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bejjinks

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Everything posted by bejjinks

  1. Don't force noobs to go through orientation. They need the option of skipping it. I was a noob years ago and left SL but came back recently. When I came back, I already knew most of what I needed to know and only needed a refresher or an update. Noobs appreciate the opportunity to direct their own education, to skip what they don't need and focus on the help they need. Help should not be linear forcing you to have to learn how to walk before you can learn what a sculpt is. When I came back to SL, I didn't stay long at the portals. The only other people there were other noobs who knew less about the game than I did. There was no one to ask questions. So I stuck around long enough to redesign my avatar (after flying over the trees to find some privacy). Then I went straight to places where I knew I'd find real people to ask questions that the tutorials didn't cover.
  2. Madelaine McMasters wrote: I have friends of many faiths, and of no faith at all. We sometimes do discuss religion, though I don't know if anyone has shifted position much as a result. Our discussions don't last long enough to have that effect. While it may be true that no amount of defending will ever convert anyone, I don't generally defend. I simply wonder aloud, discuss things I've read, heard and observed, and explain why I find those things compelling, or not. I don't try to convert other people, I simply try to explain why I believe what I believe. As for developing my opinions from my own experiences, I find that a dangerous thing to do without critical self analysis. I am easily fooled, spotting patterns and causality where none exist. This can produce amusing or frightening results. So I must depend on and cooperate with others in the search for knowledge. In that sense, I too am faithful. I'm faithful that people with vastly different beliefs are nevertheless curious enough to explore and open enough to change their minds, and that collectively we will, though it might look like a drunkard's walk, head in the general direction of the truth. Nice. I like that.
  3. These are biases common to many Atheists. I am not saying that all Atheists have these biases. I'm merely pointing out a few of the more common biases held by many Atheists. 1. "I have no bias". The denial of bias is a bias itself. To assume that oneself is logical is to arrogantly set oneself above everyone else. This leads many Atheists to avoid using the word believe and to state his or her opinions as if they were facts. For example, the theory of evolution is spoken of as if it was a fact or even a law. Many Atheist do not say "I believe" in the theory of evolution because that Atheist wants to give the impression that only a fool would dispute this theory. Some Atheist may even be so bold as to say that any scientist that disputes the theory of evolution is not a scientist. However, there are many scientists that dispute the theory of evolution and the very definition of science requires that they be allowed to dispute the theory. As for this bias, the more Agnostic the person is, the less biased he or she is because the Agnostic is more willing to say, "I believe but I could be wrong." 2. "Fluffy Cloud Heaven". I refer you to the tv tropes website http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FluffyCloudHeaven. Related tv tropes of interest are "Fire and Brimstone Hell" http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FireAndBrimstoneHell and "Grandpa God" http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GrandpaGod. Basically the bias is to assume that God, Heaven and Hell have been defined for us by the popular media. Many Atheists then assume that all religious people have been indoctrinated to believe in these media defined concepts when the truth is, the concepts of God, Heaven and Hell that people believe in vary greatly and are typically nothing like what the media portrays. This bias leads people to look for the wrong evidence. We can find no evidence for Fluffy Cloud Heaven so if we assume that Fluffy Cloud Heaven is the definition of Heaven, we can assume that there is no such thing as Heaven. But if we look past the assumption and allow for other definitions of Heaven, then we need to open our minds to look for evidence of the alternative definitions of Heaven. Likewise, I have heard of the Santa Claus Syndrome which is when people assume that God is like Santa Claus or is in the same category as Santa Claus. Their pseudo-logical construct goes like this, God is like Santa Claus and there is no Santa Claus, therefore there is no God. The problem with that piece of pseudo-logic is the assumption that God is like Santa Claus. It is a bias that blinds people to see the evidence because they are looking for the wrong kind of evidence. They are looking for Santa Claus instead of for God. Maybe we should apply Feynman's philosophy to God and instead of asking whether there is a God or not, maybe we should approach the whole issue with an attitude of "I don't even know who God is but I'm trying to find out as much as I can about God". 3. "All religious people are alike". This bias places the entire world into an either/or, us or them mentality. This black and white thinking is a logical fallacy in and of itself. It is the very kind of fallacy that leads to prejudice, oppression, segregation, persecution, and even genocide. Some Atheists (not all) want to see all religious people exterminated or at the very least, placed in mental institutions until they can be "cured" of their religion. 4. "People are indoctrinated". This bias is partially true so I will give some credit to it. Some people are indoctrinated. I even spoke with a woman this morning who talked about how she had been indoctrinated and stayed a Catholic for forty years because of childhood indoctrination. But to assume indoctrination in all cases is a bias. It is also a bias to assume that the theory of evolution is not indoctrinated into children or to assume that Atheism is not indoctrinated into children. But people grow up and in many cases they question the beliefs they were raised on. Sometimes they even reject the beliefs they were raised on as I have rejected the theory of evolution. And people who have examined their beliefs and rejected indoctrination, now believe other beliefs that they weren't raised on.
