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On 2 February 2007 it was widely reported that Edwards had lost his faith in God despite him once saying "My relationship with Jesus and God is fundamental to everything I do. I have made a commitment and dedication in that relationship to serve God in every area of my life."
The <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daily_Mail" title="Daily Mail">Daily Mail</a> described Edwards as a "man deeply troubled by the collapse of his Christian faith" but revealed that a friend said "[Edwards] has a deep, theological comprehension of the Bible, making his spiritual meltdown even more unlikely ... They still go to church as a family" The Daily Mail article also quoted Edwards as saying that he is going through a difficult period in his life, one that is deeply personal to him and his family such that he does not wish to comment on.
Edwards presented episodes of the Christian praise show <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songs_of_Praise" title="Songs of Praise">Songs of Praise</a> until 2007.
In an interview in <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Times" title="The Times">The Times</a> on 27 June 2007,Edwards said: "If there is no God, does that mean that life has no purpose? Does it mean that personal existence ends at death? They are thoughts that do my head in. One thing that I can say, however, is that even if I am unable to discover some fundamental purpose to life, this will not give me a reason to return to Christianity. Just because something is unpalatable does not mean that it is not true." Furthermore, in the interview with the Times he also stated "When you think about it rationally, it does seem incredibly improbable that there is a God." In the same interview he also said "I feel internally happier than at any time of my life." Edwards confirmed his rejection of Christianity in an interview on BBC Five Live Sportsweek on 29 July 2007
I'm not a believer in god, I only go to church for weddings, funerals and christenings.I would like to offer this, an excerpt from Jonathan's thoughts on why he gave up his faith as I feel it parallels some of my thoughts and the pressures placed upon myself as a child being forced to attend church as we all did back then.
Edwards was confronting an apocalyptic realisation: that it was all a grand mistake; that his epiphany was nothing more than self-delusion; that his inner sense of God’s presence was fictitious; that the decisions he had taken in life were based on a false premise; that the Bible is not literal truth but literal falsehood; that life is not something imbued with meaning from on high but, possibly, a purposeless accident in an unfeeling universe.
I guess that's the thing about free will. You can accept or deny the existence of God as you see fit. Jonathan Edwards has changed his mind and has chosen to deny. We should celebrate our freedom to choose.
I like a healthy debate. It is well known that I do NOT deny the existence of God - and He's a good running partner too.
So answer me this, if religion is free choice how come nearly all religious Europeans and Americans are Christain, nearly all Arabic countries Muslim, India is Hindu and so on. Given that large portions of the world beleive something differnt, what makes any one group think they have the correct answer. Can't they all be wrong?
Its down to indoctrination, not choice.
MF - Of course they can all be wrong, just as any variety of atheism and secularism can be wrong too.
Everybody lives within a culture and all of us are influenced by the assumptions and values of that culture. That doesn't mean that we don't have choice in those beliefs, but it does mean that our thinking will have been shaped in particular ways. Someone raised in a tradition of western materialism is likely to find it much harder to believe in God than someone raised in, say, a spiritualist worldview in Africa.
The word "indoctrination" gets misused in discussions about religion. Indoctrination means something very specific, i.e. imposing a set of beliefs through techniques of manipulation (in effect, brainwashing). There are religious groups that do that (they're usually called cults), just as there have been people who have attempted to indoctrinate atheism into populations, as in some Communist regimes. Responsible religious groups don't do that. Jonathan Edwards is a good example of someone changing his mind and being allowed to do so.
If you see everything as indoctrination, you then have to ask questions about your own views. Doesn't the fact that you've been raised in a predominantly secular culture mean that you're "indoctrinated" too? How can you be sure that your own views are anything more than cultural conditioning?
To me, it seems much more reasonable and realistic to think that all of us have free choice within certain limitations. All of us have been trained to think in certain ways by the culture(s) that we live in. Faced with a different belief system, we can ask questions of it: does it make sense? Is it satisfying? Is it consistent with other things that we believe to be true? From there, we can move towards making a decision about it.
I don't believe in god and I personally feel very hypocritical going to a religious ceremony (marriage, funeral etc) in a place of worship
I don't believe in the sentiments or prayers and my beliefs also mean that I don't sing hymns (luckily for everyone else!!) and can't get married in a church
I will also say that this isn't limited to christian ceremonies, but all religion
So then Aardvark, what would you call the baptising of a small child who is not able to freely make his mind up as to whether he/she want to become a christian as a choice of their own free will, Would you call it an "Induction" or "Introduction"
Seems to me as if the choice has already been made.
Well, personally I'm not in favour of infant baptism, but that's probably another debate. I would argue, though, that the choice hasn't been made - in most cases, the child is completely unaware of what's happened. They don't have any personal belief at that point.
I was raised by Christian parents. My younger sister and I were both taken to church regularly. I had a passing interest in religion, but no real belief. At 18, while I was at university, and after studying the subject for myself, I chose to become a Christian. My sister never did, and has no particular religious beliefs. So what does that mean? Was I indoctrinated and she wasn't? We both had the same upbringing.
