Author Topic: why belief?  (Read 2448 times)

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Offline screwtape

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why belief?
« on: March 04, 2013, 01:48:41 PM »
...they open up salvation to the masses, to anyone who believes.

bold mine.  Couple questions on this idea.  Why do you think belief is the requirement?  Why not good behavior?  Why is it that nonbelievers are unworthy of being saved?  Is not believing in a god who apparently uses his unlimited powers to hide really such a bad thing that it merrits eternal torture?

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Offline muchlove

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2013, 02:37:04 PM »
...they open up salvation to the masses, to anyone who believes.

bold mine.  Couple questions on this idea.  Why do you think belief is the requirement?  Why not good behavior?

Screwtape,

Interesting questions.  Some I can answer, some I cannot.  I'll start with this one since time is limited.  In this case, belief is equated with obedience.  They are not interdependent of one another.  Obedience validates belief.  It is easy to fool ourselves into so many things we "think" we believe.  Maybe it sounds good to us.  Maybe we even think we agree with it.  I find it interesting, however, that Jesus himself sets the requirement of belief to be obedience in 1 John.  John the Baptist says the same thing in John 3, and Paul routinely affirms this in his letters to the Churches.  So, the question is, does one have "belief" if they don't strive also for obedience?  Not according to Christ.  Now, you, like me, have probably noticed a stark contrast between that, and the doctrine of many Christians who say one thing, but there is zero evidence in their life that they believe anything other than the fact that by "accepting" Jesus Christ they have their golden ticket.  Yet, scripture clearly states that Satan and his demons are completely aware of who Jesus is.  They call out to him by name and title before He silences them throughout the Gospels and casts them out.  So, if a demon believes Jesus is the son of God, and a Christian "believes" Jesus is the Son of God, what separates said Christians from Satan himself?
« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 03:20:35 PM by muchlove »

Offline screwtape

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2013, 04:19:22 PM »
Belief is obedience. 

If "believe" really means "obey", then why does it not just say "obey" instead of "believe"?  Why the opacity?

I read John 1.  I found no reference to belief being the same as obedience.  The word there for believe is greek, pistueo.   The closest meaning to obedience is b1 - and frankly, the way it is worded means little to me.  It kind of just sounds like the generic idea of faith.  John3 is rife with the same word, but in context, I see no cases where it equates the two.  If you replaced every instance of "believe" with "obey", it is not a complete mess.  But so what?  Replace "believe" with "disbelieve" and it makes as much sense.  That proves nothing.  You could substitute in a whole bunch of other verbs that would still be coherent, but then you are just playing mad-libs with the NT.

How do you know this is the intended usage?  It looks  to me like someone assumed it or shoehorned it in because it fit some pet apologetic argument.   

They are not interdependent of one another.  Obedience validates belief.

I'm very confused.  What do you mean by the first sentence?  Do you mean "independent"?  If so, I disagree.  One can believe in yhwh, but disagree that one should obey him.  How does obedience validate belief?

If we are talking paul, well, then that's paul, not jesus, innit?

So, the question is, does one have "belief" if they don't strive also for obedience?  Not according to Christ.

I do not agree.  I saw nothing from jesus that would even hint at that.  I didn't read paul, but then again, paul is admittedly a second hand account at best.

what separates said Christians from Satan himself?

meh.  That could be a byproduct of different authors from different times with different (opposing) theologies being lumped in together as if any of them were talking about the same thing.  I see no reason to even suggest the idea that believe=obey in the first place.
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Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2013, 05:04:35 PM »
muchlove

Okay, belief-wise. Here is a question I have. As a non-believer.

Religions sprang up by the many hundreds back in the old days. Very localized religions at first, then some of them spread via conquest. Others stayed local or died out. Christianity was spread by a variety of means, and so here I am in America, thousands of miles from the Middle East, and yet Christianity predominates.

Not counting scientologists and a few of the newer Christian sects, such as Mormons, Christian Scientists, Seventh Day Adventists, etc, Christianity and the other surviving religions are very old. Old in the sense that nothing new has been added by their gods in recent centuries. In recent millennia, for that matter. Which means that when a Christian asks me to become a believer, he or she is asking me to accept some rather far-fetched tales if I am shape-shift into a believer. Of course, the level of implausibility varies. Some Christians tell me that the earth is 6,000 years old and that not only have we had literal talking snakes, but literal floods and literal man-eating whales. Other Christians tell me that those particular stories are often allegory or metaphor or aimed low for the uneducated masses, and oft-times those Christians accept the scientific dating of the universe and our planet and merely insist that their God was involved.

I became an atheist in around 1962 when I realized that the Bible stories from church sounded pretty much like the Greek and Roman myths I was being taught in grade school. I had gone to a community church for several years when I was a bit younger, and calmly accepted the existence of a God simply because adults were telling me that he was real. But once I saw the similarities between what Christians were telling me and what Romans and Greeks were telling me, along with a variety of other myth sources, I concluded that the God story was just as ancient, and just as silly.

Fast-forward to now. I just checked the RSS feed of one of the science news sites I follow. I checked it before bed last night and clicked everything as read. Fourteen hours later I have 74 new science stories. A quick perusal tells me that palm oil plantations are isolating ant colonies and eliminating their natural territorial overlap, that scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider are about to present the latest results at a conference, that Hubble has found something else new and that Australia’s climate is heating up ridiculously fast thanks to global climate change.

In the meantime, my friend George is still very upset because I’m not saved, hence he believes I’ll spend all of eternity in hell. An afterlife he cannot detail other than telling me it will include free brimstone. Nor can he detail heaven, though he’s pretty sure the streets will be paved with gold. And that's about all he has to say. One thing a day, at best.

So while some Christians are asking me to believe what sounds like a myth just in case it is true, science and my reality in general coast along nicely without having to include a god in the mix. So what possible reason do I have to start believing one specific religion, and one specific interpretation within that religion? You have a god that stopped interacting with the locals 2,000 years ago and who, if I am to believe believers, loves me or else. While in real life, I have an actual world that doesn’t appear to need, let alone reflect the existence of, any god whatsoever. And in the meantime, far better explanations for many of lifes mysteries have been provided by people who were more curious about reality than they were about stories. And they tell me about what they’ve found daily. And while I’m pretty sure Edwin O. Wilson, Lawrence Krauss and other currently living scientific researchers don’t love me specifically, They share a common appreciation of the universe with me, which is far more fulfilling than a semi-dead child who fulfilled his fathers ambitions by, as I see it, taking a long nap then flying away.

Why should a non-believer believe? I see no evidence that any of the stories from any of the religions that make claims about gods and the children of gods and half-human/half god gods, or any other possible combination that involves deities, is true. I don’t yet know which version of Christianity you adhere to, so I can’t yet be more specific. But why should I believe?

And if one religion is true, how the heck am I supposed to sort it out from all the false stories if the true story sounds exactly like the others?

Just to let you know, I’m not the slightest bit interested in personal salvation and living forever, unless someone can prove, by my standards, that toasting forever is definitely my fate. And having seen absolutely no sign that it is, I’m not in the mood to play games based on the minimal chance that any of it is real. Which means that the oft-repeated phrase “But Jesus LOVES YOU” is of no value. You’ll need to think of something else if you want my rumored soul.
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Offline muchlove

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2013, 05:33:09 PM »
Belief is obedience. 

If "believe" really means "obey", then why does it not just say "obey" instead of "believe"?  Why the opacity?

I read John 1.  I found no reference to belief being the same as obedience.  The word there for believe is greek, pistueo.   The closest meaning to obedience is b1 - and frankly, the way it is worded means little to me.  It kind of just sounds like the generic idea of faith.  John3 is rife with the same word, but in context, I see no cases where it equates the two.  If you replaced every instance of "believe" with "obey", it is not a complete mess.  But so what?  Replace "believe" with "disbelieve" and it makes as much sense.  That proves nothing.  You could substitute in a whole bunch of other verbs that would still be coherent, but then you are just playing mad-libs with the NT.

