Author Topic: All or nothing [#2563]  (Read 5656 times)

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Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2011, 05:14:17 PM »
Jaimehlers:
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Before I begin, I think I should say that while I consider myself a Christian,
On the other hand:
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If you remove the resurrection, the "Son of God", the "virgin birth", the "miracles", the "Abraham/David lineage" and other things of that nature, what do you end up with?  A human being, who tried ... <snip>


You're not a Christian, Jaimehlers. Simple as that.

Your beliefs do not concur with the most basic tenets of Christianity. How much of the Apostles Creed do you actually believe in:

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholick Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.
Amen.


Not a lot, by the sounds of it... but that's what Christians believe, generally and for the most part.



Edit: I see RNS beat me to it...
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 05:24:12 PM by Gnu Ordure »

Offline LadyLucy

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2011, 06:20:23 PM »
By the way, jaimehlers: You are in no hurry. As long as you take time to understand the point, you're fine. The last thing we want are hurried [and unsatisfactory] responses. So far, I see you've put more thought into it than your typical Christian.

I know it has been said so many times that it's like beating a dead horse, but you are not a Christian. Call yourself a deist [with Christian remenants], and ta-da. Not bad. Although, I would suggest the following:

- Read the Bible. Go ahead, why not? It's as long as the Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. Somewhat that long. And don't be surprised if you get bored. It's poorly written [fact of the matter, although I did read it myself, there were plenty of parts that were far too boring and repetitive that I had to skip them, such as Numbers].

- Look at the sect of Christianity that you originally belonged to. What do you believe from that sect? What don't you believe? Then look at Christianity for what it is. What do you not believe out of all the doctrine? If vast majority doesn't click with you, then call yourself a deist.

- Assuming that you'll take the fact that you're a deist well like a fish to water, examine your belief system and ask yourself this: Why do you believe anyway? Is it because you feel it's nice? Is it because some things are not very-well understood to you? Is it personal? Does it make your life "better"? Questions like that. It never hurts to self-examine.

@ Gnu: Holy shit, it has been SO LONG since I recited the Apostle's Creed. Thing got stuck in my head from church every Sunday reciting it. It's funny; I never could memorize the whole thing, simply because I never took the time to learn every phrase for real [as in, understand the creed for what it is].

Yes, I nostalgia'd. I had such a big moment of nostalgia that it was mind-blowing.


Offline Jezebel

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #31 on: June 13, 2011, 07:28:30 PM »
God might be an entity, or a thing outside the universe... or something else we can't describe... But we still believe he exists, even if we don't know what exists.... <--- How does something you can't define and you don't know the characteristics of exist? Could I not say "Gooblegobble" made the universe and have it imbued with exactly as much meaning? What is the point in attributing anything to "god" when the word "god" has no meaning? It's just an inherited word.

And I agree with the others who ask why you chose Jesus specifically to name your morality and ethics and lifestyle after-- Jesus actually said quite a lot of hateful things. (Of course, if you are just picking and choosing from what you think Jesus actually said you can ignore those.) Have you done much reading about the "history" of Jesus? Where do you get the idea that he voluntarily sacrificed himself to save his disciples? (Seriously-- can you source that?) There are so many other people who have done tremendous, altruistic things that have had far-reaching positive impacts on humanity who have NOT also told people to fight among themselves if they disagree about him, who saved FAR more people than the handful of disciples you allege he saved, who went through far more pain and hardship than three days on the cross (which is admittedly gruesome but far from the worst thing anyone has ever experienced). It seems to me that you've made a decision and now you're going to justify that decision, even when the rationale you use to support that decision is false. If you only call yourself a "Christian" because you think the life you imagine Jesus lived is worth emulating, what makes him MORE worthy of emulation than any of the other martyrs in history? (Martyrs, as some have mentioned, we know actually existed, because like or not there's not a whole lot of evidence for Jesus.)

I don't personally care what you call yourself, but you are pretty much making stuff up as you go. That is also your prerogative, but you can't expect people to respect it. I can say that god is an alien superbeing with telepathic powers who created the universe out pure self-awareness and that I don't believe that Mohammed was a prophet or that Allah wrote the Quaran and I don't really believe what's written in the Quran but I'm still a Muslim-- and would you take anything I said seriously?

That's what happens when you start making up words-- you stop making sense.

(ps-- I know you have a lot to chose from in terms of responding, and I don't think I've introduced any really original points so I don't expect you to "address" me and I won't assume it's because you can't; but I would really like to know your source on the idea that Jesus voluntarily sacrificed himself to save his disciples.)
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 07:41:30 PM by Jezebel »
String1248: "We Christian most certainly can use the bible to prove that what the bible says is true because I know that everything that comes from it is true. Christians confirm scripture with other scripture all the time."

Online jaimehlers

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #32 on: June 13, 2011, 08:19:44 PM »
Back for more replying.

pianodwarf:

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One of the contributing factors to Cafeteria Christianity is known as "SPAG": Self-Projection As God.  What you're basically doing here is deciding for yourself which characteristics you think Yahweh should have and assuming that he has them, then deciding which characteristics the bible says he has but that you think he shouldn't have and trying to rationalize away those traits.
That's actually not a bad test, come to think of it.

The way I look at it is that I can't possibly know what attributes God actually has.  So I feel that it's better to do my best to live my life in a way which avoids hurting other people, and which helps other people whenever possible.  If God doesn't exist, then I end up living a good and decent life.  If God does, then it's hard to imagine how living such a life would cause problems.  And, to be honest, I wouldn't want to live in heaven with a deity who condemned people eternally merely for not believing in him, even if it were a pleasant life.

Sort of like turning Pascal's wager on its head: Live in such a way which is good to other people and let the hereafter sort itself out.

Avatar of Belial:

Why use the Bible?  Well, one reason I still use it is because the various parables and questions Jesus posed can be thought-provoking (not the only reason, but the others are similar).  Other than that, why does this site use verses from the Bible?  Because you have to speak to people in a way they understand in order to have a chance of getting through to them.

As for why people should believe my version, well, the fact is that I'm not suggesting people follow my version merely because I believe it's correct.  How is that different from the way most Christians act?  What I want is for Christians to make their own informed decisions regarding the Bible and what it says - to exercise freedom of conscience, instead of being satisfied with easy answers provided by someone else.

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What is your criteria for the answer to your 'unanswerable' questions? For that matter, what are your 'unanswerable' questions?
Speaking in a general sense, because each person is different and each person's faith will thus be different, I can't give a stock answer.  In any case, I consider it to be more important for a person to be willing to question their faith than to worry about exactly what answers they're looking for.  Problems of faith aren't like math problems, where one follows a process to get the answer.  A person wrestling with their faith may never actually find a final answer to it, but the fact that they're willing to try is worthwhile by itself.

Think of it this way.  Why does this site pose ten questions for every Christian to answer?  Part of it, I imagine, is to see what they actually say, but I'd like to think that another part is to see who's actually willing to seriously try to answer them and who might be able to move beyond the blinkers that religion tends to put in place.

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The problem (or one of them) is that you don't really know anything about this Jesus-figure but the "after-the-fact deification and glorification". For that matter, there isn't even enough evidence to prove - even within reasonable doubt, and certainly not beyond - that he even existed!
Would it surprise you if I said that I agree with you?  The thing is, for most people (even the Bible does this), the resurrection and the deification completely overshadow the rest of Jesus's life.  You get a few apocryphal to show off how important Jesus is as a child - the virgin birth, the wise men and the shepherds, Herod's baby hunt, the flight to Egypt, etc...then practically nothing until Jesus gets baptized and starts his ministry.  It's the sort of thing that leads to someone being considered larger-than-life, and the problem with that is that most people know that they can't ever live up to that.

Maybe it's not something that I can ever really prove, but the idea of Jesus as a regular person who was trying to do his best to help other people is something I can maybe live up to.

