Well okay then. While I consider myself a Roman Catholic and believe Christ to be Son of God who sacrificed himself to pay humanity's debt, I do not believe that people attain salvation/enlightenment through a belief or knowledge of the Christian faith. For example, is Peasant Bob in Gupta India doomed to eternal hellfire because he did not believe in Christ and his sacrifice, much less know it existed? What I am saying here is that I dont believe that people are saved by special knowledge. I believe Jesus was God-incarnate, yet around the world, when you study religions like Hinduism, Islam, Confucianism, Taoism, and even atheistic faiths like Buddhism, the core beliefs are altruistic ones. Do unto others as you would like done unto yourself, fight injustice wherever you see, a worldwide call to fight evil and serve your fellow man, to quote a Christmas jingle, do good for good's sake. I believe that at their basic levels, all altruistic religions have been inspired by God and that all these paths lead to the same destination, the advancement of man from the child-like phase we exist in now. I say childlike because I believe human beings have the potential to rise above our station, to love, care, and help each other unconditional while working to create a better reality than what we have had before, to be more like God, yet like children, we are inhibited by our almost limitless capacity to harm and do evil to one another. To quote the anime series Cowboy Bebop "there is nothing more sadistic than a child." I believe God, through the altruistic religions, seeks to help us, to teach us that we should love another and be more like Him, yet He simply cannot force us to do what we should do. To force us to do good would be a violation of our free will and would corrupt whatever lessen we were being. God will always be there to comfort, teach, and help us if we let Him, yet we must also work to advance ourselves. God will help, but we cant expect Him to do everything.
Ultimately I believe human beings experience the Divine in a subjective manner. Someone see's a particularly powerful natural phenomena, another visits a sacred religious site and is overcome with awe and other powerful emotions. While the skeptic in me says that is perfectly natural for one to feel awe-inspired by a powerful force, the mystic in me believes that humanity is searching for something grander, something more beautiful and perfect than we can even imagine.
In short, I am a universalist because I believe that various religions throughout the are altruistic in nature and are ultimately inspired by God, that special knowledge isn't the key to enlightenment or salvation, and that ultimately God wishes to see us grow and be more like Him, but we must work to do good, to devote our lives to altruistic pursuits. What im saying is I dont believe there is a measuring device that grants to salvation to people who achieve X number of karma points, but that we must give ourselves over totally, in both mind and body, to helping others and trying to be more like God. We will fail of course, but it is our desire to do better, to leave behind our immature hatreds and vices, that leads to our salvation.
I realize I haven't fleshed it out all that well and that it may be confusing to read, but I hope that helps a bit.
I disagree with mitch over works, faith, and how exactly we achieve salvation. Mitch comes from the Protestant camp of Christianity and adheres to Justification by Faith, or Sola Fide. He believes that we are saved by our faith in God and His sacrifice alone. X number of good works will not save you, however, he also believes Faith without works is essentially dead. I come from the Catholic tradition which believes that justification is through both faith and works. A man will be measured up to his works, to show who among us is truly righteous and faithful. Ultimately I reject Mitch's interpretation because if Peasant Bob in 4th century India had never heard of Christianity, he would not be able to be saved by an act of faith, and according to several sects, would be doomed to hellfire and such, although I am pretty sure Mitch does not believe anything like that. As I stated previously, I believe all human beings can achieve salvation through altruistic actions/works. After all, a good work done for selfish or evil reasons isn't necessarily a good work.
I mainly join these forums to learn about other people's views on faith, the divine, and whatnot. Thing I've noticed a while on forums is that atheists, either through their views on religion, or through baiting by theists, usually spend more time arguing with the religious rather than talking about their beliefs, how they live their lives, and whatnot. I guess im saying I'd rather hear atheists say how they live their lives rather than argue about the authenticity of Christ's foreskin supposedly in some church in Syria.
Last edited by KomradRed
on Fri Oct 02, 2009 1:41 am, edited 2 times in total.
It was a species which often considered itself to be, basically, a race of divinely inspired toolmakers; and intelligent entity from Arcturus would instantly have perceived them to be, basically, a race of impassioned after-dinner speech makers.