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Religion and Spirituality, Science and Philosophy Use this forum to discuss what you believe in. This is a place where everyone may share their views freely.

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Stephen Fry on God - March 2nd 2015, 08:49 PM

What do you think about this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-suvkwNYSQo

I know this is going to cause one hell of a debate but I want to know how religious people take this. Honestly, I completely agree with everything he says. Why would a God cause all this misery? If the Christian God is in fact real and is in fact like this then I can not respect him.


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Re: Stephen Fry on God - March 3rd 2015, 05:26 AM

Thank God, the purpose of this thread section is back.
I enjoyed the video, I thought he was pretty insightful. And I agree with some of the things he said, but I still believe and worship God. But I don't believe in the Old Testament God (or half the Old Testament in general). The Old Testament is full of stories of a psychopathic God that is nothing at all like Jesus or the portrayal of the New Testament God. I say He's psychopathic in the Old Testament because thats ultimately what He seems like. He ordered Abraham to kill his son (He retracted the order of course), he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, He flooded the world, He ordered 10 plagues upon Egypt including the deaths of children, he ordered a couple bears to rip about 30 or 40 kids to shreds for insulting Elijah's baldness, He killed a man named Er for no reason, and when his brother took his wife as his own and pulled out (sexually) He got mad and killed him too. And I can't forget my favorite book, the book of Job, where God makes a bet with Satan (like straightup, what the fuck?) that His best human on Earth, Job, would worship Him no matter what Satan did to him. Satan kills his family, destroys his crops, hits his house with a meteor (not 100% sure on that one), gives him leprosy, and destroys his entire life. And suddenly its ok because God replaced his destroyed property/family? Are you kidding? Nothing is worse than sitting next to my mom in church and watching her say, "praise be to God" with a smile on her face after hearing that lunacy. Those stories completely undermine what Jesus teaches us in the NT (which actually occurred in a historical sense, miracles or not, as opposed to the non-historical myths of the OT) about God and life in general. And if God is unchanging, I'm going to believe the newer account of what happened as opposed to the OT, especially the first half of the OT in which writing wasnt even a thing yet. People usually justify the God of the OT by saying He has righteous anger; He was a bully with a magnifying glass. People justify the OT's stories in general and say its true by saying it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Come on, the Garden of Eden story includes a talking snake. The Tower of Babble is apparently the origin of languages. Satan left hell to come to heaven to trick God into making a silly bet? This is why I cant stand fundamentalists; their lack of first-grade logic is INCREDIBLE.
Stephen Fry makes good points though. Bone cancer in children? Why is that allowed to happen? I couldn't tell you. I believe that good always comes out of tragedy though. I couldn't imagine what good comes out of children suffering, but I like to put it into perspective like this (even though it isnt necessarily the same): Ghengis Khan and his army ravaged Asia in the 13th(?) century. They killed millions and Ghengis personally raped thousands of women and young girls. Thats fucking terrible. However, he is the ancestor of almost 1 percent of the world, and I'm prepared to bet that many of them are fantastic people who did fantastic things regardless of his sins. Beauty out of tragedy. I dont know what good can come of innocent children suffering; but I think God always finds a way to bring something beautiful out of tragedy, even if you can't see it immediately.


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Re: Stephen Fry on God - March 3rd 2015, 07:53 AM

I agree. I've said similar things to my sister before. There is so much injustice in this world, and if it was all created by a god/gods, I'm not sure exactly why I would want to get into that country club.


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Re: Stephen Fry on God - March 3rd 2015, 06:43 PM

Honestly, I think his perception of god is entirely correct. However, I also believe that this is exactly the view that early Christians (bear in mind that many early converts were typically of Jewish descent) had of god.

If we keep this in mind, we can see that throughout the Old Testament, god is absolutely a bigot, self-centered, self-righteous, and horrid. He destroyed his entire creation by drowning them. Fast-forward to the New Testament, specifically Revelation, again, this is EXACTLY the god portrayed.

Now, rewind to about 1/3 of the way back to the beginning of the New Testament. Jesus, the "son of god," was sent to Earth to be a sacrifice to this god, so that we wouldn't have to be sacrifices. We see Jesus as a compassionate version of god, and I believe it almost seems that if Jesus is god, that god is bipolar.