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Ok, then we're back to square one... why call yourself a Christian?
Well, cause I am one (in the literal sense, I've gone through confirmation in a Methodist church).  The fact that my faith might differ from mainstream Christian faith doesn't mean mine is not Christian, since whatever the doctrine says, the definition of Christian is someone who abides by what Jesus taught.

Why do I think I'm right?  Well, it's not so much whether I think I'm right as that it's what I'm willing to accept.  And I'm not willing to accept the regular Christian view of "whatever God does is right because he's God".  I'd rather be 'wrong' and do good, than be 'right' and have to accept the Old Testament as 'good'.

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But all of those can still be created, advanced, improved upon without all the superstitious, barbaric trappings.
Yes, except without the trappings, you don't know the context.  And without the context, you end up with something which bears no resemblance to how things really were.  And then what's to stop people from making the same mistake again?  The culture might change, become more sophisticated, but basic human nature hasn't changed much, if at all.  And people already have too much of a tendency to glorify the past and ignore its faults without making it any easier for them.

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But that is exactly what "Magic-Decoder Ring" is! You are cherry-picking by saying 'that verse is no longer compatible with how I think a Christian should live'. That is exactly what what you're doing! And we still need to know why you think that these parts shouldn't be used as "example(s) a Christian should live by".
No, it's not.  I don't have some magic decoder which tells me exactly what I should or shouldn't do.  Just my own judgment and reason.  If some Bible verse tells me to do something I clearly know is wrong, it doesn't make me a 'bad' Christian if I don't do it anyway.

I can't prove a negative, so let me turn that around.  Why should the parts which I don't agree with be used as examples for a Christian to live by?  Simply because, for the most part, they aren't necessary.  You don't have to own slaves to be a Christian, for example.  Nor do you have to stone adulterers, no do you have to execute homosexuals, etc.

It gets stickier when you consider things like prayer and the afterlife, because those are pretty much core tenets of Christianity.  And that I can't really answer, because I don't accept the established doctrine there either.  I don't think it's right for people to pray expecting to get something out of it; I don't think it's right for people to think that if they only accept Jesus, they're guaranteed an eternity in heaven.

LadyAmorosaLuckyDulce:

If a person plants a fig tree, they are probably doing it to grow figs.  If the tree ends up being barren and produces nothing, should the person do nothing year after year and hope that maybe this year it'll be different, or should they plant a new fig tree?

The stuff that happened at the Temple was not directed at people "making a living", as you put it.  It was directed at the rabbis and scribes who were making money hand-over-fist by forcing pilgrims to exchange their money for "Temple coinage" at an usurious rate of exchange, not to mention charging a fee for their 'services', and who were perfectly willing to provide costly replacements for offerings that weren't 'good' enough.

Regarding "not peace but a sword" and the various contradictions in Jesus's statements (plus the other two things), assuming those were actually said by Jesus and weren't put in after the fact by other people, they aren't admirable.  But on the other hand, it's not like nobody's never said anything stupid in public; it's not like people haven't contradicted themselves in public.  I consider them reminders of why it's never good to idolize someone too closely, lest you blind yourself to their mistakes.

You seem to have missed the part where I said that I didn't buy into the deification of Jesus.  That includes the "Son of God" part.  So that's completely null.  To be honest, I don't go to church even for major celebrations.  I haven't for a while, because I don't buy into most Christian doctrine, and it wouldn't be right to pretend that I did.

As for the last bit, at this point, it's effectively impossible to get to the bottom of things anyway, so all we really have to go on is what was written about him long ago.  I'm not exactly typical in that regard, because I look up to Jesus as a human being rather than as a divine avatar.  I imagine for someone who takes Christian doctrine seriously, it matters a whole lot more for them to 'know' that Jesus really existed exactly the way the Bible describes.  So I can see your point, but it doesn't really bother me the way it would a more devout Christian.

(that's all I can respond to for now.  I dunno if I can respond to everyone the way I have been, as it's very time-consuming, but I'm going to at least keep responding.  Incidentally, part of the reason I call myself a Christian is because I've always thought of myself that way.  Call me stubborn - I certainly am - but I'm not the kind of person to throw something that fundamental aside until my gut is convinced of it)

Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #33 on: June 13, 2011, 09:32:22 PM »
Hi Jaimehlers:
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that's all I can respond to for now.  I dunno if I can respond to everyone the way I have been, as it's very time-consuming,
I appreciate that, Jaimehlers. But if you wouldn't mind answering the single observation made by myself and RNS, that you simply don't fulfil the minimum requirements Christianity?


Offline Jezebel

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #34 on: June 13, 2011, 09:49:36 PM »

 the definition of Christian is someone who abides by what Jesus taught.


Actually, the definition of "Christian" is one who believes in/follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. "Christ" is a title that differentiates the "historical" Jesus or "regular guy" Jesus from the Messiah/Anointed one. "Jesus" was not "Christ" according to you. You're a "Jesustian," not a Christian. And it is an important distinction if you think it's important (as you obviously do) that you don't believe all the son-of-god stuff but the "regular guy" stuff.

May I also point out that most of what Jesus said was in no way original-- secular and religious writings that pre-date or are contemporary with Jesus say the exact same thing. You've only just heard the bible's version-- go look at the famous Greek writers and philosophers and you'll find all the same humanitarian values (and, in fact, more, since at it has been mentioned, not everything Jesus was was humanitarian).
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 09:59:34 PM by Jezebel »
String1248: "We Christian most certainly can use the bible to prove that what the bible says is true because I know that everything that comes from it is true. Christians confirm scripture with other scripture all the time."

Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #35 on: June 13, 2011, 09:55:06 PM »
LadyA:
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@ Gnu: Holy s**t, it has been SO LONG since I recited the Apostle's Creed.
Can't be that long, you're only 15.  ;) Or 19 - close enough.

I remember at school reciting the Creed in Chapel on Sundays (in 1967, ahem), and those of us who weren't into it did it our own way. We used to say:

I believe in blah the Father blah-blah,
Maker of blah and blah:
And in Jesus Christ his only blah our blah,
Who was conceived by the blah-blah,
Born of the blah-blah,
Suffered under blah-blah,
Was blah, blah, and blah:
He descended into blah;
The third day he rose again from the blah;
He ascended into blah...


.. and so on. 

Well, we thought it was funny. It was a big congregation and no-one noticed. Except one time, one kid wasn't paying too much attention, and so right after the whole congregation said Amen, a single voice piped up, blah.

Happy days...
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 09:57:54 PM by Gnu Ordure »

Offline Avatar Of Belial

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #36 on: June 13, 2011, 10:13:58 PM »
Why use the Bible?  Well, one reason I still use it is because the various parables and questions Jesus posed can be thought-provoking (not the only reason, but the others are similar).
Ok, but why not use the Qur'anWiki? The VedasWiki? The Pali CanonWiki? The texts of the AvestaWiki? Why limit yourself to the Bible, which steals much of its content from its predecessors?

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Other than that, why does this site use verses from the Bible?  Because you have to speak to people in a way they understand in order to have a chance of getting through to them.
Erm, no... this site uses Bible passages because it targets Christians (the most dominant religion where the site's creator lives). As such, it wouldn't make much sense to fill it with quotes from the Qur'an.

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Speaking in a general sense, because each person is different and each person's faith will thus be different, I can't give a stock answer.
Good, because I wasn't asking a stock Christian; I was asking you.

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In any case, I consider it to be more important for a person to be willing to question their faith than to worry about exactly what answers they're looking for.  Problems of faith aren't like math problems, where one follows a process to get the answer.  A person wrestling with their faith may never actually find a final answer to it, but the fact that they're willing to try is worthwhile by itself.
But if you don't get an answer, why do you keep assuming that faith is justified? Why is faith needed at all when the results are the same with or without it?

