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32 comments | Monday, May 15, 2006

The growing trend of castigating Christians and their views due to an alleged intellectual inferiority is deplorable in many ways. All too often many non-believers refuse to honestly and seriously consider the Christian viewpoint. How do I know this? When I see the complete misrepresentation, lack of understanding, complete failure to present the opposing view point, and in some cases utter hostility—I become suspect of any honest inquiry performed to reach ones conclusions. Moreover, when a non-believer continually demonstrates an unreserved lack of interest in their opponents view point in their own criticisms, it shows either their inability or complete refusal to test the merits of their own view point.

This is probably the most difficult aspect of the atheist/theist interaction. Often, Christianity is dismissed without sufficient consideration (or vise versa). Though this accusation is explicitly denied, it will usually pervade in the arguments of the one whom holds to the position (weather consciously or not). Atheist or theist, all one is doing is treating the other person/position with contempt. Forthrightly, I am growing tired of being categorized as inferior because I am Christian. The misconception is that one his somehow more rational to be a skeptic than a believer.

On the same note, Christians should not dogmatically aim to enforce their convictions on others in an effort to militantly convert, but aim to persuade them of Christianity’s vitality through love, reason, and compassion. The act of persuasion necessarily entails engagement; unfortunately, this is the very thing that aggravates non-believers. A large portion of this aggravation is due to an ineffective or inappropriate apologetic approach. Increasingly though, I have found the hesitancy for faith based discussion, even with various approaches to be futile with many non-believers. This is not because non-believers have found substantial objections that silence the Christian apology, but rather, the complete disinterest in any such engagement. For what ever reason, there is a sect of skepticism that has fashioned itself into cynicism. The cynicism now permeates through the blogsphere.

Part of the problem is that there has been a detrimental failure upon Christians to give thoughtful reasons why they believe, which is a possibility why many non-believers would rather not converse with Christians. It’s not as if we must have stock answers for every objection. I certainly have not been able to readily answer every objection that’s come across my path. But the general viewpoint of Christianity is irrationality. Atheist George Smith notes his distaste for interactions with Christians in the following paragraph:


The first thing I want to point out is rather depressing to some people. Since reasonableness is a habit to be learned, not everyone is capable of conducting a good argument. For that matter, not everyone is capable of arguing in an intelligible sense at all. Argument is also a skill that has to be learned and practiced. What this means is that, for the most part, you are probably wasting your time if you argue with many religionists, for the simple reason that many of these religionists are incapable of arguing well. It's almost like you have to educate some Christians before you can persuade them to atheism. You have to first convince them that they should be concerned with what's true and what's not. They should be able to distinguish between rational and irrational argument. And so on and so on. And then two months later, you might be able to say to this person that if they carry this out, it will lead them to atheism. But unless you have a lot of personal interest in this person, unless they are personally significant to you, you will probably not want to waste a lot of your time educating or re-educating this person to the principles of reason. What do you do? Some people just give up on the person. Some people, you have to.



George Smith’s observations paint with a wide brush; however, I think the same observation can be applied to many (not all) self proclaimed atheists today. All one needs to do is replace “Christians” or “religionists” with “Atheists.”

It is important for Christians, to maintain and communicate a distinct Christian worldview. Truth emerges as differing perspectives dialogue with one another in the kind of marketplace of ideas; privatization of these ideas only hinders the ability to reach an informed position.

However, it seems that those of secularism don’t want to or are unwilling to dialogue—the discussion is over. They would rather muzzle the mouths of religion. However, in rejecting religion, secularism has only become a religion itself. When skeptics close the door in the face of Christianity, they have only locked them self in a room where they can pat each other on the back and join in on their own parade of intellectual superiority. James E. Faust notes:


The civil religion I refer to is a secular religion. It has no moral absolutes. It is nondenominational. It is non-theistic. It is politically focused. It is antagonistic to religion. It rejects the historic religious traditions of America. It feels strange. If this trend continues, non-belief will be more honored than belief. While all beliefs must be protected, are atheism, agnosticism, cynicism, and moral relativism to be more safeguarded and valued than Christianity, Judaism, and the tenets of Islam, which hold that there is a Supreme Being and that mortals are accountable to him? If so, this would, in my opinion, place America in great moral jeopardy.



Skepticism is noting new and I don’t take much issue with it. However, I think sometimes it’s taken to a counterproductive extreme driven by alternative motives. All the Christian is really asking for is to treat us and our position with respect and give our arguments the honest consideration they deserve. Skeptics will have to realize that Christianity is something they will have to contend with on a serous level sometime or another. Sooner or later, the facade of intellectual superiority with mocking, ridicule, and jokes will grow old and fade away and they will have to deal with Christianity on a serious note. It’s time to be honest with oneself.

G.K. Chesterton said, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

In regards to the cynicism that now permeates through our culture, it seems that fruitful discussion has ended.

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32 Comments:

Blogger Simon said...

The problem I have is I can't take the Christian stories as real and quite often they are absurd or comical. Now, Christians say I'm born a sinner, even though I don't believe, so it's not as if their belief has nothing to do with me. If Christians are going to make statements about non-believers (eg: you will go to hell if you don't repent), I think it's only fair we can speak our minds in return.

5/15/2006 3:21 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

I don’t take issue with the fact that someone is unconvinced. However, there is a difference between not being convinced and mocking the opponent’s viewpoint because you’re not convinced. Secondly, it’s not the case that Christian beliefs have nothing to do with you. If Christianity is true, then you ought to know about it. Likewise, just because you don’t believe that fire wont burn you, it doesn’t mean that when you put your hand over the candle you won’t be burned. Christians are talking about reality, not Santa Clause as you guys (assuming atheists in general) would have everyone believe.

Now, you’re completely ignoring the fact that when you’re approached by Christians, they are telling you a FREE way to salvation. You’re already separated from God; it’s not because they “tell you.” If you knew that someone was going to get hit by a truck when they crossed the road tomorrow would you not tell them? You see, the message is not “your going to hell unless…”; rather, it’s-- here is the solution to an eternal problem. You guys like to capitalize on “hell” and play victim, but completely ignore the solution.

Why can’t you speak your mind without disparagement, hostility and abhorrence? Perhaps then, discussion could show that what you think is “comical” or “absurd” is really not.

Take care

5/15/2006 5:35 PM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Simon
Now, Christians say I'm born a sinner.
we're all in the same boat. Sin is simply separation from God. What separates us from God is our own narcissism, love of oneself. As soon as the baby leaves the womb, if not before, everything is about them. We struggle with this "me first" paradigm all our lives. It is inescapable. Just as a dragon fly is doomed never to be able to read poetry, we are inherently unable to eliminate the wall between our creator and ourselves on our own. This is why the fulfillment of the law of God is to love one another, and love God above all, and why Christ was needed.

quite often they (Christian stories) are absurd or comical

Which ones? Is it a possibility that no one ever explained their real meaning to you?

The idea of winners and losers, heaven for winners or hell for losers, is a more recent corruption of God's Word. Remember that Jesus said "Thy kingdom come". Heaven comes to you, that's the beauty of it, but if you reject God's free gift, you place that gift in doubt, don't you? Only God knows all outcomes. Postmodernism says "no one" gets to say, but Christianity says that "God gets to say". Fair enough?
Christendom has made many wrong turns. Read through BF's archives and you will see a Christian who is also critical of Christians.
Much of my own criticism is directed to popular Christian clowns. Those who speak for Christ are picking up a very hot torch. They better hold it upright!
Take care.

5/15/2006 8:40 PM

 
Anonymous karen said...

Why can’t you speak your mind without disparagement, hostility and abhorrence?
Maybe it's not a backlash against the believer to whom I am speaking, but anger at myself for once having been so foolish, anger at my parents for brainwashing me with faulty information and not allowing room for comparative thought.

Perhaps it's because I am viewed as a pariah and an evil-doer simply because of my non-belief. It tends to chafe after a while. The intellectual superiority you say non-theist claim can be countered with the moral superiority that Christians claim. Notice I did not say theists, but Christians. Neither of the other Abrahamic religions does this.

Perhaps it's because it's so rare for a theist to just want to have a discussion without the underlying attempt at conversion.
You say All the Christian is really asking for is to treat us and our position with respect and give our arguments the honest consideration they deserve. I say, non-theists want this too. But you are not treating us with respect if it is your agenda to make believers of us. We do NOT want to make non-believers of you. We simply ask that we be given equal rights and consideration, and that you keep your religion to yourselves: it should be a private matter.

Skeptics will have to realize that Christianity is something they will have to contend with on a serous level sometime or another
We deal with Christianity on a serious level day in and day out, from the very birth of our skepticism. We can't please you anyway. If we are completely rational, unmocking and serious, you see us as a threat and label us militant, angry, selfish, intolerant. All things, it seems, it is righteous for a Christian to be in defense of his/her faith, but unbecoming in the non-believer.



Perhaps then, discussion could show that what you think is “comical” or “absurd” is really not.

5/19/2006 2:10 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps then, discussion could show that what you think is “comical” or “absurd” is really not.

Sorry, I forgot I had this to speak to yet.

No, I doubt any discussion could achieve that goal. You are idealizing fictional stories.
Bring some proof to the table, and we'll see how it stands up. Otherwise, we might as well be talking about Santa Claus. Hey-YOU brought him up.

5/19/2006 2:15 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Karen,

I find it difficult to belief your read my post in its entirety. In your response, you have demonstrated the very cynical mentality that I was talking about.

Regarding being looked down upon by your “unbelief” I sated in my post:

Christians should not dogmatically aim to enforce their convictions on others in an effort to militantly convert, but aim to persuade them of Christianity’s vitality through love, reason, and compassion

Regarding bringing “proof to the table” is stated in my post:

Part of the problem is that there has been a detrimental failure upon Christians to give thoughtful reasons why they believe, which is a possibility why many non-believers would rather not converse with Christians

Regarding keeping my religion to “myself” I stated:

Privatization of these ideas only hinder the ability to reach an informed position.

Besides your forcing your view of privatization of religion on me when you try to censor evangelism.

You said, “I doubt any discussion could achieve that goal [to show that Christianity is NOT absurd]. You are idealizing fictional stories.”

I have exposed myself to thinking contrary to my own personal beliefs far more than most people. In the process I have frequently changed my mind about various things. Your attempt to dismiss me as a narrow-minded obscurantist who refuses to consider seriously alternative points of view couldn't be more wrong. It is again condescension on your part.

5/19/2006 3:09 PM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hi Karen,
You said I say, non-theists want this too. But you are not treating us with respect if it is your agenda to make believers of us.

Do you see a double-standard there? You're just trying to get your point across, but Christians are trying to "evangelize". Isn't it true that both Christians and atheists are just trying to get their point across? Wouldn't that kind of double-standard qualify as censorship, as BF suggested?

At the end of the day, the discussion is about what IS and what is not, which is why both atheists and Christians are passionate about it. I think we must ask ourselves why other people think what they think. We should look at their experience (education, upbringing, family life, etc.) and try to follow their reasoning.
Of course, we shouldn't proceed until we've first performed this exorcism on our own selves. Fair enough?
My question to you is based on this premise, since the only way someone could not believe that Christ was who he said he was was that he was a fiction or that others embellished his story. The question: What precludes your belief that he was divine?
I promise to respond to your answer not with evangelism but with detailed historic information.
I hope for a fruitful discussion.
Take care.

5/19/2006 6:01 PM

 
Anonymous karen said...