How do you know this is the intended usage?  It looks  to me like someone assumed it or shoehorned it in because it fit some pet apologetic argument.   

Screwtape, I am impressed with your diligence.  2 quick things. 

  • Book of 1 John, not John 1.   Critical difference there for what we're talking about
  • John 3:36 is the scripture I was referencing for John the Baptist.  I don't want to go down the long winding path of Greek translation, I trust the scholars who have gone before me to have a better handle on that than I.  Specifically, however, I wanted to point to the Greek word in question in John 3:36, apeitheo which means "to refuse belief and obedience, disobedience, not to obey" and is related to apeithes which translates to "impersuasible, not compliant, disobedient".  We see the same two words used in contrast in 1 Peter 2

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They are not interdependent of one another.  Obedience validates belief.

I'm very confused.  What do you mean by the first sentence?  Do you mean "independent"?  If so, I disagree.  One can believe in yhwh, but disagree that one should obey him.  How does obedience validate belief?

Yes, typo, independent was the intended word.  Yes, but as I pointed out this is not a strict definition of how you and I view the word "belief" it is about what Jesus and his disciples frame as the requirement that faith and obedience, in this case, are both required, and thus not independent of one another.  Belief evidenced by obedience might be the more succinct way of stating it.

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So, the question is, does one have "belief" if they don't strive also for obedience?  Not according to Christ.

I do not agree.  I saw nothing from jesus that would even hint at that.

Matthew 7:21
 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

John 14:21-24
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me."

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I didn't read paul, but then again, paul is admittedly a second hand account at best.

How so?  I mean, admittedly, any of written recorded history is largely 2nd hand account, or written by the witnesses of said events.  That aside, Peter and the apostles accept him as having the authority of an apostle, and Jesus himself meets Paul on the road to Damascus and blinds him.  His companions hear the voice but see nothing.  When Paul asks "Who are you?" he replies, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting."  Luke records all of this in his letter to Theophilus and appears to accompany Paul on his journey, witnessing first hand many of things he writes about.

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what separates said Christians from Satan himself?

meh.  That could be a byproduct of different authors from different times with different (opposing) theologies being lumped in together as if any of them were talking about the same thing.  I see no reason to even suggest the idea that believe=obey in the first place.

James 2:18-26
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

So, we have Jesus, Paul, John, Peter and James all writing that faith/obedience are entirely dependent and correlated.  Seems to me that the only faith worth having, in the end,  is a faith evidenced by obedience.  There are many evidences here to suggest the case is well presented and laid out by Jesus and his disciples (who should know his teaching better than anyone) that this indeed is strongly correlated (faith/obedience).  I wouldn't want to be gambling against that as a Christian, and risking the idea that James is right in saying the demons believe, but my faith is dead if it doesn't lead me into obedience and action, especially given this is the same message given by the other disciples credited with writing the bulk of the New Testament.

Offline muchlove

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2013, 06:04:07 PM »
muchlove

Okay, belief-wise. Here is a question I have. As a non-believer.

  • So what possible reason do I have to start believing one specific religion, and one specific interpretation within that religion?
  • Why should a non-believer believe?
  • I don’t yet know which version of Christianity you adhere to, so I can’t yet be more specific. But why should I believe?
  • And if one religion is true, how the heck am I supposed to sort it out from all the false stories if the true story sounds exactly like the others?

Several questions in there, is there one in particular you'd like me to start with?

Quote
Just to let you know, I’m not the slightest bit interested in personal salvation and living forever, unless someone can prove, by my standards, that toasting forever is definitely my fate. And having seen absolutely no sign that it is, I’m not in the mood to play games based on the minimal chance that any of it is real. Which means that the oft-repeated phrase “But Jesus LOVES YOU” is of no value. You’ll need to think of something else if you want my rumored soul.

So, you're essentially saying that any belief in religion, for you, would have to be motivated out of fear, is this correct?  You're looking for proof of a toasty eternity, and if you find one, then you'd have your motivation for belief (not wanting to toast to death).  So, to some degree, you've already answered a couple of your own questions, at least in part, as they relate to your own requirements for belief.  You would want a religion that can both prove the existence of hell (or similar concept), and offer you exemption from it.  I'm afraid I can't provide you such proof, as I have never seen hell (or heaven) with my own eyes.  Yet, I believe Jesus has more to offer than just a get-out-of-fire pass.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 06:14:57 PM by muchlove »

Offline screwtape

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2013, 07:58:04 AM »
  • Book of 1 John, not John 1.   
sonofabitch.  My mistake.  Much of what I wrote was dependent on my reading of John 1, not 1 John.  Ignore my prior writings.  I'll go back and take a look at that before comenting. 
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2013, 11:36:56 AM »
Yet, I believe Jesus has more to offer than just a get-out-of-fire pass.

Care to name a few things? Things we can test?
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Offline muchlove

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2013, 12:00:21 PM »
Yet, I believe Jesus has more to offer than just a get-out-of-fire pass.

Care to name a few things? Things we can test?

Graybeard,

Probably not things we can test.  Then again, maybe we can?  I'll start with a few things that perhaps we can discuss while I wait for Screwtape to review 1 John to see if he has any additional questions.

A few things Jesus has offered/taught me:
  • Reconciliation
  • Counsel
  • Wisdom
  • Faith
  • Comfort
  • Hope
  • Renewed Purpose
  • Grace
  • Forgiveness
  • Joy
  • Endurance
  • Freedom
  • Knowledge
  • Kinship
  • Love
  • Patience
  • Peace
  • Kindness
  • Gentleness

This is not an exhaustive list, but I'm sure you will find a couple of items in there you'll want to springboard from, or have questions about.

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2013, 12:06:59 PM »
muchlove

Okay, belief-wise. Here is a question I have. As a non-believer.

  • So what possible reason do I have to start believing one specific religion, and one specific interpretation within that religion?
  • Why should a non-believer believe?
  • I don’t yet know which version of Christianity you adhere to, so I can’t yet be more specific. But why should I believe?
  • And if one religion is true, how the heck am I supposed to sort it out from all the false stories if the true story sounds exactly like the others?

Several questions in there, is there one in particular you'd like me to start with?

Sorry for the late reply. I overlooked your response.

First, just a note. If you are going to pull individual questions out of a post like you did above, it is probably better not to use the quote box simply because you are modifying them via the list format. Not a biggie but it confused me for a few minutes. I thought you were quoting someone else accidentally.

I would think you could answer all four in just a paragraph or two. But it would help to know which version of christianity you adhere to so that I don't make silly mistakes like laughingly say you think the ark story is literal when you don't. That sort of thing happens often around here. The more I know about your side of the fence, the better the discussion will be.

You know my side. I'm an atheist. There aren't too many versions of that. Though someone was once asked what kind of atheist he was. Asking what that question meant, the person said something like "You know, are you a christian atheist or a muslim atheist or a hindu atheist?"

We are all of the above. Or at least I am. So where do you stand. Creationism, age of the universe, literal flood, stuff like that. IT helps to know.

Quote
Quote
Just to let you know, I’m not the slightest bit interested in personal salvation and living forever, unless someone can prove, by my standards, that toasting forever is definitely my fate. And having seen absolutely no sign that it is, I’m not in the mood to play games based on the minimal chance that any of it is real. Which means that the oft-repeated phrase “But Jesus LOVES YOU” is of no value. You’ll need to think of something else if you want my rumored soul.

