@Lloy Mattityahu is Hebrew for Matthew. Matthew is the direct translation to English... Sooooo same as the other names of the apostles.
Evolution vs God(494 posts)
Wouldn't you say that it's something of a contradiction to claim with all certainty "...it's incredibly arrogant of us to think we can ever even come close to understanding what is going on", while at the same time dismissing all religions as "nonsense"?
It just seems a bit strange to me that you could be so sure about knowing relatively nothing about the mysteries of the universe, while being so certain that all religions are false. Something that, in reality, we won't know for sure until we die.
"So who do you now believe created God?"
As humans, we generally think and learn by using references from similar examples.
'What does something that we've never seen look like? Oh, well it looks like one of these, and one of those...' 'How does a food that we've never eaten taste? It tastes a bit like this, with a slightly something-ish flavour...' etc.
However, there is nothing like God, so there is nothing that we can compare Him to.
God is not affected by time, so He has no beginning, and no end. God created time, just as He created gravity, heat, light, our life, our death, and everything else. He doesn't need to wait until tomorrow, or the next day, to find out what's going to happen, or how it happened.
He isn't subject to the physical laws that He has created.
Because we've never experienced a paradigm without time, this is something which is slightly difficult to fully comprehend. We can only think in a way that fits inside of a single directional, continual motion. That's how our brains have been designed to think. We've been deliberately created to be incapable of truly understanding many things, which is why faith in what we can't see or 'prove' is necessary.
This is how Islam makes so much sense to me. It tells us that life is a test. A test to see who believes in the Oneness of God, and who doesn't believe.
How can you be tested about something if you already know the answers?
It would be a waste of time to enter an exam room, and go through the entire exam process if the answers were written right next to the questions on the paper.
Instead, there are signs, there are Books, there are Prophets and Messengers all calling to the same thing throughout time, and there is our innate human nature.
There are signs that point the way, and they give the people who believe a certainty of faith.
So it makes sense that 'scientific evidence' is never going to be the answer for an agnostic. And whoever doesn't want to believe will never believe, because the signs are easy to ignore for anyone who wants to ignore them.
Its not a contradiction at all - there are fundamental problems with all religions that I have looked into, so to claim absolute knowledge of something so wildly beyond our comprehension is indeed nonsense.
How does your explanation there of God satisfy you now, when thats just the same 'God works in mysterious ways' guff that a Christian would have given you?
The signs, books and prophets you speak of are not valid evidence - if you look for something and ignore everything else then you can draw any conclusion. What about the texts, prophets and messages that contradict your beliefs?
Your explanation there is just a concept, an idea. It may be right, but who knows?!
So what you are saying is that really you believe it because, well, it feels right for you. Which is nice. However it has no bearing on what is actually true or not - it just helps you sleep better at night.
Thanks for the deeper explanation. I'm still not entirely sure if I understand you 100%, but I think I get the general gist.
So what does your belief say about consequence? For example, if someone believes with his entire soul that they will meet God when they die, and another believes with his every inch of his fibre that they will become a non-existent fragment of nothingness, does one belief have an impact on the reality of the other, or do you think that because they have different beliefs, that one or both of them must be wrong?
"Did you find the character of the Christians around you to be lacking? or did their preachiness turn you off?"
Yeah, I suppose I did find their character lacking, to a certain extent. According to the New Testament, Jesus said (English translation from Greek) "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"
To me, that makes sense. For me personally, I was going the wrong way, and it wasn't really until I saw a group of people behaving in a way that I found so impressive that I realised that this behaviour didn't really exist in the Christians that I knew. So I wanted to learn more about why they acted like that. What it was that they were following.
"How about the character of Buddhists? Every Buddhist that I've met who really tries to live in accordance with their philosophy has had a mightily impressive character."
Well, that's completely wrong. I mean, just look at Michael O'Connor... lol... jk. No, what I saw, I only saw in Muslims. There's a lot about Buddhism that I find almost too spiritual, and I think that comes out a lot when you look at its more serious followers.
"So what was it that turned you away from the familiar? How wide was your personal research before you decided to convert to Islam?"