BF
I did indeed read your post in it's entirety.
And though I was trying not to be antagonistic in my response, I will readily admit to being very cynical about Christianity. I am much moreso about it than any other religion.
Most likely because I was raised in it and know the damage it can cause first-hand. Also because it is the only evangelical religion-at least in my scope and experience. I have never been accosted by a member of any other religion. It is also the religion of record which seeks to bend all people in this country to its tenets by finagling itself into our laws, where it does not belong.

I noted your comment about Christians should not dogmatically aim to enforce their convictions on others in an effort to militantly convert,... and find it admirable. That does not change the fact that I am indeed looked down upon for my non-belief. What you yourself would like to see Christians do and what they in fact do, are two very different things. This contributes to my frustration and cynicism. I am stating the truth of my experience to show how it colors my views. I can't alter it to make it fit your perception of your religion.
Regarding bringing “proof to the table” is stated in my post:

Part of the problem is that there has been a detrimental failure upon Christians to give thoughtful reasons why they believe, which is a possibility why many non-believers would rather not converse with Christians

Yes, my comment was partly in response to your comment there. I forgot to include it after I forgot that I had separated out that quote about
"comical and absurd".

Is it really that difficult to absorb that many believers believe simply because they were taught to? If you had been raised in the ME, you would most likely be a Muslim rather than a Christian. Do you really think that you would find the call to Christ so powerful that you would depart from Allah for him?
It IS a problem and a deficit that Christians don't give thoughtful reasons for their belief. I find they don't WANT to think about it too hard, because it does raise doubts.
And often the "proof" they try to bring to the table is faith
, not proof.

Regarding keeping my religion to “myself” I stated:

Privatization of these ideas only hinder the ability to reach an informed position.

Besides your forcing your view of privatization of religion on me when you try to censor evangelism.


It is quite possible to reach an informed position on religion without having IGWT on our money, the 10 C's in courtrooms and other public areas, Under God " in the pledge, and a person eager to talk to me about the Bible on my front porch. Anyone seeking religious information or fellowship has plenty of sources in which to find it. All I am saying is let the customer come to you.
As for my forcing my view of privatization of religion...you know, you're welcome to approach me in the grocery store or on the street, or to make a television special or write a book. But don't insinuate your views into the government, unless you're willing to have EVERY other religious and non-religious belief represented every time you do it.

Your attempt to dismiss me as a narrow-minded obscurantist who refuses to consider seriously alternative points of view couldn't be more wrong. It is again condescension on your part.
Well, you give me far too much credit.
I didn't even know what an obscurantist was until you prodded me to look it up just now.
I wasn't trying to dismiss you at all. If so, I simply would not even try to talk to you. I have no way of knowing what other POV, serious or not, you have considered, if you don't tell me.
Just as you don't know what I may think is comical or absurd about Christianity. All I said was that I doubted discussion would change that, and THAT'S the other part of what I was directing the comment about proof toward.
I am very sorry if you find it condescending for me to say w/o proof, God may as well be Santa Claus. I don't know how to get around the fact that one is no more real than the other-to me. I would have felt insulted at one point in time by that remark myself, but when I looked at my beliefs and why I had them, what they were based upon, they fell apart.
I apologize for thinking that you cling to ideas that should have been outgrown. But I don't know how to think about it differently. It just doesn't make sense to me.
I'm just making it worse, aren't I?
I'm curious as to why you believe.I may just be terribly bad at discussing it politely, because I was making a sincere effort in that regard.
sorry.
karen

5/19/2006 6:22 PM

 
Anonymous karen said...

Hi Jim
Do you see a double-standard there? You're just trying to get your point across, but Christians are trying to "evangelize". Isn't it true that both Christians and atheists are just trying to get their point across? Wouldn't that kind of double-standard qualify as censorship, as BF suggested?
The difference is, non-believers don't go around inserting "There is no god, and YOU too, should not believe in one" at every opportunity. NOT having the words "In God We Trust" on our money does not take away from your religion. But HAVING them on the money insinuates your religion into a part of my life where it is neither necessary nor welcome. Non-believers do not go into churches and give their two cents worth. But a believer will literally knock on my door and try to enter my home to tell me what to believe.
Would you be comfortable if devil worshippers were evangelizing? Would you like it if our money said "In some gods we trust"? How would you feel if your child was in a classroom and the pledge didn't have the words "Under God" in it, but she added them and all the atheist children (she's the only believer)turned and gave her hard stares or threatened her?
BF says he's tired of being called inferior because of his beliefs. Suppose you were told you didn't deserve to be an American because of them?
No, I don't see a double standard. I'm not denying you your beliefs. I'm saying don't try to standardize them for the rest of us.
BF said:"it’s not the case that Christian beliefs have nothing to do with you. If Christianity is true, then you ought to know about it."
Christian beliefs have no more to do with me than Aztec beliefs or Greco-Roman Pantheon beliefs. All are things I ought to know about as a well-educated person, but it has nothing to do with their truth. And there's that big IF in there. Let me worry about what happens to me IF it's true; it's really not your concern.

I think we must ask ourselves why other people think what they think. We should look at their experience (education, upbringing, family life, etc.) and try to follow their reasoning.I agree. If they are willing to share this information, it is very helpful in understanding another's POV.
Of course, we shouldn't proceed until we've first performed this exorcism on our own selves. Fair enough?Agreed. Done there; been that.
My question to you is based on this premise, since the only way someone could not believe that Christ was who he said he was was that he was a fiction or that others embellished his story. The question: What precludes your belief that he was divine?
Maybe not the ONLY avenues for disbelief, but we'll go with them for now.
My answers, in no particular order:
a. I don't even know that he really existed.
b. His claims are not physically possible. Oh right...divinity. Ok, I don't believe in divinity (other than the kind you can eat) because of a lack of evidence.
b-1. Comparison to other "divinities"
and the realization that none of them is any more valid than the other. If no god of thunder, then why Jesus?
c. In my own experience with "him" , he came up short...a divinely dismal failure.
d.The Bible- it's so full of contradiction and "Absurdity" that it is not a reliable source of information on the subject. The story of Christ would have been more believeable if it had been its own work, completely dissociated from the rest of it.
e. The idea that he was human and a god simultaneaously.
f. that's it -for now. I reserve the right to add more as I think of them.

Cheers.
karen

Oh, BTW, you told Simon that sin was simply separation from God. I thought Hell was supposed to be separation from God. At least, that's what another Christian tells me.

5/19/2006 7:48 PM

 
Anonymous karen said...

Hey Jim,
I was just rereading that last question and I think my bulb may have gone a bit dim on it. Was I supposed to pick one of the two choices -fiction or embellishment? Do I only get one?
I do think the stories are embellished, but if he's fiction, then embellishment is a moot point.

It's late. I'm tired.
You guys wear me out.
But it's a good wearing.

cheers again.
k.

5/19/2006 7:58 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Karen,

I just noticed your response; I will give you a response in time. I will be traveling for the weekend. Though I will have my laptop with me—I don’t know how much (if any) time I will have to address your questions.

5/19/2006 9:42 PM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hi Karen

Good answers. Your honesty is appreciated. Re sin and hell. Hell being the absence of God and sin being separation from God I think you'll see they're interconnected.

a)Did Jesus really exist? There is historic evidence of Jesus' existence particularly in the results of his ministry in the decades after his time on earth. Christianity rose quickly being porpagated by the very people he walked with. The persecution of Roman Christians in AD 64-67 is well-documented. Peruse Lee Stroebel's "The Case for Christ".
b. His outrageous claims. If he wasn't who he said he was, why would the disciples deliver themselves to the extreme suffering and physical deaths they endured if they KNEW that their leader couldn't deliver them? Even the most hardened skeptic would have to admit this mystery.
Other religions have to defend their claims as well. I'll leave that to another debate.
c) You say he came up short in your personal experience. I won't pry, but did anything good ever come out of your suffering?
d) I too thought the Bible was a mixture of 1-hooey, 2-embellishment, and 3-a little truth (yes, you had three choices). I certainly don't hold that view after 5 years of intense study. Just as we listen to a person who differs from us to understand where they are coming from, I recommend looking at the bible w/o prejudging it. Many of my complaints evaporated because I laid aside my materialistic presuppositions. The best way to judge the OT is that it is a foretelling of the NT. To some extent you are right that the OT hinders or complicates the story of Christ. Ultimately, the OT greatly enhances the NT but not all people have the patience to study it that deeply.
e) Fully human and fully God. Yeah, I admit that's hard to pull off. 2 points, 1- going back to IF he was who he said he was then he could pull it off. 2 - If he didn't take this sacrificial execution for our benefit (if as the Gnostics liked to believe he didn't feel the pain of it) then there are limitations to our faith.
One last point. I think a new-born baby is Exhibit A in the question "Is anything divine?" That minuscule cells that are themselves packed with information, come together in a perfectly organized way to create a thing as complicated as a baby is by definition NOT an accident and it's NOT something WE had anything to do with.

I enjoy these discussions. Atheists aren't irrational people per se and I've known some who are more generous than a lot of Christians. I believe BF was referring specifically to the dogmatic atheist. The common ground we have is that we agree that we should love others at least as much as we love ourselves. When we do that then everything falls into its proper place.
Take care.

5/20/2006 6:21 AM

 
Anonymous karen said...

Morning Jim
a.) There are numerous other religions for which there is documentation of a following that involve no human being representing the god(s) in question. Would those religions be more valid if a person had assumed the god identity and later been sacrificed?
I can cede the point that a person named Jesus may have lived, and wandered, preaching goodness and love. And that he may have been strung up on a cross for tipping the applecart of the times.
But for someone as important and threatening politically as Christ was supposed to have been, I would expect there to be some documentation other than what came from his own inside group.
b.)If he wasn't who he said he was, why would the disciples deliver themselves to the extreme suffering and physical deaths they endured if they KNEW that their leader couldn't deliver them?
People have done crazier things for less motivation.
"Believe and you will believe." (TM)
A charismatic person is often able to make a small group of people believe outlandish things.
Times were hard. and the religious menu was harsh. Along comes a fellow with a new plan, and a soft sell-at the beginning. He believes it, and his
passion for the idea is contagious. Then, when he makes the ultimate sacrifice, his followers become even more impressed and impassioned, to the point that they believe they see him rise again. It is vital that they believe this, because it's integral to their being able to carry on in his name-and thus justify the years of sacrifice they have already dedicated to the mission-and face the same possible consequences. Christ's death elevated the rest of the followers to the leadership position.
Who really knows why they would continue if it wasn't real? Power? Pride? They've already rejected what they once believed to take on this new faith, so going back to the old faith would be rather empty. What to do?
Believe and you will believe.

c.)but did anything good ever come out of your suffering? That question makes me want to laugh hysterically, shake my head sadly, and put my fist through the wall at the same time.
Since I don't know what path my life may have taken without the suffering, how can I know what "good" is related to it
AH! But here's one: The suffering was in part responsible for my examination of my faith. No longer putting faith in fairy tales is a good thing, for me.
But what does good coming from suffering show, and how does it relate to the validity of Christ?
If good comes from suffering, then should we make it a standard practice to abuse, torture and rape children?
d.) I too thought the Bible was a mixture of 1-hooey, 2-embellishment, and 3-a little truth ...
Well, even Alice in Wonderland had some truth in it.
But help me out here. What do you mean by this:Many of my complaints evaporated because I laid aside my materialistic presuppositions.
What would they be?
I really don't think I can look at the Bible with an open mind, to tell you the truth. What I already know about it clouds the issue. And I resent the implication that if I don't see it in a certain way, then that's because I haven't studied it properly. Not that I sense that implication in what you're saying, but it is common in discussions about Bible study. Seems like if there were a right way to look at it, there wouldn't be so much contention over it. And if I were an omni-god, directing the story of me, and my code for living I think I would have done a much better job at making myself clear.
The OT as a foretelling of the NT?
My problem with that is that OT god is supposed to be perfect(would like to know his definition, cos it doesn't match mine), yet he can't get through to his creations, so he changes. Pretty weak. If he's such a know-it-all, why not be a man to begin with?
e.) IF he was who he said he was. IF, IF, IF. If pigs could fly...
and 2. What limitations to faith are there w/o the sacrificial execution for our benefit?
If christ hadn't been crucified-had he gone on his merry way, preaching and dying of old age-he wouldn't have been worship-worthy? There was no other way for an all-powerful god to say, "EH, what the hell, I forgive you and offer you salvation."
What, salvation isn't worth it if there's no blood involved?

