The Moderated Theology Thread

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by FLMountainMan, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. YOLO EMSHI

    YOLO EMSHI Senior member

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    I've always wanted to ask this

    What exactly does 'non-practising' (insert religious belief) mean to you? This sort of identification puzzles me. Why do people insist on holding on to their faith when it has little effect on the actions of their everyday lives?
     


  2. acidboy

    acidboy Senior member

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    my wife and I were baptized catholics. I was enrolled in a jesuit school and she was placed in a protestant school. we got married in my church, mostly because she doesn't really go to church while I was pretty regular with practicing my faith during that time. the kids are also in a catholic school but mostly because it is a good school and not really for the spiritual formation. I pretty much stopped going to church since I started taking up biking, plus (I guess this is true in most 3rd world countries with a large catholic population) I find myself revolted by the meddling of the local catholic heirarchy in politics and affairs of the state... and they have no qualms with using the homilies as a medium to get their messages across. in a way, I am glad that jesuits are a lot different from the other catholic orders and the non-seculars.


    'non-practicing' just means not physically attending mass/services/worship in whatever religion you're in. what was taught to us was (iirc) there are 2 sides of practicing our faith- through action and through praise. for the catholics, attending sunday mass is very important plus there are holy days of obligation such as christmas, easter, feast of the immaculate conception, etc that one "should" attend. another sacrament that should be done regularly is contrition or confession.

    imo, although I do not practice my faith, my faith still has effect on my life. plus if I don't come home drunk, I do find myself meditating/praying before turning in and its a big help for me in terms of knowing where I am in life, if you know what I mean.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012


  3. Claghorn

    Claghorn Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I guess I'm non-practicing Quaker. As I mentioned earlier, I was raised in that faith. I was lucky that Quaker morality is strongly humanist, so when I became agnostic and later an atheist after college, most of what I was taught as far as ethics translated very well into a life without any sort of higher power.

    Because of this, I still strongly identify with Quakerism and on some levels still consider myself a Quaker. Quakers don't have a religious authority within a church (like a minister or preacher), only a secular head (called a clerk) which is elected every few years. My father, despite being an avowed and open atheist, was clerk of our Quaker church for several years. This, I think, reinforced the idea that the belief in God was not necessary to associate oneself with at least certain faiths.

    Churches seem to be both religious and social institutions. Some emphasize one more than the other. Quakerism is very focused on its role within the community and society, and historically always has been. Who I am morally is a Quaker. So this is my form of being non-practicing. I suspect for most people it's just that they were raised in a certain faith, believe in it nominally because it's been indoctrinated, and now simply are too apathetic to go to church.

    On a different note, both my fiancee and I are atheists, but when we have children we plan on raising them in the Quaker faith. America lacks a strong humanist moral tradition. Thus as people abandon faith for rationality, there is little as far as a rational moral code to jump to. As an atheist I despair at the amount of sex and violence on TV, in music, and in games...generally their large social presence. I believe this is because America lacks a strong moral alternative to religion (Christian or otherwise), and thus I think that faith still plays an important role in society (though its presence has perhaps stymied the development of moral alternatives) and should not be easily dismissed.
     


  4. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    Not trying to pick on you here Clag, just curious:

    See, I hear things like this quite a bit and I just do not understand the logic. If you're an Athiest, then you can't be a Quaker. Because by identifying yourself as a Quaker you're saying that you believe in that religion. And by definition, if you believe in that religion then you cannot be an athiest, because being an athiest is being without religion by definition.
     


  5. Claghorn

    Claghorn Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    No worries; on an intellectual level I pretty much agree with you. There is no doubt that I am an atheist, and this should preclude me from belonging to most, if not all, religions.

    I was raised in as a Hicksite Quaker, so it was far closer to a philosophical upbringing than a religious one. In many respects, Quakerism is Christian only genetically. Some Quakers (according to Wikipedia, at least), question whether or not they should even consider themselves Christian anymore. I was never taught that Jesus died for our sins, or that he was the son of God, or that he performed miracles. I wasn't taught otherwise either...just that such things were of relative unimportance. I was always taught that he was a righteous man who lived a virtuous life, one which should serve as an example for myself and others.

    The belief in God was always secondary to the belief of the inherent goodness and social responsibility of humanity. Quakers, including myself at one point, attribute this to "that of God" inside us, but the actions it led to were always more important than the source. Like I mentioned earlier, my father was clerk of our church (though Quaker churches are actually referred to as meetings...I'm just saying church because it's easier) despite being openly atheist. He, however, never considered himself a Quaker, which posed no problem to those who elected him.

    Both my philosophy and morality are Quaker, and my philosophy and morality didn't change even slightly when I moved from someone who believes in God to someone who doesn't.

    In the end, I don't know if I am a Quaker or not. But I don't think atheism is inherently contradictory to Quakerism. Atheism seems to be more about not believing in any sort of higher power; religion doesn't enter into it. Buddhists, for example, are arguably atheists.