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The thing is, for most people (even the Bible does this), the resurrection and the deification completely overshadow the rest of Jesus's life.  You get a few apocryphal to show off how important Jesus is as a child - the virgin birth, the wise men and the shepherds, Herod's baby hunt, the flight to Egypt, etc...then practically nothing until Jesus gets baptized and starts his ministry.  It's the sort of thing that leads to someone being considered larger-than-life, and the problem with that is that most people know that they can't ever live up to that.
Everyone does that because the bible does it. Saying "even the bible" implies a reverse cause-effect relation here. But yes, the whole myth of Jesus is built up to inhuman proportions... and he may not even exist, so I still cannot see how you use this as justification for honoring him over many other deserving people (who have been confirmed as real, mind you).

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Maybe it's not something that I can ever really prove, but the idea of Jesus as a regular person who was trying to do his best to help other people is something I can maybe live up to.
That idea, that... myth... of Jesus being the ultimate goody-two-shoes isn't necessarily a bad thing. But then, why not say you're a Ghandian, or a Mary Poppinsian? Sure, you can't fly with just an umbrella, but is the rest so hard?

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Ok, then we're back to square one... why call yourself a Christian?
Well, cause I am one (in the literal sense, I've gone through confirmation in a Methodist church). The fact that my faith might differ from mainstream Christian faith doesn't mean mine is not Christian, since whatever the doctrine says, the definition of Christian is someone who abides by what Jesus taught.
Ok... but you're still focusing on this one guy, who even if he existed was neither particularly original, nor particularly important, seeing as he isn't your savior or the son of god or anything... Why focus on just him, when you've basically admitted you know nothing about him? All thats left is what you're imagination of him is. Its a kind of SPAG... except its now SPAJ (Self-Projection as Jesus)


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Why do I think I'm right?  Well, it's not so much whether I think I'm right as that it's what I'm willing to accept.  And I'm not willing to accept the regular Christian view of "whatever God does is right because he's God".  I'd rather be 'wrong' and do good, than be 'right' and have to accept the Old Testament as 'good'.
This is a rather odd idea to me. I would rather know if there actually was a god and that he's an evil tyrant than delude myself into happy-land just because I don't want reality to be that way. Reality is what it is, and our wishes can't change that.

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Yes, except without the trappings, you don't know the context.  And without the context, you end up with something which bears no resemblance to how things really were.  And then what's to stop people from making the same mistake again?  The culture might change, become more sophisticated, but basic human nature hasn't changed much, if at all.  And people already have too much of a tendency to glorify the past and ignore its faults without making it any easier for them.
Ok, so how does that hold up? What mistakes are we making using the art/science/etc we inherited from ancient Rome that keeping the trappings of ancient Rome would be helping us with? The History texts are there for a reason.

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No, it's not.  I don't have some magic decoder which tells me exactly what I should or shouldn't do.  Just my own judgment and reason.  If some Bible verse tells me to do something I clearly know is wrong, it doesn't make me a 'bad' Christian if I don't do it anyway.

Ok, let me put this another way; you are picking and choosing based off of something- you call it your judgment and reason, but why does that have to be right? Modern Civilization says slavery is wrong, but the ancient civilizations didn't. Why were they wrong? Can you really base it off of your own personal judgment on the issue? Maybe slavery in some form would lead to a better society.[1] Would it still be wrong?

Alternatively - from where do you get your judgment and reason?

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I can't prove a negative, so let me turn that around.  Why should the parts which I don't agree with be used as examples for a Christian to live by?  Simply because, for the most part, they aren't necessary.  You don't have to own slaves to be a Christian, for example.  Nor do you have to stone adulterers, no do you have to execute homosexuals, etc.
Well, since you don't accept any scripture that doesn't have your own judgment's seal of approval...

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Call me stubborn - I certainly am - but I'm not the kind of person to throw something that fundamental aside until my gut is convinced of it)

From what I see; you are just as much a Mary Poppinsian Pantheist as you are a Deist in Christian clothing - the only difference is that you seem really stuck on this one[2] wandering rabbi from 2000 years ago who pissed off the local establishment.

Even if you want to keep the spiritual side of things, I think it would be extremely beneficial for you to look into these other teachings very closely and subsequently rid yourself of the rather poorly fitting label of 'Christian', since that barely describes your views accurately.


TLDR: Why Jesus?
 1. Not expressing my actual views here, by the way.
 2. possibly fictional
"You play make-believe every day of your life, and yet you have no concept of 'imagination'."
I do not have "faith" in science. I have expectations of science. "Faith" in something is an unfounded assertion, whereas reasonable expectations require a precedent.

Offline LadyLucy

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #37 on: June 13, 2011, 11:28:28 PM »
Can't be that long, you're only 15.  ;) Or 19 - close enough.

I gotta' admit, my life is just getting started [kinda' young to nostalgia]. But it's because I never thought about it until now!  ;D

I remember at school reciting the Creed in Chapel on Sundays (in 1967, ahem)

1967? Nah, it's not qualifiable for nostalgia. No, not at all. [Darn, I just thought about myself in 2067... I could genuinely nostalgia without having age be a problem. :D]

and those of us who weren't into it did it our own way. We used to say:

I believe in blah the Father blah-blah,
Maker of blah and blah:
And in Jesus Christ his only blah our blah,
Who was conceived by the blah-blah,
Born of the blah-blah,
Suffered under blah-blah,
Was blah, blah, and blah:
He descended into blah;
The third day he rose again from the blah;
He ascended into blah...


.. and so on. 

I'm "guilty" of it. [Like I even genuinely cared to begin with. I couldn't understand the creed... -Sniff- I was an undevoted Christian... How dare I not know the creed by heart! WHY?!]

Well, we thought it was funny. It was a big congregation and no-one noticed. Except one time, one kid wasn't paying too much attention, and so right after the whole congregation said Amen, a single voice piped up, blah.

Happy days...

I'm sure they must have noticed the high level of Christian devotion.  ;)

Jeez, I wonder just how many Christians are guilty of not really knowing the creed, let alone abiding by it.


Online jaimehlers

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #38 on: June 14, 2011, 12:33:22 AM »
I'm a bit worn out.  I've been involved in threads this active before, but it was not something where I was the focus of the thread's attention.  I would rather not wipe myself out trying to respond to everyone who makes a post.  Thanks to everyone who commented, especially those who were thought-provoking.  I'll probably respond again once I've collected my thoughts.

Offline RNS

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #39 on: June 14, 2011, 01:25:05 AM »
Jeez, I wonder just how many Christians are guilty of not really knowing the creed, let alone abiding by it.
that's the one i could never learn either. and for all the prayers i did learn, it was almost simply muscle memory. i never really thought about what the words meant when i would say them, they would just come out because that's what you were supposed to do.

I'm a bit worn out.  I've been involved in threads this active before, but it was not something where I was the focus of the thread's attention.  I would rather not wipe myself out trying to respond to everyone who makes a post.  Thanks to everyone who commented, especially those who were thought-provoking.  I'll probably respond again once I've collected my thoughts.
take your time. i know in can be very tedious, and you have a lot more than most members to process and reply to.
although if your beliefs are important to you, i suggest you take the time at some point as these discussions will only help you understand yourself better. at the very least read them and think about them honestly and accurately- note that the members here are often very careful with their words and mean exactly what they say, so try not to load the questions with your own meanings and interpretations, as this is the thing that tends to drag these discussions out for so long.