Newborn babies are divine in the colloquial meaning of the word, but not in the sense of anything godly.
The only thing we had to do with it is contributing genetic material to get the ball rolling. Faulty DNA will not result in a "divine" baby, if one at all. That is the beauty of nature. Do you extend this divinity to a baby warthog, or a baby mosquito?
Are you uncomfortable without a hand on the steering wheel? Why does someone have to be driving nature?

Thank you for the discussion.
I hope I didn't get out of line. I had
to do some emotional reining-in after that good from suffering point. Even rereading what I've written, I'm not sure how well I contained. It's hard to tell when I'm in a flux state.

5/20/2006 10:00 AM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Good afternoon Karen,
At least it's afternoon here in Florida.
people have done crazier things for less motivation
Consider that the wackos in Waco, TX had seen an expose on David Koresh, or had seen him murdered, and had watched his body decompose. They would have given up there crazy quest, I think. Likewise, the disciples, having scene a rotting Jesus, would not go out proclaiming everlasting life. Just a thought.
___
About materialistic presuppositions. When we see the God of the OT destroy a city, we think "how cruel", "it's not worth that, they weren't that bad". We juxtapose our culture's preference for material things and lowering of the bar of evil onto the bible. You said you had trouble looking at the bible objectively. Most people do. It's true that the NT is a lot easier to read from a modern point of view.
_____________________
The benefit of the crucifixion. The crucifixion is the worst thing that could happen. In turning that into the best thing (for those who believe), God shows that no matter what we do, he will overcome it.
Also, the prophecies of the OT were fulfilled by Christ, some 300 of them. According to the bible, it's the path God chose.
___________________________
About babies, do you really think that could happen by accident? I'm still waiting for my daughter's bedroom to be cleaned by accident. And, yes, I believe, baby warthogs and baby mosquitos are miracles too.
About driving nature. It wouldn't be a bad thing if something was driving it. I kind of like having someone behind the wheel when I'm riding in a car, don't you?
________________________
Re: Good out of suffering. I know this subject is a hornet's nest for many people. Sorry about that. In my case I might think I wasted several years trapped in an aimless job, but then I met my wife at that job. And from that I have my daughter. W/o the job, no wife, no daughter. Were the 5 years wasted? I don't think so. I am an optimist (obviously).
___________________
I think we can all agree that if we love one another at least as much as we love ourselves, we'll have a better world. And no, you weren't out of line.
Always a good dialog. Take care.

5/20/2006 11:15 AM

 
Anonymous karen said...

Jim
Well, it WAS morning when I began my post to you today. But I spent quite a while on it and it was afternoon when I actually sent it! We're in the same time zone.
Yeah, if ONLY Koresch's follower's could have seen a test of his metal. Lives might have been saved.
I don't recall any references to Christ in a rotting state. When he was supposedly seen again, he had his wounds, but apparently was otherwise fresh as a daisy. Which leads me to believe he wasn't actually seen at all, that this was an embellishment.
Perhaps he never died and was scurried away. At any rate, coming upon an empty tomb, the followers had to come up with an explanation that would further their cause, and not make them look like they had put all their time and energy into the wrong horse. So the body was not stolen, or just inexplicably missing...it had ascended! AND...TADA!...some of them had witnessed it! But would not think to write anything down about it for several decades....hmmm.

Materialistic presuppositions...
Afraid I'm not getting it. When I think of OT god destroying a city, it's not the city itself that concerns me...it's the life within the city. What did the babies do that merited a death sentence/ Or the dogs, horses and chickens? What was evil about them? How do you reconcile this with a loving, benificent god? You're absolutely right. I do think, "How cruel." What about it isn't cruel?
An all-powerful god has any number of devices at hand he could use to employ discipline. Yet this is what he chooses? Not very creative or inspiring, except to fear.

The benefit of the crucifixion.
Get lemons, make lemonade, eh?
Worst that could happen? Death, yes, but in terms of how he died, it could have been worse. Tons of people were crucified, without the benefit of being gods at the same time. What really is the sacrifice, if you know it's for show, and you'll be right as rain again? Big deal.

And you didn't answer...why the need for blood and suffering for salvation?

Seems to me salvation would mean more if the individual had to put forth some effort, rather than putting all the burden on a guy who was killed 200 years ago. Like being schooled...you don't learn anything if you let someone else do your homework for you.

About babies...
It's not an accident. It's a finely tuned process that has been being sculpted by nature since the first hint of buiding material found its way into existence. Now we put the ingredients together, but we never know for sure that it will turn out as we hope until the baby-of whatever species -is born.
I kind of like having someone behind the wheel when I'm riding in a car, don't you?But I get the impression you think that if you're driving the car, you aren't driving it alone.

Good out of suffering. There's suffering and there's suffering. No offence, but being an adult in an aimless job for 5 years is not what I had in mind. That's kind of a free will argument there. I'm talking about
something over which you had no power or choice.
But I'm glad you met your wife and have your daughter.
______________________
__I think we can all agree that if we love one another at least as much as we love ourselves, we'll have a better world. Agreed. And if we could get theists to recognize that it's possible to do so without answering to a god, perhaps they wouldn't feel so threatened by non-belief.
Love can't be legislated. Trying to force others to live by your rules isn't love.

I'm enjoying the communication.
Somehow, I get the feeling you're gathering information for discussion in Sunday school or somesuch. Don't know why, maybe that you avoid some of my questions.
If you ever want to discuss anything and not take up BF's blog space, I am
kagee630@earthlink.net.

adieu

5/20/2006 1:46 PM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hi Karen,
Good day. Good responses. I'll just respond in sequence.

But would not think to write anything down about it for several decades....hmmm.

That's not a certainty. There were several modes of writing available in 33 AD. It is generally accepted that an ancient writing that survived the ravages of time most likely had an earlier written version. The best way to date a document's first writing is by the events described and the language used.Hmmmm is about as much as can be said against the biblical narrative.

People have done crazier things for less motivation

The qualifiers here were
1) Knew Christ was not the way to eternal life by seeing with their own eyes.
2) Still the apostles gave there lives willingly expecting eternal life.
If ONLY they had seen Koresh for what he was. Your words. Whatever Jesus was, the apostles were eyewitnesses to it. No one gave their life for Koresh after Waco. Did anyone survive?

Tons of people were crucified

True, but none were God incarnate. That's why it's so important to understand that Jesus is God. If it is true that he is God, every person is impacted by it. It's the tail that wags the dog of humanity, so to speak :)

About babies...
It's not an accident. It's a finely tuned process that has been being sculpted by nature since the first hint of buiding material found its way into existence. Now we put the ingredients together, but we never know for sure that it will turn out as we hope until the baby-of whatever species -is born.


You reveal an underlying intelligence here. We don't know until it happens? How does nature sculpt something? Sounds like "Weekend At Bernie's" to me!


And if we could get theists to recognize that it's possible to do so without answering to a god, perhaps they wouldn't feel so threatened by non-belief.

True. That's why the Love your neighbor principle is so important for the atheist. It's a kind of passive belief for the unbeliever that is less egregious than telling God to get lost.

I think it serves us well to look more deeply at Jesus' call that He is the only way. Remember that although he was fully man, he was fully God (OK, that's our belief), but if this is true, then he, too, is Love. "He who lives in love lives in God, and God in Him" 1 John 4:16. Is it really to someone's benefit to say they accept Jesus as Savior yet they hate everybody? I know people like that, and their Jesus is a straw Jesus.

I get the feeling you're gathering information for discussion in Sunday school or somesuch

That doesn't surprise me. I teach 12-15 year olds a weekly bible study. It's rubbing off on me.

Take care,
Jim

P.S. - I just saw it - materialistic presuppositions. I will respond to your question tonight.

5/22/2006 2:14 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Karen,

In response to your comments;

“[T]hough I was trying not to be antagonistic in my response, I will readily admit to being very cynical about Christianity. I am much moreso about it than any other religion.

Most likely because I was raised in it and know the damage it can cause first-hand. Also because it is the only evangelical religion-at least in my scope and experience. I have never been accosted by a member of any other religion. It is also the religion of record which seeks to bend all people in this country to its tenets by finagling itself into our laws, where it does not belong.”


Christianity has not just been the center point of antagonism in America; but around the globe. I have had multiple conversations with Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and others and they all claim exclusivity with out any measure of hesitancy. Their numbers are smaller in America, but their zeal is just as evangelical—if they had no zeal and didn’t disseminate their message, they would no longer exist as a religion.

Secondly, you stated you were “raised in [Christianity] and know the damage it can cause first-hand.” A couple of thoughts--the first is that, from previous discussion, I know you to be a moral relativist (unless you have changed your position). Therefore, the alleged “damage” that was witnessed is only relative to the culture and social conditionings—maybe even some evolved genetic traits influencing the thoughts. However, there is no absolute “damage” to make any accusation upon. Moreover, you failed to mention, or give an example of the damage you were talking about. How does it exactly correlate to the message of Christ? Is it the logical or illogical outworking of Christianity?

The government is in its purpose, is the will of the people. How exactly has Christianity “finagled” itself into the laws? When liberals or secularists impose their views on others, such as attempts to, legalizing drugs, abortion, gay marriage etc, it’s perfectly okay. However, when and individual or group takes the opposing view, suddenly, it is trying to force their view on others or institute “religion”. More specifically, if that opposing view is relevant to Christianity, or hints toward biblical principals, it becomes automatically rejected not because of the merits of the position, but because of an underlining motive that may be influencing the position. Does the fact that there may be a select few who want to create a theocracy (which I personally oppose) affect the merits of Christianity itself? I don’t think so. It seems more apparent that your rejection of Christianity is motivated by emotional reasons rather than rational ones.

“What you yourself would like to see Christians do and what they in fact do, are two very different things. This contributes to my frustration and cynicism. I am stating the truth of my experience to show how it colors my views. I can't alter it to make it fit your perception of your religion.”

I speak out against bashing others, yet you cheer Christian bashing and participate in mockery. On either side, I find it nauseating. If you throw mud, you’re not only getting your own hands dirty; you lose a lot of ground. I don’t sanction the bashing of others and I speak against it. Perhaps if more would call out those who do in their own camps instead of cheering it on with “amen” or “ramen” it might diminish.

I am not asking you to fit “my perception” of anything. For example, what if I took all the cynical, rancid and detestable things atheists have said about Christianity and asserted that this was atheism? Do the acts of certain atheists determine the character of atheism?

“Is it really that difficult to absorb that many believers believe simply because they were taught to?”

I am sure many people identify themselves as Christians because they were taught to. However, what does that have to do with the truth claims of Christianity? I myself did not become a Christina until I was 21. Is it really difficult to absorb that many Christians have good reasons to be Christian? Apparently so.