  4. Deja Letov wrote: there is truly no point in even making a post like this except to get a rise out of people. You know the answer for yourself to every question asked...does it really matter what others think? Of course not...it's just a futile attempt at spreading the word of God around and attempting to convert people My hope is not to get a rise out of people. I do have a motive other than getting a rise out of people and other than trying to convert anyone. I'm aware of the risk but I'm hoping for something other than a feud of people trying to convert each other. I don't have the answer for every question. I know my own experience and that is all I know. I do care what other people think so long as those people don't discredit my experience. In fact, I really do want to know what other people think. Some have shared what they believe or think and that was great. But some have done nothing but criticize me for thinking. Like you haven't shared what you believe or what you think. I'd like to ask you the question you asked me. What do you believe and what is your evidence? I promise I will not accuse you of trying to convert me the way you are accusing me of trying to convert you.
  5. Eileen Fellstein wrote: I'm all fine and dandy with the 'Jesus loves me' stuff but when people go driving it into the heads of little kids 5 years old or less that they are going to burn in a lake of fire for eternity if they make a mistake and that they need to go force-feed this ideal to everyone they see or surely that fate will be theirs, I'm sorry, that's not only incorrect, it is wrong, cruel, abusive and quite honestly needs to be stopped at this point by any means mecessary. This paragraph of yours, I agree with. It is wrong and cruel to terrify anyone, let alone five year olds, into any belief system that condemns people for making mistakes. That kind of behavior does need to be stopped. It is those who indoctrinate five year olds that should be (and will be) condemned to Hell.
  6. Solaria Goldshark wrote: Without using coercion, perhaps you'd be so kind as to bestow upon us simpletons this amazing evidence you have for us to examine, since as you say, having examined the same evidence you have we would come to the same beliefs as you have. The entire flaw in your position is that troublesome issue of "Belief" The problem is that it is not my attempt to prove anything to you and it was never my attempt in the first place. My real objective is to ask whether people of differing beliefs can be friends or not. I used to believe that people of differing beliefs could be friends but the more feedback I get from the forum, the more I begin to doubt that people of differing beliefs can be friends. The more aggressive people are to try to get me to change my beliefs, the more I wonder if it's even possible for a Christian, an Atheist, and a Muslim to have a CIVIL conversation. I will share my evidence, not in any attempt to coerce you or force you to believe as I do, but just out of hopefully friendly dialogue. I cannot share all the evidence I have because there's just too much but I'll share some of the most memorable. For nearly my entire life, I have had respiratory problems. My nose was nothing but problems. I went to doctors and their treatments helped. I even had surgery but the doctors said that some of the problems were too deep and they didn't want to risk trying to fix it. So I was resigned to live the rest of my life with repiratory problems. I was not seeking a healing. I was not looking up any miracle workers. I'd given up. Then three people from church spontaneously prayed for my nose and within a week, the problem went away and has never come back. Not only can I breath, I can smell things that I never could smell before. Before October 3, 2008, I was in major financial trouble. I was regularly coming up in debt at the end of each week despite all my best efforts to manage my money. It was supernatural why I was in so much debt. All the searching I did through my records could not find where the money was disappearing to. It was just disappearing. On October 3, 2008 I had a life changing encounter with God. The next week, I had thirty dollars left at the end of the week. The week after that, I had three hundred dollars left at the end of the week. The next week after that, I had six hundred dollars at the end of the week. I'm not wealthy but God has helped me not be so desperately poor. God has also spoken to me. Now I'm sure several of you are gonna accuse me of being schizophrenic