Sort of like turning Pascal's wager on its head: Live in such a way which is good to other people and let the hereafter sort itself out.
at the risk of repeating myself- you sound old enough and smart enough to be living a good (moral) life without potentially fictional role models. it just seems so redundant when you are just applying the attributes you feel JC should have and choosing things from the bible that you feel are worth noting. clearly you know what is good etc. the fact that you can agree with his teachings suggests you already have the capacity to know these things. or if you are still struggling to find your moral compass, then sure, use bits of the bible as guidance, we can all find things of value there, but if that's all you are doing there is no need to label yourself as "christian"
« Last Edit: June 14, 2011, 01:28:17 AM by RNS »
love and truth and love of truth

Offline pianodwarf

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #40 on: June 14, 2011, 06:40:51 AM »
The way I look at it is that I can't possibly know what attributes God actually has.  So I feel that it's better to do my best to live my life in a way which avoids hurting other people, and which helps other people whenever possible.  If God doesn't exist, then I end up living a good and decent life.  If God does, then it's hard to imagine how living such a life would cause problems.  And, to be honest, I wouldn't want to live in heaven with a deity who condemned people eternally merely for not believing in him, even if it were a pleasant life.

So what you mean is:

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."   — Marcus Aurelius

And most here, if not all, would agree with you.  But this just brings us back once again to the question that everyone keeps asking you: if this is your outlook, why do you call yourself a Christian?  This is actually a pretty strong rejection of theism.  It's not outright atheism per se, but it is basically an admission that whether deities exist or not is irrelevant and that the important thing is to be ethical.  Christianity doesn't say this; Christianity says that your behavior is irrelevant and that the only important thing is whether you believe or not.
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Offline velkyn

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #41 on: June 14, 2011, 09:00:50 AM »
velkyn:  You know, I read some of the other mail you (all of you) get here, so I don't fault you for being cynical.  But please do me the favor of not claiming I'm saying something when I've already stated otherwise.  I said, in the very first paragraph of my e-mail, that I didn't share the common belief that the Bible was written by God.
  But you beleive parts of it, yes?.  Again, it's that magic decoder ring. 
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The fact of the matter is that I am picking and choosing.  I don't deny it and I wasn't even trying to suggest otherwise.  However, it's been my experience that most people "pick and choose" Bible verses in order to back up what they personally believe.
  Yep, and you do a great job of it. 
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That, added to the fact that I believe people wrote the Bible, not God, and it should explain why I don't have a problem with not blindly accepting what they put down.  What I was trying to do was, instead of merely picking out a few Bible verses every now and then to justify my beliefs, to instead come up with what made the most sense if you excluded the deification which happened after the fact and the glorification which was an extension of that, and then go from there.
What I find interesting that you accept any of it, with no evidence.  I can't understand that at all, especially when you go about making claims that any of this is real at all.
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If you remove the resurrection, the "Son of God", the "virgin birth", the "miracles", the "Abraham/David lineage" and other things of that nature, what do you end up with?  A human being, who tried to do good by the people he saw his own religion ignoring because they were unclean or destitute, and who tried to reform it from the inside.  And when it all came apart, ordered his followers not to fight to free him so that they would have a chance to live (since if they had, the Romans would have used it as an excuse to crack down and kill a lot of people).  I'll grant it probably isn't going to be especially accurate either, but I think it's a lot closer to the way things actually happened.
No.  You get the story about a character.  Again, no evidence for even the most prosaic claims about Jesus.  You get a synthesis of various philosophies of the time and nothing original.  And again, nothing supports your claims of JC "ordering" anyone to do anything. You've made that up wholesale to make *another* baseless little story to claim as your personal philosophy.  Not that this is bad, but you are no more impressive than the xenophobic goat herders from 2 millenia ago.  Humans love to create "just so" stories.
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And no, by that definition, I don't 'worship' Jesus.  But I do respect and honor him for the life I envision him having lived.
  Again, why not Gandhi?  Why this character that you ignore what is supposedly said when you dont' like it?  As I stated before, JC has some very nasty actions and proclamations attributed to him.  Why don't you go for those too?

and again, Jaim, you can request a more limited venue if you are feeling overwhelmed.  We'd prefer that rather than seeing one more person use the number of posts they get to be an excuse why they appear to avoid some questions.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2011, 09:05:59 AM by velkyn »
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Offline Jezebel

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #42 on: June 14, 2011, 09:13:37 AM »
I will shut up and quit reiterating points other people have already made, lol.
String1248: "We Christian most certainly can use the bible to prove that what the bible says is true because I know that everything that comes from it is true. Christians confirm scripture with other scripture all the time."

Offline hickdive

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #43 on: June 14, 2011, 11:10:33 AM »
"Here's another angle on it.  If we have a scientific theory which explains things as best as we can understand, and then later on discover things which throw parts of that theory into doubt, do we throw the whole theory out and start from scratch, or do we work with the parts which still fit in order to come up with a better theory?  The answer is the latter, of course.  I believe the same holds true for religious and spiritual beliefs, as long as people are truly willing to continue moving forward."

Did you actually read what I wrote, or did you just skim?  For one thing, I didn't even mention the "god of the gaps" idea, and it's not something that I consider to be sensible or smart in any case.  Trying to fit God into the gaps that we can't currently explain via science is a self-defeating proposition.  Of course, trying to rationalize God as Christians envision with what we know of science is not exactly a winning proposition.

Did you actually read what you wrote or did you just trot out something that sounded good without thinking it through?

Working with the bits that still 'fit' and rejecting those that don't is just another way of shoe-horning a deity into the gaps.

Just like you don't consider yourself a Cafeteria Christian or a Buffet Believer, you don't consider your deity as one that only fits the gaps in your knowledge but your writings betray you.
Stupidity, unlike intelligence, has no limits.

Offline Hatter23

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #44 on: June 14, 2011, 11:56:28 AM »
It does seem after rereading his writings, he is approaching the version of Christianity of Thomas Jefferson. Which is basicly Deism, with Christ as a slightly nutty philosopher one should emulate(outside of the parts you don't like)

An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline velkyn

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #45 on: June 14, 2011, 12:01:05 PM »
I'm rather suprised to see that Jefferson left in one of my favorite parts.  So much for "morals":

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68: For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.  69: But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=JefJesu.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=11&division=div1
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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #46 on: June 14, 2011, 11:01:00 PM »
Okay, looking back over the thread, it's evident I was getting caught up in trying to respond to everything individually, rather than keeping the threads together.  So I'm going to summarize the questions that people kept putting to me, rather than responding to every person's post bit by bit.  If I miss something (especially as these are summary questions), please say so.

1.  Why Christianity, instead of a different religion?  Why the Bible, instead of some other holy book?  Why Jesus, instead of some other person worthy of respect?

These are essentially the same question - why choose one thing to revere instead of some other thing?  Well, part of it is because of familiarity.  Of all the religions, the only one I'm personally familiar with is Christianity.  I've studied some of the Far East religions to a degree (specifically Buddhism and Shintoism), but that's intellectual knowledge.  It isn't the same thing as having grown up reading the Bible - admittedly, I didn't do so in the sense of Bible study, but because it was less boring than listening to sermons.  Regardless, I haven't read the Koran, or the Talmud, or anything else, and at this point it's not worth doing so merely to seek moral guidance.  In the same way, it's not worth joining some other religion at this point.

To anticipate the obvious follow-up question, it's not a matter of going to Christianity or the Bible to seek moral guidance either.  It's a matter that they're already there, and I have to sort things out for myself.

As for why Jesus, I'm sure you all understand just how revered Jesus is among Christians.  Even for someone who didn't really take to Christianity, he's still very much larger than life.  And it's not like he's the only "guiding influence" for me.  There are others now, too.  Jesus is one of many, and not necessarily the most important one.  Plus, at least a few of them are Christians (for example, Martin Luther King Jr.), and that leads back to Jesus as well.

2.  Why rely on a holy book for guidance instead of your own moral compass?
I already answered this to some degree, but there's other reasons.  If I look something up in the Bible nowadays, it's usually because some Christian used it in an argument and (almost inevitably) quoted it in such narrow context that the rest of it is meaningless.  In that case, it's very handy to be able to refer to the whole section instead of a tiny fragment.  Also, whatever one might say about the Bible, it does serve as the moral influence for a lot of people.  It's useful to have an understanding of how that influence works.  So it isn't so much that I use it for my own guidance, as it is that I use it as a reference.