I researched at my own pace for about a year. Like I said, I looked at a lot of comparative stuff. I intentionally sought out accusations against Islam, and tried to see how much substance there was to them. I wasn't able to find anything that wasn't based on misinterpretations and misunderstandings, in the end.
But who claims absolute knowledge of everything? I just explained that the Islamic belief is that we weren't created with the ability to understand so many things.
What we're both saying isn't too dissimilar. You say we can't understand everything, right? I'm saying the exact same thing. We can't understand everything, and we don't have absolute knowledge. What we do know about reality/purpose/the afterlife/etc, comes from an external source that is consistent over countless generations, in countless languages, throughout countless cultures.
So what I'm saying is that there is an external source for the faith that the vast majority of human beings throughout the history of mankind have held, and continue to hold, in this world. We can't accurately explain or understand it to any degree other than what the source has allowed us to know and understand.
What you're saying is that we don't know what's out there. We don't even know if there are any motives or reasons, and we are incapable of understanding. All we know is that it's impossible to have been a single Creator. And that single Creator would never have given us a religion to follow or a way to know Him.
To me, that's a huge contradiction.
If the message gets distorted by people, and those people split into groups and fight each other, then that doesn't affect the reality of the original source of their faith.
If I start a game of Chinese whispers with a million people, and in the end my original sentence has changed beyond all recognition, it doesn't mean that I don't exist.
"How does your explanation there of God satisfy you now...?"
I was referring to a specific example of why I didn't just accept all Christian faith at the word of a clergyman. The original answer that he gave me was "He was just always there." I'm not saying that no other Christian could have put it into better words, but from my own personal experience, I was disappointed at the time. I wasn't a blind sheep, and I was asking questions and expecting real answers. That was my initial point.
"The signs, books and prophets you speak of are not valid evidence..."
I never said that they were evidence, or that they compelled you or anyone else to follow any religion. I said that they were signs for people of faith. If you don't believe, it's very easy to ignore them all. No Prophet or Messenger ever came and said: 'Here is the conclusive, scientific proof. You have no other choice except to believe now!'
We have not sent you except as a bearer of glad news and a warner to the whole of mankind, but most people do not know. (Qur'an 34:28)
If you demand unequivocal scientific proof that you have no choice but to accept against your will, then no religion that I know of ever claimed to offer it.
"...However it has no bearing on what is actually true or not - it just helps you sleep better at night."
That's an assumption that you've made.
I could just as easily argue that your assumption of me wanting to sleep better at night, helps you to sleep better at night, because it means that I have an ulterior motive for my faith, rather than there being any substance to what I believe in.
No. I certainly didn't become a Muslim for the reason that I just wanted to feel better, or because there was anything lacking in my life.
And definitely not because of sleep, because we have to wake up and pray before dawn every single day! lol!
I'm not a weak character who needs something to make them feel safe, or to help them understand the unknown. Maybe you're just judging me by your own standards here... I don't know.
I've always been independent, and a leader. If I just wanted to sleep better at night, there were a million other things that I could have done other than become Muslim.
"What you're saying is that we don't know what's out there. We don't even know if there are any motives or reasons, and we are incapable of understanding. All we know is that it's impossible to have been a single Creator. And that single Creator would never have given us a religion to follow or a way to know Him.
To me, that's a huge contradiction."
I didn't say that, but that's not a contradiction. Personally I feel that all religions stem from primitive man trying to make sense of the world and to survive in harsh environments. The supposed 'word of God' in all these scriptures were most likely just collections of handed down survival strategies. Nothing 'new' was revealed in any of these scriptures, they always reference common knowledge and understanding of their times.
It would have been easy for the supposed 'Word of God' to have been unquestionable - if one of the Prophets made a claim that required a leap in technology to be demonstrable, then this would have been irrefutable eventually. Imagine a scripture for example that said there was a red spot on Jupiter... but none of them do any such thing. There is no new learning to be found, even at the time of writing. They just shared the wisest understandings of the world at the time.
And when it comes to the more metaphysical aspects, that is all just supposition.
BTW as for the sleeping better at night comment, that was just me being flippant - of course that's not a motive for being religious. I bet it's an effect though! Your faith gives you comfort, does it not? Even though it might not be real?
