Introduction to Islam

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ghoti

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This islam vs the rest is one of perspective.

What islam values, the rest of the world despises.

What the rest of the world holds as the key to modern civilization, islam despises.

These two perspectives are irreconcilable.

Neither side will change their values, nor should they.

The strongest and best set of ideas will prevail.

If natural selection worked so well during biological evolution, we should allow the same process in social and political evolution.
Survival of the fittest doesnt mean, "survival of the most blood thirsty or selfish". Working together as a team has proven more successful than individual selfishness. It also doesnt mean that one group has to annihilate another group to survive. There does not have to be a constant predator/prey relationship. Species do better in mutualistic relationships.
 

Boyrock

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Wayfarer

I never made a value judgement as to whether islam or the west has a better set of values.

You don't need to defend islam or its values. It is no more or less valid than any other.

I am just saying that Muslims should not try and make it seem as if islam is compatible with western values. It is not. You have said that the west has deviated far from the natural value system of man which by definition makes it incompatible with islam.

I do not disagree. Western liberal values today are as much of an extremist ideology as any in history.

Secular liberalism is a new ideology, even though its proponents will not admit to it being an ideology. It has as its goal to promote itself as the universal and only set of values that is compatible with modern civilization.

Look at how it has destroyed all faiths. Christianity, Judaism, etc are all in decline worldwide. In its place is a secular humanist, mostly atheist ideology.

Islam represents an extreme challenge as it is much more resistant, for whatever reason, to having its adherents embrace this new global value system.

Clash is inevitable. I don't believe that either system has any superior moral legitimacy. Islam has created great civilizations, and those who say it is incompatible with civilization are being intellectually dishonest. It may have gone into decline relatively recently, but in the timespan of history, its time of dominance has been much greater than its time of decline.This is a war, between two ideologies, and lies and deceit are part of war. As human beings, we believe that the time we live in is the only reality, and that things have always been this way.

If I were a betting man, I would say islam would be tough to overcome. I believe that muslim states will unite into a new empire, or a modern version such as an Islamic union.

It's a great fight of ideas that makes very interesting observation. For a neutral, and those with an interest in how ideologies compete to become dominant, it's fascinating.

Wayfarer, don't apologize for your religion or beliefs. Don't try to make it fit with the status quo. It is a competing world view point, and the dominant and stronger set of ideas will prevail. Just as there was a clash between communism and the west, today we have another human experiment in social organization unfolding before us. Diversity of ideas and competition is healthy. This is true even on the macro scale of social and political organization.

It is beautiful to watch from a purely academic viewpoint.

I say let the strongest prevail.
 

wayfarer

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Wayfarer, I never made a value judgement as to whether islam or the west has a better set of values.
You don't need to defend islam or its values. It is no more or less valid than any other.
I do not believe that it is inappropriate for me to defend the primordial sacred values of my faith, and I do believe that is the most relevant and valid. Anyway, you later add the following remark, which is inconsistent with what you have just said:

Wayfarer, don't apologize for your religion or beliefs. Don't try to make it fit with the status quo.
I am not doing this. I am merely saying that some of the Western criticism of Islamic values is in fact misdirected at the mainstream (or Islam as a whole), when in fact it should be directed at the relatively small band of extremists.

I am just saying that Muslims should not try and make it seem as if islam is compatible with western values. It is not. You have said that the west has deviated far from the natural value system of man which by definition makes it incompatible with islam. I do not disagree. Western liberal values today are as much of an extremist ideology as any in history. Secular liberalism is a new ideology, even though its proponents will not admit to it being an ideology. It has as its goal to promote itself as the universal and only set of values that is compatible with modern civilization.
Earlier Codified Western values (before the pendulum commensed with its departure), such as those espoused by the "Founding Fathers" of the USA, are almost entirely compatible with the fundamental Islamic values. Turning our attention to the bolded part above - this is where Islam (and even pluralistic classical liberalism) differs from radical secular liberalism. While Islam holds its own values to be the most appropriate, timeless set specifically sanctioned by the divine, it does not believe that other values systems are not compatible with (modern) civilisation, and it especially does not believe that these differing values make a clash of civilisations inevitable.