“If you had been raised in the ME, you would most likely be a Muslim rather than a Christian. Do you really think that you would find the call to Christ so powerful that you would depart from Allah for him?”

Yes, I would probably be a Muslim. What do geographical probabilities have to do with what the Bible claims? If I was born in the Middle East and was a Muslim does that falsify Christianity? What about all the Christians in the Middle East? Did you know there is a Christian Church in Iraq now? Geographical probabilities will tell you nothing of whether or not a particular religious clam(s) are true.

“It IS a problem and a deficit that Christians don't give thoughtful reasons for their belief. I find they don't WANT to think about it too hard, because it does raise doubts. And often the "proof" they try to bring to the table is faith, not proof.”

You’re assuming, without benefit of argument, that Christianity has nothing going for it. It’s true that many cannot answer objections, I have already stated this. However, you are completely ignoring a vast body of literature defending the Christian faith. There are literally thousands upon thousands of books deflating the common (but many valid and many invalid) objections to Christianity. Just because the clerk at 711 can’t answer someone’s objection; it doesn’t follow that the objection cannot be answered. I would encourage you to delve yourself into the Apologetic litterateur available. I happen to know that most atheists on the blogsphere don’t, because their objections lack the knowledge of their opponents counter argument. Also, it is exemplar in your response to Jim (highly disappointing). I have yet to hear an argument that wasn’t a straw man.

I am skipping the rest of your post and especially the cynicism and mockery in your response Jim because there is nothing qualitatively stated. You obviously have not performed a thorough investigation of Christianity. Your reduction to certain parts of Christianity or the bible as comical or absurd displays your lack of fortitude in understanding the Christian world view. I can easily reduce atheism to comedy and absurdity by creating straw arguments and completely misrepresenting their position(s).

If one begins with the presupposition that any naturalistic account, no matter how bizarre or ad hoc, is more plausible than a miracle or a supernatural explanation, your assertion will follow logically. But I reject that presupposition. This is why people need to lock themselves up for a while and study the positions contrary to their own (to know why they reject certain presuppositions and hold others).

As a Christian, I take seriously a lot of questions that get asked about the truth-claims of Christianity. I take people seriously when they direct my attention to real issues or facts or lines of argument that people curious about the validity of the Christian truth-claims really ask. Please understand that I do not mean that I don't take you seriously. I don't even know you. But I just can't find any reason to have a conversation with someone who has not even performed a thorough investigation of Christianity before making accusations of absurdity and comedy with the complete permeation of cynicism.

5/22/2006 5:48 PM

 
Anonymous karen said...

Evenin' Jim.
Hmmmm is about as much as can be said against the biblical narrative.
To the contrary. MUCH MORE can and has been said. Is it part of God's plan to have not had a single original document survive? Another test of faith? His plan to have the Nicene council take the material and play "throw it against the wall and see what sticks"? Assuming it's not allegory, God provides stone tablets with the 10 C's (where are they, BTW?); why not provide a self-written, honest -to god-(heh) Holy Book?
Anyway, he didn't. And those he left to do the work couldn't get their stories straight.

The qualifiers here were
1) Knew Christ was not the way to eternal life by seeing with their own eyes.
2) Still the apostles gave there lives willingly expecting eternal life.
If ONLY they had seen Koresh for what he was. Your words. Whatever Jesus was, the apostles were eyewitnesses to it. No one gave their life for Koresh after Waco. Did anyone survive?

You guys always have a back door out of every argument, i.e., Hell isn't really fire and brimstone,; it's separation from God. (while some believe fervently it IS fire and brimstone.) Or, the verse wasn't interpreted correctly or was taken out of context.
That applies to what the disciples saw or didn't see. If they saw Christ die, and didn't see him rise, they still believe in eternal life because they didn't expect an individual ascension---they expected that all souls, including Christ would be risen in conjunction with the apocalypse.
Or, they didn't see him risen, but were faced with an empty tomb, so he must have (in their minds) and they concocted stories to fit. Because Christ would be disappointed in them if they misread what was happening. Couldn't take that chance.
In other words, the disciples had to try to cover all the bases, because you just don't know, even after 2000+ years of hindsight, what play the crazy coach is going to call, or what he actually means when he makes the call.

Was Christ still supposed to be mortal after he rose from the dead? How else could Thomas poke his finger in the wounds? Just asking.
Whatever Jesus was, the apostles were eyewitnesses to it. They, and only they, apparently. Where are the accounts from neutral parties? "hey, you remember that guy they crucifed last week? Well I saw him changing water into wine at the market today!"
Why'd they give their lives for it? Because they'd bought into it so deeply, there was no turning back. Doesn't mean it's true.
I don't remember if there were Waco survivors. I'm sure if there were, they received mental health counseling. Deprogramming. It's a lot easier to expose a fraud in a modern society.

Tons of people were crucified

True, but none were God incarnate.

Bingo. Thank you for admitting that.

Ahhhh....I k-n-o-w. You meant none EXCEPT Christ were God incarnate. ;)

If it is true that he is God, every person is impacted by it. So what? let every person take his/her chances if they wish. And again, another case of extreme inefficiency on God's part, to become man in the time and place he did. He's not the brightest crayon in the box. I'm sorry for the smartass remark, but honestly, don't you ever question the glaring mistakes made by the omni-one?

You reveal an underlying intelligence here. We don't know until it happens? How does nature sculpt something? Sounds like "Weekend At Bernie's" to me!
I meant we don't know until a child is actually born, for example, that it will be the complete kit we ordered.
Although science may not be far away from being able to tell all such things while a fetus is developing.
Nature sculpts through evolution. A continuing work in progress.
It's been too long since I saw Bernie's; don't get the joke.

That's why the Love your neighbor principle is so important for the atheist. It's a kind of passive belief for the unbeliever that is less egregious than telling God to get lost. Not sure I get your drift here. The only problem I have with telling god to get lost (though I'd prefer something more crude)is that he isn't real, so there's no point in it.
The love your neighbor principle is not isolated in Christianity. It is a cultural or social construct found elsewhere as well.

Is it really to someone's benefit to say they accept Jesus as Savior yet they hate everybody? I know people like that, and their Jesus is a straw Jesus.
Me too. Guesstimate, 4 out of 5. But hey, grace is grace, and forgiveness is there for the asking, even if you wait till the last possible second after being a miserable SOB all life long.

I think it serves us well to look more deeply at Jesus' call that He is the only way.The only way to something unnecessary and pointless.
Salvation? At the feet of the God of the Bible? Eternity with that? No thanks. Death as- dead in nothingness- sounds great to me in comparison.

I teach 12-15 year olds a weekly bible study. When I was a substitute teacher, that age was what I worked most with. Many people don't like that age group, but I do.
One of my alters is of that age. Maybe that's why I relate to them.

Till the next round.
Cheers.

5/22/2006 6:37 PM

 
Anonymous karen said...

BF
In regards to other religions
Their numbers are smaller in America, but their zeal is just as evangelical—if they had no zeal and didn’t disseminate their message, they would no longer exist as a religion.
we obviously have had totally different experiences as to their zeal being evangelical on a Christian level. If they fail to continue growing, and cease to exist as religions, does that mean that those religions weren't valid? If in turn, Christianity also ceased to exist as a religion, would its deity cease to exist?
---
I'm still researching moral relativism, and so far have not changed my position. But we seem to be at odds about what it actually means, so I don't see anything constructive in trying to sort that out within this discussion.
Moreover, you failed to mention, or give an example of the damage you were talking about. How does it exactly correlate to the message of Christ? Is it the logical or illogical outworking of Christianity? Given your general attitude, I left the details out because I had something deeply personal in mind. I'm sure no matter what I told you, you would find a way to make it an illogical outworking of Christianity. But the logical/illogical outworkings confound me since Christianity is not logical itself.
---
When liberals or secularists impose their views on others, such as attempts to, legalizing drugs, abortion, gay marriage etc, it’s perfectly okay. However, when and individual or group takes the opposing view, suddenly, it is trying to force their view on others or institute “religion”.
I'll leave the liberals out since many of them are also Christians who do not fail to understand the value of separation of church and state. When you try to change laws based on the idea that the Bible looks upon the issue one way or another, you are trying to insinuate a particular religious belief into laws that govern people who are not of that persuasion. When you make laws without a nod to any religion, you are addressing all the people equally. Banning gay marriage, for example is extolled because of Biblical reference, and would explicitly discriminate against a certain group. Allowing gay marriage discriminates against no one, and does not change the status quo for everyone else.
When the Ten Commandments are displayed in courthouses, or other public places, the statement is being made that Christianity is held as preferential. NOT displaying any particular religious relic says that across the board, all are equal.
---
It seems more apparent that your rejection of Christianity is motivated by emotional reasons rather than rational ones
The original rejection, when I was a child was purely emotional. It's true that I still carry a lot of that baggage and am often unsuccessful at reigning in the parts of me who wish to speak to that. I walk a fine line, mentally. My rejection of Christianity as an adult is based on rational thought.
---
I speak out against bashing others, yet you cheer Christian bashing and participate in mockery. It normally is my policy to not bash or otherwise mistreat others. I am guilty of doing just that however, and of hypocrisy at times as this relates to some Christians. It's a character flaw I'm working on and my success has much to do with my mental state. The subject of god itself triggers dissociative states and I'm working to desensitize myself on that.

And while you may speak out against bashing, you are not entirely non-guilty in acting upon it yourself.

I am not asking you to fit “my perception” of anything. For example, what if I took all the cynical, rancid and detestable things atheists have said about Christianity and asserted that this was atheism? Do the acts of certain atheists determine the character of atheism?
As far as I am aware, there is no particular character of atheism. Atheists simply hold no beliefs in any gods. Beyond that, we blend into the scenery. I am continually mistaken for a Christian, even told I act too Christian to be an atheist.
And if atheists weren't oppressed by Christians, perhaps we wouldn't be so inclined to make those cynical, rancid and detestable remarks (which are more than met or preceded by similar remarks from Christians regarding atheists). We've been turning the other cheek for far too long and don't even have a rulebook that tells us to. Assert anything you like as atheism. It will remain simply a lack of god belief.
---
Is it really difficult to absorb that many Christians have good reasons to be Christian? Apparently so. My point was that the multitude accept without ever questioning, or looking outside the box. You chide me for not knowing enough about the faith to have a decent discussion, yet I know more than a great many believers do.
And in answer to the question, yes.
---
Yes, I would probably be a Muslim. What do geographical probabilities have to do with what the Bible claims? It was just an example of believing what you're taught growing up. But it is odd that there sre so few Christians in the area where it all began, now that you mention it.
---
You’re assuming, without benefit of argument, that Christianity has nothing going for it.
No, I do find some things worth salvaging in Christianity. It's just that they are also found in other religions -do unto others, for example- and do not need to be hinged to a deity to be of value.

It’s true that many cannot answer objections, I have already stated this. However, you are completely ignoring a vast body of literature defending the Christian faith. There are literally thousands upon thousands of books deflating the common (but many valid and many invalid) objections to Christianity. Just because the clerk at 711 can’t answer someone’s objection; it doesn’t follow that the objection cannot be answered.
It wasn't the 711, it was the Red Apple. ;)
I would encourage you to delve yourself into the Apologetic litterateur available. I happen to know that most atheists on the blogsphere don’t, because their objections lack the knowledge of their opponents counter argument.
I have delved some already, thank you. Just because I haven't synthesized it to your satisfaction does not mean I have not made the effort.
And your crack about atheists in the blogsphere cuts both ways, Mr. I Don't Bash People.