If that was 'my own standard' then I'd be down the Church every sunday with the sheep (Their vernacular, not mine!) instead of questioning what people try to spoon feed me as gospel (Again, their terminology for meaning to take something as given, without proof)
@lloytron, Right now I can imagine the faithful, scouring scripture for a reference to Jupiter's red spot :)
Not that they need proof, you understand ;)
Whenever I hear people suggest that our time on Earth is merely a series of test's that God puts us through, I imagine him/her/it sitting in a lazy boy chair, adorned in their holy wife-beater vest, can of Stella in one hand, remote in the other, watching us scurry about on their flat-screen tv.
All the time muttering:
"Those bitchs better love me! If they don't love me, their gonna get it!"
Actually such proof would destroy the very concept of Faith and we couldn't have that, could we? :D
Personally I think that the world would be a much better place if all religion was abolished now. I can't see that being a popular opinion though :D
LOL! I believe the term that they use is flock, rather than sheep...
"...if one of the Prophets made a claim that required a leap in technology to be demonstrable, then this would have been irrefutable eventually. Imagine a scripture for example that said there was a red spot on Jupiter... but none of them do any such thing. There is no new learning to be found, even at the time of writing. They just shared the wisest understandings of the world at the time."
Well, in an ideal world, if a Prophet came and gave some sort of information or prophecy that wasn't provable until the technology had advanced enough for it to be, as you suggest, then people would have no choice but to say 'He was telling the truth!', right?
Simple and straightforward as that, eh?
Not quite, though... You see, what usually ends up happening, is that, as I said before, people just ignore what they want to and make up a million reasons to reject it.
I'll give you a real example...
The Qur'an, an unchanged, roughly 1400 year old book contains a detailed description of the stages that we go through in our mother's wombs from conception to birth.
Something that Muhammad صل الله عليه وسلم, who, as is well documented, was unable to read or write, couldn't possibly have known. We're talking about information that you need a microscope for, and there were certainly no microscopes around at that time.
Now, this is an excellent example of what I was saying before. A believer would look at that, and say that it's just another one of countless signs that their belief is true, and it increases their faith.
Whereas someone who doesn't believe says: 'Oh, well he probably stole it from a Greek writer, who wrote something similar 100 years earlier', or 'Yeah, well it's not accurate enough. The details are too ambiguous', or 'Well, that doesn't prove anything, it was just a good guess', etc, etc...
And that's just one of many scientific details in the Qur'an that couldn't possibly have been known by an illiterate man from a polytheist Arab tribe living in a previously relatively 'insignificant' mountainous region of the Middle East.
But different people take it in different ways. As people read what I write here, one or two will very likely open up a new tab, have a 'quick Google', and look for any refutation. Without even giving it any consideration, they want it to be wrong. Just like if your example was reality, and there was a red spot in the exact place on Jupiter that was 'prophesised' many years ago, a million different reasons why it was no proof of anything would suddenly appear.
'Oh, the ancient Egyptians had giant telescopes. They already knew about it, and he copied them', 'Yeah, well, Jupiter is actually covered in red spots, all over the place, so this means nothing', etc, etc.
That's why going the 'I can prove my religion is fact' route isn't a very worthwhile route to take, IMHO. There's a very real meaning to the term 'Blind you with science', and when you start to lose track of the whole point of faith by focussing on current scientific understandings, that term rings ever more true. Especially when you consider that scientific understandings are constantly changing.
As for comfort, then no... Islam isn't a faith that tells you that as long as you believe, it doesn't matter what you do, you will go to heaven. The belief of a Muslim should be equidistant between fear and hope. Fearing punishment and hoping for reward. It's certainly not the case that I feel that paradise is guaranteed, and all I have to do is wait until it comes to me.
I suppose I'm like a destitute person who just found the most valuable thing in the world.
I'm absolutely ecstatic that I have it, but I'm fully conscious of the fact that I'm not guaranteed to cash it in. So I have to work very, very hard to keep it safe and in good condition. Having too high a degree of comfort just makes you lazy.
This thread should have stopped after my comment on page #13.
