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Influences on your beliefs?

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Steve, Dec 19, 2002.

  1. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    What books, movies, plays, poems, places, or people have had the greatest influences on on shaping and guiding your beliefs? For the agnostics and athiests, please feel free to contribute those things which have firmed your own convictions.

    For me, the natural world and the barely glimpsed universe have been the major influence. I'm a firm believer in the theory of evolution and various theories concerning star and planet formation. Yet, looking around me, it's too amazing that it would all be just a huge series of accidental coincidences.
  2. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    I'd like to add that the book series "Conversations with God" is an interesting take on the concept of God and our relation to God. Definitely thought-provoking.
  3. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    I've read the main three Holy books. I've read them as religious text and historical. Needless to say, I liked them much more as historical.

    I can't point to one book, movie, I was fortunate (and hexed) to live through a life that has given me views that most people would never see (or want to see).

    Even though I have seen things that would make anyone go insane, I still believe in the higher force. It's not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, however.
  4. bruzzes

    bruzzes Truthslayer

    Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

    The Prophet by Kahil Gibon.

    The Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East by Baird T Spaulding

    The Religions of Man by Huston Smith

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Prisig

    and this poem by Lao Tzu...

    What is of all things most yielding

    can overcome

    that which is most hard,

    Being substanceless,
    it can enter in even where there is no crevice.

    That is how I know the value
    of action which is actionless.

    That there can be teaching without words,
    Value in action which is actionless
    Few indeed can understand.

    That the yielding conquers the resistant
    and the soft conquers the hard
    Is a fact known by all men,
    yet utilized by none.
  5. Violet1966

    Violet1966 Stand and Deliver Staff Member

    This is gonna sound a little wacky but Jim Morrison had a big influence on me and the way I think and who I am spiritually. Now I know...he was out there but there was a time when to me...he knew it all. It was my formative years and I read anything I could, that connected me to Jim Morrison. It led me to read some really interesting books. I learned about other religions also and explored some things I might have not, had I not found Jim Morrison so fascinating. LOL

    My English Literature teacher in high school. She helped me to understand some writings that I wouldn't have, had I not took to her teaching style. She explained things to me and I could actually understand these books that I had longed to understand, but they just looked like some weird words that meant nothing. She helped me bring it all together in my head.

    My parents of course who showed me what love was. They also introduced me to some basic religion, even though it was very little, I took to it on my own. They forced no denominational beliefs on me and always supported me even when I went through a Muslim phase in my teens. I was never forced into religion so I thank them for not beating me to death with the Bible stuff and turning me off to it all.

    I believe there must be other life out there in the stars, only because it seems logical. I also believe in a higher power that I call God. I can't define him in any physical way. He's love and faith and peace to me and he is out there beyond the stars. He might be an alien, he might be a man...he might be some form we aren't aware of yet? I believe that with the universe being so mysterious and God being the same...they've got to be connected and when we find the answer to one...the other will be apparent.

    I can't think of any specific books that have shaped me in any way...movies either. I own a hard cover copy of The Prophet and read it in my teens. It had an impact on me then so I guess it's a part of me too. The Bible and the Koran have been influential also but I feel the real things that have made me who I am, are what I've done and seen so far in life. The people I've known and the places I've been.

    Edit: I don't know how I left this out. Thinking too much I guess. LOL But I also have been influenced by Native American and Pagan beliefs in a way. Also have looked into some Satanism beliefs and took what I thought logical from that. So many things have made me who I am. So hard to jot it all down. But I'd have to say people have influenced me more then any books or movies have. People and their beliefs.
  6. Aria

    Aria All shall love me&despair

    The Tao of Pooh :)
  7. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    Think about what you are stating. The universe is so incredibly, mind-numbingly complex, therefore God - INFINITELY COMPLEX - must have created it? You are not nearly the first person to reason his existence that way, but it baffles me. Man has been confused by rain, the Sun and moon, lightning and earthquakes, so who's to say we won't EVENTUALLY understand how our universe came to be?