Secular liberalism is certainly growing in the West, and many governments have bought into it, but one cannot paint all citizens of the West with this brush. The West has its fair share of critics who recognise it for the harmful extremism that it is. I would argue that, for example, in the USA, the evangelical right-wing neo-cons are significantly more dominant than extreme secular liberals, although they are probably equally zealous (I would also include the Muslim extremists with these groups).

A clash is possible, but certainly not inevitable. Personally, I do not think that extremism will prevail in Islam or in the West (I certainly hope that it will not). In the case of the West, I envisage that the pendulum will soon start its homeward motion. I am optimistic about the sensibilities of the human race, but if extremism does prevail, then indeed, the clash is a given.

In numerous places in the Quran, God states that he deliberately created variation (with which we are tested), and He exhorts believers to respect differences, and to cooperate with others for the common good:

"Help each other to goodness and heedfulness. Do not help each other to wrongdoing and enmity." (Quran 5:2)

We are told to know/recognise each other:

"O mankind, We have created you male and female, and appointed you nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely the noblest among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is All-knowing, All-aware." (Quran 49:13)
 
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Sodan

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If I may pipe in with an observation:

It seems wayfarer is saying that Islam, as practiced by the "mainstream", is considerably more inclusive and accepting than the "extremist" Islam most often reported in the media.

Is that correct? If so, can you perhaps give us a few examples demonstrating this? (Perhaps the Tossed thread would be a better place to respond.)
 

ponder

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Its generally viewed as acceptable by desperate people in desperate situations,its easy for us sitting here safe and comfortable in our country living life freely to criticize but desperate people think very differently to us.
But usually those committing these acts are against freedom of thought, speech, religion etc?
 

wayfarer

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...It seems wayfarer is saying that Islam, as practiced by the "mainstream", is considerably more inclusive and accepting than the "extremist" Islam most often reported in the media. Is that correct? If so, can you perhaps give us a few examples demonstrating this? (Perhaps the Tossed thread would be a better place to respond.)
Tossed.

But usually those committing these acts are against freedom of thought, speech, religion etc?
Tossed.
 

RiaX

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Am I the only one to look back at all abrahamic winged faiths and go "hmmm they seem the same to me is it possible that they are the same just translated in different languages and were culturised by its followers" ? Just an arb thought
 

wayfarer

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Am I the only one to look back at all abrahamic winged faiths and go "hmmm they seem the same to me is it possible that they are the same just translated in different languages and were culturised by its followers" ? Just an arb thought
They have so much in common because they have the exact same Original Source. Check the Introduction post of this thread (post #2) which explains this matter clearly.
 

wayfarer

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5.4. Belief in the Angels

Main > Belief/Faith > Belief in the Angels
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"Angels can take any form in the physical world. As crystal water takes the form of the cup in which it is poured, angels can take the form of any creation which they visit. They do not retain their full original form of light when they are sent to human beings... They have a "mind" and a "heart", but no will and no desire other than to serve and obey God. They are never too proud to obey Him.

Angels worship day and night without fatigue. They do not need to sleep, as their eyes never tire. They know no heedlessness. Their attention never wavers. Their food is glorification of God, their drink is to sanctify and to magnify Him. Their intimacy is in calling their Lord through hymning and singing His praise. Their enjoyment is to serve Him. They are devoid of any and all physiological restraints. They suffer no mood-changes...

Angels are more knowledgeable than human beings. The teacher, again, is better than the student. Their knowledge is of two kinds: intellectual and traditional. "Intellectual" means here: of the essence of reality or "of the heart." "Traditional" means: revealed and translated down from above."


(Japanese Muslim Scholar, Dr. Sachiko Murata. She wrote the above as a foreword to a book about angels in Islam.)