I'd draw an analogy with a different kind of belief. I grew up in one of the safest Labour seats in the country. Pretty much everybody I knew voted Labour, or planned to when they were old enough. I clearly remember thinking, in my mid teens, that Labour was best and that a Tory government was about the worst thing that could happen to the nation. If you like, that was a kind of indoctrination. Nobody set out with the intention of indoctrinating me: that was the culture I was living in, and I absorbed it.
Eventually, I started to read about other options and I began to form my own political opinions, many of which moved away from the ones I was brought up with.
I think that's what should happen with religion (and secularism, come to that). All of us absorb beliefs from our culture, whether religious or not. Eventually, we need to test those beliefs for ourselves, and change them if we see fit. My parents and I are all Christians, but that doesn't mean we all hold the exact same set of beliefs on all points. I've changed my mind on some things, and I know they have too.
I don't say that's the way it always happens, but it is the way it should happen and, in this country at least, I think it's the way it happens more often than not.
baptism of a young baby is so that the parents pledge to bring the child up ina loving christian manner...
The child then makes its own decision to celebrate their beliefs when they become confirmed........I do disagree when young children get confirmed............sometimes they like to do job lots when they are 11 and I personally believe that this is way to young to make a major decision like that...........for the majority I think 16 is the minimum to get confirmed.
The thread is developing some interesting twists and turns.
Cultural influances have a strong bearing on what you believe -
Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man
About baptism, the RC church WON'T let you renounce your baptism, and CoE isn't too keen on the idea. You try getting your name removed from a baptism register as see how difficult it is. From the church's view point the've got you. And if you are a Muslim in certian countries it can lead to a death sentence.
In my view taking children to Church every Sunday, and off to Sunday school is indoctrination.
But it doesn't answer the fundemetal question, why do you generally get Chritians in a Christian society, Muslims in a Muslim society and so on. It seems to me that religious belief is cultural. There will be exceptions where people adopt differnt beliefs, along with, in Aarvarks example, political leanings.
But I find that ardent members of a political party just as scary as staunch religious believers. They follow the party line and dogma and can't see that there are alternatives to their own viewpoint.
I agree with Seren completely. I was confirmed at the age of 10 because my C of E school confirmed us all. As I had been baptised as a baby and everyone in my school was doing it, I did too.
A few years later, whilst developing my own beliefs, I was probably ready to make my own commitment and by 17, a confirmation would've meant the world to me, but I was already "done".
It bothered me for years, but I'm less concerned now. I don't really feel the need to make a public declaration, even though I've been offered an immersion in the pool by our vicar (not a baptism, but a reaffirmation if you like.) He used to adopt the stance of "you're done, mate" but he's changed his stance entirely now.
Gazmanmeister - the freedom to even HAVE this conversation is denied in various parts of the world. We ARE, of course influenced by where we grow up, but believe me - I was a searcher and I checked out quite a few belief paths on the way - though I don't really think a fascination with Monkey and Tripitaka could have really led me to Buddhism.....
MF - Fair enough, but I come back to the same question I raised earlier. If religious belief is purely culturally determined, what makes you think that secularism isn't?
You've set out a view of how beliefs are absorbed. I don't agree with that view, but you're entitled to it. What you haven't done is tell us why that view only applies to religious beliefs. If we have to think of religious beliefs as cultural, why shouldn't we also think of secular materialism as cultural? After all, you're far more likely to be a secularist if you live in Britain or western Europe, and there are specific historical and cultural reasons for that. Why should you think that secularism is any less culturally determined that religion?
The issue becomes further complicated when you look at the kinds of group loyalties that can go with religion. In some countries, it can be very hard to abandon Islamic faith (for example) because the religion is so closely tied into the cultural, national or racial identities. To abandon the faith might be seen as a betrayal of the family, the heritage, etc. I think something similar happened in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Catholic and Protestant became ethnic groups as much as religious ones.
As it happens, I was christened in the Catholic church. I'm not sure what you mean when you say that "they've got you". I don't attend a Catholic church now and I have no dealings with them. If my name is on a baptismal register somewhere, so what? It's just a record of an event that took place - it doesn't make any difference to my life now.
You missed my point that political beliefs tend to be cultural too, though on a smaller regional scale.
The Troubles is a prime example of religious and cultural divide, where both groups seemed to believe it was OK to slaughter each other over issues that are relatively trivial. some different interpretation about their God, and if Ireland should be united. Neither group were being significantly oppressed or punished for their religions and political beliefs, yet elements on both sides were willing to kill indescriminately.
I find the "God is on my side" the most frightening part of religion.
As far as the Catholic church is concerned you are a Catholic, even if you renounce their religion. It may not matter to you, however there are groups who find their inclusion into a church they have renounced offensive.
Mak's friend wrote (see)
I find the "God is on my side" the most frightening part of religion.
So do I. I can't speak for other religions, but any Christian who uses violence to win an argument or gain their political ends is in flat contradiction of Jesus' teachings: "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." No Christian has any business being part of the kind of political violence that went on in Northern Ireland.
