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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Wren



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My two cents on the fear/courage discussion:

Fear is when you want something not to happen, or be happening, on an instinctive level. It may have a rationale behind it, it may not, and it is always useful to acknowledge, but the reaction in and of itself has no reason.

Courage is when you overcome fear. This may be simply forcing yourself to do something (getting around Tenshi's wall), or finding another emotion powerful enough to push you through the fear to the other side (busting through the wall).

Ignorance is when you do not have or do not acknowledge fear. This is where I think fear becomes something of a shackle. It disappears if you realize it is there, but the wall still stays. If you pretend it is not there, then it's like a Chinese finger trap. You may push against it, you may even tear it, but it is much more difficult than if you had just allowed yourself to say, "Yes, it is there, but it does not own me."

It may also make the wall completely disappear if you fully convince yourself it is not present--shackle, wall and all. However, as Squee noted, fear is not necessarily a bad thing. You do not want to jump off the cliff ledge (one hopes), because you would die. A world without walls may sound nice, but there is a reason that they are within us in the first place.

And that is actually pretty close to one of my first...epiphanies, I suppose. Yes, there are difficult things. No, I may not understand them. But I have had this same feeling before, and I find a reason almost every time. The trick is to realize what you need to figure out now, and what is a good thinking point for later (when the danger is no longer present).
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YatesOfYore
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nem wrote:
Today LDS people came around. Basic pray to the Holy Spirit for testimony stuff as the standard of proof. Talked a bit about the existence of evil/suffering, which is always an interesting debate to have. They work with the Old Testament which opens up a lot of ground.

Visited the conflict between amount of suffering in the world and the ability to learn. The trick if someone says suffering is used as a teaching tool is to bind suffering with that learning - if suffering is a way for people to learn then suffering beyond a certain point or in the wrong contexts is counter-productive, it teaches the wrong lessons. I think Heinlein expressed the general theme best,

"War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose.Ē

Swap out war and paste in suffering, swap out violence and killing and paste in the components of suffering, the theme is the same.

Got a standard of injustice defined by them and then asked about a bit of the bible, (specifically Deuteronomy 5:7-10,) that fulfilled that standard. Interesting reaction - claim that it had to be considered in context, which we did and it didn't really mitigate it - followed by a resort back to the faith that god was inherently just and from there to the Holy Spirit and his witnessing the prophet.

Kind of incoherent, not sure what sort of system they were trying to espouse. Whenever you got a position pinned down and asked how you decided between faith in the aspect of god they were talking about and the written word, how to reconcile the two, they faded away back to the testimony of the Holy Spirit and then came back on a different point.

Structurally itís an extremely interesting approach, I donít think Iíve seen it very often before. Appeals to authority lead to a kind of internal conflict unless you understand the authority; (in which case why appeal to it?) Ė Admiration being overcome by and in turn overcoming doubt; retrospectively reconstructing the feeling of doubt into belief and then reconstructing the feeling of that reconstruction Ė belief ridding forever one step ahead of the doubt. Not sure what youíd call that, not even sure itís done consciously.

If it works for them thatís fine, as long as they donít use it to motivate hostile actions. Itís actually really neat, but if youíre not ridding the wave with them it makes them very hard to understand.

Iím not saying all LDS people are like that of course. I think thereís a few of you on here and Iíd never accuse you of being generally like that as a function of religion ^___^;

Iím kind of envious of religious people >_>
Faith is obviously a comfort to people but at the same time you canít just have faith. Every time you talk to a religious person about their faith you hope that they have something new, an argument you canít overcome; something youíre actually capable of submitting to.

Maybe thatís how the concept of god was born Ė people vest faith in others stronger than themselves to take care of them, and then those who take care of them look for someone else to help them carry that burden. Perhaps thereís a need for someone to stand at the top of the world, an ultimate sovereign. But is that compatible with the idea of reason? And if itís not perhaps reason is that sovereign; the ultimate protective power, the ultimate authority that can endorse any set of means given a certain ends.