God created angels to glorify, serve and worship Him unquestioningly. Whereas as humans have been created from clay and jinns (spirits) of smokeless fire, angels have been created from light. Angels are genderless, and make up different cosmic hierarchies and orders, varying according to size, form and status. There are billions of angels in existence. Their existence predates that of human beings.

"Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent (steward/deputy) on earth.” They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood, whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?” He said: “I know what ye know not.” (Quran 2:30)

Angels are honoured, intelligent beings. A means by which God acts in creation is the facilitation of the performance of angels. The Christian/Western physical form in which angels are depicted is generally not accepted.

The Archangels

In terms of the hierarchical structure, four angels are on top and given special status. These are:

Gabriel
Gabriel is the angel of revelation, and is regarded as the greatest of all angels. Gabriel communicates divine messages to those that God designated to receive them. In most cases, prophets are the recipients of the messages, but the Quran also mentions communication between Gabriel (possibly representing angels, or leading a group of angels) and Mary, mother of Jesus Christ.

"Behold! (a representative of) the angels said, 'Oh Mary! God gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter, and in (the company of) those nearest to God. He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. He shall be of the righteous... And God will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel'" (Quran 3:45-48).

Michael
Michael is responsible for matters such as certain aspects of weather, sustenance and earthly rewards.

Raphael
Raphael will be the trumpet blower. Raphael will blow the trumpet to signal the end of humanity's sojourn in the universe, signalling the end of all life. According to some scholars, thereafter even the archangels will be made to die. After an unknown, lengthy period of time, the archangels will be resurrected, and Raphael will again blow the trumpet, signalling the grand resurrection and the start of Judgement.

Azrael (angel of death)
Azrael heads the order of angels tasked with withdrawing the souls from the human bodies, causing death.

Unconditional and unabating obedience

“They celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever slacken.” (Quran 21:20)

The concept of a fallen angel is not consistent with Islamic theology. Angels have been created to be flawless, and do not have the capacity for sin or disobedience. Thus, the Christian idea of Lucifer having been an angel before falling from grace to become the accursed devil (Satan, sworn enemy of humankind), is not an acceptable notion.

The devil is viewed as belonging to the jinn race. Jinns and humans are creatures with free will, possessing the capacity for both submission and disobedience. Angels are faithfully loyal, and cannot "fall" or choose to rebel.
 
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Piesank

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A quick question and I didn't see Hashim Amla's name mentioned here.

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_dietary_laws#Intoxicants it is prohibited for Muslims to consume alcohol. Now what I want to know: if Muslims can't consume alcohol and following that logic promote it - as seen in Amla's shirt not having the Castle Lager logo. Can they not have the sponsor's founder name "Charles Glass" signature on it like the springboks used to have when they played in France because it is illegal in France to promote alcohol?
 

wayfarer

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A quick question and I didn't see Hashim Amla's name mentioned here.

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_dietary_laws#Intoxicants it is prohibited for Muslims to consume alcohol. Now what I want to know: if Muslims can't consume alcohol and following that logic promote it - as seen in Amla's shirt not having the Castle Lager logo. Can they not have the sponsor's founder name "Charles Glass" signature on it like the springboks used to have when they played in France because it is illegal in France to promote alcohol?
Prophet Muhammad was clear on avoiding any association (unless regarded as being unavoidable) with alcoholic beverages and associated agents. Consider the following Hadith:

"God's Messenger cursed ten people in connection with wine (intoxicants): the wine-presser, the one who has it pressed, the one who drinks it, the one who conveys it, the one to whom it is conveyed, the one who serves it, the one who sells it, the one who benefits from the price paid for it, the one who buys it, and the one for whom it is bought." (Hadith Tirmidhi)

From the above narration (which is comprehensive, but not exhaustive - and analogous reasoning can easily expand it), one is able to see that the Islamic condemnation of alcoholic beverages/agents is more serious and holistic than the French focus on promotion prohibition.
 

wayfarer

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5.5. Belief in the Day of Judgement

Main > Belief/Faith > Belief in the Day of Judgement
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The Judgement Day is the day when all adopted beliefs and deeds will be reckoned, and when God's Might, Justice and Mercy will be asserted manifestly. A believer lives in the hope of attaining paradise and of visually beholding God, the Majestic. Believers are mindfully aware that worship and obedience to God can never compensate for the bounties and blessings that He has bestowed upon them, but they ever hold fast to the hope that God, in His infinite Mercy, will forgive them. The believer fears punishment in the Hereafter for trespasses committed, and lives between fear and hope, but the believer is ultimately motivated by love.

