AlphaMike505 said:The 21st century should be an age of reason and critical thought. Where can we find a community of people that live by these principles? The scientific community.
In science we are taught to challenge, investigate and re-challenge the prevalent thought of the day and investigate the world around us without fear of what we may find.
In religion adherents are taught to put aside their instinct to seek out the truth and accept as truth things that fly in the face of common sense. Those who refuse to accept the doctrine are dismissed to an afterlife in hell.
I ultimately hope that religion will go the way of Ogres, werewolves and other things supernatural . Into folklore as nothing more that fairy tales.
Some very interesting and introspective opinions and beleifs expressed in this thread. Strange that some of us have difficulty expressing ourselves about what we do believe.
Myself? Difficult to express. If one believes in the Bible, than you are reading the words of about 40-50 different authors, over 5,000 years, writing a story, that has a surprising chronological order and story to it.
Put 40-50 historians, philosophers or religious "experts" into a room together, give them a common topic, and have them each write a book about it, and see what you get? Probably 40-50 different stories, surprising how the Bible didn't turn out that way.
Divine inspiration? I don't know. To believe modern Christianity, one has to believe in Judaism, as the coincidences in the life and history of Jesus of Nazareth, are contained in the Old Testiment, while his history is contained in the New Testiment.
However, the version of Christianity that comes down to us, really isn't Jesus gospel (which means Good News), but Saul of Tarsus, Paul or St. Paul, if you are of the Roman Catholic Church.
Paul, according to the Bible is struck blind on the Damascus Road by a blinding light, and hears a voice asking why he is persecuting my people. The obvious reference is to the new sect of Jews who follow the Nazarine Jesus's message. He is ordered to go forth and preach Jesus' gospel to the gentiles, but first goes to Jerusalem, where he meets with Simon-Peter and James, Jesus's eldest brother, the "beloved" apostle, who are the "keepers of the new church" founded by Jesus. He receives their permission to preach that gospel to the gentiles, accompanied by Simon-Peter, who walked and talked with Jesus.
Paul's "conversion" is seven years after the death of Jesus of Nazareth. So his idea of the man is divine - and that is the gospel he preaches throughout the known world at the time. Since he never knew Jesus, and only has the recollections of the man from people who did know him, and believe in him, plus his own dramatic conversion, Paul teaches a divine version of the man as the Son of God, not exactly the gospel of Jesus himself, although close. So our understanding of Christianity is somewhat adjusted by man - Peter and Paul. Mark's gospel is of Jesus' life, as told by Simon-Peter, who knew Jesus. Some Bible historians believe Mark was a son of Peter.
It also is interesting to note that the Bible was put together by men, at the Council of Nicea, where the Roman Catholic Pontiff decided what would go in, and what was to stay out. The Catholic Bible today is the result of that council - divine inspiration, or just interpretation by a man, who the Catholic's believe is Christ's representative on earth?
Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation later, in challenging the Catholic version of the church's activities, essentially throws the baby out with the bathwater, and eliminates the pontiff; the saints; Marian worship and devotion; the mystery of communion; and confession through an intermediary, and allows you to speak directly to God, in the form of Jesus, and seek salvation and forgiveness by personal confession.
What I am saying then, is that organized religion has a number of "faults" as you follow it back to its source, that can't be explained by either Judaism, Catholic or Protestant Christianity, of which the Western world is founded on, Judeo-Christian principles.
Religion is belief. You can be born into a Jewish or Christian family, raised in their religion, attend all the rights and ceremonies associated with it, take all the sacraments, but if you don't believe, you are not a "member" of that religion.
Which leaves us with what do I believe. What I don't believe is that Jesus of Nazareth was a God, more of a Jewish teacher, although how he came up with his gospel, which is strange for its time, one has to take on Christian belief. His actions and ideas during his public ministry are very strange for a Jew in the first century AD.
If he is the son of God, than an all powerful, all knowing, and extremely angry God, is somewhere in the vast universe, keeping track of all of our sins and actions on a scorecard. At some point - and it has been a long time in human years, he will come back to earth, judge the faithful, reward them, and cast the sinful and unfaithful into eternal damnation, and hell. Those who are rewarded, will have their soul reunited with their human bodies.
At death, it is hard to reconcile the idea that we will see our "maker" who will judge us then, and either reward or punish us. Isn't it more likely that at death, we will remain asleep as "souls" only to come forth when the trumpets of the angels blow to meet our maker and be judged at the end of times? Sort of a paradox.
I believe in order in the universe, its balance, in nature, laws (gravity, the orbits of our planets, the life of our sun), the balance of our own internal, frail bodies, love, the free will to do as one wants, whether good or evil, believe as one wants, the presence of some type of higher power that keeps it all in balance, and working the way it should.
How it all came about? That is a matter for individual philosophers and everyday people to decide and believe. A belief in an afterlife, the continuation of a "soul" is not something that organized religion came up with. In fact, mos modern organized religions are pretty much the same.
When the first chimps and lemur's stood upright and began to walk around, and discover and invent things, essentially evolving with intelligence beyond that of their animal ancestors, they noticed that members of the tribe went to sleep and never woke up. When buried, everytime science finds a human remains with pots, pans, cups, weapons, money, even servants buried in, or near those remains, it reflects that community had a belief in an afterlife, and that is a long, long, long time before any human-type community began to write and interpret mankind, and the why's of the Earth, which is essentially what organized religion is...........Stan