However, let's focus on this issue alone. If Jesus is god, and there is also a god the father, and they are somehow paradoxically connected, then the father sent his son to be killed by him. Just like Abraham and Isaac. Does that not portray the god in the video that this man described? Also, let us also focus on the fact that if Jesus is god, then god committed suicide to save his creation because it would be against god's "just" nature and if god's version of "justice" is eternally tormenting people, then he would need an infinite sacrifice to satisfy his justice (Jesus).

I'm not saying the story isn't screwed up, but I think people think, "oh, god loves me no matter what." Actually, no. The bible never even seems to portray that kind of love. In fact, in Romans it said that god loved Esau, but hated Isaac. I think it is organized religion which has twisted the words of the bible into something it's not.

Really. Trace back religion. See what people taught. Look at the Reformers. So on and so fort. For the vast majority of Christianity, god has been a god that hates, but also loves. I also think you have to realize that god doesn't let things go unpunished in religion. He just doesn't deal with it in this life. The bible is very clear on this point which makes me even question whether he has read the bible in the first place or just bases things on hearsay.

I think people like Stephen Fry and Hitchens are so blinded in their hatred of religion that they hardly think about it rationally. Then again, it's hard to think rationally about something that is entirely irrational.

This also explains why you have 3 religions based on the old testament, it explains why there are infinite numbers of translations and interpretations of the bible, and so on and so forth, because it simply doesn't make any sense.
   
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Re: Stephen Fry on God - March 3rd 2015, 08:27 PM

Brutally honest answer? I have a lot of respect for Stephen Fry, but I think this was a bit of a waste of breath. It'd probably take more time and more words than people would care to read for me to explain exactly why, but here are some of the more glaring faux pas which stood out for me:

1) The entire notion of everything bad being God's fault, and that the human race has played no part in it whatsoever. Let's look at the evidence:

- We have, at too many points in history to count, killed, maimed and enslaved various subgroups of our species in the name of economic gain;
- Not once, but twice during the course of the last 100 years, we managed to engulf the majority of the world (by country, if not area) in prolonged conflict costing the lives of millions on both occasions;
- We appeased the rise of Adolf Hitler, despite his quite apparent views on extermination of certain members of the species;
- Chairman Mao and Joseph Stalin killed almost 100 million people between them in the space of just 30 years;
- We have decimated the rainforests, hunted numerous species to extinction (and continue to hunt others at considerable risk), wrapped the planet in nuclear fallout through 2 bombs and countless botched tests, and continue to condemn hundreds of millions to premature (and likely painful) deaths through our collective failure to ensure basic healthcare and sanitary conditions;
- We encase the planet in harmful pollutants and chemicals, either by air or by water, which no doubt contribute to the mutations causing bone cancer in children; and
- We still kill each other out of greed and anger, and we still visit all of our sins on our children (to quote Commander William Adama (later "Admiral Atheist") from the remake of Battlestar Galactica)

All of the above are things we have managed to achieve without the input from a deity (notwithstanding our impressive knack to use God and religion to justify actions which cannot be justified by either). That all comes from us, from our choices - from our free will. We have to carry the can for the vast majority of the misery our species suffers from, both directly and indirectly. Even with acts of natural evil, as it were, such as the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, that was exacerbated by the fact that no one could be bothered to construct a comprehensive early warning system in one of the most earthquake prone regions on the planet, because the cost wasn't justified. When you look into the detail, we have a lot to answer for ourselves as a species.

2) The caricature of God based solely on cherry-picking from the Old Testament. The Old Testament is a combination of religious text, legal framework and historical account of the early days of the tribes of Israel. Sometimes the boundaries between those different aspects get blurred, particularly if - as happens with all major civilisations at some point or another - they do something which is pretty abhorrent. Suddenly, describing it as "God's will" or saying "The Lord handed them to us to do with as we pleased" becomes quite attractive in terms of explaining it away. Until you get to the New Testament. Granted, Jesus says he doesn't seek to overturn any of the Law - but he still stops people from stoning a woman for adultery, reaches out to the enemies of Israel and generally preaches a message of a compassionate and loving God. So either the Almighty was going through a period of metaphysical bipolar disorder, or (more likely) the use of God to justify the less shiny aspects of Israeli history got holed below the waterline.