    And if he is so great and wonderful, why did he create a world where people rape children and murder one another? Why are there thousands of religions, and everyone thinks his or hers is the right one? I insist that the superstitious nature of humans and the desire to understand things has led, through social instinct, the idea of a god(s). It appears that infinite complexity is more easily accepted by most people than merely extreme complexity is. Once you accept the infinite in God, it makes the hard to understand stuff like the universe easy to explain. "He made it." What a brilliant explanation! :rolleyes:

    I also feel that another reason most people claim to believe in God is because humans have an innate sense of justice. It is easy to see even in very young children that humans want good things to happen to good people and bad things to happen to bad people. After all, that would be fair, wouldn't it? Once a child matures and begins to realize that life isn't fair, it is really a let down. Hey, at least there's still Santa! Well, not for long. Eventually, everyone grows out of that idea. Again, good boys and girls get lots of presents, and naughty boys and girls get none. That would certainly be fair. Oh well, at least we still have Heaven and Hell. The good people(like me) will go to Heaven, and the mean people will go to Hell. Ahhhh...finally, divine justice.

    I would LOVE to believe that if I lived an honest, good life, I would go to Heaven forever, but I just find that very hard to swallow. My analytical brain tells me that this stuff is up there with ghosts, goblins and Bigfoot. Obviously not all religions can be true. Therefore, THOUSANDS of religions have been fabricated by humans over the past several thousand years. If man created so many gods, why is it so hard for some to contemplate the idea that perhaps the god that they worship was fabricated as well? The idea of good and evil is just so much more interesting than atoms and molecules floating around inside a giant vacuum. I know it's depressing, but I feel that every one of us is just a minuscule bag of chemicals.

    If the Earth were to be vaporized tomorrow, I doubt the Rygilians from Theta 5 would even notice. :haha:
  8. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    I suppose this will expose me as a featherweight when it comes to philosophy and the meaning of life. I think one of the biggest influences in my life was Robert Heinlein. His philosophies of life in his Lazarus Long books resonated with my own thinking but put so succinctly and so well that it reinforced what was forming in my mind. The element of his thinking that just meshed was the logic behind it. I tried my best as a teenager to find the piece and understanding offered by religion. But I had this logical part of my mind that found it hard to keep from laughing. I consider myself anti religious in the sense that nothing out there I have been exposed to can possibly be the way. Is there a higher power? The same logic that tells me no being so omnipotent to create this universe could be so petty as to give a shit about our worship of it tells me that something created the first spark, the big bang or whatever. Waiting to see and hopefully still learning.

  9. jamming

    jamming Banned

    So you might be a Deist, Shiny if you believe that something set off the big bang and then lets the universal clock run till it winds down. Several of the founding father's were deists or followers of Deism.

    I love Lazarus Long, "Rub her feet", "If you find yourself in an argument.....", the rest of it. So we do have somethings in common beyond writing here and living in Florida.

    I just recommended a book to another friend that you might also be interested in, The Essential Gandhi it is a very good book and a good perspective to have seen from.
  10. bruzzes

    bruzzes Truthslayer

    Re: Re: Influences on your beliefs?

    I have heard your argument many times as well...
    All the onus of negative events are put in God's responsibility to man, conveniently forgetting the positive events that occur also.

    It is man who rapes and murders. It is also man who loves and nurtures. Yes life can be looked at in a limited way. Perhaps it is because we are still full of our own subjective reasoning.
    For someone who believes in the scientific method, one must be careful that the results of the experiment are not coloured by subjective analysis.

    Perhaps the thousand religions are created by the limited growth of what we can perceive as making sense out of the complex nature of the infinite.

