Author Topic: All or nothing [#2563]  (Read 5908 times)

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Offline PostalGirl

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All or nothing [#2563]
« on: June 12, 2011, 10:40:09 PM »
Before I begin, I think I should say that while I consider myself a Christian, I do not accept the common belief that the Bible was written by God.  It was written by people, some of whom were honestly trying to write what they believed to be true, and some who wrote for other reasons.  I do not accept the idea that a Christian has to slavishly accept everything written in the Bible as literally true merely because of a few verses which claim the aura of divine infallibility for the Bible, and I consider it a perversion of the fundamental nature of religion as an honest search for spiritual understanding to do so.

I am specifically writing regarding an idea this site posited (in reference to the Biblical justifications for slavery), that because we cannot prove which passages in the Bible were written by God and which were written by people, that we must essentially reject them all as being nothing more than primitive superstitious beliefs.  The way I look at it is that accepting that the Bible was written by people does not weaken my faith, it strengthens it.  It means that, instead of being forced to accept the whole of the Bible as being the literal word of God, I can instead distill the parts which are moral and good from the parts which serve as venal justifications of things like slavery, or worse.

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.

The real problem I see with this "all or nothing" belief is that it serves as an excuse to stop moving forward.  If people accept the idea of Biblical infallibility, then they are effectively saying that what was written in the Bible is the sum and total of what people need to know and understand, and that if they only live by what was written in it by people who lived long ago, then that's all that they will ever need to do.  And that is wrong.  We have the ability to think, to question, and to reason, and to disregard those facilities merely to slavishly obey someone else's dictates is abominable.

Much of what was written in the Bible no longer really applies (for example, anything justifying slavery).  But much of it is worth consideration.  To throw those parts out merely because other parts are not applicable anymore is a bad idea.  The fact that parts of a system don't make sense does not invalidate the system in its entirety.

If this is read, I hope you find it interesting.

Offline Aaron123

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2011, 11:00:42 PM »
I am specifically writing regarding an idea this site posited (in reference to the Biblical justifications for slavery), that because we cannot prove which passages in the Bible were written by God and which were written by people, that we must essentially reject them all as being nothing more than primitive superstitious beliefs.  The way I look at it is that accepting that the Bible was written by people does not weaken my faith, it strengthens it.

Does this means that if you accepted that the bible was written by god, your faith would be weaken?  Very interesting implications here...


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It means that, instead of being forced to accept the whole of the Bible as being the literal word of God, I can instead distill the parts which are moral and good from the parts which serve as venal justifications of things like slavery, or worse.

In short, you're openly a cafeteria christian.

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

If you're picking and choosing which parts of the bible to follow, you're not actually following the bible.  You're following your own sense of morality, and using the bible to back up those beliefs.


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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.

The difference is; theories are meant to be studied and examined.  They have criterias for falseability(or should, anyway), and when made, the scientists know that there is always the possibility that they may be proven false.

Plus, scientific theories have been thrown out before. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superseded_scientific_theories
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Offline Nick

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2011, 06:25:15 AM »
So you are a "cafeteria Christian".  One who picks the parts they like and ignores the others.  Problem is there are a lot of your peers out there trying to force their take on all of us.  What is your justification for a belief in a sky daddy?  Seems like the rational approach would be to have proof before taking a leap like that.
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Offline plethora

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2011, 07:12:11 AM »
Okay, so your beliefs are not based on the bible. Fine.

So the next question is ... why are you a Christian?
I assume your parents are Christians and that's where you got it from.

Do you think that is a good reason to believe in the existence of god?
I ask because clearly, you don't have any evidence to back up your belief in god.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out you believe in god because that's what people around you believe. If you had been born in India you would believe in Vishnu. If you had been born in Iran you would believe in Allah.

Its ingrained in your personal and cultural identity.

I hope you do have the capacity to step back and see your beliefs what they are. The left overs of an ancient, barbaric pile of superstition.
The truth doesn't give a shit about our feelings.

Offline jetson

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2011, 07:26:05 AM »
You seem to recognize that following an old book does not necessarily make sense.  Yet, you cling to some of what this book has to say.  But ask yourself, why would an all powerful god either write, or inspire this book, and only this book, thousands of years ago?  Humans wrote this stuff, and while some of it makes sense, most of it no longer makes any sense.

The stories and events and rituals within this book might have meant a lot to the ignorant humans who passed the stories around, and began writing them down.  But can you honestly say that modern humans can actually relate to the book, its god, and its overall message today?

Come join the forum, you're one of the few believers we get to talk to that can write coherent sentences, using proper punctution and grammar!  I'm giddy...

Offline velkyn

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2011, 10:35:04 AM »
Much of what was written in the Bible no longer really applies (for example, anything justifying slavery).  But much of it is worth consideration.  To throw those parts out merely because other parts are not applicable anymore is a bad idea.  The fact that parts of a system don't make sense does not invalidate the system in its entirety.If this is read, I hope you find it interesting.