According to the Quran:

"The Day every soul shall find what it has done of good brought forward, and what it has done of evil; it will wish if there were only a far space between it and that day. God warns you that you be mindful of Him; and God is gentle with His servants.

Say: 'If you love God, follow me, and God will love you, and forgive you your sins; God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.'

Say: 'Obey God, and the Messenger.' But if they turn their backs, God loves not the unbelievers."
(Quran 3:30-32)

"Say: 'To whom belongs what is in the heavens and in the earth?' Say: 'It is God's. He has prescribed for Himself mercy. He will surely gather you to the Resurrection Day, of which is no doubt. Those who have lost their souls, they do not believe." (Quran 6:12)

"But those who disbelieve say, "The Hour will not come to us." Say, "Yes, by my Lord, it will surely come to you. [God is] the Knower of the unseen." Not absent from Him is an atom's weight within the heavens or within the earth or [what is] smaller than that or greater, except that it is in a clear register

That He may reward those who believe and do righteous deeds. Those will have forgiveness and noble provision.

And those who have been given knowledge see that what is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, and it guides to the path of the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy."
(Quran 34:3-6)

Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said:

"Truly, God has a hundred mercies, one of which He has sent down to (the world of the) spirits and humans, and to the birds and the animals, the vermin, through which is their mutual dealing with kindness and with mercy. And ninety-nine mercies has He withheld, and by them shall He show mercy to His devotees on the Day of Arising." (Hadith: Muslim)

and also

"Whoever believes in God and the final day (Day of Judgement) it is essential that he does not harm his neighbours and whoever believes in God and the final Day it is essential for him to entertain his guest with kindness and generosity and whoever believes in God and the Final Day it is essential that he speak what is good or otherwise remain silent." (Hadith: Muslim)
 
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FlatspinZA

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Wayfarer

I never made a value judgement as to whether islam or the west has a better set of values.

You don't need to defend islam or its values. It is no more or less valid than any other.

I am just saying that Muslims should not try and make it seem as if islam is compatible with western values. It is not. You have said that the west has deviated far from the natural value system of man which by definition makes it incompatible with islam.

I do not disagree. Western liberal values today are as much of an extremist ideology as any in history.

Secular liberalism is a new ideology, even though its proponents will not admit to it being an ideology. It has as its goal to promote itself as the universal and only set of values that is compatible with modern civilization.

Look at how it has destroyed all faiths. Christianity, Judaism, etc are all in decline worldwide. In its place is a secular humanist, mostly atheist ideology.

Islam represents an extreme challenge as it is much more resistant, for whatever reason, to having its adherents embrace this new global value system.

Clash is inevitable. I don't believe that either system has any superior moral legitimacy. Islam has created great civilizations, and those who say it is incompatible with civilization are being intellectually dishonest. It may have gone into decline relatively recently, but in the timespan of history, its time of dominance has been much greater than its time of decline.This is a war, between two ideologies, and lies and deceit are part of war. As human beings, we believe that the time we live in is the only reality, and that things have always been this way.

If I were a betting man, I would say islam would be tough to overcome. I believe that muslim states will unite into a new empire, or a modern version such as an Islamic union.

It's a great fight of ideas that makes very interesting observation. For a neutral, and those with an interest in how ideologies compete to become dominant, it's fascinating.

Wayfarer, don't apologize for your religion or beliefs. Don't try to make it fit with the status quo. It is a competing world view point, and the dominant and stronger set of ideas will prevail. Just as there was a clash between communism and the west, today we have another human experiment in social organization unfolding before us. Diversity of ideas and competition is healthy. This is true even on the macro scale of social and political organization.

