Sunday, August 31, 2008

So I've got a new issue on my mind, this time it's the election, and i'm going to use this blog as i did before, to keep a written track of what i'm thinking at the time...i doubt anyone will read this, but it's nice to organize your thoughts somewhere.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What's Left Desired

The explanation I gave earlier about religion leaves many I talk to wondering, "where do we come from?" and similar kinds of questions.

Well this is my own explanation about that, It doesn't matter. I don't think it's up for religion to tell us where we come from, it's also not the purpose of religion to tell us where we'll go after we die. Those are answers for science to answer. It does not bother me that I don't know where I come from. It might bother other people, and they find comfort in religion, that's great, then religion has served its purpose.

Personally, I take a much more "we're here now, this is what we have, let's make the best out of it". Many people find themselves amazed and astonished at the complexity of man. We are very complex beings. Too complex to describe. That inability to simplify and explain defies what we as humans find comfort in. Religion comes in, gives God a personality, give God some more power and knowledge, and use that as the basis for their teachings.

As soon as you've gotten enough people to believe that there's a higher power of infinite wisdom and power, you've achieved the ultimate. You can now teach people anything, make it perfectly logical and sensible, and above all, very simple. Now I'm not saying it's bad, in fact, I think it's good. This calms people down, makes them comfortable, and makes them more secure about themselves. It keeps them sane. This isn't only a matter of where we come from. It's also for questions of morality, death, deception, and loss.

What does my explanation say about those? It's the human experience. We live together in this world, we each have frames of reference, we all have experiences and habits. Our habits and actions interact help us interact with each other, affect each other emotionally and physically, and harm each other. It's very unfortunate, but it is what it is

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My Initial Beliefs - Part Yereg (that's Armenian)

In part 2, I established the basis of my argument, that morality exists, and christianity recognizes it.

Now I will attempt to say what I think religion is and what it's purpose is. It's important to note though, that my opinion might greatly change throughout the experiment.

Ok, so I stretched my thinking a bit more historically. I thought about the ancients. They had moon gods, sun gods, sea gods, love gods etc.... What do they all have in common? They are all things which were too great, complex, and intricate for the human mind to explain, until today, it'd darn near impossible to define love. It's pretty obvious that those people created their own Gods, there's no mystery there. The reason they created their own Gods is because they needed something explained, that explanation couldn't come from science and math, so Gods were created to answer those.

Here's what I believe the premise was that the Gods were created under. I'll make a math analogy. Say you're working out a math problem. The answer comes up double what you had hypothesised it to be. Now assuming your work is 100% correct, there would be an anomoly. Similar to the ancient people's anomoly of the Sun, Sea, and Love. What you might be inclined to do, is to multiply the initial formula by 1/2. That would make the problem 100% sensible. Now imagine the ancient people could create something who had infinite wisdom and power, then that could be the basis for the explanation of any anomoly.

"Why did my son die before me?"
"Because God wanted it that way."

"How did we come to being?"
"God created us"

See my point? I really need to stress that I have not yet denied God's existence. I am simply stating that in my opinion, the idea of God as it is taught to Christian and Muslim kids is too physical, vague, and unsatisfying. Something about the definition of God as "An all knowing, all power being who'se shape/form we are in" leaves much to be desired for me.

Now's the really juicy part, here's what I think of God, and of religion. As I stated, I believe all humans are born with an understanding of morality (You can't say God gave us that morality because that assumes God exists, a problem which I already discussed). Now, if you go up to Joe Shmo in the street and tell him "You have a basic understanding of good and evil, go and try to do all that is good and stay away from evil", then leave him for the rest of his life, the evilness of human nature will overpower him and he will end up evil. But, If you tell him "You are Christian/Muslim, go to church every sunday/friday and pray every day (5 times)", and you successfully make him follow through, then that person will follow the teachings of the Church/Mosque.

That's what I think of Religions. All religion is, is a way to keep people on the right track. A way to keep people living happy, a way to keep the average person in touch with his morality.