All hail the magic decoder ring!  One more Christain who knows what his god "really" meant, and can ignore those nasty ol' inconvenient things as he sees fit. 
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Offline Historicity

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2011, 10:49:24 AM »
I can't find the quote but Martin Luther in a preface to an explanation of the 10 Commandments said that even part of that was obsolete.

The 10 Commandments appears twice in the Bible -- once in Exodus and once in Deuteronomy.

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Exo 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet  thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his  ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
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Deu 5:21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt  thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his  maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Luther was creeped out that a wife was included among property.

At least the writer of Deuteronomy put the little lady at the top of the list.  Lutherans use a rewritten version of the commandments with Deuteronomy as the base and put a break after wife and rephrase it as if that was original wording.




Offline hickdive

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2011, 10:58:36 AM »
The Buffet of Belief combined with god-of-the-gaps; not new or interesting. Try again.
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2011, 12:24:44 PM »
Long post, as I'm probably going to respond to everything here.

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Does this means that if you accepted that the bible was written by god, your faith would be weaken?  Very interesting implications here...
Not entirely.  It would be more accurate to say that I can't accept that a supreme being couldn't put together a set of religious writings that didn't have internal consistency.  Even regular authors, both of fact and of fiction, do a better job of keeping their message consistent than the Bible does.  It's much more likely that some of the Bible was written by people who believed they were saying what God wanted them to say, and some of it wasn't.  Maybe some portions of it originated from God, but there's no way to tell how much (if any) because the ground has been plowed over so many times.

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In short, you're openly a cafeteria christian.

If you're picking and choosing which parts of the bible to follow, you're not actually following the bible.  You're following your own sense of morality, and using the bible to back up those beliefs.
Even fundamental, orthodox Christians do that - as evidenced by the number who obsess over the handful of scriptures regarding homosexuality while ignoring things like "do unto others" and "love thy neighbor", never mind the majority of the laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

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The difference is; theories are meant to be studied and examined.  They have criterias for falseability(or should, anyway), and when made, the scientists know that there is always the possibility that they may be proven false.

Plus, scientific theories have been thrown out before.
That's the problem with religion.  Not that it isn't verifiable, but that too many people believe that its lack of verifiability means that it doesn't need to be examined or studied.  A religion isn't a scientific theory, and it shouldn't be treated as one, but people have an obligation - to themselves, if nothing else - to question their religious faith.  Just because those questions aren't answerable using scientific methodology doesn't mean they can't be answered.

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So you are a "cafeteria Christian".  One who picks the parts they like and ignores the others.  Problem is there are a lot of your peers out there trying to force their take on all of us.  What is your justification for a belief in a sky daddy?  Seems like the rational approach would be to have proof before taking a leap like that.
Those people don't understand that trying to coerce a belief is inherently doomed to failure.  Good intentions don't justify bad deeds.

My justification?  Well, I don't accept the Christian doctrine of a being who is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent, who nonetheless has a close, personal relationship with every worshiper.  If God exists, my opinion is that he either exists completely outside the universe, or he is the universe in some way, or possibly something I haven't thought of.

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Okay, so your beliefs are not based on the bible. Fine.

So the next question is ... why are you a Christian?
I assume your parents are Christians and that's where you got it from.
Not exactly.  It's true that I did go to church with my parents when I was younger, and I went through confirmation, but I haven't attended a single service in over a decade.

The reason I call myself a Christian is not because of doctrine (you may have noticed that my beliefs don't exactly follow Christian doctrine).  It's to honor a man who gave his life, not to save the world, but to keep his followers and disciples from being executed alongside him.  A man who ministered to the sick, the poor, outcasts, and foreigners, and at least tried to teach of a different way than what was commonly accepted.

It might not be Christian doctrine, but it makes sense, especially if you ignore all the after-the-fact deification and glorification that was written long after the fact by people who weren't there.

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Do you think that is a good reason to believe in the existence of god?
I ask because clearly, you don't have any evidence to back up your belief in god.
Well, we know that the universe works in such a way that allowed it to be more than just an expanding space filled with hydrogen and vacuum, and that life came to be on at least one planet, and that it then evolved into creatures with the ability to know, to reason, and to think.  The only thing which can't be determined from that is whether this happened purely by coincidence, or if it happened by design.  If it was the latter, then would not such a force be 'God' to us?

That's my rationale for God.  However, I don't think that can be used to justify God as Christians generally conceive.

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It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out you believe in god because that's what people around you believe. If you had been born in India you would believe in Vishnu. If you had been born in Iran you would believe in Allah.

Its ingrained in your personal and cultural identity.

I hope you do have the capacity to step back and see your beliefs what they are. The left overs of an ancient, barbaric pile of superstition.
Where I was born and the parents I grew up with make all the difference, of course.  But the fact is that I can only answer as the person I am, rather than a hypothetical person I might have been if my life had been that different from the beginning.

The ancient Greeks were even longer ago than Christians, their culture was pretty backward by modern standards (though, they weren't anywhere near as bad as the ancient Hebrews, since I don't think the Greeks ever went in for wholesale genocide), and they were even more superstitious than modern Christians.  Yet, much of what they came up with still lives on in our modern culture today.  So maybe one shouldn't be so eager to throw aside everything about a set of beliefs merely because it happens to be ancient, barbaric, superstitious, etc.

