesus he actually healed them.

When Jesus was on the cross, one of his last words were that God would _forgive_ the people who were actively murdering his son.

Far from killing sinners, Jesus spent most of his time with those who sinned and society looked upon and rejected for what they did. He ate with prostitutes and extortioners and loved them, deliberately avoiding the company of the 'religious' righteous people who said that these people were sinners and should be avoided.

If people can read this and still be so bloody-minded and xenophobic that they refuse to believe the words and instead preach the fear and hate in their heart, then these people need our pity and compassion because they have gone so far down the wrong path and their heart and soul is so shrivelled and burdened by the weight of their sin.

As for creationists, well I'm cool with them and respect their faith, they've just got to understand that they can't decide this for others and they've got to let the world work as it should. But in the end, even the Pope doesn't think Genesis says what they say it says.

My church at home is full of a lot of really awesome people. I've been lucky enough to live in an area where we just don't see the extremists and fake christians and there are tons and tons of teachers and doctors and nurses and people like that and I'll be honest, that was part of the reason I started going to church before I was a christian, among them are some of the nicest people I've ever had privileged of knowing but some of them are creationists and it hasn't affected the good stuff they do with their lives. They wouldn't make good geologists or physicists, but that isn't their calling in life and they aren't demanding that the world changes to suit their thinking. Apart from a certain area of a certain country it's mainly a self correcting problem. Non of the christian physicists/chemists/scientists in general I know are creationists and I don't think they would be what they are if they were. At least even in that certain area the law has seen to it that the affects on other people are limited

What a shock. News story about "religion" and "games", and it goes to 11 pages.
Gee, I wonder why? Could it be the tired ol' "Atheist Pride vs Theist Pride" again?

Keep up the good work Internet.

Ah, I do love it when people jump in and immediately call all religion "ignorant" and "hateful" with a totally straight face. I do enjoy that.

BrotherRool:

Treblaine:

If the gods of Hinduism appeared to you and directly threatened you to give up Christianity and convert to their religion... would YOU!

"if right now God proved his existence to you, would you want to go to heaven? In that heaven is being perfectly united with God?"

I'd have some reservations, like for example I'd ask him to STOP TORTURING BILLIONS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE FOR ALL ETERNITY! Muhatma Ghandi is in there being tortured because he is Hindu, I am NOT OK at all hanging around with a god who would do such a thing. Heavy hand or not HE DOES NOT HAVE TO!

"God is perfect"

Bullshit. He admits to torturing billions of Hindus! This is circular logic, he is perfect because he says so, that he is perfect. When even the concept is not.

" But 'God is love'. Every time you have smiled in your life, every time you've felt love for someone or been loved by someone, that was God."

God will take credit for ANYTHING!

The very concept of this god I find monumentally offensive. You cannot deny that it tries to scare people into believing and obeying and with that belief charlatans can quote the bible and give false legitimacy to their claims. It is no zero sum thing believing in the God of the bible... believing his words that call for gays to be lynched, that evolution and all of geography are wrong.

This is exactly my point, we've all made our choice and if the Hindu God(s) appeared and proved there existence to me, yes I'd probably still not follow them. And if I openly reject them, then yeah I can't see an eternal existence between me and them happening. I would know this and willingly take the consequences of my choice.

It's not nice, but on the other hand, the alternative is the Hindu God(s) actually changing my mind so that I follow them and in all honest I would hate that so much more. If I die forever than at least my life had meaning and I was allowed to have an impact on the own course of my future. I understand that I've been given the offer and in various religions, that that offer was unconditional and in-spite of the way i've acted in my life towards them and other people and I understand that I have consciously rejected that offer and chosen the other path and I'm happy with that choice.

I'm not happy that other people have made that choice and in all honesty, I pray pretty frequently that God will have done something brilliant that allows people to have free will and eternal life. It's not completely out of the question, because he did it once before in the crossing from Judea focus to world focus and there's a parable in the bible, about how if you've worked for your reward and when the time comes other people have got it, well don't be jealous, you haven't been paid any less.

Obviously it was meant for the Jewish people accepting that Roman's and Greek were going to be allowed to share God with them, but it could still happen.

And as I've said, there are equal cases in the bible for non-existence, or short existence then destruction and I do hope that if my prayer can't be answered then one of those turns out to be correct, but in the end, I've got to trust in God that it's going to turn out all right.

As I've said I've made that choice and I've got some Muslim friends I know who've made the same choice but the other way and I respect them from being comfortable with it.But if you don't mind me saying, I don't think you seem very comfortable with your choice yet, or at least it doesn't come across that way

I'll be frank for you anyone who believes that God commanded gays to be lynched is not a christian and needs to be saved. Urgently. There are so so many things you can show them that tell them what they're doing is absolutely wrong and hateful and if they don't listen to that, then they aren't listening to anything. God instructed, strictly, that the correct response for someone punching you in the face is to pray that they have a good healthy life and let them punch you again. That the correct answer to someone stealing your coat is to hope that it'll keep them warm and maybe seeking them out and helping them with the heating bill if they're having trouble with it.

An adulterer was brought before Jesus and they asked him to stone her. He just replied that not one person there had the right to judge anyone else, because their hearts were just as full with sin.

When people came to arrest Jesus he actually healed them.

When Jesus was on the cross, one of his last words were that God would _forgive_ the people who were actively murdering his son.

Far from killing sinners, Jesus spent most of his time with those who sinned and society looked upon and rejected for what they did. He ate with prostitutes and extortioners and loved them, deliberately avoiding the company of the 'religious' righteous people who said that these people were sinners and should be avoided.

If people can read this and still be so bloody-minded and xenophobic that they refuse to believe the words and instead preach the fear and hate in their heart, then these people need our pity and compassion because they have gone so far down the wrong path and their heart and soul is so shrivelled and burdened by the weight of their sin.

As for creationists, well I'm cool with them and respect their faith, they've just got to understand that they can't decide this for others and they've got to let the world work as it should. But in the end, even the Pope doesn't think Genesis says what they say it says.

My church at home is full of a lot of really awesome people. I've been lucky enough to live in an area where we just don't see the extremists and fake christians and there are tons and tons of teachers and doctors and nurses and people like that and I'll be honest, that was part of the reason I started going to church before I was a christian, among them are some of the nicest people I've ever had privileged of knowing but some of them are creationists and it hasn't affected the good stuff they do with their lives. They wouldn't make good geologists or physicists, but that isn't their calling in life and they aren't demanding that the world changes to suit their thinking. Apart from a certain area of a certain country it's mainly a self correcting problem. Non of the christian physicists/chemists/scientists in general I know are creationists and I don't think they would be what they are if they were. At least even in that certain area the law has seen to it that the affects on other people are limited

What a load of nonsense. This UTTERLY flies in the face of the facts and reason.

You expect me to convert to Christianity if I see proof of the God-of-the-Christian-Bible yet you remain bloody minded that you have "made your choice" that even if you see the supernatural proof that Hinduism is the one true religion you sill still reject it.

Hypocrisy. Pure hypocrisy.

You are victim of deluded thinking, you think God is real just because you believe in him regardless of everything about the actual observable world.

Everywhere you assume god did this. Rather than Christianity is simply the evangelisation of Judaism orchestrated by priest who wanted a wider and ever expanding flock to hear and blindly accept their ideology.

"God instructed, strictly, that the correct response for someone punching you in the face is to pray that they have a good healthy life and let them punch you again. That the correct answer to someone stealing your coat is to hope that it'll keep them warm and maybe seeking them out and helping them with the heating bill if they're having trouble with it."

Irrelevant nonsense as is borne out in fact. The punishment for theft in Christian countries is to be locked in a cold cell, the punishment for violence is reaction and punishment.

The practice of Christians IS "Jesus Forgives, I don't". They have transplanted forgiveness to be something that is only possible in the after life and that forgiveness is not for in this world

"An adulterer was brought before Jesus and they asked him to stone her. He just replied that not one person there had the right to judge anyone else, because their hearts were just as full with sin."

He doesn't say that adultery isn't a crime against society, he simply says we are too meek to punish for it. What if a murderer or child rapist was brought before Jesus? would he say they cannot be punished and they should be let go because "we are just as guilty"?

This pacifism is useless and inaccurate. Christianity didn't get where it is today from pacifism. When it was struck by opposing religions it's didn't turn the other cheek, it started the crusades!