That'll have to do for now, I hear the baby waking.

I can't wait to hear how disappointing I've been.

karen

5/23/2006 11:51 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Karen,

We obviously have had totally different experiences as to their zeal being evangelical on a Christian level. If they fail to continue growing, and cease to exist as religions, does that mean that those religions weren't valid? If in turn, Christianity also ceased to exist as a religion, would its deity cease to exist?

You would have to look at the truth claims of that religion for one. If Christianity went “extinct”, then it would obviously be false. A deity would only cease to exist if it’s existence was dependent on that religion. Though, I am not really sure where you are leading with that one.

I'm still researching moral relativism, and so far have not changed my position. But we seem to be at odds about what it actually means, so I don't see anything constructive in trying to sort that out within this discussion.

I don’t mean to down play your experience; but moral relativism takes the significance out of it. Does it not?

Given your general attitude, I left the details out because I had something deeply personal in mind. I'm sure no matter what I told you, you would find a way to make it an illogical outworking of Christianity. But the logical/illogical outworkings confound me since Christianity is not logical itself.

I won’t ask you to get personal. It’s just that when I hear someone state that they have had a bad experience with a Christian (most likely, a parent or relative); they attribute the actions of that person to the teachings of Christianity even though they are opposed. The fact that you think there are contradictory claims within Christianity would have no bearing on my point.

I'll leave the liberals out since many of them are also Christians who do not fail to understand the value of separation of church and state. When you try to change laws based on the idea that the Bible looks upon the issue one way or another, you are trying to insinuate a particular religious belief into laws that govern people who are not of that persuasion. When you make laws without a nod to any religion, you are addressing all the people equally.

I am not aware of anyone successfully trying to institute religion in the U.S. government. I support the separation of Church and state. However, there are certain laws that affect us all, whether gay, strait, theist atheist and the American way is to vote your view in to place. Exchanging ideas and debating your view in the public square is a good thing. Someone will always loose. The tide is turning against the Christian views.



Banning gay marriage, for example is extolled because of Biblical reference, and would explicitly discriminate against a certain group. Allowing gay marriage discriminates against no one, and does not change the status quo for everyone else.

This is a huge can of worms. I disagree, but will refer you HERE as to why.

When the Ten Commandments are displayed in courthouses, or other public places, the statement is being made that Christianity is held as preferential. NOT displaying any particular religious relic says that across the board, all are equal.

The display is representative of our moral foundation in the judicial system. If you’re offended—it seems more like hypersensitivity to me. The judicial system; though, is not using the Ten Commandments per se as there criterion for decision making. There may be overlap in their moral principals, but their jurist prudence is not bound to them.

The original rejection, when I was a child was purely emotional. It's true that I still carry a lot of that baggage and am often unsuccessful at reigning in the parts of me who wish to speak to that. I walk a fine line, mentally. My rejection of Christianity as an adult is based on rational thought.

That’s understandable. Form my perspective; I see it as a presupposition motivating your conclusions. You told Jim that you didn’t think it was possible to be open-minded about Christianity. So, it makes it exponentially more difficult to communicate with you. It seems to me, that the underlying emotional factors would have to be dealt with first—rather than the logical discussion.

It normally is my policy to not bash or otherwise mistreat others. I am guilty of doing just that however, and of hypocrisy at times as this relates to some Christians. It's a character flaw I'm working on and my success has much to do with my mental state. The subject of god itself triggers dissociative states and I'm working to desensitize myself on that.

Nobody is perfect. My primary issue is with the fanatical degradation of Christianity and the complete disrespect during dialogue.

And while you may speak out against bashing, you are not entirely non-guilty in acting upon it yourself.

Is anybody? I don’t respond to others with ridicule for shits and giggles. People do this for “fun” now. I can point to many Christian blogs that have little to no cynicism toward atheist or atheism. How many atheist blogs can you point me to that do not utterly bash, degrade, ridicule and mock Christianity?

As far as I am aware, there is no particular character of atheism. Atheists simply hold no beliefs in any gods. Beyond that, we blend into the scenery. I am continually mistaken for a Christian, even told I act too Christian to be an atheist.

It is NOT that case that “atheists simply hold no beliefs in any gods.” Neither does my shoe or a rock hold a belief of any gods. An atheist holds to the belief that the proposition “God[s] exists” to be false. I have never known of any atheist who didn’t reject the proposition.

And if atheists weren't oppressed by Christians, perhaps we wouldn't be so inclined to make those cynical, rancid and detestable remarks (which are more than met or preceded by similar remarks from Christians regarding atheists). We've been turning the other cheek for far too long and don't even have a rulebook that tells us to. Assert anything you like as atheism. It will remain simply a lack of god belief.

Is that just creating a vicious circle? There the “lack of god belief again’. If that’s all atheism is then there is no significant distinction between atheists and rocks.

My point was that the multitude accept without ever questioning, or looking outside the box. You chide me for not knowing enough about the faith to have a decent discussion, yet I know more than a great many believers do.
And in answer to the question, yes.


The fact that many people accept Christianity without questioning its viability, does not mean Christianity is not viable. I think everyone should get to know why they believe. However, if your taking the position that Christianity is absurd and comical you ought to have done your homework to justify your conclusions. I have yet to see any demonstration of a sufficient understanding that would qualify you to make such mockery conclusions. However, you are free to state what ever you like; it’s a freedom of speech that I support, but do have a little respect for me and other guests in my own backyard please.

It was just an example of believing what you're taught growing up. But it is odd that there sre so few Christians in the area where it all began, now that you mention it.

Regardless, the conclusion does not logically follow. It’s a non sequitur and an argument by innuendo i.e. “now that you mention it”

No, I do find some things worth salvaging in Christianity. It's just that they are also found in other religions -do unto others, for example- and do not need to be hinged to a deity to be of value.

Yes, who would want anyone to pay for their sins for them and free eternal life? What is at stake here?

I have delved some already, thank you. Just because I haven't synthesized it to your satisfaction does not mean I have not made the effort.

I am glad you have explored the area, but I am suspect if you have really given the subject it’s fair shake.

And your crack about atheists in the blogsphere cuts both ways,

Yes, there are some Christian blogs that aren’t afraid to toss a little mud themselves. Like I said before, I can still point to many Christian blogs that do not degrade and mock, how many atheist blogs can you direct me to that do not mock and belittle egregiously?

Mr. I Don't Bash People.

Wasn’t it you who said:
”It normally is my policy to not bash or otherwise mistreat others. I am guilty of doing just that however, and of hypocrisy at times as this relates to some Christians. It's a character flaw I'm working on and my success has much to do with my mental state. The subject of god itself triggers dissociative states and I'm working to desensitize myself on that.”

Is Jesus not a person? Did I state that “Karen Bashes People”? No, I have stated your condescending attitude in generalities. I don’t doubt that you’re a good person. I only ask a little respect.

I can't wait to hear how disappointing I've been.

Here is my problem Karen. I seems like some atheists do the poopo bag trick. You know, when you put the crap in the bag light it on fire, set it on the porch and ring the door bell. All the while there just laughing behind the bushes. While it was relatively easy to stomp out the fire, there is crap all over my shoe and the atheist is laughing. The objection was never put there for an honest answer, rather, just to make a humorous observation.

I have stomped out hundreds of fires just to find that there is crap all over my shoe. Putting out the fire is not the challenge; getting a bag without the crap is.

I am not particularly referring to you; just the essence of my original post. The only thing I want is good honest conversation on both sided whether theist, or atheist (without spitting in each others faces).I always enjoy your point of view and you are always welcome to post here. I only ask that you assertions accompany valid premises and to leave your condescension at the atheist blogs when you come here.

Shalom

5/23/2006 2:59 PM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hi Karen,
I've actually failed to avoid working for a few days. I'll try to respond succintly to our last exchange.
Regarding "not a single original document", unfortunately the April 7th , 33 AD edition of the Jerusalem Times is out of print :). In lieu of perfect originals there is a system of fact-checking that historians use. No one has ever found data contradicting Jesus' death and resurrection. It's never 100% but it is an obstacle to anyone who wants to disprove Christ.

"Weekend At Bernie's" was the movie that the host of a weekend party died but three goofy friends keep him well-dressed and make him life-like so that others at the party believe he is still alive. The problem with creation by accident is that it assumes something dead can come to life. Thus the "Weekend At Bernie's" analogy, except in this case the dead guy is Darwin.

As far as your doubting of God's timing in the Christ story, I suggest you investigate it more deeply. That goes for all your dismissive refutations. They just aren't thought out.

My point about babies is that they aren't what we ordered. They just happen, whether we are aware of it or not. Likewise, God gives us what we need, not what we want. We could "order" a pizza from God but he might send us sushi because he knows another slice of pizza may give us a heart attack.

If you doubt that God gives us what we need, then ask yourself, "why do I NEED to be here at all?"
Re: the Love your neighbor principle. Yes, it isn't isolated to Christianity. Should God be isolated to Christianity? If he did create everything, he would definitely influence Hindus in India, Buddhists, and Muslims, et al. The alternative would be like believing that pigmies in Botswana had never heard about air.

Again, dissing the God of the Bible for what? Take a closer look. I could say that all atheists are miserable, but I would be mistaken. Could you have given God of the Bible an all-too-brief deliberation?

I see you have a baby. What a great blessing! My daughter is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Prior to her I called children "poverty packages". Only God knew that she was exactly what I needed.

I enjoy reading your writing. Do you have your own blog?

Let me know. Take care,
Jim

5/25/2006 8:26 PM

 
Anonymous karen said...

BF

You would have to look at the truth claims of that religion for one. If Christianity went “extinct”, then it would obviously be false. A deity would only cease to exist if it’s existence was dependent on that religion. Though, I am not really sure where you are leading with that one.

I wasn't leading anywhere-at least not yet. The questions simply occurred to me and I was interested in your take on it. Thanks.

I don’t mean to down play your experience; but moral relativism takes the significance out of it. Does it not? By my view of moral relativism, no, it doesn't take the significance out of it. The details of the experience were considered to be morally wrong by the society in which I was living and at the time they happened. Still are, as a matter of fact.

I won’t ask you to get personal. It’s just that when I hear someone state that they have had a bad experience with a Christian (most likely, a parent or relative); they attribute the actions of that person to the teachings of Christianity even though they are opposed. The fact that you think there are contradictory claims within Christianity would have no bearing on my point.
Bad experience with a Christian is a factor, but the relevant bad experience was with god/or christ himself. Or rather the non-experience, since he was and remained absent.
This, I suppose you will say was a failure on my part to recognize his presence in whatever form it may have taken.

That’s understandable. Form my perspective; I see it as a presupposition motivating your conclusions. You told Jim that you didn’t think it was possible to be open-minded about Christianity. So, it makes it exponentially more difficult to communicate with you. It seems to me, that the underlying emotional factors would have to be dealt with first—rather than the logical discussion.
I will have the underlying emotional factors for as long as I live. All I can do is try to lessen the effect they have on my everyday life. I can see how it makes it difficult to communicate with me when I'm not looking to be any more open-minded about Christianity. But I have all these questions about it concerning things that make no sense to me and I haven't found answers by reading books. And "real" people get too squirmy talking about it, so I've been asking "virtual" people. Many of the questions come from my alters who are very young and not atheists. It gets very, very complicated.

Nobody is perfect. My primary issue is with the fanatical degradation of Christianity and the complete disrespect during dialogue. Point taken. I will try to tone it down. Again, it is sometimes others speaking. And while I am responsible for all of them, as they are within me, if I censor everything, I lose track of who may be talking. On the other hand, it might be just as well if I quit trying here, because I can't translate much of what you say to the little ones anyway. Again, it's complicated.

