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I created this thread for those people who are sincerely curious about Christianity/Catholicism. This thread is not meant to spark debate regarding the merits of these faiths, but rather, it should function as an open place for people of all faiths (or those who currently have no faith), to satisfy their curiosities. Maybe there is something that doesnt make sense to you, or maybe you have had heard different stories from people, and arent sure which is right. Or maybe you just want to know what the Bibles take on a certain topic is. Whatever your question, post it here. I am certain there are plenty of people here who would be more than happy to respond to your inquiries.

* Note: If this topic bothers you in any way, shape or form, I would ask that you kindly move on to another thread, and let the peace remain. *

Ill get things started. Most of us are aware of the tale of Noahs ark. My question pertains to the number of animals that were supposed to be on board. For anyone who has taken biology, or reads as many nature books as I do (Im a nature geek, I know
), is aware that there are hundreds of millions of species on the earth. Even if there was an extremely small number of species during the time of the flood, there hasnt been enough time since then for them to have diversified into the abundance of life we see now. I was wondering if someone could explain why we have such a discrepancy in the number of animals. Thanks.
 

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To me, the Bible and the stories in them are allegorical--not literal. There are certain meanings that are meant to be discovered. So, Noah's ark wasn't meant to be literal in the number of animals taken aboard.

The allegorical vs. literal debate has been going on for millienia.
 

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I've been wondering lately about a certain belief held by some Christians that I've met. It's that God has a set of "chosen" people that He intended to save and the rest of us He made for the sole purpose of sending to hell. I think the person I spoke to about this who had this belief thinks that God was doing this to bring him some sort of glory (which was implied by something she said). Also, she thought that young children who died before they could have a full understanding of Christianity would go to hell.

These beliefs kinda bother me. They have the right to them, but they have the tendency to proselytize and be extremely judgemental. I know other Christians who think this is abomindable and don't believe that that's the case at all. I'm just wondering what anybody here would have to say about that.
 

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Astarte--I do not believe that God has "chosen people" unless you include the entire population of Earth. The idea of God creating chosen people and people he intends to send to hell reminds me of the Puritans from several hundred years ago--according to them, everyone was either saved or damned at birth and nothing you did in your life could change that. I disagree with that b/c I think it takes away personal responsibility for one's actions.

As for children going to hell b/c they died prior to understanding Christianity--that's ridiculous. I'm 28 and have been attending church since I was born, have taught Sunday school, and have read a lot about Christianity and there are many days when I'm not so sure I understand what it's all about. Ignorance is not a sin.

Along those lines, I don't think non-Christians are going to hell, either. I can't speak for other Christians, though, but in my experience, many of them feel the same way.
 

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The idea of predestination has always been hotly debated.

It stems from the notion that God is omniscient. He knows and is present every where at every time ALL the time. He is everywhere(and when) at once. This is a difficult concept for many people to throroughly understand, and results in many misunderstandings.

Since God is present in ALL times, He already knows who's damned and who isn't. It's not that He chose it to be that way, its that WE did. He certainly did not make certain people for "the sole purpose of sending to hell". We did, because we alone are responsible for our choices.

As for young children going to hell because they didn't have a full understanding of Christianity--well thats B.S. It has nothing to do with that, and everything to do with the sacraments and the state of "grace" or "sin" the child is in. Baptism, and Confirmation and Confession. Generally speaking, most children are guaranteed a place in Heaven.

But again, you can't possibly generally summarize the beliefs of Christians. There will be a different answer for every Christian out there. Protestant, Catholic, Gnostic, mystic, Mormon, Amish---there are just too many varied views out there. Not to mention when you look back through time. The "Christian" viewpoint has changed dramatically over the last 2000 years!
 

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This question is not meant as an insult. I understand that God is perceived by most to be male, the "heavenly father", "he" and man was created in "HIS" image etc...So does God have a penis?

If not, why is he referred to as male and if so, what is it for?

Thanks.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Gruntled Sheep

Protestant, Catholic, Gnostic, mystic, Mormon, Amish---there are just too many varied views out there. Not to mention when you look back through time. The "Christian" viewpoint has changed dramatically over the last 2000 years!
Excellent point, (dis)Gruntled Sheep!

A really good book that highlights this is A History of God. It focuses on Judaism and Islam in addition to Christianity.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...971700-7648635
 

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Quote:
So does God have a penis?
No one really knows, since no one can ever really know what God looks like.

It is said in the Bible that man was created in His image, so you can speculate. But you can't *know*.

Me? I tend to believe that God is androgynous. Gender is a human concept, not a heavenly one. I don't believe that souls have a gender either. I like to believe that we are just bits of brilliant light. Plus, God doesn't procreate like humans, so he wouldn't *need* a penis.

As for referring to God in the male sense, well that would be a whole nuther discussion about the history of deities and worship, and ancient Goddess worship and the suppression of the feminine and assertion of the masculine......

Let's just say that the people who made the rules about worship and the Church (the people who wrote the Bible and apocrypha and other such matters) mostly tended to be MEN. So of course, their own perception would see God as male.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mushroom

This question is not meant as an insult. I understand that God is perceived by most to be male, the "heavenly father", "he" and man was created in "HIS" image etc...So does God have a penis?

If not, why is he referred to as male and if so, what is it for?

Thanks.
Mushroom, no offense taken! I've wondered about that, too. My take on this would be that only physical beings have bodies, and thus, only they would have penises. When Jesus lived on the earth, he had a physical body, and so I presume, a penis, too. However, spiritual beings such as the angels, God, and demons, do not have bodies, so sexual reproduction is not relevant.

