Forum Posts

disciplesandfriends
Aug 05, 2021
In Help Cathy Write Her Book
I'm thinking about talking the difficulties of creating a stable ethical system that doesn't start with a series of unprovable assumptions (divine revelation or the equivalent). An acquaintance of mine is convinced that the inherent nature of logic implies the existence of ethics and he can put up a pretty good, albeit somewhat convoluted, argument which, of course, I feel perfectly able to destroy due to the argument's (ahem) fatal flaws of logic. But I figured I'd get comments on the first six chapters before I decide what should go in Chapter 7. So, what should go in Chapter 7?
0
0
11
disciplesandfriends
Aug 05, 2021
In Help Cathy Write Her Book
Invitation to the Study of Religion Chapter 6 - “I try to be a nice person.” Is it enough? Evil exists. What are we going to do about it? People who are practicing members of a religion find an answer in their faith. Their faith teaches them how to identify, avoid, and oppose evil. Possibly their answers are divinely inspired. But even leaving God and divine inspiration out of it, it is fair to say that the answers offered by the religious faiths have been carefully thought out by generations of people working from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives. Often, the answers taught by different faiths overlap. Where the prophets and teachers of two or three different religious traditions have followed their own paths and reached similar conclusions about how to identify and oppose evil, this looks like reliable guidance. Secular people do not benefit from religious traditions. If you ask them, What are you doing to fight evil? They will look at you nervously, like you are a bit strange, and edge away from you muttering something along the lines of, “I try to be a nice person.” At the conclusion of Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises, the heroine, Lady Brett Ashley makes a personal sacrifice in order to help someone she cares about. Talking to a friend, Jake Barnes, afterwards, she explains that she feels better for what she’s done. Brett Ashley: "You know it makes me feel rather good deciding not to be a bitch." Jake: "Yes." Brett Ashley: "It’s sort of what we have instead of God." Lady Brett has, in fact, been generous. She has made a real sacrifice. There’s a lot to be said for “deciding not to be a bitch”, or, to use the more common phrase, “trying to be a nice person.” But “nice” is a pretty amorphous concept. What does “nice” actually mean, anyway? As far as I can see, “being nice” means, trying to remain on friendly terms with friends and neighbors and co-workers, following the customs and rules of good behavior as generally understood in one’s community, not offending anybody. The problem with this is, the phrase “I try to be a nice person” doesn’t give us any firm principles. It’s another way of saying, “I try to fit in and avoid offending anyone.” When there’s a division of opinion among the people around us, when there is conflict, one has to choose sides. It is not possible to fit in or avoid conflict. “I try to be a nice person” doesn’t tell us what to do. “I try to be a nice person,” is not a solution to the problem of evil. Many secular people have tried to construct ethical systems separate and apart from religion. They believe they can find a stable ethical system based on logic, science, human psychology, an ethical system which exists separate and apart from any supernatural belief system. This is pretty hard to do. Just for starters, people from different cultural backgrounds often disagree sharply over ethics. Why should one culture’s view of ethics be deemed superior to another culture’s view? Many secular people choose to accept multiculturalism: each culture chooses its own belief system, one isn’t better than another. The problem with multiculturalism is the same as the problem with “trying to be a nice person.” Multiculturalism works great in theory, as long as each culture exists in its own separate compartment where its own rules are enforced on the members of the culture. But cultures don’t exist in separate compartments. When there’s a conflict and one has to choose sides, how do we choose which culture’s rules to follow? Are we bound to always accept our own culture’s rules and always reject the rules of other cultures? If not, then when are we free to disregard our own culture’s rules? Some seek to find meaning in political action, working for a more just society. The problem with politics is that, in practice, political action is 5% about justice and 95% about seeking power, money, and status for oneself and one’s allies. In the real world, we are under great pressure to recognize the differences between good and evil and make choices accordingly. Secular ethical systems developed by philosophers aren’t very helpful, as far as I can see, multiculturalism is equally unhelpful, and politics is disappointing. “Being a nice person” only works as long as you aren’t responsible for anything, don’t have to make decisions that affect other people’s lives, and don’t have to make choices. For a person who takes responsibility and makes choices, it seems to me that an ethical system based on one of the world’s great religions is by far the best guide to action. “I try to be a nice person,” is an inadequate response to reality. Those of us who wish to avoid evil find ourselves pressured, by logic and by practical considerations, to choose a supernatural view of the universe. In simplest terms, as far as I can see, the best way to avoid or oppose evil is to choose to believe in God.