I can point to many Christian blogs that have little to no cynicism toward atheist or atheism. How many atheist blogs can you point me to that do not utterly bash, degrade, ridicule and mock Christianity?
Please do on the first part, as the ones I've checked out or heard about haven't been like that. And no, I can't name them, cos I didn't bookmark any. As to the second part, I really don't visit many atheist blogs, but the few I frequent do match yur description. But they're pretty much equal opportunity religion bashers, not just of Christianity. And I must say, with very few exceptions, the christians who comment there are every bit as vitriolic.

It is NOT that case that “atheists simply hold no beliefs in any gods.” Neither does my shoe or a rock hold a belief of any gods. An atheist holds to the belief that the proposition “God[s] exists” to be false. I have never known of any atheist who didn’t reject the proposition.
I don't know where you get your information, but not holding any beliefs in god(s) is what an atheist does. There is no other criteria. There is strong and weak atheism, and agnosticism, but lack of belief is the common thread.
Neither a rock nor your shoe has the ability to reason about whether there is evidence for a god's existence. Would that be a red herring or a straw man?

However, if your taking the position that Christianity is absurd and comical you ought to have done your homework to justify your conclusions. You're right. I was being lazy. Do you really need me to cite medical references that bodies can't be revived after being dead for 3 days?
What else I find comical or absurd depends on what of the Bible you take literally.


Yes, who would want anyone to pay for their sins for them and free eternal life? What is at stake here?

You are comfortable with someone else paying for your sins? Really? Isn't that not taking personal responsibility?

Is Jesus not a person? Did I state that “Karen Bashes People”? No, I have stated your condescending attitude in generalities. I don’t doubt that you’re a good person. I only ask a little respect.
No, Jesus is not a person. He may have been, but is no longer. My mother is not a person. She has been dead for 6 years. Mom is a memory. Jesus is a memory, an idea.
Just because you generalize, or couch your insults in long sentences with polysyllabic words does not mean that you are not being insulting, or, at times, condescending.

As to poopoo bags:
If I have left any bags of poo at your doorstep, it was because I thought they belonged to you and I was bringing them, curious as to why you would collect such things.
I have asked because I want answers, not merely for a laugh or to ridicule.
I have not gone back to review everything I have said to you here, but I have tried to be more respectful here. I do recall being rather snotty to you on Ra's blog.
I have never run away or hidden in anonymity.

You have pointed out that my style of questioning is/can be crass and insulting. I apologize and will try to improve. It's a little like having Tourette's Syndrome, in a way.
Any straw men are unintentinal and only examples of my poor debating skills.

No offence intended.

karen

5/26/2006 9:03 PM

 
Anonymous karen said...

Hi Jim
That problem with work-or life-getting in the way of blogging...there's a lot of that going around. Have succumbed to it myself.
unfortunately the April 7th , 33 AD edition of the Jerusalem Times is out of print :).
Too bad scrap-booking wasn't in vogue back then. :)
No one has ever found data contradicting Jesus' death and resurrection. It's never 100% but it is an obstacle to anyone who wants to disprove Christ.
Admittedly, it's very difficult to find proof of anything that did not occur. Proving a negative, and all.
What is offered as proof for the positive is not convincing. Ask yourself if you would believe it if it applied to an entity other than Christ.

The problem with creation by accident is that it assumes something dead can come to life. Thus the "Weekend At Bernie's" analogy, except in this case the dead guy is Darwin.
The title "Origins of Life" notwithstanding,Darwin was positing a theory of how life evolved from other life. He was not proposing a theory for abiogenesis.
For creation to occur, whether by accident or otherwise, matter has to be there. How it got there? We don't know-yet-and maybe never will. Creationists complicate the issue by adding an extraneous puzzle piece, one that itself defies explanation.

As far as your doubting of God's timing in the Christ story, I suggest you investigate it more deeply. That goes for all your dismissive refutations. They just aren't thought out.Yes they are thought out. Perhaps you don't appreciate my delivery of them. This sounds similar to "Don't question God or his ways."- an equally dismissive statement.

My point about babies is that they aren't what we ordered. They just happen, whether we are aware of it or not. Likewise, God gives us what we need, not what we want. We could "order" a pizza from God but he might send us sushi because he knows another slice of pizza may give us a heart attack.
Babies just happen? You didn't have any involvement in your child's conception? You didn't have certain expectations -or hopes-that the baby would be a certain way- but couldn't know if all was well until she was actually born? Did you count her fingers and toes?
If we order pizza and God gives us sushi, where did free will go?

If you doubt that God gives us what we need, then ask yourself, "why do I NEED to be here at all?"
That's just it. I don't NEED to be here. I just am. I'm a thinking mammal born into a finite life. It's both quite special and nothing special at all, simultaneously.

Should God be isolated to Christianity? If he did create everything, he would definitely influence Hindus in India, Buddhists, and Muslims, et al. The alternative would be like believing that pigmies in Botswana had never heard about air.
If he created everything, why create conflicting beliefs about himself? Why would he acknowledge "other gods" that are not to be held before him?
The pygmies don't have to hear about air. It is present for them to breathe, and to study if they are so inclined. Coincidently, it is the same air that you and I breathe. It doesn't appear to be red oxygen in Botswana and green oxygen in the US.

Again, dissing the God of the Bible for what? Take a closer look. I could say that all atheists are miserable, but I would be mistaken. Could you have given God of the Bible an all-too-brief deliberation?
I diss the God of the Bible because it is endlessly touted as the one and only way to believe and it is pushed at me on a daily basis. It is not perfect or loving, but full of contradiction and spite. It does not live up to its promises and claims, and its followers can't agree on much of anything. I diss it because there are people who want to make it the official deity of this country, where there is not supposed to be establishment of one religion over another.
I diss it, because as an atheist, I am expected to keep a quiet voice, while Christians have the loudest voices of all. And they use their voices to elevate what I see as a myth to disproportionate importance.
I have been deliberating on it for about 50 years now, so no, I don't think that's too brief.


The baby I referred to is my friend's son, whom I watch while she works. Happily, the youngest of my own babies is 18 and off to college in August. I also have an almost 2 yr. old granddaughter and a 3 yr old grandson.

No, no blog of my own. No time or discipline for such. How about you?
I also enjoy our discussions, and as I mentioned before, you may email me if you want to talk outside of BF's place here.

Enjoy your daughter. I suggest keeping a journal about her. You think you'll remember things, but you don't. And it would make a great graduation, birthday or wedding gift someday.
I kept a daily diary of the first 9 months I watched my friend's son, because his dad was stationed in Iraq.
When the boy is 30 he can still look at it, and see when he first turned over, but also that he touched a picture of daddy everyday; even what his nap schedule and daily menu were. You put some of that stuff in baby books, but a daily journal adds detail that will surprise you when you go back and look at it years later.

Cheers.
karen

5/27/2006 10:10 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Karen, by way of reply,

“By my view of moral relativism, no, it doesn't take the significance out of it. The details of the experience were considered to be morally wrong by the society in which I was living and at the time they happened. Still are, as a matter of fact.”

So you think your experience is wrong because everyone else does. The significance is removed because it is logically possible for your certain experience to which I suspect is absolutely wrong, to be morally acceptable. However, we have been through this before.

“Bad experience with a Christian is a factor, but the relevant bad experience was with god/or christ himself. Or rather the non-experience, since he was and remained absent. This, I suppose you will say was a failure on my part to recognize his presence in whatever form it may have taken.”

I wouldn’t demean you or your experience and state that your disrepute toward God’s absence in the time of your need is your fault per se. Though I would state there is a certain factor of our own presuppositions and nature that are part of this affect. Certainly; this is something all Christians struggle with as well. It’s a difficult and complex subject. If you would read the Psalms you could see that many of God’s people have made the same observation (Ps 22:1-2,) (Ps 88:13-14). Psalm 10 says “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”. There are many more Psalms regarding this also. I too, have struggled with this issue. I see things in the world that are so evil, that my mind wants to raise a fist toward God and scream “where are you?” But I don’t. I want you to now that this is a BIG issue. And nobody should take it lightly.

This is not a problem that can be solved with a few slogans. I wish I had a silver bullet for this concern. I don’t; and I won’t pretend to. Though I think there are reasons why God is hidden. Let me provide you with some links that I have read before. I don’t expect you to recant your negative emotions, but there are individuals who have dealt with the issue (from several different angles) far greater than I could do:

Does Divine Hiddenness Justify Atheism?

Why Isn't the Evidence Clearer?

Coercion and the Hiddenness of God

On the Hiddenness of God

Your anguish in this situation does allude to the problem of evil: How can a “good” all powerful, omnipresent, omnipotent God allow X. I would note, for the presuppositions to extent value, that the person who struggles with such issues, has a Moral Dilemma as I have noted before.

“Point taken. I will try to tone it down. Again, it is sometimes others speaking. And while I am responsible for all of them, as they are within me, if I censor everything, I lose track of who may be talking. On the other hand, it might be just as well if I quit trying here, because I can't translate much of what you say to the little ones anyway. Again, it's complicated.”

My apologies. I understand that you’re in unique situation and I definitely will take that into consideration. If you don’t mind, I will pray for you regarding your situation. Even from your own perspective, you haven’t anything to lose if I do.

“I don't know where you get your information, but not holding any beliefs in god(s) is what an atheist does. There is no other criteria. There is strong and weak atheism, and agnosticism, but lack of belief is the common thread. Neither a rock nor your shoe has the ability to reason about whether there is evidence for a god's existence. Would that be a red herring or a straw man?”

It wouldn’t be a red herring or a straw man—it is called reductio ad absurdum. Which is taking the premises offered to absurdity (which would logically follow). That’s why saying an atheist is ONLY composed of “not holding any beliefs in god(s)” can be applicable to my shoe. To answer where I get my information from, you can find my definition of atheism in Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology and the Etymological Dictionary of English Language. Some encyclopedic and mainstream philosophical sources that broach the subject with this understanding include the Academic American EncyclopediaRandom House Encyclopedia, Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Oxford Companion to Philosophy, The World Book Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Americana, The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Encyclopedia of Religion, , and Funk and Wagnall's New Encyclopedia. To illustrate just one such example, the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy defines atheism as the "belief that there is no God."

But, here is a source I utterly cannot stand (from the camp of “I hate Christianity”) that explains the problems of your definition of atheism. http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_1.htm

"Do you really need me to cite medical references that bodies can't be revived after being dead for 3 days?"

No, we know perfectly well that that does not happen. If it did, the resurrection would not be a miraculous event and would lose all significant. Of course, this leads to the montra of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” However, what evidence do you need to show that someone is dead? Extraordinary evidence? Or ordinary evidence?

What evidence do you need to show that someone is alive? Extraordinary evidence? Or ordinary evidence? In a naturalistic world view as you have yourself; the operating assumption is that nothing supernatural can happen because God does not exist. That’s called begging the question.

“You are comfortable with someone else paying for your sins? Really? Isn't that not taking personal responsibility?”

It’s not a matter of not taking personal responsibility; it’s a matter of recognizing that there is nothing I can do to restore righteousness to myself. The offer was presented and given to me; I did not seek it. You certainly have the right to pay for your own sins. But if the person who you have sinned against (i.e. God), offers you mercy, why would you not take it? It’s like arguing for a police officer to give you a ticket when you’re pulled over. The consequences of the decision to accept grace, or reject grace are grave, for the debt is eternal.

