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Subject: Believers- What Role Does Belief in God(s) Have in YOUR Life? rss

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William Boykin
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So, here in the RSP, over and over again, we have the ongoing debates over religion vs. atheism. A key challenge that is thrown out are attempts by one side or another to prove how 'rational' their position is, compared to their opponent. The result is the usual flame war that pretty much sums up discussions of religion here in the RSP.

But in this thread I want to (try) and move beyond that. I'm curious as to what role belief in God has for a person, in the construction of their sense of self, and in how this effects how they view other ideas. How does belief in God impact how one sees themself? How does it effect what ideas you perceive to feel to be instinctually 'true', before you go further to look deeper? How does it effect what ideas, and topics, you find to be interesting?

In essence, how does being a believer in a deity or other supernatural agency (of any sort, I'm interested in all denominations and perspectives here) effect the rest of your world view? Is it core to everything else, or is it just one branch of a greater tree?

Not being a believer, I'm gimped in this regard, and therefore, I'm honestly curious as to what anyone else might have to say.

As a result-
Please do not come into this thread looking to make a drive by snark attack. In this thread, I'm not interested in hearing from atheists, so please, try and keep the eternal Blood War out of this thread if at all possible.

Also, please don't view this as a chance to convert me, either. Most of the people of faith in RSP know me well enough by now, but for the new people who might come into this thread, I'm secure in my atheism. But that doesn't mean that I'm not immensely curious as to how your faith impacts your life.


Darilian
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Re: Believers- What Role Does Belief in God Have in YOUR Life?
Pwn3d-

You'll please note in the actual OP I presented my question like this.

Darilian wrote:

In essence, how does being a believer in a deity or other supernatural agency (of any sort, I'm interested in all denominations and perspectives here) effect the rest of your world view?


Yes, you're right in that 'God' is too limiting a concept of what I'm talking about. But, it makes for a shorter title!!!



Darilian
 
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Given that belief in the biblical God is a necessary precondition for all intelligible human thought and predication (see my discussion of induction, no need to derail this thread), my belief in the biblical God is absolutely core to my life. The purpose for which God created me is to glorify himself, and because of this every single thing I do or don't do in life is based upon what HE would have me to do. I have died to myself and my life is no longer mine to live. Indeed, I have taken up my cross to follow Him. My entire worldview hinges upon His authority. How I think, act, feel, and live is always with Him as Lord and King.
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luv2breformed wrote:
The purpose for which God created me is to glorify himself

No disrespect to your beliefs luv2breformed, but when I read that line, I couldn't help but think to myself:

Why does God need to create a bunch of beings to continually sing praises about Him? What an ego God seems to have, needing people around for all eternity saying how great He is.

Reminds me of that line from Star Trek V: "What does God need with a starship?"
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William Boykin
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Shadowchaser wrote:
luv2breformed wrote:
The purpose for which God created me is to glorify himself

No disrespect to your beliefs luv2breformed, but when I read that line, I couldn't help but think to myself:

Why does God need to create a bunch of beings to continually sing praises about Him? What an ego God seems to have, needing people around for all eternity saying how great He is.

Reminds me of that line from Star Trek V: "What does God need with a starship?"


No no no...

Please, no drive by snarking.

Darilian
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Shadowchaser wrote:
luv2breformed wrote:
The purpose for which God created me is to glorify himself

No disrespect to your beliefs luv2breformed, but when I read that line, I couldn't help but think to myself:

Why does God need to create a bunch of beings to continually sing praises about Him? What an ego God seems to have, needing people around for all eternity saying how great He is.

Reminds me of that line from Star Trek V: "What does God need with a starship?"


That didn't take long.
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jonnylawless wrote:
Shadowchaser wrote:
luv2breformed wrote:
The purpose for which God created me is to glorify himself

No disrespect to your beliefs luv2breformed, but when I read that line, I couldn't help but think to myself:

Why does God need to create a bunch of beings to continually sing praises about Him? What an ego God seems to have, needing people around for all eternity saying how great He is.

Reminds me of that line from Star Trek V: "What does God need with a starship?"


That didn't take long.


Why does god need a starship?
 
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William Boykin
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Start your own thread and ask that.