but this was not a delusion. God didn't speak in audible words. He's a spirit. But it was absolutely convincing that it was God and not a demon or my imagination. Frequently, I have also been impressed by God's timing. I've gotten sick at the best times I could have gotten sick. God is not similar to Santa Claus in any way. God makes it rain on everyone, good or evil. But . . . Romans 8:28 NASB And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. In other words, God doesn't prevent Christians from suffering but directs the suffering for our benefit. I have seen this time and time again in my life. I've had some horrible things happen in my life but do to timing or some other circumstance, even the most horrible thing wound up benefitting me. I'm not just talking about "that which doesn't destroy us makes us stronger" I'm talking about it as if God was an athletic trainer purposefully controlling when I hurt so that I would get the most benefit from it. That has been one of the most significant miracles in my life, the amazing timing of God. I'm not a great person. I struggle a lot. I have faith though that God will see me through this year. If God doesn't exist, I'm going to wind up homeless because I don't have enough of an income to keep paying the rent. In fact, if it wasn't included in the rent, I wouldn't have internet and wouldn't be able to write to you. My life is scary right now but God has seen me through scary times in the past so I know he will continue to see me through. There is my evidence of why I believe. The reason I can't convince you is because it's all experiential and you've had different experiences. I respect that. So I'm not even going to try to convince you of anything. I'm only asking that you respect my experiences. My experiences are my own.
  7. Sorry if I haven't responded in a while, I've been a little busy with real life. You'll just have to entertain yourselves for a while.
  8. What you are doing is taking a single sentence of what I said and treating it as if it was the whole point of what I said. The truth is, you can throw out that sentence completely for all I care, because it has almost nothing to do with my point.
  9. No, I'm merely pointing out how inneffective coercion is. You can't force someone to change their mind because minds don't change as easily as flipping a coin. So it is a valid point to say that people can choose to "purposely exposing themselves to ideas they think might change their mind". It does not contradict what I said because I was talking about coerced or forced changes of belief.
  10. Pavanne wrote: But to try and conclude from this that there is no choice is not only erroneous, you just can't get there from here. This is what I was referring to in my post. You said that I conclude that there i no choice. If you had read what I wrote, you would have seen that I said we do have a choice. We cannot choose what we believe but we can choose how we handle evidence. Your messages are failing because you are completely missing the point. Of course some Balkans chose to look at the evidence and therefore rejected racism. What I'm saying is they didn't one day wake up and say, "I think I'll be a racist today" and then wake up another day and say, "I think I'll stop being a racist today." First they examined their beliefs. That is a choice. Examining their beliefs led to a change of beliefs. Hypothetical: Someone chooses to let his dog outside without a leash and this choice leads to his dog being picked up by the pound. That person didn't choose to have his dog picked up by the pound but he did have a choice that led to his dog being picked up by the pound. What I am saying is we choose to examine evidence and by examining evidence, that leads to a change of belief. We didn't choose the belief but we chose to examine the evidence that led to the change of belief.
  11. You really misquoted me. You have me saying what someone else said, attributing their words to me as if I said them. I don't want to debate you and I don't appreciate you introducing a debate into this thread. I was talking about coercion not creation. Please don't hijack this thread and change the subject.
  12. Qie Niangao wrote: There was a time when religious beliefs caused tribal rivalries. Now causality is reversed. Watching the GOP convention, I'm convinced the same reversal is now happening in US politics. That's a bold statement to make. What evidence do you have "There was a time when religious beliefs caused tribal rivalries. Now causality is reversed."