And why is it atheist organisation who are the loudest opponents of Westbro Baptist Church? And of course they all fit in perfectly with your ideal that all humans should be meek pacifists, Westbo Baptist Church is causing offence by claiming GOD is responsible for all these horrible things and we DESERVE all this as gods wrath. Why should we accept this? God or not he is acting like a psychopath, he doesn't deserve to be prayed to, we should be plotting how to destroy him, to stop this being dealing death and destruction.

Yanno, I'm pretty sure it's, yanno... all of recorded human history that "problematizes" (WTF? Is that even a thing?) religion as violent, actually.

Besides, in Dragon Quest, the churches were on your side, so cut the QQ.

Treblaine:
This pacifism is useless and inaccurate. Christianity didn't get where it is today from pacifism. When it was struck by opposing religions it's didn't turn the other cheek, it started the crusades!

Not entirely true. It mostly held true to their pacifism during their early days, but once the Roman emperors adopted it, suddenly it was no longer a peaceful underground religion and now a powerful force they felt was obligated to share with everyone, willing or not.

On a side note, the whole "divine right of kings" started when a devout Eastern Roman empress got booted out of a chapel on account of being a woman, and when she kicked up a fuss about it, this gradually got her equated with the Virgin Mary, and if she was producing the heirs of the "holy" Romans, than they have a divine right to their rule. Other kingdoms played "follow the leader" and adopted this mentality to assert their rule. Byzantium was still stuck in this mentality by the time most of Europe thought it was a stupid idea; that's part of why nobody helped the Byzantines against the Turks - they thought the Emperor was a pompous ass.

In the end, it's less that the original religion was corrupt so much as the Romans twisting things around.

RaikuFA:
He forgot SMT2 where you try to kill God. He'd have a field day with it.

Some time ago one of those Christian zealot organizations.. ya know.. the kind that don't wanna be portrayed as violent while they espouse violence against gays, Muslims, abortion clinics, etc, made a play to have games with religious themes to be rated for "Satanic content" specifically citing games like SMT:Nocturne and Shadow Hearts where you kill a "god" entity as the final boss.

Though, it was interesting to learn that some Christian groups think their god is the same as the one in Shadow Hearts.. a gigantic space insect monster. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is way off.

Kimarous:

Treblaine:
This pacifism is useless and inaccurate. Christianity didn't get where it is today from pacifism. When it was struck by opposing religions it's didn't turn the other cheek, it started the crusades!

Not entirely true. It mostly held true to their pacifism during their early days, but once the Roman emperors adopted it, suddenly it was no longer a peaceful underground religion and now a powerful force they felt was obligated to share with everyone, willing or not.

On a side note, the whole "divine right of kings" started when a devout Eastern Roman empress got booted out of a chapel on account of being a woman, and when she kicked up a fuss about it, this gradually got her equated with the Virgin Mary, and if she was producing the heirs of the "holy" Romans, than they have a divine right to their rule. Other kingdoms played "follow the leader" and adopted this mentality to assert their rule. Byzantium was still stuck in this mentality by the time most of Europe thought it was a stupid idea; that's part of why nobody helped the Byzantines against the Turks - they thought the Emperor was a pompous ass.

In the end, it's less that the original religion was corrupt so much as the Romans twisting things around.

I see these religions for what they are, the way they ACTUALLY act, not they way you say they are supposed to act.

And don't act like it's a good idea to get "back to basics" with the bible with the whole duality of either stoning adulterers and homosexuals... or the other extreme of saying we can't punish any guilty people.

This "turn the other cheek" pacifism is only going to lead to believers getting robbed and murdered but maybe they'd be fine with that as they hold the delusion of Heaven so will have little qualms with throwing away their precious lives and the lives of their family and letting barbarians prevail.

Abandon4093:
Ohh, not like books and film then and religions themselves? No, just vidja gaems.

Gocha........

Anyone up for trying to prove Mario is responsible for 9/11? Got a feeling that's where this is headin. I figure if we beat them to it we might get a sweaty.

In super Mario Brother's 3 there's one of the desert levels where you must use a turtle shell to destroy blocks to enter a pyramid. Now, clearly the desert setting is representative of the middle east where Islam is the dominant religion and the blocks represent Western influence as well as the state of Isreal and the WTC towers, preventing Mario, who is an allegory for the Islamic followers, from entering into the pyramid, which represents the holy land. In the face of this western and Zionist oppression, Mario must use force in order to move forward to his goals. The turtle shell represents the planes from 9/11 and how Mario must use this planes to simultaneously break down the walls of his oppressors and the WTC towers.

The hijackers obviously played SMB3 and figured out all this deep symbolism and that inspired the 9/11 attack. And there you have it, Mario caused 9/11.

It doesn't matter, history beat videogames to that connection centuries ago.

soren7550:

TheFPSisDead:
Who is the violent religious sect in Mass Effect 2???

The closest I can think of is Samara. "Find peace in the embrace of the Goddess *bust head open like a melon*"

That's about all I can think of. Oh, and "Dead Gods still dream" (something like that).

I'm guessing it's the heretical Geth who worshiped the Reapers as heretics. Seeing as they wanted to cleanse the universe for their 'gods' (another example where the god or gods in quesion were tangible), I can understand the comparison.

Wait ... so ... what's the problem then? Yeah, religion is violent and creates problems, so what else is new?

I just love the highly biased non-thinking in this thread. Some of you anti-religious types are just as willfully ignorant and irrational as you bemoan any religion or religious person of being. You have become sucked into the very distorted portrayal of religion to which the article is referring.

The problem never has been religion itself; the problem has always been people. Most religions, if you consider its most basic fundamental message from its original writings, not the screaming of Preacher Man, Sister Mary-Rosen Clapsalot, or some nut-job, anti-religious atheist with a bug up his ass, you will likely find the doctrines teach something much more enlightened, peaceful, harmonizing, and edifying to one's spiritual growth and society in general. The atrocities happen because people twist things, even religion, to suit their own biases, prejudices, rationalizations, or psychoses.

People misuse religion to further their own means. People misuse religion as an excuse to evade having to try in life. People misuse religion to make themselves feel better about themselves and not have to deal with personal accountability or development. People misuse religion. This is not the fault of the religion but of the people. Religion does not commit these acts, but people do. An atheist is no more or less prone to violence, hatred, ignorance, intolerance or irrationality than any religious person(just look at all the fanboy and flame wars and people calling each other "idiots" for the least little thing on these and any other forum on the web).

Those of you who seriously believe most wars are the result of religion should look again. Most wars have nothing to religion and everything to do with fear, power, territory, or the simple self-agrandizement of some ego-maniac. These emotions and motivations are not precipitated by religion; they already existed in the person long before any religion entered their minds. However, they may misuse religion as an excuse or rationalization to justify their actions.

Religion is often misused, misinterpreted, or misrepresented. People need to exercise more care in dealing with religion and any religious statement. Unfortunately, most people, on both sides of the fence, religious and anti-religious, simply fail miserably in that regard. It is easy to just blindly accept or demonize religion; it is much harder to examine it in a more careful light that deals with the true motivations and causality of people's actions and beliefs, as well as the boundaries of applicability of any given statement. This is because people are being lazy and just want easy answers. Unfortunately, life never has been, and probably never will be, so easy. Besides, the universe would be a boring place if all the answers were so black-and-white cut-dried. Not to say there are not black-and-white answers to some things, but there is also an awful lot of variations of grey.

Truly understanding a religion and learning to live it properly takes a lot of effort and courage that is beyond most people. However, the few people that have managed it go on to become awe-inspiring examples(unless you believe someone like Gandhi didn't exist) of the heights one can achieve through faith and belief. But, it seems such exemplary examples are often dismissed or ignored in favor of taking the easy-road of snide cynicism(which is, itself, an extreme distortion of reality) and declare all religion to be evil upon the world. But, these examples do exist and prove, by contradiction, that the fundamental problems of violence, hatred, prejudice, wars, intolerance, and atrocities against humanity are not inherent of religion(in fact, most religions have fundamental doctrines that teach, quite explicitly, against such things); they are inherent of being human beings that have failed to mature pass their ancient ancestral behavior of being monkeys in the trees.

By the way, I disagree with the notion that video game stories have become more nuanced. They are more detailed, in that they have more characters or events going on, but in terms of being nuanced, most video game stories have the subtlety of a large boulder made of lead being hurled through a glass window.

Just my 2-cents.