3.  But the Bible has all these contradictions in it, plus it justifies things like slavery and genocide.  How can anyone justify using it for moral guidance?
If someone were to inspect a dilapidated house which had some damaged and rotten sections, the easy answer is to just tear the whole thing down.  But the easy answer is not always the best answer.  What if enough of the house is still sound to justify tearing out the damaged and rotten parts and then rebuilding it?  Can't know unless one does the legwork to check it out thoroughly.

Some of it is still good and worthwhile, despite the parts that aren't.  So if someone's willing to go to the effort to figure out what's what, then I'd say it can be a moral guide.  But that's not something that most people are suited for.  I would say that unless someone is willing to face up to the fact that there is a lot in the Bible which is just plain bad, that they shouldn't even try to use it as a moral guide.

4.  Isn't this just a form of cafeteria Christianity?
Perhaps it is.  On the other hand, I don't see the problem with it.  If I'm understanding it correctly, the term itself came into use because of Christians who used it as a derogatory reference for other Christians who picked and chose some parts of the doctrine but not others.  I can see how fundamentalist Christians would consider it to be a threat, but is it not better to have people who are willing to think and to reason, even if they buy into parts of Christianity?

5.  Where's your magic decoder ring?
There is no such thing in my case.  I don't make any claim of somehow happening to have gotten only the 'good' parts of the Bible or that I somehow managed to get it 'right' (unlike everyone else who ever tried the same thing).  I read in a book that people have ten thousand wrong ideas for every one that happens to have some grain of truth to it.  If anything, I think that underestimates the case.  I'm only using my own reasoning and my own logic, and I'm quite well aware of the saying about logic.

Will being wrong hurt anything?  That's the real question that needs to be asked here.  And the fact is that I don't think it will.  To put it another way, given the sheer number of religious ideas that have come up over human history, it's very likely that they're basically all wrong.  And if that's the case, what's one more wrong idea to throw in the dumpster?  Especially if it affects only me.

6.  Didn't you make an argument for "god-of-the-gaps"?
This came up because of a statement I made about how we don't really know for sure if the Big Bang just happened or if something caused it; I asked that if it were caused, whether we might consider such a force to be God.

One of the telling signals that someone is arguing "god-of-the-gaps" is them trying to say that God is responsible for any phenomena we don't understand (as in, we don't need to look for a natural explanation).  That isn't the case here - wondering at whether we might name the force that caused the Big Bang "God" is not the same thing as arguing than someone's existing conception of God did it instead.

7.  But doesn't the whole idea of religion fail the tests of science?
Of course it does.  But that's not really the point.  Science is a branch of philosophy, but it is not the whole of philosophy.  It does a good job of explaining a large number of things, but it isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to everything that we can envision.  What happens if we start using science to try to answer everything, and end up like the person who saw every problem as a nail because all he had was a hammer?

8.  What good is religion, if it can't offer anything more than an unsupported belief?
I'm not sure how to answer this.  In the past, religions helped to stabilize societies.  Without them, people had no framework to understand anything about the world and no reason to move beyond what was good for them, individually.  But it's different now, because we have the rule of law to stabilize societies, we have science to help us understand how the world works, and we have humanistic morality to justify moving beyond individual selfishness.  The only thing I can think of is the concept of life after death, to allow people to confront the inevitability of death without the fear of oblivion.  And I'm not sure if that's worth it by itself.

9.  So are you hedging your bets about the afterlife?
No.  As far as I'm concerned, the afterlife can take care of itself.  Regardless of whether there is or isn't one, my worrying about it will only waste time.  And there's little enough of that as it is.

10.  How can you trust the Bible at all if some of the information in it is demonstrably false?
That's actually pretty simple.  I don't accept anything in the Bible unless it is demonstrated to be true (by comparison with other historical accounts), or if it makes sense in a purely metaphorical sense.

11.  You don't accept virtually any Christian doctrine and you only look up to Jesus as a person, so why are you a Christian at all?
The only answer I can give is that I have always thought of myself as a Christian, even thought my beliefs have been diverging more and more from what is expected of a Christian.  That characterization isn't something I can idly toss aside, either.

12.  If you're just making up your own theology, and nobody's going to accept it, why bother with it at all?
Because I like to think and come up with ideas.  Even if I never come up with anything that goes beyond a fanciful exercise of my imagination, it's still worth doing for that reason.

13.  What do you mean by "I'm not willing to accept the Christian view that whatever God does is right because he's God"?
Basically, that God doesn't define morality.  One of my favorite sayings says, "To do good on behalf of something evil is still good; to do evil on behalf of something good is still evil."  In other words, God could declare something to be good, but it doesn't actually make it good.  It's the end results that determine if it's good, evil, or somewhere in between.

Or to put it another way, if God was proven to exist and was shown to be evil on the level of some of the stuff done in the Old Testament, I would rather do what was good than what was 'right' according to God.

14.  Why do you say we should keep the trappings of ancient cultures because we use other things from them?
I wasn't very clear here.  I didn't mean that we had to use the trappings of ancient cultures just because we used some other elements of those cultures, I meant that we couldn't afford to forget that they existed.  Just because the Greeks came up with things like drama which we use, doesn't mean we have to accept their beliefs in their callous gods, but neither can we afford to forget that they had such things.

15.  What makes you think your judgment and reason, to pick only certain verses out of the Bible and not others, was right?
I don't know for sure.  The problem with such a method is, even if it works for me, it's completely arbitrary.  If I tried to propose a scientific theory using the same criteria, it'd get picked apart rather easily.  The only thing I can say in my defense is that I'm still trying to work things out for myself - trying to decide whether there's any way to figure it out and make it all fit together.  Maybe it won't, but even in that case I'll still benefit from the mental exercise.

16.  If you take away the supernatural stuff from the Gospels, you don't end up with much of anything because of the overall dearth of independent evidence supporting them.  So where do you get your idea of Jesus from?
I once played the role of Jesus in a local production of Jesus Christ Superstar.  One of the things about acting is that you have to figure out how to 'be' the role.  And I did.  What I came up with was a man, believing that God spoke to him, and trying to cope with being overwhelmed as well as the premonitions of doom.  Trying to keep from losing it.

Maybe it won't make sense to other people, but it's my way of coming up with something which I can accept and which could have happened.  Because the narrow Biblical view of Jesus simply doesn't work.  All the various things that were attributed to him and previous Biblical figures...if they really happened the way they were described to happen, then they would still be happening.  Things don't change for no reason.  And the most reasonable explanation is that they didn't change.

You can see where I'm going with this.  But despite that, I don't think it's reasonable to conclude that there's no basis to the myths and exaggerations in the first place.  Just that it didn't bear much resemblance to what actually happened.  So while I don't think my conception of Jesus is historically accurate either, it's a lot closer than the Biblical version was.

----

I think that covers most of the stuff in this thread.  If I missed something, or if someone has something relevant to add, please say so.  However, I would prefer not to have to continue fending off accusations of "god of the gaps" or "cafeteria Christianity".  It doesn't do much good to plow over the same topic over and over again, and it's more likely to frustrate everyone who's involved than anything.

Offline Aaron123

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #47 on: June 14, 2011, 11:34:23 PM »
jaimehlers, someone else mentioned Thomas Jefferson.  Are you aware that he edited the gospel stories and made his own version of the bible?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

Basically, it's an attempt to get the "historical Jesus" out of the gospel stories by removing all the magic.  Here, Jesus is not "the son of god"; he's just a man.  Would you say that this version fits your idea of who Jesus was and how he lived and died?
Being a Christian, I've made my decision. That decision offers no compromise; therefore, I'm closed to anything else.