So, you're essentially saying that any belief in religion, for you, would have to be motivated out of fear, is this correct?  You're looking for proof of a toasty eternity, and if you find one, then you'd have your motivation for belief (not wanting to toast to death).  So, to some degree, you've already answered a couple of your own questions, at least in part, as they relate to your own requirements for belief.  You would want a religion that can both prove the existence of hell (or similar concept), and offer you exemption from it.  I'm afraid I can't provide you such proof, as I have never seen hell (or heaven) with my own eyes.  Yet, I believe Jesus has more to offer than just a get-out-of-fire pass.
[/quote]


No, that was allegorical or something. I'm not looking for proof. If it shows up, fine. My issue with religion is not personal. Not in the sense that I'm worried about me. I don't like that part where believers of all sorts shove their beliefs down my throat, all the while insisting that whatever I want is irrelevant. Trying to teach my children creationism in school science classes, for instance. Or trying to pass laws that would keep a raped and pregnant twelve year old from getting an abortion.

I don't have any need to want a religion, but if I did, I would apply the same standards to said religion as I do to the rest of my life. That is, I would prefer one that it is real. Based on an actual god or gods. And contain actual benefits. Not imaginary ones.

I do have to ask. Why is the "real" god of your religion just as invisible as the "fake" gods of all other religions? Why do you have no more to show me as proof than the hindus or muslims or rastafarians? The reason you can't provide any proof is twofold. A) none exists, and B) there is a reason for that. That doesn't involve any gods.

Notice how convenient that is. You get to keep harping on and on about faith, using it as a given, and therefor you can ignore all other factors.

Just like you've been instructed to do.

HHere are a couple of more questions that you can ask if you need to answer in your next post:

If you were going to make up a religion, complete with a god or gods, how would you word it so that it made sense to those who chose to follow you? And how would the story differ, process-wise, from what you currently believe?
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Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2013, 12:22:38 PM »

A few things Jesus has offered/taught me:
  • Reconciliation
  • Counsel
  • Wisdom
  • Faith
  • Comfort
  • Hope
  • Renewed Purpose
  • Grace
  • Forgiveness
  • Joy
  • Endurance
  • Freedom
  • Knowledge
  • Kinship
  • Love
  • Patience
  • Peace
  • Kindness
  • Gentleness

This is not an exhaustive list, but I'm sure you will find a couple of items in there you'll want to springboard from, or have questions about.

All of the above are available via alternative means. Except, perhaps, for faith. Internally. And socially. Which means that when I help an elderly neighbor by carrying firewood into her house for her, I do it because I personally recognize that it is a nice thing to do, not because I am conscious of a jesus or god looking over my shoulder. Yesterday I drove a distraught friend and her injured kitty to the vets, not because someone in a 2,000 year old book told me to, not because it will keep me out of hell, but because I am kind and gentle and understanding.

In my life, I am the source of those things you listed. My non-religious parents taught me well. I taught my children well. Yea, I may be a little weak in the wisdom department, but at least I'm humble.
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Offline muchlove

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2013, 01:18:39 PM »

A few things Jesus has offered/taught me:
  • Reconciliation
  • Counsel
  • Wisdom
  • Faith
  • Comfort
  • Hope
  • Renewed Purpose
  • Grace
  • Forgiveness
  • Joy
  • Endurance
  • Freedom
  • Knowledge
  • Kinship
  • Love
  • Patience
  • Peace
  • Kindness
  • Gentleness

This is not an exhaustive list, but I'm sure you will find a couple of items in there you'll want to springboard from, or have questions about.

All of the above are available via alternative means. Except, perhaps, for faith. Internally. And socially. Which means that when I help an elderly neighbor by carrying firewood into her house for her, I do it because I personally recognize that it is a nice thing to do, not because I am conscious of a jesus or god looking over my shoulder. Yesterday I drove a distraught friend and her injured kitty to the vets, not because someone in a 2,000 year old book told me to, not because it will keep me out of hell, but because I am kind and gentle and understanding.

Absolutely.  From my perspective, if we are made in the image of God, and His law is written on our hearts, then I should expect this.  Yet, I am also driven, at times, by selfishness.  Through Jesus, I have found these things to be more consistently attainable.  It sounds like you have less struggle with these then I do on a personal level, so for me, having the extra help of the Holy Spirit has been a very welcomed help.  We can find "examples" of many of these things via other methods, but rarely have I seen it lived out by so many in the world as compared to what I see Jesus has done on my behalf, and I am inspired, even in these things that come naturally to me, to try and do them better, with a heart of increasing love.  Sometimes I find my motivations for doing some of these things are different than what they should be.

Quote
In my life, I am the source of those things you listed. My non-religious parents taught me well. I taught my children well. Yea, I may be a little weak in the wisdom department, but at least I'm humble.
I am glad you have found all these things in yourself and they influence how you interact with others.  I wish more people, generally speaking, would act with kindness and compassion, and less in selfishness or apathy, or lack of concern for their fellow man.  For me, I feel like Christ has helped me to do these things, but more so, that he has helped to radically change my heart.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 01:31:58 PM by muchlove »

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2013, 02:26:00 PM »
I like it better that my motivation for being a good person is internal, and not from outer space, or wherever you think your god lives. Unlike last weeks grandma, I can't kill my grandkids and tell people that god told me to do it. They'd know I as lying. Knowing that I can't make up excuses helps me be a better person.

Note that we get christians here who ask us why we aren't out killing and raping since we have no morals. Really. We do. I'm hoping you'll tell me that you're not one of those.

Faith in Jesus also allows Pat Robertson and others to blame every frickin' natural disaster on gays. Where is the 1. Reconciliation, 2. Counsel, 3. Wisdom, 5. Faith, 8. Grace, 12. Freedom, 15. Love, 16. Patience, 17. Peace, 18. Kindness and 19. Gentleness in that?

A wisdom challenged person wants to know.

And note that people of other religions are also capable of those things. Is this a case where all gods are equally effective?

I'm still hoping you'll respond to at least some of the four questions you eked out of my first post.



Jesus, the cracker flavored treat!

Offline muchlove

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2013, 02:55:26 PM »
muchlove

Okay, belief-wise. Here is a question I have. As a non-believer.

  • So what possible reason do I have to start believing one specific religion, and one specific interpretation within that religion?
  • Why should a non-believer believe?
  • I don’t yet know which version of Christianity you adhere to, so I can’t yet be more specific. But why should I believe?
  • And if one religion is true, how the heck am I supposed to sort it out from all the false stories if the true story sounds exactly like the others?

Several questions in there, is there one in particular you'd like me to start with?

Sorry for the late reply. I overlooked your response.

First, just a note. If you are going to pull individual questions out of a post like you did above, it is probably better not to use the quote box simply because you are modifying them via the list format. Not a biggie but it confused me for a few minutes. I thought you were quoting someone else accidentally.

Sorry, as I was reading your post, I tried to just pull out the questions in particular.

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I would think you could answer all four in just a paragraph or two. But it would help to know which version of christianity you adhere to so that I don't make silly mistakes like laughingly say you think the ark story is literal when you don't. That sort of thing happens often around here. The more I know about your side of the fence, the better the discussion will be.

I try to adhere to the the example of Jesus Christ in terms of my Christianity.  I realize that isn't "helpful" so I'll try to give you some things that might help you classify me better.

