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Questions on Religiousness
Posted: 09 June 2008 06:13 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I am interested in leading a religious life that serves god.  What would be the first thing I need to ask myself in order to live such a life but not be disillusioned by such things as dogma in the face of scientific evidence? 


p.s. Here is a brief background; I joined this site by way of listening to Point of Inquiry, along with reading about some different religions, and am looking to engage in constructive dialog with the logic/rational/scientific community.

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Posted: 09 June 2008 06:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Well, first I’d ask what you mean by “serving God”. What is God? Why do you believe he exists? How do you serve someone who is omnipotent and therefore who can achieve anything he wants?

If there is a God he is responsible for the laws by which the universe functions, including the laws of evolution.

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Posted: 09 June 2008 09:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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redcrayon - 09 June 2008 06:13 PM

I am interested in leading a religious life that serves god.  What would be the first thing I need to ask myself…

First thing you have to ask yourself is which god you’d like to please. If Zeus is your guy, I would try womanizing—he was into that stuff. To serve Yahweh, I would recommend stoning disobedient children, killing people who work on the Sabbath, and, of course, getting circumcised! And Allah, well, I guess anything that was in style before Copernicus should do the trick and put a smile on Allah’s face. But don’t try to picture his smiling face—I think that could make him mad.

Good luck. Let me know how it goes.

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Posted: 09 June 2008 11:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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LOL  Good one, George.  Can I borrow that sometime when it fits else where?  Yours too on Evolution, Doug.  smile  I don’t think there is anything I could add, except to look into neuro-psychology concerning the brain chemistry behind feeling such as transcendence and alike words of feelings that go along with those things the religious attribute to their metaphysical god that sits on a throne in the sky somewhere.  IF there is a god, it is not external, but rather internal.

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Posted: 09 June 2008 11:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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dougsmith - 09 June 2008 06:51 PM

How do you serve someone who is omnipotent and therefore who can achieve anything he wants?

Good point. Read:

Stanisław Lem - Non Serviam

Reprinted in ‘The mind’s I’ by Hofstadter and Dennett.

GdB

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Posted: 10 June 2008 12:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Right On Mriana! and that internal god is called Conscience. I think if one can tame their desires on one hand while at the same time striving to obey their Conscience on the other, they’d be serving ‘god’. This is of course a 24/7 type of endeavour and not just an occasional task.  Conscience transcends all cultural, social, psychological, religious, technological, scientific or even moral taboos and all it zooms in on in the process of a progression is the good of all.

Btw, does science have any taboos?

PS:I love what Doug and George said.

[ Edited: 10 June 2008 12:58 PM by Daisy ]
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Posted: 10 June 2008 02:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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To me god is the ultimate source of existence and the totality of infinity.  To serve god in my view is to live life in accordance with the natural order having appreciation and love for everything, and doing everything within my capabilities to promote the most harmonious, comfortable, and equitable existence for nature and living beings.

My being is a piece of this infinity, albeit in the smallest minutia relatively.  My individuality in this system is so fleeting and constituted by material and cultural influences that are small waves on the vast ocean of infinity that I would like to give up my perceived self to serve the harmonious totality of being. 

I try to stay away from anthropocentric personifications of god, i.e., he knows, he is someone that does things, etc.  These can help us understand some aspects of the truest nature of reality but ultimately fall very short of ideas such as the source of infinity.

So does this sound like Agnosticism? Humanism? Hinduism?  I think my basic ideas are not logically unsound but where to go from here as far as day to day practice and long terms goals as to how I should live my life in accordance with my views of existence?  Does atheism/agnosticism/humanism have set principles without a god in the traditional western monotheistic interpretation or should it be a choosing of the truest elements of any religion?

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Posted: 10 June 2008 03:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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OK, it sounds sort of like you’re talking about a deistic or Spinozistic sort of God, one who isn’t a person. I must say that I don’t have any real problem with that understanding of God, and it could easily be understood along humanistic terms, or even in atheistic terms; it only depends on how one describes it. (If God must be a person, then the sort of God you’re talking about is an “atheistic God”, if that makes any sense).

Hinduism is a bit more complex; on some understandings of the ultimate reality (Brahman) it is a non-personal God, one that simply is constituted by reality. But on other understandings of Brahman, it is a personal God who does things. And Hindus also do believe in other lesser Gods like Krishna and Shiva; really Hinduism is better described as polytheism than monotheism or atheism ...

What you’ve described, however, doesn’t really sound like agnosticism to me. You haven’t said you didn’t know about God, you’ve said you have opinions about God, but didn’t believe it was a person. That’s not really agnosticism.

There are good and bad elements to all religions. IMO what we need to discard are the superstitions, the supernatural elements, the stuff that isn’t consistent with a full understanding of the sciences. We need to look at so-called “sacred texts” as great works of literature, but not as divine works. They are all human creations.

Hope that helps out a little ...

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Posted: 10 June 2008 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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redcrayon - 10 June 2008 02:48 PM

To me god is the ultimate source of existence and the totality of infinity.  To serve god in my view is to live life in accordance with the natural order having appreciation and love for everything, and doing everything within my capabilities to promote the most harmonious, comfortable, and equitable existence for nature and living beings.

My being is a piece of this infinity, albeit in the smallest minutia relatively.  My individuality in this system is so fleeting and constituted by material and cultural influences that are small waves on the vast ocean of infinity that I would like to give up my perceived self to serve the harmonious totality of being. 

I try to stay away from anthropocentric personifications of god, i.e., he knows, he is someone that does things, etc.  These can help us understand some aspects of the truest nature of reality but ultimately fall very short of ideas such as the source of infinity.

