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Alchemist
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Why Christianity

Over the summer I had started questioning why I was a Catholic and why it seemed to make so much sense. I've come to realise that it really is because I was born in a Catholic family and have always been going to church and CCD (sunday school).

I mean, I believed in it back then but didn't really understand it fully. In college I started learning more and more about it. But now I'm thinking that if I had been born in an areligious family then I wouldn't even be dealing with these issues that I'm struggling with now. I'd have a less biased perspective on it and would feel less pressure to get meaning in my life through a religion.

What do you think?


Edit: The following are links to parallel discussions I've started up in other websites.

Catholic Answers:
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=114447

Atheist Apologetics and Research Ministries:
http://aarm.mywowbb.com/forum3/6413.html

Last edited by Alchemist on 10-17-2006 at 04:43 PM

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Old Post 10-16-2006 05:39 PM
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kryogenix
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I had the same experience earlier this year. I called myself Catholic, but I wasn't living in the fullness of Catholic teaching. I realized that I wasn't a Catholic because I wanted to be one. I was a Catholic because it made my mom happy. There were times when I wished I didn't believe in God, because I didn't want to have to pray or follow rules. Nevertheless, I still tried to be and to appear as a good Catholic, though I doubted a lot.

Anyway, I was getting into a bunch of internet debates and a recurring theme was "If God loves us, then why does he _____?" I kinda got tired of it, because I was trying to defend something I didn't fully believe in myself. So I was reading wikipedia like I usually do, when something caught my eye. Pope Benedict just released his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. Being curious, I wanted to find out what it meant. I guess reading that "God Is Love" struck a nerve in me, because I didn't even have to read any further and my faith was restored. To this day, I haven't read the encyclical other than the title and maybe a summary.

That's not the end of the story though. It only sparked my interest in Catholicism again. I was still left wondering a bunch of things. As luck would have it (or possibly divine intervention?) I ended up talking to this really great Catholic guys, and he ended up referring me to Catholic Answers Forums. All my questions were answered and then some. I highly recommend checking those forums out, there are a lot of great people on there.

Hopefully you find what you're looking for man.

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Old Post 10-16-2006 07:03 PM
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Alchemist
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Yeah thanks man I'm gonna check out that site.

But hearing "God is Love" or "Jesus has taken away our sins" just isn't enough for me anymore. I remember in KCF when they were running a mini workshop on how to evangelize to non-believers. It involved telling them that sin separates us from God, and that the outcome of this would be Hell, and that Jesus is the bridge that reconnects us with God.

I mean, even then I was thinking "if I were a non-believer and a friend of mine was telling me this stuff, I'd be like 'yeah uh-huh' because it wouldn't seem real."

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Old Post 10-17-2006 12:29 AM
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kryogenix
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Yeah, I don't like looking at religion with emotion. I was a bit surprised at how I reacted, but I'm glad at the outcome. That's why I like Pope Benedict so much, he's very good at using reason.

I forgot to mention, something that helped me out too was reading St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologicae. Look it up on NewAdvent.

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Old Post 10-17-2006 05:42 AM
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Alchemist
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I've checked out the site. I've actually started parallel threads on the message board there and the atheist apologetics message board.

The problem is, the catholic site is saturated with Christians and the Atheist site (i assume) is saturated with Atheists.

The reason I'm choosing to have Atheists be the one to debate with Christians rather than other people is because they would be more primed to attack Christianity. Then again Muslims and Jews might be motiviated as well.


Catholic Answers:
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=114447

Atheist Apologetics and Research Ministries:
http://aarm.mywowbb.com/forum3/6413.html

Last edited by Alchemist on 10-17-2006 at 04:54 PM

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Old Post 10-17-2006 04:43 PM
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PsychoSnowman
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YO, i forgot about that message you left me a long while back. Sure, we can speak about religion if you would like to sometime. I have just been stupidly busy this semester and forgot you left that message, sorry for never getting back to you.

