Night Owl Mk. II

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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

NOTE: I've gathered two short replies from the same respondent together into one page in order to save space.

I hope you received a decent grade for your work
(R) i got 100% on it. of course my teacher believes in the supernatural, if the class were from a different viewpoint i probably would have flunked for listing no evidence or strong support? hehe just a joke.
(MB) *grin* I doubt you'd have flunked in any case. Undergraduate papers of this type aren't normally graded on whether or not they've "proven" anything. It's more important to demonstrate reasonable research and writing skills. In your paper, your purpose was to contrast certain beliefs of Hinduism and Christianity and that was done successfully. It would be beyond the scope of your paper to make a case either supporting or favoring either set of beliefs.

(R) i liked your replies to this one alot better than some in the past, because your main thesis wasn't lack of evidence, you were pointing out that the questions i raised seem to lend more support to the idea that there may be no supreme being.
(MB) This is an inherent problem with trying to ascribe specific characteristics to any given "God". The more detailed the descriptions, the more they tend to collapse under their own weight and raise further doubts about the whole story in general. Could this be why mainstream Christianity tends to shy away from being too detailed about God?

(R) i must agree that alot of things just don't make sense, you are right. why would an all powerful god even make sin, or evil, or suffering, why not just start out perfect? but doesn't that get us down to the meaning of life? even if we were created by God, why did He do it? for amusement? as an experiment? what's the f@#$ing point? i don't know.
(MB) Given the plethora of contradictory arguments offered in failed attempts to divine "God's Will", I'd say that nobody really knows -- if there is, indeed,anything at all to "know".
    We can, however, ask probing questions and reach rational conclusions. If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, it follows that there is nothing in the universe that isn't exactly the way he wants it to be. But, if he's all-knowing and all-powerful, why does he need to create pitiful creatures like us to praise him? Wouldn't he already know his own nature and how powerful and great and wonderful that he was? Why would such a being need to create any creature to serve him? What can we possibly do for him that he couldn't far more easily do for himself?

(R) i have no idea what i believe or why i believe, i just don't know and i don't have evidence and facts. i just have belief. that's it.
(MB) That's fine -- just so you don't abandon your search for knowledge and truth. Too many people abandon this to embrace an easy belief system. The big risk is that, if that belief system eventually proves insufficient, the person will not have anything else to fall back upon. In that case, he may just try to convince himself that it's his own fault that his beliefs are unsatisfactory. He may then falsely profess his continued loyalty to others while waiting for some sort of "revelation" or "rebirth" -- which will likely never come.

(R) i do not think necessarily that what i believe is what 'is' i simply think that that is where i am at right now, i could never expect my beliefs to be 100% right and accepted by everyone because my beliefs change daily, sometimes several times a day, so if everyone believed the same thing i did we'd have a bunch of lunatics frantically trying to keep up on all the necessary ceremonies and beliefs.
(MB) These ever-changing beliefs are certainly peripheral to some larger and more basic belief that doesn't change, am I right? Would it be correct to say that you believe in a Supreme Being, but are uncertain as to just who it is or what its nature might be?

(R) oh which reminds me, i think that the purpose to ceremony is to remind oneself, like christians say that you can still be a good christian even if you don't go to church but by going to church regularly you strengthen your faith,i think that is the point of ceremony.
(MB) If one professes to be a Christian, but is unbaptized, unconfirmed, never attends church, and never receives communion (much less possibly being married without "benefit" of a religious ceremony), I think he might be hard-pressed to gain acceptance as a "good Christian" no matter how strong he professes his faith to be. I would fully agree that no ceremony is necessary if one's faith is already an honest faith. On the other hand, no amount of ceremony is likely to gain salvation for a hypocrite.

(R) don't you think ritual can be a good thing in secular life? i think there is value to family and cultural traditions in the same way that it is valuable to spirituality. i also believe that there is a part of many people that enjoys and responds to ritual.
(MB) Absolutely. But, we need to understand the true purpose behind the ceremonies. Rituals and ceremonies can provide stability and focus as well as a point around which those with common beliefs can bond. Take funerals, for example. Does anybody really believe that they serve any purpose from the point-of-view of the deceased? He's just as dead and his fate (if any) has already been determined no matter how lavish or pious the funeral ceremony might be.

(R) and as far as buddhism was concerned, it appeals to me because it does encourage intellectual growth and doesn't focus on negative consequences.
(MB) Same here. I have respect for any such philosophy.

(R) also you were saying that people follow the 'rules' of religion because of fear of the consequences or hope for the afterlife. i don't think christianity really wishes it this way, but rather strives to lead people to do good for mankind and try to make this world a better place out of compassion and love for all creation, not for personal objectives.
(MB) You'll have a hard time finding much in the Bible that might support such motives -- especially in the Old Testament. Even Jesus basically said to "believe in Me -- or else". The Book of Revelation warns of the consequences for those who are not found written in the Book of Life.
    Sure, do right and do good for others. But, one must wonder if the unspoken reason for that is "because that will make them see us more favorably and, perhaps, be convinced to join us".

(R) however it is more clearly laid out in buddhism, where a major way to reach enlightenment and eliminate karma is to practice compassion out of completely unselfish motives. i think that is the essence of spirituality, combined with intellectual growth, and that all people of all practices could reach their own goals by not being consumed by them but by giving fully to all instead of one.
(MB) I doubt I could have said that any better myself.

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