So does this sound like Agnosticism? Humanism? Hinduism?  I think my basic ideas are not logically unsound but where to go from here as far as day to day practice and long terms goals as to how I should live my life in accordance with my views of existence?  Does atheism/agnosticism/humanism have set principles without a god in the traditional western monotheistic interpretation or should it be a choosing of the truest elements of any religion?

Seems to me that you have a very personal definition of God. Your definition of it should determine the “best” way to “serve” it. Unless it involves the scientific process in some way, then there’s no conflict to be concerned about, just don’t mix the two.

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Posted: 10 June 2008 05:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Probably a more Taoist description than anything.

The way to serve the tao is to go with the flow. And therein may lie the rub. Most such elusive descriptions of god do not require nor need any service. What does the universe care how you serve it? One can easily argue that just by doing anything by being you are of service to that kind of god.

To claim to want to serve god in any sort of pointed (you get to decide) fashion already starts to anthropomorphize god, since god isn’t guiding you in what to do.  Same thing if I start to think I am serving my dog. He doesn’t understand that so its all about me.

[ Edited: 10 June 2008 05:58 PM by cgallaga ]
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Posted: 10 June 2008 05:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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GdB - 09 June 2008 11:47 PM
dougsmith - 09 June 2008 06:51 PM

How do you serve someone who is omnipotent and therefore who can achieve anything he wants?

Good point. Read:

Stanisław Lem - Non Serviam

Reprinted in ‘The mind’s I’ by Hofstadter and Dennett.

GdB

Thanks you guys. This is good….

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Posted: 10 June 2008 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Daisy - 10 June 2008 12:45 PM

Right On Mriana! and that internal god is called Conscience. I think if one can tame their desires on one hand while at the same time striving to obey their Conscience on the other, they’d be serving ‘god’. This is of course a 24/7 type of endeavour and not just an occasional task.  Conscience transcends all cultural, social, psychological, religious, technological, scientific or even moral taboos and all it zooms in on in the process of a progression is the good of all.

Btw, does science have any taboos?

Well, I think someone if following me.  As long as you don’t put “god” out there somewhere and keep it focused on the human.  Although, I am also inclined to go with cgallaga too.  However, if one tries too hard to describe it, they end up with a human concept, which is something Tzu tried to avoid, because the Tao is undescribable.  Conscience is a human concept.  However, if one went with their conscience, then they could also be following the Tao.  Also the 24/7 endeavour, according to the Buddhists, becomes second nature after a while.  If one practices, Right thinking, Right speech, Right action, etc long enough, they effort to continue to do so gets easier and one doesn’t have to work as hard.  Even so, I think redcrayon maybe looking for a concept.  I’m not sure though.

I doubt science has any taboos, because, as far as I know, only people have taboos (and maybe other apes).

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Posted: 10 June 2008 09:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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we are part of infinity, therefor part of infinity is us.  this is where it seems the relationship between god and humans is, together as one ultimate thing, but at the same time completely separate in their own relative perspectives.  this would be anthropomorphizing god in the sense that i am limited to doing what is best for the natural order within my material human self, which is part of infinity.  cgallaga, with this view i think we can have a human element of god without having to say things like, “god is sitting on a throne up in the sky” etc. which certainly creates logical discrepancies.  also, if you dedicated your life to serving your dog, looking out for its comfort and well-being, your dog would benefit without having to have to share the same direct consciousness. 

would blind faith be a scientific taboo?

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Posted: 11 June 2008 12:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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redcrayon - 10 June 2008 09:58 PM

 

would blind faith be a scientific taboo?

I find most of your last post to be mostly not worth my attention. Meaningless is the most polite way I can say it.

Even this last comment is a bit of a stretch.

As to taboo no. As far as I know science (the method) has no taboo, no stone need be left unturned.

But the rest seems to amount to a non sequitur in regards to science. Science or at least scientific skepticism has nothing to do with blind faith in much the same way that it has nothing to do with the supernatural. It is not a part of the equation as it were. If fact if we take blind faith to mean to believe without doubt or question science could be said to be the anithesis of blind faith.

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Posted: 11 June 2008 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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redcrayon - 10 June 2008 09:58 PM

... with this view i think we can have a human element of god without having to say things like, “god is sitting on a throne up in the sky” etc. which certainly creates logical discrepancies.  ... 

would blind faith be a scientific taboo?

Since it doesn’t exist, you can view it in any manner you please. Like an hallucination. As such, that is not a scientific taboo - so long as you recognize that it is a product of your imagination and should not interfere with others’ lives.

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Posted: 11 June 2008 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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redcrayon, I don’t think anyone can serve infinity, or the whole of reality. If you try to do that, there’s nothing to serve because toxic gas is as much to be served as is oxygen. How do you choose? I don’t see how you can except by deciding to serve something else (see third paragraph below).

What you’re describing in relation to infinity, or the whole, or reality, is an attitude. William James called it the religious attitude of the soul, characterized by a sense of awe and wonder. I think you’ll find considerable company among us secularists on that point, but it’s important to draw the distinction between worshiping in the sense of having an attitude of awe and wonder (I would add curiosity), versus “serving,” which I take to mean “doing something for or on behalf of.”

My commitment of service is to living beings. Not to be dogmatic, but I think that’s the only way a commitment of service makes sense because even if we commit to preserving the natural environment (for example), we’re really committing to keep the environment habitable and hospitable.

I don’t think a little analysis and reflection beats the life out of this. On the contrary, for me at least, it makes a religious life as a secularist more meaningful, and a whole lot more intelligible.

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