EDIT: minor spelling and grammar edits.

karloss01:
I'd discount Assassin's Creed as it was based on real life religion wars. religion has always gone hand in hand with war, can't convert the masses? Crusade Time!

Actually, if anything the Assassin's Creed series religion is handled sympathetically: both Christians and Muslims are portrayed as decent people. The Templars are portrayed as the real threat and their membership transcends religion, and use their power within the religious groups they're members of to further the goals of the Templars as opposed to those of their coreligionists.

After all, they don't flash that message up at the start of the game just to be pompous. Instead, it serves to reinforce that the belief systems featured are part of the backdrop and texture of the games' settings, not the focus of any examination or criticism as one might, on the surface, assume.

geizr:
Amazing snip.

Your 2-cents should be shared with the world. I find what you posted to be very refreshing.

BrotherRool:

There's an even bigger problem with Pascal's wager, that neither belief nor faith work that way. You can't just decide to worship God because its got to do with what you really think, not just what you've concluded is most beneficial for yourself. The correct approach would be to find a religion that places worth purely on some material thing, say sacrificing Broccoli and yet still promises eternal reward and follow that. Even with multiple religions it's still better to aim for the hope of one eternal thing because you'll either be better off or just the same as you would have been if you continued on a non-atheistic path.

The thing about Pascal's wager is that people generally don't use it to try to convince others so much as prove that their own faith is a more rational/better position than atheism. Here's another argument to consider though, in a world with multiple conflicting religions you're chances might be better if you don't commit to any of them, just in case you pick the wrong one. That is to say, God might be more forgiving for someone who was skeptical by nature than someone who commits to the wrong faith (assuming they both live lives of equal moral worth). If worshiping false idols is a big no-no for the monotheistic religions, then not worshiping anything would be probably be better.

BrotherRool:

I still think finite existence is worthless though.

'Worth' is a human concept. Finite existence simply is, you're the one who deems it worthless.

BrotherRool:

The idea that existence is futile didn't even depress me, or scare me or anger me, because reacting in that way is equally pointless. I was less motivated to do charity work because even the people you help would just die, but I don't think it affected my life much either way. I couldn't work up a passion about anything so much and I guess I might have done some more non-sequitor things, because hey, if you're free from consequence why not make life a bit weirder?

What is the 'meaning' of a rock sitting in the sand? When you pass by the rock you can value it in a certain way. Perhaps you regard it as beautiful, or useful. When you walk away does the rock become pointless? It sits there because it is a rock. Rocks aren't concerned with meaning. Meaning and value are creations of human will. What you have described is your own lack of will.

BrotherRool:

It's hard to describe because its something I've been sure of from a very young age but it wasn't at all involved with how I eventually ended up as a christian. Even now as I am, it's not that I think 'oh a finite existence sucks, better believe in God' but 'a finite existence sucks, lucky for me that's not the case though'. I can say it didn't influence because I'll be honest it's only really recently that I even liked the sound of heaven. For the other 4 years I was afraid of it, put off by it or at best apathetic to it.

Properly speaking, you wouldn't be eternal, but sempiternal. Being eternal means existing beyond/outside of time, but supposedly you came into existence out of nothingness at the moment of your conception.

"For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is God not of the dead, but of the living." And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching.- Matthew 22:30-33.

So what is heaven like? What do angels do to occupy their time? Checkers? I vaguely remember something about gathering in a giant amphitheater around God and serenading him for all of eternity, but I can't be bothered to find the passage.

BrotherRool:

Hmm I don't know. I don't think that the people around me share my opinion, but I've never seen a reason not to have it. I'd be interested if you've got some counter-arguments.

Well, let me ask you, did you happen to explore any other religions aside from Christianity? Or did you default to Christianity because it was most prevalent choice? You seem to be moving in a binary fashion, either Nihilism or Christianity. There's a lot more out there, you know. If the Christian God does exist, then perhaps he prefers blind faith to intellectual exploration.

I can hardly see how an all-loving God could punish people for not believing in him when he doesn't make it obvious that only one particular dogma is the way to salvation. He is omnipotent after all. And blaming the devil makes no sense whatsoever. Supposedly God created the devil, so he could smash him to bits with the snap of a finger. So why does God allow Indians to be Hindus?

What is belief, and why does it matter so much? It's hard to see how something as mundane as a propositional attitude could reward you with eternal life. We've believed all sorts of stupid things over the millenia. For the most part we can't even control our beliefs. Belief arises when someone is presented with enough evidence that they feel compelled to think that something is the case. How is it fair to punish someone for something they can't fully control? I imagine almost any priest will tell you that you can't just get up one day and say, "you know what? I think I'll be a faithful Christian."

So does that mean that God gives you faith as some sort of gift, like grace? If that's the case then how in the hell could he punish someone for not having what he is responsible for giving them? Maybe you have to earn your faith. Well, that's a bit of a catch 22, now isn't it? What would make you want to have faith if you don't have faith? Are you going to ask a God you don't believe in for the power to believe in him?

If there really were an all loving God, then I think he would be a lot more concerned about how we live our lives than what we believe. Let me ask you this: what did Jesus preach? Did he go on and on about the proper way to perform religious rituals? No. He preached about how to live a moral life, to love thy neighbor and to turn the other cheek. He didn't set up the Catholic Church. You know who did? The Romans. Yeah, because they totally weren't a bunch of corrupt assholes.

Have you ever heard of Gnosticism? It's an interesting tradition. It could best be characterized by the idea that one can achieve personal/mystical knowledge of God by studying scripture. The funny thing about Christian Gnosticism is that it doesn't require priests and the church as an intermediary between humans and God. Can you guess what happened to the Gnostics? Yup, wiped out by the Roman Empire in around the 4th century.

So how much of the modern Christian tradition is the word of God, and how much of it is the result of the corrupt human lust for power and control over one's fellow man? The idea that an earthly organization holds the keys to eternal life or eternal damnation should probably raise some red flags. Martin Luther founded Protestantism in order to rebel against what he saw as corruption in the Catholic Church. The problem is that the Catholic Church (aka the Roman Empire) had already controlled Christianity for centuries and molded it into a means of control. So what guarantee is there that Martin Luther, or anyone else for that matter, could purify it and retrieve the central message?

If you have faith, then you have faith. To be honest I haven't the foggiest idea what faith is like phenomenologically speaking, I'm extremely skeptical by nature. Not only of religious doctrine but also of certain scientific theories (primarily theories in Physics like the Big Bang and String Theory). What I understand about faith is that it's supposed to be deep seated and emotive, so rational arguments probably aren't going to affect it.

It's not my life mission to convert people to atheism. In fact, I find people who define themselves as atheists to be extremely annoying. Atheism is not at all an interesting doctrine. What most people mean when they call themselves atheists is that they hate Christianity. If these people were actually philosophically inclined they would identify themselves as physicalists or materialists, which imply atheism because they include a general rejection of supernaturalism. Unlike atheism, physicalism and materialism are substantive philosophical doctrines.

Anyone who views religion as some sort of demonic zeitgeist that causes mankind to go against its inherently rational and peaceful nature is, in all likelihood, a complete imbecile.

Hey, guys. Don't at all acknowledge the fact that movies, TV shows, novels, and comic books aren't also guilty of this.

Or the fact that religion does have a bit of a fucked up history (and this is coming from a Catholic, mind you, so shut up). I try to have an unbiased view of the world, and if you try not to view things through a colored lens, you can see that religions often forsake their own messages of 'equality' in order to forward their agenda of 'power' for a specific race or a specific group of people, or more often, against certain castes or races that they believe shouldn't have said power.

Also, (and again, I'm a Catholic), I believe that any religion that stubbornly clings to the dogma of a book written some 2000 or so years ago should go back and realize that God DID NOT write these books. If we're to believe everything said in the Bible, Qur'an, etc., then these were messages from God, INTERPRETED by a HUMAN, who is susceptible to HUMAN ERROR and CULTURAL BIAS.

No matter how much you want to deny it, guys, do realize that unless an angel came down from Heaven and handed you a book saying, "Yes, God did take some time out of his schedule to write this." that the stuff you're writing was written by someone a long time ago in a galaxy far far away or some shite like that. Believe in everything all you want, but at least try to have some interpretive reasoning and realize that maybe, JUST MAYBE some of this stuff is wrong.

Treblaine:

What a load of nonsense. This UTTERLY flies in the face of the facts and reason.