I'd never try to argue that religion is always good or that it doesn't have a dangerous side - I've got no interest in defending the indefensible.
To be honest, I don't find "religion" all that helpful as a category - that was what I was getting at with my point about secularism. Religion is like politics - it covers a huge range of different and often contradictory beliefs and ideas. Those beliefs need to be treated on their individual merits. Unfortunately, when "religion" is discussed in the media these days, it tends to be used as a catch-all term without any reference to specific beliefs or their relationships to culture, tradition, politics, economics, and a whole range of other things.
I think that Faith is probably a better term to think about than religion - more personal, less the god business.
Big David wrote (see)
faith, religion, whatever mumbo jumbo you want to call it - there's still a god involved no matter how personal you want or don't want to make it.Wrapping it up and tying with nice pretty pink bows will not make it any the more palatable.
Gaz - faith is a personal thing you control (or not..) but religion is an organisation and as such gets bogged down in politics/dogma and habit
Faith makes you choose activites(could be a sunday race)
Religion says church is held on Sunday morning
Pig. wrote (see)
yeh but....Gaz - faith is a personal thing you control (or not..) but religion is an organisation and as such gets bogged down in politics/dogma and habitFaith makes you choose activites(could be a sunday race)Religion says church is held on Sunday morning
Faith - makes me choose activities!!!!
I dont think so. definitely no
You have a belief system (i.e. some sort of faith) even if you are atheist.
Life is all about choices, like it or not.
An atheist doesn't belief in anything. He believes in nothing.
Personally I believe the universe was created by Unicorns who live at the end of the garden. Until you can devise an experiment or test to show they aren't there, then thats what I will believe.
Now the Great Leader of the Unicorn Sect thinks we should pay him lots of money, only eat baked beans on Tuesdays and got to war on non-beleivers. OK?
An atheist doesn't belief in anything. He believes in nothing.
That's just plain untrue. The only people who don't have any beliefs are either insane or dead.
Atheism is a worldview or, more specifically, it's a broad label for a wide range of worldviews. Like every other worldview, religious or otherwise, it contains beliefs about the nature of ultimate reality.
Do you believe in the reliability of human reason? Do you believe that the universe really exists and isn't simply a product of your own consciousness? Do you believe that there are some actions that are morally right and some that are morally wrong? Do you believe that the universe follows laws of cause and effect?
Most (not all) western atheists would say that they believe all of those things. The point is that each of them represents one possible belief among many. Maybe human reason isn't reliable - maybe we're all subject to some form of random biological determinism. Perhaps the orderly universe that you think you see is simply the result of your mind imposing its own order on the chaos that actually exists. Perhaps behaviour is governed entirely by inherited traits and biological determinism, leaving no possibility of anything being "right" or "wrong" in any abstract sense.
Like it or not, you believe some things to be true and other things not to be true. You've even talked about your own beliefs several times in your posts. So please let's drop the idea that atheists don't believe in anything. If that was true, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
The Troubles is a prime example of religious and cultural divide, where both groups seemed to believe it was OK to slaughter each other over issues that are relatively trivial. some different interpretation about their God, and if Ireland should be united. Neither group were being significantly oppressed or punished for their religions and political beliefs
the Troubles had nothing to do with interpretation of God! it was a reflection of history in which local people had their land taken away from them and were subjugated and opressed. The locals were Catholic, the land takers Protestant (usually English and Scots protestants given land by the King or Queen of the time) and from there the die was cast. Ireland was a combination of political and religious domination - nice combination that.
In the UK we tend to think of ourselves as fairly benevolent on religion but this is a romantic notion developed by a lot of romantic tosh taught us in school. Much of our history is littered with warfare and murder based on Catholic and Protestant divides.
GazYou have a belief system (i.e. some sort of faith) even if you are atheist.Life is all about choices, like it or not.
I recall someone saying to me (and I am an atheist) that atheists were people that didnt believe in organised religion but did believe in God. I have no idea where they got that idea from! total crap in all honesty. No offense Big David but I see stuff from religious quarters where they seem desperate to make atheists in some way just like them - i.e. we have a view of the world we live in therefore that is 'a faith' and so in some way we are just like them, we just dont admit it. Nope, sorry its being clever with words.
A atheist believes that there is no god.
This is not just a lack of belief, but a definite belief in the non existence of god.
(You can not prove a non existence so this is a matter of faith.)
If this is not so then you are not an atheist, but an agnostic - a religious don't know.
Well, no. Its not a case of having some kind of faith that God doesnt exist - I simply DONT!! I dont see why I would have to be faced with an argument that I cant prove non-existance or some 99.99999999999% with of course that 0.00000000000000000001% the God believers jump on. By the way, just how many zeros would I need to put in that number to get so small before the believer said yeah ok its getting stupid now, he doesnt exist? I didnt come up with the notion of God, I dont have anything to prove. Let the person that says that God exists prove to me - I'm still waiting. I'd may as well admit that I cant disprove the tooth-fairy.