Certainly I can see how you could describe utilitarianism and other moral belief systems as faiths absent of god.

Eh, regardless.



They keep coming back to the whole "testimony of the Holy Spirit" schtick cause that's all we, or any other religion, have got. You can try to 'prove' it a million different ways, and people have certainly tried, but if you never feel that it's true (or at least that it works for you) then you'll never believe it no matter what evidences are provided. If there were a foolproof argument to defend it, I guarantee you we'd be using it.

Religion can be of the mind, but faith and belief are of the heart. Not offering up that by way of excuse, but just as a thought.

As for Deuteronomy 5:7-10, I've got nothing except for that a footnote in the Bible notes that it's probably more a reference to the consequence of sin - ie that the innocent suffer via the choices of others. That's certainly not what it outright says though.

The Old Testament is hard to reconcile with the New. Terry Prachett said once that "The New Testament is basically about what happened when God got religion". I love this quotation and I think there's a fair bit of truth in the observation. It's how I see it anyhow.

At any rate, if you're looking for someone to convince you to have faith, I wish you luck, but having faith does indeed mean having to accept the unprovable and unquantifiable and... well, I'm not sure you're up to the task Wink

But, if I were going to argue as a non-invested observer, I would have to say that the original belief in God (or at least the Christian variety) stems from a belief in Justice for others and Mercy for me. Ouch. Cynical much? Sadly, I actually think a whole lot of religious people probably feel this way unfortunately. It's too bad that religion seems to be more inherited than sought out for actual personal belief and needs. It's more used (read "abused" there) as a justification for social viewpoints that may or may not be actually espoused by said religion.

Annnnnd I'm rambling. Coherent arguments are for wimps anyhow.
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Tamir



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel obligated to say something about the verses in Deuteronomy. First, I'll quote them for those of you who don't have a bible handy:

Deuteronomy 5:7-10 wrote:
You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishments for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation but bestowing mercy, down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

It's from the restatement of the Ten Commandments. Please forgive the translators, they're only human.

So, we're talking about injustice. Your claim, I suppose, is that it's unjust for God to be biased towards people who love him and against people of other religions. Morality should be the same for all people, regardless of who or what they believe in. Also, people should be held accountable for their own actions, not those of others. Something like that?

A common explanation for why idolatry is forbidden is ingratitude. If you've been given life by God, and then go on to worship the sun, then you aren't being properly grateful to your creator. In fact, you're insulting the creator by thanking the sun for what the creator gave you.

As for children being punished for the sins of their fathers - Rashi (most famous of the bible commentators) says that the verse is referring to children who hold on to the ways of their fathers, as children often do. The asymmetry between the good and the bad here (four generations compared to a thousand) shows the mercy of God - though he won't really punish children for the sins of their fathers, he will reward them for the good deeds of their fathers. Even today, standard Jewish prayers often lean on the virtues of their forefathers for help from God.

Jealous is much better translated as zealous, I think.
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Asa



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it often is.
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That "sins of the father" thing was actually one of the biggest gripes I had with religion for a very long time, and you just resolved that Tamir. O_o Or at least provided an excellent idea that resonated in such a way that I will collect it into my hodgepodge belief system. Wink

My two cents, as it were, comes from someone who was raised in religion, completely and totally lost it, and then approached this from Nem's position again. ^_^ It's actually a really difficult position to approach from!

When looking at the world, we have two general options. The first of these is to believe that all actions are those of some otherworldly puppeteer. All of our actions, all of our thoughts, and all of our beliefs are completely controlled by this, we are railroaded by the future, by fate, by G-d's Will, what have you. In this argument, which I have heard from many Judeo-Christian believers, you defeat the core of the very belief they follow! Free Will.

