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Posts Made By: William Paolini

May 9, 2011 02:06 PM Forum: Religion

Waste of space?

Posted By William Paolini

In the Movie Contact the question is asked if we are alone in the universe, to which the reply is, "If it's just us, it seems like an awful waste of space."

Question, let's assume that except for Earth and the Human race, that the universe is indeed devoid of any other intelligent life, maybe any other life at all. Would you then consider God's work, His creation, as essentially a waste of space if in all the vastness it was only us who inhabited it?

The movie obviously had religious overtones. From a religious standpoint, and in the context of the movie, it does seem appropriate to Jodie Foster's character as non-religious to think this, but does it seem appropriate to Matthew McConaughey's character as a religious person?

May 11, 2011 11:31 AM Forum: Religion

Is your God different from my God?

Posted By William Paolini

For the three major religions we usually deal with, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, are the characteristics of God as described in the scriptures from each of these religions, different in any way?

So does any passage in texts from the Islamic scriptures/sacred texts, as example, protray God differently in any fundamental way how scriptures/sacred texts portray God in Christianity, or in Judaisms?

These three religions are supposed to be referencing the same God, so do any of them portray God differently in some fundamental way? If not a fundamental way then in some minor way? If you don't have the references to back up your points, or if the points you provide are your understanding based on what you've come to know about the religions that are not yours, would appreciate that you make that fact clear so we don't have any misunderstandings. IMO it is also valuable to voice what we might have as an understanding based on media or discussion, then hopefully someone who practices the said religion can set us straight one way or the other and give us some references.

For me, I don't have any understanding that the God of Judaism and the God of Christianity are any different in character, motive, or action from each other at all. I don't feel as firmly about Islam though, not based on any evidence from their texts, but just the way the popular American media and culture reacts most of the time makes one feel there must be some fundamental differences -- I certainly don't see any differences based on what I observe from my family members who are Muslims as they paint quite a different picture than th media/popular culture does. So not talking the practices of the adherents to the religion, but talking the source texts which define the religion. Are there any differences to be found there?

June 1, 2011 01:54 PM Forum: Religion

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism....?

Posted By William Paolini

What's everyone's thoughts on this...

"Moralistic Therapeutic Deism," a belief system articulated by researchers Christian Smith and Melinda Denton.
-- A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over it.
-- God wants people to be good, nice and fair to one another, as taught in most religions.
-- The goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
-- God gets involved when we have problems we need solved.
-- Good people go to heaven.

So God is in there, somewhere, along with love, grace, kindness, tears, empathy, consolation, compassion, self-acceptance. A non-threatening faith that perhaps is more akin to generalized faith or spirituality rather than religion?

Here's more depth on it:

June 6, 2011 12:21 PM Forum: Religion

Lady Gaga’s album Born This Way banned in Lebanon

Posted By William Paolini

So...should this have been banned?? If so, why, if not why? Should we expect anything else when something is not only against the grain but also offensive to the predominent portion of a culture? I mean we see it is the Islamic societies, we see it secularly with ideologies (remember Senator McCarthy inquisitions against Communists, etc). Seems to me that maybe the knee jerk reactions are many times because of the way something is said rather than what is said.

June 15, 2011 02:29 PM Forum: Religion

Religion in public schools....

Posted By William Paolini

Of course teaching of religion in public schools in a violation of separation of church and state. However, religious programs usually heavily emphasize morals and ethics, neither of which is emphasized in public schools (based on my experience).

An interesting thing of late is some of the rise in religious schools to educate our children instead of public schools. As example, Islamic schools in the U.S. has grown 25% since 2006. And in a 1999 poll American's felt private schools (religious included) better educated children than public schools.

So what should we do with public schools in terms of moral and ethical education? Do you think it would be an improvement overall if public schools K-12 were required to have in addition to the basics teaching in ethics and morals appropriate to the American culture as a way of putting back this loss with no religious education allowed in public schools?

Given the typical news these days with the immoral and unethical antics of Hollywood stars and Congress staff, I think we sorely need this in America. When looking at college for our daughter we ended up having her attend Loyola University that system, which is run by the Jesuits, although totally secular in their curriculum they have as a requirement a core set of classes in ethics in society as part of the charter of the system is to raise business leaders who will have both a higher ethical standard and also give back to the community. So this was unique to the colleges we looked at and favored well with us.

So what about our hurting grade and high schools where moral and ethical example and education is a wasteland??

June 16, 2011 06:20 AM Forum: Off Topic Discussions

Google Eclipse Widget...

Posted By William Paolini

Don't know how many caught this before they "caught" it or changed it, but for a brief time yesterday when you clicked on the Google Widget for the eclipse, the search results page that came up had a bogus wiki reference with some rather funny stuff. Read the item at the bottom of the list. Later in the afternoon they had changed it to what the real wiki item said. Don't know if this was on purpose or an employee was taking a little extra liberties smile

June 21, 2011 01:51 PM Forum: Religion

Does the religion of a President really impact us?