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You seem to recognize that following an old book does not necessarily make sense.  Yet, you cling to some of what this book has to say.  But ask yourself, why would an all powerful god either write, or inspire this book, and only this book, thousands of years ago?  Humans wrote this stuff, and while some of it makes sense, most of it no longer makes any sense.
I believe I said that I didn't accept that the Bible was written by God, and that it was written by people for varying reasons, and that much of it no longer applies.

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The stories and events and rituals within this book might have meant a lot to the ignorant humans who passed the stories around, and began writing them down.  But can you honestly say that modern humans can actually relate to the book, its god, and its overall message today?
One of the problems with the Bible is that people try to relate to it without understanding the basis of why it was written, and rely on translations (made long after the fact) rather than trying to understand the source material.  And another problem is that the overall message is...confused, to say the least.  It doesn't help that the spiritual father of Christianity (Paul) was a zealot, and a convert to boot.

Honestly, I don't think most believers actually try to relate to or understand the Bible.  I think they only do so because they're taught to do so from a young age, or because they had a spiritual experience and thus believe based on that.  How many Christians use the Bible except to justify what they already believe to be true?

I think it is possible to relate to the Bible and to God today (though, not in the sense of accepting everything written in it as the "Divine Word of God"), but I also think the vast majority of Christians don't.  If they even bother to read the Bible on their own at all rather than just accepting a preacher's pronouncements, mostly they just cherry-pick a scripture or two to justify what they already believe and leave it at that.  I think, if it happens, it's something that a person has to do for themself, and even then, they can never afford to forget that there is no way to guarantee that they aren't completely wrong, since there's no way to prove it in any case.

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Come join the forum, you're one of the few believers we get to talk to that can write coherent sentences, using proper punctution and grammar!  I'm giddy...
Thanks for the compliment.

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All hail the magic decoder ring!  One more Christain who knows what his god "really" meant, and can ignore those nasty ol' inconvenient things as he sees fit.
First off, I don't accept the Bible as the "Divine Word of God".  That being said, it would be completely ridiculous for me to claim that same aura of divine infallibility.

Second, I don't ignore the "nasty ol' inconvenient things".  I just don't consider them to be compatible with the example a Christian should live by.  That includes the letters written by a converted zealot who had a pastime of persecuting heretics beforehand.

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I can't find the quote but Martin Luther in a preface to an explanation of the 10 Commandments said that even part of that was obsolete.

The 10 Commandments appears twice in the Bible -- once in Exodus and once in Deuteronomy.

Luther was creeped out that a wife was included among property.

At least the writer of Deuteronomy put the little lady at the top of the list.  Lutherans use a rewritten version of the commandments with Deuteronomy as the base and put a break after wife and rephrase it as if that was original wording.
I'm not surprised.  I imagine that this isn't the only example of where the Bible was modified after the fact by someone who believed that what was originally written wasn't really what God was trying to say.

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The Buffet of Belief combined with god-of-the-gaps; not new or interesting. Try again.
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.

As I stated above, I consider myself a Christian because I respect what Jesus was trying to do - or at least what I believe he was trying to do.  I don't accept the deification or the glorification, especially since those almost certainly happened after the fact and grew in the telling.  Maybe other people wouldn't accept that as a Christian belief, but I don't really care about that.  What I care about is living in a way which I can accept as both moral and rational.

Offline Hatter23

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2011, 12:34:35 PM »

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.


Ok let's use your scientific theory analogy. When has the theory that Christ is savior shown to predict and event in a measurable way, reliably and unambiguously? Or has it shown to be false in every falsifiable test?

The answer is it never has, and it has always failed in a falsifiable test.

This is quite similar to Aether Theory, Spontaneous Generation,  Inheritence of Acquired Characteristics(Lamarkism), Misasma theory of disease, Telegony, Phrenology, Caloric tangible theory, Phlogiston theory, Plum Pudding Atoms, Geocentric Universe, Heliocentric Universe, Bodily Humours Theory, and Alchemy.

Notice no element of these theories are taught except as a matter of history or demonstrations of bad science.



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 Dante

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2011, 12:49:51 PM »

As I stated above, I consider myself a Christian because I respect what Jesus was trying to do - or at least what I believe he was trying to do.  I don't accept the deification or the glorification, especially since those almost certainly happened after the fact and grew in the telling.  Maybe other people wouldn't accept that as a Christian belief, but I don't really care about that.  What I care about is living in a way which I can accept as both moral and rational.

What is it that you think JC was trying to accomplish?
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline Aaron123

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2011, 12:54:06 PM »
Not entirely.  It would be more accurate to say that I can't accept that a supreme being couldn't put together a set of religious writings that didn't have internal consistency.  Even regular authors, both of fact and of fiction, do a better job of keeping their message consistent than the Bible does.  It's much more likely that some of the Bible was written by people who believed they were saying what God wanted them to say, and some of it wasn't.  Maybe some portions of it originated from God, but there's no way to tell how much (if any) because the ground has been plowed over so many times.