As to why God is referred to with masculine pronouns... I think that may have had something to do with the historical understanding of authority. Alas, the English language is lacking, and I wish there were "genders" other than he, she, it, and they. I think the problem is in the way language can limit our mental processes. I do not believe that God is the extreme-male with super agressiveness and bulging muscles, but many times God is portrayed (in the Bible), God is exercizing power, control, authority, restraint... all these things are not limited to men, and certainly an informed picture of God will show "feminine" characteristics such as mercy, compassion, and caring. Matthew 23:37 compares God to a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings.

Does that make sense? I hope it does, and I'm glad you asked.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Shamus

Even if there was an extremely small number of species during the time of the flood, there hasnt been enough time since then for them to have diversified into the abundance of life we see now. I was wondering if someone could explain why we have such a discrepancy in the number of animals. Thanks.
One answer to your question can be found here:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/home...nimals_ark.asp
 

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Shamus, there's a book called Catholicism on the Web.

I think you might find it interesting. I have it someplace in my cluttered house. It basically lists all sorts of Catholic resources on the web, with brief descriptions of each website.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mushroom

This question is not meant as an insult. I understand that God is perceived by most to be male, the "heavenly father", "he" and man was created in "HIS" image etc...So does God have a penis?

If not, why is he referred to as male and if so, what is it for?

The people who wrote the Bible did not have a modern knowledge of genetics, with the man and the woman each contributing genetic material in equal parts to the offspring.

They had a radically different concept of the reproductive process. They basically believed that the male contributes virtually all the genetic material and the woman contributes almost nothing. More specifically, they believed that the male contributed his "seed" (which they meant quite literally, although we moderns interpret these passages metaphorically), and the woman was basically a "flower pot," i.e., she merely provides the environment in which the man's "seed" can grow.

Another name for this basic theory is the preformation theory, and another name for the human "seed" is the homunculus, which the dictionary defines as "a miniature adult that in the theory of preformation is held to inhabit the germ cell[sperm] and to produce a mature individual merely by an increase in size."

God, as Creator, is likened to a Father, because it is the human father who is thought to provide the creative principle in reproduction, i.e., in the creation of new life.

(By the way, the theory was also prominent in various Eastern cultures prior to, say, 1500, so influenced many of their cultural and religious developments as well. F.S.C. Northrop has an essay on this, I seem to recall, in one of his books.)

This theory has enormous implications for the debates over abortion, "artificial" birth control, homosexuality, etc. It is also influential in interpreting passages like the story of Onan in Genesis 38, where Onan spills his "seed" on the ground and the Lord kills him for this sin. Monty Python did a famous spoof of this theory in their song "Every Sperm Is Sacred."
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by muppetcow

Astarte--I do not believe that God has "chosen people" unless you include the entire population of Earth
Which leads to a question I have. I understand that people back in ancient times didn't really have any reason to believe there was life on other planets, especially intelligent lifeso it wasn't written about in the Bible. If there are other civillizations on other planets, what is God's relationship with them?
 

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Quote:
Which leads to a question I have. I understand that people back in ancient times didn't really have any reason to believe there was life on other planets, especially intelligent lifeso it wasn't written about in the Bible. If there are other civillizations on other planets, what is God's relationship with them?
Well I guess that depends. Are you talking Biblicly (sp)? Then in that case, the existance of extra-terristrial life would be denied. Since God created Man, and ONLY man, the idea of other intelligent of species of life would be a heresy.

My guess would be that if evidence appeared of ET, the Christian community would split, much like it has over creationsim vs. evolution--with some people sticking to their guns about there not being the possibility of ET--even if it were to land in their own backyards and give 'em a nice anal probe.

Personally, I believe that God created the Universe, and *all* the beings in it and God's relationship with them is the same as it is with us.
 

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Ok here's one I have wondered about...

if Adam and Eve were the first, and everyone is a descedant of them, how is it we have all the different nationalities?

I had a nun explain it to me once, but not very well
 

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My guess from a Biblical standpoint is that there is no intelligent life on other planets. I say this because when Adam and Eve sinned for the first time, God cursed all creation and promised to destroy it all one day with the intention of creating a "New Heaven and New Earth." Now, if there is intelligent non-human life on other planets, they would not be descendents of Adam and Eve, and thus not inheritants of this "sin nature". If they were to be destroyed one day because of God's wrath on humans' sin, that wouldn't seem very fair.

I have yet to see what I consider conclusive evidence of intelligent non-human life on other planets, so it seems reasonable to me that they do not exist.
 

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Wow, I'm not religious at all but this discussion is quite interesting. Keep it coming!


Also, Joe, is that whole "seed" theory have something to do with the whole "dont have sex before marriage" thing?
 

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Cat--

That's an interesting question. I don't know that I can really answer it in a way that will be satisfying to anyone else b/c I believe both in creation and evolution. So, if Adam and Eve were the first humans and ALL of humankind came from them (which I'm not 100% sure I believe), I think that some of the offspring moved off to other locales and adapted to those environments and that would account for the difference in races.

I'm kind of torn on the whole Adam and Eve thing b/c if it really was true, wouldn't we all be inbred? Also, as (dis)Gruntled Sheep mentioned earlier, many of the stories in the bible can be seen as allegorical, so...hmm...guess I didn't even answer that question to my satisfaction....great, now I'm going to thinking about this all night...
 
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