3) The misuse of scientific "facts" to back up his position. The line about the insect burrowing into children's eyes? It's a myth. I checked. There is no insect which thrives only in the eyes of children. There are insects which burrow into human skin, and sometimes end up in the eye, and there are nematoids and bacteria which do likewise. But there's nothing on the planet which can only exist by turning a child blind. Claiming otherwise is blatantly false, and the mere fact that David Attenborough made the same inaccurate claim in 2009 is no excuse. Given humanism tends to pride itself on being based on reason and evidence, getting that wrong was a bit of a clanger.

Needless to say, I wasn't impressed. Don't get me wrong, I've no problem with people criticisng our concept of God or the way religions work - scrutiny and critique is a healthy and necessary part of life. But a tirade bordering on an ill-informed rant is neither scrutiny nor critique.


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Re: Stephen Fry on God - March 3rd 2015, 09:07 PM

See, what I believe is that God allows free will, which is why humans cause so much trouble and evil in the world. For various cases of human-caused tragedy, people usually say, "why would God allow that to happen?" But if God forced the people who caused it to not do it, it would essentially be a form of mind-controlling slavery (another thing I don't buy from the Bible: God hardened pharoah's heart so that he wouldn't let the Hebrews go, and proceeded to crush Egypt with the 10 plagues. Doesn't make sense). Theres that saying, "If you love somebody, you'll let them go", and I think thats what more or less the kind of a philosophy he goes by. Unfortunately, people die because of that, but they'll receive justification in heaven (I believe).
Horrible illnesses and disasters don't exactly make sense, because no human caused that on their own. To me though, God also lets nature run wild Say an African kid with no food or parents gets cancer, and gets those eye-burrowing termites that Fry talks about, and dies. You might say, "what about their shitty life? Why did God let it happen? Why did it have to suck so bad?" Well, assuming God exists and is all-loving, He wouldn't replace or fix that life, but He'll reward that kid to justify the horrible suffering, assuming he was innocent. It sounds shitty to allow such suffering to happen in the kid's only life, but considering the life of one's soul lasts forever (assuming thats correct), the suffering he had in his only life would just be a minor blip on his soul's entire lifetime.
A lot of people dislike the idea that God would throw people in hell. To me, going to hell is a choice. Say your at the supposed gates to heaven, they would ask, "do you want to go to heaven?", to which you say yes or no. I imagine hell is fairly empty. But say you say yes, but you werent a great person in life, I imagine they would be like, "yeah, you cant go to the place of absolute purity and happiness yet. You'll have to spend time in purgatory. Learn about Jesus, God, get your soul cleansed... blah blah blah. then you can enter heaven." I'm guessing cold-hearted murderers and other legitimately horrible people would go to hell anyway, no matter what their choice (unless they had mental disorders).
Sorry, but I do enjoy talking about my beliefs. I take pride in the fact that, at least to me, they make more sense than having blind faith in the bipolar OT God.


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Re: Stephen Fry on God - March 16th 2015, 04:02 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005 View Post
Brutally honest answer? I have a lot of respect for Stephen Fry, but I think this was a bit of a waste of breath. It'd probably take more time and more words than people would care to read for me to explain exactly why, but here are some of the more glaring faux pas which stood out for me:

1) The entire notion of everything bad being God's fault, and that the human race has played no part in it whatsoever. Let's look at the evidence:

- We have, at too many points in history to count, killed, maimed and enslaved various subgroups of our species in the name of economic gain;
- Not once, but twice during the course of the last 100 years, we managed to engulf the majority of the world (by country, if not area) in prolonged conflict costing the lives of millions on both occasions;
- We appeased the rise of Adolf Hitler, despite his quite apparent views on extermination of certain members of the species;
- Chairman Mao and Joseph Stalin killed almost 100 million people between them in the space of just 30 years;
- We have decimated the rainforests, hunted numerous species to extinction (and continue to hunt others at considerable risk), wrapped the planet in nuclear fallout through 2 bombs and countless botched tests, and continue to condemn hundreds of millions to premature (and likely painful) deaths through our collective failure to ensure basic healthcare and sanitary conditions;
- We encase the planet in harmful pollutants and chemicals, either by air or by water, which no doubt contribute to the mutations causing bone cancer in children; and
- We still kill each other out of greed and anger, and we still visit all of our sins on our children (to quote Commander William Adama (later "Admiral Atheist") from the remake of Battlestar Galactica)

All of the above are things we have managed to achieve without the input from a deity (notwithstanding our impressive knack to use God and religion to justify actions which cannot be justified by either). That all comes from us, from our choices - from our free will. We have to carry the can for the vast majority of the misery our species suffers from, both directly and indirectly. Even with acts of natural evil, as it were, such as the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, that was exacerbated by the fact that no one could be bothered to construct a comprehensive early warning system in one of the most earthquake prone regions on the planet, because the cost wasn't justified. When you look into the detail, we have a lot to answer for ourselves as a species.