You expect me to convert to Christianity if I see proof of the God-of-the-Christian-Bible yet you remain bloody minded that you have "made your choice" that even if you see the supernatural proof that Hinduism is the one true religion you sill still reject it.

Hypocrisy. Pure hypocrisy.

You are victim of deluded thinking, you think God is real just because you believe in him regardless of everything about the actual observable world.

Everywhere you assume god did this. Rather than Christianity is simply the evangelisation of Judaism orchestrated by priest who wanted a wider and ever expanding flock to hear and blindly accept their ideology.

"God instructed, strictly, that the correct response for someone punching you in the face is to pray that they have a good healthy life and let them punch you again. That the correct answer to someone stealing your coat is to hope that it'll keep them warm and maybe seeking them out and helping them with the heating bill if they're having trouble with it."

Irrelevant nonsense as is borne out in fact. The punishment for theft in Christian countries is to be locked in a cold cell, the punishment for violence is reaction and punishment.

The practice of Christians IS "Jesus Forgives, I don't". They have transplanted forgiveness to be something that is only possible in the after life and that forgiveness is not for in this world

"An adulterer was brought before Jesus and they asked him to stone her. He just replied that not one person there had the right to judge anyone else, because their hearts were just as full with sin."

He doesn't say that adultery isn't a crime against society, he simply says we are too meek to punish for it. What if a murderer or child rapist was brought before Jesus? would he say they cannot be punished and they should be let go because "we are just as guilty"?

This pacifism is useless and inaccurate. Christianity didn't get where it is today from pacifism. When it was struck by opposing religions it's didn't turn the other cheek, it started the crusades!

And why is it atheist organisation who are the loudest opponents of Westbro Baptist Church? And of course they all fit in perfectly with your ideal that all humans should be meek pacifists, Westbo Baptist Church is causing offence by claiming GOD is responsible for all these horrible things and we DESERVE all this as gods wrath. Why should we accept this? God or not he is acting like a psychopath, he doesn't deserve to be prayed to, we should be plotting how to destroy him, to stop this being dealing death and destruction.

I'm sorry you feel that I'm being hypocritical. I don't expect you to convert with evidence and I'm still being biblical. In Romans it talks about how in everything he does God makes himself obvious to people and even more so through his word, but people being who they are refuse him and shut their eyes. Jesus said the same sort of thing. In the end facts are cool and God has chosen his word and his actions to be the thing that spreads faith, but faith is faith. I have it. A Hindu has it for another thing, a Muslim has it for another and an atheist for another.

I don't expect you to understand my faith, I don't even expect you to respect it. Saying that, what we do know about Christianity, it wasn't created by priests to spread the faith. Most atheists agree on the christian timelines of the new testament
http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/christian/blchron_xian_nt.htm

(With some jiggling around with things that christians take as predictions and atheists as retcons) and we know that Jesus very probably existed and that his disciples, + Paul existed, spoke about what they spoke about and were persecuted and died for their actions. We also know that most christian doctrine was established at this time between 20-100 ad, that is in the generation of Jesus and the apostles.

I think the most likely atheistic interpretation is that Jesus was an incredible intelligent charismatic man, see Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Buddha. He existed in a similar time as them actually because the Romans were very much the oppressors of the Jewish. He said something, it may have been what he was supposed to have said or may have been a general 'don't fight and get along guys' and completely blew the minds of his disciples. When he died they didn't give him up and began interpreting what he said as that he was God. (similar to the deification of Buddha) and in their passion spread it across the world and died for it.

There isn't a lot of space for self-interest as you suggest, because we have the Roman records to show that the life of an evangelising Christian was short, poor and brutal. I think it would have to be self-deception.

There is no country today that's ruled as a christian country nor was there often a country that was actually ruled by a christian. For instance King Henry VIII seemed to treat God as fact, but only because he'd been taught so, and instead of following God he kind of led, just expecting God to jutify whatever he did (including robbing churches), he had a friend who was the same and he made archbishop, but shockingly that friend began to become a real christian and started giving away all his wealth and actually sneaking out to wash poor people at night. He opposed what Henry was doing with the country and so Henry killed him.

Whats more few christians are able to live up to the ideal. We're not better people than other people, we're just maybe a little bit better than ourselves a few years ago. I do more charity stuff now than I ever considered doing before but I'm not a great person and I'm sure you'd be pissed off at the hypocrisy of how i live my life. But I'm trying to get better. Ironically Gandhi studied the non-retaliation a lot and is one of the better people at putting it into practice.

Still I do know people who've managed it. A christian friend was mugged and he caught up with them afterwards and gave them the rest of his money too. I think most christians will strive to do what the bible says, and they know the right thing to do is to forgive people, they just find it hard like we all do.

I wasn't saying homosexuality isn't a sin. I don't know I'm on the fence with it, so if your gay and want to be christian just pray about god with it and he'll tell you which way it is, because frankly your the only one who needs to know, I was saying we shouldn't act on it. And if a rapist came across Jesus, yeah Jesus would forgive him. He forgave the people who crucified him, he's forgiven people who've done horrific things with their lives. There's no-one he isn't big enough to save. Now we're not Jesus so we can't actually know exactly what someone will do after that point so we should still arrest rapists, but it should be clear that we're doing so as prevention, not out of hate for the rapist, and personally I think that means there shouldn't be capital punishment either.

That's even biblical, when he was alive Jesus told his disciples to leave all the pratical thing in life behind. Money, defence etc, because they were with him. Just before he died he told them they were going to need to use them again and be sensible about it, do what they were doing but unlike him they should probably still need to arrest people and stuff (if they were in such a position in society)

I think Christianity got to where it is today because people recognise the truth of it's ways, pacifism included. That's why the modern christian heroes are Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela (and Nelson Mandela is a great example, because he started off too weak to be pacifist but as he grew as a person he was able to cast his violence aside and regret his actions). We don't idolise the people in the crusades, those are one of our greatest shames and in all honesty so many of the leaders involved were just people co-opting the christian leadership to mislead the people who had put their trust in them. I mean this was the time where priests deliberately avoided translating the bible in case the people who genuinely wanted to follow God read it and realised it wasn't the same thing as the priests were saying. This is the time where popes would buy their way into office despite the bible condemning people who did this. The mistake was for the church to take on actual power instead of confining themselves to spiritual power, because everywhere there will always be people wanting power and those people have got a bad habit of getting it. John warned us of many anti-christs and even today we get things like that dude who made a lot of money telling everyone the world was going to end, even though the bible was clear that no-one gets told that

As far as Westboro Baptist Church goes, I don't know anyone who doesn't condemn what those 80 people do. The truth is most of my christians friends I've talked about don't know it exists, which is wrong, but I think the reason more atheists know it exists is because, well atheists like to make a point. In contrast most of my agnostic friends don't know it exists either.

As far as they go, whenever I send them an email explaining how the Bible hates what they do, they refuse to respond. They're happy enough to answer questions that don't expose them for the hateful frauds they are just not the ones which say that everything they do is a lie

This student clearly has it all backwards.

Developers are trying to point out how violent religion is, because it really fucking is.
Also, that is not a problem, in fact, it is a solution.

BrotherRool:

I'm sorry you feel that I'm being hypocritical. I don't expect you to convert with evidence and I'm still being biblical. In Romans it talks about how in everything he does God makes himself obvious to people and even more so through his word, but people being who they are refuse him and shut their eyes. Jesus said the same sort of thing. In the end facts are cool and God has chosen his word and his actions to be the thing that spreads faith, but faith is faith. I have it. A Hindu has it for another thing, a Muslim has it for another and an atheist for another.

I don't expect you to understand my faith, I don't even expect you to respect it. Saying that, what we do know about Christianity, it wasn't created by priests to spread the faith. Most atheists agree on the christian timelines of the new testament
http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/christian/blchron_xian_nt.htm

(With some jiggling around with things that christians take as predictions and atheists as retcons) and we know that Jesus very probably existed and that his disciples, + Paul existed, spoke about what they spoke about and were persecuted and died for their actions. We also know that most christian doctrine was established at this time between 20-100 ad, that is in the generation of Jesus and the apostles.

I think the most likely atheistic interpretation is that Jesus was an incredible intelligent charismatic man, see Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Buddha. He existed in a similar time as them actually because the Romans were very much the oppressors of the Jewish. He said something, it may have been what he was supposed to have said or may have been a general 'don't fight and get along guys' and completely blew the minds of his disciples. When he died they didn't give him up and began interpreting what he said as that he was God. (similar to the deification of Buddha) and in their passion spread it across the world and died for it.

