The Nephilim: A challenge to the closed mind

The theme of my last few posts has been on achieving clear, open-minded thinking and freedom from conditioning. On that note, let’s do an interesting experiment. Let’s take a controversial Bible passage and try to interpret it in its proper context, on its own terms, without bringing along all the baggage of a pre-defined theology. The passage I have in mind is … cue drum roll … Genesis 6:1-4.

[1] Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them,
[2] that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.
[3] Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”
[4] The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Getting the right meaning out of this should be pretty straightforward: Find out what happened before these verses. Find out the meaning of any ambiguous or difficult words. And then just let it say what it’s saying.

We’re pretty close to the beginning of the Bible, and this first book of the Bible, Genesis, tells of man’s origins from the Garden of Eden right through to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph – the beginnings of the nation of Israel. From the beginning up to chapter 6, in summary: the world is created, man falls from grace by disobeying God, Cain murders Abel, various other sons and daughters are born, industries begin. Several generations (and little detail) later, we read this strange little account. Okay, it’s clear to me we’re reading Bible history at this point. Not some methphor or vision or whatever. This is an event in our history that the author expects the reader to interpret literally.

What are the problem words? “Sons of God” and “Nephilim” jump out. Let’s tackle them. “Sons of God” first. I’m no scholar, but a little research shows me that there are only a couple of other references to the terms in the Old Testament, in the books of Job and Daniel.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. (Job 1:6; see also 2:1 and and 38:7)

He [King Nebucadnezzar] said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” (Daniel 3:25)

Technically, the Daniel reference is a slightly different expression, but we’re splitting hairs. These references are clearly to otherworldly beings. I see no reason to interpret the Genesis 6 passage differently. In fact, the view is strengthened by the “of God” (the sons) being place in direct contrast to the “of men” (the daughters). I’m happy that we’re clearly dealing with angelic beings of one kind or another. (For those still on the fence, a study of 1 Peter 3:18-22, 2 Peter 2:4-5, and Jude 6-7, lends further confirmation of this interpretation.) If you read the New International Version, you’ll notice “sons of God” is confidently translated as “angels,” although that’s actually a little disappointing, as you lose the richness of meaning in the original term.

Moving on. Now what does “Nephilim” mean? It’s tricky. There’s seems to be no clear opinion on the origin of the word, only several suggestions. But speculation doesn’t count. Helpfully, the word is used later in the Bible (as well as qualified), in Numbers 13:33:

We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Giants.

So, with the difficult words now understood, what is Genesis 6:1-4 saying to us. Simple. A non-human species bred with mankind, creating a hybrid species with giant characteristics. Yes, whatever the Sons of God were, we are talking about actual physical, biological creatures with DNA – with sperm, for goodness sake. There’s just no getting around that.

“Stop, Sloan!” says a little voice in my head. “That’s crazy! Take it back now, before you get laughed at. Angels don’t breed, even evil ones. They’re spirit beings. Man is made in the image of God. It’s monstrous! Impossible!”

Okay, the way I see it, you can do one of several things when you encounter a passage like this (i.e. a passage that has a clear, obvious meaning, but it’s one you don’t like).

Reaction 1: “I’m scared. Don’t make me think about it, and certainly don’t expect me to talk about it.”
Reaction 2: “Maybe something’s missing from the way I’m looking at this. Why don’t I just shelve it for now. Good idea. Phew!”
Reaction 3: “This just doesn’t fit with my existing set-in-stone beliefs. Perhaps there’s another interpretation? No? Well, can I make one up? And can I make this word mean this. Ah-ha! I’m happy now.”
Reaction 4: “Wow. I am learning bizarre and wonderful things here. I don’t know exactly what to do with this info, but it’s exciting.”

Reaction 1 is outright cowardice, from the sort of person who worries about what other people think of him. 2 demonstrates a slightly dishonest attitude to truth-seeking. 3 is the guy who says, “‘Sons of god’ means descendents of Seth. Yes, I know the term isn’t used that way in any other Bible verse, but I need to pull that explanation out of my arse, because the alternative is something insane … What about the giants? Oh, yes, well if we forget about what it says in Numbers and view Nephilim as ‘fallen ones’ instead of ‘giants’ …” Oh boy. Even if I conceded to this mishandling of the words, when you re-read the passage, watch the mental gymnastics your brain has to perform in order to make any kind of proper sense of it.