Damn this web forum, I wrote a long (and interesting :D) response but got the stupid captcha wrong and it lost my post. I'll take that as a sign ;)
Surely one of the key points of faith is whether it is actually real or not? Personally I don't need to live under the fear of any deity to be nice to people or have a strong moral code.
As for science, I don't think science and religion are mutually exclusive. Anyway you are right, science does continually change... And that is a good thing, not a weakness. It continually challenges empirical laws and even disproves them. Religion generally doesn't, and that is a major flaw.
On the Alpha Course as an example, this can start with simple assumptions and then builds to wonderful conclusions. So on day one the course leader says "let's assume for a minute that Jesus was the true Son of God, what does that then mean?". And following that logic, don't you know it, you prove Christianity! Whoo! No wonder it's such a popular course.
But the starting assumption is probably wrong. I'm not overly familiar with Islam so I can't comment there, but I'd wager there are similar fallacies in such discussions that go unchallenged.
The point being though, scientific method can be applied to scripture, and should be... But we both know it won't hold up. Who wrote the scriptures? Who REALLY wrote them? Why? When? Over how long? How can we be certain what is written is accurate? Etc. how about contradictions?
The reason I don't believe the Bible is because I read it. I think we at least agree on that! ;)
Btw your analogy is wrong. You are like a destitute man that thinks he as found the most valuable thing in the world, talking to someone asking you to show its not just Iron Pyrite ;)
He's right you know.
Btw an observation. These religions seem to always originate amongst illiterate uncivilised countries. Why didn't the mighty one choose to start his religion somewhere slightly more plausible, where he'd get a better reception and more effectively spread the unquestionable truth?
It's the same reason that aliens travel million of light years just to scare some backwater hick... Because its not true ;)
"Personally I don't need to live under the fear of any deity to be nice to people or have a strong moral code."
Maybe not, but the fear of punishment is to stop you from harming yourself by doing forbidden things, when overcome by the urge to do so, rather than just "be nice to people".
As human beings, we all need to know our boundaries for our own good. It's the same when we're children and when we're adults. Otherwise we'll eventually end up justifying absolutely anything that we feel like doing.
Some people see the word 'fear' and automatically imagine a trembling weakling, huddled in a corner, doing what he's told, rather than thinking logically.
That's not actually what God fearing means.
When you slow down to drive past a speed camera, or resist the urge to park on a double red line in central London, you don't do it because you're some sort of free thinking leader of civilisation.
You do it out of the fear of losing £120 that you don't have to spare. You fear the punishment on your wallet from a government that, along with trying to make a whole load of money, is looking out for your well being, and the well being of other road users.
If the government just said 'Please don't park here, because you'll cause congestion for local residents' or 'Please slow down, because speed kills', nobody would pay attention.
"Anyway you are right, science does continually change... And that is a good thing, not a weakness. It continually challenges empirical laws and even disproves them. Religion generally doesn't, and that is a major flaw."
I disagree. People who lived thousands and thousands of years ago had the exact same wants and needs as the people of today. What was good for them is good for us, and that goes for everything. Food, environment, faith, etc. The same is also true of the opposite. What was bad for them is also bad for us. We don't suddenly change just because the numbers on the calendar get bigger.
And I never said that science and religion were mutually exclusive, either. My point was simply that if you try to measure the accuracy of any religion with what is known by science, you're going to run into problems, because what science might agree with in 1066, it might disagree with in 2013, and suddenly agree with again in 3087. So, for me, the constancy of the religion that comes from the all Knowing God is infinitely more reliable than a set of ever changing scientific understandings that necessitate previous generations being wrong, and implying that current generations are probably also wrong.
"But the starting assumption is probably wrong. I'm not overly familiar with Islam so I can't comment there, but I'd wager there are similar fallacies in such discussions that go unchallenged."
But this is a huge problem, and hardly scientific.
It's why we keep having to use the term 'religion' as a catch-all phrase in this discussion. You're assuming a great deal about every faith, based on your knowledge of one or possibly two.
To me, that's incredibly naïve. Thinking 'I went to church and what they told me was wrong, so therefore, I'd wager that what other religions also tell their followers is also wrong' has an immensely child like naïvety to it.
The words baby and bathwater come to mind...