There isn't a lot of space for self-interest as you suggest, because we have the Roman records to show that the life of an evangelising Christian was short, poor and brutal. I think it would have to be self-deception.

There is no country today that's ruled as a christian country nor was there often a country that was actually ruled by a christian. For instance King Henry VIII seemed to treat God as fact, but only because he'd been taught so, and instead of following God he kind of led, just expecting God to jutify whatever he did (including robbing churches), he had a friend who was the same and he made archbishop, but shockingly that friend began to become a real christian and started giving away all his wealth and actually sneaking out to wash poor people at night. He opposed what Henry was doing with the country and so Henry killed him.

Whats more few christians are able to live up to the ideal. We're not better people than other people, we're just maybe a little bit better than ourselves a few years ago. I do more charity stuff now than I ever considered doing before but I'm not a great person and I'm sure you'd be pissed off at the hypocrisy of how i live my life. But I'm trying to get better. Ironically Gandhi studied the non-retaliation a lot and is one of the better people at putting it into practice.

Still I do know people who've managed it. A christian friend was mugged and he caught up with them afterwards and gave them the rest of his money too. I think most christians will strive to do what the bible says, and they know the right thing to do is to forgive people, they just find it hard like we all do.

I wasn't saying homosexuality isn't a sin. I don't know I'm on the fence with it, so if your gay and want to be christian just pray about god with it and he'll tell you which way it is, because frankly your the only one who needs to know, I was saying we shouldn't act on it. And if a rapist came across Jesus, yeah Jesus would forgive him. He forgave the people who crucified him, he's forgiven people who've done horrific things with their lives. There's no-one he isn't big enough to save. Now we're not Jesus so we can't actually know exactly what someone will do after that point so we should still arrest rapists, but it should be clear that we're doing so as prevention, not out of hate for the rapist, and personally I think that means there shouldn't be capital punishment either.

That's even biblical, when he was alive Jesus told his disciples to leave all the pratical thing in life behind. Money, defence etc, because they were with him. Just before he died he told them they were going to need to use them again and be sensible about it, do what they were doing but unlike him they should probably still need to arrest people and stuff (if they were in such a position in society)

I think Christianity got to where it is today because people recognise the truth of it's ways, pacifism included. That's why the modern christian heroes are Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela (and Nelson Mandela is a great example, because he started off too weak to be pacifist but as he grew as a person he was able to cast his violence aside and regret his actions). We don't idolise the people in the crusades, those are one of our greatest shames and in all honesty so many of the leaders involved were just people co-opting the christian leadership to mislead the people who had put their trust in them. I mean this was the time where priests deliberately avoided translating the bible in case the people who genuinely wanted to follow God read it and realised it wasn't the same thing as the priests were saying. This is the time where popes would buy their way into office despite the bible condemning people who did this. The mistake was for the church to take on actual power instead of confining themselves to spiritual power, because everywhere there will always be people wanting power and those people have got a bad habit of getting it. John warned us of many anti-christs and even today we get things like that dude who made a lot of money telling everyone the world was going to end, even though the bible was clear that no-one gets told that

As far as Westboro Baptist Church goes, I don't know anyone who doesn't condemn what those 80 people do. The truth is most of my christians friends I've talked about don't know it exists, which is wrong, but I think the reason more atheists know it exists is because, well atheists like to make a point. In contrast most of my agnostic friends don't know it exists either.

As far as they go, whenever I send them an email explaining how the Bible hates what they do, they refuse to respond. They're happy enough to answer questions that don't expose them for the hateful frauds they are just not the ones which say that everything they do is a lie

"In Romans it talks about how in everything he does God makes himself obvious to people"

The bible. A worthless, unsubstantiated and adulterated source.

Christianity WAS created by priests, god didn't come down and personally set up, with was written by people.

Just because Jesus existed and his life has been hugely embellished that doesn't prove anything. There is also a huge difference between non-violence and pacifist submission.

"There is no country today that's ruled as a christian country"

Nor by YOUR standards apparently has a "truly Christian" country EVER existed! Any country that was as pacifist and inactive would be totally pillaged, destroyed and enslaved within weeks.

The fact is Christianity is not what you claim it is. Christianity is what the likes Henry VIII spread. You are

"I wasn't saying homosexuality isn't a sin."

It's not a sin as in a crime against society nor nature. It's a form of genuine human love that doesn't harm anyone. They do not need forgiveness, they need acceptance.

"And if a rapist came across Jesus, yeah Jesus would forgive him. He forgave the people who crucified him"

he has no right to forgive people for such a heinous crime they have committed against OTHER people! Arrest is not enough, justice demands they must be PUNISHED! Prevention is not enough. The Catholic church followed this logic of prevention over punishment when they caught their priests raping children. These re the perverse ideals of Christianity.

And it's easy to forgive those who crucified him as he knew he'd have life after death!

"I think Christianity got to where it is today because people recognise the truth of it's ways, pacifism included."

Nope. Christianity spread because Christian countries had better weapons and expanded more via seas, i.e. British army gunning down thousands of locals then the missionaries moving in. I.e. the pogroms. the crusades. THAT is how Christianity prevailed. If they had been pacifist then Christianity would have been destroyed by other religions.

The only advantage Christianity has is the LIE of pacifism. To kill and conquer better than anyone else then be two-faced of claiming peace and kindness.

Oh, and you send a private email to Westbro Baptist Church, wow, a real activist. Why is it that atheists are actually getting up of their ass to make counter-protests, to challenge them in public debates? HOW can most Christians not even know about such an infamous organisation as this?!?! Other than willful ignorance of what their ideology alows?!?

ReiverCorrupter:

The thing about Pascal's wager is that people generally don't use it to try to convince others so much as prove that their own faith is a more rational/better position than atheism. Here's another argument to consider though, in a world with multiple conflicting religions you're chances might be better if you don't commit to any of them, just in case you pick the wrong one. That is to say, God might be more forgiving for someone who was skeptical by nature than someone who commits to the wrong faith (assuming they both live lives of equal moral worth). If worshiping false idols is a big no-no for the monotheistic religions, then not worshiping anything would be probably be better.

Yeah I read that one in an article the other day. Of course the problem is that actually it isn't like that and there are far more religions that say any religious person is better off (I think Jainism is an example here, and some strains of Christianity too), than religions that like atheists.

Either way it's not really an argument for anything and I'm pretty sure Pascal meant it as a bit of a joke. Like Goedel's logical proof for God. But it is good to know why it fails, because too many people dismiss it when applied to other things. Like when it was applied to global warming people just said 'oh pascal's wager' when it's entirely appropriate there.

BrotherRool:

I still think finite existence is worthless though.

'Worth' is a human concept. Finite existence simply is, you're the one who deems it worthless.[/quote]
This isn't true though. Worth might be a concept creating by humans but that doesn't make it any less true. Here I simply talking about actions that have consequences that last forever and actions which have no-consequence in a infinite time scale. Even if you call it a human concept, well I still want my life to have worth

ReiverCorrupter:

BrotherRool:

The idea that existence is futile didn't even depress me, or scare me or anger me, because reacting in that way is equally pointless. I was less motivated to do charity work because even the people you help would just die, but I don't think it affected my life much either way. I couldn't work up a passion about anything so much and I guess I might have done some more non-sequitor things, because hey, if you're free from consequence why not make life a bit weirder?

What is the 'meaning' of a rock sitting in the sand? When you pass by the rock you can value it in a certain way. Perhaps you regard it as beautiful, or useful. When you walk away does the rock become pointless? It sits there because it is a rock. Rocks aren't concerned with meaning. Meaning and value are creations of human will. What you have described is your own lack of will.

Well I have a lack of will (Just to interrupt here, from a christian perspective, that rock has purpose because it's been created by God and is glorifying him by fulfilling his will, so it's a pretty awesome rock and we should all think it's awesome)

But still, if we want to make choices in life (and most people stress other choices at some point or other) then those choices have to have consequences (else it's not a choice) but in a finite time scale they don't. Which is exactly what I feel, if time is finite, then well, choices don't matter. You can say value is a human concept, but what you are actually saying, since we both know what value is, is that everything is valueness. Because you agree what value means (although not on what should be valued) but when you call it a human concept what you;re actually trying to tell me, is that value doesn't exist and nothing has value. And anything that doesn't have value is valueless as we both understand the term

ReiverCorrupter:

"For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is God not of the dead, but of the living." And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching.- Matthew 22:30-33.