In which case, why bother following the bible at all?  By your own admittance, much of the bible is outdated nonsense.



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In short, you're openly a cafeteria christian.

If you're picking and choosing which parts of the bible to follow, you're not actually following the bible.  You're following your own sense of morality, and using the bible to back up those beliefs.
Even fundamental, orthodox Christians do that - as evidenced by the number who obsess over the handful of scriptures regarding homosexuality while ignoring things like "do unto others" and "love thy neighbor", never mind the majority of the laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

Well, you're not really disagreeing with me here, so there's nothing for me to comment on.




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My justification?  Well, I don't accept the Christian doctrine of a being who is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent, who nonetheless has a close, personal relationship with every worshiper.  If God exists, my opinion is that he either exists completely outside the universe, or he is the universe in some way, or possibly something I haven't thought of.

What does it means to be "outside the universe"?  What does it means to "be the universe"?




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Well, we know that the universe works in such a way that allowed it to be more than just an expanding space filled with hydrogen and vacuum, and that life came to be on at least one planet, and that it then evolved into creatures with the ability to know, to reason, and to think.  The only thing which can't be determined from that is whether this happened purely by coincidence, or if it happened by design.  If it was the latter, then would not such a force be 'God' to us?

That's my rationale for God.  However, I don't think that can be used to justify God as Christians generally conceive.


God of the gaps.  Arguring from incredulity.
Being a Christian, I've made my decision. That decision offers no compromise; therefore, I'm closed to anything else.

Offline Hatter23

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2011, 01:02:35 PM »


Well, we know that the universe works in such a way that allowed it to be more than just an expanding space filled with hydrogen and vacuum, and that life came to be on at least one planet, and that it then evolved into creatures with the ability to know, to reason, and to think.  The only thing which can't be determined from that is whether this happened purely by coincidence, or if it happened by design.  If it was the latter, then would not such a force be 'God' to us?That's my rationale for God.  However, I don't think that can be used to justify God as Christians generally conceive.

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.


Bolding Mine. You are arguing for a God of the Gaps....then saying trying to fit a god into the Gaps is wrong.

Which is it? These are contradictory statements
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 #13 on: June 13, 2011, 01:12:02 PM »
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All hail the magic decoder ring!  One more Christain who knows what his god "really" meant, and can ignore those nasty ol' inconvenient things as he sees fit.
First off, I don't accept the Bible as the "Divine Word of God".  That being said, it would be completely ridiculous for me to claim that same aura of divine infallibility.
Second, I don't ignore the "nasty ol' inconvenient things".  I just don't consider them to be compatible with the example a Christian should live by.  That includes the letters written by a converted zealot who had a pastime of persecuting heretics beforehand.

Unfortunately for you, you are being that ridiculous.  You want to pick and choose what your god "really" meant.  Being Christian, you have decided to redefine waht that commonly means.  Why bother with the baggage? That's a big part of the bible. But you have decided that you can ignore what you want since it is "no longer applies" to you.  How have you decided which does and which does not?  According to you, somehow, you have decided to ignore Paul and the inconvenient bits from JC.  In that many of us know the bible quite well, and have been Christians,  I, and i suspect others, are very curious on how you've coem to your conclusions.

And there is absolutely NOTHING that indicates this is true at all or that JC even existed as described
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It's to honor a man who gave his life, not to save the world, but to keep his followers and disciples from being executed alongside him.  A man who ministered to the sick, the poor, outcasts, and foreigners, and at least tried to teach of a different way than what was commonly accepted.
  I would also ask what you think JC actually taught and what you are trying to emulate.  We have a character here who once said "turn the other cheek" but in another place says that believes should bring non-believers before him and kill them.  This seems to be quite conflicted.  Even if you leave out the deification (which seems rather random and you may as well be worshipping Gandhi with this retooling of JC), how do you tell what he "really" said?  Are you following a fictional pastiche?  If so, why?  From waht I've read, you seem to have attempted to redefine God, redefine Jesus and only take what you like from what JC supposedly said. 

Oh, and before you feel overwhelmed, you can ask to have a discussion room and only talk with one or two others rather than be the object of a feeding frenzy as can sometimes happen here.  ;)
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 01:18:34 PM by velkyn »
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Offline pianodwarf

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2011, 01:28:56 PM »
{Discussion about listening to some stuff in the bible and ignoring other stuff}

As others have pointed out to you, this is called being a "Cafeteria Christian".  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.  The result is that Yahweh ends up having the same morals and ideas and so on that you do.

If you doubt that that's what you're doing, ask yourself this:  Are there any character traits Yahweh has that but that you think he shouldn't have?  Is there anything Yahweh has ever done that you think was wrong in any way for any reason?  Anything at all like that?  Same questions for Jesus, too, of course.  If the answer is "no", then you're SPAGging.



(Aside to the regulars here: I just thought this test up myself and have never heard of it before... has anyone else thought of this, or might I possibly be the first?)
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Offline velkyn

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2011, 01:43:06 PM »
you may indeed be the first, PD. 
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Offline Avatar Of Belial

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2011, 01:49:25 PM »
It's much more likely that some of the Bible was written by people who believed they were saying what God wanted them to say, and some of it wasn't.  Maybe some portions of it originated from God, but there's no way to tell how much (if any) because the ground has been plowed over so many times.