Darilian
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jonnylawless wrote:
Shadowchaser wrote:
luv2breformed wrote:
The purpose for which God created me is to glorify himself

No disrespect to your beliefs luv2breformed, but when I read that line, I couldn't help but think to myself:

Why does God need to create a bunch of beings to continually sing praises about Him? What an ego God seems to have, needing people around for all eternity saying how great He is.

Reminds me of that line from Star Trek V: "What does God need with a starship?"


That didn't take long.

Are you talking about Star Trek V? Because that took WAY too long.
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I'm a Mormon and I believe what Mormonism says about God, that we are his children and he wants us to grow to be like him. (Cue collective groan from the RSP, "Again with the Mormons?" But you asked and Mormons love talking about this stuff.)

This belief makes all the difference to me in my life. It gives the whole thing meaning and purpose. It explains why I go to work every day doing a job I don't really want to do, why I stay married and take care of my kids when that is often such a hard thing, why I bother to learn things, why I should be good to other people instead of following my inclination to be entirely self-centered, why I have overall optimism that life is worth living despite the reality of death.

To me, if God exists, then the Mormon explanation of him is the most rational I've heard. If we really are children of God, then it makes sense that a child would grow up to be like their parent. I realize this is a blasphemous idea to some people. I'm certainly not saying I'm anything like God or that I'm above any one else in any way. I'm a worm compared to God. But I, and everyone else, has a divine potential.

Faith and reason? I don't see the conflict. Why can't you have both? If you imagine an infinite plane that represents all knowledge and understanding, both religion and science are two tiny somewhat intersecting circles in that plane - most of it we don't know yet. Scientists themselves say they don't even know what 96% of the universe consists of.

If something is true, then it's true, whether it comes from science or religion. If I see sedimentary rock that takes millions of years to lay down, with different types of extinct fossil creatures in each layer, and then something like the Grand Canyon cutting through it all (17 million years apparently to cut down through) then it's obvious to me that God very unlikely created the earth in only 6 days only 6000 years ago.

Is my faith blind? No. What I believe makes rational sense to me. When I look at my sweet wonderful 5 year old daughter, such an amazing person, I think, "Did this llikely happen by random chance in a cold uncaring universe? Does that ring true at all to me?" No, it doesn't. The Mormon "plan of salvation" makes at least as much sense to me as random origin of life in a Godless universe.

Do I believe without any evidence? No. On numerous occasions I have felt the Holy Spirit confirm that what I believe is true. This is a real thing that I can't deny. It doesn't mean that I know everything or never have any doubts.

But as Paul said in the Bible, we are given the Spirit to give us enough to keep going in faith, to believe that there really is more to come hereafter, like when you put down earnest money to buy a house. "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (second Corinthians, chapter one, verses 21 and 22).

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Dar, are you also interested in people who follow faiths that do not have God(s) (e.g. Buddhism)?

It might make for an interesting contrast.

PS. Nice idea for a thread
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But what if you are not an athiest, but do not belive in religion?
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Darilian wrote:
So, here in the RSP, over and over again, we have the ongoing debates over religion vs. atheism. A key challenge that is thrown out are attempts by one side or another to prove how 'rational' their position is, compared to their opponent. The result is the usual flame war that pretty much sums up discussions of religion here in the RSP.

But in this thread I want to (try) and move beyond that. I'm curious as to what role belief in God has for a person, in the construction of their sense of self, and in how this effects how they view other ideas. How does belief in God impact how one sees themself?


Because of my belief in God (a very particular belief in a very particular God), I see myself (and others) as a child, a literal offspring, of God. I see myself (and others) as having divine potential. This does wonders for my self worth, but it also informs every major decision in my life. Because of this potential, and the purpose that it gives my life, I want to be a better person than I am and strive for that on almost a daily basis. It's hard to see it now, in the midst of things, but I really am a stronger, kinder, wiser, more intelligent person than I was even 10 years ago.


Quote:
How does it effect what ideas you perceive to feel to be instinctually 'true', before you go further to look deeper?


I try not to distinguish between spiritual and temporal truth. I think one day humans will understand that it's all just truth. If something makes rational sense to me, I tend not to dig much further unless I'm fascinated by it or someone is presenting me with a mutually exclusive truth (or something they consider a truth).