Yes, I know that the New Testament states that angels neither marry nor are given in marriage. But let’s not forget, we’ve heard about Seraphim and Cherubim, but who knows how many kinds of “angels” there are. And who knows what other business God gets up to in this vast universe, that we are not privy to.

If you want some interesting reading, Google the term “Nephilim” and read through the mix of good and bad interpretations of the passage. With the bad ones, you can almost sense how the writer’s brain is ticking. They aren’t the words of someone whose thinking, “This is mind-blowing stuff!” He’s thinking, “I don’t like this. How can I force it to fit what I already believe?”

Whether Christian or athiest, let’s be aware of cowardly and deceitful tendenies in our own minds, reject the rigidity of our existing beliefs, and be open to all possibility, regardless of where it may take us. I think it’s the only truly honest way to reason.

(Further study: For several in-depth and scholarly treatments of Genesis 6:1-4, follow this link.)

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27 thoughts on “The Nephilim: A challenge to the closed mind

  1. Earl says:

    I’d imagine that the Nephilim were confined to the antediluvian world and that none made it aboard the Ark.

  2. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    So, with the difficult words now understood, what is Genesis 6:1-4 saying to us. Simple. A non-human species bred with mankind, creating a hybrid species with giant characteristics. Yes, whatever the Sons of God were, we are talking about actual physical, biological creatures with DNA – with sperm, for goodness sake. There’s just no getting around that.

    I think you’ve been perhaps a little bit too simple here. The Hebrew word “nephilim” has no clear translation. It is rendered as “gigantes” in Jerome’s Vulgate (i.e., giants), but it may also mean “fallen ones”. But what did the Hebrew authors actually mean when they used this term? Certainly, as Deut. 13:33,34 makes clear, it was used to convey the idea of dreadful, monstrous giants. But we ought to be careful at taking our translation attempts too literally because the Hebrews existed in a different time and culture from us.

    However, I suspect the main thrust of your post is mainly the illustration of the possible reactions different mindsets have to a controversial idea, and not a statement on your definitive conclusions about the meaning of “nephilim”. To that end, I think it’s right to be open to all the possibilities, but we really do need to apply the full measure of reason with a clear mind, and not just blindly follow where we think the evidence goes, especially when we end up somewhere that looks a little bit screwy. Being open to all possibility necessarily involves being open to the possibility that our conclusions are wrong, regardless of how correctly we think we’ve arrived at them.

  3. Darryl Sloan says:

    Earl,

    “I’d imagine that the Nephilim were confined to the antediluvian world and that none made it aboard the Ark.”

    But the real test is: how comfortable are you with the interpretation that it truly happened? Actual biological non-human beings interbreeding with us.

  4. Darryl Sloan says:

    Chris,

    The key to understanding the passage is more in the phrase “sons of God” than “Nephilim.” The former has a proven and definite usage in Scripture.

    I actually do hold this interpretation personally. That doesn’t mean I instantly jump on the “angels are aliens” bandwagon. The passage just is what it is. I can either accept it on its own terms, or try to mould it into something I would prefer to see.

    Of course, my opinion is not set in stone. I’ll strive to keep it open to correction – which is the thrust of my post.

  5. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    So how come we have no evidence of this supposed inter-breeding between human and non-human species?

    Personally, I side more with the Church Fathers on this one. Anything else just doesn’t seem to make much sense.

  6. Darryl Sloan says:

    Chris,

    “So how come we have no evidence of this supposed inter-breeding between human and non-human species?”

    The evidence is me. Haven’t I banged the top of my head off enough doorways to prove the point? 😉

    But seriously, I think your question is born out of a misinterpretation of what the debate is about. The debate is not asking, “Did this really happen?” but “Am I interpreting the author’s claim correctly?”