The other option is that you look at a world filled with evil deeds, with rampant chaos from a truly alive and breathtakingly powerful (in comparison to ourselves) planet. We look to the stars and know that death could come rather quickly and silently from a cosmos we only barely understand. How, and where, can a father reside in this world? At what point does "our father" step in and shield his children? Honestly, it seems like he never does!

I had something of an epiphany, though, while I was searching for my answers. I looked back on moments in my mind where it was absolutely essential that something happened. Rescuing others, mostly, but also a few times where I saved myself from certain.. well, death. In every case, I felt a total calm descend upon me. I felt aware of all the things around me, from every ripple in the water to every beat of an insect's wings. I saw with perfect clarity each lash on another person's face, and the glint of light on all sorts of surfaces.

Now, this leads us to a very simple idea. Is this holy, or is this biological? If it is holy, then it was truly just the divine will that I act by his hand. If it was biological, it was an evolutionary response to aggression that allowed certain species to reproduce and survive more readily than others. At it's most base. I couldn't find an answer, I couldn't decide between the two, but then I wondered why I should have to.

Once I detached myself from the Christian idea I grew up with of G-d meddling in absolutely every moment of my life, it made much more sense. Where I had lost faith before, I had traveled to every corner of my knowledge. I searched back to the moment of creation of the universe, forward to mankind's selfish self-destruction (and read about the Tower of Babel for thought), I dove into Astronomy and Biology, into Chemistry and Physics. I listened and debated Philosophy with anyone who would listen.

I came to the conclusion that G-d is omnipresent, but sometimes he does not act. His hand can be seen in a few things, though. In my own case of fatherhood, there are times I had to let my son do it his own way. If I told him that the stove was hot, but he just shrugged and went on about his business in the kitchen, I would prepare some cool water and a wash cloth. Sure enough, I needed them shortly... and he never touched the stove again. It isn't callous, not really, I was there for him in his time of need, but I gave him the choice to make his mistakes.

And, to me, G-d is that sort of father.

An atheist once told me that it was "God in the gaps" logic. That I was simply filling all the holes in science with an omnipotent creator/father figure. This certainly may be true, and without faith it's hard to find faith. To find faith, you truly must break down and submit yourself to it. It's an odd circular sort of thing, you are right, but many things of the very human world are just the same way. Before you can fall in love, you must learn to trust. Before you learn to trust, you must love someone enough to trust them with your heart. You can never have one without the other, but if both are things you just cannot do, then how do you make that leap?

You make the leap. Wink You might fall, many times, before you finally make it. I did. Then one time, I was crouched in the shower. I wrapped my arms around my legs, and let the water rain on me for a few minutes. In that moment, I allowed myself to trust again.

It is a conscious choice, for non-believers. Conversion of those who believe in no G-d at all is perhaps the most difficult.

I suppose it just really bothered me that I knew so few atheists who were worth talking to, and yet almost all of my religious friends were.

To paraphrase a friend of mine (also LDS, and converted from a lack of faith standpoint): Sometimes the actions make the belief. If you make a conscious decision to become something, it is easier to become. Say you choose a church for example, and your faith is either not really there or very shaky. As you attend temple, as you speak with believers, as you are honest with them about your shaken faith, yet they accept you all the same and welcome you with all their heart, you tend to find what you were looking for all along.

>_>

I suppose, to me, G-d isn't about just between the father and I. It's about everything that surrounds him. The faith in him, and those who believe in him, are the glue that binds the foundation of the platform we raise him up on. We do this, not because he asks it of us, but because we love our father.

And I say we, yet I am as yet not a member of any church, synagogue, or organized faith at all. ^^;

Hope this helps, Nem!
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Rechaana



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

YatesOfYore wrote:
But, if I were going to argue as a non-invested observer, I would have to say that the original belief in God (or at least the Christian variety) stems from a belief in Justice for others and Mercy for me. Ouch. Cynical much? Sadly, I actually think a whole lot of religious people probably feel this way unfortunately. It's too bad that religion seems to be more inherited than sought out for actual personal belief and needs. It's more used (read "abused" there) as a justification for social viewpoints that may or may not be actually espoused by said religion. Annnnnd I'm rambling. Coherent arguments are for wimps anyhow.