I have attended many different churches in my life, although I grew up in an Assemblies of God church (which is pentecostal / charismatic).  I currently attend a Calvary Chapel, which I believe came into being during the "Jesus movement" back in the mid 1900's under a man named Chuck Smith.  To me, it is less about the church, and more about the people, if that makes sense.  Doctrinally speaking, I have found very little differences (unity) among many churches, despite their behavior or vocal disagreements, at times, with one another.  So, while doctrine is important, I find them quite often unified in what they claim are essential doctrines, although there have also been key differences (reformed for example, which leans more calvinistic).  What I have found, at my current church, is a deep desire among the people there to follow the person of Jesus Christ, despite our differing backgrounds.  I attend this church with people from so many various backgrounds, it's very similar to a "melting pot" of evangelical traditions.  One of the distinctive practices, typical to most Calvary Chapels, is teaching through books of the bible, chapter by chapter, vs. topical teaching.  I have enjoyed that.

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You know my side. I'm an atheist. There aren't too many versions of that. Though someone was once asked what kind of atheist he was. Asking what that question meant, the person said something like "You know, are you a christian atheist or a muslim atheist or a hindu atheist?"

So true :)  Although, I come across many "atheists", who upon dialog, seem to be differing, or leaning slightly agnostic.  I say that only to point out that despite the term atheist being clearly defined, people's self-perceptions or categorizations don't always fit into a perfect box, despite the desire or clarity of the terminology (or lack thereof).

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So where do you stand. Creationism, age of the universe, literal flood, stuff like that. IT helps to know.

Creationism - I believe God created all that is.  How He did this, whether it was 6 literal days, or not, I do not know.  Since I take the Bible to be God's word or "inspired" then I believe this is speaking truth to us.  I recently watched several perspectives on this, each which provided their viewpoints.  To many, several of them sound plausible.  That said, I believe God created in 6 days.  Whether that is 6 days as we understand them (time as measured as a "day" on earth), I do not know.  If it was 6 literal days as we define them from our point of view, then, that would introduce other questions for sure.

Literal Flood - The bible seems to speak of it as such, but we must be careful here.  For example, I can speak of events in stories or movies as if they were real when making an example.  This is just one example of where men on both sides get angry with one another, and yet, where only one is right.  My question in these cases is, how does this affect my relationship with Jesus?  Does it change if the flood is literal?  If so, why?  Does it change if Jesus is referencing a story and drawing a parallel (similar to a parable or as an example)?  If so, why?  Does it change his instruction either way?  Now, if it is made clear that Jesus interprets the flood as indeed literal, then I too, as a disciple who believes he is the Son of God, would also need to take it as literal.  Which, would mean there would have to be alternate evidences or explanations for someone who thinks the flood is mythology.  And, in it all, the possibility would still exist that if Jesus was not the Son of God, then I would also be dead wrong.  The longer I am alive the more I realize how little I "know" about the things I was taught.

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My issue with religion is not personal. Not in the sense that I'm worried about me. I don't like that part where believers of all sorts shove their beliefs down my throat, all the while insisting that whatever I want is irrelevant. Trying to teach my children creationism in school science classes, for instance. Or trying to pass laws that would keep a raped and pregnant twelve year old from getting an abortion.

I get that.  Of course you don't want that, none of us do.  No one ever wants to be told something that goes against what they think or what they want, or what they believe to be right or true, myself included.

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I don't have any need to want a religion, but if I did, I would apply the same standards to said religion as I do to the rest of my life. That is, I would prefer one that it is real. Based on an actual god or gods. And contain actual benefits. Not imaginary ones.
Sure.  Again, this is natural.

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I do have to ask. Why is the "real" god of your religion just as invisible as the "fake" gods of all other religions? Why do you have no more to show me as proof than the hindus or muslims or rastafarians? The reason you can't provide any proof is twofold. A) none exists, and B) there is a reason for that. That doesn't involve any gods.
He's just as invisible to you because you haven't seen Him or known Him.  I think there are many varied reasons for this that would deserve their own thread.  There are many things we can't see or know in nature (at least not yet) but we believe in them because the evidence presented satisfies us.

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Notice how convenient that is. You get to keep harping on and on about faith, using it as a given, and therefor you can ignore all other factors.

Just like you've been instructed to do.

Kind of.  Yes, I talk about it with confidence and belief.  But that comes through my own experience and faith.  It is entirely within the realm of possibility that I could be wrong about many things.  All it takes is Jesus NOT being the Son of God and raised from death, and I am in great error in many things I have put my faith in with confidence.

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HHere are a couple of more questions that you can ask if you need to answer in your next post:

If you were going to make up a religion, complete with a god or gods, how would you word it so that it made sense to those who chose to follow you? And how would the story differ, process-wise, from what you currently believe?

I wouldn't make up a religion.  I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at with this question or the perspective from which you're asking from?

Offline muchlove

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2013, 02:59:50 PM »
I like it better that my motivation for being a good person is internal, and not from outer space, or wherever you think your god lives. Unlike last weeks grandma, I can't kill my grandkids and tell people that god told me to do it. They'd know I as lying. Knowing that I can't make up excuses helps me be a better person.

Note that we get christians here who ask us why we aren't out killing and raping since we have no morals. Really. We do. I'm hoping you'll tell me that you're not one of those.

Faith in Jesus also allows Pat Robertson and others to blame every frickin' natural disaster on gays. Where is the 1. Reconciliation, 2. Counsel, 3. Wisdom, 5. Faith, 8. Grace, 12. Freedom, 15. Love, 16. Patience, 17. Peace, 18. Kindness and 19. Gentleness in that?

A wisdom challenged person wants to know.

And note that people of other religions are also capable of those things. Is this a case where all gods are equally effective?

I'm still hoping you'll respond to at least some of the four questions you eked out of my first post.

As I have time, I will try to address more of your specifics that you have, and I believe it will help you understand me better as well.  I know many atheists seem to express a sincere desire to see what makes theists tick and vice versa. 
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 03:03:46 PM by muchlove »

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2013, 03:20:34 PM »
I like it better that my motivation for being a good person is internal, and not from outer space, or wherever you think your god lives. Unlike last weeks grandma, I can't kill my grandkids and tell people that god told me to do it. They'd know I as lying. Knowing that I can't make up excuses helps me be a better person.

Note that we get christians here who ask us why we aren't out killing and raping since we have no morals. Really. We do. I'm hoping you'll tell me that you're not one of those.

Faith in Jesus also allows Pat Robertson and others to blame every frickin' natural disaster on gays. Where is the 1. Reconciliation, 2. Counsel, 3. Wisdom, 5. Faith, 8. Grace, 12. Freedom, 15. Love, 16. Patience, 17. Peace, 18. Kindness and 19. Gentleness in that?

A wisdom challenged person wants to know.

And note that people of other religions are also capable of those things. Is this a case where all gods are equally effective? 

I'm still hoping you'll respond to at least some of the four questions you eked out of my first post.

I'm not going to try to answer for muchlove but I would like to interject if I may.  You mention that you do good things for internal reasons and not because God commands it.  I think this is what the entire NT is trying to teach.  To me it's message is that the good we do should come from the heart and not because of obeciance to ordinances.  I think a Christian, or anyone else, should help the elderly because they have genuine concern for them.  If you have genuine concern for them then you don't need an ordinace.  You are a law to yourself.  I think this is what the entire NT is trying to teach. 

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Faith in Jesus also allows Pat Robertson and others to blame every frickin' natural disaster on gays. Where is the 1. Reconciliation, 2. Counsel, 3. Wisdom, 5. Faith, 8. Grace, 12. Freedom, 15. Love, 16. Patience, 17. Peace, 18. Kindness and 19. Gentleness in that?