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Old Post 10-20-2006 08:18 AM
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Alchemist
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My conclusion:
An all powerful and all loving God would not resort to extortion via heavy anxiety. People always say that we have the free choice etc. But when I lost my faith the reasons for pulling me back were really wracked with anxiety. I just can't see how an all loving God would do this especially when the Bible tells us to "be free from anxiety"

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Old Post 10-30-2006 02:15 PM
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PsychoSnowman
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extortion via anxiety is exactly why people pray. People do not pray because it makes them feel better about themselves first and foremost, or to tell god how great he is, how gracious, benevolent, all powerful, or to exemplify through a daily regimen that they believe in god's existence, they pray because they do not want god to backhand them into infinite perdition forevermore. People are selfish and self-serving, if the acts involved in any organized religion, that could affably be brushed off as good deeds, did not serve a selfish goal no one would be faithful and such practices would never perpetuate. People are cowards, and having a father overlooking your every move certainly is comforting. Not going to an eternal wasteland is an even bigger motivator.

You are correct, an all loving god would not resort to extortion through a vehicle of heavy anxiety. Damnation after death could probably be perceived as a sign of love in the sense that god loves you enough to punish you and teach you a lesson to show you the proper way, but if reparation is never possible (is it?), and a chance to gain an exit from deathrow back into paradise is not possible, then the damnation is not a lesson learning tactic, not any sort of rehabilitation, it is just punishment and that is not all loving at all. A cool way to get out of this is to shift the platitudes on which we are talking about and dub this divine judgment, then proceed to circumscribe the two platitudes as mutually exclusive through irrational thought proceses. But, i find this tactic airheaded. It is entirely imbecillic, and hence not 'all knowing,' of a god to judge someone who does not know if they are being judged and then proceed with action affecting their entire afterlife. One might say this would weed out who really deserves to go to heaven, etc., as the judgment is being done without the judgee putting on a show for the courtroom, but humans are insecure, paranoid, selfish, and stupid. God knows that since he is all knowing, and dividing us in the afterlife into divisions of who lived a better life, who had faith, who smoked cigarettes, or whatever seems a little unfair and sounds a little bit like he is building a super army in resident evil delta, collecting all the super-humans in one place and rejecting the rest into hell. Oh yeah, that is not an all loving tactic again.

You know what i would call that clause in the bible you highlighted? a disclaimer. As long as the instructions manual tells you what not to do, it is free of all logical implications that follow from the text. Your logic is sound, people latch onto faith, for a large part, because of the anxiety that would encumber them without it. Even though this feeling is emotional, and i am takling about rationality, rationally one can dissect emotions being bred from the implications of such a text/following so i do not see a problem with what i am saying.

Sure, i have met some people who seem to be free from anxiety, watched some mormons on tv, etc. etc. but that is not an isolated freedom from anxiety. That is just an extreme comfort attained through faith, and i think is definately illusory. Take religion away from them and they are not going to feel at ease, because as you said - they know that an all loving god apparently holds double standards. That without faith, they will not get what they want from faith, divine peace for themselves, not for anyone else.

Religion is arbitrary, and ultimately only approximated. Since we cannot be all knowing, we cannot possibly know what it is to live according to standards translated from god-to-human. What a debacle. => you have to be pretty lucky to win the religion lottery if you do not want to go some kind of hell when you die.


That anxiety though, i wonder if it would wear off the same way that someone gets over their fears with suffiencient time passing. Of course it is a person by person situation.

But back to the question, why would an all loving god resort to these tactics? An all loving god would not, but i see no reason why god cannot be an asshole. It is not as if any holy scripture is validated or anything. Thusly i say that since this is apparently what god does (if you allow me to pick and choose what to accept and reject), the christian god is an asshole, and that is too bad for the world. I bet he lets all the hot girls into heaven.

__________________
Long messages do not equal aggravation of any sort,
rather they reflect nothing more than a response of insight
that should always be read in a matter-of-fact tone.

"Those womyn that seek equality with men, lack determination."

"I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be wrong."
-Cromwell

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Old Post 10-31-2006 12:47 PM
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kryogenix
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When I was younger, I used to pray and avoid sin because of fear of going to Hell. It wasn't until recently, when I almost lost my faith, that I took a good hard look at Christianity and theological documents and whatnot. Learning more about the Church has taught me to reject sin not because of fear of Hell, but because of respect for God. To me, everlasting life is a bigger motivator than avoiding eternal damnation.