    Any anyway, you can’t change the meaning of a passage based on a lack of evidence. Should we dismiss Noah’s Ark because we can’t find it on top of a mountain somewhere?

    “Personally, I side more with the Church Fathers on this one. Anything else just doesn’t seem to make much sense.”

    It makes perfect sense. It’s not the meaning of the passage we have a problem with. We have a problem fitting what it’s saying into our carefully moulded sense of what’s real and possible.

    Yes, Augustine and co created a more “sane” interpretation, but in my reading of it, a weak one. What’s interesting is that St. Peter and St. Jude took the angelic view. Both make reference to the extra-Biblical Book of Enoch which, although, not part of the Bible, should not be dismissed out of hand, since they thought it worthy to draw from. And the content of the Book of Enoch puts the identity of the sons of God beyond doubt. (More on the Book of Enoch soon!)

    Following the link at the bottom of the main post provides a thorough analysis of the varying views.

    I think it’s important to scrutinise very carefully what lies behind yours (or anyone’s) need to re-mould a passage like this.

  7. Earl says:

    More to the point, then, do I believe the Nephilim existed? Yes, scripture says they did, but whom or what they were I’ve yet to determine.

    A couple of things that should be borne in mind, though, when approaching an exegesis of the passage is whether or not you are standing equidistant from each option at the outset and if you would prefer one interpretation over the other. Oftentimes, we approach things with preconceived ideas and already formulated opinions, and this bias impairs our judgement. So, let me ask the question: which would you prefer to be true?

  8. Earl says:

    Another thing partly related to this, but more to do with conspiracy theories, is that people often want to believe that there is more to something than meets the eye, for this helps alleviate their ennui with the mundane.

  9. Darryl Sloan says:

    Earl,

    “Do I believe the Nephilim existed? Yes, scripture says they did, but whom or what they were I’ve yet to determine.”

    That’s fair, but I would urge you not to shelve the matter indefinitely, otherwise you become the guy in “Reaction 2”, who sits on the fence because it offers a comfort zone.

    “Which would you prefer to be true?”

    Great question! 😀 If you had asked me a month ago, I would have prefered to have the matter resolved with the explanation that allows me to keep my tidy, well-ordered theological views intact. Currently, I’m in a different frame of mind. My recent new-found open-mindedness has opened me up to possibility in a way that has provoked me to start learning about many things both spiritual and historical that I’ve ignored up to now. So, having embraced the frame of mind where I’ve learned to overcome my rigid beliefs and fear of ridicule, there is nothing to hold me back from wanting to believe the fantastic interpretation. And I’ll freely admit, right now, I do want to believe it.

    What you’re really saying (and it’s true) is: Objectivity is easily clouded by desire.

    So the challenge is for me to ask myself: “Am I allowing my personal wishes to cloud the true meaning of the passage?” Or a better way to put it: “Am I aware of my own mind’s subtle tendencies towards self-deception?”

    Yes I am, as is evidenced my my careful, methodical examination of the passage. On the flipside, watch how the interpreters in the opposing camp choose to ignore the revealed meaning of “sons of God”, going even as far as inventing a whole new meaning for the term that has no basis whatsoever in the rest of Scripture. On what grounds? Objectivity? Far from it. I suspect, on the grounds of defending an existing set of rigid beliefs that they can’t make this passage fit into.

    Here’s a quote from a 5th/6th century work called The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan that I think is a good example. Watch how powerful emotions (brought on by a rigid set of existing beliefs) are allowed to overcome objectivity:

    “God forbid such a thing, that angels who are spirits, should be found committing sin with human beings. Never, that cannot be. And if such a thing were of the nature of angels, or Satans, that fell, they would not leave one woman on earth, undefiled… But many men say, that angels came down from heaven, and joined themselves to women, and had children by them. This cannot be true. But they were children of Seth, who were of the children of Adam, that dwelt on the mountain, high up, while they preserved their virginity, their innocence and their glory like angels; and were then called ‘angels of God.’ But when they transgressed and mingled with the children of Cain, and begat children, ill-informed men said, that angels had come down from heaven, and mingled with the daughters of men, who bare them giants.”