So what is heaven like? What do angels do to occupy their time? Checkers? I vaguely remember something about gathering in a giant amphitheater around God and serenading him for all of eternity, but I can't be bothered to find the passage.

Heaven is cool, because actually heaven is the earth. When time ends the world _and_ heaven get destroyed and created anew and we end up on the world again, except this time God is with us. But it's like we've being looking at our world through frosted glass (through a glass darkly) and the glass gets taken away, what more there is no barrier between us and God anymore so we completely share his joy and love and as you said, generally expressing it.

In practical matters it's hard to tell if the existence is physical, but there are a lot of things that point to it being so. There are a lot of parts of the Bible where it points out that God doesn't hate matter or our world, if we didn't choose corruption it would be a perfect world and not the one we live in now (although that suggests to me that we have new scientific laws than the ones we're supposed to have, because things like tectonics and viruses and evolution and stuff would presumably be different, and as you've said marriage doesn't take place which is a pretty hefty reminder). But Jesus was actual matter and so there's a good chance it will a material existence (but presumably without the laws of thermodynamics).

The big thing is being united with God though, which is unimaginable and rather fantastic

ReiverCorrupter:

BrotherRool:

Hmm I don't know. I don't think that the people around me share my opinion, but I've never seen a reason not to have it. I'd be interested if you've got some counter-arguments.

Well, let me ask you, did you happen to explore any other religions aside from Christianity? Or did you default to Christianity because it was most prevalent choice? You seem to be moving in a binary fashion, either Nihilism or Christianity. There's a lot more out there, you know. If the Christian God does exist, then perhaps he prefers blind faith to intellectual exploration.

Oh okay, I did say, I know this is hard to believe but the nihilism really wasn't a factor in my conversion. In many senses I'm still nihlistic, it's just that the world doesn't operate in a way that supports my nihlism.

I don't know, do you actually want me to describe my conversion? It's something that most non-christians object to and to give you warning, there are no astounding moments of logic or even much that would make sense to anyone else.

Basically I started reading the bible because I was a cocky so and so who wanted to boast that he'd read the bible from start to finish. What's more I enjoyed being anti-christian _and_ anti-atheist and I saw this as a way to fuel up. In a forum debate I would take whichever side the other person wasn't and try to beat him into submission with my superior 14 year old mind. But it was strange, I read the old testament and i found myself believing a lot of it, which tbh, I didn't understand because you can clearly see most of it was ludicrous and there's a lot of stuff there that could have fed my hostilities. I didn't even agree of much of anything that was said morally there.

And when I read the New Testament I was basically overawed by Jesus (and hated Paul, I still have problems with that and try to pray nice things about Paul to get me over my hate :( ) Whatever your beliefs, the things Jesus did as described are just amazing. He had so much authority and so much _right_ in what he said. Of course you should pray for your enemies. Of course you should heal those that hurt you. If someone hurts you, love them forgive them and offer yourself up to them. I'm not trying to argue natural law like CS Lewis, and this was very personal to me, but everything I saw about him was just the way I wanted to live my life from now on. Even though I recognised that I wasn't going to be able to do it and even though I figured I wasn't a christian I decided that that was how I was going to try and lead my life.

And I had some christian friends who were all awesome people, so I told them that the first one who convinced me to go to a church won. (and in all honesty I ended up choosing the church with the pretty girl :D ) and everyone was kind and I stuck around and read my bible but still wasn't christian. And then after two years of doing that I looked back at my life and realised at some point I'd become a christian. I'm not a very emotional person and emotions confuse me because I don't seem to have any control over them but I cried and choked up at my baptism with happiness so I take that to mean that yeah, for some reason I do believe in God.

So yeah, not very interesting, no miracles, no damascus road, can't even pin down the day, no logical examination of anything, not even of christianity, never mind other religions, just a realisation that something about me had changed and for some reason I was on the other side.

For the record, I have read the Koran too and I need to read it again becaue I was hostile to it the first time which led to me not giving it a fair chance. But the truth is Mohammed wasn't Jesus and didn't do Jesus things and in the Koran you earn your reward with God's grace whereas in the Bible God's grace is greater than your weakness and I feel the latter is better. Buddhism I feel is a correct solution to the problem, but is playing a zero game. Shutting all that stuff off about yourself will reduce suffering but it's reducing suffering by putting yourself in a white room. Hinduism is my major failing, I've never really looked at it. But even then, I wasn't logical in what I believe and I could understand the switch being the other way.

ReiverCorrupter:

I can hardly see how an all-loving God could punish people for not believing in him when he doesn't make it obvious that only one particular dogma is the way to salvation. He is omnipotent after all. And blaming the devil makes no sense whatsoever. Supposedly God created the devil, so he could smash him to bits with the snap of a finger. So why does God allow Indians to be Hindus?

This is the hard one, I don't know if you're still reading my posts with the Treblaine but I write a lot about this one. In the end God gives everyone a choice and you can even believe in God without ever hearing about him and just as I've made my choice and would reject Hinduism even if it was proved to me out of faith to the God that I'd dreamed of, I hope Hindus have done the same thing. It doesn't stop me praying that God will find some way for everyone to be saved. There's a parable Jesus told about not being jealous if you turn up to your final reward and find people there who you feel didn't work for it, because you're still being rewarded. He meant it to the Jews, but I hope that maybe he meant it for us too. The problem is that would devalue people's choice to decide where they go and what they believe in, but maybe God will find a solution that preserves that. In the end I trust God to do right, even if I'm in a position imperfect to decide what right is (and I am, I'm writing this on a laptop which I bought with money that could have fed a family for an entire year, who are now starving. I value my laptop more than the lives of people I can't see. How sickening is that?)

ReiverCorrupter:

What is belief, and why does it matter so much? It's hard to see how something as mundane as a propositional attitude could reward you with eternal life. We've believed all sorts of stupid things over the millenia. For the most part we can't even control our beliefs. Belief arises when someone is presented with enough evidence that they feel compelled to think that something is the case. How is it fair to punish someone for something they can't fully control? I imagine almost any priest will tell you that you can't just get up one day and say, "you know what? I think I'll be a faithful Christian."

So does that mean that God gives you faith as some sort of gift, like grace? If that's the case then how in the hell could he punish someone for not having what he is responsible for giving them? Maybe you have to earn your faith. Well, that's a bit of a catch 22, now isn't it? What would make you want to have faith if you don't have faith? Are you going to ask a God you don't believe in for the power to believe in him?

If there really were an all loving God, then I think he would be a lot more concerned about how we live our lives than what we believe. Let me ask you this: what did Jesus preach? Did he go on and on about the proper way to perform religious rituals? No. He preached about how to live a moral life, to love thy neighbor and to turn the other cheek. He didn't set up the Catholic Church. You know who did? The Romans. Yeah, because they totally weren't a bunch of corrupt assholes.

Have you ever heard of Gnosticism? It's an interesting tradition. It could best be characterized by the idea that one can achieve personal/mystical knowledge of God by studying scripture. The funny thing about Christian Gnosticism is that it doesn't require priests and the church as an intermediary between humans and God. Can you guess what happened to the Gnostics? Yup, wiped out by the Roman Empire in around the 4th century.

So how much of the modern Christian tradition is the word of God, and how much of it is the result of the corrupt human lust for power and control over one's fellow man? The idea that an earthly organization holds the keys to eternal life or eternal damnation should probably raise some red flags. Martin Luther founded Protestantism in order to rebel against what he saw as corruption in the Catholic Church. The problem is that the Catholic Church (aka the Roman Empire) had already controlled Christianity for centuries and molded it into a means of control. So what guarantee is there that Martin Luther, or anyone else for that matter, could purify it and retrieve the central message?

If you have faith, then you have faith. To be honest I haven't the foggiest idea what faith is like phenomenologically speaking, I'm extremely skeptical by nature. Not only of religious doctrine but also of certain scientific theories (primarily theories in Physics like the Big Bang and String Theory). What I understand about faith is that it's supposed to be deep seated and emotive, so rational arguments probably aren't going to affect it.