I've always thought that this was one of the bases of the argument for organized religion. In that, when you're practicing your faith in a group of people, you're always held accountable for your actions. So when you do something that goes completely against the tenets of your religion, someone is going to call you out. Ideally, this would prevent anyone from developing the "holier than thou" attitude, which basically boils down to "I can do no wrong" or "If I do wrong, God will forgive me. You, on the other hand..."

Of course, when you turn the religion into a homogeneous mush of people who believe the exact same thing as you, you run the risk of the entire religion developing the "holier than thou" attitude. Which, frankly, is what has happened to much of contemporary religion.
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spellingmistax



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Faith and belief. We all have both and we all practice both, virtually all day every day.

If I may use two examples to explain what I mean.
1)A chair:
Belief: You can believe that it is capable of supporting your weight, you can tell the whole world you know that it will support you if you sit in it. You may test the chair in all manner of ways. Regardless of how well or how badly you present the case for your belief, it is still that the chair will support you if you sit on it.
Faith: You actually sit on the chair. You put your full weight onto it. At some point (If you whish to sit on the chair) you must put your beliefs to the test and start to sit down, there will come a point where you will be unable to prevent yourself from putting your full weight onto the chair thereby sitting on it. If your faith is justified then it will support you if it is not then it will not.
2)Rules of the road:
Belief: That everyone in charge of driving a vehicle will obey the rules of the road.
Faith: Getting into a car and driving. More so, letting someone else do the driving for you.
(This is actually quite interesting, and is an example of placing huge trust in a total stranger. If you are driving a car then you have to trust a completely unknowable person to obey arbitrary rules that are nay impossible to enforce. There are repercussions for not following these rules but every time you pass a car going the other direction you are placing your life in their hands and vice a versa, it is a great example to hold up in comparison to ĎThe tragedy of the commonsí showing why one works and the other did not, but I digress)
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Nem wrote:
...at the same time you canít just have faith. Every time you talk to a religious person about their faith you hope that they have something new, an argument you canít overcome; something youíre actually capable of submitting to.

Do you believe that I exist as a person? Could I not be a ĎStraw maní made up by another member of this forum? In this forum, can you point to a post and say that this is absolute proof that Spellingmistax is not ________*?** You cannot, you can only be sure that ĎIí am not you. You can give great arguments leaning for one side or another but proof based on posts? not really. Ultimately you will have to take it as a matter of faith that I am a different person then everyone else currently active on this forum.
So it is with the existence of G-d. Except for the fact that is a vastly more complicated issue, it essentially boils down to this. I cannot give you the undisputable proof that you require that he exists, only the disputable reasons why I think he does. (Trust me; what convinced me will not convince you.) It is highly unlikely that my belief in the existence of G-d will be undeniably proven one way or the other until after I die. By which piont I will know and it will become moot.

*Insert forumite name here
** It is conceivable that you can find out that I am different to every other poster using technologic means; it is equally possible that I could use similar methods to mask which other forumite I pose as, even if itís unlikely that I would go to such lengths.
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Tenshi wrote:
When looking at the world, we have two general options. The first of these is to believe that all actions are those of some otherworldly puppeteer. All of our actions, all of our thoughts, and all of our beliefs are completely controlled by this, we are railroaded by the future, by fate, by G-dís Will, what have you. In this argument, which I have heard from many Judeo-Christian believers, you defeat the core of the very belief they follow! Free Will.

Before I begin you have to understand that I believe in Judeo-Christian G-d, who is not bound by the dimension we call time. (As well as the rest, all powerful, all knowing etc.)