It is beautiful to watch from a purely academic viewpoint.

I say let the strongest prevail.
I didn't read anything other than this one post because this man makes sense, to me.

How many Gods (note capitilization so as to not have my ass Jihad'ed) must we have? How many billion people must die to prove that one is better than the other, and when the war is eventually won - is YOUR God going to come down with all his righteous might and smite your opponents into oblivion?

I was raised a Catholic, and I honestly believed in everything they taught me, until I got older - old enough to start thinking for myself, and that's only recently, I am almost 43.

In all religions, our Gods deny us the right to be human - oh, we have free choice, but we will be damned eternally if our 'free choice' is anything other than what our Gods want for us.

Our Gods are just, so just that I live in a beautiful home, and while I may have lived in some crap holes on my way here, I have ALWAYS lived a life of relative luxury. Now, take some poor, starving, African kid and ask where he came from, and if he has even a millionth of the education I have, and see if he can rise to my station? He can't, because he has overwhelming odds stacked against him - and just because one out of a million can, doesn't make any case, for any God, being fair and just, at all!

Authorities have always known that religion was a way to control the masses, why do think the US hangs onto it so vehemently?
 
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wayfarer

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Religion and conflict

I didn't read anything other than this one post because this man makes sense, to me.
I recommend that you not restrict yourself in this way.

How many Gods (note capitilization so as to not have my ass Jihad'ed) must we have?
"Gods" is probably not the best way to write it. Consider the following points:

  • The plural "gods" would refer to a mythical class of superbeings, rejected by the Abrahamic faiths, and described as false/fictitious gods. While "gods" are non-existent, the concept exists and is mentioned in the Quran.
  • Whereas God is differently described/understood by various inflections of monotheism, it is a proper noun refering to a single entity - the English name for the One Divine being, and is therefore capitalised in English.
  • By saying "Jihad'ed" (righteous strife), you are suggesting that Muslims would take issue with you if you did not capitalise. However, while Muslims naturally stick to the conventions/rules of the specific language being used, capitalisation does not play a significant role because the base language of Islam is a Semitic language (Arabic), and the Semitic languages have a single case (no capital letters at all).

How many billion people must die to prove that one is better than the other, and when the war is eventually won - is YOUR God going to come down with all his righteous might and smite your opponents into oblivion?
Actually, the majority of wars in modern times are not religiously based. Some may have a religious reference, but most are motivated by politics, economic conditions, social unrest and/or ethnic/racial conflict. War hysteria and wanton power-pursuits are conditions that plague humanity, and is not the exclusive domain of religious groupings. Even in the absence of religion, people will still enter into disharmony and open conflict. Other such constructs that represent sources of conflict and discrimination are ethnicity/race, sex, nationality, age, class, education level, culture, familial or communal affiliation, etc.

I do think, however, that you have a point. Just as any facility, modern or ancient, organised religion as a social construct is a tool that can be used to benefit or to harm. People have in the past, and present, wreaked havoc and committed massacres in the name of religion. However, religion, for most people, inspires virtues such as tolerance, patience, honesty and respect. I do not believe that removing religion from the face of the earth is the answer to the problem, but I do believe that the mainstream adherents of the various religions need to be more proactive in combating the deviant negative externalities that issue from their belief systems. This concept is expertly explained by Mark Hamza Yusuf (an Islamic scholar that comes from a deeply religious Christian background) in his address to a Jewish audience.
continued in next post...
 
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wayfarer

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Suffering in this world, and God's Wisdom

...continued from previous post...
I was raised a Catholic, and I honestly believed in everything they taught me, until I got older - old enough to start thinking for myself, and that's only recently, I am almost 43. In all religions, our Gods deny us the right to be human - oh, we have free choice, but we will be damned eternally if our 'free choice' is anything other than what our Gods want for us.
I am sorry that your experience with Catholicism was so restrictive and disturbing to you. There are people across religions that share your view, but I know many Catholics who find their faith to be both enlightening and liberating. While extremist minorities effect destruction and bloodshed in the name of religion, as a Muslim, I find that God's guidance directs to the highest amongst all human ideals: to be of service to humanity, to appreciate and recognise beauty and truth, to be benefactors and beneficiaries of love and compassion, etc.