In this sense, I don't think God is subjecting us through extortion. I think we find the root of this "extortion" in the evils of sin and temptation. God is not the source of the anxiety.

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Old Post 11-01-2006 09:02 PM
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Alchemist
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Thanks for your comments. Psychosnowman your argument is good, but Catholics' definition of Hell is actually that it's us choosing to be separated from God rather than us being sent there by God. And that if we commit a mortal sin then that is us intentionally killing the soul


1854 Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture,129 became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.

1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.

Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

1856 Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us - that is, charity - necessitates a new initiative of God's mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:

When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery. . . . But when the sinner's will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.130

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.


1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.


This is an excerpt from the catechism on Hell:
IV. HELL

1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."

1034 Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"616

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."618

Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."619

1037 God predestines no one to go to hell;620 for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance":621

Father, accept this offering
from your whole family.
Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation,
and count us among those you have chosen.622

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Old Post 11-01-2006 09:47 PM
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Alchemist
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quote:
Originally posted by PsychoSnowman


Religion is arbitrary, and ultimately only approximated. Since we cannot be all knowing, we cannot possibly know what it is to live according to standards translated from god-to-human. What a debacle. => you have to be pretty lucky to win the religion lottery if you do not want to go some kind of hell when you die.




Christians believe that the bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is true because of that. So according to Catholicism, it is the correct religion, but people who don't follow it won't necessarily go to hell, while people who intentionally go against God after not being ignorant or whatever are in danger of hell.

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Old Post 11-01-2006 10:42 PM
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Alchemist
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http://www.tektonics.org/lp/nowayjose.html

This link basically says Christianity has to be true because historically there was no way that a religion constructed the way Christianity was had any chance to survive unless it was actually true.

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Old Post 11-01-2006 11:44 PM
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kryogenix
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quote:
Originally posted by Alchemist
Christians believe that the bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is true because of that. So according to Catholicism, it is the correct religion, but people who don't follow it won't necessarily go to hell, while people who intentionally go against God after not being ignorant or whatever are in danger of hell.


I'll add something here.

I think the concept that most people have of "Christian Hell" is all wrong. Jesus came to save us, not to condemn us. Only we can condemn ourselves. Why is there such a focus on the negative? What if instead of "if you don't do this you go to hell," it was "if you do this you will have everlasting life?" Isn't the latter what Jesus Christ taught?

I think it's most clear when we examine what the state of the afterlife was BEFORE Christ came to this world. What happened to all of the souls BEFORE Christ came here? What did Christ's death and resurrection do for us?

It's our choice. I think of it as an invitation to "party" of Heaven. Living by His law is the RSVP. Sinning is sending "I regret I can't attend." We constantly get messages saying "are you sure?" and it's up to us if we want to go our not. The other option is the way it was before Christ came/gave his invitation.

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Old Post 11-07-2006 08:17 PM
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Alchemist
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quote:
Originally posted by kryogenix
I'll add something here.

I think the concept that most people have of "Christian Hell" is all wrong. Jesus came to save us, not to condemn us. Only we can condemn ourselves. Why is there such a focus on the negative? What if instead of "if you don't do this you go to hell," it was "if you do this you will have everlasting life?" Isn't the latter what Jesus Christ taught?

I think it's most clear when we examine what the state of the afterlife was BEFORE Christ came to this world. What happened to all of the souls BEFORE Christ came here? What did Christ's death and resurrection do for us?

It's our choice. I think of it as an invitation to "party" of Heaven. Living by His law is the RSVP. Sinning is sending "I regret I can't attend." We constantly get messages saying "are you sure?" and it's up to us if we want to go our not. The other option is the way it was before Christ came/gave his invitation.



Another way of looking at it would be to ask "what is the state of souls before God created them?"
None of us choose to exist in the first place. Every time I think of Catholicism it makes me wish I didin't exist, because then I wouldn't have to choose between salvation at the price of suffering to maintain my relationship with Jesus, or eternal damnation. Sure it's my choice, but it seems like we're put in this dilemma against our will, and it just causes me so much anxiety that I just don't want to have to deal with this.

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Old Post 11-17-2006 05:17 AM
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