2) The caricature of God based solely on cherry-picking from the Old Testament. The Old Testament is a combination of religious text, legal framework and historical account of the early days of the tribes of Israel. Sometimes the boundaries between those different aspects get blurred, particularly if - as happens with all major civilisations at some point or another - they do something which is pretty abhorrent. Suddenly, describing it as "God's will" or saying "The Lord handed them to us to do with as we pleased" becomes quite attractive in terms of explaining it away. Until you get to the New Testament. Granted, Jesus says he doesn't seek to overturn any of the Law - but he still stops people from stoning a woman for adultery, reaches out to the enemies of Israel and generally preaches a message of a compassionate and loving God. So either the Almighty was going through a period of metaphysical bipolar disorder, or (more likely) the use of God to justify the less shiny aspects of Israeli history got holed below the waterline.

3) The misuse of scientific "facts" to back up his position. The line about the insect burrowing into children's eyes? It's a myth. I checked. There is no insect which thrives only in the eyes of children. There are insects which burrow into human skin, and sometimes end up in the eye, and there are nematoids and bacteria which do likewise. But there's nothing on the planet which can only exist by turning a child blind. Claiming otherwise is blatantly false, and the mere fact that David Attenborough made the same inaccurate claim in 2009 is no excuse. Given humanism tends to pride itself on being based on reason and evidence, getting that wrong was a bit of a clanger.

Needless to say, I wasn't impressed. Don't get me wrong, I've no problem with people criticisng our concept of God or the way religions work - scrutiny and critique is a healthy and necessary part of life. But a tirade bordering on an ill-informed rant is neither scrutiny nor critique.
Um.. No offense and also M an atheist so u wont believe in wat I say anyways.. but.. er.. Proving that those problems are man made actually proves that God exists? Rather, I feel, why did God allow the actions of humans affect other creatures on the planet? And the planet itself? I mean, if I were in God's position (so to speak) I would have destroyed the human population. Now, dont tell me He does not get angry at His own creation, or whatever, cuz then He wouldnt have let the rest of the planet suffer because of humans. Make sense? What about atheists? If he really existed, wouldn't He in some way prove to us that He exists? Or maybe punish us so we will admit He is all powerful or whatever? Sorry this may seem like I am critisizing your beliefs BUT I AM NOT INSULTING ANY RELIGION.I AM NOT CRITISIZING ANYONE. Im just questioning because i am seeking answers myself.
   
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Re: Stephen Fry on God - March 17th 2015, 07:29 PM

Honestly, I'm of the belief that the first half of the bible isn't factually correct. I think they're stories made up to teach lessons, albeit in a very dramatic manner. In the new testament, Jesus told stories with messages, parables. That's what I think the entire old testament is about. It's full of very harsh examples but that's what it is. Unfortunately it does portray God as a bit of a dick, and I always wondered why that is when the point is that you love and worship him for eternity. It's like that one friend or boyfriend that you know is bad news and is always mean to you, but you like them anyway.

I've been reading Russell Brand's book (Revolution) lately, and before you judge me for that, hear me out. He wrote a little bit about religion that I'm going to copy here in a minute, but I think what he says is basically an accurate representation of how I feel about religion and why I struggle so much to accept myself into that kind of organisation.