But why pick only the parts you want to follow? How would you know if you picked the right parts? Maybe the good parts were inserted by humans who thought that their god couldn't really be so cruel, for example. The fact that you, nor anyone else, could really tell makes it a bit self-defeating to hold it up as a text to follow, since anyone can pick any random passage and say it was man or god at their own whim. This basically makes the book useless, because you have to encourage cherry-picking and personal interpretations to get anywhere.

So why use it in the first place?

Even fundamental, orthodox Christians do that
It doesn't matter who else does it, and you cannot justify it just because someone else does it. The point is you take what you want and discard what you don't, effectively giving you a whole different religion from everyone else. So why should I accept your version as correct?

That's the problem with religion.  Not that it isn't verifiable, but that too many people believe that its lack of verifiability means that it doesn't need to be examined or studied.  A religion isn't a scientific theory, and it shouldn't be treated as one, but people have an obligation - to themselves, if nothing else - to question their religious faith.  Just because those questions aren't answerable using scientific methodology doesn't mean they can't be answered.
I agree with everything here except the last sentence where I have to ask: What is your criteria for the answer to your 'unanswerable' questions? For that matter, what are your 'unanswerable' questions?

If God exists, my opinion is that he either exists completely outside the universe, or he is the universe in some way, or possibly something I haven't thought of.
Sounds like pantheismWiki with a dash of the myth of Christ. Maybe a bit of deismWiki in there...

The reason I call myself a Christian is not because of doctrine (you may have noticed that my beliefs don't exactly follow Christian doctrine).  It's to honor a man who gave his life, not to save the world, but to keep his followers and disciples from being executed alongside him.  A man who ministered to the sick, the poor, outcasts, and foreigners, and at least tried to teach of a different way than what was commonly accepted.
It might not be Christian doctrine, but it makes sense, especially if you ignore all the after-the-fact deification and glorification that was written long after the fact by people who weren't there.

That... doesn't really make sense at all, but I can see your premise. 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!

So you're stuck with the doctrine/scriptures which were cobbled together by some obscure writers in the middle-east and passed around/butchered/reassembled by the many 'followers' that came around afterwards.

However, I don't think that can be used to justify God as Christians generally conceive.
Ok, then we're back to square one... why call yourself a Christian? You've already discarded the doctrine, the rationalising, the base beliefs... all you have left is the Jesus figure. Who may not even be real. Also, with this "God is the Universe" take on things, do you still think Jesus is the son of god? If not, what makes him any more special than any one else of that mythical caliber? Like say, Ghandi?

Where I was born and the parents I grew up with make all the difference, of course.  But the fact is that I can only answer as the person I am, rather than a hypothetical person I might have been if my life had been that different from the beginning.

Sure you can. Just think; what if you had a conversation with a version of yourself who was born under those conditions? What would you do to convince yourself that you're right?

Why do you think you're right, for that matter? You combine all this Christian upbringing with your alternate view and end up with this 'whole new religion+Jesus'... thing. What supports this view?

The ancient Greeks were even longer ago than Christians, their culture was pretty backward by modern standards (though, they weren't anywhere near as bad as the ancient Hebrews, since I don't think the Greeks ever went in for wholesale genocide), and they were even more superstitious than modern Christians.  Yet, much of what they came up with still lives on in our modern culture today.  So maybe one shouldn't be so eager to throw aside everything about a set of beliefs merely because it happens to be ancient, barbaric, superstitious, etc.
But which of their ancient, barbaric, superstitious beliefs made it here? Just because the religion is a poor substitute for reality, doesn't mean we discard the science, philosophy, art, etc. that was created - and no-one said that. But all of those can still be created, advanced, improved upon without all the superstitious, barbaric trappings.

I believe I said that I didn't accept that the Bible was written by God, and that it was written by people for varying reasons, and that much of it no longer applies.
But how do you choose which parts of it no longer apply? If it was only "inspired" by a God, then how do you know he didn't want these "inspired portions" to stop taking affect after so much time has passed? If it was written purely by man- why bother with it in the first place?

Quote
All hail the magic decoder ring!  One more Christain who knows what his god "really" meant, and can ignore those nasty ol' inconvenient things as he sees fit.
First off, I don't accept the Bible as the "Divine Word of God".  That being said, it would be completely ridiculous for me to claim that same aura of divine infallibility.
Second, I don't ignore the "nasty ol' inconvenient things".  I just don't consider them to be compatible with the example a Christian should live by.  That includes the letters written by a converted zealot who had a pastime of persecuting heretics beforehand.

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".
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Offline LadyLucy

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2011, 01:59:22 PM »
Eugh, why are you Christian only because of Jesus?