    And so, faced with the horror of such a thing, the author cannot believe the face-value explanation that is presented. He then creates a whole new one, literally out of thin air, inventing details as he goes, like “They preserved their virginity, their innocence and their glory like angels.” In other words, “Let’s make any claim we want. We don’t have to base it on anything we already know. It just has to fit with the passage.”

  10. mike q says:

    Dificult for me to get involved with this one. But if I took your word for it that this was indeed to be a true account of history, and with me not holding any belief in a god, I wonder where it would take my thoughts. Obviousley there is no proof of these giants, but again if we’re taking the passage as truth, I would have to consider the angels are aliens point you threw in, I know this isn’t something you believed, but it’s were I find myself if the passage were true.

  11. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Mike.

    As you’re not a Christian, you’re in the unique position of not needing to see the passage in a particular light – which is great! And what do you see? “Angels are aliens.”

    What do I see? Something pretty similar, if I’m objective, and something the Christian side of me would prefer not to see. But what I want has no bearing on reality.

  12. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    I’ve been thinking about your reasoning in this whole matter, and I must say that how you’re approaching the thing just does not sit well with me.

    I honestly don’t care who or what the Nephilim were, it’s of no importance to my faith or belief in God (just like the creation account at the beginning of Genesis). What I’m more concerned about is right reason, and how interpretations of really sketchy passages are turned into beliefs that are larger than life and not in accord with reason, what the rest of the Bible tells us, and what we know from nature.

    I don’t think you are using right reason here. You’re taking a passage of the Bible which is cryptically mentioning a thing in passing, and drawing from it a conclusion which, quite frankly, is not in accord with the rest of the Bible, and are then trying to make it stand on all fours.

    And so, faced with the horror of such a thing, the author cannot believe the face-value explanation that is presented. He then creates a whole new one, literally out of thin air…

    Actually, I find the beginning of his argument entirely reasonable. He states that it is not of the nature of angels and demons to assume corporeal form and have the facility to disseminate DNA, which they do not have, in carnal union with human women. That’s a scriptural fact – angels are spiritual beings who do not have bodies. Assuming that they can have bodies leads to some bad conclusions. I’d like you to read the following short response to the whole matter from Hank Hanegraaff, more popularly known as the Bible Answer Man here in America. This fellow is a Protestant, but I have the highest respect for him:

    http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/Bible_Answer_Man/Article.asp?article_id=1091

    To be honest, I’m a little bit disappointed by your approach to the Nephilim question. Recently, you were showing a lot of promise with all the talk of waking up to conditioning, etc., but then you came out with this doozie! 🙂 It all reeks too much of the Bible literalism you supposedly had woken up from. Instead, it appears you might be still operating under the shadow of it.

    I do not agree with your interpretation. I think the reasoning behind your interpretation is faulty and inconsistent with the Bible and other Christian beliefs. I think you need to temper your new-found open mindedness with good old fashioned common sense, and, as the Bible Answer Man says, you need to learn to read scripture in light of scripture, not your own imagination. 😉

  13. Earl says:

    Darryl,

    ‘That’s fair, but I would urge you not to shelve the matter indefinitely, otherwise you become the guy in “Reaction 2″, who sits on the fence because it offers a comfort zone.’

    ‘But the real test is: how comfortable are you with the interpretation that it truly happened? Actual biological non-human beings interbreeding with us.’

    In answer to the above, my reason for having shelved the matter isn’t that I have any difficulty confronting it and consequently being yanked out of my comfort zone. Instead, I have probably not devoted much time to resolving the issue because I think its bearing on today is rather insignificant. Furthermore, since we are instructed to redeem the time, I ought to weigh what is to be gained from resolving it, when more often than not there are more pressing issues to consider. Knowing who or what they were is not a priority for me and that’s probably why I haven’t bothered, though I must say that it’s quite interesting. On top of that, I’m of the reasoned opinion that these Nephilim were confined to the antediluvian world and would been have swept away in the flood if they weren’t of the natural order.

    Don’t get me wrong, though, discussion like this is great as long as perspective is maintained. It’s much more interesting than watching mind numbing TV.

