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Re: Depression, Evolution...

Posted by CC on November 13, 1999, at 0:50:55

In reply to Re: Depression, Evolution..., posted by Bob on November 12, 1999, at 20:22:09

> > (I certainly laughed at both Bob's and Phil's posts. Thanks, guys.)
> ( ;^)
> > From a "serious" POV, this is an interesting topic, too.
> I agree -- Adam does raise some interesting points (now that I'm ready to be a bit more serious now that the celebrations at 11:11 on 11/11 are over)
> First, an atheist by definition does not believe in a supreme being. None of the self-respecting atheists that I know would believe in such a being even if that being was indifferent to us. On the other hand, a number of them tend towards some more Gaiaist or group consciousness sorts of spirituality ... so I'd agree that atheism does not rule out spirituality, but rather the notion of some sort of paternalistic to autocratic locus of such power.
> > I have some number of years to be alive and conscious, and for me that is enough. To tell the truth, eternal bliss sounds like it could be a bit dull. (How does the saying go - "heaven for the climate, hell for the company?")
> I'm no bible scholar or traditional hermeneut, but I do recall reading something a dozen years ago or so that traced the development of the concept of heaven and hell in late judaic/early christian thought. Then there's all them sociological studies about the demonization of pagan gods by conquering monotheists. Some true bible scholar out there may be able to correct me, but as I understand it from some early-morning midwest cable baptist evangelist, the concept of heaven and hell as it is commonly perceived really isn't in the bible anyway ... it's more like we're just dead until the Second Coming, and THEN we find out who stays in bliss and who gets confined to absolute obliteration.
> As for eternal bliss, a nice contrast is Coleridge's opium-inspired Kublai Khan against Rush's Xanadu.
> But if humans are, by the essence of their nature, problem solvers, eternal bliss would be the perfect problem. The ultimate conundrum. Either that, or whatever it is that makes bliss eternal would have to strip us of our humanity.
> CC: as is often said around here, your mileage may vary ... but if your faith has quelled your personal demons and its a faith based on the better teachings of christianity, such as banishing the sin of pride from your life, then I hope we all can get a dose of that cure, whatever name we give it.
> All the same, what's so bad about a god that makes mistakes? Seems to me that if god gave us free will but tossed adam and eve for disobeying HIS will, then he either goofed or he intended that to happen from the start. He created temptation, he was the cause of the original sin. If "free will" means being able to face temptation and abstain, then god himself doesn't have any free will -- he was tempted with the thought of testing his creation and he failed by doing so. Free will is a sham from the start, if you're betting on some omnipotent, omniscient god.
> I'm biased, since I've spent so much time being trained as a teacher and a scientist. I don't pray to god; I listen for god's voice from inside. I've said elsewhere that the god I have blind faith in is essentially one of love and creativity, and you can add learning to that as well. Those, I believe, are humanity's greatest virtues, and as such reflect what exists of god in us. So what's so bad about a god who makes mistakes? To err may be just as divine as to learn from those errors and/or to forgive those who have erred.
> Which, to wind up this windy response, leads me back to CarolAnn. My idea of hell? Perfect understanding of all the good and ill you have caused in your life, extending to all the lives your acts have touched. God doesn't damn us--we damn ourselves. I just don't believe that my god could allow us to feel what hell may exist in that knowledge ... maybe long enough to learn our last lessons, but not so long to tax god's love and forgiveness for everyone.
> My two cents,
> Bob

Well if God created beings that had no free will, they wouldn't be much more than robots, and would have no capacity to love, unless they were made that way, which would be pretty much pointless. Only with free will would the created being be able to choose to love God or otherwise. The common viewpoint of God, based on Christianity, is that "he" is perfect. Given that, I can see how some things like Genesis and the fall of man could raise some questions. But if it is necessary for there to be free will for genuine love to come from your creation, that seems to answer at least part of the question. An easier answer to the question would be, "Because it was necessary.". Of course, all along we are assuming that logic and human reason are infallible, which is probably not the case.
I think that Heaven and Hell are mentioned more than once in the New Testament, and there was "Sheol" in the Old Testament, which is similiar to the concept of the Greek underworld. Although opinions may differ from denomination to denomination, I think that you don't get to Heaven based on your own merits, "Salvation" is a gift that you can either except or reject. The idea that death and nonexistance have any appeal seems idiotic to me now, but I suppose at one time or another it might have seemed to be a viable escape from my problems, those associated with my depressed state. Another thing worth mentioning is that I think to some extent Cults or otherwise oddball religious groups sometimes prey on people who are vulnerable because of their depression or other mental illness.
I suppose alot of people have problems with mainstream Christianity, saying we are all a bunch of hypocrites. Well I have come to the conclusion that we are for the most part all hypocrites and by nature imperfect, and wonder why anyone would expect use to be perfect. As far as eternal bliss getting to be monotonous, there could be worse things, like being stuck in an eternal traffic jam. I'll take my chances with eternal bliss. As far as "man" being by nature a problem solver, isn't this a biological or evolutionary viewpoint? Isn't the stress of work and toil at least part of what causes us to die younger than we would without all these wonderful problems to solve? Do you have faith in man's ability to figure his way out of the myriads of problems that now face us without the help
of a compassionate God? If you do I have some fine real estate in the everglades that would be just right for you.




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