You like the idiot who thought it would be an awesome lesson to kill a fig tree that didn't give fruit to him?
You like the idiot who went by a temple, saw people trying to make a living, and then got so furious he knocked over everyone's merchandise, only because they were soliciting at a temple?
You like the idiot who comes not to bring peace, but a sword?
You like an idiot who contradicts himself?
You like the idiot who would rather you gouge your own eyes if you looked at a woman lustfully? You would rather worship because of the idiot who thought it would be more proper if you cut off the hands of a thief?
All in all: You want to worship God, even though he clearly sacrificed his own son "to free mankind of its sins", and never apologized to his own son? You don't realize that the story is like that of child abuse? You don't realize that the God of Christianity is like an abusive parent?

I'm not understanding why you worship at this point, especially for a character that hasn't been recorded in history if he were to be real. His "existence" is extremely vague, so vague, that it seems like the guy from the story never existed to begin with.


Offline Dante

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2011, 02:03:31 PM »
Ok, then we're back to square one... why call yourself a Christian? You've already discarded the doctrine, the rationalising, the base beliefs... all you have left is the Jesus figure. Who may not even be real. Also, with this "God is the Universe" take on things, do you still think Jesus is the son of god? If not, what makes him any more special than any one else of that mythical caliber? Like say, Ghandi?

Well said, and is the point that jumped out at me too.

@ Jaime,

Why not declare yourself a Ghandian? Or MLKian? Or a host of any other real people worthy of respect, if not worship?
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline Bagheera

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2011, 02:11:48 PM »
You will have many responses so i will keep this brief.

First of all, welcome and thank you for posting your thoughts in a manner that is intelligent and intelligible.

Second,  it appears that the original poster, whose message was relayed to the board through PostalGirl, is the same person as new user jamieehlers. If that is the case, I recommend you introduce yourself on the Introductions<-(link provided) forum.

Lastly, before I begin addressing your comments, I thought I might show you some quotes by an agnostic on the board, here. Read them carefully. They may look familiar.

I do not accept the common belief that the Bible was written by God.  It was written by people, some of whom were honestly trying to write what they believed to be true, and some who wrote for other reasons.
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.
We have the ability to think, to question, and to reason, and to disregard those facilities merely to slavishly obey someone else's dictates is abominable.
It would be more accurate to say that I can't accept that a supreme being couldn't put together a set of religious writings that didn't have internal consistency.  Even regular authors, both of fact and of fiction, do a better job of keeping their message consistent than the Bible does.  It's much more likely that some of the Bible was written by people who believed they were saying what God wanted them to say, and some of it wasn't. 
That's the problem with religion.  Not that it isn't verifiable, but that too many people believe that its lack of verifiability means that it doesn't need to be examined or studied.  A religion isn't a scientific theory, and it shouldn't be treated as one, but people have an obligation - to themselves, if nothing else - to question their religious faith.

Just a sidebar... verifiable... not verifiable. Contradiction bolded.

Good intentions don't justify bad deeds.
If God exists, my opinion is that he either exists completely outside the universe, or he is the universe in some way, or possibly something I haven't thought of.
The reason I call myself a Christian is not because of doctrine (you may have noticed that my beliefs don't exactly follow Christian doctrine).  It's to honor a man who gave his life, not to save the world, but to keep his followers and disciples from being executed alongside him.  A man who ministered to the sick, the poor, outcasts, and foreigners, and at least tried to teach of a different way than what was commonly accepted.
I believe I said that I didn't accept that the Bible was written by God, and that it was written by people for varying reasons, and that much of it no longer applies.
How many Christians use the Bible except to justify what they already believe to be true?
As I stated above, I consider myself a Christian because I respect what Jesus was trying to do - or at least what I believe he was trying to do.  I don't accept the deification or the glorification, especially since those almost certainly happened after the fact and grew in the telling.
What I care about is living in a way which I can accept as both moral and rational.

Despite the characterization as a Cafeteria Christian, it seems to me from reading your posts that you are more of an agnostic who chooses to hide under the label "Christian". You don't believe in the bible, except that some stories in there resonate with you and therefore, voila, you are a "Christian".

I propose that you could use the Greek pantheon to fulfill the same purpose. Use what fits your morality, ignore the rest, and call it good. Or, as Dante and Avatar of Belial have pointed out, use Ghandi as your moral compass, and call yourself a Ghandian.

In any case, I must ask; what exactly is your point? We as atheists (mostly atheists here anyway) already rely on the Bible as little as you do, and our belief in God closely mirrors yours (that God is probably not in our universe). I appreciate your participation, but I'm not certain if even you know what position you hold.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 02:34:42 PM by Bagheera »

Offline Alzael

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2011, 02:22:56 PM »

(Aside to the regulars here: I just thought this test up myself and have never heard of it before... has anyone else thought of this, or might I possibly be the first?)

I've seen the general question and point raised here before by others. You're the first to put it in exactly that manner though.
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Offline pianodwarf

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2011, 02:26:25 PM »

(Aside to the regulars here: I just thought this test up myself and have never heard of it before... has anyone else thought of this, or might I possibly be the first?)

I've seen the general question and point raised here before by others. You're the first to put it in exactly that manner though.