    Seen in this context, all those thousands of religions are true in some sense or another. We place ourselves in the same classroom as others who have the same vision. Often that classroom becomes limited as we learn the lessons contained within that atmosphere. At that point, it is time to move on and expand from those lessons learned. How many of us have left those comfortable confines of our parents religion? Has the precepts of that religion been cast aside? More often than not, we take from that religion what makes sense to us and search for the answers in other classrooms. Each classroom adds a dimension to our understanding.

    Yes, we are a mixture of atoms and molecules forming a chemical concoction of organic material. But from the combination thereof, comes a cell. And that cell becomes many cells each learning to have a purpose to the whole. Soon one has a human being with a complex brain. And what is the brain but a mass of cells and atoms and molecules. But what does this mass produce? A mind!
    Something that does not contain those cells yet is dependent upon them. A mind. Something that has no substance yet is powerful enough to feel.

    The scientific world is still looking for the soul and mind of man yet will never find it in the physical body. For these elements are not concrete. If we limit ourselves only to that which can be seen, then the values of all virtues will never be perceived.

    Do you love; RRedline? Can you explain that in physical terms? One can certainly show the manifestation of that virtue but can you touch it? Is it concrete? Are there many types and forms of love?

    So it is with God. The infinite broken down to small parts that we can perceive. Each part is true in a limited way.

    Please excuse my pitiful attempt to show a different perspective.
    No one has the patent on truth. But together with all our small truths perhaps we can discover the larger truth.
  11. jamming

    jamming Banned

    Actually this one is relatively easy theologically, God knew of man's limitations but created us anyway as a being with free will from our point of view. What is God's point of view is the infinite and we cannot hope to understand what his purpose is beyond what we are taught and we figure out on our own. We were given the freedom to rebel, so that we know what life without God is like and so we can seeking to reunite with what is holy, this is the journey we are on. To borrow from my earlier analogy as understanding our spiritual selves and understanding what is like God that is the Journey.

    What is God's purpose, well Job asked those questions and was tortured if you will by the Devil. When Job is told why all this happened to him, he started to curse God, God stopped him and asked him where was Job when he was created the Universe. Job saw that he couldn't understand and saw his place in the creation and realized he was in error for giving God motivations that he could understand. Then God restored to him what was his and gave him more for accepting there must be a reason.

    In the Bible it says that God is the beginning and end, "Alpha and Omega". That all things are of him, what his purpose is as infinite as he is, which is belief. Now I understand that I am using masculine pronouns, but God is beyond that also, God is just so large that he can take the things that we do and make them come together wonderfully when we follow the Word of God, (which is theologically different than the Bible for most Christians). God or the Deity is just so large there is nothing larger, why would he not be able to know everything down to the spin of the 23rd atom in the 1432nd molecule of your right arm.

    The problem is many people think of god as a Big Judge ready to condemn the guilty. But we are all guilty of sin, God can know everything about you even more that you know about yourself, he can look into your heart and judge you the most fairly then all judges. Not only is he the most fair judge that could ever exist he loves us, similar to as a child is loved by a parent or a husband by a wife and "vise versa". This parent is going to judge us and do what is fair and best for us. Even though we are guilty of sin, theologically there is a way out, which is to believe that Christ died on the cross for the Sins of each one of us on a personal level. Which is why the sacrament of wine and bread, he made the sacrifice to cleanse away all our sin, so that not only might we be born anew, we can begin to act like it.

    Now here comes the hardpart for some to understand is being given a new spiritual life, is not a license to go sin, but the Deity knows we will sin again and again. Our charge to go and sin no more, but if we do sin again we can get right with God through renewing ourselves and moving on to that state of perfection without sin. Remember God doesn't rate sins as large or small, it is either in sin or not, murder is considered a great sin because of the value that is place on physical life, but the renewed person has spiritual everlasting life. So the Physical is not that important as we might consider it, but don't get me wrong Physical life is important.