I don't really know much about Pat Robertson so I cannot specifically speak about him.  But I do know that some people give Christianity an unwarranted bad name, at least ib my opinion.  The Bible itself warns over and over that false teachers would arise and lead some of the flock astray.  The Bible even goes to far as to say, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Cor 11:13-15)

So I am curious.  As an atheist, do you ever consider the possibility that some Christians may only be false apostles? 
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 03:23:14 PM by Jstwebbrowsing »
Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Isaiah 43:10

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2013, 04:30:37 PM »
I like it better that my motivation for being a good person is internal, and not from outer space, or wherever you think your god lives. Unlike last weeks grandma, I can't kill my grandkids and tell people that god told me to do it. They'd know I as lying. Knowing that I can't make up excuses helps me be a better person.
Your motivation should be internal, as should mine.  As JWB pointed out, much of Jesus teaching and the NT is clearly oriented toward this goal.  Motivation is key, as it indicates the condition of the heart.  The two greatest commands Jesus gives are to love God and love others.  he goes on to explain that all the law and prophets hang on these two commands.  When we love our neighbor, we automatically don't steal, rape, pillage, murder, etc.

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Note that we get christians here who ask us why we aren't out killing and raping since we have no morals. Really. We do. I'm hoping you'll tell me that you're not one of those.
Clearly you have morals.

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Faith in Jesus also allows Pat Robertson and others to blame every frickin' natural disaster on gays. Where is the 1. Reconciliation, 2. Counsel, 3. Wisdom, 5. Faith, 8. Grace, 12. Freedom, 15. Love, 16. Patience, 17. Peace, 18. Kindness and 19. Gentleness in that?

A wisdom challenged person wants to know.

I don't know much about Pat Robertson and his faith in Jesus.  What I can say is, that the Bible does talk about natural disasters being one of the birth pains present before the return of Christ.  It is common, in our own self-righteousness, to single out the "sin" in others, and to ignore our own.  The example of the pharisee and the tax collector in the synagogue comes to mind (Luke 18).

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I'm still hoping you'll respond to at least some of the four questions you eked out of my first post.
I will attempt to do so.

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2013, 12:48:34 PM »
muchlove,

I just wanted to let you know, I've not forgotten this conversation.  I've had a couple other things going on, but I have been working on a response.  It turned out to be a lot more in depth than I thought it would be.  It is coming, but not before next week.  Hang tight.
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Re: why belief?
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2013, 03:32:22 PM »
I too lost track of this conversation. I will respond this evening when I get a chance.
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Re: why belief?
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2013, 10:21:42 PM »
I would think you could answer all four in just a paragraph or two. But it would help to know which version of christianity you adhere to so that I don't make silly mistakes like laughingly say you think the ark story is literal when you don't. That sort of thing happens often around here. The more I know about your side of the fence, the better the discussion will be.

I try to adhere to the the example of Jesus Christ in terms of my Christianity.  I realize that isn't "helpful" so I'll try to give you some things that might help you classify me better.

I have attended many different churches in my life, although I grew up in an Assemblies of God church (which is pentecostal / charismatic).  I currently attend a Calvary Chapel, which I believe came into being during the "Jesus movement" back in the mid 1900's under a man named Chuck Smith.  To me, it is less about the church, and more about the people, if that makes sense.  Doctrinally speaking, I have found very little differences (unity) among many churches, despite their behavior or vocal disagreements, at times, with one another.  So, while doctrine is important, I find them quite often unified in what they claim are essential doctrines, although there have also been key differences (reformed for example, which leans more calvinistic).  What I have found, at my current church, is a deep desire among the people there to follow the person of Jesus Christ, despite our differing backgrounds.  I attend this church with people from so many various backgrounds, it's very similar to a "melting pot" of evangelical traditions.  One of the distinctive practices, typical to most Calvary Chapels, is teaching through books of the bible, chapter by chapter, vs. topical teaching.  I have enjoyed that.

I understand that church membership can feel very satisfying and provide definite personal and social benefits as well as, of course, doing the Jesus thing. Do note that when we atheists here at WWGHA get in heated discussions with various Christians, we have a heck of a time figuring out where they stand on various key subjects, such as the literal 6 days thing, or the flood, etc. Granted, that isn't too important to someone who is concentrating on the Jesus side of the story (though we get differing stories there as well). But to those of us who are atheists for, among other reasons, the implausibility of the Biblical tales, wishy-washy responses from dedicated Christians are almost as frustrating as those excuses that come from literal bible lovers. So it helps us to know where you stand, wherever that might be. You have answered some of my questions below, and I appreciate that.

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You know my side. I'm an atheist. There aren't too many versions of that. Though someone was once asked what kind of atheist he was. Asking what that question meant, the person said something like "You know, are you a christian atheist or a muslim atheist or a hindu atheist?"

So true :)  Although, I come across many "atheists", who upon dialog, seem to be differing, or leaning slightly agnostic.  I say that only to point out that despite the term atheist being clearly defined, people's self-perceptions or categorizations don't always fit into a perfect box, despite the desire or clarity of the terminology (or lack thereof).

Well, you can expect all sorts of differences in atheists and agnostics, mostly because none of us are the same person. Other than our lack of belief or agnostic stance, we, like Christians, run the gauntlet of people types, personality types, educational levels, political stances, economic status, skin color and sexual preferences. But while we, as individuals, may have a variety of reasons to believe the flood story, for instance, is silly, we have little trouble agreeing on a generic level. So i may have over-simplified what an atheist is. But I can assure you our variation is nothing like the range of beliefs I have been exposed to from Bible believers.

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So where do you stand. Creationism, age of the universe, literal flood, stuff like that. IT helps to know.

Creationism - I believe God created all that is.  How He did this, whether it was 6 literal days, or not, I do not know.  Since I take the Bible to be God's word or "inspired" then I believe this is speaking truth to us.  I recently watched several perspectives on this, each which provided their viewpoints.  To many, several of them sound plausible.  That said, I believe God created in 6 days.  Whether that is 6 days as we understand them (time as measured as a "day" on earth), I do not know.  If it was 6 literal days as we define them from our point of view, then, that would introduce other questions for sure.

Literal Flood - The bible seems to speak of it as such, but we must be careful here.  For example, I can speak of events in stories or movies as if they were real when making an example.  This is just one example of where men on both sides get angry with one another, and yet, where only one is right.  My question in these cases is, how does this affect my relationship with Jesus?  Does it change if the flood is literal?  If so, why?  Does it change if Jesus is referencing a story and drawing a parallel (similar to a parable or as an example)?  If so, why?  Does it change his instruction either way?  Now, if it is made clear that Jesus interprets the flood as indeed literal, then I too, as a disciple who believes he is the Son of God, would also need to take it as literal.  Which, would mean there would have to be alternate evidences or explanations for someone who thinks the flood is mythology.  And, in it all, the possibility would still exist that if Jesus was not the Son of God, then I would also be dead wrong.  The longer I am alive the more I realize how little I "know" about the things I was taught.

Perhaps, if you are going to concentrate only on the Jesus part, where you stand on other issues is of less importance. However, since the Jesus story presumes original sin, it is kind of hard for a believer to accept the evolution of life thing without injecting an Eden somewhere. Tis a minor issue to me, if the believer isn't making too big a deal out of that part of the story. It sounds like you are more into the "Jesus loves me" stuff, which minimizes the need to go into the nitty-gritty details.

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My issue with religion is not personal. Not in the sense that I'm worried about me. I don't like that part where believers of all sorts shove their beliefs down my throat, all the while insisting that whatever I want is irrelevant. Trying to teach my children creationism in school science classes, for instance. Or trying to pass laws that would keep a raped and pregnant twelve year old from getting an abortion.

I get that.  Of course you don't want that, none of us do.  No one ever wants to be told something that goes against what they think or what they want, or what they believe to be right or true, myself included.

If we are in agreement in this area, then I have no quarrel with your religious stance. If you are willing to let public schools teach science and history without trying to interject Genesis into the science class and the "Christian Nation" thing in history class, I'm willing to let you teach any version of anything religious in your church. I'm not necessarily happy about it, but I can live with it.