Online jaimehlers

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #48 on: June 15, 2011, 12:43:51 AM »
I have heard of it, but I've never actually read it, so I can't judge.  However, I think it's the right idea in general, even though it seems to rely on the accuracy of the Gospel stories in every aspect except for the magic and miracles (note, I haven't read it, so this is a supposition).

I own a book called "Misquoting Jesus", by Bart D. Ehrman.  To quote from the jacket, the book points out "a multitude of mistakes and intentional alterations that (were) made by earlier translators."  In the introduction, he makes the point that the original manuscripts basically don't exist any longer, and what we have are copies of copies of copies of copies - often made centuries after the originals were penned - and that because of that, there are far too many differences between them to simply write off.  He also makes the very cogent point that as it would have been no more difficult for God to preserve the words of scripture as they were originally written than it would have been to inspire them in the first place, the fact that the former appears not to have happened suggests that the latter did not either.

I really need to read over the book again.  I haven't read it for more than two years, and it makes a lot of good points about the Bible being a human book, rather than a divine one.

Offline RNS

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #49 on: June 15, 2011, 03:36:49 AM »
2.  Why rely on a holy book for guidance instead of your own moral compass?
I already answered this to some degree, but there's other reasons.  If I look something up in the Bible nowadays, it's usually because some Christian used it in an argument and (almost inevitably) quoted it in such narrow context that the rest of it is meaningless.  In that case, it's very handy to be able to refer to the whole section instead of a tiny fragment.  Also, whatever one might say about the Bible, it does serve as the moral influence for a lot of people.  It's useful to have an understanding of how that influence works.  So it isn't so much that I use it for my own guidance, as it is that I use it as a reference.
i'm not too sure what you are saying here, could you elaborate please? do you mean you like to look up bits in the bible yourself to make your own judgements about what other christians are saying/claiming? if this is the case, you already admitted that much of the bible is false. so effectively it would be akin to reading bits of harry potter to make your own interpretations of it. e.g. someone says harry and ron had some sexual chemistry and uses small quotes to back this up, then you read the quotes in context to see if these claims are accurate? sounds like a hobby, not a religion. please correct me if i have misinterpreted what you were saying.

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7.  But doesn't the whole idea of religion fail the tests of science?
Of course it does.  But that's not really the point.  Science is a branch of philosophy, but it is not the whole of philosophy.  It does a good job of explaining a large number of things, but it isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to everything that we can envision.  What happens if we start using science to try to answer everything, and end up like the person who saw every problem as a nail because all he had was a hammer?
science is essentially a method, which allows us to form a justified opinion about a whole host of things. for the rest, which it cannot (currently?) explain, we must make our own judgements to the best of our abilities- wherever you find it necessary. again, what you wrote is rather vague, could you please use some real life examples? e.g. what kind of things are you looking to answer? then explain the lack of an answer from a scientific perspective, and how you have formed your own ideas using the bible/religion. i am not convinced that your beliefs aren't redundant. you have not mentioned anything that shows how it may have helped you or told you something you couldn't have already figured out for yourself. you said yourself that you are just using the bible as a reference and have described your beliefs as arbitrary.

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11.  You don't accept virtually any Christian doctrine and you only look up to Jesus as a person, so why are you a Christian at all?
The only answer I can give is that I have always thought of myself as a Christian, even thought my beliefs have been diverging more and more from what is expected of a Christian.  That characterization isn't something I can idly toss aside, either.
so basically you are saying that you find it comforting to hold on to your title of "christian"? that you would like to hold on to your blankie for some time longer?
again, sorry if this comes across as a bit rude, but that's the only explanation i could think of from "the characterization isn't something i can idly toss aside, either"- you haven't really explained why you cannot do this. again, please correct me if i am wrong and elaborate on your point.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2011, 03:45:53 AM by RNS »
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Online Graybeard

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #50 on: June 15, 2011, 06:43:27 AM »
Long post, as I'm probably going to respond to everything here.[...]
Why bother being a Christian? You have made a few selections as to what you feel you should believe from Christianity and I assume that if I looked at your beliefs I would find a few from other religions.

The point here is that the addition of a mythical deity seems to add nothing to your life.

Oh, and you also quoted the Biblical attitude to "Love thy Neighbour" - "Your neighbour" is any other Bible believing Christian and specifically excludes those who reject all or any of God's commands, i.e. you.

The dietary laws need not be followed as God, in the New Testament, repealed them.
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Online Dante

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #51 on: June 15, 2011, 07:01:33 AM »
Very interesting worldview, Jaime. Thanks for taking the time to engage all the questions. But I have one more.

Do you believe in magick/supernatural/superstition?
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline velkyn

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #52 on: June 15, 2011, 09:35:11 AM »
These are essentially the same question - why choose one thing to revere instead of some other thing?  Well, part of it is because of familiarity.  Of all the religions, the only one I'm personally familiar with is Christianity.  I've studied some of the Far East religions to a degree (specifically Buddhism and Shintoism), but that's intellectual knowledge.  It isn't the same thing as having grown up reading the Bible - admittedly, I didn't do so in the sense of Bible study, but because it was less boring than listening to sermons.  Regardless, I haven't read the Koran, or the Talmud, or anything else, and at this point it's not worth doing so merely to seek moral guidance.  In the same way, it's not worth joining some other religion at this point.
I am curious what you consider to be "moral".  As has been stated repeatedly, the bible is highly immoral to modern people in many ways, in both the OT and NT, down to what this Jesus character supposedly said.  You seem to have glommed onto a book that you've winnowed down to the point of it being *only* what you like out of it.  There are no external moral values here, only your own.