    I personally have endured physical torture at the hands of men, God didn't make them do it to me, but he allowed it to happen. Why? How should I know, all I do know that it was my belief that I would be delivered from harm or die with my dignity that did allow me to endure. I was not overly religious before that happened to me and I did not become so immediately during or after it. It was a Journey, a promised made off-handedly to my mother got me there was another point. God is positive and good, he wants us to do the right things because we would have better lives if we did (not richer or easier).

    Sin is what keeps man from living that life God wants for us and sin is what causes the world's evils as it consequence. The ultimate bad Karma, bad things happen because we rebelled and chose to act in sin as beings of free will. Somehow that is important to God that we are beings of free will, why? we will never understand for sure. That is why we must operate on belief at one level or another. You chose not to believe in a God out of a belief that if there was one that you would have to understand it. I operate out of a belief there is a God because I cannot understand the grand purpose, but I trust and believe that there is one. You trust and believe there is not, but understand my god will judge you out of his love for you as one of his children with greater knowledge and understanding than you judge him now. If there is a true infinity in the Universe how can there not be a God of us all on some level.
  12. IamZed

    IamZed ...

    The selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

    To me he describes the meaning of life in a way not as noble as we would dream. At least we get to dream. He asserts quite well that we are mere cruise ships for colonies of DNA molecules. We do not actually do what we might want, we do what they want.
    They are blind to the world as we know it. They are compelled to reproduce as that is a winning trait.
    The first cell split in the egg of a woman is that act.
    I stole the book from my sister when she was going to OU.
    It is a good read. He makes quite good sense and differs from old Darwinian concepts refreshingly.
  13. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    RRedline, you are entitled to your opinions and this forum is certainly appropriate to the perspective you bring.

    I would like to point out, however, that the topic of this thread is "Influences on your beliefs", not "Why I don't believe".

    Please feel free to start your own thread on the non-existence of a higher Power or Powers, if you'd like. I'm sure you'll get plenty of discussion going.
  14. Sunriser13

    Sunriser13 Knee Deep in Paradise

    Stevent, I'm not trying to get anything started here, but you did
    invite opinions exactly like his with this statement, IMHO... :)
  15. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    It was the tone, not the content.
  16. bruzzes

    bruzzes Truthslayer

    So we are judging tone now?

    I can not see nor hear any tone reflected by RRedlines post.

    You asked for influences from agnostics and atheists.

    One has been given and others have responded. I see nothing out of context here.
  17. Allene

    Allene Registered User

    For me, it was a near-death experience. Everything else pales next to it.

  18. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    I get the same "tone" from people who spout off Bible verses. I respect your opinions, but I felt that my interpretation of complexity and infinity differ from yours, so I tried to explain it. I feel that I certainly did answer the question you asked. It seems to me that you just didn't like the answer.

    For those of you who believe in God, I'm sorry if you take offense to my statements. Keep in mind that you will never, ever hear me trying to imply that my opinions are fact or that everyone who doesn't have the same beliefs that I have is somehow inferior or incapable of independent thought. I have come across atheists who actually offended ME with their elitist attitudes towards believers. One of the most intelligent people I have ever met in my life happens to be my supervisor at work. He is so intelligent that he makes me feel stupid. And it just so happens that he is a very devout Christian. I respect him, but I don't share his beliefs.

    If part of your own rationalization for the existence of a god comes from the overwhelmingly complex, that's fine. However, I do not come to the same conclusion that you do based on that observation. That difference in reasoning most certainly has helped to shape my beliefs.

    I will never be able to show convincing proof that there is no god. Until you or somebody else can show me proof of his existence, I'm afraid that I will be sitting on the unpopular side of the fence with this issue. I want to believe. Honestly, I do! If I believed, I would devote my life to God in the assumption that that is what He wanted and I would be rewarded for it in such an infinitely positive way that mere words could not describe. How ANY believer can live the way they do is a mystery to me. I know people who claim to be devout Christians, yet they cuss and are rude to other people. A high school friend of mine is one of those religious types who still gets into bar brawls and has sex outside of marriage all the time. This is blatant hypocrisy as I'm sure most of you would agree.

