Hello, everyone. I was an atheist until at the age of 27 I began to study the Bible in order to debunk it. I learned quickly that the Bible was grossly misrepresented by apostate Christendom's adoption of pagan teachings such as the immortal soul from Socrates, the trinity from Plato, the cross from Constantine, hell from Dante and Milton, Easter from Astarte, Christmas from the winter solstice celebrations, and most recently the Rapture from Darby.
Though I have never and will never be a part of organized religion, my beliefs are not entirely dissimilar to that of The Jehovah's Witnesses, due to the removal of the aforementioned pagan influence. I have studied briefly the history of the major world religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism and Taoism and have published sacred and non-sacred texts from each of these online: The Dhammapada, Four Noble Truths, Paradise Lost, Divine Comedy, Analects Of Confucius, Bhagavad Gita, Qur'an, Pirqe Aboth, Nihongi, Kojiki, Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu.
Having been an atheist most of my life and given that nearly everyone I know is atheist, I think I understand and respect where most of you are coming from. I don't believe in "converting" anyone to anything, but I do think the atheist tends to be mislead when it comes to the Bible. Not that that matters much, except for that I do enjoy, given the opportunity, to correct them in thoughtful and polite discussion and debate.
I hope we can have some interesting conversations.
Ed, Justin - yes, it's very clear and interesting. I think it's a great strength to incorporate multiple viewpoints. After all, why should one source have all the answers? It doesn't happen. The truth is large and complex, and requires many points of view in order to make it clear.
Am just not so optimistic that Dave will respond. He has not shown up in the last 24hrs or slightly more.
Having been atheist for sometime you must have at some point thought religion to be "man made" so, when you decided to believe again did you immediately subscribe to your current beliefs or was their a buffer of a more general deity? Deism or what not?
I only ask because I wonder about your path to the god/religion that you think is the true god/religion. For me If there is no real evidence for "god" then there is no reason for me to subscribe to any particular religion. Were you sold on a concept of god first or were you sold on a religion that has its own concept of god?
Interesting comments from you and Justin. Yours is shorter so you first.
I have always, and still do think that religion is man made. I have two distinctly different concepts of what it means to be religious, which differs from most people, I think. The first is a very basic concept of strictly held to beliefs. Everyone, in this sense, is religious. The second is organized religion. There has never been a religion that remains true even to itself. With the possible exception of Shintoism, simply because it is founded upon a cultural adaptation of various gods from the outset. Shintoists will change the gods at a whim, the importance is the bi annual gathering of villages.
Christianity and Taoism are the most obvious cases of religion transmogrifying the original teachings. I don't mean learning and growing but rather distorting and adopting beliefs contrary in order to appease the masses. I've mentioned this in Christianity, but in Taoism, for example, beginning in the Warring States Period of China's history as a sort of leaving the world and approaching nature and the nature of things in its most simple, graduating into superstitious priests for hire to bless supermarkets. Buddhism was an attempt to escape the metaphysical and social trappings of Hinduism only to surpass it in difficulty unobtainable to the people.
God doesn't change any of this. The ancient Hebrew, with Jehovah among them, fell short and was rejected. Paul warned of the apostasy already taking place in early Christianity.
There is no "true" religion, either of my own personal beliefs or especially of the organized appeal to the masses. We are all trying to figure things out from an imperfect position.
So I wasn't sold on a concept of a god, though I learned early on that the word god doesn't mean much. Only that one is mighty. Jehovah became the God, or mighty one, of Israel. God doesn't necessarily have any supernatural qualities, and yet the supernatural isn't testable by science.
I was never sold on religion.
By definition then, you are a common deist. You don't subscribe to religion, just its product: God.
Nothing special to be honest, I thought your stance was about something more interesting/complex. Why the big fuss?
Well, first of all, I don't know what a deist is but I highly suspect I aint.
Like I said, my beliefs are most similar to the JW's. Nothing special. The big fuss comes from y'all. I think its fascinating. Obstinately persistent and predictable, but I'm sure you would say the same to me. Once you get the chip off your shoulder and stop thinking like I think I'm superior, we can have some good discussions.
@ David Henson
The only thing this group is persistent about is evidence. You've been asked over and over and you don't have any. Your assertions do not count as fact and you've already been proven irrefutably wrong about your biblical interpretation starting in book 1.
You can cry all you like, lash out, spew lots of rhetoric persisting that your view is correct - but at the end of the day you'll still be asked for evidence.
I don't know what a deist is
"Doing this" for 2 decades, huh?
David: Google might help you find out what a deist is. Or a dictionary.
Maybe read Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason". (It's like 7 bucks)
I wonder how you studied so much yet were able to skip over Deism.
The term "mighty" can be seen as many, many things. Mightier than me. Mighty meaning strong, etc.. It's a bit of a cop out to say your that you define your god as mighty yet you fail to point out the qualities that makes this god mighty. Sorry, I can't accept "mighty" as a full answer.
So if I may ask you to expand on this a bit:
"So I wasn't sold on a concept of a god, though I learned early on that the word god doesn't mean much."
How would you describe god? I mean people have had Ideas of god that aren't supernatural. Is this the stance you take?
You say your beliefs aren't dissimilar from JW. Did you borrow form the JW? If so aren't you just as qualified to come to your own conclusion. Did your own conclusions happen to be somewhat inline with JW?
Surely Jehovah God must have some identifiable characteristics besides "mighty". I'm still trying to figure out what the point of your earlier story of the shit god was. If the word god only means a thing that the observer regards in his own mind as "mighty" and doesn't necessarily have any supernatural qualities, then that's definitely the first time I've heard such a definition, and it's silly to chastise us for not getting it. It's not hard to understand your definition, but it's sort of needlessly redefining a common word. If I claim a Unicorn wrote a book, am asked to define this unicorn, and I reply "unicorn doesn't mean much, just any one-horned animal, duh; why is that so hard for you nonbelievers to grasp?" then I've dodged the question a bit, haven't I? First of all, since when has unicorn ever been understood to be anything less than a magical horse with a horn? But more importantly, what is the specific Unicorn that wrote the book like?
So all we are asking for is how your personal concept of god, Jehovah, is similar to or different from the commonly understood definition of God: all-everything (knowing, loving, powerful, and so on), the creator of the universe, and the divine author of the Bible. Your one-of-a-kind definition of the word god as "mighty one" is sort of irrelevant.