Quote:
How does it effect what ideas, and topics, you find to be interesting?


Other than the fact that belief in God opens up a whole new avenue of potentially interesting topics, it doesn't really. I don't decide what is interesting to me, it just happens. As I said before, I don't distinguish between scientific vs. religious truth. I think that when humanity has a better understanding of the universe, meta-physics will become just another branch of physics and it will be possible to demonstrate via empirical evidence. I think we're just too immature in our understanding of the universe to know what to test for right now.

Quote:


In essence, how does being a believer in a deity or other supernatural agency (of any sort, I'm interested in all denominations and perspectives here) effect the rest of your world view?


Life is imbued with purpose. There is a plan and I try my best to follow it. I get easily distracted from that plan at times, but part of what we're here to learn is to not be distracted from the plan. I'm here to be tested. I'm here to learn to control my passions and emotions. I'm here to learn faith. I'm here to be good.


Quote:
Is it core to everything else, or is it just one branch of a greater tree?


It is core to everything else.
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I guess the best way to answer this question is to contrast my outlook before I believed in God with how it is now.

Before I believed in God, I was more insecure, I was less happy, I was less confident, I was more angry, and I was more full of myself.

I like my believing God outlook more.
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My belief inspires me to be a better person. If there's no God, then what's the point of all this?
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out4blood wrote:
My belief inspires me to be a better person. If there's no God, then what's the point of all this?


I can aspire to be a better person without believing in God (or any god). Why can't the "point of all this" be simply to be the best person you can be? Why does it have to involve a god?

Note: Not a drive-by snarking; Tim asked a question; I am answering it.
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Golux13 wrote:
out4blood wrote:
My belief inspires me to be a better person. If there's no God, then what's the point of all this?


I can aspire to be a better person without believing in God (or any god). Why can't the "point of all this" be simply to be the best person you can be? Why does it have to involve a god?

Note: Not a drive-by snarking; Tim asked a question; I am answering it.

See, if I wasn't trying to be a better person, I'd be a jackass and point out that my belief inspires me, not you. And that whatever you have as your inspiration is entirely irrelevant to mine.

But I am trying to be a better person, so I won't.
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out4blood wrote:
Golux13 wrote:
out4blood wrote:
My belief inspires me to be a better person. If there's no God, then what's the point of all this?


I can aspire to be a better person without believing in God (or any god). Why can't the "point of all this" be simply to be the best person you can be? Why does it have to involve a god?

Note: Not a drive-by snarking; Tim asked a question; I am answering it.

See, if I wasn't trying to be a better person, I'd be a jackass and point out that my belief inspires me, not you. And that whatever you have as your inspiration is entirely irrelevant to mine.

But I am trying to be a better person, so I won't.


I understood that your point about inspiration was in answer to the original question, and that it was about you. But you asked a more general question - "If there is no God, what's the point of all this?" - and I was answering that.

I wasn't saying you shouldn't be inspired as you say you are; simply that it is possible to be similarly inspired without that belief, and thus - since you linked it to your inspiration to be a better person - "the point of all this" might not require God.
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As I tend to be almost as verbose as you my Dearest Dar... the whole answer may take me awhile to write up for you. But I am working on it.


Golux13 wrote:
out4blood wrote:
My belief inspires me to be a better person. If there's no God, then what's the point of all this?


I can aspire to be a better person without believing in God (or any god). Why can't the "point of all this" be simply to be the best person you can be? Why does it have to involve a god?

Note: Not a drive-by snarking; Tim asked a question; I am answering it.


However I am going to answer this one... even though I am not Tim.

There is a language disconnect here.

You can aspire to be a better person but without God you have no idea of what that really means (in the way most believers mean when we say it) AND no capacity to achieve it even if you did.

Honestly being the best person I can be by human standards is like trying to be the very best caterpillar by eating a lot and wiggling fast but refusing to ever submit myself to metamorphosis. When with God I can become the very best butterfly I was created and intended to be.

Only God can teach me to spin a cocoon. Only God can facilitate the transformation once I trust Him enough to spin it and climb inside.

Being "Born Again" isn't about fire insurance. It is about becoming a NEW CREATURE in Christ.