Quote:
Bible Jesus, who, let's face it, has probably been through several prejudicial edits to reach the King James, whitewashed version, is still a considerable theological distance froom the vicious prick that them lot are so into.
For a kick-off he doesn't give a toss about sex or pushing misogyny or homophobia. He in fact seems much more interested in the corruptive power of money. 'Give to the poor and receive treasure in heaven.'
Jesus is pretty committed to sharing. also, as we know, it's the moneylenders that Jesus kicks out of the temple: 'This is my Father's house and you have turned it into a den of thieves.' It's the only time Jesus got really wound up. Even when he was being unjustly nailed to a cross he stayed mellow; when the crowd, given the chance to pardon one of convicts up for crucifixion, chose Barabbas, a known crook, Jesus took it on the chin. The only time he ever let himself go and knocked over tables was when the financial industry was prioritised over normal people.
It wasn't the gays he kicked out of the temple: 'This is my Father's house and you have turned it into a gay bar.' The gays were fine; Jesus had no policy on sex.
While that isn't exactly on topic with what we're discussing, it helps to show my point. People take religious texts (Christians are not the only ones guilty of this) and they twist the meaning and the context to suit their own agenda so that they can justify going around saying "GOD HATES YOU." I think that's also what happened with the Old Testament except that instead of it just being a group of especially crazy religious people shouting it, it was written down and subsequently taken as gospel truth. How unfortunate.

The point is that if the only information we have about Jesus/God and the kind of guy he is comes from a book that was passed through generations like Chinese Whispers, written down, translated, cut down to suit what royalty at the time wanted put out there, and God knows what else, it's unlikely we got most of it right, if any.
Noah's Ark probably started off as something small like when you turn a garden hose on someone who is annoying you, but as people told and retold the story, it got more embellished and dramatic until eventually God's flooded the entire world and looks like an arsehole because of it. All we have is the bible, and we don't even have the entire thing, lots of it is missing. Add that to the issues with embellishment and translation before and we're left with a fairy tale about one man.


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Re: Stephen Fry on God - March 17th 2015, 11:10 PM

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Originally Posted by Michael Joseph Jackson View Post
Um.. No offense and also M an atheist so u wont believe in wat I say anyways.. but.. er..
Not necessarily. I like to think I have a pretty open mind on the subject of religion - my friends are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, agnostics, atheists...probably a few Buddhists and Sikhs as well, and assorted others. I take all opinions as I find them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Joseph Jackson View Post
Proving that those problems are man made actually proves that God exists?
No - and that isn't what I said. Rather, I was questioning the validity of Stephen Fry apparently trying to blame all of mankind's ills on God's door when it appears we are architects of our own destruction time and time again.

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Originally Posted by Michael Joseph Jackson View Post
Rather, I feel, why did God allow the actions of humans affect other creatures on the planet? And the planet itself? I mean, if I were in God's position (so to speak) I would have destroyed the human population. Now, dont tell me He does not get angry at His own creation, or whatever, cuz then He wouldnt have let the rest of the planet suffer because of humans. Make sense?
I suppose the question is, do the misdeeds of mankind (of which the examples I gave are but a handful) justify the wholesale genocide of our species in a "wipe the slate clean" effort? Or for all we've done, does our species still have a glimmer of traits worthy of redemption? I'm sure that God, if He exists, has held his metaphysical head in his hands in despair at what homo sapiens sapiens has managed to do at times, but as long as there is a chance of righting the wrongs and redeeming ourselves then that might be enough. For every person doing harm to the world, there is another trying to save it. Maybe that's enough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Joseph Jackson View Post
What about atheists? If he really existed, wouldn't He in some way prove to us that He exists? Or maybe punish us so we will admit He is all powerful or whatever?
I'm glad you raised this, because it's a point I've heard a few times in discussions. Simply put, my response is this: is it better for God to force His existence upon you so that you cannot deny it and have no choice to live according to His will, like a slave must obey their master? Or is it better for God to leave the choice open to you, to take your view of things and find your own way to Him (or not, as you see fit)? We value our personal liberty and freedoms above all else, after all, and with good reason - perhaps it's a case of leaving enough room for us to find our own way, because in the grand scheme of things that is a better option that forcing everyone to have no choice in the matter. Perhaps all human endeavour is ultimately an exercise in finding our own way, even if it's not obvious at the time. A humanist scientist may reject the idea of God altogether, but for all we know his work on quarks and photons might actually bring him closer to God in its own way. But I digress. I would argue that having freedom to decide for ourselves whether we want to follow God's ways is better than having to do so with no choice whatsoever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Joseph Jackson View Post
Sorry this may seem like I am critisizing your beliefs BUT I AM NOT INSULTING ANY RELIGION.I AM NOT CRITISIZING ANYONE. Im just questioning because i am seeking answers myself.
No problem - not taken that way. Questioning is to be encouraged, from all sides of the debate.


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If you're referring to dr2005's response, it's not complex, however, he has a way with words .
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