I think, and I could very easily be wrong, that predestination and free will both co-exist without contradiction. Let me try to explain what I mean.
Have you ever watched a video of yourself as a child? Playing a game, eating or what ever. At the time that it was being taken where you forced to take specific actions? Or could you do anything you wanted? Now watch and rewatch the peace, can you alter the actions of yourself? You can predict exactly what is going to happen, you can tell anyone who is has yet to see it what will happen but can you alter the out come? You had free will then but watching it now, being unable to change your past actions, being able to predict exactly what you will do, does any of this mean that you had no choice over your actions then?
Another example. Have you ever played chess? Once, because I played the same opponent so much I got to a point in a game that I was able to Ďpredictí exactly where they would move their next piece. Regardless of what piece I moved I knew what they would move next. I did not force them to take any particular move, they had the freedom to make any legal move that they wished but I Ďknewí that they would move piece X if I moved piece Y, same for pieces A, B, C etc. They had free will but I already knew what they would do. (This has happened against me far more then I have ever been able to do it by the way)
Neither of theses examples are prefect but they helped me to somewhat understand the concept.

Tenshi also wrote:
I came to the conclusion that G-d is omnipresent, but sometimes he does not act


Have a cookie, thatís some fine typing there.


Just some quick thoughts on a few of the points raised, feel free to pick them apart at your leisure. I am open to comments and critique about the above. I like to bounce ideas off others because they get better with each bounce returned.
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YatesOfYore
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice Tam! I like it. Much better than my explanation.

And thanks for sharing that Tenshi. It was all very profound and personal. Though, as an LDS, I have to stick out my foot here and say that our particular branch of Christianity does believe that God is largely a "let you learn from your mistakes" kind of dad, and that's why we're here - to make choices and prove ourselves through our actions... on our own.

Mind you, you're always going to find a few who can't handle it when bad things happen to good people (ie God isn't interceding on their behalf when requested) - I know I know a few. Apparently they've never read the story of Job. [/snideness]

It rains on the just and unjust alike, no? Wink
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Lani



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That example you used of the videotaping...

Wow. That reduced the concept of predestination and free will to a simple elegance. Can I plagiarize that? Pretty please?



*side note and completely off-topic, pardon me*

This forum is amazing. I've spent the last couple of weeks on another forum-- tarvalon.net, having this same discussion. Usually it's degenerated into name-calling and ridiculousness. I've been here for a very, very, very, long time, and I have to say that I've never found another forum that I like quite as much.

So, cookies for all of us.

/end off-topic


I also agree with teh Lady-- my Heavenly Father, also known in the New Testament as "Abba Father" is also the same "sometimes you have to make your own mistakes" father, Tenshi. And I belong to a pretty conservative evangelical Christianity, also known as Baptist. ^_^


Quote:
When looking at the world, we have two general options. The first of these is to believe that all actions are those of some otherworldly puppeteer. All of our actions, all of our thoughts, and all of our beliefs are completely controlled by this, we are railroaded by the future, by fate, by G-d's Will, what have you. In this argument, which I have heard from many Judeo-Christian believers, you defeat the core of the very belief they follow! Free Will.



I feel nothing but pity for Judeo-Christian believers who think like this. What a fatalist view of the world. To blame G-d for my stupid decisions? Just... no. That reduces Him to my level.
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Lani: I was raised Southern Baptist, before losing my faith. I lost my faith mostly because the church I belonged to was full of people who believed that G-d was a meddler, and it deeply troubled me. I could not reconcile the great father described in The Bible with the man I was being taught to worship. This was even further compounded when their only explanation for ANYTHING was "G-d's will," and by that very logic murder and such were his will.

"We have legs with which to walk, eyes to see, ears to hear, mouths to speak, and hands to work. Why then, would we be given an analytical, curious brain?"

Certainly not to follow blindly, in my opinion. The more you come to know, understand, and believe with your heart (and not your voice), the closer you really truly feel to G-d. Again, just my experience.