What about God? I think God is a perfect embodiment of that morality. God isn't a being in my form/shape, God is an idea. What does it mean when God talks to Moses for example? It means that Moses has found a way in which to fullfil better moral perfection.

What does it mean when God talked to The Profet Mohammed? It means that Mohammed had found a way with which to better communicate moral fabric to his followers.

Islam is another factor that pushed my thinking into this. Think about Islam (Forget the political propaganda), Islam teaches it's followers to be better humans. Don't drink, don't eat pork (for health reasons) etc etc... Remember that Islam teaches the same basic moral values as Christianity does, it jsut preaches it to it's followers in different manners.

God is perfect, and we can never be perfect. No matter how religious we get, and in touch with our morals, we will always be human (the after life is for another post) and have the evil inclination. Another math example: think of God as the x-axis, and humans as a function which has a horizontal asymptote as y=0. At y=0, we have achieved perfection. We can always get closer to perfection, but there will always be something holding us back, preventing us from getting there (Disregard the fact that the function can cross the asymptote, we're talking at infinity).

Now what seperates the different religions? Simply speaking...tradition.

What's the difference between a muslim and a christian? christians eat pork, muslims don't. Christians pray once a day (more depending on how religious you are), Muslims pray 5 times a day. Christians drink, Muslims don't. Follow my drift?

So what about the buddhists I mentioned earlier? The buddhists exactly fit the description I gave, they believe in the same moral values we do, and their religion translates that belief into the average joe.

So in the end, I guess what I'm saying is I'm a believer. I'm a believer that there is a moral fabric i'm born with. There is also an evil inclination combined with it that is a result of my morality and my nature as a human. I'm a believer in the idea of God. I believe that my life should be to strive to get in touch with the x axis. I'm contempt with my imperfection, and my inability to rid myself of mischief. I'm a Christian because I agree with how it tries to teach and enlighten people about their morality. I'm a Christian because I put aside the political past and believe in it's traditions. I'm a Christian because I choose to be one.

My Initial Beliefs - Part Deux

In this post, I will highlight what got me thinking about this, and what the arching belief is.

I started thinking about this when the issue of whether the 10 commandments should be shown in front of the court or not ( ). That day (March 2 2005) I was listening to an interview on NPR, some hardcore rightist lady was blabbering for the showing of the 10 commandments in front of the court. The journalist asked her would she accept a passage from the Quran being posted in front of her kids' school? And the lady said there would be no problem.

That set off a train of thought in my mind that's been going on and on for a year now. Here's what got me thinking. Ok, the 10 commandments, strip out of them the strictly religious commandments, and what do you end up with? don't steal, don't lie, don't kill, etc.. And I thought, well what person would think it's bad to praise that. It is common to all religions, that stealing, killing, and lying is bad, and that being a good samaritan is good.

So I figure that there is a moral knowledge of good and bad which is common to all humans. My family is not a very religious one. I grew up not going to church strictly every sunday, not confessing on every trip, and not praying before I sleep. But I still grew up with the same moral framework as someone who goes to church every sunday, who prays multiple times a day, and who confesses every sunday. I am just as happy as he is as well. So church as a building and the priest as a messenger of God isn't the reason i'm in touch with God's teaching.

Then I thought, well, we all have evil inclinations. We have all thought about stealing something at some point, we've all lied, and we've all done or had an inclination to do evil in our lives. But this evil inclination is often countered by our feeling of good will and good intention. So there's a ying and a yang, a good and an evil, a God and a Devil. So I knew that was established.

Then I thought about buddhists. They have the same moral fabric as us Christians, Muslims and Jews, but they don't believe in God. I'm taught that whoever doesn't believe in God is a sinner, and will go to hell. That doesn't make sense to me yet. People make the argument that those people "haven't seen the light", bug God has infinite wisdom and power, why hasn't he shown those people the light? It doesn't make sense to me.