    I don't think there is any branch of Christianity where the role of God is so diminished as it is in Quakerism (at least, Hicksite Quakerism). So while you may hear such things a lot, unless you are hearing it from Quakers, it's a bit different. A good question would be: is Hicksite Quakerism, as practiced today, Christian in anything more than its heritage?

    I am, for the most part, a pacifist. I will not insult people (this is a form of violence) nor will I physically assault another. I say for the most part because a do think that war, while always evil, is sometimes necessary. And if someone else were being hurt and the only way to save them is to hurt the attacker, then I think I would (because my own personal morality is my choice, and it shouldn't be imposed on others to their detriment). This fact is more damning to my case as a Quaker than my atheism.

    I believe that there is an inherent goodness in all people, and that through meditation and self-reflection we can get in touch with that goodness and allow it to dictate how we interact with the world around us. This is the central tenet of Quakerism and is what determines how Quakers actually practice their faith.

    The tl;dr summary:
    To be philosophically Quaker carries more meaning than to be philosophically Catholic or Methodist or Baptist simply because Quakerism is less about God and more about philosophy and action than other faiths.

    [EDIT]: Hicksites are one of the main branches of Quakerism, but the others are far more in line with traditional Christianity, so what I was raised in is different from what Evangelical Quakers and Conservative Quakers are
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012


  6. acidboy

    acidboy Senior member

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    ^ seriously, that IS interesting. I've never really looked up what quakerism is and the only thing remotely connected to that for me living out here is that dude in the oatmeal container.
     


  7. div25sec9

    div25sec9 Senior member

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    This has been on my mind a lot recently. I was raised a Christian and blindly believed what I was told. My view of the world was limited to the small area that I lived and interacted with. The God I was taught seemed to fit that world very well. I never had a spiritual experience, but deemed this because I was somehow lacking in faith or actions (or because of my negative actions). Because I did not have any sort of spiritual experience I began to question things looking for answers; all I got was twisting of language to make things fit, lame excuses, improbable explanations, and turning the tables to be "that if I had more faith it would all make sense". The more I grew to understand the world around me, the less this God made sense. How could I pray to a God to ask him to bless my meal when thousands in other parts of the world prayed for food, but starved to death anyways. How could a God who supposedly cared about the little details in my life wipe out thousands with a tsunami on the other side of the world so easily? Could not God's Plan" be accomplished with even just one less death, or even one less person suffering?

    I don't know how I came across it initially, but I began watching debates on youtube, to see if the great spiritual minds of the faith had any answers, but this had the opposite effect on me. These so called great debaters of the faith could only dodge the hard questions, come up with an "proof of God" through philosophical word games, and to claim victory when their opposition failed to address all 20 statements they made in the very limited response time. I was screaming out "just answer the damn question, don't you know how important this is?" If I'm wrong about this decision, I either have wasted my life following something untrue or may spend eternity burning for not believing! The more I watched, the less I believed or found reasons to believe.

    Can anyone provide a reason to believe? If the Bible (or any other "Holy" book) is not the perfect (without error) word of God and morality is easily found outside of the scriptures, what good are these books? Why should I believe in what they say?
     


  8. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

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    Man, now would be a good time to have MTM in this thread.

    To take a short stab at this: a starting precept is that faith transcends proof, or perhaps they just run parallel to each other. If you could have proof, then there would be no need for faith. So there is not and you will not be any 'proof of God'. But, you may find signs that help you believe, if you're so inclined.

    Perfect is God's province. The way I see it: the physical world is imperfect, and since God acts through people, his acts likewise tend to be imperfect. This includes the bible, priests, you, me, animals, etc.

    Why does suffering happen? I don't know. Apparently I'm not supposed to know. I wouldn't wish suffering on anyone (except perhaps idfml until he changes that ghastly avatar) but apparently some people catch all the breaks and others don't and that's just how it is in this life. Is there another one to follow? Dunno, that.

    Do I believe in all of this? I struggle. My reason tells me that a kind and benevolent God is also a just God, and bad things shouldn't happen to good people, and perhaps the world really is random. So I doubt God, sometimes. But, I still believe.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012


  9. div25sec9

    div25sec9 Senior member

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    But doubt and belief can not coexist, or am I wrong? Can one doubt that a bridge will hold as one walks across, yet believe that it will at the same time? I tried to think of myself as a "doubting Thomas", to rationalize my disbelief...but soon realized that by definition you can not believe and not at the same time. By the rules of Christianity, you have to believe to be saved, but unfortunately you cannot believe and not at the same time, so by definition are we not doomed?

    I find myself grasping at faith for only 2 reasons: fear of damnation and backlash from friends & family.

    I feel that now I need definite proof of God, because that's all that can convince me now. The evidence seems to point in the opposite direction; with no signs of a moral, perfect, omnipotent being that has created and interacts with his creation.
     