  14. Darryl Sloan says:

    Chris,

    I sort of saw this coming. Up till now, during all the recent posts, our views were compatible, because everything up to now was either against athiesm or Protestantism. You accepted the principles that governed my thinking when they were in agreement with your own complex set of beliefs. But now that those same principles have led me in a direction that you don’t subscribe to, suddenly my reasoning is faulty, apparently.

    I’m disappointed by certain things in your attitude. Firstly, by your eagerness to dismiss on the grounds of irrelevance things that are really being dismissed because of incompatibility.

    Secondly, your insistence on seeing the passage in question as cryptic. It’s convenient to label something as cryptic when we don’t like what it’s saying, interpreted using ordinary level-headed principles.

    Third, the accusation of Bible literalism. I understand perfectly well that there is poetic language employed in parts of the Bible, such as prophecies and visions. I also understand that your can’t use it as a sort of “get out of jail free” card every time something crops up that you don’t like the look of.

    Fourth, the ridicule. “It’s a doozie.” Okay, you included a smilie, but you should know better than to resort to ridicule. I imagine the first people to discover the world was round instead of flat had their fair share of “What a doozie” before the evidence caught up and the perceived “norms” changed. The fact is, anything outside of any norm is a doozie. But getting in line with the people who do the ridiculing is neither fair nor good.

    Fifthly, you may have chosen to ignore the main thing that had any hope of convincing you that my interpretation is the right one: the references of St. Peter and St. Jude.

    As for the Bible Answer Man, I’m glad you pointed me in that direction. He is a prime example of what happens when you view everything from inside a mental prison of complex rigid unchangeable beliefs. He has developed particular views on angels and demons and he is only prepared to view Genesis 6 through that lens. But what’s interesting is that most of what he says is right; the things he’s saying about angels and demons are all Scriptural. What do I conclude? Clearly the beings in Genesis 6 were not angels or demons in the traditional sense.

    But the lens that he’s looking through goes too far. It appears to assert, “There are angels, demons, men, and definitely nothing else.” And he then twists the meaning of the passage to refer to Sethites, because he has given himself no other option (other than to admit in a contradiction). Whereas, what I’m saying is, “There are angels, demons, men, and these otherworldly sons of God, whatever they were.” Sometimes it’s one’s set of rigid beliefs that have to change when confronted with new information, not the other way round.

    How did Protestantism get into the lamentable state of diversity that it’s in? People developing differing theologies from Scripture, then holding on them and seeing everything through that lens. Rigid unchangeable beliefs. It keeps coming back to that.

    “Read scripture in light of scripture” – I agree, always have. As long as you understand that the way a Catholic sees scripture, and a Baptist sees scripture, and a Pentecostal, Methodist, etc., etc., etc., sees scripture … isn’t the same. Like I said, sometimes it’s the lens you look through that needs to shift a little, not the thing your looking at.

    Also worth saying: “Twist scripture in light of controversy” – there I draw the line.

    Another thing about that Bible Answer Man. He’s too evil-looking to be right. That’s a devil’s smile, if ever I saw one. 😉

  15. Darryl Sloan says:

    Earl,

    “I’m of the reasoned opinion that these Nephilim were confined to the antediluvian world and would been have swept away in the flood if they weren’t of the natural order.”

    The Book of Enoch goes as far as saying the Nephilim were the main reason for the Flood taking place – the purging of humanity’s corrupted bloodlines, as it were.

    Although when Genesis 6 states, “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterwards,” that appears to mean after the Flood. A suggestion that the ethnic cleansing was not entirely successful, or the cross-breeding was done again later? Who knows. What’s clear from the human race today is that we are indeed fully human. But I think we should remain open to this “doozie” 😉 being a genuine pre-Flood event.

    “Don’t get me wrong, though, discussion like this is great as long as perspective is maintained. It’s much more interesting than watching mind numbing TV.”

    It sure is.

  16. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    Your five points not withstanding, I still think your logic is leading you in the wrong direction, for the reasons I previously have given. I appreciate that you are trying to keep an open mind and think such matters through to see where they lead, and I support you. But I don’t agree with your process of deduction and the conclusions derived thereof.