Our Gods are just, so just that I live in a beautiful home, and while I may have lived in some crap holes on my way here, I have ALWAYS lived a life of relative luxury. Now, take some poor, starving, African kid and ask where he came from, and if he has even a millionth of the education I have, and see if he can rise to my station? He can't, because he has overwhelming odds stacked against him - and just because one out of a million can, doesn't make any case, for any God, being fair and just, at all!
If it is your view that God likely does not exist, then I would say that the god you describe above (that rules by the maxim that fairness and justice necessarily means identical circumstances in this world) certainly does NOT exist. While I am weary of oversimplifying God's Mercy, Justice and Knowledge, I present the following points as representing the believer's world view:

  • This world is not an arena for testing God, but it is the domain by which we are tested by God, and it is the facility through which we strive to transcend.
  • Consider the words of Muslim scholar, Timothy Winter: "God has names of Beauty: the Compassionate, the Merciful, the Gentle, and many others. But He also has Names of Rigour: the Overwhelming, the Just, the Avenger. The world in which we live exists as the interaction and the manifestation of all of the divine attributes. Hence it is a place of ease and of hardship, of joy and of sorrow. It has to be this way: a world in which there was only ease could not be a place in which we can discover ourselves to be true human beings. It is only by experiencing hardship, and loss, and bereavement, and disease, that we rise above our egos, and show that we can live for others, and for principles, rather than only for ourselves."
  • Your assumption is that this worldly life is all that there is. According to Islam, the lives of a person are five, and the earthly existence is by far the shortest of these - but a blink of an eye. In this regard, it is reported that Prophet Muhammad said: "Be in this world as (if you are) a wayfarer." (Hadith: Bukhari).
  • Is your riches really such a blessing? Is your luxury really all that significant? God determines our circumstances, and knows them well, and it is in that light that we will be judged. Consider the well-known metaphor reported to have been made by Jesus Christ: "Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” " (Matthew 19:23-24). We all seek comfort and wealth in this world, but its mindless pursuit is wont to distract us from seeking after higher meanings and purposes. Acquisition of material wealth is fine, but the real question is: what have we prepared for the next life? Who is in a better position, the super-rich or the poverty stricken, or those that lie somewhere in between? God, in His infinite Knowledge, Wisdom and Justice, knows how to ultimately adjudicate all affairs.
Perhaps you would like to expand your horizons somewhat? I invite you explore this thread, possibly starting with the contents page and then branching out from there. I put it to you that it will be both an informative and enlightening experience. It may even give you a newfound appreciation of the world's fastest growing Abrahamic Tradition.
 
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moosag

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Just to add to that note on the Poor African child.

You can't blame God for poverty. We as fellow human beings on this earth are to blame for the poverty we see around us. With all the money we spend on War alone is enough to feed every hungry child for life. What about all the obscene profits made by large corporates from mining gold, diamonds, platinum and oil?? I am pretty sure all those profits can go to feeding and educating hungry children.

Remember God put mankind here as Vicegerents on Earth.

Any earthly scenarios, social structures, living conditions, rules, regulations, etc... is created by us Humans and the power of change is in our hands and it always has been since the beginning. Hence the "you have free choice". You have the choice to do good or bad. Your actions will determine the outcome of living conditions for both you and those around you.

All God is saying here is a set of rules, morals & values to make sure the collective outcome of worldly life is just and equal.
The fact that majority of nations and leaders do not ascribe to Gods command is proof enough as to why the whole world is in turmoil and on a downward spiral (<- huge understatement).
 

FlatspinZA

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Wayfarer - I will have a read further, because while I personally have lost all belief, it is always interesting to discover why other people are such ardent believers in their faith. Thanks for the thoughts.
 
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