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I do have to ask. Why is the "real" god of your religion just as invisible as the "fake" gods of all other religions? Why do you have no more to show me as proof than the hindus or muslims or rastafarians? The reason you can't provide any proof is twofold. A) none exists, and B) there is a reason for that. That doesn't involve any gods.
He's just as invisible to you because you haven't seen Him or known Him.  I think there are many varied reasons for this that would deserve their own thread.  There are many things we can't see or know in nature (at least not yet) but we believe in them because the evidence presented satisfies us.

Well, of course I don't know him. He's not real. But I wasn't asking you to compare us. I was asking you why religions of all stripes have the common theme of an unknowable, unseeable god? None have a real dude or dudette standing in front of them during religious services clarifying doctrine. Each of the major religions with a god (Buddhists generally don't claim to have one) base most of their teaching on stuff that happened thousands of years ago. None talk about their god directly testing George Smith in 1868 or talking to John Doe in 1953. None have a prophet who walked the streets of London in 1685 or Paris in 2002. Conveniently, each story is old stuff. All of the stories impossible to confirm. All require faith in some sense. None provide proof, and all justify not having it. Each religion has a history of starting in a small geographic area, and while most versions appeared to die out over time, some took over larger regions, be they Europe, the Middle East or India. Or China. Usually spread by force, the strong religions survived. The weak didn't. And our current religious landscape appears to be the result of historical accidents, not powerful gods.

I'm an atheist because, among other reasons, my grade school teachers were telling me about the obviously false but nonetheless interesting gods of Greece and Rome, presented to me openly as myths. Then I went to Sunday school and was told similar stories about a god and his kid that were presented as real. The similarity was just too strong. How Achilles Heel and Pandoras box is any different than the story of Abraham or Eden or walking on water or talking snakes, walking on water, writing on the wall, pillars of salt, horns blowing down walls, etc. I don't know.

If a real god wants to depend on faith, I suggest he make it faith all the way across the board, and avoid the silly stories that have eleven year olds dissing him big time.

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HHere are a couple of more questions that you can ask if you need to answer in your next post:

If you were going to make up a religion, complete with a god or gods, how would you word it so that it made sense to those who chose to follow you? And how would the story differ, process-wise, from what you currently believe?

I wouldn't make up a religion.  I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at with this question or the perspective from which you're asking from?

My point here was this. Apparently all the non-Jesus religions are made up. Those with gods claim that theirs are invisible Some of them predate Christianity. If your God can't come up with a better way to pass on his standards than to copy the formula used by fake religions, he seems to be lacking a bit in the imagination department. And my point was to get you to think about the sorts of excuses you would have to make to followers of your made up religion as to why your god wasn't showing himself. How would your fake religion be any different than the one you consider real?

You can ignore this last bit if it makes you feel too uncomfortable or something. I have yet to have a Christian respond with any seriousness. I don't expect that to change.

But thanks for your responses. And I apologize about the delay in coming up with this one of my own.

Edit: Fixed quoting problem
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 10:25:04 PM by ParkingPlaces »
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Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2013, 10:42:32 PM »
I like it better that my motivation for being a good person is internal, and not from outer space, or wherever you think your god lives. Unlike last weeks grandma, I can't kill my grandkids and tell people that god told me to do it. They'd know I as lying. Knowing that I can't make up excuses helps me be a better person.

Note that we get christians here who ask us why we aren't out killing and raping since we have no morals. Really. We do. I'm hoping you'll tell me that you're not one of those.

Faith in Jesus also allows Pat Robertson and others to blame every frickin' natural disaster on gays. Where is the 1. Reconciliation, 2. Counsel, 3. Wisdom, 5. Faith, 8. Grace, 12. Freedom, 15. Love, 16. Patience, 17. Peace, 18. Kindness and 19. Gentleness in that?

A wisdom challenged person wants to know.

And note that people of other religions are also capable of those things. Is this a case where all gods are equally effective? 

I'm still hoping you'll respond to at least some of the four questions you eked out of my first post.

I'm not going to try to answer for muchlove but I would like to interject if I may.  You mention that you do good things for internal reasons and not because God commands it.  I think this is what the entire NT is trying to teach.  To me it's message is that the good we do should come from the heart and not because of obeciance to ordinances.  I think a Christian, or anyone else, should help the elderly because they have genuine concern for them.  If you have genuine concern for them then you don't need an ordinace.  You are a law to yourself.  I think this is what the entire NT is trying to teach.

Jst, first of all, I may sound a bit incoherent here. This is one of the first things you've written that hasn't irked me. I have things to say in response, but you did good. I'd ask why but perhaps I shouldn't  ;D

My actions, in the examples I gave, are consistent with what Jesus taught. But they are also consistent with the teachings of many others, including some who were never exposed to Christianity in their lifetime. Buddha, for instance. And Confucius. I contend that the ability to be good to one another, to follow golden rules and treat neighbors well and love in useful ways, etc. is built into humans. I contend the religions know these truths but want to claim them as their own. Though I'm not actually a saint, I do things like help my neighbors, etc. because I am a nice guy. I am one who wants to help others instead of letting them suffer while I conveniently play video games. But when people aren't under the pressure of starvation, internecine warfare, climate-induced disasters or otherwise having bad days, they are easily capable of being good to one another, and themselves, without imagined external forces, such as those supplied by religion. Note that people can still be nice when the whole world is falling around them too. Its just a little harder.

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Faith in Jesus also allows Pat Robertson and others to blame every frickin' natural disaster on gays. Where is the 1. Reconciliation, 2. Counsel, 3. Wisdom, 5. Faith, 8. Grace, 12. Freedom, 15. Love, 16. Patience, 17. Peace, 18. Kindness and 19. Gentleness in that?

I don't really know much about Pat Robertson so I cannot specifically speak about him.  But I do know that some people give Christianity an unwarranted bad name, at least ib my opinion.  The Bible itself warns over and over that false teachers would arise and lead some of the flock astray.  The Bible even goes to far as to say, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Cor 11:13-15)

So I am curious.  As an atheist, do you ever consider the possibility that some Christians may only be false apostles?
[/quote]

We agree on this one. Except you use the word "some" where I would use the word "all". Not in conjunction with "false apostles" so much, Rather, that all religions that involved gods and superpowers and great promises and exclusivity are false. So while some Christians are clearly over the top (all mormons, the Pat Robertsons, the Falwells, the Bakers, snake handlers, anyone who won't take their kid to a doctor, etc.), even those that are a bit more grounded in reality and less egocentric are still wrong. As an atheist, I cannot see it any other way. If I ever change my mind, however, I'll do my best to join up with a group that hasn't previously insulted my intelligence with the silliest versions of Christianity.

Think I'll give you a karma point for not irritating me. I consider that progress.
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Re: why belief?
« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2013, 10:39:29 AM »
Screwtape,

Interesting questions.  Some I can answer, some I cannot.  I'll start with this one since time is limited.  In this case, belief is equated with obedience.  They are not interdependent of one another.  Obedience validates belief.

Why do you think Jesus has such a profound need for human obedience?  If he could actually create a hundred billion galaxies with a thought, what could he possibly gain from human obedience that he couldn't just will into being? 

If we look at every other known example of an obedience-based relationship, there are basically two reasons the dominant being desires the obedience: 1) For the safety of the obedient party, and 2) To gain wealth, power, status, pleasure, and possessions that the dominant party cannot produce, or cannot produce easily for themselves.  The first case pertains to relationships like parent and child (but this is temporary, until the child grows up, or at least gets old enough that the parent can explain why they shouldn't touch a hot stove), or government and citizen (traffic laws, etc.).  It doesn't really apply to the case of Jesus, because the danger to be avoided is the everlasting fury of Jesus himself, which just returns us to the original question.  Why should Jesus be eternally seething with rage and demanding torture for humans who practice the wrong sort of mating habits, or eat shrimp wrapped in bacon in 50 B.C.E.? 