Oh, snap.   :'(  So my effort to make a unique contribution to the topic needs to continue. 
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Offline ShadeofGray

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2011, 03:37:32 PM »
So, it's you who gets to decide which parts of the bible are applicable? Sorry, but if I read encyclopedia entries about a few subjects on which I am knowledgeable and found huge, glaring errors in them, I would not trust that encyclopedia on subjects of which I know nothing. Because the areas of history with which I am familiar are reported inaccurately in the bible, I do not trust anything that it says.


Offline Dante

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2011, 03:37:59 PM »
The reason I call myself a Christian is not because of doctrine (you may have noticed that my beliefs don't exactly follow Christian doctrine).  It's to honor a man who gave his life, not to save the world, but to keep his followers and disciples from being executed alongside him.  A man who ministered to the sick, the poor, outcasts, and foreigners, and at least tried to teach of a different way than what was commonly accepted.

It might not be Christian doctrine, but it makes sense, especially if you ignore all the after-the-fact deification and glorification that was written long after the fact by people who weren't there.


That's my rationale for God.  However, I don't think that can be used to justify God as Christians generally conceive.

 
Of course, trying to rationalize God as Christians envision with what we know of science is not exactly a winning proposition.

As I stated above, I consider myself a Christian because I respect what Jesus was trying to do - or at least what I believe he was trying to do.  I don't accept the deification or the glorification, especially since those almost certainly happened after the fact and grew in the telling.  Maybe other people wouldn't accept that as a Christian belief, but I don't really care about that.  What I care about is living in a way which I can accept as both moral and rational.

Another question that comes to mind: What do you hope to gain by holding your beliefs? Acceptance to heaven? Are you merely hedging your bets, ala Pascal's wager?
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2011, 03:39:06 PM »
Hatter23:  How good a job does science do to explain philosophy, or morality, or language, or anything else that depends on the vagaries of the human mind?  It's not really the right tool for the task.  As it happens, I don't really accept the "Jesus is Savior" idea, especially since it's so often presented in a self-serving way (or perhaps Christian-serving would make more sense): "Jesus died to save everyone, but you still have to accept him in order to be saved."  But the point is, it's not really an issue that can be answered by applying science to it.

Dante:  I think he was trying to reform Judaism.  Especially when you consider the nature of that religion before the Romans occupied their territory, and the way they treated each other, it needed a reformer in a big way.  It's hard to explain once I go past that generality, but if you're still interested in hearing, I'll try.

Aaron123:  Leaving aside the justifications used for the ancient Hebrews' land-grab and all the other stuff they were responsible for, I'm reminded of the adage, "those who do not learn from history..."  Also, one of the things that I think most religions forget is that they have to face their own mistakes and own up to them.  If you don't keep in mind the bad as well as the good, you end up with an idealized picture of the way things were, which ignores the skeletons in the closet.  So basically, it's the very fact that much of the Bible is outdated that makes it important to remember - as an example of what not to do, if nothing else.

"Outside the universe" means to be completely outside the space and jurisdiction of the universe and its laws (assuming, of course, that there is such an 'outside').  "Being the universe" is a little harder to explain; it's like if God actually were the universe.  No proof for either, of course, because something outside the universe is inherently undetectable, and if something were actually indistinguishable from the universe, then how would we know how to detect if something were because of the universe and something were because of God?  Neither theory is irrational in its own right, they just aren't going to be something that we can verify.

And sorry, but I don't accept your off-the-cuff dismissal of that last statement as being "god of the gaps" or "arguing from incredulity".

"God of the gaps" originated because of the ridiculousness of trying to claim that anything which doesn't have a plausible natural explanation was instead caused by God.  I don't accept that for obvious reasons.

"Arguing from incredulity" requires one to state that a proposition is true because it hasn't been proven false.  I'm not doing that either; for one thing, I suggested it as an alternative to the Big Bang happening just because, and for another, it could just as easily have been something else entirely that caused it.

However, it also happens that the creation of the universe was not a repeatable experiment.  Nobody was around to observe exactly what happened; we have a theory which fits the observation of an expanding universe, but there is no way to know what might have happened beforehand.  It is pretty clear, though, that regardless of what the cause happened to be, the effect probably happened the way we believe it did.  So if it was God, it's a pretty safe bet that he hasn't spent a lot of time actually doing anything after the fact.

Hatter23 (2):  See above.  Suggesting that God (or some entity that people call God) might have caused something when we have no possible way to come up with an explanation for what caused the Big Singularity to go Bang is not the same thing as trying to argue that God definitely causes natural phenomena that we can't currently explain.  If I were to suggest as a third alternative (to the "it just happened" and "God did it" alternatives) that someone outside what we think of as the universe was running experiments on configuring the parameters of a Big Bang to get certain results, would you understand better what I was trying to say?

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.

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.  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.

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.

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.

(I think I'll stop there for now.  This is getting a bit too long and it doesn't have quotes this time to break it up)

Offline Alzael

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2011, 04:08:49 PM »
How good a job does science do to explain philosophy, or morality, or language, or anything else that depends on the vagaries of the human mind? 

Those things aren't the purview of science. The thing that you're missing is that neither are any of those things the purview of religion.

Issues like morality, language, vagaries, etc. are issues for philosophy, and philosophers have been dealing with those issues for ages.