"The point being though, scientific method can be applied to scripture, and should be... But we both know it won't hold up. Who wrote the scriptures? Who REALLY wrote them? Why? When? Over how long? How can we be certain what is written is accurate? Etc. how about contradictions?"
These are questions for a Christian, and I'm not one. They are quite meaningless to me, because I believe that the Bible has been changed by man, and contains errors and contradictions. I'm sure that you realise that, but I just wanted to make it clear.
"These religions seem to always originate amongst illiterate uncivilised countries..."
Uncivilised? Well, the countries that you might believe to be 'civilised' might not actually be a great deal more so than these 'illiterate countries' that you speak of, when you put them under the proverbial microscope.
Messengers were sent to every people. Rich nations and poor ones. But what you'll generally find is that the people who have wealth (but not all), tend to have an overreaching sense of self sufficiency and stronger love for this life and all its pleasures. So they frequently rejected Prophets and Messengers who were calling them away from the delights of the worldly life, and towards faith in the unseen.
Whereas the poorer, more grounded, common folk tend to have a greater sense of humanity (but not all), are more aware of the fact that they rely on the gifts of others in order to survive, and are more likely to show gratitude for what they are given.
I refer you to the comment four posts above.
@Giga, 2 small points.
1) Science has changed in the past mainly to accommodate religious beliefs.
2) When it hasn't Scientists/Mathematicians/have been killed & their work destroyed.
That's really the main reason the science of today, so differs to science of the past.
See, this is an example of assumptions leading conclusions where the original assumptions may be invalid and go unchallenged.
"Messengers were sent to every people" How do you know that for sure?
The key scientific principle in question here is questioning the validity of the source material. If that isn't absolutely concrete, neither are the assumptions made based on that.
Baby and bathwater? Maybe. But if any of this could stand up to such basic scrutiny, surely it would be as clear as day and unchallengable?
And @zinc, science changes all the time. Not so much because of religious beliefs but because it tries to break itself and sometimes succeeds.
I studied Physics at school. In the first year they told me everything about the world! Yay. Then in the second year the first lesson started with "Forget everything you know", and then we studied the 'real' physics. The same happened the next year, and the year after that, right up to when I was studying Quantum Physics at university.
The key lesson is 'everything you have learned is wrong, and heres why". This is why I challenge what I'm told, especially if it can't be demonstrated.
BTW I generally don't obey speed limits, but I don't drive like a loon or park on double yellows. I don't do this because of fear of punishment - I do it cos I'm not a complete cock :D.
If you need religion to teach you how to look after yourself and your family, and to prevent you being a total bastard to others then there is something very wrong!
To quote Penn Gillette, I don't need the fear of God to prevent me from murdering or raping people as often as I like, because I DO murder and rape as much often as I like - which is not at all.
Is it hotter in the Summer, or in the desert?
Some comparisons make zero sense.
Religion is based on blind faith, belief.
Science is based on observation, theorizing based on the observation, and empirical testing of the theories, which debunks them, or propels them into further study and refinement. It strives to eliminate all belief. Even when pigeonholed into the category of philosophy, science is anathema to religion. What it concludes is wholly unrelated to religious faith.
OK, so I was bored. I really didn't want to join this silly discussion. I'm done now. Carry on.
Its hotter in summer in the desert. But at what time of day?! :D
Hey G1GAHURTZ, just dropping in to say while I often don't agree with religious views and have no intention of following any sort of organised religion myself, I find your posts here to be very well written and clearly thought out. That’s not to say I agree with Islamic views on life, but it’s obvious you care about what you’re talking about, and have done so intelligently and calmly (as have a couple of others, but you seem to have stuck it out the longest).
And I respect that, man. It’s been interesting to read.
..... what ? why are you looking at me like that ? :DD
+4 I guess :D
But as to the fear of God portion of the argument, I have to disagree with you G1GA, as that have never stopped people from committing crime. And religious interpretation often lead people to think they can do anything they want as long as they have the love of god at heart and will repent and will be forgiven as their religion promises them.
This is the line out of "Kingdom of Heaven" movie, something I firmly believe in and I too have seen similar things way before watching this movie:
"Hospitaller: I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What god desires is here
[points to head]
Hospitaller: and here
[points to heart]
Hospitaller: and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man - or not."
