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Greetings From Scotland And A Question About The Difference Between Hu


jcsbanks
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I became a Christian at 16 after reading the "Journey into life" tract after attending a local Anglican (charismatic/evangelical) church where a friend attended. Although a budding scientist I didn't for some reason question why I believed it, that came later.

 

I went to university to study medicine at 19, and attended a similar but non-denominational church in Edinburgh where I met and married my wife nearly 16 years ago. We are happily married still, I'm working as a family physician in a semi-rural area in Scotland and she has started a laser cutting/engraving business, and we're renovating old farm buildings. We have a beloved rescue cat, no children. Some of our family and friends are Christians. Most that are Christians are conservatives.

 

Within a year of marriage we both lost our faith and would since describe ourselves as atheists. I couldn't square a literalist interpretation of the bible with the world I saw around me, and have come to dislike the intolerance and hate that fundamentalist/conservative Christianity pushes. Perhaps unfortunately I'd not experienced liberal/progressive Christianity and was effectively taught by the charismatics that it was effectively contemptible. We'd now say we are humanists and perhaps I've tended towards a slightly aggressive atheism a la Richard Dawkins but need to let the pendulum settle and develop a more balanced respect for people of more moderate faith and understand them better, and that is why I'm here.

 

One of our Christian friends linked some of Bishop Spong's thoughts on Facebook under a thread "Christianity for people that don't like Christianity". A fundamentalist Christian friend thought that either Spong was illogical or was cherry picking. I actually see a great humanist and it warms my respect for liberal/progressive Christians, but I still do not believe in God.

 

My question:

 

Does belief in God matter when it could be argued that progressive Christians have more in common with atheist humanists than they do with conservative Christians?

 

Best regards,

 

John Banks

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John,

 

Welcome to the forum and I hope you enjoy participating here.

 

I think it's great your conservative friend is sharing Spong's thoughts. I know it's not your friends intention but perhaps more conservatives will start to question their narrow view of Christianity. :)

 

In answer to your question, I don't think 'belief' in God matters in the slightest. It might sound cliche but I think it's not whether one believes in a God or not that matters, but how one lives their life. There can be both believers and non-believers who are kind and considerate people, just as there are Christians who are nasty, judgemental, exclusivists.

 

Cheers

Paul

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John asked...

 

Does belief in God matter?

 

It has been said that "The inspiration to evolve spiritually is already a manifestation of the presence of God within" Dr David Hawkins.

 

I think the problem is in the word God. It conjures up conditioned meanings. Perhaps that is why Buddhists in general avoid the word yet they use more abstract words like Absolute Reality, the Unconditioned, the Unborn, etc. Progressive Christianity in the new 2011 version of the 8 points uses words like the Sacred, Unity and Oneness of all life. Others use words like "ground of being"

 

Does belief in God as fundamental Christianity teaches matter? Perhaps not really but a belief in something greater or more than human existence can make a significant difference in the peace and joy of living ones life here. I believe we are absorbed into and our life transformed by that which we worship. If you belief in Unconditional Love then in essence you believe in God for even the Christian NT attests to God being Love. Believing in that one definition of God alone without even using the word God can make all the difference in the world in the quality of ones inner peace and life which is projected outwards.

 

So yes, if you asked me... I would say believing in God does really matter or make a difference but it is more an experience than any man-made belief or concept of what God Is.

 

Welcome to the community John,

Joseph

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Does belief in God matter ...?

 

What sort of god are we thinking of? Pantheistic, panentheistic, deistic or theistic? I'm sure there are other flavours.

 

For me? In the great scheme of things: not one iota; but then I am an agnostic in the weakest sense of the definition. And for you?

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Welcome John, hi from across the Irish Sea :)

 

I always enjoy reading the stories of those who, like me, have had trouble reconciling their conservative faith and eventually moved away from it.

 

I am curious to know - and sorry if this is too personal - about you and your wife losing your faith at the same time. Was it one of you who lost faith first, then influenced the other, or had you both been harbouring doubts? Again, please ignore me if i'm prying!