It's not my life mission to convert people to atheism. In fact, I find people who define themselves as atheists to be extremely annoying. Atheism is not at all an interesting doctrine. What most people mean when they call themselves atheists is that they hate Christianity. If these people were actually philosophically inclined they would identify themselves as physicalists or materialists, which imply atheism because they include a general rejection of supernaturalism. Unlike atheism, physicalism and materialism are substantive philosophical doctrines.

Anyone who views religion as some sort of demonic zeitgeist that causes mankind to go against its inherently rational and peaceful nature is, in all likelihood, a complete imbecile.

Oh my gosh, you are an entirely brilliant person, I hope you know that. I felt genuine love for you when I read all this. You have all the right questions in your life and so much wisdom. Compared to me who basically arrived where I am now by being a bit of a dick (and hopefully am slightly less of a dick now) you've really seen the important things. There is noway I can give you answers to this stuff, but I really hope that you find them, whatever they are however that is.

There are people who wake up one day and become a christian. In the Church of England it's 60-70% conversions like mine and the remainder seemed to hinge of one moment. But like you said, I don't know how you control that. If you open yourself up to God he'll let you in, but I don't understand how people open themselves up and I don't really think anyone does.

And you're so right about what people did with the church. I don't know if I respect the gnostics because a lot of what they said was to re-emphasise themselves, it was to lessen God's role and talk about how their own wisdom could kind've save them and they also used some of their arguments to justify doing whatever they wanted because they said that matter didn't matter but it's true that powerful people have abused the church to crush opposition and put themselves between people and God. We had a situation for so many centuries where priests refused to translate the bible into a language people could understand because they didn't want people connecting with God by themselves, didn't want to have to bow to what Jesus said instead of what they said.

Thank you for being understanding with me. You seem to recognise that this isn't something that i even really understand about myself and that it's not something that can be hammered out of me with cunning arguments. I really wish you the best in everything you do and I don't know, if you want I could pray for you, but I understand if you don't want that. It really has been an absolute pleasure talking to you and you've shown me that there's so much more stuff out there to learn and to discover, I guess it's the pleasure of being young that I can hope that if I live a few years longer maybe I'll understand a tiny bit more.

Andy Chalk:
As improving technology has allowed videogames to evolve over the years, their narratives have become more detailed and nuanced as well, according to Greg Perreault, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. That increased sophistication has led to a growing incorporation of religion into various storylines, and that in turn has led religion to be "problematized" in videogames by way of strong narrative connections with violence.

Okay...and the problem would be? From an entirely objective standpoint, organized religions and their high officials make good villains. They produce low-level foes who don't flee because of their complete devotion to their cause, allow for higher-tier villains to gain superpowers from their patron deity, and excuse all that Umbrella nonsense about the group not being financially viable. Corporations that produce nothing but evil won't make money. Religions that preach evil well enough will be given money just for preaching.

Andy Chalk:
Perreault looked at Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy 13, Assassin's Creed, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in his research and found that all of them tied religion to violence. "In most of these games there was a heavy emphasis on a 'Knights Templar' and crusader motifs," he said. "Not only was the violent side of religion emphasized, but in each of these games religion created a problem that the main character must overcome, whether it is a direct confrontation with religious zealots or being haunted by religious guilt."

Hang on a second there. I'm not sure what the religions component of Mass Effect 2 would be, and I didn't play FFVIII, but the others...

Assassin's Creed takes place during the Crusades. Of course it includes "Knights Templar" and "crusader motifs." Would you have rather they replaced the Templars with some made up hybrid of the Roman Legions and the Nazis?

The Castlevania games, too? Those are pretty much built around the concept of fighting and killing Dracula. You know, something that the church in virtually every Dracula-related media is intimately interested in doing? Or should he only be adverse to crucifixes because he hates right angles?

And Oblivion? Really? That centered around a cult. A demon-worshiping cult. If anything, it was religion that ended up coming through in the clutch and saving the day.

Andy Chalk:
But he also stated that despite the common presence of those themes, he doesn't believe game makers are trying to "purposefully bash" religion. "I believe they are only using religion to create stimulating plot points in their story lines. If you look at videogames across the board, most of them involve violence in some fashion because violence is conflict and conflict is exciting," he continued. "Religion appears to get tied in with violence because that makes for a compelling narrative."

Ah. Great. One of these sorts of studies. The kind that answer their own question in their mission statement, and then just go ahead with the study anyway because they don't have any better ideas. And this one probably involved sitting down and playing video games, so I don't blame him on that front.

Andy Chalk:
This is where I'd normally make a crack about being thankful that organized religion has never been responsible for any real-world violence, but I don't want to offend any sensibilities so I'll simply note that Perreault presented the results of his research at the Center for Media Religion and Culture Conference on Digital Religion and leave it at that.

There is no facepalm big enough. No, not even the Picard one made of thousands of smaller facepalms.

He submitted his work to an organization that doesn't worry about the portrayal of religions, but about how fictional ones are portrayed? That's like the NRA throwing a fit because Shadows of the Damned contains a gun that makes lots of sexual innuendo, and that fictional gun is hurting the family-oriented image of guns. Not of actual organizations centered around guns, mind you. They're worried about how people view the abstract concept of guns.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition

Yep religion always shows the best in humans therefore I promptly disagree with video games using religion as a violent catalyst. (sarcasm)

Space Marines, lol.

RaNDM G:

Andy Chalk:
A University of Missouri doctoral student says many modern videogames "problematize" organized religion by equating it with violence in their stories.

Nevermind the centuries of warfare, racism, intolerance, and bigotry spurred on by religious leaders. Videogames are the real problem.

I can kinda get where this guy is coming from, but his theory doesn't just pertain to games. All forms of media (comics, film, novels, tall tales, whatever) have themes of violence that take inspiration from historical conflicts. And it just so happens that faith and religion played a huge role in some of the biggest (the Crusades, the Catholic/Protestant War).

There's some pretty fucked up stuff in history. That's what makes these stories compelling.

Seriously, that was my thoughts upon reading the article. Never mind the fact that the Crusades (somewhat of a big thing) were religious wars fought against Muslims...and eventually used children.

And they're wrong?

Sorry that's all I have to say on the matter, if anything they've taken a good historal look at wars and conflict and found a common theme. Anyone with any decent level of learning could make this assumption AND a decent argument for it.

Organized religion... has... done alot of damage, yes. What more can you say?
I'm sure it's brought goodness into individual lives as well, I will never discount it as an inherantly evil thing, but I think fanaticsm warps ideals and corruption spreads wide and deep when many ascribe to the same beliefs as you and you maintain a position of power or authority over that belief.

So really. "Cool story, bro?" is all I can say to that astounding student.

BrotherRool:
Yeah I read that one in an article the other day. Of course the problem is that actually it isn't like that and there are far more religions that say any religious person is better off (I think Jainism is an example here, and some strains of Christianity too), than religions that like atheists.

I agree that many traditions might favor people who belong to other religious traditions than nihilists. The real question is why. My sneaking suspicion is that these traditions presume that a religious background will give someone a better moral backbone. That might be true in many circumstances, but I don't think it's true by necessity. A capacity for compassion (which I take to be the real ground of morality) isn't necessarily tied to any belief system.

BrotherRool:

ReiverCorrupter:
'Worth' is a human concept. Finite existence simply is, you're the one who deems it worthless.

This isn't true though. Worth might be a concept creating by humans but that doesn't make it any less true. Here I simply talking about actions that have consequences that last forever and actions which have no-consequence in a infinite time scale. Even if you call it a human concept, well I still want my life to have worth.

The fact that you don't think something finite has worth is a reflection of how you measure worth. If your finite existence was worthless to God, then how could your finite actions be worthy of eternal reward?

BrotherRool:

Well I have a lack of will (Just to interrupt here, from a christian perspective, that rock has purpose because it's been created by God and is glorifying him by fulfilling his will, so it's a pretty awesome rock and we should all think it's awesome)

Does an infinite, eternal, perfect and transcendent entity really think the rock is awesome? How could something not fulfill God's will? Does God have a will? I have a will because I am a finite being. I exist in space and time, and my will is a reflection of my spatiotemporal nature. It is what drives my actions in the world. When I will something then I act in space and time to bring about a certain state of affairs in a future space and time.