The thing is, it's true in may ways, with or without the fear of God, there are people who do despicable things, fear of God is no reason to stop them from doing it. Look at 9/11 for example, look at millions of deaths that came in its wake. And it is going on still. The fear of God didn't stop the hijackers from crashing the planes into twin towers, it didn't stop angry, frustrated and desperate Americns to turn on the middle-eastern population, it didn't stop people from killing each other in the war that followed it. And this is just an example, there are thousands more in history books.
Fear of God is something people say to scare the weak-willed and feeble minded. It doesn't exist, it's an illusion performed by the clergy because their words aren't strong enough, their ideologies aren't profound enough to convince each other - to stop each other from harming one another.
Thanks, I appreciate the kind words.
""Messengers were sent to every people" How do you know that for sure?
The key scientific principle in question here is questioning the validity of the source material. If that isn't absolutely concrete, neither are the assumptions made based on that."
I agree wholeheartedly. The source of what I said here (Messengers were sent to every people) isn't an assumption, but it's written in the Qur'an, which is a book that actually challenges us to question its validity.
Then do they not reflect upon the Qur'an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction.
So how do I know for sure?
Like I said before, having indisputable proof that I could show you, and 'knowing for sure' that the religion is the truth would be a contradiction, because, logically, there would be no need for belief, and no need for our being tested.
So having read the Qur'an and reflected on it, I believe that it's the 100% word of God, and doesn't have any flaws. This is how I 'know' for sure. Because I have a firm belief in what all of the signs that I've seen, point to.
The Prophets and Messengers were not sent to force anyone to believe anything against their own will. It wasn't their intention to make people believe with 'scientifically indisputable, empirical evidence'. Whoever wants to reject belief is free to do so. Hence, they didn't bring anything that was 'unchallengable' in that respect.
"BTW I generally don't obey speed limits..."
So what would you do if you were traveling at 45 in a 30 zone, and saw a (working) speed camera up ahead of you, and why?
There's a difference between people who actually are God fearing, and ones who just outwardly act as if they are.
You're right, anyone can say that they are righteous and that they act proper because of a fear of God, but that doesn't mean that they do.
As humans, all of us are weak willed. Without exception, every single one of us do things that we don't want to do, and regret once we've done them. Whether it's sticking to a diet or training regime, or anything more serious than that. All of us make mistakes.
But the truly God fearing understand this human nature, and they try to minimise the amount of mistakes that they make, to the best of their ability. Even though they are tempted again and again.
The ones who pretend to be God fearing, just do whatever they like for the praise and adulation of other people. That's not their religious interpretation (most of the time), that's just them being hypocrites. They just do what they want to do, and try to get away with it by using religion as a cover.
But obviously, God Knows who's sincere and who's pretending.
^ So God's Santa!?
"Like I said before, having indisputable proof that I could show you, and 'knowing for sure' that the religion is the truth would be a contradiction, because, logically, there would be no need for belief, and no need for our being tested."
You don't see how the logic there is flawed? The whole "I don't need proof, I have faith" is basically a get out clause You can argue that it is a test, but it is a test that many are doomed to fail for many reasons. Assume that Islam is the one true religion. Anyone brought up with another religion, or in a non islamic country, or in a remote tribe somewhere - they are all immediately at a massive disadvantage.
So that is a flaw in itself. The whole concept of Faith is massively unfair - its self justifying. Like saying that you know those messengers were sent because it is in the Qur'an which you know to be true. You believe it to be true, but you don't know it to be. There's a major difference, and it's the failiure to acknowledge such differences that lead to unwittingly incorrect assumptions.
"So what would you do if you were traveling at 45 in a 30 zone, and saw a (working) speed camera up ahead of you, and why?"
Nothing. However generally I don't do that anyway as I drive safely. Clear stretch of road with no cars on the street and not a built up area? Foot down. :D.
On the other hand people who do 90 down the motorway and then slam the anchors on when they see a speed camera sign or a car on an overhead bridge - now that's dangerous. Doesn't catch me as I don't tailgate but I've seen some close calls.
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