“No, Jesus is not a person. He may have been, but is no longer. My mother is not a person. She has been dead for 6 years. Mom is a memory. Jesus is a memory, an idea.
Just because you generalize, or couch your insults in long sentences with polysyllabic words does not mean that you are not being insulting, or, at times, condescending.”


Your response begs the question. If you are just a material being, then your response is correct. I addressed this issue in my post call, Am I Just a Material Being?. I don’t know where I have been condescending. Perhaps there is arrogance in pointing out condescension. If you’ll note, my general apprehensions are concentrated on the fixation of obsessive ridicule.

“As to poopoo bags: If I have left any bags of poo at your doorstep, it was because I thought they belonged to you and I was bringing them, curious as to why you would collect such things. I have asked because I want answers, not merely for a laugh or to ridicule. I have not gone back to review everything I have said to you here, but I have tried to be more respectful here. I do recall being rather snotty to you on Ra's blog.
I have never run away or hidden in anonymity. “


I did state that was not speaking directly to you, but the general nature of the original post. The analogy came to mind and I though it to be perfect to express my aggravation. I was not an all developing encompassing categorization of any objection or inquiry to Christianity.

“You have pointed out that my style of questioning is/can be crass and insulting. I apologize and will try to improve. It's a little like having Tourette's Syndrome, in a way.
Any straw men are unintentinal and only examples of my poor debating skills

No offence intended. .”


No offence taken. I realize that it is not your intent and you are not being egregiously disrespectful. I don’t want to deter you or anyone else of “spirited” debate. Some issues are just impossible not to get fired up about.

I have been contemplating and thinking that blogging is something of a contact sport. By way of defense, if someone is going to mount a very public, bareknuckle attack on the faith, then I'll join in the rough-and-tumble. Nevertheless, we must keep our minds intact.

5/27/2006 11:30 AM

 
Anonymous karen said...

BF
I have read your post and all the very interesting links you provided.
Where to start?

So you think your experience is wrong because everyone else does. The significance is removed because it is logically possible for your certain experience to which I suspect is absolutely wrong, to be morally acceptable. However, we have been through this before.

The certain experience was the sexual molestation and rape of a child, which I suspect you find absolutely wrong, but which was, at one time found to be morally acceptable by Talmudic and Christian law.
“The sexual use of girls under the age of three was not regulated legally, as these children were considered too young to be legal virgins, and therefore without monetary value. Sex with girls under the age of three was not subject to any restrictions. As in hunting, it was open season. Boys under the age of nie were also fair game. Though sex between adult men was severely punished, men could-and did-use young boys at will.”
“…sexual use of girls over the age of three was permissible, provided the girl’s father consented and appropriate moneys were transferred.”
--I Never Told Anyone, by Ellen Bass and Louise Thornton., quoting Florence Rush’s The Best Kept Secret , also citing 10 historical and other sources including The Babylonian Talmud, Sex Laws and Customs in Judaism, History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church, and more.

This, to me supports the moral relevancy of the acts in question. It seems that
child rape is not to be taken as objectively evil, but subjective to the society at hand.

At the time, I was too young to be concerned with the morality issue.*
I only knew that I was suffering excruciating pain, for reasons that were beyond my understanding. I made a heartfelt and totally sincere appeal to Jesus for help. I had been taught that Jesus would leave his flock to find the one lost lamb; taught “Ask and you shall receive”; taught that "God’s eye is on the sparrow”. I believed as only an innocent child can believe. One of your links quotes Pascal:It was not, then, right that He should appear in a manner manifestly divine, and completely capable of convincing all men; but it was also not right that He should come in so hidden a manner that He could not be known by those who should sincerely seek Him. He has willed to make himself quite recognizable by those; and thus, willing to appear openly to those who seek Him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from Him with all their heart, He so regulates the knowledge of Himself that He has given signs of Himself, visible to those who seek Him, and not to those who seek Him not. There is enough light for those who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition. (Pensees 430).
I think I met the conditions Pascal outlines for receiving manifestation.
Yet when I prayed for help, for it to stop, what happened was that it only got worse.
*And this is where my perception of any morality came in at the time. My 3-4 year old mind reasoned that God wanted this to happen to me; I was being punished because I was bad. I had no one to turn to who could tell me this wasn’t so, and God didn’t see fit to comfort me in that way either.
You have children. Without outside help or information, what other conclusion do you think a child that age would arrive at? My other options were that he didn’t hear me, but that was impossible, because he heard, saw, knew everything. Or I didn’t ask right, or asked for the wrong thing. But how is such a young child supposed to understand the intricacies of praying correctly, or to appreciate eventual salvation as helpful in a time of crisis?

Of course, I am no longer that age (while I am not in a dissociative state), but I still can not see where I missed any signs of God’s presence. I was fully aware of everything happening until I passed out from choking on semen and my own vomit. I repressed it afterward, but that is a function of the brain, not of God, and provided no relief during the deed itself, but merely allowed me, and actually sentenced me, to continue to live to endure it another day. And yes, the actions eventually stopped, when my rapist died of natural causes at a normal age for life expectancy at the time. Some would have me believe that that was God’s way of stopping it.

But subjectively speaking, I think what happened to me was wrong. Relatively, society at the time would have frowned upon it, though compared with today’s society, would have handled it much differently if they had known about it. And in Biblical times, it would not have been perceived as wrong.


Your link to atheist definitions was enlightening and caused me to laugh at myself. I cannot speak for other atheists, but I do not believe in any god(s).
I cannot prove that any particular god does not exist, nor have I met any proof that any do exist. The burden of proof lies with those who claim existence.

what evidence do you need to show that someone is dead? Extraordinary evidence? Or ordinary evidence?

What evidence do you need to show that someone is alive? Extraordinary evidence? Or ordinary evidence? In a naturalistic world view as you have yourself; the operating assumption is that nothing supernatural can happen because God does not exist.


I’m not sure what you mean by ordinary vs extraordinary evidence of life and death. Heartbeat, breath and cognitive brain function would be ordinary evidence to me.
And I would say nothing supernatural can happen because the supernatural does not exist. God is only part of what would be considered supernatural.

But if the person who you have sinned against (i.e. God), offers you mercy, why would you not take it? It’s like arguing for a police officer to give you a ticket when you’re pulled over. The consequences of the decision to accept grace, or reject grace are grave, for the debt is eternal.

It would be dumb to argue with the police officer to give me a ticket when he pulled me over, especially if I wasn’t doing anything wrong and he wanted to ticket me for something someone related to me, many generations back, had done.
Why should I need mercy just for having been born? This is one of the strangest curses of your God, that he would hold children responsible for the crimes of their parents.

If you are just a material being, then your response is correct. I addressed this issue in my post call, Am I Just a Material Being?
I do consider myself just a material being, although I found your post and subsequent links quite interesting, as I have had many Out of Body Experiences.
I intend to review it and think on it some more.

Re: bags of poop. I did state that was not speaking directly to you, but the general nature of the original post.
I understood you didn’t mean me specifically. Was just trying to explain my thought process behind what may have been perceived by you to be poop presents from me, if any. Should have said so.

I apologize for the length of the response and for getting so personal with it. I couldn’t figure a way around it and still express what I wanted.


If you don’t mind, I will pray for you regarding your situation. Even from your own perspective, you haven’t anything to lose if I do.
Knock yourself out. Your time is yours to spend as you wish. I do appreciate you thinking of me.

karen

5/29/2006 2:23 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Karen, good to hear from you:

“The certain experience was the sexual molestation and rape of a child, which I suspect you find absolutely wrong, but which was, at one time found to be morally acceptable by Talmudic and Christian law.”

1) It is true that I find the rape of children *absolutely* wrong. However, my point was according to *your* view, it is logically possible for it to be moral.

2) I wouldn’t conflate Talmudic law with Christian law. As there is nothing explicit in the latter as is there is in the former.

3) Raping children completely contradicts the teachings of Christ and should not be smuggled onto the teachings of Christianity by the actions of some mentally ill persons. And I do mean that someone has t be seriously ill to commit such an act.

“This, to me supports the moral relevancy of the acts in question. It seems that
child rape is not to be taken as objectively evil, but subjective to the society at hand.”


I can see how people get confused with this issue. However, morality doesn’t change; beliefs about morality do and vary across culture. I doubt the children being raped thought it was morally permissible to be raped—whether they could articulate it or not; their moral intuitions would indicate something was wrong. You express that intuition in your next comment.

“At the time, I was too young to be concerned with the morality issue.*”

You may have been to your to recognize r articulate *a moral issue* however, it is clear that you though your experience to be *wrong* or else you would have not called for help.

“I only knew that I was suffering excruciating pain, for reasons that were beyond my understanding. I made a heartfelt and totally sincere appeal to Jesus for help. I had been taught that Jesus would leave his flock to find the one lost lamb; taught “Ask and you shall receive”; taught that "God’s eye is on the sparrow”. I believed as only an innocent child can believe.”

I can’t give you an answer as to why you went though your tremendous ordeal of suffering. Nor can I answer why God allowed such things to happen. However, I do know that God can restore and heal you. It sounds like many of the things you learned as a child are the common slogans Christians like to repeat. Yet there is so much more to them. You can bank on the fact that if the Christian God exists he is Just and He can restore your days; and if you submit yourself to Him you will be fully satisfied with His justice when you reach His presence. I know this is unfathomable right now as you read this, but I truly think it so. If you find this humorous or absurd, at least when your done laughing, if at all possible, consider what I am saying.

“I think I met the conditions Pascal outlines for receiving manifestation.”

I can’t speak to that. Though Pascal was describing a doctrinal matter of a persons willingness and open-mindedness to the knowledge of God, rather that an actual manifestation of God’s presence before a person.

“You have children. Without outside help or information, what other conclusion do you think a child that age would arrive at? My other options were that he didn’t hear me, but that was impossible, because he heard, saw, knew everything. Or I didn’t ask right, or asked for the wrong thing. But how is such a young child supposed to understand the intricacies of praying correctly, or to appreciate eventual salvation as helpful in a time of crisis?”

I wouldn’t challenge the state of your thoughts during that time. I am sure other children would feel the same way. But again, I can’t give you an answer to a question that ONLY God can answer. I can only offer Gods promise of restoration. To be honest, you will probably never know why this happened during your life, but belief in Jesus can offer hope. What hope does atheism offer you? Atheism makes your experience meaningless and ultimate justice not even eons away. I in no way desire to down play your experience, but from a naturalistic perspective, this would only be a material being taking advantage of another material being. The construct of moral feelings and desires is only a side affect of chemical reactions causing stimuli in the brain—nothing more and nothing less. Somehow, I think you know this cannot be the case; there is more to us than overgrown bacteria through time. What significance can bacteria hurting other bacteria have? If atheism is true—there really is no significance.

“But subjectively speaking, I think what happened to me was wrong. Relatively, society at the time would have frowned upon it, though compared with today’s society, would have handled it much differently if they had known about it. And in Biblical times, it would not have been perceived as wrong.”

Objectively speaking what happened to you is wrong—not subjectively. Most likely, even the person doing those horrible things to you knew it was wrong. Anybody who would think otherwise would be considered a psychopath and locked up—not because they had different cultural, sociological and different genetic attributes, but because there crazy.

Child rape has always been morally wrong. The fact that there were some sick people who didn’t prohibit adult/child sex in their laws several thousand years ago in the so-called “biblical times” doesn’t mean that this action is sanction by Jesus Christ.