0
0
7
disciplesandfriends
Aug 05, 2021
In Help Cathy Write Her Book
Invitation to the Study of Religion Chapter 5 - Assuming God exists, why should we believe He (or She or It) is good? The Problem of Evil Mystics consistently report that the God they perceive is a benign God. The three great western religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – insist that God is good. These same religions insist that God is also all powerful. In response to this characterization, skeptics point out that the world is full of apparently-pointless misery and cruel injustice. There can’t possibly be a good and all powerful God, because if God were both good and all powerful, He wouldn’t allow evil to exist. This difficulty, sometimes called “the problem of evil”, offers a powerful argument against the existence of God, at least against the existence of God as conceived by the great western religions. David Hume, the British philosopher mentioned in the last chapter, presents this argument persuasively in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. (If you want to fully understand the skeptics’ case against religion, Hume is a good place to start.) People who believe in God have made various attempts to respond to this argument, some more persuasive and better thought out than others. None of the responses, to my way of thinking, is satisfactory. I will, however, offer a partial response based on my own experience, which is, there are two different ways of looking at the problem of evil, and the conclusion one draws is different depending on which perspective one finds more compelling. One can pose the two alternative perspectives as questions: 1. Evil exists. Why would a good and all powerful God permit evil to exist? 2. Evil exists. What are we going to do about it? ____________ I am a lawyer and once, years ago, I was working on a murder case. A woman’s boyfriend abused, raped, and murdered the woman’s two year old daughter. In order to assist me in my work on the case, I was given the exhibits offered into evidence at trial, one of which was a photograph of the little girl taken approximately two weeks before her death. It was professional photograph, the kind of photograph that many families get once a year at Christmas, or on a child’s birthday. This one was a Christmas portrait. I propped the photograph on my desk where I could see it every day, because I wanted to think about it. I still remember it well. There she is, a pretty little girl in her red and green plaid taffeta Christmas dress. She is smiling slightly as she looks to her right, looking at someone we cannot see, but her eyes are sad. Anyone sensitive to children will realize that this is an unhappy child who has been coaxed to smile. Looking at the photograph with the wisdom of hindsight, it appears obvious that she is already being abused. Why did no one save this child, whose suffering is so apparent that it shows in a Christmas photograph? There was a person who was supposed to save her, but that person failed. The person was a social worker at the Department of Public Welfare. The way she failed was this. At the beginning of December, the little girl’s grandparents contacted the state Department of Public Welfare to report that they had seen marks on the child’s body and the child seemed to be frightened of the mother’s boyfriend. They suspected abuse and asked for an investigation. The case was assigned to this social worker. She investigated, and her preliminary investigation was inconclusive. Two weeks later, the grandparents saw new marks on the child’s body and they called the Department a second time to report the new evidence of abuse. They asked that the investigation be treated as urgent, because they felt the child was in immediate danger. The receptionist who took the phone call prepared a written summary of the grandparents’ report, used a stamp to mark it “URGENT” in large letters, and placed it in the inbox of the social worker who had been assigned to work on the case. Usually, a second call on a case is provided to the social worker who took the first call. But a case marked “URGENT” is an exception to this rule. When a case is marked “URGENT” it must be investigated within 24 hours, so the file has to go to a social worker who is on duty. If the original social worker is on duty, it goes to the original social worker. But if the original social worker is not on duty for some reason – out sick or on vacation – it goes to someone who is on duty, someone who can investigate immediately. In this case, the receptionist checked to see whether the original social worker was on duty. There was a flag system to show who was, and who was not, on