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As for why Jesus, I'm sure you all understand just how revered Jesus is among Christians.  Even for someone who didn't really take to Christianity, he's still very much larger than life.  And it's not like he's the only "guiding influence" for me.  There are others now, too.  Jesus is one of many, and not necessarily the most important one.  Plus, at least a few of them are Christians (for example, Martin Luther King Jr.), and that leads back to Jesus as well.
Yes, each Christain has their own version of Jesus Christ as you do.  We have those who decided that JC is all about hating certain people and those who practice the "golden rule" an idea that far predates any supposed Jesus.  JC is indeed larger than life, just like Paul Buynan, Hercules etc.  There's a reason for that, he's mythical.  Again, you say he's a guiding influence but you have personally decided to ignore those unpleasant things he purportedly said.  It does not seem that this character was so much a guiding influence but a convenient being to hang your own desires and hatreds on.  I find it rather bizaare to have someone say "I'm a Christian" but then decide for themselves that they'll rewrite what the supposed founder of this "movement", JC, really was.  It's like me saying that I really really love Star Trek and declaring that I'm a Trekkie, but then demonstrating that I don't really like much at all about it, except for liking green women like Captain Kirk does.  :)
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2.  Why rely on a holy book for guidance instead of your own moral compass?
I already answered this to some degree, but there's other reasons.  If I look something up in the Bible nowadays, it's usually because some Christian used it in an argument and (almost inevitably) quoted it in such narrow context that the rest of it is meaningless.  In that case, it's very handy to be able to refer to the whole section instead of a tiny fragment.  Also, whatever one might say about the Bible, it does serve as the moral influence for a lot of people.  It's useful to have an understanding of how that influence works.  So it isn't so much that I use it for my own guidance, as it is that I use it as a reference.
Above you say that you use JC as a guiding influence. You can only get this from the "holy bible".  So it does indeed seem that you are using it for your own guidance, albeit only the parts you like.
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3.  But the Bible has all these contradictions in it, plus it justifies things like slavery and genocide.  How can anyone justify using it for moral guidance?
If someone were to inspect a dilapidated house which had some damaged and rotten sections, the easy answer is to just tear the whole thing down.  But the easy answer is not always the best answer.  What if enough of the house is still sound to justify tearing out the damaged and rotten parts and then rebuilding it?  Can't know unless one does the legwork to check it out thoroughly.
As soon as you can show that this "house" is sound at all, I would be willing to consider that. However, even you don't accept everythign that JC has said, though claiming that he is a guiding influence.  We have a pile of a few boards, many already replicated in much less vile religions and philosophies.  There is no house left. What all would you "tear out", Jaim?  From what I can see, again we're back to your personal opinions.
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Some of it is still good and worthwhile, despite the parts that aren't.  So if someone's willing to go to the effort to figure out what's what, then I'd say it can be a moral guide.  But that's not something that most people are suited for.  I would say that unless someone is willing to face up to the fact that there is a lot in the Bible which is just plain bad, that they shouldn't even try to use it as a moral guide.
So, how does one go about this "figuring out", Jaim?  What is the thing you judge the words of the bible against? I agree with you, the bible should not be used as a moral guide since it is so ridiculous.  But people do it all of the time and not so magically, get exactly what they want out of it. 
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4.  Isn't this just a form of cafeteria Christianity?
Perhaps it is.  On the other hand, I don't see the problem with it.  If I'm understanding it correctly, the term itself came into use because of Christians who used it as a derogatory reference for other Christians who picked and chose some parts of the doctrine but not others.  I can see how fundamentalist Christians would consider it to be a threat, but is it not better to have people who are willing to think and to reason, even if they buy into parts of Christianity?
The problem I see with it is that very many people use Christianity to excuse themselves.  They create a magical omnipotent, omniscient being that agrees with them, and that gives them all of the "reason" in the world to declare that they are "right" above all others and thus deserve whatever they want since they are "chosen".  You ask if it's better to have people who are supposedly willing to think and to reason but who also accept "parts" of Christianity?  IMO, no it is not better since we have no way to determine what "parts" of this religion they accept?  What if they are all about killing others who disagree with them?  I find that to be more than a little problematic &)
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5.  Where's your magic decoder ring?
There is no such thing in my case.  I don't make any claim of somehow happening to have gotten only the 'good' parts of the Bible or that I somehow managed to get it 'right' (unlike everyone else who ever tried the same thing).  I read in a book that people have ten thousand wrong ideas for every one that happens to have some grain of truth to it.  If anything, I think that underestimates the case.  I'm only using my own reasoning and my own logic, and I'm quite well aware of the saying about logic.
That's what I at least mean by a "magic decoder ring".  You use your own "reason" and "logic".  And everyone's is different.  And I don't beleive for a second that you aren't essentially claiming you have only the "good" parts of the bible, sicne you say that you use them as a moral compass.  IF you didn't think you had the only good parts, what the heck are you using them for?
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Will being wrong hurt anything?  That's the real question that needs to be asked here.  And the fact is that I don't think it will.  To put it another way, given the sheer number of religious ideas that have come up over human history, it's very likely that they're basically all wrong.  And if that's the case, what's one more wrong idea to throw in the dumpster?  Especially if it affects only me.
Unfortunately, people cherry-picking the bible doesn't only affect them.  Look at the Westboro Baptist people.  Are they not harming anyone with their cherry picking? 
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6.  Didn't you make an argument for "god-of-the-gaps"?
This came up because of a statement I made about how we don't really know for sure if the Big Bang just happened or if something caused it; I asked that if it were caused, whether we might consider such a force to be God.
One of the telling signals that someone is arguing "god-of-the-gaps" is them trying to say that God is responsible for any phenomena we don't understand (as in, we don't need to look for a natural explanation).  That isn't the case here - wondering at whether we might name the force that caused the Big Bang "God" is not the same thing as arguing than someone's existing conception of God did it instead.
Interesting argument.  However, we just go to the problem of how everyone defines god as convenient for them.   You saying that "if it were caused, would the cause be defined as "god", yes?  Then "god", however define, becomes the force we dont' understand put into the gaps of "we don't know *yet*".  It still seems to me to be a god of the gaps argument, albeit, a vaguer god.
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7.  But doesn't the whole idea of religion fail the tests of science?
Of course it does.  But that's not really the point.  Science is a branch of philosophy, but it is not the whole of philosophy.  It does a good job of explaining a large number of things, but it isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to everything that we can envision.  What happens if we start using science to try to answer everything, and end up like the person who saw every problem as a nail because all he had was a hammer?
I'm curious where science is defined as a "branch" of philosophy?  This seems to be an attempt to redefine science for your own benefit. This argument is pretty common when trying to claim that science "can't" explain "X" so a "god" must exist, an attempt to create non-overlapping magisteria when there is no reason to think that there is any such thing.  People have been trying to claim this ever since science has made in roads on the myths of religion.  Since there is no evidence of any of the mythic events, suddenly religion is the "only" way to explain "love", "why we are", how we have "meaning", etc; things that have been essentially "invisible" until modern scienctific methods or are essentially navel gazing.  What happens when we find out (if we do) that it's all physics and chemistry?  And we have been using science and golly, it gives us answers reliably.  And we've yet to see one scrap of any evidence of the supernatural or any coherent, unified, answers to those questions supposedly "unanswerable" by science.
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10.  How can you trust the Bible at all if some of the information in it is demonstrably false?
That's actually pretty simple.  I don't accept anything in the Bible unless it is demonstrated to be true (by comparison with other historical accounts), or if it makes sense in a purely metaphorical sense.
Which documents would these be that confirm anything claimed by the bible (I'm talking about core unique claims of the bible)?  And metaphorical sense?  How does one come to the "real" meaning of someone else's metaphor?
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12.  If you're just making up your own theology, and nobody's going to accept it, why bother with it at all?
Because I like to think and come up with ideas.  Even if I never come up with anything that goes beyond a fanciful exercise of my imagination, it's still worth doing for that reason.
Interesting.  I came up with my own creation myth when I was a Wiccan.  I found that living one's life based on something with nothing to support it was rather silly and could be dangerous and quite disappointing if one believed that magic spells actualy worked.
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Basically, that God doesn't define morality.  One of my favorite sayings says, "To do good on behalf of something evil is still good; to do evil on behalf of something good is still evil."  In other words, God could declare something to be good, but it doesn't actually make it good.  It's the end results that determine if it's good, evil, or somewhere in between.
What does define morality? You seem to be arguing for the "end justifies the means".
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Or to put it another way, if God was proven to exist and was shown to be evil on the level of some of the stuff done in the Old Testament, I would rather do what was good than what was 'right' according to God.
So, in effect, if you found a teaching that you didnt' agree with, you'd go with what *you* think is right.  I do that too. 
16.  If you take away the supernatural stuff from the Gospels, you don't end up with much of anything because of the overall dearth of independent evidence supporting them.  So where do you get your idea of Jesus from?
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I once played the role of Jesus in a local production of Jesus Christ Superstar.  One of the things about acting is that you have to figure out how to 'be' the role.  And I did.  What I came up with was a man, believing that God spoke to him, and trying to cope with being overwhelmed as well as the premonitions of doom.  Trying to keep from losing it.
One of my absolute favorite pieces of music (favorite version is the one with Glenn Carter). Judas has the best parts though :) One of the reasons I like it is that the JC here is nothing like the JC presented in the bible. The opera makes a good story, the gospels make nosense. You don't get the ridiculous actions by Jesus, you get a classic myth a la Joseph Campbell.  JCS makes a better fit into what we know of the time period, but still depends on modern sensiblities.
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Offline Jezebel

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #53 on: June 15, 2011, 09:57:33 AM »
So you've basically made up this character, "Jesus," out of pure imagination. I can understand a lot of what you're saying but I still can't understand why you deliberately present yourself-- and argue as-- a "Christian" despite all the points that have been made, including the definition of "Christian." I wouldn't expect you to throw it out just because someone told you to, but if you've made this character up, without much basis, and the word "Christian" does not accurately represent your beliefs (which is does not, since a "Christian" beliefs Jesus was the messiah) and you know that in this culture if you claim to be a "Christian" you are, in fact, conveying a specific message about your  b beliefs which you then say are not applicable... You haven't really addressed this, I don't think, except to say that you thought up a character to emulate and other people revere Jesus (and I don't see what bearing that has on your choice of the label, frankly). You haven't been able to provide the source requested for your statements about Jesus and apparently you don't actually know very much about him-- you are very clearly "cherry picking" the "good" things he said from the "bad" things he said-- are you even aware of the "bad" things he said?