Your link to atheist definitions was enlightening and caused me to laugh at myself. I cannot speak for other atheists, but I do not believe in any god(s). I cannot prove that any particular god does not exist, nor have I met any proof that any do exist. The burden of proof lies with those who claim existence.”

The burden of proof, when it comes to the existence of God, does not rest solely on the believer (though there is a stronger weight). There is a moral responsibility for “non-belief.” If you get time, I would highly recommend you listen to this talk by Dallas Willard (it’s excellent and you would appreciate it):

http://www.veritas.org/mediafiles/VTS-Willard-1995-Indiana-VF1SMP09.mp3

“I’m not sure what you mean by ordinary vs extraordinary evidence of life and death. Heartbeat, breath and cognitive brain function would be ordinary evidence to me.
And I would say nothing supernatural can happen because the supernatural does not exist. God is only part of what would be considered supernatural.”


I only brought up the ordinary/extraordinary evidence because I get atheists (not yourself yet) telling me I need to present extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims (since we were discussing the supernatural). My only point was that there is no such restraint upon providing extraordinary evidences; for standard evidence can substantiate extraordinary claims. I only brought it up because the though came to mind when I typing.

“It would be dumb to argue with the police officer to give me a ticket when he pulled me over, especially if I wasn’t doing anything wrong and he wanted to ticket me for something someone related to me, many generations back, had done.
Why should I need mercy just for having been born? This is one of the strangest curses of your God, that he would hold children responsible for the crimes of their parents.”


God did not impute sin on us; we can discuss original sin, but unless you have never sinned since you were born, what is your excuse now? Why don’t you accept the free Grace offered and then we can work on the issue of original sin?

“I do consider myself just a material being, although I found your post and subsequent links quite interesting, as I have had many Out of Body Experiences.
I intend to review it and think on it some more.”


This is an issue worth contemplating as a strictly material body would not comport with out f body experiences.

“I apologize for the length of the response and for getting so personal with it. I couldn’t figure a way around it and still express what I wanted.”

No apology necessary, we are both adults and I appreciate your honesty and reflection. I only hope that you know I am serious when I say God can restore you; I believe it with all my heart, soul, and mind.

Peace

5/29/2006 9:18 PM

 
Anonymous karen said...

BF
I need to skip part of your comment for now as I am not at home where my reference material is, and I also need more time to reflect on some of it.
I can’t give you an answer as to why you went though your tremendous ordeal of suffering.
I can. You said as much yourself. My rapist was seriously and dangerously mentally ill. I was available and easy prey. It's that simple.
It sounds like many of the things you learned as a child are the common slogans Christians like to repeat. Yet there is so much more to them
This is part of my problem with teaching religion to children. They are not capable of understanding the nuances. In light of the disparity of thought on what is right, many, if not most adults aren't capable either.
If I had been armed with something rational, as we do with children today, I may- emphasize may- have been able to speak out and help stop the abuse on my own. It's impossible to know at this point, but it would have been better than to have just the supernatural to rely upon. And if God can't or won't give simple solace to children in need, what is the point of teaching the child about that god so young. There is no practical purpose to it, other than indoctrination.
You can bank on the fact that if the Christian God exists he is Just and He can restore your days; and if you submit yourself to Him you will be fully satisfied with His justice when you reach His presence.
First of all-"IF".
Next, how is this so, when the rapist could also submit himself to God, ask for forgiveness, and receive salvation, the same as his victim?
And, I am not interested in having my days restored. They are gone; the damage is done. What was taken cannot be replaced. All I can do is make the best of the time I have left.

If you find this humorous or absurd, at least when your done laughing, if at all possible, consider what I am saying.
I am not laughing. And I don't find it absurd, per se. I simply see no need for a deity that kicks in only after I'm dead, since I believe that when I am dead, that's the end, period. This filial relationship that one of your links talked about your god wanting seems to be a one-way deal until death. People-children- who aren't nurtured early in life turn out to be people who cannot relate to others or to love itself. Yet your god expects love and compliance from the get-go, with no participation on his part.
"IF" he exists, but, he doesn't.
Though Pascal was describing a doctrinal matter of a persons willingness and open-mindedness to the knowledge of God, rather that an actual manifestation of God’s presence before a person.

That's not how I would interpret this:

"... but it was also not right that He should come in so hidden a manner that He could not be known by those who should sincerely seek Him. He has willed to make himself quite recognizable by those; and thus, willing to appear openly to those who seek Him with all their heart,"

But I have been wrong before.

To be honest, you will probably never know why this happened during your life, but belief in Jesus can offer hope. What hope does atheism offer you? Atheism makes your experience meaningless and ultimate justice not even eons away. I in no way desire to down play your experience, but from a naturalistic perspective, this would only be a material being taking advantage of another material being. The construct of moral feelings and desires is only a side affect of chemical reactions causing stimuli in the brain—nothing more and nothing less. Somehow, I think you know this cannot be the case; there is more to us than overgrown bacteria through time. What significance can bacteria hurting other bacteria have? If atheism is true—there really is no significance.
Above I answered why this happened. It just did. My tough luck--there will be no justice for it. I survived it, though I have often wished I hadn't. More importantly, I broke the chain of abuse. Perhaps THAT is the ultimate justice. But to try to assign meaning to it is futile. It had/has no meaning, no redeeming value. Acts of violence in nature. That I can understand; that makes sense. It is in trying to reconcile it with a loving, caring, father-god that turns me inside-out.
In a way, it is true about morals and desires being side effects of stimuli in the brain. I do not think morals are transcendent of man. They come from us, from experience gained and from comparative knowledge. Not innate, but decided upon, originally at some point, and changed over time and circumstance. There is no reason why atheism would preclude an ability to see that it is not beneficial to inflict unwarranted pain. We have brains to reason that there are other ways, aside from our more primitive animal instincts, to achieve goals.
As for hope in Jesus, for what?
Even if I believed God would punish this man, that does not bring back what he took from me, nor would it heal the scars. Eternal life? Not interested.
Salvation? I cannot "sin" against that which does not exist. I cannot be saved by that which is not real.
Atheism is freedom. Freedom can be a very hard road. But it is a road I can feel beneath my feet when I walk it. I trust it, because it forces me to look at what is, not at what might be. It tells me, "You are on your own, with help only from your earthmates; deal with it." That is honest.

My only point was that there is no such restraint upon providing extraordinary evidences; for standard evidence can substantiate extraordinary claims.
For instance?
God did not impute sin on us; we can discuss original sin, but unless you have never sinned since you were born, what is your excuse now? Why don’t you accept the free Grace offered and then we can work on the issue of original sin?
We shall need to discuss original sin sometime, or I will have to do some research at least. I seem to recall the church doing some end-around to take care of babies who died before they were baptized, or somesuch.
Any sins I have committed since birth have been atoned for, and/or forgiven (or not) by the folks against whom I committed them. As I said, I cannot sin against a higher power that does not exist.
I do not need grace for that which I did not do.
If you counter with the "better to be safe than sorry" bit, I have to say that then I would have to hedge all bets, and give allegiance to any and all gods. That in itself would knock me off your God's list.


This is an issue worth contemplating as a strictly material body would not comport with out f body experiences.

I still see it as strictly material. It's just a function of the brain we don't understand yet. And it's hard to study. As your link said, induced OBE's or NDE's
differ from naturally caused ones, and it's awfully difficult to catch a natural one, I imagine. However it happens, it would not occur without the body, specifically the brain, present.
A natural phenomenon, just out of reach at present.

I only hope that you know I am serious when I say God can restore you; I believe it with all my heart, soul, and mind.
I know that you are totally serious. I am totally serious in my disbelief, which is not at all limited to the emotional effect of my childhood. Indeed, I had suppressed that deeply by the time I began to question religion and God.
I appreciate the discussion.

karen

5/30/2006 11:18 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Karen, I am not sure where this discussion is going.

I feel that every response I give you is written off with a wand of disbelief. What good is it to answer a theological question, or offer a string of hope where it is just disregarded? Evidently, no matter what answer I give you it will not be satisfying. There are some things we don’t know, but that doesn’t negate the claims of Christianity. There is obviously an irreconcilable detestation of God for not intervening in your life as a child and stopping the abuse. How do I respond to that? If I offer some theological possibilities, or the promises of God’s justice and eternal benevolence they are negated by the belief of His non-existence.

If your disbelief is unwavering, then there is nothing I, or anyone on this planet can say to help you understand our position. I can rehearse all the classical arguments for God’s existence because I have studied them, and I can defend the historicity and inspiration of the bible, but all you would do is go to the infidel’s web site and dig up the slogan responses to slogan arguments. I think the Christian arguments prevail, however, there will always be a way to cast doubt about anything—even your own existence. Some atheist can be stopped in their tracks, while others just find another way out. Yet, it is not the arguments that bring someone to God—it is God who brings people to Him. This is an unpopular and despised reformed position, but I think it’s the biblical one. It’s one that I have been contemplating deeply lately trying to work things out in my own theological position. I know this is unsatisfactory to you and I don’t expect you to yield understanding. If you like, I can give some links to some well written articles explaining the position, but I don’t see how you will benefit. I do think there is hope for you, but not of yourself—God has to work within you. Maybe He is already and maybe He is not. God uses means to call people to Himself, perhaps He is called you to repentance; maybe you should listen.

5/30/2006 2:32 PM

 
Anonymous karen said...

BF
I am not sure what you expected of me. Did you think you were turning me toward God?
I can no longer believe what I once believed-what you now believe. I don't know how to answer your responses with anything other than disbelief, or with questions whose answers I think might shed some light for me.
I'm not getting anything from the infidel web site. I've only visited there once, months ago, to check out a link someone posted somewhere else. I don't even recall what the site is like. What you've got is coming from my head, except for the quotes I gave you from an abuse reference.

The detestation of God is a valid point, albeit a tricky issue. I started to try to explain it, but deleted it all. Suffice it to say that I am, as you said before, in a unique circumstance.
I speak from a splintered mind. And yes, there is one within me who hates God, and though that may reflect in what I write, it is not the position of the one who is writing, the one in control.
I cannot hate that which I do not believe to exist.
I like this idea about God bringing people to him. That cuts out the middleman. Or at least it could. I can see how it would be said that the middleman is being used by God to bring people to him.

So, I guess we are at an impasse. I gather you would rather beat your head against a wall. Hey, maybe God is using me to test you?

karen

5/31/2006 11:04 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Karen,

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the dialogue. It just seems like I am talking to a wall (no offense). I wouldn’t say I am trying to convert you per se; I am just trying to reason with you; but all efforts miserably fail. One of these reasons (I think primarily) is this horrible issue rooted in your childhood experience.

If anything Karen, let me state this, Jesus said, “And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me .But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

5/31/2006 12:51 PM

 
Anonymous karen said...

BF
OK, now I'm laughing...well, chuckling.
NOT at your second paragraph, but at the first, because I KNOW how infuriating I can be. If you think I'm hard to reason with, you should try some of the others in my head!! ;) But I'm not doing it just to aggravate you. Honest.

But in all earnestness, just what does that quote from Jesus mean?
Does it mean that the offender won't be forgiven or given heaven at judgement? (assuming he asks for it)
Take me out of the equation and apply it to someone else. Like what's-her-name, the woman who drowned her kids in the bathtub. Or anybody. You pick.

BTW, I'm not going anywhere with this. Just asking. I don't approach this like a chess game where you have to look ahead to see where a move will take you.

5/31/2006 2:17 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

God’s forgiveness of sin is not the same as sweeping it under the carpet. I will have to speak to it later as I have some other pressing obligations.

5/31/2006 3:19 PM

 

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