duty. The flag system showed the original social worker was on duty, so the receptionist put the URGENT report in the box of the original social worker, expecting the original social worker to investigate within twenty four hours. But the social worker did not investigate. The reason she did not investigate was, she did not receive the URGENT report because she was not really on duty. What happened was this. The report came in on a Friday afternoon, the week before Christmas, and the social worker had taken the afternoon off to go Christmas shopping. She didn’t want to use one of her scheduled vacation days to go Christmas shopping, so she didn’t take a vacation day. Instead, she simply sneaked out of the office a couple of hours early without telling anyone she was leaving. If she had been officially scheduled as “off duty/on vacation/out of the office”, the report marked “URGENT” would have been given to someone who was on duty, But the social worker didn’t take Friday afternoon as a scheduled vacation day because she didn’t want to use four hours of vacation time. She just took a late lunch and then didn’t come back to the office. She sneaked out. So the lady at the call desk thought the social worker was on duty and would return to the office to check her inbox before leaving for the weekend. The lady at the call desk put the “URGENT” report into the social worker’s box, carefully flagged, instead of giving it to someone else. The “URGENT” report was placed in the social worker’s box on Friday afternoon. The social worker found it when she returned to work on Monday morning, but it was too late. The child was murdered on Sunday. The child died, but the social worker got her Christmas shopping done, without having to use any of her precious paid vacation to do it. Merry Christmas. The sadness in the little girl’s face in her Christmas picture is a sadness that appears in the faces of other abused children. They suffer, they show their suffering on their faces to anyone who is willing to see it, then they die, they are killed, at the age of two or three or six. This is a common story. It happens in every country in the world. If God exists, if God is benign and all powerful as the three western religions insist, then why does He allow this to happen? Why does He not protect the children? It is very difficult to look at a photograph of a murdered child and believe in the existence of God. The argument against the existence of God, the problem of evil, is a very powerful argument. Many philosophers and theologians have tried to answer this argument. I have never found the standard theists’ answers to be persuasive. But, looking at that child’s picture day after day, and thinking hard about her situation, I realized that the problem of evil presented by the death of a child can be looked at from more than one perspective. So let’s consider a different perspective. Does evil exist? Anyone who has sat and looked at the photograph of a murdered child knows that evil exists. During my first three years practicing law, I worked as a court appointed criminal defense attorney and I, for one, saw plenty of evil. Anyone who has done this work has seen the darkest side of human nature. There are people who will tell you, “There is no such thing as evil.” This is a shallow piece of wishful thinking. Evil exists. This presents a second question. Is every person evil or potentially evil? Once one has seen the characteristics of cruelty, lack of empathy, selfishness, rage, dishonesty, carried to the extremes that lead to violent criminal actions, one learns to recognize these characteristics when displayed in milder form in ordinary people, “nice” people, the people next door, the person we see in the mirror. Evil, or at least the potential for evil, exists in every single person. This brings us to a different way to look at the problem of evil, a different question to ask. Evil exists. It exists within us and around us. So – what are we going to do about it? How do we identify evil, escape evil, oppose evil? All the major religions offer answers to these questions. The great religious leaders teach about evil, and their students, the brilliant and the ordinary, struggle with these teachings over a period of centuries. The conclusions that people reach through this struggle are taught from pulpits and written in books. For those who study religion, guidance is available. But many people don’t study or practice any religion. These people, the secular, will find guidance harder to come by. If I ask a secular person, “What are you doing to fight evil?” they will respond nervously, “I try to be a nice person” and they may express doubts about