    If you think that my criticisms of your reasoning process on these matters, and my thoughts on how rashly your conclusions seem to have been reached, indicate a lack of openness on my part to really think things through simply because I don’t like the conclusions… all I can say, then, is fair enough. Do you really think I relished the conclusions of my investigation into Catholicism? The fact is, I’m as open to all the possibilities as anyone really can be (yes, I do actually think it’s possible that the Nephilim could have been some sort of tall non-human species – albeit very remotely possible), but I really can’t entertain fantastic possibilities in the natural realm just off the back of a couple of Bible verses – that’s just too closed-minded for me, and is reminiscent of Sola Scriptura-derived reasoning, which I reject with all that my feeble intellect can muster.

    I’m sorry, I don’t really think there’s much point in continuing this particular discussion with you, and I’m going to bow out now on wholly amicable terms. I will continue to read with much interest!

  17. Darryl Sloan says:

    Chris,

    I’m actually perfectly okay with us reaching different conclusions. All of these recent posts are really vehicles to discuss:

    – waking up to ways we’ve been conditioned
    – the dangers of holding rigid belief systems
    – the importance of open-mindedness all possibility

    And yeah, your conversion to Catholicism is a good example of seeing past the conditioning of our Protestant corner. Remember how hard it was for me to see where you were coming from in the beginning? The best cure for all the propaganda I had imbibed was actually when you loaned me Gabriele Amorth’s An Exorcist Tells His Story.

  18. Stacey says:

    Hey Darryl,

    Wow, I just read this whole blog train here. Sounds like your thinking on things has been constantly changing since last summer. So are you going to come out again this summer so we can have proper conversations instead of laborious postings?

  19. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Stacey.

    The change is my thinking is really confined to the past couple of weeks. If you look back in the blog, you’ll see that for the past year most of the posts were about more lighthearted and secular aspects of my life. Then, wham! Wake-up time. I just decided to let it all out instead of keeping it to myself.

    I would certainly love to come over and may do just that.

  20. GodIsWearingBlack says:

    Hey Darryl (It’s Paul),

    Just been having a look through the blogs and found this particular thread very interesting.

    I can remember a long, long time ago, participating in a bible study on this very subject, and found it just as interesting back then.
    Even as a born again Christian, happily clapping and taking the bible literally, et al, i still always had interests in aliens, UFOs, and other X-file-esq topics, but because of my beliefs at the time i tried to fit everything else into the Christian box, wihch wasn’t always easy to be honest!

    My main point on all of this would be that as human beings we are completely incapable of being open minded (as i’ve partly discussed with you in our emails).

    I would go so far as to suggest it is a very real form of ‘sins of the fathers’, where a child grows up in a certain society, under certain parenthood, etc, and is moulded a certain way because of it. Nurture Vs. Nature, if you will.

    We can all read those versus as individuals, with different beliefs/agendas, and each come up with a different conclusion, even if that difference is only a small one.
    Even people of the same belief will come to slightly different conclusions, because they have slightly different reasoning/needs/wants, etc.

    What makes it more difficult still is, it’s not even just about fears, comfort zones, etc, it’s so much more complicated, it isn’t always about positive things like comfort:
    In my own personal case, after going through a prolonged period of depression and self pity, i found myself looking at everything through a cloud of negativity. i was looking at, perceiving and judging everything through those eyes, seeing everything and everyone in a negative light and using that to justify the way i felt and feel sorry for myself even more, because i had to live in sucha world, etc.

    I’m on the change again in my life and i’ve already started seeing a change in my perspective, just because i’m feeling more positively, i’m already seeing some things differently, in a matter of days, just because of that, with no other explaination for that change, than an uplifting within.

  21. Darryl Sloan says:

    “My main point on all of this would be that as human beings we are completely incapable of being open minded (as i’ve partly discussed with you in our emails).”

    I would say that it’s our responsibility to transcend that attitude of mind and embrace greater openness to possibility beyond what we think we know. We must allow our deeply held beliefs to be changeable in light of new information. But too many people just seem to want to bend the information.