Anyway, I agree. This forum is probably one of the only places on the internet (or really anywhere) that you could have a sit down, calm discussion about religion or politics. That is why, in all my many years of the internet, I have come to think of this place as home. ^_^

@Ax: I agree with Lani, I'm totally going to borrow your description. Very much a "simple and elegant" description, and when looked at it in that light... yes, I see what you mean. It is not that all of our decisions are already made for us, but by us. If you eliminate the man-made description of Time, and account for it only as a fourth dimension, then we could say that G-d can view the entirety of this fourth dimension just as easily as I can view the entire face of my computer monitor.

(Your description is still far better, though. ^_^)

@LadyYates: Other than living with my then in-laws, Utah was quite possibly one of the best experiences I had. It seemed like not only was every LDS member I met willing to discuss any topic of religion at length, but most of them were well versed in it. Not in the "drilled into your head from 30 years of bible school" way, but in an honest and deep understanding of their faith. It was very refreshing, and set the stage for my own return to faith. That the LDS church as a whole believes in a G-d who will let a person make their own mistakes doesn't surprise me, but it does make me smile!

I like that. "It rains on the just and unjust alike." This is very true.
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Squeeself



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lani wrote:
That example you used of the videotaping...

Wow. That reduced the concept of predestination and free will to a simple elegance. Can I plagiarize that? Pretty please?


Good analogy for an all-knowing, future-seeing God and free-will, but honestly fails at explaining fully predestination. This hindsight IS what God does, as he is able to know the past, present, and future but still allow us our free will. So yes, great analogy there. However, the doctrinal origins of predestination tries to tie added complexity onto the situation that is honestly unnecessary. Most of this comes from Calvinism, where unconditional election and reprobation literally says that God's whims have chosen heaven or hell for a person...Most modern Protestant religions have abandoned the core of this today, but retained the unnecessary and confusing complexities of those original doctrines. There's a very good reason LDS people will claim a rejection of predestination (even though a more modern view on it isn't much different than our beliefs) and instead insist on solely on foreordination (and not even the same foreordination as Calvinism).

Squee for one, has serious contentions with not only reprobation, but the also more modern views which tie into the to the same concept (found scattered throughout all Christianity, including some bad LDS doctrine), where God "tests our faith." Life itself is the test--the Adversary being the tester--while God is instead the teacher, mentor, etc. Even Job was not tested by God; all his suffering and tests of faith were from the devil whom God allowed. There's that very nice little bit of prose in that book where they discuss that very thing. Just an annoyance that Squee's come across quite a bit frequently (mostly because it's all-so-often used as an excuse to fall back on ignorant, blind dogmas...)

Also, an excellent point on the matter Tamir! About what Squee was going to point out. And yes, most of the time, jealous isn't the best word for the translation, especially since we've lost some of the alternate meanings of jealous over the centuries. Though zealous isn't quite right either from what Squee remembers.
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Asa



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Location: Grammar Police HQ. Watch your language, I'm armed with the NYTimes Style Book AND Strunk and White!

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's because it's not the original language in which the Bible was written. There is no such thing as a perfect translation.

[/useless two cents]
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spellingmistax



Joined: 28 Jul 2009
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Location: Asa took this ^ I stole it ^_^

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asa: Why is it a useless two cent? You raise a very valid point.

Lani wrote:
Can I plagiarize that?


Feel free but make sure you include Squeeselfs points. It is a tool to help understand the concept and it does have flaws be sure to point them out.
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Tinu.



Joined: 23 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asa wrote:
That's because it's not the original language in which the Bible was written. There is no such thing as a perfect translation.

[/useless two cents]

That's a very valid point, it's not useless! That and a lot of modern bible translations are translations of translations. Ugh. It gives me a headache. *is attempting to learn the original language so that she can read it*
I'll add my two cents later.

/off topic
. . . and I think I just figured out where that phrase came from . . .
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