the existence of evil – it’s such a harsh word, it’s pretty judgmental to suggest that any person could be evil. Hmm. We’ll talk more about “being a nice person” in the next chapter. But for now, here is the rest of the story about the murdered child. The killer was convicted of first degree murder. At the sentencing hearing, there was evidence that he, himself, had been an abused child. This didn’t sway the jury and he was sentenced to death and electrocuted. So two people died, the child and the murderer. Two deaths. Were these deaths really the social worker’s fault? When she cheated – just a little bit – on her hours on the Friday before Christmas, she didn’t intend to hurt anyone, and she did what many of us might do in similar circumstances. She’d probably had a tough week. She might have worked late earlier in the week. She probably felt she deserved a couple of hours off. What caused the two deaths? My answer is, whole generations of people who acted like the social worker, that’s what. When the murderer was an abused child, he wore the look of sorrow on his face that is common among abused children. But “good people” in the community looked away, they did not feel it was their responsibility to inquire about this boy’s welfare. Maybe a few people tried, but they couldn’t get support. So the boy grew up to become a troubled adult, an abuser, and, ultimately, an evil person in his own right. And, once again, “good people” in the community looked away, they had better things to do. The final chance to derail this catastrophe occurred on the Friday before Christmas, when the social worker, who was probably a “nice person”, went Christmas shopping without signing herself out of the office. That apparently minor decision, a decision made by a “nice person,” was the final decision in a long list of decisions that resulted in two horrible deaths. And most of those wrongful decisions were acts carried out in violation of the direct, specific instructions of the personal God described by the three great western religions. I thought a long time about this child’s death, and the conclusion I came to was, God did not allow this child’s death to occur, God prohibited it. The two deaths – the child’s death and the murderer’s death - occurred because human beings, over and over again, deliberately violated the commandments of God as recorded by the prophets of the three great western religions. A death such as this child’s death presents us with two ways to look at the problem of evil. This death is an argument against belief in God, but it is also an argument for obedience to God’s commandments. My thinking about this child’s death was, I’ve seen enough evil to know I want to play for the other team. My search for the other team could have led me to Judaism or Islam, or perhaps to a non-western religion, but I eventually became a Christian. It seemed like the most practical choice. ________________________ But back to the original topic. The argument against the existence of God posed by “the problem of evil” is, there can’t possibly be an all powerful benevolent God because if there were such a God, He would not permit evil to exist. But it could also be said, evil does not exist because God permits it, to the contrary, God has expressly prohibited it. Evil exists because people are disobedient to God. This, however, is only a partial response to the argument against the existence of an all powerful benign God which follows from the problem of evil. This perspective – evil exists as the result of deliberate disobedience to God - deals with the type of evil that results from human failings - the desire to cheat a bit on one’s vacation time, for example. What about natural disasters? What about ravaging diseases such as cancer or the neurological diseases that happen without any cause that we understand, and proceed in spite of our best efforts to prevent the damage that occurs? In 1755, a terrible earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon. The French philosopher Voltaire wrote a famous, and angry, poem in which he argued that the Lisbon earthquake, and the terrible suffering that resulted, could not be justified as somehow compatible with a benign divine will. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/history-of-geology/november-1-1755-the-earthquake-of-lisbon-wraith-of-god-or-natural-disaster/ How can a horrible natural disaster which kills thousands of innocent people be reconciled with the idea that an all powerful benign divinity rules our universe? Answer: I don’t have an answer. But we are still faced with the practical problem. Evil exists. What are we going to do about it? On to the next chapter.