    “I’m on the change again in my life and i’ve already started seeing a change in my perspective, just because i’m feeling more positively, i’m already seeing some things differently, in a matter of days, just because of that, with no other explaination for that change, than an uplifting within.”

    I’m really glad to hear about that, Paul. I hope this is the beginning of you approaching some real joy in your life.

  22. GodIsWearingBlack says:

    Darryl said:
    “I would say that it’s our responsibility to transcend that attitude of mind and embrace greater openness to possibility beyond what we think we know. We must allow our deeply held beliefs to be changeable in light of new information. But too many people just seem to want to bend the information.”

    Even thinking there is anything beyond our own comprehension is a case of being led by what we already know/think/believe/hope though.

    Even the very thought that we should aim for better openness is contrived, stacking the outcome to be something you perceive to be a good thing. When in fact, openness could be a bad thing, as could enlightenment, if you go at them from a true open minded stance.

    I personally agree with you though, about trying to be open minded, trying to face things and see them for what they are, or at least being able to look back on them and judge them accordingly, when not in the throes of emotion, etc. I just don’t think we can get very far with it, in real terms, and i don’t think it will bring around some great global truth, or even personal truth, as there’s too many things that will get in the way, and bias our findings.

  23. Darryl Sloan says:

    “Even thinking there is anything beyond our own comprehension is a case of being led by what we already know/think/believe/hope though … Even the very thought that we should aim for better openness is contrived, stacking the outcome to be something you perceive to be a good thing. When in fact, openness could be a bad thing, as could enlightenment, if you go at them from a true open minded stance.”

    You really are twisted, aren’t you? 😉 That’s like saying there’s no such concept as nothingness, because nothingness is something. I don’t waste a lot of thought on those sort of minkf**ks. Pardon my French, but I can’t think of a better term for them.

    What you’re in danger of doing is losing any practical benefit from the straightforward statement I made.

    “I just don’t think we can get very far with it, in real terms, and i don’t think it will bring around some great global truth, or even personal truth, as there’s too many things that will get in the way, and bias our findings.”

    I don’t agree at all. Opennes to possibility is the antithesis of bias. It asks that you always keep your attachment to your findings flexible in light of new information. I think it’s the best method of working your way towards truth.

    You seem to be operating from the standpoint that you’re never going to get anywhere no matter what you do. Don’t you believe there’s actual objective truth about the world and the universe to be gleaned? I find the journey towards that truth exciting, and I feel personally that I’ve taken great strides over the years, both in terms of grasping important concepts and seeing through lies, but you seem determined believe you’ll never know anything about anything. I wish I knew how to give you some of that excitement back.

  24. GodIsWearingBlack says:

    When it comes down to it, open mindedness is really about believing that nothing is real and everything is real, all at once. The possibilities would be endless. It’s only when you start applying your own restrictions that nothingness becomes absurd.

    I think of things this way, when i was a born again Christian, i believed 100% in my faith, i saw things, felt things and did things that only served to convince me further of my faith. Someone could have (and they did, many times) questioned my faith, or claimed that it was bull, and i would just find that idea absurd. I couldn’t have been any more sure, at the time.

    Yet now, years later, i look back on those things with a completely different perspective, and the idea of there being a God, nevermind one that loves me and deserves my love back, is absurd. I’d love it to be true, i’d love that comfort and contentment, but i 100% believe he doesn’t exist now.
    So, although at that time my search for truth and enlightenment led me to believe in all of that and not only believe, but believe with every fibre of my being, it means nothing now, so it wasn’t really ‘truth’.

    You, yourself have done similar. I know you had your own faith, which seemed very real to you, yet now it’s not real at all and if anything, you seem to have slightly turned on it, seeing it as a negative thing? (I think). So any truth you find now, may well feel like and look like, the absolute truth, but what’s to say that 2 years from now you’ll have seen through it too, and moved onto something new?