    So it's not that I don't WANT to believe. I just DON'T.

    One issue in my life that probably contributed to the rate at which I arrived at my current beliefs was my religious upbringing. I say "rate" because I think it was just a catalyst and not a real cause. I was raised to be a good little Catholic boy, and for the most part I was. However, Sunday school teachers, especially nuns, apparently don't like inquisitive little boys. I was once scolded by a nun when I was in third grade in front of my entire class on the balcony of church, and people from downstairs even heard it. After being taught about the seven days that God created the world, I was very confused. I wondered on which day did God create the dinosaurs? Well, apparently my instructor was a complete buffoon, and she scolded me in such a harsh way that I still, to this day, remember her exact words! After explaining to her that I learned in school about dinosaurs, she finished her pathetic rant with, "Well what's more important to you? School or God?!"

    Needless to say, I was confused, ashamed, embarrassed, and angry. This is the first time in my life that I ever questioned authority, adults and religion. I understand that this woman was an extremist to deny the existence of dinosaurs. In my opinion, it would be as silly as denying that the Earth is round. I resent her for what she did to me that day, and I resent my family for sending me to Sunday school(Catechism). This experience was by no means the only influence which shaped me into the shining atheist that I am today. It is just the earliest and most discreet example that I can think of. From this point on, I slowly developed the attitude that I could not always trust people whose jobs were to educate me.

    I encourage everyone to think for themselves and not be led around like a sheep. If your own, independent reasoning leads you to God, then good for you. In a way, I actually envy people who believe in God. I want to go to Heaven just like everyone else. I am just so far beyond skepticism that I don't even bother to hope for it anymore.

    I have a strong sense of justice and fairness, and that is why I value the Golden Rule(yes, I know the wording is from the Bible). Perhaps part of why I feel a strong sense of fairness comes from my unusual, but not physically abusive childhood. I was abandoned by my parents when I was eleven years old and left with an aunt to raise me and my sister. I guess I learned to rely on myself after being neglected by those whose jobs it was to protect me and shape me, so I slowly allowed myself to think about God and religion without fear of going to Hell or upsetting my religious caregivers. My current set of beliefs is just one of many possible outcomes of independent thought, and many of you have obviously drawn different conclusions based on your own experiences. If anyone hasn't figured it out yet, I base my opinions on morals and laws based on how all parties are affected. I am not tied down by a set of laws that were written down thousands of years ago by men. That is why I will fight with my last breath against those who want to impose their religion on me, and that includes the use of government.

    I recently received a letter from my family's church asking for donations. I think it is finally time that I write them a letter to tell them exactly what I feel about their failed attempt to brainwash me and my sister.

    Stevent, I meant no condescending tone in my previous post. Again, I apologize if it came off that way. I am not right, and you are not wrong. We are both just different. I hope I have answered your question a little better this time. :)
  19. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Very professionally done, Rred, thank you.
  20. jfcjrus

    jfcjrus Veteran Member

    You specifically said that we should feel free to contribute.

    Then you objected to the 'tone' of one so defined poster. I rather thought said poster was being quite reasonable in his thoughts, contributing to the debate.

    Why am I interested?
    Many years ago, I was actually excommunicated from the Catholic church for marrying what they deemed a pagan. 35 years later, I still consider this woman the better choice. So, I'm very interested in why folks feel a need to devote themselves to 'structured' religions.

    I am in a constant quest to try to understand just what is was (is) that convinces the 'belivers'.

    Without debate, without both sides presenting their argument, there is no hope for me to learn anything.

    Sometimes, believers seem to resort to the position that it took them a lifetime to to get to the level of understanding that they're at, and if us non-believers haven't, or won't, put in the time, then we can't understand what they're talking about.

    That's ok.
    But, then, there's not much to be learned here. And, perhaps you assume too much. I've been there, I'm interested in why you're still there.

    Believers, confirming each others beliefs. Is that what you want?


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