0
0
2
disciplesandfriends
Aug 05, 2021
In Help Cathy Write Her Book
Invitation to the Study of Religion Chapter 4 – How do we know whether or not “the Lord” exists? The short answer is, we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. A question of probability The best that most of us can do is observe what is around us, learn what science can tell us, study religion, and then try to reach a common sense or intuitive conclusion about whether some sort of God does or does not exist. For most people, the question is, What appears to be most likely? and we answer it to the best of our ability. The mystics One group of people, however, has a different perspective – that small group of people called “mystics.” Mystics are people who see and hear God, or, at least, they have a very strong subjective belief that they do. Unfortunately, true mystics usually don’t like to talk about their experiences, so it’s hard to locate a mystic, let alone get one to tell you about his, or her, experience of God. (I don’t take it on myself to judge other individuals, but as a general rule, I’m suspicious of people who get up on a stage and tell me God spoke to them, especially if they say God wants me to give them money!) I’ve known a few mystics, however, because mysticism runs in my family. Color blindness also runs in my family, so when I was a kid, I just assumed that being a mystic was sort of like having good color vision – some people see red and green, some people don’t; and some people see God, some people don’t. The mystics I grew up around were very normal people except that they occasionally saw or talked to God. As a kid, I naturally assumed that their account of what they experienced was true. My relatives are a pretty dependable bunch, if they told me they saw a car accident or a yellow cat or a beauty queen, I would believe them. So why wouldn’t I believe them when they tell me they saw God? Most of the mystics in my family were Christians, but my father was both a mystic and an agnostic. He was a nature mystic who experienced a sense of unity in the universe, but he did not experience the presence of a personal God, and since he was a skeptical minded person, he did not believe in a personal God. My Aunt Peggy sat at my father’s bedside when he was dying and asked him to pray with her and accept Jesus. My father laughed and waved her away, saying, “If God exists, He’s too smart to be fooled by a deathbed confession!” So mystics don’t all agree, but most of the mystics I’ve known have believed in a personal God because they saw Him or spoke with Him, and they are people I regard as truthful, so I reason today the same as I did when I was a kid. I think that those among my relatives who say they saw God, probably actually did see God. One of history’s most famous philosophers, Socrates, appears to have been some type of mystic. After Socrates’s death, Socrates’s student, Plato, wrote a work in which Plato quotes Socrates’ explanation of why he had dedicated his life to studying and teaching philosophy and here it is (The Phaedo, Benjamin Jowett’s translation of the original Greek): (Socrates, speaking to the poet Celes): In the course of my life, I have often had intimations in dreams “that I should make music.” The same dream comes to me sometimes in one form, and sometimes in another, but always saying the same or nearly the same words: Make and cultivate music, said the dream … I imagined … that this … was intended to exhort and encourage me in the study of philosophy, which has always been the pursuit of my life and is the noblest and best of music.” http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/phaedo.html Socrates goes on to explain that, now that he is at the end of his life, he is concerned that he may have misinterpreted the dream and failed to fulfill the command he was given in his dream – maybe he was supposed to, literally, compose and play music! Since he did not want to die without fulfilling the command, he has written a hymn to one of the Greek gods and set a few of Aesop’s fables to music. I don’t know whether hearing voices in dreams is the same sort of mystical experience as having a vision while awake. But Socrates was certain that he was hearing a divine command through his dreams, and he sounds a lot like my relatives. Skeptics often say, “There is no evidence that God exists.” If you see God with your own eyes, is that evidence? If a trustworthy friend or relative tells you he/she saw God, is that evidence? If a great philosopher tells you that a divinity spoke to him in his dreams, is that evidence? I think our society influences us, and sometimes even pressures us, to disbelieve in God, therefore sometimes we overlook the obvious. Modern neurobiologists are studying mystics to try to find out what is going on in their brains when they have visions. The scientists may find out something that helps explain mystics and/or God. I am always interested to read the latest research reports. Here’s a link to the Oxford Research Encyclopedias which gives a thumbnail sketch of the problem, including a brief explanation of the difference between agnostic mystics (like my father) and theistic mystics (like the rest of my relatives). Since the substantive research is always being updated and each update sparks a lot of controversial theories about what is really going on with mystics, I would suggest that anyone who is interested in the topic do a fair amount of reading to get a balanced understanding. And talk to a mystic, if you can find one willing to talk to you. But it’s hard to get them to talk. http://oxfordre.com/religion/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.001.0001/acrefore-9780199340378-e-3 