    The problem with ‘seeking enlightenment’, in my opinion, is sometimes we get so desperate to find something that what we end up finding/accepting, can do is more harm than good. Just look at shows like Most Haunted Live, when they used to have live studio audiences, full of vulnerable people who have lost people they cared dearly about, clinging onto the hope of ghosts being real as it might mean their beloved isn’t ‘gone’, and might even be able to contact them and tell them they’re ok, to help them move on in life. Meanwhile Most Haunted rakes in the cash for advertising revenue and text message hotlines. 😀

    I agree with you though, i am twisted. lol. 🙂
    “The certain prospect of death could sweeten every life with a precious and fragrant drop of levity- and now you strange apothecary souls have turned it into an ill-tasting drop of poison that makes the whole of life repulsive.” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. 🙂

  25. Darryl Sloan says:

    “When it comes down to it, open mindedness is really about believing that nothing is real and everything is real, all at once.”

    Nope. That’s not what I meant at all. I meant a state of mind that refuses to let personal beliefs become sacred and unchangeable when under fire from new information.

    “The problem with ’seeking enlightenment’, in my opinion, is sometimes we get so desperate to find something that what we end up finding/accepting, can do is more harm than good.”

    I just don’t see it that way. For instance, even though I am (possibly) abandoning Christianity, I haven’t reverted back to athiesm. The core of my beliefs – that there is a God of some description, that there is life after death, etc. – have remained intact, because they are based on deep philosophical ideas that transcend my particular religion. Whilst I am open to change, even on these matter, it seems very unlikely that I will ever again embrace the strict scientific mindset that leads to athiesm, because I’ve seen through its failings.

    About seven years ago I came to realise certain things about life and the universe that led me away from agnosticism/athiesm, and I leapt into Christianity almost by reflex. Now I’m thinking that I may have made too great a leap. What I’m experiencing now I believe to be the refining of that leap to a more accurate conclusion, not that I was wrong to abandon athiesm.

    Your view of truth-seeking appears to be like seeing yourself as the ball on a pinball table. I don’t know how it ever got that way for you, but I don’t feel that way at all. And I think the worst thing you could do (and it’s something I’ve done in the past) is give up the quest.

  26. GodIsWearingBlack says:

    I agree with you about the Athiesm issue, and it’s the main reason i think athiesm has become a religion now, it’s been given too many rules, and treated like a belief system, where people start looking for proof that they’re right, and see it as the one true way.

    This is why i consider myself agnostic, i don’t claim to have the answers, nor do i need the answers i do have to be right, in fact, if anything i kinda hope i’m wrong.

    As human beings we’re all trying to find some ‘truth’, be it about ourselves, the universe around us, spiritual matters, etc, we’re all looking for something. Even athiests. The difference between us all though, is we’re all limited and restricted by different things, and we’re all wanting/needing/looking for different tihngs.

    An athiest might find some comfort in the fact that although life sucks and there’s nothing to look forward to when it ends, at least they know this, and won’t be disappointed when the myth is broken. A Christian finds comfort in Christ, the Muslim, Mohammad (sp?), etc. The new agers in Enlightenment and life essence/auras, etc. 😀

    I’ve not given up the quest, btw, i may have various answers at the moment, but i’m under no illusion that my answers are ‘the truth’, or that this really is it. The way i see it i’m always going to be on that quest, and my answers will change as i see/learn/hear/feel/experience different things.

    Like you’ve said, god doesn’t stop existing because people don’t believe in him, the same applies to everything else. There are millions of theories about aliens, UFO’s, etc, many rational scientific reasonings by the best minds in the world, but if tomorrow afternoon a large spacecraft hovered over London and gave ‘signs and wonders’, all those boffins would have to accept they were wrong.

    If tomorrow afternoon i’m faced with ‘an angel of the lord’, surrounded by flames and great majesty, telling me to change my ways, i’d probably have to rethink things a little. 😀 Either that or call an ambulance and tell them i’m having a seizure. lol.

  27. Darryl Sloan says:

    I guess I’m just concerned that you may be imposing an unnecessarily pessimistic viewpoint on yourself. I was agnostic for years, and don’t have good memories of the outlook on life it gave me. It was extremely difficult for me to move beyond agnosticism to something definite, but I got there in the end. I hope you can, too.

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