  13. Deja Letov wrote: I think I understand what you meant when you say it, but as Celestiall stated, her argument is valid is well. But here is the only problem I see with this thought. As a Christian, you don't have to use any coercion type tactics to try and sway people into believing what you believe because you have the bible to do it for you. It's a main reason why people who are debating religion always quote the bible. The bible is one of the biggest methods of coercion known to man. It uses fear and punishment to coerce and has since it's inception. It's probably the single biggest reason why religion has survived as long as it has. It depends on how you use the Bible. I admit that some people use the Bible in a coercive way but that doesn't make the Bible coercive. People can and do use sticks in a coercive way. Should we ban all sticks because of how they can be used? Those that use the Bible in a coercive manner are often people who pick and choose certain verses and take those verses out of context. They are fond of certain passages that they can use to prove their biased view. They frequently search the Bible looking for passages that support what they already believe blinding themselves to any scriptural passage that they disagree with. They are as bad in the way they handle scripture as they are in the way they handle evidence.
  14. Ceka Cianci wrote: "bejjinks wrote: But I will only stand against coercion because I believe that if people would honestly look at the evidence without dogma, without bias, without coercion, than people would come to the same beliefs I have." so now that the misquoting is set to the side ..what do you think about what i said in my first post rather than what i did? I still believe that if people would honestly look at the evidence without dogma, without bias, without coercion, than people would come to the same beliefs I have. But that's just my opinion and you are free to disagree and believe differently.
  15. To those of you who keep insisting that brainwashing is easy and especially to those who claim that parents brainwash their children into religious beliefs, here's my reply. Boo hoo. Pity Pity. You can't take the responsibility for your own gullibility so you have to blame it on others. "Yes judge, I let that mean old woman convince me that blue balloons float and green balloons sink. It's all that mean old woman's fault. We must enact laws preventing people from speaking because all they have to do is say something and I believe them without question. But it's not my fault. I'm the victim here." Madelaine, you didn't brainwash those kids. Those kids chose to listen to you and believe you. But those kids will eventually figure out that you were lying and then they'll never trust you again. And Deja, if you were brainwashed, why aren't you a Catholic now? Propaganda is not the same as brainwashing. Propaganda still leaves you with a choice of whether to accept it or not. If people accept the propaganda then the people who accepted the propaganda are at fault. They're not brainwashed. They're just blinding themselves to the evidence.
  16. 16 wrote: bejjinks wrote: The number one phrase I find most annoying is "I just read your profile and I'm in love" This isn't a Second Life phrase but it is something I get often in all kinds of forums. What's really annoying is that I get this phrase whether I've filled out my profile or left it blank. It make me wonder what in the world did they fall in love with? They certainly didn't fall in love with me. as you say people shape things as they want with the blank profile the thought mostly goes that i can help make you over into the being that you most desire to be in SL. is mostly thought of as a kind thing this. the motivation being that i would love to help you with this if is ok with you is true that sometimes some people will troll you about a blank profile. but most times not i dont find I think people see a blank profile as an opportunity to make me into who they want me to be. They're looking for the man of their dreams and see that I'm a man with a blank profile so they feel they can write my life into existence perfectly suited to satisfy their own personal fantasy.
  17. Ceka Cianci wrote: i don't believe that parents brain wash their kids.. i believe they raise thier kids.. cults and governments and society are what try to brainwash the kids.. a christain or whatever religions parent is not looking to brainwash their kids..they are doing what they feel is the right way to raise their kids..just as someone that does not believe in a higher power would.. parents just try to do the best they can do and hope that when it's time for the kids to move on that they keep some of what they have learned.. sure there are extremists in the mix..but for the most part i believe their intentions are meant as the best they can give for their kids.. be it any sort of family value system.. I agree with you
  18. VRprofessor wrote: Adding just a bit: Science concerns itself with the natural world. God exists in the supernatural world. Any one who claims a "scientific analysis" of the evidence for/against God is speaking nonsense. In the usual and scientific sense there can be no "evidence" of/against God. There can be only what you feel and believe. Those who confuse religion and science diminish both. True but not all evidence is of a scientific nature. Some of the evidence they accept in a legal courtroom would not pass the strict rigors of a scientific journal. There is evidence of God. The evidence is all around us. But the scientific community rejects most of this evidence because it doesn't fit on a microscope slide. So we can't prove the existence of God scientifically but that does not mean we lack evidence.