Scientists and physicians Most scientists do not think God exists. However, scientists are divided on this issue. [1] Physicians (medical doctors) are more likely to believe in God than scientists. [2] Dr. Sarah Salviander, an astrophysicist, was raised by atheist parents but converted to Christianity while in graduate school. She earned her Ph.D. in astrophysics and became a research scientist and a Christian evangelist. She blogs here: https://sarahsalviander.com/ A friend of mine, a biochemist, grew up in an agnostic/Jewish family. One night while he was working late in the laboratory, he was suddenly overwhelmed by how incredibly complex life is, how all sorts of things have to go exactly right and be perfectly coordinated in order for a person or animal to be alive. He decided on the spot that God must exist because all these things couldn’t possibly happen by accident, the odds against it are simply too great. He later converted to Christianity and eventually became a professor of biochemistry AND an ordained Baptist minister. The argument that converted my biochemist friend is sometimes called “the argument from design.” Why the name? The idea, in a nutshell is, the universe is too complicated to happen by accident, therefore someone (God) must have designed it. There are famous philosophical defenses of this argument and equally famous philosophical refutations of this argument. Having discussed two Christian scientists, I feel I should give equal time to the skeptics. A famous, and formidable, criticism of the argument from design was penned by the British philosopher David Hume, in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Part II. I have a friend who’s an atheist. He says that he read Hume as an undergraduate, and Hume convinced him that there was no rational basis for believing in God. (This friend also went on to complete his Ph.D, the atheists I know are just as smart as the Christians.) The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy includes a modern skeptical analysis of the argument from design. https://www.iep.utm.edu/design/ So, does God exist or not? Very bright and well educated people come down on both sides of the argument. You’re going to have to make up your own mind about it. But before we finish with this chapter, please let’s explode two myths: Myth 1: Atheists like to claim Einstein was an atheist, but this is incorrect. Myth 2: Religious people like to claim that Einstein believed in a personal God, the God of the three great western religions, but this is incorrect. Let’s let Einstein speak for himself, shall we? In January 1936, a school girl named Phyllis Wright wrote Dr. Einstein to ask what he believed about God and prayer. He answered her letter. My dear Dr. Einstein, We have brought up the question: 'Do scientists pray?' in our Sunday school class. It began by asking whether we could believe in both science and religion. We are writing to scientists and other important men, to try and have our own question answered. We will feel greatly honored if you will answer our question: Do scientists pray, and what do they pray for? We are in the sixth grade, Miss Ellis's class. Respectfully yours, Phyllis Dear Phyllis, I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer: Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish. However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science. But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive. With cordial greetings, your A. Einstein http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/05/dear-einstein-do-scientists-pray.html Einstein wrote some other letters on the topic, at a more sophisticated level. It would be fair to say that Einstein’s religious views cannot readily be pigeonholed. For myself, I am wary of those who claim the ability to either prove or disprove the existence of God. The universe is quite mysterious. Our understanding of it is incomplete. [1] A Pew poll taken in 2009 indicates that one third of all scientists believe in God. http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/ [2] A 2016 University of Chicago study indicates that a majority of physicians believe in God. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16050858
0
2
12
disciplesandfriends
Aug 05, 2021
In Help Cathy Write Her Book
Invitation to the Study of Religion Chapter 3: What does it mean? The statement which is the foundation for the three great western religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – is this: The Lord is one. The origin of this statement is Deuteronomy 6:4 (the Shema), which found its way forward into the Christian New Testament as Mark 12:29 (the Great Commandment) and became first half of the confessional statement of Islam, the Shahada. But what exactly does it mean? Um, that’s problematic. To begin with, the phrase “is one”, as written in the original Hebrew, can have more than one meaning. “Is one” could mean, is the only God that exists. “Is one” could mean, is the only God that we worship. (There may be some other gods existing out there, but we will not follow them!) “Is one” could mean, is the totality of the universe such that everything in the universe exists as part of God. What scholars think is --- any or all of these answers could be correct. And I’m not sure I’ve got a complete list. There may be more interpretations out there. Then there’s the other problem, which is even more confusing, the subject of this statement: The Lord. Do we know whether or not The Lord exists? If The Lord does exist, what sort of creature or person or thing is He, or She, or It? You really want to talk about these questions? This is gonna take awhile … Go to Chapter 4 for a partial answer.