So now we're left with the second option.  Examples of this abound.  A Pharaoh needs obedient subjects because without them, that pyramid he wants ain't gettin' built.  Without them, he doesn't have an army, or a palace, or hundreds of sexy concubines, or gold and jewels, or the status of the Living Horus, Son of the Sun, a god on Earth.  Without obedience, a Pharaoh isn't a Pharaoh, he's just one more guy.  So, his motives for demanding obedience, and punishing disobedience to the extent of his abilities are obvious and easy to understand.  The same thing applies to many other collectors of obedience--CEO's, dictators, kings, popes, tribal chieftains, generals, etc..  Without it, they can't achieve even a fraction of the power (ability to accomplish their goals), wealth, status, strength (i.e. military force at their command), etc. that they have with it.  If you try to imagine a Pharaoh with omnipotent magic power that costs no effort to wield, then his need for obedience disappears.  He can snap his fingers and create a far better palace, pyramid, or temple than all the humans in the world could possibly produce for him. 

Applying this to Jesus then, the very fact that he is said to require human obedience as his absolute top priority, and react with literally infinite rage if it is not forthcoming, is compelling evidence that he is not metaphysically omnipotent and complete-in-himself.  The fact that Jesus never shows up to bask in the praises he's given, or scoop the money out of the collection plates, or live in the beautiful cathedrals built for him is another clue.  Who does show up to collect the proceeds of the obedience Jesus demands?  Human beings.  For that matter, whence cometh the very notion that there's such a thing as a "Jesus," and the claim that he demands obedience on pain of everlasting torture?  Texts, written by men (none of which was Jesus himself--it's all written by other people), copied, re-copied, and re-re-copied--by men; translated, re-translated, and re-re-translated--by men; interpreted for us--by men, the very men who get the benefits of all the obedience in Jesus' place.  It's human beings all the way down.

Kinda makes the answer to the "Why does Jesus need obedience?" riddle seem rather obvious, don't you think?

Edit: Grammar.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 10:43:01 AM by kcrady »
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Re: why belief?
« Reply #22 on: March 10, 2013, 06:48:30 PM »
Oh yeah, one more thing: the fact that belief in the existence of Jesus is the first, and perhaps foremost of the things being commanded ought to set off every skepticism alarm you have, to the point that it all but qualifies as proof of atheism.[1]  Obviously, Jesus cannot be the source of such a command.  If he were to appear in my living room and say in his Big, Booming Voicetm "I hereby order you to believe that I exist!" *thunderclap*...well, that would be as unnecessary as it is silly.  If he could show up to issue the command, the command would no longer be necessary.  His existence would be self-evident.  Instead, the command to believe in Jesus comes from the same men everything else to do with Jesus comes from.

So, we have a situation where some man shows up and says, in effect, "I order you to believe in Jesus."  Which means we would be obeying him, rather than his putative Jesus figure.  Which is precisely the point.
 1. With regard to Jesus, or any other deity that we are called upon to believe is real as a matter of obedience rather than accuracy.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #23 on: March 10, 2013, 06:53:00 PM »
goddammit, Kcrady, now my whole response is just going to look like a pointless waste of time.

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #24 on: March 10, 2013, 07:00:33 PM »
Yet, I believe Jesus has more to offer than just a get-out-of-fire pass.

Care to name a few things? Things we can test?

Graybeard,

Probably not things we can test.

I thought not.

Quote
Then again, maybe we can?  I'll start with a few things that perhaps we can discuss while I wait for Screwtape to review 1 John to see if he has any additional questions.

A few things Jesus has offered/taught me:
  • Reconciliation
  • Counsel
  • Wisdom
  • Faith
  • Comfort
  • Hope
  • Renewed Purpose
  • Grace
  • Forgiveness
  • Joy
  • Endurance
  • Freedom
  • Knowledge
  • Kinship
  • Love
  • Patience
  • Peace
  • Kindness
  • Gentleness

This is not an exhaustive list, but I'm sure you will find a couple of items in there you'll want to springboard from, or have questions about.

These things fall into the category of "Things that you think Jesus has taught you."

Which ones do you think I lack?

Of the ones that you think I have, how did I get them?
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 07:05:54 PM by Graybeard »
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Re: why belief?
« Reply #25 on: March 12, 2013, 01:09:15 PM »
Sorry my reply took so long.  Too many irons in the fire.

Okay, I read 1 John and it reminded me why I know the OT – specifically the Pentateuch – so much better than the NT.  The NT is endlessly tedious.  And you obviously have a much better handle on it than I do.  But I see it as an opportunity to help me shore up a weakness.

When I originally wrote this, I included a comprehensive commentary on 1John.  It was very long and mostly off topic. So I have excluded it.  I may post it elsewhere as a stand alone thread, which you are welcome to participate in.  But it will not be in the Shelter because I had a hard time containing my contempt for John.

Here is the point of discussion:
I find it interesting, however, that Jesus himself sets the requirement of belief to be obedience in 1 John.

First of all, this isn’t jesus talking.  It is John.[1]  And we’re not even sure which John.

Anyway, chapter by chapter:
1 John 1
I did not find the word “believe” here in any form nor anything that addressed our conversation. It says god is light here.
 
1 John 2
It starts to deal with obedience at 2:3:
Quote
3 Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. 4 Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; 5 but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.

This links knowledge, obedience and love.  The word “know” is ginosko, which is about understanding and knowledge.  It is related to Gnostic and gnosis.  It would be a stretch to equate this with belief. 

The word believer comes up at 2:11, but the word is “adelphos” which is more commonly used as “brother”.  Granted, xians referred to each other as brother, and so I understand that this is not strictly a familial meaning and probably applied to all xians.  But the idea we are looking at is belief and how it correlates to obedience.  So for that study, I do not think this applies.

I think this verse also applies to our conversation:
Quote
2:17 And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.

Here is it explicit about what you have to do: obey.  It is not ambiguous nor does it use words that have to mean what they otherwise would mean.   

Because the bible is a collection of writings that have conflicting and contradictory messages, there is a mixed message.  For sure you can find where one apostle or another says you have to obey.  Clearly.  It is right above.  You also cited other quotes in your reply to me.  But none of them directly link belief and obedience.  And it appears there were others who said belief was all you needed.  The equivocation of belief and obedience strikes me as an attempt to forge coherence out of an incoherent anthology.


1 John 3
Way down in 3:23 is the word “believe”. Pisteuo. Context does not imply obedience.

1 John 4
First sentence has “believe” in it.  Pisteuo.  “Do not believe every spirit.”  Context does not imply obedience. 

4:16 believe = pisteuo Context does not imply obedience.

It also says god is love here. So good= light=god=love.

1 John 5
Now we’re talking. 
Believe appears a lot here:
5:1 pisteuo.  Context does not imply obedience
5:2-3  “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments.”

This equates obedience and love in a way similar to they way you are equating belief and obedience.  It uses metaphorical language that really only serves to muddle the lexicon. If we add your calculus to it - belief = obedience - then we have belief = obedience = love = god = light = good.  When any of these words are used, it is impossible to know what they mean or what the author intended. It says light, but does it mean a light or does it mean good or god or what?

The difficulty this muddled lexicon presents was mentioned before – being an anthology, not every biblical writer was writing on the same page as all the others.  When one guy says belief, there is no guarantee the next guy was even aware of his particular interpretation.