This is the thing that you fail to understand. Religion is nothing but faith. Without logic, reason, critical thinking, and evidence, we have no means of determining fantasy from reality. This means that religion has no ability at all to tell us the truth. All religion can ever do is offer an opinion and then try to persuade you to accept it without question.

Hence, religion and theology exist as intellectuall dead ends. They have no ability to tell help us understand the world around us, because once you apply any of the tools that we use to determine truth, it instantly stops being religion. Religion cannot give you any answer to anything, beyond the answer that you WANT to be true. It can never give you the answer that IS true. This is what everyone has been trying to explain to you.
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Offline Hatter23

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2011, 04:16:16 PM »
Hatter23:  How good a job does science do to explain philosophy, or morality, or language, or anything else that depends on the vagaries of the human mind?  It's not really the right tool for the task.  As it happens, I don't really accept the "Jesus is Savior" idea, especially since it's so often presented in a self-serving way (or perhaps Christian-serving would make more sense): "Jesus died to save everyone, but you still have to accept him in order to be saved."  But the point is, it's not really an issue that can be answered by applying science to it.

Hatter23 (2):  See above.  Suggesting that God (or some entity that people call God) might have caused something when we have no possible way to come up with an explanation for what caused the Big Singularity to go Bang is not the same thing as trying to argue that God definitely causes natural phenomena that we can't currently explain.  If I were to suggest as a third alternative (to the "it just happened" and "God did it" alternatives) that someone outside what we think of as the universe was running experiments on configuring the parameters of a Big Bang to get certain results, would you understand better what I was trying to say?


(1)You used the analogy about a scientific theory isn't completely disposed of if it is only partially wrong, and (therfore we were wrong to reject the Bible. I showed how a scientific theory is disposed of if it doesn't actually depict reality. You are the one who first made the connection, I followed up on it using your anaolgy. Don't now try to say I am comparing apples and oranges when you made the connection in the first place.

(2)Suggesting as God as a 'possible' explanation as prime mover as a reason for believing in god via:



The only thing which can't be determined from that is whether this happened purely by coincidence, or if it happened by design.  If it was the latter, then would not such a force be 'God' to us?

That's my rationale for God.  However, I don't think that can be used to justify God as Christians generally conceive.

Is a God of the gaps argument. It may use a few "questions" to disguise it, but essentially still remains an appeal to ignorance at its base. At best that can acheive a Deist God.







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 Emily

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2011, 04:23:32 PM »

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.

If you remove the son of god, the virgin birth and the miracles, etc, you end up with a complete idiot, liar and lunatic. It kind of sounds like the Lewis trilema, but this guy who tried to do good to those who ignored him told those people that there's this place where the streets are paved with gold where his worshipers get to walk after they die if they followed his ideas and teachings. Such an idiot deserved to be hung on a cross and mocked at and spit on, and killed for leading people down a road of delusion.

Ignoring his "godliness" and classifying him as just another person, a person with really awesome ideas about peace and love, etc, he's still a liar who should not be followed and worshiped, but should be chased out of society and cast out on a cross.

Sure Jesus talks about not killing and murdering, etc, but you don't need a savior to tell you not to do those things because any decent human being would know better anyways. Any decent person has morals that are not given by some divine being and not spoke by that divine being's son.

Quote
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.

Naw, you worship him. And for what? What has it gotten you?
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 04:26:52 PM by Emily »
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Offline RNS

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Re: All or nothing [#2563]
« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2011, 04:56:47 PM »
firstly i would like to briefly address the following:

Hatter23:  How good a job does science do to explain philosophy, or morality, or language, or anything else that depends on the vagaries of the human mind?  It's not really the right tool for the task.

science is itself a branch of philosophy. science can explain morality. science can explain language. science can and does explain things regarding the human mind. no it does not have all the answers, but progress is constantly being made. it is the right tool for the task, and where it is lacking, other legitimate fields contribute as well. i suggest if you are really interested you should do some more research into these things before you dismiss them. even a quick google/wikipedia job will show you sciences contribution to these fields.

now. reading your stuff, it appears to me as though you are not a christian, but a deist with somewhat pantheistic tendencies.
i don't understand why you feel the need to label yourself as christian. from what you are saying it just seems redundant. i have a feeling (and hope) you will not need it soon. i sense that deep inside you, you already know how to live your life, but you are just confirming your own beliefs with slightly illogical methods.
remember that we don't need to rely on god to tell us how to live a good and moral life, it is hard-wired into us, look within.
again, do the research. i'll help you start by giving you a few key words to begin with: group/kin selection (from evolutionary standpoint) and mirror neurons & empathy (from a neuroscience standpoint).
furthermore when you were talking about big bang (or what i really think you were getting at is existence) -this also applies to everything else in life- your options aren't limited to "that's the way it is" or "god"... "i don't know" is a perfectly legitimate answer. please don't be afraid of this answer.

edit: go back and re-read some of the questions (and the answers you have given). you have missed the crux of many of them, or your "christianity" has led you to avoid answering them completely honestly.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 05:02:22 PM by RNS »
love and truth and love of truth