Posted By William Paolini

Just saw this article on Google -

Got me to thinking if the religion of a sitting President really impacts America much at all? Say since Eisenhower to today. George Jr. I think let more theology bleed into policy than most I recall, wiht limits on stem cell research and all.

Obama's impact seems totally secular. Thoughts if Romney were to get elected? How about how it may impact other religious organizations in the country? Anything? Unless I'm missing something (which is easy enough), I'm not seeing that the religion of a President really has much of any impact other than in election results.

June 23, 2011 01:46 PM Forum: Religion

Israel worhiped many gods...

Posted By William Paolini

Here's some interesting takes from notable archeologist William Dever, Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona. I did not realize polytheism was so popular among the Israelites of the time.

[The Israelites' many gods...

The Bible would have us think that all Israelites embraced monotheism relatively early, from Moses's time on. Is that contrary to what archeology has found?

The portrait of Israelite religion in the Hebrew Bible is the ideal, the ideal in the minds of those few who wrote the Bible—the elites, the Yahwists, the monotheists. But it's not the ideal for most people. And archeology deals with the ordinary, forgotten folk of ancient Israel who have no voice in the Bible. There is a wonderful phrase in Daniel Chapter 12: "For all those who sleep in the dust." Archeology brings them to light and allows them to speak. And most of them were not orthodox believers.

However, we should have guessed already that polytheism was the norm and not monotheism from the biblical denunciations of it. It was real and a threat as far as those who wrote the Bible were concerned. And today archeology has illuminated what we could call "folk religion" in an astonishing manner.

"The so-called folk religion even penetrated the Temple in Jerusalem."One of the astonishing things is your discovery of Yahweh's connection to Asherah. Tell us about that.
In 1968, I discovered an inscription in a cemetery west of Hebron, in the hill country, at the site of Khirbet el-Qôm, a Hebrew inscription of the 8th century B.C.E. It gives the name of the deceased, and it says "blessed may he be by Yahweh"—that's good biblical Hebrew—but it says "by Yahweh and his Asherah."

Asherah is the name of the old Canaanite Mother Goddess, the consort of El, the principal deity of the Canaanite pantheon. So why is a Hebrew inscription mentioning Yahweh in connection with the Canaanite Mother Goddess? Well, in popular religion they were a pair.

Dever says he nearly had a heart attack when he first read the inscription on this slab. It links the Israelite God, Yahweh, to the Canaanite Mother Goddess, Asherah.

The Israelite prophets and reformers denounce the Mother Goddess and all the other gods and goddesses of Canaan. But I think Asherah was widely venerated in ancient Israel. If you look at Second Kings 23, which describes the reforms of King Josiah in the late 7th century, he talks about purging the Temple of all the cult paraphernalia of Asherah. So the so-called folk religion even penetrated the Temple in Jerusalem.

Is there other evidence linking Asherah to Yahweh?
In the 1970s, Israeli archeologists digging in Kuntillet Ajrud in the Sinai found a little desert fort of the same period, and lo and behold, we have "Yahweh and Asherah" all over the place in the Hebrew inscriptions.

Are there any images of Asherah?

For a hundred years now we have known of little terracotta female figurines. They show a nude female; the sexual organs are not represented but the breasts are. They are found in tombs, they are found in households, they are found everywhere. There are thousands of them. They date all the way from the 10th century to the early 6th century.

They have long been connected with one goddess or another, but many scholars are still hesitant to come to a conclusion. I think they are representations of Asherah, so I call them Asherah figurines.

June 26, 2011 06:58 PM Forum: Religion

End-of-Life a Human Right?

Posted By William Paolini

As you probably know, Jack Kevorkian died recently. Some believe that an individual's end-of-life decision is a human right and not something that should be against the law.

What do you think? If any of you have been in the position of having to deal with a medical decision for an aging relative, I personally think it is a fine line sometimes as if that relative left no "official" final wishes and if during an operation the doctor asks the family wishes in a difficult situation, to continue with little hope of any quality of life, or to not treat further, one could view that as indeed a "quiet" form of assisted suicide. That is just one example as there can be many shades of grey.

So why shouldn't an individual judged to be of sound mind, have the right to end life on their own terms? I don't really see much of a difference between assisted suicide and placing an elderly in hospice on morphine so they are basically not conscience until they finally pass, which can literally take weeks until they waste away. Or if they give a do-not-resuscitate order, isn't that paramount to suicide since resuscitation could end up saving them for a sizable while?

July 7, 2011 08:49 AM Forum: Religion

Florida Teachers Free to Practice Religion Again :)

Posted By William Paolini

ACLU went too far attacking religious freedom and being reigned back in thank goodness.

Faculty and teachers can once again pray at school during their break times, pray during school events in a nonofficial capacity, attend and fully participate in baccalaureate services, have a Bible on their desk, wear religious jewelry, and assign readings from the Bible to students when relevant to nonreligious academic assignments. Students will be allowed to voluntarily pray, submit religious answers in homework, and freely participate in private, after-school religious programs.