BrotherRool:

But still, if we want to make choices in life (and most people stress other choices at some point or other) then those choices have to have consequences (else it's not a choice) but in a finite time scale they don't. Which is exactly what I feel, if time is finite, then well, choices don't matter. You can say value is a human concept, but what you are actually saying, since we both know what value is, is that everything is valueless. Because you agree what value means (although not on what should be valued) but when you call it a human concept what you;re actually trying to tell me, is that value doesn't exist and nothing has value. And anything that doesn't have value is valueless as we both understand the term.

What is the meaning of meaninglessness? What is the value of value?

BrotherRool:

The big thing is being united with God though, which is unimaginable and rather fantastic.

So are you separate from God now? Do you exist outside of God?

BrotherRool:

Oh okay, I did say, I know this is hard to believe but the nihilism really wasn't a factor in my conversion. In many senses I'm still nihlistic, it's just that the world doesn't operate in a way that supports my nihlism.

I don't know, do you actually want me to describe my conversion? It's something that most non-christians object to and to give you warning, there are no astounding moments of logic or even much that would make sense to anyone else.

...

So yeah, not very interesting, no miracles, no damascus road, can't even pin down the day, no logical examination of anything, not even of christianity, never mind other religions, just a realisation that something about me had changed and for some reason I was on the other side.

It sounds to me as though you've become a cultural Christian. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. It can good to belong to something, to identify yourself with a side. Everything you've said describes a search for personal worth. Human beings are social animals, being part of a group and identifying yourself with other people can give you a great sense of personal worth and identity. But you should recognize that this is not the same as a spiritual revelation.

The question you have to ask yourself is what you really want: personal worth and a purposeful life, or spiritual transformation and divine truth? No, the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. That depends upon what kind of person you are. Christianity is a social religion that revolves around morality, so it is more naturally suited to social people. Hard ascetic practice is necessarily an individualistic enterprise, and isn't suitable for certain people.

BrotherRool:

For the record, I have read the Koran too and I need to read it again becaue I was hostile to it the first time which led to me not giving it a fair chance. But the truth is Mohammed wasn't Jesus and didn't do Jesus things and in the Koran you earn your reward with God's grace whereas in the Bible God's grace is greater than your weakness and I feel the latter is better. Buddhism I feel is a correct solution to the problem, but is playing a zero game. Shutting all that stuff off about yourself will reduce suffering but it's reducing suffering by putting yourself in a white room. Hinduism is my major failing, I've never really looked at it. But even then, I wasn't logical in what I believe and I could understand the switch being the other way.

If you feel a burning desire for knowledge and you love ideas for their own sake, whether you agree with them or not, then keep reading. If you want to feel contented then stick to being a Christian and focus on feeling loving compassion for your fellow human beings.

Buddhism and Hinduism are traditions that evolved out of an incredibly academic and generally more open minded society. You could spend your entire life reading Sanskrit texts and you still wouldn't have scratched the surface. They are incredibly deep and complex traditions, and you really shouldn't skim them to get the gist. Since you're already committed to the Christian tradition, I would instead suggest that you read Augustine's "Confessions" and the works of Meister Eckhart. And then, if you're feeling adventurous, the works of Soren Kierkegaard.

BrotherRool:

ReiverCorrupter:
So why does God allow Indians to be Hindus?

This is the hard one, I don't know if you're still reading my posts with the Treblaine but I write a lot about this one.
(snip) And you're so right about what people did with the church.
(snip) it's true that powerful people have abused the church to crush opposition and put themselves between people and God. We had a situation for so many centuries where priests refused to translate the bible into a language people could understand because they didn't want people connecting with God by themselves, didn't want to have to bow to what Jesus said instead of what they said.

There are more than a few apocryphal texts that suggest that everyone is saved in the end. You noted the general timeline of the new testament books in your other post, but what you have failed to consider is that there were TONS of christian gospels and texts and only a few were selected to be part of the cannon by the Church, which happened much later on. All of the Church meetings to establish dogma were unabashedly political and usually involved compromises. You have to realize that texts that were too forgiving for non-Christians would inevitably undermine the power of the Church. Even if we grant that many of the texts were divinely inspired, it still seems fairly obvious that the selection of which texts were the 'official' word of God was a decidedly human and imperfect affair. The problem with divine inspiration is that it involves human interpretation.

BrotherRool:

In the end God gives everyone a choice and you can even believe in God without ever hearing about him

Interesting. And what would this belief look like? Perhaps it would take on the cultural features of the person it belonged to. Are you sure it would look like Christianity?

BrotherRool:

and just as I've made my choice and would reject Hinduism even if it was proved to me out of faith to the God that I'd dreamed of, I hope Hindus have done the same thing.

What if God told you that Hinduism was just the way he revealed himself to Indians?

BrotherRool:

There are people who wake up one day and become a christian. In the Church of England it's 60-70% conversions like mine and the remainder seemed to hinge of one moment. But like you said, I don't know how you control that. If you open yourself up to God he'll let you in, but I don't understand how people open themselves up and I don't really think anyone does.

When God presents himself to people, does he say that he is the Christian God? Does he speak in Aramaic, or Greek, or Latin, or English?

BrotherRool:

I don't know if I respect the gnostics because a lot of what they said was to re-emphasise themselves, it was to lessen God's role and talk about how their own wisdom could kind've save them and they also used some of their arguments to justify doing whatever they wanted because they said that matter didn't matter

True, Gnosticism is quite mistakenly focused on duality. If you're open to hearing it, I would bid you to reflect upon the nature of the self in relation to God. What is the greater act of arrogance: to identify yourself with God, or to think that you are independent of God?

BrotherRool:

Thank you for being understanding with me. (snip) I guess it's the pleasure of being young that I can hope that if I live a few years longer maybe I'll understand a tiny bit more.

My pleasure. However I would remind you that age doesn't automatically entail greater understanding. You have to work for it. Part of the process, at least according to my own experience, is learning to appreciate unanswered questions. Oh, and if you feel like praying for someone, I think your time is better spent on people in less fortunate positions.

"Study Says Videogames 'Problematize' Religion as Violent"?

Religion, collectively, is the leading cause of human death on this planet. Has been for quite a while. Not to mention religion is inherently anti-woman. No source needs to "problematize" religion as violent when IT BLOODY WELL IS VIOLENT!

And for no reason whatsoever, I'll add this in:

I absolutely despise religion as it has proven one fact over and over again to me: that a perfectionly functioning penis that is attached to a less-than-functioning brain is the destroyer of all things good on this planet. That's not to excuse the women who have done evil on this planet; but, as far as religion goes, men have done infinitely more harm to each other and the planet we call home than their female counterparts.

ReiverCorrupter:
And then, if you're feeling adventurous, the works of Soren Kierkegaard.

A warning to anyone considering that - you'll have to understand sentences like this:

"Faith is precisely the paradox that the single individual as the single individual is higher than the universal, is justified before it, not as inferior to it but as superior - yet in such a way, please note, that it is the single individual who, after being subordinate as the single individual to the universal, now by means of the universal becomes the single individual who as the single individual is superior, that the single individual as the single individual stands in an absolute relation to the absolute."

- Soren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)

Treblaine:
...Why is it that atheists are actually getting up of their ass to make counter-protests, to challenge them in public debates? HOW can most Christians not even know about such an infamous organisation as this?!?! Other than willful ignorance of what their ideology alows?!?

Well, it shouldn't be just atheists who counter-protest WBC, it should be anyone who sees them for who they are, a domestic terror group. I think the only reason they haven't been targeted in a Waco style raid is because they haven't tried to kill anyone over their beliefs (but they have no problems shitting on the memory of those who have died so they could voice their beliefs).

I've found that most do know who the WBC are, they just don't know them by their name. If they don't know the name of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS, you just start mentioning other things. Ask them, "Have you heard of the God Hates Fags people" or "The guys that protest soldiers' funerals" and they'll know who you mean. It's not willful ignorance, it's just that this hate group is so insignificant to their beliefs that learning their name is inconsequential to them.

So, I think this study is right.

And you know what? I'm okay with that. It's about time that the world starts realizing that organized religion is a problem.

I'm tired of the supporters of religion getting off the hook because "the really crazy ones make the rest of them look bad". I'm sorry, but believing that an invisible man in the sky controls your destiny is exactly what I consider to be "really" crazy!

Jesus Fucking Christ people, get real, get with the times, and let Christianity, Islam, Judaism and all the rest go the way of Zeus and Poseidon. They are heroic and humorous myths, and they are all no more than comic book superheroes.

Erm, who cares? I hope religion burns to the ground! :3

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