  19. Pavanne wrote: To the OP: Nice try (that's the kinder way of saying FAIL). There's what you believe and what I believe, and there's what I would like to believe, and what I refuse to believe, and what I don't believe and there's one thing they all have in common. None of them is the same as what it true and proven. All religions deal with mystery, the unknown and the unprovable. There is no need for faith when there are facts. But there is a very strong, human need to seek answers to the mysteries of life. People know for a fact that life is a temporary state. They know that good and evil exist. And they try to make sense of this. They don't all come up with the same answer. Not everyone even agrees on the questions or their importance. But to try and conclude from this that there is no choice is not only erroneous, you just can't get there from here. I did say we have a choice. Did you read the entire thing or are you just responding to the title?
  20. Bree Giffen wrote: I have a sneaking suspicion that the original poster is actually a Satanist. Only one who embraces Satan's teachings would write this stuff. I sometimes wonder if Bree is a Pharisee. If we're going to start making blind accusations than may I remind you that Jesus, who shared meals with prostitutes and sinners, cursed the Pharisees.
  21. No, they can't all be right. But don't take my word for it. If you take my word for it than you'll also be guilty of bias and dogma. Examine the evidence for yourself. Come now, and let us reason together. Isaiah 1:18a
  22. Celestiall Nightfire wrote: I agree! So, you're now an atheist same as me right? Because, if you would honestly look at the evidence, without dogma, with bias, without coercion, then you would come to the same beliefs I have. (Do I even need to point out the failure of your logic?) You BELIEVE that "if you would honestly look at the evidence, without dogma, without bias, without coercion, then you would come to the same beliefs I have. " Don't forget the word believe. It's an important word. If I had neglected to say the word believe than I would have been making a statement and than you would be right to point out the illogic behind my statement. But I wasn't making a statement. I was expressing a belief and with beliefs, you are free to have a different belief. I was only expressing the belief to explain why I don't feel the need to be coercive. I was not stating that you should believe as I do.
  23. when you say..if people would be honest and look at evidence that they would come to believe as you..then you have strayed from most of what you have said..you have ignored their beliefs as even being in the equasion of being true.. You are quoting me out of context and therefore misquoting me.
  24. I'll use a hypothetical argument. Let's pretend I'm trying to convince you to believe in the Spaghetti Monster. I don't believe in the Spaghetti Monster. I seriously doubt anyone actually believes in the Spaghetti Monster. One can lie and claim to believe in the Spaghetti Monster but what one claims to believe and what one believes are not always the same. Just as a person can claim to be a Christian and in truth be an Atheist or a person can claim to be an Atheist and in truth be a Muslim, I'm going to claim to believe in the Spaghetti Monster for the purpose of this hypothetical. Because of Freedom of Speech, I have the right to claim to believe in the Spaghetti Monster. I have the right to announce it in public. To try to silence me would be to oppress my civil liberties. I also ought to be willing and allowed to explain why I believe in the Spaghetti Monster. Although the law does not require me to explain myself to you, it is a common courtesy that if you ask me why I believe in the Spaghetti Monster, I ought to give you an answer. However, people abuse Freedom of Speech when they go beyond merely expressing their beliefs. When people try to use coercion, manipulation, mockery or deception in order to change the beliefs of others, that is abuse of the Freedom of Speech. In other words, it is okay for me to say that I believe in the Spaghetti Monster because the spaghetti I ate last night is still talking to me. What is not okay is for me to go on the offensive and attack you simply for not believing the same way I do. I wouldn't be able to change your beliefs anyway. I could coerce you to verbally deny your beliefs under threat of death. I could even pressure you into claiming to believe whatever I force you to claim to believe. But deep down inside everyone has a natural resistance that will hold onto beliefs and resist any and all forces that attempt to change ones beliefs. Beliefs can be changed but they cannot be changed by force. Let's talk about brainwashing for a little bit so I can illustrate what I mean. I am a psychologist so I do know about brainwashing. Yes, brainwashing is real but it is not as common as some people think it is. In order to brainwash someone, you would first have to weaken the natural resistance everyone has. This can be done through hunger or tiredness. This is why nearly