This is also relevant because one of the longstanding problems I have had in discussions with xians is the ambiguity of the language they use, specifically regarding the word “faith”.[2]  Not coincidentally, 5:4 includes a mention of faith as do some of your other references.  By the way, those other references only mentioned faith, not belief.  That would be a shifting of meaning I talk about here and in my Faith essay.[3]

5:5 pisteuo.  Context does not imply obedience
5:10 pisteuo used three times.  Context does not imply obedience.  It talks about believing testimony.
5:13 pisteuo.  Context does not imply obedience


So, here we are at the end of the first epistle of John and I’m not convinced that when NT writers say you have to believe in god they mean you have to obey his rules.  Sure, there are many writers who said you have to obey.  But I see nothing that equates it to belief.

You also mentioned john 3 and Paul.  I’m discounting Paul out of hand.  He was a fraud and never knew jesus.  The reports of his alleged meeting with jesus are in conflict and, quite frankly, completely fantastical.  That anyone ever took him seriously is just a testament to human credulity and makes me sad.

John 3:36
You specifically said the word was “apeitheo”.  However, it is the only time in that whole chapter that particular word is used. 

3:12 – twice, both times pisteuo.
3:15 – pisteuo
3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life”  so popular at football games.  Pisteuo. 

In 3:18 it uses “believe” three times, using pisteuo all three.  The verse:
“Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

This and 3:16 are almost identical to 3:36:
“ Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.”
Pisteuo and then apeitheo

Why was this different?  Why are 3:16 and 18 not the same as 36?  Why does 3:18 not give the exact same message given just 18 verses later?  My answer – because they came from different writers with different ideas. Most scholars agree.[4]

And to get into apeitheo a bit.  It’s root is peitheo, which is “to persuade” or “to convince”.[5] So apeitheo is failure to be convinced.  Not necessarily to disobey.

Sorry, muchlove.  I do not find your claim convincing.  I suppose that makes me apeitheo.


I did my best to make this Shelter worthy.  I depend on the community to regulate me.  If anyone finds this post overly agressive, please let me know.  I will withdraw from the Shelter.


edit apeithe? --> apeitheo
 1. well, not really.  Most scholars think it was about 3 different people who wrote the gospel of John. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship
 2.  http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,10690.msg240850.html#msg240850
 3. And xians rely on that fluidity and ambiguity.  If a part of the bible is questionable, well there are enough metaphors within the bible for them to “adjust” the meaning to suit their taste. Problem with a passage in Numbers? Oh, well, there is a different meaning in Matthew, so just go ahead and assume it means something the author of Numbers never could have possibly conceived.
 4.  ibid
 5.  http://perseus.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/cgi-bin///morphindex?lang=greek&lookup=pei%2Fqeo&bytepos=89780&wordcount=1&embed=2&doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0133
« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 10:55:21 AM by screwtape »
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Re: why belief?
« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2013, 10:08:50 AM »
Graybeard,

Probably not things we can test.  Then again, maybe we can?  I'll start with a few things that perhaps we can discuss while I wait for Screwtape to review 1 John to see if he has any additional questions.

A few things Jesus has offered/taught me:
  • Reconciliation
  • Counsel
  • Wisdom
  • Faith
  • Comfort
  • Hope
  • Renewed Purpose
  • Grace
  • Forgiveness
  • Joy
  • Endurance
  • Freedom
  • Knowledge
  • Kinship
  • Love
  • Patience
  • Peace
  • Kindness
  • Gentleness

I have taken the liberty of bolding the three elements of your list that represent testable claims.  Most Christian theologians would assert that Jesus has three qualities when it comes to his cognitive faculties:

1) Omniscience: he knows everything; his knowledge has no limits.
2) Infallibility: none of the things he thinks he knows is in error; he can't be wrong.
3) Perfect honesty: he literally cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18).

Now let's take a brief detour.  Human and chimpanzee DNA differ by only a few percent of the whole (about 2 or 3 percent is unique to humans).  Yet, humans have vastly superior cognitive abilities.  Now, imagine a person whose DNA differed from ours by a similar amount, and whose mind was to ours as ours are to those of chimpanzees.  For such a person, the most difficult mathematics we can grapple with would be like '2+2=4.'  For them, Mozart's greatest and most elaborate compositions would be like 'Chopsticks.'  For them, our most profound philosophical thought would either be obvious, or ridiculous (depending on whether it's accurate or not).

Imagine then, if I told you that for one hour each day, I could soup my brain up to such a level.  Would you consider that to be a testable claim?  By "testable," I mean, that other people ought to be able to anticipate consequences in reality that would be different if the claim is accurate, vs. what they ought to expect if it is false.  In other words, even with only an hour a day with superhuman cognitive abilities, you should be able to anticipate that I could produce results that would leave not just some humans, but all humans slack-jawed with awe.  Would you agree?  If you asked for a demonstration of my superhuman cognitive ability, and I tried to offer some reason or other why I could not produce any unambiguously superhuman results with it (even a sonnet that would make everyone weep with rapturous joy), wouldn't you agree that this would falsify my claim?  In short, that there ought to be observable differences, in reality, between "Kcrady has this ability" and "Kcrady does not have this ability"?  And that if I cannot provide any demonstrable difference, then "Kcrady does not have this ability" is the rational option for you to accept?

Now let us return to your claim that Jesus gives you counsel, wisdom, and knowledge.  Given the traits of Jesus' cognitive faculties I've listed above, even my superhuman abilities (if I had them) ought to pale to nothing compared to what Jesus gives to you.  Any decision you make in accordance with the counsel, wisdom, and knowledge Jesus gives you would not only be infallible, it would be maximally advantageous toward whatever goal you're aiming for.  You, and anyone with comparable access to Jesus ought to have an enormous (arguably infinite) advantage over us unaided humans when it comes to decision-making and navigating through life.  You Christians should be superheroes by comparison! 

Even if Jesus limits the flow of knowledge he offers, as long as some of your decisions come from a place of infallible omniscience, you should be able to measurably achieve things we unaided mortals can't.  Now, I think you'll have to agree with us that Christians, yourself included, do not have this kind of measurable advantage over non-Christians.  So would you agree then, that given the nature of the claim and the state of the observable evidence, that we ought to reject your assertion as false?
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Offline kaziglu bey

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Re: why belief?
« Reply #27 on: March 13, 2013, 12:09:37 PM »
Even if Jesus limits the flow of knowledge he offers, as long as some of your decisions come from a place of infallible omniscience, you should be able to measurably achieve things we unaided mortals can't.  Now, I think you'll have to agree with us that Christians, yourself included, do not have this kind of measurable advantage over non-Christians.  So would you agree then, that given the nature of the claim and the state of the observable evidence, that we ought to reject your assertion as false?
Another brilliant post kcrady. I would like to add one thing though which you didnot mention, and that Jesus himself promised that his true followers, would in fact have these types of superpowers: moving mountains, healing the sick with a touch of the hands, handling snakes and drinking deadly concoctions with no ill effects, etc. Given that Jesus promises these things, and given the argument you have presented here, I see a few possibilities, none of them good for anyone who calls themselves a Christian:
1. There are not any true followers of Jesus, and those who say that they are True Followers are, in fact, false prophets.
2. Jesus was not telling the truth.
3. Jesus was not of divine origin.
4. Jesus was not real.
5. Jesus was wrong.

Jesus' promises would lead us to include that his followers would indeed have a noticeable, measurable, demonstrable advantage over the rest of us, at the very least some of the time, but they NEVER do. Or as you say, " be able to measurably achieve things we unaided mortals can't. " Hell, the fact that the two richest guys ever (Gates and Buffet)don't believe in God seems to demonstrate that pretty soundly.
Seriously though... What would happen if the Great Green Arkleseizure didn't fram up the rammastam before the hermite curve achieved maximum nurdfurdle velocity? Now THAT would be something. AmIrite?