  10. legorogel

    legorogel Senior member

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    To summarize your two questions:
    1. Why does suffering exist?
    2. Why does god not interverne?

    1. Long ago humans lived in paradise without suffering. When they disobeyed god their innocence was lost and the were forced to leave paradise to live in the current natural world. The current world is not considered our true home, it is far from perfect. So until the final judgment this world will become the kingdom of god again, we are stuck in this imperfect world with people imperfect because of the sins that human nature commited in paradise.
    Because this world is not our final destination and only a stepping stone of the path to salvation, suffering is part of the imperfection. The moment we do not have to suffer anymore is the moment we arrive in the kingdom of god.

    2. God is not arbitrary, intervening sometimes and not others without any apparent reason. Humans limited by their nature can rarely even notice intervention or comprehend the reasons for them. But we know one that god allows us our free will. He does not force us to act on our own good. This freedom gives us the choice to do the 'right' thing. If god would always intervente if we were one the edge to make a wrong choice, we would not be free. As we are created to the 'image of god' freedom is an essential part of gods and therefore humans nature.

    Personally I do not believe in a personal god. However I am sympathic with many ideas and 'religious' thinkers like anselm or augustine who did not only think about how to interprete the bible but also occupied themselved with many philosophical problems.

    My 'faith' gets described much better than i could ever do by Einstein:
     


  11. legorogel

    legorogel Senior member

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    Belief always comes with doubt. Belief without doubt is knowledge.

    You do not have to believe to be saved it is important that you try. The vatican says in the dogmatic constitution:
     


  12. Claghorn

    Claghorn Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I can't presently speak to the "why do bad things happen to good people" dilemma, as my response is: I don't believe in a higher power. However, I was taught that neither evil nor the devil existed, but that the urges/passions/whathaveyou (greed, lust, anger, etc) are a part of our nature as, and that it is our Inner Light (that of God in all of us) which allows us to moderate these impulses to productive levels. This seems like a reasonable approach consistent with internal logic.


    It was mentioned in an earlier post, the phrases "faith through action" and "faith through praise." I've always liked the way both sound (but only ever adhered to the former).

    This thread has made me think about the level of reconciliation between my atheism and Quaker culture. I'm going to try and be a better (atheist) Quaker, practice "faith through action" without the faith. Going to see about getting involved with the Non-theist Friends* Network.

    *The formal name for Quakerism is the Society of Friends...the only thing I never liked about being a Quaker was that we have silly names for various things.
     


  13. M. Bardamu

    M. Bardamu Senior member

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    This should be an interesting thread. This past year we moved up into a community of "1%ers" (for Canada at least), and I was struck by how many of our neighbors attend church or synagogue regularly. I was raised and baptised an Anglican, but haven't set foot in a church, other than for friends' weddings, for more than 20 years. My spouse and I aren't married, and neither of our kids are baptised.

    However, this Christmas we decided to attend church as a family for the first time, albeit one of those urban churches that recognizes same-sex couples and has a monthly service for the HIV-positive community. I find myself looking quite forward to it, not sure why yet.

    P.S. I think Quakers and Unitarians are cool. Bahais, don't know enough about - troubled by some of their views, but the few I have socialized with are very nice people.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012


  14. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

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    lol, wait until you have kids.
     


  15. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    interesting thread.

    I was raised a pretty seriously practising conservative jew. (my father converted, he was born a prespeterian and my grandfather was a minister). my brother and sister and still practicing and believing conservatives.

    in my late teens, early 20's I stopped believing. honestly it was directly related to my military service, it was also directly related to my admiration of the philosophy of ayn rand at the time (which I have, subsiquently, grown apart from). mostly I guess I just stopped believing. but that is a long story in itself.

    I was completly and totally secular for many years. completly and totally. when I had my first child, I decided that it would be best to raise him with some religion. I am a believer that if you don't have a religious background as a child it can cause you to look for stupid crap as an adult. in the past 10 years we have become more "observant" with a focus on community things. we go to services, we take part in a lot of comunity activities, we are active in thinks like study groups and burial societies, but we eat pork (and make no secret of it) and enjoy Satuerdays. we are teaching our kids to be good jews - I think that when my kids are each 14 or 15 I wil explain to them my beliefs.

    we enjoy a lot of the community activities - I like the singing at some services, I lead a bible study group maybe 4 times a year which I enjoy because it makes me study something that isn't work related.

    if I were to chose a religion - it might be hinduism or islam. I think both have a pretty nice internal logic, and they can be a lot of fun.


    in general "god" terms - I am a soft aethiest - I am not sure that there is or isn't a god. I have lived my life as though there isn't. I think that I am, basically, a very moral man, with the exception of a handful of things that would probably get me thrown into hell from a long time ago. I don't believe that you need to believe in god to be good.
     


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