The very best parts of me are invariably the ones I have surrendered to Christ's reformation. The worst parts of me are the ones I cling to and won't let go of yet.
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Tim Seitz
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Golux13 wrote:
out4blood wrote:
Golux13 wrote:
out4blood wrote:
My belief inspires me to be a better person. If there's no God, then what's the point of all this?


I can aspire to be a better person without believing in God (or any god). Why can't the "point of all this" be simply to be the best person you can be? Why does it have to involve a god?

Note: Not a drive-by snarking; Tim asked a question; I am answering it.

See, if I wasn't trying to be a better person, I'd be a jackass and point out that my belief inspires me, not you. And that whatever you have as your inspiration is entirely irrelevant to mine.

But I am trying to be a better person, so I won't.


I understood that your point about inspiration was in answer to the original question, and that it was about you. But you asked a more general question - "If there is no God, what's the point of all this?" - and I was answering that.

I wasn't saying you shouldn't be inspired as you say you are; simply that it is possible to be similarly inspired without that belief, and thus - since you linked it to your inspiration to be a better person - "the point of all this" might not require God.

But the question was about my belief and my answer was about my belief. I was not saying that you can't have some different purpose or inspiration, only that I can't.
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Meerkat wrote:





As I tend to be almost as verbose as you my Dearest Dar... the whole answer may take me awhile to write up for you. But I am working on it.


Golux13 wrote:
out4blood wrote:
My belief inspires me to be a better person. If there's no God, then what's the point of all this?


I can aspire to be a better person without believing in God (or any god). Why can't the "point of all this" be simply to be the best person you can be? Why does it have to involve a god?

Note: Not a drive-by snarking; Tim asked a question; I am answering it.


However I am going to answer this one... even though I am not Tim.

There is a language disconnect here.

You can aspire to be a better person but without God you have no idea of what that really means (in the way most believers mean when we say it) AND no capacity to achieve it even if you did.

Honestly being the best person I can be by human standards is like being trying to be the very best caterpillar by eating a lot and wiggling fast but refusing to ever submit myself to metamorphosis. When with God I can become the very best butterfly I was created and intended to be.

Only God and teach me to spin a cocoon. Only God can facilitate the transformation once I trust Him enough to spin it and climb inside.

Being "Born Again" isn't about fire insurance. It is about becoming a NEW CREATURE in Christ.

The very best parts of me are invariably the ones I have surrendered to Christ's reformation. The worst parts of me are the ones I cling too and won't let go of yet.


Lynette, for all your poetic language, you're not saying anything that is meaningful to me. I know exactly what it means to me to be a better person. I have a well-developed moral and ethical code to which I aspire (with greater or lesser success), and it does not derive from any supernatural entity.

I like being a human being. I don't want to be any other creature. I don't want to be a butterfly, not even metaphorically.
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out4blood wrote:
Golux13 wrote:
out4blood wrote:
Golux13 wrote:
out4blood wrote:
My belief inspires me to be a better person. If there's no God, then what's the point of all this?


I can aspire to be a better person without believing in God (or any god). Why can't the "point of all this" be simply to be the best person you can be? Why does it have to involve a god?

Note: Not a drive-by snarking; Tim asked a question; I am answering it.

See, if I wasn't trying to be a better person, I'd be a jackass and point out that my belief inspires me, not you. And that whatever you have as your inspiration is entirely irrelevant to mine.

But I am trying to be a better person, so I won't.


I understood that your point about inspiration was in answer to the original question, and that it was about you. But you asked a more general question - "If there is no God, what's the point of all this?" - and I was answering that.

I wasn't saying you shouldn't be inspired as you say you are; simply that it is possible to be similarly inspired without that belief, and thus - since you linked it to your inspiration to be a better person - "the point of all this" might not require God.

But the question was about my belief and my answer was about my belief. I was not saying that you can't have some different purpose or inspiration, only that I can't.


OK so I answered a rhetorical question.
 
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Golux13 wrote:

Lynette, for all your poetic language, you're not saying anything that is meaningful to me. I know exactly what it means to me to be a better person. I have a well-developed moral and ethical code to which I aspire (with greater or lesser success), and it does not derive from any supernatural entity.

I like being a human being. I don't want to be any other creature. I don't want to be a butterfly, not even metaphorically.