0
0
7
disciplesandfriends
Aug 05, 2021
In Help Cathy Write Her Book
Invitation to the Study of Religion Chapter 2: Where to start? Question: How can I begin to learn about religion? Answer - A good place to begin is this statement: “The Lord is One.” This is a good place to start, because this statement is the foundation of all three great western religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. But what about non-western religions? No disrespect to non-western religions, but we have to start SOMEWHERE and here we are in the west, so, we might as well begin with: “The Lord is One.” For Jewish people – the Shema or Sh’ma: By tradition, Jewish men are expected to recite the prayer known as the Shema every morning and every night; Jewish women also recite it. This prayer begins with two verses from Deuteronomy: שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד Deuteronomy 6:4 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) (A:vi, S: v) 4 “Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad In English: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Followed by Deuteronomy 6:5 and, putting the two verses together : Adonai our God, Adonai is one; and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. If you want to hear a modern rendition of the Shema, go on YouTube and search for “Shema by Anna Brooks,” it’s beautiful. This YouTube video of two women singing the Shema is also beautiful: SHEMA | A Prayer for Israel (Hebrew and English) by Misha Goetz and Shae Wilbur In the second video, the gentle head bobbing motion of the woman on the left is called “davening” (verb, to daven). Orthodox Jews sometimes use this gentle rocking motion while praying. It looks odd (to me at least) when they do it in silence – but it makes perfect sense when you see it done in time to music. I’m going to guess that “davening” started as an accompaniment to musical prayer and then somehow carried over to silent prayer, but I don’t really know if this is true. For Christians – The Great Commandment Mark 12:28-30 New International Version (NIV) 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] Most scholars believe that, although Jesus spoke Aramaic Greek in daily life, he recited the Great Commandment in Hebrew because Jesus was an Orthodox Jew and therefore he would naturally say the Shema in Hebrew. Jesus went on to add, “Love you neighbor as yourself.” Many Christians speak of Jesus’s complete answer as Great Commandment. Putting the verses together, the Great Commandment goes like this: Mark 12:29-31 29 “The most important (commandment) is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Comment: I find it strange that Christians call this The Great Commandment, since it is actually two different commandments. What is the problem here, can’t Christians count? For Muslims – The Shahada The Shahada (Arabic: الشهادة‎ aš-šahādah [aʃ.ʃaˈhaːda] "the testimony") is an Islamic creed declaring belief in the oneness of God (tawhid) and the acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet. The declaration, in its shortest form, reads (right to left in Arabic): لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا ٱلله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱلله In transliteration: Ashadu an la ilaha illa illa-ilah, wa ashadu anna muhammadan rasul ullah. In English: There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Recitation of the Shahadah is the most important of the Five Pillars of Islam for Muslims and is performed daily as part of the Salat. If you want to learn how to say it correctly in Arabic, YouTube will help you. Look for this video: Shahada Step By Step Lesson (How To Convert To Islam) If you say the Shahada four times in the presence of witnesses and sincerely believe it to be true, congratulations, you have become a Muslim! ________________________________ From Wikipedia, the source of much truth and a few errors, this comparison of the Shema and the Muslim Sura 112: The words used in the Shema prayer are similar to the words of Sura 112 (Al-Tawhid or Monotheism) in Quran. The words "أَحَدٌ" in Arabic is identical to the word "אֶחָד" in Hebrew. Arabic: قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ‎ - Qul Huwa 'Llāhu ʾAḥad ("Say, He is Allah the One") Hebrew: :שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יהוה אֶחָד - Sh'ma Yisra'el YHVH Eloheinu YHVH Eḥad ________________________________ The resemblance between the Shema and the Shahada isn’t accidental. Islam was born in the 7th century in a region of the Middle East where there were many Jews, and Islam incorporates many ideas and teachings of Judaism. Then why do the Muslims and Jews in the Middle East have so much trouble getting along? The bitterest fights are family fights! But back to the study of religion. The statement, “The Lord is One” is the foundation statement for all three of the great western religions. So if you want to study religion, this statement is a good place to start. What does this statement mean? Go to Chapter 3!