So what I concluded from that, is that humans all share the same good and bad qualities, regardless of religion.

Now it's important to note that I am not saying religion doesn't exist or God doesn't exist. I'm simply saying, similarly to what Socrates said, that:

A pious (Righteousness and good virtue) action isn't pious because it is loved by the Gods or the God's made it pious, a pious action is pious because it's good by nature and the God's simply approve and appreciate it's piety.

I'll finish off my beliefs in part 3

Monday, October 16, 2006

My Initial Beliefs - Part 1

Note that these are my first beliefs, the beliefs that got me thinking about this topic in the first place they are rough and unpolished and have a lot of holes in them, but I think they portray the position i'm taking.

First of all, I have to convey how I feel about human nature. I believe that humans are born good. We are born with a natural sense of good and wrong. The origin of which can be either evolution or God (depending on you'r religous orientation). Humans can, however, be corrupted by society. This has been written by other philosophers and thinkers, and I believe it to be true.

I have recently come across some of Hume's writings. They make a lot of sense to me, and they kind of go against what I believe. He basically says that humans are born self interested. Not necessarily selfish or greedy, but self interested. He basically says that every action we do is benevolent, in other words, everything we do, is such that will either help us later (as in an investment), or to protect ourselves.

You might be thinking, what about charity. Well, people usually do charity to help themselves. The way this works out is, the people might eventually need charity themselves, and the people that were helped, might help out. I don't know if this is enough explanation, but it should serve it's purpose for now.

I don't know how much I believe this, because, according to Hume this all happens instinctively, it does not happen consiously, that is an assumption I am not willing to accept, as of yet.

Religion and Moral Values

As someone recently noted in a comment on my blog, there needs to be a distinction between religion and belief.

This leads me to my next point, belief is something which cannot be proven. If it is, then it is not belief, rather it is knowledge. Belief by definition has no proof. So how can one say they believe in God, and be sure that he exists? There's a paradox there. One could argue that there is no paradox, but instead, the belief in God is proven by his good will and by the greatness of our world, and our belief turns into knowledge in the afterlife.

That is the first example of the problem I presented in the "Starting Point" post. That explanation stems from the belief in God, remove the belief in God, and the statement falls apart.

The Starting Point

I've had a few discussions about this topic with a few friends before and by the end of the conversation, it all basically boils down to this:

One's believe of God, will explain anything, and one's disbelieve in God will provide a counter explanation for that explanation.

It's a problem i've face over and over again. Basically, there are assumptions people make that stem from the fact that they believe in god, and the other person makes assumptions based on the fact that they don't believe in God. It's all relative.

Now I myself am not an atheist, well, I don't think I am. I see myself at a crossroads, at the peak of a mountain. I can either fall forward, and have a much stronger belief in God than i did before the thought experiment, or I can fall backwards and live as an athiest inside.

Many people propose the fact that "I would rather live believing in God and finding out there wasn't one, than living not believing in God and finding out he does exist, and being screwed". Obviously, there is nothing holy or divine about that statement, hell, if anything, it shows that person has no idea what religion is or what theyr'e praying for.

It's obvious that the religious group believes in another world, a world of divinity, of heaven and hell, of angels and demons which we cannot be a part of. The other group, as I see it, is split into two groups itself, one which believes in another abstract world, but not in a religious sense, rather in a logical sense. The other group denies the existence of any other world altogether.

So in conclusion, it follows that before anything could be reached, this problem has to be solved. What I myself prefer to do, is to use the Cartesian method. I do not deny the existence of God, yet I do not confirm his existence. God for me is on hold, until I sort things out

First Post

Hey, well I dont' really expect anyone to read this, it's just kinda personal, but I would highly encourage comments, that would be great...what i'm going to do here is document and keep track of my thoughts about religion, god, creation, evolution, morality and such. I've been thinking about it for a while, but never organized it in any way, it will start in an ad-hoc fashion, and i'll go from there