You've just imagined a character that embodies your values. That's fine. But calling yourself a "Christian" is just plain misleading.  You don't believe Jesus was Christ, you know that's how people are going to interpret it, you continue to insist on using it even though it's been repeatedly demonstrated to be inaccurate-- is there more to this that you're not telling us? Or not telling yourself? Sometimes people want to be perceived as rational even when their beliefs aren't, and they end up doing a lot of mental and verbal gymnastics to try and make it seem like they have all kinds of well-thought-out reasons and rationales for the things they're questioned on, when in truth, they don't. To return to an earlier analogy, if I told everyone I was a Muslim but that I didn't believe in Allah, didn't think Mohammed was a prophet, only believed the parts of the Quran that agreed with my personal subjective morality, didn't go to mosque or pray-- wouldn't you stand there scratching your head and saying, "Then why do you call yourself a Muslim?" And if I said, "I have this idea that Mohammed was a really neat guy who said a lot of really cool things," would you consider that sufficient? ...I get the feeling that maybe you're being deliberately misleading or provocative; calling yourself a "Christian" is a lot more apt to get reactions than calling yourself a deist, isn't it? Or do you live in circumstances where not calling yourself a Christian could create a lot of social friction? ...Basically what rational reason is there to keep using a label that is completely false?

Things Jesus said you might not be aware of (and yes, the bible has been re-translated over and over, but that doesn't mean that Jesus originally only said "good" things-- you obviously need to do some research, and this may help you get started):

 "He said to them, 'But now if you have a purse, take it and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.  (Luke 22:36)"

"But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.  (Luke 19:27)"

Check out Matthew, and the story of the Cannanite woman who begs Jesus to heal her daughter-- his response is "It is not right to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs" and "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" meaning he won't heal her daughter because she's not Jewish-- it's in the bible, you can go look for yourself.

Also, if you're into the "mistranslations" of Jesus, you should know that "neighbour" is an incorrect translation of the word "reyacha" which means "fellow Jew"-- Jesus didn't say "Love they neighbour" he said "Love thy fellow Jew." Bit different, isn't it?

And try this one: “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:36-40)" --in other words, all the humanitarian values are SECONDARY to this.


Matthew 10:35-37
"For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:35-37(


"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34)

Jesus also threatened people with hell:
"The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity. And shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be a wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:41-42)

and
 
"He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever."

^^ this is what happens to them who don't believe Jesus is Christ, which means YOU, buddy. And those aren't the only examples of that threat.

...I could go on-- I could go on for pages. But hopefully you start to see the point-- this loving, peaceful, humanitarian Jesus you've invented is completely false. When you call yourself a "Christian" you are aligning yourself with the values of ^^ this man as well. Are you still so sure that's what you want?
 
I suppose you might just decide which parts of what Jesus said are "true" or not, too, the way you do with the rest of the bible, but seriously-- how hard are you going to cling to a single word? If you believe Jesus said one thing that's in the gospels you have no grounds to disbelieve the others. If you claim you want to emulate Jesus because of the good things you think he's said, you can't discard the rest. It's all or nothing, if you are using the bible for Jesus quotes-- and there's no other source, is there?
« Last Edit: June 15, 2011, 09:59:41 AM by Jezebel »
String1248: "We Christian most certainly can use the bible to prove that what the bible says is true because I know that everything that comes from it is true. Christians confirm scripture with other scripture all the time."

Offline RNS

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #54 on: June 15, 2011, 10:32:14 AM »
Jez has touched on some important points imo. we have been wasting a lot of time because of this inaccurate label. you started off saying that you are christian, and as we have  been pointing out problems with that, you have described a lot of what you don't believe in rather than what you do.
personally i think you are an agnostic deist/pantheist, but i don't know the full story. i would be interested in what description, in the following survey, you think best describes your beliefs:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,833.0.html
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Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #55 on: June 15, 2011, 01:55:32 PM »
Velkyn:
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Science is a branch of philosophy, but it is not the whole of philosophy.  It does a good job of explaining a large number of things, but it isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to everything that we can envision.
 
I'm curious where science is defined as a "branch" of philosophy?  This seems to be an attempt to redefine science for your own benefit.

I'm with Jaime on this point. In Ancient Greece and for centuries afterwards, what is now known as 'science' was the branch of philosophy called Natural Philosophy, ie it dealt with knowledge about the world of nature, as contrasted with other branches such as ethics, metaphysics, logic, politics and aesthetics. Modern science in the West (coinciding with the development of the Scientific Method) began with people such as Bacon and Descartes.

And modern science was further refined by such philosophers as Popper and Godel; in other words, the rules of science are defined by philosophy (philosophers of science, to be precise). 

So, philosophy at its widest is concerned with types of knowledge (wiki: Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.). Some types of knowledge, such as that produced by introspection or experience, lie outside the realm of science. As does theology (which is another branch of philosophy).

So the answer to the question, What should I do when faced with a particular moral dilemma?, cannot be answered by science. The answer lies in other branches of philosophy - ethics or theology. Wiki again:
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Most academic subjects have a philosophy, for example the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of logic, the philosophy of law, and the philosophy of history. In addition, a range of academic subjects have emerged to deal with areas that historically were the subject of philosophy. These include physics, anthropology, and psychology.

Does that answer your question, Velks? Historically speaking, and as a matter of current definition by philosophers of science, science is a branch of philosophy.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2011, 02:08:21 PM by Gnu Ordure »

Offline velkyn

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #56 on: June 15, 2011, 02:39:27 PM »
Gnu, I find this to be a bit odd.  To me, this seems to read that you want science to be part of philosophy, but you say that it can't address the qeustions that philosophy always tries to do on its own e.g. existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.  for the longest time, yes, those were not able to be addressed by science but now?  We certainly seem to be getting much better at it and philosophy's usual bailiwick seems to have shrunk to the vaguest of the vague "fundamental problems".   

I'm also curious, what are the "rules" of science? The scientific method?  I also find the term "philosophers of science" to also indicate that science is not philosophy or why would it be termed so? 

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Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #57 on: June 15, 2011, 02:42:38 PM »
Jaime:
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11.  You don't accept virtually any Christian doctrine and you only look up to Jesus as a person, so why are you a Christian at all?The only answer I can give is that I have always thought of myself as a Christian, even thought my beliefs have been diverging more and more from what is expected of a Christian.
Thanks for answering me, but you changed the question; I'm not asking why are you a Christian, I'm asking why you call yourself a Christian when you evidently are not.

We all know that Christians have varying definitions of their faith, according to their denomination or church. But (someone correct me if I'm wrong) all Christians believe in certain fundamental tenets - eg that Jesus was divine, that he died to redeem us and was resurrected.

If you don't believe in those fundamentals, it seems rather inaccurate to describe yourself as a Christian. We atheists wouldn't descibe you as such, and more importantly, neither would real Christians. You can redefine the definition if you want to so that it includes you, as you do here:
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The fact that my faith might differ from mainstream Christian faith doesn't mean mine is not Christian, since whatever the doctrine says, the definition of Christian is someone who abides by what Jesus taught.
... but no-one except you uses that definition. Hence all this confusion.

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That characterization isn't something I can idly toss aside, either
Why not? What's stopping you?

Why don't you try it and see what happens? The sky won't fall, I assure you.