I think she is saying that without God, you don't even know there is a butterfly for you to become. Without God, we spend our days eating leaves and getting eaten by birds and never entering the chrysalis phase. You think you are a good caterpillar because that is all you know. People who know God have an extra set of information that allows them to transcend us, or at least allows them to aspire to transcend us. You can't really argue with it as it is knowledge that you and I can't have as unbelievers, hence part of the reason Dar wants us skeptics to bud out.

Her use of "refusing" was a confusing choice of word as it implies that we know of this better state and refuse it. I think that that breaks the analogy when taken that way.
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I suppose my relationship with God crops up just about every day, but to boil it down God plays two main roles for me:

First, God plays the role of my superior. Now, humility is a laughable concept to many. People who practice humility are often seen as weak, feminine, or "brainwashed" in our modern age, but if I believe in God and I believe what is said about God, then I must recognize His superiority. All of the concepts of sin, salvation, grace, destiny, truth, etc. boil down to God being the superior and me being the inferior. My life is fundamentally driven by the concept that we answer to someone greater than ourselves.

Second, God plays the role of guarding the truth. The world is full of lies and deceit, whether it's for gain, for pride, for power, whatever. There are numerous quotes and proverbs about the nature of man but one of the most succinct is "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?" With a world full of corrupt hearts leading us around, where is our source of purity? Where is our source of truth?
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Darilian wrote:
How does belief in God impact how one sees themself? How does it effect what ideas you perceive to feel to be instinctually 'true', before you go further to look deeper? How does it effect what ideas, and topics, you find to be interesting?

In essence, how does being a believer in a deity or other supernatural agency . . . [a]ffect the rest of your world view? Is it core to everything else, or is it just one branch of a greater tree?


I've been trying to think how to answer these questions, and the best overall answer that I can give is that I feel kind of like a farandola.

It's been a loooooong time since I read A Wind in the Door, but in its story, our mitochondria are operated by farandolae. They are little creatures that have a free-wheeling larval stage but are ultimately expected to "Deepen" -- to take root and join in the communal enterprise that keeps the mitochondrion cranking and, more generally, the cosmos in its proper balance.

I see myself as a tiny little unit playing a tiny little role in what is a grand and mysterious cosmos. It's simultaneously humbling (because I'm really, really tiny) and exhilarating (because the whole in which I play my tiny part is so very glorious).

What I see at the core of my religious tradition (reformed Protestant Christian) is a message that there is a power that seeks the ideals of justice, mercy and love and calls on creation (especially us humans, as stewards of earthly creation) to make these ideals manifest here on earth.

My religious beliefs do affect my world view. For instance, my belief that each of us is special and sacred derives, in part, from my religious faith. It's helpful to me sometimes, when I'm finding someone irritating or whatnot, to take a deep breath and try to see that person as a child of God, valuable and lovable.

My beliefs don't, in any way that I can see, affect what I find interesting. It certainly doesn't affect my willingness to take something "on faith" rather than dig deeper. I think that knowledge is a beautiful thing -- when faith becomes head-in-the-sand truth avoidance, that's not only wrong but also disrespectful to the beauty that is Truth. I don't understand that approach at all. Related to this, I see zero conflict between religion and science.

Some of my practices are different because I believe. I pray, and I've found great comfort and help in prayer. I participate in a church community. I'm trying to help people as best I can, including teaching the young people of the church (I'm a Sunday School teacher) and trying to change things for the better within my church (I'm an elder). We're not perfect, heaven knows, but we are improving -- I'm super-proud, for instance, that my denomination has now cleared the way for gay clergy, and I played my own small, farandola-like role in helping bring that about.

Beyond that, it's hard for me to describe the difference that my faith makes to me, because, in many ways, there's little or no practical difference. In most observable ways, I would end up in pretty much the same place as a secular humanist -- I'd still think that it was in some way my responsibility to increase justice, mercy and love. I'd still feel like a very small part of a very big, unbelievably awe-inspiring Something even if there wasn't a God who created and loves it. I'd still think that each human life is valuable. I'd certainly still value science.

From the outside, "faithful me" probably looks so similar to what "atheist me" would look like that it seems like a distinction without a difference. To the extent there's a difference, it's internal -- it's my seeing a structure and meaning to the goodness in the world that I wouldn't otherwise see.
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