0
2
7
disciplesandfriends
Aug 05, 2021
In Help Cathy Write Her Book
Invitation to the Study of Religion Introduction Question: Why should you take time to study religion? Answer: Or maybe I should say, a partial answer: The Pew Research Center tells us that, as of 2015, there were 7.5 billion people in the world. The large majority of these people belong to a religion. According to the Pew Research Center, the religious distribution is as follows: 2.3 billion Christians 1.8 billion Muslims 1.1 billion Hindu 0.5 billion Buddhist 0.01 billion Jewish (but that’s still a lot of people) 0.5 billion other religions, mostly folk religions 1.2 unaffiliated (no religion) In order to understand the people around us, in order to understand the world we live in, we need to have some understanding of religion. Do you want to walk around with blinders on? No? Study religion! Theology Lesson 1: Good and Bad Religious Leaders Religious teachings are intended to influence, and do influence, human feelings and behavior in important ways. So, as a first step in studying religion, it is wise to ask the question: Are all religions, and all religious leaders, equal? Is there any way to tell a good religious leader from a bad religious leader? Here’s advice from someone who knew something about religious leadership (Jesus): Look at results. Matthew 7:15-20 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” About thirty years after Jesus’ death, Paul, a famous Christian preacher, wrote a letter which can be used to interpret Jesus’s statement (Galatians 5:22-23): But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. So Jesus said, you can tell a good religious teacher from a bad one by looking at the results of the teaching. Taking what Jesus said together with what Paul said, the results of good teaching are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. ____________________________________________________ Here are a couple of questions that I sometimes wonder about: Why doesn’t Paul list courage and honesty as fruits of the spirit? Answer: I don’t know! You tell me! Another question: Why doesn’t Paul list “sense of humor” as a fruit of the spirit? For that matter, as far as I know, there is not a single religion that considers “having a sense of humor” to be a virtue. Why not? Answer: I don’t know!
0
1
14
disciplesandfriends
Aug 04, 2021
In Welcome to the Forum
This is your forum post. Forums are a great way to engage your audience in all types of discussions. Post relevant information to encourage engagement and collaboration. With full freedom to edit posts and add stunning media, managing your forum has never been easier. Make sure you’re on preview mode or on your live published site to modify your forum. You can edit and add new posts, and use categories to organize them by topic. Manage categories from preview mode, and add as many as you like to get the conversation started.
0
0
1
disciplesandfriends
Aug 04, 2021
In Welcome to the Forum
As the forum owner, you can assign new moderators from your live site. Having moderators is a great way to increase engagement and grow your community. There are certain actions that only forum owners and moderators are allowed to do on Wix Forum. They can block users, move posts from one category to another, and delete posts.
0
0
0
disciplesandfriends
Aug 04, 2021
In Welcome to the Forum
Your forum comes with a Member’s Area, which site visitors can use to get to know each other and personalize their profile pages. Members can also add new posts, write comments, and like posts. When visitors sign up as members, they can join conversations, follow posts, upload media, leave comments, and be notified of any new activity in discussions they’re following. Site owners can use Wix Chat to speak to both site members and visitors directly.
Introduce Yourself  content media
0
0
0
disciplesandfriends
Aug 04, 2021
In Welcome to the Forum
This is your forum post. Forums are a great way to engage your audience in all types of discussions. Post relevant information to encourage engagement and collaboration. With full freedom to edit posts and add stunning media, managing your forum has never been easier. Make sure you’re on preview mode or on your live published site to modify your forum. You can edit and add new posts, and use categories to organize them by topic. Manage categories from preview mode, and add as many as you like to get the conversation started.
Ask Anything content media
0
0
0
 

disciplesandfriends

Admin
More actions