 

Jonny

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Not prying at all Jonny. I started to question first and initially it scared my wife, but we went through it together. As we discussed it we shared many of the same concerns, but expected that our questioning would result in a stronger faith. What we did not anticipate was what happened which left us rejecting the idea of faith as a means of making important life decisions where reason suggested differently.

 

Now she is a little surprised about me reading about liberal ideas, but after discussion realises that I'm not planning on adopting them, rather seeking to understand and respect them. It appears that I can find more common ground and mutual respect here than I could with a conservative. My politics are Thatcherite though. Under her policies there was considerable and surprising social mobility through hard work in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s and for me it brought me out of poverty not just economically but with the emotional benefits that not being poor also brings.

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To John Banks If you are a doctor I am sure you have felt or saw something leave a dying person's body. I think that is the person's soul or God in my thoughts. I believe that God lives inside everyone and acts sort of like your inner voice which tells you right from wrong among other things. When Jesus was asked a question he often answered with another question and expected the disciples to think for themselves. Therefore I think God expects us to use our God given brains to ferret things out on our own, including the bible and adapt it to the 21st century. I recently read that doctors in I think it was California, have made several hospital beds that can weigh the occupant down to the last gram. They put dying patients in these beds and weigh them before and after death. In each case they have lost the same number of grams (i can't remember the amount. I am 81 yrs old) but to me that proves there is a soul in each of us and I call that God. I believe in the sun even when it does not shine. I believe in Love even when it is not shown. I believe in God even when He does not speak. I believe I should remain open and listening so that when He does speak I can hear His voice. Welcome with Love Alamar

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Alamar,

 

Just for your info, I think the bed/soul weighing story you are referring to is an urban myth based upon a doctors research in 1907 where he concluded the soul weighed 21 gms. But his study was riddled with errors and holds no credit.

 

http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/236-how-much-does-the-soul-weigh.html

 

I'm not saying that to discredit your beliefs, I just don't like urban myths being credited as fact :). In your case you say it is proof. Unfortunately it is not. Disclaimer - I'm happy to be corrected but I can find no facts to verify your claim.

 

Cheers

Paul

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Thanks for your input Paul. What I read was just a small blurp in a ladies magazine but I went to Snopes this AM and read the whole story. Just another point of "Don't believe all you read"

I still believe I have a soul but am happy to be corrected as to the story re weight. with Love Alamar

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Hi Alamar, I haven't seen anything in medical practice, whether in life or death that would carry weight (pardon the pun) towards evidence for a soul. I think the existence of the soul is not something that can be settled by scientific method. I suppose that leaves us with a situation where we believe that everything has a rational/scientific explanation and therefore reject the notion of things like the soul, or we just say it is in another paradigm to science and science has nothing to say about it. What I did find was that being at the coal face of medical practice eroded my faith and made me less idealistic, but also uncomfortable with the received morals of conservative christianity. It certainly made me very critical of "evidence" for healing/miracles/answered prayer/resurrection/prohesy/signs/wonders because a key part of a physician's education includes appraisal of evidence and scientific method to avoid bias/inappropriate or ineffective diganoses/treatments. Because my previous conservative beliefs had claims that could be tested by scientific method I found them wanting when I applied the same rigour to them as I would to a simple medical intervention that was arguably of much less eternal consequences if you take evangelical teachings literally like I once did.

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Hi JCS Banks. I don't think belief in God matters at the macro level, because "belief" and "God" are such loaded words to begin with. I personally think that it's healthy to have a humility that some "force" could exist, and possibly even have a purpose in all this chaos.

 

Eric

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Thanks for your input Paul. What I read was just a small blurp in a ladies magazine but I went to Snopes this AM and read the whole story. Just another point of "Don't believe all you read"

I still believe I have a soul but am happy to be corrected as to the story re weight. with Love Alamar

 

I don't want to rain on JC's intro thread. But, I don't think you have a soul. But you do have something much better. You have the universe. The universe has made you the person you are today.

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Great question does belief in God matter. I don't think belief in God matters, but I do think my finite brain plays so many games, but the finite is the in----finite. We are in the infinite and the infinite is within us, we are the infinite. I might not be able to see it at this moment but it never ends or will leave me, I believe it will go on guiding us whether we are aware of it or not or believe or not.

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