all cults expect the cult members to live within the cult compound where the cult leaders can control their eating and sleeping keeping the people hungry and tired and therefore easier to brainwash. There are other ways to weaken a person's natural resistance such as through drugs but it is impossible to brainwash the average person because the average person has a natural resistance that is so strong that the average person is immune to brainwashing. Another way to weaken natural resistance is through abuse. Even little children have a natural resistance to brainwashing but if a child is abused, that natural resistance is weakened and the child becomes vulnerable to brainwashing. However, brainwashing is easy to reverse. You don't have to kidnap a brainwashed person. You don't have to yell at a brainwashed person, beat a brainwashed person, deprive him or her of sleep or food. A lot of these deprograming scams are in reality reprogramming scams. In other words, they replace one form of brainwashing with another form of brainwashing. To reverse brainwashing, all you really have to do is let the brainwashed person recover his or her health. Give them wholesome food to eat. Let them get a good nights sleep. Give them some time to collect their thoughts. Given time to recover, the person's natural resistance will reassert itself, will reject all the brainwashing, and will come back to a pleasant and rational relationship with others. Even children who were raised in abusive homes have recovered and gotten on with a normal life. Subliminal messages are a form of brainwashing but like I said about brainwashing, the average person has a natural resistance. You hear studies about how subliminal messages have been used to increase sales of hot dogs. The reality is that among the audience, there were people who were hungry and therefore had a temporary weakness in their natural resistance. So when the subliminal message went out suggesting that they buy a hot dog, those poor hungry folks thought that would be a great idea. There's no magic here folks. There's no one causing anyone to do, believe or say anything that isn't already in their heart or mind to do, believe or say. Subliminal messages can only influence a person such as increasing or decreasing a person's desire. Subliminal messages cannot reprogram anyone. Everyone is born with a natural resistance to being reprogrammed. This also speaks about music, video games and other forms of entertainment. Violent video games do not cause people to become violent. Instead, if a person already has a violent tendency, the violent video game can increase the tendency that person already has. Or the violent video game can influence the way the violent person expresses his or her violent tendency. But the entertainment industry cannot be blamed when a violent person chooses to play a violent video game. As much as everyone wants to blame the media, the only agenda the media has is to make money by selling what people want to buy. Therefore, everyone is to blame for wanting to buy garbage. It is almost impossible to change a person because that person will resist change and that natural resistance to change is extremely strong. The average person's ability to resist change is many times stronger than the most coercive person's ability to manipulate. You've heard the saying, "You can fool some of the people all of the time and you can fool all of the people some of the time but it is impossible to fool all of the people all of the time." People will overcome all attempts at coercion, manipulation or deception eventually. A few may be brainwashed but the majority will rebel against manipulative tactics. Therefore, there must be more to the major religions than brainwashing and deception. Brainwashing and deception can only fool a small number of people temporarily so if that is all that religion is, than there would be no major religions. If brainwashing and deception was all there was supporting a religion, than all religions would only have a few hundred followers and would typically have the same lifespan as the human leader. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter. When the religious leader dies, if the cult was based on brainwashing and deception, the cult would also die. So there has to be some truth, some logic, some genuine evidence behind the major religions in order for them to grow strong with numbers in the millions and in order for them to last for thousands of years. Now I am not saying that each religion is one hundred percent true. That's impossible. What I'm saying is that each religion would fall apart if there wasn't some kernel of truth behind it. If the religion was one hundred percent a lie, too many people would see through the lie and too many people would reject the religion and the religion would cease to exist. It is possible that people misinterpret the evidence. We see a rain cloud in the sky and we interpret that evidence to mean that it's going to rain but it doesn't always rain when we see a rain cloud and sometimes it rains when we don't see a rain cloud. People see evidence of God and they interpret that to mean that God will smite you if you don't wear the correct religious symbol. People can be confused and misunderstand the evidence that they have. But the point I'm trying to make is that they have evidence. The major religions could not exist if they did not have evidence. So don't assume that they are all brainwashed or idiots or liars. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they are making the best interpretation they can of the evidence they have. We cannot choose what we believe but we do have a choice and a responsibility. Each of us has a choice in how we handle evidence. Do we change our beliefs to match the evidence or do we attempt to alter the evidence to match our beliefs. To only look at evidence that supports what you already believe is wrong. To be dogmatic is to hold onto your beliefs despite the evidence. To be a dogmatic Christian is to believe that what the Christian leaders say is one hundred percent true and to refuse to even consider the possibility that the Christian leader can be wrong. To be a dogmatic Atheist is to believe that there is no God and to refuse to even consider the possibility that there might be a God. A dogmatic approach to evidence is wrong. We cannot choose what we believe but we can choose to allow the evidence to convince us or we can choose to blind ourselves to the evidence. We cannot choose what we believe but we can make false claims about our beliefs. I can claim to be a Christian. I can do what many people do, walk into a church once, say the sinner's prayer, announce to the people in the church that I believe in God, and than walk out the door to carry on my life as if there was no God. But none of that changes what I believe. If claiming to be something is all that is necessary than you could claim to be a Christian one day, a Muslim the next day, an Atheist the next day, and keep going through all the religions until you're covered. Than when you die, you'll be welcome in every afterlife location if a verbal acknowledgment was all it took to gain access. You must truly believe and in order to do that, you must take an honest look at the evidence. Are you only looking at the evidence that supports what you want to believe? Are you making up evidence to support what you want to believe? Are you dogmatically holding on to what you believe and refuse to look at evidence that suggests you might be wrong? I cannot convince anyone of anything. Either you are so dogmatic that you refuse to look at the evidence or you are taking the responsibility to examine the evidence for yourself. If you are taking the responsibility to examine the evidence for yourself, then I'm not the one convincing you. If you are taking the responsibility to examine the evidence for yourself and you decide that I am right, than you are the one who convinced yourself and I didn't do anything except present evidence. You are the one who decides whether to take an honest look at the evidence or whether to reject the evidence because you are afraid of being proven wrong. If you are taking the responsibility to examine the evidence for yourself, than you can claim the decision as yours, not something that was put upon you by someone else. And you can take confidence in the knowledge that you were wise enough to recognize that you don't have all the answers, that you are wiser than those fools who claim to know everything. You examined the evidence for yourself instead of merely reading about it in Wikipedia or some college textbook. I have examined the evidence for myself. I have taken the responsibility and in wisdom acknowledged that I don't have all the answers. By examining the evidence for myself, I am convinced that God is real. I am convinced that God created the universe. I am convinced that God is a just God punishing those who do wrong. And I am convinced that God is a loving God who looks for opportunities to forgive and he even set aside his glory and endured the shame of death on a cross in order to make a way for us to be forgiven. If you would like me to explain why I believe what I believe, I will give an explanation. What I do not want to see though is any dogmatic attempt to coerce me into changing my mind. Coercion is wrong and if you want an ally in the fight against coercion, I'm your ally. Even if they claim to be Christians and claim to believe as I believe, I will stand against any who use coercion. But I will only stand against coercion because I believe that if people would honestly look at the evidence without dogma, without bias, without coercion, than people would come to the same beliefs I have. To convince people of the truth, coercion isn't necessary. Coercion is only necessary if you are trying to convince people of something you don't have confidence in yourself. That's why I so hate it when Muslims try to use coercion. That's why I so hate it when Atheists try to use coercion. That's why I so hate it when even so-called Christians try to use coercion.
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